Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/512

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


386
THE ELIZABETHAN PEOPLE

mouth. It may surprise some readers to know that table knives as a distinctive instrument only came into use in England about the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth; and that the fingers were used as main assistants till 1611, when forks were first introduced by Thomas Coryat, who had seen them in use in Italy.

It is hardly necessary to mention pots, flagons, and tankards of all shapes and sizes, and in all kinds of ware. But one other article of table furniture is of interest. Toothpicks had been recently introduced. In those days, when cleanliness of the body was as little thought of as was the sanitary condition of the house, the advent of the toothpick was really a mark of advanced civilization. The Elizabethan susceptibility to fads caused the generation to "take up" toothpicks. They were ostentatiously carried by all. They were frequently made of gold with jeweled cases. And to pick one's teeth in public became as surely the mark of a gentleman as to talk the rubbish set in vogue by Lyly's Euphues.

In the bedroom we find heavy four-posted beds, very massive in construction and frequently carved. There was a canopy above the bed, and curtains permitted the inhabitants to sleep absolutely independent of ventilation. The page of the master or mistress usually slept upon a low