impervious cases

Gabriel Aparta

Senior Member
Español - Venezuela
Hi everyone, please, from David Copperfield by Dickens:

I found Mrs. Micawber in the closest and most uncompromising of bonnets, made fast under the chin; and in a shawl which tied her up (as I had been tied up, when my aunt first received me) like a bundle, and was secured behind at the waist, in a strong knot. Miss Micawber I found made snug for stormy weather, in the same manner; with nothing superfluous about her. Master Micawber was hardly visible in a Guernsey shirt, and the shaggiest suit of slops I ever saw; and the children were done up, like preserved meats, in impervious cases.

Please, what would cases mean in here? A type of clothing?

  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It means waterproof outer garments (possibly not very attractive, given the mention of preserved meat wrappings). I have no idea how nineteenth century preserved meats were "done up" (wrapped/packaged). Quite likely Dickens is referring to waxed cloth or paper. "Cases" however suggests something more like sausage skins.

    "Slops" incidentally, is ordinary sailor's clothing. Since a "suit" is mentioned, this probably means a jacket and trousers.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    "Cases" however suggests something more like sausage skins
    Yes - in this case the sausages are preserved - so salami. Not necessarily unattractive - think of polony, with its marvellous red case, like a gleaming tube of crimson plastic mac. I once knew a woman who packed her petite body into very tight clothes, and was referred to by another female friend as 'the sausage'.

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes. This is surely about tight skins.

    Today had to squeeze myself into a borrowed rain coat that was at least one size too small for me. I managed to zip it up and patted my abdomen.
    “Sausage” said I.
    Which was shorthand for “as tight as the skin on a sausage”.
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