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Title: Witchcraft of New England Explained by Modern Spiritualism
Author: Putnam, Allen
Language: English
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Preface, page 9.--References, 14.--Explanatory Note--Definitions, 15.

MATHER AND CALEF, 25.--Account of Margaret Rule, 26.--Definitions of
Witchcraft, 29.--Commission of the Devil, 30.--Margaret assaulted by
Specters, 31.--Offered a Book, and pinched, 33.--Fasted, and perceived a
Man liable to drown, 34.--Lifted, and saw a White Spirit, 35.--Rubbed by
Mather, 37.--Visited by Spies, 39.--Prayed with, and Brimstone was smelt,
40.--Fowler charges Delirium Tremens, 41.--Affidavit of Avis, 44.--Calef
baffled, 46.--Levitation of R. H. Squires, 46.

COTTON MATHER, 52.--Haven's Account of Mercy Short, 71.



C. W. UPHAM, 80.

MARGARET JONES, 85.--Winthrop's Account of her, 87.--Hutchinson's and
Upham's, 88.--Our own, 89.--J. W. Crosby's Experience, 94.--Spirit of
Prophecy, 99.--Spirit Child, 100.--Materialization, 102.--Newburyport
Spirit Boy, 103.--Why Margaret was executed, 109.--Erroneous faith,
114.--Margaret's Case isolated, 119.--Epitaph, 121.

ANN HIBBINS, 122.--Beach's Letter, 123.--Hutchinson's Account of Ann,
124.--Upham's, 126.--Her Will, 128.--Her Wit, 131.--Densmore's Inner
Hearing, 135.--Guessing, 138.--Her Social Position, 140.--Slandered, 130,
142.--Her Intuitive Powers, 143.--Her Illumination, 146.

ANN COLE, 147.--Hutchinson's Account, 147.--Whiting's, 148.--The
Greensmiths, 153.--Representative Experiences, 154.

ELIZABETH KNAP, 157.--How affected, 158.--Long accustomed to see Spirits,
160.--Accused Mr. Willard, 162.--A Case of Spiritualism.

MORSE FAMILY, 167.--Physical Manifestations, 168.--The Sailor Boy,
169.--Caleb Powell, 170.--Hazzard's Account of Read, 172.--Mather's
Account of John Stiles, 175.--Mrs. Morse accused, 178.--Hale's Report,
182.--Morse's Testimony, 184.--2d do., 187.--His Character, 190.--Faults
of Historians, 193.--Marvels in Essex County, 197.--Eliakim Phelps, 198.

GOODWIN FAMILY, 199.--Hutchinson's Account, 201.--Character of the
Children, 207.--Wild Irish Woman, 210.--Philip Smith's Case, 211.--Upham's
Account, 213.--Spirit Loss of Earth Language, 216.--Mather flattered,
217.--The Girl's Weight triplicated, 219.--Mather's Person shielded,
221.--Upham's Conclusion incredible, 223.--Hutchinson nonplused,
224.--Justice to the Devil, 227. Summary, 229.

SALEM WITCHCRAFT, 231.--Occurred at Danvers, 231.--Circle of Girls,
233.--Their Lack of Education, 235.--Obstacles to their Meeting,
236.--Mediumistic Capabilities, 239.--Parsonage Kitchen, 240.--Fits
stopped by Whipping, 242.--Upham's Lack of Knowledge, 243.--Hare's
Demonstration, 245.--Upham's Lament and Warnings, 246.--Nothing
Supernatural, 249.--Varley's Position, 252.--The Afflicted knew their
Afflicters, 254.--Names of the Afflicted, 257.--Mr. Parris's Account of
Witchcraft Advent, 259.--What occurred, 260.--Lawson's Account, 261.--The
Bewitching Cake, 262.--John Indian and Tituba, 263.--Tituba Participator
and Witness, 267.

TITUBA, 271.--Examination of her, 271-297.--Summary of her Statements,
298.--Discrepancies between Cheever and Corwin, 301.--Dates fixed by
Corwin, 303.--Tituba's Authority as Expounder, 308.--Calef's Notice of
her, 309.--Her Confession, 312.--Her Unhappy Fate, 313.

SARAH GOOD, 313.--Why visible apparitionally, 314.--Her Examination,
315.--Mesmeric Force, 318.--Persons absent in Form afflict, 320.--Only
Clairvoyance sees Spirits, 323.--Its Fitfulness, 324.--A Witch because not
bewitchable, 325.--Her Invisibility, 325.--H. B. Storer's Account of Mrs.
Compton, 326.--Ann Putnam's Deposition, 331.--S. Good's Prophetic Glimpse,

DORCAS GOOD, 335.--Bites with Spirit Teeth, 336.--State of Opinion
admitting her Arrest, 338.--Upham's Presentation of Public Excitement,
339.--Lovely Witches now, 342.

SARAH OSBURN, 342.--Was seen spectrally, 343.--Heard a Voice, 345.

MARTHA COREY, 347.--Her Character.--Visited by Putnam and Cheever,
348.--Foresensed their Visit, 348.--Laughed when on Trial, 352.--Calef and
Upham's Account of her, 353.--Her Prayer, 354.

GILES COREY, 354.--Refused to plead, 355.--Was pressed to Death, 356.--His
Heroism, 357.

REBECCA NURSE, 358.--Was seen as an Apparition, 358.--Her Mother a Witch,
360.--Had Fits, 361.--Confusion at her Trial, 362.--The Power of Will,
363.--Elizabeth Parris, 364.--Agassiz, 365.--Not guilty, and then guilty,

MARY EASTY, 367.--Her Examination, 368.--The Character of her Trial,
370.--Her Petition, 371.--Last Hour, 373.

SUSANNA MARTIN, 373.--Her Examination, 374.--The Devil took Samuel's
Shape, 374.--R. P.'s Position, 375.--Her Apparition gave Annoyance, 377.

MARTHA CARRIER, 378.--Examination of, 378.--Her Children Witches, how they
afflicted, and their Confessions, 381.

GEORGE BURROUGHS, 390.--Indictment of, 391.--Opinions concerning him,
392.--Apparitions of his Wives, 394.--His Liftings, 399.--The Devil an
Indian, 402.--Thought-reading, 405.--His Susceptibilities and Character,

SUMMARY, 408.--Number executed, 412.--Spirits proved to have been Enactors
of Witchcraft, 414.


THE ACCUSING GIRLS, 420.--Ann Putnam's Confession, 420.









    "The nobler tendency of culture--and, above all, of scientific
    culture--is to honor the dead without groveling before them; to profit
    by the past without sacrificing it to the present."--EDWARD B. TYLOR,
    _Primitive Culture_.

Most history of New England witchcraft written since 1760 has dishonored
the dead by lavish imputations of imposture, fraud, malice, credulity, and
infatuation; has been sacrificing past acts, motives, and character to
skepticism regarding the sagacity and manliness of the fathers, the
guilelessness of their daughters, and the truth of ancient records.
Transmitted accounts of certain phenomena have been disparaged, seemingly
because facts alleged therein baffle solution by to-day's prevalent
philosophy, which discards some agents and forces that were active of old.
The legitimate tendency of culture has been reversed; what it should have
availed itself of and honored, it has busied itself in hiding and

An exception among writers alluded to is the author of the following
extract, who, simply as an historian, and not as an advocate of any
particular theory for the solution of witchcraft, seems ready to let its
works be ascribed to competent agents.

"So far as a presentation of facts is concerned, no account of the
dreadful tragedy has appeared which is more accurate and truthful than
Governor Hutchinson's narrative. His theory on the subject--that it was
wholly the result of fraud and deception on the part of the afflicted
children--will not be generally accepted at the present day, and his
reasoning on that point will not be deemed conclusive.... There is a
tendency to trace an analogy between the phenomena then exhibited and
modern spiritual manifestations."--W. F. POOLE, _Geneal. and Antiq.
Register, October, 1870._

While composing the following work, its writer was borne onward by the
tendency which Poole named. Survey of the field of marvels has been far
short of exhaustive--his purpose made no demand for very extended
researches. Selected cases, representative of the general manifestations
and subject treated of were enough. The aim has been to find in ancient
records, and thence adduce, statements and meanings long resting
unobserved beneath the gathered dust of more than a hundred years, and
therefore practically lost.

The course of search led attention beyond overt acts, to inspection of
some natural germs and their legitimately resultant development into
creeds, which impelled good men on to the enactment of direful tragedy.

Examination of the basement walls--the foundations--of prevalent popular
explanation of ancient wonders, forces conviction that they lack both the
breadth and the materials needful to stability. Modern builders of
witchcraft history have either failed to find, or have deemed unmanageable
by any appliances at their command, and therefore would not attempt to
handle, a vast amount of sound historic stones which are accessible and
can be used. Lacking them, these moderns have let fancy manufacture for
them, and they have builded upon blocks of her fragile stuff which are
fast disintegrating under the chemical action of the world's common sense.

We proposed here an incipient step towards refutation of the sufficiency
and justness of a main theory, now long prevalent, for explaining
satisfactorily very many well-proved marvelous facts. Some such have been
presented on the pages of Hutchinson, Upham, and their followers; and yet
these have been either not at all, or vaguely or ludicrously, commented
upon, or reasoned from. Very many others, and the most important of all as
bases and aids to an acceptable and true solution of the whole, are not
visible where they ought to have conspicuous position. Presentation and
proper use of them might have caused public cognizance to topple over the
edifices which it has pleased modern builders to erect.

It is not our purpose to write history, but to give new explanation of old
events. The long and widely tolerated theory that New England witchcraft
was exclusively but out-workings of mundane fraud, imposture, cunning,
trickery, malice, and the like, has never adequately met the reasonable
demand of common sense, which always asks that specified agents and forces
shall be probably competent to produce all such effects as are distinctly
ascribed to them.

Persons who of old were afflicted in manner that was then called
bewitchment, and others through or from whom the afflictions were alleged
to proceed, are now extensively supposed to have possessed organizations,
temperaments, and properties which rendered them exceptionally pliant
under subtile forces, either magnetic, mesmeric, or psychological, and
who, consequently, at times, could be, and were, made ostensible utterers
of knowledge whose marvelousness indicated mysterious source, and
ostensible performers of acts deemed more than natural, and which, in
fact, were the productions of wills not native in the manifesting forms.
The special forces that produced bewitchment and are put in application
now, do not become sensibly operative upon any other mortals than peculiar
sensitives; and their action upon such is often most easily and
effectively manifested through aid obtained from other similar sensitives.
Selections of both subjects and instrumentalities were of old, and are
now, controlled by general law. Steel needles and iron-filings are not
selected by the magnet's free will when it forces them to leap up from
their resting-places and cleave to itself. Seeming levitation possesses
them, and an invisible force takes them whither gravitation, their usual
holder, would not let them go. It is upon steel, not lead--upon iron, not
stone--that the magnet can execute its marvelous liftings. Nature's
conditions fix selections. The organizations, temperaments, fluids,
solids, and all the various properties, are, to some extent, unlike in any
two human bodies whatsoever, and the range of the differings and
consequent susceptibilities is very wide. A psychological magnet in either
the seen or unseen may have power to draw certain human forms to contact
with itself, and to use them as its tools, and yet lack force to produce
sensible effects upon but few in the mass of living men. Where its action
is most efficient, it controls the movements of what it holds in its
embrace--takes a human form out from control by the spirit which usually
governs it, and through that form manifests its own powers and purposes.
Both the reputed bewitched and bewitching may severally have had but
little, if any, voluntary part in manifesting the remarkable phenomena
that were imputed to them. Where physical organs are used, the public is
prone to deem the performances intentional acts by those whose forms are
operated, while yet the wills of those whose forms are visibly concerned
in marvelous works may have been formerly, as they often now are, little
else than unwilling, and in many cases unconscious tools.

The afflicted--in other words, the bewitched ones--may have actually
perceived,--they no doubt often did,--and also knew, that the annoyances
and tortures they endured were augmented, if not generated, by emanations
proceeding forth from the particular persons whom they named as being
their afflicters; and these afflicters may have been all unconscious that
their own auras were going forth and acting upon the sufferers.

The chief non-intelligent instrumentality employed in producing
miraculous, spiritualistic, necromantic, and other kindred marvels, is now
generally called psychological force--force resident in and put forth from
and by the soul--from and by the will and emotional parts of a living
being; it is the force by which some men control with magic power not only
many animals in the lower orders, but some susceptible members of their
own species; it is a force deep-seated in our being, and may accompany man
when he leaves his outer body, and continue to be his in an existence
beyond the present.

The usurping capabilities of this force were strikingly set forth by the
illustrious Agassiz in his carefully written account of his own sensations
and condition while in a mesmeric trance induced upon him by Rev. Chauncy
Hare Townshend. The great naturalist--the strong man both mentally and
physically--says that he lost all power to use his own limbs--all power to
even _will_ to move them, and that his body was forced against his own
strongest possible opposition to pace the room in obedience to the
mesmerizer's will. Since such force overcame the strongest possible
resistance of the gigantic Agassiz, it is surely credible that less robust
ones, in any and every age, may have been subdued and actuated by it.--See
page 385, in _Facts of Mesmerism, 2d Ed. London, 1844, by Rev. Chauncy
Hare Townshend_.

Those who were accused of bewitching others were fountains from which
invisible intelligences sometimes drew forth properties which aided them
in gaining and keeping control of those whom they entranced or otherwise
used. Also from such there probably sometimes went forth unwilled
emanations that were naturally attracted to other sensitives, who
perceived their source, and pronounced it diabolical, because the influx
thence was annoying. Impersonal natural forces to some extent, and at
times, probably designated the victims who were immolated on witchcraft's

Citations of evidences and proofs from early historic records, that other
agents and forces had chief part in producing New England witchcraft than
such as modern historians generally have recognized, together with
exposition of legitimate and forceful biases proceeding from articles in
old-time creeds, will exhibit our forefathers in much better aspects than
they wear in intervening history; will halo in innocence some of their
wives and daughters, around whom historians have cast hues appropriate
only to most villainous culprits; and also will manifest sadly misleading
oversights, short-comings, and sophistries by some whose writings have
done much in forming the world's existing erroneous and harsh views and

Certain operative, world-wide, and daily occurrences in the present age,
unaccounted for, and often sneered at, by adepts in prevalent sciences and
philosophies, seem to have fair claims for general, candid, and most rigid
scrutiny. Even if despised and contemned of men, they nevertheless are
widely and most efficiently working for the world's good or for its harm.
Testimony to their positive existence is vast in amount, and much of it
comes from witnesses whose words upon any ordinary matters would be
absolutely conclusive.

Something more than twenty-five years ago, mysterious raps on cottage
walls and furniture were traced to cause which, while invisible and
impalpable, could count TEN. A trifle, was that? No; for its teachings and
influences have gone forth widely, and have worked efficiently. They have
broadened nature's domain as conceived of by man, have opened up to him
new fields of study, and have furnished him with a vast amount of new
views and speculations, which are permeating creeds, philosophies,
sciences, explanations of history, and most things appertaining to the
welfare of civilized society. Well may they have thus efficiently
operated, for they have claimed to be, and their potency indicates that
they have been, moved onward by forces greater than pertain to incarnate

Raps by invisible rappers; liftings of tables, pianos, &c., by invisible
lifters; music flowing forth from pianos, harmonicons, and other
instruments having no visible manipulators; pencils writing legibly,
instructively, eloquently, when no visible hand held and moved them;
levitations of tables and human forms; transfer of books and other
objects from one side of rooms to the opposite by invisible carriers;
hands of flesh grasping and holding live coals of fire with impunity;
raisings of human forms from floor to ceiling overhead, and holding them
there by invisible beings; impressions of recognized likenesses of
departed mortals upon the plates of photographists; presentation of moving
and palpable hands and arms where no body is present for their attachment;
materialization of entire forms of the departed, and the speaking and
moving of the re-clad ones so exactly as in life as to be distinctly and
unmistakably recognized by their surviving relatives and familiar
acquaintances;--these phenomena, and many others kindred to them, admit of
being, and we ask that they may be, viewed apart from any and all verbal
or written communications by spirits, and apart from the character,
standing, and habits of spiritualists. Such presentations as have just
been specified may be looked upon as a class by themselves, and as being
worthy the attention and closest scrutiny of devotees to the physical
sciences and all logical minds. Even though they have emerged into view
from a modern Nazareth, the obscurity of their place of issuance is not
conclusive against their virtue to enlighten man, and broaden the extent
of human knowledge.

When, in days to come, some abler and more polished pen shall apply, in
the solution of witchcraft marvels, a theory that shall be based on the
classes of agents, forces, &c., which are now evolving modern marvels, its
fitness and adequacy will attract wide attention, and command general
acceptance. Our work, of course, will fall far short of such results, for
he who here writes possesses no commanding powers,--never had much taste
for historical and antiquarian researches,--has for many years last past
found himself much, very much, more prone to be seeking for mental and
moral wealth in oncoming than in receded times,--possesses only moderate
skill and less than moderate facility in literary composition,--has spent
the greater part of adult life in pursuits which debarred him not only
from much perusal of books either historical, literary, or scientific, but
also from much converse with well-cultured society. Therefore,
necessarily, his whitened locks and waning forces find him consciously
deficient in nearly every qualification for either a good historian or
good expounder and applier of any theory pertaining to profound and
intricate subjects involving occult agents and forces.

Then why write? Perhaps vanity is strong among our motives. Nearly as far
back as memory can take us, we heard from a grandfather's lips accounts of
what his grandfather and others did and suffered when witchcraft raged in
our native parish, and threatened trouble to those occupying the house in
which we were born and reared. From boyhood onward the subject has never
been new to us. We received an early impression, and since have ever felt,
that works more than mortals could perform had transpired there. But who
the workers could have been was long a doleful mystery. Their doings made
them far from pleasant objects of contemplation. In common with most other
natives of the place, we formerly were very willing that the dark matter
should slumber in obscurity--were indisposed to draw attention to its
aspects and character.

But not so in later years. Most people on the spot, however, now are
probably averse to its consideration. Less than three years ago, a parish
committee of arrangements were very solicitous that this dismal subject
should receive very little notice at their bi-centennial celebration.
Their wishes and ours differed widely. What courtesy withheld them from
forbidding, courtesy withheld us from doing extensively. We just opened
there; and now, in continuance, here say that we longed then, on the spot
where he was born, to wash off from their most notorious child much black
dye-stuff in which the world has dipped him, and let them look upon a
fairer complexioned and more estimable personage than they have deemed
that far-famed native. We are vain enough to hope, that, in this
continuance of our speech, we shall adduce facts and views which will
present Salem witchcraft in new and less dismal aspects, and dispel what
seems to dwellers where it transpired a "cloud of darkness." Aside from
vanity, we have been moved by definite desire to give both the people of
Danvers and many others, opportunity to learn facts and truths as yet
perceived by only a few, which give a character to the great witchcraft
scene, vastly less disreputable to those concerned in it than does such as
has been presented by prior expounders, and extensively accepted as
plausible by the public. Teachings of spiritualism have luminated the
places where witchcraft has been sent to slumber; and facts now come into
view which reveal beneficent results where none but baneful ones have been
apparent. Perhaps willingness to show that spiritualism has been an
illumining force to us, and may be so to others, has place among our

Opportunities for studying spirit manifestations came in the writer's way
more than twenty years since, and have been recurring quite steadily down
to the present hour. Release, long ago, from cramping mill-horse rounds of
professional life and thought, and consequent freedom to live and move
relatively aloof from annoyances and fears which known or suspected
attention to unpopular and tabooed matters is apt to bring, permitted him
to be a more open, avowed, persistent, and studious observer of these
marvelous works than could most other persons _comfortably_, who had spent
early years in academic and collegiate halls. Unhampered by dread of
slurs, innuendoes, hints, or growls from either parishioners, patients, or
clients, he sought, found, and strove to use thoughtfully, critically, and
religiously, extensive and many varied and often very favorable
opportunities for estimating the force and value of alleged evidences and
proofs that we, all of us, are ever living in the midst of agents, forces,
conditions, faculties, powers, and susceptibilities, acting upon or
residing in ourselves and our neighbors, which common observation and
science have not generally recognized. Thus, as he judges, clews have been
acquired to such knowledge as promises, in days not distant, to furnish
not only a solution of ancient witchcraft that will stand the tests of
time and common sense, but cause human physical science to bring within
its embrace agents and forces which have heretofore escaped its
recognition. The varied phenomena of spiritualism, witchcraft, and miracle
are all _within_ nature.

Modern spiritualism, fraught, and all alive, as it is, with evidences, and
some sensible _proofs positive_, of a future life, is to-day more
efficient in retaining faith among thinking men that a life beyond awaits
them, than any and all other forces in operation, or that man can apply.
Science--yes, an advanced _science_, based on observed, proved, and
provable facts of spiritualism, ancient and modern--is the only power we
see that can stay the hope-crushing inroads of the bald materialism which
is now dogging the advancing steps of physical science and liberal culture
throughout enlightened Christendom.

Perception of strong indications, more than twenty years ago, that keen
intelligence wielding strange power was evolving before human senses,
raps, table-tippings, and the like,--which intelligence, if properly
invoked and treated, might become one's helpful teacher,--induced the
author to use as well as possible each occurring opportunity for
increasing his acquaintance with the strange visitants, not doubting that
in the end he should gain wherewith to instruct and benefit both himself
and his fellow-men, enough, and more than enough, to richly compensate for
whatever loss of caste, favor, or reputation his course might occasion.
During his well-meant, protracted, and reverential searchings along the
faintly twilighted borders of spirit-land, ever and anon he has been
catching glimpses of laws, forces, conditions, and agents, which
earth-born beings--the embodied and the disembodied--can, and limitedly
now do, conjointly use for reciprocal communings, and for mutual helps
toward improvement, elevation, and bliss--for social, intellectual, moral,
and religious growth. He means _mutual_; for those who have escaped from
the flesh are helped by intercommunings with mortals. The reward is ample.

His immediate topic is only witchcraft; but light which he seeks to make
bear on that, penetrates below all perceptible phenomena, down to the
question which underlies all others pertaining to man's highest interest,
viz., Does _animism exist_? Or, in other words, is there in nature, or in
God, or anywhere, an animating principle, which, having had
individualizing connection with an organized material form, will retain
its consciousness and individuality after that connection shall have been
dissolved? Who but visible or audible spirits, proving themselves to be
such, can give decisive response to that momentous question? Who but they
can stop the advance of and effectually cripple that growing materialistic
faith which laughs at and tramples over everything save
_demonstration_,--demonstration either scientific or sensible,--but is at
once and permanently palsied when it encounters that? Man knows of none
else who can.

The world as yet is little conscious of the real nature, power, and worth
of spiritualism, or of its own need of help obtainable from no other
perceptible source. Therein lies enfolded not only charity and justice for
our remoter fathers, and correction for later commentators upon them,
which may be brought forth and applied in the present work, but also
PROOFS of man's survival beyond the tomb.

Threescore years and twelve are saying, Spend no more time in general
preparation for your labors, because dangers yearly thicken that your
perishing outer man must forever leave undone what it fails to accomplish
soon. Your future "footprints on the sands of time" will be but few;
therefore now start in right direction, and, as best you can, mark the
path you travel, and thus give some guidance to future wayfarers
journeying toward the goal at which you aim, but lack power to reach.


BOSTON, 426 Dudley Street


The principal works quoted from and referred to in the following pages,

SALEM WITCHCRAFT, edited by S. P. Fowler, of Danvers; H. P. Ives and A. A.
Smith, Salem, 1861. This furnished the citations from Calef, and most of
those from Cotton Mather. References are to this edition.

HUTCHINSON'S HISTORY OF MASSACHUSETTS. Boston edition 1764 and 1767.


WOODWARD'S HISTORICAL SERIES, embracing Annals of Witchcraft in New
England by Samuel G. Drake, furnished the citations from Drake.

was the source of extracts from W. F. Poole.


A subject mysterious as ours will need for its ready comprehension some
general knowledge of the imputed attributes and doings of witchcraft's
special DEVIL, and of supposed aids and hindrances to his getting access
to the visible world; also of demonology and necromancy, of biblical witch
and witchcraft, of Protestant Christendom's witch and witchcraft, of
spirit, soul, and mental powers, of miracle, spiritualism, Indian worship,
and the like. Therefore we wrote out brief dissertations upon those
subjects, with a view to have them constitute an opening chapter. But they
are somewhat dry, and would, perhaps, keep many readers back from less
thought-taxing pages longer than their pleasure will permit. Therefore we
postpone presentation of what usually is placed in front, at the same time
advising each one who desires to read this work as advantageously as
possible, to turn first to our Appendix.

In form of definitions, at the close of the dissertations, we placed a
summary of some past conceptions, designing thus to indicate, compactly,
special stand-points for explanation of witchcraft, on which some of our
predecessors have severally taken position. We insert it here.



    DEVIL, or SATAN. Any opponent or antagonist, whether seen or unseen.

    WITCH. Employer of mysterious acquisitions in teaching _heresy_.

    WITCHCRAFT. Using mysterious acquisitions in teaching _heresy_.

_By Cotton Mather._

    DEVIL. Heaven-born, fallen, mighty, malignant; and yet _dependent on
    human help_ to act upon physical man or anything material.

    WITCH. A _covenanter_ with the devil.

    WITCHCRAFT. Helping or employing the devil to do harm--either.

_By Robert Calef._

    DEVIL. Heaven-born, fallen, mighty, malignant; but _independent of
    man_ in action upon this world.

    WITCH. Seducer of men from worship of God "_by any extraordinary

    WITCHCRAFT. "Maligning and impugning the word, work, or worship of
    God, and by any extraordinary sign seeking to seduce men from worship
    of Him."

_By Thomas Hutchinson._

    DEVIL. (None, as witchcraft enactor.)

    WITCH. (_By inference._) A woman possessing "a malignant touch," or "a
    crabbed temper," or being "a poor wretch" or "bed-ridden;" also, "a
    cunning child."

    WITCHCRAFT. Producing "pains," "nausea," &c. Scolding, playing tricks.

_By C. W. Upham._

    DEVIL. (Not specially concerned in witchcraft.)

    WITCH. (_By inference._) Subject acted upon by a girl or woman trained
    in a school for practice "in the wonders of necromancy, magic, and

    WITCHCRAFT. Suffering from the tricks and malicious purposes of girls
    schooled in magic.

_By us._

    DEVIL. (Not specially concerned.)

    WITCH. A medium or a human being whose body becomes at times the tool
    of some finite, disembodied, intelligent being, or whose mind senses
    knowledge in spirit land.

    WITCHCRAFT. The manifestation of supernal knowledge, force, and
    purposes through a borrowed or usurped mortal form; or the giving
    utterance to knowledge sensed in through one's spiritual organs of

Our purpose is to adduce strong evidences from the primitive records of
American marvels, that lesser beings than the devil of Mather and Calef,
and more powerful ones than the operators designated by Hutchinson and
Upham, were actual performers of the principal manifestations that have
been known as witchcrafts. Those whom we shall present were earth-born, on
either this planet or some other, had previously passed out from
encasements of flesh, but obtained control of and actuated physical forms
belonging to embodied children, women, and men. Such beings, graduates
from earths, are as varied in character and purposes as the survivors on
their native planets, as varied as mortals are to-day. They may have
ranged in character from dark devils up to bright angels, and have come,
and gone, and operated by natural, though occult, forces and processes;
they being as free to use such as we are the forces and implements of
external nature. Many of our positions will be based upon psychological
powers and susceptibilities which are far from being generally known to
pertain to man; and we may fail to keep always within the bounds of things
credible to-day, but yet shall never consciously go further than observed
or credited facts will sustain us. If successful, we shall show that
benighted man formerly, in good conscience, made certain events fearful
curses, which, when rightly understood and used, may become gladdening and
rich boons to mortals.


Brief notice of several authors to whom the present age is indebted for
knowledge of most of the facts and beliefs which will be presented in the
following pages, may be appropriate here. Their competency, traits, and
circumstances, as inferred chiefly from their writings pertaining to
witchcraft, are all, or nearly all, which we propose to state.

Two of these who lived in witchcraft times, a third in an intervening
century, and a fourth in our own age, viz., Cotton Mather, Robert Calef,
Thomas Hutchinson, and Charles W. Upham, will severally be noticed,
because their works have been specially instructive and suggestive, and
have had very much influence in shaping public opinions and conclusions in
reference to the mysterious matters under consideration. Each of the
above-named authors either lacked, or failed to use, some light which is
now available for disclosing contents in vailed recesses of nature--light
beginning to shine in where darkness long brooded, and to elicit thence
such knowledge as promises to show that the theories of most witchcraft
expounders have been such as now may be, and should be, superseded by more
broad, sound, and philosophical ones.

The writings of the first two named above are eminently important, because
they disclose very distinctly many highly operative beliefs and methods
which were prevalent when marked witchcraft phenomena were actually
transpiring, but are obsolete now. We cannot, perhaps, do better than
forthwith present those two combatants, Mather and Calef, in actual
conflict over the last described case of seventeenth century obsession.
Out of this case came open conflict, in the very days when such marvels
were living occurrences. Further on we may notice these two men, _as men_,
more particularly. Here we take them as contestants about phenomena
attendant upon Margaret Rule in 1693; hers, the last of our cases to
occur, will come first under our inspection. Our quotations will be mostly
from the earlier pages of "SALEM WITCHCRAFT," edited by S. P. Fowler.


In 1693, Mather wrote an account of afflictions which Margaret Rule, of
Boston, then about seventeen years old, began to endure on the 10th of
September of that year. This production drew forth the first open shot at
the then prevalent definitions of witchcraft--at the assumed source of
power to produce it--at the adopted methods of proceedings against it, and
at treatment of persons on whom that crime was charged.

Robert Calef, called a merchant of the town, either listened to statements
or received written ones, made by other persons who had been present with
Mather around this afflicted girl at her home during some scenes which the
latter had described, or he was himself a witness there. From data early
obtained he furnished a version of the case which disparaged the
minister's account, and questioned the propriety of some of his
proceedings. Calef's was in itself a rather meager production, not putting
forth the whole or even the main facts in the case, but indicating that in
this, that, and the other particular, Mather had misstated or overstated,
and that some of his own acts might be indelicate or improper. This
production so incensed Mather that he openly pronounced Calef "the worst
of liars," threatened him with prosecution for slander, and actually
commenced legal proceedings against him.

In a subsequent letter, September 29, Calef respectfully asked Mather for
a personal interview in the presence of two witnesses, in order that they
might discuss and explain. Mather intimated willingness to comply with the
request, but dallied, till Calef, November 24, sent a second letter, in
which, rising at once above the comparatively trifling question whether
himself or Mather had furnished the more accurate and better report, he
grappled with fundamental questions pertaining to the devil, witchcrafts,
and possession, and set forth distinctly some points which, in his
judgment, needed discussion then; for on them he dissented from Mather,
and probably from a majority of the people amid whom he was living. In
much of that letter, Calef, or whoever composed it, manifested
discriminating intellect, clear perception of his points, firm will,
together with strong desire and purpose to labor earnestly for
acquisition of knowledge by which either to convince himself that his own
positions were unsound, or to better qualify himself to reform some
prevalent faiths and practices. The Bible was his magazine, and
implements, weapons, or stores from any other source he deemed it unlawful
to use for defining, detecting, or punishing witchcraft. Bowing to the
Scriptures in unquestioning submission, he took them as guide and
authority. In the outset, frankly and definitely stating his own belief,
he, in an apparently manly way, sought manly discussion.

He believed, page 62, that "there are _witches, because the Scriptures
plainly provide for their punishment_." The only known definition of
_witchcraft_ that to him seemed based upon and fairly deduced from the
Scriptures, was "a maligning and oppugning the word, work, or worship of
God, and, _by any extraordinary sign_, seeking to seduce from it." He
believed "that there are possessions, and that the bodies of the possest
have hence been not only _afflicted_, but _strangely agitated_, if not
_their tongues improved_ to foretell futurities; and why not _to accuse
the innocent_ as bewitching them? having _pretense to divination_ ... this
being reasonable to be expected from _him who is the father of lies_."
This witchcraft assailant, therefore, was a protestant not against belief
that the father of lies sometimes _possessed, afflicted, and strangely
agitated human beings, and also controlled their tongues to prophesy, to
accuse the innocent, and to pretend divination_. His protest was against
unscriptural definition of witchcraft, and against those kinds of
evidence, rules, and methods used for its detection, proof, and
punishment which made his age pronounce guilty and execute many who could
not possibly be found guilty of that crime, where its scriptural
definition was adhered to. He was not a disbeliever in witchcraft of some
kind, nor of action upon men by some invisible intelligences in his own
day. He and Mather both were believers in witchcraft outwrought by
supernals, but differed as to what might or might not constitute it, and
therefore, also, as to the extent of the prevalence of the genuine
article. Calef seemingly believed in _possessions_,--that is, in control
by spirits of some quality,--but was unwilling to concede that such
control was _witchcraft_, as many people at that day did, though Mather
may not have been one among them _abidingly_.

The pith of Calef's definition of witchcraft was, _seduction of men from
the worship of God by manifestation of extraordinary signs_; while Mather
said, _covenanting with the devil made one a witch_, and co-operative
action with _him_ in harming men constituted _witchcraft_. The former
demanded evidences of seduction of men away _from worship of God_, while
the other could rest on evidences of _visible harm to man_; therefore
Mather found cases of witchcraft much more abundant than Calef was
required to or would.

Another practically important item on which they differed was the
immediate source of the devil's power to act upon visible man and matter.
Calef claimed that "it is _only the Almighty_ that ... can commissionate
him to hurt or destroy any;" while Mather said, "I am apt to think that
the devils are seldom able to hurt us in any of our exterior concerns
without a commission _from our fellow-worms_.... Permission from God for
the devil to come down and break in upon mankind must oftentimes be
accompanied with a commission from _some of mankind itself_."

Both of them conceded a commission by God to the devil. But we doubt
whether his commission was ever more special than that which every created
being, in either material or spiritual abodes, constitutionally holds at
all times, to avail himself of whatever natural laws or forces his
inherent powers and attending circumstances enable him to control. Words
are often used which obscure proper, if not intended, meaning. Commission
from God means no more than constitutional capabilities to perform at
times certain specified things when conditions and circumstances favor
command of natural forces. That special powers are often conferred upon
mortals by some supernal beings whose recipients are prone to ascribe the
gifts to _omnipotence_ is obviously true; though their increased abilities
are only bestowments by finite invisibles.

_What_ witchcraft was, and _who_ commissioned the devil, whether God alone
or God and man jointly, were the two most prominent questions about which
those contestants differed. They agreed that the devil enacted both
witchcraft and possession, but Calef's beliefs necessarily caused him to
regard vast many cases as only simple possession, which Mather could, if
he saw fit, regard as witchcrafts; and he sometimes seemingly did, when
called to act publicly in connection with them. Mather at home and Mather
abroad were not always in harmony.

Without designing, either here or subsequently, to make full presentation
of the case of Margaret Rule, we shall freely adduce many parts of the
record of it as helps in exhibiting leading positions and traits
pertaining to the parties who crossed intellectual swords over them.

Mather states, page 29, that "upon the Lord's day, September 10, 1693,
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. A miserable woman who had been
formerly imprisoned on the suspicion of witchcraft, and who had frequently
cured very painful hurts, ... had, the evening before Margaret fell into
her calamities, _very bitterly treated her, and threatened her_." That
briefly antecedent treatment of her by a person who "had frequently cured
very painful hurts," and therefore, and for other acts perhaps, been
accused of witchcraft, is very important in its psychological indications,
and is worthy of being borne along in the reader's memory. The wonderful
_curing of painful hurts_--that is, her beneficence--had caused her

"The young woman," continues the reporter, "was assaulted by eight cruel
specters, whereof she imagined that she knew three or four." She was
careful, under charge from Mather, "to forbear blazing their names," but
privately told them to him; and he says, "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 on the earth." Specters
known by her might, in some connections, mean persons whom she had known
before their death, whose spirits now became visible; but since she gave
the names of living persons as being then seen, it is obvious that she did
not regard her tormentors _as bona fide spirits_, but only effigies
manufactured, presented, and vitalized by the devil.

The psychologist will not overlook the fact that persons whose specters
were here presented were such as had in some way previously aroused
suspicion that they were witches. It was imprudent at that day to "blaze
names," because of very prevalent belief that the devil could present the
specters of none who had not made a covenant with him, and the bare fact
of annunciation by a witched person that she saw the specter of any
individual whatsoever, was then conclusive proof to many minds that the
said individual had made covenant with the evil one, and therefore was a
witch, and must be put to death. Mather cautioned the girl not to give
names to the crowd around her bed, "lest any good person should come to
suffer any blast of reputation." Neither Mather nor Calef denied the
devil's power to bring forth apparitions of the _innocent_; and neither
reposed full confidence in or justified the use of spectral testimony
generally, though very many people in those days did. The point we desire
to mark is this: that Mather's account is in harmony with modern
observation in giving indications that spirits, apparitions, or
appearances of highly mediumistic persons are more frequently seen than
those of unimpressible ones--if such are not, and we believe it is so--the
class generally thus presented:--such persons, that is, the mediumistic,
are more frequently than others seen by the inner or clairvoyant eye. This
fact begets at least conjecture, that it is probably psychological law,
and not the devil's or any one's else _choice_, which determines who shall
or may be seen as specters. Persons seen in this case had previously
manifested powers or acts which caused them to be regarded as witches.
Around most persons, who in the sequel of these pages shall be found
appearing as specters and as bewitching and tormenting others, will be
found signs that they were very like such as to-day are called mediums.

"They presented a book and demanded of her that she should set her hand to
it, or touch it at least with her hand, as a sign of her becoming a
servant of the devil;" upon her refusal to do that, they confined "her to
her bed for just six weeks together." True answer to the question whether
an accused one had signed the devil's book or not, was eagerly sought for
in all trials for witchcraft, because if such signature had not been made
by the person on trial, he or she _might_ be innocent; while if it had
been, guilt was already consummated, and death was deserved.

"Sometimes there looked in upon the young woman a short and a black man,
whom they (the specters) called their master. They all professed
themselves vassals of this devil, ... and in obedience to him, ... she was
cruelly pinched with invisible hands, ... and the black and blue marks of
the pinches became immediately visible unto the standers by.... She would
every now and then be miserably hurt with pins, which were found stuck
into her neck, back, and arms.... She would be strangely distorted in her
joints and thrown ... into convulsions." Such things are stated as facts,
and were not contested in the day of their occurrence--not even by Robert

"From the time that Margaret Rule first found herself to be formally
besieged by the specters, until the ninth day following, namely, from
September 10th to the 18th, 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; during all this time ... 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."

Protracted fastings without consequent exhaustion have been common with
the mediumistic in all ages. Moses, Elijah, Jesus, each fasted forty days;
many mediums in our midst are often sustained for long periods by
absorptions of nutriment in its elemental state into the inner or spirit
organism, from that invisible storehouse of food from which trees obtain
much sustenance, and whence once came loaves and fishes in Judea; from the
inner thus fed, the outer man receives supplies; at least, spirits state
such to be the process.

"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 afterward found that at that very
time this young man, having been prest 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 to the water." This
account, if taken literally, reveals her prescience of a definite
approximating event, also knowledge of the person whom it threatened, the
place where it would act, while neither outward perceptions nor any
embodied mortals could help her to such knowledge. It is not stated that
either the outer or inner set of her perceptive organs directly sensed
danger tending towards the young man. The report of her words is that "the
specters threatened the drowning;" from this it seemingly follows that her
inner sense, either of hearing or of vision, learned either the intention
of spirit beings to purposely expose a particular man to danger, or they
saw the oncoming of danger to him, and spoke of it to her.

This occurrence through the impressible girl was left unnoticed by Calef;
his silence approximates to concession that the main facts here stated
were not refutable in his day.

"Once," continues the narrator, "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." That statement is distinct and needs no comment here, but may
receive further notice when we shall adduce the attestation of other
personal witnesses to its actual truth.

Again Mather says, "The enchanted people have talked much of a _white_
spirit from whence they have received marvelous assistances, ... by such a
spirit was Margaret Rule now visited. She says she never could see his
face, but that she had a frequent view of his bright, shining, and
glorious garments; he stood by her bedside continually heartening and
comforting her, and counseling her to maintain her faith and hope in
God.... 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." Hers was very strange experience to outflow from
_delirium tremens_. It seems to us very much more like inflowings of
heavenly peace from vision of the blessed. Obviously at times there
flashed forth glorious brightness during witchcraft's dismal night.

Mather stated these and some other very significant facts, which Calef
omitted to grapple with or to gainsay in his version of the scenes.
Omitting to extract more from Mather, we will now look at Calef's account.
He commences a letter to Mather in which, referring to his own previous
production, he says, "having written '_from the mouths of several
persons_,' who affirm they were present with Margaret Rule the 13th
instant, her answers, behavior, &c." Calef therefore probably was not
himself a witness of the scenes he described; but received his account
from the mouths of several other persons. One of them apparently wrote,
and Calef, adopting the statement, says, "I found her of a healthy
countenance, about seventeen years old, lying very still and speaking but
very little." Soon the Mathers (father and son, Increase and Cotton) came
in. The son shortly began to question Margaret and get replies. Their
colloquy was commonplace mostly, and need not be quoted; but some things
then _done_ we shall notice.

Margaret went into a fit, and Cotton Mather "laid his hand upon her face
and nose, but, as he said, without perceiving any breath. Then he brushed
her on the face with his glove, and rubbed her stomach, and bid others do
so too, and said it eased her; then she revived." Shortly again she "was
in a fit," and was again rubbed. "Margaret Perd, an attendant, assisted
Mather in rubbing her. The afflicted spake angrily to her, saying, 'Don't
you meddle with me,' and hastily put away her hand. He then wrought his
fingers before her eyes."

Such things, presumably, were stated correctly as matters of fact
observed. Were these doings by Mather foolish and useless? Different
persons will answer variously. In the eyes of most New England people
to-day, they may seem to be so. In part they appear to us ill judged and
harmful, though well meant and partially productive of the effect desired.
When Mather could perceive no breath, he naturally became solicitous to
set her lungs in motion, and by his rubbings probably soon accomplished
that. The observations of many moderns have taught them to welcome, at
times, stoppage of the external breathings of good mediums, deeming that
indicative of free, but imperceptible, breathing by the inner lungs, which
process sustains the person physically, while the spirit roams and
recreates in spirit-land. Yes, to _welcome_ it, as watchers by the
restless sick welcome the advent of sleep to the sufferers. Once we
probably should have acted, in like circumstances, much as Mather did; but
now we might often leave such a patient unacted upon for a time, even
though breathless to our external perception, because of belief that
action like Mather's might be as unwise as would the awakening of a sick
one immediately after the commencement of a nap. His motions of the
fingers around her eyes might tend to produce the same effect; that is, to
draw her out of a state of _rest_ and joy, provided the outer breathing
was imperceptible. Rubbings and motions of the hands, however, are often
very serviceable in removing influences which are distressing, whenever
the entranced one is conscious externally, as Margaret probably was in the
_second_ fit, but perhaps not in the first. For in the second she detected
difference between influences upon her from Mather and those from Miss
Perd; the former were agreeable and welcome, the latter annoying and
offensive. Systems sensitive enough to detect the qualities and influences
of magnetic emanations from all human beings, yes, all animals and most
minerals, that come in contact with themselves, are greatly soothed by
absorption of unconscious properties from some, and irritated by those
from others, though their esteem, respect, or affection for each class be
the same. Qualities of emanations are, to considerable extent, independent
of either intellectual, moral, or emotional states. A babe or simpleton
may be the best of anodynes, while the cultured saint may be an irritant
to a sensitive medium.

"He put his hand on the clothes over her breast, and said he felt a living
thing." Perhaps he did. In our day we hear of such presentations as
semblances of small living animals around mediums; but personally, have
not seen or felt such.

"Soon after they" (the ministers) "were gone, the afflicted desired the
_women_ to be gone, saying that the company of the _men_ was not
offensive to her." There is not general popular knowledge, that the
magnetisms of all animals are as distinctly male in one sex and female in
the other, as are any of their organs, nor that to very sensitive persons
there come times and states when their own magnetisms hunger for food from
magnetisms of opposite genders. Some sensitives feel the action of finer
laws and forces than men detect in their normal condition.

"She learned that there were reports about town that she was not
afflicted. And some came to her as spies; but during the said time" (of
their visit) "she had no fit." Few anti-spiritualistic asseverations are
more frequently put forth than this; that manifestations rarely occur in
the presence of certain persons deemed specially competent to detect fraud
and imposture, and who visit mediums for the purpose of exposing them.
Unbelief was once a bar to manifestation of many marvels by Jesus of
Nazareth. Also it much obstructs their presentation to-day; and probably,
therefore, might have done so when emanating from spies and would-be
exposers around Margaret Rule. But "they can't," is perhaps often said of
spirits when "they won't," would more accurately describe the fact. As at
the Albion in 1857, they would manifest before press reporters, but not
before Harvard professors. They know the thoughts of each observer, and
are often pleased to bite the biter; the playfully roguish sometimes find
it fun to catch rogues. "She had no fit" when spies were present.

"The attendants," September 19, "said that Mr. M. would not go to prayer
with her when people were in the room, as they" (he and his father) "did
that night he felt the _live creature_." Peter of old knew what was
conducive to effectual prayer when, at the side of Dorcas, then entranced
to seeming death, he "put the bystanders all forth and kneeled down and
prayed." Mather no doubt had acquired similar knowledge; world-wide
experience and observation teach that quiet and harmony are needful to the
utterance of satisfactory or very helpful prayer.

"Margaret Perd and another said they smelt brimstone. I and others," said
Calef's informant, "_said_ we did not smell any." The wording leaves it
doubtful, perhaps, whether the reporter and his "others," though smelling
brimstone, quizzically said they did _not_, or whether they actually
failed to smell it. If they did not smell the article, their natural,
frank statement would have been, _we did not_. But the wording is, "_we
said_" we did not. Our quotation was not made, however, for the purpose of
making such criticism, but as a text to the following paragraph.

Spirits sometimes have power to produce in the olfactory nerves of many
persons, precisely the sensations which many familiar odors produce. We
have personally been refreshed on several occasions by perception of the
fragrance of pinks, while we were reclining drowsily on a couch in our own
study, no visible person present with us, and no pinks in the vicinity, or
in our thoughts. This has occurred quite as often in dead of winter, as
when the garden was odorous with flowers. Probably such presentations may
be made to some members of a company, while others in the crowd will be
insensible to them. One's non-perception of spirit-born odor, whether
coming from above or below, whether pleasurable or offensive, does not
argue that mere fancy alone acts upon a neighbor who says he smells such.

On the evening of the 13th some one present, seemingly unacquainted with
her habits, put either to a particular person or to the whole company,
this question. "What does she eat or drink?" And, from some unnamed
source, came this response: "She does not eat at all, but drinks _rum_."
Neither the question nor the answer is ascribed to Mather, nor to any one
in particular.

We are surprised that S. P. Fowler, the intelligent, just, and charitable
editor of Salem Witchcraft, said in a foot note, page 57, that "the
affliction of Margaret Rule ... was nothing more than a bad case of
_delirium tremens_;" statements indicative of her good morals and habits
previous to her affliction were right before his editorial eyes on pages
just preceding his note, and nothing is found to her disparagement
excepting that annunciation by some unknown body that she drinks _rum_.
Statements in her favor, and absence of any against her in the original
records, convince us that Fowler's conclusion was rash and not well
founded. Mather says that "she was born of sober and honest parents;" also
that 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_." Habits of that kind,
during six preceding months, were not probable antecedents to _delirium
tremens_; Calef's temptations to have charged bad character for
temperance, had there been facts to sustain him, were probably very
strong; but we have found no evidence that he did so. An informant of his,
when reporting conversation which took place around her, furnished the
question and response, viz.: "What does she eat or drink? Answer. She does
not eat at all, but drinks _rum_." A fact stated by Mather himself
naturally might tempt any wag, inclined to create mirth, to say playfully,
"She eats nothing, but drinks _rum_." He, Mather, informs us that "once,
twice, or so" her "controllers, for her annoyance or distress," allowed
her to take a _spoonful_ of rum. What more common than for attendants to
offer and urge upon a suffering and agonized person any stimulant or
cordial at hand? Nothing. We will allow that Margaret did take "once,
twice, or so" a spoonful of rum; but nothing else that we meet with in the
account of her, gives the shadow of foundation for the charge of _delirium
tremens_. If the charge is true, _delirium tremens_ in that case worked
wonders which it is not accustomed to perform; to tell correctly, when
lying on a bed on shore at night, that danger of drowning was then about
coming upon a particular young man away down the harbor, was an
extraordinary operation for that disease to perform; and still more
extraordinary was it, that such disease lifted the body on which it was
feeding, up in horizontal position to the ceiling overhead, held it there
for minutes, and so firmly that it took several men to pull it down. Do
such feats bespeak their origin in _delirium tremens_? No. Calling it a
case of _delirium tremens_ does nothing toward giving rational explanation
of the marvels attendant upon Margaret. _Rum_ is the name of a very
unsafe guide, and the name, not the thing, deluded the annotator to
inferences useless, entirely useless, as helps to explain such phenomena
as he was engaged in elucidating.

Any weakness, sin, or crime which was not charged upon Margaret Rule by
her cotemporaries, it is uncharitable to allege unqualifiedly against her
now, on the sole basis that in her hours of suffering she drank a few
spoonfuls of rum; and is especially inapropos, when, as is the case here,
the charge gives no help toward accomplishing the very purpose for which
alone it should have been made, namely, as an elucidation of the cause of
such things as how she sensed the danger threatening the absent man, and
how or by whom she was lifted up and sustained.

We shall quote no further from the statements of the two parties, Mather
and Calef, made prior to their coming into distinct conflict. Enough has
been presented to show that Mather stated several facts which, to the mass
of men, must seem astounding--such facts as bespeak performances beyond
what embodied men could enact. The wondrous facts, such as her prophecy of
danger about to wait upon the impressed sailor--her long fast without
pining--her being lifted by invisible force to the ceiling above her, &c.,
constitute the important parts of Mather's narrative of what he personally
witnessed and knew. On the other side, Calef, adopting the account of
unnamed witnesses, omits any allusion to the important facts in the case,
and presents, in the main, different, and relatively, if not absolutely,
trifling accompaniments. Calef was complained of by Mather for
_omissions_. To this Calef replied, "My intelligence not giving me any
further, I could not insert that I knew not." The doings of the Mathers,
and especially of Cotton, much more than the manifestations through and
upon Margaret, were detailed to Calef, and caused him to put forth a very
meager and one-sided manuscript account of this case. The clergyman at
once perceived and felt this, and soon sent his opponent the following

    "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 toward 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 across 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 AVIS."

To the substance of the above, Robert Earle, John Wilkins, and Daniel
Wilkins did subscribe that they could testify. Also Thomas Thornton and
William Hudson testified to having seen Margaret so lifted up "by an
invisible force ... as to touch the garret floor, while yet neither her
feet nor any other part of her body rested either on the bed or on any
other support, ... and all this for a considerable while; we judged it
several minutes."--p. 76.

Before presenting the merchant's comments upon such statements of such
facts, we will name again the special reason why we draw protracted
attention to the two writers, Mather and Calef. They were intelligent and
alert cotemporaries, both in the vigor of manhood probably, for Mather was
about thirty years of age, and Calef lived more than twenty-five years
after the commencement of his controversy; both probably were cognizant of
the main facts pertaining to witchcraft; even during or very shortly after
their occurrence in the family of John Goodwin of Boston in 1688, in Salem
1692, and around both Mercy Short and Margaret Rule in Boston 1693.
Therefore the controversial writings of these two, both well acquainted
with the occurring witchcraft events of their day, but differing
distinctly on many points of belief and policy, become, when used in
connection, our best accessible source for learning what actually occurred
in many witchcraft scenes, what beliefs were prevalent then, what kinds of
evidence for convicting of witchcraft were admissible, and what rules
governed the courts. Because of their value as teachers upon witchcraft,
we desire to have these two men, with their agreements and differings,
clearly comprehended.

The merchant sent to the clergyman the following comment upon the chief
point confirmed by the affidavits of five or six unimpeached witnesses,
viz., the lifting of the girl to the top of the room by invisible power:--

"I suppose you expect I should believe it, and if so, the only advantage
gained is, that what has so long been controverted between Protestants
and Papists, _whether miracles are ceast_, will hereby seem to be decided
for the latter; it being, for aught I can see, if so, as true a _miracle_
as for iron to swim; and the devil can work such miracles."

A statement either more aspersive of its author's own candor, or more
indicative of his thralldom to prejudice, has rarely been made. Either
Calef or some one for him, when treating of the departure of the community
from scriptural interpretation and treatment of witchcraft, when scanning
rules laid down by accredited authors for its detection, and, generally,
when handling creeds, broad principles, and prevalent usages, wielded a
clear, pointed, and forceful pen. But Mather's facts blunted its point and
baffled its powers. Look at their metamorphosis of the logician; he says,
essentially, to his opponent, "If your facts are true, Catholics have the
better of us in our controversy with them as to the continuance of
miracles down to the present day. Your facts, if facts, are miracles, and
we Protestants are wrong. Therefore I will not concede them: if true, they
are "as great a miracle as for iron to swim," and prove the Catholics
right. I won't grant them."

What miracle did he concede that the devil can work? Was it causing iron
to swim? or was it such lifting of Margaret Rule as had been sworn to?
Perhaps we are mistaken, but we think he meant to say that the devil could
lift the girl as described; who, if he had done so, wrought as great a
miracle as God did when he caused the ax-head to swim where the prophet
cast a stick over it. Still such an operation in modern times must not be
avowed, because that would give the Catholic advantage over the
Protestant! Alas for the clear-headed man when facts force him to abandon
the methods of logic, and resort to those of prejudice! Mather's facts
completely stultified Calef in this case.

We cannot doubt--and who will venture to?--that he must have known the
characters for truth and veracity of Avis and his associate witnesses;
must have known the circumstances surrounding, and the state of the public
mind in regard to them; and yet we notice no indication that he attempted
to impeach any of them even in thought. He leaves them entirely unnoticed.
Yes, where even a very slight intimation or covert innuendo in some turn
of expression pointing at either credulity or mental weakness on their
part would have been an argument in favor of his views, nothing of the
kind appears in his writings. He leaves them without
characterization--leaves them unnamed. And since he who obviously must
have known them, and known too how they were generally esteemed, left
their veracity and competency entirely unimpeached, when impeachment would
have been his natural resort, if justifiable,--only blinding, rash, very
rash, prejudice will prompt any one at this day to doubt their fair claim
to be regarded as truthful and competent witnesses. Mather had said that
"once her tormentors pulled her up to the ceiling of the chamber, and held
her there before a numerous company of spectators, who found it as much as
they could all do to pull her down again." Such was the published
statement of a learned and able man, much respected by a large portion of
the inhabitants of Boston, and whose incredulity was not strong enough to
make him distrust the distinct testimony of his own senses. Therefore,
though backed by the testimony of six other witnesses, he is deemed so
credulous by many moderns that his word has little weight with them.
Calef's comments upon the case are jumbled, and not such that we can place
much confidence in the accuracy of our own perception of his meaning; but
he seems to have conceded that the devil possessed power enough to have
lifted the girl, and leaves us privileged to infer his belief in its
possible exercise upon her. That generally clear-headed man's illogical
and confused statement is not the least among marvels attendant upon
witchcraft. He murdered logic when attempting to parry the force of facts
sworn to.

He did not impeach the witnesses. Omission to do that, under the
circumstances, argues more convincingly to us, in favor of the literal and
exact truth of the statement by Mather and six others, that the girl was
raised from her bed by invisible powers up to the ceiling at the top of
the room, than would Calef's own distinct assent to what they affirmed. He
was no _timid_ advocate, and since a man as strong and brave as he,
circumstanced as he was, omitted attempt to discredit either the character
or competency of Mather's backers, the presumption is, that Calef's own
sense of justice and the judgment of the town regarded them as
unimpeachable. The girl was lifted, as they affirmed. What they stated is

We, personally, possess lack of incredulity rivalling that of Mather. For,
when our own senses testify to us calmly and deliberately, under
circumstances which exclude both illusion and delusion, we are accustomed
to repose very much confidence in the truth and accuracy of what they
say; and, in illustration of our lack of incredulity regarding what our
own senses witness, or, if one prefers different phraseology, in
illustration of our credulity, that is, of our ability and willingness to
believe what is thus learned, we give the following account of one of our
own interesting and instructive experiences:--

Several years ago, from fifteen to twenty, in a chamber of the residence
of Daniel Farrar, Esq., Hancock Street, Boston, to which he had invited us
and several others, we clasped the left hand of Rollin H. Squires in our
own right, took position with him in the center of a large room, several
feet distant from any other person or any article of furniture, when,
promptly upon shutting off the gas-light, his hand began to draw ours up,
gently and steadily, till our own right arm, its hand clasping his, was
extended to its full length above our head. Then we moved our left hand
across our chest, and it came in contact with the young man's boot at rest
by our side, and simultaneously we heard a scratch upon the ceiling above,
which was at least ten feet from the floor of the room. Soon he began to
descend as gently as he had ascended, and when he had reached the floor
and light had been let on, we saw a red chalk-mark at least three feet
long on the ceiling over the spot on which we had stood up together. The
mark was not there previous to the extinguishment of the light, for the
whole company present had been informed that he would have chalk in his
hand in order that he might give evidence to all present that he had been
lifted up. Consequently all of us carefully observed the overhead ceiling
up to the extinguishment of the light.

No reluctance attends our publishing such a narrative; we are less
solicitous to win a skeptic's laurels, than to make distinct statement of
any facts pertaining to occult forces in nature, which we have
experimentally learned. O, credulity! Thou art a most beneficent helper to
knowledge of nature's finer laws and forces, especially of those
relatively occult ones which evolve mysteries and exert unrecognized
action upon man; laws and forces which it would benefit him to comprehend
and regard.

Scarcely can history or experience furnish a more striking instance of the
stultifying and bewildering influence of marvelous _facts_ upon a bright,
resolute, philanthropic man, who was kept by his creeds and prejudices
from liberty and ability to let reason and logic have fair play, than was
witnessed in the case of Calef. Facts are man's masters; rebellion against
them, or disregard of their demands, is sure to bring humiliation upon

Calef, whether conscious of it or not, was in an humiliated mental
condition when his strong mind, without denying well-attested facts,
indicated an unwillingness to acknowledge belief of them, because doing so
would settle a long-controverted question adversely to the party which
included himself. Seemingly nonplused and bewildered by facts, he said, in
quasi-concession of their occurrence, "The devil can work such miracles."

Both what Calef said, and what he omitted to say, tend forcibly to produce
conviction that Samuel Avis and his five associate witnesses stated
"truth, and nothing but the truth." Words or statements from men whose
characters were not impeached by a contesting cotemporary, ought to be
accepted as true by those who now can know nothing against the
truthfulness of lips from which they issued.

Had Calef's mind embraced perception that those whom he and nearly all
others then deemed the great devil, and smaller ones,--heaven-born, but
fallen,--were in fact what all clairvoyants, then and in all subsequent
days, have said they resembled,--and what they claimed to be,--that is,
men and women originally earth-born, and then earth-emancipated spirits,
requiring no more special permission from the Omnipotent One than man does
for using the forces of external nature,--could he have perceived that
such beings might be the performers of all the marvelous works of
witchcraft, he would have become free to admit possible solidity in some
Catholic ground; free to have set at least one foot upon it, and having
done that, he could have dispensed with that heaven-born devil whom he
supposed God commissioned, but whom Mather believed man had to help God
commission before he could harass mankind; would have been free to do thus
because he then would have seen possibility that other, lesser, or less
formidable agents have power to work marvels, would have seen that such
could have lifted Margaret Rule, and thus made the words of those who
described their wonderful works credible, and exempted himself from attack
of Mather at points where the striker was greatest sufferer from the

When attacking some barbarous beliefs and customs of Christendom, Calef
was very successful, and became a very great public benefactor; but he
failed, if such was ever his design, to refute the positive occurrence of
such marvelous facts as Mather's descriptions set forth. The general
accuracy of the clergyman's allegations was not made questionable by the
merchant's writings, even though he did present the man himself in some
ludicrous aspects, and often attempted that, when more knowledge of spirit
forces and agents than he possessed would have taught him that future time
might smile at the smiler and the would-be provoker of smiles.


The phases in which the writings of Cotton Mather present their author are
so varied, and the estimation in which he has been held by subsequent
writers is so diverse, that there is difficulty in characterizing him to
one's own satisfaction. He was neither wholly saint, nor wholly sinner;
was not unmingled wisdom, nor all folly. We do not very eagerly undertake
to outline his character. But since, apart from records of courts, his pen
furnished more valuable and more numerous facts pertaining to New England
witchcraft in the seventeenth century than have come down from any other
pen, there seems to be a call upon us to comment upon his competency and
trustworthiness as observer and as reporter or recorder of facts.

In matured life he had become probably the first scholar and most learned
man in the province. His mind was bright, versatile, and active, and its
application to books, to the demands of his profession, and to the
educational, moral, religious, and political interests of the public, was
untiring. His attention was drawn to consideration of marvelous
occurrences while he was quite young, and his records of witchcraft were
nearly _all_ penned by the time he was thirty years old. In 1689, being
then only twenty-six, he published a small work entitled "Memorable
Providences relating to Witchcraft and Possessions."

He was a personal witness and an alert observer, through several
successive months, of a rapid and prolonged stream of marvels, which were
manifested through the children of John Goodwin, of Boston, in 1688, a
long account of which he published quite soon after their occurrence. Four
years later came on the SALEM WITCHCRAFT, and portions of its tragic and
agonizing occurrences were witnessed by this Boston clergyman. He was
present in the crowd around the gallows when several of the wronged
victims to diabolism were executed. And he promptly furnished an extended
account of much which had just intensely agitated and frenzied not only
Salem and Essex County, but the whole province. The next year, 1693,
brought him opportunity to be much with and to observe carefully two
afflicted young, women in Boston, Mercy Short and Margaret Rule, whose
maladies were deemed bewitchments. He recorded his observations and doings
relating to these two persons, and his accounts are available to-day,
though there is evidence rendering it probable that he never prepared
either record for the press, and that both have become public without his

As has been learned from what precedes, Robert Calef, an opponent of some
then prevalent beliefs and practices concerning witchcraft, found means,
whether honorably or not is perhaps debatable, for putting Mather's
account of Margaret Rule before the world. This young woman was under
Mather's special watch for several weeks, while she was being acted upon
by occult agents and forces; and he promptly recorded for perusal by his
friends an account of what transpired around her.

From the foregoing statements it is obvious that, both directly and
indirectly, very many facts and opinions, that will be adduced as our work
proceeds, will have been derived from Mather's records, and will rest, at
least in part, upon his authority. Consequently, his qualifications, as
observer, reporter, and recorder, are matters not only of interest, but of
some importance.

Though young when attentive to witchcraft scenes, Mather was learned and
influential. Probably few other persons, if any, in the colonies were then
his equals in those respects. His duties as a clergyman and a citizen, and
his inclination also, led him to be an extensive observer of marvelous
manifestations; he obviously was a lover of such. And his records show
that he was either a closer observer of the minutiæ of transpiring events
of that nature, or a more willing and careful specifier of little things
pertaining to them, full of important meaning to some readers now, yet
probably meaningless to many others, than were most of his cotemporaries;
though Lawson, Hale, and Willard were good at specification, and were more
cautious commentators than Mather. An ignoring of any participation by
spirits in witchcraft scenes has blinded historians in both the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries to some decided merits in the writings of

The assumption by later commentators that no occurrences whatsoever, which
required more than mortal agency for their production, ever actually
transpired in cases witnessed and described by Mather, has apparently
caused them, consciously or otherwise, to impute to his fancy, credulity,
or other untrustworthy attributes, many things which a moderate
acquaintance on their part with modern manipulations of occult forces by
invisible intelligences would have suggested to them that possibly, and
even probably, his statements of facts were based on positive observations
by his own physical senses, and by the external senses of other observers.
A class of agents are now at work whose cognition may some day turn the
laugh upon overweeningly wise laughers at Cotton Mather. This
circumscribed view as to the actual extent and variety of _natural_
intelligent agents, and _natural_ laws and forces, has caused them to draw
inferences disparaging to Mather's accuracy in places where more knowledge
of the outworkings of laws and forces which spirits obey and use, would
have given them trust in the essential naturalness and consequent probable
occurrence of nearly or quite all the facts stated in his narrative of
personal observations and experiences--we do not say in the pervading
wisdom and value of his comments and inferences, but in the naturalness
and consequent credibility of his _facts_.

Where forlorn and wretched old women, together with tricksy and roguish
girls, and a few low-lived, malicious mortals of both sexes are regarded
as the actual authors of all witchcraft phenomena, Mather's reports of
that class of occurrences are an offense--are a stumbling-block in the
pathway of satisfactory solution. So long as his statements are left
unimpeached, such agents as witchcraft has of late been imputed to are
incompetent to the work ascribed to them. That author, therefore, must
needs be discredited; consequently sneer, and slur, and ridicule have been
brought to bear against his accuracy and trustworthiness. Some modern
commentators have made _savage_ use of such weapons upon this original
describer of witchcraft scenes. He has been by innuendoes caricatured and
metamorphosed to an extent which seems distinctly reprehensible. Brightest
minds may sometimes lack knowledge of some existing agents and forces;
good men may be actual, though unintentional perpetrators of great wrong,
when they depict the characters of some predecessors whose words seem
extravagant to such as limit natural actors and forces to those which the
external senses and human science have long been familiar with.

Our recent readings have led us to regard Mather as a man of more than
common efficiency in acquiring information, and more than common despatch
in putting his acquisitions before the public. We find evidences in his
works that, if he did not acquire, he put forth both more minute and more
extensive knowledge of the marvelous phenomena of his times, than any
other person then living in America of whom we have knowledge. Portions of
his creeds helped him to frankness in description of marvels. His faith
embraced many unseen intelligent agents, both good and bad, moving to and
fro among men, ever walking the earth and influencing its affairs both
"when we wake and when we sleep." Consequently he never had occasion to
inquire whether anything whatsoever was _possible_ which his senses or the
senses of other witnesses seemed to cognize. He doubted not that unseen
powers competent to anything whatsoever were around both him and all other
human beings. His only question was, did the thing occur? If it did, it
was proper to describe it as it appeared to its beholders. _How_ it could
occur was a question which he, as recorder, was not called upon to answer;
and he did not permit it to modify his record. This weakness(?) of his was
fraught with latent strength which becomes beneficent in our day by its
revealing to us the former mysterious irruption upon society of precisely
such _outré_ and seemingly unnatural antics and doings, not only of
animated human forms, but of lifeless household utensils and ornaments, as
we are witnessing. History by him repeats itself to-day, and to-day's
marvels give credibility to his statements. Mather furnished broader and
better bases for judging of the real sources, nature, character, and
extent of witchcraft facts, than we generally get from other persons of
his day. Over-cautious witnesses and reporters often mislead very widely
by failing to tell "the whole truth."

Some of Mather's statements and doings which were slurred even by his
cotemporary Calef, and have been by later writers also, may deserve more
respectful consideration than has usually been accorded to them. We are
alluding to his manipulations of the afflicted, and other like acts. These
indicate that either his observances and care of bewitched persons, or his
intuitions, were giving him hints of the existence of natural laws and
special conditions which permit mortals to loose, what he conceived to
be,--or at least spoke of as being,--the devil's hold upon human
instruments. We apprehend that he had at least vague surmises that some
things which we now call mesmeric passes and psychological forces might be
so applied by himself as to thwart the purposes and powers of possessing
spirits. We are ready to grant that his use of dawning knowledge or of
inflowed suggestions, whichever of them it was that set his own hands in
motion over the obsessed, and prompted him to influence others to do the
like, produced movements so unskillful that they were seldom very
efficacious; yet we perceive that he moved in direction toward later
discoveries which at this day enable many mortals to exercise much power
toward both inducing and abolishing the control of human beings by
disembodied spirits. There hang about Mather slight indications that he
received some knowledge or some impulses, mediumistically, impressionally,
or intuitively. The fact that, though having much to do with both Mercy
Short and Margaret Rule during the months of their affliction in the year
immediately following the executions at Salem, he refrained from advising
or procuring their prosecution, or the prosecution of any whom they named
as their afflictors, the facts that prayers, fastings, manipulations, and
protracted and unflagging kindnesses and attentions, were his only
appliances, and that both the girls were brought back to their normal
condition, speak very distinctly in favor of Mather's sagacity and
philanthropy, in relation to the bewitched and the bewitchers, that year.

Though we are disposed to credit this prominent man with all the merits to
which he has fair claim, we are far from regarding him as without foibles,
weaknesses, and traits fitted to mantle the reader's face with smiles. We
dissent from many of his notions, practices, and beliefs; we find him
often swayed by motives which we are not ready to commend. At the same
time we apprehend that many modern critics have paraded his weaknesses,
blemishes, and laughable traits out of all just proportion to the notices,
if any, which they have taken of his genuine merits.

Mather obviously was vain, egotistical, proud of his descent, greedy of
the favor of great men both of the province and abroad, and was ambitious
of place and influence. But vanity and egotism are not necessarily
incompatible with very extensive learning, nor with great activity and
beneficence, nor with presentation of facts and truths both very fully and
without over-statement or distortion. He wrote hastily--much too hastily,
and loosely oftentimes. More care to verify information and statements
furnished him by other people, and more careful expressions pertaining to
his own observations, experiences, and opinions, would have rendered him a
much more valuable historian than he became. We concede that he was a
loose and immethodical writer; but we fail to find evidence that he often,
if ever, substituted fictions for facts, or made false statements or great
exaggerations. The world is indebted to him for preserving and
transmitting much valuable information.

This man's estimation of himself and of his ancestry often reveals itself
in extent and manner which provoke smiles. Possibly his egotism was
competent to give him a latent notion that quite as much favor might be
vouchsafed by powers above to his two eminent grandfathers, Revs. Richard
Mather and John Cotton, to his father, Rev. Increase Mather, President of
Harvard College, and to himself, as Heaven had in store for any mortals;
and if any one of the four should be the special favorite of supernal
intelligence, why not himself, in whom the blood of the other three was
combined? If any quite honorable Public position was devoid of an
incumbent, or if important literary public service was needed, who was
more competent to fill the one, or to the performance of the other, than
himself? He wrote both for and of Sir William Phips, but was not chosen
President, of Harvard College.

Even egregious egotism is not necessarily incongruous with truth,
kindness, charity, devotion, and great usefulness. With all his faults, we
regard Mather, when compared with most men, as having been very efficient,
well-intentioned, and useful to the community around him. Propensity to
magnify self and whatever self either puts forth or is closely allied to,
may be prevailingly bridled and controlled by other strong inclinations,
and kept within the boundaries of truth. Greed for approbation and
commendation by persons holding high official position, and by all others
whose characters, attainments, or possessions gave them influence in
society, was apparently very strong in Cotton Mather, and the influence of
that greed must generally have swayed him to make no important statements
which would fail to meet, with general credence by his friends and
fellow-townsmen. His account of the Goodwin family is as full of things
hard to be believed as any other portion of his writings; and yet, if he
therein permitted himself to make any other than such statements as would
receive ready credence by many physicians, clergymen, magistrates, and
other influential and truthful persons who had been his fellow-witnesses,
and knew exactly the bounds beyond which he could not go on a basis of
well-observed facts, he would diminish his fame and favor with the public;
and he well knew this. He was not the man to thus put his own reputation
at hazard. His very weaknesses render it probable that he has transmitted
little, if anything, more relating to that family than Boston, as a whole,
was at that time actually believing had just occurred in its midst. It is
not wise, not kind, not just to overlook such characteristics and
circumstances pertaining to a narrator as would naturally hold his speech
within the bounds of credibility. Mather's style and manner, sometimes
admirable, are very often laughable, and are generally loose and
unattractive. But these matters of taste and polish are distinct from his
facts and truthfulness.

Bad manners, lack of tact, also speech, acts, and omissions unbecoming the
gentleman and the divine, mark portions of Mather's treatment of Calef.
Whether such were his general characteristics, we do not know; probably
they were not. Occupation of the pulpit, as we know by personal
experience, may make a preacher exceedingly sensitive to questionings of
his opinions on any important matters anywhere. His habit of speaking,
week after week, year after year, where none question or controvert,
induces extreme sensitiveness in the mental cuticle. If sick and
overworked, Mather may have been easily nettled into other than his usual
manners when Calef pricked him by opposing his beliefs, and by covert
sneers at some of his actions. In his account of Mercy Short he mentions
his impaired health and overworkings.

Unfortunately, as we judge, for his posthumous reputation, Mather was
scribe of a convention of clergymen who met and deliberately put forth
advice to the courts and government pertaining to evidence and processes
which might properly be used at trials for the crime of witchcraft. As
scribe, Mather reduced the opinions of the convention to form for
publication, if he had not previously drawn up his own, and at the meeting
obtained their adoption. Since the advice of this convention has been
extensively regarded as disastrous in its results, Mather has been deemed
an efficient, if not the most efficient of all promoters of the executions
at Salem. We seriously question the justice of such imputation upon him,
and we doubt whether the advice of the convention incited to the special
course of action pursued by the courts, though it partially permitted it,
perhaps. That advice commended "a very critical and exquisite caution ...
_that there may be nothing used as a test for the trial of the suspected,
the lawfulness whereof may be doubted by the people of God_." So far,
good. This, to us at this day, looks like a caution to avoid the admission
of _spectral evidence_, as it was then called, and distinct statement is
made that such evidence alone was not enough to justify conviction; also
it looks like a caution against cruel methods of extorting pleas and
confessions. But the concluding paragraph of their advice, which is in the
following words, _may_ have greatly nullified the softening force of all
that preceded it. "We cannot but humbly recommend unto the government the
speedy and vigorous prosecution of such as have rendered themselves
obnoxious, according to the directions given in the laws of God and
wholesome statutes of the English nation, for the detection of
witchcraft." This advice came forth June 15, 1692, just when the flames of
witchcraft at Salem village had become alarming to the whole community;
when scores of people were under arrest there upon suspicion of
witchcraft, and when the courts were anxiously seeking to know how to
conduct their trials. The advice seems to us somewhat ambidexter, holding
forth in one hand exhortations to caution and leniency, and in the other
an exhortation to make vigorous and prompt application of English
witchcraft laws and usages which permitted and implied resort to most
barbarous processes, and admitted all imaginable sorts of evidence. The
general impression upon our mind, made by our recent readings, is, that
the clergy generally were opposed to much reliance upon spectral evidence,
and that their advice was meant to give that impression; while the civil
_magistrates_ at Salem held a different opinion, acted according to it,
and obtained convictions upon spectral evidence in cases where none other
was attainable. It was the civil magistrates, much more than the clergy,
whose opinions, when embodied in action, outwrought the horrors of
Gallows Hill. Therefore we attach less blame to the scribe of the
convention, and to the convention itself, than many others have done.

Though the belief is wide-spread in the youthful mind of our day that
Cotton Mather was chief begetter of Salem witchcraft, we find no facts to
justify belief that any act of his ever had such intent. His chief acts
known to us which connect him at all with doings there, were his
authorship of the clerical advice just noticed, his presence at the
hanging when Proctor, Willard, Burroughs, and others were executed, when
he said aloud to the multitude which was being incited by a fervent and
touching address from the lips of the doomed Burroughs, "Even the devil
may be changed into an angel of light," and his offer to support five or
six of the afflicted at his own expense for weeks, provided he should be
allowed to treat them by his own preferred process--that of praying and
fasting, and keeping them mostly secluded from public observation.

Unexplained, his presence at the execution may be supposed to argue that
it was one which had attractions for him--one which it was his pleasure to
be present at. But a very rational supposition of Poole places Mather
before us there in a different light. Proctor and others had been hardly
dealt with by the clergy in and near Salem, and, while confined in Boston
jail awaiting the day of execution, they received such attentions from
Mather, that they requested him to be present as their spiritual adviser
at the closing hour of their earthly lives. Statements by Mather, which
his cotemporaries never contradicted, are to the effect that he never
attended any trial for witchcraft, that no one was ever prosecuted for
that crime by him, or at his suggestion, or by his advice; that his voice
and intentional influence were ever against such proceedings. He also
informs us that he made an offer to support five or six of the Salem
sufferers for weeks at his own expense, if he could have them subjected to
his special charge, so that he could treat them by methods of his own.
Such facts surely indicate that an ardent and active man like him, ever
burning to take part in most popular movements, was not in sympathy with
originators of the violent and barbarous proceedings which were prosecuted
at Salem. Had he relished them he would have been present at the trials.
The facts give spontaneous birth to a presumption that some other motive
than curiosity to witness the executions took him to Salem at the time
when we find him there, and the supposition of Poole that he went there as
the comforter and friend of Proctor and Willard is reasonable, and
probably correct. If it be, the motive of his visit was not only
commendable, but was also in harmony with his general doings in witchcraft
cases that were more specially under his supervision, and is in distinct
antagonism with motives which have been extensively imputed to him. We
apprehend, however, that when others obtained convictions and sentences
for witchcraft, he favored the execution of what he deemed wholesome law.

We regret that he rudely broke the spell which the hallowing speech and
prayer of the saintly Burroughs were bringing upon the witnessing crowd.
But we question whether the special reputed crime for which Burroughs was
about to die, caused Mather to allude to him as the _devil_. Burroughs,
though a preacher, had not been regularly ordained, or surely not in a way
that satisfied Mather; also he was too regardless of the ordinances of
religion, and too free a thinker, to suit the taste of the pastor of the
North Church in Boston. This was, we think, his great offense in Mather's
view; and this caused the latter to say in reference to one who may have
been more God-like and Christ-like in spirit than himself, "Even the devil
may be changed into an angel of light." That saying, under its
circumstances, is damaging to Mather; yet it does not bear against him in
matters pertaining to witchcraft, but to those of sectarianism or bigotry.

Mather the _humane_ and Mather the _fame-seeker_ present very different
aspects in their connections with witchcraft. As we view him in cases
where he was leader and director, as those of Mercy Short and Margaret
Rule, matters were so managed that no one was brought to examination upon
suspicion of bewitching them, and Mather's words and acts were uniformly
designed to prevent any arraignment. Prayer, fastings, manipulations, and
all practicable privacy and quiet were his preferred appliances for
closing up the devil's avenues of access, and of barring him off from man.
This was Mather the _humane_, was Mather the _practical pastor_. But when
the courts and men of influence and high position had applied, as they
interpreted them, "the laws of God and the wholesome statutes of the
English nation for the detection of witchcraft," the thirster for public
approbation, not only refrained from protest against bloodshed, but lacked
modesty enough to hold him back from hinting that his own productions
might have helped on the beneficent work which had been accomplished; for
he carefully let the world know that Mr. _Mather, the younger_, drew up
the advice of the ministers to the court; and after having written out an
account of the trials at Salem, he said, "I shall rejoice that God is
glorified, if the publication of these trials may promote such a pious
thankfulness to God _for justice being so far executed among us_," as the
ministers piously expressed in their advice. This was Mather the
fame-seeker, the ecclesiastic, and the subject of their Majesties, William
and Mary. Mather was not a well-balanced man. Consistency all round was
not conspicuous in him, yet he was consistent in his own treatment and
management of all his special patients, and also in his efforts to make it
known that himself might deserve some meed of merit for the murderous
course pursued by the authorities for stopping the ravages of the evil

From early manhood to the close of his life, Mather was an unfaltering
believer in Protestant Christendom's great witchcraft devil, backed by
countless hosts of lesser ones, and he also believed in her special
witchcraft. He had full faith in a devil as ubiquitous, active, and
malignant as his own vigorous and expansive intellect could conjure up;
had faith that extra manifestations of afflictive might, of knowledge, or
of suffering in the outer world were produced by the devil, and faith also
that even that mighty evil one was unable to afflict men outwardly,
excepting either at the call or by the aid of some human servant who had
entered into a covenant with his Black Majesty. The woe-working points of
this man's faith were, that special covenantings with the devil were
entered into by human beings, in consequence of which the covenanting
mortals became witches--that is, they thence became able to command all
his powers, as well as he theirs; also that only through such covenanted
ones could he or his do harm to the bodies and external possessions of
men. Therefore, he reasoned, that, whenever extra and unaccountable
malignant action appeared, some covenanter with the devil must be in the
neighborhood of the malignant manifestation.

And yet, practically, Mather was not disposed to let the public get
knowledge of the covenanter. His choice was, to keep secret the names of
bewitched actors, the afflictors of the suffering ones, and to strive by
prayers, fastings, manipulations, &c., to relieve the unhappy sufferers.
Had his policy been adopted by the public, had his example been widely
followed, there would have been no execution for witchcraft in his

We can--and we are glad that we can--state that Mather's faith embraced
some other invisible beings than malicious ones, who had access to man. In
that respect he probably differed from, and was favored above, most of the
clergy and church members of his times; and perhaps his possession of
faith in the ministry of _good_ angels made him a more lenient handler and
more patient observer of the afflicted, than were most of his
cotemporaries. His prolonged attention to Martha Goodwin, to Mercy Short,
to Margaret Rule, and his offer to take care of five or six Salem ones if
he could be allowed the management of them, bespeak kindness in him above
what was common in his age toward those deemed to be under "an evil hand."
He once wrote thus:--

"In the present evil world it is no wonder that the evil angels are more
_sensible_ than those of the good ones. Nevertheless it is very certain
that the _good_ angels continually, without any defilement, fly about in
our defiled atmosphere _to minister_ for the good of them that are the
heirs of salvation.... Now, though the angelic ministration is usually
behind the curtain of more visible instruments and their actions, yet
sometimes it hath been with extraordinary circumstances made more obvious
to the sense of the faithful."

He was not unmindful and did not omit to record the fact that "the
enchanted people talked much of a _white spirit_, from whence they
received marvelous assistances.... Margaret Rule had a frequent view of
his bright, shining, and glorious garments, ... and says he told her that
God had permitted her afflictions to befall her for the unspeakable and
everlasting good of her own soul, and for the good of many others; and for
his own immortal glory."

When a being or beings of such glorious appearance present themselves, and
when their utterances and influences are elevating and blissful, it is not
wise to ignore them. The very laws which permit the advent of low and dark
spirits are natural, and can be availed of, on fitting occasions and
conditions, by elevated and bright ones; therefore wisdom invites man to
solicit and prepare the way for visits by the latter class.

The courtesy of S. F. Haven, Esq., the accomplished librarian of the
American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass., recently permitted us to
see a long-lost and recently discovered manuscript, giving, in Cotton
Mather's handwriting, an account of Mercy Short. We judge from cursory
perusal of a modern manuscript copy of Mather's account, that the
librarian had ample grounds for reporting to the society that Mercy
Short's was "a case similar to that of Margaret Rule, but _of greater
interest and fuller details_." He further remarked in his report, that "it
will be remembered that the account of Margaret Rule was not published by
Mather himself, but by his enemy Calef, who by some means obtained
possession of it. The story of Mercy Short, from an indorsement upon it,
appears to have been privately circulated among his friends, but there is
nothing to show that Mather ever intended it for publication."--_S. F.
Haven's Report, April 29, 1874._

Common fairness requires all modern critics to remember and regard the
fact that Mather's accounts of Mercy Short and Margaret Rule were never
given to the public by himself; that they never received his revision and
correction for the press. Because of this they perhaps come to us more
alive with the spirit of frankness and sincerity, and with more detail of
little incidents. Unstudied records are generally honest and substantially
accurate, even if marred by looseness of style and expression, and by
statements of wonders.

Our views would require us to refrain from calling Calef _Mather's_
"enemy," as the librarian did. He was the enemy of _unscriptural_
definitions of witchcraft, and of unjustifiable proceedings against those
accused of it; but not, as we read his purposes and feelings, the enemy of
Mather himself. He was the enemy of opinions of which Mather was a
conspicuous and outspoken representative, and whose writings furnished
provoking occasion for an attack upon disastrous errors.

We trust the public may ere long see Mather's account of Mercy Short in
print. That, and the one of Margaret Rule, show us very authentically, and
we can almost say _beautifully_, the temper of Mather witch-ward, in the
spring and autumn of the year next following the memorable 1692. Nothing
then inclined him to ways that led to human slaughter. The conditions,
seeming acts, and surroundings of those two girls apparently gave him
opportunity and power to evoke a repetition of Salem's fearful scenes, in
which the modern world has been deluded to believe that his soul found
pleasure. If that soul loved blood, it could easily have set it flowing in
1693, and found wherewith to gratify its appetite; but _it did not_.

One of the questions of great importance which received earnest discussion
in witchcraft times, perhaps the most important of all in practical
bearings, had Mather and Calef both on the same side, and consequently it
was not dwelt upon in their controversy. Our reference is to the
_validity_ of "_spectral evidence_,"--that is, of testimony given by those
who obviously perceived the facts they testified to while in an entranced,
clairvoyant, or other abnormal condition. Some--many--able and good men
then maintained that such testimony, unbacked by any other, might justify
conviction of witchcraft, while quite as many, equally able and good men,
including most of the clergy, maintained that such testimony alone was not

Another disputed point was, whether Satan could assume the shape of an
innocent person, and in that shape do mischief to the bodies and estates
of mankind. The same question, partially, is up to-day--viz., Can any but
willing devotees to Satan be used in the processes of spirit
manifestations? Our two combatants were not at variance here--both had
faith that Satan, the then synonym of _Spirits_, whether good or bad,
could employ the innocent in prosecuting his purposes.

On the question whether Satan was obliged to use some mortal in covenant
with himself whenever he harmed another mortal, they differed, as has been
already shown, Mather claiming that human co-operation was frequently, if
not always, needful to any manifestation of witchcraft. But in 1698 he put
this among what he conceived to be "mistaken principles." We do not recall
any other point on which he expressed change of view, nor do we find him
making confessions of personal wrong-doings in connection with witchcraft;
neither does he seem to have had cause for either confession or
repentance, if kindness, leniency, and good-will to man are not to be
confessed and repented of as crimes.


Robert Calef, though probably not in advance of many others in detecting
and dissenting mentally from the public errors of faith and practice in
relation to witchcraft, was first to manifest nerve enough to speak out
boldly his own thoughts and those of many others. Backed and aided
probably by strong and learned men, he became to Christendom's witchcraft,
as Martin Luther had been to its Roman creeds and practices, a bold,
outspoken _protestant_. Each of them dared to brave strong currents of
popular beliefs and practices, even when the course was encompassed with
dangers. Each probably was moved and sustained by firm conviction that
truth, right, and justice were on his side; each had nerve enough to stand
firm and resolute in his self-chosen post of danger and philanthropy; and
each was, to great extent, successful. Luther challenged the pope and his
devotees to justify portions of their creed and practices, and Calef did
the same to Cotton Mather, as a leading annunciator and expounder of the
witchcraft creed. Luther and Calef each conceded that much in the creed of
those whom he contested was founded on Scripture, and so far was
impregnable; but they saw that many unauthorized and baneful appendages
had been put upon true scriptural faith and instructions, and each labored
to sever the true and good from the false and bad with which the currents
of opinions and events had long been investing them. Neither of them,
however, discerned all the errors and pernicious practices which have
since become visible. Luther, though he saw, or at least heard, and
scolded, and threw his ink-horn at Catholicism's devil, did not discard,
but retained, in his Protestant creed, both him and witchcraft as they
then existed in the Catholic belief. Calef conceded the positive existence
of Mather's great personal witchcraft devil of supernal origin, vast
power, and ever-burning malignity, but found him commissioned only by
God--never by human witches, as it was then generally believed he was and
must be, when he manifested his power through or upon man.

We are much in doubt as to whether Calef was properly _author_ of a large
part of what he published relating to witchcraft. The articles he put
forth from time to time seem to us very varied in style and in merits as
to their scholarly and rhetorical airs. It is said, in vol. i. p. 288,
Mass. Hist. Soc. Records, that "Calef was furnished with materials for his
work by Mr. Brattle of Cambridge, and his brother of Boston, and other
gentlemen who were opposed to the Salem proceedings." He may have had--and
we conjecture that he had--much help in putting his materials into the
form in which they came before the public. We are able to learn very
little concerning the man himself. It is usual to style him a Boston
merchant, but Mather alludes to him as that "weaver," &c.

Whatever may have been his culture, occupation, character, or social
position, he assumed the responsibility of what is imputed to him--and we
very willingly leave uncontested both his claims to have been author of
all that he subscribed to, and to be called a Boston _merchant_.

Calef went into his work in deep earnest, and perhaps from a strong sense
of duty to God and man; he perceived that departure from teachings and
requirements of the Scriptures, and adoption of opinions, processes of
examination, and kinds of evidence which the Scriptures did not prescribe,
had occasioned the chief woes of witchcraft, and therefore devoted much
time to the work of producing great and needed change in public opinion.
He continued for some time to write clearly and forcibly to Mather; but,
failing there to get his fundamental questions squarely and satisfactorily
met, after months of trial, addressed a letter "to the ministers, whether
English, French, or Dutch," upon this subject; this general application,
however, failed to bring a response. Next he tried the Rev. Samuel Willard
individually, then "all the ministers in and near Boston;" afterward Rev.
Benjamin Wadsworth singly; but his success in eliciting replies was so
meager, that we apparently may apply to those from whom he sought
information the following words which he used in reference to some who had
defined rules by which to detect witchcraft,--viz., "Perhaps the force of
a prevailing opinion, together with an education thereto suited, might
overshadow their judgments." His dates show that his calls for either
refutation or assent to his positions were continued for two or three
years, and that he was not simply or mainly an opponent of Mather, but an
earnest seeker for light. In 1700, his collected correspondence, together
with much other matter from Mather's pen and other sources, was published
in London, and entitled "_More_ wonders of the Invisible World," Mather
having previously published "Wonders of the Invisible World."

This clear-sighted, earnest, untiring spirit soon gained the public ear
extensively, began to enlighten the public mind, and turn it into new
channels of thought and inquiry. Though not a polished, he was an
intelligible, logical, and forceful writer in the main, and did much
toward accomplishing the reformation to which he devoted his energies.

Calef was a moral hero, and bravely did noble work in bringing flood tides
of murderous fanaticism, error, and delusion to an ebb, and in barring
channels against their return. His appropriate stand in history's niches
may be at the head of Witchcraft Reformers--not repudiators, but


During nearly one hundred years, from about the middle of the eighteenth
to that of the nineteenth century, the American public has been content to
leave unlifted concealing drapery which the historian Hutchinson threw
over witchcraft. His treatment of that subject is plausible and soothing
to cursory readers, but superficial and unsatisfactory to minds which test
the competency of agents to produce effects ascribed to them. His views
have been so widely adopted and so long prevalent, that we must regard him
as having been more influential than any other writer in hiding the
gigantic limbs, features, and operations of what was with reason a
veritable monster in the eyes of its beholders. In him some reprehensible
qualities were conjoined with many admirable ones. Appleton's New American
Cyclopædia states that "Thomas Hutchinson was born in Boston in 1711, and
died at Brampton, near London, 1780. He was graduated at Harvard College,
1727. He became Judge of Probate in 1752, was Councillor from 1749 to
1756, Lieutenant Governor from 1758 to 1771, and was appointed Chief
Justice in 1760, thus holding four high offices at one time. In the
disputes which led to the Revolution, he sided with the British
government.... He received his commission as Governor in 1771; and his
whole administration was characterized by duplicity and an avaricious love
of money, writing letters which he never sent, but which he showed as
evidence of his zeal for the liberties of the province, while he advised
the establishment of a citadel in Boston," &c.

The History of Massachusetts by the pen of this man has sterling merits,
and is of great value. That work and the bestowal of so many high offices
upon him indicate that his abilities, acquisitions, and performances were
of high order. His comments upon subjects which he discussed, and facts
which he presented, were prevailingly fair, and very instructive. When he
perceived--and he generally did--the genuine significance of his facts,
reasoned from them _all_, and allowed to each its proper weight, he was a
spirited, lucid, and valuable interpreter and guide. But when he
encountered and adduced extraordinary facts, which baffled his power to
account for in harmony with his prejudgments and fixed conclusions as to
where natural agents and forces cease to act, he could very skillfully
keep in abeyance the most distinguishing and significant aspects of such
troublesome materials. That damaging moral weakness which let him write
letters which he never sent, for the purpose of exhibiting them as
evidence of his support of the popular cause, perhaps also let him be
other than manly and frank when he encountered a certain class of facts
which seemed to him "more than natural." The whole subject of witchcraft
was nettlesome to him. His pen very often indicated a testy, disturbed,
and sometimes a contemptuous mover when it characterized persons who had
been charged with that crime; and concerning such he recorded many hasty
and unsatisfactory opinions and conclusions. A glimpse at the probable and
almost necessary state of public opinion and knowledge concerning
spiritual forces and agents about the middle of the eighteenth century,
will detect serious difficulties besetting any witchcraft historian's path
at that time, and dispose us to look in clemency upon his hypotheses and
conclusions, even though they be far from satisfactory.

The intense strain given to the prevalent monstrous creed concerning the
devil, when its requirements were vigorously enforced at Salem Village in
1692, ruptured that creed itself; and no substitute for it under which the
phenomena of witchcraft could be referred to competent authors and forces
had been obtained in 1767. The public formerly had believed that either
One Great Devil and his sympathetic imps, or embodied human beings who had
made a covenant with him, must be the authors of all mysterious malignant
action upon men, because no other unseen rational agents were recognized
as having access to man. All acts deemed witchcrafts, therefore, were the
devil's. But belief devil-ward had changed at Hutchinson's day. The Great
Devil's use of covenanted children, women, and men as his only available
instrumentalities, had ceased to be asserted; the fathering of all
mysterious works upon him and his had become an obsolete custom. Its
revival might not meet kindly reception by the public; it probably would
be distasteful to people whom tragic experience had not very long since
taught to distrust and disown his Black Majesty's sway over material
things, and were also chagrined that their fathers had held undoubting
faith in his powers and operations over and upon things temporal and
palpable. The devil had been credited with more than he performed or had
power to accomplish. Reflection had brought conviction that other
intermeddlers existed than purely Satanic ones. And yet the culture and
science of those times were incompetent to furnish an historian with any
satisfactory evidence that any intelligent actors excepting the devil and
human beings acted in and upon human society. Devil or man, one or the
other, according to the then existing belief, must have enacted
witchcraft. Whether the devil did, had been under consideration for more
than seventy years, and public judgment declared him not guilty. What,
therefore, was the historian's necessity? He was forced to make embodied
human beings its sole enactors. No wonder that the necessity made him
petulant when facts and circumstances forced from his pen intimations that
mere children and old women were competent and actual authors of some
manifestations which, to his own keen and philosophic intellect, seemed
"more than natural." "More than natural" in his sense they obviously
were. A distinct perception that the good _God's_ disembodied children, as
well as the devil's, can naturally traverse avenues earthward, and
manifest their powers among men, would have enabled him to account
philosophically for all the mysteries of those days. But "the fullness of
time" for that had not then come.


In 1867, just, one century after Hutchinson, Hon. Charles W. Upham, of
Salem, Mass., published an elaborate, polished, interesting and
instructive "History of Witchcraft and Salem Village." The connection of
two such topics as a local history and a general survey of witchcraft in
one work, was very appropriate and judicious in this case, because Salem
Village, which embraced the present town of Danvers and parts of other
towns adjacent, was the site of the most extensive and awful conflict
which men ever waged in avowed and direct contest with the devil on this
continent, if not in the world. By his course he enabled the reader to
comprehend what kind or quality of men, women, and children they were,
among whom that combat raged.

Upham's history of the _Village_ and its people is minute, exhaustive,
lucid, sprightly, and ornate. That work clearly shows that the people of
the Village possessed physical, mental, moral, and religious powers,
faculties, traits, trainings, and habits which must have given them
keenness of perception, logical acumen, both physical and moral stamina
and courage, and made them as difficult to delude or cow by novel
occurrences as any other people anywhere, either then, before that time,
or since. The same properties made them intelligent analyzers of their
creed, clear perceivers of its logical reaches, tenacious holders on to
what they believed, and fearless appliers of their faith. Holding, in
common with all Christendom, the deluded and deluding belief that
supermundane works required some human being "covenanted to the devil" for
their performance, this people was ready and able to apply that belief in
righteous fight. Such a people were not very likely to mistake the pranks
of their own children for things supermundane in origin. To suspect them
of such credulity or infatuation is to suspect and impeach the truth and
accuracy of the very history which makes them so clearly and fully known
to us.

The same faculties and acquirements which furnished so sprightly a history
of the Village, of course made their impress upon the pages devoted to
"_Witchcraft_." And results might have been as pleasing there as in more
external history, had not omission to see and assign spirit causes where
spirit effects existed, forced the author to assume that heavy, effective
cannon balls came forth from pop-guns, because he had not himself seen
cannon in arsenals himself had not visited, and would take nobody's word
for it that such had been available.

For his own sake we are prone to wish that our personal friend had
recognized that subsequent to the time of his early manhood, when he
delivered and published Lectures upon Witchcraft, and pondered upon its
producing agents and causes, phenomena, like the marvelous ones of former
days, had been transpiring in great abundance all over our land, and that
no less a man than Dr. Robert Hare, of Philadelphia, the correspondent and
peer of Faraday, Silliman, and others of that class, had, by rigid and
exact processes of physical science, actually _demonstrated_ that some
occult force, moved by an intelligence that could and did understand and
comply with verbal requests, repeatedly lifted and lowered the arms of
scale-beams, and made bodies weigh more or weigh less than their normal
weight, at his mental request. The same had been done by Dr. Luther V.
Bell and a band of press reporters in 1857. Such forces, if taken into
account by this historian, would have required a reconstruction and vast
modifications of his long-cherished theory of explanation, and have called
for an immense expenditure of labor and thought.

Ease and retention of long-cherished notions are seductive to man. It was
easier for the historian to ignore the discovery that natural laws or
forces had always permitted unseen agents to come among us, whose workings
the human brain had long, but unsatisfactorily, been laboring to trace to
adequate causes,--easier to continue to assume that insufficient causes,
lackered in glowing rhetoric, might answer a while longer,--easier to
still hug the dream that little girls and young misses, mainly guileless
and docile in all their previous days, could and did, without professional
instruction and of a sudden, become proficients in the production of
complicated schemes and feats rivaling and even surpassing the most
astonishing ones of highest legerdemain, of jugglery, and of histrionic
art combined,--easier to fancy that these girls rebelled against and set
at defiance parental, medical, ministerial, and friendly authority, acted
like brutes and villains, turned all things upside down with a vengeance,
in the midst of a community clear headed and not easily befooled,--yes, it
was easier to retain all these _outré_ suppositions than to set aside a
pet theory and reconstruct history in conformity with requirements of
discoveries which _others_ had made in advance of this historian, and by
the use of which he could have furnished a truly philosophical and
satisfactory solution of all the marvels of ancient witchcraft.
Infatuation still lingers on the earth, blinding many bright eyes.

We are hardly sorry that our friend ignored the actual and competent
authors--indeed, we are nearly glad that he did so; for his course
resulted in presentation of many important portions of New England
witchcraft in very lucid, intelligible, and attractive combination, helped
a vast many people to perception of the proximate nature and extent of
strange things done here of old, and enabled the common mind to make
pretty fair estimate of the nature of such forces as were needful to any
agents who should perform such wonders.

We cheerfully acknowledge great personal indebtedness to that author for
such an exhibition of this subject as shows its mighty influence over
sagacious, strong, calm, good, and able men who were living witnesses and
actors in its scenes; and shows also that common sense will instinctively
feel that the acts imputed to a few illiterate girls and misses were
beyond the powers which nature by her usual and well-known processes ever
bestowed upon them. Philosophy, science, and common sense demand causes
adequate to produce whatever effects are ascribed to them. Histories of
witchcraft have not met these demands. Previous failure in that respect
prompts this effort to present agents whose powers may have been equal to
the works performed in witchcraft scenes.

The work in hand will necessitate a close grappling with many of our
friend's opinions and processes. But our grip, however firm, will never be
made in unkindness toward or want of respect for him; the object will be
to disclose mistakes, to rescue our forefathers and their children in the
seventeenth century out from under damaging, groundless, needless,
gratuitous imputation of fatuity to the elders, and devilish ingenuity to
the younger ones, and to permit the present and future ages to look back
upon them with respect and sympathy.

That author is still living, and long may he live in comfort and
usefulness. His biography is not written; a brief outline of him, solely
from this moment's recollections is here given. Not less that fifty years
ago, we knew him as a student at Harvard,--afterward, for many years, as a
respected and successful clergyman at Salem,--still later, in political
office, especially as member of Congress,--and for many of the more recent
years, as a student and author at home. He has commanded and retains our
high respect.

The scholar, rhetorician, statistician, fictionist, and dramatist, all
blend harmoniously in him, give an uncommon charm to his "History of Salem
Village," and render it a work which bespeaks wide and abiding interest
with the public. It is no essential part of the philosopher's specific
labors to discover or test new agents, forces, or facts. His dealings
mostly are with facts known and admitted. Till one concedes the fact of
spirit action upon persons and things in earth life, he cannot
philosophically admit that spirit forces were ever employed in the
production of any phenomenon, but must regard all as purely material or
within the scope of ordinary human faculties. Therefore we can, perhaps,
with propriety regard our friend as also a philosopher; but must add, that
he either lacked knowledge of or ignored the agents and forces that
produced many witchcraft phenomena which he attempted to elucidate, and
many others of the same character which he failed to adduce from the
earlier records; which agents and forces must be allowed their actual and
full connection with their own effects before philosophy can furnish just,
clear, and satisfactory solutions of their source and nature.


The great endemic witchcraft at Salem Village in 1692 has been extensively
ascribed to the voluntary acts of a few girls and women, who are sometimes
credited with having derived much knowledge from books, traditions, weird
stories, and the like, and thus obtained hints and instructions whereby
they were enabled to devise, and, acting upon the credulity and
infatuation of their time, to enact, and did enact, that great and
thrilling performance, without supermundane aid. Was it so? An examination
of several sporadic cases which preceded that famous outburst of
mysterious operations, may indicate strong need to assign many witchcraft
manifestations to causes and forces lying off beyond the reach of man's
ordinary faculties, for we perceive in them the operation of powers which
he never acquired, nor can acquire, by reading, listening, or by any
training processes.

Hutchinson says, "The great noise which the New England witchcraft made
throughout the English dominions proceeded more from the general panic
with which all sorts of persons were seized, and an expectation that the
contagion would spread to all parts of the country, than from the number
of persons who were executed; more having been put to death in a single
county in England in a short space of time, than have suffered in New
England from the first settlement until the present time. Fifteen years
had passed before we find any mention of witchcraft among the English
colonists.... The first suspicion of witchcraft among the English was
about the year 1645."

We commence now an examination of several of the earlier cases, and begin

There is extant, in the handwriting of the judge before whom she was
tried, a summary of the evidence adduced against this woman, who, in 1648,
was tried, condemned, and executed in Boston for the crime of witchcraft;
and who thus became, so far as we now know, the first American victim in
Christendom's carnal warfare against the devil. Unconsciously to herself
surely, but yet in fact, she may have been, as we sometimes view her,
America's first martyr to _Spiritualism_.

The chief knowledge of this case now attainable is furnished by the
Journal of Governor John Winthrop, who was both governor of the colony and
chief judge of its highest court in 1648, and presided at the trial of
Margaret Jones. His position on the bench gave him opportunity, and made
it his duty, to know precisely what was charged, what testified, and what
proved in the case. The character of that recorder is good voucher for an
honest and candid statement as far as it goes. His record states that,--

"In 1648, one Margaret Jones, of Charlestown, was indicted and found
guilty of witchcraft, and hanged for it. The evidence against her was,
that she was found to have such a malignant touch, as many persons, men,
women, and children, whom she stroked or touched with any affection or
displeasure, or, &c., were taken with deafness, or vomiting, or other
violent pains or sickness; that, practicing physic, and her medicines
being such things as, by her own confession, were harmless, as anise-seed,
liquors, &c., yet had extraordinary violent effects; that she used to tell
such as would not make use of her physic, that they would never be healed,
and accordingly their diseases and hurts continued, with relapses against
the ordinary course, and beyond the apprehension of all physicians and
surgeons; that things which she foretold came to pass accordingly; other
things she could tell of, as secret speeches, &c., which she had no
ordinary means to come to knowledge of; in the prison, in the clear
daylight, there was seen in her arms, she sitting on the floor, and her
clothes up, &c., a little child, which ran from her into another room, and
the officer following it, it was vanished. The like child was seen in two
other places to which she had relation; and one maid, that saw it, fell
sick upon it, and was cured by the said Margaret, who used means to be
employed to that end."

Thus much was recorded by Winthrop in 1648. But the quantum of information
relative to Margaret Jones which historic selection deemed needful for the
public in 1764 had become very small, for at the latter date Hutchinson
says (vol. i. p. 150), "The first instance I find of any person executed
for witchcraft, was in June, 1648. Margaret Jones, of Charlestown, was
indicted for a witch, found guilty, and executed. She was charged with
having such a malignant touch that if she laid her hands upon man, woman,
or child in anger, they were seized presently with deafness, vomiting, or
other sickness, or some violent pains."

Those few sharp lines comprise the whole of that historian's account of
this case. He gives no hint that the woman was accused of anything but _a
malignant touch_; therefore he falls long way short of fair presentation
of the facts. He leaves entirely unnoticed the chief grounds for just
inferences and conclusions. Whether that writer had access to Winthrop's
record we do not know. But the historian Upham had, and he states (vol. i.
p. 453), "The only real charge proved upon Margaret Jones was, that she
was a successful practitioner, using only simple remedies." _The only
charge proved!_ What can that mean? There surely were several other and
much more marvelous and significant things just as clearly charged and
"proved upon" her as was her successful use of simple remedies. The only
thing _proved_! If that thing was proved, then the same document which
teaches this, also teaches with equal distinctness that five or six other
things were proved upon her; and the greater part of these others were
difficult of solution by the philosophies of both the historians named
above. Turn back to Winthrop's account, and see what was charged.

1. When she manipulated either man, woman, or child, some nausea, pain, or
disease was forthwith engendered in the subject of her operations.

2. Her very simple medicines, viz., anise-seed and liquors produced
extraordinary violent effects.

3. She told such as would not take her physic that they would never be
healed; and accordingly their diseases and hurts continued, with relapses
against the ordinary course.

4. Things which she foretold came to pass accordingly.

5. She could tell of secret speeches which she had no ordinary means to
come to knowledge of.

6. While in prison, in the clear daylight, there was seen in her arms ...
a little child ... which at the officer's approach ran and vanished.

7. The maid that fell sick at sight of that child "was cured by the said
Margaret, who used means to be employed to that end."

The _only_ charge _proved_? If it was proved that "she was a successful
practitioner, using only simple remedies," then each one of the other six
is just as clearly proved as her successful practice, and by the same
document, too. But some of them are more difficult to account for on
sadducean grounds, and were left unnoticed. Even the admitted marvel is
put forth in distorted form, being so draped as to teach that the woman
was a _successful_ medical practitioner, while the original record reads
that her simples produced extraordinary _violent_ effects. No doubt she
was in an important sense "a successful practitioner, using only simple
remedies." But that is not what the testimony specially stated. The
historic evidence is, that her simples produced "_violent effects_." Her
fate teaches that the action of her simples was deemed diabolical. Is that
idea conveyed in calling her a successful practitioner? No.

The case of this woman is vastly more instructive than it has been deemed
by former expounders; and since, in its varied features and aspects, it
presents many interesting points, we shall dwell upon it at considerable

Nothing has been met with in her history which conflicts with supposition
that she and her husband, perhaps in or below the middle ranks of society,
were laboring for a livelihood amid a clear-headed, sagacious, hardy,
industrious community, which had resided twenty years around the mouth of
the Charles without any startling witchcraft among them, or any teachers
of that art, (?) or skillful co-operators in its practice. Something
induced her to lay hands upon and administer simple medicines to the
pained, the sick, or the wounded. Whence the impulse? We can hardly
suppose that she had studied medicine. A nurse she may have been--very
likely had been--and perhaps had become conscious of ability to relieve
sufferings and disease, and may have been known by her neighbors to be
willing to practice the healing art. Obviously they became accustomed to
submit themselves to her manipulations and medical treatment quite
extensively, and at length were astonished at the extreme efficacy of her
hands, and the sometimes _violent_ action of her simple medicines.

So extraordinary were the effects of her labors that the neighborhood
became suspicious that an obnoxious _one from below_ was her helper, and
therefore she was arrested on suspicion of witchcraft.

What persons would be summoned into court to testify concerning her when
such was the charge? Her patients promiscuously? No. Only such among them
as had, or as would swear that they had, received suffering or annoyance
under her treatment. Search would be made for harm only, and not for any
good which she had done. More moral courage and strength than are common
would be needed to induce those not summoned, and who had nothing but good
which they could say of her operations, to try to get upon the witness
stand where witchcraft was the alleged offense. All the testimony, either
sought, or given, was, no doubt, intended to bear against her; and yet it
comes to our view that the sickened maid "was cured by the said Margaret,
who used means to be employed to that end." Beneficence as well as "murder
will out" sometimes.

The various powers manifested through her are worthy of separate

1. _When she manipulated either man, woman, or child, some nausea, pain,
or disease was forthwith engendered in the subject of her operations._
That is the only crime which Hutchinson seems to have found laid to her
charge; it is the only one he puts to the credit of her persecutors, and
thus he leaves them heavily indebted on humanity's ledger. If the
testimony were not mainly sheer fabrication, some extraordinary efficacy
went forth from her imposed hands, and apparently on many different
occasions, too; for the account stating that effects were similar upon
men, women, and children, indicates that she was an extensive operator.

Mesmer had not then made his discoveries. But the powers always resided in
living forms which he detected and measurably learned to educe and
control. Margaret Jones's system may have been a very powerful magnetic
battery, controlled sometimes by her own will, sometimes moved by and
giving passage-way to impersonal magnetic forces, and sometimes also used
by that intelligence outside of man which Agassiz and Brown-Séquard say
(see Appendix) can operate through his organism. Both intensification and
mitigation of pains, diseases, and the forces of medicines are credible
results from her manipulations.

As said before, only those portions of the primitive document which relate
to the efficacy of her hands and her simples, drew forth comments from the
historians; they also failed to set forth a tithe of the significance
which was involved in the little they did attempt to unfold. Such action
of hands and very simple medicines upon the systems of men, women, and
children is not satisfactorily accounted for either by ascribing it, as
one did, to the anger of the operating woman, nor, as the other did, to
the simple medicines acting normally. Such causes could never have
produced effects competent to so startle an intelligent and firm-nerved
community as to make them charge this practitioner with diabolism, and
seek her execution. The implied infatuation and credulity of a generation
which could be roused to such barbarity by such insignificant causes is a
most defamatory impeachment of the sagacity, manhood, and humaneness of
our forefathers. Our witchcraft expounders, we apprehend, have allowed
themselves to sacrifice very much that was bright and noble in the past,
on the altar of false assumption that modern scientists, or at least that
their own wise historic intellects, have explored all the recesses of
broad nature, and positively determined that no forces can anywhere exist
by which supermundane acts can legitimately be brought to the cognizance
of man. The merits of the fathers are darkened, that the arrogance of the
children may be labeled Wisdom.

Many men of no mean intellects have admitted that a spirit once came forth
from a man "and leaped" on the seven exorcist sons of one Sceva, "and
overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that
house naked and wounded." The mind which believes that record ought to be
in condition to admit that possibly spirits could throw forth power
through the hands of such as Margaret Jones which would produce pains,
nausea, and disease in those whom the mediums touched, provided the
spirits desired such results. It was no unprecedented event in kind, if,
through her, some unseen force tortured the bodies of any who, as spies,
enemies, mimickers, or rivals, sought an imposition of her hands; not new
that torturing sensations should be produced when the magnetisms of the
operator and subject were as alkali and acid to each other; nor new that
her own spirit of resentment for wrongs either received or foresensed,
thus operated. But favor too might often induce either her or a spirit
through her to produce _violent effects_ at first, unless our doctors
prescribe emetics and cathartics in unkindness or malice.

Read the following statement, which I have just written down from the lips
of a neighbor whom I have known well for nearly or quite ten years, and
whose truthfulness is as complete as that of any other one whatsoever in
the whole circle of my acquaintances:--

    "In the autumn of 1869, a woman in South Boston who knew me, advised
    one of her neighbors who was sick of fever to send for me and receive
    treatment by my hands. The patient's husband, a robust mechanic, had
    little faith in helpful efficacy from 'laying on of hands.' Still,
    curiosity or some other motive induced him and three other men to
    observe my processes and their effects. They witnessed very marked
    contractions of the sick woman's muscles, and many spasmodic movements
    of her limbs. When I ceased working upon my patient, her husband said,
    'Do you suppose you can affect _me_ in the same way?' My reply was, 'I
    don't know--probably not; but if you desire me to try, I will.' 'Yes,'
    said he, 'try.' 'Sit down, then, sir, in the chair where your wife
    sat.' He did so, and I operated for a short time without perceptible
    effect, but was soon impressed to say to him, 'Strike me on the small
    of the back,'--simultaneously placing my back so that he could give it
    a fair, hard blow, which he was by no means unwilling to inflict.
    After his first stroke I called out, 'Harder!' After the second,
    '_Harder!_' After the third, he was instantly cramped up, his arms
    were hugged in upon and across his chest, the muscles on them were
    much enlarged, intensely hardened, and not obedient to his will, and
    he lustily begged, 'Let me down! let me down! let me down!' while the
    other men, the sick wife, and myself laughed till we were exhausted. I
    had no will in producing, nor any design to effect any such results.

      "J. W. CROSBY.

    "BOSTON, April 30, 1874."

2. The testimony indicates that her _very simple medicines, such as
anise-seed and liquors, produced extraordinary violent effects_. This is
credible. Extraordinary effects were produced by magnetized handkerchiefs
in the days of Paul, and to-day, even pure water, placed beneath the hands
of some peculiar mediums, or beneath the tips of their fingers, sometimes
absorbs or is made to manifest the medicinal properties of wine, ipecac,
or of other substances desired; and such mediums are often very
"successful practitioners using only simple remedies." The action of what
they administer need not be psychological in any proper sense of that
term: that is, the patient need not be informed, nor have suspicion, that
the water is medicated thus; though any persons upon whom the action is
very perceptible, probably, must be constitutionally mediumistic. By
personal observation we have learned that water may be so medicated by
unseen infusion from unseen source, as to taste like, and operate like,
either ipecac or wine, according to the properties which some unseen
intelligence to whom needs are transparent, and who can sicken or refresh
at pleasure, has gathered from the atmosphere or elsewhere and infused
into that water. When public vigilance had been roused to suspicion around
this woman, it is not improbable that many persons, belligerent
devil-ward, sought a test of her powers, and that some of them
(susceptible ones) felt or drank in what caused "deafness, or vomiting, or
other pains or sickness"--not improbable that on some of them her simples
had "_violent_ effects." Persons thus affected would make up nearly the
whole class from whom witnesses at her trial would be selected. If she had
been generally a producer of only pains and sickness, her practice would
soon have dwindled to nothing, and she would have lived on without
molestation. "A successful practitioner," simply as such, would never have
been arraigned.

Upham detected the significant fact in the case, that her simple remedies
were so efficacious as to make her a successful practitioner; yes;--but
was simply successful medical practice the chief reason why her neighbors
charged diabolism? What amount of success in alleviating the sufferings
that flesh is heir to would invoke public vengeance? How much beneficence
did one then need to perform before public sentiment, would reprobate its
author? Could such faculties and agents alone as are normally and
ordinarily used, enable a woman to achieve such success in curing
diseases, healing wounds, and alleviating pains, as to arouse an
intelligent and religious community to arrest and try her for a capital
offense against the well-being of society? Never. Did the historian notice
his own back-handed imputation of atrocious diabolism upon the population
of Charlestown when he led his readers to infer that they persecuted one
of their number unto an ignominious death, solely because "she was a
successful practitioner using only simple remedies"? Whether he saw it or
not, his explanation made her neighbors take the life of this woman
because of the good works she had done among them. Some theory of
explanation which will exempt us from the necessity of assenting to
gratuitous aspersions of the sagacity and sentiments of justice pertaining
to our ancestry in the mass, is very desirable. Margaret Jones was a very
successful _healing medium_, and therefore her works were mysteries.

Having noticed the only two allegations in this case which the historians
have deemed worthy of specification or had courage to adduce, and having
seen that Hutchinson ascribed her persecution to her own anger flowing out
through her hands, while Upham ascribed it to her great success as a
healer, we will just note the fact that the former historian generally
indicated an abiding apprehension that those who _were persecuted_ for the
crime in question, were the parties most to be blamed; while the latter,
oftener than otherwise, throws the chief blame upon the _persecutors_. In
this instance the earlier historian makes her anger,--a trait which is
blamable,--while the latter makes her beneficence,--a commendable
characteristic,--the chief exciting cause to her condemnation and

We proceed to examine other original charges more difficult to solve
plausibly on the hypotheses of Hutchinson and Upham than were anger and
successful medical practice; charges not amenable to any philosophy
entertained by those expounders.

3. "_She used to tell such as would not make use of her physic that they
would never be healed; and, accordingly, their diseases and hurts
continued; with relapses against the ordinary course_," &c. It is very
common in our day for clairvoyance to see, or--more broadly and
instructively--it is common for mediumistic faculties to _sense_ and feel
sure, that the existing tendency of a patient's disease will soon
terminate in death, if not checked by some peculiar medicinal agent, often
a spiritual one, or one medicated by spirits, which ordinary physicians
are ignorant of, will not prescribe, and cannot obtain. The evidence which
Judge Winthrop reports, shows that "the diseases and hurts" of recusants
to take her prescriptions, not only continued to remain unhealed, but
underwent such changes and relapses as physicians and surgeons could not
understand. Since such things occurred in accordance with her predictions,
we here perceive strong evidence that the woman possessed uncommon
susceptibilities for _sensing_ coming results. _It is just as clearly
proved_ that she foretold specific events, as it is that her touch was
malignant, and her practice successful. Her marvelous prescience, which
was one of her conspicuous powers, the historians failed to set forth.
Their philosophy, founded only on such materials as are recognized in
man's physical sciences, was too narrow to embrace occult natural agents
and forces by which such prescient powers could be drawn or put forth
through some human organisms and produce marvelous results. Therefore
those expounders let such facts remain undisturbed in the rarely visited
closets where they have long reposed.

4. _Things which she foretold came to pass accordingly._ That is, events
verified her predictions, and thus proved her exercise of marvelously
prophetic powers. Should one assume that her verified predictions were
only skillful or lucky guesses, would such assumption be fair and just
toward the people who, as living witnesses on the spot, could know what
the things were which she foretold, and know also with what accuracy they
were fulfilled, and yet deemed them genuine prophecies? Her accusers could
know the facts, while we, in the main, must be ignorant of them. We cannot
reasonably deny that the direct observers actually discerned the exercise
of genuinely prophetic powers by her. Some mortals at times can prophesy;
for both in ancient prophetic and apostolic times, and in our own age,
many people have been and are known to do it. Eternal laws or forces lead
some mortals to sure knowledge of coming events. History and returning
spirits both so teach.

"The spirit of prophecy has its source in infinite truth, and is as much a
part of infinite law as any other manifestation of life; therefore it has
a wise and powerful protection; and they who avail themselves of this
spirit of prophecy, _by virtue of the way and manner in which they are
physically and spiritually compounded_, if they are fortunate enough to
place themselves in harmonious relations to the law, fail not in
prophesying. But if, as is often the case, they unfortunately place
themselves in inharmonious relations to the law, they must, of necessity,
fail in part, if not entirely. It is a truthful saying, that 'coming
events cast their shadows before.' _These shadows_ (?) _are, in reality,
portions of the events_; these shadows take precedence of the material
birth of all events as they are understood by mortals; they are the basis
of that which you receive, and outlast that which you receive; they are
the infinite part. Now, then, there are some persons _so constituted_ that
they perceive these shadows (?) and can judge as accurately concerning
what they predict, as the learned astronomer can concerning an
eclipse."--_Spirit_, _Prof. Alexander M. Fisher, of Yale._ BANNER OF
LIGHT, Jan. 30, 1875.

5. "_She could tell of secret speeches which she had no ordinary means to
come to knowledge of._" At times, then, she was clairaudient, or was one
of those sensitives whose spiritual organs of sensation are at times so
disentangled from their material ones, that she experienced a practical
annihilation of space and gross matter, which let her, as all unclogged
spirits may, be practically present with and listeners to any person
anywhere, to whom she was for any reason attracted, and with whom she came
into rapport. Conditions admitting cognizance of the thoughts and words of
the absent in body are now of daily occurrence with men, women, and
children not a few, and therefore were possible with Margaret Jones in
1648 and years preceding. A letter from Captain Densmore, on a future page
of this work, will show recent possession of power to bear the voices of
living persons whose bodies were very far distant from the hearer.

6. "_While in the prison in the clear daylight there was seen in her arms
... a little child ... which, at the officer's approach, ran and
vanished._" _Vanished_; that word intimates that it was a spectral or
spirit child--perhaps her own departed one. By whom was it seen? By an
officer of the prison, and therefore by one not likely to be her
confederate in attempt at imposture. Not by him only; for a chambermaid
also saw the little one, and was made sick by the sight; which effect
argues against her having had any complicity in a trick. That testimony to
such occurrences was given in court, is vouched for by Winthrop, and must
have been, or surely should have been, read by subsequent historians.
Their adroitness at leaving certain classes of facts in undisturbed
obscurity, nearly rivals the cunning of agents to whom they impute the
origin and production of witchcraft manifestations.

The visible presence of that evanescent child shows very clearly that Mrs.
Jones was endowed with some of the rarer and exceptional properties of
mediumship--that she possessed those special elements in the midst of
which spirits could be robed in such materialized encasements, that
material eyes could discern them. Angels looking and acting like men (Gen.
xviii.) were seen by Abraham and Lot. One was seen (Judg. xiii.) by Manoah
and his wife. Another by Tobias, son of Tobit (Apoc.); another by
disciples who were walking toward Emmaus (John xx.); others also by
thousands of individuals in various ages and nations, sporadically.
To-day, distinct perception of materialized spirits in the presence of
Mrs. Andrews at Moravia, N. Y., around Dr. Slade of New York city, and
many others are reported almost weekly, and are well attested. In these
modern instances, generally, some special, though simple, pre-arrangements
are made to facilitate such manifestations; but we may very reasonably
doubt whether anything of the kind was resorted to by Mrs. Jones, because,
being in prison charged with the awful crime of witchcraft, the
presumption is imperative that she must have lacked both means and
opportunity to command tangible apparatus either for helping on a genuine
spirit manifestation, or producing an optical illusion upon her keepers.

_Mortal._ "How do spirits materialize?"

_Spirit._ "You must know the atmosphere is full of particles of matter.
Everything that is in the human body is also in the atmosphere in fine
particles. Darkness renders these particles more quiescent, and hence more
easily managed by spirits. The spirit has a will point or center which is
a spark of the Divine Nature. When the condition of the atmosphere, of the
medium, and of the circle is proper, the spirit exerts that will power,
and, in accordance with natural law, _attracts to its spirit form_ the
floating particles in the air, and they condense upon and interpenetrate
the spirit form or body so as to materialize it, making bone, muscle,
skin, hair--every part, and making the spirit body, for the time being, a
solid, palpable one. The air contains an immense amount of matter which
can be used by spirits for materializing. We do not, however, usually
materialize the blood.... We have to draw a portion of the substance for
materialization from the medium, he being a kind of reservoir where we
concentrate our supplies, and it is much more difficult to draw from him
when at a distance, therefore we keep near him."--_Spirit. Disc., as
reported by H A. Buddington._ BANNER OF LIGHT, Feb. 6, 1875.

A case of much interest and significance was reported to the Boston Post,
a daily newspaper, by a correspondent under date of Newburyport, Jan. 13,
1873. Therein is furnished an account of a spirit boy showing himself in
broad daylight, several times, on different occasions, at a window between
an entry and a school-room, to a band of children and their teacher; also
of his making a disturbing racket in an unfinished attic over them
occasionally for many successive months. Miss Perkins, the teacher, says,
"He is a little fellow, about eleven years old, with a pale face, and the
saddest, sweetest mouth that she ever saw in her life, looking fearlessly
up into her face out of a pair of blue eyes. He retreated into a corner.
She followed him, and just as she was about to lay her hand upon him he
vanished. No door had been opened, and yet he was gone." The account
states that Miss Perkins, "though no spiritualist, is convinced that it"
(the racket) "is all produced by supernatural agency, and believes that
the apparition she saw was a veritable ghost."

The editor of the Springfield Republican probably consulted the teacher of
that school, Miss Lucy A. Perkins, as to the correctness of the foregoing,
and perhaps other accounts, which had become public, for she wrote to him,
and he published as follows:--

"The account you sent me is true, with a few exceptions. When I first saw
the boy, he was neatly attired in a _brown_ suit of clothes, trimmed with
braid and buttons of the same color. When I reached forward to grasp him,
he seemed not like the boy, but vapory, or, as I can only describe it,
like a thin cloud scudding across the room; still he seemed to have the
boy form. Reports from some of the Boston papers say I fainted; such is
not the case. I knew where I was and what I was about just as well as I
know I am writing.

"One day I sent a boy out to hang up the brushes, &c.... He was out about
five minutes. After he had taken his seat, three raps came on the door of
the room where the brushes were hung. He said, 'Miss Perkins, can I go out
and see who's there?' I told him, 'Yes, and leave the school-room door
open.' He did so, and when he opened the brush-room door (I sat where I
could see all) every one of the brushes, both long and short handled, came
falling off the nails where they were hung; some struck him on the
shoulders, and the broom directly on the top of his head. The dust-pan,
hanging on a nail at some distance above the brushes, came tumbling to the
floor with a vengeance. It then stood on its handle, then on the bottom
edge, and continued on so till it entered the school-room, and then it was
placed as nicely against the partition as if I had done it myself. Just as
soon as I'd raise the ventilator, a black ball, like a cannon ball, would
begin to roll around the attic, and make such a noise I would be obliged
to lower the ventilator. One day the room was quiet as it possibly could
be, and all at once some one in the attic called out, 'Dadie Pike!' Dadie
thought I spoke, and said, 'What'm?' I said to him, 'Can you say your

"Since the boy affair took place, the attic has been fastened up; locks
and keys are of no use, however, for there is as much walking up stairs,
and sometimes the hammering and nailing. Once in a while, sounds as of
some one walking will come down the attic way, go across the entry, and
open the outside door, and be gone perhaps ten minutes; after it is quiet
again, the door will open, and he, she, or it will go up stairs.... I am
not a spiritualist; never attended a sitting, in fact, never had anything
to do with a person of that belief, and never saw any manifestations. Why
anything of the sort should take place where I am, is more than I can
account for."

This case, wherein a teacher and her two score pupils simultaneously saw a
spirit in broad daylight, day after day and week after week, argues very
forcibly that "the nature of things" permits admission that the testimony
relating to the spirit child in the jail may be literally true. Laws and
forces are now frequently indicating their existence, which permit the
observable presence of spirits.

Intense yearnings for comfortings, sympathy, and support in her dark and
trying hour, as well as other causes, may have drawn an angel child--her
own or some other--to the arms of Margaret Jones, whose history reveals
her possession of peculiar susceptibilities and mediumistic properties;
and with her as a reservoir, materialization of the spirit may have been

7. The sickened maid "was cured by the said Margaret, who used means to be
employed to that end." Kindness and skill successfully put forth to heal
the sick, even while the public was keeping her in a felon's cell, hang as
a luminous cloud over her head, and betoken something good in her--betoken
the possible source of something different from a malignant touch--yes, of
"genuinely successful medical practice."

We know little of her character; there is no impeachment of it in the
recorded testimony. Her peculiar powers resulted, no doubt, from peculiar
innate formations of and connections between her outer and inner
organisms, and had little dependence upon intellectual or moral qualities.
Not her own holiness, nor any other common power of hers, enabled her to
either intensify or abate painful sensations. Whether sinner or saint was
the more prominent in her character, our course and views have no occasion
to inquire.

Winthrop's comments say that "her behavior at her trial was very
intemperate; lying notoriously and railing upon the jury and witnesses;...
in the like distemper she died." He gives no particulars, and therefore
furnishes no grounds on which we may judge whether any of her statements
which seemed to him false, might not seem to us, at our different
stand-point of observation, to have been true. Very many perfectly true
utterances made by mediums to-day relative to their involuntary and even
unconscious putting forth of acts and words imputed to them, would be
deemed lies by all common interpreters who are ignorant of the part often
performed by or through that higher set of mental powers which our leading
scientists have lately discovered are at the service of intellect not our
own. Perhaps she lied; perhaps, too, she was truthful, but misunderstood.
Intemperance in her behavior, no doubt, was manifest. But that might
spring from various motives. Any spirited person, consciously innocent of
a charged offense, and possessing only moderate power of self-control and
moderate intellectual stamina, would be very likely to pour forth warm
language, and flat and forceful denials of allegations of wrong-doing.
Persecuted innocence was only a very little less likely--if at all
less--than ill temper or "distemper," to call forth what might seem to be
"railing upon the jury and witnesses." Neither severe language nor
"intemperate behavior" is necessarily derogatory to any one's prevailing
temper or character, when rushing forth from the lips and limbs of one
whose deeds are being so misinterpreted that beneficence is looked upon as
diabolism, and whose beneficent works are being made to draw down upon
their author an ignominious death.

Possibly words from her lips, and behavior seemingly prompted by her
emotions, were manifestations of the thoughts and impulses of some other
intelligence than herself. If so, most scathing rebukes for her
persecution, and for thirstings for her blood, might fall thick and heavy
upon the ears of benighted jurors and blinded witnesses. Observation has
often noticed most terrific outflowings of denunciations upon blind
guides, through organs of speech not controlled by their reputed owner.
Felix is not the last person who has trembled under the lashings of
inspiration. An acting out through her form, by another intelligence, a
deep sense of wrong she had received, may have made her seem as mad in the
eyes of Winthrop, as the learning and forceful utterances of Paul did him
in those of Festus.

Evidence produced at her trial shows that Margaret Jones correctly
foretold the course of diseases in the systems of those who declined her
prescriptions--that she foretold other "things which came to pass
accordingly"--that she learned the purport of conversations by the absent
or secluded--that a spirit child became visible in her auras--and that
the sickened maid was cured by her appliances. Each and all of these very
marvelous manifestations were just as distinctly and authentically
recorded on paper still extant, as were those less rare ones which have
been put forth as fair indices of the case. Such blinking out of sight the
most important things pertaining to the person who, as far as is now
known, was first on this side the Atlantic to be executed for witchcraft,
is unjust to culture and philosophy, which should be furnished with all
known facts; is unjust to the fathers, whose full basis for her
prosecution and execution should be set forth ere just judgment of their
doings can be formed; and is unjust to her whose transcendent powers and
effective labors for healing the sick may have been the main cause why
minds deluded by a false and frenzying creed devil-ward, were impelled on
to barbarously destroy one who had been and might have continued to be
their benefactress.

She was a natural conduit from the inner to the outer world, through which
perhaps impersonal force at times might cause supernal knowledge and power
to come into her outer being; through which again, her own will might
suction such, while at other times unseen persons might inject them
through from their abodes, and even come themselves to aid her in their
application. Nothing harmful was charged against her, excepting what
seemed to be, and were believed to be, superhuman abilities.

The power that formed her originally, implanted and developed within her
organism unusual capabilities for curing physical disease, for reading
the future, and hearing the distant. There is neither evidence nor
foundation for a conjecture that she was ever pupil of teachers of medical
science, or of jugglery, nor that she belonged to any mesmerically
developing circle. Her acts cannot well have been mere imitations of what
she had seen others do, or had read or heard of having been done. She had
no teachers, no confederates that were visible and tangible. Indeed, who
among men could possibly have taught or helped her to prophesy correctly,
to hear the far distant, or to embody a spirit child? Not one--not one.
Such performances were only natural evolutions from her inborn faculties,
when acted upon by spirit forces or agents, or both. The reader is asked
how these manifestations, through our first martyr to it, can _possibly_
be explained on the hypothesis that witchcraft was nothing else than the
histrionic tricks of sprightly and cunning children, either singly or in
combination with the ingenuities and malignities of old women. Such
agents, unaided from out the unseen, were most clearly incompetent to
project into human view some phenomena which attended upon this
consternating seer, hearer, healer, and holder of properties for
materializing a spirit form so as to render it visible.

What possible facts or considerations could have induced the humane,
intelligent, virtuous, and religious community in which she lived, to seek
the life of such a woman, moving, probably, in humble sphere, but, in the
main, a doer of good works? The question brings up a complex and difficult
problem, viz., How can the seeming stupidity and inhumanity of our fathers
be reconciled with their obvious intelligence and humaneness?

Assuming the record of testimony given in court to be correct--and why
should we not?--the manifestations through and around Margaret Jones
clearly indicated the outworking there of some abilities which the bodies
and ordinary mental powers of embodied human beings do not possess. What
then? Some unseen power must have helped her. What unseen power? Yes,
_what_ unseen power? Experience as then interpreted--religious creeds as
then understood--science and philosophy as they then existed--all
conspired to give one and the same answer, viz., _The Devil_. That
conclusion from the witnessed facts was then inevitable. The devil helped
her. What next? The devil could help no one who had not previously entered
into a covenant with him, and he surely helped this woman. Therefore she
had made a covenant with him, and in making that she became a _witch_. The
law of God which binds Christians says, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to
live." Thus our forefathers saw and reasoned. Steps from facts to the
conclusion were few, short, and plain. Feeble intellects _could_ take
them, and strong ones _must_ do so, or reject their life-long creeds. Then
a crucial hour was upon them. To distrust and disregard their credal faith
or stifle their humanity, one or the other, was the hard alternative
presented to strong, good men. Their cherished creed or Margaret Jones,
one or the other, must be sacrificed. Which? Clear heads and life-long
affections grasped the creed firmly, and resolved to save it. They let
Logic draw her rigid conclusions, and put them forth as rules for
individual and public action. Sympathy went down before dominant faith,
and man stifled every rebellious emotion. God's call and law, Christian
men then felt, were paramount to sympathy. In submission to what they
deemed Heaven's will and call they said, "Down, humaneness--down! Up,
God-derived Faith--up, in your majesty and might! Heart must follow
whither you lead." Their awful and cramping _Creed devil-ward_ was the
chief fountain of bewildering and brutalizing force that dragged
intelligent and kind men on to redden our soil with innocent blood, and
that too "in all good conscience."

Look closely at their position. The faith of all ages and nations had held
that occurrences which seemed to result from supermundane force were
produced by disembodied intelligences. Protestant Christendom was
extensively holding that no invisible beings, excepting their Great
Monstrous Monk-made Devil (see Appendix) and his obedient servants, could
by any possibility work upon the bodies and possessions of men. And none
such could work upon the external world in any other way than through, or
by the aid of, such mortals as had voluntarily made a covenant with him.
Such covenant once formed, the person making it would be an open door
through which his fearful Majesty, or any imp of his, could freely enter
the outer world and vent his malignity upon all the region far and wide
around his entrance-place. Her works proved to the intellect of that day
that this Margaret had covenanted to let him enter and co-operate with
her. What, therefore, must be done? It was manifest to the people of
Charlestown that through her the great invisible cloven-foot had found
entrance, and was prowling among them. What was their duty? They must bar
his entrance promptly. To do it, they arrested, tried, condemned, and
executed the Christian traitor who had furnished their great enemy
entrance to the Christian fortress. Could firm, true men, holding then
prevalent beliefs, have done less?

That prisoner was put to trial before judge, jury, and a public who each
and all held the then common creed throughout all Protestant Christendom
which is set forth in our Appendix. Witnesses swore that she accurately
foretold the effects of medical treatment and other events; that she heard
speeches by persons far remote from her; that a spectral child was seen in
her presence; that her hands and simples wrought marvels,--therefore, how
could jurors avoid conviction that the devil helped her? There was no
spectral testimony in this case; outer senses of many persons had learned
her supermundane powers. The nature of the testimony was unexceptionable,
and its purport distinct and conclusive. The prevalent faith imperatively
demanded that the verdict should be--_guilty_. The clear, strong faith of
that day, in whomsoever it conjoined with good conscience and courage, put
forth mighty power to persuade the good citizen and good man that high
duty was calling upon him to gird on heavenly armor and fight for the
destruction of this minion and colleague of the devil, even at the
smothering of kindlier sentiments in his heart. She was _witch_, and
therefore must die. Was that a _deluded_ court, representative of a
_deluded_ people, which condemned Margaret Jones to "hang high on the
gallows-tree"? No doubt it was. Delusion led not only our fathers here,
but all Christendom, on to deeds of shameful bloodshed. Witchcraft itself,
as a whole, is now by most people deemed a "_dark delusion_." But which,
among the human faculties, did that delusion spell-bind, stultify, and
make sanguinary?

Were the external senses of a whole community so disordered that the
character and dimensions of sensible acts were grossly misapprehended? No.
The circumstances amid which the early colonists lived, were certainly as
well fitted to sharpen, discipline, and give reliability to the external
senses as those which wait upon their descendants in the present century.
Whatever eyes saw, ears heard, or touch felt in 1648, was reported to the
mind then as accurately as the same senses can report to-day. Witchcraft
phenomena were not the fictions of deluded _senses_.

Did that delusion dominate those mental faculties which clothe in words
and report what the senses had learned, and derange them so effectually
that they would put forth even under oath distorting and exaggerated
accounts of facts which the senses had witnessed? We think not. Distrust
of the truthfulness and discrimination of ancient unknown witnesses,
founded mainly upon the marvelousness of facts they swore to knowledge of,
is not a basis that either candor or justice can deem sufficient to
sustain a charge that their testimony was misleading. Wherein lurks
anything which indicates that the witnesses in this case stated anything
that was not substantially true? If anywhere, it is probably in modern
incredulity that spirits ever colabor with or act upon men. If the time
shall come--and there now exist signs that it is near--when the cultured
world shall learn that _science_ has been unwittingly _generating
delusion_ by failing to detect and regard the existence of certain occult
agents and forces which play important parts in scenes of nature and human
society, then a greatly modified opinion concerning the truth of testimony
evoked in witchcraft times may prevail throughout the enlightened world.
The signs of to-day make it prudent, kind, and just to conceive that
ancient _witnesses_ were quite as truthful and discriminating as modern
elucidators of remote transactions have generally been.

Were the faculties of jurors and judges for comprehending the accuracy,
force, and tendency of testimony, and for logically deducing conclusions
from proved facts, so deluded as that the whole court, without a
misgiving, convicted either on false testimony or illogically? Candor must
hesitate to say yes--especially in a case where such a man as Governor
Winthrop sat upon the bench. He and his associates in the court may have
been as free from any delusion that impaired or perverted their powers of
discrimination, or for logical inferences from facts, as any court that
has adjudicated since their day. The absolute cruelty and injustice of
their verdict and sentence, however, do indicate delusion of some
faculties; but not of the senses; not of the capacities to speak truth,
and "nothing but the truth;" not of the capacities to sift evidence and to
reason logically--not of these.

Their faculties for receiving, containing, holding on to, and obeying an
inherited FAITH were the _deluded_ ones. In common with all Christendom
the convictors of witches had been deluded into adoption, or at least
retention, of a woful creed concerning the devil. At that time public
sentiment in most countries on the continent of Europe, and also in both
Old and New England, demanded rigid enforcement of all laws which that
false, mischief-working creed had engendered and recorded in
statute-books. Such laws were plain and imperative; both jurors and
judges, suppressing sentiment, must yield to logic--must convict and
sentence. By no other course could they be true to their convictions of
duty toward society around them, or toward God on high. Yes; an imported
monastic-born FAITH, unnatural, erroneous, and more than barbarous,
deluded kind and good men to feel that they must suppress sympathy, ignore
their tender impulses, benumb their hearts, and, whither God's voice was
believed to call, go forward in stern, agonizing resolve to thrust a
devil-helped worker, however good and estimable in outward seeming, to
where the wicked one could do them and theirs no mischief through that
mortal ally. Such was the logical and stern demand of the old deluding and
heart-curbing creed.

Do we wonder in our day how such monstrous faith could ever have obtained
and kept both an abiding hold and controlling authority in any clear head
that was joined to a kindly heart? Seeds of faith get lodgment in the
human brain while it is yet too young to understand or even try to test
the nature and quality of what falls upon it. Whatever the church and
public believe, and have believed through a long past, is ever dropping
its own seed into opening minds, which forthwith germinates therein. This
sends its roots deep into virgin soil, grows with vigor there, and becomes
fruitful of the same old faith during that very early portion of life in
which the infantile questioning, analyzing, and reasoning faculties are
scarce able to doubt the soundness or excellence of what thence has grown
and matured in close alliance with themselves. Faith's right and fitness
to define duty, and the child's obligation to execute its requirements,
are usually conceded by all the other faculties. The truer and better the
man, the more surely will he carry out his faith to its logical demands,
even though, Abraham like, he have to lay his dearest on the altar of
sacrifice, to lift the knife, and nerve himself to plunge it into his own
child's heart, unless some voice from on high, more potent than previous
faith, shall bid him hold. Few other than strong men and true, conscious
of being soldiers in heaven's army, would march resolutely to the Devil's
living and shotted guns, purposing to destroy them; for their destruction
was instinct with, and inseparable from, anguish to Christian neighbors
and friends. Extremists alone would do that. None midway between vile
demons and men of high faith in God would voluntarily meet that ordeal.

We do not regard _all_ the active prosecutors and convictors of witches as
having been actuated by well-defined faiths and high principles. When
popular furor sets strongly in any direction, the thoughtless, the
unprincipled, the cruel, the malicious, join in the rush, and some such
often become conspicuous and heartless agents in confounding confusion and
in executing public decrees. Still, nearly all eminent men of both Europe
and America--the leading divines, jurists, and civilians, the men of
culture and of influence--believed that witchcraft and the witchcraft
devil existed, and that witches should be detected and punished by the
processes and laws then deemed applicable in such cases. Therefore, the
mass of the people, however ignorant, thoughtless, or rash, when detecting
and punishing witches, were only hastening to effect by rough processes
and expeditiously, no more than the learned, more orderly, and patient
would have felt constrained to accomplish, in the end, from a firm
conviction of duty. Good faith and conscientious regard for the public
weal actuated and sustained all those "solid men of Boston" and its
vicinity, who were the real bones, sinews, and muscles which brought the
devil's seeming helper to the gallows.

Whether this impressible and unfolded woman was literally aided in any of
her marvelous operations by invisible _intelligences_ may be debatable. It
is possible that forces subject to no will but her own, and not even to
that at all times, may have passed from her into other persons, which
relieved some and agonized others extensively. Medication of her simples
may have been mainly their natural absorption of elements residing in her
system, or which were naturally attracted into and through that peculiar
system. Her correct perceptions of the future action of remedies
prescribed by either herself or others, and of the future course and
result of diseases, may have been obtained by her own inner faculties when
partially and transiently disentangled from her outer ones, and sensing in
knowledge from the hidden realm of causes. So too she may have been at
times so nearly a freed spirit, that she could by her own perceptives
accurately sense coming events, and hear the words of far distant
speakers. We refrain from denying the possibility that such auras resided
in, emanated from, and surrounded her body, that a spirit child coming
within them was by natural impersonal forces there rendered visible to
external optics. It is possible there was no phenomenon in this case that
must be called _spiritual_, excepting the mere _advent_ of the child--not
its visibility, but its _advent_. If the child was there, then a spirit
was there, and it was a case of Spiritualism. All this is possible; but we
ask whether it is probable that all works seeming to be hers were produced
by blind natural forces and her own will and powers solely? To this our
own answer is an emphatic NO. The presence of the child gives force to
that response. If one spirit came to her, others could have come.

The old records are nearly or quite devoid of information relating to the
intelligence, character, and social position of Margaret Jones. She was
wife of Thomas Jones, who, soon after her execution, took passage on board
a vessel for Barbadoes. We have met with no indication that they had
children--with nothing which alludes to his age, occupation, or standing
in society. We find her a practicer of the healing art; but at what age,
or amid what worldly circumstances, is all unknown.

Bunker Hill and its circumjacent slopes and lowlands have close connection
with the earlier stages of two American conflicts for freedom. There
lived, and from thence was taken to prison and the gallows, the first
American martyr in a war whose end, obtained forty-four years later at
Salem Village, was Christendom's mental emancipation from deluding and
dwarfing bondage to a more than savage creed. True, the aggressive
hosts--the prosecutors for witchcraft--were ignorant and unsuspicious of
the far-reaching purposes of the divinity that shaped their ends, that
beheld and ruled over their blind violence, and made them, all
unconsciously and undesignedly, mortally rend a monster-creed whose
demands they were slavishly and blindly complying with, and thus, without
knowledge of it on their part, procuring for themselves, their children,
and all future Christians, new freedom and new incentives for independent
speculations and conclusions regarding all matters both demonological and
theological. A nightmare of centuries was thrown off from disturbed and
horrified Christendom at Salem, and each cramped sufferer could
thenceforth draw breath more freely, and commence processes of
recuperation and expansion.

The case of Margaret Jones is isolated. It has no traceable connection
with any kindred one which either preceded or followed it. Still its
origin was in the abiding-place of forces and operators acting invisibly
upon the external world, and amidst which all genuine witchcraft, miracle,
and Spiritualism have been born.

Her case must be catalogued among the marvelous, though the proving of the
nature and character of her offense, erroneously so called, was unattended
by the absurdities and cruelties which attach to many cases where spectral
evidence was admitted, and barbarous processes were resorted to for
extorting a plea to an indictment. As a witchcraft trial, hers was
exceptionally inoffensive to modern views of propriety. The testimony
throughout was based on experiences and observations by external senses,
and would be admissible in any court and any age. The extra-common powers
or susceptibilities of the accused were clearly proved. Therefore the
monstrous creed which then blinded and tyrannized over all minds took her
life legitimately. Good men, humane men, could do no less than pronounce
her guilty before the law and before that creed which engendered the law.
Before we denounce or even disparage those who condemned her, let us pause
for reflection.

"A creed sometimes remains outside of the mind, incrusting and petrifying
it against all other influences addressed to the higher parts of our
nature, manifesting its power by not suffering any fresh and living
conviction to get in."--_John Stuart Mill._

We requote as follows:--

"The nobler tendency of culture, and above all of scientific culture, is
to honor the dead without groveling before them--to profit by the past
without sacrificing it to the present."

The early colonists of the old Bay State deserve to be held in high esteem
and admiration; all noble sentiments conspire to honor them. Culture and
enlightenment will be derelict to their high calling if they traduce that
people before they turn thought backward through two centuries, scan the
imported creeds then prevalent here, observe circumstances then existing,
and enter into feelings and views then bearing resistless sway. Having
done that, let them calmly determine whither duty led true-hearted,
clear-headed, strong, courageous, and devout men in relation to witchcraft
matters. Many old beliefs may be discarded; many mistakes and errors of
the past be shunned. We are not called to grovel before our ancestors; but
shame, shame be to us if we brand them with egregious "credulity and
infatuation," solely or mainly because their senses perceived and they
described events which we cannot explain if we grant to them clear,
sagacious, and well-balanced intellects for reporting facts which they
observed. They were our peers in most good qualities and powers, and
deserve our admiration.

Did we know the spot where the dust of Charlestown's gifted physician
reposes, we might desire to see a modest monument there bearing the
following inscription:--

  America's first Martyr to Spiritualism:
  Who was hanged in Boston,
  June 15, 1648,
  Because God had given her such Organization and Receptivities
  that beneficent occult Powers, using her successfully
  as an Instrument in curing
  Human Ills,
  So excited the Consternation of a Devil-fearing People,
  That, knowing not what they did,
  They cried,


We lead attention next to one who moved in the highest circle of Boston
society--to an elderly lady of wit, culture, high connections socially,
and of friendship with many of the most prominent and virtuous people of
her day. So far as known, hers is meager as a case of witchcraft, attended
by a less variety and extent of startling phenomena than most others; but
it well reveals the force of the witchcraft creed, and the shifts of
historians for explaining its only marvelous phenomenon which history
hints at.

Hutchinson says, "The most remarkable occurrence in the colony in the year
1655 [1656 ?] was the trial and condemnation of Mrs. Ann Hibbins for
witchcraft. Her husband, who died in the year 1654, was an agent for the
colony in England, several years one of the assistants, and a merchant of
note in the town of Boston; but losses in the latter part of his life had
reduced his estate, and increased the natural crabbedness of his wife's
temper, which made her turbulent and quarrelsome, and brought her under
church censures, and at length rendered her so odious to her neighbors as
to cause some of them to accuse her of witchcraft. The jury brought her in
guilty, but the magistrates refused to accept the verdict; so the cause
came to the general court, where the popular clamor prevailed against her,
and the miserable old woman was condemned and executed. Search was made
upon her body for teats, and her chests and boxes for puppets, images,
&c.; but there is no record of anything of that sort being found. Mr.
Beach, a minister in Jamaica, in a letter to Dr. Increase Mather in the
year 1684, says, 'You may remember what I have sometimes told; your famous
Mr. Norton once said at his own table before Mr. Wilson the pastor, elder
Penn, and myself and wife, &c., who had the honor to be his guests, that
one of your magistrates' wives, as I remember, was hanged for a witch only
for having more wit than her neighbors. It was his very expression; she
having, as he explained it, unhappily guessed that two of her persecutors,
whom she saw talking in the street, were talking of her, which, proving
true, cost her her life, notwithstanding all he could do to the contrary,
as he himself told us.'

"It fared with her as it did with Joan of Arc in France. Some counted her
a saint and some a witch, and some observed solemn marks of Providence set
upon those who were very forward to condemn her, and to brand others upon
the like ground with the like reproach."

The author of the above was born fifty-five years after the execution of
Mrs. Hibbins, and his account of her was not published till 1764, that is,
one hundred and eight years after her decease. In his youth he may have
conversed with aged people who were living at the time of the trial and
execution of this woman, and may have received from them their notions
concerning her temper and character. But if he did, his informers, during
more than half a century before he was old enough to be an intelligent
listener, had been living in the midst of people who were ashamed of the
treatment which they and their fathers had bestowed upon reputed witches.
Thus ashamed and yielding to an almost universal propensity in men to make
their own imputed errors and crimes seem slight, trivial, and excusable as
possible, nothing would be more natural than a general propensity to
vilify the sufferers, under a mistaken, though common, notion that the
vileness of the persecuted excuses the wrong of the persecutors.

Whether Hutchinson, in his youth, received from any source special mental
biases which inclined him to regard all who suffered for witchcraft as
quarrelsome and vicious, cannot now be ascertained; but it is obvious from
his epithets that his disposition let him very readily apply to such
persons terms of very decided disparagement. He spoke of one Mary Oliver
as "a poor wretch;" also of Mrs. Hibbins as "the miserable old woman," and
specified the "natural crabbedness of her temper which made her turbulent
and quarrelsome." He implies that such traits were both the grounds and
the sum of the charge and proofs of her witchcraft, and does all this
without adducing a particle of evidence that she possessed such a temper,
or was either _turbulent_ or _quarrelsome_. His allegations seem like the
offspring of either blinding contempt or of deluded fancy,--yes,
_deluded_,--for surely clear-eyed fancy must have foreseen that after ages
could never believe that the highest court in the colony found natural
crabbedness of temper, and consequent turbulence, satisfactory proof of an
explicit compact with the devil, and therefore punishable by death. The
insufficiency and probable inaccuracy of his reasons for the arraignment
and condemnation of this person, will be more clearly exhibited further
on, and mainly in extracts from a later historian.

Mr. Beach's letter, quoted by Hutchinson, gives distinct indication that
Mrs. Hibbins was endowed with faculties which were vastly more likely to
out-work what her age deemed witchcraft, than was any amount of bad temper
and crabbedness. She had "more wit than her neighbors;" she "unhappily
guessed that two of her persecutors, whom she saw talking in the street,
were talking of her, which, proving true, cost her her life." Here is
indication of probability that this lady, as did Margaret Jones, possessed
ability to comprehend the conversation of far distant parties, or to sense
in the thoughts of some absent people with whom she came in rapport.
Similar abilities are possessed and exercised by many persons in these
days, who have constitutional endowments of a kind which were formerly
believed to be diabolical acquisitions, and were then deemed proofs of
witchcraft--proofs of compact with Satan.

"It fared with her," says Hutchinson, "as it did with Joan of Arc in
France. Some counted her a saint and some a witch." In these words the
historian himself furnishes cause for distrusting the justice of ascribing
to her a crabbed temper and habitual quarrelsomeness. For who, in any
community, would ever count one _a saint_ who manifested such offensive
qualities to any great extent as he ascribed to her? Surely no one would.
And yet he states that very many persons did so count Mrs. Hibbins.
Doubtless among her advocates was "your famous Mr. Norton," a very
eminent, sagacious, and able minister in Boston. There was enough about
her to draw out from Hutchinson the concession that the public here was
divided in judgment concerning her character, as it formerly was in
France concerning Joan of Arc, that Maid of Orleans, who heard and obeyed
voices from out the unseen.

Crabbedness of temper and quarrelsomeness were not grounds on which any
portion of the people would count her a _saint_. The historian refutes his
own position. A more recent searcher for causes of her fate perceived, and
very clearly pointed out, the inaccuracy and obvious insufficiency of
Hutchinson's grounds and reasons why Mrs. Hibbins was arraigned and
convicted, but proceeded to assign others which are scarcely less
inadequate and improbable. He writes as follows, vol. i. p. 422, _Hist. of

"While it is hardly worthy of being considered a sufficient explanation of
the matter,--it being beyond belief, that, even at that time, a person
could be condemned and executed merely on account of a 'crabbed
temper,'--it is not consistent with the facts as made known to us from the
record-offices. She could not have been so reduced in circumstances as to
produce such extraordinary effects upon her character, for she left a good
estate.... The only clew we have to the kind of evidence bearing upon the
charge of witchcraft that brought this recently bereaved widow to so cruel
and shameful a death, is in a letter written by a clergyman in Jamaica to
Increase Mather" (as quoted above). "Nothing," Upham adds, "was more
natural than for her to suppose, knowing the parties, witnessing their
manner, considering their active co-operation in getting up the excitement
against her, which was then the all-engrossing topic, that they were
talking about her. But, in the blind infatuation of the time, it was
considered proof positive of her being possessed, _by the aid of the
devil_, of supernatural insight--precisely as, forty years afterward, such
evidence was brought to bear with telling effect against George
Burroughs.... The truth is, that the tongue of slander was let loose upon
her, and the calumnies circulated by reckless gossip became so magnified
and exaggerated, and assumed such proportions, as enabled her vilifiers to
bring her under the censure of the church, and that emboldened them to cry
out against her as a witch."

Some of our quotations are introduced quite as much for the purpose of
exhibiting the animus, short-comings, and over-doings of the historians
themselves, as for elucidating the general subject of witchcraft. We learn
from the pages of the work from which the above extract was taken, that
Mrs. Hibbins was sister of Richard Bellingham, deputy-governor of the
province at the very time of her trial, and that her highly-esteemed
husband had left her an estate which placed her far above poverty. It may
fairly be presumed that both her social and pecuniary conditions were very
respectable. Upham perceives and forcibly comments upon the inadequacy of
the grounds upon which Hutchinson attempted to account for her conviction
and execution. That earlier historian evinced, on very many of his pages,
his persuasion, or at least a purpose to persuade his readers, that all
the peculiar and disturbing phenomena of witchcraft were of exclusively
mundane origin, and that temper, trick, imposture, deception, and the
like, produced them all. This persuasion made him somewhat impatient of
the whole matter, uncareful to scan all the facts before him, or keep his
inferences in fair and broad harmony with them. It made him rashly severe.
Without indicating a shadow of reason why he does so, he calls this widow
of one of Boston's most esteemed merchants and public men--this sister of
the deputy-governor of the province--this woman of more wit than her
neighbors--this woman befriended by the eminent minister John Norton--this
woman not in poverty--this woman whom he ought to have known, did, in her
lowest condition, even when a convict in prison and doomed to the
gallows--did, in this dire extremity, bespeak and obtain the friendly
offices of six or eight of the leading men of the city, and therefore
presumably had their respect--such a one, Hutchinson gratuitously calls a
"miserable old woman;" and in doing it reveals the careless and heartless
historian of those who had come under ban for witchcraft.

Upham, going to the probate records and finding the will of Mrs. Hibbins,
which was made a few days after her sentence of death, is able to present
her in a different aspect. His comments upon her, as she is revealed by
the will and its codicils, are as follows, vol. i. p. 425:--

"The whole tone and manner of these instruments give evidence that she had
a mind capable of rising above the power of wrong, suffering, and death
itself. They show a spirit calm and serene. The disposition of her
property indicates good sense, good feeling, and business faculties
suitable to the occasion. In the body of the will, there is not a word, a
syllable, or a turn of expression, that refers to or is in the slightest
degree colored by her peculiar situation. In the codicil there is this
sentence: 'My desire is that all my overseers would be pleased to show so
much respect unto my dead corpse, as to cause it to be decently interred,
and, if it may be, near my late husband."

Perusal and study of her will and its appendages induced the later
historian to speak of Ann Hibbins as "this recently bereaved widow"--a
phrase much more agreeable, and seemingly vastly more just in application
to her, than "miserable old woman." In that will she names as overseers
and administrators of her estate, Captain Thomas Clarke, Lieutenant Edward
Hutchinson, Lieutenant William Hudson, Ensign Joshua Scottow, and Cornet
Peter Oliver; also in a codicil, she says, "I do earnestly desire my
loving friends, Captain Johnson and Edward Rawson, to be added to the rest
of the gentlemen mentioned as overseers of my will." Upham, having stated
the above, says, "It can hardly be doubted that these persons--and they
were all leading citizens--were known by her to be among her friends."
Yes, the presumption is very fair, amounting to almost positive proof,
that many of the prominent and best people of the town were her friends.
The appearance is, that her social walk was wide away from the purlieus of
common mundane diabolism and billingsgate. The vulgar would see her
standing off beyond their reach, and waste no breath upon her. Only the
respectable and influential could touch her to her essential harm.

We commend and thank the later historian for bringing this persecuted
woman out into such light as shows that she may have been equal in all
good qualities to the best of her persecutors. But his reasons for her
persecution and condemnation are scarcely more adequate or credible than
those of Hutchinson. We ascribed to him the faculties of a fictionist, and
he used them when he said, "The truth is, that the tongue of slander was
let loose upon her." The former historian imputed certain offensive acts
or traits to both Margaret Jones and Ann Hibbins severally, which he
assumed to be the provoking causes of public vengeance. He deemed the
sufferers themselves doers of the intolerable wrongs. But his successor
makes her beneficence the crime for which Mrs. Jones suffered; and the
origination and utterance of slander _by the public_, the cause of death
to Mrs. Hibbins. The earlier writer was lenient toward the public and
severe upon the accused women. The later was kind toward the women, but,
by necessary implication, intensely aspersory upon the great body of the
people; for he makes the public hang one because of her successful medical
practice by the use of only simple remedies, and another because of
slanders which itself had poured out upon her.

His charge of slander is fictitious. He adduces no evidence that the lady
was slandered, and we have met with none anywhere. And were it true, it is
quite as much "beyond belief that even at that time a person could be
condemned and executed merely on account of being" _slandered_, as it is
that one could have then been thus treated on account of a "crabbed
temper" solely.

A much more probable cause of the persecution of Mrs. Hibbins than either
of the historians drew forth and rested upon, lurks in that language of
"famous Mr. Norton," which says that she "having more wit than her
neighbors, unhappily guessed that two of her persecutors, whom she saw
talking in the street, were talking of her, which proving true, cost her
her life." Upham, commenting upon that, says, "Nothing was more natural
than for her to suppose, knowing the parties, witnessing their manner,
considering their active co-operation in getting up the excitement against
her, which was then the all-engrossing topic, that they were talking about
her." Whence and how did the accomplished rhetorician learn that those two
persecutors were active co-operators, or that they were in any degree
concerned "in _getting up_" the excitement against her? How _know_ that
their manner was expressive of any particular topic of conversation? How
_know_ that she or her case was the then all-engrossing topic? He put
forth assumptions as though they were historic facts. No ancient record is
credited with them; none contains them that we have met with. He could not
well know them to be true. They are fairly reasonable fictions; but we
must doubt whether they are either known or knowable as _facts_. They
would be agreeable amplifications if they did not tend to mislead and
blind; they would be beauties, and not blemishes, if the soundness and
sufficiency of their underlying theory or assumption were conceded. But it
is not. Common sense cannot concede it. Boston was neither doltish enough
nor wicked enough to generate and sustain _slander_ of such quantity and
quality as would force one of her ladies of wit and high connections to
die ignominiously on the gallows--never, never. Neither the temper of the
woman herself, nor any combined baseness and malice that ever existed in
the orderly and religious town of Boston, is admissible as the chief
cause of that woman's execution. Her own _wit_ was the historic, and, when
defined and illustrated, may appear to be the real cause.

Whether Mrs. Hibbins received on that occasion, and might have been
accustomed to get, knowledge by other than man's ordinary processes, and
to such extent and of such kind as implied her possession of some
faculties above or distinct from great powers at guessing, can best be
inferred by looking at the views of her utterances which were taken by
those who heard them. Their persecution of her unto death tells what those
views were. Have historians made fair and full use of the very small
historic basis extant, for accounting for the state and nature of public
feeling among the neighbors of this woman? We think not. Her _wit_, the
true corner-stone, has not been their basis of explanation.

When she saw two known persecutors talking, the circumstances may or may
not have been helpful to a correct guess at the topic of their
conversation _then_. But--but these men, Upham assumes, were _already_
known to her as her persecutors. Therefore something must have occurred
before that time which had aroused persecution of her. These men are
called "two of her persecutors," which intimates that she already may have
had more than two, and admits the supposition that she may have had very
many such, both prior to and at the very time when she made the particular
_guess_ whose accuracy has been so plausibly commented upon. Something,
antecedent to that guess, had set some minds against her. Yes, if we may
trust the conjecture of Upham, something had already created an
"excitement against her which was then the all-engrossing topic." The
cause of antecedent and existing excitement, at the time she made _that_
guess, was seemingly unsought for by either Hutchinson or Upham. Or, if
they sought for this, _the most important thing connected with the case,
and essential to its satisfactory elucidation_, they found nothing which
they ventured to publish. Omission to bring out the cause of public
excitement, _prior to the guess_, makes previous history very
unsatisfactory. There is some light shining now which may enable the
searcher in dark closets of the past to discover meanings there which
former explorers failed to find. No new, positive, distinct historical
statements explanatory of this case have been seen. We are confined to the
same very narrow premises on which previous reasoners stood, but we find
different import of the same facts from any which prior expounders

We join with Upham in saying that "_the only clew_ we have to the kind of
evidence bearing upon _the charge of witchcraft_ that brought this
recently bereaved widow to so cruel and shameful a death, is in a letter
written by a clergyman in Jamaica to Increase Mather in 1684." That
letter, already quoted, imputes to her more _wit_ than others; wit, or
penetration, by which she sensed correctly the conversation going on
between two of her persecutors. That is the full sum of the direct
historical evidence. And what is involved in that? Is crabbed temper
there? No. Is slander there? No; but _wit_ is. Standing alone and
unexplained, this wit amounts, perhaps, to but little; and yet when
interpreted by her sad fate it may amount to very much. It suggests
forcibly the probability, bordering close upon certainty, that she was
endowed with some faculties which the sagacious Mr. Norton called
"wit"--but yet were such as could obtain accurate knowledge so
surprisingly as to suggest that it was obtained by process as occult as
that by which Jesus perceived the private reasonings of scribes and
pharisees--entrappers and persecutors of himself.

To-day,--when observation is almost daily meeting with operations of
faculties, in limited classes of men and women, which enable them to read,
at times, the secret thoughts and hear the secret and hushed utterances of
some afar off,--that Jamaica letter intimates enough to generate
presumption that Mrs. Hibbins might have possessed like faculties, and
that her exercise of such startled, alarmed, and almost frenzied a
community in which such powers were deemed proof positive that their
possessor had made a covenant with the Evil One, and received her
surprising knowledge from him. Amid a people holding such faith concerning
the devil as the colonists here entertained in 1656, the exercise of such
powers called upon all God-fearing and true men to rid the world of such a
devil-minion as the knowledge possessed by Mrs. Hibbins proved her to be.

A sample of light which is now available shines forth from the following
letter, and its rays are blended in those from the lamp that guides our
feet while we move onward in tracing out the probable meaning reachable by
following up the only historic clew to those powers of Mrs. Hibbins, her
possession and exercise of which constituted a capital crime:--

    "September 23, 1873.


    "Dear Friend: You solicit information in regard to hearing, from the
    _inner_ ear, men and women speaking when miles away. I have always
    possessed that faculty in a remarkable degree. At one time, when
    building a steamboat in Southern Illinois, under peculiar
    circumstances, I would often hear men say, 'That man has no money to
    build a boat with; he's a fraud; and I pity those poor fellows who are
    working for him.' This was soon after I commenced her construction;
    and although I did not want to hear it, and tried ever so hard not to,
    still I could hear them seemingly more distinct than though they were
    close to me. One day in particular, and at a time when I could see no
    way out of my difficulty, I heard a Mr. Cutting, who was building some
    miles up river, say to his foreman, 'I wonder if Mr. Kimball realizes
    that his timber will be lost.' (Mr. Kimball was the man who furnished
    my timber and plank.) After the tide turned in my favor, and it was
    known about town that I paid my men regularly, I heard the remark,
    'That man is the most reticent man I ever heard of,' &c."

The author of the letter does not state distinctly that in those two cases
the speakers were very much too far away for his external ears to hear
their voices, yet such was his statement when he gave me, previously, a
verbal account of the facts; and such was his meaning, therefore, in the
letter--the remainder of which here follows:--

    "At one time, in Cincinnati, although three miles away, I heard my
    landlady say to her daughter, after I had been boarding with them a
    week, 'I don't like that man--he is _not_ all right;' and went on to
    tell her impressions, what she thought I was, which it is not
    necessary to repeat. At first I felt indignant, forgetting, for the
    moment, I was three miles away. I finally concluded to say nothing
    about it when I went home at night, as I thought at first of doing,
    else they might think I was wrong in some way, as they were both
    members of the M. E. Church. But, when I got home, having a good
    opportunity, I told the daughter word for word what her mother had
    said about me, and also her response to her mother after she (the
    mother) had got through berating me--which was, 'What do you mean?'
    and the mother's answer to her exclamation, 'I mean just as I say.' I
    requested the daughter not to say anything to the mother, as it would
    do no good. But in the course of the following day the mother got
    speaking of me again in much the same strain, when the daughter could
    not resist the temptation, and told her to be careful what she said;
    and then told her what I had said. The mother was thunderstruck, and
    after a moment said, 'He is a devil.' I happened to be in a condition
    such that I heard the mother's response. This I told to the daughter
    that evening. Now, if I had had a thought that the mother entertained
    such feelings toward me, I might have attributed it to the workings of
    my own mind. But as I thought they had diametrically the opposite
    opinion, I concluded that it was another case of the inner hearing.

    "Now, if you can make use of this, or a part of it, you are welcome
    to do so. Should you desire any other cases, I can furnish many.

      "With high considerations I remain,
        "D. C. DENSMORE."

The writer of the above, when in conversation with me in my own study,
incidentally dropped a word which intimated that his inner ear was
sometimes receptive of utterances put forth by embodied men and women,
who, at the time, were far away from him. In response to my expressed wish
to know whether such was the fact, he detailed a number of cases in which
he had had such experience; I then asked him to give me one or two of
them, briefly, on paper. That request shortly drew forth the foregoing

Much more of the emphatically educational period of Captain Densmore's
life was spent in forecastles and cabins of whaleships than in school on
shore, and he perhaps expected me to reconstruct his sentences, in part at
least, before presenting them in print. But such facts as his experience
has encountered ought to be accompanied by the spirit of conscious
knowledge and truth pervading his own vocabulary. His language is
sufficiently perspicuous to convey his meaning, and possesses force which
any considerable change would impair. That spirit makes rhetoric and
grammar of secondary consequence in the narration of facts and experiences
which show that there exist capacities in some embodied human beings for
receiving intelligence-fraught impressions, in ways and under
circumstances which the schoolmen and teachers of the world lack knowledge
of, but ought to know and get instruction from. Therefore the reader has
been permitted to see in his own words the statement of one who has at
times heard with his inner or spiritual senses the exact words of speakers
who were miles away from him, and thus shown that Mrs. Hibbins, through
the possession of natural faculties, though of a kind but rarely
developed, might have been something very different from a mere skillful
guesser. An assumption that she was helped by spirits is not needful to a
satisfactory explanation of a mode in which she might have learned
directly and instantly what far absent ones were uttering. Her own
faculties, independently of special spirit help or teaching, may have
permitted her to hear with perfect distinctness what would have been
utterly inaudible by mortals in their ordinary condition. Measuring the
marvelousness of her knowledge by the frenzy it produced in the community,
and the awful doom it drew upon herself, we look upon her manifestations
of "wit" as an outflow of knowledge gained through her own inner or
spiritual organs of perception--either with or without the aid of spirits.

When commenting upon what he assumed to be fact, viz., that Mrs. Hibbins
made a correct guess, and only a _guess_, Upham says, that "in the blind
infatuation of the time, it was considered proof positive of her being
possessed, _by aid of the devil_, of supernatural insight." Thus he
assumed that the mass of people in Boston were under such an infatuation
as could and did cause them to believe that very successful _guessing_
required the devil's help! They may have been infatuated, but their
infatuation did not act in that direction. Their senses and judgments for
determining the forces needful to produce either material or mental
effects, may, for aught that history states, have been as keen as any
people ever possessed, and their general wisdom and thrift indicate that
they did. Why, therefore, hastily brand them with the imbecility of being
unequal to a fair, common-sense estimate of the adequacy of causes to
produce observed effects? To do so is ungenerous, unjust, and uncalled for
by their action. It may have been, and probably was, their freedom from
infatuation; it may have been the very keenness and accuracy of their
perceptions of the quantity and quality of cause needful to acquirement of
knowledge which her utterances revealed, that generated and sustained the
hostility against Mrs. Hibbins. Her accuracy in reading facts, secret and
transpiring at a distance, was possibly, on many occasions, so far beyond
what common experience or science was able to impute to either luck or
skill at guessing, that few, if any, could avoid the conclusion that she
was receiving supernal aid.

Anything supernal was then deemed devilish. After public excitement had
been aroused against her, a very successful guess might possibly be
evidence that the devil was its author, but not till the excitement had
acquired and exercised bewildering force. Some extraordinary sayings or
doings of this lady obviously must have antedated the public furore, else
it would never have raged. The nature and circumstances of the case
indicate an almost certainty that minds around her, while in their
ordinary calmness, must have witnessed sayings or doings by her which
"seemed to them more than natural"--which were startling--were out of the
usual course, and readily distinguishable from GUESSINGS: because without
something of this kind the excitement itself could never have commenced.
What first started the public terror of her is the most important question
in the case. The excitement did not spring up uncaused. A successful guess
was no great novelty and no marvel in times of calmness. It could not then
be regarded as diabolical. The bewilderings of antecedent causes were
needful to make a correct _guess_ terrific. Excitement might metamorphose
a guess into devil-imputed knowledge, but a guess could not beget, though
it might intensify, blood-seeking excitement. Whence the excitement
itself--such excitement as could regard an accurate guess as necessarily
the offspring of diabolical insight?

Mrs. Hibbins lived among the _élite_ of a province, whose people were
decidedly sagacious in matters of both private and public business, and
were also probably possessed of as high moral and religious principles, as
prevailed in any other community on the globe. As before stated, Richard
Bellingham, one of the very eminent men of the country, and at that time
deputy-governor of the province, was her brother; she was widow of one who
had been among the most esteemed citizens of the town, and she is credited
with having possessed more wit than her neighbors. Therefore we are
hunting for a cause adequate to excite public indignation against a woman
of bright intellect, of high position in society, and standing under the
shelter of near kinship with those in authority. The cause must have been
some strange one. _Skill at guessing_ was too common and natural, and does
not meet the requirements.

We all unite in calling the people of 1656 infatuated in relation to
witchcraft. But did their infatuation so affect them as to bring
obtuseness upon their external senses and their intellectual ability for
discerning the nature, character, and force of testimony and evidence? or,
on the other hand, did it not show itself almost exclusively in their
reception and tenacious retention of monstrous items in their witchcraft
creed? Which? Admit an affirmative to the first part of the inquiry--admit
that senses and intellects were befooled by external manifestations--and
you make those noble forefathers but a band of dolts, heartless and
bloodthirsty, taking life because they had not wit enough to read clearly
the significance of observed external facts or to see the bearings and
force of evidence. Admit the second, viz., that their creed was father of
their infatuation, and you may look upon them as a band possessing clear
perception of the exact meaning and logical results of all Christendom's
fixed creed upon diabolism, and of unflinching purpose to fight for God
and Christ against the devil. Demonologically they were infatuated, in
common with the enlightened world; while yet for keen observance of
outward facts, for just estimate of the adequacy of a cause to produce an
observed effect, for determining the just significance of any
well-observed fact, for discriminating application of evidence under the
rules of their creeds both God-ward and devil-ward, no reason appears why
they were not equal to any other community anywhere. Their infatuation was
not first on the practical, but on the theoretical side. It was
devil-ward, not man-ward _directly_, though through the creed it became

Though perceiving the meagerness and improbability of Hutchinson's
solution, Upham, ignoring what he avowed to be the only historical "clew
we have" to a correct one, which led directly to the woman's own wit, was
pleased to find the exciting cause of her persecution not in _her_, but in
other people, and dogmatically said, "The _truth_ is, the tongue of
slander was let loose against her." Such assumption--and it is bold
assumption, even if it be in accordance with facts--fails--entirely
fails--to meet the fair demands of our common-sense requirements. What
started, and extended, and intensified that tongue if it did wag? If its
utterances were _slanderous_, they were a mixture of _falsehood_ and
_malice_. What _lies_ were or could be fabricated against such a woman,
the nature of which the common sagacity of society there and then would
not detect? What _lies_ which the truthfulness of society there and then
would not decline to repeat against her? What malice against that lady of
high connections could so pervade society there as to generate a public
sentiment that demanded and obtained her life? The people of Boston were
not wicked enough to let falsehood and malice triumph in their highest
court of justice. Something different from _slander_ was needed to awaken
and sustain the popular clamor against this woman, and to cause the court
to pass sentence of death upon her. We granted to Upham the faculties of a
fictionist, and he used them when he declared that "the truth is, the
tongue of slander was let loose upon her." "The truth is," neither he nor
any other one among us at this day, knows whether that woman was slandered
or not. She may have been, but it is only matter of conjecture, and
should not be put forth as _truth_. Something more than slander in its
utmost expandings and accretions was needful to the tragic results which

We recur again to the only historical cause of excitement against this
lady, viz., Norton's hint that she possessed such marvelous wit for
guessing, as Upham supposes the people around her considered "proof
positive of her being possessed, _by the aid of the devil_, of
supernatural insight." That hint unlocks a door behind which may be found
a more adequate and philosophical cause of her arraignment and
condemnation than has hitherto been assigned. Since many persons now
possess, she too may have possessed constitutional faculties, which, at
times, enabled her to _sense_, comprehend, and enunciate facts and truths
which it was impossible for her to learn by man's ordinary processes.
Admit simply that she may have possessed intuitive faculties which read
the thoughts of others or sensed afar the spirit of sounds, and solution
of all mysteries about her is made. Wide awake, keen-sighted, good people
may have seen in her the exercise of such powers as were clearly,
distinctly, and beyond all question, extraordinary,--yes, supermundane.
What then? Why, by all fair logic from Christendom's faith at that time,
the devil must be her teacher, and she must be his covenanted servant.
Such a helper of Satan, however high in character or station, must be
deprived of power to work for him. Very wonderful revelations, such as
disclosures of the secret thoughts and private conversations of other and
distant persons, being a few times repeated by her, what could people,
true to their God and their creed, do less than demand her execution?
Nothing--nothing less. Their infatuated but sincere belief about the devil
plainly and with mighty force called for her blood. And this not because
of any crabbedness in her--not because of any lies about her--not because
of malice toward her--not because of the tongue of slander--but because of
facts, unquestionable facts, outwrought through her, which the tongue of
truth might dutifully publish and republish throughout the town. The
trouble, the murderous impulses, sprang from the _creed_, and especially
from those parts of it which made any and all mysterious and disturbing
outworkings devilish in their source, and which taught that the devil
could act through no human beings but such as had made a voluntary compact
to serve him. Those who had covenanted with him must die. Mrs. Hibbins was
born with mediumistic faculties, and because of her legitimate use of
these, the faith of her times conscientiously took her life.

It gladdens the heart to find a view which legitimately permits Mrs.
Hibbins to have been a bright, refined, high-toned, and most estimable
lady; and at the same time lessens the blackness of the cloud which has
long hung over her judges and executioners. They were not so weak and
wicked as to doom one to die because of temper, nor so villainous as to
slander away a lady's life. Stern religious adherence and application of
an honest, though deluded _faith_, made them executioners of all such as
had exhibited powers which in the dim light of their philosophy and
science seemed supernatural. Their weakness consisted of such strong faith
as could, and in emergencies must, put in abeyance the kindlier
sentiments of their hearts. Their great infirmity, which was then a
general one throughout Christendom, was solely infatuation _devil-ward_.

We charge our ancestors with _infatuation_. People in all ages and nations
have, no doubt, been subject to its influence. Perhaps every individual
man and woman is more or less swayed by it. Each one in respect to some
things may act without his usual good judgment, and contrary to the
dictates of reason. The people of Boston were obviously debarred, by their
infatuation devil-ward, from perceiving that Mrs. Hibbins might have
received extraordinary gifts from some other giver than the great evil
devil. And is it _impossible_ that infatuation influenced her recent
historian first to reject the historic wit, and substitute for it fancied
slander, as cause for the excitement against her, and then put his
substitution forth as the _truth_; though both common sense and sound
philosophy see at a glance, first, that it is only a conjecture, and
secondly, that it is entirely inadequate to produce the effects which it
was fabricated to account for? In doing this _he_ seemingly acted without
_his_ usual good judgment, and contrary to the appropriate dictates of his
enlightened reason--was infatuated.

Both of the two historians above quoted, virtually assumed that there
never occurred here any phenomena, either mental or physical, which were
not wrought out by agents, forces, and faculties purely mundane. Therefore
the facts of history necessarily pushed them up to make implied, and often
explicit, allegation that whole communities of resolute, wide-awake,
energetic people, were possessors of external senses which were pitifully
and superlatively deludible--possessors of enormous general credulity--of
perceptions and judgments woefully warped and benighted in matters
generally, excepting only a few of their girls and old women, who
manifested cunning and deviltry supreme in making high sport out of the
weaknesses of their elders and betters. Having driven stakes beyond which
nature and natural forces must not go under forfeiture of historic
recognition, anything not explainable by forces recognized within those
stakes, is accounted for by the sage exclamation, "But that was a time of
great credulity;" or "in the blind infatuation of the time," things were
thus and so. We are willing to grant the existence of much credulity and
infatuation both of old and now, but are not willing to allow that the
facts of seeing what some other persons have not seen, and knowing the
existence and partial operations of some forces in nature which some
people have not paid attention to, are proof of either "great credulity"
or "blind infatuation." Had the later historian been free from all
infatuation, he could have learned from passing developments that Mrs.
Hibbins probably, at times, was essentially a liberated spirit, hearing
what Swedenborg calls "cogitatio loquens"--speaking thought--and that her
repetition of what she thus learned took her life.

Hers was not a case of necessary spirit co-operation, was perhaps only one
of uncommon liberation of the internal perceptive faculties. Because
highly illumined, her brilliancy was judged to be diabolical, and
therefore must be extinguished.


Manifestations differing widely from any noticed in the preceding cases,
were observed in the presence of a Connecticut girl named Ann Cole.
American witchcraft history has transmitted no distinct account of the use
of human organs of speech by intellect that was foreign to the legitimate
owner of the vocals used, prior to the instance described by Hutchinson in
the following extract. The history of Ann Cole involves all that we know
of the Greensmiths, husband and wife, mentioned therein, and who were
executed for witchcraft.

"In 1662, at Hartford, Conn., one Ann Cole, a young woman who lived next
door to a Dutch family, and, no doubt, had learned something of the
language, was supposed to be possessed with demons, who sometimes spoke
Dutch, and sometimes English, and sometimes a language which nobody
understood, and who held a conference with one another. Several ministers,
who were present, took down the conference in writing, and the names of
several persons mentioned in the course of the conference as actors or
bearing parts in it; particularly a woman, then in prison upon suspicion
of witchcraft, one Greensmith, who, upon examination, confessed, and
appeared to be surprised at the discovery. She owned that she and the
others named had been familiar with a demon, who had carnal knowledge of
her; and although she had not made a formal covenant, yet she had promised
to be ready at his call, and was to have had a high frolic at Christmas,
when an agreement was to have been signed. Upon this confession she was
executed, and two more of the company were condemned at the same time."
Hutchinson also credits to Goffe's diary the statement that "after one of
the witches was hanged, the maid was well."

Another account of this Ann's case, furnished by an eye-witness and
personal hearer when she was in her trances, has been transmitted. The
writer of it promptly made, but afterward lost, minutes of what he heard
from her lips, and about twenty years afterward wrote his remembrances of
the manifestations, and forwarded the following account to Increase

"Anno 1662. This Ann Cole (living in her father's family) was taken with
strange fits wherein she (or rather the devil, as 'tis judged, making use
of her lips) held a discourse for a considerable time. The general
substance of it was to this purport, that a company of familiars of the
evil one (who were named in the discourse that passed from her) were
contriving how to carry on their mischievous designs against some, and
especially against her; mentioning sundry ways they would take to that
end, as that they would afflict her body, spoil her name, hinder her
marriage, &c.... The conclusion was, 'Let us confound her language; she
may tell no more tales.'... The discourse passed into a Dutch tone, ...
and therein was given an account of some afflictions that had befallen
divers, among the rest a young Dutch woman ... that could speak but very
little, had met with great sorrow, as pinchings of her arms in the dark,
&c.... Judicious Mr. Stone being by, when the latter discourse passed,
declared it, in his thoughts, impossible that one not familiarly
acquainted with the Dutch (which Ann Cole had not at all been) should so
exactly imitate the Dutch tone in the pronunciation of English....
Extremely violent bodily motions she many times had, even to the hazard of
her life, ... and very often great disturbance was given in the public
worship of God by her and two other women who had also strange fits....
The consequence was, that one of the persons presented as active in the
forementioned discourse (a lewd, ignorant, considerably aged woman), being
a prisoner upon suspicion of witchcraft, the court sent for Mr. Haynes and
myself to read what we had written.... She forthwith and freely confessed
these things to be true: (that she and other persons named in the
discourse) had familiarity with the devil. Being asked whether she had
made an express covenant with him, she answered, she had not, only as she
promised to go with him when he called (which she had accordingly done
sundry times).... Amongst other things, she owned that the devil had
frequent use of her body with much seeming (but indeed horrible, hellish)
delight to her. This, with the concurrent evidence, brought the woman and
her husband to their death as the devil's familiars.... After this
execution ... the good woman had abatement of her sorrows, which had
continued sundry years, and she yet remains maintaining her integrity.

"Ann Cole was daughter of John Cole, a godly man among us. She hath been a
person esteemed pious, behaving herself with a pleasant mixture of
humility and faith under very heavy sufferings, professing (as she did
sundry times) that _she knew nothing_ of those things that were spoken by
her, but that her tongue was improved to express what never was in her
mind."--_John Whiting to Increase Mather. Feb. 1682._

The source of Hutchinson's information is not known. Rev. Mr. Whiting, of
Hartford, was an eye and ear witness to what he relates, and therefore is
the better authority. Some great discrepancies are obvious in the two
accounts. One hundred years after her day the historian said Ann no doubt
had learned something of the Dutch language. But the better authority,
because it is that of one who both saw and beard the young woman when
under control, and continued to obtain knowledge of her for twenty years
subsequently, says she "had not at all been acquainted with" that
language. The former says "the supposed demons" spoke through her
sometimes in English and sometimes in Dutch; while the latter "judged"
that the devil alone was speaker, and implies that the language always was
English, though the tones sometimes were very exactly Dutch. The devil was
"judged" to be there divulging the malicious purposes of "a company of his
familiars" toward certain human beings. Here is manifested a propensity,
common to all describers of witchcraft scenes, to impute to the great
devil himself whatever was projected forth from the realm of mysteries.

A careful reading of the two accounts excites conjecture that Hutchinson
may have drawn his facts mainly from Whiting's letter, and yet failed to
regard and adhere to opinions therein presented as to the actual speaker
through Ann Cole's lips. Whiting says, that "she, or rather the _devil_,
as 'tis judged, making use of her lips, held a discourse" in which sundry
living persons were named as being familiars of the Evil One, and plotters
of mischief against some of their neighbors, and especially against this
Ann herself. This personal observer says, that "_she, or rather the
devil_," described Mrs. Greensmith and her associates, and disclosed their
evil purposes toward Ann and some other mortals. But the historian greatly
metamorphosed the matter; he writes, that she "was supposed to be
possessed with demons, who sometimes spoke Dutch and sometimes English,"
and that the persons who took notes (Mr. Whiting, Mr. Haynes, and Mr.
Stone) mentioned the names of several persons "_as being actors or bearing
parts in the conference, ... particularly one Greensmith_."
Wrong--entirely wrong: these mortals were the subjects of a discourse;
were not speakers, but persons spoken of. Thus Hutchinson converted
certain low-lived mortals into such demons as took possession of a human
form, and through it, in varying languages, held a dialogue in which they
openly told to mortal ears their own malicious purposes, and what mortals
they were intending to injure. Stupid. Whiting makes the devil, in varied
tones and assumed characters, speak out the names of the embodied
culprits, and tell of harms they had done, and more that they intended to
do. Sensible. The devil or his alias often acts well the part of a
detective and informer; in this case he managed to bring Mrs. Greensmith
to confession.

_Possibly_, and only possibly, that devil was only an influx of auras
which found entrance to Ann's inner perceptives, put in abeyance her outer
consciousness and outer senses, and let her inner ones sense and give
expression to the thoughts and purposes of some low-lived and lewd
mediumistic persons in her neighborhood, whose inner selves, she, as a
relatively freed spirit, could thoroughly read. Occult intelligences
sometimes actuate the physical organs, while yet the mortal's
consciousness fails to perceive either the action or the will that prompts

The account of her life makes it apparent that Ann, as a woman, had no
affinity with the base and lewd, but, being mediumistic, was caused,
either by design or by the out-workings of unconscious natural forces, to
disclose the baseness and lewdness of others. She apparently experienced
entrancement to absolute unconsciousness, so that she became, for the time
being, literally a tool--no more self-acting, and therefore no more
responsible, than a pen, a pencil, or a speaking-trumpet. Condition like
hers in that respect is experienced by many persons at the present day.

Some utterances made by her lips when she was entranced were successfully
used in court, either as proofs, or as helps for obtaining proof, that
certain other persons in her neighborhood were in league with Satan--were
the devil's familiars. Presentation in court of accusations that had come
forth from her vocal organs brought a woman, then on trial for witchcraft,
to prompt confession that the allegations were true, and both she and her
husband were condemned and executed.

Similar resorts for obtaining clews by which to trace crimes to their
authors are extensively resorted to now, and frequently with success; but
the statements of the entranced and the clairvoyant are not adduced in
court, nor should they be, because our world has not yet attained to
reliable skill for testing their accuracy; nor are high-minded and
trustworthy spirits often willing to expose any guilty mortals to
punishment by this world's tribunals and executioners.

How far the novel annunciation of their names and some of their practices
contributed to the condemnation of the Greensmiths, husband and wife, or
whether it did at all, is only matter for conjecture. But that either some
influences went out from them and acted upon Ann, or that some went forth
from Ann and acted upon them, or that there was reciprocal action back and
forth, is only a fair inference from what is stated above, taken in
connection with that foot-note of Hutchinson, which is credited to "Goffe
the Regicide's Diary," and reads thus: "After one of the witches was
hanged, the maid was well." No mention has been met with of any sickness
about Ann, excepting the strangely induced _fits_ in which she was used as
the mouthpiece of the strange occupant or occupants of her form. Her
becoming _well_ may mean no more than a cessation of her fits, or
obsessions. That these should cease after the execution of a person or
persons with whom she had been in distressing and uncongenial rapport, was
perhaps only a natural result from the action of universal laws. Drafts
may have been made from her system by forces not her own, which helped
invisible beings to act upon the condemned Greensmiths for good or for
harm. Occasion for such use of her elements or properties may have ceased
as soon as the gallows had finished its work. The fits ceased, perhaps,
solely because drafts of special properties from her were discontinued.
"After one of the witches was hanged, the maid was well." The execution of
one person and the restoration of health to another were viewed by Goffe
as cause and effect.

The Greensmith woman's confession of the use of her form by her
familiar--revolting as the isolated fact would be to us, and will be to
the reader--was the controlling reason which influenced us to adduce the
case of Ann Cole. We get from the old woman Greensmith an ancient
indication, which is paralleled by many unproclaimed modern ones, that
astounding possibilities reside within the scope and sway of forces
interacting between the realms of matter and of spirit, which possibly and
probably may be availed of for elevation as well as for debasement of the
human race. Many whispered facts of human experience are to-day indicating
that the old woman may have made true statement of her personal
experiences. If degradation and fatuity permit the leaking out of some
momentous facts of human experience which conscious vessels of fair
soundness and delicacy will retain within themselves, and hide from a
profaning world's knowledge, that world, nevertheless, may be entitled to
hints at the existence of occult, though only rarely perceptibly operative
forces and permissions of nature, through the only channels which have let
them flow forth for the world's free observation. The Greensmith woman's
fact may be regarded as representative of very many others of a like

I know a man who once visited a married couple, both of whom are
intelligent and refined, both estimable in character, the husband being a
highly respected member of one of the learned professions. This couple,
at their own dining-table, where they and the visitor were the only
occupants of the room, united in stating that once, when they had just
finished taking their midday meal, and were sitting at the table opposite
to each other, the lady's chair, with herself sitting in it, was moved
back by some invisible power, and forthwith she, by palpable but invisible
arms, was taken from her seat, laid upon the carpet, and there made to
experience all the sensations of actual and pleasurable nuptial coition.
While such were her positions and sensations, her husband remained on the
other side of the table, and they two were the only flesh-clad persons in
the room. One accomplished and truthful lady had such experience while her
consciousness and all her mental faculties were fully alert. Nature
enfolds astounding possibilities. The human race, in coming times, may
possibly be improved rapidly and extensively, by designed infusions of
supernal elements into fetal germs.

No evidence has come to us, and no apprehension is entertained, that such
experiences ever eventuate in physical conception; yet there are seen, now
and then, glimmerings of evidence that supernal beings can and do inflow
some of their own properties into the very marrow of some susceptible
mortals of either gender, or of both simultaneously and conjointly, so as
to modify physical systems in such manner and to such extent, that their
offspring receive, at the very moment of conception, such properties as
will ever afterward render them either better or worse because of
injections through the parents by intelligences whose presence and
operations elude perception by our external senses. Possibly both the most
beneficent and the most malignant of our race--both those whose moral
hues most illumine, and those whose shades most blacken the pages of
history--were conceived while supernal beings held the parents either
under strong psychological control or in deep unconscious trance.

The mother of the rough, lustful, and murderous Samson was visited by a
spirit being "very terrible."

The mother of Jesus was visited by the bright and glorious Gabriel, and
enwrapped in an abnormally sound, helpful, or holy aura.

Far away from Charlestown and Boston, where the two women noticed in the
preceding pages had their homes and met their fate, Ann Cole was the
_unconscious_ mouthpiece through which invisible beings carried on
dialogues, partly in languages, or, at least, in tones, which she had
never learned. The manifestations through her were no imitations of
anything before known on this continent, so far as history shows. Her
reputed doings were unlike any for which Massachusetts had hanged two of
her daughters.

From whom came the tones, if not the words, of languages which this
possessed girl had never learned? From whom came the things put forth
through her which "she knew nothing of"? And especially who "improved her
tongue to express what was never in her mind"? Any satisfactory
explanation of witchcraft must point out distinctly, and must admit the
action of some force competent to all such performances; a force
controllable and controlled by intelligence. The facts in the case were
set forth by a personal witness of many of them, who wrote at a time when
he was not under any excitement or hallucination which their novelty might
at first produce, but twenty years subsequent to their occurrence, when
their recorder should have been, and no doubt was, calm and cautious, and
when, too, the girl's own good character had been confirmed by good
Christian deportment through twenty years succeeding the marvels
manifested through her organs. If any history is worth reading, Ann Cole's
lips were used by intelligences not her own "to express what never was in
her mind." Either embodied intelligences--the Greensmiths and their
associates whose bodies were not present with her--used her vocal organs,
as Hutchinson's account implies that they did, or demons--spirits, as
Whiting supposed--spoke through her form.


At Groton, Mass., in 1671, Elizabeth Knap was more singularly beset than
most others of that century who were deemed bewitched. The authority
transmitting an account of her is exceptionally good, having been written
by Rev. Samuel Willard, minister then at Groton, in the prime and vigor of
life. He had graduated at Harvard College twelve years before, afterward
became minister at the Old South Church in Boston, and was for several
years at the head of Harvard College. The girl in question was his pupil,
residing in his family during the earlier portion of her affliction, and
was under his watch till its close. His opportunities for observing the
case in its rise and progress were certainly very good, and he made a
journalistic account of its phases and progress under many specific dates
from October 30, 1671, to January 15, 1672, a space of eleven weeks or
more. He was an attentive observer and close questioner of the girl, and
also a cautious and intelligent chronicler.

She was at first subjected to extraordinary mental moods and violent
physical actions, which came on rather gradually, showing themselves in
marked singularities of conduct, for which she, when questioned, would
give little if any account. Strange, sudden shrieks, strange changes of
countenance, appeared first. These were soon followed by the exclamations,
"O, my leg!" which she would rub; "O, my breast!" and she would rub that,
it seeming to be in pain. Her breath would be stopped. She saw a strange
person in the cellar, when her companions there were unable to see any
such. She cried out to him, "What cheer, old man?" Afterward came fits, in
which she would cry out sometimes, "Money, money!" offered her as
inducements to yield obedience; and sometimes, "Sin and misery!" as
threats of punishment for refusal to obey the wishes of her strange
visitant. She said the devil appeared to her, and that she had seen him at
times for three years. He often talked with her, and urged her to make a
covenant with him, which she refused to do. November 26, six persons could
hardly hold her. The physician, who for about four weeks had considered
and treated the malady as a natural one, now pronounced it diabolical.
She barked like a dog, bleated like a calf, and seemed at times to be
strangled. At length distinct utterances came out. "A grum, low, audible
voice" said to Mr. Willard himself, "You are a great rogue--a great
rogue;" and yet "her vocal organs did not move." The voice was replied to
as being that of Satan himself, and its author responded, "I am not Satan;
I am a pretty black boy; this is my pretty girl; I have been here a great
while." "When he said to me" (Mr. Willard), "O, you black rogue, I do not
love you," I replied, "Through God's grace I hate thee." He rejoined, "You
had better love me." The strength shown through the girl, the writer and
witness says, "is beyond the force of dissimulation, and the actings of
convulsions are quite contrary to these actings." Through all her
sufferings "she did not waste in body or strength." Speech came from her
without motion of the organs of speech. Also "we observed, when the voice
spoke, her throat was swelled formidably, at least as big as one's fist."
She said she "saw more devils than any one there ever saw men in the

No attendant sacrifice of life gave intensification of interest to this
Groton case, and it failed to become prominently conspicuous among
witchcraft events. Still it is more instructive on some points than almost
any other one of them. Here first have we found in colonial history any
statement that an intelligence speaking through a borrowed or usurped form
disclosed _who_ he was.

Mr. Willard, to whose care this girl was intrusted, and in whose family
she had been a resident, was convinced that some other being than the girl
herself was giving utterance through her lips, and in harmony with a
necessary inference from the general faith of his times, addressed the
unknown one under supposition that he was veritably _The Devil_. The being
thus accosted promptly said, "I am not _Satan_; I am a pretty black boy."

The girl said she had been accustomed to see her visitant, at times,
during three preceding years, and that she saw more devils than any one
there ever saw men in the world. Her notions in reference to the proper
application of words were obviously just as loose as the prevalent ones in
community then, which deemed any spirit visitant whatsoever a devil, or
the devil. An observer of such beings as she saw would to-day call them
spirits. When she perceived and called out to some personage invisible to
her companions, saying, "What cheer, old man?" she plainly indicated that
the being thus hailed was apparently neither more nor less than an old
man, and he, judged by her address to him, was by no means austere or
repulsive; and yet he doubtless was one of those whom she, or whom the
reporter of her utterances, was accustomed to call _devils_. There is no
indication that she ever saw one specially huge, malformed, malignant
personality, or that she ever intended to indicate perception of such a

The purposes and moods of Mr. Willard's interlocutor seem to have been
playful and kindly, rather than morose and satanic. Temporarily
reincarnated spirits are often prone to smile at the long-faced and
cringing thoughts which their advent evokes in persons not accustomed to
interviews with them. "You are a great rogue--a great rogue," and "you had
better love me," can hardly be deemed ill-timed or inappropriate
expressions from a lively boy, whatever his hue, who, on being mistaken
for the devil, would naturally banter the sedate clergyman whose creed
forced him to regard such a visitant as the Prince of Evil. He said truly,
and in better spirit than the minister's, it would be better for you to
love than to "hate" me.

Common fairness asks all men to regard any speaker's account of himself as
true, until some reason appears for distrusting him. No word or deed
ascribed to this pretty black boy, who said he was not Satan, renders the
accuracy of his statement doubtful. Distrust of him, if it spring up, will
probably be the offspring of prejudices, combined with ignorance of spirit
methods of opening ways to reach man's cognizance, and win him to seek
communings with his preceding kindred who possess more experience and
consequent greater wisdom than pertains to any dwellers in mortal forms.
Our incrustations of ignorance and prejudice withstand every gentle
appliance, and yield only to sledge-hammer blows.

Sensations, conditions, and various powers attendant on Elizabeth Knap
were emphatically extraordinary. Detailed journalistic account of them
having come down from a sagacious, cautious, truthful, and cultured
man--from one of the eminently trustworthy men of his generation--demands
credence. He says the strength of her body was "beyond the force of
dissimulation;" that "six persons could hardly hold her;" and that "the
actings were contrary to those of convulsions."

Another point is, that through the eleven weeks of such rough exploits,
"she did not waste in body or strength." Cotton Mather speaks of some who
were so preserved through similarly tortured states, that, "at the end of
one month's wretchedness, they were as able still to undergo another."
Similar preservation of flesh and strength, amid fastings and most
excessive activity, are frequent experiences to-day with the highly
mediumistic, especially in the earlier stages of their dominations by

Speech came from her without motion of her vocal organs. That much may
pertain to simple ventriloquence; but Mr. Willard says also that "we
observed, when the voice spoke, her throat was swelled formidably, at
least as big as one's fist." Ventriloquence has not usually such an
adjunct as that. Moreover, the minister was convinced that the utterings
were prompted by other will than hers.

This girl's experience abounds in evidences that her spirit faculties of
perception were so freed from hamperings by the outer body, that she could
consciously see, hear, and converse with spirits, and that her physical
system was subject to control by them for speech in varied forms and
modes, and for strange and violent action by her limbs.

In parts of the narrative which we have not copied, it appears that
accusation came from her lips that Mr. Willard himself and some other
godly ones in his parish were her tormentors. This was saying to Samuel in
most startling manner, as one of old did to David, "_Thou art the man_;"
for at that day faith was common that the devil had not power to accuse a
godly person, could not indeed accuse any others than guilty ones of being
contributors to outworkings of witchcraft. If the announcement was true,
Mr. Willard and other good ones, according to the faith of some at that
day, were covenanters with the devil. It was a fearful moment when such
accusation of the good clergyman fell upon his ears from the lips of his
tortured pupil. His resort, and that of another accused one, was to
prayer; and we can readily fancy that petitions heavenward then rose up
from the lowest depths of true and earnest souls, and went forth, in the
girl's presence, with such psychologizing power as loosened the hold of
any spirit possessing her form, and allowed her to regain full possession
and control of all her normal powers.

This subject of spirit control retained consciousness during her
entrancements, or during the times when her body was subject to a will not
her own, as many mediums do at this day. Consequently she would possess
more or less knowledge of whatever was said or done by her organs and
limbs, whoever controlled them. Being young, she could scarcely be
competent to make, and keep in remembrance, the broad severance of her
individual responsibility for what was done by others and what by herself,
through use of her own physical faculties. It was natural--almost
necessary--that she should become self-condemnatory for having had done
through her what gave distress and anguish to her friends, even though she
had lent no voluntary aid to the deeds, nor had power to prevent their
being enacted.

We presume her statement was true that Mr. Willard and the others then
accused were, though unconsciously, made to be contributors of aid to the
controllers of his pupil; true that she felt the workings of emanations
from them. Twenty years afterward an "afflicted" one in Salem Village
began to cry out upon this same man as being one of her afflicters. And
why? Because, probably, of constitutional properties in him which spirits
could avail themselves of as helps for entrancing or controlling
mediumistic persons. The laws which governed detection of tormentors of
the bewitched will come under more extended consideration in subsequent
parts of our work. Results indicate that Samuel Willard's system possessed
either material or psychic properties, or both, which exposed him to
accusation of bewitching some sensitives, whose perceptive powers could
trace back to their source any mesmerizing forces that entered into and
acted efficiently upon their own systems.

In his usual temper and judgment witchward, Hutchinson pronounced the
sufferings of Elizabeth Knap "fraud, imposture, and ventriloquism"! Shade
of Samuel Willard! How look you now, and how shall we mortals look upon
the man, who, ninety years after your day, casting a glance backward into
the darkened chambers of the long past, perceived yourself to have been a
credulous dolt and simpleton, unable, by eleven weeks' close study and
vigilant watch, to determine that the source of marvelous phenomena
manifested in your own domicile, before your own attentive eyes, was
exclusively mundane? From looking at the occurrences, as they lay dormant
and half buried under the dust which ninety full years had been throwing
over them, Hutchinson saw at a glance that they were nothing but frauds,
impostures, and ventriloquism. You, Rev. Sir, at first doubted their
supermundane source, but study of and deliberate reflection upon them for
weeks satisfied you that your doubts were untenable; you obviously was
devoid of such credulity as enabled Hutchinson to very promptly obtain
conviction that your Elizabeth was but an actor of fraud and imposture.
Alas for your sagacity, Samuel Willard!

Upham makes no account of either Ann Cole or Elizabeth Knap, though these
were decidedly the best American prototypes of the magic-taught girls in
Salem Village, whose schemings and exploits he dwells upon at great
length. He claims that the witchcraft generators and enactors there
studied, schemed, and practiced in concert at "a circle," and thus learned
how, and by what means, to originate and perform it. All known
circumstances conspire to indicate that neither Ann Cole nor Elizabeth
Knap had either visible teachers or co-operators in their marvelous
operations. Therefore, had the historian adduced those two cases--these
good exemplars of the performers at Salem--perhaps he would have been
asked who trained the isolated performers twenty and thirty years before a
necromantic seminary had been founded, at which the arts of magic,
necromancy, and Spiritualism could be taught and learned. Was there
anywhere a prior institution of that kind? If not, then we ask, was any
circle kindred to that at Salem an essential--a _sine qua non_--to
acquiring competency for skillful practice of witchcraft? or of acts
called witchcraft of old? May not natural endowments sometimes be ample
qualification for admitting the evolvement through one's form of very
great marvels? If not, the sporadic performances at Hartford and Groton
are troublesome to account for.

The advent of one spirit to Elizabeth Knap, and his use of her organs of
speech in carrying on a dialogue with the Rev. Samuel Willard, is
distinctly stated by that trustworthy chronicler. Also, according to him,
the girl saw vast hosts of similar beings--yes, more in number than any
one present had ever seen men in their lives. Here, surely, is very strong
testimony to the general fact that spirit action took sensible effect upon
and among human beings away back in 1671-2, in the quiet inland town of

What is fit treatment of such facts and testimony from such a source?
Should they be left unadduced and unalluded to, as they were by one
elaborate historian? Should they be called outgrowths from "fraud and
imposture," as they were by another? Or should writers upon the subject,
in manly way, both let the facts come forth and speak for themselves, and
leave the sagacity and veracity of their exemplary chronicler above
suspicion, till by facts, and fair deductions from them, they render it
probable that Samuel Willard was the slave of such delusion as
disqualified him for reasoning with common accuracy upon what his external
senses perceived day after day and week after week? Shrinking, by an
historian of New England's witchcraft, from distinct notice of Willard's
deliberate and carefully drawn conclusions from facts transpiring in his
presence, is not only a keeping back of important information, but
possibly is an implication either that Willard himself was an unreliable
witness, or a witness on the other side of the question, whose testimony
would be troublesome. Generous blood boils with rebuke when boasted
enlightenment either ignores or traduces the most competent and
trustworthy transmitters of marvelous facts, where so doing facilitates
command of room for setting up modern fancies in niches where ancient
facts have rightful foothold.

On the good authority of Samuel Willard we find that Elizabeth Knap saw
hosts of spirits, was roughly handled and spoken through by some of them,
and by one who said he was _not Satan_, but a pretty black boy. This was a
case of spirit manifestation.


Late in the year 1679, in the part of old Newbury, Mass., which is now
Newburyport, very many startling pranks occurred, of a kind which to-day
are called physical manifestations. These clustered mostly in and around
the dwelling-place of William Morse, an aged man, who with his wife, then
sixty-five years old, and their little grandson, John Stiles, constituted
the whole family.

Perusal of the records of this case has rendered it probable to us that
Mrs. Morse, the little boy John, and a young mariner, Caleb Powell, who
was frequently in at Morse's house, were all distinctly mediumistic, and
that their systems either supplied, or were used for holding, instrumental
elements and forces which spirits used in imparting seeming vitality,
will, self-guiding and motive powers to andirons, pots, kettles, trays,
bedsteads, and many other implements and articles.

Beauty and attractiveness seldom drape the foundations of even very
elegant and useful structures. Laborers digging trenches for foundations,
and others placing stones therein, are frequently rough beings, in homely
garbs, from whom the refined and sensitive often turn away as soon as
politeness and civility permit. Yet, though rough, coarse, and unsightly
materials go into foundations, and equally rough workmen lay them, the
nature and quality of materials there used, and of work there performed,
deserve inspection by any one whose duty, interest, or pleasure induces
him to estimate with approximate accuracy the value and prospective
utility of the structure which shall rest thereon.

Palpable, audible, visible pranks, seeming to be the willed actions of
lifeless wood and iron, possibly occurred in the seventeenth, because they
are common in the nineteenth century. Such pranks are foundations of
arguments which prove a life after death. A table, a chair, or an andiron,
manifesting all the usual signs of indwelling vitality, consciousness,
intelligence, self-willed action, and of possessing animal senses and
capacities, testifies to its being operated upon by some unseen
intelligence more convincingly than can the lips of the wisest and truest
man the world contains testify to any fact whatsoever which seems
supernatural. Vitalized wood or iron speaks "as never man spake;" yes, as
man, unless specially aided from outside of the visible world, can never
speak; it addresses men's external senses directly; it confides its
teachings to the most trusted and most trustworthy conveyances of facts
and truths to the mind within. The oft ridiculed, slurred, contemned
antics of household furniture are signs put forth to human view by occult
operators, whose stand-point, of vision and powers of comprehension enable
them to use some natural laws and forces for affecting man and his
interests, which human scientists have never clearly cognized, which
schoolmen do not embrace in their philosophies, and therefore the cultured
world generally has failed to put forth rational and satisfactory
explanations of many marvels which the ocean of mystery is often buoying
up on to its surface, where they become perceptible by human senses.

Modern mind has very extensively measured the credibility of witnesses to
witchcraft facts much as the good woman did that of her "sailor boy." On
his return home from a voyage around the Hope, he soon began to describe
what he had seen, and gave an account of flying fish. "Stop, stop, my
son," said the mother; "don't talk like that; people can't believe that,
because fishes haven't got no wings, and can't fly." "Well, mother,"
replied Jack, "I'll pass by the fish, and tell what happened in the Red
Sea. When we weighed anchor there, we drew up on its flukes some spokes
and felloes of Pharaoh's chariot wheels." "That, now," rejoined the
mother, "will do to tell; we can believe that, because _that is in the

In similar manner many people are prone to measure the credibility of
witnesses by the reconcilability of the things testified to, with the
general previous knowledge, observations, and experiences of the world.
Such a course is usually very well. But the rule it involves is not
applicable in all cases. Veritable flying fish exist, notwithstanding the
mother conceived them to be nothing but the fictions of her wild boy's
lively fancy. The facts of witchcraft may have been veritable; many
witnesses who testified to them may have been both truthful and accurate
describers, notwithstanding the incredulity of some historians whose
philosophies are too narrow to enwrap many facts which exist.

The strange manifestations at Morse's house, we have said before, were
nearly all such as to-day are denominated _physical_ ones; that is, such
as are manifested either upon, or through use of, matter that is
uncontrolled by any mortal's mind. Few if any intelligible utterances or
communications imputed to invisible intelligences contributed to the
consternation which was then excited in Newbury. This case differs very
widely from either of those previously noticed both as to the objects
directly acted upon mysteriously, and as to the human organs employed. It
invites to extended and careful attention. We must transfer to our pages
numerous, and some long, extracts from the old records; else we shall fail
to manifest with desirable clearness and authority the multiplicity and
character of those marvelous works, and their probable sources and

Mr. Morse himself, for aught that appears, escaped all suspicion of
complicity with, or connivance at, the strange doings. He seemingly came
forth from the furnace with no sulphurous smell about him. Caleb Powell, a
young seaman, mate of some vessel, but then on shore, was the first person
to be legally accused in this case. He was arraigned at the instance, and
on the testimony, of Mr. Morse himself. Some peculiar characteristics and
habits ascribed to Powell were such as would naturally cause him to be
watched, if strange doings appeared where he was present. In "Annals of
Witchcraft, Woodward's Historical Series," No. VIII. p. 142, it is stated
that Powell "pretended to a knowledge in the occult sciences, and that by
means of this knowledge he could detect the witchcraft then going on at
Mr. Morse's.... The dancing of pots and kettles, the bowing of chairs,
&c., was resumed with more vigor than ever when Powell came there 'to
detect the witchcraft.'"

Upham, vol. i. p. 440, says Powell "determined to see what it all meant,
and to put a stop to it, if he could, went to the house, and soon became
satisfied that a roguish grandchild was the cause of all the trouble....
It is not unlikely, that, in foreign ports, he had witnessed exhibitions
of necromancy and mesmerism, which, in various forms and under different
names, have always been practiced. Possibly he may have _boasted to be a
medium himself_, a scholar and adept in the mystic art, able to read and
divine 'the workings of spirits.' At any rate, when it became known that,
at a glance, he attributed to the boy the cause of the mischief, and that
it ceased on his taking him away from the house, the opinion became
settled that he was a wizard.... His astronomy, astrology, and
_Spiritualism_ brought him in peril of his life."

It is no unusual thing for even wise men to write much more wisely than
they know. If Powell correctly "_at a glance_ ... found the boy to be the
cause of the mischief," it becomes probably a _fact_, and not simply a
_boast_, that he was "a medium himself," that he was "a wizard," or
knowing one, and that his "Spiritualism," more _accurately_ his
mediumistic capabilities, "brought him in peril of his life." One
authority says the play "was resumed with more vigor than ever" when he
came into the house. For some reason he was very soon arraigned and tried
for witchcraft, but not convicted.

We have little doubt that his optics saw the boy performing tricks, and
therefore can believe that he accused John in good faith; just as the
clairvoyant soon to be noticed accused the medium Read. Powell probably
saw the boy perpetrating the mischief. But with what eyes? The outer or
the inner--his material or his spiritual ones? And which boy did he see?
The external or the internal one--the boy material or the boy spiritual?
In evidence both that our explanations of Powell's doings will be neither
sheer novelty nor mere fancy, and for the purpose of disseminating
knowledge of highly important facts, the following extracts are taken from
an instructive and interesting pamphlet upon "Mediums and Mediumship," by
Thomas R. Hazard: Wm. White & Co., Boston, 1873.

"I once saw Read" (a well-known medium for physical manifestations)
"affected by the abrupt introduction of light at one of his circles in
Boston, at which he was, as usual, securely tied by a committee chosen by
the audience, and fastened securely to his chair. The manifestations were
after the common order, and went on harmoniously until an Indian war-song
and dance were inaugurated. The exhibition was very exciting, and both the
song and the dance became so uproarious and violent that, although we were
in a three-story back room, I was apprehensive that not only the temporary
platform might give way, but that the attention of the police might be
attracted to the spot by the noise. Near by me sat Miss F., an excellent
clairvoyant medium, who was earnestly describing to some of her friends
the scene that was being enacted on the platform. She stated that two
powerful Indians stood by Read, and that it was he who performed the
wonderful dance.... Thus one of the best 'dark-circle mediums in the
United States' was not only proved to be an 'impostor,' but taken in the
very act of his trickery.... From all that was occurring before us, it was
too evident that Read was an impostor; for 'Miss F. clairvoyantly saw him
perform tricks which he palmed off on the public as spiritual.'... But
now, ... mark the sequel, and observe how easy it is for those who suffer
their zeal to outrun their knowledge to be mistaken; and how true it is
that as spiritual things can only be discerned by the spiritual eye, and
material things only by the material eye, so the spiritual eye can (under
ordinary circumstances) discern only spiritual things, as the material eye
can discern only material things.

"It seems that a self-lighting burner had been adjusted near the platform,
at which an experienced man from the gas-works was stationed, with the
gas-cock in his hand, ready at a moment's notice to turn on the light.
This man was within hearing distance of Miss F., and must have heard her
remarks;... he gave the cock a sudden turn, and in an instant all was
light, and of course the medium was--_exposed_--sitting fast bound in his
chair, with every knot as perfect as when first tied, but in a dying
condition from the effect of the tremendous shock his nervous system
underwent by the sudden return of the unusual volume of elements that had
been extracted from his physical body to furnish material clothing for
his own _double_, or some other spiritual creation, that was performing
the exhausting war-song and dance on the platform; nor is it probable that
Miss F. ever saw the _material_ body of Read during the whole time she
_clairvoyantly_ saw him.... Suffice it to say, that the suffering medium
was released from his bonds as soon as practicable, but not until after
three or four minutes had expired, ... after which, by the application of
restoratives, Read was gradually revived, and restored to his right mind
and condition."

Such statement of direct personal observations--coming from the pen of an
aged, but still vigorous, gentleman of ample pecuniary means, of more than
average culture, of acute perceptions, of careful and critical
observations, who has spent many years in "trying the spirits" and
contesting the strength and quality of testimony in their favor at every
step,--who hates, with a righteous and outspoken hatred, falsehood, fraud,
imposture, oppression, or hypocrisy, wherever or in whatever cause they
manifest themselves--is entitled to credence, and gives important inklings
of some occasional methods of spirit operations upon and around mediums.
From such a witness we learn that while a medium's limbs were bound fast,
and he claiming to be, and known, a few minutes before, to have been,
sitting bound hand and foot on a stage in a room just made dark, a lady
clairvoyant there present saw him loose, and moving about most vigorously
over the stage, doing "things, as to jump up and down," as Powell saw the
Morse boy acting. The clairvoyant's inner vision saw Read dancing--saw
either a perfect semblance of him, formed by use of special properties
drawn forth from his system, or else saw the veritable Read himself
practically then a disembodied and unroped spirit. She no doubt actually
saw thus, and saw the essential man Read loosed, and dancing most
vigorously. A flash of light, however, let suddenly on at the time,
enabled all external eyes to see the external form of Read sitting all
fast bound upon the chair.

That case teaches that properties drawn forth from the little boy John
Stiles, and molded into that boy's form, may have, by Powell's interior
vision, been seen playing tricks with pots and kettles, while neither the
boy's consciousness, will, or physical muscles had the slightest
connection with the antic articles. Facts showing such susceptibilities in
human organisms as were manifested in the case of Read, are too
significant and important for any scientist, philosopher, or historian to
ignore, so long as he claims to be, or, in fact, can be, a wise and
helpful expounder of very many records of ancient marvels.

At page 392, vol. ii., of Mather's "Magnalia," New Haven ed., 1820,
account is given of this case wherein it is stated that,--

"A little boy belonging to the family was a principal sufferer in these
molestations; for he was flung about at such a rate that they feared his
brains would have been beaten out: nor _did they find it possible to hold
him_.... The man took him to keep him in a chair; but the chair fell a
dancing, and both of them were very near being thrown into the fire.

"These and a thousand such vexations befalling the boy at home, they
carried him to live abroad at a doctor's. There he was quiet; but
returning home, he suddenly cried out he was pricked on the back, where
they found strangely sticking a _three-tined fork_, which belonged unto
the doctor, and had been seen at his house after the boy's _departure_.
Afterward his troublers found him out _at the doctor's also_; where,
crying out again he was pricked on the back, they found an _iron spindle_
stuck into him.

"He was taken out of his bed, and thrown under it; and all the knives
belonging to the house were one after another stuck into his back, which
the spectators pulled out; only one of them seemed to the spectators to
come out of his mouth. The poor boy was divers times thrown into the fire,
and preserved from scorching there with much ado. For a long while he
barked like a dog, clucked like an hen, and could not speak rationally.
His tongue would be pulled out of his mouth; but when he could recover it
so far as to speak, he complained that _a man called P----l appeared unto
him as the cause of all_.

"The man and his wife taking the boy to bed with them ... they were
severely pinched and pulled out of bed.... But before the _devil_ was
chained up, the invisible hand which did all these things began to put on
an astonishing _visibility_. They often thought they felt the hand that
scratched them, while yet they saw it not; but when they thought they had
hold of it, it would give them the slip.

"Once the _fist_ beating the man was discernible, but they could not catch
hold of it. At length an apparition of a _Blackamoor child_ showed itself
plainly to them.... A voice sang _revenge! revenge! sweet is revenge_. At
this the people, being terrified, called upon God; whereupon there
followed a mournful note, several times uttering these expressions--_Alas!
alas! we knock no more, we knock no more!_ and there was an end of all."

In no other remembered account is that little boy credited with saying
anything whatsoever. Mather reports that upon coming out of one of his
scenes of torture so far as to recover power of speech, "he complained
that a man called P----l appeared unto him as the cause of all." That
statement discloses a fact worth observing. There was tit for tat between
little John and Powell. Each found the other a focus of issuing force that
caused the witchery. The sensitive boy probably saw and felt, by his
interior faculties, that properties and forces from Powell were applied to
the strangely moving objects, and also in producing his own sufferings.
Powell, too, through his inner perceptives, could learn the same in
relation to the boy. Both were probably right in their perceptions, and in
their allegations. Mr. Morse suspected and complained of Powell. That is
something in favor of deeming John the lesser focus of force in this case.

The mauling "fist" was once seen, but eluded grasping, as spirit limbs
generally do. At last, a "Blackamoor child," perhaps brother to Elizabeth
Knap's "pretty black boy," was visible--and not only that, but audible
also. If it was the spirit of either an Indian or African child,
sympathizing with his own race, and who had been taught to look upon all
whites as oppressors, _revenge_ would naturally be _sweet_ to such a one,
or to a band of such. Earnest, heartfelt prayer might psychologically
break their hold, and induce them to say, "we knock no more."

Though Powell, when tried, escaped conviction, yet, said the court, "he
hath given such grounds of suspicion of working by the devil, that we
cannot acquit him;" therefore the judges charged him with the costs
attending the prosecution of _himself_. Such was equity practice in those

Having failed to prove conclusively that the harum-scarum sailor boy was
the devil's conduit for the startling occurrences among them, the good
people of Newbury naturally proceeded to inquire what other person was the
channel through which his sable majesty was pouring out malignity. Who,
next to Powell, among those present at the manifestations, was most likely
to have made a covenant with the Evil One? All eyes would turn
instinctively to the spot where the deviltries transpired, and to persons
who were generally near by when and where the performances came off. The
inmates of the house of exhibition, Mr. Morse, Mrs. Morse, and their
grandson, John Stiles, would naturally be very keenly watched and
thoroughly scrutinized. Their traits, habits, and antecedents would be
fully discussed; it was almost certain that one of the three must be
guilty; and which of them was most likely to be the devil's tool? Result
shows that Mrs. Morse was pitched upon. But why she? Her character was
good--she was religious and beneficent. _But--but--_

Mrs. Jane Sewall--Woodward's "Hist. Series," No. VIII. p. 281--testified
and said, "Wm. Morse, being at my house, ... some years since, ... begun
of his own accord to say that his wife was accounted a _witch_; but he did
wonder that she should be both a healing and a destroying witch, and gave
this instance. The wife of Thomas Wells, being come to the time of her
delivery, was not willing (by motion of his sister in whose house she was)
to send for Goodwife Morse, though she were the next neighbor, and
continued a long season in strong labor and could not be delivered; but
when they saw the woman in such a condition, and without any hopeful
appearance of delivery, determined to send for the said G. Morse, and so
Tho. Wells went to her and desired her to come; who, at first, made a
difficulty of it, as being unwilling, not being sent for sooner. Tho.
Wells said he would have come sooner, but sister would not let him; so, at
last she went, and quickly after her coming the woman was delivered."

Therefore, some years before the time of Mrs. Morse's trial, Mr. Morse, in
Mrs. Sewall's own house, volunteered "to say that his wife was accounted a
_witch_;" at which he wondered because of her beneficence, and then he
instanced her doings in the case of Mrs. Wells as evidence of her
goodness. The accounts pertaining to her render it probable that Mrs.
Morse sometimes acted as midwife, and show clearly that some people had
previously called her a witch. Such reports being in circulation, it is
not surprising that some women should object to admitting her into their
houses, fearing the introduction of brimstone; while others, who had
previously found her help very efficient, would seek her assistance in
hours of pain or sickness. The point of most significance is, that Mrs.
Morse had, some years previous to the disturbances at her house, _been
suspected of witchcraft_. Why? We do not know with any certainty. But the
appearance that she was a midwife, whose labors involved more or less of
general medical practice, suggests the possibility that her "simple
remedies," or her hands, had sometimes produced such extraordinary
effects, as led people to surmise that the devil must be her helper; just
as, for the same reasons, more than thirty years before, he was believed
to be co-operator with Margaret Jones. The conjecture naturally follows
that she was highly mediumistic, and that her intuitions and magnetism, if
nothing more, enabled and caused her to be a worker of marvelous cures. It
was at the abode of such a woman, and in apartments saturated with her
emanations, that the unseen ones frequently held high, rude, and
consternating frolic, during many weeks; it was at the home of one
_previously_ reputed a _witch_.

An indication that, even before the wonders occurred at her home, she had
been suspected of exercising also perceptive faculties that were more than
human; had been suspected of manifesting "wit" of the special kind which
cost Ann Hibbins her life, is given in the following deposition by
Margaret Mirack, who testified thus, Woodward's "Hist. Series," No. VIII.
p. 287:--

"A letter came from Pispataqua by Mr. Tho. Wiggens. We got Mr. Wiggens to
read the letter, and he went his way; and I promised to conceal the letter
after it was read to my husband and myself, and we both did conceal it;
nevertheless, in a few days after, Goode Morse met me, and clapt me on the
back, and said, 'I commend you for sending such an answer to the letter.'
I presently asked her, what letter? Why, said she, hadst not thee such a
letter from such a man at such a time? I came home presently and examined
my husband about it. My husband presently said, What? Is she a witch or a
cunning woman? Whereupon we examined our family, and they said they knew
nothing of the letter."

Mrs. Morse's possession of their secret was so unaccountable that the
husband in astonishment asked, "Is she a witch or a cunning woman?" The
question implies that it seemed so extraordinary to the man that she
should have knowledge of the letter and its answer, that any process by
which she could obtain it was seemingly beyond the power of mortals to
apply. Either witchcraft or supernal cunning must have helped her. When
asked by the same Mrs. Mirack afterward "_how_ she came to know it," the
witness says, Mrs. Morse "told me she could not tell." This indicates a
mind so conditioned, as many mediumistic ones now are, that knowledge is
inflowed to them, they know not whence or how, and, literally, they
_cannot_ tell whence it has come. This gives presumption that she
possessed mediumistic receptivities, and the outworkings from such
faculties would suggest that she received supernal aid. The only imagined
source of such aid at that day was the devil. Obviously she "felt
knowledge in her bones," as the acute negress did in Mrs. Stowe's
"Minister's Wooing."

Though Mrs. Morse was tried and condemned for witchcraft, the sentence was
never put in execution. When on her way from Ipswich jail to Boston for
trial, she said, among other things, that "she was accused about
witchcraft, but that she was as clear of it as God in heaven." When saying
this she probably spoke no more than exact truth.

She appears to have been a good woman. The candid and generally cautious
Rev. Mr. Hale, of Beverly, wrote that "her husband, who was esteemed a
sincere and understanding Christian by those that knew him, desired some
neighbor ministers, of whom I was one, to discourse with his wife, which
we did; and her discourse _was very Christian_, and still pleaded her
innocence as to that which was laid to her charge." This examination
occurred after her discharge from prison. The aged couple came out from
their severe ordeal with characters bright enough to claim the confidence
and respect of good men in their own day, and may claim as much from after

There is no indication that the boy of the house, John Stiles, whom Powell
accused as the great mischief-maker, was suspected of being such by any
other one of the many witnesses of the strange transactions. Those
witnesses were much better judges as to what persons the wonders
apparently proceeded from, than any person can be to-day; and one whom
they left unblamed, it is distinct injustice, as well as folly, for
expounders of the case in our times to put forth and traduce as having
been the contriver and performer of all that so agitated, distressed, and
exposed the lives of those who sheltered, fed, and kindly cared for him.
Modern historians, however, have been guilty of this great wrong.

It has recently been stated (Woodward's "Hist. Series," No. VIII. p. 141),
that, "what instigated him to undertake the tormenting of his
grand-parents, there is no mention as yet discovered." This begs the
primal question, viz., _Did_ he undertake to torment them? To this
inquiry it can truly be said, there is no mention in the primitive
records, as yet discovered, that he did. There is no evidence that any one
but Caleb Powell (that swift witness) suspected him of undertaking any
such thing. Where the records are so extensive and full as in this case,
their omission to mention any other accusers of the boy is strong evidence
that there was no apparent contriving or executing pranks and outrages by
him. The writer above quoted says also, "How long the young scamp carried
on his annoyances ... does not appear." Neither does it appear that he
ever began or was consciously concerned in any such. Only in appearance,
and that only to Caleb Powell the clairvoyant, and to the eyes of modern
commentators, was that boy in fault.

Upham, following the witchy Powell's lead, ignorantly regards what was
done by mystical use of the boy's properties as being the boy's voluntary
performances. And regarding the boy as a great rogue, and as author of all
the great mischief, he says (vol. i. p. 448), "His audacious operations
were persisted in to the last." We look upon that allegation as an
"audacious" defamation of an innocent youth.

In this Morse case we chose to present ostensible and reputed actors,
prior to presenting descriptions of the special scenes in which history
makes them prominent, because considerable knowledge of the age,
character, and abilities pertaining to the chief supposed performers in
the great Newbury tragedy, or semi-tragedy, will be helpful, if not
essential, to any well-based conclusion as to whether any one of them was
the leading intelligence that brought it upon the stage, and supervised
and managed its apparent actors--and, if either was, then which one among
them? If neither of them, then somebody else was manager there. Our
instructive citation from Hazzard discloses the occasional action of
agents and forces that are not recognized even to-day by the community at
large, and therefore we wished it to be read in advance of facts which it
greatly helps to explain. Way is now opened for introducing to those
readers whose patience has sustained them through this long prologue, the
facts of the case as stated by William Morse himself, and sworn to by both
him and his wife.

"THE TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM MORSE: which saith, together with his wife, aged
both about sixty-five years: that, Thursday night, being the
twenty-seventh day of November, we heard a great noise without, round the
house, of knocking of the boards of the house, and, as we conceived,
throwing of stones against the house. Whereupon myself and wife looked out
and saw nobody, and the boy all this time with us; but we had stones and
sticks thrown at us, that we were forced to retire into the house again.
Afterward we went to bed, and the boy with us; and then the like noise was
upon the roof of the house.

"2. The same night, about midnight, the door being locked when we went to
bed, we heard a great hog in the house grunt and make a noise, as we
thought willing to get out; and that we might not be disturbed in our
sleep, I rose to let him out, and I found a hog in the house and the door
unlocked: the door was firmly locked when we went to bed.

"3. The next morning, a stick of links hanging in the chimney, they were
thrown out of their place, and we hanged them up again, and they were
thrown down again, and some into the fire.

"4. The night following, I had a great awl lying in the window, the which
awl we saw fall down out of the chimney into the ashes by the fire.

"5. After this, I bid the boy put the same awl into the cupboard, which we
saw done, and the door shut to: this same awl came presently down the
chimney again in our sight, and I took it up myself. Again, the same
night, we saw a little Indian basket, that was in the loft before, come
down the chimney again. And I took the same basket, and put a piece of
brick into it, and the basket with the brick was gone, and came down again
the third time with the brick in it, and went up again the fourth time,
and came down again without the brick; and the brick came down again a
little after.

"6. The next day, being Saturday, stones, sticks, and pieces of bricks
came down so that we could not quietly dress our breakfast; and sticks of
fire also came down at the same time.

"7. That day, in the afternoon, my thread four times taken away, and came
down the chimney; again my awl and gimlet wanting; again my leather taken
away, came down the chimney; again my nails, being in the cover of a
firkin, taken away, came down the chimney. Again, the same night, the door
being locked, a little before day, hearing a hog in the house, I rose and
saw the hog to be mine. I let him out.

"8. The next day, being Sabbath day, many stones, and sticks, and pieces
of bricks came down the chimney: on the Monday, Mr. Richardson and my
brother being there, the frame of my cowhouse they saw very firm. I sent
my boy out to scare the fowls from my hog's meat: he went to the cow-house
and it fell down, my boy crying with the hurt of the fall. In the
afternoon, the pots hanging over the fire did dash so vehemently one
against the other, we set down one, that they might not dash to pieces. I
saw the andiron leap into the pot, and dance and leap out; and again leap
in and dance, and leap out again, and leap on a table and there abide; and
my wife saw the andiron on the table: also I saw the pot turn itself over,
and throw down all the water. Again we saw a tray with wool leap up and
down, and throw the wool out, and so many times, and saw nobody meddle
with it. Again, a tub his hoop fly off of itself, and the tub turn over,
and nobody near it. Again, the woollen wheel turned upside down, and stood
up on its end, and a spade set on it: Step. Greenleafe saw it, and myself
and my wife. Again, my rope-tools fell down upon the ground before my boy
could take them, being sent for them; and the same thing of nails tumbled
down from the loft into the ground, and nobody near. Again, my wife and
the boy making the bed, the chest did open and shut; the bed-clothes could
not be made to lie on the bed, but fly off again."

The disturbances commenced Thursday night, November 27; on December 3, six
days only from the commencement of the troubles (see Upham, vol. i. p.
439), Powell was complained of before a magistrate, by William Morse, "for
suspicion of working with the devil." Powell appeared for a hearing five
days later, on the 8th, and the testimony quoted above was, either then or
at the time of the complaint on the 3d, submitted before Jo. Woodbridge,
_commissioner_. Therefore the facts were of such recent occurrence as to
be fresh in the memory of the deponent; and his prompt suspicion of Powell
gives probability to the correctness of the statement in Woodward's
Series, that when Powell came to the house, pots, kettles, and chairs
"resumed" their action "with more vigor than ever." Powell's presence was
helpful to the performance. But the whole of Morse's testimony is not
embraced in the preceding. There is extant


"We saw a keeler of bread turn over against me, and struck me, not any
being near it, and so overturned. I saw a chair standing in the house, and
not anybody near. It did often bow toward me, and rise up again. My wife
also being in the chamber, the chamber door did violently fly together,
not anybody being near it. My wife going to make a bed, it did move to and
fro, not anybody being near it. I also saw an iron wedge and spade was
flying out of the chamber on my wife, and _did not strike her_. My wife
going into the cellar, a drum, standing in the house, did roll over the
door of the cellar; and being taken up again, the door did violently fly
down again. My barn-doors four times unpinned, I know not how. I, going to
shut my barn-door, looking for the pin--the boy being with me--as I did
judge, the pin, coming down out of the air, did fall down near to me.

"Again: Caleb Powell came in as aforesaid, and seeing our spirits very low
by the sense of our great affliction, began to bemoan our condition, and
said that he was troubled for our afflictions, and said that he had eyed
this boy, and drawed near to us with great compassion: 'Poor old man, poor
old woman! This boy is the occasion of your grief; for he hath done these
things, and hath caused his good old grandmother to be counted a witch.'
'Then,' said I, 'how can all these things be done by him?' Said he,
'Although he may not have done all, yet most of them; for this boy is a
young rogue, a vile rogue. I have watched him and see him do things as to
come up and down.' Caleb Powell also said he had understanding in
Astrology and Astronomy, and knew the working of spirits, some in one
country and some in another; and, looking on the boy, said, 'You young
rogue to begin so soon. Goodman Morse, if you be willing to let me have
this boy, I will undertake you shall be free from any trouble of this kind
while he is with me.' I was very unwilling at the first, and my wife; but,
by often urging me, till he told me wither and what employment and company
he should go, I did consent to it, and this was before Jo. Badger came;
and we have been freed from any trouble of this kind ever since that
promise, made on Monday night last, to this time being Friday in the
afternoon. Then we heard a great noise in the other room, oftentimes, but,
looking after it, could not see anything; but, afterward looking into the
room, we saw a board hanged to the press. Then we, being by the fire,
sitting in a chair, my chair often would not stand still, but ready to
throw me backward oftentimes. Afterward, my cap almost taken off my head
three times. Again, a great blow on my poll, and my cat did leap from me
into the chimney-corner. Presently after, this cat was thrown at my wife.
We saw the cat to be ours; we put her out of the house, and shut the door.
Presently the cat was throwed into the house. We went to go to bed.
Suddenly--my wife being with me in bed, the lamp-light by our side--my cat
again throwed at us five times, jumping away presently into the floor; and
one of those times, a red waistcoat throwed on the bed, and the cat
wrapped up in it. Again, the lamp standing by us on the chest, we said it
should stand and burn out; but presently was beaten down, and all the oil
shed, and we left in the dark. Again--a great voice, a great while very
dreadful. Again--in the morning, a great stone, being six-pound weight,
did move from place to place; we saw it. Two spoons throwed off the table,
and presently the table throwed down. And, being minded to write, my
ink-horn was hid from me, which I found covered with a rag, and my pen
quite gone. I made a new pen; and while I was writing, one ear of corn hit
me in the face, and fire, sticks, and stones throwed at me, and my pen
brought to me. While I was writing with my new pen, my ink-horn taken
away; and not knowing how to write any more, we looked under the table and
there found him; and so I was able to write again. Again--my wife her hat
taken from her head, sitting by the fire by me, the table almost thrown
down. Again--my spectacles thrown from the table, and thrown almost into
the fire by me, and my wife, and the boy. Again--my book of all my
accounts thrown into the fire, and had been burnt presently, if I had not
taken it up. Again--boards taken off a tub, and set upright by themselves;
and my paper, do what I could, hardly keep it while I was writing this
relation, and things thrown at me while a-writing. Presently, before I
could dry my writing, a Mormouth hat rubbed along it; but I held so fast
that it did blot but some of it. My wife and I, being much afraid that I
should not preserve it for public use, did think best to lay it in the
Bible, and it lay safe that night. Again--the next day I would lay it
there again; but in the morning, it was not there to be found, the bag
hanged down empty; but after was found in a box alone. Again--while I was
writing this morning, I was forced to forbear writing any more, I was so
disturbed with so many things constantly thrown at me."

Such is the account given by an eye and ear witness, who had as good
opportunities to receive sensible demonstration of acts performed as can
well be imagined. Did he see, hear, and feel all that he testifies to? Has
he left record of a series of facts, or only of fictions which he set
forth as facts? Was he a faithful and true witness, or not? Who and what
was he? An aged shoemaker, who ran the gantlet of a fierce witchcraft
ordeal and came out with character sound and untarnished; a man who "was
esteemed a sincere and understanding Christian by those that knew him."
The strong words in his favor, which came from such a trustworthy scribe
as the Rev. Mr. Hale, on an occasion when circumstances would influence
him to be careful and exact in expression, are clearly indicative that
Morse's testimony was probably true and discriminative. "A sincere and
_understanding_ Christian." What qualities give better _a priori_ promise
of correct testimony than do sincerity and a sound understanding? Where
these combine, their utterances imperatively claim very respectful hearing
by any one who is in pursuit of positive facts pertaining to human
experience. The history of him and his family, during those ten or eleven
days and nights through which they were enveloped in the waters of
mystery, trouble, and consternation, gives no indication that Mr. Morse's
reason ever yielded its normal and just sway over his actions or his
words--no indication of his being blinded by any excessive or bewildering
excitement or enthusiasm. The fact that he himself wrote out with his own
hand, and in the very midst of the startling and hair-lifting phenomena, a
narrative of events which gives dates, occurrences, and experiences
clearly, in perspicuous and often terse language, accompanied by
appropriate specifications of circumstances which elucidate the character
of the whole scene, bespeaks a straightforward, truthful, unexaggerating
mind, self-controlled, and moving straight forward in an honest statement
of events actually witnessed. Our ancient records contain few testimonies
that exhibit clearer or stronger internal evidences of exactitude and
reliability than that of William Morse. The form, language, and tone of
his account are all in favor of his intelligence, discrimination, and
credibility; so much so, that, taken in connection with his whole
character, we can conceive of no objection to crediting his narration,
excepting what shall be wrung out from the nature and kind of facts he
swore to. But neither their nature nor source was concern of his, _as a
witness_; and his own sound _understanding_ perceiving this, kept him
back from expressing any surmises or innuendoes as to who were the actual
authors of his great annoyances. The man understood his position as a
witness, kept his reason at the helm throughout the fearful storm, and
suspected and accused, not the little boy, but Powell. Obviously his own
senses, unbeclouded by the mists of unreasoning excitement, had witnessed
the facts he stated, and he knew that they had occurred. His testimony is

How can the occurrence of such facts be explained, or rather _who_
produced them? Historians say that the little boy, John, did. How could
he? Had history-weaving heads, when at work in the quiet study, been as
clear and as free from the blinding action of foregone conclusions, as was
that of Mr. Morse amid the flying missiles about his head while he was
writing, their reason, as his did, would have asked their witness Powell,
"How _could_ all these things be done by him," the boy? And the cowed
witness would have replied to them in the nineteenth century as he did to
Morse in the seventeenth, "Although he may not have done _all_, yet, most
of them." He would have backed down before the historians as he did before
the better "understanding" of Mr. Morse. Obviously to common sense, the
boy was incompetent to perform a tithe of what was ascribed to him. No one
but Powell accused him. The age of that boy is not given. He is not known
to have been called upon as a witness, and Powell says to him, "You young
rogue, to begin so soon." These facts, together with the absence of any
words spoken by him to any one, excepting on a single occasion, lead
naturally to the inference that he was quite young, and perhaps also that
he was apparently inactive. At no age in boyhood, nor yet in manhood,
could a single performer, or a host of men, have accomplished by
unobservable processes and forces all that is distinctly stated to have
been performed in and around the house of William Morse.

Any designation of its source which avows the mischief to have come
primarily from the mind of little John Stiles, by necessary implication
impeaches Mr. Morse's powers of perception and observation, and the worth
of his testimony. It indirectly, at least, accuses him of a great blunder
when he suspected Powell rather than little John. On the hypothesis of
modern historians, the sedate old man--the "understanding Christian"--was
but making much ado about nothing, or next to that; for the little boy was
not competent to much. So little could he do alone, that, were he the
chief deviser and performer, Mr. Morse was incompetent to distinguish with
common acuteness between the ordinary and the marvelous, or else he was an
egregious fictionist and impostor. Far, far better would it be both for
himself and his readers if the historic instructor recognized, and based
his inferences upon, facts well attested, and sought for agents and forces
adequate to manifest such results as were evolved. Vastly better would be
history when founded upon broad comprehension of existing agents and
forces, and a firm basis in the nature of things spreading out wide enough
to underlie each and all of the ancient marvels, and admitting an
imputation of them to authors whose inherent powers could bring them out
to distinct cognition by human senses, than it can be when it ruthlessly
pares down the dimensions of facts, dwarfs their fair import, and
impeaches the trustworthiness of those who solemnly attested to the truth
of descriptions which have come down from former generations! Better, much
better would it be to honor the fathers by omitting to undermine and
topple over their strong powers and good traits of character, and
perversely bring their positive knowledge, gained through the senses, down
to the lower level on which modern speculation obtains convictions!
Descent to free and reiterated insinuations and allegations that the best
individuals and communities of old were infatuated, credulous, deluded,
stultified, because some of their statements and actions are unexplainable
by our theories and philosophies, is unbecoming any generous and
philanthropic spirit. Fair play calls for frank admission that giant facts
occurred of old,--facts so huge that they cannot be stretched at full
length upon the beds of modern science and philosophy, nor be wrapped up
in the narrow blankets now in fashion,--facts so huge that they cannot
squeeze themselves through, nor be forced through, the narrow entrance
doors of some modern mental chambers. Does the hugeness which debars them
from entering contracted domiciles to-day prove their existence to be but
fabulous? Surely not. The sagacity and truthfulness of our predecessors
were sound and good. They recorded facts. Shame be to those who are
ashamed to admit that their equals in mental acuteness and accuracy of
statement may, of old, actually have witnessed genuine phenomena which
justified their descriptions. To brand the events as being the products of
fraud, credulity, and infatuation, because only modern limitations to
nature's permissions and powers render them unexplainable as facts, is

Newbury, in 1679-80, was obviously visited and disturbed by giants. To
deem that the biggest of these were children of little John Stiles, is not
only farcical in the extreme, but it necessarily, however indirectly,
asperses good William Morse, that "sincere and understanding Christian,"
and also his equally good wife, who passed through the severe ordeals of
witchcraft scenes and persecutions, and came forth untarnished,--asperses
them by an imputation of incompetency to observe and describe with average
clearness and accuracy events that passed before their eyes,--incompetency
to give a truthful and unexaggerated account of what they saw.

Every sentiment of justice begs for a tongue with which to rebuke the
sneers that overweeningly wise witchcraft historians have cast upon the
senses and the mental and moral states of the observers and describers of
the great marvels of former days. The foul broods of harpy adjectives
which history has sent forth to prey upon the vitals of good characters
for truthfulness and discrimination, should be forced to unloose their
talons, and hie themselves back to roost where they were hatched.

Assuming, as the histories of all nations in all ages and lands indicate,
and as many tested modern workers demonstrate, that some disembodied,
unseen intelligences can at times either banish from the human body, or
put in abeyance, or irresistibly control, the mental, affectional, and
moral powers of some impressible human beings, and also use their whole
physical structures and nerve elements as instruments; assuming, further,
both that such unseen workers may have been the actual authors of many
startling phenomena which the preceding pages have brought up before the
reader's mind, and that Mrs. Morse, Caleb Powell, and the boy were each of
them mediumistical, contributing to the performance of the
wonders--assuming this, the proximity of those several persons to the
spots where the marvels appeared, would subject them all to rigid
scrutiny, and their movements or their positions would probably, at times,
indicate to external senses that they were somehow actors in the _mêlée_.
They were obviously unconscious reservoirs of the forces there used, and
as such were all involved in the production of the great mischief. It is
credible, yes, quite probable, that the little boy was actually seen by
Powell enacting a prominent part; but that Powell, who then saw, was
practically a spirit, beholding a spirit form like in all things to the
boy, but moved, energized, and controlled, all imperceptibly to external
vision, by disembodied spirits. At the very time when all merely external
beholders saw the external boy standing about the room in quiet and
repose, or sitting still in the corner, spirit vision might have seen his
semblance being used for infiltrating seeming life, motive powers, and
longings for a lively jig and a merry time generally into the whole group
of household utensils and supplies. When dead wood and iron, when leather
and wool, when sausages and bread, when an iron wedge and a spade, find
legs, and arms, and wings,--when such become things of seeming life, of
forceful life, too, and of self-guiding actions,--they preach with power
which no mere human tongue can command. No eloquence from its common
sources can equal theirs in forcing conviction. They say "unseen
intelligences move us"--"unseen intelligences move us," and every
self-possessed and logical hearer responds, Amen.

All things have their use. This case of seemingly low as well as rough
manifestations, where spirits exhibited the effects of their force mainly
upon gross, lifeless matter and brute animals, shows more forcibly and
convincingly, if possible, the fact of supermundane agents, than did the
effective hands, and simples, and clear visions of Margaret Jones; the
"wit" or clairaudience of Ann Hibbins; the Dutch tones and unconscious
utterances of Ann Cole, or the contortions of Elizabeth Knap, and the
words of the pretty black boy. Life and self-action in dead wood and iron
are phenomena too striking and pregnant with meaning to be wisely slurred
or ignored.

Essex County has been the theater of several exhibitions of astounding
marvels. The performances detailed in this chapter beyond question excited
fears and disturbed peace throughout Newbury and its surrounding towns.
Also an apparitional boy has recently shown himself to a teacher and her
pupils in Newburyport, to the no small disturbance of that place. During
the first decade of the present century, famous Moll Pitcher, who, as
Upham says, "_derived her mysterious gifts by inheritance_, her
grandfather having practiced them before in Marblehead," practiced
fortune-telling and kindred arts at the base of High Rock, in Lynn, where
"she read the future, and traced what to mere mortals were the mysteries
of the present or the past...." so successfully, or at least so
notoriously, that "her name has everywhere become the generic title of
fortune-tellers." In that county, too, the mysteries and horrors of Salem
witchcraft were encountered. But scarcely any other event in that
territory seems more highly charged with the elements of incredibility
than the Salem historian's perception that little John Stiles was the
_bona fide_ author of the pranks played at William Morse's house. No
cotemporary of the boy, excepting impressible, wayward Powell, seems ever
to have suspected the little one as being the giant rogue. How blind,
therefore, were the eyes of all others of that generation! For now an
historic eye, looking back through the darkening mists of eight score
years and twenty miles north, absolutely sees _audacity_ and action, which
all living eyes, alert and vigilant on the spot and at the time, were
incompetent to detect. The world progresses; new clairvoyance has been
developed--clairvoyance which sees what never existed--to wit, little John
Stiles as the designing and conscious enactor of superhuman works.

       *       *       *       *       *

Very many modern scenes rival this ancient one at Newbury in the
roughnesses of manifestations and the difficulty of fathoming the purposes
and characters of the performers. Perhaps no other one of them is more
worthy of attention or more instructive than the prolonged one which
occurred at the residence of Rev. Eliakim Phelps, D. D., at Stratford,
Conn., 1850. In "Modern Spiritualism, its Facts and Fanaticisms," by E.
W. CAPRON (Bela Marsh, Boston, 1855), page 132, commences a very lucid and
authentic account of this case, covering nearly forty pages. The character
and position of Dr. Phelps, who furnished Capron with his facts, and whose
permission was obtained for their publication, make the account referred
to well worthy of careful perusal. On several different occasions, years
ago, it was our privilege to hold familiar conversations with Dr. Phelps
upon the subject of Spiritualism, and his details of spirit performances
in his presence prepared is to view him as having transmitted to his
offspring properties which were very helpful in setting THE GATES AJAR.


In the family of John Goodwin, of Boston, in 1688, four children, all
young, were simultaneously either sorely afflicted or set themselves to
playing pranks and tricks with diabolical furore. Which? An elaborate
account of what was either imposed upon them by other beings, or of what
themselves devised and enacted, was promptly written out by Cotton Mather,
who was an observer of many of the marvels while they were transpiring.

Poole, in "Genealogical and Antiquarian Register," October, 1870, says
those children were "Martha, aged 13; John, 11; Mercy, 7; Benjamin 5."
Drake, in "Annals of Witchcraft," says they were "Nathaniel, born 1672;
Martha, 1674; John, 1677; and Mercy, 1681." According to him, their ages
in 1688 were about 16, 14, 11, and 7, respectively. The two statements
agree as to Martha, John, and Mercy; but one makes the fourth, a boy of 5,
named Benjamin, while the other's fourth is a boy of 16, named Nathaniel.
We have not sought for data on which to either confirm or correct the
statement of either author. To show that they were young, is all that our
present purpose requires.

More than seventy years subsequent to the occurrences in the Goodwin
family and to the manifestations at Salem, Hutchinson said, "It seems at
this day with some people, perhaps but few, to be the question whether the
_accused_ or the _afflicted_ were under a preternatural or diabolical
possession, rather than whether the afflicted were under bodily
distempers, or altogether guilty of fraud and imposture." Poole, having
quoted the above, makes the following sensible query and comment. "Why
make an alternative? Both accusers and accused were generally possessors
of NOT _bodily distemper_, but of _peculiar susceptibilities growing
naturally from their special organisms and temperaments_, and were
probably as free from and as much addicted to fraud and imposture, as the
average of the community in which they lived."

If we read Hutchinson aright, he stated that a few people, even at his
day, were believers that there had formerly been some "preternatural or
diabolical" inflictions, but were in doubt whether such inflictions came
upon the accusers or upon the accused; while, in his opinion, all ought to
drop belief in anything preternatural or diabolical in the case, and seek
only to determine whether the strange phenomena resulted partly from
_bodily distempers_, or were exclusively frauds and impostures. We think
he made no alternative himself between accusers and accused, but exempted
both classes from supermundane influences, and queried only whether
witchcraft resulted partly from ill health or wholly from fraud. Be it so
or not, Poole's comment is appropriate, instructive, and valuable. It is
in harmony with the view which the present work is specially designed to
illustrate. We repeat and adopt his words, and say that "both accusers and
accused were generally possessors of _not_ bodily distemper, but of
peculiar susceptibilities growing naturally from their organisms and
temperaments," and in general character were on a par with their

Hutchinson's account of the family now under consideration is as

"In 1687 or 1688 began a more alarming instance than any which preceded
it. Four children of John Goodwin, a grave man, a good liver, at the north
part of Boston, were generally believed to be bewitched. I have often
heard persons who were of the neighborhood speak of the great
consternation it occasioned. The children were all remarkable for
ingenuity of temper, had been religiously educated, and were thought to be
without guile. The eldest was a girl of thirteen or fourteen years. She
had charged a laundress with taking away some of the family linen. The
mother of the laundress was one of the wild Irish, of bad character, and
gave the girl harsh language; soon after which she fell into fits, which
were said to have something diabolical in them. One of her sisters and two
brothers followed her example, and it is said were tormented in the same
parts of their bodies at the same time, although kept in separate
apartments and ignorant of one another's complaints. One or two things
were said to be very remarkable: all their complaints were in the daytime,
and they slept comfortably all night: they were struck dead at the sight
of the Assembly's Catechism, Cotton's Milk for Babes, and some other good
books, but could read in Oxford's Jests, Popish and Quaker books, and the
Common Prayer without any difficulty. Is it possible that the mind of man
should be capable of such strong prejudices as that a suspicion of fraud
should not immediately arise? But attachments to modes and forms in
religion had such force that some of these circumstances seem rather to
have confirmed the credit of the children. Sometimes they would be deaf,
then dumb, then blind; and sometimes all these disorders together would
come upon them. Their tongues would be drawn down their throats, then
pulled out upon their chins. Their jaws, necks, shoulders, elbows, and all
their joints would appear to be dislocated, and they would make most
piteous outcries of burnings, of being cut with knives, beat, &c., and the
marks of wounds were afterward to be seen. The ministers of Boston and
Charlestown kept a day of fasting and prayer at the troubled house; after
which the youngest child made no more complaints. The others persevered,
and the magistrates then interposed, and the old woman was apprehended;
but upon examination would neither confess nor deny, and appeared to be
disordered in her senses. Upon the report of physicians that she was
_compos mentis_ she was executed, declaring at her death the children
should not be relieved. The eldest, after this, was taken into a
minister's family, where at first she behaved orderly, but after a time
suddenly fell into her fits. The account of her affliction is in print;
some things are mentioned as extraordinary which tumblers are every day
taught to perform, others seem more than natural; but it was a time of
great credulity. The children returned to their ordinary behavior, lived
to adult age, made profession of religion, and the affliction they had
been under they publicly declared to be one motive to it. One of them I
knew many years after. She had the character of a very virtuous woman, and
never made any acknowledgment of fraud in the transaction."

This historian was born more than twenty years after the "great
consternation" which the Goodwin case occasioned, and therefore those must
have been elderly people who gave him accounts of personal remembrance of
it, and rehearsed to him their mellowed recollections of the past. From
such people he had probably heard many particulars, and received general
impressions which were one source from whence he drew materials for his
history, at least for his comments; also opinions then prevalent around
him were aids to his judgment when reading Mather's account. He omitted to
express directly any doubt as to the occurrence of such facts as the
records presented, but innuendoed, all through his account, that fraud,
acting upon credulity, begat and brought forth that entire brood of
marvels. He left us the facts, and stated that the children were "all
remarkable for ingenuity of temper." Probably his meaning is, that they
were remarkably bright or quick-witted. The historian adds, that they "had
been religiously educated, and were thought to be _without guile_." These
are points of interest both as items on which public judgment concerning
the facts was based at the time of their occurrence, and also as things to
be regarded by moderns when attempting to determine the probability
whether such marvels were produced voluntarily by embodied actors alone,
or by force exerted upon and through mortal forms by wills putting forth
power from imperceptible sources.

What do the quoted statements indicate as to the constitutional endowments
and acquired skill of those children for purposely acting out the feats
ascribed to them? Ready wit, sprightliness, or whatever is meant by
"ingenuity of temper," was a very good basis for any kind of performances;
but the character of the doings likely to proceed from that basis in a
given case, will be indicated by other possessions. Religious education
and freedom from guile are not very probable prompters of either egregious
trickery, or prolonged and mischievous imposture. Hutchinson's remark that
"some things are mentioned as extraordinary which tumblers are every day
taught to perform," is doubtless true; but he adds that "others seem more
than natural." Yes, they do. And it is these especially that the world
desires to see traced to competent performers. How did the historian
account for such--for those seeming "more than natural"? Solely by the
dogmatic remark that "it was a time of great credulity." What if it was?
Could credulity in the public mind enable untrained children to outact
jugglers, tumblers, and most efficient dissemblers and tricksters of
various kinds in their special vocations? What did the historian mean by
alleging _credulity_ in way of accounting for facts which he adduced, and
left without direct controversion, or any attempt at such? Was he
intimating that belief of the actual occurrence of such facts, though
witnessed through many months by the physical senses of multitudes, argued
credulity? If so, he put upon the word _credulity_ an inadmissible

Did he intend to say that credulity caused the senses of our fathers to
see, hear, and feel erroneously, so that they would testify less
accurately than those of the generation in which he was living? Perhaps he
did; and yet on what rational grounds could he? None that we perceive. Was
the former generation less truthful than his own? Probably not. Had it
less sagacity than his own? We can think of no evidence that it had. Were
its senses less reliable? Probably not. Was its belief in the testimony of
its own senses a proof of its _credulity_? No. Was clear statement of what
its senses had witnessed evidence of its credulity? It seems to have been
so to the historian, but is not to us. The fathers told of witnessing
things, which, if they occurred, were seemingly "more than natural." What
then? Does that prove that the things they described did not occur, and
thus prove a generation of the fathers to have been, as a whole, either
dolts or liars? No. The appearance is, that the historian was obliged to
admit that valid testimony to occurrence of facts around the Goodwin
children, which seemed more than natural, must be conceded; and yet he
could not account for the facts; he was mentally baffled, non-plussed, and
could only say, "It was a time of great credulity." That explains nothing,
while it tempts us to suspect its author of such credulity in his own
penetration, that he apprehended that a whole line of ancestry through
successive generations had been fatuous and exaggerative, since it
continuously described and swore to occurrences which conflicted with his
own theoretical limits to things credible. A credulity which caused him to
regard himself a better knower and judge of what actually transpired in
preceding ages, than were the very persons who lived in that past, and
were eye and ear witnesses of what then occurred, impelled the pen of this
witchcraft historian to ascribe the marvels of other days to causes or to
conditions absolutely incompetent to produce them.

We can extend much leniency to Hutchinson, because he lived and wrote when
the pendulum of belief, recently wrenched from the disturbing grasp of
witchcraft, and allowed to swing back toward extreme Sadduceeism, had not
acquired its legitimate movements under the action of mesmerism,
Spiritualism, psychology, and other regulating forces. Witchcraft's
unnatural devil had died from the blow he received at Salem Village in
1692, and for a long time afterward there was seeming non-intercourse
between men and dwellers in spirit realms; partially man was forgetting
that there are spirits, and doubting whether they had ever acted overtly
among men. Probably Hutchinson's thoughts were never led to inquire
whether the forces and realms of nature may not extend far above, below,
and around the confines of palpable matter,--extend beyond where man's
external senses take cognizance,--or where his natural science has
penetrated. His thoughts, perhaps, were never led to inquire whether there
exists natural provision for mesmeric and varied psychological operations,
nor to inquire whether, under possible fitting conditions, unseen
intelligences could possess and control certain peculiar physical human
forms. Lacking not only knowledge, but also circumstances which would
naturally generate any conjecture that both good spirits and bad alike
might sometimes come to earth in freedom, and work wonders on its external
surface and among its living inhabitants, Hutchinson, cornered and baffled
in search for an adequate cause for facts which he felt called upon to
state, could only credulously say, in _quasi_ explanation of them, "_It
was a time of great credulity_"!

His implied position that all the works were nothing more than natural
acts and sufferings of children, magnified and made formidable by popular
credulity, fails to yield satisfactory revealment of the nature and origin
of such facts as he himself presents and leaves uncontroverted.

What was the character of the Goodwin children themselves? They were
bright, religiously educated, and free from guile. The account shows that
four _such_ children, of a sudden, without previous training for it, all
join at first, and three of them long unitedly continue, in a course of
most distressing imposition upon their own family, upon physicians,
clergymen, magistrates, and the neighborhood; also that the imposition is
manifested by astounding physical feats, and simultaneous, identical signs
and complaints of suffering, even though the sufferers are in separate
apartments. If, possibly, by their own wills and powers they could perform
the tricks, how incongruous it would be with their alleged traits and
ages! How inconceivable that four such children, from the boy of sixteen
down to the girl of seven, or from the girl of thirteen down to the boy of
five, should conspire, and three of them co-operate thoroughly,
effectively, and long, in voluntarily and purposely producing such
mischief and misery as were there experienced! _Suspicion_ of fraud no
doubt arose. But the appearance is, that facts soon put the case beyond
any powers of fraud which such children, or any embodied human beings,
could put forth. Without previous practice and training in concert, a
successful attempt by themselves at what was done through and upon them is
incredible. No hint is given that they ever practiced in preparation. Had
they have done so, seemingly their father, the "grave man and good liver,"
must have known it, and would have been governed by his knowledge of it in
judging and treating his children. Who doubts that it would be shameful to
charge or suspect that man, and his friends and physicians, with such
credulity, _at the first coming on of the fits_, that they could not judge
fairly and sensibly of what nature of cause the actions and sufferings

  "O, star-eyed" Fancy, "hast thou wandered there,
  To waft us back the message of"--_credulity_?

Look still more closely at the circumstances of this case. The bright girl
of "great ingenuity of temper, of religious education, and without
guile," _was just out from under the infuriated lashings of a wild Irish
tongue_, when she commenced her--what? her frolic? her course of fraud and
imposture? Was that a _playful_ moment? Was that the time for a general
mood which would start a whole family of guileless little children to
unite spontaneously and instantly for a guileful and distressing
imposition upon relatives and friends? When she fell in fits, _from such a
cause_, was it a credible time for her bright brother to recklessly
increase the family excitement by imitating the sufferer's movements and
tones of distress? Was that a condition of things in which the younger two
would join the elder in sly additions to the distress around them? No;
most surely, No.

"Is it possible," asks the historian, "that the mind of man should be
capable of such strong prejudices as that suspicion of fraud should not
immediately arise?" We answer for him and say, No; emphatically, No. Such
suspicion must have been felt. And we ask in turn, is it possible that an
historian's mind can be capable of such strong prejudices as that
suspicion that such a family as he described, circumstanced as he made it,
was absolutely incapable of practicing fraud and imposition competent to
the results which he indicates were wrought out? Yes, his mind failed to
receive such a suspicion, and therefore reveals its own blinding
prejudices. Skepticism in one direction generated credulity in another
with him, as it does with many to-day.

Four children of the "grave man" were simultaneously and excruciatingly
racked and tortured precisely alike, and in the same parts of their
bodies, although being, some of them, in separate apartments, and
ignorant of one another's complaints. Such are the alleged and uncontested
facts. The citizens of Boston, two or three years ago, were permitted to
see, and we saw, even more than four, yes, eight or ten boys, strangers to
the operator, and mostly to each other, volunteer to go upon a stage,
where, in a few minutes, after two or three out of a dozen had been
requested to leave the stage, all the others were made to move, and act,
and suffer precisely and simultaneously alike, many of them standing often
back to back, and no one among them perceptibly looking at any other. This
was all occasioned by the mental, magnetic or psychological force of
Professor Cadwell.

If we presume (and why may we not?) that the wild Irish woman possessed
strong psychological powers; that Martha Goodwin was easily subjectible to
psychological control; that her brothers and sister were so too, and that
they were all naturally sympathetic, then we can see that nothing more
occurred, even if the whole that is told be literally true, than falls
within the scope of such psychological forces as have in recent years been
manifested by embodied, and, we may add, by disembodied minds. If in her
anger the old woman forced or found rapport between her own sphere or aura
and that of Martha Goodwin, way was opened for injection of germs of
suffering to the girl's system, and the systems of others in rapport with
her. Way was opened through which the tormentor could, though absent, send
upon the child ugly wishes that would keep torturing her so long as the
old woman kept the wishes active; as perhaps she did in many of her waking
hours. The account says, "One or two things were _very remarkable_. All
their complaints were _in the daytime_, and they slept comfortably _all
night_." When the old woman was asleep, and her resentful feelings were
dormant, the children also slept.

A passage-way so opened as to admit the entrance of one, usually admits
others of the same kind to follow. Where the old woman's subduing
will-force had entered and gained sway, that of her sympathetic, and many
other spirits, might do the same; and could make the children's outer
forms either accept or reject, at the controller's pleasure, any books or
class of literature which should be offered for perusal. Catholic spirits,
or any spirit, liking a little fun, might keenly relish the work of
astonishing Cotton Mather and his ilk, by showing preferences antagonistic
to his own righteous ones.

The case of Philip Smith, a very intelligent, efficient, and highly
respected citizen of Hadley, Mass., exhibits analogous phenomena. We shall
not go into that case in detail. It occurred 1685, and is very
instructive. Being sick, sensitive, clairvoyant, and pining away, "he
uttered a hard suspicion" that one old Mrs. Webster, _who had once been
tried for witchcraft_, and also had taken offense at some of Smith's
official acts, "had made impressions with enchantments upon him." His
"suspicion" and sufferings fired the minds of young men in the town to go
"three or four times" and give that old woman disturbance. Drake, in
Woodward's "Hist. Series," No. VIII. p. 179, presents the following
account: "It is said by a reliable historian that the young miscreants
went to her house, dragged her out, and hung her up till she was almost
dead. They then cut her down, rolled her some time in the snow, and then
buried her up in it, leaving her, as they supposed, for dead. But by a
miracle, as it were, she survived this barbarity. Still more miraculous it
was, that the sick man was greatly relieved during the time the helpless
old woman was being so beastly abused." Mather, in his account (ib. p.
177) says, "All the while they were disturbing her, he was at ease, and
slept as a weary man." This is all possible, and not improbable. The man
was obviously very susceptible to psychological influences, and could
trace felt malignant forces to their source. She, no doubt, was a
turbulent and odd old woman, for she had been tried for witchcraft, and
was probably a natural psychologist. As long as rough handling caused her
to call in, and keep at home, and concentrate all her thoughts and forces
for self-defence and protection, no emanations from her went out to the
sick man, who then consequently dropped into quiet sleep.

One of these Goodwins, says Hutchinson, "I knew many years after. She had
the character of a very sober, virtuous woman, and never made any
acknowledgment of fraud in the transaction." Probably, therefore, there
was no fraud. This sober, virtuous woman, a party concerned, years
subsequently made profession of religion, continued long to live a useful
and respected life, and never made acknowledgment of fraud. The
probability is near to certainty that she never acted any.

And how was it with the others? "They returned to their ordinary behavior,
lived to adult age, and made profession of religion." Look at the case.
Four guileless, bright little sisters and brothers, residing together
under their father's watch, in the twinkling of an eye, flash upon the
gaze of the town in which they lived, seemingly as adroit and proficient
tricksters as were ever known, and all of them alike competent to their
several parts. They remain the town's wonder for months, and then all
return to their former behavior, grow up and live Christian lives among
the witnesses of their strange doings, and never make confession of fraud.
Was there any _fraud_? Only the over-credulous in self-powers of
divination backward will believe that there was.

In the process of watching these children, and the annoyances and
sufferings they endured, it was discovered that when absent from home they
were in great measure exempt from the special evils; therefore
arrangements were made for their abode elsewhere; and probably not for all
of them together in any one family. We find that the girl Martha became a
resident in Cotton Mather's family not many weeks after the commencement
of the great consternation. And it is stated that for a time none of her
extraordinary demeanor was manifested there; yet subsequently the fits and
antics revealed themselves abundantly, even under the roof of the
devil-fighting clergyman. Some sayings and doings while she was residing
there, manifested more frolicsome and quizzical motives than prompted the
manifestations described by Hutchinson.

Turning to a much later historian, we quote from Upham as follows:--

"One of the children seems to have had a genius scarcely inferior to that
of Master Burke himself; there was no part nor passion she could not
enact. She would complain that the old Irish woman had tied an invisible
noose round her neck, and was choking her; and her complexion and features
would instantly assume the various hues and violent distortions natural to
a person in such a predicament. She would declare that an invisible chain
was fastened to one of her limbs, and would limp about precisely as though
it were really the case. She would say that she was in an oven; the
perspiration would drop from her face, and she would produce every
appearance of being roasted; then she would cry out that cold water was
being thrown upon her, and her whole frame would shiver and shake. She
pretended that the evil spirit came to her in the shape of an invisible
horse; and she would canter, gallop, trot, and amble round the rooms and
entries in such admirable imitation, that an observer could hardly believe
that a horse was not beneath her, and bearing her about. She would go up
stairs with exactly such a toss and bound as a person on horseback would

Such is a general summary of her feats as presented by this historian.
Does he believe that such things were actually performed either by or
through her? Does he believe that such were the literal facts even in
appearance? He nowhere, so far as we notice, till he sums up the case,
_distinctly_ charges fraud on the one side, or such credulity on the
other, as made witnesses falsify as to appearances. He seems to admit the
facts as _appearances_, and charge them all to the girl's extra cunning
and skillful acting. "She _pretended_ that the evil [?] spirit came to
her." Was it only her _pretense_? Who knows? Why say _pretended_? Was she
so generous as to give credit to another, and that other an "evil
spirit," for help which she did not receive? Are expert tricksters
accustomed to disown their own powers to astonish? Especially do they ever
spontaneously avow that the devil or any _evil spirit_ is helping them? We
think not. And yet it is stated that Martha Goodwin's own lips declared
that some invisible spirit was acting through her, or was helping her
perform her marvelous feats. Why call that a _pretense_, and make her a
liar? Why not put some confidence in the words of this religiously
educated girl?

The historian says that while she was residing with Mather, "the cunning
and ingenious child"--please mark the adjectives of the modern expounder,
applied by him to one whom the earlier records put among those who "had
been religiously educated and thought _to be without guile_"--"the cunning
and ingenious child," he says, "seems to have taken great delight in
perplexing and playing off her tricks upon the learned man. Once he wished
to say something in her presence to a third person, which he did not
intend she should understand. She had penetration enough to _conjecture_"
(why say _conjecture_?) "what he had said. He was amazed. He then tried
Greek; she was equally successful. He next spoke in Hebrew; she instantly
detected his meaning. He resorted to the Indian language, and that she
pretended not to know." Such are facts as deduced from Mather's account by
Upham and put forth by the latter, and which he attempts to account for by
supposition that the girl's own _conjectures_ enabled her to get at the
meaning of sentences put forth in languages of which she had no knowledge.
No doubt she was bright, but not competent to all that. Fancy and
imagination ply their wings needlessly when they rise from the ground of
fact and fly off to the lands of conjecture and pretense, thinking to
bring thence true solution of such a marvel. The girl avowed the presence
of a spirit with herself, and that he helped her. That explains the whole
transaction. Upon full separation from the body, each human mind loses all
knowledge of earth language, having no further use for it, because the
mind then enters conditions in which the thoughts of any other spirit,
whatsoever its native language, may be read at a glance. Whatever language
Mather might have spoken in, he would have been intelligible by any
disembodied spirit. For not words, but the thought, irrespective of its
dress, could be read. The Indian language she _pretended_ not to know.
Perhaps so; but probably that was no _pretense_. It is not probable that
the girl herself, as such, had much acquaintance with any other language
than English; any departed spirit who controlled her would have no
knowledge of any earth language whatsoever, nor need he have, for
unclothed thought was perceptible by him. A roguish mind behind the
scenes--and such a one may have played many a trick at the
parsonage--would be likely, at his own pleasure, to bother, astonish, or
confound the Rev. Polyglot by seeming either to comprehend or not, just
according to his own whims or varying moods as the play went on from step
to step. Mather's attempt to conceal his meaning from the girl might very
naturally be amusing to the thought-reading intellect then lurking in and
controlling the girl's organs, and quite as naturally would incite him to
play the wag a while. Martha neither _conjectured_ nor _pretended_ at all;
she was then quiescent, while other eyes looked through hers and saw what
was inside the mill-stone.

We have stated essentially that each mortal upon departing from this life
enters into conditions where human language is not only not needed, but is
unusable; therefore we may be asked how returning spirits can possibly
speak to us in our language, which is no longer at their command. They
measurably rechange or change back their conditions when they reconnect
themselves with a mortal form; they then come back to where earth language
is needful, and where fitting instrumentality for revival of knowledge and
use of such language exist. They, however, do not reconnect themselves
with their own former forms, nor often with forms which they can use as
well as they formerly did their own; in many, very many instances, those
who, in their own forms, were eminent for polished diction and fervid
eloquence, either get such slight control or get hold of such rickety or
such rigid vocal apparatus, that they can make no perceptible
approximation to their former productions. The reincarnated spirit is a
somewhat mystical being, half spirit, half man, and as a spirit can read
the thoughts of man, and as man can use human language.

Flattery was sometimes poured over the minister through the lips of
Martha, with a lavishness indicative of its flowing from some ensconsed
waggish spirit, amusing himself by tickling the vanity of the egotistical
black coat, much more than from a guileless miss speaking to her
consequential minister.

A special scene is thus described by Mather:--

"There stood open the study of one belonging to the family, into which
entering, she stood immediately on her feet, and cried out, 'They are
gone! They are gone! They say they cannot. God won't let 'em come here!'
adding a reason for it which the owner of the study thought more kind than
true; and she presently and perfectly came to herself, so that her whole
discourse and carriage was altered into the greatest measure of sobriety."

Very likely Mather was then egregiously cajoled by _some_ one.
Observation, together with information otherwise obtained, renders it
obvious that one essential condition of psychological control is, that the
magnetisms or auras of the controlling mind shall, at the time, be, in the
mass of its operative qualities and powers, stronger than, or positive to,
any other person's spheres, auras, or emanations amid which the control is
either to be taken or held on to. Suppose, then, what would be necessary
under the circumstances, that the atmosphere, walls, and furniture of that
study were highly charged with emanations from the vigorous minded Mather,
who was then present, and consequently his own halo was radiating there
and keeping his surroundings fully charged with himself. Physical and also
external mental and emotional effluvia from him might then be so repulsive
to magnetisms pertaining to spirits of any moral quality whatsoever, that
no visitant from unseen realms would try to withstand the repulsion. If
such was the condition of things, the parting exclamation of the last to
remain, might well be, "They are gone; God won't let 'em come here!" Such
statement would be in full harmony with the most common use of language
to-day by spirits, for they are accustomed to say that God won't let them
do this or that, when, according to their own oft-repeated explanation,
they mean only that the forces of nature oppose or control them. God and
natural forces with them generally mean one and the same all-dominating
power--God's forces as well as himself are called by his name by visitants
who read his operations with more than mortal accuracy.

"She presently and perfectly came to herself, so that her whole discourse
and carriage was altered into the greatest measure of sobriety." Yes,
naturally so; for Martha Goodwin herself resumed control of her own body,
and re-exhibited the religiously educated and guileless girl which she in
fact was, just as soon as usurping visitants vacated her legitimate
premises. So long as her form was dominated by another's mind, her
existence was either a blank to herself, or, if conscious, she was

Upham teaches that once, according to Mather, when people attempted to
drag this girl up stairs, "the demons would pull her out of the people's
hands, and _make her heavier_ than perhaps three times herself." Did the
historian himself who quoted those words and let them appear to be
accurately descriptive of facts, believe that they were such? Did he
believe that _demons_ acted within her, held her back, and made her
something like three times heavier than she normally was? Such things were
adduced by him as being _facts_, and it would be pleasant to know whether
he believed that the girl herself was those demons, and by her own action
made her own body three times heavier than common gravitation would make
it. Did such observable effects occur as Mather described? Probably they
did, and the historian's process of accounting for them implies that by
her own cunning, ingenuity, and histrionic skill, the child made herself
three times heavier than she actually was. If the allegations were not in
his estimation facts, why did he let them stand unaccounted for in his
summary of things accomplished by his "cunning and ingenious child"?
Perhaps he presumed that readers to-day are generally as ignorant as
himself of the vast many cases in which the present generation has tested
and proved by the best of Fairbanks's scales, that spirits augment or
diminish the weight of material substances at pleasure, and to as great
and sometimes greater extent than either demons or Martha Goodwin are
alleged to have done in the case above cited. He perhaps presumed that the
reading world at large was as ignorant and prejudiced as himself on this
subject, and that the world's clearing and opening eyes will continue to
see, as his glamoured ones did, only fibs in Mather's facts. This was a
sad oversight. Light from Spiritualism (see Dr. Hare, Dr. Luther V. Bell,
William Crookes, Alfred R. Wallace, and many others) has already
substantiated facts which prove that nature infolds forces by which agents
unseen can at their pleasure produce either levitation or increase of the
weight of material objects. Therefore such action may have been put forth
upon the body of Martha Goodwin. Yes, we now may _rationally_ believe that
there existed too much sagacity and truth among the men of witchcraft
times, and too little deviltry among the guileless children of that day,
to permit that fictions and rhetoric shall long be suffered to malign our
forefathers because they recorded true accounts of what transpired among

Mather states that this girl, at times, by whistling, yelling, and in
other ways, disturbed him when at family prayers. Upham says, "She would
strike him," Mather, "with her fist and try to kick him"--probably
meaning, try both to strike and kick him, for he adds, "her hand or foot
would always recoil when within an inch or two of his body; thus giving
the idea that there was an invisible coat of mail, of heavenly temper, and
proof against the assaults of the devil around his sacred person." That
"_idea_" looks much more like a child born within the historian's own mind
than a gift to him by Mather. A statement by the latter that her hand or
foot would always recoil when within an inch or two of his body, hardly
justifies the slurring innuendo which seems to be appended to it. But
ignorance of many operating laws, forces, and agents pertaining to the
subject discussed by the modern historian, let him sometimes become as
tempting a target for the shafts of ridicule as he found Mather to be.
Without presuming that Mather perceived that natural laws generated
repulsion between matter animated and moved by a disembodied spirit and
matter in its normal conditions, we can state that extensive observation
has generated the conclusion that unless there exists rapport with, or at
least an absence of repulsion between, the sphere of the spirit using the
borrowed hand or foot, and the sphere of the normal person aimed at,
natural law forbids their contact. William Morse made such observation as
caused him to say in his deposition that "the wedge and spade flying on
his wife _did not touch her_." Forceful and rapid approximations of hands
and feet under control of invisibles, toward the bodies of surrounding
witnesses, and marvelous arrestings of those moving limbs so that no
contact ensues, are of very frequent occurrence. Very many parlor
ornaments and household utensils, hard and soft, light and heavy, are, by
spirits, not unfrequently set in rapid motion back and forth, and
crosswise, promiscuously over and amid a crowd of people in a room, and
yet but few persons are ever hit, and the few sensitives in rapport with
the performers, and contributors to their apparatus, if hit, are never
hurt. The temper of Mather's shielding coat of mail was just as heavenly
as that of each other human being's coat which the Master Armorer in
nature's boundless shop forges and furnishes for the protection of each
human child who is sent forth to fight the battles of life in gross flesh
and bones. Not his own holiness, but either nature's antipathies or spirit
forbearance saved Mather from the blows, and the historian wronged him
perhaps when he intimated that the divine thought otherwise; for that man,
halting as his steps were, and small as his advance was, made nearer
approach toward a fair comprehension and exposition of our witchcraft than
any other American who wrote upon that subject, till since the publication
of "History of Witchcraft."

Many other pranks, not less marvelous than the ones already presented, are
ascribed to this girl; but notice of them may be omitted here, because the
general character of the operations around her are all that this work
proposes to exhibit. We must, however, give the reader opportunity to
peruse the historian's concluding comments upon this case. He says,--

"There is nothing in the annals of the histrionic art more illustrative of
the infinite versatility of the human faculties, both physical and mental,
and of the amazing extent to which cunning, ingenuity, contrivance,
quickness of invention, and presence of mind can be cultivated, even in
very young persons, than such cases as just related. It seems, at first,
incredible that a mere child could carry on such a complex piece of fraud
and imposture as that enacted by the little girl whose achievements have
been immortalized by the famous author of the 'Magnalia.'"

We are glad to note the author's frank and distinct confession that his
own solution seems _at first_ incredible. Why he put in the phrase "at
first" needs explanation, which he fails to furnish. He makes no attempt
to show why the _first_ seeming should not be the permanent one. It is
permanent. It will continue permanent to the end of time. It is and
forever will be _incredible_ that the Goodwin girl herself performed all
the feats which the evidence proves were performed through her organism.
If her body was the organ of all the performances which are distinctly
ascribed to her, she was not the author of them all, but only a channel
for the occurrence of many of them. Can reflection find her competent to
all that was ascribed to her? Incredible. Incredible not only _at first_,
but also on and on to the latest last.

Ingenious fancy, while weaving over this case a dazzling web of rhetoric,
may have deluded the eyes that overlooked the loom, and caused them to
discern other seemings than the first ones; but such delusion will never
become epidemic.

Hutchinson, usually a scornful handler of aught that emitted any odor of
witchcraft, we now requote where he said, concerning the family which
included this Martha, that "they all had been religiously educated, and
were thought to be without guile;... they returned to their ordinary
behavior, lived to adult age, made profession of religion.... One of them
I knew many years after. She had the character of a very sober, virtuous
woman, and never made any acknowledgment of fraud in this transaction."
Such is the testimony of one whose views and feelings obviously inclined
him, as far as possible, to consider all witchcraft works the products of
imposture and fraud; and who, therefore, was not likely to assign to this
family any good qualities which they were not widely and well known to
possess. He spoke of them as above, and refrained from any direct
imputation of fraud to them. He hinted at fraud, it is true, but probably
both lacked any historical or traditionary evidence of it, and was
conscious that if fraud were alleged, and even proved, it would fail to
meet the case in all its parts--in those especially that "seemed more than
natural." Nonplussed in the way of solution, he could only say "it was a
time of great credulity"! In one important respect he had better
facilities for judging this case correctly than can be obtained to-day. He
had listened to conversations of many persons who were living at the time
of its occurrence, and yet refrained from direct charge of fraud or
imposture. Also he intimated that such causes, even if alleged, would be
inadequate, because some of the transactions "seemed more than natural."

The later historian, unhampered by need to move in harmony with the
knowledge and beliefs of any cotemporaries of those Goodwins, and
abandoning historic grounds which furnish supermundane agencies for
solving the occurrence of acts which filled the town and colony with
consternation, delved into the composition of man, and fancied that he
found therein enormous capabilities for credulity, fraud, imposture,
infatuation, spontaneous out-flashings of highest, and more than highest,
feats of histrionic art, for self-generated triplication of personal
weight, for aviarial flittings, for equine antics, for self-induced
roastings, self-induced showerings, for comprehension of languages never
learned, &c.; fancied that he had found how one little girl, "religiously
educated, and thought to be without guile," could execute to admiration
each of those many things "seeming to be more than natural," and could
mimic with admirable exactness most astounding feats, and such as always
before had been supposed to require the powers of disembodied
intelligences. That was an astounding discovery. But the present are times
of great credulity, and in the infatuation of these days mental optics
have been molded, which, looking back nearly two hundred years, see the
brightest, most vigorous, and keen-sighted men of Boston--the "solid men
of Boston"--see them stolid and gullible, and see, too, among the people
there three or four little children, bright and religiously educated, and
yet malignant and agile as the very devil. What a contrast between the old
and the young then! Was there ever a day when Boston's wisest adults were
prevailingly blockheads easily befooled, and when those of her children
who had "great ingenuity of temper" metamorphosed themselves into
devil-like incendiaries, and set the town ablaze with sulphurous fires?
Alas! one modern eye has penetration enough to convince its owner that
such a day once was. That eye, "by the aid of"--something, seems "gifted
with supernatural insight;" certainly with very uncommon back-sight.

Grant to the Goodwin children all the natural human endowments which
imagination can conjure up and embody, also grant to them skillful
training and long-continued practice, which there is no probability they
had, and even then it was impossible for them, when in separate rooms, to
have voluntarily and designedly acted, and seemingly suffered, precisely
and simultaneously alike, as they are alleged to have done, and as they
would have naturally been made to do if all of them were under and
controlled by the psychologic influence of the single mind of the
resentful wild Irish woman, because then the same mental impulses would
move them all like machines, and simultaneously.

After their separation, the girl at Mr. Mather's house could never have
accomplished single-handed what is ascribed to her. The internal evidence
of the narrative of events which transpired there combines with common
sense in pronouncing it farcical--distinctly _farcical_--to regard that
young girl as the contriver and performer of all the works and pranks
which history says transpired through her physical organism, and,
therefore, to external eyes, seemed to be products of her own volitions.
The nature, quality, and extent of those performances bespeak producing
powers both different from and greater than such a girl possessed; bespeak
just such powers as departed spirits are now putting forth all around us
through living human forms.

It is not only at first, but _permanently_ incredible, "that a mere child
could carry on such a complex piece of fraud and imposture as that
enacted" through "the little girl whose achievements have been
immortalized by the famous author of the Magnalia;" and therefore the
world demands, and will yet obtain, a simpler, more rational, and more
satisfactory solution of this and kindred cases; solution that will admit
all the amazing feats of witchcraft to be embraced within the scope of
forces that finite human beings, the seen and the unseen in conjunction,
could in the past and can now so apply as to execute all the world's
marvels without aid from either the One Great Devil, from fraud, or from
imposture. Neither of these need ever have any connection whatever with,
or complicity in, such matters. The records teach, and man's recent
experience divines, that other, more befitting, and more competent actors
than mere children were on hand and at work in Cotton Mather's presence.

Though justice would have us assign to any Great Dull his honest dues, it
also permits us to pull off from his sable brows any unearned wreaths
which Cotton Mather and others credulously placed upon them. It also and
especially requires us to tear off from the fair head of guileless Martha
Goodwin that badge labeled _Fraud and Imposture_--that emblem of
deviltry--which _modern delusion_ has most cruelly, and yet most
artistically, wreathed around temples that seem worthy of a pure _martyr's
honoring crown_.


From among the works of witchcraft that occurred from 1648 to 1688, we
have now presented six cases, which bring into view some phenomena that
are very like many which are now called spirit manifestations. The
efficient touch of Margaret Jones, of Charlestown, the extraordinary
efficacy of her hands and simple medicines, her prophetic powers, the
keenness of her hearing, and the materialization of a spirit-child in her
arms, brought her to the gallows in 1648. Ann Hibbins, of Boston,
seemingly because of the wit-sharpening acuteness of her hearing, was
hanged in 1656. Ann Cole, of Hartford, Conn., in 1662, had her vocal
organs "improved" by some intelligence not her own for the utterance of
thoughts which were never in her mind, and some of the utterances through
her contributed to the conviction and consequent execution of the two
Greensmiths, husband and wife. At Groton, a spirit controlling the form of
Elizabeth Knap, in 1671, made avowal that he was "a pretty black boy, and
not Satan." At Newbury, in 1679, the wild dance of pots, kettles,
andirons, and things in general, came off on the premises of William
Morse. And at Boston, in 1688, inflictions upon the Goodwin children led
to the execution of Mrs. Glover, "one of the wild Irish."

Cases thus scattered in both time and space, half of them limited each to
a single actor or sufferer, and each differing widely from any other in
many of its prominent features, cannot satisfactorily be ascribed to
acquired skill in legerdemain, histrionic art, magic, or necromancy,
unattended by help from the living dead.

The name of the wild Irish woman, whose harsh language was speedily
followed by the distortions and sufferings of the Goodwin children, was
Glover. Calef calls her "a despised, crazy, ill-conditioned old woman--an
Irish Roman Catholic." The public believed that she put forth criminal
action upon that family, arrested her therefor, received at her trial some
indications that she had dealings with invisible beings, pronounced her
guilty of witchcraft, and hanged her. She doubtless forsensed retention of
power to act either directly or through others upon the objects of her
resentment, even after the gallows should have done its utmost work upon
herself. For it is stated that "at her execution she said the children
would not be relieved by her death ... and ... the three children
continued in their furnace as before, and it grew rather seven times
hotter than it was, and their calamities went on till they barked at one
another like dogs, and then purred like so many cats; would complain that
they were in a red-hot oven, and sweat and pant as if they had been really
so. Anon they would say cold water was thrown on them, at which they would
shiver very much. They would complain of being roasted on an invisible
spit; and then that their heads were nailed to the floor, and it was
beyond an ordinary strength to pull them from it."--_Annals of
Witchcraft_, p. 185.

Such facts were gathered from Cotton Mather's account; they come to us
from one whose influences and writings are alleged to have been most
strongly provocative of executions for witchcraft. Perhaps some of them
became so. But his presentation of both the momentous fact and its
confirmation by observed experiences, that the spirit of an executed
psychologist could act back from beyond the gallows, involved a crushing
argument against the wisdom of suspending her or any one else with a view
to stop bewitchment. The liberation of one's spirit increases its powers
for action upon surviving mortals. Mather's facts argued that.


The world-renowned and momentous display of extraordinary manifestations,
known the world over as _Salem Witchcraft_, originated and was mainly
manifested in what was then called Salem Village--territory distinct from
Salem _proper_--embracing the present town of Danvers, together with parts
of Beverly, Wenham, Topsfield, and Middleton, in the County of Essex and
State of Massachusetts.

There, in the family of the Rev. Samuel Parris, minister at the Village,
on the 29th of February, 1692, mysterious causes had wrought strange
maladies upon two young girls during the six preceding weeks, which
excited great public alarm, and produced such mental agitation that the
civil authorities were called upon to give the matter official attention.

The true origin and the actual authors and enactors of that tragedy are
among the prime objects of our present researches. It is not our purpose
to furnish a _full_ history, but to scrutinize and test the hypotheses of
other writers; and give a solution of the origin and specification of the
actors and effects of that tragedy different--widely different--from the
prevalent modern ones. Upham, Drake, and Fowler all agree in fundamentals.
All of them have assumed that the agents and forces which evolved those
marvelous operations were scarcely, if anything, other than ten or twelve
respectable girls, from nine to twenty years of age, together with a few
married women and a few men, voluntarily exercising and manifesting only
their own wayward constitutional faculties and forces, in the performance
of tricks, impositions, and malignancies; and with none other than
lamentable results. Their positions we deem open to deserved attack, and
we expect to overthrow much that has been reared upon them, by using facts
abounding in the primitive records of testimony given in at trials for
witchcraft as our chief instrumentalities. The three expounders just named
have rested much upon allegations that the girls and women alluded to
above had, just previous to the strange outburst of terrors at the
Village, been accustomed to meet as _a circle_, and at their meetings put
themselves in training for the efficient and successful performance of
what soon after transpired through them. Our readings of the records
pertaining to Salem witchcraft have, as we know and freely confess, fallen
short of complete exhaustion; and yet we have read much, and also have
failed to find any remembered allusion to such a circle prior to its
mention in the present century.

Upham states (vol. ii. pp. 2 and 386) that "for a period embracing about
two months they" (certain girls and women) "had been in the habit of
meeting together, and spending the long winter evenings, _at Mr. Parris's
house_, practicing the arts of fortune-telling, jugglery, and magic."

Drake says ("Annals of Witchcraft," p. 189) that "these females instituted
frequent meetings, or got up, as it would now be styled, a club, which was
called a circle. _How frequent they had these meetings is not stated_;
but it was soon ascertained that they met to try projects, or to do or
produce superhuman acts."

Fowler remarks, in Woodward's Series (vol. iii. pp. 204 and 205), that
"Mary Warren, one of the most violent of the accusing girls, lived with
John Proctor," who, "out of patience with the meetings of the girls
composing this circle," &c. "It is at the meeting of this circle of eight
girls, _for the purpose of practicing palmistry and fortune-telling_, that
we discover the germ or the first origin of the delusion."

The position of each of these writers substantially is, that the accusing
girls, at circle meetings which they held, qualified themselves for the
parts they subsequently performed, wherein, Fowler says, "their whole
course, as seen by their depositions, discloses much malignancy."

Upham has told us that these meetings were held "at Mr. Parris's house,"
and that they occurred within the space of "about two months ... during
the winter of 1691 and 1692." Drake found no statement as to "how frequent
they had these meetings," and Fowler finds in them "the germ ... of the
delusion." We have found no mention at all of this circle in the more
ancient records and accounts, and not one of the authors named makes
mention of the source of his information. Those men, two of whom are our
personal acquaintances and friends, would not state anything which they
did not believe to be true. We therefore shall not gainsay their
allegations. Still, we feel privileged to doubt whether their uncertain
number of meetings during the short space of two winter months, held _at
the minister's own house_, and under an eye as vigilant as that of Mr.
Parris, could have furnished those girls with opportunity to learn very
much in any arts whose practice would not receive the approbation of the
Rev. Master of the house--not much could they there of themselves learn,
at their few meetings in two months, of the anti-Christian arts of
"palmistry ... and fortune-telling;" not much could they then and there
accomplish in the way "of becoming," by their voluntary efforts, "experts
in the wonders of necromancy, magic, and Spiritualism."

The general purpose of any stated meetings "at Mr. Parris's house,"
naturally and almost necessarily had his approbation; and the presumption
from his general character is, that he was neither the good-natured
indolent man who let others take their own course, however wayward, nor
the absent-minded one whom children or even bright adults could easily and
repeatedly deceive and hoodwink. The probability seems excessively small
that such a one as he would permit repeated gatherings under his own roof
for the special purpose of acquiring knowledge of and skill in practicing
tabooed arts. Whatever their authority for it, the writers referred to
imply that the members of a circle of girls and misses, meeting statedly
"_at Mr. Parris's house_," there very expeditiously qualified themselves
to become not only most efficient actors of long-continued dissimulation,
imposture, cunning, devilish trickery, and fiendish malice, but also to be
_bona fide_ concoctors and successful executors of vastly complicated,
deep, and broad schemes of hellish outrages upon parents, neighbors, and
the country.

Wiser heads and greater powers than those girls possessed were manifested
by the acts they _seemed_ to perform. In a literary sense they were
uncultured; but they, doubtless, had been subject to as good domestic,
social, moral, and religious teachings and example as existed in any
community. The literary deficiencies of the girls are indicated in the
following extracts:--

Drake says, "They were generally very ignorant, for out of the eight but
two could write their names. Such were the characters which set in motion
that stupendous tragedy which ended in blood and ruin." In vol. i. p. 486,
Upham says, "How those young country girls, some of them mere children,
most of them wholly illiterate, could have become familiar with such
fancies to such an extent, is truly surprising.... In the Salem witchcraft
proceedings, the superstition of the middle ages was embodied in real
action. All its extravagances, absurdities, and monstrosities appear in
their application to human experience."

Such, according to their own concessions, was the feebleness of the agents
whom the historians credited with performances which seem superhuman, and
required for their production intellect and forces above what any
community has often witnessed. Notwithstanding the inherent and
insuperable incompetency of such persons to voluntarily devise and perform
what has been ascribed to them, those females have been earnestly set
forth as the actual and almost impromptu devisers and enactors of as
intricate and effective a scheme for inflicting tortures and misery upon a
vast multitude of human beings as has rarely been found in the annals of
the race. If it be admitted that they, through frequent meetings at the
parsonage, became fitted to conjure up and control the devastating monster
that had his lair and foraging-grounds at Salem Village, the presumption
amounts closely to certainty that those gatherings were ostensibly held
for some laudable object. Meetings for some purpose may possibly have been
held when and where the historians assume them to have occurred. But if
so, it is our privilege to assume the possibility that the meetings were
availed of by unseen intelligences of some grade, for developing into
facile mediums such members of the circle as were constitutionally
impressible and controllable by spirits; and, if so, the meetings may have
become productive of results widely different from any contemplated by
either the members themselves or the master of the house in which they

In his general history of Salem Village, introductory to that of its
witchcraft, Upham, giving us the geographical positions of their several
residences, and also their relations and positions in domestic life,
furnishes ample grounds for very strong presumption that frequent
attendance upon sportive meetings at the parsonage must have been so
inconvenient and onerous to several of those girls, that they would not
have been present many times in the short space of two months. Ann Putnam,
a sensitive girl only twelve years old, and Mercy Lewis, a servant girl,
or "the maid," in the family of Ann's father, two of the most efficient
pupils in that necromantic school, resided together in a home situated not
less than two and a half miles distant, in a north-westerly direction
from the specified place of the meetings. Elizabeth Hubbard, an important
member, lived about the same distance off, on a different road at the
east. On a still different road, and equally as far away at the
south-east, resided Sarah Churchill; and quite as remote, at the south,
was the home of Mary Warren; and the last two must take divergent roads
when they had gone only a little more than half way home. Each one of
these five was very conspicuous amid the ostensible accusers, and the
genuinely "afflicted ones." Excepting Ann Putnam, each was old enough to
be an efficient helper in household labors, and each, unless we except
Elizabeth Hubbard,--and such exception is hardly needful, because, though
a niece of his wife, she is mentioned as Dr. Griggs's "maid," which
probably implies that she was compensated for services she
rendered,--excepting Ann Putnam, each of them was "out at service."

What, therefore, is the probability that these five girls, with any great
frequency or regularity, went to and returned home from avowedly sportive
or necromantic meetings _at the parsonage_? Each of them would have to
travel, in going and returning, not less than five or six miles, mostly
along separate routes, in winter's shortest days, by lonely and crooked
roads, through miles of dark forests, over winter's snows, and amid its
freezing airs. What is the probability that such persons, so
circumstanced, would either desire to go, or be permitted by parents and
employers to go, frequently and regularly to such meetings? Slight--very
slight--because both natural and domestic obstacles must have been great.
Were horses, vehicles, and drivers, or were even saddle-horses, regularly
at the command of such girls for conveyance to and from such meetings?
Would such persons, if physically strong and courageous enough to go on
foot, be often spared by their employers to spend long winter evenings,
and two hours more for travel, in practicing "fortune-telling, necromancy,
and magic"? Such questions of themselves put forth a negative answer.
Frequent attendance by such members of the circle was next to an
impossibility. If they learned much upon any subject at the very few
meetings which circumstances would permit them to attend in the short
space of two months, they were very apt pupils indeed. That they became
very considerably modified and unfolded in certain directions in
consequence of meeting together occasionally is very credible.

We should concede its probable correctness, were an historian to make the
supposition that the two Indian slaves in Mr. Parris's kitchen, John
Indian and his wife Tituba, often amused themselves and any young folks or
other visitors, who there basked in genial light and warmth from blazing
logs in a huge New England fireplace on a cold winter's evening, by
rehearsing ghost stories and magic lore, and performing any such feats in
fortune-telling or other mystical doings as they might be able to exhibit,
or as might transpire through them. That the little girls, Elizabeth,
daughter of Mr. Parris, and Abigail Williams, his niece, were accustomed
to spend many cold winter evenings in the warm kitchen of their own home
is very credible. Mary Walcut and Susanna Sheldon, who lived in the near
neighborhood, perhaps dropped in frequently. But the majority of those
whose astonishing proficiency in performing what Drake said the circle met
for, viz., "to do or produce superhuman acts," and for _learning_, as
Upham would say, how to manifest "the superstition of the middle ages ...
embodied in real action,"--the _majority_ of those girls obviously must
have had only very restricted opportunities for study and practice at the
parsonage. It is not at all improbable that each of them was present in
that kitchen occasionally during two months of that winter; nor that each
of them was impregnated by the auras of that place and of its occupants
both visible and invisible; nor that the physical and psychic soils in
each were there mellowed, and also sown with some seed which produced
unlooked-for fruits during the following spring and summer.

Mediumistic capabilities are innate peculiarities, measurably hereditary,
and nearly always amenable to special conditions and surroundings for
conspicuous development. King Saul became a prophet, i. e., a medium, only
when he met, mingled with, and imbibed emanations from prophets or
mediums. Messengers whom he sent to the prophets succumbed to new and
developing influences upon arriving at their destination, and became
suddenly prophets themselves. Latent germs of spiritualistic capabilities,
if permeated by quickening auras, which often emanate from positive
mediums, frequently unfold into mediumship, as naturally as specific
elements, reaching latent germs in many human systems, expand those germs
into measles, or into whooping-cough; or as naturally as listening to
soul-stirring music energizes latent capabilities in many who are acted
upon by its strains, and helps such to become themselves better musicians
than before.

The parsonage kitchen--that nestling-place of John Indian and his wife
Tituba--may have been that winter a little Delphos, or a little Mount
Horeb, that is, a spot where developing nourishments of mediumistic germs
were collected in unusual abundance, and were unwontedly operative. We are
not only ready to admit, but deem it probable, that any susceptible
persons who came into the presence of John and Tituba, in their special
room, may have there imbibed properties unsought and unperceived which
fostered the development of such visitors into tools or instruments, by
the use of which the genuine authors of Salem witchcraft brought out their
work upon a public stage, and prosecuted its terrific enactment.
Smothering our serious doubts whether any regular meetings at stated times
were arranged for or held, we are entirely ready to let the supposition
stand that gatherings, more or less extensive, occasionally occurred, at
which fortune-telling, necromancy, magic, or Spiritualism, was made the
subject of either sportive or serious attention, and we will let results
indicate who managed the visible performers during the exercises or
entertainments there.

Upham's beautifully rhetorical and eloquent efforts to show that because
they, as he states, held a number of meetings for learning and practicing
mystic arts, those rustic, illiterate girls thereby and thereat qualified
themselves to concoct and accomplish of their own accord, and by their
histrionic and malicious capabilities, all that mighty scheme or plan
which his predecessor and himself lay to their charge, fail, entirely
fail, to meet the fair demands of that common sense which rigidly requires
forces and agents adequate in their nature and conditions to produce all
effects which are ascribed to them.

Fowler seems to have inferred from some statements ascribed to Proctor,
that the latter threatened to go and force Mary Warren to leave the
_circle_. We do not so read the account.

The morning of March 25,--that is, the next morning after the examination
of Rebecca Nurse,--John Proctor said "he was going to fetch home his jade"
(Mary Warren); "he left her there" (at the village) "last night, and had
rather given 40c than let her come up." That is, apparently, he had rather
have given that sum than to have had her be present at the examination of
Mrs. Nurse; for, continued he, "if they were let alone, Sr., we should all
be devils and witches quickly; they should rather be had to the whipping
post; but he would fetch his jade home and thrust the devil out of her,
... crying, hang them--hang them. And also added, that when she was first
taken with fits he kept her close to the wheel, and threatened to thrash
her, and then she had no more fits till the next day" (when) "he was gone
forth, and then she must have her fits again forsooth," &c.--_Woodward's
Series_, vol. i. p. 63.

It is obvious from the above that Proctor's objection was to his jade's
attendance upon the examination of the accused--to her attendance at
court--and not at the circle, which, according to Upham, should have
closed its meetings a month at least before the 25th of March. And yet S.
P. Fowler says (Woodward's Series, vol. iii. p. 204), that "Proctor, out
of all patience with the _meetings of the girls composing this circle_,
one day said he was going to the village to bring Mary Warren, the jade,
home." Most readers will infer from such a statement that Proctor proposed
to take the girl away from the "circle;" but the statement from which the
annotator drew his information, when taken in connection with its date,
clearly shows that the threats to bring home the jade and thrash her were
subsequent to the assemblages of the circle, and were made at a time when
the girls were being used as witnesses before the examining magistrates.
That which tried the resolute man's patience, was not the meetings of the
_circle_, but the testimony of the girls in court, which threatened to
make all the people "devils and witches quickly."

Proctor's stopping the _fits_, by threats to thrash the girl, intimates
that the fits were measurably controllable by the will of some one. That
much may be true in relation to almost all diseases and maladies of the
body, but probably not as much so in most other kinds as in those which
are imposed by a will that has no natural alliance with the agitated body.
Under the influence of threats, the girl would naturally struggle to get
full possession of all her own powers and faculties, and the effort would
put her own elements in such commotion that for a time no foreign will
could get control over her form. Threats, medicines of certain kinds, and
many other applications, may temporally render almost any medium's system
uncontrollable by spirits. Calmness, both of mind and body, and darkness,
too, which is less positive and disintegrating than light, in action upon
instruments made and used by spirits, are very helpful to control of
borrowed forms.

In some of his comments (vol. ii. p. 434) Upham wrote more wisely than
himself seems to have known. Words from his pen state that "one of the
sources of the delusion of 1692, was ignorance of many natural laws that
have been revealed by modern science. A vast amount of knowledge on these
subjects has been attained since that time." True, true indeed. And had
the author of that statement been familiar with important portions of that
"vast amount of" new "knowledge," he himself, as readily as those who are
better versed in a certain class of modern revealments, would have seen
and felt the perfect childishness of his attempt to make those rustic
girls the conscious contrivers and perverse and malignant actors of the
whole of the vast, complicated, and terrific tragedy of Salem witchcraft.

He might have known when he wrote, he ought to have known then, that Dr.
Robert Hare, of Philadelphia, who was eminent, distinctly and broadly
eminent, as a scientist, had in 1855 published to the world a rigidly
scientific _demonstration_ that some unseen agent, intelligent enough to
understand and comply with verbal requests, repeatedly moved the arms of
scale-beams contrary to the normal action of gravitation. Science, there
and then, revealed the existence of some natural law or laws which permit
unseen and impalpable intelligences, under some conditions, to put forth
action upon matter, with force and to extent, which man can measure in
pounds avoirdupois. That single achievement of modern science teaches the
wisdom of exempting seemingly diabolized and mischievous children from
charge of being devils incarnate, until we have determined whether some
beings of greater powers and different dispositions may not have usurped
control of youthful and pliant human forms, and through them manifested
schemes and pranks that originated in supernal brains, and were enacted by
use of such forces as can be manipulated by none below disembodied

Obviously he who was cognizant that science had made recent discoveries,
suffered himself to remain in ignorance of what to him, as witchcraft
historian, were the most pertinent and important parts of the knowledge
recently gained; ignorant of those parts which were most closely connected
with philosophical solution of the mysteries which pervaded the history he
was elaborating. His blindness to what science--yes, to what exact
physical science--by her rigid processes of weighing and measuring had
positively _demonstrated_, bespeaks his short-comings, and would bespeak
the unphilosophical stand-point of any historian of, or critic upon, the
world's marvels, who, since the day of Hare, ignores the light radiating
from his demonstration, and continues to grope on in darkness which use of
that light would dispel. Take into the catalogue of natural agents and
forces all those whose existence and action, science, as applied by Dr.
Hare twenty years ago, and again by Mr. Crookes and others in England more
recently, backed, too, by the observations and tests of thousands less
erudite, has _demonstrated_, and then all occasion to look upon our
fathers as numskulls, and their daughters as proficient devils, at once
disappears. New England soil, two centuries ago, was not populated mainly
by jack-asses; and even had it been, their offspring would have been
neither monkeys nor hyenas.

Since the work by Dr. Hare, entitled "Spiritualism Scientifically
Demonstrated," may not be readily accessible by many readers, his
description of one demonstrative process is quoted from page 49, as

"A board, being about four feet in length, is supported by a rod, as a
fulcrum, at about one foot from one end, and, of course, three feet from
the other, which is suspended on a spring balance. A glass vase, about
nine inches in diameter and five inches in hight, having a knob to hold it
by, when inverted had this knob inserted in a hole made in the board six
inches, nearly, from the fulcrum. Thus the vase rested on the board mouth
upward. A wire-gauze cage, such as is used to keep flies from sugar, was
so arranged by a well-known means as to slide up or down on two iron rods,
one on each side of the trestle supporting the fulcrum. By these
arrangements it was so adjusted as to descend into the vase until within
an inch and a half of the bottom, while the inferiority of its dimensions
prevented it from coming elsewhere within an inch of the parietes of the
vase. Water was poured into the vase so as to rise into the cage till
within about an inch and an half of the brim. A well-known medium (Gordon)
was induced to plunge his hands, clasped together, to the bottom of the
cage, holding them perfectly still. As soon as those conditions were
attained, the apparatus being untouched by any one excepting the medium as
described, I invoked the aid of my spirit friends. A downward force was
repeatedly exerted upon the end of the board appended to the balance,
equal to three pounds' weight nearly;... the distance of the hook of the
balance from the fulcrum on which the board turned was six times as great
as the cage in which the hands were situated. Consequently a force of
3×6=18 pounds must have been exerted."

The above experiment was performed in Dr. Hare's own laboratory, in the
presence and under the watchful scrutiny of John M. Kennedy, Esq., and was
made with extraordinary care, because Professor Henry had just treated a
similar result formerly obtained as incredible. Plate III. in the book
furnishes a diagram illustrating Dr. Hare's apparatus. This experimenter,
whom Alfred R. Wallace calls America's foremost chemist, had spent very
many years in both constructing and in using, as a scientist, varied kinds
of apparatus for testing the presence and action of subtile forces in
nature, and he was competent to know, and did know as well as any other
man whatsoever in the world's great body of scientists, when results were
obtained to positive certainty. He _proved_ that some invisible and
intelligent power moved his scale-beam contrary to the action of
gravitation. The above demonstration, accompanied by many other evidences
of spirit-action upon matter through mediums, had been published twelve
years when Upham put forth his work. Therefore he was either ignorant of
or he ignored late discoveries of science which had revolutionizing
applicability to the very theories which he was putting forth.

After having eloquently depicted the sad results of witchcraft, that
author says (vol. ii. p. 427), "Let those results for ever stand
conspicuous, beacon-monuments, warning us and coming generations against
superstition in every form, and all credulous and vain attempts to
penetrate beyond the legitimate boundaries of human knowledge." If there
ever was "a _credulous and vain attempt_ to penetrate beyond the
legitimate boundaries of human knowledge," one was made by him who sought
to find that the keen-eyed, energetic, common-sense, virtuous, religious
men of Massachusetts in the seventeenth century lacked common sagacity,
and that their little girls rivaled Satan himself in malignity. Most
seriously we ask whether forces which can be and have been measured by
palpable scales, are "beyond the legitimate boundaries of human
knowledge?" We ask whether, anywhere in the universe, there exist
boundaries beyond which it is, or can be, illegitimate for man to go in
search after agents and forces which either habitually or occasionally act
legitimately upon him in this mortal life?

Another question is suggested by the foregoing quotation. Would not
positive knowledge that there are unseen agents and forces within the
realms of nature that can legitimately exhibit the phenomena once deemed
witchcrafts, transfer such phenomena from the domain of either
superstition or crime into that of science or that of beneficence? Surely
it would. And, therefore, how can one possibly work more efficiently for
depopulating the domain of superstition, than by bringing its inhabitants
forth and colonizing them on the lands of knowledge and science? Shall we
comply with the historian's advice, and still continue to leave what
ignorance denominates hobgoblins and ghosts to remain shrouded in
appalling mists, and thus aid them to continue to be to coming generations
the same awful beings they were to the generations past? Or shall we, on
the other hand, now, while experience and science are showing that such
work is practicable, push discovery onward till we both find laws and
learn conditions which permit closer access of disembodied beings to us,
and which also permit most beneficent reciprocal action between them and
us, just as soon as familiarity, confidence, calmness, and mutual trust
make their access easy? Which shall we do? Which is most scientific? Which
is most dutiful to God and friendly to man? Which? Is ignorance of, or is
knowledge of, nature's forces and inhabitants the greater blessing? Which?
Away with ignorance where knowledge is attainable.

We choose to learn as much concerning the universe and its inhabitants as
God gives us power and opportunities to acquire; not fearing his censure,
but trusting to win his approbation, by so doing. When one learns that
issuers from the vailed realms of spirit-land are only earth's emancipated
children revisiting their former homes, the cry that devils are coming
lacks any startling power. Faith, and even knowledge, sometimes says, "It
is my friends and loved ones and those who love me, who are in the
circumambient hosts, and I will do what I may to facilitate their more
sensible approach; will extend toward them a friendly and helping hand."

Only superstition and ignorance quail and skulk before visitants that come
from unseen realms; knowledge stands fast and meets them with welcome and

The "legitimate boundaries of knowledge"! Where are they? Surely not
within any domain where knowledge can supersede ignorance and its
consequent superstitions.

Perhaps only few persons who give credence to the substantial accuracy of
the transmitted statements of witchcraft facts, will dissent from
Hutchinson's obvious meaning when he said that "some of them seem to be
more than natural;" that is, as we suppose him to have meant, they seem to
have required for their production something beyond the recognized powers
of embodied human beings. He, however, in spite of such seeming, sought to
lead other minds to fancy that fraud and malice acting upon credulity--in
other words, that cunning and malicious embodied human beings, and none
other--were concerned in their manifestation. Upham and Drake have not
only followed Hutchinson's lead in excluding invisible agents, but have
omitted to admit that some of the facts _seem_ to be more than natural.
They blindly fancy that they find resident in human minds and hearts of
seeming brilliancy and goodness, capabilities of artfulness, malice, and
might which wrest from Satan's brow all laurels which the world has meeded
to him for his imputed prowess on witchcraft's battlefields. As one of the
human race, we protest against such slander of our kindred humans while
embodied, none of whom, while dwellers here below, were ever smelted in
fires hot enough to elicit from their own interiors some forces which were
put in action through their forms--forces which, in common parlance,
though not in absolute fact, were "more than natural." Events fearfully
mysterious have long been, and now often are, spoken of as the productions
of beings, or at least of One Special being, lurking somewhere away off
beyond the outmost limits of nature. But each and every hiding-place of
even Old Nick is somewhere within those limits, and even he can never and
nowhere act otherwise than in obedience to nature's laws. How far up,
down, around, do natural forces and agents extend and operate? If there be
a fixed limit to nature's domain, where is it? When life departs from
man's body, are the forces which continue to act upon his invisible
spirit, whether that continues to be or ceases to be a conscious
individuality,--are the forces which then act upon it and which bear it to
its appropriate position in spirit spheres, _natural_ forces, or are they

When man escapes from his gross and sluggish encasement, and becomes--as
the reappearance of many of the race teaches that he does--a freed spirit,
he does not escape from within the realm of nature, nor pass to where
natural substances and forces cease to sustain and act upon him. The word
"supernatural" as well as its equivalent phrase, "more than natural," is
often misleading; it tends to generate supposition that nature
_terminates_ where man's external senses cease to take cognizance.
Absolutely, however, as we believe, all beings, including even God, and
all things whatsoever, are parts of nature; so that the word
"supernatural" can scarcely find place for rigid, unqualified application.
No objection to its usual application is here intended, provided it is not
used to convey the idea that things to which it is applied are the work of
intelligence above and beyond the control and restrictions of universal
laws or forces; provided it does not intimate that the works are what
theology has called miracles, i. e., acts "contrary to the established
course of things." Such works probably never did and never can occur.
Higher and unrecognized laws are availed of whenever known laws are
thwarted in their results, as when the magnet takes the steel upward in
spite of gravitation: gravitation works on with as much steadiness and
force as over, while the magnet overpoweringly pulls against it. The
overbalancing magnetic force does not act "contrary to the established
course of things," but simply performs its own functions in full harmony
with that course; so of all mysterious events in the vast universe. All
move on in obedience to law; all events are outworkings of universal
forces, none of which are ever broken or suspended, though sometimes some
of them are restrained by other and counteracting forces from manifesting
their usual results.

All the marvelous works of both ancient and modern Spiritualism may have
occurred, and yet none of them have been, in fact, "more than natural,"
however much so some minds may be accustomed to deem them. Take psychic
forces as natural instrumentalities, take both embodied and disembodied
intelligences who had skill and power for the control of such forces, and
with these take also others who had special susceptibilities for yielding
to psychic action, and you will then have in your conceptions ample
natural means for the production of each and every marvel that was ever
described in human history, and all such may have been produced without
any more help or hindrance in kind from either God or the devil, than we
all receive in the ordinary acts of daily life. Bring in what is meant by
either magnetism, or mesmerism, or psychology, or psychism, or by any
other term expressive of that action upon and within a human being, which
lets either his own spirit-senses or the forces of some outside
intelligence get play therein independent of and superior to the owner's
outer or physical senses, and we then may have fitting and adequate
instrumentality through which finite intelligence can legitimately produce
all the marvels that human eyes have ever witnessed. Professor Cromwell F.
Varley, one of England's most eminent electricians, said, when addressing
a committee of the London Dialectical Society, "I believe the mesmeric
trance and the spiritual trance are produced by similar means, and I
believe the mesmeric and the spiritual forces are the same. They are both
the action of a spirit, and the difference between the spiritual trance
and the mesmeric trance I believe is this: in the mesmeric trance, the
will that overpowers or entrances the patient is in a human body; in the
spiritual trance, that will which overpowers the patient is not in a human

The position taken by Mr. Varley, whose observations were made mostly
within his own domestic circle, and whose professional pursuits led him to
be a constant and careful observer of the nature, properties, and actions
of delicate forces, is worthy of much regard. His view is probably in
harmony with the conclusion of most minds which have studied carefully the
outworkings of mesmerism and Spiritualism. The two isms, in some views of
them, are essentially one in nature, the latter being the butterfly or
moth that came from out the former. The grub and its moth are the same
being in different stages of development. Multitudes of human beings
raised, and to be raised, from lower to higher development have their
habitats along the line where the material and spiritual interblend, and
some are measurably amphibious there--can move and act in either of two
auras. The younger, or less advanced, flesh-clad mesmerists, prevailingly
abide in the material, while spirits have their most congenial residence
generally beyond where the palpably material extends; but either class can
at times bring under their control the physical systems of many human

By means of this psychism, or this outworking of soul power, there may be
kept up reciprocal action or intercommunion between what are usually
called the material and spiritual worlds, both of which absolutely are
natural, and are pervaded by interacting natural forces which are at the
service of peculiarly endowed, or constituted, or unfolded persons, who
are, or may become, competent and disposed to use them. A disembodied
spirit no more needs special permission or aid from Omnipotence for acting
upon men and matter, than the diver needs such for deep descents beneath
the water's surface. Natural permission for spirits to reincase themselves
in, or to act upon, palpable matter, is as free and full as man's is to
put on submarine armor.

This much we have said for the purpose of disclosing our stand-points of
observations and reasonings pertaining to Salem witchcraft, and now come
to more direct consideration of that special topic.

At Salem Village about a dozen people, mostly the girls previously named,
were strangely and grievously tormented, at short intervals, during
several months. They often endured contortions, convulsions, and very
acute sufferings. At times many of them became deaf, dumb, blind, &c.
Seemingly to beholders they personally performed most strange and
incredible feats of strength and simulations, and made astounding
utterances. Because of these doings and sufferings they were, after some
weeks of observation, deemed to be "under an evil hand"--were pronounced
_bewitched_, and were termed, in the parlance of that day, "the

According to the faith of those times, no person could be bewitched in any
other way than through some other embodied person who had entered into a
covenant with the _Devil_, and voluntarily become his instrument or his
agent. It was then assumed, also, that the afflicted ones could perceive
who the person or persons were through whom the devil tormented them.
Consequently the sufferers were teased, coaxed, or driven to name some one
or more who was causing their sufferings. Those named by the sufferers as
producers of their maladies were called the accused, or were said to be
"cried out upon."

Belief in the ability of the afflicted to designate accurately their
afflicters, was then prevalent; but though probably born of facts in human
experience, and in itself fundamentally correct, it was indiscreetly and
harmfully applied. The mediumistic or psychologized condition often
renders its subjects practically independent of time, space, and gross
matter, and makes them possessors of ability to feel, or rather to
_sense_, contact with the properties of some peculiarly constituted
mortals, even though such persons at the time be physically many miles
away. The persons from whom such agitating emanations would proceed would
generally themselves be highly mediumistic.

If the inner or spiritual perceptive organs of Mr. Parris, Dr. Griggs,
Thomas Putnam, and their consulting associates, of whom we shall speak
hereafter, were inextricably interblended with their outer bodies, so that
they were, par excellence, non-mediumistic, their presence near the bodies
of persons infilled with abnormal properties by spirits might be
imperceptible by the entranced, while either the poor, "melancholy,
distracted" (?) Sarah Good, or "bed-rid" Mrs. Osburn (who will come into
notice on a future page), if highly mediumistic, might, though being then
in their distant homes bodily, be present as spirits, and their emanations
might be distinctly felt by the suffering girls, and be by them visibly
traced to their sources. Mediumistic states or entrancements, however
induced, often bring their subjects into rapport with other mediumistic
persons afar off, while they as often shut off sensibility to the presence
of the physically imprisoned or very slightly impressible ones who are
near by. The saying that "birds of a feather flock together" apparently
has more constant application outside of gravitation's dominating reach
than within it--more among relatively freed spirits than among rigidly
body-hampered ones.

That there exist special occult forces, whose action frequently enables
mediumistic persons, while under spirit manipulations, to know assuredly
that emanations from special human organisms act upon them to either
their pleasure or their annoyance is very clearly indicated by the
experiences of some modern mediums; for these are often heard to speak of
influences coming to their help or their harm from particular persons,
who, at the time, are known to be miles away. Mediumistic intuitions often
very accurately trace influences to some definite mundane source; that
source frequently is where the disembodied operating spirit gets such an
equivalent to a nervous fluid as is needful to give him or her contact
with and control over matter. Some mediumistic systems may at times
contain enough of such quasi nerve-producing elements to meet all the
needs of the controlling spirit, while others usually lack them to such
extent that drafts to supply the deficiency are made from the systems of
others more or less remote from the point of application. If the harassed
and tortured children in the family of Mr. Parris were acted upon by
spirits, they might be, at times, able to _sense_ the fact that forceful
action upon them came perceptibly forth from the bodily forms of
particular living persons. Broad human observation and experience through
the ages had generated conclusion that bewitched persons could designate
those from whom their inflictions came. Therefore our fathers would with
conscious propriety ask any one whom they supposed to be under "an evil
hand," "Who hurts you?" They would look for an answer, and, if one came,
would deem it correct. It was, then, logically necessary for them to
confide in the accuracy of any responses which might issue from the lips
of the sufferers, so long as their creed was made chief premise. Sneers at
belief that psychologized persons know from whom the force comes which
generates their condition, may argue less knowledge in the sneerer's
brain, of forces and agents that sometimes act upon men, than in the heads
of those who in former days sought to learn from bewitched girls what
particular persons afflicted them. The world, while learning much, may
have been forgetting some important knowledge.

The belief held by many of our forefathers, that the afflicted would
generally know that afflicting forces came to them from the persons whom
they named, though measurably correct in itself, was rendered most
woefully disastrous in its application, because of its concomitant
erroneous belief that such afflicting forces could go forth from none but
such as were in covenant with witchcraft's awful devil. The fact of one's
being a channel through which occult wonder-working forces could flow,
was, in those days, proof positive that he or she had tendered allegiance
to and made a compact with the Evil One. That was the specially great and
disastrous error which engendered witchcraft. Susceptibilities which were
in fact only nature's boons, were looked upon as acquisitions obtained
through a diabolical compact. Some laws of psychology partially revealed
and comprehended now, were then not dreamed of; and deductions from false
premises or from an erroneous belief, being then applied by clear-headed
and good men for noble ends, yes, for God's glory and man's protection,
caused out-workings of unspeakable woes.

The persons most _afflicted_ at Salem Village were Elizabeth, daughter of
Mr. Parris, nine years old; Abigail Williams, his niece, eleven; Ann
Putnam, twelve; Mercy Lewis, seventeen; Mary Walcut, seventeen; Elizabeth
Hubbard, seventeen; Elizabeth Booth, eighteen; Sarah Churchill, twenty;
Mary Warren, twenty: to these girls may be added Mrs. Ann Putnam, mother
of the girl of the same name; also a Mrs. Pope and a Mrs. Bibber. Nearly
all of these occupied very good social positions, and many of them were
surrounded and cared for by as intelligent, moral, and religious people as
that or any other parish in the neighborhood contained. Yes, from amidst
the very breath of prayer, the light of intelligence, the sway of strong
authority, and the restraining influences of religion, these reputable,
and no doubt generally amiable, conscientious, and kind-hearted girls and
women during all their previous years, suddenly became utterers of what
were then regarded most damning accusations against their neighbors and
acquaintances first, and subsequently against strangers living remote from
them; against the low and the high, the vicious and the virtuous, the
feeble-minded and the strong in intellect alike. And in their strange and
desolating work these people, of exemplary deportment previously, moved on
harmoniously, encouraging and strengthening each other, and without
manifesting the slightest regret. A marked and startling specimen this of
what mortal tongues may be used to accomplish! And yet those tongues
generally may have only described what senses perceived.

History has said--no, not history--but invalid supposition has said that
sportiveness, malice, love of notoriety, and the like, inherent in the
minds and hearts of those young girls and women, were the chief incentives
to and producers of the woeful, the murderous accusations and statements
which came forth from their youthful lips. It was not so. One may as well
call a pencil or a pen a malicious accuser when it is made to record
malicious accusations, as to call those girls the contrivers and enactors
of many scenes which were presented by use of their bodies.

We quote as follows from church records, penned by the Rev. Mr. Parris
himself, in whose house the great and awful commotion originated:--

"It is altogether undeniable that our Great and Blessed God, for wise and
holy ends, hath suffered many persons in several families of this little
Village to be grievously vexed and tortured in body, and to be deeply
tempted to the endangering of the destruction of their souls, and all
these amazing feats (well known to many of us) to be done by witchcraft
and diabolical operations.

"It is well known that when these calamities first began, which was in my
own family, the affliction was" (had existed) "_several weeks_, before
such hellish operations as witchcraft was suspected; Nay, it never broke
forth to any considerable light, until diabolical means was used, by the
making of a cake by my Indian _man_, who had his directions from our
sister Mary Sibly. Since which time apparitions have been plenty, and
exceeding much mischief hath followed. But by this means (it seems) the
devil hath been raised amongst us, and his rage is vehement and terrible,
and when he shall be silenced, the Lord only knows."

The statements just presented have come down from one whose position and
whose mental powers qualified him to be as important a witness as any
other person whatsoever could be; they come from one of keen intellect
and ready perceptions, who saw the scenes of _Salem_ witchcraft in their
first externally observable stages of development, and also throughout
most of their subsequent unfoldments and disastrous workings. These
statements were semi-private; were made in the _church_ and not the parish
records; were made to be read by those who should come after him, rather
than by those of his own times. And in such records he states that
"amazing feats" were performed "_by witchcraft and diabolical
operations_." What were those feats? It has been said generally concerning
the whole Salem circle of proficients in "necromancy, magic, and
Spiritualism," that "they would creep into holes, and under benches and
chairs, put themselves into odd and unnatural postures, make wild and
antic gestures, and utter incoherent and unintelligible sounds. They would
be seized with spasms, drop insensible to the floor, or writhe in agony,
suffering dreadful tortures, and uttering loud and fearful
cries."--_History of Witchcraft and Salem Village_, vol. ii. p. 6.

An acute observer, who was also a definite and methodical describer of a
portion of the actions referred to, says the sufferers were "in vain"
treated medicinally; that "they were oftentimes very stupid in their fits,
and could neither hear nor understand, in the apprehension of the
standers-by;" that "when they were discoursed with about God or Christ ...
they were presently afflicted at a dreadful rate;" that "they sometimes
told at a considerable distance, yea, several miles off, that such and
such persons were afflicted, which hath been found to be done according to
the time and manner they related it; and they said the specters of the
suspected persons told them of it;" that "they affirmed that they saw the
ghosts of several departed persons;" that "one, in time of examination of
a suspected person, had a pin run through both her lower and her upper lip
when she was called to speak, yet no apparent festering followed thereupon
after it was taken out;" that "some of the afflicted ... in open court ...
had their wrists bound fast together with a real cord by invisible means;"
that "some afflicted ones have been drawn under tables and beds by
undiscerned force;" that "when they were most grievously afflicted, if
they were brought to the accused, and the suspected person's hand laid
upon them, they were immediately relieved out of their tortures;" that
"sometimes, in their fits, they have had their tongues drawn out of their
mouths to a fearful length, ... and had their arms and legs ... wrested as
if they were quite dislocated, and the blood hath gushed plentifully out
of their mouths for a considerable time together; I saw several violently
strained and bleeding, ... certainly all considerate persons who beheld
those things must needs be convinced that their motions in their fits were
preternatural and involuntary, ... they were much beyond the ordinary
force of the same persons when they were in their right minds;" that
"their eyes were, for the most part, fast closed in their trance-fits, and
when they were asked a question, they could give no answer; and I do
verily believe they did not hear at that time; yet did they discourse with
the specters as with real persons."--_Deodat Lawson._

They affirmed that "_they saw the ghosts of several departed persons_,"
and they did "_discourse with the specters as with real persons_." This
looks like Spiritualism.

The above extracts describe a part only of the amazing feats.

Mr. Parris apprehended that this extensive diabolism was inaugurated
through the making of a peculiar cake by his Indian man John. Either a
sneer or a smile will probably drape the reader's face when he perceives
that a clergyman in a former age deemed it probable that a compound
offensive to refined taste (a cake made of meal mixed with urine from the
suffering children) was so appetizing to the devil that it drew him from
his wonted distance into close affinity with mortal forms, and increased
his power to afflict them. Perhaps that clergyman had read what the reader
may peruse by turning to the concluding portion of chap. iv. of Ezekiel,
where preparation of food was prescribed for that prophet's use while he
was in process of being trained for pliancy under manipulations by some
unseen intelligence--such preparation of food as was not less offensive
than such a cake as John Indian furnished.

We do not find a great producing cause of the _amazing feats_ where Mr.
Parris did, and are not prepared to regard Mary Sibley's prescription as
having been very efficacious. Still we might admit the possibility that
the real author of the feats was present when John kneaded that cake,
leavened it with supermundane yeast, and made use of it as an
instrumentality for coming into closer contact than before with the human
bodies from which part of the ingredients of the cake had been derived.

Both spirits and unfolded mediums often either prescribe or apply--as
Jesus did when he treated a blind patient by application of a plaster
composed of his own spittle and street dust--things which mankind at large
would regard as either offensive or inert. Human mediums may be, and the
observations of thousands now living indicate that they often are, made to
prepare strange compounds, and prescribe them for the sick, the suffering,
and for unpliant mediums.

Who was "my Indian man"? Yes; who that baker whose cake raised the devil,
and caused apparitions to become exceeding plenty? Mr. Parris, prior to
being a minister of the gospel, had been a merchant in Barbadoes, and at
the commencement of the strange feats alluded to, had in his family some
servants, whom he called Indians; but they probably were natives either of
some one of the West India islands or of the neighboring coast of South
America, whom he had brought thence, and who were, doubtless, by nature
less firm and self-reliant than our northern Indians usually are. Two of
these servants, or slaves, viz., John Indian, the cake-baker, and his
wife, Tituba, were among the first, if they were not the very first,
persons there to succumb, and yield subjection to the peculiar influences
which developed the terrible events we are considering. Those two humble,
ignorant, weak-minded slaves may have been, and we regard them as having
been, though unintentionally and unconscious of it, very efficient aids in
the outward manifestation of what their master properly termed "amazing

John seems, so far as records depict him, to have been only about as much
of a medium as King Saul was; that is, one that could be made to tumble
down and roll about in unseemly ways. There may, and there may not, have
been properties in his composition which were very helpful to spirits in
gaining control over other persons. However that may have been, he was not
perceptibly much of a medium, and had but little connection with the
events which so harassed his master and neighbors, as far as can now be
shown. But his wife, Tituba, deserves extended notice and careful study.
Before the observable works were commenced, she was clairvoyant and
clairaudient, and her aid in the amazing feats which transpired was
solicited in advance by a nocturnal visitant needing no opened door for
entrance. She entered behind the scene,--behind the vail of flesh,--and
her spirit eyes saw the chief manager. She is the great eye-witness in the
case. She was a medium easy of control, and, Agassiz-like, retained her
consciousness and her memory of experiences while her form was subjected
to control by another's will. Obviously, also, she was an uncommonly good
developing medium, or, in other words, her constitutional properties were
such as greatly aided spirits to develop the mediumistic susceptibilities
of other persons.

This humble, illiterate slave, besides being apparently the chief focus or
reservoir of supermundane forces that evolved the Salem wonders, was one
among the first three persons who were arrested and brought before the
civil tribunals under charges of practicing witchcraft. Her statements at
her examination were recorded very fully by one of the two magistrates who
conducted the proceedings. And the transmitted words of this simple-minded
creature, whose intellect was incompetent to foresee the consequences of
her answers and statements, throw more light upon the origin and growth,
and upon the nature and true character, of Salem witchcraft, than does all
that came from other lips, or any pens of her cotemporaries, or than has
come from subsequent historians. Her mediumistic susceptibilities gave her
admittance where she was an actual observer of the real author of and
actors in that memorable drama. Her knowledge was derived directly through
one set of her own senses, and therefore she was able to speak of, and
apparently did speak simply and truthfully of, persons and scenes which
her inner organs of sense had cognized. She _knew_ more than did all her
prosecutors and judges combined concerning the matters under investigation
at her trial; and could those who then presided have been nobly humble
enough to learn from such a witness, and single-eyed enough to admit into
their own minds the literal import of her simple statements, the horrors
which were subsequently experienced would never have transpired. But the
faith of those times forbade such elevation.

Tituba's general, if not uniform frankness, and the extreme simplicity of
her answers, tend strongly to beget confidence in the intentional and
substantial truthfulness of her statements. We deem it unjust to doubt her
truthfulness. And the general accuracy of her testimony is now rendered
credible by its harmony with a mass of facts pertaining to Spiritualism.
If the truth and accuracy of her words be conceded,--and they ought to
be,--we learn distinctly that during the "several weeks" through which Mr.
Parris's afflicted daughter and niece were treated by their physician and
cared for by the family and friends without suspicion of witchcraft,
Tituba was positively _knowing_ that something like a man, invisible to
outward sense, visited herself, and sought and sometimes forced her
co-operation in pinching the two little girls and in producing their
seeming sicknesses. Her experience proved to her that the sufferings of
the children were purposely inflicted by an intelligent being something
like a man. Her statements prove the same to us.

Such testimony as hers, by such a lowly person as she was, when given
before a tribunal whose members were firm believers in such a devil and in
such a creed as have been described in our Appendix, even if fairly
comprehended by them, would cause her judges to believe that she was
virtually confessing that she had made a covenant with the Evil One. From
their premises they could not logically draw any other conclusion.
Perhaps, unfortunately for her, but not for us at this day, her intellect
was too feeble to perceive the inferences which would be drawn from her
words. Fearing not consequences, she could frankly tell her experiences
and observations; she let out the exact facts of the case, and furnished
for us a sound historic basis for the assertion that the strange maladies
which came upon the little girls in Mr. Parris's house were designedly and
deliberately imposed by a disembodied spirit or a band of spirits.

The mouths of not only babes and sucklings, but of adults of feeble
intellect, present facts, sometimes, better than those whose intellects
are swayed by fears of dreaded consequences which might ensue from frank
and full avowal of their knowledge. From Tituba came statements of facts
to which we must give prolonged attention. A perusal of the fullest
minutes of her testimony may be wearisome, but her account of what she
saw, heard, and was made to do, is so instructive that we shall present it
without abridgment, because it was first printed in full only a few years
ago, was probably never seen or known to exist by Hutchinson, was not
availed of by Upham, and not very carefully analyzed by Drake. Only a very
limited portion of the reading public has ever had opportunity to learn
more than a small fraction of the disclosures made by this important

Upham, though he had perused the minutes of testimony to which we allude,
elected to use a briefer report of Tituba's statements, which was made by
Ezekiel Cheever. The more extended one he noticed thus: "Another report of
Tituba's examination has been preserved in the second volume" (we find it
in vol. iii., appendix, p. 185) "of the collection edited by Samuel G.
Drake, entitled the 'Witchcraft Delusion in New England.' It is in the
handwriting of Jonathan Corwin, very full and minute." It is "full,
minute," and abounding in facts which the faithful historian should adduce
and comment upon. It was written out by one of the magistrates before whom
Tituba was examined, and therefore its authority is good. It surprises us
that the historian who noticed it as above failed to use much important
matter contained in it which was lacking in the report that he preferred
to this.

Drake, under whose supervision this ampler report was first printed, says,
in Woodward's "Historical Series," No. I. Vol. III. Appendix p. 186, that
"it is valuable on several accounts, the chief of which is the light it
throws on the commencement of the delusion.... This examination, more,
perhaps, than any of the rest, exhibits the atrocious method employed by
the examinant of causing the poor ignorant accused to own and acknowledge
things put into their mouths by a manner of questioning as much to be
condemned as perjury itself, inasmuch as it was sure to produce that
crime. In this case the examined was taken from jail and placed upon the
stand, and was soon so confused that she could scarcely know what to say.
While it is evident that all her answers were at first true, because
direct, straightforward, and reasonable. The strangeness of the questions
and the long persistence of the questioners could lead to no other result
but confounding what little understanding the accused was at best
possessed of.... The examination was before Messrs. Hathorne and Corwin.
The former took down the result, which is all in his peculiar
chirography." Upham, it will be noticed, says the report was written by
Corwin, while Drake here ascribes it to Hathorne. But since those two men
were both present as joint holders of the examining court, the authority
of either gives great value to the document; we regard the record as
having been made by Corwin.

While Drake says this record of "the examination is valuable" for "the
light it throws on the commencement of the delusion," he also calls it a
"record of incoherent nonsense." The public very narrowly escaped loss of
opportunity to get at the important and luminous facts contained in this
document. Drake, in 1866, says, "The original (now for the first time
printed) came into the editor's hands some five and twenty years since,"
at which time, "on a first and cursory perusal of the examination of the
Indian woman belonging to Mr. Parris's family, it was concluded not to
print it, and only refer to it; that is, only refer to the _extract_ from
it contained in the HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES OF BOSTON. But when editorial
labors upon these volumes were nearly completed, a re-perusal of that
examination was made, and the result determined the editor to give it a
place in this Appendix." We are constrained to doubt whether this editor
attained to anything like either fair comprehension of the value of this
document even upon its re-perusal, or that he perceived one half the
import which facts fairly give to the following words from his pen: "The
record of this examination _throws light on the commencement of the
delusion_." Yes, light upon the time, place, source, and nature of that
commencement, and which also discloses who was the originating, and
probably the guiding agent of all that witchcraft's subsequent process up
to its culmination--light which, to great extent, exculpates both the
fathers and their children--light which reveals the true actors and
exonerates their _unconscious_ instruments. That document, read, as it now
can be, with help from modern revealments, proves that some spirit, or a
band of spirits, was witchcraft's generator and enactor at Salem, and
indicates that simple Tituba comprehended the genuine source of the
disturbance more clearly than did any other known person of that
generation. She furnished for transmission a key that now unlocks the door
of the chamber of mystery, in which she and her associates were made to
enact thrilling and bloody scenes one hundred and eighty years ago.

That such as desire to do so may be enabled to peruse the whole of her
testimony, which probably can now be found printed only in Woodward's very
valuable Series of original documents pertaining to witchcraft,--a work
too voluminous and costly to obtain general circulation,--we shall do what
we can to further public accessibility to Tituba's statement, ungarbled
and unabridged. Still, to both relieve and enlighten the reader, we shall
break up its continuity by interjecting comments upon many parts as we go
on, but do this in such form, that, if the reader chooses to peruse the
whole unbiased by comment, he can; for this will require only an
observance of our quotation marks. By skipping our comments he can read in
their original collocations all parts of what Drake calls "incoherent
nonsense," but which to us, notwithstanding some perplexing incoherence of
both questions and answers, is rich in instructive _facts_.

Prior to March 1, the malady seems to have spread out beyond the parsonage
and seized upon other persons, for on that day several afflicted ones were
convened as witnesses, or accusers, or both, at the place where the
magistrates then appeared for attending to the cases of three women who
had been accused of witchcraft, arrested, and held for examination. Here
was the commencement of reputed folly and barbarity so exercised as soon
to redden that region with the blood of the innocent, the manly, the
virtuous, and the devout.

Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn, and Tituba were brought into the meeting-house
as suspected witches and as producers of the sufferings of the several
afflicted ones, to be examined in the presence of their accusers and the
public. What course the magistrates either elected or were constrained to
pursue in order to educe such facts as would sustain a charge for
witchcraft, will reveal itself as we proceed, through the questions which
they put to the accused, and the kinds of evidence which they admitted.


"_Tituba, the Indian woman, examined March 1, 1692._

"_Q._ Why do you hurt these poor children? What harm have they done unto

"_A._ They do no harm to me. I no hurt them at all."

The first question by the magistrates implies the presence there of the
afflicted children, and of their then seeming to be invisibly hurt. It
also implies the magistrate's assumption that Tituba was hurting them. Her
denial that either they had harmed her or that she was hurting them was
distinct. But the magistrate seemingly doubted its truth or its
sufficiency, for he next asked,--

"_Q._ Why have you done it?

"_A._ I have done nothing. I can't tell when the devil works.

"_Q._ What? Doth the devil tell you that he hurts them?

"_A._ No. He tells me nothing."

She conceded here that the _Devil_ might be, and probably was, at work
upon the children; but _his_ doings were beyond the reach of her
perceptive faculties. _He_ made no communication to her. Thus early her
words indicate that her knowledge of spiritual matters caused her to draw
and adhere to a distinction between _The Devil_ and either _a Spirit_, or
bands of spirits, which distinction she and other mediumistic ones of her
times adhered to, while the public lacked knowledge that facts required
it, and ignorantly called all visitants from spirit realms _The Devil_.

When glancing at Cotton Mather's unpublished account of Mercy Short, we
copied from it the following statement: "As the bewitched in other parts
of the world have commonly had no other style for their tormentors but
only THEY and THEM, so had Mercy Short." Clairvoyants and all who obtained
knowledge of spirits through perceptions by their own interior organs
seldom, if ever, have seriously spoken of either seeing, hearing, or
feeling the _Devil_. Possibly, at times, some may have done so by way of
accommodation to the unillumined world's modes of speech. But, as Mather
says, they have, the world over, _generally_ called the personages
perceived, "_They_" and "_Them_." Such a fact demands regard. The personal
observers of spiritual beings have never been accustomed to designate them
by bad names. Fair inference from this is, that such beings have not
generally worn forbidding aspects. It has been the reporters, and not the
utterers, of descriptive accounts of spiritual beings who have made use of
the terms "devil," "satan," and the like. Mather perceived the common
"style" of the bewitched, and yet the warping habit of Christendom made
him preserve continuance of inaccurate reporting; for he, like most
others in his day, persistently wrote "devil," where that name was not
announced, and ought not to have been foisted in. Tituba saw no one whom
she ever called _The Devil_, though history has taught that she did.

"_Q._ Do you never see something appear in some shape? _A._ No. Never see

This answer is not true if construed literally in connection with its
question. She did, as will soon appear, sometimes see many things
clairvoyantly, but never _The Devil_, who had just before been mentioned.

"_Q._ What familiarity have you with the devil, or what is it that you
converse withal? Tell the truth, who it is that hurts them. _A._ The
devil, for aught I know."

She persistently admits that the devil _may_ be then and there at work,
but asserts that she does not know anything about _him_.

"_Q._ What appearance, or how doth he appear when he hurts them?"

She makes no reply when asked how the _Devil_ hurts. She ignores _him_.

"_Q._ With what shape, or what is _he_ like that hurts them? _A._ Like a
man, I think. Yesterday, I being in the lean-to chamber, I saw a thing
_like a man_, that told me serve him. I told him no, I would not do such

_Devil_ had now been dropped from the question, and _he_ substituted. What
is _he_ like? Then she promptly mentioned an apparition not only visible,
but audible, who, if carefully scanned, may prove to have been chief
author and enactor of Salem witchcraft. She who saw and heard him says he
was "like a man, I think,"--was "a thing like a man." According to her
perceptions he was not the devil. She did not know the devil. Others at
that time and ever since have called her visitant the devil. But Tituba,
who saw, heard, and thus knew him, did not and would not.

Next comes in, parenthetically, a summary of her sayings and doings, as

("She charges Goody Osburn and Sarah Good, as those that hurt them
children, and would have had her done it; she saith she hath seen four,
two which she knew not; she saw them last night as she was washing the
room. They told me hurt the children, and would have had me gone to
Boston. There was five of them with the man. They told me if I would not
go and hurt them, they would do so to me. At first I did agree with them,
but afterward, I told them I would do so no more.")

According to this summary, apparitions multiplied; for, besides the man,
she saw four women around herself: that company threatened to hurt her if
she would not unite with them in hurting the children. Two of these were
apparitions of her living neighbors, Good and Osburn, then under arrest;
the other three were strangers. We shall soon see that she believed, what
is probably true, that apparitions of particular persons can be not only
presented by occult intelligences to the inner vision, but put into
apparent vigorous action, while the genuine persons thus presented in
counterfeit have no consciousness either of being present at the
exhibition, or of performing, either then or at any other time, the acts
which they seem to put forth.

The conceptions which this simple mind held concerning the nature, powers,
and purposes of those who came to her in manner strange to most mortals,
are pretty clearly indicated. By her likening them to men and women, and
by her protests against their forcing her to act cruelly, she justifies
the inference that she failed to see in or about them anything very
forbidding, awful, or satanic. She admitted the possibility that the devil
might have hurt the children, but also asserted that, if so, _his_ action
was unbeknown to her. The "something like a man," together with these
women and herself under compulsion, were the afflicting ones, so far as
her vision or other senses could determine. _She_ nowhere applies the term
"devil" to her male apparition. No hoofs, horns, or tail, no sable hues or
frightful form, are brought to view by this clairvoyant's description of
her occult companions. They wore, in her sight, the semblances of a man
and of women--not of devils.

How different would have been results had her simple words and instructive
facts been credited and made the basis of judicial decisions! Could she
have been calmly and rationally listened to by minds freed from a blinding
and irritating faith that Christendom's witchcraft devil was her companion
and prompter, her plain and definite exposition of the actors who
generated troubles which were profound mysteries to her superiors in
external knowledge and penetration, would have brought all the marvels of
that day within the domain of natural things, and warded off the horrors
which ensued.

"_Q._ Would they have had you hurt the children last night? _A._ Yes, but
I was sorry, and I said I would do so no more, but told I would fear God.
_Q._ But why did not you do so before? _A._ Why, they tell me I had done
so before, and therefore I must go on. (These were the four women and the
man, but she knew none but Osburn and Good only; the others were of

If we get at what Tituba meant by the words just quoted, it was
substantially this: "They wanted me, and forced me against my will, to
join with them in hurting the children last night. I was sorry that I was
forced to act cruelly, and told them that I would not be forced to it
again, but would serve God. I did not take that stand before, because they
told me I had already worked with them, and therefore must go on.

"_Q._ At first beginning with them, what then appeared to you? What was it
like that got you to do it? _A._ One like a man, just as I was going to
sleep, came to me. This was when the children was first hurt. He said he
would kill the children and she would never be well; and he said if I
would not serve him he would do so to me."

The witness was here apparently brought to describe her _first_ interview
with the author of Salem witchcraft. We see her now standing at the
fountainhead of the devastating torrent which soon deluged the region far
around with terror, anguish, and blood. Who first appeared to her? Who was
the prime mover? And when was he first seen? Subsequent statements are
soon to show that on Friday, January 15, 1692, six weeks and four days
before the time when she gave in this testimony, _one like a man, just as
she was going to sleep_, came to her and demanded her aid in hurting the
children. The fact is clearly stated that five days before the Wednesday
evening when the children were first hurt by spirit appliances, and
supposed to be taken sick, "_one like a man_," when Tituba was about going
to sleep, came to her and avowed his purpose, in advance, to torture and
even kill the children. From that time forth she knew the source of the
strange operations in her master's family.

"_Q._ Is that the same man that appeared before to you, that appeared last
night and told you this? _A._ Yes."

Her visitor was the same person on these two different occasions, which
were more than six weeks apart, and in her various clairvoyant excursions
and feats he was frequently, if not always, her attendant.

"_Q._ What other likenesses besides a man hath appeared unto you? _A._
Sometimes like a hog--sometimes like a great black dog--four times."

"The man" probably assumed or presented those brutish forms. A frequent
teaching of spirit visitants is, that they "can assume any _form_ which
the occasion requires;" they also have often given the impression that
they cannot assume _hues_ brighter than inherently pertain to their own
intellectual and moral conditions, but of this we have yet no conclusive

"_Q._ But what did they say unto you? _A._ They told me serve him, and
that was a good way. That was the black dog. I told him I was afraid. He
told me he would be worse then to me."

Her dog could talk. She and the court obviously understood the dog to be
the same being, essentially, as the "one like a man." For,--

"_Q._ What did you say to him, then, after that? _A._ I answer I will
serve you no longer. He told me he would do me hurt then."

Can any one doubt that she conceived herself to be speaking to the same
being, though in dog form, that she had yielded to before in form like a
man? There is no indication that she had _previously_ served a dog, and
yet she says to this one, I will serve you _no longer_.

"_Q._ What other creatures have you seen? _A._ A bird. _Q._ What bird?
_A._ A little yellow bird. _Q._ Where does it keep? _A._ With the man, who
hath pretty things more besides. _Q._ What other pretty things? _A._ He
hath not showed them unto me, but he said he would show them to me
to-morrow, and told me if I would serve him, I should have the bird. _Q._
What other creatures did you see? _A._ I saw two cats, one red, another
black, as big as a little dog. _Q._ What did these cats do? _A._ I don't
know. I have seen them two times. _Q._ What did they say? _A._ They say
serve them. _Q._ When did you see them? _A._ I saw them last night. _Q._
Did they do any hurt to you or threaten you? _A._ They did scratch me.
_Q._ When? _A._ After prayer; and scratched me because I would not serve
her. And when they went away _I could not see_, but they stood by the
fire. _Q._ What service do they expect from you? _A._ They say more hurt
to the children. _Q._ How did you pinch them when you hurt them? _A._ The
other pull me and haul me to pinch the child, and I am very sorry for it."

The cats also as well as the dog spoke and commanded her obedience. She
saw these the night before her examination. "When they went away," she
says, "I could not see." Those words may admit of two distinct and
different meanings. First, that the cats disappeared without her being
able to notice their exit; or, second, that before they went she became
spiritually blind--"could not longer see" clairvoyantly. In a subsequent
statement she pleads a sudden obscuration of her internal vision. All
clairvoyants are subject to sudden interruptions of their spiritual power
to see.

She was pulled and hauled by "the other" with a view to force her to
"pinch the child." Here again her obvious conviction was that the "other"
was essentially more than mere brute. She did not think a cat pulled and
hauled her, but meant that when the cats visited her, the "something like
a man"--"the other"--was also present, and urged her on to mischief.

"_Q._ What made you hold your arm when you were searched? What had you
there? _A._ I had nothing. _Q._ Do not those cats suck you? _A._ No, never
yet. I would not let them. But they had almost thrust me into the fire.
_Q._ How do you hurt those that you pinch? Do you get those cats, or other
things, to do it for you? Tell us how it is done. _A._ _The man sends the
cats to me, and bids me pinch them_; and I think I went once to Mr.
Griggs's, and have pinched her this day in the morning. The man brought
Mr. Griggs's maid to me, and made me pinch her."

By "the man" she obviously meant her frequent spirit visitor. He it was
who brought the cats to her, and made her pinch them, and by so doing
pinch the "maid," who physically was miles distant. Such is her
statement. An inference from it is, that properties from Elizabeth
Hubbard,--the maid in question,--who was among the afflicted ones, and was
a member of _the circle_, were drawn out from her by "the man," and made
component parts of apparitional cats formed by the man's thought and will
powers, which seeming cats, being pinched by Tituba's spirit fingers, the
Hubbard girl, some of whose properties were used for constructing those
apparitional cats, felt the pinchings, first in her spirit, and thence in
her flesh, though her body was two or three miles distant from the
pincher. In that mode "the man" commanded the use of some properties in
Tituba, by which he produced torture in a mediumistic physical organism
then being far away. Another mode of spirit operation is indicated. Tituba
confessed to a dim consciousness that once, by some process, her
spirit-self had been got over to Dr. Griggs's, and pinched the maid at her
home. Again, she believed that the same maid had been brought to her
(Tituba's) abode and pinched there. Also it will be seen a little further
on, that, Tituba being charged with having been over at the maid's home on
a specified day, denied having been there at that particular time, but
admitted that her apparition might, unconsciously to herself, have been
seen there then, for she says, "may be send something like me."

We enter a distinct protest against stigmatizing such testimony as
"incoherent nonsense." In response to a command to tell _how_ the
mysterious inflictions were brought about, this untaught, ignorant woman,
calmly and with much distinctness, indicated four or five modes by which
psychologic forces were brought to bear upon mediumistic subjects. She
had seen the processes, and, in her simple way, told what she had learned
by personal observation and experience; and thus she helps us, at this
day, to fathom and expound the mysteries of witchcraft more effectually
than do all her cotemporaries. Notwithstanding her limited command of
language, her statements were about as distinct and instructive as any one
then could have made upon such a topic; but the devil-warped public mind
of that day was unable to see the literal import of her testimony, or to
turn her knowledge to good account.

Two other women, Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn, names previously mentioned,
were, on the same March 1, 1692, under examination as co-operators with
Tituba in practicing witchcraft.

"_Q._ Did you ever go with these women? _A._ They are very strong, and
pull me, and make me go with them. _Q._ Where did you go? _A._ Up to Mr.
Putnam's, and make me hurt the child. _Q._ Who did make you go? _A._ A man
that is very strong, and these two women, Good and Osburn; but I am sorry.
_Q._ How did you go? What do you ride upon? _A._ I ride upon a stick or
pole, and Good and Osburn behind me; we ride taking hold of one another;
don't know _how_ we go, for I saw no trees nor path, but was presently
there when we were up."

The child above referred to was Ann Putnam, daughter, twelve years old, of
Thomas and Ann Putnam, who resided from two to three miles north-west from
the parsonage. This girl, Ann, was one of the excessively bewitched; that
is, was one of the most impressible and mediumistic members of _The
Circle_. Tituba and her two fellow-prisoners had, either all as spirits,
or she as a conscious spirit and the other two as apparitions, visited
that child at her home; and, according to her own apprehension, the three
women all mounted one pole, rose up into the air, and were forthwith at
Mr. Putnam's, having noticed neither path nor trees on the way. No reader
will apprehend that Tituba's physical body then left the house of Mr.
Parris and went off two miles or more, on a winter's night, to Mr.
(Thomas) Putnam's house. She says that they were "presently [instantly]
there." It was only her spirit form--_thought_ form--that went riding upon
a pole above all woods and paths. But why to Thomas Putnam's? Probably
because his wife and his daughter, as subsequent events showed, were both
intensely mediumistic or susceptible to influence by _thought_ beings;
they were persons upon whom such beings could work efficiently; and that
was the special reason, probably, for a visit to them. "The man" may well
be presumed to have possessed perceptive powers that could determine with
much accuracy what persons in all the region round about possessed the
constitutional properties and the surroundings which would permit them to
become pliable and serviceable implements in executing any scheme he had
devised. Subsequent events proved that he selected and used such as
enabled him, through intense human agony and bloodshed, to break in pieces
and abolish a most cramping and enslaving creed devil-ward, which, like a
horrid and disabling nightmare, had for centuries been depressing and
agonizing all Christendom. Whatever was his design, his selection of
instrumentalities facilitated the out-working of a broad and happy
emancipation from vast mental evil. It abolished prosecutions for
witchcraft throughout both America and Europe.

The ostensible object of that mental journey was to hurt the child. Such
was the man's apparent intention. That man was "very strong," and he
accomplished his purpose. Ann was hurt. His will-power was such, that,
having once got hold of the elements of three susceptible and ignorant
women, they were completely under his control. Tituba, who seems to have
been always a _conscious_ medium, yielded perforce to him. Her own
selfhood fought against his cruelties, and she felt sorry for what she was
forced to do. When under examination she made free confession of her
involuntary participation in the tormenting invasions upon innocent girls,
thus unwittingly jeopardizing her own life. She seems to have been frank
and truthful.

"_Q._ How long since you began to pinch Mr. Parris's children? _A._ I did
not pinch them at first, but they made me afterward. _Q._ Have you seen
Good and Osburn ride upon a pole? _A._ Yes; and have held fast by me; I
was not at Mr. Griggs's but once; but it may be send something like me;
neither would I have gone, but they tell me they will hurt me."

Her statement that "it may be send something like me," shows her belief,
and probably her knowledge, that her "very strong" "something like a man"
was able to produce the apparition of a mediumistic person even where such
person had no consciousness of being present. Spirits, in modern times,
often produce such effects, and show thereby that Tituba's comprehension
of the case may have been in harmony with the nature of things, and
strictly correct. She repeats again that her participation in the affairs
was forced--that others made her pinch.

"_Tituba._ Last night they tell me I must kill somebody with a knife. _Q._
Who were they that told you so? _A._ Sarah Good and Osburn, and they would
have had me kill Thomas Putnam's child last night. (The child also
affirmed that at the same time they would have had her cut off her own
head; for if she would not, they told her Tituba would cut it off. And
then she complained at the same time of a knife cutting her. When her
master hath asked her (Tituba?) about these things, she saith they will
not let her tell, but tell her if she tells, her head shall be cut off.)
_Q._ Who tells you so? _A._ The man, Good, and Osburn's wife. (Goody Good
came to her last night when her master was at prayer, and would not let
her hear, and she could not hear a good while.) Good hath one of those
birds, the yellow-bird, and would have given me it, but I would not have
it. And in prayer-time she stopped my ears, and would not let me hear.
_Q._ What should you have done with it? _A._ Give it to the children,
which yellow-bird hath been several times seen by the children. I saw
Sarah Good have it on her hand when she came to her when Mr. Parris was at
prayer. I saw the bird suck Good between the fore-finger and long-finger
upon the right hand."

Those statements relating to the use of the knife, apparently
_volunteered_ by Tituba and confirmed by the child, are quite suggestive.
Assuming that there was present with them some powerful male spirit bent
upon forceful action, and who, through Tituba and other impressibles, had
obtained some palpable hold upon certain human forms and the affairs of
external life, it was in his power to excite in the minds of any and all
who had then been brought into rapport with himself, such ideas as those
relating to the knife, and also to make the psychologized girl experience
the sensation of being actually cut by it. Such would now be deemed an
easy feat by any fair psychologist, either in the gross form or out of it,
provided he had a favorable subject on whom to operate.

The same spirit, too, drawing elements from Mrs. Good, and using them,
could make Tituba feel as though Mrs. Good was by her side and making her
suddenly deaf in prayer-time, even though it was the male spirit himself
who then closed her ears.

Evidences of mediumistic capabilities in either the afflicted or the
afflicters are worthy of distinct observation, and therefore we draw
attention to the statement that the yellow-bird "hath been several times
seen _by the children_." Therefore the sufferers were clairvoyants, as
well as the accused.

"_Q._ Did you never practice witchcraft in your own country? _A._ No;
never before now."

That answer renders it probable that previous to the winter then passing
she had never been conscious of the presence of spirits, or of
conversations with or subjection to them. She, perhaps, reveals a lurking
suspicion that her experiences of late might be witchcrafts. But her
notions as to what constituted that might well, if not necessarily, be
very different from those existing in the more unfolded and logical minds
of her master and her examiners, who made the chief essence of it consist
in a compact made with a Majestic and Malignant Devil--such a devil as
would differ very widely in appearance from Tituba's "_man_." She freely
described the unsought presence of a spirit-man with her on sundry
occasions; also her talks with him, and forced service under him. This
essentially was only disclosure of the fact that her own organism and
temperaments were such and so conditioned that disembodied intelligences
could sometimes be seen and heard by her, and could force her to be their
tool. Her witchcraft was devoid of voluntary compact to serve an evil one;
devoid of evil intent in its practice. If she confessed herself to be a
witch, it was only a kindly and loving one, desiring to be truthful and
good, and inflicting hurt only when forced to it. She confessed only to
clairvoyance, clairaudience, and weakness of her own will-powers.

"_Q._ Did you see them do it now while you are examining (being examined)?
_A._ No, I did not see them. But I saw them hurt at other times. I saw
Good have a cat beside the yellow-bird which was with her."

Obviously some contortions, antics, or sufferings which the afflicted
girls, who were present at the examination, had just experienced or were
then manifesting, led to the question, "Did you see them do it now?" Here
again appears the assumption of the court that Tituba might be gifted with
powers or faculties which would enable her to discern animate and
designing workers who were invisible by external optics. Her inner sight
was closed then, but at some other times had been open.

"_Q._ What hath Osburn got to go with her? _A._ A thing; I don't know what
it is. I can't name it. I don't know how it looks. She hath two of them.
One of them hath wings, and two legs, and a head like a woman. The
children saw the same but yesterday, which afterward turned into a woman.
_Q._ What is the other thing that Goody Osburn hath? _A._ A thing all over
hairy; all the face hairy, and a long nose, and I don't know how to tell
how the face looks; with two legs; it goeth upright, and is about two or
three foot high, and goeth upright like a man; and last night it stood
before the fire, in Mr. Parris's hall."

The obscurity of this description is fully paralleled by the prophet
Ezekiel, who, in presenting the beings seen in the first of his "visions
of God," uses the following language, in chap. i.: "They had the likeness
of a man, and every one had four faces, and every one had four wings; and
their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the
sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like the color of burnished
brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four
sides; and they four had their faces and their wings; and their wings were
joined one to another; and they turned not when they went; they went every
one straight forward; as for the likeness of their faces, they four had
the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; and they
four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face
of an eagle." This quotation from the Bible hints with much distinctness
that inherent difficulties may beset any clairvoyant who undertakes to set
forth in our language, which was formed for description of material
objects, some things which are occasionally perceived by the spiritual
senses. Where the prophet was so vague and mystical we may pardon the
ignorant slave if she failed to be very lucid, and if one suspects her of
attempting to put forth nothing but fiction, because she was so obscure,
how can he consistently withhold similar suspicions in relation to the

We will pass to the children's credit the fact that they also saw Osburn's
ungainly and hairy attendant.

"_Q._ Who was that appeared to Hubbard as she was going from Proctor's?
_A._ It was Sarah Good, and I saw her send the wolf to her."

Facts are transpiring in the present age which indicate with much
distinctness that a spirit can present the semblance of a spirit-beast or
other spirit-object to the vision of many clairvoyants at the same time,
and also that he can, if he so elect, psychologize simultaneously all
clairvoyants with whom he is in rapport, and cause them all to believe
that they see any beast or object which his mind merely conceives of with
distinctness. Therefore sight of a wolf by the mediumistic Hubbard girl,
and Tituba's perception of the same proceeding from mediumistic Sarah
Good, could all be produced by the mere volition of that "something like a
man," provided only that he was then in rapport with all of those three
sensitive ones.

"_Q._ What clothes doth the man appear unto you in? _A._ Black clothes
sometimes; sometimes serge coat of other color; a tall man with white
hair, I think. _Q._ What apparel do the women wear? _A._ I don't know what
color. _Q._ What kind of clothes hath she? _A._ Black silk hood with white
silk hood under it, with top-knots; which woman I know not, but have seen
her in Boston when I lived there. _Q._ What clothes the little woman? _A._
Serge coat, with a white cap, as I think. (The children having fits at
this very time, she was asked who hurt them. She answers, Goody Good; and
the children affirmed the same. But Hubbard being taken in an extreme fit,
after [ward] she (Tituba) was asked who hurt her (Hubbard), and she said
she could not tell, but said they blinded her and would not let her see;
and after that was once or twice taken dumb herself.")

That account of the clothes described the usual costumes of the time. We
are glad to hear her say, "A tall man, with white hair, I think." That is
her description of the "something like a man," and "the man" who has been
so demonstrative. A tall man with white hair, need not be a very frightful
object, and we can readily conceive that such a mind as Tituba's might be
perfectly calm and self-possessed in his presence, and never imagine that
abler minds might confound such a one with the devil. She never calls him
the devil. The fact that she was made dumb two or three times, gives her
case some resemblance to those of Ezekiel and Zacharias. Her ears, as
before stated, had been stopped by Good, as she supposed, one evening
during prayer-time. Thus we find her organs of sense subject to just such
control as invisible intelligent operators exercised over prophetic or
mediumistic ones of old, and such as spirits exercise over many mortal
forms to-day. Her clairvoyance was obscured, perhaps, by "the man" when
she was asked who was hurting the Hubbard girl, and replied that they
blinded her now.

_Second Examination, March 2, 1692._

"_Q._ What covenant did you make with that man that came to you? What did
he tell you?"

The first of those two questions was the crucial one at a trial for
witchcraft. Had she made a _covenant_ with the devil, or any devotee of
his? That was the main point to be determined. If she had, she was a
witch, according to the prevalent creed; if she had not, she might be
innocent of witchcraft. But seemingly the court could not wait for an
answer, because, in the same breath, it asked, What did your visitant tell

"_A._ He tell me he God, and I must believe him and serve him six years,
and he would give me many fine things. _Q._ How long ago was this? _A._
About six weeks and a little more; Friday night before Abigail was ill."

That last answer is very instructive. It fixes the exact time when one of
the children in Mr. Parris's family was first attacked. For this second
day's examination was held on Wednesday, March 2. It will appear from the
above and future answers that the specters first attacked the children on
a Wednesday evening, just six weeks before this 2d of March. The man
appeared to and talked with Tituba on the Friday evening before that
Wednesday in January.

The testimony, therefore, takes us back to January 20th as the
commencement of overt manifestation of spirit infliction of sufferings
there. Five days further back, i. e., the evening of January 15, is
apparently the date of "the man's" first recognized appearance.
Therefore, until better information is obtained, we shall regard that as
the date of the primal advent of the genuine author of witchcraft at Salem
Village, whom we deem to have been also its regulator through its
heart-rending unfoldings.

"_Q._ What did he say you must do more? Did he say you must write
anything? Did he offer you any paper? _A._ Yes, the next time he come to
me; and showed me some fine things, something like creatures, a little
bird something like green and white. _Q._ Did you promise him this when he
first spake to you? Then what did you answer him? _A._ I then said this: I
told him I could not believe him God. I told him I ask my master, and
would have gone up, but he stopt me and would not let me. _Q._ What did
you promise him? _A._ The first time I believe him God, and then he was
glad. _Q._ What did he say to you then? What did he say you must do? _A._
Then he tell me they must meet together."

There is some obscurity in this quotation, which raises the question
whether the witness contradicts herself by stating that at her first
interview she believed that her visitant was God himself (as John the
Revelator did that a prophet returning from the spirit spheres and
appearing to him was God), and her stating again that at the first
interview she told him she could not believe that he was God, and proposed
to go up and ask her master, Mr. Parris, what he thought about it, but was
held back by her spirit-attendants from doing so. There is, we say,
obscurity as to whether the account makes her apply both of these opposing
statements to her conceptions of her visitor at the first interview with
him, or whether it was not till a subsequent meeting that she doubted his
Godship. As reported, her examiners are made quite as hard to understand
and track as she is in her answers. But, upon a careful reading, we judge
it fair and proper to conclude that her doubts concerning the character of
her acquaintance were expressed as late as at the meeting on Wednesday,
January 20, and not on the previous Friday.

"_Q._ When did he say you must meet together? _A._ He tell me Wednesday
next, at my master's house; and then we all [did] meet together, and that
night I saw them all stand in the corner--all four of them--and the man
stand behind me, and take hold of me, and make me stand still in the

We now must relinquish doubt as to the meetings at the parsonage, for here
we have distinct historical mention of a _circle_, which met "at Mr.
Parris's house" for the purpose of practically manifesting the skill and
powers, not of learners, but of an expert in the wonders of "necromancy,
magic, and especially of _Spiritualism_." This circle met, at five days'
notice, on the evening of January 20, 1692. A man, or "something like a
man," was at the head of it, and five females, three of them at least
embodied ones, were his assistants, or rather were reservoirs from whence
he drew forces with which to experiment upon two little mediumistic girls.
If a club of women and girls sometimes met for such purposes as are
alleged in foregoing citations,--and perhaps it did in a loose, irregular
way,--we fancy that Tituba's tutor was ever among them taking notes,
scrutinizing their several properties, capabilities, and circumstances,
and planning when and how to use them for most efficient accomplishment of
his purposes. The fact that he was present as author and master spirit
when the first act of the Salem Village tragedy was visibly manifested
through the twitchings and contortions of two little girls, is distinctly
shown by Tituba's testimony. Therefore henceforth there can be neither
historical nor philanthropic justice in imputing to the brains and wills
of the little girls what a present and conscious clairvoyant witness
imputes distinctly to one who looked "something like a man." Give to
him--whoever he was--give to him his just dues; also bestow upon the girls
neither censure nor praise for the help which their organisms and
temperaments necessarily afforded him. This meeting of apparitions, be it
noted and remembered, took place immediately _before_ the sickness of the
children came on, and during its session, the children were pinched, and
thus first became "afflicted ones." On that Wednesday night "Abigail first
became ill."

"_Q._ Where was your master then? _A._ In _the other room_. _Q._ What time
of night? _A._ A little before prayer-time. _Q._ What did this man say to
you when he took hold of you? _A._ He say, Go into _the other room_ and
see the children, and do hurt to them and pinch them. And then I went in
and would not hurt them a good while; I would not hurt Betty; I loved
Betty; but they haul me, and make me pinch Betty, and the next Abigail;
and then quickly went away altogether a[fter] I had pinch them. _Q._ Did
you go into that room in your own person, and all the rest? _A._ Yes; and
my master did not see us, for they would not let my master see."

Mr. Parris and the children seem from the above to have been in the same
apartment that evening, for Tituba states that he was "in the other room,"
and her dictator said to her, "Go into the other room," and hurt the
children. That the master of the house was present with his daughter and
niece then, may be indicated also in the statement that "they would not
let my master see;" for this implies that they were in his presence,
though invisible. If she went to the room in her physical form--which is
not stated, and is not probable--though she did go there in her "own
_person_," the others went only as spirits or as apparitions; and they did
not so enrobe or materialize themselves as to be visible by outward eyes,
and therefore did not become visible to Mr. Parris--they "would not let"
him see. The first infliction upon the children, therefore, was made in
his very presence, but by invisible hands--spirit hands or apparitional
hands--touching the spirit forms of the mediumistic little girls, and
through their own inner forms reaching, paining, and convulsing their
physical bodies. It is interesting to note that because Tituba "loved
Betty," she was able to resist the pressure upon her "a good while;" but
her feeble powers were incompetent to oppose unyielding and effectual
resistance to the strong will of the producer of painful experiences.

"_Q._ Did you go with the company? _A._ No. I staid, and the man staid
with me. _Q._ What did he then to you? _A._ He tell me my master go to
prayer, and he read in book, and he ask me what I remember: but don't you
remember anything."

This account fails to furnish any very conclusive evidence that either of
the four other women was on that occasion consciously present with Tituba
and the man; it need only indicate the probability that he drew properties
from each of them, wherever located, whether in the Village, in Boston, or
elsewhere, which enabled him to present their apparitions to Tituba as
helpers, and to effect rapport with and get power over the children. When
his immediate purpose had been accomplished, no one but the man could be
seen by her. He perhaps left the female apparitions to dissolve when his
further need of their properties ceased. There is no evidence that Good
and Osburn were conscious of being present where Tituba saw them, and
therefore the other two female forms may have been purely
apparitional--mental fabrics of "the man." But important points are clear.
The man's controlling will, and subjugated Tituba's conscious self, were

"_Q._ Did he ask you no more but the first time to serve him? Or the
second time? _A._ Yes, he ask me again if I serve him six years; and he
come the next time and show me a book. _Q._ And when would he come then?
_A._ The next Friday, and showed me a book in the daytime, betimes in the
morning. _Q._ And what book did he bring, a great or little book? _A._ He
did not show it me, nor would not, but had it in his pocket. _Q._ Did he
not make you write your name? _A._ No, not yet, for my mistress called me
into the other room. _Q._ What did he say you must do in that book? _A._
He said write and put my name to it. _Q._ Did you write? _A._ Yes, once, I
made a mark in the book, and made it with red like blood. _Q._ Did he get
it out of your body? _A._ He said he must get it out. The next time he
come again, he gave me a pin tied in a stick to do it with; but he no let
me blood with it as yet, but intended another time when he came again.
_Q._ Did you see any other marks in his book? _A._ Yes, a great many; some
marks red, some yellow; he opened his book, and a great many marks in it.
_Q._ Did he tell you the names of them? _A._ Yes, of two; no more: Good
and Osburn; and he say they made them marks in that book, and he showed
them me. _Q._ How many marks do you think there was? _A._ Nine. _Q._ Did
they write their names? _A._ They made marks. Goody Good said she made her
mark, but Goody Osburn would not tell. She was cross to me. _Q._ When did
Good tell you she set her hand to the book? _A._ The same day I came
hither to prison. _Q._ Did you see the man that morning? _A._ Yes, a
little in the morning, and he tell me the magistrates come up to examine
me. _Q._ What did he say you must say? _A._ He tell me tell nothing; if I
did, he would cut my head off."

The questions relating to the book and signatures were based on, and made
important by, then prevalent belief that one's signature in the devil's
book proved the signing of a covenant to be henceforth his servant.
Tituba's statement that she had seen therein Sarah Good's signature in her
own blood, well might be then deemed strong evidence that Mrs. Good was a
witch, and was guilty of witchcraft. But we doubt whether the witness had
any conception of the fatal import of her statement. Her testimony that
Goody Osburn was cross to her, while amusing, is also suggestive of the
deep question whether even an apparition, produced by use of unconscious
elements drawn from a human system, could or would be so permeated with
the existing mental and emotional moods of the person from whom they were
drawn as to cause those moods to be perceived and felt by those who might
see, and receive influences from, the apparition. "The man" told her that
the magistrates had come or were coming to examine her. She might have
known this already, and might not. Be that as it may, on the morning of
her examination A SPIRIT spoke to her. His counsel was, that she should
say nothing. This advice seems wise. But it was not very "cunning" in her
to repeat it, and make known its source "in presence of Authority."
Willing or not she was there constrained to speak out. Robert Calef, in
"More Wonders of the Invisible World," reports her as saying, "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."

"_Q._ Tell us true; how many women do you use to come when you ride
abroad? _A._ Four of them; these two, Osburn and Good, and those two
strangers. _Q._ You say there was nine. Did he tell you who they were?
_A._ No, he no let me see, but he tell me I should see them the next time.
_Q._ What sights did you see? _A._ I see a man, a dog, a hog, and two
cats, a black and red, and the strange monster was Osburn's that I
mentioned before; this was the hairy imp. The man would give it to me, but
I would not have it. _Q._ Did he show you in the book which was Osburn's
and which was Good's mark? _A._ Yes, I see their marks. _Q._ But did he
tell you the names of the other? _A._ No, sir. _Q._ And what did he say to
you when you made your mark? _A._ He said, Serve me; and always serve me.
The man with the two women came from Boston. _Q._ How many times did you
go to Boston? _A._ I was going and then came back again. I never was at
Boston. _Q._ Who came back with you again? _A._ The man came back with me,
and the women go away; I was not willing to go. _Q._ How far did you
go--to what town? _A._ I never went to any town. I see no trees, no town.
_Q._ Did he tell you where the nine lived? _A._ Yes; some in Boston and
some here in this town, but he would not tell me who they were."

We have now presented the full text of Tituba's testimony as recorded by
Corwin and printed by Drake. Severed from the leading and jumbled
questions which drew it forth, and reduced to a simple narrative, her
statement would in substance be nearly as follows:--

Something like a man came to me just as I was going to sleep the Friday
night before Abigail was taken ill, six weeks and a little more ago, who
then told me that he was God, that I must believe him, and that if I would
serve him six years he would give me many fine things. He said there must
be a meeting at my master's house the next Wednesday, and on the evening
of that day he and four women came there. Then I told him I could not
believe that he was God, and proposed to go and ask Mr. Parris what he
thought on that point; but the man held me back. They forced me against my
will and my love for Betty to pinch the children; we did pinch them. That
was the first night that Abigail was sick. Sometimes I saw the
appearances of dogs, cats, birds, hogs, wolves, and a nondescript animal,
some of whom spoke to me, and talked like the man. Yesterday, when I was
in the lean-to chamber, I saw a thing like a man,--the same that I had
seen before,--who asked me to serve him; and last night, when I was
washing the room, the man and the four women all came again, and wanted me
to hurt the children; and we all went up to Mr. Thomas Putnam's, and hurt
Ann, and cut her with a knife. I went to the Hubbard girl once, and
pinched her, and once the man brought her over to me, and I pinched her;
but I was not there when they say I was, though it may be that the man
sent my apparition over there then without my knowing it. I once saw what
looked like a wolf go out from Mrs. Good and run to the Hubbard girl. How
we travel I don't know; we go up in the air, and we are instantly at the
place we intend to go to; we see no trees, no roads. The man brings cats
or other things to me, and I pinch them; and by doing so the girls are
pinched. Sometimes I can see these things for a while, and then instantly
become blind to them. This morning the man came and told me the
magistrates had come to examine me.

Such are the principal points in Tituba's account of the origin and author
of the disturbance or "amazing feats" at Mr. Parris's house. In the main,
they are plain, direct, and seemingly true. They teach as clearly as words
ever taught anything, that "something like a man"--"a tall man with white
hair," dressed in "serge coat"--came and forced Tituba to pinch the
children at the very time when one of them was first taken sick. They
teach also that the same man appeared to Tituba several times, and was
with her on the day of her examination. The spiritual source of the first
physical manifestations which generated the great troubles at Salem
Village is thus set forth with such clearness as will command credence in
future ages, even if it shall fail to do so in this Sadducean generation.

As before stated, another record of Tituba's testimony was made by Ezekiel
Cheever, which is much less ample and particular than the one above
presented. It omits entirely several very instructive and important
parts--especially those which make known Tituba's earlier interviews with
"the man;" those which fix the exact time when he first came to her; the
exact time when Abigail was taken ill; and, more important still, those
parts which describe the assemblage of spirits at Mr. Parris's house, and
their deliberate inflictions of pains upon the children at the very time
when their disordered conditions came upon them.

Upham, by using Cheever's instead of the other account, failed to adduce
several vastly important historic facts; the special facts which are
essential to a fair presentation of the origin and nature of _Salem_
witchcraft. He nowhere recognizes the probably acute intellect, strong
powers, persistent action, and inspiring presence of the _tall man with
white hair and in serge coat_. Omitting these, he has but given us Hamlet
with Hamlet left out. And this, too, not in ignorance, for he had seen
Corwin's manuscript, which made clearly manifest the presence and doings
of one spirit-personage especially, and taught many other facts that were
not reconcilable with his theory.

The tall man with white hair who visited Tituba on the evening of January
15, 1692, has such obvious and important connection with, and influence
over, all the ostensible actors in the scenes which former witchcraft
historians have depicted, as may revolutionize their theories, and teach
the world that those expounders never traced their subject down to its
genuine base; that they built, partly at least, upon the sands of either
ignorance or misconception of the nature and actual source of what they

There are some important differences in the two records of Tituba's
testimony, even where the words and facts must have been the same. The
following parallel passages present quite differing reports of what she
said concerning her own knowledge of the devil:--

  _Cheever._                      _Corwin._

  "Why do you hurt these          "Why do you hurt these
  children?" "I do not hurt       poor children? what harm
  them." "Who is it then?"        have they done unto you?"
  "The devil, for aught I         "They do no harm to me.
  know." "Did you ever            I no hurt them at all."
  see the devil?" "The            "Why have you done it?"
  devil come to me, and bid       "I have done nothing. I
  me serve him."                  can't tell when the devil
                                  works." "What! Doth
                                  the devil tell you that he
                                  hurts them?" "No, he
                                  tells me nothing."

Thus Cheever makes her say that "_the devil_" came to her and bade her
serve him, while Corwin, reporting the same part of the examination makes
her say that "_the devil_" never told her anything. Further on, Corwin
makes her say, "A thing like a man told me serve him." Cheever says the
_devil_ told her thus. Tituba herself, and all the clairvoyants of that
age, preserved a distinction between the devil and the personages they
saw, heard, and talked with. But the recorders of their testimony, failing
to observe this distinction, often perverted the evidence. A comparison of
the two records throughout suggests the probability that Corwin, who is
most minute, gives the questions and answers in their original order and
sequences much more nearly than does Cheever, whose record, when compared
with the other, appears in some parts to be summings-up of several
minutes' talks into a brief sentence or two, and also gives evidence of
his taking it as obvious fact, that Tituba's "thing like a man" was the
veritable devil. This is probable, because his minutes make her say "_the
devil_ come to me, and bid me serve him," at a point in the examination
where, according to Corwin, she said _the devil_ "tells me nothing." Thus
the appearance is, that Cheever carried back in time words which _she_
subsequently applied to her "thing like a man," and on his own
authority--not hers--applied them to "the devil." In Corwin's account, her
conception of the separate individualities of "the devil" and her "thing
like a man" reveals itself clearly, and is nowhere contravened. But
Cheever, almost at the commencement of his record, and at a point where
she, according to Corwin, said the devil told her _nothing_, reports her
as then applying to _the devil_ what she a few minutes or hours afterward
applied to her "thing like a man." According to the more full and the more
trustworthy record, she at no time confessed to any interview with "_The
Devil_," though she did freely to many conversations with "the man." These
facts are important, very interesting, and instructive. As we interpret
them now, they indicate that Tituba never confessed to any intercommunings
with the devil, never charged Mrs. Good, Mrs. Osburn, or any one else with
being familiar with his Sable Majesty, but only with "a tall man, with
white hair," wearing a "serge coat."

The court before whom she was questioned, and the people around,
generally, no doubt, deemed her "thing like a man" to be the veritable
devil, as Cheever did. But the more exact recorder of her words furnishes
good grounds for belief that Tituba herself conceived otherwise. She who
was gifted with faculties which let her see, hear, and feel the actors,
apprehended that one of them at least was a disembodied human spirit;
while the spiritually blind, but physically and logically keen-eyed ones
around her, wrongfully inferred the presence of their Malignant and Mighty
Devil with her.

Some dates fixed by this witness in Corwin's account, and entirely omitted
in Cheever's, are interesting and somewhat important. We learn what, so
far as we know, escaped the notice of all former searchers, that it was on
Friday, January 15, just as she was going to sleep, that "one like a man"
came to her and appointed a meeting there at Mr. Parris's house, to take
place on the next Wednesday evening. Accordingly, on Wednesday evening,
January 20, "the man" and four women came, and then designedly and
deliberately pushed Tituba on, and made her pinch the daughter and niece
of Mr. Parris; and _on that very evening_, Abigail, at least, if not
Betty also, "_was first taken ill_." Here is an important and significant
coincidence. Just at the time when the illness was developed, spirits, in
compliance with a previous arrangement, were there present at work seeking
to produce just such a result as was manifested. Did they, or did other
agencies, produce the mysterious disorders which seemed to devil-dreading
beholders like diabolical obsessions? In view of all the facts, it is
plain that a spirit or spirits caused the children to suffer.

By failing to present the above points, which, though lacking in the
account that he copied and followed, yet came under his eye, Upham clearly
failed to use some very important historic facts which are essential to a
fair presentation of both the time at which, and the agents through whom,
Salem witchcraft had its origin, and consequently to a fair presentation
of its nature. But those facts strenuously conflict with his theory that
embodied girls and women were the designers and perpetrators of that great
and terrific manifestation of destructive forces. How strong the chains of
a pet theory! How blinding the cataracts of long-cherished conclusions!

If there exists in the world's annals more distinct testimony that a
particular individual was the deliberate and intentional producer of acts
which generated suffering, than Tituba gave that the "thing like a man,"
which came to her once "when she was about going to sleep," once "in the
lean-to chamber," once "when she was washing the room," and who, on Friday
night, appointed a place for meeting the next Wednesday night, and, with
assistants, kept his appointment, and then and there, as he had
previously announced his purpose to do, severely "hurt the children"--if
there ever was recorded testimony which more distinctly designated a
particular being as the principal in planning and enacting any scheme than
is this from Tituba, by which she designates over and over again "a tall
man with white hair," wearing "black clothes sometimes, and sometimes
serge coat of other color," as the chief executor of the strange and
momentous development of illnesses in the family of Mr. Parris, I know not
where that clearer testimony is recorded. He who ignored several very
significant parts of what Tituba said, rejected corner-stones which are
essential to the foundation of a genuinely philosophical disclosure of the
source and consequent nature of the mysteries he attempted to explain.
Tituba has been described by Upham as "indicating, in most respects, a
mind at the lowest level of general intelligence," so that any one must be
more rash than prudent who will impute to her ability to fabricate a
series of facts, all of which seem to be natural and probable in the
province of psychology.

Mr. Parris informs us that the strange sicknesses existed in his family
during several weeks before he or others had any suspicion that they might
be of diabolical origin. Tituba dates their commencement on the evening of
January 20, just six weeks before her examination. Therefore Mr. Parris's
"several weeks" may have been five at least, during which he and his wife
and their physician and friends probably studied symptoms, administered
and watched the action of medicines, and cared for the children in every
way, with as much freedom from delusion or bewildering excitement, as they
could have done in any other equal portion of their lives. Such medical
skill as then existed there, obviously had and used a very considerable
period of time, not less than four or five weeks, in which to do its best,
and yet was baffled. Its best was unavailing. We to-day perceive
sufficient cause of its failure. It was contending against a special
spirit infliction, the authors of which could either counteract,
intensify, or nullify at their pleasure, the normal action of any common
medicines or nursings. Parents, physician, and nurses no doubt witnessed
from day to day such anomalous and changeful manifestations, sequent upon
the administration of "physic," as confounded their judgments, and made
them at last suspect "an evil hand." Tituba knew the cause of the
illnesses, but probably lacked power to see and appreciate the continuous
connection of that cause with the long series of its effects. Had she
divulged her knowledge, what heed would have been given to the word of the
ignorant slave? What beatings might she not well fear if she confessed to
any dealings with invisible beings? No wonder that she kept her knowledge
to herself, till fear of her master's cane influenced her to disclose the
facts to the magistrates.

Small as Tituba's mental capacities were, she had some unusual
susceptibilities, which permitted, or rather obliged, her to possess more
knowledge of the origin and progress, and also of the nature and of the
active producer, of the distressing ailments and "amazing feats" in her
master's family, than did master, mistress, physician, and magistrates
combined. They saw--if it can be said that they saw at all--they saw only
through thick, coarse, and blurred glasses, very dimly; while she, at
times, clearly saw living actors face to face. From her we get the
testimony of a witness who learned directly through her own senses what
she stated; her testimony gives forth the ring of unflawed truth, and
lifts a vail off from long-hidden mysteries.

Hutchinson, Upham, and Drake each sought to make it apparent that mundane
roguishness, trickery, and malice, operating amid public credulity and
infatuation, prompted and enabled frail girls and women to produce the
"amazing feats," marvelous convulsions, and all the many other woeful
outworkings of witchcraft. Having been either unobservant of, or having
ignored, the plain historic fact seen over and over again in Tituba's
testimony, that certain other intelligences than girls, that minds which
were freed more or less fully and permanently from the hamperings of
flesh, actually started the first display of witchcraft pinchings, fits,
and convulsions at Salem Village, those historians wrongfully charged
girls and women, whose bodies were then the subjects and tools of other
intelligences, with being the feigners of maladies and the producers of
acts which an eye-witness and reluctant participator distinctly declares
were manifested in obedience to a will or wills not their own. Such
oversight, or such discarding of facts, whichever it may have been, caused
those writers to so restrict their stores of intelligent agents having
more or less access to and power over man, as to put outside of their own
reach and vision the actual producers of witchcraft phenomena. This
self-imposed or self-retained restriction forced upon them necessity for
efforts to show that mere children possessed gigantic physical and mental
powers and brains which concocted and executed schemes that shook to their
very foundations the strong fabrics of church and state--yes, forced them
to ascribe mighty public agitations to insignificant operators.

Tituba, on the other hand, by a simple statement of what her own interior
self saw, heard, felt, and did,--by a statement of what she actually
_knew_,--designated the genuine and the obviously competent authors of
witchcraft marvels, and explained their advent rationally. She, therefore,
by far--very far--outranks each and all of those historians as a competent
and authoritative expounder of the authorship, origin, and nature of Salem
Witchcraft. Her "something like a man"--her _tall white-haired man in
serge coat_--was its author. That man was a spirit, and his works were
Spiritualism of some quality. Opposition revealed his possession of mighty
force. And, whatever his motive, the result of his scheme was the death of
witchcraft throughout Christendom, and consequent wide emancipation from
mental slavery.

Some statements made and published by Robert Calef not long subsequent to
1692, wear on their surface the semblance of impeachments, or at least of
questionings of the value of Tituba's testimony. He says, "The first
complained of was the said Indian woman named Tituba; she confessed _the
devil_ urged her to sign a book, which he presented to her, and also to
work mischief to the children," &c. We fail to find in Corwin's report
anything like a _confession_ of any such things; she there states
distinctly that _The Devil tells her nothing_, and also that the book was
offered to her, and that the urgings to hurt the children were made to her
by "something like a man"--by "_the man_." She had no idea that the devil
was her visitant, and never confessed that he tempted her.

Calef goes on and says, "She was afterward 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." This is credible, and is probably true. Such proceedings on the
part of Mr. Parris are not inconsistent with the character which he bears.
Tituba's other master, the white-haired man, had charged her "to say
nothing;" she perhaps, therefore, was in fact induced to utter "whatsoever
she said by way of confessing or accusing others," by beatings she
received from her visible master. But what did she say by way of
confessing or accusing? Nothing, really. She merely stated facts known to
her; and such statement should not be misnamed either confession or

Corwin's record of that slave's testimony excites an apprehension--yes,
generates belief--that Calef unconsciously made misleading statement when
he wrote that "she _confessed_ the _devil_ urged her to sign a book." We
have met with no indication that she ever made what should be called
_confession_. We repeat, that she quite fully narrated that she had seen,
held conversation with, and been forced to obey, a white-haired _man_, and
also that the women Good and Osburn were at times her companion operators
when the Man was present. That frank statement of facts constituted her
only confession, so far as we perceive. Had this been made by an
intelligent witness who comprehended how the public mind would interpret
it, there might be plausible reason for saying that she or he
"_confessed_." But with Tituba it was a simple statement of the truth.

We suspect that Calef, under the prevalent habit of his day, unwittingly
wrote _devil_ where Tituba, according to Corwin, said "the man." If he
followed Cheever's report of the trial, he seemed to have authority for
doing so. That Tituba regarded the devil and "the tall man" as two
distinct individuals is very obvious. When questioned, she admitted that
the devil _might_ hurt the children for aught she knew, but she had never
seen _him_, nor had _he_ ever told her anything. She had no acquaintance
with that personage. While the questions related to _his_ doings she could
give no information; but as soon as opportunity was given her to introduce
her "tall man" she was ready to speak of him freely and instructively. The
people around her, not interiorly illumined, applied the name _devil_ to
any disembodied intelligence that acted upon, or whose power became
manifest to, their external senses; not so did either Tituba or any of her
clairvoyant sister sufferers or sister _accusers_ either. Throughout the
whole of her two days' rigid examination she persistently called her
strange visitant "the man." And it is a significant fact that all the
mediumistic ones then, both accusers and accused, escaped ever falling
into the prevalent habit of accusing THE DEVIL. Other agents met their

Fear of Mr. Parris may have forced Tituba to tell her true tale, which but
for him she might have withheld. But is there probability either that he
dictated any part of her testimony, or that she fabricated anything? We
see none. The fair and just presumption is, that though forced to speak,
she simply described what she had seen, and narrated what she had
experienced. The apparent promptness, directness, and general consistency
of her answers, strongly favor that presumption. In her judgment, as in
ours, what she said was no confession of familiarity with the devil, for
she disclaimed any knowledge of him; and therefore she made no confession
of witchcraft as then defined, and no accusation of it against the other

Calef imputes to her a subsequent position which may be so construed as to
indicate that she declined to stand by her previous statements. He says,
"her master refused to pay her" jail "fees," and thus liberate her from
prison, "unless she would stand to what she had said." In that quotation
is involved all that we find in the older records which wears even a
semblance of impeaching her testimony, or suggests any reason why we
should distrust its intentional accuracy in any particular. The master did
not pay the fees. She "lay in jail thirteen months, and was then sold to
pay her prison charges." (Drake. Annals, 190.) But what did her master
require her to "stand to"? Calef says he beat her "to make her confess,
and accuse [such as he called] her sister witches; and that whatsoever
she did by way of _confessing_ or _accusing_ others, was the effect of
such usage." What she may have confessed to having done, or what she may
have accused others of doing, at other times than when she was under
examination, we do not know. Her statements then, as she then meant, and
as we now understand them, fell far short of confessing familiarity with
the devil, or of laying that crime to any others; therefore she neither
made herself nor her companions _witches_. Still her master, no doubt, as
did the recorder Ezekiel Cheever and the court, understood her as meaning
_devil_ when she said "the man," though she herself did not so mean. Even
Corwin, apparently, as judge, put the prevalent construction upon her
words, though his fidelity as a recorder caused him to write "the man"
when she said "the man." This general habit of understanding _devil_, when
some other personage was both named and meant, enables us to see that
there may have been subsequent dispute between her and her master as to
her real meaning, and that he made it a condition for her liberation that
she should put his construction upon what she had said, rather than her
own. It is an open question whether she ever refused to stand by her own
meaning, or the true meaning of her own words. Perhaps she did refuse to
stand by construction which the faith and habit of the day led most minds
to put upon her words unjustifiably; but we doubt whether she refused to
stand by the literal and intended meaning of what she had said.

Poor Tituba! Because of your forced connection with a scheme and works
which entirely baffled your comprehension, because of your forced
disclosure of things you had witnessed and experienced behind the vail of
flesh, your own body was imprisoned thirteen months, and two innocent
women were doomed to death. Guileless and innocent, so far as connected
with witchcraft, you was borne on by mighty forces to seem to act
voluntarily, though in fact unwillingly and perforce, a prominent part in
one of the most fearful scenes in human history. Man's ignorance of
spiritual agents and forces in your day, together with the prevalent
hallucination devil-ward, made you a humble and pitiable martyr to simple
truth-telling. Some seeds in your simple story now gathered from out the
chaff that has covered them for nine-score years, may soon be scattered
over New England soil, from which, we trust, you above, and men below, may
gather wholesome fruits of justice and truth.


Tituba's sister witch, as that slave's master called Sarah Good, may not
have been regarded in her generation as possessor of any large amount of
such qualities as her name is commonly used to designate. Still her
neighbors doomed her to lasting fame by selecting her as the first person
to be put under examination on suspicion of being a producer of Salem
witchcraft. As a facile tool in supernal hands she may have been, and
probably was, good in quality as well as name.

Indications that her spirit-form was susceptible of either easy
elimination or wide radiations from its material counterpart, are
contained in the facts that on January 20, 1692, the inner eye of Tituba
saw this Sarah; on February 25, Ann Putnam, and on the 28th, Elizabeth
Hubbard saw her apparition, or her spirit-form.

Man's "natural" or physical optics do not discern a spirit. Spirit, when
not materialized, is discernible only by our inner or spirit-eyes; spirit
is "spiritually discerned." The spirit forms, however, of embodied, living
men and women, are not all equally discernible by clairvoyants. Generally,
only such among flesh-clad spirits are readily seen by inner optics as are
able to slip, or are liable to be drawn, or to radiate out, from one's
ordinary integuments of flesh, or, at least, those only whose integuments
are transparent of spirit-light. Only few, relatively, can either see or
be seen readily and frequently by spiritual eyes. Eagles exist as well as
owls and bats. And clear perception of objects by the former amid light
that blinds the latter, is no proof either that the vision of eagles is
perverted, or that the objects they behold are but creatures of fancy.

Mediumistic Sarah Good, because she was highly mediumistic, would
naturally be a brilliant and attractive object in the field of vision
which the inner eyes of other mediumistic ones might be able and attracted
to survey. Distance is of little or no account in connection with vision
by the inner eye. Persons and objects, scores and hundreds of miles away,
are practically near to the inner optics. Spirit-forms are, perhaps,
thought-forms, and, like thought, can traverse oceans and continents in
the twinkling of an eye.

It is not our purpose to multiply pages by largely quoting minute accounts
of what transpired at the examinations and trials of those who were
suspected of witchcraft; and yet it may be well to present rather fully
one sample of the proceedings of the courts. This first case which the
civil authorities gave attention to may serve that purpose as well as any

The arrest of Sarah Good was made February 29, and on the next day,
Tuesday, March 1, 1692, her examination was commenced, and was continued,
in connection with that of Sarah Osburn and Tituba, through the remainder
of that week. On Monday, the 7th, these three were sent to jail in Boston.
On the 30th of June Mrs. Good was put upon trial, which resulted in her
conviction, and on the 19th of July she, together with others, was

We copy first Ezekiel Cheever's account of her examination. Cheever was
temporary clerk or scribe employed by the examining magistrates to take
minutes of the testimony.

"'Sarah Good, what evil spirit have you familiarity with?' _Ans._ 'None.'
'Have you made no contract with the devil?' Good answered, 'No.' 'Why do
you hurt these children?' _Ans._ 'I do not hurt them. I scorn it.' 'Who do
you employ, then, to do it?' _Ans._ 'I employ nobody.'"

This question was doubtless based on belief then held, that one who was in
covenant with the devil had, by the terms of the covenant, received power
to command the devil and his imps to execute any desired mischief.

"'What _creature_ do you employ, then?' _Ans._ 'No creature, but I am
falsely accused.'"

Her statement that she employed _nobody_, seems not to have covered all
classes of possible servants in such business. Therefore she was asked
what _creature_ she employed. This question suggests the probable
supposition by the magistrate that such dogs, cats, birds, and hairy
nondescripts as Tituba saw, might be subservient to the commands of a

"'Why did you go away muttering from Mr. Parris's house?' _Ans._ 'I did
not mutter; but I thanked him for what he gave my child.' 'Have you made
no contract with the devil?' _Ans._ 'No.'"

The magistrate then "desired the children, all of them, to look upon her
and see if this were the person that had hurt them; and so they all did
look upon her, and said that this was one of the persons that did torment
them. Presently they were all tormented."

"'Sarah Good, do you not see now what you have done? Why do you not tell
us the truth? Why do you thus torment these poor children?' _Ans._ 'I do
not torment them.' 'Who do you employ, then?' _Ans._ 'I employ nobody. I
scorn it.' 'How came they thus tormented?' _Ans._ 'What do I know? You
bring others here, and now you charge me with it.' 'Why, who was it?'
_Ans._ 'I do not know but it was some you brought into the meeting-house
with you.' _Response._ 'We brought you into the meeting-house.' _Reply._
'But you brought in two more.' 'Who was it, then, that tormented the
children?' _Ans._ 'It was Osburn.' 'What is it you say when you go
muttering away from persons' houses?' _Ans._ 'If I must tell, I will
tell.' 'Do tell us then.' _Reply._ 'If I must tell, I will tell. It is the
commandments. I may say my commandments, I hope.' 'What commandment is
it?' _Ans._ 'If I must tell, I will. It is a psalm.' 'What psalm?'
_Statement by reporter._ 'After a long time she muttered over some part of
a psalm.' 'Who do you serve?' _Ans._ 'I serve God.' 'What God do you
serve?' _Ans._ 'The God that made heaven and earth.'"

_Comments by the reporter._ "She was not willing to mention the word God.
Her answers were in a very wicked, spiteful manner, reflecting and
retorting against the authority with base and abusing words, and many lies
she was taken in. It was here said that her husband had said that he was
afraid that she either was a witch or would be one very quickly. The
worshipful Mr. Hathorne asked him his reason why he said so of her;
whether he had seen anything _by_ her. He answered, no, _not in this
nature_; but it was her bad carriage to him; and indeed, said he, I may
say with tears that she is an enemy to all good."

Reason for asking the children to look upon the accused, Cheever says,
was, that they might "see if this was the person that hurt them." That
statement fails to cover the whole ground. According to Cotton Mather,
belief then prevailed that "when the party suspected looks on the parties
supposed to be bewitched, and they are thereupon struck down into a fit
... it is a proof that the accused is a witch in covenant with the devil."

In many subsequent examinations and trials, these magistrates required the
accused to look upon the afflicted ones, and special note was taken of the
apparent action of the supposed evil eye upon the sensitive children.
Belief was held and acted upon by these examiners, that, if the accused
were guilty, the guilt might be revealed by observable effects of
emanations from the witch's eye upon those whom she had been bent upon
tormenting. Possibly human experience and observation had gained knowledge
of facts which furnished substantial foundation for such belief. The eye
of the powerful mesmerist is very potent in action upon those whom he has
been accustomed to subdue to his will. If the children quailed and
suffered under the gaze of the accused, inference might be drawn that they
had previously been brought into servitude by imperceptible forces
proceeding from that person. Forces of that nature probably go forth more
profusely from the eye than any other part of man, though that is not
their only point of egress. Any part of the body may let them out. This
fact, no doubt, was assumed of old by would-be witch detectors, for they
often required the accused to touch their accusers, or the reverse. And
generally the contact was attended by convulsions, spasms, pains, or other
distress, or by cessation of annoyances. Such results are moderate
evidence that forces pertaining to departed spirits were then operating
upon the disturbed ones; for emanations from such source are frequently
more agitating and agonizing, or more calming and pleasurable, than any
that come forth from the simple mesmerizer. One reason for this augmented
effect, as given through mediumistic lips, is, that the greater remove of
properties of freed spirits from homogeneousness with those of flesh-robed
ones, than exists between the properties of any two mortals, naturally
causes either greater commotion or greater calmness when the disembodied
ones effect contact with those robed in flesh, than ever occurs upon the
confluence of streams exclusively mundane. It should be remembered that
spirits, when in rapport with mortal forms, have power not only to will
agonies and motions therein, but also to command and efficiently use
appliances needful to produce them. Where Tituba's tall man with white
hair was controller of performances, all such sufferings and antics as
history describes may have occurred at trials for witchcraft, and yet few
of them may have been willed to come forth by any mortal. Vailed from
external perceptions, that powerful operator shaped the speech, the
actions, and the sufferings of all the impressible ones, whether accused
or accusers, at his sole pleasure. What his object and his motives were
are not matters for consideration at this stage of our investigations.

The examining magistrates, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, subscribed
to the following account of this examination.

"Sarah Good upon examination denieth the matter of fact, viz., that she
ever used any witchcraft, or hurt the above-said children, or any of them.

"The above-named children, being all present, positively accused her of
hurting them sundry times within this two months, and also this morning.

"Sarah Good denied that she had been at their houses in the said time, or
near them, or had done them any hurt. All the above-said children then
present accused her face to face, upon which they were all tortured and
tormented for a short space of time; and the afflictions and tortures
being over, they charged said Sarah Good again that she had so tortured
them, and _came to them_ and did it; although _she was then kept at a
considerable distance from them_.

"Sarah Good being then asked, if that _she_ did not hurt them, who did it?
And the children being again tortured, she looked upon them and said that
it was one of them we brought into the house with us. We asked her who it
was. She then answered and said it was Sarah Osburn; and _Sarah Osburn was
then under custody, and not in the house_. And the children, being quickly
after recovered out of their fits, said that it was Sarah Good and also
Sarah Osburn that then did hurt and torment or afflict them, although
_both of them at the same time at a distance or remote from them

The Italicized lines show that the magistrates attached importance to the
children's statement that the two women had access to them and hurt them,
even while the outer forms of the women were remote from the girls.
Precisely how Hathorne and Corwin viewed such facts we do not know.
Perhaps they deemed them strong evidence that the women were helped by the
devil. The fact, if it be a fact,--and it probably is,--that those girls
actually received painful sensations from forces coming to them from out
the forms of those two women whose bodies were at the time distant from
their own, was marvelous when it occurred, and remains so now to all such
as are unacquainted with some instructive things which modern Spiritualism
has been bringing into view. To entranced persons, to the spiritually
illumined, to the clairvoyant, distance and material objects become nearly
obliterated. Between such, also between spirits and such, when their
inner powers are in the ascendant, mind acts directly upon mind, without
aid from external senses and organs, and whatever then is done to the mind
or spirit of the incarnated, whether it be painful or pleasing, reaches
and affects the body of the earth-clad one from within, and thence works
outwardly. All sensation pertains to the mind or spirit. The body, when
life leaves it, at once becomes absolutely insensible. All hurts of the
body, come whence and as they may, are felt by the spirit only--never by
the body. Therefore when the spirit from within is pinched by a spirit
directly, the hurt, though the physical body has not been touched from
without, is felt precisely as it would be if fingers had nipped the flesh.
One's bruised spirit acting outwardly may discolor portions of the body
precisely as would an external pinch, grip, or blow. The accusing girls
may have actually perceived and positively _known_ that pain-producing
forces issuing from the forms of the accused women, were distorting and
convulsing their own bodies and the bodies of other sensitive ones, while
yet the women's wills may not have sent the forces forth; those accused
ones may have been but the wearers of bodies, or possessors of
God-bestowed organisms and temperaments through which either Tituba's tall
man or some other spirit, or even some impersonal natural force, gained
access to the spirits of the girls, and, through their spirits, caused
their bodies to manifest signs of intense sufferings. Spiritualism is
inviting physiologists and psychologists into new and interesting fields
for exploration.

The foregoing facts and views invite to very lenient judgments, whether
pertaining to the accused women or to their youthful accusers.

Many things during the examination of Sarah Good were culled from Tituba's
statements, and used with design to show that Sarah Good was a witch.
Tituba charged that woman with hurting the children, and of being one of
five who urged her to do the same. Good rode on a pole with the latter to
Mr. Putnam's, and then told the slave that she must kill somebody. She
came and made Tituba deaf at prayers. She had a yellow bird which sucked
her between her fingers; also she had a cat, and she appeared like a wolf
to Hubbard. Tituba saw Good's name in the book, and the devil (no, the
tall man), "told Good made her mark." Even her own little daughter,
Dorothy Good, testified that her mother "had three birds, one black, one
yellow, and that these birds hurt the children and afflicted persons."

Deliverance Hobbs saw Good at the witch's sacrament.

Abigail Hobbs was in company with, and made deaf by her, and knew her to
be a witch.

Mary Warren had the _book_ brought to her by Sarah Good.

Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, Sarah Vibber,
and Abigail Williams (all of them members of the necromantic _circle_),
were afflicted by Sarah Good, and _saw her shape_.

Richard Patch, William Allen, John Hughes, had her appear to them

This long array of names of impressibles existing in the Village at so
early a time as the very first attempt to find a witchcraft-worker there,
indicates that Tituba's visitant had been an expert selector of a spot for
operation. He began his work in the midst of abundant and fit materials
with which to carry out a purpose to obtain close approach to, and to put
forth startling action upon and among embodied mortals. It may be learned
in the hereafter that he was suggester of the visible as well as of the
invisible CIRCLE which met at the parsonage; and learned, also, that his
forces magnetized the members of each. That so many mediumistic ones, a
large proportion of them wonderfully facile and plastic, were hunted up in
"the short space of two months," among the five hundred scattered
inhabitants of that Village, is surprising. Only keen eyes and active
search could have found thus many in so short a time. Germs of prophets
must have been abundant there, and must have developed rapidly under the
culture of the supernal gardener who discovered their abundance and
quality, and took them under his special watch and care.

While under examination, Sarah Good said, "None here see the witches but
the afflicted and themselves;" that is, none but the afflicted and the
accused; none but the clairvoyant. By witches she meant spirits and
semblances of mortals and spirits; and she said in substance none others
but we who behold with our internal eyes see the hovering and operating
intelligences and forms. This unschooled woman then announced a great and
instructive truth. She taught that the two classes--the tortured accusers
and the accused both--possessed powers of vision which other people did
not; that they possessed such clairvoyance and other fitful capabilities
and susceptibilities as pertained to only a quite limited number of
persons, and that these physical peculiarities were the source of the
existing mysteries.

It should be ever borne in mind that the powers which Mrs. Good had
reference to are generally very fitful in their operations. Those who
sometimes see spirits and spirit scenes are seldom able to do it at will,
or with any very long continuance without interruption. The most of them
might, every few minutes, say with Tituba, "I am blind now, I cannot see."

Having stated that the accusers and accused, and only they and others
constituted like them, could see the hidden persons and forces which were
there acting, acted upon, or being employed in putting forth mysterious
inflictions upon the distressed girls, Sarah Good forthwith charged her
fellow-prisoner, Sarah Osburn, with then "hurting the children." The fair
inference is, that she saw the spirit or the apparition of her companion
then seemingly at work upon the sufferers; and Mrs. Good may only have
described what her inner optics were then beholding. Virtually she was
confessing that she was herself clairvoyant, and consequently very near
kin to a witch, if not actually one in that dreaded sisterhood. But
clairvoyance pertained to the accusers also, and both sets of clear seers,
if their powers were a crime, deserved like treatment.

"Looking upon them" (the afflicted children) "at the same time and not
being afflicted, must consequently be a witch." The above is from the
records of her examination. Apparently she was looking upon the children
while alleging that the then absent Sarah Osburn was there present and was
occasioning their sufferings, while yet Mrs. Good was not herself
afflicted; this was deemed proof that she was a witch. What unstated
premises led to that conclusion we do not know. Our fathers had many
notions pertaining to witchcraft that are now buried in oblivion, and it
is often very difficult to find the reasons for their inferences. We are
baffled here, and can say only that indication is furnished that under
some circumstances a woman's failure to become bewitched was proof that
she was herself a witch--because she did not catch a special disease, she
must already be having it.

Constable Braybrook, who had charge of her during the night between the
first two days of her examination, deposed that he set three men as a
guard to watch her at his own house; and that in the morning the guard
informed him that "during the night Sarah Good was gone some time from
them, both barefoot and barelegged." From another source he learned that
on "that same night, Elizabeth Hubbard, one of the afflicted persons,
complained that Sarah Good came and afflicted her, being barefoot and
barelegged, and Samuel Sibley, that was one that was attending (courting)
of Elizabeth Hubbard, struck Sarah Good on the arm, as Elizabeth Hubbard
said."--_Woodward's Historical Series_, No. I, p. 27.

Braybrook's statement presents a side incident at a time when none of the
performers who had been trained in the historian's famous high school for
girls were present--an incident which rivals in marvelousness anything in
the main tragedy they are charged with enacting. When the tricksy girls
were all absent, when men alone stood guard over and were with this
prisoner, she became invisible by them. No one of the magic-working band
of girls and women was then at hand. Testimony that she disappeared is
distinct; the guards reported in the morning that "she was gone some time
from them." The constable so stated, and the statement was supported by
two assistant guards, Michael Dunnell, and Jonathan Baker. We shall not
stop to ask them how they knew that she was "barefoot and barelegged" when
she was invisible. They perhaps saw her stockings and shoes when she was
not to be seen. Also she was without such garments when seen that night by
Elizabeth Hubbard and her lover in that girl's distant home.

An intelligent, sagacious, and reliable man, Dr. H. B. Storer, of Boston,
whom we know and have long known personally, and whom we respect as being
distinctly high-minded, honorable, and adherent to facts and truths, gave,
in the Banner of Light, January 9, 1875, an instructive account of his
recent observations at the residence of Mrs. Compton, a medium, at Havana,
N. Y. We extract the following from his statements. He says that on Monday
morning, December 28, 1874,--

"By my request, Mrs. Compton acquiescing without a murmur, my lady
friends, entering her bedroom, saw her completely divested of clothing,
with the exception of two under garments, and then had her draw on a pair
of her husband's pantaloons. The basque of her alpaca dress, without the
skirt, was then put on, after careful search to render it certain that no
extra clothing could be secreted. Then, in my presence, the basque was
sewed by its points on each side to the pantaloons, and a ribbon, which I
tied with two knots closely around her neck, was sewed through the knots,
and each end of the ribbon sewed to the collar of the basque. So she had
on a closely-fitting coat and pantaloons sewed together, and so attached
by a ribbon around the neck that the clothing could not be drawn up or
down. A pair of black gloves were then drawn upon the hands and sewed
tightly around the wrists. I then put around her waist a piece of cotton
twine, tying it in two hard knots behind, and the same piece of twine was
tied by double knots to the back of the chair in which she sat."

On Saturday Dr. Storer had seen come forth from the cabinet, as Dr. F. L.
H. Willis also had on a former occasion, "a weird phantom, bearing the
semblance of a woman, and clothed in a flowing costume of white. Over her
head was thrown a vail of delicate texture, and in one hand she carried a
handkerchief that looked like a bit of a fleecy cloud. Her dress was
exceedingly white and lustrous, without a wrinkle or a fold in it." That
description by Willis is called by Storer "perfect," and is adopted by
him. This "weird" personage was called Katie. Dr. Storer, after fixing the
medium in the cabinet on Monday, as above described, says,--

"Very slowly the door [of the cabinet] opened, and soon her [Katie's]
entire form was seen dressed exactly as before--trailing skirts, vail, and
mantle, but with a belt which she gathered in her hands and rubbed
together that we might hear its silken rustle. Standing by the door, she
addressed me, saying that when she had walked entirely away from the
cabinet, she wished me to go in quickly, and, without moving the chair,
feel after the medium, and all about the cabinet, and see if I could find
her. She stepped out about five feet into the room, and at once I sprang
into the cabinet, felt in the chair, swept the floor and walls thoroughly
with my hands--but--not _a vestige of medium_ or _anything_ remained."

The italicizing is ours. We design to imitate the doctor in both frankness
and wisdom--to restate and accept his facts--but make no attempt at
explanation of them. We adduce the case because it parallels in
marvelousness the statements of Braybrook. What happens now may have had
its like before to-day. The modern case out-marvels, perhaps, the ancient
one; for we know not whether the guards felt for their prisoner or only
failed to see her. How they ascertained that she was gone is not told. Dr.
Storer felt the chair into which he had bound Mrs. Compton, felt the floor
and the ceiling all over, and could find nobody in the little cabinet,
which was but a triangle partitioned off at the corner of the room, whose
inner sides were only five feet each in length, so that a man, without
changing his position, might touch any part of it, unless the ceiling
overhead was above the man's reach. Shortly afterward, says Dr. Storer,
"the cabinet door was opened, and in the chair, tied as we had left her,
without the breaking of a thread, or the apparent movement of her person,
or in any respect differing from her appearance when last seen, sat the
medium, in that fearfully lifeless trance, from which nearly a half hour
was required to arouse her. I will not give any speculations of my own
upon this most marvelous exhibition. I submit the facts and vouch for
their entire accuracy."

Were Braybrook's statements true as to the main fact? They may have been.
If they were, we do not apprehend that the physical body of Sarah Good was
either removed from the vicinity of her guards, or seen by Elizabeth
Hubbard that night. Invisibility may have been wrapped around her body,
and yet not around her shoes and stockings; perhaps her spirit-form was
the only one seen by the distant observer. We hesitate to fix limits to
possibilities. Spirits to-day frequently manage, as they say, and as
results indicate, to render particular material objects lying within the
embrace of auras or emanations of some mediums, invisible temporarily by
the keenest of keen external eyes, even when such eyes are surrounded by
light sufficient for seeing other objects in the vicinity with
distinctness. That which is done now may have been done formerly. And
since such phenomena now seldom occur excepting in the near vicinity of
persons susceptible to spirit influences, the fair conclusion is, that
Sarah Good was a medium. Elizabeth Hubbard saw the spirit-form of Sarah
Good; which fact argues that Elizabeth was a clairvoyant, unless Sarah
Good's spirit was then materialized. Each and every one of the afflicted
girls is so repeatedly reported to have described perception of what
external sight could not see, external ear hear, nor external touch feel,
that the mediumistic susceptibilities of each and all of them are

The susceptibilities and endowments of both accusers and accused were
exceptional and yet alike in kind. The spiritual perceptive faculties and
the receptive capabilities of both classes could be brought into such
action as would out-work results perceptible by the external senses of
common people. Also, and especially, each class could be made to serve as
_mere tools_ of invisible beings. As such they were handled, their users
employing them severally as afflictor or as afflicted, at their pleasure,
within the permissions of psychological laws.

The choice, which selected certain ones to be implements by which to
afflict, and others to be the subjects of afflictions, was made by
dwellers in spirit spheres, familiar with psychological laws, and
competent to determine in which capacity each impressible one could be
most serviceable in advancing the ends of the supernal operators. Such a
view, when its correctness shall have been confirmed, will work out vast
amelioration in the world's judgment of that band of girls and women in
Salem Village who have long borne its scorn and detestation, and will
thrill every kindly heart with joy. When it shall become apparent that
some inborn physical peculiarities involved the controlling reasons why
certain persons rather than others were charged with being Satan's
devotees, then none can fail to see that it was not roguery, not artifice,
not malice, not grudges, not family or neighborhood or parochial quarrels,
not disputes about property, nor any social, moral, or religious eminence
or debasement,--no, not any one of those base motives of the normal
intellect and heart which lively fancy has pleased itself with conjuring
up and imputing,--no, it was not any one of those reprehensible and
damning motives, but was innate susceptibility of being easily controlled
by psychological forces; especially it was a constitutional liability to
be more readily seen, heard, and felt by persons similarly endowed than
was the great mass of people around them.

Ann Putnam, Jr., the keen-sighted pioneer of the clairvoyant
witch-detectors, saw the apparition, and felt the distressing influences
of Sarah Good, on the 25th of February. Her depositions were numerous;
there were but few of the accused whose apparitions had not met her
vision, but few who had not harmed her in ways and by forces unperceived
by external senses. The character and general purport of her testimony,
and also of most of the testimony from members of THE CIRCLE, is well
presented by the first deposition we find on record; which is as

    "The deposition of Ann Putnam, Jr., who testifieth and saith, that on
    the 25th of February, 1691-92, I saw the apparition of Sarah Good,
    which did torture me most grievously; but I did not know her name till
    the 27th of February, and then she told me her name was Sarah Good.
    And then she did pinch me most grievously; and also since; several
    times urging me vehemently to write in her book. And also on the 1st
    of March, being the day of her examination, Sarah Good did most
    grievously torture me; and also several times since. And also on the
    first day of March, 1692, I saw the apparition of Sarah Good go and
    afflict and torture the bodies of Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams,
    and Elizabeth Hubbard. Also I have seen the apparition of Sarah Good
    afflicting the body of Sarah Vibber.

      "ANN    PUTNAM."

That deposition furnishes a fair specimen of the kind of evidence sought
for, admitted, and applied to prove probable compact with the devil. All
of the above pertains to the first examination made at Salem, and it
reveals the opinions then prevalent relating to covenantings with the Evil
One, to powers and dispositions thence derived, and to then existing legal
methods for proving such compacts. There is little indication that
experiences at Salem, during the spring and summer of 1692, gave either
the examining magistrates, or the court, much, if any, new light or any
increase of wisdom or humaneness. Whatever modification of processes of
procedure subsequently took place, and whatever change of decisions as to
the value and admissibility of spectral evidence occurred, was for the
worse rather than the better. The creeds and laws conformed to then were
not formed and adopted for that occasion, but had prior existence, and
were here applied with strenuous vigor by firm hearts and clear heads.
Amid all the excitement, frenzy, infatuation, delusion, and credulity then
abounding, logic retained its power and guidance, and held courts and
juries to the requirements of the wholesome statutes of the English
Parliament, pertaining to witchcraft and to Christendom's witchcraft
creed. Old laws and faiths were here tested by strong men. They held for a
time, and wrought woeful effects, but finally were broken.

Sarah Good was wife of an inefficient husband, "William Good, laborer."
The family was very poor, having at times no home excepting such as
charity granted them temporarily. She is spoken of by Calef as having
"long been accounted a melancholy or distracted woman." Upham says that
"she was a forlorn, friendless, and forsaken creature, broken down by
wretchedness of condition and ill repute." We find no reason for
dissenting from that writer's statement when he says elsewhere, that "she
was an unfortunate and miserable woman _in her circumstances and
condition_;" but we doubt the fitness of calling her "forlorn" and "broken
down." She may have been so; but the spirit and energy generally
manifested by her words and acts indicate the probability that she was
rather a heedless, bold woman, free and harsh in the use of her tongue,
and not very sensitive to or regardful of public opinion, but yet strong
and not despondent. That she may have long been deemed, as Calef says she
was, a "distracted" woman, is very probable, for many simply mediumistic
persons, and even more of us who at this day solely because we believe in
the advent of spirits, both good and less good, have long been accounted

We have met with no indication that she was physically weak or mentally
despondent. She seems to have borne up well under long, tedious horseback
rides daily to and from Ipswich jail, nine or ten miles distant, whither
she was nightly sent ever after the time of her becoming invisible to her
guards. Her keeper on the way says, "she leaped off her horse three times,
railed at the magistrates, and endeavored to kill herself." That attempt,
if she made one, to take her own life, was scarcely less likely to spring
from the angry mental mood then prompting her to rail against the
magistrates, than from despondency or forlornness.

When under examination, her answers were about as direct, explicit, and to
the point, as most other suspected ones were able to give to the
perplexing questions which were put; and some of hers have more snap than
we usually find in words from lips of the "forlorn and broken down."

It is not probable that her previous life had won much public favor; yet
no evidence has been met with that her neighbors generally cherished
hostile feelings towards her, or possessed sentiments which would prompt
them to rejoice at her prosecution. We, as has already been made apparent,
ascribe her arrest to other causes than the lowness of her character and
condition. That was not the primal incentive to her being "cried out
upon." Her organization, and the then existing condition of her faculties,
made her either a convenient channel through which to transmit, or a
fountain from which to draw, forces into the systems of certain other
sensitives, which forces might act therein for either the annoyance and
suffering, or the pleasure and relief of the recipients, according to
either inherent properties of the forces themselves, or to the purpose of
some intelligence who should inflow and manipulate them. The sensitive
girls might, and, if well unfolded mediumistically, would unerringly trace
back such forces as acted upon themselves to their mundane point of
emanation, and in good conscience and good faith accuse the person from
whom the forces issued of being their tormentor; if clairvoyant they could
see, if clairaudient could hear, and, if not specially unfolded for seeing
with the inner eye and hearing with the inner ear, could _sense_ the
person from whom the foreign and disturbing influences came forth.

A bold spirit and prophetic glance pertained to this woman at the close of
her mortal life. When near the gallows, and about to be executed, Mr.
Noyes, the clergyman at Salem proper, told her "she was a witch, and she
knew that she was a witch." She promptly retorted, "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." Subsequently that man "died of an internal
hemorage, bleading profusely at the mouth." (_Hist. of Witchcraft_, vol.
ii. p. 270.) Gleamings of what will be often meet internal or mediumistic
eyes; and such probably did those of Sarah Good at that instant, and
authorized her prophetic utterance.


has already been presented in the reports of evidence against her mother;
but in those she was called Dorothy, and was reported as testifying that
her mother "had three birds, one black, one yellow, and that these birds
hurt the children, and afflicted persons." Such testimony, of course,
supported the side of the accusers. The little one's words were damaging
to her mother, and helpful to the mother's oppressors. But, from some
cause, she soon fell under suspicion of belonging to the class of
bewitchers. As early as March 3, Ann Putnam saw the apparition of this
child; and on the 21st of March, Mary Walcott did the same. This, of
course, was regarded as evidence that she was a witch; and on or near
March 23d she was arrested, examined, and soon after sent to jail.

Yes, little Dorcas, daughter of mediumistic Sarah Good, not five years
old, "looking well and hale as other children," was definitely, in legal
form, accused of witchcraft; was arrested, and brought before the civil
magistrates for examination. In presence of the magistrates the exhibiting
graduates from the school of "necromancy, magic, and spiritualism"--the
afflicted girls--accused the little child of biting them then and there,
and "also of pricking them with pins, with pinching and almost choking
them." In proof of all this they exhibited marks upon their flesh, just
such in size and form as matched her little teeth Also pins were found
under their clothing precisely where they asserted that she pricked them.

Such facts as imprints upon the arms of the girls, corresponding precisely
with such as the child's teeth might make, and the invisible pinchings,
prickings, &c., are not outside of nature's permissions, and therefore
were not impossible. Those girls, at their circle meetings, _or
elsewhere_, had obviously become very facile instruments in spiritualism,
had become usable by spirits as subjects for impressions, and
psychologically induced sensations. From the mediumistic little daughter
of a mediumistic mother, forms and forces could be made to emanate which
might act upon the plastic mediumistic sufferers in exact accordance with
such experiences, and producing such results as the girls described or
others witnessed. The senses of the annoyed ones could distinctly perceive
that the agonizing forces issued from that little girl. The accusers
probably stated only facts which they knew as well as any witness ever
knew his facts when describing what his own senses had brought him
knowledge of. Whether things seen and felt by the spirit senses be deemed
objective or only subjective, they are alike real to the consciousness of
the person that takes cognizance of them. The statements of the girls were
probably true. The possibilities in heaven and earth, and along where
their border-lines come in contact, are not recognized by some historians.
There are some persons at this day who hold even as contracting and
misleading philosophies, as Cotton Mather and the men of his generation
did. Modern wisdom (?) prompts some to discredit any actual occurrence of
any extra-marvelous facts--any facts _seeming_ more than natural--and to
impeach the accuracy or the truthfulness of any and all who attest to
such, rather than admit that the bases of their own philosophies can be
improved by expansion. Such persons, when attempting to account for many
facts in human history, are, though it may be unconsciously to themselves,
like mill-horses tethered to an unchanging center, and made to move within
a fixed circumference. Habit soon brings loss of desire, if not of
courage, to turn the eyes outward and look upon facts whose producers work
from outside the beaten rounds in which some theorists travel. This makes
it bad for many facts, such facts as are popping into view through avenues
deemed anomalous. There are writers who do their best to enforce upon such
facts the Mosaic command, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." But
facts are immortal; buried ones often reappear, and demonstrate their own
former occurrence.

Two centuries ago, the claim of great marvels to be objective facts was
generally conceded. But at that time the hidden workers of wonders were
woefully slandered as to parentage: men deemed them _all_ to be both imps
of the malignant ruler of the darkest regions of realms unseen, and his
emissaries from pandemonium to the abodes of man.

Faith in the genuineness of witchcraft facts, though in Dorcas Good's day
it hid a multitude of sins, failed to make the arresting of a mere infant
witch a desirable operation. For some reason the officious marshal,
Herrick, sent forth constable Braybrook to encounter and capture man's
great enemy when that wily one had ensconced himself in an infant's form.
But the deputy scavengered up and sub-deputized somebody else to fight
that battle for God and Christ. His menial went the needful two or three
miles north through the woods to Benjamin Putnam's house, and executed the
daring feat of bringing on his back, or in some other way, a "hale and
well-looking" girl of less than five years into court, a culprit because
of co-laboring with and being a covenanted servant of witchcraft's devil!
The darkness of delusion which such an arrest failed to illumine must have
been thick indeed! But the creed of the day, devil-ward, the creed of the
fathers, the creed of Christendom, so deluded the public judgment that it
demanded the blood of a witch even though she were an infant.

The condition of the public mind only a very short time subsequent to the
irrational, unkindly, barbarous arrest of that child has been depicted by
Upham, vol. ii. p. 112, in sentences more graphic, spirited, and eloquent
than our own powers could possibly put forth, and differing considerably
from what we would essay to give were our rhetorical abilities equal to
his. He states that--

"The proceedings of the 11th and 12th of April produced a great effect in
driving on the general infatuation.... 'Twas awful to see how the
afflicted persons were agitated.... Those girls, by long practice in 'the
circle,' and day by day before the astonished and wondering neighbors
gathered to witness their distresses, and especially on the more public
occasions of the examinations, had acquired consummate boldness and tact.
In simulations of passions, sufferings, and physical affections; in
sleight of hand, and the management of voice and feature and attitude, no
necromancers have surpassed them. There has seldom been better acting in a
theater than they displayed in the presence of the astonished and
horror-stricken rulers, magistrates, ministers, judges, jurors,
spectators, and prisoners. No one seems to have dreamed that their actings
and sufferings could have been the result of cunning or imposture. Deodat
Lawson was a man of talents, had seen much of the world, and was by no
means a simpleton, recluse, or novice; but he was totally deluded by them.
The prisoners, although conscious of their own innocence, were utterly
confounded by the acting of the girls. The austere principles of that
generation forbade with the utmost severity all theatrical shows and
performances; but at Salem village and the old town, in the respective
meeting-houses, and at Deacon Nathaniel Ingersoll's, some of the best
playing ever got up in this country was practiced, and patronized for
weeks and months at the very centre and heart of Puritanism, by 'the most
straitest sect' of that solemn order of men. Pastors, deacons,
church-members, doctors of divinity, college professors, officers of
state, crowded, day after day, to behold feats which have never been
surpassed on the boards of any theater; which rivaled the most memorable
achievements of pantomimists, thaumaturgists, and stage-players, and made
considerable approaches toward the best performances of ancient sorcerers
and magicians, or modern jugglers and mesmerizers."

The brilliancy, fervor, and literary finish of that description of the
public enthusiasm and bewilderment are truly worthy of admiration, while
the picture is not, and probably could not be, overwrought. Still we must
doubt the competency of the alleged authors of the excitement to perform
the bewildering and frenzying acts ascribed to them.

We have heard from of old, and could quasi believe, that mountains in
labor brought forth mice. But it is only rarely one has earnestly and
fervently sought and striven to entice the reading public to admit
conviction that a dozen _enceinte_ mice could enwomb and give birth to a
vast and terrific volcano.

One must needs look in wondering astonishment upon that keenness of vision
which, at the middle of the nineteenth century, penetrating through mold
and debris which have, through a century and three fourths, been gathering
over momentous events, sees clearly that they were the genuine offspring
of youthful "cunning and imposture," even while the owner of such vision
himself perceived that neither the learned, talented, and keen Deodat
Lawson, nor any other one of all the many able and sagacious men who were
lookers-on at the amazing feats while they were transpiring, _dreamed_
that the actings and sufferings could have been the results of cunning and
imposture. The day of Lawson and his companion observers was too near the
facts for any dreams about them. It required a peculiarly plastic modern
brain, and the intervening lapse of eightscore years, for the generation
and birth of such a _dream_. The reason of its non-appearance in 1692 is
very plain. Known facts then left no vacancy in the brains of that day for
storage of the fictions of dreamland.

We return to little Dorcas Good. The creed devil-ward had hoodwinked all
eyes. All things were in a terrific and bewildering whirl. Calm reflection
and deliberate reasoning upon anything new were impossible. If perchance a
mind asked itself whether an infant was competent to bargain with the
devil and thence become a witch, it had no time to respond to its own
inquiry. In open court, mysterious bitings were perpetrated by the teeth
of this little girl, because the marks fitted her set and none other. The
marks were made by the accused girl's teeth. Ocular demonstration,
therefore, was proving her to be the devil's instrument; for otherwise she
could not invisibly bite, nor could her teeth be made to bite, those who
were off beyond her reach.

Standing upon what we said in the last chapter relating to the passing of
hurts through the spirit to its outer body, we hold that spirits may have
so applied the spirit teeth of little Dorcas to the spirit limbs of the
afflicted girls, as to have left the marks of her teeth upon their flesh.

Woefully did the creed of that time not only permit, but call for the
arrest of that infantile girl, solely because, under the operation of
natural laws of generation, she inherited properties or capabilities which
rendered her, from the time when she was conceived, ever onward, very
susceptible to psychological influences. The judges, observing what were
but legitimate and necessary outworkings of her inborn properties, being
ignorant of their true source and nature, deemed them such a crime that
the court sent her to Boston jail a prisoner, there to keep company with
the mother from whom her peculiar properties had been derived, by whose
milk they had been nourished, and in whose magnetisms they had unfolded.
The present century is learning facts which teach that inborn properties
and susceptibilities, and not compacts with the devil, constitute
_witches_--some of whom are very lovely. An infantile witch is no great
marvel now. Such can be found in many a family, "through whose lips angels
speak" to-day, as they did through Emanuel Swedenborg's when but a child,
and who, born in January, 1688, was precisely a contemporary of Dorcas


was companion prisoner of Sarah Good and Tituba on the memorable first
week in March, 1692. Thirty years before, she had been married to Thomas
Prince, and at the time of her arrest was wife of Alexander Osburn;
consequently she was well advanced in years. She also had long been an
invalid, confined during long periods to her bed. Her worldly
circumstances were comfortable--she and her family were neither poor nor
rich--were neither very low nor very high on the social scale. _But she
had heard words coming forth from unseen lips._ And on February 25, her
apparition appeared to and annoyed Ann Putnam. Nothing has been noticed in
the records which indicates that Ann ever spoke of any perceptions by her
inner senses prior to that date, or that any member of the circle,
excepting Tituba, preceded Ann in having opened vision. The latter saw
"the tall man, with white hair and serge coat," as early as January 15.
But Tituba's voice, had she have spoken, would have been powerless. Ann's
position in society was high; she belonged to a family of wealth, culture,
influence, and high respectability. Her mystical words were potent. In
four days subsequent to her first reported vision of apparitions, three
women were under arrest for witchcraft, and Ann's father was one of the
very efficient advocates of prosecutions for that crime. Feeble,
"bed-ridden" Sarah Osburn, of whom Upham speaks as one whose "broken and
disordered mind was essentially truthful and innocent," and whose
residence was at least a mile and a half north from Mr. Parris's home, and
quite distant east from Ann's, on a road not likely to be often traveled
by her, was among the marked and blasted three. Why? None now, perhaps,
can tell with certainty. Probabilities alone can be adduced. Our
supposition is, that at the moment when Ann's keen and far-sweeping inner
sight was opened, and spirit substance, instead of material light, became
her medium of vision, the most brilliant objects to meet her gaze, in all
the region far around, would be one or more of the mediumistically
unfolded persons dwelling there. From those among that class whose
systems were fountains of emanations which at the time impinged upon her
sensibilities, and did not harmoniously coalesce with her elements, and
therefore acted as quasi acids upon her alkalies, or as alkalies upon her
acids, produced painful effervescences which might ensue naturally, apart
from the aid of any manipulating intelligence; or, if some intelligent
being were observant of the currents and conditions of spirit magnetisms
or forces then, and disposed to either intensify, abate, or modify their
natural action, he might do so, and also could manipulate them to
furtherance of his own ends, whether beneficent or malignant. Then and
there, even high benevolence in one whose vision swept the far future,
might take such primal steps as short-sighted mortals must look upon as
necessarily altogether harmful in both immediate and remote results.

Such natural laws as reign supreme in spirit-realms may have led to the
selection of secluded, inoffensive, "essentially truthful, and innocent"
Sarah Osburn, as one of the tormentors of the girls, who were either
schooled in magic by their own elected study and practice of it, or were
constitutionally fitted for fitful enfranchisement of their inner
perceptive organs while yet dwellers in their mortal forms, and whose
bodies could become tools for other minds to use. If she was simply the
voluntary actor out of her own "cunning or imposture," little Ann Putnam,
twelve years old, brightest among the bright, and member of one of the
most intelligent and religious families of the Village, she also must have
been herself a _devil_, and so devilishly a devil, that even Cloven-foot
might feel it a duty to pass his scepter into her hands. But grant that
she was a medium through whose form other minds and wills could act, as
she in fact was, and then we can regard her physical form as simply an
instrument through which an intelligence other than herself manifested
action to human senses; and thus we can deem _her_ guiltless, whatever
shall be our judgment of the intruding performer upon her "harp of a
thousand strings."

Parts of the testimony in the case of Mrs. Osburn reveal her possession of
mediumistic susceptibilities. As with Joan of Arc and many others, so with
this woman; the inner ear could hear voices from some source impalpable by
external senses.

"(It was said by some in the meeting-house that she had said that she
would never be tied to that lying spirit any more.)

"_Q._ 'What lying spirit is this? Hath the devil ever deceived you and
been false to you?'

"_A._ 'I do not know the _devil_. I never did see him.'

"_Q._ 'What lying spirit was it, then?'

"_A._ 'It was a _voice_ that I thought I heard.'

"_Q._ 'What did it propound to you?'

"_A_. 'That I should go no more to meeting. But I said I would; and did go
the next Sabbath day.'"--_Woodward's Hist. Series_, No. I. p. 37.

Although the timid prisoner said only that she _thought_ she heard a
voice, the reader will notice that she made no denial that she had
previously said "that she would never be tied to that _lying spirit_ any
more;" therefore by fair implication she conceded that she had once, if
not many times, heard a voice which she had openly spoken of as having
been that of a _lying spirit_; and also that she had more or less been
instructed by and followed his, her, or its advice. The fact that she was
enjoined not to go to meeting any more, argues nothing either against the
spiritual source of the advice, or the good intent of whoever gave it. She
had long been a sickly, bed-ridden woman; therefore such advice might have
been given by any wise Christian physician. We are not concerned with
either the moral or religious states of invisible actors and speakers, but
are looking specially for some of the more distinct evidences that
invisible intelligences of some quality enacted Salem witchcraft, and,
therefore, looking for the peculiar properties of both the embodied
persons through and those upon whom they directly acted.

Sarah Osburn, though a secluded, respectable, inoffensive woman well
advanced in years, was an early victim before the sweeping blast that
rushed over the Village. Too feeble to endure the hardship of prison life,
she died in jail before the day for her trial. She who heard voices from
out the realm of silence, possessed inner faculties in fit condition to
permit effluxes that reached and annoyed the mediumistic children, who
traced them back to her, and made statements which brought her under
suspicion of being a covenanter with the devil. Such capabilities
constituted her crime--her witchcraft--and incited a devil-fighting people
to persecution which hastened her exit to the realm from which the
advisory voices had come upon her ears.


Soon after the commencement of prosecutions, suspicion alighted on one of
more refinement, intelligence, efficiency, godliness, and respectability
than the females first arrested. Martha, wife of Giles Corey,--aged,
prayerful, but bright; disbelieving in any witchcraft; doubting the
existence of any witches; discountenancing searches for any,--said that
the eyes of the magistrates were blinded, and that she could open them.
She possessed spiritual and theological knowledge uncommon in her day and
vicinity, and must have held beliefs and convictions derived from other
sources than those at which her neighbors obtained their supplies. She was
aloof from the prevalent delusion devil-ward.

Though a church member, a woman of prayer, of reputed, and doubtless of
genuine, piety, Martha Corey was very early _sensed_ by the Anns Putnam,
mother and daughter, as the source of emanations which tortured them.
Therefore she must be a witch. Grounds for such conclusion were not
necessarily fanciful and fallacious. When and where natural outworkings
from mediumistic properties and conditions were mistaken for symptoms of
witchcraft, Martha Corey might easily be convicted of diabolism. We credit
the allegation of Ann Putnam the younger that she was annoyed and
afflicted by Mrs. Corey even while the two were miles apart. But we
decline to admit that Mrs. Corey necessarily or probably had any voluntary
connection with the girl's sufferings. Either unintelligent natural forces
attracted the woman's effluvia to Ann, or else Tituba's "tall man," or
some other hidden intelligent being, formed connections and applied
processes which brought elements of these two persons into conjunction,
and thus produced in the girl intense physical disturbances and
sufferings, and attendant liberation of her inner perceptive faculties.

Ann's uncle, Edward Putnam, together with Ezekiel Cheever, because of the
girl's repeated outcries upon Mrs. Corey, only just one week after the
sending of Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osburn to jail, concluded to make
a call upon sister Corey, who was "in church covenant" with them, and
learn from her own lips what she would say relative to the suspicions that
had been raised concerning her.

These just and considerate men,--for they were such,--probably seeing the
possibility that the child might be mistaken as to the person who was
causing her to suffer, very properly called upon Ann when they were about
to start on their way to the woman's residence, and asked the suffering
girl to describe the dress Mrs. Corey was then wearing. Their obvious
design was to test the accuracy of the child's perceptions. But that
purpose was not accomplished. The child pleaded inability to see, and
stated that blindness was put upon her just then _by the accused woman
herself_. The sequel indicates that Mrs. Corey foresensed the visit she
was about to receive, imbibed knowledge of the intended test, and of
action to thwart its success. Though dwelling and being miles apart as
physical persons, those two females may have then been practically
together as spirits, and have mutually sensed the thoughts, acts, and
conditions of each other as far as each avoided intentional concealment.
All of Ann's statements may have been in strict accordance with facts
actually witnessed and experienced by her inner self. There is no need to
assume that she feigned or falsified at all, even if no invisible personal
operators were concerned in what then transpired; and certainly not, if
Tituba's "tall man" and his associates were then present and acting, as
they may have been. Perhaps invisible actors, holding both of these
impressible subjects under psychological control, either imparted to, or
withheld from either of them, just such knowledge and perceptions as would
further the purposes of the operators--which may have been either simply a
manifestation of their own powers, or an intimation to the adroit men that
they were undertaking to deal with something which it would not be easy to
outwit or thwart. Also other and very different purposes may have actuated

Some spirits, at some times, have ability, through some mortal lips, to
express their thoughts to the embodied, and to wreathe their own emotions
over faces they borrow, even while the spirit, the selfhood, of the mortal
form usurped is conscious of what is being done through it. Remember that
the form of the conscious Agassiz was, against his own will, made to obey
Townshend's mind. Perhaps Madam Corey's expressions of thoughts and
emotions were sometimes prompted, and at other times modified by an unseen
intelligence temporarily cohabiting with her own.

When the two brethren of the church, going forth on their solemn,
self-imposed mission, had arrived at her home, Madam Corey welcomed them
_with a smile_; notwithstanding she possessed and expressed very exact
knowledge of the ominous nature and the purpose of their call. Her
saluting words were, "I know what you are come for. You are come to talk
with me about being a witch; but I am none. I cannot help other people's
talking of me." This probably had reference to Ann Putnam's saying that
she was afflicted by this speaker. She soon asked the men whether Ann,
whose accusations had prompted their call, "had described the clothes she
then wore." Learning that her dress had not been described, "a smile came
over her face." Somebody's consciousness of power, issuing from her form,
to obscure the child's vision, probably expressed itself in that smile;
and the reflection that the child was operated upon by forces within or
action through Mrs. Corey's own form, and therefore not necessarily by the
devil, and inference thence that the girl was not necessarily bewitched,
was followed by her saying, "she did not think there were any witches."
She knew enough of spiritual things to enable her to observe the broad
distinction, overlooked by her cotemporaries, that may exist between some
spirits and the devil; and also between persons whose inner senses were
cognizant of spirit presence and action as naturally as the outer eye was
of the sunlight, between these and such other human beings, could there be
any such, and she thought there could not, who made a covenant with the
devil, which covenant was a necessary preliminary to being a witch. "She,"
very reasonably, "did not think there were any" such "witches;" and only
_such_ were sought for by her visitors and the startled public.

This woman was intelligent, courteous, and devout--was capable of
understanding that _witch_, as then defined, necessarily meant a person
who had voluntarily entered into a distinct compact with a factitious
devil. Her _sensings_ in spirit spheres found no native-born monstrosity
there, and she could say in good conscience that she did not believe there
existed any such witches as her visitors and fellow church members were on
the hunt for. At the same time she may have known, probably did know, that
her own spirit and the spirit of little Ann Putnam could come into such
communings as would give them accurate and conscious mutual perception of
many unspoken thoughts and experiences in each other.

Mrs. Corey, as we view her, was very mediumistic, and was also a woman
whose habitual aspirations were after things true, pure, and excellent.
But no amount of good or bad moral and religious qualities either
constitutes or nullifies ability for mutual visibility and rapport between
mediumistic persons. All such are impressible more by virtue of their
organisms and native properties, external and internal, than by any
intellectual and moral acquisitions, whether good or _bad_.

Properties issuing from Mrs. Corey's system probably pinched and otherwise
tortured Ann Putnam; the girl knew their special mundane issuance, and
innocently gave utterance to the knowledge. She did so innocently and in
good faith. But the divulgence of facts often brings fearful sequences.

When clear-headed logicians, being also conscientious and true men, as
well as holders of undoubting faith that none but covenanted devotees to a
wily devil could obtain knowledge and work harm by mysterious
processes,--when such men took this case into careful consideration, the
facts stated by the girl were to them proof that Mrs. Corey was the
devil's minion, and therefore must be consigned to a witch's doom--death.

Edward Putnam and one other complained of her.

The warrant for her arrest was dated March 19, just one week after the
visit of Putnam and Cheever. She was examined on the 21st; sentenced,
September 9; executed, September 22. The questioning at the examination
was discursive and protracted, spreading beyond inquiries as to who hurt
the children, and how they were tormented, because of the prisoner's
alleged disbelief in witchcraft; disapprobation of efforts to detect it;
declarations that the magistrates, ministers, and others were blinded, and
that she could open their eyes. She denied all knowledge as to who hurt
the children, all knowledge of the devil, and repeatedly asked permission
to go to prayer; but this privilege was denied her. She behaved like one
conscious of innocence of the things laid to her charge, and manifested
much intelligence, self-possession, and tact.

While on trial, one feature in her demeanor, already indicated on a
previous occasion, strongly attracts notice. Notwithstanding the terrible
fate that was standing before her, and the unflagging persistency of the
magistrates and all others present in assuming her guilt, she was several
times accused of _laughing_. Those laughs may have been simply hysterical,
but possibly they were widely different from such.

"Why did you say the magistrates' and ministers' eyes were blinded," and
"you would open them? She laughed, and denied it."

"Were you to serve the devil ten years? She laughed."

"Why did you say you would show us? She laughed again."

As previously stated, when Edward Putnam and Ezekiel Cheever made their
call, although she knew the solemn object of the visit, they report that
"in a _smiling manner_ she said, 'I know what you are come for.' With
'eagerness of mind' she asked them, 'Does she tell you what clothes I have
on?' And when they replied that Ann had said, 'You came and blinded her,
and told her that she should see you no more before it was night, that so
she might not tell us what clothes you had on,' she seemed to _smile at it
as if she had showed us a pretty trick_." These men obviously were
prettily tricked. But who was genuine author of playful proceedings at a
time when the business was so grave and solemn? And whose emotions mantled
her face with smiles in the stern and frowning presence of "authority"?
Her calm and pleasant deportment, while others were agitated or solemnly
stern, was very like what is often manifested through some human forms by
intelligences whose condition places them beyond the reach of man's
frowns, laws, prisons, and scaffolds, and who, dwelling aloof from storms
of human passion, can smile amid scenes that make humanity shudder.

Calef states, that "Martha Corey, wife to Giles Corey, protesting her
innocency, concluded her life with an eminent prayer upon the ladder."
Upham (vol. ii. 458) sums up her character thus: "Martha Corey was an aged
Christian professor of eminently devout habits and principles. It is
indeed a _strange fact_, that, in her humble home, surrounded, as it then
was, by a wilderness, this husbandman's wife should have reached a height
so above and beyond her age." The strangeness of the fact argues strongly
in favor of our position, that she was so unfolded as to receive
instruction directly from supernal teachers, or sense it in amid supernal
auras. "But," continues the historian, "it is proved conclusively by the
depositions adduced against her, that her mind was wholly disinthralled
from the errors of that period. She utterly repudiated the doctrines of
witchcraft, and expressed herself strongly and fearlessly against them.
The prayer which this woman made 'upon the ladder,' and which produced
such an impression upon those who heard it, was undoubtedly expressive of
enlightened piety, worthy of being characterized as 'eminent' in its
sentiments, and in its demonstration of an innocent, heart and life."

All her history suggests that this worthy woman, whose ways and powers
were somewhat peculiar, was one of those rare individuals whose interior
perceptives become so unfolded while in the body as to sense in knowledge
by processes, and in some directions to extent, beyond the possible reach
of man's outward intellect. Because of such blissful unfoldings her age
condemned her, hastened her exit from among a creed-bound people, and her
entrance to the home of freed spirits.


As renowned as any one among all sufferers under persecutions for
witchcraft--a hero in the band--was Giles Corey, husband of Martha, more
than fourscore years old, but still strong and resolute. He may have been
wild and rough in youth and early manhood, but was efficient in business,
and before the close of life was possessor of a very handsome estate for
those times in that region. When the witchcraft prosecutions commenced, he
sided with the multitude for a time; was vexed that his wife would not do
the same, and, in his excitement, perhaps gave free vent to such hard
epithets as his tongue had been allowed to put forth freely in his earlier
years; some of which were soon brought to bear against his good dame,
while she was subjected to examination. From some cause his sympathy with
the prosecutors subsided when he saw his good wife maligned by them, and
soon the witch detectors were after him also. He was arrested and
imprisoned. His keen penetration perceived that acquittal, as things were
going, was impossible, unless the accused pleaded guilty; which plea
truth, honor, and manhood forbade him to make. To be tried and condemned
would involve a forfeiture of his property, and take it from his children.
But no trial could be had, and of course no condemnation, unless he should
plead either guilty or not guilty to the indictment. His decision was soon
formed. Taken into court, he closed his lips, and no power there could
open them. Neither _guilty_ nor _not guilty_ could be wrung from them. The
large, strong, old man stood in calm majesty before the court, his silence
challenging the whole civil power of the province to shake his purpose.
English custom in such cases--and he probably knew it--was to subject the
recusant to lingering torture, trusting that pain or prostration would
wring out a plea of either guilty or not guilty. Order was given by the
court to lay this old man prostrate, pile over him heavy weights, and put
him upon starvation diet for the purpose of bringing his stubborn will to
subjection. But neither oppressing weights, the pangs of hunger, nor both
combined, weakened the hold of that strong will upon its purpose. His only
utterances then were, "More weight, more weight!"

Corey himself testified at his preliminary examination, and the court
tried to make it evidence of diabolism, that, twice at least, when
attempting to pray, there was more or less stoppage of his utterance.
Whether this was caused by the action of some outside intelligence
bringing spirit forces to bear upon him is not apparent. The case as
stated will hardly justify the presumption, though it suggests the
possibility that it was. The dumbness that was formerly imposed upon the
prophet Ezekiel and priest Zacharias, and that which frequently befalls
mediums in our own age, teach that unseen intelligences sometimes can and
do temporarily prevent the use of vocal organs by their legitimate owners.

The conclusive evidences which led to his commitment were spectral. His
apparition had been seen by many, and had harmed them. Ann Putnam's sharp
eyes were first in this case, as in most others, to see the witch. She saw
this old man's apparition April 13; Mercy Lewis did on the 14th; and
subsequently he was seen as a specter by, and gave annoyances to, eight
other females and two males, who severally gave in depositions to that

Was their perception of him nothing more than the product of the
imagination of the witnesses? Were all the declarations false?
Possibly--but not probably; for both imagination and perjury are often
charged with doing what clairvoyance legitimately sees and authorizes.

He was examined April 19, five days after his apparition was first seen.
Calef states that "Sept. 16th Giles Corey was prest to death." In a
foot-note, p. 260 of _Salem Witchcraft_, we read that "Giles Corey was
_executed_ Sept. 19, 1692, about noon." Perhaps these statements permit
the conclusion that he was subjected to pressure from some hour of the
16th, Calef's date, till noon of the 19th, or about three days, when,
according to Fowler, he died. "In pressing," Calef says, "his tongue being
prest out of his mouth, the sheriff, with his cane, forced it in again
when he was dying."

Corey's endurance and call for "more weight," says Upham, ii. 340, "for a
person of more than eighty-one years of age, must be allowed to have been
a marvelous exhibition of prowess, illustrating, as strongly as anything
in human history, the power of a resolute will over the utmost pain and
agony of body, and demonstrating that Giles Corey was a man of heroic
nerve, and of a spirit that could not be subdued." Hutchinson closes his
account of this case with the remark that, "in all ages of the world,
superstitious credulity has produced greater cruelty than is practiced
among Hottentots, or other nations, whose belief of a deity is called in
question." And why "_greater_ cruelty"? Nowhere outside of Christendom was
so cruel a devil conceived of as within it. And therefore greater
incitements to cruelty were called up in those fighting against his
minions than in any other men anywhere at any time. The creed devil-ward,
and not general "superstitious credulity," evoked in strong, good men,
true to their ancestral and the _Christian_ world's faith, more than


The deluding and heart-steeling power of false conceptions of the devil,
combined with clear faith that he could get access to external things only
through human covenanters with himself, and also with belief that it was
an imperative duty of Christian men to slay such persons as even spectral
evidence or statements of clairvoyants pointed to as being in league with
him, is perhaps manifested as strikingly and sadly in the case of Rebecca
Nurse, as in that of any other person tried and executed at Salem--or
indeed anywhere, in any age. The spirit-form or apparition of this
venerable lady--venerable not only for years then bordering upon
fourscore, but for a long life of active beneficence; for strong good
sense; for Christian graces; for being the good wife of one and mother and
mother-in-law of several as good, respectable, and useful men as the
Village contained. Character and domestic connections so shielded her that
nothing short of mighty power could fix upon her a blasting crime.

Her spirit-form or apparition had been seen by several members of the
circle, and charged with having tempted them to evil and tormented them
prior to the 23d of March; on the 24th she was brought before the
magistrates and subjected to examination. The occasion was well fitted to
put to severe test existing fealty to a fearful creed. Well might the
magistrate then say to the prisoner, as he did, "What a sad thing it is
that a church member ... should be thus accused and charged." Especially
_sad_ it must have been in this case, because the accused had long been,
and well deserved to be, regarded as one of the most venerable and
esteemed of all the "mothers in Israel" residing in the region there and
round about. Some sympathy was on her side, for when she said, "I can say
before my Eternal Father I am innocent, and God will clear my innocency,"
the magistrate responded, "There is never a one in the assembly but
desires it."

This venerable matron was then, and for scores of years had been, beloved
and respected wherever known for her beautiful domestic, social, and
religious course. Even such a one, however, was drawn in and crushed by
the fierce and whirling zeal that was impelling community into headlong
and frenzied fight for God and Christ against the _Devil_. Age and virtue
were insufficient to arrest or divert the rushing storm which
hallucination devil-ward then generated and propelled. A benighting creed,
like a huge nightmare, lay down upon, and held down, both reason and all
the kindlier sentiments, while it evoked and allowed free play to harsh
and murderous propensities. Whither either natural brilliancy or natural
attraction drew clairvoyant eyes most intently, thither were the accusing
girls swayed to lead the whelming force. Why should they lead to, or
rather why fix upon, the beloved and venerated Mrs. Nurse?

We may not find in the old records as full and distinct evidence that she
was constitutionally impressible by either mesmeric or spirit force, as
many others are now seen to have been--we may miss conclusive _proof_ that
she was a magnet either drawing to or emitting from itself psychological
forces unconsciously, and thence either becoming herself psychologized or
yielding out substances from her own system which might cause, or be made
instrumental in causing, marked changes in other human organisms. Still,
several facts indicate that she may be assigned a place among the

Mrs. Nurse, Mrs. Easty, and Mrs. Cloyse--three sisters--whose maiden name
was Towne, were eminently intelligent, efficient, respectable, and
respected matrons, and yet were all accused, tried, and the elder two were
executed because their spirit-forms or apparitions had been seen by
clairvoyants. The records contain a statement made at the time, in these
words: "It was no wonder they were witches, _for their mother was so
before them_." Often "blood will out" whatever its quality. Three noble
daughters bespeak a good mother, and yet, for some reason, Mrs. Towne had
been called _a witch_. The properties of the parent reappeared in her
children, and rendered them visible by the inner or clairvoyant sight of
others. Perception of their spirit-forms and of influences thence
emanating caused the accusing girls to name these good women as their
tormentors. Visibility as spirits or apparitions, and effluxes from their
systems, were their crimes.

Though members of the accusing circle had been demonstrative for several
weeks, and probably had attracted to their bedsides or homes nearly every
person in the town who could move abroad, yet, at the time of her
examination, Mrs. Nurse had not been to see any of them. Her age and
infirmities alone might well have excused her. But when asked why she had
not visited the sufferers, she added to a statement of her years and
debility, that "by reason of _fits_ that she formerly used to have," she
had not been to see them. Remembrance of her own past fits--not
recent--not impending fits--but fits which "she _formerly_ used to have,"
deterred her from going to the presence of the fit-afflicted. The question
was repeated thus: "_Why_ did you never visit these afflicted persons?"
_Ans._ "Because I was afraid _I should have fits, too_." Why afraid of
such result? Obviously she felt a secret apprehension that her coming in
contact with emanations from these mysteriously fit-afflicted ones, or
into close sympathy with them, would bring upon herself again such fits as
"she formerly used to have." From this comes forth spontaneously the
inference that she suspected that the nature and source of her own former
fits, and of those then transpiring in youthful forms, were so nearly
allied, that under the general law which makes like produce its like, she
was liable to have again generated within herself, in her old age, such
sufferings as she had experienced some time in previous years. In our view
she was correct in her supposition that she herself was constitutionally
liable to just such handlings as the jumping-jack girls were receiving.
Her own fears bespeak the probability that Mrs. Nurse was very impressible
by mind not her own--that she was highly mediumistic; and we ascribe her
persecution to her impressibility. Natural law led to designation of both
this woman and her sisters as the devil's covenanted servants. Their creed
blinded her persecutors to moral perceptions in certain emergencies, and
made them reason falsely concerning the source and purport of spectral
data. The presumed mediumistic properties of her mother, together with her
own apprehension that presence with the girls might bring renewal of her
own old fits, indicate that she probably was quite mediumistic. There is,
however, no clear indication that she was at any time so far developed as
to see or hear spirits or specters, nor that her own selfhood ever yielded
up to another's use her physical organs of speech or action.

Mr. Parris, who, by request from the magistrates, took minutes of the
questions and responses at the trial of Mrs. Nurse, states that the tumult
in court was very disturbing, and intimates that it was difficult to
furnish a very reliable account of the transactions. Also Mrs. Nurse was
quite deaf and otherwise infirm, so that it is doubtful whether she always
correctly understood the questions put to her, or that she held her mental
faculties under such control as enabled her to give pertinent answers at
all times. She is reported as expressing belief that the accusing girls
were "not acting against their wills." Therein, if she was correctly
understood, she differed from the court and most beholders of the
children. Then the court remarked, "If you think it is not unwillingly,
but by design, you must look upon them as murderers." Probably all others
made that inference, and yet the accused did not. She distinctly denied
that she looked upon them as _murderers_, and only called them
"distracted." Crazy, and yet voluntary, seems to have been the view she
took of the girls; they were voluntary, but not responsible actors. Their
own wills, guided by their own intellects in disordered condition,
produced the fearful allegations. This was her charitable view.

The power of human will to resist fits like those which the afflicted
endured is brought up for consideration when we find enfeebled Mrs. Nurse
afraid that visiting the suffering girls might induce recurrence of such
fits as she "formerly used to have." She seems to have surmised the
probable existence of such contagion in the air surrounding the sufferers
as in her weak state she might be unable to ward off; and it is possible
that memories of her own success when she was strong, in baffling
fit-producers may have persuaded her that young persons possess power to
withstand such operators, whether intelligent or merely physical, even
though the old may not.

What human wills can do deserves most careful notice, and was well
illustrated in the case of little Elizabeth Parris. She was only nine
years old, and was one of the first, if not the very first, to be
distressed by fits and pinchings at the Village,--was the one whom Tituba
loved, and was specially unwilling, and yet was forced, to pinch. Upham
says, "She seems to have performed a leading part in the first stages of
the affair, and must have been a child of remarkable precocity." Drake, in
vol. iii., Appendix, says, "Parris appears to have been very desirous of
preventing his daughter Elizabeth from participating in the excitement at
the village. She was sent by her father, at the commencement of the
delusion, to reside at Salem, with Captain Stephen Sewall. While there,
the captain and his wife were much discouraged in effecting a cure, as she
continued to have sore fits. Elizabeth said that the great Black-man came
to her and told her, that if she would be ruled by him, she should have
whatsoever she desired, and go to a _golden city_. She related this to
Mrs. Sewall, who immediately told the child it was the devil, and he was a
liar, and bade her tell him so if he came again; which she did
accordingly.... The devil ... unaccustomed in those days to experience
such resistance ... never troubled her afterwards." It is generally true,
that if one strenuously resist the visitings of any spirit, whether it be
Gabriel or Beelzebub, the spirit cannot long maintain close access. If the
account just given, relating to Elizabeth Parris, be correct, she both saw
and heard what she, the actual and unsophisticated observer of his form
and features, called the "black man,"--who, as Mather states clairvoyants
generally say, "resembles an Indian." But Mrs. Sewall, adopting the usage
of the time, ignorantly called this semblance of an Indian "THE DEVIL."
Yes, the little girl, after her removal from home and _The Circle_, and no
doubt without young confederates, continued to have sore fits, and also to
see and to hear with her inner organs of sense during quite a long time.
"The captain and his wife were much discouraged in effecting a cure." The
discouragement shows that the process of cure was slow and prolonged;
eventually, however, the desired result was reached. The remedy is
indicated. Will-power wrought out the cure. The patient's own will was
aroused and armed with a resolute purpose to close up, and to keep
constantly and firmly closed, her own spirit loopholes through which only
could she see or hear the black man, or be influenced by him. A strong
will, steadily set against the entrance of a disembodied spirit, or
against perception of such, generally, though not always, effects its
purpose. The wills of companions and advisers, if working in harmony with
the resisting one, greatly increase its resisting power. Mrs. Sewall, and
the captain too, no doubt kept their wills set against the visiting black
man, till will-force generated an aura whose outgoing waves he could not
breast, and by which the girl's inner perceptives were firmly bandaged and
made dormant. Were the fits and visions which the isolated child continued
to have for a time after she was sent from home nothing other than her own
voluntary pranks and feignings? She was not author of them. The black man,
or Indian, then acted through and upon her till it was no longer in his
power to perform mighty works there because of unbelief, which had grown
up and hardened into an impervious wall of seclusion.

Knowledge, gained by our personal observation in 1857, enables us to state
distinctly that the late Professor Agassiz, a man strong in body, mind,
and will, (while arrangements were being made for himself and several
associate professors for an investigation of spirit manifestations at the
Albion in Boston,) demanded for himself at the very outset, and was
granted, exemption from obligation to sit in a circle. Through all the
sessions which followed he kept most of the time on his feet, walking
vigorously back and forth, and manifesting symptoms of great uneasiness.
We then had heard that he formerly had been mesmerized, and therefore
suspected that he feared that if he sat quietly down in the presence of
mediums, he "should have fits too." His own account of his experiences
under the hands of Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend we have given at length in
a recent work, published by Colby & Rich, Boston, entitled "Agassiz and
Spiritualism." We now gladly use what seems fitting occasion to state our
own belief, that his demand for personal exemption from compliance with a
rule which it was customary, fair, and important to enforce upon every
person present at a seance, and that his restlessness and disturbing
movements all sprung from a motive much more in harmony with the high
character and principles of that illustrious man, than are disparaging
ones which have often been ascribed to him. In our judgment,
_self-protection_ was his motive, and not design to disturb harmony, and
thus frustrate manifestations. His former experience had taught him that
even over his firm mental resistance another's mind had entered his body
and taken it out from under his own control; therefore he well might
apprehend that, if not very cautious, he again "might have fits," or might
become "a Saul among prophets."

We have already substantially said that the blinding, infuriating, and
bloodthirsty beliefs of former days are perhaps in no case more distinctly
and deplorably manifested than in the lawless, barbarous treatment to
which good Rebecca Nurse was subjected by a court and people who sought to
do, and believed that they were doing, acceptable service to God, or, at
least, offensive service to the devil. Spectral evidence against her, and
that alone, was allowed to outweigh the merits of a long and beneficent
life. The jury first brought her in _not_ guilty. This verdict, surprising
the court, induced it to express apprehension that the jurors had not
given due weight to certain expressions which the prisoner had uttered;
whereupon _the jury itself requested permission_ to retire and hold
further deliberation; and even such a privilege was granted them! They
retired, reversed their verdict, pronounced her _guilty_, and she was
sentenced to be hanged. Afterward the governor of the province granted her
reprieve; and yet he soon revoked his own clement act. Probably neither
jury, nor the governor, was convinced that she was guilty of the crime
charged; nevertheless, both were forced by popular demand to let the
reputation and life of this eminently good woman fall a sacrifice before
infatuation and frenzy which the erroneous creed of the times engendered.


a woman of strong character, good common sense, and capable of
comprehending both the dangers besetting any one then accused of
witchcraft, and also the purport and bearings of such questions as the
court was accustomed to ask, is presented in the following account.

    "The examination of Mary Easty, at a court held at Salem Village,
    April 22, 1692, by the Wop. John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.

    "At the bringing in of the accused, several fell into fits. 'Doth
    this woman hurt you?' Many mouths were stopt, and several other fits
    seized them. Abigail Williams said it was Goody Easty, and she had
    hurt her; the like said Mary Walcot and Ann Putnam. John Jackson said
    he saw her with Goody Hobbs.

    "'What do you say; are you guilty?' _Ans._ 'I can say before Jesus
    Christ I am free.' _Response._ 'You see these accuse you.' _Ans._
    'There is a God.'

    "'Hath she brought the book to you (the accusing girls)?' Their months
    were stopt.

    "'What have you done to these children?' _Ans._ 'I know nothing.'

    "'How can you say you know nothing, when you see these tormented and
    accuse you?' _Ans._ 'Would you have me accuse myself?' 'Yes, if you be
    guilty. How far have you complied with Satan whereby he takes this
    advantage of you?'

    "'Sir, I never complied: but prayed against him all my days. I have no
    compliance with Satan in this. What would you have me do?'

    "'Confess, if you be guilty.'

    "'I will say it, if it was my last time: I am clear of this sin.'

    "'Of what sin?'

    "'Of witchcraft.'

    "(To the children.) 'Are you certain this is the woman?'

    "Never a one could speak for fits.

    "By and by, Ann Putnam said that was the woman: it was like her; 'and
    she told me her name.'

    "(The court.) 'It is marvelous to me that you should sometimes think
    they are bewitched and sometimes not, when several confess that they
    have been guilty of bewitching them.'

    "'Well, sir, would you have me confess what I never knew?'

    "Her hands were clenched together, and then the hands of Mercy Lewis
    were clenched.

    "'Look: now your hands are open, her hands are open. Is this the

    "They made signs, but could not speak. But Ann Putnam, (and)
    afterwards Betty Hubbard, cried out, 'Oh, Goody Easty, Goody Easty,
    you are the woman!'

    "'Put up her head; for while her head is bound, the necks of these are

    "'What do you say to this?'

    "'Why, God will know.'

    "'Nay, God knows now.'

    "'I know he does.'

    "'What did you think of the actions of others before your sisters came
    out? Did you think it was witchcraft?'

    "'I cannot tell.'

    "'Why, do you not think it is witchcraft?'

    "'It is _an evil spirit_; but whether it be witchcraft I do not know.'

    "Several said she brought them the book, and then they fell into fits.

    "Salem Village, March 24, 169-1/2.

    "Mr. Samuel Parris, being desired to take in writing the examination
    of Mary Estie, hath delivered it as aforesaid.

    "'Upon hearing the aforesaid, and seeing what we did then see,
    together with the charge of the persons then present, we committed
    said Mary Easty to their Majesty's jail.

      "JOHN HATHORNE,   }
      "JONATHAN CORWIN, } _Assists_.'"

Among the records of examinations and trials for witchcraft in 1692 we
have met with none other more commendable in its apparent spirit on both
sides, and in its continuous decorum, than the above; none other, also,
which reveals more clearly extreme depth of public conviction that the
prevalent witchcraft creed was sound to the core, and belief that spectral
evidence alone might legally prove the crime charged. From aught that
appears, there was something pertaining to Mrs. Easty, probably her whole
general character and her intellect, which held back both court and
spectators from rudeness in treatment of her, and even frequently tied up
the tongues of the accusing girls. The spectacle presented by that
examination was most rare and wonderful. We feel, when reading the
records, that magistrates, populace, and the accusers, all--all longed for
her acquittal; that none desired to, because none did accuse her of
anything but having been seen as an apparition, and of being the cause of
the fits which the girls were enduring. The girls named her as the cause
of their fits, but seemingly with less alacrity than they did most others
in like circumstances. But sympathy and respect must yield before belief;
her fit-producing emanations at that day proved her to have covenanted to
serve the devil. Having done that, she was _witch_, and therefore must

Her clear head perceived that the sufferings of the girls must owe their
existence to some occult power outside of themselves, and ascribed it to
"an evil spirit." Such an origin, however, did not prove to her
satisfaction that the doings were witchcrafts, that is, acts performed
either at the instigation or by aid of some mortal who was in covenant
with the devil. She was enough in advance of her times to suspect that a
spirit might work upon and among men without having formed such connection
with a mortal ally as would prove one's operations to be witchcrafts. She
perceived that the girls were wrought upon by some spirit, and she deemed
it an evil one.

This noble woman was wife of Isaac Easty of Topsfield, fifty-eight years
old, and mother of seven children. After her conviction and sentence, and
when hope of escaping the dire penalty had fled, she addressed an
admirable letter to those then in power. The same inborn susceptibilities
which made her a victim may also have permitted a free influx of uplifting
power which raised her above narrow, selfish, and domestic views, and
prompted her, in moods generous and lofty, to appeal, in behalf of the
whole people of the land, for a stop in the course which the civil
authorities were pursuing. We judge the letter to be her own production,
and deem it indicative of good mental powers and of elevated philanthropy.

    "_The humble petition of Mary Easty unto His Excellency Sir William
    Phips, and to the honored Judge and Bench now sitting in judicature in
    Salem, and the reverend Ministers, humbly showeth_, That, whereas your
    poor and humble petitioner, being condemned to die, do humbly beg of
    you to take it into your judicious and pious consideration, that your
    poor and humble petitioner, knowing my own innocency, blessed be the
    Lord for it! and seeing plainly the wiles and subtilty of my accusers
    by myself, cannot but judge charitably of others that are going the
    same way of myself if the Lord steps not mightily in. I was confined a
    whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for, and
    then cleared by some of 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
    innocency then, and likewise does now, as at the great day will be
    known to men and angels. I petition 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, that if it be possible, no more _innocent blood_ may 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 innocency 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 no more
    innocent blood be shed! I would humbly beg of you that Your Honors
    would be pleased to examine these afflicted persons strictly, and keep
    them apart some time, and likewise to try some of these confessing
    witches; I being confident there is several of them has belied
    themselves and others, as will appear, if not in this world, I am sure
    in the world to come, whither I am now agoing. I question not but you
    will see an alteration in these things. They say, myself and others
    having made a league with the devil, we cannot confess.... The Lord
    above, who is the searcher of all hearts, knows, as I shall answer it
    at the tribunal seat, that I know not the least thing of witchcraft:
    therefore I cannot, I dare not belie my own soul. I beg Your Honors
    not to deny this my poor humble petition from a poor, dying, innocent
    person. And I question not but the Lord will give a blessing to your

Calef says, that, "when she took her last farewell of her husband,
children, and friends," she "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." We can readily credit
that account to its fullest possible import; for her deportment and
language, throughout all the scenes in which she is presented, bespeak a
strong, clear, discriminating intellect, a true and brave heart, elevated
and generous sentiments, firm faith in God, and broad charity toward man.
A most welcome child found entrance to some bright home above when her
tried spirit gained release from its mortal form.


The person bearing the above name was a widow residing in Amesbury, who
had been tried for witchcraft more than twenty years before, and therefore
obviously in 1692 was well along in life. Her answers in court, however,
bespeak a prompt, self-possessed, shrewd, and seemingly merry prisoner. A
few of her replies, together with the questions which elicited them, are
as follows:--

"Ann Putnam threw her glove at her in a fit. 'What do you laugh at?' said
the court. _Ans._ 'Well I may at such folly.'

"'Is this folly to see these so hurt?' 'I never hurt man, woman, or

"'What do you think ails them?' 'I do not desire to spend my judgment upon
it.' 'Do you think they are bewitched?' 'No; I do not think they are.'
'Well, tell us your thoughts about them.' 'My thoughts are mine own when
they are in; but when they are out they are another's.' 'Who do you think
is their master?' 'If they be dealing in the black art, you may know as
well as I.' 'How comes your appearance just now to hurt these?' 'How do I
know?' 'Are you not willing to tell the truth?' 'He that appeared in
Samuel's shape can appear in any one's shape.'"

One R. P., dated Salisbury, August 9, 1692, and forwarded to Jonathan
Corwin, a document ranking among the ablest on record against the legal
proceedings of that day, in which he says, "I suppose 'tis granted by all
that the person of one that is dead cannot appear, because the soul and
body are separated, and so the person is dissolved, and so ceaseth to be;
and it is certain that the person of the living cannot be in two places at
one time." That writer conceived that man's personality ceased at death;
therefore he logically inferred that the personality of the prophet Samuel
had gone out of existence, and said, "The witch of Endor raised the DEVIL,
in the likeness of Samuel, to tell Saul his fortune." We find in many
places the cropping out, in those days, of the same idea. Susanna Martin
indicated her belief that it was the devil who appeared to the woman of
Endor, and not the glorified Samuel. Premises deemed valid by some men in
1692, would, if applied in that direction, support the conclusion that the
Moses and Elias who appeared to Jesus and others on the mount of
transfiguration were nothing but the devil in the shapes of those old
prophets. Belief that the devil personated Samuel is to us no more
unphilosophical than is Upham's conclusion, that "by the immediate agency
of the Almighty the spirit of Samuel really arose." Paul taught that there
_is_--not that there is to be hereafter, that there is now--"a spiritual
_body_." All clairvoyants to-day can see such a body belonging to a human
form, and sometimes see it being far away from the form to which nature
attached it. Each human being now possesses both a natural or physical and
also a spiritual _form_. That position of R. P. and Susanna Martin was
unsound which held that the physical body was essential to personality.
Also, since the Almighty originally infused through nature, elements and
forces which admit of the return of spirits by natural processes, it is as
unphilosophical to hold that Samuel was raised by the immediate agency of
the Almighty, or miraculously, as it would be to ascribe an American
traveler's return home from Europe to the _immediate_ agency of the same
Being. Natural laws and forces permitted, under possible conditions, the
return of Samuel himself. Such conditions existed often in and around the
hospitable and sympathetic woman of Endor, who was no _witch_, in the now
common meaning of that word; who was not called such in the Bible,--but
only a person who had a _familiar_ spirit, that is, a spirit so constantly
present, and having such ability of communion with her, as made the
spirit seem to her like one of her family--her familiar. A spirit thus
attendant on a mortal may be either good, bad, or indifferent, and may be
cognized by those persons whose constitution and development are such that
their inner senses can report to their external consciousness. The
existing properties of that woman, which permitted some special spirit to
frequently dwell and commune intelligibly with her, and be cognizable by
her inner senses as a dweller in her household, as her familiar,--such
properties would enable her to perceive the form and hear the voice of
another spirit, who might be called to her presence for an urgent purpose,
as naturally as the outer eye which sees one external form is competent to
see another. Samuel, when wanted, came and was seen by the clairvoyant
woman, but not by the external eyes of either Saul or his attendants. The
case was very like what occurred at the first examination under an
accusation for witchcraft at Salem Village. Sarah Good then said, "None
here see the witches"--that is, none see spirits--"but the afflicted and
themselves,"--that is, none but the afflicted and the accused, of which
she was one. In other words, the actual doers of the marvelous works, the
spirits, are seen only by the accusers and the accused--the clairvoyants
here. It is true that in the more modern instance the spirits seen were
often, though not always, those of living persons. But this does not
affect the principles of explanation. Those persons who are so unfolded as
to see spirit-forms can sometimes see them, whether they be still attached
to the outer ones or be liberated. Spirits, both some who had been
entirely liberated from the flesh, and other flesh-clad ones whose
encasements were translucent, could be seen by members of the accusing
"circle," and by some others of like combinations, even when the court and
the mass of attendants upon it might fail to see anything of the kind. The
horses and chariots of fire were as clearly seen by Elisha on the hills of
Dothan, while his servant was blind to them, as they were after the young
man's inner eyes were opened so that he too saw the helping and protecting
hosts. The change was in the young man himself, and not up on the hills.
Departed spirits are where they feel our aspirations for their presence,
and the opening of our inner sight, at any time or in any place, might
render them visible.

Returning to Susanna Martin, we find that one William Brown, of Salisbury,
made deposition in 1692, "that, about one or two and thirty years ago, his
wife met Susanna in the road, who 'vanished away out of her sight,' ...
after which time the said Martin did many times appear to her at her
house, and did much trouble her.... When she did come, it was as birds
pecking her legs, or pricking her with the motion of their wings; and then
it would rise up into her stomach with pricking pain, as nails and pins,
of which she did bitterly complain.... After that it would up to her
throat in a bunch like a pullet's egg; and then she would turn back her
head and say, 'Witch, you shan't choke me.'"

Much more testimony was adduced to show that this woman's apparition was
very frequently seen; and not only seen, but was a source of exceeding
sufferings to many people. This argues nothing against her character, but
plainly hints that the relation of her inner to her outer form was such
that the former could be seen and felt by many persons who either
constitutionally or from sickness, or both, were very sensitive. Such
persons often saw her spirit-form, and suffered from its psychological
action. That peculiarity perhaps made her so luminous as to be observable,
and therefore accused, by "the circle," and the accusation brought her to
the gallows.


The faculties and manifestations which nearly two centuries ago were
deemed to constitute witchcraft, and the mode of eliciting proof of that
crime then, stand forth very conspicuously in the history of the wife and
children of Thomas Carrier of Andover.

    _The Examination of Martha Carrier, May 31, 1692._

    "_Q._ Abigail Williams, who hurts you? _A._ Goody Carrier of Andover.

    "_Q._ Elizabeth Hubbard, who hurts you? _A._ Goody Carrier.

    "_Q._ Susan Sheldon, who hurts you? _A._ Goody Carrier; she bites me,
    pinches me, and tells me she would cut my throat if I did not sign her
    book. Mary Walcott said she afflicted her, and brought the book to

    "_Q._ What do you say to this you are charged with? _A._ I have not
    done it. Susan Sheldon cried, she looks upon the black man. Ann Putnam
    complained of a pin stuck in her. _Q._ What black man is that? _A._ I
    know none. Mary Warren cried out she was pricked. _Q._ What black man
    did you see? _A._ I saw no black man but _your own presence_. _Q._
    Can you look upon these and not knock them down? _A._ They will
    dissemble if I look upon them. You see you look upon them and they
    fall down. _A._ It is false; the _devil is a liar_. I looked upon none
    since I came into the room. Susan Sheldon cried out _in a trance_, I
    wonder what could you murder thirteen persons! Mary Walcott testified
    the same: that there lay thirteen ghosts! All the afflicted fell into
    intolerable outcries and agonies. Elizabeth Hubbard and Ann Putnam
    testified the same: that she had killed thirteen at Andover. _A._ It
    is a shameful thing that you should mind these folks, who are out of
    their wits. _Q._ Do not you see them? _A._ If I do speak you will not
    believe me. You do see them, said the accusers. _A._ You lie; I am
    wronged. There is a black man whispering in her ear, said many of the
    afflicted. Mercy Lewis in a violent fit, was well, upon the
    examinant's grasping her arm. The tortures of the afflicted were so
    great that there was no enduring of it, so that she was ordered away,
    and to be bound hand and foot with all expedition; the afflicted in
    the mean while almost killed, to the great trouble of all spectators,
    magistrates, and others.

    "_Note._ As soon as she was well bound they all had strange and sudden
    ease. Mary Walcott told the magistrates, that this woman told her, she
    had been a witch this forty years."

The foregoing record shows the fearful ordeal to which any one might be
subjected upon whom an accusation of witchcraft fell, and the
hopelessness of escape where spectral evidence was admitted and held to
be reliable. Here was a woman who, it seems, had been conscious of spirit
presence with her for "forty years," and her constitutional properties
which permitted this were so luminous in the spiritual atmosphere, or
medium of vision by inner eyes, that the clairvoyant girls readily caught
sight of her, readily felt influences from her, and therefore accused her
of tormenting them.

The general character and deportment of this woman prior to her arrest may
not have won public approbation. When in presence of the magistrates she
was self-possessed and not lacking in boldness; for otherwise she would
not have told the judge that his own presence was the only black man she
had seen there. She told her examiners that it was shameful for them to
mind "these folks, who are out of their wits." She said to the girls, "You
lie; I am wronged." Her presence permitted extraordinary visions,
contortions, sufferings, and outcries, and probably emanations from her
were special helps to the unwonted outflow.

_In trance_, one saw thirteen dead bodies, and charged the accused with
having murdered them. It was _in trance_ that this was seen and said. If
_entranced_, was the girl, then, a voluntary seer and speaker? No.
Supermundane force was in action there. Entrancements and obsessions came
upon all those youthful accusers fitfully--and the forms of the girls
generally were tools operated by wills entering from outside. The tongue
of that entranced accuser, like Ann Cole's, probably was "improved to
utter thoughts that never were in her own mind."

Four of Mrs. Carrier's children were brought into court in company with
herself, either as accused ones or as witnesses against some members of
the family. "Before the trial," says Drake, "several of her own children
had frankly and fully confessed not only that they were witches
themselves, but that their mother had made them so." The artlessness and
simplicity of their _confessions_ render them not simply entertaining, but
more instructive than almost any other statements made at the examinations
and trials. Little Sarah was asked,--

"How long have you been a witch? _A._ Ever since I was six years old. How
old are you now? _A._ Near eight years old; brother Richard says I shall
be eight years old in November next.

"Who made you a witch? _A._ My mother; she made me set my hand to a book.
How did you set your hand to it? _A._ I touched it with my fingers; and
the book was red; the paper of it was white. She said she never had seen
the black man ... that her mother had baptized her, and the devil or black
man was not there, as she saw. Her mother said, when she baptized her,
'Thou art mine for ever and ever. Amen.'

"How did you afflict folks? _A._ I pinched them. She said she went to
those whom she afflicted--_went_, not in body, but in her spirit. She
would not own that she had ever been at the witch-meeting at the Village."

The _confessions_ (?) are beautiful and precious; they are robed in all
the appropriate naivete of any school-girl's _confession_ that herself was
a--_pupil_. Not a tinge of shame, sorrow, or humiliation is visible
anywhere about them. Not a sign appears, that, in little Sarah's
comprehension, there was anything more censurable, as in fact there was
not, in her being a witch, than there is in the child of to-day being a
Sunday school scholar. Disclosure of common occurrences at her home, which
inborn faculties there as naturally brought into view, as other faculties
there and elsewhere cause the limbs of childhood to expand and its
intellect to unfold, constituted her confession of the witchcraft that
pertained to her mother and herself.

The common mind, if not cautioned, will almost perforce attach meanings to
the testimonies of Martha Carrier's children which never belonged to them.
The detailings of facts and experiences not rare in that mediumistic
family, were no confession of anything like what the public in any age has
been accustomed to designate by the term witchcraft. In biblical times the
occurrences might have been called prophecies--true or false--and to-day
they would be regarded as spirit manifestations, or near kindred to such.

The little girl's _confessions_ are _precious_ as well as beautiful; they
are instructive comments upon the creed held by the adults of her day;
they give some support to the position that compact with some spirit was
an element in preparation for working marvels. Her mother baptized her,
and made her virtually sign a book, and then claimed her own child as hers
"for ever and ever, Amen." The little child herself seems to have regarded
this ratification of her mother's spirit claims upon her spirit as having
made herself a witch; but such a witch as she was not ashamed to be, and
saw no harm in being. Indeed, how can any other than perverted vision see
harm in the girl's filial compact? Her clairvoyant and other mediumistic
faculties had become so unfolded when she was about six years old, that
she and her mother, as freed spirits, could, in conscious companionship,
roam in spirit realms; and she, no doubt, felt that forces emanating from
the mother aided in her unfoldment, and continued to have much sway over
her in her mental journeyings and operations. She might with much
propriety say that her mother made her a witch. And her case shows that
the process for producing a witch might be much simpler and much less
horrifying than the public in her day had any conception of. Indeed,
witchification was then, and now is, a growth or unfoldment from God's
plantings much more than a manufacture by the devil's or any mother's
hands. She saw no devil, no black man--but only her own mother was
concerned in making her a witch; and the mother probably made her a witch
by processes as natural and legitimate as those by which she had
previously made her a child.

The girl's power for afflicting was mental; her journeyings and pinchings
were mental; and yet, no doubt, her grip was as sensibly felt by the
nerves of those whom she pinched as would have been firm graspings of
their flesh by her fingers of bones and muscles. It is the spirit only
which feels hurts of the body, and a pinched spirit imprints the hurt on
the flesh it is animating. This little girl's statements confirm Tituba's,
and give credibility to the many declarations of the accusing girls that
they were pinched, bitten, and tortured by persons whose outer forms were
remote from them at the time. We live amid mysteries which one by one are
getting revealed as time rolls on.

An instructive instance of the warping force of these prevalent beliefs in
shaping the diction of the most erudite describers of witchcraft facts, is
found in Lawson's summary of events, where, when commenting upon testimony
like that given by little Sarah, he says, "Several have _confessed_
against their own mother, that they were instruments to bring them into
_the devil's covenant_." But the girl's testimony mentioned a covenant
with her mother _alone_, saying that the devil was not there, as she saw.
It was Lawson, and not the girl, who brought the devil into this case.

The same writer further says, "Some girls of eight or nine years of age
did declare that after they were so betrayed by their mothers to the power
of _Satan_, they saw _the devil_ go in their _own shapes_ to afflict
others." But the statement of Sarah is, that she herself went forth and
afflicted in her spirit-form, and not that the _devil_ went in her shape.
The cultured of that generation had _devil on the brain_ so severely, that
they persistently brought him in even where the facts as presented by the
witnesses plainly excluded him.

Richard Carrier, eighteen years old, son of Thomas and Martha, was

"Have you been in the devil's snare?--Yes.

"Is your brother Andrew insnared by the devil's snare?--Yes.

"How long has your brother been a witch?--Near a month.

"How long have you been a witch?--Not long.

"Have you joined in afflicting the afflicted persons?--Yes.

"You helped to hurt Timothy Swan, did you?--Yes.

"How long have you been a witch?--About five weeks.

"Who was in company when you covenanted with the devil?--Mrs. Bradbury.

"Did she help you afflict?--Yes.

"Who was at the Village Meeting when you were there?--Goodwife How,
Goodwife Nurse, Goodwife Wildes, Proctor and his wife, Mrs. Bradbury, and
Corey's wife.

"What did they do there?--Eat, and drank wine.

"Was there a minister there?--No, not as I know of.

"From whence had you your wine?--From Salem, I think it was.

"Goodwife Oliver there?--Yes; I knew her."

Statements by this witness, and also his probable circumstances and
condition, seem worthy of special note. Frankness glows on all that he
said. He was stating facts, which, in his apprehension, were harmless, and
why should he not let them out? He knew, probably, that his mother had all
through his life been accustomed to see and act through other than her
physical organs, and was conscious that during the last five weeks at
least himself had been doing the same. The abilities came unsought into
action--were outgrowths from the natures of his mother and himself, and
were not crimes. His long familiarity with the ostensible workings of such
powers through his mother had shown him that they were neither diabolical
nor censurable; and why not admit possession of them, and the acts they
produced, whether through himself, his mother, or any one else? Neither
the mother nor children in that family were afraid of ghostly beings,
because able to confer with them intelligibly and sympathetically; and the
ready admission by Richard that he had aided in hurting Timothy Swan, and
been at a great witch-meeting, where they ate, and also drank wine, was no
confession of any crime, but simple statement of facts. He was a medium,
and also a frank and truthful witness.

He granted that he had been in the devil's snare. How much did this
import? He and his brother Andrew both had been caught in it--one about
four, and the other five, weeks prior to his statement. As certain
atmospheric and other physical conditions often produce epidemic or
wide-spread physical health or disease either, and certain public mental
and moral states often act powerfully upon many minds, the great public
excitement engendered by the arrest and prosecution of witches may well be
deemed adequate to have unfolded latent mediumistic susceptibilities very
widely; and it is not surprising that the children of a Martha Carrier
should have such susceptibilities suddenly brought to their own
cognizance, nor that they should as suddenly become well-fledged
clairvoyants competent to wing their way widely and rapidly in the airs of
a world in which spirits dwell; nor that they should be psychologized by
spirit beings, and made to take part in any work, malignant or benevolent,
which their controllers were bent upon executing. By being caught in the
devil's snare, they probably meant neither more nor less than that they
became mediums. All conditions like theirs the public was charging the
devil with producing, and the young Carriers assented to that being done
in their own case. Most things not of the earth, earthy, were then charged
to the devil; and the mental powers of these children were not competent
to show that their slippings out from their hampering bodies were effected
without his aid.

Frequent mention occurs of witch-meetings at Salem Village, on the Green,
or the minister's pasture, near Deacon Ingersoll's.

If any accused one had been seen in the company of assembled witches
there, the fact was excessively damaging. Richard Carrier acknowledged
having been there, and freely mentioned what persons were in the
assemblage--but did not see a minister.

The records have not led us to suppose that Mrs. Carrier ever stood very
high in public estimation. It is not improbable that influences from
outside of her had often, during the forty years through which she had
experienced them, made her life eccentric, and many of her actions
mysterious. Even the aged and charitable Francis Dane said, "That there
was a suspicion of goodwife Carrier among some of us before she was
apprehended, I know; as for any other persons, I had no suspicion of
them." We must infer from that statement that she was noted for some
peculiarities which were not universally regarded with favor; suspicions
hung around her.

She was accused by one of causing grievous sores in himself, of sickening
his cattle, and working many injuries; by others also of hurting and
bewitching them, and of having attended a witch-meeting. The accusing
girls, as seen above, were most excessively agonized when in court with
her. She may justly be regarded, we think, as being socially among the
lower class of persons then accused; and yet we have met with nothing
which will justify an inference that she was altogether unworthy of
esteem, or even that she was emphatically bad in any respect. Mather
called her _rampant hag_, and hence much of Christendom has been
influenced to contemplate her with aversion. But whatever may have been
her character, the sufferings of herself and family draw forth our

If she said she had been a witch forty years, she meant only that for
"forty years" she had been conscious of the ongoing of occult processes
within and around herself. We doubt whether she applied the word _witch_
to herself, but can readily believe that she confessed to such experiences
and performances as were in her day often called witchcrafts. That she
detailed some experiences to Mary Walcott, which the latter termed
witchcrafts, is highly probable. Neither the accused nor the accusers were
accustomed to speak of seeing the devil; but it was the black man, or some
other defined spirit,--not the devil,--according to their own statements.
Yet when recorders and reporters undertook to give us either the substance
of what was said, or a nearly verbatim report, they generally substituted
devil for black man, or for any other unseen occult operator, whatever
his, her, or its moral purpose or character. So, too, all specially
marvelous works were called witchcrafts.

The little Carrier children were very instructive witnesses. Too young and
inexperienced to do otherwise than answer simple questions directly in
such language as was common, they show us of to-day, better than do older
witnesses, what was probably common application of some terms of very
frequent use in descriptions of things marvelous. When by implication
charged with being themselves witches, their answers conceded the truth of
the charge. One of them, eight years old, said she had been a witch ever
since she was six. Another, eighteen years old, had been a witch about
five weeks, and said that brother Andrew had been such "near a month."
Little did these frank and no doubt truthful young confessors of family
and personal experiences deem that they were exposing themselves, and
their mother also, to punishment by death. What they confessed to were
frequent sights and sounds in their home, which came as naturally and
innocently before them as the visits and words of friends and neighbors.
Community called such matters witchcrafts, and why should not these
children do the same? Their mental powers were not expanded enough to even
entertain the slightest apprehension that what they were saying could
imply that they had made a compact with the devil, or that a simple, true
statement of their unsought experiences could bring harm to themselves or
any one else. Equally incompetent were such little ones to comprehend the
nature of that devil who existed in the conception of the magistrate when
he asked whether the devil had insnared the witness and brother Andrew.
They, no doubt, held the common notion that any worker whatsoever from
realms unseen by the external eye was the devil; and having had
experience--at least one of them had--that her own spirit had gone forth
from her body and pinched certain persons, she understood that she had
performed a part in works which were imputed to the devil. Still neither
of these children confessed, or could be "insnared" to own, that they had
seen _the devil_.

They, obviously, and their mother, we do not doubt, often as naturally and
innocently beheld spirit forms and scenes, and just as innocently held
converse with spirits, as they surveyed the scenes and forms of the outer
world, or went in company with embodied people to their congregations in
the meeting-house or elsewhere. The words of babes and sucklings, at a
witchcraft trial, revealed the existence of finer natural laws and forces,
and their operation also, upon and through some human beings, than science
then dreamed of, or is yet quite ready to recognize. Very much in
witchcraft times was charged to the devil which should have been credited
to God. The erroneous entry of many heavy items on the great
account-books, in the days of the fathers, calls for immense labor and
study for their proper and equitable adjustment now. Martha Carrier and
her children were probably posted on the wrong side of the moral Ledger
when Cotton Mather labeled her "Rampant Hag;" and there they have stood
ever since.


Having come to the last of the accused whose case our leading purpose
induces us to notice at much length, we present here a specimen of
indictment for the crime of witchcraft.


      Essex }  _Anno Regni Regis et Reginæ Willielmi et_
      ss.   }     _Mariæ. Nunc Angliæ, &c., quarto._

    "The jurors of our sovereign lord and lady, the king and queen,
    _present_--That George Burroughs, late of Falmouth, in the province of
    Massachusetts Bay, in New England, clerk, the 9th day of May, in the
    fourth year of the reign of our sovereign lord and lady, William and
    Mary, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland
    king and queen, defenders of the faith, &c., and divers other days and
    times, as well before as after, certain detestable arts, called
    witchcrafts and sorceries, wickedly and feloniously hath used,
    practiced, and exercised, at and within the township of Salem, in the
    county of Essex aforesaid, in, upon, and against one Mary Walcutt, of
    Salem Village, in the county of Essex, single woman; by which said
    wicked arts the said Mary Walcutt, the 9th day of May, in the fourth
    year abovesaid, and divers other days and times, as well before as
    after, was and is tortured, afflicted, pined, consumed, wasted, and
    tormented, against the peace of our sovereign lord and lady, the king
    and queen, and against the form of the statute in that case made and

                  MERCY LEWIS, ANN PUTNAM,
                  ELIZ. HUBBARD.

    "Indorsed by the grand jury, _Billa vera_."

Three other similar indictments accompanied the above, for witchcrafts
practiced by Burroughs upon Elizabeth Hubbard, Mercy Lewis, and Ann Putnam

S. P. Fowler, in the edition of "Salem Witchcraft" edited by him, says, on
page 278,--

"The trial of Rev. Geo. Burroughs appears to have attracted general notice
from the circumstance of his being a former clergyman in Salem Village,
and supposed to be a leader amongst witches."

Fowler adds, that--

"Dr. Cotton Mather says he was not present at any of the trials for
witchcraft; how he could keep away from that of Burroughs we cannot
imagine. His father, Dr. Increase Mather, informs us that he attended this
single trial, and says, 'Had I been one of George Burroughs's judges, I
could not have acquitted him, for several persons did upon oath testify
that they saw him do such things as no man that had not a devil to be his
familiar could perform.'

"Burroughs was apprehended in Wells, in Maine; so say his children. They
also inform us that he was buried by his friends, after the inhuman
treatment of his body from the hands of his executioners at Gallows Hill,
in Salem.

"He is represented as being a small, black-haired dark-complexioned man,
of quick passions and great strength. His power of muscle, which
discovered itself early when Burroughs was a member of Cambridge College,
and which we notice in the slight rebutting evidence offered by his
friends at his trial, convinces us that he lifted the gun, and the barrel
of molasses, by the power of his own well-strung muscles, and not by any
help from the devil, as was supposed by the Mathers, both father and son.
Alas, that a man's own strong arm should prove his ruin!"

We shall show shortly that this commentator here overlooked an important
point. Burroughs himself made statement, in his own defense, that an
Indian stood by and lifted the gun; therefore the chief question is not
whether Burroughs was himself strong enough to lift it as alleged, but
whether he told the truth when he said that he had help. The chief
question bears upon his veracity, not upon his strength. The Mathers
believed him on that point.

The allegations in the indictment were for witchcrafts invisibly practiced
upon members of the famous CIRCLE, and not for visible feats of strength.
All the girls testified to seeing and suffering from his apparition. Also
some who confessed to having been _witches_ themselves (for some accused
ones were over-persuaded to speak of their own clairvoyant observations
and experiences as witchcrafts, and therefore of themselves as
witches),--some such testified thus, as Mather says (p. 279, _Salem
Witchcraft_). "He was accused by eight of the confessing witches as being
head actor at some of their hellish rendezvous, and who had promise of
being a king in Satan's kingdom now going to be erected; he was accused by
nine persons for extraordinary liftings, ... and for other things, ...
until about thirty testimonies were brought in against him."

Mather's account of the witchcraft at Salem was drawn up at the request of
William Phips, then governor of the province; and two prominent judges at
the trials indorsed it as follows:--

    "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

    "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, Oct. 11, 1692.


Manifestation of one class of phenomena presented at those trials has not
been noticed in the preceding pages; viz., the appearance of the spirits
of particular departed ones to many of the accusing girls. It is obviously
true that those clairvoyants were very much oftener beholders of the
spirits of those still dwelling in mortal forms than of those who had
escaped from thralldom to the flesh. Still there were then some cases in
which the spirits of some who had been known in that vicinity, and whose
bodies were moldering beneath its soil, were both seen and heard. Among
others, two former wives of Burroughs were named. Mather says (p. 282),
"Several of the bewitched had given in their testimony that they had been
troubled with the apparitions of two women, who said they were G. B.'s two
wives; and that he had been the death of them.... Now, G. B. had been
infamous for the barbarous usage of his two successive wives, all the
country over. (p. 286.) ... 'Twas testified, that, keeping his two
successive wives in _a strange kind of slavery_, he would, when he came
home from abroad, pretend to tell the talk which any had with them; that
he has brought them to the point of death by his harsh dealings with his
wives, and then made people promise that, in case death should happen,
they would say nothing of it; that he used all means to make his wives
write, sign, seal, and swear to a covenant _never to reveal any of his
secrets_; that his wives had privately complained unto the neighbors about
_frightly apparitions_ of evil spirits, with which their house was
sometimes infested," &c.

Some of these allegations probably rested on firmer bases of facts than
have generally been perceived. Though we regard Burroughs as having been
one of the kindest and best of men, we do not entirely withhold credence
from the general import of such allegations regarding him. They point both
to extraordinary unfoldments within him, and to probable handlings and
control of his outer form at times by some intelligence not his own.
"_Strange kind of slavery_" would naturally result, in those days, from a
husband's telling his wife, on returning to his home, what conversation
she had held with others during his absence, _if his statements were
true_; but if not true, the wife would only laugh at his pretensions, and
make no complaints to neighbors. If both true and oft repeated, such
mysterious utterances might well enslave, worry, and bring close to
death's door a sensitive wife; and the husband, however affectionate and
kind, may at times have been as powerless to shape his course of procedure
as is the dried leaf when whirled onward by strong autumnal breezes. Acts
not his own the world would hold him responsible for; and no wonder that,
in his age, a spiritualistically unfolded, an illumined man, and one also
whose form might be moved, as was that of Agassiz, by will not his own,
should strive in all possible ways to prevent wives, and any other people
who knew them, from revealing any of his peculiar and marvelous _secrets_;
no wonder that he sought to make his wives "write, sign, seal, and swear"
never to do it; because the noising abroad of such powers as he possessed,
and such performances as were attendant upon him, if publicly known, would
be profaned, would destroy his usefulness, and endanger, if not take, his
life. Thanks that, in our day, danger of a hangman's rope does not
threaten one because of his high spiritual illumination.

George Burroughs was graduated at Harvard College in 1670; had been a
preacher for many years prior to 1692, and, during some of them,
ministered to the people at Salem Village. But before the outburst of
witchcraft there, he had found a home far off to the north-east, on the
shores of Casco Bay, in the Province of Maine, where he was then humbly
and quietly laboring in his profession, but not in impenetrable seclusion.
Clairvoyants are masters of both seclusion and space to a marvelous
extent. Throughout a region far, far around, wherever the special light
pertaining to the mediumistic or illuminated condition revealed its
possessor and put forth its attractions, there the opened inner vision of
the accusing girls might make them practically present. Emanations from
one residing at Falmouth or at Wells might readily meet and blend with
those from sensitives at their home in Salem. Thought flies fast and far.
With equal speed, and quite as far, can the unswathed inner perceptives of
an entranced or illumined mortal be attracted. Old memories and
undissolved psychological attachments may have operated in this case. One
of the accusing girls had lived for a time in the family of Burroughs
while he resided at the Village. Chains of association are never broken
and rendered forever unusable, though they often become exceedingly
attenuated, and cease to retain recognition in our ordinary conditions.
Several of the accusing girls alleged that Burroughs was one, and a
leading and authoritative one, in the band of apparitional beings from
whom their torments came. He was "cried out upon," arrested, tried,
condemned, and executed.

The opinions of different writers as to the real character and worth of
this man have been very diverse. While some have accounted him an
hypocritical wizard, others have deemed him a man of beautiful and
beneficent life. Mather regarded him with aversion, and says, "Glad should
I have been if I had never known the name of this man." Afterward the same
author charged Burroughs with "tergiversations, contradictions, and
falsehoods." Sullivan, in his History of Maine, says, that "he was a man
of bad character, and of a cruel disposition." Hutchinson asserted, on
insufficient grounds, that when under examination, "he was confounded, and
used many twistings and turnings." But Fowler says, "All the weight of
character enlisted against him fails to counteract the favorable
impression made by his Christian conduct during his imprisonment, and at
the time of his execution." Calef says, that, the day before execution,
Margaret Jacobs, who had testified against him, came to the prisoner,
acknowledging that she had belied him, and asking his forgiveness; "who
not only forgave her, but also _prayed with and for her_." The same
adducer of "_Facts_" states that, "when upon the ladder, he made a speech
for the clearing of his innocency, 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 (Burroughs) 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 somewhat appeased
the people, and the executions went on." His prayers, and his whole
deportment and spirit during these last trying scenes, indicate his
possession of a calm, strong soul, which bore him, on the wings of
innocence and piety, into a region of serenity which his traducers and
murderers were unfited to enter and knew not of. The brief account which
Upham's researches enabled him to furnish of this man's life prior to the
witchcraft mania presents still further evidences of his sterling worth.
That author says, "Papers on file in the State House prove that in the
District of Maine, where he lived and preached before and after his
settlement at the Village, he was regarded with confidence by his
neighbors, and looked up to as a friend and counselor.... He was
self-denying, generous, and public-spirited, laboring in humility and with
zeal in the midst of great privations." Land had been granted to him, and
when the town asked him to exchange a part of it for other lands, "he
freely gave it back, not desiring any land anywhere else, nor anything
else in consideration thereof."

Scanning Burroughs as well as accessible knowledge of him now permits, we
judge that he was a quiet, peaceful, persistent laborer for the good of
his fellow-men,--a humble, trustful, sincere servant of God,--a rare
embodiment of the prevailing perceptions, sentiments, virtues, and graces
which haloed the form of the Nazarene.

Why did the people of his time take his life? What were the accusations
against him? In addition to the testimony that he was felt by many of the
girls as a tormenting specter, he was accused of putting forth superhuman
physical strength. Cotton Mather says,--

"He was a very puny man, yet he had often done things beyond the strength
of a giant. A gun of about seven feet barrel, and so heavy that strong men
could not steadily hold it out with both hands, there were several
testimonies given in by persons of credit and honor, that he made nothing
of taking up such a gun behind the lock with one hand, and holding it out
like a pistol, at arm's end. In his vindication he was _foolish enough to
say that an Indian was there, and held it out at the same time_; whereas,
none of the spectators ever saw any such Indian; but they _supposed_ the
black man (as the witches call the devil, and they generally say he
resembles an Indian) might have given him that assistance."

That paragraph is very instructive. All subsequent historians, beginning
back with Calef, have mentioned, what is no doubt true, that Burroughs
was a small man, and yet was constitutionally very strong--was remarkable
for physical powers even in his college days; and they have fancied that
on that ground they have satisfactorily accounted for his marvelous
exploits; they seemingly overlook the fact that it was Burroughs himself,
and not other people, who said that "an Indian," invisible to others,
stood by and held the gun out. Historians have explained the good and true
man's seeming physical feats at the expense of his _veracity_. Heaven help
the innocent when in the hands of such traducing commentators. The
question is not what Burroughs could have done unaided, but it is whether
_he told truth_ when he said an Indian helped him. His whole character and
life argue that he would not have spoken as he is alleged to have done,
unless he had been conscious of the presence of an Indian within or by
himself, putting forth, in part at least, the strength which raised and
supported that heavy gun. He said that such was the fact. What though all
spectators failed to see the Indian? It was a disembodied Indian--a spirit
Indian--and therefore necessarily invisible by external eyes. The
non-perception of him by other men standing by is no evidence that the
spirit Indian was not there; for spiritual beings are discernible by the
inner or spirit optics alone, and not by the outer; so taught Paul.

The fact that bystanders supposed the devil helped Burroughs, or performed
the lifting feat through him, implies that they, as well as he, believed
that something more was done than mere human strength accomplished. In
the present day, when spirits are very often putting forth strength
through forms of flesh which executes performances quite as marvelous as
any which were alleged to have been enacted through Burroughs, his
assertion that a foreign, hidden intelligence worked within and through
his form, conjoined with the belief of beholders that some spiritual being
was operating therein, any array of facts now, proving, even to perfect
demonstration, that the little man was enormously strong, though it may
indicate that he did not require foreign aid to lift and hold out the gun,
does nothing toward impeaching his own veracity when he said he had help.
Surely one _can_ have help in the performance of what he could do alone.
If any man says he had help in a particular case, his ability to have
performed the special feat alone affords no indication that his statement
is untrue; and yet the spirit of witchcraft history implies that it does.

Prove Burroughs to have been constitutionally as strong as the strongest
mortal that ever lived,--yes, as strong as the strongest of all created
beings,--ay, as strong as the Omnipotent One himself, and even then you
have done nothing which shows or tends to show that another intelligent
worker may not have co-operated with him in the performance of marvelous
feats. We say again that the question raised by his statement is not
whether he, in and of himself, was competent to his seeming feats, but it
is whether an Indian spirit did or did not help him. Burroughs says he had
help from such a one. Bystanders supposed that the devil helped him; but
he who sensed the helper's presence called him an Indian; and he was a
much more trustworthy testifier as to that helper's proper classification
in the scale of being, than a combined world of men devoid of
spirit-vision, putting forth only their inferences regarding an unseen
personage. Imputation of this man's liftings to his constitutional
strength solely is an imputation of false testimony to the truthful man
himself, and historic arguments, if valid, make him a liar.

Who helped the little clergyman lift and hold the heavy gun? He says it
was "_an Indian_." But Mather says, "none of the spectators ever saw any
such Indian; but they _supposed the black man_ (as the witches call the
_devil_, and they generally say he _resembles an Indian_) might have given
him that assistance." That sentence illumines many a dark spot in our
ancient witchcraft. The witches, or clairvoyants, whether accusers or
accused, were not accustomed to speak of seeing _the devil_. It is fairly
questionable whether any one among them ever spoke of seeing _the devil_,
or of having any interview with _him_, or knowledge of _him_ obtained by
personal observation. It was _man_ whom they saw. They spoke of the black
_man_. Mather says that was their name for _the devil_. We doubt it. What
they saw failed to present a semblance of Cloven-foot, with horns, tail,
and hoofs, and did not suggest to them an idea of _the devil_. The
substitution of devil for black man, or the regarding the two as
synonymous, was Mather's work, and not that of the clairvoyants. And who
was _the black man_? Mather informs us that those whose optics could see
him "generally say he _resembles an Indian_." If he resembled an Indian,
is not the inference very fair that he was an Indian? Yes. "Black man"
obviously was applied by clairvoyants to designate any Indian spirit, and
spirits of human beings probably were the only spirits whom their inner
vision ever beheld. Thanks to you, Mather, for recording that explanatory
sentence. The devil you fought against was your brother man--was
earth-born--and when seen and conferred with not very formidable. Your
clairvoyants, or witches, saw and heard occult men, women, children,
beasts, and birds, but never spoke of seeing your ecclesiastical devil.
The human beings whom they beheld varied in size from little children to
tall men, and in complexion from black to white--even up to glorious
brightness. Your informants never used the word _devil_ in their
descriptions. You misreported them, as Cheever did Tituba; Calef followed
your lead, and subsequent historians have copied from both you and him.

You also state that Burroughs was "_foolish_ enough to say that an Indian"
helped him. Was it foolish in him to state the truth? Your own witnesses
en masse say his helper _resembled_ an Indian--he said the assistant _was_
an Indian. Why didn't you take the words of your own witnesses as
corroborative of the man's statement? They surely were so, and they give
us a true presentation of the case. The reason of your course is obvious;
the creed of your times deemed any spirit visitant or helper to be the
devil himself.

A subsequent charge against "G. B." (George Burroughs) was, that "when
they" (the accusing girls) "cried out of G. B. biting them, the print of
his teeth would be seen on the flesh of the complainers; and just such a
set of teeth as G. B.'s would then appear upon them." As in the case of
little Dorcas Good, here we have it charged that indentations on the flesh
of complainants corresponded to the size and shape of the teeth belonging
to the person who was accused of biting. If G. B.'s spirit-form or
apparition was made to approach and bite the accusers,--and it probably
was,--his spirit-teeth would naturally, and, as we apprehend, necessarily
have the exact size and form of his external ones.

Another charge is embraced in the following quotation:--

"His wives" (he had buried two) "had privately complained unto the
neighbors about frightly apparitions of evil spirits with which their
house was sometimes infested; and many such things had been whispered
among the neighborhood."

We have previously quoted but did not comment upon the above which relates
to the appearance of apparitions. That statement may as well indicate that
the wives themselves, or any other persons resident in his house, were the
attracting or helping instrumentalities for producing the "frightly"
sights, as that Burroughs himself was, provided only that some one or more
of them were mediumistic. But the probabilities are, that the elements
emanated from him which rendered such presentations practicable.

His telling the purport of talks held in the house during his absence
indicates that his inner ears were opened to catch either the spirit of
mundane sounds, or sounds made by spirits, as could those of Margaret
Jones, Ann Hibbins, Joan of Arc, and many others. The same power in him is
indicated in the following extract:--

"One Mr. Ruck, brother-in-law to this G. B., testified that G. B., and he
himself, and his sister, G. B.'s wife, going out for two or three miles to
gather strawberries, Ruck, with his sister, the wife of G. B., rode home
very softly" (slowly) "with G. B. on foot in their company. G. B. stepped
aside a little into the bushes. Whereupon they halted and hollowed for
him. He not answering, they went homewards with a quickened pace without
any expectation of seeing him in a considerable while. And yet, when they
were got near home, to their astonishment they found him on foot with
them, having a basket of strawberries. (Philip was found at Azotus.) G. B.
immediately then fell to chiding his wife on account of what she had been
speaking to her brother of him on the road. Which when they wondered at,
he said he _knew their thoughts_. Ruck, being startled at that, made some
reply, intimating that the devil himself did not know so far; but G. B.
answered, My God makes known your thoughts unto me."

True and luminous fact! The humble, pious, intelligent, illumined
Burroughs, far-looker into the realm of causes--an observer of things
behind the vail which bounds the reach of mortal senses and pure
reason--stated that _God_--not the devil--made known to him the thoughts
of other and absent people. In other words, his intended meaning probably
was, that God's worlds and laws provide for legitimate inflowings, to
some minds, of knowledge of the thoughts and purposes of other minds, even
though far distant in space. The character, or rather the actual qualities
of this man, if we read him correctly, were truthfulness, humility, and
piety. When such a one deliberately said to a brother-in-law, under such
circumstances as stated above, "_My God makes known your thoughts unto
me_," he indicated his consciousness of possessing self-experienced
knowledge of the existence of an instructive and momentous fact pertaining
to human capabilities. Only few persons, relatively, have had proof by
personal experience of the extent to which the inner perceptives of
embodied mortals may reach forth and imbibe knowledge by processes common
to freed spirits, and in the realms of their abode. What the unfoldings of
Burroughs permitted him to do and know is possible with many others while
resident in mortal forms. If he could, some others may, come into that
condition in which thought itself shall be heard speaking itself out to
them, in which they shall be listeners to "_cogitatio
loquens_"--self-speaking thought--which Swedenborg says abounds in spirit
spheres; in which thought from supernal fonts shall make itself known to
the consciousness of an embodied man, and become matter of knowledge with
him. Others, and more in number, may have the inner ear opened and hear
the words of spirits.

With ears competently attuned, the meek and truth-loving Burroughs was
occasionally able to receive not only knowledge of the thoughts of mortals
in ways unusual, but also, as we judge, to receive spiritual truths
copiously from purer fountains than his cotemporaries generally could get
access to; and he thence obtained such truths as relaxed in him many
credal bonds which firmly held most of his cotemporary preachers to the
creeds, forms, ordinances, and customs common in the churches then. Many
questions put to him at his trial were, obviously, designed to draw forth
evidence of his lax regard for and inattention to the accepted ordinances
of religion. He admitted both that it was long since he had sat at the
communion table, and that some of his own children had not been baptized.
We presume that he was inwardly, wisely, and beneficently prompted to walk
somewhat astray from the narrow and soul-cramping paths then trod by most
New England clergymen. The spirit of the Lord was giving him more liberty
than most of his cotemporaries felt privileged to exercise. Using his
greater facilities than theirs for instruction in heavenly things, he
probably advanced far beyond his brethren generally in sinking the
_letter_, that is, sinking the forms, and ceremonies, and ordinances of
religion beneath its divine spirit, and his less illumined brethren
suspected him of an abandonment of religion itself, and of alliance with
the great enemy of all goodness. Some among them apparently looked upon
him as a combined heretic and wizard, withheld all sympathy from, and
exulted over the doom of, this double culprit.

But this victim may have been, and probably was, as high above most of his
crucifiers as freedom is above bondage, as the spirit above the letter, as
light above darkness, as sincerity above hypocrisy. The blood of such as
Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Mary Easty, GEORGE BURROUGHS, and probably
many others who in company with these took their exit from life shrouded
in witchcraft's blackening mists, may go far toward making Gallows Hill a
Mount Calvary--a spot on which zeal urged on the worse to crucify their
betters in true godliness--betters in all that fits immortal souls for
gladdening welcome into realms above.


1648. MARGARET JONES manifested startling efficacy of hands and medicines,
consternating keenness of perceptives, predictions subsequently verified,
and the presence of a vanishing child. Such was her witchcraft; and for
this she was executed.

1656. ANN HIBBINS comprehended conversation between persons too distant
from her to be heard normally, ... and was hanged.

1662. ANN COLE had her form possessed and spoken through by either the
devil or other disembodied ones, and by them made both to express thoughts
that never were in her mind, and to further the conviction and execution
of the Greensmiths.

1671-2. ELIZABETH KNAP'S external form was strangely convulsed and
agonized by an old man, and also spoken through by one who called himself
a pretty black boy.

1680. WILLIAM MORSE, in his home, where lived his good wife, who had been
called a witch, saw pots, andirons, tools, and household furniture
generally, seem to take on wills of their own, and rudely play many a
lively gymnastic game.

1688. JOHN GOODWIN saw four of his children subjected and tortured
immediately subsequent to the scolding of one of them by a wild Irish
woman; and the same one afterward was made to play the deuce in Cotton
Mather's own house. Mrs. Glover was hanged for bewitching; and also she
_continued to torture the same children after her spirit had left its
outer form_.

The above cases occurred prior to the holding of "The Circle" at Salem,
before the establishment of a school at which the arts of "necromancy,
magic, and spiritualism" might be learned. Generally the performers named
thus far had no visible confederates. If sole actors, their geniuses were
vast, and the fonts of malice or of benevolence in some of them were both
very capacious and copiously overflowing.

1692. TITUBA, the slave, avowed having been forced by something like a
man, and his four female spectral aids, to pinch the two little girls in
her master's family at the very time when they were first mysteriously
afflicted. She furnished strong evidence that a tall man with white hair
and serge coat, invisibly to others, frequently visited her, compelled her
aid, and kindled and long kept adding fuel to the fires of witchcraft at
Salem Village. For this she was imprisoned thirteen months, and then sold
to pay her jail fees.

SARAH GOOD was seen as a specter, was accused of hurting by occult organs
and processes; became invisible by those standing guard over her;
announced to the magistrates the great explanatory fact that none but the
accusers and the accused, that is, none but clairvoyants, could see the
actual inflictors of the pains endured. Also she fore-sensed a fact that
occurred when Mr. Noyes died in an after year. She was hanged.

DORCAS GOOD, not five years old, was big enough to have her specter seen,
to have her spirit-teeth bite, and also to see clairvoyantly. The little
witch was sent to jail.

SARAH OSBURN was sighted by the inner optics of the accused, and she heard
voices from out the unseen. This feeble one was sent to jail, and soon
died there.

MARTHA COREY was charged with afflicting; also she avowed heresy
pertaining to witchcraft. Though interiorly illumined far beyond her
accusers and judges, and enabled to smile amid their frowns, she was

GILES COREY, seen as a specter, and accused of harming many, would make no
plea to his indictment. Pressure, applied for forcing out a plea, extorted
only his call for "More weight, more weight,"--and his life went out.

REBECCA NURSE, venerable matron, daughter of a mother who had been called
a witch, and conscious of personal liability to then prevalent fits, was
seen by, and accused of hurting, members of The Circle. Therefore she must
be hanged--though jury first acquitted, and then, under rebuke, called her
guilty; and though governor pardoned, and then revoked his clement act.
Fealty to witchcraft creed in that case triumphed, though nearly defeated

MARY EASTY, noble woman, sister of the above, and daughter of the same
witch-blooded mother, once arrested and discharged, and then re-arrested,
because seen by inner eyes and accused of bewitching, rose sublimely above
thoughts of self and dread of death, and appealed to the magistrates, in
clear, strong, and forceful language, to change their course of
procedure, to spare the innocent, and become wisely humane.

SUSANNA MARTIN, spectrally seen, and a reputed witch during more than a
score of years, bravely faced the dangers besetting an accused one, was
self-possessed before the magistrates, was spicy, shrewd, and keen in her
answers to their questions, but failed to descend to confession, and died
on Gallows Hill.

MARTHA CARRIER, having been a clear seer for forty years, and long visible
by others similarly unfolded, was brave, self-possessed, and ready with
pointed retort. Because hard to subdue, accusations came thick and heavy
upon her from "The Circle" almost _en masse_, and she too was doomed to
mount the ladder.

SARAH CARRIER, daughter of the above, eight years old, stated instructive
facts in her experience as a clairvoyant, and notably said that her own
_spirit_ could go forth to others and hurt them; also that her mother's
was the only spirit with which she entered into the compact that made her
a witch.

REV. GEORGE BURROUGHS, sometimes supernally strong physically, because, as
himself asserted, an Indian, invisible by others, helped him; able, by
God's help as he claimed, to read his brother's thoughts; A freer and less
formal religionist than most clergymen of his day, because of his high
spiritual illumination; a humble but beneficent Christian--was, like his
exemplar, made to yield up life at the call of such as cried, "Crucify
him! crucify him!" If he was luminous, and spoke like an angel of light in
the hour of his departure, he was not Satan transformed, but George
Burroughs unvailing his genuine self.

1693. MARGARET RULE, the first of afflicted ones noticed in our pages,
endured her strange experiences last. The evening before her fits came on
she had been bitterly treated and threatened by an old woman whose curings
of hurts had put her under suspicions of witchcrafts. Margaret was not a
graduate from the Salem school, but was self-taught, if taught at all; and
yet she saw many specters--saw, in the night, a young man in danger of
drowning who was miles away from her; was lifted from her bed to the
ceiling above in horizontal position by invisible beings; fasted nine days
without pining; and saw and heard one bright and glorious visitant who
comforted and heartened her much. She under the special watch and care of
Cotton Mather, was held back, mainly perhaps by his advice, from any
divulgences which should endanger the lives of others. No blood was shed
because of her afflictions.

Twenty persons were put to death in Essex County, by the direct action of
government officials, between June 9 and September 23, 1692. Nearly or
quite two hundred were accused, arrested, imprisoned, and many more than
the executed twenty were convicted. Numerous arrested ones perished under
the hardships of prison life and gnawings of mental anxieties. Others had
health, spirits, domestic ties, and worldly possessions shattered to
pieces, and the condition of their subsequent lives made most forlorn and
wretched. Neither tongue nor pen can possibly tell their tale in its
fullness of horrors. Most excessively frenzying and woeful must have been
the privations, sufferings, heart-wrenchings, agonies of nearly all the
scattered residents of the then wooded region at and round about Salem
Village, when Christendom's mighty and malignant witchcraft devil was
believed to be prowling and fiercely slaughtering in their midst. No
blood, nor any other mark, on the door-posts would effectually warn the
fell destroyer to pass by and leave the occupants within unscathed.
Mysterious and fearful dangers flocked above, below, around, before, and
behind: they lurked here, there, and everywhere continually, so that none
could ever be at ease.

And now we ask, whether common sense admits that such credulity and
infatuation ever pervaded any hardy, energetic, and intelligent community,
in any county of Massachusetts or New England, in any age, as that girls
and old women, aided by a very few insignificant men, however bright,
cunning, roguish, playful, self-conceited, greedy of notice, or resentful
and malicious the leaders might be, could possibly so perform as to induce
Rev. Mr. Whiting, Samuel Willard, William Morse, Cotton Mather, Deodat
Lawson, Samuel Parris, Rev. Mr. Hale, and scores upon scores of other
intelligent, sagacious, and leading men, to present to the public, in
writing, such narratives as they did, and to essentially vouch for their
own belief in the positive occurrence of such "amazing feats" as they
described? We ask also, whether such frail enactors as a band of mere
girls and a few women must have been, could possibly devise and manifest
such tricks, and put forth such accusations, from any motives whatsoever,
as would cause the leading minds throughout a large section of the state
to regard the accused ones as allies of beings rising up from regions of
darkness, and making malignant and most baneful onslaught upon the
children of God and Christ, and upon the families and possessions of men,
in such numbers and with such force, that the civil power of the land was
urged and helped to put the gallows in use upon every one whose specter
was said to be seen and to torment? The amazing feats are well attested.
The more amazing deviltries both of the accusers and of courts and
executives, no one can doubt, if all the feats were offspring of mere
juvenile and senile cunning, fraud, and malice.

In the cases of Margaret Jones, Ann Cole, Elizabeth Knap, John Stiles, and
Martha Goodwin each, there is distinct mention of the presence, the
speech, or the action of some spirit. We found Tituba distinctly stating
that she saw, heard, and was made to help a nocturnal visitant whose
doings indicate that he was the originator of the vast Salem Tragedy: that
visitant was a spirit. Mr. Burroughs said, in explanation of his feats of
strength, that an Indian, invisible by others, was his helper. Margaret
Rule, as had Mercy Lewis the year before, saw, and each was infilled with
bliss by, a most glorious bright spirit. In our own day, in every city,
town, and hamlet of our land, as well as on the opposite shore of the
Atlantic, spirits are widely recognized as the authors of performances
alike strange and amazing in themselves, as those described in the
seventeenth century, which are there called witchcrafts. The primitive
records of American witchcrafts show that portions of it, and especially
that Salem witchcraft feats, were devised in supermundane brains, and
enacted under their supervision.


When persons arraigned for specific offences plead guilty, their pleas
generally are deemed conclusive evidence that the accused have performed
the special deeds set forth in the allegations. Many of the accused in
witchcraft times made statements which have ever since been called
_confessions_. Inference from that has long been general and wide-spread,
that nearly such witchcraft as the creed of our fathers specified had
positive manifestation in their day. But we seriously doubt whether any
record of statements made by an accused one exhibits distinct admission
that he or she had entered into covenant with that devil which one must
have been in league with to become such a witch or wizard as the laws
against witchcraft were intended to arrest.

Such confessions as were recorded may have been true in the main, but they
fall short of confessions of the special crime alleged; they amount to
little, if anything, more than admissions and statements that the
confessors had seen, been influenced by, and had acted in company with
apparitions or spirits all of whom were of earthly origin, and were
members of the _human_ family; they confessed only to being, or to having
been at times, clairvoyants.

The circumstances under which even such confessions were generally made,
need to be carefully viewed before just estimate can be placed upon the
worth and significance of the recorded statements.

Hutchinson supposed that "those who were condemned and not executed, all
confessed their guilt," ... and that "the most effectual way to prevent an
accusation" (of one's self) "was to become an accuser."
Strange--strange--and yet obviously true. An accused one, then, could look
for escape from death--the legal penalty of witchcraft--only by pleading
guilty to the charge. Confession of guilt, and nothing else, then,
purchased exemption from capital punishment. This becoming obvious, all
natural instincts for preservation of one's life, and all possible
entreaties, urgings, and commands of friends and relatives, forcibly
tended to extort confession even from the innocent. Husband or wife,
children, parents, brothers, sisters, and trusted advisers, often all
conspired in urging an accused one to plead guilty--yes, even a condemned
one, for that plea was as efficacious after conviction and sentence as
before. It is said that many did confess. Confessed to what? Never to
having made a covenant with the great witchcraft devil nor any formidable
imp of his, but generally to clairvoyant visions, to mental meetings with
the specters of friends, neighbors, and other embodied mortals, and to
some compacts and co-operative labors with such personages,--_never with
the devil_. They did not confess to witchcraft itself _as then defined_.
The clear-headed Mary Easty besought the magistrates "to try some of the
confessing witches, I being confident there is several of them has belied
themselves and others." Her clear and calm brain perceived the broad
distinction existing between clairvoyance and witchcraft. So, too, did
Martha and Giles Corey, Jacobs, Proctor, Susanna Martin, George Burroughs,
and others; these, and such as these, did not confess, while many weaker
and more ignorant ones did.

Little Sarah Carrier, only eight years old, whose testimony we adduced in
part, when presenting the case of her mother, throws much light upon some
_confessions_ of that day. _Simon Willard_, who wrote out and attested to
"the substance" of her statements, heads his record, "Sarah Carrier's
_Confession_, August 11th." The girl's confession? No; it was simply a
frank statement of facts in her own experience, which lets us know that
when she was about six years old her own mother made her a witch, and
baptized her. But "the devil, or black man, was not there, as she saw,"
when she was made a witch. She afflicted folks by pinching them; went to
those whom she afflicted; but went only "_in her spirit_." Her mother was
the only devil who bewitched her, and the only being whom her baptism
bound her to serve. Such was her witchcraft. That plain statement is
refreshing and valuable. It shows that when about six years old this
mediumistic girl had become so developed that her spirit could commune
with her mother's, independently of their bodies. She then became a
conscious clairvoyant, and could trace felt influences, issuing from her
mother, back to their source. Thenceforth mother and daughter could
conjointly place themselves on the green at Salem Village, ten miles off,
or in any pasture or any house whither thought might lead them. The
mother's stronger mind had but to wish, and the child must go with her
and do her bidding; and when the two were in rapport, any stronger spirit
controlling the mother could make the child co-operative in pinchings or
any other inflictions of pains. Because the little girl had set her hand
to a red book presented by her own mother, and thus, by implication, bound
herself to be obedient to that mother, her statement of the fact was
labeled _a confession_ of witchcraft, and deemed damaging to her mother.
Three or four other children of Mrs. Carrier were able to sense spirit
scenes. Her home was a domestic school of prophets, and her own children
were apt pupils in it. Her moral character and influence do not here
concern us.

Abigail Faulkner was condemned, and two of her children, "Dorothy ten, and
Abigail eight years old, testified that their mother appeared and made
them witches." That mother was daughter of Rev. Francis Dane of Andover,
some of whose other children and grandchildren were accused, which
suggests, though it fails to prove, that much medianimic susceptibility
was imparted through either him or his wife, or both, to their offspring.
His descendants attracted the notice of clairvoyants. Hutchinson states
that Mr. Dane himself "is _tenderly_ touched in several of the
examinations, which" (the tenderness?) "might be owing to a fair
character; and he may be one of the persons accused who" (the accusation
of whom) "caused a discouragement to further prosecutions." "He," being
then "near fourscore, seems to have been in danger." Internal luminosity
and copious radiations from their interior forms probably rendered Rev.
Mr. Dane, Rev. Samuel Willard, Mrs. Hale, wife of the minister at Beverly,
Mrs. Phips, wife of the governor, and many others of high character or
standing, visible by mediumistic optics, and presentible apparitionally
where spirits were wont to congregate, consult and manipulate instruments
for acting out--not for learning--the "wonders of necromancy, magic, and

Witch meetings, as they were called, or congregated spirits or apparitions
on the green, or in the pasture of the minister at Salem Village, are
mentioned more frequently and with more particularity and concordant
specifications, than would naturally be looked for if they had no basis on
fact. That Spirits in vast crowds have more than once been seen in modern
times by a seer looking up from High Rock in Lynn, can be learned by
perusal of A. J. Davis's visions there. But he was the observer of
departed ones only, while the apparent personages at witch meetings of old
were partly either the spirits of embodied persons or their apparitions.
The fact of apparitions being present thereat in those days proved the
persons themselves apparitionally seen to be the devil's allies. Some
confessors of witchcraft intended to verify the truth of their statements
by describing whom they had seen, and what they had observed at such
meetings. And it is not without interest that some people now read
confessions like the following from Ann Foster of Andover, viz.: "That she
was at the meeting of the witches at Salem Village when about twenty-five
were present; that Goody Carrier came and told her of the meeting and
would have her go, and so they got upon sticks and went the said journey,
and being there did see Mr. Burroughs the minister, who spake to them
all;... that they were presently at the Village," when they rode on the
"stick or pole"; and that she heard some of the witches say that there
were three hundred and five in the whole country, and that they would ruin
that place--the Village. Also that there was present at that meeting two
men besides Mr. Burroughs, the minister, and _one of them had gray hair_.

Not without interest are such things read, because they prompt to
fancyings of things possible in an unseen sphere which hangs over and
enfolds all mortals. Could Ann Foster's gray-haired man have been Tituba's
white-haired visitant--the originator and enactor of Salem witchcraft? Who
knows? Could not he and such as he have searched out and numbered many
persons in the land who were adapted to be facile instruments for his use,
and found three hundred and five in all? Had not his will power to call
instantly together, that is, to arrest and concentrate the attention of as
many of them as were at the moment impressible by him, either directly or
through other plastic mortals, from any part of the region between the
Penobscot and the Hudson, or even further, and thus collect a band, that
is, arrest and fix the attention, of twenty-five of them, more or less, to
whom inklings of his plans for the future might be given, and whose
relative rank, efficiency, or importance could be foreshadowed? Through
either unconscious apparitions or conscious spirits of mortals, or of both
classes commingled, might he not enact scenes which it pleased him to
have certain witnesses behold, and to proclaim, so far as he judged best,
his purposes, his doctrines, or aught else it should be his pleasure to
divulge or enforce? Possibly. Those witch meetings may have been much more
than mere fictions.

We will look now at other and quite different confessions, or rather at
what reputed confessors afterward said in explanation and defense of their
own admissions. Six well-esteemed women of Andover conjointly subscribed
to the following account:--

    "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 surprisal, we, knowing ourselves innocent of the crime, 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,
    apprehended there was no other way to save our lives, as the case was
    then circumstanced, but by our confessing ourselves to be such and
    such persons as the afflicted represented us to be: they" (our
    friends), "out of tenderness and pity, persuaded us to confess what we
    did confess. And indeed that confession, that it is said we made, was
    no other than what was suggested to us by gentlemen, they telling us
    that we were witches, and they knew it and we knew it, which made us
    think that it was so; and our understandings, our reason, our
    faculties almost gone, we were not capable of judging of our
    condition; as also the hard measures they took 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. Some time after, when we were better
    composed, they telling us what we had confessed, we did profess that
    we were innocent and ignorant of such things....


That document no doubt describes very accurately the mental condition and
pressing circumstances under which a very large number of the confessions
were made. There existed some cases, however, which differed from the
above. Samuel Wardwell, represented in some accounts as insane, confessed,
and afterward recalled his confession, and was executed. Margaret Jacobs,
perhaps under pressure and bewilderment as great as those attendant upon
the Andover women, made confession, in which she accused both her
grandfather and Mr. Burroughs; but compunctions of conscience forthwith
came over her, and she most fully and humbly recalled her confession,
choosing rather to die on the gallows than not to confess and repent
before the God of truth.


One more case--not of an accused one, but of a chief accuser, Ann Putnam,
the younger--merits careful attention. She was only twelve years old in
1692; but was the eldest child in a family of at least nine children, both
of whose parents died while they were all young; and this eldest continued
to live at the homestead, caring for the younger ones, during many years.
In August, 1706, fourteen years subsequent to the scenes in which she was
eminently conspicuous, she made the following confession before the
church, and thereupon was admitted to membership in it.

    "The confession of Anne Putnam, when she was received to communion,

    "I desire to be humble before God for that sad and humbling providence
    that befell my father's family in the year about '92; that I, then
    being in my childhood, should by such a providence of God _be made an
    instrument_ for the accusing of several persons of a grievous crime,
    whereby their lives were taken away from them, whom now I have just
    grounds and good reason to believe were innocent persons; and that it
    was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time;
    whereby I justly fear I have been instrumental, with others, _though
    ignorantly and unwillingly_, to bring upon myself and this land the
    guilt of innocent blood. Though what was said or done by me against
    any person I can truly and uprightly say, before God and man, I did it
    _not out of any anger, malice, or ill-will to any person_, for I had
    no such thing against one of them; but what I did was ignorantly,
    being deluded by Satan. And particularly as I was a chief _instrument_
    of accusing Goodwife Nurse and her two sisters, I desire to lie in the
    dust, and to be humbled for it, in that I was a cause, with others, of
    so sad a calamity to them and their families; for which cause I desire
    to lie in the dust, and earnestly beg forgiveness of God, and from all
    those unto whom I have given just cause of sorrow and offense, whose
    relations were taken away or accused.

      (Signed)      ANNE PUTNAM.

    "This confession was read before the congregation, together with her
    relation, August 25, 1706; and she acknowledged it.

      "J. GREEN, _Pastor_."

In that confession she speaks very pointedly of herself as having been
used as an _instrument_. Any mortal may perhaps properly do so in relation
to each and every act performed. But her history induces inquiry whether
Ann was not very strictly an instrument; whether her own will, or whether
some other intelligent being's will, used her lips when they put forth
accusations of witchcraft. The latter may have been possible; for once,
while we were in conversation with a lady who applied disparaging remarks
to particular gentleman who was a prominent medium, we, in reply,
expressed our belief that the doings which annoyed her were not the man's
voluntary acts, and also that his consciousness that such deeds were
alleged by truthful and trustworthy persons to have actually been
performed through his physical organism made the acts even more grievous
to him than to any one of his acquaintances. She doubted, while we
maintained, the possibility of one's mortal form being thus subjected to a
will outside of itself. Not many minutes had elapsed--not much argument
having been presented on either side--before her own lips were set in use
for putting forth a warm defense of Victoria C. Woodhull, a person upon
whom our colloquist looked, and of whom she was accustomed to speak, with
very decided disapprobation. She was a conscious listener to the words
that rolled from her own lips, and experience taught her that our defense
of the censured man might be admissible; for, in spite of herself, her own
lips were made to bless whom her sentiments were inclining her to curse.
Baalam _could_ not curse whom his Lord did not. That lady is a _conscious_
medium--conscious that her physical organs, without her consent, and in
spite of her resistance, are sometimes temporarily borrowed and used by an
intelligence outside of herself. As such she is representative of many
others. Of course, in these days, she is so informed as to see that
actions and words of spirits are imputed to her as being her own because
performed by use of her organs, while they are, in fact, no more hers than
are the acts and utterances of her neighbors. But we doubt much whether
any one in 1692 or 1706 had attained to knowledge that some human forms
could be thus filchable and usable; no ground had then been discovered on
which one could stand and credibly say, "Though my own lips spake thus and
so, another's will put forth the utterances in spite of me." Firm ground
for that has now been found; it is not a new formation, but existed,
though then unknown, in 1692. Ann Putnam's form may have been used by
another's will in each and all of her imputed accusations for witchcraft,
and she, as far as then concerned, have been absolutely a will-less

There are other classes of mediums. We call to mind at this instant four
ladies, all of them respectable and excellent, whom we know and have known
for years, whose lips often give utterance to facts, opinions, and beliefs
while the ladies are absolutely unconscious; and sayings then which seem
to be theirs are often wide at variance with what either their knowledge
or their sense of right and truth would permit their own wills to
announce. These are _unconscious_ mediums; not responsible for, because
absolutely ignorant of, what their physical forms are being made to say
and do. These persons are representatives of a large class of good

One phrase in Ann Putnam's confession indicates to us that she probably
belonged to the mediumistic class here presented. She had been, years
before, as she says, an _instrument_ not only ignorant, but _unwitting_.
In childhood, Ann was brightest among the bright; and, in the absence of
evidence to the contrary, it is fair to presume that when reaching the age
of twenty-six she was an intelligent woman, capable of knowing the fair
import of any statements to which she gave deliberate and solemn assent.
We apprehend that her confession was drawn up very carefully, and in
consultation with her intelligent and excellent pastor, Rev. Mr. Green;
also that every word of it was carefully weighed. She seems then to have
been stretching forth a hand soliciting acceptance and friendly grasp by
representatives of some whose blood had been shed because of accusations
from her lips; and we feel forced to presume that then she was in mental
and affectional moods which would make it her duty and her choice to take
upon herself all the blame for her share in the witchcraft transactions
which facts and truth could possibly permit. Her confession is special. It
all pertains to her _instrumental_ share in accusing innocent persons of
what was then deemed grievous crime, and thus in bringing them to death
upon the gallows. Her declaration is as distinct as words can make it,
that the doings through her were "not out of any anger, malice, or
ill-will to any person" on her part; and this renders Upham's supposition,
that family, neighborhood, and sectional quarrels, disputes, rivalries,
&c., were motives in her, very improbable.

Also her statement is very distinct, that whatever she did in that respect
was done, so far as she was concerned, both "_ignorantly_ and
_unwittingly_." We are aware that those two words are sometimes used
synonymously, or very nearly so. But when the first occurs in a carefully
constructed sentence, the other, if added, should be deemed to have been
inserted for the special purpose of expressing something beyond what the
first usually imports. The whole had not been told when she had said she
acted ignorantly. To express the remainder, she added--_unwittingly_. When
that word was thus applied, she cannot fairly be supposed to have meant
less than that she acted _unknowingly_--that is, without either knowledge
or consciousness that she did thus act. An _unwitting_ instrument--an
instrument not knowing that it was being used--enfolds within itself a
silent but most potent plea for the world's lenient regards. When
consciousness has taken no cognizance of acts performed by the tongue or
the hand,--when memory can find no record of them, compunction cannot gnaw
deeply, nor conscience be a stern accuser. Often conscience may be at
peace, and God may approve, where man blames. Testimony from without may
force mental conviction that one's lips and limbs must have been used in
doing excessive harm, though consciousness of the fact be entirely
wanting. Conviction even thus generated will naturally and almost
necessarily create apprehension that the world is regarding the owner of
those lips and limbs as having been guilty of very great crimes. That
apprehension may create sadness over all one's subsequent days. Public
opinion bridles the tongue then; for a denial of guilt, however honest
and true, can receive no credence where external senses have perceived
knowledge to the contrary. Ann's relations to society may necessarily have
been saddening during many years, even though she of herself had done
nothing offensive either to her own conscience or to God.

Imagination can scarcely picture the sadness which must have come upon the
accusing girls when, a year or two later, public opinion and favor, which
at first buoyed them up and favored such use of their organisms as has
been depicted, began to turn against them and to brand them as murderers
of the innocent and good. We have no means to trace many of them through
their subsequent years. Could we do it, we should expect to find them
weighed down, depressed, and made forlorn by the great change of
estimation in which the doings were afterward held, in which they had
appeared to be prominent and most disastrous actors. Few of them probably
had inherent stamina enough to enable them to stand erect, and move about
firmly poised, under the burdens of obloquy, pity, hatred, resentment,
&c., which the wounded hearts of the families of murdered ones would lay
upon these seeming authors of their losses.

It is pleasant to find that the sensitive and bright Ann Putnam, as
prominent as any one in the band of accusers, survived such pressure,
continued long to care for her orphaned little brothers and sisters, and,
after the first and most crushing effects of the change in public opinion
had been endured for a dozen years or more, held out her hand in friendly
beckoning to those who had most seeming cause to blame her, and who
perhaps in turn had imposed her heaviest burdens, and seeking to thus open
the way for her unopposed admission to the church, and to fellowship with
the kindred and friends of those whom her tongue had been used to defame
and bring to ignominious death. Her life experiences were hard, but
perhaps fruitful of good to man beyond what words can express. Possibly it
is her blessed privilege now to see that her form was used as an
_instrument_ for effecting Christendom's emancipation from monstrous
error, and putting an effectual stop to executions for witchcraft


The first warrants for arrest for witchcraft at Salem were issued on
February 29, 1692, on complaint preferred by Joseph Hutchinson, Thomas
Putnam, Edward Putnam, and Thomas Preston, that Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn,
and Tituba had by witchcraft, within the last two months, done harm to
Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams, Anne Putnam, and Elizabeth Hubbard.

Complaint of Martha Corey was made by Edward Putnam and Henry Keney, March

Edward Putnam and Jonathan Putnam complained of Rebecca Nurse; and

Jonathan Walcott and Nathaniel Ingersoll, against Elizabeth Proctor.

Perusal of the records shows that very many of the most intelligent,
influential, highly respected, and trusted men of the Village were
complainants; and shows also that, as early as February 29, when the first
complaint was entered, there were four afflicted ones: two in the family
of Mr. Parris; one in that of Thomas Putnam, living more than two miles
north from the parsonage; and one in that of Dr. Griggs, dwelling more
than two miles east from the same. Thus much had the trouble spread before
the law was invoked to aid in its suppression. The homes of the minister,
the doctor, and the parish clerk--a capable and good-one, too--were the
first invaded. Not mean abodes housed, nor low-lived people cared for the
first afflicted ones. Men of the highest standing there were leaders off
in the impending conflict with the devil. Two were most prominently and
persistently active, viz., Thomas Putnam and Mr. Parris. And why? If any
people then and there knew what the emergency required, these two would be
among them: none were more competent than they to perceive and perform the
duties of such an hour. They, too, and theirs were the chief sufferers. No
other active men there had motives pressing as theirs to work for prompt
relief in their households; and we will notice these two as
representatives of the prosecutors.

Thomas Putnam deservedly held high position among the inhabitants there,
and possessed the esteem, respect, and confidence of the whole community
around him. How came it that this very intelligent, influential, and
useful citizen, then a little more than forty years old and in the full
vigor of manhood, was prominent among the foremost and most pertinacious
prosecutors? Why was such a one an enterer of complaints against
neighbors, whether high or low, good or bad? Our response is, that in his
home a loved and loving wife, cultured, refined, and of acute
sensibilities,--a daughter, twelve years old, bright and charming,--and
also Mercy Lewis, a young domestic, were all so mysteriously tortured at
times, that no doubt existed in a mind which comprehended the creed of
that day, that the devil was author of the abnormal torments. That enemy
must be getting access to these innocent and loved ones, the creed said,
through some neighbors--at least some living mortals--who had made
covenants with the Evil One, and thus become his agents. Imbued and bound
by the creed of his day, this husband and father could cherish no
expectation that his wife and child could be shielded, or that comfort,
tranquillity, and peace could come to him and his dear ones, so long as
such covenanters were allowed to live. His creed--the general creed of the
times--called upon him to invoke the law's aid, since by help from no
other source could he hope to reclaim wife, child, and domestic from the
clutches of hell's sovereign, and save his own fireside from continuing on
indefinitely a frenzied pandemonium. The higher his manhood, and the
deeper his love for wife and children, the more vigilant, resolute, and
untiring would be his purpose and his efforts to use any and every
available means for delivering his family from the hell which had been
thrust in under his roof.

The sufferings of his dear ones, then necessarily operative upon his mind
and affections, we presume were the chief prompters of his course and
incentives to his perseverance in it. Defense and protection of wife,
children, and all within his household are incumbent on any one worthy to
be called a _man_. Think not the worse of Thomas Putnam because of his
resolute purposes and speedy as well as prolonged efforts to rescue from
sufferings and perdition wife, child, and domestic. Because a prominent
sufferer, he became a prominent prosecutor--yes, the most prominent.
Though that fact stands boldly out on the pages of history, no one in his
time or since, so far as we have noticed, ever imputed to him an unworthy
motive, or annexed a disparaging epithet to his name. Perhaps he, as well
as Mr. Dane of Andover, was "tenderly touched" because of "a fair

In part the same can be said in defense of Rev. Samuel Parris as we have
adduced in defense of his co-sufferer and co-laborer for relief. During
the weeks from January 20 to the end of February, both his little daughter
and niece, under his own roof, were so strangely and sorely tormented that
he and his whole household must have been wearied, agitated, and rendered
miserable. When medical aid and kind nursing had proved abortive, and
medical authority announced the working of an _Evil Hand_ there, who can
wonder, knowing the creed of the day and place, that Mr. Parris sought the
law's aid for bringing relief to the little sufferers and to all beneath
his roof? Samuel Parris and Thomas Putnam, the minister and the clerk of
the parish, were both the first and the greatest sufferers affectionally
at the oncoming of invasion by mysterious tormentors, and both have fair
claims to be judged of tenderly in their connection with witchcraft
prosecutions. The chief apparent action of the minister was as scribe or
reporter for the courts, and this because he was more competent to that
work than any other person obtainable there. Such action is surely not
censurable. His position and abilities, however, were such that it was
quite as much within his power to have stopped the whole proceedings as in
that of any man then living; and they, no doubt, had his sanction and
efficient support. And yet we find no ground from which inference either
must or can fairly be drawn that the motives of the minister's actions
_pertaining to that special matter_, both at its commencement and in its
subsequent progress, were other than those common to the most enlightened
and best members of the community. Still we have not learned to like the
_man_. Selfishness, and disposition to rule harshly over his parish and
individuals, if not resentfully and even maliciously, are made too
manifest in the records for us to hold him in high esteem.

As servants of God and Christ, which they professed and believed
themselves to be, the prosecutors entered upon and long followed up war,
bloody war,--not against neighbors and men, but against the Devil--the
great enemy of God, Christ, and all good Christians. They were true,
earnest, resolute, strong, fearless men, waging their fight in good

The community at large, in which those men lived and held prominent
position, was not below most, if below any other of equal numbers on the
continent. Intellect there was keen, and morality high. Upham's "History
of Salem Village," admirable for its research, its thoroughness, its
prevailing accuracy, and its extensive charms, clearly shows that the five
hundred people, more or less, residing there in 1692, could scarcely be
surpassed by the residents of any other locality in intelligence, mental
keenness, moral strength, personal courage, and firmness of purpose and
resolve to live up to their convictions of truth, right, and duty. Salem
witchcraft was born in the homes of intelligent, brave, honored men,--who,
in co-operation with their wives, children, and domestics, contributed to
its growth, and elicited its vast and awful power to startle, frenzy, and
desolate the region round about. The world at large has never been kept
well instructed as to the circumstances amid which that great _delusion_
made its entrance on the field of human vision, nor as to the high
standing, intelligence, and character of its first escorts and sponsors.
Its victims, too, as a whole, were very respectable. Some of them, it is
true, were not high on the social scale, but the most of them were well
up, and quite a number ranked high among the intelligent, virtuous, and
saintly. The wide-spread and long prevalent notion that the dark doings
there were little else than outgrowths from tricks played by a few artful
and mischievous girls upon some low-lived and bed-ridden old women, has no
foundation on the facts in the case. This most monstrous child of
Christendom's creed had begetting and birth, in 1692, amid as reputable
circumstances and people, and as religious opponents of Satan, as any
marked revival of religion which has anywhere transpired since that
memorable day when the leading men of Salem Village, being challenged to
defense of their homes, armed themselves with civil law, and bravely,
long, and forcefully fought for God and His against the Devil.


What personality or persons, and of what rank in the scale of being, was
or were primal and chief in originating and enacting the famous Salem
Tragedy? If, as the generation then living believed, it was a specially
great controller and commander of all invisible foes to God, Christ, and
Christians everywhere, and who, having been effectually baffled in Europe,
resolved to keep America from passing into the control of his enemies,
God and Christ, and to thoroughly banish the hated intruders from these
his more exclusive and prized domains; if it was that being, his strategy
seemingly was to "beard the lion in his den," to make bold and fierce
attack on one of the strongest fortresses of Christians, presuming that
capture of such a post would lead to easy expulsion of all trespassers
from the whole of his broad lands on this side the Atlantic. His apparent
policy, judged of by the place and circumstances of attack, was to subdue
the strongest first, and thus so intimidate as to frighten all others back
to their former homes or the homes of their fathers. But _such_ a devil
was not there. Many beliefs prevalent two centuries ago are now obsolete.
Such a devil as witchcraft was imputed to, and who was believed to put
forth greater power over all Indian and heathen lands than God exercised
there, receives cognition in few brains to-day. Nevertheless, faith in the
presence, power, and malignity of such a being, present and at work among
them, was the main force that enabled his contestants to unwittingly put
an end to faith in the existence of any one special foe to all goodness,
whose power and dominion over the earth and its inhabitants very nearly
rivaled those of the Omnipotent One, and whose malice was a near
counterpoise to complete supernal benevolence.

Reason demands that the creature shall be inferior to its creator, that
devil shall be less than God; and she in most persons refers all things
and all events, in the ultimate analysis of causes and agents, back to One
Great Over-Soul--one God.

If an all-wise and omnipotent One, being full of mercy too, proposed to
subject an erroneous and enslaving human creed to a strain which should
shatter it past restoration to strength, and thus to set its subjected
holders free, highest wisdom may have seen that bright intellect, true
courage, firm nerves, unfaltering devotion to sense of duty, and strong
faith heavenward, were needful instrumentalities for best accomplishment
of the design. The abode of people than whom none elsewhere were better
prepared, more able, or more willing to fight the devil himself promptly,
unfalteringly, and persistently, may have been a spot where supernal
prescience saw that men, as blinded instruments, could best be made to
effect their own and the world's emancipation from a time-hardened and
disastrous public error. The mental and moral strength, and other good
_fighting_ qualities of its occupants generally, may have caused the
Village to be fixed upon as the most favorable battle-ground available for
the projected struggle.

Neither God nor the devil, however, was author in any sense pertinent to
the present inquiry. Our _ifs_, and the sentences which follow them,
cannot meet the demands nor the needs of modern readers. Faith, in direct
personal action upon either individual human beings or communities and
nations by any incomprehensibly vast and ubiquitous intelligent being
either malignant or benevolent, is not as prevalent now as it was in many
generations past. God, or a mighty devil either, as constant, immediate,
and personal performer on humanity's stage of operations, is not
extensively recognized by the deep thinkers of our age.

Indeed, modern thought has come very low down in its search for
witchcraft's author. Turning from God and the devil, the reputed workers
of great marvels in ages long past, our interpreters of America's earlier
wonders have fancied that they find the former existence of little girls
whose powers to sway the human mind and agitate a land, so approximated
those of omnipotence, and whose malignities so perceptibly equaled his of
Cloven Hoof, that they of their own wills concocted and enacted scenes of
simulated pains, distortions, losses of sight, hearing, and speech; and
also mimicked the movements of birds and beasts, and performed such
impositions and tricks innumerable as made their homes and neighborhood a
horrid pandemonium; in doing which they manifested such prodigious power,
skill, and perfect acting, that these little untaught and untrained ones
outled in skill, all the world's most expert tricksters, and, in
malignity, the most devilish human monsters our world ever contained, in
any age or land.

Somewhere between the extremes of strength and weakness, of benevolence
and malignity, we perhaps can find beings more likely to have directly
produced the marvels in question than either God, devil, or little girls.
Consciousness and experience indicate to most persons that an
all-dominating power exists, and bounds and hedges in the spheres of
freedom and ability which are occupied by finite beings. Something above
and beyond all finites says to each of them, "Thus far, but no farther,
canst thou go." Within spheres thus limited there abide many grades of
intelligent and affectional beings, ranging in differences of powers and
dispositions as widely as any mortal's thoughts can conceive. Vast,
countless hosts of intelligences, though vailed from our outer vision, may
be, and evidences are very strong that such ever are abiding dwellers
above, below, around, and in the midst of earth's corporeal inhabitants.
Within their unperceived abodes such ones may actuate the forces which
evolve many less marked events, as well as all special providences,
special judgments--miracles so called, and such marvels generally as were
formerly imputed to either God or the devil as _immediate_ author. We have
no faith that either of the two had any closer or more special connection
with witchcraft matters than with the ordinary doings of man.

The undefinable source of all things which are contained in the vast
creation, emitted all forth subject to laws, and surrounded and
infiltrated by forces which enable the world's progressing inhabitants,
visible and invisible, to purchase, through study, toil, absorptions from
enfolding auras, and other furnished helps, both knowledge and powers just
as fast and great as their advancements and growing needs from time to
time call for more light and for augmented powers.

Finite beings naturally gravitate to where every instrumentality needful
to their highest well-being can be obtained by the co-operative efforts
and aspirations of finites, seen and unseen, for learning laws and
manipulating forces which pervade their places of residence. Generations
upon generations, whose mortal forms long centuries ago moldered away, may
still be active laborers in and about the men of to-day, and may be, and
may always have been, the immediate manifesters of all supernal
intelligence and marvelous force issuing from regions which the eye of
flesh lacks power to scan. One of the old prophets of a prior generation
made known to John the Revelator what he recorded; and agents of like
nature, that is, departed human spirits, may have been the only revealers
of supernal truths, facts, and visions to man, and the only workers of the
signs or extra-marvelous manifestations of force and knowledge which have
been deemed credentials from the Omniscient and Omnipotent. We believe in
God and in the issuance of knowledge and force from him to man, but have
not faith in his immediate personal putting forth of either, in
accomplishment of such events as are often called special providences.
Such events occur--they often come both uncalled for and in response to
prayer--to yearnings "uttered or unexpressed;" but the prayers and
yearnings reach, stimulate, and help both ambient forces and ascended
spirits to let in or to confer the needed protection or restoration. The
air all around us is alive with hearers of prayer, and no humble and
fervent aspiration for help to come forth from the mystic abodes of
spiritual beings and occult forces ever fails to bring aid and elevation.
The purer and humbler the aspiration, the nearer does it penetrate toward
the Great Source of being, life, and bliss, and the more powerful and
beneficent are those whose responses and emanations can reach and aid the

The same forces and laws which permit the sensible action of good spirits
among men, just as freely and extensively permit the presence and action
of malicious ones. God aids the good and restrains the wicked just as much
and no more on the other side of the grave than on this. Freedom, whether
to comply with or to contend against either natural or moral law, is as
great in spirit spheres as in our midst on earth. Any spirit, either
benevolent or malignant, is as free to use the forces and laws which
permit spirit manifestations, as any navigator is, be he morally good or
bad, to avail himself of winds, currents, tides, and the like, for passing
over seas to a land not his own, and acting out his characteristic
purposes there.

Our position, fortified by the facts and reasonings in the preceding
pages, is, that spirits--departed human beings--generated and outwrought
Salem witchcraft. That is our answer to the question of its authorship.


Thus far questions pertaining to the character of the main motives
operating in the authors of acts called witchcraft, have purposely been
avoided. The actors and their doings have been sought for, irrespective of
morality. But the _cui bono_, the what good? must have been asked over and
over again by the reader. Why did any intelligent being, whether mortal or
spirit, thus woefully invade and disturb the homes of able, honored,
worthy Christian men? and especially why perpetrate such agonizing
cruelties upon bright, lovely, and promising children?

The spirit-world, as well as ours, holds inhabitants differing widely one
from another in character, tastes, propensities, and occupations--it
contains yearners to recommune with surviving kindred at the old material
home--contains its rovers, its explorers, its scientists, its seekers
after novelties, facts, and principles; after new places, scenes, and
peoples to visit; after new routes and appliances for travel, and after
new applications of known powers and forces. The motives for acting upon
and through mortal forms may vary from worst to best, from best to worst.

The moral character of motives can neither invalidate nor confirm what has
been adduced. The motives, having been either good or bad, may be ascribed
to spirits as well as mortals, and to mortals as well as spirits, for both
good and bad beings dwell in mortal forms now, and both classes have left
their outer forms behind, and passed into the abiding-place of
spirits--have become spirits, and that, too, without necessary alteration
of their moral states. Motives in different cases and with different
operators were doubtless quite varied. Correct presentation of their
qualities in connection with the several cases adduced in the preceding
pages is obviously beyond our power. Though conscious that we must
probably be mistaken in some instances, we yet are willing to state some
of the thoughts which facts and appearances have suggested.

Perhaps no unseen intelligences aided or acted through either Margaret
Jones or Ann Hibbins; and, if any did, their performances in and of
themselves were never perceptibly harmful to the public. We apprehend,
however, that if the whole truth were known, man would now see that kind
physicians, who had bid farewell to earth, continued to practice the
healing art through the brain and hands of Margaret Jones.

The users of Ann Cole's vocal organs furnished no distinct indication that
they were either specially benevolent or the reverse. We are constrained
to regard them as having been low, ignorant, willing to excite
consternation among men, and very willing to help the lewd Greensmiths on,
by the halter's use, to speedy entrance into conditions in which
themselves could confer with these debased ones more familiarly than was
possible while they remained encased in flesh. Such a view need not imply
that they were malicious. Desire to hold closer connection with one's
affinities is natural, and not necessarily bad. Communicators from the
other side of death's portals generally decline to call any spirits _bad_;
they speak of many as being low, ignorant, benighted, undeveloped, &c.,
but seldom call any one bad. They seem to regard many much as we do green
fruits. One omits to call the half-grown apple bad, however sour or
crabbed, and says only that it is immature, unripe, &c., implying that,
though in its present condition not good to eat, time may come when it
will be palatable and nutritious.

Elizabeth Knap's visitant--the one to whom she said, "What cheer, old
man?"--who presumably was the chief operator through and upon her form,
and lingered about her for at least three years, we regard as a sort of
recluse spirit, who kept mainly aloof from other disembodied ones, and
found his chief enjoyment in retaining or resuming as close alliances as
possible with the outer or material world, and from a selfish desire to
secure permanent possession of this instrument, strove through torturings
to reduce her to subjection; and this, perhaps, without desire to injure
her, but mainly with a view to gratify his own selfishness. The other
one--the pretty black boy--of a more lively disposition, found pleasure in
playfully bantering the grave clergyman, and probably strove, in playful
mood, to teach the honest and good man some lessons in charity and
demonology. We see no reason why he may not be regarded as a genial good
fellow, desiring to make some gloomy portion of mankind more cheerful and

At Newbury there possibly was nothing more than a playful and
self-gratifying exercise of constitutional powers by a band of spirit
gymnasts--not malicious, but playful and rude; curious also, it may be, to
see how far they might be able to frighten mortals and arouse
consternating wonder, while they should be pleasurably exercising their
own faculties. We view them as neither specially good or bad, but as
heedless and rude in their frolic.

Appearances are different when we look at the Goodwin family. There an
embodied old wild Irish woman's spirit was the first to put forth
psychologizing power over the children. She was moved by anger, or
resentment, or both; her guardian or kindred spirits no doubt helped her,
and from motives like her own. Perhaps we may properly call both her and
her aids bad. Yet we hear no call to apply that word emphatically. Little
Martha had just charged the old woman's daughter with having stolen some
of the clothes which the latter was employed to wash; and, if that charge
was false, or even presumed by the old woman to be false, she, who was
obviously fiery and ignorant, may not have been excessively diabolical in
using any process of mental or emotional retaliation which was at her
command. Perhaps ignorance and instinctive retaliation were quite as
operative in her as malice.

Martha's form, subsequently, when she was residing with Cotton Mather, was
often used by one or more spirits who seem to have been bent upon showing
the learned man that sport might exist and be enjoyable beyond the
confines of mortal life, and that denizens there were disposed to make
some at his expense. They soon showed him that linguists unseen could
comprehend his meaning, whatever the language he might use for expression
of his thought; and also thumped the sectarian by disdaining to read books
which he approved, and by reading with ecstatic delight such as he
condemned. Nor was this all; they exhibited in his presence feats of
strength and agility, and many marvelous antics, which were suited to
cause a thinker and scholar to hold on to his belief that others than the
guileless miss took part in the performance of such marvels. While amusing
themselves, they were exhibiters of instructive facts. Nothing bad in
their purposes becomes apparent.

The case of most special interest and chief importance pertains to Salem.
Upham, vol. ii. p. 429, says, "If there was anything supernatural in the
witchcraft of 1692, if any other than human spirits were concerned at all,
one thing is beyond a doubt; they were shockingly wicked spirits." _Beyond
a doubt?_ Perhaps not in some minds. But if any disembodied spirits
whatsoever, even _shockingly wicked ones_, were mainly performers of the
convulsing operations at Salem, the historian's theory of explanation is
not only baseless, but is lamentably cruel and unjust toward the human
instruments through whom the spirits acted. If specific doings prove their
authors, if spirits, to have been shockingly wicked, the same having
mortal authors, would prove the latter to have been just as shockingly
wicked. We do not like to apply that defamatory phrase to all those girls
and women who are set forth as the chief accusers. Were all those youthful
females shockingly wicked? We hope not, and think not. God rules alike in
the invisible and visible world, and often moves in mysterious ways for
executing benevolent designs.

The motive of Tituba's "tall man with white hair," whom we regard as prime
mover in the most momentous witchcraft scene the world has ever witnessed,
is difficult to comprehend satisfactorily. The deliberateness indicated
both by his visit to Tituba five days in advance of practical operation,
and by his then appointing a special time and place for entering upon his
intended processes, bespeaks a definite and abiding motive of some marked
quality. Judging from the earlier and more perceptible effects of his
doings, the world must almost necessarily regard him as a deliberate
tormentor of innocent children; as a disturber of domestic, social,
religious, and civil peace; as an immolator of the innocent and the
virtuous; as hell's sovereign acting out his fiendish pleasure upon the
inmates of a Christian fold. Infernal malignity, at the first glance,
seems to have actuated this intruder at the parsonage. World-wide
experience, however, has learned that many things are "not as they seem."
We have been taught to recognize One being, and there may be many others
in spheres unseen, in whose sight "a thousand years are as one day."
Teachings of history and observation show that the overruling power is
attended and guided by far--very far--reaching prescience; and also that
many of man's greatest blessings are educed from temporal evils of vast
magnitude. The malice of man nailed Jesus to the cross. What wears every
appearance of wicked motive is often used as helpful, if not needed,
instrumentality in procuring man's deliverance and redemption from
debasement and oppression.

When John Brown made his raid across the border line of freedom, not only
the invaded South, but a large portion of the North regarded him as a
ruthless and malicious invader of the rights of our fellow-countrymen, and
therefore worthy of a felon's doom. A cannon soon sent to Fort Sumter the
comments of the South upon what Brown had done, and war, carnage, and
horrors of varied forms and vast dimensions soon spread over the broad
nation, from the St. John to the southern gulf, and from the Atlantic to
the Pacific. John Brown was no felon, no malicious invader, but a
philanthropic planner to strip the chains of slavery from four millions of
his brother men; and his step, though a seeming evil then, led directly
on to the emancipation of all for whose good he went forth in seeming

When plagues of various kinds were invoked and brought upon the Egyptians
by and through the mediumistic Moses and Aaron, what Egyptian would have
deemed that the motives of the unseen intelligence who counseled and
controlled them could be benevolent? Plague, pestilences, and sore
afflictions for a long time, and finally death of the first born, were
imposed upon each Egyptian household. The motive to those inflictions is
deemed to have been deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage.
Egyptians being judges, it must have been a shockingly wicked spirit who
acted upon them through Moses and Aaron.

History, on most of its pages, shows that war--war,--that ruthless
trampler upon the innocent scarcely less than upon the offending, has ever
been a very common, if not the chief, instrument by which oppressed people
have gained deliverance, and through use of which the depressed have come
up to higher stand-points. If our world has, through all its past ages,
been wisely and beneficently managed by some intelligence higher than man,
then far-reaching wisdom--supernal wisdom--has often seen that the good of
the many--nay, the good of _all_--required the coming of suffering,
sacrifice, and anguish upon the few. Has the Great Permitter of the many
sufferings which war has engendered been "shockingly wicked"?

The chains of old enslaving errors often become invisible and unfelt by
those on whom they were early placed by a mother's kindly hand, and the
like to which all associates wear as supposed helps, and never as
suspected hindrances, to expansion and health of mind and heart. Nothing
short of a most strenuous conflict--nothing short of a struggle for life
and all that makes life valuable and dear--is competent in some cases to
awaken perception that such chains are and ever have been cramping their
wearers, and holding them back from such expansion and freedom as their
Maker fitted men to attain to and enjoy. We regard the witchcraft creed as
having been such a chain.

Looking carefully at the methods by which the power that overrules all
terrestrial affairs has almost invariably led man to break away from
thralldom and oppression, can one reasonably entertain belief that any
purely peaceful measures, any preachings, arguments, appeals to the reason
of men, could have brought Christendom, at any time after the twelfth or
thirteenth century, to perceive that its witchcraft creed was enslaving
its mind, and thwarting its proper expansion heavenward? We apprehend not;
and also we surmise that in 1602 supernal intelligence saw that
opportunity and power existed, which, if then availed of, could put
mortals into a conflict which would reveal to them the inherent falsity
and barbarity of the witchcraft creed, and thus let such light into their
minds as, in time, would lead them to cast off the chains in which they
were bound, attain to clearer and more accurate views of their relations
to God and the spirit-world, and rise to higher and freer manhood.

If such were the case, we can readily conceive that supernal wisdom and
benevolence might permit and foster the oncoming of an appalling and
terrific struggle which should bring into vigorous action man's every
latent energy, sweep away in its course many erroneous beliefs, hampering
customs, and ruts of thought, and thoroughly overturn much which had long
been deemed immovable truth. Such a course might be the most beneficent
possible, even though it involved destruction of the comfort, peace, and
lives of many innocent and most estimable inhabitants at the place and
vicinity where the battle should be waged, and that, too, whether the war
itself should be the ostensible offspring of revenge and malice, or a
brave conflict for preservation of one's altars and fireside in peace.

Some amusement, and little else perhaps, may be furnished by presentation
of what a spiritualist's fancy, prior to careful study of facts narrated
by Tituba, had become accustomed to deem not only possible, but probable.
She was a slave dwelling among oppressors of her kindred and
race--oppressors of the negro, the Indian, and of those generally who were
"guilty of a skin not colored like their own," and of worshiping gods
different from their own. What more natural than that departed ones, whom
the whites had defrauded, injured, and oppressed while dwellers here, and
whose surviving kindred were still being treated in like manner, should
embrace an opportunity which the mediumistic qualities and the abode of
Tituba furnished, for perpetrating retaliation whence woes had been
received? True Christian morality may denounce such action as being
"shockingly wicked," but the more prevalent morality in the world--in the
more resolute portions of it at least, and especially in the less
enlightened--may be as ready to commend as to condemn it, and to applaud
as to censure those whose fire and pluck induced and enabled them to pay
over upon their oppressors wrong for wrong, even augmented with interest
at the highest rates which their altered circumstances allowed. It having
been discovered that Tituba's form was a portal for spirit return, fancy
saw the spirits of her ancestral race, and hosts of ascended aborigines of
Massachusetts soil, eagerly coming back through her helping properties,
disposed and eager to cast their impalpable arrows and tomahawks at any
members of the wronging race who might be vulnerable by such weapons.
Scouts swiftly and widely spread over the spirit hunting-grounds knowledge
of the glorious opportunity for retaliation and revenge which had come,
and hosts of volunteers rushed thence with lightning speed to the alluring
scene. Quick havoc ensued, and the great consternation, bewilderment,
devastation, slaughter, disturbance of peace, and agonizings of terror and
awe, which the invasion produced, gave keenest pleasure, satisfaction, and
joy to the assailants. Possibly Indian spirits might then begin to cherish
hopes of expelling all whites from the land of their fathers, and of
re-acquiring and leaving the whole a legacy to red men's heirs.

But the whites, not less than the darker-skinned, were under the
supervision of spirit guardians, friends, and helpers, who, though
probably taken by surprise and at disadvantage, were by no means disposed
to leave their wards, kindred, and loved ones to be long thus harassed and
abused. Invisible hosts soon mustered, and warred against other invisible
hosts over and around the Village; and when the struggle had been waged
far enough to sever witchcraft's chains, the laws of the _Highest_
permitted the guardians of the Christians to conquer a lasting peace whose
balm would heal the wounds inflicted, and whose fruits would be
emancipation from cramping errors, and consequent expansion and elevation
of mental powers.

As, perhaps, appropriate sequent to our fanciful views, we next present
something which was not born in our own brain, and which may or may not be
statement of ancient facts. We have devoted but little time to directly
seeking information from spirits relating to the subject upon which we
are writing, and yet have seldom entered into conversation with any good
clairvoyant, at any time during the last year or two, without receiving
description of one or more spirits then in attendance, and manifesting
desire to have us recognize them. In most cases they have shown their
names. In this manner Cotton Mather, more than any other one, signifies
that interest in our present work draws him near to us. Mather's mother,
also Martha Goodwin, Rebecca Nurse, and others, have presented their cards
through persons ignorant that individuals bearing such names ever lived.
But Mather has done more. On two or three occasions, using a medium's
organs of speech, he has entered into conversation with us upon his
connection with witchcraft. He is not now well pleased with his blindness
when in his physical form, and urges us to be more severe in our
criticisms upon his course than historic facts permit us to be.

February 9, 1875, he was in control of a medium, and we inquired as to his
present views of George Burroughs. At once and cordially he described
Burroughs as one of the brightest of all spirits whom he had seen, and as
"illumining whatever sphere he enters." We asked Mather if he had ever
learned who the spirit was that came to Tituba and started Salem
witchcraft. He had not. Had he met Tituba? "Yes." "Can you not," we asked,
"find him through her?" "Probably," was his response; "and will try, if
you wish it." "Well, then," we said, "two weeks from this day and hour we
will meet you at this place." This was arranged through an _unconscious_
medium, who never receives into her consciousness any knowledge of what
her lips utter while she is entranced, and she was on that occasion. We
did not inform her, nor did any other mortal than ourself know, that we
arranged for a subsequent meeting with Mather.

We called upon the medium February 23, when forthwith, in her normal and
conscious state, she said that she was then seeing at our side two spirits
of very strange aspect, and of race or races unknown to her. One of them
she described as a male, uncouth in aspect, having large piercing eyes, a
very wild look, and as being clothed in a sort of blouse, beneath and
below which were short pants tucked into the shoes; also his teeth were
very large. The other was a female of unknown race, and of a race
different from that to which the male belonged; her complexion was dark,
but she was neither negro nor Indian, and exhibited the letter T.

This medium may have known, and probably did, that we were engaged in
writing upon witchcraft; but she is not conversant with its history, nor
did she know the names of individuals concerned in it, nor the parts any
had severally performed.

Very shortly after having given the above description, the medium was
entranced; soon Cotton Mather, speaking through her, signified that he had
brought with him both Tituba and her nocturnal visitant when she was slave
of Mr. Parris; also, he stated, that, since they were not accustomed to
giving utterance through borrowed lips, he proposed to speak for and of
them. The statement relating to the man was substantially as follows:--

"His name was Zachahara; he was of Egyptian descent, but a Ninevite, or
dweller in Nineveh. His time on earth was somewhat before that of Moses.
Not long after his death, he, a spirit, observed that a spirit by the name
of Jehocah--not Jehovah--was working strange marvels, and enacting
cruelties among the race from which himself had sprung, through one Moses,
and was thereby acting out a spirit's purposes toward man through a
mortal's form. At once he, Zachahara, felt strong inclination and desire
to exercise his own powers in the same mode. The desire clung to him
tenaciously, and ever kept him alert, to find a mortal whom he could use
with efficiency rivaling that which Jehocah manifested through Moses. No
one of his many trials, however, was very successful until he put forth
his skill and power upon and through Tituba. His ruling motive was desire
to ascertain how far he, being a spirit, could get and keep control of a
mortal form, and what amount and kinds of wonders he could perform with
such an instrument. The motive was devoid of either malice or benevolence;
it essentially was that of the scientist seeking new knowledge of nature's
permissions. To keep Tituba in good humor with himself, he freely made
promises to bestow upon her many fine things; and, to please her, he would
say and do anything he thought might add to his power over her, and,
through her, over other mortals."

Such was the account; and, while it was coming upon our ears, it carried
us back to familiar accounts of marvels of old, and we felt that the acts
of Jehocah through Moses, and those of Zachahara through Tituba, bespoke
motives so much alike in apparent barbarity, that, if either actor was
blameworthy, it might be difficult to see why equal blame should not be
meted out upon the other.

Mather, speaking of and for Tituba, said, that "when the man first came to
her and sought her service and aid, he was very bright and pleasant; but
that, when she declined to comply with his wishes and demands, he became
awfully dark and terrible." Briefly, Tituba herself managed the medium's
vocal organs, furnished a simpering confirmation of Mather's statement,
and said, with a shrug and shiver, "he was awful! awful!"

Subsequent conversation at the same seance elicited from spirits their
belief, that, as soon as a door of access to men through Tituba was
discovered, numerous Indian spirits were able and eager to rush through
and lend a helping hand to the old Ninevite, and were devoid of any strong
desire to help gently; indeed, they were very willing to molest the whites
on their own responsibility. Soon, when unimpassioned search for knowledge
of what ability spirits possessed or might acquire to revisit and again
act amid terrestrial scenes was too much attended by agents willing to
enact, and actually enacting, havoc too severe to be longer tolerated,
wise and compassionate spirits brought power to bear which soon put a stop
to what was producing most agonizing consequences. Spirits claim that they
did much in the way of changing the views of mortals, and preventing a
renewal of prosecutions at the next term of court. Perceiving that enough
cruelty had been enacted to make mortals ready to ask whether both
humanity and God were not belied by the creed Christians were enforcing,
they turned the minds of men to more rational and humane views.

Some time during the winter of 1874-5, Rev. G. Burroughs having poured
out, through a medium's lips, a few sentences redolent with charity and
heavenly grace, we asked him what he now deemed the motive which primarily
induced some spirit to inaugurate the operations which brought himself and
many others to untimely end? His response was, "I suppose it was the
natural and proper desire of some spirit to resume communion with its dear
ones on earth." No spirit has ever indicated to us a suspicion even that
the spirits whose acts evolved witchcraft were either malevolent,
censurable, or in any sense _shockingly wicked_.

Did supernal prescience select and post agents peculiarly fitted to
perform the witchcraft tragedy? Perhaps so: and possibly Sir William Phips
was not governor by mere chance. Some statements by Calef indicate that
Sir William when young, perhaps while but a learner of ship-carpentry in
Maine, received a written communication which led him to go to Europe and
obtain means whereby to seek for a wreck, the finding of which brought him
fortune and title. He long and carefully preserved the prophetic paper,
and, when flush in means, paid the writer of it more than two hundred
pounds. From the same or a similar source he fore-learned his becoming a
commander, governor of New England, and other events of his life.
Information of that kind usually comes to such as are mediumistic enough
to be susceptible of guidance, or at least of swayings, by the
intelligence from whom the prophecy issues. Sir Phips may have been
himself mediumistic. The probable fact that the accusing girls named the
governor's wife as one from whom they received annoyance bespeaks
probability that she too had place in the class of impressibles.
Therefore, one inclined to prosecute such speculations is here furnished
with a basis on which to argue that the Infinite Prescience which
permitted the advent of Salem witchcraft, also embraced fit instruments in
fit position for controlling its course, and also for putting a stop to it
as soon as it should have outwrought enough of seeming evil to beget the
good which Infinite Benevolence purposed to bestow upon mortals. Spirits
take to themselves much credit for the part they performed in changing the
opinions and course of the authorities and people here in the autumn of
1692, and the early months of the following year.

The adjournment of the court, and no law permitting another session for
months, gave opportunity for reflection. Also the actual and contemplated
arrests of many of high standing and most estimable character were matters
of sobering influence, so that reason resumed its sway; no more were tried
for witchcraft, and all prisoners were set free. This may have occurred
either with or without special action of spirits upon the public mind.

We now regard the primal motive as nearly or quite devoid of moral
quality. It probably was either a natural and proper desire to get access
to dear ones left on earth, or some experimental or some scientific
impulse to test the power which a spirit could exercise over those encased
in mortal forms. When, before the days of ether, good Dr. Flag had fixed
his forceps firmly on our raging tooth, and given a long, strong pull till
out of breath, our pains, our agony, our heavy blows upon his hand and
arms, failed to make him let go. He was shockingly wicked at that moment,
for he not only held on and kept us in torture, but pulled again without
success; and even then he would not let go, but pulled yet once more, and
the tooth came out. Spirits, getting access to mortals, may have judged
that only through transient evils and sufferings could man get relief from
severe chronic maladies, and that, when opportunity occurred, their
kindest possible treatment of men was homoeopathic--was the curing like
with like--curing evil by inflicting evil. They may have been so
shockingly wicked as to do that.

Spirits may often, and generally explore and operate from motives not
perceptibly different from such as actuate their human counterparts. The
devoted vivisectionist seldom shrinks from entering upon, or gives up
pursuit of, knowledge because the scalpel agonizes his living subject. So,
too, a spirit in pursuit of knowledge--if, either casually or by intended
experiment, finding himself controlling the will and organs of Tituba or
some other impressible mortal, and thus opening up a new field for
exploration--might be strongly inclined to see how far and efficiently he
could wield forces of nature so as himself to sway the forms and affairs
of embodied men. Each gain in power or skill for acting amid terrestrial
beings, scenes, and objects, would naturally thrill him with pleasure, and
incite him to follow up researches in the spirit of science. That spirit
is prone to look upon sufferings which its own processes occasion, as but
temporary incidents, and of little account in comparison with the
beneficent results which its triumphs will procure. Extension of their own
fields of knowledge and influence was perhaps among the chief motives
which prompted spirits to perform the wonders that startled, frenzied, and
agonized the subjects and observers of their operations in 1692. Another
may have been self-gratification by revisiting well-known scenes; and yet
another, beneficence to man by opening for his use a new source of
knowledge and wisdom.

Realms unseen are the abodes of sympathetic as well as of scientific
beings; and as soon as a false creed had been forced to disclose its
falsity, the former may have seen occasion to dissuade the latter from
acting further upon benighted dwellers in mortal forms, until time should
bring man to calm reflection and retrospection, and to possession of such
mental freedom as would embolden him to meet unawed, strange visitants
from unseen realms, and extend to even such a friendly hand. The lapse of
a hundred and fifty years brought such mental freedom to us, purchased by
the sufferings of our fathers, that, undeterred by fears of the halter, we
now can invite to our earthly homes the loved and saintly ones who have
passed on to realms above, hold blissful and uplifting communings with
them, and learn their justification of the wonderful ways of God both to
and through the children of men and in all nature.

Whatever the ruling motive of the chief direct producer of Salem
Witchcraft may have been, the resistless power which moves all things,
including malignant motives, onward toward the production of ultimate
good, caused the fierce conflict we are considering to soon put an
effectual stop to prosecutions for witchcraft throughout all Christian
lands, and shattered to fragments a pernicious creed which had long
enslaved the Christian mind. Costly as that struggle was in pains,
sicknesses, tortures, anguish, physical exhaustions, domestic distresses,
social alienations, church discords, languishments in prison, fears,
frenzies, and even life, the price may not have been high for the
wide-spread and abiding blessings of mental freedom which it obtained.


_Members of the First Parish in Danvers, and all residents on the soil of
Salem Village_:--

About three years since it was my privilege to speak briefly concerning
the marvels of 1692, on the spot where they transpired. Courtesy then
required brevity, and some vagueness of statement resulted: my remarks on
that occasion are embraced among the addresses appended to Rev. Charles B.
Rice's admirable "History of the First Parish in Danvers, 1672-1872"--a
production of much more than ordinary merit.

The present occasion is embraced to point out a misprint. On pages 186 and
187 of those bi-centennial offerings, I am made to say that "the little
resolute band of devil-fighters here in the wilderness became, though all
_unwillingly_, yet became most efficient helpers in gaining liberty for
the freer action of nobler things than any creed," &c.--I never cherished
a thought so derogatory to them as that they _unwillingly_ became
efficient helpers in gaining liberty. My spoken words were, that they
_unwittingly_, that is, without knowing it, were being made instrumental
in gaining mental freedom, or deliverance from the chains of error; and I
believe that a large part of the preceding pages tends to make the truth
of my actual statement apparent, while it shows the falsity of the one
imputed to me.

The soil beneath you long has been and long will be either consecrated or
damned to fame; damned, hereafter, if prevalent modern views of former
actors there be correct; consecrated, if the ostensible actors be viewed
as chosen combatants and instruments on witchcraft's last and most widely
renowned battle-field.

Many of you know that I first drew breath and also received my earlier
training and unfoldment on the soil of your town. My relations to
witchcraft soil were not of my own choosing, and I feel no responsibility
for them--feel no sense of gratulation, and none of shame, because of
them. Still, no doubt, they increase my desire to set forth the merits of
former dwellers at the Village as having been as great and noble, and
their faults as few and small, as authenticated facts fairly demand; and
this not because of anything done or suffered by any one of my personal
ancestors, no one of whom, so far as I have learned, was either accuser,
accused, or witness in any witchcraft case. There, however, has been
transmitted orally from sire to son what possibly indicates that one of
them was exposed to arrest. Immediately after the prosecutions ceased,
Joseph Putnam, father of General Israel, was a firm and efficient opponent
to Mr. Parris's retaining position as minister at the Village. Tradition
says that when rage for arrestings was high, he, being then only
twenty-two years old, and his still younger wife, kept themselves and
their family armed, their horses saddled and fed by the door, day and
night for six months. This was preparation for either resistance or
flight, as circumstances might render expedient in case an arrest should
be attempted there. Opposition to prevalent beliefs, therefore, may not be
a new feature in the family history. The heretic to the notions of many
to-day, may have had an ancestor heretical to the witchcraft creed in

But if heresy has come by inheritance, charity combines with it; for my
heart is gladdened by each newly discovered indication that Joseph's elder
half-brother, Thomas Putnam, the great and impartial prosecutor, and Ann,
daughter of Thomas the great witch-finder,--also that Mr. Parris and many
other former villagers,--never, any one of them, acted any part in
relation to witchcraft that was not prompted by devotion to the relief and
good of their families and neighbors, or forced upon them by unseen and
irresistible agents.

Your trusted teachers upon the subject--Upham, Fowler, Hanson, and Rice,
all well informed in most directions, and well-intentioned--have severally
favored the view that neither supermundane nor submundane agents were at
all concerned in producing your witchcraft scenes. Their course throws
tremendous and most fearful responsibilities upon both the fathers and
daughters of a former age; and not responsibilities alone, but also
accusations of deviltry upon the children, and of stupidity and barbarity
upon the fathers, which make them all objects of aversion, and a stock
from which any one may well blush to find that he has descended.

No one of these teachers went back to the commencement of the strange
doings, and scanned the testimony of Tituba, that personal participator in
them, and the best possible witness. No one of them used, and probably
none but Upham had at command, her simple but plain statements, that a
spirit came to her and forced her to help him and others pinch the two
little girls in Mr. Parris's family, at the very time when their
mysterious ailments were first manifested. The keen and exact Deodat
Lawson states that the afflicted ones "talked with the specters as with
living persons." Mention of spirits as being seen attendant upon the
startling works is of frequent occurrence in the primitive records.
Therefore, facts well presented and authoritative have been left unadduced
by your teachers. They, however, are a part, and a very important part, of
things to be accounted for. Any theory of explanation that fails to
embrace such is essentially faulty, misleading, and not worthy of
adoption. Fair respect for historic facts, and especially for the
reputation of those men and young women who were prominently concerned in
its scenes, very properly and forcefully demands a widely different and
less humiliating and aspersory solution of your witchcraft than such as
has been proffered in the present century.

My reading in preparation for this work failed to meet with either
distinct mention of any meeting of a circle at Mr. Parris's house, or with
any statement which had seeming reference to the existence of such a one,
till I got down to Upham, who dwells much upon it and its influences, but
omits mention of the source of his information. Since the publication of
his Lectures upon Witchcraft, many writers have followed his lead.

Knowledge of the locality and of the relative positions of the homes of
those girls, and of their positions in those homes, is perhaps kept more
steadily in view by a writer whose young days, and parts of his manhood,
were passed there, than by others not so long familiar with the region;
and perhaps he holds firmer conviction that gatherings, with the frequency
and to the extent which are claimed, for the purpose of learning the arts
of necromancy, magic, and spiritualism, under the roof of such a man as
Mr. Parris, were very much nearer to an impossibility, than most others do
who have of late had occasion to consider _who_ enacted Salem witchcraft.
If current assumptions, that the accusing girls, by study and practice,
rendered themselves able to concoct and enact the vast and bloody tragedy
imputed to them, and if their own minds and wills were properly authors
there,--if the prevalent explanation of witchcraft be much other than
fanciful,--then the magical skill and powers, and the brutal acts there
manifested, loudly call for admission that wolfish fathers had begotten
foxes, and were beguiled and spurred on by their own wily vulpines to
commit such horrid havoc as must fix unfading and ineffaceable stain of
infamy upon the spot where they prowled.

The blackest smooch on the pages of your history was dropped from the pen
which virtually made the Village daughters incarnate devils, and their
fathers gullible, stupid, and brutal mistakers of what their own girls
performed for the marvelous doings of agents possessing more than mortal
powers. God save the parish soil from the stain which modern fancy's
course tends to impress upon it! Its men were never beguiled and aroused
to perpetration of monstrous barbarities by the self-willed actings and
words of their daughters. But genuine and mysterious afflictions of their
children found the sires ready to fight manfully and unflaggingly for God
and the deliverance of their families from mundane hells, and that, too,
with such force and persistency as never before was equaled in
witchcraft's long history, and with such success that no extension of that
sad volume has since been possible.

That was most emphatically a time that tried men's _souls_; and the souls
then there proved to be brave enough to wage conflict against the
mightiest and most formidable of possible enemies, and strong and
persistent enough to force him to such struggle as strained his vitals,
and paralyzed his power to molest grievously in any future age. The Unique
Devil of Witchcraft left that field of fight a Samson shorn of his locks;
the source of his strength was there cut off, for the intensely indurated
encasement of the delusion which centuries before had begotten him, and
had ever since been feeding him abundantly, was then so thoroughly
cracked, that its contents went the way of water spilled upon the ground,
and he famished.

Blush not for the fathers. They were heroes, true to their creed, their
families, and their neighbors; true servants of their God--true foes to
their devil. And their fight purchased the freedom which lets me now speak
in their defense, devoid of any fears of the hangman's rope; and
purchased, too, your no less valuable freedom to let me now speak without
molestation,--which would be impossible were the creed of the fathers now
prevalent, and if you equaled them in devotion to _Faith_,--because then
my methods and processes for gaining knowledge would require you to hang
either me or those through whom loved and wise ones speak back from beyond
the grave, impart their hallowing lessons of experience in bright abodes,
and their instructions in righteousness. Thank God yourselves that you
hold no creed calling you to perpetrate such barbarity! Hutchinson's
statement, that our witch-prosecutors were more barbarous than Hottentots
and nations scarcely knowing a God ever were known to be, involves a very
significant comment upon the witchcraft creed. That creed made our fathers
more barbarous than any tribe of men outside the Christian pale; and were
that creed yours to-day, and were you true to it, you would be equally
barbarous as they. Their struggle purchased for you and all Christendom
exemption from their direful condition.

Adopt the view--and we believe it correct--that the accusing girls were
constitutionally endowed with fine sensibilities and special organisms and
temperaments which rendered their bodies facile instruments through which
unseen intelligences acted upon visible matter and human beings, the
supposition that God made them capable of being good mediums--good
instruments for use by other minds and wills than their own, and that
their bodies, either apart from or against their own minds and wills, were
concerned in the enactment of witchcraft, and then you may look upon each
and all of them as having been as pure, innocent, harmless, sympathetic,
and benevolent as any females in that or in this generation; and no
descendant from them need fear the cropping out of specially bad and
disreputable blood thence inherited, and each may regard his or her native
spot as deserving to be consecrated rather than damned to fame, because
there true, conscientious men fought manfully and legitimately for rescue
of both their own homes and the community from direst of all conceivable
foes, while living instruments of rare efficiency existed there, by use of
which the Christian world was delivered from dwarfing and hampering
slavery to a monk-made devil. What other battle, of any nature, ever
fought on American soil, purchased choicer freedom, or effected mental
emancipation more widely over Christendom, than did your fathers' conflict
with _their_ devil? May the year 1892 deem the spot worthy of a
commemorative monument!

Your last historian poetically says, that your "witchcraft darkness is a
cloud conspicuous chiefly by the widening radiance itself of the morning
on whose brow it hung." Shining traits, qualities, and deeds of New
Englanders in the seventeenth century, including the dwellers at the
Village, no doubt gave widening radiance to the morning of our nation's
day; and the abiding brilliancy of that morning may be what makes your
"witchcraft darkness" far more conspicuous than any in other lands. But it
surely required far other than begulled fathers and begulling daughters to
emit the rays of a morning of such widening radiance as would make
darkness more conspicuous there than elsewhere. That morning owed its
brightness to far other traits than beguiled and beguiling ones. Clear
perceptions of the demands of a creed, of duty to God, of duty to one's
family; prompt, vigorous action in obedience to God's direction and the
king's law when the devil invaded one's home; fearless and untiring
conflict with man's most powerful and malignant foe;--these, and other
powers, qualities, and acts kindred to these, emitted the radiance which
made the blackness of witchcraft more conspicuous at Danvers than
elsewhere in the broad world.

No. Witchcraft did not rage with most marvelous fierceness, end enact its
death-struggle, on your soil because of the weakness, but because of the
strength of your fathers; not because of their cowardice, but of their
courage; not because of their heartlessness and barbarity, but of
tenderness toward their agonized families; not because of lack of faith in
God, but because of faith in him so strong that it could put humaneness
down, and keep it down till God's call to put a witch to death could be

Such properties gave to the morning of the Village an inherent brightness
which first extinguished witchcraft's dismal day, and now harbingers a
brighter one, in which, no civil law molesting, spirits hold mutually
helpful communings with mortals. That momentous and most valuable
privilege was essentially won on your soil in 1692. Nation after nation,
taught by results at the Village, has repealed its obnoxious statutes, and
broad Christendom is the freer and more elevated because of light widely
radiating forth from your "witchcraft darkness."


Our planet, Earth, is yet crude. Its soil, products, emanations, and auras
are coarse and harsh. Though meliorated much since it first gave birth to
man, it is not now fitted to nurture beings as refined as it will be
centuries hence. It is being constantly softened, and is ever progressing
toward the present ripened condition of older planets, whose embodied
inhabitants easily and constantly commune with wise departed kindred, from
whom they receive such instructions and aids as cause them to live in
close harmony with the laws of animal health, and therefore nearly free
from sickness and pains, and, when ripened for release, to pass painlessly
out from their grosser integuments. From the days of remotest history, and
our world over, spirits have often been transiently visible and palpable
by some mortals. But the atmosphere in which humans live is measurably
uncongenial and oppressive to most, and especially to purer and more
advanced spirits; still it becomes less so from century to century, is
ever gaining such conditions as lift a little higher its incarnate
inhabitants, and is less oppressive to those disrobed of flesh. Its
modifications prophesy that time will be when mortals and spirits may here
more comfortably than now intercommune constantly and with mutual benefit.
Terrific mental conflicts--moral tornadoes, agitations to the depths of
society, are used as instruments in advancing earth and its inhabitants to
states which will permit spirits to be our constantly recognized
attendants, and our helpful advisers and guides along the paths of
spiritual progression. Progress is hastened through intense tribulations.

Great changes and advances of either a material, mental, political,
social, or spiritual world are, like births, generally outwrought through
anguish and sufferings. Even the entrance of spirits into mortal forms is
usually painful to both parties. First and earlier reincarnations are
almost necessarily attended by psychological action which forces spirits
severally to manifest, and, moderatedly, to undergo, again their special
sufferings during their last hours of earth-life. Mortals, too, shrink
from, and are agitated by, and afraid of their nearest friends, if
disrobed of flesh. Such fears are repulsive forces, making spirit approach
arduous and often impossible. The boon of return, in most cases, is at the
cost of suffering--but of suffering which pays well--suffering which
purchases joy for both those who come and those who welcome them. Our
earth and all who are born upon it receive or earn many of their greatest
blessings through the sweats of convulsive throes or severe toil. The
abolition of a wide-spread obnoxious creed was terrific in 1692.

In civilized lands extensively, and especially in Protestant Christendom,
possibility of the return of departed good souls from their invisible
abodes has for centuries been doubted. Therefore a most copious source of
valuable instruction and help has been unused. Resort to it has, or had,
become horrific; it has been deemed by men the devil's pool exclusively.
But not so by spirits. Wise and friendly ones, unseen, have long and often
sought and labored for such recognition and welcome, by survivors on
earth, as would render demonstration of spirit presence widely
practicable. Spirits have sought this because they have been seeing that
free and extensive intercommunings between dwellers in flesh and
enfranchised ones might greatly facilitate the advance of both classes in
beneficence and happiness. The immense aid which the earth-embodied
living, and only they, can give to many unhappy ones whom they call dead,
is not yet dreamed of by the public. Knowledge that many departed ones are
obliged to get aid from earth ere they can make an efficient start up the
ladder heavenward, opens a wide and interesting field of labor to those
who have carefully sought to learn the mutual dependences of the seen and
unseen worlds.

The possible advent of instruction from unseen realms is now for the first
time receiving practical demonstration among a people, who, as a whole,
are able and disposed to scan carefully the nature and qualities of the
intelligences who impart it. Prior to 1692, the Christian world had long
been shrinking from conferences with unseen colloquists, deeming all such
diabolical in purpose and influence. Ignorance was mother of its fears.
The present age, more enlightened, more disposed to investigation, more
prone to believe in the reign of law always and everywhere, asks the
hidden teachers who they are, and whence and why and how they gain access
to our homes. Their responses affirm, and each lapsing year of
non-refutation confirms the allegation, that they are spirits now, but
once were mortals robed in flesh; and that they come, some from this
motive, some from that,--some for fun, frolic, and even revenge and wrong;
but more of them to give and to receive the pleasure and happiness which
visits to their former homes and friends will generate, and especially to
make known to their loved ones here the course of life which will best fit
them for joy and happiness in the mansions and scenes of the world to
which they all must come.

The methods of Providence have ever been homogeneous; and now that they
have brought peoples to the dawn of a day when human hospitality is
entertaining angels, not always unawares, but often consciously and
joyfully, the beneficence of the witchcraft scenes at Salem Village,
whereby Christendom's thralldom to a factitious devil was effectually
broken up, becomes conspicuous. Lapsed time reveals probability that the
barbarisms of that day were availed of as instruments for procuring the
freedom which now permits instructive, helpful, and gladdening intercourse
between millions of devout and truth-seeking mortals and bright,
beneficent spirits. What though the agitation of Christendom brings its
latent iniquities and impurities to the surface? What though the
counterparts of publicans, sinners, and harlots float numerously into
view? Ascent of dross and scum to the surface is usually the first product
in processes of clarification. Inexperienced observers are very liable to
regard the unsightly stuff as a sample of all that underlies it. Others,
who better comprehend the cause and object of bringing impurities into
view, observe such first results complacently, knowing that subsequent
effects will be most beneficent--will present purified, and therefore
more precious views of the divine methods of bringing men to
righteousness, and will furnish more efficient helps to man's upward
progression than have been generally applicable heretofore.

Great reformatory truths have seldom been first offered to or received by
the worldly-wise and prudent. Not rulers and Pharisees, but common people,
fishermen, humble women, publicans, sinners, and harlots were numerous
among the first followers of Jesus; and these were the ones who heard him
gladly. Like causes which made it thus of old, operate to-day, and the
supplemental revelations and revealers of our time meet with like
reception as did those centuries ago. It is well. Wide popularity and
affectionate fondling might sap an infant _ism_ of its best health-giving
and reformatory powers. Comprehensive wisdom lets it harden and strengthen
through buffetings with the leaders of prevalent theological and
scientific decisions, opinions, and fashions. The boundless intelligence,
which ever acts for good, is patient and long forbearing. It waits for
seeds of reforms to take deep root in the masses, and thence, in time,
pushes onward the force which overturns dynasties, hierarchies, and all
effete institutions, creeds, and customs which are no longer fruitful of
food suited to cultured man's existing needs.

Savage and barbarous nations, everywhere and always, attain to more or
less faith in the presence and help of ancestral spirits; they seek
instruction from the departed. Broad and perpetual belief in a particular
fact is far from weak evidence of its positive existence. Uncultured minds
admit witnessed facts to be positive occurrences, and affect no need to
comprehend how they are produced before giving assent to their verity. But
the cultured are prone to deny the manifestation of any events whose
transpiration is not referable to the permission of some law whose
operations are familiar. They cannot account for a fact, and therefore it
does not exist, or, as Agassiz said, "it is not in nature." The greatest
of human scientists, however, falls far short of acquaintance with all the
forces and permissions enfolded within boundless, unfathomable,
incomprehensible _nature_. It is dogmatism--not science--which says that
facts observed by the senses of man continuously from the birth of his
race down to now, have had no positive existence.

Law reigns; and we know no law which permits return from beyond the
grave; therefore departed spirits cannot revisit their survivors on earth.
Such is often the position and argument of theology, science, and culture.
But our question to them is, Are you sure that you are acquainted with all
the laws, forces, agents, and permissions in the broad storehouses of
nature? Have you explored all realms in the universe, and qualified
yourselves to maintain that you have definitely learned that no forces
anywhere exist by which things anomalous to human science can be
manifested to human senses? Practically you say, Yes. And doing thus, you
foster and fast extend belief in non-immortality.

Are the results of your course to be lamented? Perhaps not. The oozing out
and disappearance of an old belief, and a consequent state of non-belief,
may be arranged for in the methods of Providence, because the latter state
may be the best possible for the induction of belief founded on
demonstration, where one previously lived which rested upon dogmatic

The skepticism of our generation pertaining to a future life is an
offspring of general and advanced education which asks for proofs as the
only proper foundation for belief. That education has fitted the thinking
masses to demand that teachers shall grapple with and either refute or
adopt sensible facts widely witnessed. Millions upon millions of
Christendom's inhabitants are having sensible demonstration, day by day
and hour by hour, that the spirits of departed mortals make known their
veritable presence among their survivors in mortal forms. They say to the
world's leading minds,--spirit return is a fact in nature: it is made
manifest to our physical senses; we know it to be true. Therefore, ye
sticklers for law and scientific methods, prove to us our mistake if we
are dupes.

During more than five and twenty years we have been putting forth that
call, and you have thus long omitted to give any other response than
dogmatic assertion that the appearances we witness are the productions of
fraud, fancy, delusion, and the like. That is not satisfactory. Our claim
is, that departed spirits of men are working marvels on the earth. That
claim is good till it be shown that the marvelous events witnessed are the
productions of other agents. Each lapsing year strengthens that claim. And
if a check to such materialism as argues that man is devoid of any
property which will consciously survive the death of his body, and if a
positive demonstration of man's survival beyond the tomb, be matters
which the methods of Providence are employed to advance, then the unwonted
numbers of returning spirits recently and now, and the frequency of their
advent, together with the consequent daily and palpable demonstration of a
life beyond the present, come to man most opportunely--come to him both
when vast masses of mortals are prepared so meet and welcome them as
friends and kindred, and also, and significantly, when their presence
impairs the power of bright and leading minds to cause the thinkers of our
age to anticipate annihilation of themselves, their kindred, and their
race, and to suffer loss of the incentives and joys which attend
anticipations of a heaven in advance.

So welcome, efficient, and salutary an advent of invisible actors and
teachers as we witness to-day, seemingly would have been impossible, had
the witchcraft creed of our fathers retained abiding hold upon their
descendants. The methods of Providence seem to have embraced both the
abolition of that creed, and a sufficient lapse of time for the nurture
and culture of a people up to such elevation that a large portion of it
would be fitted and disposed to welcome back departed ones just when their
proved presence would be the great fact at man's command which would
effectually deter advancing and beneficent physical scientists from
inferring and teaching that life's emigrants all take a plunge into the
rayless abyss of nonentity.

A continuous thread of the methods of Providence seems traceable through
many of the darkest and most shocking scenes of human history. Many of
man's greatest advances have been outwrought through anguish and tortures
whose inflictors we reprobate. Is it too much to say that such a thread
ropes in, as instruments of good, Pharaoh, Pontius Pilate, Witchcraft, and
many other notable personages and scenes, which have been made to further
the deliverances of oppressed and suffering mortals? Permission of sins,
sufferings, and wrongs comes from the Infinitely Benevolent.

Fit instrumentality existed at Salem Village for demolishing that special
creed of Christendom which closed and barred the gates that nature hinged
for furnishing a way of egress back from beyond the grave; and wisest and
kindest dwellers above were in mood then to let suffering and anguish
enough come upon mortals there to awaken them out of their deep delusion,
and sway them to set those special gates ajar. They broke the bars; but
dust and rubbish long made a wide opening difficult and arduous. A
century and a half was needed for such liberation of mortals from the
crampings of delusion, and for such exercise of free thought in a land of
free schools, as would educate a nation up to courage which could calmly
ask any mysterious visitant whatsoever, who he was, whence he came, and
what he wanted. In the fullness of time, this could be and was done. When
culture and science were broadly producing conviction that there is no
hereafter for man, one came forth from the land of the departed, knocked
on cottage walls, gained the ear of common people, allured hosts of other
spirits to follow him to human abodes; and the numerous band of returning
ones is now the only host which can effectually stop the hope-crushing
advance of materialism, and furnish the world palpable demonstration of an
hereafter for the souls of men.

In 1692, an unprecedented strain in its application effectually broke up
Christendom's long cherished and indurated delusion that devils unfleshed
and devils incarnate are the only beings who can act and commune across
the line dividing this from the life beyond. That rupture set Christians
free to learn that duty called them to "try the spirits." In time a
generation came who met that duty. Spirits of God--good spirits--as well
as others visit human abodes, and their presence itself is proof positive
of man's survival beyond the grave. Their widely conceded advent seems
divinely opportune, for it occurs when their presence tends forcefully to
check, and promises to stop the prevalent strong tendency of science and
culture to divine that man's doom is drear annihilation. The beneficent
intensity of a special strain upon a specific delusion, nine score years
ago, is due to the strength of faith, character, and action, and to the
unwonted extent and excellency of medianimic instrumentality then existing
at Salem Village, whose conspicuous action and use there made that spot
lastingly memorable; and we deem it just to regard it as a point from
which influences emanated whose fruits to-day are eminent blessings to the
Christian world. The methods of Providence often educe choicest good from
most direful evils.



Christians, when New England witchcraft occurred, generally believed that
it originated with, emanated from, and was controlled by _one_ vast
malignant personality, possessing frightful powers, aspects, and
efficiency. A fair comprehension of what that being was then conceived to
be is needful to anything like accurate knowledge of the origin, growth,
sway, exit, and genuine character of occurrences which outwrought as dire
strifes, horrors, bloodshed, and heart-wrenchings, as any courageous,
intelligent, and conscientious people ever sided forward or suffered

Christendom, in the day of our Puritan forefathers, believed in a devil
peculiar to a few centuries--in one who was of more modern birth than the
Bible or other ancient histories--who was very different from any being
characterized in either Jewish or heathen records of antiquity, and has no
parallel, we trust, in any creed to-day.

Probably many malicious, as well as benevolent, unseen personages exist,
who may often act upon men and their affairs. There may be powerful _evil
ones_, in realms unseen, who there rule over hosts of like dispositions
with themselves. Neither the existence of many devils, nor intermeddling
by them with man's peace and welfare, is called in question.

Authors of the Bible, when using the terms devil, Satan, and others of
similar import, generally designated, as our own age extensively does,
beings very unlike _such_ a devil as was conceived of and dreaded by
Christendom from two to five hundred years ago. Prior to and during the
days of Jesus and his apostles, such terms were often applied to whatever,
in either the visible or the unseen world, tempted or forced men to
wrong-doing, or hindered their progress in goodness. Jesus said to a
disciple, "Get thee behind me, _Satan_;" and this, simply because Peter
was giving him advice more carnal than spiritual, and which was designed
to dissuade Jesus from following the course which his conscience was
prompting him to pursue. The mere giving of unwise advice made Peter _a
Satan_. Turning to 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, you may read that the LORD, being
angry, moved David to number the people. Turning again to 1 Chron. xxi. 1,
you will find a description of the same transaction, in which it is said
that "_Satan_ ... provoked David to number Israel." Therefore, in biblical
language, even the LORD, when angry, was equivalent to Satan. Any accuser,
in a court of justice or equity, might properly have been called a Satan,
in the days of the prophets, for then that term was applicable to any
adversary or opponent, of whatever grade or nature.

Very much later than David's day the word _devil_ frequently had a much
softer meaning than it usually bears now. Jesus said (John vi. 70), "Have
not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is _a devil_?" Having previously
called Peter "Satan," Jesus here called Judas a _devil_. Thus highest
Christian authority spoke of unwise and treacherous men as being Satans
and devils, and thereby showed that those words anciently were sometimes
applied, by the pure and wise, to other beings than one special great
malignant spirit. The devil of modern _witchcraft_ was unknown by Jesus
and by all biblical authors.

Whence, then, since not from the Bible,--whence did Christians of the
seventeenth and some earlier centuries obtain those peculiar conceptions
of him, which made the devil almost counterbalance, in malignity and
monstrosity, the benignity and beauty of the Infinite God? Where did they
find him? So far as we perceive and believe, his like was never
recognized, either outside of Christendom, or prior to the dark ages. No
being verily like him was ever dreaded as an enemy by any other people
than Christians, and not by them till within the last thousand years.
About all that we know is, that he had become huge and frightful at the
time of the Reformation; and our belief is, that morbid fancy, in the
cloisters and monasteries of Europe, through several centuries plied her
limnistic verbal skill, and thereby outlined and blackened piecemeal her
most _outré_ conceptions possible of the lineaments and expressions of a
being as monstrous in shape, as powerful, wily, and malicious, as
imagination could fabricate, and thus gave the Christian world a monk-made
devil--a hideous personification of evil. Lapsing time eventually caused
this cloister-born scarecrow to be looked upon as vitalized malignity
incarnate--as an immortal, ubiquitous personality--as a living fiend of
awful sway and force, who should be watched, feared, and fought by every
God-serving man. We look upon him as a production of human fancy. But not
so did our predecessors. They assigned to their devil of horrid form and
huge dimensions a very different origin and nature.

Where born, and what his nature, according to the belief of those who
imported him to New England shores, are important questions the
appropriate answers to which must be comprehended before one can obtain
just appreciation of the position in which their creed placed our
forefathers, and the direction and force it gave to their action whenever
seeming diabolism not only fearfully disturbed private firesides and
social relations, but threatened tenure of lands, and continued existence
of church and state throughout the colonies.

Their Author of witchcraft was conceived of, believed in, and set forth in
language, as having been heaven-born--a glorious angel once, but apostate
and banished from his native skies;--as one mighty, malignant personality,
almost ubiquitous, almost omniscient, second in power to Almighty God
alone, and nearly His equal. As quoted by Upham, vol. i. p. 390, Wierius,
a learned German physician, described the devil as being one who
"possesses great courage, incredible cunning, superhuman wisdom, the most
acute penetration, consummate prudence, an incomparable skill in vailing
the most pernicious artifices under a specious disguise, and a malicious
and infinite hatred toward the human race, implacable and incurable."--"He
was," says Appleton's N. A. Cyc., "often represented on the stage, with
black complexion, flaming eyes, sulphuric odor, horns, tail, hooked nails,
and cloven hoof." Many of us now living have seen him pictured nearly thus
in some old illustrated editions of the Bible.

But the gifted Milton's comprehensive fancy and lofty diction, exempted,
under poetic license, from adherence to fact or creed, or other enfeebling
restraint, put forth, in masterly and acceptable manner, lineaments and
features appropriate to an embodiment of his highest possible conceptions
of combined majesty, might, and malignity, and thus allured his own and
future ages to bow in awe before a devil who in grandeur far surpassed any
which monkish powers had been able to fabricate and describe. He imputed
to Satan "eyes that sparkling blaz'd; his other parts, besides prone on
the flood, extended long and large lay floating many a rood," ...
"unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage
never to submit or yield," ... "resolve to wage by force or guile eternal
war, irreconcilable to our grand foe, ... ever to do ill our sole delight,
as being the contrary to his high will whom we resist; If then his
providence out of our evil seek to bring forth good, our labor must be to
prevent that end, and out of good still to find means of evil." Such was
the great poet's "Archangel ruined;" nearly such was the prevalent
perception of him by the general mind of Christendom. He was one mighty
Evil Spirit--monarch of all fiends, and an untiring operator for harm to
both the body and soul of man.

Such conceptions were general alike in Europe and America. But still
another view, quite as appalling as any of the foregoing, and appealing
more directly to the temporal interests of men, operated in _America_, and
made it specially needful for all property holders here to contest the
devil's advances. Cotton Mather called the arch mischief-worker "a great
landholder;" and he was spoken of as though conceived to be temporal as
well as spiritual ruler over all Indian tribes and their lands, and also
as being a contester against God and Christ for empire over each and every
part of the American continent where Christians encroached upon his sable
majesty's domains. God and devil--each was a vast and powerful spirit,
exercising sway and dominion widely, as the other would let him; and these
two mighty spiritual Rulers were often struggling in sharp conflict of
doubtful issue for empire over particular portions of the earth. The
Devil--and such a devil too--occupied much space not only in the theology
and philosophy of the learned, but also in the daily and worldly thoughts
of the common colonists.

Upham has forcefully and truthfully said (vol. i. p. 393), that our
fathers "were under an impression that the devil, having failed to prevent
progress of knowledge in Europe, had abandoned his efforts to obstruct it
effectually there; had withdrawn into the American wilderness, intending
here to make a final stand; and had resolved to retain an undiminished
empire over the whole continent and his pagan allies, the native
inhabitants. Our fathers accounted for the extraordinary descent, and
incursions of the Evil One among them, in 1692, on the supposition "that
it was a desperate effort to prevent them from bringing civilization and
Christianity within his favorite retreat; and their souls were fired with
the glorious thought, that, by carrying on the war with vigor against him
and his confederates, the witches, they would become chosen and honored
instruments in the hands of God for breaking down and abolishing the last
stronghold on the earth of the kingdom of darkness."

This mighty Devil, commander-in-chief of the countless hosts of all the
devils, demons, satans, Indians, heathen, sinners in, above, upon, or
around earth,--this mighty contester for dominion with God and Christ and
all good Christians, was conceived to be author of all works called
witchcrafts, producing them through human beings who had voluntarily made
a covenant to serve him, and who resided in the midst of the people whom
he molested; for we shall soon see that the philosophy of those times
permitted him no other possible access to man than through persons who
were in covenant with himself.

Any covenanter with such a devil, that is, any wizard or witch, could be
regarded by the public as nothing less formidable than a voracious wolf
burrowing within the Christian sheepfold, who, if not at once unearthed
and slain, would either actually devour, or frighten away from their
pasturing grounds, all those with their descendants who had crossed the
ocean to feed on the hills and vales of America. Our fathers felt that the
possession and value of their homes and lands, as well as the temporal
peace and prosperity of the community, its religious privileges, and the
salvation of human souls, were at stake in a witchcraft conflict. Their
faith, their interests temporal and spiritual, their manhood, and all that
was brave, strong, and good in them, called upon them to face boldly even
such a devil as has been described above, and to fight him by any
processes which had been tried and approved in Europe; the chief of which
was, to seize his covenanted servants--his guns--and silence them promptly
and permanently. Witches must die!


Creed-makers before the Reformation conceived, what is probably true, that
natural barriers at all times have effectually debarred even the mightiest
devil, as well as each and all of his disembodied imps, from coming
directly into such close contact with a human body, or any other material
object, as enabled them to produce effects perceptible by man's physical
senses. Being themselves spirits, whether primarily earth-born or foreign,
devils could effect direct access to, and could harm the minds and souls
of men, and, unaided by mortals, could incite human beings to evil actions
and self-debasement, while yet, so long as they were unaided by voluntary
human alliance, they were absolutely unable to act upon matter--unable to
subject human forms to fits, twitchings, tumblings, transformations,
sicknesses, pains, &c., such as the bewitched of old experienced, and such
as await many mediumistic persons to-day. Devils, formerly, and spirits
now, to make the effects of their powers observable, or to make themselves
felt by men's external senses, usually must act first and directly upon
the equivalent to such nervous fluid or aura as enables man's mind to
actuate his own body. Any disembodied spirit, of whatsoever grade or
character, may be, and probably is, seldom able to command that
intermediate aura--or that _something_--excepting when in or near an
animal organism which possesses those properties or conditions, whatever
they are, which render a person mediumistic. Constructors of the
witchcraft creed probably had learned that nature always and everywhere
makes matter intangible by spirit directly, and they thence inferred that
the devil could never get into close contact with human bodies without the
aid of some spirit, or of appendages to some spirit, who holds living
alliance with matter, and consequently has in or around itself nervous
fluid, or its equivalent, which is usable by mind not its own--is
loanable, or at least liable to be abstracted.

Transpiring observation now quite distinctly perceives that control of
human organisms by disembodied spirits is usually attended by conditions
fundamentally analogous to an antecedent covenant. The old creed-makers
may have reasoned from facts of experience and observation much more
generally and logically than the present age imagines. No special desire
is felt, and we do not see that any special obligation rests upon us, to
palliate the doings of those monastics who in dark ages both fabricated
and shackled the devil of witchcraft. Still we do not begrudge them such
justification as may flow out that passing facts. We have already stated
the probability that nature makes physical man intangible by spirits
directly. Because of protracted observations of their doings, we assume
that spirits are able to read at a glance the properties of each form to
which they give special attention, and are at no loss to determine what
organisms are controllable by them when conditions are all favorable. One
and an important condition is, absence of resistance to control by the
mind to which the susceptible organism pertains. The genuine owner
generally _can_ withhold his or her nervous fluids, or auras, or those
properties, of whatever kind or name, which a spirit must use in the
controlling process; and, consequently, _a quasi agreement_, amounting at
least to acquiescence on the part of the medium, is generally a necessary
preliminary to any modern spirit-manifestation, especially with mediums
not much accustomed to be controlled.

When and where belief prevailed that all disembodied spirits who ever
actuated human forms were the devil or his imps, the inference that those
whom he and his controlled had entered into an agreement with _him_, was
natural and almost necessary. For an agreement or consensus between a
controlling spirit and the will of the person controlled is very common
now, and, no doubt, has been in all past ages. The assumption, however,
which seems to have been prevalent formerly, that such consensus involved
eternal reciprocal obligation between the devil and a human soul, or the
sale of that soul to the Evil One, could not be required or suggested by
any facts perceivable by modern observation. No doubt each successive use
of properties of a particular body by an intelligence from outside itself,
generally enables the foreign spirit subsequently to manage that body with
increasing ease to itself, and with more satisfaction probably to both
parties; and the practice, if mutually pleasurable, renders prolonged
co-operation probable; but co-operation for a time imposes no obligation
or necessity that the parties shall remain forever conjoined. Common use
of the same magnetism, nervous elements, or whatever they use in common,
may tend to make a spirit and a mortal assimilate in their tastes,
emotions, motives, and characters. This co-operation may evoke such
sympathy between them, that each may often be drawn to the of other's aid,
and conjointly they may manifest both physical and mental powers which
neither could put forth alone. And it is possible that a liberated spirit
may be so linked in sympathy with numerous other spirits, that the joint
powers of many are at his service, so that through a single human form
there may be manifested to the outer world the effects of the combined
forces of legions of ascended spirits, either good or bad, in one
accordant band.

Obviously, spiritual beings, of whatever quality, are generally dependent,
for any manifestation to the outer world, on one or more of a class of
mortals possessing special properties or susceptibilities. Nature seems to
impose such necessity. She does not let even man's own spirit act upon his
stable body directly, but through something evanescent before microscope
and scalpel.


Perhaps, and probably, the direst and most disastrous of all deluding
misconceptions by our forefathers--the one which engendered, nurtured, and
intensified the greatest evils of witchcraft--was, that neither their huge
devil, nor any subordinate fiendish spirit, could get access to external
nature and human bodies through any other avenue than some man, woman, or
child, who had already _voluntarily made an explicit agreement with him or
his to be his obedient and faithful servant, in consideration of helps and
favors which the devil promised to bestow in requital_. When such a
covenant had been ratified by signature in the devil's book, written with
the blood of the mortal party, then forthwith the devil and his hosts
thereby became subject to his new servant's call, and the servant to the
devil's summons, so that either could command the powers of both for
co-operation in the execution of any malice or deviltry whatsoever, and
upon any designated individual. The assumed fact that the devil could use
the faculties and properties of no human being who had not expressly
covenanted with him, conjoined with belief that he must have the voluntary
help of some human being whenever he molested men, was the specially
murderous ingredient of faith which impelled good and humane men on to
copious shedding of innocent blood. The making of that covenant, and
thereby opening an aperture for the devil's entrance through nature's
barrier, and thus admitting a wolf into the Christian fold, who otherwise
could not possibly have entered, constituted the essence of the crime of
witchcraft. That covenanting act made the covenanting man or woman a
wizard or a witch; and God had said, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to


The custom is humane and equitable which permits the accused to be heard
in their own behalf. It is a common saying, that even the prisoner now at
our bar is always entitled to his due and we cheerfully grant him
opportunity to defend himself. Under his alias, Satan, and using a
cultured Englishman as his amanuensis, he has recently favored the world
with his autobiography; in which he says,--

"I am a power. I am a power under God, and as such I perform a task which,
however unlovely and however painful, is destined to put forward God's
wise and benignant purposes for the good of man.... I am an image of the
evil that is in man, arising from his divinely-given liberty of moral
choice. That evil I discipline and correct, as well as represent; and so I
am also a divine school-master to bring the world to God. My origin is
human, my sphere of action earthly, my final end dissolution. Evil must
cease when good is universal. While, then, I cannot boast of a heavenly
birth, I disown fiendish dispositions. Worse than the worst man I cannot
be. I am indeed a sort of mongrel, born, bred, reared, and nurtured of
human fancy, folly, and fraud. As such I possess a sort of quasi
omnipresence and a quasi omniscience, for I exist wherever man exists,
and, dwelling in human hearts, know all that men think, feel, and do.
Hence I have power to tempt and mislead; and that power, when in my worst
moods, I am pleased to exercise.... I am a personification of the dark
side of humanity and the universe.... I exist in every land, and occupy a
corner in every human heart.... I am the child of human speculation: I
came into existence on the first day that man asked himself, 'Whence this
world in which I live and of which I am a part?'"[1]

    [1] The Autobiography of Satan, edited by John R. Beard, D. D.,
    London, 1872.

The frankness, perspicuity, definiteness, and point, taken in connection
with the calm, earnest tone, and gentle, candid spirit in which his then
placid Majesty dictated that account of himself to his Reverend scribe,
win our credence, and induce us to believe he utters only the simple truth
when he describes himself as "a personification of the dark side of
humanity and the universe,"--as one who "cannot boast of a heavenly
birth," but was "born, bred, and nurtured of human fancy, folly, and
fraud,"--as possessing "a sort of quasi omnipresence and a quasi
omniscience," existing "wherever man exists, ... dwelling in human
hearts," knowing "all that men think, feel, and do," having power "to
tempt and mislead," and, in his "worst moods, is pleased to exercise" that
power. Such a Satan, or devil, no doubt exists. But, though we admit that
he was a mighty impersonal power in the midst of witchcraft scenes, he was
vastly different from the heaven-born "Archangel fallen," whom the good
people of New England believed in, feared, and supposed themselves to be
fighting against.

A personification of the principle of evil, or "of the dark side of
humanity and the universe," is the only devil who is simultaneously
present with the whole human race. But hosts of unseen
personalities--earth-born, expanded, wily, malignant, and powerful--may
act upon man, and bands of such may be subservient to some abler ones of
their kind, who reign over them as princes of the dark powers of the air.
Malignant departed mortals are the only disembodied personal devils who
molest mankind. We believe in _many_ devils, but not in Christendom's
witchcraft chief _One_.

The devil of our fathers, though but a fiction, was chief cause of
witchcraft's woes, and therefore merits attention first, in any attempt to
subject that matter to new analysis.


Demonology--intercourse with demons--implies dealings with spiritual
personalities; but these may be either good or bad, and may consist
wholly, or only in part, of departed human beings, provided there be any
other grade of spirits residing in, or able to enter, earth's spirit
spheres: probably there are not.

In earlier ages, these demons were often deemed to be intermediate
messengers and links facilitating intercourse between mortals on earth and
most eminent gods above. That idea, somewhat qualified, is having revival
now in the minds of those who are receiving from their departed friends
instructions and influences which allure humans heavenward. In the olden
faith, demon was used to designate a spirit who might be good; and
demonology, then, far from being branded as DIABOLISM, or dealings with
one great Devil and his special devotees, was generally deemed not only
innocent, but helpful;--as much so as man's communings to-day with either
his disembodied kindred and friends, or with benighted, forlorn, and
anguished souls who seek needed encouragement and solace, which they can
obtain from none other than an earthly source, are deemed helpful by those
loving and philanthropic men and women who take active part in similar
demonological interviews now. Bad as demonology seems at this day, when
the word has come to suggest dealings with bad and demoralizing spirits
alone, time was, when both it and necromancy, or intercourse with the
dead, could be legitimately applied to such interviews as Jesus had with
Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration; and therefore then might
have imported communings that would spiritualize and elevate whoever
experienced its operations. Strictly, there are no dead. Moses and Elias
were living personages when seen by Jesus. Socrates, and many another
ancient and wise teacher, drew much profound wisdom and inspiration from
out the vailed recesses of demonology and necromancy, and the example of
such wise and good men of old has practical imitation by the
spiritually-minded and philanthropic disciples of modern communicators
living in supernal spheres.


Very great difference existed between the witchcraft of Bible times and
that of Christendom fifteen hundred years after John recorded the
Revelation. The difference was almost as marked as that between the devils
of those two periods.

The word witch seems primarily to mean, "a _knowing_ one," and perhaps has
always hinted at knowledge or power acquired by some mysterious method.
Witch has generally meant, not only a _knowing one_, but also any person
who gets knowledge or help by processes which are mysterious. Witch_craft_
has been the utterance of knowledge, or the application of power, thus
obtained. But neither all such utterance, nor all such application of
force, was, in biblical times, called witchcraft. Far, very far different
from that. Daniel, Ezekiel, and John the Revelator, all obtained knowledge
mysteriously from the lips of departed men; their promulgation of it,
however, was not called _witchcraft_, but the _word of God_.

Neither do the Scriptures speak of the woman of Endor as a witch or
practicer of witchcraft, though she had both a familiar spirit, and such
clairvoyant powers that at her call Samuel rendered himself visible by
her; and he either used her organs of speech, or impressed her to use
them, in utterance of rebukes to Saul and prediction of his coming fate.
This was not biblical _witchcraft_; though, departing from biblical
precedent, the modern world has fallen into the habit of calling the woman
of Endor a _witch_, while that epithet is not applied to her in the Bible.

His lawgiver said to Moses, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live;" but
if that teacher furnished any very clear definition of either witch or
witchcraft, it has not come down to us. Tempting to _spiritual whoredom_,
so far as we can determine, constituted the crime of witchcraft among the
Jews. The people of Israel were regarded as being _wedded_ to the God of
Abraham; therefore persons who by _signs_, by marvelous utterances and
acts, tempted Jews to be false to their marriage relations with their God,
were witches. The crime of witchcraft was not involved in simply putting
forth knowledge, signs, and wonders by the help of familiar spirits,
because prophets and apostles often did that when they put forth "the
word of God." Witchcraft was application of supernal knowledge and powers
for the special purpose of seducing and tempting people to worship Moloch,
or some other god of the heathen. (See Lev. xx. 5, 6.) Bible witchcraft
was _use of mysterious acquisitions in teaching_ HERESY.


In the seventeenth century, much of the biblical import of witch and
witchcraft, as well as of demon, had been either perverted or dropped, and
belief was prevalent, especially outside of the Catholic Church, that none
but _evil_ spirits could come to men; and also that "the days of miracles,
or special manifestation directly from the Almighty, had ceased." Then,
too, a personal devil, heaven-born but apostate, and perhaps also myriads
of other heaven-born but rebellious and banished angels, could, and only
such base spirits could, get access to our external world; and they could
effect entrance only through human beings who voluntarily consented and
agreed to co-operate with them. It will be apparent on future pages, that
any spirit then seen by clairvoyant eyes, whatever the sex, form,
features, complexion, or aspect, was either the devil himself, or some
apparition formed and presented by him or his, and he was held responsible
for its presentation. Our fathers attained to and held firm conviction
that all channels for inspirations and mighty works, available since the
days of Jesus and his apostles, were avenues for the influx of none but
poisonous waters. This was a sad mistake; for, could they have perceived
the groundlessness of their faith that supernal springs of truth, purity,
and benevolence had been dammed against the emission of good waters
earthward,--groundlessness of their belief that the possibility and
feasibility of such works and inspirations as they called miracles had
ever been restricted by anything but natural conditions,--that perception
would have rendered it apparent to themselves that they ought to make
wizards of Abraham and Lot, of Moses and Samuel, of Daniel, Ezekiel, and
John the Revelator, since each one of those communed with spirits.

Our American predecessors in the seventeenth century believed it
impossible that good spirits could come to man from bright
abodes,--doubted perhaps, perhaps disbelieved, that departed men and women
ever did return to earth, excepting "by the immediate agency of the
Almighty;" and their writings and actions justify us in saying, that with
them, _witchcraft was injection of occult forces and teachings upon man,
through consenting mortals, for malicious purposes solely, and by
invisible intelligences_.


Perplexing diversity prevails among users of English language in their
application of the terms spirit and soul. Some regard spirit as only a
fine, invisible robe of the essential man; while others speak of soul as
the robe and spirit as the man who wears it. Our own custom has been to
regard soul as _the man_, and spirit as his under-garment during
earth-life, and his outer one, if he shall have more than one, when he
shall put off his present outer. This view is not novel. The sometimes
clairvoyant Paul stated that there is a natural or outer, and a spiritual
or inner body--yes, _body_. Opened inner eyes to-day often see
spirit-forms pervading the outer forms of people around them. Their
observations are in harmony with the apostle's declaration.

The essential nature of spirit is all unknown by us. Whether matter,
spirit, and soul are but different combinations and conditions of like
primal elements, we are utterly incompetent to determine. Practically we
accept, what is probably a common notion, that matter and soul differ
fundamentally; and, having done that, we are unable to identify spirit
with either of them elementally. Therefore, without any definite
conceptions as to its inherent alliances, we speak of it as possibly
something between the other two--_a tertium quid_. Thought regards it as
the substance of worlds unspeakably finer than material planets. Spirit,
in mass, is not a living, conscious entity, any more than matter is; but
is a finer than gossamer substance, capable, like matter, of becoming
organized, and growing into a living enrobement of the soul--enrobement of
that which constitutes the on-living man through all changes of vestiture.
Such is our present conjecture.

We apprehend that a world whose elemental substance is spirit both
pervades and surrounds this material one--a world, we will say for the
purpose of indicating our thought, composed of spirit matter. The
invisibility and impalpability of such spirit substance are no conclusive
refutation of its existence in and around us perpetually. Who sees
electricity, magnetism, gravitation, attraction, cohesion, repulsion? Who
sees either mind, or the force by which an aching toe reports to the brain
and excites the sympathy of the whole organism? Many things are about us,
and yet known only in their perceptible phenomena. Spirit substance may be
all about us; the spirit world may be in, through, upon, and around the
material one. Many manifestations hint at the existence of an
all-permeating something, which--since the word is shorter than
atmosphere, and not so liable perhaps to be suggestive of palpable
matter--we will call _aura_, that contains and furnishes the elements out
of which spirit _bodies_ are formed, elements of the solid globe on which
spirits live, and also is the medium of sight, sound, touch, and all
sensation to man's spiritual or inner organism even now and here. A soul,
encased within a body elaborated from and within that aura, may, when and
where conditions favor, live, move freely, and be happy, whether near the
fireside of its former earthly mansion, in earth's atmosphere above and
around us, in the earth below our feet, under and in the waters of ocean,
in the heavens over us, or _wherever thought can go_. It gives body to
thought itself. Brick walls and granite mountains may be no hindrances to
its movements, or its freedom and power to see, act, and enjoy. All such
powers and privileges probably pertain to us as spirits, even while
residents in these outer forms, provided only we can effect temporary
disentanglements from the outer, as is often done by or for the highly
mediumistic. And yet, so long as the two bodies of a human being retain
their ordinary conjunction, something not yet well understood, generally
either keeps the spirit senses from cognizable contact with what is
conceived to be their native aura, and therefore holds them seemingly
embryonic, or it keeps the exterior consciousness of most persons from
perceptions of many things which inner senses may be latently

A broad survey of mediumistic phenomena raises the question, whether the
inner powers of mediums--now in this life, and daily--see, hear, and learn
any more of spiritual things than do the inner powers of others, or
whether the chief difference between the mediumistic and others is that
the inner faculties of mediums are enabled, in consequence of some
peculiarity in relative strength between the outer and inner or in the
attachments between the two sets of organs, to report to the outer
consciousness, and thus let their outer faculties perceive and report what
the inner have cognized, while in the mass of mankind such process is not

The young servant of Elisha (2 Kings vi. 17) was unable to see spirit
hosts upon the hills about Dothan, which were visible to his master; but
"Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may
see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and,
behold, the mountain was full of horses, and chariots of fire round about
Elisha." The prophet did not ask that his young man should be endowed with
any new organs of vision, but only for the opening of such as he already
possessed. As soon as those visual organs in him, which could be reached
and illumined by spirit aura, came into action of which he became
conscious, the young man beheld spiritual beings; which beings, since the
prophet had been seeing them all the time, were obviously as near and as
visible before as after the prayer. Some spirit perhaps ejected spirit
force upon the young man in such way as helped internal perceptions to
impress themselves on his external consciousness. Spirits frequently throw
some invisible aura with perceptible force upon the external eyes of
modern mediums, when these sensitives are being brought into condition for
conscious discernment of spirits. Whether the object be to awaken new
vision, or simply to impress existing internal vision upon the outer
consciousness, is yet an unanswered question. Perhaps each in different

Possibly an actual discernment of earth-emancipated intelligences by our
inner organs, especially in our hours of sleep, occurs frequently with
most human beings; that is, the "inward man," or inner consciousness, of
each mortal may be well acquainted now with many spirits and spirit
scenes, so that, upon liberation from the flesh, emerging spirits may find
themselves among acquaintances and at home. With some
individuals--especially with prophetic and otherwise mediumistic
ones--their knowledge, gained through sensations experienced by the inner
faculties, is sometimes brought to and impresses itself upon the outer
consciousness, and becomes to palpably operative that those individuals
are deemed inspired, for they speak as never _man_--that is, as the
outward man--spake.

Either physical peculiarities, or peculiar relations between the outer or
natural and the inner or spiritual bodies, more than the quantum of either
mental or moral developments, seem to be the requisites for facile
mediumship. That view is often set forth in statements made by spirits,
and is rendered probable by observation of many facts. Mediumistic
proclivities run much in families, about as much as musical ones do; and
the capabilities for either mediumistic or musical performances are
measurably constitutional and transmissible. Moses, Aaron, and their
sister Miriam, all prophesied, or were mediums of communications from the
realm of spirits. In our antecedent pages it appears that four children of
John Goodwin,--that three noble, adult, and married sisters, Nurse, Easty,
and Cloyse, living apart from each other, whose mother had been called a
witch,--that Sarah Good and her little daughter Dorcas, five years
old,--that Mrs. Ann Putnam and her daughter Ann, and that Martha Carrier
and four of her children, were mediumistic. We can add to the list seven
sons of Seva, and four daughters of Philip, in apostolic times.
Constitutional properties, combinations, or endowments, differing from
such as are most common in the make-up of man, pertain to such persons as
are or can be the most plastic mediums. In many people, the organized
properties of their physical or mental structures, or of both these, and
the relations of such properties to each other, and their mutual action,
become, at times, so modified by severe sickness, proximate drownings,
protracted fastings, sudden frights, intense griefs, by use of
anæsthetics, narcotics, and stimulants, and from many other causes, that
those to whom the properties belong become temporarily mediumistic, though
they be not observably or consciously such in their more normal states.
The most common, and the more mildly acting agents or instrumentalities of
such change, and those which produce the more abiding effects, are
magnetic emanations and psychological influences from the positively
mediumistic acting upon relatively negative systems. Such emanations may
be seed originating new, or fertilizers quickening and expanding existing,
inward growths.

Emanuel Swedenborg was, prior to and independently of his marked spiritual
illumination late in life, one of the most erudite and illustrious
scientists of the last century, and, being a truthful, conscientious,
devout man, trained to accuracy of observation and statement, he was
admirably fitted for a reporter to the external world, of facts which came
under his observation as an observer in spirit realms; and we take from
his works the following short extracts, which have some bearing upon the
topic just presented.

"Man loses nothing by death, but is still a man in all respects.... Many
are bewildered after death by finding themselves in a body, in garments,
and in houses, ... some had believed that men after death would be as
ghosts, specters of which they had heard."

"The will and understanding ... are two _organic_ forms, ... forms
organized from the purest substances. It is no objection that their
organization is not manifest to the eye, being interior to sight.... How
can love and wisdom act upon what is not a substantial existence? How else
can thought inhere?"


Teachers unseen, speaking back to the world they have gone from, often say
that, when here, they possessed two _bodies_--one of which is entombed
below, while in the other they went forth and still abide; they say also
that they possessed two mental systems and a double consciousness, one
only of which survives. Quite recently, science, pressing forward in
explorations, obtained perceptions of this latter fact. In his eighth
lecture on the "Method of Creation," given May 1, 1873, and reported in
the New York Tribune, the eminent Agassiz spoke as follows:--

"Are all mental faculties one? Is there only one kind of mental power
throughout the whole animal kingdom, differing only in intensity and range
of manifestation? In a series of admirable lectures, given recently in
Boston by Dr. Brown-Séquard, he laid before his audience _a new philosophy
of mental powers_. Through physiological experiments, combined with a
careful study and comparison of pathological cases, he has come to the
conclusion that there are _two sets_, or a double set, of mental powers in
the human organism, or acting through the human organism, essentially
different from each other. The one may be designated as our ordinary
conscious intelligence; the other as a superior power which controls our
better nature, solves, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly, nay, even in
sleep, our problems and perplexities, suggests the right thing at the
right time, acting through us without conscious action of our own, though
susceptible of training and elevation. Or perhaps I should rather say, our
own organism may be trained to be a more plastic instrument through which
this power acts in us.

"I do not see why this view should not be accepted. It is in harmony with
facts as far as we know them. The experiments through which my friend Dr.
Brown-Séquard has satisfied himself that the subtle mechanism of the human
frame, about which we know so little in its connection with mental
processes, is sometimes acted upon by a power outside of us as familiar
with that organization as we are ignorant of it, are no less acute than
they are curious and interesting."

Many persons, including the author of these pages, more than twenty years
ago found among "phenomena called spiritual," many which seemed
imperatively to demand a broadening of the base of any mental philosophy
which the world at large had presented to their notice, and apprehended
that light was dawning amid the dark work of spirits, which might reveal
to man more knowledge than he had ever obtained both of his own mysterious
structure, and of his relations to and possible intercourse with his
predecessors on earth. Many, perceiving this, have held on prosecuting
such observations, and drawing such conclusions as their opportunities and
powers permitted, undeterred by sneers and cold shoulders; and such now
spontaneously hail with joy the arrival of the world's most advanced
scientists at "_a new philosophy of mental powers_;" such a philosophy,
too, as manifestations well scrutinized have long been indicating would
some day be based on the firm foundation of proved facts, and become a
blessing to our race. Both spiritualism and science, by distinct routes,
have reached a common point, and each testifies to the other's discovery
of a new world _in_ man.

"The subtle mechanism of the human frame, about which we know so little in
its connection with mental processes, _is sometimes acted upon by a power
outside of us as familiar with that organism as we are ignorant of it, ...
acting through us without conscious action of our own, though susceptible
of training or elevation_." Such is the conclusion of Dr. Brown-Séquard,
which is indorsed by Agassiz. Backed by such authority, one may very
courageously move forward in efforts to show that the very structure of
man through all ages may have permitted certain human forms to have been
controlled and used by intelligent powers outside of themselves, and
without conscious action of their own, that is, without consciousness on
the part of the individual minds to which those bodies naturally
pertained. Such facts are guide-boards designating pathways along which
producers of prophetic, witchcraft, and spiritualistic phenomena can reach
standing-points for speech and action perceptible by men's external
senses; these facts are keys, too, that will unlock many chambers of
mystery, and we have used them in searches among the records of

Those eminent savants do not state, and therefore we shall not maintain,
that the outside power they refer to is spirits of former occupants of
human bodies; but since that power "is as familiar with the human organism
as we are ignorant of it," the language surely implies reference to _some
intelligent_ power, for its familiarity with the organism is that of
_knowledge_, the acquisition of which is contrasted with our _ignorance_.
To whom can they refer, if not to spirits of some grade?

The nature of things contains provision for temporary reincarnations of
some departed spirits in the physical forms of some peculiarly organized
and endowed human beings. This fact is important, and should be borne in
mind during a perusal of the present work.


We are reluctant to use the word "miracle" because of its liability to be
construed as designating not only an act performed directly by an Almighty
One, but also that, in performing it, He acts "contrary to the established
constitution and course of things;" which course we believe was never
adopted. Therefore we shall use "marvel," to designate all works which
have seemed to require more than human power, and have been understood to
be "more than natural."

Such A MARVEL _is a result from application of powerful occult forces
which man neither comprehends nor can manage_.

SPIRITUALISM is phenomena resulting from use of occult forces and
processes by invisible, departed human spirits.

Most genuine spiritual phenomena are marvels; but there may be, and may
have been in witchcraft-scenes, marvels which spirits did not produce. We
left out from the definition of marvel, necessity for an _intelligent_
operator. Impersonal influxes to many mediums may at times produce many
things which are often ascribed to personal spirits.

Our broad definition lets the word marvel cover all supernal revelations
and inspirations from any god, spirit, or the impersonal spirit
realms,--all angel or spirit presence ever perceived by man,--all mighty
works, signs, and wonders ever wrought through prophets, apostles,
magicians, sorcerers, and the like,--all promptings, helps, and works by
spirits called "familiar,"--all necromancies, witchcrafts, &c., &c. As a
natural philosophy, our subject embraces all these. Its moral or religious
aspects do not come under special consideration in the course of inquiry
which is pursued by us. Spiritualism--as evolvements by finite unseen
intelligences, using none other than natural forces, however occult,
acting in subserviency to natural laws and nice conditions--has its
rightful place with whatever has come forth from action of intra-mundane
or supra-mundane forces and agents.

Hidden intelligences in all ages and lands have had credit for performing
in man's presence many "mighty works," and for making revelations from the
world unseen. Over the whole earth formerly, and over the larger part of
it now, such intelligences have been and are deemed to be of all
characters and grades, from very unfolded, pure, and benevolent beings,
down to the ignorant, corrupt, and malignant. But our Puritan ancestry on
this continent had inherited and brought hither with them a firm,
unqualified belief that no other spirits but evil ones could, or at least
that none but such would, operate among the Christian dwellers on New
England soil. The mysterious workers and their doings were here
excessively diabolized by the monstrous creed previously described, which
prevailed all through Christendom during the seventeenth and some prior
centuries, so that signs, wonders, and mighty works among our ancestors
assumed forms, characters, and horrors which were never known among Jews,
Christians, or heathen of old, and do not revive in our own times. There
was then lacking here any conjecture that the same laws which in Job's
time permitted Satan to mingle in company with the sons of God, might
permit a son of God--a good spirit--to traverse the paths along which the
sons of the devil--bad spirits--made approaches to the children of men.
Moses, Elias, Samuel, and John's brother prophet were forgotten. We
apprehend that facts of history teach beyond all successful refutation
that spirits of some quality acted upon and through many persons in the
American colonies during the latter half of the seventeenth century. Our
fathers were not mistaken as to that fact; but their inhospitable and
fierce slamming of doors in the faces of these visitants provoked terrible
retaliations. One leading object of this work is to refute the position of
intervening historians, that no disembodied spirits whatsoever had any
hand in producing American witchcraft.


The historian Hutchinson said, "the Indians were supposed to be worshipers
of the devil, and their powows to be wizards." Such supposition by the
mind of Christendom intensified fears and ruthless acts on American soil
more than elsewhere, whenever suspicion of witchcraft was engendered.
America was then understood to be peculiarly the domain of the Evil One,
and all its pagan inhabitants were regarded as his devoted adherents.
Thence his followers here were deemed to be more numerous and formidable
than elsewhere, and therefore his invasion was more to be dreaded on this
than on the other side of the Atlantic.

We must impute a considerable portion of witchcraft horrors to such narrow
and cramping religious views and feelings among our fathers, as made all
men everywhere seem to them not only outcasts from God, but also
associates with Satan, who did not possess their special creed, and
worship by their processes. They practically forgot that all men, of all
nations and tribes, are the offspring of the Unknown God, whom Paul
declared to the Athenians; and also that his paternal beneficence extends
to his children everywhere, and draws them toward him by methods suited to
their circumstances, capacities, and needs, and consequently that all
religious creeds and all modes and forms of worship may be helpful to
those who possess and use them.

History, literature, and public belief, pertaining to the religious
practices of North American Indians, so far as we remember, have very
uniformly ascribed to them something closely resembling communings and
consultations with invisible intelligences. Such religious services are,
and ever have been, rendered in all those primitive tribes the world over
concerning whom we have attained to anything like accurate knowledge. (See
Primitive Culture, by Edward B. Tylor.) Ethnology proves that belief in
the presence of spirits--and, generally, belief in the access of ancestral
spirits--exists among man everywhere in the nations lowest of all in
culture, and survives in them as they rise in development. Dr. Bentley
declared that "the agency of invisible beings, if not a part of every
religion, is not contrary to any one." Hutchinson, as quoted above, says,
"The Indians were supposed to be worshipers of _The Devil_, and their
powows to be wizards."

No question is raised that such a supposition pertaining to Indian worship
was prevalent in the New England mind down to the close of the seventeenth
century. Nor can we doubt that untruthfully the Puritans charged the
aborigines with worshiping the one great Devil of Puritan Diabolism,
because of our conviction that the red men were in fact communing with
their ancestral and numerous other friendly spirits. The white man's
erroneous conception that his devil was the red man's god, had no small
influence upon public action in witchcraft times. The idea that their
devil had for backers all the aborigines of the continent, made him a more
formidable foe than he otherwise would have been, and intensified the
ruthlessness of the whites in their persecutions of those of their own
complexion and households who were believed to have made a compact to
serve the Evil One. Perhaps a modern instance may exhibit with much
clearness the real nature of Indian worship in former ages.

We quote from the Washington Chronicle, early in the year 1873, what is
there ascribed to General O. O. Howard, who is often called the _Christian
Soldier_. He, as commissioner from the American government, had, unarmed
and with but two attendants, penetrated the fastnesses of the mountains,
made his way to the home of the Appache Indians and to the presence of
their fierce chief, Cochise. After council with the Appaches, "they had,"
as General Howard writes, "an Appache prayer-meeting, ... one Indian after
another would pray or speak.... Cochise's talks were apparently the most
authoritative;... I could hear him name Stagalito, meaning Red Beard. I
knew from this that our whole case was being considered in their way _in
the Divine Presence_ either of the God of the earth, or of His spirits;
and surely these were solemn moments, ... fortunately the spirits were on
our side." These words indicate very clearly the nature of that devil whom
modern Indian powows worship: they make him on one occasion neither more
nor less than the ascended chief Stagalito, associated with other spirits
of the same nature. Can there be a doubt that Hutchinson misrepresented
the fact, if he meant to call the Indian communings with spirits a
worshiping of that monstrous being whom the word "_Devil_," uttered
through clerical lips, or recorded by intelligent pens, in early colonial
times, was intended and understood to describe? We think not. There was
neither truth nor justice in the supposition that the red men were
devil-worshipers at the times when they were consulting departed spirits;
nor in the presumption that their mediums--their powows--were wizards.
False epithets do not convert any sincere worship, performed even by the
rudest of the rude, into a bad act. Those Indians of two centuries ago, as
judged by us now, had truer conceptions and better knowledge of spirit
intercourse with mortals, and of the fit methods of obtaining useful
incentives and help from spirit realms, than had their Christian
neighbors, who misunderstood and blindly maligned the devotions offered to
the Great Spirit by his children in the forests. The Indians, to the best
of their ability, worshiped Him who is the common Father of all men of
every hue and condition. They sought access to the Great Spirit, our God
as well as theirs, through communings with their ancestral and other
spirits. But the supposition that they worshiped such a being as the devil
of Christendom, is obviously incorrect.

Cotton Mather said that "the Indians generally acknowledged and worshiped
_many_ GODS; therefore greatly esteemed and reveres their _priests_,
powows or wizards, who were esteemed as having immediate converse with the
gods." Rev. Mr. Higginson, of Salem, said the Indians in that vicinity "do
worship two gods--a good and an evil." Mather and Higginson are better
authority on this point than Hutchinson. Those denizens of the impressive
forests were nature-taught spiritualists communing with their ancestral
spirits, and through them were lured and helped on to worship the Great
Spirit of Nature--the Omnipresent God.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Witchcraft of New England Explained by Modern Spiritualism" ***

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