Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

of witchcraft at Salisbury appears to be a fact, as also that he was sentenced to transportation for the crime. The leniency of the sentence is said to have excited no little surprise at that time, the offence of which he was found guilty generally being punished by death.

Hitherto the history of the haunting at Tedworth is only a recapitulation of what Glanvil took down from the mouths of other people, but his own personal experiences should not be ignored in any account of this extraordinary affair. In January 1662 he visited the scene of the disturbance himself, and furnishes the following record of what he observed :

“About this time I went to the house on purpose to inquire the truth of those passages, of which there was so loud a report. It had ceased from its drumming and ruder noises before I came thither; but most of the more remarkable circumstances before related were confirmed to me there, by several of the neighbours together, who had been present at them. At this time it used to haunt the children, and that as soon as they were laid in bed. They went to bed that night I was there, about eight of the clock, when a maid-servant, coming down from them, told us it was come. The neighbours that were there, and two ministers who had seen and heard divers times, went away ; but Mr. Mompesson and I, and a gentleman that came with me, went up. I heard a strange scratching as we went up the stairs, and when we came into the room, I perceived it was just behind the bolster of the children's bed, and seemed to be against the tick. It was loud scratching, as one with

long nails could make upon a bolster. There were two little modest girls in the bed, between seven and eleven years old, as I guessed. I saw their hands out of the clothes, and they could not contribute to the noise that was behind their heads. They had been used to it, and had still somebody or other in the chamber with them, and therefore seemed not to be much affrighted. I, standing at the bed's head, thrust my hand behind the bolster, directing it to the place whence the noise seemed to come. Whereupon the noise ceased there, and 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 that it would imitate noises, and made trial by scratching several times upon the sheet, as five, and seven, and ten, which it followed, and still stopped at my number. I searched under and behind the bed, turned up the clothes to the bed-cords, graspt the bolster, sounded the wall behind, and made all the search that possibly I could, to find if there were any trick, contrivance, or common cause of it. The like did my friend; but we could discover 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 midst of the bed, under the children, and then 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 any living thing were 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 it caused by this panting was so strong, that it shook the rooms and windows very sensibly. It continued more than half an hour, while my friend and I stayed in the room, and as long after, as we were told.

It will, I know, 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 how a man is affected when in fear, and when unaffected, I certainly know, for mine 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 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 particulars that I have told."

Thus ends the Rev. Joseph Glanvil's account of this extraordinary affair, from which Mr. Mom pesson, as he

all his affairs, and in the general peace of his family," because, as the same authority points out, “the unbelievers, in the matter of spirits and witches, took him for an impostor, many others judged the permission of such an extraordinary evil to be the judgment of God upon him for some notorious wickedness or impiety. Thus his name was continually exposed to censure, and his estate suffered by the concourse of people from all parts to his house; by the diversion it gave him from his affairs ; by the discouragement of servants, by

reason of which he could hardly get any to live with him ; to which I add the continual hurry that his family was in, the affrights, and the watchings and disturbance of his whole house (in which himself must needs be the most concerned). I say if these things. are considered, there will be little reason to think he would have any interest to put a cheat upon the world, in which he would most of all have injured and abused himself.”

Mr. Mompesson, writing on the 8th of November 1672, or ten years after the events recorded had taken place, besides pointing out that no discovery had been made of any cheat, declared most solemnly that he knew of none, as he had, indeed, testified at the assizes. “If the world will not believe it,” he concluded, “it shall be indifferent to me, praying God to keep me from the same or the like affliction.”

TRURO.

PROBABLY the last person one would imagine selected for a supernatural warning was Samuel Foote, the mimic and buffoon. And yet the so-called “English Aristophenes " not only dwelt in a haunted house, or at least believed so, but was closely connected with the chief characters of one of the most unnatural tragedies our judicial records have preserved. Foote's maternal uncles were Sir John Goodere and Captain Goodere, a naval officer. In 1740 the two brothers dined at a friend's house near Bristol ; for a long time they had been on bad terms owing to certain money transactions, but at the dinner table a reconciliation was, to all appearance, arrived at between them. On his return home, however, Sir John was waylaid by some men from his brother's vessel, acting by his brother's authority, carried on board, and deliberately strangled ; Captain Goodere not only unconcernedly looking on, but actually furnishing the rope with which the crime was committed. For this atrocity the fratricidal officer and his confederates were tried at the Bristol assizes, found guilty, and executed.

But, say the biographers of Foote, the strangest part of this terrible tale remains to be told. On the night the murder was perpetrated Foote arrived at his father's house at Truro; he describes himself as having been kept awake for some time by the softest and sweetest strains of music he had ever heard. At first he tried to fancy it was a serenade got up by some of the family to welcome him home; but not being able to discover any trace of the musicians, he was compelled to come to the conclusion that the sounds were the mere offspring of his imagination.

Some short time afterwards Foote learnt the particulars of his uncle's terrible fate, and remarking that the murder had been consummated at the same hour of the same night that he had been haunted by the mysterious sounds, he arrived at the conclusion that it

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »