Saturday, 15 June 2019

An Early Recollection of Highgate Cemetery

An early recollection of Highgate Cemetery by Seán Manchester:

It was a very long time ago that I first came across the sloping field of crumbling masonry. I took the right-hand path. It swept steeply upward - towards, from my perspective, uncharted territory.

What brought me to this eerie landscape still escapes me; other than to say I was drawn for some inexplicable reason. I was struck on that day by the odd fact that no birds sang and there were no other people in the vicinity. Indeed, I met not a solitary soul on that first visit. Continuing along the silent, tree-shrouded route, I slowly stopped, sensing something strange and sinister in my midst.

It was the sombre pathway to an iron door, the inner circle and beating heart of the steep hill sewn with corpses that had a mystery and atmosphere like no other. The path led darkly to the portal.

This is an artistic impression of my first encounter. It shows me facing away from the portal and yet eerily drawn back to it - as if something unnatural was pulling me into a metaphysical realm.

These are my last artistic impressions, showing the figure further along the path, but still facing away from the door; inwardly sensing the untold horrors that lay behind it; yet unable to resist.

The view in the opposite direction, ie down the leaf-strewn pathway from the portal's perspective.

Returning for the last time to the lane where the unearthly had been experienced many years prior, I cast a lingering glance through the bars of the now permanently closed cemetery's north gate.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Open Graves, Closed Minds

Today the majority of folk not only dismiss the existence of vampires, but also most anything else remotely belonging to the supernatural. Montague Summers and Seán Manchester, however, tend to subscribe to the view that cases of vampirism have been stifled and covered up by those in authority. So has much else, of course, and the recent inaccurate portrayals of the vampire and vampirism in films and literature only serve to assist this endeavour of disinformation. Furthermore, most people have built in “slides” that short circuit the mind’s critical examination process when it comes to certain sensitive topics. “Slides” is a CIA term for a condition type of response which dead ends a person’s thinking and terminates debate or examination of the topic at hand. Any mention of the word “vampire,” for example, often solicits a “slide” response with most people.

Owing to the incredible bombardment of information (and thereby also misinformation) via the media, television, radio and, not least, the new information technology, people are probably far less open-minded than they were hitherto. Hence they dismiss the existence of the vampire phenomenon without prior examination. This principle of prior contempt cannot fail to keep people in everlasting ignorance of the undead. Notwithstanding the natural predilection nowadays to dismiss any notion of vampires, when a BBC poll was conducted to coincide with an online discussion with Seán Manchester on the subject the result was interesting. The question put to those who visited the BBC website was: “Do you believe in vampires?” 47.4% said they did not believe, but an encouraging 52.6% said that they did believe in the existence of vampires.

The vampire is a predatory entity that feeds on the life-force of others. It is but one of many types of demon. However, 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. When the undead is exorcised by impalement the corporeal shell returns to earthly time instantaneously; the demonic presence is expelled as the accompanying rite of exorcism is uttered followed by a prayer for the dead.


"You  have abused your membership by making malicious comments about me and  my colleagues on other sites."  —  Bill Hughes 

As with his "vampire hoax" allegation, no example to support this claim has been provided by Bill Hughes, Sam George, or indeed anyone else.

"You have stolen and reposted copyrighted material (which  will be dealt with appropriately)." —  Bill Hughes

Links to websites and Facebook pages can cause images to appear. All he had to do was send a message that he objected to such links. He instead contacted Facebook to complain. They removed the links.

"I'm sure you'll be happier confined  to your own space away from the company of those who want to conduct  authentic scholarly discussions. He's [Robert Darnley's] blocked now." —  Bill Hughes

This said by someone who is a member of a "Free Speech" group on Facebook. Yet he shies-away-from a sober conversation from someone making the point that if one uses such emotive language as "hoax" it is incumbent upon the user to back that statement up. Bill Hughes did not. 

"But don't go calling it a hoax where he [Robert Darnley] or Sean Manchester can see —  they are deranged and actually very nasty."  —  Bill Hughes

Publishing that two individuals are "deranged," one of them in Holy Orders and a public figure for approximately half a century, is libellous.

There is only one nasty person in all this, and that is Bill Hughes who has been unable to provide a shred of evidence for his malicious allegations, hiding away the moment any challenge is made, making him a coward, as well as a liar and hypocrite. Better that he had never opened his mouth in the first place than repeatedly place his foot in it. 

Click on the above image to view the video narrated by Samantha George.

Elżbieta Wojdyla

Elżbieta Wojdyla and Barbara Moriarty, two sixteen-year-old students of La Sainte Union Convent (near Highgate, London), were walking home late at night after visiting friends in Highgate Village. Their journey took them down Swains Lane which intersects Highgate Cemetery, a Victorian graveyard in two halves on a steep hill. These intelligent students could not believe their eyes as they passed the cemetery's north gate at the beginning of their downward path between the two graveyards. For there before them, amongst the jutting tombstones and stone vaults, the dead seemed to be emerging from their graves.

Elizabeth recounted: "We both saw this scene of graves directly in front of us. And the graves were opening up; and the people were rising. We were not conscious of walking down the lane. We were only conscious of this graveyard scene."

A series of nightmares then began to plague Elizabeth; all with one thing in common: something was trying to enter her bedroom window at night. A deathly-pale face identical to the corpses leaving their graves appeared behind the glass pane on some occasions.

During the summer of 1969, Seán Manchester had a chance meeting with Elizabeth Wojdyla who now appeared anaemic and listless. She was nevertheless anxious to get something off her chest. Now resident in an area not too far from the cemetery, she told Seán Manchester that her nightmares had returned with a vengeance. This time she was able to give a better description of the unwelcome spectre that haunted her nights, and, once again, Seán Manchester tape-recorded her words:

"[It has] the face of a wild animal with glaring eyes and sharp teeth, but it is a man with the expression of an animal. The face is gaunt and grey."

Two weeks later, Elizabeth's boyfriend, Keith, contacted Seán Manchester and reported on further deterioration:

"[Her] condition has grown worse. ... She is withering away at such a rate that she is only just barely alive. ... She is being overcome by something."

This time Seán Manchester noted the discovery on Elizabeth's neck marks which Keith had already mentioned in his preamble:

"I noticed for the first time the marks on the side of her neck. ... They were two inflamed mounds on the skin, the centre of each bearing a tiny hole."

On another occasion it was found that specks of blood had appeared on Elizabeth's pillow. Seán Manchester at this point began to apply traditional vampire antidotes and repellents; especially when it was confirmed that she was more and more attracted to Highgate Cemetery and that her anaemic condition was worsening. The small cross she had always worn as a schoolgirl had been absent for some time. Seán Manchester provided a larger crucifix made of silver and sprinkled her environment liberally with holy water. He repeated the Creed in a loud voice, applied salt, garlic and more crosses; during which procedure prayers were recited to shield Elizabeth from the innumerable crafts of Satan and all pestilence.

Elizabeth attempted to remove the impediments and further demonic assaults occurred as nightmare incidents multiplied before this feverish struggle against the predatory vampire ceased altogether.

Her appetite restored and the unhealthy, anaemic condition vanished. The punctures on her neck, bathed with holy water throughout the conflict, eventually faded. By Christmas all was well and the hideous manifestation of the Highgate Cemetery vampire did not return to haunt Elizabeth again. Soon afterwards she relocated elsewhere.


Seán Manchester

The Vampire's Bedside Companion (1975, 1976)

The Highgate Vampire (1985, 1991)

True Horror: Vampires (Discovery Channel, 2004)

The Wampyr Debate

Dom Augustin Calmet writes:

"How can a corpse which is covered with four or five feet of earth, which has no room even to move or to stretch a limb, which is wrapped in linen cerements, enclosed in a coffin of wood, how can it, I say, seek the upper air and return to the world walking upon the earth so as to cause those extraordinary effects which are attributed to it? And after all that how can it go back again into the grave, when it will be found fresh, incorrupt, full of blood exactly like a living body? Can it be maintained that these corpses pass through the earth without disturbing it, just as water and the damps which penetrate the soil or which exhale therefrom without perceptibly dividing or cleaving the ground? It were indeed to be wished that in the histories of the Return of Vampires which have been related, a certain amount of attention had been given to this point, and that the difficulty had been something elucidated.

"Let us suppose that these corpses do not actually stir from their tombs, that only the ghosts or spirits appear to the living, wherefor do these Phantoms present themselves and what is it that energizes them? Is it actually the soul of the dead man which has not yet departed to its final destination, or is it a demon who causes them to be seen in an assumed and phantastical body? And if there bodies are spectral, how do they suck the blood of the living? We are enmeshed in a sad dilemma when we ask if these apparitions are natural or miraculous. ... Supposing, indeed, there were any truth in the accounts of these appearances of Vampires, are they to be attributed to the power of God, to the Angels, to the souls of those who return in this way, or to the Devil? If we adopt the last hypothesis it follows that the Devil can endue these corpses with subtilty and bestow upon them the power of passing through the earth without any disturbances of the ground, of gliding through the cracks and joints of a door, of slipping through a keyhole, of increasing, of diminishing, of becoming rarified as air or water to penetrate the earth; in fine of enjoying the same properties as we believe will be possessed by the Blessed after the Resurrection, and which distinguished the human Body of our Lord after the first Easter Day, inasmuch as He appeared to those to whom He would show Himself for 'Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you,' Jesus uenit ianuis clausis, St John, xx, 26.

"Yet even if it be allowed that the Devil can re-energize dead bodies and give them movement for a certain time can he also bestow these powers of increasing, diminishing, becoming rarified, and so subtle that they can penetrate the earth, doors, windows? We are not told that God allows him the exercise of any such power, and it is hard to believe that a material body, gross and substantial can be endowed with this subtility and spirituality without some destruction or alteration of the general structure and without damage to the configuration of the body. But this would not be in accord with the intention of the Devil, for such a change would prevent this body from appearing, from manifesting itself, from motion and speech, ay, indeed from being eventually cut to pieces and burned as so often happens in the case of Vampires in Moravia, Poland, and Silesia."

These difficulties which Dom Calmet with little perception has raised can be very briefly answered, and they are not only superficial, but also smack of heterodoxy. In the first place, his example [a story related by Calmet] can hardly brush aside the vast vampire tradition because one instance proves to be overdrawn. In any case, what is certainly significant is that the Vampire was decapitated and that then the hauntings ceased.

Dom Calmet asks are the appearances of Vampires to be attributed to God, or to the souls of those who return or to the Devil? I answer that for the hauntings of a Vampire, three things are necessary: the Vampire, the Devil, and the Permission of Almighty God. Just as we know, for we learn this from the Malleus Maleficarum, that there are three necessary concomitants of witchcraft, and these are the Devil, a Witch, and the Permission of Almighty God (Part 1). So are these three necessary concomitants of Vampirism. Whether it be the Demon who is energizing the corpse or whether it be the dead man himself who by some dispensation of Divine Providence has returned is a particular which must be decided severally for each case. So much then for Dom Calmet's question, to whom are the appearances of Vampires to be attributed.

Can the Devil endow a body with these qualities of subtilty, rarification, increase, and diminishing, so that it may pass through doors and windows? I answer that there is no doubt the Demon can do this, and to deny the proposition is hardly orthodox. For St Thomas says of the Devil that "just as he can from the air compose a body of any form and shape, and assume it so as to appear in it visibly, so, in the same way, he can clothe any corporeal thing with any corporeal form, so as to appear therein."Moreover almost any séance will be sufficient reply to Dom Calmet's question. In his Modern Spiritism (1904), Mr T Godfrey Raupert says: "Photographs, or small drawing-room ornaments have thus been seen to change their places, and articles kept in a room other than that occupied by the sensitive, have been brought through closed doors and deposited at a spot previously indicated -in some instances placed into the hands of the person requesting the apport of the article. Many such remarkable instances of apport and of matter passing through matter have been observed under the strictest possible test conditions, and will be found recorded in the late Leipzig Professor Zoellner's deeply interesting work Transcendental Physics. The writer has himself observed one instance of this kind in a private house, and in circumstances entirely precluding the possibility of deception. There is, perhaps, no phenomenon which so distinctly exhibits the action of extraneous and independent intelligence as this one." (pp. 35-36.) Matter, then, can pass through matter, and the séance answers Dom Calmet. We may, if we will, adopt the ectoplasmic theory to explain the mode whereby the Vampire issues from his grave, but although this is very probably true (in some instances at all events) it is not necessarily the only solution of the problem. According to Catholic theologians evil spirits, if permitted to materialize their invisible presence, to build up a tangible and active body, do not absolutely require the ectoplasm of some medium.

Not very dissimilar to the dilemma of Dom Calmet are the views hold by an eminent authority, Dr Herbert Mayo, who was sometime Senior Surgeon of Middlesex Hospital, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology in King's College, Professor of Comparative Anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons, London. In his well-known work, On the Truths contained in Popular Superstitions, he devotes his second Letter, or rather Chapter, to "Vampyrism," concerning which he says "The proper place of this subject falls in the midst of a philosophical disquisition," but he adds for the benefit of the inquirer that it is "a point on which, in my time, school-boys much your juniors entertained decided opinions." He continues to inform us that during the middle of the eighteenth century: "Vampyrism spread like a pestilence through Servia and Wallachia, causing numerous deaths, and disturbing all the land with fear of the mysterious visitation, against which no one felt himself secure. Here is something like a good solid practical popular delusion. Do I believe it? To be sure I do. The facts are matter of history: the people died like rotten sheep; and the cause and method of their dying was, in their belief, what has just been stated. You suppose, then, they died frightened out of their lives, as men have died whose pardon has been proclaimed when their necks were already on the block, of the belief that they were going to die? Well, if that were all, the subject would still be worth examining. But there is more in it than that."

He then gives an account in very full detail of a Vampire at Belgrade in the year 1732, he describes the circumstances in which the body was disinterred, It leaned to one side, the skin was fresh and ruddy, the nails grown long and evilly crooked, the mouth slobbered with blood from its last night's repast. Accordingly a stake was driven through the chest of the Vampire who uttered a terrible screech whilst blood poured in quantities from the wound. Then it was burned to ashes. Moreover, a number of other persons throughout the district had been infected with vampirism. Of the facts there can be no question whatsoever. The documents are above suspicion, and in particular the most important of these which was signed by three regimental surgeons, and formally counter-signed by a lieutenant-colonel and sub-lieutenant. Even Dr Mayo is obliged to allow: "No doubt can be entertained of its authenticity, or of its general fidelity; the less that it does not stand alone, but is supported by a mass of evidence to the same effect. It appears to establish beyond question, that where the fear of Vampyrism prevails, and there occur several deaths, in the popular belief connected with it, the bodies, when disinterred weeks after burial, present the appearance of corpses from which life has only recently departed." It is very instructive to note how the writer proceeds with the greatest subtility and no little cleverness to extract himself from logical consequences it might have seemed impossible to avoid, and how he explains an exceptional circumstance by circumstances which are far more amazing and difficult to believe. With the utmost suavity and breadth of mind he continues: "What inference shall we draw from this fact? - that Vampyrism is true in the popular sense? - and that these fresh-looking and well-conditioned corpses had some mysterious source of preternatural nourishment? That would be to adopt, not to solve the superstition. Let us content ourselves with a notion not so monstrous, but still startling enough: that the bodies, which were found in the so-called Vampyr state, instead of being in a new or mystical condition, were simply alive in the common way or had been so for some time subsequently to their interment that, in short, they were the bodies of persons who had been buried alive, and whose life, where it yet lingered, was finally extinguished through the ignorance and barbarity of those who disinterred them. . . . We have thus succeeded in interpreting one of the unknown terms in the Vampyr-theorem. The suspicious character, who had some dark way of nourishing himself in the grave, turns out to be an unfortunate gentleman (or lady) whom his friends had buried under a mistake while he was still alive, and who, if they afterwards mercifully let him alone, died sooner or later either naturally or of the premature interment--in either case, it is to be hoped, with no interval of restored consciousness."

We submit that Dr Mayo has not succeeded in solving any difficulty at all connected with vampirism. No doubt, as we have already considered in some detail, cases of premature burial, which were far more common than was generally supposed, would have helped to swell the tradition, but that they can have originated it is impossible, and it is absurd to put forward the terrible accident of premature burial as an explanation to cover all the facts. It is quite impossible that a person who had been interred when in a coma or trance should have survived in the grave.

