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Title: The Book of Were-Wolves
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                       THE BOOK OF WERE-WOLVES

                        by SABINE BARING-GOULD


                              CHAPTER I


                              CHAPTER II


                 Definition of Lycanthropy--Marcellus
     Sidetes--Virgil--Herodotus--Ovid--Pliny--Agriopas--Story from
           Petronius--Arcadian Legends--Explanation offered

                             CHAPTER III

                      THE WERE-WOLF IN THE NORTH

  Norse Traditions--Manner in which the Change was effected--Vlundar
  Kvda--Instances from the Völsung Saga--Hrolf's Saga--Kraka--Faroëse
           Poem--Helga Kvida--Vatnsdæla Saga--Eyrbyggja Saga

                              CHAPTER IV


    Advantage of the Study of Norse Literature--Bear and Wolf-skin
 Dresses--The Berserkir--Their Rage--The Story of Thorir--Passages from
  the Aigla--The Evening Wolf--Skallagrim and his Son-Derivation of the
      Word "Hamr:" of "Vargr"--Laws affecting Outlaws--"To become a

                              CHAPTER V


  Stories from Olaus Magnus of Livonian Were-wolves--Story from Bishop
      Majolus--Story of Albertus Pericofcius--Similar occurrence at
       Prague--Saint Patrick--Strange incident related by John of
   Nüremberg--Bisclaveret--Courland Were-wolves--Pierre Vidal--Pavian
         Lycanthropist--Bodin's Stories--Forestus' Account of a
                 Lycanthropist--Neapolitan Were-wolf

                              CHAPTER VI

                         A CHAPTER OF HORRORS

    Pierre Bourgot and Michel Verdung--'Me Hermit of S. Bonnot--The
  Gandillon Family--Thievenne Paget--The Tailor of Châlons--Roulet 69

                             Chapter VII

                             JEAN GRENIER

   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 85

                             CHAPTER VIII


  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,
                    Béarnais, and Icelandic Tales

                              CHAPTER IX


   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
                     Lucius--Self-deception 130

                              CHAPTER X


  Metempsychosis--Sympathy between Men and Beasts--Finnbog and the
        Bear--Osage and the Beaver--The Connexion of Soul and
  Body--Buddism--Case of Mr. Holloway--Popular ideas concerning the
        Body--The derivation of the German Leichnam--Feather
  Dresses--Transmigration of Souls--A Basque Story--Story from the
 Pantschatantra--Savage ideas regarding Natural Phenomena--Thunder,
  Lightning, and Cloud--The origin of the Dragon--John of Bromton's
  Dragon a Waterspout--The Legend of Typhoeus--Allegorizing of the
   Effects of a Hurricane--Anthropomorphosis--The Cirrus Cloud, a
     Heavenly Swan--Urvaci--The Storm-cloud a Daemon--Vritra and
          Rakschasas--Story of a Brahmin and a Rakschasas

                              CHAPTER XI


        Introduction--History of Gilles de Laval--The Castle of
 Machecoul--Surrender of the Marshal--Examination of Witnesses--Letter
   of De Retz--The Duke of Brittany reluctant to move--The Bishop of

                             CHAPTER XII


        The Appearance of the Marshal--Pierre de l'Hospital--The
    Requisition--The Trial adjourned--Meeting of the Marshal and his
    Servants--The Confession of Henriet--Pontou persuaded to confess
 all--The adjourned Trial not hurried on--The hesitation of the Duke of

                             CHAPTER XIII


  The adjourned Trial--The Marshal Confesses--The Case handed over to
   the Ecclesiastical Tribunal--Prompt steps taken by the Bishop--The
        Sentence--Ratified by the Secular Court--The Execution

                             CHAPTER XIV

                         A GALICIAN WERE-WOLF

  The Inhabitants of Austrian Galicia--The Hamlet of Polomyja--Summer
    Evening in the Forest--The Beggar Swiatek--A Girl disappears--A
 School-boy vanishes--A Servant-girl lost--Another Boy carried of--The
 Discovery made by the Publican of Polomyja--Swiatek locked up--Brought
                     to Dabkow--Commits suicide

                              Chapter XV


    Ghouls--Story from Fornari--Quotation from Apuleius--Incident
 mentioned by Marcassus--Cemeteries of Paris violated--Discovery of
                 Violator--Confession of M. Bertrand

                             CHAPTER XVI

                       A SERMON ON WERE-WOLVES

         The Discourses of Dr. Johann--The Sermon--Remarks

                       THE BOOK OF WERE-WOLVES.

                              CHAPTER I.


I shall never forget the walk I took one night in Vienne, after having
accomplished the examination of an unknown Druidical relic, the Pierre
labie, at La Rondelle, near Champigni. I had learned of the existence
of this cromlech only on my arrival at Champigni in the afternoon, and
I had started to visit the curiosity without calculating the time it
would take me to reach it and to return. Suffice it to say that I
discovered the venerable pile of grey stones as the sun set, and that
I expended the last lights of evening in planning and sketching. I
then turned my face homeward. My walk of about ten miles had wearied
me, coming at the end of a long day's posting, and I had lamed myself
in scrambling over some stones to the Gaulish relic.

A small hamlet was at no great distance, and I betook myself thither,
in the hopes of hiring a trap to convey me to the posthouse, but I was
disappointed. Few in the place could speak French, and the priest,
when I applied to him, assured me that he believed there was no better
conveyance in the place than a common charrue with its solid wooden
wheels; nor was a riding horse to be procured. The good man offered to
house me for the night; but I was obliged to decline, as my family
intended starting early on the following morning.

Out spake then the mayor--"Monsieur can never go back to-night across
the flats, because of the--the--" and his voice dropped; "the

"He says that he must return!" replied the priest in patois. "But who
will go with him?"

"Ah, ha,! M. le Curé. It is all very well for one of us to accompany
him, but think of the coming back alone!"

"Then two must go with him," said the priest, and you can take care of
each other as you return."

"Picou tells me that he saw the were-wolf only this day se'nnight,"
said a peasant; "he was down by the hedge of his buckwheat field, and
the sun had set, and he was thinking of coming home, when he heard a
rustle on the far side of the hedge. He looked over, and there stood
the wolf as big as a calf against the horizon, its tongue out, and its
eyes glaring like marsh-fires. Mon Dieu! catch me going over the
marais to-night. Why, what could two men do if they were attacked by
that wolf-fiend?"

"It is tempting Providence," said one of the elders of the village;"
no man must expect the help of God if he throws himself wilfully in
the way of danger. Is it not so, M. le Curé? I heard you say as much
from the pulpit on the first Sunday in Lent, preaching from the

"That is true," observed several, shaking their heads.

"His tongue hanging out, and his eyes glaring like marsh-fires!" said
the confidant of Picou.

"Mon Dieu! if I met the monster, I should run," quoth another.

"I quite believe you, Cortrez; I can answer for it that you would,"
said the mayor.

"As big as a calf," threw in Picou's friend.

"If the loup-garou were _only_ a natural wolf, why then, you see"--the
mayor cleared his throat--"you see we should think nothing of it; but,
M. le Curé, it is a fiend, a worse than fiend, a man-fiend,--a worse
than man-fiend, a man-wolf-fiend."

"But what is the young monsieur to do?" asked the priest, looking from
one to another.

"Never mind," said I, who had been quietly listening to their patois,
which I understood. "Never mind; I will walk back by myself, and if I
meet the loup-garou I will crop his ears and tail, and send them to M.
le Maire with my compliments."

A sigh of relief from the assembly, as they found themselves clear of
the difficulty.

"Il est Anglais," said the mayor, shaking his head, as though he meant
that an Englishman might face the devil with impunity.

A melancholy flat was the marais, looking desolate enough by day, but
now, in the gloaming, tenfold as desolate. The sky was perfectly
clear, and of a soft, blue-grey tinge; illumined by the new moon, a
curve of light approaching its western bed. To the horizon reached a
fen, blacked with pools of stagnant water, from which the frogs kept
up an incessant trill through the summer night. Heath and fern covered
the ground, but near the water grew dense masses of flag and bulrush,
amongst which the light wind sighed wearily. Here and there stood a
sandy knoll, capped with firs, looking like black splashes against the
grey sky; not a sign of habitation anywhere; the only trace of men
being the white, straight road extending for miles across the fen.

That this district harboured wolves is not improbable, and I confess
that I armed myself with a strong stick at the first clump of trees
through which the road dived.

This was my first introduction to were-wolves, and the circumstance of
finding the superstition still so prevalent, first gave me the idea of
investigating the history and the habits of these mythical creatures.

I must acknowledge that I have been quite unsuccessful in obtaining a
specimen of the animal, but I have found its traces in all directions.
And just as the palæontologist has constructed the labyrinthodon out
of its foot-prints in marl, and one splinter of bone, so may this
monograph be complete and accurate, although I have no chained
were-wolf before me which I may sketch and describe from the life.

The traces left are indeed numerous enough, and though perhaps like
the dodo or the dinormis, the werewolf may have become extinct in our
age, yet he has left his stamp on classic antiquity, he has trodden
deep in Northern snows. has ridden rough-shod over the mediævals, and
has howled amongst Oriental sepulchres. He belonged to a bad breed,
and we are quite content to be freed from him and his kindred, the
vampire and the ghoul. Yet who knows! We may be a little too hasty in
concluding that he is extinct. He may still prowl in Abyssinian
forests, range still over Asiatic steppes, and be found howling
dismally in some padded room of a Hanwell or a Bedlam.

In the following pages I design to investigate the notices of
were-wolves to be found in the ancient writers of classic antiquity,
those contained in the Northern Sagas, and, lastly, the numerous
details afforded by the mediæval authors. In connection with this I
shall give a sketch of modern folklore relating to Lycanthropy.

It will then be seen that under the veil of mythology lies a solid
reality, that a floating superstition holds in solution a positive

This I shall show to be an innate craving for blood implanted in
certain natures, restrained under ordinary circumstances, but breaking
forth occasionally, accompanied with hallucination, leading in most
cases to cannibalism. I shall then give instances of persons thus
afflicted, who were believed by others, and who believed themselves,
to be transformed into beasts, and who, in the paroxysms of their
madness, committed numerous murders, and devoured their victims.

I shall next give instances of persons suffering from the same passion
for blood, who murdered for the mere gratification of their natural
cruelty, but who were not subject to hallucinations, nor were addicted
to cannibalism.

I shall also give instances of persons filled with the same
propensities who murdered and ate their victims, but who were
perfectly free from hallucination.

                             CHAPTER II.


What is Lycanthropy? The change of manor woman into the form of a
wolf, either through magical means, so as to enable him or her to
gratify the taste for human flesh, or through judgment of the gods in
punishment for some great offence.

This is the popular definition. Truly it consists in a form of
madness, such as may be found in most asylums.

Among the ancients this kind of insanity went by the names of
Lycanthropy, Kuanthropy, or Boanthropy, because those afflicted with
it believed themselves to be turned into wolves, dogs, or cows. But in
the North of Europe, as we shall see, the shape of a bear, and in

Africa that of a hyæna, were often selected in preference. A mere
matter of taste! According to Marcellus Sidetes, of whose poem {Greek
_perì lukanðrw'pou_} a fragment exists, men are attacked with this
madness chiefly in the beginning of the year, and become most furious
in February; retiring for the night to lone cemeteries, and living
precisely in the manner of dogs and wolves.

Virgil writes in his eighth Eclogue:--

    Has herbas, atque hæc Ponto mihi lecta venena
    Ipse dedit Mris; nascuntur plurima Ponto.
    His ego sæpe lupum fieri et se conducere sylvis
    Mrim, sæpe animas imis excire sepulchris,
    Atque satas alio, vidi traducere messes.

And Herodotus:--"It seems that the Neuri are sorcerers, if one is to
believe the Scythians and the Greeks established in Scythia; for each
Neurian changes himself, once in the year, into the form of a wolf,
and he continues in that form for several days, after which he resumes
his former shape."--(Lib. iv. c. 105.)

See also Pomponius Mela (lib. ii. c. 1) "There is a fixed time for
each Neurian, at which they change, if they like, into wolves, and
back again into their former condition."

But the most remarkable story among the ancients is that related by
Ovid in his "Metamorphoses," of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, who,
entertaining Jupiter one day, set before him a hash of human flesh, to
prove his omniscience, whereupon the god transferred him into a
wolf:-- [1]

[1. OVID. Met. i. 237; PAUSANIAS, viii. 2, § 1; TZETZE _ad Lycoph._
481; ERATOSTH. _Catas._ i. 8.]

    In vain he attempted to speak; from that very instant
    His jaws were bespluttered with foam, and only he thirsted
    For blood, as he raged amongst flocks and panted for slaughter.
    His vesture was changed into hair, his limbs became crooked;
    A wolf,--he retains yet large trace of his ancient expression,
    Hoary he is as afore, his countenance rabid,
    His eyes glitter savagely still, the picture of fury.

Pliny relates from Evanthes, that on the festival of Jupiter Lycæus,
one of the family of Antæus was selected by lot, and conducted to the
brink of the Arcadian lake. He then hung his clothes on a tree and
plunged into the water, whereupon he was transformed into a wolf. Nine
years after, if he had not tasted human flesh, he was at liberty to
swim back and resume his former shape, which had in the meantime
become aged, as though he had worn it for nine years.

Agriopas relates, that Demænetus, having assisted at an Arcadian human
sacrifice to Jupiter Lycæus, ate of the flesh, and was at once
transformed into a wolf, in which shape he prowled about for ten
years, after which he recovered his human form, and took part in the
Olympic games.

The following story is from Petronius:--

"My master had gone to Capua to sell some old clothes. I seized the
opportunity, and persuaded our guest to bear me company about five
miles out of town; for he was a soldier, and as bold as death. We set
out about cockcrow, and the moon shone bright as day, when, coming
among some monuments. my man began to converse with the stars, whilst
I jogged along singing and counting them. Presently I looked back
after him, and saw him strip and lay his clothes by the side of the
road. My heart was in my mouth in an instant, I stood like a corpse;
when, in a crack, he was turned into a wolf. Don't think I'm joking: I
would not tell you a lie for the finest fortune in the world.

"But to continue: after he was turned into a wolf, he set up a howl
and made straight for the woods. At first I did not know whether I was
on my head or my heels; but at last going to take up his clothes, I
found them turned into stone. The sweat streamed from me, and I never
expected to get over it. Melissa began to wonder why I walked so late.
'Had you come a little sooner,' she said, 'you might at least have
lent us a hand; for a wolf broke into the farm and has butchered all
our cattle; but though be got off, it was no laughing matter for him,
for a servant of ours ran him through with a pike. Hearing this I
could not close an eye; but as soon as it was daylight, I ran home
like a pedlar that has been eased of his pack. Coming to the place
where the clothes had been turned into stone, I saw nothing but a pool
of blood; and when I got home, I found my soldier lying in bed, like
an ox in a stall, and a surgeon dressing his neck. I saw at once that
he was a fellow who could change his skin (_versipellis_), and never
after could I eat bread with him, no, not if you would have killed me.
Those who would have taken a different view of the case are welcome to
their opinion; if I tell you a lie, may your genii confound me!"

As every one knows, Jupiter changed himself into a bull; Hecuba became
a bitch; Actæon a stag; the comrades of Ulysses were transformed into
swine; and the daughters of Prtus fled through the fields believing
themselves to be cows, and would not allow any one to come near them,
lest they should be caught and yoked.

S. Augustine declared, in his _De Civitate Dei_, that he knew an old
woman who was said to turn men into asses by her enchantments.

Apuleius has left us his charming romance of the _Golden Ass_, in
which the hero, through injudicious use of a magical salve, is
transformed into that long-eared animal.

It is to be observed that the chief seat of Lycanthropy was Arcadia,
and it has been very plausibly suggested that the cause might he
traced to the following circumstance:--The natives were a pastoral
people, and would consequently suffer very severely from the attacks
and depredations of wolves. They would naturally institute a sacrifice
to obtain deliverance from this pest, and security for their flocks.
This sacrifice consisted in the offering of a child, and it was
instituted by Lycaon. From the circumstance of the sacrifice being
human, and from the peculiarity of the name of its originator, rose
the myth.

But, on the other hand, the story is far too widely spread for us to
attribute it to an accidental origin, or to trace it to a local

Half the world believes, or believed in, were-wolves, and they were
supposed to haunt the Norwegian forests by those who had never
remotely been connected with Arcadia: and the superstition had
probably struck deep its roots into the Scandinavian and Teutonic
minds, ages before Lycaon existed; and we have only to glance at
Oriental literature, to see it as firmly engrafted in the imagination
of the Easterns.

                             CHAPTER III.

                     THE WERE-WOLF IN THE NORTH.

In Norway and Iceland certain men were said to be _eigi einhamir_, not
of one skin, an idea which had its roots in paganism. The full form of
this strange superstition was, that men could take upon them other
bodies, and the natures of those beings whose bodies they assumed. The
second adopted shape was called by the same name as the original
shape, _hamr_, and the expression made use of to designate the
transition from one body to another, was at _skipta hömum_, or _at
hamaz_; whilst the expedition made in the second form, was the hamför.
By this transfiguration extraordinary powers were acquired; the
natural strength of the individual was doubled, or quadrupled; he
acquired the strength of the beast in whose body he travelled, in
addition to his own, and a man thus invigorated was called _hamrammr_.

The manner in which the change was effected, varied. At times, a dress
of skin was cast over the body, and at once the transformation was
complete; at others, the human body was deserted, and the soul entered
the second form, leaving the first body in a cataleptic state, to all
appearance dead. The second hamr was either borrowed or created for
the purpose. There was yet a third manner of producing this effect-it
was by incantation; but then the form of the individual remained
unaltered, though the eyes of all beholders were charmed so that they
could only perceive him under the selected form.

Having assumed some bestial shape, the man who is _eigi einhammr_ is
only to be recognized by his eyes, which by no power can be changed.
He then pursues his course, follows the instincts of the beast whose
body he has taken, yet without quenching his own intelligence. He is
able to do what the body of the animal can do, and do what he, as man,
can do as well. He may fly or swim, if be is in the shape of bird or
fish; if he has taken the form of a wolf, or if he goes on a
_gandreið_, or wolf's-ride, he is fall of the rage and malignity of
the creatures whose powers and passions he has assumed.

I will give a few instances of each of the three methods of changing
bodies mentioned above. Freyja and Frigg had their falcon dresses in
which they visited different regions of the earth, and Loki is said to
have borrowed these, and to have then appeared so precisely like a
falcon, that he would have escaped detection, but for the malicious
twinkle of his eyes. In the Vælundar kviða is the following passage:--

    I.                    I.

    Meyjar flugu sunnan   From the south flew the maidens
    Myrkvið igögnum       Athwart the gloom,
    Alvitr unga           Alvit the young,
    Orlög drýgja;         To fix destinies;
    þær á savarströnd     They on the sea-strand
    Settusk at hvilask,   Sat them to rest,
    Dró sir suðrnar       These damsels of the south
    Dýrt lín spunnu.      Fair linen spun.

    II.                   II.

    Ein nam þeirra        One of them took
    Egil at verja         Egil to press,
    Fögr mær fíra         Fair maid, in her
    Faðmi ljósum;         Dazzling arms.
    Önnur var Svanhvít,   Another was Svanhwit,
    Svanfjaðrar dró;      Who wore swan feathers;
    En in þriðja          And the third,
    þeirra systir         Their sister,
    Var i hvítan          Pressed the white
    Háls Völundar.        Neck of Vlund.

The introduction of Smund tells us that these charming young ladies
were caught when they had laid their swan-skins beside them on the
shore, and were consequently not in a condition to fly.

In like manner were wolves' dresses used. The following curious
passage is from the wild Saga of the Völsungs:--

"It is now to be told that Sigmund thought Sinfjötli too young to help
him in his revenge, and he wished first to test his powers; so during
the summer they plunged deep into the wood and slew men for their
goods, and Sigmund saw that he was quite of the Völsung stock. . . .
Now it fell out that as they went through the forest, collecting
monies, that they lighted on a house in which were two men sleeping,
with great gold rings an them; they had dealings with witchcraft, for
wolf-skins hung up in the house above them; it was the tenth day on
which they might come out of their second state. They were kings'
sons. Sigmund and Sinfjötli got into the habits, and could not get out
of them again, and the nature of the original beasts came over them,
and they howled as wolves--they learned "both of them to howl. Now
they went into the forest, and each took his own course; they made the
agreement together that they should try their strength against as many
as seven men, but not more, and. that he who was ware of strife should
utter his wolf's howl.

"'Do not fail in this,' said Sigmund, 'for you are young and daring,
and men would be glad to chase you.' Now each went his own course; and
after that they had parted Sigmund found men, so he howled; and when
Sinfjötli heard that, he ran up and slew them all-then they separated.
And Sinfjötli had not been long in the wood before he met with. eleven
men; he fell upon them and slew them every one. Then he was tired, so
he flung himself under an oak to rest. Up came Sigmund and said, 'Why
did you not call out?' Sinfjötli replied, 'What was the need of asking
your help to kill eleven men?'

"Sigmund flew at him and rent him so that he fell, for he had bitten
through his throat. That day they could not leave their wolf-forms.
Sigmund laid him on his back and bare him home to the hall, and sat
beside him, and said, 'Deuce take the wolf-forms!"'--Völsung Saga, c.

There is another curious story of a were-wolf in the same Saga, which
I must relate.

"Now he did as she requested, and hewed down a great piece of timber,
and cast it across the feet of those ten brothers seated in a row, in
the forest; and there they sat all that day and on till night. And at
midnight there came an old she-wolf out of the forest to them, as they
sat in the stocks, and she was both huge and grimly. Now she fell upon
one of them, and bit him to death, and after she had eaten him all up,
she went away. And next morning Signy sent a trusty man to her
brothers, to know how it had fared with them. When he returned he told
her of the death of one, and that grieved her much, for she feared it
might fare thus with them all, and she would be unable to assist them.

"In short, nine nights following came the same she-wolf at midnight,
and devoured them one after another till all were dead, except
Sigmund, and he was left alone. So when the tenth night came, Signy
sent her trusty man to Sigmund, her brother, with honey in his hand,
and said that he was to smear it over the face of Sigmund, and to fill
his mouth with it. Now he went to Sigmund, and did as he was bid,
after which he returned home. And during the night came the same
she-wolf, as was her wont, and reckoned to devour him, like his

"Now she snuffed at him, where the honey was smeared, and began to
lick his face with her tongue, and presently thrust her tongue into
his mouth. He bore it ill, and bit into the tongue of the she-wolf;
she sprang up and tried to break loose, setting her feet against the
stock, so as to snap it asunder: but he held firm, and ripped the
tongue out by the roots, so that it was the death of the wolf. It is
the opinion of some men that this beast was the mother of King
Siggeir, and that she had taken this form upon her through devilry and
witchcraft."--(c. 5.)

There is another story bearing on the subject in the Hrolfs Saga
Kraka, which is pretty; it is as follows:--

"In the north of Norway, in upland-dales, reigned a king called Hring;
and he had a son named Björn. Now it fell out that the queen died,
much lamented by the king, and by all. The people advised him to marry
again, and so be sent men south to get him a wife. A gale and fierce
storm fell upon them, so that they had to turn the helm, and run
before the wind, and so they came north to Finnmark, where they spent
the winter. One day they went inland, and came to a house in which sat
two beautiful women, who greeted them well, and inquired whence they
had come. They replied by giving an account of their journey and their
errand, and then asked the women who they were, and why they were
alone, and far from the haunts of men, although they were so comely
and engaging. The elder replied--that her name was Ingibjorg, and that
her daughter was called Hvit, and that she was the Finn king's
sweetheart. The messengers decided that they would return home, if
Hvit would come with them and marry King Hring. She agreed, and they
took her with them and met the king who was pleased with her, and had
his wedding feast made, and said that he cared not though she was not
rich. But the king was very old, and that the queen soon found out.

"There was a Carle who had a farm not far from the king's dwelling; he
had a wife, and a daughter, who was but a child, and her name was
Bera; she was very young and lovely. Björn the king's son, and Bera
the Carle's daughter, were wont, as children, to play together, and
they loved each other well. The Carle was well to do, he had been out
harrying in his young days, and he was a doughty champion. Björn and
Bera loved each other more and more, and they were often together.

Time passed, and nothing worth relating occurred; but Björn, the
king's son, waxed strong and tall; and he was well skilled in all
manly exercises.

"King Hring was often absent for long, harrying foreign shores, and
Hvit remained at home and governed the land. She was not liked of the
people. She was always very pleasant with Björn, but he cared little
for her. It fell out once that the King Hring went abroad, and he
spake with his queen that Björn should remain at home with her, to
assist in the government, for he thought it advisable, the queen being
haughty and inflated with pride.

"The king told his son Björn that he was to remain at home, and rule
the land with the queen; Björn replied that he disliked the plan, and
that he had no love for the queen; but the king was inflexible, and
left the land with a great following. Björn walked home after his
conversation with the king, and went up to his place, ill-pleased and
red as blood. The queen came to speak with him, and to cheer him; and
spake friendly with him, but he bade her be of. She obeyed him that
time. She often came to talk with him, and said how much pleasanter it
was for them to be together, than to have an old fellow like Hring in
the house.

"Björn resented this speech, and struck her a box in the ear, and bade
her depart, and he spurned her from him. She replied that this was
ill-done to drive and thrust her away: and 'You think it better,
Björn, to sweetheart a Carle's daughter, than to have my love and
favour, a fine piece of condescension and a disgrace it is to you!
But, before long, something will stand in the way of your fancy, and
your folly.' Then she struck at him with a wolf-skin glove, and said,
that he should become a rabid and grim wild bear; and 'You shall eat
nothing but your father's sheep, which you shall slay for your food,
and never shall you leave this state.'

After that, Björn disappeared, and none knew what had become of him;
and men sought but found him not, as was to be expected. We must now
relate how that the king's sheep were slaughtered, half a score at a
time, and it was all the work of a grey bear, both huge and grimly.

"One evening it chanced that the Carle's daughter saw this savage bear
coming towards her, looking tenderly at her, and she fancied that she
recognized the eyes of Björn, the king's son, so she made a slight
attempt to escape; then the beast retreated, but she followed it, till
she came to a cave. Now when she entered the cave there stood before
her a man, who greeted Bera, the Carle's daughter; and she recognized
him, for he was Björn, Hring's son. Overjoyed were they to meet. So
they were together in the cave awhile, for she would not part from him
when she had the chance of being with him; but he said that this was
not proper that she should be there by him, for by day he was a beast,
and by night a man.

"Hring returned from his harrying, and he was told the news, of what
had taken place during his absence; how that Björn, his son, had
vanished, and also, how that a monstrous beast was up the country, and
was destroying his flocks. The queen urged the king to have the beast
slain, but he delayed awhile.

"One night, as Bera and Björn were together, he said to
her:--'Methinks to-morrow will be the day of my death, for they will
come out to hunt me down. But for myself I care not, for it is little
pleasure to live with this charm upon me, and my only comfort is that
we are together; but now our union must be broken. I will give you the
ring which is under my left hand. You will see the troop of hunters
to-morrow coming to seek me; and when I am dead go to the king, and
ask him to give you what is under the beast's left front leg. He will

"He spoke to her of many other things, till the bear's form stole over
him, and he went forth a bear. She followed him, and saw that a great
body of hunters had come over the mountain ridges, and had a number of
dogs with them. The bear rushed away from the cavern, but the dogs and
the king's men came upon him, and there was a desperate struggle. He
wearied many men before he was brought to bay, and had slain all the
dogs. But now they made a ring about him, and he ranged around it.,
but could see no means of escape, so he turned to where the king
stood, and he seized a man who stood next him, and rent him asunder;
then was the bear so exhausted that he cast himself down flat, and, at
once, the men rushed in upon him and slew him. The Carle's daughter
saw this, and she went up to the king, and said,--'Sire! wilt thou
grant me that which is under the bear's left fore-shoulder?' The king
consented. By this time his men had nearly flayed the bear; Bera went
up and plucked away the ring, and kept it, but none saw what she took,
nor had they looked for anything. The king asked her who she was, and
she gave a name, but not her true name.

"The king now went home, and Bera was in his company. The queen was
very joyous, and treated her well, and asked who she was; but Bera
answered as before.

"The queen now made a great feast, and had the bear's flesh cooked for
the banquet. The Carle's daughter was in the bower of the queen, and
could not escape, for the queen had a suspicion who she was. Then she
came to Bera with a dish, quite unexpectedly, and on it was bear's
flesh, and she bade Bera eat it. She would not do so. 'Here is a
marvel!' said the queen; 'you reject the offer which a queen herself
deigns to make to you. Take it at once, or something worse will befall
you.' She bit before her, and she ate of that bite; the queen cut
another piece, and looked into her mouth; she saw that one little
grain of the bite had gone down, but Bera spat out all the rest from
her mouth, and said she would take no more, though she were tortured
or killed.

"'Maybe you have had sufficient,' said the queen, and she
laughed."--(Hrolfs Saga Kraka, c. 24-27, condensed.)

In the Faroëse song of Finnur hin friði, we have the following
Hegar íð Finnur hetta sær.     When this peril Finn saw,
Mannspell var at meini,      That witchcraft did him harm,
Skapti hann seg í varglíki:     Then he changed himself into a were-wolf:

Hann feldi allvæl fleiri.      He slew many thus.

The following is from the second Kviða of Helga Hundingsbana (stroph.

    May the blade bite,
    Which thou brandishest
    Only on thyself,
    when it Chimes on thy head.
    Then avenged will be
    The death of Helgi,
    When thou, as a wolf,
    Wanderest in the woods,
    Knowing nor fortune
    Nor any pleasure,
    Haying no meat,
    Save rivings of corpses.

In all these cases the change is of the form: we shall now come to
instances in which the person who is changed has a double shape, and
the soul animates one after the other.

The Ynglinga Saga (c. 7) says of Odin, that "he changed form; the
bodies lay as though sleeping or dead, but he was a bird or a beast, a
fish, or a woman, and went in a twinkling to far distant lands, doing
his own or other people's business." In like manner the Danish king
Harold sent a warlock to Iceland in the form of a whale, whilst his
body lay stiff and stark at home. The already quoted Saga of Hrolf
Krake gives us another example, where Bödvar Bjarki, in the shape of a
huge bear, fights desperately with the enemy, which has surrounded the
hall of his king, whilst his human body lies drunkenly beside the
embers within.

In the Vatnsdæla Saga, there is a curious account of three Finns, who
were shut up in a hut for three nights, and ordered by Ingimund, a
Norwegian chief, to visit Iceland and inform him of the lie of the
country, where he was to settle. Their bodies became rigid, and they
sent their souls the errand, and, on their awaking at the end of three
days, gave an accurate description of the Vatnsdal, in which Ingimund
was eventually to establish himself. But the Saga does not relate
whether these Finns projected their souls into the bodies of birds or

The third manner of transformation mentioned, was that in which the
individual was not changed himself, but the eyes of others were
bewitched, so that they could not detect him, but saw him only under a
certain form. Of this there are several examples in the Sagas; as, for
instance, in the Hromundar Saga Greypsonar, and in the Fostbræðra
Saga. But I will translate the most curious, which is that of Odd,
Katla's son, in the Eyrbyggja Saga.--(c. 20.)

"Geirrid, housewife in Mafvahlið, sent word into Bolstad, that she was
ware of the fact that Odd, Katla's son, had hewn off Aud's hand.

"Now when Thorarinn and Arnkell heard that, they rode from home with
twelve men. They spent the night in Mafvahlið, and rode on next
morning to Holt: and Odd was the only man in the house.

"Katla sat on the high seat spinning yarn, and she bade Odd sit beside
her; also, she bade her women sit each in her place, and hold their
tongues. 'For,' said she, 'I shall do all the talking.' Now when
Arnkell and his company arrived, they walked straight in, and when
they came into the chamber, Katla greeted Arnkell, and asked the news.
He replied that there was none, and he inquired after Odd. Katla said
that he had gone to Breidavik. 'We shall ransack the house though,'
quoth Arnkell. 'Be it so,' replied Katla, and she ordered a girl to
carry a light before them, and unlock the different parts of the
house. All they saw was Katla spinning yarn off her distaff. Now they
search the house, but find no Odd, so they depart. But when they had
gone a little way from the garth, Arnkell stood still and said: 'How
know we but that Katla has hoodwinked us, and that the distaff in her
hand was nothing more than Odd.' 'Not impossible!' said Thorarinn;
'let us turn back.' They did so; and when those at Holt raw that they
were returning, Katla said to her maids, 'Sit still in your places,
Odd and I shall go out.'

"Now as they approached the door, she went into the porch, and began
to comb and clip the hair of her son Odd. Arnkell came to the door and
saw where Katla was, and she seemed to be stroking her goat, and
disentangling its mane and beard and smoothing its wool. So he and his
men went into the house, but found not Odd. Katla's distaff lay
against the bench, so they thought that it could not have been Odd,
and they went away. However, when they had come near the spot where
they had turned before, Arnkell said, 'Think you not that Odd may have
been in the goat's form?' 'There is no saying,' replied Thorarinn;
'but if we turn back we will lay hands on Katla.' 'We can try our luck
again,' quoth Arnkell; 'and see what comes of it.' So they returned.

"Now when they were seen on their way back, Katla bade Odd follow her;
and she lea him to the ash-heap, and told him to lie there and not to
stir on any account. But when Arnkell, and his men came to the farm,
they rushed into the chamber, and saw Katla seated in her place,
spinning. She greeted them and said that their visits followed with
rapidity. Arnkell replied that what she said was true. His comrades
took the distaff and cut it in twain. 'Come now!' said Katla, 'you
cannot say, when you get home, that you have done nothing, for you
have chopped up my distaff.' Then Arnkell and the rest hunted high and
low for Odd, but could not find him; indeed they saw nothing living
about the place, beside a boar-pig which lay under the ash-heap, so
they went away once more.

"Well, when they got half-way to Mafvahlið, came Geirrid to meet them,
with her workmen. 'They had not gone the right way to work in seeking
Odd,' she said, 'but she would help them.' So they turned back again.
Geirrid had a blue cloak on her. Now when the party was seen and
reported to Katla, and it was said that they were thirteen in number,
and one had on a coloured dress, Katla exclaimed, 'That troll Geirrid
is come! I shall not be able to throw a glamour over their eyes any
more.' She started up from her place and lifted the cushion of the
seat, and there was a hole and a cavity beneath: into this she thrust
Odd, clapped the cushion over him, and sat down, saying she felt sick
at heart.

"Now when they came into the room, there were small greetings. Geirrid
cast of her the cloak and went up to Katla, and took the seal-skin bag
which she had in her hand, and drew it over the head of Katla. [1]
Then Geirrid bade them break up the seat. They did so, and found Odd.
Him they took and carried to Buland's head, where they hanged him. . .
. But Katla they stoned to death under the headland."

[1. A precaution against the "evil eye." Compare _Gisla Saga
Surssonnar_, p. 34. _Laxdæla Saga_, cc. 37, 38.]

                             CHAPTER IV.


One of the great advantages of the study of old Norse or Icelandic
literature is the insight given by it into the origin of world-wide
superstitions. Norse tradition is transparent as glacier ice, and its
origin is as unmistakable.

Mediæval mythology, rich and gorgeous, is a compound like Corinthian
brass, into which many pure ores have been fused, or it is a full
turbid river drawn from numerous feeders, which had their sources in
remote climes. It is a blending of primæval Keltic, Teutonic,
Scandinavian, Italic, and Arab traditions, each adding a beauty, each
yielding a charm, bat each accretion rendering the analysis more

Pacciuchelli says:--"The Anio flows into the Tiber; pure as crystal it
meets the tawny stream, and is lost in it, so that there is no more
Anio, but the united stream is all Tiber." So is it with each
tributary to the tide of mediæval mythology. The moment it has blended
its waters with the great and onward rolling flood, it is impossible
to detect it with certainty; it has swollen the stream, but has lost
its own identity. If we would analyse a particular myth, we must not
go at once to the body of mediæval superstition, but strike at one of
the tributaries before its absorption. This we shall proceed to do,
and in selecting Norse mythology, we come upon abundant material,
pointing naturally to the spot whence it has been derived, as glacial
moraines indicate the direction which they have taken, and point to
the mountains whence they have fallen. It will not be difficult for us
to arrive at the origin of the Northern belief in were-wolves, and the
data thus obtained will be useful in assisting us to elucidate much
that would otherwise prove obscure in mediæval tradition.

Among the old Norse, it was the custom for certain warriors to dress
in the skins of the beasts they had slain, and thus to give themselves
an air of ferocity, calculated to strike terror into the hearts of
their foes.

Such dresses are mentioned in some Sagas, without there being any
supernatural qualities attached to them. For instance, in the Njála
there is mention of a man _i geitheðni_, in goatskin dress. Much in
the same way do we hear of Harold Harfagr having in his company a band
of berserkir, who were all dressed in wolf-skins, _ulfheðnir_, and
this expression, wolf-skin coated, is met with as a man's name. Thus
in the Holmverja Saga, there is mention of a Björn, "son of
_Ulfheðin_, wolfskin coat, son of _Ulfhamr_, wolf-shaped, son of
_Ulf_, wolf, son of _Ulfhamr_, wolf-shaped, who could change forms."

But the most conclusive passage is in the Vatnsdæla Saga, and is as
follows:--"Those berserkir who were called _ulfheðnir_, had got
wolf-skins over their mail coats" (c. xvi.) In like manner the word
_berserkr_, used of a man possessed of superhuman powers, and subject.
to accesses of diabolical fury, was originally applied to one of those
doughty champions who went about in bear-sarks, or habits made of
bear-skin over their armour. I am well aware that Björn Halldorson's
derivation of berserkr, bare of sark, or destitute of clothing, has
been hitherto generally received, but Sveibjörn Egilsson, an
indisputable authority, rejects this derivation as untenable, and
substitutes for it that which I have adopted.

It may be well imagined that a wolf or a bear-skin would make a warm
and comfortable great-coat to a man, whose manner of living required
him to defy all weathers, and that the dress would not only give him
an appearance of grimness and ferocity, likely to produce an
unpleasant emotion in the breast of a foe, but also that the thick fur
might prove effectual in deadening the blows rained on him in

The berserkr was an object of aversion and terror to the peaceful
inhabitants of the land, his avocation being to challenge quiet
country farmers to single combat. As the law of the land stood in
Norway, a man who declined to accept a challenge, forfeited all his
possessions, even to the wife of his bosom, as a poltroon unworthy of
the protection of the law, and every item of his property passed into
the hands of his challenger. The berserkr accordingly had the unhappy
man at his mercy. If he slew him, the farmer's possessions became his,
and if the poor fellow declined to fight, he lost all legal right to
his inheritance. A berserkr would invite himself to any feast, and
contribute his quota to the hilarity of the entertainment, by snapping
the backbone, or cleaving the skull, of some merrymaker who incurred
his displeasure, or whom he might single out to murder, for no other
reason than a desire to keep his hand in practice.

It may well be imagined that popular superstition went along with the
popular dread of these wolf-and-bear-skinned rovers, and that they
were believed to be endued with the force, as they certainly were with
the ferocity, of the beasts whose skins they wore.

Nor would superstition stop there, but the imagination of the
trembling peasants would speedily invest these unscrupulous disturbers
of the public peace with the attributes hitherto appropriated to
trolls and jötuns.

The incident mentioned in the Völsung Saga, of the sleeping men being
found with their wolf-skins hanging to the wall above their heads, is
divested of its improbability, if we regard these skins as worn over
their armour, and the marvellous in the whole story is reduced to a
minimum, when we suppose that Sigmund and Sinfjötli stole these for
the purpose of disguising themselves, whilst they lived a life of
violence and robbery.

In a similar manner the story of the northern "Beauty and Beast," in
Hrolf's Saga Kraka, is rendered less improbable, on the supposition
that Björn was living as an outlaw among the mountain fastnesses in a
bearskin dress, which would effectually disguise him--_all but his
eyes_--which would gleam out of the sockets in his hideous visor,
unmistakably human. His very name, Björn, signifies a bear; and these
two circumstances may well have invested a kernel of historic fact
with all the romance of fable; and if divested of these supernatural
embellishments, the story would resolve itself into the very simple
fact of there having been a King Hring of the Updales, who was at
variance with his son, and whose son took to the woods, and lived a
berserkr life, in company with his mistress, till he was captured and
slain by his father.

I think that the circumstance insisted on by the Saga-writers, of the
eyes of the person remaining unchanged, is very significant, and
points to the fact that the skin was merely drawn over the body as a

But there was other ground for superstition to fasten on the
berserkir, and invest them with supernatural attributes.

No fact in connection with the history of the Northmen is more firmly
established, on reliable evidence, than that of the berserkr rage
being a species of diabolical possession. The berserkir were said to
work themselves up into a state of frenzy, in which a demoniacal power
came over them, impelling them to acts from which in their sober
senses they would have recoiled. They acquired superhuman force, and
were as invulnerable and as insensible to pain as the Jansenist
convulsionists of S. Medard. No sword would wound them, no fire would
barn them, a club alone could destroy them, by breaking their bones,
or crushing in their skulls. Their eyes glared as though a flame
burned in the sockets, they ground their teeth, and frothed at the
mouth; they gnawed at their shield rims, and are said to have
sometimes bitten them through, and as they rushed into conflict they
yelped as dogs or howled as wolves. [1]

[1. Hic (Syraldus) septem filios habebat, tanto veneficiorum usu
callentes, ut sæpe subitis furoris viribus instincti solerent ore
torvum infremere, scuta morsibus attrectare, torridas fauce prunas
absumere, extructa quævis incendia penetrare, nec posset conceptis
dementiæ motus alio remedii genere quam aut vinculorum injuriis aut
cædis humanæ piaculo temperari. Tantam illis rabiem site sævitia
ingenii sive furiaram ferocitas inspirabat.--_Saxo Gramm_. VII.]

According to the unanimous testimony of the old Norse historians, the
berserkr rage was extinguished by baptism, and as Christianity
advanced, the number of these berserkir decreased.

But it must not be supposed that this madness or possession came only
on those persons who predisposed themselves to be attacked by it;
others were afflicted with it, who vainly struggled against its
influence, and who deeply lamented their own liability to be seized
with these terrible accesses of frenzy. Such was Thorir Ingimund's
son, of whom it is said, in the _Vatnsdæla Saga_, that "at times there
came over Thorir berserkr fits, and it was considered a sad misfortune
to such a man, as they were quite beyond control."

The manner in which he was cured is remarkable; pointing as it does to
the craving in the heathen mind for a better and more merciful

"Thorgrim of Kornsá had a child by his concubine Vereydr, and, by
order of his wife, the child was carried out to perish.

"The brothers (Thorsteinn and Thorir) often met, and it was now the
turn of Thorsteinn to visit Thorir, and Thorir accompanied him
homeward. On their way Thorsteinn asked Thorir which he thought was
the first among the brethren; Thorir answered that the reply was easy,
for 'you are above us all in discretion and talent; Jökull is the best
in all perilous adventures, but I,' he added, 'I am the least worth of
us brothers, because the berserkr fits come over me, quite against my
will, and I wish that you, my brother, with your shrewdness, would
devise some help for me.'

"Thorsteinn said,--'I have heard that our kinsman, Thorgrim, has just
suffered his little babe to be carried out, at the instigation of his
wife. That is ill done. I think also that it is a grievous matter for
you to be different in nature from other men.'

"Thorir asked how he could obtain release from his affliction . . . .
Then said Thorsteinn, 'Now will I make a vow to Him who created the
sun, for I ween that he is most able to take the ban of you, and I
will undertake for His sake, in return, to rescue the babe and to
bring it up for him, till He who created man shall take it to
Himself-for this I reckon He will do!' After this they left their
horses and sought the child, and a thrall of Thorir had found it near
the Marram river. They saw that a kerchief had been spread over its
face, but it had rumpled it up over its nose; the little thing was all
but dead, but they took it up and flitted it home to Thorir's house,
and he brought the lad up, and called him Thorkell Rumple; as for the
berserkr fits, they came on him no more." (c. 37)

But the most remarkable passages bearing on our subject will be found
in the _Aigla_.

There was a man, Ulf (the wolf) by name, son of Bjálfi and Hallbera.
Ulf was a man so tall and strong that the like of him was not to be
seen in the land at that time. And when he was young he was out viking
expeditions and harrying . . . He was a great landed proprietor. It
was his wont to rise early, and to go about the men's work, or to the
smithies, and inspect all his goods and his acres; and sometimes he
talked with those men who wanted his advice; for he was a good
adviser, he was so clear-headed; however, every day, when it drew
towards dusk, he became so savage that few dared exchange a word with
him, for he was given to dozing in the afternoon.

"People said that he was much given to changing form (_hamrammr_), so
he was called the evening-wolf, _kveldúlfr_."--(c. 1.) In this and the
following passages, I do not consider _hamrammr_ to have its primary
signification of actual transformation, but simply to mean subject to
fits of diabolical possession, under the influence of which the bodily
powers were greatly exaggerated. I shall translate pretty freely from
this most interesting Saga, as I consider that the description given
in it of Kveldulf in his fits greatly elucidates our subject.

"Kveldulf and Skallagrim got news during summer of an expedition.
Skallagrim. was the keenest-sighted of men, and he caught sight of the
vessel of Hallvard and his brother, and recognized it at once. He
followed their course and marked the haven into which they entered at
even. Then he returned to his company, and told Kveldulf of what he
had seen . . . . Then they busked them and got ready both their boats;
in each they put twenty men, Kveldulf steering one and Skallagrim the
other, and they rowed in quest of the ship. Now when they came to the
place where it was, they lay to. Hallvard and his men had spread an
awning over the deck, and were asleep. Now when Kveldulf and his party
came upon them, the watchers who were seated at the end of the bridge
sprang up and called to the people on board to wake up, for there was
danger in the wind. So Hallvard and his men sprang to arms. Then came
Kveldulf over the bridge and Skallagrim with him into the ship.
Kveldulf had in his hand a cleaver, and he bade his men go through the
vessel and hack away the awning. But he pressed on to the
quarter-deck. It is said the were-wolf fit came over him and many of
his companions. They slow all the men who were before them. Skallagrim
did the same as he went round the vessel. He and his father paused not
till they had cleared it. Now when Kveldulf came upon the quarter-deck
he raised his cleaver, and smote Hallvard through helm and head, so
that the haft was buried in the flesh; but he dragged it to him so
violently that he whisked Hallvard into the air., and flung him
overboard. Skallagrim cleared the forecastle and slew Sigtrygg. Many
men flung themselves overboard, but Skallagrim's men took to the boat
and rowed about, killing all they found. Thus perished Hallvard with
fifty men. Skallagrim and his party took the ship and all the goods
which had belonged to Hallvard . . . and flitted it and the wares to
their own vessel, and then exchanged ships, lading their capture, but
quitting their own. After which they filled their old ship with
stones, brake it up and sank it. A good breeze sprang up, and they
stood out to sea.

It is said of these men in the engagement who were were-wolves, or
those on whom came the berserkr rage, that as long as the fit was on
them no one could oppose them, they were so strong; but when it had
passed off they were feebler than usual. It was the same with Kveldulf
when the were-wolf fit went off him--he then felt the exhaustion
consequent on the fight, and he was so completely 'done up,' that he
was obliged to take to his bed."

In like manner Skallagrim had his fits of frenzy, taking after his
amiable father.

"Thord and his companion were opposed to Skallagrim in the game, and
they were too much for him, he wearied, and the game went better with
them. But at dusk, after sunset, it went worse with Egill and Thord,
for Skallagrim became so strong that he caught up Thord and cast him
down, so that he broke his bones, and that was the death of him. Then
he caught at Egill. Thorgerd Brák was the name of a servant of
Skallagrim, who had been foster-mother to Egill. She was a woman of
great stature, strong as a man and a bit of a witch. Brák
exclaimed,--'Skallagrim! are you now falling upon your son?' (hamaz þú
at syni þínum). Then Skallagrim let go his hold of Egill and clutched
at her. She started aside and fled. Skallagrim. followed. They ran out
upon Digraness, and she sprang off the headland into the water.
Skallagrim cast after her a huge stone which struck her between the
shoulders, and she never rose after it. The place is now called Brak's
Sound."--(c. 40.)

Let it be observed that in these passages from the _Aigla_, the words
að hamaz, hamrammr, &c. are used without any intention of conveying
the idea of a change of bodily shape, though the words taken literally
assert it. For they are derived from _hamr_, a skin or habit; a word
which has its representatives in other Aryan languages, and is
therefore a primitive word expressive of the skin of a beast.

The Sanskrit ### _carmma_; the Hindustanee ### _cam_, hide or skin;
and ### _camra_, leather; the Persian ### _game_, clothing, disguise;
the Gothic _ham_ or _hams_, skin; and even the Italian _camicia_, and
the French _chemise_, are cognate words. [1]

[1. I shall have more to say on this subject in the chapter on the
Mythology of Lycanthropy.]

It seems probable accordingly that the verb _að hamaz_ was first
applied to those who wore the skins of savage animals, and went about
the country as freebooters; but that popular superstition soon
invested them with supernatural powers, and they were supposed to
assume the forms of the beasts in whose skins they were disguised. The
verb then acquired the significance "to become a were-wolf, to change
shape." It did not stop there, but went through another change of
meaning, and was finally applied to those who were afflicted with
paroxysms of madness or demoniacal possession.

This was not the only word connected with were-wolves which helped on
the superstition. The word _vargr_, a wolf, had a double significance,
which would be the means of originating many a were-wolf story.
_Vargr_ is the same as _u-argr_, restless; _argr_ being the same as
the Anglo-Saxon _earg_. _Vargr_ had its double signification in Norse.
It signified a wolf, and also a godless man. This _vargr_ is the
English _were_, in the word were-wolf, and the _garou_ or _varou_ in
French. The Danish word for were-wolf is _var-ulf_, the Gothic
_vaira-ulf_. In the _Romans de Garin_, it is "Leu warou, sanglante
beste." In the _Vie de S. Hildefons_ by Gauthier de Coinsi,--

    Cil lon desve, cil lou garol,
    Ce sunt deable, que saul
    Ne puent estre de nos mordre.

Here the loup-garou is a devil. The Anglo-Saxons regarded him as an
evil man: _wearg_, a scoundrel; Gothic _varys_, a fiend. But very
often the word meant no more than an outlaw. Pluquet in his _Contes
Populaires_ tells us that the ancient Norman laws said of the
criminals condemned to outlawry for certain offences, _Wargus esto_:
be an outlaw!

In like manner the Lex Ripuaria, tit. 87, "Wargus sit, hoe est
expulsus." In the laws of Canute, he is called verevulf. (_Leges
Canuti_, Schmid, i. 148.) And the Salic Law (tit. 57) orders: "Si quis
corpus jam sepultum effoderit, aut expoliaverit, _wargus_ sit." "If
any one shall have dug up or despoiled an already buried corpse, let
him be a varg."

Sidonius Apollinaris. says, "Unam feminam quam forte _vargorum_, hoc
enim nomine indigenas latrunculos nuncupant," as though the common
name by which those who lived a freebooter life were designated, was

In like manner Palgrave assures us in his _Rise and Progress of the
English Commonwealth_, that among the Anglo, Saxons an _utlagh_, or
out-law, was said to have the head of a wolf. If then the term _vargr_
was applied at one time to a wolf, at another to an outlaw who lived
the life of a wild beast, away from the haunts of men "he shall be
driven away as a wolf, and chased so far as men chase wolves
farthest," was the legal form of sentence--it is certainly no matter
of wonder that stories of out-laws should have become surrounded with
mythical accounts of their transformation into wolves.

But the very idiom of the Norse was calculated to foster this
superstition. The Icelanders had curious expressions which are
sufficiently likely to have produced misconceptions.

[1. SIDONIUS APOLLINARIS: Opera, lib. vi. ep. 4.]

Snorri not only relates that Odin changed himself into another form,
but he adds that by his spells he turned his enemies into boars. In
precisely the same manner does a hag, Ljot, in the Vatnsdæla Saga, say
that she could have turned Thorsteinn and Jökull into boars to run
about with the wild beasts (c. xxvi.); and the expression _verða at
gjalti_, or at _gjöltum_, to become a boar, is frequently met with in
the Sagas.

"Thereupon came Thorarinn and his men upon them, and Nagli led the
way; but when he saw weapons drawn he was frightened, and ran away up
the mountain, and became a boar. . . . And Thorarinn and his men took
to run, so as to help Nagli, lest he should tumble off the cliffs into
the sea" (Eyrbyggja Saga, c. xviii.) A similar expression occurs in
the Gisla Saga Surssonar, p. 50. In the Hrolfs Saga Kraka, we meet
with a troll in boar's shape, to whom divine honours are paid; and in
the Kjalnessinga Saga, c. xv., men are likened to boars--"Then it
began to fare with them as it fares with boars when they fight each
other, for in the same manner dropped their foam." The true
signification of _verða at gjalti_ is to be in such a state of fear as
to lose the senses; but it is sufficiently peculiar to have given rise
to superstitious stories.

I have dwelt at some length on the Northern myths relative to
were-wolves and animal transformations, because I have considered the
investigation of these all-important towards the elucidation of the
truth which lies at the bottom of mediæval superstition, and which is
nowhere so obtainable as through the Norse literature. As may be seen
from the passages quoted above at length, and from an examination of
those merely referred to, the result arrived at is pretty conclusive,
and may be summed up in very few words.

The whole superstructure of fable and romance relative to
transformation into wild beasts, reposes simply on this basis of
truth--that among the Scandinavian nations there existed a form of
madness or possession, under the influence of which men acted as
though they were changed into wild and savage brutes, howling, foaming
at the mouth, ravening for blood and slaughter, ready to commit any
act of atrocity, and as irresponsible for their actions as the wolves
and bears, in whose skins they often equipped themselves.

The manner in which this fact became invested with supernatural
adjuncts I have also pointed out, to wit, the change in the
significance of the word designating the madness, the double meaning
of the word _vargr_, and above all, the habits and appearance of the
maniacs. We shall see instances of berserkr rage reappearing in the
middle ages, and late down into our own times, not exclusively in the
North, but throughout France, Germany, and England, and instead of
rejecting the accounts given by chroniclers as fabulous, because there
is much connected with them which seems to be fabulous, we shall be
able to refer them to their true origin.

It may be accepted as an axiom, that no superstition of general
acceptance is destitute of a foundation of truth; and if we discover
the myth of the were-wolf to be widely spread, not only throughout
Europe, but through the whole world, we may rest assured that there is
a solid core of fact, round which popular superstition has
crystallized; and that fact is the existence of a species of madness,
during the accesses of which the person afflicted believes himself to
be a wild beast, and acts like a wild beast.

In some cases this madness amounts apparently to positive possession,
and the diabolical acts into which the possessed is impelled are so
horrible, that the blood curdles in reading them, and it is impossible
to recall them without a shudder.

                              CHAPTER V.


Olaus Magnus relates that--"In Prussia, Livonia, and Lithuania,
although the inhabitants suffer considerably from the rapacity of
wolves throughout the year, in that these animals rend their cattle,
which are scattered in great numbers through the woods, whenever they
stray in the very least, yet this is not regarded by them as such a
serious matter as what they endure from men turned into wolves.

"On the feast of the Nativity of Christ, at night, such a multitude of
wolves transformed from men gather together in a certain spot,
arranged among themselves, and then spread to rage with wondrous
ferocity against human beings, and those animals which are not wild,
that the natives of these regions suffer more detriment from these,
than they do from true and natural wolves; for when a human habitation
has been detected by them isolated in the woods, they besiege it with
atrocity, striving to break in the doors, and in the event of their
doing so, they devour all the human beings, and every animal which is
found within. They burst into the beer-cellars, and there they empty
the tuns of beer or mead, and pile up the empty casks one above
another in the middle of the cellar, thus showing their difference
from natural and genuine wolves. . . . Between Lithuania, Livonia, and
Courland are the walls of a certain old ruined castle. At this spot
congregate thousands, on a fixed occasion, and try their agility in
jumping. Those who are unable to bound over the wall, as; is often the
case with the fattest, are fallen upon with scourges by the captains
and slain." [1] Olaus relates also in c. xlvii. the story of a
certain nobleman who was travelling through a large forest with some
peasants in his retinue who dabbled in the black art. They found no
house where they could lodge for the night, and were well-nigh
famished. Then one of the peasants offered, if all the rest would hold
their tongues as to what he should do, that he would bring them a lamb
from a distant flock.

[1. OLAUS MAGNUS: _Historia de Vent. Septent_. Basil. 15, lib. xviii.
cap. 45.]

He thereupon retired into the depths of the forest and changed his
form into that of a wolf, fell upon the flock, and brought a lamb to
his companions in his mouth. They received it with gratitude. Then he
retired once more into the thicket, and transformed himself back again
into his human shape.

The wife of a nobleman in Livonia expressed her doubts to one of her
slaves whether it were possible for man or woman thus to change shape.
The servant at once volunteered to give her evidence of the
possibility. He left the room, and in another moment a wolf was
observed running over the country. The dogs followed him, and
notwithstanding his resistance, tore out one of his eyes. Next day the
slave appeared before his mistress blind of an eye.

Bp. Majolus [1] and Caspar Peucer [2] relate the following
circumstances of the Livonians:--

[1. MAJOLI _Episc. Vulturoniensis Dier. Canicul._ Helenopolis, 1612,
tom. ii. colloq. 3.]

[2. CASPAR PEUCER: _Comment. de Præcipuis Divin. Generibus_, 1591, p.

At Christmas a boy lame of a leg goes round the country summoning the
devil's followers, who are countless, to a general conclave. Whoever
remains behind, or goes reluctantly, is scourged by another with an
iron whip till the blood flows, and his traces are left in blood. The
human form vanishes, and the whole multitude become wolves. Many
thousands assemble. Foremost goes the leader armed with an iron whip,
and the troop follow, "firmly convinced in their imaginations that
they are transformed into wolves." They fall upon herds of cattle and
flocks of sheep, but they have no power to slay men. When they come to
a river, the leader smites the water with his scourge, and it divides,
leaving a dry path through the midst, by which the pack may go. The
transformation lasts during twelve days, at the expiration of which
period the wolf-skin vanishes, and the human form reappears. This
superstition was expressly forbidden by the church. "Credidisti, quod
quidam credere solent, ut illæ quæ a vulgo Parcæ vocantur, ipsæ, vel
sint vel possint hoc facere quod creduntur, id est, dum aliquis homo
nascitur, et tunc valeant illum designare ad hoc quod velint, ut
quandocunque homo ille voluerit, in lupum transformari possit, quod
vulgaris stultitia, _werwolf_ vocat, aut in aliam aliquam
figuram?"--Ap. Burchard. (d. 1024). In like manner did S. Boniface
preach against those who believed superstitiously in it strigas et
fictos lupos." (_Serm_. apud Mart. et Durand. ix. 217.)

In a dissertation by Müller [1] we learn, on the authority of
Cluverius and Dannhaverus (_Acad. Homilet._ p. ii.), that a certain
Albertus Pericofcius in Muscovy was wont to tyrannize over and harass
his subjects in the most unscrupulous manner. One night when he was
absent from home, his whole herd of cattle, acquired by extortion,
perished. On his return he was informed of his loss, and the wicked
man broke out into the most horrible blasphemies, exclaiming, "Let him
who has slain, eat; if God chooses, let him devour me as well."

[1. De {Greek _Lukanðrwpía_}. Lipsiæ, 1736.]

As he spoke, drops of blood fell to earth, and the nobleman,
transformed into a wild dog, rushed upon his dead cattle, tore and
mangled the carcasses and began to devour them; possibly he may be
devouring them still (_ac forsan hodie que pascitur_). His wife, then
near her confinement, died of fear. Of these circumstances there were
not only ear but also eye witnesses. (_Non ab auritis tantum, sed et
ocidatis accepi, quod narro_). Similarly it is related of a nobleman
in the neighbourhood of Prague, that he robbed his subjects of their
goods and reduced them to penury through his exactions. He took the
last cow from a poor widow with five children, but as a judgment, all
his own cattle died. He then broke into fearful oaths, and God
transformed him into a dog: his human head, however, remained.

S. Patrick is said to have changed Vereticus, king of Wales, into a
wolf, and S. Natalis, the abbot, to have pronounced anathema upon an
illustrious family in Ireland; in consequence of which, every male and
female take the form of wolves for seven years and live in the forests
and career over the bogs, howling mournfully, and appeasing their
hunger upon the sheep of the peasants. [1] A duke of Prussia,
according to Majolus, had a countryman brought for sentence before
him, because he had devoured his neighbour's cattle. The fellow was an
ill-favoured, deformed man, with great wounds in his face, which he
had received from dogs' bites whilst he had been in his wolf's form.
It was believed that he changed shape twice in the year, at Christmas
and at Midsummer. He was said to exhibit much uneasiness and
discomfort when the wolf-hair began to break out and his bodily shape
to change.

[1. PHIL. HARTUNG: _Conciones Tergeminæ_, pars ii. p. 367.]

He was kept long in prison and closely watched, lest he should become
a were-wolf during his confinement and attempt to escape, but nothing
remarkable took place. If this is the same individual as that
mentioned by Olaus Magnus, as there seems to be a probability, the
poor fellow was burned alive.

John of Nüremberg relates the following curious story. [1] A
priest was once travelling in a strange country, and lost his way in a
forest. Seeing a fire, he made towards it, and beheld a wolf seated
over it. The wolf addressed him in human-voice, and bade him not fear,
as "he was of the Ossyrian race, of which a man and a woman were
doomed to spend a certain number of years in wolf's form. Only after
seven years might they return home and resume their former shapes, if
they were still alive." He begged the priest to visit and console his
sick wife, and to give her the last sacraments. This the priest
consented to do, after some hesitation, and only when convinced of the
beasts being human beings, by observing that the wolf used his front
paws as hands, and when he saw the she-wolf peel off her wolf-skin
from her head to her navel, exhibiting the features of an aged woman.

[1. JOHN EUS. NIERENBERG _de Miracul. in Europa_, lib. ii. cap. 42.]

Marie de France says in the Lais du Bisclaveret:-- [1]

    Bisclaveret ad nun en Bretan
    Garwall Papelent li Norman.
    *    *    *    *
    Jadis le poet-hum oir
    Et souvent suleit avenir,
    Humes pluseirs Garwall deviendrent
    E es boscages meisun tindrent

[1. An epitome of this curious were-wolf tale will be found in Ellis's
_Early English Metrical Romances_.]

There is an interesting paper by Rhanæus, on the Courland were-wolves,
in the Breslauer Sammlung. [2] The author says,--"There are too
many examples derived not merely from hearsay, but received on
indisputable evidence, for us to dispute the fact, that Satan--if we
do not deny that such a being exists, and that he has his work in the
children of darkness--holds the Lycanthropists in his net in three

[2. Supplement III. _Curieuser_ und nutzbarer Anmerkungen von Natur
und Kunstgeschichten, gesammelt von Kanold. 1728.]

"1. They execute as wolves certain acts, such as seizing a sheep, or
destroying cattle, &c., not changed into wolves, which no scientific
man in Courland believes, but in their human frames, and with their
human limbs, yet in such a state of phantasy and hallucination, that
they believe themselves transformed into wolves, and are regarded as
such by others suffering under similar hallucination, and in this
manner run these people in packs as wolves, though not true wolves.

"2. They imagine, in deep sleep or dream, that they injure the cattle,
and this without leaving their conch; but it is their master who does,
in their stead, what their fancy points out, or suggests to him.

"3. The evil one drives natural wolves to do some act, and then
pictures it so well to the sleeper, immovable in his place, both in
dreams and at awaking, that he believes the act to have been committed
by himself."

Rhanæus, under these heads, relates three stories, which he believes
be has on good authority. The first is of a gentleman starting on a
journey, who came upon a wolf engaged in the act of seizing a sheep in
his own flock; he fired at it, and wounded it, so that it fled howling
to the thicket. When the gentleman returned from his expedition he
found the whole neighbourhood impressed with the belief that he had,
on a given day and hour, shot at one of his tenants, a publican,
Mickel. On inquiry, the man's Wife, called Lebba, related the
following circumstances, which were fully corroborated by numerous
witnesses:--When her husband had sown his rye he had consulted with
his wife how he was to get some meat, so as to have a good feast. The
woman urged him on no account to steal from his landlord's flock,
because it was guarded by fierce dogs. He, however, rejected her
advice, and Mickel fell upon his landlord's sheep, but he had suffered
and had come limping home, and in his rage at the ill success of his
attempt, had fallen upon his own horse and had bitten its throat
completely through. This took place in the year 1684.

In 1684, a man was about to fire upon a pack of wolves, when he heard
from among the troop a voice exclaiming--"Gossip! Gossip! don't fire.
No good will come of it."

The third story is as follows:--A lycanthropist was brought before a
judge and accused of witchcraft, but as nothing could be proved
against him, the judge ordered one of his peasants to visit the man in
his prison, and to worm the truth out of him, and to persuade the
prisoner to assist him in revenging himself upon another peasant who
had injured him; and this was to be effected by destroying one of the
man's cows; but the peasant was to urge the prisoner to do it
secretly, and, if possible, in the disguise of a wolf. The fellow
undertook the task, but he had great difficulty in persuading the
prisoner to fall in with his wishes: eventually, however, he
succeeded. Next morning the cow was found in its stall frightfully
mangled, but the prisoner had not left his cell: for the watch, who
had been placed to observe him, declared that he had spent the night
in profound sleep, and that he had only at one time made a slight
motion with his head and hands and feet.

Wierius and Forestus quote Gulielmus Brabantinus as an authority for
the fact, that a man of high position had been so possessed by the
evil one, that often during the year he fell into a condition in which
he believed himself to be turned into a wolf, and at that time he
roved in the woods and tried to seize and devour little children, but
that at last, by God's mercy, he recovered his senses.

Certainly the famous Pierre Vidal, the Don Quixote of Provençal
troubadours, must have had a touch of this madness, when, after having
fallen in love with a lady of Carcassone, named Loba, or the Wolfess,
the excess of his passion drove him over the country, howling like a
wolf, and demeaning himself more like an irrational beast than a
rational man.

He commemorates his lupine madness in the poem _A tal Donna_:--

[1. BRUCE WHYTE: _Histoire des Langues Romaines_, tom. ii. p. 248.]

    Crowned with immortal joys I mount
    The proudest emperors above,
    For I am honoured with the love
    Of the fair daughter of a count.
    A lace from Na Raymbauda's hand
    I value more than all the land
    Of Richard, with his Poïctou,
    His rich Touraine and famed Anjou.
        When _loup-garou_ the rabble call me,
    When vagrant shepherds hoot,
    Pursue, and buffet me to boot,
    It doth not for a moment gall me;
    I seek not palaces or halls,
    Or refuge when the winter falls;
    Exposed to winds and frosts at night,
    My soul is ravished with delight.
        Me claims my she-wolf (_Loba_) so divine:
    And justly she that claim prefers,
    For, by my troth, my life is hers
    More than another's, more than mine.

Job Fincelius [1] relates the sad story of a farmer of Pavia, who,
as a wolf, fell upon many men in the open country and tore them to
pieces. After much trouble the maniac was caught, and he then assured
his captors that the only difference which existed between himself and
a natural wolf, was that in a true wolf the hair grew outward, whilst
in him it struck inward. In order to put this assertion to the proof,
the magistrates, themselves most certainly cruel and bloodthirsty
wolves, cut off his arms and legs; the poor wretch died of the
mutilation. This took place in 1541. The idea of the skin being
reversed is a very ancient one: _versipellis_ occurs as a name of
reproach in Petronius, Lucilius, and Plautus, and resembles the Norse

[1. FINCELIUS _de Mirabilibus_, lib. xi.]

Fincelius relates also that, in 1542, there was such a multitude of
were-wolves about Constantinople that the Emperor, accompanied by his
guard, left the city to give them a severe correction, and slew one
hundred and fifty of them.

Spranger speaks of three young ladies who attacked a labourer, under
the form of cats, and were wounded by him. They were found bleeding in
their beds next morning.

Majolus relates that a man afflicted with lycanthropy was brought to
Pomponatius. The poor fellow had been found buried in hay, and when
people approached, he called to them to flee, as he was a were wolf,
and would rend them. The country-folk wanted to flay him, to discover
whether the hair grew inwards, but Pomponatius rescued the man and
cured him.

Bodin tells some were-wolf stories on good authority; it is a pity
that the good authorities of Bodin were such liars, but that, by the
way. He says that the Royal Procurator-General Bourdin had assured him
that he had shot a wolf, and that the arrow had stuck in the beast's
thigh. A few hours after, the arrow was found in the thigh of a man in
bed. In Vernon, about the year 1566, the witches and warlocks gathered
in great multitudes, under the shape of cats. Four or five men were
attacked in a lone place by a number of these beasts. The men stood
their ground with the utmost heroism, succeeded in slaying one puss,
and in wounding many others. Next day a number of wounded women were
found in the town, and they gave the judge an accurate account of all
the circumstances connected with their wounding.

Bodin quotes Pierre Marner, the author of a treatise on sorcerers, as
having witnessed in Savoy the transformation of men into wolves.
Nynauld [1] relates that in a village of Switzerland, near
Lucerne, a peasant was attacked by a wolf, whilst he was hewing
timber; he defended himself, and smote off a fore-leg of the beast.
The moment that the blood began to flow the wolf's form changed, and
he recognized a woman without her arm. She was burnt alive.

[1. NYNAULD, _De la Lycanthropie_. Paris, 1615, p. 52.]

An evidence that beasts are transformed witches is to be found in
their having no tails. When the devil takes human form, however, he
keeps his club-foot of the Satyr, as a token by which he may be
recognized. So animals deficient in caudal appendages are to be
avoided, as they are witches in disguise. The Thingwald should
consider the case of the Manx cats in its next session.

Forestus, in his chapter on maladies of the brain, relates a
circumstance which came under his own observation, in the middle of
the sixteenth century, at Alcmaar in the Netherlands. A peasant there
was attacked every spring with a fit of insanity; under the influence
of this he rushed about the churchyard, ran into the church, jumped
over the benches, danced, was filled with fury, climbed up, descended,
and never remained quiet. He carried a long staff in his hand, with
which he drove away the dogs, which flew at him and wounded him, so
that his thighs were covered with scars. His face was pale, his eyes
deep sunk in their sockets. Forestus pronounces the man to be a
lycanthropist, but he does not say that the poor fellow believed
himself to be transformed into a wolf. In reference to this case,
however, he mentions that of a Spanish nobleman who believed himself
to be changed into a bear, and who wandered filled with fury among the

Donatus of Altomare [1] affirms that he saw a man in the streets
of Naples, surrounded by a ring of people, who in his were-wolf frenzy
had dug up a corpse and was carrying off the leg upon his shoulders.
This was in the middle of the sixteenth century.

[1. _De Medend. Human. Corp_. lib. i. cap. 9.]

                             CHAPTER VI.

                        A CHAMBER OF HORRORS.

Pierre Bourgot and Michel Verdung--'Me Hermit of S. Bonnot--The
Gandillon Family--Thievenne Paget--The Tailor of Châlons--Roulet.

IN December, 1521, the Inquisitor-General for the diocese of Besançon,
Boin by name, heard a case of a sufficiently terrible nature to
produce a profound sensation of alarm in the neighbourhood. Two men
were under accusation of witchcraft and cannibalism. Their names were
Pierre Bourgot, or Peter the Great, as the people had nicknamed him
from his stature, and Michel Verdung. Peter had not been long under
trial, before he volunteered a full confession of his crimes. It
amounted to this:--

About nineteen years before, on the occasion of a New Year's market at
Poligny, a terrible storm had broken over the country, and among other
mischiefs done by it, was the scattering of Pierre's flock. "In vain,"
said the prisoner, "did I labour, in company with other peasants, to
find the sheep and bring them together. I went everywhere in search of

"Then there rode up three black horsemen, and the last said to me:
'Whither away? you seem to be in trouble?'

"I related to him my misfortune with my flock. He bade me pluck up my
spirits, and promised that his master would henceforth take charge of
and protect my flock., if I would only rely upon him. He told me, as
well, that I should find my strayed sheep very shortly, and he
promised to provide me with money. We agreed to meet again in four or
five days. My flock I soon found collected together. At my second
meeting I learned of the stranger that he was a servant of the devil.
I forswore God and our Lady and all saints and dwellers in Paradise. I
renounced Christianity, kissed his left hand, which was black and
ice-cold as that of a corpse. Then I fell on my knees and gave in my
allegiance to Satan. I remained in the service of the devil for two
years, and never entered a church before the end of mass, or at all
events till the holy water had been sprinkled, according to the desire
of my master, whose name I afterwards learned was Moyset.

"All anxiety about my flock was removed, for the devil had undertaken
to protect it and to keep off the wolves.

"This freedom from care, however, made me begin to tire of the devil's
service, and I recommenced my attendance at church, till I was brought
back into obedience to the evil one by Michel Verdung, when I renewed
my compact on the understanding that I should be supplied with money.

"In a wood near Chastel Charnon we met with many others whom I did not
recognize; we danced, and each had in his or her hand a green taper
with a blue flame. Still under the delusion that I should obtain
money, Michel persuaded me to move with the greatest celerity, and in
order to do this, after I had stripped myself, he smeared me with a
salve, and I believed myself then to be transformed into a wolf. I was
at first somewhat horrified at my four wolf's feet, and the fur with
which I was covered all at once, but I found that I could now travel
with the speed of the wind. This could not have taken place without
the help of our powerful master, who was present during our excursion,
though I did not perceive him till I had recovered my human form.
Michel did the same as myself.

"When we had been one or two hours in this condition of metamorphosis,
Michel smeared us again, and quick as thought we resumed our human
forms. The salve was given us by our masters; to me it was given by
Moyset, to Michel by his own master, Guillemin."

Pierre declared that he felt no exhaustion after his excursions,
though the judge inquired particularly whether he felt that
prostration after his unusual exertion, of which witches usually
complained. Indeed the exhaustion consequent on a were-wolf raid was
so great that the lycanthropist was often confined to his bed for
days, and could hardly move hand or foot, much in the same way as the
berserkir and _ham rammir_ in the North were utterly prostrated after
their fit had left them.

In one of his were-wolf runs, Pierre fell upon a boy of six or seven
years old, with his teeth, intending to rend and devour him, but the
lad screamed so loud that he was obliged to beat a retreat to his
clothes, and smear himself again, in order to recover his form and
escape detection. He and Michel, however, one day tore to pieces a
woman as she was gathering peas; and a M. de Chusnée, who came to her
rescue, was attacked by them and killed.

On another occasion they fell upon a little girl of four years old,
and ate her up, with the exception of one arm. Michel thought the
flesh most delicious.

Another girl was strangled by them, and her blood lapped up. Of a
third they ate merely a portion of the stomach. One evening at dusk,
Pierre leaped over a garden wall, and came upon a little maiden of
nine years old, engaged upon the weeding of the garden beds. She fell
on her knees and entreated Pierre to spare her; but he snapped the
neck, and left her a corpse, lying among her flowers. On this occasion
he does not seem to have been in his wolf's shape. He fell upon a goat
which he found in the field of Pierre Lerugen, and bit it in the
throat, but he killed it with a knife.

Michel was transformed in his clothes into a wolf, but Pierre was
obliged to strip, and the metamorphosis could not take place with him
unless he were stark naked.

He was unable to account for the manner in which the hair vanished
when he recovered his natural condition.

The statements of Pierre Bourgot were fully corroborated by Michel

Towards the close of the autumn of 1573, the peasants of the
neighbourhood of Dôle, in Franche Comté, were authorized by the Court
of Parliament at Dôle, to hunt down the were-wolves which infested the
country. The authorization was as follows:-- "According to the
advertisement made to the sovereign Court of Parliament at Dole, that,
in the territories of Espagny, Salvange, Courchapon, and the
neighbouring villages, has often been seen and met, for some time
past, a were-wolf, who, it is said, has already seized and carried off
several little children, so that they have not been seen since, and
since he has attacked and done injury in the country to some horsemen,
who kept him of only with great difficulty and danger to their
persons: the said Court, desiring to prevent any greater danger, has
permitted, and does permit, those who are abiding or dwelling in the
said places and others, notwithstanding all edicts concerning the
chase, to assemble with pikes, halberts, arquebuses, and sticks, to
chase and to pursue the said were-wolf in every place where they may
find or seize him; to tie and to kill, without incurring any pains or
penalties. . . . Given at the meeting of the said Court, on the
thirteenth day of the month September, 1573." It was some time,
however, before the loup-garou was caught.

In a retired spot near Amanges, half shrouded in trees, stood a small
hovel of the rudest construction; its roof was of turf, and its walls
were blotched with lichen. The garden to this cot was run to waste,
and the fence round it broken through. As the hovel was far from any
road, and was only reached by a path over moorland and through forest,
it was seldom visited, and the couple who lived in it were not such as
would make many friends. The man, Gilles Garnier, was a sombre,
ill-looking fellow, who walked in a stooping attitude, and whose pale
face, livid complexion, and deep-set eyes under a pair of coarse and
bushy brows, which met across the forehead, were sufficient to repel
any one from seeking his acquaintance. Gilles seldom spoke, and when
he did it was in the broadest patois of his country. His long grey
beard and retiring habits procured for him the name of the Hermit of
St. Bonnot, though no one for a moment attributed to him any
extraordinary amount of sanctity.

The hermit does not seem to have been suspected for some time, but one
day, as some of the peasants of Chastenoy were returning home from
their work, through the forest, the screams of a child and the deep
baying of a wolf, attracted their notice, and on running in the
direction whence the cries sounded, they found a little girl defending
herself against a monstrous creature, which was attacking her tooth
and nail, and had already wounded her severely in five places. As the
peasants came up, the creature fled on all fours into the gloom of the
thicket; it was so dark that it could not be identified with
certainty, and whilst some affirmed that it was a wolf, others thought
they had recognized the features of the hermit. This took place on the
8th November.

On the 14th a little boy of ten years old was missing, who had been
last seen at a short distance from the gates of Dole.

The hermit of S. Bonnot was now seized and brought to trial at Dole,
when the following evidence was extracted from him and his wife, and
substantiated in many particulars by witnesses.

On the last day of Michaelmas, under the form of a wolf, at a mile
from Dole, in the farm of Gorge, a vineyard belonging to Chastenoy,
near the wood of La Serre, Gilles Gamier had attacked a little maiden
of ten or twelve years old, and had slain her with his teeth and
claws; he had then drawn her into the wood, stripped her, gnawed the
flesh from her legs and arms, and had enjoyed his meal so much, that,
inspired with conjugal affection, he had brought some of the flesh
home for his wife Apolline.

Eight days after the feast of All Saints, again in the form of a
were-wolf, he had seized another girl, near the meadow land of La
Pouppe, on the territory of Athume and Chastenoy, and was on the point
of slaying and devouring her, when three persons came up, and he was
compelled to escape. On the fourteenth day after All Saints, also as a
wolf, he had attacked a boy of ten years old, a mile from Dôle,
between Gredisans and Menoté, and had strangled him. On that occasion
he had eaten all the flesh off his legs and arms, and had also
devoured a great part of the belly; one of the legs he had rent
completely from the trunk with his fangs.

On the Friday before the last feast of S. Bartholomew, he had seized a
boy of twelve or thirteen, under a large pear-trees near the wood of
the village Perrouze, and had drawn him into the thicket and killed
him, intending to eat him as he had eaten the other children, but the
approach of men hindered him from fulfilling his intention. The boy
was, however, quite dead, and the men who came up declared that Gilles
appeared as a man and not as a wolf. The hermit of S. Bonnot was
sentenced to be dragged to the place of public execution, and there to
be burned alive, a sentence which was rigorously carried out.

In this instance the poor maniac fully believed that actual
transformation into a wolf took place; he was apparently perfectly
reasonable on other points, and quite conscious of the acts he had

We come now to a more remarkable circumstance, the affliction of a
whole family with the same form of insanity. Our information is
derived from Boguet's _Discours de Sorciers_, 1603-1610.

Pernette Gandillon was a poor girl in the Jura, who in 1598 ran about
the country on all fours, in the belief that she was a wolf. One day
as she was ranging the country in a fit of lycanthropic madness, she
came upon two children who were plucking wild strawberries. Filled
with a sudden passion for blood, she flew at the little girl and would
have brought her down, had not her brother, a lad of four years old,
defended her lustily with a knife. Pernette, however, wrenched the
weapon from his tiny hand, flung him down and gashed his throat, so
that he died of the wound. Pernette was tom to pieces by the people in
their rage and horror.

Directly after, Pierre, the brother of Pernette Gandillon, was accused
of witchcraft. He was charged with having led children to the sabbath,
having made hail, and having run about the country in the form of a
wolf. The transformation was effected by means of a salve which he had
received from the devil. He had on one occasion assumed the form of a
hare, but usually he appeared as a wolf, and his skin became covered
with shaggy grey hair. He readily acknowledged that the charges
brought against him were well founded, and he allowed that he had,
during the period of his transformation, fallen on, and devoured, both
beasts and human beings. When he desired to recover his true form, he
rolled himself in the dewy grass. His son Georges asserted that he had
also been anointed with the salve, and had gone to the sabbath in the
shape of a wolf. According to his own testimony, he had fallen upon
two goats in one of his expeditions.

One Maundy-Thursday night he had lain for three hours in his bed in a
cataleptic state, and at the end of that time had sprung out of bed.
During this period he had been in the form of a wolf to the witches'

His sister Antoinnette confessed that she had made hail, and that she
had sold herself to the devil, who had appeared to her in the shape of
a black he-goat. She had been to the sabbath on several occasions.

Pierre and Georges in prison behaved as maniacs, running on all fours
about their cells and howling dismally. Their faces, arms, and legs
were frightfully scarred with the wounds they had received from dogs
when they had been on their raids. Boguet accounts for the
transformation not taking place, by the fact of their not having the
necessary salves by them.

All three, Pierre, Georges, and Antoinnette, were hung and burned.

Thievenne Paget, who was a witch of the most unmistakable character,
was also frequently changed into a she-wolf, according to her own
confession, in which state she had often accompanied the devil over
hill and dale, slaying cattle, and falling on and devouring children.
The same thing may be said of Clauda Isan Prost, a lame woman, Clauda
Isan Guillaume, and Isan Roquet, who owned to the murder of five

On the 14th of December, in the same year as the execution of the
Gandillon family (1598), a tailor of Châlons was sentenced to the
flames by the Parliament of Paris for lycanthropy. This wretched man
had decoyed children into his shop, or attacked them in the gloaming
when they strayed in the woods, had torn them with his teeth, and
killed them, after which he seems calmly to have dressed their flesh
as ordinary meat, and to have eaten it with great relish. The number
of little innocents whom he destroyed is unknown. A whole cask full of
bones was discovered in his house. The man was perfectly hardened, and
the details of his trial were so full of horrors and abominations of
all kinds, that the judges ordered the documents to be burned.

Again in 1598, a year memorable in the annals of lycanthropy, a trial
took place in Angers, the details of which are very terrible.

In a wild and unfrequented spot near Caude, some countrymen came one
day upon the corpse of a boy of fifteen, horribly mutilated and
bespattered with blood. As the men approached, two wolves, which had
been rending the body, bounded away into the thicket. The men gave
chase immediately, following their bloody tracks till they lost them;
when suddenly crouching among the bushes, his teeth chattering with
fear, they found a man half naked, with long hair and beard, and with
his hands dyed in blood. His nails were long as claws, and were
clotted with fresh gore, and shreds of human flesh.

This is one of the most puzzling and peculiar cases which come under
our notice.

The wretched man, whose name was Roulet, of his own accord stated that
he had fallen upon the lad and had killed him by smothering him, and
that he had been prevented from devouring the body completely by the
arrival of men on the spot.

Roulet proved on investigation to be a beggar from house to house, in
the most abject state of poverty. His companions in mendicity were his
brother John and his cousin Julien. He had been given lodging out of
charity in a neighbouring village, but before his apprehension he had
been absent for eight days.

Before the judges, Roulet acknowledged that he was able to transform
himself into a wolf by means of a salve which his parents had given
him. When questioned about the two wolves which had been seen leaving
the corpse, he said that he knew perfectly well who they were, for
they were his companions, Jean and Julian, who possessed the same
secret as himself. He was shown the clothes he had worn on the day of
his seizure, and he recognized them immediately; he described the boy
whom he had murdered, gave the date correctly, indicated the precise
spot where the deed had been done, and recognized the father of the
boy as the man who had first run up when the screams of the lad had
been heard. In prison, Roulet behaved like an idiot. When seized, his
belly was distended and hard; in prison he drank one evening a whole
pailful of water, and from that moment refused to eat or drink.

His parents, on inquiry, proved to be respectable and pious people,
and they proved that his brother John and his cousin Julien had been
engaged at a distance on the day of Roulet's apprehension.

"What is your name, and what your estate?" asked the judge, Pierre

"My name is Jacques Roulet, my age thirty-five; I am poor, and a

"What are you accused of having done?"

"Of being a thief--of having offended God. My parents gave me an
ointment; I do not know its composition."

"When rubbed with this ointment do you become a wolf?"

"No; but for all that, I killed and ate the child Cornier: I was a

"Were you dressed as a wolf?"

"I was dressed as I am now. I had my hands and my face bloody, because
I had been eating the flesh of the said child."

"Do your hands and feet become paws of a wolf?"

"Yes, they do."

"Does your head become like that of a wolf-your mouth become larger?"

"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 arrêt, mist l'appellation et la
sentence dont il avoit esté appel au néant, et, néanmoins, ordonna que
le dit Roulet serait mis à l'hospital Saint Germain des Prés, où on a
accoustumé de mettre les folz, pour y demeurer l'espace de deux ans,
afin d'y estre instruit et redressé tant de son esprit, que ramené à
la cognoissance de Dieu, que l'extrême pauvreté lui avoit fait

                             CHAPTER VII.

                             JEAN GRENIER

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 couchée_, 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.

                            CHAPTER VIII.


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,
Béarnais, 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 _wér_ signifies man; it is so in Anglo-Saxon, _vair_ in
Gothic, _vir_ in Latin, _verr_, in Icelandic, _vîra_, Zend, _wirs_,
old Prussian, _wirs_, Lettish, _vîra_, Sanskrit, _bîr_, 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 Périgord, the were-wolf is called louléerou. 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
louléerous 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 louléerou 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 _hère_ 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-björn), 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.

                                           _Kjæmpeviser_, 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 Jägerup returning late one night from
Billund, was attacked, when near Jägerup, 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 Märchen_, 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
_brúkolakas_}. 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
hyæna 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 _brúkolakas_}, 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.

Vikramâditya'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 hyænas, or other savage beasts.
All convulsions and hysterical disorders are attributed to the effect
of their evil eye. The Amhara call them _Buda_, the Tigré, _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 hyænas 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 hyænas 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 hyæna," 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 hyæna 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
hyænas 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 hyæna. 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 Björn and Bera already

I shall close this chapter with a Slovakian household tale given by T.
T. Hanush in the third volume of _Zeitschrift für 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 Märchen_; 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 Bràk 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.]

                             CHAPTER IX.


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, Condé,
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 hyæna, 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.)

                              CHAPTER X.


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_, _lîkhama_, 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?ndúesðai_}, {Greek
_e?pendúesðai_}; _and-hamon_, _af-hamon_, {Greek _a?pekdúein_} {Greek
_e?kdúesðai?_} thence also the old High German _hemidi_, and the
modern _Hemde_, garment. In composition we find this word, as
_lîk-hagnr_, in old Norse; in old High German _lîk-hamo_, Anglo-Saxon
_lîk-hama_, and _flæsc-hama_, Old Saxon, _lîk-hamo_, modern German
_Leich-nam_, a body, _i. e._ a garment of flesh, precisely as the
bodies of birds are called in old Norse _fjaðr-hamr_, in Anglo-Saxon
_feðerhoma_, in Old Saxon _fetherhamo_, or feather-dresses and the
bodies of wolves are called in old Norse _ûlfshamr_, and seals' bodies
in Faroëse _kôpahamr_. The significance of the old verb _að 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 (_fjaðrhamr dunði_).

In like manner Cædmon speaks of an evil spirit flying away in
feather-dress: "þät he mid feðerhomon fleôgan meahte, windan on
wolkne" (Gen. ed. Gr. 417), and of an angel, "þuo þar suogan quam
engil þes alowaldon obhana fun radure faran an feðerhamon" (Hêlj. 171,
23), the very expression made use of when speaking of a bird: "farad
an feðarhamun" (Hêlj. 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 primæval 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 primæval
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 _é!likes d? e?klámpousi steroph~s ksápuroi_}.

                                                    _Æsch. Prom._ 1064.

{Greek _drákonta pursónwton, ó!s á?platon a?mfeliktòs
é!lik? e?froúrei, ktanw'n_}.

                                                 _Eurip. Herc. F._ 395.

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

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
well be supposed to issue from the earth's womb, and its
characteristics are sufficient to decide its paternity. Typhus, the
whirlwind or typhoon, has a hundred dragon or serpent heads, the long
writhing strive of vapour which run before the hurricane cloud. He
belches fire, that is, lightnings issue from the clouds, and his
roaring is like the howling of wild dogs. Typhus ascends to heaven to
make war on the gods, who fly from him in various fantastic shapes;
who cannot see in this ascent the hurricane climbing up the vault of
sky, and in the flying gods, the many fleeting fragments of white
cloud which are seen drifting across the heavens before the gale!

[1. Apud TWYSDEN, Hist. Anglicæ Script. x. 1652. p. 1216.]

Typhus, according to Hesiod, is the father of all bad winds, which
destroy with rain and tempest, all in fact which went among the Greeks
by the name of {Greek _laílaps_}, bringing injury to the agriculturist
and peril to the voyager.

    _?Ek dè Tufwéos é?st? a?némwn ménos u!gròn á?eptwn,
    nósfi Nótou Boréw te, kaì a?rgéstew Zefúrou te.
    oí! ge mèn e?n ðeófin geneh`, ðnhtoïs még? ó?neiar.
    ai! d? á?llai mapsau~rai e?pipneíousi ðalassan.
    ai! d? h?'toi píptousai e?s heroeideá pónton,
    ph~ma méga ðnhtoi~si, kakh~j ðúousin a?éllhj.
    á?llote d? á?llai a?eísi, diaskidna~si te nh~as,
    naútas te fðeírousi. kakou~ d? ou? gígnetai a?lkh`
    a?ndrásin, oí! keínhjsi sinántwntai katà pónton.
    ai! d? aû? kaì katà gai~an a?peíriton, a?nðemóessan
    é?rg? e?ratà fðeírousi xamaigenéwn a?nðrw'pwn,
    pimpleu~sai kóniós te kaì a?rgaléou kolosurtou~

                                          _Hesiod. Theog._ 870, _seq._

In both modern Greek and Lithuanian household mythology the dragon or
drake has become an ogre, a gigantic man with few of the dracontine
attributes remaining. Von Hahn, in his _Griechische und Albanesische
Märchen_, tells many tales of drakes, and in all, the old
characteristics have been lost, and the drake is simply a gigantic man
with magical and superhuman powers.

It is the same among the Lithuanian peasantry. A dragon walks on two
legs, talks, flirts with a lady, and marries her. He retains his evil
disposition, but has sloughed off his scales and wings.

Such is the change which has taken place in the popular conception of
the dragon, which is an impersonification of the thunderstorm. A
similar change has taken place in the swan-maiden and were-wolf myths.

In ancient Indian Vedaic mythology the apsaras were heavenly damsels
who dwelt in the tether, between earth and sun. Their name, which
signifies "the shapeless," or "those who go in the water "--it is
uncertain which. is the correct derivation--is expressive of the white
cirrus, constantly changing form, and apparently floating swan-like on
the blue heaven-sea. These apsaras, according to the Vedaic creed,
were fond of changing their shapes, appearing generally as ducks or
swans, occasionally as human beings. The souls of heroes were given to
them for lovers and husbands. One of the most graceful of the early
Indian myths is the story of the apsaras, Urvaçî. Urvaçî loved
Puravaras and became his 'wife, on the condition that she was n-ever
to behold him in a state of nudity. They remained together for years,
till the heavenly companions of Urvaçî determined to secure her return
to them. They accordingly beguiled Puravaras into leaving his bed in
the darkness of night, and then with a lightning flash they disclosed
him, in his nudity, to his wife, who was thereupon constrained to
leave him. He pursued her, full of sorrow at his loss, and found her
at length swimming in a large lotus pond, in swan's shape.

That this story is not a mere invention, but rests on some
mythological explanation of natural phenomena, I think more than
probable, as it is found all over the world with few variations. As
every Aryan branch retains the story, or traces of it, there can be no
doubt that the belief in swan-maidens, who swam in the heavenly sea,
and who sometimes became the wives of those fortunate men who managed
to steal from them their feather dresses, formed an integral portion
of the old mythological system of the Aryan family, before it was
broken up into Indian, Persian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Scandinavian,
Teutonic, and other races. But more, as the same myth is found. in
tribes not Aryan, and far removed from contact with European or Indian
superstition,--as, for instance, among Samoyeds and American
Indians,--it is even possible that this story may be a tradition of
the first primæval stock of men.

But it is time for me to leave the summer cirrus and turn to the
tempest-born rain-cloud. It is represented in ancient Indian mythology
by the Vritra or Râkshasas. At first the form of these dæmons was
uncertain and obscure. Vritra is often used as an appellative for a
cloud, and kabhanda, an old name for a rain-cloud, in later times
became the name of a devil. Of Vritra, who envelopes the mountains
with vapour, it is said, "The darkness stood retaining the water, the
mountains lay in the belly of Vritra." By degrees Vritra stood out
more prominently as a dæmon, and he is described as a "devourer" of
gigantic proportions. In the same way Râkshasas obtained corporeal
form and individuality. He is a misshapen giant "like to a cloud,"
with a red beard and red hair, with pointed protruding teeth, ready to
lacerate and devour human flesh. His body is covered with coarse
bristling hair, his huge mouth is open, he looks from side to side as
he walks, lusting after the flesh and blood of men, to satisfy his
raging hunger, and quench his consuming thirst. Towards nightfall his
strength increases manifold. He can change his shape at will. He
haunts the woods, and roams howling through the jungle; in short, he
is to the Hindoo what the were-wolf is to the European.

A certain wood was haunted by a Râkschasa; he one day came across a
Brahmin, and with a bound reached his shoulders, and clung to them,
exclaiming, "Heh! go on with you!" And the Brahmin, quaking with fear,
advanced with him. But when he observed that the feet of the Râkschasa
were as delicate as the stamens of the lotus, he asked him, How is it
that you have such weak and slender feet? The Râkschasa replied, "I
never walk nor touch the earth with my feet. I have made a vow not to
do so." Presently they came to a large pond. Then the Râkschasa bade
the Brahmin wait at the edge whilst he bathed and prayed to the gods.
But the Brahmin thought: "As soon as these prayers and ablutions are
over, he will tear me to pieces with his fangs and eat me. He has
vowed not to walk; I will be off post haste!" so he ran away, and the
Râkschasa dared not follow him for fear of breaking his VOW.
(_Pantschatantra_, v. 13.) There is a similar story in the
Mahâbhârata, xiii., and in the Kathâ Sarit Sâgara, v. 49-53.

I have said sufficient to show that natural phenomena gave rise to
mythological stories, and that these stories have gradually
deteriorated, and have been degraded into vulgar superstitions. And I
have shown that both the doctrine of metempsychosis and the
mythological explanations of meteorological changes have given rise to
abundant fable, and among others to the popular and wide-spread
superstition of lycanthropy. I shall now pass from myth to history,
and shall give instances of bloodthirstiness, cruelty, and

                             CHAPTER XI.


The history of the man whose name heads this chapter I purpose giving
in detail, as the circumstances I shall narrate have, I believe, never
before been given with accuracy to the English public. The name of
Gilles de Laval may be well known, as sketches of his bloody career
have appeared in many biographies, but these sketches have been very
incomplete, as the material from which they were composed was meagre.
M. Michelet alone ventured to give the public an idea of the crimes
which brought a marshal of France to the gallows, and his revelations
were such that, in the words of M. Henri

Martin, "this iron age, which seemed unable to feel surprise at any
amount of evil, was struck with dismay."

M. Michelet derived his information from the abstract of the papers
relating, to the case, made by order of Ann of Brittany, in the
Imperial Library. The original documents were in the library at
Nantes, and a great portion of them were destroyed in the Revolution
of 1789. But a careful analysis had been made of them, and this
valuable abridgment, which was inaccessible to M. Michelet, came into
the hands of M. Lacroix, the eminent French antiquarian, who published
a memoir of the marshal from the information he had thus obtained, and
it is his work, by far the most complete and circumstantial which has
appeared, that I condense into the following chapters.

"The most monstrously depraved imagination," says M. Henri Martin,
"never could have conceived what the trial reveals." M. Lacroix has
been obliged to draw a veil over much that transpired, and I must draw
it closer still. I have, however, said enough to show that this
memorable trial presents horrors probably unsurpassed in the whole
volume of the world's history.

During the year 1440, a terrible rumour spread through Brittany, and
especially through the ancient _pays de Retz_, which extends along the
south of the Loire from Nantes to Paimbuf, to the effect that one of
the most famous and powerful noblemen in Brittany, Gilles de Laval,
Maréchal de Retz, was guilty of crimes of the most diabolical nature.

Gilles de Laval, eldest son of Gay de Laval, second of his name, Sire
de Retz, had raised the junior branch of the illustrious house of
Laval above the elder branch, which was related to the reigning family
of Brittany. He lost his father when he was aged twenty, and remained
master of a vast territorial inheritance, which was increased by his
marriage with Catharine de Thouars in 1420. He employed a portion of
their fortune in the cause of Charles VII., and in strengthening the
French crown. During seven consecutive years, from 1426 to 1433, he
was engaged in military enterprises against the English; his name is
always cited along with those of Dunois, Xaintrailles, Florent
d'Illiers, Gaucourt, Richemont, and the most faithful servants of the
king. His services were speedily acknowledged by the king creating him
Marshal of France. In 1427, he assaulted the Castle of Lude, and
carried it by storm; he killed with his own hand the commander of the
place; next year he captured from the English the fortress of
Rennefort, and the Castle of Malicorne; in 1429, he took an active
part in the expedition of Joan of Arc for the deliverance of Orleans,
and the occupation of Jargeau, and he was with her in the moat, when
she was wounded by an arrow under the walls of Paris.

The marshal, councillor, and chamberlain of the king participated in
the direction of public affairs, and soon obtained the entire
confidence of his master. He accompanied Charles to Rheims on the
occasion of his coronation, and had the honour of bearing the
oriflamme, brought for the occasion from the abbey of S. Remi. His
intrepidity on the field of battle was as remarkable as his sagacity
in council, and he proved himself to be both an excellent warrior and
a shrewd politician.

Suddenly, to the surprise of every one, he quitted the service of
Charles VII., and sheathed for ever his sword, in the retirement of
the country. The death of his maternal grandfather, Jean de Craon, in
1432, made him so enormously wealthy, that his revenues were estimated
at 800,000 livres; nevertheless, in two years, by his excessive
prodigality, he managed to lose a considerable portion of his
inheritance. Mauléon, S. Etienne de Malemort, Loroux-Botereau, Pornic,
and Chantolé, he sold to John V., Duke of Brittany, his kinsman, and
other lands and seigneurial rights he ceded to the Bishop of Nantes,
and to the chapter of the cathedral in that city.

The rumour soon spread that these extensive cessions of territory were
sops thrown to the duke and to the bishop, to restrain the one from
confiscating his goods, and the other from pronouncing
excommunication, for the crimes of which the people whisperingly
accused him; but these rumours were probably without foundation, for
eventually it was found hard to persuade the duke of the guilt of his
kinsman, and the bishop was the most determined instigator of the

The marshal seldom visited the ducal court, but he often appeared in
the city of Nantes, where he inhabited the Hôtel de la Suze, with a
princely retinue. He had, always accompanying him, a guard of two
hundred men at arms, and a numerous suit of pages, esquires,
chaplains, singers, astrologers, &c., all of whom he paid handsomely.

Whenever he left the town, or moved to one of his other seats, the
cries of the poor, which had been restrained during the time of his
presence, broke forth. Tears flowed, curses were uttered, a
long-continued wail rose to heaven, the moment that the last of the
marshal's party had left the neighbourhood. Mothers had lost their
children, babes had been snatched from the cradle, infants had been
spirited away almost from the maternal arms, and it was known by sad
experience that the vanished little ones would never be seen again.

But on no part of the country did the shadow of this great fear fall
so deeply as on the villages in the neighbourhood of the Castle of
Machecoul, a gloomy château, composed of huge towers, and surrounded
by deep moats, a residence much frequented by Do Retz, notwithstanding
its sombre and repulsive appearance. This fortress was always in a
condition to resist a siege: the drawbridge was raised, the portcullis
down, the gates closed, the men under arms, the culverins on the
bastion always loaded. No one, except the servants, had penetrated
into this mysterious asylum and had come forth alive. In the
surrounding country strange tales of horror and devilry circulated in
whispers, and yet it was observed that the chapel of the castle was
gorgeously decked with tapestries of silk and cloth of gold, that the
sacred vessels were encrusted with gems, and that the vestments of the
priests were of the most sumptuous character. The excessive devotion
of the marshal was also noticed; he was said to hear mass thrice
daily, and to be passionately fond of ecclesiastical music. He was
said to have asked permission of the pope, that a crucifer should
precede him in processions. But when dusk settled down over the
forest, and one by one the windows of the castle became illumined,
peasants would point to one casement high up in an isolated tower,
from which a clear light streamed through the gloom of night; they
spoke of a fierce red glare which irradiated the chamber at times, and
of sharp cries ringing out of it, through the hushed woods, to be
answered only by the howl of the wolf as it rose from its lair to
begin its nocturnal rambles.

On certain days, at fixed hours, the drawbridge sank, and the servants
of De Retz stood in the gateway distributing clothes, money, and food
to the mendicants who crowded round them soliciting alms. It often
happened that children were among the beggars: as often one of the
servants would promise them some dainty if they would go to the
kitchen for it. Those children who accepted the offer were never seen

In 1440 the long-pent-up exasperation of the people broke all bounds,
and with one voice they charged the marshal with the murder of their
children, whom they said he had sacrificed to the devil.

This charge came to the ears of the Duke of Brittany, but he
pooh-poohed it, and would have taken no steps to investigate the
truth, had not one of his nobles insisted on his doing so. At the same
time Jean do Châteaugiron, bishop of Nantes, and the noble and sage
Pierre de l'Hospital, grand-seneschal of Brittany, wrote to the duke,
expressing very decidedly their views, that the charge demanded
thorough investigation.

John V., reluctant to move against a relation, a man who had served
his country so well, and was in such a high position, at last yielded
to their request, and authorized them to seize the persons of the Sire
de Retz and his accomplices. A _serjent d'armes_, Jean Labbé, was
charged with this difficult commission. He picked a band of resolute
fellows, twenty in all, and in the middle of September they presented
themselves at the gate of the castle, and summoned the Sire do Retz to
surrender. As soon as Gilles heard that a troop in the livery of
Brittany was at the gate, he inquired who was their leader? On
receiving the answer "Labbé," he started, turned pale, crossed
himself, and prepared to surrender, observing that it was impossible
to resist fate.

Years before, one of his astrologers had assured him that he would one
day pass into the hands of an Abbé, and, till this moment, De Retz had
supposed that the prophecy signified that he should eventually become
a monk.

Gilles de Sillé, Roger de Briqueville, and other of the accomplices of
the marshal, took to flight, but Henriet and Pontou remained with him.

The drawbridge was lowered and the marshal offered his sword to Jean
Labbé. The gallant serjeant approached, knelt to the marshal, and
unrolled before him a parchment sealed with the seal of Brittany.

"Tell me the tenor of this parchment?" said Gilles de Retz with

"Our good Sire of Brittany enjoins you, my lord, by these presents, to
follow me to the good town of Nantes, there to clear yourself of
certain criminal charges brought against you."

"I will follow immediately, my friend, glad to obey the will of my
lord of Brittany: but, that it may not be said that the Seigneur de
Retz has received a message without largess, I order my treasurer,
Henriet, to hand over to you and your followers twenty gold crowns."

"Grand-merci, monseigneur! I pray God that he may give you good and
long life."

"Pray God only to have mercy upon me, and to pardon my sins."

The marshal had his horses saddled, and left Machecoul with Pontou and
Henriet, who had thrown in their lot with him.

It was with lively emotion that the people in the villages traversed
by the little troop, saw the redoubted Gilles de Laval ride through
their streets, surrounded by soldiers in the livery of the Duke of
Brittany, and unaccompanied by a single soldier of his own. The roads
and streets were thronged, peasants left the fields, women their
kitchens, labourers deserted their cattle at the plough, to throng the
road to Nantes. The cavalcade proceeded in silence. The very crowd
which had gathered to see it, was hushed. Presently a shrill woman's
voice was raised:--

"My child! restore my child!"

Then a wild, wrathful howl broke from the lips of the throng, rang
along the Nantes road, and only died away, as the great gates of the
Chateau de Bouffay closed on the prisoner.

The whole population of Nantes was in commotion, and it was said that
the investigation would be fictitious, that the duke would screen his
kinsman, and that the object of general execration would escape with
the surrender of some of his lands.

And such would probably have been the event of the trial, had not the
Bishop of Nantes and the grand-seneschal taken a very decided course
in the matter. They gave the duke no peace till he had yielded to
their demand for a thorough investigation and a public trial.

John V. nominated Jean de Toucheronde to collect information, and to
take down the charges brought against the marshal. At the same time he
was given to understand that the matter was not to be pressed, and
that the charges upon which the marshal was to be tried were to be
softened down as much as possible.

The commissioner, Jean de Toucheronde, opened the investigation on the
18th September, assisted only by his clerk, Jean Thomas. The witnesses
were introduced either singly, or in groups, if they were relations.
On entering, the witness knelt before the commissioner, kissed the
crucifix, and swore with his hand on the Gospels that he would speak
the truth, and nothing but the truth: after this he related all the
facts referring to the charge, which came under his cognizance,
without being interrupted or interrogated.

The first to present herself was Perrine Loessard, living at la

She related, with tears in her eyes, that two years ago, in the month
of September, the Sire de Retz had passed with all his retinue through
la Roche-Bernard, on his way from Vannes, and had lodged with Jean
Collin. She lived opposite the house in which the nobleman was

Her child, the finest in the village, a lad aged ten, had attracted
the notice of Pontou, and perhaps of the marshal himself, who stood at
a window, leaning on his squire's shoulder.

Pontou spoke to the child, and asked him whether he would like to be a
chorister; the boy replied that his ambition was to be a soldier.

"Well, then," said the squire, "I will equip you."

The lad then laid hold of Pontou's dagger, and expressed his desire to
have such a weapon in his belt. Thereupon the mother had ran up and
had made him leave hold of the dagger, saying that the boy was doing
very well at school, and was getting on with his letters, for he was
one day to be a monk. Pontou had dissuaded her from this project, and
had proposed to take the child with him to Machecoul, and to educate
him to be a soldier. Thereupon he had paid her clown a hundred sols to
buy the lad a dress, and had obtained permission to carry him off.

Next day her son had been mounted on a horse purchased for him from
Jean Collin, and had left the village in the retinue of the Sire de
Retz. The poor mother at parting had gone in tears to the marshal, and
had entreated him to be kind to her child. From that time she had been
able to obtain no information regarding her son. She had watched the
Sire de Retz whenever he had passed through La Roche Bernard, but had
never observed her child among his pages. She had questioned several
of the marshal's people, but they had laughed at her; the only answer
she had obtained was: "Be not afraid. He is either at Machecoul, or
else at Tiffauges, or else at Pornic, or somewhere." Perrine's story
was corroborated by Jean Collin, his wife, and his mother-in-law.

Jean Lemegren and his wife, Alain Dulix, Perrot Duponest, Guillaume
Guillon, Guillaume Portayer, Etienne de Monclades, and Jean Lefebure,
all inhabitants of S. Etienne de Montluc, deposed that a little child,
son of Guillaume Brice of the said parish, having lost his father at
the age of nine, lived on alms, and went round the country begging.

This child, named Jamet, had vanished suddenly at midsummer, and
nothing was known of what had become of him; but strong suspicions
were entertained of his having been carried off by an aged hag who had
appeared shortly before in the neighbourhood, and who had vanished
along with the child.

On the 27th September, Jean de Toucheronde, assisted by Nicolas
Chateau, notary of the court at Nantes, received the depositions of
several inhabitants of Pont-de-Launay, near Bouvron: to wit, Guillaume
Fourage and wife; Jeanne, wife of Jean Leflou; and Richarde, wife of
Jean Gandeau.

These depositions, though very vague, afforded sufficient cause for
suspicion to rest on the marshal. Two years before, a child of twelve,
son of Jean Bernard, and another child of the same age, son of
Ménégué, had gone to Machecoul. The son of Ménégué had returned alone
in the evening, relating that his companion had asked him to wait for
him on the road whilst he begged at the gates of the Sire de Retz. The
son of Ménégué said that he had waited three hours, but his companion
had not returned. The wife of Guillaume Fourage deposed that she had
seen the lad at this time with an old hag, who was leading him by the
hand towards Machecoul. That same evening this hag passed over the
bridge of Launay, and the wife of Fourage asked her what had become of
little Bernard. The old woman neither stopped nor answered further
than by saying he was well provided for. The boy had not been seen
since. On the 28th September, the Duke of Brittany joined another
commissioner, Jean Couppegorge, and a second notary, Michel Estallure,
to Toucheronde and Chateau.

The inhabitants of Machecoul, a little town over which the Sire de
Retz exercised supreme power, appeared now to depose against their
lord. André Barbier, shoemaker, declared that last Easter, a child,
son of his neighbour Georges Lebarbier, had disappeared. He was last
seen gathering plums behind the hotel Rondeau. This disappearance
surprised none in Machecoul, and no one ventured to comment on it.
André and his wife were in daily terror of losing their own child.
They had been a pilgrimage to S. Jean d'Angely, and had been asked
there whether it was the custom at Machecoul to eat children. On their
return they had heard of two children having vanished--the son of Jean
Gendron, and that of Alexandre Châtellier. André Barbier had made some
inquiries about the circumstances of their disappearance, and had been
advised to hold his tongue, and to shut his ears and eyes, unless he
were prepared to be thrown into a dungeon by the lord of Machecoul.

"But, bless me!" he had said, "am I to believe that a fairy spirits
off and eats our little ones?"

"Believe what you like," was the advice given to him; "but ask no
questions." As this conversation had taken place, one of the marshal's
men at arms had passed, when all those who had been speaking took to
their heels. André, who had run with the rest, without knowing exactly
why he fled, came upon a man near the church of the Holy Trinity, who
was weeping bitterly, and crying out,--"O my God, wilt Thou not
restore to me my little one?" This man had also been robbed of his

Licette, wife of Guillaume Sergent, living at La Boneardière, in the
parish of S. Croix de Machecoul, had lost her son two years before,
and had not seen him since; she besought the commissioners, with tears
in her eyes, to restore him to her.

"I left him," said she, "at home whilst I went into the field with my
husband to sow flax. He was a bonny little lad, and he was as good as
he was bonny. He had to look after his tiny sister, who was a year and
a half old. On my return home, the little girl was found, but she
could not tell me what had become of him. Afterwards we found in the
marsh a small red woollen cap which had belonged to my poor darling;
but it was in vain that we dragged the marsh, nothing was found more,
except good evidence that he had not been drowned. A hawker who sold
needles and thread passed through Machecoul at the time, and told me
that an old woman in grey, with a black hood on her head, had bought
of him some children's toys, and had a few moments after passed him,
leading a little boy by the hand."

Georges Lebarbier, living near the gate of the châtelet de Machecoul,
gave an account of the manner in which his son had evanesced. The boy
was apprenticed to Jean Pelletier, tailor to Mme. de Retz and to the
household of the castle. He seemed to be getting on in his profession,
when last year, about S. Barnabas' day, he went to play at ball on the
castle green. He never returned from the game.

This youth and his master, Jean Pelletier, had been in the habit of
eating and drinking at the castle, and bad always laughed at the
ominous stories told by the people.

Guillaume Hilaire and his wife confirmed the statements of Lebarbier.
They also said that they knew of the loss of the sons of Jean Gendron,
Jeanne Rouen, and Alexandre Châtellier. The son of Jean Gendron, aged
twelve, lived with the said Hilaire and learned of him the trade of
skinner. He had been working in the shop for seven or eight years, and
was a steady, hardworking lad. One day Messieurs Gilles de Sillé and
Roger de Briqueville entered the shop to purchase a pair of hunting
gloves. They asked if little Gendron might take a message for them to
the castle. Hilaire readily consented, and the boy received beforehand
the payment for going--a gold angelus, and he started, promising to be
back directly. But he had never returned. That evening Hiliare and his
wife, observing Gilles de Sillé and Roger de Briqueville returning to
the castle, ran to them and asked what had become of the apprentice.
They replied that they had no notion of where he was, as they had been
absent hunting, but that it was possible he might have been sent to
Tiffauges, another castle of De Retz.

Guillaume Hilaire, whose depositions were more grave and explicit than
the others, positively asserted that Jean Dujardin, valet to Roger de
Briqueville had told him he knew of a cask secreted in the castle,
full of children's corpses. He said that he had often heard people say
that children were enticed to the château and then murdered, but had
treated it as an idle tale. He said, moreover, that the marshal was
not accused of having any hand in the murders, but that his servants
were supposed to be guilty.

Jean Gendron himself deposed to the loss of his son, and he added that
his was not the only child which had vanished mysteriously at
Machecoul. He knew of thirty that had disappeared.

Jean Chipholon, elder and junior, Jean Aubin, and Clement Doré, all
inhabitants of the parish of Thomage, deposed that they had known a
poor man of the same parish, named Mathelin Thomas, who had lost his
son, aged twelve, and that he had died of grief in consequence.

Jeanne Rouen, of Machecoul, who for nine years had been in a state of
uncertainty whether her son were alive or dead, deposed that the child
had been carried off whilst keeping sheep. She had thought that he had
been devoured of wolves, but two women of Machecoul, now deceased, had
seen Gilles de Sillé approach the little shepherd, speak to him, and
point to the castle. Shortly after the lad had walked off in that
direction. The husband of Jeanne Rouen went to the château to inquire
after his son, but could obtain no information. When next Gilles de
Sillé appeared in the town, the disconsolate mother entreated him to
restore her child to her. Gilles replied that he knew nothing about
him, as he had been to the king at Amboise.

Jeanne, widow of Aymery Hedelin, living at Machecoul, had also lost,
eight years before, a little child as he had pursued some butterflies
into the wood. At the same time four other children had been carried
off, those of Gendron, Rouen, and Macé Sorin. She said that the story
circulated through the country was, that Gilles de Sillé stole
children to make them over to the English, in order to obtain the
ransom of his brother who was a captive. But she added that this
report was traced to the servants of Sillé, and that it was propagated
by them.

One of the last children to disappear was that of Noël Aise, living in
the parish of S. Croix.

A man from Tiffauges had said to her (Jeanne Hedelin) that for one
child stolen at Machecoul, there were seven carried away at Tiffauges.

Macé Sorin confirmed the deposition of the widow Hedelin., and
repeated the circumstances connected with the loss of the children of
Châtellier, Rouen, Gendron, and Lebarbier.

Perrine Rondeau had entered the castle with the company of Jean Labbé.
She had entered a stable, and had found a heap of ashes and powder,
which had a sickly and peculiar smell. At the bottom of a trough she
had found a child's shirt covered with blood.

Several inhabitants of the bourg of Fresnay, to wit, Perrot,
Parqueteau, Jean Soreau, Catherine Degrépie, Gilles Garnier, Perrine
Viellard, Marguerite Rediern, Marie Carfin, Jeanne Laudais, said that
they had heard Guillaume Hamelin, last Easter, lamenting the loss of
two children.

Isabeau, wife of Guillaume Hamelin, confirmed these depositions,
saving that she had lost them seven years before. She had at that time
four children; the eldest aged fifteen, the youngest aged seven, went
together to Machecoul to buy some bread, but they did not return. She
sat up for them all night and next morning. She heard that another
child had been lost, the son of Michaut Bonnel of S. Ciré de Retz.

Guillemette, wife of Michaut Bonnel, said that her son had been
carried off whilst guarding cows.

Guillaume Rodigo and his wife, living at Bourg-neuf-en-Retz, deposed
that on the eve of last S. Bartholomew's day, the Sire do Retz lodged
with Guillaume Plumet in his village.

Pontou, who accompanied the marshal, saw a lad of fifteen, named
Bernard Lecanino, servant to Rodigo, standing at the door of his
house. The lad could not speak much French, but only bas-Breton.
Pontou beckoned to him and spoke to him in a low tone. That evening,
at ten o'clock, Bernard left his master's house, Rodigo and his wife
being absent. The servant maid, who saw him go out, called to him that
the supper table was not yet cleared, but he paid no attention to what
she said. Rodigo, annoyed at the loss of his servant, asked some of
the marshal's men what had become of him. They replied mockingly that
they knew nothing of the little Breton, but that he had probably been
sent to Tiffauges to be trained as page to their lord.

Marguerite Sorain, the chambermaid alluded to above, confirmed the
statement of Rodigo, adding that Pontou had entered the house and
spoken with Bernard. Guillaume Plumet and wife confirmed what Rodigo
and Sorain had said.

Thomas Aysée and wife deposed to the loss of their son, aged ten, who
had gone to beg at the gate of the castle of Machecoul; and a little
girl had seen him drawn by an offer of meat into the château.

Jamette, wife of Eustache Drouet of S. Léger, had sent two sons, one
aged ten, the other seven, to the castle to obtain alms. They had not
been seen since.

On the 2nd October the commissioners sat again, and the charges became
graver, and the servants of the marshal became more and more

The disappearance of thirteen other children was substantiated under
circumstances throwing strong suspicion on the inmates of the castle.
I will not give the details, for they much resemble those of the
former depositions. Suffice it to say that before the commissioners
closed the inquiry, a herald of the Duke of Brittany in tabard blew
three calls on the trumpet, from the steps of the tower of Bouffay,
summoning all who had additional charges to bring against the Sire de
Retz, to present themselves without delay. As no fresh witnesses
arrived, the case was considered to be made out, and the commissioners
visited the duke, with the information they had collected, in their

The duke hesitated long as to the steps he should take. Should he
judge and sentence a kinsman, the most powerful of his vassals, the
bravest of his captains, a councillor of the king, a marshal of

Whilst still unsettled in his mind as to the course he should pursue,
he received a letter from Gilles de Retz, which produced quite a
different effect from that which it had been intended to produce.


"IT is quite true that I am perhaps the most detestable of all
sinners, having sinned horribly again and again, yet have I never
failed in my religious duties. I have heard many masses, vespers, &c.,
have fasted in Lent and on vigils, have confessed my sins, deploring
them heartily, and have received the blood of our Lord at least once
in the year.

Since I have been languishing in prison, awaiting your honoured
justice, I have been overwhelmed with incomparable repentance for my
crimes, which I am ready to acknowledge and to expiate as is suitable.

"Wherefore I supplicate you, M. my cousin, to give me licence to
retire into a monastery, and there to lead a good and exemplary life.
I care not into what monastery I am sent, but I intend that all my
goods, &c., should be distributed among the poor, who are the members
of Jesus Christ on earth . . . . Awaiting your glorious clemency, on
which I rely, I pray God our Lord to protect you and your kingdom.

He who addresses you is in all earthly humility,"

                                                        "FRIAR GILLES,
                                              Carmelite in intention."

The duke read this letter to Pierre de l'Hospital, president of
Brittany, and to the Bishop of Nantes, who were those most resolute in
pressing on the trial. They were horrified at the tone of this
dreadful communication, and assured the duke that the case was so
clear, and the steps taken had been so decided, that it was impossible
for him to allow De Retz to escape trial by such an impious device as
he suggested. In the meantime, the bishop and the grand-seneschal had
set on foot an investigation at the castle of Machecoul, and had found
numerous traces of human remains. But a complete examination could not
be made, as the duke was anxious to screen his kinsman as much as
possible, and refused to authorize one.

The duke now summoned his principal officers and held a council with
them. They unanimously sided with the bishop and de l'Hospital, and
when John still hesitated, the Bishop of Nantes rose and said:
"Monseigneur, this case is one for the church as much as for your
court to take up. Consequently, if your President of Brittany does not
bring the case into secular court, by the Judge of heaven and earth! I
will cite the author of these execrable crimes to appear before our
ecclesiastical tribunal."

The resolution of the bishop compelled the duke to yield, and it was
decided that the trial should take its course without let or

In the meantime, the unhappy wife of Gilles de Retz, who had been
separated from him for some while, and who loathed his crimes, though
she still felt for him as her husband, hurried to the duke with her
daughter to entreat pardon for the wretched man. But the duke refused
to hear her. Thereupon she went to Amboise to intercede with the king
for him who bad once been his close friend and adviser.

                             CHAPTER XII.


On the 10th October, Nicolas Chateau, notary of the duke, went to the
Château of Bouffay, to read to the prisoner the summons to appear in
person on the morrow before Messire de l'Hospital, President of
Brittany, Seneschal of Rennes, and Chief Justice of the Duchy of

The Sire de Retz, who believed himself already a novice in the
Carmelite order, had dressed in white, and was engaged in singing
litanies. When the summons had been read, he ordered a page to give
the notary wine and cake, and then he returned to his prayers with
every appearance of compunction and piety.

On the morrow Jean Labbé and four soldiers conducted him to the hall
of justice. He asked for Pontou and Henriet to accompany him, but this
was not permitted.

He was adorned with all his military insignia, as though to impose on
his judges; he had around his neck massive chains of gold, and several
collars of knightly orders. His costume, with the exception of his
purpoint, was white, in token of his repentance. His purpoint was of
pearl-grey silk, studded with gold stars, and girded around his waist
by a scarlet belt, from which dangled a poignard in scarlet velvet
sheath. His collar, cufs, and the edging of his purpoint were of white
ermine, his little round cap or _chapel_ was white, surrounded with a
belt of ermine--a fur which only the great feudal lords of Brittany
had a right to wear. All the rest of his dress, to the shoes which
were long and pointed, was white.

No one at a first glance would have thought the Sire do Retz to be by
nature so cruel and vicious as he was supposed to be. On the contrary,
his physiognomy was calm and phlegmatic, somewhat pale, and expressive
of melancholy. His hair and moustache were light brown, and his beard
was clipped to a point. This beard, which resembled no other beard,
was black, but under certain lights it assumed a blue hue, and it was
this peculiarity which obtained for the Sire do Retz the surname of
Blue-beard, a name which has attached to him in popular romance, at
the same time that his story has undergone strange metamorphoses.

But on closer examination of the countenance of Gilles de Retz,
contraction in the muscles of the face, nervous quivering of the
mouth, spasmodic twitchings of the brows, and above all, the sinister
expression of the eyes, showed that there was something strange and
frightful in the man. At intervals he ground his teeth like a wild
beast preparing to dash upon his prey, and then his lips became so
contracted, as they were drawn in and glued, as it were, to his teeth,
that their very colour was indiscernible.

At times also his eyes became fixed, and the pupils dilated to such an
extent, with a sombre fire quivering in them, that the iris seemed to
fill the whole orbit, which became circular, and sank back into the
head. At these moments his complexion became livid and cadaverous; his
brow, especially just over the nose, was covered with deep wrinkles,
and his beard appeared to bristle, and to assume its bluish hues. But,
after a few moments, his features became again serene, with a sweet
smile reposing upon them, and his expression relaxed into a vague and
tender melancholy.

"Messires," said he, saluting his judges, "I pray you to expedite my
matter, and despatch as speedily as possible my unfortunate case; for
I am peculiarly anxious to consecrate myself to the service of God,
who has pardoned my great sins. I shall not fail, I assure you, to
endow several of the churches in Nantes, and I shall distribute the
greater portion of my goods among the poor, to secure the salvation of
my soul."

"Monseigneur," replied gravely Pierre de l'Hospital: "It is always
well to think of the salvation of one's soul; but, if you please,
think now that we are concerned with the salvation of your body."

"I have confessed to the father superior of the Carmelites," replied
the marshal, with tranquillity; "and through his absolution I have
been able to communicate: I am, therefore, guiltless and purified."

"Men's justice is not in common with that of God, monseigneur, and I
cannot tell you what will be your sentence. Be ready to make your
defence, and listen to the charges brought against you, which M. le
lieutenant du Procureur de Nantes will read."

The officer rose, and read the following paper of charges, which I
shall condense:--

"Having heard the bitter complaints of several of the inhabitants of
the diocese of Nantes, whose names follow hereinafter (here follow the
names of the parents of the lost children), we, Philippe do Livron,
lieutenant assesseur of Messire le Procureur de Nantes, have invited,
and do invite, the very noble and very wise Messire Pierre de
l'Hospital, President of Brittany, &c., to bring to trial the very
high and very powerful lord, Gilles de Laval, Sire de Retz, Machecoul,
Ingrande and other places, Councillor of his Majesty the King, and
Marshal of France:

"Forasmuch as the said Sire de Retz has seized and caused to be seized
several little children, not only ten or twenty, but thirty, forty,
fifty, sixty, one hundred, two hundred, and more, and has murdered and
slain them inhumanly, and then burned their bodies to convert them to

"Forasmuch as persevering in evil, the said Sire, notwithstanding that
the powers that be are ordained of God, and that every one should be
an obedient subject to his prince, . . . has assaulted Jean Leferon,
subject of the Duke of Brittany, the said Jean Leferon being guardian
of the fortress of Malemort, in the name of Geoffrey Leferon, his
brother, to whom the said lord had made over the possession of the
said place:

"Forasmuch as the said Sire forced Jean Leferon to give up to him the
said place, and moreover retook the lordship of Malemort in despite of
the order of the duke and of justice:

"Forasmuch as the said Sire arrested Master Jean Rousseau, sergeant of
the duke, who was sent to him with injunctions from the said duke, and
beat his men with their own staves, although their persons were under
the protection of his grace:

"We conclude that the said Sire de Retz, homicide in fact and in
intent according to the first count, rebel and felon according to the
second, should be condemned to suffer corporal punishment, and to pay
a fine of his possessions in lands and goods held in fief to the said
nobleman, and that these should be confiscated and remitted to the
crown of Brittany."

This requisition was evidently drawn up with the view of saving the
life of the Sire de Retz; for the crime of homicide was presented
without aggravating circumstances, in such a manner that it could be
denied or shelved, whilst the crimes of felony and rebellion against
the Duke of Brittany were brought into exaggerated prominence.

Gilles de Retz had undoubtedly been forewarned of the course which was
to be pursued, and he was prepared to deny totally the charges made in
the first count.

"Monseigneur," said Pierre de l'Hospital, whom the form of the
requisition had visibly astonished: "What justification have you to
make? Take an oath on the Gospels to declare the truth."

"No, messire!" answered the marshal. "The witnesses are bound to
declare what they know upon oath, but the accused is never put on his

"Quite so," replied the judge. "Because the accused may be put on the
rack and constrained to speak the truth, an' please you."

Gilles de Retz turned pale, bit his lips, and cast a glance of
malignant hate at Pierre de l'Hospital; then, composing his
countenance, he spoke with an appearance of calm:--

"Messires, I shall not deny that I behaved wrongfully in the case of
Jean Rousseau; but, in excuse, let me say that the said Rousseau was
full of wine, and he behaved with such indecorum towards me in the
presence of my servants, that it was quite intolerable. Nor will I
deny my revenge on the brothers Leferon: Jean had declared that the
said Grace of Brittany had confiscated my fortress of Malemort, which
I had sold to him, and for which I have not yet received payment; and
Geoffrey Leferon had announced far and wide that I was about to be
expelled Brittany as a traitor and a rebel. To punish them I
re-entered my fortress of Malemort.--As for the other charges, I shall
say nothing about them, they are simply false and calumnious."

"Indeed exclaimed Pierre de l'Hospital, whose blood boiled with
indignation against the wretch who stood before him with such
effrontery. "All these witnesses who complain of having lost their
children, lied under oath!"

"Undoubtedly, if they accuse me of having anything to do with their
loss. What am I to know about them, am I their keeper?"

"The answer of Cain!" exclaimed Pierre de l'Hospital, rising from his
seat in the vehemence of his emotion. "However, as you solemnly deny
these charges, we must question Henriet and Pontou."

"Henriet, Pontou!" cried the marshal, trembling; "they accuse me of
nothing, surely!"

"Not as yet, they have not been questioned, but they are about to be
brought into court, and I do not expect that they will lie in the face
of justice."

"I demand that my servants be not brought forward as witnesses against
their master," said the marshal, his eyes dilating, his brow
wrinkling, and his beard bristling blue upon his chin: "a master is
above the gossiping tales and charges of his servants."

"Do you think then, messire, that your servants will accuse you?"

"I demand that I, a marshal of France, a baron of the duchy, should be
sheltered from the slanders of small folk, whom I disown as my
servants if they are untrue to their master."

"Messire, I see we must put you on the rack, or nothing will be got
from you."

"Hola! I appeal to his grace the Duke of Brittany, and ask an
adjournment, that I may take advice on the charges brought against me,
which I have denied, and which I deny still."

"Well, I shall adjourn the case till the 25th of this month, that you
may be well prepared to meet the accusations."

On his way back to prison, the marshal passed Henriet and Pontou as
they were being conducted to the court. Henriet pretended not to see
his master, but Pontou burst into tears on meeting him. The marshal
held out his hand, and Pontou kissed it affectionately.

"Remember what I have done for you, and be faithful servants," said
Gilles de Retz. Henriet recoiled from him with a shudder, and the
marshal passed on.

"I shall speak," whispered Henriet; "for we have another master beside
our poor master of Retz, and we shall soon be with the heavenly one."

The president ordered the clerk to read again the requisition of the
lieutenant, that the two presumed accomplices of Gilles de Retz might
be informed of the charges brought against their master. Henriet burst
into tears, trembled violently, and cried out that he would tell all.
Pontou, alarmed, tried to hinder his companion, and said that Henriet
was touched in his head, and that what he was about to say would be
the ravings of insanity.

Silence was imposed upon him.

"I will speak out," continued Henriet and yet I dare not speak of the
horrors which I know have taken place, before that image of my Lord
Christ; "and he pointed tremblingly to a large crucifix above the seat
of the judge.

"Henriet." moaned Pontou, squeezing his hand, "you will destroy
yourself as well as your master."

Pierre de l'Hospital rose, and the figure of our Redeemer was solemnly

Henriet, who had great difficulty in overcoming his agitation, than
began his revelations.

The following is the substance of them:--

On leaving the university of Angers, he had taken the situation of
reader in the house of Gilles de Retz. The marshal took a liking to
him, and made him his chamberlain and confidant.

On the occasion of the Sire de la Suze, brother of the Sire de Retz,
taking possession of the castle of Chantoncé, Charles de Soenne, who
had arrived at Chantoncé, assured Henriet that he had found in the
oubliettes of a tower a number of dead children, some headless, others
frightfully mutilated. Henriet then thought that this was but a
calumny invented by the Sire de la Suze.

But when, some while after, the Sire de Retz retook the castle of
Chantoncé and had ceded it to the Duke of Brittany, he one evening
summoned Henriet, Pontou, and a certain Petit Robin to his room; the
two latter were already deep in the secrets of their master. But
before confiding anything to Henriet, De Retz made him take a solemn
oath never to reveal what he was about to tell him. The oath taken,
the Sire de Retz, addressing the three, said that on the morrow an
officer of the duke would take possession of the castle in the name of
the duke, and that it was necessary, before this took place, that a
certain well should be emptied of children's corpses, and that their
bodies should be put into boxes and transported to Machecoul.

Henriet, Pontou, and Petit Robin went together, furnished with ropes
and hooks, to the tower where were the corpses. They toiled all night
in removing the half-decayed bodies, and with them they filled three
large cases, which they sent by a boat down the Loire to Machecoul,
where they were reduced to ashes.

Henriet counted thirty-six children's heads, but there were more
bodies than heads. This night's work, he said, bad produced a profound
impression on his imagination, and he was constantly haunted with a
vision of these heads rolling as in a game of skittles, and clashing
with a mournful wail. Henriet soon began to collect children for his
master, and was present whilst he massacred them. They were murdered
invariably in one room at Machecoul. The marshal used to bathe in
their blood; he was fond of making Gilles do Sillé, Pontou, or Henriet
torture them, and he experienced intense pleasure in seeing them in
their agonies. But his great passion was to welter in their blood. His
servants would stab a child in the jugular vein, and let the blood
squirt over him. The room was often steeped in blood. When the
horrible deed was done, and the child was dead, the marshal would be
filled with grief for what he had done, and would toss weeping and
praying on a bed, or recite fervent prayers and litanies on his knees,
whilst his servants washed the floor, and burned in the huge fireplace
the bodies of the murdered children. With the bodies were burned the
clothes and everything that had belonged to the little victims.

An insupportable odour filled the room, but the Maréchal do Retz
inhaled it with delight.

Henriet acknowledged that he had seen forty children put to death in
this manner, and he was able to give an account of several, so that it
was possible to identify them with the children reported to be lost.

"It is quite impossible," said the lieutenant, who had been given the
cue to do all that was possible to save the marshal--"It is impossible
that bodies could be burned in a chamber fireplace."

"It was done, for all that, messire," replied Henriet. "The fireplace
was very large, both at the hotel Suze, and also at Machecoul; we
piled up great faggots and logs, and laid the dead children among
them. In a few hours the operation was complete, and we flung the
ashes out of the window into the moat."

Henriet remembered the case of the two sons of Hamelin; he said that,
whilst the one child was being tortured, the other was on its knees
sobbing and praying to God, till its own turn came.

"What you have said concerning the excesses of Messire de Retz,"
exclaimed the lieutenant du procureur, "seems to be pure invention,
and destitute of all probability. The greatest monsters of iniquity
never committed such crimes, except perhaps some Cæsars of old Rome."

"Messire, it was the acts of these Cæsars that my Lord of Retz desired
to imitate. I used to read to him the chronicles of Suetonius, and
Tacitus, in which their cruelties are recorded. He used to delight in
hearing of them, and he said that it gave him greater pleasure to hack
off a child's head than to assist at a banquet. Sometimes he would
seat himself on the breast of a little one, and with a knife sever the
head from the body at a single blow; sometimes he cut the throat half
through very gently, that the child might languish, and he would wash
his hands and his beard in its blood. Sometimes he had all the limbs
chopped off at once from the trunk; at other times he ordered us to
hang the infants till they were nearly dead, and then take them down
and cut their throats. I remember having brought to him three little
girls who were asking charity at the castle gates. He bade me cut
their throats whilst he looked on. André Bricket found another little
girl crying on the steps of the house at Vannes because she had lost
her mother. He brought the little thing--it was but a babe--in his
arms to my lord, and it was killed before him. Pontou and I had to
make away with the body. We threw it down a privy in one of the
towers, but the corpse caught on a nail in the outer wall, so that it
would be visible to all who passed. Pontou was let down by a rope, and
he disengaged it with great difficulty."

"How many children do you estimate that the Sire de Retz and his
servants have killed?"

"The reckoning is long. I, for my part, confess to having killed
twelve with my own hand, by my master's orders, and I have brought him
about sixty. I knew that things of the kind went on before I was
admitted to the secret; for the castle of Machecoul had been occupied
a short while by the Sire do la Sage. My lord recovered it speedily,
for he knew that there were many children's corpses hidden in a
hayloft. There were forty there quite dry and black as coal, because
they had been charred. One of the women of Madame de Retz came by
chance into the loft and saw the corpses. Roger de Briqueville wanted
to kill her, but the maréchal would not let him."

"Have you nothing more to declare?

"Nothing. I ask Pontou, my friend, to corroborate what I have said."

This deposition, so circumstantial and detailed, produced on the
judges a profound impression of horror. Human imagination at this time
had not penetrated such mysteries of refined cruelty. Several times,
as Henriet spake, the president had shown his astonishment and
indignation by signing himself with the cross. Several times his face
had become scarlet, and his eyes had fallen; he had pressed his hand
to his brow, to assure himself that he was not labouring under a
hideous dream, and a quiver of horror had run through his whole frame.

Pontou had taken no part in the revelation of Henriet; but when the
latter appealed to him he raised his head, looked sadly round the
court, and sighed.

"Etienne Cornillant, alias Pontou, I command you in the name of God
and of justice, to declare what you know."

This injunction of Pierre do l'Hospital remained unresponded to, and
Pontou seemed to strengthen himself in his resolution not to accuse
his master.

But Henriet, flinging himself into the arms of his accomplice,
implored him, as he valued his soul, no longer to harden his heart to
the calls of God; but to bring to light the crimes he had committed
along with the Sire do Retz.

The lieutenant du procureur, who hitherto had endeavoured to extenuate
or discredit the charges brought against Gilles do Retz, tried a last
expedient to counterbalance the damaging confessions of Henriet, and
to withhold Pontou from giving way.

"You have heard, monseigneur," said he to the president, "the
atrocities which have been acknowledged by Henriet, and you, as I do,
consider them to be pure inventions of the aforesaid, made out of
bitter hatred and envy with the purpose of ruining his master. I
therefore demand that Henriet should be put on the rack, that he may
be brought to give the lie to his former statements."

"You forget," replied de l'Hospital, "that the rack is for those who
do _not_ confess, and not for those who freely acknowledge their
crimes. Therefore I order the second accused, Etienne Cornillant,
alias Pontou, to be placed on the rack if he continues silent. Pontou!
will you speak or will you not?"

"Monseigneur, he will speak!" exclaimed Henriet. Oh, Pontou, dear
friend, resist not God any more."

"Well then, messeigneurs," said Pontou, with emotion; "I will satisfy
you; I cannot defend my poor lord against the allegations of Henriet,
who has confessed all through dread of eternal damnation."

He then fully substantiated all the statements of the other, adding
other facts of the same character, known only to himself.

Notwithstanding the avowal of Pontou and Henriet, the adjourned trial
was not hurried on. It would have been easy to have captured some of
the accomplices of the wretched man; but the duke, who was informed of
the whole of the proceedings, did not wish to augment the scandal by
increasing the number of the accused. He even forbade researches to be
made in the castles and mansions of the Sire de Retz, fearing lest
proofs of fresh crimes, more mysterious and more horrible than those
already divulged, should come to light.

The dismay spread through the country by the revelations already made,
demanded that religion and morality, which had been so grossly
outraged, should be speedily avenged. People wondered at the delay in
pronouncing sentence, and it was loudly proclaimed in Nantes that the
Sire de Retz was rich enough to purchase his life. It is true that
Madame de Retz solicited the king and the duke again to give pardon to
her husband; but the duke, counselled by the bishop, refused to extend
his authority to interfere with the course of justice; and the king,
after having sent one of his councillors to Nantes to investigate the
case, determined not to stir in it.

                            CHAPTER XIII.


On the 24th October the trial of the Maréchal de Retz was resumed. The
prisoner entered in a Carmelite habit, knelt and prayed in silence
before the examination began. Then he ran his eye over the court, and
the sight of the rack, windlass, and cords made a slight shudder run
through him.

"Messire Gilles de Laval," began the president; "you appear before me
now for the second time to answer to a certain requisition read by M.
le Lieutenant du Procureur de Nantes."

"I shall answer frankly, monseigneur," said the prisoner calmly; "but
I reserve the right of appeal to the benign intervention of the very
venerated majesty of the King of France, of whom I am, or have been,
chamberlain and marshal, as may be proved by my letters patent duly
enregistered in the parliament at Paris--"

"This is no affair of the King of France," interrupted Pierre de
l'Hospital; "if you were chamberlain and marshal of his Majesty, you
are also vassal of his grace the Duke of Brittany."

"I do not deny it; but, on the contrary, I trust to his Grace of
Brittany to allow me to retire to a convent of Carmelites, there to
repent me of my sins."

"That is as may be; will you confess, or must I send you to the rack?"

"Torture me not!" exclaimed Gilles de Retz "I will confess all. Tell
me first, what have Henriet and Pontou said?"

"They have confessed. M. le Lieutenant du Procureur shall read you
their allegations."

"Not so," said the lieutenant, who continued to show favour to the
accused; "I pronounce them false, unless Messire de Retz confirms them
by oath, which God forbid!"

Pierre de l'Hospital made a motion of anger to check this scandalous
pleading in favour of the accused, and then nodded to the clerk to
read the evidence.

The Sire do Retz, on hearing that his servants had made such explicit
avowals of their acts, remained motionless, as though thunderstruck.
He saw that it was in vain for him to equivocate, and that he would
have to confess all.

"What have you to say?" asked the president, when the confessions of
Henriet and Pontou had been read.

"Say what befits you, my lord," interrupted the lieutenant du
procureur, as though to indicate to the accused the line he was to
take: "are not these abominable lies and calumnies trumped up to ruin

"Alas, no!" replied the Sire do Retz; and his face was pale as death:
"Henriet and Pontou have spoken the truth. God has loosened their

"My lord! relieve yourself of the burden of your crimes by
acknowledging them at once," said M. do l'Hospital earnestly.

"Messires!" said the prisoner, after a moment's silence: "it is quite
true that I have robbed mothers of their little ones; and that I have
killed their children, or caused them to be killed, either by cutting
their throats with daggers or knives, or by chopping off their heads
with cleavers; or else I have had their skulls broken by hammers or
sticks; sometimes I had their limbs hewn off one after another; at
other times I have ripped them open, that I might examine their
entrails and hearts; I have occasionally strangled them or put them to
a slow death; and when the children were dead I had their bodies
burned and reduced to ashes."

"When did you begin your execrable practices?" asked Pierre de
l'Hospital, staggered by the frankness of these horrible avowals: "the
evil one must have possessed you."

"It came to me from myself,--no doubt at the instigation of the devil:
but still these acts of cruelty afforded me incomparable delight. The
desire to commit these atrocities came upon me eight years ago. I left
court to go to Chantoncé, that I might claim the property of my
grandfather, deceased. In the library of the castle I found a Latin
book--_Suetonius_, I believe--full of accounts of the cruelties of the
Roman Emperors. I read the charming history of Tiberius, Caracalla,
and other Cæsars, and the pleasure they took in watching the agonies
of tortured children. Thereupon I resolved to imitate and surpass
these same Cæsars, and that very night I began to do so. For some
while I confided my secret to no one, but afterwards I communicated it
to my cousin, Gilles de Sillé, then to Master Roger de Briqueville,
next in succession to Henriet, Pontou, Rossignol, and Robin." He then
confirmed all the accounts given by his two servants. He confessed to
about one hundred and twenty murders in a single year.

"An average of eight hundred in less than seven years!" exclaimed
Pierre de l'Hospital, with a cry of pain: "Ah! messire, you were
possessed! "

His confession was too explicit and circumstantial for the Lieutenant
du Procureur to say another word in his defence; but he pleaded that
the case should be made over to the ecclesiastical court, as there
were confessions of invocations of the devil and of witchcraft mixed
up with those of murder. Pierre de l'Hospital saw that the object of
the lieutenant was to gain time for Mme. de Retz to make a fresh
attempt to obtain a pardon; however he was unable to resist, so he
consented that the case should be transferred to the bishop's court.

But the bishop was not a man to let the matter slip, and there and
then a sergeant of the bishop summoned Gilles de Laval, Sire do Retz,
to appear forthwith before the ecclesiastical tribunal. The marshal
was staggered by this unexpected citation, and he did not think of
appealing against it to the president; he merely signed his readiness
to follow, and he was at once conducted into the ecclesiastical court
assembled hurriedly to try him.

This new trial lasted only a few hours.

The marshal, now thoroughly cowed, made no attempt to defend himself,
but he endeavoured to bribe the bishop into leniency, by promises of
the surrender of all his lands and goods to the Church, and begged to
be allowed to retire into the Carmelite monastery at Nantes.

His request was peremptorily refused, and sentence of death was
pronounced against him.

On the 25th October, the ecclesiastical court having pronounced
judgment, the sentence was transmitted to the secular court, which had
now no pretext upon which to withhold ratification.

There was some hesitation as to the kind of death the marshal was to
suffer. The members of the secular tribunal were not unanimous on this
point. The president put it to the vote, and collected the votes
himself; then he reseated himself, covered his head, and said in a
solemn voice:--

"The court, notwithstanding the quality, dignity, and nobility of the
accused, condemns him to be hung and burned. Wherefore I admonish you
who are condemned, to ask pardon of God, and grace to die well, in
great contrition for having committed the said crimes. And the said
sentence shall be carried into execution to-morrow morning between
eleven and twelve o'clock." A similar sentence was pronounced upon
Henriet and Pontou.

On the morrow, October 26th, at nine o'clock in the morning, a general
procession composed of half the people of Nantes, the clergy and the
bishop bearing the blessed Sacrament, left the cathedral and went
round the city visiting each of the principal churches, where masses
were said for the three under sentence.

At eleven the prisoners were conducted to the place of execution,
which was in the meadow of Biesse, on the further side of the Loire.

Three gibbets had been erected, one higher than the others, and
beneath each was a pile of faggots, tar, and brushwood.

It was a glorious, breezy day, not a cloud was to be seen in the blue
heavens; the Loire rolled silently towards the sea its mighty volumes
of turbid water, seeming bright and blue as it reflected the
brilliancy and colour of the sky. The poplars shivered and whitened in
the fresh air with a pleasant rustle, and the willows flickered and
wavered above the stream.

A vast crowd had assembled round the gallows; it was with difficulty
that a way was made for the condemned, who came on chanting the _De
profundis_. The spectators of all ages took up the psalm and chanted
it with them, so that the surge of the old Gregorian tone might have
been heard by the duke and the bishop, who had shut themselves up in
the château of Nantes during the hour of execution.

After the close of the psalm, which was terminated by the _Requiem
æternam_ instead of the _Gloria_, the Sire de Retz thanked those who
had conducted him, and then embraced Pontou and Henriet, before
delivering himself of the following address, or rather sermon:--

"My very dear friends and servants, be strong and courageous against
the assaults of the devil, and feel great displeasure and contrition
for your ill deeds, without despairing of God's mercy. Believe with
me, that there is no sin, however great, in the world, which God, in
his grace and loving kindness, will not pardon, when one asks it of
Him with contrition of heart. Remember that the Lord God is always
more ready to receive the sinner than is the sinner to ask of Him
pardon. Moreover, let us very humbly thank Him for his great love to
us in letting us die in full possession of our faculties, and not
cutting us off suddenly in the midst of our misdeeds. Let us conceive
such a love of God, and such repentance, that we shall not fear death,
which is only a little pang, without which we could not see God in his
glory. Besides we must desire to be freed from this world, in which is
only misery, that we may go to everlasting glory. Let us rejoice
rather, for although we have sinned grievously here below, yet we
shall be united in Paradise, our souls being parted from our bodies,
and we shall be together for ever and ever, if only we endure in our
pious and honourable contrition to our last sigh." [1] Then the
marshal, who was to be executed first, left his companions and placed
himself in the hands of his executioners. He took off his cap, knelt,
kissed a crucifix, and made a pious oration to the crowd much in the
style of his address to his friends Pontou and Henriet.

[1. The case of the Sire de Retz is one to make us see the great
danger there is in trusting to feelings in matters of religion. "If
thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," said our Lord. How
many hope to go to heaven because they have pious emotions!]

Then he commenced reciting the prayers of the dying; the executioner
passed the cord round his neck, and adjusted the knot. He mounted a
tall stool, erected at the foot of the gallows as a last honour paid
to the nobility of the criminal. The pile of firewood was lighted
before the executioners had left him.

Pontou and Henriet, who were still on their knees, raised their eyes
to their master and cried to him, extending their arms,--

"At this last hour, monseigneur, be a good and valiant soldier of God,
and remember the passion of Jesus Christ which wrought our redemption.
Farewell, we hope soon to meet in Paradise!

The stool was cast down, and the Sire de Retz dropped. The fire roared
up, the flames leaped about him, and enveloped him as be swung.

Suddenly, mingling with the deep booming of the cathedral bell,
swelled up the wild unearthly wail of the _Dies iræ_.

No sound among the crowd, only the growl of the fire, and the solemn
strain of the hymn

    Lo, the Book, exactly worded,
    Wherein all hath been recorded;
    Thence shall judgment be awarded.
    When the Judge his seat attaineth,
    And each hidden deed arraigneth,
    Nothing unavenged remaineth.
    What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
    Who for me be interceding?
    When the just are mercy needing.
    King of Majesty tremendous,
    Who dost free salvation send us,
    Fount of pity! then befriend us.
    *    *    *    *
    Low I kneel, with heart-submission;
    See, like ashes, my contrition--
    Help me in my last condition!
    Ah I that day of tears and mourning!
    From the dust of earth returning,
    Man for judgment must prepare him!
    Spare, O, God, in mercy spare him!
    Lord, who didst our souls redeem,
    Grant a blessed requiem!

Six women, veiled, and robed in white, and six Carmelites advanced.
bearing a coffin.

It was whispered that one of the veiled women was Madame de Retz, and
that the others were members of the most illustrious houses of

The cord by which the marshal was hung was cut, and he fell into a
cradle of iron prepared to receive the corpse. The body was removed
before the fire had gained any mastery over it. It was placed in the
coffin., and the monks and the women transported it to the Carmelite
monastery of Nantes, according to the wishes of the deceased.

In the meantime, the sentence had been executed upon Pontou and
Henriet; they were hung and burned to dust. Their ashes were cast to
the winds; whilst in the Carmelite church of Our Lady were celebrated
with pomp the obsequies of the very high, very powerful, very
illustrious Seigneur Gilles de Laval, Sire de Retz, late Chamberlain
of King Charles VII., and Marshal of France!

                             CHAPTER XIV.

                        A GALICIAN WERE-WOLF.

The inhabitants of Austrian Galicia are quiet, inoffensive people,
take them as a whole. The Jews, who number a twelfth of the
population, are the most intelligent, energetic, and certainly the
most money-making individuals in the province, though the Poles
proper, or Mazurs, are not devoid of natural parts.

Perhaps as remarkable a phenomenon as any other in that kingdom--for
kingdom of Waldimir it was--is the enormous numerical preponderance of
the nobility over the untitled. In 1837 the proportions stood thus:
32,190 nobles to 2,076 tradesmen.

The average of execution for crime is nine a year, out of a population
of four and a half millions,--by no means a high figure, considering
the peremptory way in which justice is dealt forth in that province.
Yet, in the most quiet and well-disposed neighbourhoods, occasionally
the most startling atrocities are committed, occurring when least
expected, and sometimes perpetrated by the very person who is least

Just sixteen years ago there happened in the circle of Tornow, in
Western Galicia-the province is divided into nine circles-a
circumstance which will probably furnish the grandames with a story
for their firesides, during their bitter Galician winters, for many a
long year.

In the circle of Tornow, in the lordship of Parkost, is a little
hamlet called Polomyja, consisting of eight hovels and a Jewish
tavern. The inhabitants are mostly woodcutters, hewing down the firs
of the dense forest in which their village is situated, and conveying
them to the nearest water, down which they are floated to the Vistula.
Each tenant pays no rent for his cottage and pitch of field, but is
bound to work a fixed number of days for his landlord: a practice
universal in Galicia, and often productive of much discontent and
injustice, as the proprietor exacts labour from his tenant on those
days when the harvest has to be got in, or the land is m best
condition for tillage, and just when the peasant would gladly be
engaged upon his own small plot. Money is scarce in the province, and
this is accordingly the only way in which the landlord can be sure of
his dues.

Most of the villagers of Polomyja are miserably poor; but by
cultivating a little maize, and keeping a few fowls or a pig, they
scrape together sufficient to sustain life. During the summer the men
collect resin from the pines, from each of which, once in twelve
Years, they strip a slip of bark, leaving the resin to exude and
trickle into a small earthenware jar at its roots; and, during the
winter, as already stated, they fell the trees and roll them down to
the river.

Polomyja is not a cheerful spot--nested among dense masses of pine,
which shed a gloom over the little hamlet; yet, on a fine day, it is
pleasant enough for the old women to sit at their cottage doors,
scenting that matchless pine fragrance, sweeter than the balm of the
Spice Islands, for there is nothing cloying in that exquisite and
exhilarating odour; listening to the harp-like thrill of the breeze in
the old grey tree-tops, and knitting quietly at long stockings, whilst
their little grandchildren romp in the heather and tufted fern.

Towards evening, too, there is something indescribably beautiful in
the firwood. The sun dives among the trees, and paints their boles
with patches of luminous saffron, or falling over a level clearing,
glorifies it with its orange dye, so visibly contrasting with the
blue-purple shadow on the western rim of unreclaimed forest, deep and
luscious as the bloom on a plum. The birds then are hastening to their
nests, a ger-falcon, high overhead, is kindled with sunlight; capering
and gambolling among the branches, the merry squirrel skips home for
the night.

The sun goes down, but the sky is still shining with twilight. The
wild cat begins to hiss and squall in the forest, the heron to flap
hastily by, the stork on the top of the tavern chimney to poise itself
on one leg for sleep. To-whoo! an owl begins to wake up. Hark! the
woodcutters are coming home with a song.

Such is Polomyja in summer time, and much resembling it are the
hamlets scattered about the forest, at intervals of a few miles; in
each, the public-house being the most commodious and best-built
edifice, the church, whenever there is one, not remarkable for
anything but its bulbous steeple.

You would hardly believe that amidst all this poverty a beggar could
have picked up any subsistence, and yet, a few years ago, Sunday after
Sunday, there sat a white-bearded venerable man at the church door,
asking alms.

Poor people are proverbially compassionate and liberal, so that the
old man generally got a few coppers, and often some good woman bade
him come into her cottage, and let him have some food.

