Tag Archives: fashion

Jonathan Swift, “The Furniture of a Woman’s Mind”

JONATHAN SWIFT

 The Furniture of a Woman’s Mind.

 Written in the Year 1727

 

A Set of Phrases learn’d by Rote;
A Passion for a Scarlet-Coat;
When at a Play to laugh, or cry,
Yet cannot tell the Reason why:
Never to hold her Tongue a Minute;                                    5
While all she prates has nothing in it.
Whole Hours can with a Coxcomb sit,
And take his Nonsense all for Wit;
Her Learning mounts to read a Song;
But, half the Words pronouncing wrong;                             10
Has ev’ry Rapartee in Store,
She spoke ten Thousand Times before,
Can ready Compliments supply
On all Occasions, cut and dry.
Such Hatred to a Parson’s Gown,                                           15
The Sight will put her in a Swoon.
For Conversation well endu’d;
She calls it witty to be rude;
And, placing Raillery in Railing;
Will tell aloud your greatest Failing;                                        20
Nor makes a Scruple to expose
Your bandy Leg, or crooked Nose.
Can at her Morning Tea, run o’er
The Scandal of the Day before,
Improving hourly in her Skill,                                                    25
To cheat and wrangle at Quadrille.

In chusing Lace a Critick nice,
Knows to a Groat the lowest Price;
Can in her Female Clubs dispute
What Lining best the Silk will suit;                                            30
What Colours each Complexion match,
And where with Art to place a Patch.

If chance a Mouse creeps in her Sight,
Can finely counterfeit a Fright;
So, sweetly screams if it comes near her,                               35
She ravishes all Hearts to hear her.
Can dext’rously her Husband teize,
By taking Fits whene’er she please:
By frequent Practice learns the Trick
At proper Seasons to be sick;                                                    40
Thinks nothing gives one Airs so pretty;
At once creating Love and Pity.
If Molly happens to be careless,
And but neglects to warm her Hair-Lace,
She gets a Cold as sure as Death;                                             45
And vows she scarce can fetch her Breath:
Admires how modest Women can
Be so robustious like a Man.

In Party, furious to her Power:
A bitter Whig, or Tory sow’r.                                                       50
Her arguments directly tend
Against the Side she would defend:
Will prove herself a Tory plain,
From Principles the Whigs maintain;
And, to defend the Whiggish Cause,                                          55
Her Topicks from the Tories draws.

O yes! If any Man can find
More Virtues in a Woman’s Mind,
Let them be sent to Mrs. Harding,
She’ll pay the Charges to a Farthing:                                         60
Take Notice, she has my Commission
To add them to the next Edition:
They may out-sell a better Thing;
So, Halloo Boys! God save the King.

NOTES:

 2 Scarlet-Coat  A reference to a soldier in the British army; from the seventeenth century onwards known as “redcoats” (OED).

 6 prates To “speak foolishly” or with “little purpose” (OED).

 7 Coxcomb  A “fool” or “simpleton” (OED).

 11 Rapartee  “A witty or sharp reply” (OED).

15 Parson’s Clergyman of the Anglican Church of England (OED).

 19 Raillery  “Abusive, unpleasant or unkind criticism” (OED).

 26 Quadrille  “A trick-taking card game for four players using forty cards” (OED).

 28 Groat  An English coin worth four pence that “ceased to be issued for circulation in 1662” (OED).

32 Patch  “A small piece of black material, typically silk or velvet, cut into a decorative shape and worn on the face, either for adornment or to conceal a blemish, esp. in the 17th and 18th centuries” (OED).

 37 teize Tease; to “worry”, “vex” or “annoy” (OED).

 43 Molly  “A girl, a woman, esp. a lower-class one” (OED).

 44 Hair-Lace  “A string or tie for binding the hair; a fillet, headband” (OED).

 50 Whig  “One faction of two opposing political parties in England, particularly during the 18th century. ‘Whigs’ was applied to those who claimed the power of excluding the heir from the throne” (Encyclopaedia Britannica); Tory  “One faction of two opposing political parties in England. ‘Tory’ applied to those who supported the hereditary right of James, duke of York, despite his Roman Catholic faith” (Encyclopaedia Britannica); sow’r  Variant of sour: “having a harsh, morose, or peevish disposition” (OED).

59 Mrs. Harding  Sarah Harding, widow of Dublin printer John Harding who was prosecuted for publishing Swift’s Drapier’s Letters in 1724.  At her husband’s death in 1725, Sarah took over the business and, despite being taken into custody briefly in 1725 herself, she continued to publish politically controversial work by Swift (James Woolley, “Sarah Harding as Swift’s Printer,” in Walking Naboth’s Vineyard: New Studies of Swift, pp. 164-77).

 60 Farthing “The quarter of a penny; the coin representing this value” (OED).

SOURCE: The Works of Jonathan Swift, vol. 2 (Dublin, 1751), pp. 248-50. [HathiTrust]

 Edited by Alejandra Pereda

William Kenrick, “The Beau and Butterfly. A Fable”

[WILLIAM KENRICK]

The BEAU and BUTTERFLY. A FABLE.”

