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The Golden Grasshopper A story of the days of Sir Thomas Gresham   By: (1814-1880)

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The Golden Grasshopper; a story of the days of Sir Thomas Gresham, by W.H.G. Kingston.

This book was originally published in 1870, under the title of "The Royal Merchant". As there were sundry things that needed changing, the book was edited and re issued under the title of "The Golden Grasshopper". Kingston, the author, was in the last few months of his life while this was being done, so the work was done by some of his various ghosts, but with Kingston's approval.

The tale is told through the eyes of a Dutch boy, Ernst Verner, whose parents had been put to death in Holland for their Protestant faith.

It was a difficult time in England, for, between the Protestant sovereigns, Edward the Sixth, and Elizabeth, there were a few years under the Catholic Queen, Mary, during which very many people were put to death for their Protestantism. Most people did their best to pay lip service to whoever was the current ruler, while keeping their own beliefs to themselves.

The boy, Ernst has a recommendation to the great Sir Thomas Gresham, a merchant so important at the time that many of his initiatives persist to this day. He is sent to Saint Paul's School, which still exists, though not now in the centre of the City of London.

He makes friends with another boy, A'Dale. From here on the story becomes very convoluted, either because the boys are trying to do things they have been ordered to do by Sir Thomas, or because they are being pursued by a Romish priest, who had taken a major dislike to them as they were not paying due attention while he was saying Mass at Saint Paul's Cathedral. We realise what a major barrier the English Channel was in those days, with the short distance sometimes taking but a few hours, and at other times several days, perhaps even with loss of life.




In the year of Grace 1551, Antwerp was not only the chief city of the Netherlands, but the commercial capital of the world. Its public buildings were also celebrated for the elaborate carving of their exteriors, for their richly furnished interiors, and for their general architectural beauty.

In one of the principal streets of that city there stood a handsome house, the property of that wealthy and highly esteemed merchant Jasper Schetz. In a private room, the walls richly adorned with carving and tapestry, sat at a dark oak writing table a gentleman in a black velvet suit, having a black cap of the same material on his head. On a high backed chair near him hung his cloak and rapier, while at his side he had a short dagger, with a jewelled hilt, ready for use. He was still young, but his features were grave, and his brow full of thought. His figure was tall and slight, though perhaps somewhat too stiff to be graceful. He was evidently a person of note, one more accustomed to guide men by his counsels, perhaps, than to command them in the field rather a financier or diplomatist than a military commander. Another person was in the room, standing at a high desk at a little distance. He was a somewhat older man than the former, shorter in figure, and more strongly built. His countenance also exhibited a considerable amount of intelligence, as well as firmness and decision of character.

"Write to their lordships, Master Clough, that I have secured a loan from Lazarus Tucker of 10,000 pounds for six months, with interest at the rate of 14 per cent, per annum. Acknowledge that the rate is somewhat high, but the loan could not be procured for less. Say I have paid over to our good friends Schetz Brothers the sum of 1,000 pounds, according to the command of the King, as an acknowledgment to them for the last loan which they obtained for his Majesty... Continue reading book >>

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