CYNTHIA MORGAN ST. JOHN
THE GIFT OF
OF THE CLASS OF I919
A R N E :
A SKETCH OF NORWEGIAN PEASANT LIFE.
By BJORNSTJERNE BJORNSON.
A most charming and exquisitely simple story, full of beautiful touche
nature and lifelike descriptions. 12mo, cloth, $1.25 ; paper, 75 cents.
An edition of the above, translated into English by a Norwegian, with
quaint original Songs. In 16mo, paper, 50 cents.
BOSTON AND CAMBRIDGE:
SEVEE, FRANCIS, & COMPANY,
F R A N K E N.S T E I N:
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS.
MARY W. SHELLEY.
" Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay,
To mould me man ? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? " — Paradise Lost.
SEVER, FRANCIS, & CO.
^ofiton anlJ Camferitiffe.
PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.
AUTHOR OF "political JUSTICE," " CALEB WILLIAMS," ETC.,
IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR.
The original of tinis book is in
the Cornell "University Library.
There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.
^'/T^HE event on which this fiction is founded, has been
supposed, by Dr. Darwin, and some of the physio-
logical writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence.
I shall not be supposed as recording the remotest degree of
serious faith to such an imagination ; yet, in assuming it as
the basis of a work of fancy, I have not considered myself
as merely weaving a series of supernatural terrors. The
event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt
from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchant-
ment. It \vas recommended by the novelty of the situations
which it develops ; and, however impossible as a physical
fact, affords a point of view to the imagination for the delin-
eating of human passions more comprehensive and com-
manding than any which the ordinary relations of existing .
events can yield.
I have thus endeavored to presei*ve the truth of the ele-
mentary principles of human nature, while I have not scru-
pled to innovate upon their combinations. The ''Iliad,"
the tragic poetry of Greece ; Shakspeare, in the " Tempest"
and ''Midsummer Night's Dream"; and most especially
Milton, in " Paradise Lost," — conform to this rule ; and the
most humble novelist, who seeks to confer or receive amuse-
ment from his labors, may, without presumption, apply to
prose fiction a license, or rather a rule, from the adoption
of which so many exquisite combinations of human feeling
have resulted in the highest specimens of poetry.
The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested
in casual conversation. It was commenced, partly as a
source of amusement, and partly as an expedient for exer-
cising any untried resources of mind. Other motives were
mingled with these, as the work proceeded. I am by no
means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral
tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains
shall affect the reader ; yet my chief concern in this respect
has been limited to the avoiding the enervating effects of the
novels of the present day, and to the exhibition of the amia-
bleness of domestic affection, and the excellence of univer-
sal virtue. The opinions which naturally spring from the
character and situation of the hero are by no means to be
conceived as existing always in my own conviction ; nor is
any inference justly to be drawn from the following pages as
prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind.
It is a subject also of additional interest to the author, that
this story was begun in the majestic region where the scene
is principally laid, and in society which cannot cease to be
regretted. I passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of
Geneva. The season was cold and rainy, and in the even-
ings we crowded around a blazing wood fire, and occasion-
ally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts,
which happened to fall into our Jiands. These tales excited
in us a playful desire of imitation. Two other friends (a
tale from the pen of one of whom would be far more ac-
ceptable to the public than any thing I can ever hope to pro-
duce) and myself agreed to write each a story, founded on
some supernatural occurrence.
The weather, however, suddenly became serene ; and my
two friends left me on a journey among the Alps, and lost,
in the magnificent scenes which they present, all memory of
their ghostly visions. The following tale is the only one
which has been completed.
PREFACE TO THE LAST LONDON EDITION.
T^HE Publishers of the Standard Novels, in selecting
''Frankenstein" for one of their series, expressed a
wish that I should furnish them with some account of the
origin of the story. I am the more willing to comply be-
cause I shall thus give a general answer to the question so
very frequently asked me, " How I, then a young girl, came
to think of and to dilate upon so very hideous an idea ? '^
It is true that I am very averse to bringing myself forward
in print ; but as my account will only appear as an append-
age to a former production, and as it will be confined to
such topics as have connection with my authorship alone, I
can scarcely accuse myself of a personal intrusion.
It is not singular, that, as the daughter of two persons of
distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life
have thought of writing. As a child, I scribbled ; and my
favorite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation,
was '' to write stories." Still I had a dearer pleasure than
this, which was the formation of castles in the air ; the in-
dulging in waking dreams ; the following up trains of
thought, which had for their subject the formation of a suc-
cession of imaginary incidents. My dreams were at once
more fantastic and agreeable than my writings. In the lat-
ter I was a close imitator, — rather doing as others had done
than putting down the suggestions of my own mind. What
I wrote was intended at least for one other eye, — my child-
hood's companion and friend ; but my dreams were all my
own ; I accounted for them to nobody ; they were my refuge
when annoyed, my dearest pleasure when free.
I lived principally in the country as a girl, and passed a
considerable time in Scotland. I made occasional visits to
the more picturesque parts ; but my habitual residence was
on the blank and dreary northern shores of the Tay, near
Dundee. Blank and dreary, on retrospection, I call them ;
they were not so to me then. They were the eyry of free-
dom, and the pleasant region where unheeded I could com-
mune with the creatures of my fancy. I wrote then, but in
a most commonplace style. It was beneath the trees of the
grounds belonging to our house, or on the bleak sides of
the woodless mountains near, that my true compositions,
the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered.
I did not make myself the heroine of my tales. Life ap-
peared to me too commonplace an affair as regarded myself.
I could not figure to myself that romantic woes or wonderful
events would ever be my lot ; but I was not confined to my
own identity, and I could people the hours with creations
far more interesting to me, at that age, than my own sen-
After this, my life became busier, and reality stood in
place of fiction. My husband, however, was from the first
very anxious that I should prove myself worthy of my par-
entage, and enroll myself on the page of fame. He was for
ever inciting me to obtain literary reputation, which, even on
my own part, I cared for then, though since I have become
infinitely indifferent to it. At this time he desired that I
should write, not so much with the idea that I could produce
any thing worthy of notice, but that he might himself judge
how far I possessed the promise of better things hereafter.
Still I did nothing. Travelling, and the cares of a family,
occupied my time ; and study, in the way of reading, or
improving my ideas in communication with his far more
cultivated mind, was all of literary employment that engaged
In the summer of 1816, we visited Switzerland, and be-
came the neighbors of Lord Byron. At first we spent our
pleasant hours on the lake, or wandering on its shores ; and
Lord Byron, who was writing his third canto of '^ Childe
Harold,'^ was the only one among us who put his thoughts
upon paper. These, as he brought them successively to us,
clothed in all the light and harmony of poetry, seemed to
stamp as divine the glories of heaven and earth, whose influ-
ences we partook with him.
But it proved a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain
often confined us for days to the house. Some volumes of
ghost stories, translated from the German and French, fell
into our hands. There was the History of the Inconstant
Lover, who, when he thought to clasp the bride to whom he
had pledged his vows, found himself in the arms of the pale
ghost of her whom he had deserted. There was the tale of
the sinful founder of his race, whose miserable doom it \yas
to bestow the kiss of death on all the younger sons of his ill-
fated house, just when they reached the age of promise.
His gigantic, shadowy form, clothed like the ghost in Ham-
let, in complete armor, but with the beaver up, was seen at
midnight by the moon^s fitful beams, to advance slowly
along the gloomy avenue. The shape was lost beneath the
shadow of the castle walls ; but soon a gate swung back, a
step was heard, the door of the chamber opened, and he
advanced to the couch of the blooming youths, cradled in
healthy sleep. Eternal sorrow sat upon his face as he bent
down and kissed the forehead of the boys, who from that
hour withered like flowers snapped upon the stalk. I have
not seen these stories since then ; but their incidents are as
fresh in my mind as if I had read them yesterday.
''We will each write a ghost story," said Lord Byron;
and his proposition was acceded to. There were four of us.
The noble author began a tale, a fragment of which he
printed at the end of his poem of ''Mazeppa." Shelley, more
apt to embody ideas and sentiments in the radiance of bril-
liant imagery, and in the music of the most melodious verse
that adorns our language, than to invent the machinery of a
story, commenced one founded on the experiences of his
early life. Poor Polidori had some terribie idea about a
skull-headed lady, w^ho w^as so punished for peeping through
a key-hole — what to see I forget — something very shock-
ing and wrong, of course : but when she was reduced to a
worse condition than the renowned Tom of Coventry, he
did not know what to do with her, and was obliged to de-
spatch her to the tomb of the Capulets, the only place for
which she was fitted. The illustrious poets, also annoyed
by the platitude of prose, speedily relinquished their uncon-
I busied myself to tJii7ik of a story — a story to rival
those which had excited us to this task. One which would
speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaking
thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look
round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the
heart. If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story
would be unworthy of its name. I thought and pondered
— vainly. I felt that blank incapability of invention which
is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing re-
plies to our anxious invocations. Have you thoiight of a
story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was
forced to reply with a mortifying negative.
Every thing must have a beginning, to speak in Sanchean
phrase ; and that beginning must be linked to something
that went before. The Hindoos give the elephant a world
to support it, but they make an elephant to stand upon a
tortoise. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not
exist in creating out of void, but out of chaos ; the materials
must, in the first place, be afforded : it can give form to dark,
shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the sub-
stance itself. In all matters of discovery and invention, even
of those that appertain to the imagination, we are continu-
ally reminded of the story of Columbus and his ^^^. In-
vention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities
of a subject, and in the power of moulding and fashioning
ideas suggested to it.
Many and long were the conversations between Lord By-
ron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent
listener. During one of these, various philosophical doc-
trines were discussed, and among others, the nature of the
principle of life, and whether there was any probability of
its ever being discovered and communicated. They talked
of the experiments of Dr. Darwin (I speak not of what the
Doctor really did, or said he did, but, as more to my pur-
pose, of what was then spoken of as having been done by
him), who presei^ved a piece of vermicelli in a glass cage,
till by some extraordinary means it began to move with vol-
untary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given.
Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated ; galvanism had
given token of such things ; perhaps the component parts
of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and
endued with vital warmth.
Night waned upon this talk, and even the witching hour
had gone by, before we retired to rest. When I had placed my
head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think.
My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting
the successive images that arose in my mind with a vivid-
ness far beyond the usual bound of reverie. I saw — with
shut eyes, but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student
of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put
together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched
out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine,
show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.
Frightful must it be ; for supremely frightful would be the
effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mech-
anism of the Creator of the world. His success would
terrify the artist ; he would rush away from his odious
handiwork, horror-stricken. He would hope that, left to
itself, the slight spark of life which he had communicated,
would fade ; that this thing which had received such imper-
fect animation, would subside into dead matter ; and he
might sleep in the belief that the silence of the grave would
quench for ever the transient existence of the hideous corpse
which he had looked upon as the cradle of life. He sleeps :
but he is awakened ; he opens his eyes : behold the horrid
thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains, and looking
on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes.
I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind,
that a thrill of fear ran through me and I wished to exchange
the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around. I
see them still ; the very room, the dark parquet^ the closed
shutters, with the moonlight struggling through, and the
sense I had that the glassy lake and white high Alps were
beyond. I coUld not so easily get rid of my hideous phan-
tom ; still it haunted me. I must try to think of something
else. I recurred to my ghost story — my tiresome, unlucky
ghost story ! Oh, if I could only contrive one which would
frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that
Swift as light, and as cheering, was the idea that broke in
upon me. '^ I have found it ! What terrified me will ter-
rify others ; and I need only describe the spectre which had
haunted my midnight pillow. '^ On the morrow I announced
that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the
words. It was on a dreary night hi November.^ making
only a transcript of the grim terrors of my w;aking dream.
At first I thought but of a few pages — of a short tale ;
but Shelley urged me to develop the idea at greater length.
I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor
scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet, but
for his incitement, it would never have taken the form in
which it was presented to the world. From this declara-
tion I must except the preface. As far as I can recollect, it
was entirely written by him.
And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth
and prosper. I have an affection for it, for it was the off-
spring of happy days, when death and grief were but words,
which found no true echo in my heart. Its several pages
speak of many a walk, many a drive, and many a conversa-
tion, when I was not alone ; and my companion was one
who, in this world, I shall never see more. But this is for
myself; my readers have nothing to do with these associa-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS.
TO MRS. SAVILLE, ENGLAND.
St. Petersburg, Dec. nth, 17 — .
"XT'OU 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 Petersburg, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks,
which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight. Do you under-
stand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the re-
gions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those
icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams
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 for ever visible ; its broad disk just skirting
the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendor. 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 pro-
ductions 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
1 6 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
consistent for ever. 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 tran-
quillize the mind as a steady purpose — a point on which the soul
may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favorite
dream of my early years. I have read with ardor the accounts of
the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of
arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which sur-
round 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's 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 sea-
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 Shakspeare 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 hard-
ship. I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 7
the North Sea; T 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 advan-
tage. Twice I actually hired myself as an undermate in a Green-
land whaler, and acquitted mj'self 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 earnest-
ness ; 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 lux-
ury; 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
This is the most favorable 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
stage-coach. The cold is not excessive, if you are wrapt in furs, a
dress which I have already adopted ; for there is a great diflerence
between walking the deck and remaining seated motionless for
hours, when no exercise prevents the blood from actually freezing
in 3^our veins. I have no ambition to lose my life on the post-road
between St. Petersburg 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.
1 8 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
TO MRS. SAVILLE, ENGLAND.
Archangel, 28th March, 17—.
How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am bj frost
and snow; yet a second step is taken towards my enterprise. I
liave 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 endeavor 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 im-
patient 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's books of
voyages. At that age I became acquainted with the celebrated
f)oets 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 con-
viction, 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 school-boys of
fifteen. It is true that I have thought more, and that my day
dreams 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 aftection
enough for me to endeavor 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS.
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. 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 be-
came acquainted with him on board a whale vessel : finding that he
was unemployed in this city, I easily engaged him to assist in my
The master is a person of an excellent disposition, and is remark-
able in the ship for his gentleness, and the mildness of his dis-
cipline. He is, indeed, of so amiable a nature that he will not hunt
(a favorite, and almost the only amusement here), because he can-
not endure to spill blood. He is, moreover, heroically generous.
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 more
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 re-assured 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 honor 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 has passed all his life on board a vessel, and has
scarcely an idea beyond the rope and the shroud.
But do not suppose that, 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 now only 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
20 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
prudence and considerateness whenever the safety of others is com-
mitted 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 con-
ception of the trembling sensation, 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.
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 to write to me by every oppor-
tunity : I may receive your letters (though the chance is very
doubtful) 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,
TO MRS. SAVILLE, ENGLAND.
July 7th, 17—.
My dear Sister, — I write you 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 float-
ing sheets of ice that continually pass us, indicating the dangers of
the region toward 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 England, the southern
gales, which blow us speedily toward 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 breaking of a mast, are
accidents which experienced navigators scarcely remember to re-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 21
cord ; and I shall be well content, if nothing worse happens 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.
Remember me to all my English friends.
Most affectionately yours, R. W.
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 be-
fore these papers can come into your possession.
Last Monday (July 31st,) 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 danger-
ous, 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 tele-
scopes, 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 appari-
tion seemed to denote that it was not, in reality, so distant as we
had supposed. Shut in, however, by ice, it was impossible to fol-
low his track, which we had observed with the greatest attention.
About two hours after this occurrence, we heard the ground sea;
Z2 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 some one 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
an European. When I appeared on deck, the master said, '' Here
is our captain, and he will not alJow you to perish on the open
On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English, al-
though 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 accord-
ingly 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
Two days passed in this manner before he was able to speak;
and I often feared that his sufferings had deprived him of his
understanding. When he had in some measure recovered, I re-
moved him to my own cabin, and attended on him as much as my
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 23
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 any one performs an act of kind-
ness towards him, or does him any the most trifling service, his
whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benev-
olence and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is general! v
melancholy and despairing; and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as
if impatient of the weight of woes that oppress him.
When my guest was a little recovered, I had great trouble to
keep oflf 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 fash-
"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 uui
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 the stranger seemed very eager 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 sus-
tain the rawness of the atmosphere. And I have promised that
some one should watch for him, and give him instant notice if any
new object should appear in sight.
24 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 any one except myself
enters his cabin. Yet his manners are so conciliating and gentle,
that the sailors are all interested in him, although they have
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
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, 37 — .
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 flow with rapidity and unparalleled
He is now much recovered from his illness, and is continually on
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 employments of
others. He has asked me many questions concerning my design;
and I have related my little history frankly to him. He appeared
pleased with the confidence, and suggested several alterations in
my plan, which I shall find exceedingly useful. There is no
pedantry in his manner; but all he does appears to spring solely
from the interest he instinctively takes in the welfare of those who
surround him. He is often overcome by gloom, and then he sits
by himself, and tries to overcome all that is sullen or unsocial in
his humor. These paroxysms pass from him like a cloud from
before the sun, though his dejection never leaves him. I have
endeavored to win his confidence; and I trust that I have suc-
ceeded. One day I mentioned to him the desire I had always felt
of finding a friend who might sympathize with me, and direct me
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 25
Tdj his counsel. I said I did not belong to that class of men who
are offended by advice. I am self-educated, and perhaps I hardly
rely sufficiently upon my own powers. I wish therefore that my
companion should be wiser and more experienced than myself, to
confirm and support me ; nor have I believed it impossible to find
a true friend.
''I agree with you," replied the stranger, "in believing that
friendship is not only a desirable, but a possible, acquisition. 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 every thing, and cannot begin life anew."
As he said this, his countenance became expressive of a calm
settled grief, which 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 afiorded 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 disap-
pointments ; 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 laugh at the enthusiasm I express concerning this
divine wanderer? If you do, you must certainly have lost that
simplicity which was once your characteristic charm. Yet, if you
will, smile at the warmth of my expressions, while I find every day
new causes for repeating them.
August 19th, 17 — .
Yesterday the stranger said to me, '^You may easily perceive,
Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled mis-
fortunes. I had determined, once, that the memory of these evils
should die with me; but you have won me to alter my determina-
tion. 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 to me. I do not know that
the relation of my misfortunes will be useful to you, yet, if you are
inclined, listen to my tale. I believe that the strange incidents
connected with it will aff'ord a view of nature, which may enlarge
your faculties and understanding. You will hear of powers and
occurrences, such as you have been accustomed to think impossible;
26 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS.
but I do not doubt that my tale conveys in its series internal evi-
dence of the truth of the events of which it is composed."
You may easily conceive that I vv^as 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 s^nnpathy, but it is useless ;
my fate is nearly fulfilled. I wait for but 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 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 at some future day!
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS
T AM by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most dis-
-■- tinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many
years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled several
public situations with honor 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; and it was not until the decline of life
that he thought of marrying, and bestowing on the state sons who
might carry his virtues and his name down to posterity.
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 honorable 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 grieved also for the loss of his
society, and resolved to seek him out and endeavor to persuade 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
^t this discovery, he hastened to the house, which was situated in a
mean street, near the Reuss. But when he entered, misery and
28 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 mean
time he hoped to procure some respectable employment in a mer-
chant'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 Beau-
fort 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 pit-
tance 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 was kneeling by Beaufort's coffin, 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 inter-
ment 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.
When my father became a husband and a parent, he found his
time so occupied by the duties of his new situation, that he relin-
quished many of his public employments, and devoted himself to
the education of his children. Of these I was the eldest, and the
destined successor to all his labors and utility. No creature could
have more tender parents than mine. My improvement and health
were their constant care, especially as I remained for several years
their only child. But before I continue my narrative, I must record
an incident which took place when I was four years of age.
My father had a sister, whom he tenderly loved, and who had
married early in life an Italian gentleman. Soon after her mar-
riage, she had accompanied her husband into his native country,
and for some years my father had very little communication with
her. About the time I mentioned she died; and a few months
afterwards he received a letter from her husband, acquainting him
with his intention of marrying an Italian lady, and requesting ray
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 29
father to take charge of the infant Elizabeth, the only child of his
deceased sister. ''It is my wish," he said, ''that you should con-
sider her as your own daughter, and educate her thus. Her moth-
er's fortune is secured to her, the documents of which I will commit
to your keeping. Reflect upon this proposition, and decide whether
you would prefer educating your niece yourself, to her being
brought up by a stepmother."
My father did not hesitate, and immediately went to Italy, that he
might accompany the little Elizabeth to her future home. I have
often heard my mother say, that she was at that time the most
beautiful child she had ever seen, and showed signs even then, of a
gentle and affectionate disposition. These indications, and a de-
sire to bind as closely as possible the ties of domestic love, deter-
mined my mother to consider Elizabeth as my future wife ; a design
which she never found reason to repent.
From this time Elizabeth Lavenza became my playfellow, and, as
we grew older, my friend. She was docile and good tempered, yet
gay and playful as a summer insect. Although she was lively and
animated, her feelings were strong and deep, and her disposition
uncommonly affectionate. No one could better enjoy liberty, yet
no one could submit with more grace than she did to constraint and
caprice. Her imagination was luxuriant, yet her capability of ap-
plication was great. Her person was the image of her mind; her
hazel eyes, although as lively as a bird's, possessed an attractive
softness. Her figure was light and airy; and though capable of
enduring great fatigue, she appeared the most fragile creature in
the world. While I admired her understanding and fanc}^, I loved
to tend on her, as I should on a favorite animal ; and I never saw
so much grace both of person and mind united to so little preten-
Every one adored Elizabeth. If the servants had any request to
make, it was always through her intercession. We were strangers
to any species of disunion or dispute ; for, although there was a
great dissimilitude in our characters, there was a harmony in that
very dissimilitude. I was more calm and philosophical than my
companion ; yet my temper was not so yielding. My application
was of longer endurance ; but it was not so severe while it endured.
I delighted in investigating facts relative to the actual world ; she
busied herself in following the aerial creation of the poets. The
world was to me a secret which I desired to discover; to her it was
a vacancy which she sought to people with imaginations of her
30 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
Mj brothers were considerably younger than myself, but I had a
friend in one of my school-fellows, who compensated for this defi-
ciency. Henry Clerval was the son of a merchant of Geneva, an
intimate friend of my father. He was a boy of singular talent and
fancy. I remember, when he was nine years old, he wrote a fairy
tale, which was the delight and amazement of all his companions.
His favorite study consisted in books of chivalry and romance ; and
when very young, I can remember, that we used to act plays com-
posed by him out of these favorite books, the principal characters
of which were Orlando, Robin Hood, Amadis, and St. George.
No youth could have passed more happily than mine. My par-
ents were indulgent, and my companions amiable. Our studies
were never forced ; and by some means we always had an end
placed in view, which excited us to ardor in the prosecution of
them. It was by this method, and not by emulation, that we were
urged to application. Elizabeth was not incited to apply herself to
drawing, that her companions might not outstrip her; but through
the desire of pleasing her aunt by the representation of some favor-
ite scene done by her own hand. We learned Latin and English,
that we might read the writings of those languages ; and so far
from study being made odious to us by punishment, we loved appli-
cation, and our amusements have been the labors of other children.
Perhaps we did not read so many books, or learn languages so
quickly, as those who are disciplined according to the ordinary
methods ; but what we learned was impressed the more deeply on
In this description of our domestic circle I include Henry Clerval,
for he was almost constantly with us. He went to school with me,
and generally passed the afternoon at our house; for being an only
child, and destitute of companions at home, his father was well
pleased that he should find associates at our house; and we were
never completely happy when Clerval was absent.
I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, be-
fore misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions
of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon
self. But, in drawing the picture of my early days, I must not omit
to 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 arose, 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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 3I
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 com-
municated my discovery to my father. I cannot help remarking
here the many opportunities instructors possess of directing the
attention of their pupils to useful knowledge, which they utterly
neglect. My father looked carelessly at the titlepage 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 ex-
plain 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 cer-
tainly have thrown Agrippa aside, and, with my imagination
warmed as it was, should probably have applied myself to the
more rational theory of chemistry which has resulted from modern
discoveries. 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 con-
tinued 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 beside my-
self; and although I often wished to communicate these secret
stores of knowledge to my father, yet his indefinite censure of my
favorite Agrippa always withheld me. I disclosed my discoveries
to Elizabeth, therefore, under a promise of strict secrecy; but she
did not interest herself in the subject, and I was left by her to
pursue my studies alone.
It may appear very strange that a disciple of Albertus Magnus
should arise in the eighteenth century; but our family was not
32 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
scientifical, and I had not attended any of the lectures given at the
public schools of Geneva. My dreams were therefore undisturbed
by reality; and I entered v^ith the greatest diligence into the search
for the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life. But the latter
obtained my most undivided attention : w^ealth 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 favorite authors, the ful-
filment 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. *'
The natural phenomena that take place every day before our eyes
did not escape my examination. Distillation, and the wonderful
eftects of steam, processes of which my favorite authors were
utterly ignorant, excited my astonishment; but my utmost wonder
was engaged by some experiments on an air-pump, which I saw
employed by a gentleman whom we were in the habit of visiting.
The ignorance of the early philosophers on these and several
other points served to decrease their credit with me ; but I could
not entirely" throw them aside, before some other sj^stem should
occupy their place in my mind.
When I was about fifteen j^ears old, we had retired to our house
near Belrive, when we witnessed a most violent and terrible thun-
der-storm. 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 man-
ner. It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to
thin ribands of wood. I never beheld any thing so utterly de-
The catastrophe of this tree excited my extreme astonishment ;
and I eagerly inquired of my father the nature and origin of thunder
and lightning. He replied *' Electricity ; " describing at the same
time the various eftects of that power. He constructed a small
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 33
electrical machine, and exhibited a few experiments; he made also
a kite, with a wire and spring, which drew down that fluid from
This last stroke completed the overthrow of Cornelius Agrippa^
Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, who had so long reigned the
lords of my imagination. But by some fatality I did not feel
inclined to commence the study of any modern system ; and this
disinclination was influenced by the following circumstance : —
My father expressed a wish that I should attend a course of
lectures upon natural philosophy, to which I cheerfully consented.
Some accident prevented my attending these lectures until the
course was nearly finished. The lecture being therefore one of the
last, was entirely incomprehensible to me. The professor discoursed
with the greatest fluency of potassium and boron, of sulphates and
oxyds, terms to which I could aflix no idea; and I became dis-
gusted with the science of natural philosophy, although I still read
Pliny and Buftbn with delight, authors, in my estimation, of nearly
equal interest and utility.
My occupations at this age were principally the mathematics,
and most of the branchy of study appertaining to that science.
I was busily employed in learning languages ; Latin was already
familiar to me, and I began to read some of the easiest Greek
authors without the help of a lexicon. I also perfectly understood
English and German. This is the list of my accomplishments at
the age of seventeen ; and you may conceive that my hours were
fully employed in acquiring and maintaining a knowledge of this
Another task also devolved upon me, when I became the in-
structor of my brothers. Ernest was six years younger than my-
self, and was my principal pupil. He had been afllicted with ill
health from his infancy, through which Elizabeth and I had been
his constant nurses : his disposition was gentle, but he was in-
capable of any severe application. William, the youngest of our
family was yet an infant, and the most beautiful little fellow in the
world; his lively blue eyes, dimpled cheeks, and endearing man-
ners inspired the tenderest affection.
Such was our domestic circle, from which care and pain seemed
forever banished. My father directed our studies, and my mother
partook of our enjoyments. Neither of us possessed the slightest
pre-eminence over the other; the voice of command was never
heard among us ; but mutual affection engaged us all to comply
with and obey the slightest desire of each other.
34 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 ; but her illness was not
severe, and she quickly recovered. During her confinement, 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 her favorite was recovering, she could no
longer debar herself from her society, and entered her chamber
long before the danger of infection was past. The consequences of
this imprudence were fatal. On the thir* day my mother sickened ;
her fever was very malignant, and the looks of her attendants
prognosticated the worst event. On her death-bed the fortitude
and benignity of this admirable woman 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 consola-
tion of your father. Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place
to your younger cousins. 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 endeavor to
resign myself cheerfully to death, and will indulge a hope of meet-
ing 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 coun-
tenance. 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, tliat 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 35
lapse of time proves the reality of the evil, then the actual bitter-
ness 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, while one re-
mains whom the spoiler has not seized.
My journey to Ingolstadt, which had been deferred by these
events, was now again determined upon. I obtained from my
father a respite of some weeks. This period was spent sadly; my
mother's death, and my speedy departure, depressed our spirits ; but
Elizabeth endeavored to renew the spirit of cheerfulness in our little
society. Since the death of her aunt, her mind had acquired new
firmness and vigor. She determined to fulfil her duties with the
greatest exactness ; and she felt that the most imperious duty, of
rendering her uncle and cousins happy, had devolved upon her.
She consoled me, amused her uncle, instructed my brothers ; and I
never beheld her so enchanting as at this time, when she was
continually endeavoring to contribute to the happiness of others,
entirely forgetful of herself.
The day of my departure at length arrived. I had taken leave
of all my friends excepting Clerval, who had spent the last evening
with us. He bitterly lamented that he was unable to accompany
me ; but his father could not be persuaded to part with him, in-
tending that he should become a partner with him in business, in
compliance with his favorite theory, that learning was superfluous
in the commerce of ordinary life. Henry had a refined mind; he
had no desire to be idle, and was well pleased to become his father's
partner; but he believed that a man might be a very good trader,
and yet possess a cultivated understanding.
