Prospector

Waked in the morning with great pain of the collique, by cold taken yesterday, I believe, with going up and down in my shirt, but with rubbing my belly, keeping of it warm, I did at last come to some ease, and rose, and up to walk up and down the garden with my father, to talk of all our concernments: about a husband for my sister, whereof there is at present no appearance; but we must endeavour to find her one now, for she grows old and ugly: then for my brother; and resolve he shall stay here this winter, and then I will either send him to Cambridge for a year, till I get him some church promotion, or send him to sea as a chaplain, where he may study, and earn his living. Then walked round about our Greene, to see whether, in case I cannot buy out my uncle Thomas and his son’s right in this house, that I can buy another place as good thereabouts to build on, and I do not see that I can. But this, with new building, may be made an excellent pretty thing, and I resolve to look after it as soon as I can, and Goody Gorum dies. By this time it was almost noon, and then my father and I and wife and Willet abroad, by coach round the towne of Brampton, to observe any other place as good as ours, and find none; and so back with great pleasure; and thence went all of us, my sister and brother, and W. Hewer, to dinner to Hinchingbroke, where we had a good plain country dinner, but most kindly used; and here dined the Minister of Brampton and his wife, who is reported a very good, but poor man. Here I spent alone with my Lady, after dinner, the most of the afternoon, and anon the two twins were sent for from schoole, at Mr. Taylor’s, to come to see me, and I took them into the garden, and there, in one of the summer-houses, did examine them, and do find them so well advanced in their learning, that I was amazed at it: they repeating a whole ode without book out of Horace, and did give me a very good account of any thing almost, and did make me very readily very good Latin, and did give me good account of their Greek grammar, beyond all possible expectation; and so grave and manly as I never saw, I confess, nor could have believed; so that they will be fit to go to Cambridge in two years at most. They are both little, but very like one another, and well-looked children. Then in to my Lady again, and staid till it was almost night again, and then took leave for a great while again, but with extraordinary kindness from my Lady, who looks upon me like one of her own family and interest. So thence, my wife and people by the highway, and I walked over the park with Mr. Shepley, and through the grove, which is mighty pretty, as is imaginable, and so over their drawbridge to Nun’s Bridge, and so to my father’s, and there sat and drank, and talked a little, and then parted. And he being gone, and what company there was, my father and I, with a dark lantern; it being now night, into the garden with my wife, and there went about our great work to dig up my gold. But, Lord! what a tosse I was for some time in, that they could not justly tell where it was; that I begun heartily to sweat, and be angry, that they should not agree better upon the place, and at last to fear that it was gone but by and by poking with a spit, we found it, and then begun with a spudd to lift up the ground. But, good God! to see how sillily they did it, not half a foot under ground, and in the sight of the world from a hundred places, if any body by accident were near hand, and within sight of a neighbour’s window, and their hearing also, being close by: only my father says that he saw them all gone to church before he begun the work, when he laid the money, but that do not excuse it to me. But I was out of my wits almost, and the more from that, upon my lifting up the earth with the spudd, I did discern that I had scattered the pieces of gold round about the ground among the grass and loose earth; and taking up the iron head-pieces wherein they were put, I perceive the earth was got among the gold, and wet, so that the bags were all rotten, and all the notes, that I could not tell what in the world to say to it, not knowing how to judge what was wanting, or what had been lost by Gibson in his coming down: which, all put together, did make me mad; and at last was forced to take up the head-pieces, dirt and all, and as many of the scattered pieces as I could with the dirt discern by the candlelight, and carry them up into my brother’s chamber, and there locke them up till I had eat a little supper: and then, all people going to bed, W. Hewer and I did all alone, with several pails of water and basins, at last wash the dirt off of the pieces, and parted the pieces and the dirt, and then begun to tell [them]; and by a note which I had of the value of the whole in my pocket, do find that there was short above a hundred pieces, which did make me mad; and considering that the neighbour’s house was so near that we could not suppose we could speak one to another in the garden at the place where the gold lay — especially my father being deaf — but they must know what we had been doing on, I feared that they might in the night come and gather some pieces and prevent us the next morning; so W. Hewer and I out again about midnight, for it was now grown so late, and there by candlelight did make shift to gather forty-five pieces more. And so in, and to cleanse them: and by this time it was past two in the morning; and so to bed, with my mind pretty quiet to think that I have recovered so many. And then to bed, and I lay in the trundle-bed, the girl being gone to bed to my wife, and there lay in some disquiet all night, telling of the clock till it was daylight.

rubbing my belly I grow
old and ugly

all winter I am broke
and in summer like a child
I dig for gold

the earth going to pieces
in my pocket

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 10 October 1667.

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