A Doctor’s Fee

This is an anecdote which has always appealed to me.

Sir George Cayley, the 6th (aeronautical) Cayley baronet, had a keen if sometimes ponderous sense of humour which is displayed in many of the letters held by the British Library and other institutions.

When he was in his eighties, he had a consultation with his doctor. This was of course well before the National Health Service, and doctors expected to be paid for each visit – though they might make exceptions for the very poor. Sir George had put the doctor’s fee of one guinea in his pocket, ready to give him, discreetly wrapped in paper. In the same pocket, also wrapped in paper, he had placed two peppermint lozenges.

That evening, when he went to bed, he found the guinea was still in his pocket, but the lozenges were missing. He realised that he had given them to the doctor instead of the money. The next morning Sir George sent a servant to check that this was so, and the doctor clearly sent a message to the effect that his fee had been sweet. Sir George duly sent the money with a note containing the lines, “The fee was sweet – I thank you for the hint,/ These are as sweet. They’ve both been through the Mint.”

Those of you who dislike puns will no doubt groan mightily.

[Source: The Legards of Anlaby and Ganton, Col. Sir James Digby Legard, 1926]