Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/451

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345
DOMESTIC LIFE

of this increased safety of social conditions there was general shifting of population. Contemporary authorities lament the sad decay of the principal towns, and look upon the fact as an indication of the abatement of national prosperity. It is easy for us to see now that this was not at all the case. The decay of towns was but a natural result of this shift of population. The greater safety of life that obtained throughout the kingdom fostered in many persons the desire to move from the larger walled towns to the smaller unwalled towns, or to the rural districts. This change occasioned much new building, little of which, however, is associated with that distinctive "style" that characterises the larger manor-houses built later in the reign of Elizabeth. By this time national prosperity was so great that it affected everything. The decay of towns was arrested, and building began to go on in the cities as rapidly as elsewhere throughout the kingdom.

This fact brought about an interesting situation in London. To us, who are used to the great metropolis of which "The City" and "Westminster" are but integral parts, it is a difficult task to imagine the situation when London and Westminster were rival centers of population, separated by green hills and parks, and joined by but a single row of widely separated palaces.