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Title: Salem Witchcraft and Cotton Mather - A Reply
Author: Upham, Charles Wentworth, 1802-1875
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Salem Witchcraft and Cotton Mather - A Reply" ***

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                 SALEM WITCHCRAFT
                  COTTON MATHER.

                     A REPLY.

                 CHARLES W. UPHAM,
 _Member of the Massachusetts Historical Society._

                MORRISANIA, N. Y.:

                        ITS AUTHOR.

SALEM, MASS., December 10, 1869.

Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.
    Superscript text is preceded by the ^ character. Variant spellings,
    including the inconsistent spelling of proper nouns, remain as
    printed. Spelling errors in quotations have been retained, despite
    the generally poor quality of the original typesetting.


The Editors of the _North American Review_ would, under the
circumstances, I have no reason to doubt, have opened its columns to a
reply to the article that has led to the preparation of the following
statement. But its length has forbidden my asking such a favor.

All interested in the department of American literature to which the
HISTORICAL MAGAZINE belongs, must appreciate the ability with which it
is conducted, and the laborious and indefatigable zeal of its Editor, in
collecting and placing on its pages, beyond the reach of oblivion and
loss, the scattered and perishing materials necessary to the elucidation
of historical and biographical topics, whether relating to particular
localities or the country at large; and it was as gratifying as
unexpected to receive the proffer, without limitation, of the use of
that publication for this occasion.

The spirited discussion, by earnest scholars, of special questions,
although occasionally assuming the aspect of controversy, will be not
only tolerated but welcomed by liberal minds. Let champions arise, in
all sections of the Republic, to defend their respective rightful claims
to share in a common glorious inheritance and to inscribe their several
records in our Annals. Feeling the deepest interest in the Historical,
Antiquarian, and Genealogical Societies of Massachusetts, and yielding
to none in keen sensibility to all that concerns the ancient honors of
the Old Bay State and New England, generally, I rejoice to witness the
spirit of a commemorative age kindling the public mind, every where, in
the Middle, Western and Southern States.

The courtesy extended to me is evidence that while, by a jealous
scrutiny and, sometimes, perhaps, a sharp conflict, we are reciprocally
imposing checks upon loose exaggerations and overweening pretensions, a
comprehensive good feeling predominates over all; truth in its purity is
getting eliminated; and characters and occurrences, in all parts of the
country, brought under the clear light of justice.

The aid I have received, in the following discussion, from the
publications and depositories of historical associations and the
contributions of individuals, like Mr. Goodell, Doctor Moore, and
others, engaged in procuring from the mother country and preserving all
original tracts and documents, whenever found, belonging to our Colonial
period, demonstrate the importance of such efforts, whether of Societies
or single persons. In this way, our history will stand on a solid
foundation, and have the lineaments of complete and exact truth.

Notwithstanding the distance from the place of printing, owing to the
faithful and intelligent oversight of the superintendent of the press
and the vigilant core of the compositors, but few errors, I trust, will
be found, beyond what are merely literal, and every reader will
unconsciously, or readily, correct for himself.

                                                              C. W. U.



 INTRODUCTION.                                                        1


   TIME.                                                              1


   CRITICISMS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.                           4


   WITCHCRAFT.                                                        6








   PLAN FOR DEALING WITH SPECTRAL TESTIMONY.                         23


 COTTON MATHER AND SPECTRAL EVIDENCE.                                30


   GEORGE BURROUGHS.                                                 32




   TRIALS.                                                           44


   IT. "CASES OF CONSCIENCE." INCREASE MATHER.                       50


   WILLIAM PHIPS.                                                    54


   PROSECUTIONS.                                                     57




   WILLIAM BENTLEY. JOHN ELIOT. JOSIAH QUINCY.                       68


   WITCHCRAFT.                                                       70


 COTTON MATHER'S WRITINGS AND CHARACTER.                             74


 ROBERT CALEF'S WRITINGS AND CHARACTER.                              77


 MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS. CONCLUSION.                                  84



An article in _The North American Review_, for April, 1869, is mostly
devoted to a notice of the work published by me, in 1867, entitled
_Salem Witchcraft, with an account of Salem Village, and a history of
opinions on witchcraft and kindred subjects_. If the article had
contained criticisms, in the usual style, merely affecting the character
of that work, in a literary point of view, no other duty would have
devolved upon me, than carefully to consider and respectfully heed its
suggestions. But it raises questions of an historical nature that seem
to demand a response, either acknowledging the correctness of its
statements or vindicating my own.

The character of the Periodical in which it appears; the manner in which
it was heralded by rumor, long before its publication; its circulation,
since, in a separate pamphlet form; and the extent to which, in certain
quarters, its assumptions have been endorsed, make a reply imperative.

The subject to which it relates is of acknowledged interest and
importance. The Witchcraft Delusion of 1692 has justly arrested a wider
notice, and probably always will, than any other occurrence in the early
colonial history of this country. It presents phenomena in the realm of
our spiritual nature, belonging to that higher department of physiology,
known as Psychology, of the greatest moment; and illustrates the
operations of the imagination upon the passions and faculties in
immediate connection with it, and the perils to which the soul and
society are thereby exposed, in a manner more striking, startling and
instructive than is elsewhere to be found. For all reasons, truth and
justice require of those who venture to explore and portray it, the
utmost efforts to elucidate its passages and delineate correctly its

With these views I hail with satisfaction the criticisms that may be
offered upon my book, without regard to their personal character or
bearing, as continuing and heightening the interest felt in the subject;
and avail myself of the opportunity, tendered to me without solicitation
and in a most liberal spirit, by the proprietor of this Magazine, to
meet the obligations which historical truth and justice impose.

The principle charge, and it is repeated in innumerable forms through
the sixty odd pages of the article in the _North American_, is that I
have misrepresented the part borne by Cotton Mather in the proceeding
connected with the Witchcraft Delusion and prosecutions, in 1692.
Various other complaints are made of inaccuracy and unfairness,
particularly in reference to the position of Increase Mather and the
course of the Boston Ministers of that period, generally. Although the
discussion, to which I now ask attention, may appear, at first view, to
relate to questions merely personal, it will be found, I think, to lead
to an exploration of the literature and prevalent sentiments, relating
to religious and philosophical subjects, of that period; and, also, of
an instructive passage in the public history of the Province of
Massachusetts Bay.

I now propose to present the subject more fully than was required, or
would have been appropriate, in my work on Witchcraft.



In the first place, I venture to say that it can admit of no doubt, that
Increase Mather and his son, Cotton Mather, did more than any other
persons to aggravate the tendency of that age to the result reached in
the Witchcraft Delusion of 1692. The latter, in the beginning of the
Sixth Book of the _Magnalia Christi Americana_, refers to an attempt
made, about the year 1658, "among some divines of no little figure
throughout England and Ireland, for the faithful registering of
remarkable providences. But, alas," he says, "it came to nothing that
was remarkable. The like holy design," he continues, "was, by the
Reverend Increase Mather, proposed among the divines of New England, in
the year 1681, at a general meeting of them; who thereupon desired him
to begin and publish an Essay; which he did in a little while; but
there-withal declared that he did it only as a specimen of a larger
volume, in hopes that this work being set on foot, posterity would go on
with it." Cotton Mather did go on with it, immediately upon his entrance
to the ministry; and by their preaching, publications, correspondence at
home and abroad, and the influence of their learning, talents, industry,
and zeal in the work, these two men promoted the prevalence of a passion
for the marvelous and monstrous, and what was deemed preternatural,
infernal, and diabolical, throughout the whole mass of the people, in
England as well as America. The public mind became infatuated and,
drugged with credulity and superstition, was prepared to receive every
impulse of blind fanaticism. The stories, thus collected and put
everywhere in circulation, were of a nature to terrify the imagination,
fill the mind with horrible apprehensions, degrade the general
intelligence and taste, and dethrone the reason. They darken and
dishonor the literature of that period. A rehash of them can be found in
the Sixth Book of the _Magnalia_. The effects of such publications were
naturally developed in widespread delusions and universal credulity.
They penetrated the whole body of society, and reached all the
inhabitants and families of the land, in the towns and remotest
settlements. In this way, the Mathers, particularly the younger, made
themselves responsible for the diseased and bewildered state of the
public mind, in reference in supernatural and diabolical agencies, which
came to a head in the Witchcraft Delusion. I do not say that they were
culpable. Undoubtedly they thought they were doing God service. But the
influence they exercised, in this direction, remains none the less an
historical fact.

Increase Mather applied himself, without delay, to the prosecution of
the design he had proposed, by writing to persons in all parts of the
country, particularly clergymen, to procure, for publication, as many
marvelous stories as could be raked up. In the eighth volume of the
Fourth Series of the _Collections of the Massachusetts Historical
Society_, consisting of _The Mather Papers_, the responses of several of
his correspondents may be seen. [_Pp. 285, 360, 361, 367, 466, 475, 555,
612._] He pursued this business with an industrious and pertinacious
zeal, which nothing could slacken. After the rest of the world had been
shocked out of such mischievous nonsense, by the horrid results at
Salem, on the fifth of March, 1694, as President of Harvard College, he
issued a Circular to "The Reverend Ministers of the Gospel, in the
several Churches in New England," signed by himself and seven others,
members of the Corporation of that institution, urging it, as the
special duty of Ministers of the Gospel, to obtain and preserve
knowledge of notable occurrences, described under the general head of
"_Remarkables_," and classified as follows:

"The things to be esteemed memorable are, especially, all unusual
accidents, in the heaven, or earth, or water; all wonderful deliverances
of the distressed; mercies to the godly; judgments to the wicked; and
more glorious fulfilments of either the promises or the threatenings, in
the Scriptures of truth; with apparitions, possessions, inchantments,
and all extraordinary things wherein the existence and agency of the
invisible world is more sensibly demonstrated."--_Magnalia Christi
Americana._ Edit. London, 1702. Book VI., p. 1.

All communications, in answer to this missive were to be addressed to
the "President and Fellows" of Harvard College.

The first article is as follows: "To observe and record the more
illustrious discoveries of the Divine Providence, in the government of
the world, is a design so holy, so useful, so justly approved, that the
too general neglect of it in the Churches of God, is as justly to be
lamented." It is important to consider this language in connection with
that used by Cotton Mather, in opening the Sixth Book of the _Magnalia_:
"To regard the illustrious displays of that Providence, wherewith our
Lord Christ governs the world, is a work than which there is none more
needful or useful for a Christian; to record them is a work than which
none more proper for a Minister; and perhaps the great Governor of the
world will ordinarily do the most notable things for those who are most
ready to take a wise notice of what he does. Unaccountable, therefore,
and inexcusable, is the sleepiness, even upon the most of good men
throughout the world, which indisposes them to observe and, much more,
to preserve, the remarkable dispensations of Divine Providence, towards
themselves or others. Nevertheless there have been raised up, now and
then, those persons, who have rendered themselves worthy of everlasting
remembrance, by their wakeful zeal to have the memorable providences of
God remembered through all generations."

These passages from the Mathers, father and son, embrace, in their
bearings, a period, eleven years before and two years after the Delusion
of 1692. They show that the Clergy, generally, were indifferent to the
subject, and required to be aroused from "neglect" and "sleepiness,"
touching the duty of flooding the public mind with stories of "wonders"
and "remarkables;" and that the agency of the Mathers, in giving
currency, by means of their ministry and influence, to such ideas, was
peculiar and pre-eminent. However innocent and excusable their motives
may have been, the laws of cause and effect remained unbroken; and the
result of their actions are, with truth and justice, attributable to
them--not necessarily, I repeat, to impeach their honesty and integrity,
but their wisdom, taste, judgment, and common sense. Human
responsibility is not to be set aside, nor avoided, merely and wholly by
good intent. It involves a solemn and fearful obligation to the use of
reason, caution, cool deliberation, circumspection, and a most careful
calculation of consequences. Error, if innocent and honest, is not
punishable by divine, and ought not to be by human, law. It is covered
by the mercy of God, and must not be pursued by the animosity of men.
But it is, nevertheless, a thing to be dreaded and to be guarded
against, with the utmost vigilance. Throughout the melancholy annals of
the Church and the world, it has been the fountain of innumerable woes,
spreading baleful influences through society, paralysing the energies of
reason and conscience, dimming, all but extinguishing, the light of
religion, convulsing nations, and desolating the earth. It is the duty
of historians to trace it to its source; and, by depicting faithfully
the causes that have led to it, prevent its recurrence. With these
views, I feel bound, distinctly, to state that the impression given to
the popular sentiments of the period, to which I am referring, by
certain leading minds, led to, was the efficient cause of, and, in this
sense, may be said to have originated, the awful superstitions long
prevalent in the old world and the new, and reaching a final catastrophe
in 1692; and among these leading minds, aggravating and intensifying, by
their writings, this most baleful form of the superstition of the age,
Increase and Cotton Mather stand most conspicuous.

This opinion was entertained, at the time, by impartial observers.
Francis Hutchinson, D.D., "Chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty, and
Minister of St. James's Parish, in St. Edmund's Bury," in the life-time
of both the Mathers, published, in London, an _Historical Essay
concerning Witchcraft_, dedicated to the "Lord Chief-justice of England,
the Lord Chief-justice of Common Pleas, and the Lord Chief Baron of
Exchequer." In a Chapter on _The Witchcraft in Salem, Boston, and
Andover, in New England_, he attributes it, as will be seen in the
course of this article, to the influence of the writings of the Mathers.

In the Preface to the London edition of Cotton Mather's _Memorable
Providences_, written by Richard Baxter, in 1690, he ascribes this same
prominence to the works of the Mathers. While expressing the great value
he attached to writings about Witchcraft, and the importance, in his
view, of that department of literature which relates stories about
diabolical agency, possessions, apparitions, and the like, he says, "Mr.
Increase Mather hath already published many such histories of things
done in New England; and this great instance published by his son"--that
is, the account of the Goodwin children--"cometh with such full
convincing evidence, that he must be a very obdurate Sadducee that will
not believe it. And his two Sermons, adjoined, are excellently fitted to
the subject and this blinded generation, and to the use of us all, that
are not past our warfare with Devils." One of the Sermons, which Baxter
commends, is on _The Power and Malice of Devils_, and opens with the
declaration, that "there is a combination of Devils, which our air is
filled withal:" the other is on _Witchcraft_. Both are replete with the
most exciting and vehement enforcements of the superstitions of that
age, relating to the Devil and his confederates.

My first position, then, in contravention of that taken by the Reviewer
in the _North American_, is that, by stimulating the Clergy over the
whole country, to collect and circulate all sorts of marvelous and
supposed preternatural occurrences, by giving this direction to the
preaching and literature of the times, these two active, zealous,
learned, and able Divines, Increase and Cotton Mather, considering the
influence they naturally were able to exercise, are, particularly the
latter, justly chargeable with, and may be said to have brought about,
the extraordinary outbreaks of credulous fanaticism, exhibited in the
cases of the Goodwin family and of "the afflicted children," at Salem
Village. Robert Calef, writing to the Ministers of the country, March
18, 1694, says: "I having had, not only occasion, but renewed
provocation, to take a view of the mysterious doctrines, which have of
late been so much contested among us, could not meet with any that had
spoken more, or more plainly, the sense of those doctrines" [_relating
to the Witchcraft_] "than the Reverend Mr. Cotton Mather, but how
clearly and consistent, either with himself or the truth, I meddle not
now to say, but cannot but suppose his strenuous and zealous asserting
his opinions has been one cause of the dismal convulsions, we have here
lately fallen into."--_More Wonders of the Invisible World_, by Robert
Calef, Merchant of Boston, in New England. Edit. London, 1700, p. 33.

The papers that remain, connected with the Witchcraft Examinations and
Trials, at Salem, show the extent to which currency had been given, in
the popular mind, to such marvelous and prodigious things as the Mathers
had been so long endeavoring to collect and circulate; particularly in
the interior, rural settlements. The solemn solitudes of the woods were
filled with ghosts, hobgoblins, spectres, evil spirits, and the
infernal Prince of them all. Every pathway was infested with their
flitting shapes and footprints; and around every hearth-stone,
shuddering circles, drawing closer together as the darkness of night
thickened and their imaginations became more awed and frightened,
listened to tales of diabolical operations: the same effects, in
somewhat different forms, pervaded the seaboard settlements and larger

Besides such frightful fancies, other most unhappy influences flowed
from the prevalence of the style of literature which the Mathers brought
into vogue. Suspicions and accusations of witchcraft were everywhere
prevalent; any unusual calamity or misadventure; every instance of real
or affected singularity of deportment or behavior--and, in that
condition of perverted and distempered public opinion, there would be
many such--was attributed to the Devil. Every sufferer who had yielded
his mind to what was taught in pulpits or publications, lost sight of
the Divine Hand, and could see nothing but devils in his afflictions.
Poor John Goodwin, whose trials we are presently to consider, while his
children were acting, as the phrase--originating in those days, and
still lingering in the lower forms of vulgar speech--has it, "like all
possessed," broke forth thus: "I thought of what David said. _2 Samuel_,
xxiv., 14. If he feared so to fall into the hands of men, oh! then to
think of the horrors of our condition, to be in the hands of Devils and
Witches. Thus, our doleful condition moved us to call to our friends to
have pity on us, for God's hand hath touched us. I was ready to say that
no one's affliction was like mine. That my little house, that should be
a little Bethel for God to dwell in, should be made a den for Devils;
that those little Bodies, that should be Temples for the Holy Ghost to
dwell in, should be thus harrassed and abused by the Devil and his
cursed brood."--_Late Memorable Providences, relating to Witchcraft and
Possessions._ By Cotton Mather. Edit. London, 1691.

No wonder that the country was full of the terrors and horrors of
diabolical imaginations, when the Devil was kept before the minds of
men, by what they constantly read and heard, from their religious
teachers! In the Sermons of that day, he was the all-absorbing topic of
learning and eloquence. In some of Cotton Mather's, the name, Devil, or
its synonyms, is mentioned ten times as often as that of the benign and
blessed God.

No wonder that alleged witchcrafts were numerous! Drake, in his _History
of Boston_, says there were many cases there, about the year 1688. Only
one of them seems to have attracted the kind of notice requisite to
preserve it from oblivion--that of the four children of John Goodwin,
the eldest, thirteen years of age. The relation of this case, in my
book [_Salem Witchcraft_, i., 454-460] was wholly drawn from the
_Memorable Providences_ and the _Magnalia_.



The Reviewer charges me with having wronged Cotton Mather, by
representing that he "got up" the whole affair of the Goodwin children.
He places the expression within quotation marks, and repeats it, over
and over again. In the passage to which he refers--p. 366 of the second
volume of my book--I say of Cotton Mather, that he "repeatedly
endeavored to get up cases of the kind in Boston. There is some ground
for suspicion that he was instrumental in originating the fanaticism in
Salem." I am not aware that the expression was used, except in this
passage. But, wherever used, it was designed to convey the meaning given
to it, by both of our great lexicographers. Worcester defines "_to get
up_, 'to prepare, to make ready--to get up an entertainment;' 'to print
and publish, as a book.'" Webster defines it, "to prepare for coming
before the public; to bring forward." This is precisely what Mather did,
in the case of the Goodwin children, and what Calef put a stop to his
doing in the case of Margaret Rule.

In 1831, I published a volume entitled _Lectures on Witchcraft,
comprising a history of the Delusion, in Salem, in 1692_. In 1867, I
published _Salem Witchcraft, and an account of Salem Village_; and, in
the Preface, stated that "the former was prepared under circumstances
which prevented a thorough investigation of the subject. Leisure and
freedom from professional duties have now enabled me to prosecute the
researches necessary to do justice to it. The _Lectures on Witchcraft_
have long been out of print. Although frequently importuned to prepare a
new edition, I was unwilling to issue, again, what I had discovered to
be an inadequate presentation of the subject." In the face of this
disclaimer of the authority of the original work, the Reviewer says: "In
this discussion, we shall treat Mr. Upham's _Lectures_ and History in
the same connection, as the latter is an expansion and defence of the
views presented in the former."

I ask every person of candor and fairness, to consider whether it is
just to treat authors in this way? It is but poor encouragement to them
to labor to improve their works, for the first critical journal in the
country to bring discredit upon their efforts, by still laying to their
charge what they have themselves remedied or withdrawn. Yet it is
avowedly done in the article which compels me to this vindication.

The _Lectures_, for instance, printed in 1831, contained the following
sentence, referring to Cotton Mather's agency, in the Goodwin case, in
Boston. "An instance of witchcraft was brought about, in that place, by
his management." So it appeared in a reprint of that volume, in 1832. In
my recent publication, while transferring a long paragraph from the
original work, _I carefully omitted_, from the body of it, the above
sentence, fearing that it might lead to misapprehension. For, although I
hold that the Mathers are pre-eminently answerable for the witchcraft
proceedings in their day, and may be said, justly, to have caused them,
of course I did not mean that, by personal instigation on the spot, they
started every occurrence that ultimately was made to assume such a
character. The Reviewer, with the fact well known to him, that I had
suppressed and discarded this clause, flings it against me, repeatedly.
He further quotes a portion of the paragraph, in the _Lectures_, in
which it occurs, omitting, _without indicating the omission_, certain
clauses that would have explained my meaning, _taking care, however, to
include the suppressed passage_; and finishes the misrepresentation, by
the following declaration, referring to the paragraph in the _Lectures_:
"The same statements, in almost the same words, he reproduces in his
History." This he says, knowing that the particular statement to which
he was then taking exception, was not reproduced in my History.

It may be as well here, at this point, as elsewhere, once for all, to
dispose of a large portion of the matter contained in the long article
in the _North American Review_, now under consideration. In preparing
any work, particularly in the department of history, it is to be
presumed that the explorations of the writer extend far beyond what he
may conclude to put into his book. He will find much that is of no
account whatever; that would load down his narrative, swell it to
inadmissible dimensions, and shed no additional light. Collateral and
incidental questions cannot be pursued in details. A new law, however,
is now given out, that must be followed, hereafter, by all writers--that
is, to give not a catalogue merely, but an account of the contents, of
every book and tract they have read. It is thus announced by our
Reviewer: "We assume Mr. Upham has not seen this tract, as he neither
mentioned it nor made use of its material."

The document here spoken of was designed to give Increase Mather's ideas
on the subject of witchcraft trials, written near the close of those in
Salem, in 1692. As I had no peculiar interest in determining what his
views were--as a careful study of the tract, particularly taken in
connection with its _Postscript_, fails to bring any reader to a clear
conception of them; and as its whole matter was altogether immaterial to
my subject--I did not think it worth while to encumber my pages with it.
So in respect to many other points, in treating which extended
discussions might be demanded. If I had been governed by such notions as
the Reviewer seems to entertain, my book, which he complains of as too
long, would have been lengthened to the dimensions of a cyclopædia of
theology, biography, and philosophy. For keeping to my subject, and not
diverting attention to writings of no inherent value, in any point of
view, and which would contribute nothing to the elucidation of my
topics, I am charged by this Reviewer, in the baldest terms, with
ignorance, on almost every one of his sixty odd pages, and, often,
several times on the same page.

All that I say of Cotton Mather, mostly drawn from his own words, does
not cover a dozen pages. Exception is taken to some unfavorable
judgments, cursorily expressed. This is fair and legitimate, and would
justify my being called on to substantiate them. But to assume, and
proclaim, that I had not read nor seen tracts or volumes that would come
under consideration in such a discussion, is as rash as it is offensive;
and, besides, constitutes a charge against which no person of any self
respect or common sense can be expected to defend himself. I gave the
opinion of Cotton Mather's agency in the Witchcraft of 1692, to which my
judgment had been led--whether with sufficient grounds or not will be
seen, as I proceed--but did not branch off from my proper subject, into
a detail of the sources from which that opinion was derived. If I had
done so, in connection with allusions to Mather, upon the same principle
it would have been necessary to do it, whenever an opinion was expressed
of others, such as Roger Williams, or Hugh Peters, or Richard Baxter. It
would destroy the interest, and stretch interminably the dimensions, of
any book, to break its narrative, abandon its proper subject, and stray
aside into such endless collateral matter. But it must be done, if the
article in the _North American Review_, is to be regarded as an
authoritative announcement of a canon of criticism. Lecturers and public
speakers, or writers of any kind, must be on their guard. If they should
chance, for instance, to speak of Cotton Mather as a pedant, they will
have the reviewers after them, belaboring them with the charge of "a
great lack of research," in not having "pored over" the "prodigious"
manuscript of his unpublished work, in the Library of the Massachusetts
Historical Society, the whole of his three hundred and eighty-two
printed works, and the huge mass of _Mather Papers_, in the Library of
the American Antiquarian Society; and with never having "read" the
_Memorable Providences_, or "seen" the _Wonders of the Invisible World_,
or "heard" of the _Magnalia Christi Americana_.



The Reviewer complains of my manner of treating Cotton Mather's
connection with the affair of the Goodwin children. The facts in the
case are, that the family, to which they belonged, lived in the South
part of Boston. The father, a mason by occupation, was, as Mather
informs us, "a sober and pious man." As his church relations were with
the congregation in Charlestown, of which Charles Morton was the Pastor,
he probably had no particular acquaintance with the Boston Ministers.
From a statement made by Mr. Goodwin, some years subsequently, it seems
that after one of his children had, for "about a quarter of a year, been
laboring under sad circumstances from the invisible world," he called
upon "the four Ministers of Boston, together with his own Pastor, to
keep a day of prayer at his house. If so deliverance might be obtained."
He says that Cotton Mather, with whom he had no previous acquaintance,
was the last of the Ministers that "he spoke to on that occasion." Mr.
Mather did not attend the meeting, but visited the house in the morning
of the day, before the other Ministers came; spent a half hour there;
and prayed with the family. About three months after, the Ministers held
another prayer-meeting there, Mr. Mather being present. He further
stated that Mr. Mather never, in any way, suggested his prosecuting the
old Irish woman for bewitching his children, nor gave him any advice in
reference to the legal proceedings against her; but that "the motion of
going to the authority was made to him by a Minister of a neighboring
town, now departed."

The Reviewer, in a note to the last item, given above, of Goodwin's
statement, says: "Probably Mr. John Baily." Unless he has some
particular evidence, tending to fix this advice upon Baily, the
conjecture is objectionable. The name of such a man as Baily appears to
have been, ought not, unnecessarily, to be connected with the
transaction. It is true that, after the family had become relieved of
its "sad circumstances from the invisible world," Mr. Baily took one of
the children to his house, in Watertown; but that is no indication of
his having given such advice. The only facts known of him, in connection
with Witchcraft prosecutions, look in the opposite direction. When John
Proctor, in his extremity of danger, sought for help, Mr. Baily was one
of the Ministers from whom alone he had any ground to indulge a hope for
sympathy; and his name is among the fourteen who signed the paper
approving of Increase Mather's _Cases of Conscience_. The list comprises
all the Ministers known as having shown any friendly feelings towards
persons charged with Witchcraft or who had suffered from the
prosecutions, such as Hubbard, Allen, Willard, Capen and Wise; but not
one who had taken an active part in hurrying on the proceedings of 1692.

If any surmise is justifiable, or worth while, as to the author of the
advice to Goodwin--and perhaps it is due to the memory of Baily, whose
name has been thus introduced--I should be inclined to suggest that it
was John Hale, of Beverly, who, like Baily, was deceased at the date of
Goodwin's certificate. He was a Charlestown man, originally of the same
religious Society with Goodwin, and had kept up acquaintance with his
former townsmen. His course at Salem Village, a few years afterwards,
shows that he would have been likely to give such advice; and we may
impute it to him without any wrong to his character or reputation. His
noble conduct in daring, in the very hour of the extremest fury of the
storm, when, as just before the break of day, the darkness was deepest,
to denounce the proceedings as wrong; and in doing all that he could to
repair that wrong, by writing a book condemning the very things in which
he had himself been a chief actor, gives to his name a glory that cannot
be dimmed by supposing that, in the period of his former delusion, he
was the unfortunate adviser of Goodwin.

When Calef's book reached this country, in 1700, a Committee of seven
was raised, at a meeting of the members of the Parish of which the
Mathers were Ministers, to protect them against its effects. John
Goodwin was a member of it, and contributed the Certificate from which
extracts have just been made. It was so worded as to give the impression
that Cotton Mather did not take a leading part in the case of Goodwin's
children, in 1688. It states, as has been seen, that he "was the last of
the Ministers" asked to attend the prayer-meeting; but lets out the fact
that he was the first to present himself, going to the house and praying
with the family before the rest arrived. Goodwin further states, as
follows: "The Ministers would, now and then, come to visit my distressed
family, and pray with and for them, among which Mr. Cotton Mather would,
now and then, come." The whole document is so framed as to present
Mather as playing a secondary part.

In an account, however, of the affair, written by this same John
Goodwin, and printed by Mather, in London, ten years before, in _The
Memorable Providences relating to Witchcraft and Possessions_, a
somewhat different position is assigned to Mather. After saying "the
Ministers did often visit us," he mentions "Mr. Mather particularly."
"He took much pains in this great service, to pull this child and her
brother and sister, out of the hands of the Devil. Let us now admire and
adore that fountain, the Lord Jesus Christ, from whence those streams
come. The Lord himself will requite his labor of love." In 1690, Mather
was willing to have Goodwin place him in the foreground of the picture,
representing him as pulling the children out of the hand of the Devil.
In 1700, it was expedient to withdraw him into the background: and
Goodwin, accordingly, provided the Committee, of which he was a member,
with a Certificate of a somewhat different color and tenor.

The execution of the woman, Glover, on the charge of having bewitched
these Goodwin children, is one of the most atrocious passages of our
history. Hutchinson[1] says she was one of the "wild Irish," and
"appeared to be disordered in her senses." She was a Roman Catholic,
unable to speak the English language, and evidently knew not what to
make of the proceedings against her. In her dying hour, she was
understood by the interpreter to say, that taking away her life would
not have any effect in diminishing the sufferings of the children. The
remark, showing more sense than any of the rest of them had, was made to
bear against the poor old creature, as a diabolical imprecation.

Between the time of her condemnation and that of her execution, Cotton
Mather took the eldest Goodwin child into his family, and kept her there
all winter. He has told the story of her extraordinary doings, in a
style of blind and absurd credulity that cannot be surpassed. "Ere
long," says he, "I thought it convenient for me to entertain my
congregation with a Sermon on the memorable providence, wherein these
children had been concerned, (afterwards published)."

In this connection, it may be remarked that had it not been for the
interference of the Ministers, it is quite likely that "the sad
circumstances from the invisible world," in the Goodwin family, would
never have been heard of, beyond the immediate neighbourhood. It is
quite certain that similar "circumstances," in Mr. Parris's family, in
1692, owed their general publicity and their awful consequences, to the
meetings of Ministers called by him. If the girls, in either case, had
been let alone, they would soon have been weary of what one of them
called their "sport;" and the whole thing would have been swallowed,
with countless stories of haunted houses and second sight, in deep

In considering Cotton Mather's connection with the case of the Goodwin
children, and that of the accusing girls, at Salem Village, justice to
him requires that the statements, in my book, of the then prevalent
notions, of the power and pending formidableness of the Kingdom of
Darkness, should be borne in mind. It was believed by Divines generally,
and by people at large, that here, in the American wilderness, a mighty
onslaught upon the Christian settlements was soon to be made, by the
Devil and his infernal hosts; and that, on this spot, the final battle
between Satan and the Church, was shortly to come off. This belief had
taken full possession of Mather's mind, and fired his imagination. In
comparison with the approaching contest, all other wars, even that for
the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, paled their light. It was the great
crusade, in which hostile powers, Moslem, Papal, and Pagan, of every
kind, on earth and from Hell, were to go down; and he aspired to be its
St. Bernard. It was because he entertained these ideas, that he was on
the watch to hear, and prompt and glad to meet, the first advances of
the diabolical legions. This explains his eagerness to take hold of
every occurrence that indicated the coming of the Arch Enemy.

And it must further be borne in mind that, up to the time of the case of
the Goodwin children, he had entertained the idea that the Devil was to
be met and subdued by Prayer. That, and that only, was the weapon with
which he girded himself; and with that he hoped and believed to conquer.
For this reason, he did not advise Goodwin to go to the law. For this
reason, he labored in the distressed household in exercises of prayer,
and took the eldest child into his own family, so as to bring the
battery of prayer, with a continuous bombardment, upon the Devil by whom
she was possessed. For this reason, he persisted in praying in the cell
of the old Irish woman, much against her will, for she was a stubborn
Catholic. Of course, he could not pray _with_ her, for he had no doubt
she was a confederate of the Devil; and she had no disposition to join
in prayer with one whom, as a heretic, she regarded in no better light;
but still he would pray, for which he apologized, when referring to the
matter, afterward.

Cotton Mather was always a man of prayer. For this, he deserves to be
honored. Prayer, when offered in the spirit, and in accordance with the
example, of the Saviour--"not my will but thine be done," "Your Father
knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him--" is the noblest
exercise and attitude of the soul. It lifts it to the highest level to
which our faculties can rise. It

            "opens heaven; lets down a stream
    Of glory on the consecrated hour
    Of man, in audience with the Deity."

It was the misfortune of Cotton Mather, that an original infirmity of
judgment, which all the influences of his life and peculiarities of his
mental character and habits tended to exaggerate, led him to pervert the
use and operation of prayer, until it became a mere implement, or
device, to compass some personal end; to carry a point in which he was
interested, whether relating to private and domestic affairs, or to
movements in academical, political, or ecclesiastical spheres. While
according to him entire sincerity in his devotional exercises, and, I
trust, truly revering the character and nature of such expressions of
devout sensibility and aspirations to divine communion, it is quite
apparent that they were practiced by him, in modes and to an extent that
cannot be commended, leading to much self-delusion and to extravagances
near akin to distraction of judgment, and a disordered mental and moral
frame. He would abstain from food--on one occasion, it is said, for
three days together--and spend the time, as he expresses it "in knocking
at the door of heaven." Leaving his bed at the dead hours of the night,
and retiring to his study, he would cast himself on the floor, and
"wrestle with the Lord." He kept, usually, one day of each week in such
fasting, sometimes two. In his vigils, very protracted, he would, in
this prostrate position, be bathed in tears. By such exhausting
processes, continued through days and nights, without food or rest, his
nature failed; he grew faint; physical weakness laid him open to
delusions of the imagination; and his nervous system became deranged.
Sometimes, heaven seemed to approach him, and he was hardly able to bear
the ecstasies of divine love; at other times, his soul would be tossed
in the opposite direction: and often, the two states would follow each
other in the same exercise, as described by him in his Diary:[2]--"Was
ever man more tempted than the miserable Mather? Should I tell in how
many forms the Devil has assaulted me, and with what subtlety and energy
his assaults have been carried on, it would strike my friends with
horror. Sometimes, temptations to vice, to blasphemy, and atheism, and
the abandonment of all religion as a mere delusion, and sometimes to
self-destruction itself. These, even these, do follow thee, O miserable
Mather, with astonishing fury. But I fall down into the dust, on my
study floor, with tears, before the Lord, and then they quickly vanish,
and it is fair weather again. Lord what wilt thou do with me?"

His prayers and vigils, which often led to such high wrought and intense
experiences, were, not infrequently, brought down to the level of
ordinary sublunary affairs. In his Diary, he says, on one occasion: "I
set apart the day for fasting with prayer, and the special intention of
the day was to obtain deliverance and protection from my enemies. I
mentioned their names unto the Lord, who has promised to be my shield."
The enemies, here referred to, were political opponents--Governor Dudley
and the supporters of his administration.

At another time, he fixed his heart upon some books offered for sale.
Not having the means to procure them in the ordinary way, he resorted to
prayer: "I could not forbear mentioning my wishes in my prayers, before
the Lord, that, in case it might be of service to his interests, he
would enable me, in his good Providence, to purchase the treasure now
before me. But I left the matter before him, with the profoundest

The following entry is of a similar character: "This evening, I met with
an experience, which it may not be unprofitable for me to remember. I
had been, for about a fortnight, vexed with an extraordinary heart-burn;
and none of all the common medicines would remove it, though for the
present some of them would a little relieve it. At last, it grew so much
upon me, that I was ready to faint under it. But, under my fainting
pain, this reflection came into my mind. There was _this_ among the
sufferings and complaints of my Lord Jesus Christ. My heart was like wax
melted in the middle of my bowels. Hereupon, I begged of the Lord, that,
for the sake of the heart-burn undergone by my Saviour, I might be
delivered from the other and lesser heart-burn wherewith I was now
incommoded. Immediately it was darted into my mind, that I had Sir
Philip Paris's plaster in my house, which was good for inflammations;
and laying the plaster on, I was cured of my malady."

These passages indicate a use of prayer, which, to the extent Mather
carried it, would hardly be practised or approved by enlightened
Christians of this or any age; although our Reviewer fully endorses it.
In reference to Mather's belief in the power of prayer, he expresses
himself with a bald simplicity, never equalled even by that Divine.
After stating that the Almighty Sovereign was his Father, and had
promised to hear and answer his petitions, he goes on to say: "He had
often tested this promise, and had found it faithful and sure." One
would think, in hearing such a phraseology, he was listening to an
agent, vending a patent medicine as an infallible cure, or trying to
bring into use a labor-saving machine.

The Reviewer calls me to account for representing "the Goodwin affair"
as having had "a very important relation to the Salem troubles," and
attempts to controvert that position.

On this point, Francis Hutchinson, before referred to, gives his views,
very decidedly, in the following passages: [_Pp. 95, 96, 101._] "Mr.
Cotton Mather, no longer since than 1690, published the case of one
Goodwin's children. * * * The book was sent hither to be printed amongst
us, and Mr. Baxter recommended it to our people by a Preface, wherein he
says: 'That man must be a very obdurate Sadducee that will not believe
it.' The year after, Mr. Baxter, perhaps encouraged by Mr. Mather's
book, published his own _Certainty of the World of Spirits_, with
another testimony, 'That Mr. Mather's book would Silence any incredulity
that pretended to be rational.' And Mr. Mather dispersed Mr. Baxter's
book in New England, with the character of it, as a book that was

Speaking of Mather's book, Doctor Hutchinson proceeds: "The judgment I
made of it was, that the poor old woman, being an Irish Papist, and not
ready in the signification of English words, had entangled herself by a
superstitious belief, and doubtful answers about Saints and Charms; and
seeing what advantages Mr. Mather made of it, I was afraid I saw part of
the reasons that carried the cause against her. And first it is manifest
that Mr. Mather is magnified as having great power over evil spirits. A
young man in his family is represented so holy, that the place of his
devotions was a certain cure of the young virgin's fits. Then his
grandfather's and father's books have gained a testimony, that, upon
occasion, may be _improved_ one knows not how far. For amongst the many
experiments that were made, Mr. Mather would bring to this young maid,
the Bible, the _Assembly's Catechism_, his grandfather Cotton's _Milk
for Babes_, his father's _Remarkable Providences_, and a book to prove
that there were Witches; and when any of these were offered for her to
read in, she would be struck dead, and fall into convulsions. 'These
good books,' he says, 'were mortal to her'; and lest the world should be
so dull as not to take him right, he adds, 'I hope I have not spoiled
the credit of the books, by telling how much the Devil hated them.'"

This language, published by Doctor Hutchinson, in England, during the
life-time of the Mathers, shows how strong was the opinion, at that
time, that the writings of those two Divines were designed and used to
promote the prevalence of the Witchcraft superstition, and especially
that such was the effect, as well as the purpose, of Cotton Mather's
publication of the case of the Goodwin children, put into such
circulation, as it was, by him and Baxter, in both Old and New England.
In the same connection, Francis Hutchinson says: "Observe the time of
the publication of that book, and of Mr. Baxter's. Mr. Mather's came out
in 1690, and Mr. Baxter's the year after; and Mr. Mather's father's
_Remarkable Providences_ had been out before that; and, in the year
1692, the frights and fits of the afflicted, and the imprisonment and
execution of Witches in New England, made as sad a calamity as a plague
or a war. I know that Mr. Mather, in his late Folio, imputes it to the
Indian Pawaws sending their spirits amongst them; but I attribute it to
Mr. Baxter's book, and his, and his father's, and the false principles,
and frightful stories, that filled the people's minds with great fears
and dangerous notions."

Our own Hutchinson, in his _History of Massachusetts_, [_II., 25-27_]
alludes to the excitement of the public mind, occasioned by the case of
the Goodwin children. "I have often," he says, "heard persons who were
of the neighborhood, speak of the great consternation it occasioned."

In citing this author, in the present discussion, certain facts are
always to be borne in mind. One of his sisters was the wife of Cotton
Mather's son, towards whom Hutchinson cherished sentiments appropriate
to such a near connection, and of which Samuel Mather was, there is no
reason to doubt, worthy. In the Preface to his first volume he speaks
thus: "I am obliged to no other person more than to my friend and
brother, the Reverend Mr. Mather, whose library has been open to me, as
it had been before to the Reverend Mr. Prince, who has taken from thence
the greatest and most valuable part of what he had collected."

