More Wonders of the Invisible World
More Wonders of the Invisible World: Or, The Wonders of the Invisible World, Displayed in Five Parts
Part I. An Account of the Sufferings of Margaret Rule, Written by the Reverend Mr. C. M.
P. II. Several Letters to the Author, etc. And his Reply relating to Witchcraft.
P. III. The Differences between the Inhabitants of Salem Village, and Mr. Parris their Minister, in New-England.
P. IV. Letters of a Gentleman uninterested, Endeavoring to prove the received Opinions about Witchcraft to be Orthodox. With short Essays to their Answers.
P. V. A short Historical Account of Matters of Fact in that Affair.
To which is added, A Postscript relating to a Book entitled, ’The Life of Sir William Phips'
Collected by Robert Calef, Merchant, of Boston in New-England. Licensed and Entered according to Order.
London: Printed for Nath. Hillar, at the Princes-Arms, in Leaden-Hall-street, over against St. Mary-Ax, and Joseph Collyer, at the Golden-Bible, on London-Bridge.
- 1 Epistle to the Reader
- 2 Part 1, ANOTHER BRAND PLUCKED OUT OF THE BURNING, OR, MORE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
- 3 PART 2, A Letter to Mr. Cotton Mather
- 4 PART 5. An Impartial Account of the most Memorable Matters of Fact, touching the supposed Witchcraft in New England
- 4.1 Mittimus for imprisonment of William & Deliverance Hobbs, Mary Easty, Sarah Wildes, Edward & Sarah Bishop, Mary Black, and Mary English
- 4.2 Letter, To Mr. John Arnold, Keeper of the Prison in Boston, in the County of Suffolk
- 4.3 Letter, Salem-Prison, July
- 4.4 Letter, From the Dungeon in Salem-Prison, August ,
- 4.5 Petition of Mary Easty
- 4.6 Sheriff’s Receipt for property seized from Edward and Sarah Bishop
- 4.7 Andover Petition
- 4.8 William Stoughton & Samuel Sewall, endorsement of Wonders of the Invisible World
- 4.9 Government Proclamation
- 4.10 Confession of the Jurors
Epistle to the Reader
And more especially to the Noble Bereans of this Age, wherever Residing.
Gentlemen, You that are freed from the Slavery of a corrupt Education; and that in spite of human Precepts, Examples and Presidents, can hearken to the Dictates of Scripture and Reason: For your sakes I am content, that these Collections of mine, as also my Sentiments should be exposed to public view; In hopes that having well considered, and compared them with Scripture, you will see reason, as I do, to question a belief so prevalent (as that here treated of) as also the practice flowing from thence; they standing as nearly connects as cause and effect; it being found wholly impracticable, to extirpate the latter without first curing the former.
And if the Buffoon or Satirical will be exercising their Talents, or if the Bigots wilfully and blindly reject the Testimonies of their own Reason, and more sure word, it is no more than what I expected from them.
But you Gentlemen, I doubt not, are willing to Distinguish between Truth and Error, and if this may be any furtherance to you herein, I shall not miss my Aim.
But if you find the contrary, and that my belief herein is any way Heterodox, I shall be thankful for the Information to any Learned or Reverend Person, or others, that shall take that pains to inform me better by Scripture, or sound Reason, which is what I have been long seeking for in this Country in vain.
In a time when not only England in particular, but almost all Europe had been laboring against the Usurpations of Tyranny and Slavery, The English America has not been behind in a share in the Common calamities; more especially New-England has met not only with such calamities as are common to the rest, but with several aggravations enhancing such Afflictions, by the Devastations and Cruelties of the Barbarous Indians in their Eastern borders, etc.
But this is not all, they have been harassed (on many accounts) by a more dreadful Enemy, as will herein appear to the considerate.
Were it as we are told in Wonders of the Invisible World, that the Devils were walking about our Streets with lengthened Chains making a dreadful noise in our Ears, and Brimstone, even without a Metaphor, was making a horrid and a hellish stench in our Nostrils, And that the Devil exhibiting himself ordinarily as a black-Man, had decoyed a fearful knot of Proud, Froward, Ignorant, Envious and Malicious Creatures, to list themselves in his horrid Service, by entering their Names in a Book tendered unto them; and that they have had their Meetings and Sacraments, and associated themselves to destroy the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, in these parts of the World; having each of them their Specters, or Devils Commissioned by them, and representing of them, to be the Engines of their Malice, by these wicked Specters seizing poor People about the Country with various and bloody Torments. And of those evidently preternatural Torments some too have died. And that they have bewitched some even so far, as to make them self-destroyers, and others in many Towns here and there languished under their evil hands. The People thus afflicted miserably scratched and bitten; and that the same Invisible Furies did stick Pins in them, and scald them, distort and disjoint them, with a Thousand other Plagues; and sometimes drag them out of their Chambers, and carry them over Trees and Hills Miles together, many of them being tempted to sign the Devils Laws.
These furies whereof several have killed more People perhaps than would serve to make a Village.
If this be the true state of the Afflictions of this Country, it is very deplorable, and beyond all other outward Calamities miserable. But if on the other side, the Matter be as others do understand it, That the Devil has been too hard for us by his Temptations, signs, and lying Wonders, with the help of pernicious notions, formerly imbibed and professed; together with the Accusations of a parcel of possessed, distracted, or lying Wenches, accusing their Innocent Neighbors, pretending they see their Specters (i.e.) Devils in their likeness Afflicting of them, and that God in righteous Judgment (after Men had ascribed his Power to Witches, of Commissioning Devils to do these things) may have given them over to strong delusions to believe lies, etc. And to let loose the Devils of Envy, Hatred, Pride, Cruelty, and Malice against each other; yet still disguised under the Mask of Zeal for God, and left them to the branding one another with the odious Name of Witch; and upon the Accusation of those above mentioned, Brother to Accuse and Prosecute Brother, Children their Parents, Pastors and Teachers their immediate Flock unto death; Shepherds becoming Wolves, Wise Men Infatuated; People hauled to Prisons, with a bloody noise pursuing to, and insulting over, the (true) Sufferers at Execution, while some are fleeing from that called Justice, Justice itself fleeing before such Accusations, when once it did but begin to refrain further proceedings, and to question such Practices, some making their Escape out of Prisons, rather than by an obstinate Defense of their Innocence, to run so apparent hazard of their Lives; Estates seized, Families of Children and others left to the Mercy of the Wilderness (not to mention here the Numbers prescribed, dead in Prisons, or Executed, etc.)
All which Tragedies, though begun in one Town, or rather by one Parish, has Plague-like spread more than through that Country. And by its Echo giving a brand of Infamy to this whole Country, throughout the World, If this were the Miserable case of this Country in the time thereof, and that the Devil had so far prevailed upon us in our Sentiments and Actions, as to draw us from so much as looking into the Scriptures for our guidance in these pretended Intricacies, leading us to a trusting in blind guides, such as the corrupt practices of some other Countries, or the bloody Experiments of Bodin, and such other Authors — Then though our Case be most miserable, yet it must be said of New-England, Thou has destroyed thy self, and brought this greatest of Miseries upon thee.
And now whether the Witches (such as have made a compact by Explicit Covenant with the Devil, having thereby obtained a power to Commission him) have been the cause of our miseries, Or whether a Zeal governed by blindness and passion, and led by president, has not herein precipitated us into far greater wickedness (if not Witchcrafts) than any have been yet proved against those that suffered, To be able to distinguish aright in this matter, to which of these two to refer our Miseries is the present Work. As to the former, I know of no sober Man, much less Reverend Christian, that being asked dares affirm and abide by it, that Witches have that power; viz. to Commission Devils to kill and destroy. And as to the latter, it were well if there were not too much of truth in it, which remains to be demonstrated.
But here it will be said, what need of Raking in the Coals that lay buried in oblivion. We cannot recall those to Life again that have suffered, supposing it were unjustly; it tends but to the exposing the Actors, as if they had proceeded irregularly.
Truly I take this to be just as the Devil would have it, so much to fear disobliging men, as not to endeavor to detect his Wiles, that so he may the sooner, and with the greater Advantages set the same on foot again (either here or elsewhere) so dragging us through the Pond twice by the same Cat. And if Reports do not (herein) deceive us, much the same has been acting this present year in Scotland. And what Kingdom or Country is it, that has not had their bloody fits and turns at it. And if this is such a catching disease, and so universal, I presume I need make no Apology for my Endeavors to prevent, as far as in my power, any more such bloody Victims or Sacrifices; though indeed I had rather any other would have undertaken so offensive, though necessary a task; yet all things weighed, I had rather thus Expose myself to Censure, than that it should be wholly omitted. Were the notions in question innocent and harmless, respecting the Glory of God, and wellbeing of Men, I should not have engaged in them, but finding them in my esteem so intolerably destructive of both, This together with my being by Warrant called before the Justices, in my own Just Vindication, I took it to be a call from God, to my Power, to Vindicate his Truths, against the Pagan and Popish Assertions, which are so prevalent; for though Christians in general do own the Scriptures to be their only Rule of Faith and Doctrine, yet these Notions will tell us, that the Scriptures have not sufficiently, nor at all described the crime of Witchcraft, whereby the culpable might be detected, though it be positive in the Command to punish it by Death; hence the World has been from time to time perplexed in the prosecution of the several Diabolical mediums of Heathenish and Popish Invention, to detect an Imaginary Crime (not but that there are Witches, such as the Law of God describes) which has produced a deluge of Blood; hereby rendering the Commands of God not only void but dangerous.
So also they own Gods Providence and Government of the World, and that Tempests and Storms, Afflictions and Diseases, are of his sending; yet these Notions tell us, that the Devil has the power of all these, and can perform them when commissioned by a Witch thereto, and that he has a power at the Witches call to act and do, without and against the course of Nature, and all natural causes, in afflicting and killing of Innocents; and this is that so many have died for.
Also it is generally believed, that if any Man has strength, it is from God the Almighty Being: But these notions will tell us, that the Devil can make one Man as strong as many, which was one of the best proofs, as it was counted, against Mr. Burroughs the Minister; though his contemporaries in the Schools during his Minority could have testified, that his strength was then as much superior to theirs as ever (setting aside incredible Romances) it was discovered to be since. Thus rendering the power of God, and his providence of none Effect.
These are some of the destructive notions of this Age, and however the asserters of them seem sometimes to value themselves much upon sheltering their Neighbors from Spectral Accusations, They may deserve as much thanks as that Tyrant, that having industriously obtained an unintelligible charge against his Subjects, in matters wherein it was impossible they should be Guilty, having thereby their lives in his power, yet suffers them of his mere Grace to live, and will be called gracious Lord.
It were too Icarian a task for one unfurnished with necessary learning, and Library, to give any Just account, from whence so great delusions have sprung, and so long continued. Yet as an Essay from those scraps of reading that I have had opportunity of, it will be no great venture to say, that Signs and Lying Wonders have been one principal cause.
It is written of Justin Martyr, who lived in the second Century, that he was before his conversion a great Philosopher; first in the way of the Stoics, and after of the Peripatetics, after that of the Pythagorean, and after that of the Platonists sects; and after all proved of Eminent use in the Church of Christ; Yet a certain Author speaking of one Apollonius Tyaneus has these words, “That the most Orthodox themselves began to deem him vested with power sufficient for a Deity; which occasioned that so strange a doubt from Justin Martyr, as cited by the learned Gregory, Fol. ., etc. If God be the Creator and Lord of the World, how comes it to pass that Apollonius his Telisms, have so much over-ruled the course of things! for we see that they also have stilled the Waves of the Sea, and the raging of the Winds, and prevailed against the Noisome Flies, and Incursions of wild Beasts,” etc. If so Eminent and Early a Christian were by these false shews in such doubt, it is the less wonder in our depraved times, to meet with what is Equivalent thereto: Besides this a certain Author informs me, that “Julian (afterwards called the Apostate) being instructed in the Philosophy and Disciplines of the Heathen, by Libarius his Tutor, by this means he came to love Philosophy better than the Gospel, and so by degrees turned from Christianity to Heathenism.”
This same Julian did, when Apostate, forbid that Christians should be instructed in the Discipline of the Gentiles, which (it seems) Socrates a Writer of the Ecclesiastical History, does acknowledge to be by the singular Providence of God; Christians having then begun to degenerate from the Gospel, and to betake themselves to Heathenish learning. And in the Mercury for the Month of February, , there is this Account, “That the Christian Doctors conversing much with the writings of the Heathen, for the gaining of Eloquence, A Counsel was held at Carthage, which forbad the reading of the Books of the Gentiles.”
From all which it may be easily perceived, that in the Primitive times of Christianity, when not only many Heathen of the Vulgar, but also many learned Men and Philosophers had embraced the Christian Faith, they still retained a love to their Heathen-learning, which as one observes being transplanted into a Christian soil, soon proved productive of pernicious weeds, which over-ran the face of the Church, hence it was so deformed as the Reformation found it.
Among other pernicious Weeds arising from this Root, the Doctrine of the power of Devils and Witchcraft as it is now, and long has been understood, is not the least; the Fables of Homer, Virgil, Horace and Ovid, etc., being for the Elegancy of their Language retained then (and so are to this day) in the schools, have not only introduced, but established such Doctrines to the poisoning the Christian World. A certain Author Expresses it thus, “that as the Christian Schools at first brought Men from Heathenism to the Gospel, so these Schools carry Men from the Gospel to Heathenism, as to their great perfection,” and Mr. I. M. in his Remarkable Providences, gives an account that (as he calls it) an Old Counsel did Anathematize all those that believed such power of the Devils, accounting it a Damnable Doctrine. But as other Evils did afterwards increase in the Church (partly by such Education) so this insensibly grew up with them, though not to that degree, as that any Counsel I have ever heard or Read of has to this day taken off those Anathema's; yet after this the Church so far declined, that Witchcraft became a Principal Ecclesiastical Engine (as also that of Heresy was) to root up all that stood in their way; and besides the ways of Trial that we have still in practice, they invented some, which were peculiar to themselves; which whenever they were minded to improve against any Orthodox believer, they could easily make Effectual: That Deluge of Blood which that Scarlet Whore has to answer for, shed under this notion, how amazing is it.
The first in England that I have read of, of any note since the Reformation, that asserts this Doctrine, is the famous Mr. Perkins, he (as also Mr. Gaul, and Mr. Bernard, etc. seems all of them to have undertaken one Task, they) taking notice of the Multiplicity of irregular ways to try them by, invented by Heathen and Papists, made it their business and main work herein to oppose such as they saw to be pernicious. And if they did not look more narrowly into it, but followed the first, viz. Mr. Perkins whose Education (as theirs also) had forestalled him into such belief, whom they readily followed, it cannot be wondered at: And that they were men liable to Err, and so not to be trusted to as perfect guides, will manifestly appear to him that shall see their several receipts laid down to detect them by their Presumptive and Positive ones. And consider how few of either have any foundation in Scripture or Reason; and how vastly they differ from each other in both, each having his Art by himself, which Forty or an Hundred more may as well imitate, and give theirs, ad infinitum, being without all manner of proof.
But though this be their main design to take off People from those Evil and bloody ways of trial which they speak so much against, Yet this does not hinder to this day, but the same evil ways or as bad are still used to detect them by, and that even among Protestants; and is so far Justified, that a Reverend Person has said lately here, how else shall we detect Witches? And another being urged to prove by Scripture such a sort of Witch as has power to send Devils to kill men, replied, that he did as firmly believe it as any article of his Faith. And that he (the Inquirer) did not go to the Scripture, to learn the Mysteries of his trade or Art. What can be said more to Establish there Heathenish notions and to vilify the Scriptures, our only Rule; and that after we have seen such dire effects thereof, as has threatened the utter Extirpation of this whole Country.
And as to most of the Actors in these Tragedies, though they are so far from defending their Actions that they will Readily own, that undue steps have been taken, etc., Yet it seems they choose that the same should be Acted over again enforced by their Example, rather than that it should Remain as a Warning to Posterity, wherein they have missed it. So far are they from giving Glory to God, and taking the due shame to themselves.
And now to sum up all in a few words, we have seen a Bigoted Zeal, stirring up a Blind and most Bloody rage, not against Enemies, or Irreligious Profligate Persons, But (in Judgment of Charity, and to view) against as Virtuous and Religious as any they have left behind them in this Country, which have suffered as Evil doers with the utmost extent of rigor (not that so high a Character is due to all that Suffered) and this by the Testimony of Vile Varlets as not only were known before, but have been further apparent since by their Manifest Lives, Whoredoms, Incest, etc. The Accusations of these, from their Spectral Sight, being the chief Evidence against those that Suffered. In which Accusations they were upheld by both Magistrates and Ministers, so long as they Apprehended themselves in no Danger.
And then though they could defend neither the Doctrine, nor the Practice, yet none of them have in such a public manner as the case Requires, testified against either; though at the same time they could not but be sensible what a Stain and lasting Infamy they have brought upon the whole Country, to the Endangering the future welfare not only of this but of other places, induced by their Example; if not, to an entailing the Guilt of all the Righteous Blood that has been by the same means Shed, by Heathen or Papists, etc., upon themselves, whose deeds they have so far justified, occasioning the great Dishonor and Blasphemy of the Name of God, Scandalizing the Heathen, hardening of Enemies; and as a Natural effect thereof, to the great Increase of Atheism.
I shall conclude only with acquainting the Reader, that of these Collections, the first, containing more Wonders of the Invisible World, I received of a Gentleman, who had it of the Author and communicated it to me, with his express consent, of which this is a true Copy. As to the Letters, they are for Substance the same I sent, though with some small Variation or Addition. Touching the two Letters from a Gentleman, at his request I have forborn naming him. It is great Pity the matters of Fact, and indeed the whole, had not been done by some abler hand better Accomplished and Advantaged with both natural and acquired Judgments, but others not Appearing, I have enforced myself to do what is done, my other occasions Will not admit any further Scrutiny therein. R. C. Boston in New-England, Aug. , . Letter Sir, I now lay before you a very Entertaining Story, a Story which relates yet more Wonders of the Invisible World, a Story which tells the Remarkable Afflictions and Deliverance of one that had been Prodigiously handled by the Evil Angels. I was myself a daily Eye Witness to a large part of these Occurrences, and there may be produced Scores of Substantial Witnesses to the most of them; yea, I know not of any one Passage of the Story, but what may be sufficiently Attested. I do not Write it with a design of throwing it presently into the Press, but only to preserve the Memory of such Memorable things, the forgetting whereof would neither be pleasing to God, nor useful to Men; as also to give you, with some others of peculiar and obliging Friends, a sight of some Curiosities, and I hope this Apology will serve to Excuse me, if I mention, as perhaps I may, when I come to a tenth Paragraph in my Writing, some things which I would have omitted in a farther Publication. Cotton Mather
Part 1, ANOTHER BRAND PLUCKED OUT OF THE BURNING, OR, MORE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
Section 1. The Afflictions of Margaret Rule
Within these few years there died in the Southern Parts a Christian Indian, who notwithstanding some of his Indian Weakness, had something of a better Character of virtue and Goodness, than many of our People can allow to most of their Countrymen, that profess the Christian Religion. He had been a Zealous Preacher of the Gospel to his Neighborhood, and a sort of Overseer, or Officer, to whose Conduct was owing very much of what good order was maintained among those Proselyted Savages: This Man returning home from the Funeral of his Son, was Complemented by an English-Man, expressing Sorrow for his Loss; now, though' the Indians use, upon the Death of Relations, to be the most Passionate and Outrageous Creatures in the World, yet this Converted Indian Handsomely and Cheerfully replied, “Truly I am sorry, and I am not sorry; I am sorry that I have Buried a dear Son; but I am not sorry that the will of God is done. I know that without the will of God my Son could not have Died, and I know that the will of God is always just and good, and so I am satisfied.” Immediately upon this, even within a few hours, he fell himself Sick of a Disease that quickly killed him; in the time of which Disease he called his Folks about him, earnestly persuading them to be Sincere in their Praying unto God, and beware of the Drunkenness, the Idleness, the Lying, whereby so many of that Nation disgraced their Profession of Christianity; adding, that he was ashamed when he thought how little Service he had hitherto done for God; and that if God would prolong his Life he would Labor to do better Service, but that he was fully sure he was now going to the Lord Jesus Christ, who had bought him with his own Precious Blood; and for his part he longed to Die that he might be with his Glorious Lord; and in the midst of such passages he gave up the Ghost, but in such repute, that the English People of good Fashion did not think much of Travelling a great way to his Interment. Lest my Reader do now wonder why I have related this piece of a Story, I will now hasten to abate that Wonder, by telling that whereto this was intended, but for an Introduction: Know then that this remarkable Indian being a little before he Died at work in the Wood making of Tar, there appeared unto him a Black-Man, of a Terrible aspect, and more than humane Dimensions, threatening bitterly to kill him if he would not promise to leave off Preaching as he did to his Countrymen, and promise particularly, that if he Preached any more, he would say nothing of Jesus Christ unto them. The Indian amazed, yet had the courage to answer, I will in spite of you go on to Preach Christ more than ever I did, and the God whom I serve will keep me that you shall never hurt me. Hereupon the Apparition abating somewhat of his fierceness, offered to the Indian a Book of a considerable thickness and a Pen and Ink, and said, that if he would now set his hand unto that Book, he would require nothing further of him; but the Man refused the motion with indignation, and fell down upon his knees into a Fervent and Pious Prayer unto God for help against the Tempter, whereupon the Dæmon Vanished.
This is a Story which I would never have tendered unto my Reader, if I had not Received it from an honest and useful English Man, who is at this time a Preacher of the Gospel to the Indians, nor would the probable Truth of it have encouraged me to have tendered it, if this also had not been a fit introduction unto yet a further Narrative.
It was not much above a year or two, after this Accident (of which no manner of Noise has been made) that there was a Prodigious descent of Devils upon divers places near the Center of this Province, wherein some scores of Miserable People were Troubled by horrible appearances of a Black-Man, accompanied with Specters, wearing these and those Humane Shapes, who offered them a Book to be by them signed, in token of their being Listed for the Service of the Devil, and upon their denying to do it, they were Dragooned with a thousand Preternatural Torments, which gave no little terror to the beholders of these unhappy Energuments. There was one in the North part of Boston seized by the Evil-Angels many Months after the General Storm of the late Enchantments was over, and when the Country had long lain pretty quiet, both as to Molestations and Accusations from the Invisible World, her Name was Margaret Rule, a Young Woman. She was born of sober and honest Parents, yet Living, but what her own Character was before her Visitation, I can speak with the less confidence of exactness, because I observe that wherever the Devils have been let loose to worry any Poor Creature amongst us, a great part of the Neighborhood presently set themselves to inquire and relate all the little Vanities of their Childhood, with such unequal exaggerations, as to make them appear greater Sinners than any whom the Pilate of Hell has not yet Preyed upon: But it is affirmed, that for about half a year before her Visitation, she was observably improved in the hopeful symptoms of a new Creature; She was become seriously concerned for the everlasting Salvation of her Soul, and careful to avoid the snares of Evil Company. This Young Woman had never seen the affliction of Mercy Short, whereof a Narrative has been already given, and yet about half a year after the glorious and signal deliverance of that poor Damsel, this Margaret fell into an affliction, marvelous, resembling hers in almost all the circumstances of it, indeed the Afflictions were so much alike, that the relation I have given of the one, would almost serve as the full History of the other, this was to that, little more than the second part to the same Tune, indeed Margaret’s case was in several points less remarkable than Mercies, and in some other things the Entertainment did a little vary.
‘Twas upon the Lords Day the month of September, in the Year , that Margaret Rule, after some hours of previous disturbance in the Public Assembly, fell into odd Fits, which caused her Friends to carry her home, where her Fits in a few hours grew into a Figure that satisfied the Spectators of their being preternatural; some of the Neighbors were forward enough to suspect the rise of this Mischief in an House hard-by, where lived a Miserable Woman, who had been formerly Imprisoned on the suspicion of Witchcraft, and who had frequently Cured very painful Hurts by muttering over them certain Charms, which I shall not endanger the Poisoning of my Reader by repeating. This Woman had the Evening before Margaret fell into her Calamities, very bitterly treated her, and threatened her; but the hazard of hurting a poor Woman that might be innocent, notwithstanding Surmises that might have been more strongly grounded than those, caused the pious People in the Vicinity to try rather whether incessant Supplication to God alone, might not procure a quicker and safer Ease to the Afflicted, than hasty Prosecution of any supposed Criminal, and accordingly that unexceptionable course was all that was ever followed; yea, which I looked on as a token for good, the Afflicted Family was as averse as any of us all to entertain thoughts of any other course.
The Young Woman was assaulted by Eight cruel Specters, whereof she imagined that she knew three or four, but the rest came still with their Faces covered, so that she could never have a distinguishing view of the countenance of those whom she thought she knew; she was very careful of my reiterated charges to forbear blazing the Names, lest any good Person should come to suffer any blast of Reputation thro' the cunning Malice of the great Accuser; nevertheless having since privately named them to myself, I will venture to say this of them, that they are a sort of Wretches who for these many years have gone under as Violent Presumptions of Witchcraft, as perhaps any creatures yet living upon Earth; although' I am far from thinking that the Visions of this Young Woman were Evidence enough to prove them so. These cursed Specters now brought unto her a Book about a Cubit long, a Book Red and thick, but not very broad, and they demanded of her that she would set her Hand to that Book, or touch it at least with her Hand, as a Sign of her becoming a Servant of the Devil; upon her peremptory refusal to do what they asked, they did not after renew the proffers of the Book unto her, but instead thereof, they fell to Tormenting of her in a manner too Hellish to be sufficiently described, in those Torments confining her to her Bed, for just Six weeks together.
Sometimes, but not always, together with the Specters there looked in upon the Young Woman (according to her account) a short and a Black Man, whom they called their Master, a Wight exactly of the same Dimensions and Complexion and voice, with the Devil that has exhibited himself unto other infested People, not only in other parts of this Country but also in other Countries, even of the European World, as the relation of the Enchantments there inform us, they all professed themselves Vassals of this Devil, and in obedience unto him they address themselves unto various ways of Torturing her; accordingly she was cruelly pinched with Invisible hands very often in a Day, and the black and blue marks of the pinches became immediately visible unto the standers by. Besides this, when her attendants had left her without so much as one pin about her, that so they might prevent some feared inconveniencies; yet she would ever now and then be miserably hurt with Pins which were found stuck into her Neck, Back and Arms, however, the Wounds made by the Pins would in a few minutes ordinarily be cured; she would also be strangely distorted in her Joints, and thrown into such exorbitant Convulsions as were astonishing unto the Spectators in General; They that could behold the doleful condition of the poor Family without sensible compassions, might have Entrails indeed, but I am sure they could have no true Bowels in them.
It were a most Unchristian and uncivil, yea a most unreasonable thing to imagine that the Fits of the Young Woman were but mere Impostures: And I believe scarce any, but People of a particular Dirtiness, will harbor such an Uncharitable Censure; however, because I know not how far the Devil may drive the Imagination of poor Creatures when he has possession of them, that at another time when they are themselves would scorn to Dissemble anything, I shall now confine my Narrative unto passages, wherein there could be no room left for any Dissimulation. Of these the first that I'll mention shall be this; From the time that Margaret Rule first found herself to be formally besieged by the Specters until the Ninth Day following, namely from the Tenth of September to the Eighteenth, she kept an entire Fast, and yet she was unto all appearance as Fresh, as Lively, as Hearty, at the Nine Days End, as before they began; in all this time, though' she had a very eager Hunger upon her Stomach, yet if any refreshment were brought unto her, her Teeth would be set, and she would be thrown into many Miseries, Indeed once or twice or so in all this time, her Tormentors permitted her to swallow a Mouthful of somewhat that might increase her Miseries, whereof a Spoonful of Rum was the most considerable; but otherwise, as I said, her Fast unto the Ninth day was very extreme and rigid: However, afterwards there scarce passed a day wherein she had not liberty to take something or other for her Sustentation, And I must add this further, that this business of her Fast was carried so, that it was impossible to be dissembled without a Combination of Multitudes of People unacquainted with one another to support the Juggle, but he that can imagine such a thing of a Neighborhood so filled with Virtuous People is a base man, I cannot call him any other.
But if the Sufferings of this Young Woman were not Imposture, yet might they not be pure Distemper? I will not here inquire of our Sadducees, what sort of Distemper ‘tis shall stick the Body full of Pins, without any Hand that could be seen to stick them; or whether all the Pin-makers in the World would be willing to be Evaporated into certain ill habits of Body producing a Distemper, but of the Distemper my Reader shall be Judge when I have told him something further of those unusual Sufferings. I do believe that the Evil Angels do often take Advantage from Natural Distempers in the Children of Men to annoy them with such further Mischiefs as we call preternatural. The Malignant Vapors and Humors of our Diseased Bodies may be used by Devils thereinto insinuating as engine of the Execution of their Malice upon those Bodies; and perhaps for this reason one Sex may suffer more Troubles of some kinds from the Invisible World than the other, as well as for that reason for which the Old Serpent made where he did his first Address. But I Pray what will you say to this, Margaret Rule would sometimes have her Jaws forcibly pulled open, whereupon something Invisible would be poured down her Throat; we all saw her swallow, and yet we saw her try all she could by Spitting, Coughing and Shrieking, that she might not swallow, but one time the standers by plainly saw something of that odd Liquor itself on the outside of her Neck; She cried out of it as of Scalding Brimstone poured into her, and the whole House would Immediately scent so hot of Brimstone that we were scarce able to endure it, whereof there are scores of Witnesses; but the Young Woman herself would be so monstrously Inflamed that it would have broken a Heart of Stone to have seen her Agonies. This was a thing that several times happened and several times when her Mouth was thus pulled open, the standers by clapping their Hands close thereupon the distresses that otherwise followed would be diverted. Moreover there was a whitish powder to us Invisible sometimes cast upon the Eyes of this Young Woman, whereby her Eyes would be extremely incommoded, but one time some of this Powder was fallen actually Visible upon her Cheek, from whence the People in the Room wiped it with their Handkerchiefs, and sometimes the Young Woman would also be so bitterly scorched with the unseen Sulfur thrown upon her, that very sensible Blisters would be raised upon her Skin, whereto her Friends found it necessary to apply the Oils proper for common Burning, but the most of these Hurts would be cured in two or three days at farthest: I think I may without Vanity pretend to have read not a few of the best Systems of Physic that have been yet seen in these American Regions, but I must confess that I have never yet learned the Name of the Natural Distemper, whereto these odd symptoms do belong: However I might suggest perhaps many a Natural Medicine, which would be of singular use against many of them.
But there fell out some other matters far beyond the reach of Natural Distemper: This Margaret Rule once in the middle of the Night Lamented sadly that the Specters threatened the Drowning of a Young Man in the Neighborhood, whom she named unto the Company: well it was afterwards found that at that very time this Young Man, having been pressed on Board a Man of War then in the Harbor, was out of some dissatisfaction attempting to swim ashore, and he had been Drowned in the attempt, if a Boat had not seasonably taken him up; it was by computation a minute or two after the Young Woman’s discourse of the Drowning, that the Young Man took the Water. At another time she told us that the Specters bragged and laughed in her hearing about an exploit they had lately done, by stealing from a Gentleman his Will soon after he had written it; and within a few hours after she had spoken this there came to me a Gentleman with a private complaint, that having written his Will it was unaccountably gone out of the way, how or where he could not Imagine; and besides all this, there were wonderful Noises every now and then made about the Room, which our People could Ascribe to no other Authors but the Specters, yea, the Watchers affirm that they heard those fiends clapping of their hands together with an Audibleness, wherein they could not be Imposed upon: And once her Tormentors pulled her up to the Ceiling of the Chamber, and held her there before a very Numerous Company of Spectators, who found it as much as they could all do to pull her down again. There was also another very surprising circumstance about her, agreeable to what we have not only Read in several Histories concerning the Imps that have been Employed in Witchcraft; but also known in some of our own afflicted: We once thought we perceived something stir upon her Pillow at a little distance from her, whereupon one present laying his hand there, he to his horror apprehended that he felt, though' none could see it, a living Creature, not altogether unlike a Rat, which nimbly escaped from him: and there were diverse other Persons who were thrown into a great consternation by feeling, as they Judged, at other times the same Invisible Animal.
As it has been with a Thousand other Enchanted People, so it was with Margaret Rule in this particular, that there were several words which her Tormentors would not let her hear, especially the words Pray or Prayer, and yet she could so hear the letters of those words distinctly mentioned as to know what they meant. The standers by were forced sometimes thus in discourse to spell a word to her, but because there were some so ridiculous as to count it a sort of Spell or a Charm for any thus to accommodate themselves to the capacity of the Sufferer, little of this kind was done. But that which was more singular in this matter, was that she could not use these words in those penetrating discourses, wherewith she would sometimes address the Specters that were about her. She would sometimes for a long while together apply herself to the Specters, whom she supposed the Witches, with such Exhortations to Repentance as would have melted an Heart of Adamant to have heard them; her strains of Expression and Argument were truly Extraordinary; A person perhaps of the best Education and Experience and of Attainments much beyond hers could not have exceeded them: nevertheless when she came to these Words God, Lord, Christ, Good, Repent, and some other such, her Mouth could not utter them, whereupon she would sometimes in an Angry Parenthesis complain of their Wickedness in stopping that Word, but she would then go on with some other Terms that would serve to tell what she meant. And I believe that if the most suspicious Person in the world had beheld all the Circumstances of this matter, he would have said it could not have been dissembled.
Not only in the Swedish, but also in the Salem Witchcraft the Enchanted People have talked much of a White Spirit from whence they received marvelous Assistances in their Miseries; what lately befell Mercy Short from the Communications of such a Spirit, hath been the just Wonder of us all, but by such a Spirit was Margaret Rule now also visited. She says that she could never see his Face; but that she had a frequent view of his bright, Shining and Glorious Garments; he stood by her Bed-side continually heartening and comforting of her and counselling her to maintain her Faith and hope in God, and never comply with the temptations of her Adversaries; she says he told her, that God had permitted her Afflictions to befall her for the everlasting and unspeakable good of her own Soul, and for the good of many others, and for his own Immortal Glory, and that she should therefore be of good Cheer and be assured of a speedy deliverance; And the wonderful resolution of mind wherewith she encountered her Afflictions were but agreeable to such expectations. Moreover a Minister having one Day with some Importunity Prayed for the deliverance of this Young Woman, and pleaded that she belonged to his Flock and charge; he had so far a right unto her as that he was to do the part of a Minister of our Lord for the bringing of her home unto God; only now the Devil hindered him in doing that which he had a right thus to do, and whereas He had a better Title unto her to bring her home to God than the Devil could have unto her to carry her away from the Lord, he therefore humbly applied himself unto God, who alone could right this matter, with a suit that she might be rescued out of Satan’s Hands; Immediately upon this, though' she heard nothing of this transaction she began to call that Minister her Father, and that was the Name whereby she every day before all sorts of People distinguished him: the occasion of it she says was this, the white Spirit presently upon this transaction did after this manner speak to her, “Margaret, you now are to take notice that” (such a Man) “is your Father, God has given you to him, do you from this time look upon him as your Father, obey him, regard him as your Father, follow his Counsels and you shall do well”; And though' there was one passage more, which I do as little know what to make of as any of the Rest, I am now going to relate it; more than three times have I seen it fulfilled in the Deliverance of Enchanted and Possessed Persons, whom the Providence of God has cast into my way, that their Deliverance could not be obtained before the third Fast kept for them, and the third day still obtained the Deliverance, although' I have thought of beseeching of the Lord thrice, when buffeted by Satan, yet I must earnestly Entreat all my Readers to beware of any superstitious conceits upon the Number Three; if our God will hear us upon once Praying and Fasting before him ‘tis well, and if he will not vouchsafe his Mercy upon our thrice doing so, yet we must not be so discouraged as to throw by our Devotion but if the Sovereign Grace of our God will in any particular Instances count our Patience enough tried when we have Solemnly waited upon him for any determinate Number of times, who shall say to him, what does thou, and if there shall be any Number of Instances, wherein this Grace of our God has exactly holden the same course, it may have a room in our humble Observations, I hope, without any Superstition; I say then that after Margaret Rule had been more than five weeks in her Miseries, this White Spirit said unto her, “Well this day such a Man” (whom he named) “has kept a third day for your deliverance, now be of good cheer you shall speedily be delivered.” I inquired whether what had been said of that Man were true, and I gained exact and certain Information that it was precisely so, but I doubt lest in relating this Passage that I have used more openness than a Friend should be treated with, and for that cause I have concealed several of the most memorable things that have occurred not only in this but in some former Histories, although indeed I am not so well satisfied about the true nature of this white Spirit, as to count that I can do a Friend much Honor by reporting what notice this white Spirit may have thus taken of him.
On the last day of the Week her Tormentors as she thought and said, approaching towards her, would be forced still to recoil and retire as unaccountably unable to meddle with her, and they would retire to the Fire side with their Poppets; but going to stick Pins into those Poppets, they could not (according to their visions) make the Pins to enter, she insulted over them with a very Proper derision, daring them now to do their worst, whilst she had the satisfaction to see their Black Master strike them and kick them, like an Overseer of so many Negro's, to make them to do their work, and renew the marks of his vengeance on them, when they failed of doing of it. At last being as it were tired with their ineffectual Attempts to mortify her they furiously said, “Well you shan’t be the last.” And after a pause they added, “Go, and the Devil go with you, we can do no more”; whereupon they flew out of the Room and she returning perfectly to herself most affectionately gave thanks to God for her deliverance; her Tormentors left her extreme weak and faint, and overwhelmed with Vapors, which would not only cause her sometimes to Swoon away, but also now and then for a little while discompose the reasonableness of her Thoughts; Nevertheless her former troubles returned not, but we are now waiting to see the good effects of those troubles upon the Souls of all concerned. And now I suppose that some of our Learned witlings of the Coffee-House, for fear lest these proofs of an Invisible-world should spoil some of their sport, will endeavor to turn them all into sport, for which Buffoonery their only pretense will be, they can’t understand how such things as these could be done, whereas indeed he that is but Philosopher enough to have read but one Little Treatise, Published in the Year by no other Man than the Chyrurgion of an Army, or but one Chap. of Helmont, which I will not quote at this time too particularly, may give a far more intelligible account of these Appearances than most of these Blades can give why and how their Tobacco makes them Spit; or which way the flame of their Candle becomes illuminating. As for that cavil, the world would be undone if the Devils could have such power as they seem to have in several of our stories, it may be Answered that as to many things the Lying Devils have only known them to be done, and then pretended unto the doing of those things, but the true and best Answer is, that by these things we only see what the Devils could have powers to do, if the great God should give them those powers, whereas now our Histories affords a Glorious Evidence for the being of a God, the World would indeed be undone, and horribly undone, if these Devils, who now and then get liberty to play some very mischievous pranks, were not under a daily restraint of some Almighty Superior from doing more of such Mischiefs. Wherefore instead of all Apish flouts and jeers at Histories, which have such undoubted confirmation, as that no Man that has breeding enough to regard the Common Laws of Humane Society, will offer to doubt of them, it becomes us rather to adore the Goodness of God, who does not permit such things every day to befall us all, as he sometimes did permit to befall some few of our miserable Neighbors.
And what, after all my unwearied Cares and Pains, to rescue the Miserable from the Lions and Bears of Hell, which had seized them, and after all my Studies to disappoint the Devils in their designs to confound my Neighborhood, must I be driven to the necessity of an Apology? Truly the hard representations wherewith some Ill Men have reviled my conduct, and the Countenance which other Men have given to these representations, oblige me to give Mankind some account of my Behavior; No Christian can, I say none but evil workers can criminate my visiting such of my poor flock as have at any time fallen under the terrible and sensible molestations of Evil-Angels; let their Afflictions have been what they will, I could not have answered it unto my Glorious Lord, if I had withheld my just Counsels and Comforts from them; and if I have also with some exactness observed the methods of the Invisible-World, when they have thus become observable, I have been but a Servant of Mankind in doing so; yea no less a Person than the Venerable Baxter has more than once or twice in the most Public manner invited Mankind to thank me for that Service. I have not been insensible of a greater danger attending me in this fulfilment of my Ministry, than if I had been to take Ten Thousand steps over a Rocky Mountain filled with Rattle-Snakes, but I have considered, he that is wise will observe things, and the Surprising Explication and confirmation of the biggest part of the Bible, which I have seen given in these things, has abundantly paid me for observing them. Now in my visiting of the Miserable, I was always of this opinion that we were Ignorant of what Powers the Devils might have to do their mischiefs in the shapes of some that had never been explicitly engaged in Diabolical Confederacies, and that therefore though' many Witchcrafts had been fairly detected on Enquiries provoked and begun by Spectral Exhibitions, yet we could not easily be too jealous of the Snares laid for us in the devices of Satan; the World knows how many Pages I have Composed and Published, and particular Gentlemen in the Government know how many Letters I have written to prevent the excessive Credit of Spectral Accusations, wherefore I have still charged the Afflicted that they should Cry out of no body for Afflicting of them. But that if this might be any Advantage they might privately tell their minds to some one Person of discretion enough to make no ill use of their communications, accordingly there has been this effect of it, that the Name of No one good Person in the World ever came under any blemish by means of any Afflicted Person that fell under my particular cognizance, yea no one Man, Woman or Child ever came into any trouble for the sake of any that were Afflicted after I had once begun to look after them; how often have I had this thrown into my dish, that many years ago I had an opportunity to have brought forth such People as have in the late storm of Witchcraft been complained of, but that I smothered all, and after that storm was raised at Salem, I did myself offer to provide Meat, Drink and Lodging for no less than Six of the Afflicted, that so an Experiment might be made, whether Prayer with Fasting upon the removal of the distressed might not put a Period to the trouble then rising, without giving the Civil Authority the trouble of prosecuting those things which nothing but a Conscientious regard unto the cries of Miserable Families, could have overcome the Reluctances of the Honorable Judges to meddle with; In short I do humbly but freely affirm it, there is not that Man living in this World who has been more desirous than the poor Man I to shelter my Neighbors from the Inconveniencies of Spectral Outcries, yea I am very jealous I have done so much that way as to Sin in what I have done, such have been the Cowardice and Fearfulness whereunto my regard unto the dissatisfactions of other People has precipitated me. I know a Man in the World, who has thought he has been able to Convict some such Witches as ought to Dye, but his respect unto the Public Peace has caused him rather to try whether He could not renew them by Repentance: And as I have been Studious to defeat the Devils of their expectations to set people together by the Ears, thus, I have also checked and quelled those forbidden curiosities, which would have given the devil an invitation to have tarried amongst us, when I have seen wonderful Snares laid for Curious People, by the secret and future things discovered from the Mouths of Damsels possessed with a Spirit of divination; Indeed I can recollect but one thing wherein there could be given so much as a Shadow of Reason for Exceptions, and that is my allowing of so many to come and see those that were Afflicted, now for that I have this to say, that I have almost a Thousand times entreated the Friends of the Miserable, that they would not permit the Intrusion of any Company, but such as by Prayers or other ways might be helpful to them; Nevertheless I have not absolutely forbid all Company from coming to your Haunted Chambers, partly because the Calamities of the Families were such as required the Assistance of many Friends; partly because I have been willing that there should be disinterested Witnesses of all sorts, to confute the Calumnies of such as would say all was but Imposture; and partly because I saw God had Sanctified the Spectacle of the Miseries on the Afflicted unto the Souls of many that were Spectators, and it is a very Glorious thing that I have now to mention — The Devils have with most horrendous operations broke in upon our Neighborhood, and God has at such a rate over-ruled all the Fury and Malice of those Devils, that all the Afflicted have not only been Delivered, but I hope also savingly brought home unto God, and the Reputation of no one good Person in the World has been damaged, but instead thereof the Souls of many, especially of the rising Generation, have been thereby awakened unto some acquaintance with Religion; our young People who belonged unto the Praying Meetings, of both Sexes, a part would ordinarily spend whole Nights by the whole Weeks together in Prayers and Psalms upon these occasions, in which Devotions the Devils could get nothing but like Fools a Scourge for their own Backs, and some scores of other young People, who were strangers to real Piety, were now struck with the lively demonstrations of Hell evidently set forth before their Eyes, when they saw Persons cruelly Frightened, wounded and Starved by Devils and Scalded with burning Brimstone, and yet so preserved in this tortured estate as that at the end of one Month’s wretchedness they were as able still to undergo another, so that of these also it might now be said, Behold they Pray in the whole — The Devil got just nothing; but God got praises, Christ got Subjects, the Holy Spirit got Temples, the Church got Addition, and the Souls of Men got everlasting Benefits; I am not so vain as to say that any Wisdom or Virtue of mine did contribute unto this good order of things: But I am so just, as to say I did not hinder this Good. When therefore there have been those that picked up little incoherent scraps and bits of my Discourses in this faithful discharge of my Ministry, and so traversed them in their abusive Pamphlets, as to persuade the Town that I was their common Enemy in those very points, wherein, if in any one thing whatsoever, I have sensibly approved myself as true a Servant unto them as possibly I could, though my Life and Soul had been at Stake for it, Yea to do like Satan himself, by sly, base, unpretending Insinuations, as if I wore not the Modesty and Gravity which became a Minister of the Gospel, I could not but think myself unkindly dealt withal, and the neglects of others to do me justice in this affair has caused me to conclude this Narrative with complaints in another hearing of such Monstrous Injuries.
PART 2, A Letter to Mr. Cotton Mather
Letter, Boston Jan. th,
Mr. Cotton Mather, Reverend Sir, I finding it needful on many accounts, I here present you with the Copy of that Paper, which has been so much Misrepresented, to the End that what shall be found defective or not fairly Represented, if any such shall appear, they may be set right, which Runs thus. September the th, . In the Evening when the Sun was withdrawn, giving place to Darkness to succeed, I with some others were drawn by curiosity to see Margaret Rule, and so much the rather because it was reported Mr. M — would be there that Night: Being come to her Father’s House into the Chamber wherein she was in Bed, found her of a healthy countenance of about seventeen Years Old, lying very still, and speaking very little, what she did say seemed as if she were Light-headed. Then Mr. M — , Father and Son, came up and others with them, in the whole were about or Persons; they being sat, the Father on a Stool, and the Son upon the Bedside by her, the Son began to question her, Margaret Rule, how do you do? then a pause without any answer. Question. What, do there a great many Witches sit upon you? Answer. Yes. Q. Do you not know that there is a hard Master? Then she was in a Fit; He laid his hand upon her Face and Nose, but, as he said, without perceiving Breath; then he brushed her on the Face with his Glove, and rubbed her Stomach (her breast not covered with the Bedclothes) and bid others do so too, and said it eased her, then she revived. Q. Don’t you know there is a hard Master? A. Yes. Reply; Don’t serve that hard Master, you know who. Q. Do you believe? Then again she was in a Fit, and he again rubbed her Breast, etc. (about this time Margaret Perd an attendant assisted him in rubbing of her. The Afflicted spoke angrily to her saying Don’t you meddle with me, and hastily put away her hand) he wrought his Fingers before her Eyes and asked her if she saw the Witches? A. No. Q. Do you believe? A. Yes. Q. Do you believe in you know who? A. Yes. Q. Would you have other people do so too, to believe in you know who? A. Yes. Q. Who is it that Afflicts you? A. I know not, there is a great many of them (about this time the Father questioned if she knew the Specters? An attendant said, if she did she would not tell; The Son proceeded) Q. You have seen the Black-man, haven’t you? A. No. Reply; I hope you never shall. Q. You have had a Book offered you, haven’t you? A. No. Q. The brushing of you gives you ease, Don’t it? A. Yes. She turned herself and a little Groaned. Q. Now the Witches Scratch you and Pinch you, and Bite you, Don’t they? A. Yes. Then he put his hand upon her Breast and Belly, viz. on the Clothes over her, and felt a Living thing, as he said, which moved the Father also to feel, and some others; Q. Don’t you feel the Live thing in the Bed? A. No. Reply, that is only Fancy. Q. the great company of People increase your Torment, Don’t they? A. Yes. The People about were desired to withdraw. One Woman said, I am sure I am no Witch, I will not go; so others, so none withdrew. Q. Shall we go to Prayers? Then she lay in a Fit as before. But this time to revive her, they waved a Hat and brushed her Head and Pillow therewith. Q. Shall we go to Pray, etc. Spelling the Word. A. Yes. The Father went to Prayer for perhaps half an Hour, chiefly against the Power of the Devil and Witchcraft, and that God would bring out the Afflicters: during Prayer-time, the Son stood by, and when they thought she was in a Fit, rubbed her and brushed her as before, and beckoned to others to do the like; after Prayer he proceeded; Q. You did not hear when we were at Prayer, did you? A. Yes. Q. You don’t hear always, you don’t hear sometimes past a Word or two, do you? A. No. Then turning him about said, this is just another Mercy Short: Margaret Perd replied, she was not like her in her Fits. Q. What does she eat or drink? A. Not eat at all; but drink Rum. Then he admonished the young People to take warning, etc. Saying it was a sad thing to be so Tormented by the Devil and his Instruments: A Young-man present in the habit of a Seaman, replied this is the Devil all over. Than the Ministers withdrew. Soon after they were gone the Afflicted desired the Women to be gone, saying, that the Company of the Men was not offensive to her, and having hold of the hand of a Young-man, said to have been her Sweet-heart formerly, who was withdrawing; She pulled him again into his Seat, saying he should not go to Night. September the th, . This Night I renewed my Visit, and found her rather of a fresher Countenance than before, about eight Persons present with her, she was in a Fit Screaming and making a Noise: Three or four Persons rubbed and brushed her with their hands, they said that the brushing did put them away, if they brushed or rubbed in the right place; therefore they brushed and rubbed in several places, and said that when they did it in the right place she could fetch her Breath, and by that they knew. She being come to herself was soon in a merry talking Fit. A Young-man came in and asked her how she did? She answered very bad, but at present a little better; he soon told her he must be gone and bid her good Night, at which she seemed troubled, saying, that she liked his Company, and said she would not have him go till she was well; adding, for I shall Die when you are gone. Then she complained they did not put her on a clean Cap, but let her lie so like a Beast, saying, she should lose her Fellows. She said she wondered any People should be so Wicked as to think she was not Afflicted, but to think she Dissembled. A Young-woman answered Yes, if they were to see you in this merry Fit, they would say you Dissembled indeed; She replied, Mr. M — said this was her laughing time, she must laugh now: She said Mr. M — had been there this Evening, and she enquired, how long he had been gone? She said, he stayed alone with her in the room half an Hour, and said that he told her there were some that came for Spies, and to report about Town that she was not Afflicted. That during the said time she had no Fit, that he asked her if she knew how many times he had Prayed for her to Day? And that she answered that she could not tell; and that he replied he had Prayed for her Nine times to Day; the Attendants said that she was sometimes in a Fit that none could open her Joints, and that there came an Old Iron-jawed Woman and tried, but could not do it; they likewise said, that her Head could not be moved from the Pillow; I tried to move her head, and found no more difficulty than another Bodies (and so did others) but was not willing to offend by lifting it up, one being reproved for endeavoring it, they saying angrily you will break her Neck; The Attendants said Mr. M — would not go to Prayer with her when People were in the Room, as they did one Night, that Night he felt the Live Creature. Margaret Perd and another said they smelt Brimstone; I and others said we did not smell any; then they said they did not know what it was: This Margaret said, she wished she had been here when Mr. M — was here, another Attendant said, if you had been here you might not have been permitted in, for her own Mother was not suffered to be present. Sir, after the sorest Affliction and greatest blemish to Religion that ever befell this Country, and after most Men began to Fear that some undue steps had been taken, and after His Excellency (with their Majesties Approbation as is said) had put a stop to Executions, and Men began to hope there would never be a return of the like; finding these Accounts to contain in them something extraordinary, I write them down the same Nights in order to attain the certainty of them, and soon found them so confirmed that I have (besides other Demonstrations) the whole, under the Hands of two Persons are ready to attest the Truth of it; but not satisfied herewith, I shewed them to some of your particular Friends, that so I might have the greater certainty: But was much surprised with the Message you sent me, that I should be Arrested for Slander, and at your calling me one of the worst of Liars, making it Pulpit news with the Name of Pernicious Libels, etc. This occasioned my first Letter.
Letter, September the th,
I having written from the Mouths of several Persons, who affirm they were present with Margaret Rule, the th Instant, her Answers and Behaviors, etc. And having shewed it to several of my Friends, as also yours, and understanding you are offended at it; This is to acquaint you, that if you and any one particular Friend, will please to meet me and some other Indifferent Person with me, at Mr. Wilkins, or at Ben. Harris's, you intimating the time, I shall be ready there to read it to you, as also a further Account of proceedings the edh Instant, which may be needful to prevent Groundless prejudices, and let deserved blame be cast where it ought; From,
Sir, yours in what I may,
The effects of which, Sir, (not to mention that long Letter only once read to me) was, you sent me word you would meet me at Mr. Wilkins, but before that Answer, at yours and your Fathers complaint, I was brought before their Majesties Justice, by Warrant, as for Scandalous Libels against yourself, and was bound over to Answer at Sessions; I do not remember you then objected against the Truth of what I had wrote, but asserted it was wronged by omissions, which if it were so was past any Power of mine to remedy, having given a faithful account of all that came to my knowledge; And Sir, that you might not be without some Cognizance of the reasons why I took so much pains in it, as also for my own Information, if it might have been, I wrote to you my second Letter to this effect.
Letter, November the th,
Reverend Sir, Having expected some Weeks, your meeting me at Mr. Wilkins according to what you intimated to Mr. J. M. — and the time drawing near for our meeting elsewhere, I thought it not amiss to give you a Summary of my thoughts in the great concern, which as you say has been agitated with so much heat. That there are Witches is not the doubt, the Scriptures else were in vain, which assign their Punishment to be by Death; But what this Witchcraft is, or wherein it does consist, seems to be the whole difficulty: And as it may be easily demonstrated, that all that bear that Name cannot be justly so accounted, so that some things and Actions not so esteemed by the most, yet upon due examination will be found to merit no better Character. In your late Book you lay down a brief Synopsis of what has been written on that Subject, by a Triumvirate of as Eminent Men as ever handled it (as you are pleased to call them) Viz. Mr. Perkins, Gaule, and Bernard consisting of about Tokens to know them by, many of them distinct from, if not thwarting each other: Among all of which I can find but one decisive, Viz. That of Mr. Gaule, Head IV. and runs thus; Among the most unhappy Circumstances to convict a Witch, one is a maligning and oppugning the Word, Work, or Worship of God, and by any extraordinary Sign seeking to seduce any from it, see Deu. . , . Mat. . . Acts. . , . Tim. . . Do but mark well the places, and for this very property of thus opposing and perverting, they are all there concluded and absolute Witches. This Head as here laid down and inserted by you, either is a Truth or not; if not, why is it here inserted from one of the Triumvirate, if it be a Truth, as the Scriptures quoted will abundantly testify, whence is it that it is so little regarded, though it be the only Head well proved by Scripture, or that the rest of the Triumvirate should so far forget their Work as not to mention it. It were to be unjust to the Memory of those otherwise Wise Men, to suppose them to have any Sinister design; But perhaps the force of a prevailing opinion, together with an Education thereto Suited, might overshadow their Judgments, as being wont to be but too prevalent in many other cases. But if the above be Truth, then the Scripture is full and plain, What is Witchcraft? And if so, what need of his next Head of Hanging of People without as full and clear Evidence as in other Cases? Or what need of the rest of the Receipts of the Triumvirate? what need of Praying that the Afflicted may be able to discover who tis that Afflicts them? or what need of Searching for Tet's for the Devil to Suck in his Old Age, or the Experiment of saying the Lord’s Prayer, etc. Which a multitude more practiced in some places Superstitiously inclined. Other Actions have been practiced for easing the Afflicted, less justifiable, if not strongly savoring of Witchcraft itself, viz. Fondly Imagining by the Hand, etc., to drive off Specters, or to knock off Invisible Chains, or by striking in the Air to Wound either the Afflicted or others, etc. I write not this to accuse any, but that all may beware believing, That the Devil's bounds are set, which he cannot pass, That the Devils are so full of Malice, That it can’t be added to by Mankind, That where he hath Power, he neither can nor will omit Executing it, That ‘tis only the Almighty that sets bounds to his rage, and that only can Commission him to hurt or destroy any. These last, Sir, are such Foundations of Truth, in my esteem, that I cannot but own it to be my duty to assert them, when called though' with the hazard of my All: And consequently to detect such as these, That a Witch can Commission Devils to Afflict Mortals, That he can at his or the Witches pleasure Assume any Shape, That Hanging or Chaining of Witches can lessen his Power of Afflicting, or restore those that were at a distance Tormented, with many others depending on these; all tending, in my esteem, highly to the Dishonor of God, and the Endangering the well-being of a People, and do further add, that as the Scriptures are full that there is Witchcraft, (ui sup.) so ‘tis as plain that there are Possessions, and that the Bodies of the Possessed have hence been not only Afflicted, but strangely agitated, if not their Tongues improved to foretell futurities, etc. and why not to accuse the Innocent, as bewitching them; having pretense to Divination to gain credence. This being reasonable to be expected, from him who is the Father of Lies, to the end he may thereby involve a Country in Blood, Malice, and Evil, surmising which he greedily seeks after, and so finally lead them from their fear and dependence upon God to fear him, and a supposed Witch thereby attaining his end upon Mankind; and not only so, but Natural Distemper, as has been frequently observed by the Judicious, have so operated as to deceive, more than the Vulgar, as is testified by many Famous Physicians, and others. And as for that proof of Multitudes of Confessions, this Country may be by this time thought Competent Judges, what credence we ought to give them, having had such numerous Instances, as also how obtained. And now Sir, if herein be anything in your esteem valuable, let me entreat you, not to account it the worse for coming from so mean a hand; which however you may have received Prejudices, etc., Am ready to serve you to my Power; but if you Judge otherwise hereof, you may take your own Methods for my better Information. Who am, Sir, yours to command, in what I may, R. C. In Answer to this last, Sir, you replied to the Gentleman that presented it, that you had nothing to Prosecute against me; and said as to your Sentiments in your Books, you did not bind any to believe them, and then again renewed your promise of meeting me, as before, though' not yet performed. Accordingly, though' I waited at Sessions, there was none to object ought against me, upon which I was dismissed. This gave me some reason to believe that you intended all should have been forgotten; But instead of that, I find the Coals are fresh blown up, I being supposed to be represented, in a late Manuscript, More Wonders of the, etc., as Traversing your Discourse in your Faithful discharge of your Duty, etc. And such as see not with the Authors Eyes, rendered Sadducees and Witlins, etc., and the Arguments that square not with the Sentiments therein contained, Buffoonery; rarely no doubt, agreeing with the Spirit of Christ, and his dealings with an unbelieving Thomas, yet whose infidelity was without compare less excusable, but the Author having resolved long since, to have no more than one single Grain of Patience, with them that deny, etc., the Wonder is the less. It must needs be that offences come, but wo to him by whom they come. To vindicate myself therefore from such false Imputations, of Satan-like insinuations, and misrepresenting your Actions, etc., and to vindicate yourself, Sir, as much as is in my Power from those Suggestions, said to be Insinuated, as if you wore not the Modesty and Gravity, that becomes a Minister of the Gospel; which it seems, some that never saw the said Narratives, report themo contain; I say, Sir, for these reasons, I here present you with the first Copy that ever was taken, etc. And purpose for a Week’s time to be ready, if you shall intimate your pleasure, to wait upon you, either at the place formerly appointed, or any other that is indifferent to the End; that if there shall appear any defects in that Narrative, they may be amended. Thus, Sir, I have given you a genuine account of my Sentiments and Actions in this Affair; and do request and pray, that if I err, I may be shewed it from Scripture, or sound Reason, and not by quotations out of Virgil, nor Spanish Rhetoric. For I find the Witlings mentioned, are so far from answering your profound questions, that they cannot so much as pretend to shew a distinction between Witchcraft in the Common notion of it, and Possession; Nor so much as to demonstrate that ever the Jews or primitive Christians did believe, that a Witch could send a Devil to Afflict her Neighbors; but to all these, Sir, (ye being the Salt of the Earth, etc.) I have reason to hope for a Satisfactory Answer to him, who is one that reverences your Person and Office; And am, Sir, yours to Command in what I may, R. C.
Letter from Cotton Mather to Robert Calef, Boston, January the th, /
Mr. R. C. Whereas you intimate your desires, that what's not fairly, (I take it for granted you mean truly also,) represented in a Paper you lately sent me, containing a pretended Narrative of a Visit by my Father and self to an Afflicted Young woman, whom we apprehended to be under a Diabolical Possession, might be rectified: I have this to say, as I have often already said, that I do scarcely find any one thing in the whole Paper, whether respecting my Father or self, either fairly or truly represented. Nor can I think that any that know my Parents Circumstances, but must think him deserving a better Character by far, than this Narrative can be thought to give him. When the main design we managed in Visiting the poor Afflicted Creature, was to prevent the Accusations of the Neighborhood, can it be fairly represented that our design was to draw out such Accusations, which is the representation of the Paper? We have Testimonies of the best Witnesses and in Number not a few, That when we asked Rule whether she thought she knew who Tormented her? the Question was but an Introduction to the Solemn charges which we then largely gave, that she should rather Die than tell the Names of any whom she might Imagine that she knew. Your Informers have reported the Question, and report nothing of what follows, as essential to the giving of that Question: And can this be termed a piece of fairness? Fair it cannot be, that when Ministers Faithfully and Carefully discharge their Duty to the Miserable in their Flock, little bits, scraps and shreds of their Discourses should be tacked together to make them contemptible, when there shall be no notice of all the Necessary, Seasonable, and Profitable things that occurred, in those Discourses; And without which, the occasion of the lesser Passages cannot be understood; And yet I am furnished with abundant Evidences, ready to be Sworn, that will positively prove this part of unfairness, by the above mentioned Narrative, to be done both to my Father and self. Again, it seems not fair or reasonable that I should be exposed, for which yourself (not to say some others) might have exposed me for, if I had not done, Viz. for discouraging so much Company from flocking about the Possessed Maid, and yet, as I persuade myself, you cannot but think it to be good advice, to keep much Company from such haunted Chambers; besides the unfairness doth more appear, in that I find nothing repeated of what I said about the advantage, which the Devil takes from too much Observation and Curiosity. In that several of the Questions in the Paper are so Worded, as to carry in them a presupposition of the things inquired after, to say the best of it is very unfair: But this is not all, the Narrative contains a number of Mistakes and Falsehoods; which were they willful and designed, might justly be termed gross Lies. The representations are far from true, when ‘tis affirmed my Father and self being come into the Room, I began the Discourse; I hope I understand breeding a little better than so: For proof of this, did occasion serve, sundry can depose the contrary. ‘tis no less untrue, that either my Father or self put the Question, how many Witches sit upon you? We always cautiously avoided that expression; It being contrary to our inward belief: All the standers by will (I believe) Swear they did not hear us use it (your Witnesses excepted) and I tremble to think how hardy those woeful Creatures must be, to call the Almighty by an Oath, to so false a thing. As false a representation ‘tis, that I rubbed Rule's Stomach, her Breast not being covered. The Oath of the nearest Spectators, giving a true account of that matter will prove this to be little less than a gross (if not a doubled) Lie; and to be somewhat plainer, it carries the Face of a Lie contrived on purpose (by them at least, to whom you are beholden for the Narrative) Wickedly and Basely to expose me. For you cannot but know how much this Representation hath contributed, to make People believe a Smutty thing of me; I am far from thinking, but that in your own Conscience you believe, that no indecent Action of that Nature could then be done by me before such observers, had I been so Wicked as to have been inclined to what is Base. It looks next to impossible that a reparation should be made me for the wrong done to, I hope, as to any Scandal, an unblemished, though' weak and small Servant of the Church of God. Nor is what follows a less untruth, that ‘Twas an Attendant and not myself who said, if Rule knows who Afflicts her, yet she won’t tell. I therefore spoke it that I might encourage her to continue in that concealment of all Names whatsoever; to this I am able to furnish myself with the Attestation of Sufficient Oaths. ‘tis as far from true, that my apprehension of the Imp, about Rule, was on her Belly, for the Oaths of the Spectators, and even of those that thought they felt it, can testify that ‘Twas upon the Pillow, at a distance from her Body. As untrue a Representation is that which follows, Viz. That it was said unto her, that her not Apprehending of that odd palpable, though' not visible, Mover was from her Fancy, for I endeavored to persuade her that it might be but Fancy in others, that there was any such thing at all. Witnesses every way sufficient can be produced for this also. ‘tis falsely represented that my Father felt on the Young-woman after the appearance mentioned, for his hand was never near her; Oath can sufficiently vindicate him. ‘tis very untrue that my Father Prayed for perhaps half an Hour, against the power of the Devil and Witchcraft, and that God would bring out the Afflicters. Witnesses of the best Credit, can depose, that his Prayer was not a quarter of an Hour, and that there was no more than about one clause towards the close of the Prayer, which was of this import; And this clause also was guarded with a singular wariness and modesty, Viz. If there were any evil Instruments in this matter God would please to discover them: And that there was more than common reason for that Petition I can satisfy any one that will please to Inquire of me. And strange it is, that a Gentleman that from to hath been an Exemplary Minister of the Gospel; and that besides a station in the Church of God, as considerable as any that his own Country can afford, hath for divers years come off with Honor, in his Application to three Crowned Heads, and the chiefest Nobility of three Kingdoms, Knows not yet how to make one short Prayer of a quarter of an hour, but in New-England he must be Libeled for it. There are divers other down-right mistakes, which you have permitted yourself, I would hope not knowingly, and with a Malicious design, to be receiver or Compiler of, which I shall now forbear to Animadvert upon. As for the Appendix of the Narrative I do find myself therein Injuriously treated, for the utmost of your proof for what you say of me, amounts to little more than, viz. Some People told you, that others told them, that such and such things did pass, but you may assure yourself, that I am not unfurnished with Witnesses, that can convict the same. Whereas you would give me to believe the bottom of these your Methods, to be some dissatisfaction about the commonly received Power of Devils and Witches; I do not only with all freedom offer you the use of any part of my Library, which you may see cause to peruse on that Subject, but also if you and any else, whom you please, will visit me at my Study, yea, or meet me at any other place, less inconvenient than those by you proposed; I will with all the fairness and calmness in the World dispute the point. I beg of God that he would bestow as many Blessings on you, as ever on myself, and out of a sincere wish, that you may be made yet more capable of these Blessings, I take this occasion to lay before you the faults (not few nor small ones neither) which the Paper contained, you lately sent me in order to be Examined by me. In case you want a true and full Narrative of my Visit, whereof such an indecent Travesty (to say the best) hath been made, I am not unwilling to communicate it, in mean time must take liberty to say, ‘tis scarcely consistent with Common Civility, much less Christian Charity, to offer the Narrative, now with you, for a true one, till you have a truer, or for a full one, till you have a fuller. Your Sincere (though Injured) Friend and Servant, Cotton Mather.
The Copy of a Paper Received with the above Letter
I do Testify that I have seen Margaret Rule in her Afflictions from the Invisible World, lifted up from her Bed, wholly by an Invisible force, a great way towards the top of the Room where she lay; in her being so lifted, she had no Assistance from any use of her own Arms or Hands, or any other part of her Body, not so much as her Heels touching her Bed, or resting on any support whatsoever. And I have seen her thus lifted, when not only a strong Person hath thrown his whole weight a cross her to pull her down; but several other Persons have endeavored, with all their might, to hinder her from being so raised up, which I suppose that several others will testify as well as myself, when called unto it. Witness my Hand, Samuel Aves. We can also Testify to the substance of what is above Written, and have several times seen Margaret Rule so lifted up from her Bed, as that she had no use of her own Limbs to help her up, but it was the declared apprehension of us, as well as others that saw it, impossible for any hands, but some of the Invisible World to lift her. Copia. Robert Earle. John Wilkins. Dan. Williams. We whose Names are underwritted do testify, That one Evening when we were in the Chamber where Margaret Rule then lay, in her late Affliction, we observed her to be, by an Invisible Force, lifted up from the Bed whereon she lay, so as to touch the Garret Floor, while yet neither her Feet, nor any other part of her Body rested either on the Bed, or any other support, but were also by the same force, lifted up from all that was under her, and all this for a considerable while, we judged it several Minutes; and it was as much as several of us could do, with all our strength to pull her down. All which happened when there was not only we two in the Chamber, but we suppose ten or a dozen more, whose Names we have forgotten, Copia. Thomas Thornton. William Hudson Testifies to the substance of Thornton’s Testimony, to which he also hath set his Hand.
Letter from Robert Calef to Cotton Mather, Boston, Jan. ,
Mr. Cotton Mather, Reverend Sir, Yours of the th Instant, I received yesterday; and soon found I had promised myself too much by it, Viz, Either concurrence with, or a denial of those Fundamentals mentioned in mine, of Novem. the th, finding this waved by an Invitation to your Library, etc. I thank God I have the Bible, and do Judge that sufficient to demonstrate that cited Head of Mr. Gaule to be a Truth, as also those other Heads mentioned, as the Foundations of Religion. And in my apprehension, if it be asked any Christian, whether God governs the World, and whether it be he only can Commission Devils, and such other Fundamentals, He ought to be as ready as in the Question, who made him? (a little Writing certainly might be of more use, to clear up the controverted points, than either looking over many Books in a well-furnished Library, or than a dispute, if I were qualified for it; the Inconveniencies of Passion being this way best avoided) And am not without hopes that you will yet oblige me so far, as to consider that Letter, and if I Err, to let me see it by Scripture, etc. Yours, almost the whole of it, is concerning the Narrative I sent to you, and you seem to intimate as if I were giving Characters, Reflections, and Libels etc. concerning yourself and Relations; all which were as far from my thoughts, as ever they were in writing after either yourself, or any other Minister. In the front you declare your apprehension to be, that the Afflicted was under a Diabolical Possession, and if so, I see not how it should be occasioned by any Witchcraft (unless we ascribe that Power to a Witch, which is only the Prerogative of the Almighty, of Sending or Commissioning the Devils to Afflict her.) But to your particular Objections against the Narrative; and to the first my intelligence not giving me any further, I could not insert that I knew not. And it seems improbable that a Question should be put, whether she knew (or rather who they were) and at the same time to charge her, and that upon her Life, not to tell, and if you had done so, I see but little good you could promise yourself or others by it, she being Possessed, as also having it inculcated so much to her of Witchcraft. And as to the next Objection about company flocking, etc., I do profess my Ignorance, not knowing what you mean by it. And Sir, that most of the Questions did carry with them a presupposing the things inquired after, is evident, if there were such as those relating to the Black-man and a Book, and about her hearing the Prayer, etc. (related in the said Narrative, which I find no Objection against.) As to that which is said of mentioning yourself first discoursing and your hopes that your breeding was better (I doubt it not) nor do I doubt your Father might first apply himself to others; but my intelligence is, that you first spoke to the Afflicted or Possessed, for which you had the advantage of a nearer approach. The next two Objections are founded upon mistakes: I find not in the Narrative any such Question, as how many Witches sit upon you? and that her Breast was not covered, in which those material words “with the Bed-Clothes” are wholly omitted; I am not willing to retort here your own Language upon you; but can tell you, that your own discourse of it publicly, at Sir W. P.'s Table, has much more contributed to, etc. As to the Reply, if she could she would not tell, whether either or both spoke it it matters not much. Neither does the Narrative say you felt the live thing on her Belly; though I omit now to say what further demonstrations there are of it. As to that Reply, that is only her fancy, I find the word “her” added. And as to your Fathers feeling for the live Creature after you had felt it, if it were on the Bed it was not so very far from her. And for the length of his Prayer, possibly your Witnesses might keep a more exact account of the time than those others, and I stand not for a few Minutes. For the rest of the Objections I suppose them of less moment, if less can be (however shall be ready to receive them, those matters of greatest concern I find no Objections against). These being all that yet appear, it may be thought that if the Narrative be not fully exact, it was as near as Memory could bear away; but should be glad to see one more perfect (which yet is not to be expected, seeing none writ at the time). You mention the appendix, by which I understand the Second Visit, and if you be by the possessed belied (as being half an hour with her alone, excluding her own Mother, and as telling her you had Prayed for her Nine times that day, and that now was her Laughing time, she must Laugh now) I can see no Wonder in it; what can be expected less from the Father of Lies, by whom, you Judge, she was Possessed. And besides the above Letter, you were pleased to send me another Paper containing several Testimonies of the Possessed being lifted up, and held a space of several Minutes to the Garret floor, etc., but they omit giving the account, whether after she was down they bound her down: or kept holding her: And relate not how many were to pull her down, which hinders the knowledge what number they must be to be stronger than an Invisible Force. Upon the whole, I suppose you expect I should believe it; and if so, the only advantage gained, is that which has been so long controverted between Protestants and Papists, whether Miracles are ceased, will hereby seem to be decided for the latter; it being, for ought I can see, if so, as true a Miracle as for Iron to swim, and that the Devil can work such Miracles. But Sir, leaving these little disputable things, I do again pray that you would let me have the happiness of your approbation or confutation of that Letter before referred to. And now, Sir, that the God of all Grace may enable us Zealously to own his Truths, and to follow those things that tend to Peace, and that yourself may be as an useful Instrument in his hand, effectually to ruin the remainders of Heathenish and Popish Superstitions, is the earnest desire and prayer of yours to command, in what I may. R. C.
PART 5. An Impartial Account of the most Memorable Matters of Fact, touching the supposed Witchcraft in New England
Mr. Parris had been some years a Minister in Salem-Village, when this sad Calamity (as a deluge) overflowed them, spreading itself far and near: He was a Gentleman of Liberal Education, and not meeting with any great Encouragement, or Advantage in Merchandizing, to which for some time he applied himself, betook himself to the work of the Ministry; this Village being then vacant, he met with so much Encouragement, as to settle in that Capacity among them. After he had been there about two years, he obtained a Grant from a part of the Town, that the House and Land he Occupied, and which had been Allotted by the whole People to the Ministry, should be and remain to him, etc. as his own Estate in Fee Simple. This occasioned great Divisions both between the Inhabitants themselves, and between a considerable part of them and their said Minister, which Divisions were but as a beginning or Præludium to what immediately followed. It was the latter end of February , when divers young Persons belonging to Mr. Parris's Family, and one or more of the Neighborhood, began to Act, after a strange and unusual manner, viz. as by getting into Holes, and creeping under Chairs and Stools, and to use sundry odd Postures and Antic Gestures, uttering foolish, ridiculous Speeches, which neither they themselves nor any others could make sense of; the Physicians that were called could assign no reason for this; but it seems one of them, having recourse to the old shift, told them he was afraid they were Bewitched; upon such suggestions, they that were concerned applied themselves to Fasting and Prayer, which was attended not only in their own private Families, but with calling in the help of others. March the th. Mr. Parris invited several Neighboring Ministers to join with him in keeping a Solemn day of Prayer at his own House; the time of the exercise those Persons were for the most part silent, but after any one Prayer was ended, they would Act and Speak strangely and Ridiculously, yet were such as had been well Educated and of good Behavior, the one, a Girl of or years old, would sometimes seem to be in a Convulsion Fit, her Limbs being twisted several ways, and very stiff, but presently her Fit would be over. A few days before this Solemn day of Prayer, Mr. Parris's Indian Man and Woman made a Cake of Rye Meal, with the Children’s Water, and Baked it in the Ashes, and as is said, gave it to the Dog; this was done as a means to Discover Witchcraft; soon after which those ill affected or afflicted Persons named several that they said they saw, when in their Fits, afflicting of them. The first complained of, was the said Indian Woman, named Tituba. She confessed that the Devil urged her to sign a Book, which he presented to her, and also to work Mischief to the Children, etc. She was afterwards Committed to Prison, and lay there till Sold for her Fees. The account she since gives of it is, that her Master did beat her and otherwise abuse her, to make her confess and accuse (such as he called) her Sister-Witches, and that whatsoever she said by way of confessing or accusing others, was the effect of such usage; her Master refused to pay her Fees, unless she would stand to what she had said. The Children complained likewise of two other Women, to be the Authors of their Hurt, Viz. Sarah Good, who had long been counted a Melancholy or Distracted Woman, and one Osburn, an Old Bed-rid Woman; which two were Persons so ill thought of, that the accusation was the more readily believed; and after Examination before two Salem Magistrates, were committed: March the th, Mr. Lawson (who had been formerly a Preacher at the said Village) came thither, and hath since set forth in Print an account of what then passed, about which time, as he says, they complained of Goodwife Cory, and Goodwife Nurse, Members of the Churches at the Village and at Salem, many others being by that time Accused. March the st, Goodwife Cory was examined before the Magistrates of Salem, at the Meeting House in the Village, a throng of Spectators being present to see the Novelty. Mr. Noyes, one of the Ministers of Salem, began with Prayer, after which the Prisoner being called, in order to answer to what should be Alleged against her, she desired that she might go to Prayer, and was answered by the Magistrates, that they did not come to hear her pray, but to examine her. The number of the Afflicted were at that time about Ten, Viz. Mrs. Pope, Mrs. Putnam, Goodwife Bibber, and Goodwife Goodall, Mary Wolcott, Mercy Lewes (at Thomas Putnam’s) and Dr. Griggs Maid, and three Girls, Viz. Elizabeth Parris, Daughter to the Minister, Abigail Williams his Niece, and Ann Putnam, which last three were not only the beginners, but were also the chief in these Accusations. These Ten were most of them present at the Examination, and did vehemently accuse her of Afflicting them, by Biting, Pinching, Strangling, etc. And they said, they did in their Fits see her likeness coming to them, and bringing a Book for them to Sign; Mr. Hathorne, a Magistrate of Salem, asked her, why she Afflicted those Children? she said, she did not Afflict them; he asked her, who did then? she said, “I do not know, how should I know?” she said, they were Poor Distracted Creatures, and no heed to be given to what they said; Mr. Hathorne and Mr. Noyes replied that it was the Judgment of all that were there present, that they were bewitched, and only she (the Accused) said they were Distracted: She was Accused by them, that the Black Man Whispered to her in her Ear now (while she was upon Examination) and that she had a Yellow Bird, that did use to Suck between her Fingers, and that the said Bird did Suck now in the Assembly; order being given to look in that place to see if there were any sign, the Girl that pretended to see it said, that it was too late now, for she had removed a Pin, and put it on her head, it was upon search found, that a Pin was there sticking upright. When the Accused had any motion of their Body, Hands or Mouth, the Accusers would cry out, as when she bit her Lip, they would cry out of being bitten, if she grasped one hand with the other, they would cry out of being Pinched by her, and would produce marks, so of the other motions of her Body, as complaining of being Pressed, when she leaned to the seat next her, if she stirred her Feet, they would stamp and cry out of Pain there. After the hearing the said Cory was committed to Salem Prison, and then their crying out of her abated. March the th, Goodwife Nurse was brought before Mr. Hathorne and Mr. Corwin (Magistrates) in the Meeting House. Mr. Hale, Minister of Beverly, began with Prayer, after which she being Accused of much the same Crimes made the like answers, asserting her own Innocence with earnestness. The Accusers were mostly the same, Thomas Putnam’s Wife, etc. complaining much. The dreadful Shrieking from her and others, was very amazing, which was heard at a great distance; she was also Committed to Prison. A Child of Sarah Goods was likewise apprehended, being between and years Old. The Accusers said this Child bit them, and would shew such like marks, as those of a small Sett of Teeth upon their Arms; as many of the Afflicted as the Child cast its Eye upon, would complain they were in Torment; which Child they also Committed. Concerning these that had been hitherto Examined and Committed, it is among other things observed by Mr. Lawson (in Print) that they were by the Accusers charged to belong to a Company that did muster in Arms, and were reported by them to keep Days of Fast, Thanksgiving and Sacraments; and that those Afflicted (or Accusers) did in the Assembly Cure each other’s, even with a touch of their Hand, when strangled and otherwise tortured, and would endeavor to get to the Afflicted to relieve them thereby (for hitherto they had not used the Experiment of bringing the Accused to touch the Afflicted, in order to their Cure) and could foretell one another’s Fits to be coming, and would say, look to such a one, she will have a Fit presently and so it happened, and that at the same time when the Accused person was present, the Afflicted said they saw her Specter or likeness in other places of the Meeting House Suckling of their Familiars. The said Mr. Lawson being to Preach at the Village, after the Psalm was Sung, Abigail Williams said, “Now stand up and name your Text”; after it was read, she said, “It is a long Text.” Mrs. Pope in the beginning of Sermon said to him, “Now there is enough of that.” In Sermon, he referring to his Doctrine, Abigail Williams said to him, “I know no Doctrine you had, if you did name one I have forgot it.” Ann Putnam, an afflicted Girl, said, There was a Yellow Bird sate on his Hat as it hung on the Pin in the Pulpit. March , . Was set apart as a day of Solemn Humiliation at Salem, upon the Account of this Business, on which day Abigail Williams said, That she saw a great number of Persons in the Village at the Administration of a Mock Sacrament, where they had Bread as read as raw Flesh, and red Drink. April . Mercy Lewis affirmed, That she saw a man in white, with whom she went into a Glorious Place, viz. In her fits, where was no Light of the Sun, much less of Candles, yet was full of Light and Brightness, with a great Multitude in White Glittering Robes, who Sang the Song in . Rev. . and the and Psalms; And was grieved that she might tarry no longer in this place. This White Man is said to have appeared several times to others of them, and to have given them notice how long it should be before they should have another Fit. April the d. Being Sacrament Day at the Village, Sarah Cloys, Sister to Goodwife Nurse, a Member to one of the Churches, was (though' it seems with difficulty prevailed with to be) present; but being entered the place, and Mr. Parris naming his Text, John, . Have not I chosen you Twelve, and one of you is a Devil (for what cause may rest as a doubt whether upon the account of her Sisters being Committed, or because of the choice of that Text) she rose up and went out, the wind shutting the Door forcibly, gave occasion to some to suppose she went out in Anger, and might occasion a suspicion of her; however she was soon after complained of, examined and Committed. April the th. By this time the number of the Accused and Accusers being much increased, was a Public Examination at Salem, Six of the Magistrates with several Ministers being present; there appeared several who complained against others with hideous clamors and Screeching. Goodwife Proctor was brought thither, being Accused or cried out against; her Husband coming to attend and assist her, as there might be need, the Accusers cried out of him also, and that with so much earnestness, that he was Committed with his Wife. About this time besides the Experiment of the Afflicted falling at the sight, etc., they put the Accused upon saying the Lords Prayer, which one among them performed, except in that petition, Deliver us from Evil, she expressed it thus, Deliver us from all Evil. This was looked upon as if she Prayed against what she was now justly under, and being put upon it again, and repeating those words, Hallowed be thy name, she expressed it, Hollowed be thy Name, this was counted a depraving the words, as signifying to make void, and so a Curse rather than a Prayer, upon the whole it was concluded that she also could not say it, etc. Proceeding in this work of examination and Commitment, many were sent to Prison. As an Instance, see the following Mittimus:
Mittimus for imprisonment of William & Deliverance Hobbs, Mary Easty, Sarah Wildes, Edward & Sarah Bishop, Mary Black, and Mary English
To their Majesties Goal-keeper in Salem
You are in Their Majesties Names hereby required to take into your care, and safe custody, the Bodies of William Hobs, and Deborah his Wife, Mary Easty, the Wife of Isaac Easty, and Sarah Wild, the Wife of John Wild, all of Topsfield; and Edward Bishop of Salem-Village, Husbandman, and Sarah his Wife, and Mary Black, a Negro of Lieutenant Nathaniel Putnam’s of Salem-Village; also Mary English the Wife of Philip English, Merchant in Salem; who stand charged with High Suspicion of Sundry Acts of Witchcraft, done or committed by them lately upon the Bodies of Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis and Abigail Williams, of Salem-Village, whereby great Hurt and Damage hath been done to the Bodies of the said Persons, as according to the complaint of Thomas Putnam and John Buxton of Salem-Village, Exhibited Salem, Apr , , appears, whom you are to secure in order to their further Examination. Fail not.
John Hathorne, Assistants. Jonathon Corwin,
Dated Salem, April , .
To Marshal George Herrick of Salem Essex.
You are in their Majesties Names hereby required to convey the above-named to the Goal at Salem. Fail not.
John Hathorne, Assistants. Jonathon Corwin,
Dated Salem, Apr ,
The occasion of Bishops being cried out of was, he being at an Examination in Salem, when at the Inn an afflicted Indian was very unruly, whom he undertook, and so managed him, that he was very orderly, after which in riding home, in company of him and other Accusers, the Indian fell into a fit, and clapping hold with his Teeth on the back of the Man that rode before him, thereby held himself upon the Horse, but said Bishop striking him with his stick, the Indian soon recovered, and promised he would do so no more; to which Bishop replied, that he doubted not, but he could cure them all, with more to the same effect; immediately after he was parted from them, he was cried out of, etc. May , . Sir William Phips arrived with Commission from Their Majesties to be Governor, pursuant to the New-Charter; which he now brought with him; the Ancient Charter having been vacated by King Charles, and King James (by which they had a power not only to make their own Laws; but also to choose their own Governor and Officers;) and the Country for some years was put under an absolute Commission-Government, till the Revolution, at which time though more than two thirds of the People were for reassuming their ancient Government, (to which they had encouragement by His then Royal Highness's Proclamation) yet some that might have been better employed (in another Station) made it their business (by printing, as well as speaking) to their utmost to divert them from such a settlement; and so far prevailed, that for about seven Weeks after the Revolution, here was not so much as a face of any Government; but some few Men upon their own Nomination would be called a Committee of Safety; but at length the Assembly prevailed with those that had been of the Government, to promise that they would reassume; and accordingly a Proclamation was drawn, but before publishing it, it was underwritten, that they would not have it understood that they did reassume Charter-Government; so that between Government and no Government, this Country remained till Sir William arrived; Agents being in this time empowered in England, which no doubt did not all of them act according to the Minds or Interests of those that empowered them, which is manifest by their not acting jointly in what was done; so that this place is perhaps a single Instance (even in the best of Reigns) of a Charter not restored after so happy a Revolution. This settlement by Sir William Phips his being come Governor put an end to all disputes of these things, and being arrived, and having read his Commission, the first thing he exerted his Power in, was said to be his giving Orders that Irons should be put upon those in Prison; for though for some time after these were Committed, the Accusers ceased to cry out of them; yet now the cry against them was renewed, which occasioned such Order; and though there was partiality in the executing it (some having taken them off almost as soon as put on) yet the cry of these Accusers against such ceased after this Order. May . Mrs. Cary of Charlestown, was Examined and Committed. Her Husband Mr. Nathaniel Cary has given account thereof, as also of her Escape, to this Effect, I having heard some days, that my Wife was accused of Witchcraft, being much disturbed at it, by advice, we went to Salem-Village, to see if the afflicted did know her; we arrived there, May, it happened to be a day appointed for Examination; accordingly soon after our arrival, Mr. Hathorne and Mr. Corwin, etc., went to the Meeting-house, which was the place appointed for that Work, the Minister began with Prayer, and having taken care to get a convenient place, I observed, that the afflicted were two Girls of about Ten Years old, and about two or three other, of about eighteen, one of the Girls talked most, and could discern more than the rest. The Prisoners were called in one by one, and as they came in were cried out of, etc. The Prisoner was placed about or foot from the Justices, and the Accusers between the Justices and them; the Prisoner was ordered to stand right before the Justices, with an Officer appointed to hold each hand, least they should therewith afflict them, and the Prisoners Eyes must be constantly on the Justices; for if they looked on the afflicted, they would either fall into their Fits, or cry out of being hurt by them; after Examination of the Prisoners, who it was afflicted these Girls, etc., they were put upon saying the Lord’s Prayer, as a trial of their guilt; after the afflicted seemed to be out of their Fits, they would look steadfastly on some one person, and frequently not speak; and then the Justices said they were struck dumb, and after a little time would speak again; then the Justices said to the Accusers, “which of you will go and touch the Prisoner at the Bar?” then the most courageous would adventure, but before they had made three steps would ordinarily fall down as in a Fit; the Justices ordered that they should be taken up and carried to the Prisoner, that she might touch them; and as soon as they were touched by the accused, the Justices would say, they are well, before I could discern any alteration; by which I observed that the Justices understood the manner of it. Thus far I was only as a Spectator, my Wife also was there part of the time, but no notice taken of her by the afflicted, except once or twice they came to her and asked her name. But I having an opportunity to Discourse Mr. Hale (with whom I had formerly acquaintance) I took his advice, what I had best to do, and desired of him that I might have an opportunity to speak with her that accused my Wife; which he promised should be, I acquainting him that I reposed my trust in him. Accordingly he came to me after the Examination was over, and told me I had now an opportunity to speak with the said Accuser, viz. Abigail Williams, a Girl of or Years old; but that we could not be in private at Mr. Parris's House, as he had promised me; we went therefore into the Alehouse, where an Indian Man attended us, who it seems was one of the afflicted: to him we gave some Cider, he shewed several Scars, that seemed as if they had been long there, and shewed them as done by Witchcraft, and acquainted us that his Wife, who also was a Slave, was imprisoned for Witchcraft. And now instead of one Accuser, they all came in, who began to tumble down like Swine, and then three Women were called in to attend them. We in the Room were all at a stand, to see who they would cry out of; but in a short time they cried out, Cary; and immediately after a Warrant was sent from the Justices to bring my Wife before them, who were sitting in a Chamber nearby, waiting for this. Being brought before the Justices, her chief accusers were two Girls; my Wife declared to the Justices, that she never had any knowledge of them before that day; she was forced to stand with her Arms stretched out. I did request that I might hold one of her hands, but it was denied me; then she desired me to wipe the Tears from her Eyes, and the Sweat from her Face, which I did; then she desired she might lean herself on me, saying, she should faint. Justice Hathorne replied, she had strength enough to torment those persons, and she should have strength enough to stand. I speaking something against their cruel proceedings, they commanded me to be silent, or else I should be turned out of the Room. The Indian before mentioned, was also brought in, to be one of her Accusers: being come in, he now (when before the Justices) fell down and tumbled about like a Hog, but said nothing. The Justices asked the Girls, who afflicted the Indian? they answered she (meaning my Wife) and now lay upon him; the Justices ordered her to touch him, in order to his cure, but her head must be turned another way, least instead of curing, she should make him worse, by her looking on him, her hand being guided to take hold of his; but the Indian took hold on her hand, and pulled her down on the Floor, in a barbarous manner; then his hand was taken off, and her hand put on his, and the cure was quickly wrought. I being extremely troubled at their Inhumane dealings, uttered a hasty Speech (That God would take vengeance on them, and desired that God would deliver us out of the hands of unmerciful men.) Then her Mittimus was writ. I did with difficulty and charge obtain the liberty of a Room, but no Beds in it; if there had, could have taken but little rest that Night. She was committed to Boston Prison; but I obtained a Habeas Corpus to remove her to Cambridge Prison, which is in our County of Middlesex. Having been there one Night, next Morning the Jailor put Irons on her legs (having received such a command) the weight of them was about eight pounds; these Irons and her other Afflictions, soon brought her into Convulsion Fits, so that I thought she would have died that Night. I sent to entreat that the Irons might be taken off, but all entreaties were in vain, if it would have saved her Life, so that in this condition she must continue. The Trials at Salem coming on, I went thither, to see how things were there managed; and finding that the Specter-Evidence was there received, together with Idle, if not malicious Stories, against People’s Lives, I did easily perceive which way the rest would go; for the same Evidence that served for one, would serve for all the rest. I acquainted her with her danger; and that if she were carried to Salem to be tried, I feared she would never return. I did my utmost that she might have her Trial in our own County, I with several others Petitioning the Judge for it, and were put in hopes of it; but I soon saw so much, that I understood thereby it was not intended, which put me upon consulting the means of her escape; which through the goodness of God was effected, and she got to Road Island, but soon found herself not safe when there, by reason of the pursuit after her; from thence she went to New-York, along with some others that had escaped their cruel hands; where we found his Excellency Benjamin Fletcher, Est; Governor, who was very courteous to us. After this some of my Goods were seized in a Friends hands, with whom I had left them, and myself imprisoned by the Sheriff, and kept in Custody half a day, and then dismissed; but to speak of their usage of the Prisoners, and their Inhumanity shown to them, at the time of their Execution, no sober Christian could bear; they had also trials of cruel mocking; which is the more, considering what a People for Religion, I mean the profession of it, we have been; those that suffered being many of them Church-Members, and most of them unspotted in their Conversation, till their Adversary the Devil took up this Method for accusing them. Per Nathaniel Cary. May . Captain John Alden was Examined at Salem, and Committed to Boston Prison. The Prison-Keeper seeing such a Man Committed, of whom he had a good esteem, was after this the more Compassionate to those that were in Prison on the like account; and did refrain from such hard things to the Prisoners, as before he had used. Mr. Alden himself has given account of his Examination, in these Words. An Account how John Alden, Senior, was dealt with at Salem-Village. John Alden Senior, of Boston, in the County of Suffolk, Mariner, on the th Day of May, , was sent for by the Magistrates of Salem, in the County of Essex, upon the Accusation of a company of poor distracted, or possessed Creatures or Witches; and being sent by Mr. Stoughton, arrived there the st of May, and appeared at Salem-Village, before Mr. Gedney, Mr. Hathorne, and Mr. Corwin. Those Wenches being present, who plaid their juggling tricks, falling down, crying out, and staring in People’s Faces; the Magistrates demanded of them several times, who it was of all the People in the Room that hurt them? one of these Accusers pointed several times at one Captain Hill, there present, but spoke nothing; the same Accuser had a Man standing at her back to hold her up; he stooped down to her Ear, then she cried out, Alden, Alden afflicted her; one of the Magistrates asked her if she had ever seen Alden, she answered no, he asked her how she knew it was Alden? She said, the Man told her so. Then all were ordered to go down into the Street, where a Ring was made; and the same Accuser cried out, “there stands Alden, a bold fellow with his Hat on before the Judges, he sells Powder and Shot to the Indians and French, and lies with the Indian Squaws, and has Indian Papooses.” Then was Alden committed to the Marshal's Custody, and his Sword taken from him; for they said he afflicted them with his Sword. After some hours Alden was sent for to the Meeting-house in the Village before the Magistrates; who required Alden to stand upon a Chair, to the open view of all the People. The Accusers cried out that Alden did pinch them, then, when he stood upon the Chair, in the sight of all the People, a good way distant from them, one of the Magistrates bid the Marshal to hold open Alden’s hands, that he might not pinch those Creatures. Alden asked them why they should think, that he should come to that Village to afflict those persons that he never knew or saw before? Mr. Gedney bid Alden confess, and give glory to God; Alden said he hoped he should give glory to God, and hoped he should never gratify the Devil; but appealed to all that ever knew him, if they ever suspected him to be such a person, and challenged any one, that could bring in anything upon their own knowledge, that might give suspicion of his being such an one. Mr. Gedney said he had known Alden many Years, and had been at Sea with him, and always looked upon him to be an honest Man, but now he did see cause to alter his judgment: Alden answered, he was sorry for that, but he hoped God would clear up his Innocence, that he would recall that judgment again, and added that he hoped that he should with Job maintain his Integrity till he died. They bid Alden look upon the Accusers, which he did, and then they fell down. Alden asked Mr. Gedney, what Reason there could be given, why Alden’s looking upon him did not strike him down as well; but no reason was given that I heard. But the Accusers were brought to Alden to touch them, and this touch they said made them well. Alden began to speak of the Providence of God in suffering these Creatures to accuse Innocent persons. Mr. Noyes asked Alden why he would offer to speak of the Providence of God. God by his Providence (said Mr. Noyes) governs the World, and keeps it in peace; and so went on with Discourse, and stopped Alden’s mouth, as to that. Alden told Mr. Gedney, that he could assure him that there was a lying Spirit in them, for I can assure you that there is not a word of truth in all these say of me. But Alden was again committed to the Marshal, and his Mittimus written, which was as follows.
Letter, To Mr. John Arnold, Keeper of the Prison in Boston, in the County of Suffolk
Whereas Captain John Alden of Boston, Mariner, and Sarah Rice, Wife of Nicholas Rice of Reading, Husbandman, have been this day brought before us, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, Esquires; being accused and suspected of perpetrating divers acts of Witchcraft, contrary to the form of the Statute, in that Case made and provided: These are therefore in Their Majesties, King William and Queen Mary’s Names, to Will and require you, to take into your Custody, the bodies of the said John Alden, and Sarah Rice, and them safely keep, until they shall thence be delivered by due course of Law; as you will answer the contrary at your peril; and this shall be your sufficient Warrant. Given under our hands at Salem Village, the st of May, in the Fourth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord and Lady, William and Mary, now King and Queen over England, etc., Anno Dom. .
John Hathorne, Assistants. Jonathan Corwin
To Boston Alden was carried by a Constable, no Bail would be taken for him; but was delivered to the Prison-keeper, where he remained Fifteen Weeks, and then observing the manner of Trials, and Evidence then taken, was at length prevailed with to make his Escape, and being returned, was bound over to Answer at the Superior Court at Boston, the last Tuesday in April, Anno . And was there cleared by Proclamation, none appearing against him. Per John Alden. At Examination, and at other times, ‘Twas usual for the Accusers to tell of the black Man, or of a Specter, as being then on the Table, etc. The People about would strike with Swords, or sticks at those places. One Justice broke his Cane at this Exercise, and sometimes the Accusers would say, they struck the Specter, and it is reported several of the accused were hurt and wounded thereby, though at home at the same time. The Justices proceeding in these works of Examination, and Commitment, to the end of May, there was by that time about a Hundred persons Imprisoned upon that Account. June . A special Commission of Oyer and Terminer having been Issued out, to Mr. Stoughton, the New Lieutenant Governor, Major Saltonstall, Major Richards, Major Gedney, Mr. Wait Winthrop, Captain Sewall, and Mr. Sergeant; These (a Quorum of them) sat at Salem this day; where the most that was done this Week, was the Trial of one Bishop, alias Oliver, of Salem; who having long undergone the repute of a Witch, occasioned by the Accusations of one Samuel Gray: he about Years since, having charged her with such Crimes, and though upon his Death-bed he testified his sorrow and repentance for such Accusations, as being wholly groundless; yet the report taken up by his means continued, and she being accused by those afflicted, and upon search a Tet, as they call it, being found, she was brought in guilty by the Jury; she received her Sentence of Death, and was Executed, June , but made not the least Confession of anything relating to Witchcraft. June . Several Ministers in and near Boston, having been to that end consulted by his Excellency, expressed their minds to this effect, viz. That they were affected with the deplorable state of the afflicted; That they were thankful for the diligent care of the Rulers, to detect the abominable Witchcrafts, which have been committed in the Country, praying for a perfect discovery thereof. But advised to a cautious proceeding, least many Evils ensue, etc. And that tenderness be used towards those accused, relating to matters presumptive and convictive, and also to privacy in Examinations, and to consult Mr. Perkins and Mr. Bernard, what tests to make use of in the Scrutiny: That Presumptions and Convictions ought to have better grounds, than the Accusers affirming that they see such persons Specters afflicting them: And that the Devil may afflict in the shape of good Men; and that falling at the sight, and rising at the touch of the Accused, is no infallible proof of guilt; That seeing the Devils strength consists in such Accusations, our disbelieving them may be a means to put a period to the dreadful Calamities; Nevertheless they humbly recommend to the Government, the speedy and vigorous prosecution of such as have rendered themselves obnoxious, according to the direction given in the Laws of God, and the wholesome Statutes of the English Nation, for the Detection of Witchcraft. This is briefly the substance of what may be seen more at large in Cases of Conscience, (ult.) And one of them since taking occasion to repeat some part of this advice, Wonders of the Invisible World, p. , declares, (notwithstanding the Dissatisfaction of others) that if his said Book may conduce to promote thankfulness to God for such Executions, he shall rejoice, etc. The th of June, the Court according to Adjournment again sat; five more were tried, viz. Sarah Good and Rebecca Nurse, of Salem-Village; Susanna Martin of Amesbury; Elizabeth How of Ipswich; and Sarah Wildes of Topsfield; these were all condemned that Sessions, and were all Executed on the th of July. At the Trial of Sarah Good, one of the afflicted fell in a Fit, and after coming out of it, she cried out of the Prisoner, for stabbing her in the breast with a Knife, and that she had broken the Knife in stabbing of her, accordingly a piece of the blade of a Knife was found about her. Immediately information being given to the Court, a young Man was called, who produced a Haft and part of the Blade, which the Court having viewed and compared, saw it to be the same. And upon inquiry the young Man affirmed, that yesterday he happened to break that Knife, and that he cast away the upper part, this afflicted person being then present. The young Man was dismissed, and she was bidden by the Court not to tell lies; and was improved (after as she had been before) to give Evidence against the Prisoners. At Execution, Mr. Noyes urged Sarah Good to Confess, and told her she was a Witch, and she knew she was a Witch, to which she replied, “you are a liar; I am no more a Witch than you are a Wizard, and if you take away my Life, God will give you Blood to drink.” At the Trial of Rebecca Nurse, this was remarkable that the Jury brought in their Verdict not Guilty, immediately all the accusers in the Court, and suddenly after all the afflicted out of Court, made an hideous out-cry, to the amazement, not only of the Spectators, but the Court also seemed strangely surprised; one of the Judges expressed himself not satisfied, another of them as he was going off the Bench, said they would have her Indicted anew. The chief Judge said he would not Impose upon the Jury; but intimated, as if they had not well considered one Expression of the Prisoners, when she was upon Trial, viz. That when one Hobbs, who had confessed herself to be a Witch, was brought into the Court to witness against her, the Prisoner turning her head to her, said, “What, do you bring her? she is one of us,” or to that effect; this together with the Clamors of the Accusers, induced the Jury to go out again, after their Verdict, not Guilty. But not agreeing, they came into the Court, and she being then at the Bar, her words were repeated to her, in order to have had her explanation of them, and she making no Reply to them, they found the Bill, and brought her in Guilty; these words being the Inducement to it, as the Foreman has signified in writing, as follows. July , . I Thomas Fisk, the Subscriber hereof, being one of them that were of the Jury the last week at Salem-Court, upon the Trial of Rebecca Nurse, etc., being desired by some of the Relations to give a Reason why the Jury brought her in Guilty, after her Verdict not Guilty; I do hereby give my Reasons to be as follows, viz. When the Verdict not Guilty was, the honored Court was pleased to object against it, saying to them, that they think they let slip the words, which the Prisoner at the Bar spoke against herself, which were spoken in reply to Goodwife Hobbs and her Daughter, who had been faulty in setting their hands to the Devils Book, as they have confessed formerly; the words were “What, do these persons give in Evidence against me now, they used to come among us.” After the honored Court had manifested their dissatisfaction of the Verdict, several of the Jury declared themselves desirous to go out again, and thereupon the honored Court gave leave; but when we came to consider of the Case, I could not tell how to take her words, as an Evidence against her, till she had a further opportunity to put her Sense upon them, if she would take it; and then going into Court, I mentioned the words aforesaid, which by one of the Court were affirmed to have been spoken by her, she being then at the Bar, but made no reply, nor interpretation of them; whereupon these words were to me a principal Evidence against her. Thomas Fisk. When Goodwife Nurse was informed what use was made of these words, she put in this following Declaration into the Court.
These presents do humbly shew, to the honored Court and Jury, that I being informed, that the Jury brought me in Guilty, upon my saying that Goodwife Hobbs and her Daughter were of our Company; but I intended no otherwise, then as they were Prisoners with us, and therefore did then, and yet do judge them not legal Evidence against their fellow Prisoners. And I being something hard of hearing, and full of grief, none informing me how the Court took up my words, and therefore had not opportunity to declare what I intended, when I said they were of our Company.
Rebecca Nurse. After her Condemnation she was by one of the Ministers of Salem excommunicated; yet the Governor saw cause to grant a Reprieve, which when known (and some say immediately upon granting) the Accusers renewed their dismal out-cries against her, insomuch that the Governor was by some Salem Gentleman prevailed with to recall the Reprieve, and she was Executed with the rest. The Testimonials of her Christian behavior, both in the course of her Life, and at her Death, and her extraordinary care in educating her Children, and setting them good Examples, etc., under the hands of so many, are so numerous, that for brevity they are here omitted.
It was at the Trial of these that one of the Accusers cried out publicly of Mr. Willard Minister in Boston, as afflicting of her; she was sent out of the Court, and it was told about she was mistaken in the person. August . The Court again sitting, six more were tried on the same Account, viz. Mr. George Burroughs, sometime minister of Wells, John Procter, and Elizabeth Procter his Wife, with John Willard of Salem-Village, George Jacobs Senior, of Salem, and Martha Carrier of Andover; these were all brought in Guilty and Condemned; and were all Executed Aug. , except Procter's Wife, who pleaded Pregnancy. Mr. Burroughs was carried in a Cart with the others, through the streets of Salem to Execution; when he was upon the Ladder, he made a Speech for the clearing of his Innocence, with such Solemn and Serious Expressions, as were to the Admiration of all present; his Prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord's Prayer,) was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness, and such (at least seeming) fervency of Spirit, as was very affecting, and drew Tears from many (so that it seemed to some, that the Spectators would hinder the Execution). The accusers said the black Man stood and dictated to him; as soon as he was turned off, Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a Horse, addressed himself to the People, partly to declare, that he was no ordained Minister, and partly to possess the People of his guilt; saying, That the Devil has often been transformed into an Angel of Light; and this did somewhat appease the People, and the Executions went on; when he was cut down, he was dragged by the Halter to a Hole, or Grave, between the Rocks, about two foot deep, his Shirt and Breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of Trousers of one Executed, put on his lower parts, he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, one of his Hands and his Chin, and a Foot of one of them being left uncovered. John Willard had been employed to fetch in several that were accused; but taking dissatisfaction from his being sent, to fetch up some that he had better thoughts of, he declined the Service, and presently after he himself was accused of the same Crime, and that with such vehemence, that they sent after him to apprehend him; he had made his Escape as far as Nashawag, about Miles from Salem; yet it is said those Accusers did then presently tell the exact time, saying, now Willard is taken. John Procter and his Wife being in Prison, the Sheriff came to his House and seized all the Goods, Provisions, and Cattle that he could come at, and sold some of the Cattle at half price, and killed others, and put them up for the West-Indies; threw out the Beer out of a Barrel, and carried away the Barrel; emptied a Pot of Broth, and took away the Pot, and left nothing in the House for the support of the Children: No part of the said Goods are known to be returned. Procter earnestly requested Mr. Noyes to pray with and for him, but it was wholly denied, because he would not own himself to be a Witch. During his Imprisonment he sent the following Letter, in behalf of himself and others.
Letter, Salem-Prison, July
Mr. Mather, Mr. Allen, Mr. Moody, Mr. Willard, and Mr. Bailey
The innocence of our Case with the Enmity of our Accusers and our Judges, and Jury, whom nothing but our Innocent Blood will serve their turn, having Condemned us already before our Trials, being so much incensed and engaged against us by the Devil, makes us bold to Beg and Implore your Favorable Assistance of this our Humble Petition to his Excellency, That if it be possible our Innocent Blood may be spared, which undoubtedly otherwise will be shed, if the Lord doth not mercifully step in. The Magistrates, Ministers, Jewries, and all the People in general, being so much enraged and incensed against us by the Delusion of the Devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know in our own Consciences, we are all Innocent Persons. Here are five Persons who have lately confessed themselves to be Witches, and do accuse some of us, of being along with them at a Sacrament, since we were committed into close Prison, which we know to be Lies. Two of them are (Carriers Sons) Young-men, who would not confess anything till they tied them Neck and Heels till the Blood was ready to come out of their Noses, and ‘tis credibly believed and reported this was the occasion of making them confess that they never did, by reason they said one had been a Witch a Month, and another five Weeks, and that their Mother had made them so, who has been confined here this nine Weeks. My son William Procter, when he was examined, because he would not confess that he was Guilty, when he was Innocent, they tied him Neck and Heels till the Blood gushed out at his Nose, and would have kept him so Hours, if one more Merciful than the rest, had not taken pity on him, and caused him to be unbound. These actions are very like the Popish Cruelties. They have already undone us in our Estates, and that will not serve their turns, without our Innocent Bloods. If it cannot be granted that we can have our Trials at Boston, we humbly beg that you would endeavor to have these Magistrates changed, and others in their rooms, begging also and beseeching you would be pleased to be here, if not all, some of you at our Trials, hoping thereby you may be the means of saving the shedding our Innocent Bloods, desiring your Prayers to the Lord in our behalf, we rest your Poor Afflicted Servants,
John Procter, etc.
He pleaded very hard at Execution, for a little respite of time, saying that he was not fit to Die; but it was not granted. Old Jacobs being Condemned, the Sheriff and Officers came and seized all he had, his Wife had her Wedding Ring taken from her, but with great difficulty obtained it again. She was forced to buy Provisions of the Sheriff, such as he had taken, towards her own support, which not being sufficient, the Neighbors of Charity relieved her.
Margaret Jacobs being one that had confessed her own Guilt, and testified against her Grand-Father Jacobs, Mr. Burroughs, and John Willard, She the day before Executions, came to Mr. Burroughs, acknowledging that she had belied them, and begged Mr. Burroughs Forgiveness, who not only forgave her, but also Prayed with and for her. She wrote the following Letter to her Father.
Letter, From the Dungeon in Salem-Prison, August ,
After my Humble Duty Remembered to you, hoping in the Lord of your good Health, as Blessed be God I enjoy, though in abundance of Affliction, being close confined here in a loathsome Dungeon, the Lord look down in mercy upon me, not knowing how soon I shall be put to Death, by means of the Afflicted Persons; my Grand-Father having Suffered already, and all his Estate Seized for the King. The reason of my Confinement is this, I having, through the Magistrates Threatening, and my own Vile and Wretched Heart, confessed several things contrary to my Conscience and Knowledge, though to the Wounding of my own Soul, the Lord pardon me for it; but Oh! the terrors of a wounded Conscience who can bear. But blessed be the Lord, he would not let me go on in my Sins, but in mercy I hope so my Soul would not suffer me to keep it in any longer, but I was forced to confess the truth of all before the Magistrates, who would not believe me, but tis their pleasure to put me in here, and God knows how soon I shall be put to death. Dear Father, let me beg your Prayers to the Lord on my behalf, and send us a Joyful and Happy meeting in Heaven. My Mother poor Woman is very Crazy, and remembers her kind Love to you, and to Uncle, viz. D. A. So leaving you to the protection of the Lord, I rest your Dutiful Daughter,
At the time appointed for her Trial, she had an Imposture in her head, which was her Escape. September . Six more were tried, and received Sentence of Death, viz. Martha Cory of Salem-Village, Mary Easty of Topsfield, Alice Parker and Ann Pudeater of Salem, Dorcas Hoar of Beverly, and Mary Bradbury of Salisbury. September , Giles Cory was pressed to Death.
September . Nine more received Sentence of Death, viz. Margaret Scot of Rowley, Goodwife Redd of Marblehead, Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker of Andover, also Abigail Falkner of Andover, who pleaded Pregnancy, Rebecca Eames of Boxford, Mary Lacy, and Ann Foster of Andover, and Abigail Hobbs of Topsfield. Of these Eight were Executed, September , viz. Martha Cory, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeater, Margaret Scot, Wilmot Redd, Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker. Giles Cory pleaded not Guilty to his Indictment, but would not put himself upon Trial by the Jury (they having cleared none upon Trial) and knowing there would be the same Witnesses against him, rather chose to undergo what Death they would put him to. In pressing his Tongue being pressed out of his Mouth, the Sheriff with his Cane forced it in again, when he was dying. He was the first in New-England, that was ever pressed to Death. The Cart going up the Hill with these Eight to Execution, was for some time at a set; the afflicted and others said, that the Devil hindered it, etc. Martha Cory, Wife to Giles Cory, protesting her Innocence, concluded her Life with an Eminent Prayer upon the Ladder. Wardwell having formerly confessed himself Guilty, and after denied it, was soon brought upon his Trial; his former Confession and Specter Testimony was all that appeared against him. At Execution while he was speaking to the People, protesting his Innocence, the Executioner being at the same time smoking Tobacco, the smoke coming in his Face, interrupted his Discourse, those Accusers said, the Devil hindered him with smoke. Mary Easty, Sister also to Rebecca Nurse, when she took her last farewell of her Husband, Children and Friends, was, as is reported by them present, as Serious, Religious, Distinct, and Affectionate as could well be expressed, drawing Tears from the Eyes of almost all present. It seems besides the Testimony of the Accusers and Confessors, another proof, as it was counted, appeared against her, it having been usual to search the Accused for Teets; upon some parts of her Body, not here to be named, was found an Excrescence, which they called a Tet. Before her Death she put up the following Petition:
Petition of Mary Easty
To the Honorable Judge and Bench now sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend Ministers, humbly show, that whereas your humble poor Petitioner being Condemned to die, doth humbly beg of you, to take it into your Judicious and Pious Consideration, that your poor and humble Petitioner knowing my own Innocence (blessed be the Lord for it) and seeing plainly the Wiles and Subtlety of my Accusers, by myself, cannot but judge charitably of others, that are going the same way with myself, if the Lord step not mightily in. I was confined a whole Month on the same account that I am now condemned for, and then cleared by the Afflicted persons, as some of your Honors know, and in two days’ time I was cried out upon by them, and have been confined, and now am condemned to die. The Lord above knows my Innocence then, and likewise doth now, as at the great day will be known to Men and Angels. I Petition to your Honors not for my own Life, for I know I must die, and my appointed time is set; but the Lord he knows it is, if it be possible, that no more Innocent Blood be shed, which undoubtedly cannot be avoided in the way and course you go in. I question not, but your Honors do to the utmost of your powers, in the discovery and detecting of Witchcraft and Witches, and would not be guilty of Innocent Blood for the World; but by my own Innocence I know you are in the wrong way. The Lord in his infinite Mercy direct you in this great work, if it be his blessed will, that Innocent Blood be not shed; I would humbly beg of you, that your Honors would be pleased to Examine some of those confessing Witches, I being confident there are several of them have belied themselves and others, as will appear, if not in this World, I am sure in the World to come, whither I am going; and I question not, but yourselves will see an alteration in these things: They say, myself and others have made a league with the Devil, we cannot confess. I know and the Lord he knows (as will shortly appear) they belie me, and so I question not but they do others; the Lord alone, who is the searcher of all hearts, knows that as I shall answer it at the Tribunal Seat, that I know not the least thing of Witchcraft, therefore I cannot, I durst not belie my own Soul. I beg your Honors not to deny this my humble Petition, from a poor dying Innocent person, and I question not but the Lord will give a blessing to your Endeavors.
After Execution Mr. Noyes turning him to the Bodies, said, what a sad thing it is to see Eight Firebrands of Hell hanging there. In October , One of Wenham complained of Mrs. Hale, whose Husband, the Minister of Beverly, had been very forward in these Prosecutions, but being fully satisfied of his Wives sincere Christianity, caused him to alter his Judgment; for it was come to a stated Controversy, among the New-England Divines, whether the Devil could Afflict in a good Man's shape; it seems nothing else could convince him: yet when it came so near to himself, he was soon convinced that the Devil might so Afflict. Which same reason did afterwards prevail with many others; and much influenced to the succeeding change at Trials. October . (Edward Bishop and his Wife having made their Escape out of Prison) this day Mr. Corwin the Sheriff, came and Seized his Goods, and Cattle, and had it not been for his second Son (who borrowed Ten Pound and gave it him) they had been wholly lost, the Receipt follows; but it seems they must be content with such a Receipt as he would give them.
Sheriff’s Receipt for property seized from Edward and Sarah Bishop
Received this th day of October , of Samuel Bishop of the Town of Salem, of the County of Essex, in New-England, Cordwainer, in full satisfaction, a valuable Sum of Money, for the Goods and Chattels of Edward Bishop, Senior, of the Town and County aforesaid, Husbandman; which Goods and Chattels being seized, for that the said Edward Bishop, and Sarah his Wife, having been committed for Witchcraft and Felony, have made their Escape; and their Goods and Chattels were forfeited unto their Majesties, and now being in Possession of the said Samuel Bishop; and in behalf of Their Majesties, I do hereby discharge the said Goods and Chattels, the day and year above written, as witness my hand,
George Corwin, Sheriff
But before this the said Bishops Eldest Son, having Married into that Family of the Putnam’s, who were chief Prosecutors in this business; he holding a Cow to be branded lest it should be seized, and having a Push or Boil upon his Thigh, with his straining it broke; this is that that was pretended to be burnt with the said Brand; and is one of the bones thrown to the Dogmatical to pick, in Wonders of the Invisible World, P. . the other, of a Corner of a Sheet, pretended to be taken from a Specter, it is known that it was provided the day before, by that Afflicted person, and the third bone of a Spindle is almost as easily provided, as the piece of the Knife; so that Apollo needs not herein be consulted, etc. Mr. Philip English and his Wife having made their Escape out of Prison, Mr. Corwin the Sheriff seized his Estate, to the value of about Fifteen Hundred Pound, which was wholly lost to him, except about Three Hundred Pound value, (which was afterward restored.) After Goodwife Hoar was Condemned, her Estate was seized, and was also bought again for Eight Pound. George Jacobs, Son to old Jacobs, being accused, he fled, then the Officers came to his House, his Wife was a Woman Crazy in her Senses and had been so several Years. She it seems had been also accused; there were in the House with her only four small Children, and one of them sucked, her Eldest Daughter being in Prison; the Officer persuaded her out of the House, to go along with him, telling her she should speedily return, the Children ran a great way after her crying. When she came where the Afflicted were, being asked, they said they did not know her, at length one said, Don’t you know Jacobs the old Witch, and then they cried out of her, and fell down in their Fits; she was sent to Prison, and lay there Ten Months, the Neighbors of pity took care of the Children to preserve them from perishing. About this time a New Scene was begun, one Joseph Ballard of Andover, whose Wife was ill (and after died of a Fever) sent to Salem for some of those Accusers, to tell him who afflicted his Wife; others did the like: Horse and Man were sent from several places to fetch those Accusers who had the Spectral sight, that they might thereby tell who afflicted those that were any ways ill. When these came into any place where such were, usually they fell into a Fit; after which being asked who it was that afflicted the person, they would, for the most part, name one whom they said sat on the head, and another that sat on the lower parts of the afflicted. Soon after Ballard's sending (as above) more than Fifty of the People of Andover were complained of, for afflicting their Neighbors. Here it was that many accused themselves, of Riding upon Poles through the Air; Many Parents believing their Children to be Witches, and many Husbands their Wives, etc. When these Accusers came to the House of any upon such account, it was ordinary for other young People to be taken in Fits, and to have the same Spectral sight. Mr. Dudley Bradstreet, a Justice of Peace in Andover, having granted out Warrants against, and Committed Thirty or Forty to Prisons, for the supposed Witchcrafts, at length saw cause to forbear granting out any more Warrants. Soon after which he and his Wife were cried out of, himself was (by them) said to have killed Nine persons by Witchcraft, and found it his safest course to make his Escape. A Dog being afflicted at Salem-Village, those that had the Spectral sight being sent for, they accused Mr. John Bradstreet (Brother to the Justice) that he afflicted the said Dog, and now rid upon him: He made his Escape into Piscattaqua-Government, and the Dog was put to death, and was all of the Afflicted that suffered death. At Andover, the Afflicted complained of a Dog, as afflicting of them, and would fall into their Fits at the Dogs looking upon them; the Dog was put to death. A worthy Gentleman of Boston, being about this time accused by those at Andover, he sent by some particular Friends a Writ to Arrest those Accusers in a Thousand Pound Action for Defamation, with instructions to them, to inform themselves of the certainty of the proof, in doing which their business was perceived, and from thence forward the Accusations at Andover generally ceased. In October some of these Accusers were sent for to Gloucester, and occasioned four Women to be sent to Prison, but Salem Prison being so full it could receive no more, two were sent to Ipswich Prison. In November they were sent for again by Lieutenant Stephens, who was told that a Sister of his was bewitched; in their way passing over Ipswich-bridge, they met with an old Woman, and instantly fell into their Fits: But by this time the validity of such Accusations being much questioned, they found not that Encouragement they had done elsewhere, and soon withdrew. These Accusers swore that they saw three persons sitting upon Lieutenant Stephens's Sister till she died; yet Bond was accepted for those Three. And now Nineteen persons having been hanged, and one pressed to death, and Eight more condemned, in all Twenty and Eight, of which above a third part were Members of some of the Churches in N. England, and more than half of them of a good Conversation in general, and not one cleared; About Fifty having confessed themselves to be Witches, of which not one Executed; above an Hundred and Fifty in Prison, and above Two Hundred more accused; The Special Commission of Oyer and Terminer comes to a period, which has no other foundation than the Governor’s Commission, and had proceeded in the manner of swearing Witnesses, viz. By holding up the hand, (and by receiving Evidences in writing) according to the Ancient Usage of this Country; as also having their Indictments in English. In the Trials, when any were Indicted for Afflicting, Pining, and wasting the Bodies of particular persons by Witchcraft; it was usual to hear Evidence of matter foreign, and of perhaps Twenty or Thirty years standing, about over-setting Carts, the death of Cattle, unkindness to Relations, or unexpected Accidents befalling after some quarrel. Whether this was admitted by the Law of England, or by what other Law, wants to be determined; the Executions seemed mixt, in pressing to death for not pleading, which most agrees with the Laws of England, and Sentencing Women to be hanged for Witchcraft, according to the former practice of this Country, and not by burning, as is said to have been the Law of England. And though the confessing Witches were many; yet not one of them that confessed their own guilt, and abode by their Confession were put to Death. Here follows what account some of those miserable Creatures give of their Confession under their own hands.
We whose Names are under written, Inhabitants of Andover, when as that horrible and tremendous Judgment beginning at Salem-Village, in the Year , (by some) called Witchcraft, first breaking forth at Mr. Parris's House, several Young persons being seemingly afflicted, did accuse several persons for afflicting them, and many there believing it so to be; we being informed that if a person were sick, that the afflicted persons could tell, what or who was the cause of that sickness. Joseph Ballard of Andover (his Wife being sick at the same time) he either from himself, or by the advice of others, fetched two of the persons called the afflicted persons, from Salem-Village to Andover. Which was the beginning of that dreadful Calamity that befell us in Andover. And the Authority in Andover, believing the said Accusations to be true, sent for the said persons to come together, to the Meeting-house in Andover (the afflicted persons being there.) After Mr. Bernard had been at Prayer, we were blindfolded, and our hands were laid upon the afflicted persons, they being in their Fits, and falling into their Fits at our coming into their presence (as they said) and some led us and laid our hands upon them, and then they said they were well, and that we were guilty of afflicting of them; whereupon we were all seized as Prisoners, by a Warrant from the Justice of the Peace, and forthwith carried to Salem. And by reason of that sudden surprise, we knowing ourselves altogether Innocent of that Crime, we were all exceedingly astonished and amazed, and consternated and affrighted even out of our Reason; and our nearest and dearest Relations, seeing us in that dreadful condition, and knowing our great danger, apprehending that there was no other way to save our lives, as the case was then circumstantiated, but by our confessing ourselves to be such and such persons, as the afflicted represented us to be, they out of tender love and pity persuaded us to confess what we did confess. And indeed that Confession, that is said we made, was no other than what was suggested to us by some Gentlemen; they telling us, that we were Witches, and they knew it, and we knew it, and they knew that we knew it, which made us think that it was so; and our understanding, our reason, and our faculties almost gone, we were not capable of judging our condition; as also the hard measures they used with us, rendered us incapable of making our Defense; but said anything and everything which they desired, and most of what we said, was but in effect a consenting to what they said. Sometime after when we were better composed, they telling of us what we had confessed, we did profess that we were Innocent, and Ignorant of such things. And we hearing that Samuel Wardwell had renounced his Confession, and quickly after Condemned and Executed, some of us were told that we were going after Wardwell.
Mary Osgood, Mary Tyler, Deliverance Dane, Abigail Barker, Sarah Wilson, Hannah Tyler.
It may here be further added concerning those that did Confess, that besides that powerful Argument, of Life (and freedom from hardships and Irons not only promised, but also performed to all that owned their guilt), There are numerous Instances, too many to be here inserted, of the tedious Examinations before private persons, many hours together; they all that time urging them to Confess (and taking turns to persuade them) till the accused were wearied out by being forced to stand so long, or for want of Sleep, etc. and so brought to give an Assent to what they said; they then asking them , Were you at such a Witch-meeting, or have you signed the Devil's Book, etc. upon their replying, yes, the whole was drawn into form as their Confession. But that which did mightily further such Confessions, was their nearest and dearest Relations urging them to it. These seeing no other way of escape for them, thought it the best advice that could be given; hence it was that the Husbands of some, by counsel often urging, and utmost earnestness, and Children upon their Knees entreating, have at length prevailed with them, to say they were guilty. As to the manner of Trials, and the Evidence taken for Convictions at Salem, it is already set forth in Print, by the Reverend Mr. Cotton Mather, in his Wonders of the Invisible World, at the Command of his Excellency, Sir William Phips; with not only the Recommendation, but thanks of the Lieutenant Governor; and with the Approbation of the Reverend Mr. J. M. in his Postscript to his Cases of Conscience; which last Book was set forth by the consent of the Ministers in and near Boston. Two of the Judges have also given their Sentiments in these words, p. .
William Stoughton & Samuel Sewall, endorsement of Wonders of the Invisible World
The Reverend and worthy Author, having at the direction of his Excellency the Governor, so far obliged the Public, as to give some account of the sufferings, brought upon the Country by Witchcrafts, and of the Trials which have passed upon several executed for the same.
Upon perusal thereof, We find the matters of Fact and Evidence truly reported, and a prospect given of the Methods of Conviction, used in the proceedings of the Court at Salem.
Boston, October ,
William Stoughton, Samuel Sewall.
And considering that this may fall into the hands of such as never saw those Wonders, it may be needful to transcribe the whole account he has given thereof, without any variation (but with one of the Indictments annexed to the Trial of each). Thus far the Account given in Wonders of the Invisible World; in which setting aside such words as these, in the Trial of G. B. viz., “They (i. e. the Witnesses) were enough to fix the character of a Witch upon him.” In the Trial of Bishop, these words, “but there was no need of them,” i. e. of further Testimony. In the Trial of How, where it is said, “and there came in Testimony of preternatural Mischiefs, presently befalling some that had been instrumental to debar her from the Communion, whereupon she was intruding.” Martin is called “one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked Creatures in the World.” In his Account of Martha Carrier, he is pleased to call her “a Rampant Hag,” etc. These Expressions, as they manifest that he wrote more like an Advocate than an Historian, so also that those that were his Employers were not mistaken in their choice of him for that work, however he may have missed it in other things. As in his owning (in the Trial of G. B.) That the Testimony of the bewitched and confessors was not enough against the Accused, for it is known that not only in New-England, such Evidence has been taken for sufficient, but also in England, as himself there owns, and will also hold true of Scotland, etc., they having proceeded upon such Evidence, to the taking away of the Lives of many, to assert that this is not enough is to tell the World that such Executions were but so many Bloody Murders; which surely was not his intent to say. His telling that the Court began to think that Burroughs stepped aside to put on invisibility, is a rendering them so mean Philosophers, and such weak Christians, as to be fit to be imposed upon by any silly pretender. His calling the Evidence against How trivial, and others against Burroughs, he accounts no part of his Conviction; and that of lifting a Gun with one Finger, its being not made use of as Evidence, renders the whole but the more perplex. (Not to mention the many mistakes therein contained.) Yet all this (and more that might have been hinted at) does not hinder, but that his Account of the manner of Trials of those for Witchcraft is as faithfully related as any Trials of that kind, that was ever yet made public; and it may also be reasonably thought that there was as careful a Scrutiny, and as unquestioned Evidences improved, as had been formerly used in the Trials of others, for such crimes in other places. though indeed a second part might be very useful, to set forth which was the Evidence Convictive in these Trials, for it is not supposed, that Romantic or Ridiculous stories should have any influence, such as biting a Specters Finger, so that the Blood flowed out, or such as Shattuck’s Story of Years standing, which yet was presently Years or more, and yet a Man of that excellent Memory, as to be able to recall a small difference his Wife had with another Woman, when Eighteen Years were past. As it is not to be supposed that such as these could Influence any Judge or Jury, so not unkindness to relations, or God's having given to one Man more strength than to some others, the over-setting of Carts, or the death of Cattle, nor yet Excrescencies (called Teets) nor little bits of Rags tied together (called Poppets.) Much less any persons illness, or having their Clothes rent when a Specter has been well banged, much less the burning the Mares Fart, mentioned in the Trial of How. None of these being in the least capable of proving the Indictment; The supposed Criminals were Indicted for Afflicting, etc., such and such particular persons by Witchcraft, to which none of these Evidences have one word to say, and the Afflicted and Confessors being declared not enough, the matter needs yet further explaining. But to proceed, the General Court having sat and enacted Laws, particularly one against Witchcraft, assigning the Penalty of Death to any that shall feed, reward or employ, etc., Evil Spirits, though it has not yet been explained what is intended thereby, or what it is to feed, reward or employ Devils, etc., yet some of the Legislators have given this instead of an Explanation, that they had therein but Copied the Law of another Country. January . By virtue of an Act of the General Court, the first Superior Court was held at Salem, for the County of Essex, the Judges appointed were Mr. William Stoughton (the Lieutenant Governor) Thomas Danforth, John Richards, Wait Winthrop, and Samuel Sewall, Esquires, Where Ignoramus was found upon the several Bills of Indictment against Thirty, and Billa Vera against Twenty six more; of all these Three only were found Guilty by the Jewry upon Trial, two of which were (as appears by their Behavior) the most senseless and Ignorant Creatures that could be found; besides which it does not appear what came in against those more than against the rest that were acquitted. The Third was the Wife of Wardwell, who was one of the Twenty Executed, and it seems they had both confessed themselves Guilty; but he retracting his said Confession, was tried and Executed; it is supposed that this Woman fearing her Husband’s fate, was not so stiff in her denials of her former Confession, such as it was. These Three received Sentence of Death. At these Trials some of the Jewry made Inquiry of the Court, what Account they ought to make of the Specter Evidence? and received for Answer “as much as of Chips in Wort.” January , /. The Superior Court began at Charles-town, for the County of Middlesex, Mr. Stoughton, Mr. Danforth, Mr. Winthrop, and Mr. Sewall Judges, where several had Ignoramus returned upon their Bills of Indictment, and Billa Vera upon others. In the time the Court sat, word was brought in, that a Reprieve was sent to Salem, and had prevented the Execution of Seven of those that were there Condemned, which so moved the chief Judge, that he said to this effect, “We were in a way to have cleared the Land of these, etc., who it is obstructs the course of Justice I know not; the Lord be merciful to the Country,” and so went off the Bench, and came no more that Court: The most remarkable of the Trials, was of Sarah Dustin, she was a Woman of about or Years of Age. To usher in her Trial, a report went before, that if there were a Witch in the World she was one, as having been so accounted of, for or Years; which drew many People from Boston, etc., to hear her Trial. There were a multitude of Witnesses produced against her; but what Testimony they gave in seemed wholly foreign, as of accidents, illness, etc., befalling them, or theirs after some Quarrel; what these testified was much of it of Actions said to be done Years before that time. The Specter-Evidence was not made use of in these Trials, so that the Jewry soon brought her in not Guilty; her Daughter and Grand-daughter, and the rest that were then tried, were also acquitted. After she was cleared Judge Danforth Admonished her in these words, “Woman, Woman, repent, there are shrewd things come in against you”; she was remanded to Prison for her Fees, and there in a short time expired. One of Boston that had been at the Trial of Dustin, being the same Evening in company with one of the Judges in a public place, acquainted him that some that had been both at the Trials at Salem and at this at Charlestown, had asserted that there was more Evidence against the said Dustin than against any at Salem, to which the said Judge conceded, saying, That it was so. It was replied by that person, that he dare give it under his hand, that there was not enough come in against her to bear a just reproof. April , . The first Superior Court was held at Boston, for the County of Suffolk, the Judges were the Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Danforth, Mr. Richards and Mr. Sewall, Esquires. Where (besides the acquitting Mr. John Alden by Proclamation) the most remarkable was, what related to Mary Watkins, who had been a Servant, and lived about Seven Miles from Boston, having formerly Accused her Mistress of Witchcraft, and was supposed to be distracted, she was threatened if she persisted in such Accusations to be punished; this with the necessary care to recover her Health, had that good effect, that she not only had her Health restored, but also wholly acquitted her Mistress of any such Crimes, and continued in Health till the return of the Year, and then again falling into Melancholy humors she was found strangling herself; her Life being hereby prolonged, she immediately accused herself of being a Witch; was carried before a Magistrate and committed. At this Court a Bill of Indictment was brought to the Grand Jury against her, and her confession upon her Examination given in as Evidence, but these not wholly satisfied herewith, sent for her, who gave such account of herself, that they (after they had returned into the Court to ask some Questions) Twelve of them agreed to find Ignoramus, but the Court was pleased to send them out again, who again at coming in returned it as before. She was continued for some time in Prison, etc., and at length was sold to Virginia. About this time the Prisoners in all the Prisons were released. To omit here the mentioning of several Wenches in Boston, etc., who pretended to be Afflicted, and accused several, the Ministers often visiting them, and praying with them, concerning whose Affliction Narratives are in being in Manuscript. Not only these, but the generality of those Accusers may have since convinced the Ministers by their vicious courses that they might err in extending too much Charity to them. The conclusion of the whole in the Massachusetts Colony was, Sir William Phips, Governor, being called home, before he went he pardoned such as had been condemned, for which they gave about Shillings each to the Kings Attorney. In August . The Superior Court sat at Hartford, in the Colony of Connecticut, where one Mistress Benom was tried for Witchcraft, she had been accused by some Children that pretended to the Spectral sight; they searched her several times for Teets; they tried the Experiment of casting her into the Water, and after this she was Excommunicated by the Minister of Wallinsford. Upon her Trial nothing material appearing against her, save Specter Evidence, she was acquitted, as also her Daughter, a Girl of Twelve or Thirteen Years old, who had been likewise Accused; but upon renewed Complaints against them, they both fled into New-York Government. Before this the Government Issued forth the following Proclamation.
By the Honorable the Lieutenant Governor, Council and Assembly of his Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in General Court Assembled
Whereas the Anger of God is not yet turned away, but his Hand is still stretched out against his People in manifold Judgments, particularly in drawing out to such a length the troubles of Europe, by a perplexing War; and more especially, respecting ourselves in this Province, in that God is pleased still to go on in diminishing our Substance, cutting short our Harvest, blasting our most promising undertakings more ways than one, unsettling of us, and by his more Immediate hand, snatching away many out of our Embraces, by sudden and violent Deaths, even at this time when the Sword is devouring so many both at home and abroad, and that after many days of public and Solemn addressing of him, And although considering the many Sins prevailing in the midst of us, we cannot but wonder at the Patience and Mercy moderating these Rebukes; yet we cannot but also fear that there is something still wanting to accompany our Supplications. And doubtless there are some particular Sins, which God is Angry with our Israel for, that have not been duly seen and resented by us, about which God expects to be sought, if ever he turn again our Captivity.
Wherefore it is Commanded and Appointed, that Thursday the Fourteenth of January next be observed as a Day of Prayer, with Fasting throughout this Province, strictly forbidding all Servile labor thereon; that so all Gods People may offer up fervent Supplications unto him, for the Preservation, and Prosperity of his Majesty's Royal Person and Government, and Success to attend his Affairs both at home and abroad; that all iniquity may be put away which hath stirred God's Holy jealousy against this Land; that he would shew us what we know not, and help us wherein we have done amiss to do so no more; and especially that whatever mistakes on either hand have been fallen into, either by the body of this People, or any orders of men, referring to the late Tragedy, raised among us by Satan and his Instruments, through the awful Judgment of God, he would humble us therefore and pardon all the Errors of his Servants and People, that desire to love his Name and be atoned to his Land; that he would remove the Rod of the wicked from off the Lot of the Righteous; that he would bring the American Heathen, and cause them to hear and obey his Voice.
Given at Boston, December. , , in the th Year of his Majesties Reign.
Isaac Addington, Secretary.
Upon the Day of the Fast in the full Assembly, at the South Meeting-House in Boston, one of the Honorable Judges, who had sat in Judicature in Salem, delivered in a Paper, and while it was in reading stood up, But the Copy being not to be obtained at present, It can only be reported by Memory to this effect, viz. It was to desire the Prayers of God's People for him and his, and that God having visited his Family, etc., he was apprehensive that he might have fallen into some Errors in the Matters at Salem, and pray that the Guilt of such Miscarriages may not be imputed either to the Country in general, or to him or his family in particular. Some that had been of several Jewries, have given forth a Paper, Signed with their own hands in these words. We whose names are under written, being in the Year called to serve as Jurors, in Court at Salem, on Trial of many, who were by some suspected Guilty of doing Acts of Witchcraft upon the Bodies of sundry Persons:
Confession of the Jurors
We confess that we ourselves were not capable to understand, nor able to withstand the mysterious delusions of the Powers of Darkness, and Prince of the Air; but were for want of Knowledge in ourselves, and better Information from others, prevailed with to take up with such Evidence against the Accused, as on further consideration, and better Information, we justly fear was insufficient for the touching the Lives of any, Deut. . , whereby we fear we have been instrumental with others, though Ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon ourselves, and this People of the Lord, the Guilt of Innocent Blood; which Sin the Lord says in Scripture, he would not pardon, Kings . , that is we suppose in regard of his temporal Judgments. We do therefore hereby signify to all in general (and to the surviving Sufferers in especial) our deep sense of, and sorrow for our Errors, in acting on such Evidence to the condemning of any person.
And do hereby declare that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken, for which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds; and do therefore humbly beg forgiveness, first of God for Christ's sake for this our Error; And pray that God would not impute the guilt of it to ourselves, nor others; and we also pray that we may be considered candidly, and aright by the living Sufferers as being then under the power of a strong and general Delusion, utterly unacquainted with, and not experienced in matters of that Nature.
We do heartily ask forgiveness of you all, whom we have justly offended, and do declare according to our present minds, we would none of us do such things again on such grounds for the whole World; praying you to accept of this in way of Satisfaction for our Offence; and that you would bless the Inheritance of the Lord, that he may be entreated for the Land.
Foreman, Thomas Fisk, William Fisk, John Batcheler, Thomas Fisk, Junior John Dane, Joseph Evelith, Thomas Perley, Senior John Peabody, Thomas Perkins, Samuel Sayer, Andrew Elliott, Henry Herrick, Senior.
Mr. C. M. having been very forward to write Books of Witchcraft, has not been so forward either to explain or defend the Doctrinal part thereof, and his belief (which he had a Year’s time to compose) he durst not venture so as to be copied. Yet in this of the Life of Sir William he sufficiently testifies his retaining that Heterodox belief, seeking by frightful stories of the sufferings of some, and the refined sight of others, etc., P. to obtrude upon the World, and confirm it in such a belief, as hitherto he either cannot or will not defend, as if the Blood already shed thereby were not sufficient. Mr. I. Mather, in his Cases of Conscience, P. , tells of a Bewitched Eye, and that such can see more than others. They were certainly bewitched Eyes that could see as well shut as open, and that could see what never was, that could see the Prisoners upon the Afflicted, harming of them, when those whose Eyes were not bewitched could have sworn that they did not stir from the Bar. The Accusers are said to have suffered much by biting, P. . And the prints of just such a set of Teeth, as those they Accused, had, but such as had not such bewitched Eyes have seen the Accusers bite themselves, and then complain of the Accused. It has also been seen when the Accused, instead of having just such a set of Teeth, has not had one in his head. They were such bewitched Eyes that could see the Poisonous Powder (brought by Specters P. .) And that could see in the Ashes the print of the Brand, there invisibly heated to torment the pretended Sufferers with, etc. These with the rest of such Legends have this direct tendency, viz. To tell the World that the Devil is more ready to serve his Votaries, by his doing for them things above or against the course of Nature, shewing himself to them, and making explicit contract with them, etc., than the Divine Being is to his faithful Servants, and that as he is willing, so also able to perform their desires. The way whereby these People are believed to arrive at a power to Afflict their Neighbors, is by a compact with the Devil, and that they have a power to Commission him to those Evils, P. . However Irrational, or Unscriptural such Assertions are, yet they seem a necessary part of the Faith of such as maintain the belief of such a sort of Witches. As the Scriptures know nothing of a covenanting or commissioning Witch, so Reason cannot conceive how Mortals should by their Wickedness arrive at a power to Commission Angels, Fallen Angels, against their Innocent Neighbors. But the Scriptures are full in it, and the Instances numerous, that the Almighty, Divine Being has this prerogative to make use of what Instrument he pleases, in Afflicting any, and consequently to Commission Devils: And though this word commissioning, in the Authors former Books, might be thought to be by inadvertency; yet now after he hath been cautioned of it, still to persist in it seems highly Criminal. And therefore in the name of God, I here charge such belief as guilty of Sacrilege in the highest Nature, and so much worse than stealing Church Plate, etc., As it is a higher Offence to steal any of the glorious Attributes of the Almighty, to bestow them upon Mortals, than it is to steal the Utensils appropriated to his Service. And whether to ascribe such power of commissioning Devils to the worst of Men, be not direct Blasphemy, I leave to others better able to determine. When the Pharisees were so wicked as to ascribe to Beelzebub, the mighty works of Christ (whereby he did manifestly shew forth his Power and Godhead) then it was that our Savior declared the Sin against the Holy Ghost to be unpardonable. When the Righteous God is contending with Apostate Sinners, for their departures from him, by his Judgments, as Plagues, Earthquakes, Storms and Tempests, Sicknesses and Diseases, Wars, loss of Cattle, etc. Then not only to ascribe this to the Devil, but to charge one another with sending or commissioning those Devils to these things, is so abominable and so wicked, that it requires a better Judgment than mine to give it its just denomination. But that Christians so called should not only charge their fellow Christians therewith, but proceed to Trials and Executions; crediting that Enemy to all Goodness, and Accuser of the Brethren, rather than believe their Neighbors in their own Defense; This is so Diabolical a Wickedness as cannot proceed, but from a Doctrine of Devils; how far damnable it is let others discuss. though such things were acting in this Country in Sir Williams time, yet p. . there is a Discourse of a Guardian Angel, as then over-seeing it, which notion, however it may suit the Faith of Ethnics, or the fancies of Trithemius, it is certain that the Omnipresent Being stands not in need as Earthly Potentates do, of governing the World by Vicegerents. And if Sir William had such an Invisible pattern to imitate, no wonder though some of his Actions were unaccountable, especially those relating to Witchcraft: For if there was in those Actions an Angel super-intending, there is little reason to think it was Gabriel or the Spirit of Mercury, nor Hanael the Angel or Spirit of Venus, nor yet Samuel the Angel or Spirit of Mars; Names feigned by the said Trithemius, etc. It may rather be thought to be Apollyon, or Abaddon. Obj. But here it will be said, “What, are there no Witches? Do's not the Law of God command that they should be extirpated? Is the Command vain and Unintelligible?” Sol. For any to say that a Witch is one that makes a compact with, and Commissions Devils, etc., is indeed to render the Law of God vain and Unintelligible, as having provided no way whereby they might be detected, and proved to be such; And how the Jews waded through this difficulty for so many Ages, without the Supplement of Mr. Perkins and Bernard thereto, would be very mysterious. But to him that can read the Scriptures without prejudice from Education, etc., it will manifestly appear that the Scripture is full and Intelligible, both as to the Crime and means to detect the culpable. He that shall hereafter see any person, who to confirm People in a false belief, about the power of Witches and Devils, pretending to a sign to confirm it, such as knocking off of invisible Chains with the hand, driving away Devils by brushing, striking with a Sword or Stick, to wound a person at a great distance, etc., may (according to that head of Mr. Gaul’s, quoted by Mr. C. M. and so often herein before recited, and so well proved by Scripture) conclude that he has seen Witchcraft performed. If Baalam became a Sorcerer by Sacrificing and Praying to the true God against his visible people; Then he that shall pray that the afflicted (by their Spectral Sight) may accuse some other Person (whereby their reputations and lives may be endangered) such will justly deserve the Name of a Sorcerer. If any Person pretends to know more than can be known by humane means, and professes at the same time that they have it from the Black-Man, i.e. the Devil, and shall from hence give Testimony against the Lives of others, they are manifestly such as have a familiar Spirit; and if any, knowing them to have their Information from the Black-Man, shall be inquisitive of them for their Testimony against others, they therein are dealing with such as have a Familiar-Spirit. And if these shall pretend to see the dead by their Spectral Sight, and others shall be inquisitive of them, and receive their Answers what it is the dead say, and who it is they accuse, both the one and the other are by Scripture Guilty of Necromancy. These are all of them crimes as easily proved as any whatsoever, and that by such proof as the Law of God requires, so that it is no Unintelligible Law. But if the Iniquity of the times be such, that these Criminals not only Escape Indemnified, but are Encouraged in their Wickedness, and made use of to take away the Lives of others, this is worse than a making the Law of God Vain, it being a rendering of it dangerous, against the Lives of Innocents, and without all hopes of better, so long as these Bloody Principles remain. As long as Christians do Esteem the Law of God to be Imperfect, as not describing that crime that it requires to be Punished by Death; As long as men suffer themselves to be Poisoned in their Education, and be grounded in a False Belief by the Books of the Heathen; As long as the Devil shall be believed to have a Natural Power, to Act above and against a course of Nature; As long as the Witches shall be believed to have a Power to Commission him; As long as the Devils Testimony, by the pretended afflicted, shall be received as more valid to Condemn, than their Plea of Not Guilty to acquit; As long as the Accused shall have their Lives and Liberties confirmed and restored to them, upon their Confessing themselves Guilty; As long as the Accused shall be forced to undergo Hardships and Torments for their not Confessing; As long as Teets for the Devil to Suck are searched for upon the Bodies of the accused, as a token of guilt; As long as the Lord’s Prayer shall be profaned, by being made a Test, who are culpable; As long as Witchcraft, Sorcery, Familiar Spirits, and Necromancy, shall be improved to discover who are Witches, etc., So long it may be expected that Innocents will suffer as Witches. So long God will be Daily dishonored, And so long his Judgments must be expected to be continued. Finis