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In some places the specter appears as in the flesh, walks, talks, infests villages, ill uses both men and beasts, sucks the blood of their near relations, makes them ill, and finally causes their death.
The late Monsieur de Vassimont, counselor of the chamber of the courts of Bar, was informed by public report in Monravia that it was common enough in that country to see men who had died some time before present themselves in a party and sit down to table with persons of their acquaintance without saying a word and nodding to one of the party, the one indicated would infallibly die some days after."*
About 1735 on the frontier of Hungary a dead person appeared after ten years' burial and caused the death of his father. In 1730 in Turkish Servia it was believed that those who had been passive vampires during life became active after death; in Russia, that the vampire does not stop his unwelcome visits at a single member of a family, but extends his visits to the last member, which is the Rhode Island belief.
The captain of grenadiers in the regiment of Monsieur le Baron Trenck, cited by Calmet, declares “that it is only in their family and among their own relations that the vampires delight in destroying their species.”
The inhabitants of the island of Chio do not answer unless called twice, being persuaded that the brucolaques do not call but once, and when so called the vampire disappears, and the person called dies in a few days. The classic writers from Sophocles to Shakespeare and froin Shakespeare to our own time have recognized the superstition.
Mr Conway quotes from the legend of Ishtar descending to Hades to seek some beloved one. She threatens if the door be not opened
“I will raise the dead to be devourers of the living;
Upon the living shall the dead prey.”+
Singularly, in his discourse on modern superstitions De Quincey, to whom crude superstitions clung and who had faith in dreams as portents, does not allude to the vampire; but his contemporary, Lord Byron, in his lines on the opening of the
* Cited by Calmet. † Tablet K 162, in British Museum.
royal tomb at Windsor, recognizes this belief in the transformation of the dead :
“ Justice and death have mixed their dust in vain,
Each royal vampire wakes to life again.” William of Malmsbury says that “in England they believed that the wicked came back after death by the will of the devil;" and it was not an unusual belief that those whose death had been caused in this manner, at their death pursued the same evil calling. Naturally under such an uncomfortable and inconvenient infliction some avenue of escape must, if possible, be found. It was first necessary to locate the vampire. If on opening the grave of a “suspect” the body was found to be of a rose color, the beard, hair, and nails renewed, and the veins filled, the evidence of its being the abode of a vampire was conclusive. A voyager in the Levant in the seventeenth century is quoted as relating that an excommunicated person was exhumed and the body found full, healthy, and well disposed and the veins filled with the blood the vampire had taken from the living. In a certain Turkish village, of forty persons exhumed seventeen gave evidence of vampirism. In Hungary, one dead thirty years was found in a natural state. In 1727 the bodies of five religieuse were discovered in a tomb near the hospital of Quebec, that had been buried twenty years, covered with flesh and suffused with blood.*
The methods of relief from or disposition of the vampire's dwelling place are not numerous, but extremely sanguinary and ghastly.
In Servia a relief is found in eating of the earth of his grave and rubbing the person with his blood. This prescription was, however, valueless if after forty days the body was exhumed and all the evidences of an archivampire were not found. A more common and almost universal method of relief, especially in the Turkish provinces and in the Greek islands, was to burn the body and scatter the ashes to the winds. Some old writers are of the opinion that the souls of the dead cannot be quiet until the entire body has been consumed. Exceptions are noted in the Levant, where the body is cut in pieces and boiled in wine, and where, according to Voltaire, the heart is torn out and burned.
* Cited by Calmet.
In Hungary and Servia, to destroy the demon it was considered necessary to exhume the body, insert in the heart and other parts of the defunct, or pierce it through with a sharp instrument, as in the case of suicides, upon which it utters a dreadful cry, as if alive; it is then decapitated and the body burned. In New England the body is exhumed, the heart burned, and the ashes scattered. The discovery of the vampire's resting-place was itself an art.
In Hungary and in Russia they choose a boy young enough to be certain that he is innocent of any impurity, put him on the back of a horse which has never stumbled and is absolutely black, and make him ride over all the graves in the cemetery. The grave over which the horse refuses to pass is reputed to be that of a vampire."
Gilbert Stuart, the distinguished American painter, when asked by a London friend where he was born, replied : “Six miles from Pottawoone, ten miles from Poppasquash, four miles from Conanicut, and not far from the spot where the famous battle with the warlike Pequots was fought.” In plainer language, Stuart was born in the old snuff mill belonging to his father and Dr Moffat, at the head of Petaquamscott pond, six miles from Newport, across the bay, and about the same distance from Narragansett Pier, in the state of Rhode Island.
