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REUBEN APSLEY.

from being completely eradicated, even in our own days.

All the bugbears and chimeras with which he had ever been assailed, rose up in array before the merchant as he trudged along Holborn, and imagined that he saw, in this resolution of the King, a determination to force Popery down the throats of his subjects with the point of the bayonet. Alarmed as he was for his country and his religion, he was still more so for the security of his property. He had been a considerable sufferer by the iniquitous shutting up of the Exchequer in the year 1672; and not doubting that the new King would resort to a similar measure for the mere pleasure of robbing his Protestant subjects, his heart sunk within him as he recollected the amount of the tallies in his possession, and he hurried down to the office by the river side to ascertain whether

open.

Here

every thing wore its customary appearance; but his fears were no sooner a little tranquillized in this quarter, than, with all the anxiety of wealth, he hastened to the India House and the Royal African Com

it

yet remained

pany, to inquire the price of his stock in those respective establishments, and left them with a heavy heart when he learnt that both were considerably lower than on the previous morning.

The appearance of Cornbill, as he returned along it, did not tend to exhilarate his spirits : there was but one hackney-coach upon the stand, of which the horses and driver were all asleep; the few passengers that were moving about seemed to be pinched and soured by the cold; the street was a mournful mass of mud, and a gloom of noxious and smothering fog began to re-invest the City in its customary evening shroud. In the Exchange he found the same solitude and stillness ;-all was now deserted. King Charles and his brother monarchs of stone, dimly seen through the yellow muddy air, seemed to stand sad and sedate upon their реdestals, although their ears had so lately been assailed with consonants and gutturals from the Dutch and German walks, as well as with the intermingled hubbub of Jews and gentiles, and all the confused gabble of their bargain-driving subjects. As the hollow arcades echoed to his

18

REUBEN A PSLEY.

solitary footsteps he began to contemplate the prudence of preventing any further losses and of securing his large property by retiring from business and purchasing an estate in the country. That the King's well-known disposition to introduce Popery and arbitrary power would produce some political convulsion he did not entertain a doubt: it was impossible to say where the storm would burst, what property would be confiscated, whose life would be sacrificed; but at all events terra firma was a better security than stock or merchandize, and the country less likely to be the scene of popular commotion or Popish massacre than the capital. “ When Ahab saw the little cloud coming up from the sea," muttered the merchant to himself,

although it was no bigger than his hand, he mounted his chariot, and fled away before the storm came on; I will imitate his example, for I have seen enough to assure me that the thunder is not far off.”

Delivering himself of a loud “hem !” as if in complacent approbation of this resolve, he drew a lump of sugar from his waistcoat to re

usual alternative of coughing, sneezing, tread

having been tried in vain, they contrived to launch the ledger down the sloping desk, from whose acclivity it fell with the velocity of an avalanche, and quickly rousing him

" like a rattling peal of thunder," occasioned

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aruit his spirits, and with his horn-headed cane
under his left arm, while his right hand con-
trud unconsciously jingling the guineas in his
breches pocket

, he sauntered musingly down
Bartholomew Lane, and turned into his count-
inz-house in Throgmorton-street. Here he was
deply absorbed for a considerable time in ex-
ezining invoices and bills of parcels, or turning
over the leares of his great ledger, with a view
to the collection of his debts, and the general
hading up of his affairs, until the fatigue of
ti long walk in the morning occasioned him to
dara

, and at length fall fast asleep upon his stred An established etiquette prohibiting his derts from departing unless they had received onders to that effect, they had recourse to their

se upon nuts, and rattling the door in the bope of arousing him. All these expedients

20

REUBEN APSLEY.

the impatient varlets to be dismissed for the night. Isaac himself having carefully secured his safe and his strong room, as well as the locks, bolts, and bars of his mansion, and ex. amined the cellar for fear of gunpowder, placed a pair of loaded pistols, his protestant flail, and his silk armour by his bed-side, and thus entrenched betook himself shortly after to rest.

On the following morning, his fears revisited him with unabated violence; but at the same time his habitual distrust of all news gathered upon 'Change, which he had found by experience to be often invented for interested pur. poses, suggested to him that he might have been too hasty in believing what he had heard, and he resolved, at all events, not to sell any

of his Exchequer tallies till he had received ocular demonstration of the rumoured enormity. True, the King had ordered Huddleston, the priest who attended the late monarch in his last moments, to make a public declaration of his having died in the Romish faith; and he had published, in his own name, two papers found in the royal strong box, and written in his brother's hand, in favour

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