Letter To The Right Honourable Lord Sheffield
From Letters(3), Part Of Edward Gibbon's Autobiography Edited by Lord Sheffield

St James Street, November 11th 1793

I must at length withdraw the veil before my state of health, though the naked truth may alarm you more than a fit of the gout. Have you never observed, through my inexpressibles , a large prominency which, as it was not at all painful, and very little troublesome, I had strangely neglected for many years? But since my departure from Sheffield Place it has increased (most stupendously), is increasing, and ought to be diminished. Yesterday I sent for Farquhar, who is allowed to be a very skilful surgeon. After viewing and palping, he very seriously desired to call in assistance, and has examined it again today with Mr. Cline, a surgeon, as he says, of the first eminence. They both pronounce it a hydrocele (a collection of water), which must be let out by the operation of tapping; but, from its magnitude and long neglect, they think it a most extraordinary case, and wish to have another surgeon, Dr. Baillie, present. If the business should go off smoothly, I shall be delivered from my burden (it is almost as big as a small child), and walk about in four or five days with a truss. But the medical gentlemen, who never speak quite plain, insinuate to me the possibility of an inflammation, of fever, etc. I am not appalled at the thoughts of the operation, which is fixed for Wednesday next, twelve o'clock; but it has occurred to me, that you might wish to be present, before and afterwards, till the crisis was passed; and to give you that opportunity, I shall solicit a delay till Thursday, or even Friday. In the meanwhile, I crawl about with some labour, and much indecency, to Devonshire House (where I left all the fine ladies making flannel waistcoats ), Lady Lucan's, etc. Adieu. Varnish the business for the ladies; yet I am afraid it will be public — the advantage of being notorious. Ever yours.

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