페이지 이미지

style. A profoundly contemplative mind is often mystic and vague in its discourse, because it has not come to a clear as well as profound consciousness; because distinctness has not gone along with depth of apprehension. The discourse of such a man is thoughtful and suggestive, it may be, but is lacking in that scientific, logical power which penetrates and illumines. It has warmth and glow, it may be, but it is the warmth of the stove (to use the comparison of another)-warmth without light.

On the other hand, it often happens that the culture of the mind is clear but shallow. In this case, nothing but the merest commonplace is uttered ; in a manner intelligible and plain enough, but without depth or weight, or even genuine force of style. Shallow waters show a very clear bottom, and but little intensity of light is needed in order to display the pebbles and clear sand. That must be a “purest ray serene -a pencil of strongest light-which discloses the black, rich, wreckstrewn depths. For the clearness of depth is very different from the clearness of shallowness. The former is a positive quality. It is the positive irradiation of that which is solid and dark by that which is ethereal and light. The latter is a negative quality. It is the mere absence of darkness, because there is no substance to be dark—no body in which (if the expression be allowed) the darkness can inhere. Nothing is more luminous than solid fire ; nothing is more flashing than an ignited void.

These two fundamental characteristics of mental culture lie at the foundation of style. Even if the secondary qualities of style could exist without the weightiness and clearness of manner that spring from the union of profound with distinct apprehension, they would exist in vain. The ornament is worthless if there is nothing to sustain it. The bas-relief is valueless without the slab to support it. But these secondary qualities of style—the beauty and the elegance, and the harmonyderive all their charm from springing out of the primary qualities, and in this way, ultimately, out of the deep and clear culture of the mind itself-from being the white flower of the black root.

Style, when having this mental and natural origin, is to be put into the first class of fine forms. It is the form of thought, and, as a piece of art, is as worthy of study and admiration as those glorious material forms which embody the ideas of Phidias, Michael Angelo, and Raphael. It is the form in which the human mind manifests its freest, purest, and most mysterious activity—its thinking. There is nothing mechanical in its origin, or stale in its nature. It is plastic and fresh as the immortal energy of which it is the air and bearing. - Literary Essays.

[ocr errors]

SHELLEY, MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (GODWIN), an English novelist, born in London, August 30, 1797 ; died there, February 21, 1851. She inherited much of the genius of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and of her father, William Godwin, and imbibed many of their theories upon social subjects. The circumstances of her connection with Percy Bysshe Shelley will be found in the succeeding sketch of the poet. Her most distinctive work is the wild romance Frankenstein, written in her eighteenth year. After the death of Shel- ley she edited his works, and wrote several novels, among which are Valperga, The Last Man, Lodore, The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, and a vol. ume of Rambles in Italy and Germany. The plot of Frankenstein runs thus: Frankenstein, who tells the story, is a German student of the occult sciences. He succeeds in creating a living being in the human form, but having the most diabolical instincts. This monster becomes a torment to his own creator, whom he haunts like a spell for years; and finally extorts from him a promise to create a mate like unto himself.

THE MONSTER CREATED BY FRANKENSTEIN. 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 al. ready 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 Í 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 delineate 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 beneath ; 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 of almost the same color as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and straight black lips.

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 disgust 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 repose. But it was in vain ; I slept indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams.

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 as if to detain me; but I escaped, and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the court-yard be. longing 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. 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 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 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 asylum, 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 to return to the apartment which I inhabited, but felt impelled to hurry on, although wetted by the rain, which poured from a black and comfortless sky. 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 I was doing. My heart palpitated with fear, and I hurried on with irregular steps, not daring to look about me.

« 이전계속 »