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HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS

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Author Topic: HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS  (Read 678 times)
Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #30 on: November 15, 2009, 03:45:40 am »

Thus he journeyed, undisturbed and gaining a sufficient living, until he chanced in the spring of 1661 to invade the quiet Wiltshire village of Tedworth. At that time the interests of Tedworth were identical with the interests of a certain Squire Mompesson, and he, being a gouty, irritable individual, was little disposed to have his peace and the peace of Tedworth disturbed by the drummer's loud bawling and louder drumming. At his orders rough hands seized the unhappy wanderer, blows rained upon him, and he was driven from Tedworth minus his drum. In vain he begged the wrathful Mompesson to restore it to him; in vain, with the tears streaming down his battle-worn, weather-beaten face, he protested that the drum was the only friend left to him in all the world; and in vain he related the happy memories it held for him. "Go," he was roughly told—"go, and be thankful thou escapest so lightly!"[Pg 19] So go he did, and whither he went nobody knew, and for the moment nobody cared.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #31 on: November 15, 2009, 03:47:03 am »

But all Tedworth soon had occasion to wish that his lamentations had moved the Squire to pity. Hardly a month later, when Mompesson had journeyed to the capital to pay his respects to the King, his family were aroused in the middle of the night by angry voices and an incessant banging on the front door. Windows were tried; entrance was vehemently demanded. Within, panic reigned at once. The house was situated in a lonely spot, and it seemed certain that, having heard of its master's absence, a band of highwaymen, with whom the countryside abounded, had planned to turn burglars. The occupants, consisting as they did of women and children, could at best make scant resistance; and consequently there was much quaking and trembling, until, finding the bolts and bars too strong for them, the unwelcome visitors withdrew.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #32 on: November 15, 2009, 03:47:15 am »

Unmeasured was Mompesson's wrath when he returned and learned of the alarm. He only hoped, he declared, that the villains would venture back—he would give them a greeting such as had not been known since[Pg 20] the days of the great war. That very night he had opportunity to make good his boast, for soon after the household had sought repose the disturbance broke out anew. Lighting a lantern, slipping into a dressing-gown, and snatching up a brace of pistols, the Squire dashed down-stairs, the noise becoming louder the nearer he reached the door. Click, clash—the bolts were slipped back, the key was turned, and, lantern extended, he peered into the night.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #33 on: November 15, 2009, 03:47:32 am »

The moment he opened the door all became still, and nothing but empty darkness met his eyes. Almost immediately, however, the knocking began at a second door, to which, after making the first fast, he hurried, only to find the same result, and to hear, with mounting anger, a tumult at yet another door. Again silence when this was thrown open. But, stepping outside, as he afterward told the story, Mompesson became aware of "a strange and hollow sound in the air." Forthwith the suspicion entered his mind that the noises he had heard might be of supernatural origin. To him, true son of the seventeenth century, a suspicion of this sort was tantamount to certainty, and an unreason[Pg 21]ing alarm filled his soul; an alarm that grew into deadly fear when, safe in the bed he had hurriedly sought, a tremendous booming sound came from the top of the house.
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« Reply #34 on: November 15, 2009, 03:47:59 am »

Here, in an upper room, for safe-keeping and as an interesting relic of the Civil War, had been placed the beggar's drum, and the terrible thought occurred to Mompesson: "Can it be that the drummer is dead, and that his spirit has returned to torment me?"

A few nights later no room for doubt seemed left. Instead of the nocturnal shouting and knocking, there began a veritable concert from the room containing the drum. This concert, Mompesson informed his friends, opened with a peculiar "hurling in the air over the house," and closed with "the beating of a drum like that at the breaking up of a guard." The mental torture of the Squire and his family may be easier imagined than described. And before long matters grew much worse, when, becoming emboldened, the ghostly drummer laid aside his drum to play practical, and sometimes exceedingly painful, jokes on the members of the household.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #35 on: November 15, 2009, 03:48:13 am »

Curiously enough, his malice was chiefly[Pg 22] directed against Mompesson's children, who—poor little dears—had certainly never worked him any injury. Yet we are told that for a time "it haunted none particularly but them." When they were in bed the coverings were dragged off and thrown on the floor; there was heard a scratching noise under the bed as of some animal with iron claws; sometimes they were lifted bodily, "so that six men could not hold them down," and their limbs were beaten violently against the bedposts. Nor did the unseen and unruly visitant scruple to plague Mompesson's aged mother, whose Bible was frequently hidden from her, and in whose bed ashes, knives, and other articles were placed.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #36 on: November 15, 2009, 03:48:29 am »

As time passed marvels multiplied. The assurance is solemnly given that "chairs moved of themselves." A board, it is insisted, rose out of the floor of its own accord and flung itself violently at a servant. Strange lights, "like corpse candles," floated about. The Squire's personal attendant John, "a stout fellow and of sober conversation," was one night confronted by a ghastly apparition in the form of "a great body with two red and glaring eyes." Frequently, too, when[Pg 23] John was in bed he was treated as were the children, his coverings removed, his body struck, etc. But it was noticed that whenever he grasped and brandished a sword he was left in peace. Clearly, the ghost had a healthy respect for cold steel.
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« Reply #37 on: November 15, 2009, 03:48:43 am »

