The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c.
by Augustin Calmet
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Others discern by the taste everything that composes a ragout, better than the most expert cook could do. Others possess so piercing a sight that at the first glance they can distinguish the most confused and distant objects, and remark the least change which takes place in them.

There are both men and women who, without intending to hurt, do a great deal of harm to children, and all the tender and delicate animals which they look at attentively, or which they touch. This happens particularly in hot countries; and many examples might be cited of it; from which arises what both ancients and moderns call fascination (or the evil eye); hence the precautions which were taken against these effects by amulets and preservatives, which were suspended to children's necks.

There have been known to be men from whose eyes there proceeded such venomous spirits that they did harm to everybody or thing they looked at, even to the breast of nurses, which they caused to dry up—to plants, flowers, the leaves of trees, which were seen to wither and fall off. They dare not enter any place till they had warned the people beforehand to send away the children and nurses, new-born animals, and, generally speaking, everything which they could infect by their breath or their looks.

We should laugh, and with reason, at those who, to explain all these singular effects, should have recourse to charms, spells, to the operations of demons, or of good angels. The evaporation of corpuscles, or atoms, or the insensible perspiration of the bodies which produce all these effects, suffice to account for it. We have recourse neither to miracles, nor to superior causes, above all when these effects are produced near, and at a short distance; but when the distance is great, the exhalation of the spirits, or essence, and of insensible corpuscles, does not equally satisfy us, no more than when we meet with things and effects which go beyond the known force of nature, such as foretelling future events, speaking unknown languages, i. e., languages unknown to the speaker, to be in such ecstasy that the person is beyond earthly feeling, to rise up from the ground, and remain so a long time.

The chemists demonstrate that the or a sort of restoration or resurrection of animals, insects, and plants, is possible and natural. When the ashes of a plant are placed in a phial, these ashes rise, and arrange themselves as much as they can in the form which was first impressed on them by the Author of Nature.

Father Schol, a Jesuit, affirms that he has often seen a rose which was made to arise from its ashes every time they wished to see it done, by means of a little heat.

The secret of a mineral water has been found by means of which a dead plant which has its root can be made green again, and brought to the same state as if it were growing in the ground. Digby asserts that he has drawn from dead animals, which were beaten and bruised in a mortar, the representation of these animals, or other animals of the same species.

Duchesne, a famous chemist, relates that a physician of Cracow preserved in phials the ashes of almost every kind of plant, so that when any one from curiosity desired to see, for instance, a rose in these phials, he took that in which the ashes of the rose-bush were preserved, and placing it over a lighted candle, as soon as it felt a little warmth, they saw the ashes stir and rise like a little dark cloud, and, after some movements, they represented a rose as beautiful and fresh as if newly gathered from the rose-tree.

Gaffard assures us that M. de Cleves, a celebrated chemist, showed every day plants drawn from their own ashes. David Vanderbroch affirms that the blood of animals contains the idea of their species as well as their seed; he relates on this subject the experiment of M. Borelli, who asserts that the human blood, when warm, is still full of its spirits or sulphurs, acid and volatile, and that, being excited in cemeteries and in places where great battles are fought by some heat in the ground, the phantoms or ideas of the persons who are there interred are seen to rise; that we should see them as well by day as by night, were it not for the excess of light which prevents us even from seeing the stars. He adds that by this means we might behold the idea, and represent by a lawful and natural necromancy the figure or phantom of all the great men of antiquity, our friends and our ancestors, provided we possess their ashes.

These are the most plausible objections intended to destroy or obviate all that is said of the apparitions of spirits. Whence some conclude that these are either very natural phenomena and exhalations produced by the heat of the earth imbued with blood and the volatile spirit of the dead, above all, those dead by violence; or that they are the consequences of a stricken and prepossessed fancy, or simply illusions of the mind, or sports of persons who like to divert themselves by the panics into which they terrify others; or, lastly, movements produced naturally by men, rats, monkeys, and other animals; for it is true that the oftener we examine into what have been taken for apparitions, nothing is found that is real, extraordinary, or supernatural; but to conclude from thence that all the apparitions and operations attributed to angels, spirits or souls, and demons are chimerical, is carrying things to excess; it is to conclude that we mistake always, because we mistake often.


[438] M. de S. Andre, Lett. iii. sur les Malefices.



After having made this exposition of my opinion concerning the apparitions of angels, demons, souls of the dead, and even of one living person to another, and having spoken of magic, of oracles, of obsessions and possessions of the demon; of sprites and familiar spirits; of sorcerers and witches; of spectres which predict the future; of those which haunt houses—after having stated the objections which are made against apparitions, and having replied to them in as weighty a manner as I possibly could, I think I may conclude that although this matter labors still under very great difficulties, as much respecting the foundation of the thing—I mean as regards the truth and reality of apparitions in general—as for the way in which they are made, still we cannot reasonably disallow that there may be true apparitions of all the kinds of which we have spoken, and that there may be also a great number very disputable, and some others which are manifestly the work of knavery, of maliciousness, of the art of charlatans, and flexibility of those who play sleight of hand tricks.

I acknowledge, moreover, that imagination, prepossession, simplicity, superstition, excess of credulity, and weakness of mind have given rise to several stories which are related; that ignorance of pure philosophy has caused to be taken for miraculous effects, and black magic, what is the simple effect of white magic, and the secrets of a philosophy hidden from the ignorant and common herd of men. Moreover, I confess that I see insurmountable difficulties in explaining the manner or properties of apparitions, whether we admit with several ancients that angels, demons, and disembodied souls have a sort of subtile transparent body of the nature of air, whether we believe them purely spiritual and disengaged from all matter, visible, gross, or subtile.

I lay down as a principle that to explain the affair of apparitions, and to give on this subject any certain rules, we should—

1st. Know perfectly the nature of spirits, angels and souls, and demons. We should know whether souls by nature are so spiritualized that they have no longer any relation to matter; or if they have, again, any alliance with an aerial, subtile, invisible body, which they still govern after death; or whether they exert any power over the body they once animated, to impel it to certain movements, as the soul which animates us gives to our bodies such impulsions as she thinks proper; or whether the soul determines simply by its will, as occasional or secondary cause, the first cause, which is God, to put in motion the machine which it once animated.

2d. If after death the soul still retains that power over its own body, or over others; for instance, over the air and other elements.

3d. If angels and demons have respectively the same power over sublunary bodies—for instance, to thicken air, inflame it, produce in it clouds and storms; to make phantoms appear in it; to spoil or preserve fruits and crops; to cause animals to perish, produce maladies, excite tempests and shipwrecks at sea; or even to fascinate the eyes and deceive the other senses.

4th. If they can do all these things naturally, and by their own virtue, as often as they think proper; or if there must be a particular order, or at least permission from God, for them to do what we have just said.

5th. Lastly, we should know exactly what power is possessed by these substances which we suppose to be purely spiritual, and how far the power of the angels, demons, and souls separated from their gross bodies, extends, in regard to the apparitions, operations and movements attributed to them. For whilst we are ignorant of the power which the Creator has given or left to disembodied souls, or to demons, we can in no way define what is miraculous, or prescribe the just bound to which may extend, or within which may be limited, the natural operations of spirits, angels, and demons.

If we accord the demon the faculty of fascinating our eyes when it pleases him, or of disposing the air so as to form the appearance of a phantom, or phenomenon; or of restoring movement to a body which is dead but not entirely corrupted; or of disturbing the living by ill dreams, or terrific representations, we should no longer admire many things which we admire at present, nor regard as miracles certain cures and certain apparitions, if they are only the natural effects of the power of souls, angels and demons.

If a man invested with his body produced such effects of himself, we should say with reason that they are supernatural operations, because they exceed the known ordinary and natural power of the living man; but if a man held commerce with a spirit, an angel, or a demon, whom by virtue of some compact, explicit or implicit, he commanded to perform certain things which would be above his natural powers, but not beyond the powers of the spirit whom he commanded, would the effect resulting from it be miraculous or supernatural? No, without doubt, supposing that the spirit which produced the result did nothing that was above his natural powers and faculties.

But would it be a miracle if a man had anything to do with an angel or a demon, and that he should make an explicit and implicit compact with them, to oblige them on certain conditions, and with certain ceremonies, to produce effects which would appear externally, and in our minds, to be beyond the power of man? For instance, in the operations of certain magicians who boast of having an explicit compact with the devil, and who by this means raise tempests, or go with extraordinary haste when they walk, or cause the death of animals, and to men incurable maladies; or who enchant arms; or in other operations, as in the use of the divining rod, and in certain remedies against the maladies of men and horses, which having no natural proportion to these maladies do not fail to cure them, although those who use these remedies protest that they have never thought of contracting any alliance with the devil.

To reply to this question, the difficulty always recurs to know if there is between living and mortal man a proportion or natural relation, which renders him capable of contracting an alliance with the angel or the demon, by virtue of which these spirits obey him and exert, under his empire over them, by virtue of the preceding compact, a power which is natural to them; for if in all that there is nothing beyond the ordinary force of nature, either on the side of man, or on that of angels and demons, there is nothing miraculous in one or the other; neither is there either in God's permitting secondary causes to act according to their natural faculties, of which he is nevertheless always the principle, and the absolute master, to limit, stop, suspend, extend, or augment them, according to his good pleasure.

But as we know not, and it seems even impossible that we should know by the light of reason, the nature and natural extent of the power of angels, demons, and disembodied souls, it seems that it would be rash to decide in this matter, as deriving consequences of causes by their effects, or effects by causes. For instance, to say that souls, demons, and angels have sometimes appeared to men—then they have naturally the faculty of returning and appearing, is a bold and rash proposition. For it is very possible that angels and demons appear only by the particular will of God, and not in consequence of his general will, and by virtue of his natural and physical concurrence with his creatures.

In the first case, these apparitions are miraculous, as being above the natural power of the agents in question; in the second case, there is nothing supernatural in them except the permission which God rarely grants to souls to return, to angels and demons to appear, and to produce the effects of which we have spoken.

According to these principles we may advance without temerity—

1st. That angels and demons have often appeared unto men, that souls separated from the body have often returned, and that both the one and the other may do the same thing again.

2d. That the manner of these apparitions, and of these returns to earth, is perfectly unknown, and given up by God to the discussions and researches of mankind.

3d. That there is some likelihood that these kinds of apparitions are not absolutely miraculous on the part of the good and evil angels, but that God allows them sometimes to take place, for reasons the knowledge of which is reserved to himself alone.

4th. That no certain rule on this point can be given, nor any demonstrative argument formed, for want of knowing perfectly the nature and extent of the power of the spiritual beings in question.

5th. That we should reason upon those apparitions which appear in dreams otherwise than upon those which appear when we are awake; differently also upon apparitions wearing solid bodies, speaking, walking, eating and drinking, and those which seem like a shade, or a nebulous and aerial body.

6th. Thus it would be rash to lay down principles, and raise uniform arguments, and all these things in common, every species of apparition demanding its own particular explanation.



Apparitions in dreams, for instance, that of the angel[439] who told St. Joseph to carry the infant Jesus into Egypt because King Herod wished to put him to death; there are two things appertaining to this apparition—the first is, the impression made on the mind of St. Joseph that an angel appeared to him; the second is, the prediction or revelation of the ill-will of Herod. Both these are above the ordinary powers of our nature, but we know not if they be above the power of angels; it is certain that it could not have been done except by the will and command of God.

The apparitions of a spirit, or of an angel and a demon, which show themselves clothed in an apparent body, and only as a shadow or a phantom, as that of the angel who showed himself to Manoah the father of Samson, and vanished with the smoke of the sacrifice, and of him who extricated St. Peter from prison, and disappeared in the same way after having conducted him the length of a street; the bodies which these angels assumed, and which we suppose to have been only apparent and aerial, present great difficulties; for either those bodies were their own, or they were assumed or borrowed.

If those forms were their own, and we suppose with several ancient and some new writers that angels, demons, and even human souls have a kind of subtile, transparent, and aerial body, the difficulty lies in knowing how they can condense the transparent body, and render it visible when it was before invisible; for if it was always and naturally evident to the senses and visible, there would be another kind of continual miracle to render it invisible, and hide it from our sight; and if of its nature it is invisible, what might can render it visible? On whatever side we regard this object it seems equally miraculous, whether to make evident to the senses that which is purely spiritual, or to render invisible that which in its nature is palpable and corporeal.

The ancient fathers of the church, who gave to angels subtile bodies of an airy nature, explained, according to their principles, more easily the predictions made by the demons, and the wonderful operations which they cause in the air, in the elements, in our bodies, and which are far beyond what the cleverest and the most learned men can know, predict, and perform. They likewise conceived more easily that evil angels can cause maladies, render the air impure and contagious, that they inspire the wicked with wrong thoughts and unjust desires, that they can penetrate our thoughts and wishes, that they foresee tempests and changes in the air, and derangements in the seasons; all that can be explained with much more facility on the hypothesis that demons have bodies composed of very fine and subtile air.

St. Augustine[440] had written that they could also discover what is passing in our mind, and at the bottom of our heart, not only by our words, but also by certain signs and movements, which escape from the most circumspect; but reflecting on what he had advanced in this passage, he retracted, and owned that he had spoken too affirmatively upon a subject but little known, and that the manner in which the evil angels penetrate our thoughts is a very hidden thing, and very difficult for men to discover and explain; thus he preferred suspending his judgment upon it, and remaining in doubt.


[439] Matt. ii. 13,14.

[440] S. Aug. lib. ii. retract. c. 30.



The difficulty is much greater, if we suppose that these spirits are absolutely disengaged from any kind of matter; for how can they assemble about them a certain quantity of matter, clothe themselves with it, give it a human form, which can be discerned; is capable of acting, speaking, conversing, eating and drinking, as did the angels who appeared to Abraham,[441] and the one who appeared to the young Tobias,[442] and conducted him to Rages! Is all that accomplished by the natural power of these spirits? Has God bestowed on them this power in creating them, and has he engaged himself by virtue of his natural laws, and by a consequence of his acting intimately and essentially on the creature, in his quality of Creator, to impress on occasion at the will of these spirits certain motions in the air, and in the bodies which they would move, condense, and cause to act, in the same manner proportionally that he has willed by virtue of the union of the soul with a living body, that that soul should impress on that body motions proportioned to its own will, although, naturally, there is no natural proportion between matter and spirit, and, according to the laws of physics, the one cannot act upon the other, unless the first cause, the Creator, has chosen to subject himself to create this movement, and to produce these effects at the will of man, movements which without that would pass for superhuman (supernatural).

Or shall we say, with some new philosophers,[443] that although we may have ideas of matter and thought, perhaps we shall never be capable of knowing whether a being purely material thinks or not, because it is impossible for us to discover by the contemplative powers of our own minds without revelation, if God has not given to some collections of matter, disposed as he thinks proper, the power to perceive and to think, or whether he has joined and united to the matter thus arranged, an immaterial substance which thinks? Now in relation to our notions, it is not less easy for us to conceive that God can add to our idea of matter the faculty of thinking, since we know not in what thought consists, and to what species of substance that Almighty being has judged proper to grant this faculty, which could exist in no created being except by virtue of the goodness and the will of the Creator.

This system certainly embraces great absurdities, and greater to my mind than those it would fain avoid. We conceive clearly that matter is divisible, and capable of motion; but we do not conceive that it is capable of thought, nor that thought can consist of a certain configuration or a certain motion of matter. And even could thought depend on an arrangement, or on a certain subtility, or on a certain motion of matter, as soon as that arrangement should be disturbed, or the motion interrupted, or this heap of subtile matter dispersed, thought would cease to be produced, and consequently that which constitutes man, or the reasoning animal, would no longer subsist; thus all the economy of our religion, all our hopes of a future life, all our fears of eternal punishment would vanish; even the principles of our philosophy would be overthrown.

God forbid that we should wish to set bounds to the almighty power of God; but that all-powerful Being having given us as a rule of our knowledge the clearness of the ideas which we form of everything, and not being permitted to affirm that which we know but indistinctly, it follows that we ought not to assert that thought can be attributed to matter. If the thing were known to us through revelation, and taught by the authority of the Scriptures, then we might impose silence on human reason, and make captive our judgment in obedience to faith; but it is owned that the thing is not at all revealed; neither is it demonstrated, either by its cause, or by its effects. It must, then, be considered as a simple system, invented to do away certain difficulties which result from the opinion opposed to it.

If the difficulty of explaining how the soul acts upon our bodies appears so great, how can we comprehend that the soul itself should be material and extended? In the latter case will it act upon itself, and give itself the impulsion to think, or will this movement or impulsion be thought itself, or will it produce thought? Will this thinking matter think on always, or only at times; and when it has ceased to think, who will make it think anew? Will it be God, will it be itself? Can so simple an agent as the soul act upon itself, and reproduce it in some sort by thinking, after it has ceased to think?

My reader will say that I leave him here embarrassed, and that instead of giving him any light on the subject of the apparition of spirits, I cast doubt and uncertainty on the subject. I own it; but I better like to doubt prudently, than to affirm that which I know not. And if I hold by what my religion teaches me concerning the nature of souls, angels, and demons, I shall say that being purely spiritual, it is impossible that they should appear clothed with a body except through a miracle; always in the supposition that God has not created them naturally capable of these operations, with subordination to his sovereignly powerful will, which but rarely allows them to use this faculty of showing themselves corporeally to mortals.

If sometimes angels have eaten, spoken, acted, walked, like men, it was not from any need they had to drink or eat to sustain themselves and to be able to live, but to execute the designs of God, whose will it was that they should appear to men acting, drinking, and eating, as the angel Raphael observes,[444]—"When I was staying with you, I was there by the will of God; I seemed to you to eat and drink, but for my part I make use of an invisible nourishment which is unknown to men."

It is true that we know not what may be the food of angels who are substances which are purely spiritual, nor what became of that food which Raphael and the angels that Abraham entertained in his tent, took, or seemed to take, in the company of men. But there are so many other things in nature which are unknown and incomprehensible to us, that we may very well console ourselves for not knowing how it is that the apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls are made to appear.


[441] Gen. xviii.

[442] Tob. xii. 19.

[443] M. Lock. de Intellectu Human. lib. iv. c. 3.

[444] Tob. xii. 18, 19.




Every age, every nation, every country has its prejudices, its maladies, its customs, its inclinations, which characterize them, and which pass away, and succeed to one another; often that which has appeared admirable at one time, becomes pitiful and ridiculous at another. We have seen that in some ages all was turned towards a certain kind of devotion, of studies and of exercises. It is known that, for more than one century, the prevailing taste of Europe was the journey to Jerusalem. Kings, princes, nobles, bishops, ecclesiastics, monks, all pressed thither in crowds. The pilgrimages to Rome were formerly very frequent and very famous. All that is fallen away. We have seen provinces over-run with flagellants, and now none of them remain except in the brotherhoods of penitents which are still found in several parts.

We have seen in these countries jumpers and dancers, who every moment jumped and danced in the streets, squares or market-places, and even in the churches. The convulsionaries of our own days seem to have revived them; posterity will be surprised at them, as we laugh at them now. Towards the end of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the seventeenth century, nothing was talked of in Lorraine but wizards and witches. For a long time we have heard nothing of them. When the philosophy of M. Descartes appeared, what a vogue it had! The ancient philosophy was despised; nothing was talked of but experiments in physics, new systems, new discoveries. M. Newton appears; all minds turn to him. The system of M. Law, bank notes, the rage of the Rue Quinquampoix, what movements did they not cause in the kingdom? A sort of convulsion had seized on the French. In this age, a new scene presents itself to our eyes, and has done for about sixty years in Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland: they see, it is said, men who have been dead for several months, come back to earth, talk, walk, infest villages, ill use both men and beasts, suck the blood of their near relations, make them ill, and finally cause their death; so that people can only save themselves from their dangerous visits and their hauntings by exhuming them, impaling them, cutting off their heads, tearing out the heart, or burning them. These revenans are called by the name of oupires or vampires, that is to say, leeches; and such particulars are related of them, so singular, so detailed, and invested with such probable circumstances and such judicial information, that one can hardly refuse to credit the belief which is held in those countries, that these revenans come out of their tombs and produce those effects which are proclaimed of them.

Antiquity certainly neither saw nor knew anything like it. Let us read through the histories of the Hebrews, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Latins; nothing approaching to it will be met with.

It is true that we remark in history, though rarely, that certain persons after having been some time in their tombs and considered as dead, have returned to life. We shall see even that the ancients believed that magic could cause death and evoke the souls of the dead. Several passages are cited, which prove that at certain times they fancied that sorcerers sucked the blood of men and children, and caused their death. They saw also in the twelfth century in England and Denmark, some revenans similar to those of Hungary. But in no history do we read anything so usual or so pronounced, as what is related to us of the vampires of Poland, Hungary, and Moravia.

Christian antiquity furnishes some instances of excommunicated persons who have visibly come out of their tombs and left the churches, when the deacon commanded the excommunicated, and those who did not partake of the communion, to retire. For several centuries nothing like this has been seen, although it is known that the bodies of several excommunicated persons who died while under sentence of excommunication and censure of the Church are buried in churches.

The belief of the modern Greeks, who will have it that the bodies of the excommunicated do not decay in their tombs or graves, is an opinion which has no foundation, either in antiquity, in good theology, or even in history. This idea seems to have been invented by the modern Greek schismatics, only to authorize and confirm them in their separation from the church of Rome. Christian antiquity believed, on the contrary, that the incorruptibility of a body was rather a probable mark of the sanctity of the person and a proof of the particular protection of God, extended to a body which during its lifetime had been the temple of the Holy Spirit, and of one who had retained in justice and innocence the mark of Christianity.

The vroucolacas of Greece and the Archipelago are again revenans of a new kind. We can hardly persuade ourselves that a nation so witty as the Greeks could fall into so extraordinary an opinion. Ignorance or prejudice, must be extreme among them since neither an ecclesiastic nor any other writer has undertaken to undeceive them.

The imagination of those who believe that the dead chew in their graves, with a noise similar to that made by hogs when they eat, is so ridiculous that it does not deserve to be seriously refuted. I undertake to treat here on the matter of the revenans or vampires of Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, at the risk of being criticised however I may discuss it; those who believe them to be true, will accuse me of rashness and presumption, for having raised a doubt on the subject, or even of having denied their existence and reality; others will blame me for having employed my time in discussing this matter which is considered as frivolous and useless by many sensible people. Whatever may be thought of it, I shall be pleased with myself for having sounded a question which appeared to me important in a religious point of view. For if the return of vampires is real, it is of import to defend it, and prove it; and if it is illusory, it is of consequence to the interests of religion to undeceive those who believe in its truth, and destroy an error which may produce dangerous effects.





After having treated in a separate dissertation on the matter of the apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls, the connection of the subject invites me to speak also of the ghosts and excommunicated persons, whom, it is said, the earth rejects from her bosom; of the vampires of Hungary, Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland; and of the vroucolacas of Greece. I shall report first of all, what has been said and written of them; then I shall deduce some consequences, and bring forward the reasons or arguments that may be adduced for, and against, their existence and reality.

The revenans of Hungary, or vampires, which form the principal object of this dissertation, are men who have been dead a considerable time, sometimes more, sometimes less; who leave their tombs, and come and disturb the living, sucking their blood, appearing to them, making a racket at their doors, and in their houses, and lastly, often causing their death. They are named vampires, or oupires, which signifies, they say, in Sclavonic, a leech. The only way to be delivered from their haunting, is to disinter them, cut off their head, impale them, burn them, or pierce their heart.

Several systems have been propounded to explain the return, and these apparitions of the vampires. Some persons have denied and rejected them as chimerical, and as an effect of the prepossession and ignorance of the people of those countries, where they are said to come back or return.

Others have thought that these people were not really dead, but that they had been interred alive, and returned naturally to themselves, and came out of their tombs.

Others believe that these people are very truly dead, but that God, by a particular permission, or command, permits or commands them to come back to earth, and resume for a time their own body; for when they are exhumed, their bodies are found entire, their blood vermilion and fluid, and their limbs supple and pliable.

Others maintain that it is the demon who causes these revenans to appear, and by their means does all the harm he occasions both men and animals.

In the supposition that vampires veritably resuscitate, we may raise an infinity of difficulties on the subject. How is this resurrection accomplished? It is by the strength of the revenant, by the return of his soul into his body? Is it an angel, is it a demon who reanimates it? Is it by the order, or by the permission of God that he resuscitates? Is this resurrection voluntary on his part, and by his own choice? Is it for a long time, like that of the persons who were restored to life by Jesus Christ? or that of persons resuscitated by the Prophets and Apostles? Or is it only momentary, and for a few days and a few hours, like the resurrection operated by St. Stanislaus upon the lord who had sold him a field; or that spoken of in the life of St. Macarius of Egypt, and of St. Spiridion, who made the dead to speak, simply to bear testimony to the truth, and then left them to sleep in peace, awaiting the last, the judgment day.

First of all, I lay it down as an undoubted principle, that the resurrection of a person really dead is effected by the power of God alone. No man can either resuscitate himself, or restore another man to life, without a visible miracle.

Jesus Christ resuscitated himself, as he had promised he would; he did it by his own power; he did it with circumstances which were all miraculous. If he had returned to life as soon as he was taken down from the cross, it might have been thought that he was not quite dead, that there remained yet in him some remains of life, that they might have been revived by warming him, or by giving him cordials and something capable of bringing him back to his senses.

But he revives only on the third day. He had, as it were, been killed after his death, by the opening made in his side with a lance, which pierced him to the heart, and would have put him to death, if he had not then been beyond receiving it.

When he resuscitated Lazarus,[445] he waited until he had been four days in the tomb, and began to show corruption; which is the most certain mark that a man is really deceased, without a hope of returning to life, except by supernatural means.

The resurrection which Job so firmly expected,[446] and that of the man who came to life, on touching the body of the prophet Elisha in his tomb;[447] and the child of the widow of Shunem, whom the same Elisha restored to life;[448] that army of skeletons, whose resurrection was predicted by Ezekiel,[449] and which in spirit he saw executed before his eyes, as a type and pledge as the return of the Hebrews from their captivity at Babylon;—in short, all the resurrections related in the sacred books of the Old and New Testament, are manifestly miraculous effects, and attributed solely to the Almighty power of God. Neither angels, nor demons, nor men, the holiest and most favored of God, could by their own power restore to life a person really dead. They can do it by the power of God alone, who when he thinks proper so to do, is free to grant this favor to their prayers and intercession.


[445] John xi. 39.

[446] Job xxi. 25.

[447] 1 Kings xiii. 21, 22.

[448] 2 Kings iv.

[449] Ezek. xxxvii. 1, 2, 3.



The resuscitation of some persons who were believed to be dead, and who were not so, but simply asleep, or in a lethargy; and of those who were supposed to be dead, having been drowned, and who came to life again through the care taken of them, or by medical skill. Such persons must not pass for being really resuscitated; they were not dead, or were so only in appearance.

We intend to speak in this place of another order of resuscitated persons, who had been buried sometimes for several months, or even several years; who ought to have been suffocated in their graves, had they been interred alive, and in whom are still found signs of life: the blood in a liquid state, the flesh entire, the complexion fine and florid, the limbs flexible and pliable. Those persons who return either by night or by day, disturb the living, suck their blood, kill them, appear in their clothes, in their families, sit down to table, and do a thousand other things; then return to their graves without any one seeing how they re-enter them. This is a kind of momentary resurrection, or revival; for whereas the other dead persons spoken of in Scripture have lived, drank, eaten and conversed with other men after their return to life, as Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha,[450] and the son of the widow of Shunem, resuscitated by Elisha.[451] These appeared during a certain time, in certain places, in certain circumstances; and appear no more as soon as they have been impaled, or burned, or have had their heads cut off.

If this last order of resuscitated persons were not really dead, there is nothing wonderful in their revisiting the world, except the manner in which it is done, and the circumstances by which that return is accompanied. Do these revenans simply awaken from their sleep, or do they recover themselves like those who fall down in syncope, in fainting fits, or in swoons, and who at the end of a certain time come naturally to themselves when the blood and animal spirits have resumed their natural course and motion.

But how can they come out of their graves without opening the earth, and how re-enter them again without its appearing? Have we ever seen lethargies, or swoons, or syncopes last whole years together? If people insist on these resurrections being real ones, did we ever see dead persons resuscitate themselves, and by their own power?

If they are not resuscitated by themselves, is it by the power of God that they have left their graves? What proof is there that God has anything to do with it? What is the object of these resurrections? Is it to show forth the works of God in these vampires? What glory does the Divinity derive from them? If it is not God who drags them from their graves, is it an angel? is it a demon? is it their own spirit? Can the soul when separated from the body re-enter it when it will, and give it new life, were it but for a quarter of an hour? Can an angel or a demon restore a dead man to life? Undoubtedly not, without the order, or at least the permission of God. This question of the natural power of angels and demons over human bodies has been examined in another place, and we have shown that neither revelation nor reason throws any certain light on the subject.


[450] 1 John xii. 2.

[451] 2 Kings viii. 5.



All the lives of the saints are full of resurrections of the dead; thick volumes might be composed on the subject.

These resurrections have a manifest relation to the matter which we are here treating of, since it relates to persons who are dead, or held to be so, who appear bodily and animated to the living, and who live after their return to life. I shall content myself with relating the history of St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, who restored to life a man that had been dead for three years, attended by such singular circumstances, and in so public a manner, that the thing is beyond the severest criticism. If it is really true, it must be regarded as one of the most unheard of miracles which are read of in history. They assert that the life of this saint was written either at the time of martyrdom,[452] or a short time afterwards, by different well-informed authors; for the martyrdom of the saint, and, above all, the restoration to life of the dead man of whom we are about to speak, were seen and known by an infinite number of persons, by all the court of king Boleslaus. And this event having taken place in Poland, where vampires are frequently met with even in our days, it concerns, for that reason, more particularly the subject we are treating.

The bishop, St. Stanislaus, having bought of a gentleman, named Pierre, an estate situated on the banks of the Vistula, in the territory of Lublin, for the profit of his church at Cracow, gave the price of it to the seller, in the presence of witnesses, and with the solemnities requisite in that country, but without written deeds, for they then wrote but seldom in Poland on the occasion of sales of this kind; they contented themselves with having witnesses. Stanislaus took possession of this estate by the king's authority, and his church enjoyed it peaceably for about three years.

In the interim, Pierre, who had sold it, happened to die. The king of Poland, Boleslaus, who had conceived an implacable hatred against the holy bishop, because he had freely reproved him for his excesses, seeking occasion to cause him trouble, excited against him the three sons of Pierre, and his heirs, and told them to claim the estate which their father had sold, on pretence of its not having been paid for. He promised to support their demand, and to cause it to be restored to them. Thus these three gentlemen had the bishop cited to appear before the king, who was then at Solech, occupied in rendering justice under some tents in the country, according to the ancient custom of the land, in the general assembly of the nation. The bishop was cited before the king, and maintained that he had bought and paid for the estate in question. The day was beginning to close, and the bishop ran great risk of being condemned by the king and his counselors. Suddenly, as if inspired by the Divine Spirit, he promised the king to bring him in three days Pierre, of whom he had bought it, and the condition was accepted mockingly, as a thing impossible to be executed.

The holy bishop repairs to Pictravin, remains in prayer, and keeps fast with his household for three days; on the third day he goes in his pontifical robes, accompanied by his clergy and a multitude of people, causes the grave-stone to be raised, and makes them dig until they found the corpse of the defunct all fleshless and corrupted. The saint commands him to come forth and bear witness to the truth before the king's tribunal. He rises; they cover him with a cloak; the saint takes him by the hand, and leads him alive to the feet of the king. No one had the boldness to interrogate him; but he took the word, and declared that he had in good faith sold the estate to the prelate, and that he had received the value of it; after which he severely reprimanded his sons, who had so maliciously accused the holy bishop.

Stanislaus asked Pierre if he wished to remain alive to do penance. He thanked him, and said he would not anew expose himself to the danger of sinning. Stanislaus reconducted him to his tomb, and being arrived there, he again fell asleep in the Lord. It may be supposed that such a scene had an infinite number of witnesses, and that all Poland was quickly informed of it. The king was only the more irritated against the saint. He some time after killed him with his own hand, as he was coming from the altar, and had his body cut into seventy-two parts, in order that they might never more be collected together in order to pay them the worship which was due to them as the body of a martyr for the truth and for pastoral liberty.

Now then let us come to that which is the principal subject of these researches, the vampires, or revenans, of Hungary, Moravia, and similar ones, which appear only for a little time in their natural bodies.


[452] The reverend fathers the Bollandists, believed that the life of St. Stanislaus, which they had printed, was very old, and nearly of the time of the martyrdom of the saint; or at least that it was taken from a life by an author almost his cotemporary, and original. But since the first edition of this dissertation it has been observed to me that the thing was by no means certain; that M. Baillet, on the 7th of May, in the critical table of authors, asserts that the life of St. Stanislaus was only written 400 years after his death, from uncertain and mutilated memoirs. And in the life of the saint he owns that it is only the tradition of the writers of the country which can render credible the account of the resurrection of Pierre. The Abbe Fleuri, tom. xiii. of the Ecclesiastical History, l. 62, year 1079, does not agree either to what is written in that life or to what has followed it. At any rate, the miracle of the resurrection of Pierre is related as certain in a discourse of John de Polemac, delivered at the Council of Constance, 1433; tom. xii. Councils, p. 1397.



If what is related of vampires were certainly true, the question here proposed would be frivolous and useless; they would reply to us directly—In Hungary, Moravia, and Poland, persons who were dead and interred a long time, have been seen to return, to appear, and torment men and animals, suck their blood, and cause their death.

These persons come back to earth in their own bodies; people see them, know them, exhume them, try them, impale them, cut off their heads, burn them. It is then not only possible, but very true and very real, that they appear in their own bodies.

It might be added in support of this belief, that the Scriptures themselves give instances of these apparitions: for example, at the Transfiguration of our Saviour, Elias and Moses appeared on Mount Tabor,[453] there conversing with Jesus Christ. We know that Elias is still alive. I do not cite him as an instance; but in regard to Moses, his death is not doubtful; and yet he appeared bodily talking with Jesus Christ. The dead who came out of their graves at the resurrection of the Saviour,[454] and who appeared to many persons in Jerusalem, had been in their sepulchres for several years; there was no doubt of their being dead; and nevertheless they appeared and bore testimony to the resurrection of the Saviour.

When Jeremiah appeared to Judas Maccabaeus,[455] and placed in his hand a golden sword, saying to him, "Receive this sword as a gift from God, with which you will vanquish the enemies of my people of Israel;" it was apparently this prophet in his own person who appeared to him and made him that present, since by his mien he was recognized as the prophet Jeremiah.

I do not speak of those persons who were really restored to life by a miracle, as the son of the widow of Shunem resuscitated by Elijah; nor of the dead man who, on touching the coffin of the same prophet, rose upon his feet and revived; nor of Lazarus, to whom Jesus Christ restored life in a way so miraculous and striking. Those persons lived, drank, ate, and conversed with mankind, after, as before their death and resurrection.

It is not of such persons that we now speak. I speak, for instance, of Pierre resuscitated by Stanislaus for a few hours; of those persons of whom I made mention in the treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits, who appeared, spoke, and revealed hidden things, and whose resurrection was but momentary, and only to manifest the power of God, in order to bear witness to truth and innocence, or to maintain the credit of the church against obstinate heretics, as we read in various instances.

