March 2014 - The Real Mr Frankenstein

Instead of an Essay on miniature portraits, this month shows a summary of some other research.
 It results from in depth analysis of Carlisle and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Although not
 shown below, key to the analysis was detailed comparison of the 1818 and 1831 editions,
 to determine why Mary made each change. As such it is logically robust when compared
 to analyses by those academics wedded to a dream by Mary; many tend to have minds
 closed to any detailed and logical analysis such as has been undertaken here. 
With research relating to 19C history, it is vital NOT to let the Heart overrule the Head. 
Hence the Essay supports and illustrates the view:  
The Closer You Get to the Truth, the Better Everything Fits.
  [Visitors are welcome to leave constructive comments, preferably at

The Real Mr Frankenstein

as this site is about miniature portraits and the post may remain here only on a temporary basis]
The Real Mr Frankenstein 

The United Kingdom's Greatest Polymath – Sir Anthony Carlisle (1768-1840)
                [New Research Reveals that Carlisle was Mary Shelley's Model for Victor Frankenstein]

Don C Shelton - 10 March 2014

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519) is acclaimed as an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. The artwork he left to posterity signifies him as an artistic genius, with his 13,000 pages of papers and notebooks inferring him as perhaps the most diversely talented person ever. Without wishing to detract from his genius, one might speculate as to what extent his reputation as inventor is dependent upon on the survival of those 13,000 pages. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is another recognised as a genius, in significant part based upon his surviving papers and notebooks. But if a major plank for recognition is survival of personal written records, how can one recognise a genius whose personal papers are lost to history?

In evaluating Sir Anthony Carlisle it is necessary to seek out his few published papers, scraps of writings, and second-hand references. References begging investigation include one on the human body by Alexander Monro; 'the proportions of its several component parts from Leonardo da Vinci, Soemmering, and Sir Anthony Carlyle [sic]'.i In 1814 John Davy paid tribute to Carlisle; 'the observations that have been collected are very few in number and with the exception of those of Messrs Hunter and Carlisle are scarcely perhaps deserving of confidence'.ii Abernathy also acknowledged; 'Mr Carlisle in whose talents and accuracy we are all disposed to place confidence.'iii    

By 1826 Carlisle was one among a select group portrayed as the United Kingdom's greatest:
We suggested incidentally in a late Number the idea of placing in a national gallery, the portraits of illustrious compatriots of the United Kingdom. ... Here should we behold Wellington, Nelson, and Abercrombie; Pitt, Sheridan, Burke, and Fox; Wyatt, Arkwright, Rennie, and Watt; the faithful image of the illustrious living and the illustrious dead. Would that in a gallery like this were placed, side by side, Marlborough and the Hero of Waterloo, Sydenham next to Bailey, and on the same line Reynolds's John Hunter, Lawrence's Abernethy, Shee's Sir Anthony Carlisle; Newton the philosopher, and the friend of philosophy in Phillipps's Sir Joseph Banks. Garrick should occupy a conspicuous space; whilst beauty, talent, and virtue, should personate the three graces of the histrionic art in Siddons, Farren, and O'Neil.iv

Mary Wollstonecraft intended Carlisle revise her proposed new book and in 1823 he was described by Charles Lamb as 'the best story teller I ever heard',v with Robert William Elliston reminiscing; 'O! it was a rich scene - but Sir Antony [sic] Carlisle, the best of story tellers and surgeons, who mends a lame narrative almost as well as he sets a fracture, alone could do justice to it'.vi It was also observed; 'We have found [Carlisle] even more agreeable as a private talker than as a lecturer; he is rich in the old lore of England, - he will hunt a phrase through several reigns, - propose derivations for words which are equally ingenious and learned, - follow a proverb for generations back, and discuss on the origin of language as though he had never studied aught beside.'vii Carlisle was related by marriage to Byron, as the step-mother of his wife, Martha Symmons, was Ann Trevanion, widow of Byron's great-uncle William Trevanion. Carlisle's range of colleagues and patients included Holcroft, Opie, Nollekens, and Turner, actor Keen and scientists Banks, Davy, and Gurney.

Expanding upon such glimpses from history helps identify, arguably, the UK's greatest polymath, Sir Anthony Carlisle (1768-1840) FRS, PRCS, FSA, FLS, anatomist, biologist, chemist, surgeon, inventor, art lecturer, author, courtier, and social activist. Surgeon at Westminster Hospital from 1793 to 1840, from c1795 close friend of William Godwin, in attendance at Mary Wollstonecraft's death, in 1808-1824 Royal Academy Professor of Anatomy, in 1818 Professor of Surgery and Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons, also in 1818 Surgeon Extraordinary to the Prince Regent and to the Duke of Gloucester.viii Carlisle's research covered many fields, but regrettably his personal papers and notebooks are lost, although remnants may yet be found in some dusty archive.

