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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/860

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ning of the seventeenth centuries. An evidence of it may perhaps be found in the silver-list of Gabrielle d'Estrée in 1599, which included twenty forks. There was a society of fops connected with the court of King Henri III of France, who were distinguished for their ultra-refined notions concerning manners and dress, and were called Mignons. The king himself, who invented a new kind of starch for his collars, was in sympathy with them. The ways of this circle were ridiculed in a satirical pamphlet called the "Island of the Hermaphrodites," which was published in the earlier years of the seventeenth century. The custom of eating with forks was held up to scorn in this publication; stress was laid upon the accidents that it was presumed would happen to those who had not become adepts in the use of the instrument; and it was thought funny that, when it came to washing the hands after eating, they should be found not to have been soiled.

The custom seems to have extended by way of Italy to Germany, France, and England. Coryate, an English traveler, relates in his "Crudities," published in 1611, that he had thought it best to follow the Italian fashion of cutting meat with the aid of the fork, not only while he was in Italy, but also in Germany, and even after he had returned to England. "The Italians and also many foreigners residing in Italy," he says, "use a little fork when they cut meat at their meals. While they cut with the knife, which they hold in one hand, they hold the meat firm in the dish with the fork, which they hold in the other hand; and any one who should unthoughtedly touch the dish from which they were all eating, with his fingers, would give offense, and be accused of violating good manners."

The fork did not rapidly come into general use, even in the higher ranks. An English writer, Heylin, mentioned it in 1652 as something that had been taken up by the elegants. It is remarked in a "Nouveau traité de la civilité, qui se pratique en France parmi les honnestes gens" ("New Treatise on Civility as it is practiced in France among Well-bred People"): "When one takes from the dish, he should wait till his superiors have been served; he should also select once for all what he is to take, for it is impolite to put the hand into the dish twice, and still more so to move it around seeking for piece after piece." Louis XIII adopted the fork, but his queen, Anne of Austria, who had been brought up at the Spanish court, never could accustom herself to it, and always used her fingers, although she was very proud of her pretty hands. A verse is cited from the "Muse historique" in 1651, which indicates that departures from the old fashion of eating were still exceptional at the French court; and a pair of verses, of about the same period, contrast the old way with the new.

One of the most active agents in introducing the fork to polite