St. Martin, being newly made Archbishop of Tours, conceived some suspicions against an altar which the bishops his predecessors had erected to a pretended martyr, of whom they knew neither the name nor the history, and of whom none of the priests or ministers of the chapel could give any certain account. He abstained for some time from going to this spot, which was not far from the city; but one day he repaired thither accompanied by a few monks, and having prayed, he besought God to let him know who it was that was interred there. He then perceived on his left a hideous and dirty-looking apparition; and having commanded it to tell him who he was, the spectre declared his name, and confessed to him that he was a robber, who had been put to death for his crimes and acts of violence, and that he had nothing in common with the martyrs. Those who were present heard distinctly what he said, but saw no one. St. Martin had the tomb overthrown, and cured the ignorant people of their superstitions.

The philosopher Celsus, writing against the Christians, maintained that the apparitions of Jesus Christ to his apostles were not real, but that they were simply shadowy forms which appeared. Origen, retorting his reasoning, tells him[456] that the pagans give an account of various apparitions of AEsculapius and Apollo, to which they attribute the power of predicting future events. If these appearances are admitted to be real, because they are attested by some, why not receive as true those of Jesus Christ, which are related by ocular witnesses, and believed by millions of persons?

He afterwards relates this history. Aristeus, who belonged to one of the first families of Proconnesus, having one day entered a foulon shop, died there suddenly. The having locked the door, ran directly to inform the relations of the deceased; but as the report was instantly spread in the town, a man of Cyzica, who came from Astacia, affirmed that it could not be, because he had met Aristeus on the road from Cyzica, and had spoken to him, which he loudly maintained before all the people of Proconnesus.

Thereupon the relations arrive at the foulon's, with all the necessary apparatus for carrying away the body; but when they entered the house, they could not find Aristeus there, either dead or alive. Seven years after, he showed himself in the very town of Proconnesus; made there those verses which are termed Arimaspean, and then disappeared for the second time. Such is the story related of him in those places.

Three hundred and forty years after that event, the same Aristeus showed himself in Metapontus, in Italy, and commanded the Metapontines to build an altar to Apollo, and afterwards to erect a statue in honor of Aristeus of Proconnesus, adding that they were the only people of Italy whom Apollo had honored with his presence; as for himself who spoke to them, he had accompanied that god in the form of a crow; and having thus spoken he disappeared.

The Metapontines sent to consult the oracle of Delphi concerning this apparition; the Delphic oracle told them to follow the counsel which Aristeus had given them, and it would be well for them; in fact, they did erect a statue to Apollo, which was still to be seen there in the time of Herodotus;[457] and at the same time, another statue to Aristeus, which stood in a small plantation of laurels, in the midst of the public square of Metapontus. Celsus made no difficulty of believing all that on the word of Herodotus, though Pindar and he refused credence to what the Christians taught of the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, related in the Gospel and sealed with the blood of martyrs. Origen adds, What could Providence have designed in performing for this Proconnesian the miracles we have just mentioned? What benefit could mankind derive from them? Whereas, what the Christians relate of Jesus Christ serves to confirm a doctrine which is beneficial to the human race. We must, then, either reject this story of Aristeus as fabulous, or ascribe all that is told of it as the work of the evil spirit.


[453] Matt. ix. 34.

[454] Matt. xxvii. 53.

[455] Macc. xiv. 14, 15.

[456] Origen. contra Celsum, lib. i. pp. 123, 124.

[457] Herodot. lib. iv.



Phlegonus, freed-man of the Emperor Adrian,[458] in the fragment of the book which he wrote on wonderful things, says that at Tralla, in Asia, a certain man named Machates, an innkeeper, was connected with a girl named Philinium, the daughter of Demostrates and Chariton. This girl being dead, and placed in her grave, continued to come every night for six months to see her gallant, to drink, eat, and sleep with him. One day this girl was recognized by her nurse, when she was sitting by Machates. The nurse ran to give notice of this to Chariton, the girl's mother, who, after making many difficulties, came at last to the inn; but as it was very late, and everybody gone to bed, she could not satisfy her curiosity. However, she recognized her daughter's clothes, and thought she recognized the girl herself in bed with Machates. She returned the next morning, but having missed her way, she no longer found her daughter, who had already withdrawn. Machates related everything to her; how, since a certain time, she had come to him every night; and in proof of what he said, he opened his casket and showed her the gold ring which Philinium had given him, and the band with which she covered her bosom, and which she had left with him the preceding night.

Chariton, who could no longer doubt the truth of the circumstance, now gave way to cries and tears; but as they promised to inform her the following night, when Philinium should return, she went away home. In the evening the girl came back as usual, and Machates sent directly to let her father and mother know, for he began to fear that some other girl might have taken Philinium's clothes from the sepulchre, in order to deceive him by the illusion.

Demostrates and Chariton, on arriving, recognized their daughter and ran to embrace her; but she cried out, "Oh, father and mother, why have you grudged me my happiness, by preventing me from remaining three days longer with this innkeeper without injury to any one? for I did not come here without permission from the gods, that is to say, from the demon, since we cannot attribute to God, or to a good spirit, a thing like that. Your curiosity will cost you dear." At the same time, she fell down stiff and dead, and extended on the bed.

Phlegon, who had some command in the town, stayed the crowd and prevented a tumult. The next day, the people being assembled at the theatre, they agreed to go and inspect the vault in which Philinium, who had died six months before, had been laid. They found there the corpses of her family arranged in their places, but they found not the body of Philinium. There was only an iron ring, which Machates had given her, with a gilded cup, which she had also received from him. Afterwards they went back to the dwelling of Machates, where the body of the girl remained lying on the ground.

They consulted a diviner, who said that she must be interred beyond the limits of the town; they must appease the furies and terrestrial Mercury, make solemn funeral ceremonies to the god Manes, and sacrifice to Jupiter Hospitaller, to Mercury, and Mars. Phlegon adds, speaking to him to whom he was writing: "If you think proper to inform the emperor of it, write to me, that I may send you some of those persons who were eye-witnesses of all these things."

Here is the fact circumstantially related, and invested with all the marks which can make it pass for true. Nevertheless, how numerous are the difficulties it presents! Was this young girl really dead, or only sleeping? Was her resurrection effected by her own strength and will, or was it a demon who restored her to life? It appears that it cannot be doubted that it was her own body; all the circumstances noted in the recital of Phlegon persuade us of it. If she was not dead, and all she did was merely a game and a play which she performed to satisfy her passion for Machates, there is nothing in all this recital very incredible. We know what illicit love is capable of, and how far it may lead any one who is devoured by a violent passion. The same Phlegon says that a Syrian soldier of the army of Antiochus, after having been killed at Thermopylae, appeared in open day in the Roman camp, where he spoke to several persons.

Haralde, or Harappe, a Dane, who caused himself to be buried at the entrance of his kitchen, appeared after his death, and was wounded by one Olaues Pa, who left the iron of his lance in the wound. This Dane, then, appeared bodily. Was it his soul which moved his body, or a demon which made use of this corpse to disturb and frighten the living? Did he do this by his own strength, or by the permission of God? And what glory to God, what advantage to men, could accrue from these apparitions? Shall we deny all these facts, related in so circumstantial a manner by enlightened authors, who have no interest in deceiving us, nor any wish to do so?

St. Augustine relates that, during his abode at Milan,[459] a young man had a suit instituted against him by a person who repeated his demand for a debt already paid the young man's father, but the receipt for which could not be found. The ghost of the father appeared to the son, and informed him where the receipt was which occasioned him so much trouble.

St. Macarius, the Egyptian, made a dead man[460] speak who had been interred some time, in order to discover a deposit which he had received and hidden unknown to his wife. The dead man declared that the money was slipt down at the foot of his bed.

The same St. Macarius, not being able to refute in any other way a heretic Eunomian, according to some, or Hieracitus, according to others, said to him, "Let us go to the grave of a dead man, and ask him to inform us of the truth which you will not agree to." The heretic dared not present himself at the grave; but St. Macarius went thither, accompanied by a multitude of persons. He interrogated the dead, who replied from the depth of the tomb, that if the heretic had appeared in the crowd he should have arisen to convince him, and to bear testimony to the truth. St. Macarius commanded him to fall asleep again in the Lord, till the time when Jesus Christ should awaken him in his place at the end of the world.

The ancients, who have related the same fact, vary in some of the circumstances, as is usual enough when those things are related only from memory.

St. Spiridion, Bishop of Trinitontis, in Egypt,[461] had a daughter named Irene, who lived in virginity till her death. After her decease, a person came to Spiridion and asked him for a deposit which he had confided to Irene unknown to her father. They sought in every part of the house, but could find nothing. At last Spiridion went to his daughter's tomb, and calling her by her name, asked her where the deposit was. She declared the same, and Spiridion restored it.

A holy abbot named Erricles resuscitated for a moment a man who had been killed,[462] and of whose death they accused a monk who was perfectly innocent. The dead man did justice to the accused, and the Abbot Erricles said to him, "Sleep in peace, till the Lord shall come at the last day to resuscitate you to all eternity."

All these momentary resurrections may serve to explain how the revenans of Hungary come out of their graves, then return to them, after having caused themselves to be seen and felt for some time. But the difficulty will always be to know, 1st, If the thing be true; 2d, If they can resuscitate themselves; and, 3d, If they are really dead, or only asleep. In what way soever we regard this circumstance, it always appears equally impossible and incredible.


[458] Phlegon. de Mirabilib. 18. Gronov. Antiq. Graec. p. 2694.

[459] Aug. de Cura pro Mortuis.

[460] Rosweid. vit. P. P. lib. ii. p. 480.

[461] Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. lib. i. c. 11.

[462] Vit. P. P. lib. ii. p. 650.



We read in a new work, a story which has some connection with this subject. A shopkeeper of the Rue St. Honore, at Paris, had promised his daughter to one of his friends, a shopkeeper like himself, residing also in the same street. A financier having presented himself as a husband for this young girl, was accepted instead of the young man to whom she had been promised. The marriage was accomplished, and the young bride falling ill, was looked upon as dead, enshrouded and interred. The first lover having an idea that she had fallen into a lethargy or a trance, had her taken out of the ground during the night; they brought her to herself and he espoused her. They crossed the channel, and lived quietly in England for some years. At the end of ten years, they returned to Paris, where the first husband having recognized his wife in a public walk, claimed her in a court of justice; and this was the subject of a great law suit.

The wife and her (second) husband defended themselves on the ground that death had broken the bonds of the first marriage. The first husband was even accused of having caused his wife to be too precipitately interred. The lovers foreseeing that they might be non-suited, again withdrew to a foreign land, where they ended their days. This circumstance is so singular that our readers will have some difficulty in giving credence to it. I only give it as it is told. It is for those who advance the fact to guarantee and prove it.

Who can say that, in the story of Phlegon, the young Philinium was not thus placed in the vault without being dead, and that every night she came to see her lover Machates? That was much easier for her than would have been the return of the Parisian woman, who had been enshrouded, buried, and remained covered with earth, and enveloped in linen, during a pretty long time.

The other example related in the same work, is of a girl who fell into a trance and was regarded as dead, and became enceinte during this interval, without knowing the author of her pregnancy. It was a monk, who, having made himself known, asserted that his vows should be annulled, he having been forced into the sacred profession. A great lawsuit ensued upon it, of which the documents are preserved to this day. The monk obtained a dispensation from his vows, and married the young girl.

This instance may be adduced with that of Philinium, and the young woman of the Rue St. Honore. It is possible that these persons might not be dead, and consequently not restored to life.



I have been told by the late Monsieur de Vassimont, counsellor of the Chamber of the Counts of Bar, that having been sent into Moravia by his late Royal Highness Leopold, first Duke of Lorraine, for the affairs of my Lord the Prince Charles his brother, Bishop of Olmutz and Osnaburgh, he was informed by public report that it was common enough in that country to see men who had died some time before, present themselves in a party, and sit down to table with persons of their acquaintance without saying anything; but that nodding to one of the party, he would infallibly die some days afterwards. This fact was confirmed by several persons, and amongst others by an old cure, who said he had seen more than one instance of it.

The bishops and priests of the country consulted Rome on so extraordinary a fact; but they received no answer, because, apparently, all those things were regarded there as simple visions, or popular fancies. They afterwards bethought themselves of taking up the corpses of those who came back in that way, of burning them, or of destroying them in some other manner. Thus they delivered themselves from the importunity of these spectres, which are now much less frequently seen than before. So said that good priest.

These apparitions have given rise to a little work, entitled Magia Posthuma, printed at Olmutz, in 1706, composed by Charles Ferdinand de Schertz, dedicated to Prince Charles, of Lorraine, Bishop of Olmutz and Osnaburgh. The author relates that, in a certain village, a woman being just dead, who had taken all her sacraments, she was buried in the usual way in the cemetery. Four days after her decease, the inhabitants of this village heard a great noise and extraordinary uproar, and saw a spectre, which appeared sometimes in the shape of a dog, sometimes in the form of a man, not to one person only, but to several, and caused them great pain, grasping their throats, and compressing their stomachs, so as to suffocate them. It bruised almost the whole body, and reduced them to extreme weakness, so that they became pale, lean and attenuated.

The spectre attacked even the animals, and some cows were found debilitated and half dead. Sometimes it tied them together by their tails. These animals gave sufficient evidence by their bellowing of the pain they suffered. The horses seemed overcome with fatigue, all in a perspiration, principally on the back; heated, out of breath, covered with foam, as they are after a long and rough journey. These calamities lasted several months.

The author whom I have mentioned examines the affair in a lawyer-like way, and reasons much on the fact and the law. He asks if, supposing that those disturbances, those noises and vexations proceeded from that person who is suspected of causing them, they can burn her, as is done to other ghosts who do harm to the living. He relates several instances of similar apparitions, and of the evils which ensued; as of a shepherd of the village of Blow, near the town of Kadam, in Bohemia, who appeared during some time, and called certain persons, who never failed to die within eight days after. The peasants of Blow took up the body of this shepherd, and fixed it in the ground with a stake which they drove through it.

This man, when in that condition, derided them for what they made him suffer, and told them they were very good to give him thus a stick to defend himself from the dogs. The same night he got up again, and by his presence alarmed several persons, and strangled more amongst them than he had hitherto done. Afterwards, they delivered him into the hands of the executioner, who put him in a cart to carry him beyond the village and there burn him. This corpse howled like a madman, and moved his feet and hands as if alive. And when they again pierced him through with stakes he uttered very loud cries, and a great quantity of bright vermilion blood flowed from him. At last he was consumed, and this execution put an end to the appearance and hauntings of this spectre.

The same has been practiced in other places, where similar ghosts have been seen; and when they have been taken out of the ground they have appeared red, with their limbs supple and pliable, without worms or decay; but not without a great stink. The author cites divers other writers, who attest what he says of these spectres, which still appear, he says, pretty often in the mountains of Silesia and Moravia. They are seen by night and by day; the things which once belonged to them are seen to move themselves and change their place without being touched by any one. The only remedy for these apparitions is to cut off the heads and burn the bodies of those who come back to haunt people.

At any rate, they do not proceed to this without a form of justicial law. They call for and hear the witnesses; they examine the arguments; they look at the exhumed bodies, to see if they can find any of the usual marks which lead them to conjecture that they are the parties who molest the living, as the mobility and suppleness of the limbs, the fluidity of the blood, and the flesh remaining uncorrupted. If all these marks are found, then these bodies are given up to the executioner, who burns them. It sometimes happens that the spectres appear again for three or four days after the execution. Sometimes the interment of the bodies of suspicious persons is deferred for six or seven weeks. When they do not decay, and their limbs remain as supple and pliable as when they were alive, then they burn them. It is affirmed as certain that the clothes of these persons move without any one living touching them; and within a short time, continues our author, a spectre was seen at Olmutz, which threw stones, and gave great trouble to the inhabitants.



About fifteen years ago, a soldier who was billeted at the house of a Haidamagne peasant, on the frontiers of Hungary, as he was one day sitting at table near his host, the master of the house saw a person he did not know come in and sit down to table also with them. The master of the house was strangely frightened at this, as were the rest of the company. The soldier knew not what to think of it, being ignorant of the matter in question. But the master of the house being dead the very next day, the soldier inquired what it meant. They told him that it was the body of the father of his host, who had been dead and buried for ten years, which had thus come to sit down next to him, and had announced and caused his death.

The soldier informed the regiment of it in the first place, and the regiment gave notice of it to the general officers, who commissioned the Count de Cabreras, captain of the regiment of Alandetti infantry, to make information concerning this circumstance. Having gone to the place, with some other officers, a surgeon and an auditor, they heard the depositions of all the people belonging to the house, who attested unanimously that the ghost was the father of the master of the house, and that all the soldier had said and reported was the exact truth, which was confirmed by all the inhabitants of the village.

In consequence of this, the corpse of this spectre was exhumed, and found to be like that of a man who has just expired, and his blood like that of a living man. The Count de Cabreras had his head cut off, and caused him to be laid again in his tomb. He also took information concerning other similar ghosts, amongst others, of a man dead more than thirty years, who had come back three times to his house at meal time. The first time he had sucked the blood from the neck of his own brother, the second time from one of his sons, and the third from one of the servants in the house; and all three died of it instantly and on the spot. Upon this deposition the commissary had this man taken out of his grave, and finding that, like the first, his blood was in a fluid state, like that of a living person, he ordered them to run a large nail into his temple, and then to lay him again in the grave.

He caused a third to be burnt, who had been buried more than sixteen years, and had sucked the blood and caused the death of two of his sons. The commissary having made his report to the general officers, was deputed to the court of the emperor, who commanded that some officers, both of war and justice, some physicians and surgeons, and some learned men, should be sent to examine the causes of these extraordinary events. The person who related these particulars to us had heard them from Monsieur the Count de Cabreras, at Fribourg en Brigau, in 1730.



This is what we read in the "Lettres Juives," new edition, 1738, Letter 137.

We have just had in this part of Hungary a scene of vampirism, which is duly attested by two officers of the tribunal of Belgrade, who went down to the places specified; and by an officer of the emperor's troops at Graditz, who was an ocular witness of the proceedings.

In the beginning of September there died in the village of Kivsiloa, three leagues from Graditz, an old man who was sixty-two years of age. Three days after he had been buried, he appeared in the night to his son, and asked him for something to eat; the son having given him something, he ate and disappeared. The next day the son recounted to his neighbors what had happened. That night the father did not appear; but the following night he showed himself, and asked for something to eat. They know not whether the son gave him anything or not; but the next day he was found dead in his bed. On the same day, five or six persons fell suddenly ill in the village, and died one after the other in a few days.

The officer or bailiff of the place, when informed of what had happened, sent an account of it to the tribunal of Belgrade, which dispatched to the village two of these officers and an executioner to examine into this affair. The imperial officer from whom we have this account repaired thither from Graditz, to be witness of a circumstance which he had so often heard spoken of.

They opened the graves of those who had been dead six weeks. When they came to that of the old man, they found him with his eyes open, having a fine color, with natural respiration, nevertheless motionless as the dead; whence they concluded that he was most evidently a vampire. The executioner drove a stake into his heart; they then raised a pile and reduced the corpse to ashes. No mark of vampirism was found either on the corpse of the son or on the others.

Thanks be to God, we are by no means credulous. We avow that all the light which physics can throw on this fact discovers none of the causes of it. Nevertheless, we cannot refuse to believe that to be true which is juridically attested, and by persons of probity. We will here give a copy of what happened in 1732, and which we inserted in the Gleaner (Glaneur), No. XVIII.



In a certain canton of Hungary, named in Latin Oppida Heidanum, beyond the Tibisk, vulgo Teiss, that is to say, between that river which waters the fortunate territory of Tokay and Transylvania, the people known by the name of Heyducqs[463] believe that certain dead persons, whom they call vampires, suck all the blood from the living, so that these become visibly attenuated, whilst the corpses, like leeches, fill themselves with blood in such abundance that it is seen to come from them by the conduits, and even oozing through the pores. This opinion has just been confirmed by several facts which cannot be doubted, from the rank of the witnesses who have certified them. We will here relate some of the most remarkable.

About five years ago, a certain Heyducq, inhabitant of Madreiga, named Arnald Paul, was crushed to death by the fall of a wagonload of hay. Thirty days after his death four persons died suddenly, and in the same manner in which according to the tradition of the country, those die who are molested by vampires. They then remembered that this Arnald Paul had often related that in the environs of Cassovia, and on the frontiers of Turkish Servia, he had often been tormented by a Turkish vampire; for they believe also that those who have been passive vampires during life become active ones after their death, that is to say, that those who have been sucked suck also in their turn; but that he had found means to cure himself by eating earth from the grave of the vampire, and smearing himself with his blood; a precaution which, however, did not prevent him from becoming so after his death, since, on being exhumed forty days after his interment, they found on his corpse all the indications of an arch-vampire. His body was red, his hair, nails, and beard had all grown again, and his veins were replete with fluid blood, which flowed from all parts of his body upon the winding-sheet which encompassed him. The hadnagi, or bailli of the village, in whose presence the exhumation took place, and who was skilled in vampirism, had, according to custom, a very sharp stake driven into the heart of the defunct Arnald Paul, and which pierced his body through and through, which made him, as they say, utter a frightful shriek, as if he had been alive: that done, they cut off his head, and burnt the whole body. After that they performed the same on the corpses of the four other persons who died of vampirism, fearing that they in their turn might cause the death of others.

All these performances, however, could not prevent the recommencement of these fatal prodigies towards the end of last year, that is to say, five years after, when several inhabitants of the same village perished miserably. In the space of three months, seventeen persons of different sexes and different ages died of vampirism; some without being ill, and others after languishing two or three days. It is reported, amongst other things, that a girl named Stanoska, daughter of the Heyducq Jotiuetzo, who went to bed in perfect health, awoke in the middle of the night all in a tremble, uttering terrible shrieks, and saying that the son of the Heyducq Millo who had been dead nine weeks, had nearly strangled her in her sleep. She fell into a languid state from that moment, and at the end of three days she died. What this girl had said of Millo's son made him known at once for a vampire: he was exhumed, and found to be such. The principal people of the place, with the doctors and surgeons, examined how vampirism could have sprung up again after the precautions they had taken some years before.

They discovered at last, after much search, that the defunct Arnald Paul had killed not only the four persons of whom we have spoken, but also several oxen, of which the new vampires had eaten, and amongst others the son of Millo. Upon these indications they resolved to disinter all those who had died within a certain time, &c. Amongst forty, seventeen were found with all the most evident signs of vampirism; so they transfixed their hearts and cut off their heads also, and then cast their ashes into the river.

All the informations and executions we have just mentioned were made juridically, in proper form, and attested by several officers who were garrisoned in the country, by the chief surgeons of the regiments, and by the principal inhabitants of the place. The verbal process of it was sent towards the end of last January to the Imperial Counsel of War at Vienna, which had established a military commission to examine into the truth of all these circumstances.

Such was the declaration of the Hadnagi Barriarar and the ancient Heyducqs; and it was signed by Battuer, first lieutenant of the regiment of Alexander of Wurtemburg, Clickstenger, surgeon-in-chief of the regiment of Frustemburch, three other surgeons of the company, and Guoichitz, captain at Stallach.


[463] This story is apparently the same which we related before under the name of Haidamaque, and which happened in 1729 or 1730.



There are two different ways of effacing the opinion concerning these pretended ghosts, and showing the impossibility of the effects which are made to be produced by corpses entirely deprived of sensation. The first is, to explain by physical causes all the prodigies of vampirism; the second is, to deny totally the truth of these stories; and the latter means, without doubt, is the surest and the wisest. But as there are persons to whom the authority of a certificate given by people in a certain place appears a plain demonstration of the reality of the most absurd story, before I show how little they ought to rely on the formalities of the law in matters which relate solely to philosophy, I will for a moment suppose that several persons do really die of the disease which they term vampirism.

I lay down at first this principle, that it may be that there are corpses which, although interred some days, shed fluid blood through the conduits of their body. I add, moreover, that it is very easy for certain people to fancy themselves sucked by vampires, and that the fear caused by that fancy should make a revolution in their frame sufficiently violent to deprive them of life. Being occupied all day with the terror inspired by these pretended ghosts or revenans, is it very extraordinary, that during their sleep the idea of these phantoms should present itself to their imagination and cause them such violent terror? that some of them die of it instantaneously, and others a short time afterwards? How many instances have we not seen of people who expired with fright in a moment? and has not joy itself sometimes produced an equally fatal effect?

I have seen in the Leipsic journals[464] an account of a little work entitled, Philosophicae et Christianae Cogitationes de Vampiriis, a Joanne Christophoro Herenbergio; "Philosophical and Christian Thoughts upon Vampires, by John Christopher Herenberg," at Gerolferliste, in 1733, in 8vo. The author names a pretty large number of writers who have already discussed this matter; he speaks, en passant, of a spectre which appeared to him at noonday. He maintains that the vampires do not cause the death of the living, and that all that is said about them ought to be attributed only to the troubled fancy of the invalids; he proves by divers experiments that the imagination is capable of causing very great derangements in the body, and the humors of the body; he shows that in Sclavonia they impaled murderers, and drove a stake through the heart of the culprit; that they used the same chastisement for vampires, supposing them to be the authors of the death of those whose blood they were said to suck. He gives some examples of this punishment exercised upon them, the one in the year 1337, and the other in 1347. He speaks of the opinion of those who believe that the dead eat in their tombs; a sentiment of which he endeavors to prove the antiquity by the authority of Tertullian, at the beginning of his book on the Resurrection, and by that of St. Augustine, b. viii. c. 27, on the City of God, and in Sermon xv. on the Saints.

Such are nearly the contents of the work of M. Herenberg on vampires. The passage of Tertullian[465] which he cites, proves very well that the pagans offered food to their dead, even to those whose bodies had been burned, believing that their spirits regaled themselves with it: Defunctis parentant, et quidem impensissimo studio, pro moribus eorum pro temporibus esculentorum, ut quos sentire quicquam negant escam desiderare proesumant. This concerns only the pagans.

But St. Augustine, in several places, speaks of the custom of the Christians, above all those of Africa, of carrying to the tombs meats and wine, which they placed upon them as a repast of devotion, and to which the poor were invited, in whose favor these offerings were principally instituted. This practice is founded on the passage of the book of Tobit;—"Place your bread and wine on the sepulchre of the just, and be careful not to eat or drink of it with sinners." St. Monico, the mother of St. Augustine,[466] having desired to do at Milan what she had been accustomed to do in Africa, St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, testified that he did not approve of this practice, which was unknown in his church. The holy woman restrained herself to carrying thither a basket full of fruits and wine, of which she partook very soberly with the women who accompanied her, leaving the rest for the poor. St. Augustine remarks, in the same passage, that some intemperate Christians abused these offerings by drinking wine to excess: Ne ulla occasio se ingurgitandi daretur ebriosis.

