Yieger’s Cabinet. Spiritual Vampirism: The History of Etherial Softdown and Her Friends of the "New Light"

Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co, 1853.

Price: $1,850.00


About the item

First edition. 254, [10, ads] pp. 1 vols. 8vo. Original publisher's black blindstamped cloth, original spine neatly laid down Lower flyleaf neatly excised. Wright II 2675; OCLC: 1523295; for Nichols, see Silver-Isenstadt, J.L. Shameless, The Visionary Life of Mary Gove Nichols. JHU Press, 2002.

Item #365355

“In Barclay Street New-York, years ago, flourished, at No. 63, that famous caravanserai of all the most rabid wild animals on the Continent, who styled themselves Reformers and New-light People, Come-outers, Vegetarians, Abolitionists, Amalgamtionists, &c., &c., well known to fame as the ‘Graham House.’”

The first vampire story written by an American and a notable milestone between Polidori and Stoker (or between Lord Ruthven and Count Dracula). An erotic gothic novel featuring the predatory Etherian Softdown, a human vampire or “ sponge” who extracts spiritual vitality and wealth from the men she seduces. Webber effectively invents the notion of psychic vampirism, with pseudo-scientifc reference to Reichenbach’s Odic or Odyllic forces.
As the contemporary note on the cast of characters suggests, the novel is also a recognizable portrait of New York: Etherial Softdown is social reformer and feminist Mary Grove Nichols (1810-84), Meglatherium Oracle is Greeley, and Harriet Beecher Stowe makes a disguised appearance.

Adventurer and man of letters C. W. Webber (1819-56) is better known for his western writings. He lived for a time with Nichols in New York City and wrote Yieger’s Cabinet in a spirit of revenge after Nichols interefered with his project of marriage to her daughter. Webber went to Central America with William Walker’s invasion of Nicaragua and died at the battle of Rivas.