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From "Flights of Fancy, in six new glees", a youthful collaboration between Linley and Leftley (whom I surmise to have been his contemporary at St Paul's School). Leftley died young, in 1797, (I cannot ascertain whether this volume of glees was published posthumously) and Linley seems to have championed his memory for the rest of his own life, compiling a volume of his friend's writings together with an account of his life some twenty years later. In an age when mortality amongst the young was common, Linley appears to have experienced more bereavement than most: by the date of these glees William had recently lost his father and ten siblings (including Elizabeth, wife to Sheridan and a renowned singer, and Thomas, composer, exact contemporary and friend of Mozart, and the most promising composer lost prematurely to English music). "Flights of Fancy" is remarkable as an early example of a collection of songs with a common theme. Unfortunately, the engagement with the theme of pseudo-Shakespearean Faerie (a lifelong feature of Linley's work) reads more Whimsical than Phantastikal in the modern post-Flower Fairy world; The prototype (horribile dictu) of the Prog-Rock concept album.

Lyrics: Charles Leftley

Ye little troops of fairies who meet by night in dairies
To steal the cream, and fright the maids, and laugh at your vagaries;
Ye pioneering spirits who work i'the earth like ferrets,
Or for the miner turn the wheel, and pinch him when he merits;
Ye sylphs who sail in showers to visit buds and flowers,
Or on the sloping sunbeams glide to cheer our playful hours;
O lift my invocation, unfold your bright creation,
And let your legions hover round, to guard me from vexation.

William Linley
(1771 - 1835)

Linley : Ye little troops of fairies : illustration


Ye little troops of fairies

(A.T.T.B. + reduction)

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