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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 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 warms 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, and very much caressed by, the * poor delụded money-hunters. There is certainly something very bewitching in the
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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 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 lakes when he is on his 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 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 pretender lo 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 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 inust carefully observe this, Never to dig more than plow-deep.”
The Way to Wealth, as clearly shown in the Preface of
an old Pensylvania Almanack, intitled, Poor Richard Improved*.
I HAVE heard, that nothing gives an author so great pleasure, as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately, where a great nuinber of people were collected, at an auction of merchants goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they
* Dr. Franklin, as I have been made to understand, for many years published the Pensylvania Almanack, called Poor Richard (Saunders) and furnished it with various sentences and proverbs, which had principal relation to the topics of " industry, attention to one's own business, and frugality." The whole or chief of these sentences and proverbs he at Last collected and digested in the above general preface, which his countrymen read with much. avidity and profit. B. Y.
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were conversing on the badness of the times; of the company called to a plain clean old man, with white locks, “ Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not those heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to ?”- FatherAbraham stood up, and replied, “ If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short, “ for a word to the wise is enough," "as poor Richard says, They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:
Friends, says he, the taxes are, indeed, very heavy, and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones he had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing an abatement. However let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us; “God helps them that help themselves," as poor Richard says.
• I. It would be thought a hard government that slrould tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service : but idleness taxes many
of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. “Sloth, like rust,consumes faster than labour wears, while the used key is always bright,” as poor Richard says. " But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the staff life is made of," as poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep! forgetting, that “ the sleeping fox catches no poultry, and that
there will be sleeping enough in the grave,” as poor Richard says.
“ If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be," as poor Richard says, “ the greatest prodigality;" since, as he elsewhere tells us, “lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough always proves little enough :” let us then up and be doing, and doing to the purpose; sọ by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. “ Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy; and he that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night; while laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him. Drive thy business, let not that drive thee: and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," as poor
So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these times better, if we bestir ourselves. “ Industry need not wish, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains without pains : then help hands for I have no lands.” or, if I have, they are smartly taxed. “ He, that haih a trade, hath an estate; and he, that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honour," as poor Richard says: but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. If we are industrious, we shall never starve: for, " at the working man's house, hunger looks in, but dares not enter." Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter, for “ industry pays debts, while despais increaseth thein.” What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left you a legacy, “ diligence is the mother of good luck, and