Continuing the narrative that began here.

Part 22.

Letter the Twenty-Eighth: Sir George Purvis to Miss Amelia Purvis.

My dear Sister,——

If Misery attended always upon Triumph, as it has been with me, Wars would cease, and the race of Generals would be extinguished. There is no Glory in Glory, no Pleasure in Fame, when the Glory is undeserved, and the Fame may soon turn to Ignominy.

The late Exhibit of the Automaton at my Chambers has been a Triumph in every ordinary Sense: For the Number and Quality of the Guests made me the Envy of London, and surely the favorable Impression, which I have made, merely by my Association with the eminent Doctor Albertus, would do me some Good in Society, were it not that I ever fear (and with what Cause you know well) that the Favor may momentarily turn to Contempt, and my Reputation, now at its Height, may be plunged into the Abyss of Infamy.

I need only name some of the Guests, to make my Point. Sir William Tharke, on whom Cheswick himself is said to rely for his sagacious Interpretation of Events in France, came with Lady Tharke, and declared himself honored to make my acquaintance; the which would, in ordinary Times, have been the highest Degree of Flattery to which I could aspire. The Earl of Crawleigh, whom I have met only once previously, declared, That neither his Age nor his Infirmity (for he suffers much with the Gout) would stand in the Way of his attending my Soirée, and called me an old Friend, whose Acquaintance he valued much. TheSpanish Ambassador, who speaks our Language very well, informed me that, should I make it my Business to travel in Spain, I must of course spend my time there at his Villa in Sevil, where (it came out in the Conversation in some Manner) he had a Daughter yet unmarry’d, whose black Eyes, raven Hair, and alabaster Complexion, made her the reigning Beauty of that happy City.

When the Guests had departed, Doctor Albertus professed himself much pleased with the Evening; and he was right to be pleased, for he had in Hand no fewer than a Dozen Orders for Clockworks. We had Conversation far into the Night, and a Month ago I should have recorded every Word that dropped from his Lips; but I confess now, what I never thought before: That Doctor Albertus, whose Deceits are no Deceits, and whose Fraud serves only Truth, is in many Ways a low-bred Fellow, whose vast Erudition cannot conceal his humble Origins. He has a peculiar Way of pulling at his Beard while he talks, as tho’ he paid more Regard to the Beard than to his Interlocutor; indeed, this vast Beard of his occupies much of his Attention, nor is there anything pleasant in the Sight of a Man sifting his Beard for an Hour at a time, as tho’ he hoped to find Rubies and Gold in it.

Yet I cannot dismiss Doctor Albertus from my Presence, or even from my Thoughts. He spoke with good Reason when he said, That my Reputation was as much involved as his in the public Acceptance of the Automaton; and he knows how I depend upon him now, so that verily I must accept his Decisions as just, and his Pronouncements as true, if I am to keep any Reputation at all in the World. Without the Automaton, he is nothing; but without Doctor Albertus and his Automaton, I am less than nothing. I am his Prisoner: for tho’ he has Lodgings of his own, he spends more of his Days here; and when he retreats to his own Rooms, he implores me to accompany him with such Force of Persuasion, that I know not how to resist.

On the Morrow we depart for Grimthorne once more: For Doctor Albertus has Orders enough to keep him building for more than a Month, and he earnestly desires me to accompany him there. I know not how to refuse him. Indeed I know not whether I dare refuse him.

Pray convey my Greetings to our cousin Honoria, and assure her that my Regard for her is undiminished, &c. I shall write next from Grimthorne; until then,

I remain, &c.

Continue to Part 23.

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