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Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein

By Richard Brinsley Peake


The Sleeping Apartment of Frankenstein. Dark. The Bed is within a recess between the wings R.H. U.E., enclosed by dark green curtains. A Sword (to break) hanging on 3 E. R.H. A Large French Window on L.H. U.E.; between the wings a staircase leading from L.H. 2 E. to a Gallery across the stage, on which is the Door of the Laboratory above, near to R.H. A small high Lattice in centre of scene, next the Laboratory Door. A Gothic Table on stage near R.H. 3 E., screwed. A Gothic Chair in centre, and Footstool. Music expressive of the rising of a storm. Enter Frankenstein, L.H., with a Lighted Lamp, which he places on the table. Distant thunder heard.

Frank. This evening -- this lowering evening, will, in all probability, complete my task. Years have I laboured, and at length discovered that to which so many men of genius have in vain directed their inquiries. After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I have become master of the secret of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. With so astonishing a power in my hands, long, long did I hesitate how to employ it. The object of my experiment lies there (Pointing up to the Laboratory) -- a huge automaton in human form. Should I succeed in animating it, Life and Death would appear to me as ideal bounds, which I shall break through and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. I have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit. I have clothed the inanimate mass, lest the chilly air should quench the spark of life newly infused. (Thunder and heavy rain heard.) 'Tis a dreary night, the rain patters dismally against the panes; 'tis a night for such a task. I'll in and complete the wondrous effort.

[Music. -- Frankenstein takes up lamp, cautiously looks around him, ascends the stairs, crosses the gallery above, and exits into door of laboratory.

Enter Fritz, with a candle, L.H.

Fritz. Master isn't here -- dare I peep. Only think of the reward Mr. Clerval promised me, a cow and a cottage, milk and a mansion. Master is certainly not come up yet. My candle burns all manner of colours, and spits like a roasted apple. (Runs against the chair and drops his light, which goes out.) There, now, I'm in the dark. Oh my nerves. (A blue flame appears at the small lattice Window above, as from the laboratory.) What's that? Oh, lauk; there he is, kicking up the devil's own flame! Oh my cow! I'll venture up -- oh my cottage! I'll climb to the window -- it will be only one peep to make my fortune.

(Music. -- Fritz takes up footstool, he ascends the stairs, when on the gallery landing place, he stands on the footstool tiptoe to look through the small high lattice window of the laboratory, a sudden combustion is heard within. The blue flame changes to one of a reddish hue.)

Frank. ( Within.) It lives! it lives!

Fritz. (Speaks through music.) Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear!

(Fritz, greatly alarmed, jumps down hastily, totters tremblingly down the stairs in vast hurry; when in front on stage, having fallen flat in fright, with difficulty speaks.)

Fritz. There's a hob -- hob-goblin, seven-and-twenty feet high! Oh, my nerves; I feel as if I had just come out of strong fits, and nobody to throw cold water in my face -- if my legs won't lap under me, I'll just make my escape. (Crosses to L.H.) Oh, my poor nerves! Exit Fritz, crawling off L.H.

(Music. -- Frankenstein rushes from the laboratory, without lamp, fastens the door in apparent dread, and hastens down the stairs, watching the entrance of the laboratory.)

Frank. It lives! I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open, it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. What a wretch have I formed, his legs are in proportion and I had selected his features as beautiful -- beautiful! Ah, horror! his cadaverous skin scarcely covers the work of muscles and arteries beneath, his hair lustrous, black, and flowing -- his teeth of pearly whiteness -- but these luxuriances only form more horrible contrasts with the deformities of the monster. (He listens at the foot of the staircase.) What have I accomplished? the beauty of my dream has vanished! and breathless horror and disgust now fill my heart. For this I have deprived myself of rest and health, have worked my brain to madness; and when I looked to reap my great reward, a flash breaks in upon my darkened soul, and tells me my attempt was impious, and that the fruition will be fatal to my peace for ever. (He again listens.) All is still! The dreadful spectre of a human form -- no mortal could withstand the horror of that countenance -- a mummy embued with animation could not be so hideous as the wretch I have endowed with life! -- miserable and impious being that I am! Elizabeth! brother! Agatha! -- fairest Agatha! never more dare I look upon your virtuous faces. Lost! lost! lost!

(Music. -- Frankenstein sinks on a chair; sudden combustion heard, and smoke issues, the door of laboratory breaks to pieces with a loud crash -- red fire within. -- The Monster discovered at door entrance in smoke, which evaporates -- the red flame continues visible. The Monster advances forward, breaks through the balustrade or railing of gallery immediately facing the door of laboratory, jumps on the table beneath, and from thence leaps on the stage, stands in attitude before Frankenstein, who had started up in terror; they gaze for a moment at each other.)

Frank. The horrid corpse to which I have given life!

(Music. -- The Monster looks at Frankenstein most intently, approaches him with gestures of conciliation. Frankenstein retreats round to R.H., the Monster pursuing him.)

Frank. Fiend! dare not to approach me -- avaunt, or dread the fierce vengeance of my arm.

(Music. -- Frankenstein takes the sword from off nail 3 E., points with it at Monster, who snatches the sword, snaps it in two and throws it on stage. The Monster then seizes Frankenstein -- loud thunder heard -- throws him violently on the floor, ascends the staircase, opens the large window on L.H. 3 E., and disappears through the casement. Frankenstein remains motionless on the ground. -- Thunder and lightning until the drop falls.