Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/354

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        Whose heads stood in their breasts? which now we find
        Each putter out on five for one will bring us
        Good warrant of.

"Each putter out on five for one" is a phrase which illustrates the gambling spirit which was rife. Ben Jonson set forth the traveller's scheme: "I am determined to put forth some five thousand pounds, to be paid to me five for one upon the return of myself, my wife and my dog from the Turk's court in Constantinople. If all or either of us miscarry on the way, 'tis gone: if we be successful, why there will be five and twenty thousand pounds to entertain time withal." You will see that commercial speculation is no novelty.

Such a spirit of adventure and speculation craved for notoriety, and consequently created an informal society which had its seat in places of public resort The life of the tavern became varied and animated, and we can appreciate its extent and influence, as well as its attractiveness in the case of Falstaff. We know the Boar's Head in Eastcheap, near London Stone, and the Mermaid in Cornhill from the dramatists; and there was a host of others. There adventurers could float themselves without credentials, and sharpers could secure their victims. There travellers, soldiers and seamen could relate their wondrous adventures. There men of every class could mix and interchange opinions. "A tavern," says a contemporary, "is the common consumption of the afternoon, and the murderer or maker-away of a rainy day. . . . It is the busy man's recreation, the idle man's business, the melancholy man's sanctuary, the