(Continuing the narrative that began here.)
Letter the Seventeenth: Sir George Purvis to Miss Honoria Wells.
My esteemed Honoria,——
You may be assured that you are always in my Thoughts, and you should not suppose that my temporary Absence from London has in any way diminished my Esteem for you. I have accomplished the Business that took me from the Metropolis, and shall be returning shortly, at which Time I hope to have more News for you. In the Interim, I desire you not to expend any fruitless Anxiety upon me: For I am well, and much the Same, and shall remain
Letter the Eighteenth: Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.
My dear Sister,——
You will be pleased to learn that I have sent Honoria a Letter filled with Endearments and Apologies for my infrequent Correspondence. I hope my Amendment will give her Satisfaction, and remove those Anxieties which my Silence had produced in her.
I have returned to my House in Town, and Doctor Albertus to his Lodgings; and I find my Life here surprisingly dull, without the Company of the Automaton and her Creator. ’Tis never an easy Thing to take leave of a Friend; and so I have come to regard her, tho’ my rational Mind attempts to perswade me that she is but an Object. Until I was deprived of them, I had no Notion of how much Value I placed on those Hours with her at Grimthorne. This Evening I have eat my Supper alone; and I longed to see the Automaton again, whose graceless Grace made every Supper at Grimthorne a Delight. The Beauty of her Form is pleasing, as a Statue is pleasing; but the Effort with which she moves, and the entire Innocence of her Soul (if I may speak as Doctor Albertus speaks), give her a Charm beyond mere Beauty. For aside from the Automaton I have never seen a Beauty without a Spark of Malevolence in her;—I mean, of course, my own Sister excepted;—and my aged Housekeeper, tho’ she may (for all I know) possess the Innocence of the Automaton, has not the Beauty. Even in the Pursuit of my daily Affairs, the Memory of her comes to me often.
I shall not languish long in Solitude, however; for Doctor Albertus has kindly accepted my Invitation to exhibit his Automaton here this Thursday Evening, and a considerable Number of my Acquaintances will be here to see her. Even the Marquess of H——, who in ordinary Times would barely acknowledge me in the Street, declares that no Consideration could induce him to miss this Demonstration. Farewell, then, for the Moment: When I have more to say, I shall write again, until which Time,
I remain, &c.
Letter the Nineteenth: Lord C—— to His Son.
It is common at your Age to take as one’s Models Men who are but a few Years older, whose Majority allows them a wide Plain of Action, but whose Youth seems to place them within the Sphere of one’s Experience. Indeed I have always advised you to do so, and I do not regret my Advice. When it comes to particular Cases, however, I am always willing to admit when my Judgment has been mistaken, whether for the Better or for the Worse. I recall many times having advised you to look to your good Friend Sir George Purvis as a Paradigm of the young Gentleman of the World. I no longer do so. I do not advise you to cut off his Friendship, which I know you would never do whether I advised it or not; but his intimate Association with the curious Doctor Albertus has, in my Estimation, rendered him less an Object for Emulation, and more one of Pity. I do not doubt but that he has his own Motives for granting the eminent Doctor such unrestricted Liberty of Association, among which may be that philosophical Curiosity which I have often praised in him, as being conducive to moral Reflection; but the Fact, whether he knows it or not, is that he has made a publick Spectacle of himself in a Way that is not at all congruent with a good Reputation in the World. It is true that the World of Fashion has of late much resorted to his House in London, and that he has obtained the Society of many with whom he would not otherwise have been acquainted; but upon what Terms? The Report I hear of him is, to speak with the greatest Charity, not uniformly favorable. I believe he is regarded by much of the fashionable World as a kind of stage Performer, whose Performances are admired without his ever being admitted into Equality with his Audience. In a Word, it is not for himself, but for this Automaton, that he has Friends; and he would do well to consider in what Light he will be seen, when the Automaton is forgotten, and the Doctor returned to his Obscurity. You may learn that Lesson from him.
Adieu! I should like you to avoid mentioning this Letter to Sir George, in case the Reports I have heard have been greatly distorted in their Transit across the Channel.