Moreover, this very library was, it can hardly be questioned, that of
Cotton Mather; of which, in his Diary, he speaks as "very great." In an
interesting article, to which I may refer again, in the _Collections of
the Massachusetts Historical Society_, [_IV., ii., 128_], we are told
that, in the inventory of the estate of Cotton Mather, filed by his
Administrator, "not a single book is mentioned among the assets of this
eccentric scholar." He had, it is to be presumed, given them all, in his
life-time, to his son, who succeeded to his ministry in the North
Church, in 1732.

When the delicacy of his relation to the Mather family and the benefit
he was deriving from that library are considered, the avoidance, by
Hutchinson, of any unpleasant reference to Cotton Mather, by name, is
honorable to his feelings. But he maintained, nevertheless, a faithful
allegiance to the truth of history, as the following, as well as many
other passages, in his invaluable work, strikingly show. They prove that
he regarded Mather's "printed account" of the case of the Goodwin
children, as having a very important relation to the immediately
subsequent delusion in Salem. "The eldest was taken," he says, "into a
Minister's family, where at first she behaved orderly, but after some
time suddenly fell into her fits." "The account of her sufferings 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 printed account was published with a
Preface by Mr. Baxter. * * * It obtained credit sufficient, together
with other preparatives, to dispose the whole country to be easily
imposed upon, by the more extensive and more tragical scene, which was
presently after acted at Salem and other parts of the county of Essex."
After mentioning several works published in England, containing
"_witch-stories_," witch-trials, etc., he proceeds: "All these books
were in New England, and the conformity between the behavior of
Goodwin's children, and most of the supposed be-witched at Salem, and
the behavior of those in England, is so exact, as to leave no room to
doubt the stories had been read by the New England persons themselves,
or had been told to them by others who had read them. Indeed this
conformity, instead of giving suspicion, was urged in confirmation of
the truth of both. The Old England demons and the New being so much

It thus appears that the opinion was entertained, in England and this
country, that the notoriety given to the case of the Goodwin children,
especially by Mather's printed account of it, had an efficient influence
in bringing on the "tragical scene," shortly afterwards exhibited at
Salem. This opinion is shown to have been correct, by the extraordinary
similarity between them--the one being patterned after the other. The
Salem case, in 1692, was, in fact, a substantial repetition of the
Boston case, in 1688. On this point, we have the evidence of Cotton
Mather himself.

The Rev. John Hale of Beverly, who was as well qualified as any one to
compare them, having lived in Charlestown, which place had been the
residence of the Goodwin family, and been an active participator in the
prosecutions at Salem, in his book, entitled, _A modest Enquiry into
the nature of Witchcraft_, written in 1697, but not printed until 1702,
after mentioning the fact that Cotton Mather had published an account of
the conduct of the Goodwin children, and briefly describing the
manifestations and actions of the Salem girls, says: [_p. 24_] "I will
not enlarge in the description of their cruel sufferings, because they
were, in all things, afflicted as bad as John Goodwin's children at
Boston, in the year 1689, as he, that will read Mr. Mather's book on
_Remarkable Providences_, p. 3. &c., may read part of what these
children, and afterwards sundry grown persons, suffered by the hand of
Satan, at Salem Village, and parts adjacent, _Anno 1691-2_, yet there
was more in their sufferings than in those at Boston, by pins invisibly
stuck into their flesh, pricking with irons (as, in part, published in a
book printed 1693, viz: _The Wonders of the Invisible World_)." This is
proof of the highest authority, that, with the exceptions mentioned,
there was a perfect similarity in the details of the two cases. Mr.
Hale's book had not the benefit of his revision, as it did not pass
through the press until two years after his death; and we thus account
for the error as to the date of the Goodwin affair.

In making up his _Magnalia_, Mather had the use of Hale's manuscript and
transferred from it nearly all that he says, in that work, about Salem
Witchcraft. He copies the passage above quoted. The fact, therefore, is
sufficiently attested by Mather as well as Hale, that, with the
exceptions stated, there was, "in all things," an entire similarity
between the cases of 1688 and 1692.

Nay, further, in this same way we have the evidence of Cotton Mather
himself, that his "printed account," of the case of the Goodwin
children, was actually used, as an authority, by the Court, in the
trials at Salem--so that it is clear that the said "account,"
contributed not only, by its circulation among the people, to bring on
the prosecutions of 1692, but to carry them through to their fatal
results--Mr. Hale says: [_p. 27_] "that the Justices, Judges and others
concerned," consulted the precedents of former times, and precepts laid
down by learned writers about Witchcraft. He goes on to enumerate them,
mentioning Keeble, Sir Matthew Hale, Glanvil, Bernard, Baxter and
Burton, concluding the list with "Cotton Mather's _Memorable
Providences, relating to Witchcraft_, printed, anno 1689." Mather
transcribes this also into the _Magnalia_. _The Memorable Providences_
is referred to by Hale, in another place, as containing the case of the
Goodwin children, consisting, in fact mainly of it. [_p. 23_]. Mather,
having Hale's book before him, must, therefore be considered as
endorsing the opinion for which the Reviewer calls me to account,
namely, that "the Goodwin affair had a very important relation to the
Salem troubles." What is sustained touching this point, by both the
Hutchinsons, Hale, and Cotton Mather himself, cannot be disturbed in its
position, as a truth of History.

The reader will, I trust, excuse me for going into such minute processes
of investigation and reasoning, in such comparatively unimportant
points. But, as the long-received opinions, in reference to this chapter
of our history, have been brought into question in the columns of a
journal, justly commanding the public confidence, it is necessary to
re-examine the grounds on which they rest. This I propose to do, without
regard to labor or space. I shall not rely upon general considerations,
but endeavor, in the course of this discussion, to sift every topic on
which the Reviewer has struck at the truth of history, fairly and
thoroughly. On this particular point, of the relation of these two
instances of alleged Witchcraft, in localities so near as Boston and
Salem, and with so short an interval of time, general considerations
would ordinarily be regarded as sufficient. From the nature of things,
the former must have served to bring about the latter. The
intercommunication between the places was, even then, so constant, that
no important event could happen in one without being known in the other.
By the thousand channels of conversation and rumor, and by Mather's
printed account, endorsed by Baxter, and put into circulation throughout
the country, the details of the alleged sufferings and extraordinary
doings of the Goodwin children, must have become well known, in Salem
Village. Such a conclusion would be formed, if no particular evidence in
support of it could be adduced; but when corroborated by the two
Hutchinsons, Mr. Hale, and, in effect, by Mather himself, it cannot be

As has been stated, Cotton Mather, previous to his experience with those
"pests," as the Reviewer happily calls "the Goodwin children," probably
believed in the efficacy of prayer, and in that alone, to combat and
beat down evil spirits and their infernal Prince; and John Goodwin's
declaration, that it was not by his advice that he went to the law, is,
therefore, entirely credible in itself. The protracted trial, however,
patiently persevered in for several long months, when he had every
advantage, in his own house, to pray the devil out of the eldest of the
children, resulting in her becoming more and more "saucy," insolent, and
outrageous, may have undermined his faith to an extent of which he might
not have been wholly conscious. He says, in concluding his story in the
_Magnalia_, [_Book VI., p. 75._] that, after all other methods had
failed, "one particular Minister, taking particular compassion on the
family, set himself to serve them in the methods prescribed by our Lord
Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the Lord being besought thrice, in three days
of prayer, with fasting on this occasion, the family then saw their
deliverance perfected."

It is worthy of reflection, whether it was not the fasting, that seems
to have been especially enforced "on this occasion," and for "three
days," that cured the girl. A similar application had before operated as
a temporary remedy. Mather tells us, in his _Memorable Providences_,
[_p. 31_,] referring to a date previous to the "three days" fasting,
"Mr. Morton, of Charlestown, and Mr. Allen, Mr. Moody, Mr. Willard, and
myself, of Boston, with some devout neighbors, kept another day of
prayer at John Goodwin's house; and we had all the children present with
us there. The children were miserably tortured, while we labored in our
prayers; but our good God was nigh unto us, in what we called upon him
for. From this day, the power of the enemy was broken; and the children,
though assaults after this were made upon them, yet were not so cruelly
handled as before."

It must have been a hard day for all concerned. Five Ministers and any
number of "good praying people," as Goodwin calls them, together with
his whole family, could not but have crowded his small house. The
children, on such occasions, often proved very troublesome, as stated
above. Goodwin says "the two biggest, lying on the bed, one of them
would fain have kicked the good men, while they were wrestling with God
for them, had I not held him with all my power and might." Fasting was
added to the prayers, that were kept up during the whole time, the
Ministers relieving each other. If the fasting had been continued three
days, it is not unlikely that the cure of the children would, then, have
proved effectual and lasting. The account given in the _Memorables_ and
the _Magnalia_, of the conduct of these children, under the treatment of
Mather and the other Ministers, is, indeed, most ludicrous; and no one
can be expected to look at it in any other light. He was forewarned
that, in printing it, he would expose himself to ridicule. He tells us
that the mischievous, but bright and wonderfully gifted, girl, the
eldest of the children, getting, at one time, possession of his
manuscript, pretended to be, for the moment, incapacitated, by the
Devil, for reading it; and he further informs us, "She'd hector me at a
strange rate for the work I was at, and threaten me with I know not what
mischief for it. She got a History I was writing of this Witchcraft; and
though she had, before this, read it over and over, yet now she could
not read (I believe) one entire sentence of it; but she made of it the
most ridiculous Travesty in the world, with such a patness and excess of
fancy, to supply the sense that she put upon it, as I was amazed at. And
she particularly told me, That I should quickly come to disgrace by that

It is noticeable that the Goodwin children, like their imitators at
Salem Village, the "afflicted," as they were called, were careful,
except in certain cases of emergence, not to have their night's sleep
disturbed, and never lost an appetite for their regular meals. I cannot
but think that if the Village girls had, once in a while, like the
Goodwin children, been compelled to go for a day or two upon very short
allowance, it would have soon brought their "sport" to an end.

Nothing is more true than that, in estimating the conduct and character
of men, allowances must be made for the natural, and almost necessary,
influence of the opinions and customs of their times. But this excuse
will not wholly shelter the Mathers. They are answerable, as I have
shown, more than almost any other men have been, for the opinions of
their time. It was, indeed, a superstitious age; but made much more so
by their operations, influence, and writings, beginning with Increase
Mather's movement, at the assembly of the Ministers, in 1681, and ending
with Cotton Mather's dealings with the Goodwin children, and the account
thereof which he printed and circulated, far and wide. For this reason,
then, in the first place, I hold those two men responsible for what is
called "Salem Witchcraft."

I have admitted and shown that Cotton Mather originally relied only upon
prayer in his combat with Satanic powers. But the time was at hand, when
other weapons than the sword of the Spirit were to be drawn in that


[1] When, in this article, I cite the name "Hutchinson," without any
distinguishing prefix, I mean THOMAS HUTCHINSON, Chief-justice,
Governor, and Historian of Massachusetts; so also when I cite the name
"Mather," I mean COTTON MATHER.

[2] The passages from Cotton Mather's Diary, used in this article, are
mostly taken from the _Christian Examiner_, xi., 249; _Proceedings of
Massachusetts Historical Society_, i., 289, and iv., 404; and _Life of
Cotton Mather_, by William B. O. Peabody, in Sparks's _American
Biography_, vi., 162.



No instance of the responsibility of particular persons for the acts of
a Government, in the whole range of history, is more decisive or
unquestionable, than that of the Mathers, father and son, for the trials
and executions, for the alleged crime of Witchcraft, at Salem, in 1692.

Increase Mather had been in England, as one of the Agents of the Colony
of Massachusetts, for several years, in the last part of the reign of
James II. and the beginning of that of William and Mary, covering much
of the period between the abrogation of the first Charter and the
establishment of the Province under the second Charter. Circumstances
had conspired to give him great influence in organizing the Government
provided for in the new Charter. His son describes him as "one that,
besides a station in the Church of God, as considerable as any that his
own country can afford, hath for divers years come off with honor, in
his application to three crowned heads and the chiefest nobility of
three kingdoms."

Being satisfied that a restoration of the old Charter could not be
obtained, Increase Mather acquiesced in what he deemed a necessity, and
bent his efforts to have as favorable terms as possible secured in the
new. His colleagues in the agency, Elisha Cooke and Thomas Oaks, opposed
his course--the former, with great determination, taking the ground of
the "old Charter or none." This threw them out of all communication with
the Home Government, on the subject, and gave to Mr. Mather controlling
influence. He was requested by the Ministers of the Crown to name the
officers of the new Government; and, in fact, had the free and sole
selection of them all. Sir William Phips was appointed Governor, at his
solicitation; and, in accordance with earnest recommendations, in a
letter from Cotton Mather, William Stoughton was appointed
Deputy-governor, thereby superceding Danforth, one of the ablest men in
the Province. In fact, every member of the Council owed his seat to the
Mathers, and, politically, was their creature. Great was the exultation
of Cotton Mather, when the intelligence reached him, thus expressed in
his Diary: "The time for favor is now come, yea, the set-time is come. I
am now to receive the answers of so many prayers, as have been employed
for my absent parent, and the deliverance and settlement of my poor
country. We have not the former Charter, but we have a better in the
room of it; one which much better suits our circumstances. And, instead
of my being made a sacrifice to wicked rulers, all the Councillors of
the Province are of my father's nomination; and my father-in-law, with
several related to me, and several brethren of my own Church, are among
them. The Governor of the Province is not my enemy, but one whom I
baptized, namely, Sir William Phips, and one of my flock, and one of my
dearest friends."

The whole number of Councillors was twenty-eight, three of them, at
least, being of the Mather Church. John Phillips was Cotton Mather's
father-in-law. Two years before, Sir William Phips had been baptized by
Cotton Mather, in the presence of the congregation, and received into
the Church.

The "set-time," so long prayed for, was of brief duration. The
influence of the Mathers over the politics of the Province was limited
to the first part of Phips's short administration. At the very next
election, in May, 1693, ten of the Councillors were left out; and Elisha
Cooke, their great opponent, was chosen to that body, although negatived
by Phips, in the exercise of his prerogative, under the Charter.

Increase Mather came over in the same ship with the Governor, the
_Nonsuch_, frigate. As Phips was his parishioner, owed to him his
office, and was necessarily thrown into close intimacy, during the long
voyage, he fell naturally under his influence, which, all things
considered, could not have failed to be controlling. The Governor was an
illiterate person, but of generous, confiding, and susceptible impulses;
and the elder Mather was precisely fitted to acquire an ascendency over
such a character. He had been twice abroad, in his early manhood and in
his later years, had knowledge of the world, been conversant with
learned men in Colleges and among distinguished Divines and Statesmen,
and seen much of Courts and the operations of Governments. With a more
extended experience and observation than his son, his deportment was
more dignified, and his judgment infinitely better; while his talents
and acquirements were not far, if at all, inferior. When Phips landed in
Boston, it could not, therefore, have been otherwise than that he should
pass under the control of the Mathers, the one accompanying, the other
meeting him on the shore. They were his religious teachers and guides;
by their efficient patronage and exertions he had been placed in his
high office. They, his Deputy, Stoughton, and the whole class of persons
under their influence, at once gathered about him, gave him his first
impressions, and directed his movements. By their talents and position,
the Mathers controlled the people, and kept open a channel through which
they could reach the ear of Royalty. The Government of the Province was
nominally in Phips and his Council, but the Mathers were a power behind
the throne greater than the throne itself. The following letter, never
before published, for which I am indebted to Abner C. Goodell, Esq.,
Vice-president of the Essex Institute, shows how they bore themselves
before the Legislature, and communicated with the Home Government.

    "MY LORD:

    "I have only to assure your Lordship, that the generality of their
    Majesties subjects (so far as I can understand) do, with all
    thankfulness, receive the favors, which, by the new Charter, are
    granted to them. The last week, the General Assembly (which, your
    Lordship knows, is our New England Parliament) convened at Boston.
    I did then exhort them to make an Address of thanks to their
    Majesties; which, I am since informed, the Assembly have unanimously
    agreed to do, as in duty they are bound. I have also acquainted the
    whole Assembly, how much, not myself only, but they, and all this
    Province, are obliged to your Lordship in particular, which they
    have a grateful sense of, as by letters from themselves your
    Lordship will perceive. If I may, in any thing, serve their
    Majesties interest here, I shall, on that account, think myself
    happy, and shall always study to approve myself, My Lord,

                                      "Your most humble, thankful
                                                and obedient Servant,
                                                      INCREASE MATHER.

    "BOSTON, N. E.
    June 23, 1692.

    "To the Rt. Hon^ble the _Earl of Nottingham_, his Maj^ties Principal
    Secretary of State at Whitehall."

While they could thus address the General Assembly, and the Ministers of
State, in London, the Government here was, as Hutchinson evidently
regarded it, [_i., 365; ii., 69._] "a MATHER ADMINISTRATION." It was
"short, sharp, and decisive." It opened in great power; its course was
marked with terror and havoc; it ended with mysterious suddenness; and
its only monument is Salem Witchcraft--the "_judicial murder_," as the
Reviewer calls it, of twenty men and women, as innocent in their lives
as they were heroic in their deaths.

The _Nonsuch_ arrived in Boston harbor, towards the evening of the
fourteenth of May, 1692. Judge Sewall's Diary, now in the possession of
the Massachusetts Historical Society, has this entry, at the above date.
"Candles are lighted before he gets into Town House, 8 companies wait on
him to his house, and then on Mr. Mather to his, made no vollies,
because 'twas Saturday night."

The next day, the Governor attended, we may be sure, public worship with
the congregation to which he belonged; and the occasion was undoubtedly
duly noticed. After so long an absence, Increase Mather could not have
failed to address his people, the son also taking part in the
interesting service. The presence, in his pew, of the man who, a short
time before, had been regenerated by their preaching, and now
re-appeared among them with the title and commission of Governor of New
England, added to the previous honors of Knighthood, at once suggested
to all, and particularly impressed upon him, an appreciating conviction
of the political triumph, as well as clerical achievement, of the
associate Ministers of the North Boston Church. From what we know of the
state of the public mind at that time, as emphatically described in a
document I am presently to produce, there can be no question as to one
class of topics and exhortations, wherewithal his Excellency and the
crowded congregation were, that day, entertained.

Monday, the sixteenth, was devoted to the ceremonies of the public
induction of the new Government. There was a procession to the
Town-house, where the Commissions of the Governor and Deputy-governor,
with the Charter under which they were appointed, were severally read
aloud to the people. A public dinner followed; and, at its close, Sir
William was escorted to his residence. At the meeting of the Council,
the next day, the seventeenth, the oaths of office having been
administered, all round, it was voted "that there be a general meeting
of the Council upon Tuesday next, the twenty-fourth of May current, in
Boston, at two o'clock, post-meridian, to nominate and appoint Judges,
Justices, and other officers of the Council and Courts of Justice within
this their Majesties' Province belonging, and that notice thereof, or
summons, be forthwith issued unto the members of the Council now

The following letter from Sir William Phips, to the Government at home,
recently procured from England by Mr. Goodell, was published in the last
volume of the _Collections of the Essex Institute_--Volume IX., Part II.
I print it, entire, and request the reader to examine it, carefully, and
to refer to it as occasion arises in this discussion, as it is a key to
the whole transaction of the Witchcraft trials. Its opening sentence
demonstrates the impression made by those who first met and surrounded
him, on his excitable nature:

    "When I first arrived, I found this Province miserably harassed with
    a most horrible witchcraft or possession of devils, which had broke
    in upon several towns, some scores of poor people were taken with
    preternatural torments, some scalded with brimstone, some had pins
    stuck in their flesh, others hurried into the fire and water, and
    some dragged out of their houses and carried over the tops of trees
    and hills for many miles together; it hath been represented to me
    much like that of Sweden about thirty years ago; and there were many
    committed to prison upon suspicion of Witchcraft before my arrival.
    The loud cries and clamours of the friends of the afflicted people,
    with the advice of the Deputy-governor and many others, prevailed
    with me to give a Commission of Oyer and Terminer for discovering
    what Witchcraft might be at the bottom, or whether it were not a
    possession. The chief Judge in this Commission was the
    Deputy-governor, and the rest were persons of the best prudence and
    figure that could then be pitched upon. When the Court came to sit
    at Salem, in the County of Essex, they convicted more than twenty
    persons being guilty of witchcraft, some of the convicted confessed
    their guilt; the Court, as I understand, began their proceedings
    with the accusations of afflicted persons; and then went upon other
    humane evidences to strengthen that. I was, almost the whole time of
    the proceeding, abroad in the service of their Majesties, in the
    Eastern part of the country, and depended upon the judgment of the
    Court, as to a method of proceeding in cases of witchcraft; but when
    I came home I found many persons in a strange ferment of
    dissatisfaction, which was increased by some hot spirits that blew
    up the flame; but on inquiring into the matter I found that the
    Devil had taken upon him the name and shape of several persons who
    were doubtless innocent, and, to my certain knowledge, of good
    reputation; for which cause I have now forbidden the committing of
    any more that shall be accused, without unavoidable necessity, and
    those that have been committed I would shelter from any proceedings
    against them wherein there may be the least suspicion of any wrong
    to be done unto the innocent. I would also wait for any particular
    directions or commands, if their Majesties please to give me any,
    for the fuller ordering this perplexed affair.

