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to the ruining of themselves and families, and volunta rily endure abundance of fatigue in a fruitless search after imaginary hidden treasure. They wander through the woods and bushes by day, to discover the marks and signs; at midnight they repair to the hopeful spots with spades and pickaxes; full of expectation, they labour violently, trembling at the same time in every joint, through fear of certain malicious demons, who are said to haunt and guard such places. At length a mighty hole is dug, and perhaps several cartloads, of earth thrown out; but alas, no cag or iron pot is found ! no seaman's chest cramed with Spanish pistoles, or weighty pieces of eight! Then they conclude, that through some mistake in the procedure, some rash word spoke, or some rule of art neglected, the guardian spirit had power to sink it deeper into the earth, and convey it out of their reach. Yet, when a man is once thus infatuated, he is so far from being discouraged by ill success, that he is rather animated to double his industry, and will try again and again in a hundred different places, in hopes at last of meeting with some lucky hit, that shall at once sufficiently reward him for all his expence of time and labour.
This odd humour of digging for money through a belief, that much has been hid by pirates formerly frequenting the river, has for several years been mighty prevalent among us ; insomuch that you can hardly walk half a mile out of the town on any side, without observing several pits dug with that design, and perhaps some lately opened. Men, otherwise of very good sense, have been drawn into this practice, through an overweening desire of sudden wealth, and an easy credulity of what they so earnestly wished might be true. While the rational and almost certain methods of acquiring riches by industry and frugality are neglected or forgotten. There seems to be some peculiar charm in the conceit of finding money; and if the sands of Schuylkil were so much mixed with small
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grains of gold, that a man miglit 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 wliich others are encouraged to proceed ; and the astrologers, with whom the country swarms at this time, are either in the belief of tliese things themselves, or find their advantage in persuading others to believe them; for they are often consulted about the critical times for digging, the metliods of laying the spirit, and the like whimsies, which renders them very necessary to, and very 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 seacaptain of my acquaintance used to blame the English for envying Spain their mines of silver, and too much dispising 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 than 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 cers tain 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 seainen. Let honest Peter Buckram, who has long without success, been a searcher after hidden money, reHect on this, and be reclaimed from that unaccountable folly. Let bim consider, that every 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 ne. glect a certain profit for such a ridiculous whimsey : to spend whole days at the George, 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 (10 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 fol. ly and madness.
I shall conclude with the words of my 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 go dig more than ploughdeep."