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So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. III. c. i. ft. 15 :
" And eke through feare as white as whales bone." Again, in a letter from Gabriel Harvey to Spenser, 1580.: “ Have we not God hy's wrath, fotr Goddes wrath, and a thousand of the same lampe, wherein the corrupte orthography in the moste, hath been the sole or principal cause of corrupie prosodye in over- mauy?"
STEEVENS. To dew her orbs upon the green :] The orhs here mentioned are the circles supposed to be made by the fairies on the ground, whose verdure proceeds from the fairies' carc water them, Thus Drayton :
They in their courses make that round, 56 In meadows and in marshes found,
Of them so called the fairy ground.” Johnson. Thus in Olaus Magnus de Gentibus Septentrionalibus 1 fimiles illis fpe&tris, quæ in multis locis, præfertim no&urno tempore, fyum saltatorium orbem cum omuium mufarum concentu versare folent.” It appears from the same author, that these dancers always parched up the grass, and therefore it is properly made the office of Puck to refresh it. STEEVENS.
6 The cowslips tall her pensioners be;] The cowslip was a favourite among the fairics. There is a hint in Drayton of their attention to May morning :
For the queen a fitting tower,
" The tallest there that groweth.” JOHNSON.
Hence, says Mrs. Quickly, in The Merry Wives, A& II. fc. ii : " and yet there has been earls, nay, which is more, Pensioners." They gave the mode in dress and diversions. They accompanied the queen in her progress to Cambridge, where they held staff-torches at a play on a Sunday evening in King's College Ciapel.
9 I'll be gone ;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their favours :
and all her elves come here anon.
7 In their gold coats spots you fee ;] Sliakspeare, in Cymbeline, refers to the same red spots :
" A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimfon drops
" ľ' th bottom of a cow slip." Percy. Perhaps there is likewise some allusion to the habit of a penfonct. See a note on the second aở of The Merry Wives of Windsor, fc. iia
STEEVENS. 8 And hang a pearl in every cowslip's car.] The same thought occurs in an old comedy call'd The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll, 1600 ;
i. e. the same year in which the first printed copies of this play made their appearance. An enchanter says :
"s 'Twas I that led you through the painted meads
Hanging on every leaf an orient pearl.” Steevens.
lob of Spirits,] Lob, lubber, looby, lobcock, all decote both ina&ivity of body and dulness of mind. Johnson.
Both lob and lobcock are used as terms of contempt in Tho Rival Friends, 1632. Again, in the interlude of Jacob and Efau, 1568 :
Should find Efau such a lout or a lob." Again, in The Knight of the Burning Peftle, by Beaumont and Fletcher : “ There is a pretty tale of a witch that had the devil's mark about her, that had a giant to her son, that was called Lobolyeby-the-fire.” This being seems to be of kin to the lubbar-fiend of Milton, as Mr. Warton has remarked in his Observations on the Faery Queen. S1EEVENS.
changeling:) Changeling is commonly used for the chile
And jealous Oberon would have the child
supposed to be left by the fairies, but here for a child taken away.
JOHNSON. So Spenser, B. I. c. X:
* And her base elfin brood there for the left,
STEEVENS. 'It is here properly used, and in its common acceptation ; that is for a child got in exchange. A fairy is now speaking. RITSON.
3 trace the forefts wild:] This verb is used in the same sense in Browne's Brilannia's. Pastoralls, B. II. Song IT. 1613 :
" Ia shepherd's habit seene
" To trace our Woods." Again, in Milton's Comus, v. 423 : May trace liuge forests, and unharbour'd heaths."
Holt White. Sheen,] Shining, bright, gay. JOHNSON. So, in Tancred and Guismund, 1592 :
but why • Doth Phæbus' fister Meen despise thy power?" Again, in the ancient romance of Syr Tryamoure, bl. 1. no date :
" He kyfied and toke his leve of the quene,
“ And of other ladies bright and Mene." STEEVENS. s But they do square ;] To Square here is to quarrel. The French word contrecarrer has the same import. JOHNSON. So, in fack Drum's Entertainment, 1601 :
let nie not seem rude,
- pray let me go, for he'll begin to Square, " &c. Again, in Promos and Cassandra, 1578:
“ Marry, the knew you and I were at Square,
" And left we fell to blowes, fhe did prepare." STEEVENS. It is fomewhat whimsical, that'the glasiers use the words Square and quarrel as synonymous terms, for a pane of glass.
Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making
quite, Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite, Call'd Robin Good-fellow : 6 are you not he, That fright' the maidens of the villag'ry; Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the quern, And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
Robin Good-fellow ; ] This account of Robin Good-fellow corresponds, in every article, with that given of him in Harfenet's Declaration, ch. xx. p. 134: " And if that the bowle of curds and crea nic were not duly set out for Robin Good-fellow, the frier, and Sisse the dairy-maid, why then either the portage was burnt to next day in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or the butter would not come, or the ale in the fat never would have good head. But if a Peeter-peony, or an housle-egge were behind, or a patch of tythe unpaid, then 'ware of bull-beggars,' spirits," &c. He is meutioned by Cartwright [ Ordinary, A& ill. fc. i:) as a fpirit particularly fond of disconcerting and disturbing domestic peace and æconomy., T. Warton.
Reginald Scot gives the fame account of this frolick some spirit, in his Discoverie of Witchcraft, Lond. 1584, 4to. p. 66 : w Your grandames' maids were wont to set a bowl of milk for him, for his pains in grinding malt and mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight this white bread and bread and milk, was his flauding fee." STEEVENS. 9 That fright
-] The old copies road frights : and in grama matical propriety, I believe, this verb, as well as those that follow, should agree with the personal pronoun he, rather than with you, If so, our author ought to have written - frights, Jkims, labours, makes, and misleads. The other, however, being the more common usage, and that which he has preferred, I have correâed the former, word. MALONE. 8 Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the qilern,
And bootless make the breathlefs housewife churn 3 ] The fease of these lines is confused. Are not you he, says the fairy, that fright the country girls, that Jkim milk, work in the hand mill, and make the tired dairy-woman churn without eje Et? The mention of the mill seems out of place, for she is not now telling the good, but the cvil that he does. I would regulate the lines thus :
s. And sometimes make the breathless housewife churn
" Skim milk, and bootlefs labour in the quern." VOL. VII.
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm; Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm? Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,' You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Or, by a simple țransposition of the lines :
" And bootlifs make the breathlefs housewife chura
" Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern." Yet there is no necessity of alteration. JOHNSON.
Dr. Johnson thinks the mention of the mill out of place, as the Fairy is not now telling the good but the evil he does. The observation will apply, with equal force, to his skimming the milk, which, if it were done at a proper time, and the cream preserved, would be a piece of service. But we must understand both to be mischievous pranks. He skims the milk, when it ought not to be skimmed : (So, in Grim the Collier of Croydon :
6. But woe betide the filly dairy-maids,
" For I shall fleet their cream-bowls night ly night.") and grinds the corn, when it is not wanted ; at the same time perhaps throwing the four about the house. RITSON,
A Quern is a hand-mill, kuerna, mola. Illandic. So, in Sianyhurst's uanslation of the first book of Virgil, 1582, quern-stones are mill-ftones :
“ Theyre corne in quern-floans they do grind," &c. Again, in The More the Merrier, a colle&ion of epigrams, 1608 :
" Which like a qurne can grind more in an hour." Again, in the old song of Robin Goodfellow, printed in the 30 volume of Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Puery:
" I grind at mill,
no barm ; ] Barme is a wame for geafi, yet used in our midland counties, and universally in Ireland. So, in Mother Bombie, a comedy, 1594: " It behoveth my wits to work like barme, alias yeaft." Again, in The Humorous Lieutenant of Beaumont and Fletcher : " I think my brains will work yet without barm."
STEEVENS. 9 Those that Hobgnblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, ] To those traditionary opinions Milton has réference in L'Allegro.
" Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,