The Dean’s Provocation for Writing the Dressing-Room

Original Text: 
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Dean's Provocation for Writing the Lady's Dressing-room. A Poem (London: T. Cooper, 1734). ESTC T102901. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale CW113593941.
2His golden snuff box in his hand,
3With care his diamond ring displays,
4And artful shows its various Rays;
5While grave he stalks down -- Street
6His dearest -- to meet.
7Long had he waited for this hour,
8Nor gain'd admittance to the bow'r;
9Had jok'd, and punn'd, and swore, and writ,
10Try'd all his gallantry and wit;
11Had told her oft what part he bore,
13But bawdy, politicks, nor satyr,
14Could touch this dull hard-hearted creature.
15Jenny, her maid, could taste a rhyme,
16And griev'd to see him lose his time,
17Had kindly whisper'd in his ear,
18For twice two pounds you enter here;
19My lady vows without that sum,
20It is in vain you write or come.
21The destin'd off'ring now he brought,
22And in a paradise of thought;
23With a low bow approach'd the dame,
24Who smiling heard him preach his flame.
25His gold she took (such proofs as these
26Convince most unbelieving shees)
27And in her trunk rose up to lock it,
28(Too wise to trust it in her pocket)
29And then return'd with blushing grace,
30Expects the Doctor's warm embrace.
31And now this is the proper place,
32Where morals stare me in the face;
33And for the sake of fine expression,
34I'm forc'd to make a small digression.
35Alas! for wretched human-kind,
36With wisdom mad, with learning blind,
37The ox thinks he's for saddle fit,
38(As long ago friend Horace writ;)
39And men their talents still mistaking,
40The stutterer fancys his is speaking.
41With admiration oft we see,
42Hard features heighten'd by toupet;
43The beau affects the politician,
44Wit is the citizen's ambition;
46With so much rhyme and little reason;
47But tho' he preaches ne'er so long,
48That all is right, his head is wrong.
49None strive to know their proper merit,
50But strain for wisdom, beauty, spirit.
51Nature to ev'ry thing alive,
52Points out the path to shine or thrive,
53But man, vain man, who grasps the whole,
54Shows in all heads a touch of fool;
55Who lose the praise that is their due,
56While they've th' impossible in view.
57[So have I seen the injudicious heir,
58To add one window, the whole house impair.]
59Instinct the hound does better teach,
60Who never undertook to preach;
61The frighted hare from dogs does run,
62But not attempts to bear a gun---
63Here many noble thoughts occur,
64But I prolixity abhor;
65And will pursue th' instructive tale,
66To show the wise in some things fail.
67The rev'rend lover, with surprise,
68Peeps in her bubbies and her eyes,
69And kisses both --- and tries --- and tries
70The ev'ning in this hellish play,
71Besides his guineas thrown away;
72Provok'd the priest to that degree,
73He swore, The fault is not in me.
74Your damn'd close stool so near my nose,
75Your dirty smock, and stinking toes,
76Would make a Hercules as tame,
77As any beau that you can name.
78The nymph grown furious, roar'd, by G-d,
79The blame lyes all in sixty odd;
80And scornful, pointing to the door,
81Said, Fumbler see my face no more.
82With all my heart, I'll go away,
83But nothing done, I'll nothing pay;
84Give back the Money -- how, cry'd she,
85Would you palm such a cheat on me?
86I've lock'd it in the trunk stands there,
87Go break it open if you dare;
88For poor four pounds to roar and bellow,
90What if your verses have not sold,
91Must therefore I return your gold?
92Perhaps your have no better luck in
93The knack of rhyming than of ---
94I won't give back one single crown,
95To wash your band, or turn your gown.
96I'll be reveng'd you sawcy Quean,
97(Replys the disapointed Dean)
98I'll so describe your dressing-room
99The very Irish shall not come;
100She answer'd short, I'm glad you'll write,
101You'll furnish paper when I sh---e.


1] The poem responds to Jonathan Swift's "The Lady's Dressing Room" (1732). Back to Line
12] Oxford: Robert Harley, first earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, who served Queen Anne during 1711-14 as her First Lord of the Treasury. At this time Swift worked within Oxford's Tory government. Back to Line
45] P---: Alexander Pope closes the first epistle of his An Essay on Man with the line, "One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right." Back to Line
89] Prunella: a woman's given name, from the Latin for "plum." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: