1657: Scot keeps masturbation diary

william drummond
William Drummond, Senior the poet – not the ‘fatallist’.

William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649) was a Scottish royalist and notable poet, one of the first to write metrical poetry in English rather than Old Scots. While his son, also named William, lacked Dad’s flair for writing, he was nevertheless a keen reader and a regular diarist.

Drummond Junior’s diary entries from 1657 onward offer terse but informative glimpses into his private life. No less than 38 of his entries that year record instances of masturbation, using the code word “fattall”. Some of the more interesting entries, complete with Drummond’s original spelling, include:

January 4th: I stayed at hom from church and red the Cyprian Grove… fattall.

January 28th: Solitaire, fattall.

February 4th: Solitaire, but yet fattall. Lay in my bed all day.

February 26th: All night fattall.

March 12th: Fattall thrice.

March 28th: Fattall fowre times.

April 15th: Solitaire, fattall most grivously.

May 8th: Began first to ride that book which is so much estim’d of, Arcadia, out of a curiositie, becawse everyon was perswaded that it cowld not be but I had red it before twentie times. Fattall twise.

July 13th: Fattall fowre times.

Drummond’s later entries report sexual liaisons with an unnamed mistress (“Z”) and the consummation of his marriage on December 17th 1657. Perhaps understandably, his diary mentions masturbating much less frequently after this – though on February 7th 1659 he admits to “fattall” again while his wife was away in Pendrike.

Source: Diary of Sir William Drummond of Hawthorden, 1657-59. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

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