Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/115

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79
LIFE IN THE CAPITAL

pipe of tobacco?" was the customary equivalent of "Have a drink?" In fact, the phrase "drinking tobacco" was in use.

"I did not as you barred gallants do,
Fill my discourse up drinking tobacco."

(Chapman, All Fools, ii. 1.)

Dishonest tradesmen, gossiping barbers, and adulterating tobacconists were not the only evil elements in the popular London life.

More than once in the present volume attention has been called to the credulity of the Elizabethans, and its effect on the national character. It was the tendency to believe in the marvelous that made the age one of fortune telling and prophecy. Palmistry, alchemy, and astrology were probably then more popular than they have ever been before or since. The fact that the practice of these professions was frowned upon by the authorities, coupled with their mysterious nature, tended to make them dear to the Elizabethan heart. The very nature of these so-called arts was especially tempting to dishonest people. London swarmed with quack astrologers and alchemists who have become through lineal descent the bunco men of to-day.

It is not the purpose of the present chapter to set forth an exposition of the serious beliefs per-