"The Vampyre" (that's Vampyre with a 'Y') was written in 1819 by John Polidori, 80 years
before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. 'The Vampyre' is considered to be the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre of fantasy fiction, pre-dating Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’, and even Joss Whedon’s seminal work. The work has been described as "the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre."

Aubrey, a young Englishman, meets Lord Ruthven, a man of mysterious origins who has entered London society. Aubrey accompanies Ruthven to Rome, but leaves him after Ruthven seduces the daughter of a mutual acquaintance. Aubrey travels to Greece, where he becomes attracted to Ianthe, an innkeeper's daughter. Ianthe tells Aubrey about the legends of the vampire. Ruthven arrives at the scene and shortly thereafter Ianthe is killed by a vampire.

Ruthven is then mortally wounded by bandits and dies. Aubrey realizes that everyone whom Ruthven met ended up suffering. Aubrey returns to London and is amazed when Ruthven appears shortly thereafter, alive and well.  Ruthven then begins to seduce Aubrey's sister while Aubrey, helpless to protect his sister, has a nervous breakdown. Ruthven marries Aubrey's sister and on the wedding night…




by John Polidori - 1819

IT happened that in the midst of the dissipations attendant
upon a London winter, there appeared at the various parties of
the leaders of the ton a nobleman, more remarkable for his
singularities, than his rank. He gazed upon the mirth around
him, as if he could not participate therein. Apparently, the light
laughter of the fair only attracted his attention, that he might by
a look quell it, and throw fear into those breasts where
thoughtlessness reigned. Those who felt this sensation of awe,
could not explain whence it arose: some attributed it to the dead
grey eye, which, fixing upon the object's face, did not seem to
penetrate, and at one glance to pierce through to the inward
workings of the heart; but fell upon the cheek with a leaden ray
that weighed upon the skin it could not pass. His peculiarities
caused him to be invited to every house; all wished to see him,
and those who had been accustomed to violent excitement, and
now felt the weight of ennui, were pleased at having something
in their presence capable of engaging their attention. In spite of
the deadly hue of his face, which never gained a warmer tint,
either from the blush of modesty, or from the strong emotion of
passion, though its form and outline were beautiful, many of the
female hunters after notoriety attempted to win his attentions,
and gain, at least, some marks of what they might term affection:
Lady Mercer, who had been the mockery of every monster shewn
in drawing-rooms since her marriage, threw herself in his way,
and did all but put on the dress of a mountebank, to attract his
notice:—though in vain:—when she stood before him, though his
eyes were apparently fixed upon her's, still it seemed as if they
were unperceived;—even her unappalled impudence was baffled,
and she left, the field. But though the common adultress could
not influence even the guidance of his eyes, it was not that the
female sex was indifferent to him: yet such was the apparent
caution with which he spoke to the virtuous wife and innocent
daughter, that few knew he ever addressed himself to females. He
had, however, the reputation of a winning tongue; and whether
it was that it even overcame the dread of his singular character,
or that they were moved by his apparent hatred of vice, he was as
often among those females who form the boast of their sex from
their domestic virtues, as among those who sully it by their vices.
About the same time, there came to London a young
gentleman of the name of Aubrey: he was an orphan left with an
only sister in the possession of great wealth, by parents who died
while he was yet in childhood. Left also to himself by guardians,
who thought it their duty merely to take care of his fortune,
while they relinquished the more important charge of his mind
to the care of mercenary subalterns, he cultivated more his
imagination than his judgment. He had, hence, that high
romantic feeling of honour and candour, which daily ruins so
many milliners' apprentices. He believed all to sympathise with
virtue, and thought that vice was thrown in by Providence
merely for the picturesque effect of the scene, as we see in
romances: he thought that the misery of a cottage merely
consisted in the vesting of clothes, which were as warm, but
which were better adapted to the painter's eye by their irregular
folds and various coloured patches. He thought, in fine, that the
dreams of poets were the realities of life. He was handsome,
frank, and rich: for these reasons, upon his entering into the gay
circles, many mothers surrounded him, striving which should
describe with least truth their languishing or romping favourites:
the daughters at the same time, by their brightening
countenances when he approached, and by their sparkling eyes,
when he opened his lips, soon led him into false notions of his
talents and his merit. Attached as lie was to the romance of his
solitary hours, he was startled at finding, that, except in the
tallow and wax candles that flickered, not from the presence of a
ghost, but from want of snuffing, there was no foundation in
real life for any of that congeries of pleasing pictures and
descriptions contained in those volumes, from which he had
formed his study. Finding, however, some compensation in his
gratified vanity, he was about to relinquish his dreams, when the
extraordinary being we have above described, crossed him in his
contact: allowing his imagination to picture every thing that
flattered its propensity to extravagant ideas, he soon formed this
object into the hero of a romance, and determined to observe the
offspring of his fancy, rather than the person before him. He
became acquainted with him, paid him attentions, and so far
advanced upon his notice, that his presence was always
recognised. He gradually learnt that Lord Ruthven's affairs were
embarrassed, and soon found, from the notes of preparation in
Street, that he was about to travel. Desirous of gaining some
information respecting this singular character, who, till now,
had only whetted his curiosity, he hinted to his guardians, that it
was time for him to perform the tour, which for many
generations has been thought necessary to enable the young to
take some rapid steps in the career of vice towards putting
themselves upon an equality with the aged, and not allowing
them to appear as if fallen from the skies, whenever scandalous
intrigues are mentioned as the subjects of pleasantry or of praise,
according to the degree of skill shewn in carrying them on. They
consented: and Aubrey immediately mentioning his intentions
to Lord Ruthven, was surprised to receive from him a proposal to
join him. Flattered by such a mark of esteem from him, who,
apparently, had nothing in common with other men, he gladly
accepted it, and in a few days they had passed the circling waters.
