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THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH.
One of the favorite ghosts of modern spiritualists is the "crockery-breaking ghost." This peculiar being apparently returns from the other world merely to
play practical jokes in tie interest of the proprietor of the nearest china-shop. It discloses nothing, lets no ray of light pass through tiie dark doors of death, merely indulges a malicious kind of coarse humor, and makes itself aa disagreeable aa it veil, can. A trail of broken dishes marks its path, and its visits are as costly as they are unworthy of the supernatural charac ter of the visitor. One of the most favorite of these cases, cited by the credulous of the present day, is the ghostly Drummer of Tedworth. | the story runs thus, and in its time it made many a brave Cavalier shudder, many an old Ironside look behind him as he rode home across the lonely down, "the scene of the story was the house of a Mr. John Mompesson, of Ted worth, near Salisbury. In March, 1661, this gentleman, who was a magis trate, ordered the arrest of a vagrant drummer -(probably a real or sham old CtomweUmn soldier), drunken, impudent, and bragging, we may presume, by the fact that ha accompanied his clamorous demands for alms with a noisy, out rageous, and deafening devil's tattoo on an old battered drum, which he would ■wear had-smelt powder in five hundred battles, skirmishes, and cavalry aSaira, from the rush at fidgehill to tike g*eat break-up at Worcester. This trouble some rascal was at hut drubbed, secured, and dragged before the Wiltshire squire, who set him in the stocks, or otherwise punished him, and gave the toot-to-be cndured .drum,, in .spite of the^qld sol-, flier's vooifMto^entteatieaj intone han^ of his l>ailuE. "there ' seemed' no jjre%t~ cruelty in £he case, «™3 the sturdy beggar limpetl-sulkily' away, perhaps to steal a drum in the first barrack town, per haps to tii? in'lhe next ditch, or among the furze bushes of the nearest down. There did not BO^mmuoh tq interest tta supernatural world in the matter, .fha beggar, might h?ve gone on. Uvjng, drun ken, but reasonabljj happy, for jean- No one could Jb*vje presumeiTthat Asmodeus, Mephistopheles, or any other of the sul-. phurous fraternity, would hare troubled themselves about a sham soldier's drum, or, indeed, that the, beggar Ti;m«A\f was warlock jmoufch to have evoked such assistance. "Tne re6ultJ"nW**er? proved that Beelzebub himself took up the matter very seriously, and poor Mr. Mompesson had a dreadful life of it. He would soon have given all the drams' in Wngiimfl to have let that poor broken-down beggar alone. .-•' .: About the middle of April, 1661, just as Mr. Mompesson was getting his valises, pistols, and saddle ready, pre paring to start for London, the bailiff shut up the beggar's drum in the squire's house, as a waif and stray of justice that no one cared for. When the squire was away, and the house in that rather ner-
vans, sensitive state in which a house always is when under a female regent, and in the absence of the master, there was one night an alarm «f thieves. Voices were neard, or were imagined, hands roughly tried the win dows, heavy feet shuffled round some back door. The thieves of those day? were brigands, who thought nothing of murder and anon, and would boldly be siege a house that resisted them. Roads were bad, justice was slow, assistance was far off. There was great danger if ihe attacking force was bolder or more numer ous than the defenders. It was just a question which had the toughest heads, and whose skin would endure the most sword-cats. The old disbanded troopers of both sides made desperate highwaymen, and they had not by any means forgotten how to rifle pockets and cut throats. There was therefore great alarm at Squire Mompesson's about these rascals. They were discussed' in the parlor, in the buttery, in the stable, in the still-room; and no doubt Mr*. Mom pesson was more pleased even than a good wife generally is, to hear the hoofs of her husband's horse beat a gallop up the London road. The squire would look grarer as he stopped his news of the king's doings, and heard of the danger that had threatened all he valued and loved. Be sure the fixst night he ground his sword sharper, looked to his pistol priming, and placed both weapons near the head of the-great plumed and cushioned bed. No disturbance «ame that 'night, however ; but three rughfe after the squire and life wife were awoke by alarming sounds, rude thrusts at the •ak doors, and loud defiant knocks chal
longing admittance. Mompesson was no coward, bo up he leaped, put on his slip pers, struck a light, snatched up his pistols, and down the warning stairs, that creaked as if they were frightened, he went. The hands were still beating angrily at the hall-door, so he, angry and ready to give whoever was there sudden death, in the shape of two bullets, threw the door open and held his lantern out sideways into the darkness, at which he pointed his weapon. But no savage face met his. There was no one nothing but the vast, mute darknniw, that receded continually before the light he carried. As he stood there the knocking began again at another door. Sure now of where the impudent thieves were, and eager to attack them, Mompesson flung back the bolts, and dashed open the second door, expecting a rush of furious men as he did so, and calling probably to his tardy serving-men for help. But again there was only the darkness, and a sense of alarm and super stitious creeping horror now began to steal over him. He went round tiie house and examined every door and win dow. There was nothing; yet still a cer tain distant, hollow, and unaccountable sound struck his ear. Just as he got back into bed, and was talking ever the extraordinary occurrence with his wife, a remarkable thumping and drumming broke out on the very top of the house, which, conveniently for these spiritual demonstrations, was built almost entirely of wood. It was now but too evident to Mompesson that sword and pistol were ineffectual against such an in truder, and that the spirit of the beggar drummer was bent on taking a ghastly and terrible revenge. The noise generally returned when everything was shut up and the house was settling down to sleep. After a month's knocking at outer doors, and in the open air, the sounds grew bolder, and came into the room where the fatal drum lay. They were usually heard four or five nights in seven, beginning when the family was safe in bed, and continuing for about two hours, that is to say, till the drummer Mmm!* (probably some artful servant or accomplice concealed behind a panel) grew tired. The disturb ance usually commenced with what con temporaneous writers vaguely call "a hurling in the air over the ho?se," and concluded by a beating of the drum as at the breaking op ol a guard. This agreeable nocturnal visitor continued his distracting drnmtnings for two months, during all which-time Mr. Mompesson, perspiring profusely with fear, listened to it nightly with Btrained ears. Whoever was the cheat, the ghostly drummer had evidently been a soldier, far he played well-known old Otvaliar points of war, and the different tettoos. ------ During Mrs. Mompesaen's subsequent TOBfinei?eaty and three weeks after, ihe drummer, no doubtfrom sheer compassion, ceased his n??Hitaning parchment music. After this the old malice again broke out, and the ghostly drummer raged again, worse than Detoie, particularly tormenting the children—an unworthy occupation evenforadevil. In the dark their bedsteads were shaken, so that people in the room expected thev would fall to pieces. Those who touched tiie beds at the time this was going on, could feel the shaking, but could not feel any ghostly blows at any special point. Then came dreadful Bcratching? under tiie children's beds, as if by some terrible creature with iron daws. Sometimes the frightened children would' be lifted op in their beds, and whatever room they went to the annoy ance continued. The drummer and his crew became at last so unbearable, that a clergyman was sent for to exorcise these untoward spirits. When he arrived, grave and important, and had been duly refreshed with good sherry, he knelt down at the children's bedsides, and read suitable prayers, suffi cient to have started any respectable gho?tpost-haste to the Red Sea. The spirit was, evidently, a good Church of England ghost, for it withdrew into the cock-loft while the^pxayers wfim-being read, and ceased all saratohingsand liftings of beds. But prayers over, tile drummer grew more outrageous than ever, and defied all religious purgations. In the presence of an aghast company tile chairs walked about the room by themselves, and the children's shoes were thrown over people's heads. Every loose thing in the chamber began to fly about, and even a bedstaJF was gently thrown at the astonished minister, on whose'legs it fell soft as a hick of wool, andfsank] to tiie ground without rolling. ; Mr. Mompesson perceiving that tiie evil spirit especially persecuted his poor children, sent them to lodge at a neigh bor's house, taking his eldest daughter, a child, of ten, into bis own chamber, which the drummer had not disturbed for s -month befok. As soon, howevsr, as tiie child whs-snug in bed, relying on its safety in its father'sroom, thecroel drum mer again began his pranks, answering questions by raps on the drum. It wa* also noted, with