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Mrs. ARABELLA FERMOR.
T will be in vain to deny that I have some regard for this piece,, fince I dedicate it to You. Yet you may bear me witness, it was intended only to divert a few young Ladies, who have good fenfe and good humour enough to laugh not only at their fex's little unguarded follies, but at their own. But as it was communicated with the air of a Secret, it foon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been offer'd to a Bookfeller, you had the good-nature for my fake to confent to the publication of one more correct: This I was forc'd to, before I had executed half my defign, for the Machinery was entirely wanting to compleat it.
The Machinery, Madam, is a term invented by the Critics, to fignify that part which the Deities, Angels, or Dæmons are made to act in a Poem: For the ancient Poets are in one respect like many modern Ladies: let an action be never fo trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance. Thefe Machines I determin'd to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Roficrucian doctrine of Spirits.
I know how difagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a Lady; but 'tis fo much the concern of a Poet to have his works understood, and particularly by your Sex, that you must give me leave to explain two or three difficult terms.
The Roficrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The beft account I know of them is in a French book call'd Le Comte de Gabalis, which VOL. I.
both in its title and fize is fo like a Novel, that many of the Fair Sex have read it for one by mistake. According to these Gentlemen, the four Elements are inhabited by Spirits, which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders. The Gnomes or Dæmons of Earth delight in mifchief; but the Sylphs, whofe habitation is in the Air, are the bestcondition'd creatures imaginable. For they fay, any mortals may enjoy the moft intimate familiarities with thefe gentle Spirits, upon a condition very eafy to all true Adepts, an inviolate preservation of Chastity.
As to the following Cantos, all the paffages of them are as fabulous, as the Vifion at the beginning, or the Transformation at the end; (except the loss of your Hair, which I always mention with reverence.) The Human perfons are as fictitious as the Airy ones; and the character of Belinda, as it is now manag'd, refembles you in nothing but in Beauty.
If this Poem had as many Graces as there are in your Perfon, or in your Mind, yet I could never hope it should pafs thro' the world half fo Uncenfur'd as you have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough, to have given me this occafion of afsuring you that I am, with the truest esteem,
Your most obedient, humble Servant,