Tuesday 13 March 2012

'That Prodigy in Nature'

Born on this day was the famously fat Daniel Lambert, a man 'of surprising corpulency' (and then some). I remember as a boy seeing the suit of his clothes on display in Stamford - it made quite an impression. In these times Lambert would be lucky (if that's the word) to make the reserve list for a Channel 5 documentary, such are the heights of obesity mankind has scaled since his innocent time. Lambert seems to have been a man of attractive character, good manners and wide interests (especially in the sporting world) and his condition was clearly not the product of any notable excesses on his part. He seems also to have enjoyed strikingly good health and agility, despite his extraordinary bulk. He certainly didn't court fame, but found himself with little choice, and exhibited himself for as long as he could endure, to make the money he needed. His life was active to the end, and his sudden death seems not to have been related to his weight. Reading his epitaph -

In Remembrance of that Prodigy in Nature.
a Native of Leicester:
who was possessed of an exalted and convivial Mind
and in personal Greatness had no Competitor.
He measured three Feet one Inch round the Leg
nine Feet four Inches round the Body
and weighed
Fifty two Stone eleven Pounds!
He departed this Life on the 21st of June 1809
Aged 39 years -

put me in mind of that to another fat man with an exalted and convivial mind - well, convivial anyway - Tom Humphrys.

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