Three “literary ladies” and one pompous politician get out their depths in Martin Chuzzlewit:

How Pogram got out of his depth instantly, and how the three L. L.’ s were never in theirs, is a piece of history not worth recording. Suffice it, that being all four out of their depths, and all unable to swim, they splashed up words in all directions, and floundered about famously. On the whole, it was considered to have been the severest mental exercise ever heard in the National Hotel. Tears stood in the shrill boy’s eyes several times; and the whole company observed that their heads ached with the effort—as well they might.