 When summer deckt each sylvan scene,
And sunshine smil’d along the green,
When groves allur’d with noon tide shade,
And purling brooks refesh’d the glade;
An empty form of empty show,                                                  5
A flutt’ring insect, call’d a beau,
In gaudy colours rich and gay,
A mere papilio of the day,
Was seen around the fields to rove,
And haunt by turns, the stream and grove:                            10
A silver zone entwin’d his head,
His belly shone with lively red,
His wings were green, but studded o’er
With gold embroider’d spots before.
Around him various insects came,                                           15
Of diff’rent colour, diff’rent name;
And ting’d with ev’ry gorgeous die,
Among the rest a butterfly;
His wings are spread with wanton pride,
And beauty fades from all beside.                                            20
The beau beholds with envious eyes,
The living radiance as it flies,
“And shall, said he, this worthless thing,
That lives but on a summer’s wing,
This flying worm more gaudy shine?                                        25
And wear a dress more gay than mine?
Is this wise nature’s equal care
To deck a butterfly so fair?
While man her worthiest, greatest part,
Must wear the homely rags of art!”                                          30
Thus reason’d he, as reason beaux,
The subject of their logick cloaths,
And thus the butterfly reply’d,
With deeper tints by anger dy’d,
“Vain, trifling mortal! could’st thou boast,                               35
To prize what nature prizes most
On man bestow’d, thou would’st not see
With envy ought she gives to me.
This painted vestment, all my store,
She gives, and I can claim no more—                                       40
But man, for greater ends design’d,
Shou’d boast the beauties of the mind.
More bright than gold thy wisdom shine,
And virtue’s sacred charms be thine.
To rule the world by reason taught,                                          45
On dress disdain to waste a thought,
For he whom folly bends so low,
Ambitious to be thought a beau,
Is studious only to be gay,
In toilet-arts consumes the day;                                                50
And the long trifling labours o’er,
Takes wing, and bids the world adore,
Looks down with scorn on rival flies,
Himself less splendid and less wise,
With scorn, his scorn return’d again                                         55
Proud insect! impotently vain!
The fool, who thus by self is priz’d,
By others justly is despis’d;”
She said, and flutter’d round on high,
Nor staid to hear the beau’s reply.                                           60

NOTES:

1 sylvan “One who (or something that) inhabits a wood or forest; a being of the woods” (OED).

6 beau “A man who gives particular, or excessive, attention to dress, mein, and social etiquette; an exquisite, a fop, a dandy” (OED).

8 papilio “A butterfly or large moth” (OED).

50 toilet-arts Historical usage of the word toilet, meaning “the action or process of washing, dressing, or arranging the hair” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 18 (May 1748), p. 231.

Edited by Sierra Moreno

Anonymous, “On seeing Saphira in a Riding Habit”

ANONYMOUS

 On seeing SAPHIRA in a Riding Habit

 WHEN Sapphira, in her sex’s garb we see,
The queen of beauty then she seems to be:
Now, fair Adonis, in this male disguise,
Or Cupid, killing with his mother’s eyes:
No stile of empire’s chang’d by this remove,                                                       5
Who seem’d the goddess, seems the god of love.

NOTES:

Title Riding Habit “A garment or outfit worn for horse riding; (in later use) a riding dress worn by women or girls, consisting of a long skirt and tight-fitting, double-breasted jacket” (OED).

3 Adonis In classical myth, a beautiful youth loved by both Aphrodite and Persephone. In extended usage, an Adonis is an extremely handsome young man (OCD).

4 Cupid, killing with his mothers eyes In classical mythology, the god of love and desire. He is often portrayed as the son of Venus, the goddess of love.

5 stile Variant spelling of the word “style.”

Source: The Gentlemans Magazine, vol. 36 (February 1766), p. 89.

Edited by Sierra Moreno

Mary Masters, “On seeing a Lady…”

 

MARY MASTERS

“On seeing a Lady with a new fashion’d Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up”

The Round-ear’d Cap (once worn with decent Pride)
And Velvet Bonnet both are thrown aside;
The Beaver, now, cock’d up with bolder Air,
And manly Habit, please the fickle Fair.
Yet, for Excuse, it justly may be said,                              5
A Scheme with deepest Policy is laid:
Since, among Men, there is a stupid Race,
Who slight the Graces of the Female Face:
Since Fops so long have self-enamour’d been,
And view the Mirror with a raptur’d Mien;                    10
They hope in this Disguise each Beau to charm,
And win th’ Apostates with a mimick Form.
With happy Art so justly they improve,
Sure all must now the Manlike Beauties love.


NOTES:

Title Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up The female riding habit dates from the 1660s, and was usually comprised of a jacket and waistcoat in imitation of men’s fashion at the time, with a similar cravat worn at the neck, a periwig and cocked hat on the head, and full skirts and petticoats. Criticism of this androgynous female fashion came from influential literary men like Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, John Gay, Samuel Richardson, and Horace Walpole through the first half of the century, and popular periodicals like the London Journal and the Gentleman’s Magazine inveighed against the practice in the 1730s.

1 Round-ear’d cap Headwear for women, made of linen or cotton, that curved around the head to cover the ears and edged with lace or ruffles; fashionable in the early decades of the eighteenth century.

3 Beaver…cock’d up A hat made of felted beaver fur, with the brim folded up; probably a reference to the popular tri-corner style hat.

9 Fops A derogatory term for a vain, dandyish man.

11 Beau A handsome, fashionable young man; here a synonym for “fop.”

12 Apostates Those who have abandoned their religious faith, political allegiances, or principles in general.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 157-8.

Edited by Bill Christmas