He watched him; and the very impossibility of forming an idea Hitherto, Aubrey had had no opportunity of studying Lord
of the character of a man entirely absorbed in himself, who gave Ruthven's character, and now he found, that, though many more
few other signs of his observation of external objects, than the of his actions were exposed to his view, the results offered
tacit assent to their existence, implied by the avoidance of their different conclusions from the apparent motives to his conduct.
His companion was profuse in his liberality; the idle, the
vagabond, and the beggar, received from his hand more than
enough to relieve their immediate wants. But Aubrey could not
avoid remarking, that it was not upon the virtuous, reduced to
indigence by the misfortunes attendant even upon virtue, that he
bestowed his alms;—these were sent from the door with hardly
suppressed sneers; but when the profligate came to ask
something, not to relieve his wants, but to allow him to wallow
in his lust, or to sink him still deeper in his iniquity, he was sent
away with rich charity. This was, however, attributed by him to
the greater importunity of the vicious, which generally prevails
over the retiring bashfulness of the virtuous indigent. There was
one circumstance about the charity of his Lordship, which was
still more impressed upon his mind: all those upon whom it was
bestowed, inevitably found that there was a curse upon it, for
they were all either led to the scaffold, or sunk to the lowest and
the most abject misery. At Brussels and other towns through
which they passed, Aubrey was surprized at the apparent
eagerness with which his companion sought for the centres of all
fashionable vice; there he entered into all the spirit of the faro
table: he betted, and always gambled with success, except where
the known sharper was his antagonist, and then he lost even
more than he gained; but it was always with the same
unchanging face, with which he generally watched the society
around: it was not, however, so when he encountered the rash
youthful novice, or the luckless father of a numerous family; then
his very wish seemed fortune's law—this apparent abstractedness
of mind was laid aside, and his eyes sparkled with more fire than
that of the cat whilst dallying with the half-dead mouse. In every
town, he left the formerly affluent youth, torn from the circle he
adorned, cursing, in the solitude of a dungeon, the fate that had
drawn him within the reach of this fiend; whilst many a father
sat frantic, amidst the speaking looks of mute hungry children,
without a single farthing of his late immense wealth, wherewith
to buy even sufficient to satisfy their present craving. Yet he took
no money from the gambling table; but immediately lost, to the
ruiner of many, the last gilder he had just snatched from the
convulsive grasp of the innocent: this might but be the result of a
certain degree of knowledge, which was not, however, capable of
combating the cunning of the more experienced. Aubrey often
wished to represent this to his friend, and beg him to resign that
charity and pleasure which proved the ruin of all, and did not
tend to his own profit;—but he delayed it—for each day he hoped
his friend would give him some opportunity of speaking frankly
and openly to him; however, this never occurred. Lord Ruthven
in his carriage, and amidst the various wild and rich scenes of
nature, was always the same: his eye spoke less than his lip; and
though Aubrey was near the object of his curiosity, he obtained
no greater gratification from it than the constant excitement of
vainly wishing to break that mystery, which to his exalted
imagination began to assume the appearance of something
They soon arrived at Rome, and Aubrey for a time lost sight of
his companion; he left him in daily attendance upon the morning
circle of an Italian countess, whilst he went in search of the
memorials of another almost deserted city. Whilst he was thus
engaged, letters arrived from England, which he opened with
eager impatience; the first was from his sister, breathing nothing
but affection; the others were from his guardians, the latter
astonished him; if it had before entered into his imagination that
there was an evil power resident in his companion, these seemed
to give him sufficient reason for the belief. His guardians insisted
upon his immediately leaving his friend, and urged, that his
character was dreadfully vicious, for that the possession of
irresistible powers of seduction, rendered his licentious habits
more dangerous to society. It had been discovered, that his
contempt for the adultress had not originated in hatred of her
character; but that he had required, to enhance his gratification,
that his victim, the partner of his guilt, should be hurled from the
pinnacle of unsullied virtue, down to the lowest abyss of infamy
and degradation: in fine, that all those females whom he had
sought, apparently on account of their virtue, had, since his
departure, thrown even the mask aside, and had not scrupled to
expose the whole deformity of their vices to the public gaze.
Aubrey determined upon leaving one, whose character had not
yet shown a single bright point on which to rest the eye. He
resolved to invent some plausible pretext for abandoning him
altogether, purposing, in the mean while, to watch him more
closely, and to let no slight circumstances pass by unnoticed. He
entered into the same circle, and soon perceived, that his
Lordship was endeavouring to work upon the inexperience of the
daughter of the lady whose house he chiefly frequented. In Italy,
it is seldom that an unmarried female is met with in society; he
was therefore obliged to carry on his plans in secret; but Aubrey's
eye followed him in all his windings, and soon discovered that an
assignation had been appointed, which would most likely end in
the ruin of an innocent, though thoughtless girl. Losing no time,
he entered the apartment of Lord Ruthven, and abruptly asked
him his intentions with respect to the lady, informing him at the
same time that he was aware of his being about to meet her that
very night. Lord Ruthven answered, that his intentions were such
as he supposed all would have upon such an occasion; and upon
being pressed whether he intended to marry her, merely laughed.
Aubrey retired; and, immediately writing a note, to say, that
from that moment he must decline accompanying his Lordship
in the remainder of their proposed tour, ho ordered his servant to
seek other apartments, and calling upon tho mother of the lady,
informed her of all he knew, not only with regard to her
daughter, but also concerning the character of his Lordship. The
assignation was prevented. Lord Ruthven next day merely sent
his servant to notify his complete assent to a separation; but did
not hint any suspicion of his plans having been foiled by Aubrey's
Having left Rome, Aubrey directed his steps towards Greece,
and crossing the Peninsula, soon found himself at Athens. He
then fixed his residence in the house of a Greek; and soon
occupied himself in tracing the faded records of ancient glory
upon monuments that apparently, ashamed of chronicling the
deeds of freemen only before slaves, had hidden themselves
beneath the sheltering soil or many coloured lichen. Under the
same roof as himself, existed a being, so beautiful and delicate,
that she might have formed the model for a painter, wishing; to
pourtray on canvass the promised hope of the faithful in
Iviahomet's paradise, save that her eyes spoke too much mind for
any one to think she could belong to those who had no souls. As
she danced upon the plain, or tripped along the mountain's side,
one would have thought the gazelle a poor type of her beauties;
for who would have exchanged her eye, apparently the eye of
animated nature, for that sleepy luxurious look of the animal
suited but to the taste of an epicure. The light step of Ianthe often
accompanied Aubrey in his search after antiquities, and often
would the unconscious girl, engaged in the pursuit of a Kashmere
butterfly, show the whole beauty of her form, floating as it were
upon the wind, to the eager gaze of him, who forgot the letters he
had just decyphered upon an almost effaced tablet, in the
contemplation of her sylph-like figure. Often would her tresses
falling, as she flitted around, exhibit in the sun's ray such
delicately brilliant and swiftly fading hues, its might well excuse
the forgetfulness of the antiquary, who let escape from his mind
the very object he had before thought of vital importance to the
proper interpretation of a passage in Pausanias. But why attempt
to describe charms which all feel, but none can appreciate?—It
was innocence, youth, and beauty, unaffected by crowded
drawing-rooms and stifling balls. Whilst he drew those remains
of which lie wished to preserve a memorial for his future hours,
she would stand by, and watch the magic effects of his pencil, in
tracing the scenes of her native place; she would then describe to
him the circling dance upon the open plain, would paint, to him
in all the glowing colours of youthful memory, the marriage
pomp she remembered viewing in her infancy; and then, turning
to subjects that had evidently made a greater impression upon
her mind, would tell him all the supernatural tales of her nurse.
Her earnestness and apparent belief of what she narrated, excited
the interest even of Aubrey; and often as she told him the tale of
the living vampyre, who had passed years amidst his friends, and
dearest ties, forced every year, by feeding upon the life of a lovely
female to prolong his existence for the ensuing months, his blood
would run cold, whilst he attempted to laugh her out of such idle
and horrible fantasies; but Ianthe cited to him the names of old
men, who had at last detected one living among themselves, after
several of their near relatives and children had been found
marked with the stamp of the fiend's appetite; and when she
found him so incredulous, she begged of him to believe her, for it
had been, remarked, that those who had dared to question their
existence, always had some proof given, which obliged them,
with grief and heartbreaking, to confess it was true. She detailed
to him the traditional appearance of these monsters, and his
horror was increased, by hearing a pretty accurate description of
Lord Ruthven; he, however, still persisted in persuading her, that
there could be no truth in her fears, though at the same time he
wondered at the many coincidences which had all tended to
excite a belief in the supernatural power of Lord Ruthven.
Aubrey began to attach himself more and more to Ianthe; her
innocence, so contrasted with all the affected virtues of the
women among whom he had sought for his vision of romance,
won his heart; and while he ridiculed the idea of a young man of
English habits, marrying an uneducated Greek girl, still he found
himself more and more attached to the almost fairy form before
him. He would tear himself at times from her, and, forming a
plan for some antiquarian research, he would depart, determined
not to return until his object was attained; but he always found it
impossible to fix his attention upon the ruins around him, whilst
in his mind he retained an image that seemed alone the rightful
possessor of his thoughts. Ianthe was unconscious of his love,
and was ever the same frank infantile being he had first known.
She always seemed to part from him with reluctance; but it was
because she had no longer any one with whom she could visit her
favourite haunts, whilst her guardian was occupied in sketching
or uncovering some fragment which had yet escaped the
destructive hand of time. She had appealed to her parents on the
subject of Vampyres, and they both, with several present,
affirmed their existence, pale with horror at the very name. Soon
after, Aubrey determined to proceed upon one of his excursions,
which was to detain him for a few hours; when they heard the
name of the place, they all at once begged of him not to return at
night, as he must necessarily pass through a wood, where no
Greek would ever remain, after the day had closed, upon any
consideration. They described it as the resort of the vampyres in
their nocturnal orgies, and denounced the most heavy evils as
impending upon him who dared to cross their path. Aubrey made
light of their representations, and tried to laugh them out of the
idea; but when he saw them shudder at his daring thus to mock a
superior, infernal power, the very name of which apparently
made their blood freeze, he was silent.
Next morning Aubrey set off upon his excursion unattended;
he was surprised to observe the melancholy face of his host, and
was concerned to find that his words, mocking the belief of those
horrible fiends, had inspired them with such terror. When he was
about to depart, Ianthe came to the side of his horse, and
earnestly begged of him to return, ere night allowed the power of
these beings to be put in action;—he promised. He was, however,
so occupied in his research, that he did not perceive that day-light
would soon end, and that in the horizon there was one of those
specks which, in the warmer climates, so rapidly gather into a
tremendous mass, and pour all their rage upon the devoted
country.—He at last, however, mounted his horse, determined to
make up by speed for his delay: but it was too late. Twilight, in
these southern climates, is almost unknown; immediately the
sun sets, night begins: and ere he had advanced far, the power of
the storm was above—its echoing thunders had scarcely an
interval of rest—its thick heavy rain forced its way through the
canopying foliage, whilst the blue forked lightning seemed to fall
and radiate at his very feet. Suddenly his horse took fright, and he
was carried with dreadful rapidity through the entangled forest.
The animal at last, through fatigue, stopped, and he found, by the
glare of lightning, that he was in the neighbourhood of a hovel
that hardly lifted itself up from the masses of dead leaves and
brushwood which surrounded it. Dismounting, he approached,
hoping to find some one to guide him to the town, or at least
trusting to obtain shelter from the pelting of the storm. As he
approached, the thunders, for a moment silent, allowed him to
hear the dreadful shrieks of a woman mingling with the stifled,
exultant mockery of a laugh, continued in one almost unbroken
sound;—he was startled: but, roused by the thunder which again
rolled over his head, he, with a sudden effort, forced open the
door of the hut. He found himself in utter darkness: the sound,
however, guided him. He was apparently unperceived; for,
though he called, still the sounds continued, and no notice was
taken of him. He found himself in contact with some one, whom
he immediately seized; when a voice cried, "Again baffled!" to
which a loud laugh succeeded; and he felt himself grappled by
one whose strength seemed superhuman: determined to sell his
life as dearly as he could, he struggled; but it was in vain: he was
lifted from his feet and hurled with enormous force against the
ground:—his enemy threw himself upon him, and kneeling upon
his breast, had placed his hands upon his throat—when the glare
of many torches penetrating through the hole that gave light in
the day, disturbed him;—he instantly rose, and, leaving his prey,
rushed through the door, and in a moment the crashing of the
brandies, as he broke through the wood, was no longer heard. The
storm was now still; and Aubrey, incapable of moving, was soon
heard by those without. They entered; the light of their torches
fell upon the mud walls, and the thatch loaded on every
individual straw with heavy flakes of soot. At the desire of
Aubrey they searched for her who had attracted him by her cries;
he was again left in darkness; but what was his horror, when the
light of the torches once more burst upon him, to perceive the
airy form of his fair conductress brought in a lifeless corse. He
shut his eyes, hoping that it was but a vision arising from his
disturbed imagination; but he again saw the same form, when he
unclosed them, stretched by his side. There was no colour upon
her cheek, not even upon her lip; yet there was a stillness about
her face that seemed almost as attaching as the life that once
dwelt there:—upon her neck and breast was blood, and upon her
throat were the marks of teeth having opened the vein:—to this
the men pointed, crying, simultaneously struck with horror, "A
Vampyre! a Vampyre!" A litter was quickly formed, and Aubrey
was laid by the side of her who had lately been to him the object
of so many bright and fairy visions, now fallen with the flower of
life that had died within her. He knew not what his thoughts
were—his mind was benumbed and seemed to shun reflection,
and take refuge in vacancy—he held almost unconsciously in his
hand a naked dagger of a particular construction, which had
been found in the hut. They were soon met by different parties
who had been engaged in the search of her whom a mother had
