"when unlettered people grow fearful, they fall back on old superstitions."
Quill pen and ink
Creative Commons AttributionQuill pen and ink - Credit: Svadilfari on Flickr

Unlettered means illiterate. In Elizabethan times literacy levels were much lower than today. Working class boys would start working from an early age rather than attend school; education tended to be restricted to the rich. Most school pupils were boys; wealthy girls might be taught at home by a tutor or governess, as well as learning from their mother how to run a household.