Occasionally Swiatek--that was the beggar's name, went his rounds
selling small pinchbeck ornaments and beads; generally, however, only
appealing to charity.

One Sunday, after church, a Mazur and his wife invited the old man
into their hut and gave him a crust of pie and some meat. There were
several children about, but a little girl, of nine or ten, attracted
the old man's attention by her artless tricks.

Swiatek felt in his pocket and produced a ring, enclosing a piece of
coloured glass set over foil. This he presented to the child, who ran
off delighted to show her acquisition to her companions.

"Is that little maid your daughter?" asked the beggar.

"No," answered the house-wife, "she is an orphan; there was a widow in
this place who died, leaving the child, and I have taken charge of
her; one mouth more will not matter much, and the good God will bless

"Ay, ay! to be sure He will; the orphans and fatherless are under His
own peculiar care."

"She's a good little thing, and gives no trouble," observed the woman.
"You go back to Polomyja tonight, I reckon."

"I do--ah!" exclaimed Swiatek, as the little girl ran up to him. You
like the ring, is it not beautiful? I found it under a big fir to the
left of the churchyard,there may be dozens there. You must turn round
three times, bow to the moon, and say, 'Zaboï!' then look among the
tree-roots till you find one."

"Come along!" screamed the child to its comrades; "we will go and look
for rings."

"You must seek separately," said Swiatek.

The children scampered off into the wood.

"I have done one good thing for you," laughed the beggar, "in ridding
you, for a time, of the noise of those children."

"I am glad of a little quiet now and then," said the woman; "the
children will not let the baby sleep at times with their clatter. Are
you going?"

"Yes; I must reach Polomyja to-night. I am old and very feeble, and
poor"--he began to fall into his customary whine-- very poor, but I
thank and pray to God for you."

Swiatek left the cottage.

_That little orphan was never seen again._

The Austrian Government has, of late years, been vigorously advancing
education among the lower orders, and establishing schools throughout
the province.

The children were returning from class one day, and were scattered
among the trees, some pursuing a field-mouse, others collecting
juniper-berries, and some sauntering with their hands in their
pockets, whistling.

"Where's Peter?" asked one little boy of another who was beside him.
"We three go home the same way, let us go together."

"Peter!" shouted the lad.

"Here I am!" was the answer from among the trees; "I'll be with you

"Oh, I see him!" said the elder boy. "There is some one talking to


"Yonder, among the pines. Ah! they have gone further into the shadow,
and I cannot see them any more. I wonder who was with him; a man, I

The boys waited till they were tired, and then they sauntered home,
determined to thrash Peter for having kept them waiting. _But Peter
was never seen again._

Some time after this a servant-girl, belonging to a small store kept
by a Russian, disappeared from a village five miles from Polomyja. She
had been sent with a parcel of grocery to a cottage at no very great
distance, but lying apart from the main cluster of hovels, and
surrounded by trees.

The day closed in, and her master waited her return anxiously, but as
several hours elapsed without any sign of her, he--assisted by the
neighbours--went in search of her.

A slight powdering of snow covered the ground, and her footsteps could
be traced at intervals where she had diverged from the beaten track.
In that part of the road where the trees were thickest, there were
marks of two pair of feet leaving the path; but owing to the density
of the trees at that spot and to the slightness of the fall of snow,
which did not reach the soil, where shaded by the pines, the
footprints were immediately lost. By the following morning a heavy
fall had obliterated any further traces which day-light might have

_The servant-girl also was never seen again._

During the winter of 1849 the wolves were supposed to have been
particularly ravenous, for thus alone did people account for the
mysterious disappearances of children.

A little boy had been sent to a fountain to fetch water; the pitcher
was found standing by the well, but _the boy had vanished_. The
villagers turned out, and those wolves which could be found were

We have already introduced our readers to Polomyja, although the
occurrences above related did not take place among those eight hovels,
but in neighbouring villages. The reason for our having given a more
detailed account of this cluster of houses--rude cabins they
were--will now become apparent.

In May, 1849, the innkeeper of Polomyja missed a couple of ducks, and
his suspicions fell upon the beggar who lived there, and whom he held
in no esteem, as he himself was a hard-working industrious man, whilst
Swiatek maintained himself, his wife, and children by mendicity,
although possessed of sufficient arable land to yield an excellent
crop of maize, and produce vegetables, if tilled with ordinary care.

As the publican approached the cottage a fragrant whiff of roast
greeted his nostrils.

"I'll catch the fellow in the act," said the innkeeper to himself,
stealing up to the door, and taking good care not to be observed.

As he threw open the door, he saw the mendicant hurriedly shuffle
something under his feet, and conceal it beneath his long clothes. The
publican was on him in an instant, had him by the throat, charged him
with theft, and dragged him from his seat. Judge of his sickening
horror when from beneath the pauper's clothes rolled forth the head of
a girl about the age of fourteen or fifteen years, carefully separated
from the trunk.

In a short while the neighbours came up. The venerable Swiatek was
locked up, along with his wife, his daughter--a girl of sixteen--and a
son, aged five.

The hut was thoroughly examined, and the mutilated remains of the poor
girl discovered. In a vat were found the legs and thighs, partly raw,
partly stewed or roasted. In a chest were the heart, liver, and
entrails, all prepared and cleaned, as neatly as though done by a
skilful butcher; and, finally, under the oven was a bowl full of fresh
blood. On his way to the magistrate of the district. the wretched man
flung himself repeatedly on the ground, struggled with his guards, and
endeavoured to suffocate himself by gulping clown clods of earth and
stones, but was prevented by his conductors.

When taken before the Protokoll at Dabkow, he stated that he had
already killed and--assisted by his family--eaten six persons: his
children, however, asserted most positively that the number was much
greater than he had represented, and their testimony is borne out by
the fact, that the remains of _fourteen_ different caps and suits of
clothes, male as well as female, were found in his house.

The origin of this horrible and depraved taste was as follows,
according to Swiatek's own confession:--

In 1846, three years previous, a Jewish tavern in the neighbourhood
had been burned down, and the host had himself perished in the flames.
Swiatek, whilst examining the ruins, had found the half-roasted corpse
of the publican among the charred rafters of the house. At that time
the old man was craving with hunger, having been destitute of food for
some time. The scent and the sight of the roasted flesh inspired him
with an uncontrollable desire to taste of it. He tore off a portion of
the carcase and satiated his hunger upon it, and at the same time he
conceived such a liking for it, that he could feel no rest till he had
tasted again. His second victim was the orphan above alluded to; since
then--that is, during the period of no less than three years--he had
frequently subsisted in the same manner, and had actually grown sleek
and fat upon his frightful meals.

The excitement roused by the discovery of these atrocities was
intense; several poor mothers who had bewailed the loss of their
little ones, felt their wounds reopened agonisingly. Popular
indignation rose to the highest pitch: there was some fear lest the
criminal should be torn in pieces himself by the enraged people, as
soon as he was brought to trial: but he saved the necessity of
precautions being taken to ensure his safety, for, on the first night
of his confinement, he hanged himself from the bars of the

                             CHAPTER XV.


It is well known that Oriental romance is full of stories of violators
of graves. Eastern superstition attributes to certain individuals a
passion for unearthing corpses and mangling them. Of a moonlight night
weird forms are seen stealing among the tombs, and burrowing into them
with their long nails, desiring to reach the bodies of the dead ere
the first streak of dawn compels them to retire. These ghouls, as they
are called, are supposed generally to require the flesh of the dead
for incantations or magical compositions, but very often they are
actuated by the sole desire of rending the sleeping corpse, and
disturbing its repose. There is every probability that these ghouls
were no mere creations of the imagination, but were actual
resurrectionists. Human fat and the hair of a corpse which has grown
in the grave, form ingredients in many a necromantic receipt, and the
witches who compounded these diabolical mixtures, would unearth
corpses in order to obtain the requisite ingredients. It was the same
in the middle ages, and to such an extent did the fear of ghouls
extend, that it was common in Brittany for churchyards to be provided
with lamps, kept burning during the night, that witches might be
deterred from venturing under cover of darkness to open the graves.

Fornari gives the following story of a ghoul in his _History of

In the beginning of the 15th century, there lived at Bagdad an aged
merchant who had grown wealthy in his business, and who had an only
son to whom he was tenderly attached. He resolved to marry him to the
daughter of another merchant, a girl of considerable fortune, but
without any personal attractions. Abul-Hassan, the merchant's son, on
being shown the portrait of the lady, requested his father to delay
the marriage till he could reconcile his mind to it. Instead, however,
of doing this, he fell in love with another girl, the daughter of a
sage, and he gave his father no peace till he consented to the
marriage with the object of his affections. The old man stood out as
long as he could, but finding that his son was bent on acquiring the
hand of the fair Nadilla, and was equally resolute not to accept the
rich and ugly lady, he did what most fathers, under such
circumstances, are constrained to do, he acquiesced.

The wedding took place with great pomp and ceremony, and a happy
honeymoon ensued, which might have been happier but for one little
circumstance which led to very serious consequences.

Abul-Hassan noticed that his bride quitted the nuptial couch as soon
as she thought her husband was asleep, and did not return to it, till
an boar before dawn.

Filled with curiosity, Hassan one night feigned sleep, and saw his
wife rise and leave the room as usual. He followed cautiously, and saw
her enter a cemetery. By the straggling moonbeams he beheld her go
into a tomb; he stepped in after her.

The scene within was horrible. A party of ghouls were assembled with
the spoils of the graves they had violated., and were feasting on the
flesh of the long-buried corpses. His own wife, who, by the way, never
touched supper at home, played no inconsiderable part in the hideous

As soon as he could safely escape, Abul-Hassan stole back to his bed.

He said nothing to his bride till next evening when supper was laid,
and she declined to eat; then he insisted on her partaking, and when
she positively refused, he exclaimed wrathfully,--"Yes, you keep your
appetite for your feast with the ghouls!" Nadilla was silent; she
turned pale and trembled, and without a word sought her bed. At
midnight she rose, fell on her husband with her nails and teeth, tore
his throat, and having opened a vein, attempted to suck his blood; but
Abul-Hassan springing to his feet threw her down, and with a blow
killed her. She was buried next day.

Three days after, at midnight, she re-appeared, attacked her husband
again, and again attempted to suck his blood. He fled from her, and on
the morrow opened her tomb, burned her to ashes, and cast them into
the Tigris.

This story connects the ghoul with the vampire. As will be seen by a
former chapter, the were-wolf and the vampire are closely related.

That the ancients held the same belief that the witches violate
corpses, is evident from the third episode in the _Golden Ass_ of
Apuleius. I will only quote the words of the crier:--

"I pray thee, tell me," replied I, "of what kind are the duties
attached to this funeral guardianship?" "Duties!" quoth the crier;
"why, keep wide awake all night, with thine eyes fixed steadily upon
the corpse, neither winking nor blinking, nor looking to the right nor
looking to the left, either to one side or the other, be it even
little; for the witches, infamous wretches that they are! can slip out
of their skins in an instant and change themselves into the form of
any animal they have a mind; and then they crawl along so slyly, that
the eyes of justice, nay, the eyes of the sun himself, are not keen
enough to perceive them. At all events, their wicked devices are
infinite in number and variety; and whether it be in the shape of a
bird, or a dog, or a mouse, or even of a common house-fly, that they
exercise their dire incantations, if thou art not vigilant in the
extreme, they will deceive thee one way or other, and overwhelm thee
with sleep; nevertheless, as regards the reward, 'twill be from four
to six aurei; nor, although 'tis a perilous service, wilt thou receive
more. Nay, hold! I had almost forgotten to give thee a necessary
caution. Clearly understand, that it the corpse be not restored to the
relatives entire, the deficient pieces of flesh torn off by the teeth
of the witches must be replaced from the face of the sleepy guardian."

Here we have the rending of corpses connected with change of form.

Marcassus relates that after a long war in Syria, during the night,
troops of lamias, female evil spirits, appeared upon the field of
battle, unearthing the hastily buried bodies of the soldiers, and
devouring the flesh off their bones. They were pursued and fired upon,
and some young men succeeded in killing a considerable number; but
during the day they had all of them the forms of wolves or hyænas.
That there is a foundation of truth in these horrible stories, and
that it is quite possible for a human being to be possessed of a
depraved appetite for rending corpses, is proved by an extraordinary
case brought before a court-martial in Paris, so late as July 10th,

The details are given with fulness in the _Annales
Medico-psychologiques_ for that month and year. They are too revolting
for reproduction. I will, however, give an outline of this remarkable

In the autumn of 1848, several of the cemeteries in the neighbourhood
of Paris were found to have been entered during the night, and graves
to have been rifled. The deeds were not those of medical students, for
the bodies had not been carried of, but were found lying about the
tombs in fragments. It was at first supposed that the perpetration of
these outrages must have been a wild beast, but footprints in the soft
earth left no doubt that it was a man. Close watch was kept at Père la
Chaise; but after a few corpses had been mangled there, the outrages

In the winter, another cemetery was ravaged, and it was not till March
in 1849, that a spring gun which had been set in the cemetery of S.
Parnasse, went off during the night, and warned the guardians of the
place that the mysterious visitor had fallen into their trap. They
rushed to the spot, only to see a dark figure in a military mantle
leap the wall, and disappear in the gloom. Marks of blood, however,
gave evidence that he had been hit by the gun when it had discharged.
At the same time, a fragment of blue cloth, torn from the mantle, was
obtained, and afforded a clue towards the identification of the
ravisher of the tombs.

On the following day, the police went from barrack to barrack,
inquiring whether officer or man were suffering from a gun-shot wound.
By this means they discovered the person. He was a junior officer in
the 1st Infantry regiment, of the name of Bertrand.

He was taken to the hospital to be cured of his wound, and on his
recovery, he was tried by court-martial.

His history was this.

He had been educated in the theological seminary of Langres, till, at
the age of twenty, he entered the army. He was a young man of retiring
habits, frank and cheerful to his comrades, so as to be greatly
beloved by them, of feminine delicacy and refinement, and subject to
fits of depression and melancholy. In February, 1847, as he was
walking with a friend in the country, he came to a churchyard, the
gate of which stood open. The day before a woman had been buried, but
the sexton had not completed filling in the grave, and he had been
engaged upon it on the present occasion, when a storm of rain had
driven him to shelter. Bertrand noticed the spade and pick lying
beside the grave, and--to use his own words:--"A cette vue des idées
noires me vinrent, j'eus comme un violent mal de tête, mon cur battait
avec force, je no me possédais plus." He managed by some excuse to get
rid of his companion, and then returning to the churchyard, he caught
up a spade and began to dig into the grave. "Soon I dragged the corpse
out of the earth, and I began to hash it with the spade, without well
knowing what I was about. A labourer saw me, and I laid myself flat on
the ground till he was out of sight, and then I cast the body back
into the grave. I then went away, bathed in a cold sweat, to a little
grove, where I reposed for several hours, notwithstanding the cold
rain which fell, in a condition of complete exhaustion. When I rose,
my limbs were as if broken, and my head weak. The same prostration and
sensation followed each attack.

Two days after, I returned to the cemetery, and opened the grave with
my hands. My hands bled, but I did not feel the pain; I tore the
corpse to shreds, and flung it back into the pit."

He had no further attack for four months, till his regiment came to
Paris. As he was one day walking in the gloomy, shadowy, alleys of
Père la Chaise, the same feeling came over him like a flood. In the
night he climbed the wall, and dug up a little girl of seven years
old. He tore her in half. A few days later, he opened the grave of a
woman who had died in childbirth, and had lain in the grave for
thirteen days. On the 16th November, he dug up an old woman of fifty,
and, ripping her to pieces, rolled among the fragments. He did the
same to another corpse on the 12th December. These are only a few of
the numerous cases of violation of tombs to which he owned. It was on
the night of the 15th March that the spring-gun shot him.

Bertrand declared at his trial, that whilst he was in the hospital he
had not felt any desire to renew his attempts, and that he considered
himself cured of his horrible propensities, for he had seen men dying
in the beds around him, and now: "Je suis guéri, car aujourd'hui j'ai
peur d'un mort."

The fits of exhaustion which followed his accesses are very
remarkable, as they precisely resemble those which followed the
berserkir rages of the Northmen, and the expeditions of the

The case of M. Bertrand is indubitably most singular and anomalous; it
scarcely bears the character of insanity, but seems to point rather to
a species of diabolical possession. At first the accesses chiefly
followed upon his drinking wine, but after a while they came upon him
without exciting cause. The manner in which he mutilated the dead was
different. Some he chopped with the spade, others he tore and ripped
with his teeth and nails. Sometimes he tore the mouth open and rent
the face back to the ears, he opened the stomachs, and pulled off the
limbs. Although he dug up the bodies of several men he felt no
inclination to mutilate them, whereas he delighted in rending female
corpses. He was sentenced to a year's imprisonment.

                             CHAPTER XVI.

                      A SERMON ON WERE-WOLVES.

THE following curious specimen of a late mediæval sermon is taken from
the old German edition of the discourses of Dr. Johann Geiler von
Keysersperg, a famous preacher in Strasbourg. The volume is entitled:
"_Die Emeis_. Dis ist das Büch von der Omeissen, und durch Herr der
Künnig ich diente gern. Und sagt von Eigenschafft der Omeissen, und
gibt underweisung von der Unholden oder Hexen, und von Gespenst, der
Geist, und von dem Wütenden Heer Wunderbarlich."

This strange series of sermons was preached at Strasbourg in the year
1508, and was taken down and written out by a barefooted friar, Johann
Pauli, and by him published in 1517. The doctor died on Mid-Lent
Sunday, 1510. There is a Latin edition of his sermons, but whether of
the same series or not I cannot tell, as I have been unable to obtain
a sight of the volume. The German edition is illustrated with bold and
clever woodcuts. Among other, there are representations of the
Witches' Sabbath, the Wild Huntsman, and a Werewolf attacking a Man.

The sermon was preached on the third Sunday in Lent. No text is given,
but there is a general reference to the gospel for the day. This is
the discourse:-- [1]

[1. Headed thus:--"Am drittë sontag à fastê, occuli, predigt dé doctor
vô dê Werwölffenn."]

"What shall we say about were-wolves? for there are were-wolves which
run about the villages devouring men and children. As men say about
them, they run about full gallop, injuring men, and are called
ber-wölff, or wer-wölff. Do you ask me if I know aught about them? I
answer, Yes. They are apparently wolves which cat men and children,
and that happens on seven accounts:--

    1. Esuriem       Hunger.
    2. Rabiem        Savageness.
    3. Senectutem    Old age.
    4. Experientiam  Experience.
    5. Insaniem      Madness.
    6. Diabolum      The Devil.
    7. Deum          God.

The first happens through hunger; when the wolves find nothing to eat
in the woods, they must come to people and eat men when hunger drives
them to it. You see well, when it is very cold, that the stags come in
search of food up to the villages, and the birds actually into the
dining-room in search of victuals.

"Under the second head, wolves eat children through their innate
savageness, because they are savage, and that is (propter locum coitum
ferum). Their savageness arises first from their condition. Wolves
which live in cold places are smaller on that account, and more savage
than other wolves. Secondly, their savageness depends on the season;
they are more savage about Candlemas than at any other time of the
year, and men must be more on their guard against them then than at
other times. It is a proverb, 'He who seeks a wolf at Candlemas, a
peasant on Shrove Tuesday, and a parson in Lent, is a man of pluck.' .
. . Thirdly, their savageness depends on their having young. When the
wolves have young, they are more savage than when they have not. You
see it so in all beasts. A wild duck, when it has young poults, you
see what an uproar it makes. A cat fights for its young kittens; the
wolves do ditto.

"Under the third head, the wolves do injury on account of their age.
When a wolf is old, it is weak and feeble in its leas, so it can't ran
fast enough to catch stags, and therefore it rends a man, whom it can
catch easier than a wild animal. It also tears children and men easier
than wild animals, because of its teeth, for its teeth break off when
it is very old; you see it well in old women: how the last teeth
wobble, and they have scarcely a tooth left in their heads, and they
open their mouths for men to feed them with mash and stewed

"Under the fourth head, the injury the were-wolves do arises from
experience. It is said that human flesh is far sweeter than other
flesh; so when a wolf has once tasted human flesh, he desires to taste
it again. So he acts like old topers, who, when they know the best
wine, will not be put off with inferior quality.

"Under the fifth head, the injury arises from ignorance. A dog when it
is mad is also inconsiderate, and it bites any man; it does not
recognize its own lord: and what is a wolf but a wild dog which is mad
and inconsiderate, so that it regards no man.

"Under the sixth head, the injury comes of the Devil, who transforms
himself, and takes on him the form of a wolf So writes Vincentius in
his _Speculum Historiale_. And he has taken it from Valerius Maximus
in the Punic war. When the Romans fought against the men of Africa,
when the captain lay asleep, there came a wolf and drew his sword, and
carried it off. That was the Devil in a, wolf's form. The like writes
William of Paris,--that a wolf will kill and devour children, and do
the greatest mischief. There was a man who had the phantasy that he
himself was a wolf. And afterwards he was found lying in the wood, and
he was dead out of sheer hunger.

"Under the seventh head, the injury comes of God's ordinance. For God
will sometimes punish certain lands and villages with wolves. So we
read of Elisha,--that when Elisha wanted to go up a mountain out of
Jericho, some naughty boys made a mock of him and said, 'O bald head,
step up! O glossy pate, step up!' What happened? He cursed them. Then
came two bears out of the desert and tore about forty-two of the
children. That was God's ordinance. The like we read of a prophet who
would set at naught the commands he had received of God, for he was
persuaded to eat bread at the house of another. As he went home he
rode upon his ass. Then came a lion which slew him and left the ass
alone. That was God's ordinance. Therefore must man turn to God when
He brings wild beasts to do him a mischief: which same brutes may He
not bring now or evermore. Amen."

It will be seen from this extraordinary sermon that Dr. Johann Geiler
von Keysersperg did not regard werewolves in any other light than
natural wolves filled with a lust for human flesh; and he puts aside
altogether the view that they are men in a state of metamorphosis.
However, he alludes to this superstition in his sermon on wild-men of
the woods, but translates his lycanthropists to Spain.

                               THE END.

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