The Vampire, His Kith and Kin
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Pages (PDF): 348
Publication Date: 1928
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In this work Summers discusses the vampire phenomena from a Catholic perspective. This book has all of the apparatus to qualify as an academic study, including footnotes, extensive quotations in the original languages, and references to rare source documents. Of particular interest is the final chapter, which traces the development of the vampire craze in 19th century literature. Chapters include: The Origins Of The Vampire; The Generation Of The Vampire; The Traits And Practice Of Vampirism; The Vampire In Assyria, The East, And Some Ancient Countries; and, The Vampire In Literature.
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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 (ἄγγελοι), 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. 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, or 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, Chapter XI, pp. 210-214.
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