missed. Their lamentable cries, as they approached the city,
forewarned the parents of some dreadful catastrophe. —To
describe their grief would be impossible; but when they
ascertained the cause of their child's death, they looked at Aubrey,
and pointed to the corse. They were inconsolable; both died
Aubrey being put to bed was seized with a most violent fever,
and was often delirious; in these intervals he would call upon
Lord Ruthven and upon Ianthe—by some unaccountable
combination he seemed to beg of his former companion to spare
the being he loved. At other times he would imprecate
maledictions upon his head, and curse him as her destroyer. Lord
Ruthven, chanced at this time to arrive at Athens, and, from
whatever motive, upon hearing of the state of Aubrey,
immediately placed himself in the same house, and became his
constant attendant. When the latter recovered from his delirium,
he was horrified and startled at the sight of him whose image he
had now combined with that of a Vampyre; but Lord Ruthven, by
his kind words, implying almost repentance for the fault that
had caused their separation, and still more by the attention,
anxiety, and care which he showed, soon reconciled him to his
presence. His lordship seemed quite changed; he no longer
appeared that apathetic being who had so astonished Aubrey; but
as soon as his convalescence began to be rapid, he again gradually
retired into the same state of mind, and Aubrey perceived no
difference from the former man, except that at times he was
surprised to meet his gaze fixed intently upon him, with a smile
of malicious exultation playing upon his lips: he knew not why,
but this smile haunted him. During the last stage of the invalid's
recovery, Lord Ruthven was apparently engaged in watching the
tideless waves raised by the cooling breeze, or in marking the
progress of those orbs, circling, like our world, the moveless sun;
—indeed, he appeared to wish to avoid the eyes of all.
Aubrey's mind, by this shock, was much weakened, and that
elasticity of spirit which had once so distinguished him now
seemed to have fled for ever. He was now as much a lover of
solitude and silence as Lord Ruthven; but much as he wished for
solitude, his mind could not find it in the neighbourhood of
Athens; if he sought it amidst the ruins he had formerly
frequented, Ianthe's form stood by his side—if he sought it in the
woods, her light step would appear wandering amidst the
underwood, in quest of the modest violet; then suddenly turning
round, would show, to his wild imagination, her pale face and
wounded throat, with a meek smile upon her lips. He determined
to fly scenes, every feature of which created such bitter
associations in his mind. He proposed to Lord Ruthven, to whom
he held himself bound by the tender care he had taken of him
during his illness, that they should visit those parts of Greece
neither had yet seen. They travelled in every direction, and
sought every spot to which a recollection could be attached: but
though they thus hastened from place to place, yet they seemed
not to heed what they gazed upon. They heard much of robbers,
but they gradually began to slight these reports, which they
imagined were only the invention of individuals, whose interest
it was to excite the generosity of those whom they defended from
pretended dangers. In consequence of thus neglecting the advice
of the inhabitants, on one occasion they travelled with only a few
guards, more to serve as guides than as a defence. Upon entering,
however, a narrow defile, at the bottom of which was the bed of a
torrent, with large masses of rock brought down from the
neighbouring precipices, they had reason to repent their
negligence; for scarcely were the whole of the party engaged in
the narrow pass, when they were startled by the whistling of
bullets close to their heads, and by the echoed report of several
guns. In an instant their guards had left them, and, placing
themselves behind rocks, had begun to fire in the direction
whence the report came. Lord Ruthven and Aubrey, imitating
their example, retired for a moment behind the sheltering turn of
the defile: but ashamed of being thus detained by a foe, who with
insulting shouts bade them advance, and being exposed to
unresisting slaughter, if any of the robbers should climb above
and take them in the rear, they determined at once to rush
forward in search of the enemy. Hardly had they lost the shelter
of the rock, when Lord Ruthven received a shot in the shoulder,
which brought him to the ground. Aubrey hastened to his
assistance; and, no longer heeding the contest or his own peril,
was soon surprised by seeing the robbers' faces around him—his
guards having, upon Lord Ruthven's being wounded,
immediately thrown up their arms and surrendered.
By promises of great reward, Aubrey soon induced them to
convey his wounded friend to a neighbouring cabin; and having
agreed upon a ransom, he was no more disturbed by their
presence—they being content merely to guard the entrance till
their comrade should return with the promised sum, for which
he had an order. Lord Ruthven's strength rapidly decreased; in
two days mortification ensued, and death seemed advancing
with hasty steps. His conduct and appearance had not changed;
he seemed as unconscious of pain as he had been of the objects
about him: but towards the close of the last evening, his mind
became apparently uneasy, and his eye often fixed upon Aubrey,
who was induced to offer his assistance with more than usual
earnestness—"Assist me! you may save me—you may do more
than that—I mean not my life, I heed the death of my existence as
little as that of the passing day; but you may save my honour,
your friend's honour."—"How? tell me how? I would do any
thing," replied Aubrey.—"I need but little—my life ebbs apace—I
cannot explain the whole—but if you would conceal, all you know
of me, my honour were free from stain in the world's mouth
and if my death were unknown for some time in England—I—I
but life."—"It shall not be known."—"Swear!" cried the dying man,
raising himself with exultant violence, "Swear by all your soul
reveres, by all your nature fears, swear that, for a year and a day
you will not impart your knowledge of my crimes or death to any
living being in any way, whatever may happen, or whatever you
may see. "—His eyes seemed bursting from their sockets: "I
swear!" said Aubrey; he sunk laughing upon his pillow, and
breathed no more.
Aubrey retired to rest, but did not sleep; the many
circumstances attending his acquaintance with this man rose
upon his mind, and he knew not why; when he remembered his
oath a cold shivering came over him, as if from the presentiment
of something horrible awaiting him. Rising early in the morning,
he was about to enter the hovel in which he had left the corpse,
when a robber met him, and informed him that it was no longer
there, having been conveyed by himself and comrades, upon his
retiring, to the pinnacle of a neighbouring mount, according to a
promise they had given his lordship, that it should be exposed to
the first cold ray of the moon that rose after his death. Aubrey
astonished, and taking several of the men, determined to go and
bury it upon the spot where it lay. But, when he had mounted to
the summit he found no trace of either the corpse or the clothes,
though the robbers swore they pointed out the identical rock: on
which they had laid the body. For a time his mind was bewildered
in conjectures, but he at last returned, convinced that they had
buried the corpse for the sake of the clothes.
Weary of a country in which he had met with such terrible
misfortunes, and in which all apparently conspired to heighten
that superstitious melancholy that had seized upon his mind, he
resolved to leave it, and soon arrived at Smyrna. While waiting
for a vessel to convey him to Otranto, or to Naples, he occupied
himself in arranging those effects he had with him belonging to
Lord Ruthven. Amongst other things there was a case containing
several weapons of offence, more or less adapted to ensure the
death of the victim. There were several daggers and ataghans.
Whilst turning them over, and examining their curious forms,
what was his surprise at finding a sheath apparently ornamented
in the same style as the dagger discovered in the fatal hut—he
shuddered—hastening to gain further proof, he found the
weapon, and his horror may be imagined when he discovered
that it fitted, though peculiarly shaped, the sheath he held in his
hand. His eyes seemed to need no further certainty—they seemed
gazing to be bound to the dagger; yet still he wished to disbelieve;
but the particular form, the same varying tints upon the haft and
sheath were alike in splendour on both, and left no room for
doubt; there were also drops of blood on each.
He left Smyrna, and on his way home, at Rome, his first
inquiries were concerning the lady he had attempted to snatch
from Lord Ruthven's seductive arts. Her parents were in distress,
their fortune ruined, and she had not been heard of since the
departure of his lordship. Aubrey's mind became almost broken
under so many repeated horrors; he was afraid that this lady had
fallen a victim to the destroyer of Ianthe. He became morose and
silent; and his only occupation consisted in urging the speed of
the postilions, as if he were going to save the life of some one he
held dear. He arrived at Calais; a breeze, which seemed obedient
to his will, soon wafted him to the English shores; and he
hastened to the mansion of his fathers, and there, for a moment,
appeared to lose, in the embraces and caresses of his sister, all
memory of the past. If she before, by her infantine caresses, had
gained his affection, now that the woman began to appear, she
was still more attaching as a companion.
Miss Aubrey had not that winning grace which gains the gaze
and applause of the drawing-room assemblies. There was none of
that light brilliancy which only exists in the heated atmosphere
of a crowded apartment. Her blue eye was never lit up by the
levity of the mind beneath. There was a melancholy charm about
it which did not seem to arise from misfortune, but from some
feeling within, that appeared to indicate a soul conscious of a
brighter realm. Her step was not that light footing, which strays
where'er a butterfly or a colour may attract—it was sedate and
pensive. When alone, her face was never brightened by the smile
of joy; but when her brother breathed to her his affection, and
would in her presence forget those griefs she knew destroyed his
rest, who would have exchanged her smile for that of the
voluptuary? It seemed as if those eyes,—that face were then
playing in the light of their own native sphere. She was yet only
eighteen, and had not been presented to the world, it having been
thought by her guardians more fit that her presentation should
be delayed until her brother's return from the continent, when he
might be her protector. It was now, therefore, resolved that the
next drawing-room, which was fast approaching, should be the
epoch of her entry into the "busy scene." Aubrey would rather
have remained in the mansion of his fathers, and fed upon the
melancholy which overpowered him. He could not fed interest
about the frivolities of fashionable strangers, when his mind had
been so torn by the events he had witnessed; but he determined
to sacrifice his own comfort to the protection of his sister. They
soon arrived in town, and prepared for the next day, which had
been announced as a drawing-room.
