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Popular Traditions. – Vampirism.
The subject of the present paper is probably rendered a matter of interest by Lord Byron's frequent allusions to the Vampire. It is needless to say that we class the tradition of vampirism with such as are utterly incredible; and we can only account for the infatuation of the witnesses to the facts detailed in the following extract, by supposing them to have been the dupes of their own apprehensions, or to have been deceived by some natural appearances which chemists might explain, without resorting to the support of impossibilities.
We have had in this country a new scene of vampirism, which is duly attested by two officers of the tribunal of Belgrade, who took cognizance of the affair on the spot, and by an officer in his imperial majesty's troops at Gradisch (ia Sclavonia) who was an eye-witness of the proceedings.
“In the beginning of September there died at the village of Kisilova, three leagues from Gradisch, an old man of above threescore and two: three days after he was buried he appeared in the night to his son, and desired he would give him somewhat to eat. The son did so, the father eat, and then disappeared. The next day the son told his neighbours these particulars. That night the father did not come, but the next evening he made him another visit, and desired something to eat. It is not known whether his son gave him any thing or not, but the next morning the young man was found dead in his bed. The magistrate or bailiff of the town had notice of this, as also that the same day five or six persons fell sick in the village, and died one after the other. He sent an exact account of this to the tribunal of Belgrade, and thereupon two commissioners were dispatched to the village attended by an executioner, with instructions to examine closely into the affair. An officer in the imperial service, from whom we have this relation, went also from Gradisch, in order to examine personally an affair of which he had heard so much. They opened in the first place the graves of all who had been buried in six weeks. When they came to that of the old man, they found his eyes open, his colour fresh, his respiration quick and strong, yet he appeared to be stiff and insensible. From these signs they concluded him to be a notorious Vampire. The executioner thereupon, by the command of the commissioners, struck a stake through his heart; and when they had so done, they made a bonfire, and therein consumed the carcase to ashes. There were no marks of Vampirism found on his son, or on the bodies of the other persons who died so suddenly. VOL. I.-NO. IV.
“ Thanks be to God, we are as far as any people can be from giving into credulity; we acknowledge that all the lights of physics do not enable us to give any account of this fact nor do we pretend to enter into its causes. However, we cannot avoid giving credit to a matter of fact juridically attested by competent and unsuspected witnesses, especially since it is far from being the only one of the kind. We shall here annex an instance of the same sort in 1732, already inserted in the Gleaner, No. 18.
“ In a certain canton of Hungary, which is called in Latin Oppida Heidonum, on the other side the Tibiscus, vulgarly called the Teysse; that is to say, the river which washes the celebrated territory of Tokay, as also a part of Transilvania ; the people known by the name of Heydukes believe that certain dead persons, whom they call vampires, suck the blood of the living, insomuch that these people appear like skeletons while the dead bodies of the suckers are so full of blood, that it runs out at all the passages of their bodies, and even at their very pores. This odd opinion of theirs they support by a multitude of facts attested in such a manner, that they leave no room for doubt. We shall here mention some of the most considerable.
“It is now about five years ago, that a certain Heyduke an inhabitant of the village of Medreiga, whose name was Arnold Paul, was bruised to death by a hay-cart, which ran over him. Thirty days after his death, no less than four persons died suddenly, in that manner wherein, according to the tradition of the country, those people generally die who are sucked by vampires. Upon this a story was called to mind, that this Arnold Paul had told in his life-time, viz. that at Cossova on the frontiers of the Turkish Servia, he had been tormented by a vampire; (now the established opinion is, that a person sucked by a vampire, becomes a vampire himself, and sucks in his turn.) But that he had found a way to rid himself of this evil by eating some of the earth out of the vampire's grave, and rubbing himself with his blood. This precaution however did not hinder his becoming a vampire ; insomuch that his body being taken up forty days after his death, all the marks of a notorious vampire were found thereon. His complexion was fresh, his hair, nails, and beard were grown; he was full of fluid blood, which ran from all parts of his body npon his shroud. The hadnagy or bailiff of the place, who was present at the taking of him up, and who was a person well acquainted with vampirism, caused a sharp stake to be thrust, as the custom is, through the heart
Popular Traditions.- Vampirism.
of Arnold Paul, and also quite through his body; whereapon he cried out dreadfully as if he had been alive. This done, they cut off his head, burnt his body, and threw the ashes thereof into the Saave. They took the same measures with the bodies of those persons who had died of vampirism, for fear that they should fall to sucking in their turns.
