My present situation was one in which all voluntary thought was
swallowed up and lost. I was hurried away by fury; revenge alone
endowed me with strength and composure; it moulded my feelings and
allowed me to be calculating and calm at periods when otherwise
delirium or death would have been my portion.
My first resolution was to quit Geneva forever; my country, which,
when I was happy and beloved, was dear to me, now, in my adversity,
became hateful. I provided myself with a sum of money, together
with a few jewels which had belonged to my mother, and departed.
And now my wanderings began which are to cease but with life.
I have traversed a vast portion of the earth and have endured all
the hardships which travellers in deserts and barbarous countries
are wont to meet. How I have lived I hardly know; many times have
I stretched my failing limbs upon the sandy plain and prayed for death.
But revenge kept me alive; I dared not die and leave my adversary in being.
When I quitted Geneva my first labour was to gain some clue by
which I might trace the steps of my fiendish enemy. But my plan
was unsettled, and I wandered many hours round the confines of the
town, uncertain what path I should pursue. As night approached I
found myself at the entrance of the cemetery where William,
Elizabeth, and my father reposed. I entered it and approached the
tomb which marked their graves. Everything was silent except the
leaves of the trees, which were gently agitated by the wind; the
night was nearly dark, and the scene would have been solemn and
affecting even to an uninterested observer. The spirits of the
departed seemed to flit around and to cast a shadow, which was felt
but not seen, around the head of the mourner.
The deep grief which this scene had at first excited quickly gave
way to rage and despair. They were dead, and I lived; their murderer
also lived, and to destroy him I must drag out my weary existence.
I knelt on the grass and kissed the earth and with quivering lips
exclaimed, "By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades
that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel,
I swear; and by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee,
to pursue the daemon who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish
in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life;
to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the
green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever.
And I call on you, spirits of the dead, and on you, wandering ministers
of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and
hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that
now torments me." I had begun my adjuration with solemnity
and an awe which almost assured me that the shades of my murdered
friends heard and approved my devotion, but the furies possessed me
as I concluded, and rage choked my utterance.
I was answered through the stillness of night by a loud and
fiendish laugh. It rang on my ears long and heavily; the
mountains re-echoed it, and I felt as if all hell surrounded me
with mockery and laughter. Surely in that moment I should have
been possessed by frenzy and have destroyed my miserable existence
but that my vow was heard and that I was reserved for vengeance.
The laughter died away, when a well-known and abhorred voice,
apparently close to my ear, addressed me in an audible whisper,
"I am satisfied, miserable wretch! You have determined to live,
and I am satisfied."
I darted towards the spot from which the sound proceeded, but the
devil eluded my grasp. Suddenly the broad disk of the moon arose
and shone full upon his ghastly and distorted shape as he fled with
more than mortal speed.
I pursued him, and for many months this has been my task. Guided
by a slight clue, I followed the windings of the Rhone, but vainly.
The blue Mediterranean appeared, and by a strange chance, I saw the
fiend enter by night and hide himself in a vessel bound for the
Black Sea. I took my passage in the same ship, but he escaped,
I know not how.
Amidst the wilds of Tartary and Russia, although he still evaded me,
I have ever followed in his track. Sometimes the peasants, scared
by this horrid apparition, informed me of his path; sometimes he himself,
who feared that if I lost all trace of him I should despair and die,
left some mark to guide me. The snows descended on my head,
and I saw the print of his huge step on the white plain.
To you first entering on life, to whom care is new and agony unknown,
how can you understand what I have felt and still feel? Cold, want,
and fatigue were the least pains which I was destined to endure;
I was cursed by some devil and carried about with me my eternal hell;
yet still a spirit of good followed and directed my steps and when
I most murmured would suddenly extricate me from seemingly insurmountable
difficulties. Sometimes, when nature, overcome by hunger, sank under
the exhaustion, a repast was prepared for me in the desert that
restored and inspirited me. The fare was, indeed, coarse, such as
the peasants of the country ate, but I will not doubt that it was
set there by the spirits that I had invoked to aid me. Often, when
all was dry, the heavens cloudless, and I was parched by thirst,
a slight cloud would bedim the sky, shed the few drops that
revived me, and vanish.
I followed, when I could, the courses of the rivers; but the daemon
generally avoided these, as it was here that the population of the
country chiefly collected. In other places human beings were
seldom seen, and I generally subsisted on the wild animals that
crossed my path. I had money with me and gained the friendship of
the villagers by distributing it; or I brought with me some food
that I had killed, which, after taking a small part, I always presented
to those who had provided me with fire and utensils for cooking.
My life, as it passed thus, was indeed hateful to me, and it was
during sleep alone that I could taste joy. O blessed sleep!
Often, when most miserable, I sank to repose, and my dreams lulled
me even to rapture. The spirits that guarded me had provided these
moments, or rather hours, of happiness that I might retain strength
to fulfil my pilgrimage. Deprived of this respite, I should have
sunk under my hardships. During the day I was sustained and inspirited
by the hope of night, for in sleep I saw my friends, my wife,
and my beloved country; again I saw the benevolent countenance of my father,
heard the silver tones of my Elizabeth's voice, and beheld Clerval
enjoying health and youth. Often, when wearied by a toilsome march,
I persuaded myself that I was dreaming until night should come
and that I should then enjoy reality in the arms of my dearest friends.
What agonizing fondness did I feel for them! How did I cling to their
dear forms, as sometimes they haunted even my waking hours, and persuade
myself that they still lived! At such moments vengeance, that burned
within me, died in my heart, and I pursued my path towards the destruction
of the daemon more as a task enjoined by heaven, as the mechanical
impulse of some power of which I was unconscious, than as the ardent
desire of my soul. What his feelings were whom I pursued I cannot know.
Sometimes, indeed, he left marks in writing on the barks of the trees
or cut in stone that guided me and instigated my fury. "My reign is not
yet over"--these words were legible in one of these inscriptions--
"you live, and my power is complete. Follow me; I seek the everlasting
ices of the north, where you will feel the misery of cold and frost,
to which I am impassive. You will find near this place, if you follow
not too tardily, a dead hare; eat and be refreshed. Come on, my enemy;
we have yet to wrestle for our lives, but many hard and miserable hours
must you endure until that period shall arrive."
Scoffing devil! Again do I vow vengeance; again do I devote thee,
miserable fiend, to torture and death. Never will I give up my
search until he or I perish; and then with what ecstasy shall I
join my Elizabeth and my departed friends, who even now prepare
for me the reward of my tedious toil and horrible pilgrimage!
As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snows thickened
and the cold increased in a degree almost too severe to support.
The peasants were shut up in their hovels, and only a few of
the most hardy ventured forth to seize the animals whom starvation
had forced from their hiding-places to seek for prey.
The rivers were covered with ice, and no fish could be procured;
and thus I was cut off from my chief article of maintenance.
The triumph of my enemy increased with the difficulty of my labours.
One inscription that he left was in these words: "Prepare! Your toils
only begin; wrap yourself in furs and provide food, for we shall soon enter
upon a journey where your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred."
My courage and perseverance were invigorated by these scoffing words;
I resolved not to fail in my purpose, and calling on heaven to support me,
I continued with unabated fervour to traverse immense deserts, until the ocean
appeared at a distance and formed the utmost boundary of the horizon.
Oh! How unlike it was to the blue seasons of the south! Covered with ice,
it was only to be distinguished from land by its superior wildness
and ruggedness. The Greeks wept for joy when they beheld the
Mediterranean from the hills of Asia, and hailed with rapture
the boundary of their toils. I did not weep, but I knelt down
and with a full heart thanked my guiding spirit for conducting me
in safety to the place where I hoped, notwithstanding my adversary's gibe,
to meet and grapple with him.
Some weeks before this period I had procured a sledge and dogs
and thus traversed the snows with inconceivable speed. I know not
whether the fiend possessed the same advantages, but I found that,
as before I had daily lost ground in the pursuit, I now gained on him,
so much so that when I first saw the ocean he was but one day's journey
in advance, and I hoped to intercept him before he should reach the beach.
With new courage, therefore, I pressed on, and in two days arrived at
a wretched hamlet on the seashore. I inquired of the inhabitants
concerning the fiend and gained accurate information. A gigantic monster,
they said, had arrived the night before, armed with a gun and many pistols,
putting to flight the inhabitants of a solitary cottage through fear
of his terrific appearance. He had carried off their store of winter food,
and placing it in a sledge, to draw which he had seized on a numerous drove
of trained dogs, he had harnessed them, and the same night, to the joy
of the horror-struck villagers, had pursued his journey across the sea
in a direction that led to no land; and they conjectured that he must
speedily be destroyed by the breaking of the ice or frozen by
the eternal frosts.
On hearing this information I suffered a temporary access of despair.
He had escaped me, and I must commence a destructive and almost
endless journey across the mountainous ices of the ocean,
amidst cold that few of the inhabitants could long endure and which I,
the native of a genial and sunny climate, could not hope to survive.
Yet at the idea that the fiend should live and be triumphant, my rage
and vengeance returned, and like a mighty tide, overwhelmed every other
feeling. After a slight repose, during which the spirits of the dead
hovered round and instigated me to toil and revenge, I prepared for my journey.
I exchanged my land-sledge for one fashioned for the inequalities of the
frozen ocean, and purchasing a plentiful stock of provisions,
I departed from land.
I cannot guess how many days have passed since then, but I have
endured misery which nothing but the eternal sentiment of a just
retribution burning within my heart could have enabled me to support.
Immense and rugged mountains of ice often barred up my passage,
and I often heard the thunder of the ground sea, which threatened
my destruction. But again the frost came and made the paths
of the sea secure.
By the quantity of provision which I had consumed, I should guess
that I had passed three weeks in this journey; and the continual
protraction of hope, returning back upon the heart, often wrung
bitter drops of despondency and grief from my eyes. Despair had
indeed almost secured her prey, and I should soon have sunk beneath
this misery. Once, after the poor animals that conveyed me had
with incredible toil gained the summit of a sloping ice mountain,
and one, sinking under his fatigue, died, I viewed the expanse
before me with anguish, when suddenly my eye caught a dark speck
upon the dusky plain. I strained my sight to discover what it
could be and uttered a wild cry of ecstasy when I distinguished
a sledge and the distorted proportions of a well-known form within.
Oh! With what a burning gush did hope revisit my heart! Warm tears
filled my eyes, which I hastily wiped away, that they might not intercept
the view I had of the daemon; but still my sight was dimmed by the burning
drops, until, giving way to the emotions that oppressed me, I wept aloud.
But this was not the time for delay; I disencumbered the dogs
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
intervening crags. I indeed perceptibly gained on it, and when,
after nearly two days' journey, I beheld my enemy at no more than
a mile distant, my heart bounded within me.
But now, when I appeared almost within grasp of my foe, my hopes
were suddenly extinguished, and I lost all trace of him more
utterly than I had ever done before. A ground sea was heard;
the thunder of its progress, as the waters rolled and swelled
beneath me, became every moment more ominous and terrific.
I pressed on, but in vain. The wind arose; the sea roared; and, as
with the mighty shock of an earthquake, it split and cracked with
a tremendous and overwhelming sound. The work was soon finished;
in a few minutes a tumultuous sea rolled between me and my enemy,
and I was left drifting on a scattered piece of ice that was
continually lessening and thus preparing for me a hideous death.
In this manner many appalling hours passed; several of my dogs died,
and I myself was about to sink under the accumulation of distress
when I saw your vessel riding at anchor and holding forth to me
hopes of succour and life. I had no conception that vessels
ever came so far north and was astounded at the sight. I quickly
destroyed part of my sledge to construct oars, and by these means
was enabled, with infinite fatigue, to move my ice raft in the
direction of your ship. I had determined, if you were going
southwards, still to trust myself to the mercy of the seas rather
than abandon my purpose. I hoped to induce you to grant me a boat
with which I could pursue my enemy. But your direction was northwards.
You took me on board when my vigour was exhausted, and I should soon
have sunk under my multiplied hardships into a death which I still dread,
for my task is unfulfilled.
Oh! When will my guiding spirit, in conducting me to the daemon,
allow me the rest I so much desire; or must I die, and he yet live?
If I do, swear to me, Walton, that he shall not escape, that you
will seek him and satisfy my vengeance in his death. And do I dare
to ask of you to undertake my pilgrimage, to endure the hardships
that I have undergone? No; I am not so selfish. Yet, when I am dead,
if he should appear, if the ministers of vengeance should conduct him
to you, swear that he shall not live--swear that he shall not triumph
over my accumulated woes and survive to add to the list of his dark crimes.
He is eloquent and persuasive, and once his words had even power over my heart;
but trust him not. His soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery
and fiendlike malice. Hear him not; call on the names of William, Justine,
Clerval, Elizabeth, my father, and of the wretched Victor, and thrust
your sword into his heart. I will hover near and direct the steel aright.
Walton, in continuation.
August 26th, 17-
You have read this strange and terrific story, Margaret; and do you
not feel your blood congeal with horror, like that which even now
curdles mine? Sometimes, seized with sudden agony, he could not
continue his tale; at others, his voice broken, yet piercing,
uttered with difficulty the words so replete with anguish.
His fine and lovely eyes were now lighted up with indignation,
now subdued to downcast sorrow and quenched in infinite wretchedness.
Sometimes he commanded his countenance and tones and related
the most horrible incidents with a tranquil voice, suppressing every
mark of agitation; then, like a volcano bursting forth, his face would
suddenly change to an expression of the wildest rage as he shrieked out
imprecations on his persecutor.
His tale is connected and told with an appearance of the simplest truth,
yet I own to you that the letters of Felix and Safie, which he showed me,
and the apparition of the monster seen from our ship, brought to me a greater
conviction of the truth of his narrative than his asseverations,
however earnest and connected. Such a monster has, then, really existence!
I cannot doubt it, yet I am lost in surprise and admiration. Sometimes I
endeavoured to gain from Frankenstein the particulars of his creature's
formation, but on this point he was impenetrable. "Are you mad, my friend?"
said he. "Or whither does your senseless curiosity lead you? Would you
also create for yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy? Peace, peace!
Learn my miseries and do not seek to increase your own." Frankenstein
discovered that I made notes concerning his history; he asked to see them
and then himself corrected and augmented them in many places,
but principally in giving the life and spirit to the conversations
he held with his enemy. "Since you have preserved my narration,"
said he, "I would not that a mutilated one should go down to posterity."
Thus has a week passed away, while I have listened to the strangest
tale that ever imagination formed. My thoughts and every feeling
of my soul have been drunk up by the interest for my guest which this tale
and his own elevated and gentle manners have created. I wish to soothe him,
yet can I counsel one so infinitely miserable, so destitute of every hope
of consolation, to live? Oh, no! The only joy that he can now know will
be when he composes his shattered spirit to peace and death. Yet he enjoys
one comfort, the offspring of solitude and delirium; he believes that when
in dreams he holds converse with his friends and derives from that communion
consolation for his miseries or excitements to his vengeance, that they are
not the creations of his fancy, but the beings themselves who visit him from
the regions of a remote world. This faith gives a solemnity to his reveries
that render them to me almost as imposing and interesting as truth.
Our conversations are not always confined to his own history and misfortunes.
On every point of general literature he displays unbounded knowledge
and a quick and piercing apprehension. His eloquence is forcible and touching;
nor can I hear him, when he relates a pathetic incident or endeavours to move
the passions of pity or love, without tears. What a glorious creature must
he have been in the days of his prosperity, when he is thus noble and godlike
in ruin! He seems to feel his own worth and the greatness of his fall.
"When younger," said he, "I believed myself destined for some
great enterprise. My feelings are profound, but I possessed
a coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious achievements.
This sentiment of the worth of my nature supported me when others
would have been oppressed, for I deemed it criminal to throw away
in useless grief those talents that might be useful to my fellow
creatures. When I reflected on the work I had completed, no less
a one than the creation of a sensitive and rational animal, I could
not rank myself with the herd of common projectors. But this thought,
which supported me in the commencement of my career, now serves only
to plunge me lower in the dust. All my speculations and hopes are
as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence,
I am chained in an eternal hell. My imagination was vivid,
yet my powers of analysis and application were intense;
by the union of these qualities I conceived the idea and executed
the creation of a man. Even now I cannot recollect without passion
my reveries while the work was incomplete. I trod heaven in my thoughts,
now exulting in my powers, now burning with the idea of their effects.
From my infancy I was imbued with high hopes and a lofty ambition;
but how am I sunk! Oh! My friend, if you had known me as I once was,
you would not recognize me in this state of degradation. Despondency
rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed to bear me on, until I fell,
never, never again to rise." Must I then lose this admirable being?
I have longed for a friend; I have sought one who would sympathize
with and love me. Behold, on these desert seas I have found such a one,
but I fear I have gained him only to know his value and lose him.
I would reconcile him to life, but he repulses the idea.
"I thank you, Walton," he said, "for your kind intentions towards
so miserable a wretch; but when you speak of new ties and fresh
affections, think you that any can replace those who are gone?
Can any man be to me as Clerval was, or any woman another Elizabeth?
Even where the affections are not strongly moved by any superior
excellence, the companions of our childhood always possess a certain
power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain.
They know our infantine dispositions, which, however they may
be afterwards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge
of our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity
of our motives. A sister or a brother can never, unless indeed
such symptoms have been shown early, suspect the other of fraud
or false dealing, when another friend, however strongly he may
be attached, may, in spite of himself, be contemplated with suspicion.
But I enjoyed friends, dear not only through habit and association,
but from their own merits; and wherever I am, the soothing voice
of my Elizabeth and the conversation of Clerval will be ever whispered
in my ear. They are dead, and but one feeling in such a solitude
can persuade me to preserve my life. If I were engaged in any high
undertaking or design, fraught with extensive utility to my fellow
creatures, then could I live to fulfil it. But such is not my destiny;
I must pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence;
then my lot on earth will be fulfilled and I may die."
My beloved Sister,
I write to you, encompassed by peril and ignorant whether I am ever
doomed to see again dear England and the dearer friends that inhabit it.
I am surrounded by mountains of ice which admit of no escape and threaten
every moment to crush my vessel. The brave fellows whom I have persuaded
to be my companions look towards me for aid, but I have none to bestow.
There is something terribly appalling in our situation, yet my courage
and hopes do not desert me. Yet it is terrible to reflect that the lives
of all these men are endangered through me. If we are lost, my mad schemes
are the cause.
And what, Margaret, will be the state of your mind? You will not
hear of my destruction, and you will anxiously await my return.
Years will pass, and you will have visitings of despair and yet be
tortured by hope. Oh! My beloved sister, the sickening failing of
your heart-felt expectations is, in prospect, more terrible to me
than my own death.
But you have a husband and lovely children; you may be happy.
Heaven bless you and make you so!
My unfortunate guest regards me with the tenderest compassion.
He endeavours to fill me with hope and talks as if life were a
possession which he valued. He reminds me how often the same
accidents have happened to other navigators who have attempted this sea,
and in spite of myself, he fills me with cheerful auguries.
Even the sailors feel the power of his eloquence; when he speaks,
they no longer despair; he rouses their energies, and while they
hear his voice they believe these vast mountains of ice are mole-
hills which will vanish before the resolutions of man. These
feelings are transitory; each day of expectation delayed fills them
with fear, and I almost dread a mutiny caused by this despair.
A scene has just passed of such uncommon interest that,
although it is highly probable that these papers may never reach you,
yet I cannot forbear recording it.
We are still surrounded by mountains of ice, still in imminent
danger of being crushed in their conflict. The cold is excessive,
and many of my unfortunate comrades have already found a grave
amidst this scene of desolation. Frankenstein has daily declined
in health; a feverish fire still glimmers in his eyes, but he is
exhausted, and when suddenly roused to any exertion, he speedily
sinks again into apparent lifelessness.
I mentioned in my last letter the fears I entertained of a mutiny.
This morning, as I sat watching the wan countenance of my friend--
his eyes half closed and his limbs hanging listlessly--I was roused
by half a dozen of the sailors, who demanded admission into the cabin.
They entered, and their leader addressed me. He told me that he
and his companions had been chosen by the other sailors
to come in deputation to me to make me a requisition which,
in justice, I could not refuse. We were immured in ice and should
probably never escape, but they feared that if, as was possible,
the ice should dissipate and a free passage be opened, I should be
rash enough to continue my voyage and lead them into fresh dangers,
after they might happily have surmounted this. They insisted,
therefore, that I should engage with a solemn promise that if the
vessel should be freed I would instantly direct my course southwards.
This speech troubled me. I had not despaired, nor had I yet
conceived the idea of returning if set free. Yet could I,
in justice, or even in possibility, refuse this demand?
I hesitated before I answered, when Frankenstein, who had at first
been silent, and indeed appeared hardly to have force enough
to attend, now roused himself; his eyes sparkled, and his cheeks
flushed with momentary vigour. Turning towards the men, he said,
"What do you mean? What do you demand of your captain? Are you, then,
so easily turned from your design? Did you not call this a glorious
"And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and
placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and
terror, because at every new incident your fortitude was to be
called forth and your courage exhibited, because danger and death
surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome. For this
was it a glorious, for this was it an honourable undertaking.
You were hereafter to be hailed as the benefactors of your species,
your names adored as belonging to brave men who encountered death
for honour and the benefit of mankind. And now, behold, with the
first imagination of danger, or, if you will, the first mighty and
terrific trial of your courage, you shrink away and are content to
be handed down as men who had not strength enough to endure cold
and peril; and so, poor souls, they were chilly and returned to
their warm - firesides. Why, that requires not this preparation;
ye need not have come thus far and dragged your captain to the
shame of a defeat merely to prove yourselves cowards. Oh! Be men,
or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes and firm as a
rock. This ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts may be; it
is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not.
Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked
on your brows. Return as heroes who have fought and conquered and
who know not what it is to turn their backs on the foe." He spoke
this with a voice so modulated to the different feelings expressed
in his speech, with an eye so full of lofty design and heroism,
that can you wonder that these men were moved? They looked at one
another and were unable to reply. I spoke; I told them to retire
and consider of what had been said, that I would not lead them
farther north if they strenuously desired the contrary, but that
I hoped that, with reflection, their courage would return.
They retired and I turned towards my friend, but he was sunk
in languor and almost deprived of life.
How all this will terminate, I know not, but I had rather die than
return shamefully, my purpose unfulfilled. Yet I fear such will be
my fate; the men, unsupported by ideas of glory and honour, can
never willingly continue to endure their present hardships.
The die is cast; I have consented to return if we are not
destroyed. Thus are my hopes blasted by cowardice and indecision;
I come back ignorant and disappointed. It requires more philosophy
than I possess to bear this injustice with patience.
It is past; I am returning to England. I have lost my hopes of
utility and glory; I have lost my friend. But I will endeavour to
detail these bitter circumstances to you, my dear sister; and while
I am wafted towards England and towards you, I will not despond.
September 9th, the ice began to move, and roarings like thunder were
heard at a distance as the islands split and cracked in every direction.
We were in the most imminent peril, but as we could only remain
passive, my chief attention was occupied by my unfortunate guest
whose illness increased in such a degree that he was entirely
confined to his bed. The ice cracked behind us and was driven with
force towards the north; a breeze sprang from the west, and on the
11th the passage towards the south became perfectly free. When the
sailors saw this and that their return to their native country was
apparently assured, a shout of tumultuous joy broke from them,
loud and long-continued. Frankenstein, who was dozing, awoke and
asked the cause of the tumult. "They shout," I said, "because they
will soon return to England."
"Do you, then, really return?"
"Alas! Yes; I cannot withstand their demands. I cannot lead them
unwillingly to danger, and I must return."
"Do so, if you will; but I will not. You may give up your purpose,
but mine is assigned to me by heaven, and I dare not. I am weak,
but surely the spirits who assist my vengeance will endow me with
sufficient strength." Saying this, he endeavoured to spring from the bed,
but the exertion was too great for him; he fell back and fainted.
It was long before he was restored, and I often thought that life
was entirely extinct. At length he opened his eyes; he breathed
with difficulty and was unable to speak. The surgeon gave him a
composing draught and ordered us to leave him undisturbed. In the
meantime he told me that my friend had certainly not many hours to live.
His sentence was pronounced, and I could only grieve and be patient.
I sat by his bed, watching him; his eyes were closed, and I thought
he slept; but presently he called to me in a feeble voice, and bidding
me come near, said, "Alas! The strength I relied on is gone; I feel that
I shall soon die, and he, my enemy and persecutor, may still be in being.
Think not, Walton, that in the last moments of my existence I feel that
burning hatred and ardent desire of revenge I once expressed; but I feel
myself justified in desiring the death of my adversary. During these last
days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find
it blamable. In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational
creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power,
his happiness and well-being.
This was my duty, but there was another still paramount to that.
My duties towards the beings of my own species had greater claims
to my attention because they included a greater proportion of
happiness or misery. Urged by this view, I refused, and I did
right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature.
He showed unparalleled malignity and selfishness in evil;
he destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who
possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I
know where this thirst for vengeance may end. Miserable himself
that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die.
The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.
When actuated by selfish and vicious motives, I asked you
to undertake my unfinished work, and I renew this request now,
when I am only induced by reason and virtue.
"Yet I cannot ask you to renounce your country and friends to fulfil
this task; and now that you are returning to England, you will have
little chance of meeting with him. But the consideration of these points,
and the well balancing of what you may esteem your duties, I leave to you;
my judgment and ideas are already disturbed by the near approach of death.
I dare not ask you to do what I think right, for I may still be misled
"That he should live to be an instrument of mischief disturbs me;
in other respects, this hour, when I momentarily expect my release,
is the only happy one which I have enjoyed for several years.
The forms of the beloved dead flit before me, and I hasten to their arms.
Farewell, Walton! Seek happiness in tranquillity and avoid ambition,
even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing
yourself in science and discoveries. Yet why do I say this?
I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed."
His voice became fainter as he spoke, and at length, exhausted by
his effort, he sank into silence. About half an hour afterwards he
attempted again to speak but was unable; he pressed my hand feebly,
and his eyes closed forever, while the irradiation of a gentle
smile passed away from his lips.
Margaret, what comment can I make on the untimely extinction of
this glorious spirit? What can I say that will enable you to
understand the depth of my sorrow? All that I should express would
be inadequate and feeble. My tears flow; my mind is overshadowed
by a cloud of disappointment. But I journey towards England,
and I may there find consolation.
I am interrupted. What do these sounds portend? It is midnight;
the breeze blows fairly, and the watch on deck scarcely stir.
Again there is a sound as of a human voice, but hoarser; it comes
from the cabin where the remains of Frankenstein still lie.
I must arise and examine. Good night, my sister.
Great God! what a scene has just taken place! I am yet dizzy
with the remembrance of it. I hardly know whether I shall have
the power to detail it; yet the tale which I have recorded would be
incomplete without this final and wonderful catastrophe. I entered
the cabin where lay the remains of my ill-fated and admirable friend.
Over him hung a form which I cannot find words to describe--gigantic
in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions.
As he hung over the coffin, his face was concealed by long locks
of ragged hair; but one vast hand was extended, in colour and apparent
texture like that of a mummy. When he heard the sound of my approach,
he ceased to 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 hideousness. I shut my eyes
involuntarily and endeavoured to recollect what were my duties
with regard to this destroyer. I called on him to stay.
He paused, looking on me with wonder, and again turning towards
the lifeless form of his creator, he seemed to forget my presence,
and every feature and gesture seemed instigated by the wildest rage
of some uncontrollable passion.
"That is also my victim!" he exclaimed. "In his murder my crimes are
consummated; the miserable series of my being is wound to its close!
Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail
that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee
by destroying all thou lovedst. Alas! He is cold, he cannot answer me."
His voice seemed suffocated, and my first impulses, which had
suggested to me the duty of obeying the dying request of my friend
in destroying his enemy, were now suspended by a mixture of
curiosity and compassion. I approached this tremendous being;
I dared not again raise my eyes to his face, there was something
so scaring and unearthly in his ugliness. I attempted to speak,
but the words died away on my lips. The monster continued to utter
wild and incoherent self-reproaches. At length I gathered resolution
to address him in a pause of the tempest of his passion.
"Your repentance," I said, "is now superfluous. If you had listened
to the voice of conscience and heeded the stings of remorse before
you had urged your diabolical vengeance to this extremity, Frankenstein
would yet have lived."
"And do you dream?" said the daemon. "Do you think that I was then
dead to agony and remorse? He," he continued, pointing to the corpse,
"he suffered not in the consummation of the deed. Oh! Not the
ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the
lingering detail of its execution. A frightful selfishness
hurried me on, while my heart was poisoned with remorse.
Think you that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears?
My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy,
and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure
the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine.
