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small grains of gold, that a man might in a day's time with care and application, get together to the value of half a crown, I make no question but we should find several people employed there, that can with ease earn five shillings a day at their proper trades.
Many are the idle stories told of the private success of some people, by which others are encouraged to proceed; and the astrologers, with whom the country swarms at this time, are either in the belief of these things themselves, or find their advantage in persuading others to believe them ; for they are often consulted about the critical times for digging, the methods of laying the spirit, and the like whimsies, which renders them very necessary to,
much caressed by, the poor deluded money-hunters.
There is certainly something very bewitching in the pursuit after mines of gold and silver and other valuable metals and many have been ruined by it. A sea-captain of my acquaintance used to blame the English for envying Spain their mines of silver, and too much despising or overlooking the advantages of their own industry and manufactures. For my part, says he, I esteem the banks of Newfoundland to be a more valuable possession that the mountains of Postosi ; and when I have been there on the fishing account, have looked at every cod pulled up into the vessel as a certain quantity of silver ore, which required only carrying to the next Spanish port to be coined into pieces of eight; not to mention the national profit of fitting out and employing such a number of ships and seamen.
Let honest Peter Buckram, who has long without success, been a searcher after hidden money, reflect on this, and be reclaimed from that unaccountable folly. Let him consider, that
stitch he takes when he is on the shop board is picking up part of a grain of gold, that will in a few days time amount to a pistole; and let Faber think the same of every nail he drives, or every stroke with his plane. Such thoughts
may make them industrious, and of consequence in time they may be wealthy. But how absurd it is to neglect a certain profit for such a ridiculous whimsey : to spend whole days at the Georgic, in company with an idle pretender to astrology, contriving schemes to discover what was never hidden, and forgetful how carelessly business is managed at home in their absence : to leave their wives and a warm bed at midnight (no matter if it rain, hail, snow, or blow a hurricane, provided that be the critical hour) and fatigue themselves with the violent exercise of digging for what they shall never find, and perhaps getting a cold that may cost their lives, or at least disordering themselves so as to be fit for no business beside for some days after. Surely this is nothing less than the most egregious folly and madness. I shall conclude with the words of
discreet friend, Agricola, of Chester County, when he gave his son a good plantation : -“ My son,” says he, “ I give thee now a valuable parcel of land ; I assure thee I have found a considerable quantity of gold by digging there; thee mayst do the same: but thee must carefully observe this, Never to dig more than ploughdeep."
LETTER TO JOSIAH QUINCEY.
Passy, Sept. 11th, 1783.
Mr. Storer told me not long since, that you complained of my not writing to you. You had reason; for I find among your letters, two unanswered. The truth is, I have had too much business to do for the public, and too little help allowed me; so that it be, came impossible for me to keep up my private correspondence. I promised myself more lejenre when
the definite treaty of peace should be concluded. But that, it seems, is to be followed by a treaty of commerce, which will probably take up a good deal of time and require much attention. I seize this little interim to sit down, and have a little chat with my friends in America.
I lament with you the many mischiefs, the injustice, the corruption of manners, &c. &c. that attend a depreciating currency: It is some consolation to me that I washed my hands of that evil, by predicting it in Congress, and proposing means that would have been effectual to prevent it, if they had been adopted. Subsequent operations that I have executed, demonstrate that my plan was practicable. But it was unfortunately rejected. Considering all our mistakes and mismanagements, it is wonderful we have finished an affair so well and so soon! Indeed, I am wrong in using that expression. We have finished our affairs so well--nor blunders have been many, and they serve to manifest the hand of Providence more clear. ly in our favor, so that we may much more properly say, “ These are thy doings, O Lord, and they are marvellous in our eyes !”
Mr. Storer, whom you mention to me, is now in England. He needed none of the advice
desired me to give him. His behaviour here, was unexceptionable, and he gained the esteem of all that knew him.
The epitaph on my dear and much esteemed young friend, is too well written, to be capable of improvement by any corrections of mine ; your moderation appears in it, since the natural affection of a parent has not induced you to exaggerate his virtues. I shall always mourn his loss with you, a loss not easily made up to his country.
How differently constituted was his noble and generous mind from that of the miserable calumniators you mention! Having plenty of merit in himself, he
was not jealous of the appearance of merit in others, but did justice to their characters with as much pleasure, as these people do injury : It is now near two years since your friendship induced you to acquaint me with some of their accusations. I guessed easily at the quarter from whence they came ; but conscious of my innocence, and unwilling to disturb public operations by private resentment or contentions, I passed them over in silence, and have not till within these few days taken the least step towards my vindication. Informed that the practice of abusing me continues, and that some heavy charges are lately made against me, respecting my conduct in the treaty, written from Paris, and propagated amongst you, I have demanded of all my colleagues that they do me justice, and I have no doubt of receiving it from each of them. I did not think it necessary to justify myself to you, by answering the calumnies you mentioned. I knew you did not believe them. It was impossible that I should at this distance combine with any body to urge the redemption of the paper on those unjust terms, having no interest in such redemption.
was im. possible that I should have traded with the public money, since I have not traded with any money, either separately or jointly with any other person, directly or indirectly, to the value of a shilling, since my being in France. And the fishery which it was said I had relinquished, had not then come in question, nor had I ever dropped a syllable to that purpose, in word or writing; but was always firm in this principle, that having had a common right with the English to the Fisheries while connected with that nation, and having contributed equally with our blood and treasure, in conquering what had been gained from the French, we had an undoubted right in breaking up our partnership, to a fair division. As to the two charges of age and weakness, I must confess the first; but I am not quite so clear in the
latter; and perhaps my adversaries may find thai they presumed a little too much upon it when they ventured to attack me.
But enough of these petty personalities--I quit them to rejoice with you in the peace God has blessed us with, and the prosperity it gives us a prospect of. The definitive treaty was signed the 3d. We are now friends with England, and with all mankind. May we never see another war! for in my opinion, there never was a good war, or a bad peace. Adieu, and believe me ever, My dear friend, Yours most affectionately,