Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/63

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39
COUNTRY LIFE AND CHARACTER

planned in advance. When the time came, the Queen and all her court, accompanied by numerous dignitaries, trains of baggage, and hosts of curious wayfarers, made "progress" through the land. In spite of the improvements in the roads they were oftentimes in such poor condition that this ponderous parade could move but a dozen miles a day. Thus the progress ostensibly occasioned by a single royal visit would eventually involve a score, with, in addition, elaborate civic receptions in honour of the Queen whenever she approached the vicinity of a city of her realm.

The streets of London were poorly paved, many not paved at all. The Strand was a mud lane. On the occasion of a queen's progress through the city, Cheapside and other streets traversed were copiously strewed with gravel. In going from east to west the people avoided as much as possible the unruly streets and resorted to the great popular avenue of travel, the river Thames. The river was not then the filthy race it is to-day. "Silver-streaming" is Spenser's epithet, and Barnfield alludes to "Thy christal billowed waves." "That lady of fresh waters," as a writer of 1608 calls the river, abounded in beds of beautiful water flowers and in flocks of snow-white swans. Used as it was as a thoroughfare, it swarmed with watermen. Their wherries were