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This wonderful discovery impelled Frankenstein to avail himself of his art, by the creation (if we dare to call it so) or formation of a living and sentient being. As the minuteness of the parts formed a great difficulty, he constructed the figure which he proposed to animate of a gigantic size, that is, about eight feet high, and strong and large in proportion. The feverish anxiety with which the young philosopher toils through the horrors of his secret task, now dabbling among the unhallowed relics of the grave, and now torturing the liv ing animal to animate the lifeless clay, are described generally, but with great vigour of language. Although supported by the hope of producing a new species that should bless him as its creator and source, ho nearly sinks under the protracted labour, and loathsome details, of the work he had undertaken; and scarcely is his fatal enthusiam sufficient to support his nerves, or animate his resolution. The result of this extraordinary discovery it would be unjust to give in any words save those of the author. We shall give it at length, as an excellent specimen of the style and manner of the work.
"It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out. when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, 1 saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
w How can 1 describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care 1 had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!—Great God!—His yellow ►kin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath ; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing; his teeth of n pearly whtteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eye3. that seemed almost of the same colour as the duQ white sockets in which they were set—his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips, sfc" The different accidents of l.fe are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this 1 had deprived myself of rest and health. 1 had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation : but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being 1 had created, 1 rushed out uf the room, and continued a long time traversing my bed chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to th» tumult 1 had before endured; and 1 threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of f rgetfulness. But it was in vain; I slept iudeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. 1 thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of heRith, walking; in the streets of lngolstadt. Delighted aud surprised, 1 embraced her; bui as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and 1 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 flanDel. 1 started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window-shutters, I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I bad 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 down stairs. 1 took refuge in the court-yard belonging to the house which 1 inhabited ; where 1 remained dnring the rest of the nijrht, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which 1 had so mist rably given life.
"Oh ! Do mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again enuiied with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. 1 had gazed on him when 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 hate conceived.
"I passed the night wretchedly. Sometimes my pulse beat so quick and hardly, that I felt the palpitation of every artery ; at others, 1 nearly sank to the ground, through languor and extreme weakness. Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space, were now become a hell to me ; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so complete!
"Morning, dismal and wet, at length dawned, and discovered, to my sleepless and aching eyes, the church of Ingolstadt, its white steeple and clock, which indicated the sixth honr. The porter opened the gates of the court, which had that night been my asylum, and I issued into the Btreets, 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 10 hurry on, although wetted by the rain, which poured from a black and comfortless sky
"I continued walking in this manner for some time, endeavouring, by bodily exercise, to ease the load that weighed upon my mind. 1 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.
4 Like one who on a lonely road
He is relieved by the arrival of the diligence from Geneva, out of which jumps his friend Henry Clerval, who had come to spend a season at the college. Compelled to carry Clerval to his lodgings, which, he supposed, must still contain the prodigious and hideous specimen of his Promethean art, his feelings are again admirably described, allowing always for the extraordinary cause supposed to give them birth.
"I trembled excessively; I conld not endure to think of. and far less to allude to, the occurrences of the preceding night. I walked with a quick pace, and we soon arrived at my college. 1 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, 1 darted up towards my own room. My hand was already on the lock of the door before I recollected myself. I then paused; aud a cold shivering came over me. I threw the door forcibly open, as children are accustomed to do when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting for them on the other side ; but nothing appeared. I stepped fearfully in : the apartment was empty ; and my 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 iudeed fled, 1 clapped my hands for joy, aud ran down to Clerval.''
The animated monster is heard of no more for a season. Frankenstein pays the penalty of his rash researches into the arcana of human nature, in a long illness, after which the two friends prosecute their studies for two years in uninterrupted quiet. Frankenstein, as may be supposed, abstaining, with a sort of abhorrence, from those in which he had once so greatly delighted. At the lapse of this period, he is made acquainted with a dreadful misfortune which has befallen his family, by the violent death of his youngest brother, an interesting child, who, while straying from his keeper, had been murdered by some villain in the walks of Plainpalais. The marks of strangling were distinct on the neckof theunfortunateinfant, and a gold ornament which it wore, and which was amissing, was supposed to have been the murderer's motive for perpetrating the crime.
At this dismal intelligence, Frankenstein flies to Geneva, and im
* Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner."
pelledby fraternal affection, visits the spot where this horrid accident had happened. In the midst of a thunder-storm, with which the evening had closed, and just as he had attained the fatal spot on which Victor had been murdered, a flash of lightning displays to him the hideous demon to which he had given life, gliding towards a neighbouring precipice. Another flash shows him hanging among the cliffs, up which he scrambles with far more than mortal agility,-and is seen no more. The inference, that this being was the murderer of his brother, flashed on Frankenstein's mind as irresistibly as the lightning itself, and he was tempted to consider the creature whom he had cast among mankind to work, it would seem acts of horror and depravity, nearly in the light of his own vampire let loose from the grave, and destined to destroy all that was dear to him.
Frankenstein was right in his apprehensions. Justine, the maid to whom the youthful Victor had been intrusted, is found to be in possession of the golden trinket which had been taken from the child's person; and, by a combination of circumstantial evidence, she is concluded to be the murderess, and as such condemned to death, and executed. It does not appear that Frankenstein attempted to avert her fate, by communicating his horrible secret; but, indeed, who would have given him credit, or in what manner could he have supported his tale?
