Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/30

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curacy in the drawing of character because he makes an intelligent man subject to a foolish credulity. Or, may we not more profitably say, that credulity was not then so foolish as it is to-day?

"The nature of an Englishman," says Sir Thomas Smith in 1621, "is to neglect death, to abide no torment; and therefore he will confess rather to have done anything, yea, to have killed his own father, than to suffer torment; for death, our nation is free, stout, haughty, prodigal of life no place shall you see malefactors go more constantly, more assuredly, and with less lamentation to their death than in England. The nature of our nation is free, stout, haughty, prodigal of life and blood; but contumely, beating, servitude, and servile treatment, and punishment it will not abide. So in this nature and fashion, our ancient princes and legislators have nourished them, as to make them stout hearted, courageous, and soldiers, not villains and slaves." (P.97, ed. 1621.)

"The nature of Englishmen is to neglect death." That is Sir Thomas's way of expressing disregard of life. To one of us, who may live a lifetime without seeing a man die a violent death, nothing is so difficult to comprehend as the Elizabethan callousness to bloodshed. Life with them