It had less respect for exorcising, which, of course, was tried, but tried in vain. All went well as long as the clergyman was on his knees saying the prescribed prayers by the bedside of the tormented children, but the moment he rose a bed staff was thrown at him and other articles of furniture danced about so madly that body and limb were endangered.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #38 on: November 15, 2009, 03:48:52 am »

Mompesson was at his wits' end. Well might he be! Apart from the injury done to his family and belongings, his house was thronged night and day by inquisitive visitors from all sections of the country. He was denounced on the one hand as a trickster, and on the other as a man who must be guilty of some terrible secret sin, else he would not thus be vexed. Sermons were preached with him as the text. Factions were formed, angrily affirming and denying the supernatural character of the disturbances. News[Pg 24] of the affair traveled even to the ears of the King, who dispatched an investigating commission to Mompesson House, where, greatly to the delight of the unbelieving, nothing untoward occurred during the commissioners' visit. But thereafter, as if to make up for lost time, the most sensational and vexatious phenomena of the haunting were produced.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #39 on: November 15, 2009, 03:49:10 am »

Thus matters continued for many months, until it dawned on Mompesson and his friends that possibly the case was not one of ghosts but one of witchcraft. This suspicion rose from the singular circumstance that voices in the children's room began, "for a hundred times together," to cry "A witch! A witch!" Resolved to put matters to a test, one of the boldest of a company of spectators suddenly demanded, "Satan, if the drummer set thee to work, give three knocks and no more!" To which three knocks were distinctly heard, and afterward, by way of confirmation, five knocks as requested by another onlooker.
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« Reply #40 on: November 15, 2009, 03:49:31 am »

Now began an eager hunt for the once despised drummer, who was presently found in jail at Gloucester accused of theft. And with this discovery word was brought to Mompesson that the drummer had openly[Pg 25] boasted of having bewitched him. This was enough for the outraged Squire. There was in existence an act of King James I. holding it a felony to "feed, employ, or reward any evil spirit," and under its provisions he speedily had his alleged persecutor indicted as a wizard.
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« Reply #41 on: November 15, 2009, 03:49:53 am »

Amid great excitement the aged veteran was brought from Gloucester to Salisbury to stand trial. But his spirit remained unbroken. Instead of confessing, humbly begging mercy, and promising amends, he undertook to bargain with Mompesson, promising that if the latter secured his liberty and gave him employment as a farm hand, he would rid him of the haunting. Perhaps because he feared treachery, perhaps because, as he said, he felt sure the drummer "could do him no good in any honest way," Mompesson rejected this ingenuous proposal.
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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #42 on: November 15, 2009, 03:50:07 am »

So the drummer was left to his fate, which, for those days, was most unexpected. A packed and attentive court room listened to the tale of the mishaps and misadventures that had made Mompesson House a national center of interest; it was proved that the accused had been intimate with an old vaga[Pg 26]bond who pretended to possess supernatural powers; and emphasis was laid on the alleged fact that he had boasted of having revenged himself on Mompesson for the confiscation of his drum. Luckily for him, Mompesson was not the power in Salisbury that he was in Tedworth, and the drummer's eloquent defense moved the jury to acquit him and to send him on his way rejoicing. Thereafter he was never again heard of in Wiltshire or in the pages of history, and with his disappearance came an end to the knockings, the corpse candles, and all the other uncanny phenomena that had made life a ceaseless nightmare for the Mompessons.
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« Reply #43 on: November 15, 2009, 03:50:37 am »

Such is the astonishing story of the drummer of Tedworth, still cited by the superstitious as a capital example of the intermeddling of superhuman agencies in human affairs, and still mentioned by the skeptical as one of the most amusing and most successful hoaxes on record.

To us of the twentieth century its chief significance lies in the striking resemblance between the tribulations of the Mompesson family and the so-called physical phenomena of modern spiritism. All who have attended[Pg 27] spiritistic séances are familiar with the invisible and perverse ghost, which, for no apparent reason other than to mystify, causes furniture to gyrate violently, rings bells, plays tambourines, levitates the "medium," and favors the spectators with sundry taps, pinches, even blows. Precisely thus was it with the doings at Mompesson House, where many of the salient phenomena of modern spiritism were anticipated nearly two hundred and fifty years ago.
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« Reply #44 on: November 15, 2009, 03:54:23 am »

The inference is irresistible that a more or less intimate connection exists between the disturbances at Tedworth and the triumphs of latter-day mediumship, and it thus becomes doubly interesting to examine the evidence for and against the supernatural origin of the performances that so perplexed the Englishmen of the Restoration. This evidence is presented in far greater detail than is here possible, in a curious document written by the Reverend Joseph Glanvill, a clergyman of the Church of England and an eye witness of some of the phenomena. His point of view is that of an ardent believer in the verity of witchcraft, and his narrative of the Tedworth affair finds place in a treatise designed to dis[Pg 28]comfit those irreligious persons who maintained the opposite. It is therefore evident that his account of the case is to be regarded as a piece of special pleading, and as such must be received with critical caution.
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