Imatges de pÓgina

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, endeavouring 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 Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprized, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they 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 shrowd 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 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 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 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 attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.'-vol. i. pp. 97-101.

The next is the description of the meeting in the valley of Chamouny.

'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 aërial 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. lle 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; 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.'-vol. ii. pp. 21–23.

The last with which we shall agitate the nerves of our readers is Captain Walton's description of the monster he found in his cabin.

O! 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 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 curiosity and compassion. I approached this tremendous being; I dared not again raise my looks upon his face, there was something so scaring and unearthly in its ugliness. I attempted to speak, but the words died away on my lips. The monster continued to utter wild and incoherent self-reproaches.'-vol. iii, pp. 178–181.

It cannot be denied that this is nonsense-but it is nonsense decked out with circumstances and clothed in language highly terrific it is, indeed,

a tale

Told by an ideot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing-

but still there is something tremendous in the unmeaning hollowness of its sound, and the vague obscurity of its images.

But when we have thus admitted that Frankenstein has passages which appal the mind and make the flesh creep, we have given it all the praise (if praise it can be called) which we dare to bestow. Our taste and our judgment alike revolt at this kind of writing, and the greater the ability with which it may be executed the worse it is-it inculcates no lesson of conduct, manners, or morality; it cannot mend, and will not even amuse its readers, unless their taste have been deplorably vitiated-it fatigues the feelings without interesting the understanding; it gratuitously harasses the heart, and wantonly adds to the store, already too great, of painful sensations. The author has powers, both of conception and language, which employed in a happier direction might, perhaps, (we speak dubiously,) give him a name among those whose writings amuse or amend their fellow-creatures; but we take the liberty of assuring him, and hope that he may be in a temper to listen to us, that the style which he has adopted in the present publication merely tends to defeat his own purpose, if he really had any other object in view than that of leaving the wearied reader, after a struggle between laughter and loathing, in doubt whether the head or the heart of the author be the most diseased.

ART. VI. An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Bengal Native Infantry, from its first formation in 1757 to 1796, when the present Regulations took place: together with a Detail of the Services on which the several battalions have been employed during that period. By the late Captain Williams, of the Invalid Establishment of the Bengal Army. 8vo. London. 1817.

THE title of this book attracted our notice, and we were grati

fied by a perusal of it. The motives which induced its deceased author (an officer in the service of the East India Company) to prepare it for publication, are briefly stated in the introductory pages. The original work has been greatly enhanced in value, by the kindness of a brother officer, who has given a concise but able account of the changes which have taken place, and the events which

have occurred in the Bengal army, since A.D. 1796, the period at which the narrative of Captain Williams ceases.

The subject of this work is truly interesting, and we shall rejoice to see others of a similar description; for it is not specious theory, but an accumulation of facts, which we require to guide our judgment through the difficult, and, we may say, the awful task of governing the vast dominions which we have acquired in the East; and none are more important than those which throw light upon the character of that army, by whose valour and attachment the great conquest has been principally achieved, and without whose continued fidelity it cannot be preserved.

The decided preference which a great proportion of the inhabitants of India have shewn towards the rule of the British government, originated in several causes, but in none more than an observation of the courage and discipline of its troops, and the comparative superiority both in regard to the justice and permanence of its civil institutions. Nations wearied out with the dissensions and oppressions of barbarous and rival chiefs, found (to use the oriental phrase) repose under the shadow of its protection; and the great mass of the people have been benefited in their condition by the extension of its power--but their princes have almost all fallen.— The territories of the monarchs who opposed, and who supported this government, have shared the same fate-all have been absorbed in one vortex ;-the only difference has been, that the one has perished by a sudden and violent death, while the dissolution of the other has been comparatively easy and gradual. It is difficult to repress those feelings which the past view of this picture is calculated to excite; one of the most natural and legitimate sentiments of the human mind leads it to regard that power which has been long established in ancient and noble families with respect, if not veneration. It is the great link of order in every society, particularly in those where the rule is simple and despotic. We are compelled by the impulse of this feeling to regard every species of usurpation with disgust, but above all, that of strangers, who appear to the general observer to have subdued the natives of one of the finest portions of the earth, with no view but the sordid and inglorious one of rendering their land a source of profit, or at least using that power which its possession gave them, to protect a profitable commerce. British India cannot be considered as a colony. Its rank is that of a dependent empire;-and though the chain of connection by which it is preserved in subjection may want some of those links which have ever been deemed essential to the maintenance of power, there are in its constitution, advantages of no ordinary magnitude. One of the most striking is, that it contains fewer of those elements, which produce acts of violence and injus

tice, than any other state in the universe. Its governors are mere ministers, who are controuled by their superiors in England, and checked (if they attempt any unwise or illegal exercise of their authority) by their colleagues in power in India.

The character of the government they serve, and of that they preside over, precludes those ebullitions of personal ambition which have so often hastened the downfall of other kingdoms; and we believe that the benefit derived from that calmness and exclusive attention to the public interest, with which their peculiar condition enables them to exercise their sovereign functions, is the chief ground upon which we can build any expectation of the duration of the empire we have established. This empire has probably not yet reached its zenith-we are aware of all the dangers of its increase. Like the circle in the water, the very trace of our power will, in all probability, be lost in expansion; but we are among those who doubt the possibility of fixing the limits of our career. Every effort, however, should be made to retard it. As European politicians we may be allowed to express our fear, that the local government of India, throughout all its branches, is impelled, by its very nature, to promote change and the aggrandizement of the state. Public officers, from the governor-general to the lowest of those who hold stations of any consequence, must, from the ephemeral character of their power, have an anxiety to recommend themselves, during the short hour of their authority, to their superiors; and men of the most distinguished virtue and talent often desire action with an ardour that makes them more ready to combat than to attend to the cold dictates of moderation and prudence. To the Indian government in England, which is, on the other hand, perhaps too free from the influence of similar motives, belongs the task of repressing and keeping within due limits, that natural spirit of ambition, which the minds of those imbibe whose attention for any period is exclusively fixed on India. But to render this check efficient, it is necessary that those in whose hands it is placed should act with full knowledge, and with the most enlarged views; otherwise the end will be defeated. If orders grounded on imperfect knowledge, narrow views, and general maxims of rule, which are, perhaps, inapplicable to the actual condition of the empire, and to passing events, are sent to India, they will, they must be evaded or neglected. The safety of the state requires that they should-and after all, though we may, and ought to use every endeavour to retard, if we cannot arrest, the growth of our eastern possessions, still events will occur to mock every attempt to reduce our conduct in the pursuit of this policy to any exact laws. For let us suppose for a moment, that those employed to govern abroad were subdued into the most passive and unempassioned instruments




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