Meddlesome Mattie

by Ann Taylor

One ugly trick has often spoiled
  The sweetest and the best;
Matilda, though a pleasant child,
  One ugly trick possessed,
Which, like a cloud before the skies,
  Hid all her better qualities.

Sometimes she'd lift the tea-pot lid,
  To peep at what was in it;
Of tilt the kettle, if you did
  But turn your back a minute.
In vain you told her not to touch,
Her trick of meddling grew so much

Her grandmamma went out one day
  And by mistake she laid
Her spectacles and snuff-box gay
  Too near the little maid;
"Ah! well," thought she, "I'll try them on,
As soon as grandmamma is gone."

Forthwirh she placed them on her nose
  The glasses large and wide;
And looking round, as I suppose,
  The snuff-box too she spied;
"Oh! what a pretty box is that;
I'll open it," said little Matt,
"I know that gradmamma would say,
  'Don't meddle with it, dear.'
But then, she's far enough away,
  And no one else is near;
Besides, what can there be amiss
In opening such a box as this?"

So thumb and finger went to work
  To move the stubborn lid,
And presently a mighty jerk
  The mighty mischief did;
For all at once, ah! woeful case,
The snuff came puffing in her face.

Poor eyes, and nose, and mouth beside
  A dismal sight presented;
In vain, as bitterly she cried,
  Her folly she repented.
In vain she ran about for ease;
She could do nothing else but sneeze.

She dashed the spectacles away
  To wipe her tingling eyes,
And as in twenty bits they lay,
  Her grandmamma she spies.
"Heyday! and what's the matter now?!
Says grandmamma with lifted brow.

Matilda, smarting with the pain,
  And tingling still, and sore,
Made many a promise to refrain
  From meddling evermore.
And 'tis a fact, as I have heard,
She ever since has kept her word.



van Dyck


Meddlesome Mattie


Taylor, Ann

Year of Publication:


Age Appropriate:



Sestet: quatrain with couplet









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Things to Discuss:

Who are the main characters? What type of child was Matilda? Do you know anyone like Matilda? How did Matilda learn a lesson about not meddling with things that belong to others? Did she learn because she was "afraid" or did she learn because it was wrong?

About the Poet:

English poet who wrote for children's magazines.