CHAPTER ONE: THE ORIGIN OF THE VAMPIRE
Throughout the whole vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, so dreaded and abhorred, yet endowed with such fearful fascination as the vampire; who is himself neither ghost nor demon but who partakes of 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. 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 in this twentieth century in certain quarters of the world, in the remoter districts of Europe itself, in Transylvania, Slavonia, the isles and mountains of Greece, the peasant will take the law into his own hands and utterly destroy the carrion who - as is yet firmly believed - will issue at night 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 Malay alike; whilst Arabian story tells us again and again of the ghouls who haunt ill-omened sepulchres and lonely crossways to attack and devour the unhappy traveller. The tradition is worldwide and of dateless antiquity.
Travellers and various writers upon several countries have dealt with these dark and perplexing problems. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, and even more particularly during the first half of the eighteenth when in Hungary, Moravia and Galicia there seemed to be a veritable epidemic of vampirism, there appeared a large number of academic theses and tractates, the majority of which were published in Leipzig. These formally discussed and debated the question in well-nigh all its aspects; but 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.
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 consideration of the many passions and circumstances which throughout the ages have played a part in consolidating the vampire legend, and in perpetuating the tradition among the darker and more secret mysteries of belief that prevail in the heart of man.
John Heinrich Zopfius in his Dissertation on Serbian Vampires, 1733, says: "Vampires issue forth from their graves in the night, attack people sleeping quietly in their beds, suck out all the 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 risen 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 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 one, 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 demonic and of hell. Neither may the vampire be called a ghost or phantom, strictly speaking, for an apparition is intangible. The vampire has a body and his craving for blood is to obtain sustenance for that body. He is neither dead nor alive; but living in death. He is an abnormality; the androgyne of the phantom world; a pariah among the fiends. How fearful a destiny 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. The origins, although of course very shadowy, 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 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 forever from the living and waking world. He was bound to ask himself if there was any continuance, in any circumstances at present veiled from him, of that life and personality which had obviously passed elsewhere. The question was an eternal one. It was, moreover, a personal one which concerned him most intimately since it related to an experience he could not hope 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 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 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 today 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 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 chieftains and heroes whose exploits had won so much, not only for their own houses but 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 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 each monarch becomes a sanctuary, so that throughout the villages there are many shrines tended by certain old men and 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 Bantu tribes of Zambia 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 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.
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. This custom is significant, and two points should be especially noted. The first is that the deceased, or the spirit of that deceased, 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 the vampire who craves to suck blood and causes sickness through his malignancy.
It is said the Bantu believe that men of evil life after death may return during the night in corporeal 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 Bantu has the greatest horror of blood and will never allow even a spot fallen from a bleeding nose or cut to lie uncovered. 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 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 in Leviticus xvii. 10-14: "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."
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 of why the vampire should seek to vitalize and rejuvenate his own dead body by draining the blood from the veins of his victims.
Among many races mourning for the dead is accompanied by the laceration of the body until blood freely flows. It is even not unknown for relatives of the deceased to inflict terrible mutilations upon themselves, and he who is most pitiless is esteemed to show the greatest honour and respect to the departed. The important point lies in the fact that blood must be shed. 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, so naturally it is believed to be far better to give without demur and gain the protection of the ghost than to refuse what the phantom will inevitably seize upon in vengeance and in wrath.
Although possibly the meaning was obscured, and these lacerations came to evince no more than a proof of sorrow at the bereavement, 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. They have more than a touch of vampirism, the essence of which consists in the belief that the dead may sustain a semi-life by drinking the blood of the living. Such observances are not free from the horrid superstition of black magic, and the feeding of the vampire till he suck his fill of hot salt blood and be gorged and replete like some demon leech.
Vampire (also vampyre) is from the Magyar vampir, a word of Slavonic origin occurring in the same form in Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbian and Bulgarian. The word is apparently unknown in Greece and the general modern term is vrykolakas. This must undoubtedly be identified with a word common to the whole Slavonic group of languages, and is the equivalent of the English "werewolf"; Scotch "warwulf"; German "Werwolf" and French "loup-garou."
The one language in which the word does not bear this interpretation is the Serbian, for here it signifies "vampire." But it should be remarked that the Serbian people believe that a man who has been a werewolf in life will become a vampire after death, and so the two are very closely related. It was even thought in some districts that those who ate 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, there is, especially in Slavonic tradition, a very great distinction, for there the vampire is precisely defined as the incorrupt and re-animated body which returns from its grave.
The first example of the use of the word vampire in literature seems to be that which occurs in The Travels of Three English Gentlemen, written about 1734, 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) Oliver Goldsmith writes in everyday phrase: "From a meal he advances to a surfeit, and at last sucks blood like a vampire."
