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Nocturnal Origins
 
 
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Old 19 Feb 2003, 12:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Throughout the whole vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such fearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nor demon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and possesses the mysterious and terrible qualities of both. Around the vampire have clustered the most sombre superstitions, for he is a thing which belongs to no world at all; he is not a demon, for the devils have a purely spiritual nature, they are beings without any body, angels, as is said in S. Matthew xxv. 41, "the devil and his angels." And although S.
Gregory writes of the word Angel, "nomen est officii, non naturae,"--the designation is that of an office not of a nature, it is clear that all angels were in the beginning created good in order to act as the divine messengers ({Greek a?'ggeloi}), and that afterwards the fallen angels lapsed from their original state. The authoritative teaching of the Fourth Lateran Council under Innocent III in 1215, dogmatically lays down: "Diabolus enim et alii daemones a Deo quidem natura creati sunt
boni, sed ipsi per se facti sunt mali." And it is also said, Job iv. 18:
"Ecce qui seruiunt ei, non sunt stabiles, et in Angelis suis reperit
prauitatem." (Behold they that serve him are not steadfast, and in his angels he found wickedness.) John Heinrich Zopfius in his Dissertatio de Uampiris Seruiensibus, Halle, 1733, says: "Vampires issue forth from their graves in the night, attack people sleeping quietly in their beds, suck out all their blood from their bodies and destroy them. They beset men, women and children alike, sparing neither age nor sex. Those who are under the fatal malignity of their influence complain of suffocation and a total deficiency of spirits, after which they soon expire. Some who, when at the point of death, have been asked if they can tell what is causing their decease, reply that such and such persons, lately dead, have arisen from the tomb to torment and torture them." Scoffern in his Stray Leaves of Science and Folk Lore writes: "The best definition I can give of a vampire is a living, mischievous and murderous dead body. A living dead body! The words are idle, contradictory, incomprehensible, but so are Vampires." Horst, Schriften und Hypothesen über die Vampyren,
(Zauberbibliothek, III) defines a Vampire as "a dead body which
continues to live in the grave; which it leaves, however, by night, for the purpose of sucking the blood of the living, whereby it is nourished and preserved in good condition, instead of becoming decomposed like other dead bodies." A demon has no body, although for purposes of his own he may energize, assume, or seem to assume a body, but it is not his real and proper body.[2] So the vampire is not strictly a demon, although his foul lust and horrid propensities be truly demoniacal and of hell. Neither may the vampire be called a ghost or phantom, strictly speaking, for an apparition is intangible, as the Latin poet tells us:
Par leuibus uentis uolucrique simillima somno. And upon that first
Easter night when Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples and they were troubled and frightened, supposing they had seen a spirit, He said: "Uidete manus meas, et pedes, quia ego ipse sum: palpate, et uidete: quia spiritus carnem, et ossa non habet, sicut ne uidetis habere." (See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bone, as you see me to have. There are, it is true,
upon record some few instances when persons have been able to grasp, of have been grasped by and felt the touch of, a ghost, but these phenomena must be admitted as exceptions altogether, if indeed, they are not to be
explained in some other way, as for example, owing to the information of a body by some spirit or familiar under very rare and abnormal conditions. In the case of the very extraordinary and horrible hauntings of the old Darlington and Stockton Station, Mr. James Durham, the night-watchman, when one winter evening in the porter's cellar was surprised by the entry of a stranger, followed by a large black
retriever. This visitor without uttering a word dealt him a blow and he had the impression of a violent concussion. Naturally he struck back with his fist which seemed however to pass through the figure and his knuckles were grazed against the wall beyond. None the less the man uttered an unearthly squeak at which the dog gripped Mr. Durham in the calf of the leg causing considerable pain. In a moment the stranger had
called off the retriever by a curious click of the tongue, and both man and animal hurried into the coal-house whence there was no outlet. A moment later upon examination neither was to be seen. It was afterwards discovered that many years before an official who was invariably accompanied by a large black dog had committed suicide upon the
premises, if not in the very cellar, where at least his dead body had been laid. The full account with the formal attestation dated 9th December, 1890, may be read in W. T. Stead's Real Ghost Stories, reprint, Grant Richards, 1897. Major C. G. MacGregor of Donaghadee, County Down, Ireland, gives an account of a house in the north of Scotland which was haunted by an old lady, who resided there for very many years and died shortly after the beginning of the nineteenth
century. Several persons who slept in the room were sensibly pushed and even smartly slapped upon the face. He himself on feeling a blow upon the left shoulder in the middle of the night turned quickly and reaching out grasped a human hand, warm, soft, and plump. Holding it tight he felt the wrist and arm which appeared clothed in a sleeve and lace cuff. At the elbow all trace ceased, and in his astonishment he released the hand. When a light was struck nobody could be seen in the room. In a case which occurred at a cottage in Girvan, South Ayrshire, a young woman lost her brother, a fisher, owing to the swamping of his boat in a storm, When the body was recovered it was found that the right hand was missing. This occasioned the poor girl extraordinary sorrow, but some few nights later when she was undressing, preparatory to bed, she suddenly uttered a piercing shriek which immediately brought the other inmates of the house to her room. She declared that she had felt a violent blow dealt with an open hand upon her shoulder. The place was examined,
and distinctly marked in livid bruises there was seen the
impression of a man's right hand. Andrew Lang in his Dreams and Ghosts (new edition, 1897), relates the story of "The Ghost that Bit," which might seem to have been a vampire, but which actually cannot be so classed since vampires have a body and their craving for blood is to obtain sustenance
for their body. The narrative is originally to be found in Notes and
Queries, 3rd September 1864, and the correspondent asserts that he took it "almost verbatim from the lips of the lady" concerned, a person of tried veracity. Emma S------ was asleep one morning in her room at a large house near Cannock Chase. It was a fine August day in 1840, but although she had bidden her maid call her at an early hour she was surprised to hear a sharp knocking upon her door about 3.30. In spite of her answer the taps continued, and suddenly the curtains of her bed were
slightly drawn, when to her amaze she saw the face of an aunt by
marriage looking through upon her. Half unconsciously she threw out her hand, and immediately one of her thumbs was sensibly premed by the teeth of the apparition. Forthwith she arose, dressed, and went downstairs, where not a creature was stirring. Her father upon coming down rallied her a little upon being about at cockcrow and inquired the cause. When
she informed him he determined that later in the day he would pay a visit to his sister-in-law who dwelt at no great distance. This he did, only to discover that she had unexpectedly died at about 3.30 that morning. She had not been in any way ailing, and the shook was fearfully sudden. On one of the thumbs of the corpse was found a mark as if it had been bitten in the last agony.

(to be continued)



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Old 19 Feb 2003, 03:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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