Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/343

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and its merchants had largely prospered. London had good cause to be loyal to Elizabeth, and her constant care of the interests of commerce is one explanation of her tortuous policy. She knew that war on a great scale meant a check to industrial enterprise, whereas grave misunderstandings with foreign powers were a useful means of developing it.

But we must return to London itself and the life of its 250,000 inhabitants. The most striking difference from our own time was that villadom was unknown. The merchant lived over his place of business; the apprentices were lodged on part of the same premises. There was no great division of quarters. Noblemen, gentry, professional men, and men of business all lived in the same street, and shared a common life. The streets were not very wide, nor very commodious for traffic. The most important of them was Cheapside, renowned as "the beauty of London". It was broad enough to form a promenade, and was the fashionable resort. You must think of it as lined with shops which projected into the street and were open in front. Above them rose houses, built in the manner which we usually call Elizabethan, of timber and plaster. They were three, or at the most four storeys high, and each storey projected over the lower one. This mode of building was dangerous, as it was too clearly proved later, in case of fire; and proclamations were constantly made commanding that the fronts should be built of brick; but these wise counsels were of no avail.

In a street of some width, the effect was doubtless