We sat late, listening to his complaints, and making many little
arrangements for the future. The next morning early I departed.
Tears gushed from the eyes of Elizabeth ; they proceeded partly
from sorrow at my departure, and partly because she reflected that
the same journey was to have taken place three months before,
when a mother's blessing would have accompanied me.
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
36 FRANKENSTEIN *, OR,
endeavoring 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 re-
pugnance to new countenances. I loved my brothers, Elizabeth,
and Clerval; these were ''old familiar faces ;" but I believed my-
self 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 knowl-
edge. 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 dur-,
ing 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, and among others
to M. Krempe, professor of natural philosophy. He received me
with politeness, and asked me several questions concerning my
progress in the different branches of science appertaining to
natural philosophy. I mentioned, it is true, with fear and trem-
bling, the only authors I had ever read upon those subjects. 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 entirelj^ 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 3^
natural philosophy in its general relations, and that M. Waldman,
a fellow-professor, would lecture upon chemistry the alternate days
that he missed.
I returned home, not disappointed, for I had long considered
those authors useless whom the profes.sor had so strongly repro-
bated ; but I did not feel much inclined to study the books which I
procured at his recommendation. M. Krempe was a little squat
man, with a gruif voice and repulsive countenance; the teacher,
therefore, did not prepossess me in favor of his doctrine. Besides,
I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It
was very different, when the masters of the science sought im-
mortality 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
Such were my reflections during the first two or three days spent
almost in solitude. 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 benevo-
lence ; a few gray hairs covered his temples, but those at the back
of his head were nearly black. His person was short, but remarka-
bly 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, pro-
nouncing with fervor the names of the most distinguished discov-
erers. 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 im-
possibilities, 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
38 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 dis-
covered 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 the heaven, mimic the earth-
quake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows."
I departed highly pleased with the professor and his lecture, and
paid him a visit the same evening. His manners in private were
even more mild and attractive than in public ; for there was a cer-
tain dignity in his mien during his lecture, which in his own house
was replaced by the greatest affability and kindness. He heard
with attention my 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 us 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 labors of men of
genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately
turning to the solid advantage of mankind." I listened to his state-
ment, which was delivered without any presumption or affectation;
and then added, that his lecture had removed my prejudices against
modern chemists ; and I at the same time 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 made, 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 other branches of science. A man
would make but a very sorry chemist, if he attended to that depart-
ment of human knowledge alone. If your wish is to become really
a man of science, and not a petty experimentalist, I should advise
you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy, including
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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 39
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 mj future des-
■ j^ROM this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry,
-*■ in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly
my sole occupation. I read with ardor those works, so full of gen-
ius and discrimination, which modern inquirers have written on
these subjects. I attended the lectures, and cultivated the acquaint-
ance, of the men of science of the university; and I found even in
M. Krempe a great deal of sound sense and real information, com-
bined, 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 na-
ture that banished every idea of pedantry. It was, perhaps, the
amiable character of this man that inclined me more to that branch
of natural philosophy which he professed, than an intrinsic love for
the science itself. But this state of mind had place only in the first
steps towards knowledge : the more fully I entered into the science,
the more exclusively I pursued it for its own sake. That applica-
tion which at first had been a matter of duty and resolution, now
became so ardent and eager that the stars often disappeared in the
light of morning while I was yet engaged in my laboratory.
As I applied so closely, it may be easily conceived that I improved
rapidly. My ardor 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 ; while
M. Waldman expressed the most heartfelt exultation in my prog-
ress. 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
40 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 s# 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 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 improvement, I thought of
returning to my friends and my native town, when an incident hap-
pened that protracted my stay.
One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my atten-
tion 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 careless-
ness did not restrain our inquiries. I revolved these circumstances
in my mind, and determined thenceforth to apply myself more par-
ticularly to those branches of natural philosophy which relate to
physiology. Unless I had been animated by an almost supernatu-
ral enthusiasm, my application to this study would have been irk-
some, 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 edu-
cation 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 analyzing all the minutiae of
causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 4I
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 prospect which it illus-
trated, 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 discovery were distinct and probable. After days and
nights of incredible labor and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering
the cause of generation and life ; nay, more, I became myself capa-
ble of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.
The astonishment which I had at first experienced on this discov-
ery soon gave place to delight and rapture. After so much time
spent in painful labor, to arrive at once at the summit of my desires
was the most gratifying consummation of my toils. But this dis-
covery 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 w^orld, 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 en-
deavors 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 pas-
sage to life aided only by one glimmering, and seemingly ineffect-
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 em-
ploy it. Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation,
yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its intricacies
4^ FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
of fibres, muscles, and veins, still remained a work of inconceivable
difficulty and labor. 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 com-
plex 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 inces-
santly baffled, and at last my work be imperfect; yet, when I con-
sidered 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 crea-
tion of a human being. As the minuteness of the parts formed a
great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary to my first inten-
tion, 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 suc-
cessfully collecting and arranging my materials, I began.
No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me on-
wards, 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 under-
taking with unremitting ardor. 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 Qext 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 labors,
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
THE MODEI^N PROMETHEUS. 43
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, while, still urged on by an
eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to
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 remember us with affection, and we shall hear regularly from
you. You must pardon me, if I regiird any interruption in your
correspondence as a proof that your other duties are equally neg-
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
44 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
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 ob-
served, if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with
the tranquillity of his domestic affections, Greece had not been en-
slaved ; 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 silence by inquiring into my occupations more particularly
than before. Winter, Spring, and Summer passed during my
labors ; 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 enthu-
siasm 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 favorite employment. Every
night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a
most painful degree, — ; a disease that I dreaded the more because I
had hitherto enjoyed most excellent health, and had always boasted
of the firmness of my nerves. But I believed that exercise and
amusement would soon drive away such symptoms ; and I promised
myself both of these, when my creation should be complete.
IT was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accom-
plishment 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 Avas already one in the morning; the rain pattered dis-
mally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when,
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 45
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 de-
lineate the wretch whom, with such infinite pains and care, I had
endeavored 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 be-
neath ; 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 color
as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled com-
plexion, and straight black lips.
The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feel-
ings 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 ardor that far exceeded moderation ; but now that I had finished,
the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and dis-
gust 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, endeavoring 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 Eliza-
beth, 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, the}^ 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 fore-
head, 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
46 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
down stairs. I took refuge in the court-yard 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
atteintively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to an-
nounce the approach of the demoniacal corse 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 dis-
appointment : 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 asy-
lum, 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, al-
though wetted by the rain,- which poured from a black and comfort-
I continued walking in this manner for some time, endeavoring,
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 1 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."
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 4^
Continuing thus, I came at length opposite to the inn at which
the various diligences and carriages usually stopped. Here I
paused, I know 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 sud-
denly, 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 difliculty to persuade my father that
it was not absolutely necessary for a merchant not to understand
any thing except book-keeping; 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 aff'ection 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-bye, 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
48 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 ac-
customed 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 bed-room 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 sensi-
tiveness, 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 un-
usual 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; " /le 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 bitter-
ness. 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 con-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS, 49
cealing 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 tov^ards
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 for ever 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 un-
common 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
" 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 dis-
appointment of which I have been the occasion ; but you will for-
''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
color, ''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
50 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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
15 from your cousin, I believe."
/^^^LERVAL then put the following letter into my hands : —
''To V. Frankenstein.
"My dear Cousin, — I cannot describe to you the uneasiness we
have all felt concerning your health. We cannot help imagining
that your friend Clerval conceals the extent of your disorder; for it
is now several months since we have seen your handwriting; and
all this time you have been obliged to dictate your letters to Henry.
Surely, Victor, you must have been exceedingly ill; and this makes
us all very wretched, as much so nearly as after the death of your
dear mother. My uncle was almost persuaded that you were indeed
dangerously ill, and could hardly be restrained from undertaking
a journey to Ingolstadt. Clerval always writes that you are getting
better; I eagerly hope that you will confirm this intelligence soon
in your own handwriting; for indeed, indeed, Victor, we are all
very miserable on this account. Relieve us from this fear, and we
shall be the happiest creatures in the world. Your father's health
is now so vigorous, that he appears ten years younger since last
winter. Ernest also is so much improved, that you would hardl}^
know him : he is now nearly sixteen, and has lost that sickly
appearance which he had some years ago : he is grown quite robust
"My uncle and I conversed a long time last night about what
profession Ernest should follow. His constant illness when young
has deprived him of the habits of application ; and now that he
enjoys good health, he is continually in the open air, climbing the
hills, or rowing on the lake. I therefore proposed that he should
be a farmer; which you know, cousin, is a favorite scheme of mine.
A farmer's is a very healthy, happy life ; and the least hurtful, or
rather the most beneficial, profession of any. My uncle had an
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 5 1
idea of his being educated as an advocate, that through his interest
he might become a judge. But, beside that he is not at all fitted
for such an occupation, it is certainly more creditable to cultivate
the earth for the sustenance of man, than to be the confidant, and
sometimes the accomplice, of his vices; which is the profession of
a lawyer. I said that the employments of a prosperous farmer, if
they were not a more honorable, they were at least a happier
species of occupation than that of a judge, whose misfortune it was
always to meddle with the dark side of human nature. My uncle
smiled, and said that I ought to be an advocate myself, which put
an end to the conversation on that subject.
''And now I must tell you a little story that will please and
perhaps amuse you. Do you not remember Justine Moritz? Prob-
ably 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 favorite 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 her 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 distinc-
tion 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 or England. Justine, thus
received in our family, learned the duties of 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.
"After what I have said, I dare say you well remember the
heroine of my little tale : for Justine was a great favorite of yours ;
and I recollect you once remarked, that if you were in an ill humor,
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
5^ FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
respects inconsiderate, yet she paid the greatest attention to every
gesture of my aunt. She thought her the model of all excellence,
and endeavored 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 favorites was a judgment from Heaven to chastise
her partiality. She was a Roman Catholic; and I believe her con-
fessor 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 man-
ners, which had before been remarkable for vivacity. Nor was her
residence at her mother's house of a nature to restore her gayety.
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 last winter. Justine has 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 mien and her expres-
sions 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
wivesy but Louisa Biron is his favorite, 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 ap-
proaching marriage with a young Englishman, John Melbourne,
Esq. Her ugly sister, Manon, married M. Duvillard, the rich
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 53
banker, last autumn. Your favorite 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 very lively pretty French woman,
Madame Tavernier. She is a widow, and much older than Manoir ;
but she is very much admired, and a favorite with everybody.
''I have written myself into good spirits, dear cousin; yet I can-
not conclude without again anxiously inquiring concerning your
health. Dear Victor, if you are not very ill, write yourself, and
make your father and all of us happy; or — I cannot bear to think
of the other side of the question ; my tears already flow. Adieu,
my dearest cousin. Elizabeth Lavenza.
" Geneva, March i8th, 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 con-
valescence 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 under-
went a kind of rough usage, ill befitting the wounds that my mind
had sustained. Ever since the fatal night, the end of my labors
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 instru-
ment 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 ac-
quired a dislike for the room which had previously been my labora-
tory. 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 sub-
ject; but not guessing the real cause, he attributed my feelings to
modesty, and changed the subject from my improvement to the
science itself, w^ith 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 view 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
54 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
always quick in discerning the sensations of others, declined the
subject, alleging in excuse his total ignorance; and the conversa-
tion 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 to 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 enco-
miums 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 outstripped us all. Aye, aye, stare if you please ;
but it IS nevertheless true. A youngster who, but a few years ago,
believed Cornelius Agrippa .as firmly as 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. Aye, aye," 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 annoy-
ing to me.
Clerval was no natural philosopher. His imagination was too
vivid for the minutiae of science. Languages were his principal
study; and he sought, by acquiring their elements, to open a field
for self-instruction on his return to Geneva. Persian, Arabic, and
Hebrew gained his attention after he had made himself perfectly
master of Greek and Latin. For my own part, 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 coilsola-,
tion in the works of the Orientalists. 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 55
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 severely; for I longed to see my na-
tive 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 cheerfullj^; and although the spring
was uncommonly late, when it came, its beauty compensated for its
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 through the environs of Ingolstadt, that
I might bid a personal farewell to the country I had so long inhab-
ited. I acceded with pleasure to this proposition : I was fond of
exercise, and Clerval had always been my favorite companion in
the rambles of this nature that I had taken among the scenes in my
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 ren-
dered 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 did you
love me, and endeavor 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, loving and
beloved by all, had no sorrow or care. When happy, inanimate
nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sen-
sations. 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 endeavors to throw them oft,
with an invincible burden.
Henry rejoiced in my gayety, and sincerely sympathized 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 im-
5^ FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
agination, 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 favorite 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 unbri-
dled joy and hilarity.
N my return, I found the following letter from my father : —
"To V. Frankenstein.
" 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. But what would be your surprise, my son, when you ex-
pected a happy and gay welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears
and wretchedness ! And how, Victor, can I relate your misfortune.^
Absence cannot have rendered you callous to our joys and griefs ;
and how shall I inflict pain on an absent child? I wish to prepare
you for the woful news, but I know it is impossible ; even now
your eye skims over the page, to seek the words which are to con-
vey 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
" I will not attempt to console you ; but I 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 Wil-
liam 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 inquired if we had seen his brother : he said that
they had been playing together, that William had run away to hide
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS.
himself, and that he vainly sought for him, and afterwards waited
for him 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 thero. We returned again with
torches ; for I could not rest when I thought that mj 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 morn-
ing 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 murderer's finger was on his neck.
" He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible on my
countenance betrayed the secret to Elizabeth. She was very ear-
nest 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 infant! '
''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. The picture
is gone, and was doubtless the temptation which urged the mur-
derer 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 afSicted father,
"Geneva, May 12th, 17—."
Clerval, who had watched my countenance as I read this letter,
was surprised to observe the despair that succeeded to the joy I at
58 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
first expressed on receiving news from my friends. I threw the let-
ter 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 to 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 dis-
aster is irreparable. What do you intend to do?"
" To go instantly to Geneva : come with me, Henry, to order the
During our walk, Clerval endeavored to raise my spirits. He did
not do this by common topics of consolation. Those maxims of
the Stoics, that death was no evil, and that the mind of man ought
to be superior to despair on the eternal absence of a beloved object,
ought not to be urged. Even Cato wept over the dead body of his
Clerval spoke thus as we hurried through the streets ; the words
impressed themselves on my mind, and I remembered them after-
wards in my solitude. But now, as soon as the horses arrived, I
hurried into a cabriole, and bade farewell to my friend.
My journey was very melancholy. At first I wished to hurry on,
for I longed to console and sympathize with my loved and sorrow-
ing 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 not advance, dreading a thousand name-
less evils that made me tremble, although I was unable to define
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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 59
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 com-
parative 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 diin 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 that 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 half a league to the east of 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 light-
nings 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, illumi-
nating 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 that part of the lake which lies between the promontory of
Belrive and the village of Copet. Another storm enlightened Jura
6o FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
with faint flashes ; and another darkened and sometimes disclosed
the Mole, a peaked mountain to the east of the lake.
While I watched the storm, so beautiful jet 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 per-
ceived 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 demon 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 im-
agination 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 that fair child. He was the murderer!
I could not doubt it. The mere presence of the idea was an irre-
sistible 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
Mount 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 impenetrable darkness.
I revolved in my mind the events which I had until now sought to
forget; the whole train of my progress towards the creation; the
appearance of the work of my own hands alive at my bedside ; its
departure. Two years had now 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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 6l
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 crea-
tion, and which would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise
so 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. Besides, of what use would be pursuit? Who
could arrest a creature capable of scaling the overhanging sides of
Mount Saleve.f^ These reflections determined me, and I resolved to
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 as 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 respected
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 cofiin 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.
He expressed a sorrowful delight to see 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. But
we are now unhappy, and I am afraid tears instead of smiles will
be your welcome. Our father looks so sorrowful : this dreadful
event seems to have revived in his mind his grief at the death of
mamma. Poor Elizabeth also is quite inconsolable." Ernest began
to weep as he said these words.
''Do not," said I, "welcome me thus; try to be more calm,
that I may not be absolutely miserable the moment I enter my
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR.
father's house after so long an absence. But, tell me, how does
my father support his misfortunes; and how is my poor Eliza-
beth ? "
" She indeed 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
attempt to overtake the winds, or confine a mountain stream with
*'I do not know what you mean; but we were all very unhappy
when she was discovered. 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 all at once become so
extremely wicked ? "
''Justine Moritz! Poor, poor girl, is she the accused? But it is
wrongfully ; every one knows that ; no one believes it, surely,
''No one did at first; but several circumstances came out, that
have almost forced conviction upon us ; and her own behavior 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 to-day, and
you will then hear all."
He related that the morning upon which the murder of poor
William had been discovered, Justine had been taken ill, and con-
fined to her bed; and, after several days, one of the servants hap-
pening 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 say-
ing a word to any of the familj^, 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 endeavored to welcome me
cheerfully; and after we had exchanged our mournful greeting,
would have introduced some other topic than that of our disaster,
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 63
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 ingratitude 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 to-day, and I hope, I sincerely hope, that she will be
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;
and, in this assurance, I calmed myself, expecting the trial with
eagerness, but without prognosticating an evil result.
We were soon joined by Elizabeth. Time had made great altera-
tions in her form since I last beheld her. Six years before she had
been a pretty, good-humored girl, whom every one loved and
caressed. She was now a woman in stature ari*d expression of
countenance, which was uncommonly lovely. An open and capa-
cious forehead gave indications of a good understanding, joined to
great frankness of disposition. Her eyes were hazel, and expres-
sive of mildness, now through recent affliction allied to sadness.
Her hair was of a rich dark auburn, her complexion fair, and her
figure slight and graceful. She welcomed me Avith 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. Alasi 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 even by 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 Wil-
"She is innocent, my Elizabeth," said I, "and that shall be
proved ; fear nothing, but let your spirits be cheered by the assur-
ance of her acquittal."
"How kind 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.
64 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
''Sweet niece," said my father, "dry your tears. If she is, as
you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our judges, and the
activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of par-
TT 7E 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 joy and innocence;
the other far more dreadfullj^ 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 igno-
minious 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 mourn-
ing; 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 beaut}^
rnight 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 evi-
dently 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 guilt-
The trial began; and after the advocate against her had stated
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 65
the charge, several witnesses were called. Several strange facts
combined against her, which might have staggered any one 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
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 any
thing 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 pro-
ceeded, her countenance had altered. Surprise, sorrow, 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 favorable 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 any thing 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 be-
longing to a cottage, being unwilling to call up the inhabitants, to
whom she was well known. Unable to rest or sleep, she quitted
her asylum early, that she might endeavor 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
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 unjiappy 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 enem}^ 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 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 over-
weigh 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 per-
mission 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 death.
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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 6^
mother. For my own part, I do not hesitate to say, that, notwith-
standing 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."
Excellent Elizabeth ! A murmur of approbation was heard ; but
it was excited by her generous interference, and not in favor of
poor Justine, on whom the public indignation was turned with re-
newed 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 be-
lieved in her innocence; I knew it. Could the demon, who had (I
did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother, also in his hell-
ish 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, and the fangs of remorse tore my bosorn,
and would not forego 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 expe-
rienced sensations of horror; and I have endeavored 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."
When I returned home, 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 firm-
ness upon Justine's innocence. "Alas!" said she, "how shall I
ever again believe in human benevolence.'* Justine, whom I loved
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 ill-humor, and yet she has committed a murder."
Soon after we heard that the poor victim had expressed a wish 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 sit-
ting on some straw, at the further 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 conso-
lation? 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?" Her voice was suffo-
cated 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 guilt-
less, 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 threat-
ened 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 sub-
scribed to a lie ; and now only am I truly miserable."
She paused, weeping, and then continued — "I thought with
horror, my sweet lady, that j^ou should believe your Justine, whom
your blessed aunt had so highly honored, 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;
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 69
and that consoles me, going as I am to suffer ignominy and
*' Oh, Justine! forgive me for having for one moment distrusted
you. Why did you confess? But do not mourn, my dear girl; I
will everyv^here proclaim your innocence, and force belief. Yet
you must die ; you, my playfellow^, my companion, my more than
sister. I never can survive so horrible a misfortune."
''Dear, sweet Elizabeth, do not weep. You ought to raise me
with thoughts of a better life, and elevate me from the petty cares
of this world of injustice and strife. Do you not, excellent friend,
drive me to despair."
''I will try to comfort you; but this, I fear, is an evil too deep
and poignant to admit of consolation, for there is no hope. Yet
Heaven bless thee, my dearest Justine, with resignation, and a con-
fidence elevated beyond this world. Oh ! how I hate its shows and
mockeries! when one creature is murdered, another is immediately
deprived of life in a slow, torturing manner; then the executioners,
their hands yet reeking with the blood of innocence, believe that
they have done a great deed. They call this retrzbtctio?i. Hateful
name ! When that word is pronounced, I know greater and more
horrid punishments are going to be inflicted than the gloomiest ty-
rant has ever invented to satiate his utmost revenge. Yet this is
not consolation for you, my Justine, unless indeed that you may
glory in escaping from so miserable a den. Alas ! I would I were in
peace with my aunt and my lovely William, escaped from a world
which is hateful to me, and the visages of men which I abhor."
Justine smiled languidly. ''This, dear lady, is despair, and not
resignation. I must not learn the lesson that you would teach me.
Talk of something else, something that will bring peace, and not
increase of misery."
During the 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 dreary 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 in-
most soul. Justine started. When she saw who it was, she ap-
proached 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."
70 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
" 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 re-
moves 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 mur-
derer, 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 extin-
guish. 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
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."
As we returned, Elizabeth said, "You know not, my dear Victor,
how much I am relieved, now that I trust in the innocence of this
unfortunate girl. I never could again have known peace, if I had
been deceived in my reliance on her. For the moment that I did
believe her guilty, I felt an anguish that I could not have long sus-
tained. Now my heart is lightened. The innocent suffers ; but she
whom I thought amiable and good has not betrayed the trust I
reposed in her, and I am consoled."
Amiable cousin ! such were your thoughts, mild and gentle as
your own dear eyes and voice. But I — I was a wretch, and none
ever conceived of the misery that I then endured.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. *Jl
T^rOTHING 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 de-
prives 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
This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had entirely
recovered from the first shock it had sustained. I shunned the face
of man ; all sound of joy and complacency was torture to me ; soli-
tude was my only consolation, — deep, dark, death-like solitude.
My father observed with pain the alteration perceptible in my dis-
position and habits, and endeavored to reason with me on the folly
of giving way to immoderate grief. "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 pre-
vents 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 with my other
sensations. Now I could only answer my father with a look of
despair, and endeavor to hide myself from his view.
About this time we retired to our house at Belrive. This change
*J2 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
was particularly agreeable to me. The shutting of the gates regu-
larly 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 hy 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 wan-
dered 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 for ever. But I was restrained, when I thought of
the heroic and suifering 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
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 hap-
piness. 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 any thing 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 precipi-
tated him to their base. I wished to see him again, that I might
wreak the utmost extent of anger 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 recent events. Elizabeth was sad
and desponding; she no longer took delight in her ordinary occu-
pations 5 all pleasure seemed to her sacrilege towards the dead;
. THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 73
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 pros-
pects. She had become grave, and often conversed on the incon-
stancy of fortune, and the instability of human life.
'* 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 mis-
ery 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 commit-
ted 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 whoin 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. Yet 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 endeavoring
to plunge me into the abyss. William and Justine were assassin-
ated, and the murderer escapes ! he walks about the world free, and
perhaps respected. But even if I were condemned to sufier on the
scaff*old for the same crimes, I would not change places with such a
I listened to this discourse with the extremest agony. I, not in
deed, but in effect, was the true murderer. Elizabeth read my an-
guish in my countenance, and kindly taking my hand said, "My
dearest cousin, you must calm yourself. These events have aftected
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. Be calm, my dear Vic-
tor; I would sacrifice my life to your peace. We surely shall be
happy : quiet in our native country, and not mingling in the world,
what can disturb our tranquillity?"
She shed tears as she said this, distrusting the very solace that
74 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
she gave; but at the same time she smiled, that she might chase
away the fiend that lurked in my heart. My father, who saw in the
unhappiness that was painted in my face only an exaggeration of
that sorrow which I might naturally feel, thought an amusement
suited to my taste would be the best means of restoring me to my
wonted serenity. It was from this cause that he had removed to
the country, and, induced by the same motive, he now proposed
that we should all make an excursion to the valley of the Chamo-
nix. I had been there before, but Elizabeth and Ernest never had ;
and both had often expressed an earnest desire to see the scenery
of the place, which had been described to them as so wonderful
and sublime. Accordingly we departed from Geneva on this tour
about the middle of the month of August, nearly two months after
the death of Justine.
The weather was uncommonly fine; and if mine had been a
sorrow to be chased away by any fleeting circumstance, this excur-
sion would certainly have had the effect intended by my father.
As it was, I was somewhat interested in the scene; it sometimes
lulled, although it could not extinguish my grief. During the first
day we travelled in a carriage. In the morning we had seen the
mountains at a distance, towards which we gradually advanced.
We perceived that the valley through which we wound, and which
was formed by the river Arve, whose course we followed, closed in
upon us by degrees ; and when the sun had set, we beheld immense
mountains and precipices overhanging us on every side, and heard
the sound of the river raging among rocks, and the dashing of
The next day we pursued our journey upon mules ; and as we
ascended still 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.
We passed the bridge of Pelissier, where the ravine, which the
river forms, opened before us, and we began to ascend the mountain
that overhangs it. Soon after we entered the valley of Chamo-
nix. This valley is more wonderful and sublime, but not so beauti-
ful and picturesque as that of Servox, through which we had just
passed. The high and snowy mountains were its immediate
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 75
boundaries ; but we saw no more ruined castles and fertile fields.
Immense glaciers approached the road; we 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
do7ne overlooked the valley.
During this journey, I sometimes joined Elizabeth, and exerted
myself to point out to her the various beauties of the scene. I
often suffered my mule to lag behind, and indulged in the misery
of reflection. At other times I spurred on the animal before my
companions, that I might forget them, the world, and, more than
all, myself. When at a distance, I alighted, and flirew myself on
the grass, weighed down by horror and despair. At eight in the
evening I arrived at Chamonix. My father and Elizabeth were
very much fatigued; Ernest, who accompanied us, was delighted,
and in high spirits : the only circumstance that detracted from his
pleasure was the south wind, and the rain it seemed to promise for
the next day.
We retired early to our apartments, but not to sleep; at least I
did not. I remained many hours at the window, watching the pallid
lightning that played above Mont Blanc, and listening to the rush-
ing of the Arve, which ran below my window.
THE next day, contrary to the prognostications of our guide,
was fine, although clouded. We visited the source of the
Arveiron, and rode about the valley until evening. 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 returned in the evening, fatigued, but less unhappy, and con-
versed with my family with more cheerfulness than had been my
custom for some time. My father was pleased, and Elizabeth over-
76 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
jojed. **My dear cousin," said she, ''you see what happiness you
diffuse when you are happy; do not relapse again ! "
The following morning the rain poured down in torrents, and
thick mists hid the summits of the mountains. The rain depressed
me; my old feelings recurred, and I was miserable. I knew how
disappointed my father would be at this sudden change, and I
wished to avoid him until I had recovered myself so far as to be
enabled to conceal those feelings that overpowered me. I knew
that they would remain that day at the inn; and as I had ever
inured myself to rain, moisture, and cold, I resolved to go alone 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 alone, for I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence
of another would destroy the solemn 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 thou-
sand 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 moun-
tain, or transversely upon other trees. The path, as you ascend
higher, is intersected by ravines of snow, down which stones con-
tinually 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 moun-
tains, 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 con-
fined 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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 77
" We rest ; a dream has power to poison slefep.
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,
descendir^g 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 wonder-
ful 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 sorrow-
ful, now swelled with something like joy; I exclaimed — " Wander-
ing spirits, if ye indeed 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 of 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 moun-
tains. 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 coun-
tenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and malig-
nity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for
human eyes. But I scarcely observed this ; anger and hatred had at
first deprived me of utterance, and I recovered only to overwhelm
him with words expressive of furious detestation and contempt.
78 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
** Devil !" I exclaimed, ^' do you dare approach me? and do you
not 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 demon. ''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 satisfied 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 re-
proach 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 afiection, 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 ; miserj^ 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."
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 79
** How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a
favorable eye upon thy creature, who implores thj 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 may be, to speak in their
own defence, before they are condemned. Listen to me, Franken-
stein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satis-
fied 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 3^ou call to my remembrance 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
hand 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
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
yon snowy precipices, and illuminate another world, you will have
heard my story, and can decide. On you it rests, whether I quit
for ever the neighborhood of man, and lead a harmless life, or be-
come a scourge to 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 con-
firmation 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.
'' TT 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 8l
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 laj 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 ber-
ries 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
*'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 my-
self 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 sen-
sation of pleasure. I started up, and beheld a radiant form rise
from among the trees. 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 rung 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 sup-
plied 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 sur-
rounded me, and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant roof of
light which canopied me. Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleas-
ant songs of the birds, but was unable. Sometimes I wished to
express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inar-
ticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence
*'The moon had disappeared from the night, and again, with a
lessened form, showed itself, while I still remained, in the forest.
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
My sensations had, by this time, become distinct, and my mind re-
ceived every day additional ideas. My eyes became accustomed to
the light, and to perceive objects in their right forms; I distin-
guished the insect from the herb, and, by degrees, one herb from
another. I found that the sparrow uttered none but harsh notes,
while 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 pro-
duce 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 cov-
ered it carefully with dry wood and leaves, and placed wet branches
upon it; and then, spreading my cloak, I lay on the ground, and
sunk 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 savory 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 83
knew not how to reproduce it. I gave several hours to the serious
consideration of this difficulty; but I was obliged to relinquish all
attempts 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
'' 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 shep-
herd. 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 shep-
herd's breakfast, which consisted of bread, cheese, milk, and wine;
the latter, however, I did not like. 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 re-
commence my travels ; and, depositing the remains of the peasant's
breakfast in a wallet I found, I proceeded across the fields for sev-
eral 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 en-
tered ; but I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before the
children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole vil-
lage was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously
bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I es-
caped to the open country, and fearfully took refuge in a low hovel,
quite bare, and making a wretched appearance after the palaces I
84 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 w^as 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 lit-
tle 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 resi-
dence, — the rain-dropping branches, and dank earth. I ate my
breakfast with pleasure, and was about to remove a plank to pro-
cure 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 de-
meanor, unlike what I have since found cottagers and farm-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 Tl quarter of an hour she returned, bearing the pail, which
was now partly filled with milk. As she walked along, seemingly
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 85
incommoded by the burden, a young man met her,*whose counte-
nance 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. Pres-
ently 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 little dwelling, I found that one of the win-
dows 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, white-
washed 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 dis-
consolate 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 kind-
ness and affection, that I felt sensations of a peculiar and over-
powering 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
''Soon after this the young man returned, bearing on his shoul-
ders a load of wood. The girl met him at the door, helped to re-
lieve 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, while the young
man went into the garden, and appeared busily employed in dig-
ging and pulling up roots. After he had been employed thus about
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
an hour, the j'oung woman joined him, and they entered the cottage
*'The old man had, in the mean time, 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 despatched. 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 fea-
tures were moulded with the finest symmetry; yet his eyes and atti-
tude expressed the utmost sadness and despondency. The old man
returned to the cottage; and the youth, with tools diflferent from
those he had used in the morning, directed his steps across the
*' 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 neighbors.
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
''The family, after having been thus occupied for a short time,
extinguished their lights, and retired, as I conjectured, to rest.
** T 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 con-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. ^ /^ ^7
duct I might hereafter think it right to pursue, that for the present
I would remain quietly in my hovel, watching, and endeavoring 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 com-
panion 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 im-
perfect 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 appear-
ances 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, that 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 them-
''This trait of kindness moved me sensibly. I had been ac-
customed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my
own consumption; but when I found that in doing this I inflicted
88 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
pain on the cottagers, I abstained, and satisfied myself with berries,
nuts, and roots, which I gathered from a neighboring wood.
*' I discovered also another means through which I was enabled
to assist their labors. 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
"I remember, that, the first time 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 ex-
perience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds. I per-
ceived that the words they spoke produced either 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 be-
come 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 clew 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^ breads and zvood. 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,
w^hich •w2iS> 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, z
'*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 beside them; and if any
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 89
other happened to enter the cottage, their harsh manners and rude
gait onlj enhanced to me the superior accomplishments of my
friends. The old man, I could perceive, often endeavored to en-
courage 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 endeavored to wipe away unperceived ; but I generally
found that her countenance and tone were more cheerful after hav-
ing 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 were more sorrowful, his voice
was more cheerful than that of his sister, especially when he ad-
dressed 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 out-house,
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 neighboring 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 de-
grees, 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 endeavor : 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.
90 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
*'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
eflfects 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 pro-
cured a sufficiency of it. Several new kinds of plants sprung up in
the garden, which they dressed ; and these signs of comfort in-
creased 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 morn-
ing 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 labors, performed by an in-
visible hand, greatly astonished them ; and once or twice I heard
them, on these occasions, utter the words good spirit^ wo7iderful ;
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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 9I
them, and their reception of me. I imagined that they would be
disgusted, until bj my gentle demeanor and conciliating words, I
should first win their favor, and afterwards their love.
*' These thoughts exhilarated me, and led me to apply with fresh'
ardor to the acquiring the art of language. My organs were in-
deed 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, al-
though his manners were rude, deserved better treatment than blows
*'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 ii^^ 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.
** T NOW hasten to the more moving part of my story. I shall
-■■ relate events that impressed me with feelings which, from what
I was, 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 labor, — the old man played on his guitar, and the
children listened to him, — I observed that the countenance of Felix
was melancholy beyond expression: he sighed frequently; and
once his father paused in his music, and I conjectured by his man-
ner that he inquired the cause of his son's sorrow. Felix replied in
92 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
a cheerful accent, and the old man was recommencing his music,
when some one tapped at the door.
*^It was a lady on horseback, accompanied by a countryman 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 tint.
*' Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, every
trait of sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantl}^ |xpressed 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 raptur-
ously, 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
*'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 one sound which the stranger repeated
after them, that she was endeavoring to learn their language ; and
the idea instantly occurred to me, that I should make use of the
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 93
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 con-
jectured that their lovely guest was the subject of their conversa-
tion. 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 en-
trancingly 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 accompa-
nied it in sweet accents, but unlike the wondrous strain of the
stranger. The old man appeared enraptured, and said some words,
which Agatha endeavored to explain to Safie, and by which he ap-
peared 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 altera-
tion, that joy had taken the 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 be-
gan to comprehend most of the words uttered by my protectors.
'' In the mean while also, the black ground was covered with herb-
age, 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 day-
light, fearful of meeting with the same treatment as I had formerly
endured in the first village which I entered.
"My days were spent in close attention that I might more speed-
ily master the language; and I may boast that I improved more
rapidl}^ than the Arabian, who understood very little, and conversed
in broken accents, while I comprehended and could imitate almost
every word that was spoken.
94 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
"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 degen-
eration, — of the decline of that mighty empire ; of chivalry, Chris-
tianity, and kings. I heard of the discovery of the American
hemisphere, and wept with Safie over the hapless fate of its original
** 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
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
honor that can befall a sensitive being ; to be base and vicious, as
many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a con-
dition 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 govern-
ments ; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder
ceased, and I hurried 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 ex-
plained 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 acquisitions ; but without either he was con-
sidered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave,
doomed to waste his powers for the profit of the chosen few. And
what was I ? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant ;
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 95
but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of prop-
erty. I was, besides, endowed 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 for ever remained in my native wood,
nor known or 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 oif all thought and feeling; but I learned that
thee 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 in-
tercourse with them, except through means which I obtained by
stealth, when I was unseen and unknown, and which rather in-
creased 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 diff*erence of sexes; of the birth and growth of chil-
dren ; how the father doated 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 re-
membrance 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.
96 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
" I will soon explain to what these feelings tended ; but allow me
now to return to the cottagers, whose story excited in me such vari-
ous feelings of indignation, delight, and wonder, but which all ter-
minated in additional love and reverence for my protectors (for so I
loved, in an innocent, half-painful self-deceit to call them).
*' O OME 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 inter-
esting 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 reli-
gion and wealth, rather than the crime alleged against him, had
been the cause of his condemnation.
*' Felix had 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 Mahometan ; who, loaded with chains, waited in
despair the execution of the barbarous sentence.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 97
** Felix visited the grate at night, and made known to the prisoner
his intentions in his favor. The Turk, amazed and delighted, en-
deavored 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 endeavored 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 proba-
bility of that event as to the consummation of his happiness.
*' During the ensuing days, while the preparations were going for-
ward 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's, who understood
French. She thanked him in the most ardent terms for his in-
tended services towards her father; 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 Mahomet. 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 the
being immured within the walls of a harem, allowed only to occupy
herself with puerile amusements, ill suited to the temper of her
soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and a noble emulation for vir-
tue. The prospect of marrying a Christian, and remaining in a
98 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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, the night
previous to it, he had quitted prison, and before morning was dis-
tant many leagues from Paris. Felix had procured passports in the
name of his father, sister, and himself. He had previously com-
municated 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 favorable opportunity of passing into some part of the
'' 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 mean time he en-
joyed 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 inter-
pretation of looks ; and Safie sang to him the divine airs of her
''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 greatly 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 de-
liverer. 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 lat-
ter should find a favorable opportunity for escape before Felix could
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 99
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 perpetual exile from their
*'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 oppres-
sion, on discovering that his deliverer was thus reduced to poverty
and impotence, became a traitor to good feeling and honor, 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 main-
'' Such were the events that preyed on the heart of Felix, and
rendered him, when I first saw him, the most miserable of his fam-
ily. He could have endured poverty, and, when this distress had
been the meed of his virtue, he would have 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 prepare to return with him 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
*' When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of con-
duct that it would become her to pursue in this emergency. A
residence in Turkey was abhorrent to her; her religion and feel-
ings were alike adverse to it. By some papers of her father's, which
lOO FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
fell into her hands, she heard of the spot where he then resided.
She hesitated some time, but at length she formed her determina-
tion. Taking with her some jewels that belonged to her, and a
small 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 most devoted affection ; but the poor girl
died, and the Arabian was left alone, unacquainted with the lan-
guage 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
'' OUCH 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 deprecate the vices of man-
''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
" One night, during my accustomed visit to the neighboring
wood, where I collected my own food, and brought home firing for
my protectors, I found on the ground a leathern portmanteau, con-
taining several articles of dress and some books. I eagerly seized
the prize, and returned with it to the 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. lOI
of these pleasures gave me extreme delight; I now continually
studied and exercised my mind upon these histories, while 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 some-
times 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 specu-
lation and astonishment. The gentle and domestic manners de-
scribed, combined with lofty sentiments and feelings, which had
for their object something out of self, accorded well with my expe-
rience among my protectors, and with the wants which were for
ever alive in my own bosom. But I thought Werter himself a
more divine being than I had ever beheld or imagined ; his char-f
acter contained no pretension, but it sunk 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 feel-
ings and condition. I found myself similar to, yet at the same time
strangely unlike, the beings concerning whom I read, and to whose
conversation I was a listener. I sympathized with, and partly
understood them, but I was uninformed 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 desti-
nation.^ These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to
*'The volume of 'Plutarch's Lives' which I possessed, con-
tained 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
r02 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 con-
cerned in public affairs governing or massacring their species.
I felt the greatest ardor 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, burn-
ing for glory and slaughter, I should have been imbued with differ-
"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 crea-
tures was capable of exciting. I often remarked the several situa-
tions, as their similarity struck me to my own. Like Adam, I was
created, apparently united by no link to any other being in exist-
ence ; but his state was far different from mine in every other
respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect crea-
ture, 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 feel-
ings. 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 pre-
ceded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every
step you took in the progress of your work; this history was min-
gled with accounts of domestic occurrences. You, doubtless, recol-
lect these papers. Here they are. Every thing 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. IO3
is given, in language which painted your own horrors, and ren-
dered mine ineffaceable. I sickened as I read. ' Hateful day when
I received life! ' I exclaimed in agony. ' Cursed 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
from its very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-
devils, to admire and encourage him ; but I am solitary and de-
'' These were the reflections of my hours of despondency and soli-
tude ; 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 so-
licited 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 under-
standing 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 wisdom.
'' Several changes, in the mean time, took place in the cottage.
The presence of Safie diff'used 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 labors by servants. They did not appear
rich, but 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 moon-
shine, even as that frail image and that inconstant shade.
*^I endeavored 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 sym-
pathizing 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, or shared my thoughts ; I was
alone. I remembered Adam's supplication to his Creator; but
I04 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
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 ap-
pearance it had worn when I first beheld the woods and 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
turned towards me with affection was the utmost limit of my ambi-
tion. I dared not think that they would turn them from me with
disdain and horror. The poor that stopped at their door were ne'er
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 be-
lieve 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 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 un-
natural 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 media-
tion 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. IO5
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 neighboring 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 sunk 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 determina-
tion, 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 al-
low me to remain a few minutes before the fire.'
" ' Enter,' said De Lacey ; ' and I will try in what manner I can
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
"'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 favor I have
" ' Are these Germans ? '
" 'No, they are French. But let us change the subject. I am an
unfortunate and deserted creature ; I look around, and have no rela-
tion 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 for ever.'
" ' 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
"'They are kind — they are the most excellent creatures in the
Io6 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 over-
" ' Where do these friends reside.'^'
'' ' Near this spot.'
"The old man paused, and then continued, 'If you will un-
reservedly confide to me the particulars of your tale, I may perhaps
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
"' 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
" ' 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 mis-
"'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 for ever grateful ; and your present humanity as-
sures me of success with those friends whom I am on the point of
" '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 for ever. I struggled
vainly for firmness sufl[icient to answer him, but the efi'ort 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. IO7
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 jour 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 conster-
nation on beholding me? Agatha fainted; and Safie, unable to
attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix darted for-
ward, 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 with-
in 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 unper-
ceived to my hovel.
'^/^URSED, 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 bowlings. I was like a wild
beast that had broken the toils ; destroying the objects that ob-
structed me, and ranging through the wood with a stag-like swift-
ness. 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 archfiend, bore a hell within me ; and, finding myself un-
sympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and
destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the
I08 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
^^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 have discovered mj^self 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, a*nd 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 for ever 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, crept forth from
my hiding-place, and went in search of food.
"When my hunger was appeased, I directed my steps toward
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 past,
the sun mounted high in the heavens, but the cottagers did not
appear. I trembled violently, apprehending some dreadful mis-
fortune. The inside of the cottage was dark, and I heard no mo-
tion ; I cannot describe the agony of this suspense.
"Presently two countrymen passed by; but, pausing near the
cottage, they entered into conversation, using violent gesticula-
tions; but I did not understand what they said, as they spoke the
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. IO9
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 morn-
ing, 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
'' ' 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 sis-
ter will never recover 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, an-
ger returned, a rage of anger; and, unable to injure any thing
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 gar-
den, 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 reflec-
tion. I lighted the dry branch of a tree, and danced with fury
around the devoted cottage, my eyes still fixed on the western hori-
zon, the edge of wiiich the moon nearly touched. A part of its orb
no Frankenstein; or,
was at length hid, and I waved mj brand; it sunk, and with a loud
scream I fired the straw and heath and bushes which I had col-
lected. The wind fanned the fire, and the cottage was quickly en-
veloped 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
''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 situa-
tions of the difterent 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
south-westerly 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 suc-
cor, 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 an}^ claim for pit}^ 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
"Mj'- 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 vis-
age 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 cur-
ses 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. Ill
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 mis-
ery could not extract their 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
" 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 con-
tinue 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 sun-
shine 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 con-
ceal 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 some one 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 labor from the force of the current,
saved her, and dragged her to shore. She was senseless ; and I
endeavored, 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 sunk to
the ground, and my injurer, with increased swiftness, escaped into
112 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
*'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 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, endeavoring
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 suffer-
ings were augmented also by the oppressive sense of the injustice
and ingratitude of their infliction. My daily vows rose for revenge,
such as would alone compensate for the outrages and anguish I had
''After some weeks my wound healed, and I continued my jour-
ney. The labors 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, 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 pros-
pect of the sun setting behind the stupendous mountains of Jura.
"At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain of reflec-
tion, 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, there-
fore, 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. II3
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
" ' Hideous monster ! let me go ; my papa is a Syndic ; — he is M.
Frankenstein ; he would 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 impregnable; 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 re-
membered that I was for ever 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 aff'right.
" Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with rage.^
I only wonder, that, at that moment, instead of venting my sensa-
tions in exclamations and agony, I did not rush among mankind,
and perish in the attempt to destroy them.
"While I was overcome by these feelings, I left the spot where I
had committed the murder, and was seeking a more secluded hiding-
place, when I perceived a young woman passing near me. 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 smiles are
bestowed on all but me; she shall not escape : thanks to the lessons
of Felix, and the sanguinary laws of man, I have learned how to
work mischief. I approached her unperceived, and placed the por-
trait securely in one of the folds of her dress.
" For some days I haunted the spot where these things had taken
place ; sometimes wishing to see you, sometimes resolved to quit the
world and its miseries for ever. At length I wandered toward these
1 14 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
mountains, and have ranged through their immense recesses, con-
sumed by a burning passion which jou alone can gratify. We
may not part until you have promised to comply with my requisi-
tion. 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."
nr^HE being finished speaking, and fixed his looks upon me in
-*- 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 as a right which you must not
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 cot-
tagers, 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 j^ou ; you may torture me, but I
will never consent."
'^You are in the wrong," replied the fiend; '^ and, instead of
threatening, I 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 ; remem-
ber that, and tell me why I should pity man more than man pities
me? You would not, certainly, call it murder, if you could pre-
cipitate me into one of those ice-rifts, and destroy my frame, the
work of your own hands. Shall I respect the man, when he con-
temns me? Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness,
and, instead of injury, I would bestow every benefit upon him, with
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. II5
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 arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear in-
extinguishable hatred. Have a care : I will work at your destruc-
tion, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you 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 an hundred and an hundred fold : 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. O
my creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for
one benefit ! Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some exist-
ing thing; do not deny me my request.^"
I was moved. I shuddered when I thought of the possible con-
sequences 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 aff'ord me suflScient nourish-
ment. 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 compas-
Il6 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
sion in your eyes ; let me seize the favorable 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 sym-
pathy 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 your-
self to my complaints? I swear to you, by the earth which I in-
habit, and by you that made me, that, with the companion you
bestow, I will quit the neighborhood 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 ha-
tred. 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
" 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 aftording a wider scope for your revenge?"
" How is this? I thought I had moved your compassion, and yet
you still refuse to bestow on me the only beneflt that can soften my
heart, and render me harmless. If I have no ties and no affections,
hatred and vice must be my portion : the love of another will de-
stroy the cause of my crimes, and I shall become a thing of whose
existence every one 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 become 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 vari-
ous arguments which he had employed. I thought of the promise
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. II7
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
for ever, and every other place in the neighborhood 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,
that if you grant my prayer, while they exist you shall never behold
me again. Depart to your home, and commence your labors : 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 him
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 encom-
passed in darkness ; but my heart was heavy and my steps slow.
The labor of winding among the little paths of the mountains, 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 half-way resting-place,
and seated myself beside the fountain. The stars shone at inter-
vals, as the clouds passed from over them ; the dark pines rose be-
fore 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, " O 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
These were wild and miserable thoughts ; but I cannot describe
to you how the eternal twinkling of the stars weighed upon me, and
Il8 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
how I listened to every blast of wind, as if it were a dull, ugly sirocco
on its way to consume me.
Morning dawned before I arrived at the village of Chamonix;
but my presence, so haggard and strange, hardly calmed the fears
of my family, who had waited the whole night in anxious expecta-
tion of my return.
The following day we returned to Geneva. The intention of my
father in coming had been to divert my mind, and to restore my lost
tranquillity; but the medicine had been fatal. And, unable to ac-
count for the excess of misery I appeared to suffer, he hastened to
return home, hoping the quiet and monotony of a domestic life
would by degrees alleviate my sufferings, from whatever cause they
For myself, I was passive in all their arrangements ; and the gen-
tle affection of my beloved Elizabeth was inadequate to draw me
from the depth of my despair. The promise I had made to the
demon weighed upon my mind, like Dante's iron cowl on the heads
of the hellish hj^pocrites. All my pleasures of earth and sky passed
before me like a dream, and that thought only had to me the reality
of life. Can you wonder that sometimes a kind of insanity pos-
sessed me, or that I saw continually about me a multitude of filthy
animals, inflicting on me incessant torture, that often extorted
screams and bitter groans?
By degrees, however, these feelings became calmed. I entered
again into the every-day scene of life, if not with interest, at least
with some degree of tranquillity.
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 disquisi-
tion. 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. II9
to visit England for this purpose ; but I clung to every pretence of
delay, and could not resolve to interrupt my returning tranquillity.
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 melanchol}^, which every now and
then would return hy 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 this exordium, and my father continued, —
^*I confess, my son, that I have always looked forward to your
marriage with your cousin 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, per-
haps, 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 honor to your
cousin, this struggle may occasion the poignant misery which you
appear to feel."
"My dear father, re-assure 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
I20 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
*'The expression of your sentiments on this subject, my dear
Victor, gives me more pleasure than I have for some time expe-
rienced. If you feel this, we shall assuredly be happy, hov^ever
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 unfor-
tunate, and recent events have drawn us from that every-day tran-
quillity befitting my years and infirmities. You are younger; yet I
do not suppose, possessed, as you are, of a competent fortune, that
an early marriage would at all interfere with any future plans of
honor 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 candor, and answer me, I conjure you, with confidence
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 endeavored to arrive at some conclusion.
Alas ! to me the idea of an immediate union with my cousin 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 under-
taking. The latter method of obtaining the desired intelligence
was dilatory and unsatisfactory : besides, any variation was agree-
able to me, and I was delighted with the idea of spending a year or
two in change of scene and variety of occupation, in absence from
my family; during which period some event might happen which
would restore me to them in peace and happiness : my promise
might be fulfilled, and the monster have departed; or some acci-
dent might occur to destroy him, and put an end to my slavery for
These feelings dictated my answer to my father. I expressed a
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 121
wish to visit England ; but, concealing the true reasons of this
request, I clothed my desires under the guise of wishing to travel
and see the world before I sat down for life within the walls of my
I urged my entreaty with earnestness, and my father was easily
induced to comply; for a more indulgent and less dictatorial parent
did not exist upon earth. Our plan was soon arranged. I should
travel to Strasburg, where Clerval would join me. Some short
time would be spent in the towns of Holland, and our principal
stay would be in England. We should return by France ; and it
was agreed that the tour should occupy the space of two years.
My father pleased himself with the reflection, that my union with
Elizabeth should take place immediately on my return to Geneva.
''These two years," said he, ''will pass swiftly, and it will be the
last delay that will oppose itself to your happiness. And, indeed,
I earnestly desire that period to arrive, when we shall all be united,
and neither hopes nor fears arise to disturb our domestic calm."
*'I am content," I replied, "with your arrangement. By that
time we shall both have become wiser, and I hope happier, than we
at present are." I sighed ; but my father kindly forbore to question
me further concerning the cause of my dejection. He hoped that
new scenes, and the amusement of travelling, would restore my
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 Eng-
land.^ This imagination was dreadful in itself, but soothing, inas-
much 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
It was in the latter end of August that I departed, to pass two
years of exile. Elizabeth approved of the reasons of my departure,
and only regretted that she had not the same opportunities of en-
larging her experience, and cultivating her understanding. She
wept, however, as she bade me farewell, and entreated me to return
123 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
happy and tranquil. *' We all," said she, ''depend upon you; and
if you are miserable, what must be our feelings?"
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 an-
guish that I reflected on it, to order that my chemical instruments
should be packed to go with me ; for I resolved to fulfil my promise
while abroad, and return, if possible, a free man. 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 bourn of my travels, and the work which was to oc-
cupy me while they endured.
After some days spent in listless indolence, during which I trav-
ersed many leagues, I arrived at Strasburg, where I waited two
days for Clerval. He came. Alas, how great was the contrast be-
tween 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 shift-
ing colors of the landscape, and the appearances of the sky. " This
is what it is to live," he cried; " now I enjoy existence! But you,
my dear Frankenstein, wherefore are you desponding and sorrow-
ful.^" 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 to listen 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 Strasburg
to Rotterdam, whence we might take shipping for London. Dur-
ing this voyage, we passed b}^ many willowy islands, and saw sev-
eral beautiful towns. We staid a day at Manheim, and, on the fifth
from our departure from Strasburg, arrived at Mayence. The
course of the Rhine below the Mayence becomes much more pictur-
esque. The river descends rapidly, and winds between hills, not
high, but steep, and of beautiful forms. We saw many ruined cas-
tles 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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 23
We travelled at the time of the vintage, and heard the song of the
laborers, as we glided down the stream. Even I, depressed in mind,
and my spirits continually agitated by gloomy feelings, even I w2ls
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 w^ere 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 moun-
tains 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 relieve 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 over-
hangs yon precipice ; and also that on the island, almost concealed
among the foliage of those lovely trees ; and now that group of
laborers, 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 sensi-
bility of his heart. His soul overflowed with ardent affections, and
his friendship was of that devoted and wondrous nature that the
worldly 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 ardor : —
* Leigh Hunt's "Rimini.*"
124 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
" The sounding cataract
Haunted him like a passion ; the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood.
Their colors 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
Unborrowed from the eye."*
And where does he now exist? Is this gentle and lovely being
lost for ever? 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 con-
trary, 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.
* V^ordsworth's "Tintern Abbey."
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I/25
T ONDON was our present point of rest; we determined to re-
-■— ' main 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 infor-
mation 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 hap-
piness, 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 irk-
some 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, joy-
ous faces brought back despair to my heart. I saw an insurmounta-
ble 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 inquisi-
tive, and anxious to gain experience and instruction. The differ-
ence of manners which he observed was to him an inexhaustible
source of instruction and amusement. He was for ever busy; and
the only check to his enjoyments was my sorrowful and dejected
mien. 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 reflection.
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 req^ ived 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
126 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
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 the mountains and streams, and all the
wondrous works with which Nature adorns her chosen dwelling-
We had arrived in England at the beginning of January, 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 Edin-
burgh, 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 my chemical instruments, and the materials
I had collected, resolving to finish my labors 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 Falk-
land, the insolent Gower, 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 mag-
nificent ; 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 imbosomed among aged trees.
I enjoyed this scene ; and yet my enjoyment was imbittered both
by the memory of the past, and the anticipation of the future. I
was formed for peaceful happiness. During my youthful days, dis-
content never visited my mind ; and if I was ever overcome by
e7t?iui^ the sight of what is beautiful in nature, or the study of what
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 27
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, v^hat I shall soon cease to be, — a
miserable spectacle of wrecked humanity, pitiable to others, and
abhorrent to myself.
We passed a considerable period at Oxford, rambling among its
environs, and endeavoring 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 con-
template the divine ideas of liberty and self-sacrifice, of which these
sights were the monuments and the remembrances. 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 neighborhood of this
village resembled, to a greater degree, the scenery of Switzerland;
but every thing 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 of in the same manner as in the collections at Servox and
Chamonix. 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 northward, we passed two months
in Cumberland and Westmoreland. 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 Cler-
val 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 him-
self to have possessed while he associated with his inferiors. ''I
could pass my life here," said he to me; "• and among these moun-
tains I should scarcely regret Switzerland and the Rhine."
128 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
But he found that a traveller's life is one that includes much pain
amid its enjoyments. His feelings are for ever 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
We had scarcely visited the various lakes of Cumberland and
Westmoreland, and conceived an affection for some of the in-
habitants, 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 demon's disappointment. He
might remain in Switzerland, and wreak his vengeance on my
relatives. This idea pursued me, and tormented me at every mo-
ment 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 remiss-
ness by murdering my companion. When these thoughts pos-
sessed 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 a hor-
rible 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, passed through Coupar, St. An-
drews, and along the banks of the Tay, to Perth, where our friends
expected us. But I was in no mood to laugh and talk with stran-
gers, or enter into their feelings or plans with the good humor ex-
pected 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
•^ THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 29
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
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 com-
With this resolution, I traversed the northern highlands, and fixed
on one of the remotest Orkneys as the scene of my labors. 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. Vege-
tables and bread, when they indulged in such luxuries, and even
fresh water, were 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 unplas-
tered, 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 suffer-
ing blunt even the coarsest sensations of men.
In this retreat I devoted the morning to labor; 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 Switzer-
land; it was far different from this desolate and appalling land-
scape. Its hills are covered with vines, and its cottages are scattered
130 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 labor, 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 sequel of my labor,
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, im-
mersed 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 labor was already consid-
erably 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.
SAT one evening in my laboratory ; the sun had set, and the
moon was just rising from the sea; I had not suf!icient light for
my employment, and I remained idle in a pause of consideration
of whether I should leave my labor for the night, or hasten its con-
clusion by an unremitting attention to it. As I sat, a train of re-
flection 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I3I
manner, and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had
desolated my heart, and filled it for ever 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 malig-
nant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and
wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighborhood 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 demon 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 a right, for my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting
generations ? I had before been moved by the sophisms of the be-
ing 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
I trembled, and my heart failed within me ; when, on looking up,
I saw by the light of the moon, the demon at the casement. A
ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat ful-
filling 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 fulfilment 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
132 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
I left the room, and, locking the door, made a solemn vow in my
own heart never to resume my labors ; 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 op-
pression 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
In a few minutes after, I heard the creaking of my door, as if
some one endeavored 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 endeavor to fly from an impend-
ing 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 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 weakness is past, and the period of your power
is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wicked-
ness ; but they confirm me in a resolution of not creating you* a
companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 33
a demon, whoise 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 aftection, 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 for ever. 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 tor-
mentor, 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
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 house
with precipitation : in a few moments I saw him in his boat, which
shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness, and was soon lost
amid the waves.
All was again silent; but his words rung 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 per-
turbed, 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 toward the mainland. I shuddered to
think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate re-
venge. And then I thought again of his words, — " I wi'll be ivith
you on your weddhig-ntght.^^ That, then, was the period for the ful-
filment of my destiny. In that hour I should die, and at once sat-
isfy 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,
134 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 vio-
lence of rage sinks into the depth 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 be-
tween 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 miser3^ If I returned, it was to be sacrificed, or to
see those whom I most loved die under the grasp of a demon 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 over-
powered by a deep sleep. I had been awake the whole of the pre-
ceding night : my nerves were agitated, and my eyes inflamed by
watching and misery. The sleep into which I now sunk re-
freshed 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
rung 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 Cler-
val, entreating me to join him. He said that nearly a year had
elapsed since we had quitted Switzerland, and France was yet un-
visited. He entreated me, therefore, to leave my solitary isle, and
meet him at Perth, in a week from that time, when we might
arrange the plan of our future proceedings. This letter in a degree
recalled me to life, and I determined to quit my island at the expira-
tion of two daj^s.
Yet, before I departed, there was a task to perform, on which I
shuddered to reflect : I must pack 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 suflficient courage, and unlocked the door of my labora-
tory. The remains of the half-finished creature, whom I had de-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I35
stroyed, 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 con-
veyed 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 mean time I sat
upon the beach, employed in cleaning and arranging my chemical
Nothing could be more complete than the alteration that had
taken place in my feelings since the night of the appearance of the
demon. 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 labors
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 flend 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 diff'erent 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 awaj'- 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 sunk, and then sailed away from the
spot. The sky became clouded ; but the air was pure, although
chilled by the north-east breeze that was then rising. But it re-
freshed 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, every thing was obscure, and I heard only
the sound of the boat as its keel cut through the waves ; the mur-
mur 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.
136 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
The wind was high, and the waves continually threatened the safety
of my little skiff. I found that the wind was north-east, and must
have driven me far from the coast from which I had embarked.
I endeavored 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 little 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 starva-
tion, 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 suffer-
ings. 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 ; and sunk into a reverie, so despairing and fright-
ful, that even now, when the scene is on the point of closing before
me for ever, 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.
Although 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 trans-
ported back to the neighborhood of civilized man. I eagerly 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. For-
tunately I had money with me. As I turned the promontory, I
perceived a small neat town and a good harbor, which I entered,
my heart bounding with joy at my most unexpected escape. As I
THE MODERN PR0METH:EUS. I37
was occupied in fixing the boat and arranging the sails, several
people crowded towards the spot. Thej seemed very much sur-
prised at my appearance ; but, instead of offering me any assist-
ance, 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 gruff
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
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 Eng-
lishmen 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 increased. 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, approach-
ing, 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?"
"Aye, sir, free enough for honest folks. Mr. Kirwin is a magis-
trate, 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 and death.
I3S FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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.
T 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
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 harbor, 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 com-
panions followed him at some distance. As he was proceeding
along the sands, he struck his foot against something, and fell all
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, upon 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 endeavored,
but in vain, to restore it to life. He 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I39
a keen eye, and of course drew an unfavorable augury from my
The son confirmed the father's account : but when Daniel Nugent
was called, he swore positively, that, just before the fall of his com-
panion, 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 stand-
ing at the door of her cottage, waiting for the return of the fisher-
men, 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 fisherman 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 apoth-
ecary, 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 dur-
ing 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
harbor, 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 per-
sons, 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, that faintly reminds me of the
anguish of the recognition. The trial, the presence of the magis-
trate and witnesses, passed like a dream from my memory, when I
140 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
saw the lifeless form of Henrj 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 agonizing suffer-
ing that I endured, and I was carried out of the room in strong
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 murderer of William, of Justine, and of Clerval. Some-
times 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 grasping my neck, and I screamed aloud
with agony and terror. Fortunately, as I spoke my native lan-
guage, 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 doating
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 gaolers, 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 those of persons accustomed to see without sympathizing in
sights of misery. Her tone expressed her entire indifterence ; she
addressed me in English, and the voice struck me as one that I had
heard during my sufferings : —
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I4I
*^ 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 ; but you will be
hung when the next sessions come on. 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
I turned with loathing from the woman who could utter so unfeel-
ing 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 deaf 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 brutalitj^ was strongly marked in the
visage of the second. Who could be interested in the fate of a mur-
derer but the hangman who would gain his fee.'*
These were my first reflections ; but I soon learned that Mr. Kir-
win 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 re-
lieve the suff'erings 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 at long intervals.
One day, when I was gradually recovering, I was seated in a chair,
my eyes half open, and my cheeks livid like those of death : I was
overcome by gloom and misery, and often reflected I had better seek
death than remain miserably pent up only to be let loose in a world
replete with wretchedness. At one time I considered whether I
should not declare myself guilty, and sufl'er 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 en-
142 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
tered. 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 any thing
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 re-
lief 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
''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 hospi-
tality; 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. Kir-
win hastened to say, —
"It was not until a day or two after your illness, that I thought
of examining your dress, 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 dis-
covered from its commencement to be from your father. I instantly
wrote to Geneva : nearly two months have elapsed since the depart-
ure 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 some one, 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I43
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
" 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 has-
ten to me ? "
My change of manner surprised and pleased the magistrate ; per-
haps he thought that my former exclamation was a momentary
return of delirium, and now he instantly resumed his former benevo-
lence. He rose and quitted the room with my nurse, and in a mo-
ment 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 en-
deavored, by dwelling on these subjects so interesting to my heart,
to raise my desponding spirits ; but he soon felt that a prison can-
not be the abode of cheerfulness. "What a place is this that you
inhabit, my son ! " said he, looking mournfully^t the barred win-
dows and wretched appearance of the room.. "You travelled to
seek happiness, but a fatality seems to pursue you. And poor
The name of my unfortunate and murdered friend was an agita-
tion too great to be endured in my weak state ; I shed tears.
"Alas! yes, my father," replied I; "some destiny of the most
horrid 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 insure 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.
144 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
As my sickness quitted me, I was absorbed by a gloomy and black
melancholy, that nothing could dissipate. The image of Clerval
was for ever 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 miser-
able and detested a life? It was surely that I might fulfil my des-
tiny, 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 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
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 county-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
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 allowed 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 for ever;
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 of 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. Some-
times, indeed, I felt a wish for happiness ; and thought, with melan-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I45
choly 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 sel-
dom interrupted, but by paroxysms of anguish and despair. At
moments I often endeavored to put an end to the existence I
loathed ; and it required unceasing attendance and vigilance to re-
strain me from committing some dreadful act of violence.
I remember, as I quitted the prison, I heard one of the men say,
'' He may be innocent of the murder, but he has certainly a bad
conscience." These words struck me. A bad conscience ! yes,
surely I had one. William, Justine, and Clerval had died through
my infernal machinations; "And whose death," cried I, "is to
finish the tragedy? Ah! my father, do not remain in this wretched
country ; take me where I may forget myself, my existence, and all
My father easily acceded to my desire ; and, after having taken
leave of Mr. Kirwin, we hastened to Dublin. I felt as if I was
relieved from a heavy weight, when the packet sailed with a fair
wind from Ireland, and I had quitted for ever the country which had
been to me the scene of so much misery.
It was midnight. My father slept in the cabin ; and 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 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 remem-
bered shuddering at the mad enthusiasm that hurried me on to the
creation of my hideous enemy, and I called to mind the night
during which he first lived. I was unable to pursue the train
of thought; a thousand feelings pressed upon me, and I wept
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 neces-
14^ FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
sarj for the preservation of life. Oppressed bj the recollection of
my various misfortunes, I now took a double dose, 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 on my neck, and could not free myself from it;
groans and cries rung in my ears. My father, who was watching
over me, perceiving my restlessness, awoke me, and pointed to the
port of Holyhead, which we were now entering.
TT 7E had resolved not to go to London, but to cross the country
^ ^ to Portsmouth, and thence embark for Havre. I preferred
this plan, principally because I dreaded again to see those places in
which I had enjoyed a few moments of tranquillity with my beloved
Clerval. I thought with horror of seeing again those persons
whom we had been accustomed to visit together, and who might
make inquiries concerning an event, the very remembrance of
which made me again feel the pang I endured when I gazed on his
lifeless form in the inn at .
As for my father, his desires and exertions were bounded to the
again seeing me restored to health and peace of mind. His tender-
ness and attentions were unremitting; my grief and gloom were
obstinate, but he would not despair. Sometimes he thought that I
felt deeply the degradation of being obliged to answer a charge of
murder, and he endeavored 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 con-
sider it as caused by delirium, and that, during my illness, some
idea of this kind had presented itself to my imagination, the re-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I47
membrance of which I preserved in my convalescence. I avoided
explanation, and maintained a continual silence concerning the
wretch I had created. I had a feeling that I should be supposed
mad, and this for ever chained my tongue, when I would have given
the whole world to have confided the fatal secret.
Upon this occasion, my father said, with an expression of un-
bounded wonder, "What do you mean, Victor? are you mad? My
dear son, I entreat you never to make such an assertion."
'' 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 con-
versation, and endeavored 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 awaj^, I became more calm : my 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.
We arrived at Havre on the 8th of May, and instantly proceeded
to Paris, where my father had some business, which detained us a
few weeks. In this city, I received the following letter from Eliza-
beth : —
*'To Victor Frankenstein.
*^My dearest Friend, — It gave me the greatest pleasure to re-
ceive 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 fort-
night. My poor cousin, how much you must have suff'ered ! 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 devoid of comfort and
I4S FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
''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
I have no more to do than to sign myself your affectionate cousin.
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 favorite
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 play-fellows 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 con-
nection, and believe yourself bound in honor to fulfil the wishes of
your parents, although they opposed themselves to your inclina-
tions. But this is false reasoning. I confess to j'ou, my cousin,
that I love you, and that in my airy dreams of futuritj^ 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
honor^ all hope of that love and happiness which would alone re-
store you to yourself. I, who have so interested 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 j^ou not to be made miserable by this sup-
position. Be happy, vny friend; and, if you obey me in this one
THE MODERN PilOMKTHEUS. I49
request, remain satisfied that nothing on earth will have power to
interrupt my tranquillity.
*'Do not let this letter disturb you; do not answer it to-morrow,
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.
" Geneva, May i8th, 17 — ."
This letter revived in my memory what I had before forgotten,
the threat of the fiend, — '^ I will be vjith you on your wedding-
nigJit!'' Such was my sentence, and on that night would the de-
mon 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 was 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 re-read 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 per-
haps more dreadful, means of revenge. He had vowed to be zvitk
77ie on my wedding-nighty yet he did not consider that threat as bind-
ing him to peace in the mean time ; for, as if to show me that he
was not yet satiated with blood, he had murdered Clerval immedi-
ately after the enunciation of his threats. I resolved, therefore,
that if my immediate union with my cousin would conduce either
to her or my father's happiness, my adversary's designs against my
life should not retard it a single hour.
150 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
In this state of mind I wrote to Elizabeth. My letter was calm
and affectionate. *^I fear, my beloved girl," I said, ^Mittle happi-
ness remains for us on earth; yet all that I may one day enjoy is
concentred in you. Chase away your idle fears; to you alone do I
consecrate my life, and my endeavors for contentment. I have one
secret, Elizabeth, a dreadful one; when revealed to you, it will chill
3^our 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 per-
fect 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. My cousin 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 on 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, 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 b}^ passion, and
inspire me with human feelings when sunk in torpor. She wept
with me, and for me. When reason returned, she would remon-
strate, and endeavor 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 my cousin. 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
'' My dear Victor, do not speak thus. Heavy misfortunes have
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I5I
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 affec-
tion 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 ivith you on your wedding- nighty'" 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 of what might be the
hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have
banished myself for ever 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 prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer
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 ever-watchful 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. A house
was purchased for us near Cologny, by which we should enjoy the
pleasures of the country, and yet be so near Geneva as to see my
father every day; who would still reside within the walls, for the
benefit of Ernest, that he might follow his studies at the schools.
152 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
In the mean time, 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 appear-
ance 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 demeanor 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 the following day.
My father was in the mean time overjoyed, and, in the bustle of
preparation, only observed 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 pass the
afternoon and night at Evian, and return to Cologny the next morn-
ing. As the day was fair, and the wind favorable, we resolved to
go by water.
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 Sal^ve, the pleasant banks of Montalegre,
and at a distance, surmounting all, the beautiful Mont Blanc, and
the assemblage of snowy mountains that in vain endeavor 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 suftered, and what I may yet endure,
you would endeavor 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
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I53
opened before us; but I will not listen to such a sinister voice.
Observe how fast we move along, and how the clouds, which some-
times 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 endeavored to divert her thoughts and mine from
all reflection upon melancholy subjects. But her temper was fluc-
tuating; joy for a few instants shone in her eyes, but it continually
gave place to distraction and reverie.
The sun sunk 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, sunk at sunset to a light breeze ; the soft air just ruflfled
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 sunk 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 for ever.
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
The wind, which had fallen in the south, now rose with great vio-
lence 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
154 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 relax the impending con-
flict until my own life, or that of my adversary, was extinguished.
Elizabeth observed my agitation for some time in timid and fear-
ful silence; at length she said, ''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 dreadful 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
She left me, and I continued some time walking up and down the
passages of the house, and inspecting every corner that might aflford
a retreat to my adversary. But I discovered no trace of him, and
was beginning to conjecture that some fortunate chance had inter-
vened 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
Great God ! why did I not then expire.? Why am I here to relate
the destruction of the best hope, and the purest creature of earth?
She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her
head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half cov-
ered 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, and I
lost recollection : I fainted.
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 feel-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I55
ings 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
ardor; but the deathly 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 marks of the
fiend's grasp were 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 ba,ck;
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, shot; 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 by my fancy. After having landed,
they proceeded to search the country, parties going in different
directions among the woods and vines.
I did not accompany them ; I was exhausted : a film covered my
eyes, and my skin was parched with the heat of fever. In this state
I lay on a bed, hardly conscious of what had happened; my eyes
wandered round the room, as if to seek something that I had lost.
At length I remembered that my father would anxiously expect
the return of Elizabeth and myself, and that I must return alone.
This reflection brought tears into my eyes, and I wept for a long
time; but my thoughts rambled to various subjects, reflecting on
my misfortunes and their cause. I was bewildered in a cloud of
wonder and horror. The death of William, the execution of Jus-
tine, 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
156 ' FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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 re-
solved to return to Geneva with all possible speed.
