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Finally, when the coast is clear, Oberon cries,

So we are clean got off: come, noble peers
Of Fairy, come, attend our royal Grace.

Let's go and share our fruit with our queen Mab
And the other dairy-maids: where of this theme
We will discourse amidst our cakes and cream.

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Which in the meadows made such circlets green,
As if with garlands it had crowned been;
Or like the circle where the signs we track,
And learned shepherds call 't the Zodiac ;
Within one of these rounds was to be seen
A hillock rise, where oft the fairy-queen
At twilight sate, and did command her elves

To pinch those maids that had not swept their shelves;
And further, if, by maiden's oversight,
Within-doors water were not brought at night,
Or if they spread no table, set no bread,
They should have nips from toe unto the head;
And for the maid who had perform'd each thing,
She in the water-pail bade leave a ring.

Song 2.

Or of the faiery troops which nimbly play,
And by the springs dance out the summer's day,
Teaching the little birds to build their nests,
And in their singing how to keepen rests.

As men by fairies led fallen in a dream.

Song 4.

Ibid.

But Drayton is the poet after Shakspeare for whom the Fairies had the greatest attractions. Even in the Polyolbion he does not neglect them. In Song XXI, Ringdale, in Cambridgeshire, says,

For in my very midst there is a swelling ground About which Ceres' Nymphs dance many a wanton round; The frisking fairy there, as on the light air borne, Oft run at barley-break upon the ears of corn; And catching drops of dew in their lascivious chases, Do cast the liquid pearl in one another's faces.

Nymphidia is a delicious piece of airy and fanciful invention. The description of Oberon's palace in the air, Mab's amours with the gentle Pigwiggin, the mad freaks of the jealous Oberon, the pygmy Orlando, the mutual artifices of Puck and the Fairy maids of honour, Hop, Mop, Pip, Trip, and Co., and the furious combat of Oberon and the doughty Pigwiggin, mounted on their earwig chargers-present altogether an unequalled fancy-piece, set in the very best and most appropriate frame of metre.

It contains, moreover, several traits of traditionary Fairy lore, such as in these lines:

Hence shadows, seeming idle shapes
Of little frisking elves and apes,

To earth do make their wanton skapes,
As hope of pastime hastes them;
Which maids think on the hearth they see,
When fires well near consumed be,
There dancing hays by two and three,
Just as their fancy casts them.
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These make our girls their sluttery rue,
By pinching them both black and blue,
And but a penny in their shoe,

nly sweeping;

[graphic]

These, when a child haps to be got,
That after proves an idiot,
When folk perceive it thriveth not,

The fault therein to smother,
Some silly, doting, brainless calf,
That understands things by the half,
Says that the fairy left this aulf,
And took away the other.

And in these:

This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt,
Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt,

Of purpose to deceive us ;
And leading us, makes us to stray
Long winter nights out of the way;
And when we stick in mire and clay,
He doth with laughter leave us.

In his "Poet's Elysium" there is some beautiful Fairy poetry, which we do not recollect to have seen noticed any where. This work is divided into ten Nymphals, or pastoral dialogues. The Poet's Elysium is, we are told, a paradise upon earth, inhabited by Poets, Nymphs, and the Muses.

The poet's paradise this is,

To which but few can come,
The Muses' only bower of bliss,
Their dear Elysium.

In the eighth Nymphal,

A nymph is married to a fay,
Great preparations for the day,
All rites of nuptials they recite you
To the bridal, and invite you.

The dialogue commences between the nymphs

Mertilla and Claia:

M. But will our Tita wed this fay?

C. Yes, and to-morrow is the day.
M. But why should she bestow herself
Upon this dwarfish fairy elf?

C. Why, by her smallness, you may find
That she is of the fairy kind;

And therefore apt to choose her make
Whence she did her beginning take;
Besides he's deft and wondrous airy,
And of the noblest of the fairy *,
Chief of the Crickets †, of much fame,
In Fairy a most ancient name.

The nymphs now proceed to describe the bridal array of Tita: her jewels are to be dew-drops; her head-dress the " 'yellows in the full-blown rose ;"

her gown

Of pansy, pink, and primrose leaves,
Most curiously laid on in threaves;

The reader will observe that the third sense of Fairy is the most usual one in Drayton.

† Mr. Chalmers does not seem to have known that the Crickets were a family of note in Fairy. Shakspeare (Merry Wives of Windsor) mentions a Fairy named Cricket; and no hint of Shakspeare's was lost upon Drayton.

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