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The Furniture of a Woman's Mind

(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,
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;
Has every repartee 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,
The sight would put her in a swoon;
For conversation well endued,
She calls it witty to be rude;
And, placing raillery in railing,
Will tell aloud your greatest failing;
Nor make 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,
To cheat and wrangle at quadrille.


In choosing lace, a critic nice,
Knows to a groat the lowest price;
Can in her female clubs dispute,
What linen best the silk will suit,
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,
She ravishes all hearts to hear her.
Can dext'rously her husband teaze,
By taking fits whene'er she please;
By frequent practice learns the trick
At proper seasons to be sick;
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,
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 sour;
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,
Her topics 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;[1]
She'll pay the charges to a farthing;
Take notice, she has my commission
To add them in the next edition;
They may outsell a better thing:
So, holla, boys; God save the King!


[Footnote 1: Widow of John Harding, the Drapier's printer.--F.]



Jonathan Swift