A violent storm besets the English traveller Stanton in Charles Robert Maturin’s eerie Gothic masterpiece, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820):
Stanton forgot his cowardly guide, his loneliness, his danger amid an approaching storm and an inhospitable country, where his name and country would shut every door against him, and every peal of thunder would be supposed justified by the daring intrusion of a heretic in the dwelling of an old Christian, as the Spanish Catholics absurdly term themselves, to mark the distinction between them and the baptised Moors.–All this was forgot in contemplating the glorious and awful scenery before him,–light struggling with darkness,–and darkness menacing a light still more terrible, and announcing its menace in the blue and livid mass of cloud that hovered like a destroying angel in the air, its arrows aimed, but their direction awfully indefinite. But he ceased to forget these local and petty dangers, as the sublimity of romance would term them, when he saw the first flash of the lightning, broad and red as the banners of an insulting army whose motto is Væ victis, shatter to atoms the remains of a Roman tower;–the rifted stones rolled down the hill and fell at the feet of Stanton. He stood appalled, and awaiting his summons from the Power in whose eye pyramids, palaces, and the worms whose toil has formed them, and the worms who toil out their existence under their shadow or their pressure, are perhaps all alike contemptible, he stood collected, and for a moment felt that defiance of danger which danger itself excites, and we love to encounter it as a physical enemy, to bid it ‘do its worst,’ and feel that its worst will perhaps be ultimately its best for us.
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