Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/311

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to each of the guard a mouthful to eat of the particular dish he bad brought, for fear of any poison. During the time that this guard, which consists of the tallest and stoutest men that can be found in all England, being carefully selected for this service, were bringing dinner, twelve trumpets and two kettle drums made the hall ring for half an hour together. At the end of all this ceremonial, a number of unmarried ladies appeared, who, with particular solemnity, lifted the meat off the table, and conveyed it into the Queen's inner and more private chamber, where after she had chosen for herself, the rest goes to the ladies of the Court."

It is interesting to set beside this a description of the more sociable kind of state dinner enjoyed by Elizabeth's successor, King James. The description is from the pen of Juan Fernandez de Velasco, Ambassador of Philip III. to England in 1604.[1]

"The audience chamber was elegantly furnished, having a buffet of several stages, filled with various pieces of ancient and modern gilt plate of exquisite workmanship. A railing was placed on each side of the room in order to prevent the

  1. The account is published by Rye, p. 118, and is preceded by an engraving illustrative of a similar banquet given by the king.