[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
The Modern Prometheus
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
This eBook was designed and published by Planet PDF. For more free
eBooks visit our Web site at
. To hear
about our latest releases subscribe to the
Letter 1
To Mrs. Saville, England
St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has
accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which
you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived
here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister
of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of
my undertaking.
I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the
streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play
upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with
delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze,
which has travelled from the regions towards which I am
advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes.
Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become
more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that
the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents
itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and
delight. There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its
broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a
perpetual splendour. There—for with your leave, my
sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators— there
snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea,
eBook brought to you by
Create, view, and edit PDF. Download the free trial version.
we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in
beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable
globe. Its productions and features may be without
example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies
undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What
may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may
there discover the wondrous power which attracts the
needle and may regulate a thousand celestial observations
that require only this voyage to render their seeming
eccentricities consistent forever. I shall satiate my ardent
curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before
visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by
the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are
sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death and to
induce me to commence this labourious voyage with the
joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his
holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native
river. But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you
cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer
on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a
passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at
present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining
the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only
be effected by an undertaking such as mine.
These reflections have dispelled the agitation with
which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an
enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing
contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady
purpose—a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual
eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my
early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the
various voyages which have been made in the prospect of
arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas
which surround the pole. You may remember that a
history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery
composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas’ library.
My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond
of reading. These volumes were my study day and night,
and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I
had felt, as a child, on learning that my father’s dying
injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark
in a seafaring life.
These visions faded when I perused, for the first time,
those poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted it
to heaven. I also became a poet and for one year lived in a
paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might
obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer
and Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted
with my failure and how heavily I bore the
disappointment. But just at that time I inherited the
fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were turned into
the channel of their earlier bent.
Six years have passed since I resolved on my present
undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from
which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I
commenced by inuring my body to hardship. I
accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to
the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst,
and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the
common sailors during the day and devoted my nights to
the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and
those branches of physical science from which a naval
adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage.
Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a
Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. I
must own I felt a little proud when my captain offered me
the second dignity in the vessel and entreated me to
remain with the greatest earnestness, so valuable did he
consider my services.
And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to
accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been
passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every
[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]