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Letter of the Drum

To the Publisher of the GAZETTE.


I know well that the Age in which we live, abounds in Spinosists, Hobbists, and most impious Free-Thinkers, who despise Revelation, and treat the most sacred Truths with Ridicule and Contempt: Nay, to such an Height of Iniquity are they arrived, that they not only deny the Existence of the Devil, and of Spirits in general, but would also persuade the World, that the Story of Saul and the Witch of Endor is an Imposture; and which is still worse, that no Credit is to be given to the so well-attested One of the Drummer of Tedsworth. I do, indeed, confess that the Arguments of some of these unbelieving Gentlemen, with whom I have heretofore conversed on the Subject of Spirits, Apparitions, Witches, &c. carried with them a great Shew of Reason, and were so specious, that I was strongly inclined to think them in the Right; and for several Years past have lived without any Fear or Apprehensions of Daemons or Hobgoblins; but the Case is quite alter’d with me now; and I who used to sleep without drawing my Curtains, am now so fearful, that I pin them every Night I go to Bed with corking Pins, and cover my self Head over Ears with the Clothes. Now this Change is not owing, as you would imagine, to any frightful Apparition I have seen, or uncommon Noise I have heard; but to a most amazing Account I received the other Day from a Reverend Gentleman, of a certain House’s being haunted with the D —— l of a Drummer, not a whit less obstreperous, than the Tedsworthian Tympanist: This Gentleman, whose Veracity few People presume to call in Question, told me, that he was not long since obliged to meet some of his Brethren, at a certain Town about fifteen Miles below Philadelphia, in order to settle some Affairs of the Church, and to consult on proper Measures to prevent the Growth of Atheism; that he was there joined by four of his Brethren; who insisting that it was unpresidented to proceed to Business at their first Meeting, they thereupon unanimously agreed to defer their Consultations ’till the next Day; that they spent the Evening chearfully, yet soberly; that about ten at Night they retired to repose themselves, but lodged in separate Rooms; that he, with his Companion, were no sooner warm in their Bed, than they heard a Drum beating very loud, now on the one Side of their Bed, then on the other, and in a Moment after on the Teaster; that sometimes they distinctly heard the Scots Traveller, and at other Times the Grenadiers March; that the Noise continued all Night, frighted them almost to Death, and yet, which is the most surprizing and unaccountable Part of the Relation, disturbed no Mortal in the House save themselves; The Noise continued all Night, frighted them almost to Death, and yet, which is the most surprizing and unaccountable Part of the Relation, disturbed no Mortal in the House save themselves!that early in the Morning they went into the next Room, where they found two of their Brethren sleeping soundly; that they were amazed to find them so fast asleep after such a terrible Night; that having awakened them, they asked whether they had not been disturbed with the Noise of a Drum? that they replied, They had rested well, and were surprized to hear them ask such a Question, and hinted that they believed them to be out of their Senses; upon which he related to them the Adventure of the Night, so full of Horror, with all the Particulars I have mentioned, and many more which I have omitted; That at first they seemed to give little Credit to what he said; but upon his Bedfellow’s affirming it to be true, they appeared to be satisfied of the Reality of the Fact. Then the Gentleman went on with his Story in this wise: That the next Night he with his Companion went to Bed in the same Room, in which they had been so terribly frighten’d; that they had not taken their first Nap, before they heard an uncouth Noise under them; that his Companion was shortly after seized violently and forcibly by the great Toe, and in great Danger of being pulled out of the Bed; but that upon the Beating of the Drum, which happen’d at the same Instant, his Toe was released; and that to prevent any future Attacks, they hoisted their Knees up to their very Noses; the Noise still growing louder, they felt a most prodigious Weight on them, heavier, as he said, than the Night-Mare; that by his Voice they presently discovered it to be one of their Brethren, who had come into their Room on purpose to scare them; either believing that they had told him a Fib, or that they were under such potent Influences the Night before, as made them imagine they heard a Drum, when in Reality they did not; But mark, said the Relater to me; according to the old Proverb, Harm watch Harm catch; for he was so frighted himself, that he would not have ventured back to his own Room, though he were sure to be made a Bishop; so that we were obliged to share our Bed with him, in which we lay sweating, and almost dead with Fear, ’till Morning. Thus he concluded his surprizing Relation, which wrought so strongly on me, that I could no longer Doubt of the D —— l’s having plaid them this Prank; and to this Story only my Timorousness is owing. Now, I know well enough, that some Folks will be apt to say; it is all a Lye, a meer Forgery; in short, they will raise an infinite Number of Objections to destroy its Credit; for when I told it to a certain Person, he swore it could not be true; because in a Piece of the learned Greutzius, which he had read, De examine Sagarum, he found that all the Divines in Germany were clearly of Opinion, that the Devil never begins to play his Pranks ’till after Midnight, and that no Spectres were seen before that Time; and this Noise beginning between ten and eleven both Nights, he was assured, for that Reason, that the Devil was no Way concern’d in it; but he had almost staggered me, when he told me this Story: A certain Curate lived in the Island of Jamaica, who loved his Bottle, no Curate better; he chanced to be drinking in a Tavern, when he was called upon to do the last Offices to a Brother departed; upon which with great Reluctance he leaves his Company, but told them he would return immediately: away he hies to the Place of Burial, and, as is usual, reads over the Service for the Dead, ’till he came to the Words, I heard a Voice from Heaven, saying, blessed, &c. at which he was interrupted by one of his Companions, who had followed him from the Ale-house, with a `By G —— that’s a d —— ‘d Lye, for I have been drinking with you all Day at Mother —— ‘s, and if you had heard the Voice, I should have heard it too, for my Ears are as good as yours.’ The Gentleman left me to apply the Story.

Now, Sir, as I take you to be a Person of profound Learning and Judgment, I desire you will set me to rights, by giving me your Opinion candidly, whether I ought to give Credit to the above Relation or not, altho’ it be attested by two Reverend Fathers,

I am, Sir, yours, &c.;

The Pennsylvania Gazette, April 23, 1730