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The Source:

Alfed Harou:
"Vampires Contemporains"
in: "Revue des Traditions Populaires", 1887

The Case:

"Le Journal de Saint-Pétersbourg raconte un fait vraiment extraordinaire, pour l'époque où nous sommes. Récemment, mourait à Sabouez, près de Dantzig, un grand le propriétaire, baron de Gostvosky. Se sentant près de sa fin, il fit appeler son fils aîné et lui dit qu'il avait un secret à lui révéler. — Mon enfant, fit-il, je me meurs. Quand j'aurai rendu le dernier soupir prenez soin de me couper la tête, avant de m'enterrer. Nous sommes une famille de vampires, et, à moins qu'on ne prenne cette précaution, nous ne trouvons pas de repos dans la tombe. Il raconta alors qu'il avait coupé ainsi la tête de sa mère, et il fit jurer à son fils de lui obéir. Quand le baron Gostovsky fut mort, on obéit à sa volonté. Quelques jours après, le fils, par une curiosité pleine d'angoisse, fit exhumer le corps, pour constater qu'il ne s'était pas produit de phénomène anormal. Notez que ce baron de Gostovsky n'était pas un hobereau ignorant. Il avait voyagé, il avait occupé, dans son pays, des situations considérables. L'instruction n'avait pas triomphé chez lui, cependant, de ces préjugés, légués par des traditions de famille inexplicables. Les tribunaux se sont occupés de l'affaire, et le fils du baron a été condamné à quinze jours de prison, pour violation de sépulture (1887)."

Which more or less translates into this:

"The newspaper of St. Petersburg tells a truly extraordinary fact, considering the time in which we live. Recently, at Sabouez near Dantzig, died a great landowner, Baron Gostovsky. When he felt his end was near he summoned his eldest son and told him he had a secret to reveal. - My child, he said, I am dying. When I have breathed my last breath, make sure that you cut off my head before you burry me. We are a family of vampires, and, unless this precaution is taken, we find no rest in the grave. Then he told that he had thus cut the head off his mother, and he made his son swear to obey. When the Baron Gostovsky was dead, his will was obeyed. A couple of days later, the son, driven by curiosity and fear, had the corpse exhumed, in order to establish that there would be no abnormal phenomena. Please note that the Baron Gostovsky was not some ignorant "country gentleman". He had travelled, within his country he had held important positions. But his education had not triumphed over these prejudices to which he was tied by his inexplicable family traditions. The courts have looked into the matter, and the son of the Baron has received a 15 day prison sentence, on account of violation of a grave (1887)."

The Date:

The year of the events is given as 1887.

The Place:

There seems to be no Sabouez. But we have been told that it is supposed to be near Danzig. Now the only place I could find there that comes near to Sabouez is a place called Sobieszewo. To me it seems like a possibility. I can well imagine how such a Polish name, first transcribed into Russian, and then transcribed into French, might turn into Sabouez. But of course I am always open to better suggestions.

Possible Follow-Up:

Go find and read Harou's "Vampires Contemporains" in the "Revue des Traditions Populaires". See if he has anything else to say about the case.

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed March 2012

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