THE CITY AND THE CIVIL WAR
THE City entered upon a war which was to linger on for eight years, in the firm conviction that it would be finished in a few months. The men who went out to fight expected to be back again in their shops and their workrooms before long. This belief, while it stimulated the enlistment of fighting men and forbade the contemplation of distress and bankruptcy in case the war should continue, caused very grave discontent when it became evident that a long struggle was before the country.
I propose in this chapter to illustrate the condition of the City during this period from contemporary authorities not, I hope, already too well known.
As is natural at such a time, the City was full of dangers on account of suspicion. The experiences of James Howell when he was arrested as a spy show how perilous it was to go abroad in the streets:--
"I was lately come to London upon some occasions of mine own, and I had been divers times in Westminster Hall, where I conversed with many Parliamentmen of my Acquaintance, but one morning betimes there rushed into my Chamber five armed Men with Swords, Pistols, and Bills, and told me they had a warrant from the Parliament for me; I desired to see their Warrant, they denied it; I desired to see the date of it, they denied it; I desired to see my Name in the Warrant, they denied all. At last one of them pulled a greasy Paper out of his pocket, and shewed me only three or four names subscribed, and no more; so they rushed presently into my Closet, and seized on all my Papers and Letters, and anything that was Manuscript; and many printed Books they took also, and hurl'd all into a great hair Trunk which they carried away with them. I had taken a little Physic that morning, and with very much ado they suffered me to stay in my Chamber with two Guards upon me, till the evening; at which time they brought me before the Committee for examination, where I confess I found good respect; and being brought up to the Close Committee for examination, I was ordered to be forthcoming, till some papers of mine were perused, and Mr. Corbet was appointed to do it. Some days after, I came to Mr. Corbet, and he told me he had perused them,