A CONSIDERATION of the Vampire theme in literature must of necessity be somewhat eclectic, if not even arbitrary in the selection of works which it reviews and with which it sets out to deal. Any exhaustive inquiry is well-nigh impossible, and this not so much, perhaps, on account of the wealth of the material, although indeed there is a far vaster field than might generally be supposed, as owing to the very vague definition and indeterminate interpretation one is able to give to vampirism from a purely literary point of view. It is the craft of an artist in the telling of ghost-stories to see that his colours should not be too vivid and too clear, and no mean skill is required to suggest without explanation, to mass the shadows without derangement, to be occult yet not to be obscure. Accordingly it would be a matter of extreme difficulty to differentiate the malignant and death-dealing spectre or it may be even corpse who returns to wreak his foul revenge from the Vampire,–using this latter word in its widest sense, as one must employ it when speaking of literature, a caution which here given as regards this Chapter will serve once for all. In such a story, for example, as Dr. M. R. James’ Count Magnus is the horrible revenant a ghost or a vampire? The writer has left the point ambiguous. It is of the very essence of his happy invention that he should do so, and the deftly veiled incertitude adds to the loathly terror of the thing. It will be readily remembered that the story relates how a traveller in Sweden about the middle of the last century whilst staying near an ancient manor house in Vestergothland obtains permission to examine the family papers and among these he comes upon the traces of a certain Count Magnus de la Gardie who in the year 1600 had built the house or herrgård. Even after the lapse of two and a half centuries dark traditions are still lingering concerning this
mysterious nobleman, whose body lies in a richly ornate copper sarcophagus that stands the principal feature of a domed mausoleum at the eastern end of the church. Reluctantly the landlord tells a story which happened in the time of his grandfather ninety-two years before. Two men determined to go at night and have a free hunt in the woods upon the estate. They are warned: “No, do not go; we are sure you will meet with persons walking who should not be walking. They should be resting, not walking.” The two men laughed and cried: “The Count is dead; we do not care for him.” But in the night the villagers “hear someone scream, just as if the most inside part of his soul was twisted out of him.” Then they hear a hideous laugh, “it was not one of those two men that laughed, and, indeed, they have all of them said that it was not any man at all.” In the morning they go out with the priest, and they find one of the men dead, killed in so terrible a fashion that they buried him on the spot. “He was once a beautiful man, but now his face was not there, because the flesh of it was sucked away off the bones.” The other man is standing with his back against a tree, “pushing with his hands-pushing something away from him which was not there.”
There was some vague gossip that the Count had been “on the Black Pilgrimage, and had brought something or someone back with him.” During his investigation of the papers the English traveller, Mr. Wraxall, found a Liber nigrae peregrinationis, or at least a few lines of such a document indicating that the Count had once journeyed to the city of Chorazin and there adored the prince of the air. In careless mood as he is passing near the mausoleum, Mr. Wraxall exclaims: “Ah, Count Magnus, there you are. I should dearly like to see you.” He is indiscreet enough to cry out thus flippantly on two further occasions, and at last he is thoroughly alarmed by hearing the sound of metal hinges creaking and he knows that the sarcophagus is slowly opening wide. In a state of frenzied fear he sets out for England the next day, yet turn and double as he will he is everywhere haunted by two hideous figures, a man in a long black cloak and a broad-leafed hat and something in a dark cloak and hood. Upon landing at Harwich he makes his way across country to a neighbouring village, when on looking out of the
carriage window he sees at a cross-road the two horrible creatures. He finds a lodging, but within the next forty-eight hours his pursuers fall upon him. He is discovered dead, and in the district it is still remembered how “the jury that viewed the body fainted, seven of ’em did, and none of ’em wouldn’t speak to what they see, and the verdict was visitation of God; and how the people as kep’ the ‘ouse moved out that same week and went away from that part.”
This story may, I think, certainly be considered as Vampire lore, and although it must, of course, be perfectly familiar to all who delight in tales of the supernatural I have related it at some little length here, partly because it is told so excellently well, and partly because it so admirably fulfils and exemplifies the qualities that this kind of literature should possess. It is brief and succinct, although there are many details, but every touch tells. No ghost story should be of any length. The horror and the awe evaporate with prolixity. The ghost is malevolent and odious. In fiction a helpful apparition is a notable weakness, and the whole narrative becomes flabby to a degree. The authentic note of horror is struck in the eerie suggestion which, as we have noticed, is of intent left ill-defined. Nothing could be more crude than an explanation, and it is this banality that often ruins a story which otherwise might be of the very first order.
To review the traces of vampire legends which appear in sagas, and which are in truth but few and unimportant, seems to be outside our province here, and even more foreign to our purpose would be the present examination of the vampire legend in folk-lore since this has already been dealt with in the course of the preceding chapters, and to regard such traditions merely as literature would be not only to look at them from a wrong perspective but to misrepresent their quality and essentially to pervert their purpose.
Since some point must be chosen at which to consider vampirism in literature we may most fairly recall to mind the many academic and philosophical treatises upon the Vampire which were rehearsed and discussed in German Universities during the earlier part of the eighteenth century, and these startling themes soon began to attract the attention of poets
and literary men. Thus among the poems of Heinrich August Ossenfelder we have a short piece entitled Der Vampir, which is as follows:
Mein liebes Mägdchen glaubet
Beständig steif und feste,
An die gegebnen Lehren
Der immer frommen Mutter
Als Völker an der Theyse
An tödtliche Vampiere
Heyduckisch feste glauben,
Nun warte nur Christianchen,
Du willst mich gar nich lieben;
Ich will mich an dir rächen,
Und heute in Tockayer
Zu einem Vampir trinken.
Und wenn du sanfte schlummerst,
Von deinen schönen Wangen
Den frischen Purpur saugen.
Alsdenn wirst du erschrecken,
Wenn ich dich werde küssen
Und als ein Vampir küssen:
Wann du dann recht erzitterst
Und matt in meine Arme,
Gleich einer Todten sinkest
Alsdenn will ich dich fragen,
Sind meine Lehren besser,
Als deiner guten Mutter?
The poet Wieland has a passing reference to the Vampire
Der Jüngling aus den Wolken
Herab gefallen, stumm und bleich,
Als hätt’ ein Vampyr ihm die Adern ausgemolken,
Steht ganz vernichtet von dem Streich.
It would be an exaggeration to say that the Vampire entered German literature with Goethe’s famous ballad Die Braut von Korinth, but it would be difficult to over-estimate the influence and the popularity of this piece, the subject of which is directly derived from Phlegon of Tralles. The young Athenian who visits his father’s old friend to whose daughter he has been betrothed receives at midnight the Vampire body of the girl whom death has prevented from becoming his bride, and who declares:
Aus dem Grabe werd’ ich ausgetrieben,
Noch zu suchen das vermifste Gut,
Noch den schon verlornen Mann zu lieben p. 275
Und zu saugen seines Herzens Blut.
Ist’s um den geschehn,
Muss nach andern gehn,
Und das junge Volk erliegt der Wut.
Even more famous are the charnel horrors of Bürger’s Lenore which was first printed in 1773 in the Gottinger Musenalmanach and which notwithstanding the legions of hostile comments and parodies whereof Brandl gives an ample list has remained a household word.
In spite of the immense enthusiasm at that date in contemporary England for German romantic literature it is remarkable that no translation of Lenore was published here until 1796, when William Taylor of Norwich printed in the Monthly Review of March his rendering which in some respects must be called an adaptation. He had, however, by his own account written the translation as early as 1790, and there can be no doubt that very shortly after its completion it was declaimed, applauded and much discussed in Norwich literary circles. We know that Mrs. Barbauld who visited Edinburgh “about the summer of 1793 or 1794″ read aloud Taylor’s version to a number of enthusiastic admirers. This event was described to Sir Walter Scott by Miss Cranstoun, afterwards Countess Purgstall, although Scott himself mentions that his curiosity “was first attracted to this truly romantic story by a gentleman, who, having heard Lenore once read in manuscript, could only recollect the general outline, and part of a couplet, which, from the singularity of its structure, and frequent recurrence, had remained impressed on his memory.” This gentleman Was Mr. Cranstoun, the brother of Countess Purgstall, and so her statement is no doubt accurate as Scott might well have received his account both from the brother as well as from the sister. It was in the course of 1794, or at any rate early in the following year that Scott made his own rendering of the ballad. The account of Taylor’s version, Ellenore, which “electrified” the assembled company at Dugald Stewart’s house when read by the famous Anna Letitia Barbauld had given him the strongest desire to see the original. Just about this time, however, it was a difficult matter to procure books from the continent, and it was not until after some delay that a copy of Bürger’s works was conveyed to him from Hamburg. He
immediately devoured the German ballad and was so impressed that he forthwith set about Englishing it. “I well recollect” he writes, “that I began my task after supper, and finished it about daybreak next morning.” Scott’s friends privately printed a few copies of the poem as a surprise for the author,” and as it went from hand to hand it met with the most flattering reception. In 1796, besides the public issue of the translations from Bürger by Taylor and by Scott, no less than three other versions appeared, from the several pens of W. R. Spencer, H. J. Pye and J. T. Stanley. The translation by the last named author was given to the public in an édition de luxe at five shillings, as well as in the ordinary edition of half a crown. In 1797, a pasquil followed, Miss Kitty: a Parody on Lenora, a Ballad, “Translated from the German, by several Hands,” whilst in the following year, Mrs. Taylor turned the popular poem into Italian as a “Novella Morale.” Probably the most faithful, if not the most spirited translation, was that by the Rev. J. Beresford which was published in 1800.
It was in 1797 that Coleridge wrote the first part of Christabel, and German critics have somewhat superfluously endeavoured to emphasize herein the influence of Lenore, since upon examination it would hardly seem that such is present even in the smallest degree. For example, if the narrative of Geraldine be carefully read it must be evident that the following judgment of Professor Brandl is without foundation. This critic writes: “Ihre Vorgeschichte (of Geraldine) schöpfte er grossentheils aus Bürgers ‘Lenore’ in Taylors Uebersetzung: die Dame ist, wenigstens ihrer Erzählung nach, auf einem windschnellen Ross entführt und halbtodt vor Furcht hier abgesetzt worden; statt des schwarzen Leichenzuges, der Lenoren auf ihrem Ritt durch die Mondnacht aufstiess, will sie ‘den Schatten der Nacht’ gekreuzt haben; noch zittert das verdorrte Blatt neben ihr wie aus Herzenangst.”
As we might expect, the young Shelley was enchanted by Lenore, and Medwin relates how the poet long treasured cc a copy of the whole poem, which he made with his own hand.” Dowden tells the story how one Christmas Eve Shelley dramatically related the Bürger ballad with appropriate intonation and gesture “working up the horror to
such a height of fearful interest “that the company fully expected to see Wilhelm stalk into the parlour.” In his study of Shelley, Charles Middleton has remarked: “It is hinted, somewhat plausibly, that the Leonora of Bürgher first awakened his poetic faculty. A tale of such beauty and terror might well have kindled his lively imagination, but his earliest pieces, written about this time, and consisting only of a few ballads, are deficient in elegance and originality, and give no evidence whatever of the genius which soon after declared itself.” To suggest, as Zeiger would have it, that Lenore influenced the poem which in the romance St. Irvyne Megalina inscribes on the wall of her prison, and which commences:
Ghosts of the dead! have I not heard your yelling
Rise on the night-rolling breast of the blast, . . .
is the merest ineptitude, since these verses are taken almost word for word from “Lachin y Gair” in Byron’s Hours of Idleness, and that had been published some four years previously.
As I have elsewhere shown in some detail, Shelley’s two juvenile romances owe not only their inspiration but a great deal of their phrasing and noctivagations to Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya: or The Moor, which appeared in 1806, and which, as the poet himself declares “quite enraptured” him. It is a very remarkable circumstance that in spite of the extremely plain hint which might profitably have been taken from such poems as Die Braut von Korinth and Lenore the novelists of the Gothic school, soaked though they were in German literature, searching the earth and the depths of the earth for thrills and sensation of every kind, do not seem to have utilized the tradition of the Vampire. It is a puzzle indeed if we ask how it was that such writers as Monk Lewis, “Apollo’s sexton,” who would fain “make Parnassus a churchyard”; and Charles Robert Maturin who, as he himself confessed, loved bells rung by viewless hands, daggers encrusted with long shed blood, treacherous doors behind still more treacherous tapestry, mad nuns, apparitions, et hoc genus omne; the two lords of macabre romance, should neither of them have sent some hideous vampire ghost ravening through their sepulchral pages. In the Gothic romance
we have horror heaped on horror’s head; mouldering abbeys, haunted castles, banditti, illuminati, sorcerers, conspirators, murderous monks and phantom friars, apparitions without number until the despairing reviewers cried aloud: “Surely the misses themselves must be tired of so many stories of ghosts and murders.” We have such titles as the famous Horrid Mysteries; The Midnight Groan; The Abbot of Montserrat, or, The Pool of Blood; The Demon of Venice; The Convent Spectre; The Hag of the Mountains; and a hundred such lurid nomenclatures, but until we come to Polidori’s novel which will be considered later, nowhere, so far as I am aware, do we meet with the Vampire in the realm of Gothic fancy. So vast, however, is this fascinating library and so difficult to procure are these novels of a century and a quarter ago that I hesitate sweepingly to assert that this theme was entirely unexploited. There may be some romance which I have not had the good fortune to find where a hideous vampire swoops down upon his victims, but if such be the case I am at least prepared to say that the Vampire was not generally known to Gothic lore, and had his presence made itself felt in the sombre chapters of one votary of this school I think he would have re-appeared on many occasions, for the writers were as accustomed to convey from one another with an easy assurance, as they were wont deftly to plunder the foreign mines. Inevitably one of the band, T. J. Horseley Carties, Francis Lathom, William Herbert, Edward Montague, Mrs. Roche, Eliza Parsons, Miss M. Hamilton, Mrs. Helme, Mrs. Meeke, Isabella Kelley, and many another beside insatiably agog for horrid phantasmagoria would have utilized the Vampire in some funereal episode.
One might even have supposed that the notes to Southey’s Thalaba the Destroyer, must have put them on the track, and surely stanzas eight, nine and ten in Book VIII could not have passed unnoticed:
A night of darkness and of storms!
Into the Chamber of the Tomb
Thalaba led the Old Man,
To roof him from the rain.
A night of storms! the wind
Swept through the moonless sky,
And moan’d among the pillar’d sepulchres; p. 279
And in the pauses if its sweep
They heard the heavy rain
Beat on the monument above.
In silence on Oneiza’s grave
Her father and her husband sate.
The Cryer from the Minaret
Proclaim’d the midnight hour.
“Now, now!” cried Thalaba;
And o’er the chamber of the tomb
There spread a lurid gleam,
Like the reflection of a sulphur fire
And in that hideous light
Oneiza stood before them. It was She . . .
Her very lineaments. . . . and such as death
Had changed them, livid cheeks and lips of blue;
But in her eye there dwelt
Brightness more terrible
Than all the loathsomeness of death.
“Still art thou living, wretch? “
In hollow tones she cried to Thalaba;
“And must I nightly leave my grave
To tell thee, still in vain,
God hath abandoned thee?
“This is not she!” the Old Man exclaim’d;
“A Fiend; a manifest Fiend!”
And to the youth he held his lance;
“Strike and deliver thyself!”
“Strike HER!” cried Thalaba,
And palsied of all power,
Gazed fixedly upon the dreadful form.
“Yea, strike her!” cried a voice, whose tones
Flow’d with such a sudden healing through his soul,
As when the desert shower
From death deliver’d him;
But obedient to that well-known voice,
His eye was seeking it,
When Moath, firm of heart,
Perform ‘d the bidding: through the vampire corpse
He thrust his lance; it fell,
And howling with the wound,
Its fiendish tenant fled.
A sapphire light fell on them,
And garmented with glory, in their sight
Oneiza’s spirit stood.
It is important to remark that in his notes upon this passage Southey cites at considerable length various cases of vampirism, particularly from the Lettres Juives, the Vampires
of Gradisch, also the history of Arnold Paul, and the very ample account given by Tournefort. He further says: “The Turks have an opinion that men that are buried have a sort of life in their graves. If any man makes affidavit before a judge, that he heard a noise in a man’s grave, he [i.e., the body] is, by order, dug up and chopped all too pieces. The merchants (at Constantinople) once airing on horseback, had, as usual, for protection, a Janisary with them. Passing by the burying place of the Jews, it happened that an old Jew sat by a sepulchre. The Janisary rode up to him, and rated him for stinking the world a second time, and commanded him to get into his grave again–Roger North’s Life of Sir Dudley North.”
It might perhaps not unfairly be argued that the two notorious romances of the Marquis de Sade Justine, on les Malheurs de la Vertu and Juliette depict scenes of vampirism, and if we are to take the word in any extended sense this is certainly the case. In the first place it must be remembered that as it passed through various editions-it was first issued in 1791, 2 vols., 8vo,–until it appeared in its final and complete form in 1797 as La Nouvelle Justine, on les Malheurs de la Vertu, suivie de l’Histoire de Juliette, sa soeur, 10 vols., 18mo (of which Justine occupies four and Juliette six) Justine was added to and augmented until the last version is practically double the length of the first, and the book has been entirely re-written. In Justine we have the episodes in the house of Monsieur Rodin, and more particularly the orgies of the Comte de Gernade who takes a lustful pleasure in watching the blood flow from the veins of his victims, as also the cruelties of the monster Roland all of which. may well be esteemed vampirism. Many similar scenes are described with great prolixity in Juliette, and this romance is distinguished by such horrible figures as the Muscovite giant Minski, whose favourite meat is human flesh, and in whose castle the table and chairs are made of bleaching bones, and Cordelli, the necrophilist of Ancona.
In The New Monthly Magazine, 1 April, 1819, was published The Vampyre: a Tale by Lord Byron, which although it may seem to us–steeped in Le Fanu and M. R. James–a little old-fashioned, at the time created an immense sensation and had the most extraordinary influence, being even
more admired and imitated on the Continent than in England. It was almost immediately known that actually the story did not come from the pen of Lord Byron, but had been written by Dr. John William Polidori, physician-companion to the poet. Byron had, as a matter of fact, been writing a work of the same title in imitation of Mrs. Shelley’s Frankenstein, but he denied the authorship of this piece in the famous letter facsimilied in Galignani’s edition of his works. A first printed, The Vampyre forms a part of extracts from “A letter from Geneva, with Anecdotes of Lord Byron.” Here is to be read that “among other things which the lady, from whom I procured these anecdotes, related to me, she mentioned the outline of a ghost story by Lord Byron. It appears that one evening Lord Byron, Mr. p. B. Shelley, the two ladies and the gentleman (the daughters of Godwin and Dr. Polidori) before alluded to after having perused a German work, which was entitled Phantasmagoriana began relating ghost stories; when his lordship having recited the beginning of Christabel, then unpublished, the whole took so strong a hold of Mr. Shelley’s mind, that he suddenly started up and ran out of the room. The physician and Lord Byron followed, and discovered him leaning against a mantlepiece with cold drops of perspiration trickling down his face. After having given him something to refresh him, upon enquiring into the cause of his alarm, they found that his wild imagination having pictured to him the bosom of one of the ladies with eyes (which was reported of a lady in the neighbourhood where he lived) he was obliged to leave the room in order to destroy the impression. It was afterwards proposed in the course of conversation, that each of the company present should write a tale depending upon some supernatural agency, which was undertaken by Lord Byron, the physician, and Miss M. Godwin. My friend, the lady above referred to, had in her possession the outline of each of these stories, I obtained them as a great favour, and herewith forward them to you, as I was assured you would feel as much curiosity as myself, to peruse the ébauches of so great a genius, and those immediately under his influence.” Upon this the Editor has the following note: “We have in our possession the Tale of Dr. —— as well as the outline of that of Miss Godwin. The latter has already appeared under the title of
‘Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus’; the former, however, upon consulting this author, we may, probably, hereafter give to our readers.”
The Vampyre is introduced by several paragraphs which deal with the tradition. This preamble commences: “The superstition upon which this tale is founded is very general in the East. Among the Arabians it appears to be common; it did not, however, extend itself to the Greeks until after the establishment of Christianity; and it has only assumed its present form since the division of the Latin and Greek churches; at which time, the idea becoming prevalent, that a Latin body could not corrupt if buried in their territory, it gradually increased, and formed the subject of many wonderful stories, still extant, of the dead rising from their graves, and feeding upon the blood of the young and beautiful. In the West it spread, with some slight variation, all over Hungary, Poland, Austria, and Lorraine, where the belief existed, that vampyres nightly imbibed a certain portion of the blood of their victims, who became emaciated, lost their strength, and speedily died of consumptions; whilst these human bloodsuckers fattened–and their veins became distended to such a state of repletion as to cause the blood to flow from all the passages of their bodies, and even from the very pores of their skins.”
The Editor then recounts the famous instance of Arnold Paul, and continues: “We have related this monstrous rodomontade, because it seems better adapted to illustrate the subject of the present observations than any other instance we could adduce. In many parts of Greece it is considered as a sort of punishment after death, for some heinous crime committed whilst in existence, that the deceased is doomed to vampyrise, but be compelled to confine his visitations solely to those beings he loved most while on earth-those to whom he was bound by ties of kindred and affection. This supposition is, we imagine, alluded to in the following fearfully sublime and prophetic curse from the ‘Giaour.'
But first on earth, as Vampyre sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent;
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife, p. 283
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet, which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corse,
Thy victims, ere they yet expire,
Shall know the demon for their sire;
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.
But one that for thy crime must fall,
The youngest, best beloved of all,
Shall bless thee with a father’s name–
That word shall wrap thy heart in flame!
Yet thou must end thy task and mark
Her check’s last tinge–her eye’s last spark,
And the last glassy glance must view
Which freezes o’er its lifeless blue;
Then with unhallowed hand shall tear
The tresses of her yellow hair,
Of which, in life a lock when shorn
Affection’s fondest pledge was worn–
But now is borne away by thee
Memorial o thine agony!
Yet with thine own best blood shall drip
Thy gnashing tooth, and haggard lip;
Then stalking to thy sullen grave
Go–and with Ghouls and Afrits rave,
Till these in horror shrink away
From spectre more accursed than they.”
After an allusion to Southey’s Thalaba, Tournefort’s Travels, and Dom Calmet’s classical work, the editor concludes: “We could add many curious and interesting notices on this singularly horrible superstition, and we may, perhaps, resume our observations upon it at some future opportunity; for the present, we feel that we have very far exceeded the limits of a note, necessarily devoted to the explanation of the strange production to which we now invite the attention of our readers; and we shall therefore conclude by merely remarking, that though the term Vampyre is the one in most general acceptation, there are several other synonimous with it, which are made use of in various parts of the world, namely, Vroucolocha, Vardoulacha, Goul, Broucoloka, &c.”
The story tells how at the height of a London season there appeared at the various parties of the leaders of the ton a nobleman, more remarkable for his singularities, than his rank. He gazed upon the mirth around him, as if he could not participate therein. Apparently, the light laughter of the
fair only attracted his attention that he might by a look quell it, and throw fear into those breasts where thoughtlessness reigned. Those who felt this sensation of awe, could not explain whence it arose; some attributed it to the dead grey eye, which fixing upon the object’s face, did not seem to penetrate, and at one glance to pierce through to the inward working of the heart; but fell upon the cheek with a leaden ray that weighed upon the skin it could not pass.” This original is invited to every house, and in the course of the winter he meets “a young gentleman of the name of Aubrey” he was an orphan left with an only sister in the possession of great wealth, by parents who died while he was yet in childhood.” Aubrey is greatly fascinated by Lord Ruthven, for this is the name of the mysterious nobleman, and intending to travel upon the Continent he mentions this intention to my Lord, and is “surprised to receive from him a proposal to join him. Flattered by such a mark of esteem from him who, apparently, had nothing in common with other men, he gladly accepted it, and in a few days they had passed the circling waters.”
As they travelled from town to town, Aubrey notices the peculiar conduct of his companion who bestows largess upon the most worthless characters, broken gamblers and the like, but refuses a doit to the deserving and virtuous poor. However the recipients of this charity “inevitably found that there was a curse upon it, for they all were either led to the scaffold or sunk to the lowest and the most abject misery.” Eventually the travellers arrive at Rome, and here Aubrey receives letters from his guardians who require him immediately to leave his companion as since their departure from London the most terrible scandals, adulteries and seductions, have come to light. At Rome Aubrey is able to foil Lord Ruthven’s plans, frustrating an intrigue designed to ruin a heedless young girl, and then he “directed his steps towards Greece, and, crossing the Peninsula, soon found himself at Athens.” Here he lodges in the house of a Greek, whose daughter Ianthe is a paragon of the most exquisite beauty. As he sketches the ruins of the city she is wont to entertain him with Greek legend and tradition, and “often, as she told him the tale of the living vampyre, who had passed years amidst his friends, and dearest ties, forced every year, by feeding upon the life of a
lovely female to prolong his existence for the ensuing months, his blood would run cold, whilst he attempted to laugh her out of such idle and horrible fantasies; but Ianthe cited to him the names of old men, who had at last detected one living among themselves, after several of their relatives and children had been found marked with the stamp of the fiend’s appetite; and when she found him so incredulous, she begged of him to believe her, for it had been remarked, that those who had dared to question their existence, always had some proof given, which obliged them, with grief and heart-breaking to confess it was true. She detailed to him the traditional appearance of these monsters, and his horror was increased, by hearing a pretty accurate description of Lord Ruthven; he, however, still persisted in persuading her, that there could be no truth in her fears, though at the same time he wondered at the many coincidences which had all tended to excite a belief in the supernatural power of Lord Ruthven.”
Before long it becomes evident that Aubrey is in love with Ianthe, “and while he ridicules the idea of a young man of English habits, marrying an uneducated Greek girl, still he found himself more and more attached to the almost fairy form before him.” He endeavours to occupy his time with antiquarian excursions which lead him farther and farther afield, and at length he determines to proceed to a point beyond any he has as yet visited. When Ianthe’s parents hear the name of the place he proposes to visit they most earnestly implore him on no account to return when once dusk has fallen, “as he must necessarily pass through a wood, where no Greek would ever remain after the day had closed, upon any consideration. They described it as the resort of the vampyres in their nocturnal orgies, and denounced the most heavy evils as impending upon him who dared to cross their path. Aubrey made light of their representations, and tried to laugh them out of the idea; but when he saw them shudder at his daring thus to mock a superior, the very name of which apparently made their blood freeze, he was silent.”
Having given his promise to Ianthe that he will be back well before evening he sets out very early. The exploration, however, takes longer than he has supposed, and when he turns his horse homeward the darkness is already hurrying on urged by a terrific storm. The steed, alarmed at the battle
of the elements dashes off at breakneck pace and only halts trembling and tired before a distant hovel in the heart of a solitary wood. “As he approached, the thunder, for a moment silent, allowed him to hear the dreadful shrieks of a woman mingling with the stiffled exultant mockery of a laugh, continued in one almost unbroken sound.” With a terrific effort Aubrey burst open the door and rushing into the darkness “found himself in contact with someone, whom he immediately seized, when a voice cried “again baffled,” to which a loud laugh succeeded, and he felt himself grappled by one whose strength seemed superhuman determined to sell his life as dearly as he could, he struggled but it was in vain; he was lifted from his feet and hurled with enormous force against the ground; his enemy threw himself upon him, and kneeling upon his breast, had placed his hand upon his throat, when the glare of many torches penetrating through the hole that gave light in the day, disturbed him–he instantly rose and, leaving his prey, rushed through the door, and in a moment the crashing of the branches, as he broke through the wood was not longer heard.” Several peasants now hastened into the hut bearing flambeaus which illuminate the scene, and to the horror of all there is discovered hard by, the lifeless body of Ianthe. A curious dagger lies near, but her death was not the result of a blow from this weapon. “There was no colour upon her cheek, not even upon her lip; yet there was a stillness about her face that seemed almost as attaching as the life that once dwelt there:–upon her neck and breast was blood, and upon her throat were the marks of teeth having opened the vein:–to this the men pointed, crying, simultaneously struck with horror, ‘a Vampyre, a Vampyre!'” It appears that Ianthe had followed the traveller to watch over his safety. Aubrey is carried back to the city in a raging fever, and the parents of the unfortunate girl die brokenhearted owing to so terrible a loss.
Whilst Aubrey lies ill Lord Ruthven arrives in Athens and establishing himself in the same house nurses the invalid with such care that past differences are forgotten, since Aubrey not only becomes reconciled to his presence but even seeks his company. Together they travel into the wildest interior of Greece, and here in some mountain pass they are attacked by brigands, from whose guns Lord Ruthven receives a shot
in the shoulder. His strength strangely decreasing, a couple of days later it is plain to all that he is at the point of death. He now exacts a terrific oath that his companion shall conceal all that is known of him and that the news of his death shall not be allowed to reach England. “Swear!” cried the dying man, “Swear by all your soul reveres, by all your nature fears, swear that for a year and a day you will not impart your knowledge of my crimes or death to any living being in any way, whatever may happen, or whatever you may see.” Aubrey binds himself most solemnly by the prescribed oath, and in a paroxysm of hideous laughter Ruthven expires.
According to a promise which has been obtained from the robbers by a heavy bribe the body was conveyed to the pinnacle of a neighbouring mount, that it should be exposed to the first cold ray of the moon which rose after his death. Aubrey insists that it shall be interred in the ordinary way, but when he is conducted to the place it is found that the body has disappeared, and in spite of the protestations of the band he is convinced that they have buried the corpse for the sake of the clothes. One circumstance, however, gives Aubrey much food for thought. Among the effects of the deceased he discovered a sheath of most curious pattern and make which exactly fits the dagger that had been found in the deserted hut upon the occasion of Ianthe’s death.
Returning to England, as he retraces his journey through Rome to his horror Aubrey discovers that in spite of the precautions he had so carefully taken, Lord Ruthven succeeded only too well in his bad designs and now there is bitter sorrow and distress where once reigned peace and happiness. The lady had not been heard of since the departure of his lordship, and Aubrey instinctively divines that she has “fallen a victim to the destroyer of Ianthe.”
Upon his arrival in London the traveller is greeted by his sister, whose presentation into society had been delayed until her brother’s return from the Continent, when he might be her protector. “It was now, therefore, resolved that the next drawing room, which was fast approaching, should be the epoch of her entry into the busy scene.” Upon this gay occasion the crowd was excessive, and as Aubrey heedless and distracted is watching the gay throng a voice which he recognizes only too well, whispers in this ear: “Remember
your oath.” Turning he sees Lord Ruthven standing near him. A few nights later at the assembly of a near relation among the crowd of admirers by whom his sister is surrounded–the most prominent of the throng–he again perceives the mysterious and horrible figure. Hurrying forward he seizes his sister’s arm and requests her immediately to accompany him home. However, before they have had time to retire again does the voice whisper close to him: “Remember your oath!”
Aubrey now becomes almost distracted. He sees no remedy against a monster who has already once mocked at death. Even if he were to declare all that he knew it is probable that he would hardly be believed. Whenever he attends a social gathering his looks as he scans the company become so suspicious and strange that he soon acquires a reputation for great eccentricity. As the months go on his loathing and his fears drive him well-nigh to madness, so that eventually a physician is engaged to reside in the house and take charge of him. He is a little consoled by the thought that when the year and the day have passed he will at least be able to unburden his mind and be at any rate freed from his terrible oath. It so happens that he overhears a conversation between the doctor and one of his guardians who enlarges upon the melancholy circumstance of her brother being in so critical a state when Miss Aubrey is to be married on the following day. He instantly demands the name of the bridegroom and is told the Earl of Marsden. He requests to see his sister and in an hour or two she visits him. As they are conversing she opens a locket and shows him a miniature of the man who has won her affections. To his horror he perceives that it is a portrait of Lord Ruthven and falling into convulsions of rage he tramples it under foot. In twenty-four hours the period of his oath will have expired, and he implores them to delay the wedding at least for that time. Since there seems no good reason for doing this the request is disregarded, upon which Aubrey falls into so sad a state of utter depression succeeded by an outburst of fury that the physician concludes him to be not far removed from lunacy and doubles the restraint. During the night the busy preparations for the nuptial are ceaselessly continued. It appears that upon the pretext of being her brother’s dearest friend and travelling
companion Lord Ruthven had visited the house to inquire after Aubrey during his supposed derangement, and from the character of a visitor gradually insinuated himself into that of an accepted suitor. When the bridal party has assembled Aubrey, neglected by the servants, contrives to make his way into the public apartments which are decorated for the nuptials. Ere he can utter a cry, he is, however, at once perceived by Lord Ruthven who with more than human strength thrusts him, speechless with rage, from the room, at the same time whispering in his ear: “Remember your oath, and know, if not my bride to-day, your sister is dishonoured. Women are frail!” The attendants at once secure the unhappy man, but he can no longer support his distress. In his agonies a blood vessel breaks and he is incontinently conveyed to bed. This sad accident is kept from his sister; the marriage was solemnized, and the bride and bridegroom left London.
“Aubrey’s weakness increased; the effusion of blood produced symptoms of the near approach of death. He desired his sister’s guardians might be called, and when the midnight hour had struck, he related composedly what the reader has perused–he died immediately after.
“The guardians hastened to protect Miss Aubrey; but when they arrived it was too late. Lord Ruthven had disappeared, and Aubrey’s sister had glutted the thirst of a Vampyre!”
It were not easy to overestimate the astounding sensation which was caused by this story, and the narrative is certainly not without considerable merit, for in places the eerie atmosphere is well conveyed, Nor is it difficult to understand the extraordinary influence of the tale, since it introduced a tradition which had been long forgotten and which promised infinite possibilities in the way of that sensation and melodramatic calentures which the period craved. The first separate edition of The Vampyre appeared in 1819, and was published by Sherwood. The first issue of this, which is now very rare, contains a certain amount of preliminary matter concerning the Shelleys, Byron and Godwin. This was omitted in later issues, and accordingly one often finds that copies of The Vampyre are described as First Edition, which is strictly quite correct, although they are the Second Issue,
and naturally of far less value in a bibliographer’s eyes. A large number of reprints increased with amazing rapidity and in the same year the novel was translated into French by Henri Faber, Le Vampire, nouvelle traduite de l’anglais de Lord Byron, Paris, 1819. In February, 1820, there followed under the aegis of Charles Nodier a very obvious imitation, or rather continuation by Cyprien Bérard, Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires. “Roman de C. B. Publié par l’auteur de Jean Sbogar et de Thérèse Aubert. Paris, 1820.” In 1825, a new translation of Polidori’s story was given by Eusèbe de Salles. Nor was Germany behind hand, for The Vampyre was first translated in 1819: Der Vampyr. Eine Erzahlung aus dem Englischen des Lord Byron. Nebst einer Schilderung seines Aufenthaltes in Mytilene. Leipzig, 1819. In the following year there appeared at Frankfort a version by J. V. Adrian of Byron’s poems and prose, wherein was included Der Blutsuger. In a collection of Byron’s work the first volume of which was published at Zwickau in 1821, The Vampyre again found a place in volume V (1821), translated by Christian Karl Meifsner as Der Vampyr. The tale has also been included in various other continental collections and translations of Byron’s work even until a recent date.
