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Les Hommes Automates
by [?]


1834.

“We are persuaded that this our artificial man will not only walk and speak and perform most of the outward functions of animal life, but (being wound up once a week) will perhaps reason as well as most of your country parsons.”–“Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus,” chap. xii.

It being an object now to meet
With Parsons that don’t want to eat,
Fit men to fill those Irish rectories,
Which soon will have but scant refectories,
It has been suggested,–lest that Church
Should all at once be left in the lurch
For want of reverend men endued
With this gift of never requiring food,–
To try, by way of experiment, whether
There couldn’t be made of wood and leather,[1]
(Howe’er the notion may sound chimerical,)
Jointed figures, not lay,[2] but clerical,
Which, wound up carefully once a week,
Might just like parsons look and speak,
Nay even, if requisite, reason too,
As well as most Irish parsons do.

The experiment having succeeded quite,
(Whereat those Lords must much delight,
Who’ve shown, by stopping the Church’s food,
They think it isn’t for her spiritual good
To be served by parsons of flesh and blood,)
The Patentees of this new invention
Beg leave respectfully to mention,
They now are enabled to produce
An ample supply for present use,
Of these reverend pieces of machinery,
Ready for vicarage, rectory, deanery,
Or any such-like post of skill
That wood and leather are fit to fill.

N.B.–In places addicted to arson,
We can’t recommend a wooden parson:
But if the Church any such appoints,
They’d better at least have iron joints.
In parts, not much by Protestants haunted,
A figure to look at‘s all that’s wanted–
A block in black, to eat and sleep,
Which (now that the eating’s o’er) comes cheap.

P.S.–Should the Lords, by way of a treat,
Permit the clergy again to eat,
The Church will of course no longer need
Imitation-parsons that never feed;
And these wood creatures of ours will sell
For secular purposes just as well–
Our Beresfords, turned to bludgeons stout,
May, ‘stead of beating their own about,
Be knocking the brains of Papists out;
While our smooth O’Sullivans, by all means,
Should transmigrate into turning machines.

[1] The materials of which those Nuremberg Savans, mentioned by Scriblerus, constructed their artificial man.

[2] The wooden models used by painters are, it is well known, called “lay figures”.