Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/100

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CHAPTER III

LIFE IN THE CAPITAL

AS I have elsewhere made an attempt to describe topographically the city of London, I shall now merely suggest the appearance of the town, dwelling more at length upon a few features of the social life that I have not treated elsewhere.

London was then not only the capital but also the only influential city on a large scale in the kingdom. It was the guiding centre at the time, and exerted a far more dominating influence over the country at large than it does to-day. An Elizabethan could not grow up happily unless he was able to make the acquaintance of the great city. One went there and only there to try one's fortunes; and one frequently came home ruined in body and soul, for London was, indeed, in those days, a monstrous den of vice.

Yet it was an attractive city; not too small, nor yet so large as to preclude a general knowledge on the part of one individual of the private affairs of his neighbour. We should not overlook the

fact, when contemplating the Elizabethan drama, that both actor and audience, meeting day by day,

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