In a solitary expedition to the top of Mount Aveyron, undertaken to dispel the melancholy which clouded his mind, Frankenstein unexpectedly meets with the monster he had animated, who compels him to a conference and a parley. The material demon gives an account, at great length, of his history since his animation, of the mode in which he acquired various points of knowledge, and of the disasters which befell him, when, full of benevolence and philanthropy, he endeavoured to introduce himself into human society. The most material part of his education was acquired in a ruinous pig-sty—a Lyceum which this strange student occupied, he assures us, for a good many months undiscovered, and in constant observance of the motions of an amiable family, from imitating whom, he learns the use of language, and other accomplishments, much more successfully than Caliban, though the latter had a conjuror to his tutor. This detail is not only highly improbable, but it is injudicious, as its unnecessary minuteness tends rather too much to familiarize us with the being whom it regards, and who loses, by this lengthy oration, some part of the mysterious sublimity annexed to his first appearance. The result is, this monster, who was at first, according to his own account, but a harmless monster, becomes ferocious and malignant, in consequence of finding all his approaches to human society repelled withinjurious violence and offensive marks
of disgust. Some papers concealed in his dress, acquainted him with the circumstances and person to whom he owed his origin; and the hate which he felt towards the whole human race was now concentrated in resentment against Frankenstein. In this humour he murdered the child, and disposed of the picture so as to induce a belief of Justine's guilt. The last is an inartificial circumstance; this indirect mode of mischief was not likely to occur to the being the narrative presents to us. The conclusion of this strange narrative is, a peremptory demand on the part of the demon, as he is usually termed, that Frankenstein should renew his fearful experiment, and create for him an helpmate hideous as himself, who should have no pretence for shunning his society. On this condition he promises to withdraw to some distant desert, and shun the human race for ever. If his creator shall refuse him this consolation, he vows the prosecution of the most frightful vengeance. Frankenstein, after a long pause of reflection, imagines he sees that the justice due to the miserable being, as well as to mankind, who might be exposed to so much misery, from the power and evil dispositions of a creature who could climb perpendicular cliffs, and exist among glaciers, demanded that he should comply with the request; and granted his promise accordingly.
Frankenstein retreats to one of the distant islands of theOrcades, that in secrecy and solitude he might resume his detestable and illomened labours, which now were doubly hideous, since he was deprived of the enthusiasm with which he formerly prosecuted them. As he is silting one night in his laboratory, and recollecting the consequences of his first essay in the Promethean art, he begins to hesitate concerning the right he had to form another being as malignant and blood-thirsty as that he had unfortunately already animated. It is evident, that, he would thereby give the demon the means of propagating a hideous race, superior to mankind in strength and hardihood, who might render the very existence of the present human race a condition precarious and full of terror. Just as these reflections lead him to the conclusion that his promise was criminal, and ought not to be kept, he looks up> and sees, 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 fulfilling the task which he allotted to me. Yes. he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken rel'nge 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 revenge, withdrew."
At a subsequent interview, described with the same wild energy, all treaty is broken off betwixt Frankenstein and the work of his hands, and they part on terms of open and declared hatred and defiance. Our limits do not allow us to trace .in detail the progress of the demon's vengeance, Clerval falls its first victim, and under circumstances which had very nearly conducted the new Prometheus to the gallows as his supposed murderer. Elizabeth, his bride, is next strangled on her wedding-night; his father dies of grief; and at length Frankenstein, driven to despair and distraction, sees nothing left for him in life but vengeance on the singular cause of his misery. With this purpose he pursues the monster from clime to clime, receiving only such intimations of his being on the right scejit, as served to show that the demon delighted in thus protracting his fury and his sufferings. At length, after the flight and pursuit had terminated among the frost-fogs and icy islands of the northern ocean, and just when he had a glimpse of his adversary, the ground sea was heard, the ice gave way, and Frankenstein was placed in the perilous situation in which he is first introduced to the reader.
Exhausted by his sufferings, but still breathing vengeance against the being which was at once his creature and his persecutor, this unhappy victim to physiological discovery expires, just as the clearing away of the ice permits Captain Walton's vessel to hoist sail for their return to Britain. At midnight, the demon, who had been his destroyer, is discovered in the cabin, lamenting over the corpse of the person who gave him being. To Walton he attempts to justify his resentment towards the human race, while, at the same time, he acknowledges himself a wretch who had murdered the lovely and the helpless, and pursued to irremediable ruin his creator, the select specimen of all that was worthy of love and admiration.
"'Fear not,' he continues, addressing the astonished Walton, 'that I shall be the instrument of future mischief. My work is nearly complete. Neither yours nor any man'8 death is needed to consummate the series of my being, and accomplish that which must be done; but it requires my own. Do not think that I shall be slow to perform this sacrifice. 1 shall quit your vessel on the ice-raft which brought me hither, and shall seek the most northern extremity of the globe; I shall collect my funeral pile, and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch, who would create such another as I have been'
"He sprung from tite cabin window, as he said this, upon the ice-raft which lay close t° the vessel, lie was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance.''
Whether this singular being executed his purpose or not, must necessarily remain an uncertainty, unless the voyage of discovery to the north pole should throw any light on the subject. . So concludes this extraordinary tale, in which the author seems to us to disclose uncommon powers of poetic imagination. The feeling with which we perused the unexpected and fearful, yet, allowing the possibility of the event, very natural conclusion of Frankenstein's experiment, shook a little even our firm nerves; although such, and so numerous have been the expedients for exciting terror employed by the romantic writers of the age, that the reader may adopt Macbeth's words with a slight alteration: