I spent the following day roaming through the valley. I stood beside the
sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow
pace is advancing down from the summit of the hills to barricade the valley.
The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier
overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn
silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only
by the brawling waves or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of
the avalanche or the cracking, reverberated along the mountains, of the
accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever
and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands.
These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that
I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling,
and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it.
In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it
had brooded for the last month. I retired to rest at night; my slumbers, as it
were, waited on and ministered to by the assemblance of grand shapes which I
had contemplated during the day. They congregated round me; the unstained
snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare
ravine, the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds--they all gathered round me and
bade me be at peace.
Where had they fled when the next morning I awoke? All of soul-inspiriting
fled with sleep, and dark melancholy clouded every thought. The rain was
pouring in torrents, and thick mists hid the summits of the mountains, so that
I even saw not the faces of those mighty friends. Still I would penetrate
their misty veil and seek them in their cloudy retreats. What were rain and
storm to me? My mule was brought to the door, and I resolved to ascend to the
summit of Montanvert. I remembered the effect that the view of the tremendous
and ever-moving glacier had produced upon my mind when I first saw it. It had
then filled me with a sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul and allowed
it to soar from the obscure world to light and joy. The sight of the awful and
majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnising my mind and
causing me to forget the passing cares of life. I determined to go without a
guide, for I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence of another
would destroy the solitary grandeur of the scene.
The ascent is precipitous, but the path is cut into continual and short
windings, which enable you to surmount the perpendicularity of the mountain.
It is a scene terrifically desolate. In a thousand spots the traces of the
winter avalanche may be perceived, where trees lie broken and strewed on the
ground, some entirely destroyed, others bent, leaning upon the jutting rocks
of the mountain or transversely upon other trees. The path, as you ascend
higher, is intersected by ravines of snow, down which stones continually roll
from above; one of them is particularly dangerous, as the slightest sound,
such as even speaking in a loud voice, produces a concussion of air sufficient
to draw destruction upon the head of the speaker. The pines are not tall or
luxuriant, but they are sombre and add an air of severity to the scene. I
looked on the valley beneath; vast mists were rising from the rivers which ran
through it and curling in thick wreaths around the opposite mountains, whose
summits were hid in the uniform clouds, while rain poured from the dark sky
and added to the melancholy impression I received from the objects around me.
Alas! Why does man boast of sensibilities superior to those apparent in the
brute; it only renders them more necessary beings. If our impulses were
confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly free; but now we
are moved by every wind that blows and a chance word or scene that that word
may convey to us.
We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.
We rise; one wand'ring thought pollutes the day.
We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep,
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;
It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free.
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but mutability!
It was nearly noon when I arrived at the top of the ascent. For some time I
sat upon the rock that overlooks the sea of ice. A mist covered both that and
the surrounding mountains. Presently a breeze dissipated the cloud, and I
descended upon the glacier. The surface is very uneven, rising like the waves
of a troubled sea, descending low, and interspersed by rifts that sink deep.
The field of ice is almost a league in width, but I spent nearly two hours in
crossing it. The opposite mountain is a bare perpendicular rock. From the side
where I now stood Montanvert was exactly opposite, at the distance of a
league; and above it rose Mont Blanc, in awful majesty. I remained in a recess
of the rock, gazing on this wonderful and stupendous scene. The sea, or rather
the vast river of ice, wound among its dependent mountains, whose aerial
summits hung over its recesses. Their icy and glittering peaks shone in the
sunlight over the clouds. My heart, which was before sorrowful, now swelled
with something like joy; I exclaimed, "Wandering spirits, if indeed ye wander,
and do not rest in your narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, or take
me, as your companion, away from the joys of life."
As I said this I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance,
advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in
the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature, also, as he
approached, seemed to exceed that of man. I was troubled; a mist came over my
eyes, and I felt a faintness seize me, but I was quickly restored by the cold
gale of the mountains. I perceived, as the shape came nearer (sight tremendous
and abhorred!) that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trembled with rage
and horror, resolving to wait his approach and then close with him in mortal
combat. He approached; his countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with
disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too
horrible for human eyes. But I scarcely observed this; rage and hatred had at
first deprived me of utterance, and I recovered only to overwhelm him with
words expressive of furious detestation and contempt.
"Devil," I exclaimed, "do you dare approach me? And do not you fear the fierce
vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! Or
rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust! And, oh! That I could, with the
extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so
"I expected this reception," said the daemon. "All men hate the wretched; how,
then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my
creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties
only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How
dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine
towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I
will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of
death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends."
"Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art! The tortures of hell are too mild a
vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil! You reproach me with your creation,
come on, then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently
My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the feelings
which can arm one being against the existence of another.
He easily eluded me and said,
"Be calm! I entreat you to hear me before you give vent to your hatred on my
devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery?
Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I
will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my
height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted
to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even
mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy
part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every
other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency
and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy
Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no
misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I
was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall
again be virtuous."
"Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community between you and me; we
are enemies. Begone, or let us try our strength in a fight, in which one must
"How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye
upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me,
Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am
I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I
gather from your fellow creatures, who owe me nothing? They spurn and hate me.
The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here
many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me,
and the only one which man does not grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they
are kinder to me than your fellow beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of
my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction.
Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies.
I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in your power
to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it only remains for you
to make so great, that not only you and your family, but thousands of others,
shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be
moved, and do not disdain me. Listen to my tale; when you have heard that,
abandon or commiserate me, as you shall judge that I deserve. But hear me. The
guilty are allowed, by human laws, bloody as they are, to speak in their own
defence before they are condemned. Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me
of murder, and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own
creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man! Yet I ask you not to spare
me; listen to me, and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy the work of
"Why do you call to my remembrance," I rejoined, "circumstances of which I
shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author? Cursed
be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although I
curse myself) be the hands that formed you! You have made me wretched beyond
expression. You have left me no power to consider whether I am just to you or
not. Begone! Relieve me from the sight of your detested form."
"Thus I relieve thee, my creator," he said, and placed his hated hands before
my eyes, which I flung from me with violence; "thus I take from thee a sight
which you abhor. Still thou canst listen to me and grant me thy compassion. By
the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you. Hear my tale; it is
long and strange, and the temperature of this place is not fitting to your
fine sensations; come to the hut upon the mountain. The sun is yet high in the
heavens; before it descends to hide itself behind your snowy precipices and
illuminate another world, you will have heard my story and can decide. On you
it rests, whether I quit for ever the neighbourhood of man and lead a harmless
life, or become the scourge of your fellow creatures and the author of your
own speedy ruin."
As he said this he led the way across the ice; I followed. My heart was full,
and I did not answer him, but as I proceeded, I weighed the various arguments
that he had used and determined at least to listen to his tale. I was partly
urged by curiosity, and compassion confirmed my resolution. I had hitherto
supposed him to be the murderer of my brother, and I eagerly sought a
confirmation or denial of this opinion. For the first time, also, I felt what
the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render
him happy before I complained of his wickedness. These motives urged me to
comply with his demand. We crossed the ice, therefore, and ascended the
opposite rock. The air was cold, and the rain again began to descend; we
entered the hut, the fiend with an air of exultation, I with a heavy heart and
depressed spirits. But I consented to listen, and seating myself by the fire
which my odious companion had lighted, he thus began his tale.