Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/193

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145
CELEBRATION OF THE CALENDAR

are to Englishmen. New Year's Day, St. Valentine's Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, and a score of others would be known to every school child; yet many a person of education might pause over the location of Epiphany, or even Shrove-Tuesday, and how often would a book of names be called to the assistance when it is a question of St. George and the Dragon or St. Crispan; and few of us know that so much of our daily conversation at an afternoon tea is but a tribute to the influence of St. Swithin. All this is different in England. Yet the difference in this respect between our familiar associations and those of Englishmen is no greater than the difference between the association of Englishmen of to-day and the Englishmen of three centuries ago.

Shakespeare lived at a time when the Roman Catholic calendar had not gone altogether out of fashion, and scarcely at all out of memory. All its days were still remembered, and some that were the distinctive property of the Roman Church were still observed in Protestant England as of old. There were numberless others common to both churches, and yet others, associated wholly with the new, making altogether a total of which we have little conception.

The reader of the present volume will probably find its main value in the assistance it lends to the