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Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

by Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley

 

 

 

 

Letter 1

 

 

TO Mrs. Saville, England

 

St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17-

 

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the

commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such

evil forebodings.  I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is

to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in

the success of my undertaking.

 

I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the streets of

Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks,

which braces my nerves and fills me with delight.  Do you understand

this feeling?  This breeze, which has travelled from the regions

towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes.

Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent

and vivid.  I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat

of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the

region of beauty and delight.  There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible,

its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour.

There--for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding

navigators--there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea,

we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region

hitherto discovered on the habitable globe.  Its productions and features

may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly

are in those undiscovered solitudes.  What may not be expected in a country

of eternal light?  I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts

the needle and may regulate a thousand celestial observations that require

only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent forever.

I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world

never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the

foot of man.  These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer

all fear of danger or death and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage

with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday

mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river.  But supposing all

these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit

which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering

a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many

months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which,

if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.

 

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter,

and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven,

for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose

--a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.  This expedition

has been the favourite dream of my early years.  I have read with ardour

the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect

of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround

the pole.  You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for

purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas' library.

My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading.

These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them

increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my

father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark

in a seafaring life.

 

These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets

whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted it to heaven.  I also

became a poet and for one year lived in a paradise of my own creation;

I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the

names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated.  You are well acquainted

with my failure and how heavily I bore the disappointment.  But just at

that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were

turned into the channel of their earlier bent.

 

Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking.

I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to

this great enterprise.  I commenced by inuring my body to hardship.

I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea;

I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep;

I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day and devoted

my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine,

and those branches of physical science from which a naval

adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage.

Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler,

and acquitted myself to admiration.  I must own I felt a little proud

when my captain offered me the second dignity in the vessel and

entreated me to remain with the greatest earnestness, so valuable

did he consider my services.  And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve

to accomplish some great purpose?  My life might have been passed in ease

and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed

in my path.  Oh, that some encouraging voice would answer in the affirmative!

My courage and my resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits

are often depressed.  I am about to proceed on a long and difficult voyage,

the emergencies of which will demand all my fortitude:  I am required

not only to raise the spirits of others, but sometimes to sustain my own,

when theirs are failing.

 

This is the most favourable period for travelling in Russia.  They fly

quickly over the snow in their sledges; the motion is pleasant, and,

in my opinion, far more agreeable than that of an English stagecoach.

The cold is not excessive, if you are wrapped in furs--a dress which

I have already adopted, for there is a great difference between walking

the deck and remaining seated motionless for hours, when no exercise

prevents the blood from actually freezing in your veins.  I have no

ambition to lose my life on the post-road between St. Petersburgh

and Archangel. I shall depart for the latter town in a fortnight

or three weeks; and my intention is to hire a ship there, which can

easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and to engage

as many sailors as I think necessary among those who are accustomed

to the whale-fishing.  I do not intend to sail until the month of June;

and when shall I return?  Ah, dear sister, how can I answer this question?

If I succeed, many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before you

and I may meet.  If I fail, you will see me again soon, or never.

Farewell, my dear, excellent Margaret.  Heaven shower down blessings

on you, and save me, that I may again and again testify my gratitude

for all your love and kindness.

 

Your affectionate brother,

R.  Walton

 

 

 

Letter 2

 

 

To Mrs. Saville, England

 

Archangel, 28th March, 17-

 

How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am by frost and snow!

Yet a second step is taken towards my enterprise.  I have hired a vessel

and am occupied in collecting my sailors; those whom I have already

engaged appear to be men on whom I can depend and are certainly possessed

of dauntless courage.

 

But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy,

and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most

severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret:  when I am glowing with the

enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy;

if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me

in dejection.  I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true;

but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling.

I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me,

whose eyes would reply to mine.  You may deem me romantic,

my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend.

I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of

a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are

like my own, to approve or amend my plans.  How would such a

friend repair the faults of your poor brother!  I am too ardent

in execution and too impatient of difficulties.  But it is a still

greater evil to me that I am self-educated:  for the first fourteen

years of my life I ran wild on a common and read nothing but our

Uncle Thomas' books of voyages.  At that age I became acquainted with

the celebrated poets of our own country; but it was only when it

had ceased to be in my power to derive its most important benefits

from such a conviction that I perceived the necessity of becoming

acquainted with more languages than that of my native country.

Now I am twenty-eight and am in reality more illiterate than

many schoolboys of fifteen.  It is true that I have thought more

and that my daydreams are more extended and magnificent, but they

want (as the painters call it) KEEPING; and I greatly need a friend

who would have sense enough not to despise me as romantic,

and affection enough for me to endeavour to regulate my mind.

Well, these are useless complaints; I shall certainly find

no friend on the wide ocean, nor even here in Archangel,

among merchants and seamen.  Yet some feelings, unallied to

the dross of human nature, beat even in these rugged bosoms.

My lieutenant, for instance, is a man of wonderful courage

and enterprise; he is madly desirous of glory, or rather, to word

my phrase more characteristically, of advancement in his profession.

He is an Englishman, and in the midst of national and professional

prejudices, unsoftened by cultivation, retains some of the noblest

endowments of humanity.  I first became acquainted with him on board

a whale vessel; finding that he was unemployed in this city,

I easily engaged him to assist in my enterprise.  The master

is a person of an excellent disposition and is remarkable in

the ship for his gentleness and the mildness of his discipline.

This circumstance, added to his well-known integrity and

dauntless courage, made me very desirous to engage him.

A youth passed in solitude, my best years spent under your

gentle and feminine fosterage, has so refined the groundwork

of my character that I cannot overcome an intense distaste

to the usual brutality exercised on board ship:  I have never

believed it to be necessary, and when I heard of a mariner

equally noted for his kindliness of heart and the respect

and obedience paid to him by his crew, I felt myself peculiarly

fortunate in being able to secure his services.  I heard of him

first in rather a romantic manner, from a lady who owes to him

the happiness of her life.  This, briefly, is his story.

Some years ago he loved a young Russian lady of moderate fortune,

and having amassed a considerable sum in prize-money, the father

of the girl consented to the match.  He saw his mistress

once before the destined ceremony; but she was bathed in tears,

and throwing herself at his feet, entreated him to spare her,

confessing at the same time that she loved another, but that he

was poor, and that her father would never consent to the union.

My generous friend reassured the suppliant, and on being informed

of the name of her lover, instantly abandoned his pursuit.

He had already bought a farm with his money, on which he had designed

to pass the remainder of his life; but he bestowed the whole on his rival,

together with the remains of his prize-money to purchase stock,

and then himself solicited the young woman's father to consent

to her marriage with her lover.  But the old man decidedly refused,

thinking himself bound in honour to my friend, who, when he found

the father inexorable, quitted his country, nor returned until he heard

that his former mistress was married according to her inclinations.

"What a noble fellow!" you will exclaim.  He is so; but then he is

wholly uneducated:  he is as silent as a Turk, and a kind of ignorant

carelessness attends him, which, while it renders his conduct the

more astonishing, detracts from the interest and sympathy which

otherwise he would command.

 

Yet do not suppose, because I complain a little or because I

can conceive a consolation for my toils which I may never know,

that I am wavering in my resolutions.  Those are as fixed as fate,

and my voyage is only now delayed until the weather shall permit

my embarkation.  The winter has been dreadfully severe, but the spring

promises well, and it is considered as a remarkably early season, so that

perhaps I may sail sooner than I expected.  I shall do nothing rashly:

you know me sufficiently to confide in my prudence and considerateness

whenever the safety of others is committed to my care.

 

I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near prospect

of my undertaking.  It is impossible to communicate to you

a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable

and half fearful, with which I am preparing to depart.

I am going to unexplored regions, to "the land of mist and snow,"

but I shall kill no albatross; therefore do not be alarmed

for my safety or if I should come back to you as worn and woeful

as the "Ancient Mariner."  You will smile at my allusion,

but I will disclose a secret.  I have often attributed my

attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm for, the dangerous

mysteries of ocean to that production of the most imaginative

of modern poets.  There is something at work in my soul

which I do not understand.  I am practically industrious--

painstaking, a workman to execute with perseverance and labour--

but besides this there is a love for the marvellous, a belief in

the marvellous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me

out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited

regions I am about to explore. But to return to dearer considerations.

Shall I meet you again, after having traversed immense seas, and returned

by the most southern cape of Africa or America?  I dare not expect such

success, yet I cannot bear to look on the reverse of the picture.

Continue for the present to write to me by every opportunity:  I may

receive your letters on some occasions when I need them most to support

my spirits.  I love you very tenderly.  Remember me with affection,

should you never hear from me again.

 

Your affectionate brother,

Robert Walton

 

 

 

Letter 3

 

 

 

To Mrs. Saville, England

 

July 7th, 17-

 

 

My dear Sister,

 

I write a few lines in haste to say that I am safe--and well advanced

on my voyage.  This letter will reach England by a merchantman now

on its homeward voyage from Archangel; more fortunate than I,

who may not see my native land, perhaps, for many years.  I am,

however, in good spirits:  my men are bold and apparently firm

of purpose, nor do the floating sheets of ice that continually

pass us, indicating the dangers of the region towards which we

are advancing, appear to dismay them.  We have already reached

a very high latitude; but it is the height of summer, and although

not so warm as in England, the southern gales, which blow us

speedily towards those shores which I so ardently desire to attain,

breathe a degree of renovating warmth which I had not expected.

 

No incidents have hitherto befallen us that would make a figure

in a letter.  One or two stiff gales and the springing of a leak are

accidents which experienced navigators scarcely remember to record,

and I shall be well content if nothing worse happen to us during

our voyage.

 

Adieu, my dear Margaret.  Be assured that for my own sake, as well

as yours, I will not rashly encounter danger.  I will be cool,

persevering, and prudent.

 

But success SHALL crown my endeavours.  Wherefore not?  Thus far I

have gone, tracing a secure way over the pathless seas, the very

stars themselves being witnesses and testimonies of my triumph.

Why not still proceed over the untamed yet obedient element?  What

can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?

 

My swelling heart involuntarily pours itself out thus.  But must

finish.  Heaven bless my beloved sister!

 

R.W.

 

 

 

Letter 4

 

 

To Mrs. Saville, England

 

August 5th, 17-

 

So strange an accident has happened to us that I cannot forbear

recording it, although it is very probable that you will see me

before these papers can come into your possession.

 

Last Monday (July 3lst) we were nearly surrounded by ice, which closed

in the ship on all sides, scarcely leaving her the sea-room in which

she floated.  Our situation was somewhat dangerous, especially as we

were compassed round by a very thick fog.  We accordingly lay to,

hoping that some change would take place in the atmosphere and weather.

 

About two o'clock the mist cleared away, and we beheld, stretched

out in every direction, vast and irregular plains of ice, which

seemed to have no end.  Some of my comrades groaned, and my

own mind began to grow watchful with anxious thoughts, when a

strange sight suddenly attracted our attention and diverted our

solicitude from our own situation.  We perceived a low carriage,

fixed on a sledge and drawn by dogs, pass on towards the north, at

the distance of half a mile; a being which had the shape of a man,

but apparently of gigantic stature, sat in the sledge and guided

the dogs.  We watched the rapid progress of the traveller with our

telescopes until he was lost among the distant inequalities of the ice.

This appearance excited our unqualified wonder.  We were, as we believed,

many hundred miles from any land; but this apparition seemed to denote

that it was not, in reality, so distant as we had supposed.  Shut in,

however, by ice, it was impossible to follow his track, which we had

observed with the greatest attention.  About two hours after this

occurrence we heard the ground sea, and before night the ice broke

and freed our ship.  We, however, lay to until the morning,

fearing to encounter in the dark those large loose masses which

float about after the breaking up of the ice.  I profited of this

time to rest for a few hours.

 

In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went upon deck

and found all the sailors busy on one side of the vessel, apparently

talking to someone in the sea.  It was, in fact, a sledge, like that

we had seen before, which had drifted towards us in the night on a

large fragment of ice.  Only one dog remained alive; but there was a

human being within it whom the sailors were persuading to enter the vessel.

He was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant

of some undiscovered island, but a European.  When I appeared on deck

the master said, "Here is our captain, and he will not allow you to

perish on the open sea."

 

On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English, although with

a foreign accent.  "Before I come on board your vessel," said he,

"will you have the kindness to inform me whither you are bound?"

 

You may conceive my astonishment on hearing such a question

addressed to me from a man on the brink of destruction and to whom

I should have supposed that my vessel would have been a resource

which he would not have exchanged for the most precious wealth the

earth can afford.  I replied, however, that we were on a voyage of

discovery towards the northern pole.

 

Upon hearing this he appeared satisfied and consented to come on board.

Good God!  Margaret, if you had seen the man who thus capitulated for

his safety, your surprise would have been boundless.  His limbs were

nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering.

I never saw a man in so wretched a condition.  We attempted to carry him

into the cabin, but as soon as he had quitted the fresh air he fainted.

We accordingly brought him back to the deck and restored him to animation

by rubbing him with brandy and forcing him to swallow a small quantity.

As soon as he showed signs of life we wrapped him up in blankets and

placed him near the chimney of the kitchen stove.  By slow degrees

he recovered and ate a little soup, which restored him wonderfully.

 

Two days passed in this manner before he was able to speak, and I

often feared that his sufferings had deprived him of understanding.

When he had in some measure recovered, I removed him to my own cabin

and attended on him as much as my duty would permit.  I never saw a more

interesting creature:  his eyes have generally an expression of wildness,

and even madness, but there are moments when, if anyone performs an act

of kindness towards him or does him the most trifling service,

his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of

benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled.  But he is

generally melancholy and despairing, and sometimes he gnashes his teeth,

as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him.

 

When my guest was a little recovered I had great trouble to keep off the men,

who wished to ask him a thousand questions; but I would not allow him to be

tormented by their idle curiosity, in a state of body and mind whose

restoration evidently depended upon entire repose.  Once, however,

the lieutenant asked why he had come so far upon the ice in so

strange a vehicle.

 

His countenance instantly assumed an aspect of the deepest gloom,

and he replied, "To seek one who fled from me."

 

"And did the man whom you pursued travel in the same fashion?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Then I fancy we have seen him, for the day before we picked you up

we saw some dogs drawing a sledge, with a man in it, across the ice."

 

This aroused the stranger's attention, and he asked a multitude of

questions concerning the route which the demon, as he called him,

had pursued.  Soon after, when he was alone with me, he said,

"I have, doubtless, excited your curiosity, as well as that of

these good people; but you are too considerate to make inquiries."

 

"Certainly; it would indeed be very impertinent and inhuman in me

to trouble you with any inquisitiveness of mine."

 

"And yet you rescued me from a strange and perilous situation;

you have benevolently restored me to life."

 

Soon after this he inquired if I thought that the breaking up of

the ice had destroyed the other sledge.  I replied that I could not

answer with any degree of certainty, for the ice had not broken

until near midnight, and the traveller might have arrived at a

place of safety before that time; but of this I could not judge.

From this time a new spirit of life animated the decaying frame of

the stranger.  He manifested the greatest eagerness to be upon deck

to watch for the sledge which had before appeared; but I have

persuaded him to remain in the cabin, for he is far too weak to

sustain the rawness of the atmosphere.  I have promised that

someone should watch for him and give him instant notice if

any new object should appear in sight.

 

Such is my journal of what relates to this strange occurrence up to

the present day.  The stranger has gradually improved in health but

is very silent and appears uneasy when anyone except myself enters

his cabin.  Yet his manners are so conciliating and gentle that the

sailors are all interested in him, although they have had very

little communication with him.  For my own part, I begin to love

him as a brother, and his constant and deep grief fills me with

sympathy and compassion.  He must have been a noble creature in his

better days, being even now in wreck so attractive and amiable.

I said in one of my letters, my dear Margaret, that I should find

no friend on the wide ocean; yet I have found a man who, before his

spirit had been broken by misery, I should have been happy to have

possessed as the brother of my heart.

 

I shall continue my journal concerning the stranger at intervals,

should I have any fresh incidents to record.

 

 

August 13th, 17-

 

My affection for my guest increases every day.  He excites at once

my admiration and my pity to an astonishing degree.  How can I see

so noble a creature destroyed by misery without feeling the most

poignant grief?  He is so gentle, yet so wise; his mind is so cultivated,

and when he speaks, although his words are culled with the choicest art,

yet they How with rapidity and unparalleled eloquence.  He is now much

recovered from his illness and is continually on the deck, apparently

watching for the sledge that preceded his own.  Yet, although unhappy,

he is not so utterly occupied by his own misery but that he interests

himself deeply in the projects of others.  He has frequently conversed

with me on mine, which I have communicated to him without disguise.

He entered attentively into all my arguments in favour of my eventual

success and into every minute detail of the measures I had taken to

secure it.  I was easily led by the sympathy which he evinced to

use the language of my heart, to give utterance to the burning

ardour of my soul and to say, with all the fervour that warmed me,

how gladly I would sacrifice my fortune, my existence, my every

hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise.  One man's life or death

were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge

which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over

the elemental foes of our race.  As I spoke, a dark gloom spread

over my listener's countenance.  At first I perceived that he tried

to suppress his emotion; he placed his hands before his eyes, and

my voice quivered and failed me as I beheld tears trickle fast from

between his fingers; a groan burst from his heaving breast.  I paused;

at length he spoke, in broken accents:  "Unhappy man!  Do you share

my madness?  Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught?

Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup

from your lips!"

 

Such words, you may imagine, strongly excited my curiosity;

but the paroxysm of grief that had seized the stranger overcame

his weakened powers, and many hours of repose and tranquil

conversation were necessary to restore his composure.

Having conquered the violence of his feelings, he appeared to

despise himself for being the slave of passion; and quelling the

dark tyranny of despair, he led me again to converse concerning

myself personally.  He asked me the history of my earlier years.

The tale was quickly told, but it awakened various trains of reflection.

I spoke of my desire of finding a friend, of my thirst for

a more intimate sympathy with a fellow mind than had ever

fallen to my lot, and expressed my conviction that a man could

boast of little happiness who did not enjoy this blessing.

"I agree with you," replied the stranger; "we are unfashioned

creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than

ourselves--such a friend ought to be--do not lend his aid to

perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.  I once had a friend,

the most noble of human creatures, and am entitled, therefore,

to judge respecting friendship.  You have hope, and the world

before you, and have no cause for despair.  But I--I have lost

everything and cannot begin life anew."

 

As he said this his countenance became expressive of a calm,

settled grief that touched me to the heart.  But he was silent

and presently retired to his cabin.

 

Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than

he does the beauties of nature.  The starry sky, the sea, and every

sight afforded by these wonderful regions seem still to have the

power of elevating his soul from earth.  Such a man has a double

existence:  he may suffer misery and be overwhelmed by disappointments,

yet when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit

that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.

 

Will you smile at the enthusiasm I express concerning this divine

wanderer?  You would not if you saw him.  You have been tutored and

refined by books and retirement from the world, and you are

therefore somewhat fastidious; but this only renders you the more

fit to appreciate the extraordinary merits of this wonderful man.

Sometimes I have endeavoured to discover what quality it is which

he possesses that elevates him so immeasurably above any other

person I ever knew.  I believe it to be an intuitive discernment,

a quick but never-failing power of judgment, a penetration into the

causes of things, unequalled for clearness and precision; add to

this a facility of expression and a voice whose varied intonations

are soul-subduing music.

 

 

August l9, 17-

 

Yesterday the stranger said to me, "You may easily perceive, Captain

Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes.

I had determined at one time that the memory of these evils

should die with me, but you have won me to alter my determination.

You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently

hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent

to sting you, as mine has been.  I do not know that the relation

of my disasters will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that

you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same

dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine that you may

deduce an apt moral from my tale, one that may direct you

if you succeed in your undertaking and console you in case of

failure.  Prepare to hear of occurrences which are usually deemed

marvellous.  Were we among the tamer scenes of nature I might fear

to encounter your unbelief, perhaps your ridicule; but many things

will appear possible in these wild and mysterious regions which

would provoke the laughter of those unacquainted with the ever-

varied powers of nature; nor can I doubt but that my tale conveys

in its series internal evidence of the truth of the events of which

it is composed."

 

You may easily imagine that I was much gratified by the offered

communication, yet I could not endure that he should renew his grief

by a recital of his misfortunes.  I felt the greatest eagerness

to hear the promised narrative, partly from curiosity and partly

from a strong desire to ameliorate his fate if it were in my power.

I expressed these feelings in my answer.

 

"I thank you," he replied, "for your sympathy, but it is useless;

my fate is nearly fulfilled.  I wait but for one event, and then I

shall repose in peace.  I understand your feeling," continued he,

perceiving that I wished to interrupt him; "but you are mistaken,

my friend, if thus you will allow me to name you; nothing can alter

my destiny; listen to my history, and you will perceive how

irrevocably it is determined."

 

He then told me that he would commence his narrative the next day when

I should be at leisure.  This promise drew from me the warmest thanks.

I have resolved every night, when I am not imperatively occupied

by my duties, to record, as nearly as possible in his own words,

what he has related during the day.  If I should be engaged,

I will at least make notes.  This manuscript will doubtless afford

you the greatest pleasure; but to me, who know him, and who hear it

from his own lips--with what interest and sympathy shall I read

it in some future day!  Even now, as I commence my task, his full-

toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with

all their melancholy sweetness; I see his thin hand raised in animation,

while the lineaments of his face are irradiated by the soul within.

 

Strange and harrowing must be his story, frightful the storm which

embraced the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it--thus!

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

I am by birth a Genevese, and my family is one of the most distinguished

of that republic.  My ancestors had been for many years counsellors

and syndics, and my father had filled several public situations

with honour and reputation.  He was respected by all who knew him

for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business.

He passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs of

his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying

early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband

and the father of a family.

 

As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his character, I

cannot refrain from relating them.  One of his most intimate

friends was a merchant who, from a flourishing state, fell,

through numerous mischances, into poverty.  This man, whose name

was Beaufort, was of a proud and unbending disposition and could not

bear to live in poverty and oblivion in the same country where he

had formerly been distinguished for his rank and magnificence.

Having paid his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner,

he retreated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne, where he lived

unknown and in wretchedness.  My father loved Beaufort with the

truest friendship and was deeply grieved by his retreat in these

unfortunate circumstances.  He bitterly deplored the false pride

which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection

that united them.  He lost no time in endeavouring to seek him out,

with the hope of persuading him to begin the world again through

his credit and assistance. Beaufort had taken effectual measures to

conceal himself, and it was ten months before my father discovered

his abode.  Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the house,

which was situated in a mean street near the Reuss.  But when he entered,

misery and despair alone welcomed him.  Beaufort had saved but a

very small sum of money from the wreck of his fortunes, but it

was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months,

and in the meantime he hoped to procure some respectable employment

in a merchant's house.  The interval was, consequently, spent in

inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had

leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his

mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness,

incapable of any exertion.

 

His daughter attended him with the greatest tenderness, but she saw

with despair that their little fund was rapidly decreasing and that

there was no other prospect of support.  But Caroline Beaufort

possessed a mind of an uncommon mould, and her courage rose to

support her in her adversity.  She procured plain work; she plaited

straw and by various means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely

sufficient to support life.

 

Several months passed in this manner.  Her father grew worse;

her time was more entirely occupied in attending him; her means of

subsistence decreased; and in the tenth month her father died in

her arms, leaving her an orphan and a beggar.  This last blow

overcame her, and she knelt by Beaufort's coffin weeping bitterly,

when my father entered the chamber.  He came like a protecting spirit

to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care; and after the

interment of his friend he conducted her to Geneva and placed her

under the protection of a relation.  Two years after this event

Caroline became his wife.

 

There was a considerable difference between the ages of my parents,

but this circumstance seemed to unite them only closer in

bonds of devoted affection.  There was a sense of justice

in my father's upright mind which rendered it necessary that

he should approve highly to love strongly.  Perhaps during former

years he had suffered from the late-discovered unworthiness of one

beloved and so was disposed to set a greater value on tried worth.

There was a show of gratitude and worship in his attachment to my mother,

differing wholly from the doting fondness of age, for it was inspired

by reverence for her virtues and a desire to be the means of,

in some degree, recompensing her for the sorrows she had endured,

but which gave inexpressible grace to his behaviour to her.

Everything was made to yield to her wishes and her convenience.

He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener,

from every rougher wind and to surround her with all that could tend to

excite pleasurable emotion in her soft and benevolent mind.  Her health,

and even the tranquillity of her hitherto constant spirit, had been shaken

by what she had gone through.  During the two years that had elapsed

previous to their marriage my father had gradually relinquished all

his public functions; and immediately after their union they sought

the pleasant climate of Italy, and the change of scene and interest

attendant on a tour through that land of wonders, as a restorative

for her weakened frame.

 

From Italy they visited Germany and France.  I, their eldest child,

was born at Naples, and as an infant accompanied them in their rambles.

I remained for several years their only child.  Much as they were attached

to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from

a very mine of love to bestow them upon me.  My mother's tender caresses

and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me are my

first recollections.  I was their plaything and their idol, and something

better--their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them

by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in

their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they

fulfilled their duties towards me.  With this deep consciousness of

what they owed towards the being to which they had given life,

added to the active spirit of tenderness that animated both, it may

be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I

received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control,

I was so guided by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of

enjoyment to me. For a long time I was their only care.  My mother

had much desired to have a daughter, but I continued their single

offspring.  When I was about five years old, while making an

excursion beyond the frontiers of Italy, they passed a week on the

shores of the Lake of Como.  Their benevolent disposition often

made them enter the cottages of the poor.  This, to my mother, was

more than a duty; it was a necessity, a passion--remembering what

she had suffered, and how she had been relieved--for her to act in

her turn the guardian angel to the afflicted.  During one of their

walks a poor cot in the foldings of a vale attracted their notice

as being singularly disconsolate, while the number of half-clothed

children gathered about it spoke of penury in its worst shape.

One day, when my father had gone by himself to Milan, my mother,

accompanied by me, visited this abode.  She found a peasant and his

wife, hard working, bent down by care and labour, distributing a

scanty meal to five hungry babes.  Among these there was one which

attracted my mother far above all the rest.  She appeared of a

different stock.  The four others were dark-eyed, hardy little

vagrants; this child was thin and very fair.  Her hair was the

brightest living gold, and despite the poverty of her clothing,

seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head.  Her brow was

clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the

moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness

that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct

species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all

her features. The peasant woman, perceiving that my mother fixed

eyes of wonder and admiration on this lovely girl, eagerly

communicated her history.  She was not her child, but the daughter

of a Milanese nobleman.  Her mother was a German and had died on

giving her birth.  The infant had been placed with these good

people to nurse:  they were better off then.  They had not been

long married, and their eldest child was but just born.  The father

of their charge was one of those Italians nursed in the memory of the

antique glory of Italy--one among the schiavi ognor frementi,

who exerted himself to obtain the liberty of his country.  He became

the victim of its weakness.  Whether he had died or still lingered

in the dungeons of Austria was not known.  His property was confiscated;

his child became an orphan and a beggar.  She continued with her foster

parents and bloomed in their rude abode, fairer than a garden rose among

dark-leaved brambles.  When my father returned from Milan, he found

playing with me in the hall of our villa a child fairer than pictured cherub

--a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks and whose form and

motions were lighter than the chamois of the hills.  The apparition

was soon explained.  With his permission my mother prevailed on her

rustic guardians to yield their charge to her.  They were fond of

the sweet orphan.  Her presence had seemed a blessing to them, but

it would be unfair to her to keep her in poverty and want when Providence

afforded her such powerful protection.  They consulted their village priest,

and the result was that Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents'

house--my more than sister--the beautiful and adored companion of all

my occupations and my pleasures.

 

Everyone loved Elizabeth.  The passionate and almost reverential

attachment with which all regarded her became, while I shared it,

my pride and my delight.  On the evening previous to her being

brought to my home, my mother had said playfully, "I have a pretty

present for my Victor--tomorrow he shall have it."  And when,

on the morrow, she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift,

I, with childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally and

looked upon Elizabeth as mine--mine to protect, love, and cherish.

All praises bestowed on her I received as made to a possession of

my own.  We called each other familiarly by the name of cousin.

No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation

in which she stood to me--my more than sister, since till death

she was to be mine only.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

We were brought up together; there was not quite a year difference

in our ages.  I need not say that we were strangers to any species

of disunion or dispute.  Harmony was the soul of our companionship,

and the diversity and contrast that subsisted in our characters drew

us nearer together.  Elizabeth was of a calmer and more concentrated

disposition; but, with all my ardour, I was capable of a more intense

application and was more deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge.

She busied herself with following the aerial creations of the poets;

and in the majestic and wondrous scenes which surrounded our Swiss home

--the sublime shapes of the mountains, the changes of the seasons,

tempest and calm, the silence of winter, and the life and turbulence

of our Alpine summers--she found ample scope for admiration and delight.

While my companion contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit

the magnificent appearances of things, I delighted in investigating

their causes.  The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine.

Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature,

gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among

the earliest sensations I can remember.

 

On the birth of a second son, my junior by seven years,

my parents gave up entirely their wandering life and fixed

themselves in their native country.  We possessed a house in

Geneva, and a campagne on Belrive, the eastern shore of the lake,

at the distance of rather more than a league from the city.

We resided principally in the latter, and the lives of my parents

were passed in considerable seclusion.  It was my temper to avoid a

crowd and to attach myself fervently to a few.  I was indifferent,

therefore, to my school-fellows in general; but I united myself

in the bonds of the closest friendship to one among them.

Henry Clerval was the son of a merchant of Geneva.  He was

a boy of singular talent and fancy.  He loved enterprise,

hardship, and even danger for its own sake.  He was deeply

read in books of chivalry and romance.  He composed heroic songs

and began to write many a tale of enchantment and knightly adventure.

He tried to make us act plays and to enter into masquerades, in which

the characters were drawn from the heroes of Roncesvalles, of the

Round Table of King Arthur, and the chivalrous train who shed their

blood to redeem the holy sepulchre from the hands of the infidels.

 

No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself.

My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence.

We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to

their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights

which we enjoyed.  When I mingled with other families I distinctly

discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted

the development of filial love.

 

My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions vehement; but by

some law in my temperature they were turned not towards childish

pursuits but to an eager desire to learn, and not to learn all

things indiscriminately.  I confess that neither the structure of

languages, nor the code of governments, nor the politics of various

states possessed attractions for me.  It was the secrets of heaven

and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward

substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious

soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed

to the metaphysical, or in it highest sense, the physical secrets

of the world.

 

Meanwhile Clerval occupied himself, so to speak, with the moral

relations of things.  The busy stage of life, the virtues of heroes,

and the actions of men were his theme; and his hope and his dream was

to become one among those whose names are recorded in story as the

gallant and adventurous benefactors of our species.  The saintly soul

of Elizabeth shone like a shrine-dedicated lamp in our peaceful home.

Her sympathy was ours; her smile, her soft voice, the sweet glance

of her celestial eyes, were ever there to bless and animate us.

She was the living spirit of love to soften and attract; I might

have become sullen in my study, through the ardour of my nature,

but that she was there to subdue me to a semblance of her own gentleness.

And Clerval--could aught ill entrench on the noble spirit of Clerval?

Yet he might not have been so perfectly humane, so thoughtful in

his generosity, so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his

passion for adventurous exploit, had she not unfolded to him the

real loveliness of beneficence and made the doing good the end and aim

of his soaring ambition.

 

I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood,

before misfortune had tainted my mind and changed its bright visions of

extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self.

Besides, in drawing the picture of my early days, I also record

those events which led, by insensible steps, to my after tale of misery,

for when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion which

afterwards ruled my destiny I find it arise, like a mountain river,

from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded,

it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes

and joys.  Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate;

I desire, therefore, in this narration, to state those facts which

led to my predilection for that science.  When I was thirteen years

of age we all went on a party of pleasure to the baths near Thonon;

the inclemency of the weather obliged us to remain a day confined

to the inn.  In this house I chanced to find a volume of the works

of Cornelius Agrippa.  I opened it with apathy; the theory which he

attempts to demonstrate and the wonderful facts which he relates

soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm.  A new light seemed to

dawn upon my mind, and bounding with joy, I communicated my

discovery to my father.  My father looked carelessly at the title

page of my book and said, "Ah!  Cornelius Agrippa!  My dear Victor,

do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash."

 

If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to

explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely

exploded and that a modern system of science had been introduced

which possessed much greater powers than the ancient, because the

powers of the latter were chimerical, while those of the former

were real and practical, under such circumstances I should certainty

have thrown Agrippa aside and have contented my imagination,

warmed as it was, by returning with greater ardour to my former studies.

It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never

have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin.

But the cursory glance my father had taken of my volume

by no means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents,

and I continued to read with the greatest avidity.  When I returned home

my first care was to procure the whole works of this author, and

afterwards of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus.  I read and studied

the wild fancies of these writers with delight; they appeared to me

treasures known to few besides myself.  I have described myself as

always having been imbued with a fervent longing to penetrate the

secrets of nature.  In spite of the intense labour and wonderful

discoveries of modern philosophers, I always came from my studies

discontented and unsatisfied.  Sir Isaac Newton is said to have

avowed that he felt like a child picking up shells beside the great

and unexplored ocean of truth.  Those of his successors in each

branch of natural philosophy with whom I was acquainted appeared

even to my boy's apprehensions as tyros engaged in the same pursuit.

 

The untaught peasant beheld the elements around him and was acquainted

with their practical uses.  The most learned philosopher knew little more.

He had partially unveiled the face of Nature, but her immortal lineaments

were still a wonder and a mystery.  He might dissect, anatomize, and give

names; but, not to speak of a final cause, causes in their secondary and

tertiary grades were utterly unknown to him.  I had gazed upon the

fortifications and impediments that seemed to keep human beings from

entering the citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined.

 

But here were books, and here were men who had penetrated deeper

and knew more.  I took their word for all that they averred, and I

became their disciple.  It may appear strange that such should

arise in the eighteenth century; but while I followed the routine

of education in the schools of Geneva, I was, to a great degree,

self-taught with regard to my favourite studies.  My father was not

scientific, and I was left to struggle with a child's blindness,

added to a student's thirst for knowledge.  Under the guidance of

my new preceptors I entered with the greatest diligence into the

search of the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life; but the

latter soon obtained my undivided attention.  Wealth was an

inferior object, but what glory would attend the discovery if I

could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable

to any but a violent death!  Nor were these my only visions.

The raising of ghosts or devils was a promise liberally accorded

by my favourite authors, the fulfillment of which I most eagerly sought;

and if my incantations were always unsuccessful, I attributed the failure

rather to my own inexperience and mistake than to a want of skill or

fidelity in my instructors.  And thus for a time I was occupied by

exploded systems, mingling, like an unadept, a thousand contradictory

theories and floundering desperately in a very slough of multifarious

knowledge, guided by an ardent imagination and childish reasoning,

till an accident again changed the current of my ideas.  When I was

about fifteen years old we had retired to our house near Bekive,

when we witnessed a most violent and terrible thunderstorm.

It advanced from behind the mountains of Jura, and the thunder burst

at once with frightful loudness from various quarters of the heavens.

I remained, while the storm lasted, watching its progress with

curiosity and delight.  As I stood at the door, on a sudden I

beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak which

stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as the

dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and nothing

remained but a blasted stump.  When we visited it the next

morning, we found the tree shattered in a singular manner.

It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to thin

ribbons of wood.  I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed.

 

Before this I was not unacquainted with the more obvious laws of electricity.

On this occasion a man of great research in natural philosophy was with us,

and excited by this catastrophe, he entered on the explanation of a theory

which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism, which was

at once new and astonishing to me.  All that he said threw greatly into

the shade Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, the lords

of my imagination; but by some fatality the overthrow of these men

disinclined me to pursue my accustomed studies.  It seemed to me as

if nothing would or could ever be known.  All that had so long engaged

my attention suddenly grew despicable.  By one of those caprices

of the mind which we are perhaps most subject to in early youth,

I at once gave up my former occupations, set down natural history

and all its progeny as a deformed and abortive creation, and entertained

the greatest disdain for a would-be science which could never even step

within the threshold of real knowledge.  In this mood of mind I betook

myself to the mathematics and the branches of study appertaining to

that science as being built upon secure foundations, and so worthy

of my consideration.

 

Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight

ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin.  When I look back,

it seems to me as if this almost miraculous change of inclination

and will was the immediate suggestion of the guardian angel of my life

--the last effort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the

storm that was even then hanging in the stars and ready to envelop me.

Her victory was announced by an unusual tranquillity and gladness

of soul which followed the relinquishing of my ancient and latterly

tormenting studies.  It was thus that I was to be taught to associate

evil with their prosecution, happiness with their disregard.

 

It was a strong effort of the spirit of good, but it was ineffectual.

Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter

and terrible destruction.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

When I had attained the age of seventeen my parents resolved

that I should become a student at the university of Ingolstadt.

I had hitherto attended the schools of Geneva, but my father thought

it necessary for the completion of my education that I should be

made acquainted with other customs than those of my native country.

My departure was therefore fixed at an early date, but before the

day resolved upon could arrive, the first misfortune of my life

occurred--an omen, as it were, of my future misery.  Elizabeth had

caught the scarlet fever; her illness was severe, and she was in

the greatest danger.  During her illness many arguments had been

urged to persuade my mother to refrain from attending upon her.

She had at first yielded to our entreaties, but when she heard that

the life of her favourite was menaced, she could no longer control

her anxiety.  She attended her sickbed; her watchful attentions

triumphed over the malignity of the distemper--Elizabeth was saved,

but the consequences of this imprudence were fatal to her preserver.

On the third day my mother sickened; her fever was accompanied by the

most alarming symptoms, and the looks of her medical attendants

prognosticated the worst event.  On her deathbed the fortitude

and benignity of this best of women did not desert her.  She joined

the hands of Elizabeth and myself.  "My children," she said,

"my firmest hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of

your union.  This expectation will now be the consolation of your father.

Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place to my younger children.

Alas!  I regret that I am taken from you; and, happy and beloved

as I have been, is it not hard to quit you all?  But these are not

thoughts befitting me; I will endeavour to resign myself cheerfully

to death and will indulge a hope of meeting you in another world."

 

She died calmly, and her countenance expressed affection even in death.

I need not describe the feelings of those whose dearest ties are rent

by that most irreparable evil, the void that presents itself to the soul,

and the despair that is exhibited on the countenance.  It is so long

before the mind can persuade itself that she whom we saw every day

and whose very existence appeared a part of our own can have departed

forever--that the brightness of a beloved eye can have been extinguished

and the sound of a voice so familiar and dear to the ear can be hushed,

never more to be heard.  These are the reflections of the first days;

but when the lapse of time proves the reality of the evil, then the

actual bitterness of grief commences.  Yet from whom has not that

rude hand rent away some dear connection?  And why should I describe

a sorrow which all have felt, and must feel?  The time at length

arrives when grief is rather an indulgence than a necessity; and

the smile that plays upon the lips, although it may be deemed a

sacrilege, is not banished.  My mother was dead, but we had still

duties which we ought to perform; we must continue our course with

the rest and learn to think ourselves fortunate whilst one remains

whom the spoiler has not seized.

 

My departure for Ingolstadt, which had been deferred by these events,

was now again determined upon.  I obtained from my father a respite

of some weeks.  It appeared to me sacrilege so soon to leave the repose,

akin to death, of the house of mourning and to rush into the thick of life.

I was new to sorrow, but it did not the less alarm me.  I was unwilling

to quit the sight of those that remained to me, and above all, I desired

to see my sweet Elizabeth in some degree consoled.

 

She indeed veiled her grief and strove to act the comforter to us all.

She looked steadily on life and assumed its duties with courage and zeal.

She devoted herself to those whom she had been taught to call her

uncle and cousins.  Never was she so enchanting as at this time,

when she recalled the sunshine of her smiles and spent them upon us.

She forgot even her own regret in her endeavours to make us forget.

 

The day of my departure at length arrived.  Clerval spent the last

evening with us.  He had endeavoured to persuade his father to permit

him to accompany me and to become my fellow student, but in vain.

His father was a narrow-minded trader and saw idleness and ruin

in the aspirations and ambition of his son.  Henry deeply felt

the misfortune of being debarred from a liberal education.

He said little, but when he spoke I read in his kindling eye

and in his animated glance a restrained but firm resolve not to

be chained to the miserable details of commerce.

 

We sat late.  We could not tear ourselves away from each other nor

persuade ourselves to say the word "Farewell!"  It was said, and we

retired under the pretence of seeking repose, each fancying that

the other was deceived; but when at morning's dawn I descended

to the carriage which was to convey me away, they were all there

--my father again to bless me, Clerval to press my hand once more,

my Elizabeth to renew her entreaties that I would write often and

to bestow the last feminine attentions on her playmate and friend.

 

I threw myself into the chaise that was to convey me away and

indulged in the most melancholy reflections.  I, who had ever

been surrounded by amiable companions, continually engaged

in endeavouring to bestow mutual pleasure--I was now alone.

In the university whither I was going I must form my own friends and

be my own protector.  My life had hitherto been remarkably secluded

and domestic, and this had given me invincible repugnance to new

countenances.  I loved my brothers, Elizabeth, and Clerval; these were

"old familiar faces," but I believed myself totally unfitted for the

company of strangers.  Such were my reflections as I commenced

my journey; but as I proceeded, my spirits and hopes rose.

I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge.  I had often,

when at home, thought it hard to remain during my youth

cooped up in one place and had longed to enter the world and

take my station among other human beings.  Now my desires were

complied with, and it would, indeed, have been folly to repent.

 

I had sufficient leisure for these and many other reflections

during my journey to Ingolstadt, which was long and fatiguing.

At length the high white steeple of the town met my eyes.

I alighted and was conducted to my solitary apartment to

spend the evening as I pleased.

 

The next morning I delivered my letters of introduction and paid a

visit to some of the principal professors.  Chance--or rather the

evil influence, the Angel of Destruction, which asserted omnipotent

sway over me from the moment I turned my reluctant steps from my

father's door--led me first to M. Krempe, professor of natural

philosophy.  He was an uncouth man, but deeply imbued in the

secrets of his science.  He asked me several questions concerning

my progress in the different branches of science appertaining to

natural philosophy.  I replied carelessly, and partly in contempt,

mentioned the names of my alchemists as the principal authors

I had studied.  The professor stared.  "Have you," he said,

"really spent your time in studying such nonsense?"

 

I replied in the affirmative.  "Every minute," continued M. Krempe

with warmth, "every instant that you have wasted on those books is

utterly and entirely lost.  You have burdened your memory with

exploded systems and useless names.  Good God!  In what desert land

have you lived, where no one was kind enough to inform you that

these fancies which you have so greedily imbibed are a thousand

years old and as musty as they are ancient?  I little expected,

in this enlightened and scientific age, to find a disciple of

Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus.  My dear sir, you must begin

your studies entirely anew."

 

So saying, he stepped aside and wrote down a list of several books

treating of natural philosophy which he desired me to procure,

and dismissed me after mentioning that in the beginning of the

following week he intended to commence a course of lectures upon

natural philosophy in its general relations, and that M. Waldman,

a fellow professor, would lecture upon chemistry the alternate days

that he omitted.

 

I returned home not disappointed, for I have said that I had long

considered those authors useless whom the professor reprobated;

but I returned not at all the more inclined to recur to these studies

in any shape.  M. Krempe was a little squat man with a gruff voice

and a repulsive countenance; the teacher, therefore, did not

prepossess me in favour of his pursuits.  In rather a too

philosophical and connected a strain, perhaps, I have given an

account of the conclusions I had come to concerning them in my

early years.  As a child I had not been content with the results

promised by the modern professors of natural science.  With a

confusion of ideas only to be accounted for by my extreme youth and

my want of a guide on such matters, I had retrod the steps of

knowledge along the paths of time and exchanged the discoveries of

recent inquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists.  Besides,

I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy.  It was

very different when the masters of the science sought immortality

and power; such views, although futile, were grand; but now the

scene was changed.  The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit

itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest

in science was chiefly founded.  I was required to exchange chimeras

of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth.

 

Such were my reflections during the first two or three days of my

residence at Ingolstadt, which were chiefly spent in becoming

acquainted with the localities and the principal residents in my

new abode.  But as the ensuing week commenced, I thought of the

information which M. Krempe had given me concerning the lectures.

And although I could not consent to go and hear that little

conceited fellow deliver sentences out of a pulpit, I recollected

what he had said of M. Waldman, whom I had never seen, as he had

hitherto been out of town.

 

Partly from curiosity and partly from idleness, I went into

the lecturing room, which M. Waldman entered shortly after.

This professor was very unlike his colleague.  He appeared about

fifty years of age, but with an aspect expressive of the greatest

benevolence; a few grey hairs covered his temples, but those at the

back of his head were nearly black.  His person was short but

remarkably erect and his voice the sweetest I had ever heard.

He began his lecture by a recapitulation of the history of chemistry

and the various improvements made by different men of learning,

pronouncing with fervour the names of the most distinguished discoverers.

He then took a cursory view of the present state of the science

and explained many of its elementary terms.  After having made a few

preparatory experiments, he concluded with a panegyric upon modern chemistry,

the terms of which I shall never forget:  "The ancient teachers of this

science," said he, "promised impossibilities and performed nothing.

The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be

transmuted and that the elixir of life is a chimera but these philosophers,

whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over

the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles.  They penetrate

into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places.

They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates,

and the nature of the air we breathe.  They have acquired new and almost

unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the

earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows."

 

Such were the professor's words--rather let me say such the words

of the fate--enounced to destroy me.  As he went on I felt as if my

soul were grappling with a palpable enemy; one by one the various

keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being; chord after

chord was sounded, and soon my mind was filled with one thought,

one conception, one purpose.  So much has been done, exclaimed the

soul of Frankenstein--more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the

steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers,

and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.

 

I closed not my eyes that night.  My internal being was in a state

of insurrection and turmoil; I felt that order would thence arise,

but I had no power to produce it.  By degrees, after the morning's

dawn, sleep came.  I awoke, and my yesternight's thoughts were as

a dream.  There only remained a resolution to return to my ancient

studies and to devote myself to a science for which I believed

myself to possess a natural talent.  On the same day I paid

M. Waldman a visit.  His manners in private were even more mild and

attractive than in public, for there was a certain dignity in his

mien during his lecture which in his own house was replaced by the

greatest affability and kindness.  I gave him pretty nearly the same

account of my former pursuits as I had given to his fellow professor.

He heard with attention the little narration concerning my studies

and smiled at the names of Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus, but

without the contempt that M. Krempe had exhibited. He said that

"These were men to whose indefatigable zeal modern philosophers

were indebted for most of the foundations of their knowledge.

They had left to us, as an easier task, to give new names

and arrange in connected classifications the facts which they

in a great degree had been the instruments of bringing to light.

The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed,

scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage

of mankind."  I listened to his statement, which was delivered

without any presumption or affectation, and then added that

his lecture had removed my prejudices against modern chemists;

I expressed myself in measured terms, with the modesty and deference

due from a youth to his instructor, without letting escape

(inexperience in life would have made me ashamed) any of the

enthusiasm which stimulated my intended labours.  I requested

his advice concerning the books I ought to procure.

 

"I am happy," said M. Waldman, "to have gained a disciple; and if

your application equals your ability, I have no doubt of your success.

Chemistry is that branch of natural philosophy in which the greatest

improvements have been and may be made; it is on that account

that I have made it my peculiar study; but at the same time,

I have not neglected the other branches of science.  A man

would make but a very sorry chemist if he attended to that

department of human knowledge alone.  If your wish is to become

really a man of science and not merely a petty experimentalist,

I should advise you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy,

including mathematics."  He then took me into his laboratory and

explained to me the uses of his various machines, instructing me as

to what I ought to procure and promising me the use of his own when

I should have advanced far enough in the science not to derange

their mechanism.  He also gave me the list of books which I had

requested, and I took my leave.

 

Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future destiny.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

From this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry,

in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly

my sole occupation.  I read with ardour those works, so full

of genius and discrimination, which modern inquirers have written

on these subjects.  I attended the lectures and cultivated the

acquaintance of the men of science of the university, and I found

even in M. Krempe a great deal of sound sense and real information,

combined, it is true, with a repulsive physiognomy and manners,

but not on that account the less valuable.  In M. Waldman I found

a true friend.  His gentleness was never tinged by dogmatism, and his

instructions were given with an air of frankness and good nature that

banished every idea of pedantry.  In a thousand ways he smoothed

for me the path of knowledge and made the most abstruse inquiries

clear and facile to my apprehension.  My application was at first

fluctuating and uncertain; it gained strength as I proceeded and

soon became so ardent and eager that the stars often disappeared

in the light of morning whilst I was yet engaged in my laboratory.

 

As I applied so closely, it may be easily conceived that my progress

was rapid.  My ardour was indeed the astonishment of the students,

and my proficiency that of the masters.  Professor Krempe

often asked me, with a sly smile, how Cornelius Agrippa went on,

whilst M. Waldman expressed the most heartfelt exultation in

my progress.  Two years passed in this manner, during which I paid

no visit to Geneva, but was engaged, heart and soul, in the pursuit

of some discoveries which I hoped to make.  None but those who

have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science.

In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you,

and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit

there is continual food for discovery and wonder.  A mind of moderate

capacity which closely pursues one study must infallibly arrive at

great proficiency in that study; and I, who continually sought the

attainment of one object of pursuit and was solely wrapped up in this,

improved so rapidly that at the end of two years I made some

discoveries in the improvement of some chemical instruments,

which procured me great esteem and admiration at the university.

When I had arrived at this point and had become as well acquainted

with the theory and practice of natural philosophy as depended on the

lessons of any of the professors at Ingolstadt, my residence there

being no longer conducive to my improvements, I thought of returning

to my friends and my native town, when an incident happened that

protracted my stay.

 

One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention

was the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal

endued with life.  Whence, I often asked myself, did the

principle of life proceed?  It was a bold question, and one which

has ever been considered as a mystery; yet with how many things

are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or

carelessness did not restrain our inquiries.  I revolved these

circumstances in my mind and determined thenceforth to apply myself

more particularly to those branches of natural philosophy which

relate to physiology.  Unless I had been animated by an almost

supernatural enthusiasm, my application to this study would have

been irksome and almost intolerable.  To examine the causes of life,

we must first have recourse to death.  I became acquainted with

the science of anatomy, but this was not sufficient; I must also

observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body.

In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions

that my mind should be impressed with no supernatural horrors.

I do not ever remember to have trembled at a tale of superstition

or to have feared the apparition of a spirit.  Darkness had no effect

upon my fancy, and a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies

deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength,

had become food for the worm.  Now I was led to examine the cause

and progress of this decay and forced to spend days and nights

in vaults and charnel-houses.  My attention was fixed upon every

object the most insupportable to the delicacy of the human feelings.

I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld

the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life;

I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain.

I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation,

as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life,

until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me

--a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I

became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated,

I was surprised that among so many men of genius who had directed

their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be

reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.

 

Remember, I am not recording the vision of a madman.  The sun does not

more certainly shine in the heavens than that which I now affirm is true.

Some miracle might have produced it, yet the stages of the discovery

were distinct and probable.  After days and nights of incredible labour

and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life;

nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.

 

The astonishment which I had at first experienced on this discovery

soon gave place to delight and rapture.  After so much time spent in

painful labour, to arrive at once at the summit of my desires was

the most gratifying consummation of my toils.  But this discovery

was so great and overwhelming that all the steps by which I had

been progressively led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only

the result.  What had been the study and desire of the wisest

men since the creation of the world was now within my grasp.

Not that, like a magic scene, it all opened upon me at once:

the information I had obtained was of a nature rather to direct

my endeavours so soon as I should point them towards the object

of my search than to exhibit that object already accomplished.

I was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead and found

a passage to life, aided only by one glimmering and seemingly

ineffectual light.

 

I see by your eagerness and the wonder and hope which your eyes express,

my friend, that you expect to be informed of the secret with which I am

acquainted; that cannot be; listen patiently until the end of my story,

and you will easily perceive why I am reserved upon that subject.

I will not lead you on, unguarded and ardent as I then was,

to your destruction and infallible misery.  Learn from me,

if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is

the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who

believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to

become greater than his nature will allow.

 

When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated

a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it.

Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation,

yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its

intricacies of fibres, muscles, and veins, still remained a

work of inconceivable difficulty and labour.  I doubted at first

whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself,

or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was

too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of

my ability to give life to an animal as complete and wonderful as man.

The materials at present within my command hardly appeared adequate

to so arduous an undertaking, but I doubted not that I should

ultimately succeed.  I prepared myself for a multitude of reverses;

my operations might be incessantly baffled, and at last my work be

imperfect, yet when I considered the improvement which every day

takes place in science and mechanics, I was encouraged to hope my

present attempts would at least lay the foundations of future success.

Nor could I consider the magnitude and complexity of my plan

as any argument of its impracticability.  It was with these

feelings that I began the creation of a human being.  As the

minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I

resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a

gigantic stature, that is to say, about eight feet in height, and

proportionably large.  After having formed this determination and

having spent some months in successfully collecting and arranging

my materials, I began.

 

No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards,

like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success.

Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first

break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.

A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy

and excellent natures would owe their being to me.  No father could

claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs.

Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation

upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now

found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted

the body to corruption.

 

These thoughts supported my spirits, while I pursued my undertaking

with unremitting ardour.  My cheek had grown pale with study,

and my person had become emaciated with confinement.  Sometimes,

on the very brink of certainty, I failed; yet still I clung to

the hope which the next day or the next hour might realize.

One secret which I alone possessed was the hope to which

I had dedicated myself; and the moon gazed on my midnight labours,

while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to

her hiding-places.  Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret

toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave or

tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?

My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance;

but then a resistless and almost frantic impulse urged me forward;

I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit.

It was indeed but a passing trance, that only made me feel with

renewed acuteness so soon as, the unnatural stimulus ceasing to operate,

I had returned to my old habits.  I collected bones from charnel-

houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets

of the human frame.  In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the

top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by

a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation;

my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the

details of my employment.  The dissecting room and the slaughter-

house furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn

with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness

which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion.

 

The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul,

in one pursuit.  It was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow

a more plentiful harvest or the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage,

but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature.  And the same feelings

which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those

friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so

long a time.  I knew my silence disquieted them, and I well remembered

the words of my father:  "I know that while you are pleased with yourself

you will think of us with affection, and we shall hear regularly from you.

You must pardon me if I regard any interruption in your correspondence

as a proof that your other duties are equally neglected."

 

I knew well therefore what would be my father's feelings, but I

could not tear my thoughts from my employment, loathsome in itself,

but which had taken an irresistible hold of my imagination.  I

wished, as it were, to procrastinate all that related to my

feelings of affection until the great object, which swallowed up

every habit of my nature, should be completed.

 

I then thought that my father would be unjust if he ascribed my

neglect to vice or faultiness on my part, but I am now convinced

that he was justified in conceiving that I should not be

altogether free from blame.  A human being in perfection ought

always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow

passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity.  I do

not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule.

If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to

weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple

pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is

certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind.

If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit

whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic

affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared

his country, America would have been discovered more gradually,

and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.

 

But I forget that I am moralizing in the most interesting part of

my tale, and your looks remind me to proceed.  My father made no

reproach in his letters and only took notice of my science by

inquiring into my occupations more particularly than before.

Winter, spring, and summer passed away during my labours; but I did

not watch the blossom or the expanding leaves--sights which before

always yielded me supreme delight--so deeply was I engrossed in my

occupation.  The leaves of that year had withered before my work

drew near to a close, and now every day showed me more plainly how

well I had succeeded.  But my enthusiasm was checked by my anxiety,

and I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines,

or any other unwholesome trade than an artist occupied by his

favourite employment.  Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever,

and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of

a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had

been guilty of a crime.  Sometimes I grew alarmed at the wreck

I perceived that I had become; the energy of my purpose alone

sustained me:  my labours would soon end, and I believed that

exercise and amusement would then drive away incipient disease; and

I promised myself both of these when my creation should be complete.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the

accomplishment of my toils.  With an anxiety that almost

amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me,

that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that

lay at my feet.  It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered

dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when,

by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull

yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive

motion agitated its limbs.

 

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how

delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had

endeavoured to form?  His limbs were in proportion, and I had

selected his features as beautiful.  Beautiful!  Great God!

His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries

beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth

of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more

horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the

same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set,

his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

 

The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the

feelings of human nature.  I had worked hard for nearly two years,

for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body.

For this I had deprived myself of rest and health.  I had desired it

with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had

finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror

and disgust filled my heart.  Unable to endure the aspect of the

being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long

time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.

At length lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before endured,

and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek

a few moments of forgetfulness.  But it was in vain; I slept,

indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams.  I thought I saw

Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt.

Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the

first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death;

her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse

of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw

the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel.  I started from

my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered,

and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon,

as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch

--the miserable monster whom I had created.  He held up the curtain of the bed;

and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me.  His jaws opened,

and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks.

He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out,

seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs.

I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited,

where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the

greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound

as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which

I had so miserably given life.

 

Oh!  No mortal could support the horror of that countenance.  A mummy

again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch.

I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when

those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion,

it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.

 

I passed the night wretchedly.  Sometimes my pulse beat so quickly

and hardly that I felt the palpitation of every artery; at others,

I nearly sank to the ground through languor and extreme weakness.

Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment;

dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space

were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid,

the overthrow so complete!

 

Morning, dismal and wet, at length dawned and discovered to my

sleepless and aching eyes the church of Ingolstadt, its white

steeple and clock, which indicated the sixth hour.  The porter

opened the gates of the court, which had that night been my asylum,

and I issued into the streets, pacing them with quick steps, as if

I sought to avoid the wretch whom I feared every turning of the

street would present to my view.  I did not dare return to the

apartment which I inhabited, but felt impelled to hurry on,

although drenched by the rain which poured from a black and

comfortless sky.

 

I continued walking in this manner for some time, endeavouring

by bodily exercise to ease the load that weighed upon my mind.

I traversed the streets without any clear conception of where I was

or what I was doing.  My heart palpitated in the sickness of fear,

and I hurried on with irregular steps, not daring to look about me:

 

 

 Like one who, on a lonely road,

 Doth walk in fear and dread,

 And, having once turned round, walks on,

 And turns no more his head;

 Because he knows a frightful fiend

 Doth close behind him tread.

 

 [Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner."]

 

 

Continuing thus, I came at length opposite to the inn at which the

various diligences and carriages usually stopped.  Here I paused,

I knew not why; but I remained some minutes with my eyes fixed on

a coach that was coming towards me from the other end of the street.

As it drew nearer I observed that it was the Swiss diligence;

it stopped just where I was standing, and on the door being opened,

I perceived Henry Clerval, who, on seeing me, instantly sprung out.

"My dear Frankenstein," exclaimed he, "how glad I am to see you!

How fortunate that you should be here at the very moment of my alighting!"

 

Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his presence

brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth, and all those

scenes of home so dear to my recollection.  I grasped his hand,

and in a moment forgot my horror and misfortune; I felt suddenly,

and for the first time during many months, calm and serene joy.

I welcomed my friend, therefore, in the most cordial manner, and we

walked towards my college.  Clerval continued talking for some time

about our mutual friends and his own good fortune in being permitted

to come to Ingolstadt.  "You may easily believe," said he,

"how great was the difficulty to persuade my father that all

necessary knowledge was not comprised in the noble art of

bookkeeping; and, indeed, I believe I left him incredulous to the

last, for his constant answer to my unwearied entreaties was the

same as that of the Dutch schoolmaster in The Vicar of Wakefield:

`I have ten thousand florins a year without Greek, I eat heartily

without Greek.'  But his affection for me at length overcame his

dislike of learning, and he has permitted me to undertake a voyage

of discovery to the land of knowledge."

 

"It gives me the greatest delight to see you; but tell me how you

left my father, brothers, and Elizabeth."

 

"Very well, and very happy, only a little uneasy that they hear

from you so seldom.  By the by, I mean to lecture you a little upon

their account myself.  But, my dear Frankenstein," continued he,

stopping short and gazing full in my face, "I did not before remark

how very ill you appear; so thin and pale; you look as if you had

been watching for several nights."

 

"You have guessed right; I have lately been so deeply engaged

in one occupation that I have not allowed myself sufficient rest,

as you see; but I hope, I sincerely hope, that all these employments

are now at an end and that I am at length free."

 

I trembled excessively; I could not endure to think of, and far

less to allude to, the occurrences of the preceding night.

I walked with a quick pace, and we soon arrived at my college.

I then reflected, and the thought made me shiver, that the creature

whom I had left in my apartment might still be there, alive and

walking about.  I dreaded to behold this monster, but I feared

still more that Henry should see him.  Entreating him, therefore,

to remain a few minutes at the bottom of the stairs, I darted up

towards my own room.  My hand was already on the lock of the door

before I recollected myself.  I then paused, and a cold shivering

came over me.  I threw the door forcibly open, as children are

accustomed to do when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting for

them on the other side; but nothing appeared.  I stepped fearfully in:

the apartment was empty, and my bedroom was also freed from its

hideous guest.  I could hardly believe that so great a good fortune

could have befallen me, but when I became assured that my enemy had

indeed fled, I clapped my hands for joy and ran down to Clerval.

 

We ascended into my room, and the servant presently brought breakfast;

but I was unable to contain myself.  It was not joy only that

possessed me; I felt my flesh tingle with excess of sensitiveness,

and my pulse beat rapidly.  I was unable to remain for a single instant

in the same place; I jumped over the chairs, clapped my hands,

and laughed aloud.  Clerval at first attributed my unusual spirits

to joy on his arrival, but when he observed me more attentively,

he saw a wildness in my eyes for which he could not account, and my loud,

unrestrained, heartless laughter frightened and astonished him.

 

"My dear Victor," cried he, "what, for God's sake, is the matter?

Do not laugh in that manner.  How ill you are!  What is the cause

of all this?"

 

"Do not ask me," cried I, putting my hands before my eyes, for I

thought I saw the dreaded spectre glide into the room; "HE can tell.

Oh, save me!  Save me!"  I imagined that the monster seized me;

I struggled furiously and fell down in a fit.

 

Poor Clerval!  What must have been his feelings?  A meeting,

which he anticipated with such joy, so strangely turned to bitterness.

But I was not the witness of his grief, for I was lifeless and did not

recover my senses for a long, long time.

 

This was the commencement of a nervous fever which confined me

for several months.  During all that time Henry was my only nurse.

I afterwards learned that, knowing my father's advanced age and

unfitness for so long a journey, and how wretched my sickness would

make Elizabeth, he spared them this grief by concealing the extent

of my disorder.  He knew that I could not have a more kind and

attentive nurse than himself; and, firm in the hope he felt of

my recovery, he did not doubt that, instead of doing harm,

he performed the kindest action that he could towards them.

 

But I was in reality very ill, and surely nothing but the unbounded

and unremitting attentions of my friend could have restored me to life.

The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was

forever before my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him.

Doubtless my words surprised Henry; he at first believed them to be

the wanderings of my disturbed imagination, but the pertinacity with

which I continually recurred to the same subject persuaded him that my

disorder indeed owed its origin to some uncommon and terrible event.

 

By very slow degrees, and with frequent relapses that alarmed and

grieved my friend, I recovered.  I remember the first time I became

capable of observing outward objects with any kind of pleasure,

I perceived that the fallen leaves had disappeared and that the

young buds were shooting forth from the trees that shaded my window.

It was a divine spring, and the season contributed greatly to my

convalescence.  I felt also sentiments of joy and affection revive

in my bosom; my gloom disappeared, and in a short time I became as

cheerful as before I was attacked by the fatal passion.

 

"Dearest Clerval," exclaimed I, "how kind, how very good you are to me.

This whole winter, instead of being spent in study, as you promised yourself,

has been consumed in my sick room.  How shall I ever repay you?  I feel the

greatest remorse for the disappointment of which I have been the occasion,

but you will forgive me."

 

"You will repay me entirely if you do not discompose yourself,

but get well as fast as you can; and since you appear in such

good spirits, I may speak to you on one subject, may I not?"

 

I trembled.  One subject!  What could it be?  Could he allude to an

object on whom I dared not even think?  "Compose yourself," said

Clerval, who observed my change of colour, "I will not mention it

if it agitates you; but your father and cousin would be very happy

if they received a letter from you in your own handwriting.  They

hardly know how ill you have been and are uneasy at your long silence."

 

"Is that all, my dear Henry?  How could you suppose that my first

thought would not fly towards those dear, dear friends whom I love

and who are so deserving of my love?"

 

"If this is your present temper, my friend, you will perhaps be

glad to see a letter that has been lying here some days for you;

it is from your cousin, I believe."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

Clerval then put the following letter into my hands.  It was from

my own Elizabeth:

 

"My dearest Cousin,

 

"You have been ill, very ill, and even the constant letters of

dear kind Henry are not sufficient to reassure me on your account.

You are forbidden to write--to hold a pen; yet one word from you,

dear Victor, is necessary to calm our apprehensions.  For a long time

I have thought that each post would bring this line, and my persuasions

have restrained my uncle from undertaking a journey to Ingolstadt.

I have prevented his encountering the inconveniences and perhaps dangers

of so long a journey, yet how often have I regretted not being able to

perform it myself!  I figure to myself that the task of attending on

your sickbed has devolved on some mercenary old nurse, who could never

guess your wishes nor minister to them with the care and affection

of your poor cousin.  Yet that is over now:  Clerval writes that

indeed you are getting better.  I eagerly hope that you will

confirm this intelligence soon in your own handwriting.

 

"Get well--and return to us.  You will find a happy, cheerful home

and friends who love you dearly.  Your father's health is vigorous,

and he asks but to see you, but to be assured that you are well;

and not a care will ever cloud his benevolent countenance.

How pleased you would be to remark the improvement of our Ernest!

He is now sixteen and full of activity and spirit.  He is desirous

to be a true Swiss and to enter into foreign service, but we cannot

part with him, at least until his elder brother returns to us.

My uncle is not pleased with the idea of a military career in a

distant country, but Ernest never had your powers of application.

He looks upon study as an odious fetter; his time is spent in the

open air, climbing the hills or rowing on the lake.  I fear that he

will become an idler unless we yield the point and permit him to

enter on the profession which he has selected.

 

"Little alteration, except the growth of our dear children,

has taken place since you left us.  The blue lake and snow-clad

mountains--they never change; and I think our placid home and

our contented hearts are regulated by the same immutable laws.

My trifling occupations take up my time and amuse me, and I am

rewarded for any exertions by seeing none but happy, kind faces

around me.  Since you left us, but one change has taken place in

our little household.  Do you remember on what occasion Justine

Moritz entered our family?  Probably you do not; I will relate her

history, therefore in a few words.  Madame Moritz, her mother,

was a widow with four children, of whom Justine was the third.

This girl had always been the favourite of her father, but through a

strange perversity, her mother could not endure her, and after the

death of M. Moritz, treated her very ill.  My aunt observed this,

and when Justine was twelve years of age, prevailed on her mother

to allow her to live at our house.  The republican institutions

of our country have produced simpler and happier manners than

those which prevail in the great monarchies that surround it.

Hence there is less distinction between the several classes

of its inhabitants; and the lower orders, being neither so poor

nor so despised, their manners are more refined and moral.

A servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant

in France and England.  Justine, thus received in our family,

learned the duties of a servant, a condition which, in our

fortunate country, does not include the idea of ignorance

and a sacrifice of the dignity of a human being.

 

"Justine, you may remember, was a great favourite of yours; and I

recollect you once remarked that if you were in an ill humour, one

glance from Justine could dissipate it, for the same reason that

Ariosto gives concerning the beauty of Angelica--she looked so

frank-hearted and happy.  My aunt conceived a great attachment

for her, by which she was induced to give her an education superior

to that which she had at first intended.  This benefit was fully

repaid; Justine was the most grateful little creature in the world:

I do not mean that she made any professions I never heard one pass

her lips, but you could see by her eyes that she almost adored her

protectress.  Although her disposition was gay and in many respects

inconsiderate, yet she paid the greatest attention to every gesture

of my aunt.  She thought her the model of all excellence and endeavoured

to imitate her phraseology and manners, so that even now she often

reminds me of her.

 

"When my dearest aunt died every one was too much occupied in their

own grief to notice poor Justine, who had attended her during her

illness with the most anxious affection.  Poor Justine was very ill;

but other trials were reserved for her.

 

"One by one, her brothers and sister died; and her mother,

with the exception of her neglected daughter, was left childless.

The conscience of the woman was troubled; she began to think

that the deaths of her favourites was a judgement from heaven

to chastise her partiality.  She was a Roman Catholic; and I

believe her confessor confirmed the idea which she had conceived.

Accordingly, a few months after your departure for Ingolstadt,

Justine was called home by her repentant mother.  Poor girl!

She wept when she quitted our house; she was much altered since

the death of my aunt; grief had given softness and a winning

mildness to her manners, which had before been remarkable for vivacity.

Nor was her residence at her mother's house of a nature to restore

her gaiety.  The poor woman was very vacillating in her repentance.

She sometimes begged Justine to forgive her unkindness, but much

oftener accused her of having caused the deaths of her brothers

and sister.  Perpetual fretting at length threw Madame Moritz into

a decline, which at first increased her irritability, but she is now

at peace for ever.  She died on the first approach of cold weather,

at the beginning of this las winter.  Justine has just returned to us;

and I assure you I love her tenderly.  She is very clever and gentle,

and extremely pretty; as I mentioned before, her mein and her

expression continually remind me of my dear aunt.

 

"I must say also a few words to you, my dear cousin, of little

darling William.  I wish you could see him; he is very tall of his age,

with sweet laughing blue eyes, dark eyelashes, and curling hair.

When he smiles, two little dimples appear on each cheek, which are

rosy with health.  He has already had one or two little WIVES,

but Louisa Biron is his favourite, a pretty little girl of five

years of age.

 

"Now, dear Victor, I dare say you wish to be indulged in a little

gossip concerning the good people of Geneva.  The pretty Miss

Mansfield has already received the congratulatory visits on her

approaching marriage with a young Englishman, John Melbourne, Esq.

Her ugly sister, Manon, married M. Duvillard, the rich banker,

last autumn.  Your favourite schoolfellow, Louis Manoir, has suffered

several misfortunes since the departure of Clerval from Geneva.

But he has already recovered his spirits, and is reported to be on

the point of marrying a lively pretty Frenchwoman, Madame Tavernier.

She is a widow, and much older than Manoir; but she is very much admired,

and a favourite with everybody.

 

"I have written myself into better spirits, dear cousin; but my

anxiety returns upon me as I conclude.  Write, dearest Victor, --

one line--one word will be a blessing to us.  Ten thousand thanks

to Henry for his kindness, his affection, and his many letters; we

are sincerely grateful.  Adieu!  my cousin; take care of your self;

and, I entreat you, write!

 

Elizabeth Lavenza.

 

Geneva, March 18, 17--,

 

 

"Dear, dear Elizabeth!" I exclaimed, when I had read her letter:

"I will write instantly and relieve them from the anxiety they must feel."

I wrote, and this exertion greatly fatigued me; but my convalescence

had commenced, and proceeded regularly.  In another fortnight I was able

to leave my chamber.

 

One of my first duties on my recovery was to introduce Clerval to

the several professors of the university.  In doing this, I underwent

a kind of rough usage, ill befitting the wounds that my mind had sustained.

Ever since the fatal night, the end of my labours, and the beginning of

my misfortunes, I had conceived a violent antipathy even to the name

of natural philosophy.  When I was otherwise quite restored to health,

the sight of a chemical instrument would renew all the agony of

my nervous symptoms.  Henry saw this, and had removed all my apparatus

from my view.  He had also changed my apartment; for he perceived that I

had acquired a dislike for the room which had previously been my laboratory.

But these cares of Clerval were made of no avail when I visited the professors.

M. Waldman inflicted torture when he praised, with kindness and warmth,

the astonishing progress I had made in the sciences.  He soon perceived

that I disliked the subject; but not guessing the real cause,

he attributed my feelings to modesty, and changed the subject from

my improvement, to the science itself, with a desire, as I evidently saw,

of drawing me out.  What could I do?  He meant to please, and he tormented me.

I felt as if he had placed carefully, one by one, in my five those instruments

which were to be afterwards used in putting me to a slow and cruel death.

I writhed under his words, yet dared not exhibit the pain I felt.

Clerval, whose eyes and feelings were always quick in discerning

the sensations of others, declined the subject, alleging, in excuse,

his total ignorance; and the conversation took a more general turn.

I thanked my friend from my heart, but I did not speak.  I saw plainly

that he was surprised, but he never attempted to draw my secret from me;

and although I loved him with a mixture of affection and reverence

that knew no bounds, yet I could never persuade myself to confide

in him that event which was so often present to my recollection,

but which I feared the detail to another would only impress more deeply.

 

M. Krempe was not equally docile; and in my condition at that time,

of almost insupportable sensitiveness, his harsh blunt encomiums

gave me even more pain than the benevolent approbation of M. Waldman.

"D--n the fellow!" cried he; "why, M. Clerval, I assure you he has

outstript us all.  Ay, stare if you please; but it is nevertheless true.

A youngster who, but a few years ago, believed in Cornelius Agrippa

as firmly as in the gospel, has now set himself at the head of

the university; and if he is not soon pulled down, we shall all

be out of countenance.  --Ay, ay," continued he, observing my face

expressive of suffering, "M. Frankenstein is modest; an excellent

quality in a young man.  Young men should be diffident of themselves,

you know, M. Clerval:  I was myself when young; but that wears out

in a very short time."

 

M. Krempe had now commenced an eulogy on himself, which happily

turned the conversation from a subject that was so annoying to me.

 

Clerval had never sympathized in my tastes for natural science; and his

literary pursuits differed wholly from those which had occupied me.

He came to the university with the design of making himself

complete master of the oriental languages, and thus he should open

a field for the plan of life he had marked out for himself.

Resolved to pursue no inglorious career, he turned his eyes

toward the East, as affording scope for his spirit of enterprise.

The Persian, Arabic, and Sanscrit languages engaged his attention,

and I was easily induced to enter on the same studies.  Idleness had

ever been irksome to me, and now that I wished to fly from reflection,

and hated my former studies, I felt great relief in being the

fellow-pupil with my friend, and found not only instruction

but consolation in the works of the orientalists.  I did not,

like him, attempt a critical knowledge of their dialects,

for I did not contemplate making any other use of them than

temporary amusement.  I read merely to understand their meaning,

and they well repaid my labours.  Their melancholy is soothing,

and their joy elevating, to a degree I never experienced in studying

the authors of any other country.  When you read their writings,

life appears to consist in a warm sun and a garden of roses,

--in the smiles and frowns of a fair enemy, and the fire that consumes

your own heart.  How different from the manly and heroical poetry of

Greece and Rome!

 

Summer passed away in these occupations, and my return to Geneva

was fixed for the latter end of autumn; but being delayed by

several accidents, winter and snow arrived, the roads were deemed

impassable, and my journey was retarded until the ensuing spring.

I felt this delay very bitterly; for I longed to see my native town

and my beloved friends.  My return had only been delayed so long,

from an unwillingness to leave Clerval in a strange place, before

he had become acquainted with any of its inhabitants.  The winter,

however, was spent cheerfully; and although the spring was

uncommonly late, when it came its beauty compensated for its

dilatoriness.

 

The month of May had already commenced, and I expected the letter

daily which was to fix the date of my departure, when Henry proposed

a pedestrian tour in the environs of Ingolstadt, that I might bid

a personal farewell to the country I had so long inhabited.

I acceded with pleasure to this proposition:  I was fond of exercise,

and Clerval had always been my favourite companion in the ramble

of this nature that I had taken among the scenes of my native country.

 

We passed a fortnight in these perambulations:  my health and

spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional

strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the natural

incidents of our progress, and the conversation of my friend.

Study had before secluded me from the intercourse of my fellow-

creatures, and rendered me unsocial; but Clerval called forth the

better feelings of my heart; he again taught me to love the aspect

of nature, and the cheerful faces of children.  Excellent friend!

how sincerely you did love me, and endeavour to elevate my mind

until it was on a level with your own.  A selfish pursuit had

cramped and narrowed me, until your gentleness and affection

warmed and opened my senses; I became the same happy creature who,

a few years ago, loved and beloved by all, had no sorrow or care.

When happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me the

most delightful sensations.  A serene sky and verdant fields filled

me with ecstasy.  The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of

spring bloomed in the hedges, while those of summer were already in bud.

I was undisturbed by thoughts which during the preceding year had

pressed upon me, notwithstanding my endeavours to throw them off,

with an invincible burden.

 

Henry rejoiced in my gaiety, and sincerely sympathised in my feelings:

he exerted himself to amuse me, while he expressed the sensations that

filled his soul.  The resources of his mind on this occasion were

truly astonishing:  his conversation was full of imagination;

and very often, in imitation of the Persian and Arabic writers,

he invented tales of wonderful fancy and passion.  At other times

he repeated my favourite poems, or drew me out into arguments,

which he supported with great ingenuity.  We returned to our college

on a Sunday afternoon:  the peasants were dancing, and every one we met

appeared gay and happy.  My own spirits were high, and I bounded along

with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

On my return, I found the following letter from my father:  --

 

 

"My dear Victor,

 

"You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix the date

of your return to us; and I was at first tempted to write only a

few lines, merely mentioning the day on which I should expect you.

But that would be a cruel kindness, and I dare not do it.

What would be your surprise, my son, when you expected a happy

and glad welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears and wretchedness?

And how, Victor, can I relate our misfortune?  Absence cannot have

rendered you callous to our joys and griefs; and how shall I inflict

pain on my long absent son?  I wish to prepare you for the woeful news,

but I know it is impossible; even now your eye skims over the page

to seek the words which are to convey to you the horrible tidings.

 

"William is dead!--that sweet child, whose smiles delighted and

warmed my heart, who was so gentle, yet so gay!  Victor, he is

murdered!

 

"I will not attempt to console you; but will simply relate the

circumstances of the transaction.

 

"Last Thursday (May 7th), I, my niece, and your two brothers,

went to walk in Plainpalais.  The evening was warm and serene,

and we prolonged our walk farther than usual.  It was already dusk

before we thought of returning; and then we discovered that

William and Ernest, who had gone on before, were not to be found.

We accordingly rested on a seat until they should return.

Presently Ernest came, and enquired if we had seen his brother;

he said, that he had been playing with him, that William had run away

to hide himself, and that he vainly sought for him, and afterwards

waited for a long time, but that he did not return.

 

"This account rather alarmed us, and we continued to search for him

until night fell, when Elizabeth conjectured that he might have

returned to the house.  He was not there.  We returned again, with

torches; for I could not rest, when I thought that my sweet boy had

lost himself, and was exposed to all the damps and dews of night;

Elizabeth also suffered extreme anguish.  About five in the morning

I discovered my lovely boy, whom the night before I had seen blooming

and active in health, stretched on the grass livid and motionless;

the print of the murder's finger was on his neck.

 

"He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible in

my countenance betrayed the secret to Elizabeth.  She was very

earnest to see the corpse.  At first I attempted to prevent her

but she persisted, and entering the room where it lay, hastily

examined the neck of the victim, and clasping her hands exclaimed,

`O God!  I have murdered my darling child!'

 

"She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty.  When she

again lived, it was only to weep and sigh.  She told me, that that

same evening William had teased her to let him wear a very valuable

miniature that she possessed of your mother.  This picture is gone,

and was doubtless the temptation which urged the murderer to the deed.

We have no trace of him at present, although our exertions to discover

him are unremitted; but they will not restore my beloved William!

 

"Come, dearest Victor; you alone can console Elizabeth.  She weeps

continually, and accuses herself unjustly as the cause of his death;

her words pierce my heart.  We are all unhappy; but will not that be

an additional motive for you, my son, to return and be our comforter?

Your dear mother!  Alas, Victor!  I now say, Thank God she did not live

to witness the cruel, miserable death of her youngest darling!

 

"Come, Victor; not brooding thoughts of vengeance against

the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness,

that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our minds.

Enter the house of mourning, my friend, but with kindness and

affection for those who love you, and not with hatred for your enemies.

 

 

               "Your affectionate and afflicted father,

 

                              "Alphonse Frankenstein.

 

"Geneva, May 12th, 17--."

 

 

Clerval, who had watched my countenance as I read this letter,

was surprised to observe the despair that succeeded the joy I at first

expressed on receiving new from my friends.  I threw the letter on the

table, and covered my face with my hands.

 

"My dear Frankenstein," exclaimed Henry, when he perceived me weep

with bitterness, "are you always to be unhappy?  My dear friend,

what has happened?"

 

I motioned him to take up the letter, while I walked up and down

the room in the extremest agitation.  Tears also gushed from the

eyes of Clerval, as he read the account of my misfortune.

 

"I can offer you no consolation, my friend," said he;

"your disaster is irreparable.  What do you intend to do?"

 

"To go instantly to Geneva:  come with my, Henry, to order the horses."

 

During our walk, Clerval endeavoured to say a few words of consolation;

he could only express his heartfelt sympathy.  "Poor William!" said he,

dear lovely child, he now sleeps with his angel mother!  Who that had

seen him bright and joyous in his young beauty, but must weep over his

untimely loss!  To die so miserably; to feel the murderer's grasp!

How much more a murdered that could destroy radiant innocence!

Poor little fellow! one only consolation have we; his friends mourn and weep,

but he is at rest. The pang is over, his sufferings are at an end for ever.

A sod covers his gentle form, and he knows no pain.  He can no longer be

a subject for pity; we must reserve that for his miserable survivors."

 

Clerval spoke thus as we hurried through the streets; the words impressed

themselves on my mind and I remembered them afterwards in solitude.

But now, as soon as the horses arrived, I hurried into a cabriolet,

and bade farewell to my friend.

 

My journey was very melancholy.  At first I wished to hurry on,

for I longed to console and sympathise with my loved and sorrowing friends;

but when I drew near my native town, I slackened my progress.

I could hardly sustain the multitude of feelings that crowded

into my mind.  I passed through scenes familiar to my youth,

but which I had not seen for nearly six years.  How altered

every thing might be during that time!  One sudden and desolating

change had taken place; but a thousand little circumstances

might have by degrees worked other alterations, which, although

they were done more tranquilly, might not be the less decisive.

Fear overcame me; I dared no advance, dreading a thousand nameless

evils that made me tremble, although I was unable to define them.

I remained two days at Lausanne, in this painful state of mind.

I contemplated the lake:  the waters were placid; all around was calm;

and the snowy mountains, `the palaces of nature,' were not changed.

By degrees the calm and heavenly scene restored me, and I continued

my journey towards Geneva.

 

The road ran by the side of the lake, which became narrower as I

approached my native town.  I discovered more distinctly the black

sides of Jura, and the bright summit of Mont Blanc.  I wept like a child.

"Dear mountains! my own beautiful lake! how do you welcome your wanderer?

Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid.

Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?"

 

I fear, my friend, that I shall render myself tedious by dwelling

on these preliminary circumstances; but they were days of

comparative happiness, and I think of them with pleasure.

My country, my beloved country! who but a native can tell the

delight I took in again beholding thy streams, thy mountains,

and, more than all, thy lovely lake!

 

Yet, as I drew nearer home, grief and fear again overcame me.

Night also closed around; and when I could hardly see the dark

mountains, I felt still more gloomily.  The picture appeared a vast

and dim scene of evil, and I foresaw obscurely that I was destined

to become the most wretched of human beings.  Alas!  I prophesied

truly, and failed only in one single circumstance, that in all the

misery I imagined and dreaded, I did not conceive the hundredth

part of the anguish I was destined to endure.  It was completely

dark when I arrived in the environs of Geneva; the gates of the town

were already shut; and I was obliged to pass the night at Secheron,

a village at the distance of half a league from the city.

The sky was serene; and, as I was unable to rest, I resolved to

visit the spot where my poor William had been murdered.  As I could

not pass through the town, I was obliged to cross the lake in a boat

to arrive at Plainpalais.  During this short voyage I saw the lightning

playing on the summit of Mont Blanc in the most beautiful figures.

The storm appeared to approach rapidly, and, on landing, I ascended

a low hill, that I might observe its progress.  It advanced;

the heavens were clouded, and I soon felt the rain coming

slowly in large drops, but its violence quickly increased.

 

I quitted my seat, and walked on, although the darkness and storm

increased every minute, and the thunder burst with a terrific crash

over my head.  It was echoed from Saleve, the Juras, and the Alps

of Savoy; vivid flashes of lightning dazzled my eyes, illuminating

the lake, making it appear like a vast sheet of fire; then for an

instant every thing seemed of a pitchy darkness, until the eye

recovered itself from the preceding flash.  The storm, as is often the

case in Switzerland, appeared at once in various parts of the heavens.

The most violent storm hung exactly north of the town,

over the part of the lake which lies between the promontory

of Belvrie and the village of Copet.  Another storm enlightened

Jura with faint flashes; and another darkened and sometimes

disclosed the Mole, a peaked mountain to the east of the lake.

 

While I watched the tempest, so beautiful yet terrific, I

wandered on with a hasty step.  This noble war in the sky

elevated my spirits; I clasped my hands, and exclaimed aloud,

"William, dear angel! this is thy funeral, this thy dirge!"

As I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which

stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed,

gazing intently:  I could not be mistaken.  A flash of lightning

illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me;

its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect more hideous

than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch,

the filthy daemon, to whom I had given life.  What did he there?

Could he be (I shuddered at the conception) the murderer of my brother?

No sooner did that idea cross my imagination, than I became convinced of

its truth; my teeth chattered, and I was forced to lean against a tree

for support.  The figure passed me quickly, and I lost it in the gloom.

 

Nothing in human shape could have destroyed the fair child.

HE was the murderer!  I could not doubt it.  The mere presence

of the idea was an irresistible proof of the fact.  I thought

of pursuing the devil; but it would have been in vain,

for another flash discovered him to me hanging among the rocks

of the nearly perpendicular ascent of Mont Saleve, a hill

that bounds Plainpalais on the south.  He soon reached the summit,

and disappeared.

 

I remained motionless.  The thunder ceased; but the rain still

continued, and the scene was enveloped in an impenetrable darkness.

I revolved in my mind the events which I had until now sought to forget:

the whole train of my progress toward the creation; the appearance

of the works of my own hands at my bedside; its departure.

Two years had now nearly elapsed since the night on which

he first received life; and was this his first crime?  Alas!

I had turned loose into the world a depraved wretch, whose delight

was in carnage and misery; had he not murdered my brother?

 

No one can conceive the anguish I suffered during the remainder of

the night, which I spent, cold and wet, in the open air.  But I did

not feel the inconvenience of the weather; my imagination was busy

in scenes of evil and despair.  I considered the being whom I had

cast among mankind, and endowed with the will and power to effect

purposes of horror, such as the deed which he had now done,

nearly in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose

from the grave, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me.

 

Day dawned; and I directed my steps towards the town.  The gates

were open, and I hastened to my father's house.  My first thought

was to discover what I knew of the murderer, and cause instant

pursuit to be made.  But I paused when I reflected on the story

that I had to tell.  A being whom I myself had formed, and endued

with life, had met me at midnight among the precipices of an

inaccessible mountain.  I remembered also the nervous fever with

which I had been seized just at the time that I dated my creation,

and which would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise so

utterly improbable.  I well knew that if any other had communicated such

a relation to me, I should have looked upon it as the ravings of insanity.

Besides, the strange nature of the animal would elude all pursuit, even if

I were so far credited as to persuade my relatives to commence it.  And then

of what use would be pursuit?  Who could arrest a creature capable of scaling

the overhanging sides of Mont Saleve?  These reflections determined me,

and I resolved to remain silent.

 

It was about five in the morning when I entered my father's house.

I told the servants not to disturb the family, and went into the

library to attend their usual hour of rising.

 

Six years had elapsed, passed in a dream but for one indelible trace,

and I stood in the same place where I had last embraced my father

before my departure for Ingolstadt.  Beloved and venerable parent!

He still remained to me.  I gazed on the picture of my mother,

which stood over the mantel-piece.  It was an historical subject,

painted at my father's desire, and represented Caroline Beaufort

in an agony of despair, kneeling by the coffin of her dead father.

Her garb was rustic, and her cheek pale; but there was an air of

dignity and beauty, that hardly permitted the sentiment of pity.

Below this picture was a miniature of William; and my tears

flowed when I looked upon it.  While I was thus engaged,

Ernest entered:  he had heard me arrive, and hastened to welcome me:

"Welcome, my dearest Victor," said he.  "Ah!  I wish you had come

three months ago, and then you would have found us all joyous

and delighted.  You come to us now to share a misery which nothing

can alleviate; yet you presence will, I hope, revive our father,

who seems sinking under his misfortune; and your persuasions will

induce poor Elizabeth to cease her vain and tormenting self-

accusations.  --Poor William! he was our darling and our pride!"

 

Tears, unrestrained, fell from my brother's eyes; a sense of mortal

agony crept over my frame.  Before, I had only imagined the

wretchedness of my desolated home; the reality came on me as a new,

and a not less terrible, disaster.  I tried to calm Ernest; I enquired

more minutely concerning my father, and her I named my cousin.

 

"She most of all," said Ernest, "requires consolation; she accused

herself of having caused the death of my brother, and that made her

very wretched.  But since the murderer has been discovered--"

 

"The murderer discovered!  Good God! how can that be? who could

attempt to pursue him?  It is impossible; one might as well try to

overtake the winds, or confine a mountain-stream with a straw.

I saw him too; he was free last night!"

 

"I do not know what you mean," replied my brother, in accents of wonder,

"but to us the discovery we have made completes our misery.

No one would believe it at first; and even now Elizabeth will not

be convinced, notwithstanding all the evidence.  Indeed, who would

credit that Justine Moritz, who was so amiable, and fond of all the family,

could suddenly become so capable of so frightful, so appalling a crime?"

 

"Justine Moritz!  Poor, poor girl, is she the accused?  But it is

wrongfully; every one knows that; no one believes it, surely, Ernest?"

 

"No one did at first; but several circumstances came out, that have

almost forced conviction upon us; and her own behaviour has been so

confused, as to add to the evidence of facts a weight that, I fear,

leaves no hope for doubt.  But she will be tried today, and you

will then hear all."

 

He then related that, the morning on which the murder of poor William

had been discovered, Justine had been taken ill, and confined to her bed

for several days.  During this interval, one of the servants,

happening to examine the apparel she had worn on the night of the murder,

had discovered in her pocket the picture of my mother, which had been

judged to be the temptation of the murderer.  The servant instantly

showed it to one of the others, who, without saying a word to any of

the family, went to a magistrate; and, upon their deposition,

Justine was apprehended.  On being charged with the fact,

the poor girl confirmed the suspicion in a great measure

by her extreme confusion of manner.

 

This was a strange tale, but it did not shake my faith; and I

replied earnestly, "You are all mistaken; I know the murderer.

Justine, poor, good Justine, is innocent."

 

At that instant my father entered.  I saw unhappiness deeply

impressed on his countenance, but he endeavoured to welcome me

cheerfully; and, after we had exchanged our mournful greeting,

would have introduced some other topic than that of our disaster,

had not Ernest exclaimed, "Good God, papa!  Victor says that he

knows who was the murderer of poor William."

 

"We do also, unfortunately," replied my father, "for indeed I had

rather have been for ever ignorant than have discovered so much

depravity and ungratitude in one I valued so highly."

 

"My dear father, you are mistaken; Justine is innocent."

 

"If she is, God forbid that she should suffer as guilty.  She is to be

tried today, and I hope, I sincerely hope, that she will be acquitted."

 

This speech calmed me.  I was firmly convinced in my own mind that

Justine, and indeed every human being, was guiltless of this murder.

I had no fear, therefore, that any circumstantial evidence could be

brought forward strong enough to convict her.  My tale was not one

to announce publicly; its astounding horror would be looked upon as

madness by the vulgar.  Did any one indeed exist, except I, the creator,

who would believe, unless his senses convinced him, in the existence of

the living monument of presumption and rash ignorance which I had

let loose upon the world?

 

We were soon joined by Elizabeth.  Time had altered her since I

last beheld her; it had endowed her with loveliness surpassing the

beauty of her childish years.  There was the same candour, the same

vivacity, but it was allied to an expression more full of sensibility

and intellect.  She welcomed me with the greatest affection.

"Your arrival, my dear cousin," said she, "fills me with hope.

You perhaps will find some means to justify my poor guiltless Justine.

Alas! who is safe, if she be convicted of crime?  I rely on her innocence

as certainly as I do upon my own.  Our misfortune is doubly hard to us;

we have not only lost that lovely darling boy, but this poor girl,

whom I sincerely love, is to be torn away by even a worse fate.

If she is condemned, I never shall know joy more.  But she will not,

I am sure she will not; and then I shall be happy again,

even after the sad death of my little William."

 

"She is innocent, my Elizabeth," said I, "and that shall be proved;

fear nothing, but let your spirits be cheered by the assurance of

her acquittal."

 

"How kind and generous you are! every one else believes in her guilt,

and that made me wretched, for I knew that it was impossible:

and to see every one else prejudiced in so deadly a manner

rendered me hopeless and despairing."  She wept.

 

"Dearest niece," said my father, "dry your tears.  If she is,

as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws, and the

activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of partiality."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

 

We passed a few sad hours until eleven o'clock, when the trial was

to commence.  My father and the rest of the family being obliged to

attend as witnesses, I accompanied them to the court.  During the

whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture.

It was to be decided whether the result of my curiosity and

lawless devices would cause the death of two of my fellow beings:

one a smiling babe full of innocence and joy, the other far

more dreadfully murdered, with every aggravation of infamy that

could make the murder memorable in horror.  Justine also was a girl

of merit and possessed qualities which promised to render her life

happy; now all was to be obliterated in an ignominious grave,

and I the cause!  A thousand times rather would I have confessed

myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine, but I was absent

when it was committed, and such a declaration would have been

considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated

her who suffered through me.

 

The appearance of Justine was calm.  She was dressed in mourning,

and her countenance, always engaging, was rendered, by the solemnity

of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful.  Yet she appeared confident

in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated

by thousands, for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise

have excited was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the

imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have committed.

She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was evidently constrained;

and as her confusion had before been adduced as a proof of her guilt,

she worked up her mind to an appearance of courage.  When she entered

the court she threw her eyes round it and quickly discovered where

we were seated.  A tear seemed to dim her eye when she saw us,

but she quickly recovered herself, and a look of sorrowful affection

seemed to attest her utter guiltlessness.

 

The trial began, and after the advocate against her had stated the charge,

several witnesses were called.  Several strange facts combined against her,

which might have staggered anyone who had not such proof of her innocence

as I had.  She had been out the whole of the night on which the murder

had been committed and towards morning had been perceived by a market-woman

not far from the spot where the body of the murdered child had been

afterwards found.  The woman asked her what she did there, but she looked

very strangely and only returned a confused and unintelligible answer.

She returned to the house about eight o'clock, and when one inquired

where she had passed the night, she replied that she had been

looking for the child and demanded earnestly if anything had

been heard concerning him.  When shown the body, she fell into

violent hysterics and kept her bed for several days.  The picture

was then produced which the servant had found in her pocket;

and when Elizabeth, in a faltering voice, proved that it was the

same which, an hour before the child had been missed, she had placed

round his neck, a murmur of horror and indignation filled the court.

 

Justine was called on for her defence.  As the trial had proceeded,

her countenance had altered.  Surprise, horror, and misery were

strongly expressed.  Sometimes she struggled with her tears,

but when she was desired to plead, she collected her powers

and spoke in an audible although variable voice.

 

"God knows," she said, "how entirely I am innocent.  But I do

not pretend that my protestations should acquit me; I rest my

innocence on a plain and simple explanation of the facts which have

been adduced against me, and I hope the character I have always

borne will incline my judges to a favourable interpretation where

any circumstance appears doubtful or suspicious."

 

She then related that, by the permission of Elizabeth, she had

passed the evening of the night on which the murder had been

committed at the house of an aunt at Chene, a village situated at

about a league from Geneva.  On her return, at about nine o'clock,

she met a man who asked her if she had seen anything of the child

who was lost.  She was alarmed by this account and passed several

hours in looking for him, when the gates of Geneva were shut,

and she was forced to remain several hours of the night in a

barn belonging to a cottage, being unwilling to call up the

inhabitants, to whom she was well known.  Most of the night she

spent here watching; towards morning she believed that she slept

for a few minutes; some steps disturbed her, and she awoke.  It was

dawn, and she quitted her asylum, that she might again endeavour to

find my brother.  If she had gone near the spot where his body lay,

it was without her knowledge.  That she had been bewildered when

questioned by the market-woman was not surprising, since she had

passed a sleepless night and the fate of poor William was yet

uncertain.  Concerning the picture she could give no account.

 

"I know," continued the unhappy victim, "how heavily and fatally

this one circumstance weighs against me, but I have no power of

explaining it; and when I have expressed my utter ignorance, I am

only left to conjecture concerning the probabilities by which it

might have been placed in my pocket.  But here also I am checked.

I believe that I have no enemy on earth, and none surely would have

been so wicked as to destroy me wantonly.  Did the murderer place

it there?  I know of no opportunity afforded him for so doing;

or, if I had, why should he have stolen the jewel, to part with

it again so soon?

 

"I commit my cause to the justice of my judges, yet I see no room for hope.

I beg permission to have a few witnesses examined concerning my character,

and if their testimony shall not overweigh my supposed guilt, I must

be condemned, although I would pledge my salvation on my innocence."

 

Several witnesses were called who had known her for many years, and they

spoke well of her; but fear and hatred of the crime of which they supposed

her guilty rendered them timorous and unwilling to come forward.  Elizabeth

saw even this last resource, her excellent dispositions and irreproachable

conduct, about to fail the accused, when, although violently agitated,

she desired permission to address the court.

 

"I am," said she, "the cousin of the unhappy child who was

murdered, or rather his sister, for I was educated by and have

lived with his parents ever since and even long before his birth.

It may therefore be judged indecent in me to come forward on

this occasion, but when I see a fellow creature about to perish

through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be

allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character.

I am well acquainted with the accused.  I have lived in the same house

with her, at one time for five and at another for nearly two years.

During all that period she appeared to me the most amiable and

benevolent of human creatures.  She nursed Madame Frankenstein,

my aunt, in her last illness, with the greatest affection and care

and afterwards attended her own mother during a tedious illness,

in a manner that excited the admiration of all who knew her,

after which she again lived in my uncle's house, where she was beloved

by all the family.  She was warmly attached to the child who is

now dead and acted towards him like a most affectionate mother.

For my own part, I do not hesitate to say that, notwithstanding

all the evidence produced against her, I believe and rely on her

perfect innocence.  She had no temptation for such an action;

as to the bauble on which the chief proof rests, if she had earnestly

desired it, I should have willingly given it to her, so much do I

esteem and value her."

 

A murmur of approbation followed Elizabeth's simple and powerful appeal,

but it was excited by her generous interference, and not in favour of poor

Justine, on whom the public indignation was turned with renewed violence,

charging her with the blackest ingratitude.  She herself wept as Elizabeth

spoke, but she did not answer.  My own agitation and anguish was extreme

during the whole trial.  I believed in her innocence; I knew it.

Could the demon who had (I did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother

also in his hellish sport have betrayed the innocent to death and ignominy?

I could not sustain the horror of my situation, and when I perceived

that the popular voice and the countenances of the judges had already

condemned my unhappy victim, I rushed out of the court in agony.

The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained

by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom and would not

forgo their hold.

 

I passed a night of unmingled wretchedness.  In the morning I went

to the court; my lips and throat were parched.  I dared not ask the

fatal question, but I was known, and the officer guessed the cause

of my visit.  The ballots had been thrown; they were all black,

and Justine was condemned.

 

I cannot pretend to describe what I then felt.  I had before

experienced sensations of horror, and I have endeavoured to bestow

upon them adequate expressions, but words cannot convey an idea of

the heart-sickening despair that I then endured.  The person to

whom I addressed myself added that Justine had already confessed

her guilt.  "That evidence," he observed, "was hardly required in

so glaring a case, but I am glad of it, and, indeed, none of our

judges like to condemn a criminal upon circumstantial evidence,

be it ever so decisive."

 

This was strange and unexpected intelligence; what could it mean?

Had my eyes deceived me?  And was I really as mad as the whole

world would believe me to be if I disclosed the object of my

suspicions?  I hastened to return home, and Elizabeth eagerly

demanded the result.

 

"My cousin," replied I, "it is decided as you may have expected;

all judges had rather that ten innocent should suffer than that one

guilty should escape.  But she has confessed."

 

This was a dire blow to poor Elizabeth, who had relied with

firmness upon Justine's innocence.  "Alas!" said she.  "How shall

I ever again believe in human goodness?  Justine, whom I loved and

esteemed as my sister, how could she put on those smiles of

innocence only to betray?  Her mild eyes seemed incapable of any

severity or guile, and yet she has committed a murder."

 

Soon after we heard that the poor victim had expressed a desire

to see my cousin.  My father wished her not to go but said that

he left it to her own judgment and feelings to decide.  "Yes," said

Elizabeth, "I will go, although she is guilty; and you, Victor,

shall accompany me; I cannot go alone."  The idea of this visit was

torture to me, yet I could not refuse.  We entered the gloomy

prison chamber and beheld Justine sitting on some straw at the

farther end; her hands were manacled, and her head rested on her knees.

She rose on seeing us enter, and when we were left alone with her,

she threw herself at the feet of Elizabeth, weeping bitterly.

My cousin wept also.

 

"Oh, Justine!" said she.  "Why did you rob me of my last consolation?

I relied on your innocence, and although I was then very wretched,

I was not so miserable as I am now."

 

"And do you also believe that I am so very, very wicked?  Do you

also join with my enemies to crush me, to condemn me as a murderer?"

Her voice was suffocated with sobs.

 

"Rise, my poor girl," said Elizabeth; "why do you kneel, if you

are innocent?  I am not one of your enemies, I believed you guiltless,

notwithstanding every evidence, until I heard that you had yourself

declared your guilt.  That report, you say, is false; and be

assured, dear Justine, that nothing can shake my confidence in you

for a moment, but your own confession."

 

"I did confess, but I confessed a lie.  I confessed, that I might

obtain absolution; but now that falsehood lies heavier at my heart

than all my other sins.  The God of heaven forgive me!  Ever since

I was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and

menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that

he said I was.  He threatened excommunication and hell fire in my

last moments if I continued obdurate.  Dear lady, I had none to

support me; all looked on me as a wretch doomed to ignominy and perdition.

What could I do?  In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie; and now only

am I truly miserable."

 

She paused, weeping, and then continued, "I thought with horror,

my sweet lady, that you should believe your Justine, whom your

blessed aunt had so highly honoured, and whom you loved, was a creature

capable of a crime which none but the devil himself could have perpetrated.

Dear William! dearest blessed child!  I soon shall see you again in heaven,

where we shall all be happy; and that consoles me, going as I am to suffer

ignominy and death."

 

"Oh, Justine!  Forgive me for having for one moment distrusted you.

Why did you confess?  But do not mourn, dear girl.  Do not fear.

I will proclaim, I will prove your innocence.  I will melt the

stony hearts of your enemies by my tears and prayers.  You shall

not die!  You, my playfellow, my companion, my sister, perish on the

scaffold!  No!  No!  I never could survive so horrible a misfortune."

 

Justine shook her head mournfully.  "I do not fear to die," she said;

"that pang is past.  God raises my weakness and gives me courage

to endure the worst.  I leave a sad and bitter world; and if you

remember me and think of me as of one unjustly condemned, I am

resigned to the fate awaiting me.  Learn from me, dear lady,

to submit in patience to the will of heaven!"

 

During this conversation I had retired to a corner of the prison room,

where I could conceal the horrid anguish that possessed me.

Despair!  Who dared talk of that?  The poor victim, who on the

morrow was to pass the awful boundary between life and death,

felt not, as I did, such deep and bitter agony.  I gnashed my teeth and

ground them together, uttering a groan that came from my inmost soul.

Justine started.  When she saw who it was, she approached me and said,

"Dear sir, you are very kind to visit me; you, I hope, do not believe

that I am guilty?"

 

I could not answer.  "No, Justine," said Elizabeth; "he is more

convinced of your innocence than I was, for even when he heard

that you had confessed, he did not credit it."

 

"I truly thank him.  In these last moments I feel the sincerest

gratitude towards those who think of me with kindness.  How sweet

is the affection of others to such a wretch as I am!  It removes

more than half my misfortune, and I feel as if I could die in peace now

that my innocence is acknowledged by you, dear lady, and your cousin."

 

Thus the poor sufferer tried to comfort others and herself.

She indeed gained the resignation she desired.  But I, the true

murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed

of no hope or consolation.  Elizabeth also wept and was unhappy,

but hers also was the misery of innocence, which, like a cloud

that passes over the fair moon, for a while hides but cannot tarnish

its brightness.  Anguish and despair had penetrated into the core

of my heart; I bore a hell within me which nothing could extinguish.

We stayed several hours with Justine, and it was with great difficulty

that Elizabeth could tear herself away.  "I wish," cried she,

"that I were to die with you; I cannot live in this world of misery."

 

Justine assumed an air of cheerfulness, while she with difficulty

repressed her bitter tears.  She embraced Elizabeth and said in a

voice of half-suppressed emotion, "Farewell, sweet lady, dearest

Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; may heaven, in its bounty,

bless and preserve you; may this be the last misfortune that you

will ever suffer!  Live, and be happy, and make others so."

 

And on the morrow Justine died.  Elizabeth's heart-rending

eloquence failed to move the judges from their settled conviction

in the criminality of the saintly sufferer.  My passionate and

indignant appeals were lost upon them.  And when I received their

cold answers and heard the harsh, unfeeling reasoning of these men,

my purposed avowal died away on my lips.  Thus I might proclaim

myself a madman, but not revoke the sentence passed upon my

wretched victim.  She perished on the scaffold as a murderess!

 

From the tortures of my own heart, I turned to contemplate the

deep and voiceless grief of my Elizabeth.  This also was my doing!

And my father's woe, and the desolation of that late so smiling home

all was the work of my thrice-accursed hands!  Ye weep, unhappy ones,

but these are not your last tears!  Again shall you raise the

funeral wail, and the sound of your lamentations shall again and

again be heard!  Frankenstein, your son, your kinsman, your early,

much-loved friend; he who would spend each vital drop of blood for

your sakes, who has no thought nor sense of joy except as it is

mirrored also in your dear countenances, who would fill the air

with blessings and spend his life in serving you--he bids you weep,

to shed countless tears; happy beyond his hopes, if thus inexorable

fate be satisfied, and if the destruction pause before the peace of

the grave have succeeded to your sad torments!

 

Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as, torn by remorse, horror, and despair,

I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William

and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

 

Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the

feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events,

the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and

deprives the soul both of hope and fear.  Justine died, she rested,

and I was alive.  The blood flowed freely in my veins, but a weight

of despair and remorse pressed on my heart which nothing could remove.

Sleep fled from my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had

committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more,

much more (I persuaded myself) was yet behind.  Yet my heart overflowed

with kindness and the love of virtue.  I had begun life with benevolent

intentions and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice

and make myself useful to my fellow beings.  Now all was blasted;

instead of that serenity of conscience which allowed me to look back

upon the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence to gather promise

of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt,

which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures such as

no language can describe.

 

This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had perhaps

never entirely recovered from the first shock it had sustained.

I shunned the face of man; all sound of joy or complacency was

torture to me; solitude was my only consolation--deep, dark,

deathlike solitude.

 

My father observed with pain the alteration perceptible in my

disposition and habits and endeavoured by arguments deduced from

the feelings of his serene conscience and guiltless life to inspire

me with fortitude and awaken in me the courage to dispel the dark

cloud which brooded over me.  "Do you think, Victor," said he,

"that I do not suffer also?  No one could love a child more than I

loved your brother"--tears came into his eyes as he spoke--"but is

it not a duty to the survivors that we should refrain from

augmenting their unhappiness by an appearance of immoderate grief?

It is also a duty owed to yourself, for excessive sorrow prevents

improvement or enjoyment, or even the discharge of daily

usefulness, without which no man is fit for society."

 

This advice, although good, was totally inapplicable to my case;

I should have been the first to hide my grief and console my friends

if remorse had not mingled its bitterness, and terror its alarm,

with my other sensations.  Now I could only answer my father with

a look of despair and endeavour to hide myself from his view.

 

About this time we retired to our house at Belrive.  This change

was particularly agreeable to me.  The shutting of the gates

regularly at ten o'clock and the impossibility of remaining on the

lake after that hour had rendered our residence within the walls of

Geneva very irksome to me.  I was now free.  Often, after the rest

of the family had retired for the night, I took the boat and passed

many hours upon the water.  Sometimes, with my sails set, I was

carried by the wind; and sometimes, after rowing into the middle of

the lake, I left the boat to pursue its own course and gave way to

my own miserable reflections.  I was often tempted, when all was at

peace around me, and I the only unquiet thing that wandered restless

in a scene so beautiful and heavenly--if I except some bat, or the frogs,

whose harsh and interrupted croaking was heard only when I approached

the shore--often, I say, I was tempted to plunge into the silent lake,

that the waters might close over me and my calamities forever.  But

I was restrained, when I thought of the heroic and suffering Elizabeth,

whom I tenderly loved, and whose existence was bound up in mine.

I thought also of my father and surviving brother; should I by

my base desertion leave them exposed and unprotected to the malice

of the fiend whom I had let loose among them?

 

At these moments I wept bitterly and wished that peace would revisit

my mind only that I might afford them consolation and happiness.

But that could not be.  Remorse extinguished every hope.  I had been

the author of unalterable evils, and I lived in daily fear lest

the monster whom I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness.

I had an obscure feeling that all was not over and that he would still

commit some signal crime, which by its enormity should almost efface

the recollection of the past.  There was always scope for fear so

long as anything I loved remained behind.  My abhorrence of this fiend

cannot be conceived.  When I thought of him I gnashed my teeth,

my eyes became inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that

life which I had so thoughtlessly bestowed.  When I reflected on his

crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst all bounds of moderation.

I would have made a pilgrimage to the highest peak of the Andes,

could I when there have precipitated him to their base.  I wished to

see him again, that I might wreak the utmost extent of abhorrence on

his head and avenge the deaths of William and Justine.  Our house was

the house of mourning.  My father's health was deeply shaken by the

horror of the recent events.  Elizabeth was sad and desponding;

she no longer took delight in her ordinary occupations; all pleasure

seemed to her sacrilege toward the dead; eternal woe and tears she

then thought was the just tribute she should pay to innocence so

blasted and destroyed.  She was no longer that happy creature who

in earlier youth wandered with me on the banks of the lake and

talked with ecstasy of our future prospects.  The first of those

sorrows which are sent to wean us from the earth had visited her,

and its dimming influence quenched her dearest smiles.

 

"When I reflect, my dear cousin," said she, "on the miserable death

of Justine Moritz, I no longer see the world and its works as they

before appeared to me.  Before, I looked upon the accounts of vice

and injustice that I read in books or heard from others as tales of

ancient days or imaginary evils; at least they were remote and more

familiar to reason than to the imagination; but now misery has come home,

and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other's blood.

Yet I am certainly unjust.  Everybody believed that poor girl to be guilty;

and if she could have committed the crime for which she suffered,

assuredly she would have been the most depraved of human creatures.

For the sake of a few jewels, to have murdered the son of her benefactor

and friend, a child whom she had nursed from its birth, and appeared to

love as if it had been her own!  I could not consent to the death of any

human being, but certainly I should have thought such a creature unfit

to remain in the society of men.  But she was innocent.  I know,

I feel she was innocent; you are of the same opinion, and that confirms me.

Alas!  Victor, when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure

themselves of certain happiness?  I feel as if I were walking on the edge

of a precipice, towards which thousands are crowding and endeavouring

to plunge me into the abyss.  William and Justine were assassinated, and

the murderer escapes; he walks about the world free, and perhaps respected.

But even if I were condemned to suffer on the scaffold for the same crimes,

I would not change places with such a wretch."

 

I listened to this discourse with the extremest agony.  I, not in deed,

but in effect, was the true murderer.  Elizabeth read my anguish in my

countenance, and kindly taking my hand, said, "My dearest friend,

you must calm yourself.  These events have affected me,

God knows how deeply; but I am not so wretched as you are.

There is an expression of despair, and sometimes of revenge,

in your countenance that makes me tremble.  Dear Victor, banish

these dark passions.  Remember the friends around you, who centre all

their hopes in you.  Have we lost the power of rendering you happy?

Ah!  While we love, while we are true to each other, here in this

land of peace and beauty, your native country, we may reap every

tranquil blessing--what can disturb our peace?"

 

And could not such words from her whom I fondly prized before every

other gift of fortune suffice to chase away the fiend that lurked

in my heart?  Even as she spoke I drew near to her, as if in terror,

lest at that very moment the destroyer had been near to rob me of her.

 

Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor

of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe; the very accents of love

were ineffectual.  I was encompassed by a cloud which no beneficial

influence could penetrate.  The wounded deer dragging its fainting

limbs to some untrodden brake, there to gaze upon the arrow which

had pierced it, and to die, was but a type of me.

 

Sometimes I could cope with the sullen despair that overwhelmed me,

but sometimes the whirlwind passions of my soul drove me to seek,

by bodily exercise and by change of place, some relief from my

intolerable sensations.  It was during an access of this kind that

I suddenly left my home, and bending my steps towards the near

Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such

scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows.

My wanderings were directed towards the valley of Chamounix.

I had visited it frequently during my boyhood.  Six years had

passed since then:  _I_ was a wreck, but nought had changed in

those savage and enduring scenes.

 

I performed the first part of my journey on horseback.  I afterwards

hired a mule, as the more sure-footed and least liable to receive

injury on these rugged roads.  The weather was fine; it was about

the middle of the month of August, nearly two months after the

death of Justine, that miserable epoch from which I dated all my woe.

The weight upon my spirit was sensibly lightened as I plunged yet deeper

in the ravine of Arve.  The immense mountains and precipices that

overhung me on every side, the sound of the river raging among the rocks,

and the dashing of the waterfalls around spoke of a power mighty as

Omnipotence--and I ceased to fear or to bend before any being less

almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements,

here displayed in their most terrific guise.  Still, as I ascended higher,

the valley assumed a more magnificent and astonishing character.

Ruined castles hanging on the precipices of piny mountains,

the impetuous Arve, and cottages every here and there peeping

forth from among the trees formed a scene of singular beauty.

But it was augmented and rendered sublime by the mighty Alps,

whose white and shining pyramids and domes towered above all,

as belonging to another earth, the habitations of another race of beings.

 

I passed the bridge of Pelissier, where the ravine, which the river

forms, opened before me, and I began to ascend the mountain that

overhangs it.  Soon after, I entered the valley of Chamounix.

This valley is more wonderful and sublime, but not so beautiful and

picturesque as that of Servox, through which I had just passed.

The high and snowy mountains were its immediate boundaries, but I

saw no more ruined castles and fertile fields.  Immense glaciers

approached the road; I heard the rumbling thunder of the falling

avalanche and marked the smoke of its passage.  Mont Blanc, the

supreme and magnificent Mont Blanc, raised itself from the surrounding

aiguilles, and its tremendous dome overlooked the valley.

 

A tingling long-lost sense of pleasure often came across me during

this journey.  Some turn in the road, some new object suddenly

perceived and recognized, reminded me of days gone by, and were

associated with the lighthearted gaiety of boyhood.  The very winds

whispered in soothing accents, and maternal Nature bade me weep no more.

Then again the kindly influence ceased to act--I found myself fettered

again to grief and indulging in all the misery of reflection.

Then I spurred on my animal, striving so to forget the world,

my fears, and more than all, myself--or, in a more desperate fashion,

I alighted and threw myself on the grass, weighed down by horror and despair.

 

At length I arrived at the village of Chamounix.  Exhaustion

succeeded to the extreme fatigue both of body and of mind which I

had endured.  For a short space of time I remained at the window

watching the pallid lightnings that played above Mont Blanc and

listening to the rushing of the Arve, which pursued its noisy way

beneath.  The same lulling sounds acted as a lullaby to my too keen

sensations; when I placed my head upon my pillow, sleep crept over

me; I felt it as it came and blessed the giver of oblivion.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

 

I spent the following day roaming through the valley.  I stood

beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a

glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down from the summit of

the hills to barricade the valley.  The abrupt sides of vast

mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me;

a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence

of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial nature was broken

only by the brawling waves or the fall of some vast fragment, the

thunder sound of the avalanche or the cracking, reverberated along

the mountains, of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent

working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if

it had been but a plaything in their hands.  These sublime and

magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was

capable of receiving.  They elevated me from all littleness of

feeling, and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued

and tranquillized it.  In some degree, also, they diverted my mind

from the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month.

I retired to rest at night; my slumbers, as it were, waited on and

ministered to by the assemblance of grand shapes which I had

contemplated during the day.  They congregated round me; the

unstained snowy mountaintop, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods,

and ragged bare ravine, the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds--

they all gathered round me and bade me be at peace.

 

Where had they fled when the next morning I awoke?  All of soul-

inspiriting fled with sleep, and dark melancholy clouded every thought.

The rain was pouring in torrents, and thick mists hid the summits of

the mountains, so that I even saw not the faces of those mighty friends.

Still I would penetrate their misty veil and seek them in their

cloudy retreats.  What were rain and storm to me?  My mule was

brought to the door, and I resolved to ascend to the summit of Montanvert.

I remembered the effect that the view of the tremendous and ever-moving

glacier had produced upon my mind when I first saw it.  It had then

filled me with a sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul and

allowed it to soar from the obscure world to light and joy.

The sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always

the effect of solemnizing my mind and causing me to forget

the passing cares of life.  I determined to go without a guide,

for I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence of another

would destroy the solitary grandeur of the scene.

 

The ascent is precipitous, but the path is cut into continual and

short windings, which enable you to surmount the perpendicularity

of the mountain.  It is a scene terrifically desolate.  In a thousand

spots the traces of the winter avalanche may be perceived, where trees lie

broken and strewed on the ground, some entirely destroyed, others bent, leaning

upon the jutting rocks of the mountain or transversely upon other trees.

The path, as you ascend nigher, is intersected by ravines of snow,

down which stones continually roll from above; one of them is

particularly dangerous, as the slightest sound, such as even

speaking in a loud voice, produces a concussion of air sufficient

to draw destruction upon the head of the speaker.  The pines are

not tall or luxuriant, but they are sombre and add an air of severity

to the scene.  I looked on the valley beneath; vast mists were rising from

the rivers which ran through it and curling in thick wreaths around the

opposite mountains, whose summits were hid in the uniform clouds,

while rain poured from the dark sky and added to the melancholy

impression I received from the objects around me.  Alas!  Why does

man boast of sensibilities superior to those apparent in the brute;

it only renders them more necessary beings.  If our impulses were

confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly free;

but now we are moved by every wind that blows and a chance word

or scene that that word may convey to us.

 

 

 We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.

  We rise; one wand'ring thought pollutes the day.

 We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep,

  Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;

 It is the same:  for, be it joy or sorrow,

  The path of its departure still is free.

 Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;

  Nought may endure but mutability!

 

 

It was nearly noon when I arrived at the top of the ascent.

For some time I sat upon the rock that overlooks the sea of ice.

A mist covered both that and the surrounding mountains.  Presently

a breeze dissipated the cloud, and I descended upon the glacier.

The surface is very uneven, rising like the waves of a troubled sea,

descending low, and interspersed by rifts that sink deep.

The field of ice is almost a league in width, but I spent nearly

two hours in crossing it.  The opposite mountain is a bare

perpendicular rock.  From the side where I now stood Montanvert was

exactly opposite, at the distance of a league; and above it rose

Mont Blanc, in awful majesty.  I remained in a recess of the rock,

gazing on this wonderful and stupendous scene.  The sea, or rather

the vast river of ice, wound among its dependent mountains, whose

aerial summits hung over its recesses.  Their icy and glittering

peaks shone in the sunlight over the clouds.  My heart, which was

before sorrowful, now swelled with something like joy; I exclaimed,

"Wandering spirits, if indeed ye wander, and do not rest in your

narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, or take me, as your

companion, away from the joys of life."

 

As I said this I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some

distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed.  He bounded

over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution;

his stature, also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man.

I was troubled; a mist came over my eyes, and I felt a faintness

seize me, but I was quickly restored by the cold gale of the mountains.

I perceived, as the shape came nearer (sight tremendous and abhorred!)

that it was the wretch whom I had created.  I trembled with rage and horror,

resolving to wait his approach and then close with him in mortal combat.

He approached; his countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with

disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it

almost too horrible for human eyes.  But I scarcely observed this;

rage and hatred had at first deprived me of utterance, and I

recovered only to overwhelm him with words expressive of

furious detestation and contempt.

 

"Devil," I exclaimed, "do you dare approach me?  And do not you

fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head?

Begone, vile insect!  Or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust!

And, oh!  That I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence,

restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!"

 

"I expected this reception," said the daemon.  "All men hate the

wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all

living things!  Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy

creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the

annihilation of one of us.  You purpose to kill me.  How dare you

sport thus with life?  Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine

towards you and the rest of mankind.  If you will comply with my

conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse,

I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood

of your remaining friends."

 

"Abhorred monster!  Fiend that thou art!  The tortures of hell are

too mild a vengeance for thy crimes.  Wretched devil!  You reproach

me with your creation, come on, then, that I may extinguish the

spark which I so negligently bestowed."

 

My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the

feelings which can arm one being against the existence of another.

 

He easily eluded me and said,

 

"Be calm!  I entreat you to hear me before you give vent to your

hatred on my devoted head.  Have I not suffered enough, that you

seek to increase my misery?  Life, although it may only be an

accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.

Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height

is superior to thine, my joints more supple.  But I will not be

tempted to set myself in opposition to thee.  I am thy creature,

and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if

thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me.  Oh,

Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon

me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection,

is most due.  Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam,

but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.

Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded.

I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.  Make me happy,

and I shall again be virtuous."

 

"Begone!  I will not hear you.  There can be no community between

you and me; we are enemies.  Begone, or let us try our strength in

a fight, in which one must fall."

 

"How can I move thee?  Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a

favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and

compassion?  Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul

glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone?

You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow

creatures, who owe me nothing?  They spurn and hate me.  The desert

mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge.  I have wandered here

many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a

dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge.

These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your

fellow beings.  If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence,

they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction.

Shall I not then hate them who abhor me?  I will keep no terms with

my enemies.  I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness.

Yet it is in your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an

evil which it only remains for you to make so great, that not only

you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up

in the whirlwinds of its rage.  Let your compassion be moved,

and do not disdain me.  Listen to my tale; when you have heard that,

abandon or commiserate me, as you shall judge that I deserve.

But hear me.  The guilty are allowed, by human laws, bloody as

they are, to speak in their own defence before they are condemned.

Listen to me, Frankenstein.  You accuse me of murder, and yet you would,

with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature.  Oh, praise the

eternal justice of man!  Yet I ask you not to spare me; listen to me,

and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy the work of your hands."

 

"Why do you call to my remembrance," I rejoined, "circumstances of

which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin

and author?  Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first

saw light!  Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that

formed you!  You have made me wretched beyond expression.  You have

left me no power to consider whether I am just to you or not.

Begone!  Relieve me from the sight of your detested form."

 

"Thus I relieve thee, my creator," he said, and placed his hated

hands before my eyes, which I flung from me with violence; "thus I

take from thee a sight which you abhor.  Still thou canst listen to

me and grant me thy compassion.  By the virtues that I once possessed,

I demand this from you.  Hear my tale; it is long and strange,

and the temperature of this place is not fitting to your fine sensations;

come to the hut upon the mountain.  The sun is yet high in the heavens;

before it descends to hide itself behind your snowy precipices and

illuminate another world, you will have heard my story and can decide.

On you it rests, whether I quit forever the neighbourhood of man and

lead a harmless life, or become the scourge of your fellow creatures

and the author of your own speedy ruin."

 

As he said this he led the way across the ice; I followed.

My heart was full, and I did not answer him, but as I proceeded,

I weighed the various arguments that he had used and determined at

least to listen to his tale.  I was partly urged by curiosity,

and compassion confirmed my resolution.  I had hitherto supposed him

to be the murderer of my brother, and I eagerly sought a confirmation

or denial of this opinion.  For the first time, also, I felt what

the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought

to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness.  These

motives urged me to comply with his demand.  We crossed the ice,

therefore, and ascended the opposite rock.  The air was cold, and

the rain again began to descend; we entered the hut, the fiend with

an air of exultation, I with a heavy heart and depressed spirits.

But I consented to listen, and seating myself by the fire which my

odious companion had lighted, he thus began his tale.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 11

 

 

"It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original

era of my being; all the events of that period appear confused and

indistinct.  A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I

saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed,

a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations

of my various senses.  By degrees, I remember, a stronger light

pressed upon my nerves, so that I was obliged to shut my eyes.

Darkness then came over me and troubled me, but hardly had I felt

this when, by opening my eyes, as I now suppose, the light poured

in upon me again.  I walked and, I believe, descended, but I

presently found a great alteration in my sensations.  Before,

dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch

or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty,

with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid.

The light became more and more oppressive to me, and the heat

wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where I could receive shade.

This was the forest near Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side

of a brook resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by

hunger and thirst.  This roused me from my nearly dormant state,

and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees or

lying on the ground.  I slaked my thirst at the brook, and then

lying down, was overcome by sleep.

 

"It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and half frightened,

as it were, instinctively, finding myself so desolate.  Before I

had quitted your apartment, on a sensation of cold, I had covered

myself with some clothes, but these were insufficient to secure me

from the dews of night.  I was a poor, helpless, miserable wretch;

I knew, and could distinguish, nothing; but feeling pain invade me

on all sides, I sat down and wept.

 

"Soon a gentle light stole over the heavens and gave me a sensation

of pleasure.  I started up and beheld a radiant form rise from among

the trees.  [The moon]  I gazed with a kind of wonder.  It moved slowly,

but it enlightened my path, and I again went out in search of berries.

I was still cold when under one of the trees I found a huge cloak,

with which I covered myself, and sat down upon the ground.

No distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused.  I felt light,

and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears,

and on all sides various scents saluted me; the only object that I could

distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed my eyes on that with pleasure.

 

"Several changes of day and night passed, and the orb of night had

greatly lessened, when I began to distinguish my sensations from

each other.  I gradually saw plainly the clear stream that supplied

me with drink and the trees that shaded me with their foliage.

I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound,

which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little

winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes.

I began also to observe, with greater accuracy, the forms that

surrounded me and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant roof of

light which canopied me.  Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant

songs of the birds but was unable.  Sometimes I wished to express

my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate

sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again.

 

"The moon had disappeared from the night, and again, with a

lessened form, showed itself, while I still remained in the forest.

My sensations had by this time become distinct, and my mind received

every day additional ideas.  My eyes became accustomed to the light

and to perceive objects in their right forms; I distinguished

the insect from the herb, and by degrees, one herb from another.

I found that the sparrow uttered none but harsh notes, whilst those

of the blackbird and thrush were sweet and enticing.

 

"One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire which had been

left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at

the warmth I experienced from it.  In my joy I thrust my hand into

the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain.

How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such

opposite effects!  I examined the materials of the fire, and to

my joy found it to be composed of wood.  I quickly collected

some branches, but they were wet and would not burn.  I was

pained at this and sat still watching the operation of the fire.

The wet wood which I had placed near the heat dried and itself

became inflamed.  I reflected on this, and by touching the

various branches, I discovered the cause and busied myself in

collecting a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it and have

a plentiful supply of fire.  When night came on and brought sleep

with it, I was in the greatest fear lest my fire should be

extinguished.  I covered it carefully with dry wood and leaves and

placed wet branches upon it; and then, spreading my cloak, I lay on

the ground and sank into sleep.

 

"It was morning when I awoke, and my first care was to visit the fire.

I uncovered it, and a gentle breeze quickly fanned it into a flame.

I observed this also and contrived a fan of branches, which roused

the embers when they were nearly extinguished.  When night came

again I found, with pleasure, that the fire gave light as well

as heat and that the discovery of this element was useful to me

in my food, for I found some of the offals that the travellers

had left had been roasted, and tasted much more savoury than

the berries I gathered from the trees.  I tried, therefore,

to dress my food in the same manner, placing it on the live embers.

I found that the berries were spoiled by this operation, and the

nuts and roots much improved.

 

"Food, however, became scarce, and I often spent the whole day searching

in vain for a few acorns to assuage the pangs of hunger.  When I found this,

I resolved to quit the place that I had hitherto inhabited, to seek for

one where the few wants I experienced would be more easily satisfied.

In this emigration I exceedingly lamented the loss of the fire which I

had obtained through accident and knew not how to reproduce it.

I gave several hours to the serious consideration of this difficulty,

but I was obliged to relinquish all attempt to supply it, and wrapping

myself up in my cloak, I struck across the wood towards the setting sun.

I passed three days in these rambles and at length discovered the

open country.  A great fall of snow had taken place the night before,

and the fields were of one uniform white; the appearance was disconsolate,

and I found my feet chilled by the cold damp substance that covered the ground.

 

"It was about seven in the morning, and I longed to obtain food and shelter;

at length I perceived a small hut, on a rising ground, which had doubtless

been built for the convenience of some shepherd.  This was a new sight to me,

and I examined the structure with great curiosity.  Finding the door open,

I entered.  An old man sat in it, near a fire, over which he was preparing

his breakfast.  He turned on hearing a noise, and perceiving me,

shrieked loudly, and quitting the hut, ran across the fields with

a speed of which his debilitated form hardly appeared capable.

His appearance, different from any I had ever before seen,

and his flight somewhat surprised me.  But I was enchanted by the

appearance of the hut; here the snow and rain could not penetrate;

the ground was dry; and it presented to me then as exquisite and

divine a retreat as Pandemonium appeared to the demons of hell

after their sufferings in the lake of fire.  I greedily devoured

the remnants of the shepherd's breakfast, which consisted of bread,

cheese, milk, and wine; the latter, however, I did not like.  Then,

overcome by fatigue, I lay down among some straw and fell asleep.

 

"It was noon when I awoke, and allured by the warmth of the sun,

which shone brightly on the white ground, I determined to

recommence my travels; and, depositing the remains of the

peasant's breakfast in a wallet I found, I proceeded across the

fields for several hours, until at sunset I arrived at a village.

How miraculous did this appear!  The huts, the neater cottages, and

stately houses engaged my admiration by turns.  The vegetables in

the gardens, the milk and cheese that I saw placed at the windows

of some of the cottages, allured my appetite.  One of the best of

these I entered, but I had hardly placed my foot within the door

before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted.

The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until,

grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons,

I escaped to the open country and fearfully took refuge in a low hovel,

quite bare, and making a wretched appearance after the palaces I had

beheld in the village.  This hovel however, joined a cottage of a neat

and pleasant appearance, but after my late dearly bought experience,

I dared not enter it.  My place of refuge was constructed of wood,

but so low that I could with difficulty sit upright in it.  No wood,

however, was placed on the earth, which formed the floor, but it was dry;

and although the wind entered it by innumerable chinks, I found it an

agreeable asylum from the snow and rain.

 

"Here, then, I retreated and lay down happy to have found a shelter,

however miserable, from the inclemency of the season, and still more

from the barbarity of man.  As soon as morning dawned I crept from my kennel,

that I might view the adjacent cottage and discover if I could remain in the

habitation I had found.  It was situated against the back of the cottage

and surrounded on the sides which were exposed by a pig sty and a

clear pool of water.  One part was open, and by that I had crept in;

but now I covered every crevice by which I might be perceived with

stones and wood, yet in such a manner that I might move them

on occasion to pass out; all the light I enjoyed came through the sty,

and that was sufficient for me.

 

"Having thus arranged my dwelling and carpeted it with clean straw,

I retired, for I saw the figure of a man at a distance, and I

remembered too well my treatment the night before to trust myself

in his power.  I had first, however, provided for my sustenance for

that day by a loaf of coarse bread, which I purloined, and a cup

with which I could drink more conveniently than from my hand of the

pure water which flowed by my retreat.  The floor was a little raised,

so that it was kept perfectly dry, and by its vicinity to the chimney

of the cottage it was tolerably warm.

 

"Being thus provided, I resolved to reside in this hovel until

something should occur which might alter my determination.

It was indeed a paradise compared to the bleak forest, my former

residence, the rain-dropping branches, and dank earth.  I ate my

breakfast with pleasure and was about to remove a plank to

procure myself a little water when I heard a step, and looking

through a small chink, I beheld a young creature, with a pail on

her head, passing before my hovel.  The girl was young and of

gentle demeanour, unlike what I have since found cottagers and

farmhouse servants to be.  Yet she was meanly dressed, a coarse

blue petticoat and a linen jacket being her only garb; her fair

hair was plaited but not adorned:  she looked patient yet sad.

I lost sight of her, and in about a quarter of an hour she returned

bearing the pail, which was now partly filled with milk.  As she

walked along, seemingly incommoded by the burden, a young man met her,

whose countenance expressed a deeper despondence.  Uttering a few

sounds with an air of melancholy, he took the pail from her head and

bore it to the cottage himself.  She followed, and they disappeared.

Presently I saw the young man again, with some tools in his hand,

cross the field behind the cottage; and the girl was also busied,

sometimes in the house and sometimes in the yard.  "On examining

my dwelling, I found that one of the windows of the cottage had

formerly occupied a part of it, but the panes had been filled

up with wood.  In one of these was a small and almost

imperceptible chink through which the eye could just penetrate.

Through this crevice a small room was visible, whitewashed and

clean but very bare of furniture.  In one corner, near a small

fire, sat an old man, leaning his head on his hands in a

disconsolate attitude.  The young girl was occupied in arranging

the cottage; but presently she took something out of a drawer,

which employed her hands, and she sat down beside the old man,

who, taking up an instrument, began to play and to produce sounds

sweeter than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale.  It was a

lovely sight, even to me, poor wretch who had never beheld aught

beautiful before.  The silver hair and benevolent countenance of

the aged cottager won my reverence, while the gentle manners of

the girl enticed my love.  He played a sweet mournful air which

I perceived drew tears from the eyes of his amiable companion,

of which the old man took no notice, until she sobbed audibly; he then

pronounced a few sounds, and the fair creature, leaving her work,

knelt at his feet.  He raised her and smiled with such kindness and

affection that I felt sensations of a peculiar and overpowering nature;

they were a mixture of pain and pleasure, such as I had never before

experienced, either from hunger or cold, warmth or food; and I withdrew

from the window, unable to bear these emotions.

 

"Soon after this the young man returned, bearing on his shoulders

a load of wood.  The girl met him at the door, helped to relieve

him of his burden, and taking some of the fuel into the cottage,

placed it on the fire; then she and the youth went apart into a nook

of the cottage, and he showed her a large loaf and a piece of cheese.

She seemed pleased and went into the garden for some roots and plants,

which she placed in water, and then upon the fire.  She afterwards

continued her work, whilst the young man went into the garden

and appeared busily employed in digging and pulling up roots.

After he had been employed thus about an hour, the young woman

joined him and they entered the cottage together.

 

"The old man had, in the meantime, been pensive, but on the

appearance of his companions he assumed a more cheerful air,

and they sat down to eat.  The meal was quickly dispatched.

The young woman was again occupied in arranging the cottage,

the old man walked before the cottage in the sun for a few minutes,

leaning on the arm of the youth.  Nothing could exceed in beauty

the contrast between these two excellent creatures.  One was old,

with silver hairs and a countenance beaming with benevolence and love;

the younger was slight and graceful in his figure, and his features

were moulded with the finest symmetry, yet his eyes and attitude

expressed the utmost sadness and despondency.  The old man returned

to the cottage, and the youth, with tools different from those he

had used in the morning, directed his steps across the fields.

 

"Night quickly shut in, but to my extreme wonder, I found that

the cottagers had a means of prolonging light by the use of tapers,

and was delighted to find that the setting of the sun did not put an

end to the pleasure I experienced in watching my human neighbours.

In the evening the young girl and her companion were employed in

various occupations which I did not understand; and the old man

again took up the instrument which produced the divine sounds that

had enchanted me in the morning.  So soon as he had finished, the

youth began, not to play, but to utter sounds that were monotonous,

and neither resembling the harmony of the old man's instrument nor

the songs of the birds; I since found that he read aloud, but at

that time I knew nothing of the science of words or letters.

 

"The family, after having been thus occupied for a short time,

extinguished their lights and retired, as I conjectured, to rest."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 12

 

 

"I lay on my straw, but I could not sleep.  I thought of the

occurrences of the day.  What chiefly struck me was the gentle

manners of these people, and I longed to join them, but dared not.

I remembered too well the treatment I had suffered the night before

from the barbarous villagers, and resolved, whatever course of

conduct I might hereafter think it right to pursue, that for

the present I would remain quietly in my hovel, watching and

endeavouring to discover the motives which influenced their actions.

 

"The cottagers arose the next morning before the sun.  The young

woman arranged the cottage and prepared the food, and the youth

departed after the first meal.

 

"This day was passed in the same routine as that which preceded it.

The young man was constantly employed out of doors, and the girl in

various laborious occupations within.  The old man, whom I soon

perceived to be blind, employed his leisure hours on his instrument

or in contemplation.  Nothing could exceed the love and respect which

the younger cottagers exhibited towards their venerable companion.

They performed towards him every little office of affection and

duty with gentleness, and he rewarded them by his benevolent smiles.

 

"They were not entirely happy.  The young man and his companion

often went apart and appeared to weep.  I saw no cause for their

unhappiness, but I was deeply affected by it.  If such lovely

creatures were miserable, it was less strange that I, an imperfect

and solitary being, should be wretched.  Yet why were these

gentle beings unhappy?  They possessed a delightful house

(for such it was in my eyes) and every luxury; they had a fire to

warm them when chill and delicious viands when hungry; they were

dressed in excellent clothes; and, still more, they enjoyed one

another's company and speech, interchanging each day looks of

affection and kindness.  What did their tears imply?  Did they

really express pain?  I was at first unable to solve these

questions, but perpetual attention and time explained to me many

appearances which were at first enigmatic.

 

"A considerable period elapsed before I discovered one of the

causes of the uneasiness of this amiable family:  it was poverty,

and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree.  Their

nourishment consisted entirely of the vegetables of their garden

and the milk of one cow, which gave very little during the winter,

when its masters could scarcely procure food to support it.  They

often, I believe, suffered the pangs of hunger very poignantly,

especially the two younger cottagers, for several times they placed

food before the old man when they reserved none for themselves.

 

"This trait of kindness moved me sensibly.  I had been accustomed,

during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption,

but when I found that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers,

I abstained and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots which

I gathered from a neighbouring wood.

 

"I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to

assist their labours.  I found that the youth spent a great part of

each day in collecting wood for the family fire, and during the

night I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered,

and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days.

 

"I remember, the first time that I did this, the young woman,

when she opened the door in the morning, appeared greatly

astonished on seeing a great pile of wood on the outside.

She uttered some words in a loud voice, and the youth joined her,

who also expressed surprise.  I observed, with pleasure, that he

did not go to the forest that day, but spent it in repairing the

cottage and cultivating the garden.

 

"By degrees I made a discovery of still greater moment.  I found

that these people possessed a method of communicating their

experience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds.

I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or

pain, smiles or sadness,in the minds and countenances of the hearers.

This was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently desired to become

acquainted with it.  But I was baffled in every attempt I made for

this purpose.  Their pronunciation was quick, and the words they uttered,

not having any apparent connection with visible objects, I was unable

to discover any clue by which I could unravel the mystery of their reference.

By great application, however, and after having remained during the space

of several revolutions of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the names that

were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse; I learned and

applied the words, `fire,' `milk,' `bread,' and `wood.'  I learned also the

names of the cottagers themselves.  The youth and his companion had each

of them several names, but the old man had only one, which was `father.'

The girl was called `sister' or `Agatha,' and the youth `Felix,' `brother,'

or `son.'  I cannot describe the delight I felt when I learned the ideas

appropriated to each of these sounds and was able to pronounce them.

I distinguished several other words without being able as yet to understand

or apply them, such as `good,' `dearest,' `unhappy.'

 

"I spent the winter in this manner.  The gentle manners and beauty

of the cottagers greatly endeared them to me; when they were unhappy,

I felt depressed; when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their joys.

I saw few human beings besides them, and if any other happened to

enter the cottage, their harsh manners and rude gait only enhanced

to me the superior accomplishments of my friends.  The old man,

I could perceive, often endeavoured to encourage his children,

as sometimes I found that he called them, to cast off their melancholy.

He would talk in a cheerful accent, with an expression of goodness

that bestowed pleasure even upon me.  Agatha listened with respect,

her eyes sometimes filled with tears, which she endeavoured to wipe away

unperceived; but I generally found that her countenance and tone were

more cheerful after having listened to the exhortations of her father.

It was not thus with Felix.  He was always the saddest of the group,

and even to my unpractised senses, he appeared to have suffered more

deeply than his friends.  But if his countenance was more sorrowful,

his voice was more cheerful than that of his sister, especially when

he addressed the old man.

 

"I could mention innumerable instances which, although slight,

marked the dispositions of these amiable cottagers.  In the midst

of poverty and want, Felix carried with pleasure to his sister the

first little white flower that peeped out from beneath the snowy ground.

Early in the morning, before she had risen, he cleared away the snow

that obstructed her path to the milk-house, drew water from the well,

and brought the wood from the outhouse, where, to his perpetual astonishment,

he found his store always replenished by an invisible hand.  In the day,

I believe, he worked sometimes for a neighbouring farmer, because he often

went forth and did not return until dinner, yet brought no wood with him.

At other times he worked in the garden, but as there was little to do

in the frosty season, he read to the old man and Agatha.

 

"This reading had puzzled me extremely at first, but by degrees I

discovered that he uttered many of the same sounds when he read as

when he talked.  I conjectured, therefore, that he found on the

paper signs for speech which he understood, and I ardently

longed to comprehend these also; but how was that possible when I

did not even understand the sounds for which they stood as signs?

I improved, however, sensibly in this science, but not

sufficiently to follow up any kind of conversation, although I

applied my whole mind to the endeavour, for I easily perceived that,

although I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers,

I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master

of their language, which knowledge might enable me to make them

overlook the deformity of my figure, for with this also the

contrast perpetually presented to my eyes had made me acquainted.

 

"I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers--their grace,

beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified when I

viewed myself in a transparent pool!  At first I started back,

unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the

mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the

monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of

despondence and mortification.  Alas!  I did not yet entirely know

the fatal effects of this miserable deformity.

 

"As the sun became warmer and the light of day longer, the

snow vanished, and I beheld the bare trees and the black earth.

From this time Felix was more employed, and the heart-moving

indications of impending famine disappeared.  Their food, as I

afterwards found, was coarse, but it was wholesome; and they

procured a sufficiency of it.  Several new kinds of plants sprang

up in the garden, which they dressed; and these signs of comfort

increased daily as the season advanced.

 

"The old man, leaning on his son, walked each day at noon, when it

did not rain, as I found it was called when the heavens poured

forth its waters.  This frequently took place, but a high wind

quickly dried the earth, and the season became far more pleasant

than it had been.

 

"My mode of life in my hovel was uniform.  During the morning

I attended the motions of the cottagers, and when they were

dispersed in various occupations, I slept; the remainder of the day

was spent in observing my friends.  When they had retired to rest,

if there was any moon or the night was star-light, I went into

the woods and collected my own food and fuel for the cottage.

When I returned, as often as it was necessary, I cleared their path

from the snow and performed those offices that I had seen done by Felix.

I afterwards found that these labours, performed by an invisible hand,

greatly astonished them; and once or twice I heard them, on these occasions,

utter the words `good spirit,' `wonderful'; but I did not then understand

the signification of these terms.

 

"My thoughts now became more active, and I longed to discover the

motives and feelings of these lovely creatures; I was inquisitive

to know why Felix appeared so miserable and Agatha so sad.

I thought (foolish wretch!) that it might be in my power to restore

happiness to these deserving people.  When I slept or was absent,

the forms of the venerable blind father, the gentle Agatha, and the

excellent Felix flitted before me.  I looked upon them as superior

beings who would be the arbiters of my future destiny.  I formed in

my imagination a thousand pictures of presenting myself to them,

and their reception of me.  I imagined that they would be disgusted,

until, by my gentle demeanour and onciliating words, I should first

win their favour and afterwards their love.

 

"These thoughts exhilarated me and led me to apply with fresh ardour

to the acquiring the art of language.  My organs were indeed harsh,

but supple; and although my voice was very unlike the soft music of their

tones, yet I pronounced such words as I understood with tolerable ease.

It was as the ass and the lap-dog; yet surely the gentle ass whose

intentions were affectionate, although his manners were rude,

deserved better treatment than blows and execration.

 

"The pleasant showers and genial warmth of spring greatly altered

the aspect of the earth.  Men who before this change seemed to have

been hid in caves dispersed themselves and were employed in various

arts of cultivation.  The birds sang in more cheerful notes, and

the leaves began to bud forth on the trees.  Happy, happy earth!

Fit habitation for gods, which, so short a time before, was bleak,

damp, and unwholesome.  My spirits were elevated by the enchanting

appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, the present

was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope and

anticipations of joy."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

 

"I now hasten to the more moving part of my story.  I shall relate

events that impressed me with feelings which, from what I had been,

have made me what I am.

 

"Spring advanced rapidly; the weather became fine and the skies cloudless.

It surprised me that what before was desert and gloomy should now bloom

with the most beautiful flowers and verdure.  My senses were gratified and

refreshed by a thousand scents of delight and a thousand sights of beauty.

 

"It was on one of these days, when my cottagers periodically rested

from labour--the old man played on his guitar, and the children

listened to him--that I observed the countenance of Felix was

melancholy beyond expression; he sighed frequently, and once his

father paused in his music, and I conjectured by his manner that he

inquired the cause of his son's sorrow.  Felix replied in a

cheerful accent, and the old man was recommencing his music when

someone tapped at the door.

 

"It was a lady on horseback, accompanied by a country-man as a guide.

The lady was dressed in a dark suit and covered with a thick black veil.

Agatha asked a question, to which the stranger only replied by pronouncing,

in a sweet accent, the name of Felix.  Her voice was musical but unlike

that of either of my friends.  On hearing this word, Felix came up hastily

to the lady, who, when she saw him, threw up her veil, and I beheld a

countenance of angelic beauty and expression.  Her hair of a shining

raven black, and curiously braided; her eyes were dark, but gentle,

although animated; her features of a regular proportion, and her

complexion wondrously fair, each cheek tinged with a lovely pink.

 

"Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, every trait of

sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantly expressed a degree

of ecstatic joy, of which I could hardly have believed it capable;

his eyes sparkled, as his cheek flushed with pleasure; and at that

moment I thought him as beautiful as the stranger.  She appeared

affected by different feelings; wiping a few tears from her lovely

eyes, she held out her hand to Felix, who kissed it rapturously

and called her, as well as I could distinguish, his sweet Arabian.

She did not appear to understand him, but smiled.  He assisted her

to dismount, and dismissing her guide, conducted her into the cottage.

Some conversation took place between him and his father, and the

young stranger knelt at the old man's feet and would have kissed

his hand, but he raised her and embraced her affectionately.

 

"I soon perceived that although the stranger uttered articulate

sounds and appeared to have a language of her own, she was

neither understood by nor herself understood the cottagers.

They made many signs which I did not comprehend, but I saw that

her presence diffused gladness through the cottage, dispelling their

sorrow as the sun dissipates the morning mists.  Felix seemed

peculiarly happy and with smiles of delight welcomed his Arabian.

Agatha, the ever-gentle Agatha, kissed the hands of the lovely stranger,

and pointing to her brother, made signs which appeared to me to mean

that he had been sorrowful until she came.  Some hours passed thus,

while they, by their countenances, expressed joy, the cause of

which I did not comprehend.  Presently I found, by the frequent

recurrence of some sound which the stranger repeated after them,

that she was endeavouring to learn their language; and the idea

instantly occurred to me that I should make use of the same

instructions to the same end.  The stranger learned about twenty

words at the first lesson; most of them, indeed, were those which

I had before understood, but I profited by the others.

 

"As night came on, Agatha and the Arabian retired early.  When they

separated Felix kissed the hand of the stranger and said, `Good

night sweet Safie.'  He sat up much longer, conversing with his

father, and by the frequent repetition of her name I conjectured

that their lovely guest was the subject of their conversation.

I ardently desired to understand them, and bent every faculty

towards that purpose, but found it utterly impossible.

 

"The next morning Felix went out to his work, and after the usual

occupations of Agatha were finished, the Arabian sat at the feet

of the old man, and taking his guitar, played some airs so

entrancingly beautiful that they at once drew tears of sorrow and

delight from my eyes.  She sang, and her voice flowed in a rich

cadence, swelling or dying away like a nightingale of the woods.

 

"When she had finished, she gave the guitar to Agatha, who at first

declined it.  She played a simple air, and her voice accompanied it

in sweet accents, but unlike the wondrous strain of the stranger.

The old man appeared enraptured and said some words which Agatha

endeavoured to explain to Safie, and by which he appeared to wish

to express that she bestowed on him the greatest delight by her music.

 

"The days now passed as peaceably as before, with the sole alteration

that joy had taken place of sadness in the countenances of my friends.

Safie was always gay and happy; she and I improved rapidly in the

knowledge of language, so that in two months I began to comprehend

most of the words uttered by my protectors.

 

"In the meanwhile also the black ground was covered with herbage,

and the green banks interspersed with innumerable flowers, sweet to the

scent and the eyes, stars of pale radiance among the moonlight woods;

the sun became warmer, the nights clear and balmy; and my nocturnal

rambles were an extreme pleasure to me, although they were considerably

shortened by the late setting and early rising of the sun, for I never

ventured abroad during daylight, fearful of meeting with the same

treatment I had formerly endured in the first village which I entered.

 

"My days were spent in close attention, that I might more speedily

master the language; and I may boast that I improved more rapidly

than the Arabian, who understood very little and conversed in

broken accents, whilst I comprehended and could imitate almost

every word that was spoken.

 

"While I improved in speech, I also learned the science of letters

as it was taught to the stranger, and this opened before me a wide

field for wonder and delight.

 

"The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney's Ruins of

Empires.  I should not have understood the purport of this book had

not Felix, in reading it, given very minute explanations.  He had

chosen this work, he said, because the declamatory style was framed

in imitation of the Eastern authors.  Through this work I obtained

a cursory knowledge of history and a view of the several empires

at present existing in the world; it gave me an insight into the

manners, governments, and religions of the different nations of

the earth.  I heard of the slothful Asiatics, of the stupendous genius

and mental activity of the Grecians, of the wars and wonderful virtue

of the early Romans--of their subsequent degenerating--of the decline

of that mighty empire, of chivalry, Christianity, and kings.

I heard of the discovery of the American hemisphere and wept

with Safie over the hapless fate of its original inhabitants.

 

"These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings.

Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent,

yet so vicious and base?  He appeared at one time a mere scion of the

evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble

and godlike.  To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest

honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious,

as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a

condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm.

For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to

murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments;

but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased

and I turned away with disgust and loathing.

 

"Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new wonders to me.

While I listened to the instructions which Felix bestowed upon the

Arabian, the strange system of human society was explained to me.

I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid

poverty, of rank, descent, and noble blood.

 

"The words induced me to turn towards myself.  I learned that the

possessions most esteemed by your fellow creatures were high and

unsullied descent united with riches.  A man might be respected

with only one of these advantages, but without either he was

considered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave,

doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few!

And what was I?  Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant,

but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property.

I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome;

I was not even of the same nature as man.  I was more agile than they

and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and

cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs.

When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me.  Was I, then,

a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom

all men disowned?

 

"I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections

inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only

increased with knowledge.  Oh, that I had forever remained in

my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger,

thirst, and heat!

 

"Of what a strange nature is knowledge!  It clings to the mind when

it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock.  I wished

sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that

there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and

that was death--a state which I feared yet did not understand.

I admired virtue and good feelings and loved the gentle manners and

amiable qualities of my cottagers, but I was shut out from intercourse

with them, except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I was

unseen and unknown, and which rather increased than satisfied the desire

I had of becoming one among my fellows.  The gentle words of Agatha

and  the animated smiles of the charming Arabian were not for me.

The mild exhortations of the old man and the lively conversation of

the loved Felix were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch!

 

"Other lessons were impressed upon me even more deeply.  I heard

of the difference of sexes, and the birth and growth of children,

how the father doted on the smiles of the infant, and the lively

sallies of the older child, how all the life and cares of the

mother were wrapped up in the precious charge, how the mind of

youth expanded and gained knowledge, of brother, sister, and all

the various relationships which bind one human being to another

in mutual bonds.

 

"But where were my friends and relations?  No father had watched my

infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses;

or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy

in which I distinguished nothing.  From my earliest remembrance

I had been as I then was in height and proportion.  I had never yet

seen a being resembling me or who claimed any intercourse with me.

What was I?  The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans.

 

"I will soon explain to what these feelings tended, but allow

me now to return to the cottagers, whose story excited in me such

various feelings of indignation, delight, and wonder, but which all

terminated in additional love and reverence for my protectors

(for so I loved, in an innocent, half-painful self-deceit, to call them)."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14

 

 

"Some time elapsed before I learned the history of my friends.

It was one which could not fail to impress itself deeply on my mind,

unfolding as it did a number of circumstances, each interesting and

wonderful to one so utterly inexperienced as I was.

 

"The name of the old man was De Lacey.  He was descended from a good

family in France, where he had lived for many years in affluence,

respected by his superiors and beloved by his equals.  His son was

bred in the service of his country, and Agatha had ranked with ladies

of the highest distinction.  A few months before my arrival they had

lived in a large and luxurious city called Paris, surrounded by friends

and possessed of every enjoyment which virtue, refinement of intellect,

or taste, accompanied by a moderate fortune, could afford.

 

"The father of Safie had been the cause of their ruin.  He was a

Turkish merchant and had inhabited Paris for many years, when,

for some reason which I could not learn, he became obnoxious to

the government.  He was seized and cast into prison the very day

that Safie arrived from Constantinople to join him.  He was tried

and condemned to death.  The injustice of his sentence was very flagrant;

all Paris was indignant; and it was judged that his religion and wealth

rather than the crime alleged against him had been the cause of his

condemnation.

 

"Felix had accidentally been present at the trial; his horror and

indignation were uncontrollable when he heard the decision of the court.

He made, at that moment, a solemn vow to deliver him and then looked

around for the means.  After many fruitless attempts to gain admittance

to the prison, he found a strongly grated window in an unguarded part of

the building, which lighted the dungeon of the unfortunate Muhammadan, who,

loaded with chains, waited in despair the execution of the barbarous sentence.

Felix visited the grate at night and made known to the prisoner his intentions

in his favour.  The Turk, amazed and delighted, endeavoured to kindle the zeal

of his deliverer by promises of reward and wealth.  Felix rejected his offers

with contempt, yet when he saw the lovely Safie, who was allowed to visit her

father and who by her gestures expressed her lively gratitude, the youth could

not help owning to his own mind that the captive possessed a treasure which

would fully reward his toil and hazard.

 

"The Turk quickly perceived the impression that his daughter had

made on the heart of Felix and endeavoured to secure him more

entirely in his interests by the promise of her hand in marriage so

soon as he should be conveyed to a place of safety.  Felix was too

delicate to accept this offer, yet he looked forward to the

probability of the event as to the consummation of his happiness.

 

"During the ensuing days, while the preparations were going forward

for the escape of the merchant, the zeal of Felix was warmed by

several letters that he received from this lovely girl, who found

means to express her thoughts in the language of her lover by the

aid of an old man, a servant of her father who understood French.

She thanked him in the most ardent terms for his intended services

towards her parent, and at the same time she gently deplored her own fate.

 

"I have copies of these letters, for I found means, during my

residence in the hovel, to procure the implements of writing;

and the letters were often in the hands of Felix or Agatha.

Before I depart I will give them to you; they will prove the truth

of my tale; but at present, as the sun is already far declined,

I shall only have time to repeat the substance of them to you.

 

"Safie related that her mother was a Christian Arab, seized and

made a slave by the Turks; recommended by her beauty, she had won

the heart of the father of Safie, who married her.  The young girl

spoke in high and enthusiastic terms of her mother, who, born

in freedom, spurned the bondage to which she was now reduced.

She instructed her daughter in the tenets of her religion and

taught her to aspire to higher powers of intellect and an

independence of spirit forbidden to the female followers of Muhammad.

This lady died, but her lessons were indelibly impressed on the mind

of Safie, who sickened at the prospect of again returning to Asia and

being immured within the walls of a harem, allowed only to occupy

herself with infantile amusements, ill-suited to the temper of her soul,

now accustomed to grand ideas and a noble emulation for virtue.

The prospect of marrying a Christian and remaining in a country where

women were allowed to take a rank in society was enchanting to her.

 

"The day for the execution of the Turk was fixed, but on the night

previous to it he quitted his prison and before morning was distant

many leagues from Paris.  Felix had procured passports in the name

of his father, sister, and himself.  He had previously communicated

his plan to the former, who aided the deceit by quitting his house,

under the pretence of a journey and concealed himself, with his daughter,

in an obscure part of Paris.

 

"Felix conducted the fugitives through France to Lyons and across

Mont Cenis to Leghorn, where the merchant had decided to wait a

favourable opportunity of passing into some part of the Turkish dominions.

 

"Safie resolved to remain with her father until the moment of his departure,

before which time the Turk renewed his promise that she should be united

to his deliverer; and Felix remained with them in expectation of that event;

and in the meantime he enjoyed the society of the Arabian, who exhibited

towards him the simplest and tenderest affection.  They conversed with

one another through the means of an interpreter, and sometimes with the

interpretation of looks; and Safie sang to him the divine airs of

her native country.

 

"The Turk allowed this intimacy to take place and encouraged the hopes

of the youthful lovers, while in his heart he had formed far other plans.

He loathed the idea that his daughter should be united to a Christian,

but he feared the resentment of Felix if he should appear lukewarm,

for he knew that he was still in the power of his deliverer if he

should choose to betray him to the Italian state which they inhabited.

He revolved a thousand plans by which he should be enabled to prolong

the deceit until it might be no longer necessary, and secretly to take

his daughter with him when he departed.  His plans were facilitated

by the news which arrived from Paris.

 

"The government of France were greatly enraged at the escape of

their victim and spared no pains to detect and punish his deliverer.

The plot of Felix was quickly discovered, and De Lacey and Agatha

were thrown into prison.  The news reached Felix and roused him

from his dream of pleasure.  His blind and aged father and his

gentle sister lay in a noisome dungeon while he enjoyed the free air

and the society of her whom he loved.  This idea was torture to him.

He quickly arranged with the Turk that if the latter should find a

favourable opportunity for escape before Felix could return to Italy,

Safie should remain as a boarder at a convent at Leghorn; and then,

quitting the lovely Arabian, he hastened to Paris and delivered

himself up to the vengeance of the law, hoping to free De Lacey and

Agatha by this proceeding.  "He did not succeed.  They remained confined

for five months before the trial took place, the result of which deprived

them of their fortune and condemned them to a perpetual exile from their

native country.

 

"They found a miserable asylum in the cottage in Germany, where I

discovered them.  Felix soon learned that the treacherous Turk,

for whom he and his family endured such unheard-of oppression,

on discovering that his deliverer was thus reduced to poverty and ruin,

became a traitor to good feeling and honour and had quitted Italy

with his daughter, insultingly sending Felix a pittance of money

to aid him, as he said, in some plan of future maintenance.

 

"Such were the events that preyed on the heart of Felix and rendered him,

when I first saw him, the most miserable of his family.  He could have

endured poverty, and while this distress had been the meed of his virtue,

he gloried in it; but the ingratitude of the Turk and the loss of

his beloved Safie were misfortunes more bitter and irreparable.

The arrival of the Arabian now infused new life into his soul.

 

"When the news reached Leghorn that Felix was deprived of his

wealth and rank, the merchant commanded his daughter to think no

more of her lover, but to prepare to return to her native country.

The generous nature of Safie was outraged by this command;

she attempted to expostulate with her father, but he left her angrily,

reiterating his tyrannical mandate.

 

"A few days after, the Turk entered his daughter's apartment and

told her hastily that he had reason to believe that his residence

at Leghorn had been divulged and that he should speedily be delivered

up to the French government; he had consequently hired a vessel to

convey him to Constantinople, for which city he should sail in a few hours.

He intended to leave his daughter under the care of a confidential servant,

to follow at her leisure with the greater part of his property,

which had not yet arrived at Leghorn.

 

"When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of conduct

that it would become her to pursue in this emergency.  A residence

in Turkey was abhorrent to her; her religion and her feelings were

alike averse to it.  By some papers of her father which fell into

her hands she heard of the exile of her lover and learnt the name

of the spot where he then resided.  She hesitated some time,

but at length she formed her determination.  Taking with her

some jewels that belonged to her and a sum of money, she quitted

Italy with an attendant, a native of Leghorn, but who understood

the common language of Turkey, and departed for Germany.

 

"She arrived in safety at a town about twenty leagues from the

cottage of De Lacey, when her attendant fell dangerously ill.

Safie nursed her with the most devoted affection, but the poor girl died,

and the Arabian was left alone, unacquainted with the language of

the country and utterly ignorant of the customs of the world.

She fell, however, into good hands.  The Italian had mentioned

the name of the spot for which they were bound, and after her

death the woman of the house in which they had lived took care

that Safie should arrive in safety at the cottage of her lover."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15

 

 

"Such was the history of my beloved cottagers.  It impressed me deeply.

I learned, from the views of social life which it developed,

to admire their virtues and to deprecate the vices of mankind.

 

"As yet I looked upon crime as a distant evil, benevolence and

generosity were ever present before me, inciting within me a desire

to become an actor in the busy scene where so many admirable qualities

were called forth and displayed.  But in giving an account of the progress

of my intellect, I must not omit a circumstance which occurred in the

beginning of the month of August of the same year.

 

"One night during my accustomed visit to the neighbouring wood

where I collected my own food and brought home firing for my protectors,

I found on the ground a leathern portmanteau containing several articles

of dress and some books.  I eagerly seized the prize and returned with it

to my hovel.  Fortunately the books were written in the language,

the elements of which I had acquired at the cottage; they consisted

of Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch's Lives, and the Sorrows of Werter.

The possession of these treasures gave me extreme delight; I now continually

studied and exercised my mind upon these histories, whilst my friends were

employed in their ordinary occupations.

 

"I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books.

They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings,

that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently sunk me

into the lowest dejection.  In the Sorrows of Werter, besides the

interest of its simple and affecting story, so many opinions are

canvassed and so many lights thrown upon what had hitherto been to

me obscure subjects that I found in it a never-ending source of

speculation and astonishment.  The gentle and domestic manners it

described, combined with lofty sentiments and feelings, which had

for their object something out of self, accorded well with my

experience among my protectors and with the wants which were

forever alive in my own bosom.  But I thought Werter himself

a more divine being than I had ever beheld or imagined;

his character contained no pretension, but it sank deep.

The disquisitions upon death and suicide were calculated

to fill  me with wonder.  I did not pretend to enter into

the merits of the case, yet I inclined towards the opinions

of the hero, whose extinction I wept, without precisely

understanding it.

 

"As I read, however, I applied much personally to my own feelings

and condition.  I found myself similar yet at the same time strangely

unlike to the beings concerning whom I read and to whose conversation

I was a listener.  I sympathized with and partly understood them,

but I was unformed in mind; I was dependent on none and related to none.

"The path of my departure was free," and there was none to lament

my annihilation.  My person was hideous and my stature gigantic.

What did this mean?  Who was I?  What was I?  Whence did I come?

What was my destination?  These questions continually recurred,

but I was unable to solve them.

 

"The volume of Plutarch's Lives which I possessed contained

the histories of the first founders of the ancient republics.

This book had a far different effect upon me from the Sorrows of Werter.

I learned from Werter's imaginations despondency and gloom, but Plutarch

taught me high thoughts; he elevated me above the wretched sphere of

my own reflections, to admire and love the heroes of past ages.

Many things I read surpassed my understanding and experience.

I had a very confused knowledge of kingdoms, wide extents of country,

mighty rivers, and boundless seas.  But I was perfectly unacquainted

with towns and large assemblages of men. The cottage of my protectors

had been the only school in which I had studied human nature, but this

book developed new and mightier scenes of action.  I read of men

concerned in public affairs, governing or massacring their species.

I felt the greatest ardour for virtue rise within me, and abhorrence

for vice, as far as I understood the signification of those terms,

relative as they were, as I applied them, to pleasure and pain alone.

Induced by these feelings, I was of course led to admire peaceable lawgivers,

Numa, Solon, and Lycurgus, in preference to Romulus and Theseus.

The patriarchal lives of my protectors caused these impressions to

take a firm hold on my mind; perhaps, if my first introduction to

humanity had been made by a young soldier, burning for glory and

slaughter, I should have been imbued with different sensations.

 

"But Paradise Lost excited different and far deeper emotions.

I read it, as I had read the other volumes which had fallen into my hands,

as a true history.  It moved every feeling of wonder and awe that the picture

of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting.

I often referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me,

to my own.  Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other

being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every

other respect.  He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature,

happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator;

he was allowed to converse with and acquire knowledge from beings

of a superior nature, but I was wretched, helpless, and alone.

Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition,

for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors,

the bitter gall of envy rose within me.

 

"Another circumstance strengthened and confirmed these feelings.

Soon after my arrival in the hovel I discovered some papers in the

pocket of the dress which I had taken from your laboratory.  At first

I had neglected them, but now that I was able to decipher the characters

in which they were written, I began to study them with diligence.

It was your journal of the four months that preceded my creation.

You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the

progress of your work; this history was mingled with accounts of

domestic occurrences.  You doubtless recollect these papers.

Here they are.  Everything is related in them which bears

reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail of that series

of disgusting circumstances which produced it is set in view;

the minutest description of my odious and loathsome person is given,

in language which painted your own horrors and rendered mine indelible.

I sickened as I read.  `Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed

in agony.  `Accursed creator!  Why did you form a monster so hideous

that even YOU turned from me in disgust?  God, in pity, made man

beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a

filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance.

Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him,

but I am solitary and abhorred.'

 

"These were the reflections of my hours of despondency and solitude;

but when I contemplated the virtues of the cottagers, their amiable

and benevolent dispositions, I persuaded myself that when they

should become acquainted with my admiration of their virtues

they  would compassionate me and overlook my personal deformity.

Could they turn from their door one, however monstrous,

who solicited their compassion and friendship?  I resolved,

at least, not to despair, but in every way to fit myself for an

interview with them which would decide my fate.  I postponed this

attempt for some months longer, for the importance attached to its

success inspired me with a dread lest I should fail.  Besides, I

found that my understanding improved so much with every day's

experience that I was unwilling to commence this undertaking until

a few more months should have added to my sagacity.

 

"Several changes, in the meantime, took place in the cottage.

The presence of Safie diffused happiness among its inhabitants,

and I also found that a greater degree of plenty reigned there.

Felix and Agatha spent more time in amusement and conversation,

and were assisted in their labours by servants.  They did not

appear rich, but they were contented and happy; their feelings

were serene and peaceful, while mine became every day more tumultuous.

Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly what a wretched

outcast I was.  I cherished hope, it is true, but it vanished when

I beheld my person reflected in water or my shadow in the moonshine,

even as that frail image and that inconstant shade.

 

"I endeavoured to crush these fears and to fortify myself for the

trial which in a few months I resolved to undergo; and sometimes I

allowed my thoughts, unchecked by reason, to ramble in the fields

of Paradise, and dared to fancy amiable and lovely creatures

sympathizing with my feelings and cheering my gloom; their angelic

countenances breathed smiles of consolation.  But it was all a dream;

no Eve soothed my sorrows nor shared my thoughts; I was alone.

I remembered Adam's supplication to his Creator.  But where was mine?

He had abandoned me, and in the bitterness of my heart I cursed him.

 

"Autumn passed thus.  I saw, with surprise and grief, the leaves decay

and fall, and nature again assume the barren and bleak appearance it

had worn when I first beheld the woods and the lovely moon.  Yet I did

not heed the bleakness of the weather; I was better fitted by my

conformation for the endurance of cold than heat.  But my chief

delights were the sight of the flowers, the birds, and all the

gay apparel of summer; when those deserted me, I turned with more

attention towards the cottagers.  Their happiness was not decreased

by the absence of summer.  They loved and sympathized with one another;

and their joys, depending on each other, were not interrupted by the

casualties that took place around them.  The more I saw of them,

the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness;

my heart yearned to be known and loved by these amiable creatures;

to see their sweet looks directed towards me with affection was

the utmost limit of my ambition.  I dared not think that they would

turn them from me with disdain and horror.  The poor that stopped

at their door were never driven away.  I asked, it is true, for

greater treasures than a little food or rest:  I required kindness

and sympathy; but I did not believe myself utterly unworthy of it.

 

"The winter advanced, and an entire revolution of the seasons had

taken place since I awoke into life.  My attention at this time was

solely directed towards my plan of introducing myself into the

cottage of my protectors.  I revolved many projects, but that on

which I finally fixed was to enter the dwelling when the blind old

man should be alone.  I had sagacity enough to discover that the

unnatural hideousness of my person was the chief object of horror

with those who had formerly beheld me.  My voice, although harsh,

had nothing terrible in it; I thought, therefore, that if in the absence

of his children I could gain the good will and mediation of the old De Lacey,

I might by his means be tolerated by my younger protectors.

 

"One day, when the sun shone on the red leaves that strewed the

ground and diffused cheerfulness, although it denied warmth, Safie,

Agatha, and Felix departed on a long country walk, and the old man,

at his own desire, was left alone in the cottage.  When his children

had departed, he took up his guitar and played several mournful

but sweet airs, more sweet and mournful than I had ever heard him

play before.  At first his countenance was illuminated with pleasure,

but as he continued, thoughtfulness and sadness succeeded; at length,

laying aside the instrument, he sat absorbed in reflection.

 

"My heart beat quick; this was the hour and moment of trial, which

would decide my hopes or realize my fears.  The servants were gone

to a neighbouring fair.  All was silent in and around the cottage;

it was an excellent opportunity; yet, when I proceeded to execute

my plan, my limbs failed me and I sank to the ground.  Again I rose,

and exerting all the firmness of which I was master, removed the

planks which I had placed before my hovel to conceal my retreat.

The fresh air revived me, and with renewed determination I

approached the door of their cottage.

 

"I knocked.  `Who is there?' said the old man.  `Come in.'

 

"I entered.  `Pardon this intrusion,' said I; `I am a traveller in

want of a little rest; you would greatly oblige me if you would

allow me to remain a few minutes before the fire.'

 

"`Enter,' said De Lacey, `and I will try in what manner I can to

relieve your wants; but, unfortunately, my children are from home,

and as I am blind, I am afraid I shall find it difficult to procure

food for you.'

 

"`Do not trouble yourself, my kind host; I have food; it is warmth

and rest only that I need.'

 

"I sat down, and a silence ensued.  I knew that every minute

was precious to me, yet I remained irresolute in what manner

to commence the interview, when the old man addressed me.

`By your language, stranger, I suppose you are my countryman;

are you French?'

 

"`No; but I was educated by a French family and understand that

language only.  I am now going to claim the protection of some friends,

whom I sincerely love, and of whose favour I have some hopes.'

 

"`Are they Germans?'

 

"`No, they are French.  But let us change the subject.  I am an

unfortunate and deserted creature, I look around and I have no

relation or friend upon earth.  These amiable people to whom I go

have never seen me and know little of me.  I am full of fears,

for if I fail there, I am an outcast in the world forever.'

 

"`Do not despair.  To be friendless is indeed to be unfortunate,

but the hearts of men, when unprejudiced by any obvious self-interest,

are full of brotherly love and charity.  Rely, therefore, on your hopes;

and if these friends are good and amiable, do not despair.'

 

"`They are kind--they are the most excellent creatures in the world; but,

unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me.  I have good dispositions;

my life has been hitherto harmless and in some degree beneficial;

but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see

a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster.'

 

"`That is indeed unfortunate; but if you are really blameless,

cannot you undeceive them?'

 

"`I am about to undertake that task; and it is on that account that

I feel so many overwhelming terrors.  I tenderly love these friends;

I have, unknown to them, been for many months in the habits of daily

kindness towards them; but they believe that I wish to injure them,

and it is that prejudice which I wish to overcome.'

 

"`Where do these friends reside?'

 

"`Near this spot.'

 

"The old man paused and then continued, `If you will unreservedly

confide to me the particulars of your tale, I perhaps may be of use

in undeceiving them.  I am blind and cannot judge of your countenance,

but there is something in your words which persuades me that you are sincere.

I am poor and an exile, but it will afford me true pleasure to be in any way

serviceable to a human creature.'

 

"`Excellent man!  I thank you and accept your generous offer.

You raise me from the dust by this kindness; and I trust that,

by your aid, I shall not be driven from the society and sympathy

of your fellow creatures.'

 

"`Heaven forbid!  Even if you were really criminal, for that can

only drive you to desperation, and not instigate you to virtue.

I also am unfortunate; I and my family have been condemned, although

innocent; judge, therefore, if I do not feel for your misfortunes.'

 

"`How can I thank you, my best and only benefactor?  From your lips

first have I heard the voice of kindness directed towards me;

I shall be forever grateful; and your present humanity assures me

of success with those friends whom I am on the point of meeting.'

 

"`May I know the names and residence of those friends?' "I paused.

This, I thought, was the moment of decision, which was to rob me of

or bestow happiness on me forever.  I struggled vainly for firmness

sufficient to answer him, but the effort destroyed all my remaining

strength; I sank on the chair and sobbed aloud.  At that moment

I heard the steps of my younger protectors.  I had not a moment to lose,

but seizing the hand of the old man, I cried, `Now is the time!

Save and protect me!  You and your family are the friends whom I seek.

Do not you desert me in the hour of trial!'

 

"`Great God!' exclaimed the old man.  `Who are you?'

 

"At that instant the cottage door was opened, and Felix, Safie, and

Agatha entered.  Who can describe their horror and consternation on

beholding me?  Agatha fainted, and Safie, unable to attend to her

friend, rushed out of the cottage.  Felix darted forward, and with

supernatural force tore me from his father, to whose knees I clung,

in a transport of fury, he dashed me to the ground and struck me

violently with a stick.  I could have torn him limb from limb, as

the lion rends the antelope.  But my heart sank within me as with

bitter sickness, and I refrained.  I saw him on the point of

repeating his blow, when, overcome by pain and anguish, I quitted

the cottage, and in the general tumult escaped unperceived to my hovel."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 16

 

 

"Cursed, cursed creator!  Why did I live?  Why, in that instant,

did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so

wantonly bestowed?  I know not; despair had not yet taken

possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge.

I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants

and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.

 

"When night came I quitted my retreat and wandered in the wood;

and now, no longer restrained by the fear of discovery, I gave vent to

my anguish in fearful howlings.  I was like a wild beast that had

broken the toils, destroying the objects that obstructed me and

ranging through the wood with a staglike swiftness.  Oh!  What a

miserable night I passed!  The cold stars shone in mockery, and the

bare trees waved their branches above me; now and then the sweet

voice of a bird burst forth amidst the universal stillness.

All, save I, were at rest or in enjoyment; I, like the arch-fiend,

bore a hell within me, and finding myself unsympathized with, wished to

tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then

to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin.

 

"But this was a luxury of sensation that could not endure; I became

fatigued with excess of bodily exertion and sank on the damp grass

in the sick impotence of despair.  There was none among the myriads

of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel

kindness towards my enemies?  No; from that moment I declared

everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against him

who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.

 

"The sun rose; I heard the voices of men and knew that it was

impossible to return to my retreat during that day.  Accordingly I

hid myself in some thick underwood, determining to devote the

ensuing hours to reflection on my situation.

 

"The pleasant sunshine and the pure air of day restored me to some degree

of tranquillity; and when I considered what had passed at the cottage,

I could not help believing that I had been too hasty in my conclusions.

I had certainly acted imprudently.  It was apparent that my conversation

had interested the father in my behalf, and  I was a fool in having exposed

my person to the horror of his children.  I ought to have familiarized the

old De Lacey to me, and by degrees to have discovered myself to the rest

of his family, when they should have been  prepared for my approach.

But I did not believe my errors to be irretrievable, and after much

consideration I resolved to return to the cottage, seek the old man,

and by my representations win him to my party.

 

"These thoughts calmed me, and in the afternoon I sank into a profound sleep;

but the fever of my blood did not allow me to be visited by peaceful dreams.

The horrible scene of the preceding day was forever acting before my eyes; the

females were flying and the enraged Felix tearing me from his father's feet.

I awoke exhausted, and finding that it was already night, I crept forth

from my hiding-place, and went in search of food.

 

"When my hunger was appeased, I directed my steps towards the well-

known path that conducted to the cottage.  All there was at peace.

I crept into my hovel and remained in silent expectation of the

accustomed hour when the family arose.  That hour passed, the sun

mounted high in the heavens, but the cottagers did not appear.

I trembled violently, apprehending some dreadful misfortune.

The inside of the cottage was dark, and I heard no motion;

I cannot describe the agony of this suspense.

 

"Presently two countrymen passed by, but pausing near the cottage,

they entered into conversation, using violent gesticulations;

but I did not understand what they said, as they spoke the

language of the country, which differed from that of my protectors.

Soon after, however, Felix approached with another man; I was surprised,

as I knew that he had not quitted the cottage that morning,

and waited anxiously to discover from his discourse the meaning

of these unusual appearances.

 

"`Do you consider,' said his companion to him, `that you will be obliged

to pay three months' rent and to lose the produce of your garden?

I do not wish to take any unfair advantage, and I beg therefore

that you will take some days to consider of your determination.'

 

"`It is utterly useless,' replied Felix; `we can never again inhabit

your cottage.  The life of my father is in the greatest danger,

owing to the dreadful circumstance that I have related.  My wife

and my sister will never recover from their horror.  I entreat

you not to reason with me any more.  Take possession of your

tenement and let me fly from this place.'

 

"Felix trembled violently as he said this.  He and his companion

entered the cottage, in which they remained for a few minutes,

and then departed.  I never saw any of the family of De Lacey more.

 

"I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of

utter and stupid despair.  My protectors had departed and had broken

the only link that held me to the world.  For the first time the

feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive

to control them, but allowing myself to be borne away by the stream,

I bent my mind towards injury and death.  When I thought of my friends,

of the mild voice of De Lacey, the gentle eyes of Agatha, and the

exquisite beauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished and a

gush of tears somewhat soothed me.  But again when I reflected

that they had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger, and

unable to injure anything human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects.

As night advanced I placed a variety of combustibles around the cottage,

and after having destroyed every vestige of cultivation in the garden, I waited

with forced impatience until the moon had sunk to commence my operations.

 

"As the night advanced, a fierce wind arose from the woods and

quickly dispersed the clouds that had loitered in the heavens;

the blast tore along like a mighty avalanche and produced a kind of

insanity in my spirits that burst all bounds of reason and reflection.

I lighted the dry branch of a tree and danced with fury around the

devoted cottage, my eyes still fixed on the western horizon, the edge

of which the moon nearly touched.  A part of its orb was at length hid,

and I waved my brand; it sank, and with a loud scream I fired the straw,

and heath, and bushes, which I had collected.  The wind fanned the fire,

and the cottage was quickly enveloped by the flames, which clung to it

and licked it with their forked and destroying tongues.

 

"As soon as I was convinced that no assistance could save any part of

the habitation, I quitted the scene and sought for refuge in the woods.

 

"And now, with the world before me, whither should I bend my steps?

I resolved to fly far from the scene of my misfortunes; but to me,

hated and despised, every country must be equally horrible.

At length the thought of you crossed my mind.  I learned from your

papers that you were my father, my creator; and to whom could I

apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life?

Among the lessons that Felix had bestowed upon Safie, geography

had not been omitted; I had learned from these the relative situations

of the different countries of the earth.  You had mentioned Geneva

as the name of your native town, and towards this place I resolved

to proceed.

 

"But how was I to direct myself?  I knew that I must travel in a

southwesterly direction to reach my destination, but the sun was my

only guide.  I did not know the names of the towns that I was to

pass through, nor could I ask information from a single human being;

but I did not despair.  From you only could I hope for succour,

although towards you I felt no sentiment but that of hatred.

Unfeeling, heartless creator!  You had endowed me with perceptions

and passions and then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and

horror of mankind.  But on you only had I any claim for pity and redress,

and from you I determined to seek that justice which I vainly attempted

to gain from any other being that wore the human form.

 

"My travels were long and the sufferings I endured intense.  It was

late in autumn when I quitted the district where I had so long resided.

I travelled only at night, fearful of encountering the visage of a

human being.  Nature decayed around me, and the sun became heatless;

rain and snow poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface

of the earth was hard and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter.

Oh, earth!  How often did I imprecate curses on the cause of my being!

The mildness of my nature had fled, and all within me was turned to gall

and bitterness.  The nearer I approached to your habitation,

the more deeply did I feel the spirit of revenge enkindled in my heart.

Snow fell, and the waters were hardened, but I rested not.  A few

incidents now and then directed me, and I possessed a map of the country;

but I often wandered wide from my path.  The agony of my feelings

allowed me no respite; no incident occurred from which my rage

and misery could not extract its food; but a circumstance that

happened when I arrived on the confines of Switzerland, when the sun

had recovered its warmth and the earth again began to look green,

confirmed in an especial manner the bitterness and horror of my feelings.

 

"I generally rested during the day and travelled only when I was

secured by night from the view of man.  One morning, however,

finding that my path lay through a deep wood, I ventured to

continue my journey after the sun had risen; the day, which was one

of the first of spring, cheered even me by the loveliness of its

sunshine and the balminess of the air.  I felt emotions of gentleness

and pleasure, that had long appeared dead, revive within me.

Half surprised by the novelty of these sensations, I allowed

myself to be borne away by them, and forgetting my solitude

and deformity, dared to be happy.  Soft tears again bedewed my cheeks,

and I even raised my humid eyes with thankfulness towards the blessed sun,

which bestowed such joy upon me.

 

"I continued to wind among the paths of the wood, until I came to

its boundary, which was skirted by a deep and rapid river, into

which many of the trees bent their branches, now budding with the

fresh spring.  Here I paused, not exactly knowing what path to

pursue, when I heard the sound of voices, that induced me to

conceal myself under the shade of a cypress.  I was scarcely hid

when a young girl came running towards the spot where I was

concealed, laughing, as if she ran from someone in sport.

She continued her course along the precipitous sides of the river,

when suddenly her foot slipped, and she fell into the rapid stream.

I rushed from my hiding-place and with extreme labour, from the force

of the current, saved her and dragged her to shore.  She was senseless,

and I endeavoured by every means in my power to restore animation,

when I was suddenly interrupted by the approach of a rustic, who was

probably the person from whom she had playfully fled.  On seeing me,

he darted towards me, and tearing the girl from my arms, hastened towards

the deeper parts of the wood.  I followed speedily, I hardly knew why;

but when the man saw me draw near, he aimed a gun, which he carried,

at my body and fired.  I sank to the ground, and my injurer, with

increased swiftness, escaped into the wood.

 

"This was then the reward of my benevolence!  I had saved a human

being from destruction, and as a recompense I now writhed under the

miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone.  The

feelings of kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a

few moments before gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth.

Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind.

But the agony of my wound overcame me; my pulses paused, and I fainted.

 

"For some weeks I led a miserable life in the woods, endeavouring

to cure the wound which I had received.  The ball had entered my

shoulder, and I knew not whether it had remained there or passed

through; at any rate I had no means of extracting it.  My sufferings

were augmented also by the oppressive sense of the injustice and

ingratitude of their infliction.  My daily vows rose for revenge--

a deep and deadly revenge, such as would alone compensate for the

outrages and anguish I had endured.

 

"After some weeks my wound healed, and I continued my journey.

The labours I endured were no longer to be alleviated by the bright sun

or gentle breezes of spring; all joy was but a mockery which insulted

my desolate state and made me feel more painfully that I was not made

for the enjoyment of pleasure.

 

"But my toils now drew near a close, and in two months from this

time I reached the environs of Geneva.

 

"It was evening when I arrived, and I retired to a hiding-place

among the fields that surround it to meditate in what manner I

should apply to you.  I was oppressed by fatigue and hunger and far

too unhappy to enjoy the gentle breezes of evening or the prospect

of the sun setting behind the stupendous mountains of Jura.

 

"At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain of reflection,

which was disturbed by the approach of a beautiful child,

who came running into the recess I had chosen, with all the

sportiveness of infancy.  Suddenly, as I gazed on him,

an idea seized me that this little creature was unprejudiced

and had lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity.

If, therefore, I could seize him and educate him as my companion

and friend, I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth.

 

"Urged by this impulse, I seized on the boy as he passed and drew

him towards me.  As soon as he beheld my form, he placed his hands

before his eyes and uttered a shrill scream; I drew his hand

forcibly from his face and said, `Child, what is the meaning of this?

I do not intend to hurt you; listen to me.'

 

"He struggled violently.  `Let me go,' he cried; `monster!

Ugly wretch!  You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces.

You are an ogre.  Let me go, or I will tell my papa.'

 

"`Boy, you will never see your father again; you must come with me.'

 

"`Hideous monster!  Let me go.  My papa is a syndic--he is

M. Frankenstein--he will punish you.  You dare not keep me.'

 

"`Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy--to him towards whom

I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim.'

 

"The child still struggled and loaded me with epithets which

carried despair to my heart; I grasped his throat to silence him,

and in a moment he lay dead at my feet.

 

"I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and

hellish triumph; clapping my hands, I exclaimed, `I too can create

desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry

despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and

destroy him.'

 

"As I fixed my eyes on the child, I saw something glittering on

his breast.  I took it; it was a portrait of a most lovely woman.

In spite of my malignity, it softened and attracted me.  For a few

moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, fringed by deep

lashes, and her lovely lips; but presently my rage returned;

I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights that such

beautiful creatures could bestow and that she whose resemblance

I contemplated would, in regarding me, have changed that air

of divine benignity to one expressive of disgust and affright.

 

"Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with rage?

I only wonder that at that moment, instead of venting my sensations

in exclamations and agony, I did not rush among mankind and perish

in the attempt to destroy them.

 

"While l was overcome by these feelings, I left the spot where

I had committed the murder, and seeking a more secluded hiding-place,

I entered a barn which had appeared to me to be empty.  A woman was

sleeping on some straw; she was young, not indeed so beautiful as

her whose portrait I held, but of an agreeable aspect and blooming

in the loveliness of youth and health.  Here, I thought, is one of

those whose joy-imparting smiles are bestowed on all but me.

And then I bent over her and whispered, `Awake, fairest,

thy lover is near--he who would give his life but to obtain

one look of affection from thine eyes; my beloved, awake!'

 

"The sleeper stirred; a thrill of terror ran through me.

Should she indeed awake, and see me, and curse me,

and denounce the murderer?  Thus would she assuredly act

if her darkened eyes opened and she beheld me.

The thought was madness; it stirred the fiend within me--not I,

but she, shall suffer; the murder I have committed because I am

forever robbed of all that she could give me, she shall atone.

The crime had its source in her; be hers the punishment!

Thanks to the lessons of Felix and the sanguinary laws of man,

I had learned now to work mischief.  I bent over her and placed

the portrait securely in one of the folds of her dress.

She moved again, and I fled.

 

"For some days I haunted the spot where these scenes had taken place,

sometimes wishing to see you, sometimes resolved to quit the world

and its miseries forever.  At length I wandered towards these mountains,

and have ranged through their immense recesses, consumed by a burning

passion which you alone can gratify.  We may not part until you have

promised to comply with my requisition.  I am alone and miserable;

man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible

as myself would not deny herself to me.  My companion must be of the

same species and have the same defects.  This being you must create."

 

 

 

 

Chapter 17

 

 

The being finished speaking and fixed his looks upon me in the

expectation of a reply.  But I was bewildered, perplexed, and

unable to arrange my ideas sufficiently to understand the full

extent of his proposition.  He continued,

 

"You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the

interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being.

This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right

which you must not refuse to concede."

 

The latter part of his tale had kindled anew in me the anger that

had died away while he narrated his peaceful life among the cottagers,

and as he said this I could no longer suppress the rage that

burned within me.

 

"I do refuse it," I replied; "and no torture shall ever extort a

consent from me.  You may render me the most miserable of men, but

you shall never make me base in my own eyes.  Shall I create another

like yourself, whose joint wickedness might desolate the world.  Begone!

I have answered you; you may torture me, but I will never consent."

 

"You are in the wrong," replied the fiend; "and instead of threatening,

I am content to reason with you.  I am malicious because I am miserable.

Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?  You, my creator, would tear

me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity

man more than he pities me?  You would not call it murder if you could

precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts and destroy my frame,

the work of your own hands.  Shall I respect man when he condemns me?

Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness, and instead of injury

I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at

his acceptance.  But that cannot be; the human senses are

insurmountable barriers to our union.  Yet mine shall not be the

submission of abject slavery.  I will revenge my injuries; if I

cannot inspire love, I will cause fear, and chiefly towards you my

archenemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred.

Have a care; I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I

desolate your heart, so that you shall curse the hour of your birth."

 

A fiendish rage animated him as he said this; his face was wrinkled

into contortions too horrible for human eyes to behold; but presently

he calmed himself and proceeded--

 

"I intended to reason.  This passion is detrimental to me,

for you do not reflect that YOU are the cause of its excess.

If any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me,

I should return them a hundred and a hundredfold; for that

one creature's sake I would make peace with the whole kind!

But I now indulge in dreams of bliss that cannot be realized.

What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature

of another sex, but as hideous as myself; the gratification is small,

but it is all that I can receive, and it shall content me.  It is true,

we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account

we shall be more attached to one another.  Our lives will not be happy,

but they will be harmless and free from the misery I now feel.  Oh!

My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit!

Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing;

do not deny me my request!"

 

I was moved.  I shuddered when I thought of the possible

consequences of my consent, but I felt that there was some

justice in his argument.  His tale and the feelings he now

expressed proved him to be a creature of fine sensations, and did

I not as his maker owe him all the portion of happiness that it was

in my power to bestow?  He saw my change of feeling and continued,

 

"If you consent, neither you nor any other human being shall

ever see us again; I will go to the vast wilds of South America.

My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to

glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.

My companion will be of the same nature as myself and will be content

with the same fare.  We shall make our bed of dried leaves;

the sun will shine on us as on man and will ripen our food.

The picture I present to you is peaceful and human,

and you must feel that you could deny it only in the

wantonness of power and cruelty.  Pitiless as you have been towards me,

I now see compassion in your eyes; let me seize the favourable moment

and persuade you to promise what I so ardently desire."

 

"You propose," replied I, "to fly from the habitations of man,

to dwell in those wilds where the beasts of the field will be your

only companions.  How can you, who long for the love and sympathy

of man, persevere in this exile?  You will return and again seek

their kindness, and you will meet with their detestation; your evil

passions will be renewed, and you will then have a companion to aid

you in the task of destruction.  This may not be; cease to argue

the point, for I cannot consent."

 

"How inconstant are your feelings!  But a moment ago you were moved by

my representations, and why do you again harden yourself to my complaints?

I swear to you, by the earth which I inhabit, and by you that made me,

that with the companion you bestow I will quit the neighbourhood of man

and dwell, as it may chance, in the most savage of places.

My evil passions will have fled, for I shall meet with sympathy!

My life will flow quietly away, and in my dying moments I shall not

curse my maker."

 

His words had a strange effect upon me.  I compassionated him and

sometimes felt a wish to console him, but when I looked upon him,

when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened

and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred.

I tried to stifle these sensations; I thought that as I could not

sympathize with him, I had no right to withhold from him the

small portion of happiness which was yet in my power to bestow.

 

"You swear," I said, "to be harmless; but have you not already shown

a degree of malice that should reasonably make me distrust you?

May not even this be a feint that will increase your triumph by

affording a wider scope for your revenge?"

 

"How is this?  I must not be trifled with, and I demand an answer.

If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion;

the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes,

and I shall become a thing of whose existence everyone will be ignorant.

My vices are the children of a forced solitude that I abhor,

and my virtues will necessarily arise when I live in communion with an equal.

I shall feel the affections of a sensitive being and became linked to the

chain of existence and events from which I am now excluded."

 

I paused some time to reflect on all he had related and the various

arguments which he had employed.  I thought of the promise of

virtues which he had displayed on the opening of his existence and

the subsequent blight of all kindly feeling by the loathing and

scorn which his protectors had manifested towards him.  His power

and threats were not omitted in my calculations; a creature who

could exist in the ice caves of the glaciers and hide himself from

pursuit among the ridges of inaccessible precipices was a being

possessing faculties it would be vain to cope with.  After a long

pause of reflection I concluded that the justice due both to him

and my fellow creatures demanded of me that I should comply with

his request.  Turning to him, therefore, I said,

 

"I consent to your demand, on your solemn oath to quit Europe forever,

and every other place in the neighbourhood of man, as soon as I shall

deliver into your hands a female who will accompany you in your exile."

 

"I swear," he cried, "by the sun, and by the blue sky of heaven,

and by the fire of love that burns my heart, that if you grant

my prayer, while they exist you shall never behold me again.

Depart to your home and commence your labours; I shall watch their

progress with unutterable anxiety; and fear not but that when you

are ready I shall appear."

 

Saying this, he suddenly quitted me, fearful, perhaps, of any

change in my sentiments.  I saw him descend the mountain with

greater speed than the flight of an eagle, and quickly lost

among the undulations of the sea of ice.

 

His tale had occupied the whole day, and the sun was upon the verge

of the horizon when he departed.  I knew that I ought to hasten my

descent towards the valley, as I should soon be encompassed in

darkness; but my heart was heavy, and my steps slow.  The labour of

winding among the little paths of the mountain and fixing my feet

firmly as I advanced perplexed me, occupied as I was by the

emotions which the occurrences of the day had produced.  Night was

far advanced when I came to the halfway resting-place and seated

myself beside the fountain.  The stars shone at intervals as the

clouds passed from over them; the dark pines rose before me, and

every here and there a broken tree lay on the ground; it was a

scene of wonderful solemnity and stirred strange thoughts within me.

I wept bitterly, and clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, "Oh!

Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye

really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought;

but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness."

 

These were wild and miserable thoughts, but I cannot describe to

you how the eternal twinkling of the stars weighed upon me and how

I listened to every blast of wind as if it were a dull ugly siroc

on its way to consume me.

 

Morning dawned before I arrived at the village of Chamounix; I took

no rest, but returned immediately to Geneva.  Even in my own heart

I could give no expression to my sensations--they weighed on me

with a mountain's weight and their excess destroyed my agony

beneath them.  Thus I returned home, and entering the house,

presented myself to the family.  My haggard and wild appearance

awoke intense alarm, but I answered no question, scarcely did I speak.

I felt as if I were placed under a ban--as if I had no right to claim

their sympathies--as if never more might I enjoy companionship with them.

Yet even thus I loved them to adoration; and to save them, I resolved

to dedicate myself to my most abhorred task.  The prospect of such

an occupation made every other circumstance of existence pass before me

like a dream, and that thought only had to me the reality of life.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 18

 

 

Day after day, week after week, passed away on my return to Geneva;

and I could not collect the courage to recommence my work.  I feared

the vengeance of the disappointed fiend, yet I was unable to overcome

my repugnance to the task which was enjoined me.  I found that

I could not compose a female without again devoting several months

to profound study and laborious disquisition.  I had heard

of some discoveries having been made by an English philosopher,

the knowledge of which was material to my success, and I sometimes

thought of obtaining my father's consent to visit England for this

purpose; but I clung to every pretence of delay and shrank from

taking the first step in an undertaking whose immediate necessity

began to appear less absolute to me.  A change indeed had taken

place in me; my health, which had hitherto declined, was now much

restored; and my spirits, when unchecked by the memory of my

unhappy promise, rose proportionably.  My father saw this change

with pleasure, and he turned his thoughts towards the best method

of eradicating the remains of my melancholy, which every now and

then would return by fits, and with a devouring blackness overcast

the approaching sunshine.  At these moments I took refuge in the

most perfect solitude.  I passed whole days on the lake alone in a

little boat, watching the clouds and listening to the rippling of

the waves, silent and listless.  But the fresh air and bright sun

seldom failed to restore me to some degree of composure, and on my

return I met the salutations of my friends with a readier smile and

a more cheerful heart.

 

It was after my return from one of these rambles that my father,

calling me aside, thus addressed me,

 

"I am happy to remark, my dear son, that you have resumed your

former pleasures and seem to be returning to yourself.  And yet you

are still unhappy and still avoid our society.  For some time I was

lost in conjecture as to the cause of this, but yesterday an idea

struck me, and if it is well founded, I conjure you to avow it.

Reserve on such a point would be not only useless, but draw down

treble misery on us all."

 

I trembled violently at his exordium, and my father continued--

"I confess, my son, that I have always looked forward to your

marriage with our dear Elizabeth as the tie of our domestic comfort

and the stay of my declining years.  You were attached to each

other from your earliest infancy; you studied together, and appeared,

in dispositions and tastes, entirely suited to one another.

But so blind is the experience of man that what I conceived

to be the best assistants to my plan may have entirely destroyed it.

You, perhaps, regard her as your sister, without any wish that she might

become your wife.  Nay, you may have met with another whom you may love;

and considering yourself as bound in honour to Elizabeth, this struggle

may occasion the poignant misery which you appear to feel."

 

"My dear father, reassure yourself.  I love my cousin tenderly

and sincerely.  I never saw any woman who excited, as Elizabeth does,

my warmest admiration and affection.  My future hopes and prospects

are entirely bound up in the expectation of our union."

 

"The expression of your sentiments of this subject, my dear Victor,

gives me more pleasure than I have for some time experienced.  If you

feel thus, we shall assuredly be happy, however present events may

cast a gloom over us.  But it is this gloom which appears to

have taken so strong a hold of your mind that I wish to dissipate.

Tell me, therefore, whether you object to an immediate

solemnization of the marriage.  We have been unfortunate,

and recent events have drawn us from that everyday tranquillity

refitting my years and infirmities.  You are younger; yet l do not

suppose, possessed as you are of a competent fortune, that an early

marriage would at all interfere with any future plans of honour and

utility that you may have formed.  Do not suppose, however, that I

wish to dictate happiness to you or that a delay on your part would

cause me any serious uneasiness.  Interpret my words with candour

and answer me, I conjure you, with confidence and sincerity."

 

I listened to my father in silence and remained for some time

incapable of offering any reply.  I revolved rapidly in my mind a

multitude of thoughts and endeavoured to arrive at some conclusion.

Alas!  To me the idea of an immediate union with my Elizabeth was

one of horror and dismay.  I was bound by a solemn promise

which I had not yet fulfilled and dared not break, or if I did,

what manifold miseries might not impend over me and my devoted family!

Could I enter into a festival with this deadly weight yet hanging

round my neck and bowing me to the ground?  I must perform my

engagement and let the monster depart with his mate before I

allowed myself to enjoy the delight of a union from which I

expected peace.

 

I remembered also the necessity imposed upon me of either

journeying to England or entering into a long correspondence

with those philosophers of that country whose knowledge and

discoveries were of indispensable use to me in my present undertaking.

The latter method of obtaining the desired intelligence was dilatory

and unsatisfactory; besides, I had an insurmountable aversion

to the idea of engaging myself in my loathsome task in my father's

house while in habits of familiar intercourse with those I loved.

I knew that a thousand fearful accidents might occur, the slightest

of which would disclose a tale to thrill all connected with me with horror.

I was aware also that I should often lose all self-command, all capacity

of hiding the harrowing sensations that would possess me during the progress

of my unearthly occupation.  I must absent myself from all I loved

while thus employed.  Once commenced, it would quickly be achieved,

and I might be restored to my family in peace and happiness.

My promise fulfilled, the monster would depart forever.

Or (so my fond fancy imaged) some accident might meanwhile occur

to destroy him and put an end to my slavery forever.

 

These feelings dictated my answer to my father.  I expressed a wish

to visit England, but concealing the true reasons of this request,

I clothed my desires under a guise which excited no suspicion,

while I urged my desire with an earnestness that easily induced my

father to comply.  After so long a period of an absorbing melancholy

that resembled madness in its intensity and effects, he was glad to

find that I was capable of taking pleasure in the idea of such a journey,

and he hoped that change of scene and varied amusement would, before my return,

have restored me entirely to myself.

 

The duration of my absence was left to my own choice; a few months,

or at most a year, was the period contemplated.  One paternal

kind precaution he had taken to ensure my having a companion.

Without previously communicating with me, he had, in concert

with Elizabeth, arranged that Clerval should join me at Strasbourg.

This interfered with the solitude I coveted for the prosecution of

my task; yet at the commencement of my journey the presence of my

friend could in no way be an impediment, and truly I rejoiced that

thus I should be saved many hours of lonely, maddening reflection.

Nay, Henry might stand between me and the intrusion of my foe.

If I were alone, would he not at times force his abhorred presence

on me to remind me of my task or to contemplate its progress?

 

To England, therefore, I was bound, and it was understood that my

union with Elizabeth should take place immediately on my return.

My father's age rendered him extremely averse to delay.  For myself,

there was one reward I promised myself from my detested toils--

one consolation for my unparalleled sufferings; it was the prospect

of that day when, enfranchised from my miserable slavery, I might

claim Elizabeth and forget the past in my union with her.

 

I now made arrangements for my journey, but one feeling haunted me

which filled me with fear and agitation.  During my absence I should

leave my friends unconscious of the existence of their enemy and

unprotected from his attacks, exasperated as he might be by my departure.

But he had promised to follow me wherever I might go, and would he not

accompany me to England?  This imagination was dreadful in itself,

but soothing inasmuch as it supposed the safety of my friends.

I was agonized with the idea of the possibility that the reverse

of this might happen.  But through the whole period during which

I was the slave of my creature I allowed myself to be governed by

the impulses of the moment; and my present sensations strongly

intimated that the fiend would follow me and exempt my family

from the danger of his machinations.

 

It was in the latter end of September that I again quitted my

native country.  My journey had been my own suggestion, and Elizabeth

therefore acquiesced, but she was filled with disquiet at the idea

of my suffering, away from her, the inroads of misery and grief.

It had been her care which provided me a companion in Clerval--

and yet a man is blind to a thousand minute circumstances which

call forth a woman's sedulous attention.  She longed to bid me

hasten my return; a thousand conflicting emotions rendered her

mute as she bade me a tearful, silent farewell.

 

I threw myself into the carriage that was to convey me away, hardly

knowing whither I was going, and careless of what was passing around.

I remembered only, and it was with a bitter anguish that I reflected

on it, to order that my chemical instruments should be packed to go with me.

Filled with dreary imaginations, I passed through many beautiful and

majestic scenes, but my eyes were fixed and unobserving.  I could only

think of the bourne of my travels and the work which was to occupy me

whilst they endured.

 

After some days spent in listless indolence, during which I

traversed many leagues, I arrived at Strasbourg, where I waited two

days for Clerval.  He came.  Alas, how great was the contrast

between us!  He was alive to every new scene, joyful when he saw

the beauties of the setting sun, and more happy when he beheld it

rise and recommence a new day.  He pointed out to me the shifting

colours of the landscape and the appearances of the sky.  "This is

what it is to live," he cried; "how I enjoy existence!  But you,

my dear Frankenstein, wherefore are you desponding and sorrowful!"

In truth, I was occupied by gloomy thoughts and neither saw the descent

of the evening star nor the golden sunrise reflected in the Rhine.

And you, my friend, would be far more amused with the journal of Clerval,

who observed the scenery with an eye of feeling and delight,

than in listening to my reflections.  I, a miserable wretch,

haunted by a curse that shut up every avenue to enjoyment.

 

We had agreed to descend the Rhine in a boat from Strasbourg to

Rotterdam, whence we might take shipping for London.  During this

voyage we passed many willowy islands and saw several beautiful towns.

We stayed a day at Mannheim, and on the fifth from our departure

from Strasbourg, arrived at Mainz.  The course of the Rhine

below Mainz becomes much more picturesque.  The river descends

rapidly and winds between hills, not high, but steep,

and of beautiful forms.  We saw many ruined castles standing on the

edges of precipices, surrounded by black woods, high and inaccessible.

This part of the Rhine, indeed, presents a singularly variegated landscape.

In one spot you view rugged hills, ruined castles overlooking tremendous

precipices, with the dark Rhine rushing beneath; and on the sudden turn

of a promontory, flourishing vineyards with green sloping banks and a

meandering river and populous towns occupy the scene.

 

We travelled at the time of the vintage and heard the song of the

labourers as we glided down the stream.  Even I, depressed in mind,

and my spirits continually agitated by gloomy feelings, even I was

pleased.  I lay at the bottom of the boat, and as I gazed on the

cloudless blue sky, I seemed to drink in a tranquillity to which I

had long been a stranger.  And if these were my sensations, who can

describe those of Henry?  He felt as if he had been transported

to fairy-land and enjoyed a happiness seldom tasted by man.

"I have seen," he said, "the most beautiful scenes of my own country;

I have visited the lakes of Lucerne and Uri, where the snowy

mountains descend almost perpendicularly to the water, casting

black and impenetrable shades, which would cause a gloomy and

mournful appearance were it not for the most verdant islands that

believe the eye by their gay appearance; I have seen this lake

agitated by a tempest, when the wind tore up whirlwinds of water

and gave you an idea of what the water-spout must be on the great

ocean; and the waves dash with fury the base of the mountain, where

the priest and his mistress were overwhelmed by an avalanche and

where their dying voices are still said to be heard amid the pauses

of the nightly wind; I have seen the mountains of La Valais, and

the Pays de Vaud; but this country, Victor, pleases me more than

all those wonders.  The mountains of Switzerland are more majestic

and strange, but there is a charm in the banks of this divine river

that I never before saw equalled.  Look at that castle which

overhangs yon precipice; and that also on the island, almost

concealed amongst the foliage of those lovely trees; and now that

group of labourers coming from among their vines; and that

village half hid in the recess of the mountain.  Oh, surely the

spirit that inhabits and guards this place has a soul more in

harmony with man than those who pile the glacier or retire to the

inaccessible peaks of the mountains of our own country."

Clerval!  Beloved friend!  Even now it delights me to record your

words and to dwell on the praise of which you are so eminently

deserving.  He was a being formed in the "very poetry of nature."

His wild and enthusiastic imagination was chastened by the

sensibility of his heart.  His soul overflowed with ardent

affections, and his friendship was of that devoted and wondrous

nature that the world-minded teach us to look for only in the

imagination.  But even human sympathies were not sufficient to

satisfy his eager mind.  The scenery of external nature, which

others regard only with admiration, he loved with ardour:  --

 

 

     -----The sounding cataract

     Haunted him like a passion:  the tall rock,

     The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,

     Their colours and their forms, were then to him

     An appetite; a feeling, and a love,

     That had no need of a remoter charm,

     By thought supplied, or any interest

     Unborrow'd from the eye.

 

                    [Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey".]

 

 

And where does he now exist?  Is this gentle and lovely being lost

forever?  Has this mind, so replete with ideas, imaginations

fanciful and magnificent, which formed a world, whose existence

depended on the life of its creator; --has this mind perished?

Does it now only exist in my memory?  No, it is not thus; your form

so divinely wrought, and beaming with beauty, has decayed, but your

spirit still visits and consoles your unhappy friend.

 

Pardon this gush of sorrow; these ineffectual words are but a slight

tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry, but they soothe my heart,

overflowing with the anguish which his remembrance creates.

I will proceed with my tale.

 

Beyond Cologne we descended to the plains of Holland; and we

resolved to post the remainder of our way, for the wind was

contrary and the stream of the river was too gentle to aid us.

Our journey here lost the interest arising from beautiful scenery,

but we arrived in a few days at Rotterdam, whence we proceeded by sea

to England.  It was on a clear morning, in the latter days of December,

that I first saw the white cliffs of Britain.  The banks of the Thames

presented a new scene; they were flat but fertile, and almost every town

was marked by the remembrance of some story.  We saw Tilbury Fort

and remembered the Spanish Armada, Gravesend, Woolwich, and Greenwich--

places which I had heard of even in my country.

 

At length we saw the numerous steeples of London, St. Paul's

towering above all, and the Tower famed in English history.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 19

 

 

London was our present point of rest; we determined to remain

several months in this wonderful and celebrated city.  Clerval

desired the intercourse of the men of genius and talent who

flourished at this time, but this was with me a secondary object;

I was principally occupied with the means of obtaining the

information necessary for the completion of my promise and quickly

availed myself of the letters of introduction that I had brought with me,

addressed to the most distinguished natural philosophers.

 

If this journey had taken place during my days of study and

happiness, it would have afforded me inexpressible pleasure.

But a blight had come over my existence, and I only visited these

people for the sake of the information they might give me on the

subject in which my interest was so terribly profound.  Company was

irksome to me; when alone, I could fill my mind with the sights of

heaven and earth; the voice of Henry soothed me, and I could thus

cheat myself into a transitory peace.  But busy, uninteresting,

joyous faces brought back despair to my heart.  I saw an insurmountable

barrier placed between me and my fellow men; this barrier was sealed

with the blood of William and Justine, and to reflect on the events

connected with those names filled my soul with anguish.

 

But in Clerval I saw the image of my former self; he was

inquisitive and anxious to gain experience and instruction.

The difference of manners which he observed was to him an

inexhaustible source of instruction and amusement.  He was also

pursuing an object he had long had in view.  His design was to

visit India, in the belief that he had in his knowledge of its

various languages, and in the views he had taken of its society,

the means of materially assisting the progress of European

colonization and trade.  In Britain only could he further the

execution of his plan.  He was forever busy, and the only check to

his enjoyments was my sorrowful and dejected mind.  I tried to

conceal this as much as possible, that I might not debar him from

the pleasures natural to one who was entering on a new scene of

life, undisturbed by any care or bitter recollection.  I often

refused to accompany him, alleging another engagement, that I might

remain alone.  I now also began to collect the materials necessary

for my new creation, and this was to me like the torture of single

drops of water continually falling on the head.  Every thought that

was devoted to it was an extreme anguish, and every word that I spoke

in allusion to it caused my lips to quiver, and my heart to palpitate.

 

After passing some months in London, we received a letter from a

person in Scotland who had formerly been our visitor at Geneva.

He mentioned the beauties of his native country and asked us if those

were not sufficient allurements to induce us to prolong our journey

as far north as Perth, where he resided.  Clerval eagerly desired

to accept this invitation, and I, although I abhorred society,

wished to view again mountains and streams and all the wondrous

works with which Nature adorns her chosen dwelling-places.

We had arrived in England at the beginning of October, and it was

now February.  We accordingly determined to commence our journey

towards the north at the expiration of another month.  In this

expedition we did not intend to follow the great road to

Edinburgh, but to visit Windsor, Oxford, Matlock, and the

Cumberland lakes, resolving to arrive at the completion of this

tour about the end of July.  I packed up my chemical instruments

and the materials I had collected, resolving to finish my labours

in some obscure nook in the northern highlands of Scotland.

 

We quitted London on the 27th of March and remained a few days at

Windsor, rambling in its beautiful forest.  This was a new scene to

us mountaineers; the majestic oaks, the quantity of game, and the

herds of stately deer were all novelties to us.

 

From thence we proceeded to Oxford.  As we entered this city our

minds were filled with the remembrance of the events that had been

transacted there more than a century and a half before.  It was

here that Charles I had collected his forces.  This city had

remained faithful to him, after the whole nation had forsaken his

cause to join the standard of Parliament and liberty.  The memory

of that unfortunate king and his companions, the amiable Falkland,

the insolent Goring, his queen, and son, gave a peculiar interest to

every part of the city which they might be supposed to have inhabited.

The spirit of elder days found a dwelling here, and we delighted

to trace its footsteps.  If these feelings had not found an

imaginary gratification, the appearance of the city had yet

in itself sufficient beauty to obtain our admiration.

The colleges are ancient and picturesque; the streets are

almost magnificent; and the lovely Isis, which flows beside it

through meadows of exquisite verdure, is spread forth into a placid

expanse of waters, which reflects its majestic assemblage of towers,

and spires, and domes, embosomed among aged trees.

 

I enjoyed this scene, and yet my enjoyment was embittered

both by the memory of the past and the anticipation of the future.

I was formed for peaceful happiness.  During my youthful days

discontent never visited my mind, and if I was ever overcome

by ennui, the sight of what is beautiful in nature or the study of

what is excellent and sublime in the productions of man could

always interest my heart and communicate elasticity to my spirits.

But I am a blasted tree; the bolt has entered my soul; and I felt

then that I should survive to exhibit what I shall soon cease to be--

a miserable spectacle of wrecked humanity, pitiable to others and

intolerable to myself.

 

We passed a considerable period at Oxford, rambling among its

environs and endeavouring to identify every spot which might relate

to the most animating epoch of English history.  Our little voyages

of discovery were often prolonged by the successive objects that

presented themselves.  We visited the tomb of the illustrious

Hampden and the field on which that patriot fell.  For a moment my

soul was elevated from its debasing and miserable fears to

contemplate the divine ideas of liberty and self sacrifice of which

these sights were the monuments and the remembrancers.  For an

instant I dared to shake off my chains and look around me with a

free and lofty spirit, but the iron had eaten into my flesh,

and I sank again, trembling and hopeless, into my miserable self.

 

We left Oxford with regret and proceeded to Matlock, which was our

next place of rest.  The country in the neighbourhood of this

village resembled, to a greater degree, the scenery of Switzerland;

but everything is on a lower scale, and the green hills want the

crown of distant white Alps which always attend on the piny mountains

of my native country.  We visited the wondrous cave and the little

cabinets of natural history, where the curiosities are disposed

in the same manner as in the collections at Servox and Chamounix.

The latter name made me tremble when pronounced by Henry,

and I hastened to quit Matlock, with which that terrible

scene was thus associated.

 

From Derby, still journeying northwards, we passed two months in

Cumberland and Westmorland.  I could now almost fancy myself among

the Swiss mountains.  The little patches of snow which yet lingered

on the northern sides of the mountains, the lakes, and the dashing

of the rocky streams were all familiar and dear sights to me.

Here also we made some acquaintances, who almost contrived to cheat

me into happiness.  The delight of Clerval was proportionably greater

than mine; his mind expanded in the company of men of talent, and

he found in his own nature greater capacities and resources than he

could have imagined himself to have possessed while he associated

with his inferiors.  "I could pass my life here," said he to me;

"and among these mountains I should scarcely regret Switzerland

and the Rhine."

 

But he found that a traveller's life is one that includes much pain

amidst its enjoyments.  His feelings are forever on the stretch;

and when he begins to sink into repose, he finds himself obliged to

quit that on which he rests in pleasure for something new, which again

engages his attention, and which also he forsakes for other novelties.

 

We had scarcely visited the various lakes of Cumberland

and Westmorland and conceived an affection for some

of the inhabitants when the period of our appointment with

our Scotch friend approached, and we left them to travel on.

For my own part I was not sorry.  I had now neglected my promise

for some time, and I feared the effects of the daemon's disappointment.

He might remain in Switzerland and wreak his vengeance on my relatives.

This idea pursued me and tormented me at every moment from which

I might otherwise have snatched repose and peace.  I waited for

my letters with feverish impatience; if they were delayed I was

miserable and overcome by a thousand fears; and when they arrived

and I saw the superscription of Elizabeth or my father, I hardly

dared to read and ascertain my fate.  Sometimes I thought that the

fiend followed me and might expedite my remissness by murdering my

companion.  When these thoughts possessed me, I would not quit Henry

for a moment, but followed him as his shadow, to protect him from the

fancied rage of his destroyer.  I felt as if I had committed some

great crime, the consciousness of which haunted me.  I was guiltless,

but I had indeed drawn down a horrible curse upon my head,

as mortal as that of crime.

 

I visited Edinburgh with languid eyes and mind; and yet that city

might have interested the most unfortunate being.  Clerval did not

like it so well as Oxford, for the antiquity of the latter city was

more pleasing to him.  But the beauty and regularity of the new

town of Edinburgh, its romantic castle and its environs, the most

delightful in the world, Arthur's Seat, St. Bernard's Well, and the

Pentland Hills compensated him for the change and filled him with

cheerfulness and admiration.  But I was impatient to arrive at the

termination of my journey.

 

We left Edinburgh in a week, passing through Coupar, St. Andrew's,

and along the banks of the Tay, to Perth, where our friend expected us.

But I was in no mood to laugh and talk with strangers or enter into

their feelings or plans with the good humour expected from a guest;

and accordingly I told Clerval that I wished to make the tour of Scotland

alone.  "Do you," said I, "enjoy yourself, and let this be our rendezvous.

I may be absent a month or two; but do not interfere with my motions,

I entreat you; leave me to peace and solitude for a short time;

and when I return, I hope it will be with a lighter heart,

more congenial to your own temper.

 

Henry wished to dissuade me, but seeing me bent on this plan,

ceased to remonstrate.  He entreated me to write often.

"I had rather be with you," he said, "in your solitary rambles,

than with these Scotch people, whom I do not know; hasten, then,

my dear  friend, to return, that I may again feel myself

somewhat at home, which I cannot do in your absence."

 

Having parted from my friend, I determined to visit some remote

spot of Scotland and finish my work in solitude.  I did not doubt

but that the monster followed me and would discover himself to me

when I should have finished, that he might receive his companion.

With this resolution I traversed the northern highlands and fixed

on one of the remotest of the Orkneys as the scene of my labours.

It was a place fitted for such a work, being hardly more than a

rock whose high sides were continually beaten upon by the waves.

The soil was barren, scarcely affording pasture for a few

miserable cows, and oatmeal for its inhabitants, which consisted of

five persons, whose gaunt and scraggy limbs gave tokens of their

miserable fare.  Vegetables and bread, when they indulged in

such luxuries, and even fresh water, was to be procured from

the mainland, which was about five miles distant.

 

On the whole island there were but three miserable huts, and one

of these was vacant when I arrived.  This I hired.  It contained

but two rooms, and these exhibited all the squalidness of the most

miserable penury.  The thatch had fallen in, the walls were unplastered,

and the door was off its hinges.  I ordered it to be repaired,

bought some furniture, and took possession, an incident which

would doubtless have occasioned some surprise had not all the

senses of the cottagers been benumbed by want and squalid poverty.

As it was, I lived ungazed at and unmolested, hardly thanked

for the pittance of food and clothes which I gave,

so much does suffering blunt even the coarsest sensations of men.

 

In this retreat I devoted the morning to labour; but in the evening,

when the weather permitted, I walked on the stony beach of the sea

to listen to the waves as they roared and dashed at my feet.

It was a monotonous yet ever-changing scene.  I thought of

Switzerland; it was far different from this desolate and

appalling landscape.  Its hills are covered with vines, and its

cottages are scattered thickly in the plains.  Its fair lakes

reflect a blue and gentle sky, and when troubled by the winds,

their tumult is but as the play of a lively infant when compared

to the roarings of the giant ocean.

 

In this manner I distributed my occupations when I first arrived,

but as I proceeded in my labour, it became every day more

horrible and irksome to me.  Sometimes I could not prevail on

myself to enter my laboratory for several days, and at other times

I toiled day and night in order to complete my work.  It was,

indeed, a filthy process in which I was engaged.  During my first

experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded me to the

horror of my employment; my mind was intently fixed on the

consummation of my labour, and my eyes were shut to the horror of

my proceedings.  But now I went to it in cold blood, and my heart

often sickened at the work of my hands.

 

Thus situated, employed in the most detestable occupation,

immersed in a solitude where nothing could for an instant call my

attention from the actual scene in which I was engaged, my spirits

became unequal; I grew restless and nervous.  Every moment I feared

to meet my persecutor.  Sometimes I sat with my eyes fixed on the ground,

fearing to raise them lest they should encounter the object which I so much

dreaded to behold.  I feared to wander from the sight of my fellow creatures

lest when alone he should come to claim his companion.

 

In the mean time I worked on, and my labour was already considerably advanced.

I looked towards its completion with a tremulous and eager hope, which I dared

not trust myself to question but which was intermixed with obscure forebodings

of evil that made my heart sicken in my bosom.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 20

 

 

I sat one evening in my laboratory; the sun had set, and the moon was

just rising from the sea; I had not sufficient light for my employment,

and I remained idle, in a pause of consideration of whether I should

leave my labour for the night or hasten its conclusion by an unremitting

attention to it.  As I sat, a train of reflection occurred to me which led me

to consider the effects of what I was now doing.  Three years before, I was

engaged in the same manner and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity

had desolated my heart and filled it forever with the bitterest remorse.  I was

now about to form another being of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant;

she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight,

for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness.  He had sworn to quit the

neighbourhood of man and hide himself in deserts, but she had not; and she,

who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal,

might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation.

They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived

loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater

abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form?

She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man;

she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh

provocation of being deserted by one of his own species.  Even if

they were to leave Europe and inhabit the deserts of the new world,

yet one of the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon

thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated

upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man

a condition precarious and full of terror.  Had I right, for my own benefit,

to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations?  I had before been moved

by the sophisms of the being I had created; I had been struck senseless by his

fiendish threats; but now, for the first time, the wickedness of my promise

burst upon me; I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as their

pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price,

perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race.

 

I trembled and my heart failed within me, when, on looking up, I saw by the

light of the moon the daemon at the casement.  A ghastly grin wrinkled his

lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted

to me.  Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests,

hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and desert heaths; and he now

came to mark my progress and claim the fulfillment of my promise.

 

As I looked on him, his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice

and treachery.  I thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating

another like to him, and trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on

which I was engaged.  The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future

existence he depended for happiness, and with a howl of devilish despair and

revenge, withdrew.

 

I left the room, and locking the door, made a solemn vow in my own

heart never to resume my labours; and then, with trembling steps,

I sought my own apartment. I was alone; none were near me to dissipate

the gloom and relieve me from the sickening oppression of the most

terrible reveries.

 

Several hours passed, and I remained near my window gazing on the sea;

it was almost motionless, for the winds were hushed, and all nature

reposed under the eye of the quiet moon.  A few fishing vessels alone

specked the water, and now and then the gentle breeze wafted the sound

of voices as the fishermen called to one another.  I felt the silence,

although I was hardly conscious of its extreme profundity, until my ear

was suddenly arrested by the paddling of oars near the shore, and a

person landed close to my house.

 

In a few minutes after, I heard the creaking of my door, as if some

one endeavoured to open it softly.  I trembled from head to foot;

I felt a presentiment of who it was and wished to rouse one of the

peasants who dwelt in a cottage not far from mine; but I was overcome

by the sensation of helplessness, so often felt in frightful dreams,

when you in vain endeavour to fly from an impending danger, and was rooted

to the spot. Presently I heard the sound of footsteps along the passage;

the door opened, and the wretch whom I dreaded appeared.

 

Shutting the door, he approached me and said in a smothered voice,

"You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend?

Do you dare to break your promise?  I have endured toil and misery;

I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine,

among its willow islands and over the summits of its hills.  I have

dwelt many months in the heaths of England and among the deserts of Scotland.

I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy

my hopes?"

 

"Begone!  I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself,

equal in deformity and wickedness."

 

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy

of my condescension.  Remember that I have power; you believe yourself

miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will

be hateful to you.  You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"

 

"The hour of my irresolution is past, and the period of your power is arrived.

Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness; but they confirm me

in a determination of not creating you a companion in vice.  Shall I,

in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon whose delight is in death

and wretchedness?  Begone!  I am firm, and your words will only exasperate

my rage."

 

The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the

impotence of anger.  "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom,

and each beast have his mate, and I be alone?  I had feelings of affection,

and they were requited by detestation and scorn.  Man!  You may hate,

but beware!  Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon

the bolt  will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever.

Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness?

You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains -- revenge,

henceforth dearer than light or food!  I may die, but first you,

my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery.

Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.  I will watch with the

wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom.  Man, you shall repent

of the injuries you inflict."

 

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice.

I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words.

Leave me; I am inexorable."

 

"It is well.  I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night."

 

I started forward and exclaimed, "Villain!  Before you sign my death-warrant,

be sure that you are yourself safe."

 

I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quitted the housew

ith precipitation.  In a few moments I saw him in his boat,

which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness

and was soon lost amidst the waves.

 

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears.  I burned with rage

to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean.

I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination

conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me.  Why had I not

followed him and closed with him in mortal strife?  But I had suffered

him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland.

I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his

insatiate revenge.  And then I thought again of his words --

"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING-NIGHT."  That, then,

was the period fixed for the fulfillment of my destiny.

In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice.

The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved

Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find

her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed

for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall

before my enemy without a bitter struggle.

 

The night passed away, and the sun rose from the ocean; my feelings

became calmer, if it may be called calmness when the violence of rage

sinks into the depths of despair.  I left the house, the horrid scene

of the last night's contention, and walked on the beach of the sea,

which I almost regarded as an insuperable barrier between me and my fellow

creatures; nay, a wish that such should prove the fact stole across me.

 

I desired that I might pass my life on that barren rock, wearily,

it is true, but uninterrupted by any sudden shock of misery.

If I returned, it was to be sacrificed or to see those whom I most

loved die under the grasp of a daemon whom I had myself created.

 

I walked about the isle like a restless spectre, separated from all

it loved and miserable in the separation.  When it became noon,

and the sun rose higher, I lay down on the grass and was overpowered

by a deep sleep.  I had been awake the whole of the preceding night,

my nerves were agitated, and my eyes inflamed by watching and misery.

The sleep into which I now sank refreshed me; and when I awoke,

I again felt as if I belonged to a race of human beings like myself,

and I began to reflect upon what had passed with greater composure;

yet still the words of the fiend rang in my ears like a death-knell;

they appeared like a dream, yet distinct and oppressive as a reality.

 

The sun had far descended, and I still sat on the shore,

satisfying my appetite, which had become ravenous, with an oaten

cake, when I saw a fishing-boat land close to me, and one of the

men brought me a packet; it contained letters from Geneva, and one

from Clerval entreating me to join him.  He said that he was

wearing away his time fruitlessly where he was, that letters from

the friends he had formed in London desired his return to complete

the negotiation they had entered into for his Indian enterprise.

He could not any longer delay his departure; but as his journey to

London might be followed, even sooner than he now conjectured, by

his longer voyage, he entreated me to bestow as much of my society

on him as I could spare.  He besought me, therefore, to leave my

solitary isle and to meet him at Perth, that we might proceed

southwards together.  This letter in a degree recalled me to life,

and I determined to quit my island at the expiration of two days.

Yet, before I departed, there was a task to perform, on which I

shuddered to reflect; I must pack up my chemical instruments,

and for that purpose I must enter the room which had been the scene

of my odious work, and I must handle those utensils the sight of which

was sickening to me. The next morning, at daybreak, I summoned

sufficient courage and unlocked the door of my laboratory.

The remains of the half-finished creature, whom I had destroyed,

lay scattered on the floor, and I almost felt as if I had mangled the

living flesh of a human being.  I paused to collect myself and then

entered the chamber.  With trembling hand I conveyed the instruments

out of the room, but I reflected that I ought not to leave the relics

of my work to excite the horror and suspicion of the peasants;

and I accordingly put them into a basket, with a great quantity of stones,

and laying them up, determined to throw them into the sea that very night;

and in the meantime I sat upon the beach, employed in cleaning and arranging

my chemical apparatus.

 

Nothing could be more complete than the alteration that had taken

place in my feelings since the night of the appearance of the daemon.

I had before regarded my promise with a gloomy despair as a thing that,

with whatever consequences, must be fulfilled; but I now felt as if a film

had been taken from before my eyes and that I for the first time saw clearly.

The idea of renewing my labours did not for one instant occur to me;

the threat I had heard weighed on my thoughts, but I did not reflect

that a voluntary act of mine could avert it.  I had resolved in my

own mind that to create another like the fiend I had first made would

be an act of the basest and most atrocious selfishness, and I banished

from my mind every thought that could lead to a different conclusion.

 

Between two and three in the morning the moon rose; and I then,

putting my basket aboard a little skiff, sailed out about four

miles from the shore.  The scene was perfectly solitary; a few

boats were returning towards land, but I sailed away from them.

I felt as if I was about the commission of a dreadful crime and

avoided with shuddering anxiety any encounter with my fellow creatures.

At one time the moon, which had before been clear, was suddenly

overspread by a thick cloud, and I took advantage of the moment

of darkness and cast my basket into the sea; I listened to the

gurgling sound as it sank and then sailed away from the spot.

The sky became clouded, but the air was pure, although chilled by

the northeast breeze that was then rising.  But it refreshed me and

filled me with such agreeable sensations that I resolved to prolong

my stay on the water, and fixing the rudder in a direct position,

stretched myself at the bottom of the boat.  Clouds hid the moon,

everything was obscure, and I heard only the sound of the boat as

its keel cut through the waves; the murmur lulled me, and in a

short time I slept soundly. I do not know how long I remained in

this situation, but when I awoke I found that the sun had already

mounted considerably.  The wind was high, and the waves continually

threatened the safety of my little skiff.  I found that the wind

was northeast and must have driven me far from the coast from which

I had embarked.  I endeavoured to change my course but quickly

found that if I again made the attempt the boat would be instantly

filled with water.  Thus situated, my only resource was to drive

before the wind.  I confess that I felt a few sensations of terror.

I had no compass with me and was so slenderly acquainted with the

geography of this part of the world that the sun was of little

benefit to me.  I might be driven into the wide Atlantic and feel

all the tortures of starvation or be swallowed up in the

immeasurable waters that roared and buffeted around me.

I had already been out many hours and felt the torment of a burning

thirst, a prelude to my other sufferings.  I looked on the heavens,

which were covered by clouds that flew before the wind, only to be

replaced by others; I looked upon the sea; it was to be my grave.

"Fiend," I exclaimed, "your task is already fulfilled!"  I thought

of Elizabeth, of my father, and of Clerval -- all left behind, on

whom the monster might satisfy his sanguinary and merciless passions.

This idea plunged me into a reverie so despairing and frightful that

even now, when the scene is on the point of closing before me forever,

I shudder to reflect on it.

 

Some hours passed thus; but by degrees, as the sun declined towards

the horizon, the wind died away into a gentle breeze and the sea

became free from breakers.  But these gave place to a heavy swell;

I felt sick and hardly able to hold the rudder, when suddenly I saw

a line of high land towards the south.

 

Almost spent, as I was, by fatigue and the dreadful suspense I

endured for several hours, this sudden certainty of life rushed

like a flood of warm joy to my heart, and tears gushed from my eyes.

 

How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that clinging love

we have of life even in the excess of misery!  I constructed

another sail with a part of my dress and eagerly steered my course

towards the land.  It had a wild and rocky appearance, but as I

approached nearer I easily perceived the traces of cultivation.

I saw vessels near the shore and found myself suddenly transported

back to the neighbourhood of civilized man.  I carefully traced the

windings of the land and hailed a steeple which I at length saw

issuing from behind a small promontory.  As I was in a state of

extreme debility, I resolved to sail directly towards the town,

as a place where I could most easily procure nourishment.

Fortunately I had money with me.

 

As I turned the promontory I perceived a small neat town and a good harbour,

which I entered, my heart bounding with joy at my unexpected escape.

 

As I was occupied in fixing the boat and arranging the sails,

several people crowded towards the spot.  They seemed much

surprised at my appearance, but instead of offering me any

assistance, whispered together with gestures that at any other time

might have produced in me a slight sensation of alarm. As it was,

I merely remarked that they spoke English, and I therefore

addressed them in that language.  "My good friends," said I,

"will you be so kind as to tell me the name of this town and

inform me where I am?"

 

"You will know that soon enough," replied a man with a hoarse voice.

"Maybe you are come to a place that will not prove much to your taste,

but you will not be consulted as to your quarters, I promise you."

 

I was exceedingly surprised on receiving so rude an answer from a stranger,

and I was also disconcerted on perceiving the frowning and angry countenances

of his companions.  "Why do you answer me so roughly?"  I replied.

"Surely it is not the custom of Englishmen to receive strangers

so inhospitably."

 

"I do not know," said the man, "what the custom of the English

may be, but it is the custom of the Irish to hate villains."

While this strange dialogue continued, I perceived the crowd rapidly

increase.  Their faces expressed a mixture of curiosity and anger,

which annoyed  and in some degree alarmed me.

 

I inquired the way to the inn, but no one replied.  I then moved forward,

and a murmuring sound arose from the crowd as they followed and surrounded me,

when an ill-looking man approaching tapped me on the shoulder and said,

"Come, sir, you must follow me to Mr. Kirwin's to give an account of yourself."

 

"Who is Mr. Kirwin?  Why am I to give an account of myself?

Is not this a free country?"

 

"Ay, sir, free enough for honest folks.  Mr. Kirwin is a magistrate,

and you are to give an account of the death of a gentleman who was

found murdered here last night."

 

This answer startled me, but I presently recovered myself.

I was innocent; that could easily be proved; accordingly I followed

my conductor in silence and was led to one of the best houses in

the town.  I was ready to sink from fatigue and hunger, but being

surrounded by a crowd, I thought it politic to rouse all my strength,

that no physical debility might be construed into apprehension or

conscious guilt.  Little did I then expect the calamity that was

in a few moments to overwhelm me and extinguish in horror and despair

all fear of ignominy or death. I must pause here, for it requires

all my fortitude to recall the memory of the frightful events

which I am about to relate, in proper detail, to my recollection.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 21

 

 

I was soon introduced into the presence of the magistrate, an old

benevolent man with calm and mild manners.  He looked upon me, however,

with some degree of severity, and then, turning towards my conductors,

he asked who appeared as witnesses on this occasion.

 

About half a dozen men came forward; and, one being selected by the

magistrate, he deposed that he had been out fishing the night

before with his son and brother-in-law, Daniel Nugent, when,

about ten o'clock, they observed a strong northerly blast rising,

and they accordingly put in for port.  It was a very dark night,

as the moon had not yet risen; they did not land at the harbour,

but, as they had been accustomed, at a creek about two miles below.

He walked on first, carrying a part of the fishing tackle,

and his companions followed him at some distance.

 

As he was proceeding along the sands, he struck his foot against

something and fell at his length on the ground. His companions came

up to assist him, and by the light of their lantern they found that

he had fallen on the body of a man, who was to all appearance dead.

Their first supposition was that it was the corpse of some person

who had been drowned and was thrown on shore by the waves, but on

examination they found that the clothes were not wet and even that

the body was not then cold.  They instantly carried it to the

cottage of an old woman near the spot and endeavoured, but in vain,

to restore it to life.  It appeared to be a handsome young man,

about five and twenty years of age.  He had apparently been strangled,

for there was no sign of any violence except the black mark of fingers

on his neck.

 

The first part of this deposition did not in the least interest me,

but when the mark of the fingers was mentioned I remembered the murder

of my brother and felt myself extremely agitated; my limbs trembled,

and a mist came over my eyes, which obliged me to lean on a chair for support.

The magistrate observed me with a keen eye and of course drew an unfavourable

augury from my manner.

 

The son confirmed his father's account, but when Daniel Nugent was

called he swore positively that just before the fall of his

companion, he saw a boat, with a single man in it, at a short

distance from the shore; and as far as he could judge by the light

of a few stars, it was the same boat in which I had just landed.

A woman deposed that she lived near the beach and was standing at

the door of her cottage, waiting for the return of the fishermen,

about an hour before she heard of the discovery of the body, when

she saw a boat with only one man in it push off from that part of

the shore where the corpse was afterwards found.

 

Another woman confirmed the account of the fishermen having brought

the body into her house; it was not cold.  They put it into a bed

and rubbed it, and Daniel went to the town for an apothecary,

but life was quite gone.

 

Several other men were examined concerning my landing, and they

agreed that, with the strong north wind that had arisen during the night,

it was very probable that I had beaten about for many hours and had been

obliged to return nearly to the same spot from which I had departed.

Besides, they observed that it appeared that I had brought the body

from another place, and it was likely that as I did not appear to know

the shore, I might have put into the harbour ignorant of the distance

of the town of ---- from the place where I had deposited the corpse.

 

Mr. Kirwin, on hearing this evidence, desired that I should be

taken into the room where the body lay for interment, that it might

be observed what effect the sight of it would produce upon me.

This idea was probably suggested by the extreme agitation

I had exhibited when the mode of the murder had been described.

I was accordingly conducted, by the magistrate and several other persons,

to the inn.  I could not help being struck by the strange

coincidences that had taken place during this eventful night;

but, knowing that I had been conversing with several persons in the

island I had inhabited about the time that the body had been found,

I was perfectly tranquil as to the consequences of the affair.

I entered the room where the corpse lay and was led up to the coffin.

How can I describe my sensations on beholding it?  I feel yet

parched with horror, nor can I reflect on that terrible moment

without shuddering and agony.  The examination, the presence of the

magistrate and witnesses, passed like a dream from my memory when

I saw the lifeless form of Henry Clerval stretched before me.

I gasped for breath, and throwing myself on the body, I exclaimed,

"Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry,

of life?  Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their destiny;

but you, Clerval, my friend, my benefactor--"

 

The human frame could no longer support the agonies that I endured,

and I was carried out of the room in strong convulsions.  A fever

succeeded to this.  I lay for two months on the point of death;

my ravings, as I afterwards heard, were frightful;

I called myself the murderer of William, of Justine, and of Clerval.

Sometimes I entreated my attendants to assist me in the destruction

of the fiend by whom I was tormented; and at others I felt the

fingers of the monster already grasping my neck, and screamed aloud

with agony and terror.  Fortunately, as I spoke my native language,

Mr. Kirwin alone understood me; but my gestures and bitter cries

were sufficient to affright the other witnesses.  Why did I not die?

More miserable than man ever was before, why did I not sink into

forgetfulness and rest?  Death snatches away many blooming children,

the only hopes of their doting parents; how many brides and youthful

lovers have been one day in the bloom of health and hope, and the next

a prey for worms and the decay of the tomb!  Of what materials was

I made that I could thus resist so many shocks, which, like the turning

of the wheel, continually renewed the torture?

 

But I was doomed to live and in two months found myself as

awaking from a dream, in a prison, stretched on a wretched bed,

surrounded by jailers, turnkeys, bolts, and all the miserable

apparatus of a dungeon.  It was morning, I remember, when I thus

awoke to understanding; I had forgotten the particulars of what had

happened and only felt as if some great misfortune had suddenly

overwhelmed me; but when I looked around and saw the barred windows

and the squalidness of the room in which I was, all flashed

across my memory and I groaned bitterly.

 

This sound disturbed an old woman who was sleeping in a chair beside me.

She was a hired nurse, the wife of one of the turnkeys,

and her countenance expressed all those bad qualities

which often characterize that class.  The lines of her face

were hard and rude, like that of persons accustomed to see without

sympathizing in sights of misery.  Her tone expressed her

entire indifference; she addressed me in English, and the voice

struck me as one that I had heard during my sufferings.

"Are you better now, sir?" said she.

 

I replied in the same language, with a feeble voice, "I believe I am;

but if it be all true, if indeed I did not dream, I am sorry that

I am still alive to feel this misery and horror."

 

"For that matter," replied the old woman, "if you mean about the

gentleman you murdered, I believe that it were better for you if

you were dead, for I fancy it will go hard with you!  However,

that's none of my business; I am sent to nurse you and get you well;

I do my duty with a safe conscience; it were well if everybody

did the same."

 

I turned with loathing from the woman who could utter so unfeeling

a speech to a person just saved, on the very edge of death;

but I felt languid and unable to reflect on all that had passed.

The whole series of my life appeared to me as a dream; I sometimes

doubted if indeed it were all true, for it never presented itself

to my mind with the force of reality.

 

As the images that floated before me became more distinct, I grew

feverish; a darkness pressed around me; no one was near me who

soothed me with the gentle voice of love; no dear hand supported me.

The physician came and prescribed medicines, and the old woman

prepared them for me; but utter carelessness was visible in the first,

and the expression of brutality was strongly marked in the visage

of the second.  Who could be interested in the fate of a murderer

but the hangman who would gain his fee?

 

These were my first reflections, but I soon learned that Mr. Kirwin

had shown me extreme kindness.  He had caused the best room in the

prison to be prepared for me (wretched indeed was the best);

and it was he who had provided a physician and a nurse.  It is true,

he seldom came to see me, for although he ardently desired to relieve

the sufferings of every human creature, he did not wish to be present

at the agonies and miserable ravings of a murderer.  He came, therefore,

sometimes to see that I was not neglected, but his visits were short

and with long intervals.  One day, while I was gradually recovering,

I was seated in a chair, my eyes half open and my cheeks livid like

those in death.  I was overcome by gloom and misery and often reflected

I had better seek death than desire to remain in a world which to me

was replete with wretchedness.  At one time I considered whether

I should not declare myself guilty and suffer the penalty of the law,

less innocent than poor Justine had been.  Such were my thoughts when

the door of my apartment was opened and Mr. Kirwin entered.  His

countenance expressed sympathy and compassion; he drew a chair

close to mine and addressed me in French, "I fear that this place

is very shocking to you; can I do anything to make you more comfortable?"

 

"I thank you, but all that you mention is nothing to me; on the

whole earth there is no comfort which I am capable of receiving."

 

"I know that the sympathy of a stranger can be but of little relief

to one borne down as you are by so strange a misfortune.  But you

will, I hope, soon quit this melancholy abode, for doubtless evidence

can easily be brought to free you from the criminal charge."

 

"That is my least concern; I am, by a course of strange events,

become the most miserable of mortals.  Persecuted and tortured as

I am and have been, can death be any evil to me?"

 

"Nothing indeed could be more unfortunate and agonizing than the

strange chances that have lately occurred.  You were thrown, by some

surprising accident, on this shore, renowned for its hospitality,

seized immediately, and charged with murder.  The first sight that

was presented to your eyes was the body of your friend, murdered in

so unaccountable a manner and placed, as it were, by some fiend

across your path."

 

As Mr. Kirwin said this, notwithstanding the agitation I endured on

this retrospect of my sufferings, I also felt considerable surprise

at the knowledge he seemed to possess concerning me.  I suppose

some astonishment was exhibited in my countenance, for Mr. Kirwin

hastened to say, "Immediately upon your being taken ill, all the

papers that were on your person were brought me, and I examined

them that I might discover some trace by which I could send to your

relations an account of your misfortune and illness. I found

several letters, and, among others, one which I discovered from its

commencement to be from your father.  I instantly wrote to Geneva;

nearly two months have elapsed since the departure of my letter.

But you are ill; even now you tremble; you are unfit for agitation

of any kind."

 

"This suspense is a thousand times worse than the most horrible event;

tell me what new scene of death has been acted, and whose murder I am

now to lament?"

 

"Your family is perfectly well," said Mr. Kirwin with gentleness;

"and someone, a friend, is come to visit you."

 

I know not by what chain of thought the idea presented itself, but

it instantly darted into my mind that the murderer had come to mock

at my misery and taunt me with the death of Clerval, as a new

incitement for me to comply with his hellish desires.  I put my

hand before my eyes, and cried out in agony, "Oh! Take him away!

I cannot see him; for God's sake, do not let him enter!"

 

Mr. Kirwin regarded me with a troubled countenance.  He could not

help regarding my exclamation as a presumption of my guilt and said

in rather a severe tone, "I should have thought, young man, that the

presence of your father would have been welcome instead of inspiring

such violent repugnance."

 

"My father!" cried I, while every feature and every muscle was

relaxed from anguish to pleasure.  "Is my father indeed come?  How kind,

how very kind!  But where is he, why does he not hasten to me?"

 

My change of manner surprised and pleased the magistrate;

perhaps he thought that my former exclamation was a momentary

return of delirium, and now he instantly resumed his former

benevolence.  He rose and quitted the room with my nurse,

and in a moment my father entered it.

 

Nothing, at this moment, could have given me greater pleasure

than the arrival of my father.  I stretched out my hand to him

and cried, "Are you, then, safe--and Elizabeth--and Ernest?"

My father calmed me with assurances of their welfare and endeavoured,

by dwelling on these subjects so interesting to my heart, to raise

my desponding spirits; but he soon felt that a prison cannot be the

abode of cheerfulness.

 

"What a place is this that you inhabit, my son!" said he,

looking mournfully at the barred windows and wretched appearance

of the room.  "You travelled to seek happiness, but a fatality

seems to pursue you.  And poor Clerval--"

 

The name of my unfortunate and murdered friend was an agitation

too great to be endured in my weak state; I shed tears.  "Alas!

Yes, my father," replied I; "some destiny of the most horrible kind

hangs over me, and I must live to fulfil it, or surely I should

have died on the coffin of Henry."

 

We were not allowed to converse for any length of time, for the

precarious state of my health rendered every precaution necessary

that could ensure tranquillity.  Mr. Kirwin came in and insisted

that my strength should not be exhausted by too much exertion.

But the appearance of my father was to me like that of my good angel,

and I gradually recovered my health.

 

As my sickness quitted me, I was absorbed by a gloomy and black

melancholy that nothing could dissipate.  The image of Clerval was

forever before me, ghastly and murdered.  More than once the

agitation into which these reflections threw me made my friends

dread a dangerous relapse.  Alas!  Why did they preserve so

miserable and detested a life?  It was surely that I might fulfil

my destiny, which is now drawing to a close.  Soon, oh, very soon,

will death extinguish these throbbings and relieve me from the

mighty weight of anguish that bears me to the dust; and, in

executing the award of justice, I shall also sink to rest.

Then the appearance of death was distant, although the wish

was ever present to my thoughts; and I often sat for hours

motionless and speechless, wishing for some mighty revolution

that might bury me and my destroyer in its ruins.

 

The season of the assizes approached.  I had already been three months

in prison, and although I was still weak and in continual danger of

a relapse, I was obliged to travel nearly a hundred miles to the

country town where the court was held.  Mr. Kirwin charged himself

with every care of collecting witnesses and arranging my defence.

I was spared the disgrace of appearing publicly as a criminal,

as the case was not brought before the court that decides on life and death.

The grand jury rejected the bill, on its being proved that I was on the

Orkney Islands at the hour the body of my friend was found;

and a fortnight after my removal I was liberated from prison.

 

My father was enraptured on finding me freed from the vexations of

a criminal charge, that I was again allowed to breathe the fresh

atmosphere and permitted to return to my native country.  I did not

participate in these feelings, for to me the walls of a dungeon or

a palace were alike hateful.  The cup of life was poisoned forever,

and although the sun shone upon me, as upon the happy and gay

of heart, I saw around me nothing but a dense and frightful darkness,

penetrated by no light but the glimmer of two eyes that glared upon me.

Sometimes they were the expressive eyes of Henry, languishing in death,

the dark orbs nearly covered by the lids and the long black lashes

that fringed them; sometimes it was the watery, clouded eyes of the monster,

as I first saw them in my chamber at Ingolstadt.

 

My father tried to awaken in me the feelings of affection.  He talked

of Geneva, which I should soon visit, of Elizabeth and Ernest;

but these words only drew deep groans from me.  Sometimes, indeed,

I felt a wish for happiness and thought with melancholy delight

of my beloved cousin or longed, with a devouring maladie du pays,

to see once more the blue lake and rapid Rhone, that had been so

dear to me in early childhood; but my general state of feeling

was a torpor in which a prison was as welcome a residence as the

divinest scene in nature; and these fits were seldom interrupted

but by paroxysms of anguish and despair.  At these moments

I often endeavoured to put an end to the existence I loathed,

and it required unceasing attendance and vigilance to restrain

me from committing some dreadful act of violence.

 

Yet one duty remained to me, the recollection of which finally

triumphed over my selfish despair.  It was necessary that I should

return without delay to Geneva, there to watch over the lives of

those I so fondly loved and to lie in wait for the murderer,

that if any chance led me to the place of his concealment,

or if he dared again to blast me by his presence, I might, with

unfailing aim, put an end to the existence of the monstrous image

which  I had endued with the mockery of a soul still more monstrous.

My father still desired to delay our departure, fearful that I could not

sustain the fatigues of a journey, for I was a shattered wreck--

the shadow of a human being.  My strength was gone.  I was a

mere skeleton, and fever night and day preyed upon my wasted frame.

Still, as I urged our leaving Ireland with such inquietude

and impatience, my father thought it best to yield.  We took our

passage on board a vessel bound for Havre-de-Grace and sailed with

a fair wind from the Irish shores.  It was midnight.  I lay on the

deck looking at the stars and listening to the dashing of the waves.

I hailed the darkness that shut Ireland from my sight, and my pulse

beat with a feverish joy when I reflected that I should soon see Geneva.

The past appeared to me in the light of a frightful dream;

yet the vessel in which I was, the wind that blew me from

the detested shore of Ireland, and the sea which surrounded me told

me too forcibly that I was deceived by no vision and that Clerval,

my friend and dearest companion, had fallen a victim to me

and the monster of my creation.  I repassed, in my memory, my whole

life--my quiet happiness while residing with my family in Geneva,

the death of my mother, and my departure for Ingolstadt.

I remembered, shuddering, the mad enthusiasm that hurried me on to

the creation of my hideous enemy, and I called to mind the night in

which he first lived.  I was unable to pursue the train of thought;

a thousand feelings pressed upon me, and I wept bitterly.

Ever since my recovery from the fever I had been in the custom of

taking every night a small quantity of laudanum, for it was by

means of this drug only that I was enabled to gain the rest

necessary for the preservation of life.  Oppressed by the

recollection of my various misfortunes, I now swallowed double my

usual quantity and soon slept profoundly.  But sleep did not afford

me respite from thought and misery; my dreams presented a thousand

objects that scared me.  Towards morning I was possessed by a kind

of nightmare; I felt the fiend's grasp in my neck and could not

free myself from it; groans and cries rang in my ears.  My father,

who was watching over me, perceiving my restlessness, awoke me;

the dashing waves were around, the cloudy sky above, the fiend was

not here: a sense of security, a feeling that a truce was established

between the present hour and the irresistible, disastrous future

imparted to me a kind of calm forgetfulness, of which the human mind

is by its structure peculiarly susceptible.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 22

 

 

The voyage came to an end.  We landed, and proceeded to Paris.

I soon found that I had overtaxed my strength and that I must

repose before I could continue my journey.  My father's care and

attentions were indefatigable, but he did not know the origin of my

sufferings and sought erroneous methods to remedy the incurable ill.

He wished me to seek amusement in society.  I abhorred the face of man.

Oh, not abhorred!  They were my brethren, my fellow beings,

and I felt attracted even to the most repulsive among them,

as to creatures of an angelic nature and celestial mechanism.

But I felt that I had no right to share their intercourse.

I had unchained an enemy among them whose joy it was to shed

their blood and to revel in their groans.  How they would,

each and all, abhor me and hunt me from the world did they know

my unhallowed acts and the crimes which had their source in me!

 

My father yielded at length to my desire to avoid society and

strove by various arguments to banish my despair.  Sometimes he

thought that I felt deeply the degradation of being obliged to

answer a charge of murder, and he endeavoured to prove to me the

futility of pride.

 

"Alas!  My father," said I, "how little do you know me.  Human beings,

their feelings and passions, would indeed be degraded if such a wretch

as I felt pride.  Justine, poor unhappy Justine, was as innocent as I,

and she suffered the same charge; she died for it; and I am the cause

of this--I murdered her.  William, Justine, and Henry--they all died

by my hands."

 

My father had often, during my imprisonment, heard me make the same

assertion; when I thus accused myself, he sometimes seemed to desire

an explanation, and at others he appeared to consider it as the offspring

of delirium, and that, during my illness, some idea of this kind had

presented itself to my imagination, the remembrance of which I preserved

in my convalescence.

 

I avoided explanation and maintained a continual silence concerning

the wretch I had created.  I had a persuasion that I should be

supposed mad, and this in itself would forever have chained my tongue.

But, besides, I could not bring myself to disclose a secret which

would fill my hearer with consternation and make fear and unnatural

horror the inmates of his breast.  I checked, therefore, my impatient

thirst for sympathy and was silent when I would have given the world

to have confided the fatal secret.  Yet, still, words like those

I have recorded would burst uncontrollably from me.  I could offer

no explanation of them, but their truth in part relieved the burden

of my mysterious woe.

Upon this occasion my father said, with an expression of

unbounded wonder, "My dearest Victor, what infatuation is this?

My dear son, I entreat you never to make such an assertion again."

 

"I am not mad," I cried energetically; "the sun and the heavens,

who have viewed my operations, can bear witness of my truth.

I am the assassin of those most innocent victims; they died

by my machinations.  A thousand times would I have shed my

own blood, drop by drop, to have saved their lives; but I

could not, my father, indeed I could not sacrifice the

whole human race."

 

The conclusion of this speech convinced my father that my ideas

were deranged, and he instantly changed the subject of our

conversation and endeavoured to alter the course of my thoughts.

He wished as much as possible to obliterate the memory of the

scenes that had taken place in Ireland and never alluded to them

or suffered me to speak of my misfortunes.

 

As time passed away I became more calm; misery had her dwelling in

my heart, but I no longer talked in the same incoherent manner of

my own crimes; sufficient for me was the consciousness of them.

By the utmost self-violence I curbed the imperious voice of

wretchedness, which sometimes desired to declare itself to the

whole world, and my manners were calmer and more composed than they

had ever been since my journey to the sea of ice.  A few days

before we left Paris on our way to Switzerland, I received the

following letter from Elizabeth:

 

 

     My dear Friend,

 

     It gave me the greatest pleasure to receive a letter from my

uncle dated at Paris; you are no longer at a formidable distance,

and I may hope to see you in less than a fortnight.  My poor

cousin, how much you must have suffered!  I expect to see you

looking even more ill than when you quitted Geneva.  This winter

has been passed most miserably, tortured as I have been by anxious

suspense; yet I hope to see peace in your countenance and to find

that your heart is not totally void of comfort and tranquillity.

 

    Yet I fear that the same feelings now exist that made you so

miserable a year ago, even perhaps augmented by time.  I would not

disturb you at this period, when so many misfortunes weigh upon

you, but a conversation that I had with my uncle previous to his

departure renders some explanation necessary before we meet.  

Explanation!  You may possibly say, What can Elizabeth have to

explain?  If you really say this, my questions are answered and all

my doubts satisfied.  But you are distant from me, and it is

possible that you may dread and yet be pleased with this

explanation; and in a probability of this being the case,

I dare not any longer postpone writing what, during your absence,

I have often wished to express to you but have never had the courage

to begin.

 

     You well know, Victor, that our union had been the favourite

plan of your parents ever since our infancy.  We were told this

when young, and taught to look forward to it as an event that would

certainly take place.  We were affectionate playfellows during

childhood, and, I believe, dear and valued friends to one another

as we grew older. But as brother and sister often entertain a

lively affection towards each other without desiring a more

intimate union, may not such also be our case?  Tell me, dearest

Victor.  Answer me, I conjure you by our mutual happiness, with

simple truth--Do you not love another?

 

     You have travelled; you have spent several years of your life

at Ingolstadt; and I confess to you, my friend, that when I saw you

last autumn so unhappy, flying to solitude from the society of

every creature, I could not help supposing that you might regret

our connection and believe yourself bound in honour to fulfil the

wishes of your parents, although they opposed themselves to your

inclinations.  But this is false reasoning.  I confess to you, my

friend, that I love you and that in my airy dreams of futurity you

have been my constant friend and companion.   But it is your

happiness I desire as well as my own when I declare to you that our

marriage would render me eternally miserable unless it were the

dictate of your own free choice.  Even now I weep to think that,

borne down as you are by the cruellest misfortunes, you may stifle,

by the word "honour," all hope of that love and happiness which

would alone restore you to yourself.  I, who have so 

disinterested an affection for you, may increase your miseries

tenfold by being an obstacle to your wishes.  Ah! Victor, be

assured that your cousin and playmate has too sincere a love for

you not to be made miserable by this supposition.  Be happy, my

friend; and if you obey me in this one request, remain satisfied

that nothing on earth will have the power to interrupt my

tranquillity.

 

     Do not let this letter disturb you; do not answer tomorrow,

or the next day, or even until you come, if it will give you pain.

My uncle will send me news of your health, and if I see but one

smile on your lips when we meet, occasioned by this or any other

exertion of mine, I shall need no other happiness.

 

                                                Elizabeth Lavenza

 

    Geneva, May 18th, 17-

 

 

This letter revived in my memory what I had before forgotten, the

threat of the fiend--"I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING-NIGHT!"

Such was my sentence, and on that night would the daemon employ

every art to destroy me and tear me from the glimpse of happiness

which promised partly to console my sufferings.  On that night

he had determined to consummate his crimes by my death.

Well, be it so; a deadly struggle would then assuredly take place,

in which if he were victorious I should be at peace and his power

over me be at an end.  If he were vanquished, I should be a free man.

Alas!  What freedom?  Such as the peasant enjoys when his family

have been massacred before his eyes, his cottage burnt, his lands

laid waste, and he is turned adrift, homeless, penniless, and alone,

but free. Such would be my liberty except that in my Elizabeth

I possessed a treasure, alas, balanced by those horrors of remorse

and guilt which would pursue me until death.

 

Sweet and beloved Elizabeth!  I read and reread her letter, and

some softened feelings stole into my heart and dared to whisper

paradisiacal dreams of love and joy; but the apple was already

eaten, and the angel's arm bared to drive me from all hope.  Yet I

would die to make her happy.  If the monster executed his threat,

death was inevitable; yet, again, I considered whether my marriage

would hasten my fate.  My destruction might indeed arrive a few

months sooner, but if my torturer should suspect that I postponed it,

influenced by his menaces, he would surely find other and perhaps

more dreadful means of revenge.

 

He had vowed TO BE WITH ME ON MY WEDDING-NIGHT, yet he did not

consider that threat as binding him to peace in the meantime,

for as if to show me that he was not yet satiated with blood,

he had murdered Clerval immediately after the enunciation

of his threats.  I resolved, therefore, that if my immediate

union with my cousin would conduce either to hers or my

father's happiness, my adversary's designs against my life

should not retard it a single hour.

 

In this state of mind I wrote to Elizabeth.  My letter was calm and

affectionate.  "I fear, my beloved girl," I said, "little happiness

remains for us on earth; yet all that I may one day enjoy is centred in you.

Chase away your idle fears; to you alone do I consecrate my life and

my endeavours for contentment.  I have one secret, Elizabeth, a dreadful one;

when revealed to you, it will chill your frame with horror, and then,

far from being surprised at my misery, you will only wonder that

I survive what I have endured.  I will confide this tale of misery

and terror to you the day after our marriage shall take place,

for, my sweet cousin, there must be perfect confidence between us.

But until then, I conjure you, do not mention or allude to it.

This I most earnestly entreat, and I know you will comply."

 

In about a week after the arrival of Elizabeth's letter we

returned to Geneva.  The sweet girl welcomed me with warm affection,

yet tears were in her eyes as she beheld my emaciated frame and

feverish  cheeks.  I saw a change in her also.  She was thinner

and had lost much of that heavenly vivacity that had before charmed me;

but her gentleness and soft looks of compassion made her a more fit

companion for one blasted and miserable as I was.  The tranquillity

which I now enjoyed did not endure.  Memory brought madness with it,

and when I thought of what had passed, a real insanity possessed me;

sometimes I was furious and burnt with rage, sometimes low and despondent.

I neither spoke nor looked at anyone, but sat motionless, bewildered by

the multitude of miseries that overcame me.

 

Elizabeth alone had the power to draw me from these fits; her

gentle voice would soothe me when transported by passion and

inspire me with human feelings when sunk in torpor.  She wept with

me and for me.  When reason returned, she would remonstrate and

endeavour to inspire me with resignation.  Ah!  It is well for the

unfortunate to be resigned, but for the guilty there is no peace.

The agonies of remorse poison the luxury there is otherwise

sometimes found in indulging the excess of grief.  Soon after my

arrival my father spoke of my immediate marriage with Elizabeth.

I remained silent.

 

"Have you, then, some other attachment?"

 

"None on earth.  I love Elizabeth and look forward to our union

with delight.  Let the day therefore be fixed; and on it I will

consecrate myself, in life or death, to the happiness of my cousin."

 

"My dear Victor, do not speak thus.  Heavy misfortunes have

befallen us, but let us only cling closer to what remains and

transfer our love for those whom we have lost to those who yet

live.  Our circle will be small but bound close by the ties of

affection and mutual misfortune.  And when time shall have softened

your despair, new and dear objects of care will be born to replace

those of whom we have been so cruelly deprived."

 

Such were the lessons of my father.  But to me the remembrance of

the threat returned; nor can you wonder that, omnipotent as the

fiend had yet been in his deeds of blood, I should almost regard

him as invincible, and that when he had pronounced the words

"I SHALL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING-NIGHT," I should regard the

threatened fate as unavoidable.  But death was no evil to me if the

loss of Elizabeth were balanced with it, and I therefore, with a

contented and even cheerful countenance, agreed with my father

that if my cousin would consent, the ceremony should take place

in ten days, and thus put, as I imagined, the seal to my fate.

 

Great God!  If for one instant I had thought what might be the

hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have

banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a

friendless outcast over the earth than have consented to this

miserable marriage.  But, as if possessed of magic powers,

the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I

thought that I had prepared only my own death, I hastened that

of a far dearer victim.

 

As the period fixed for our marriage drew nearer, whether from

cowardice or a prophetic feeling, I felt my heart sink within me.

But I concealed my feelings by an appearance of hilarity that

brought smiles and joy to the countenance of my father, but hardly

deceived the everwatchful and nicer eye of Elizabeth.  She looked

forward to our union with placid contentment, not unmingled with a

little fear, which past misfortunes had impressed, that what now

appeared certain and tangible happiness might soon dissipate into

an airy dream and leave no trace but deep and everlasting regret.

Preparations were made for the event, congratulatory visits were

received, and all wore a smiling appearance.  I shut up, as well as

I could, in my own heart the anxiety that preyed there and entered

with seeming earnestness into the plans of my father, although they

might only serve as the decorations of my tragedy.  Through my father's

exertions a part of the inheritance of Elizabeth had been restored

to her by the Austrian government.  A small possession on the shores

of Como belonged to her.  It was agreed that, immediately after our union,

we should proceed to Villa Lavenza and spend our first days of happiness

beside the beautiful lake near which it stood.

 

In the meantime I took every precaution to defend my person in case

the fiend should openly attack me.  I carried pistols and a dagger

constantly about me and was ever on the watch to prevent artifice,

and by these means gained a greater degree of tranquillity.

Indeed, as the period approached, the threat appeared more as

a delusion, not to be regarded as worthy to disturb my peace, while

the happiness I hoped for in my marriage wore a greater appearance

of certainty as the day fixed for its solemnization drew nearer and

I heard it continually spoken of as an occurrence which no accident

could possibly prevent.

 

Elizabeth seemed happy; my tranquil demeanour contributed greatly

to calm her mind.  But on the day that was to fulfil my wishes and

my destiny, she was melancholy, and a presentiment of evil pervaded her;

and perhaps also she thought of the dreadful secret which I had promised

to reveal to her on the following day.  My father was in the meantime

overjoyed and in the bustle of preparation only recognized in the melancholy

of his niece the diffidence of a bride.

 

After the ceremony was performed a large party assembled at my father's,

but it was agreed that Elizabeth and I should commence our journey by water,

sleeping that night at Evian and continuing our voyage on the following day.

The day was fair, the wind favourable; all smiled on our nuptial embarkation.

 

Those were the last moments of my life during which I enjoyed the

feeling of happiness.  We passed rapidly along; the sun was hot,

but we were sheltered from its rays by a kind of canopy while we

enjoyed the beauty of the scene, sometimes on one side of the lake,

where we saw Mont Saleve, the pleasant banks of Montalegre, and at

a distance, surmounting all, the beautiful Mont Blanc and the

assemblage of snowy mountains that in vain endeavour to emulate her;

sometimes coasting the opposite banks, we saw the mighty Jura opposing

its dark side to the ambition that would quit its native country,

and an almost insurmountable barrier to the invader who should wish

to enslave it.

 

I took the hand of Elizabeth.  "You are sorrowful, my love.

Ah!  If you knew what I have suffered and what I may yet endure,

you would endeavour to let me taste the quiet and freedom from despair

that this one day at least permits me to enjoy."

 

"Be happy, my dear Victor," replied Elizabeth; "there is, I hope,

nothing to distress you; and be assured that if a lively joy is not

painted in my face, my heart is contented.  Something whispers to

me not to depend too much on the prospect that is opened before us,

but I will not listen to such a sinister voice.  Observe how fast

we move along and how the clouds, which sometimes obscure and

sometimes rise above the dome of Mont Blanc, render this scene of

beauty still more interesting.  Look also at the innumerable fish

that are swimming in the clear waters, where we can distinguish

every pebble that lies at the bottom.  What a divine day!  How happy

and serene all nature appears!"

 

Thus Elizabeth endeavoured to divert her thoughts and mine from all

reflection upon melancholy subjects.  But her temper was fluctuating;

joy for a few instants shone in her eyes, but it continually gave place

to distraction and reverie.

 

The sun sank lower in the heavens; we passed the river Drance and

observed its path through the chasms of the higher and the glens of

the lower hills.  The Alps here come closer to the lake, and we

approached the amphitheatre of mountains which forms its eastern

boundary.  The spire of Evian shone under the woods that surrounded

it and the range of mountain above mountain by which it was overhung.

 

The wind, which had hitherto carried us along with amazing rapidity,

sank at sunset to a light breeze; the soft air just ruffled the water

and caused a pleasant motion among the trees as we approached the shore,

from which it wafted the most delightful scent of flowers and hay.

The sun sank beneath the horizon as we landed, and as I touched

the shore I felt those cares and fears revive which soon were

to clasp me and cling to me forever.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 23

 

 

It was eight o'clock when we landed; we walked for a short time on

the shore, enjoying the transitory light, and then retired to the inn

and contemplated the lovely scene of waters, woods, and mountains,

obscured in darkness, yet still displaying their black outlines.

 

The wind, which had fallen in the south, now rose with great

violence in the west.  The moon had reached her summit in the

heavens and was beginning to descend; the clouds swept across it

swifter than the flight of the vulture and dimmed her rays, while

the lake reflected the scene of the busy heavens, rendered still

busier by the restless waves that were beginning to rise.

Suddenly a heavy storm of rain descended.

 

I had been calm during the day, but so soon as night obscured

the shapes of objects, a thousand fears arose in my mind.

I was anxious and watchful, while my right hand grasped a pistol

which was hidden in my bosom; every sound terrified me, but I resolved

that I would sell my life dearly and not shrink from the conflict

until my own life or that of my adversary was extinguished.

Elizabeth observed my agitation for some time in timid and

fearful silence, but there was something in my glance which

communicated terror to her, and trembling, she asked, "What is it

that agitates you, my dear Victor?  What is it you fear?"

 

"Oh!  Peace, peace, my love," replied I; "this night, and all will

be safe; but this night is dreadful, very dreadful."

 

I passed an hour in this state of mind, when suddenly I reflected how

fearful the combat which I momentarily expected would be to my wife,

and I earnestly entreated her to retire, resolving not to join her

until I had obtained some knowledge as to the situation of my enemy.

 

She left me, and I continued some time walking up and down the

passages of the house and inspecting every corner that might afford

a retreat to my adversary.  But I discovered no trace of him and

was beginning to conjecture that some fortunate chance had

intervened to prevent the execution of his menaces when suddenly I

heard a shrill and dreadful scream.  It came from the room into

which Elizabeth had retired.  As I heard it, the whole truth rushed

into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre

was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins and

tingling in the extremities of my limbs.  This state lasted but for

an instant; the scream was repeated, and I rushed into the room.

Great God!  Why did I not then expire!  Why am I here to relate the

destruction of the best hope and the purest creature on earth?

She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed,

her head hanging down and her pale and distorted features half

covered by her hair.  Everywhere I turn I see the same figure--

her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier.

Could I behold this and live?  Alas!  Life is obstinate and clings

closest where it is most hated.  For a moment only did I lose recollection;

I fell senseless on the ground.

 

When I recovered I found myself surrounded by the people of the inn;

their countenances expressed a breathless terror, but the horror

of others appeared only as a mockery, a shadow of the feelings

that oppressed me.  I escaped from them to the room where lay

the body of Elizabeth, my love, my wife, so lately living, so

dear, so worthy.  She had been moved from the posture in which

I had first beheld her, and now, as she lay, her head upon her arm

and a handkerchief thrown across her face and neck, I might

have supposed her asleep. I rushed towards her and embraced her

with ardour, but the deadly languor and coldness of the limbs told

me that what I now held in my arms had ceased to be the Elizabeth

whom I had loved and cherished.  The murderous mark of the fiend's

grasp was on her neck, and the breath had ceased to issue from her lips.

While I still hung over her in the agony of despair, I happened to look up.

The windows of the room had before been darkened, and I felt a kind of panic

on seeing the pale yellow light of the moon illuminate the chamber.

The shutters had been thrown back, and with a sensation of horror

not to be described, I saw at the open window a figure the most hideous

and abhorred.  A grin was on the face of the monster; he seemed to jeer,

as with his fiendish finger he pointed towards the corpse of my wife.

I rushed towards the window, and drawing a pistol from my bosom,

fired; but he eluded me, leaped from his station, and running with

the swiftness of lightning, plunged into the lake.

 

The report of the pistol brought a crowd into the room. I pointed

to the spot where he had disappeared, and we followed the track

with boats; nets were cast, but in vain.  After passing several hours,

we returned hopeless, most of my companions believing it to have been

a form conjured up by my fancy.  After having landed, they proceeded

to search the country, parties going in different directions among

the woods and vines.

 

I attempted to accompany them and proceeded a short distance from

the house, but my head whirled round, my steps were like those of

a drunken man, I fell at last in a state of utter exhaustion;

a film covered my eyes, and my skin was parched with the heat

of fever.  In this state I was carried back and placed on a bed,

hardly conscious of what had happened; my eyes wandered round

the room as if to seek something that I had lost.

 

After an interval I arose, and as if by instinct, crawled into the room

where the corpse of my beloved lay.  There were women weeping around;

I hung over it and joined my sad tears to theirs; all this time no

distinct idea presented itself to my mind, but my thoughts rambled

to various subjects, reflecting confusedly on my misfortunes and their cause.

I was bewildered, in a cloud of wonder and horror.  The death of William,

the execution of Justine, the murder of Clerval, and lastly of my wife;

even at that moment I knew not that my only remaining friends were safe

from the malignity of the fiend; my father even now might be writhing

under his grasp, and Ernest might be dead at his feet.  This idea made me

shudder and recalled me to action.  I started up and resolved to return

to Geneva with all possible speed.

 

There were no horses to be procured, and I must return by the lake;

but the wind was unfavourable, and the rain fell in torrents.

However, it was hardly morning, and I might reasonably hope to

arrive by night.  I hired men to row and took an oar myself,

for I had always experienced relief from mental torment in bodily exercise.

But the overflowing misery I now felt, and the excess of agitation that

I endured rendered me incapable of any exertion.  I threw down the oar,

and leaning my head upon my hands, gave way to every gloomy idea that arose.

If I looked up, I saw scenes which were familiar to me in my happier time

and which I had contemplated but the day before in the company of her

who was now but a shadow and a recollection.  Tears streamed from my eyes.

The rain had ceased for a moment, and I saw the fish play in the waters

as they had done a few hours before; they had then been observed by Elizabeth.

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.

The sun might shine or the clouds might lower, but nothing could appear

to me as it had done the day before.  A fiend had snatched from me every

hope of future happiness; no creature had ever been so miserable as I was;

so frightful an event is single in the history of man. But why should I dwell

upon the incidents that followed this last overwhelming event?

Mine has been a tale of horrors; I have reached their acme,

and what I must now relate can but be tedious to you.  Know that,

one by one, my friends were snatched away; I was left desolate.

My own strength is exhausted, and I must tell, in a few words,

what remains of my hideous narration. I arrived at Geneva.

My father and Ernest yet lived, but the former sunk under

the tidings that I bore.  I see him now, excellent and venerable old man!

His eyes wandered in vacancy, for they had lost their charm and

their delight--his Elizabeth, his more than daughter, whom he doted

on with all that affection which a man feels, who in the decline of life,

having few affections, clings more earnestly to those that remain.

Cursed, cursed be the fiend that brought misery on his grey hairs

and doomed him to waste in wretchedness!  He could not live under

the horrors that were accumulated around him; the springs of

existence suddenly gave way; he was unable to rise from his bed,

and in a few days he died in my arms.

 

What then became of me?  I know not; I lost sensation, and chains

and darkness were the only objects that pressed upon me.

Sometimes, indeed, I dreamt that I wandered in flowery meadows and

pleasant vales with the friends of my youth, but I awoke and found

myself in a dungeon.  Melancholy followed, but by degrees I gained

a clear conception of my miseries and situation and was then

released from my prison.  For they had called me mad, and during

many months, as I understood, a solitary cell had been my habitation.

 

Liberty, however, had been a useless gift to me, had I not, as I

awakened to reason, at the same time awakened to revenge.  As the

memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I began to reflect on

their cause--the monster whom I had created, the miserable daemon

whom I had sent abroad into the world for my destruction.  I was

possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of him, and desired

and ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to wreak

a great and signal revenge on his cursed head.

 

Nor did my hate long confine itself to useless wishes; I began to

reflect on the best means of securing him; and for this purpose,

about a month after my release, I repaired to a criminal judge in

the town and told him that I had an accusation to make, that I knew

the destroyer of my family, and that I required him to exert his

whole authority for the apprehension of the murderer.  The magistrate

listened to me with attention and kindness.

 

"Be assured, sir," said he, "no pains or exertions on my part shall

be spared to discover the villain."

 

"I thank you," replied I; "listen, therefore, to the deposition

that I have to make.  It is indeed a tale so strange that I should

fear you would not credit it were there not something in truth which,

however wonderful, forces conviction.  The story is too connected

to be mistaken for a dream, and I have no motive for falsehood."

My manner as I thus addressed him was impressive but calm;

I had formed in my own heart a resolution to pursue my destroyer to death,

and this purpose quieted my agony and for an interval reconciled me to life.

I now related my history briefly but with firmness and precision,

marking the dates with accuracy and never deviating into invective

or exclamation.

The magistrate appeared at first perfectly incredulous, but as I

continued he became more attentive and interested; I saw him

sometimes shudder with horror; at others a lively surprise,

unmingled with disbelief, was painted on his countenance.

When I had concluded my narration I said, "This is the being whom

I accuse and for whose seizure and punishment I call upon you to

exert your whole power.  It is your duty as a magistrate, and I

believe and hope that your feelings as a man will not revolt from

the execution of those functions on this occasion."  This address

caused a considerable change in the physiognomy of my own auditor.

He had heard my story with that half kind of belief that is given

to a tale of spirits and supernatural events; but when he was

called upon to act officially in consequence, the whole tide of his

incredulity returned.  He, however, answered mildly, "I would

willingly afford you every aid in your pursuit, but the creature of

whom you speak appears to have powers which would put all my

exertions to defiance.  Who can follow an animal which can traverse

the sea of ice and inhabit caves and dens where no man would

venture to intrude?  Besides, some months have elapsed since the

commission of his crimes, and no one can conjecture to what place

he has wandered or what region he may now inhabit."

 

"I do not doubt that he hovers near the spot which I inhabit,

and if he has indeed taken refuge in the Alps, he may be hunted

like the chamois and destroyed as a beast of prey.  But I perceive

your thoughts; you do not credit my narrative and do not intend

to pursue my enemy with the punishment which is his desert."

As I spoke, rage sparkled in my eyes; the magistrate was intimidated.

"You are mistaken," said he.  "I will exert myself, and if it is in

my power to seize the monster, be assured that he shall suffer

punishment proportionate to his crimes.  But I fear, from what you

have yourself described to be his properties, that this will prove

impracticable; and thus, while every proper measure is pursued,

you should make up your mind to disappointment."

 

"That cannot be; but all that I can say will be of little avail.

My revenge is of no moment to you; yet, while I allow it to be a vice,

I confess that it is the devouring and only passion of my soul.

My rage is unspeakable when I reflect that the murderer,

whom I have turned loose upon society, still exists.

You refuse my just demand; I have but one resource,

and I devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction."

 

I trembled with excess of agitation as I said this; there was a

frenzy in my manner, and something, I doubt not, of that haughty

fierceness which the martyrs of old are said to have possessed.

But to a Genevan magistrate, whose mind was occupied by far other

ideas than those of devotion and heroism, this elevation of mind

had much the appearance of madness.  He endeavoured to soothe me as

a nurse does a child and reverted to my tale as the effects of delirium.

 

"Man," I cried, "how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!

Cease; you know not what it is you say."

 

I broke from the house angry and disturbed and retired to meditate

on some other mode of action.

 

 

 

Chapter 24

 

 

My present situation was one in which all voluntary thought was

swallowed up and lost.  I was hurried away by fury; revenge alone

endowed me with strength and composure; it moulded my feelings and

allowed me to be calculating and calm at periods when otherwise

delirium or death would have been my portion.

 

My first resolution was to quit Geneva forever; my country, which,

when I was happy and beloved, was dear to me, now, in my adversity,

became hateful.  I provided myself with a sum of money, together

with a few jewels which had belonged to my mother, and departed.

And now my wanderings began which are to cease but with life.

I have traversed a vast portion of the earth and have endured all

the hardships which travellers in deserts and barbarous countries

are wont to meet.  How I have lived I hardly know; many times have

I stretched my failing limbs upon the sandy plain and prayed for death.

But revenge kept me alive; I dared not die and leave my adversary in being.

 

When I quitted Geneva my first labour was to gain some clue by

which I might trace the steps of my fiendish enemy.  But my plan

was unsettled, and I wandered many hours round the confines of the

town, uncertain what path I should pursue.  As night approached I

found myself at the entrance of the cemetery where William,

Elizabeth, and my father reposed.  I entered it and approached the

tomb which marked their graves.  Everything was silent except the

leaves of the trees, which were gently agitated by the wind; the

night was nearly dark, and the scene would have been solemn and

affecting even to an uninterested observer.  The spirits of the

departed seemed to flit around and to cast a shadow, which was felt

but not seen, around the head of the mourner.

 

The deep grief which this scene had at first excited quickly gave

way to rage and despair.  They were dead, and I lived; their murderer

also lived, and to destroy him I must drag out my weary existence.

I knelt on the grass and kissed the earth and with quivering lips

exclaimed, "By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades

that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel,

I swear; and by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee,

to pursue the daemon who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish

in mortal conflict.  For this purpose I will preserve my life;

to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the

green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever.

And I call on you, spirits of the dead, and on you, wandering ministers

of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work.  Let the cursed and

hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that

now torments me."  I had begun my adjuration with solemnity

and an awe which almost assured me that the shades of my murdered

friends heard and approved my devotion, but the furies possessed me

as I concluded, and rage choked my utterance.

 

I was answered through the stillness of night by a loud and

fiendish laugh.  It rang on my ears long and heavily; the

mountains re-echoed it, and I felt as if all hell surrounded me

with mockery and laughter.  Surely in that moment I should have

been possessed by frenzy and have destroyed my miserable existence

but that my vow was heard and that I was reserved for vengeance.

The laughter died away, when a well-known and abhorred voice,

apparently close to my ear, addressed me in an audible whisper,

"I am satisfied, miserable wretch!  You have determined to live,

and I am satisfied."

 

I darted towards the spot from which the sound proceeded, but the

devil eluded my grasp.  Suddenly the broad disk of the moon arose

and shone full upon his ghastly and distorted shape as he fled with

more than mortal speed.

 

I pursued him, and for many months this has been my task.  Guided

by a slight clue, I followed the windings of the Rhone, but vainly.

The blue Mediterranean appeared, and by a strange chance, I saw the

fiend enter by night and hide himself in a vessel bound for the

Black Sea.  I took my passage in the same ship, but he escaped,

I know not how.

 

Amidst the wilds of Tartary and Russia, although he still evaded me,

I have ever followed in his track.  Sometimes the peasants, scared

by this horrid apparition, informed me of his path; sometimes he himself,

who feared that if I lost all trace of him I should despair and die,

left some mark to guide me.  The snows descended on my head,

and I saw the print of his huge step on the white plain.

To you first entering on life, to whom care is new and agony unknown,

how can you understand what I have felt and still feel?  Cold, want,

and fatigue were the least pains which I was destined to endure;

I was cursed by some devil and carried about with me my eternal hell;

yet still a spirit of good followed and directed my steps and when

I most murmured would suddenly extricate me from seemingly insurmountable

difficulties.  Sometimes, when nature, overcome by hunger, sank under

the exhaustion, a repast was prepared for me in the desert that

restored and inspirited me.  The fare was, indeed, coarse, such as

the peasants of the country ate, but I will not doubt that it was

set there by the spirits that I had invoked to aid me.  Often, when

all was dry, the heavens cloudless, and I was parched by thirst,

a slight cloud would bedim the sky, shed the few drops that

revived me, and vanish.

 

I followed, when I could, the courses of the rivers; but the daemon

generally avoided these, as it was here that the population of the

country chiefly collected.  In other places human beings were

seldom seen, and I generally subsisted on the wild animals that

crossed my path.  I had money with me and gained the friendship of

the villagers by distributing it; or I brought with me some food

that I had killed, which, after taking a small part, I always presented

to those who had provided me with fire and utensils for cooking.

 

My life, as it passed thus, was indeed hateful to me, and it was

during sleep alone that I could taste joy.  O blessed sleep!

Often, when most miserable, I sank to repose, and my dreams lulled

me even to rapture.  The spirits that guarded me had provided these

moments, or rather hours, of happiness that I might retain strength

to fulfil my pilgrimage.  Deprived of this respite, I should have

sunk under my hardships.  During the day I was sustained and inspirited

by the hope of night, for in sleep I saw my friends, my wife,

and my beloved country; again I saw the benevolent countenance of my father,

heard the silver tones of my Elizabeth's voice, and beheld Clerval

enjoying health and youth.  Often, when wearied by a toilsome march,

I persuaded myself that I was dreaming until night should come

and that I should then enjoy reality in the arms of my dearest friends.

What agonizing fondness did I feel for them!  How did I cling to their

dear forms, as sometimes they haunted even my waking hours, and persuade

myself that they still lived!  At such moments vengeance, that burned

within me, died in my heart, and I pursued my path towards the destruction

of the daemon more as a task enjoined by heaven, as the mechanical

impulse of some power of which I was unconscious, than as the ardent

desire of my soul.  What his feelings were whom I pursued I cannot know.

Sometimes, indeed, he left marks in writing on the barks of the trees

or cut in stone that guided me and instigated my fury.  "My reign is not

yet over"--these words were legible in one of these inscriptions--

"you live, and my power is complete.  Follow me; I seek the everlasting

ices of the north, where you will feel the misery of cold and frost,

to which I am impassive.  You will find near this place, if you follow

not too tardily, a dead hare; eat and be refreshed.  Come on, my enemy;

we have yet to wrestle for our lives, but many hard and miserable hours

must you endure until that period shall arrive."

 

Scoffing devil!  Again do I vow vengeance; again do I devote thee,

miserable fiend, to torture and death.  Never will I give up my

search until he or I perish; and then with what ecstasy shall I

join my Elizabeth and my departed friends, who even now prepare

for me the reward of my tedious toil and horrible pilgrimage!

 

As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snows thickened

and the cold increased in a degree almost too severe to support.

The peasants were shut up in their hovels, and only a few of

the most hardy ventured forth to seize the animals whom starvation

had forced from their hiding-places to seek for prey.

The rivers were covered with ice, and no fish could be procured;

and thus I was cut off from my chief article of maintenance.

The triumph of my enemy increased with the difficulty of my labours.

One inscription that he left was in these words:  "Prepare!  Your toils

only begin; wrap yourself in furs and provide food, for we shall soon enter

upon a journey where your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred."

 

My courage and perseverance were invigorated by these scoffing words;

I resolved not to fail in my purpose, and calling on heaven to support me,

I continued with unabated fervour to traverse immense deserts, until the ocean

appeared at a distance and formed the utmost boundary of the horizon.

Oh!  How unlike it was to the blue seasons of the south!  Covered with ice,

it was only to be distinguished from land by its superior wildness

and ruggedness.  The Greeks wept for joy when they beheld the

Mediterranean from the hills of Asia, and hailed with rapture

the boundary of their toils.  I did not weep, but I knelt down

and with a full heart thanked my guiding spirit for conducting me

in safety to the place where I hoped, notwithstanding my adversary's gibe,

to meet and grapple with him.

 

Some weeks before this period I had procured a sledge and dogs

and thus traversed the snows with inconceivable speed.  I know not

whether the fiend possessed the same advantages, but I found that,

as before I had daily lost ground in the pursuit, I now gained on him,

so much so that when I first saw the ocean he was but one day's journey

in advance, and I hoped to intercept him before he should reach the beach.

With new courage, therefore, I pressed on, and in two days arrived at

a wretched hamlet on the seashore.  I inquired of the inhabitants

concerning the fiend and gained accurate information.  A gigantic monster,

they said, had arrived the night before, armed with a gun and many pistols,

putting to flight the inhabitants of a solitary cottage through fear

of his terrific appearance.  He had carried off their store of winter food,

and placing it in a sledge, to draw which he had seized on a numerous drove

of trained dogs, he had harnessed them, and the same night, to the joy

of the horror-struck villagers, had pursued his journey across the sea

in a direction that led to no land; and they conjectured that he must

speedily be destroyed by the breaking of the ice or frozen by

the eternal  frosts.

 

On hearing this information I suffered a temporary access of despair.

He had escaped me, and I must commence a destructive and almost

endless journey across the mountainous ices of the ocean,

amidst cold that few of the inhabitants could long endure and which I,

the native of a genial and sunny climate, could not hope to survive.

Yet at the idea that the fiend should live and be triumphant, my rage

and vengeance returned, and like a mighty tide, overwhelmed every other

feeling.  After a slight repose, during which the spirits of the dead

hovered round and instigated me to toil and revenge, I prepared for my journey.

I exchanged my land-sledge for one fashioned for the inequalities of the

frozen ocean, and purchasing a plentiful stock of provisions,

I departed from land.

 

I cannot guess how many days have passed since then, but I have

endured misery which nothing but the eternal sentiment of a just

retribution burning within my heart could have enabled me to support.

Immense and rugged mountains of ice often barred up my passage,

and I often heard the thunder of the ground sea, which threatened

my destruction.  But again the frost came and made the paths

of the sea secure.

 

By the quantity of provision which I had consumed, I should guess

that I had passed three weeks in this journey; and the continual

protraction of hope, returning back upon the heart, often wrung

bitter drops of despondency and grief from my eyes.  Despair had

indeed almost secured her prey, and I should soon have sunk beneath

this misery.  Once, after the poor animals that conveyed me had

with incredible toil gained the summit of a sloping ice mountain,

and one, sinking under his fatigue, died, I viewed the expanse

before me with anguish, when suddenly my eye caught a dark speck

upon the dusky plain.  I strained my sight to discover what it

could be and uttered a wild cry of ecstasy when I distinguished

a sledge and the distorted proportions of a well-known form within.

Oh!  With what a burning gush did hope revisit my heart!  Warm tears

filled my eyes, which I hastily wiped away, that they might not intercept

the view I had of the daemon; but still my sight was dimmed by the burning

drops, until, giving way to the emotions that oppressed me, I wept aloud.

 

But this was not the time for delay; I disencumbered the dogs o

f their dead companion, gave them a plentiful portion of food,

and after an hour's rest, which was absolutely necessary, and yet

which was bitterly irksome to me, I continued my route.  The sledge

was still visible, nor did I again lose sight of it except at the

moments when for a short time some ice-rock concealed it with its

intervening crags.  I indeed perceptibly gained on it, and when,

after nearly two days' journey, I beheld my enemy at no more than

a mile distant, my heart bounded within me.

 

But now, when I appeared almost within grasp of my foe, my hopes

were suddenly extinguished, and I lost all trace of him more

utterly than I had ever done before.  A ground sea was heard;

the thunder of its progress, as the waters rolled and swelled

beneath me, became every moment more ominous and terrific.

I pressed on, but in vain.  The wind arose; the sea roared; and, as

with the mighty shock of an earthquake, it split and cracked with

a tremendous and overwhelming sound.  The work was soon finished;

in a few minutes a tumultuous sea rolled between me and my enemy,

and I was left drifting on a scattered piece of ice that was

continually lessening and thus preparing for me a hideous death.

In this manner many appalling hours passed; several of my dogs died,

and I myself was about to sink under the accumulation of distress

when I saw your vessel riding at anchor and holding forth to me

hopes of succour and life.  I had no conception that vessels

ever came so far north and was astounded at the sight.  I quickly

destroyed part of my sledge to construct oars, and by these means

was enabled, with infinite fatigue, to move my ice raft in the

direction of your ship.  I had determined, if you were going

southwards, still to trust myself to the mercy of the seas rather

than abandon my purpose.  I hoped to induce you to grant me a boat

with which I could pursue my enemy.  But your direction was northwards.

You took me on board when my vigour was exhausted, and I should soon

have sunk under my multiplied hardships into a death which I still dread,

for my task is unfulfilled.

 

Oh!  When will my guiding spirit, in conducting me to the daemon,

allow me the rest I so much desire; or must I die, and he yet live?

If I do, swear to me, Walton, that he shall not escape, that you

will seek him and satisfy my vengeance in his death.  And do I dare

to ask of you to undertake my pilgrimage, to endure the hardships

that I have undergone?  No; I am not so selfish.  Yet, when I am dead,

if he should appear, if the ministers of vengeance should conduct him

to you, swear that he shall not live--swear that he shall not triumph

over my accumulated woes and survive to add to the list of his dark crimes.

He is eloquent and persuasive, and once his words had even power over my heart;

but trust him not.  His soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery

and fiendlike malice.  Hear him not; call on the names of William, Justine,

Clerval, Elizabeth, my father, and of the wretched Victor, and thrust

your sword into his heart.  I will hover near and direct the steel aright.

 

 

               Walton, in continuation.

 

                                                August 26th, 17-

 

 

You have read this strange and terrific story, Margaret; and do you

not feel your blood congeal with horror, like that which even now

curdles mine?  Sometimes, seized with sudden agony, he could not

continue his tale; at others, his voice broken, yet piercing,

uttered with difficulty the words so replete with anguish.

His fine and lovely eyes were now lighted up with indignation,

now subdued to downcast sorrow and quenched in infinite wretchedness.

Sometimes he commanded his countenance and tones and related

the most horrible incidents with a tranquil voice, suppressing every

mark of agitation; then, like a volcano bursting forth, his face would

suddenly change to an expression of the wildest rage as he shrieked out

imprecations on his persecutor.

His tale is connected and told with an appearance of the simplest truth,

yet I own to you that the letters of Felix and Safie, which he showed me,

and the apparition of the monster seen from our ship, brought to me a greater

conviction of the truth of his narrative than his asseverations,

however earnest and connected.  Such a monster has, then, really existence!

I cannot doubt it, yet I am lost in surprise and admiration.  Sometimes I

endeavoured to gain from Frankenstein the particulars of his creature's

formation, but on this point he was impenetrable. "Are you mad, my friend?"

said he.  "Or whither does your senseless curiosity lead you?  Would you

also create for yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy?  Peace, peace!

Learn my miseries and do not seek to increase your own."  Frankenstein

discovered that I made notes concerning his history; he asked to see them

and then himself corrected and augmented them in many places,

but principally in giving the life and spirit to the conversations

he held with his enemy.  "Since you have preserved my narration,"

said he, "I would not that a mutilated one should go down to posterity."

 

Thus has a week passed away, while I have listened to the strangest

tale that ever imagination formed.  My thoughts and every feeling

of my soul have been drunk up by the interest for my guest which this tale

and his own elevated and gentle manners have created.  I wish to soothe him,

yet can I counsel one so infinitely miserable, so destitute of every hope

of consolation, to live?  Oh, no!  The only joy that he can now know will

be when he composes his shattered spirit to peace and death.  Yet he enjoys

one comfort, the offspring of solitude and delirium; he believes that when

in dreams he holds converse with his friends and derives from that communion

consolation for his miseries or excitements to his vengeance, that they are

not the creations of his fancy, but the beings themselves who visit him from

the regions of a remote world.  This faith gives a solemnity to his reveries

that render them to me almost as imposing and interesting as truth.

 

Our conversations are not always confined to his own history and misfortunes.

On every point of general literature he displays unbounded knowledge

and a quick and piercing apprehension.  His eloquence is forcible and touching;

nor can I hear him, when he relates a pathetic incident or endeavours to move

the passions of pity or love, without tears.  What a glorious creature must

he have been in the days of his prosperity, when he is thus noble and godlike

in ruin!  He seems to feel his own worth and the greatness of his fall.

 

"When younger," said he, "I believed myself destined for some

great enterprise.  My feelings are profound, but I possessed

a  coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious achievements.

This sentiment of the worth of my nature supported me when others

would have been oppressed, for I deemed it criminal to throw away

in useless grief those talents that might be useful to my fellow

creatures.  When I reflected on the work I had completed, no less

a one than the creation of a sensitive and rational animal, I could

not rank myself with the herd of common projectors.  But this thought,

which supported me in the commencement of my career, now serves only

to plunge me lower in the dust.  All my speculations and hopes are

as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence,

I am chained in an eternal hell.  My imagination was vivid,

yet my powers of analysis and application were intense;

by the union of these qualities I conceived the idea and executed

the creation of a man.  Even now I cannot recollect without passion

my reveries while the work was incomplete.  I trod heaven in my thoughts,

now exulting in my powers, now burning with the idea of their effects.

From my infancy I was imbued with high hopes and a lofty ambition;

but how am I sunk!  Oh!  My friend, if you had known me as I once was,

you would not recognize me in this state of degradation.  Despondency

rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed to bear me on, until I fell,

never, never again to rise."  Must I then lose this admirable being?

I have longed for a friend; I have sought one who would sympathize

with and love me.  Behold, on these desert seas I have found such a one,

but I fear I have gained him only to know his value and lose him.

I would reconcile him to life, but he repulses the idea.

 

"I thank you, Walton," he said, "for your kind intentions towards

so miserable a wretch; but when you speak of new ties and fresh

affections, think you that any can replace those who are gone?

Can any man be to me as Clerval was, or any woman another Elizabeth?

Even where the affections are not strongly moved by any superior

excellence, the companions of our childhood always possess a certain

power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain.

They know our infantine dispositions, which, however they may

be afterwards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge

of our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity

of our motives.  A sister or a brother can never, unless indeed

such symptoms have been shown early, suspect the other of fraud

or false dealing, when another friend, however strongly he may

be attached, may, in spite of himself, be contemplated with suspicion.

But I enjoyed friends, dear not only through habit and association,

but from their own merits; and wherever I am, the soothing voice

of my Elizabeth and the conversation of Clerval will be ever whispered

in my ear. They are dead, and but one feeling in such a solitude

can persuade me to preserve my life.  If I were engaged in any high

undertaking or design, fraught with extensive utility to my fellow

creatures, then could I live to fulfil it.  But such is not my destiny;

I must pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence;

then my lot on earth will be fulfilled and I may die."

 

 

My beloved Sister,                                  September 2nd

 

 

I write to you, encompassed by peril and ignorant whether I am ever

doomed to see again dear England and the dearer friends that inhabit it.

I am surrounded by mountains of ice which admit of no escape and threaten

every moment to crush my vessel.  The brave fellows whom I have persuaded

to be my companions look towards me for aid, but I have none to bestow.

There is something terribly appalling in our situation, yet my courage

and hopes do not desert me.  Yet it is terrible to reflect that the lives

of all these men are endangered through me.  If we are lost, my mad schemes

are the cause.

 

And what, Margaret, will be the state of your mind?  You will not

hear of my destruction, and you will anxiously await my return.

Years will pass, and you will have visitings of despair and yet be

tortured by hope.  Oh!  My beloved sister, the sickening failing of

your heart-felt expectations is, in prospect, more terrible to me

than my own death.

 

But you have a husband and lovely children; you may be happy.

Heaven bless you and make you so!

 

My unfortunate guest regards me with the tenderest compassion.

He endeavours to fill me with hope and talks as if life were a

possession which he valued.  He reminds me how often the same

accidents have happened to other navigators who have attempted this sea,

and in spite of myself, he fills me with cheerful auguries.

Even the sailors feel the power of his eloquence; when he speaks,

they no longer despair; he rouses their energies, and while they

hear his voice they believe these vast mountains of ice are mole-

hills which will vanish before the resolutions of man.  These

feelings are transitory; each day of expectation delayed fills them

with fear, and I almost dread a mutiny caused by this despair.  

 

 

 

September 5th

 

 

A scene has just passed of such uncommon interest that,

although it is highly probable that these papers may never reach you,

yet I cannot forbear recording it.

 

We are still surrounded by mountains of ice, still in imminent

danger of being crushed in their conflict.  The cold is excessive,

and many of my unfortunate comrades have already found a grave

amidst this scene of desolation.  Frankenstein has daily declined

in health; a feverish fire still glimmers in his eyes, but he is

exhausted, and when suddenly roused to any exertion, he speedily

sinks again into apparent lifelessness.

 

I mentioned in my last letter the fears I entertained of a mutiny.

This morning, as I sat watching the wan countenance of my friend--

his eyes half closed and his limbs hanging listlessly--I was roused

by half a dozen of the sailors, who demanded admission into the cabin.

They entered, and their leader addressed me.  He told me that he

and his companions had been chosen by the other sailors

to come in deputation to me to make me a requisition which,

in justice, I could not refuse.  We were immured in ice and should

probably never escape, but they feared that if, as was possible,

the ice should dissipate and a free passage be opened, I should be

rash enough to continue my voyage and lead them into fresh dangers,

after they might happily have surmounted this.  They insisted,

therefore, that I should engage with a solemn promise that if the

vessel should be freed I would instantly direct my course southwards.

 

This speech troubled me.  I had not despaired, nor had I yet

conceived the idea of returning if set free.  Yet could I,

in justice, or even in possibility, refuse this demand?

I hesitated before I answered, when Frankenstein, who had at first

been silent, and indeed appeared hardly to have force enough

to attend, now roused himself; his eyes sparkled, and his cheeks

flushed with momentary vigour.  Turning towards the men, he said,

"What do you mean?  What do you demand of your captain?  Are you, then,

so easily turned from your design?  Did you not call this a glorious

expedition?

 

"And wherefore was it glorious?  Not because the way was smooth and

placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and

terror, because at every new incident your fortitude was to be

called forth and your courage exhibited, because danger and death

surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome.  For this

was it a glorious, for this was it an honourable undertaking.

You were hereafter to be hailed as the benefactors of your species,

your names adored as belonging to brave men who encountered death

for honour and the benefit of mankind. And now, behold, with the

first imagination of danger, or, if you will, the first mighty and

terrific trial of your courage, you shrink away and are content to

be handed down as men who had not strength enough to endure cold

and peril; and so, poor souls, they were chilly and returned to

their warm - firesides.  Why, that requires not this preparation;

ye need not have come thus far and dragged your captain to the

shame of a defeat merely to prove yourselves cowards.  Oh!  Be men,

or be more than men.  Be steady to your purposes and firm as a

rock. This ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts may be; it

is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not.

Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked

on your brows.  Return as heroes who have fought and conquered and

who know not what it is to turn their backs on the foe."  He spoke

this with a voice so modulated to the different feelings expressed

in his speech, with an eye so full of lofty design and heroism,

that can you wonder that these men were moved?  They looked at one

another and were unable to reply.  I spoke; I told them to retire

and consider of what had been said, that I would not lead them

farther north if they strenuously desired the contrary, but that

I hoped that, with reflection, their courage would return.

They retired and I turned towards my friend, but he was sunk

in languor and almost deprived of life.

 

How all this will terminate, I know not, but I had rather die than

return shamefully, my purpose unfulfilled.  Yet I fear such will be

my fate; the men, unsupported by ideas of glory and honour, can

never willingly continue to endure their present hardships.

 

 

 

September 7th

 

 

The die is cast; I have consented to return if we are not

destroyed.  Thus are my hopes blasted by cowardice and indecision;

I come back ignorant and disappointed.  It requires more philosophy

than I possess to bear this injustice with patience.

 

 

 

September 12th

 

 

It is past; I am returning to England.  I have lost my hopes of

utility and glory; I have lost my friend.  But I will endeavour to

detail these bitter circumstances to you, my dear sister; and while

I am wafted towards England and towards you, I will not despond.

 

 

 

September 9th,

 

 

The ice began to move, and roarings like thunder were heard at

a distance as the islands split and cracked in every direction.

We were in the most imminent peril, but as we could only remain

passive, my chief attention was occupied by my unfortunate guest

whose illness increased in such a degree that he was entirely

confined to his bed.  The ice cracked behind us and was driven with

force towards the north; a breeze sprang from the west, and on the

11th the passage towards the south became perfectly free.  When the

sailors saw this and that their return to their native country was

apparently assured, a shout of tumultuous joy broke from them,

loud and long-continued.  Frankenstein, who was dozing, awoke and

asked the cause of the tumult.  "They shout," I said, "because they

will soon return to England."

 

"Do you, then, really return?"

 

"Alas!  Yes; I cannot withstand their demands.  I cannot lead them

unwillingly to danger, and I must return."

 

"Do so, if you will; but I will not.  You may give up your purpose,

but mine is assigned to me by heaven, and I dare not.  I am weak,

but surely the spirits who assist my vengeance will endow me with

sufficient strength."  Saying this, he endeavoured to spring from the bed,

but the exertion was too great for him; he fell back and fainted.

 

It was long before he was restored, and I often thought that life

was entirely extinct.  At length he opened his eyes; he breathed

with difficulty and was unable to speak.  The surgeon gave him a

composing draught and ordered us to leave him undisturbed. In the

meantime he told me that my friend had certainly not many hours to live.

 

His sentence was pronounced, and I could only grieve and be patient.

I sat by his bed, watching him; his eyes were closed, and I thought

he slept; but presently he called to me in a feeble voice, and bidding

me come near, said, "Alas!  The strength I relied on is gone; I feel that

I shall soon die, and he, my enemy and persecutor, may still be in being.

Think not, Walton, that in the last moments of my existence I feel that

burning hatred and ardent desire of revenge I once expressed; but I feel

myself justified in desiring the death of my adversary.  During these last

days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find

it blamable.  In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational

creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power,

his happiness and well-being.

 

This was my duty, but there was another still paramount to that.

My duties towards the beings of my own species had greater claims

to my attention because they included a greater proportion of

happiness or misery.  Urged by this view, I refused, and I did

right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature.

He showed unparalleled malignity and selfishness in evil;

he destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who

possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I

know where this thirst for vengeance may end.  Miserable himself

that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die.

The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.

When actuated by selfish and vicious motives, I asked you

to undertake my unfinished work, and I renew this request now,

when I am only induced by reason and virtue.

 

"Yet I cannot ask you to renounce your country and friends to fulfil

this task; and now that you are returning to England, you will have

little chance of meeting with him.  But the consideration of these points,

and the well balancing of what you may esteem your duties, I leave to you;

my judgment and ideas are already disturbed by the near approach of death.

I dare not ask you to do what I think right, for I may still be misled

by passion.

 

"That he should live to be an instrument of mischief disturbs me;

in other respects, this hour, when I momentarily expect my release,

is the only happy one which I have enjoyed for several years.

The forms of the beloved dead flit before me, and I hasten to their arms.

Farewell, Walton!  Seek happiness in tranquillity and avoid ambition,

even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing

yourself in science and discoveries.  Yet why do I say this?

I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed."

 

His voice became fainter as he spoke, and at length, exhausted by

his effort, he sank into silence.  About half an hour afterwards he

attempted again to speak but was unable; he pressed my hand feebly,

and his eyes closed forever, while the irradiation of a gentle

smile passed away from his lips.

 

Margaret, what comment can I make on the untimely extinction of

this glorious spirit?  What can I say that will enable you to

understand the depth of my sorrow?  All that I should express would

be inadequate and feeble.  My tears flow; my mind is overshadowed

by a cloud of disappointment.  But I journey towards England,

and I may there find consolation.

 

I am interrupted.  What do these sounds portend?  It is midnight;

the breeze blows fairly, and the watch on deck scarcely stir.

Again there is a sound as of a human voice, but hoarser; it comes

from the cabin where the remains of Frankenstein still lie.

I must arise and examine.  Good night, my sister.

 

Great God! what a scene has just taken place!  I am yet dizzy

with the remembrance of it.  I hardly know whether I shall have

the power to detail it; yet the tale which I have recorded would be

incomplete without this final and wonderful catastrophe. I entered

the cabin where lay the remains of my ill-fated and admirable friend.

Over him hung a form which I cannot find words to describe--gigantic

in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions.

As he hung over the coffin, his face was concealed by long locks

of ragged hair; but one vast hand was extended, in colour and apparent

texture like that of a mummy.  When he heard the sound of my approach,

he ceased to utterexclamations of grief and horror and sprung towards

the window.  Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face,

of such loathsome yet appalling hideousness.  I shut my eyes

involuntarily and endeavoured to recollect what were my duties

with regard to this destroyer.  I called on him to stay.

 

He paused, looking on me with wonder, and again turning towards

the lifeless form of his creator, he seemed to forget my presence,

and every feature and gesture seemed instigated by the wildest rage

of some uncontrollable passion.

 

"That is also my victim!" he exclaimed.  "In his murder my crimes are

consummated; the miserable series of my being is wound to its close!

Oh, Frankenstein!  Generous and self-devoted being!  What does it avail

that I now ask thee to pardon me?  I, who irretrievably destroyed thee

by destroying all thou lovedst.  Alas!  He is cold, he cannot answer me."

His voice seemed suffocated, and my first impulses, which had

suggested to me the duty of obeying the dying request of my friend

in destroying his enemy, were now suspended by a mixture of

curiosity and compassion.  I approached this tremendous being;

I dared not again raise my eyes to his face, there was something

so scaring and unearthly in his ugliness.  I attempted to speak,

but the words died away on my lips.  The monster continued to utter

wild and incoherent self-reproaches.  At length I gathered resolution

to address him in a pause of the tempest of his passion.

 

"Your repentance," I said, "is now superfluous. If you had listened

to the voice of conscience and heeded the stings of remorse before

you had urged your diabolical vengeance to this extremity, Frankenstein

would yet have lived."

 

"And do you dream?" said the daemon.  "Do you think that I was then

dead to agony and remorse?  He," he continued, pointing to the corpse,

"he suffered not in the consummation of the deed. Oh!  Not the

ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the

lingering detail of its execution.  A frightful selfishness

hurried me on, while my heart was poisoned with remorse.

Think you that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears?

My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy,

and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure

the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine.

 

"After the murder of Clerval I returned to Switzerland,

heart-broken and overcome.  I pitied Frankenstein; my pity

amounted to horror; I abhorred myself.  But when I discovered that he,

the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments,

dared to hope for happiness, that while he accumulated wretchedness

and despair upon me he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions

from the indulgence of which I was forever barred, then impotent envy

and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance.

I recollected my threat and resolved that it should be accomplished.

I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadly torture, but I was the slave,

not the master, of an impulse which I detested yet could not disobey.

Yet when she died!  Nay, then I was not miserable.  I had cast off all feeling,

subdued all anguish, to riot in the excess of my despair.  Evil thenceforth

became my good.  Urged thus far, I had no choice but to adapt my nature to an

element which I had willingly chosen.  The completion of my demoniacal design

became an insatiable passion.  And now it is ended; there is my last victim!"

 

I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet,

when I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his powers of

eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast my eyes on the

lifeless form of my friend, indignation was rekindled within me.

"Wretch!" I said.  "It is well that you come here to whine over the

desolation that you have made.  You throw a torch into a pile of

buildings, and when they are consumed, you sit among the ruins and

lament the fall.  Hypocritical fiend!  If he whom you mourn still lived,

still would he be the object, again would he become the prey,

of your accursed vengeance.  It is not pity that you feel;

you lament only because the victim of your malignity is withdrawn

from your power."

 

"Oh, it is not thus--not thus," interrupted the being.  "Yet such

must be the impression conveyed to you by what appears to be the

purport of my actions.  Yet I seek not a fellow feeling in my misery.

No sympathy may I ever find.  When I first sought it, it was the love

of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole

being overflowed, that I wished to be participated.  But now that virtue

has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned

into bitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek for sympathy?

I am content to suffer alone while my sufferings shall endure;

when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium

should load my memory.  Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue,

of fame, and of enjoyment.  Once I falsely hoped to meet with

beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the

excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding.  I was

nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion.  But now crime

has degraded me beneath the meanest animal.  No guilt, no mischief,

no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine.  When I

run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that

I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime

and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness.

But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil.

Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in

his desolation; I am alone. "You, who call Frankenstein your friend,

seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes.  But in

the detail which he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours

and months of misery which I endured wasting in impotent passions.

For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires.

They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and

fellowship, and I was still spurned.  Was there no injustice in this?

Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me?

Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely?

Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the saviour

of his child?  Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings!

I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at,

and kicked, and trampled on.  Even now my blood boils at the recollection

of this injustice.

 

"But it is true that I am a wretch.  I have murdered the lovely

and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept and

grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other

living thing.  I have devoted my creator, the select specimen of

all that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery;

I have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin.

 

There he lies, white and cold in death.  You hate me, but your

abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself.

I look on the hands which executed the deed; I think on the heart

in which the imagination of it was conceived and long for the

moment when these hands will meet my eyes, when that imagination

will haunt my thoughts no more.

 

"Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief.

My work is nearly complete.  Neither yours nor any man's death

is needed to consummate the series of my being and accomplish

that which must be done, but it requires my own.  Do not think that

I shall be slow to perform this sacrifice.  I shall quit your vessel

on the ice raft which brought me thither and shall seek the most

northern extremity of the globe; I shall collect my funeral pile

and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may

afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch who would

create such another as I have been.  I shall die.  I shall no longer

feel the agonies which now consume me or be the prey of feelings

unsatisfied, yet unquenched.  He is dead who called me into being;

and when I shall be no more, the very remembrance of us both will

speedily vanish.  I shall no longer see the sun or stars or feel

the winds play on my cheeks.

 

Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in this condition

must I find my happiness.  Some years ago, when the images which

this world affords first opened upon me, when I felt the cheering

warmth of summer and heard the rustling of the leaves and the

warbling of the birds, and these were all to me, I should have wept

to die; now it is my only consolation.  Polluted by crimes and torn

by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?

"Farewell!  I leave you, and in you the last of humankind whom

these eyes will ever behold.  Farewell, Frankenstein!  If thou wert

yet alive and yet cherished a desire of revenge against me,

it would be better satiated in my life than in my destruction.

But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinction, that I might not

cause greater wretchedness; and if yet, in some mode unknown to me,

thou hadst not ceased to think and feel, thou wouldst not

desire against me a vengeance greater than that which I feel.

Blasted as thou wert, my agony was still superior to thine,

for the bitter sting of remorse will not cease to rankle

in my wounds until death shall close them forever.

 

"But soon," he cried with sad and solemn enthusiasm, "I shall die,

and what I now feel be no longer felt.  Soon these burning miseries

will be extinct.  I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and

exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that

conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea

by the winds.  My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks,

it will not surely think thus.  Farewell."

 

He sprang from the cabin window as he said this, upon the ice raft

which lay close to the vessel.  He was soon borne away by the waves

and lost in darkness and distance.