A Mrs. Malaprop, or Tabitha Bramble, famous for her misuse of hard words. (B. P. Shillaber; an American author.)
Dame Partington and her mop.
A taunt against those who try to withstand progress. The newspapers say that a Mrs. Partington had a cottage at Sidmouth, in Devonshire. In November, 1824, a heavy gale drove the seawaves into her house, and the old lady laboured with a mop to sop the wet up, till she was obliged to take refuge in the upper part of the house. The Rev. Sydney Smith, speaking on the Lords rejection of the Reform Bill, October, 1831, compares them to Dame Partington with her mop, trying to push back the Atlantic. “She was excellent,” he says, “at a slop or puddle, but should never have meddled with a tempest.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894