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This desire to depict villainy on a human face seems to have found its highest modern exponent in Aubrey Beardsley. With him man is an animal, and woman a beast. Aye, she is worse than a beast–she is a vampire. Kipling’s summing up of woman as “a rag and a bone and a hank of hair” gives no clue to the possibilities in way of subtle, reckless reaches of deviltry compared with a single, simple, outline drawing by Beardsley. Beardsley’s heroines are the kind of women who can kill a man with a million pin-pricks, so diabolically, subtly and slyly administered that no one but the victim would be aware of the martyrdom–and he could not explain it.

As you enter the main gallery of statuary at the Luxembourg, you will see, on a slightly raised platform, at the opposite end of the room, the nude figure of a man. The mold is heroic, and the strong pose at once attracts your attention. As you approach closer you will see, standing behind the man, the figure of a woman. Her form is elevated so she is leaning over him and her face is turned so her lips are about to be pressed upon his. You approach still closer, and a feeling of horror flashes through you–you see that the beautiful arms of the woman end in hairy claws. The claws embrace the man in deadly grasp, and are digging deep into his vitals. On his face is a look of fearful pain, and every splendid muscle is tense with awful agony.

Now, if you do as I did, you will suddenly turn and go out into the fresh air–the fearful realism of the marble will for the moment unnerve you.

This is the piece of statuary that gave Philip Burne-Jones the cue for his painting, “The Vampire,” which picture suggested the poem, by the same name, to Rudyard Kipling.

Aubrey Beardsley gloated on the Vampire–she was the sole goddess of his idolatry.

No wonder it was that the story of Salome attracted him! Salome was a woman so wantonly depraved that Beardsley, with a touch of pious hypocrisy, said he dared not use her for dramatic purposes, save for the fact that she was a Bible character.

You remember the story: John the Baptist, the strong, fine youth, came up out of the wilderness crying in the streets of Jerusalem, “Repent ye! Repent ye!” Salome heard the call and looked upon the semi-naked young fanatic from her window, with half-closed, catlike eyes. She smiled, did this idle creature of luxury, as she lay there amid the cushions on her couch, arid gazed through the casement upon the preacher in the street. Suddenly a thought came to her! She arose on her elbow–she called her slaves.

They clothed her in a gaudy gown, dressed her hair, and led her forth.

Salome followed the wild, weird, religious enthusiast. She pushed through the crowd and placed herself near the man, so the smell of her body would reach his nostrils, and his eyes would range the swelling lines of her body.

Their eyes met. She half-smiled and gave him that look which had snared the soul of many another. But he only gazed at her with passionless, judging intensity, and repeated his cry, “Repent ye, Repent ye, for the day is at hand!”

Her reply, uttered soft and low, was this: “I would kiss thy lips!”

He turned away and she reached to seize his garment, repeating, “I would kiss thy lips–I would kiss thy lips!” He turned aside and forgot her, as he continued his warning cry, and went his way.

The next day she waylaid the youth again; as he came near she suddenly and softly stepped forth and said in that same low voice, “I would kiss thy lips!”

He repulsed her with scorn. She threw her arms about him and sought to draw his head down near hers. He pushed her from him with sinewy hands, sprang as from a pestilence, and was lost in the pressing throng.