Carlisle became famous after his discovery of electrolysis in early 1800; 'Mr Carlisle has lately made some interesting experiments which prove the identity of the electric and galvanic fluid. ... an uninterrupted stream of the electric fluid, which being passed through water, decomposes it completely'.ix The experiments were repeated with Nicholson. As a result Carlisle was appointed to the influential Royal Institution Chemistry Committee and elected to the Royal Society. In his 1826 Bakerian Lecture, Humphry Davy described Carlisle's discovery of electrolysis as the true origin of electrochemical science. Carlisle presented many scientific lectures including to the Linnaean Society, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal Society, and at the Royal Academy where he gave an annual series of public lectures on anatomy for sixteen years between 1808-1824. On occasions the lectures featured Chinese jugglers, soldiers performing sword exercises, invisible writing, and Gregson the pugilist. The crowds attending resembled those at modern 'rock-star' concerts; 'There were times when the anatomy lectures at the RA drew such crowds that people fought to get in, and officers from Bow Street had to be stationed at the door to keep out the disorderly element. Those were the addresses of Carlisle, when he was Professor of Anatomy at the RA.'x

Although the notebooks of da Vinci convey the breadth of his research, he brought few inventions to fruition, their legacy being to inspire his peers and followers. Carlisle's insatiable intellect had a similar breadth, and a similar legacy. He wrote and published Gothic novels, he studied the flight of birds and attempted flight in a glider, he discovered electrolysis, and experimented with photography; all by early 1800. He researched sound, discovered how bats navigate, and advised Goldsworthy Gurney on steam vehicles, as well as on safer construction of steam boilers. As social activist he fought for the rights of midwives and mothers against the shocking death tolls associated with man-midwifery. The table summarises 3,500,000 deliveries, where nil means no data available, with 1780-1830 showing the background to his fight on behalf of midwives. To save time and deliver more patients, so to earn more money, man-midwives required parturient women to attend at lying-in hospitals. There surgeon man-midwives, in their bloodied clothes, came straight from supervising anatomy lessons in unclean premises, to infect women as they gave birth, with the infection then spreading with terrible consequences to other parturient patients in the hospital. For history of man-midwifery and on the murders committed by Smellie and Hunter see  Man-midwifery history: 1730-1930.

Carlisle also argued mental issues were the result of physical illness, not of “possession”. At a time when phrenology and mesmerism were widely accepted as important medical advances, he was one of few to challenge their proponents. He drew attention to man-midwives moulding the heads of newborn babies to achieve the skull shapes preferred by phrenology. But that social activism, although now seen as justified, sadly led to his deletion from history as 'mud sticks'. In condemning mesmerism, phrenology, and man-midwifery Carlisle fuelled the ire and enmity of Thomas Wakley, as they were issues vigorously promoted by him in The Lancet to increase his circulation revenue. This despite the anecdotal and statistical evidence for many deaths associated with man-midwifery. In 1826 Wakley chose to ridicule Carlisle as 'Sir Anthony Oyster', commencing a 15 year character assassination. He attacked with trumped up allegations and accusations which Carlisle ignored, preferring to continue with his research rather than waste precious time defending himself against Wakley. Carlisle's lack of response infuriated Wakley, spurring him to greater insults, even a refusal to publish an obituary on Carlisle's death, a stance maintained by Wakley for many years. The undefended negativity wielded by The Lancet has since masked recognition of Carlisle's genius, it being not until after Wakley's death, nearly thirty years after Carlisle's own death, that The Lancet even resiled sufficiently to quote Darwin's respect for Carlisle when reviewing Darwin's 1868 volume, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication.xiGait, gestures, voice, and general bearing are all inherited, as the illustrious Hunter and Sir A Carlisle have insisted”.xii

Despite flitting from science to science, as a busy bee pollinating many species, Carlisle's prime interest was the human body, particularly in seeking a short cut to comprehending human evolution by understanding the reasons for birth defects. He studied the Siamese twins, Cheng and Ang, and hereditary supernumerary digits in the family of maths prodigy Zerah Colburn, even operating to remove his excess fingers. Carlisle stressed the risk of inter-breeding and its consequent effect on species in letters he wrote in 1838 to Alexander Walker where Carlisle used the phrase 'selecting the fit', twenty-six years before Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) wrote of 'survival of the fittest' in his "Principles of Biology" of 1864, and twenty years before Darwin wrote "On the Origin of Species": “I believe that, among mankind, as well as domesticated animals, there are physical and moral influences which may be regulated so as to improve or predispose both the corporeal and moral aptitudes, and certainly the most obvious course is that of selecting the fit [my emphasis] progenitors of both sexes”.xiii Being at the forefront of research Carlisle needed to coin his own scientific terms. To convey his belief 'the especial or peculiar causes termed vital' influencing genetic variation occurred within the womb; in 1838 he coined the term 'embystic evolution':
For the better understanding of physiological, and consequently of pathological phenomena, it is very important to distinguish between physical causes of general influence, and the especial or peculiar causes termed vital, which belong conjointly to organized living bodies; and the facts now submitted must, I believe, lead to more exact and practical discriminations as to the causes of embrystic evolution [my emphasis], the growth of organized parts, the reparation of lesions, and morbid deviations from natural structure.xiv
In focusing on genetic variation within the embryo, rather than 'general influences', Carlisle was far ahead of Darwin, with his insight not fully understood until the science of DNA genetic analysis.

Mary Shelley and Victor Frankenstein
In this short paper it is difficult to adequately convey the breadth of Carlisle's research, but evidence of his lifelong vision, uncovering the secret of life itself, emerges in an unexpected location; especially for any discussing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein without realising Carlisle was inspiration for Mary's Victor Frankenstein. Although only a portion is tabled here, substantial evidence supports that view, with Mary's knowledge of both anatomy and chemistry demonstrating the adage, 'give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man'. Even up to her age 16, the only anatomist/chemist within the Godwin circle capable of imparting the knowledge displayed by Mary in her novel Frankenstein was Carlisle. Mary later, in 1816, read an often quoted book, Elements of Chemical Philosophy where Carlisle's research with an air pump and Volta's battery is discussed by Humphry Davy, who was a chemist but not an anatomist. Carlisle curated the RCS Museum and undertook notable autopsies including John Opie in 1807, Thomas Holcroft in 1809, and Chevalier d'Eon in 1810. He was feted at society dinners for his anatomical experiments, with his servant answering a query from Lady Cork; "Oh! This is not the place where we bottle the children, that's at master's workshop". 

In concentrating on this one aspect of Carlisle's scientific and literary legacy, an open question is whether books on Mary Shelley's lost reading lists from before 1815 sparked her imagination. That possibility is addressable by identifying elements of plot or style which re-emerge within her novel. A 2009 paper in Romantic Textualities demonstrated The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey and The Old Woman, Gothic novels written under the non de plume Mrs Carver were actually written by Carlisle.xvii In writing his novels 'Mr Carlisle' adopted the pen-name 'Mrs Carver', a pun on his occupation of a surgeon 'carving meat'. On 14 October 1797 Carlisle wrote to Godwin; 'my own pamphlets and new Books are distributed all over the Country'; the plural 'new Books' as both Oakendale and Elizabeth (3 vol.) were published in 1797.xviii  

Mary recorded, 'As a child I scribbled; and my favourite pastime … was to 'write stories'. My dreams were at once more fantastic and agreeable than my writings. In the latter I was a close imitator – rather doing as others had done than putting down the suggestions of my own mind.'[F:5] As 'close imitator' Mary draws key incidents from two books, Oakendale, and The Adventures of Hugh Trevor, the latter by Thomas Holcroft a close friend of Carlisle and read by Mary in 1816. Anatomists who body-snatch are central, as with 'those wretches, and pests of society, called Resurrection men, who brought numbers of bodies to Oakendale Abbey'.[O:179]

Popular culture has accepted the appellation Dr Frankenstein. However, apart from physician, Dr Erasmus Darwin, Mary makes no use of the word doctor, being conscious from Carlisle the term only applied to those practising as a physician. As a surgeon-anatomist, Carlisle merited the courtesy title Mr; hence references to Victor the anatomist should properly be as Mr Frankenstein. Frankenstein features an anatomist who body-snatches, dissects, and experiments until able to animate the Creature, commencing with the line, 'It was on a dreary night of November ...'.[F:56] Mary borrows this from Carlisle's opening words in Oakendale, 20 years earlier; 'In the gloomy month of November ...'.[O:25] Mary also borrows a key plot element from Oakendale, where a tall, mute, 'creature' reanimates from the apparently dead and escapes the anatomist. The 'creature' being a hanged felon revived after the hangman's noose at Carlisle had failed its task.[O: 73,180]

Laura gave a fearful shriek, when a tall figure, dressed only in a checked shirt, staggered towards her. The face was almost black; the eyes seemed starting from the head; the mouth was widely extended, and made a kind of hollow guttural sound in attempting to articulate.

In identifying with Laura, the encounter was imprinted on young Mary, with her novel using rather less mature phrasing in imitating Carlisle's scene and his use of 'articulate'; 'his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds.'[F:57]

Space precludes detailed comparison of Oakendale and Frankenstein, but commonality is shown by core elements within uncannily parallel monologues. Laura's monologue in Oakendale reveals her mother, Zelima as a Greek lady originally captured by Algerian Corsairs. Laura is captured and cast by the French into a Paris prison. Laura is rescued from the Paris prison by M du Frene who then looks after her. While in Paris Laura meets and falls in love with Eugene, but his guardian recalls him to England. 'Eugene at first declared he would not obey the mandate, and that he had long enough submitted to the control and caprice of those whom he really believed had no right to direct, or take any part in his conduct'.[O:95] Nevertheless Eugene leaves for England. When du Frene is executed during the French Revolution, Laura flees from Paris to England with her attendant to be reunited with her lover, Eugene.[O:83-106, 144]

The Creature's parallel monologue in Frankenstein reveals Safie's mother as a Christian Arab lady originally captured by Turks. Safie's father is captured and cast by the French into a Paris prison. The Turk is rescued from the Paris prison by Felix De Lacey, who escorts the Turk and Safie from Paris to Leghorn. While in Paris Safie meets and falls in love with Felix, but her father commands her to think no more of him. 'The generous nature of Safie was outraged by this command; she attempted to expostulate with her father, but he left her angrily, reiterating his tyrannical mandate'.[F:122] When her father tells Safie she must then leave for Constantinople, Safie flees from Leghorn to Germany with her attendant to be reunited with her lover, Felix.[F:99-139]

In fleeing France, Laura lands at Milford Haven, Wales in 1792; as further link to Carlisle, close to Slebech where his father-in-law, John Symmons, maintained a residence.[O:97] Arriving at the Abbey, Laura sees evidence of body-snatching, without meeting the anatomist. In 1792 Carlisle was aged 24 and modelled the anatomist on himself. Oakendale and Hugh Trevor descriptions correspond closely to Mary's well known account of Victor's experiments, all inspired by Carlisle.

