Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/282

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unique use to which lute strings broken upon the instruments in the barber shops were put is alluded to by Ben Jonson, where he desires one "to draw his own teeth and add them to the lute string."[1] Every barber shop provided lutes and zitterns for the amusement of waiting customers. Most barbers in those days were also surgeons on a small scale, whose chief surgical duty was the extraction of teeth. It was their habit to tie the successfully drawn teeth closely together upon lute strings, which were then hung out by way of a sign—a mode of display that in a slightly altered form has survived to the present day in London. Lute playing was often made the point of reference to imply a high degree of effeminancy. Thus Tamberlaine chides:

". . . Bewrays they are too dainty for the wars.
Their fingers made to quaver on a lute.
Their arms to hang about a lady's neck."[2]

The virginals consisted of an instrument much like the piano in appearance, but smaller. When the keys were struck, small quill picks twanged the strings which gave out a high note without much volume. Virginal playing was a necessary accomplishment for young women. Elizabeth herself was an adapt on the virginals, a fact that forms the subject of one of Melville's most

  1. The Silent Woman, iii, 2.
  2. The Second Part, i, 3,