In 1744 was published at Naples the famous Dissertazione sopra I Vampiri of Gioseppe Davanzati, Archbishop of Trani. Davanzati commences by relating various well-known and authenticated cases of vampires, especially those which had recently occurred in Germany during the years 1720-39. He shows a good knowledge of the literature of his subject, and decides that the phenomena cannot enter into the category of apparitions and ghosts but must be explained in a very different way.
Even better known is the Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges, des Demons et des Esprits, et sur les Revenants et Vampires by Dom Augustin Calmet, published in Paris. The work was frequently reprinted, and translated into English and German. In its day it exercised a very great influence and is still constantly referred to.
In his preface Dom Calmet tells us the reasons which induced him to undertake this examination. He emphasizes that vampires 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, but the fuller knowledge of these horrors reached western Europe only during the eighteenth century. 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 fanaticisms, distinguish and characterize certain 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 those 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."
One of the earliest - if indeed he were not actually the first - of the seventeenth century writers who deals with vampires is Leone Allacci. In his treatise De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus, Cologne 1645, he discusses many traditions and 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 becomes 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."
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. If that person 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 the 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 any 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 onto a fiercely blazing pyre. Before the orisons are finished, the 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." Allacci had no hesitation about declaring his own views, and he thoroughly believed in the vampire. He says: "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 permits him, devises most horrible complots and schemes to the hurt and harm of mankind."
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.
It is not impossible that cases of catalepsy, or suspended animation which resulted in premature burial, may have helped reinforce the tradition of the vampire. Some authorities consider catalepsy as almost entirely 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. 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 that 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.
There is no greater mistake than to suppose that most cases of premature burial, and escape from it, happened long ago; and that even then the majority took place under exceptional conditions and for the most part in small towns or remote 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 has, on the contrary, increased.
In the early years of the twentieth century 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 and when adequate precautions were seldom if ever employed, the incidents of premature burial and of autopsy performed on the living must be numberless.
One such accident nearly occurred to the great sixteenth century 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 to be dead, the senior physician gravely pronounced in Latin, pointing to the patient: "Let us perform an experiment on this worthless soul." The eyes of the supposed corpse opened widely and a low but distinct voice answered, also in Latin: "You call worthless someone for whom Christ did not scorn to die."
As was customary in the case of prelates, when Cardinal Diego de Espinoza, 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) Pliny relates many instances of persons who, being deemed dead, revived, and said truly 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.
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, Mlle. 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 the injuries which had been inflicted upon her.
In the chancel of St. 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 for beautiful symbolism, but such is not the case for it represents an actual circumstance. The unfortunate lady was 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.
Unfortunately, overwhelming evidence proves that such terrible accidents are far from rare. Mr. William Tebb in his authoritative work Premature Burial and How It May Be Prevented 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.
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 uncommon; whilst recovery from catalepsy or deep trances, sometimes lasting very many days, is even more frequent. Such cases have been recorded in all ages, times without number. It is, I think, exceedingly probable that 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 have continually gathered fresh accretions of horror and wonder in its train. It is possible that hence may have evolved some details which notably helped to swell the vampire tradition.
I do not for a moment wish to imply that these circumstances were in any way the foundation of the belief in vampires, but I do conceive it probable that these macabre happenings did serve to fix the vampire tradition more firmly in the minds of those who had been actual witnesses of similar occurrences, and were fearful and amazed.
It has been well remarked that man has always held the dead in respect and fear. The Christian Faith, moreover, has set its seal upon the sanctity of death. Even from the 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 that primitive man desired to keep the dead, to preserve the mortal shell; and what are the tomb, 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 repellant, than the profanation of the dead. Vampirism, in its extended sense may be understood to mean any profanation of a dead body, and it must accordingly be briefly considered under this aspect.
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 and sold to 'prentice doctors to hack and carve.
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. 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, 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, he 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 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 was so easily earned, Burke and Hare did 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 came to light.
Up the close and down the stair,
So sang the street urchins. Burke confessed and was hanged 28th January 1829. 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 was undoubtedly aware of the whole circumstances, were not all five sent to the gallows.
That species of vampirism known as Necrophagy, which is cannibalism, is often connected with the religious rites of savage people and also finds a place in the sabbat of the witches. Among the Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia the cannibals 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 Biblinga tribe cut up the bodies of the dead and eat them to secure the reincarnation of the deceased.
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. One of the most terrible and extraordinary cases was that of Sawney Beane, the son of peasants in East Lothian and born in a village not far from Edinburgh towards the close of the fourteenth century. He and a girl from 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 the 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 was put to death amid the most horrible torments in the year 1435 at Edinburgh.
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 the 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 9th 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.
Those vampirish atrocities which are urged by sexual mania are generally classified as necrophilia and necrosadism. Necrophilia was not unknown in ancient Egypt, and was carefully provided against as Herodotus tells us, Book II lxxxix: "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 connection 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.
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 accommodation. It might not unreasonably be thought that the catafalque, the bier and 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.