The Very Poetry of Nature: Letters from Victor Frankenstein to Henry Clerval

Annabel Mahoney


Letter One

united              in the bonds of the closest friendship to                      the son of a merchant of Geneva. He was a boy of singular talent and fancy. He loved       danger for its own sake;           chivalry and romance.             heroic songs                 a t ale of enchantment and knightly adventure.

                        chivalrous train who shed their blood

                         occupied himself                     with the moral relations of things. the actions of men were his theme; and his hope and his dream.

                        —could aught ill entrench on the noble spirit of Clerval?

            so perfectly humane, so thoughtful in his generosity, so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his passion for adventurous exploit

I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling


Clerval spent the last evening with us.               endeavoured to persuade his father to permit him to accompany me                               in vain. His father was   narrow-minded     and saw idleness and ruin in                         his son. Henry deeply        felt.                                          He said little, but          I read in his kindling eye and in his animated glance a restrained but firm resolve not to be chained          .

We sat late. We could not tear ourselves away from each other nor persuade ourselves to say the word “Farewell!” It was said, and we retired under the pretence of seeking repose, each fancying that the other was deceived;             at morning’s dawn I descended to the carriage which was to convey me away,                        Clerval to press my hand once more.

I would write often



                        continually engaged in endeavouring to bestow mutual pleasure—I was now alone.




Letter Two

where I was standing, and on the door being opened I perceived Henry

             “My dear Frankenstein,” exclaimed he, “how glad I am to see you! How fortunate that you should be here at the very moment of my alighting!”

Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his presence brought                                              all those scenes of home so dear. I grasped his hand,                                         I felt suddenly, and for the first time during many months, calm and serene joy.

“It gives me the greatest delight to see you;”

“                      But, my dear Frankenstein,” continued he, stopping short and gazing full in my face, “                      how very ill you appear; so thin and pale; you look as if you had been watching for several nights.”

I am at length free.”

I trembled excessively;             feared still more that Henry should see. I clapped my hands for joy and ran down to Clerval.

I was unable to contain myself. It was not joy only that possessed me; I felt my flesh tingle with excess of sensitiveness, and my pulse beat rapidly.

“My dear Victor,”

Poor Clerval! What must have been his feelings?                                  such joy, so strangely turned to bitterness. But I was not the witness of his grief, for I was lifeless                                                             for a long, long time.


Henry was my only nurse.

            He knew that I could not have a more kind and attentive nurse than himself; he performed the kindest action.


with frequent relapses that alarmed and grieved my friend, I recovered. I remember the first time I became capable of observing outward objects with any kind of pleasure,                                              sentiments of joy and affection revive in my bosom; my gloom disappeared, and in a short time I became as cheerful as before I was attacked by the fatal passion.

“Dearest Clerval,” exclaimed I, “how kind, how very good you are to me.”

            “You will repay me entirely if you do not discompose yourself, but get well as fast as you can”

“Is that all, my dear Henry?”



Letter Three

                        I writhed under his words, yet dared not exhibit the pain I felt.

Clerval, whose eyes and feelings were always quick in discerning the sensations of others, declined the subject, alleging, in excuse, his total ignorance;

                        Clerval had always been my favourite companion

my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the                                        conversation of my friend. Study had                           rendered me unsocial; but Clerval called forth the better feelings of my heart; he again taught me to love. Excellent friend! how sincerely you did love me

             A selfish pursuit had cramped and narrowed me, until your gentleness and affection warmed and opened my senses; I became a              happy creature.

When happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sensations.       Henry rejoiced in my gaiety                            he exerted himself to amuse me, while he expressed the sensations that filled his soul.

                                    At other times he repeated my favourite poems, or drew me out into arguments, which he supported with great ingenuity.

I bounded along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity.



Letter Four

I waited two days for Clerval. He came            .                                                           He was alive to every new scene, joyful when he saw the beauties of the setting sun, and more happy when he beheld it rise and recommence a new day. He pointed out to me the shifting colours of the landscape and the appearances of the sky. “This is what it is to live,” he cried           “But you, my dear Frankenstein, wherefore are you desponding and sorrowful”


Clerval! Beloved friend! Even now it delights me to record your words and to dwell on the praise of which you are so eminently deserving.

            He was a being formed in the “very poetry of nature.”            His wild and enthusiastic imagination was chastened by the sensibility of his heart. His soul overflowed with ardent affections, and his friendship was of that devoted and wondrous nature that the worldly-minded teach us to look for only in the imagination.

                                    he loved with ardour;

                        And where does he now exist? Is this gentle and lovely being lost for ever? Has this mind, so replete with ideas, imaginations fanciful and magnificent, which formed a world, whose existence depended on the life of its creator;—has this mind perished? Does it now only exist in my memory?

            No, it is not thus; your form so divinely wrought, and beaming with beauty, has decayed, but your spirit still visits and consoles your unhappy friend.

Pardon this gush of sorrow; these ineffectual words are but a slight tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry, but they soothe my heart, overflowing with the anguish which his remembrance creates.



Letter Five

Clerval desired the intercourse of the men of genius and talent who flourished.

                        I told Clerval that I wished to make the tour of Scotland alone.

I saw a fishing-boat land close to me, and one of the men brought me a packet; it contained letters from Geneva, and one from Clerval entreating me to join him.



Letter Six

I entered the room where the corpse lay and was led up to the coffin.                                                              I feel yet parched with horror, nor can I reflect on that terrible moment without shuddering and agony.                              passed like a dream from my memory when I saw the lifeless form of Henry Clerval              throwing myself on the body, I exclaimed, “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life?             but you, Clerval, my friend, my benefactor—”

The human frame could no longer support the agonies that I endured, and I was carried out of the room in strong convulsions.

Can any man be to me as Clerval was?

            dear not only through habit and association, but from   own merits;


and wherever I am, the soothing voice                         of Clerval will be ever whispered in my ear.


                                    He was soon borne