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her train the "cast slough of a snake;" her canopy composed of "moons from the peacock's tail," and "feathers from the pheasant's head;"
Mix'd with the plume (of so high price),
and it shall be
Borne o'er her head (by our inquiry)
Her buskins of the "dainty shell" of the lady cow. The musicians are to be the nightingale, lark, linnet, thrush, &c.
But for still music, we will keep
Finally, the bride-bed is to be of roses; the curtains, tester, and all, of the "flower imperial;" the fringe hung with harebells; the pillows of lilies, "with down stuft of the butterfly;"
For our Tita is to-day
In Nymphal III.,
The fairies are hopping,
Skip thorow the greaves.
And in Nymphal VI. the forester says,
The dryads, hamadryads, the satyrs, and the fawns,
Herrick is generally regarded as the Fairy poet, par excellence, in our opinion, without sufficient reason. Drayton's Fairy pieces are much superior to his. Indeed Herrick's Fairy poetry is by no means his best; and we doubt if he has any thing to exceed in that way, or perhaps equal, the light and fanciful "King Oberon's Apparel” of Smith *. Milton disdained not to sing
How faery Mab the junkets eat.
She was pinch'd and pull'd, she said;
In the Musarum Delicia.
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
Regardless of Mr. Gifford's sneer at "those who may undertake the unprofitable drudgery of tracing out the property of every word, and phrase, and idea, in Milton*," we will venture to trace a little here, and beg the reader to compare this passage with one quoted from Harsenet, at p. 110, and to say if the resemblance be accidental. The truth is, Milton, reared in London, probably knew the popular superstitions only from books; and almost every idea in this passage may be found in
books that he must have read.
In the hands of Dryden the Elves of Chaucer lose their indefiniteness. In the opening of the "Wife of Bath her Tale,"
The king of elves and little fairy queen
In vain the dairy now with mint is dressed,
* Ben Jonson's Works, vol. ii. p. 499.
She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain,
No silver penny to reward her pain.
In "The Flower and the Leaf," unauthorised by the old bard, he makes the knights and dames, the servants of the Daisy and of the Agnus Castus, Fairies, subject, like the Italian Fate, to "cruel Demogorgon."
Pope took equal liberties with his original, as may be seen by a comparison of the following verses with those in p. 123 and 124.
About this spring, if ancient fame say true,
It so befel, in that fair morning tide,
And in the midst their monarch and his bride.
January and May, 1. 459.
could not look for much attention. During the last century they therefore rarely appeared to the poets, and only an occasional allusion testifies a knowledge of them. But we have lived to see more poetic times; and a mythology which even Mr. Gifford has pronounced to be "as elegant as any of the mythological fables of Greece and Rome," begins once more to find favour in the eyes of poets. Even while we write, Mr. Darley's beautiful and highly fanciful lyrical drama of Sylvia, or the May Queen, appears, and displays the Fairies in greater splendour than they have enjoyed since the days of Shakspeare and Drayton. No fitter conclusion to this division of our work than one of the exquisite lyrics of that drama: