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48 SATAW AS MOOM. DE VOURER.
especially love milk: the Lambton Worm required nine cows' milk daily; and Jerome mentions a diabolical baby which exhausted six nurses. The Devil nominally inherits, among the peasantry of Christendom, the attributes of the demons which preceded him ; but it must be understood that in every case where mere voracity is ascribed to the Devil, a primitive demon is meant, and of this fact the superstitious peasant is dimly conscious. In Franconia, when a baker is about to put dough biscuits into an oven to be baked, he will first throw half-a-dozen of them into the fire, saying, “There, poor devil! those are for you.' If pressed for an explanation, he will admit his fear that but for this offering his biscuits are in danger of coming out burnt; but that the ‘poor devil’ is not bad-hearted, only driven by his hunger to make mischief. The being he fears is, therefore, clearly not the Devil at all—whose distinction is a love of wickedness for its own sake—but the half-starved gobbling ghosts of whom, in christian countries, ‘Devil’ has become the generic name. Of their sacrifices, Grace before meat is a remnant. In Moslem countries, however, “Sheitan’ combines the demonic and the malignant voracities. During the late lunar eclipse, the inhabitants of Pera and Constantinople fired guns over their houses to drive “Sheitan’ (Satan) away from the moon, for, whoever the foe, the Turk trusts in gunpowder. But superstitions representing Satan as a devourer are becoming rare. In the church of Nôtre Dame at Hal, Belgium, the lectern shows a dragon attempting to swallow the Bible, which is supported on the back of an eagle. There is another and much more formidable form in which the Hunger-demon appears in Demonology. The fondness for blood, so characteristic of supreme gods, was distributed as a special thirst through a large class of
FOOD FOR THE DEAD. 49
demons. In the legend of Ishtar descending to Hades' to seek some beloved one, she threatens if the door be not opened— I will raise the dead to be devourers of the living ! Upon the living shall the dead prey !
This menace shows that the Chaldaean and Babylonian belief in the vampyre, called Akhkharu in Assyrian, was fully developed at a very early date. Although the Hunger- demon was very fully developed in India, it does not appear to have been at any time so cannibalistic, possibly because the natives were not great flesh-eaters, In some cases, indeed, we meet with the vampyre superstition; as in the story of Vikram and the Vampyre, and in the Tamil drama of Harichándra, where the frenzied Sandramáti says to the king, “I belong to the race of elves, and I have killed thy child in order that I might feed on its delicate flesh.” Such expressions are rare enough to warrant suspicion of their being importations. The Vetala's appetite is chiefly for corpses. The poor hungry demons of India—such as the Bhut, a dismal, ravenous ghost, dreaded at the moon-wane of the month Katik (Oct.–Nov.)—was not supposed to devour man, but only man's food. The Hindu demons of this class may be explained by reference to the srāddha, or oblation to ancestors, concerning which we read directions in the Manu Code. ‘The ancestors of men are satisfied a whole month with tila, rice, &c.; two months with fish, &c. The Manes say, Oh, may that man be born in our line who may give us milky food, with honey and pure butter, both on the thirteenth of the moon and when the shadow of an elephant falls to the east !' The bloodthirsty demons of India have pretty generally been caught up like Kali into a higher symbolism, and their
* Tablet K 162 in the British Museum. See ‘Records of the Past," i. 141. VOL. I. D
voracity systematised and satisfied in sacrificial commutations. The popular belief in the southern part of that country is indicated by Professor Monier Williams, in a letter written from Southern India, wherein he remarks that the devils alone require propitiation. It is generally a simple procedure, performed by offerings of food or other articles supposed to be acceptable to disembodied beings. For example, when a certain European, once a terror to the district in which he lived, died in the South of India, the natives were in the constant habit of depositing brandy and cigars on his tomb to propitiate his spirit, supposed to roam about the neighbourhood in a restless manner, and with evil proclivities. The very same was done to secure the good offices of the philanthropic spirit of a great European sportsman, who, when he was alive, delivered his district from the ravages of tigers. Indeed all evil spirits are thought to be opposed by good ones, who, if duly propitiated, make it their business to guard the inhabitants of particular places from demonic intruders. Each district, and even every village, has its guardian genius, often called its Mother." Such ideas as these are represented in Europe in some varieties of the Kobold and the Goblin (Gk. kó8a)\os). Though the goblin must, according to folk-philosophy, be fed with nice food, it is not a deadly being; on the contrary, it is said the Gobelin tapestry derives its name because the secret of its colours was gained from these ghosts. Though St. Taurin expelled one from Evreux, he found it so polite that he would not send it to hell, and it still haunts the credulous there and at Caen, without being thought very formidable. The demon that “ lurks in graveyards’ is universal, and may have suggested cremation. In the East it is
* London ‘Times,” July 11, 1877.
represented mainly by such forms as the repulsive ghoul, which preys on dead bodies; but it has been developed in some strange way to the Slavonic phantom called Vampyre, whose peculiar fearfulness is that it represents the form in which any deceased person may reappear, not ghoul-like to batten on the dead, but to suck the blood of the living. This is perhaps the most formidable survival of demonic superstition now existing in the world. A people who still have in their dictionary such a word as “miscreant’ (misbeliever) can hardly wonder that the priests of the Eastern Church fostered the popular belief that heretics at death changed into drinkers of the blood of the living. The Slavonic vampyres have declined in England and America to be the “Ogres, who “smell the blood of an Englishman,’ but are rarely supposed to enjoy it; but it exposes the real ugliness of the pious superstitions sometimes deemed pretty, that, in proportion to the intensity of belief in supernaturalism, the people live in terror of the demons that go about seeking whom they may devour. In Russia the watcher beside a corpse is armed with holy charms against attack from it at midnight. A vampyre may be the soul of any outcast from the Church, or one over whose corpse, before burial, a cat has leaped or a bird flown. It may be discovered in a graveyard by leading a black colt through ; the animal will refuse to tread on the vampyre's grave, and the body is taken out and a stake driven through it, always by a single blow. A related class of demons are the “heart-devourers.’ They touch their victim with an aspen or other magical twig; the heart falls out, and is, perhaps, replaced by some baser one. Mr. Ralston mentions a Mazovian story in which a hero awakes with the heart of a hare, and remains a coward ever after; 1 and in another case a quiet peasant
received a cock's heart and was always crowing. The Werewolf, in some respects closely related to the vampyre, also pursues his ravages among the priest-ridden peasantry of the South and East. In Germany, though the more horrible forms of the superstition are rare, the ‘Nachzehrer' is much dreaded. Even in various Protestant regions it is thought safest that a cross should be set beside every grave to impede any demonic propensities that may take possession of the person interred; and where food is not still buried with the corpse to assuage any pangs of hunger that may arise, a few grains of corn or rice are scattered upon it in reminiscence of the old custom. In Diesdorf it is believed that if money is not placed in the dead person's mouth at burial, or his name not cut from his shirt, he is likely to become a Nachzehrer, and that the ghost will come forth in the form of a pig. It is considered a sure preventative of such a result to break the neck of the dead body. On one occasion, it is there related, several persons of one family having died, the suspected corpse was exhumed, and found to have eaten up its own grave-clothes. Dr. Dyer, an eminent physician of Chicago, Illinois, told me (1875) that a case occurred in that city within his personal knowledge, where the body of a woman who had died of consumption was taken out of the grave and the lungs burned, under a belief that she was drawing after her into the grave some of her surviving relatives. In 1874, according to the Providence journal, in the village of Peacedale, Rhode Island, U.S., Mr. William Rose dug up the body of his own daughter, and burned her heart, under the belief that she was wasting away the lives of other members of his family. The characteristics of modern “Spiritualism’ appear to indicate that the superstitious have outgrown this ancient