Born in Somerset, England in 1740, James Woodforde was an English clergyman posthumously celebrated for the insightful and witty diaries—68 handwritten volumes in total–that he kept meticulously from the age of 19 through to 1803, ten weeks before his death. Peppered amongst the relentless weather reports and descriptions of surely-impossible-to-digest meals are many golden moments, not least the day his pigs sample his home-brewed beer (“I never saw Piggs so drunk in my life.”), his regularly magnificent turns of phrase (“Jack did not please at Parsonage this evening being very much disguised in Beer.”), and the many dubious medical treatments he tried and sometimes administered (“I gave him a dram of gin and pushed him headlong into one of my Ponds and ordered him to bed immediately and he was better after it and had nothing of the cold fit after.”) Speaking of which, here is a favourite from March of 1779.
The Diary Entry
MAR. 23. I breakfasted, and slept again at home. Memorandum. In shaving my face this morning I happened to cut one of my moles which bled much, and happening also to kill a small moth that was flying about, I applied it to my mole and it instantaneously stopped the bleeding.
There have been many editions of Woodforde’s diaries published over the years, some of which are now out of print and available to read online. However, rather than list them all here, I recommend visiting the website of The Parson Woodforde Society to learn more, as they’ve already done the heavy lifting.