Varney, the Vampyre: Or, The Feast Of Blood (Teil 1)


(Chapter I - X)
 A Romance.


The unprecedented success of the romance of "Varney the Vampyre," leaves the Author but little to say further, than that he accepts that success and its results as gratefully as it is possible for any one to do popular favours.

A belief in the existence of Vampyres first took its rise in Norway and Sweden, from whence it rapidly spread to more southern regions, taking a firm hold of the imaginations of the more credulous portion of mankind.

The following romance is collected from seemingly the most authentic sources, and the Author must leave the question of credibility entirely to his readers, not even thinking that he his peculiarly called upon to express his own opinion upon the subject.

Nothing has been omitted in the life of the unhappy Varney, which could tend to throw a light upon his most extraordinary career, and the fact of his death just as it is here related, made a great noise at the time through Europe and is to be found in the public prints for the year 1713.

With these few observations, the Author and Publisher, are well content to leave the work in the hands of a public, which has stamped it with an approbation far exceeding their most sanguine expectations, and which is calculated to act as the strongest possible incentive to the production of other works, which in a like, or perchance a still further degree may be deserving of public patronage and support.

To the whole of the Metropolitan Press for their laudatory notices, the Author is peculiarly obliged.

London Sep. 1847

The Castle Of Otranto


The following work was found in the library of an ancient Catholic family in the north of England.  It was printed at Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529.  How much sooner it was written does not appear.  The principal incidents are such as were believed in the darkest ages of Christianity; but the language and conduct have nothing that savours of barbarism.  The style is the purest Italian.

If the story was written near the time when it is supposed to have happened, it must have been between 1095, the era of the first Crusade, and 1243, the date of the last, or not long afterwards.  There is no other circumstance in the work that can lead us to guess at the period in which the scene is laid: the names of the actors are evidently fictitious, and probably disguised on purpose: yet the Spanish names of the domestics seem to indicate that this work was not composed until the establishment of the Arragonian Kings in Naples had made Spanish appellations familiar in that country.  The beauty of the diction, and the zeal of the author (moderated, however, by singular judgment) concur to make me think that the date of the composition was little antecedent to that of the impression.  Letters were then in their most flourishing state in Italy, and contributed to dispel the empire of superstition, at that time so forcibly attacked by the reformers.  It is not unlikely that an artful priest might endeavour to turn their own arms on the innovators, and might avail himself of his abilities as an author to confirm the populace in their ancient errors and superstitions.  If this was his view, he has certainly acted with signal address.  Such a work as the following would enslave a hundred vulgar minds beyond half the books of controversy that have been written from the days of Luther to the present hour.

This solution of the author’s motives is, however, offered as a mere conjecture.  Whatever his views were, or whatever effects the execution of them might have, his work can only be laid before the public at present as a matter of entertainment.  Even as such, some apology for it is necessary.  Miracles, visions, necromancy, dreams, and other preternatural events, are exploded now even from romances.  That was not the case when our author wrote; much less when the story itself is supposed to have happened.  Belief in every kind of prodigy was so established in those dark ages, that an author would not be faithful to the manners of the times, who should omit all mention of them.  He is not bound to believe them himself, but he must represent his actors as believing them.

If this air of the miraculous is excused, the reader will find nothing else unworthy of his perusal.  Allow the possibility of the facts, and all the actors comport themselves as persons would do in their situation.  There is no bombast, no similes, flowers, digressions, or unnecessary descriptions.  Everything tends directly to the catastrophe.  Never is the reader’s attention relaxed.  The rules of the drama are almost observed throughout the conduct of the piece.  The characters are well drawn, and still better maintained.  Terror, the author’s principal engine, prevents the story from ever languishing; and it is so often contrasted by pity, that the mind is kept up in a constant vicissitude of interesting passions.

Some persons may perhaps think the characters of the domestics too little serious for the general cast of the story; but besides their opposition to the principal personages, the art of the author is very observable in his conduct of the subalterns.  They discover many passages essential to the story, which could not be well brought to light but by their naïveté and simplicity.  In particular, the womanish terror and foibles of Bianca, in the last chapter, conduce essentially towards advancing the catastrophe.

It is natural for a translator to be prejudiced in favour of his adopted work.  More impartial readers may not be so much struck with the beauties of this piece as I was.  Yet I am not blind to my author’s defects.  I could wish he had grounded his plan on a more useful moral than this: that “the sins of fathers are visited on their children to the third and fourth generation.”  I doubt whether, in his time, any more than at present, ambition curbed its appetite of dominion from the dread of so remote a punishment.  And yet this moral is weakened by that less direct insinuation, that even such anathema may be diverted by devotion to St. Nicholas.  Here the interest of the Monk plainly gets the better of the judgment of the author.  However, with all its faults, I have no doubt but the English reader will be pleased with a sight of this performance.  The piety that reigns throughout, the lessons of virtue that are inculcated, and the rigid purity of the sentiments, exempt this work from the censure to which romances are but too liable.  Should it meet with the success I hope for, I may be encouraged to reprint the original Italian, though it will tend to depreciate my own labour.  Our language falls far short of the charms of the Italian, both for variety and harmony.  The latter is peculiarly excellent for simple narrative.  It is difficult in English to relate without falling too low or rising too high; a fault obviously occasioned by the little care taken to speak pure language in common conversation.  Every Italian or Frenchman of any rank piques himself on speaking his own tongue correctly and with choice.  I cannot flatter myself with having done justice to my author in this respect: his style is as elegant as his conduct of the passions is masterly.  It is a pity that he did not apply his talents to what they were evidently proper for - the theatre.

I will detain the reader no longer, but to make one short remark.  Though the machinery is invention, and the names of the actors imaginary, I cannot but believe that the groundwork of the story is founded on truth.  The scene is undoubtedly laid in some real castle.  The author seems frequently, without design, to describe particular parts.  “The chamber,” says he, “on the right hand;” “the door on the left hand;” “the distance from the chapel to Conrad’s apartment:” these and other passages are strong presumptions that the author had some certain building in his eye.  Curious persons, who have leisure to employ in such researches, may possibly discover in the Italian writers the foundation on which our author has built.  If a catastrophe, at all resembling that which he describes, is believed to have given rise to this work, it will contribute to interest the reader, and will make the “Castle of Otranto” a still more moving story.

The Hyborian Age

The Hyborian AgeThe Hyborian Age
(Nothing in this article is to be considered as an attempt to advance any theory in opposition to accepted history. It is simply a fictional background for a series of fiction-stories. When I began writing the Conan stories a few years ago, I prepared this 'history' of his age and the peoples of that age, in order to lend him and his sagas a greater aspect of realness. And I found that by adhering to the 'facts' and spirit of that history, in writing the stories, it was easier to visualize (and therefore to present) him as a real flesh- and-blood character rather than a ready-made product. In writing about him and his adventures in the various kingdoms of his Age, I have never violated the 'facts' or spirit of the 'history' here set down, but have followed the lines of that history as closely as the writer of actual historical-fiction follows the lines of actual history. I have used this 'history' as a guide in all the stories in this series that I have written.)

The Daughter of Erlik Khan (Francis X. Gordon)

StoryFrancis X. Gordon
The Daughter of Erlik Khan
Chapter 1
THE TALL ENGLISHMAN, Pembroke, was scratching lines on the earth with his hunting knife, talking in a jerky tone that indicated suppressed excitement: "I tell you, Ormond, that peak to the west is the one we were to look for. Here, I've marked a map in the dirt. This mark here represents our camp, and this one is the peak. We've marched north far enough. At this spot we should turn westward--"
"Shut up!" muttered Ormond. "Rub out that map. Here comes Gordon."

Hawk Of The Hills (Francis X. Gordon)

StoryFrancis X. Gordon
Hawk of the Hills

Chapter 1
TO A MAN standing in the gorge below, the man clinging to the sloping cliff would have been invisible, hidden from sight by the jutting ledges that looked like irregular stone steps from a distance. From a distance, also, the rugged wall looked easy to climb; but there were heart-breaking spaces between those ledges--stretches of treacherous shale, and steep pitches where clawing fingers and groping toes scarcely found a grip.
One misstep, one handhold lost and the climber would have pitched backward in a headlong, rolling fall three hundred feet to the rocky canyon bed. But the man on the cliff was Francis Xavier Gordon, and it was not his destiny to dash out his brains on the floor of a Himalayan gorge.

Spear and Fang

Story Spear and Fang

A-aea crouched close to the cave mouth, watching Ga-nor with wondering eyes. Ga-nor's occupation interested her, as well as Ga-nor himself. As for Ga-nor, he was too occupied with his work to notice her. A torch stuck in a niche in the cave wall dimly illuminated the roomy cavern, and by its light Ga-nor was laboriously tracing figures on the wall. With a piece of flint he scratched the outline and then with a twig dipped in ocher paint completed the figure. The result was crude, but grave evidence of real artistic genius, struggling for expression.
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