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22 Apr 2015

Sydney Smith on Gout

I’ve always meant to read the letters of the Reverend Sydney Smith, because the bits of him that appear in the dictionary of quotations are so funny. I’ve finally done it and it was well worth it – not only was he funny, he was also intelligent, honest, kind and humane.

Late in life he suffered from gout and described it thus:

What a very singular disease gout is! It seems as if the stomach fell down into the feet. The smallest deviation from right diet is immediately punished by limping and lameness, and the innocent ankle and blameless instep are tortured for the vices of the nobler organs. The stomach having found this easy way of getting rid of inconveniences, becomes cruelly despotic, and punishes for the least offences. A plum, a glass of champagne, excess in joy, excess in grief, – any crime, however small, is sufficient for redness, swelling, spasms, and large shoes.

I don’t suffer from it myself and, if have of what Sydney Smith says is true, I hope I never do.

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