Before we deal with the signs by which it is reputed a vampire may be recognised; the method in which a vampire presumably leaves his grave; and the way by which a vampire may be released or destroyed, we will briefly inquire into Dr Mayo's explanation of the actual visit of the vampire to a victim and the subsequent consequences, the terrible anæmia and hæmoplegia which may result in death followed by the vampire infection. And here we find that Dr Mayo quite honestly and frankly confesses that he is completely at a loss to give any solution of the difficulty. It is most instructive to read those inconclusive pleas which he is driven to put forward but which his own good sense cannot accept. He writes: "The second element which we have yet to explain is the Vampyr visit and its consequences, - the lapse of the party visited into death-trance. There are two ways of dealing with this knot; one is to cut it, the other to untie it. It may be cut, by denying the supposed connexion between the Vampyr visit and the supervention of death-trance in the second party. Nor is the explanation thus obtained devoid of plausibility. There is no reason why death-trance should not, in certain persons and places, be epidemic. Then the persons most liable to it would be those of weak and irritable nervous systems. Again, a first effect of the epidemic might be further to shake the nerves of weaker subjects. These are exactly the persons who are likely to be infected with imaginary terrors, and to dream, or even to fancy, they have seen Mr or Mrs such a one, the last victim of the epidemic. The dream or impression upon the senses might again recur, and the sickening patient have already talked of it to his neighbours, before he himself was seized with death-trance. On this supposition the Vampyr visit would sink into the subordinate rank of a mere premonitory symptom. To myself, I must confess, this explanation, the best I am yet in a position to offer, appears barren and jejune; and not at all to do justice to the force and frequency, or, as tradition represents the matter, the universality of the Vampyr visit as a precursor of the victim's fate. Imagine how strong must have been the conviction of the reality of the apparition, how common a feature it must have been, to have led to the laying down of the unnatural and repulsive process customarily followed at the Vampyr's grave, as the regular and proper preventive of ulterior consequences."

Dr Mayo proposes therefore "to try and untie this knot" a result which he singularly fails to achieve. He quite erroneously states "in popular language, it was the ghost of the Vampyr that haunted its future victim." This is exactly what the Vampire is not. As we have seen there is some divergence of view whether the Vampire is the actual person. energised with some horrible mystical life in death who visits his victims, and there can be no doubt at all that this is the true and proper Vampire, or whether it is a demon who animates and informs the body. But in no circumstances whatsoever is the Vampire a phantom or ghost, save by a quite inadmissible extension of the term, which then may practically be regarded (as indeed it is often most mistakenly and reprehensibly regarded) as covering almost any malignant supernatural phenomenon. So an explanation which confuses a Vampire with a ghost is entirely impertinent.


Montague Summers

The Vampire: His Kith & Kin (1928)

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Can Such Things As Wampyrs Be?

French vampirological and biblical scholar, Dom Augustin Calmet, who entered the Benedictine Order in 1688, becoming ordained into the priesthood in 1696, is remembered for his 1746 work on vampires: Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges des Démons et des Espits, et sur les revenants, et Vampires de Hongrie, de Boheme, et de Silésie. Calmet’s attempt to establish the veracity of such predatory demonic entities lacked first-hand evidence and he seemed to concentrate on the collecting of vampire reports, which he certainly did not dismiss out of hand, and then offered his personal reflections on them.

Calmet defined the phenomena as corpses that returned from their graves to disturb the living by sucking their blood and even causing death. The only remedy was to exhume the afflicted body, sever its head, and drive a stake through the heart. Cremation was another effective alternative. Using that definition, he gathered all the accounts he could find, and it is these reports of collected data that take up the majority of space in his volume.

He justifiably condemned the hysteria which accompanied several of the reported vampire incidents, and also considered all the natural explanations that were offered for the phenomenon. His findings were inconclusive. However, Calmet did not state that the reports could be explained away by natural causes, but he shrank from proposing an alternative answer. In other words, he left the entire matter unresolved. He nevertheless seemed to favour the existence of vampires by noting “that it seems impossible not to subscribe to the belief which prevails in these countries that these apparitions do actually come forth from the graves and that they are able to produce terrible effects which are so widely and so positively attributed to them.”

Calmet had posed five possibilities for all the accounts he had considered. Three of these he dismissed. The remaining two consisted of the possibility that vampires are the result of the Devil’s interference, or just superstition. No firm conclusion was apparent until the third and last edition, published in 1751, where in his bestselling work he makes clear that he could conclude naught save that such creatures as vampires really did return from the grave.

In the Malleus Maleficarum (1486) the Church gives official recognition to the existence of the undead. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the publication of a treatise on the discovery and elimination of vampires. Protestant Reformers likewise made belief in the existence of vampires official. John Calvin explained the phenomenon of vampirism as being a consequence of sorcery. King James I, in his treatise Demonologie (1597), claimed that vampiric spectres were not the souls of the dead, but rather demons masquerading as the deceased. Even Martin Luther entertained vampires when they were related to him by a priest called George Rohrer. Written in 1679 by the theologian Philip Rohr (not to be confused with George Rohrer), De Masticatione Mortuorum translates as "On the Chewing Dead." Rohr was based in the Holy Roman Empire, and his text discussed the common folklore that some corpses returned to life, eating both their funeral shrouds and nearby bodies - a process known as manduction. The chewing dead were part of a larger body of vampire mythology, which Rohr's text contributed to significantly.

De Masticatione Mortuorum

The Eastern Orthdox Churches tend not to doubt the existence of vampires. It is not a top priority for them, but it is an aspect of the realm of demonaltry which all Christians, according to the New Testament (Mark 16: 17), are obliged to oppose and indeed exorcise.

We will now proceed to inquire into those physical traits by which a vampire may be discerned.

A vampire is generally described as being exceedingly gaunt and lean with a hideous countenance and eyes wherein are glinting the red fire of perdition. When, however, he has satiated his lust for warm human blood his body becomes horribly puffed and bloated, as though he were some great leech gorged and replete to bursting. Cold as ice, or it may be fevered and burning as a hot coal, the skin is deathly pale, but the lips are very full and rich, blub and red; the teeth white and gleaming, and the canine teeth wherewith he bites deep into the neck of his prey to suck thence the vital streams which re-animate his body and invigorate all his forces appear notably sharp and pointed. Often his mouth curls back in a vulpine snarl which bares these fangs, "a gaping mouth and gleaming teeth,"says Leone Allacci, and so in many districts the hare-lipped are avoided as being certainly vampires. In Bulgaria, it is thought that the vampire who returns from the tomb has only one nostril; and in certain districts of Poland he is supposed to have a sharp point at the end of his tongue, like the sting of a bee. It is said that the palms of a vampire's hands are downy with hair, and the nails are always curved and crooked, often well-nigh the length of a great bird's claw, the quicks dirty and foul with clots and gouts of black blood. His breath is unbearably fetid and rank with corruption, the stench of the charnel. Dr Henry More in his An Antidote against Atheism, III, ix, tells us that when Johannes Cuntius, an alderman of Pentsch in Silesia and a witch returned as a vampire he much tormented the Parson of the Parish. One evening, "when this Theologer was sitting with his wife and Children about him, exercising himself in Musick, according to his usual manner, a most grievous stink arose suddenly, which by degrees spread itself to every corner of the room. Here upon he commends himself and his family to God by Prayer. The smell nevertheless encreased, and became above all measure pestilently noisom, insomuch that he was forced to go up to his chamber. He and his Wife had not been in bed a quarter of an hour, but they find the same stink in the bedchamber; of which, while they are complaining one to another out steps the Spectre from the Wall, and creeping to his bedside, breathes upon him an exceeding cold breath, of so intolerable stinking and malignant a scent, as is beyond all imagination and expression. Here upon the Theologer, good soul, grew very ill, and was fain to keep his bed, his face, belly, and guts swelling as if he had been poysoned; whence he was also troubled with a difficulty of breathing, and with a putrid inflamation of his eyes, so that he could not well use them of a long time after."

In the Malleus Maleficarum, Part II, Qn. 1., Ch. 11, the following is related: "In the territory of the Black Forest, a witch was being lifted by a gaoler on to the pile of wood prepared for her burning and said: 'I will pay you,' and blew into his face. And he was at once afflicted with a horrible leprosy all over his body and did not survive many days."

Boguet, Discours des Sorciers, gives as his rubric to Chapter XXV, Si les Sorciers tuent de leur souffle & haleine. He tells us: "Les Sorciers tuent & endommagent de lour souffle & haleine: en quoy Clauda Gaillard dicte la Fribolette nous seruita de tesmoignage; car ayant soufflé contre Clauda Perrier, qu'elle r'encontra en l'Eglise d'Ebouchoux, tout aussi test ceste femme tomba malade, & fut rendue impotente, & en fin mourut apres auoir trainé par l'espace d'vn an en toute pauurieté, & langueur: de mesme aussi comme Marie Perrier luy eut vne fois refusé l'aumosne, elle luy souffla fort rudement contre, de façon quo Marie tomba par terre, & s'estant releuée ause peine elle demeura malade par quelques iours, & iusques à tant que Pierre Perrier son neueu out menacé la Sorciere."

Sinistrari in his Demoniality says that if we ask how it is possible that the demon, who has no body, yet can perform actual coitus with man or woman, most authorities answer that the demon assumes or animates the corpse of another human being, male or female, as the case may be, and Delrio (Disquisitiones Magicae, Liber II, Q. xxviii, sec. 1). comments: "Denique multae falsae resurrectiones gentilium huc sunt referendae; & constat cum sagis ut plurimum induto cadauere diabolum sine incubum, sine succubum, rem habere; unde & in hoc genere hominum, cadauerosus quidam faetor graueolentiae, cernitur."

Some remoter country districts, indeed, are apt to regard any poor wretch who is sadly deformed as a vampire, especially if the distortion be altogether unsightly, prominent, or grotesque. It has even been known that a peasant whose face was deeply marked with wine-coloured pigment, owing it was thought to some accident which befell his mother during her late pregnancy, was shunned and suspected of being a malignant vrykolakas. Chorea, they say, is a certain sign of vampirism, and it may be remarked that in Shoa this disorder is regarded as the result of demoniacal possession, or due to the magic spell of an enemy's shadow having fallen upon the sufferer. An epileptic there is also often considered as being in the power of some devil, and unless proper precautions are taken he will assuredly not rest in his grave. The vampire is endowed with strength and agility more than human, and he can run with excessive speed, outstripping the wind.

The vampire is one who has led a life of more than ordinary immorality and unbridled wickedness; a man of foul, gross and selfish passions, of evil ambitions, delighting in cruelty and blood. Arthur Machen has very shrewdly pointed out that "Sorcery and sanctity are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life." The spiritual world cannot be confined to the supremely good, "but the supremely wicked, necessarily, have their portion in it. The ordinary man can no more be a great sinner than he can be a great saint. Most of us are just indifferent, mixed-up creatures; we muddle through the world without realizing the meaning and the inner sense of things, and, consequently our wickedness and our goodness are alike second-rate unimportant . . . the saint endeavours to recover a gift which he has lost; the sinner tries to obtain something which was never his. In brief, he repeats the Fall . . . it is not the mere liar who is excluded by those words[1]; it is, above all, the "sorcerers" who use the material life, who use the failings incidental to material life as instruments to obtain their infinitely wicked ends. And let me tell you this; our higher senses are so blunted, we are so drenched with materialism, that we should probably fail to recognize real wickedness if we encountered it.)"

It has been said that a saint is a person who always chooses the better of the two courses open to him at every step. And so the man who is truly wicked is he who deliberately always chooses the worse of the two courses. Even when he does things which would be considered right he always does them for some bad reason. To identify oneself in this way with any given course requires intense concentration and an iron strength of will, and it is such persons who become vampires.

The vampire is believed to be one who has devoted himself during his life to the practice of Black Magic, and it is hardly to be supposed that such persons would rest undisturbed, while it is easy to believe that their malevolence had set in action forces which might prove powerful for terror and destruction even when they were in their graves. It was sometimes said, but the belief is rare, that the vampire was the offspring of a witch and the Devil.


Seán Manchester

Memoir [select extracts]

The Vampire Hunter's Handbook

Montague Summers

The Vampire: His Kith & Kin

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Lord Byron's Influence On Polidori's The Vampyre

Seán Manchester on Byron's influence on Polidori's The Vampyre:

Lord Byron, parodied as Lord Ruthven by John William Polidori in The Vampyre (1819), fortuitously crystallised an archetypal image that is centuries strong; yet he abhorred the vampire almost to the same extent as do I.
John William Polidori (7 September 1795 - 24 August 1821) is credited by some as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. Polidori was the oldest son of Gaetano Polidori, an Italian political émigré, and Anna Maria Pierce, a governess. He had three brothers and four sisters and was one of the first pupils at Ampleforth College. Polidori began his schooling in 1804 shortly after the monks, in exile from France, settled in the lodge of Anne Fairfax's chaplain in the Ampleforth Valley. He went on from Ampleforth in 1810 to Edinburgh University, where he received his degree as a doctor of medicine on 1 August 1815 at the age of nineteen.
In 1816, Dr Polidori entered Lord Byron's service as his personal physician, and accompanied Byron on a trip through Europe. At the Villa Diodati, a house Byron rented by Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the pair met with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and her husband-to-be Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their companion Claire Clairmont.
One night in June, after the company had read aloud from the Tales of the Dead, a collection of horror tales, Byron suggested that they each write a ghost story. Mary Shelley worked on a tale that would later evolve into Frankenstein. Byron wrote (and quickly abandoned) a fragment of a story, which Polidori used later as the basis for his own tale.
Rather than use the crude, bestial vampire of folklore as a basis for his story, Polidori based his character on Byron. Polidori named the character "Lord Ruthven" as a joke. The name was originally used in Lady Caroline Lamb's novel Glenarvon, in which a thinly-disguised Byron figure was also named Lord Ruthven.
Polidori's Lord Ruthven was not only the first vampire in English fiction, but was the first fictional vampire in the form we recognise today - an aristocratic fiend who preyed among high society.

Polidori's story, The Vampyre, was published in the April 1819 issue of New Monthly Magazine. Much to both his and Byron's chagrin, The Vampyre was released as a new work by Byron. The poet even released his own Fragment of a Novel in an attempt to clear up the mess, but, for better or worse, The Vampyre continued to be attributed to him.
Dismissed by Byron, Polidori returned to England, and in 1820 wrote to the Prior at Ampleforth; his letter is lost, but Prior Burgess' reply makes it clear that he considered Polidori, with his scandalous literary acquaintances, an unsuitable case for the monastic profession.

In 1821, after writing an ambitious sacred poem, The Fall of the Angels, Polidori, suffering from depression, died in mysterious circumstances on 24 August 1821 at approximately 1:10pm, probably by self-administered poison, though the coroner's verdict was that he had "departed this Life in a natural way by the visitation of God."
Polidori's fate has been to be remembered only as a footnote in Romantic history. Reprints of the diary he kept during his travels with Byron are available, but are rather hard to find for purchase on the internet.
Polidori's diary, titled The Diary of John Polidori, edited by William Michael Rossetti, was first published in 1911 by Elkin Mathews (London). A reprint of this book, The Diary of Dr John William Polidori, 1816, relating to Byron, Shelley etc was published by Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, Pa.) in 1975. Another reprint by the same title was printed by Norwood Editions (Norwood, Pa.) in 1978.
As well as being mid-wife to Frankenstein's monster, he was uncle to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti.

Three films have depicted John Polidori and the genesis of the Frankenstein and The Vampyrestories in 1816: Gothic directed by Ken Russell (1986), Haunted Summer directed by Ivan Passer (1988) and Remando al viento (English title: Rowing with the Wind) directed by Gonzalo Suárez (1988).

There is a genuine title of Lord Ruthven of Freeland in the Peerage of Scotland which is a subsidiary title of the Earl of Carlisle in the United Kingdom. The fictional characters are not related to the historical title holders.

As previously stated, the first fictional Lord Ruthven appeared in the 1816 Gothic novel Glenarvon by Lady Caroline Lamb. This character was based on the genuine Lord Byron and was not a vampire. Lady Caroline was a former lover of Lord Byron's and the novel did not offer a flattering portrait.

The pseudonym "Ruthwen Glenarvon" (note: the "v" becomes "w" in the forename) was used by some members of the Vampire Research Society throughout the 1970s and 1980s who wanted their anonymity preserved. It was infrequently - yet occasionally - employed in the 1990s, but not thereafter.
Lord Ruthven appears as a main character in Nancy Garden's young adult book Prisoner of Vampires. In this story, Ruthven uses the name "Radu" and is a relation and helper of both Count Dracula and Carmilla.

Lord Ruthven served as the inspiration for a 1945 film, The Vampire's Ghost, which was adapted into comic book format in 1973. Lord Ruthven also appears in the background of the Vampire: The Masquerade game system, under the name Lambach Ruthven.

Kim Newman uses the character of Lord Ruthven in his alternate history Anno Dracula series, having Ruthven serve as the Conservative Prime Minister after Count Dracula seizes the English throne. Ruthven holds the Premiership from circa 1886 until 1940, when he loses it to Winston Churchill. Ruthven later reclaims it following the war, losing it to Churchill again after the Suez Crisis. Ruthven later serves as Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher and is poised to take over as Prime Minister again following her departure.

Ruthven also appeared in some Superman comics, notably in Superman: The Man of Steel #14 and #42 and Superman #70. He has also appeared in Marvel Comics. Originally, he appeared in the first issue of Vampire Tales, then as the possessor of the mystical book called Darkhold. An incidental character called Ruthven appears in later issues of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic; this Ruthven is a man with a rabbit's head, as well as prominent "vampire" fangs.

A comical "Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd" is the main character of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore. In it, the pastoral Robin Oakapple finds that he is descended from an evil uncle and is forced to take up his ancestor's evil ways.