judge . . . misfortunes
Behind this utterance, one can hear what is truly the locus
classicus, the classic statement, of how one is impelled by exile to
provide sympathetic assistance to other exiles, that of Dido before
the shipwrecked Aeneas: "Non ignari mali, miseris succerere disco -- Not
ignorant of evils myself, I learn to succor the miserable"
(Aeneid, I.630). Without question Mary Shelley's educated readers
would have heard the resonance of this Latin tag, an allusion few women
novelists of this time would have had sufficient classical training to make.