honor,,that the terror at tiie knocking spread 4ike an infection to efeu the atumals | for when the noise wasfoudsfei, and burst out witii the most sudden - and surprising violence, no dog abojot the hotise wbnld move, though the rapping, was so violent, and boisterous, and rude, that it could be beard, like some gigantic death-watch, far across the fields, and even awakened neighbors of tiie ttpmpbssons in tile village, which was at some distance. On the Ist of November, 1662, tiie spirit displayed himself in a new character. A aervjng-man, who was in the children's room listening to the supernatural sounds then raging, suddenly, in the full daylight, and in tiie presence of a crowd of frightened neighbors, observed two of the floor-planks move. Upon this he half mockingly asked the spirit to give him one of them. Instantly the board glided within a yard of him. He then said defiantly, and, proud of the response to his wish, "Let me have it in my hand," upon which it pushed close to him. He thrust it hack several .times, but each time it returned to him. This trick the ghostly plank repeated twenty times, till Mr. Mompesson, disliking any commu nication with the spirit that tormented the house, "forbade such familiarities." That same day a sulphurous smell spread throueh the room, proving clearly to
those simple Wiltshire people that the whole affair was diabolical in its origin. Soon after that, the neigh bora house in which the children wen, being full of visitors, beds were made np for the little ones in the parlor, which no ghostly sounds had yet dis turbed. Very soon here invisible hands began in the darkness to pluck them by the hair and night-clothes, but no drum mings were heard. About the end of December, 1662, the drummer seemed to grow tired, but there was next nightly heard a noise like the jingling of money, and tossing and clash ing of coins. It was soon remembered that Mr. Mompesson's mother had, the day before thesespundsbegan,beenjoking about the money fairies were sometimes' said to leave to favored persons, saying that, if the drummer would only leave some money to pay for the trouble he had caused them, she would forgive him. After this the spirit took to small mis chievous tricks. On Christmas Eve, a little before day, one of the younger boys getting out of bed in tiie half-darkneas, was hit upon a sore part of bis heel with the latch of the door; a hitch, moreover, j peculiarly difficult to vnft^t"" The night after Christmas Day, the clothes of old Mrs. Mompesson were ihrown about the room, and her Bible was hidden in the ashes. •■•- The spirit then began to persecute John, a servant of Mr. Mompesaon, "a stout fellow and of sober conversation." For several nights together, hands tore the bed-clothes off him, or, if he held them fast, struggled with him for them. Sometimes his shoes were thrown at his head, or he was held aa if bound hand
and foot. But he always found that when he reached for his sword and struck round with it, he became free, a certain proof, to any one not blinded by super stition, that the spirit was mere flesh and blood after all. A short time after this, a son of Mr. Bennet, a neighbor .of Mr. Mompesson, with whom the drummer had once worked, came and stopped a night at Ted worth, and told Mompesson of threats the drummer had uttered when he was arrested. His servant slept with John the persecuted. That night, as soon as they were in bed, the drum was beat violently in Mr. Bennefs room, upon which he rose and called his man. The moment the man had gone, John heard a rustling sound in his chamber, and some body, as if dressed in silk, came to his bedside. The fellow instantly reached for his sword, usually so efficacious, but, to his horror, he .fonnd it held firmly from him, and it was only with much difficulty and tugging that he at last got it in his grasp; and, as soon as he had, the spirit, whose incorporeal essence seemed always to dread cold steel, at once left him. The spirit was versatile. Early in January, 1663, there began to be a sing ing in tiie chimney before the spirit ap peared. One night lights like corpse candles were Been about the tormented house. A blue and glimmering flame came into Mr. Mompesson's chamber, and those who saw it felt a pain in the eyes. After the light some one, appa rently without shoes, was heard coming up the stairs. The light was seen four or five times in the children's rooms, and the doors were opened and shut at least ten times. When they were opened half a dozen persons seemed to enter and walk round tile room, and Mr. Mompesson himself heard the rustling of silk. At last tiie spirit openly avowed his evil de sign. During tile knocking a gentleman who, with Sir Thomas Chamberlain and others, was present, said boldly, " Satan, if the drummer set thee to work, give three; knocks, and no more." Three knodfe, and ho more, were then at once distinctly given. The gentleman knocked agaiptafter that to bee if it would answer hlm«k usual, but it did not. He then bid it, if it were the drommer, to give four knocks, and no more, that night, which it did, and left the house quiet all the night after. Oh Saturday morning, January the 10th, an hour before day, the ghost beat outside Mr. Mompesson's chamber, then went to the other end of tiie house, where some gentlemen visitors were, played four or five tunes at the door, then passed away.. The next night, a blacksmith from Tedworth sleeping with John the servant, there was a noise in the room as of shoe ing a horse, and something came like a pair of pincers, and snipped at the smith's hose half the night.- It was now uni versally, allowed in Wiltshire that the vagrant drummer had bewitched Mr. Mompesson's house and household, and countless' visitors came to see tile place and hear tiie sounds. The possibility of their being caused by some knavish ser vant, acquainted with secret, passages in the walLi or roof, seems to have been en tirely ignored, except by a few stubborn sceptics, who from tiie beginning declared the whole affair to be a rank imposture. New manifestations soon appeared as tiie tricksters grew more daring. One morning Mr. Mompesson, rising to go a journey, heard a great noise below, where the children lay, and, running down with a pistol in ins hand, heard tiie cry of " A witch! a witch!" but on his entrance all became quiet. The ghost that feared cold steel seems also to have had a respect for hot lead. One night, after playing many apish tricks at the foot af Mr. Mompesson's bed, the ghost went to one of his daughters' beds, and passed under several times, lifting up the bed as it passed. There were three kinds of noises heard in tiie bed, and on thrusting at tiie ghost with a sword, it seemed to shift and avoid tiie thrust, but still continued the move ment. The night after it came panting like a tired dog. On a servant taking up A bedstaff to strike at the invisible in truder, the staff was snatched out of her hand and thrown away; and when visitors oame up to see the room there was a sul phurous smell and a heat, though it* was sharp winter at the time. The spirit kept vp.this .panting and scratching for an kqor and a half, then went into the next', chamber and knocked a little, and seemed to rattle a chair. This was done, for two or three nights together. After this the old- lady's Bible was again found in the wood ashes. The next night the Mom pessons strewed ashes over the room to See what footprints would be left, and the next morning found, t* their horror, the print of a large olaw, Borne unintelligible letters, and many circles and scratches. . About this time a distinguished visitor dame to Tedworth—no less a person than the Reverend Joseph Glanvfl, chaplain in ordinary to His Most Worthless Majesty Charles the Second, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and *n intimate friend of Baxter And Mr. Boyle. He came, fall of ere-' Aulity, to investigate the case and report An the remarkable phenomena. ! I want to bed," he says, "the night I iras there, about cuM of the dock, when L maid servant, coming down from the Children, told us that it was come. The neighbor* that were there, and iab minis ters who had seen and heard it divers times, went away, but Mr. Mompesson, t, and; a gentleman .that came with me, went up. I heard a strange scratching as C went-up tiie stairs, and, when we came into the room, I peraeivad it was just be hind Me bolster .of tiie children's bed, and seemed to be against the tick. It was as loud a, scratching as one with' long nails conld make upon a bolster. There were Vjro little girls in tiie bed, between seven ind eight years old, as X guessed. I saw their hands oat of the clothes, and they could not contribute to tiie noise that was behind their beads. They had grown used to it. and had still somebody or other in tiie chambers with them, and, therefore, seemed—not to be much af frighted. I, standing at the bed's head, thrust my hand behind the bolster, stretching it to the place where the noise seemed to come, whereupon the noise ceased there, but was heard in another part of the bed; but when I had taken out my hand it returned, and was heard in the same place as before. I had been told it would imitate noises, and made .trial by scratching several times, upon the sheet, as five, and seven, and ten, which it followed, and then stopped at my num ber. I searched, tinder and behind the bed, tamed up tiie clothes to the bed cords, pushed the bolster, sounded-tiie wall behind, and made all the seswhl possibly could to find if there were any trick, contrivance, or common cause of it. The like did my friend, but we could dis ■cover nothing. So that I was then verily persuaded, and am so still, that the noise was made by some demon or spirit. After it had scratched about half an hour or more, it went into the middle of the bed under the children, and there seemed to pant, like a dog out of breath, very loudly. I put my hand upon the place, and felt the bed bearing up against it as if something within had thrust it up. I grasped the feathers to feel if anything living was in it. I looked under and everywhere about to see if there were any dog or cat, or any such creature, in the room, and so we all did, but found nothing. The motion caused by the pant ing was bo strong that it shook the room and windows very sensibly. It continued thus more than half an hour, while my friend and I stayed in the room, and as long after, as we were told. During the panting I chanced to see something (which I thought was a rat or mouse) moving in a linen. bag tlict hung up against another 1?d tilat fwas in tile room. Istepped and caught it by the upper end with one hand, with which I held it, and drew it through tiie other, but found nothing at all in it. There was nobody near to shake the bag, or if there had,
no one could have made such a motion, which seemed to be from within, as if a living creature had moved it It will then be said by some that my friend and I were under some affright, and so fancied noises and sights that were not. This is the eternal evasion. But if it be possible to know bow a man is af fected when in fear, and when uncon cerned, I certainly know, for my own part, that during the whole time of my being in the room and in the house, I was under no more affrightment than I am now while I write this relation. And if I know that I am now awake, and that I see the objects that are before me, I know that I heard and saw the par ticulars I have told. There is, lam sen sible, no great matter for story in them, but there is so much as convinceth me that there was something extraordinary, and what we usually call preternatural, in the business." That same night Mr. Glanvil and his friend slept in the haunted chamber, and slept well; but about four o'clock in the morning a great knocking came, just without their chamber door. Glanvil started up and asked who was there several times, but the knocking stall con tinued.. At last, mustering courage, Mr. Glanvil said— " In the name of God, who is it, and what would you have?" To which a voice answered, " Nothing with you." Taking it to be a servant who had mis taken the door, Mr. Glanvil then lay down and went to sleep. But on telling Mr. Mompesson at breakfast, he was as sured that no servant slept near that room, or had business there, and that none of the servants were up till after daybreak. Nor did the supernatural events of that night end there. For pre sently one of Mr. Gianvil's servants cam* and told him that his horse was all in a sweat, and seemed to have been ridden all night. The groom being asked, said it had been well fed and dressed asuiiial; but that day, after a mile or two only over plain down, the horse fell lame, and died in two or three days after the com pletion of the journey. The disturbances now grew worse than ever. Lights came in the morning into the children's chamber, and voices cried " A witch! a witch!" for a hundred times together. Another time, in the daylight, Mr. Mompesson, seeing some wood move ill the chimney of the room where he was, discharged a pistol at it, and (no doubt hitting the rat that caused the move ment) soon after found several drops of blood on the hearth and on the stain. For two or three nights after that the ghost was quiet; then it came again and began to torment a little child just taken from nurse. It would not let the child sleep for two nights together, and if candles came into the room they were carried away high tip the chimney, or thrown under the bed. The ghost nearly fright ened the ohild to death by leaping upon it, so that again the children had all to be removed. The next night, something, about midnight, came up the stairs and knocked at Mr. Mompesson's door; but he lying still, it went up another pair of stairs to the man's chamber, and to John it appeared, in what shape and propor tion he could never correctly describe, but large, and with two red glaring eyes fixed steadily upon him, of that he was sure. It then quietly disappeared. Another night, when strangers were present, it purred like a cat in the chil dren's bed, and lifted up the clothes and the children, though six men held them down. The children were then removed