Day, a Pastoral (1814)/The Stubborn Dame

Day, a Pastoral  (1814)  by John Cunningham
The Stubborn Dame


There was a little stubborn dame
Whom no authority could tame,
Restive by long indulgence grown,
No will she minded but her own:
At trifles oft she'd scold and fret,
Then in a corner take a seat,
And sourly moping all the day,
Disdain alike to work or play.
Papa all softer arts had try'd,
And sharper remedies apply'd;
But both were vain, for every coures
He took still made her worse and worse.
'Tis strange to think how female wit
So oft should make a lucky hit
When man with all his high pretence
To deeper judgment, sounder sense
Will err, and measures false pursue.
'Tis very strange, I own, but true.
Mamma observ'd the rising lass
By stealth retiring to the glass,
To practise little airs unseen,
In the true genius of thirteen:
On this a deep design she laid
To tame the humour of the maid:
Contriving, like a prudent mother,
To make one folly cure another.
Upon the wall against the seat
Which Jessy us'd for her retreat,
Whene'er by accident offended,
A looking-glass was straight suspended,
That it might shew her how deform'd
She look'd, and frightful when she stormed,
And warn her, as she priz'd her beauty,
To bend her humour to her duty:
All this the looking-glass achiev'd,
Its threats were minded and believ'd.
 The maid who spurn'd at all advice,
Grew tame and gentle in a trice;
So when all other means had fail'd,
The silent monitor prevailed.
 Thus, fable to the human kind
Presents an image of the mind;
It is a mirror, where we spy
At large our own deformity,
And learn of course, those faults to mend,
Which but to mention would offend.