POPULAR TRADITIONS. VAMPIRISM.

Written by John Doe on sábado, 20 de febrero de 2010 at 09:10

The prevailing spirit of mankind changes with the changing times; and the silent lapse of ages has imperceptibly wrought a great revolution in our sentiments. The astonishing credulity of our forefathers is followed by an equally preposterous pride in their descendants. Many philosophers of the present day at once deny the existence of any questionable thing which does not come under the immediate cognizance of their senses, thus absolutely contradicting many circumstances which are not impossible in their nature, and are often attested by numerous and competent witnesses. In acting thus they imagine they are exalting the power of reason, while they are really abandoning its most excellent prerogative—that of determining the force and evidence of presumptive proofs. The truth of several facts may be uncertain, and they are now therefore entirely discredited, and regarded with mingled pity and derision, though their unqualified denial converts the philosopher into a dogmatist.
On the other hand many circumstances, in their nature utterly impossible, have at different times been implicitly believed ; and if they are handed down to us on the concurrent testimonies of men of undoubted reputation, we must attribute such conviction to the ignorance that received, or the deception that contrived them.
We may therefore reduce under two classes the several doubtful traditioifs which have been delivered to us from more remote and credulous ages. They are either such as we must immediately reject from their intrinsic absurdity; or such as, though incapable of demonstrative proof, are yet reducible within the limits of probability; and of these latter we must receive many with different degrees of belief. We do not, however, propose giving a formal refutation of some and a defence of others—we have only given these prefatoryobservations to enable us, by adopting the above classification, to express our opinion of the credibility of such stories as we may bring forward under the head of  Popular Traditions. (...) " In a certain canton of Hungary, which is called in Latin Oppida Heidonum, on the other side the Tibiscus, vulgarly called the Teysse ; that is to say, the river which washes the celebrated territory of Tokay, as also a part of Transilvania ; the people known by the name of Heydukes believe that certain dead persons, whom they call vampires, suck the blood of the living, insomuch that these people appear like skeletons while the dead bodies of the suckers are so full of blood, that it runs out at all the passages of their bodies, and even at their very pores. This odd opinion of theirs they support by a multitude of facts attested in such a manner, that they leave no room for doubt. We shall here mention some of the most considerable.
" It is now about five years ago, that a certain Heyduke an inhabitant of the village of Medreiga, whose name was Arnold Paul, was bruised to death by a hay-cart, which ran over him. Thirty days after his death, no less than four persons died suddenly, in that manner wherein, according to the tradition of the country, those people generally die who are sucked by vampires. Upon this a story was called to mind, that this Arnold Paul had told in his life-time, viz. that at Cossova on the frontiers of the Turkish Servia, he had been tormented by a vampire; (now the established opinion is, that a person sucked by a vampire, becomes a vampire himself, and sucks in his turn.) But that he had found a way to rid himself of this evil by eating some of the earth out of the vampire's grave, and rubbing himself with his blood. This precaution however did not hinder his becoming a vampire; insomuch that his body being taken up forty days after hig death, all the marks of a notorious vampire were found thereon. His complexion was fresh, his hair, nails, and beard were grown; he was full of fluid blood, which ran from all parts of his body upon his shroud. The hadnagy or bailiff of the place, who was present at the taking of him up, and who was a person Well acquainted with vampirism, caused a sharp stake to be thrust, as the custom is, through the heart of Arnold Paul, and also quite through his body; whereupon he cried out dreadfully as if he had been alive. This done, they cut off his head, burnt his body, and threw the ashes thereof into the Saave. They took the same measures with the bodies of those persons who had died of vampirism, for fear that they should fall to sucking in their turns.
" All these prudent steps did not hinder the same misehief from breaking out again about five years afterwards, when several people in the same village died in a very odd manner. In the space of three months, seventeen persons of all ages and sexes died of vampirism, some suddenly, and some after two or three days suffering. Amongst others there was one Stanoska, the daughter of a Heyduke, whose name was Jovitzo, who going to bed in perfect health, waked in the middle of the night, and making a terrible outcry, affirmed that the son of a certain Heyduke whose name was Millo, and who had been dead about three weeks, had.attempted to strangle her in her sleep. She continued from that time in a languishing condition, and in the space of three days died. What this girl had said, discovered the son of Millo to be a vampire. They took up the body, and found so in effect. The principal persons of the place, particularly the physician and surgeons, began to examine very narrowly, how, in spite of all their precautions, vampirism had again broke out in so terrible a manner. After a strict inquisition, they found that the deceased Arnold Paul had not only sucked the four persons before mentioned, but likewise several beasts, of whom the new vampires had eaten, partcularly the son of Millo. Induced by these cireumstanoes, they took a resolution of digging up the bodies of all persons who had died within a certain time. They did so, and amongst forty bodies, there were found seventeen evidently vampires. Through the hearts of these they drove stakes, cut off their heads, burnt the bodies, and threw the ashes into the river. All the informations we have been speaking of were taken in a legal way, and nil the executions were also so performed, as appears by certificates drawn up in full form, attested by several officers in the neighbouring garrisons, by the surgeons of several regiments, and the principal inhabitants of the place. The verbal process was sent towards the latter end of last January to the council of war at Vienna, who thereupon established a special commission to examine into these facts. Those just now mentioned were attested by the Hadnagi Barriarar, the principal Heyduke of the village, as also by  Battner, first lieutenant of prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, Flickstenger, surgeon major of the regiment of Fnrstemberg, three other surgeons of the same regiment, and several other persons."...

The Dublin Inquisitor (1821)



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John Doe

Blogger. Ex estudiante de antropología de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Mis "héroes" son James Frazer,Mircea Eliade, Joseph Campbell y Vladimir Propp.

 
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