Yet it was well-known all the while that Polidori was the author of the story, but as Byron’s was by far the greater name, so this sensational novella must be attributed to the cavaliero whose romantic adventures and the scandal of whose amours were thrilling the whole of Europe. Writing in the same Year as the great poet’s death Amédée Pichot of the University of Marseilles in his Essai sur le génie et le caractère de Lord Byron declared that this spurious issue “a autant contribué à faire connaître le nom de lord Byron en France, que ses poëmes les plus estimés.” Publishers insisted upon Le Vampire, “nouvelle,” being included among Byron’s works, and it is said that Ladvocat was furious when it was represented to him that since it was openly acknowledged that Polidori had written The Vampire, the translation should properly be no longer given among the poet’s work nor put forth under his name.
As might have been expected it was not long before the Vampire appeared upon the stage, and the first play of this kind would seem to be the famous melodrama by Charles
Nodier (with Achille Jouffroy and Carmouche) which with music by Alexandre Piccini and scenery by Ciceri, was produced in Paris on 13th June, 1820, at the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin, whose directors were the popular M. M. Croznier and Merle. The rôle of Lord Rutwen was taken by M. Philippe; the celebrated Madame Dorval was Malvina; and the new play had an extraordinary success.
It was immediately published as Le Vampire, mélodrame en trois actes avec un prologue, Par M. M. . . .; Musique, de M. Alexandre Piccini; Decors de M. Ciceri. This might be purchased at 1 fr. 25cs. “au magasin général de pièces de Théâtre, Chez J.-N. Barba, Libraire, Palais Royal, derrière le Théâtre Français, No. 51. “The characters in the Prologue are Ituriel, ange de la Lune, Mlle. Descotte; Oscar, génie des Mariages, M. Moëssard; and Un Vampire, M. Philippe. The scene opens in “une grotte basaltique,” the Caledonian caves of Staffa. Oscar and Ituriel discourse of Vampires, and the latter asks: “Serait-il vrai que d’horribles fantômes viennent quelquefois, sous l’apparence des droits de l’hymen, égorger une vierge timide, et s’abreuver de son sang?” This is indeed the case, and it is significant that on the morrow Malvina (Miss Aubray) is to wed “le comte de Marsden.” A vision of the sleeping Malvina appears when “Un spectre vêtu d’un linceuil s’échappe de la plus apparente de ces tombes” and rushes upon her. He is swiftly repulsed by Oscar, the good genius and the curtain falls. The characters in the play are: Lord Rutwen, M. Philippe; Sir Aubray, M. Perrin ou Théringy; Malvina, Mad. Dorval; Brigitte, Mad. St. Amand; Edgar, M. Edmon; Scop, M. Pierson; Petterson, M. Dugy; Lovette, Mlle. J. Vertpré; Oscar, M. Moëssard; with attendances of Domestiques and Villageois. The drama to a certain extent adroitly follows the lines of the Polidori novel, but with notable changes, which are well contrived and introduced. Lord Rutwen and Aubray have been fellow travellers, but the latter has no suspicion of Rutwen’s real nature. In fact he holds him in the dearest affection since once he was saved from death by his friend who, whilst shielding him from a brigand’s attack, fell by a chance shot. When Lord Rutwen arrives to claim Malvina’s hand it is with delight Aubray hails his preserver on whom he supposed killed by the bandit’s gun. It is cleverly explained how
the wound did not after all prove fatal, whereupon “Rutwen, mes desirs sont remplis” cries Aubray, “nous allons être frères” (Ils s’embrassent). Lovette a farmer’s daughter of the Marsden estate is to wed Edgar, and Rutwen graciously presents himself at the marriage feast. As Lord of the Manor he is received with every respect and homage, but he immediately proceeds to attempt Lovette’s virtue. Oscar “un viellard dont la tête vénérable inspire le respect. Sa démarche a quelque chose d’imposant et de mystérieux,” has already warned the maiden, and she coldly avoids such ardent importunities. Whilst Rutwen is actually pursuing the coy lass who shuns his embrace, Edgar in a fury fires a pistol at the seducer and he falls crying, “Je meurs.” Aubray hastening to the spot is barely in time to receive him in his arms, and with dying lips Rutwen adjures him to swear the following oath. “Promets-moi que Malvina ne saura point ce qui m’est arrivé; que tu ne feras rien pour venger ma mort avant que la première heure de la nuit n’ait sonné. Jure-moi le secret sur ce coeur expirant.” Aubray much moved cries, “Je to le jure,” and as Rutwen expires they lay the body gently on the ground. “A`ce moment on voit la lune planer entièrement sur le corps de Rutwen, et éclairer les glaçons de la montagne. La toile tombe.”
Act III. “représente un grand vestibule gothique, la porte de la chapelle se voit au fond.” Oscar solemnly utters words of warning to Brigitte, who is already full of fears which are not unnoticed by Malvina. When Aubray meets his sister she speaks joyfully of her marriage but as he is about to tell her of the fatal happening suddenly Rutwen appears and seizing his arm “lui dit d’une voix sombre: ‘Songe à ton serment’!” Aubray now realizes that there is some horrid secret and displays violent emotion crying out in broken tones: “Eloigne-toi fantôme! . . ma soeur . . . dérobe-toi, aux poursuites de ce monstre . . . il te dira qu’il est ton époux . . . refuse ton serment . . . cet hymen est un crime” At length he is carried off by the servants who fear that he has lost his senses, an idea Rutwen encourages. In spite of this disorder the bridegroom now hotly presses on the nuptials; the great doors are opened “et laisse voir la chapelle éclairée,” Rutwen and Malvina approach the altar. With a wild cry Aubray rushes in to intercept the ceremony,
upon which the monster drawing his dagger is about to plunge it deep into Malvina’s heart when one o’clock strikes,–his power is gone.” Il laisse tomber son poignard et cherche & s’enfuir, des ombres sortent de la terre et l’entraînent avec elles; l’Ange exterminateur paraît dans un nuage, la foudre éclate et les Ombres s’engloutissent avec Rutwen. Pluie de feu. TABLEAU GÉNÉRAL.”
The dialogue of this melodrama is spirited, the situations striking and well managed, and even in reading the play, one can clearly visualize that upon the stage it must have been extraordinarily effective, especially when set off with all the attractions of the scene painter’s glowing perspectives, the magic craft of the subtle machinist, and the richest adornment of romantic costume. Even before he had introduced the Vampire on to the boards Nodier had prophesied that this macabre monster would win a veritable triumph, and his prediction was amply fulfilled. “Le Vampire épouvantera, de son horrible amour, les songes de toutes les femmes, et bientôt sans doute, ce monstre encore exhumé prêtera son masque immobile, sa voix sépulcrale, son oeil d’un gris mort, . . . tout cet attirail de mélodrame à la Melpomène des boulevards; et quel succès alors ne lui est pas réservé!” On 1st July, 1819, writing in the Drapeau Blanc he was far more serious and far more emphatic: “La fable du vampire est peut-être la plus universelle de nos superstitions. . . Elle a partout l’autorité de la tradition: elle ne manque ni de celle de la théologie ni do celle de la, médicine. La philosophie même en a parlé.”
All Paris flocked to see Le Vampire, and nightly the Porte-Saint-Martin was packed to the doors. Philippe and Madame Dorval were applauded to the echo by enthusiastic audiences who recalled them again and again after the final tableau. Even the book of the play had an immense circulation and every morning Barba’s counter was freshly stocked with huge piles of the duodecimo, which rapidly diminished during the day.
Not a few critics, however, adopted a very uncompromising attitude, and were unsparing in their condemnation of so popular a melodrama. In Les Lettres Normandes, 1820, (tome XI, p. 93) Le Vampire was thus noticed: “Le mélodrame du Vampire dans lequel on voit paraître un monstre
qui suce le sang des petites filles et qui offre des Tableaux qu’une honnête femme ne pout voir sans rougir, est l’ouvrage de MM. Ch. Nodier, rédacteur du Drapeau Blanc; Achille Jouffroy, rédacteur de La Gazette et auteur des Festes de l’anarchie; et Carmouche autre rédacteur du Drapeau Blanc.” This censure is, however, wholly inspired by political feeling which thus inveighed against the royalist Nodier, and which not unmingled with green jealousy we also find prominent in the Conservateur littéraire of April, 1820 (Tome II, p. 245) where we had: “Pour balancer le succès du Vampire mélodrame dégoûtant et si monstreux que les auteurs MM. Ch. Nodier et Carmouche m’ont pas osé se faire connaître, le théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin se prépare à représenter la traduction littérale, en prose, de la Marie Stuart de Schiller.”
Yet another critic is even more trenchant and severe: “Le Vampire Ruthwen veut violer ou sucer dans les coulisses une jeune fiancée qui fuit devant lui sur le théâtre: cette situation est-elle morale? . . . Toute la pièce représente indirectement Dieu comme un être faible ou odieux qui abandonne le monde aux génies de l’enfer.”
Yet all these attacks served but to enhance the attraction, and it is remarkable for how many years this continued undiminished. In 1823 a revival of Le Vampire with Philippe and Madame Dorval again thronged the Porte-Saint-Martin to excess. Alexandre Dumas, who was present at this production has recorded how vast was his delight, how ineffable his thrills during the sombre scenes of this sepulchral melodrame. How the theatre applauded the lean livid mask of the Vampire, how it shuddered at his stealthy steps! There are, perhaps, to be found throughout the whole of the many works of Alexandre, Dumas few pages more entertaining than those chapters in his Memoires which relate with rarest humour and not a few flashes of brilliant wit his adventures at a performance of Le Vampire at the Porte-Saint-Martin in 1823. It would be difficult to find a livelier, and yet at the same time entirely serious and even critical, account of a theatrical performance. Unfortunately it is too long to give in full. In the edition of Mes Mémoires, Troisième Série, Michel Lévy, Paris, 1863, it occupies no less than five chapters, LXXIII-LXXVII, and these are none of the shortest, (pp. 136-193). One is tempted to quote some delicious passages, but the
account might lose thereby; it must be read as a delightful whole. Yet there is one extract which May certainly be made without impertinence, the story of the Vampire which was related to Dumas by his neighbour “le monsieur poli qui lisait un Elzévir.” They have discussed the tradition at some length, and incidentally the good bibliophile refers his young acquaintance to the work of Dom Calmet, from whom he gives ample citations. He further remarks that he has resided in Illyria for three years, and he very sharply animadverts upon certain details on Nodier’s melodrama which are foreign to the vampire tradition. “You speak of vampires as though they really existed,” remarks Dumas. “Of course they exist,” said his neighbour dryly. “Have you ever seen one then?” “Most certainly I have.” “That was whilst you were in Illyria?” “Yes.”
“Et vous y avez vu des vampires?”
“Vous savez que c’est la, terre claissique des vampires, l’Illyrie, comme la Hongrie, la Servie, la Pologne.
“Non, je no sais pas . . . je ne sais rien. Où étaient ces vampires que vous avez vus?
“A Spalatro. Je logeais chez un bonhomme de soixante-deux ans. Il mourut. Trois jours après avoir été enterré, il apparut la nuit à son fils et lui demanda à manger; son fils le servit selon des desirs; il mangea et disparut. Le lendemain, le fils me raconta ce qui lui était arrivé, me disant que bien certainement son père ne reviendrait pas pour une fois, et m’invitant a me mettre, la nuit suivante, à une fenêtre pour le voir entrer et sortir. J’étais curieux de voir un vampire. Je me mis à la fenêtre; mais, cette nuit-la, il ne vint pas. Le fils me dit, alors, do ne pas me décourager, qu’il viendrait probablement la nuit suivante.–La nuit suivante, je me remis donc à ma fenêtre, et, en effet, vers minuit, je reconnus parfaitement le vieillard. Il venait du côté de cimetière; il marchait d’un bon pas; mais son pas ne faisait aucun bruit. Arrivé à la porte, il frappa,; je comptai trois coups; les coups résonnèrent secs sur le chêne, comme si l’on eut frappé avec un os, et non avec un doigt. Le fils, vint ouvrir la porte, et le vieillard entra. . . .
“J’écoutais ce récit avec la plus grande attention, et je commençais à prefèrer les entr’actes au mélodrame.
“Ma curiosité était trop vivement excitée, reprit men voisin,
pour que je quittasse ma fenêtre; j’y demeurai donc. Une demi-heure après, le vieillard sortit; il retournait d’où il était venu, c’est-a-dire du côté du cimetiere. A l’angle d’une muraille, il disparut. Presque au même instant, ma porte s’ouvrit. Je me retournai vivement, c’était son fils. It était fort pâle. ‘Et bien, lui dis-je, votre père est venu?–Oui . . . L’avez-vous vu entrer? Entrer et sortir. . . Qu’a-t-il fait aujourd’hui? Il m’a demandé à boire et à manger, comme l’autre jour. Et il a bu et mangé? Il a bu et mangé . . . Mais ce n’est pas le tout. . . voici ce qui m’inquiète. . . Il m’a dit . . . Ah! il vous a parlé pour autre chose que pour vous demander à, boire et a manger? . . . Oui, il m’a dit: ‘Voici deux fois que je viens manger chez toi. C’est à ton tour maintenant de venir manger chez moi.’ Diable! . . . Je l’attends après demain à la même heure. Diable! Diable! Eh! oui, justement, voilà ce qui me tracasse.’ Le surlendemain, on le trouva mort dans son lit! Ce même jour, deux ou trois autres, personnes du même village qui avaient vu aussi le vieillard, et qui lui avaient parlé, tombèrent malades et moururent à leur tour. Il fut donc reconnu que le vieillard était vampire. On s’informa auprès de moi; je racontai ce que favais vu et entendu. La justice se transporta au cimetière. On ouvrit les tombeaux de tous ceux qui étaient morts depuis six semaines; tous ces, cadavres étaient en décomposition. Mais, quand on en vint au tombeau de Kisilova,–c’était le nom du vieillard,–on le trouva les yeux ouverts, la bouche vermeille, respirant à pleins poumons, et cependant immobile, comme mort. On lui enfonça un pieu dans le coeur; il jeta un grand cri, et rendit le sang par le bouche; puis on le mit sur un bûcher, on le réduisit en cendre, et l’on jeta la cendre au vent. . . . Quelque temps après, je quittai le pays de sorte que je ne pus savoir si son fils était devenu vampire comme lui.
“Pourquoi serait-il devenu vampire comme lui? demandai-je.
“Ah! parce que c’est l’habitude, que les personnes qui meurent du vampirisme deviennent vampires.
“En vérité, vous dites cela comme si c’était un fait avéré.
“Mais c’est qu’aussi c’est un fait avéré, connu, enregistré!”
It will readily be remembered that in Monte-Cristo when
during the performance of Parisina at the Teatro Argentino, Rome, the Count and Haidée enter their box, the Countess G—— directing her opera-glass in that direction asks Franz d’Epinay who they may be remarking that as for herself, “All I can say is that the gentleman whose history I am unable to furnish seems to me as though he had just been dug up; be looks more like a corpse permitted by some friendly gravedigger to quit his tomb for a while, and revisit this earth of ours, than anything human. How ghastly pale he is!” “Oh, he is always as colourless as you now see him,” said Franz. “Then you know him?” almost screamed the countess. “Oh! pray do, for Heaven’s sake, tell us all about–is he a vampire or a resuscitated corpse, or what?” A few moments later when the lady has carefully studied the loge of their mysterious vis-à-vis, Franz demands: “Well, what do you think of our mysterious neighbour?” “Why, that he is no other than Lord Ruthven himself in a living frame,” was the reply. This fresh allusion to Byron drew a smile to Franz’s countenance; although he could not but allow that if anything was likely to induce belief in the existence of vampires, it would be the presence of such a man as the mysterious personage before him . . . . . Is it possible,” whispered Franz, “that you entertain any fear?” “I’ll tell you,” answered the countess. “Byron had the most perfect belief in the existence of vampires, and even assured me he had seen some. The description he gave me perfectly corresponds with the features and character of the man before us. Oh! it is the exact personification of what I have been led to expect. The coal-black hair, large bright, glittering eyes, in which a wild, unearthly fire seems burning,-the same ghastly paleness!”
Nearly thirty years after Dumas in collaboration with Maquet utilized the theme of Le Vampire for his own drama of the same name which was given at the Ambigu-Comique, 20th December, 1851, and which may conveniently be considered here.
Le Vampire is described as a “Drame Fantastique en Cinq Actes, en Dix Tableaux” and there are very many characters in this remarkable play. The principal parts were taken as follows: Lord Ruthwen, M. Arnault; Gilbert de Tiffauges, M. Goujet; Juan Rozo, a Spanish inn-keeper, M. Coquet;
Botaro, his son-in-law, M. Curcy; Lazare, M. Laurent; Lahennée, M. Thierry; Jarwick, M. Lavergne; the Ghoul, Mme. Lucie Mabire; Hélène de Tiffauges, Mile. Jane Essler; Juana, Mile. Marie Clarisse; Antonia, Mlle. Daroux; Petra, Rozo’s daughter, Mile. Heloïse; and the mystic fairy Mélusine, Mlle. Isabelle Constant. Lazare is a capital character, but the intrusion from Oriental legend of the ghoul cannot be considered happy. On the other hand the appearance of Mélusine, whose legend was collected about the end of the fourteenth century by Jean d’Arras, is certainly effective and entirely in keeping with the history, since according to Paracelsus she was an occult power, and in folk lore she is often represented as protecting ancient houses–in Belgium she is the guardian of the old family de Gavre,–whilst one of her four sons became King of Brittany.
It is hardly necessary to do more than give the very briefest outline of the story as Dumas tells it. The play opens with a crowded scene of merrymakers in the patio of Juan Rozo’s inn. They are celebrating the nuptials of his daughter with young Botaro, and every room is occupied by his friends. and acquaintance in festive mood. Juana, who is staying at the hostlery seeks for a guide to the castle of Tormenar, which lies at some little distance, for there she is to meet Don Luis de Figuerroa, whom she will wed upon the following day. She has secretly left the convent of Annunciades, where she was a boarder, since her father has other designs for her hand, and accordingly it is necessary that she should meet her betrothed in some lonely spot. But nobody, not even the good-natured Lazare, the servant of the inn, will conduct her to the haunted castle, “un château qui est en ruine, un château qui ne loge que des reptiles, et qui n’héberge que des fantômes.” However, a numerous company, amongst whom is Gilbert de Tiffauges, arrives at the inn, and these travellers on being told that they cannot be accommodated in spite of the fact that night is falling, incontinently resolve to take up their quarters in Tormenar, so in spite of the warnings about ghosts and goblins, having once well stocked themselves with wine and food they merrily set forth, Gilbert taking charge of Juana who has confided to him her story. However, a mysterious figure, a lady, apparently of rank, who has been staying at the inn watches them as they take
their departure and mutters to herself as she fixes her gaze upon Juana: “Il te faut deux heures pour aller retrouver ton beau fiancé. . . . Je l’aurai joint dans trois minutes!” She is in fact the ghoul, a female vampire, and with the speed of lightning she has gone to destroy the unfortunate Don Luis.
In the second Act we see the huge Gothic hall of the old castle. A door opens and from an inner chamber the ghoul rushes out exclaiming: “Il était jeune! Il était beau! . . . Me voilà, redevenue jeune et belle!” The voice of Gilbert is now heard, and with the cry, “À l’an prochain, Gilbert.” she disappears from sight. It will be remarked that in his treatment of the vampire tradition Dumas has adopted the legend that the vampire must year by year rejuvenate his waning forces by absorbing the life of another and sucking from another’s veins fresh blood, a detail which although it may recommend itself to, and legitimately be used by, the dramatist and the writer of romances is actually inexact and but rarely to be met with, and only then in folk-lore not of the first value. The travellers, no small party, spread their provisions upon the huge tables in the old hall and laughing at the stories of ghosts and apparitions are soon in convivial mood. The conversation, however, eventually turns on the supernatural and Gilbert tells of his old home in Brittany, where one room in the castle is hung with the tapestry of the Fairy Mélusine, representing this lady and all her attendants. The story goes that if any of the family sleeps in that room she will descend from the tapestry and reveal his fortune, warning him of danger should such threaten. Another companion who has sojourned in Epirus speaks of the vampires, the women who will attack men and leave them dead and sapless; the men who will attack women to drink their blood. Just as the words are uttered Lord Ruthwen enters and announces himself as a belated traveller, who, finding no room at Rozo’s inn down in the village has made his way thither,-he has even taken Lazare into his service. Presently the company disperse to their several rooms to make themselves as comfortable as may be for the night in such difficult circumstances. To his horror Gilbert discovers in the chamber he is to occupy the body of a young man, strangely pale, with a slight wound in the throat. By a letter he finds near upon the body it is plain that this can be none other
than the unfortunate Don Luis. At the same moment a piercing cry is heard, and Juana ghostly pale and dying totters from her room. Gilbert rushes to her assistance just in time to see Lord Ruthwen dart out after her as she falls dead at his feet. In a moment he has drawn his sword and strikes Ruthwen to the heart, before he recognizes who it may be. In faltering accents Ruthwen explains that hearing a cry he has gone to the assistance of the lady, and with his last breath he implores Gilbert, who is well-nigh distracted at the unhappy accident, to bear his body to the hillside, where it may be bathed in the earliest rays of the new moon. This Gilbert promises, and in the final tableau we see the body of Lord Ruthwen laid upon the mountain. The moon slowly issues from the clouds, and as its silver light falls upon the corpse it seems as though the eyes opened and the mouth smiled. A moment more and the Vampire leaps to his feet re-vitalized and with fresh energy for some new demoniac enterprise.
In Act III. we find ourselves in Brittany, about a year later, at the château de Tiffauges where Hélène awaits her brother’s return. After an affectionate greeting he confides to her the secret of his love for Antonia a lady of Spalatro in Dalmatia, and she in her turn informs him that she is about to give her hand to the Baron de Marsden. This latter proves to be none other than Lord Ruthwen, who informs Gilbert that he was sore wounded indeed at Tormenar, but that certain kindly shepherds finding him on the mountain side nursed him back to life. Moreover, he explains his change of name by informing them that his elder brother having recently died, he has succeeded to the title and estates. Visiting Tiffauges in the hope of meeting Gilbert once more, he has fallen a victim to the charms of Hélène. The explanation is cleverly contrived, but at the same time Gilbert is hardly convinced; he feels that there is some mysterious and terrible secret lurking in the background. A happy idea strikes him. He will sleep that night in the tapestry chamber of the lady Mélusine. The scene that follows must have been extraordinarily effective upon the stage. Gilbert is slumbering, and from their places in the tapestry step forth Mélusine and her court to warn the scion of her house that danger is near. From the framed canvas and the panels descend with stately stride
the old barons to tell their descendant of the horror that encompasses him, Mélusine reveals the secret.
“Prions, pour qu’ à Gilbert Dieu tout-puissant inspire Un généreux effort.
Ruthwen est un démon, Ruthwen est un vampire; Son amour, c’est la mort!”
(One cannot but recall the famous scene in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore with its subtle admixture of beauty, fantasy and humour.)
In Act IV of Le Vampire we are shown the accomplishment of Ruthwen’s designs against Hélène. Gilbert’s frenzied warnings and denunciations are heard with alarm but with unbelief. They whisper that he is a lunatic, and when Ruthwen relates a cunning story of a mischance in Spain which temporarily unsettled Gilbert’s reason, a story that seems borne out in every detail by the unhappy brother’s horror and despair, the attendants for his own safety seek to restrain their young master. Ruthwen triumphs. But now the ghoul appears and bids him take heed how he seeks Gilbert’s life for that is hers, and she will not likely relinquish her prey. Ruthwen defies her and the two vampires part in horrid enmity. Lazare cautions Hélène that her brother’s story is no figment, but it is too late, the vampire seizes his victim and as midnight strikes, he destroys his hapless bride and quaffs his fill from her veins. Too late Gilbert succeeds in forcing an entrance. There is a terrific struggle, and Ruthwen is hurled from the window into the depths of a tremendous valley.
In the last act we find that in order to escape the pursuit of Ruthwen, who has extricated himself unhurt but filled with designs of even more malignant vengeance, Gilbert has transported Antonia to Circassia. Here, however, we meet the ghoul who, disguising herself under the name of Ziska, obtained admittance to the castle in the quality of an attendant upon Antonia. She informs Gilbert that she alone can save his betrothed from the vampire, and at that moment the ghastly face of Ruthwen is actually seen peering through the window. She demands that he shall relinquish Antonia’s hand, and accept her love though it be to death. He refuses to betray Antonia, and at length by a supreme act of renunciation she divulges the secret whereby the Vampire may be annihilated, although this revelation must put an end to her own
existence. Ziska explains how Gilbert’s sword is to be blessed by a priest with a certain occult formula and if the weapon thus consecrated be driven through the Vampire’s heart it will once and for all rid the world of this infernal pest. Yet as she speaks she seems to vanish in flames and they hear her last sad sigh; “Adieu pour ce monde! Adieu pour l’autre! Adieu pour l’éternité”!
The final scene is a deserted cemetery. “Tombes, cyprès. Fond sombre et fantastique; neige sur la terre; lune rouge au ciel.” The Vampire lies half in and half out of his grave, grinning hideously. Gilbert is standing near. “Pour la dernière fois, adore Dieu!” he adjures. “Non,” yells the monster. “Alors, desespère et meurs”! cries Gilbert and plunges the hallowed sword into the monster’s heart. The Vampire falls back into the grave, howling fearfully, and a heavy stone closing him in fast seals him there in the womb of the earth for ever and ever. “Au nom du Seigneur, Ruthwen, je to scelle dans cette tombe pour l’éternité”, et Gilbert trace sur la pierre une croix que devient lumineuse. A great aureola fills the sky and. multitudes of rejoicing angels are seen. Among them are Hélène and Juana, smiling in happiest benison, whilst there rises from the earth the body of Ziska, radiant and beautiful, to join the glorious throng among whose immortal ranks she is enrolled by the merits of her great act of renunciation and unselfish love.
This drama of Dumas is infinitely more elaborate than the play of Nodier, but I am not altogether certain whether it is in some respects so good a work. The first two acts attain a high level; the scene in the tapestry chamber would be most picturesque upon the stage; there are several other telling situations and effective speeches, but as a whole it is too prolix, and we feel that the episode of Antonia in particular is an anti-climax. Nor, as I have remarked before, although material use is made of the character, can one consider the figure of the ghoul entirely in keeping with the rest. Had the level of the opening scenes been maintained we should possess an excellent piece of work. But without concentration and compression that was hardly possible, and here we have the secret of Nodier’s success. Although he has an occasional crudity, it may be, which Dumas might not have tolerated, so swift is his action, as is essential to
melodrama, so cleverly does he engage the interest of his audience, that we have no time to criticize a roughness here and there, but are rather intent to follow the next turn of the tale.
Immediately upon the furore created by Nodier’s Le Vampire at the Porte-Saint-Martin in 1819 vampire plays of every kind from the most luridly sensational to the most farcically ridiculous pressed on to the boards. A contemporary critic cries: “There is not a theatre in Paris without its Vampire! At the Porte-Saint-Martin we have le Vampire; at the Vaudeville le Vampire again; at the Variétés les trois Vampires ou le clair de la lune.”
Jean Larat further mentions a play by Paul Féval, Le fils Vampire. The version by John Wilson Ross of The Loves of Paris, a romance, published by G. Vickers, 3, Catherine Street, Strand, 1846, is said to be “Translated from the French of Paul Féval, author of ‘The Vampire,’ ‘The Loves of the Palais-Royal,’ ‘The Receipt at Midnight,’ ‘Stella,’ ‘The Son of the Devil,’ etc., etc.”, but it does not appear whether “The Vampire” mentioned here is a play or a romance. Probably it is the latter but no such translation is known.
Le Vampire which was produced at the Vaudeville, 15 June, 1820, is a comédic-vaudeville in one act by Scribe and Mélesville. The scene is laid Hungary, “une salle d’un chateau gothique,” and the characters are as follows: Le Comte de Valberg, feld-maréchal, M. Guillemin; Adolphe de Valberg, son néveu, M. Isambert; le Baron do Lourdorff, M. Fontenay; Saussmann, concierge du chateau, M. Hippolyte; Charles, valet du comte, M. Fichet; un Notaire, M. Justin; Hermance de Mansfred, Madame Rivière; Nancy, sa soeur, Madame Lucie; Péters, filleul de Saussmann, Madame Minette; with attendance of domestics and wedding guests. This elegant little piece opens with nuptials of Hermance de Mansfred at the castle of the Baron de Lourdorff, to whom she is betrothed. It appears that she has something trifled with the affections of Adolphe de Valberg, now supposed dead. Her sister, Nancy, acknowledges that she loved Adolphe, but kept silence owing to his courtship of Hermance. Adolphe’s uncle, the Count de Valberg, who knows nothing of the two ladies, fearing his nephew is unworthily entangled has had him held in military detention at Temesvar, whence
however he has disappeared. The intrigue of the seventeen scenes, although clearly unravelled in the play, is a little complicated, and it must suffice to relate by an accident Adolphe appears at the castle. Upon being asked his name he answers: “Lord Ruthwen. An Englishman,” whereupon he is immediately taken to be a Vampire and the servants are thrown into a state of panic. Eventually he is reconciled to his uncle who recognizes him as the brave young hero by whom his life was saved on a recent battlefield; Nancy’s fidelity is rewarded with the hand of the man she loves, and who now realizes that Hermance’s heart was never his; so that the curtain falls upon a double wedding.
Several Pretty lyrics are interwoven with the dialogue and Nancy’s first song, to the air “De sommeiller, encor ma chère from Fanchon la vielleuse, is as follows:
Oui, ces paysans respectables
Nous rapellent le bon vieux temps:
Chez eux on croit encore au diable,
Aux vampires, au revenants;
On croit à toutes les magies,
Aux amours, aux soins assidus,
Aux grands sorciers, aux grands genies . . .
Bref à tout ce qu’on ne voit plus!
Les Trois Vampires, ou le clair de, la lune which was being played at the Variétés is a thoroughly amusing farce in one act by Brazier, Gabriel, and Armand. It shows the adventures of a bon bourgeois, M. Gobetout, who has so distracted his brain by reading stories of Vampires and ghosts that when one night he sees in his garden three shadowy figures he is well nigh beside himself with terror as he supposes they can be no other than three vampires infesting his house. A little later he catches sight of his two daughters and their abigail who appear actually to be eating with the mysterious strangers. “Les vampires qui soupent avec mes filles!” he groans in accents of despair. However it proves that the supper is very material, cold chicken and a glass of good wine, whilst the rendezvous is of an amorous nature, since the visitors are two young sparks and their valet. So the play ends with a triple marriage. One remark of the worthy M. Gobetout was, it is said, nightly greeted with a hurricane of applause. He was wont to murmur in pensive accents: “Les vampires
il nous viennent d’Angleterre . . . C’est encore une gentilesse de ces Messieurs . . . ils nous font de jolis cadeaux!”
Another farce, Encore un Vampire, which when produced in 1820 at Paris, met with considerable success, was published as by Emile B. L., and yet another vampire burlesque was contributed by A. Rousseau. Les Etrennes d’un Vampire at a minor theatre was billed as from a manuscript “trouvé au cimitière de Père-Lachaise.”
More amusing is the work of Désaugiers who in August, 1820, gave Cadet Buteux, vampire, avec relation véridique du prologue et des trois actes de cet épouvantable mélodrame écrit sous la dictée de ce passeux du Gros Caillou, par son secretaire, Désaugiers. When published by Rosa, 1820, this libretto bore the motto: “Vivent les morts!”
Yet another burlesque published by Martinet, 1820, is Le Vampire, mélodrame en trois actes, paroles de Pierre de la Fosse de la rue des Morts. A few verses from this vaudeville may be interesting to quote, particularly as showing the long continued popularity of Nodier’s melodrama.
Lisant pour un sou d’politique
Plac’ Royale, sur un banc,
J’tombe, le tour est diabolique,
A’ point nommé, sur l’Drapeau blanc.
J’prends un billet, non pas pour le parterre,
Ces places sont réservées aux amis,
Sans l’secours de l’abbé Saint-Pierre,
Avec treiz sous’ j’monte au paradis.
Au dernier bane, paix, qu’chacun s’taise
A’ bas la gueule on crie du premier rang,
L’rideau s’lève et quoique très mal à l’aise,
Le croirez-vous, j’vois le Père Lachaise,
Du dernier bane.
The Vampire is described as “d’échappé de corbillard,” One sees everywhere
Des fantôms, des revenans,
Mettant la téte a la fenêtre,
Afin d’regarder les passans.
There was even a Polichinel Vampire which when performed at the Circus Maurice in 1822 attracted all who had a mind
for a hearty laugh, and a contemporary visitor to Paris merrily wrote that “Polichinel is the very jolliest fellow in the world.”
A comic operetta in one act, Le Vampire by Martin Joseph Mengals which was produced at Ghent, 1 March, 1826, deserves no more than passing mention.
James Robinson Planché speedily adapted Nodier’s Le Vampire as The Vampire, or, The Bride of the Isles, and his version with music by Joseph Binns Hart was brought out at the English Opera House, 9th August, 1820, with T. P. Cooke as Ruthven, Earl of Marsden, the Vampire. Owing to his fine acting in the part, and perhaps a little to the scenic effects–the scene is laid in the Caverns of Staffa–the play was given nightly to packed houses. It is interesting to remark that for this piece the celebrated vampire trap was invented. Of this I quote the following simple description: “A vampire trap consists of two or more flaps, usually india-rubber, through which the sprite can disappear almost instantly, where he falls into a blanket fixed to the under surface of the stage. As with the star trap, this trap is secured against accidents by placing another piece or slide, fitting close beneath when not required, and removed when the prompter’s bell gives the signal to make ready.”
The following account of the production of The Vampire is given by Planché in his Recollections and Reflections, Chapter III. Having just spoken of an Easter piece with which he had furnished Drury Lane, Abudah, or, The Talisman of Oromanes, founded upon one of the Tales of the Genii and which although it had a run of nine nights Planché calls a very poor piece, “miserably put on the stage,” he continues to speak of a subsequent success, and tells us: “A more fortunate melodrama of mine, “The Vampire, or The Bride of the Isles,” was produced at the Lyceum, or English Opera House, as it was then called, 9th August, 1820. Mr. Samuel James Arnold, the proprietor and manager, had placed in my hands, for adaptation, a French melodrama, entitled “Le Vampire,” the scene of which was laid, with the usual recklessness of French dramatists, in Scotland, where the superstition never existed. I vainly endeavoured to induce Mr. Arnold to let me change it to some place in the East of Europe. He had set his heart on Scotch music and dresses–
the latter, by the way, were in stock–laughed at my scruples, assured me that the public would neither know nor care–and in those days they certainly did not–and therefore there was nothing left for me but to do my best with it. The result was most satisfactory to the management. The situations were novel and effective; the music lively and popular; the cast strong, comprising T. P. Cooke, who made a great hit in the principal character, Harley, Bartley, Pearman, Mrs. Chatterley and Miss Love. The trap now so well known as “the Vampire trap” was invented for this piece, and the final disappearance of the Vampire caused quite a sensation. The melodrama had a long run, was often revived, and is to this day a stock piece in the country. I had an opportunity many years afterwards, however, to treat the same subject in a manner much more satisfactory to myself, and, as it happened, in the same theatre, under the same management; but of that anon.”
