(Cyrano de Bergerac, 1656)
…no sooner was his back turned, but I fell to consider attentively my Books and their Boxes, that’s to say, their Covers, which seemed to me to be wonderfully Rich; the one was cut of a single Diamond, incomparably more resplendent than ours; the second looked like a prodigious great Pearl, cloven in two. My Spirit had translated those Books into the Language of that World; but because I have none of their Print, I’ll now explain to you the Fashion of these two Volumes.
As I opened the Box, I found within somewhat of Metal, almost like to our Clocks, full of I know not what little Springs and imperceptible Engines: It was a Book, indeed; but a Strange and Wonderful Book, that had neither Leaves nor Letters: In fine, it was a Book made wholly for the Ears, and not the Eyes. So that when any Body has a mind to read in it, he winds up that Machine with a great many Strings; then he turns the Hand to the Chapter which he desires to hear, and straight, as from the Mouth of a Man, or a Musical Instrument, proceed all the distinct and different Sounds, which the Lunar Grandees make use of for expressing their Thoughts, instead of Language.
When I since reflected on this Miraculous Invention, I no longer wondered that the Young-Men of that Country were more knowing at Sixteen or Eighteen years Old, than the Gray-Beards of our Climate for knowing how to read as soon as Speak, they are never without Lectures, in their Chambers, their Walks, the Town, or Travelling; they may have in their Pockets, or at their Girdles, Thirty of these Books, where they need but wind up a Spring to hear a whole Chapter, and so more, if they have a mind to hear the Book quite through; so that you never want the Company of all the great Men, living and Dead, who entertain you with Living Voices. This Present employed me about an hour; and then hanging them to my Ears, like a pair of Pendants, I went a Walking…