Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 35.

Letter the Forty-Second:

Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.

My dear Amelia,

’Tis a strange Dungeon I inhabit,—not dug into the Earth, but built up on a Foundation like any other House; not shrouded in Darkness, but filled with Light from tall Windows; not barred and bolted, but open and unlocked. The Shackles that bind me here are not of Iron, but of my own Making; at any Moment I might walk out the Door, and be free;—free, and ruined. The Moment I depart, my Honor is gone: not that any such Thing as true Honor is left to me in my own Soul, but that the Appearance of it still clings to me in the World, where Appearance is more than Truth.

That Suspicion of which I wrote previously is now established Fact; Honoria has deserted me for the eminent Doctor Albertus. —Or rather, she has deserted all Principle, and believes, on the strength of the Doctor’s Arguments, that she is above Principle, and may do as she chooses. She sees no Contradiction, between her Betrothal to me, and her Relation with Doctor Albertus. That I see such a Contradiction, I need not tell you.

Now I shall relate to you, how the World has entrapped me thus, and how the House of Doctor Albertus has become my Prison. —Last Night, we had another of those Demonstrations of the Automaton, which serve as the eminent Doctor’s Mart, at which he peddles his mechanicall Toys, and solicits Orders from the Great. The Automaton gave a faultless Performance, which is not to be wondered at, as Miss Smith has perfected her Impersonation of the Machine to such a Degree that (so she tells me) she feels Clockworks in her Joints when she plays the Machine. After the noble Guests had departed, and the Time had come to retire, Honoria treated Doctor Albertus with such obvious Familiarity, that I could ignore it no longer.

“Sir, (I said,) I must ask that you restrain your Familiarity with Miss Wells, and keep within the Bounds of Propriety.”

Honoria spoke, tho’ I had not addressed her. “There can be nothing improper in the Appearance of Familiarity (quoth she) when the Appearance is the Mirror of the Fact.”

This bald Statement silenced me, and indeed the Room was silent for a few Moments; but at last Doctor Albertus laughed, and spoke thus:

“Come, Sir George, we are all Friends, and we are not Peasants; you and I are Men of the World, and Honoria knows as much of the World as we: Then let not Prejudice drive a Wedge between us.”

“Really, George,” Honoria added, “there is no need. I have learned much from Doctor Albertus, and surely you would not begrudge me the Truths I have gathered from my Congress with a great Mind.”

“Truths!” At last that Choler, which I had not been able to muster earlier, came over me, and I was not able to control my Speech. “What can a Charlatan have to do with Truth? Has this Oracle of all Wisdom told you that his wonderfull Automaton is a Cockney Seamstress named Smith? That he has been deceiving the Great with an Exhibition of—”

Here I ceased, because Honoria was smiling. When I had been silent for some Time, she spoke in calm and unperturbed Tones:

“Did you suppose (quoth she) that I was unaware of the true Nature of the Automaton? Did you suppose that Doctor Albertus had withheld aught from me—or I from him? Dear George, you are a perfect Innocent, but we are not all such perfect Innocents as you.”

This was her final Word, and my Wrath left me as suddenly as it had come. I sat in the Side-chair, and there I remained I know not how long; I am without Sensibility, and have returned to that Lassitude, in which I am wonderfully indifferent to my Plight. In this Condition I write, and send you Communication as from a Prison; or perhaps as from a Tomb, the Grave of my Honor and my Hope. Farewell; as writing to you is become my only Consolation, you may expect that I shall write again, and you shall hear from

Your lost Brother,

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 5:19 am  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 34.

Letter the Forty-First:

Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.

Dearest Amelia,—

My Education in Matters of true Philosophy has been very deficient in the Past; but since our first Meeting, the kind and good Doctor Albertus has endeavored to make up that which was lacking. It is not too much to say, That he has completed what was incomplete, and has filled me up, and from a mere Maiden has made me a Woman of the World.

How my Eyes are opened! I know now that there is a Truth higher than the simple Aphorisms which we have been taught as Children. The Conduct which it is necessary to instil in the Rude and Ignorant, is the Object of these homely Admonitions, in which I had formerly believed all Virtue to reside; but the great and good Doctor has shewn me how the Same must be cast aside, along with all childish Things, when once one has determined no longer to be a Child. It must be done cautiously, lest the childish and ignorant quibble; but O! Amelia, the Rewards of this Form of Knowledge are such as can never be described by mere Language. Yet now I do understand some of the obscure Passages in certain Volumes of Romance, as when it is said that the beautiful Uzila, when alone in the inaccessible Red Tower with the duke Ahmad her lover, felt herself lifted as on a Rocket, and burst like the Illuminations at the Coronation of her Father:—a Description, which I own was a Puzzle to me in my former Existence, but now is plain as Day. Were you by my Side, dearest Amelia, ’twould be unnecessary for me to guard my Speech, as I do my Writing. I can only Wish, and hope, that you will soon find a Man as wise, and as condescending, as Doctor Albertus is; and, when you do so, Amelia, be ruled by your Sister,—for I do still think of us as Sisters,—and let not Prejudice or Ignorance deprive you of the Fruit of Knowledge.

It has been my great Happiness to learn some of the mechanicall Secrets as well of which Doctor Albertus is the sole Keeper: For he says I am marvellously apt, and might some day be a Master of Clockworks myself; I am, as it were, in this Way as well, an Initiate in the Science of a new Life; and I begin to understand his Notions in that Regard, and so to see into a Futurity ruled by rationall Machines.

What I speak of to you in this Letter, dearest Amelia, I would not have repeated indiscriminately: For when you have tasted that Knowledge, which I possess, you will understand the Need for Discretion.

I would fain see you, dear Sister, and if you can contrive to escape your Family, you may be sure of a hearty Welcome from the Doctor and myself. But how far soever you may be from me, you are ever near to my Heart; and I hope that you also may spare a Thought for

Your fondest Friend and Sister,

Continue to Part 35.

Published in: on February 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 33.


Letter the Fortieth:

Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.


My dearest Amelia,—

I am a lost Soul; but in my Heart I do yet sense the Prickings of Conscience, upon which, were my Will to act, I might yet be saved. O Amelia! I believe I have lost Honoria; yet tho’ Conscience prick me, I find that my Heart answers not the Prickings, and I face my own Dishonor, to say nothing of hers, not as an Husband wrong’d, nor yet as a Lover spurned, but as a christian Gentleman bemoaning the Damnation of the Heathen, without bestirring himself to preach to ’em. Such Lassitude springs up in my Soul, that I have neither the Will, nor even the Inclination, to avenge my Wrongs, nor yet to make such Inquiries as would determine positively that I have been wrong’d.

I beg you to forgive me, dearest Sister, for imposing upon you my indelicate Suspicions, which, were I not aware that your wide Reading has exposed you to the Ways of the World, without diminishing that modest Virtue which is ever your chief Ornament, I should not have ventured to confide in you; yet, with the single Exception of Miss Smith, there is no one else in whom I may confide. In a Word, I believe my Honoria to be engaged in a scandalous Relation with the eminent Doctor Albertus; and, having writ those Words, I find that I have no more to say. O cruel Love! O monstrous Fate!—Such is the Stile of Utterance I believe to be customary upon such Occasions: Yet my own Heart will not Utter what Custom and common Usage demand from it. Like a Stone I am battered, and broken, and feel nothing. Is it not my Duty to be overcome with Wrath? If she has aroused Suspicion, must I not demand an Explanation, as one having no little Interest in the Matter of her Virtue? Why am I not red with Choler, or bedew’d with Tears, or, at the least, earnestly inquisitive? Why do I not demand Satisfaction from the Doctor, either under the Form of an Explanation, or, if he cannot render one, upon the Field of Honor? Am I less than a Man, or more than a Saint? The cold Lethargy which overcomes me whenever I think on Honoria and her Betrayal,—if indeed she has betrayed me,—is something more or less than natural. I consider the Matter, and am unmoved; I have been pierced, but cannot feel the Wound. Shall I die of it? I had rather almost that I were wounded unto Death, for then I should know by undeniable Inference that I had been alive.

My Suspicions did not arise gradually, but all at once, and prompted by the suggestion of Miss Smith, who more and more has become my Companion: For I am idle, and she is idle as well, when she is not required to paint her Flesh, and drape herself in Gauze, and impersonate the Automaton. Indeed, Doctor Albertus gives her no other Duties, lest her Hands be marred by Laboring.

—No, I shall not recount that painfull Conversation, in which my fondest Hopes were dashed, and my Soul exposed for the blank and empty Thing it is;—I had thought to record it, but I have not the Will;—I should end the Letter here.  Yet this much more I will say: That, as I am now in London, where the Post is more certain, I have some Reason to suppose that my Letter will reach you; and O! Amelia! One Word from you, whether of Advice, or Censure, would make my Sorrows lighter, and brighten the Shades of my Existence; wherefore I pray you to write, if no more than a Line, to

Your constant Brother,


Continue to Part 34.

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 32.


Letter the Thirty-Ninth:

Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.


Dearest Amelia,——

What Wonders I have seen, and what marvelous Things I have heard, I cannot relate in this brief Note; I have seized but a few Moments at the End of the Day, to tell you only that I call you to Memory often, and as often wish that you could be by my Side.

Doctor Albertus is the most remarkable Man I have ever met. I have been most of the Day in his Society; nor can I conceive a more profitable Manner of spending my Time: For his Conversation is an Academy of Philosophy, and I willingly make myself his Disciple. I tell you only the Truth, dearest Amelia, when I say, That the Wonders I have seen are as nothing to the Wonders I have heard. And were you by my Side I could tell you of other Wonders as well: Wonders which may not be named in a Letter, but might only be whispered in Confidence, with the Door bolted against Interruption. Dearest Amelia! Forgive me the Obscurity in which I veil my Thoughts, and know that I would be candid, were Candor consistent with Prudence.

Now I must dress, and look my finest: For this Evening my lord D—— dines with us, and a few others whose Names you might know from the Papers. I believe George may be dining with us as well. With Haste, but with undiminished Affection, I am, &c.


Continue to Part 33.

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 31.


Letter the Thirty-Eighth:

Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.


My dear Sister,

O that I might—that I might what?—that I might no longer be George Purvis, but another Man, unknown among the Great, and perhaps poor, but free from Dissembling, and that burdensome Pretence, which has become a dreary Obligation, and from which I may well never be freed but by Death; my own Death, or the Death of Doctor Albertus. A Metamorphosis, such as that by which Daphne escaped the unwelcome Embrace of Phoebus, would answer my Purpose: I have come to that Pass, where I see the Attraction of a Life in which the Wants of the Body are supplied by Heaven and Earth, and there can be no Desire, or Confusion, or Despair, but only Existence. In a Word, I have come to such a State, that I had rather be a Tree than a Man; and if I could but find an obliging Deity, to make that Transformation, I believe that I should not hesitate for a Moment.

Honoria continues with us in London:—an Arrangement, which I fear may prove fatal to her Reputation; but Doctor Albertus contradicts me, and would have her stay, and brings the Weight of every Authority in both sacred and prophane Literature against me; and, as Honoria has determined to stay, she finds only Propriety where, I fear, the World at large might question. If it were on my Account alone that she thus exposed herself to the Gossip of the Metropolis, I might find her Folly forgivable;—and of course I do forgive, what I can by no Means prevent;—but every Appearance suggests that it is not my own Presence, but that of Doctor Albertus, which induces her thus to flout the Opinion of the World. I see her at Supper, and now and again at other Times; but I speak very little to her, the guilty Knowledge of my own Deceit weighing heavily upon my Tongue; and she, for her Part, will not leave the Side of the Doctor, lest she miss one of the Gems that fall from his Lips.

In this State of Things I am as much alone for most of the Day as a Traveler shipwrecked on some unpopulated Isle, tho’ I am in the Middle of London: For Doctor Albertus prohibits me from going about my usual Affairs in Town. Did I say prohibits? Nay, he prohibits not, for he has no Power over me, that he might prohibit or command; yet his mere Advice seems impossible to contradict, and his Whims have the Force of Law, because I have not the Stomach to gainsay him. Alone in the Midst of Throngs, I have on more that one Occasion been reduced to making Conversation with Fanny Smith, that cockney Seamstress who impersonates the Automaton. She is a strange Contradiction: Her Silence seems habitual, as if Reticence is natural to her; and when she is silent, her Person is handsome enough that one might easily take her for a Lady of Breeding: Yet let her once open her Mouth, and the Cockney in her at once dissipates any Illusion. Even so she is honest in what little she says, and I do ever and anon perswade myself that an Ounce of her Wisdom is worth a Pound of the Philosophy of Doctor Albertus.

