Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/194

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appreciation of Elizabethan literature. What such a reader should constantly bear in mind is the Elizabethan familiarity with all these proper names. The student of to-day who pauses over an enthusiastic passage in Henry V. to look up St. Crispan meets with a delay that, had it been possible three hundred years ago, would have caused Shakespeare to omit the allusion. Richard III., in swearing by St. Paul, is using the name of a very familiar saint and friend. The mention of Shrove-Tuesday meant to the Elizabethans far more than pancakes; and St. George's Day was to them like the Fourth of July. Elsewhere a similar change in the popular relation to superstition and folklore belief is called to the attention of the reader. In both cases we should remember constantly that many of these allusions that have passed completely out of our ready and every day memory were still fresh and vital to the common audience of Shakespeare.

The year was ushered in and ushered out by the same set of festivities, for the Yule-Tide celebration began long before Christmas and extended to Twelfth Day. Both this and New Year's Day, as falling within this period, are described below at the end of the chapter. Though several days of minor importance were connected with annual celebration early in the year, a sort of popular