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REMARKS ON FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE To describe its effect upon the mind MODERN PROMETHEUS; A NOVEL.
of the human personages engaged in
its wonders, and dragged along by its Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay machinery, is comparatively an infeTo mould me man ? Did I solicit thee rior object. The hero and heroine, From darkness to promote me ?
partakers of the supernatural character Paradise Lost. which belongs to their adventures,
walk the maze of enchantment with This is a novel, or more properly a, a firm and undaunted step, and apromantic fiction, of a nature so peculiar, pear as much at their ease, amid the that we ought to describe the species wonders around them, as the young before attempting any account of the fellow described by the Spectator, who individual production.
was discovered taking å snuff with The first general division of works great composure in the midst of a of fiction, into such as bound the stormy ocean, represented on the stage events they narrate by the actual laws of the Opera. of nature, and such as, passing these A more philosophical and refined limits, are managed by marvellous use of the supernatural in works of and supernatural machinery, is suf- fiction, is proper to that class in which ficiently obvious and decided. But the laws of nature are represented as the class of marvellous romances ad- altered, not for the purpose of pammits of several subdivisions. In the pering the imagination with wonders, earlier productions of imagination, the but in order to shew the probable poet or tale-teller does not, in his effect which the supposed miracles own opinion, transgress the laws of would produce on those who witcredibility, when he introduces into nessed them. In this case, the pleahis narration the witches, goblins, and sure ordinarily derived from the marmagicians, in the existence of which vellous incidents is secondary to that he himself, as well as his hearers, is which we extract from observing how a firm believer. This good faith, mortals like ourselves would be afhowever, passes away, and works fected, turning upon the marvellous are writ- By scenes like these which, daring to depart ten and read merely on account of the
From sober truth, are still to nature true. exercise which they afford to the ima- Even in the description of his margination of those who, like the poet vels, however, the author, who maCollins, love to riot in the luxuriance nages this style of composition with of oriental fiction, to rove through the address, gives them an indirect immeanders of enchantment, to gaze on portance with the reader, when he is the magnificence of golden palaces, able to describe, with nature and with and to repose by the waterfalls of truth, the effects which they are calcuElysian gardens. In this species of lated to produce upon his dramatis composition, the marvellous is itself personæ. It will be remembered, that the principal and most important ob- the sapient Partridge was too wise to ject both to the author and reader. be terrified at the mere appearance of
the ghost of Hamlet, whom he knew • Frankenstein ; or, the Modern Prome- to be a man dressed up in pasteboard theus. 3 vols 12mo. 16s. 6d. Lackington armour for the nonce: it was when he and Co. London. 1818.
saw the “ little man,” as he called
Garrick, so frightened, that a sympa- stances in which they are placed, acthetic horror took hold of him. Of cording to the rules of probability, and this we shall presently produce some the nature of the human heart. In examples from the narrative before us. this view, the probable is far from But success in this point is still being laid out of sight even amid the subordinate to the author's principal wildest freaks of imagination ; on the object, which is less to produce an contrary, we grant the extraordinary effect by means of the marvels of the postulates which the author demands narrations, than to open new trains and as the foundation of his narrative, channels of thought, by placing men only on condition of his deducing the in supposed situations of an extraordi- consequer.ces with logical precision. nary and preternatural character, and We have only to add, that this then describing the mode of feeling class of fiction has been sometimes and conduct which they are most likely applied to the purposes of political to adopt.
satire, and sometimes to the general To make more clear the distinction illustration of the powers and workings we have endeavoured to draw between of the human mind. Swift, Bergerac, the marvellous and the effects of the and others, have employed it for the marvellous, considered as separate ob- former purpose, and a good illustrajects, we may briefly invite our readers tion of the latter is the well known to compare the common tale of Tom Saint Leon of William Godwin. In this Thumb with Gulliver's Voyage to latter work, assuming the possibility of Brobdingnag; one of the most childish the transmutation of metals and of the fictions, with one which is pregnant elixir vite, the author has deduced, in with wit and satire, yet both turning the course of his narrative, the proupon
the same assumed possibility bable consequences of the possession of the existence of a pigmy among of such secrets upon the fortunes and
race of giants. In the former mind of him who might enjoy them. case, when the imagination of the Frankenstein is a novel upon the same story-teller has exhausted itself in plan with Saint Leon ; it is said to be every species of hyperbole, in order to written by Mr Percy Bysshe Shelley, describe the diminutive size of his who, if we are rightly informed, is hero, the interest of the tale is at an son-in-law to Mr Godwin ; and it is end; but in the romance of the Dean inscribed to that ingenious author. of St Patrick's, the exquisite humour In the preface, the author lays claim with which the natural consequences to rank his work among the class, of so strange and unusual a situation which we have endeavoured to deis detailed, has a canvass on which to scribe. expand itself, as broad as the luxuriance even of the author's talents could “ The event on which this fiction is desire. Gulliver stuck into a marrow
founded has been supposed by Dr Darwin, bone, and Master Thomas Thumb's and some of the physiological writers of disastrous fall into the bowl of hasty- I shall not be supposed as according the re
Germany, as not of impossible occurrence. pudding, are, in the general outline,
motest degree of serious faith to sach an kindred incidents; but the jest is ex- imagination ; yet, in assuming it as the hausted in the latter case, when the basis of a work of fancy, I have not conaccident is told; whereas in the former, sidered myself as merely weaving a series it lies not so much in the comparative- of supernatural terrors. The event, on ly pigmy size which subjected Gul- which the interest of the story depends, is liver to such a ludicrous misfortune, exempt from the disadvantages of a mere as in the tone of grave and dignified commended by the novelty of the situations
tale of spectres or enchantment. It was refeeling with which he resents the dis- which it developes; and, however imposgrace of the incident.
sible as a physical fact, affords a point of In the class of fictitious narrations view to the imagination for the delineating to which we allude, the author opens of human passions more comprehensive and a sort of account-current with the commanding than any which the ordinary reader ; drawing upon him, in the relations of existing events can yield.
“ I have thus endeavoured to preserve the first place, for credit to that degree of the marvellous which he proposes to
truth of the elementary principles of human
nature, while I have not scrupled to innoemploy; and becoming virtually bound,
vate upon their combinations. The Iliad, in consequence of this indulgence, that the tragic poetry of Greece,Shakspeare, his personages shall conduct them- in the Tempest and Midsummer Nights selves, in the extraordinary circum- Dream,—and most especially Milton, in
Paradise Lost, conform to this rule; and of modern chemistry, as well as of the most humble novellist, who seeks to natural philosophy, in all its branches. confer or receive amusement from his la- Prosecuting these sciences into their bours, may, without presumption, apply to innermost and most abstruse recesses, prose fiction a license, or rather a rule, with unusual talent and unexampled from the adoption of which so many exquisite combinations of human feeling have success, he at length makes that disresulted in the highest specimens of poetry.” covery on which the marvellous part
We shall, without farther preface, of the work is grounded. His attendetail the particulars of the singular tion had been especially bound to the story, which is thus introduced. structure of the human frame and of
A vessel, engaged in a voyage of dis- the principle of life. He engaged in covery to the North Pole, having be- physiological researches of the most come embayed among the ice at a very recondite and abstruse nature, searchhigh latitude, the crew, and particu- ing among charnel vaults and in dislarly the captain or owner of the ship, section-rooms, and the objects most inare surprised at perceiving a gigantic supportable to the delicacy of human form pass at some distance from them, feelings, in order to trace the minute on a car drawn by dogs, in a place chain of causation which takes place where they conceived no mortal could in the change from life to death, and exist. While they are speculating on
from death to life. In the midst of this this singular apparition, a thaw com
darkness a light broke in upon him. mences, and disengages them from “ Remember,” says his narrative, “ I their precarious situation. On the am not recording the vision of a madman, next morning they pick up, upon a
The sun does not more certainly shine in
the heavens than that which I now affirm is floating fragment of the broken ice, a sledge like that they had before seen, it, yet the stages of the discovery were dis
true. Some miracle might have produced with a human being in the act of pe, tinct and probable. After days and nights rishing. He is with difficulty recalled of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded to life, and proves to be a young man in discovering the cause of generation and of the most amiable manners and ex- life ; nay, nore, I became myself capable of tended acquirements, but, extenuated bestowing animation upon lifeless matter." by fatigue, wrapped in dejection and This wonderful discovery impelled gloom of the darkest kind. The cap- Frankenstein to avail himself of his tain of the ship, a gentleman whose art, by the creation (if we dare to call ardent love of science had engaged it so) or formation of a living and him on an expedition so dangerous, sentient being. As the minuteness of becomes attached to the stranger, and the parts formed a great difficulty, he at length extorts from him the won- constructed the figure which he proderful tale of his misery, which he posed to animate of a gigantic size, thus attains the means of preserving that is, about eight feet high, and from oblivion.
strong and large in proportion. The Frankenstein describes himself as a feverish anxiety with which the young native of Geneva, born and bred up philosopher toils through the horrors in the bosom of domestic love and af of his secret task, now dabbling among fection. His father-his friend Henry the unhallowed reliques of the grave, Clerval-Elizabeth, an orphan of ex- and now torturing the living animal treme beauty and talent, bred up in to animate the lifeless clay, are dethe same house with him, are possessed scribed generally, but with great vigour of all the qualifications which could of language. Although supported by render him happy as a son, a friend, the hope of producing a new species and a lover. In the course of his that should bless him as his creator studies he becomes acquainted with and source, he nearly sinks under the the works of Cornelius Agrippa, and protracted labour, and loathsome deother authors treating of occult philo- tails, of the work he had undertaken ; sophy, un whose venerable tomes mo- and scarcely is his fatal enthusiasm dern neglect has scattered no slight sufficient to support his nerves, or aniportion of dust. Frankenstein remains mate his resolution. The result of ignorant of the contempt in which his this extraordinary discovery it would favourites are held, until he is se- be unjust to give in any words save parated from his family to pursue his those of the author. We shall give it studies at the university of Ingolstadt. at length, as an excellent specimen of Here he is introduced to the wonders the style and manner of the work. VOL. II.
“ It was on a dreary night of November not hear; one hand was stretched out, that I beheld the accomplishment of my seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and toils. With an anxiety that almost amount- rushed down stairs. I took refuge in the ed to agony, I collected the instruments of court-yard belonging to the house which I life around me, that I might infuse a spark inhabited; where I remained during the of being into the lifeless thing that lay at rest of the night, walking up and down in my feet. It was already one in the morn- the greatest agitation, listening attentively, ing; the rain pattered dismally against the catching and fearing each sound as if it panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, were to announce the approach of the dewhen, by the glimmer of the half-extin- moniacal corpse to which I had so miserably guished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of given life. the re open ; it breathed hard, and a “Oh! no mortal could support the horror convulsive motion agitated its limbs. of that countenance. A mummy again en
“ How can I describe my emotions at this dued with animation could not be so hideous catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch as that wretch. I had gazed on him while whom with such infinite pains and care I unfinished; he was ugly then ; but when had endeavoured to form ? His limbs were those muscles and joints were rendered capain proportion, and I had selected his fea- ble of motion, it became a thing such as tures as beautiful. Beautiful!-Great God! even Dante could not have conceived. His yellow skin scarcely covered the work “ I passed the night wretchedly. Someof muscles and arteries beneath ; his hair times my pulse beat so quickly and hardly, was of a lustrous black, and flowing ; his that I felt the palpitation of every artery; teeth of a pearly whiteness ; but these luxu- at others, I nearly sank to the ground, riances only formed a more horrid contrast through languor and extreme weakness. with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterthe same colour as the dun white sockets in
ness of disappointment: dreams, that had which they were set-his shrivelled com- been my food and pleasant rest for so long plexion, and straight black lips.
a space, were now become a hell to me; “ The different accidents of life are not and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so changeable as the feelings of human na- so complete !
I had worked hard for nearly two Morning, dismal and wet, at length years, for the sole purpose of infusing life dawned, and discovered, to my sleepless and into an inanimate body. For this I had de- aching eyes, the church of Ingolstadt, its prived myself of rest and health. I had de- white steeple and clock, which indicated the sired it with an ardour that far exceeded sixth hour. The porter opened the gates moderation ; but now that I had finished, of the court, which had that night been the beauty of the dream vanished, and my asylum, and I issued into the streets, breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. pacing them with quick steps, as if I sought Unable to endure the aspect of the being ! to avoid the wretch whom I feared every had created, I rushed out of the room, and turning of the street would present to my continued a long time traversing my bed. view. I did not dare return to the apartchamber, unable to compose my mind to ment which I inhabited, but felt impelled sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to the to hurry on, although wetted by the rain, tumult I had before endured ; and I threw which poured from a black and comfortless myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavour. sky. ing to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. “ I continued walking in this manner But it was in vain : I slept indeed, but I for some time, endeavouring, by bodily exwas disturbed by the wildest dreams. I ercise, to ease the load that weighed upon thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of my mind. I traversed the streets without health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. any clear conception of where I was or what Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; I was doing. My heart palpitated in the but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, sickness of fear; and I hurried on with irthey became livid with the hue of death; regular steps, not daring to look about me: her features appeared to change, and I • Like one who, on a lonely road, thought that I held the corpse of my dead Doth walk in fear and dread, mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped And, having once turn'd round, walks on, her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawl. And turns no more his head ; ing in the folds of the Aannel. I started Because he knows a frightful fiend from my sleep with horror; a cold dew Doth close behind him tread *.” covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, He is relieved by the arrival of the and every limb became convulsed; when, diligence from Geneva, out of which by the dim. and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window- had come to spend a season at the eol
jumps his friend Henry Clerval, who shutters, I beheld the wretch-the miser. able monster whom I had created. He held
lege. Compelled to carry Clervat to up the curtain of the bed ; and his eyes, if his lodgings, which, he supposed, must eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. still contain the prodigious and hideous His jaws opened, and he muttered some in- specimen of his Promethean art, his articulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his chiceks. He might have spoken, but I did * Coleridge's “ Ancient Mariner."
