(Continuing the narrative that began here.)
Letter the Twentieth: Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.
My dear Sister,——
’Tis no small Satisfaction to be of Benefit to the Deserving; and so I call myself fortunate in having proved a Friend to the eminent Doctor Albertus. The Success of his Clockworks in the World of Fashion—a Success which he is kind enough to attribute in Part to my Efforts—has allowed him to hire a commodious House in Town, in Place of the small Rooms he occupied previously. He begins to live with the Dignity that is his Due.
Three times in the past Week, Doctor Albertus has exhibited the Automaton here in my House, and my many Friends—how many Friends I have when the Automaton is to be seen!—have attended, and applauded, and given their Commissions to Doctor Albertus for more Clockworks, so that I verily believe the Doctor will soon be as great in Wealth, as he is eminent in Philosophy. He will now move his Demonstrations to his own spacious Drawing-room, tho’ he requests my Assistance still: “For,” says he, “it is through thine Aid that our Automaton has reached the World of Fashion; in a Manner of Speaking, thou hast introduced her into Society, and she owes thee her Gratitude.” Doctor Albertus has, on more than one Occasion, allowed the Automaton to demonstrate her Gratitude in the most delightful Manner, serving us a private Supper after her Exhibition, and responding to my Commands with the same Alacrity with which she responds to the Doctor himself.
I cannot help confessing some Unease, however, at these repeated Exhibitions of the Creature. Her Innocence makes me sensible of the Depravity of even the best Elements of Society, and on many Occasions I have blushed to hear Remarks of the most indecent Character, spoken by the most eminent Gentlemen—nay, and even Ladies—on such subjects as the hidden physical Attributes of the Automaton, and their Resemblance to those of a veritable Female: Remarks which were spoken no more than an Arm’s-length away from her, and in such a voice as she must doubtless hear. I know that she is but a Machine, but (no doubt led by the Speculations of Doctor Albertus) I cannot but think of her as an innocent Soul, who I know can hear, and understand, to some limited Degree; and my Fear, tho’ it be irrational, is that the Exposure to the Corruption of this World, which she must necessarily receive by her constant Mingling among even the best Representatives of it, shall taint that impeccant Purity which is hers by Virtue of her immaculate Generation. Some Moments there are, when I am tempted to believe everything Doctor Albertus has told me about her Soul; and at those Times I wish nothing more than to spirit her away to some remote Fastness, against whose Gates the World cannot prevail, and where we should live in primitive Innocence. But this is Foolishness. The Demonstrations will go on, for they have made the Fortune of Doctor Albertus; and I shall continue to assist at them, for the Privilege of observing the Automaton, and the Friendship of her eminent Creator.
Forgive, I pray, the late Infrequency of my Correspondence; but know that it proceeds from no Diminution of my Affection for you:
For I remain, &c.
Letter the Twenty-First: Miss Honoria Wells to Sir George Purvis.
My own beloved George,——
It is not within the Power of our English Tongue to describe the Horror of my Situation. I arose; I walked to the Window; I gazed out, and beheld—O frightful Torture!—the same vast Expanse of Grass and Sheep which I had beheld the Day before, and the Day before that, and an infinite Number of Days before that: The same Expanse of Nothing, unreliev’d by the Sight of my own George on a swift Horse, dashing to rescue me from the unjust and intolerable Imprisonment which I suffer for his Sake.
Each Day that passes is a Torment, because it passes without you. Your Absence is a Knife that twists in my Breast, bleeding me slowly to my Death; could I but see you, however, my Strength would revive at once, and I know I should be filled with the Vigor to follow you wherever you led me, were it to the Indies and back. In short, I die without you; with you I live. Can London’s cold Heart have ensnared you with such unbreakable Bonds, that you cannot escape, and bring me back to Life? I confess, my Beloved,—I shall not hide it from you,—that I have often schemed to escape this Prison in which I am held Captive, and to make my Way to the Capital to join you, tho’ I should have to travel the whole Distance on Foot, exposed to the Dangers of Bandits and wild Beasts. Dangers be d—n’d! Yes, I am not afraid to curse the Distance that parts us. Can you not end your cruel, wicked Business in London, and fly back to her, whose Heart you hold in your Hand? I must see you soon, or die; for Death is better than Life, when Life is not to be endured.
Thus I remain, but for how long I cannot tell, &c.