THE ORIGINS OF THE VAMPIRE
THROUGHOUT the whole vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such fearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nor demon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and possesses the mysterious and terrible qualities of both. Around the vampire have clustered the most sombre superstitions, for he is a thing which belongs to no world at all; he is not a demon, for the devils have a purely spiritual nature, they are beings without any body, angels, as is said in S. Matthew xxv. 41, “the devil and his angels.” And although S. Gregory writes of the word Angel, “nomen est officii, non naturae,”–the designation is that of an office not of a nature, it is clear that all angels were in the beginning created good in order to act as the divine messengers (ἄγγελοι), and that afterwards the fallen angels lapsed from their original state. The authoritative teaching of the Fourth Lateran Council under Innocent III in 1215, dogmatically lays down: “Diabolus enim et alii daemones a Deo quidem natura creati sunt boni, sed ipsi per se facti sunt mali.” And it is also said, Job iv. 18: “Ecce qui seruiunt ei, non sunt stabiles, et in Angelis suis reperit prauitatem.” (Behold they that serve him are not steadfast, and in his angels he found wickedness.)
John Heinrich Zopfius in his Dissertatio de Uampiris Seruiensibus, Halle, 1733, says: “Vampires issue forth from their graves in the night, attack people sleeping quietly in their beds, suck out all their blood from their bodies and destroy them. They beset men, women and children alike, sparing neither age nor sex. Those who are under the fatal malignity of their influence complain of suffocation and a total deficiency of spirits, after which they soon expire. Some who, when at the point of death, have been asked if they can tell what is causing their decease, reply that such and such persons, lately dead, have arisen from the tomb to torment and torture them.” Scoffern in his Stray Leaves of Science and Folk Lore writes: “The best definition I can give of a vampire is a living, mischievous and murderous dead body. A living dead body! The words are idle, contradictory, incomprehensible, but so are Vampires.” Horst, Schriften und Hypothesen über die Vampyren, (Zauberbibliothek, III) defines a Vampire as “a dead body which continues to live in the grave; which it leaves, however, by night, for the purpose of sucking the blood of the living, whereby it is nourished and preserved in good condition, instead of becoming decomposed like other dead bodies.”
A demon has no body, although for purposes of his own he may energize, assume, or seem to assume a body, but it is not his real and proper body. So the vampire is not strictly a demon, although his foul lust and horrid propensities be truly demoniacal and of hell.
Neither may the vampire be called a ghost or phantom, strictly speaking, for an apparition is intangible, as the Latin poet tells us:
Par leuibus uentis uolucrique simillima somno.
And upon that first Easter night when Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples and they were troubled and frightened, supposing they had seen a spirit, He said: “Uidete manus meas, et pedes, quia ego ipse sum: palpate, et uidete: quia spiritus carnem, et ossa non habet, sicut ne uidetis habere.” (See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bone, as you see me to have.)
There are, it is true, upon record some few instances when persons have been able to grasp, or have been grasped by and felt the touch of, a ghost, but these phenomena must be admitted as exceptions altogether, if indeed, they are not to be explained in some other way, as for example, owing to the information of a body by some spirit or familiar under very rare and abnormal conditions.
In the case of the very extraordinary and horrible hauntings of the old Darlington and Stockton Station, Mr. James Durham, the night-watchman, when one winter evening in the porter’s cellar was surprised by the entry of a stranger followed by a large black retriever. This visitor without uttering a word dealt him a blow and he had the impression of a violent concussion. Naturally he struck back with his fist which seemed however to pass through the figure and his knuckles were grazed against the wall beyond. None the less the man uttered an unearthly squeak at which the dog gripped Mr. Durham in the calf of the leg causing considerable pain. In a moment the stranger had called off the retriever by a curious click of the tongue, and both man and animal hurried into the coal-house whence there was no outlet. A moment later upon examination neither was to be seen. It was afterwards discovered that many years before an official who was invariably accompanied by a large black dog had committed suicide upon the premises, if not in the very cellar, where at least his dead body had been laid. The full account with the formal attestation dated 9th December, 1890, may be read in W. T. Stead’s Real Ghost Stories, reprint, Grant Richards, 1897, Chapter XI, pp. 210-214.
Major C. G. MacGregor of Donaghadee, County Down, Ireland, gives an account of a house in the north of Scotland which was haunted by an old lady, who resided there for very many years and died shortly after the beginning of the nineteenth century. Several persons who slept in the room were sensibly pushed and even smartly slapped upon the face. He himself on feeling a blow upon the left shoulder in the middle of the night turned quickly and reaching out grasped a human hand, warm, soft, and plump. Holding it tight he felt the wrist and arm which appeared clothed in a sleeve and lace cuff. At the elbow all trace ceased, and in his astonishment he released the hand. When a light was struck nobody could be seen in the room.
In a case which occurred at a cottage in Girvan, South Ayrshire, a young woman lost her brother, a fisher, owing to the swamping of his boat in a storm, When the body was recovered it was found that the right hand was missing. This occasioned the poor girl extraordinary sorrow, but some few nights later when she was undressing, preparatory to bed, she suddenly uttered a piercing shriek which immediately brought the other inmates of the house to her room. She declared that she had felt a violent blow dealt with an open hand upon her shoulder. The place was examined, and distinctly marked in livid bruises there was seen the impression of a man’s right hand.
Andrew Lang in his Dreams and Ghosts (new edition, 1897), relates the story of “The Ghost that Bit,” which might seem to have been a vampire, but which actually cannot be so classed since vampires have a body and their craving for blood is to obtain sustenance for their body. The narrative is originally to be found in Notes and Queries, 3rd September 1864, and the correspondent asserts that he took it “almost verbatim from the lips of the lady” concerned, a person of tried veracity. Emma S—— was asleep one morning in her room at a large house near Cannock Chase. It was a fine August day in 1840, but although she had bidden her maid call her at an early hour she was surprised to hear a sharp knocking upon her door about 3.30. In spite of her answer the taps continued, and suddenly the curtains of her bed were slightly drawn, when to her amaze she saw the face of an aunt by marriage looking through upon her. Half unconsciously she threw out her hand, and immediately one of her thumbs was sensibly premed by the teeth of the apparition. Forthwith she arose, dressed, and went downstairs, where not a creature was stirring. Her father upon coming down rallied her a little upon being about at cockcrow and inquired the cause. When she informed him he determined that later in the day he would pay a visit to his sister-in-law who dwelt at no great distance. This he did, only to discover that she had unexpectedly died at about 3.30 that morning. She had not been in any way ailing, and the shook was fearfully sudden. On one of the thumbs of the corpse was found a mark as if it had been bitten in the last agony.
The disturbances at the Lamb hostelry, Lawford’s Gate, Bristol, which aroused something more than local interest in the years 1761-62, were not improbably due to witchcraft and caused by the persecutions of a woman who trafficked in occultism of the lowest order, although on the other hand they may have been poltergeist manifestations. The two little girls, Molly and Debby Giles, who were the subjects of these phenomena, were often severely bitten and pinched. The impressions of eighteen or twenty teeth were seen upon their arms, the marks being clammy with saliva and warm spittle, “and the children were roaring out for the pain of the pinches and bites.” On one occasion whilst an observer was talking to Dobby Giles she cried out that she was bitten in the neck when there suddenly appeared “the mark of teeth, about eighteen, and wet with spittle.” That the child should have nipped herself was wholly impossible, and nobody was near her save Mr. Henry Durbin who recorded these events, and whose account was first printed in 1800, the year after his death, since he did not wish his notes to be given to the public during his lifetime. On 2nd January, 1762, Mr. Durbin notes: “Dobby cried the hand was about her sister’s throat, and I saw the flesh at the side of her throat pushed in, whitish as if done with fingers, though I saw none. Her face grew red and blackish presently, as if she was strangled, but without any convulsion or contraction of the muscles.” Thursday, 7th January, 1762, we have: “Dobby was bitten most and with deeper impressions than Molly. The impression of the teeth on their arms formed an oval, which measured two inches in length.” All this certainly looks as if sorcery were at work. It may be remembered that in Salem during the epidemic of witchcraft the afflicted persons were tormented “by Biting, Pinching, Strangling, etc.” When Goodwife Corey was on trial, “it was observed several times, that if she did but bite her under lip in time of examination, the Persons afflicted were bitten on their arms and Wrists, and produced the Marks before the Magistrates, Minister, and others.”
In The Proceedings of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, Vol. I., 1927, will be found an account of the phenomena connected with Eleonore Zügun, a young Rumanian peasant girl, who in the autumn of 1926, when only thirteen years old was brought to London by the Countess Wassilko-Serecki, in order that the manifestations might be investigated at “The National Laboratory of Psychical Research,” Queensberry Place, South Kensington. The child was said to be persecuted by some invisible force or agent, which she knew as Dracu, Anglice the Devil. There were many extraordinary happenings and she was continually being scratched and bitten by this unseen intelligence. It must suffice to give but two or three instances of the very many “biting phenomena.” On the afternoon of Monday, 4th October, 1926, Captain Neil Gow an investigator in his report, notes: “3.20. Eleonore cried out. Showed marks on back of left hand like teeth-marks which afterwards developed into deep weals. . . . 4.12. Eleonore was just raising a cup of tea to her lips, but suddently gave a cry and put the cup down hastily: there was a mark on her right hand similar to that caused by a bite. Both rows of teeth were indicated.” Of the same incident, Mr. Clapham Palmer, an investigator who was also present writes: “Eleonore was in the act of raising the cup to her lips when she suddenly gave a little cry of pain, put down her cup and rolled up her sleeve. On her forearm I then saw what appeared to be the marks of teeth indented deeply in the flesh, as if she or someone had fiercely bitten her arm. The marks turned from red to white and finally took the form of white raised weals. They gradually faded but were still noticeable after an hour or so.” Such bitings not infrequent occurred, and photographs have been taken of the marks.
It were an interesting question to discuss the cause of these indentations and no doubt it is sufficiently remarkable, but however that may be such inquiry were impertinent here, for it is clearly not vampirism, nor indeed cognate thereto. The object of the Vampire is to suck blood, and in these cases if blood was ever drawn it was more in the nature of a scratch or slight dental puncture, there was no effusion. Again the agent who inflicted these bites was not sufficiently material to be visible, at any rate he was able to remain unseen. The true vampire is corporeal.
The vampire has a body, and it is his own body. He is neither dead nor alive; but living in death. He is an abnormality; the androgyne in the phantom world; a pariah among the fiends.
Even the Pagan poet taught his hearers and his readers that death was a sweet guerdon of repose, a blessed oblivion after the toil and struggle of life. There are few things more beautiful and there are few things more sad than the songs of our modern Pagans who console their aching hearts with the wistful vision of eternal sleep. Although perhaps they themselves know it not, their delicate but despairing melancholy is an heritage from the weary yet tuneful singers of the last days of Hellas, souls for whom there was no dawn of hope in the sky. But we have a certain knowledge and a fairer surety for “now Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep.” Yet Gray, half Greek, seems to promise to his rustics and his hinds as their richest reward after life of swink and toil dear forgetfulness and eternal sleep. Swinburne was glad:
That no life lives for ever
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
. . . . .
Only the eternal sleep
In an eternal night.
Emily Brontë lusted for mere oblivion:
Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
And never care how rain may steep,
Or snow may cover me!
Flecker in utter despair wails out:
I know dead men are deaf, and cannot hear
The singing of a thousand nightingales . . .
I know dead men are blind and cannot see
The friend that shuts in horror their big eyes,
And they are witless–
Even more beautifully than the poets have sung, a weaver of exquisite prose has written: “Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time.” Poor sorry souls! How arid, how empty are such aspirations when we think of the ardent glowing phrase of the Little Flower: “Je veux passer mon ciel à faire du bien sur la terre!” And “Even in the bosom of the Beatific Vision the Angels watch over us. No, I shall never be able to take any rest until the end of the world. But when the Angel shall have said ‘Time is no more,’ then I shall rest, then I shall be able to rejoice, since the number of the elect will be complete.”
So we see that even for those who take the most pagan, the most despairing, the most erroneous views, the ideal is oblivion and rest. How fearful a destiny then is that of the vampire who has no rest in the grave, but whose doom it is to come forth and prey upon the living. In the first place it may briefly be inquired how the belief in vampirism originated, and here it is not impertinent to remark that the careful investigations in connexion with psychic phenomena which have been so fruitful of recent years, and even modern scientific discovery, have proved the essential truth of many an ancient record and old superstition, which were until yesterday dismissed by the level-headed as the wildest sensationalism of melodramatic romance. The origins of a belief in vampirism, although, of course, very shadowy, unformed and unrelated, may probably be said to go back to the earliest times when primitive man observed the mysterious relations between soul and body. The division of an individual into these two parts must have been suggested to man by his observation, however crude and rough, of the phenomenon of unconsciousness, as exhibited in sleep and more particularly in death. He cannot but have speculated concerning that something, the loss of which withdraws man for ever from the living and waking world. He was bound to ask himself if there was any continuance in any circumstances at present veiled from, and unknown to, him of that life and that personality which had obviously passed elsewhere. The question was an eternal one, and it was, moreover, a personal one which concerned him most intimately, since it related to an experience he could not expect to escape. It was clear to him before long that the process called death was merely a passage to another world, and naturally enough he pictured that world as being very like the one he knew, only man would there enjoy extended powers over the forces with which he waged such ceaseless war for the mastery during his period on earth. It might be that the world was not so very far away, and it was not to be supposed that persons who had passed over would lose their interest in and affection for those who for a little while had been left behind. Relations must not be forgotten just because they did not happen to be visibly present, any more than to-day we forget one of the family who has gone on a voyage for a week or a month or a year. Naturally those whose age and position during their lifetime had entitled them to deference and respect must be treated with the same consideration, nay, with even more ample honours since their authority had become mysteriously greater and they would be more active to punish any disrespect or neglect. Hence as a family venerated the father of the house both in life and after death, which was the germ of ancestral worship, so the tribe would venerate the great men, the chieftains and the heroes, whose exploits had won so much not only for their own particular houses, but for the whole clan. The Shilluk, a tribe who dwell upon the western bank of the White Nile, and who are governed by a single king, still maintain the worship of Nyakang, the hero who founded the dynasty and settled this people in their present territory. Nyakang is conceived as having been a man, although he did not actually die but vanished from sight. Yet he is not altogether divine, for the great god of the Shilluk, the creator of mankind and the world, Juok, is without form, invisible and omnipresent. He is far greater than and far above Nyakang, and he reigns in those highest heavens where neither the prayers of man can reach his ears, nor can he smell the sweet savour of sacrifice.
Not only Nyakang, but each of the Shilluk kings after death is worshipped, and the grave of the monarch becomes a sanctuary, so that throughout the villages there are many shrines tended by certain old men and old women, where a ritual which is practically identical in each separate place is elaborately conducted. Indeed, the principal element in the religion of the Shilluk may be said to be the veneration of their dead kings.
Other African tribes also worship their dead kings. The Baganda, whose country Uganda lies at the actual source of the Nile, think of their dead kings as being equal to the gods, and the temples of the deceased monarchs are built and maintained with the utmost care. Formerly when a king died hundreds of men were killed so that their spirits might attend upon the spirit of their master, and what is very significant as showing that these people believe the king and his ghostly followers could return in forms sufficiently corporeal to perform the very material function of eating is that on certain solemn days at earliest dawn the sacred tomtom is beaten at the temple gates and crowds of worshippers bring baskets of food for the dead king and his followers lest being hungry he should become angered and punish the whole tribe.
In Kiziba, which lies on the western side of the Lake Victoria Nyanza, the religion of the natives consists of the worship of their dead kings, although there is a supreme god Rugada, who created the world, man and beasts, but even their hierarchs know little about him and he receives no sacrifice, the business of the priests being to act as intermediaries between the people and the dead monarchs.
So the Bantu. tribes of Northern Rhodesia acknowledge a supreme deity, Leza, whose power is manifested in the storm, in the torrential rain clouds, in the roar of thunder and the flash of lightning, but to whom there is no direct access by prayer or by sacrifice. The gods, then, whom these tribes worship are sharply divided into two classes, the spirits of departed chiefs, who are publicly venerated by the whole tribe, and the spirits of relations who are privately honoured by a family, whose head performs the sacerdotal functions upon these occasions. “Among the Awemba there is no special shrine for these purely family spirits, who are worshipped inside the hut, and to whom family sacrifices of a sheep, a goat, or a fowl is made, the spirit receiving the blood spilt upon the ground, while all the members of the family partake of the flesh together. For a religious Wemba man the cult of the spirit of his nearest relations (of his grandparents, or of his deceased father, mother, elder brother or maternal uncle) is considered quite sufficient. Out of these spirit relatives a man will worship one whom he considers as a special familiar, for various reasons. For instance, the diviner may have told him that his last illness was caused because he had not respected the spirit of his uncle; accordingly he will be careful in the future to adopt his uncle as his tutelary spirit. As a mark of such respect he may devote a cow or a goat to one of the spirits of his ancestors.” This custom is very significant, and two points should be especially noted. The first is that the deceased, or the spirit of the deceased, is not merely propitiated by, but partakes of, blood, which is spilt for his benefit. Secondly, the deceased, if not duly honoured, can cause illness, and therefore is capable of exercising a certain vengeful or malevolent power. The essential conception that underlies these customs is not so very far removed from the tradition of a vampire who craves to suck blood and causes sickness through his malignancy.
Very similar ideas prevail among the Herero, a Bantu tribe of German South-West Africa, who believe that Ndjambi Karunga, the great good god who dwells in heaven above is far too remote to be accessible, wherefore he neither receives nor requires worship and offerings. “It is their ancestors (Ovakuru) whom they must fear; it is they who are angry and can bring danger and misfortune on a man . . . it is in order to win and keep their favour, to avert their displeasure and wrath, in short to propitiate them, that the Herero bring their many offerings; they do so not out of gratitude, but out of fear, not out of love, but out of terror.” The Rev. G. Viehe, a missionary among the tribe writes: “The religious customs and ceremonies of the Ovaherero are all rooted in the presumption that the deceased continue to live, and that they have a great influence on earth, and exercise power over the life and death of man.”
The religion of the Ovambo, another Bantu tribe of German South-West Africa, runs on practically the same lines. The supreme being, Kalunga, the creator, desires neither adoration nor fear. The whole religion is the worship, or rather the propitiation, of the spirits of the dead. Every man at death leaves behind him a phantom form which continues a certain kind of life (not very clearly defined) upon earth, and this spirit has power over the living. Especially may it cause various kinds of sickness. The spirits of private persons can only exert their influence over the members of their own families; the souls of chiefs and great warriors have a much wider scope, they can influence the whole clan for weal or woe; they can even to some extent control the powers of nature and ensure a bountiful corn-crop by their careful provision of rain, since under their kindly direction there shall be neither too little nor too great an abundance. Moreover, they can ward off disease, but if on the other hand they be offended they can visit the tribe with pestilence and famine. It may be particularly noted that among the Ovambo the phantoms of dead magicians are dreaded and feared in no ordinary manner. The only way to prevent the increase of these dangerous spirit folk is by depriving the body of its limbs, a precaution which must be taken immediately after death. So it is customary to sever the arms and legs from the trunk and to cut the tongue out of the mouth, in order that the spirit may have no power either of movement or of speech, since the mutilation of the corpse has rendered a ghost, who would assuredly be both powerful and truculent, inoperative and incapable. It will later be seen that the mutilation, the cutting off of the head, and especially the driving of a stake through the body with other dismemberments, were resorted to as the most effective means, short of complete cremation, of dealing with a vampire, whilst according to Theosophists only those become vampires who have during their lifetime been adepts in black magic, and Miss Jessie Adelaide Middleton says that the people who become vampires are witches, wizards and suicides.
Canon Callaway has recorded some very interesting details of Amatongo or Ancestor Worship among the Zulus. A native account runs as follows: “The black people do not worship all Amatongo indifferently, that is, all the dead of their tribes. Speaking generally, the head of each house is worshipped by the children of that house; for they do not know the ancients who are dead, nor their laud-giving names, nor their names. But their father whom they knew is the head by whom they begin and end in their prayer, for they know him best, and his love for his children; they remember his kindness to them whilst he was living, they compare his treatment of them whilst he was living, support themselves by it and say, ‘He will still treat us in the same way now he is dead. We do not know why he should regard others besides us; he will regard us only.’ So it is then although they worship the many Amatongo of their tribe, making a great fence around them for their protection; yet their father is far before all others when they worship the Amatongo. Their father is a great treasure to them even when he is dead.” It would appear that among the Zulus the spirits of those who are recently deceased, especially the fathers and mothers of families, are most generally venerated and revered. As is natural, the spirits of the remoter dead are forgotten, for time passes and their memory perishes when those who knew them and sang their praises follow them into the world beyond. As we have remarked, in nearly every case we find recognized the existence of a supreme being, who is certainly a high spiritual power that had never been a man, and the homage paid to whom (in those very rare instances where such worship is conceived of as desirable or even possible) differs entirely from the cult of the dead, be they family ancestors or some line of ancient kings. There are, of course, many other gods in the African pantheon, and although the natives will not allow that these were ever men, and indeed sharply differentiate in ritual practice their worship from the cult of the spirits and phantoms, yet in nearly all cases it is to be suspected, and in many cases it is certain, that these gods were heroes of old whose legend instead of becoming faint with years and dying away grew more and more splendid until the monarch or the warrior passed into pure deity. A similar process holds forth in heathen religions the wide world over. and with regard to the Baganda polytheism the Rev. J. Roscoe remarks “The principal gods appear to have been at one time human beings, noted for their skill and bravery, who were afterwards deified by the people and invested with supernatural powers.”
It is said that the Caffres believe that men of evil life after death may return during the night in coporeal form and attack the living, often wounding and killing them. It seems that these revenants are much attracted by blood which enables them more easily to effect their purpose, and even a few red drops will help to vitalize their bodies. So a Caffre has the greatest horror of blood, and will never allow even a spot fallen from a bleeding nose or a cut to lie uncovered, but should it stain the ground it must be instantly hidden with earth, and if it splotch upon their bodies they must purify themselves from the pollution with elaborate lustral ceremonies. Throughout the whole of West Africa indeed the natives are careful to stamp out any blood of theirs which happens to have fallen to the ground, and if a cloth or a piece of wood should be marked thereby these articles are most carefully burned. They openly admit that the reason for this is lest a drop of blood might come into the hands of a magician who would make evil use of it, or else it might be caught up by a bad spirit and would then enable him to form a tangible body. The same fear of sorcery prevails in New Guinea, where the natives if they have been wounded will most carefully collect the bandages and destroy them by burning or casting them far into the sea, a circumstance which has not infrequently been recorded by missionaries and travellers.
There are, indeed, few if any peoples who have not realized the mysterious significance attached to blood, and examples of this belief are to be found in the history of every clime. It is expressed by the Chinese writers on medicine; it was held by the Arabs, and it is prominent among the traditions of the Romans. Even with regard to animals the soul or life of the animal was in the blood, or rather actually was the blood. So we have the divine command, Leviticus xvii. 10-14: “Homo quilibet de domo Israel, et de aduenis qui peregrinantur inter eos, si comederit sanguinem, obfirmabo faciem meam contra animam illius, et dispertam eam de populo suo. Quia anima carnis in sanguine est: et ego dedi illum uobis, ut super altare in eo expietis pro animabus uestris, et sanguis pro animae piaculo sit. Idcirco dixi filiis Israel: Omnis anima ex uobis non comedet sanguinem, nec ex aduenis, qui peregrinantur apud uos. Homo quicumque ex filiis Israel, et de aduenis, qui peregrinantur apud uos, si uenatione atque aucupio ceperit feram uel auem, quibus esci licitum est, fundat sanguinem eius, et operiat illum terra. Anima enim omnis carnis in sanguine est: unde dixi filiis Israel: Sanguinem uniuersae carnis non comedetis, quia anima carnis in sanguine est: et quicumque comederit illum, interibit.” (If any man whosoever of the house of Israel, and of the strangers that sojourn among them, eat blood I will set my face against his soul, and will cut him off from among his people: Because the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you, that you may make atonement with it upon the altar for your souls, and the blood may be for an expiation for the soul. Therefore I have said to the children of Israel: No soul of you, nor of the strangers that sojourn among you, shall eat blood. Any man whatsoever of the children of Israel, and of the strangers that sojourn among you, if by hunting or by fowling, he take a wild beast or a bird, which is lawful to eat, let him pour out its blood, and cover it with earth. For the life of all flesh is in the blood: therefore I said to the children of Israel: You shall not eat the blood of any flesh at all, because the life of the flesh is in the blood, and whosoever eateth it, shall be cut off.) The Hebrew word which is translated “life” in this passage and particularly in the phrase “Because the life of the flesh is in the blood,” also signifies “Soul,” and the Revised Version has a marginal note: “Heb. soul.” Since then the very essence of life, and even more, the spirit or the soul in some mysterious way lies in the blood we have a complete explanation why the vampire should seek to vitalize and rejuvenate his own dead body by draining the blood from the veins of his victims.
It will be remembered that in a famous necromantic passage in the Odyssey, when Ulysses calls up the ghosts from the underworld, in order that they may recover the power of speech, he has to dig deep a trench and therein pour the blood of sacrifice, black rams, and it is only after they have quaffed their fill of this precious liquor that the phantoms may converse with him and enjoy something of their human powers and mortal faculties.
Among the many references to funereal customs and the rites of mourning in Holy Writ there is one which has a very distinct bearing upon this belief that blood might benefit the deceased. The prophet Jeremias in fortelling the utter ruin of the Jews and the complete desolation of their land says: “Et morientur grandes, et parui in terra ista: non sepelientur neque plangentur, et non se incident, neque caluitium fiet pro eis.” (Both the great and little shall die in this land; they shall not be buried nor lamented, and men shall not cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them.) And again the same prophet tells us that after the Jews had been carried away in captivity of Babylon: “Uenerunt uiri de Sichem et de Silo, et de Samaria octoginta uiri: rasi barba, et scissis uestibus et squallentes: et munera, et thus habebant in manu, ut offerrent in domo Domini.” The word “squallentes” which the Douai Version renders “mourning” is translated by the Authorised Version as “having cut themselves” and the same rendering is given in the Revised Version. These customs of shaving part of the head and the beard which is referred to in the words “nor make themselves bald for them” and more particularly the practice of cutting or wounding the body in token of mourning were strictly forbidden as savouring of heathenish abuse. Thus in Leviticus xix. 28, we read: “Et super mortuo non incidetis carnem uestrum, neque figuras aliquas, aut stigmata facietis uobis. Ego Dominus.” (You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh, for the dead, neither shall you make in yourselves any figures or marks: I am the Lord.) And again (xxi. 5) the same command with regard to mourning is enforced: “Non radent caput, nec barbam, neque in carnibus suis facient incisuras.” (Neither shall they shave their head, nor their beard, nor make incisions in their flesh.) S. Jerome, however, tells us that the custom persisted. For he says in his Commentary on Jeremias, xvi. 6, which may be dated 415-420: “Mos hic fuit apud ueteres, et usque hodie in quibusdam permanet Iudaeorum, ut in luctibus incidant lacertos, et caluitium faciant, quod Iob fecisse legimus.” And yet these observances had been, as we saw, most sternly forbidden, nay, and that most emphatically and more than once. Thus in Deuteronomy they are sternly reprobated as smacking of the grossest superstition: “Non comedetis cum sanguine. Non augurabimini, nec obseruabitis somnia. Neque in rotundum attondebitis comam: nec radetis barbam. Et super mortuo non incidetis carnem uestram, neque figuras aliquas, aut stigmata facietis uobis. Ego Dominus.” (You shall not eat with blood. You shall not divine nor observe dreams. Nor shall you cut your hair round-wise: nor shave your beard. You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh, for the dead, neither shall you make in yourselves any figures or marks: I am the Lord.) “Filii estote Domini Dei uestri: non uos incidetis, nec facietis, caluitium super mortuo. Quoniam populus sanctus es Domino Deo tuo: et te elegit ut sis ei in populum peculiarem de cunctis gentibus, quae sunt super terram.” (Be ye children of the Lord your God: you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness for the dead; because thou art a holy people to the Lord thy God: and he chose thee to be his peculiar people of all nations that are upon the earth.)
Presumably these two customs were thus sternly prohibited as largely borrowed by the Jews from the Pagan people around them, who might indeed as having no hope make such extravagant and even indecent exhibition of their mourning for the departed, but which practices would at the least be highly unbecoming in the chosen people of Jehovah. Assuredly, even if they go no deeper, these observances are tainted with such savagery and seem so degrading that it is not surprising to find ordinances among other peoples, for instance the code of Solon at Athens, forbidding mourners to wound and scratch their faces and persons. The laws of the Ten Tables also which were largely based on this earlier legislation do not permit women to tear and disfigure their faces during the funeral rites. These two customs, shaving the head and lacerating the face, are found the whole world over at all times and among all races. The former hardly concerns us here, but it is interesting to inquire into the idea which lay at the root of this “cuttings in the flesh for the dead.” This practice existed in antiquity among the Assyrians, the Arabs, the Scythians and such peoples as the Moabites, the Philistines, and the Phoenicians. Jordanes tells us that Attila was lamented, “not with womanly wailing, empty coronach and tears, but with the blood of warriors and strong men.” Among many African tribes, among the Polynesians of Tahiti, the Sandwich Islands and the whole Pacific Archipelago; among the Aborigines of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania; among the Patagonians; among the Indians of California and North America; as. among very many other races, mourning for the dead is always accompanied by the laceration of the body until blood freely flows, and it is even not unknown for relatives of the deceased to inflict terrible mutilations upon themselves, and he who is most pitiless and most barbarous is esteemed to show the greater honour and respect to the departed. The important point lies in the fact, that blood must be shed, and this appears to constitute some covenant with the dead, so that by freely bestowing what he requires they prevent him from returning to deprive them of it forcibly and in the most terrifying circumstances. If they are not willing to feed him with their blood he will come back and take it from them, so naturally it is believed to be far better to give without demur and gain the protection of the ghost, rather than to refuse what the phantom will inevitably seize upon in vengeance and in wrath.
Many Australian tribes considered blood to be the best remedy for a sick and weakly person, and there is, of course, no small modicum of truth in the idea when we consider the scientific transfusion of blood as is practised in certain cases by doctors at the present time, a remedy of which there are many examples in the middle ages and in later medicine. Bonney, the Australian traveller, tells us that among certain tribes on the Darling River in New South Wales, “a very sick or weak person is fed upon blood which the male friends provide, taken from their bodies in the way already described” that is to say by opening a vein of the forearm and allowing the blood to run into a wooden bowl or some similar vessel. “It is generally taken in a raw state by the invalid, who lifts it to his mouth like jelly between his fingers and thumb.” It must be remembered that the Aborigines firmly believe in the existence of the soul after death, and since blood during the life proves the most helpful and sustaining nourishment it will communicate the same vitalizing qualities if bestowed upon one who has passed beyond, for they do not entertain the idea that death is any great severance and separation.
This certainly gives us a clue to the belief underlying the practice of scratching the body and shedding blood upon the occasion of a death, and there can be no doubt that, although possibly the meaning was obscured and these lacerations came to evince nothing more than a proof of sorrow at the bereavment, yet fundamentally the blood was offered by mourners for the refreshment of the departed to supply him with strength and vigour under his new conditions. These practices, then, involved a propitiation of the dead; further, a certain intimate communication with the dead, and assuredly bear a necromantic character, and have more than a touch of vampirism, the essence of which consists in the belief that the dead man is able to sustain a semi-life by preying upon the vitality, that is to say, by drinking the blood of the living. Accordingly we are fully able to understand why these customs, heathenish and worse, were so uncompromisingly denounced and forbidden in the Mosaic legislation. It was no mere prohibition of indecorous lamentations tinged with Paganism, but it went something deeper, for such observances are not free from the horrid superstition of black magic and the feeding of the vampire till he suck his full of hot salt blood and be gorged and replete like some demon leech.
The word Vampire (also vampyre) is from the Magyar vampir, a word of Slavonic origin occuring in the same form in Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbian, and Bulgarian with such variants as Bulgarian, vapir, vepir; Ruthenian vepyr, vopyr, opyr; Russian upir, upyr; South Russian upuir; Polish upier. Miklosich suggests the Turkish uber, witch, as a possible source. Another derivation, which is less probable is from the root Pi–to drink, with the prefix va, or av. From the root Pi–come the Greek πίνω I drink, some tenses of which are formed from the root Po–, such as a perfect πέπωκα; a future passive ποθήσομαι; to which must be added the perfect infinitive πεπόσθαι which occurs in Theognis. Hence we have the Aeolic πώνω, and also probably ποταμός, properly perhaps of fresh, drinkable water πότιμον ὕδωρ.
The Sanskrit is pâ, pî, pi-bâmi (bibo); pâ-nam (potus) pâ-tra (poculum); Latin po-tus, po-to, po-culum, etc., with which are connected bibo and its many forms and compounds (root–bi-); Slavonic, pi-tî (bibere); Lithuanian, po-ta (ebriositas), and a vast number of other variants.
Ralston must certainly be quoted in this connexion, although it should be borne in mind that he is a little out of date in some details. The Songs of the Russian People from which (p. 410) I cite the following passage was published early in 1872. Of Vampires he writes: “The name itself has never been satisfactorily explained. In its form of vampir[South Russian upuir, anciently upir], it has been compared with the Lithuanian wempti = to drink, and wempti, wampiti = to growl, to mutter, and it has been derived from a root pi [to drink] with the prefix u = av, va. If this derivation is correct, the characteristic of the vampire is a kind of blood-drunkenness. In accordance with this idea the Croatians called the vampire pijauica; the Servians say of a man whose face is coloured by constant drinking, that he is ‘blood-red as a vampire’; and both the Servians and the Slovaks term a hard drinker a Vlkodlak. The Slovenes and Kashubes call the vampire vieszey, a name akin to that borne by the witch in our own language as well as in Russian. The Poles name him upior or upir, the latter being his designation among the Czekhs also.” The Istrian vampire is strigon, and among the Wallachians there is a vampire called murony. In Greece there are some local names for the vampire, (Cyprus), σαρκωμένος, “the one who has put on flesh”; (Tenos), ἀναικαθούμενος, “he who sits up in his grave” in Cythnos, ἄλυτος “incorrupt”; in Cythera, ἀνάρραχο, λάμπασμα, and λάμπαστρο, three words of which I can suggest no satisfactory explanation and which ever so great an authority on Greece as Mr. J. C. Lawson finds unintelligible. Newton, Travels and Discoveries in the Levant (I, p. 212) and more particularly Pashley, Travels in Crete (II, p. 207), mention a term used in Rhodes and generally in Crete, καταχανος, the derivation of which is uncertain. Pashley thinks it may have meant a “destroyer,” but Mr. Lawson connects it with Kara and the root χαν-, I gape or yawn, in allusion to the gaping mouth of the vampire, os hians, dentes candidi, says Leone Allacci.
St. Clair and Brophy in their Twelve Years’ Study of the Eastern Question in Bulgaria, 1877, have a note (p. 29, n. 1): “The pure Bulgarians call this being [the Vampire] by the genuine Slavonic name of Upior, the Gagaous (or Bulgarians of mixed race) by that of Obour, which is Turkish; in Dalmatia it is known as Wrikodlaki, which appears to be merely a corruption of the Romaic βρυκόλαξ.”
The word vampir, vampyr, is apparently unknown in Greece proper and the general modem term is βρυκόλακας, which may be transliterated as vrykolakas (plural vrykolakes). Tozer gives the Turkish name as vurkolak, and Hahn records that amongst some of the Albanians βουρβολάκ-ου is used of the restless dead. It is true that in parts of Macedonia where the Greek population is in constant touch with Slavonic neighbours, especially in Melenik in the North-East, a form βάμπυρασ or βόμπυρασ has been adopted,” and is there used as a synonym of vrykolakas in its ordinary Greek sense, but strangely enough with this one exception throughout the whole of Greece and the Greek islands the form “Vampire” does not appear. Coraes denies the Slavonic origin of the word vrykolakas, and he seeks to connect a local variant βορβόλακασ with a hypothetical ancient word μορμόλυξ alleged to be the equivalent of μορμολύκη which is used by the geographer Strabo, and μορμολυκεία used by Arrianus of Nicomedia in his Διατριβαὶ Ἐπικτήτου and the more usual μορμολυκεῖον found in Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazuasae (417):
εῖ᾽τα δια τοῦτον ταῖσ γυναικωνίτισιν
σφραγῖδας ὲπιβάλλουσιν ἤδη καὶ μοχλούς,
τηρο̃ῦντεσ ἡμᾶσ, καὶ προσέτι Μολοττικοὺς
τρέφουσι, μορμολυκε̑ῖα τοῖσ μοιχοῖς, κύνασ·
The word occurs again in Plato, Phaedo: “τοῦτον ὁῦν πειρώμεθα πείθειν μὴ δεδίεναι τὸν θάνατον ὥσπερ τὰ μορμολύκεια”. It is, of course, a derivation and diminutive of Mormo (Μορμώ), a hobgoblin, or worse, a ghoul of hideous appearance. The theory is patriotic and ingenious, but Bernard Schmidt and all other authorities agree that it is entirely erroneous and the modern Greek word vrykolakas must undoubtedly be identified with a word which is common to the whole Slavonic group of languages. This word Slovenian volkodlak, vukodlak, vulkodlak, is a compound form of which the first half means “wolf,” whilst the second half has been identified, although the actual relation is not quite demonstrable, with blaka, which in Old Slavonic, New Slavonic, and Serbian signifies the “hair” of a cow or a horse or a horse’s mane. Yet whatsoever the analytical signification of the compound may precisely be, the synthesis in the actual employment of all Slavonic tongues, save one, is the equivalent of the English “werewolf”; Scotch “warwulf”; German “Werwolf” and French “loup-garou.” The one language in which this word does not bear this interpretation is the Serbian, for here it signifies “a vampire.” But it should be remarked in this connexion that the Slavonic peoples, and especially the Serbians believe that a man who has been a werewolf in his life will become a vampire after death, and so the two are very closely related. It was even thought in some districts, especially Elis that those who had eaten the flesh of a sheep killed by a wolf might become vampires after death. However, it must be remembered that although the superstitions of the werewolf and the vampire in many respects agree, and in more than one point are indeed precisely similar, there is, especially in Slavonic tradition, a very great distinction, for the Slavonic vampire is precisely defined and it is the incorrupt and re-animated dead body which returns from its grave, otherwise it cannot be said strictly to be a vampire. As we shall have occasion to observe it were, perhaps, no exaggeration to say that the conception of the vampire proper is peculiar to Slavonic peoples, and especially found in the Balkan countries, in Greece, in Russia, in Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. There are, of course, many variants, both Western and Oriental; and other countries have tales of vampires which exactly fit the Slavonic norm, but outside the districts we have specified the appearances of the vampire are rare, whilst in his own domain even now he holds horrid sway, and people fear not so much the ghost as the return of the dead body floridly turgescent and foully swollen with blood, endued with some abominable and devilish life.
In Danish and Swedish we have vampyr; the Dutch is vampir; the French le vampire; Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, vampiro; modem Latin, vampyrus. The Oxford English Dictionary thus defines vampire: “A preternatural being of a malignant nature (in the original unusual form of the belief an animated Corpse), supposed to seek nourishment and do harm by sucking the blood of sleeping persons; a man or woman abnormally endowed with similar habits.” The first example which has been traced of the use of the word in literature seems to be that which occurs in The Travels of Three English Gentlemen, written about 1734, which was printed in Vol. IV. of the Harleian Miscellany, 1745, where the following passage occurs: “We must not omit Observing here, that our Landlord [at Laubach] seems to pay some regard to what Baron Valvasor has related of the Vampyres, said to infest some Parts of this Country. These Vampyres are supposed to be the Bodies of deceased Persons, animated by evil Spirits, which come out of the Graves, in the Night-time, suck the Blood of many of the Living, and thereby destroy them.” The word and the idea soon became quite familiar, and in his Citizen of the World (1760-2) Oliver Goldsmith writes in every-day phrase: “From a meal he advances to a surfeit, and at last sucks blood like a vampire.”
Johnson, edited by Latham, 1870, has: “Vampire. Pretended demon, said to delight in sucking human blood, and to animate the bodies of dead persons, which, when dug up, are said to be found florid and full of blood.” A quotation is given from Forman’s Observations on the Revolution in 1688, 1741, which shows that so early the word had acquired its metaphorical sense: “These are the vampires of the publick and riflers of the kingdom.” David Mallet in his Zephyr, or the Stratagem, has:
Can Russia, can the Hungarian vampire
With whom call in the hordes and empire,
Can four such powers, who one assail
Deserve our praise should they prevail?
A few travellers and learned authors had written of vampires in the seventeenth century. Thus we have the famous De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus of Leone Allacci, published at Cologne in 1645; there are some detailed accounts in the Relation de ce qui s’est passé a Sant-Erini Isle de l’Archipel by Father François Richard, a Jesuit priest of the island of Santorini (Thera), whose work was published at Paris in 1657; Paul Ricaut, sometime English Consul at Smyrna in his The Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches Anno Christi, 1678, 8vo, London, 1679, mentions the tradition with a very striking example, but he does not actually use the word vampire. In 1679 Philip Rohr published at Leipzig his thesis De Masticatione Mortuorum, which in the eighteenth century was followed by a number of academic treatises, such as the Dissertatio de Hominibus post mortem Sanguisugis, uulgo dictis Vampyren, by John Christopher Rohl and John Hertel, Leipzig, 17 32; the Dissertatio de cadaueribus sanguisugis of John Christian Stock, published at Jena in the same year; the Dissertatio de Uampyris Seruiensibus of John Heinrich Zopfius and Charles Francis van Dalen which appeared in the following year; all of which in some sense paved the way for John Christian Harenberg’s Von Vampyren.
In 1744 was published at Naples “presso i fratelli Raimondi” the famous Dissertazione sopra I Vampiri of Gioseppe Davanzati, Archbishop of Trani. This book had already widely circulated in manuscript–“la sua Dissertazione sopra i Vampiri s’era sparsa per tutta l’Italia benchè manoscritta,” says the anonymous biographer–and a copy had even been presented to the Holy Father, the learned Benedict XIV, who in a letter of 12th January, 1743, graciously thanked the author with generous compliment upon his work. “L’abbiamo subito letta con piacere, e nel medesimo Tempo ammirata si per la dottrina, che per la vasta erudizione, di cui ella è fornita”; wrote the Pope. It will not then be unfitting here to supply some brief notice–of the Dissertazione sopra I Vampiri, which although it ran into a second edition, “Napoli. M.DCC.LXXXIX. Presso Filippo Raimondi,” in England seems almost entirely unknown since strangely enough even the British Museum Library lacks a copy. We would premise that as the good Archbishop’s arguments and conclusions are philosophical it is quite allowable for us, whilst fully recognizing his scholarship and skill in handling his points, not to accept these but rather to maintain the contrary.
Gioseppe Davanzati was born at Bari on 29th August, 1665. After having commenced his studies at the Jesuit College in his native town, he passed at the age of fifteen to the University of Naples. Already had he resolved to seek the priesthood, and after a course of three years, his parents being now dead, he entered the University of Bologna, when he greatly distinguished himself in Science and Mathematics. Some few years were next spent in travelling, during which period he made his headquarters at Paris, “essendo molto innamorato delle maniere, e de’costumi de’ Francesi.” Spain, Portugal, the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland were visited in turn, and we are told that he repeatedly expressed his wish to cross over to England, “nobil sede dell ‘Arti e delle Scienze” but that by some accident his desire was again and again frustrated. Early in the reign of Clement XI, (1700-1721) he was recalled to Italy, and having been raised to the priesthood by the Bishop of Montemartino (Salerno) he was appointed Treasurer of the famous Sanctuary of S. Nicholas at Bari. His genius speedily attracted attention, and before long he was sent by the Pope as Legate Extraordinary to the Emperor Charles VI, to Vienna, a difficult and important mission which he discharged so admirably well that upon his return he was rewarded with the Archbishopric of Trani and other honours. This noble prelate remained high in favour with the successors of Clement XI, Innocent XIII (1721-1724), Benedict XIII (1724-1730), and Clement XII (1730-1740), and when on the death of this latter Pontiff Cardinal Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini was elected and took the title of Benedict XIV an old and intimate friend of his own was sitting in the chair of S. Peter. Although five and seventy years of age, Archbishop Davanzati journeyed to Rome to kiss the feet of the new Pope by whom he was welcomed with the utmost kindness and every mark of distinction. Upon the death of Monsignor Crispi, Archbishop of Ferrara, the Supreme Pontiff on 2nd August, 1746, preconized Gioseppe Davanzati as Patriarch of Alexandria, a dignity vacant by the aforesaid prelate’s decease. Early in February, 1755, Archbishop Davanzati contracted a severe chill which turned to inflammation of the lungs. Upon the night of the sixteenth of that month, having been fortified with the Sacraments of the Church be slept peacefully away, being aged 89 years, 5 months, and 16 days.
The Dissertazione sopra I Vampiri owed its first suggestion to the various discussions which were held at Rome during the years 1738-39 in the apartments of Cardinal Schrattembach, Bishop of Olmütz, and which arose from the official reports of vampirism submitted to him by the chapter of his diocese. The cardinal sought the advice and co-operation of various learned members of the Sacred College and other prelates of high repute for experience and sagacity. Amongst these was Davanzati who frankly confesses that until the Cardinal consulted him and explained the whole business at length he had no idea at all what a vampire might be. Davanzati commences his work by relating various well-known and authenticated cases of vampires, especially those which had recently occurred in Germany during the years 1720-1739. He shows a good knowledge of the literature of the subject, and decides that the phenomena cannot enter into the category of apparitions and ghosts but must be explained in a very different way, He finds that with but few exceptions both ancient and modern philosophers seem ignorant of vampirism, which he justly argues with pertinent references to the Malleus Maleficarum and to Delrio must be diabolical in origin be it an illusion or no. He next considers at some length in several chapters of great interest the extent of the demon’s power. Chapter XIII discusses “Della forza della Fantasia,” and in Chapter XIV be argues “Che le apparizioni de’fantasmi, e dell’ ombre de’ Morti, di cui fanno menzione gli Storici, non siano altro che effetto di fantasia.” Here we take leave to join issue with him, and to-day it will very generally be agreed that his line of argument is at least perilous. Nor can we accept “Che l’apparizione de’ Vampiri non sia altro che paro effetto di Fantasia.” The truth lies something deeper than that as Leone Allacci so well knew. Yet with all its faults and limitations the Dissertazione sopra I Vampiri is deserving of careful consideration for there is much that is well presented, much that is of value, although in the light of fuller investigations and clearer knowledge the author’s conclusion cannot be securely maintained.
Even better known than the volume of Davanzati is the Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges, des Démons et des Esprits, et sur les Revenants et Vampires de Hongrie, de Bohême, de Moravie, et de Silésie, published at Paris, chez Debure l’ainé, 2 vols., 12mo, 1746. The work was frequently reprinted, and translated into English 1759; into German 1752; second edition 1757-8. In its day it exercised a very great influence, and as it is still constantly referred to, it may not be impertinent to give a brief account of the eminent authority, its author.
Dom Augustin Calmet, who is so famous as a biblical exegetist, was born at Ménil-la-Horgne, near Commercy, Lorraine, on 26th February, 1672; and died at the Abbey of Senones, near Saint-Dié, 25th October, 1757. He was educated by the monks of the Benedictine Priory of Breuil, and in 1688 he joined this learned order in the abbey of St. Mansuy at Toul, being professed in the following year, and ordained 17th March, 1696. At the Abbey of Moyen-Moutier, where he taught philosophy and theology, he soon engaged the help of the whole community to gather the material for his vast work on the Bible. The first volume of this huge commentary appeared at Paris in 1707, Commentaire littéral sur tous les livres de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament; and the last of the twenty-three quarto volumes was published only in 1716. Several most important reprints were issued throughout the eighteenth century, including two Latin versions, the one by F. Vecelli which came from houses at Venice and Frankfort, six volumes folio, 1730; the other by Mansi, Lucca, 9 vols., folio, 1730-1738 of which version there are at least two subsequent editions It is impossible that in some small points so encyclopædic a work should not be open to criticism, but its merits are permanent and the erudition truly amazing. Yet this was only one of many learned treatises which Dom Calmet published on Biblical subjects, and so greatly was their value esteemed that his dissertations were rapidly translated into Latin and the principal modern European languages. When we add to these his historical and philosophical writings the output of this great scholar is well-nigh incredible. So remarkable a man could not fail to hold high honours in his own Congregation, and it was only at his earnest prayer that Pope Benedict XIII refrained from compelling him to accept a mitre, since this Pontiff on more than one occasion expressed himself anxious to reward the merits and the learning of the Abbot of Senones.
To-day, perhaps the best known of Dom Calmet’s works in his Traité sur les Apparitions des Esprits, et sur les Vampires, and in his preface he tells us the reasons which induced him to undertake this examination. One point which lie emphasizes must carefully be borne in mind and merits detailed consideration. Vampires, as we have seen, particularly infest Slavonic countries, and it does not appear that this species of apparition was well known in western Europe until towards the end of the seventeenth century. There undoubtedly were cases of vampirism, as will be recorded in their due order, and certain aspects of witchcraft have much in common with the vampire tradition, especially the exercise of that malign power whereby the witch caused her enemies to dwindle, peak and pine, draining them dry as hay. But this is not vampirism proper. The fuller knowledge of these horrors reached western Europe in detail during the eighteenth century, and it at once threw very considerable light upon unrelated cases that had been recorded from time to time, but which appeared isolated and belonging to no particular category. Writing in 1746, Dom Calmet, who had long studied the subject, remarks that certain events, certain movements, certain fanaticisms, certain phenomena, it may be in the physical or in the supernatural order, distinguish and characterise certain several centuries. He continues: “In this present age and for about sixty years past, we have been the hearers and the witnesses of a new series of extraordinary incidents and occurrences. Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, Poland, are the principal theatre of these happenings. For here we are told that dead men, men who have been dead for several months, I say, return from the tomb, are heard to speak, walk about, infest hamlets and villages, injure both men and animals, whose blood they drain thereby making them sick and ill, and at length actually causing death. Nor can men deliver themselves from these terrible visitations, nor secure themselves from these horrid attacks, unless they dig the corpses up from the graves, drive a sharp stake through these bodies, cut off the heads, tear out the hearts; or else they burn the bodies to ashes. The name given to these ghosts is Oupires, or Vampires, that is to say, blood-suckers, and the particulars which are related of them are so singular, so detailed, accompanied with circumstances so probable and so likely, as well as with the most weighty and well-attested legal deposition that it seems impossible not to subscribe to the belief which prevails in these countries that these Apparitions do actually come forth from their graves and that they are able to produce the terrible effects which are so widely and so positively attributed to them. . . . The Brucolaques (vrykolakes) of Greece and the Archipelago are Apparitions of quite a new kind.” The author then says that he has solid reasons for treating the subject of Vampires, and especially for dealing with those who infest Hungary, Moravia, Silesia and Poland, although he well knows that he is laying himself open to damaging criticism on both sides. Many persons will accuse him of temerity and presumption for having dared to cast doubts upon certain details in these well-authenticated accounts, whilst others will attack him for having wasted his time in writing seriously on a subject which appears to them frivolous and inept. “Howbeit,” he continues, “whatever line anyone may choose to adopt, it is to my mind useful and indeed necessary to investigate a question which seems to have an important bearing upon Religion. For if it be a truth that Vampires may actually thus return from their graves, then it becomes necessary to write in defence of, and to prove, this truth; if it be an error and an illusion, it follows in the interests of religion that those who credit it must be undeceived and that we should expose a groundless superstition, a fallacy, which may easily have very serious and very dangerous consequences.”
In the first chapter of his Second Volume, which section directly discusses Vampires,–the first volume being preliminary and generally concerned with apparitions of various kinds,–Don Calmet again defines a Vampire, and at the risk of a certain amount of repetition his words must once again be quoted: The Apparitions (Revenans) of Hungary, or Vampires . . . are men who have been dead for some considerable time, it may be for a long period or it may be for a shorter period, and these issue forth from their graves and come to disturb the living, whose blood they suck and drain. These vampires visibly appear to men, they knock loudly at their doors and cause the sound to re-echo throughout the whole house, and once they have gained a foothold death generally follows. To this sort of Apparition is given the name Vampire or Oupire, which in the Slavonic tongues means a blood-sucker. The only way to obtain deliverance from their molestations is by disinterring the dead body, by cutting off the head, by driving a stake through the breast, by transfixing the heart, or by burning the corpse to ashes.”
It may be remarked here that although in the course of this book there will be occasion to deal with many ghosts of the vampire family and to treat of cognate superstitions and traditions the essential feature of the Vampire proper lies in the fact that he is a dead body re-animated with an awful life, who issues from his tomb to prey upon the living by sticking their blood which lends him new vitality and fresh energies. Since he is particularly found in Greece it is to a Greek writer we may go for a description of this pest. One of the earliest–if indeed he were not actually the first–of the writers of the seventeenth century who deals with vampires is Leone Allacci, (Alacci), more commonly known as Leo Allatius. This learned scholar and theologian was born on the island of Chios in 1586, and died at Rome 19th January, 1669. At the age of fourteen he entered the Greek College in Rome, and when he had finished his academic course with most honourable distinction, returned to Chios where he proved of the greatest assistance to the Latin Bishop Marco Giustiniani. In 1616 Allacci received the degree Doctor of Medicine from the Sapienza, and a little later, after having been attached to the Vatican library, be professed rhetoric at the Greek College. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV sent him to Germany to superintend the transportation to Rome of the Palatinate library of Heidelberg, which Maximillian I had presented to the Pope in return for large subsidies that enabled the war to be carried on against the federation of Protestant Princes. This important task, which owing to a disturbed state of the country was one of immense difficulty, Allacci accomplished most successfully, and during the reigns of Urban VIII and Innocent X he continued his work in the Vatican library, especially concentrating upon the Palatinate manuscripts. In 1661 Alexander VI, as a recognition of his vast researches and eminent scholarship, appointed him custodian of the Library. He was an earnest labourer for reunion, in which cause he wrote his great work De Ecclesiae Occidentalis atque Orientalis perpetua consensione, published at Cologne in 1648, a dissertation wherein all points of agreement are emphasized, whilst the differences are treated as lightly as possible. Allacci, in his treatise De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus, Cologne, 1645, discusses many traditions, and amongst others he deals at some length with the vampire, concerning whom he says: “The vrykolakas is the body of a man of wicked and debauched life, very often of one who has been excommunicated by his bishop. Such bodies do not like other corpses suffer decomposition after burial nor fall to dust, but having, so it seems, a skin of extreme toughness become swollen and distended all over, so that the joints can scarcely be bent; the skin becomes stretched like the parchment of a drum, and when struck gives out the same sound, from which circumstance the vrykolakas has received the name τυμπανιαῖος (‘drum-like ‘).” According to this author a demon takes possession of such a body, which issues from the tomb, and, generally at night, goes about the streets of a village, knocking sharply upon doors, and summoning one of the household by name. But if the person called unwittingly answers he is sure to die on the following day. Yet a vrykolakas never cries out a name twice, and so the people of Chios, at all events, always wait to hear the summons repeated before they reply to anyone who raps at their door of a night.” This monster is said to be so fearfully destructive to men, that it actually makes its appearance in the daytime, even at high noon, nor does it then confine its visits to houses, but even in fields and in hedged vineyards and upon the open highway it will suddenly advance upon persons who are labouring or travellers as they walk along, and by the horror of its hideous aspect it will slay them without laying hold on them or even speaking a word.” Accordingly a sudden death from no obvious cause is to be regarded with the gravest suspicion, and should there be any kind of molestation, or should any story of an apparition be bruited abroad they hasten to exhume the corpse which is often found in the state that has been described. Thereupon without any delay “it is taken up out of the grave, the priests recite the appointed prayers, and it is thrown on to a fiercely blazing pyre. Before the orisons are finished skin will desquamate and the members fall apart, when the whole body is utterly consumed to ashes.” Allacci proceeds to point out that this tradition in Greece is by no means new nor of any recent growth, for he tells us “in ancient and modern times alike holy men and men of great piety who have received the confessions of Christians have tried to disabuse them of such superstitions and to root this belief out of the popular imagination.” Indeed a nomocanon or authoritative ordinance of the Greek church is cited to the following effect: “Concerning a dead man, if he be found whole, the which they call vrykolakas.
“It is impossible that a dead man should become a vrykolakas, unless it be by the power of the Devil who, wishing to mock and delude some that they may incur the wrath of Heaven, causeth these dark wonders, and so very often at night he casteth a glamour whereby men imagine that the dead man whom they knew formerly, appears and holds converse with them, and in their dreams too they see strange visions. At other times they may behold him in the road, yea, even in the highway walking to and fro or standing still, and what is more than this he is even said to have strangled men and to have slain them.
“Immediately there is sad trouble, and the whole village is in a riot and a racket, so that they hasten to the grave and they unbury the body of the man . . . and the dead man–one who has long been dead and buried–appears to them to have flesh and blood . . . so they collect together a mighty pile of dry wood and set fire to this and lay the body upon it so that they burn it and they destroy it altogether.”
What is exceedingly curious is that after so emphatically declaring these phenomena to be a superstition and an idle fantasy, the nomocanon continueth as follows: “Be it known unto you, however, that when such an incorrupt body shall be discovered, the which, as we have said is the work of the Devil, ye must without delay summon the priests to chant an invocation to the All Holy Mother of God . . . and solemnly to perform memorial services for the dead with funeral-meats.” This provision is at any rate pretty clear evidence that the author or authors of this ordinance must have had some belief in the vrykolakas, and it appears to me that they would not have added so significant a cautel unless they had deemed it absolutely necessary, and having salved their consciences by speaking with rigid officialism, they felt it incumbent upon them to suggest precautions in case of the, expected happening and the consequence of difficulties and mistrust. In fact, they were most obviously safeguarding themselves.
Allacci, at any rate, had no hesitation about declaring his own views, and he thoroughly believed in the vampire. He says, and says with perfect truth: “It is the height of folly to attempt to deny that such bodies are not infrequently found in their graves incorrupt and that by use of them the Devil, if God permit him, devises most horrible complots and schemes to the hurt and harm of mankind.” Father François Richard, reference to whose important work has been made above, distinctly lays down that particularly in Greece the devil may operate by means of dead bodies as well. as by sorcerers, all this being allowed by some inscrutable design of providence. And there can be no doubt that the vampire does act under satanic influence and by satanic direction. For the wise words of S. Gregory the Great, although on another occasion, may most assuredly be applied here: “Qui tamen non esse incredibilia ista cognoscimus, si in illo et alia facta pensamus. Certe iniquorum omnium caput diabolus est: et huius capitis membra sunt omnes iniqui.” All this, of course, under divine permission. The authors of the Malleus Maleficarum in the First Part teach us how there are “Three Necessary Concomitants of Witchcraft, which are the Devil, a Witch, and the Permission of God.” So are these three necessary concomitants of Vampirism, to wit, the Devil, the Dead Body, and the Permission of God.” Father Richard writes: “The Devil revitalizes and energizes these dead bodies which he preserves for a long time in their entirety; he appears with the actual face and in the likeness of the dead, stalking abroad up and down the streets, and presently he will parade the country roads and the fields; he bursts his way into men’s houses, filling many with awful fear, leaving others dumb with horror, whilst others are even killed; he proceeds to acts of violence and blood, and strikes terror into every heart.” The good Father proceeds to say that at first he believed these appearances to be merely ghosts from Purgatory returning to ask for help, masses and pious prayers”; but on learning the details of the case he soon found that he had to deal with something very other, for such ghosts never commit excesses, violent assaults, wreaking the destruction of cattle and goods, and even causing death. These appearances then are clearly diabolical, and the matter is taken in hand by the priests who assemble on a Saturday, that being the only day of the week on which a vrykolakas rests in his grave and cannot walk abroad.
It may be remembered that Saturday was the one day of the week which was particularly avoided by witches for their assemblies, and that no Sabbat was held on this day. for Saturday is sacred to the Immaculate Mother of God. “It is well known,” says that great Doctor S. Alphonsus, “that Saturday is dedicated by Holy Church to Mary, because, as S. Bernard tells us, on that day, the day after the death of Her Son, She remained constant in faith.” (Per illud triste Sabbatum stetit in fide, et saluata fuit Ecclesia in ipsa sola; propter quod, aptissime tota Ecclesia, in laudem et gloriam eiusdem Uirginis, diem Sabbati per totius anni circulum celebrare consueuit.) In England this excellent practice of devotion was known as early as Anglo-Saxon times, since in the Leofric Missal a special mass is assigned to Saturdays in honour of Our Lady.
Mr. G. F. Abbott, in his Macedonian Folklore, relates that in Northern Greece “People born on a Saturday (hence called Σαββατιανοὶ or Sabbatarians) are believed to enjoy the doubtful privilege of seeing ghosts and phantasms, and of possessing great influence over vampires. A native of Socho assured the writer that such a one was known to have lured a vrykolakas into a barn and to have set him to count the grains of a heap of millet.” While the demon was thus engaged, the Sabbatarian attacked him and succeeded in nailing him to the wall . . . At Liakkovikia it is held that the Sabbatarian owes his power to a little dog, which follows him every evening and drives away the vrykolakas. It is further said that the Sabbatarian on these occasions is invisible to all but the little dog.”
The priests then on a Saturday go in procession to the grave where lies the body which is suspect. It is solemnly disinterred, “and when they find it whole, they take it for certain that it was serving as an instrument of the Devil.”
This abnormal condition of the dead is held to be a sure mark of the vampire, and is essential to vampirism proper. In the Greek Church it is often believed to be the result of excommunication, and this is indeed an accepted and definite doctrine of the Orthodox Church, which must be considered in turn a little later.
It is not impossible, I think, that cases of catalepsy, or suspended animation which resulted in premature burial may have helped to reinforce the tradition of the vampire and the phenomenon of vampirism. Some authorities consider catalepsy as almost entirely, if not wholly, psychic, and certainly not a disease in any correct sense of the word, although it may be a symptom of obscure diseases arising from nervous disorders. A celebrated medical authority has pronounced that “in itself catalepsy is never fatal.” It belongs to the domain of hypnotism, and is said to be refreshing to the subject, especially when he is exhausted by long mental exertion or physical toil. Very often it arises from conscious or subconscious auto-suggestion, and it has been described as “the supreme effort of nature to give the tired nerves their needed repose.” No doubt the fatal mistake so often made in the past was that of endeavouring by drastic measures to hasten restoration to consciousness., instead of allowing nature to recuperate at will. If the attempt is successful it comes as a fearful shock to the nerves which are craving for rest; if the effort is seemingly without result the patient is in imminent danger of an autopsy or of being buried alive, a tragedy which, it is to be feared, has happened to very many. It is clear that as yet serious attention has not been adequately given to this terrible accident. A quarter of a century ago it was computed that in the United States an average of not less than one case a week of premature burial was discovered and reported. This means that the possibility of such danger is appalling. In past centuries when knowledge was less common, when adequate precautions were seldom, if ever, employed, the cases of premature burial, especially at such times as the visitation of the plague and other pestilences must have been far from uncommon. Two or three examples of recent date, that is to say occuring at the end of the last century, may profitably be quoted as proving extremely significant in this connexion.
A young lady, who resided near Indianopolis, came to life after fourteen days of suspended animation. No less than six doctors had applied the usual tests, and all unhesitatingly signed certificates to witness that she was dead. Her little brother against this consensus of opinion clung to her and declared that she had not died. The parents were in bitter agony, but at length it was necessary to remove the body. The boy endeavoured to prevent this, and in the excitement the bandage which tied up the jaw was loosened and pushed out of place, when it appeared that her lips were quivering and the tongue gently moving. “What do you want, what do you want?” cried the child. “Water,” distinctly, if faintly, came the answer from the supposed corpse. Water was administered, the patient revived, and lived her full span of years, healthy and normal until she was an old woman.
A lady who is now the head matron of one of the largest orphan asylums in the United States has been given over as dead no less than twice by the physicians in attendance; her body has twice been shrouded in the decent cerements of the grave; and twice has she been resuscitated by her friends. On the second occasion, in view of the former experience, extraordinary precautions were taken. All known tests were applied by the physicians, and humanly speaking all possible doubt was set at rest. The doctors had actually left the house, and the undertaker was at his sad business. It chanced that the body was pierced by a pin, and to the joy of her friends it was noted that a small drop of blood shortly afterwards oozed from the puncture. The family insisted upon the preparations being stayed; vigorous treatment was unremittingly applied, and the patient returned to life. To-day she is an exceptionally active and energetic administratrix. It should be remarked that the lady declared that she had never for a moment lost consciousness, that she was fully cognizant of all that went on around her, that she perfectly understood the meaning of all the tests which were so assiduously employed, but that all the while she felt the utmost indifference with regard to the result. The verdict of the physicians that she was dead did not cause her either the slightest surprise or the smallest alarm. A very similar accident occurred to a gentleman of good estate, one of the most prominent citizens of Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania. After a long illness he apparently died from inflamatory rheumatism, which was complicated with heart trouble. All preparations were made for the funeral, but his wife determined that this should not take place for at I-east a week, so great was her fear of premature burial. In the course of two or three days it was noticed that the body had moved; the eyes were wide open, and one of the arms had altered the position in which it had been carefully placed. His wife shrieked out his name, upon which he slowly arose, and with assistance was supported to a chair. Even before the arrival of the physicians, who were instantly summoned, he had regained a marked degree of strength, together with an ability of movement which had not been possible throughout the whole course of his illness. He was soon in excellent health, and what is very remarkable, he stated that during the time of suspended animation he was perfectly aware of everything that was going on all around, that the grief of his family filled him with terrible agony, and he dreaded the preparations for interment, but that he was unable to move a muscle or utter a word.
The death of Washington Irving Bishop, the well-known thought-reader, caused a great sensation at the time. On many occasions he had been in a cataleptic state for several hours, and once, at least, his trance was so long that two physicians pronounced him to be dead. There is little doubt that eventually the autopsy was performed with irregular haste, and that the unfortunate subject was not dead before the surgeon’s knife had actually penetrated his brain.
Although through the ages few cases have been actually recorded the incidents of premature burial and of autopsy performed on the living must be numberless. One such accident nearly occurred to the great humanist Marc-Antoine Muret, who, falling ill upon a journey, was conveyed to the local hospital as a sick stranger, name unknown. Whilst he lay, not even unconscious, upon the rough pallet, the physicians, who had been lecturing upon anatomy and were anxious to find a subject to illustrate their theories, gathered round in full force. They eagerly discussed the points to be argued, and deeming the patient dead, the senior physician gravely pronounced, pointing to the patient: “Faciamus experimentum in anima uili.” The eyes of the supposed corpse opened widely, and a low, but distinct voice answered: “Uilem animam appellas pro qua Christus non dedignatus est mori.”
As was customary in the case of prelates, when Cardinal Diego de Espinosa, Bishop of Sigeunza and Grand Inquisitor of Spain under Philip II died after a short illness, the body was embalmed before it lay in state. Accordingly in the presence of several physicians the surgeon proceeded to operate for that purpose. He had made a deep incision, and it is said that the heart had actually been brought into view and was observed to beat. The Cardinal recovered consciousness at the fatal moment, and even then had sufficient strength to grasp with his hand the scalpel of the anatomist. In the earlier years of the nineteenth century both Cardinal Spinola and the octogenarian Cardinal della Somaglia were prepared for embalmment before life was extinct.
In the Seventh Book of the Historia Naturalis, (liii, 52, ed. Brotier, Barbou, 1779), Pliny relates many instances of persons who, being deemed dead, revived. “Auiola consularis in rogo reuixit: et quoniam subueniri non potuerat præ ualente flamma, uiuus crematus est. Similis causa in L. Lamia prætorio uiro traditur. Nam C. Ælium Tuberonem prætura functum a rogo relatum, Messala Rufus, et plerique tradunt. Hæc est conditio mortalium: ad has, et eiusmodi occasiones fortunæ gignimur, uti de homine ne morti quidem debeat credi. Reperimus inter exempla, Hermotini Clazomenii animam relicto corpore errare solitam, uagamque e longinquo multa annunitiare, quæ nisi a præsente nosci non possent, corpore interim semianimi: donec cremato eo inimici (qui Cantharidæ uocabantur) remeanti animæ uelut uaginam ademerint. Aristeæ etiam uisam euolantem ex ore in Proconneso, corui effigie, magna quæ sequitur fabulositate. Quam equidem et in Gnossio Epimenide simili modo accipio: Puerum æstu et itinere fessum in specu septem et quinquaginta dormisse annis: rerum faciem mutationemque mirantem uelut postero experrectum die: hinc pari numero dierum senio ingruente, ut tamen in septimum et quinquagesimum atque centesimum uitæ duraret annum. Feminarum sexus huic malo uidetur maxime opportunus, conuersione uuluæ: quæ si corrigatur, spiritus restituitur. Hue pertinet nobile apud Græcos uolumen Heraclidis, septem diebus feminæ exanimis ad uitam reuocatæ.
Uarro quoque auctor est, xx. uiro se agros diuidente Capuæ, quemdam qui efferretur, foro domum remaasse pedibus. Hoc idem Aquini accidisse. Romæ quoque Corsidium materteræ suæ maritum sumere locato reuixisse, et locatorem funeris ab eo elatum. Adiicit miracula, quæ tota indicasse conueniat. E duobus fratribus equestris ordinis, Corsidio maiori accidisse, ut uideretur exspirasse, apertoque testamento recitatum heredem minorem funeri institisse; interim cum, qui uidebatur extinctus, plaudendo conciuisse ministeria, et narrasse “a fratre se uenisse, commendatum sibi filiam ab eo. Demonstratum præterea, quo in loco defodisset aurum nullo conscio, et rogasse ut iis funebribus, quæ comparasset, efferretur.” Hoc eo narrante, fratris domestici propere annuntiauere exanimatum illum: et aurum, ubi dixerat, repertum est. Plena præterea uita est his uaticiniis, sed non conferenda, cum sæpius falsa sint, sicut ingenti exemplo docebimus. Bello Siculo Gabienus Cæsaris classiarus fortissimus captus a Sex. Pompeio, iussu eius incisa ceruice, et uix cohærente, iacuit in litore toto die. Deinde cum aduesperauisset, cum gemitu precibusque congregata multitudine petiit, uti Pompeius ad se ueniret, aut aliquem ex arcanis mitteret: se enim ab inferis remissum, habere quæ nuntiaret. Misit plures Pompeius ex amicis, quibus Gabienus dixit: “Inferis diis placere Pompeii causas et partes pias: proinde euentum futurum, quem optaret: hoc se nuntiare iussum: argumentum fore ueritatis, quod peractis mandatis, protinus exspiraturus esset”: idque ita euenit. Post sepulturam quoque uisorum exempla, sunt: nisi quod naturæ opera, non prodigia consectamur.
It was truly said by Pliny that “Such is the condition of humanity, and so uncertain is men’s judgement that they cannot determine even death itself.” The words of the wise old Roman have been re-echoed by many a modern authority. Sabetti in his Tractatus XVI, “De Extrema Unctione,” Compendium Theologiæ Moralis, (ed. recognita T. Barrett; Pustet; 1916; p. 776) asks: “Quid sacerdoti agendum sit, si ad ægrotum accedat, eumque modo mortuum, ut uulgo dicitur, inueniat? In the course of resolving this, he lays down: “Iam age ex sententia plurimorum medicorum doctissimorum probabile est homines in omnibus ferme casibus post instans mortis, ut uulgo dicitur, seu post ultimam respirationem, intus aliquamdiu uiuere, breuius uel diutius, iuxta naturam causae quae mortem induxit. In casibus mortis ex morbis lenti progressus probabile est uitarn interne perdurare aliquot momenta, sex circiter, uel, iuxta quosdam peritos, unam dimidiam horam: in casibus uero mortis repentinae uita, interna perdurat longius, forte non improbabiliter, usque ad putrefactionem.” Professor Huxley wrote: “The evidence of ordinary observers on such a point as this (that a person is really dead) is absolutely worthless. And, even medical evidence, unless the physician is a person of unusual knowledge and skill, may have little more value.” The British Medical Journal remarks: “It is true that hardly any one sign of death, short of putrefaction, can be relied upon as infallible.” Sir Henry Thompson wrote: “It should never be forgotten that there is but one really trustworthy proof that death has occurred in any given instance, viz., the presence of a manifest sign of commencing decomposition.” And Professor p. Brouardel emphatically declares: “We are obliged to acknowledge that we have no sign or group of signs sufficient to determine the moment of death with scientific certainty in all cases.” Colonel E. p. Vollum, M.D., Medical Inspector of the United States Army, and Corresponding Member of the New York Academy of Sciences, who himself was upon one occasion almost buried alive, most emphatically declared that “even stoppage of the beating of the heart, and breathing, for a considerable time, with all other appearances of death, excepting decomposition, do not make it certain that a person is dead,” and he also added the terrible warning that “the suspended activity of life may return after the body has been interred.” It is unnecessary to enter into these partial cases of premature burial, but there is overwhelming evidence that such accidents were far from uncommon. Dr. Thouret, who was present at the destruction of the famous vaults of Les Innocens, told Mons. Desgenettes that there could be no doubt many of the persons must have been interred alive, since the skeletons were found in positions which showed the dead must have turned in their coffins. Kempner supplies similar particulars when describing disinterments which have taken place in New York and other districts of the United States, also in Holland and elsewhere.
The celebrated investigator, Dr. Franz Hartmann, collected particulars of more than seven hundred cases of premature burial and of narrow escapes from it, some of which occurred in his own neighbourhood. In his great work Premature Burial he tells us of the terrible incident which happened to the famous French tragedienne, Mile. Rachel, who on 3rd January, 1858, “died” near Cannes, and who was to be embalmed, but after the proceedings had commenced she suddenly returned to life, only to expire in reality some ten hours later from the shock and from the injuries which had been inflicted upon her. Another case which is of particular interest as having occurred in Moravia, where the belief in vampires is particularly strong, is that of the postmaster in a small town who, as it was thought, died in a fit of epilepsy. About a year afterwards it became necessary to disinter some of the bodies from the graveyard in order to enlarge one of the transepts of the parish church, and the dreadful fact was revealed that the unfortunate postmaster must have been buried whilst still alive, a discovery which so horrified the physician who had signed the death certificate that he lost his reason.
In the chancel of S. Giles, Cripplegate, there is still to be seen a monument sacred to the memory of Constance Whitney, whose many virtues are described in somewhat rhetorical fashion upon a marble tablet. A figure above this scroll represents the lady in the act of rising from her coffin. This might be taken to be a beautiful symbolism, but such is not the case, for it represents an actual circumstance. The unfortunate lady had been buried while in a condition of suspended animation, and consciousness returned to her when the sexton opened the coffin and desecrated the body in order to steal a valuable ring which had been left upon one of her fingers. In former years when the rifling of tombs and body-snatching were by no means an infrequent practice, many similar cases came to light, and there can be no doubt that no inconsiderable proportion of persons were buried in a state of trance or catalepsy.
The story of Gabrielle de Launay, a lady whose cause was tried before the High Court of Paris, about 1760, caused a profound sensation throughout the whole of France. When eighteen years of age Gabrielle, the daughter of M. de Launay, the President of the Civil Tribunal of Toulouse, was betrothed to Captain Maurice de Serres. Unhappily the latter was suddenly ordered abroad to the Indies on active service. The President, fearing that his child might die in a foreign land, refused to allow the marriage to be celebrated immediately so that she might accompany her husband under his protection. The lovers parted heart-broken, and in about two years’ time news reached France of the gallant young soldier’s death. This, however, proved to be false, although his safety was not known until, after an absence of well-nigh five years, be presented himself once more in Paris. Here he happened to pass the church of S. Roch, the entire facade of which was heavily draped with black and shrouded for the funeral of some person of distinction. Upon enquiry, he learned that the mourning was on account of a young and beautiful lady who had died suddenly after two days’ illness, the wife of the President du Bourg, who before her marriage had been Mlle. Gabrielle de Launay. It appeared that, owing to the report of the death of Maurice de Serres, M. de Launay had compelled his daughter to marry this gentleman, who although nearly thirty years her senior was a figure of great wealth and importance. As may be imagined, the young captain was distracted with grief, but that night, taking a considerable sum in gold, he visited the sexton of the cemetery of S. Roch and with great difficulty bribed him to exhume the corpse of Madame du Bourg in order that he might once more look upon the features of the woman whom he had so passionately loved. With every precaution, under the pale light of a waning moon, the terrible task was completed, the coffin was silently unscrewed, and the unhappy lover threw himself upon his, knees in an agony of grief. At last the grave-digger suggested that everything must be replaced in order, when with a terrible cry the young officer suddenly seized the cold, clay body and, before the bewildered sexton could prevent him, threading his rapid course among the tombs, with lightning speed he disappeared into the darkness. Pursuit was useless, and nothing remained but for the poor man to replace the empty shell in the grave, to shovel back the earth and arrange the spot so that there might be no trace of any disturbance. He felt sure, at least, that his accomplice in so terrible a crime, a sacrilege which would inevitably bring the severest punishment upon those concerned in it, must maintain silence, if only for his own sake.
Nearly five years had passed when M. du Bourg, who upon the anniversary of his wife’s death each June attended a solemn requiem, as he was passing through a somewhat unfrequented street in the suburbs of Paris came face to face with a lady in whom he recognised none other than the wife whose death he had mourned so tenderly and so long. As he attempted to speak, she with averted looks swept past him as swiftly as the wind and, leaping into a carriage with emblazoned panels, was driven quickly away before he could reach the spot. However, M. du Bourg had noticed the arms of the noble house of de Serres, and he determined that inquiry should at once be made. It was no difficult task for a man of his position to obtain an order that the grave of his wife might be examined, and when this was done the empty broken coffin turned suspicion into certainty. The fact that the sexton had resigned his post and had gone no one knew where, but seemingly in comfortable circumstances shortly after the funeral of Madame du Bourg lent its weight to the investigations which were now taken in hand. Experienced lawyer that he was, M. du Bourg accumulated evidence of the first importance. He found that it was said that Captain Maurice de Serres had married his young and lovely wife, Madame Julie de Serres, some five years previously and, as it was supposed, then brought her back with him from some foreign country, to Paris.
The whole city was astounded when the President du Bourg demanded from the High Court the dissolution of the illegal marriage between Captain Maurice de Serres and the pretended Julie de Serres, who, as the plaintiff steadfastly declared, was Gabrielle du Bourg, his lawful wife. The novelty of the circumstances caused the profoundest sensation, and vast numbers of pamphlets were exchanged by the faculty, many of whom maintained that a prolonged trance had given rise to the apparent death of Madame du Bourg, and it was stated that although she had continued to exist for a great number of hours in her grave, cases of similar lethargies had been recorded, and even if such fits were of the rarest, yet the circumstance was possible. Madame Julie de Serres was summoned to appear in Court and answer the questions of the Judges. She stated that she was an orphan born in South America, and had never left her native country until her marriage. Certificates were produced, and on every side lengthy arguments were heard, which it is unnecessary to detail. Many romantic incidents ensued, but these, however interesting, must be passed over, for it shall suffice to say that eventually, mainly through the sudden introduction of her little daughter, amid a pathetic scene, the identity of Julie de Serres with Gabrielle du Bourg, née Launay, was established and acknowledged. In vain did her advocate plead that her marriage to M. du Bourg had been dissolved by death, although this fact most certainly ought to have been accepted as consonant with sound theology. None the less the result was that, in spite of her prayer to be allowed to enter a cloister, she was ordered to return to her first husband. Two days after, the President du Bourg awaited her arrival in the great hall of his mansion. She appeared, but could scarcely totter through the gates, for she had but a few moments previously drained a swift poison. Crying “I restore to you what you have lost,” she fell a corpse at his feet. At the same moment Captain de Serres died by his own hands.
It cannot escape notice that these events very closely resemble that novella of Bandello (II, 9), which relates the true history of Elena and Gerardo, adventures nearly resembling the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet. Elena and Gerardo are the children of two nobles of Venice, Messer Pietro and Messer Paolo, whose palaces fronted each other on the Grand Canal. Gerardo chances to see Elena at her window, and from that hour he knows neither happiness nor sleep until he has declared his consuming passion. A kindly nurse brings them together, and in her presence they exchange rings and vows of tenderest love before the statue of Madonna the Virgin, spending long nights in amorous ecstasy and bliss. For these unions were fast binding, although not a sacrament, indeed, until then had received the benison of Holy Church. It is a common saying to apply to any man: “Si, è ammogliato; ma il matrimonio non è stato benedetto.” Wherefore the spousals of the lovers remained a secret.
In a little while Messer Paolo, thinking great things of his son’s career in the world, dispatches the young man to Beirut, and Gerardo needs must go. But when he had been absent some six months Messer Pietro informs his daughter that he has appointed a day for her marriage with a young man of ancient house and fair estate, and not daring to tell her father what had passed, she sunk under her silent grief, and upon the evening before her new nuptials she fell into a swoon across her bed, so that in the morning she was found cold and stark as a stiffening corpse. The physicians assembled in numbers and talked learnedly; remedies of every sort were applied without avail; and no one doubted she was dead. So they carried her to church for burial and not for marriage. That night they bore in sombre and silent procession upon a black gondola to the Campo which is hard by San Pietro in Castello, where lies the Sacred Body of Venice’s great patriarch, San Lorenzo Giustiniani. They left her there in a marble sarcophagus outside the church, with torches blazing around.
Now it happened that Gerardo’s galley bad returned from Syria, and was newly anchored at the port of Lido. Many friends came to greet him, and as they talked, marking the funeral cortège, he idly asked who was gone. When be learned it was Elena, grief fell upon him like a cloud of night. But he dissembled until all had departed, when, calling his friend the captain of the galley, he told him the whole story of his love, and swore he would once again kiss his wife, even if he had to break open her monument. The captain tried in vain to dissuade him, but seeing it was of no avail the two men took a boat and rowed together to San Pietro. It was long after midnight when they landed and made their way to the place of sepulture. Pushing back the massive lid, Gerardo flung himself upon the body of his Elena. At length the good captain, who feared the Signors of the Night would visit the spot and put them under arrest, compelled the hapless lover to return to the boat, but he could no whit persuade him to leave Elena’s body, and this Gerardo bore in his arms and reverently laid it in the boat, himself clasping it in his arms with many a sad kiss and bitter sigh. The captain, much alarmed, scarce dared to make for the galley, but rowed up and down and out to the open lagoon, the dying husband yet laid by his dead wife. However, the sea-breezes freshened with their salt tang, and far over the waters the horizon lightened towards dawn. It was then that the spark of life awoke in Elena’s face; she moved gently, and Gerardo, starting from his grief, began to chafe her hands and feet. They carried her secretly to the house of the captain’s mother; here she was put in a warm bed, possets and food were administered; presently she opened her eyes, and lived. A gracious and lordly feast was made by Messer Paolo for his son’s return, and when all the company were assembled Gerardo entered, leading Elena in bridal array, and kneeling at his father’s feet he said: “Lo, my father, I bring you my wedded wife whom I have this day saved from death.” Great were the rejoicings, and Messer Pietro was summoned from his house of mourning to a home of gladness. So when the whole truth had been told him and he welcomed back not only his dead daughter but her husband also with a joyful heart and with thanksgiving, he blessed the young couple, and on the morrow morn Holy Church with solemn rite hallowed the bond of matrimony whose, joys had already been sweetly consummated.
The parallels between the two adventures are very striking. Our main interest in the sad story of de Serres and his love, which assuredly might have ended far otherwise, lies in the fact that the unfortunate Gabrielle du Bourg was actually buried as dead in her coffin, and only restored to life after several days had passed. Occasionally epitaphs may be seen both abroad and in England, which record some premature burial. Such a one was placed over the tomb of a Mrs. Blunden in the cemetery of Basingstoke, Hampshire, and this tells how the unfortunate lady was prematurely interred, but the original inscription is to a large extent obliterated. Unfortunately overwhelming evidence proves that such terrible accidents are far from rare, for Mr. William Tebb, in his authoritative work Premature Burial had collected of recent years from medical sources alone two hundred and nineteen narrow escapes from being buried alive; one hundred and forty-nine premature interments that actually took place; ten cases of bodies being dissected before life was extinct; three cases in which this shocking error was very nearly made; and two cases where the work of embalmment had already begun when consciousness returned.
There is no greater mistake than to suppose that most cases of premature burial, and of escape from premature burial, happened long ago, and that even then the majority of these took place under exceptional conditions, and for the most part in small towns or remoter villages on the continent. Amazing as it may appear in these days of enlightenment, the number of instances of narrowest escapes from premature burial, and also of this terrible fate itself, has not decreased of recent years, but it has, on the contrary, increased. In a letter on page 1,104 of the Lancet, 14th June, 1884, the witness describes in detail the appearance presented by two bodies which he saw in the crypt of the cathedral of Bordeaux, when part of the cemetery there had been dug up and many graves disinterred. In La Presse Médicale, Paris, 17th August, 1904, there is an article, “The Danger of Apparent Death,” by Doctor Icard of Marseilles, whose study La Mort réelle et la Mort apparente when published in 1897 attracted great attention. The writer, an eminent figure in the medical world, describes in detail some twelve cases of the revival of persons who had been certified as dead by their doctors, the body in one instance recovering consciousness when several physicians were present and the funeral ceremonies had actually commenced. It should be remarked that Dr. M. K. Boussakis, Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine of Athens, was one of the eye-witnesses upon that occasion, and a similar case is mentioned on the authority of Dr. Zacutus Lusitanus, who was also present. It should be remembered that Greece is the country where belief in the vampire still most strongly survives.
A terrible case of actual interment whilst still alive is described in a letter published in the Sunday Times, 6th September, 1896. Some years ago the Paris Figaro, in an article of some length considered the terrible possibilities of being buried alive, and within fifteen days the editor received over four hundred letters from different parts of France, and all these were from persons who had either themselves been buried alive, or been on the point of being so interred, or who had escaped a premature grave through some fortunate accident.
In September, 1895, a boy named Ernest Wicks was found lying on the grass in Regent’s Park, apparently dead, and after being laid out in the S. Marylebone mortuary was brought back to life by the keeper, Mr. Ellis. When the doctor arrived the lad was breathing freely though still insensible, and a little later he was removed to the Middlesex Hospital. Here the surgeon pronounced him to be “recovering from a fit.” At an inquest held at Wigan, 21st December, 1902, Mr. Brighouse, one of the County Coroners for Lancashire, remarked with great emphasis upon the extraordinary circumstances, for he informed the jury that the child upon whom they sat had “died” four times, and the mother had obtained no less than three medical certificates of death, any one of which would have been sufficient for the subject to have been buried. In 1905, a Mrs. Holden, aged twenty-eight, living at Hapton, near Accrington, “died,” and the doctor did not hesitate to give a certificate of death, when all the arrangements for the funeral were made. Fortunately, the undertaker noticed a slight twitch of the eyelids, and eventually the woman’s life was saved, and she lived well and strong under perfectly normal conditions. On 7th January, 1907, the Midland Daily Telegraph reported the case of a child who “to all intents and purposes died” whilst an operation was being performed upon it. However, the patient who had been certified dead more than half-an-hour before recovered. On 14th September, 1908, the papers published the details of an extraordinary trance of a Mrs. Rees, Nora Street, Cardiff, who appeared to have had a very narrow escape from premature burial. To go back some forty years, there may be found fully reported in the British Medical Journal, 31st October, 1885, the famous case of a child at Stamford Hill who fell into convulsions and passing into a trance was supposed to have died, recovering consciousness only after five days. Hufeland, dealing with these instances of trance, remarks that “Six or seven days are often required to restore such cases. Dr. Charles Londe says that fits of this kind “last for days and days together,” and that “it seems not improbable that people may have been buried in this state in mistake for death.” A case of exceptional interest is described as occurring in 1883 by the Professor of Medicine in the University of Glasgow, Dr. W. T. Gairdner. The person whom he was treating remained in a trance which lasted twenty-three consecutive weeks, and so remarkable a circumstance attracted very considerable attention at the time, giving rise to a lengthy controversy.
It should be more widely known that the ordinary simulacra of death are utterly deceptive and Dr. John Oswald remarks in his profound work Suspended Animal Life, “in consequence of an ignorant confidence placed in them [the signs of death] persons who might have been restored to life . . . have been consigned to the grave.” In September, 1903, Dr. Forbes Winslow emphasized the fact that “all the appearances of death may be so strikingly displayed in a person in a cataleptic condition that it is quite possible for burial to take place while life is not extinct,” and he added “I do not consider that the ordinary tests employed to ascertain that life is extinct are sufficient; I maintain that the only satisfactory proof of death is decomposition.”
Even from this very hasty review, and examples might be multiplied, indeed are multiplying in every direction almost daily, terrible truth though it may be, it is obvious that premature burial is by no means an uncommon thing, whilst recovery from catalepsy or deep trances, sometimes lasting very many days, is even more frequent, and such cases have been recorded in all ages, times without number. It is, I think, exceedingly probable that extraordinary accidents of this kind, which would have been gossiped and trattled throughout large districts, and, passing from old to young, whispered round many a winter’s fireside, were bound soon to have assumed the proportions of a legend which must, consciously or unconsciously, have continually gathered fresh accretions of horror and wonder in its train. It is possible, I say, that hence may have been evolved some few details which notably helped to swell the vampire tradition. I do not for a moment wish to imply that these circumstances, which we have just considered at some length, however striking and ghastly, were in any way the foundation of the belief in vampires. I would rather emphasize that the tradition goes far deeper and contains far more dark and scathful reality than this. I would not even suggest that premature burial and resuscitation from apparent death added anything essentially material to the vampire legend, but I do conceive it probable that these macabre happenings, ill-understood and unexplained, did serve to fix the vampire tradition more firmly in the minds of those who had been actual witnesses of, or who by reliable report knew of similar occurrences, and were fearful and amazed.
There are to be read examples of persons who, after death, have given evident signs of life by their movements. One such case is related by Tertullian, who tell s us that he himself witnessed it, “de meo didici.” A young woman, who had once been in slavery, a Christian, after she had been married but a few months died suddenly in the very flower of her age and happiness. The body was carried to the church, and before it was entrusted to the earth, a service was held. When the priest, who was saying the requiem “praesente cadauere,” raised his hands in prayer, to the astonishment of all the young girl who was lying upon her bier with her hands laid in repose at her side, also lifted her hands and gently clasped them as if she too were taking part in the supplication of the Mass, and then toward the end she refolded them in the original position.
Tertullian also says that on one occasion, when a body was about to be interred, a body which was already in the grave seemed to draw to one side as though to make place for the newcomer.
In the life of S. John the Almsgiver, Patriarch of Alexandria, written by Leontius Archbishop of Cyprus, we are told that when the saint who was aged sixty-four, died at Amanthus in Cyprus, 11th November, 616, his body was brought with great veneration and holy observance to the principal church of that place. Here was opened a magnificent tomb in which two bishops had already been buried. It is said that out of respect the two bodies drew one to the right and one to the left, and that this took place in the sight of all who were present, “non unus, neque decem, neque centum uiderunt, sed omnis turba, quae conuenit ad eius sepulturam.” It must be remembered that Archbishop Leontius had his facts from those who had actually been present at the interment, and the same account may be found in the Menology of Symeon Metaphrastes.
Evagrius Ponticus relates the legend of a certain Anchorite named Thomas, who died in the Nosokomeion at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, where was the shrine of the martyr S. Babylas. The hermit, a stranger, was buried in that part of the cemetery used for beggars and the very poor. In the morning, however, the body was found to be lying by a rich Mausoleum in the most honourable part of the grounds. It was again interred, but when on the following day it was found by the sexton that the same thing had happened a second time, the people hastened to the patriarch Ephraim and told him of the marvel. Thereupon the body was borne with great rejoicing with an attendance of wax flambeaux and fuming frankincense into the town, and honourably enshrined with worship meet in one of the churches, and for many years the city annually observed the festival of the Translation of S. Thomas Eremita. The same story is related by the ascetical writer, the monk Johannes Moschus, in his very beautiful treatise Δειμών Pratum spirituale, “The Spiritual Meadow,” but Moschus says that the remains of the hermit rested in his grave whilst in veneration for his sanctity the bodies of those who were buried near had been found to have issued forth and modestly lay at some considerable distance.
In Hagiology there are many instances of the dead hearing, speaking and moving. Thus in the life of S. Donatus, the patron of Arezzo, who succeeded the first bishop S. Satyrus towards the end of the third century, we are told that Eustasius, receiver-general of the revenues of Tuscany, being called away on a journey, for safety sake left the public funds in the hands of his wife, Euphrosina. This lady, being afraid that her house might be robbed, secretly buried the chests in the earth. She told the matter to no one, but unhappily before her husband’s return she expired suddenly in the night, and it was quite unknown where she had concealed her charge. Eustasius was beside himself with grief and fear, for it seemed inevitable that be should be accused of peculation by his enemies, and condemned to death. In his despair he betook himself to S. Donatus, and the holy man asked him that they might visit the grave of Euphrosina. A great company gathered in the church, when the saint, going up to the grave, said in a loud voice that might be heard by all: “Euphrosina, tell us we pray thee, where thou didst put the public funds.” The woman answered from her tomb, and certainly her accents were heard revealing the hiding-place. S. Donatus went with the receiver-general to the spot indicated, and there they found the money carefully secured.
It is related in the life of the famous Anchorite, S. Macarius of Egypt, who died A.D. 394, that one of the monks of his laura was accused of murder, and as those who lay the charge spoke with great gravity and sureness, S. Macarius bade them all resort to the grave of the deceased, where, striking his staff upon the ground, he adjured the dead man in these words: “The Lord by me bids you tell us whether this man, who is now accused of your murder, in truth committed the crime, or was in any way consenting thereto?” Immediately a hollow voice issuing from the tomb declared: “Of a truth he is wholly innocent, and had no hand at all in my death.” “Who then,” inquired the saint, “is the guilty one?” The dead man replied: “It is not for me, my father, to bear witness; let it suffice to know that he who has been accused is innocent. Leave the guilty in the hands of God. Who can say whether the all-holy and compassionate God may not have mercy upon him and bring him to repentance.”
In the history of S. Rheticus, as related by C. Vettius Aquilinus Juvencus, the Latin poet of the fourth century, who was so popular in the Middle Ages, we are told that when the saint had expired,” his body was carried in solemn procession to the grave of his deceased wife, and suddenly, to the amazement of all present, the dead mail arose on his bier and said: “Dost thou remember well, my dear wife, that which thou didst ask me upon thy death-bed? Lo, here am I come to fulfil the promise made so long syne. Receive me then whom you have sweetly expected all this while.” At these words it appeared as if the deceased wife, who had been dead for many years, revived again, and breaking the linen bands which enswathed her, she stretched forth her hands to her husband. (Deprensa est laeuam protendens femina palmam, inuitans socium gestu uiuentis amoris.) The corpse was lowered into the tomb, and there the twain lie in peace, awaiting the resurrection of the just.
Not unsimilar is the legend of S. Injurieux, whose dead body moved out of its own grave to repose in that of his wife Scholastica. Injurieux was a noble senator of Clermont in Auvergne, who married in virgin wedlock a lady of rank, Scholastica. S. Gregory of Tours, in his Historia Francorum, tells us that Scholastica died first, and Injurieux, standing by the coffin in which her body was laid, as she was about to be carried forth to burial said in the presence of all: “I thank Thee, O, God, for having bestowed upon me this maiden treasure, which I return into Thy hands unspotted, even as I received it.” The dead wife smiled at these words, and her voice was heard to reply: “Why dost thou speak, O my husband, of these things which concern no one but ourselves?” Hardly had the lady been buried in a magnificent tomb, when the husband died also, and for some reason was temporarily interred in a separate grave, at a distance from the monument of his wife. On the next morning it was found that Injurieux had left the place where he had been laid, and his dead body reposed by the side of that of Scholastica. No man dared disturb the two corpses, and to the present day the senator and his wife are popularly called “The Two Lovers.”
In his Vies des Saints Monsignor Guérin relates the following story S. Patrick: “St. Patrice commande à la mort de rendre ses victimes afin que leur propre bouche proclame devant le peuple la vérité des doctrines qu’il leur annonce; ou bien il s’assure si son ordre de planter une croix sur la tombe des chrétiens, et non des infidèles, a été fidélement exécuté, en interrogeant les morts eux-mêmes, et en apprenant de leur bouche s’ils ont mérité ce consolant hommage.”
In this connexion–the tradition of a dead person who speaks–the story of S. Melor may be not impertinent. About the year 400 A.D., there was a certain Duke of Cornwall named Melian, whose brother, Rivold, conspired against him and put him to death. The duke had left a young son, Melor, whom the usurper feared to slay, but sent to be brought up under the strictest rule in one of the Cornish monasteries, where the novice continually edified the community by his holy life, having (so it is said) the gift of miracles. After a few years Rivold, being afraid lest the boy should depose him, bribed a soldier named Cerialtan to murder Melor secretly. This was accordingly done. The assassin cut off the head of Melor, and carried it to the duke. He had murdered the boy in the depths of the forest, whither he had enticed him, and as he was making his way through the thicket lie chanced to look back his eyes being attracted by a great light. And lo, all around the body stood a company of angels, robed in white albs, and holding in their hands tapers which glistered as golden stars. When he had gone a little further, the wretched murderer was overcome by parching thirst, and almost fainting on his path he cried out in an agony: “Wretched man that I am! I die for a draught of cool water.” Then the head of the murdered boy spoke to him, saving: “Cerialtan, strike upon the grass of this lawn with thy stick, and a fountain shall spring forth for thy need.” The man did so, and having quenched his thirst at the miraculous well, be went swiftly on his way. Now when the head was brought into the presence of Duke Rivold this evil tyrant smote it with his hand, but he instantly sickened, and three days afterwards he died. The head was then taken back to the body and was honourably buried with it. And not many years afterwards the relics were translated with great worship to the town of Amesbury, which is in Wiltshire.
In his Histoire hagiologique du diocèse de Valence, l’abbé Nadal tells us that when S. Paulus succeeded S. Torquatus as bishop of St-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, shortly after his consecration a certain Jew, a common usurer, came up to him in the streets of the city and loudly demanded a large sum of money which, as he said, had been lent to Bishop Torquatus, the predecessor of Paulus. In order to ascertain whether this claim was equitable or not, S. Paulus, robed in full pontificals, visited the tomb of S. Torquatus in the cathedral, and touching the place of sepulture with his crozier requested Torquatus to declare whether the money had been repaid or no. The voice of the dead bishop immediately answered from the grave: “Verily hath the Jew received his money, returned unto him at the appointed time, with interest, ay, and double interest.” The chronicles tell us that this undoubtedly took place, for many were present and bear witness that they both saw and heard these things.
Eugippius, who succeeded the martyr S. Vigilius in the see of Trent, has left us a life of S. Severinus, who was one of the last Christian bishops among the Roman inhabitants of the district of the Danube, immediately before the withdrawal to Italy. On one occasion S. Severinus having watched all night by the bier of a priest named Silvanus bade him at dawn once more speak to his brethren who longed to hear his voice, for he had been an eloquent and fervent preacher. Silvanus opened his eyes and the saint asked him if he wished to return to life. But the dead man answered: “My father, detain me no longer here I pray thee, nor delay for me that hour of everlasting rest which those who sleep in Jesus most sweetly enjoy.” And then, closing his eyes, in this world he woke no more.
This happening must at once bring to mind the famous miracle of S. Philip Neri, who was the spiritual director of the Massimo family. In 1583 the son and heir of Prince Fabrizio Massimo died of a fever at the age of fourteen, and when, amid the lamentations of the bereaved parents and the weeping relatives, S. Philip entered the room, he laid his hand upon the brow of the youth, and called him by name. Upon this the dead boy returned to life, opened his eyes, and sat up in the bed. “Art thou unwilling to die?” asked the saint. “No,” sighed the youth gently. “Art thou resigned to yield they soul?” “I am.” “Then go,” said S. Philip. “Va, che sii benedetto, e prega Dio per noi!” The boy sank back on his pillow with a heavenly smile, and a second time expired. On 16th March every year a festa is held in the family chapel within Palazzo Massimo in memory of this miracle.
It is related in the life of S. Theodosius the Cenobite, written by Bishop Theodore of Petra (536), that a large sepulchre having been made near the monastery, S. Theodosius said: “The tomb is now finished indeed, but who will be the first among us to occupy it?” Whereupon a certain monk named Basil, falling upon his knees, prayed that this honour might be his, and within the space of about a month, without pain or disease, he passed away as a man who takes his rest in sleep. Yet for full forty days afterwards S. Theodosius, at matins and at the other hours, saw the dead monk still occupying his place in the choir. It was he alone who saw the monk, but others, especially one Aetius, heard his voice. Whereupon Theodosius prayed that all might see the apparition of Basil, and assuredly the eyes of all were opened so that they beheld him in his wonted place in their midst. When Aetius would joyfully have embraced the figure it vanished from his touch, saying the words: “Hold, Aetius. God be with You, my father and my brethren. But me shall ye see and hear no more.”
It was the custom of S. Gregory, Bishop of Langres, to rise from his bed at night, when everyone else was fast in repose, and going quietly into the church to spend several hours at his devotions. This was long unobserved, but it so happened that one night one of the brethren lay awake, and he observed the bishop on his way down the corridors. From curiosity he stole softly after him, and presently saw him enter the Baptistry, the door of which seemed to open to him of its own accord. For some time there was silence; and then the voice of the bishop was heard chanting aloud the antiphon, when immediately afterwards many voices took up the psalm, and the singing, decani and cantori, continued for the space of three hours. “I, for my part;” says S. Gregory of Tours, “think that the Saints, whose Relics were there venerated and preserved, revealed themselves to the blessed man, and hymned praises to God in company with him.”
Examples of later date when under exceptional conditions dead persons have returned to life, are not infrequently to be found. S. Stanislaus the Martyr, Bishop of Cracow, had bought for church purposes very ample estates from one Peter. This man died some few years afterwards, whereupon his heirs claimed the property. They had discovered that the bishop had taken no acquittance, and accordingly as he had no document to show in proof of his right, the courts ordered him to return the land to the plaintiffs. But the saint went to the tomb of the deceased, and having touched the body he bade it to arise and follow him. Peter instantly obeyed the summons, and this pale and ghastly figure accompanied the bishop into the King’s Court. Whilst all trembled and were sore amazed Stanislaus said to the Judge: “Behold, my lord, here is Peter himself who sold me the estate. He has come even from the grave to vindicate the truth.” In hollow accents the phantom or corpse confirmed the statement of the bishop in every particular, and fearful as they sat the judges reversed their former decision. When this bad been done the figure seemed to fade away from their sight. The body had returned to the tomb, and here it lay decently composed, having yielded up his breath a second time.
A not dissimilar incident is said to have occurred in the life of S. Antony of Padua, whose father was accused at Lisbon of having been privy to the death of a certain nobleman, even if he had not actually slain him, as was implied. The saint, having requested that the body of the murdered man should be brought into court, solemnly adjured him saying: “Is it true that my father in any way consented unto or contrived thy assassination?” With a deep groan the body made reply: “In no wise is the accusation true. It is altogether false and framed of malice.” Whereupon the magistrates convinced by this positive declaration set free the prisoner.
On 9th March, 1463, S. Catherine of Bologna, a Poor Clare, died at the convent there, and so great was her reputation for sanctity that rather more than a fortnight after her burial, her body was disinterred and placed in the church upon an open bier for the veneration of all. The vast, crowds who came were struck with the fact that her face retained a fresh and glowing colour, far more lively, indeed, than during her life. Amongst others who visited the remains was a little maid of eleven years old by name Leonora Poggi. As out of reverence she stood at some distance, it was noticed that the body not only opened wide its eyes, but made a sign with the hand, saying: “Leonora, come hither.” The girl advanced trembling, but S. Catherine added: “Do not be afraid; you will be a professed nun of this community, and all in the convent will love you. Nay, more, you shall be the guardian of this, my body.” Eight years afterwards Leonora refused the hand of a wealthy suitor of high rank, and took the veil in the house of Corpus Domini. Here she lived for no less than five and fifty years, reaching an extreme old age with the love and respect of the whole sisterhood. She was indeed for half a century the guardian of the most holy relic of the body of S. Catherine.
Immediately after the death of that great ecstatica, S. Maria Maddelena de Pazzi, who expired 25th May, 1607, the body of the holy Carmelite was honourably laid upon a catafalque in the nuns’ church of S. Maria degli Angeli, whilst all Florence thronged thither to kiss her feet and touch were it but her raiment with medals and rosaries. Among the first who visited the convent and who were favoured by being allowed to venerate the body before the multitude won admittance was a certain pious Jesuit, Father Seripandi, and in his company chanced to be a young man of noble family whom he was striving to turn from the most dissolute courses. Whilst the good priest knelt in prayer the youth scanned intently the countenance of the Saint, but she frowning slightly gently turned away her face as if offended at his gaze. He stood abashed and dumbfounded, when Father Seripandi said: “Verily, my son, this Saint would not suffer your eyes to behold her, inasmuch as your life is so licentious and lewd.” “It is true,” cried the young man, “but God helping me I will amend my ways in every particular.” He did so, and before long was distinguished by no ordinary piety and observance of religion.
Similar cases of the resuscitation of the dead, corpses that arose from their graves, the movement of dead bodies, might indeed be almost indefinitely multiplied. And it is not at all impossible that as these extraordinary circumstances happened in the lives of the Saints, so they would be imitated and parodied by the demon, for, as Tertullian has said, “diabolus simia Dei.”
It has been well remarked that man has always held the dead in respect and in fear. The Christian Faith, moreover, has its seal upon the sanctity of death. Even from the very infancy of humanity the human intelligence, inspired by some shadow of the divine truth, has refused to believe that those whom death has taken are ought but absent for a while, parted but not for ever. It has been argued, and not without sound sense, that primitive man desired to keep the dead, to preserve the mortal shell, and what are the tomb, the cave of prehistoric man, the dolmen of the Gaulish chieftain, the pyramid of Pharaoh, but the final dwelling-place, the last home? As for the actual corpse, this still had some being, it yet existed in the primitive idea. There can be nothing more horrible, no crime more repellent, than the profanation of the dead.
Dr. Épaulard says: “Les vraies et graves profanations, de veritables crimes, reconnaissent pour mobile les grandes forces impulsives qui font agir l’être humain. Je nommerai cela vampirisme, quitte à expliquer par la suite l’origine de cette appellation.
“L’instinct sexuel, le plus perturbateur de tons les instincts, doit être cité en première ligne comme, l’un des facteurs les plus importants du vampirisme.
“La faim, besoin fondamental de tout être vivant, aboutit dans quelques circonstances à des actes du vampirisme. On pourait citer maint naufrage et maint siège célèbre on la nécessité fit loi. Le cannibalisme du bien des tribes savages n’a pas d’autre origine que la faim à satisfaire.
Chez l’homme se développe énormément l’instinct de propriété. D’où le travail, d’où, chez certains, le vol. Nous venons de voir que la coutume de tons les temps fut d’orner les morts de ce qu’ils aimaient à posséder. Les voleurs n’ont pas hésité à dépouiller les cadavres. . . . Les parlements et les tribunaux eurent assez souvent à châtier des voleurs sacrilèges.”
Vampirism, then, in its extended and more modern sense, may be understood to mean any profanation of a dead body, and it must accordingly be briefly considered under this aspect. “On doit, entendre par vampirisme toute profanation de cadavres, quel que soit son mode et quelle que soit son origine.”
In France there have been many cases of sacriligious theft from the dead. In 1664 Jean Thomas was broken on the wheel for having disinterred the body of a woman and stolen the jewels in which she was buried; and well-nigh a century before, in 1572, a grave-digger Jean Regnault was condemned to the galleys for having stolen jewels and even winding-sheets from corpses. In 1823, Pierre Renaud was sentenced at Riom for having opened a tomb with intent to steal. Not many years after, the police captured the band “de la rue Mercadier,” seven ruffians who made it their business to violate graves and the vaults of rich families and who thus had stolen gems and gold to the value of no less than 300,000 francs. It is well-known that the notorious Ravachol forced open the tomb of Madame de Rochetaillée in the expectation that she had been buried in her jewels, but found nothing of this kind, as the lady was merely wrapped in her shroud of lawn.
On 12th July, 1663, the Parliament of Paris heavily sentenced the son of the sexton of the cemetery attached to Saint-Sulpice. This young wretch was in the habit of exhuming corpses and selling them to the doctors. In the seventeenth century the Faculty of Paris was allowed one dead body a year, and the famous physician, Mauriccau lay under grave suspicion of having illegally procured bodies to dissect for his anatomical studies.
In England the Resurrection Men added a new terror to death. Even the bodies of the wealthy, when every precaution had been taken, were hardly safe against the burgling riflers of vault and tomb, whilst to the poor it was a monstrous horror as they lay on their sick beds to know that their corpses were ever in danger of being exhumed by ghouls, carted to the dissection theatre, sold to ‘prentice doctors to hack and carve. In his novel, The Mysteries of London, G. W. M. Reynolds gives a terrible, but perhaps not too highly coloured, picture of these loathsome thefts. Irregular practitioners and rival investigators in the anatomy schools were always ready to buy without asking too many questions. Body-snatching became a regular trade of wide activities. One of the wretches who plied the business most successfully even added a word to the English language. William Burke, of the firm Burke and Hare, who was hanged 28th January, 1829, began his career in November, 1827. This seems to have commenced almost accidentally. Hare was the keeper of a low lodging-house in an Edinburgh slum, and here died an old soldier owing a considerable amount for his rent. With the help of Burke, another of his guests, they carried the corpse to Dr. Robert Knox, of 10 Surgeon’s Square, who promptly paid £7 10s. for it. The Scotch had the utmost horror of Resurrection Men, and bodies were not always easy to procure, although the vile Knox boasted that he could always get the goods he required. It is said that relations would take it in turns to stand guard over newly-dug graves, and the precaution was not unnecessary. Another lodger at Hare’s fell ill, and it was decided that he should be disposed of in the same way. But he lingered, and so Burke smothered him with a pillow, Hare holding the victim’s legs. Dr. Knox paid £10 for the remains. Since money is so quickly earned they do not hesitate to supply the wares. A friendless beggar woman; her grandson, a dumb-mute; a sick Englishman; a prostitute named Mary Paterson, and many more were enticed to the lodgings and murdered. Quite callously Burke confessed his method. He used to lie on the body while Hare held nose and mouth; “in a very few minutes the victims would make no resistance, but would convulse and make a rumbling noise in their bellies for some time. After they had ceased crying and making resistance we let them die by themselves.” Dr. Knox contracted that he would pay £10 in winter and £8 in summer for every corpse produced. At last the whole foul business comes to light.
Up the close and down the stair,
But and ben with Burke and Hare,
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox the boy that buys the beef.
So sang the street urchins. Burke confessed, and was hanged. Hare turned King’s evidence, but it would seem that was hardly needed, for the suspicion which connected these ruffians with the numerous disappearances was overwhelming from the first, and soon became certainty. It was a grave scandal that both the villains and their paramours, together with Dr. Knox, who, in spite of his denials, undoubtedly was well aware of the whole circumstances, were not all five sent to the gallows. It is true that the mob endeavoured to catch them and would have torn them to pieces. To the mob they should have been duly thrown. That they escaped by some legal quibble or flaw speaks ill indeed for the age.
That species of Vampirism known as Necrophagy or Necrophagism, which is Cannibalism, is very often connected with the religious rites of savage people and also finds a place in the sabbat of the witches. Sir Spenser St. John, in his description of Haiti, gives curious details of the Voodoo cult when cannibalism mingles with the crudest debauchery. Among the Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia the cannibals (Hamatsas) are the most powerful of all the Secret Societies. They tear corpses asunder and devour them, bite pieces out of living people, and formerly they ate slaves who had been killed for their banquet. The Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands practise a very similar religion of necrophagy. Among the ancient Mexicans the body of the youth whom they sacrificed in the character of the god Tetzcatlipoca was chopped up into small pieces and distributed amongst the priests and nobles as a sacred food. In Australia the Bibinga tribe cut up the bodies of the dead and eat them in order to secure the reincarnation of the deceased. The same ceremony was observed by the Arunta. Casper, Vierteljahrschrift, viii (p. 163) mentions the case of an idiot who killed and ate a baby in order to impart to himself the vitality of the child. It should be remarked that necrophagy enters very largely into the passions of the werewolf, and there are innumerable examples of lycanthropists who have devoured human flesh, and slain men to feed upon their bodies. Boguet recounts that in the year 1538 four persons charged with sorcery, Jacques Bocquet, Claude Jamprost, Clauda Jamguillaume and Thievenne Paget, confessed that they had transformed themselves into wolves and in this shape had killed and eaten several children. Françoise Secretain, Pierre Gandillon and George Gandillon also confessed that they had assumed the form of wolves and caught several children whom they had stripped naked and then devoured. The children’s clothes were found without rent or tear in the fields, “tellement qu’il sembloit bien que ce fust vne personne, qui les leur eut deuestus.”
A remarkable instance of necrophagy which caused a great noise in the eighteenth century is said to have given de Sade a model for Minski, “l’ermite des Appenins,” in Juliette, iii (p. 313). The horrible abode of this Muscovite giant is amply described. The tables and chairs are made of human bones, and the rooms are hung with skeletons. This monster was suggested by Blaise Ferrage, or Seyé, who in 1779 and 1780 lived in the Pyrenees, and captured men and women whom he devoured.
One of the most terrible and extraordinary cases of cannibalism was that of Sawney Beane, the son of peasants in East Lothian, who was born in a village at no great distance from Edinburgh towards the close of the fourteenth century. He and a girl in the same district wandered away in company, and took up their abode in a cave on the coast of Galloway. It is said this cavern extended nearly a mile under the sea. Here they lived by robbing travellers, and carrying off their bodies to their lair they cooked and ate them. Eight sons and six daughters they gendered, and the whole tribe used to set forth upon marauding expeditions, sometimes attacking as many as five and six persons travelling in company. Grandchildren were born to this savage, and it is said that for more than five and twenty years these cannibals killed men on the highway and dragging the prey to their lair fed upon human flesh. Suspicion was often aroused, and even panic ensued, but so skilfully had nature concealed the opening to the cave that it was long ere the gang could be traced and captured. The whole family were put to death amid the most horrible torments in the year 1435 at Edinburgh. It is probable that in the first place Beane and his female companion were driven to necrophagy by starvation, and the horrid craving for human flesh once tasted became a mad passion. The children born into such conditions would be cannibalistic as a matter of course.
Sawney Beane was made the subject of a romance–Sawney Beane, the Man-eater of Midlothian, by Thomas Preskett Prest, who, between the years 1840 and 1860 was the most famous and most popular purveyor of the “shocker” which circulated in immense numbers. Prest’s greatest success was Sweeney Todd, a character who was once supposed actually to have lived, but who is almost certainly fiction. It will be remembered that Todd’s victims disappeared through a revolving trap-door into the cellars of his house. Their bodies, when stripped and rifled, were handed over to be used by Mrs. Lovett, who resided next door and kept a pie-shop which was greatly frequented. Once it so happened that the supply ran short for a while, as Todd for some reason was unable to dispatch his customers, and mutton was actually used in the pies. Complaints were made that the quality of the pies had deteriorated, the meat had lost its usual succulence and flavour.
In a manuscript, which has never been printed, written about 1625 by the brother of Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland, George Percy, who was twice Deputy-Governor of Virginia, and entitled A Trewe Relatyon of the Proceedings and Occurrences of Momente which have Happened in Virginia from . . . 1609 untill 1612, details are given of the terrible conditions under which the early colonists had to live. Starvation sometimes faced them, and not only were corpses then dug out of graves and eaten, but “one of our colony murdered his wife . . . and salted her for his food, the same not being discovered before he had eaten part thereof, for which cruel and inhuman fact I adjudged him to be executed, the acknowledgment of the deed being enforced from him by torture, having hung by the thumbs, with weights at his feet a quarter of an hour before he would confess the same.”
As is often recorded in history during long and terrible sieges, starvation has driven the wretched citizens of a beleagured town to devour human flesh. An example of this may be found in the Bible, which tells us of the horrors when Jerusalem was encompassed by Benadad of Syria during the reign of King Joram (B.C. 892), Kings IV (A. V. Kings II), vi, 24-30: “Congregauit Benadad rex Syriae, uniuersum exercitum suum, et ascendit, et obsidebat Samariam. Factaque est fames magna in Samaria: et tamdiu obsessa est, donec uenundaretur caput asini octoginta argenteis, et quarta pars cabi stercoris columbarum quinque argenteis. Cumque rex Israel transiret per murum, mulier quaedam exclamauit ad eum; dicens: Salua me domine mi rex. Qui ait: Non te saluat Dominus: unde te possum saluare? de area, uel de torculari? Dixitque ad eam rex: Quid tibi uis? Quae respondit: Mulier ista dixit mihi: Da filium tuum, ut comedamus eum hodie, et filium meum comedemus eras. Coximus ergo filium meum, et comedimus. Dixique ei die altera: Da filium tuum ut comedamus eum. Quae abscondit filium suum. Quod cum audisset rex, scidit uestimenta sua, et transibat per murum. Uiditque omnis populus cilicium, quo uestitus erat ad carnem intrinsecus.”
(Benadad king of Syria gathered together all his army, and went up, and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria; and so long did the siege continue, till the head of an ass was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cabe of pigeon’s dung, for five pieces of silver. And as the king of Israel was passing by the wall, a certain woman cried out to him, saying: Save me, my lord O king. And he said: If the Lord doth not save thee how can I save thee? Out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? And the king said to her: What aileth thee? And she answered: This woman said to me: give thy son, that we may eat him to-day, and we will eat my son to-morrow. So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day: Give thy son that we may eat him. And she hath hid her son. When the king heard this, he rent his garments, and passed by upon the wall. And all the people saw the hair-cloth which he wore within next to his flesh.)
W. A. F. Browne, sometime Commissioner for Lunacy in Scotland, has a very valuable paper Necrophilism, which was read at the Quarterly Meeting of the Medico-Psychological Association, Glasgow, 21st May, 1874. He points out that in Ireland, under the savagery of Queen Elizabeth, when the rich pastures were burned into a wilderness, “the miserable poor . . . out of every corner of the woods and glens came creeping forth upon thin hands, for their legs could not bear them, they looked like anatomes of death; they spoke like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat the dead carrions; happy when they could find them; yea, they did eat one another soon after; insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their very graves.” During the Siege of Jerusalem by Titus, during the Plague in Italy in 450, cannibalism was rife. During a famine in France in the eleventh century “human flesh was openly exposed for sale in the market-place of Tournus.” A man had built a hut in the forest of Macon and here he murdered all whom he could entice within his doors, afterwards roasting the bodies and feeding on them. Browne says that there came under his notice in the West Indies two females who frequented graveyards at night. It does not appear that they exhumed bodies but they used to sleep among the tombs, and these dark wanderings, as might be expected, thoroughly scared the native population. He also adds: “The abodes of the dead have been visited, violated; the exhumed corpses, or parts of them, have been kissed, caressed, or appropriated, and carried to the homes of the ravisher, although belonging to total strangers.” He also says: “I was much struck, when frequenting the Parisian asylums as a student, with the numbers of anæmic, dejected females who obtruded upon me the piteous confession that they had eaten human flesh, devoured corpses, that they were vampires, etc.” Dr. Legrande du Saulle says that in many members of a Scottish family there appeared connate necrophagism. Prochaska mentions a woman of Milan also tempted children to her house and ate them at her leisure. A girl of fourteen, belonging to Puy de Drôme, is described as having displayed on all occasions an extraordinary avidity for human blood and as sucking greedily recently inflicted wounds. The brigand Gaetano Mammone, who long terrorized South Italy, was accustomed as a regular habit to drain with his lips the blood of his unhappy captives. In another instance a man who dwelt apart in a cave in the South of France seized a girl of twelve years old, strangled her, violated the corpse, and then inflicting deep gashes upon it with a knife drank the blood and devoured the flesh. He kept the remains in his retreat but subsequently interred them. He was judged insane.
In the sixteenth century there dwelt in Hungary a terrible ogress, the Countess Elisabeth Ba’thory, who for her necro-sadistic abominations was known as “la comtesse hongroise sanguinaire.” The comte de Charolais (1700-1760), “de lugubre mémoire,” loved nothing better than to mingle murder with his debauches, and many of the darkest scenes in Juliette but reproduce the orgies he shared with his elder brother, the Duke of Burgundy.
Dr. Lacassagne, in his study Vacher l’éventreur et les crime’s sadiques, Lyon-Paris, 1899, has collected many cases of necro-sadism. Joseph Vacher, who was born at Beaufort (Isère), 16th November, 1869, was guilty of a series of crimes which lasted from May, 1894, to August, 1897. He was tramping during those years up and down France, immediately after his release as cured from an asylum where be had been confined for attempting to rape a young servant who refused his hand in marriage. Vacher’s first crime seems to have been committed 19th May, 1894, when in a lonely place he killed a working girl of twenty-one. He strangled her and then violated the body. on 20th November of the same year he throttled a farmer’s daughter aged sixteen at Vidauban (Var), violated the body and mutilated it with his knife. In the same way on 1st September, 1895 at Bénonces (Ain), he killed a lad of sixteen, Victor Portalier, and slashed open the stomach. Three weeks later he strangled a shepherd boy of fourteen, Pierre Massot-Pellet, and mutilated the body. In all some eleven murders with violation were traced to Vacher, the last being that of a shepherd lad aged thirteen, Pierre Laurent, at Courzieu (Rhône), 18th June, 1897. The body was indescribably hacked and bitten. Probably this maniac was guilty of many more assaults which did not come to light.
In England the sensation caused by the mysterious mutilations by Jack the Ripper will not easily be forgotten. The first body was found at Whitechapel, 1st December, 1887; the second, which had thirty-nine wounds, 7th August, 1888. On 31st of the same month a woman’s corpse was found horribly mutilated; 8th September a fourth body bearing the same marks, a fifth on 30th September; a sixth on 30th November. On the 1st June, 1889, human remains were dredged from the Thames; 17th July a body still warm was discovered in a Whitechapel slum; on 10th September of the same year the last body.
The classic instance of “vampirism,” Serjeant Bertrand, will be fully dealt with in a later chapter.
Andréas Bickel killed women after having both raped and mutilated them in an indescribable manner. Dr. Épaulard quoting from Feuerbach, Ahtenmœsigen Darstellung merkwürdzer Verbrechen says that Bichel declared: “Je puis dire qu’en ouvrant la poitrine, j’étais tellement, excité que je tressaillais et que j’aurais voulu trancher un morceau de chair pour le manger.” In the year 1825 a vine-dresser named Léger, a stalwart fellow of four and twenty, left his home to find work. He wandered about the woods for a week or more, and was then seized with a terrible craving to eat human flesh. “Il rencontre une petite fille de douze ans, la viole, lui déchire les organes génitaux, lui arrache le coeur, le mange et boit son sang, puis enterre le cadavre. Arrêté peu après, il fait tranquillement l’aveu de son crime, est condamné et executé.”
A famous case was that of Vincenzo Verzeni, a necrophagist and necrosadist, who was born at Bottanuco of an ailing and impoverished stock and arrested in 1872 for the following crimes: an attempt to strangle his cousin Marianna, a girl of twelve years old; a similar attempt to throttle Signora Aruffi; aged twenty-seven; a similar attempt upon Signora Gala; the murder of Giovanna Motta (les viscères et les parties génitales sont arrachées du corps, les cuisses lacérées, un mollet detaché. Le cadavre est nu); the murder and mutilation of Signora Frizoni, aged twenty-eight; an attempt to strangle his cousin Maria Previtali, aged nineteen. Whilst he was committing these crimes “pour prolonger le plaisir, il mutila ses victimes, leur suça le sang, et détacha même des lambeaux pour les manger.”
Those vampirish atrocities which are urged by sexual mania are generally classified as necrophilia and necrosadism–“La nécrophilie est la profanation qui tend à toute union sexuelle avec le cadavre: coït normal ou sodomique, masturbation, etc. Le nécrosadisme est la mutilation des cadavres destinée à provoquer un éréthisme génital. Le nécrosadisme diffère du sadisme en ce qu’il ne recherche pas la douleur, mais la simple destruction d’un corps humain. Les nécrosadisme aboutit parfois à des actes de cannibalisme qui peuvent prendre le nom de nécrophagie . . . . Nécrophiles et nécrosadiques sont la plupart du temps des dégénéres impulsifs on debiles mentaux, ce que prouvent lour vie antérieure et leurs tares héréditaires. Ce sont en outre bien souvent des hommes auxquels un contact professionel avec le cadavre a fait perdre toute répugnance (fossoyeurs, prêtres, étudiants en médicine).” The word nécrophilie seems, to have been first suggested by a Belgian alienist of the nineteenth century, Dr. Guislain; nécrosadisme is used by Dr. Épaulard.
Necrophilia was not unknown in ancient Egypt, and was carefully provided against as Herodotus tells us, Book II, lxxxix: Τὰσδε γυναῖκας τῶν ἐπιφάνεων ἀνδρῶν, ἐπεὰν τελευτήσωσι, οὐ παραυτίκα διδοῦσι ταριχεύειν οὐδὶ ὁ?`σαι ἀ?’ν ἑ?`ωσι εὐειδέες κάρτα καὶ λόγου πλεῦνος γυναῖκες?: ἀλλ᾽ὲπεὰν τριταῖαι ἡ?` τεταρτραῖαι γένωνται, οὑ?’τω παραδιδοῦσι τοῖσι ταριχεύουσι· το̃ῦτο δε ποιεῦσι οὐ?’τω τοῦδε εἱ?’νεκεν, ἱ?’να μὴ σφι οῖ ταριχευταὶ μίσγωνται τῇσι γυναιξί?: λαμφθῆναι γαρ τινὰ φασὶ μισγόμενον νεκρῷ προσφάτῳ γυναικός κατειπεῖν δὲ τὸν ὁμότεχνον· Wives of noblemen and women of great beauty and quality are not given over at once to the embalmers; but only after they have been dead three or four days; and this is done in order that the embalmers may not have carnal connexion with the corpse. For it is said that one was discovered in the act of having intercourse with a fair woman newly dead, and was denounced by his fellow-workman.”
It was said that after Periander, tyrant of Corinth, had slain his wife he entered her bed as a husband. In the Praxis Rerum Criminalium of Damhouder, at the end of the sixteenth century we have: “Casu incidit in memoriam execrandus ille libidinis ardor, quo quidam feminam cognoscunt mortuam.”
A very large number of cases of necrophilia has been collected by various authorities, of which it will suffice to give but a few examples. “En 1787, près de Dijon, à Cîteaux, un mien aïeul, qui était médecin de cette célèbre abbaye, sortait un jour du convent pour aller voir, dans une cabane située au milieu des bois, la femme d’un bûcheron que la veille il avait trouvée mourante. Le mari, occupé à de rudes travaux, loin de sa cabane, se trouvait forcé d’abandonner sa femme qui n’avait ni enfants, ni parents ni voisins autour d’elle. En ouvrant la porte du logis, mon grand-père fut frappé d’un spectacle monstrueux. Un moine quêteur accomplissait l’acte du coït sur le corps de la femme qui n’était plus qu’un cadavre.”
In 1849 the following case was reported: “Il venait de mourir une jeune personne de seize ans qui appartenait a une des premières familles de la ville. Une partie de la nuit s’était écoulée lorsqu’on entendit dans la chambre de la morte le bruit d’un meuble qui tombait. La mère, dont l’appartement était voisin, s’empressa d’accourir. En entrant, elle apperçut un homme qui s’échappait en chemise du lit de sa fille. Son effroi lui fit pousser de grands cris qui réunirent autour d’elle toutes les personnes de la maison. On saisit l’inconnu qui ne répondait que confusément aux questions qu’on lui posait. La première pensée fut que c’était un voleur, mais son habillement, certains signes dirigèrent les recherches d’un autre côté et l’on reconnut bientôt que la jeune fille avait été déflorée et polluée plusiers fois. L’instruction apprit que la garde avait été gagnée à prix d’argent: et bientôt d’autres révélations prouvèrent que ce malheureux, qui avait reçu une éducation distinguée, jouissait d’une très grande aisance et était lui-même d’une bonne famille n’en était pas à son coup d’essai. Les débats montrérent qu’il s’était glissé un assez grand nombre de fois dans le lit de jeunes filles mortes et s’y était livré à sa détestable passion.”
In 1857 the case of Alexandre Siméon, a necrophilist who was always feeble-minded–he was born in 1829, a foundling–and who eventually became wholly insane, attracted considerable attention. His habits were of the most revolting nature, and “Siméon, trompant la surveillance, s’introduisait dans la salle de morts quand il savait que le corps d’une femme venait d’y être déposé. Là, il se livrait aux plus indignes profanations. Il se vanta publiquement de ces faits.”
Dr. Morel, Gazette hebdomadaire de médicine et de chirurgie, 13th March, 1857, relates: “Un acte semblable à, celui de Siméon a été commis à la suite d’un pari monstrueux, par un élève d’une école secondaire de médicine, en présence de ses camarades. Il est bon d’ajouter que cot individu, quelques années plus tard, est mort aliéné.”
Dr. Moreau, of Tours, in his famous study Aberrations du sens génésique, 1880, quoting from the Evénement, 26th April, 1875, relates an extraordinary case at Paris in which the culprit, L—–, was a married man and the father of six children. The wife of a neighbour having died, L—–undertook to watch in the death chamber, whilst the family were arranging the details of the interment. “Alors une idée incompréhensible, hors nature, passa par l’esprit du veilleur de la morte. il souffla, les bougies allumées près du lit, et ce cadavre, glacé, raidi, déjà, au décomposition fut le proie de ce vampire sans nom.” The profanation was almost immediately discovered owing to the disorder of the bed and other signs. L—– fled, but at the instance of Dr. Pousson and the husband, who was half mad with grief and rage, he was arrested and inquiry made. A quel délire a-t-il obéi?
In Les causes criminelles et mondaines, 1886, Albert Bataille gives an account of Henri Blot, “un assez joli garçon de vingt-six ans, à figure un peu blème. Ses cheveux sont ramenés sur le front, à la chien. Il porte à la lèvre supérieure une fine moustache soigneusement effilée. Ses yeux, profondement noirs, enfoncés dans l’orbite, sont clignotants. Il a quelque chose de félin dans l’ensemble de la physionomie; quelque chosi aussi de l’oiseau de nuit.” “Le 25 mars, 1886, dans la soirée, entre 11 heures et minuit Blot escalade une petite porte donnant dans le cimetière Saint-Ouen, se dirige vers la fosse commune, enlève la cloison qui retient la terre sur la dernierè bière de la rangée. Une croix piquée au-dessus de la fosse lui apprend quo le cercueil est le corps d’une jeune femme de dix-huit ans, Fernando Méry, dite Carmanio, figurante de théâtre, enterrée la veille.
“Il déplace la bière, l’ouvre, retire le corps de la jeune fille qu’il emporte à l’extremité de la tranchée, sur le remblai. Là, il pose, par précaution, ses genoux sur des feuilles de papier blanc enlevées à des bouquets et pratique le colt sur le cadavre. Ensuite, il s’endort probablement, et ne se réveille que pour sortir du cimitière assez à temps pour ne pas être vu, mais trop tard pour replacer le corps.” A curious point is that when the profanation was discovered a man named Duhamel wrote a letter avowing that he had committed the violation. He was confined at Mazas, since he gave such full details that he was truly believed to have been guilty. Whilst under the observation of two doctors he proved to be of unsound mind. On 12th June Blot again violated a tomb, he fell asleep, was discovered and arrested. On 27th August, when brought to trial, and the judge expressed his horror of such acts, he replied callously: “Que voulez-vous, chacun a ses passions. Moi le cadavre, c’est la mienne!” Dr. Motet was unable to certify him insane, and he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Dr. Tiberius of Athens communicated the following case. A young medical student, some seven years ago, made his way at night into the mortuary chapel where lay the body of a beautiful actress who had just died, and for whom he had long nourished an insensate passion. Covering the cold clay with passionate kisses he violated the corpse of his inamorata. It should be remarked that the body had been dressed in the richest costume and covered with jewels, as it was to be carried thus in the funeral procession.
Necrophilia is said to be common in certain Eastern countries. “En Turquie, dans les endroits où les cimetières sont mal gardés, on a souvent vu, parâit-il d’abjects individus, la lie du peuple, contenter sur des cadavres qu’ils exhumaient leurs désirs sexuels.”
The case of Victor Ardisson, who was called by the papers “le vampire du Muy,” and who was arrested in 1901 upon multiplied charges of the exhumation and violation of dead bodies, was studied in great detail by Dr. Épaulard, who summed up his verdict in these words: “Ardisson est un débile mental inconscient des actes qu’il accomplit. Il a violé des cadavres parce que, fossoyeur, il lui était facile de se procurer des apparences de femme sous forme de cadavres auxquels il prêtait une sorte d’existence.”
The motive of the Leopold and Loeb case which occurred at Chicago, and which was so widely discussed throughout America in 1924 was necrosadism. Having killed the unfortunate boy the two wretched degenerates violated the body. It may not untruly be said that this morbid crime sprang in the first place from a false philosophy. With ample money at their command, their minds rotted with the backwash of Freud, these two young supermen conceived themselves above all laws. They had exhausted every erotic emotion, and sought something new to thrill their jaded nerves. These vilenesses and abominations would be ended by a return to the true philosophy, the lore of the Schoolmen and Doctors.
There are not unknown–in fact there are not uncommon–amazing cases of what may be called “mental necrophilia,” a morbid manifestation for which suitable provision is made in the more expensive and select houses of accomodation.
In his study La Corruption Fin-de-Siècle Léo Taxil remarks: “Une passion sadiste des plus effrayantes est celle des détraqués auxquels on a donné le nom. de ‘vampire.’ Ces insensés veulent violer des cadavres. Cette dépravation du sens génésique, dit le docteur Paul Moreau de Tours constitue le degré le plus extrême des déviations de l’appetit vénérien.” He also speaks of “chambres funèbres” as being not uncommon in certain brothels. “D’ordinaire, on dispose, dans une pièce de l’établissement des tentures noires, un lit mortuaire, en un mot, tout un appareil lugubre. Mais l’un des principaux lupanars de Paris a, en permanence, une chambre spéciale, destinée aux clients qui désirent tâter du vampirisme.
“Les murs de la chambre sout tendus de satin noir, parsemi de larmes d’argent. Au milieu est un catafalque, très riche. Une femme, paraissant inerte, est là, couchée dans un cercueil découvert, la tête reposant sur un coussin de velours. Tout autour, de longs cierges, plantés dans de grandes chandeliers d’argent. Aux quatre coins de la pièce, des urnes funéraires et des cassolettes, brûlant, avec des parfums, un mélange d’alcool et de sel gris, dont les flammes blafardes, qui éclairent le catafalque, donnent à la chair de la pseudo-morte la couleur cadavérique.
“Le fou luxurieux, qui a payé dix louis pour cette séance, est introduit. Il y a un prie-dieu oû’il s’ agenouille. Un harmonium, placé dans un cabinet voisin, joue le Dies irae ou le De Profundis. Alors, aux accords de cette musique de funérailles le vampire se rue sur la fille qui simule la défunte et qui a ordre de ne pas faire un mouvement, quoiqu’il advienne.”
It might not unreasonably be thought that the catafalque, the bier, the black pall, would arouse solemn thoughts and kill desire, but on the contrary this funeral pomp and the trappings of the dead are considered in certain circles the most elegant titillation, the most potent and approved of genteel aphrodisiacs.
The Vampire, His Kith and Kin, by Montague Summers,