Those (and they are at present the majority) who take their notion of the Elizabethan age principally from the drama will find it difficult to agree that its world picture was ruled by a general conception of order, for at first sight that drama is anything but orderly. However, people are beginning to perceive that this drama was highly stylised and conventional, that its technical licenses are of certain kinds and fall into a pattern, that its extravagant sentiments are repetitions and not novelties; that it may after all have its own, if queer, regulation. Actually the case is such as I have described in my preface: the conception of order is so taken for granted, so much part of the collective mind of the people, that it is hardly mentioned except in explicitly didactic passages. It is not absent from non-didactic writing, for it appears in Spenser’s Hymn of Love and in Ulysses’s speech on “degree” in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. It occurs frequently in didactic prose: in Elyot’s Governor, the Church Homily Of Obedience, the first book of Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, and the preface to Raleigh’s History of the World. Shakespeare’s version is the best known. For this reason and because its full scope is not always perceived I begin with it.