(Continuing the narrative that began here.)
Letter the Twenty-Fifth: Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.
My dearest Sister,——
Truth is Falsehood, and Falsehood is Truth; I live in a World turned upside down. I know not whether my Courage has failed me, or whether Philosophy has conquered; whether I lie, or whether I serve only Truth. I have not exposed Doctor Albertus; I have not so much as left Grimthorne, and live as the willing Guest of the eminent Philosopher, tho’ I could just as well call myself his Prisoner. But no iron Bars prevent my Escape; I am a Prisoner of his Perswasion alone. For when he speaks, I am perswaded; ’tis only afterward, when I sit alone, that my Doubts revive. Am I not of all Men the most miserable? For I might be honest, and happy; or I might lie, and know myself a Liar; but in very Truth I do not know whether I am the one or t’other.
As there is no other Guest in the House, there has been no Reason for the false Automaton to appear; Miss Fanny Smith, the Cockney Seamstress, has dined with us in her own proper Person, tho’ she might be a thousand Leagues away, so little does she contribute to the Conversation. ’Tis very plain, That she has no Mind for Philosophy, and no Interest in it. When she does speak, it is but a few Syllables. She differs in every Respect from what I imagined her to be. The Fault is mine, not hers; yet I cannot but look on her with Contempt, when I recollect that I believed her a pure Soul, singular and unexampled, and have found her, not merely a Sinner, but a common one.
Now Doctor Albertus speaks of returning to the Metropolis, and resuming the Demonstrations by which he introduced the Automaton to me, and to the best Families in London; he speaks, moreover, as tho’ he expects as a Matter of Course that I shall stand by, and say nothing; indeed, that I shall encourage my Friends to attend these Demonstrations: For, he says, the Futurity of the coming Race of Machines depends upon his Success in completing and perfecting the true Automaton; and the false is the Ambassador for the true, speaking (so says the Doctor) as a Species of Prophet for his mechanicall Creation, and declaring Truth to the People in Similitudes, as the Prophets of Israel were wont to do.
My Mind is overwhelmed with the Strain of holding these contradictory Notions. The False is the True; that is the Burden of the Doctor’s Song; and I am such a miserable Creature, that I do verily believe him half the Time. In a Word, I am no longer myself; and yet
I remain, &c.
Letter the Twenty-Seventh: Miss Fanny Smith to Mrs. Molly Carter.
O it is Madness: I am every Nite with him, and I cant Speek. If he wood Look at me I wood Speek, Or I mite Feinte with Terrer. I think he is a Duke or a Lord. Why shood he take Notis of me? But he onely knows my Secrit, beesides the Doctor. Send me a Leter, and say what I shood due.