    "I have also put a stop to the printing of any discourses one way or
    other, that may increase the needless disputes of people upon this
    occasion, because I saw a likelihood of kindling an inextinguishable
    flame if I should admit any public and open contests; and I have
    grieved to see that some, who should have done their Majesties, and
    this Province, better service, have so far taken council of passion
    as to desire the precipitancy of these matters; these things have
    been improved by some to give me many interruptions in their
    Majesties service [_which_] has been hereby unhappily clogged, and
    the persons, who have made so ill improvement of these matters here,
    are seeking to turn it upon me, but I hereby declare, that as soon
    as I came from fighting against their Majesties enemies, and
    understood what danger some of their innocent subjects might be
    exposed to, if the evidence of the afflicted persons only did
    prevail, either to the committing, or trying any of them, I did,
    before any application was made unto me about it, put a stop to the
    proceedings of the Court and they are now stopped till their
    Majesties pleasure be known. Sir, I beg pardon for giving you all
    this trouble; the reason is because I know my enemies are seeking
    to turn it all upon me. Sir,

                                        "I am
                                           Your most humble Serv^t
                                                        WILLIAM PHIPS.

    "Dated at BOSTON IN NEW ENGLAND, the 14th of Oct^r 1692.


    "That my Lord President be pleased to acquaint his Majesty in
    Council with the account received from New England, from Sir W^m
    Phips, the Governor there, touching proceedings against several
    persons for Witchcraft, as appears by the Governor's letter
    concerning those matters."

The foregoing document, I repeat, indicates the kind of talk with which
Phips was accosted, when stepping ashore. Exaggerated representations of
the astonishing occurrences at Salem Village burst upon him from all,
whom he would have been likely to meet. The manner in which the Mathers,
through him, had got exclusive possession of the Government of the
Province, probably kept him from mingling freely among, or having much
opportunity to meet, any leading men, outside of his Council and the
party represented therein. Writing in the ensuing October, at the moment
when he had made up his mind to break loose from those who had led him
to the hasty appointment of the Special Court, there is significance in
his language. "I have grieved to see that some, who should have done
their Majesties, and the Province, better service, have so far taken
counsel of passion, as to desire the precipitancy of these matters."
This refers to, and amounts to a condemnation of, the advisers who had
influenced him to the rash measures adopted on his arrival. How rash and
precipitate those measures were I now proceed to show.



So great was the pressure made upon Sir William Phips, by the wild panic
to which the community had been wrought, that he ordered the persons who
had been committed to prison by the Salem Magistrates, to be put in
irons; but his natural kindness of heart and common sense led him to
relax the unjustifiable severity. Professor Bowen, in his _Life of
Phips_, embraced in Sparks's _American Biography_, [_vii., 81._] says:
"Sir William seems not to have been in earnest in the proceeding; for
the officers were permitted to evade the order, by putting on the irons
indeed, but taking them off again, immediately."

On Tuesday, the twenty-fourth of May, the Council met to consider the
matter specially assigned to that day, namely, the nomination and
appointment of Judicial officers.

The Governor gave notice that he had issued Writs for the election of
Representatives to convene in a General Court, to be held on the eighth
of June.

He also laid before the Council, the assigned business, which was
"accordingly attended, and divers persons, in the respective Counties
were named, and left for further consideration."

On the twenty-fifth of May, the Council being again in session, the
record says: "a further discourse was had about persons, in the several
Counties, for Justices and other officers, and it was judged advisable
to defer the consideration of fit persons for Judges, until there be an
establishment of Courts of Justice."

At the next meeting, on the twenty-seventh of May, it was ordered that
the members of the Council, severally, and their Secretary, should be
Justices of the Peace and Quorum, in the respective Counties where they
reside: a long list, besides, was adopted, appointing the persons named
in it Justices, as also Sheriffs and Coroners; and a SPECIAL COURT OF
OYER AND TERMINER was established for the Counties of Suffolk, Essex,
and Middlesex, consisting of William Stoughton, Chief-justice, John
Richards, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Wait Winthrop, Bartholomew Gedney,
Samuel Sewall, John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin, and Peter Sargent, any
five of them to be a quorum (Stoughton, Richards, or Gedney to be one of
the five).

When we consider that the subject had been specially assigned on the
seventeenth, and discussed for two days, on the twenty-fourth and
twenty-fifth, to the conclusion that the appointment of Judges ought to
be deferred, "_until there be an establishment of Courts of
Justice_,"--which by the Charter, could only be done by the General
Court which was to meet, as the Governor had notified them, in less than
a fortnight--the establishment of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, on the
twenty-seventh, must be regarded as very extraordinary. It was
acknowledged to be an unauthorized procedure; the deliberate judgment of
the Council had been expressed against it; and there was no occasion for
such hurry, as the Legislature was so soon to assemble. There must have
been a strong outside pressure, from some quarter, to produce such a
change of front. From Wednesday to Friday, some persons of great
influence must have been hard at work. The reasons assigned, in the
record, for this sudden reversal, by the Council, of its deliberate
decision, are the great number of criminals waiting trial, the thronged
condition of the jails, and "this hot season of the year," on the
twenty-seventh of May! It is further stated, "there being no
judicatures or Courts of Justice yet established," that, therefore, such
an extraordinary step was necessary. It is, indeed, remarkable, that, in
the face of their own recorded convictions of expediency and propriety,
and in disregard of the provisions of the Charter which, a few days
before, they had been sworn to obey, the Council could have been led to
so far "take counsel of passion," as to rush over every barrier to this
precipitate measure.

No specific reference is anywhere made, in the Journals, to Witchcraft;
but the Court was to act upon all cases of felony and other crimes. The
"Council Records" were not obtained from England, until 1846. Writers
have generally spoken of the Court as consisting of seven Judges.
Saltonstall's resignation does not appear to have led to a new
appointment; and, perhaps, Hathorne, who generally acted as an Examining
Magistrate, and signed most of the Commitments of the prisoners, did not
often, if ever, sit as a Judge. In this way, the Court may have been
reduced to seven. Stephen Sewall was appointed Clerk, and George Corwin,
High Sheriff.

Thus established and organized, on the twenty-seventh of May, the Court
sat, on the second of June, for the trial of Bridget Bishop. Her
Death-warrant was signed, on the eighth of June, the very day the
Legislature convened; and she was executed on the tenth. This was,
indeed, "precipitancy." Before the General Court had time, possibly, to
make "an establishment of Courts of Justice" in the exercise of the
powers bestowed upon it by the Charter, this Special Court--suddenly
sprung upon the country, against the deliberate first judgment of the
Council itself, and not called for by any emergency of the moment which
the General Court, just coming on the stage, could not legally,
constitutionally, and adequately, have met--dipped its hands in blood;
and an infatuated and appalled people and their representatives allowed
the wheels of the Juggernaut to roll on.

The question, who are responsible for the creation, in such hot haste,
of this Court, and for its instant entrance upon its ruthless work, may
not be fully and specifically answered, with absolute demonstration, but
we may approach a satisfactory solution of it. We know that a word from
either of the Mathers would have stopped it. Their relations to the
Government were, then, controlling. Further, if, at that time, either of
the other leading Ministers--Willard, or Allen--had demanded delay, it
would have been necessary to pause; but none appear to have made open
opposition; and all must share in the responsibility for subsequent

Phips says that the affair at Salem Village was represented to him as
"much like that of Sweden, about thirty years ago." This Swedish case
was Cotton Mather's special topic. In his _Wonders of the Invisible
World_, he says that "other good people have in this way been harassed,
but none in circumstances more like to ours, than the people of God in
Sweedland." He introduces, into the _Wonders_, a separate account of it;
and reproduces it in his _Life of Phips_, incorporated subsequently into
the _Magnalia_. The first point he makes, in presenting this case, is as
follows: "The inhabitants had earnestly sought God in prayer, and yet
their affliction continued. Whereupon Judges had a Special Commission to
find, and root out the hellish crew; and the rather, because another
County in the Kingdom, which had been so molested, was delivered upon
the execution of the Witches."--_The Wonders of the Invisible World._
Edit. London, 1693, p. 48.

The importance attached by Cotton Mather to the affair in Sweden,
especially viewed in connection with the foregoing extract, indicates
that the change, I have conjectured, had come over him, as to the way to
deal with Witches; and that he had reached the conclusion that prayer
would not, and nothing but the gallows could, answer the emergency. In
the Swedish case, was found the precedent for a "Special Commission of
Oyer and Terminer."

Well might the Governor have felt the importance of relieving himself,
as far as possible, from the responsibility of having organized such a
Court, and of throwing it upon his advisers. The tribunal consisted of
the Deputy-governor, as Chief-justice, and eight other persons, all
members of the Council, and each, as has been shown, owing his seat, at
that Board, to the Mathers.

The recent publication of this letter of Governor Phips enables us now
to explain certain circumstances, before hardly intelligible, and to
appreciate the extent of the outrages committed by those who controlled
the administration of the Province, during the Witchcraft trials.

In 1767, Andrew Oliver, then Secretary of the Province, was directed to
search the Records of the Government to ascertain precedents, touching a
point of much interest at that time. From his Report, part of which is
given in Drake's invaluable _History of Boston_, [_p. 728_] it appears
that the Deputy-governor, Stoughton, by the appointment of the Governor,
attended by the Secretary, administered the oaths to the members of the
House of Representatives, convened on the eighth of June, 1692; that, as
Deputy-governor, he sat in Council, generally, during that year, and
was, besides, annually elected to the Council, until his death, in 1701.
All that time, he was sitting, in the double capacity of an _ex-officio_
and an elected member; and for much the greater part of it, in the
absence of Phips, as acting Governor. The Records show that he sat in
Council when Sir William Phips was present, and presided over it, when
he was not present, and ever after Phips's decease, until a new Governor
came over in 1699. His annual election, by the House of Representatives,
as one of the twenty-eight Councillors, while, as Deputy or acting
Governor, he was entitled to a seat, is quite remarkable. It gave him a
distinct legislative character, and a right, as an elected member of the
body, to vote and act, directly, in all cases, without restraint or
embarrassment, in debate and on Committees, in the making, as well as
administering, the law.

In the letter now under consideration, Governor Phips says: "I was
almost the whole time of the proceeding abroad, in the Service of their
Majesties in the Eastern part of the country."

The whole tenor of the letter leaves an impression that, being so much
away from the scene, in frequent and long absences, he was not cognizant
of what was going on. He depended "upon the judgment of the Court," as
to its methods of proceeding; and was surprised when those methods were
brought to his attention. Feeling his own incapacity to handle such a
business, he was willing to leave it to those who ought to have been
more competent. Indeed, he passed the whole matter over to the
Deputy-governor. In a letter, for which I am indebted to Mr. Goodell,
dated the twentieth of February, 1693, to the Earl of Nottingham,
transmitting copies of laws passed by the General Court, Governor Phips
says: "Not being versed in law, I have depended upon the Lieu^t Gov^r,
who is appointed Judge of the Courts, to see that they be exactly
agreeable to the laws of England, and not repugnant in any part. If
there be any error, I know it will not escape your observation, and
desire a check may be given for what may be amiss."

The closing sentence looks somewhat like a want of confidence in the
legal capacity and judgment of Stoughton, owing perhaps, to the bad work
he had made at the Salem trials, the Summer before; but the whole
passage shows that Phips, conscious of his own ignorance of such things,
left them wholly to the Chief-justice.

The Records show that he sat in Council to the close of the Legislature,
on the second of July. But the main business was, evidently, under the
management of Stoughton, who was Chairman of a large Joint Committee,
charged with adjusting the whole body of the laws to the transition of
the Colony, from an independent Government, under the first Charter, to
the condition of a subject Province.

One person had been tried and executed; and the Court was holding its
second Session when the Legislature adjourned. Phips went to the
eastward, immediately after the eighth of July. Again, on the first of
August, he embarked from Boston with a force of four hundred and fifty
men, for the mouth of the Kennebec. In the Archives of Massachusetts,
Secretary's office, State House, Vol. LI., p. 9, is the original
document, signed by Phips, dated on the first of August, 1692, turning
over the Government to Stoughton, during his absence. It appears by
Church's _Eastern Expeditions_, Part II., p. 82, edited by H. M. Dexter,
and published by Wiggin & Lunt, Boston, 1867, that, during a
considerable part of the month of August, the Governor must have been
absent, engaged in important operations on the coast of Maine. About the
middle of September, he went again to the Kennebec, not returning until
a short time before the twelfth of October. In the course of the year,
he also was absent for a while in Rhode Island. Although an energetic
and active man, he had as much on his hands, arising out of questions as
to the extent of his authority over Connecticut and Rhode Island and the
management of affairs at the eastward, as he could well attend to. His
Instructions, too, from the Crown, made it his chief duty to protect the
eastern portions of his Government. The state of things there, in
connection with Indian assaults and outrages upon the outskirt
settlements, under French instigation, was represented as urgently
demanding his attention. Besides all this, his utmost exertions were
needed to protect the sea-coast against buccaneers. In addition to the
public necessities, thus calling him to the eastward, it was,
undoubtedly, more agreeable to his feelings, to revisit his native
region and the home of his early years, where, starting from the
humblest spheres of mechanical labor and maritime adventure, as a
ship-carpenter and sailor, he had acquired the manly energy and
enterprise that had conducted him to fortune, knightly honor, and the
Commission of Governor of New England. All the reminiscences and best
affections of his nature made him prompt to defend the region thus
endeared to him. It was much more congenial to his feelings than to
remain under the ceremonial and puritanic restraints of the seat of
Government, and involved in perplexities with which he had no ability,
and probably no taste, to grapple. He was glad to take himself out of
the way; and as his impetuous and impulsive nature rendered those under
him liable to find him troublesome, they were not sorry to have him
called elsewhere.

I have mentioned these things as justifying the impression, conveyed by
his letter, that he knew but little of what was going on until his
return in the earlier half of October. Actual absence at a distance, the
larger part of the time, and engrossing cares in getting up expeditions
and supplies for them while he was at home--particularly as, from the
beginning, he had passed over the business of the Court entirely to his
Deputy, Stoughton--it is not difficult to suppose, had prevented his
mind being much, if at all, turned towards it. We may, therefore,
consider that the witchcraft prosecutions were wholly under the control
of Stoughton and those, who, having given him power, would naturally
have influence over his exercise of it.

Calling in question the legality of the Court, Hutchinson expresses a
deep sense of the irregularity of its proceedings; although, as he says,
"the most important Court to the life of the subject which ever was held
in the Province," it meets his unqualified censure, in many points. In
reference to the instance of the Jury's bringing in a verdict of "Not
guilty," in the case of Rebecca Nurse, and being induced, by the
dissatisfaction of the Court, to go out again, and bring her in
"Guilty," he condemns the procedure. Speaking of a wife or husband being
allowed to accuse one the other, he breaks out: "I shudder while I am
relating it;" and giving the results at the last trial, he says: "This
Court of Oyer and Terminer, happy for the country, sat no more." Its
proceedings were arbitrary, harsh, and rash. The ordinary forms of
caution and fairness were disregarded. The Judges made no concealment of
a foregone conclusion against the Prisoners at the Bar. No Counsel was
allowed them. The proceedings were summary; and execution followed close
upon conviction. While it was destroying the lives of men and women, of
respectable position in the community, of unblemished and eminent
Christian standing, heads of families, aged men and venerable matrons,
all the ordinary securities of society, outside of the tribunal, were
swept away. In the absence of Sir William Phips, the Chief-justice
absolutely absorbed into his own person the whole Government. His
rulings swayed the Court, in which he acted the part of prosecutor of
the Prisoners, and overbore the Jury. He sat in judgment upon the
sentences of his own Court; and heard and refused, applications and
supplications for pardon or reprieve. The three grand divisions of all
constitutional or well-ordered Governments were, for the time,
obliterated in Massachusetts. In the absence of Phips, the Executive
functions were exercised by Stoughton. While presiding over the Council,
he also held a seat as an elected ordinary member, thus participating
in, as well as directing, its proceedings, sharing, as a leader, in
legislation, acting on Committees, and framing laws. As Chief-justice,
he was the head of the Judicial department. He was Commander-in-chief of
the military and naval forces and forts within the Province proper. All
administrative, legislative, judicial, and military powers were
concentrated in his person and wielded by his hand. No more shameful
tyranny or shocking despotism was ever endured in America, than, in "the
dark and awful day," as it was called, while the Special Commission of
Oyer and Terminer was scattering destruction, ruin, terror, misery and
death, over the country. It is a disgrace to that generation, that it
was so long suffered; and, instead of trying to invent excuses, it
becomes all subsequent generations to feel--as was deeply felt, by
enlightened and candid men, as soon as the storm had blown over and a
prostrate people again stood erect, in possession of their senses--that
all ought, by humble and heart-felt prayer, to implore the divine
forgiveness, as one of the Judges, fully as misguided at the time as the
rest, did, to the end of his days.

As all the official dignities of the Province were combined in
Stoughton, he seems hardly to have known in what capacity he was acting,
as different occasions arose. He signed the Death-warrant of Bridget
Bishop, without giving himself any distinctive title, with his bare name
and his private seal. It is easy to imagine how this lodging of the
whole power of the State in one man, destroyed all safeguards and closed
every door of refuge. When the express messenger of the poor young wife
of John Willard, or the heroic daughter of Elizabeth How, or the agents
of the people of the village, of all classes, combined in supplication
in behalf of Rebecca Nurse, rushing to Boston to lay petitions for
pardon before the Governor, upon being admitted to his presence, found
themselves confronted by the stern countenance of the same person, who,
as Chief-justice, had closed his ears to mercy and frowned the Jury into
Conviction; their hearts sunk within them, and all realized that even
hope had taken flight from the land.

Such was the political and public administration of the Province of
Massachusetts, during the Summer of 1692, under which the Witchcraft
prosecutions were carried on. It was conducted by men whom the Mathers
had brought into office, and who were wholly in their counsels. If there
is, I repeat, an instance in history where particular persons are
responsible for the doings of a Government, this is one. I conclude
these general views of the influence of Increase and Cotton Mather upon
the ideas of the people and the operations of the Government,
eventuating in the Witchcraft tragedy, by restating a proposition,
which, under all the circumstances, cannot, I think, be disputed, that,
if they had been really and earnestly opposed to the proceedings, at any
stage, they could and would have stopped them.

I now turn to a more specific consideration of the subject of Cotton
Mather's connection with the Witchcraft delusion of 1692.



I am charged with having misrepresented the part Cotton Mather, in
particular, bore in this passage of our history. As nearly the whole
community had been deluded at the time, and there was a general
concurrence in aiding oblivion to cover it, it is difficult to bring it
back, in all its parts, within the realm of absolute knowledge.
Records--municipal, ecclesiastical, judicial, and provincial--were
willingly suffered to perish; and silence, by general consent, pervaded
correspondence and conversation. Notices of it are brief, even in the
most private Diaries. It would have been well, perhaps, if the memory of
that day could have been utterly extinguished; but it has not. On the
contrary, as, in all manner of false and incorrect representations, it
has gone into the literature of the country and the world and become
mixed with the permanent ideas of mankind, it is right and necessary to
present the whole transaction, so far as possible, in the light of
truth. Every right-minded man must rejoice to have wrong, done to the
reputation of the dead or living, repaired; and I can truly say that no
one would rejoice more than I should, if the view presented of Cotton
Mather, in the _North American Review_, of April, 1869, could be shown
to be correct. In this spirit, I proceed to present the evidence that
belongs to the question.

The belief of the existence of a personal Devil was then all but
universally entertained. So was the belief of ghosts, apparitions, and
spectres. There was no more reluctance to think or speak of them than of
what we call natural objects and phenomena. Great power was ascribed to
the Devil over terrestrial affairs; but it had been the prevalent
opinion, that he could not operate upon human beings in any other way
than through the instrumentality of other human beings, in voluntary
confederation with him; and that, by means of their spectres, he could
work any amount of mischief. While this opinion prevailed, the testimony
of a witness, that he had seen the spectre of a particular person
afflicting himself or any one else, was regarded as proof positive that
the person, thus spectrally represented, was in league with the Devil,
or, in other words, a Witch. This idea had been abandoned by some
writers, who held that the Devil could make use of the spectre of an
innocent person, to do mischief; and that, therefore, it was not
positive or conclusive proof that any one was a Witch because his
spectre had been seen tormenting others. The logical conclusion, from
the views of these later writers, was that spectral evidence, as it was
called, bearing against an accused party, was wholly unreliable and must
be thrown out, entirely, in all cases.

The Reviewer says the "Clergy of New England" adopted the views of the
writers just alluded to, and held that spectral evidence was unreliable
and unsafe, and ought to be utterly rejected; and particularly maintains
that such was the opinion of Cotton Mather. It is true that they
professed to have great regard for those writers; but it is also true,
that neither Mather nor the other Ministers in 1692, adopted the
conclusion which the Reviewer allows to be inevitably demanded by sound
reason and common sense, namely, that "no spectral evidence must be
admitted." On the contrary, they did authorize the "admission" of
spectral evidence. This I propose to prove; and if I succeed in doing
it, the whole fabric of the article in the _North American Review_ falls
to the ground.

It is necessary, at this point, to say a word as to the _Mather Papers_.
They were published by a Committee of the Massachusetts Historical
Society, in 1868. My work was published in 1867. The Reviewer, and
certain journals that have committed themselves to his support, charge
me with great negligence in not having consulted those papers, _not then
in print_. Upon inquiry, while making my researches, I was informed, by
those having them in hand preparatory to their going to press, that they
contained nothing at all essential to my work; and the information was
correct. Upon examining the printed volume, I cannot find a single item
that would require an alteration, addition, or omission to be made in my
work. But they are quite serviceable in the discussion to which the
article in the _North American Review_ compels me.

To return to the issue framed by the Reviewer. He makes a certain
absolute assertion, repeats it in various forms, and confidently assumes
it, all the way through, as in these passages: "Stoughton admitted
spectral evidence; Mather, in his writings on the subject, denounced it,
as illegal, uncharitable, and cruel." "He ever testified against it,
both publicly and privately; and, particularly in his Letter to the
Judges, he besought them that they would by no means admit it; and when
a considerable assembly of Ministers gave in their _Advice_ about the
matter, he not only concurred with the advice, but he drew it up." "The
_Advice_ was very specific in excluding spectral testimony."

He relies, in the first place, and I may say chiefly, in maintaining
this position--namely, that Mather denounced the _admission_ of spectral
testimony and demanded its _exclusion_--upon a sentence in a letter from
Cotton Mather to John Richards, called by the Reviewer "his Letter to
the Judges," among the _Mather Papers_, p. 891.

Hutchinson informs us that Richards came into the country in low
circumstances, but became an opulent merchant, in Boston. He was a
member of Mather's Church, and one of the Special Court to try the
witches. Its Session was to commence in the first week, probably on
Thursday, the second day of June. The letter, dated on Tuesday, the
thirty-first of May, is addressed to John Richards alone; and commences
with a strong expression of regret that quite a severe indisposition
will prevent his accompanying him to the trials. "Excuse me," he says,
"from waiting upon you, with the utmost of my little skill and care, to
assist the noble service, whereto you are called of God this week, the
service of encountering the wicked spirits in the high places of our
air, and of detecting and confounding of their confederates." He hopes,
before the Court "gets far into the mysterious affair," to be able to
"attend the desires" of Richards, which, to him "always are commands."
He writes the letter, "for the strengthening of your honorable hands in
that work of God whereto, (I thank him) he hath so well fitted you."
After some other complimentary language, and assurances that God's
"people have been fasting and praying before him for your direction," he
proceeds to urge upon him his favorite Swedish case, wherein the
"endeavours of the Judges to discover and extirpate the authors of that
execrable witchcraft," were "immediately followed with a remarkable
smile of God." Then comes the paragraph, which the Reviewer defiantly
cites, to prove that Cotton Mather agreed with him, in the opinion that
spectre evidence ought not to be "admitted."

Before quoting the paragraph, I desire the reader to note the manner in
which the affair in Sweden is brought to the attention of Richards, in
the clauses just cited, in connection with what I have said in this
article, page 16. Cotton Mather was in possession of a book on this
subject. "It comes to speak English," he says, "by the acute pen of the
excellent and renowned Dr. Horneck." Who so likely as Mather to have
brought the case to the notice of Phips, pp. 14. It was urged upon
Richards at about the same time that it was upon Phips; and as an
argument in favor of "_extirpating_" witches, by the _action of a Court
of Oyer and Terminer_.

The paragraph is as follows: "And yet I must most humbly beg you that in
the management of the affair in your most worthy hands, you do not lay
more stress upon pure Spectre testimony than it will bear. When you are
satisfied, and have good plain legal evidence, that the Demons which
molest our poor neighbors do indeed represent such and such people to
the sufferers, though this be a presumption, yet I suppose you will not
reckon it a conviction that the people so represented are witches to be
immediately exterminated. It is very certain that the Devils have
sometimes represented the Shapes of persons not only innocent, but also
very virtuous. Though I believe that the just God then ordinarily
provides a way for the speedy vindication of the persons thus abused.
Moreover, I do suspect that persons, who have too much indulged
themselves in malignant, envious, malicious ebullitions of their souls,
may unhappily expose themselves to the judgment of being represented by
Devils, of whom they never had any vision, and with whom they have, much
less, written any covenant. I would say this; if upon the bare supposal
of a poor creature being represented by a spectre, too great a progress
be made by the authority in ruining a poor neighbor so represented, it
may be that a door may be thereby opened for the Devils to obtain from
the Courts in the invisible world a license to proceed unto most hideous
desolations upon the repute and repose of such as have yet been kept
from the great transgression. If mankind have thus far once consented
unto the credit of diabolical representations, the door is opened!
Perhaps there are wise and good men, that may be ready to style him that
shall advance this caution, a Witch-advocate, but in the winding up,
this caution will certainly be wished for."

This passage, strikingly illustrative, as it is, of Mather's
characteristic style of appearing, to a cursory, careless reader, to say
one thing, when he is really aiming to enforce another, while it has
deceived the Reviewer, and led him to his quixotic attempt to
revolutionize history, cannot be so misunderstood by a critical

In its general drift, it appears, at first sight, to disparage spectral
evidence. The question is: Does it forbid, denounce, or dissuade, its
introduction? By no means. It supposes and allows its introduction, but
says, _lay not more stress upon it than it will bear_. Further, it
affirms that it may afford "presumption" of guilt, though not sufficient
for conviction, and removes objection to its introduction, by holding
out the idea that, if admitted by the Court and it bears against
innocent persons, "the just God, then, ordinarily provides a way for
their speedy vindication." It is plain that the paragraph refers, not to
the _admission_ of "diabolical representations," but to the _manner_ in
which they are to be received, in the "management" of the trials, as
will more fully appear, as we proceed.

The suggestion, to reconcile Richards to the use of spectral evidence,
that something would "ordinarily" providentially turn up to rescue
innocent persons, against whom it was borne, was altogether delusive. It
was an opinion of the day, that one of the most signal marks of the
Devil's descent with power, would be the seduction, to his service, of
persons of the most eminent character, even, if possible, of the very
elect; and, hence, no amount of virtue or holiness of life or
conversation, could be urged in defence of any one. The records of the
world present no more conspicuous instances of Christian and saintlike
excellence than were exhibited by Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth How; but
spectral testimony was allowed to destroy them. Indeed, it was
impossible for a Court to put any restrictions on this kind of evidence,
if once received. If the accusing girls exclaimed--all of them
concurring, at the moment, in the declaration and in its details--that
they saw, at that very instant, in the Court-room, before Judges and
Jury, the spectre of the Prisoner assailing one of their number, and
that one showing signs of suffering, what could be done to rebut their
testimony? The character of the accused was of no avail. An _alibi_
could not touch the case. The distance from the Prisoner to the party
professing to be tormented, was of no account. The whole proceeding was
on the assumption that, however remote the body of the Prisoner, his or
her spectre was committing the assault. No limitation of space or time
could be imposed on the spectral presence. "Good, plain, legal evidence"
was out of the question, where the Judges assumed, as Mather did, that
"the molestations" then suffered by the people of the neighbourhood,
were the work of Demons, and fully believed that the tortures and
convulsions of the accusers, before their eyes, were, as alleged, caused
by the spectres of the accused.

To cut the matter short. The considerations Mather presents of the
"inconvenience," as he calls it, of the spectral testimony, it might be
supposed, would have led him to counsel--not as he did, against making
"too great a progress" in its use--but its abandonment altogether. Why
did he not, as the Reviewer says ought always have been done, protest
utterly against its admission at all? The truth is, that neither in this
letter, nor in any way, at any time, did he ever recommend caution
_against_ its use, but _in_ its use.

It may be asked, what did he mean by "not laying more stress upon
spectre testimony than it will bear," and the general strain of the
paragraph? A solution of this last question may be reached as we
continue the scrutiny of his language and actions.

In this same letter, Mather says: "I look upon wounds that have been
given unto spectres, and received by witches, as intimations, broad
enough, in concurrence with other things, to bring out the guilty.
Though I am not fond of assaying to give such wounds, yet, the proof
[_of_] such, when given, carries with it what is very palpable."

This alludes to a particular form of spectral evidence. One of the
"afflicted children" would testify that she saw and felt the spectre of
the accused, tormenting her, and struck at it. A corresponding wound or
bruise was found on the body, or a rent in the garments, of the accused.
Mather commended this species of evidence, writing to one of the Judges,
on the eve of the trials. He not only commends, but urges it as
conclusive of guilt. Referring to what constituted the bulk of the
evidence of the accusing girls, and which was wholly spectral in its
nature--namely, that they were "hurt" by an "unseen hand"--he charges
Richards, if he finds such "hurt" to be inflicted by the persons
accused, "Hold them, for you have catched a witch." He recommends
putting the Prisoners upon repeating the "Lord's prayer" or certain
"other Systems of Christianity." He endorses the evidence derived from
"poppits," "witch-marks," and even the "water ordeal." He advised a
Judge, just proceeding to sit in cases of life and death, to make use of
"cross and swift questions," as the means of bringing the accused "into
confusion, likely to lead them into confession."

Whoever examines, carefully, this letter to Richards, cannot, I think,
but conclude that, instead of exonerating Mather, it fixes upon him the
responsibility for the worst features of the Witchcraft Trials.

The next document on which the Reviewer relies is the _Return of the
Ministers consulted by his Excellency and the honorable Council, upon
the present Witchcraft in Salem Village_. It is necessary to give it
entire, as follows:

    ["I. The afflicted state of our poor neighbours, that are now
    suffering by molestations from the invisible world, we apprehend so
    deplorable, that we think their condition calls for the utmost help
    of all persons in their several capacities.

    "II. We cannot but, with all thankfulness, acknowledge the success
    which the merciful God has given to the sedulous and assiduous
    endeavours of our honorable rulers, to defeat the abominable
    witchcrafts which have been committed in the country, humbly
    praying, that the discovery of those mysterious and mischievous
    wickednesses may be perfected.]

    "III. We judge that, in the prosecution of these and all such
    witchcrafts, there is need of a very critical and exquisite caution,
    lest by too much credulity for things received only upon the Devil's
    authority, there be a door opened for a long train of miserable
    consequences, and Satan get an advantage over us; for we should not
    be ignorant of his devices.

    "IV. As in complaints upon witchcrafts there may be matters of
    enquiry which do not amount unto matters of presumption, and there
    may be matters of presumption which yet may not be reckoned matters
    of conviction, so it is necessary, that all proceedings thereabout
    be managed with an exceeding tenderness towards those that may be
    complained of, especially if they have been persons formerly of an
    unblemished reputation.

    "V. When the first inquiry is made into the circumstances of such as
    may lie under any just suspicion of witchcrafts, we could wish that
    there may be admitted as little as possible of such noise, company,
    and openness, as may too hastily expose them that are examined; and
    that there may nothing be used as a test for the trial of the
    suspected, the lawfulness whereof may be doubted among the people of
    God; but that the directions given by such judicious writers as
    Perkins and Bernard may be consulted in such a case.

    "VI. Presumptions whereupon persons may be committed, and, much
    more, convictions whereupon persons may be condemned as guilty of
    witchcrafts, ought certainly to be more considerable than barely the
    accused persons being represented by a spectre unto the afflicted;
    [inasmuch as it is an undoubted and a notorious thing, that a Demon
    may, by God's permission, appear, even to ill purposes, in the shape
    of an innocent, yea, and a virtuous man.] Nor can we esteem
    alterations made in the sufferers, by a look or touch of the
    accused, to be an infallible evidence of guilt, but frequently
    liable to be abused by the Devil's legerdemain.

    "VII. We know not whether some remarkable affront, given the Devil,
    by our disbelieving of those testimonies, whose whole force and
    strength is from him alone, may not put a period unto the progress
    of the dreadful calamity begun upon us, in the accusation of so many
    persons, whereof some, we hope, are yet clear from the great
    transgression laid to their charge.

    ["VIII. Nevertheless, we cannot but humbly recommend unto the
    Government, the speedy and vigorous prosecutions of such as have
    rendered themselves obnoxious, according to the directions given in
    the laws of God, and the wholesome Statutes of the English nation,
    for the detection of Witchcrafts."]

I have enclosed the _first_, _second_ and _eighth_ Sections, and a part
of the _sixth_, in brackets, for purposes that will appear, in a
subsequent part of this discussion. The _Advice of the Ministers_ was
written by Cotton Mather. As in his letter to Richards, he does not
caution _against_ the use, but _in_ the use, of spectral evidence. Not a
word is said denouncing its introduction or advising its entire
rejection. We look in vain for a line or a syllable disapproving the
trial and execution just had, resting as they did, entirely upon
spectral evidence: on the contrary, the _second_ Section applauds what
had been done; and prays that the work entered upon may be perfected.
The first clauses in the _fourth_ Section sanction its admission, as
affording ground of "presumption," although "it may not be matter of
conviction." The _sixth_ Section, while it appears to convey the idea
that spectral evidence alone ought not to be regarded as sufficient,
contains, at the same time, a form of expression, that not only requires
its reception, but places its claims on the highest possible grounds.
"_A Demon may, by GOD'S PERMISSION, appear, even to ill purposes, in the
shape of an innocent, yea, and a virtuous man._" It is sufficiently
shocking to think that anything, _to ill purposes_, can be done by
Divine permission; but horrible, indeed, to intimate that the Devil can
have that permission to malign and murder an innocent person. If the
spectre appears by God's permission, the effect produced has his
sanction. The blasphemous supposition that God permits the Devil thus to
bear false witness, to the destruction of the righteous, overturns all
the sentiments and instincts of our moral and religious nature. In using
this language, the Ministers did not have a rational apprehension of
what they were saying, which is the only apology for much of the
theological phraseology of that day. This phrase, "God's permission,"
had quite a currency at the time; and if it did not reconcile the mind,
subdued it to wondering and reverent silence. It will be seen that
Mather, on other occasions, repeated this idea, in various and sometimes
stronger terms. The _third_, _fifth_, _seventh_, and last clauses of the
_fourth_ Sections, contain phrases which will become intelligible, as we
advance in the examination of Mather's writings, relating to the subject
of witchcraft.

Here it may, again, be safely said, that if Increase and Cotton Mather
had really, as the Reviewer affirms, been opposed to the _admission_ of
spectral testimony, this was the time for them to have said so. If, at
this crisis, they had "denounced it, as illegal, uncharitable and
cruel," no more blood would have been shed. If the _Advice_ had even
recommended, in the most moderate terms, its absolute exclusion from
every stage of the proceedings, they would have come to an end. But it
assumes its introduction, and only suggests "disbelief" of it, in
avoiding to act upon it, in "some" instances.

Hutchinson states the conclusion of the matter, after quoting the whole
document. "The Judges seem to have paid more regard to the last article
of this _Return_, than to several which precede it; for the prosecutions
were carried on with all possible vigor, and without that exquisite
caution which is proposed."--_History_, ii., 54.

The _Advice_ was skilfully--it is not uncharitable to say--artfully
drawn up. It has deceived the Reviewer into his statement that it was
"very specific in excluding spectral testimony." A careless reader, or
one whose eyes are blinded by a partisan purpose, may not see its real
import. The paper is so worded as to mislead persons not conversant with
the ideas and phraseology of that period. But it was considered by all
the Judges, and the people in general, fully to endorse the proceedings
in the trial of Bridget Bishop, and to advise their speedy and vigorous
continuance. It was spectral testimony that overwhelmed her. It was the
fatal element that wrought the conviction of every person put on trial,
from first to last; as was fully proved, five months afterwards, when
Sir William Phips, under circumstances I shall describe, bravely and
peremptorily forbid, as the Ministers failed to do, the "trying," or
even "committing," of any one, on the evidence of "the afflicted
persons," which was wholly spectral. When thus, by his orders, it was
utterly thrown out, the life of the prosecutions became, at once,
extinct; and, as Mather says, the accused were cleared as fast as they
were tried.--_Magnalia_, Book II., page 64.

The suggestion that caution was to be used in handling this species of
evidence, and that it was to be received as affording grounds of
"presumption," to be corroborated or reinforced by other evidence,
practically was of no avail. If received, at all, in any stage, or under
any name, it necessarily controlled every case. No amount of evidence,
of other kinds, could counterbalance or stand against it: nothing was
needed to give it full and fatal effect. It struck Court, Jury, and
people, nay, even the Prisoners themselves, in many instances, with awe.
It dispensed, as has been mentioned, with the presence of the accused,
on the spot, where and when the crime was alleged to have been
committed, or within miles or hundreds of miles of it. No reputation for
virtue or piety could be pleaded against it. The doctrine which Cotton
Mather proclaimed, on another occasion, that the Devil might appear as
Angel of Light, completed the demolition of the securities of innocence.
There was no difficulty in getting "other testimony" to give it effect.
In the then state of the public mind, indiscriminately crediting every
tale of slander and credulity, looking at every thing through the
refracting and magnifying atmosphere of the blindest and wildest
passions, it was easy to collect materials to add to the spectral
evidence, thereby, according to the doctrine of the Ministers, to raise
the "presumption," to the "conviction" of guilt. Even our Reviewer finds
evidence to "substantiate" that, given against George Burroughs, resting
on spectres, in his feats of strength, in some malignant neighborhood
scandals, and in exaggerated forms of parish or personal animosities.



The _Advice of the Ministers_ is a document that holds a prominent place
in our public history; and its relation to events needs to be

In his _Life of Sir William Phips_, Cotton Mather has this paragraph:
"And Sir William Phips arriving to his Government, after this ensnaring
horrible storm was begun, did consult the neighboring Ministers of the
Province, who made unto his Excellency and the Council, a Return (drawn
up, at their desire, by Mr. Mather, the younger, as I have been
informed) wherein they declared."--_Magnalia_, Book II., page 63.

He then gives, without intimating that any essential or substantial part
of the _declaration_, or _Advice_, was withheld, the Sections _not_
included in brackets.--_Vide_, pages 21, 22, _ante_.

It is to be observed that Phips is represented as having asked the
Ministers for their advice, and their answer as having been made to his
"Excellency and the Council." There is no mention of this transaction in
the Records of the Council. Phips makes no reference to it in his letter
of the fourteenth of October, which is remarkable, as it would have been
to his purpose, in explaining the grounds of his procedure, in
organizing, and putting into operation, the judicial tribunal at Salem.
It may be concluded, from all that I shall present,--Sir William, having
given over the whole business to his Deputy and Chief-justice, with an
understanding that he was authorized to manage it, in all
particulars,--that this transaction with the Ministers may never have
been brought to the notice of the Governor at all: his official
character and title were, perhaps, referred to, as a matter of form. The
Council, as such, had nothing to do with it; but the Deputy-governor and
certain individual members of the Council, that is, those who, with him,
as Chief-justice, constituted the Special Court, asked and received the

Again: the paragraph, as constructed by Mather, just quoted, certainly
leaves the impression on a reader, that Phips applied for the _Advice of
the Ministers_, at or soon after his arrival. The evidence, I think, is
conclusive, that the _Advice_ was not asked, until after the first
Session of the Court had been held. This is inferrible from the answer
of the Ministers, which is dated thirteen days after the first trial,
and five days after the execution of a sentence then passed. It alludes
to the _success_ which had been given to the prosecutions. If the
Government had asked counsel of the Ministers before the trials
commenced, it is inexplicable and incredible, besides being inexcusable,
that the Ministers should have delayed their reply until after the first
act of the awful tragedy had passed, and blood begun to be shed.
Hutchinson expressly says: "The further trials were put off to the
adjournment, the thirtieth of June. The Governor and Council thought
proper, _in the mean time_, to take the opinion of several of the
principal Ministers, upon the state of things, as they then stood. This
was an old Charter practice."--_History_, ii., 52.