The full cast of The Vampire, or, The Bride of the Isles was originally as follows: “In the Introductory Vision”; Unda, Spirit of the Flood, Miss Love; Ariel, Spirit of the Air, Miss Worgman; The Vampire, Mr. T. P. Cooke; Lady Margaret, Mrs. Chatterly. “In the Drama “: Ruthven, Earl of Marsden, the Vampire, Mr. T. P. Cooke; Ronald, Baron of the Isles, Mr. Bartley; Robert, an English Attendant on the Baron, Mr. Pearman; M’Swill, the Baron’s Henchman, Mr. Harley; Andrew, Steward to Ruthven, Mr. Minton; Father Francis, Mr. Shaw; Lady Margaret, Daughter of Ronald, Mrs. Chatterly; Effie, Daughter of Andrew, Miss Carew; Bridget Lord Ronald’s Housekeeper, Mrs. Grove. With regard to the costumes of which Planché speaks it is interesting to remark that the principal characters Ruthven and Lady Margaret are described as follows: Ruthven, Silver breast plate, studded with steel buttons; plaid kilt; philibeg; flesh arms and leggings; sandals; Scotch hat and feathers; sword and dagger. Lady Margaret, white satin dress, trimmed with plaid and silver; plaid silk sash; Scotch hat and feather. This is in the true transpontine tradition of Ossianic attire. The play is timed to take one hour and thirty minutes in representation-and Planché has done his work of adaptation very well, although I doubt whether his few slight departures from the original are improvements. Nevertheless he has
given the dialogue a native turn and an ease which were at this period too often lacking in similar versions from the French.
In 1825, T. P. Cooke visited Paris and appeared as Le Monstre at the Porte-Saint-Martin in Planché’s melodrama which proved a remarkable success, running for no less than eighty nights.
The Vampire or The Bride of the Isles has its place among the repertory of Hodgson’s “Juvenile Drama,” and this in itself is an indication of no small popularity.
In The Second Maiden’s Tragedy, a Globe play of 1611, licensed for the stage by Sir George Buc on 31st October of that year, a macabre drama now generally attributed to Tourneur, there are some remarkable scenes which culminate in something very like necrophilia, and a perverse ill-omened melancholy pervades the whole action. In Act IV the Tyrant, a usurper, ordering soldiers to attend him with “Lanthornes and a pickax” makes his way at midnight to the Cathedral, crying:
Death nor the marble prison my love sleeps in
Shall keep her body lockt up from mine arms.
I must not be so cozened.
A little later: “Enter the Tirant agen at a farder dore, which opened, bringes hym to the Toombe wher the Lady lies buried; The Toombe here discouered ritchly set forthe.” He adjures the sepulchre:
The house of silence and the Calms of rest
After tempestuous life, I claim of thee
A mistress one of the most beauteous sleepers
That ever lay so cold.
The vault is forced, whilst the lover soliloquizes:
O the moon rises; what reflection
Is thrown about the sanctified building,
E’en in a twinkling, how the monuments glisten
As if Death’s palaces were all massy silver
And scorned the name of marble. Art thou cold?
I have no faith in’t, yet I believe none.
Madam; ’tis I, sweet lady, pry’thee speak
‘Tis thy love calls on thee; thy king, thy servant.
No! not a word, all prisoners to pale silence
I’ll prove a kiss.
Here’s chill venery!
‘Twould make a pandar’s heels ache. I’ll be sworn
All my teeth chatter in my head to see’t.
By th’ mass, thou’rt cold indeed. Beshrew thee for’t,
Unkind to thine own blood? Hard hearted lady,
What injury hast thou offered to the youth
And pleasure of thy days: refuse the Court
And steal to this hard lodging, was that wisdom
. . . . Since thy life has left me
I’ll clasp the body for the spirit that dwelt in’t,
And love the house still for the mistress’ sake.
Thou art mine now spite of destruction
And Govianus; and I will possess thee.
I once read of a Herod whose affection.
Pursued a virgin’s love as I did thine,
Who for the hate she owed him killed herself
(As thou too rashly didst), without all pity;
Yet he preserved her body dead in honey,
And kept her long after her funeral:
But I’ll unlock the treasure house of art
With keys of gold and bestow all on thee
Here slaves receive her humbly from our arms,
. . . . So reverently
Bear her before us gently to our palace.
Place you the stone again where we first found it.
After a while the scene is in the palace: “They bringe the Body in a Chaire drest up in black veluet which setts out the pailenes of the handes and face, And a faire Chayne of pearle crosse her brest and the Crucyfex aboue it; He standes silent awhile letting the Musique play, beeknyng the soldiers that bringe her in to make obeisaunce to her, and he hym self makes a lowe honour to the body and kisses the hande. A song within in Voyces.
O what is Beauty that’s so much adored
A flattring glass that cozens her beholders.
The Night of Death makes it look pale and horrid
The Daynty preseru’d flesh how soone it molders
To loue it lyuinge it bewitchett manye
But after life is seldom heard of any.”
How pleasing art thou to us even in death
I love thee yet, above all women living
And shall do seven years hence. p. 310
I can see nothing to be mended in thee
But the too constant paleness of thy cheek.
I’d give the kingdom, but to purchase there
The breadth of a red Rose, in natural colour,
And think it the best bargain that ever king made yet,
But Fate’s my hinderer,
And I must only rest content with Art,
And that I’ll have in spite on’t.
Accordingly an artist in painting and perfumery is summoned to adorn the face of the corpse and give it a fresh lively red colour. However this merchant of cosmetics is none other than Govianus, the rightful heir, disguised, and he fucuses the dead cheeks and lips with a peter which is confected with a strong poison, so that when the Tyrant lustfully kisses the cold flesh, he is blasted with the venom and falls in the agonies of death. The incident is extremely powerful, if extremely horrible. As the Tyrant expires Govianus taunts him thus
O thou sacrilegious villain,
Thou thief of rest, robber of monuments,
Cannot the body after funeral
Sleep in the grave for thee? Must it be raised?
Only to please the wickedness of thine eye?
Does all things end with death and not thy lust?
Hast thou devised a new way to damnation,
More dreadful than the soul of any sin
Did ever pass yet between earth and hell?
A very large number of plays are founded upon what may be termed the “Romeo and Juliet” motive, the awakening, or the restoration to life in some sort, of a loved one supposed dead, arousing from a trance, it may be, or a coma, a theme admitting almost innumerable variants. In the Italian, French and German theatres alone–nor does this rough list pretend to be exhaustive–we have Sforza d’ Oddi’s Imorti vivi (1576); Pagnini’s Imorti vivi (1600); Rota’s La morta viva (1674); Douville’s Les morts vivans (1654); Quinault’s Le fantôme amoureux (1659); Boursault’s Le Mort vivant (1662); Sedaine’s Der Tote ein Freyer (1778); Kurländer’s Der tote Neffe; Friedrich Rambach’s Der Scheintote; Leopold Huber’s Der Scheintote; Theodore Friedrich’s Die Scheintoten; F. L. W. Meyer’s Der Verstorbene; G. Lebrun’s Die Verstorbenen; Tenelli’s Der Verstorbene; Holbein’s “romantisches Gemälde” Der Verstorbene; Paers’ opera Die lebenden Toten; and a ballet
(1803) Der lebendige Tote; cum multis aliis quae nunc perscribere longum est.
It may be convenient here briefly to review the progress of the Vampire in the theatre, at least in his most important appearances.
An Italian opera, I vampiri, the work of the much applauded Neapolitian composer Silvestro di Palma, which was performed at the Teatro San Carlo in 1800 did not of course take anything from the novel by Polidori which indeed, it preceded by nearly twenty years. but was rather inspired by the famous treatise of Guiseppe Davanzati: Dissertazione sopra i Vampiri di Gioseppe Davanzati Patrizio Fiorentino e Tranese, Cavaliere Gerosolimitano, Arcivescovo di Trani, e Patriarca d’Alessandria. (Seconda edizione.) Nalopi. M.D.CC.LXXXIX. Presso Filippo Raimondi. Con licenzi de’ Superiori.
On 28th March, 1828, at Leipzig, was produced an opera, “Grosse romantische Oper,” Der Vampyr, founded on the original French melodrama, the scene being changed from Scotland to Hungary. The libretto is by Wilhelm August Wohlbrück and the music by his yet more famous brother-in-law Heinrich August Marschner. Der Vampyr was an enormous success. A free adaptation of this being made by J. R. Planché, and produced at the Lyceum, 25th August, 1829, it ran for sixty nights. In his Recollections and Reflections which have before been quoted, Planché commences Chapter X by some account of this. “In the summer of 1829 I had the opportunity of treating the subject of ‘The Vampire’ in accordance with my own ideas of propriety. The French melodrama had been converted into an opera for the German stage, and the music composed by Marschner.
“Mr. Hawes, who had obtained a score of it, having induced Mr. Arnold to produce it at the Lyceum, I was engaged to write the libretto, and consequently laid the scene of action in Hungary, where the superstition exists to this day, substituted for a Scotch chieftain a Wallachian Boyard, and in many other respects improved upon my earlier version. The opera was extremely well sung, and the costumes novel as well as correct, thanks to the kindness of Dr. Walsh, the traveller, who gave me some valuable information respecting the national dresses of the Magyars and the Wallachians.
“I am surprised that Marschner’s most dramatic and melodious works, ‘Der Vampyr,’ ‘Die Judin,’ &c., have not been introduced to our more advanced musical audiences at one or other of our great operatic establishments.
“The production of ‘Der Vampyr’ was followed by that of ‘The Brigand’ at Drury Lane.”
Polidori’s tale formed the basis of a romantic opera in three acts, the libretto of which was from the pen of C. M. Heigel, and the music by p. von Lindpaintner. This was seen at Stuttgart on 2 Ist September, 1828, and it proved a remarkable success. It was announced as being from “Byron’s famous tale,” although at this date such an attribution can hardly have deceived any.
On 25th May, 1857, there was produced in Berlin a “Komischen Zauber-Ballet Morgano” by Paul Taglioni with music by J. Hertzel. The scene is laid in Hungary during the seventeenth century, and in the sixth tableau Elsa dances an infernal lavolta with the vampires in their haunted castle, but she is rescued by her lover, Retzka, who slays the vampire Morgano with a consecrated poniard. In 1861 at Milan appeared a ballet by Rotta, Il vampiro, with music by Paolo Giorza. Guten Abend Herr Fischer! oder, Der Vampyr is a light vaudeville in one act by G. Belly and G. Löffler, with music by W. Telle, which had some success in its day. Ein Vampyr by Ulrich Franks (Ulla Wolf) given at Vienna in 1877 is a farce taken from Scribe.
In England Dion Boucicault’s The Vampire, in three acts was produced at the Princess’s Theatre, London, 19th June, 1852, when the author made his first appearance before a metropolitan audience. Of this drama the following criticism, if criticism it may be called, was given by Henry Morley in his “Journal of a London Playgoer.” It must be remembered that Morley continually shows himself extremely prejudiced and his censure must not be taken any more seriously than we regard the ill-word of many critics to-day, for example, the shrill petulant piping and the childish miffs of St. John Ervine in the sullens. Under 19th June Morley writes: “If there be any truth in the old adage, that ‘when things are at the worst they must mend,’ the bettering of Spectral Melodrama is not distant; for it has reached the extreme point of inanity in the new piece which was produced on
Monday at the Princess’s Theatre, under the attractive title of The Vampire.
“Its plot is chiefly copied from a piece which some years ago turned the Lyceum into a Chamber of Horrors; but it has been spun out into three parts, facetiously described as ‘Three Dramas’: the little period of a century has been interposed between each part; and, in order that the outrage on the possible shall be complete, the third part is projected forward into the year that will be 1860! By this ingenious arrangement, the resuscitation of the original Vampire has been enabled to supply the lovers of the revolting at the Princess’s with three acts of murder–that is, two consumated, and one attempted; but, as the delicate process of vampirical killing is exactly after the same pattern in each case, the horror is quite worn out before the career of the creature terminates. Nothing but tedious trash remains.
“To ‘an honest ghost’ one has no objection; but an animated corpse which goes about in Christian attire, and although never known to eat, or drink, or shake hands, is allowed to sit at good men’s feasts; which renews its odious life every hundred years by sucking a young lady’s blood, after fascinating her by motions which resemble mesmerism burlesqued; and which, notwithstanding its well-purchased longevity, is capable of being killed during its term in order that it may be revived by moonbeams–such a ghost as this passes all bounds of toleration.
“The monster of absurdity was personated by its reviver Mr. Boucicault, with due paleness of visage, stealthiness of pace, and solemnity of tone; the scenery, especially a moonlit ridge amidst the heights of Snowdon, was beautiful, and the costumes were prettily diversified; but the dreary repetition of fantastical horror almost exhausted even the patience which a benefit enjoins. Unfortunately, the mischief of such a piece, produced at a respectable theatre, does not end with the weariness of the spectators, who come to shudder and remain to yawn; for it is not only ‘beside the purpose of playing,’ but directly contravenes it; and though it may be too dull to pervert the tastes of those who witness its vapid extravagances, it has power to bring discredit on the most genial of arts.”
It may be pointed out that this account, probably through ignorance, possibly of intent, is deliberately inaccurate. p. 314 Although confessedly a poorer play than Planché’s The Vampire Dion Boucicault’s drama is not derived from the earlier piece, but both are taken from the same source, Polidori’s romance. Seeing that Henry Morley was Emeritus Professor of English Literature in University College, London, it were reasonable to suppose that he should have been acquainted with Polidori’s novella. Or perhaps I rather ought to say that therefor it was not to be expected he should have known of this famous work.
Boucicault afterwards revived The Vampire as The Phantom, and this was given in London with good applause. The American cast of the characters of The Phantom, “As Produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York City,” is as follows: In Act I (1645), The Phantom, Dion Boucicault; Lord Albert Clavering, Mr. J. B. Howe; Sir Hugh Neville of Graystock, Mr. Ralton; Sir Guy Musgrave, Mr. Etynge; Ralph Gwynne, Mr. Levere; Davy, Mr. T. B. Johnstone; Lucy Peveryl, Miss Agnes Robertson; Ellen, Miss Alleyne; Maud, Miss Ada Clare; Janet, Mrs. H. P. Grattan. In Act II (1750), Alan Raby, Dion Boucicault; Colonel Raby, Mr. Ralton; Edgar, his nephew, Mr. J. B. Howe; Dr. Rees, Mr. Burnett; Curate, Mr. Paul; Corporal Stump, Mr. Peters; Ada Raby, Miss Agnes Robertson; Jenny, Mrs. L. H. Allen.
Subsequently, I presume when The Phantom was given in London, some modifications were made which seem to me most decidedly to be improvements. The first act was placed in the latter part of the reign of Charles II, and two hundred years were supposed to elapse between the first and the second acts. This necessitated trifling changes in the dialogue at certain points; and naturally a complete alteration of costume to a modern style for Act II. In fact the script of the play which is printed in Dicks’ Standard Plays, No. 697, (c. 1887) under “Costume” gives the following direction”: “The costumes in the First Act are of the period of the latter part of the reign of Charles the Second. In the Second Art the respective characters are dressed in the provincial costume of Wales at the middle of the present century, The following description of Alan Raby’s costume for each act will show the necessity of a complete change in the style of dress which this drama requires.
Alan Raby.–First Act: A Puritan’s suit of black serge, bound with black velvet—cloak and breeches to match-black
belt and buckle-black gauntlets—shirt collar thrown back so as to show the throat bare-black stockings-black velvet shoes with strap across the instep–black sugar-loaf hat and broad riband and steel buckle–phosphoric livid countenance–slightly bald head–long black lank hair combed behind the ears–bushy black eyebrows and heavy black moustache. 2nd dress: Black dress coat and overcoat of the same colour–black trousers–black waistcoat–black kid gloves, white wristbands over them–white cravat and black German hat–all modern, and such as would be worn by a gentleman at the present time.” In the theatre such a contrast would have proved very effective.
I notice that Boucicault has in certain scenes borrowed his situations pretty freely from Le Vampire of Dumas, and occasionally he has even conveyed actual dialogue from the French play.
