Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/107

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73
LIFE IN THE CAPITAL

which it is not likely would long preserve its authority."

An interesting sidelight is thrown upon the Elizabethan barber shop by Mr. H. C. Hart, the latest editor of Measure for Measure, who seems to have discovered the correct interpretation of the above passage. After giving a list of passages referring to barbers and their shops, he says:

"Many other votaries of St. Cuthbert (Cutbeards) might be mentioned, but nowhere is there even an illusion, that I have met, that could be construed into a reference to any kind of bye-laws. …

"But there is one kind of forfeit which the barber took possession of from his customers and hung up as part of his insignia in his shop, and that was their teeth. For the barber was the dentist of the time. These were the innocuous forfeits that could mock, not mark. In the first act (I. iii. 19) these neglected statutes have already suggested the metaphor: 'We have strict statutes, and most biting laws. … Which for this fourteen years we have let sleep.' If it be objected that these shop fittings cannot be called forfeits, since the idea of penalty is not present, no doubt Cutbeard would reply if the sufferers had visited him earlier their teeth would have been