The Book of Were-Wolves
Sabine Baring-Gould

Part 2 out of 4

"I do not know how my head was at the time; I used my teeth; my head
was as it is to-day. I have wounded and eaten many other little
children; I have also been to the sabbath."

The _lieutenant criminel_ sentenced Roulet to death. He, however,
appealed to the Parliament at Paris; and this decided that as there
was more folly in the poor idiot than malice and witchcraft, his
sentence of death should be commuted to two years' imprisonment in a
madhouse, that he might be instructed in the knowledge of God, whom he
had forgotten in his utter poverty. [1]

[1. "La cour du Parliament, par arrt, mist l'appellation et la
sentence dont il avoit est appel au nant, et, nanmoins, ordonna que
le dit Roulet serait mis l'hospital Saint Germain des Prs, o on a
accoustum de mettre les folz, pour y demeurer l'espace de deux ans,
afin d'y estre instruit et redress tant de son esprit, que ramen
la cognoissance de Dieu, que l'extrme pauvret lui avoit fait



On the Sand-dunes--A Wolf attacks Marguerite Poirier--Jean Grenier
brought to Trial--His Confessions--Charges of Cannibalism proved--His
Sentence--Behaviour in the Monastery--Visit of Del'ancre.

One fine afternoon in the spring, some village girls were tending
their sheep on the sand-dunes which intervene between the vast forests
of pine covering the greater portion of the present department of
_Landes_ in the south of France, and the sea.

The brightness of the sky, the freshness of the air puffing up off the
blue twinkling Bay of Biscay, the hum or song of the wind as it made
rich music among the pines which stood like a green uplifted wave on
the East, the beauty of the sand-hills speckled with golden cistus, or
patched with gentian-blue, by the low growing _Gremille couche_, the
charm of the forest-skirts, tinted variously with the foliage of
cork-trees, pines, and acacia, the latter in full bloom, a pile of
rose-coloured or snowy flowers,--all conspired to fill the peasant
maidens with joy, and to make their voices rise in song and laughter,
which rung merrily over the hills, and through the dark avenues of
evergreen trees.

Now a gorgeous butterfly attracted their attention, then a flight of
quails skimming the surface.

"Ah!" exclaimed Jacquiline Auzun," ah, if I had my stilts and bats, I
would strike the little birds down, and we should have a fine supper."

"Now, if they would fly ready cooked into one's mouth, as they do in
foreign parts!" said another girl.

"Have you got any new clothes for the S. Jean?" asked a third; "my
mother has laid by to purchase me a smart cap with gold lace."

"You will turn the head of Etienne altogether, Annette!" said Jeanne
Gaboriant. "But what is the matter with the sheep?"

She asked because the sheep which had been quietly browsing before
her, on reaching a small depression in the dune, had started away as
though frightened at something. At the same time one of the dogs began
to growl and show his fangs.

The girls ran to the spot, and saw a little fall in the ground, in
which, seated on a log of fir, was a boy of thirteen. The appearance
of the lad was peculiar. His hair was of a tawny red and thickly
matted, falling over his shoulders and completely covering his narrow
brow. His small pale-grey eyes twinkled with an expression of horrible
ferocity and cunning, from deep sunken hollows. The complexion was of
a dark olive colour; the teeth were strong and white, and the canine
teeth protruded over the lower lip when the mouth was closed. The
boy's hands were large and powerful, the nails black and pointed like
bird's talons. He was ill clothed, and seemed to be in the most abject
poverty. The few garments he had on him were in tatters, and through
the rents the emaciation of his limbs was plainly visible.

The girls stood round him, half frightened and much surprised, but the
boy showed no symptoms of astonishment. His face relaxed into a
ghastly leer, which showed the whole range of his glittering white

"Well, my maidens," said he in a harsh voice, "which of you is the
prettiest, I should like to know; can you decide among you?"

"What do you want to know for?" asked Jeanne Gaboriant, the eldest of
the girls, aged eighteen, who took upon herself to be spokesman for
the rest.

"Because I shall marry the prettiest," was the answer.

"Ah!" said Jeanne jokingly; "that is if she will have you, which is
not very likely, as we none of us know you, or anything about you."

"I am the son of a priest," replied the boy curtly.

"Is that why you look so dingy and black?"

"No, I am dark-coloured, because I wear a wolf-skin sometimes."

"A wolf-skin!" echoed the girl; "and pray who gave it you?"

"One called Pierre Labourant."

"There is no man of that name hereabouts. Where does he live?"

A scream of laughter mingled with howls, and breaking into strange
gulping bursts of fiendlike merriment from the strange boy.

The little girls recoiled, and the youngest took refuge behind Jeanne.

"Do you want to know Pierre Labourant, lass? Hey, he is a man with an
iron chain about his neck, which he is ever engaged in gnawing. Do you
want to know where he lives, lass? Ha., in a place of gloom and fire,
where there are many companions, some seated on iron chairs, burning,
burning; others stretched on glowing beds, burning too. Some cast men
upon blazing coals, others roast men before fierce flames, others
again plunge them into caldrons of liquid fire."

The girls trembled and looked at each other with scared faces, and
then again at the hideous being which crouched before them.

"You want to know about the wolf-skin cape?" continued he. "Pierre
Labourant gave me that; he wraps it round me, and every Monday,
Friday, and Sunday, and for about an hour at dusk every other day, I
am a wolf, a were-wolf. I have killed dogs and drunk their blood; but
little girls taste better, their flesh is tender and sweet, their
blood rich and warm. I have eaten many a maiden, as I have been on my
raids together with my nine companions. I am a were-wolf! Ah, ha! if
the sun were to set I would soon fall on one of you and make a meal of
you!" Again he burst into one of his frightful paroxysms of laughter,
and the girls unable to endure it any longer, fled with precipitation.

Near the village of S. Antoine de Pizon, a little girl of the name of
Marguerite Poirier, thirteen years old, was in the habit of tending
her sheep, in company with a lad of the same age, whose name was Jean
Grenier. The same lad whom Jeanne Gaboriant had questioned.

The little girl often complained to her parents of the conduct of the
boy: she said that he frightened her with his horrible stories; but
her father and mother thought little of her complaints, till one day
she returned home before her usual time so thoroughly alarmed that she
had deserted her flock. Her parents now took the matter up and
investigated it. Her story was as follows:--

Jean had often told her that he had sold himself to the devil, and
that he had acquired the power of ranging the country after dusk, and
sometimes in broad day, in the form of a wolf. He had assured her that
he had killed and devoured many dogs, but that he found their flesh
less palatable than the flesh of little girls, which he regarded as a
supreme delicacy. He had told her that this had been tasted by him not
unfrequently, but he had specified only two instances: in one he had
eaten as much as he could, and had thrown the rest to a wolf, which
had come up during the repast. In the other instance he had bitten to
death another little girl, had lapped her blood, and, being in a
famished condition at the time, had devoured every portion of her,
with the exception of the arms and shoulders.

The child told her parents, on the occasion of her return home in a
fit of terror, that she had been guiding her sheep as usual, but
Grenier had not been present. Hearing a rustle in the bushes she had
looked round, and a wild beast bad leaped upon her, and torn her
clothes on her left side with its sharp fangs. She added that she had
defended herself lustily with her shepherd's staff, and had beaten the
creature off. It had then retreated a few paces, had seated itself on
its hind legs like a dog when it is begging, and had regarded her with
such a look of rage, that she had fled in terror. She described the
animal as resembling a wolf, but as being shorter and stouter; its
hair was red, its tail stumpy, and the head smaller than that of a
genuine wolf.

The statement of the child produced general consternation in the
parish. It was well known that several little girls had vanished in a
most mysterious way of late, and the parents of these little ones were
thrown into an agony of terror lest their children had become the prey
of the wretched boy accused by Marguerite Poirier. The case was now
taken up by the authorities and brought before the parliament of

The investigation which followed was as complete as could be desired.

Jean Grenier was the son of a poor labourer in the village of S.
Antoine do Pizon, and not the son of a priest, as he had asserted.
Three months before his seizure he had left home, and had been with
several masters doing odd work, or wandering about the country
begging. He had been engaged several times to take charge of the
flocks belonging to farmers, and had as often been discharged for
neglect of his duties. The lad exhibited no reluctance to communicate
all he knew about himself, and his statements were tested one by one,
and were often proved to be correct.

The story he related of himself before the court was as follows:--

"When I was ten or eleven years old, my neighbour, Duthillaire,
introduced me, in the depths of the forest, to a M. de la Forest, a
black man, who signed me with his nail, and then gave to me and
Duthillaire a salve and a wolf-skin. From that time have I run about
the country as a wolf.

"The charge of Marguerite Poirier is correct. My intention was to have
killed and devoured her, but she kept me off with a stick. I have only
killed one dog, a white one, and I did not drink its blood."

When questioned touching the children, whom he said he had killed and
eaten as a wolf, he allowed that he had once entered an empty house on
the way between S. Coutras and S. Anlaye, in a small village, the name
of which he did not remember, and had found a child asleep in its
cradle; and as no one was within to hinder him, he dragged the baby
out of its cradle, carried it into the garden, leaped the hedge, and
devoured as much of it as satisfied his hunger. What remained he had
given to a wolf. In the parish of S. Antoine do Pizon he had attacked
a little girl, as she was keeping sheep. She was dressed in a black
frock; he did not know her name. He tore her with his nails and teeth,
and ate her. Six weeks before his capture he had fallen upon another
child, near the stone-bridge, in the same parish. In Eparon he had
assaulted the hound of a certain M. Millon, and would have killed the
beast, had not the owner come out with his rapier in his hand.

Jean said that he had the wolf-skin in his possession, and that he
went out hunting for children, at the command of his master, the Lord
of the Forest. Before transformation he smeared himself with the
salve, which be preserved in a small pot, and hid his clothes in the

He usually ran his courses from one to two hours in the day, when the
moon was at the wane, but very often he made his expeditions at night.
On one occasion he had accompanied Duthillaire, but they had killed no

He accused his father of having assisted him, and of possessing a
wolf-skin; he charged him also with having accompanied him on one
occasion, when he attacked and ate a girl in the village of Grilland,
whom he had found tending a flock of geese. He said that his
stepmother was separated from his father. He believed the reason to
be, because she had seen him once vomit the paws of a dog and the
fingers of a child. He added that the Lord of the Forest had strictly
forbidden him to bite the thumb-nail of his left hand, which nail was
thicker and longer than the others, and had warned him never to lose
sight of it, as long as he was in his were-wolf disguise.

Duthillaire was apprehended, and the father of Jean Grenier himself
claimed to be heard by examination.

The account given by the father and stepmother of Jean coincided in
many particulars with the statements made by their son.

The localities where Grenier declared he had fallen on children were
identified, the times when he said the deeds had been done accorded
with the dates given by the parents of the missing little ones, when
their losses had occurred.

The wounds which Jean affirmed that he had made, and the manner in
which he had dealt them, coincided with the descriptions given by the
children he had assaulted.

He was confronted with Marguerite Poirier, and he singled her out from
among five other girls, pointed to the still open gashes in her body,
and stated that he had made them with his teeth, when he attacked her
in wolf-form, and she had beaten him off with a stick. He described an
attack he had made on a little boy whom he would have slain, had not a
man come to the rescue, and exclaimed, "I'll have you presently."

The man who saved the child was found, and proved to be the uncle of
the rescued lad, and he corroborated the statement of Grenier, that he
had used the words mentioned above.

Jean was then confronted with his father. He now began to falter in
his story, and to change his statements. The examination had lasted
long, and it was seen that the feeble intellect of the boy was wearied
out, so the case was adjourned. When next confronted with the elder
Grenier, Jean told his story as at first, without changing it in any
important particular.

The fact of Jean Grenier having killed and eaten several children, and
of his having attacked and wounded others, with intent to take their
life, were fully established; but there was no proof whatever of the
father having had the least hand in any of the murders, so that he was
dismissed the court without a shadow of guilt upon him.

The only witness who corroborated the assertion of Jean that he
changed his shape into that of a wolf was Marguerite Poirier.

Before the court gave judgment, the first president of assize, in an
eloquent speech, put on one side all questions of witchcraft and
diabolical compact, and bestial transformation, and boldly stated that
the court had only to consider the age and the imbecility of the
child, who was so dull and idiotic--that children of seven or eight
years old have usually a larger amount of reason than he. The
president went on to say that Lycanthropy and Kuanthropy were mere
hallucinations, and that the change of shape existed only in the
disorganized brain of the insane, consequently it was not a crime
which could be punished. The tender age of the boy must be taken into
consideration, and the utter neglect of his education and moral
development. The court sentenced Grenier to perpetual imprisonment
within the walls of a monastery at Bordeaux, where he might be
instructed in his Christian and moral obligations; but any attempt to
escape would be punished with death.

A pleasant companion for the monks! a promising pupil for them to
instruct! No sooner was he admitted into the precincts of the
religious house, than he ran frantically about the cloister and
gardens upon all fours, and finding a heap of bloody and raw offal,
fell upon it and devoured it in an incredibly short space of time.

Delancre visited him seven years after, and found him diminutive in
stature, very shy, and unwilling to look any one in the face. His eyes
were deep set and restless; his teeth long and protruding; his nails
black, and in places worn away; his mind was completely barren; he
seemed unable to comprehend the smallest things. He related his story
to Delancre, and told him how he had run about formerly in the woods
as a wolf, and he said that he still felt a craving for raw flesh,
especially for that of little girls, which he said was delicious, and
he added that but for his confinement it would not be long before he
tasted it again. He said that the Lord of the Forest had visited him
twice in the prison, but that he had driven him off with the sign of
the cross. The account be then gave of his murders coincided exactly
with what had come out in his trial; and beside this, his story of the
compact he had made with the Black One, and the manner in which his
transformation was effected, also coincided with his former

He died at the age of twenty, after an imprisonment of seven years,
shortly after Delancre's visit. [1]

[1. DELANCRE: _Tableau de l'Iinconstance_, p 305.]

In the two cases of Roulet and Grenier the courts referred the whole
matter of Lycanthropy, or animal transformation, to its true and
legitimate cause, an aberration of the brain. From this time medical
men seem to have regarded it as a form of mental malady to be brought
under their treatment, rather than as a crime to be punished by law.
But it is very fearful to contemplate that there may still exist
persons in the world filled with a morbid craving for human blood,
which is ready to impel them to commit the most horrible atrocities,
should they escape the vigilante of their guards, or break the bars of
the madhouse which restrains them.



Barrenness of English Folk-lore--Devonshire Traditions--Derivation of
Were-wolf--Cannibalism in Scotland--The Angus Robber--The Carle of
Perth--French Superstitions--Norwegian Traditions--Danish Tales of
Were-wolves--Holstein Stories--The Werewolf in the Netherlands--Among
the Greeks; the Serbs; the White Russians; the Poles; the Russians--A
Russian Receipt for becoming a Were-wolf--The Bohemian
Vlkodlak--Armenian Story--Indian Tales--Abyssinian Budas--American
Transformation Tales--A Slovakian Household Tale--Similar Greek,
Barnais, and Icelandic Tales.

ENGLISH folk-lore is singularly barren of were-wolf stories, the
reason being that wolves had been extirpated from England under the
Anglo-Saxon kings, and therefore ceased to be objects of dread to the
people. The traditional belief in were-wolfism must, however, have
remained long in the popular mind, though at present it has
disappeared, for the word occurs in old ballads and romances. Thus in

O was it war-wolf in the wood?
Or was it mermaid in the sea?
Or was it man, or vile woman,
My ain true love, that mis-shaped thee?

There is also the romance of _William and the Were-wolf_ in Hartshorn;
[1] but this professes to be a translation from the French:--

[1. HARTSHORN: _Ancient Metrical Tales_, p. 256. See also "The Witch
Cake," in CRUMEK'S _Remains of Nithsdale Song_.]

For he of Frenche this fayre tale ferst dede translate,
In ese of Englysch men in Englysch speche.

In the popular mind the cat or the hare have taken the place of the
wolf for witches' transformation, and we hear often of the hags
attending the devil's Sabbath in these forms.

In Devonshire they range the moors in the shape of black dogs, and I
know a story of two such creatures appearing in an inn and nightly
drinking the cider, till the publican shot a silver button over their
heads, when they were instantly transformed into two ill-favoured old
ladies of his acquaintance. On Heathfield, near Tavistock, the wild
huntsman rides by full moon with his "wush hounds;" and a white hare
which they pursued was once rescued by a goody returning from market,
and discovered to be a transformed young lady.

Gervaise of Tilbury says in his _Otia Imperalia_--

"Vidimus frequenter in Anglia, per lunationes, homines in lupos
mutari, quod hominum genus _gerulfos_ Galli vocant, Angli vero
_wer-wlf,_ dicunt: _wer_ enim Anglice virum sonat, _wlf_, lupum."
Gervaise may be right in his derivation of the name, and were-wolf may
mean man-wolf, though I have elsewhere given a different derivation,
and one which I suspect is truer. But Gervaise has grounds for his
assertion that _wr_ signifies man; it is so in Anglo-Saxon, _vair_ in
Gothic, _vir_ in Latin, _verr_, in Icelandic, _vra_, Zend, _wirs_,
old Prussian, _wirs_, Lettish, _vra_, Sanskrit, _br_, Bengalee.

There have been cases of cannibalism in Scotland, but no bestial
transformation is hinted at in connection with them.

Thus Bthius, in his history of Scotland, tells us of a robber and his
daughter who devoured children, and Lindsay of Pitscottie gives a full

"About this time (1460) there was ane brigand ta'en with his haill
family, who haunted a place in Angus. This mischievous man had ane
execrable fashion to take all young men and children he could steal
away quietly, or tak' away without knowledge, and eat them, and the
younger they were, esteemed them the mair tender and delicious. For
the whilk cause and damnable abuse, he with his wife and bairns were
all burnt, except ane young wench of a year old who was saved and
brought to Dandee, where she was brought up and fostered; and when she
came to a woman's years, she was condemned and burnt quick for that
crime. It is said that when she was coming to the place of execution,
there gathered ane huge multitude of people, and specially of women,
cursing her that she was so unhappy to commit so damnable deeds. To
whom she turned about with an ireful countenance, saying:--'Wherefore
chide ye with me, as if I had committed ane unworthy act? Give me
credence and trow me, if ye had experience of eating men and women's
flesh, ye wold think it so delicious that ye wold never forbear it
again.' So, but any sign of repentance, this unhappy traitor died in
the sight of the people." [1]

[1. LINDSAY'S _Chronicles of Scotland_, 1814, p. 163.]

Wyntoun also has a passage in his metrical chronicle regarding a
cannibal who lived shortly before his own time, and he may easily have
heard about him from surviving contemporaries. It was about the year
1340, when a large portion of Scotland had been devastated by the arms
of Edward III.

About Perth thare was the countrie
Sae waste, that wonder wes to see;

For intill well-great space thereby,
Wes nother house left nor herb'ry.
Of deer thare wes then sic foison (profusion),
That they wold near come to the town,
Sae great default was near that stead,
That mony were in hunger dead.
A carle they said was near thereby,
That wold act settis (traps) commonly,
Children and women for to slay,
And swains that he might over-ta;
And ate them all that he get might;
Chwsten Cleek till name behight.
That sa'ry life continued he,
While waste but folk was the countrie. [1]

[1. WYNTOUN'S _Chronicle_, ii. 236.]

We have only to compare these two cases with those recorded in the
last two chapters, and we see at once how the popular mind in Great
Britain had lost the idea of connecting change of form with
cannibalism. A man guilty of the crimes committed by the Angus
brigand, or the carle of Perth, would have been regarded as a
were-wolf in France or Germany, and would have been tried for

S. Jerome, by the way, brought a sweeping charge against the Scots. He
visited Gaul in his youth, about 880, and he writes:--"When I was a
young man in Gaul, I may have seen the Attacotti, a British people who
live upon human flesh; and when they find herds of pigs, droves of
cattle, or flocks of sheep in the woods, they cut off the haunches of
the men and the breasts of the women, and these they regard as great
dainties;" in other words they prefer the shepherd to his flock.
Gibbon who quotes this passage says on it: "If in the neighbourhood of
the commercial and literary town of Glasgow, a race of cannibals has
really existed, we may contemplate, in the period of the Scottish
history, the opposite extremes of savage and civilized life. Such
reflections tend to enlarge the circle of our ideas, and to encourage
the pleasing hope that New Zealand may produce in a future age, the
Hume of the Southern hemisphere."

If traditions of were-wolves are scanty in England, it is quite the
reverse if we cross the water.

In the south of France, it is still believed that fate has destined
certain men to be lycanthropists--that they are transformed into
wolves at full moon. The desire to run comes upon them at night. They
leave their beds, jump out of a window, and plunge into a fountain.
After the bath, they come out covered with dense fur, walking on all
fours, and commence a raid over fields and meadows, through woods and
villages, biting all beasts and human beings that come in their way.
At the approach of dawn, they return to the spring, plunge into it,
lose their furry skins, and regain their deserted beds. Sometimes the
loup-garou is said to appear under the form of a white dog, or to be
loaded with chains; but there is probably a confusion of ideas between
the were-wolf and the church-dog, bar-ghest, pad-foit, wush-hound, or
by whatever name the animal supposed to haunt a churchyard is

In the Prigord, the were-wolf is called loulerou. Certain men,
especially bastards, are obliged at each full moon to transform
themselves into these diabolic beasts.

It is always at night that the fit comes on. The lycanthropist dashes
out of a window, springs into a well, and, after having struggled in
the water for a few moments, rises from it, dripping, and invested
with a goatskin which the devil has given him. In this condition, the
loulerous run upon four legs, pass the night in ranging over the
country, and in biting and devouring all the dogs they meet. At break
of day they lay aside their goatskins and return home. Often they are
ill in consequence of having eaten tough old hounds, and they vomit up
their undigested paws. One great nuisance to them is the fact that
they may be wounded or killed in their loulerou state. With the first
effusion of blood their diabolic covering vanishes, and they are
recognized, to the disgrace of their families.

A were-wolf may easily be detected, even when devoid of his skin; for
his hands are broad, and his fingers short, and there are always some
hairs in the hollow of his hand.

In Normandy, those who are doomed to be loups-garoux, clothe
themselves every evening with a skin called their _hre_ or _hure_,
which is a loan from the devil. When they run in their transformed
state, the evil one accompanies them and scourges them at the foot of
every cross they pass. The only way in which a werewolf can be
liberated from this cruel bondage, is by stabbing him three times in
the forehead with a knife. However, some people less addicted to
allopathic treatment, consider that three drops of blood drawn by a
needle, will be sufficient to procure release.

According to an opinion of the vulgar in the same province, the
loup-garou is sometimes a metamorphosis forced upon the body of a
damned person, who, after having been tormented in his grave, has torn
his way out of it. The first stage in the process consists in his
devouring the cerecloth which enveloped his face; then his moans and
muffled howls ring from the tomb, through the gloom of night, the
earth of the grave begins to heave, and at last, with a scream,
surrounded by a phosphorescent glare, and exhaling a ftid odour, he
bursts away as a wolf.

In Le Bessin, they attribute to sorcerers the power of metamorphosing
certain men into beasts, but the form of a dog is that principally
affected by them.

In Norway it is believed that there are persons who can assume the
form of a wolf or a bear (Huse-bjrn), and again resume their own;
this property is either imparted to them by the Trollmen, or those
possessing it are themselves Trolls.

In a hamlet in the midst of a forest, there dwelt a cottager named
Lasse, and his wife. One day he went out in the forest to fell a tree,
but had forgot to cross himself and say his paternoster, so that some
troll or wolf-witch (varga mor) obtained power over him and
transformed him into a wolf. His wife mourned him for many years, but,
one Christmas-eve, there came a beggar-woman, very poor and ragged, to
the door, and the good woman of the house took her in, fed her well,
and entreated her kindly. At her departure the beggar-woman said that
the wife would probably see her husband again, as he was not dead, but
was wandering in the forest as a wolf. Towards night-fall the wife
went to her pantry to place in it a piece of meat for the morrow,
when, on turning to go out, she perceived a wolf standing before her,
raising itself with its paws on the pantry steps, regarding her with
sorrowful and hungry looks. Seeing this she exclaimed, "If I were sure
that thou wert my own Lasse, I would give thee a bit of meat." At that
instant the wolf-skin fell off, and her husband stood before her in
the clothes he wore on the unlucky morning when she had last beheld

Finns, Lapps, and Russians are held in particular aversion, because
the Swedes believe that they have power to change people into wild
beasts. During the last year of the war with Russia, when Calmar was
overrun with an unusual number of wolves, it was generally said that
the Russians had transformed their Swedish prisoners into wolves, and
sent them home to invest the country.

In Denmark the following stories are told:--

A man, who from his childhood had been a were-wolf, when returning one
night with his wife from a merrymaking, observed that the hour was at
hand when the evil usually came upon him; giving therefore the reins
to his wife, he descended from the vehicle, saying to her, "If
anything comes to thee, only strike at it with thine apron." He then
withdrew, but immediately after, the woman, as she was sitting in the
vehicle, was attached by a were-wolf. She did as the man had enjoined
her, and struck it with her apron, from which it rived a portion, and
then ran away. After some time the man returned, holding in his mouth
the rent portion of his wife's apron, on seeing which, she cried out
in terror,--"Good Lord, man, why, thou art a were-wolf!" "Thank thee,
wife," said he, "now I am free." And from that time he was no more

If a female at midnight stretches between four sticks the membrane
which envelopes the foal when it is brought forth, and creeps through
it, naked, she will bear children without pain; but all the boys will
be were-wolves, and all the girls maras. By day the were-wolf has the
human form, though he may be known by the meeting of his eyebrows
above the nose. At a certain time of the night he has the form of a
dog on three legs. It is only when another person tells him that he is
a were-wolf, or reproaches him with being such, that a man can be
freed from the ban.

According to a Danish popular song, a hero transformed by his
step-mother into a bear, fights with a knight:--

For 'tis she who bath bewitched me,
A woman false and fell,
Bound an iron girdle round me,
If thou can'st not break this belt,
Knight, I'll thee destroy!
* * * *
The noble made the Christian sign,
The girdle snapped, the bear was changed,
And see! he was a lusty knight,
His father's realm regained.

_Kjmpeviser_, p. 147.

When an old bear in Ofodens Priestegjeld was killed, after it had
caused the death of six men und sixty horses, it was found to be
girded with a similar girdle.

In Schleswig and Holstein they say that if the were-wolf be thrice
addressed by his baptismal name, he resumes his human form.

On a hot harvest day some reapers lay down in the field to take their
noontide sleep, when one who could not sleep observed that the fellow
next to him rose softly, and having girded himself with a strap,
became a were-wolf.

A young man belonging to Jgerup returning late one night from
Billund, was attacked, when near Jgerup, by three were-wolves, and
would probably have been torn to pieces, had he not saved himself by
leaping into a rye-field, for there they had no more power over him.

At Caseburg, on the isle of Usedom, a man and his wife were busy in
the field making hay, when after some time the woman said to the man
that she had no more peace, she could stay no longer, and went away.
But she had previously desired her husband to promise, that if
perchance a wild beast should come that way, he would cast his hat at
it and then run away, and it would do him no injury. She had been gone
but a short while, when a wolf came swimming across the Swine, and ran
directly towards the haymakers. The man threw his hat at it, which the
animal instantly tore to rags. But in the meantime a boy had run up
with a pitchfork, and he dabbed the wolf from behind: in the same
moment it became changed, and all saw that the boy had killed the
man's wife.

Formerly there were individuals in the neighbourhood of Steina, who,
by putting on a certain girdle, could transform themselves into
were-wolves. A man of the neighbourhood, who had such a girdle, forgot
one day when going out to lock it up, as was his wont. During his
absence, his little son chanced to find it; he buckled it round him.,
and was instantaneously turned into an animal, to all outward
appearance like a bundle of peat-straw, and he rolled about like an
unwieldy bear. When those who were in the room perceived this, they
hastened in search of the father, who was found in time to come and
unbuckle the belt, before the child had done any mischief. The boy
afterwards said, that when he had put on the girdle, he was seized
with such a raging hunger, that he was ready to tear in pieces and
devour all that came in his way.

The girdle is supposed to be made of human skin, and to be three
finger-breadths wide.

In East Friesland, it is believed, when seven girls succeed each other
in one family, that among them one is of necessity a were-wolf, so
that youths are slow in seeking one of seven sisters in marriage.

According to a curious Lithuanian story related by Schleicher in his
_Litauische Mrchen_, a person who is a were-wolf or bear has to
remain kneeling in one spot for one hundred years before he can hope
to obtain release from his bestial form.

In the Netherlands they relate the following tale:--A man had once
gone out with his bow to attend a shooting match at Rousse, but when
about half way to the place, he saw on a sudden, a large wolf spring
from a thicket, and rush towards a young girl, who was sitting in a
meadow by the roadside watching cows. The man did not long hesitate,
but quickly drawing forth an arrow, took aim, and luckily hit the wolf
in the right side, so that the arrow remained sticking in the wound,
and the animal fled howling to the wood.

On the following day he heard that a serving-man of the burgomaster's
household lay at the point of death, in consequence of having been
shot in the right side, on the preceding day. This so excited the
archer's curiosity, that he went to the wounded man, and requested to
see the arrow. He recognized it immediately as one of his own. Then,
having desired all present to leave the room, he persuaded the man to
confess that he was a were-wolf and that he had devoured little
children. On the following day he died.

Among the Bulgarians and Sloyakians the were-wolf is called _vrkolak_,
a name resembling that given it by the modern Greeks {Greek
_brkolakas_}. The Greek were-wolf is closely related to the vampire.
The lycanthropist falls into a cataleptic trance, during which his
soul leaves his body, enters that of a wolf and ravens for blood. On
the return of the soul, the body is exhausted and aches as though it
had been put through violent exercise. After death lycanthropists
become vampires. They are believed to frequent battlefields in wolf or
hyna shapes, and to suck the breath from dying soldiers, or to enter
houses and steal the infants from their cradles. Modern Greeks call
any savage-looking man, with dark complexion, and with distorted,
misshapen limbs, a {Greek _brkolakas_}, and suppose him to be
invested with power of running in wolf-form.

The Serbs connect the vampire and the were-wolf together, and call
them by one name _vlkoslak_. These rage chiefly in the depths of
winter: they hold their annual gatherings, and at them divest
themselves of their wolf-skins, which they hang on the trees around
them. If any one succeeds in obtaining the skin and burning it, the
vlkoslak is thenceforth disenchanted.

The power to become a were-wolf is obtained by drinking the water
which settles in a foot-print left in clay by a wolf.

Among the White Russians the _wawkalak_ is a man who has incurred the
wrath of the devil, and the evil one punishes him by transforming him
into a wolf and sending him among his relations, who recognize him and
feed him well. He is a most amiably disposed were-wolf, for he does no
mischief, and testifies his affection for his kindred by licking their
hands. He cannot, however, remain long in any place, but is driven
from house to house, and from hamlet to hamlet, by an irresistible
passion for change of scene. This is an ugly superstition, for it sets
a premium on standing well with the evil one.

The Sloyakians merrily term a drunkard a vlkodlak, because, forsooth,
he makes a beast of himself. A Slovakian household were-wolf tale
closes this chapter.

The Poles have their were-wolves, which rage twice in the year--at
Christmas and at midsummer.

According to a Polish story, if a witch lays a girdle of human skin on
the threshold of a house in which a marriage is being celebrated, the
bride and bridegroom, and bridesmaids and groomsmen, should they step
across it, are transformed into wolves. After three years, however,
the witch will cover them with skins with the hair. turned outward;
immediately they will recover their natural form. On one occasion, a
witch cast a skin of too scanty dimensions over the bridegroom, so
that his tail was left uncovered: he resumed his human form, but
retained his lupine caudal appendage {_i.e. tail--jbh_}.

The Russians call the were-wolf _oborot_, which signifies "one
transformed." The following receipt is given by them for becoming one.

"He who desires to become an oborot, let him seek in the forest a
hewn-down tree; let him stab it with a small copper knife, and walk
round the tree, repeating the following incantation:--

On the sea, on the ocean, on the island, on Bujan,
On the empty pasture gleams the moon, on an ashstock lying
In a green wood, in a gloomy vale.
Toward the stock wandereth a shaggy wolf.
Horned cattle seeking for his sharp white fangs;
But the wolf enters not the forest,
But the wolf dives not into the shadowy vale,
Moon, moon, gold-horned moon,
Cheek the flight of bullets, blunt the hunters' knives,
Break the shepherds' cudgels,
Cast wild fear upon all cattle,
On men, on all creeping things,
That they may not catch the grey wolf,
That they may not rend his warm skin
My word is binding, more binding than sleep,
More binding than the promise of a hero!

"Then he springs thrice over the tree and runs into the forest,
transformed into a wolf." [1]

[1. SACHAROW: _Inland_, 1838, No. 17.]

In the ancient Bohemian Lexicon of Vacerad (A. D. 1202) the were-wolf
is called vilkodlak, and is explained as faunus. Safarik says under
that head,-

"Incubi sepe improbi existunt mulieribus, et earum peragunt
concubitum, quos demones Galli _dusios_ nuncupant." And in another
place: "Vilkodlaci, incubi, sive invidi, ab inviando passim cum
animalibus, unde et incubi dicuntur ab incubando homines, i. e.
stuprando, quos Romani faunos ficarios dicunt."

That the same belief in lycanthropy exists in Armenia is evident from
the following story told by Haxthausen, in his _Trans-Caucasia_
(Leipzig, i. 322):--"A man once saw a wolf, which had carried off a
child, dash past him. He pursued it hastily, but was unable to
overtake it. At last he came upon the hands and feet of a child, and a
little further on he found a cave, in which lay a wolf-skin. This he
cast into a fire, and immediately a woman appeared, who howled and
tried to rescue the skin from the flames. The man, however, resisted,
and, as soon as the hide was consumed, the woman had vanished in the

In India, on account of the prevalence of the doctrine of
metempsychosis, the belief in transformation is widely diffused.
Traces of genuine lycanthropy are abundant in all regions whither
Buddism has reached. In Ceylon, in Thibet, and in China, we find it
still forming a portion of the national creed.

In the Pantschatantra is a story of an enchanted Brahmin's son, who by
day was a serpent, by night a man.

Vikramditya's father, the son of Indra, was condemned to be an ass by
day and a man by night.

A modern Indian tale is to this effect:--A prince marries a female
ape, but his brothers wed handsome princesses. At a feast given by the
queen to her stepdaughters, there appears an exquisitely beautiful
lady in gorgeous robes. This is none other than the she-ape, who has
laid aside her skin for the occasion: the prince slips out of the room
and burns the skin, so that his wife is prevented from resuming her
favourite appearance.

Nathaniel Pierce [1] gives an account of an Abyssinian
superstition very similar to that prevalent in Europe.

[1. _Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pierce_, written by himself
during a residence in Abyssinia from 1810-19. London, 1831.]

He says that in Abyssinia the gold. and silversmiths are highly
regarded, but that the ironworkers are looked upon with contempt, as
an inferior grade of beings. Their kinsmen even ascribe to them the
power of transforming themselves into hynas, or other savage beasts.
All convulsions and hysterical disorders are attributed to the effect
of their evil eye. The Amhara call them _Buda_, the Tigr, _Tebbib_.
There are also Mahomedan and Jewish Budas. It is difficult to explain
the origin of this strange superstition. These Budas are distinguished
from other people by wearing gold ear-rings, and Coffin declares that
he has often found hynas with these rings in their ears, even among
the beasts which he has shot or speared himself. But how the rings got
into their ears is more than Coffin was able to ascertain.

Beside their power to transform themselves into hynas or other wild
beasts, all sorts of other strange things are ascribed to them; and
the Abyssinians are firmly persuaded that they rob the graves by
midnight, and no one would venture to touch what is called _quanter_,
or dried meat in their houses, though they would not object to partake
of fresh meat, if they had seen the animal, from which it came, killed
before them. Coffin relates, as eye-witness of the fact, the following

Among his servants was a Buda, who, one evening, whilst it was still
light, came to his master and asked leave of absence till the
following morning. He obtained the required leave and departed; but
scarcely had Coffin turned his head, when one of his men
exclaimed,--"Look! there he is, changing himself into hyna," pointing
in the direction taken by the Buda. Coffin turned to look, and
although he did not witness the process of transformation, the young
man had vanished from the spot on which he had been standing, not a
hundred paces distant, and in his place was a hyna running away. The
place was a plain without either bush or tree to impede the view. Next
morning the young man returned, and was charged by his companions with
the transformation: this he rather acknowledged than denied, for he
excused himself on the plea that it was the habit of his class. This
statement of Pierce is corroborated by a note contributed by Sir
Gardner Wilkinson to Rawlinson's _Herodotus_ (book iv. chap. 105). "A
class of people in Abyssinia are believed to change themselves into
hynas when they like. On my appearing to discredit it, I was told by
one who lived for years there, that no well-informed person doubted
it, and that he was once walking with one of them, when he happened to
look away for a moment, and on turning again towards his companion, he
saw him trotting off in the shape of a hyna. He met him afterwards in
his old form. These worthies are blacksmiths.--G. W."

A precisely similar superstition seems to have existed in America, for
Joseph Acosta (_Hist. Nat. des Indes_) relates that the ruler of a
city in Mexico, who was sent for by the predecessor of Montezuma,
transformed himself, before the eyes of those who were sent to seize
him, into an eagle, a tiger, and an enormous serpent. He yielded at
last, and was condemned to death. No longer in his own house, he was
unable to work miracles so as to save his life. The Bishop of Chiapa,
a province of Guatemala, in a writing published in 1702, ascribes the
same power to the Naguals, or national priests, who laboured to bring
back to the religion of their ancestors, the children brought up as
Christians by the government. After various ceremonies, when the child
instructed advanced to embrace him, the Nagual suddenly assumed a
frightful aspect, and under the form of a lion or tiger, appeared
chained to the young Christian convert.--(_Recueil de Voyages_, tom.
ii. 187.)

Among the North American Indians, the belief in transformation is very
prevalent. The following story closely resembles one very prevalent
all over the world.

"One Indian fixed his residence on the borders of the Great Bear lake,
taking with him only a dog big with young. In due time, this dog
brought forth eight pups. Whenever the Indian went out to fish, he
tied up the pups, to prevent the straying of the litter. Several
times, as he approached his tent, he heard noises proceeding from it,
which sounded like the talking, the laughing, the crying, the wail,
and the merriment of children; but, on entering it, he only perceived
the pups tied up as usual. His curiosity being excited by the noises
he had heard, he determined to watch and learn whence these sounds
proceeded, and what they were. One day he pretended to go out to fish,
but, instead of doing so, he concealed himself in a convenient place.
In a short time he again heard -voices, and, rushing suddenly into the
tent, beheld some beautiful children sporting and laughing, with the
dog-skins lying by their side. He threw the dog-skins into the fire,
and the children, retaining their proper forms, grew up, and were the
ancestors of the dog-rib nation."--(_Traditions of the North American
Indians_, by T. A. Jones, 1830, Vol. ii. p. 18.)

In the same work is a curious story entitled _The Mother of the
World_, which bears a close analogy to another world-wide myth: a
woman marries a dog, by night the dog lays aside its skin, and appears
as a man. This may be compared with the tale of Bjrn and Bera already

I shall close this chapter with a Slovakian household tale given by T.
T. Hanush in the third volume of _Zeitschrift fr Deutsche

_The Daughter of the Vlkolak_

"There was once a father, who had nine daughters, and they were all
marriageable, but the youngest was the most beautiful. The father was
a were-wolf. One day it came into his head: 'What is the good of
having to support so many girls?' so he determined to put them all out
of the way.

"He went accordingly into the forest to hew wood, and he ordered his
daughters to let one of them bring him his dinner. It was the eldest
who brought it.

"'Why, how come you so early with the food?' asked the woodcutter.

"'Truly, father, I wished to strengthen you, lest you should fall upon
us, if famished!'

"'A good lass! Sit down whilst I eat.' He ate, and whilst he ate he
thought of a scheme. He rose and said: I My girl, come, and I will
show you a pit I have been digging.'

"'And what is the pit for? '

"'That we may be buried in it when we die, for poor folk will not be
cared for much after they are dead and gone.'

"So the girl went with him to the side of the deep pit. 'Now hear,'
said the were-wolf, 'you must die and be cast in there.'

"She begged for her life, but all in vain, so he laid hold of her and
cast her into the grave. Then he took a great stone and flung it in
upon her and crushed her head, so the poor thing breathed out her
soul. When the were-wolf had done this he went back to his work, and
as dusk came on, the second daughter arrived, bringing him food. He
told her of the pit, and brought her to it, and cast her in, and
killed her as the first. And so he dealt with all his girls up to the
last. The youngest knew well that her father was a were-wolf, and she
was grieved that her sisters did not return; she thought, 'Now where
can they be? Has my father kept them for companionship; or to help him
in his work?' So she made the food which she was to take him, and
crept cautiously through the wood. When she came near the place where
her father worked, she heard his strokes felling timber, and smelt
smoke. She saw presently a large fire and two human heads roasting at
it. Turning from the fire, she went in the direction of the
axe-strokes, and found her father.

"See,' said she, 'father, I have brought you food.'

"That is a good lass,' said he. 'Now stack the wood for me whilst I

"'But where are my sisters?' she asked.

"'Down in yon valley drawing wood,' he replied 'follow me, and I will
bring you to them.'

"They came to the pit; then he told her that he had dug it for a
grave. 'Now,' said he, 'you must die, and be cast into the pit with
your sisters. '

"'Turn aside, father,' she asked, 'whilst I strip of my clothes, and
then slay me if you will.'

"He turned aside as she requested, and then--tchich! she gave him a
push, and he tumbled headlong into the hole he had dug for her.

"She fled for her life, for the were-wolf was not injured, and he soon
would scramble out of the pit.

"Now she hears his howls resounding through the gloomy alleys of the
forest, and swift as the wind she runs. She hears the tramp of his
approaching feet, and the snuffle of his breath. Then she casts behind
her her handkerchief. The were-wolf seizes this with teeth and nails,
and rends it till it is reduced to tiny ribands. In another moment he
is again in pursuit foaming at the mouth, and howling dismally, whilst
his red eyes gleam like burning coals. As he gains on her, she casts
behind her her gown, and bids him tear that. He seizes the gown and
rives it to shreds, then again he pursues. This time she casts behind
her her apron, next her petticoat, then her shift, and at last rums
much in the condition in which she was born. Again the were-wolf
approaches; she bounds out of the forest into a hay-field, and hides
herself in the smallest heap of hay. Her father enters the field, runs
howling about it in search of her, cannot find her, and begins to
upset the different haycocks, all the while growling and gnashing his
gleaming white fangs in his rage at her having escaped him. The foam
flakes drop at every step from his mouth, and his skin is reeking with
sweat. Before he has reached the smallest bundle of hay his strength
leaves him, he feels exhaustion begin to creep over him, and he
retires to the forest.

"The king goes out hunting every clay; one of his dogs carries food to
the hay-field, which has most unaccountably been neglected by the
hay-makers for three days. The king, following the dog, discovers the
fair damsel, not exactly 'in the straw,' but up to her neck in hay.
She is carried, hay and all, to the palace, where she becomes his
wife, making only one stipulation before becoming his bride, and that
is, that no beggar shall be permitted to enter the palace.

"After some years a beggar does get in, the beggar being, of course,
none other than her were-wolf father. He steals upstairs, enters the
nursery, cuts the throats of the two children borne by the queen to
her lord, and lays the knife under her pillow.

"In the morning, the king, supposing his wife to be the murderess,
drives her from home, with the dead princes hung about her neck. A
hermit comes to the rescue, and restores the babies to life. The king
finds out his mistake, is reunited to the lady out of the hay, and the
were-wolf is cast off a high cliff into the sea, and that is the end
of him. The king, the queen, and the princes live happily, and may be
living yet, for no notice of their death has appeared in the

This story bears some resemblance to one told by Von Hahn in his
_Griechische und Albanesische Mrchen_; I remember having heard a very
similar one in the Pyrenees; but the man who flies from the were-wolf
is one who, after having stripped off all his clothes, rushes into a
cottage and jumps into a bed. The were-wolf dares not, or cannot,
follow. The cause of his flight was also different. He was a freemason
who had divulged the secret, and the were-wolf was the master of his
lodge in pursuit of him. In the Bearnais story, there is nothing
similar to the last part of the Slovakian tale, and in the Greek one
the transformation and the pursuit are omitted, though the woman-eater
is called "dog's-head," much as an outlaw in the north of Europe was
said to be wolf-headed.

It is worthy of notice in the tale of _The Daughter of the Ulkolak_,
that the were-wolf fit is followed by great exhaustion, [1] and
that the wolf is given clothes to tear, much as in the Danish stories
already related. There does not seem to be any indication of his
Laving changed his shape, at least no change is mentioned, his hands
are spoken of, and he swears and curses his daughter in broad
Slovakian. The fit very closely resembles that to which Skallagrim,
the Icelander, was subject. It is a pity that the maid Brk in the
Icelandic tale did not fall upon her legs like the young lady in the

[1. Compare this with the exhaustion following a Berserkir fit, and
that which succeeded the attacks to which M. Bertrand was subject.]



Innate Cruelty--Its Three Forms--Dumollard--Andreas Bichel--A Dutch
Priest--Other instances of Inherent Cruelty--Cruelty united to
Refinement--A Hungarian Bather in Blood--Suddenness with which the
Passion is developed--Cannibalism; in pregnant Women; in
Maniacs--Hallucination; how Produced--Salves--The Story of

WHAT I have related from the chronicles of antiquity, or from the
traditional lore of the people, is veiled under the form of myth or
legend; and it is only from Scandinavian descriptions of those
afflicted with the wolf-madness, and from the trials of those charged
with the crime of lycanthropy in the later Middle Ages, that we can
arrive at the truth respecting that form of madness which was invested
by the superstitious with so much mystery.

It was not till the close of the Middle Ages that lycanthropy was
recognized as a disease; but it is one which has so much that is
ghastly and revolting in its form, and it is so remote from all our
ordinary experience, that it is not surprising that the casual
observer should leave the consideration of it, as a subject isolated
and perplexing, and be disposed to regard as a myth that which the
feared investigation might prove a reality.

In this chapter I purpose briefly examining the conditions under which
men have been regarded as werewolves.

Startling though the assertion may be, it is a matter of fact, that
man, naturally, in common with other carnivora, is actuated by an
impulse to kill, and by a love of destroying life.

It is positively true that there are many to whom the sight of
suffering causes genuine pleasure, and in whom the passion to kill or
torture is as strong as any other passion. Witness the number of boys
who assemble around a sheep or pig when it is about to be killed, and
who watch the struggle of the dying brute with hearts beating fast
with pleasure, and eyes sparkling with delight. Often have I seen an
eager crowd of children assembled around the slaughterhouses of French
towns, absorbed in the expiring agonies of the sheep and cattle, and
hushed into silence as they watched the flow of blood.

The propensity, however, exists in different degrees. In some it is
manifest simply as indifference to suffering, in others it appears as
simple pleasure in seeing killed, and in others again it is dominant
as an irresistible desire to torture and destroy.

This propensity is widely diffused; it exists in children and adults,
in the gross-minded and the refined., in the well-educated and the
ignorant, in those who have never had the opportunity of gratifying
it, and those who gratify it habitually, in spite of morality,
religion, laws, so that it can only depend on constitutional causes.

The sportsman and the fisherman follow a natural instinct to destroy,
when they make wax on bird, beast, and fish: the pretence that the
spoil is sought for the table cannot be made with justice, as the
sportsman cares little for the game he has obtained, when once it is
consigned to his pouch. The motive for his eager pursuit of bird or
beast must be sought elsewhere; it will be found in the natural
craving to extinguish life, which exists in his soul. Why does a child
impulsively strike at a butterfly as it flits past him? He cares
nothing for the insect when once it is beaten down at his feet, unless
it be quivering in its agony, when he will watch it with interest. The
child strikes at the fluttering creature because it has _life_ in it,
and he has an instinct within him impelling him to destroy life
wherever he finds it.

Parents and nurses know well that children by nature are cruel, and
that humanity has to be acquired by education. A child will gloat over
the sufferings of a wounded animal till his mother bids him "put it
out of its misery." An unsophisticated child would not dream of
terminating the poor creature's agonies abruptly, any more than he
would swallow whole a bon-bon till he had well sucked it. Inherent
cruelty may be obscured by after impressions, or may be kept under
moral restraint; the person who is constitutionally a Nero, may
scarcely know his own nature, till by some accident the master passion
becomes dominant, and sweeps all before it. A relaxation of the moral
check, a shock to the controlling intellect, an abnormal condition of
body, are sufficient to allow the passion to assert itself.

As I have already observed, this passion exists in different persons
in different degrees.

In some it is exhibited in simple want of feeling for other people's
sufferings. This temperament may lead to crime, for the individual who
is regardless of pain in another, will be ready to destroy that other,
if it suit his own purposes. Such an one was the pauper Dumollard, who
was the murderer of at least six poor girls, and who attempted to kill
several others. He seems not to have felt much gratification in
murdering them, but to have been so utterly indifferent to their
sufferings, that he killed them solely for the sake of their clothes,
which were of the poorest description. He was sentenced to the
guillotine, and executed in 1862. [1]

[1. A full account of this man's trial is given by one who was
present, in _All the Year Round_, No. 162.]

In others, the passion for blood is developed alongside with
indifference to suffering.

Thus Andreas Bichel enticed young women into his house, under the
pretence that he was possessed of a magic mirror, in which he would
show them their future husbands; when he had them in his power he
bound their hands behind their backs, and stunned them with a blow. He
then stabbed them and despoiled them of their clothes, for the sake of
which he committed the murders; but as he killed the young women the
passion of cruelty took possession of him, and he hacked the poor
girls to pieces whilst they were still alive, in his anxiety to
examine their insides. Catherine Seidel he opened with a hammer and a
wedge, from her breast downwards, whilst still breathing. "I may say,"
he remarked at his trial, "that during the operation I was so eager,
that I trembled all over, and I longed to rive off a piece and eat

Andreas Bichel was executed in 1809. [1]

[1. The case of Andreas Bichel is given in Lady Duff Gordon's
_Remarkable Criminal Trials_.]

Again, a third class of persons are cruel and bloodthirsty, because in
them bloodthirstiness is a raging insatiable passion. In a civilized
country those possessed by this passion are forced to control it
through fear of the consequences, or to gratify it upon the brute
creation. But in earlier days, when feudal lords were supreme in their
domains, there have been frightful instances of their excesses, and
the extent to which some of the Roman emperors indulged their passion
for blood is matter of history.

Gall gives several authentic instances of bloodthirstiness. [1] A
Dutch priest had such a desire to kill and to see killed, that he
became chaplain to a regiment that he might have the satisfaction of
seeing deaths occurring wholesale in engagements. The same man kept a
large collection of various kinds of domestic animals, that he might
be able to torture their young. He killed the animals for his kitchen,
and was acquainted with all the hangmen in the country, who sent him
notice of executions, and he would walk for days that he might have
the gratification of seeing a man executed.

[1. GALL: _Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau_, tom. iv.]

In the field of battle the passion is variously developed; some feel
positive delight in slaying, others are indifferent. An old soldier,
who had been in Waterloo, informed me that to his mind there was no
pleasure equal to running a man through the body, and that he could
lie awake at night musing on the pleasurable sensations afforded him
by that act.

Highwaymen are frequently not content with robbery, but manifest a
bloody inclination to torment and kill. John Rosbeck, for instance, is
well known to have invented and exercised the most atrocious
cruelties, merely that he might witness the sufferings of his victims,
who were especially women and children. Neither fear nor torture could
break him of the dreadful passion till he was executed.

Gall tells of a violin-player, who, being arrested, confessed to
thirty-four murders, all of which he had committed, not from enmity or
intent to rob, but solely because it afforded him an intense pleasure
to kill.

Spurzheim [1] tells of a priest at Strasbourg, who, though rich,
and uninfluenced by envy or revenge, from exactly the same motive,
killed three persons.

[1. _Doctrine of the Mind_, p. 158.]

Gall relates the case of a brother of the Duke of Bourbon, Cond,
Count of Charlois, who, from infancy, had an inveterate pleasure in
torturing animals: growing older, he lived to shed the blood of human
beings, and to exercise various kinds of cruelty. He also murdered
many from no other motive, and shot at slaters for the pleasure of
seeing them fall from the roofs of houses.

Louis XI. of France caused the death of 4,000 people during his reign;
he used to watch their executions from a neighbouring lattice. He had
gibbets placed outside his own palace, and himself conducted the

It must not be supposed that cruelty exists merely in the coarse and
rude; it is quite as frequently observed in the refined and educated.
Among the former it is manifest chiefly in insensibility to the
sufferings of others; in the latter it appears as a passion, the
indulgence of which causes intense pleasure.

Those bloody tyrants, Nero and Caligula, Alexander Borgia, and
Robespierre, whose highest enjoyment consisted in witnessing the
agonies of their fellow-men, were full of delicate sensibilities and
great refinement of taste and manner.

I have seen an accomplished young woman of considerable refinement and
of a highly strung nervous temperament, string flies with her needle
on a piece of thread, and watch complacently their flutterings.
Cruelty may remain latent till, by some accident. it is aroused, and
then it will break forth in a devouring flame. It is the same with the
passion for blood as with the passions of love and hate; we have no
conception of the violence with which they can rage till circumstances
occur which call them into action. Love or hate will be dominant in a
breast which has been in serenity, till suddenly the spark falls,
passion blazes forth, and the serenity of the quiet breast is
shattered for ever. A word, a glance, a touch, are sufficient to fire
the magazine of passion in the heart, and to desolate for ever an
existence. It is the same with bloodthirstiness. It may lurk in the
deeps of some heart very dear to us. It may smoulder in the bosom
which is most cherished by us, and we may be perfectly unconscious of
its existence there. Perhaps circumstances will not cause its
development; perhaps moral principle may have bound it down with
fetters it can never break.

Michael Wagener [1] relates a horrible story which occurred in
Hungary, suppressing the name of the person, as it was that of a still
powerful family in the country. It illustrates what I have been
saying, and shows how trifling a matter may develope the passion in
its most hideous proportions.

[1. _Beitrage zur philosophischen Anthropologie_, Wien, 1796.]

"Elizabeth ------ was wont to dress well in order to please her
husband, and she spent half the day over her toilet. On one occasion,
a lady's-maid saw something wrong in her head-dress, and as a
recompence for observing it, received such a severe box on the ears
that the blood gushed from her nose, and spirted on to her mistress's
face. When the blood drops were washed off her face, her skin appeared
much more beautiful--whiter and more transparent on the spots where
the blood had been.

"Elizabeth formed the resolution to bathe her face and her whole body
in human blood so as to enhance her beauty. Two old women and a
certain Fitzko assisted her in her undertaking. This monster used to
kill the luckless victim, and the old women caught the blood, in which
Elizabeth was wont to bathe at the hour of four in the morning. After
the bath she appeared more beautiful than before.

"She continued this habit after the death of her husband (1604) in the
hopes of gaining new suitors. The unhappy girls who were allured to
the castle, under the plea that they were to be taken into service
there, were locked up in a cellar. Here they were beaten till their
bodies were swollen. Elizabeth not unfrequently tortured the victims
herself; often she changed their clothes which dripped with blood, and
then renewed her cruelties. The swollen bodies were then cut up with

"Occasionally she had the girls burned, and then cut up, but the great
majority were beaten to death.

"At last her cruelty became so great, that she would stick needles
into those who sat with her in a carriage, especially if they were of
her own sex. One of her servant-girls she stripped naked, smeared her
with honey, and so drove her out of the house.

"When she was ill, and could not indulge her cruelty, she bit a person
who came near her sick bed as though she were a wild beast.

"She caused, in all, the death of 650 girls, some in Tscheita, on the
neutral ground, where she had a cellar constructed for the purpose;
others in different localities; for murder and bloodshed became with
her a necessity.

"When at last the parents of the lost children could no longer be
cajoled, the castle was seized, and the traces of the murders were
discovered. Her accomplices were executed, and she was imprisoned for

An equally remarkable example will be found in the account of the
Mareschal de Retz given at some length in the sequel. He vas an
accomplished man, a scholar, an able general, and a courtier; but
suddenly the impulse to murder and destroy came upon him whilst
sitting in the library reading Suetonius; he yielded to the impulse,
and became one of the greatest monsters of cruelty the world has

The case of Sviatek, the Gallician cannibal, is also to the purpose.
This man was a harmless pauper, till one day accident brought him to
the scene of a conflagration. Hunger impelled him to taste of the
roast fragments of a human being who had perished in the fire, and
from that moment he ravened for man's flesh.

M. Bertrand was a French gentleman of taste and education. He one day
lounged over the churchyard wall in a quiet country village and
watched a funeral. Instantly an overwhelming desire to dig up and rend
the corpse which he had seen committed to the ground came upon him,
and for years he lived as a human hyna, preying upon the dead. His
story is given in detail in the fifteenth chapter.

An abnormal condition of body sometimes produces this desire for
blood. It is manifest in certain cases of pregnancy, when the
constitution loses its balance, and the appetite becomes diseased.
Schenk [1] gives instances.

[1. _Observationes Medic_. lib. iv. De Gravidis.]

A pregnant woman saw a baker carrying loaves on his bare shoulder. She
was at once filled with such a craving for his flesh that she refused
to taste any food till her husband persuaded the baker, by the offer
of a large sum, to allow his wife to bite him. The man yielded, and
the woman fleshed her teeth in his shoulder twice; but he held out no
longer. The wife bore twins on three occasions, twice living, the
third time dead.

A woman in an interesting condition, near Andernach on the Rhine,
murdered her husband, to whom she was warmly attached, ate half his
body, and salted the rest. When the passion left her she became
conscious of the horrible nature of her act, and she gave herself up
to justice.

In 1553, a wife cut her husband's throat, and gnawed the nose and the
left arm, whilst the body was yet warm. She then gutted the corpse,
and salted it for future consumption. Shortly after, she gave birth to
three children, and she only became conscious of what she had done
when her neighbours asked after the father, that they might announce
to him the arrival of the little ones.

In the summer of 1845, the Greek papers contained an account of a
pregnant woman murdering her husband for the purpose of roasting and
eating his liver.

That the passion to destroy is prevalent in certain maniacs is well
known; this is sometimes accompanied by cannibalism.

Gruner [1] gives an account of a shepherd who was evidently
deranged, who killed and ate two men. Marc [2] relates that a
woman of Unterelsas, during the absence of her husband, a poor
labourer, murdered her son, a lad fifteen months old. She chopped of
his legs and stewed them with cabbage. She ate a portion, and offered
the rest to her husband. It is true that the family were very poor,
but there was food in the house at the time. In prison the woman gave
evident signs of derangement.

[1. _De Anthropophago Bucano_. Jen. 1792.]

[2. _Die Geistes Krankheiten_. Berlin, 1844.]

The cases in which bloodthirstiness and cannibalism are united with
insanity are those which properly fall under the head of Lycanthropy.
The instances recorded in the preceding chapter point unmistakably to
hallucination accompanying the lust for blood. Jean Grenier, Roulet,
and others, were firmly convinced that they had undergone
transformation. A disordered condition of mind or body may produce
hallucination in a form depending on the character and instincts of
the individual. Thus, an ambitious man labouring under monomania will
imagine himself to be a king; a covetous man will be plunged in
despair, believing himself to be penniless, or exult at the vastness
of the treasure which he imagines that he has discovered.

The old man suffering from rheumatism or gout conceives himself to be
formed of china or glass, and the foxhunter tallyhos! at each new
moon, as though he were following a pack. In like manner, the
naturally cruel man, if the least affected in his brain, will suppose
himself to be transformed into the most cruel and bloodthirsty animal
with which he is acquainted.

The hallucinations under which lycanthropists suffered may have arisen
from various causes. The older writers, as Forestus and Burton, regard
the were-wolf mania as a species of melancholy madness, and some do
not deem it necessary for the patient to believe in his transformation
for them to regard him as a lycanthropist.

In the present state of medical knowledge, we know that very different
conditions may give rise to hallucinations.

In fever cases the sensibility is so disturbed that the patient is
often deceived as to the space occupied by his limbs, and he supposes
them to be preternaturally distended or contracted. In the case of
typhus, it is not uncommon for the sick person, with deranged nervous
system, to believe himself to be double in the bed, or to be severed
in half, or to have lost his limbs. He may regard his members as
composed of foreign and often fragile materials, as glass, or he may
so lose his personality as to suppose himself to have become a woman.

A monomaniac who believes himself to be some one else, seeks to enter
into the feelings, thoughts, and habits of the assumed personality,
and from the facility with which this is effected, he draws an
argument, conclusive to himself, of the reality of the change. He
thenceforth speaks of himself under the assumed character, and
experiences all its needs, wishes, passions, and the like. The closer
the identification becomes, the more confirmed is the monomaniac in
his madness, the character of which varies with the temperament of the
individual. If the person's mind be weak, or rude and uncultivated,
the tenacity with which he clings to his metamorphosis is feebler, and
it becomes more difficult to draw the line between his lucid and
insane utterances. Thus Jean Grenier, who laboured under this form of
mania, said in his trial much that was true, but it was mixed with the
ramblings of insanity.

Hallucination may also be produced by artificial means, and there are
evidences afforded by the confessions of those tried for lycanthropy,
that these artificial means were employed by them. I refer to the
salve so frequently mentioned in witch and were-wolf trials. The
following passage is from the charming _Golden Ass of Apuleius_; it
proves that salves were extensively used by witches for the purpose of
transformation, even in his day:--

"Fotis showed me a crack in the door, and bade me look through it,
upon which I looked and saw Pamphile first divest herself of all her
garments, and then, having unlocked a chest, take from it several
little boxes, and open one of the latter, which contained a certain
ointment. Rubbing this ointment a good while previously between the
palms of her hands, she anointed her whole body, from the very nails
of her toes to the hair on the crown of her head, and when she was
anointed all over, she whispered many magic words to a lamp, as if she
were talking to it. Then she began to move her arms, first with
tremulous jerks, and afterwards by a gentle undulating motion, till a
glittering, downy surface by degrees overspread her body, feathers and
strong quills burst forth suddenly, her nose became a hard crooked
beak, her toes changed to curved talons, and Pamphile was no longer
Pamphile, but it was an owl I saw before me. And now, uttering a
harsh, querulous scream, leaping from the ground by little and little,
in order to try her powers, and presently poising herself aloft on her
pinions, she stretched forth her wings on either Side to their full
extent, and flew straight away.

"Having now been actually a witness of the performance of the magical
art, and of the metamorphosis of Pamphile, I remained for some time in
a stupefied state of astonishment. . . . At last, after I had rubbed
my eyes some time, had recovered a little from the amazement and
abstraction of mind, and begun to feel a consciousness of the reality
of things about me, I took hold of the hand of Fotis and said,--'Sweet
damsel, bring me, I beseech thee, a portion of the ointment with which
thy mistress hath just now anointed, and when thou hast made me a
bird, I will be thy slave, and even wait upon thee like a winged
Cupid.' Accordingly she crept gently into the apartment, quickly
returned with the box of ointment, hastily placed it in my hands, and
then immediately departed.

"Elated to an extraordinary degree at the sight of the precious
treasure, I kissed the box several times successively; and uttering
repeated aspirations in hopes of a prosperous flight, I stripped off
my clothes as quick as possible, dipped my fingers greedily into the
box, and having thence extracted a good large lump of ointment, rubbed
it all over my body and limbs. When I was thoroughly anointed, I swung
my arms up and down, in imitation of the movement of a bird's pinions,
and continued to do so a little while, when instead of any perceptible
token of feathers or wings making their appearance, my own thin skin,
alas! grew into a hard leathern hide, covered with bristly hair, my
fingers and toes disappeared, the palms of my hands and the soles of
my feet became four solid hoofs, and from the end of my spine a long
tail projected. My face was enormous, my mouth wide, my nostrils
gaping, my lips pendulous, and I had a pair of immoderately long,
rough, hairy ears. In short, when I came to contemplate my
transformation to its full extent, I found that, instead of a bird, I
had become--an ASS." [1]

[1. APULEIUS, Sir George Head's translation, bk. iii.]

Of what these magical salves were composed we know. They were composed
of narcotics, to wit, _Solanum somniferum_, aconite, hyoscyamus,
belladonna, opium, _acorus vulgaris_, _sium_. These were boiled down
with oil, or the fat of little children who were murdered for the
purpose. The blood of a bat was added, but its effects could have been
_nil_. To these may have been added other foreign narcotics, the names
of which have not transpired.

Whatever may have been the cause of the hallucination, it is not
surprising that the lycanthropist should have imagined himself
transformed into a beast. The cases I have instanced are those of
shepherds, who were by nature of their employment, brought into
collision with wolves; and it is not surprising that these persons, in
a condition liable to hallucinations, should imagine themselves to be
transformed into wild beasts, and that their minds reverting to the
injuries sustained from these animals, they should, in their state of
temporary insanity, accuse themselves of the acts of rapacity
committed by the beasts into which they believed themselves to be
transformed. It is a well-known fact that men, whose minds are
unhinged, will deliver themselves up to justice, accusing themselves
of having committed crimes which have actually taken place, and it is
only on investigation that their self-accusation proves to be false;
and yet they will describe the circumstances with the greatest
minuteness, and be thoroughly convinced of their own criminality. I
need give but a single instance.

In the war of the French Revolution, the _Hermione_ frigate was
commanded by Capt. Pigot, a harsh man and a severe commander. His crew
mutinied, and carried the ship into an enemy's port, having murdered
the captain and several of the officers, under circumstances of
extreme barbarity. One midshipman escaped, by whom many of the
criminals, who were afterwards taken and delivered over to justice,
one by one, were identified. Mr. Finlayson, the Government actuary,
who at that time held an official situation in the Admiralty,
states:--"In my own experience I have known, on separate occasions,
_more than six sailors_ who voluntarily confessed to having struck the
first blow at Capt. Pigot. These men detailed all the horrid
circumstances of the mutiny with extreme minuteness and perfect
accuracy; nevertheless, not one of them had ever been in the ship, nor
had so much as seen Capt. Pigot in their lives. They had obtained by
tradition, from their messmates, the particulars of the story. When
long on a foreign station, hungering and thirsting for home, their
minds became enfeebled; at length they actually believed themselves
guilty of the crime over which they had so long brooded, and submitted
with a gloomy pleasure to being sent to England in irons, for
judgment. At the Admiralty we were always able to detect and establish
their innocence, in defiance of their own solemn
asseverations."--(_London Judicial Gazette_, January, 1803.)



Transformation into beasts forms an integral portion of all
mythological systems. The gods of Greece were wont to change
themselves into animals in order to carry out their designs with
greater speed, security, and secrecy, than in human forms. In
Scandinavian mythology, Odin changed himself into the shape of an
eagle, Loki into that of a salmon. Eastern religions abound in stories
of transformation.

The line of demarcation between this and the translation of a beast's
soul into man, or a man's soul into a beast's (metempsychosis) is very

The doctrine of metempsychosis is founded on the consciousness of
gradation between beasts and men. The belief in a soul-endowed animal
world was present among the ancients, and the laws of intelligence and
instinct were misconstrued, or were regarded as a puzzle, which no man
might solve.

The human soul with its consciousness seemed to be something already
perfected in a pre-existing state, and, in the myth of metempsychosis,
we trace the yearnings and gropings of the soul after the source
whence its own consciousness was derived, counting its dreams and
hallucinations as gleams of memory, recording acts which had taken
place in a former state of existence.

Modern philosophy has resumed the same thread of conjecture, and
thinks to see in man the perfected development of lower organisms.

After death the translation of the soul was supposed to continue. It
became either absorbed into the _nous_, into Brahma, into the deity,
or it sank in the scale of creation, and was degraded to animate a
brute. Thus the doctrine of metempsychosis was emphatically one of
rewards and punishments, for the condition of the soul after death
depended on its training during life. A savage and bloodthirsty man
was exiled, as in the case of Lycaon, into the body of a wild beast:
the soul of a timorous man entered a hare, and drunkards or gluttons
became swine.

The intelligence which was manifest in the beasts bore such a close
resemblance to that of man, in the childhood and youth of the world,
that it is not to be wondered at, if our forefathers failed to detect
the line of demarcation drawn between instinct and reason. And failing
to distinguish this, they naturally fell into the belief in

It was not merely a fancied external resemblance between the beast and
man, but it was the perception of skill, pursuits, desires,
sufferings, and griefs like his own, in the animal creation, which led
man to detect within the beast something analogous to the soul within
himself; and this, notwithstanding the points of contrast existing
between them, elicited in his mind so strong a sympathy that, without
a great stretch of imagination, he invested the beast with his own
attributes, and with the full powers of his own understanding. He
regarded it as actuated by the same motives, as subject to the same
laws of honour, as moved by the same prejudices, and the higher the
beast was in the scale, the more he regarded it as an equal. A
singular illustration of this will be found in the Finnboga Saga, c.

"Now we must relate about Finnbog. Afterward in the evening, when men
slept, he rose, took his weapons, and went forth, following the tracks
which led to the dairy farm. As was his wont, he stepped out briskly
along the spoor till he came to the dairy. There he found the bear
lying down, and he had slain the sheep, and he was lying on them
lapping their blood. Then said Finnbog: 'Stand up, Brain! make ready
against me; that becomes you more than crouching over those sheep's

"The bear sat up, looked at him, and lay down again. Finnbog said, 'If
you think that I am too fully armed to match with you, I will do
this,' and he took of his helmet and laid aside his shield. Then he
said, Stand up now, if you dare! '

"The bear sat up, shook his head, and then cast himself down again.
"Finnbog exclaimed, 'I see, you want us both to be _boune_ alike!' so
he flung aside his sword and said, 'Be it as you will; now stand up if
you have the heart that I believe you have, rather than one such as
was possessed by these rent sheep.'

"Then Bruin stood up and prepared to fight."

The following story taken from the mouth of an Osage Indian by J. A.
Jones, and published in his _Traditions of the North American
Indians_, shows how thoroughly the savage mind misses the line of
demarcation between instinct and reason, and how the man of the woods
looks upon beasts as standing on an equality with himself.

An Osage warrior is in search of a wife: he admires the tidy and
shrewd habits of the beaver. He accordingly goes to a beaver-hut to
obtain one of that race for a bride. "In one corner of the room sat a
beaver-woman combing the heads of some little beavers, whose ears she
boxed very soundly when they would not lie still. The warrior, _i. e._
the beaver-chief, whispered the Osage that she was his second wife,
and was very apt to be cross when there was work to be done, which
prevented her from going to see her neighbours. Those whose heads she
was combing were her children, he said, and she who had made them rub
their noses against each other and be friends, was his eldest
daughter. Then calling aloud, 'Wife,' said he, 'what have you to eat?
The stranger is undoubtedly hungry; see, he is pale, his eye has no
fire, and his step is like that of a moose.'

"Without replying to him, for it was a sulky day with her, she called
aloud, and a dirty-looking beaver entered. 'Go,' said she, 'and fetch
the stranger something to eat.' With that the beaver girl passed
through a small door into another room, from which she soon returned,
bringing some large pieces of willow-bark, which she laid at the feet
of the warrior and his guest. While the warrior-beaver was chewing the
willow, and the Osage was pretending to do so, they fell to talking
over many matters, particularly the wars of the beavers with the
otters, and their frequent victories over them. He told our father by
what means the beavers felled large trees, and moved them to the
places where they wished to make dams; how they raised to an erect
position the poles for their lodges, and how they plastered them so as
to keep out rain. Then he spoke of their employments when they had
buried the hatchet; of the peace and happiness and tranquillity they
enjoyed when gathered into companies, they rested from their labours,
and passed their time in talking and feasting, and bathing, and
playing the game of bones, and making love. All the while the young
beaver-maiden sat with her eyes fixed upon the Osage, at every pause
moving a little nearer, till at length she was at his side with her
forepaw upon his arm; a minute more and she had placed it around his
neck, and was rubbing her soft furry cheek against his. Our ancestor,
on his part, betrayed no disinclination to receive her caresses, but
returned them with equal ardour. The old beaver seeing what was going
on, turned his back upon them, and suffered them to be as kind to each
other as they pleased. At last, turning quickly round, while the
maiden, suspecting what was coming, and pretending to be abashed, ran
behind her mother, he said, 'To end this foolery, what say you to
marrying my daughter? She is well brought up, and is the most
industrious girl in the village. She will flap more wall with her tail
in a day than any maiden in the nation; she will gnaw down a larger
tree betwixt the rising of the sun and the coming of the shadows than
many a smart beaver of the other sex. As for her wit, try her at the
game of the dish, and see who gets up master; and for cleanliness,
look at her petticoat?' Our father answered that he did not doubt that
she was industrious and cleanly, able to gnaw down a very large tree,
and to use her tail to very good purpose; that he loved her much, and
wished to make her the mother of his children. And thereupon the
bargain was concluded."

These two stories, the one taken from Icelandic saga, the other from
American Indian tradition, shew clearly the oneness which the
uncultivated mind believes to exist between the soul of man and the
soul of beast. The same sentiments actuate both man and brute, and if
their actions are unlike, it is because of the difference in their
formation. The soul within is identical, but the external accidents of
body are unlike.

Among many rude as well as cultivated people, the body is regarded as
a mere garment wrapped around the soul. The Buddist looks upon
identity as existing in the soul alone, and the body as no more
constituting identity, than the clothes he puts on or takes off. He
exists as a spirit; for convenience he vests himself in a body;
sometimes that body is human, sometimes it is bestial. As his soul
rises in the spiritual scale, the nobler is the animal form which it
tenants. Budda himself passed through various stages of existence; in
one he was a hare, and his soul being noble, led him to immolate
himself, in order that he might offer hospitality to Indra, who, in
the form of an old man, craved of him food and shelter. The Buddist
regards animals with reverence; an ancestor may be tenanting the body
of the ox he is driving, or a descendant may be running at his side
barking, and wagging his tail. When he falls into an ecstasy, his soul
is leaving his body for a little while, it is laying aside its raiment
of flesh and blood and bone, to return to it once more when the trance
is over. But this idea is not confined to Buddists, it is common
everywhere. The spirit or soul is supposed to be imprisoned in the
body, the body is but the lantern through which the spirit shines,
"the corruptible body" is believed to "press down the soul," and the
soul is unable to attain to perfect happiness till it has shuffled off
this earthy coil. Butler regards the members of the body as so many
instruments used by the soul for the purpose of seeing, hearing,
feeling, &c., just as we use telescopes or crutches, and which may be
rejected without injury to our individuality.

The late Mr. J. Holloway, of the Bank of England, brother to the
engraver of that name, related of himself that, being one night in
bed, and unable to sleep, he had fixed his eyes and thoughts with
uncommon intensity on a beautiful star that was shining in at the
window, when he suddenly found his spirit released from his body and
soaring into space. But instantly seized with anxiety for the anguish
of his wife, if she discovered his body apparently dead beside her, he
returned, and re-entered it with difficulty. He described that
returning as a returning from light into darkness, and that whilst the
spirit was free, he was alternately in the light or the dark,
accordingly as his thoughts were with his wife or with the star.
Popular mythology in most lands regards the soul as oppressed by the
body, and its liberation is considered a deliverance from the "burden"
of the flesh. Whether the soul is at all able to act or express itself
without a body, any more than a fire is able to make cloth without the
apparatus of boiler and machinery, is a question which has not
commended itself to the popular mind. But it may be remarked that the
Christian religion alone is that which raises the body to a dignity
equal to that of the soul, and gives it a hope of ennoblement and
resurrection never dreamed of in any mythological system.

But the popular creed, in spite of the most emphatic testimony of
Scripture, is that the soul is in bondage so long as it is united to a
body, a creed entirely in accordance with that of Buddism.

If the body be but the cage, as a poet [1] of our own has been
pleased to call it, in which dwells the imprisoned soul, it is quite
possible for the soul to change its cage. If the body be but a vesture
clothing the soul, as the Buddist asserts, it is not improbable that
it may occasionally change its vesture.

[1. VAUGHN, _Sitex Scintillans_.]

This is self-evident, and thus have arisen the countless tales of
transformation and transmigration which are found all over the world.
That the same view of the body as a mere clothing of the soul was
taken by our Teutonic and Scandinavian ancestors, is evident even from
the etymology of the words _leichnam_, _lkhama_, used to express the
soulless body.

I have already spoken of the Norse word _hamr_, I wish now to make
some further remarks upon it. _Hamr_ is represented in Anglo-Saxon by
_hama_, _homa_, in Saxon by _hamo_, in old High German by _hamo_, in
old French by _homa_, _hama_, to which are related the Gothic
_gahamon_, _ufar-hamon_, _ana-hamon_, {Greek _e?ndesai_}, {Greek
_e?pendesai_}; _and-hamon_, _af-hamon_, {Greek _a?pekdein_} {Greek
_e?kdesai?_} thence also the old High German _hemidi_, and the
modern _Hemde_, garment. In composition we find this word, as
_lk-hagnr_, in old Norse; in old High German _lk-hamo_, Anglo-Saxon
_lk-hama_, and _flsc-hama_, Old Saxon, _lk-hamo_, modern German
_Leich-nam_, a body, _i. e._ a garment of flesh, precisely as the
bodies of birds are called in old Norse _fjar-hamr_, in Anglo-Saxon
_feerhoma_, in Old Saxon _fetherhamo_, or feather-dresses and the
bodies of wolves are called in old Norse _lfshamr_, and seals' bodies
in Farose _kpahamr_. The significance of the old verb _a hamaz_ is
now evident; it is to migrate from one body to another, and
_hama-skipti_ is a transmigration of the soul. The method of this
transmigration consisted in simply investing the body with the skin of
the animal into which the soul was to migrate. When Loki, the Northern
god of evil, went in quest of the stolen Idunn, he borrowed of Freyja
her falcon dress, and at once became, to all intents and purposes, a
falcon. Thiassi pursued him as he left Thrymheimr, having first taken
upon him an eagle's dress, and thereby become an eagle.

In order to seek Thor's lost hammer, Loki borrowed again of Freyja her
feather dress, and as be flew away in it, the feathers sounded as they
winnowed the breeze (_fjarhamr duni_).

In like manner Cdmon speaks of an evil spirit flying away in
feather-dress: "t he mid feerhomon flegan meahte, windan on
wolkne" (Gen. ed. Gr. 417), and of an angel, "uo ar suogan quam
engil es alowaldon obhana fun radure faran an feerhamon" (Hlj. 171,
23), the very expression made use of when speaking of a bird: "farad
an fearhamun" (Hlj. 50,11).

The soul, in certain cases, is able to free itself from the body and
to enter that of beast or man--in this form stood the myth in various
theological systems.

Among the Finns and Lapps it is not uncommon for a magician to fall
into a cataleptic condition, and during the period his soul is
believed to travel very frequently in bodily form, having assumed that
of any animal most suitable for its purpose. I have given instances in
a former chapter. The same doctrine is evident in most cases of
lycanthropy. The patient is in a state of trance, his body is watched,
and it remains motionless, but his soul has migrated into the carcase
of a wolf, which it vivifies, and in which it runs its course. A
curious Basque story shows that among this strange Turanian people,
cut off by such a flood of Aryan nations from any other members of its
family, the same superstition remains. A huntsman was once engaged in
the chase of it bear among the Pyreneean peaks, when Bruin turned
suddenly on him and hugged him to death, but not before he had dealt
the brute its mortal wound. As the huntsman expired, he breathed his
soul into the body of the bear, and thenceforward ranged the mountains
as a beast.

One of the tales of the Sanskrit book of fables, the _Pantschatantra_,
affords such a remarkable testimony to the Indian belief in
metempsychosis, that I am tempted to give it in abstract.

A king was one day passing through the marketplace of his city, when
he observed a hunchbacked merryandrew, whose contortions and jokes
kept the bystanders in a roar of laughter. Amused with the fellow, the
king brought him to his palace. Shortly after, in the hearing of the
clown, a necromancer taught the monarch the art of sending his soul
into a body not his own.

Some little while after this, the monarch, anxious to put in practice
his newly acquired knowledge, rode into the forest accompanied by his
fool, who, he believed, had not heard, or, at all events comprehended,
the lesson. They came upon the corpse of a Brahmin lying in the depth
of the jungle, where he had died of thirst. The king, leaving his
horse, performed the requisite ceremony, and instantly his soul had
migrated into the body of the, Brahmin, and his own lay as dead upon
the ground. At the same moment, however, the hunchback deserted his
body, and possessed himself of that which had been the king's, and
shouting farewell to the dismayed monarch, he rode back to the palace,
where he was received with royal honours. But it was not long before
the queen and one of the ministers discovered that a screw was
somewhere loose, and when the quondam king, but now Brahmin, arrived
and told his tale, a plot was laid for the recovery of his body. The
queen asked her false husband whether it were possible to make her
parrot talk, and he in a moment of uxorious weakness promised to make
it speak. He laid his body aside, and sent his soul into the parrot.
Immediately the true king jumped out of his Brahmin body and resumed
that which was legitimately his own, and then proceeded, with the
queen, to wring the neck of the parrot.

But besides the doctrine of metempsychosis, which proved such a
fertile mother of fable, there was another article of popular
mythology which gave rise to stories of transformation. Among the
abundant superstitions existing relative to transformation, three
shapes seem to have been pre-eminently affected--that of the swan,
that of the wolf, and that of the serpent. In many of the stories of
those transformed, it is evident that the individual who changes shape
is regarded with superstitious reverence, as a being of a higher
order--of a divine nature. In Christian countries, everything relating
to heathen mythology was regarded with a suspicious eye by the clergy,
and any miraculous powers not sanctioned by the church were attributed
to the evil one. The heathen gods became devils, and the marvels
related of them were supposed to be effected by diabolic agency. A
case of transformation which had shown the power of an ancient god,
was in Christian times considered as an instance of witchcraft. Thus
stories of transformation fell into bad odour, and those who changed
shapes were no longer regarded as heavenly beings, commanding
reverence, but as miserable witches deserving the stake.

In the infancy of the world, when natural phenomena were
ill-understood, expressions which to us are poetical were of a real
significance. When we speak of thunder rolling, we use an expression
which conveys no further idea than a certain likeness observed between
the detonations and the roll of a vehicle; but to the uninstructed
mind it was more. The primval savage knew not what caused thunder,
and tracing the resemblance between it and the sound of wheels, he at
once concluded that the chariot of the gods was going abroad, or that
the celestial spirits were enjoying a game of bowls.

We speak of fleecy clouds, because they appear to us soft and light as
wool, but the first men tracing the same resemblance, believed the
light vapours to be flocks of heavenly sheep. Or we say that the
clouds are flying: the savage used the same expression, as he looked
up at the mackerel sky, and saw in it flights of swans coursing over
the heavenly lake. Once more, we creep nearer to the winter fire,
shivering at the wind, which we remark is howling around the house,
and yet we do not suppose that the wind has a voice. The wild primval
men thought that it had, and because dogs and wolves howl, and the
wind howled, and because they had seen dogs and wolves, they concluded
that the storm-wind was a night-hound, or a monstrous wolf, racing
over the country in the darkness of the winter night, ravening for

Along with the rise of this system of explaining the operations of
nature by analogies in the bestial world, another conclusion forced
itself on the untaught mind. The flocks which strayed in heaven were
no earthly sheep, but were the property of spiritual beings, and were
themselves perhaps spiritual; the swans which flew aloft, far above
the topmost peak of the Himalaya, were no ordinary swans, but were
divine and heavenly. The wolf which howled so wildly in the long
winter night, the hounds, whose bay sounded so. dismally through the
shaking black forest, were no mundane wolves and hounds, but issued
from the home of a divine hunter, and were themselves wondrous,
supernatural beings of godlike race.

And so, the clouds having become swans, the swan-clouds were next
believed to be divine beings, valkyries, apsaras, and the like, seen
by mortals in their feather-dresses, but appearing among the gods as
damsels. The storm-wind having been supposed to be a wolf, next was
taken to be a tempestuous god, who delighted to hunt on earth in
lupine form.

I have mentioned also the serpent shape, as being one very favourite
in mythology. The ancient people saw the forked and writhing
lightning, and supposed it to be a heavenly fiery serpent, a serpent
which had godlike powers, which was in fact a divine being,
manifesting himself to mortals under that form. Among the North
American Indians, the lightning is still regarded as the great
serpent, and the thunder is supposed to be his hissing.

"Ah!" exclaimed a Magdeburg peasant to a German professor, during a
thunder-storm, as a vivid forked gleam shot to earth, "what a glorious
snake was that!" And this resemblance did not escape the Greeks.

{Greek _!likes d? e?klmpousi steroph~s kspuroi_}.

_sch. Prom._ 1064.

{Greek _drkonta pursnwton, !s ?platon a?mfelikts
!lik? e?frorei, ktanw'n_}.

_Eurip. Herc. F._ 395.

And according to Aristotle, {Greek _e!likai_} are the lightnings,
{Greek _grammoeidw~s fermenoi_}.

It is so difficult for us to unlearn all we know of the nature of
meteorological phenomena, so hard for us to look upon atmospheric
changes as though we knew nothing of the laws that govern them, that
we are disposed to treat such explanations of popular myths as I have
given above, as fantastic and improbable.

But among the ancients all solutions of natural problems were
tentative, and it is only after the failure of every attempt made to
explain these phenomena on supernatural grounds that we have been
driven to the discovery of the true interpretation. Yet among the
vulgar a vast amount of mythology remains, and is used still to
explain atmospheric mysteries. The other day a Yorkshire girl, when
asked why she was not afraid of thunder, replied because it was only
her Father's voice; what knew she of the rushing together of air to
fill the vacuum caused by the transit of the electric fluid? to her
the thunder-clap was the utterance of the Almighty. Still in North
Germany does the peasant say of thunder, that the angels are playing
skittles aloft, and of the snow, that they are shaking up the
feather-beds in heaven.

The myth of the dragon is one which admits, perhaps more than any
other, of identification with a meteorological phenomenon, and
presents to us as well the phase of transition from theriomorphosis to

The dragon of popular mythology is nothing else than the thunderstorm,
rising at the horizon, rushing with expanded, winnowing, black pennons
across the sky, darting out its forked fiery tongue, and belching
fire. In a Slovakian legend, the dragon sleeps in a mountain cave
through the winter months, but, at the equinox, bursts forth--"In a
moment the heaven was darkened and became black as pitch, only
illumined by the fire which flashed from dragon's jaws and eyes. The
earth shuddered, the stones rattled down the mountain sides into the
glens. Right and left, left and right, did the dragon lash his tail,
overthrowing pines and beeches, snapping them as rods. He evacuated
such floods of water that the mountain torrents were full. But after a
while his power was exhausted, he lashed no more with his tail,
ejected no more water, and spat no more fire."

I think it is impossible not to see in this description, a spring-tide
thunderstorm. But to make it more evident that the untaught mind did
regard such a storm as a dragon, I think the following quotation from
_John of Brompton's Chronicle_ will convince the most sceptical:
"Another remarkable thing is this, that took place during a certain
month in the Gulf of Satalia (on the coast of Pamphylia). There
appeared a great and black dragon which came in clouds, and let down
his head into the water, whilst his tail seemed turned to the sky; and
the dragon drew the water to him by drinking, with such avidity, that,
if any ship, even though laden with men or any other heavy articles,
had been near him when drinking, it would nevertheless have been
sucked up and carried on high. In order however to avoid this danger,
it is necessary, when people see it, at once to make a great uproar,
and to shout and hammer tables, so that the dragon, hearing the noise,
and the voices of those shouting, may withdraw himself far off. Some
people, however, assert that this is not a dragon, but the sun drawing
up the waters of the sea; which seems more probable." [1] Such is
John of Brompton's account of a waterspout. In Greek mythology the
dragon of the storm has begun to undergo anthropomorphosis. Typhus is
the son of Tartarus and Terra; the storm rising from the horizon may


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