At the commencement of The Phantom we are shown a room in a Welsh inn, and it appears that Davy and Janet the hostess have just been married. A sudden storm sends Lucy Peveryl thither for shelter, and she confides to Janet that she is on her way to meet at sundown her cousin Roland Peveryl, who is a fugitive and proscribed. On this account he dare not openly seek her hand, but the lovers are secretly betrothed. He has promised to meet her, in order to bid her farewell for a time, in the most unfrequented spot, the ruins of Raby Castle. No sooner does Janet hear that name than she cries out with horror, and speaks of a fearful story connected with the place. They are interrupted by the arrival of Lord Clavering with a party of guests, amongst whom are friends of Lucy. She frankly informs them of her rendezvous, and they decide to accompany her, more especially as the inn has not sufficient accommodation for the travellers, who resolve to take provisions and wine and spend the night in the deserted chambers of the old castle. Davy endeavours to prevent them, nor are his efforts altogether selfish. He tells them: “No one ever sought a night’s shelter in the ruins of Raby Castle, that ever lived to see the morning. . . . Within the ruins of Raby dwells some terrible thing–man or fiend! . . . No traveller that knows the road will ever venture near that spot after nightfall; but strange wayfarers, benighted in the storm have wandered to this place of shelter, and the next morning they are found–dead–each with a wound in his throat in the right side, from which they
have evidently bled to death;–but no blood is spilt around, the face is white and fixed, as if it had died of horror.” “And he, my betrothed,” cries Lucy, “Roland is there.” Nevertheless the company laugh at these old stories and determine to make their way to the old castle. This they actually find in far better state than they have been led to expect, and their servants who have insisted upon Davy showing them the way soon get a very fair supper from the provisions they have purchased at his inn. Roland Peveryl is not to be found, but whilst they are eating a stranger enters, a Puritan, and announces himself as Gervase Rookwood, a traveller who has lost his way in the mountains. Davy, however, almost collapses with terror. He recollects that many years before the castle belonged to Sir Owen Raby, a noble cavalier, while Alan Raby, his younger brother had joined the forces of Cromwell. Taking advantage of this difference the traitor one midnight with a band of Puritan soldiers surprises the castle, and butchers the sleeping garrison, killing his brother with his own hand. About a year later, however, the tables are turned, the Royalists recapture the place, Alan Raby is seized, and in their rage they hurl the fratricide from a window which hung shudderingly over a fearful precipice. Curiously enough no trace of the body could ever be recovered. But Davy recognizes that Gervase Rookwood is none other than Alan Raby. Here we have the old belief that a man guilty of some, monstrous crime, in this case rebellion against the King and the murder of a brother, is compelled to return as a vampire. When the company disperse to their various apartments for the night Lord Clavering is horrified to discover in his room the dead body of young Roland Peveryl, “a wound deep in his throat, but bloodless.” At the same moment a piercing scream is heard and Lucy Peveryl rushing from her chamber with her hands wildly clasping her neck falls dead in Lord Clavering’s arms. Seeing as he thinks a shadowy form that steals from her room he draws a pistol and fires. When the company hurry in with lights they discover Alan Raby has been shot. In faltering accents the dying man explains that hearing a cry for help he hastened to the lady’s assistance. He will only forgive Lord Clavering on one condition. “When I have breathed my last, let my body be conveyed amongst the peaks of Snowdon, and there exposed to the first rays of the rising
moon which touch the earth.” This is done, and the first act concludes with a tableau of the peaks of Snowdon, whilst from behind the clouds there sails high in the heaven a silver sickle that strikes the corpse with her argent shaft of mystic light. The vampire wakes, and leaps to his feet crying in exultant tones: “Fountain of my life: once more thy rays restore me. Death! I defy thee!”
It cannot escape notice that in this act there are many parallels with Le Vampire of Dumas. Raby Castle is the Castle of Tormenar; Lucy Peveryl is Juana; Roland Peveryl, Don Luis de Figuerroa; Lord Clavering, Gilbert de Tiffauges; and Davy the gracioso Lazare.
Two centuries have flown. Raby Castle is now inhabited in possession of Colonel Raby, whose daughter is betrothed to her cousin Edgar. It has been falsely reported that this latter fell in battle, but the scene opens with his return. When the sad news first arrived Ada Raby was stricken almost to death, and, as they believed, actually died; but she was recalled to life by a mysterious stranger, since which hour she seems to, have fallen completely under his influence and in some extraordinary way only to respond to his power. This is none other than Gervase Rookwood, who now appears and informs Colonel Raby that he and none other is the lawful lord of Raby Castle. The Colonel’s claim lies in the fact that when years before the last of the old Raby family, Sir Alan Raby died, or rather was killed, and no will could be found, the estate reverted to a distant branch of the Rabys, now represented by the Colonel. However, a document is produced in the handwriting of Alan Raby, his will, wherein he bequeaths the estate to Gervase Rookwood and the Rookwood successors. It seemed as though such a title cannot be resisted, but Doctor Rees, a scholar of occultism, is filled with the gravest suspicions of the stranger. In a “Dictionary of Necromancy, a rare work by Dr. Dee,” he has read of vampires, and he divines the demoniac nature of the pretended Rookwood. In a trancelike state Ada Raby has rejected Edgar and is to be given to the stranger, when Dr. Rees examining the documents discovers that the will of Sir Alan Raby, which must be some two hundred years old, although the hand is doubtless that of Raby as the archives prove, is written upon paper which has a watermark of 1850, “scarcely five years old.” The vampire who
endeavours to assassinate Edgar, is killed by a charmed bullet. Whilst his limbs relax in death the hypnotic spell vanishes from Ada’s mind and she is united to her lover. But to their horror they notice that as the moonlight touches the body of Alan Raby where he has fallen, his members begin to twitch anew with life. Dr. Rees seizes the vampire and hurls the body into the darkest chasm of the mountain side, where no beam nor ray can ever penetrate or find the smallest chink of entrance.
The Phantom is, of course, somewhat old-fashioned and a little stilted, as was the mode, in its diction. No doubt some of the situations could be revised and far more neatly turned, yet on the whole I conceive that it should prove of its kind excellent fare in the theatre, and some scenes, at least, in capable hands were not without emotional appeal, I had almost said a certain impressiveness. Far worse dramas have (not undeservedly) earned their meed of approbation and applause.
On 15th August, 1872, was advertised: “Royal Strand Theatre. Production of a Bit of Moonshine in Three Rays, entitled ‘The Vampire,’ written by R. Reece.” There was indeed a bounteous bill of fare. At seven was given a farce, The Married Bachelor; at 7.30 Byron’s Not Such a Fool as He Looks; “At Half Past Nine the new and original Burlesque, a little Bit of Moonshine in Three Rays, called The Vampire, written by R. Reece. The new Music by John Fitzgerald, the New Scenery Painted by H. P. Hall; Dresses by May, Mrs. Richardson and Assistants; Machinery by Wood; Properties by Ball. The Piece produced under the direction of Mrs. Swanborough, Mr. J. Wallace, and Mr. Reece.” The house, says the Era, 18th August, 1872, was crowded for this “satirical burlesque.” His play, the author wrote, was founded upon “a German legend, Lord Byron’s story, and a Boucicaultian drama.” The Vampire, according to Reece, is a plagiarist who lives on other people’s brains. The title rôle was acted by Edward Terry who kept the audience in roars of laughter. “Mr. Terry’s make-up as the Vampire was something extraordinary, and he worked with unflagging energy to add ‘go’ to the novelty.” During a picnic in the ruins of Raby Castle the Vampire endeavours to steal the note books of Ada Raby (Miss Emily Pitt) and Lady Audley Moonstone (Mrs. Raymond) two lady novelists, so that he may utilize their efforts for his weekly instalment of the “penny dreadful” and other fiction.
He is attacked by the two lovers of the ladies, Lord Albert Clavering (Miss Bella Goodall) and Edgar (Miss Topsy Venn), and a good deal of broadest farce follows. “The author was cordially greeted upon his appearance before the curtain, and the latest Strand burlesque may be noted as an undoubted success.” The Illustrated London News, 24th August, 1872, although very justly doubting the propriety of the subject as a theme for travesty highly praised Edward. Terry “as the Hibernian plagiarist with the broadest of brogues and the most ghastly of faces.” As Allan Raby he haunts the ruins of Raby Castle, Raby Hall, and the Peak of Snowdon, seeking to filch the notebooks of tourists, “from which he may gather materials for a three-volume novel which he has been engaged by a publisher to compose.”
On Monday, 27th September, 1909, at the Paragon Theatre was produced The Vampire, a “two-scene sketch,” adapted by Mr. José G. Levy from the French of Mme. C. le Vylars and Pierre Souvestre. “It is a capitally written little piece conceived. in the grand Guignol vein;” The Stage, 30th September, 1909. The first scene is Harry le Strang’s smoking-room. Harry has been infatuated with a demi-mondaine named Sonia, who shot herself in a fit of remorse. The despairing lover is in communication with a Hindoo spiritualist Seratsih, who has evoked the spirit of the dead woman, now become a vampire and preying upon Harry’s vitality and reason. An old friend, Jack Harlinger, in order as he thinks to save the situation persuades his own fiancée, Olga Kay, to personate the ghost of Sonia. The result is swift tragedy, for the maddened Harry le Strang shoots her dead destroying the vampire, whilst he himself falls at the revolver of Jack Harlingen Harry le Strang was played by Charles Hanbury; Jack Harlinger, Lauderdale Maitland; Seratsih, Clinton Barrett; and Olga Kay, Janet Alexander. The piece was very well received.
The Vampire, a Tragedy in Five Acts, by St. John Dorset (the Rev. Hugo John Belfour), Second Edition, 1821, does not appear to have been acted. It was dedicated to W. G. Macready, Esq., whose kindness the author acknowledges in most grateful terms. The story is Oriental, the same being laid in Alexandria, and it is a “moral” vampire that is shown by the poet. In his “advertisement” he quotes a passage
from the Examiner, when noticing Planché’s melodrama wrote: “There are Vampires who waste the heart and happiness of those they are connected with, Vampires of avarice, Vampires of spleen, Vampires of debauchery, Vampires in all the shapes of selfishness and domestic tyranny.” This is his theme, and although his pages have considerable merit I do not conceive that his scenes would have been entirely successful on the stage, since they are poetical and reflective rather than dramatic,
In Germany sensational fiction was long largely influenced by Polidori, and we have such romances as Zschokke’s Der tote Gast, Spindler’s Der Vampyr und seine Braut, Theodor Hildebrand’s Der Vampyr, oder die Totenbraut. Edwin Bauer’s roman à clef the clever Der Baron Vampyr,” which was published at Leipzig in 1846, hardly concerns as here, whilst Ewald August König’s sensational Ein moderner Vampyr, which appeared in 1883, or Franz Hirsch’s Moderne Vampyr, 1873, productions which only use in their titles the word “Vampire” to attract,–one might say, to ensnare attention, are in this connexion no more deserving of consideration than mere chap-books and pedlar’s penny-ware such as Morelli’s Der Vampyr, and Dr. Seltzam’s pornographic Die Vampyre der Residenz.
Undoubtedly the vampire tradition has never been treated with such consummate skill as by Théophile Gautier in his exquisite prose poem La Morte Amoureuse, which first appeared in the Chronique de Paris on 23rd and 26th June, 1836, when the young author was not quite twenty-five. Although the theme is not original yet perhaps nowhere beside has it been so ingeniously moulded with such delicacy of style, with such rich and vivid colouring, with such emotion and such repression. The darker shadows of the tradition are suggested rather than portrayed, yet none can deny that there is an atmosphere of sombre mystery, even a touch of morbid horror which with complete artistry the writer allows us to suspect rather than to comprehend. The very vagueness of the relation adds to the illusion. We hardly know whether Romuald is the young country priest occupied in prayer and good works, or whether he is the Renaissance seignior living a life of passion and hot extravagance. As he himself cries: “Sometimes I thought I was a priest who dreamed every night that be was a nobleman, sometimes that I was a nobleman who dreamed that he was a
priest. I could no longer distinguish dreams from real life; I did not know where reality began and illusion ended. The dissolute, supercilious young lord jeered at the priest, and the priest abhorred the dissipations of the young lord.” But were he humble priest, or were he profligate patrician, one emotion remained eternally the same, his love for Clarimonde. At length the Abbé Serapion dissolves the glamour. Sternly he bids young Romuald accompany him to the deserted cemetery where Clarimonde lies buried; he exhumes the body, and as he sprinkles it with holy water it crumbles into dust. Then also has the lord Romuald gone for ever. There only remains the poor priest of God broken and alone, who grows old in an obscure parish in the depths of a wood, and who well-nigh half a century after scarcely dares to stir the ashes of that memory.
There are in English not a few stories which deal with the vampire tradition, and many of these are well imagined and cleverly contrived; the morbid horror of the thing has often been conveyed with considerable power, but yet it will, I think, be universally allowed that no author has written pages comparable to this story of Gautier. It is hardly to be disputed that the best of the English vampire stories is Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, which the authorities upon the bibliography of this author have not traced further back than its appearance in the collection entitled In A Glass Darkly, 1872, Carmilla which is a story of some length, containing sixteen chapters, is exceedingly well told and it certainly exhibits that note of haunting dread which is peculiar to Le Fanu’s work. The castle in Styria and the family who inhabit it are excellently done, nor will the arrival of Carmilla and the mysterious coach wherein sat “a hideous black woman, with a sort of coloured turban on her head, who was gazing all the time from the carriage window, nodding and grinning derisively towards the ladies, with gleaming eyes and large white eyeballs, and her teeth set as if in fury,” easily be forgotten.
It must suffice to mention very briefly but a few short stories in English where the vampire element is present. E. F. Benson has evoked real horror in his The Boom in the Tower and the horrible creature tangled in her rotting shroud all foul with mould and damp who returns from her accursed grave is loathly to the last degree.
The Flowering of the Strange Orchid, by H. G. Wells, introduces a botanical vampire. An orchid collector is found dead in a jungle in the Andaman Islands, with a strange bulb lying near him. This is brought to England and carefully tended by a botanist until it comes to flower. But when at last the blossoms burst open great tendrils suddenly reach out to grasp the man sucking his blood with hideous gusts. The unfortunate wretch has to be violently torn away from the plant which drips with blood scare e in time to save his life.
This idea closely resembles Fred M. White’s story, The Purple Terror, which appeared in the Strand Magazine, September, 1899, Vol. xviii, No. 105. Here Lieutenant Will Scarlett, an American officer and a number of his men have to make their way across a certain tract of Cuban Territory. Spending the night in a country posada they are attracted by a pretty dancing girl who is wearing twined round her shoulders a garland of purple orchids larger than any known variety. The blossoms which a blood-red centre exhale a strange exotic perfume. Scarlett is fired with the enthusiasm of giving a new orchid to the horticultural world, and on the following morning a native, named Tito, undertakes to guide him to the spot. He learns that the natives call them “the devil’s poppies” and that the flowers grow in the high trees where their blossoms cling to long green tendrils. As night falls the little company arrives at a plateau ringed by tall trees whose branches are crowned with great wreaths of the purple flower nestling amid coils of long green ropery. To their alarm they note that the ground is covered with bleaching bones, the skeletons of men, animals, and birds alike. Yet perforce they must camp there rather than risk the miasma of the lower valley. Scarlett keeps watch. In the darkness there is a rustling sound and suddenly a long green tendril furnished at the end with a sucker armed with sharp spines like teeth descends and snatches one of the men from the ground. As it is about to withdraw Scarlett with inconceivable swiftness slashes it through with his knife. But the man’s clothing has even in that moment been cut through by the razor spines and his body is marked by a number of punctures where his blood is oozing in great drops. Immediately half-a-dozen and more lithe living cords with fanged mouths fall groping for their prey. The men are hurriedly awakened and with
difficulty they extricate themselves by sending their whingers, ripping and tearing in every direction. It appears that the vampire poppies at night send down these tendrils to gather moisture. Anything which the fearful suckers can catch they drain dry, be it man or beast or bird. Lieutenant Scarlett and his men have been deliberately led into this trap by Tito, who is madly jealous of their compliments to Zara, the dancing-girl. They hold him prisoner and threaten him with condign punishment at headquarters.
Algernon Blackwood brings together two types of vampires in his story The Transfer. One is a human being, the psychic sponge, who absorbs and seems to live upon the vitality of others. He is thus described by the governess: “I watched his hard, bleak face; I noticed how thin he was, and the curious oily brightness of his steady eyes. And everything he said or did announced what I may dare to call the suction of his presence.” There is also a yet more horrible monster, if one may term it so, the Forbidden Corner, an arid barren spot in the midst of the rose garden, naked and bald amid luxuriant growth. A child who knows its evil secret says: “It’s bad. It’s hungry. It’s dying because it can’t get the food it wants. But I know what would make it feel right.” When the human vampire ventures near this spot it exerts its secret strength and draws him to itself. He falls into the middle of the patch and it drinks his energy. He lives on, but he seems to be nothing more than a physical husk or shell without vitality. As for the Forbidden Corner “it lay untouched, full of great, luscious, driving weeds and creepers, very strong, full fed and bursting thick with life.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his little story, The Parasite, has depicted a human vampire or psychic sponge in the person of Miss Penelosa, who is described as being a small frail creature, “with a pale peaky face, an insignificant presence and retiring manner.” Nevertheless she is able to obsess Professor Gilroy who says: “She has a parasite soul, yes, she is a parasite; a monster parasite. She creeps into my form as the hermit crab creeps into the whelk’s shell.” To his horror he realizes that under her influence his will becomes weaker and weaker and he is bound to seek her presence. He resists for a while, but the force becomes so overmastering that he is compelled to yield, loathing himself as he does so. When he visits her,
with a terrific effort he breaks the spell and denounces her unhallowed fascination in burning words. However, his victory is short indeed. She persecutes him most bitterly, and when he unburdens his troubles to his college professor the only result is a prescription of chloral and bromide, which promptly goes into the gutter. With devilish craft the vampire destroys his reputation as a scholar, and brings about ill-natured gossip and comment. She is able to confuse his brain during his lectures, so that he talks unintelligible nonsense and his classes become the laughing-stock of the university, until at length the authorities are obliged to suspend him from his position. Almost in despair he cries: “And the most dreadful part of it all is my loneliness. Here I sit in a commonplace English bow-window looking out upon a common-place English street, with its garish buses and its lounging policemen, and behind me there hangs a shadow which is out of all keeping with the age and place. In the home of knowledge I am weighed down and tortured by a power of which science knows nothing. No magistrate would listen to me. No paper would discuss my case. No doctor would believe my symptoms. My own most intimate friends would only look upon it as a sign of brain derangement. I am out of all touch with my kind.”
