Mopsa the Fairy

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THE TEMPLE PRESS, PRINTERS, LETCHWORTH




INTRODUCTION


JEAN INGELOW may be said to have begun her study of the art of writing child-rhymes and the tales that are akin to them under Jane and Ann Taylor.  A friendship had sprung up between the families at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, where the Ingelow youngsters used to stay; and "Greedy Dick " and "Mrs. Duck, the notorious glutton," were among their favourite characters.  In her first book, however, Jean Ingelow showed that she had a note and a child-fantasy of her own.  They are seen in her fairy-ballad of Mimie and of the forest where the child-fairy lived:


"When the clouded sun goes in—
     Waiting for the thunder,
 We can hear their revel din
     The moss'd greensward under.

"And I tell you, all the birds
     On the branches singing
 Utter to us human words
     Like a silver ringing."


    Her earliest impressions are reflected in some lines found in Mopsa, which tell of a ship coming up the river with a jolly gang of towing men.  She was born at Boston, Lincolnshire, on the 17th of March 1820; the daughter of a banker who had married a Scottish wife, Jean Kilgour.  Her grandfather owned some of the ships that came up the Boston water; and the scenery of that fen country entered into her inner mind.  Her fine ballad, "High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire," was one outcome of those early days.  In middle life she came to live in London, and she wrote of the city and its shifting and unending throng; but her best pages are those, whether verse or prose, that reflect the things of the seashore and waterside, the "empty sky," the "world of heather," which she knew as a child in Lincolnshire and Essex.  Ipswich, Filey Brig in Yorkshire, and other places are to be counted in her own history; and some of the memories that are a picture of her early days may be found in her long story Off the Skelligs, where she sketches her birthplace, and the house by the wharves, with a room in the rooftree overlooking the ships and a long reach of the river.

    Jean Ingelow died in Kensington in 1897; and a memorial brass is to be seen bearing her name in the church of St. Barnabas there.

    Her works include the following stories and volumes of poems:—

WORKS: A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and Feelings, 1850; Allerton and Dreux, 1851; Tales of Orris, 1860; Poems, with 4th edition in same year, 1863; illustrated by Pinwell, Poynter, and others, 1866; Studies for Stories, 1864; 5th edition, 1868; Stories Told to a Child, 1865; another edition, 1892; Home Thoughts and Home Scenes, 1865; Little Rie and the Rosebuds, 1867; The Suspicious Jackdaw, and the Life of John Smith, 1867; The Grandmother's Shoe, 1867; The Golden Opportunity, 1867; Deborah's Book, and The Lonely Rock, 1867; A Story of Doom, and other Poems, 1867; The Moorish Gold and The One-Eyed Servant, 1867; The Minnows with Silver Tails, and Two Ways of Telling a Story, 1867; The Wild-Duck Shooter, and I Have a Right, 1867; A Sister's Bye-Hours, 1868; Mopsa the Fairy, 1869; another edition, 1871; The Little Wonder-Horn, 1872; another edition, 1877; Off the Skelligs, 1872; 2nd edition, 1879; Fated to be Free, 1873; 2nd edition, 1875; other editions, 1876, 1879; Poems, 2nd series, i876; Poems, new edition in 2 vols., Vol. I. from 23rd edition, Vol. II. from 6th edition, 1879; Sarah de Berenger, 1879; other editions, 1880, 1886; Don John: a story, 1881; another edition, 1881; High-Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire 1571, 1883; Poems of the Old Days and the New, 1885; John Jerome, 1886; Lyrical and other Poems selected from the Writings of J. L, 1886; The Little Wonder-Box, 1887; Very Young, and Quite Another Story, 1890; Selections, edited by Mackenzie Bell (Poets and Poetry of the Century), 1892; The Old Man's Prayer, 1895; Poetical Works of J. L, 1898; Laura Richmond, 1901; The Black Polyanthus, and Widow Maclean, 1903; Poems (Muses' Library), 1906; Poems, with an Introduction by Alice Meynell (Red Letter Library), 1908; Poems, selected and arranged by Andrew Lang (Longman's Pocket Library), 1908.

LIFE: Short biography in Poets and Poetry of the Century edition of Poems, by Mackenzie Bell, 1892; some Recollections of Jean Ingelow and her Early Friends, 1901.

___________

Dedicated

TO

MY DEAR LITTLE COUSIN

JANET HOLLWAY

___________

 

 

CONTENTS

ABOVE THE CLOUDS

CAPTAIN JACK

WINDING-UP TIME

BEES AND OTHER FELLOW-CREATURES

THE PARROT IN HIS SHAWL

THE TOWN WITH NOBODY IN IT

HALF-A-CROWN

A STORY

AFTER THE PARTY

MOPSA LEARNS HER LETTERS

GOOD-MORNING, SISTER

THEY RUN AWAY FROM OLD MOTHER FATE

MELON SEEDS

REEDS AND RUSHES

THE QUEEN'S WAND

FAILURE

___________



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
[by Dora Curtis.]

 

PAGE

Headpiece

1.

Thereupon a lantern became visible

9.

He saw the sun come rolling up among them

12.

Headpiece

13.

Those five grand ones with high prows . . . . . were part of
    the Spanish Armada and those open boats with the blue sails
    belonged to the Romans "

15.

Tailpiece

21.

"I'm willing to gee and I'm agreeable to wo"

22.

They would certainly have caught him if he had not been
    very quick

36.

Headpiece

37.

"What'll you buy?—what'll you buy, sir?"

43.

Tailpiece

52.

Headpiece

53.

A great fight was still going on

67.

Headpiece

68.

"Master, I will do my best," answered the hound

76.

Clink-of-the-Hole

77.

The little brown man fell on his knees and said, "Oh, a shilling
    and a penny"

79.

"Master, do you know what you have done?"

86.

Tailpiece

92.

Headpiece

93.

"I should like vastly well to be her nurse," said the applewoman

104.

Headpiece

105.

And now her bright little head . . . . came as high as the second
    button of his waistcoat

114.

The Craken

115.

"The awful river-horses rose up and, with shrill screams, fell
    upon them"

120.

"While crowds of the one-foot-one fairies looked on, hanging
from the boughs"

125.

Headpiece

126.

" Well, you must know," answered the applewoman, " that
    fairies cannot abide cold weather"

133.

"So she began to sing"

136.

Headpiece

137.

"Yes, sir," said the woman, "but where is it now?"

148.

Headpiece

149.

They spread out long filmy wings

157.

Tailpiece

160.

Headpiece

161.

He gave the plate a push with his elbow

170.

Headpiece

171.

But still Mopsa walked on blindfold

186.

Headpiece

187.

So she stooped forward as she stood on the step

199.

Tailpiece

208.

 


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