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  1. Dec 2019
    1. Before this I was not unacquainted with the more obvious laws of electricity. On this occasion a man of great research in natural philosophy was with us, and, excited by this catastrophe, he entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism, which was at once new and astonishing to me. All that he said threw greatly into the shade Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, the lords of my imagination; but by some fatality the overthrow of these men disinclined me to pursue my accustomed studies. It seemed to me as if nothing would or could ever be known. All that had so long engaged my attention suddenly grew despicable. By one of those caprices of the mind, which we are perhaps most subject to in early youth, I at once gave up my former occupations; set down natural history and all its progeny as a deformed and abortive creation; and entertained the greatest disdain for a would-be science, which could never even step within the threshold of real knowledge. In this mood of mind I betook myself to the mathematics, and the branches of study appertaining to that science, as being built upon secure foundations, and so worthy of my consideration. Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin. When I look back, it seems to me as if this almost miraculous change of inclination and will was the immediate suggestion of the guardian angel of my life— the last effort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hanging in the stars, and ready to envelope me. Her victory was announced by an unusual tranquillity and gladness of soul, which followed the relinquishing of my ancient and latterly tormenting studies. It was thus that I was to be taught to associate evil with their prosecution, happiness with their disregard. 29It was a strong effort of the spirit of good; but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.

      In this section, in 1831 three paragraphs of text replace a five-paragraph section in 1818.

      Awed by the destructive power of the lightning-blast and their companions discourse on galvanism, Victor throws aside the "tormenting studies" of both medieval alchemy and natural philosophy which had hitherto fueled his sense of wonder and formed the basis of his intellectual obsessions. Turning instead to mathematics, he enjoys a brief respite from his torments, but his former desires will overtake him again.

    1. I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed 098hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs

      This description recalls an experiment by Giovanni Aldini, a Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the University of Bologna, Italy. He was also Luigi Galvani’s nephew and a strong proponent of the latter’s work. In early 1803, Aldini conducted an electrical experiment on the corpse of Thomas Foster at Newgate Prison in London. A voltaic pile sent electric currents through the dead man’s body, causing it to contract and contort and one eye to open. Such experiments were well known to the Shelleys, who attended physiological lectures in London between 1802 and 1816.