Page 332. " I want you to hypnotise me "
A Victorian Hypnotist
Public DomainA Victorian Hypnotist - Credit: Library of Congress

Victorian readers were very familiar with hypnotism.  Scottish surgeon James Braid introduced the concept of neuro-hypnotism (neural sleep) in 1841, and by the 1890s it was being used to treat the widespread disorder of hysteria.  While Stoker was writing Dracula, Sigmund Freud was developing the practice of regression hypnotherapy.

At the same time, hypnosis was already in demand on the stage.  Indeed James Braid took his inspiration from a "mesmerism" show.

Page 333. " as the check of the capstan falls into the ratchet "
by hector

A capstan is a rotating device on the deck of a ship used to wind a rope or cable around a vertical axis, like a winch.  Capstans were needed to raise large sails and anchors.  Sailors used bars inserted through the top of the capstan to turn the drum.  A ratchet maintained the tension.

Presumably by "check" Mina means the pawl that drops into the ratchet wheel.


Pawl (a) and Ratchet Wheel (b)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePawl (a) and Ratchet Wheel (b) - Credit: Georg Wiora
Page 333. " your so great Port of London "
by hector
The Pool of London, 1841
Public DomainThe Pool of London, 1841 - Credit: W. Parrott


London has been a significant maritime trading port since Roman times.  With the growth of the British Empire, it became the busiest port in the world during the 18th and 19th centuries.  For nearly two millenia, most loading and unloading took place in the Pool of London, the stretch of the River Thames from London Bridge to Rotherhithe.  But by the end of the 18th century, demand for quayside space had outstripped capacity, and throughout the 19th century private companies constructed new enclosed docks in what became known as Docklands.  

Although Docklands was very heavily bombed in World War II, and has now been redeveloped for office and residential use, London remains one of the largest ports in Britain, with new docks further downriver.  Its capacity will increase considerably with the completion of the massive deep-water port at London Gateway.

Map of London's Docks, 1882


London Docks, 1845
Public DomainLondon Docks, 1845 - Credit: Illustrated London News
Page 334. " Tally Ho "
Fox Hunters
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFox Hunters - Credit: Henrik Jessen/Wikimedia Commons

 ‘Tally Ho’ is the traditional cry of the fox-hunter. Fox-hunting was a sport enjoyed by the upper classes in Britain until a ban on the activity in 2005 (though it is still practised in many other countries).


A group of hunters riding horses would follow a pack of hounds trained to track and chase foxes. A red coat is traditional fox-hunting attire.

Page 335. " as if a great hand of fire wrote it on the wall "
Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast, painted in 1635
Public DomainRembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast, painted in 1635

The image of the supernatural hand writing a message on the wall comes from the Book of Daniel in the Bible, in which divine writing appears during a feast foretelling the fall of the Babylonian empire.

Page 337. " Omne ignotum pro magnifico "

‘That which is not known is enchanting’ (Latin). From Tacitus’ Agricola, chapter 30, an account of the Roman general who conquered much of Britain in the 1st century AD.

Page 337. " to your Lloyd's "
by hector
The Royal Exchange
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Royal Exchange - Credit: Snapshots Of The Past

 Lloyd's of London is the world's leading specialist insurance market, with a long heritage in shipping.  It began as Lloyd's Coffee House in 1688, where shipping news was shared between merchants and owners, and insurance deals started to be struck.  In 1774, a committee was formed and the new Society of Lloyd's was moved to the Royal Exchange.  This was its home at the time of Dracula.  Lloyd's moved to its own building on Leadenhall Street in 1928, and is now housed in the otherworldly Lloyd's Building on the same site.

Page 340. " There are deep caverns and fissures "
by hector
Timisoara Cave
Creative Commons AttributionTimisoara Cave - Credit: Francisco Gonzalez

There are indeed some fine caves in Transylvania.  Romania as a whole boasts over 12,000 caves, many of them in the Carpathians.

For the adventurous who want to explore them, here are a couple of options:

Outdoor Holidays  Green Mountain Holidays


Muierilor Cave
Creative Commons AttributionMuierilor Cave - Credit: Cristian Bortes
Page 341. " as the old knights of the Cross "
The Battle-of-Ager-Sanguinis
Public DomainThe Battle-of-Ager-Sanguinis - Credit: wikimedia commons

“Knights of the Cross” may refer to a specific order of knights whose emblem was a cross, such as the Teutonic Knights, who helped Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and who set up hospitals there, or the Knights Templar, a Christian military order which fought in the Crusades. However, it seems more likely that Van Helsing is  referring to all knights who fought in the various Christian Crusades in the Holy Land in and near Jerusalem.

The Crusades were a series of medieval religious wars sanctioned and blessed by the Pope, with the aim of reasserting Christian control of the holy sites at Jerusalem. In other words, Van Helsing believes that they are on a mission from God to rid the world of Dracula’s evil.

Page 343. " the existence of ptomaines "

Ptomaines’ are nitrogenous substances formed by the process of bacterial metabolism or putrefaction of protein. In the 19th century these were thought to be the cause of food poisoning. Later studies have shown that these substances are produced in the human intestine in the process of digesting proteins, without harmful effects.

Page 345. " I propose that we add Winchesters to our armament "
Winchester Rifles
GNU Free Documentation LicenseWinchester Rifles - Credit: Hmaag/Wikimedia Commons

 Winchesters are repeating rifles, made in the 19th century by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of the United States. The 1873 model was known as ‘the Gun that Won the West’. A lever action mechanism allowed several shots to be fired before having to reload.


The fictional vampire and demon hunters in the TV series Supernatural – Sam and Dean Winchester – are named after these guns.

Page 348. " if there be indeed a Recording Angel "
Archangel Gabriel
Public DomainArchangel Gabriel - Credit: Piero Della Francesca

In Jewish, Christian and Islamic belief, the Recording Angel is one or more angels who record the prayers and actions of humans and report these back to God. Gabriel is one of the main Recording Angels in Judeo-Christian belief.

In Islam, the Kiraman Katibin are two angels called Raqib and Atid who record a person’s actions and thoughts. One sits on the right shoulder and records all good deeds, the other on the left shoulder recording the bad.

A Guardian Angel may also be a Recording Angel.