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    The Furniture of a Woman's Mind

    by Jonathan Swift
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    (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.]
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