‘Political Vampires’ from The London Magazine – 1732

This short passage is an early piece detailing some of the information about the famed Arnold Paole case. It is perhaps just as interesting for the insight it gives us into exactly how long vampyres have been read or used as political metaphors. We can also the beginnings of the link between the vampiric figure and anti-Semitism here.

How did 18th-century vampire hunters identify the undead? Blood and  fingernails. | National Geographic
Digging up a vampire grave

As with all my transcribed texts, original spelling, grammar and punctuation has been retained.

‘Mr. D’Anvers tells of a Conversation he had about a certain Prodigy, mention’d in the News Papers of March last, viz. that in the Village of Medreyga in Hungary, certain dead Bodies (call’d there Vampyres) had kill’d several Persons by sucking out all their Blood: That Arnold Paul, an Heyduke, having kill’d four Persons after he was dead, his Body was taken up 40 Days after, which bled at the Nose, Mouth and Ears: That, according to Custom, they drove a Stake thro’ his Heart, at which he gave a horrid Groan, and lost a great deal of Blood. And that all such as have been tormented or kill’d by Vampyres, become Vampyres when they are dead.

The Dispute was chiefly between a Doctor of Physick and a young Lady, the former ridiculing the Account, and the other believing it to be true. At last Mr. D’Anvers deliver’d his Opinion as follows.

The Eastern Parts (from whence this Account comes) are much us’d to the allegorical Style; and besides the States of Hungary are govern’d by the Turks and Germans with a pretty hard Rein; which makes them couch all their Complaints under Types and Parables.

These Vampyres are said to suck the Blood of the Living; and what is a more common Phrase for a ravenous Minister, even in this Part of the World, than a Leech, or a Blood-sucker? And a plundering Minister carries his Oppressions beyond the Grave, and continues to torment those he leaves behind him, by anticipating the publick Revenues, and entailing a Perpetuity of Taxes and Gabels upon the People. Those also who groan under the Burthen of such a Minister, are often forc’d to sell or mortgage their Estates; and so may be properly laid to torment their Posterity in the same Manner.

Several other Instances of Similitude are given between the Story of the Vampyres and the political Vampyres; whence he gathers that the whole Story is nothing but a Fable or Fiction, made use of to convey a satyrical Invective against some living Oppressors in Hungary.

And we have had many such, says he, among us. In former Times, the Gavestons, Spencers, and De la Pules, Empson and Dudley. Wolsey, Buckingham, and an hundred more, were Vampyres of the first Magnitude.

Private persons may also be Vampyres in some Degree. I look upon all Sharpers, Usurers and Stock-jobbers in this Light, as well as fraudulent Guardians, unjust Stewards, and the dry Nurses of great Estates. And I doubt not that a noble Colonel, lately deceas’d, has already convinced several families that he is a Vampyre.

Many of the late South-Sea Directors were Tormentors of this Sort; and I wish the present Managers of that Company many not furnish us with some Instances of the same Nature. The Charitable Corporation has also produc’d a plentiful Crop of these Blood-suckers. But nothing but the Power of a T_______y can raise up a compleat Vampyre.

Mezeray tells us of a Treasurer in France (Girard de Possi) who being troubled in Conscience for having robb’d his Master of a great Sum, refunded it into the Exchequer of his own Accord; but he addsm that he believes this Example will always remain singular. I leave it therefore to be considered, whether instead or driving a Stake thro’ the Body of a corrupt Treasurer when he is dead, it would not be a better Way to administer a certain Parliamentary Emetick, which will make him disgorge all his ill-gotten Wealth, whilst he is alive.’

Published by SamHirst

This started off as a story blog to share the little fictions that I like to write but it's turned into something a bit more Goth! I'm Dr Sam Hirst and I research the Gothic, theology and romance and at the moment I'm doing free Gothic classes online! We also have readalongs, watchalongs and reading groups. And I post fun little Gothic bits when I have the chance. Find me on twitter @RomGothSam

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