IN PRESENTING A gothic novel in letters from the eighteenth century, to be published in serial form over the coming months, Dr. Boli is well aware that the language of the work may be a considerable departure from the crisp, modern style normally favored in the pages of this Magazine. The subject, however, caught Dr. Boli’s attention: it asks the ancient question, What is the nature of Love? Like every good novel, it leaves the central question unanswered, and the reader vaguely dissatisfied, in the end.
Dr. Boli feels compelled to point out that the work is presented here in a somewhat abbreviated form, although without omitting anything essential to an understanding of the story. He also feels compelled to remark that the surname of one of the principal characters, the eminent Dr. Albertus, is identical to Dr. Boli’s middle name by mere coincidence, the action taking place in a distant time before even Dr. Boli was born.
At this point it would be customary to add some account of the discovery of the manuscript; for it is indeed an uncommon thing for a work of this sort to be resurrected after two and a half centuries of neglect. Having composed such an account, however, Dr. Boli read it over, and, having bored himself into insensibility, decided to forgo publishing it.
THE WONDERFULL AUTOMATON.
Letter the First: Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.
My dear Sister,—
I send you this curious Handbill because you asked me for it. To speak with more Accuracy, you charged me to omit nothing of the Talk and Gossip of the Metropolis in my Letters. Here it is: For I must inform you that nothing else is spoken of here.
You might suppose that the Intrigues of the Jacobites, or the inflammatory Speeches of Mr. B—, or the comical Incident of my lord M—’s Wig, might furnish some Matter for Conversation here and there; but you would be mistaken, for throughout the Length and Breadth of London I hear only of the miraculous Doctor Albertus and his wonderfull Automaton. The Town is mad for Clockworks, and the Few who have been fortunate enough to procure some clockwork Toy, however small, made by the eminent Doctor himself, have displayed their Acquisitions with a Pride that would be universally denounced if its Object were a rare Gem, or a fine Picture, or any other Possession.
I have not seen the celebrated Automaton myself; but I have seen a small clockwork Mouse of the eminent Doctor’s Manufacture, and I confess that I thought it a remarkably clever Contrivance. Its most surprising Aspect is its Ability to learn a simple Task: For if it meets with any Obstruction in its Path, it turns to the Left or to the Right; and starting again from the same Point, it will turn before it meets the Obstacle, as tho’ it remembered the Course from its previous Trial. I presume that the celebrated Automaton is constructed on the same Principles, but its larger Frame must necessarily admit of a much greater Number of Gears and Pulleys, and thus a correspondingly greater Variety in its Motions and Capabilities.
Since I have not observed the Thing itself, I have no more to report on this Subject; but I pledge you my Word that I shall not forget my promised Diligence, and shall consider it my Duty and my Obligation to seek out whatever Report I may find of this most interesting Phenomenon.
Convey my Greetings to our cousin Honoria: For I know not whether I shall have the Leisure to write to her myself, altho’ I think of her often. You shall hear from me soon. Until then,
I remain, &c.
Advertisement.-–A certain eminent Doctor of Philosophy, who amuses himself with the Construction of clockwork Toys, is desired to restrict his Hours: For his Clockworks have lately made such a Noise, that all London is kept awake.