"After the murder of Clerval I returned to Switzerland,
heart-broken and overcome. I pitied Frankenstein; my pity
amounted to horror; I abhorred myself. But when I discovered that he,
the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments,
dared to hope for happiness, that while he accumulated wretchedness
and despair upon me he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions
from the indulgence of which I was forever barred, then impotent envy
and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance.
I recollected my threat and resolved that it should be accomplished.
I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadly torture, but I was the slave,
not the master, of an impulse which I detested yet could not disobey.
Yet when she died! Nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast off all feeling,
subdued all anguish, to riot in the excess of my despair. Evil thenceforth
became my good. Urged thus far, I had no choice but to adapt my nature to an
element which I had willingly chosen. The completion of my demoniacal design
became an insatiable passion. And now it is ended; there is my last victim!"
I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet,
when I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his powers of
eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast my eyes on the
lifeless form of my friend, indignation was rekindled within me.
"Wretch!" I said. "It is well that you come here to whine over the
desolation that you have made. You throw a torch into a pile of
buildings, and when they are consumed, you sit among the ruins and
lament the fall. Hypocritical fiend! If he whom you mourn still lived,
still would he be the object, again would he become the prey,
of your accursed vengeance. It is not pity that you feel;
you lament only because the victim of your malignity is withdrawn
from your power."
"Oh, it is not thus--not thus," interrupted the being. "Yet such
must be the impression conveyed to you by what appears to be the
purport of my actions. Yet I seek not a fellow feeling in my misery.
No sympathy may I ever find. When I first sought it, it was the love
of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole
being overflowed, that I wished to be participated. But now that virtue
has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned
into bitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek for sympathy?
I am content to suffer alone while my sufferings shall endure;
when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium
should load my memory. Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue,
of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with
beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the
excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was
nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But now crime
has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief,
no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine. When I
run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that
I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime
and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness.
But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil.
Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in
his desolation; I am alone. "You, who call Frankenstein your friend,
seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But in
the detail which he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours
and months of misery which I endured wasting in impotent passions.
For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires.
They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and
fellowship, and I was still spurned. Was there no injustice in this?
Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me?
Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely?
Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the saviour
of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings!
I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at,
and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection
of this injustice.
"But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely
and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept and
grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other
living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select specimen of
all that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery;
I have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin.
"There he lies, white and cold in death. You hate me, but your
abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself.
I look on the hands which executed the deed; I think on the heart
in which the imagination of it was conceived and long for the
moment when these hands will meet my eyes, when that imagination
will haunt my thoughts no more.
"Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief.
My work is nearly complete. Neither yours nor any man's death
is needed to consummate the series of my being and accomplish
that which must be done, but it requires my own. Do not think that
I shall be slow to perform this sacrifice. I shall quit your vessel
on the ice raft which brought me thither and shall seek the most
northern extremity of the globe; I shall collect my funeral pile
and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may
afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch who would
create such another as I have been. I shall die. I shall no longer
feel the agonies which now consume me or be the prey of feelings
unsatisfied, yet unquenched. He is dead who called me into being;
and when I shall be no more, the very remembrance of us both will
speedily vanish. I shall no longer see the sun or stars or feel
the winds play on my cheeks.
"Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in this condition
must I find my happiness. Some years ago, when the images which
this world affords first opened upon me, when I felt the cheering
warmth of summer and heard the rustling of the leaves and the
warbling of the birds, and these were all to me, I should have wept
to die; now it is my only consolation. Polluted by crimes and torn
by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?
"Farewell! I leave you, and in you the last of humankind whom
these eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein! If thou wert
yet alive and yet cherished a desire of revenge against me,
it would be better satiated in my life than in my destruction.
But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinction, that I might not
cause greater wretchedness; and if yet, in some mode unknown to me,
thou hadst not ceased to think and feel, thou wouldst not
desire against me a vengeance greater than that which I feel.
Blasted as thou wert, my agony was still superior to thine,
for the bitter sting of remorse will not cease to rankle
in my wounds until death shall close them forever.
"But soon," he cried with sad and solemn enthusiasm, "I shall die,
and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries
will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and
exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that
conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea
by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks,
it will not surely think thus. Farewell."
He sprang from the cabin window as he said this, upon the ice raft
which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne away by the waves
and lost in darkness and distance.
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus