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pains to write a key to the letter in my Number IV., wherein he has ingeniously converted a gentle satire upon tedious and impertinent visitants, into a libel on some of the government. This I mention only as a specimen of the taste of the gentleman I am, forsooth, bound to please in my speculations; not that I suppose my impartiality will ever be called in question on that account. Injustices of this nature I could complain of in many instances; but I am at present diverted by the reception of a letter, which, though it regards me only in my private capacity as an adept, yet I venture to publish it for the entertainment of my readers.
To Censor Morum, Esq., Busy-Body General of the Province of Pennsylvania, and the Counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex upon Delaware.
UI judge by your lucubrations, that you are not only a lover of truth and equity, but a man of parts and learning and a master of science; as such I honor you. Know, then, most profound Sir, that I have, from my youth up, been a very indefatigable student in and admirer of that divine science, astrology. I have read over Scot, Albertus Magnus, and Cornelius Agrippa, above three hundred times; and was in hopes, by my knowledge and industry, to gain enough to have recompensed me for my money expended and time lost in the pursuit of this learning. You cannot be ignorant, Sir, (for your intimate second-sighted correspondent knows all things) that there are large sums of money hidden under ground in divers places about this town, and in many parts of the country; but, alas, Sir, notwithstanding I have used all the means laid down in the immortal authors before mentioned, and when they failed, the ingenious Mr. P—d—1, with his mercurial wand and magnet, I have still failed in my purpose. This therefore I send, to propose and desire an acquaintance with you; and I do not doubt, notwithstanding my repeated ill fortune, but we may be exceedingly serviceable to each other in our discoveries; and that if we use our united endeavours, the time will come when the Busy-Body, his second-sighted correspondent, and your very humble servant, will be three of the richest men in the province. And then, Sir, what may we not do? A word to the wise is sufficient . I conclude, with all demonstrable respect, yours and Urania's votary,
* Titan Pleiades was not the only man in the colonies, who had faith in the virtues of the Divining Rod. The following extract will show that there were persons of intelligence and high official rank, who could solve their doubts only by assenting to its marvellous properties. The passage is taken from a manuscript letter, written by Mr. Peter Oliver, (for many years Chief Justice of Massachusetts,) to the Reverend Jared Eliot, of Killingworth in Connecticut, a man much devoted to philosophical studies, and an intimate friend and correspondent of Dr. Franklin.
"For the present I desist from experiments in natural philosophy," said Chief Justice Oliver, "and perhaps shall not displease you by relating an experiment in what I call Preternatural Philosophy. It is by what is called the Firgida Divinatoria, long since exploded. Two or three persons have lately been found in Middleborough, and, I suppose, may be found elsewhere, who, by holding a twig of a tree (with some prepared matters in it) in their hands, can find copper, silver, or gold, either in the mine or in substance. When I first heard the fact I disbelieved it, as aoubtless you will take the same liberty on my relating it; but at last I was induced to make the experiment critically, which exceeded what I had heard. The person holds the twig by its two branches in both hands, and grasps them close, with the upper part erect . If any metal or mine is nigh, its fibres, though never so fast held in the hand, will twist till it points to the object; and if the metal or mine is under, it will twist to a perpendicular situation. I have seen it point to a single dollar under ground, at sixty or seventy feet distance; and to a quantity of silver at a mile distance; and, what is more remarkable, when it is in motion to its object, upon the person's closing his eyes, it will make a full stop, but, if the eyes are turned from the twig and open, it will continue its motion. It is owing to what I call the xdiosyncracy of the person's body, who holds the twig, for I believe there is not one in five hundred in whose hands it will move. I am apt to think it will occasion as much speculation as electricity, and I believe will tend to public benefit." — Middlcborougk, March 31**, 1756. —Editor.
In ;he evening, after I had received this letter, I made a visit to my second-sighted friend, and communicated to him the proposal. When he had read it, he assured me, that, to his certain knowledge, there is not at this time so much as one ounce of silver or gold hid under ground in any part of this province; for that the late and present scarcity of money had obliged those, who were living, and knew where they had formerly hid any, to take it up, and use it in their own necessary affairs; and as to all the rest, which was buried by pirates and others in old times, who were never like to come for it, he himself had dug it all up and applied it to charitable uses; and this he desired me to publish for the general good. For, as he acquainted me, there are among us great numbers of honest artificers and laboring people, who, fed with a vain hope of growing suddenly rich, neglect their business, almost to the ruining of themselves and families, and voluntarily endure abundance of fatigue in a fruit- -■less 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 labor 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 cart-loads of earth thrown out; but, alas, no keg or iron pot is found! No seaman's chest crammed 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 expense of time and labor.
This odd humor 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 Schuylkill were so much mixed with 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 whimseys, 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 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 than the mountains of Potosi; and, when I have been there on the fishing account, have looked upon 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 every stitch he takes, when he is on his shopboard, 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, in consequence, in time they may be wealthy. But how absurd is it to neglect a certain profit for such a ridiculous whimsey; to spend whole days at the George, in company with an idle