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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 8.djvu/37

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1803.]
11
BYRON'S LAMENESS.

to Mrs. Hanson and to all my comrades of the Battalions in and out upon different Stations,

And remain, your little friend,
Byron.

I forgot to tell you how I was. I am at present very well and my foot goes but indifferently; I cannot perceive any alteration.


4.—To his Mother.

Harrow-on-the-Hill, Sunday, May 1st, 1803.

My dear Mother,—I received your Letter the other day. And am happy to hear you are well. I hope you will find Newstead in as favorable a state as you can wish. I wish you would write to Sheldrake to tell him to make haste with my shoes.[1]

  1. Byron appears to have suffered from what would now be described as infantile paralysis, which affected the inner muscles of the right leg and foot, and rendered him permanently lame. Before leaving London for Aberdeen, Mrs. Byron consulted John Hunter, who, in correspondence with Dr. Livingstone of Aberdeen, advised her as to the treatment of her son. Writing, May 31, 1791, to Mrs. Leigh, she says, "George's foot turns inward, and it is the "right foot; he walks quite on the side of his foot." In 1798 the child was placed under the care of Lavender (see p, 7, note 1) at Nottingham, doubtless on the recommendation of his aunt. In July, 1799, he was taken to London, in order to consult Dr. Baillie. From July, 1799, till the end of 1802, he was attended by Baillie in consultation with Dr. Laurie of 2, Bartholomew's Close. Special appliances were made for the boy, under their superintendence, by a scientific bootmaker named Sheldrake, in the Strand. In The Lancet for 1827-8 (vol. ii. p. 779) Mr. T. Sheldrake describes "Lord Byron's case," giving an illustration of the foot. His account does not tally, in some respects, with that taken from contemporary letters, and his sketch represents the left not the right leg. But the nature and extent of Byron's lameness have been the subject of a curious variety of opinion. Lady Blessington, Moore, Galt, the Contessa Albrizzi, never knew which foot was deformed. Jackson, the boxer, thought it was the left foot. Trelawney says that it proceeded from a contraction of the back sinews, and that the