Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/72

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garments. They also peddled ballads. These doggerel verses commemorated the events of the day, and are the forerunners of the modern newspapers. Pictures and almanacs, the latter full of prognostications, political as well as meteorological, were a part of the pedlar's stock in trade. The retired, often bankrupt soldier, strolling jugglers, wandering minstrels, and troupes of travelling actors were plentiful during the summer months, and were always sure of a warm welcome in the baronial hall.

As illustrative of life in a country town let us glance for a moment at the birthplace of Shakespeare. Stratford in early times possessed a famous guild, so famous that people from all parts of England were glad to become members of the Holy Cross. Not Stratford merchants alone, but nobles and even kings, were part and parcel of this time-honoured institution, from whose records we derive much of our information concerning ancient Stratford. If one can dissociate mountains and the sea from one's idea of natural beauty, Warwickshire leaves nothing to be desired. "The heart of England," as Drayton calls it, lies in the centre of the lowlands. It is a flat country, but not monotonously flat, the roads bordered with hedges, and the fields teeming with wild-