The unfortunate victim is driven even deeper still by this unhallowed influence, which causes him to rob a bank, violently assault a friend, and finally to come within an ace of mutilating the features of his betrothed. At length the persecution ceases with the sudden death of the vampire, Miss Penelosa.
The True Story of a Vampire is a pathetic little story, very exquisitely told, in Studies of Death, by Stanislaus Eric, Count Stenbock, who wrote some verses of extraordinary charm in Love, Sleep, and Dreams; Myrtle, Rue, and Cypress; The Shadow of Death; and who at least once in The Other Side told a macabre legend with most powerful and haunting effect. A mysterious Count Vardaleh visits the remote styrian castle of old Baron Wronski, and before long attains an occult influence over the boy heir, Gabriel. The lad wastes away, and Count Vardaleh is heard to murmur: “My darling, I fain would spare thee; but thy life is my life, and I must live, I who would rather die. Will God not have any mercy on me? Oh, oh! life; oh, the torture of life! . . . O Gabriel, my beloved! My life, yes, life–oh, my life? I am sure this is
but a little I demand of thee. Surely the superabundance of life can spare a little to one who is already dead.” As the boy lies wan and ill, the Count enters the room and presses a long feverish kiss upon his lips. Vardaleh rushes forth, and can never be traced again. Gabriel has expired in the agony of that embrace.
In a novel, The Vampire, by Reginald Hodder, a woman who is the leader of an occult society is forced to exercise her powers as a vampire to prevent the ebbing of her vitality. Here her ravages are psychic rather than physical, albeit in fact the two so closely commingled that they are not to be separated. A curious feature in the tale is that this woman is represented as putting forth her energies through the medium of a metallic talisman, and various struggles to gain possession of the object form the theme of the story. It falls into the hands of persons who would employ it for evil purposes, when it constitutes a very formidable menace, but at the last after a number of extraordinary happenings it is happily recovered.
The traditional, but yet more horrible vampire is presented to us by F. Marion Crawford in For the Blood Is the Life. Here a young man, who has been loved by a girl whose affection he was unable to return, is after her death vampirised by her, and when his friends suspect the truth they determine to rescue him. They find him upon her grave, a thin stream of blood trickling from his throat. “And the flickering light of the lantern played upon another face that looked up from the feast,–upon two deep, dead eyes that saw in spite of death–upon parted lips redder than life itself–upon gleaming teeth on which glistened a rosy drop.” The situation is effectively dealt with according to the good old tradition. A hawthorn stake is driven through the heart of the vampire who emits a quantity of blood and with a despairing shriek dies the last death.
Almost equally vivid in its details must be accounted the tale, Four Wooden Stakes, by Victor Roman. The ghastly events in the lonely old house with its little grey crypt, some ten miles from the small town of Charing, a place of not more than fifteen hundred souls, are most vividly described. There lived the Holroyds, the grandfather, the father, and three brothers. Whilst in South America the grandfather “was
attacked while asleep by one of those huge bats. Next morning he was so weak be couldn’t walk. That awful thing had sucked his life blood away. He arrived here, but was sickly until his death, a few weeks later.” So says Remson Holroyd, who is left the sole survivor of the family, and who has summoned his old college friend to help him solve the secret of the hideous doom which is taking toll one by one. The grandfather was not buried in the usual way; but, as his will directed, his remains were interred in the vault built near the house. Remson Holroyd continues: “Then my dad began failing and just pined away until he died. What puzzled the doctors was the fact that right up until the end he consumed enough food to sustain three men, yet he was so weak he lacked the strength to drag his legs over the floor. He was buried, or rather interred with grand-dad. The same symptoms were in evidence in the cases of George and Fred. They are both lying in the vault. And now, Jack, I’m going, too, for of late my appetite has increased to alarming proportions, yet I am as weak as a kitten.” The next morning the visitor finds himself so weak that he is hardly able to rise and he feels a slight pain in the neck. “I rushed to examine it in the mirror. Two tiny dots rimmed with blood–my blood–and on my neck! No longer did I chuckle at Remson’s fears, for it, the thing, had attacked me–as I slept.” The host himself is in a state of utter exhaustion. That night watch is kept by the friend, and as from his concealment he is gazing into Remson’s room he notices “a faint reddish glow outside one of the windows. It apparently emanated from nowhere. Hundreds of little specks danced and whirled in the spot of light, and as I watched them fascinated, they seemed to take oil the form of a human face. The features were masculine, as was also the arrangement of the hair. Then the mysterious glow disappeared.” After a few moments there appears a vague form of which the watcher is able to distinguish the head, and to his horror he sees that the features are the same as those of a portrait of the grandfather which is hanging in the picture gallery of the house. “But oh, the difference in expression! The lips were drawn back in a snarl, disclosing two sets of pearly white teeth, the canines over developed and remarkably sharp. The eyes, an emerald green in colour, stared in a look of consuming hate.” The horror is revealed. The house is infested by a vampire. In the morning
the two friends visit the vault. “As if by mutual understanding, we both turned toward the coffin on our left. It belonged to the grandfather. We unplaced the lid, and there lay the old Holroyd. He appeared to be sleeping; his face was full of colour, and he had none of the stiffness of death. The hair was matted, the moustache untrimmed, and on the beard were matted stains of a dull brownish hue. But it was his eyes that attracted me. They were greenish, and they glowed with an expression of fiendish malevolence such as I had never seen before. The look of baffled rage on the face might well have adorned the features of the devil in hell.” They drive a stake through the living corpse, which shrieks and writhes, whilst the gushing blood drenches coffins and floor spurting out in great jets over the very walls. The head is severed from the body, and as the final stroke of the knife cut the connexion a scream issued from the mouth; and the whole corpse fell away into dust, leaving nothing but a wooden stake lying in a bed of bones.” The remaining three bodies are treated in the same way, and thus the thrall of the curse is lifted from the old house, ten miles from the little town of Charing.
Although the genius of Charles Baudelaire, when his art required it, shrank from no extremity of physical horror, yet in his exquisite poem Le Vampire he has rather portrayed the darkness and desolation of the soul:
Toi qui, comme un coup de couteau,
Dans mon coeur plaintif est entrée;
Toi qui, forte comme un troupeau
De démons, vins, folle et parée.
De mon esprit humilié
Faire ton lit et ton domaine
–Infâme a qui je suis lié
Comme le forcat a la chaîne,
Comme au jeu le joueur têtu,
Comme à la bouteille l’ivrogne,
Comme aux vermines la charogne,
–Maudite, maudite sois-tu!
J’ai prié le glaive rapide
De conquerir ma liberté
Et j’ai dit au poison perfide
De secourir ma lâcheté.
Helas! le poison et le glaive
M’ont pris en dédain et m’ont dit
Tu n’es pas digne qu’on t’enlève
A ton esclavage maudit.
Imbécile!–de son empire
Si nos efforts te délivraient,
Tes baisers ressusciteraient
Le cadavre de ton vampire!
In England there is a poem–truly of a very different kind–which appears in the life of the famous scientist, James Clerk Maxwell, by Lewis Campbell and William Garnett, verses written by Maxwell in 1845 when he was fourteen Years of age. The verses should not perhaps, because of the youth of the author, be criticized too sharply, and although they show Wardour Street fustian and gimcrack, since the piece is of no great length it may pardonably be quoted here. It is not entirely without a certain feeling after the right atmosphere, and much will be forgiven on account of the precocity. It is grandiosely entitled The Vampyre: Compylt into Meeter by James Clerk Maxwell.”
Thair is a knichte rydis through the wood,
And a douchty knichte is hee.
And sure bee is on a message sent,
He rydis sae hastilie.
He passit the aik, and hee passit the birk,
And bee passit monie a tre,
Bot plesant to him was the saugh sae slim,
For beneath it hee did see
The boniest ladye that ever hee saw,
Scho was sae schyn and fair.
And thair scho sat, beneath the saugh,
Kaiming hir gowden hair.
And then the knichte–“Oh ladye brichte,
What chance has broucht you here?
But sae the word, and ye schall gang
Back to your kindred dear,”
Then up and spok the ladye fair–
“I have nae friends or kin,
Bot in a little boat I live,
Amidst the waves’ loud din.”
Then answered thus the douchty knichte”
I’ll follow you through all,
For gin ye bee in a littel boat,
The world to it seemis small.” p. 329
They goed through the wood, and through the wood,
To the end of the wood they came:
And when they came to the end of the wood
They saw the salt sea faem.
And when they saw the wee, wee boat,
That daunced on the top of the wave,
And first got in the ladye fair,
And then the knichte sae brave.
They got into the wee, wee boat
And rowed wi’ a’ their micht
When the knichte sae brave, he turnit about,
And lookit at the ladye bricht
He lookit at her bonnie cheik,
And bee lookit at hir twa bricht eyne,
Bot hir rosie cheik growe ghaistly pale,
And schoe seymit as scho deid had been.
The fause, fause knichte growe pale with frichte.
And his hair rose up on end,
For gane-by days cam to his mynde,
And his former love he kenned.
Then spake the ladye–“Thou, fause knichte,
Hast done to me much ill,
For didst forsake me long ago,
Bot I am constant still:
For though I ligg in the woods sae cald,
At rest I canna bee
Until I sucks the gude lyfe blude
Of the man that gart me dee.”
Hee saw hir lipps were wet wi’ blude,
And hee saw hir lufolesse eyne,
And loud bee cry’d, “get frae my syde,
Thou vampyr corps encleane!”
But no, bee is in hir magic boat,
And on the wyde, wyde sea;
And the vampyr suckis his gude lyfe blude,
Sho suckis him till hee dee.
So now beware, whoe’er you are,
That walkis in this lone wood:
Beware of that deceitfull spright,
The ghaist that suckis the blude.
The Vampire Bride, a ballad by the Hon. Henry Liddell, has considerable merit, It may be found in The Wizard of the North, The Vampire Bride, and other Poems, Blackwood, Edinburgh, and Cadell, London, 1833. These stanzas are founded upon the old tale of the knight who having placed a ring–some say his wedding-ring–around the finger of the statue of Venus whilst he is a quoiting, when he would reclaim it
finds that the finger is crooked so that the jewel may not be withdrawn, whilst that night a phantom claims him as her spouse. With difficulty is he freed from the thrall of the succubus.
In 1845 there was published at the Columbian Press Weston-super-mare, a little book entitled The Last of the Vampires, by Smyth Upton. The chief, some critics might say the only, merit of this tale is its excessive rarity. The narrative is somewhat curiously divided into Epochs, the first of which takes place in 1769, the second in 1777, the third and last in 1780. Chapter I opens in an English village named Frampton, but in Chapter II “we find ourselves upon the borders of Bohemia” in the Castle Von Oberfels. Four chapters of no great length and somewhat disconnected in their sequence comprise the First Epoch. A little later we meet with the mysterious Lord de Montfort, and apparently he has just committed a murder, since he is one of the two men who stand in a dreary outhouse adjoining Montfort Abbey. “Red blood, yet warm, stains their murderous hands, and is seen also in pools upon the floor; the same marks are observable, also, on their clothes.” “The scene is a fearful one; it is one of those of which the mere recital makes the blood run cold,” and the writer wisely does not attempt the task. In the penultimate chapter of this extraordinary production we are introduced to “a certain young German, the Baron Von Oberfels,” who weds Mary Learmont, the elder daughter of “Sir James Learmont, who being a Baronet, was, moreover, a Knight of the Bath and M.P.” Unfortunately the Baron “was one of that horrible class, the Vampires! He had sold his soul to the evil one, for the enjoyment of perpetual youth; being bound, besides, to what are understood to be the penalties of that wretched and accursed race. Every tenth year a female was sacrificed to his infernal master. Mary Learmont was to be the next victim; may she escape the threatened doom.” But apparently, so far as I can gather, she is not so lucky for we are vaguely told “The Baron and his bride departed on his wedding tour. Her father and mother never hear of her more.” A page or two later there is “a midnight wedding” at the Castle Von Oberfels. Of the bride we are told nothing save that she had a “fair presence.” “The Baron Von Oberfels was there, once more arrayed in the
garments of a bridegroom.” The ceremony proceeds. The grand organ peals; the heavenly voices of white-robed choristers added greatly to the beauty of the scene. “But hark! another noise is heard; sulphureous smoke half fills the sacred building; the floor opens for an instant; and mocking shrieks are audible as the spirit of the Last of the Vampires descended into perdition.”
I am bound to acknowledge that after a somewhat careful reading of this curious and most disjointed little piece of seventy-six pages the only impression with which I am met is that Mr. Smyth Upton knew nothing whatsoever of what the word vampire connotes. The idea of the victims who are sacrificed for the sake of eternal youth is, of course fairly common and was very effectively utilized by G. W. M. Reynolds in his romance The Necromancer, which ran in Reynolds’s Miscellany from Saturday, 27th December, 1851, to Saturday, 31st July, 1852. Incidentally it maybe remarked as a somewhat curious fact that this prolific novelist never availed himself of the vampire tradition in his melodramatic chapters.
The Vampyre. “By the Wife of a Medical Man,” 1858, is a, violent teetotal tract, of twenty-seven short chapters presented in the guise of fiction. The villain of the piece is “The Vampyre Inn,” and the dipsomaniac hero–if it be allowable to use the term in such a context–is given to ravings such as these: “They fly–they bite–they suck my blood–I die. That hideous ‘Vampyre!’ Its eyes pierce me thro’–they are red–they are bloodshot. Tear it from my pillow. I dare not lie down. It bites–I die! Give me brandy–brandy–more brandy.”
A Vampire of Souls, by H. M. P., published in 1904, is a book of little value. The hero, George Ventnor, when aged twenty, is killed in a railway accident, and the narrative consists of his after experiences which are singularly material and crude. There is, perhaps, a good touch here and there, but the thing certainly does not deserve to be rescued from oblivion.
It will have been noticed that beyond the titles these two last works have really little or nothing to do with vampires at all, but we may now consider a romance which may at least be ranked as a very serious rival to–in my opinion it is far ghostlier than–its famous successor Dracula. Varney the Vampire, or, The Feast of Blood, is undoubtedly the best novel
of Thomas Preskett Prest, a prolific writer of the fourth and fifth decades of the nineteenth century. It is true that his productions published by the well-known Edward Lloyd, of 231, Shoreditch, may be classed as simple “shockers,” but none the less he has considerable power in this kind, and he had at any rate the craft of telling his story with skill and address. There is a certain quality in his work, which appeared during the years from 1839 to the earlier fifties, that is entirely lacking in the productions of his fellows. To him have been ascribed, doubtless with some exaggeration, well nigh two hundred titles, but the following list comprises, I believe, his principal romances: Ela, the Outcast, or, the Gipsy of Rosemary Dell; Angelina, or, the Mystery of S. Mark’s Abbey, “a Tale of Other Days “; The Death Grasp, or, A Father’s Curse; Ernnestine De Lacy, or, The Robbers’ Foundling; Gallant Tom, or, The Perils of a Sailor Ashore and Afloat, “an original nautical romance of deep and pathetic interest “; Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (the most famous of Prest’s novels); Newgate (which has some capital episodes); Emily Fitzormond; Mary Clifford; The Maniac Father, or, The Victim of Seduction; Gertrude of the Rock; Rosalie, or, The Vagrant’s Daughter; The Miller’s Maid; Jane Brightwell; Blanche, or, The Mystery of the Doomed House; The Blighted Heart, or, The Priory Ruins; Sawney Bean, the Man-eater of Midlothian; The Skeleton Clutch, or, The Goblet of Gore; The Black Monk, or, The Secret of the Grey Turret; The Miller and His Men, or, The Secret Robbers of Bohemia. To Prest also has been attributed, but I conceive without foundation, Susan Hoply, an audacious piracy upon the famous novel by Mrs. Crowe, Susan Hopley.
Varney the Vampire, or, The Feast of Blood, was first published in 1847. It contains no less than CCXX chapters and runs to 868 pages. The many incidents succeed each other with such breathless rapidity that it were well-nigh impossible to attempt any conspectus of the whole romance. The very length would make this analysis a work of extreme difficulty, and incidentally we may note the amazing copiousness of Prest which must ever remain a matter for wonderment. Such a romance, for example, as Newgate runs to no less than on, hundred and forty-nine chapters comprising 772 pages. The Maniac Father has fifty-four chapters, each of considerable
length, which total 604 pages, and I have not selected these on account of their exceptional volume.
Varney the Vampire was among the most popular of Prest’s productions, and on account of its “unprecedented success” it was reprinted in 1853 in penny parts. To-day the book is unprocurable and considerable sums have been for many years in vain offered to secure a copy. Indeed, it may be noted that all Prest’s work is excessively scarce.
It is hardly an exaggeration to affirm that of recent years there have been few books which have been more popular than Brain Stoker’s Dracula, A tale, and certainly there is no sensational romance which in modern days has achieved so universal a reputation. Since it was first published in 1897, that is to say one and twenty years ago, it has run into a great number of editions, and the name has veritably become a household word. It will prove interesting to inquire into the immediate causes which have brought this book such wide and enduring fame. It has already been remarked that it is well-nigh impossible for a story which deals with the supernatural or the horrible to be sustained to any great length. Elements which at first are almost unendurable, will lose their effect if they are continued, for the reader’s mind insensibly becomes inured to fresh emotions of awe and horror, and Dracula is by no means briefly told. In the ordinary reprints (Tenth Edition, 1913) it extends to more than four hundred pages, nor does it escape the penalty of its prolixity. The first part, “Jonathan Harker’s Journal,” which consists of four chapters is most admirably done, and could the whole story have been sustained at so high a level we should have had a complete masterpiece. But that were scarcely possible. The description of the journey through Transylvania is interesting to a degree, and even has passages which attain to something like charm. “All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject to great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear.” Very effective is the arrival of the English traveller at the “vast ruined castle, from, whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose
broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.” Very adroitly are the various incidents managed in their quick succession, those mysterious happenings which at last convince the matter-of-fact commonplace young solicitor of Exeter that he is a helpless prisoner in the power of a relentless and fearful being. The continual contrasts between business conversations, the most ordinary events of the dull listless days, and all the while the mantling of dark shadows in the background and the onrushing of some monstrous doom are in these opening chapters most excellently managed.