It has been regarded as a singular circumstance, that after such pains
had been taken, and so great a stretch of power practised, to put a
Court so suddenly in operation to try persons accused of witchcraft, on
the pretence, too, recorded in the Journal of the Council, of the
"thronged" condition of the jails, at that "hot season," and after
trying one person only, it should have adjourned for four weeks.
Perhaps, by a collation of passages and dates, we may reach a probable
explanation. In his letter to "the Ministers in and near Boston,"
written in January, 1696, after considering briefly, and in forcible
language, the fearful errors from which the Delusion of 1692 had risen,
and solemnly reminding them of what they ought to have done to lead
their people out of such errors, Calef brings their failure to do it
home to them, in these pungent words: "If, instead of this, you have
some by word and writing propagated, and others recommended, such
doctrines, and abetted the false notions which are so prevalent in this
apostate age, it is high time to consider it. If, when authority found
themselves almost nonplust in such prosecutions, and sent to you for
your advice what they ought to do, and you have then thanked them for
what they had already done (and thereby encouraged them to proceed in
those very by-paths already fallen into) it so much the more nearly
concerns you. _Ezek._, xxxiii., 2 to 8."--_Calef_, 92.

Looking at this passage, in connection with that quoted just before from
Hutchinson, we gather that something had occurred that "nonplust" the
Court--some serious embarrassment, that led to its sudden
adjournment--after the condemnation of Bridget Bishop, while many other
cases had been fully prepared for trial by the then Attorney-general.
Newton, and the parties to be tried had, the day before, been brought to
Salem from the jail in Boston, and were ready to be put to the Bar. What
was the difficulty? The following may be the solution.

Brattle informs us, and he was able to speak with confidence, that
"Major N. Saltonstall, Esq., who was one of the Judges, has left the
Court, and is very much dissatisfied with the proceedings of
it."--_Massachusetts Historical Collections, I., v., 75._

The questions arise; When and why did he leave the Court? The Records of
the Council show that he was constant in his attendance at that Board,
his name always appearing at the head of the roll of those present,
until the sixteenth of June, from which date it does not appear again
until the middle of February, 1693. The Legislature, in the exercise of
its powers, under the Charter, had, near the close of 1692, established
a regular Superior Court, consisting of Stoughton, Danforth--who had
disapproved of the proceedings of the Special Court--Richards, Wait
Winthrop, and Sewall. It continued, in January, 1693, witchcraft trials;
but spectral evidence being wholly rejected, the prosecutions all broke
down; and Stoughton, in consequence, left the Court in disgust. After
all had been abandoned, and his own course, thereby, vindicated, Major
Saltonstall re-appeared at the Council Board; and was re-elected by the
next House of Representatives. His conduct, therefore, was very marked
and significant. In the only way in which he, a country member, could
express his convictions, as there were no such facilities, in the press
or otherwise, for public discussions, as we now have, he made them
emphatically known; and is worthy of the credit of being the only public
man of his day who had the sense or courage to condemn the proceedings,
at the start. He was a person of amiable and genial deportment; and,
from the County Court files, in which his action, as a Magistrate, is
exhibited in several cases, it is evident that he was methodical and
careful in official business, but susceptible of strong impressions and
convictions, and had, on a previous occasion manifested an utter want of
confidence in certain parties, who, it became apparent at the first
Session of the Court, were to figure largely in hearing spectral
testimony, in most of the cases. He had no faith in those persons, and
was thus, we may suppose, led to discredit, wholly, that species of

From his attendance at the Council Board, up to the sixteenth of June,
the day when the _Advice of the Ministers_ was probably received, it may
be assumed that he attended also, to that time, the sittings of the
Court; and that when he withdrew from the former, he did also from the
latter. The date indicates that his action, in withdrawing, was
determined by the import of the _Advice_.

If a gentleman of his position and family, a grandson of an original
Patentee, Sir Richard Saltonstall, and sitting as a Judge at the first
trial, had the independence and manly spirit to express, without
reserve, his disapprobation of the proceedings, the expression of Calef
is explained; and the Court felt the obstacle that was in their way.
Hence the immediate adjournment, and the resort to some extraordinary
expedient, to remove it.

This may account for the appeal to the Ministers. Great interest must
have been felt in their reply, by all cognizant of the unexpected
difficulty that had occurred. The document was admirably adapted to
throw dust into the eyes of those who had expressed doubts and
misgivings; but it did not deceive Saltonstall. He saw that it would be
regarded by the other Judges, and the public in general, as an
encouragement to continue the trials; and that, under the phraseology of
what had the aspect of caution, justification would be found for the
introduction, to an extent that would control the trials, of spectral
evidence. The day after its date, he left his seat at the Council Board,
withdrew from the Court, and washed his hands of the whole matter.

The course of events demonstrates that the _Advice_ was interpreted, by
all concerned, as applauding what had been done at the first trial, and
earnestly urging that the work, thus begun, should be speedily and
vigorously prosecuted. Upon the Ministers, therefore, rests the stigma
for all that followed.

There may have been, at that time, as there was not long afterward, some
difference of opinion among the Ministers; and the paper may have had
the character of a compromise--always dangerous and vicious, bringing
some or all parties into a false position. Samuel Willard may have held,
then, the opinion expressed in a pamphlet ascribed to him, published,
probably, towards the close of the trials, that spectral evidence ought
only to be allowed where it bore upon persons of bad reputation. The
_fourth_ Section conciliated his assent to the document. This might have
been the view of Increase Mather, who, after the trials by the Special
Court were over, indicated an opinion, that time for further diligent
"search" ought to have been allowed, before proceeding to "the execution
of the most capital offenders;" and declared the very excellent
sentiment, that "it becomes those of his profession to be very tender in
the shedding of blood." The expressions, "exceeding tenderness," in the
_fourth_ Section, and "the first inquiry," in the _fifth_--the latter
conveying the idea of repeated investigations with intervals of
time--were well adapted to gain his support of the whole instrument. If
they were led to concur in the _Advice_, by such inducements, they were
soon undeceived. "Unblemished reputation" was no protection; and the
proceedings at the trials were swift, summary, and conclusive.

It may be proper, at this point, to inquire what was meant by the
peculiar phraseology of the _third_, _fifth_, _seventh_, and latter part
of the _fourth_, Sections. It is difficult, writing as Cotton Mather
often did, and had great skill in doing, in what Calef calls "the
ambidexter" style, to ascertain his ideas. After the reaction had taken
effect in the public mind, and he was put upon the defensive, he had
much to say about some difference between him and the Judges. It clearly
had nothing to do with the "admission" of spectral evidence; for that
was the point on which the opinion of the Ministers was asked, and on
which he voluntarily proffered remarks in his letter to one of the
Judges, Richards. If he had been opposed to its "admission," nothing
would have been easier, safer, or more demanded by the truth and his own
honor, than for him to have said so. Indeed, his writings everywhere
show that he was almost a _one idea_ man, on the subject of spectres;
and, in some way or form, deemed their evidence indispensable and
reliable. He, evidently, had some favorite plan or scheme, as to the
method in which that kind of evidence was to be handled; and it was
because he could not get it carried into effect, and for this reason
alone, so far as we can discover, that he disapproved of the methods
actually pursued by the Court. He never disclosed his plan, but shrunk
from explaining it at length, "as too Icarian and presumptuous" a task
for him to undertake. Let us see if we can glean his ideas from his

I call attention, in the first place, to the following clause, in his
letter to Richards: "If, upon the bare supposal of a poor creature's
being represented by a spectre, too great a progress be made by the
authority, in ruining a poor neighbour so represented, it may be that a
door may be thereby opened for the Devils to obtain from the Courts, in
the invisible world, a license to proceed unto most hideous desolations
upon the repute and repose of such as have been kept from the great

"Too great a progress" conveys the suggestion that, upon the
introduction of spectral evidence, there should be a delay in the
proceedings of the Court, for some intermediate steps to be taken,
before going on with the trial.

We gather other intimations, to this effect, from other passages, as
follows: "Now, in my visiting of the miserable, I was always of this
opinion, that we were ignorant of what power the Devils might have, to
do their mischiefs in the shapes of some that had never been explicitly
engaged in diabolical confederacies, and that therefore, though many
witchcrafts had been fairly detected on enquiries provoked and begun by
spectral exhibitions, yet we could not easily be too jealous of the
snares laid for us in the device of Satan. The world knows how many
pages I have composed and published, and particular gentlemen in the
Government know how many letters I have written, to prevent the
excessive credit of spectral accusations; wherefore I have still charged
the afflicted that they should cry out of nobody for afflicting them;
but that, if this might be any advantage, they might privately tell
their minds to some one person of discretion enough to make no ill use
of their communications; accordingly there has been this effect of it,
that the name of no one good person in the world ever came under any
blemish by means of an afflicted person that fell under my particular
cognizance; yea, no one man, woman, or child ever came into any trouble,
for the sake of any that were afflicted, after I had once begun to look
after them. How often have I had this thrown into my dish, 'that many
years ago I had an opportunity to have brought forth such people as
have, in the late storm of witchcraft, been complained of, but that I
smothered it all'; and after that storm was raised at Salem, I did
myself offer to provide meat, drink, and lodging for no less than six of
the afflicted, that so an experiment might be made, whether prayer, with
fasting, upon the removal of the distressed, might not put a period to
the trouble then rising, without giving the civil authority the trouble
of prosecuting those things, which nothing but a conscientious regard
unto the cries of miserable families could have overcome the reluctance
of the honorable Judges to meddle with. In short, I do humbly but freely
affirm it, there is not a man living in this world who has been more
desirous, than the poor man I, to shelter my neighbors from the
inconveniences of spectral outcries; yea, I am very jealous I have done
so much that way, as to sin in what I have done; such have been the
cowardice and fearfulness where unto my regard to the dissatisfaction of
other people has precipitated me. I know a man in the world, who has
thought he has been able to convict some such witches as ought to die;
but his respect unto the public peace has caused him rather to try
whether he could not renew them by repentance."--_Calef_, 11.

The careful reader will notice that "six of the afflicted," at Salem
Village, would have included nearly the whole circle of the accusing
girls there. If he had been allowed to take them into his exclusive
keeping, he would have had the whole thing in his own hands.

In his account of "the afflictions of Margaret Rule," printed by Calef,
in his book, and from which the foregoing extracts have been made
speaking of the "eight cursed spectres" with which she was assaulted, in
the fall of 1693, Mather says: "She was very careful of my reiterated
charges, _to forbear blazing their names_, lest any good person should
come to suffer any blast of reputation, through the cunning malice of
the great accuser; nevertheless, having since privately named them to
myself, I will venture to say this of them, that they are a sort of
wretches who, for these many years, have gone under as violent
presumptions of witchcraft as, perhaps, any creatures yet living upon
earth; although I am far from thinking that the visions of this young
woman were evidence enough to prove them so."--_Calef_, 4.

The following is from his _Wonders of the Invisible World_, 12: "If once
a witch do ingeniously confess among us, no more spectres do, in their
shapes, after this, trouble the vicinage; if any guilty creatures will
accordingly, to so good purpose, confess their crime to any Minister of
God, and get out of the snare of the Devil, as no Minister will discover
such a conscientious confession, so, I believe, none in the authority
will press him to discover it, but rejoice in a soul saved from death."

In his _Life of Phips_, he says: "In fine, the country was in a dreadful
ferment, and wise men foresaw a long train of dismal and bloody
consequences. Hereupon they first advised, that the _afflicted_ might be
kept asunder, in the closest privacy; and one particular person (whom I
have cause to know), in pursuance of this advice, offered himself singly
to provide accommodations for any six of them, that so the success of
more than ordinary prayer, with fasting, might, with patience, be
experienced, before any other courses were taken."--_Magnalia_, Book
II., p. 62.

Hutchinson gives an extract from a letter, written by John Allyn,
Secretary of Connecticut, dated, "HARTFORD, March 18, 1693," to Increase
Mather, as follows: "As to what you mention, concerning that poor
creature in your town that is afflicted, and mentioned my name to
yourself and son, I return you hearty thanks for your intimation about
it, and for your charity therein mentioned; and I have great cause to
bless God, who, of his mercy hitherto, hath not left me to fall into
such an horrid evil."--_History_, ii., 61, note.

Further, it was on account of some particular plan, in reference to the
management of this description of evidence, I am inclined to think, that
he felt the importance of being present at the trials. For this reason,
he laments the illness that prevented his accompanying Richards to the
Court, at its opening, on the second of June, to "assist the noble
service," as he says, "with the utmost of my little skill and care."

This language shows conclusively, by the way, the great influence he
had, at that time, in directing the Government, particularly the Court.
He would not have addressed one of the Judges, in such terms, had he not
felt that his "skill and care" would be recognized and permitted to take
effect. We may well lament, with him, that he could not have been
present at the first trial. It would not, then, have been left to
conjecture and scrutiny, to determine what his plan was; and an open
attempt, to bring the Court to adopt it, might have given another turn
to affairs.

In his Diary, on the twenty-ninth of April, is the following: "This day
I obtained help of God, that he would make use of me, as of a John, to
be a herald of the Lord's Kingdom, now approaching." "My prayers did
especially insist upon the horrible enchantments and possessions, broke
forth in Salem Village, things of a most prodigious aspect, a good issue
to those things, and my own direction and protection thereabouts, I did
especially petition for."

The date of this entry is important. On the eleventh, nineteenth, and
twenty second of April, impressive scenes had been exhibited at Salem
Village. Some of the most conspicuous cases of the preliminary
examinations of persons arrested had occurred. The necessary steps were
then being taken to follow up those examinations with a procedure that
would excite the country to the highest pitch. The arrangements, kept
concealed at Salem, and unsuspected by the public at large, were made
and perfected in Boston. On the day after the date of the foregoing
memorandum, a Magistrate in that place issued the proper order for the
arrest of the Rev. George Burroughs; and officers were started express
to Maine for that purpose. This was "the most prodigious aspect of
affairs" at the time. All the circumstances must have been known by
Mather. Hence his earnest solicitude that proceedings should be
conducted under his own "direction and protection." The use of these
terms, looks as if Mather contemplated the preliminary examinations as
to take place under his direction and management, and will be borne in
mind, when we come to consider the question of his having been, more or
less, present at them.

Disposed to take the most favorable and charitable view of such passages
as have now been presented, I would gather from them that his mind may
have recurred to his original and favorite idea, that prayer and fasting
were the proper weapons to wield against witchcraft; but if they failed,
then recourse was to be had to the terrors of the law. He desired to
have the afflicted and the accused placed under the treatment of some
one person, of discretion enough to make no ill use of their
communications, to whom "they might privately tell their minds," and
who, without "noise, company and openness," could keep, under his own
control, the dread secrets of the former and exorcise the latter. He was
willing, and desirous, of occupying this position himself, and of taking
its responsibility. To signify this, he offered to provide "meat, drink,
and lodging" for six of the afflicted children; to keep them "asunder in
the closest privacy;" to be the recipient of their visions; and then to
look after the accused, for the purpose of inducing them to confess and
break loose from their league with Satan; to be exempt, except when he
thought proper to do it, from giving testimony in Court, against parties
accused; and to communicate with persons, thus secretly complained of,
as he and his father afterwards did with the Secretary of Connecticut,
and taking, as in that case, if he saw fit, a bare denial as sufficient
for "sheltering" them, altogether, by keeping the accusation a profound
secret in his own breast, as he acknowledges he had done to a
considerable extent--at once claiming and confessing that he had "done
so much that way, as to sin in what he had done."

In language that indicates a correspondence and familiarity of
intercourse with persons, acting on the spot, at Salem Village, such as
authorized him to speak for them, he gives us to understand that they
concurred with him in his proposed method of treating the cases: "There
are very worthy men, who, having, been called by God, when and where
this witchcraft first appeared upon the stage, to encounter it, are
earnestly desirous to have it sifted unto the bottom of it." "Persons,
thus disposed, have been men eminent for wisdom and virtue." "They would
gladly contrive and receive an expedient, how the shedding of blood might
be spared, by the recovery of witches not beyond the reach of pardon.
And, after all, they invite all good men, in terms to this purpose."
"Being amazed at the number and quality of those accused, of late, we do
not know but Satan by his wiles may have enwrapt some innocent persons;
and therefore should earnestly and humbly desire the most critical
inquiry, upon the place, to find out the fallacy."--_Wonders_, 11.

Indeed, Parris and his coadjutors, at Salem Village, to whom these
passages refer, had, without authority, been, all along, exercising the
functions Mather desired to have bestowed upon him, by authority. They
had kept a controlling communication with the "afflicted children;"
determined who were to be cried out publicly against, and when; rebuked
and repressed the calling out, by name, of the Rev. Samuel Willard and
many other persons, of both sexes, of "quality," in Boston; and arranged
and managed matters, generally.

The conjecture I have ventured to make, as to Mather's plan of
procedure, explains, as the reader will perceive, by turning back to the
Minister's _Advice_, [_Pages 21, 22, ante_] much of the phraseology of
that curious document. "Very critical and exquisite caution," in the
_third_ Section; "that all proceedings thereabout be managed with an
exceeding tenderness towards those that may be complained of," in the
_fourth_; "we could wish that there may be admitted as little as
possible of such noise, company and openness, as may too hastily expose
them that are examined," in the _fifth_; and the entire _seventh_
Section, expressly authorize the suppression, disregard, and
_disbelief_, of _some_ of the Devil's accusations, on the grounds of
expediency and public policy.

Mather's necessary absence from the Court, at its first Session,
prevented his "skill and care" being availed of, or any attempt being
made to bring forward his plan. The proceedings, having thus commenced
in an ordinary way, were continued at the several adjournments of the
Court; and his experiment was never made.

The fallacy of his ideas and the impracticability of his scheme must,
indeed, have become evident, at the first moment it was brought under
consideration. Inexperienced and blinded, as they were, by the delusions
of the time and the excitements of the scene, and disposed, as they must
have been, by all considerations, to comply with his wishes, the Judges
had sense enough left to see that it would never do to take the course
he desired. The trials could not, in that event, have gone on at all.
The very first step would have been to abrogate their own functions as a
Court; pass the accusers and accused over to his hands; and adjourn to
wait his call. If the spectre evidence had been excluded from the
"noise, confusion and openness" of the public Court-room, there would
have been nothing left to go upon. If it had been admitted, under any
conditions or limitations, merely to disclose matter of "presumption," a
fatal difficulty would meet the first step of the enquiry. To the
question, "Who hurts you?" no answer could be allowed to be given; and
the "_Minister_," to whom the witness had confidentially given the names
of persons whose spectres had tormented her, sitting, perhaps, in the
Court-room at the time, would have to countenance the suppression of the
evidence, and not be liable to be called to the stand to divulge his

The attempt to leave the accusers and the accused to be treated by the
Minister selected for the purpose, in secure privacy, would have
dissolved the Court before it had begun; and if this was what Mather
meant when, afterwards, at any time, he endeavored to throw off the
responsibility of the proceedings, by intimating that his proffered
suggestions and services were disregarded, his complaint was most
unreasonable. The truth is, the proposal was wholly inadmissible, and
could not have been carried into effect.

Besides, it would have overthrown the whole system of organized society,
and given to whomsoever the management of the cases had thus, for the
time, been relinquished, a power too fearful to be thought of, as lodged
in one man, or in any private person. If he, or any other person, had
been allowed by the Court to assume such an office, and had been known
to hold, in secret custody, the accusing parties, receiving their
confidential communications, to act upon them as he saw fit--sheltering
some from prosecution and returning others to be proceeded against by
the Court, which would be equivalent to a conviction and execution--it
would have inaugurated a reign of terror, such as had not even then been
approached, and which no community could bear. Every man and woman would
have felt in the extremest peril, hanging upon the will of an
irresponsible arbiter of life and death.

Parris and his associates, acting without authority and in a limited
sphere, had tried this experiment; had spread abroad, terror, havoc, and
ruin; and incensed the surrounding region with a madness it took
generations to allay.

To have thought, for a moment, that it was desirable to be invested with
such a power, "by the authority," shows how ignorant Cotton Mather was
of human nature. However innocent, upright, or benevolent might be its
exercise, he would have been assailed by animosities of the deepest, and
approaches of the basest, kind. A hatred and a sycophancy, such as no
Priest, Pope, or despot before, had encountered, would have been brought
against him. He would have been assailed by the temptation, and aspersed
by the imputation, of "Hush money," from all quarters; and, ultimately,
the whole country would have risen against what would have been regarded
as a universal levy of "Black Mail." Whoever, at any time, in any
country, should undertake such an office as this, would be, in the end,
the victim of the outraged sensibilities and passions of humanity. How
long could it be endured, any where, if all men were liable to receive,
from one authorized and enabled to determine their fate, such a missive
as the Mathers addressed to the Secretary of Connecticut, and, at the
best, to be beholden, as he felt himself to be, to the "charity" that
might prevent their being exposed and prosecuted to the ruin of their
reputation, if not to an ignominious death?

Calef, alluding to Mather's pretensions to having been actuated by
"exceeding tenderness towards persons complained of," expresses the
sentiments all would feel, in such a condition of dependence upon the
"charity" of one, armed with such fatal power over them: "These are some
of the destructive notions of this age; and however the asserters of
them seem sometimes to value themselves much upon sheltering their
neighbors from spectral accusations, they may deserve as much thanks as
that Tyrant, that having industriously obtained an unintelligible charge
against his subjects, in matters wherein it was impossible they should
be guilty, having thereby their lives in his power, yet suffers them of
his mere grace to live, and will be called gracious Lord!"--_Preface._

The mere suspicion that some persons were behind the scene, exercising
this power of pointing out some for prosecution and sheltering some from
trial or arrest, produced, as Phips says, "a strange ferment of
dissatisfaction," threatening to kindle "an inextinguishable flame."
Brattle complained of it bitterly: "This occasions much discourse and
many hot words, and is a very great scandal and stumbling block to many
good people; certainly distributive justice should have its course,
without respect to persons; and, although the said Mrs. Thatcher be
mother-in-law to Mr. Curwin, who is one of the Justices and Judges, yet,
if justice and conscience do oblige them to apprehend others on account
of the afflicted their complaints, I cannot see how, without injustice
and violence to conscience, Mrs. Thatcher can escape, when it is well
known how much she is, and has been, complained of."--Letter dated
October 8th, 1692, in the _Massachusetts Historical Society's
Collections_, I., v., 69.

Hezekial Usher, an eminent citizen of Boston, was arrested by Joseph
Lynde, one of the Council, but suffered to remain, "for above a
fortnight," in a private house, and afterwards to leave the Province.
Brattle "cannot but admire" at this, and says: "Methinks that same
justice, that actually imprisoned others, and refused bail for them, on
any terms, should not be satisfied without actually imprisoning Mr. U.,
and refusing bail for him, when his case is known to be the very same
with the case of those others."

Brattle was a friend of Usher, and believed him innocent, yet was
indignant that such barefaced partiality should be shown in judicial
proceedings. The establishment of a regular systematized plan, committed
to any individual, for sheltering some, while others would be handed
back for punishment, would have been unendurable.

As it was, Mather exposed himself to much odium, because it was
understood that he was practising, on his own responsibility and
privately, upon the plan he wished the Judges to adopt, as a principle
and method of procedure, in all the trials. He says: "It may be, no man
living ever had more people, under preternatural and astonishing
circumstances, cast by the providence of God into his more particular
care than I have had."

Of course, those persons would be most obnoxious to ill-feeling in the
community, who were known, as he says of himself, in the foregoing
sentence, to have most intimacy with, and influence over, the accusers.
For this reason, Cotton Mather was the special object of resentment. No
wonder that he sometimes bewails, and sometimes berates, the storm of
angry passions raging around. A very bitter feeling pervaded the
country, grounded on the conviction that there was "a respect to
persons," and a connivance, in behalf of some, by those managing the
affair. The public was shocked by having such persons as the Rev. Samuel
Willard, Mrs. Hale of Beverly, and the Lady of the Governor, cried out
upon by the "afflicted children;" and the commotion was heightened by a
cross-current of indignant enquiries: "Why, as these persons are
accused, are they not arrested and imprisoned?"

Mather alludes, in frequent passages, to this angry state of feeling, as
the following: "It is by our quarrels that we spoil our prayers; and if
our humble, zealous, and united prayers are once hindered! Alas, the
Philistines of Hell have cut our locks for us; they will then blind us,
mock us, ruin us. In truth, I cannot altogether blame it, if people are
a little transported, when they conceive all the secular interests of
themselves and their families at stake, and yet, at the sight of these
heart-burnings, I cannot forbear the exclamation of the sweet-spirited
Austin, in his pacificatory epistle to Jerom, on the contest with
Ruffin, '_O misera et miseranda conditio!_'"--_Wonders_, 11.

There was another evil to which he exposed himself by seeking to have
such frequent, private, and confidential intercourse with the afflicted
accusers and confessing witches, who professed to have so often seen,
associated with, and suffered from, spectral images of the Devil's
confederates; which spectral shapes, as was believed, were, after all,
the Devil himself. He came under the imputation of what, in Scripture,
is pronounced one of the darkest of crimes. The same charge was made to
tell against Mr. Parris, helping effectually to remove him from the
ministry at Salem Village. _Leviticus_, xx., 6. "And the soul that
turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a
whoring after them, I will set my face against that soul, and will cut
him off from among his people." _1 Chronicles_, x., 13. "So Saul died
for his transgression, which he committed against the Lord, even
against the word of the Lord, which he kept not; and also, for asking
counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it, and
inquired not of the Lord, therefore he slew him."

For having so much to do with persons professing to suffer from, and
from others confessing to have committed, the sin of witchcraft, Mather
became the object of a scathing rebuke in the letter of Brattle, in a
passage I shall quote, in another connection.

Such, then, so far as I can gather, was Cotton Mather's plan for the
management of witchcraft investigations; such its impracticability; and
such the dangerous and injurious consequences to himself, of attempting
to put it into practice. He never fully divulged it; but, in the
_Advice_ of the Ministers and various other writings, endeavored to pave
the way for it. All the expressions, in that document and elsewhere,
which have deceived the Reviewer and others into the notion that he was
opposed to the admission of spectre evidence, at the trials, were used
as arguments to persuade "authority" not to receive that species of
evidence, in open Court, but to refer it to him, in the first instance,
to be managed by him with exquisite caution and discretion, and, thereby
avoid inconveniences and promote good results; and when he could not
subdue the difficulties of the case, to deliver back the obdurate and
unrepentant, to the Court, to be proceeded against in the ordinary
course of law. With this view, he has much to say that indicates a
tender regard to the prisoners. It is true that the scheme, if adopted,
would have given him absolute power over the community, and, for this
reason, may have had attraction. But, I doubt not, that he cherished it
from benevolent feelings also. He thought that he might, in that way, do
great good. But it could not be carried into effect. It was seen, at
once, by all men, who had any sense left, to be utterly impracticable,
and had to be abandoned. That being settled and disposed of, he went
into the prosecutions without misgivings, earnestly and vehemently
sustaining the Court, in all things, spectre evidence included, as
remains to be shown.



I shall continue to draw, at some length, upon Mather's writings, to
which I ask the careful attention of the reader. The subject to which
they mostly relate, is of much interest, presenting views of a class of
topics, holding, for a long period, a mighty sway over the human mind.

In his _Life of Phips_, written in 1697, and constituting the concluding
part of the Second Book of the _Magnalia_, he gives a general account of
what had transpired, in the preliminary examinations at Salem, before
the arrival of Sir William, at Boston. In it, he spreads out, with
considerable fullness, what had been brought before the Magistrates,
consisting mainly of spectral testimony; and narrates the appearances
and doings of spectres assaulting the "afflicted children," not as mere
matters alleged, but as facts. It is true that he appears as a narrator;
yet, in the manner and tenor of his statement, he cannot but be
considered as endorsing the spectral evidence. Speaking of the examining
Magistrates, and saying that it is "now," that is, in 1697, "generally
thought they went out of the way," he expresses himself as follows: "The
afflicted people vehemently accused several persons, in several places,
that the _spectres_ which afflicted them, did exactly resemble _them_;
until the importunity of the accusations did provoke the Magistrates to
examine them. When many of the accused came upon their examination, it
was found, that the demons, then a thousand ways abusing of the poor
afflicted people, had with a marvellous exactness represented them; yea,
it was found that many of the accused, but casting their eye upon the
afflicted, the afflicted, though their faces were never so much another
way, would fall down and lie in a sort of a swoon, wherein they would
continue, whatever hands were laid upon them, until the hands of the
accused came to touch them, and then they would revive immediately: and
it was found, that various kinds of natural actions, done by many of the
accused in or to their own bodies, as leaning, bending, turning awry, or
squeezing their hands, or the like, were presently attended with the
like things preternaturally done upon the bodies of the afflicted,
though they were so far asunder, that the afflicted could not at all
observe the accused."--_Magnalia_, Book II., p. 61.

Indeed, throughout his account of the appearances and occurrences, at
the examinations before the committing Magistrates, it must be allowed
that he exposed a decided bias, in his own mind, to the belief and
reception of the spectral evidence. He commences that account in these
words: "Some scores of people, first about Salem, the centre and
first-born of all the towns in the Colony, and afterwards in several
other places, were arrested with many preternatural vexations upon their
bodies, and a variety of cruel torments, which were evidently inflicted
from the demons of the invisible world. The people that were infected
and infested with such Demons, in a few days time, arrived at such a
refining alteration upon their eyes, that they could see their
tormentors; they saw a Devil of a little stature and of a tawny color,
attended still with spectres that appeared in more human
circumstances."--_Page 60._

And he concludes it as follows: "Flashy people may burlesque these
things, but when hundreds of the most sober people in a country, where
they have as much mother-wit certainly as the rest of mankind, know them
to be _true_, nothing but the absurd and froward spirit of Sadduceeism
can question them. I have not yet mentioned so much as one thing, that
will not be justified, if it be required, by the oaths of more
considerate persons, than any that can ridicule these odd
phenomena."--_Page 61._

When he comes to the conclusion of the affair, and mentions the general
pardon of the convicted and accused, he says: "there fell out several
strange things that caused the spirit of the country to run as
vehemently upon the acquitting of all the accused, as it had, by
mistake, ran at first upon the condemning of them." "In fine, the last
Courts that sate upon this thorny business, finding that it was
impossible to penetrate into the whole meaning of the things that had
happened, and that so many unsearchable cheats were interwoven into the
conclusion of a mysterious business, which perhaps had not crept
thereinto at the beginning of it, they cleared the accused as fast as
they tried them." But, even then, Mather could not wholly disengage his
mind from the "mistake." "More than twice twenty," he says, in
connection with the fact that the confessions had been receded from,
"had made such voluntary, and harmonious, and uncontrollable
confessions, that if they were all sham, there was therein the greatest
violation, made by the efficacy of the invisible world, upon the rules
of understanding human affairs, that was ever seen since God made man
upon the earth."

In this same work he presents, in condensed shape, the views of the
advocates and of the opponents of spectral testimony, without striking
the balance between them or avowedly taking sides with either, although
it may fairly be observed that the weight he puts into the scale of the
former is quite preponderating. From incidental expressions, too, it
might be inferred that he was to be classed with the former, as he
ascribes to them some "philosophical schemes," in explanation of the
phenomena of witchcraft, that look like his notion of the "Plastic
spirit of the world." Another incidental remark seems to point to
Increase Mather, as to be classed with the latter, as follows: "Though
against some of them that were tried, there came in so much other
evidence of their diabolical compacts, that some of the most judicious,
and yet vehement, opposers of the notions then in vogue, publicly
declared, _Had they themselves been on the Bench, they could not have
acquitted them_; nevertheless, divers were condemned, against whom the
chief evidence was founded in the spectral exhibitions."

Increase Mather, in the Postscript to his _Cases of Conscience_, says:
"I am glad that there is published to the World (by my Son) a _Breviate
of the Tryals_ of some who were lately executed, whereby I hope the
thinking part of Mankind will be satisfied, that there was more than
that which is called _Spectre Evidence_ for the Conviction of the
Persons condemned. I was not my self present at any of the Tryals,
excepting one, _viz._ that of _George Burroughs_; had I been one of his
Judges, I could not have acquitted him: For several Persons did upon
Oath testifie, that they saw him do such things as no Man that has not a
Devil to be his Familiar could perform."

It is observable that Increase Mather does not express or intimate, in
this passage, any objection to the introduction of spectral evidence.
When we come to consider Cotton Mather's _Breviate_ of the trial of
George Burroughs, we shall see how slight and inadequate was what
Increase Mather could have heard, _at the Trial_, to prove that
Burroughs had exhibited strength which the Devil only could have
supplied. The most trivial and impertinent matter was all that was
needed, to be added to spectral testimony, to give it fatal effect. The
value, by the way, of Increase Mather's averment, that "more than that
which is called Spectre Evidence" was adduced against the persons
convicted, is somewhat impaired by the admission of Cotton Mather, just
before quoted, that "divers were condemned," against whom it was the
"chief evidence."

In stating the objection, by some, to the admission of spectral
evidence, on the ground that the Devil might assume the shape of an
innocent person, and if that person was held answerable for the actions
of that spectral appearance, it would be in the power of the Devil to
convict and destroy any number of innocent and righteous people, and
thereby "subvert Government and disband and ruin human society," Cotton
Mather gets over the difficulty thus: "And yet God may sometimes suffer
such things to evene, that we may know, thereby, how much we are
beholden to him, for that restraint which he lays upon the infernal
spirits, who would else reduce a world into a chaos."

This is a striking instance of the way in which words may be made, not
only to cover, but to transform, ideas. A reverent form of language
conceals an irreverent conception. The thought is too shocking for plain
utterance; but, dressed in the garb of ingenious phraseology, it assumes
an aspect that enables it to pass as a devout acknowledgment of a divine
mystery. The real meaning, absurd as it is dreadful, to state or think,
is that the Heavenly Father sometimes may, not merely permit, but will,
the lies of the Devil to mislead tribunals of justice to the shedding of
the blood of the righteous, that he may, thereby show how we are
beholden to Him, that a like outrage and destruction does not happen to
us all. He allows the Devil, by false testimony, to bring about the
perpetration of the most horrible wrong. It is a part of the "Rectoral
Righteousness of God," that it should be so. What if the Courts do admit
the testimony of the Devil in the appearance of a spectre, and, on its
strength, consign to death the innocent? It is the will of God, that it
should be so. Let that will be done.

But however the sentiment deserves to be characterized, it removes the
only ground upon which, in that day, spectral evidence was objected
to--namely, that it might endanger the innocent. If such was the will of
God, the objectors were silenced.

In concluding the examination of the question whether Cotton Mather
denounced, or countenanced, the admission of spectral testimony--for
that is the issue before us--I feel confident that it has been made
apparent, that it was not in reference to the _admission_ of such
testimony, that he objected to the "principles that some of the Judges
had espoused," but to the method in which it should be _handled_ and
_managed_. I deny, utterly, that it can be shown that he opposed its
_admission_. In none of his public writings did he ever pretend to this.
The utmost upon which he ventured, driven to the defensive on this very
point, as he was during all the rest of his days, was to say that he was
opposed to its "excessive use." Once, indeed, in his private Diary,
under that self-delusion which often led him to be blind to the import
of his language, contradicting, in one part, what he had said in another
part of the same sentence, evidently, as I believe, without any
conscious and intentional violation of truth, he makes this statement:
"For my own part, I was always afraid of proceeding to convict and
condemn any person, as a confederate with afflicting Demons, upon so
feeble an evidence as a spectral representation. Accordingly, I ever
protested against it, both publicly and privately; and, in my letter to
the Judges, I particularly besought them that they would, by no means,
admit it; and when a considerable assembly of Ministers gave in their
advice about that matter, I not only concurred with them, but it was I
who drew it up."

This shows how he indulged himself in forms of expression that misled
him. His letter to "the Judges" means, I suppose, that written to
Richards; and he had so accustomed his mind to the attempt to make the
_Advice_ of the Ministers bear this construction, as to deceive
himself. That document does not say a word, much less, protest, against
the "admission" of that evidence: it was not designed, and was not
understood by any, at the time, to have that bearing, but only to urge
suggestions of caution, in its use and management. Charity to him
requires us to receive his declaration in the Diary as subject to the
modifications he himself connects with it, and to mean no more than we
find expressed in the letter to Richards and in the _Advice_. But, if he
really had deluded himself into the idea that he had protested against
the _admission_ of spectral evidence, he has not succeeded, probably, in
deluding any other persons than his son Samuel, who repeated the
language of the Diary, and our Reviewer.

The question, I finally repeat, is as to the admission of that species
of evidence, _at all_, in any stage, in any form, to any extent. Cotton
Mather never, in any public writing, "denounced the admission" of it,
never advised its absolute exclusion; but, on the contrary recognised it
as a ground of "presumption." Increase Mather stated that the "Devil's
accusations," which he considered spectral evidence really to be, "may
be so far regarded as to cause an enquiry into the truth of things."
These are the facts of history, and not to be moved from their
foundation in the public record of that day. There is no reason to doubt
that all the Ministers, in the early stages of the delusion, concurred
in these views. All partook of the "awe," mentioned by Mather, which
filled the minds of Juries, Judges, and the people, whenever this kind
of testimony was introduced. No matter how nor when, whether as
"presumption" to build other evidence upon or as a cause for further
"enquiry," nothing could stand against it. Character, reason, common
sense, were swept away. So long as it was suffered to come in, any how,
or to be credited at all, the horrid fanaticism and its horrible
consequences continued. When it was wholly excluded, the reign of terror
and of death ceased.



The spectral evidence was admitted; and the examinations and trials went
on. The question now arises, what was Cotton Mather's attitude towards
them? The scrutiny as to the meaning of his words is exhausted; and now
we are to interpret his actions. They speak louder and clearer than
words. Let us, in the first place, make the proper distinction between
the Examinations, on the arrest of the prisoners and leading to their
commitment, and the Trials. The first Warrants were issued on the
twenty-ninth of February, 1692; and the parties arrested were brought
before the Magistrates the next day. Arrests and Examinations occurred,
at short intervals, during three months, when the first trial was had;
and they were continued, from time to time, long after, while the
Special Court was in operation. They were, in some respects, more
important than the Trials. Almost all the evidence, finally adduced
before the Jury, was taken by the examining Magistrates; and being
mostly in the form of carefully written depositions, it was simply
reproduced, and sworn to, before the Court. Further, as no Counsel was
allowed the Prisoners, the Trials were quite summary affairs. Hutchinson
says, no difficulty was experienced; and the results were quickly
reached, in every case but that of Rebecca Nurse.

These two stages in the proceedings became confounded in the public
apprehension, and have been borne down by tradition, indiscriminately,
under the name of Trials. It was the succession, at brief intervals,
through a long period, of these Examinations, that wrought the great
excitement through the country, which met Phips on his arrival; and
which is so graphically described by Cotton Mather, as a "dreadful
ferment." He says he was not present at any of the Trials. Was he
present at any of the Examinations? The considerations that belong to
the solution of this question are the following:

When the special interest he must have taken in them is brought to mind,
from the turn of his prevalent thoughts and speculations, exhibited in
all his writings, and from the propensity he ever manifested to put
himself in a position to observe and study such things, it may be
supposed he would not have foregone opportunities like those presented
in the scenes before the Magistrates. While all other people, Ministers
especially, were flocking to them, it is difficult to conclude that he
held back. That he attended some of them is, perhaps, to be inferred
from the distinctive character of his language that he never attended a
_Trial_. The description given, in his _Life of Phips_, of what was
exhibited and declared by the "afflicted children," at the Examinations,
exhibits a minuteness and vividness, seeming to have come from an
eye-witness; but there is not a particular word or syllable, I think, in
the account, from which an inference, either way, can be drawn whether,
or not, he was present at them, personally. This is observable, I
repeat, inasmuch as he was careful to say that he was _not_ present at
the _Trials_.

