Freeman’s Journal 28th January, 1786 p.5 (abridged)
The simplest things not known, may become the most surprising. No doubt this is the very case in regard to the extraordinary exhibition of the Speaking Automation now in town, which is reckoned to bring in above thirty guineas a day to its proprietor. It eludes even conjecture on the principle by which the sound is conveyed.
A small wooden figure, suspended by a piece of common tape, in a room, promises little for the conveyance of sound, particularly where the nicest search cannot discover the least communication.
Some have imagined it to be effected by electricity, others by magnetism, but all that is hitherto known on the subject is merely wonder, from the learned and the unlearned.