automata..mostly fabulous things
Especailly for you ,Elena:-), there was a peacock clock (now in the Hermitage Museum St Petersburgh). This magnificent animal screeched and spreads it tail when the hour struck. At the same time a cock crowed and an owl revovled and 12 bells rang,In the lined picture you can also see squirrells and woodland fungi.......
One day I'd love to visit Russia to see it *sigh*.
There are others which sadly do not appear to have survived: there was a gilt throne which had a "band of mechanical music", and this played "God Save the King" on kettle drums and trumpets.
Sixteen elephants supporting a 7 foot high temple adorned with jewells.
Silver turtles with jewelled vases on their backs.
And, last but not least, bulls and goats with bejwelleed carapases
And it is mentioned in Fanny Burney's Evelina.:
This disputation was, at last, concluded by Mrs. Mirvan's proposing
that we should all go to Cox's Museum. Nobody objected, and carriages
were immediately ordered.
In our way down stairs, Madame Duval, in a very passionate manner,
said, "Ma foi, if I wouldn't give fifty guineas only to know who gave
us that shove!"
This Museum is very astonishing, and very superb; yet if afforded me
but little pleasure, for it is a mere show, though a wonderful one.
Sir Clement Willoughby, in our walk round the room, asked me what my
opinion was of this brilliant spectacle!
"It is a very fine, and very ingenious," answered I; "and yet-I don't
know how it is-but I seem to miss something."
"Excellently answered!" cried he; "you have exactly defined my own
feelings, though in a manner I should never have arrived at. But
I was certain your taste was too well formed, to be pleased at the
expense of your understanding."
"Pardi," cried Madame Duval, "I hope you two is difficult enough! I'm
sure if you don't like this you like nothing; for it's the grandest,
prettiest, finest sight that ever I see in England."
"What," cried the Captain with a sneer, "I suppose this may be in
your French taste? it's like enough, for it's all kickshaw work. But
pr'ythee, friend," turning to the person who explained the devices,
"will you tell me the use of all this? for I'm not enough of a conjuror
to find it out."
"Use, indeed!" repeated Madame Duval, disdainfully; "Lord if every
thing's to be useful!-"
"Why, Sir, as to that, Sir," said our conductor, "the ingenuity of
the mechanism-the beauty of the workmanship-the-undoubtedly, Sir, any
person of taste may easily discern the utility of such extraordinary
"Why then, Sir," answered the Captain, "your person of taste must
be either a coxcomb, or a Frenchman; though, for the matter of that,
'tis the same thing."
Just then our attention was attracted by a pine-apple; which, suddenly
opening, discovered a nest of birds, which immediately began to
sing. "Well," cried Madame Duval, "this is prettier than all the rest!
I declare, in all my travels, I never see nothing eleganter."
"Hark ye, friend," said the Captain, "hast never another pine-apple?"
"Because, if thou hast, pr'ythee give it us without the birds;
for, d'ye see, I'm no Frenchman, and should relish something more
This entertainment concluded with a concert of mechanical music: I
cannot explain how it was produced, but the effect was pleasing. Madame
Duval was in ecstasies; and the Captain flung himself into so many
ridiculous distortions, by way of mimicking her, that he engaged the
attention of all the company; and, in the midst of the performance of
the Coronation Anthem, while Madame Duval was affecting to beat time,
and uttering many expressions of delight, he called suddenly for salts,
which a lady, apprehending some distress, politely handed to him,
and which, instantly applying to the nostrils of poor Madame Duval,
she involuntarily snuffed up such a quantity, that the pain and
surprise made her scream aloud. When she recovered, she reproached
him with her usual vehemence; but he protested he had taken that
measure out of pure friendship, as he concluded, from her raptures,
that she was going into hysterics. This excuse by no means appeased
her, and they had a violent quarrel; but the only effect her anger
had on the Captain, was to increase his diversion. Indeed, he laughs
and talks so terribly loud in public, that he frequently makes us
ashamed of belonging to him...