So tense a strain could not be preserved, and consequently when we are abruptly transported to Whitby and the rather tedious courtships of Lucy Westenra, who is a lay figure at best, we feel that a good deal of the interest has already begun to evaporate. I would hasten to add that before long it is again picked up, but it is never sustained in the same degree; and good sound sensational fare as we have set before us, fare which I have myself more than once thoroughly enjoyed, yet it is difficult not to feel that one’s palate, has been a little spoiled by the nonpareil of an antipast. This is not to say that the various complications are not sufficiently thrilling, but because of their very bounty now and again they most palpably fail of effect, and it can hardly escape notice that the author begins to avail himself of those more extravagant details of vampirism which frankly have no place outside the stories told round a winter’s hearth, It would have been better had he confined himself to those particulars which are known and accepted, which indeed have been officially certified and definitely proved. But to have limited himself thus would have meant the shortening of his narrative, and here we return to the point which was made above.
If we review Dracula from a purely literary point of approach it must be acknowledged that there is much careless writing and many pages could have been compressed and something revised with considerable profit. It is hardly possible to feel any great interest in the characters, they are labels rather than individuals. As I have said, there are passages of graphic beauty, passages of graphic horror, but these again almost entirely occur within the first sixty pages. There are some capital incidents, for example the method by which Lord p. 335 Godalming and his friend obtain admittance to No. 347 Piccadilly. Nor does this by any means stand alone.
However, when we have–quite fairly, I hope–thus criticized Dracula, the fact remains that it is a book of unwonted interest and fascination. Accordingly we are bound to acknowledge that the reason for the immense popularity of this romance, the reason why, in spite of obvious faults it is read and re-read–lies in the choice of subject and for this the author deserves all praise.
It might not have seemed that Dracula would have been a very promising subject for the stage, but nevertheless it was dramatized by Hamilton Deans and produced at the Wimbledon Theatre on 9th March, 1925. This version was performed in London at the Little Theatre, 14th February, 1927. On the preceding Thursday the Daily Mirror published a photograph of the late Mr. Brain Stoker accompanied by the following paragraphs. “Herewith, one of the very few photographs of the late Brain Stoker, who, besides being Sir Henry Irving’s manager for years, was an industrious novelist. As I have already said, a dramatic version of his most famous book, ‘Dracula,’ is to be done at the Little on Monday, and the scene of the Grand Guignol plays is appropriate, for the new piece, I hear, is so full of gruesome thrills that, in the provinces women having been carried fainting from the auditorium. Truly we take our pleasures sadly.
“The dramatic adaptation is by Hamilton Deans, whose grandfather, Colonel Deans, and the Rev. Abraham Stoker, Bram’s father, lived on adjoining estates in County Dublin. Young Bram and Hamilton Deane’s mother, then a young girl, were great friends. Stoker had the book ‘Dracula’ in his mind, and the young people used to discuss its possibilities. Strange that it should be young Hamilton Deane who has dramatized the book and brought the play to London.”
At the Little Theatre the cast of Dracula was as follows: Count Dracula, Raymond Huntley; Abraham van Helsing, Hamilton Deane; Dr. Seward, Stuart Lomath; Jonathan Harker, Bernard Guest; Quincey P. Morris, Frieda Hearn; Lord Godalming, Peter Jackson; R. M. Renfield, Bernard Jukes; The Warden, Jack Howarth; The Parlourmaid, Hilda Macleod; The Housemaid, Betty Murgatroyd; Mina Harker, Dora Mary Patrick.
By no stretch could it be called a good play, whilst the presentation, at the best, can hardly be described as more than reasonably adequate. In one or two instances the effects, upon which so much depends and which obviously demanded the most scrupulous care, were so clumsily contrived as to excite an involuntary smile. “It was only a step from the devilish to the ridiculous on Monday night,” said the Era, 16th February, 1927. Very remarkable was a lady, dressed in the uniform of a hospital nurse who sat in the vestibule of the theatre, and it was bruited that her services were required by members of the audience who were overcome owing to the horrors of the drama. I can only say that I find this canard impossible to believe, quodcumque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi. As an advertisement, and it can surely have been nothing else, the attendance of a nurse was in deplorable taste. I am informed that after the first few weeks a kind of epilogue was spoken when all the characters were assembled upon the stage, and it was explained that the audience must not be distressed at what they had seen, that it was comically intended for their entertainment. So gross a lapse of good manners, not to speak of the artistic indecorum, is hardly credible.
Confessedly the play was extremely weak, and yet such is the fascination of this subject that it had an exceptional success, and triumphantly made its way from theatre to theatre. On 25th July, 1927, Dracula was transferred to the Duke of York’s; on the 29th August, following to the Prince of Wales, on 10th October to the Garrick; and all the while it was given to thronging houses. It has also toured, and at the present moment is still touring the provincial theatres with the most marked success, the drama being given with more spirit and vigour than originally was the case at the Little, and Wilfrid Fletcher in particular playing the lunatic Renfield with a real touch of wistful pathos and uncanny horror. This is is extremely instructive, and it is curious that the vogue of the “vampire play” in London should be repeated almost exactly after the interval of a century. On 5th November, 1927, a new version of Dracula by Charles Morrel was presented at the Court Theatre, Warrington.
In America the dramatization of Dracula was produced at the Shubert, New Haven, 19th September, 1927. This was given at the Fulton, New York, upon the following 5th October.
Jonathan Harker was acted by Terence Neil; Abraham Van Helsing by Edward Van Sloan; Renfield by Bernard Jukes; and Count Dracula by Bela Lugoni .
As I have before remarked, the striking fact that an indifferent play should prove so successful can, I think, only be attributed to the fascination of the theme. Consciously or unconsciously it is realized that the vampire tradition contains far more truth than the ordinary individual cares to appreciate and acknowledge. “La fable du vampire est peut-être, la plus universelle de nos superstitions. . . . Elle a partout l’autorité de la tradition: elle ne manque ni de cello de la philosophic ni de celle de la médicine. La théologie même en a parlé.”
NOTES TO CHAPTER V
[1. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (Second Impression), London, 1905 pp. 149-179.
2. Der Naturforscher. Achtundvierzigstes Stück, Leipzig, Sonnabend, den 25 des Mays, 1748.
3. Werke, Göschen, 1857, XI., 260.
4. Cf. also Schach Lolo: Werke, Hempel, XII, 39..
Nicht Menschen mehr, Vampyre nur erblickt,
Die an ihm saugen und an ihm liegen.
5. The following but poorly expresses the original:
From my grave to wander I am forc’d,
Still to seek The Good’s long-sever’d link,
Still to love the bridegroom I have lost,
And the life-blood of his heart to drink;
When his race is run,
I must hasten on,
And the young must ‘neath my vengance sink.
6. In Schmidt, Charakteristiken, Berlin, 1886, pp. 246-247.
7. In his Historic Survey of German Poetry, London, 1830, in a note upon his translation Ellenore (p. 51) Taylor says: “No German poem has been so repeatedly translated into English as Ellenore: Eight different versions are lying on my table, and I have read others. It becomes not me to appreciate them; suffice it to observe that this was the earliest of them all, having been communicated to my friends in the year 1790, and mentioned in the preface to Dr. Aikin’s poems which appeared in 1791. It was first printed in the second number of the Monthly Magazine for 1796. The German title is Lenore, which is the vernacular form of Eleonora, a name here represented by Ellenore.” Taylor compares Lenore with “an obscure English ballad called the Suffolk miracle,” and he reprints (p. 52) this ample poem in full; The Suffolk Miracle: Or a relation of a young man, who, a month after his death, appeared to his sweetheart, and carried her on horseback behind him for forty miles in two hours and was never seen after but in his grave.
8. Lockhart, Memoirs, vol. I, p. 204.
9. Captain Basil Hall’s Schloss Hainfeld: or, a Winter in Lower Styria. Edinburgh, 1836, p. 332.
10. The whole stanza is repeated thrice, xxxix; xlviii; and liv, with extraordinary effect:
Tramp, tramp, across the land they speede;
Splash, splash, across the sea;
Hurrah! the dead can ride apace
Dost feare to ride with mee?
In a note Taylor says: “By shifting the scene to England, and making William, a soldier of Richard Lionheart, it became necessary that the ghost of Ellenore, whom Death, in the form of her lover, conveys to William’s grave, should cross the sea. Hence the splash! splash! of the xxxix and other stanzas, of which there is no trace in the original; of the tramp! tramp! there is. I could not prevail upon myself to efface these words, which have been gotten by heart, and which are quoted even in Don Juan.” The Don Juan reference is Canto X, lxxi:
On with the horses! Off to Canterbury!
Tramp, tramp o’er pebble, and splash: splash! through puddle.
11. Introduction to The Chase and William and Helen, Edinburgh, 1807, p. iv.
12. Scott, Imitations, p. 39.
13. So Captain Basil Hall, Schloss Hainfeld, p. 332.
14. The publisher was Miller.
15. Eleonora. Novella Morale scritta sulla traccia d’un Poemetto Inglese tradotto dal Tedesco. Trattenimento Italico di Mra. Taylor, In Londra, 1798.
16. Christabel, I, 79-103.
17. Coleridge, p. 224.
18. Medwin, Life of Shelley, Vol. I, p. 62.
19. Dowden, Life of Shelley, Vol. II, p. 123.
20. Charles Middleton, Shelley and His Writings, 1858, vol. I, p. 47.
21. Beitrage, p. 61.
22. St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian, “By a Gentleman of the University of Oxford,” was published by J. J. Stockdale, 1811.
23. Newark, 1807.
24. See my Introduction to Zofloya, or The Moor, Fortune Press, 1928.
25. Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, 259-276.
26. British Review, 1818, vol. XI. p. 37.
27. Horrid Mysteries, of which there is a reprint in two volumes with Introduction by myself, 1927, was first published in 1796 as “From the German of the Marquis of Grosse by P. Will.” The Midnight Groan, or The Spectre of the Chapel, 1808, is anonymous. The Abbot of Montserrat, 2 vols., 1826, is by William Child Green. The Demon of Venice (a redaction of Zofloya), 1810: The Convent Spectre, 1808, and The Hag of the Mountains (1798) were all published without the authors’ names.
28. Thalaba was commenced on 12th July, 1799, and finished at Cintra in July, 1800. It was published in the following year.
29. I have used “The Poetical Works of Robert Southey Collected by Himself,” ten volumes, 1837-38. Thalaba occupies vol. IV.
30. Vol. IV, p. 305 of this edition of Southey.
31. Vol. XI, no. 63.
32. Dr. Stefan Hock has not traced the German original. The French version is known to me: Fantasmagoriana, ou Recueil d’Histoires d’apparitions de spectres, revenans, fantômes, etc. Traduit de l’allemand par un Amateur [Eyriès]. Paris, F. F. Schoell, 2 vols, 12 mo, 1812. I also have in my collection Tales of Terror, or More Ghosts; Forming a Complete Phantasmagoria, 1802. This bears as a motto upon the title page
Twelve o’Clock’s the Time of Night
That the Graves, all gaping wide,
Quick send forth the airy Sprite
In the Church-way Path to glide.
The book is embellished with a frontispiece representing a most entirely typical white-robed spectre.
33. Byron signs the dedication of The Giaour to Samuel Rogers, May, 1813, In 1815 it had reached a fourteenth edition.
34. Jean Sbogar and Thérèse Aubert are two well-known works by Nodier.
35. Paris, 1824.
36. Philippe, who was a universal favourite, died 16th October, 1824. “Sa mort fit presque autant de bruit que sa vie,” says Dumas, who gives a vivid picture of the unhappy scandals and delays which, owing to the ill-advised conduct of certain Jansenistic fanatics, profaned the funeral on the 18th October, following. The famous actor was interred at Père-Lachaise, the obsequies being attended by more than three thousand people. Amélie Delaunay when quite young married an actor of medium attainments Allan-Dorval. She was soon left a widow, and after a hard struggle obtained recognition of her genius. Dumas who admired her immensely speaks of her as “l’Ève qui devait donner le jour à tout un monde dramatique.”
37. “Quant à Philippe, qui l’écraisait, à cette époque, de la dignité de son pas et de la majesté de son geste, c’était la représentation du mélodrame par sang Pixérécourt et Caignez. . . Nut ne portait comme Philippe la botte jaune, la tunique chamois bordée de noir, la toque it plume et l’épèe à poignée en croix.” Dumas, Mes Memoires, Troisième Série, lxxvii.
38. I quote from the article as reprinted in the Mélanges, I, 417.
39. Histoire des Vampires et des spectres Malfaisans, Paris, 1820.
40. Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, Chapter xxxv. I quote from the English translation issued by Collins’ Clear Type Press, vol. I, pp. 466-68.
41. La Tradition et l’Exotisme dans l’œuvre de Charles Nodier, (1780-1844). 1923, p. 124.
42. Oeuvres complètes de Eugène Scribe, Paris, Dentu, 1876. 2me Serie, VI, pp. 41-94.
43. Folie vaudeville en un acte. Paris, Barba, 1820.
44. Paris, Martinet, 1820.
45. Börne, Schilderungen aus Paris (1822 and 1823).
46. “Polichinel ist die beste Seele von der Welt.”
48. Thomas Potter Cooke was born. April, 1786, and died April, 1864. His historic début seems to have been made at the Royalty in January, 1804, but his first marked success was in the rôle of Lord Ruthven, which won him great applause. The best known character of this famous actor was William in Douglas Jerrold’s Black-ey’d Susan, or, All in the Downs, produced at the Surrey Theatre, 8th June, 1829, when it ran for nearly a year. It was frequently revived and never failed of an enthusiastic reception.
49. 2 vols., London, 1871.
50. This was first produced on 13th April, 1819, as an after-piece to Jane Shore in which Mrs. W. West had appeared for the first time in the title-rôle. In Abudah, H. Kemble acted Abudah; Bengough, the genius Barhaddan; Harley, Fadlahdallah; Miss Cooke, Selima; and Mrs. Bland, Zemroude. Genest says that the little fairy tale was given thirteen times.
51. The Tales of the Genii: or, The Delightful Lessons of Horam the Son of Asmar. Translated from the Persian by Sir Charles Morell. This book was written by a young clergyman, the Rev. James Ridley, son of Dr. Gloster Ridley, Chaplain to the East India Company. “Horam” and “Sir Charles Morell” are mere fictions. James Ridley died in 1765 immediately after the completion of the first edition of his Tales, which proving very popular have been often reprinted.
52. The play is preserved in MS. Lansdowne 807, British Museum, a volume said to contain the few remains of John Warburton’s collection which escaped the kitchen fire at the hands of his cook. Sir George Buc in his note written at the end of the piece refers to “this second Maidens tragedy” apparently in allusion to the famous drama by Beaumont and Fletcher, and although not very apposite the name has continued. A scholarly and welt-edited reprint of The Second Maiden’s Tragedy has long been a desideratum. The issue which was prepared for the Malone Society in 1910 by Mr. W. W. Greg is eminently unreadable, nor has the petty recension of the text any real value
being the mere tricks in hand of an arid and sterile pedantry. Such spade work might be used by a scholar as the basis for his edition.
53. On the last page, folio 56b, the authorship has been assigned to Thomas Goff. This name, however, was erased and that of George Chapman substituted. This again was deleted and the words “By Will Shakspear” inscribed. It is probable that the earliest attribution was made some fifty years or more before the two later, which may belong to the eighteenth century.
54. Founded by Charles III in 1738 and built by Angelo Carasale.
55. Some authorities say 29th March.
56. Rev. Robert Walsh, LL.D., author of “A Residence in Constantinople,” and other similar works. (Planché.)
57. Dion Boucicault (or Bourcicault), playwright and actor, was born at Dublin, 20th December, 1822, and after a most distinguished career, died 18th September, 1890.
58. Journal of a London Playgoer from 1851 to 1866, London, 1891, pp. 45-64.
59. It may be remarked that the drawing which illustrates the last scene of the play in the Dicks’ Edition is inconsistent, as it shows the characters in costumes of circa 1750.
60. The first edition was of the same year. In 1822 this author published a second tragedy, Montezuma. Hugo John Belfour was born in 1802, he was ordained in 1826, and died young in the following year.
61. Ein Kulturbild aus der Gegenwart.
62. Sozialer Roman. Als Manuskript Gedruckt. Oberhausen und Leipzig, 1883.
63. Novelle aus der Gegenwart. In Das neue Blatt. “Ein illustriertes Familien-Journal,” IV (1873), p. 209-408.
64. Mr. S. M. Ellis, who contributed a bibliography of Le Fanu to the Irish Book Lover in 1916. Dr. M. R. James in his Epilogue to the reprint Madam Crowl’s Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery, London, 1923.
65. Three volumes, Bentley; also in one volume. A modern re-issue in two parts by Newnes. Also reprinted in one volume, Eveleigh Nash and and Grayson, London, 1923.
66. Vol. VII, p. 181; vol. IX, p. 212.
67. And afterwards of 12, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street.
68. Occasionally attributed to G. W. M. Reynolds, who, however, more than once denied the authorship.
69. This Epilogue was generally delivered in the provinces and so banal an anti-climax completely ruined the play.