Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/54

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In dress the Elizabethans were equally imitative. They borrowed fashions from the continent and developed them at home. A glossary of terms connected with dress would reveal instantly the continental origin of many of the most used garments.

Along with all this was a youthful exuberance of spirit that may be considered as a fourth national characteristic—or, perhaps, the one characteristic that involves all the others. We may liken it to youthfulness, to the opposite of that enervated state we name blasé. England for centuries had remained practically unchanged, or had followed the slow and ponderous march of mediæval civilisation. Suddenly, at the introduction of the new learning, England awoke with all the ardour of young blood, all the eagerness of childhood.

They were lusty wooers, those Elizabethans. They believed, with a naive effort to outdo one another in accepting without question the new and the strange. They discovered a delightful habit—as the writing of a sonnet, or the wearing of a ruff—and proceeded to carry it to an extreme almost unthought of. They fought fiercely, and they played with terrible energy. Even hospitality and philanthropy existed to a degree, certainly the former and possibly the latter, unknown even today in London, that city of free givers to the