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Soft yielding minds to water glide away,
The description of the * toilette, which succeeds, is judiciously given in such magnificent terms as dignify the offices performed at it. Belinda dressing, is painted in as pompous a manner as Achilles arming. The canto ends with a circumstance artfully contrived to keep this beautiful machinery
Mortua lascivum resoluta liquescit in ignem,
Aut abit in molles singula nympha notos:
Versat ad aestivum lucida membra jubar. 1
Versari, et veneres suppeditare novas.
Purior ut sensim prodeat ore rubor:
Nec ftpdet pulcras pustula saeva genas:
Excidat aut niveo pendula gemma sinu.
At studia in memori pectore prisca manent.
Carm. Quadrages. vol. ii. pag. 32. Oxon. 1748.
* Cant. i. ver. 121.
nery in the reader's eye: for after the poet has said, that the fair heroine
Repairs her smiles, awakens ev'ry grace,
He immediately subjoins,
The busy sylphs surround their darling care;
The mention of the LocK,f on which the poem turns, is rightly reserved to the second canto. The sacrifice of the Baron to implore success to his undertaking, is another instance of our poet's judgment, in heightening the subject. J The succeeding scene of sailing upon the Thames is most gay and delightful, and impresses very pleasing pictures upon the imagination. Here, too, the machinery is again introduced with much propriety. Ariel summons his denizens of air,
* Ver. 141. t Cant. ii. ver. 21,
% Ver. 37.
who are thus painted with a rich exuberance of fancy:
Some to the sun their insect wings unfold,
Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold:
Transparent forms, too thin for mortal sight,
Their fluid bodres half dissolv'd in light.
Thin glittering textures of the filmy dew,
Dipt in the richest tincture of the skies,
Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes;
While'every beam new transient colours flings;
Colours, that change whene'er they wave their wings.'1*
Ariel afterwards enumerates the functions and employments of the sylphs, in the following manner; where some are supposed to delight in more gross, and others in more refined, occupations.
Ye know the spheres and various tasks, assign'd
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Those who are fond of tracing images and sentiments to their source, may, perhaps, be inclined to think, that the hint of ascribing tasks and offices to such imaginary beings, is taken from the Fairies and the Ariel of Shakespeare: let the impartial critic determine which has the superiority of fancy. The employment of Ariel, in the Tempest, is said to be,
— To tread the ooze
Of the salt deep;
To run upon the sharp wind of the north;
On the curl'd clouds.
-T- — In the deep nook, where once
Thou call'd'stme up at midnight, to fetch dew
From the still-vext Bermoothes.— — —
Cant. ii. ver. 75.
Nor must I omit that exquisite song, in which his favourite and peculiar pastime is expressed.
Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly,
After sun-set, merrily:
With what wildness of imagination, but yet with what propriety, are the amusements of the fairies pointed out in the Midsummer Night's Dream: amusements proper for none but fairies!
Tore the third part of a minute, hence:
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds:
Shakespeare only could have thought of the following gratifications for Titania's lover; and they are fit only to be offered, to her lover, by a fairyqueen.