Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Mystery of Luisa, Pt. 2

In the previous installment, we focused on Manchester's insistence on keeping Luisa's true identity a secret.

The question is: why?

I'd say the most obvious answer is her unusual fate, as depicted in Manchester's The Highgate Vampire: The Infernal World of the Undead Unearthed at London's Famous Highgate Cemetery and Environs (London: British Occult Society, 1985), p. 145.

After summoning her vampire-corpse through a necromantic ritual (she is previously said to have "died quite suddenly almost seven years ago from a form of leukaemia", p. 120), he is confronted by "the most enormous spider imaginable" while under the protection of a magic circle.

He commands it to be still and surprisingly, it obliges. He takes the opportunity to dispatch the undead being:
Within the same moment I seized a sharpened stake and thrust it with all my might through the centre of that hideous black shape, using the blue sulphurous light to assist my aim. This was accompanied by the most heart-rending screech I have ever heard; it will haunt me for the rest of my days.
The "enormous spider" metamorphoses back into Luisa:
It was poor Luisa — no longer the devil's undead, but God's own true dead. Even as I looked, the years of decay, which had been eluded by her vampire sleep, were returning almost instantaneously.
Which strangely echoes a similar pronoucement in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). After Arthur Holmwood has staked his beloved, vampirised fiancée, Lucy (Luisa?) Westenra, Prof. Abraham Van Helsing tells him:
Kiss her dead lips if you will, as she would have you to, if for her to choose. For she is not a grinning devil now, not any more a foul Thing for all eternity. No longer she is the devil's Un-Dead. She is God's true dead, whose soul is with Him!
The Draculean connection might not be so far-fetched.

On page 113, we have Manchester staking the original Highgate Vampire in an old manor. He is accompanied by a man named "Arthur". The scene follows thusly:
I raised the mallet in my right hand and as I did I thought I could hear voices chanting on the wind. All the trees around seemed to bend and sway as the air itself filled with sustained chords from a world beyond our own. I clutched the wooden stake in my left hand.
"In God's name strike!" cried Arthur.
With a mighty blow I drove the stake through the creature's heart, then shielded my ears as a terrible roar emitted from the bowels of hell. This died away as suddenly as it had erupted and all became still.
Compare it to the scene in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), in which Arthur Holmwood stakes Lucy in her coffin:
"Go on,"said Arthur hoarsely."Tell me what I am to do."

"Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place to the point over the heart, and the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for the dead, I shall read him, I have here the book, and the others shall follow, strike in God's name, that so all may be well with the dead that we love and that the Un-Dead pass away."

Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on action his hands never trembled nor even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed as well as we could.

Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.

The thing in the coffin writhed, and a hideous, bloodcurdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions. The sharp white champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shine through it. The sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed to ring through the little vault.

And then the writhing and quivering of the body became less, and the teeth seemed to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally it lay still. The terrible task was over.
It should be noted that after the Highgate Vampire disintegrates, Manchester and Arthur burn its coffin and remains outside, intoning a prayer consigning the foul being to Hell.

Indeed, as we shall see, the mysterious Luisa and her vampiric manifestation has further parallels to another work of fiction.

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