of nursery mythology is the personification of Providence. The
good ones are called fairies, elves,
elle-folks, and fays; the evil ones are urchins, ouphes,
ell-maids, and ell-women.
Fairies, black, grey, green, and white,
You moonshine revellers, and shades of night,
You ouphen-heirs of fixed destiny,
Attend your office.
Shakespeare: Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5.
The dress of the fairies.
They wear a red conical cap; a mantle of green cloth, inlaid with
wild flowers; green pantaloons, buttoned with bobs of silk; and silver
shoon. They carry quivers of adder-slough, and bows made of the ribs
of a man buried where “three lairds' lands meet;” their arrows are made
of bog-reed, tipped with white flints, and dipped in the dew of
hemlock; they ride on steeds whose hoofs would not “dash the dew from
the cup of a harebell.” (Cromek.
Fairies small, two foot tall,
With caps red on their head.
Dodsley's Old Plays; Fuimus Troes, i, 5.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894