On this occasion a man of great research in natural philosophy was with us, and excited by this catastrophe, he entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and
galvanism, which was at once new and astonishing to me.
With a confusion of ideas only to be accounted for by my extreme youth and my want of a guide on such matters, I had retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time and exchanged the discoveries of recent
inquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists.
the act of pursuing in an effort to overtake or capture
My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions vehement; but by some law in my temperature they were turned not towards childish
pursuits but to an eager desire to learn, and not to learn all things indiscriminately.
Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money from the wreck of his fortunes, but it was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months, and in the meantime he hoped to
procure some respectable employment in a merchant's house.
The interval was, consequently, spent in inaction; his grief only became more deep and
rankling when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertion.
The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be
transmuted and that the elixir of life is a chimera but these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles.
a summary at the end that repeats the substance of a longer discussion
He began his lecture by a
recapitulation of the history of chemistry and the various improvements made by different men of learning, pronouncing with fervour the names of the most distinguished discoverers.
Good God! In what desert land have you lived, where no one was kind enough to inform you that these fancies which you have so greedily
imbibed are a thousand years old and as musty as they are ancient?
And thus for a time I was occupied by exploded systems, mingling, like an unadept, a thousand contradictory theories and floundering desperately in a very slough of
multifarious knowledge, guided by an ardent imagination and childish reasoning, till an accident again changed the current of my ideas.
showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity
He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind and to surround her with all that could tend to excite pleasurable emotion in her soft and
All that he said threw greatly into the shade Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, the lords of my imagination; but by some fatality the overthrow of these men
disinclined me to pursue my accustomed studies.
He came like a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care; and after the
interment of his friend he conducted her to Geneva and placed her under the protection of a relation.
She busied herself with following the aerial creations of the poets; and in the majestic and wondrous scenes which surrounded our Swiss home âthe sublime shapes of the mountains, the changes of the seasons, tempest and calm, the silence of winter, and the life and
turbulence of our Alpine summersâshe found ample scope for admiration and delight.
I returned home not disappointed, for I have said that I had long considered those authors useless whom the professor
reprobated; but I returned not at all the more inclined to recur to these studies in any shape.
And thus for a time I was occupied by exploded systems, mingling, like an unadept, a thousand contradictory theories and floundering desperately in a very slough of multifarious knowledge, guided by an
ardent imagination and childish reasoning, till an accident again changed the current of my ideas.
Yet he might not have been so perfectly humane, so thoughtful in his generosity, so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his passion for adventurous exploit, had she not unfolded to him the real loveliness of
beneficence and made the doing good the end and aim of his soaring ambition.
During the two years that had elapsed previous to their marriage my father had gradually
relinquished all his public functions; and immediately after their union they sought the pleasant climate of Italy, and the change of scene and interest attendant on a tour through that land of wonders, as a restorative for her weakened frame.
He passed his younger days
perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband and the father of a family.
After having made a few preparatory experiments, he concluded with a
panegyric upon modern chemistry, the terms of which I shall never forget: "The ancient teachers of this science," said he, "promised impossibilities and performed nothing.
It was a bold question, and one which has ever been considered as a mystery; yet with how many things are we upon the
brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquiries.
Sometimes I grew alarmed at the wreck I perceived that I had become; the energy of my purpose alone sustained me: my labours would soon end, and I believed that exercise and amusement would then drive away
incipient disease; and I promised myself both of these when my creation should be complete.
Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its
intricacies of fibres, muscles, and veins, still remained a work of inconceivable difficulty and labour.
By one of those caprices of the mind which we are perhaps most subject to in early youth, I at once gave up my former occupations, set down natural history and all its
progeny as a deformed and abortive creation, and entertained the greatest disdain for a would-be science which could never even step within the threshold of real knowledge.
a mixture containing two or more metallic elements or metallic and nonmetallic elements usually fused together or dissolving into each other when molten
If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no
alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind.
the human face (`kisser' and `smiler' and `mug' are informal terms for `face' and `phiz' is British)
I attended the lectures and cultivated the acquaintance of the men of science of the university, and I found even in M. Krempe a great deal of sound sense and real information, combined, it is true, with a repulsive
physiognomy and manners, but not on that account the less valuable.
By one of those caprices of the mind which we are perhaps most subject to in early youth, I at once gave up my former occupations, set down natural history and all its progeny as a deformed and
abortive creation, and entertained the greatest disdain for a would-be science which could never even step within the threshold of real knowledge.
tending to bring about; being partly responsible for
When I had arrived at this point and had become as well acquainted with the theory and practice of natural philosophy as depended on the lessons of any of the professors at Ingolstadt, my residence there being no longer
conducive to my improvements, I thought of returning to my friends and my native town, when an incident happened that protracted my stay.
a ritual recitation of words or sounds believed to have a magical effect
The raising of ghosts or devils was a promise liberally accorded by my favourite authors, the fulfilment of which I most eagerly sought; and if my
incantations were always unsuccessful, I attributed the failure rather to my own inexperience and mistake than to a want of skill or fidelity in my instructors.
the ultimate agency regarded as predetermining the course of events (often personified as a woman)
Besides, in drawing the picture of my early days, I also record those events which led, by insensible steps, to my after tale of misery, for when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion which afterwards ruled my
destiny I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys.
There was a show of gratitude and worship in his attachment to my mother, differing wholly from the doting fondness of age, for it was inspired by reverence for her virtues and a desire to be the means of, in some degree,
recompensing her for the sorrows she had endured, but which gave inexpressible grace to his behaviour to her.
Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its intricacies of fibres, muscles, and veins, still remained a work of
inconceivable difficulty and labour.
Winter, spring, and summer passed away during my labours; but I did not watch the blossom or the expanding leavesâsights which before always yielded me supreme delightâso deeply was I
engrossed in my occupation.
marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid
My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions
vehement; but by some law in my temperature they were turned not towards childish pursuits but to an eager desire to learn, and not to learn all things indiscriminately.
I listened to his statement, which was delivered without any presumption or affectation, and then added that his lecture had removed my prejudices against modern chemists; I expressed myself in measured terms, with the modesty and
deference due from a youth to his instructor, without letting escape (inexperience in life would have made me ashamed) any of the enthusiasm which stimulated my intended labours.
It was said, and we retired under the
pretence of seeking repose, each fancying that the other was deceived; but when at morning's dawn I descended to the carriage which was to convey me away, they were all thereâmy father again to bless me, Clerval to press my hand once more, my Elizabeth to renew her entreaties that I would write often and to bestow the last feminine attentions on her playmate and friend.