The Lady's Dressing Room
Audio Source: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Richetti.html
The Lady's Dressing Room
BY JONATHAN SWIFT (1732)
Five Hours, (and who can do it less in?)
By haughty Celia spent in Dressing;
The Goddess from her Chamber issues,
Array'd in Lace, Brocades and Tissues.
Strephon, who found the Room was void, 
And Betty otherwise employ'd;
Stole in, and took a strict Survey,
Of all the Litter as it lay;
Whereof, to make the Matter clear,
An Inventory follows here. 
And first a dirty Smock appear'd,
Beneath the Arm-pits well besmear'd.
Strephon, the Rogue, display'd it wide,
And turn'd it round on every Side.
On such a Point few Words are best, 
And Strephon bids us guess the rest;
But swears how damnably the Men lie,
In calling Celia sweet and cleanly.
Now listen while he next produces,
The various Combs for various Uses, 
Fill'd up with Dirt so closely fixt,
No Brush could force a way betwixt.
A Paste of Composition rare,
Sweat, Dandriff, Powder, Lead and Hair;
A Forehead Cloth with Oyl upon't 
To smooth the Wrinkles on her Front;
Here Allum Flower to stop the Steams,
Exhal'd from sour unsavoury Streams,
There Night-gloves made of Tripsy's Hide,
Bequeath'd by Tripsy when she dy'd, 
With Puppy Water, Beauty's Help
Distill'd from Tripsy's darling Whelp;
Here Gallypots and Vials plac'd,
Some fill'd with washes, some with Paste,
Some with Pomatum, Paints and Slops, 
And Ointments good for scabby Chops.
Hard by a filthy Bason stands,
Fowl'd with the Scouring of her Hands;
The Bason takes whatever comes
The Scrapings of her Teeth and Gums, 
A nasty Compound of all Hues,
For here she spits, and here she spues.
But oh! it turn'd poor Strephon's Bowels,
When he beheld and smelt the Towels,
Begumm'd, bematter'd, and beslim'd 
With Dirt, and Sweat, and Ear-Wax grim'd.
No Object Strephon's Eye escapes,
Here Pettycoats in frowzy Heaps;
Nor be the Handkerchiefs forgot
All varnish'd o'er with Snuff and Snot. 
The Stockings, why shou'd I expose,
Stain'd with the Marks of stinking Toes;
Or greasy Coifs and Pinners reeking,
Which Celia slept at least a Week in?
A Pair of Tweezers next he found 
To pluck her Brows in Arches round,
Or Hairs that sink the Forehead low,
Or on her Chin like Bristles grow.
The Virtues we must not let pass,
Of Celia's magnifying Glass. 
When frighted Strephon cast his Eye on't
It shew'd the Visage of a Gyant.
A Glass that can to Sight disclose,
The smallest Worm in Celia's Nose,
And faithfully direct her Nail 
To squeeze it out from Head to Tail;
For catch it nicely by the Head,
It must come out alive or dead.
Why Strephon will you tell the rest?
And must you needs describe the Chest? 
That careless Wench! no Creature warn her
To move it out from yonder Corner;
But leave it standing full in Sight
For you to exercise your Spight.
In vain, the Workman shew'd his Wit 
With Rings and Hinges counterfeit
To make it seem in this Disguise,
A Cabinet to vulgar Eyes;
For Strephon ventur'd to look in,
Resolv'd to go thro' thick and thin; 
He lifts the Lid, there needs no more,
He smelt it all the Time before.
As from within Pandora's Box,
When Epimetheus op'd the Locks,
A sudden universal Crew 
Of humane Evils upwards flew;
He still was comforted to find
That Hope at last remain'd behind;
So Strephon lifting up the Lid,
To view what in the Chest was hid. 
The Vapours flew from out the Vent,
But Strephon cautious never meant
The Bottom of the Pan to grope,
And fowl his Hands in Search of Hope.
O never may such vile Machine 
Be once in Celia's Chamber seen!
O may she better learn to keep
"Those Secrets of the hoary deep!"
As Mutton Cutlets, Prime of Meat,
Which tho' with Art you salt and beat, 
As Laws of Cookery require,
And toast them at the clearest Fire;
If from adown the hopful Chops
The Fat upon a Cinder drops,
To stinking Smoak it turns the Flame 
Pois'ning the Flesh from whence it came;
And up exhales a greasy Stench,
For which you curse the careless Wench;
So Things, which must not be exprest,
When plumpt into the reeking Chest; 
Send up an excremental Smell
To taint the Parts from whence they fell.
The Pettycoats and Gown perfume,
Which waft a Stink round every Room.
Thus finishing his grand Survey, 
Disgusted Strephon stole away
Repeating in his amorous Fits,
Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits!
But Vengeance, Goddess never sleeping
Soon punish'd Strephon for his Peeping; 
His foul Imagination links
Each Dame he sees with all her Stinks:
And, if unsav'ry Odours fly,
Conceives a Lady standing by:
All Women his Description fits, 
And both Idea's jump like Wits:
By vicious Fancy coupled fast,
And still appearing in Contrast.
I pity wretched Strephon blind
To all the Charms of Female Kind; 
Should I the Queen of Love refuse,
Because she rose from stinking Ooze?
To him that looks behind the Scene,
Satira's but some pocky Quean.
When Celia in her Glory shows, 
If Strephon would but stop his Nose;
(Who now so impiously blasphemes
Her Ointments, Daubs, and Paints and Creams,
Her Washes, Slops, and every Clout,
With which he makes so foul a Rout;) 
He soon would learn to think like me,
And bless his ravisht Sight to see
Such Order from Confusion sprung,
Such gaudy Tulips rais'd from Dung.
The names Strephon
and Celia come from classical pastoral poetry or romance.
Betty is the generic name for a maidservant.
Lead was used as a cosmetic to whiten the face.
Allum flower, or powded alum, is used as an antiperspirant.
Tripsy, a typical name of a lapdog.
Pomatum, "ointment for the hair."
Coifs and Pinners, "night caps."
Machine, "Any complicated piece of workmanship" (Johnson).
"Those Secrets of the hoary deep": See Paradise Lost, 2.890-91: "Before their eyes in sudden view appear/The secrets of the hoary Deep."
Satira, the heroine of The Rival Queens by Nathaniel Lee; quean, "A worthless woman, generally a strumpet" (Johnson). Pocky suggests either smallpox or a venereal disease.
(Don't forget to press the SUBMIT button when done with the questions or your answers won't be recorded.)