Maiden Dress

Maiden Dress

How I've splashed and soiled my gown!
With this gadding through the town:
How bedraggled is my skirt,
Traipsing through the bye-streets dirt:
In what a state for me to be,
From this Town-life gaiety!
Come girls here, come all I know,
Playmates mine, advise me, shew
In this plight that I'm come to,
What is best for me to do?
How shall I remove this stain,
And restore my gown again?

If to wash it out I try-
Washing shrinks the cloth when dry;
Makes the colour often fade,
Or else gives a darker shade:
If I cut it out, there'll be
Such a hole that all must see:
If I rub it hard, 'twill take
All the nap off then, and make
Yet more plain, the stain that ne'er
Honest maiden's dress should bear.
Pray then tell me some of you,
What in this mishap to do?
Thus so slut-like to be stained,
Makes me of myself ashamed;
For wherever I may go,
People will look at me so,-
And think perhaps, such dirt to see,
I 'm not what I ought to be.

Say, can none of you suggest,
What in such a case is best?-
No? -then this I plainly see,
You must warning take by me!
If you would not soil your gown;
Go not gadding through the town:
In the streets who plays the flirt,
Never yet escaped some dirt:
Run not therefore East and Weft,
Home for girls is much the best.

Maidens, wherefoe'er you go,
Walking, traveling to and fro;
Over land or over sea,
In whatever way it be;
In the Country or the Town,
Over meadow, dale or down,
Over hill or over moor,
In the house or out of door,
Over road or over street,
Girls, where'er you bend your feet,
Keep your Clothes and Kirtles neat.

~ "Moral Emblems" from Jacob Cats and Robert Farlie, 1860. Not in copyright.
Rendered in modern English orthography by Kate Marinovsky.
Image (taken from the book) is engraved by Leighton.


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