By some mysterious survival, occult transmission, or remarkable atavism, this region, including within its radius the towns of Exeter, Foster, Kingstown, East Greenwich, and others, with their scattered hamlets and more pretentious villages, is distinguished by the prevalence of this remarkable superstition-a survival of the days of Sardanapalus, of Nebuchadnezzar, and of New Testament history in the closing years of what we are pleased to call the enlightened nineteenth century. It is an extraordinary instance of a barbaric superstition outcropping in and.coexisting with a high general culture, of which Max Müller and others have spoken, and which is not so uncommon, if rarely so extremely aggravated, crude, and painful.
The region referred to, where agriculture is in a depressed condition and abandoned farms are numerous, is the trampingground of the book agent, the chromo peddler, the patent-medicine man and the home of the erotic and neurotic modern novel. The social isolation away from the larger villages is as complete
as a century and a half ago, when the boy Gilbert Stuart tramped the woods, fished the streams, and was developing and absorbing his artistic inspirations, while the agricultural and economic conditions are very much worse.*
Farm-houses deserted and ruinous are frequent, and the once productive lands, neglected and overgrown with scrubby oak, speak forcefully and mournfully of the migration of the youthful farmers from country to town. In short, the region furnishes an object-lesson in the decline of wealth consequent upon the prevalence of a too common heresy in the district that land will take care of itself, or that it can be robbed from generation to generation without injury, and suggests the almost criminal neglect of the conservators of public education to give instruction to our farming youth in a more scientific and more practical agriculture. It has been well said by a banker of well known name in an agricultural district in the midlands of England that "the depression of agriculture is a depression of brains.” Naturally, in such isolated conditions the superstitions of a much lower culture have maintained their place and are likely to keep it and perpetuate it, despite the church, the public school, and the weekly newspaper. Here Cotton Mather, Justice Sewall, and the host of medical, clerical, and lay believers in the uncanny superstitions of bygone centuries could still hold high carnival.
The first visit in this farming community of native-born New Englanders was made to a small seashore village possessing a summer hotel and a few cottages of summer residents not far from Newport—that Mecca of wealth, fashion, and nineteenth-century culture. The family is among its wellto-do and most intelligent inhabitants. One member of this family had some years since lost children by consumption, and by common report claimed to have saved those surviving by exhumation and cremation of the dead.
In the same village resides Mr ., an intelligent man, by
* Rhode Island has the largest population to the square mile of any State in the Union The town of Ercter, before mentioned, incorporated in 1742–'43, had but 17 persons to the square mile in 1890, and in 1893 had 63 abandoned farms, or one-fifth of the whole number within its limits. Foster, incorporated in 1781 and taken from Scituate (which was settled by Massachusetts emigrants in 1710), had in 1890 a population of 1,252, and in 1893 had eight abandoned farms, Scituate having forty-five. North Kingston had 76 persons to the square mile in 1890, Mr Arnold, in bis history of the State, says that "South Kingston was in 1780 by far the wealthiest town in the State." It had a special provision made for the "maintenance of religion and education."
trade a mason, who is a living witness of the superstition and of the efficacy of the treatment of the dead which it prescribes. He informed me that he had lost two brothers by consumption. Upon the attack of the second brother his father was advised
the head of the family before mentioned, to take up the first body and burn its heart, but the brother attacked objected to the sacrilege and in consequence subsequently died. When he was attacked by the disease in his turn, -'s advice prevailed, and the body of the brother last dead was accordingly exhumed, and, “living” blood being found in the heart and in circulation, it was cremated, and the sufferer began immediately to mend and stood before me a hale, hearty, and vigorous man of fifty years. When questioned as to his understanding of the miraculous influence, he could suggest nothing and did not recognize the superstition even by name.
He remembered that the doctors did not believe in its efficacy, but he and many others did. His father saw the brother's body and the arterial blood. The attitude of several other persons in regard to the practice was agnostic, either from fear of public opinion or other reasons, and their replies to my inquiries were in the same temper of mind as that of the blind man in the Gospel of Saint John (9:25), who did not dare to express his belief, but "answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." At
a small isolated village of scattered houses in a farming population, distant fifteen or twenty miles from Newport and eight or ten from Stuart's birthplace, there have been made within fifty years a half dozen or more exhumations. The most recent was made within two years, in the family of The mother and four children had already succumbed to consumption, and the child most recently deceased (within six months) was, in obedience to the superstition, exhumed and the heart burned. Dr -, who made the autopsy, stated that he found the body in the usual condition after an interment of that length of time. I learned that others of the family have since died, and one is now very low with the dreaded disease. The doctor remarked that he had consented to the autopsy only after the pressing solicitation of the surviving children, who were patients of his, the father at first objecting, but finally, under continued