This Life is new to me. Wearied without Exertion, I am an unwilling Idler, whose Idleness exhausts his Strength far more than simple Labor would do: Nor can I say with Certainty, whether Doctor Albertus, or Honoria, is more accountable for this my Retirement. For all that I questioned his Insistence on my Silence with Regard to the true Nature of the Automaton, yet with Doctor Albertus I could speak my Mind: But in Honoria’s Presence I cannot do so, and the only Soul with whom I can speak now is Miss Smith.

Now I take Leave of you, having writ so many Pages, and said nothing;—for in Truth nothing has happened, and perhaps nothing will happen ever again; and yet in that there is at least the Consolation that nothing will change my Regard for you, wherefore I sign myself,

Your constant Brother,


Continue to Part 32.

Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 30.


Letter the Thirty-Seventh:

Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.


My dear Sister,——

London! ’Tis not Constantinople, with its antient Ruins crusted o’er with the Minarets of the Mussulman Faith; ’tis not thrice-holy Jerusalem, where Knights on Crusade did Battle in old Times; ’tis not unhappy Carthage, or doom’d Cusco of the thousand golden Idols, or fortunate Sevil of the Blossoms, or great Cairo where the Hareem of the Sultan is a City in itself;—it is not one of your great Cities of Romance, where notable Women have accomplished great Deeds, worthy of the pages of M. Scudery;—but O! ’tis a Paradise, to one who, having known only Captivity, is now granted the Freedom of the Town. Nor have I far to go to enjoy that Freedom: For if I but remain here at the Lodgings of Doctor Albertus, the Town comes to me, and I am surrounded, and nigh besieged, by Lords, and Knights, and a Host of Persons of Rank; so that, had I not already made my Choice, I should not fail of attracting an Husband worthy of my Consideration.

I am lodged here in admirable Comfort: For the House which Doctor Albertus has hired in Town is commodious and respectable, tho’ lacking that gothick Romance which attaches to Grimthorne, and lends it a peculiar Attraction not to be found when the house is of more recent Construction.

As I have passed much of my Time in conversation with the eminent Doctor, I cannot forbear recording a few of the great Man’s choice Observations; particularly as George continues reticent, but for occasional Statements which seem to suggest that he has somewhat he would tell me, but hesitates: For which Reason I have preferred the conversation of Doctor Albertus, who hesitates not, but speaks what is in his Mind. Indeed, when George did speak this Evening, it was to express certain Doubts or Reservations as to the Propriety of my lodging here with the Doctor: Doubts which are most certainly groundless, but reflect well on his solicitous Concern for me, and prove him a worthy Choice. That eminent Personage, however, refuted his doubts thus: “It is not (quoth he) against Propriety to offer innocent Hospitality to any Visitor: But, on the Contrary, in all Ages heretofore the greatest Sin against Propriety has always been to refuse Hospitality to a Traveler, whether a Friend or a Stranger. Thus in Homer, and (what is doubtless infinitely more persuasive in this our christian Era) in sacred Scripture, where we find Hospitality the Virtue most cultivated among the Patriarchs; so that Abraham did verily pursue the Angels, so as not to lose the Opportunity of affording them a Feast and a Night’s Lodging;—knowing not that they were Angels, but only supposing them Men like himself. And that many have thus entertained Angels unawares, is a By-word or Proverb, often heard, because doubtless true. But if it be a Duty to entertain the Stranger, on the Grounds that any such Traveler may be an Angel disguised, then how much more obligatory, and how much more delightful, to give Hospitality to one whose angelic Nature is not obscured, but shines brightly every Day; so that Hospitality is not a Duty to be fulfilled, but a Privilege to be sought after?”

Here George interjected some Words, to the Effect that it was not a Question of Hospitality, so much as the Talk of the Town, and the Conclusions, however incorrect, which the Chatterers might draw from the Fact of a Woman, as yet unmarried, lodging with a Man, or rather two Men: To which Doctor Albertus reply’d, “That Virtue is Proof against all Attack; but (quoth he) there is naught proof against Gossip: Wherefore Gossip is to be contemned, and disregarded, as a Thing not worthy of Consideration. For as well might we decide that it shall not rain on Sunday, as that we shall not be talked of, and gossiped about, or even disparaged: But as such Disparagement can in no Wise diminish our true Virtue, or subtract an Iota from the imperishable Record of our Deeds, we must regard it as of no Account.”

