Page images

rate. Walker had been the Lord Protector's limner, and had, until lately, been much employed.

" Painters need never trouble their noddles with politics,” said Walker; and he steered his course, like old Vandevelde, protected alike from the thunder of all parties. For, as Barlowe used to say, “ Brother Bob's heart is in the right place, and his purse


open to round head and cavalier alike, so that the client be worthy."

The sign being completed, it was carefully dispatched to mine host, guarded by slips of deal nailed in front, fresh from the easel, ready to be exalted on the coming day, accompanied with a peremptory message that it should not be opened until Walker came down to mine host at night, for it was determined by the party to go to the Devil to supper.

Meanwhile old Walter Waller trudged home, interrupted every ten yards by some d-d goodnatured friend, to acquaint him of his misfortune. The propagators, however, were not upon oath, for the old griping bibliopolist was the scorn and hatred of all the neighbourhood. The shopkeepers, looking over their half-doors,

[ocr errors]

all the way up Ludgate hill, had a wipe at him. “ So, sister Abigail has made a notable morning's work of it, Master Waller,” said one. “ Any common prayers to sell ? ” said another, in mockery

« How


debentures to-day ? " cried a third ; this was a cutting question for the old bibliopolist, who had been a scandalous dealer in these securities, for which he had been « hauled over the coals." The heartless old huncks ran the gauntlet all the way home. Even the begging prisoners, from the grated window of Ludgate, assailed him with, “ There goes the old extortioner!” When, instead of finding his house entirely demolished, as he had been led to suppose, he found a guard of soldiers at the door, and his intrepid sister Abigail at the open casement over the shop, which had not a square of glass a-whole, defending herself against the reproaches of the mob, with that invincible weapon a virago's tongue.

Old Waller, elbowing his way through the crowd, planted himself right before his shop, putting on his nose-glasses, and measuring the amount of the damage; when, observing his copartner thus exposed, and witnessing the controversy, he called out, “ Depart from the window, sister Abigail. What, in the name of the Lord, hast thee been doing, sister Abigail ? "

Doing ! " echoed the remorseless Independent, doing of that mischief to another unwittingly which I intended should have 'lighted on thy head, thou apostate.

This curse is brought upon thy dwelling place by thy profane dealings with that blaspheming Jew.”

“ Sayest thou so, Abigail ? 0! 0! Now take you notice of this, good people, neighbours and friends. Old Burton, Prynne, and Bastwick have put this mischief into her head.I'll swear the peace against thee, sister Abigail. Hey! what will nothing suffice thy fanatical wrath but the blood of thy brother! thy tender, kind, forbearing brother?”

“ Out! thou hypocrite ! thou slinking, doublefaced apostate."

“ Church and king, old Jesabel,” cried the apprentices.

“ Confusion to the church, a hatchet for the king, and a halter for all city apprentices," retorted Abigail, nothing daunted at the taunts of the populace.


66 Treason! treason !” vociferated the mob. Treason, you old beldam.”

« Take notice, good people, friends, and neighbours,” bawled old Waller, “ take notice, these are no sentiments of mine."

“ Thou liest, thou hypocrite!” exclaimed Abigail, “ thou knowest thou art a traitor at heart; thou Judas, thou betrayer, him called Iscariot. Out upon thee! vile turn-coat, thou time-server; any thing to get thy own neck out of the halter.”

“ I'll tell thee what, sister Abigail, if thou dost not put a guard on thy dangerous tongue, thou wilt get thy neck into a halter. Refrain, refrain, Abigail ; see, our house, the house of our father, is beset-only kept from rack and ruin, through thy evil temper, by military force. Depart from the window: and do you, good people; I conjure you to begone-depart. I pr’ythee depart: now pr’ythee disperse quietly," pressing his extended arms, with a sort of civil force, upon the front of the mob.

« Now do depart, for this is a dangerous breach of the peace, and I would fain that no farther mischief ensues.”

“ A murrain take the military,” exclaimed the enraged fanatic, stretching her neck out at the window. “ I command you, hireling soldier-men, to depart; I need none of your protection. Depart, ye caterpillars, ye profane men of war. Go-depart—and guzzle and hail your satyr-faced sot of a king.”

“ Hear, hear!” cried the city apprentices; “ down, down with the house. Come out, you traitorous old hag; come out with you:” and a simultaneous advance was made towards the premises, when old Waller, rushing up to his steps, cried, “ Soldiers, if they attempt violence, do you do your duty.”

6 Let them come on, the brawlers,” vociferated mistress Abigail, opening her arms, and turning up the whites of her eyes, and working herself up to the high pitch of puritanical phrenzy, as if she felt herself inspired; when, in the cant of the conventicle, with a nasal twang, mixed with the shriek of a peacock, she began: “Balak the king of Moab, hath brought me from Aram out of the mountains of the East, saying, Come curse me Jacob, and come defy me Israel."

« PreviousContinue »