Catering cats and canines

The milord of Paris had a rather unusual liking for animals. This wouldn’t come as a surprise for the French for they expected such bizarre demeanor from an Englishman. But they did raise their eyebrows a little when they heard he gave dinner parties for dogs and cats, dressed in the height of fashion, even down to fancy miniature shoes.

Nor did it accord with their ideas of English sportsmanship that Francis Henry Egerton, the 8thEarl of Bridgewater, should keep partridges and pigeons with clipped wings in his garden, so that he could still shoot them despite his failing eyesight.

Strangely, this eccentric was an extremely learned scholar, a connoisseur and patron of the arts and a fellow of the Royal Society. He was the donor of an important collection-the Egerton Manuscripts-to the British Museum.

Yet, why would the nobleman wear each pair of his shoes only once, and then have them arranged in rows? To measure the passing of time, that’s why!

He was so bizarre that he would send a sumptuous carriage attended by four liveried footmen only to return a borrowed book!

Egerton never married. And when he died in 1829, his title became extinct. But tales of his eccentricities didn’t.


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