[In Oakendale Laura] was struck with horror and astonishment when the skeleton of a human body presented itself to her afrighted view! … her eye endeavoured to scrutinize and investigate every object it could through a space so narrow; when, after a slight noise, and a shade of something darkening the view, a large rolling eye-ball met her own, and she instantly sunk down … The dead body of a woman hung against the wall opposite to the door she had entered, with a coarse cloth pinned over all but the face; the ghastly and putrefied appearance of which bespoke her to have been sometime dead ... There were evident marks of blood upon many parts of the floor, and in one corner lay a human skull![O:47,63,73,152]

[In Hugh Trevor w]e found ourselves assaulted with a smell, or rather stench, so intolerable as almost to drive us back, and left us, not only with the dead hand, not only with the dead body, but in the most dismal human slaughterhouse that murder and horror ever constructed, or ever conceived. ... by the light of the lanthorn, we beheld limbs, and bones, and human skeletons, on every side of us. I repeat: horror had nothing to add.Here preparations of arms, pendent in rows, with the vessels injected. There legs, feet, and other limbs. In this place the intestines: in that membranes, cartilages, muscles, with the bones and all their varieties of clothing, in every imaginary mangled form.xix

In Oakendale Carlisle leaves the anatomist's experiments largely off-stage and casts himself as Eugene. Mary brings the anatomist to centre stage and deserves credit for developing the risks associated with revival of a 'creature. Some scholars have identified doppelgängers in Frankenstein. That befits Carlisle's symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome and his complex personality. Other historical figures believed afflicted by Asperger's include Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein. Mary could sense differing personalities in Carlisle's discussions with Godwin. Mary's perception of his inner conflicts, together with the spectre of his female alter ego, Mrs Carver, enabled her to develop her main characters.

- Firstly, Carlisle, her father's friend who tried to save her mother. A word-play is Henry Clerval for Anthony Carlisle (In Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, read by Mary in 1815, the kind friend of evil Montoni is named Cavigni and another character is Mme Clairval. Cavigni and Mme Clairval then begat Mary's Carignan, Clairval (used 20 times), and Clerval).xx Thus Henry for Anthony, then Mme Clairval/Clerval for Mrs Carver/Carlisle.
- Secondly, Carlisle, Professor of Anatomy. Waldman's words echo views expressed by Carlisle, with Mary's description of Waldman matching Carlisle's portrait who turned fifty in early 1818;
He appeared about fifty years of age, but with an aspect expressive of the greatest benevolence, a few grey hairs covered his temples, but those at the back of his head were nearly black. His person was short, but remarkably erect … [F:46]
- Thirdly, an experimental anatomist of c1792 seeking the secret of muscular motion. This 25 year younger Carlisle becomes Victor, but with Mary playing the character in the first person as her male alter-ego, interspersed with blurred references to her family and life experiences.
- Fourthly, Walton who mimics the epistolary style of Carlisle's letters in Old Woman.

Carlisle's portrait shows normal clothing as friend and author, but eccentric and pompous as Carlisle 'the lecturer in full court dress, with bagwig, curled and powdered, his cocked hat, and lace ruffles to his wrists'.xxi When represented in Hugh Trevor as an anatomist he was, 'a man with an apron tied round him, having a kind of bib up to his chin, and linen sleeves drawn over his coat'.xxii

Muscular Motion, Sarah Stone's Mummy, and Mary's Creature
Many famous anatomists have delivered Croonian Lectures on Muscular Motion, euphemism for the Secret of Life. Study of Carlisle's Croonian lectures of 1804, 1805, and 1807 reveals he was seeking to revive life by reversing the coagulation of blood. Carlisle had been a favourite student of John Hunter and aware of his research secrets. He followed Hunter in theorising blood contained the life force to power muscles, so answering Victor's question; 'Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?' [F:50] Carlisle coined the term hibernate, after John Hunter earlier considered reanimating from a frozen state; 'I fancied that if a man would give up the last ten years of his life to this alternate oblivion and action, I might prolong it for a thousand years, by thawing him every hundredth anniversary, when he might learn what had happened during his frozen condition'.xxiii  

The theme re-emerges in Roger Dodsworth, the Reanimated Englishman, Mary's 1826 tale of a man unfrozen after 200 years. Mary revises 'a thousand years' to 'some ten centuries', with word-plays on Mount St Gothard, as 'got frozen', Dr Hotham, 'hot ham' [i.e. thawed], as Dr Hunter, and Mr Dodsworth, for Rev William Dodd, who Hunter sought to revive when he was taken from the gallows, after an unsuccessful defence by Martha Carlisle's uncle.

An aspect unclear in Frankenstein is the source of the Creature but there is logical reason. Mary would have heard reports of body-snatching near her mother's St Pancras grave as multiple instances occurred, with at least 46 bodies snatched there in 1812 alone.xxiv In 1816 a gang of disgruntled body-snatchers broke into St Thomas's dissecting room, terrorised the students, and hacked the corpses into useless fragments. For Mary to promote Victor as reviving a body-snatched subject was thus untenable. 

Seen here is a close up representation of the cadaver in the background arising from the dead. Although copied from an artist's model, the shroud in its hand clearly shows it is intended to be human.

Carlisle commissioned his own portrait in 1824, midway between the two
Frankenstein editions. As RA Professor of Anatomy for the previous 16 years, no man was better placed to devise the iconographic 'anatomy' of his portrait. It depicts two inkwells, an iconographic device to show he had published under two names. His research objective is seen through a door to the future. A cadaver is in the act of rising from the recently dead, has a shroud in its left hand, with muscles clearly delineated and a raised right arm beckoning the viewer. In a pun on the 'human fabric', the knowledge of Carlisle, as the hand on the skull, converts dry blood coloured fabric on the left, or evil side, to the upright, healthy' right-hand fabric, the colour of revitalised fresh blood. The light focussed on the famous anatomical text by Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica, published in 1543, the leg muscles, and shroud, indicates Carlisle's belief his anticipated revival of the recently dead would ensure lasting fame.
Mary imitated Carlisle's iconography in her 1831 frontispiece (showing here) and, contrary to conventional wisdom, chose to depict a tall, naked, well-built, male cadaver, rising from the dead, with a shroud and one raised arm, together with an anatomist, a human skull, an open book, and a open door. Plus an air-pump connected to a Volta battery (showing here), for machines Mary would have seen at Carlisle's home. Carlisle's RA lectures included displays of body parts, as when William Hazlitt had a struggle to keep from fainting when Carlisle passed round platters containing a human head and a human heart, while discussing art inspired from the head and from the heart.xxv Discussion at Godwin's home by Carlisle, about similar displays, led to Mary's inclination in the 1818 edition, to infer the assembly of body parts. However, she later revised her view of the process, as she clarified in 1831 in alluding to Carlisle; 'On this occasion a man of great research in natural philosophy was with us ... 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'.[F:40]

Mary's revision drew Carlisle's subsequent research coupled with recollection of Carlisle's well-attended anatomy lecture of 13 November, 1815 where he announced the arrival, 11 weeks earlier, of a second modern mummy for public display.xxvi The earlier mummy had arrived at RCS in 1808 and led to speculation among Carlisle and his friends about reanimation of a modern mummy as a means of reviving life. This concept, together with reviving a body from freezing, drowning, or asphyxiation, was viewed as publicly acceptable. Mummification was discussed by Matthew Baillie in 1804 and republished in 1812; 'According to Dr Hunter's method, embalming is begun as soon after death as decency will permit. ... the operation should take place after a very short interval, viz. of not more than two or three hours after death'.xxvii The mummies were prepared by Carlisle's two predecessors as RA Professor of Anatomy, William Hunter and John Sheldon, the latter embalming and keeping the mummy of his mistress in his home for thirty years. Although often described as Miss Johnson (a gender word-play on 'Miss John's son'), Sheldon never lied to his friends about the mummy, in reality she was Sarah Stone, a medical artist who died of consumption and had worked for Sheldon and Hunter's assistant, Cruikshank.xxviii Sheldon and Hunter also embalmed Maria, wife of Martin van Butchell, who then exhibited her mummy in a wedding dress in his home, also for over thirty years. Her mummy arrived at the RCS Museum on 24 August 1815 and, as RCS Curator, Carlisle arranged display of the mummies. Maria van Butchell's mummy was described; 'The face is completely preserved; and it is justly considered a curious specimen of what art can accomplish'.xxix Sarah Stone's mummy arrived at RCS in 1808 and was earlier described;

[U]nder a glass frame I saw the body of a young woman, of nineteen or twenty, entirely naked. She had fine brown hair, and lay extended as on a bed. The glass was lifted up, and Sheldon made me admire the flexibility of the arms, a kind of elasticity in the bosom, and even in the cheeks and the perfect preservation of the other parts of the body. Even the skin partly retained its colour though exposed to the


  Sarah Stone resembled this life-sized wax effigy in the Specola Collection

Mary did contemplate her Creature's revival as a mummy; 'A mummy again endued with animation could not be as hideous as that wretch' and she later describes its hand as 'like that of a mummy'.[F:57,211] Although in good condition in 1815, by 1899 one mummy no longer had 'any semblance of life but was shrunken and hard as a board, the skin of the arms, neck and chest quite white but the face, where apparently the colour injected remained, a dull red, all the more ghastly for its colour, and the long brown hair is beautiful no more.'xxxi The mummies were destroyed by bombs during World War II. Previous writers have rejected the possibility of the Creature as a mummy, on the basis ancient Egyptian mummies were brown in colour. However, with only a gender change, Mary's references to yellow skin and dun-white sockets reveal she had viewed the mummy of Sarah Stone, then on display near her home.

[Her] yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; [her] hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; [her] teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with [her] watery eyes that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, [her] shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.[F:56]

In assessing Carlisle/Mrs Carver and Frankenstein hints of literary gender switching are set amid a real life parallel. In May 1810 Carlisle conducted the autopsy of Chevalier d'Eon after forty years fierce debate about d'Eon's gender. The autopsy revealed as a man, what many believed a woman; in effect Carlisle 'converted a woman into a man'.xxxii It thus took little for Mary to 'convert' Sarah Stone into an anonymous male mummy who, on revival, lacks name or memory and is completely unlearned. Although the female pair inspired her 'wedded couple', Mary needed a male and was inspired by the giant in Oakendale; '“God preserve us! Here is a dead man, bigger than a giant. With saucer eyes, and huge limbs!"'.[O:112] As depicted in her frontispiece, he was an amalgam of the eight foot Irish Giant Charles Byrne whose skeleton, still on view at RCS, Carlisle had worked on with John Hunter, coupled with the bodily perfection of pugilist Bob Gregson. Farington recorded attending a breakfast given by Carlisle at his home in Soho Square in 1808, where Gregson was displayed in the drawing room striking poses, whilst Carlisle's friends admired his muscle groups.
No close textual link has previously been noted in Mary's choice of the word Frankenstein for her title ahead of other place names in Europe, but a word-play is apparent. The true name of the first mummy was Sarah Stone and, in schoolgirl terms, Frankenstein translates as Franc/Frank (Fr-free/G-open), en/an (Fr-out of/G-up), stein (G-stone), i.e. 'free out of stone'. A clear word-play on Sarah Stone, and also Mrs van Butchell, 'turned to stone' in 1775 by Hunter and Sheldon.


To do his wife's dead Corps peculiar honour,
Van Butchell wish'd to have it turned to stone,
Hunter just cast his Gorgon looks upon her,
And in a twinkling see the thing is done.i
i Richard Jebb, quoted in Lynda E Stephenson Payne, With Words and Knives, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), p. 112.

In anatomical terms 'to prepare a frame' describes the process of arriving at an anatomical specimen for display, including injecting coloured waxes into the minutest veins. Or, in Frankenstein, pumping revitalised blood into the fibres, muscles, and veins. The key being an electrical machine to revive blood, with a pump and tube to connect it to the mummy. Preparing a frame to be sparked to life is ensuring revived blood will reach all muscle fibre and Victor follows this with difficulty.

Reanimation as a Moral Hazard
In 1804 James Barry completed his famous work Birth of Pandora and around that time fell ill. Barry had just strength enough left to crawl to his own front door, open it, and lay himself down with a paper in his hand, on which he had written his wish to be carried to the house of his close friend Carlisle. Barry died in 1806 and his painting directly links Carlisle's search for muscular motion with Mary's later recording of the risks, seen as equal to opening Pandora's Box. 


 The Birth of Pandora by James Barry - Manchester City Galleries

Carlisle was concerned with the ethics of Galvanism and in 1815, 'deprecated the cruel experiments of some late and present anatomists; conjured the students never to lend themselves to such tortures for the discovery of the hidden principles of vitality, which he declared to be worse than useless, as this principle was one of those wisely concealed from our present view.'xxxiii Significantly Carlisle referred to 'concealed from our present view', and he repeated his warning in 1816.xxxiv But in an era when 'disease' had a wide meaning, in 1818 Carlisle hinted at his own research into a theory of life;

Desperate operators should be reminded, that it is not uncommon for persons to recover from diseases, which are generally supposed to be mortal; but I must reserve the further observations upon that grave and momentous subject, until I am enabled to lay before the Public the particular evidences of my own practice, and my special deliberations upon Surgical Ethics'.xxxv

That same year Mary had Victor echo Carlisle, 'what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!'.[F:39] Carlisle believed he was close to reviving life in a letter of 5 August 1823 he wrote to Samuel Parr. The timing is significant, as Carlisle was sitting for his portrait and hopeful of success.

I feel an interested vanity in wishing you to see the ultimate work of my cogitations. A work so wide in its moral and physical bearings that I dare not say what it is, excepting that the same has been contemplated by many of the first Philosophers, of all ages and countries, and that it embraces a great number of natural facts which conspire to effect a most important practical result.xxxvi

The phrase 'wide in its moral and physical bearings', shows Carlisle considering the moral and ethical implications. It encapsulated his views of many years, as far back as discussion of Godwin's Essay on Sepulchres and Montagu's The Opinions of different Authors upon the Punishment of Death, both published in 1809. If an executed felon or mummy was revived, would it have the same personality as before death? If so, had it been punished enough for its crime? Should a felon be executed again? If so, how many times? Would execution become an ineffectual punishment? Conversely, if a felon's revived mind was blank, was it a new species? Who, and how should a revived mind be taught? How would it learn? Then who would be responsible for any subsequent crimes, the revived human or its teacher?

These themes appear in Frankenstein; as where the Creature notes, 'all my past life was a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing', and they were widely canvassed.[F:117] Fessenden's epic, satirical, poem of 1803, Terrible Tractoration, scorned Aldini's attempt to revive the executed Forster;

And as he can (no doubt of that)
Give rogues the nine lives of a cat;
Why then, to expiate their crimes,
These rogues must all be hung nine times.xxxvii

That possibility of reviving an evil dead rogue 'nine times', was Mary's reason for her Creature to disappear into the snow and ice, to 'ascend my funeral pyre triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames'.[F:215] If merely drowned or frozen, he could revive and become a new threat.

Social and Political Pressures
Letters from Carlisle show in 1817 he wished his research remain secret until success was proven; as Wilkinson recorded of his research into flight; 'His [Carlisle's] own opinion was, that the publication, during his life, would injure his practice as a physician.'xxxviii In 1817 Carlisle wrote to Cayley; 'I have not ventured to speak to any man about these very probable discoveries which may give new physical powers to the human race. I am myself too dependent on my vocation to hazard the abuse and ridicule which a public avowal of such hopes would inevitably afford to my rivals and enemies ... there is not one of them you can trust'.xxxix Despite his 1817 preference for literary anonymity, by 1823 Carlisle was knighted, felt securer, and commissioned Shee to paint his portrait. The iconography infers the title as The Discovery of Muscular Motion, to celebrate Carlisle's anticipated ability to raise a body from premature death. Shee began the portrait around the time Godwin advertised a new printing of Frankenstein on 16 August 1823. With hindsight, the Parr letter of 5 August 1823, the reprinting of Frankenstein, and the Shee portrait become foundations for an orchestrated publicity campaign, to climax when Carlisle revealed his discovery.

We now know Carlisle did not succeed; with subsequent events causing him to fear research publicity. Lack of space here precludes full discussion of the events of 1826-1831, but detailed comparison and analysis of changes between the 1818 and 1831 editions of Frankenstein, evidence Carlisle as model for Victor Frankenstein. Mary's alterations in the 1831 edition were specifically made to reduce the risk of Carlisle becoming widely known as model for Victor Frankenstein. Political risk of being linked with phrenology and Frankenstein is illustrated in a slightly later cartoon, from McLean's Monthly Sheet of Caricatures of 1 March 1832, titled Frankenstein's Creating Peers. Prime Minister Grey holds a paper labelled 'Royal Assent' over a table of ready to be enobled new peers. He is saying “Now I have this Promethean Fire I fear to use it”. He is encouraged by Brougham who says, “Oh! Proceed. We must only be careful to see they all have the bump of obedience prominently developed on their craniums; 'tis the only way to neutralize the smile of those already made”. An angry Duke of Wellington peers through a leaded window.


  Frankenstein's Creating Peers

As political and social tensions increased, particularly those associated with public abhorrence of body-snatching, Mary came to realise any publicity connecting Carlisle with the evil Victor could add to civil unrest. Although from a little later, on 28 April 1832 and 16 March 1833, cartoons from Figaro indicate the public perception of Victor as evil; 'We on a former occasion had to compare Earl Grey to Frankenstein, and he appears again in that character, but in a more objectionable manner [The Coercive Monster], for in the present instance he is fully sensible of the nature of the monster he has produced, and he knows what will be the effect of letting it loose.xl

Debate on the Anatomy Bill continued in 1829-1831. The Bill failed to pass the House of Lords on 5 June, 1829 as a result of opposition from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chief Justice. A week later, on 13 June 1829, The Lancet accused Carlisle and the RCS of moral complicity in the Edinburgh murders by Burke and Hare; 'The members of the Council, morally, are scarcely less guilty than the atrocious Burke, and at a public meeting in the autumn, they may, probably, have an opportunity of learning the opinion of their professional brethren on this subject'.xli On 5 September Wakley added more insult, referring to 'that anile philosopher, Sir Tabby [sic] Carlisle'. 

Pressures now seemed unbearable, but worse was to come. King George IV died on 26 June 1830. The French Revolution of July 1830 saw the overthrow of King Charles X who fled to England. Carlisle feared public unrest could arise from any public knowledge of his research into reviving the recently dead. Mob hotheads might even spread rumours that he, as Surgeon Extraordinary to George IV, was attempting a Frankenstein type resurrection of the late King. 

Grey the Political Frankenstein - Figaro

Mary voiced her political concern in a letter of 11 November 1830 to Lafayette. Four days later, there were alarming reports from the town of Carlisle; 'On Monday se'nnight, his Grace the Duke of Wellington, the saviour of his country, was burnt in effigy at the Market Cross, Carlisle; and on Tuesday se'nnight his Majesty's late Principal Secretary of State, Sir Robert Peel, met a similar fate'.xlii On 18 November 1830 the mob threatened Sir Timothy Shelley with violence in his own home. During 1831 Mary expressed increasing concerns about the risk of revolution in letters written to Trelawny. Carlisle now elderly and his family remained vulnerable due to the on-going Anatomy Act debates. 

 Grey, The Coercive Monster - Figaro

 With her own authorship known, Mary realised she needed to distance Carlisle from Frankenstein. If Wakley decided to coin 'Sir Anthony Frankenstein' to add to his corrosive epithets; 'Sir Anthony Oyster' and 'Sir Tabby Carlisle', public reaction might result in rioting at the home of Carlisle, with any scandal linking the Monarchy and Galvanism potentially culminating in a British version of the July Revolution. On 23 June 1831 The Times published Carlisle's concerns about a forged letter;

Sir, I feel much obliged by your judicious doubts as to the authenticity of a letter signed 'Sir Anthony Carlisle'. I have not written that letter, and I am unaware of its tendency; but as it is a forgery, the probability is that it issues from a malignant source. ... Anthony Carlisle.

Mary now saw urgent need for editorial revision, to disguise Victor and diminish his implicit evilness. Only seven days later, on 30 June 1831, she wrote to her publisher, 'You made me an offer … concerning the publication of Frankenstein … you would oblige me by communicating about it as soon as you can - You promised me to do so early this week - It is of consequence to both parties that there should be no further delay'.xliii Mary then deleted, muted, or moderated all implied references to Carlisle.

Concluding Remarks
Yet more pressure on Carlisle in 1831, and thence on Mary, resulted from fear of a cholera pandemic. In July 1831 Carlisle expressed great concern in his role as Commissioner of Sewers, but was ridiculed for his perceptive view cholera was communicated by saliva being contaminated, and swallowed;

We perceive that the College of Physicians has decided on the extreme contagious character of cholera, and has recommended quarantine regulations, as strict as if the plague were the disease in question. ... We need scarcely allude to the inane or rather insane speculations of Sir Anthony Carlisle. A more direct puff was never sent forth from Warrens manufactory or Ely Place! It is contemptible in the highest degree.xliv

On 16 November 1831, when it was realised the pandemic would reach London, Carlisle gave a further lecture on cholera, but his views were ridiculed in The Lancet where Wakley strongly opposed the contagiousness of cholera. Mary recognised any further ridicule would harm Carlisle's imperative, but the medical confusion is seen in a cartoon from McLean's Monthly of 1832, with one of those depicted, likely Carlisle, commenting; “The scent lies strong, do you see anything?” It was not until after the 1832 pandemic when 6500 people died that it was conceded; 'It is no more than justice to remark that all the statements and predictions of Sir A Carlisle in November last have been completely fulfilled.'xlv 


London Board of Health Hunting after Cases like Cholera.
The torrent of events buffeting Carlisle, and Mary's fear of revolution, fuelled her editorial revision, climaxing on 13 October 1831 when Lord Eldon wrote to Lady Frances of rioting in London;

Our day here yesterday was tremendously alarming ... Londonderry has been very seriously hurt. We hear that the mob (but I cannot answer for the truth of it) hanged in effigy the Duke of Wellington and the Duke of Cumberland at Tyburn. The Duke of Newcastle's house, Lord Bristol's, &c &c, and all other anti-reforming lords, have been visited and left without glass in their windows. ... I heard last night that the King was frightened by the appearance of people on the outside of St James's.xlvi

As no coincidence Mary's Introduction was dated but two days later, 15 October 1831, with her dream embellishment and Darwin reference then deflecting attention from Carlisle for the next 180 years. Dispersing the fog reveals Frankenstein inspired by Carlisle and Oakendale, and welded to the mummy of Sarah Stone; with Mary's adolescent anonymity drawing heavily on Carlisle in 1818, but tempered by her adult acuity in 1831 as she sought to reduce the risk of British revolution.

