Sunday, 27 November 2011

Binge drinking, a great British tradition

A brilliant 18th century primary historical document collected by Prospect magazine:

Thomas Turner, a grocer in Sussex, writes in his diary, 22nd February 1758:

'About four pm I walked down to Whyly. We played at Bragg the first part of the even. After ten we went to supper on four boiled chicken, four boiled ducks, minced veal, sausages, cold roast goose, chicken pasty and ham. Our company, Mr and Mrs Porter, Mr and Mrs Coates, Mrs Atkins, Mrs Hicks, Mr Piper and wife, Joseph Fuller and wife, Tho Fuller and wife, Dame Durrant, myself and wife and Mr French's family. After supper our behaviour was far from that of serious harmless mirth; it was downright obstreperous, mixed with a great deal of folly and stupidity. Our diversion was dancing, or jumping about, without a violin or any music, singing of foolish healths, and drinking all the time as fast as it could well be poured down; and the parson of the parish was one of the mized multitude....About three o'clock, finding myself to have as much liquor as would do me good, I slept away unobserved, leaving my wife to make my excuse...

This morning about six just as my wife was got to bed, we was awaked by Mrs Porter. My wife found Mr Porter (the parson), Mr Fuller and his wife, with a lighted candle, and part of a bottle of wine and a glass. The next thing was to have me downstairs, which being apprised of, I fastened my door. Upstairs they came and threatened to break it open, so I ordered my boys to open it, when they poured into my room. Their immodesty permitted them to draw me out of bed, as the common phrase is, topsy-turvy. Instead of my upper clothes, they gave me time to put on my wife's petticoat; and in this manner they made me dance, without shoes or stockings, until they had emptied the bottle of wine and also a bottle of beer.'

This is the kind of material that should be used much more in history lessons.

More historical documents of excess in the pipeline, suggestions welcome.

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