Tuesday, 4 December 2012

James Clegg’s 4 December

James Clegg, preacher, farmer and doctor of Chapel-en-le-Frith, wrote a diary from 1708, when he was 29, until his death in 1755. Through his eyes we get a glimpse of the people and places of eighteenth-century Derbyshire and beyond; and watch his struggles to treat conditions curable today with antibiotics or other common drugs (James’s repertoire included Virginian snakeroot, quicksilver, Gascoigne powder and hartshorn).

His diary entry of 4 December 1753 has always made us smile:

 ‘I found myselfe indisposd last night and this morning by a soreness and stuffing in my breast and lungs, afternoon I took a ride to visit Francis Thomasons Family at Calstor. When I came back I found myselfe growing worse and continued to do til bed time and soon after was seizd with a violent pain in my Breast accompanied with such a stuffing in my lungs as almost stifled me and made me conclude I could scarce live til morning. This continued about two hours and then the merciful God sent me Reliefe and some ease for ever Blessed be his name. When I was under apprehensions of dying shortly my greatest concern was for the continuance of the means of salvation in these parts after my Decease. But God can provide and on him I rely. With a view to this I have a Ticket purchasd for me in the Irish Lottery. If providence shall Favour me with a prize I have determind that one halfe of it shall be applied to that use, or to some other that shall appear more pious and charitable.’

Sadly, James didn’t win a prize, so we can only wonder what he would have done with the other half!

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