St. Augustine,[467] however, by his preaching and remonstrances, did so much good, that he entirely uprooted this custom, which was common throughout the African Church, and the abuse of which was too general. In his books on the City of God,[468] he avows that this usage is neither general nor approved in the Church, and that those who practice it content themselves with offering this food upon the tombs of the martyrs, in order that through their merits these offerings should be sanctified; after which they carry them away, and make use of them for their own nourishment and that of the poor: Quicumque suas epulas eo deferant, quad quidem a melioribus Christianis non fit, et in plerisque terrarum nulla talis est consuetudo; tamen quicumque id faciunt, quas cum appossuerint, orant, et auferunt, ut vescantur vel ex eis etiam indigentibus largiantur. It appears, from two sermons which have been attributed to St. Augustine,[469] that in former times this custom had crept in at Rome, but did not subsist there any time, and was blamed and condemned.

Now, if it were true that the dead could eat in their tombs, and that they had a wish or occasion to eat, as is believed by those of whom Tertullian speaks, and as it appears may be inferred from the custom of carrying fruit and wine to be placed on the graves of martyrs and other Christians, I think even that I have good proof that in certain places they placed near the bodies of the dead, whether buried in the cemeteries or the churches, meat, wine, and other liquors. I have in our study several vases of clay and glass, and even plates, where may be seen small bones of pig and fowls, all found deep underground in the church of the Abbey of St. Mansuy, near the town of Toul.

It has been remarked to me that these vestiges found in the ground were plunged in virgin earth which had never been disturbed, and near certain vases or urns filled with ashes, and containing some small bones which the flames could not consume; and as it is known that the Christians did not burn their dead, and that these vases we are speaking of are placed beneath the disturbed earth, in which the graves of Christians are found, it has been inferred, with much semblance of probability, that these vases with the food and beverage buried near them, were intended not for Christians but for heathens. The latter, then, at least, believed that the dead ate in the other life. There is no doubt that the ancient Gauls[470] were persuaded of this; they are often represented on their tombs with bottles in their hands, and baskets and other comestibles, or drinking vessels and goblets;[471] they carried with them even the contracts and bonds for what was due to them, to have it paid to them in Hades. Negotiorum ratio, etiam exactio crediti deferebatur ad inferos.

Now, if they believed that the dead ate in their tombs, that they could return to earth, visit, console, instruct, or disturb the living, and predict to them their approaching death, the return of vampires is neither impossible nor incredible in the opinion of these ancients.

But as all that is said of dead men who eat in their graves and out of their graves is chimerical and beyond all likelihood, and the thing is even impossible and incredible, whatever may be the number and quality of those who have believed it, or appeared to believe it, I shall always say that the return (to earth) of the vampires is unmaintainable and impracticable.


[464] Supplem. ad visu Erudit. Lips. an. 1738, tom. ii.

[465] Tertull. de Resurrect. initio.

[466] Aug. Confess. lib. vi. c. 2.

[467] Aug. Epist. 22, ad Aurel. Carthag. et Epist. 29, ad Alipi. Item de Moribus Eccl. c. 34.

[468] Aug. lib. viii. de Civit. Dei, c. 27.

[469] Aug. Serm. 35, de Sanctis, nunc in Appendice, c. 5. Serm. cxc. cxci. p. 328.

[470] Antiquite expliquee, tom. iv. p. 80.

[471] Mela. lib. ii. c. 4.



On examining the narrative of the death of the pretended martyrs of vampirism, I discover the symptoms of an epidemical fanaticism; and I see clearly that the impression made upon them by fear is the true cause of their being lost. A girl named Stanoska, say they, daughter of the Heyducq Sovitzo, who went to bed in perfect health, awoke in the middle of the night all in a tremble, and shrieking dreadfully, saying that the son of the Heyducq Millo, who had been dead for nine weeks, had nearly strangled her in her sleep. From that moment she fell into a languishing state, and at the end of three days died.

For any one who has eyes, however little philosophical they may be, must not this recital alone clearly show him that this pretended vampirism is merely the result of a stricken imagination? There is a girl who awakes and says that some one wanted to strangle her, and who nevertheless has not been sucked, since her cries have prevented the vampire from making his repast. She apparently was not so served afterwards either, since, doubtlessly, they did not leave her by herself during the other nights; and if the vampire had wished to molest her, her moans would have warned those of it who were present. Nevertheless, she dies three days afterwards. Her fright and lowness, her sadness and languor, evidently show how strongly her imagination had been affected.

Those persons who find themselves in cities afflicted with the plague, know by experience how many people lose their lives through fear. As soon as a man finds himself attacked with the least illness, he fancies that he is seized with the epidemical disease, which idea occasions him so great a sensation, that it is almost impossible for the system to resist such a revolution. The Chevalier de Maifin assured me, when I was at Paris, that being at Marseilles during the contagion which prevailed in that city, he had seen a woman die of the fear she felt at a slight illness of her servant, whom she believed attacked with the pestilence. This woman's daughter was sick and near dying.

Other persons who were in the same house went to bed, sent for a doctor, and assured him they had the plague. The doctor, on arriving, visited the servant, and the other patients, and none of them had the epidemical disorder. He tried to calm their minds, and ordered them to rise, and live in their usual way; but his care was useless as regarded the mistress of the family, who died in two days of the fright alone.

Reflect upon the second narrative of the death of a passive vampire, and you will see most evident proofs of the terrible effects of fear and prejudice. (See the preceding chapter.) This man, three days after he was buried, appears in the night to his son, asks for something to eat, eats, and disappears. On the morrow, the son relates to his neighbors what had happened to him. That night the father does not appear; but the following night they find the son dead in his bed. Who cannot perceive in these words the surest marks of prepossession and fear? The first time these act upon the imagination of the pretended victim of vampirism they do not produce their entire effect, and not only dispose his mind to be more vividly struck by them; that also does not fail to happen, and to produce the effect which would naturally follow.

Notice well that the dead man did not return on the night of the day that his son communicated his dream to his friends, because, according to all appearances, these sat up with him, and prevented him from yielding to his fear.

I now come to those corpses full of fluid blood, and whose beard, hair and nails had grown again. One may dispute three parts of these prodigies, and be very complaisant if we admit the truth of a few of them. All philosophers know well enough how much the people, and even certain historians, enlarge upon things which appear but a little extraordinary. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to explain their cause physically.

Experience teaches us that there are certain kinds of earth which will preserve dead bodies perfectly fresh. The reasons of this have been often explained, without my giving myself the trouble to make a particular recital of them. There is at Thoulouse a vault in a church belonging to some monks, where the bodies remain so entirely perfect that there are some which have been there nearly two centuries, and appear still living.

They have been ranged in an upright posture against the wall, and are clothed in the dress they usually wore. What is very remarkable is, that the bodies which are placed on the other side of this same vault become in two or three days the food of worms.

As to the growth of the nails, the hair and the beard, it is often perceived in many corpses. While there yet remains a great deal of moisture in the body, it is not surprising that during some time we see some augmentation in those parts which do not demand a vital spirit.

The fluid blood flowing through the canals of the body seems to form a greater difficulty; but physical reasons may be given for this. It might very well happen that the heat of the sun warming the nitrous and sulphureous particles which are found in those earths that are proper for preserving the body, those particles having incorporated themselves in the newly interred corpses, ferment, decoagulate, and melt the curdled blood, render it liquid, and give it the power of flowing by degrees through all the channels.

This opinion appears so much the more probable from its being confirmed by an experiment. If you boil in a glass or earthen vessel one part of chyle, or milk, mixed with two parts of cream of tartar, the liquor will turn from white to red, because the tartaric salt will have rarified and entirely dissolved the most oily part of the milk, and converted it into a kind of blood. That which is formed in the vessels of the body is a little redder, but it is not thicker; it is, then, not impossible that the heat may cause a fermentation which produces nearly the same effects as this experiment. And this will be found easier, if we consider that the juices of the flesh and bones resemble chyle very much, and that the fat and marrow are the most oily parts of the chyle. Now all these particles in fermenting must, by the rule of the experiment, be changed into a kind of blood. Thus, besides that which has been discoagulated and melted, the pretended vampires shed also that blood which must be formed from the melting of the fat and marrow.



The public memorials of the years 1693 and 1694 speak of oupires, vampires or ghosts, which are seen in Poland, and above all in Russia. They make their appearance from noon to midnight, and come and suck the blood of living men or animals in such abundance that sometimes it flows from them at the nose, and principally at the ears, and sometimes the corpse swims in its own blood oozed out in its coffin.[472] It is said that the vampire has a sort of hunger, which makes him eat the linen which envelops him. This reviving being, or oupire, comes out of his grave, or a demon in his likeness, goes by night to embrace and hug violently his near relations or his friends, and sucks their blood so much as to weaken and attenuate them, and at last cause their death. This persecution does not stop at one single person; it extends to the last person of the family, if the course be not interrupted by cutting off the head or opening the heart of the ghost, whose corpse is found in his coffin, yielding, flexible, swollen, and rubicund, although he may have been dead some time. There proceeds from his body a great quantity of blood, which some mix up with flour to make bread of; and that bread eaten in ordinary protects them from being tormented by the spirit, which returns no more.

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