Previously in Varney the Vampire: Varney checks up on the Bannerworths and the mob discovers a "vampire."
In Chapter 48 (THE STAKE AND THE DEAD BODY.) begins with a sentence masquerading as a paragraph, which I read three times and then gave up on:
The mob seemed from the first to have an impression that, as regarded the military force, no very serious results would arise from that quarter, for it was not to be supposed that, on an occasion which could not possibly arouse any ill blood on the part of the soldiery, or on which they could have the least personal feeling, they would like to get a bad name, which would stick to them for years to come.It continues fairly soon with the woman at the end of the previous chapter, who thought a dead man was a vampire. Other townspeople crowd around the body to examine it. They summon a man who saw the body a few days ago, who confirms that it looks fresher now than it did when he first died.
So they decide that they must drive a stake through the body. Interestingly, the heart isn't specified as it is in many vampire stories; just the stake itself, "it was currently believed, inflicted so much physical injury to the frame, as to render his resuscitation out of the question."
The act itself is carried out by a handful of drunk guys unaffiliated with the current on-lookers -- I suppose that's so JMR (who puts on great airs of horror and disgust at the violation of the body) can continue looking down at the mob while mostly viewing them as stupid and misguided, rather than evil.
Was the guy actually a vampire? It's hard to say, although JMR comes down pretty strongly on the side of "no, and you're stupid for believing that there might be vampires in a vampire story."
But whether he was or wasn't, the problem with this scene is that it exists only so JMR can do what he's done every single chapter since the mob was introduced: smack us over the head with how stupid and uncivilized they are. The whole "drive a stake through the heart/cut off the head of someone who might have been turned to prevent them from rising" is a classic vampire trope, and in most stories it works because we are familiar with -- and care about -- both the character who's dead and the character doing the staking. It becomes a poignant moment of angst, reinforcing the loss of the loved one and demonstrating that the vampire slayer will do whatever it takes to stop others from getting hurt.
The mob is a sort of character, certainly, but by bringing in some random guys to do the deed, JMR fails to show the impact of the staking on that character. Worse than that, he gives the mob someone to look down on -- someone who's reviled for doing the dirty work that, if the mob is correct in their assumptions of vampirism, needs to get done. Like so much of the story, it's just all too convenient.