Saturday, April 23 1757

After I came away from Dicker’s, I walked in the Broyle until near 5 o’clock when I got out of it and went to Thomas Cushman’s and lay down on their bed till about 10:25. I arose and breakfasted with them and came away home. I called at Mr Samuel Gibb’s and dined on a knuckle of veal, a piece of pork and greens, my family at home dining on the remains of Sunday’s and Tuesday’s dinners with the addition of some boiled tripe.

I came sober about 3:35, and may I once more implore the most high God to give me grace to strengthen my weak resolutions that I may never again be guilty of this detestable sin. Oh! how doth the repetition of it make, as it were, my blood chill in my veins! I am quite distracted with anger at my own folly, but where can I run or go from the presence of a wounded conscience? But oh! may I once more strive never, no, never to be guilty of this vice! I think, as I find my brains so weak, I will never drink anything stronger than small beer or water. In the afternoon Mrs Fuller and her two daughters drank tea with us. I spent this journey, as near as I can recollect, about 4/6. Oh, cruel is my misfortune (that I cannot bear the least matter of liquor, that is).

Friday, April 22 1757

In the morning I went down to Mr French’s in order to call him to go to Lewes to get two orders confirmed; viz., Tull’s and Hyland’s, where after staying some time, we proceeded on our journey to Lewes. We dined at Mrs Virgoe’s on a roast loin of mutton… Bought for my mother 3 lb of gunpowder, which cost me 4/6… We got both our orders confirmed and set out for our road home about 7:20, both very much in liquor. We lost ourselves in the Broyle where we walked some time, though not without disputing whose fault it was that was the occasion of our mistaking the way. But we at last found our way to Will Dicker’s, where we found Dr Stone and Richard Savage, both very drunk. We then fell out very much insomuch that I think Dr Stone and I were a-going to fighting, but I cannot recollect on what account unless it must be that we were both drunk and fools. We stayed there some time…

Wednesday, February 9 1757

In the morning about 8:40 I went down to Whyly and called Mr French and Thomas Tester (who was there at work), and we proceeded on our journey to Uckfield. As we went, we called at my mother’s and stayed about 30 minutes. When we came to Mr. Courthope’s, he gave so much credit to Mr French’s fallacy that poor Tester was almost like to be hanged for saying of nothing. But, however, Mr Courthope allowed him a grist more and then told us we should not be hard on him. But, however Mr French declared he should have no more on the parish account. We went with Mr Thornton to the Maiden Head where I paid 18 1/2d for what we spent. Mr Thornton offered to make up Savage’s affair with Tester on condition that the parish should pay at Easter the debt to Savage and 10/6 towards the expences. But we could not prevail on Mr French to do it.

As we came home, we called again at my mother’s but did not stay. Mr French and both being pretty much in liquor, we quarrelled very much, and the subject of our dispute was whether I should obey the justice’s orders in giving Tester another grist or not. But, however, we went into Mr French’s and drank a bottle of beer. I came home very much in liquor. Oh! what an unfortunate wretch I am that I can drink but 2 glasses of liquor before I am drunk when it is a thing I am sure I despise and do try as much as possible to avoid. Oh! may the ever abundant mercies of the divine goodness pardon this my weakness and imperfection and pour into my heart the grace of his Holy Spirit to strengthen my weak and frail resolutions that I may never be guilty of this vice, but may always live in a constant state of virtue, temperance, justice, humility and charity. All this I humbly beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

My family today dined on the remains of Sunday’s and yesterday’s dinner and myself on nothing. John Vine’s man at work for us all day.

Tuesday, June 8 1756

This day at the request of Mrs Virgoe I went with her brother to Lewes on foot to know the result of counsellor Humphrey’s opinion on her late husband’s will, which was that by that will’s being badly made she had no power to make one. And he also said Mr Tourle’s mortgage, or as he expressed it, “Tourle was damned bad security.” My brother and I dined at Mr T. Scrase’s on a cold quarter of lamb and green salad. Paid Mr George Verral 8/8 in full for 2 doz soap.

Now what I am a-going to mention makes me shudder with horror at the thought of it. It is I got very much in liquor. But let me not give it so easy a name, but say I was very drunk, and then I must of consequence be no better than a beast. And what is still more terrifying, by committing this enormous crime I plunged myself into still greater; that is, of quarrelling, which was this: my walking yesterday and again today, my feet were very sore; so, meeting with Peter Adams I asked him to carry me home, which he agreed to. I accordingly got on horseback at the Cats after first having some words with a person for no other reason I can think but because he was sober, at least I know it was because I was drunk. We then proceeded on the road home and, as I am since informed, oftentimes finding an opportunity to have words with somebody, and, doubtless as often, giving somebody the opportunity to sneer and ridicule myself, as well in justice they might. And, I suppose to gratify Mr Adams for his trouble, I told him if he would go around by William Dicker’s, I would treat him with a mug of 6d, which he readily accepted of (though he, I understand, was very sober). There we met Mr Laugham and several more, but who I cannot remember, and I suppose also in liquor. Now there was formerly a dispute between Mr Laugham and me about a bill wherein I was used ill. I imagine I must have told him of that. Or whether they, seeing me more in liquor than themselves, put upon me, I do not remember, but Mr Laugham pulled me by the nose and struck at me with his horse-whip and used me very ill, upon which Mr Adams told them he thought there was enough for a joke, upon which they used him very ill and have abused him very much. Then while they were a-fighting, I, free from any hurt, like a true friend and bold hearty fellow, rode away upon poor Peter’s horse leaving him to shift for himself, glad enough I got away with a whole skin. I got home about 10 o’clock. But what can I say in my own behalf for getting drunk? Sure I am a direct fool–so many resolutions as I have made to the contrary, and so much as I am desirous of living a sober life–that I should suffer myself to be so easily deluded away when I know almost the sight of a bottle of wine will make me drunk. But, oh, may the Supreme Director of all events give me grace to be wiser for the future; and as I have in so miraculous, a manner several times been preserved from danger, I hope I shall never more be so weak, but have resolution enough to make this the last time!

My wife in my absence sent Francis Smith by his man 1.12.0… My brother William went away tonight about 9 o’clock… Paid for a coffee-pot 18d. Paid for ½ hundred asparagus 5d.