Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum


Postscript: Gold - lost and found

Chrístõ
chris@cjsquire.plus.com


Thursday 10 October 1667

(Pepy’s father had buried his money in his garden by night, so that the neighbours wouldn’t know about it. When the panic was over, Pepys came to retrieve it):

. .  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 spade 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 anybody 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 spade, 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.

At last I 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];

By a note which I had of the value of the whole in my pocket, I 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.

www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1667/10/10/
……..
Friday 11 October 1667
And then rose and called W. Hewer, and he and I, with pails and a sieve, did lock ourselves into the garden, and there gather all the earth about the place into pails, and then sift those pails in one of the summer-houses, just as they do for dyamonds in other parts of the world; and there, to our great content, did with much trouble by nine o’clock (and by the time we emptied several pails and could not find one), we did make the last night’s forty-five up to seventy-nine

So that we are come to about twenty or thirty of what I think the true number should be; and perhaps within less; and of them I may reasonably think that Mr. Gibson might lose some: so that I am pretty well satisfied that my loss is not great, and do bless God that it is so well,1 and do leave my father to make a second examination of the dirt, which he promises he will do, and, poor man, is mightily troubled for this accident, but I declared myself very well satisfied, and so indeed I am.

And my mind is at rest, it being but an accident, which is unusual; and so gives me some kind of content to remember how painful it is sometimes to keep money, as well as to get it, and how doubtful (= worried) I was how to keep it all night, and how to secure it to London: and so got all my gold put up in bags . .

www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1667/10/11/


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