Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/17

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xiii
INTRODUCTORY

dark underground cave to the palace of light and air, from the slow jog-trot of the pack-horse to rapid transit by train and motor, from the hopelessness of separation to constant communication. Much is necessarily omitted, but those who can read between the lines will find the evolution of many things that are vital in the life of to-day.

Perhaps one of the most striking points in the study of material progress is the sturdy opposition experienced in every age to inevitable advance—an inability to perceive the true nature of progress. Thus, with the substitution of chimneys for the old hearth fire, we get Holinshed (1571) groaning over the new-fashioned idea which sent smoke up a given channel instead of allowing it to escape through any chance crack in the roof; while Slaney waxed indignant that oak had taken the place of willow, exclaiming in his wrath, "Formerly houses were of willow, and men of oak; nowadays houses are of oak, and men of willow." The sighs of Evelyn are well known. The ideal days were past when men courted and chose their wives for their modesty and homely virtues rather than for their fortune; when the daughter wore the selfsame kirtle, gown, and petticoat in which her mother had been wedded, and a steady mare