“All these prudent steps did not hinder the same mischief from breaking out again about five years afterwards, when several people in the same village died in a very odd manner. In the space of three months, seventeen persons of all ages and sexes died of vampirism, some suddenly, and some after two or three days suffering. Amongst others there was one Stanoska, the daughter of a Heyduke, whose name was Jovitzo, who going to bed in perfect health, waked in the middle of the night, and making a terrible outcry, affirmed that the son of a certain Heyduke whose name was Millo, and who had. been dead about three weeks, had attempted to strangle her in her sleep. She continued from that time in a languishing condition, and in the space of three days died. What this girl had said, discovered the son of Millo to be a vampire. They took up the body, and found so in effect. The principal persons of the place, particularly the physician and surgeons, began to examine very narrowly, how, in spite of all their precautions, vampirism had again broke out in so terrible a manner. After a strict inquisition, they found that the deceased Arnold Paul had not only sucked the four persons before mentioned, but likewise several beasts, of whom the new vampires had eaten, partcularly the son of Millo. Induced by these circumstanoes, they took a resolution of digging up the bodies of all persons who had died within a certain time. They did so, and amongst forty bodies, there were found seventeen evidently vampires. Through the hearts of these they drove stakes, cut off their heads, burnt the bodies, and threw the ashes into the river. All the informations we have been speaking of were taken in a legal way, and all the executions were also so performed, as appears by certificates drawn up in full form, attested by several officers in the neighbouring garrisons, by the surgeons of several regiments, and the principal inhabitants of the place. The verbal process was sent towards the latter end of last January to the council of war at Vienna, who thereupon established a special commission to examine into these facts. Those just now mentioned were attested by the Hadnagi Barriarar, the principal Heyduke of the village, as also by . Battuer, first lieutenant of prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, Flick
The unfortunate Player.
stenger, surgeon major of the regiment of Furstemberg, three other surgeons of the same regiment, and several other persons.
The Marquis D'Argens, from one of whose Jewish Letters we have taken the foregoing extract, copied it from the Mercure Historique et Politique, Oct. 1736, p. 403 to 411, and has wasted several pages of erudition and subtle argument in endeavoring to account on probable grounds for such extraordinary appearances. He however acknowledges, that he is ashamed to spend so much time in exposing the delusion of the witnesses, who could place their signatures to a document so totally incredible; and after expressing his opinion that it would be ridiculous to give credit to such stories, however well attested, he overturns their possibility by a regular dilemma. We cannot, however, imitate his example, as we think it unnecessary to present to our readers a refutation of facts which would startle the most credulous and most ignorant peasant.
THE UNFORTUNATE PLAYER.
To the Editor of the Dublin Inquisitor.
I LOVE a solitary ramble, and I still enjoy my walk whenever the weather permits. A lovely morning in the last month tempted me abroad, and in my usual meditating gait, I followed the course of the Liffey along our beautiful line of quays, until I found myself relieved from the bustle of the passing crowd ; and entering the Park gate, I strolled on, intending to make a circuit round the viceregal lodge, and to proceed homewards by another way. With this view I soon found myself in a lonely and retired glen, which I entered by a narrow path-way, and I was about to ascend the track on the opposite side, when a voice, proceeding from below, arrested my intention; I paused and heard these lines repeated :
There's not a wretch that seeds on common charity
The unfortunate Player.
There was a tone of feeling and deep pathos in the voice, that gave to this beautiful passage the happiest effect; and i stood in some surprise, for I could see no person in the direction from whence the voice proceeded." I did not, however continue long in doubt; a young man, emerging from a clump of trees, came slowly forward-his eyes were bent upon the ground, and his arms were folded upon his breasthis figure was slight and graceful—and notwithstanding the disadvantage of a very shabby suit of black, there was something in his manner that bespoke the gentleman. Not wishing to disturb his meditations, yet feeling an unaccountable desire to address him, I remained undecided how to act, when, as he advanced a little nearer to where I stood, he suddenly raised his head, and starting backwards, in a theatrical manner, cried
Angels and ministers of groce defend us!
He broke off abruptly here, and perceiving that I felt much surprise at this strange salutation, he burst into a loud and evidently forced laugh, and mounting the path where I stood, grasped my hand and exclaimed, “ My dear old gentleman, , I beg you will excuse me, I mean no offence upon my honor; but you appeared so opportunely, I could not resist the temptation ; I fancied that the grim majesty of Denmark stood before me, and”-“Pray do not apologize," said I ; " there is no offence given.”
Aye, by Saint Patrick, but there is,
he exclaimed from the same play, 66 but don't mind me”he continued, “ though they say I'm a little touched in my brain.” I felt insensibly affected by the appearance and manner of the young man; and wishing to learn a little of bis history, I proposed a walk, and he accepted my invitation in this manner, “ A walk! 0, ay, with all my heart; they say that bodily exercise is a good remedy against melancholy. I have heard it recommended too in case of hunger-it serves to divert it away.” “I hope,” said I, “ that you do not feel”-“O not at all,” said he, with a forced smile; “ with Hamlet, I fare on the Cameleon's dish-I eat the airpromise-crammed-you can't feed capons so.'” I now looked with pity on the poor youth, who could thus assume an air of indifference under sorrow and privation; and anxious to relieve