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of antique manners; and this is excellence enough with those who in reading seek only amusement.
FROM THE NYMPHIDIA.
But listen, and I shall you tell
A chance in Faery that befel,
Which certainly may please some well,
In love and arms delighting :
Of Oberon, that jealous grew
Of one of his own Fairy crew,
Too well (he fear'd) his queen that knew,
His love but ill requiting.
Pigwiggen was this Fairy knight,
One wondrous gracious in the sight
Of fair Queen Mab, which day and night
He amorously observed :
Which made King Oberon suspect
His service took too good effect,
His sauciness and often checkt,
And could have wish'd him starved.
Pigwiggen gladly would commend
Some token to Queen Mab to send,
If sea or land him aught could lend,
Were worthy of her wearing :
At length this lover doth devise
A bracelet made of emmet's eyes,
A thing he thought that she would prize,
No whit her state impairing.
And to the queen a letter writes,
Which he most curiously indites,
Conjuring her by all the rites
Of love, she would be pleased
To meet him her true servant, where
They might without suspect or fear
Themselves to one another clear,
And have their poor hearts eased.
“ At midnight the appointed hour,
And for the queen a fitting bow'r,
(Quoth he) is that fair cowslip flow'r,
On Hipcut-hill that groweth :
In all your train there's not a Fay,
That ever went to gather May,
But she hath made it in her way,
The tallest there that groweth."
When by Tom Thumb, a fairy page,
He sent it, and doth him engage,
By promise of a mighty wage,
It secretly to carry :
Which done, the queen her maids doth call,
And bids them to be ready all,
She would go see her summer hall,
She could no longer tarry.
Her chariot ready straight is made,
Each thing therein is fitting laid,
That she by nothing might be stay'd,
For nought must her be letting :
Four nimble gnats the horses were,
The harnesses of gossamer,
Fly Cranion, her charioteer,
Upon the coach-box getting.
Her chariot of a snail's fine shell,
Which for the colours did excel;
The fair Queen Mab becoming well,
So lively was the limning :
The seat the soft wool of the bee,
The cover (gallantly to see)
The wing of a py'd butterflee,
I trow, 'twas simple trimming.
The wheels composed of cricket's bones,
And daintily made for the nonce,
For fear of rattling on the stones,
With thistle-down they shod it:
For all her maidens much did fear,
If Oberon had chanced to hear,
That Mab bis queen should have been there.
He would not have abode it.
She mounts her chariot with a trice,
Nor would she stay for no advice,
Until her maids, that were so nice,
To wait on her were fitted,
But ran herself away alone;
Which when they heard, there was not one
But hasted after to be gone,
As she had been diswitted.
Hop, and Mop, and Drap so clear,
Pip, and Trip, and Skip, that were
To Mab their sovereign dear,
Her special maids of honour;
Fib, and Tib, and Pinck, and Pin,
Tick, and Quick, and Jill, and Jin,
Tit, and Nit, and Wap, and Win,
The train that wait upon her.
Upon a grasshopper they got,
And what with amble and with trot,
For hedge nor ditch they spared not,
But after her they hie them.
A cobweb over them they throw,
To shield the wind if it should blow,
Themselves they wisely could bestow,
Lest any should espy them.
But let us leave Queen Mab a while,
Through many a gate, o'er many a stile,
That now had gotten by this wile,
Her dear Pigwiggen kissing ;
And tell how Oberon doth fare,
Who grew as mad as any hare,
When he had sought each place with care,
And found his queen was missing.
The frantic Oberon commits a thousand extravagances,
and in his jealous rage runs a tilt at all he meets, like any mad Paladin, till he encounters Puck, to whom he explains the cause of his fury :
“ Dear Puck," quoth he,“ my wife is gone;
As e'er thou lov'st King Oberon,
Let every thing but this alone,
With vengeance and pursue her :
Bring her to me, alive or dead,
Or that vile thief Pigwiggen's head :
That villain hath defiled my bed,
He to this folly drew her."
Quoth Puck, “ My liege, I'll never lin,
But I will thorough thick and thin,
Until at length I bring her in,
My dearest lord, ne'er doubt it."
Thorough brake, thorough brier,
Thorough muck, thorough mire,
Thorough water, thorough fire,
And thus goes Puck about it.
This thing Nymphidia overheard,
That on this mad king had a guard,
Not doubting of a great reward,
For first this business broaching:
And through the air away doth go
Swift as an arrow from the bow,
To let her sovereign Mab to know
What peril was approaching.
The queen, bound with love's powerful charm,
Sate with Pigwiggen arm in arm;
Her merry maids, that thought no harm,
About the room were skipping :
A humble-bee, their minstrel, play'd
Upon his hautbois, ev'ry maid
Fit for this revel was array'd,
The hornpipe neatly tripping.
In comes Nymphidia, and doth cry, “My sovereign, for your safety fly, For there is danger but too nigh,
I posted to forewarn you: The king hath sent Hobgoblin out, To seek you all the fields about, And of your safety you may doubt,
If he but once discern you."
When, like an uproar in a town,
Before them every thing went down ;
Some tore a ruff, and some a gown,
'Gainst one another justling :
They flew about like chaff i' th' wind;
For haste some left their masks behind,
Some could not stay their gloves to find;
There never was such bustling.
Forth ran they by a secret way,
Into a brake that near them lay,
Yet much they doubted there to stay,
Lest Hob should hap to find them;
He had a sharp and piercing sight,
All one to him the day and night,
And therefore were resolved by flight
To leave this place behind them.
At length one chanced to find a nut,
In th' end of which a hole was cut,
Which lay upon a hazel root,
There scatter'd by a squirrel,
Which out the kernel gotten had :
When quoth this Fay, “Dear queen, be glad,
Let Oberon be ne'er so mad,
I'll set you safe from peril.
“Come all into this nut, (quoth she), Come closely in, be ruled by me, Each one may here a chuser be,
For room ye need not wrestle,