The Lady's Dressing Room

Original Text: 
The Lady's Dressing Room., By the Rev. Dr. S---T., 2nd edn. (London, J. Roberts, 1732): 3-12. ESTC T140659. sinc 00328 Fisher Rare Book Library. ECCO CW114789467.
1Five hours, (and who can do it less in?)
2By haughty Celia spent in dressing;
3The goddess from her chamber issues,
4Array'd in lace, brocades and tissues.
5Strephon, who found the room was void,
6And Betty otherwise employ'd;
7Stole in, and took a strict survey,
8Of all the litter as it lay;
9Whereof, to make the matter clear,
10An inventory follows here.
11And first a dirty smock appear'd,
12Beneath the arm-pits well besmear'd.
13Strephon, the rogue, display'd it wide,
14And turn'd it round on every side.
15On such a point few words are best,
16And Strephon bids us guess the rest;
17But swears how damnably the men lie,
18In calling Celia sweet and cleanly.
19Now listen, while he next produces,
20The various combs for various uses,
21Fill'd up with dirt so closely fixt,
22No brush could force a way betwixt.
23A paste of composition rare,
24Sweat, dandriff, powder, lead and hair;
25A forehead cloth with oyl upon't
26To smooth the wrinkles on her front;
28Exhal'd from sour, unsavoury streams;
30Bequeath'd by Tripsy when she dy'd,
31With puppy water, beauty's help
32Distill'd from Tripsy's darling whelp.
34Some fill'd with washes, some with paste,
36And ointments good for scabby chops.
37Hard by a filthy bason stands,
38Fowl'd with the scouring of her hands;
39The bason takes whatever comes,
40The scrapings from her teeth and gums,
41A nasty compound of all hues,
42For here she spits, and here she spues.
43But oh! it turn'd poor Strephon's bowels,
44When he beheld and smelt the towels,
45Begumm'd, bematter'd, and beslim'd
46With dirt, and sweat, and ear-wax grim'd.
47No object Strephon's eye escapes,
48Here pettycoats in frowzy heaps;
49Nor be the handkerchiefs forgot
50All varnish'd o'er with snuff and snot.
51The stockings, why shou'd I expose,
52Stain'd with the marks of stinking toes;
54Which Celia slept at least a week in?
55A pair of tweezers next he found
56To pluck her brows in arches round,
57Or hairs that sink the forehead low,
58Or on her chin like bristles grow.
60Of Celia's magnifying glass.
61When frighted Strephon cast his eye on't,
62It shew'd the visage of a gyant.
63A glass that can to sight disclose,
64The smallest worm in Celia's nose,
65And faithfully direct her nail
66To squeeze it out from head to tail;
67For catch it nicely by the head,
68It must come out alive or dead.
69Why Strephon will you tell the rest?
70And must you needs describe the chest?
71That careless wench! no creature warn her
72To move it out from yonder corner;
73But leave it standing full in sight
74For you to exercise your spight.
75In vain, the workman shew'd his wit
76With rings and hinges counterfeit,
77To make it seem in this disguise,
78A cabinet to vulgar eyes;
79For Strephon ventur'd to look in,
80Resolv'd to go thro' thick and thin;
81He lifts the lid, there needs no more,
82He smelt it all the time before.
83As from within Pandora's box,
85A sudden universal crew
86Of humane evils upwards flew;
87He still was comforted to find
88That hope at last remain'd behind;
89So Strephon lifting up the lid,
90To view what in the chest was hid,
91The vapours flew from out the vent,
92But Strephon cautious never meant
93The bottom of the pan to grope,
94And fowl his hands in search of hope.
95O never may such vile machine
96Be once in Celia's chamber seen!
97O may she better learn to keep
98"Those secrets of the hoary deep!
99As mutton cutlets, prime of meat,
100Which tho' with art you salt and beat,
101As laws of cookery require,
102And toast them at the clearest fire;
103If from adown the hopeful chops
104The fat upon a cinder drops,
105To stinking smoke it turns the flame
106Pois'ning the flesh from whence it came;
107And up exhales a greasy stench,
108For which you curse the careless wench;
109So things, which must not be exprest,
110When plumpt into the reeking chest,
111Send up an excremental smell,
112To taint the parts from whence they fell,
113The pettycoats and gown perfume,
114Which waft a stink round every room.
115Thus finishing his grand survey,
116Disgusted Strephon stole away,
117Repeating in his amorous fits,
118Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits!
119But Vengeance, goddess never sleeping
120Soon punish'd Strephon for his peeping.
121His foul imagination links
122Each dame he sees with all her stinks;
123And, if unsav'ry odours fly,
124Conceives a lady standing by:
125All women his description fits,
126And both idea's jump like wits:
127By vicious fancy coupled fast,
128And still appearing in contrast.
129I pity wretched Strephon blind
130To all the charms of female kind.
131Should I the Queen of Love refuse,
132Because she rose from stinking ooze?
133To him that looks behind the scene,
135When Celia in her glory shows,
136If Strephon would but stop his nose;
137(Who now so impiously blasphemes
138Her ointments, daubs, and paints and creams,
139Her washes, slops, and every clout,
140With which he makes so foul a rout!)
141He soon would learn to think like me,
142And bless his ravisht eyes to see
143Such order from confusion sprung,
144Such gaudy tulips rais'd from dung.


27] allum flower: calcined and powdered alum, "very astringent, used in dyeing, tawing skins, and medicine" (OED). Back to Line
29] Tripsy: name of a pet dog. Back to Line
33] gallypots: glazed earthen pots to store ointment and medicine. Back to Line
35] pomatum: scented ointment. Back to Line
53] coif and pinners: caps. Back to Line
59] let: copytext reads "less". Back to Line
84] Epimetheus: husband of Pandora, whose "jar" (once opened) released all human miseries and left only one thing inside, hope. Back to Line
134] Statira: wife of Darius III of Persia, reputedly the most beautiful woman of her time. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: