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It is one of the wonders of literature that ADDISON with a wit so keen, a literary touch so delicate, and a fertility of fancy so great, should have failed as a comedy-writer. Macaulay, noting how the Roger de Coverley' papers work into a charming narrative, regrets that a writer so capable of invaluable character-fiction should never have attempted a true novel. Addison's comedy, 'The Drummer,' written with probably some help from Steele, goes some way, though not the whole way, to induce us to think that this regret was groundless. The 'Drummer' has in places a humour of its own, but were its authorship unknown few critics probably would detect in its scenes the masterly touch and refined taste of Addison. It was perhaps the moralizing tendency of the author and the age that make this comedy wanting in the right comedy flavour.
THE DRUMMER, OR THE HAUNTED
THE HE country house of Lady Truman, whose husband, Sir George Truman, is reported to have fallen in battle in the Netherlands fourteen months before, is haunted by an invisible drummer, supposed to be Sir George's ghost. Lady Truman has dismissed one suitor, Mr. Fantome, and is amusing herself at the expense of another, Mr. Tinsel, a coxcomb and fortunehunter. The mysterious drummer is Fantome, who with the connivance of Abigail, Lady Truman's elderly and shrewish waiting-woman, conceals himself in a hidden closet dressed as Sir George, with the object of suddenly appearing before his rival Tinsel, and frightening him from the house. Meanwhile Sir George, who has not been killed, but kept a close prisoner, on his release writes privately to Vellum, his steward, a formal, precise old man, and, anxious to test his wife's conduct, comes to the house as a conjuror, to lay the supposed ghost. Tinsel having been scared away by Fantome, as the drummer, Fantome himself quits the house on the appearance of Sir George without his disguise, and the play ends with the happy reunion of Sir George and Lady Truman and the marriage of Vellum with Abigail.
A great Hall.
Enter the Butler, Coachman, and Gardener. Butler. There came another coach to town last night, that brought a gentleman to enquire about this strange noise we hear in the house. This spirit will bring a power of custom to the George-If so be he continues his pranks, I design to sell a pot of ale, and set up the sign of the drum.
Coachman. I'll give madam warning, that's flat— I've always lived in sober families-I'll not disparage myself to be a servant in a house that 's haunted.
Gardener. I'll e'en marry Nell, and rent a bit of ground of my own, if both of you leave madam; not but that madam's a very good woman—if Mrs. Abigail did not spoil her-Come, here's her health.
Butler. 'Tis a very hard thing to be a butler in a house that is disturbed. He made such a racket in the cellar, last night, that I'm afraid he'll sour all the beer in my barrels.
Coachman. Why then, John, we ought to take it off as fast as we can-Here's to you-He rattled so loud under the tiles, last night, that I verily thought the house would have fallen over our heads. I durst not go up into the cock-loft this morning, if I had not got one of the maids to go along with me.
Gardener. I thought I heard him in one of my bed
posts. I marvel, John, how he gets into the house, when all the gates are shut.
Butler. Why, look ye, Peter, your spirit will creep you into an augre-hole-he'll whisk ye through a keyhole, without so much as justling against one of the wards.
Coachman. Poor Madam is mainly frightened, that's certain, and verily believes it is my master, that was killed in the last campaign.
Butler. Out of all manner of question, Robin, 'tis Sir George. Mrs. Abigail is of opinion, it can be none but his honour. He always loved the wars; and, you know, was mightily pleased, from a child, with the music of a drum.
Gardener. I wonder his body was never found after the battle.
Butler. Found! why, ye fool, is not his body here about the house? Dost thou think he can beat his drum without hands and arms?
Coachman. 'Tis master, as sure as I stand here alive; and I verily believe I saw him last night in the town-close. Gardener. Ay! How did he appear?
Coachman. Like a white horse.
Butler. Phoo, Robin! I tell ye, he has never appeared yet, but in the shape of the sound of a drum.
Coachman. This makes one almost afraid of one's own shadow. As I was walking from the stable, t' other night, without my lanthorn, I fell across a