Fat lady at sea, 1852

Southport Visiter, Sept 24th, 1852

A Fat woman in trouble at sea.

A corpulent Lady, on her way to California, writes back to one of her acquaintances her experience of travelling, here is an extract :-

"Our cabins have two boxes in it called berths, though coffins would be nearer the thing, for you think more of your latter end at sea a great deal.

One of these is situated over the other, like two shelves, and these together make what is called a state-room. My berth is the uppermost one and I have to climb up it, putting one foot in the lower one, and the other away out in the wash-hand stand, which is a great stretch and makes it very straining - then I lift one knee on the berth and roll into it sideways. This is very inconvenient for a woman of my size and very dangerous.

Last night I put my foot in Mrs BROWN'S face as she lay asleep close to the edge of the lower berth, and nearly put out her eye, and I have torn all the skin off my knees, and then I have a large black spot where I have been hurt and my head is swelled.

To dismount is another feat of horsemanship only fit for a sailor. You can't sit up for the floor overhead, so you have to turn round and roll your legs out first, and then hold on till you touch the bottom somewhere, and then let yourself down upright.

It is dreadful work and not very decent for a delicate female, if the steward happens to come in when you are in the act this way. I don't know which is the hardest, to get in or out of the berth - both are the most difficult things in the world, and I shall be glad when I am done with it.

I am obliged to dress in bed before I leave it, and nobody who hasn't tried to put on their clothes lying down can tell what a task it is. Lacing stays behind your back, and you on your face nearly smothered with the bedclothes and feeling for the eyelet hole with one hand, and trying to put the tag in with the other, while you are rolling about from side to side is no laughing matter.

Yesterday I fastened in the pillows to my bustle by mistake in the hurry, and never knew it till the people laughed, and said the sea agreed with me, I had grown so fat, but putting on stockings is the worst, for there aint room to stoop forward, so you have to bring your foot to you, and stretching out on your back, lift up your leg till you can reach it, and then drag it on.

Corpulent people can't always do this easily, I can tell you. It always gives me the cramp and takes away my breath.

You will pity me if you could conceive, but you can't - no, nobody but a woman can tell what a woman suffers by being confined to a berth at sea."


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