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was at this time, we believe, viear of Burnham in Buckinghamshire. He was not at all in the dotage of age (as might indeed be presumed from his vigour in cudgelling), being only fifty-two years old. He was a favourite companion and correspondent and intimate friend of the fastidious Horace Walpole, of the poet Gray, and other distinguished men of the period. He left to the British Museum one hundred folio volumes of MSS., all neatly written with his own hand; enjoining that they were not to be opened till twenty years after his death.
Thomas Coryat's story about the use of forks in Italy, and his introduction of those cleanly and convenient implements into England, whereby, and "for no other cause," he obtained the nickname of Furcifer, is very generally known. The following description of fans by the same odd, fantastic traveller, which goes to prove that paper fans were not used in England at the time of his tour (1608), and that we borrowed them as well as forks from the Italians, has been less noticed.
"Here I will mention a thing, that altho' perhaps it will seeme but frivolous to divers readers that have already travelled in Italy, yet because unto many that neither have beene there, nor ever intend to go thither while they live, it will be a meere novelty, I will not let it passe unmentioned. The first Italian fannes that I saw in Italy did I observe in this space betwixt Pizighiton and Cremona; but afterwards I observed them common in most places of Italy where I travelled. These fannes both men and women of the country doe carry, to coole themselves withall in the time of heat, by the often fanning of their faces. Most of them are very elegant and pretty things. For whereas the fanne consisteth of a painted piece of paper and a little wooden handle; the paper, which is fastened into the top, is on both sides most curiously adorned with excellent pictures, either of amorous things tending to dalliance, having some witty Italian verses or fine emblems written under them; or of some notable Italian city, with a briefe description thereof added thereunto. These fans are of a meane price, for a man may buy one of the fairest of them for so much money as countervaileth our English groate."— Coryat's Crudities.
In the south of Italy men still continue to use the fan, and in hot weather one may often see a captain of dragoons, moustached and " bearded like the pard," fanning himself with all the graces and dexterity of a young coquette. The fans in general use are not such " elegant and pretty things" as Coryat found; but such as they are, an active trade is carried on in them by old men and little boys, who hawk them about the streets, and always take their stand by the doors of the theatres and coffee-houses when the evening is particularly close and melting.
London: Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.