To fully document Carlisle's wide-ranging research would require a full volume but this essay gives a flavour of that research. In stepping back for a broader view, Carlisle is revealed as arguably the United Kingdom's greatest polymath, with his intellect, scope of interest, fertile mind, and caring persona, somewhat sadly and ironically, now perpetuated far more widely as Victor Frankenstein. 

i Alexander Monro, Elements of the anatomy of the human body, Vol I, (Edinburgh: Carfrae, 1825), p. xxviii.
ii John Davy, An Account of some experiments in animal heat, Philosophical Transactions for 1814, (London: Royal Society, 1814), p. 590.
iii Abernathy, John, An enquiry into the probability and rationality of Mr. Hunter's theory of Life, (London: Longmans, 1814), p. 26.
iv The London Literary Gazette, London, 1826, p 636
v Charles Lamb, ed. Lucas, E V, The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, (London: Methuen, 1905), p. 602.
viRobert Elliston, quoted in The Annual Biography and Obituary for 1832, (London: Longmans, 1832), p. 6.
vii William Clarke, Every Night Book, (London: Richardson, 1827), p. 170.
viii Anthony Carlisle, An Essay on the Disorders of Old Age, (London: Longmans,1818)
ix Alexander Tilloch, Philosophical Magazine, Vol VI, (London: Tilloch, 1800), p. 372.
x William Bewick, Life and Letters of William Bewick, Vol I, (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1871), p. 140.
xi The Lancet, London, J Onwhyn, 1868, p 622
xii Darwin, C, The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, Vol II, London, J Murray, 1868, p 6-13
xiii Carlisle, A, quoted in Walker, Alexander, Intermarriage, London, John Churchill, 1838, p ii
xiv Barker, Edmund Henry, Literary Anecdotes, London, Smith, 1852, p 254
xv Humphry Davy, Elements of Chemical Philosophy, (London: Johnson, 1812), p. 54.
xvi William Fitzpatrick, Lady Morgan, (London: Skeet, 1860), p. 259.
xvii Don Shelton, Anthony Carlisle and Mrs Carver, 2009
xviii Anthony Carlisle,
xix Thomas Holcroft, The Adventures of Hugh Trevor, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 289-297.
xx Paul Cantor, The Frankenstein Notebooks, Text, Vol 13, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), p. 296.
xxi Bewick, Life and Letters, p. 142.
xxii Holcroft, Hugh Trevor, p. 293.
xxiii Joseph Adams, Memoirs of ... John Hunter, (London: Callow, 1818), p. 88.
xxiv James Blake Bailey, The Diary of a Resurrectionist, (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1896), pp. 154-160, 176.
xxv The Burlington Magazine Vol XXII, (London: Burlington, 1913), p. 257.
xxvi The New Monthly Magazine, Vol IV, (London: Colburn, 1815), p. 439.
xxvii Matthew Baillie, On the Embalming of Dead Bodies, Transactions, Vol III, (London: Nicol, 1812), p. 13.
xxviii Julian Litten, The English Way of Death, (London: Robert Hale, 1991), p. 50.
xxix Samuel Leigh, Leigh's New Picture of London, (London: Leigh, 1824), p. 339.
xxx Faujas de St Fond, Travels in England, Scotland, and the Hebrides,Vol I, (London: Ridgeway, 1799), p. 43.
xxxi Anon, John Sheldon, Anatomist and Surgeon, (London: British Medical Journal, 1899), p. 1342.
xxxii Alfred Swaine Taylor, Medical Jurisprudence, (London: Churchill, 1858), p. 660.
xxxiii New Monthly Magazine, (London: Colburn, 1815), p. 439.
xxxiv New Monthly Magazine, (London: Colburn, 1816), p. 58.
xxxv Carlisle, Disorders, p. 109.
xxxvi Anthony Carlisle, quoted by ed. John Johnstone, The works of Samuel Parr, (London: Longmans, 1828), p. 188.
xxxvii Thomas Green Fessenden, Terrible Tractoration, A poetical petition against galvanising .., (London: Hurst, 1803), p. 65.
xxxviii Henry Wilkinson, in Notes and Queries, (London: Bell, 1851), p. 251.
xxxix John Laurence Pritchard, Sir George Cayley, (London: Parrish, 1962), p. 59.
xl Figaro in London, Vol I & Vol II, (London: Strange, 1833), p. 81 and p. 41.
xli The Lancet, (London: Wakley, 1829), p. 338.
xlii William Carpenter, Political Letters and Pamphlets, (London: Carpenter, 1831), p. 8.
xliii Betty T Bennett, Selected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, (Baltimore: John Hopkins, 1995), p. 241.
xliv The Medico-chirurgical Review, (London: Johnson, 1831), p. 286.
xlv Luke Hebert, Register of the Arts and Sciences, (London: Steill, 1832), p. 41.
xlvi John Campbell, The Lives of the Lord Chancellor, Vol VII, (London: Murray, 1847), p. 549.

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