to a second bed, that the first might be ripped open, but the annoy ance began again worse than be fore. This continued four hours, till the children getting their legs bruised against the bedposts, had to rise and sit up all night. At other times ashes were strewn in the bed, and one night a long pike-iron was placed in Mr. Mompesson's bed, and in his mother's a naked knife upright. : In April, 1663, a gentleman staying with the Mompessons found one morning I that all the money in his pocket had turned black in the night, and a few days after Mr. Mompesson discovered his favo rite horse in the stable with one of its hind feet jammed in its mouth. Later in the month, foreeveril nights together, Tedworth House was beset with seven or eight ghostly shapes, which, when s gun was discharged, shuffled away together into an arbour and disappeared. Tit the mean time the real drummer had been going from bad to worse, and was at last committed to Gloucester Jail for stealing. While in that place of du rance, a Wiltshire man came to the prison from curiosity, and the warlock asked what news there was in Wiltshire, The .visitor said, "No news." "No," quoth the drummer. "Did yon not hear of the Swimming atVgentle msn's house at Tedworth V " Yes, Fve heard enough of that," said tiie Wiltshire man. , "Ay," replied the drummer, "I've plagued him. and be shall never be quiet till he hath made me satisfaction for taking away my dram." Upon thin being reported to Mr. Mom pesson, the man was taken and tried for a wizard at Salisbury. The drummer was indicted under the Act (first James tiie First, chapter twelve) against any one who fed, employed, or rewarded any evil spirit. The Grand Jury found a fane bill, but the Petty Jury acquitted him, though it proved that he had boasted of boob he had bought from an old wizard. While in prison the drummer sent to Mr. Mompesson to Bay, if he would give him leave to work for him as a harvest-man, he did not question that he could do him good in the matter of the noises. To this tiie Wiltshire squire, with discreet horror of wizards and witches, prudently replied that he knew the man could do him no good in any honest way, and therefore he would none of him. Soon after this, Mr. Hill, a friend of Mr. Mbmpe?son, told the story of the drummer to a Somersetshire quack doctor. This man assured him that Tedworth house had become arendezvons of witches, and that for a hundred pounds he would undertake to rid the house of all dis turbances. He then, to prove his power, took up a looking-glass that was in the room, and asked Mr. Hill whom he de sired to see. Mr. Hill replied his wife, who-was then many "miles distant. He looked, and at once saw in the glass the exact image of his wife, working at her needle. " The gentlemanhimself,"sayB Glanvil, " averred that to me, and he is a very sober, intelligent, and credible person." After about two years' vexation the ghostly Tedworth drummer finally hud down his obnoxious instrument. Mr. Mompeason was :much annoyed at the time by reports that the noises were the result of mere imposture, and wrote a publi: announcement denying that he had ever made any such confession. He really seems to have been an honest man, fully im pressed with a belief in the supernatural character of the visitation. Mr. Glanvil says of him—" He is a gentleman of whose truth in this account I have not the least ground of suspicion, be being neither vain nor credulous, but a discreet, sagacious, and manly person, neither crazy nor imaginative." He suffered by the affair in his name, estate, and general peace of his family. Sceptics called him aii impostor. Many others declared his misfortune to be the judgment of God against him for some notorious wicked ness or impiety. His estate was injured by the concourse of visitors, and servants could hardly be induced to live wjth hint The king himself sent gentlemen to hear the noises, but nothing-was seenor heard that night—a fact which tlelighted -the disbelievers.
The whole story is a very remarkable instance of a long-sustained, apparently purposeless, yet successful imposture, and is a good example of tiie superstitions
prevalent in ihe reign of Charles the Second. The noise seems to hare bees the result of some secret conspiracy of servants, whose intimate knowledge of the nooks and crannies of the house pro bably rendered them able to constantly vex and alarm the inmates, especially when the notion of ghosts and witches had been once started, and confirmed by the rapping. The rats, with whom the old wooden house was no doubt full, pro bably played a mbordinate bnt important part in the same supernatural visitation. Addison afterwards wrote a comedy on this vexations imposture.—.4(l the Tear Sound.