Romantic Triptych (On Frames): William Wordsworth – Mary Shelley – James Hogg

Territorial Frame (William Wordsworth, “The Ruined Cottage,” Major Works [OUP])

IMG_0534I rose and turned towards a group of trees
Which midway in that level stood alone,
And thither come at length, beneath a shade
Of clustering elms that sprang from the same root
I found a ruined house, four naked walls
That stared upon each other. (lines 28-32)

The old Man said, ‘I see around me here
Things which you cannot see: we die, my Friend,
Nor we alone, but that which each man loved
And prized in his peculiar nook of earth
Dies with him or is changed, and very soon
Even of the good is no memorial left.’ (lines 67-72)

[                                              ] The unshod Colt,
The wandring heifer and the Potter’s ass,
Find shelter now within the chimney-wall
Where I have seen her evening hearth-stone blaze
And through the window spread upon the road
Its chearful light. (lines 111-16)

‘And ’twas a piteous thing to see the looks
Of the poor innocent children. “Every smile,”
Said Margaret to me here beneath these trees,
“Made my heart bleed.”‘ At this the old Man paused
And looking up to those enormous elms
He said, ‘ ‘Tis now the hour of deepest noon.’ (lines 182-87)

Bodily Frame (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein [Norton, 2nd ed.])

One of the phaenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal endued with life. Whench, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed? It was a bold question . . . (31)

I am malicious because I am miserable; am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? You would not call it murder, if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts, and destroy my frame, the work of your own hands. Shall I respect man, when he contemns me? Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness, and, instead of injury, I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at his acceptance. But that cannot be; the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union. (102)

I shall quit your vessel on the ice-raft which brought me hither, and shall seek the most northern extremity of the globe; I shall collect my funeral pile, and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch, who would create such another as I have been. I shall die. I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me, or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched. (161)

Narrative Frame (James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner [OUP])

IMG_0422I have now the pleasure of presenting my readers with an original document of a most singular nature, and preserved for their perusal in a still more singular manner. I offer no remarks on it, and make as few additions to it, leaving every one to judge for himself. We have heard much of the rage of fanaticism in former days, but nothing to this . . . (71)

What can this work be? Sure you will say, it must be an allegory or (as the writer calls it) a religious PARABLE, showing the dreadful danger of self-righteousness? I cannot tell. (178)

With regard to the work itself, I dare not venture a judgment, for I do not understand it. (188)

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