feelings are again admirably described, bouring precipice. Another flash shews allowing always for the extraordinary him hanging among the cliffs, up cause supposed to give them birth. which he scrambles with far more than “ I trembled excessively; I could not
mortal agility, and is seen no more. endure to think of, and far less to allude to. The inference, that this being was the the occurrences of the preceding night. í murderer of his brother, flashed on walked with a quick pace, and we soon ar. Frankenstein's mind as irresistibly as rived at my college. I then reflected, and the lightning itself, and he was temptthe thought made me shiver, that the crea-, ed to consider the creature whom he ture whom I had left in my apartment had cast among mankind to work, it might still be there, alive, and walking a.
would seem, acts of horror and deprabout. I dreaded to behold this monster ; but I feared still more that Henry shoulå vity, nearly in the light of his own see him. Entreating him, therefore, to re- vampire let loose from the grave, and main a few minutes at the bottom of the destined to destroy all that was dear stairs, I darted up towards my own room.
to him. My hand was already on the lock of the Frankenstein was right in his appredoor before I recollected myself. I then hensions. Justine, the maid to whom paused ; and a cold shivering came over I threw the door forcibly open, as ed, is found to be in possession of the
the youthful Victor had been intrustchildren are accustomed to do when they golden trinket which had been taken expect a spectre to stand in waiting for them from the child's person ; and, by a vaon the other side ; but nothing appeared. I stepped fearfully in : the apartment was riety of combining circumstances of empty; and my bed-room was also freed combined evidence, she is concluded from its hideous guest. I could hardly be. to be the murderess, and as such conlieve that so great a good fortune could have demned to death, and executed. It befallen me; but when I became assured does not appear that Frankenstein atthat my enemy had indeed fled, I clapped tempted to avert her fate, by commumy hands for joy, and ran down to Clerval.”
nicating his horrible secret ; but, inThe animated monster_is heard of deed, who would have given him creno more for a season. Frankenstein dit, or in what manner could he have pays the penalty of his rash researches supported his tale ? into the arcana of human nature, in In a solitary expedition to the top a long illness, after which the two of Mount Aveyron, undertaken to friends prosecute their studies for dispel the melancholy which clouded two years in uninterrupted quiet. his mind, Frankenstein unexpectedly Frankenstein, as may be supposed, meets with the monster he had aniabstaining, with a sort of abhorrence, mated, who compels him to a conferfrom those in which he had once so ence and a parley. The material degreatly delighted. At the lapse of this mon gives an account, at great length, period, he is made acquainted with a of his history since his animation, dreadful misfortune which has befal- of the mode in which he acquired valen his family, by the violent death of rious points of knowledge, and of his youngest brother, an interesting the disasters which befell him, when, child, who, while straying from his full of benevolence and philanthropy, keeper, had been murdered by some he endeavoured to introduce himself villain in the walks of Plainpalais. into human society. The most material The marks of strangling were distinct part of his education was acquired in on the neck of the unfortunate infant, a ruinous pig-stye-a Lyceum which and a gold ornament which it wore, this strange student oceupied, he asand which was amissing, was suppos- sures us, for a good many months una ed to have been the murderer's motive discovered, and in constant observance for perpetrating the crime.
of the motions of an amiable family, At this dismal intelligence, Franken- from imitating whom, he learns the stein flies to Geneva, and impelled by use of language, and other accomplishfraternal affection, visits the spot where ments, much more successfully than this horrid accident had happened. Caliban, though the latter had a conIn the midst of a thunder-storm, with juror to his tutor. This detail is not which the evening had closed, and only highly improbable, but it is inju. just as he had attained the fatal spot dicious, as its unnecessary minuteness on which Victor had been murdered, tends rather too much to familiarize a flash of lightning displays to him us with the being whom it regards, the hideous demon to which he had and who loses, by this lengthy oration, given life, gliding towards a neigh- some part of the mysterious sublimity