The crowd was excessive—a drawing-room had not been held
for a long time, and all who were anxious to bask in the smile of
royalty, hastened thither. Aubrey was there with his sister. While
he was standing in a corner by himself, heedless of all around
him, engaged in the remembrance that the first time he had seen
Lord Ruthven was in that very place—he felt himself suddenly
seized by the arm, and a voice he recognized too well, sounded in
his ear—"Remember your oath." He had hardly courage to turn,
fearful of seeing a spectre that would blast him, when he
perceived, at a little distance, the same figure which had attracted
his notice on this spot upon his first entry into society. He gazed
till his limbs almost refusing to bear their weight, he was obliged
to take the arm of a friend, and forcing a passage through the
crowd, he threw himself into his carriage, and was driven home.
He paced the room with hurried steps, and fixed his hands upon
his head, as if he were afraid his thoughts were bursting from his
brain. Lord Ruthven again before him—circumstances started up
in dreadful array—the dagger—his oath.—He roused himself, he
could not believe it possible—the dead rise again!—He thought his
imagination had conjured up the image, his mind was resting
upon. It was impossible that it could be real—he determined,
therefore, to go again into society; for though he attempted to ask
concerning Lord Ruthven, the name hung upon his lips, and he
could not succeed in gaining information. He went a few nights
after with lib sister to the assembly of a near relation. Leaving her
under the protection of a matron, ho retired into a recess, and
there gave himself up to his own devouring thoughts. Perceiving,
at last, that many were leaving, he roused himself, and entering
another room, found his sister surrounded by several, apparently
in earnest conversation; he attempted to pass and get near her,
when one, whom he requested to move, turned round, and
revealed to him those features he most abhorred. He sprang
forward, seized his sister's arm, and, with hurried step, forced her
towards the street: at the door he found himself impeded by the
crowd of servants who were waiting for their lords; and while he
was engaged in passing them, he again heard that voice whisper
close to him—"Remember your oath!"—He did not dare to turn,
but, hurrying his sister, soon reached home.
Aubrey became almost distracted. If before his mind had been
absorbed by one subject, how much more completely was it
engrossed, now that the certainty of the monster's living again
pressed upon his thoughts. His sister's attentions were now
unheeded, and it was in vain that she entreated him to explain to
her what had caused his abrupt conduct. He only uttered a few
words, and those terrified her. The more he thought, the more he
was bewildered. His oath startled him;—was he then to allow this
monster to roam, bearing ruin upon his breath, amidst all he held
dear, and not avert its progress? His very sister might have been
touched by him. But even if he were to break his oath, and
disclose his suspicions, who would believe him? He thought of
employing his own hand to free the world from such a wretch;
but death, he remembered, had been already mocked. For days he
remained in this state; shut up in his room, he saw no one, and
eat only when his sister came, who, with eyes streaming with
tears, besought him, for her sake, to support nature. At last, no
longer capable of bearing stillness and solitude, he left his house,
roamed from street to street, anxious to fly that image which
haunted him. His dress became neglected, and he wandered, as
often exposed to the noon-day sun as to the midnight damps. He
was no longer to be recognized; at first he returned with the
evening to the house; but at last he laid him down to rest
wherever fatigue overtook him. His sister, anxious for his safety,
employed people to follow him; but they were soon distanced by
him who fled from a pursuer swifter than any—from thought.
His conduct, however, suddenly changed. Struck with the idea
that he left by his absence the whole of his friends, with a fiend
amongst them, of whose presence they were unconscious, he
determined to enter again into society, and watch him closely,
anxious to forewarn, in spite of his oath, all whom Lord Ruthven
approached with intimacy. But when he entered into a room, his
haggard and suspicious looks were so striking, his inward
shudderings so visible, that his sister was at last obliged to beg of
him to abstain from seeking, for her sake, a society which
affected him so strongly. When, however, remonstrance proved
unavailing, the guardians thought proper to interpose, and,
fearing that his mind was becoming alienated, they thought it
high time to resume again that trust which had been before
imposed upon them by Aubrey's parents.
Desirous of saving him from the injuries and sufferings he had
daily encountered in his wanderings, and of preventing him
from exposing to the general eye those marks of what they
considered folly, they engaged a physician to reside in the house,
and take constant care of him. He hardly appeared to notice it, so
completely was his mind absorbed by one terrible subject. His
incoherence became at last so great, that he was confined to his
chamber. There he would often lie for days, incapable of being
roused. He had become emaciated, his eyes had attained a glassy
lustre;—the only sign of affection and recollection remaining
displayed itself upon the entry of his sister; then he would
sometimes start, and, seizing her hands, with looks that severely
afflicted her, he would desire her not to touch him. "Oh, do not
touch him—if your love for me is aught, do not go near him!"
