A brief post today, but I wanted to take a moment for us all to appreciate this wonder of late-nineteenth-century technology and eccentricity.

Picture the scene, if you will: it’s a warm spring evening in 1889. A party is happening in the home of the German-English artist Rudolf Lehmann. Among the group are the renowned poet Robert Browning (who has possibly been on the sauce by this point) and Colonel Gouraud, who has brought with him his latest gadget, an Edison Talking Machine recording phonograph.

The following video is what happens when an eccentric poet, a recording machine, and booze are assembled in close proximity. Browning attempts to recite lines from his poem ‘How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix’. It does not go as planned. Undeterred, and clearly filled with amazement and jubilation at the technological wizardry unfolding before him, he decides to forge on. He may not know his own poetry, but by howdy he knows his own name!  I defy you to listen without grinning. Enjoy!