To which George objected, “That what may be of no Account as regards our future State, is yet of some Importance in the Present, in that one’s Position in the World depends to no little Degree upon Reputation, which may be diminished by Gossip, tho’ Virtue per se may not be.”

“Then History (quoth Doctor Albertus) must be our Guide, in determining the true Value of a spotless Reputation to a Woman: We must examine the Matter, and see whether ’tis the Case, that History is kinder to Women who have never been Objects of Scandal or Gossip. But when we search the Pages of History for such Women, we find that History remembers them not at all, whether because no Women have ever been above the Reach of Gossip, or because those Women most eminent for their Accomplishments have always attracted Envy. Now, our Miss Wells is a Woman of Accomplishment, as she has shewn by the most abundant Proofs, and therefore will not escape Envy: But to join with Cleopatra, and Elizabeth, and all the notable Women of History, in suffering the Pinpricks of Envy, to earn an imperishable Memory, must surely be regarded as no little Honor. I say not that our Miss Wells shall rule an Empire, for such is not her Lot; but Honor attaches but rarely to Rulers, and more frequently to those, whose Accom­plish­ments are of the Mind: Wherein Miss Wells exceeds to a great Degree the common Atchievements of her Sex.”

To this Argument George made no Answer, and indeed it seems unanswerable. I am sure, however, that it must have pleased him: For one who speaks well of me, must necessarily be speaking well of George, as the Man I have chosen for my Husband; and doubtless he is sensible of the Honor it does him, to be thus attached to a Woman of notable Accomplishments, as the eminent Doctor has remarked.

How much more I have to tell you—of London, of the wise Opinions of Doctor Albertus, of the many great Figures I have met! But these Things must wait: For Sleep calls me, and I may not refuse; ’tis very late. One Thing alone could add to my Happiness; viz, that you, my dear Friend and Sister, could be here with me to share it: Wherefore I am, as always,

Your affectionate Friend,


Continue to Part 31.

Published in: on November 28, 2010 at 5:00 am  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 29.


Letter the Thirty-Sixth

Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.


My dear Sister,—

Of all Men I am doubtless not the most miserable; yet of Misery I have more than I desire: a Misery compounded by Uncertainty. For I know not whether you shall read this Letter. Honoria is here—O foolish Girl!—and tells me she flew to my Side, like a Heroine in some wretched Romance, because neither you nor she has had any Communication from me since some Months ago. This is a great Mystery: For I have placed all my Letters in the Hands of the Man who brings Provisions, a Man whom Doctor Albertus regards as incorruptibly loyal. And now I know not what you know, and what you know not; so that, as you see, I know not what to say to you, and what to leave unsaid.

The Arrival of Honoria was itself a Page from Romance, and as great a Shock to me, as any Incident in the most implausible Fiction. You may picture to yourself the antient Pile of Grimthorne, dismal and grey, in the waning Light of Evening, when the World is illumined with a dismal Light as grey as the Stones of the Abbey itself: a Time when the House seems capable of producing any Wonder, and when antient Tales of Spectres and Monsters, Signs and Prodigies, might readily be taken for true Histories. At this Moment comes a Prodigy as marvelous as any in Romance: a Woman, young and handsome, but dressed in Tatters crusted with Mud, or perhaps in Mud o’ergrown with Tatters, for ’tis not an easy Thing to say which of the two predominates;—she makes such a Pounding at the Door, that even the Housekeeper, who is mostly deaf, is roused from her Revery, and very nearly opens the Door herself (which is a Thing that has not happened yet in all my Time at Grimthorne); the Door opens; on seeing me, the Traveler leaps into my Arms, with a windy Speech filled with such Sentiments as Scudery himself would blush to write; and this affecting Scene is played with Doctor Albertus as our Audience, for indeed he it was that opened the Door. Yet the Doctor displays no Surprise or Curiosity, but looks on impassive, as tho’ he either anticipated the Arrival of Honoria, or considered it Matter of no Moment.

