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Translated by Charles Edwardes

      THE Academy of Sillographs, ardently desiring to advance the common welfare, and esteeming nothing more conformable to this end than the promotion of the progress

"Of the happy century in which we live,"

      as says an illustrious poet, has taken in hand the careful consideration of the nature and tendency of our time. After long and mature consultation, the Academy has resolved to call our era the age of machines; not only because the men of to-day live and move" perhaps more mechanically than in past times, but also on account of the numerous machines now invented and utilised for so many different purposes. To such an extent indeed is this carried, that machines and not men may be said to manage human affairs, and conduct the business of life. This circumstance greatly pleases the said Academy, not so much because of the manifest convenience of the arrangement, as for two reasons, which it thinks very important, although ordinarily they are not so regarded. The one is the possibility that in process of time the influence and usefulness of machines may extend to spiritual as well as material things. And as by virtue of these machines and inventions, we are already protected from lightning, storms, and other such evils and terrors; similarly there may be discovered some cure for envy, calumny, perfidy, and trickery; some safety-cord or other invention to deliver us from egotism, from the prevalence of mediocrity, from prosperous fools, bad and debased persons, from the universal spirit of indifference, from the wretchedness peculiar to the wise, the cultivated, the noble-minded, and from other discomforts which for many centuries have been more invincible than either lightning or tempests. The other and chief reason concerns the unhappy condition of the human race. Most philosophers despair of its improvement, or the cure of its defects, which probably equal or exceed in number its virtues. They believe it would be easier to entirely re-create the . race in another way, or to substitute a different "genus" altogether, than to amend it. The Academy of Sillographs is therefore of opinion that it is very expedient for men to withdraw from the business of life as much as possible, and gradually to resign in favour of machines. And being resolved to support with all its might the progress of this new order of things, it now begs to offer three prizes for the inventors of the three following machines.

      The aim of the first machine must be to represent a friend warranted not to abuse or ridicule his absent friend; nor forsake his friend when he hears him made the subject of jest; nor to seek the reputation of acuteness, sarcasm, and the power of exciting men's laughter at his friend's expense; nor to divulge or boast of secrets confided to him; nor to take advantage of his friend's intimacy and confidence in order to supplant and surpass him; nor to envy his friend's good fortune. But it must be solicitous for his friend's welfare, join issue with him against his misfortunes, and assist him in deeds as well as words. Eeference to the treatises of Cicero and the Marquise of Lambert on "Friendship" may be advantageously made for further suggestions as to the manufacture of this automaton. The Academy thinks the invention of this machine ought not to be regarded as either impossible, or even very difficult, seeing that besides the automata of Begiomontano, Vaucanson, and others, and the one in London which drew figures and portraits, and wrote from dictation, there are machines that can even play chess unassisted. Now in the opinion of many "savants," human life is a game, and some assert it to be a thing even more frivolous. They say that the game of chess is a more rationally conceived thing, and its hazards are less uncertain than those of life. Besides, Pindar has called life a thing of no more substance than the dream of a shadow; in which case it ought not to be beyond the capacity of a vigilant automaton. As to speech, there is no reason why men should not be able to communicate this to machines of their manufacture. For amongst examples of manufactures so endowed, we may number the statue of Memnon, and the head formed by Albertus Magnus; this latter was so loquacious that St. Thomas Aquinas, irritated at its incessant tittle-tattle, broke it in pieces. And if the parrot of Nevers (though certainly this was an animal, however small a one) could converse, how much more credible that a machine, conceived by the mind of man, and constructed by his hands, should be able to acquire such attainments? The machine ought not to be so talkative as the parrot of Nevers, and other similar ones, which we see and hear everywhere; nor as the head made by Albertus Magnus; for it must not weary its friend, thereby inciting him to its destruction. The inventor of this machine shall receive a reward of a gold medal weighing four hundred sequins, which on the one side shall have a representation of the figures of Pylades and Orestes, and on the other side the name of the person rewarded, together with the inscription, "First verifier of the ancient fables."

      The third machine should be empowered to act as a woman, realising the conception formed partly by Count Baldassar Castiglione, who describes his idea in the book of the "Cortegiano," and partly by others, easily discoverable in various writings which must be consulted and combined with those of the Count. Nor ought the invention of this machine to appear impossible to men of our times, when it be remembered that Pygmalion long ago, in an age far from scientific, was able to fabricate a spouse with his own hands, who was considered to be the best woman that had ever existed. To the originator of this machine a gold medal weighing five hundred sequins is assigned, on the one side of which shall be represented the Arabian Phoenix of Metastasio, perched on a tree of some European species, and on the other side shall be written the name of the recipient, with the inscription, "Inventor of faithful women, and conjugal happiness."

      The Academy decrees that the cost of these prizes must be defrayed with what was discovered in the satchel of Diogenes, late Secretary of this Academy, or by means of one of the three golden asses that belonged to three Sillographic Academicians, Apuleius, Firenzuola, and Macchiavelli; all which property passed to the Sillographists by will of the deceased, as may be read in the Chronicles of the Academy.

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