13 May 1820: Medical wisdom

On 13 May 1820, Tom Grenville writes to the Marchioness of Buckingham, Anna Eliza Brydges, with some medical advice. The following extract sums up much wisdom on the medical practices of the day:

I am no great friend as you know to the many-coloured phials which grow out of the grim-gribbler of the learned professors of the black doses; but a sensible man who has passed a long life in watching all the infirmities that our frail frames are subject to is certainly very likely to have a good guess at what spring it is that wants oiling in the clockwork; & tho’ they cannot take their magnifying glass & look at the machinery, as Arnold would examine his Timekeeper, & tho’ they must therefore travel in the dark, yet they become long-sighted by the long habit & experience & when that is found united with good sense & judgement, very important help may be afforded them.

Tom Grenville adds a waspish footnote about the consort of King George IV, Caroline of Brunswick:

At White’s somebody was wondering at the passion for Lady C “with a leg as thick as a post” what then said Copley, tho’ it is a post remember it is “Poste Royale”

The Grenvilles and Buckinghams, though not Anna Eliza, suffered a great deal from gout. James Gillray’s illustration, below, captures the misery perfectly. He must have suffered himself!

the_gout_james_gillray© Trustees of the British Museum

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