Childbirth in the Victorian Turkish bath

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

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An incident at the Turkish Bath

'On Friday last, ladies day at the Turkish baths, while some ladies, who are in the habit of attending there, were as usual enjoying the luxury of the bath, they were joined by a young girl whose bashful appearance and evident ignorance of the bathing process induced the more experienced ladies to proffer both advice and assistance. The one was implicitly followed, and the other gratefully received: but by-and-bye their aid was required in a manner and matter they had not calculated on. The result was that before the young lady had left the bath-room there was a visitor there who had not paid for admission, and Hobart Town had an addition made to its population.'

Brisbane Courier   (27 January 1870)   p.3

This incident gave rise to a ballad written, almost immediately after the event.

The Turkish Bath

          Air—Dandy Jim

The Turkish Bath, the Turkish Bath,

   The Turkish Bath, Ma'am if you please,

The Turkish Bath's the only path

   Where accouchements are done with ease.

I went to bathe the usual day,

   Had been shampooed, and at my ease,

When someone shouted in dismay,

   Saying, "Oh! my God! it's Dominie's!"

I ran to see, like many more,

   (Excuse the picture, if you please;)

But what I saw upon the floor,

   I'm certain sure was Dominie's! 

Though many say, our jovial friend,

   Who manages the Bath and Fees,

By some means lent a helping hand,

   To bring the girl upon her knees.

Sometimes Repentance comes too late,

   Through Pardon's gate it's hard to squeeze,

But this reluctant, I must slate,

   "My God! Oh God! it's Dominie's!" 

Mary Slocum

Hobart Town
24th January, 1870


Verse added 16 February 2020

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