His kith and kin

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by Montague Summers

London, K. Paul Trench, Trubner [1928]


IN all the darkest pages of the malign supernatural there is no more terrible tradition than that of the Vampire, a pariah even among demons. Foul are his ravages; gruesome and seemingly barbaric are the ancient and approved methods by which folk must rid themselves of this hideous pest. Even to-day in certain quarters of the world, in remoter districts of Europe itself, Transylvania, Slavonia, the isles and mountains of Greece, the peasant will take the law into his own bands and utterly destroy the carrion who--as it is yet firmly believed--at night will issue from his unhallowed grave to spread the infection of vampirism throughout the countryside. Assyria knew the vampire long ago, and he lurked amid the primaeval forests of Mexico before Cortes came. He is feared by the Chinese, by the Indian, and the Malay alike; whilst Arabian story tells us again and again of the ghouls who haunt ill-omened sepulchres and lonely cross-ways to attack and devour the unhappy traveller.

The tradition is world wide and of dateless antiquity. Travellers and various writers upon several countries have dealt with these dark and perplexing problems, sometimes cursorily, less frequently with scholarship and perception, but in every case the discussion of the vampire has occupied a few paragraphs, a page or two, or at most a chapter of an extensive and divaricating study, where other circumstances and other legends claimed at least an equal if not a more important and considerable place in the narrative. It maybe argued, indeed, that the writers upon Greece have paid especial attention to this tradition, and that the vampire figures prominently in their works. This is true, but on the other band the treatise of Leone Allacci, De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus, 1645, is of considerable rarity, nor are even such volumes as Father François Richard's Relation de ce qui s'est passé de plus remarquable a Sant-Erini, 1657, the Voyage au Levant (1705)
{p. vi}
of Paul Lucas, and Tournefort's Relation d'un Voyage du Levant (1717), although perhaps not altogether uncommon and certainly fairly well known by repute, generally to be met with in every library. The study of the Modern Greek Vampire in Mr. J. G. Lawson's Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion has, of course, taken its place as a classic, but save incidentally and in passing Mr. Lawson does not touch upon the tradition in other countries and at other times, for this lies outside his purview.
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, and even more particularly during the first half of the eighteenth century when in Hungary, Moravia, and Galicia, there seemed to be a veritable epidemic of vampirism. the report of which was bruited far and wide engaging the attention of curia and university, ecclesiastic and philosopher, scholar and man of letters, journalist and virtuoso in all lands, there appeared a large number of academic theses and tractates, the majority of which had been prelected at Leipzig, and these formally discussed and debated the question in well-nigh all its aspects, dividing, sub-dividing, inquiring, ratiocinating upon the most approved scholastic lines. Thus we have the monographs of such professors as Philip Rohr, whose "Dissertatio Historico-Philosophica" De Masticatione Mortuorum was delivered at Leipzig on 16 August, 1679, and issued the same year from the press of Michael Vogt; the Dissertatio de Uampyris Seruiensibus of Zopfius and van Dalen, printed at Duisburg in 1733; and the De absolutione mortuorum excommunicatorum of Heineccius, published at Helmstad in 1709. Of especial value are Michael Ranft's De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis Liber, Leipzig, 1728, and the Dissertatio de Cadaueribus Sanguisugis, Jena, 1732, of John Christian Stock. These dissertations, however, are extremely scarce and hardly to be found, whilst even so encyclopaedic a bibliography as Caillet does not include either Philip Rohr, Michael Ranft, or Stock, all of whom should therein assuredly have found a place. In this connexion must not be omitted the De Miraculis Mortuorum, Leipzig, Kirchner, 1670, and second edition, Weidmann, 1687, a treatise by Christian Frederic Garmann, a noted physician, who was born at Mersebourg about 1640 and who practised with great repute at Chemnitz. Garmann discusses many curious details and continued to amass so vast a collection of notes that after his
{p. vii}
death there was published in 1709 at Dresden by Zimmerman a very much enlarged edition of his work, "exornatum, diu desideratum et expetitum, beato autoris obitu interueniente."
During the eighteenth century the tradition of the Vampire was dealt with by two famous authors, of whom both concentrated upon this as their main theme, that is to say by Dom Augustin Calmet, O.S.B., in his Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges, des Démons et des Esprits et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Bohême, de Moravie, e de Silésie, Paris, 1740, and by Gioseppe Davanzati, Archbishop of Trani and Patriarch of Alexandria, in his Dissertazione sopra I Vampire, Naples, 1774. As I have very fully considered both these important works they require no more than a bare mention here.
Of a later date we find in French a few books such as the Histoire des Vampires (1820) of the enormously prolific Collin de Plancy, the Spectriana (1817) and Les ombres sanglantes (1820) of J. p. R. Cuisin, and Gabrielle de Paban's Histoire des Fantômes et des Demons (1819) and Démoniana (1820), but these with many more of that class and epoch, although they are sometimes written not without elegance and industry and one may here and there meet with a curious anecdote or local legend, will not, I think, long engage the consideration and regard of the more serious student.
In English there is a little book entitled Vampires and Vampirism by Mr. Dudley Wright, which was first published in 1914; second edition (with additional matter), 1924. It may, of course, be said that this is not intended to be more than a popular and trifling collection and that one must not look for accuracy and research from the author of Roman Catholicism and Freemasonry. However that may be, it were not an easy task to find a more insipid olio than Vampires and Vampirism, of which the ingredients, so far as I am able to judge, are most palpably derived at second, and even at third hand. Dom Calmet, sometimes with and sometimes without acknowledgement, is frequently quoted and continually misunderstood, In what the "additional matter" of the second edition consists I cannot pretend to say but I have noticed that the same anecdotes are repeated, e.g. on p. 9 we are told the story of a shepherd of "Blow, near Kadam, in Bohemia," and the relation is said to be taken (via Calmet, it is plain,)
{p. viii}
from "De Schartz [rather Charles Ferdinand de Schertz], in his Magia Postuma, published at Olmutz in 1706." On p. 166 this story, as given by "E. p. Evans, in his interesting work on the Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals," is told of "a herdsman near the town of Cadan," and dated 1337. Pages 60-62 are occupied with an Oriental legend related by "Fornari, in his History of Sorcerers," by which is presumably intended the Histoire curieuse et pittoresque des sorciers . . . Revue et augmentée par Fornari, Paris, 1846, and other editions, a book usually catalogued under Giraldo, as by Caillet and Yve-Plessis, although the latter certainly has a cross-reference to Fornari. In greater detail Mr. Dudley Wright narrates this legend which be has already told (pp. 60-62), on pp. 131-137. Such repetition seems superfluous. In the Bibliography we have such entries as "Leo Allatius," Encyclopaedia Britannica"; "Frazer's Golden Bough," Nider's Formicarius," "Phlegon's Fragments," "William of Newbury," all of which are not merely unscholarly and slovenly, but entirely useless from the point of view of reference. I also remark blunders such as "Philip Rehrius," "Nicolas Ramy's Demonolatrie," "Rymer's Varney the Vampire." Who Rymer might be I cannot tell. Varney the Vampire was written by Thomas Preskett Prest.
It may, I think, not unfairly be claimed that the present work is the first serious study in English of the Vampire, and kindred traditions from a general, as well as from a theological and philosophical point of view. I have already pointed out that it were impossible to better such a chapter as Mr. J. C. Lawson has given us in his Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion, a book to which as also to Bernhard Schmidt's Das Volksleben der Neugriechen und das Hellenische Alterthum, I am greatly indebted. But any wider survey of the vampire tradition will soon be found o demand an examination of legend, customs, and history which extend far beyond Greece, although in such an inquiry the beliefs and practice of modern Greece must necessarily assume a prominent and most material significance.
In the present work I have endeavoured to set forth what might be termed "the philosophy of vampirism," and however ghastly and macabre they may appear I have felt that here one must not tamely shrink from a careful and detailed consideration
{p. ix}
of the many cognate passions and congruous circumstances which--there can be no reasonable doubt--have throughout the ages played no impertinent and no trivial but a very vital and very memorable part in consolidating the vampire legend, and in perpetuating the vampire tradition among the darker and more secret mysteries of belief that prevail in the heart of man.
In many countries there is thought to be a close connexion between the vampire and the werewolf, and I would remark that I have touched upon this but lightly as I am devoting a separate study to the werewolf and lycanthropy.
The Vampire, his Kith and Kin will be shortly followed by The Vampire in Europe, in which work I have collected and treat of numerous instances of vampirism old and new, concretely illustrating the prevalence and phases of the tradition in England and Ireland, in ancient Greece and Rome as well as in modern Greece, in Hungary and Bohemia, in Jugo-Slavia, Russia, and many other lands. In this volume will be found related in detail such famous cases as that of Arnold Paul, Stanoska Sovitzo, Millo the Hungarian, the vampires of Temeswar, Kisilova, Buckingham, Berwick, Melrose Abbey, Croglin Grange, and many more.
A survey of "The Vampire in Literature" which I attempt in Chapter V of the present volume has not, to the best of my belief, been usefully essayed by any English writer. I cannot hope that my purview is complete, for I feel confident that several pieces must inevitably have escaped me. Here too one is faced with the question what to notice and what to exclude. Vampirism is so wide a term that in some senses it might arguably be held to cover no small range of ghost stories and witch sagas where the victims peak and pine and waste away until they fall into an early grave. The choice is bound to be somewhat arbitrary, and so open to censure and objections, both on account of inclusions and omissions, and, superficially at least, these criticisms will hardly seem a little rigid and unfair. There is one vampire story, an excellent fiction and admirably discoursed, which I heard very many years ago, and which I believe is in print, but it has till now completely baffled all my recent explorations. I have no doubt that some of my readers will know the tale.
The Bibliography has offered its own difficulties with
{p. x}
reference to the choice of books for inclusion, and a certain amount of selection seemed inevitable. I have, I hope, duly listed the majority of those works which deal with the Vampire and the vampire tradition at any length, or which even if they devote but a few pages to the Vampire have given the subject serious and scholarly consideration. The denizens of Grub Street, ever busily agog, have from time to time attempted to scribble something on sorcery, on the invisible world, on occult crafts, and of late they seem to have been especially pretentious and prolific. I am well aware that in a number of trivial and catch-penny compositions it may be found that actually more space has been devoted to the vampire than is afforded in several of the volumes I mention, important studies which cover a fairly wide range in travel, in folk-lore, in demonology. Whilst, obviously enough, all the titles I include have by no means the same value even the least remarkable owns a particular reason to justify its presence. Under fiction it seemed to me that one should cast the net a little wider, and accordingly--on account of its very rarity if for no other reason--I have found a place for so poor a book as Smyth Upton's The Last of the Vampires, and what is more a rampant tract such as The Vampyre (1858) is not excluded. It will be remarked that many of the books to which I refer in my chapters and whence I quote are not to be found in this Bibliography as they lie something outside its scope. Moreover to rehearse books of reference and the standard authors seemed entirely superfluous.
During the course of a long and arduous task I have been much helped by the kindly and valuable suggestions of many friends amongst whom I must particularly mention Mrs. Agnes Murgoçi, the late Chevalier W. H. Grattan Flood, Dr. Havelock Ellis, Dr. Rouse, Mr. Edward Hutton, Mr. W. J. Lawrence, and Mr. N. M. Penzer. I am especially grateful to Dr. R. Campbell Thompson for generous permission to quote at length the exorcisms from his classic works upon Babylonian demonology and Semitic magic. Both Mr. G. Willoughby-Meade and his publishers have put me under great obligations by allowing me so extensively to use his work Chinese Ghouls and Goblins, Constable and Co., 1928.
I cordially thank my friend Mr. Laurence Housman for giving me leave to reproduce his drawing "Cauchemar," as also
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Messrs. Macmillan for a similar permission with regard to the illustration of Malay vampires, which originally appeared in Dr. W. W. Skeat's Malay Magic.
The little cylinder delineated upon the cover of the book is a reproduction from the Revue d'Assyriologie, vol. VII, and represents a Babylonian vampire. The original is in the Louvre collections.
IN FESTO B.M.V. del Divino Aiuto.




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."[1] 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 ({Greek a?'ggeloi}), 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
{p. 2 }
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.[2] 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.[3]
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.)[4]
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
{p. 3}
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,
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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
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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."

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