When read alongside the literature of aeronautics, Smith's sonnet betrays a persistent tension between thinking about fancy as a fictionalizing medium and as a sensory organ of dynamic geographic vision.
Here the air balloon realizes an old poetic trope of fancy as flight.
While eighteenth century philosophers characterized fancy as an abstract creative impulse, Romantic poets understood it as an organ of creative perception that, like the air balloon, moves over the surfaces of things in the world itself.
27) Revealingly, Duff characterizes fancy as roving within an "aerial" psychological region unchecked by judgment: "there is therefore great scope afforded for the flights of Fancy in this boundless region.
41) Late eighteenth century prospect poems, then, rely on fancy as a medium of sociability through which a landscape might be explored.
The Romantic poets William Wordsworth and, more especially, Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria distinguished between fancy (a contraction of " fantasy ") and imagination, regarding fancy as
merely the ability to use the contents of memory in a decorative or illustrative way; it is the playful faculty of mind.