Silver bullet (figurative 1945)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 10 20:51:35 UTC 2011

Robert Southey alludes to the vulnerability of an English witch
to a silver bullet in his  English Eclogues, "Eclogue VI: The Witch," in his
_Poems_, II (Bristol, 1799), p. 221. Scott would almost surely have been
familiar with it.

This is the sole conjunction of a witch and silver bullets that I can find
in ECCO.  ECCO reveals no 18th C. mention of silver bullets and vampires.

Nor is there any EEBO evidence of "silver bullets" for any purpose
whatsoever datable earlier than the "Popish plot" evidence of 1678.

Master's thesis anyone?


On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

> 1816 _The British Review, and London Journal_ VII (Feb.) 108: This had been
> described to him by a negro as a walking vampire of the height of a man;
> which could only be killed by a silver bullet.
> The incident referred to occurs in _The Journal of Llewelyn Penrose, a
> Seaman_ (1815), which the reviewer cited concludes is most likely a work of
> fiction.  Its publication appears to antedate Scott's _Bride of Lammermoor_,
> which contains the witch/bullet passage.
> JL
> On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 2:04 PM, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
>> Subject:      Re: Silver bullet (figurative 1945)
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Review of Stoker's novel shows Van Helsing pointing out several
>> weaknesses of the vampire, including: "a sacred bullet fired into the
>> coffin kill him so that he be true dead". I don't know exactly which
>> bullets are sacred: maybe it's understood that this refers to a bullet
>> specially blessed by the priest or something like that. I see no mention
>> of a silver bullet.
>> -- Doug Wilson
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> --
>  "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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