Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/86

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fairs were in such a state of confusion, that a petition was signed by all the principal men of Stratford and forwarded to the King. Happily, it received favourable consideration. The Guild was reconstituted under the name of the Corporation and given full municipal power. The grammar school was again opened, and a new era for Stratford began.

This, then, is the Stratford in which Shakespeare spent his youth. "It is essential for the student of the social history of Stratford," says Mr. Sidney Lee, "to grasp clearly the leading differences between life in the sixteenth and in the nineteenth centuries, and of the first importance is it to realise how little personal liberty was understood in Elizabethan country towns. Scarcely an entry in the books of the new council fails to emphasise the rigidly paternal character of its rule. If a man lived immorally he was summoned to the Guildhall, and rigorously examined as to the truth of the rumours that had reached the bailiff's ear. If his guilt was proved, and he refused to make adequate reparation, he was invited to leave the city. A female servant, hired at a salary of twenty-six shillings and eighteen pence and a pair of shoes, left her master suddenly in 1611. The aldermen ordered her arrest on her master's complaint. Her defence was that 'she was once