Having explained to us the Manner of her Arrival here, Honoria retired for the Moment to make herself more presentable. —But if you should ask me wherefore I do not repeat her Narration at Length, I must confess that I recall very little of it: For she poured forth Words in such a Torrent, that I might not have heard the Half of them had I given her my complete and devoted Attention; but my Mind being filled with a thousand unsettled Reflections, no Room remained for the Matter of Honoria’s History. I know only that she came alone, and that her Father and Mother have no Knowledge of where she has gone: Which must be a great Misery to them, when they have done nothing to deserve such Treatment. O Amelia! If you should ever bear a Daughter, let Romances be banished from the House;—I had almost said, Let her be as ignorant of Letters as the remotest Savage.

My Mind, as I have said, is filled with such Notions as will give me not a Moment’s Ease. Honoria is here; foolish, but here; mad, perhaps, but here. Here she must remain, for a Day, or a Week, or—I know not how long; and, remaining, she must be introduced to the Automaton, or know why she cannot be introduced. Now, I am quite certain that Doctor Albertus will not keep the Automaton from her;—but the false, and not the true: And I must sit idle, and say nothing, and be complicit in a Deception, which seems the more unpardonable, as the one deceived is nearer to me. I have heard Doctor Albertus argue that ’tis no Deception: “For,” as he once said, “if this be Deception, then every Figure or Metaphor in Poetry is deception; every Fable or Allegory;—nay, every Verse of the Scriptures, which (as we are told on the Authority of St. Paul) are filled with Figures, representing Christ and the Church, under the Forms of the Persons of Hebrew History.” Thus he speaks, and makes Falsehood into Truth; and I do nearly believe him, when he exhibits the Automaton to the Fops and Beaux of London: Yet when it is Honoria who is deceived, then I call Deception by its Name, and find that I have not the Stomach for it. —But now Honoria returns, and we are called to Supper: Wherefore I shall interrupt my Writing for the Moment, and continue it when I shall be free of other Obligations.

*  *  *

I take up my Pen again, tho’ to what Avail, I know not; I cannot, like Luther, exorcise my Demons with an Ink-pot. Doctor Albertus has been such an Host to Honoria, as might lead an Observer, not acquainted with the true Histories of the Characters in our Scene, to conclude that she had come expressly to see him, and that he was desirous of repaying the Favor conferred upon him by her Visit. Honoria, for her Part, seems as charmed with the Doctor, as she is pleased by her own Accomplishment, in finding the Means to convey her hither. These Things would be good, and ease my Mind, but that the Doctor has seen fit to have our Supper served by the Automaton: Which is to say, by the Cockney Seamstress who impersonates the Automaton:—and I, unwilling to add my Voice to a Deception, which appears the more lamentable, in that its Victim is one to whom I must owe every Respect,—I must keep Silence. For I confess, That I see no reasonable Course ahead of me, but only Unreason and Madness. If I had but a Word from you, dearest Sister, whether of Consolation, or of Reproof, I might the more easily bear a Burden, which I have taken up all unawares, and which now presses upon me with a Weight I can scarce support. Wherefore I implore you, if you do receive this Letter, to believe me,

Your faithful Brother,


Continue to Part 30.

Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 28.

Letter the Thirty-Fifth: Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.

My dearest Sister,——

The eminent Doctor Albertus has been a wonderfully indulgent Host, and whatever small Deficiencies might be enumerated with regard to the House, the Warmth of its Master soon makes up for them. I have never spent such delightful Hours as those I have devoted to discoursing with the great Man on various Subjects, of great Interest in themselves, but of how much more Interest when touched by the eminent Doctor’s Wit and Understanding!

