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BY EDWARD McDERMOTT.
ILLUSTRATED WITH TWENTY ENGRAVINGS,
WILLIAM KENT & CO. 86, FLEET STREET,
(SUCCESSORS TO DAVID BOGUE.)
OW pleasant are the ideas which are associated with "the merrie days of England ;" and how strikingly do they contrast with our experience of the present time! Turn aside for a moment from the records of the misdeeds of haughty Plantagenets; the desolating wars of York and Lancaster; the terrible misfortunes of the Stuarts; the sanguinary conflicts of Towton, of Bosworth, or of Naseby; and even amid these darker scenes of our history, abundant evidence is afforded that England was in truth "a merrie England."
Our fathers fought manfully and earnestly at Cresiy and at Agincourt; they worked well and nobly as they piled up castle, and abbey, and groined cathedral; but the strife for existence was not so keen, nor the struggle of competition so fierce then as now. At break of dawn and close of day, at the early blush of May-tide, amid the bleak winter of Christmas, there were heard from the hill-sides and valleys of old England the joyous shouts of a contented and a happy people. The peasant in his humble abode, the young trading Guilds of the towns, the noble in his mansion, the baron in his castle, the monk in his abbey, and the courtier that applauded the king's jester in the palace, were gay and light-hearted;—men laughed and women smiled, and minstrels fang, and all fared well in "the merrie days of England."
Pale students, deeply read in their Hallams, their Humes, and their Rapins, tell us that there were no railways, no electric telegraphs, and no leviathan steamers in the " olden time." Alas! we know it; and we read too that there were then no commercial panics, nor monster workhouses, nor some other of the types of modern times, and products of this iron and progressive age. And yet our fathers lived