THE HISTORY OF GEORGE BARNWELL
BY GEORGE LILLO
Learn to be wise from others' harm,
And you shall do full well.
Old Ballad of The Lady's Fall.
A room in THOROWGOOD'S house.
Enter THOROWGOOD and TRUEMAN.
TR. Sir, the packet from Genoa is arrived.
THOR. Heav'n be praised! The storm that threatened our royal mistress, pure religion, liberty and laws, is for a time diverted: the haughty and revengeful Spaniard, disappointed of the loan on 5 which he depended from Genoa, must now attend the slow return of wealth from his new world to supply his empty coffers ere he can execute his purposed invasion of our happy island; by which means time is gained to make such preparations on our part as 10 may, heav'n concurring, prevent his malice, or turn the meditated mischief on himself.
TR. He must be insensible, indeed, who is not affected when the safety of his country is concerned. Sir, may I know by what means -- if I am too 15 bold --
THOR. Your curiosity is laudable. And I gratify it with the greater pleasure, because from thence you may learn how honest merchants, as such, may sometimes contribute to the safety of their coun 20 try, as they do at all times to its happiness; that if hereafter you should be tempted to any action that has the appearance of vice or meanness in it, upon reflecting upon the dignity of our profession you may, with honest scorn, reject whatever is unworthy 25 of it.
TR. Should Barnwell, or I, who have the benefit of your example, by our ill conduct bring any imputation on that honorable name, we must be left without excuse. 30
THOR. You compliment, young man. (TRUEMAN bows respectfully.) Nay, I'm not offended. As the name of merchant never degrades the gentleman, so by no means does it exclude him; only take heed not to purchase the character of complaisant at 35 the expense of your sincerity. But to answer your question. The bank of Genoa had agreed, at excessive interest and on good security, to advance the King of Spain a sum of money sufficient to equip his vast Armado; of which our peerless Elizabeth 40 (more than in name the mother of her people) being well informed, sent Walsingham, her wise and faithful secretary, to consult the merchants of this loyal city, who all agreed to direct their several agents to influence, if possible, the Genoese to break their 45 contract with the Spanish court. 'Tis done; the state and bank of Genoa, having maturely weighed and rightly judged of their true interest, prefer the friendship of the merchants of London to that of a monarch who proudly styles himself King of 50 both Indies.1
TR. Happy success of prudent councils! What an expense of blood and treasure is here saved! Excellent queen! Oh, how unlike those princes who make the danger of foreign enemies a pretence to op 55 press their subjects by taxes great and grievous to be borne.
THOR. Not so our gracious queen, whose richest exchequer is her people's love, as their happiness her greatest glory. 60
TR. On these terms to defend us is to make our protection a benefit worthy her who confers it, and well worth our acceptance. -- Sir, have you any commands for me at this time?
THOR. Only look carefully over the files to 65 see whether there are any tradesmen's bills unpaid; if there are, send and discharge 'em. We must not let artificers lose their time, so useful to the public and their families, in unnecessary attendance.