You may the more readily conceive my Delight, when I inform you, That Doctor Albertus is a professed Admirer of M. de Scudery, and those other Authors whose Histories of illustrious Women have ever formed my chief Study, and I believe yours as well. For I had spoken of the celebrated Enzoara, whose Search for her beloved Alvaro brought her to the far Shores of the Euxine; a Tale which (as I remarked) George regards as false; when all at once, “False? (quoth he) O no, not a Word of it is false: For there is more Truth in a Page of Romance than in all the Pages of Thucydides and Livy. For the latter have written Chronicles of the Rise and Fall of States and Empires; but the Former is nothing less than the History of the humane Heart, without a Knowledge of which, the Battles, and Rebellions, and Usurpations, and Betrayals, which make up what we commonly call History, are of no more Interest than the Wars of so many Ants, which take Place daily under our very Feet, but which neither move us to Pity, nor rouse us to Emulation. There is no more Interest in History, therefore, than what our own Hearts give it, and Romance is the Academy of the Heart. To laud an Historian for the Accuracy of his Chronicle, is as faint a Praise as to laud a Geometer for the Straightness of his Lines. But as the Geometer is justly praised for the Elegance of his Demonstrations, so the Historian is lauded for the Justice of his Observations as he pries into and makes visible the Workings of the Soul: Which is the chief Matter of Romance. Wherefore we may say, That Romance is History distilled to its very Essence; and the Virtues which we admire in the Historian in what we may call an adulterate Form, are displayed in Romance in their primitive Purity. Say not, then, that Romance is false; say not even that it is true; say, rather, that it is Truth, refined and purified of the gross Matter which defiles the Works of the Writers whom we call Historians.”

So much must suffice as a Sample of the celebrated Doctor’s true and just Discourse, which I record in Part here because it touched on a Matter of so much concern to us both. But now I have Intelligence of much greater Import to deliver. In a Word, I am to go up to London, with the Doctor and George; so that I shall not miss the Season, but shall rather, as the Doctor’s guest, be in the very Center of the Gossip of the Town. For there are to be many Demonstrations of the wonderfull Automaton, where I shall doubtless be introduced to certain of the great Figures of the Court, Farewell, then, my Friend and Sister: whom I would willingly bring with me to London, were it within my Power. But I promise and undertake to write faithfully and descriptively, so that, tho’ you may not be with me in London, yet you may follow me thither in Thought, and believe me ever, &c.


Continue to Part 29.

Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm  Comments (1)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 27.

Letter the Thirty-Fourth: Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.

My dearest Sister, ——

The Charm of the eminent Doctor Albertus consists not in his elegant Appearance, for he makes no claim to Elegance; indeed, but for a certain Degree of Attention lavished on his Beard, I should say that he cares very little for Appearances. But his Charm lies in that very Carelessness: For he appears to place his Trust, not in transitory Beauty of Form, but in the inward Beauty that is the chief and only Glory of the Soul. His Sagacity far exceeds that of most ordinary Gentlemen, and the curious Notions and Opinions which he holds are pleasing and persuasive exactly to the Degree that they are unusual.

This evening our Dinner was served us by his wonderfull Automaton, which I am sure you have heard described elsewhere; I may add merely that it is as much a Marvel as the Reports we have heard would suggest, and an irrefutable Witness to the Greatness of the eminent Doctor her Creator.

The Talk at Dinner was of the most elevated and improving Sort. I find that Doctor Albertus has an Opinion on every Subject, and these Opinions are as singular as the Man himself. I mentioned the Hardships I endured on the Journey hither, and remarked upon the Difficulties a Woman, as the weaker Sex, must face when she travels alone; but he contradicted me in the most pleasant and polite fashion.

“I regard,” quoth he, “the female Sex as infinitely superior to the male. As the Mind is higher than the Body, so is the Woman higher than the Man. For the male Sex is manifestly framed for Labor, whereas the female is formed for Thought. So much must be clear to any candid Inquirer. Now in a barbarous Age, such as every Age before ours has been, and such as ours will doubtless appear to the Age succeeding ours;—in a barbarous Age, I say, Strength will ever be valued above Wisdom; and the Man assumes by Force, that Superiority which Nature has denied him. But once take away the advantage of Strength, by allowing Civilization to flourish, and to produce those settled Conditions in which the Strength of the One is subsumed in the united Efforts of the Many, and the simple Superiority of Thought, as the Instrument by which these Efforts are united, asserts itself:—Thought, which is the especial Preserve of the Woman. It is but reason to suppose, therefore, that, as our Manners are daily refined, and the great Clouds of rude Ignorance part before the Sun of Knowledge, the female Sex shall grow in Influence, and Woman take her proper Place as Mistress of the world’s Affairs.

“Therefore I have given my Automaton the Form and Visage of a Woman: not that she pretends to the Understanding of a Woman, but so that she may in a Manner aspire to that Estate; that a Creature which shall be endowed with all bodily Power (for it will certainly come to pass that Automata shall be constructed whose Strength will far exceed that of a Man) shall be governed by a Woman’s Wisdom and Understanding.”