When, however, she inquired to whom he referred, his only
answer was, "'True! true!" and again he sank into a state, whence
not even she could rouse him. This lasted many months:
gradually, however, as the year was passing, his incoherences
became less frequent, and his mind threw off a portion of its
gloom, whilst his guardians observed, that several times in the
day he would count upon his fingers a definite number, and then
The time had nearly elapsed, when, upon the last day of the
year, one of his guardians entering his room, began to converse
with his physician upon the melancholy circumstance of
Aubrey's being in so awful a situation, when his sister was going
next day to be married. Instantly Aubrey's attention was
attracted; he asked anxiously to whom. Glad of this mark of
returning intellect, of which they feared he had been deprived,
they mentioned the name of the Earl of Marsden. Thinking this
was a young Earl whom he had met with in society, Aubrey
seemed pleased, and astonished them still more by his expressing
his intention to be present at the nuptials, and desiring to see his
sister. They answered not, but in a few minutes his sister was
with him. He was apparently again capable of being affected by
the influence of her lovely smile; for he pressed her to his breast,
and kissed her check, wet with tears, flowing at the thought of
her brother's being once more alive to the feelings of affection. He
began to speak with all his wonted warmth, and to congratulate
her upon her marriage with a person so distinguished for rank
and every accomplishment; when he suddenly perceived a locket
upon her breast; opening it, what was his surprise at beholding
the features of the monster who had so long influenced his life.
He seized the portrait in a paroxysm of rage, and trampled it
under foot. Upon her asking him why he thus destroyed the
resemblance of her future husband, he looked as if he did not
understand her—then seizing her hands, and gazing on her with
a frantic expression of countenance, he bade her swear that she
would never wed this monster, for he But he could not
advance—it seemed as if that voice again bade him remember his
oath—he turned suddenly round, thinking Lord Ruthven was
near him but saw no one. In the meantime the guardians and
physician, who had heard the whole, and thought this was but a
return of his disorder, entered, and forcing him from Miss
Aubrey, desired her to leave him. He fell upon his knees to them,
he implored, he begged of them to delay but for one day. They,
attributing this to the insanity they imagined had taken
possession of his mind, endeavoured to pacify him, and retired.
Lord Ruthven had called the morning after the drawing-room,
and had been refused with every one else. When he heard of
Aubrey's ill health, he readily understood himself to be the cause
of it; but when he learned that he was deemed insane, his
exultation and pleasure could hardly be concealed from those
among whom he had gained this information. He hastened to the
house of his former companion, and, by constant attendance,
and the pretence of great affection for the brother and interest in
his fate, he gradually won the ear of Miss Aubrey. Who could
resist his power? His tongue had dangers and toils to recount—
could speak of himself as of an individual having no sympathy
with any being on the crowded earth, save with her to whom he
addressed himself;—could tell how, since he knew her, his
existence, had begun to seem worthy of preservation, if it were
merely that he might listen to her soothing accent s;—in fine, he
knew so well how to use the serpent's art, or such was the will of
fate, that he gained her affections. The title of the elder branch
falling at length to him, lie obtained an important embassy,
which served as an excuse for hastening the marriage, in spite of
her brother's deranged state,) which was to take place the very
day before his departure for the continent.
Aubrey, when he was left by the physician and his guardians,
attempted to bribe the servants, but in vain. He asked for pen and
paper; it was given him; he wrote a letter to his sister, conjuring
her, as she valued her own happiness, her own honour, and the
honour of those now in the grave, who once held her in their
arms as their hope and the hope of their house, to delay but for a
few hours that marriage, on which he denounced the most heavy
curses. The servants promised they would deliver it; but giving it
to the physician, he thought it better not to harass any more the
mind of Miss Aubrey by, what he considered, the ravings of a
maniac. Night passed on without rest to the busy inmates of the
house; and Aubrey heard, with a horror that may more easily be
conceived than described, the notes of busy preparation. Morning
came, and the sound of carriages broke upon his ear. Aubrey grew
almost frantic. The curiosity of the servants at last overcame
their vigilance, they gradually stole away, leaving him in the
custody of an helpless old woman. He seized the opportunity,
with one bound was out of the room, and in a moment found
himself in the apartment where all were nearly assembled. Lord
Ruthven was the first to perceive him: lie immediately
approached, and, taking his arm by force, hurried him from the
room, speechless with rage. When on the staircase, Lord Ruthven
whispered in his ear—"Remember your oath, and know, if not my
bride to day, your sister is dishonoured. Women are frail!" So
saying, he pushed him towards his attendants, who, roused by
the old woman, had come in search of him. Aubrey could no
longer support himself; his rage not finding vent, had broken a
blood-vessel, and he was conveyed to bed. This was not
mentioned to his sister, who was not present when he entered, as
the physician was afraid of agitating her. The marriage was
solemnized, and the bride and bridegroom left London.
Aubrey's weakness increased; the effusion of blood produced
symptoms of the near approach of death. He desired his sister's
guardians might be called, and when the midnight hour had
struck, he related composedly what the reader has perused—he
died immediately after.
The guardians hastened to protect Miss Aubrey; but when they
arrived, it was too late. Lord Ruthven had disappeared, and
Aubrey's sister had glutted the thirst of a VAMPYRE!