Press Down The Lumps, The Hollows Fill

Jonathan Swift, Irish-born Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, was 67 when he wrote a poem called A Beautiful Young Nymph Going To Bed, about a prostitute taking off her work persona (her clothes, makeup, wig) at the end of the day. It wasn’t the only poem of its kind that he wrote, and because it was meant to be a dig at not just prostitutes but all of ‘the fairer sex’, it drew the wrath of his female contemporaries. But for the purposes of my research, and because the other poems he wrote in this style mostly deal with hair/make-up/ washing habits rather than clothing, here is the one bit of the poem that gives some info about eighteenth-century (1734) textiles that ‘Corinna’ was wearing. This is the first half of the poem, with the textilesy bit bolded at the end. (You really should click and read the whole thing though, it’s fantastic, even if it is brimful of male gaze, intolerance and antipathy.)

Corinna, Pride of Drury-Lane,
For whom no Shepherd sighs in vain;
Never did Covent Garden boast
So bright a batter’d, strolling Toast;
No drunken Rake to pick her up,
No Cellar where on Tick to sup;
Returning at the Midnight Hour;
Four Stories climbing to her Bow’r;
Then, seated on a three-legg’d Chair,
Takes off her artificial Hair:
Now, picking out a Crystal Eye,
She wipes it clean, and lays it by.
Her Eye-Brows from a Mouse’s Hyde,
Stuck on with Art on either Side,
Pulls off with Care, and first displays ’em,
Then in a Play-Book smoothly lays ’em.
Now dextrously her Plumpers draws,
That serve to fill her hollow Jaws.
Untwists a Wire; and from her Gums
A Set of Teeth completely comes.
Pulls out the Rags contriv’d to prop
Her flabby Dugs and down they drop.
Proceeding on, the lovely Goddess
Unlaces next her Steel-Rib’d Bodice;
Which by the Operator’s Skill,
Press down the Lumps, the Hollows fill,
Up goes her Hand, and off she slips
The Bolsters that supply her Hips.

This entry was posted in dublin, eighteenth century, ireland, poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Press Down The Lumps, The Hollows Fill

  1. Pingback: A Law to Cut Off All Our Weavers’ Fingers | Irish Historical Textiles

  2. Pingback: Abundantly Happy When They Can Afford An Athlone Hat | Irish Historical Textiles

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