These Sentiments of the eminent Doctor, which are as pleasing as they are novel, have confirmed me in my favorable Opinion of the Man: For he is much like that excellent Sage in the History of Zorira, the Persian Princess; who, when called upon to advise how the Princess might be cheated of her royall Power, and a Man substituted to rule in her Stead, cry’d, “A Man! Nay, but he must be a God who would rule with such Justice, and Wisdom, and Humanity, as our Princess hath exhibited to us all”; whereupon he was forthwith thrown to the Lions; but the cruell and mischievous Caball which sought her Undoing was at last undone, as well you remember, by the fortunate Intervention of a Genie or Spirit. I may tell you, my dearest Sister, that the Discourse of the great Doctor pleased me as no other Man’s has done: always excepting our beloved George, whose Discourse I regard it as my Duty to find pleasing;—what there is of it, I mean to say: For in the Course of the whole Evening I doubt whether he spoke three Words together, and indeed I might almost have thought him Afflicted by some Melancholy, had he not assured me that his Digestion was at Fault.

To-night I have retired once again to this excellent Chamber, whose very Antiquity is its chief Excellence; and I feel that at last I have met with, and conquered in, an Adventure worthy of the great Heroines whose Histories we have both read with so much Pleasure. I shall not fail to write again to-morrow, recording more of what the eminent Doctor tells me, and adding such news of George as may be of interest: Until which Time, I remain, &c.

Continue to Part 28.

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm  Comments (2)  


Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 26.

Letter the Thirty-Third: Miss Honoria Wells to Miss Amelia Purvis.

My dearest Sister,——

When I spoke of walking the League remaining to Grimthorne Abbey, I spoke, so I believed, hyperbolically;—that is, in an exaggerated Fashion: For I did not suppose that Circumstance would be so unkind to a young Lady of Breeding. Circumstance, however, cares naught for Breeding; and I have indeed been compelled to walk that Distance. To such an Extremity have I been driven by Love: For my love for George is as the great Loves of History, and not your pale and wan modern Love, which scarce deserves the Name. I have stumbled over Rocks, my Stockings torn by a thousand Briers, my Ankles bloody from the Abuse, and my Skirts so much torn and muddy’d that I am certain they can never be mended. ’Tis true, I faced no Indian Tygers; but I have suffered, as much (perhaps) as any Heroine ought to suffer for Love; I have earned my Right to the Name of Heroine; I have bought it with my own Blood.

But O! with what Transports of Delight I inform you, That our beloved George is well, and moreover expresses great Surprize that we have heard nothing from him: For he wrote to us frequently and faithfully. I lay the Blame upon the miserable and mercenary Inhabitants of the Village nearby, who might well have taken his Money for posting his Letters, and then tossed them in the Mud by the Wayside. A great Loss:—For to be robbed of so many of my dearest George’s written Endearments, is like to missing as many Friends, who would have been my inseparable Companions in my lonely Hours at Home.

Grimthorne Abbey is a dark and chilly House; but the Warmth of the Welcome I received from the charming Doctor Albertus has entirely dispelled the Gloom. For I must tell you, my dearest Amelia, that Doctor Albertus has been most hospitable, tho’ the House itself offers but few Encouragements to Hospitality. The Conversation of this eminent Philosopher has a Kind of Charm that makes the Hours pass quickly, and I find myself surprised to relate that I have hardly spoke two Words to George since my Arrival. Doubtless the Morrow will furnish me with ample Opportunities to converse with my Beloved, and to probe further the strange Mystery of these missing Letters, tho’ ’tis likely that the Answer is to be sought in the Sloth and Mendacity of the Villagers.

Here I sit, therefore, in an antient Chamber not unlike that in which the illustrious Rozamunda was imprisoned, but under far happier Circumstances; and I promise to see to it that this letter is placed in the Hands of Doctor Albertus personally. For having once met the Man, and conversed with him on such exalted Matters of Philosophy as the notable Zeldina was wont to discuss with her Antonillo, I feel certain that I may trust him with my very Soul. I prepare to take my Rest with a Sense of perfect Security, and in that State I declare myself, as you shall ever find me,

Your faithful Friend and Sister,

Proceed to Part 27.

Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm  Leave a Comment