Letter from Electromagus

Miss Porden

To Mr Anonymous

The importance of my subject must be my excuse for addressing you, and as you limit your correspondents, I will not waste another line in apology. As this is an age peculiarly devoted to poetry, an invention that tends to supply genius to those on whom it has not been bestowed by nature, must posssess a powerful claim on the attention of the literary world, and entitle its fortunate discoverer to the highest honours.

The author of an ingenious paper in the “Reflector”, having hinted that genius might be the effect of electricity, I immediately thought that it would be easy to render this of practical utility, and that it might be possible to communicate inspiration by the touch of the Voltaic Battery or the shock of the Leyden Jar. A series of experiments on the subject has clearly demonstrated the truth of my conclusions, and I have now the double satisfaction of at once announcing my discovery to the public thro’ the medium of your paper, and of opening a mart for the sale of poetical alias electrical inspiration. For epigrams, sonnets, impromptus and all small pieces requiring rather a neatness in the turn of thought and expression, than a continuance of exertion, I have found the light and brilliant sparks of a common electrical machine to suffice. I have provided one of greater power for the accommodation of those who aim at effusions of greater length, sprightly tales, or keen satire. For odes and all the higher kinds of lyric poetry, the accumulate force of the Leyden Jar is necessary, while for tragedy and epic poetry, I recommend the continuous stream of a powerful and extensive Voltaic Apparatus, enlivened by occasional strokes of the Machine and Jar. This is my general plan, but as it is well known that some heads can bear a greater quantity of spirituous liquor than others, so I have found the case with Electricity, and the strength of the charge must be regulated accordingly.

As general utility is more my object than private emolument my terms are moderate, but I expect a reasonable share of the profits arising from the sale of poems in whose production I have been instrumental. The Attic Society (in return for their countenance and support) I shall be happy to Electrify Gratis tho’ I suspect they have already derived frequent assistance from the splendid Galvanic Apparatus at the Royal Institution — It might not be amiss here to observe that I have recently constructed a new Patent Electrometer (price 20 guineas) for the purpose of measuring the abilities of those who approach it, which I think may be extremely useful to all who have to decide between various candidates for situations requiring mental exertion.

From what I have already stated it will be seen that the Fire of Genius, the Flame of Fancy, the Flashes of Wit, the Electrical Warmth or Brilliancy of the Imagination, so often spoken of, are not metaphorical expressions, but the literal and abstract Truth. I have even thought that my important discovery was in some degree known to the antients, and that in calling Apollo the Father of Poetry, they veiled the sublime truth in a delicate allegory, which like the Eleusian mysteries and various others, can only be understood by the initiated. This idea would give to my discovery the sterling stamp of antiquity, which in this age is thought superior to that of originality. It may be thought that I wish to rival Mr Atticus Scriblerus in his claims on your favour, but I disdain the imputation. He has derived his inspiration solely from application to me, and I have no doubt but every person of discernment will prefer receiving it at the Fountain Head, and writing his own verses to having it thus retailed to him at second hand. The bounds you have prescribed to your correspondents forbid me to say more, but I rely on your judgement for success and remain, Sir,

your most obedient


Postive House, near Negative Place
Induction Row