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The Ladys Dressing Room

Written by: Jonathan Swift | Biography
 | Quotes (86) |
 Five hours, (and who can do it less in?)
By haughty Celia spent in dressing;
The goddess from her chamber issues,
Arrayed in lace, brocades, and tissues.
Strephon, who found the room was void And Betty otherwise employed, 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 appeared, Beneath the arm-pits well besmeared.
Strephon, the rogue, displayed it wide And turned it round on every side.
On such a point few words are best, And Strephon bids us guess the rest; And swears how damnably the men lie In calling Celia sweet and cleanly.
Now listen while he next produces The various combs for various uses, Filled up with dirt so closely fixt, No brush could force a way betwixt.
A paste of composition rare, Sweat, dandruff, powder, lead and hair; A forehead cloth with oil upon't To smooth the wrinkles on her front.
Here alum flower to stop the steams Exhaled from sour unsavory streams; There night-gloves made of Tripsy's hide, Bequeath'd by Tripsy when she died, With puppy water, beauty's help, Distilled from Tripsy's darling whelp; Here gallypots and vials placed, Some filled with washes, some with paste, Some with pomatum, paints and slops, And ointments good for scabby chops.
Hard by a filthy basin stands, Fouled with the scouring of her hands; The basin takes whatever comes, The scrapings of her teeth and gums, A nasty compound of all hues, For here she spits, and here she spews.
But oh! it turned poor Strephon's bowels, When he beheld and smelt the towels, Begummed, besmattered, and beslimed With dirt, and sweat, and ear-wax grimed.
No object Strephon's eye escapes: Here petticoats in frowzy heaps; Nor be the handkerchiefs forgot All varnished o'er with snuff and snot.
The stockings, why should I expose, Stained 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 shewed the visage of a giant.
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 spite.
In vain, the workman shewed his wit With rings and hinges counterfeit To make it seem in this disguise A cabinet to vulgar eyes; For Strephon ventured to look in, Resolved to go through 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 oped the locks, A sudden universal crew Of humane evils upwards flew, He still was comforted to find That Hope at last remained 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 foul 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, though with art you salt and beat As laws of cookery require And toast them at the clearest fire, If from adown the hopeful chops The fat upon the cinder drops, To stinking smoke it turns the flame Poisoning 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 petticoats 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 punished Strephon for his peeping: His foul Imagination links Each dame he see with all her stinks; And, if unsavory odors fly, Conceives a lady standing by.
All women his description fits, And both ideas 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 queen.
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 ravished sight to see Such order from confusion sprung, Such gaudy tulips raised from dung.



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