There w^ere no horses to be procured, and I must return by the
lake; but the wind was unfavorable, 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 exer-
cise. But the overflowing misery I now felt, and the excess of agita-
tion 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 the 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 raia 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 was 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 awaj^; 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, excel-
lent and venerable old man ! his eyes wandered in vacancy, for they
had lost their charm and their delight, — his niece, his more than
daughter, whom he doated 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 gray hairs, and doomed him to waste in
wretchedness! He could not live under the horrors that were ac-
cumulated around him : an apoplectic fit was brought on, 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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I57
Sometimes, indeed, I dreamed that I wandered in flowery meadows
and pleasant vales with the friends of my youth ; but 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
But liberty had been a useless gift to me, had I not, as I awakened
to reason, at the same time awakened te 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 demon
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 p^ins 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 heart a resolution to pursue my
destroyer to death ; and this purpose quieted my agony, and provi-
dentially 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 shud(^er with horror; at others a lively surprise, un-
mingled 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 detection and punishment I call
upon you to exert your whole power. It is your duty as a magis-
I5S FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
trate, 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 auditor. He had heard my story w^ith 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 crea-
ture of whom 3^ou 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 in-
timidated. " 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 that, while every proper measure is pur-
sued, you should endeavor to make up your mind to disappoint-
'^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 fai;
other ideas than those of devotion and heroism, this elevation of
mind had much the appearance of madness. He endeavored to
soothe me, as a nurse does a child, and reverted to my tale as the
effects of delirium. .
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I59
*'Man," I cried, '' how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom I
Cease ; you know not what it is you say."
I broke from the house angry and disturbed, and retired to medi-
tate on some other mode of action.
1\ TY 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 mod-
elled my feelings, and allowed me to be calculating and calm, at
periods when otherwise delirium or death would have been my
My first resolution was to quit Geneva for ever; 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
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 hardl}^ 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 labor was to gain some clew by
which I might trace the steps of my fiendish enemy. But my plan
was unsettled; and I wandered many hours around the confines
of the town, uncertain what path I should pursue. As night ap-
proached, 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. Every thing was
silent, except 4:he 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 seen not, around the head of the mourner.
The deep grief which this scene had at first excited, quickly gave
l6o FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
way to rage and despair. Thej were dead, and I lived; their mur-
derer 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 by the spirits that
preside over thee, I swear to pursue the demon who caused this
misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. For this pur-
pose I will preserve my life : to execute this dear revenge, will I
again behold the sun, and tread the green herbage of the earth,
which otherwise should vanish from my eyes for ever. And I call
on you, spirits of the dead ; and on j^ou, 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 con-
cluded, and rage choked my utterance.
I was answered through the stillness of night by a loud and fiend-
ish laugh. It rung 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 laugh-
ter died away; when a well-known and abhorred voice, apparently
close to my ear, addressed me in an audible whisper, — "I am satis-
fied : miserable wretch ! you have determined to live, and I am
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 clew, I followed the windings of the Rhone, but
vainly. The blue Mediterranean appeared ; and, by a strange
chante, 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.
Amid 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 ; some-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. l6l
times he himself, who feared that if I lost trace I should despair and
die, often 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 un-
known, 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 na-
ture, overcome by hunger, sunk 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 may 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 demon
generally avoided these, as it was here that the population of the
country chiefly collected. In other places human beings were sel-
dom 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 bringing with me some food
that I had killed, which, after taking a small part, I always pre-
sented to those who had provided me with fire and utensils for
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 in-
spirited by the hope of night : for in sleep I saw my friends, my
wife, and my beloved country; again I saw the benevolent counte-
nance of. my father, heard the silver tones of my Elizabeth's voice,
and beheld Clerval enjoying health and youth. Often, when wea-
ried 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
FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
lived ! At such moments, vengeance, that burned within me, died
in my heart, and I pursued my path towards the destruction of the
demon, more as a task enjoined by Heaven, as the mechanical im-
pulse 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. Some-
times, indeed, he left marks in writing on the barks of the trees, or
cut in the stone, that guided me, or instigated my fury. '' My reign
is not yet over" (these words were legible in one of these inscrip-
tions) : ''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 3^ou follow not too tardily, a dead hare ; eat, and be re-
freshed. 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 omit my
search, until he or I perish ; and then with what ecstasy shall I join
my Elizabeth, and those 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 thick-
ened, and the cold increased in a degree almost too severe to sup-
port. The peasants were shut up in their hovels, and only a few of
the most hardy ventured forth to seize the animals which 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
labors. 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 sat-
isfy 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 fervor to traverse im-
mense deserts, until the ocean appeared at a distance, and formed
the utmost boundary of the horizon. Oh, how unlike it was to the
blue seas of the south ! Covered with ice, it was only to be distin-
guished 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.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 163
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
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 ter-
rible appearance. He 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 con-
jectured that he must speedily be destroyed by the breaking 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 — amid 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, dur-
ing 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 the 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.
164 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
By the quantity of provision which I had consumed, I should
guess that I had passed three weeks in this journey; and the con-
tinual protraction of hope, returning back upon the heart, often
wrung bitter drops of despondency and grief from my eyes. De-
spair had indeed almost secured her prey, and I should soon have
sunk beneath this misery; when once, after the poor animals that
carried 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, and 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 dis-
tinguished 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 demon ; 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 of
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 interven-
ing 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 enemy, 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 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 succor and life. I had no conception that vessels
ever came so far north, and was astounded at the sight. I quickly
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 165
destroyed part of my sledge to construct oars; and by these means
was enabled, with infinite fatigue, to move my ice-raft in the direc-
tion of your ship. I had determined, if you were going southward,
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 still pursue my enemy. But your direction was northward.
You took me on board when my vigor 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 demon,
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 vei1%eance in his death. Yet, do I
dare ask 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 live to make
another such a wretch as I am. 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 fiend-
like 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
WALTON, IN CONTINUATION.
August 26th, 1 7 — .
YOU have read this strange and terrific story, Margaret; and do
you not feel your blood congealed 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 pier-
cing, uttered with difficulty the words so replete with agony. 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
l66 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
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 existed; I cannot doubt it; yet I am lost in
surprise and admiration. Sometimes I endeavored to gain from
Frankenstein the particulars of his creature's formation ; but on this
point he was impenetrable.
^'Are you mad, my friend .^p said he, ^'or whither does your
senseless curiosity lead you.^ Would you also create for yourself
and the world a demoniacal enemy? Or to what do your questions
tend? Peace, peace! learn my miseries, and do not seek to increase
Frankenstein discovered that I made notes concerning his his-
tory : he asked to see them, and then himself corrected and aug-
mented them in many places ; but principally in giving life and
spirit to the conversations he held with his enemy. '' Since you
have preserved my narration," said he, ^^ I would not that a muti-
lated one should go down to posterity."
Thus has a week passed awaj^, while I have listened to the strang-
est 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 cre-
ated. 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 feelings to peace and death. Yet he enjoj^s one com-
fort, 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, they are not the creations of his fancy, but the real
beings, who visit him from the regions of a remote world. This
faith gives a solemnity to his reveries that renders them to me
almost as imposing and interesting as truth. ^
Our conversations are not always confined to his own historj'- and
misfortunes. On every point of general literature he displays un-
bounded knowledge, and a quick and piercing apprehension. His
eloquence is forcible and touching; nor can I hear him, when he
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 167
relates a pathetic incident, or endeavors to move the passions of
pity or love, without tears. What a glorious creature mxist he have
been in the days of his prosperity, when he is thus noble and god-
like in ruin ! He seems to feel his own worth and the greatness of
*^ When younger," said he, ''I felt as if I were destined for some
great enterprise. My feelings are profound ; but I possessed a cool-
ness 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, rational animal, I could not
rank myself with the herd of common projectors. But this feeling,
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 om-
nipotence, 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 !
^^ O 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. Be-
hold, 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 attentions 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 a#y 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,
1 68 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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, un-
less 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 invaded with sus-
picion. 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 feel-
ing in such a solitude can persuade me to preserve my life. If I
were engaged in any high undertaking or design, fraught with ex-
tensive 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
My beloved Sister, — 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 cour-
age and hopes do not desert me. We may survive ; and, if we do
not, I will repeat the lessons of my Seneca, and die with a good
Yet, what, Margaret, will be the state of your mind? You will
not hear of my destruction, and you will anxiously wait my return.
Years will pass, and you will have visitings of despair, and yet be
tortured by hope. O my beloved sister! the sickening failings of
your heart-felt expectations are, 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 endeavors to fill me with hope ; and talks as if life were a pos-
session which he valued. He reminds me how often the same acci-
dents have happened to other navigators, who have attempted this
sea, and, in spite of myself, he fills me with cheerful auguries.
Even the sailofs feel the power of his eloquence : when he speaks,
they no longer despair; he rouses their energies, and, while they
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 69
hear his voice, they believe these vast mountains of ice are mole-
hills, which will vanish before the resolution of man. These feel-
ings are transitory; each day's expectation delayed fills them with
fear, and I almost dread a mutiny caused by this despair.
A scene has just passed of such uncommon interest, that, although
it is highly probable that these papers rpay 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
amid this scene of desolation. Frankenstein has daily declined in
health : a feverish fire still glimmers in his eyes ; but he is ex-
hausted, 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 desired 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 demand, which, in jus-
tice, 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 desired, therefore, that I should engage with a solemn
promise, that if the vessel should be freed, I would instantly direct
my course southward.
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
vigor. 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 be-
cause the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because
I 70 FRANKENSTEIN ; OR,
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, and these dangers you were
to brave and overcome. For this was it a glorious, for this was it
an honorable, 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 the honor and benefit of man-
kind. 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 purpose, and firm as a rock. This ice is not made
of such stuff as your hearts might be ; it is mutable, cannot with-
stand you, if you say that it shall not. Do not return to your
families with the stigma of disgrace marked on your brows. Re-
turn 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 further north, if they strenuously desired the con-
trary; but that I hoped that, with reflection, their courage would
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
honor, can never willingly continue to endure their present hard-
The die is cast; I have consented to return, if we are not de-
stroyed. Thus are my hopes blasted by cowardice and indecision;
I come back ignorant and disappointed. It requires more philoso-
phy than I possess, to bear this injustice with patience.
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 4 l^l
It is past; I am returning to England. I have lost my hopes of
utility and glory; I have lost my friend. But I w\\\ endeavor to
detail these bitter circumstances to you, my dear sister; and, while
I am w^afted tow^ards England, and towards you, I will not despond.
September loth, 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 un-
fortunate 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 sprung from the
west, and on the nth the passage towards the south became per-
fectly 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 pur-
pose ; 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 endeavored to spring
from the bed, but the exertion was too great for him ; he fell back,
It was long before he was restored; and I often thought that life
was entirely extinct. At length he opened his eyes, but 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 mean time, 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 enemj^ and perse-
cutor, 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
172 * Frankenstein; or,
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
mj power, his happiness and well-being. This was my duty; but
there was still another, paramount to that. My duties towards my
fellow-creatures 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 compan-
ion for the first creature. He showed unparalleled malignity and
selfishness in evil : he destroyed my friends ; he devoted to destruc-
tion 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 under-
take 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 re-
lease, 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
His voice became fainter as he spoke ; and, at length, exhausted
by his eff*ort, he sunk into silence. About half an hour afterwards,
he attempted again to speak, but was unable ; he pressed my hand
feebly, and his eyes closed for ever, 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 un-
derstand the depth of my sorrow.? All that I should express would
be inadequate and feeble. My tears flow; my mind is overshad-
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 73
J owed by a cloud of disappointment. But I journey towards Eng-
land, and I may there find consolation.
I am interrupted. What do those sounds portend? It is mid-
night ; the breeze blows fairly, and the watch on the 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 talc 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 preparations. As he hung over the coffin, his face was concealed
by long locks of ragged hair; but one vast hand was extended, in
color and apparent texture like that of a mummy. When he heard
the sound of my approach, he ceased to utter exclamations 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 hid-
eousness. I shut my eyes involuntarily, and endeavored to recol-
lect 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 ! O 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 may not 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 curi-
osity and compassion. I approached this tremendous being: I
dared not again raise my looks to his face, there was something so
scaring and unearthly in his ugliness. I attempted to speak, but
the words died 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 re-
1 74 FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
pentance," I said, '^^ is now superfluous. If you had listened to the
voice of conscience, and heeded the stings of remqrse, before you
had urged your diabolical vengeance to this extremity, Frankenstein
would 3^et have lived."
*' And do you dream," said the demon, ^* do you think that I was
then dead to agony and remorse? He," he continued, pointing to
the corpse, '^he suffered not more 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
ye 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 vio-
lence of the change without torture, such as you cannot even
"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 wretched-
ness and despair upon me, he sought his own enjoyment in feelings
and passions from the indulgence of which I was for ever barred,
then omnipotent envy and bitter indignation filled me with an insa-
tiable thirst for vengeance. I recollected my threat, and resolved
that it should be accomplished. I knew that I was preparing for
mj^self 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 I — nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast oft" 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 pas-
sion. 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 elo-
quence and persuasion, and when I again cast my eyes on the life-
less 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
stiU lived, still would he be the object, again would he become the
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. ' 1^5
prey, of your accursed vengeance. It is not pity that you feel ; you
lament only because the victim of your rnalignity 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 happi-
ness and aflfection are turned into bitter and loathing despair, in
what should I seek for sympathy? I am content to sufi'er 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 enjoy-
ment. 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 bringing forth. I was nourished with high thoughts
of honor and devotion. But now vice has degraded me beneath the
meanest animal. No crime, no mischief, no malignity, no misery,
can be found comparable to mine. When I call over the frightful
catalogue of my deeds, I cannot believe that I am he 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 quite alone.
''You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have a knowl-
edge 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
for ever 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 human kind sinned against me? 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 liv-
1^6 * FRANKENSTEIN; OR,
ing thing. I have devoted my creator, the select specimen of all
that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery; 1
have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin. There he lies,
white and cold in death. You hate me ; but your abhorrence can-
not equal that with which I regard myself. I look on the hands
which executed the deed ; I think on the heart in which the imagma-
tion of it was conceived, and long for the moment when they will
meet my eyes, when it will haunt my thoughts, no more.
" Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief. My
work is nearly complete. Neither j^ours nor any man's death is needed
to consummate the series of my being, and to 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 hither, and shall seek the most northern ex-
tremity 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 that 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 chirping of the birds, and these were all to me, I
should have wept to die ; now it is my only consolation. Polluted
by bitter 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 human kind 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 hast
not yet ceased to think and feel, thou desirest not my life for my
own misery. Blasted as thou wert, my agony was still superior to
thine; for the bitter stings of remorse may not cease to rankle in
my wounds until death shall close them for ever.
''But soon," he cried, with sad and solemn enthusiasm, ''I shall
die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning
THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. 1 77
miseries will Ije extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile trium-
phantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light
of that confla^'ration 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 sprung 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.
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FROM THE BEST POETS
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