The Examinations, being of a character to arrest universal attention,
and from the extraordinary nature of their incidents, as viewed by that
generation, having attractions, all but irresistible, it is not
surprising that, as incidentally appears, Magistrates and Ministers came
to them, from all quarters. No local occurrences, in the history of
this country, ever awakened such a deep, awe-inspiring, and amazed
interest. It can hardly be doubted that he was attracted to them. Can
any other inference be drawn from the passage already quoted, from his
Diary, that he felt called, "as a herald of the Lord's Kingdom, now
approaching," to give personal attendance, in "the horrible enchantments
and possessions broke forth at Salem Village?" There was a large
concourse of Magistrates and Ministers, particularly, on the
twenty-fourth of March, when Deodat Lawson preached his famous Sermon,
after the Examination of Rebecca Nurse; on the eleventh of April, when
the Governor and Council themselves conducted the Examination of John
Proctor and others; and, on the ninth of May, when Stoughton, from
Dorchester, and Sewall, from Boston, sat with the local Magistrates, and
the Rev. George Burroughs was brought before them. It is strange,
indeed, if Mather was not present, especially on the last occasion; and
it may appear, as we advance, that it is almost due to his reputation to
suppose that he was there, and thus became qualified and authorized to
pass the judgment he afterwards did.

Local tradition, of less value, in some respects, for reasons given in
my book, in reference to this affair than most others, but still of much
weight, has identified Cotton Mather with these scenes. The family, of
which John Proctor was the head, has continued to this day in the
occupancy of his lands. Always respectable in their social position,
they have perpetuated his marked traits of intellect and character. They
have been strong men, as the phrase is, in their day, of each
generation; and have constantly cherished in honor the memory of their
noble progenitor, who bravely breasted, in defence of his wife, the
fierce fanaticism of his age, and fell a victim to its fury and his own
manly fidelity and integrity. They have preserved, as much as any
family, a knowledge of the great tragedy; and it has been a tradition
among them that Cotton Mather took an active part in the prosecution of
Proctor. The representative of the family, in our day, a man of vigorous
faculties, of liberal education, academical and legal, and much
interested in antiquarian and genealogical enquiries, John W. Proctor,
presided at the Centennial Celebration, in Danvers, on the fifteenth of
June, 1852; and in his Address, expressed, no doubt, a transmitted
sentiment--although, as has generally been done, confounding the
Examinations with the Trials--in stating that Cotton Mather rendered
himself conspicuous in the proceedings against his ancestor.

Cotton Mather was the leading champion of the Judges. In his Diary, he
says: "I saw, in most of the Judges, a most charming instance of
prudence and patience; and I know the exemplary prayer and anguish of
soul, wherewith they had sought the direction of heaven, above most
other people; whom I generally saw enchanted into a raging, railing,
scandalous and unreasonable disposition, as the distress increased upon
us. For this cause, _though I could not allow the principles that some
of the Judges had espoused_, yet I could not but speak honorably of
their persons, on all occasions; and my compassion upon the sight of
their difficulties, raised by _my journeys to Salem_, the chief seat of
those diabolical vexations, caused me yet more to do so."

How, as he had not been present at any of the Trials, could he have
given this commendation of the bearing of the Judges, based, as he says,
upon what he had witnessed in visits to Salem? I can think of but one
way in which his statements can be reconciled. Five of the eight Judges
(Saltonstall's seat being vacant) Stoughton, Sewall, Gedney, Corwin and
Hathorne, severally, at different times, sat as Magistrates, at the
Examinations, which occasions were accompanied with vexations and
perplexities, calling for prudence and patience, much more than the
Trials. It is due, therefore, to Mather to suppose that he had
frequented the Examinations, and, thus acquired a right to speak of the
deportment of the Judges, "upon the _sight_ of their difficulties."

Much of the evidence given by the "afflicted children," at the
Examinations, can hardly be accounted for except as drawn from ideas
suggested by Mather, on the spot, so as to reach their ears. In the
testimony of Susannah Sheldon, against John Willard, on the ninth of
May, is the following singular statement: "There appeared to me a
Shining White man." She represents it as a good and friendly angel, or
spirit, accompanied by another "angel from Heaven," protecting her
against the spectre of John Willard.

Prefixed to the London Edition of the _Cases of Conscience_, printed in
1862, is a narrative, by Deodat Lawson, of some remarkable things he saw
and heard, connected with the witchcraft transactions at Salem Village.
In it, is the following statement: "The first of April, Mercy Lewis saw
in her fit, a white man, and was with him in a glorious place, which had
no candles nor sun, yet was full of light and brightness; where was a
great multitude in white glittering robes; and they sung the Song in
_Revelation_, v., 9, and the one hundred and tenth Psalm, and the one
hundred and forty-ninth Psalm; and said with herself, 'How long shall I
stay here?' 'Let me be along with you!' She was loth to leave the place;
and grieved that she could tarry no longer. This White man hath appeared
several times to some of them, and given them notice how long it should
be before they had another fit, which was, some times, a day, or day
and half, or more or less. It hath fallen out accordingly."

In the case of Margaret Rule, in Boston, the year after the Salem
Delusion, of which it is not to be questioned that Mather had the
management, this same "_White_" Spirit is made to figure; and also, in
another instance. Mather alludes to the "glorious and signal deliverance
of that poor damsel," Mercy Short, six months before. "Indeed," says he,
"Margaret's case was, in several points, less remarkable than Mercy's;
and in some other things the entertainment did a little vary." Margaret,
Mercy, and the "afflicted children" at Salem Village, all had their
"White Angel," as thus stated by Mather: "Not only in the Swedish, but
also in the Salem Witchcraft, the enchanted people have talked much of a
White Spirit, from whence they received marvellous assistances in their
miseries. What lately befell Mercy Short, from the communications of
such a Spirit, hath been the just wonder of us all; but by such a Spirit
was Margaret Rule now also visited. She says that she could never see
his face; but that she had a frequent view of his bright, shining and
glorious garments; he stood by her bed-side, continually, heartening and
comforting her, and counselling her to maintain her faith and hope in
God, and never comply with the temptations of her adversaries."--_Calef_,
3, 8.

This appearance of the "White and Shining," Spirit, or "White Angel,"
exercising a good and friendly influence, was entirely out of the line
of ordinary spectral manifestations; constituted a speciality in the
cases mentioned; and seems to have originated in the same source. Let
it, then, be considered that Cotton Mather's favorite precedent, which was
urged upon Sir William Phips, and which Mather brought to the notice of
Richards, and was so fond of citing in his writings, had a "White Angel."
In his account of the "most horrid outrage, committed in Sweedland by
Devils, by the help of witches," we find the following: "Some of the
children talked much of a White Angel, which did use to forbid them,
what the Devil had bid them to do, and assure them that these things
would not last long; but that what had been done was permitted for the
wickedness of the people. This White Angel would sometimes rescue the
children, from going in with the witches."--_Wonders_, 50.

Mr. Hale also notices this feature of the Salem Trials--that the
witnesses swore to "representations of heavenly beauty, white men."

Mather brought the story of this witchcraft "in Sweedland," before the
public, in America; he had the book that contained it; and was active
in giving it circulation. There can be little doubt that he was the
channel through which it found its way to the girls in the hamlet of
Salem Village. He was, it is evident, intimate with Parris. How far the
latter received his ideas from him, is, _as yet_, unknown. That they
were involved in the same responsibility is clear from the fact that
Parris fell back upon him for protection, and relied upon him, as his
champion, throughout his controversy with his people, occasioned by the
witchcraft transactions.

When these considerations are duly weighed, in connection with his
language in the passage of his Diary, just quoted--"I saw a most
charming instance of prudence and patience" in the Judges: "My
compassion upon the sight of their difficulties," "raised by my journeys
to Salem, the chief seat of those diabolical vexations"--it seems
necessary to infer, that his opportunities of _seeing_ all this, on the
occasions of his "journeys to Salem," must have been afforded by
attending the Examinations, held by the Magistrates who were also
Judges; as it is established, by his own averment, that he never saw
them on the Bench of the Court, at the Jury-trials. It is, therefore,
rendered certain, by his own language and by all the facts belonging to
the subject, that the purpose of his "journeys to Salem" was to attend
the Examinations. We are, indeed, shut up to this conclusion.

The Examinations were going on from the first of March, far into the
Summer of 1692. There is no intimation that either of the Mathers
uttered a syllable against the course pursued in them, before or after
the middle of May, when the Government passed into their almost
exclusive possession. All the way through, spectral evidence was
admitted, without restraint or a symptom of misgiving, on their part;
and, whether present or absent, they could not but have known all that
was going on.

Cotton Mather's "_journeys to Salem_," must have been frequent. If only
made two or three times, he would have said so, as he speaks of them in
an apologetic passage and when trying to represent his agency to have
been as little as the truth would allow.

The Reviewer states that the journeys were made for another purpose. He
states it positively and absolutely. "He made visits to Salem, as we
shall presently see, for quite another purpose than that which has been
alleged." This language surprised me, as it had wholly escaped my
researches; and the surprise was accompanied with pleasure, for I
supposed there must be some foundation for the declaration. I looked
eagerly for the disclosure about to be made, in some document, now, for
the first time, to be brought to light, from "original sources," such
as he, in a subsequent passage, informs us, Mr. Longfellow has had
access to. Great was my disappointment, to find that the Reviewer,
notwithstanding his promise to let us know the "other purpose" of
Mather's visits to Salem, has not given us a single syllable of
_information_ to that effect, but has endeavored to palm off, upon the
readers of the _North American Review_, a pure fiction of his own brain,
a mere conjecture, as baseless as it is absurd. He says that Mather made
his visits to Salem, as the "spiritual comforter" of John Proctor and
John Willard!

He further says, in support of this statement, "that Proctor and Willard
had been confined several months in the Boston Jail, and there,
doubtless, made Mr. Mather's acquaintance, as he was an habitual visitor
of the prison." This hardly accounts for "journeys to Salem," during
_those_ months. Salem was not exactly in Mr. Mather's way from his house
in Boston to the Jail in Boston.

As only a few days over four months elapsed between Proctor's being put
into the Boston Jail and his execution, deducting the "several months"
he spent there, but little time remained, after his transfer to the
Salem Jail, for Mather's "journeys to Salem," for the purpose of
administering spiritual consolation to him. So far as making his
"acquaintance," while in Boston Jail is regarded, upon the same ground
it might be affirmed that he was the spiritual adviser of the Prisoners
generally; for most of those, who suffered, were in Boston Jail as long
as Proctor; and he visited them all alike.

The Reviewer adduces not a particle of evidence to prove his absolute
statement, nor even to countenance the idea; but, as is his custom, he
transforms a conjecture into an established fact. On a bare surmise, he
builds an argument, and treats the whole, basis and superstructure, as
History. To show, more particularly, how he thus _makes History_, I must
follow this matter up a little further. Brattle, in his _Account of the
Witchcraft in the County of Essex, 1692_, has this paragraph, after
stating that the persons executed "went out of the world, not only with
as great protestations, but also with as great shows, of innocency, as
men could do:" "They protested their innocency as in the presence of the
great God, whom forthwith they were to appear before: they wished, and
declared their wish, that their blood might be the last innocent blood
shed upon that account. With great affection, they entreated Mr. C. M.
to pray with them: they prayed that God would discover what witchcrafts
were among us: they forgave their accusers: they spake without
reflection on Jury and Judges, for bringing them in guilty and
condemning them: [they prayed earnestly for pardon for all _other_ sins,
and for an interest in the precious blood of our dear Redeemer:] and
seemed to be very sincere, upright, and sensible of their circumstances
on all accounts; especially Proctor and Willard, whose whole management
of themselves, from the Jail to the Gallows, [and whilst at the
Gallows,] was very affecting and melting to the hearts of some
considerable spectators, whom I could mention to you:--[but they are
executed and so I leave them.]"--_Massachusetts Historical Collections_,
I., v., 68.

The Reviewer cites this paragraph, omitting the clauses I have placed
within brackets, _without any indication of the omissions_. The first of
the omitted clauses is a dying declaration of the innocence of the
sufferers, as to the crime alleged. The second proves that they "managed
themselves" after, as well as before, reaching the Gallows, and to their
dying moment--seeming to preclude the idea that their exercises of
prayer and preparation were directed or guided by any spiritual adviser.
The last is an emphatic and natural expression of Brattle's feelings and
judgment on the occasion.

The Reviewer follows his citation, thus: "Mr. Brattle mentions no other
person than Mr. C. M. as the comforter and friend of the sufferers,
especially Proctor and Willard." "In the above statement we trace the
character of their spiritual counsellor." "We now see the object of Mr.
Mather's visits to Salem." "Would these persons have asked Mr. Mather to
be their spiritual comforter, if he had been the agent, as has been
alleged, of bringing them into their sad condition?"

In other forms of language and other connections, he speaks of Mr.
Mather's presence, at these executions, as "the performance of a sad
duty to Proctor and Willard," and represents Brattle as calling him "the
spiritual adviser of the persons condemned." All this he asserts as
proved and admitted fact; and the whole rests upon the foregoing
_mutilated_ paragraph of Brattle.

Let the reader thoroughly examine and consider that paragraph, and then
judge of this Reviewer's claim to establish History. The word
"affection," was used much at that time to signify _earnest desire_.
"They"--that is, the persons then about to die, namely, the Rev. George
Burroughs, an humble, laborious, devoted Minister of the Gospel; John
Proctor, the owner of valuable farms and head of a large family; John
Willard, a young married man of most respectable connections; George
Jacobs, an early settler, land-holder, and a grandfather, of great age,
with flowing white locks, sustained, as he walked, by two staffs or
crutches; and Martha Carrier, the wife of a farmer in Andover, with a
family of children, some of them quite young--"entreated Mr. C. M. to
pray with them." Why did they have to "entreat" him, if he had come all
the way from Boston for that purpose? They all had Ministers near at
hand--Carrier had two Ministers, either or both of whom would have been
prompt to come, if persons suffering for the imputed crime of witchcraft
had been allowed to have the attendance of "spiritual comforters," at
their executions. If Mather had prayed with them, Brattle would have
said so. His language is equivalent to a statement, that "Mr. C. M." was
reluctant, if he did not absolutely refuse to do it; and the only
legitimate inferences from the whole passage are, that the sufferers did
their own praying,--from Brattle's account of their dying prayers, they
did it well--and that without "spiritual comforter," "adviser," or
"friend," in the last dread hour, they were left to the "management of

When the paragraph is taken in connection with the relations of Brattle
to Mather, not approving of his course in public affairs, but, at the
same time, delicately situated, being associated with him in important
public interests and leading circles, the conclusion seems probable that
he meant, in an indirect mode of expression, to notice the fact that
Mather refused to pray with the sufferers on the occasion. In fact, we
know that Nicholas Noyes, who was Proctor's Minister, refused to pray
with him, unless he would confess. Mather and Noyes were intimately
united by personal and professional ties of friendship and communion,
and probably would not run counter to each other, at such a time, and in
the presence of such a multitude of Ministers and people.

It is to be regarded exclusively as illustrating the shocking character
of the whole procedure of the witchcraft prosecutions, and not as a
personally harsh or cruel thing, that Noyes or Mather was unwilling to
pray with persons, at their public executions, who stood convicted of
being confederates of the Devil, and who, refusing to confess, retained
that character to the last. Ministers, like them, believing that the
convicts were malefactors of a far different and deeper dye than
ordinary human crime could impart, rebels against God, apostates from
Christ, sons of Belial, recruits of the Devil's army, sworn in
allegiance to his Kingdom, baptized into his church, beyond the reach of
hope and prayer, could hardly be expected to pray _with_ them. To _join_
them in prayer was impossible. To go through the forms of united prayer
would have been incongruous with the occasion, and not more inconsistent
with the convictions of the Ministers, than repugnant to the conscious
innocence and natural sensibilities of the sufferers. Condemned,
unconfessing, unrepentant witches might be prayed _for_, or _at_, but
not _with_.

The superior greatness of mind of Burroughs and his fellow sufferers,
the true spirit of Christian forgiveness elevating them above a sense of
the errors and wrongs of which they were the victims, are beautifully
and gloriously shown in their earnestly wishing and entreating Noyes and
Mather to pray with them. They pitied their delusion, and were desirous,
in that last hour, to regard them and all others as their brethren, and
bow with them before the Father of all. The request they made of
Christian Ministers, who, at the moment, regarded them as in league with
the Devil, might not be exactly logical; a failure to comply with it is
not a just matter of reproach; but the fact that it was repeated with
earnestness, "entreated with affection," shows that the last pulsations
of their hearts were quickened by a holy and heavenly Love.

The Reviewer asks: "Were those five persons executed that day without
any spiritual adviser?" There is no evidence, I think, to show that a
Minister ever accompanied, in that character, persons convicted of
witchcraft, at the place of execution. All that can be gathered from
Brattle's account is, that, on the occasion to which he is referring,
the sufferers _themselves_ offered public prayers. We know that Martha
Corey, at a subsequent execution, pronounced a prayer that made a deep
impression on the assembled multitude. Mr. Burroughs's prayer is
particularly spoken of. So, also, in England, when the Reverend Mr.
Lewis, an Episcopal clergyman, eighty years of age, and who, for fifty
years, had been Vicar of Brandeston, in the County of Suffolk, was
executed for alleged witchcraft, the venerable man read his own funeral
service, according to the forms of his Church, "committing his own body
to the ground, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal

This whole story of the spiritual relation between Mather and Proctor is
a bare fiction, entirely in conflict with all tradition and all
probability, without a shadow of support in any document adduced by the
Reviewer; and yet he would have it received as an established fact, and
incorporated, as such, in history. Liberties, like this, cannot be

Sewall's Diary, at the date of the nineteenth of August, 1692, has this
entry: "This day George Burrough, John Willard, John Proctor, Martha
Carrier, and George Jacobs were executed at Salem, a very great number
of spectators being present. Mr. Cotton Mather was there, Mr. Sims,
Hale, Noyes, Cheever, etc. All of them said they were innocent, Carrier
and all. Mr. Mather says they all died by a righteous sentence. Mr.
Burrough, by his Speech, Prayer, protestation of his innocence, did much
move unthinking persons, which occasioned the speaking hardly concerning
his being executed."

It is quite remarkable that Cotton Mather should have gone directly home
to Boston, after the execution, and made himself noticeable by
proclaiming such a harsh sentiment against _all_ the sufferers, if he
had just been performing friendly offices to them, as "spiritual
adviser, counsellor, and comforter." Clergymen, called to such
melancholy and affecting functions, do not usually emerge from them in
the frame of mind exhibited in the language ascribed to Mather, by
Sewall. It shows, at any rate, that Mather felt sure that Proctor went
out of the world, an unrepenting, unconfessing wizard, and, therefore,
not a fit subject for a Christian Minister to unite with in prayer.

One other remark, by the way. The account Sewall gives of the impression
made by Burroughs, on the spectators, now first brought to light, in
print, is singularly confirmatory of what Calef says on the subject.

My chief purpose, however, in citing this passage from Sewall's Diary,
is this. Mather was not present at the Trial of Burroughs. If he was not
present at his Examination before the Magistrates, how could he have
spoken, as he did, of the righteousness of his sentence? There had been
no Report or publication, in any way, of the evidence; and he could only
have received a competent knowledge of it from personal presence, on one
or the other of those occasions. He could not have been justified in so
confident and absolute a judgment, by mere hearsay. If that had been the
source of his information, he would have modified his language

There is one other item to be considered, in treating the question of
Mather's connection with the Examinations of the Prisoners, before the

When Proctor was awaiting his trial, during the short period, previous
to that event, that he was in the Salem Jail, he had addressed a letter
to "Mr. Mather, Mr. Allen, Mr. Moody, Mr. Willard and Mr. Baily," all
Ministers, begging them to intercede, in behalf of himself and
fellow-prisoners, to secure to them better treatment, especially a
fairer trial than they could have in Salem, where such a violent
excitement had been wrought up against them. From the character of the
letter, it is evident that it was addressed to them in the hope and
belief that they were accessible, to such an appeal. But one of the
Mathers is named. They were associate Ministers of the same Church.
Although the father was President of the College at Cambridge, he
resided in Boston, and was in the active exercise of his ministry there.
The question is, Which of them is meant? In my book, I expressed the
opinion that it was Increase, the father. The Reviewer says it was
Cotton, the son. It is a fair question; and every person can form a
judgment upon it. The other persons named, comprising the rest of the
Ministers then connected with the Boston Churches, are severally, more
or less, indicated by what has come to us, as not having gone to
extremes, in support of the witchcraft prosecutions.

Increase Mather was commonly regarded, upon whatever grounds, as not
going so far as his son, in that direction. The name, "Mr. Mather,"
heads the list. From his standing, as presiding over the College and the
Clergy, it was proper to give him this position. His age and seniority
of settlement, also entitled him to it. Usage, and all general
considerations of propriety, require us to assume that by "Mr. Mather,"
the _elder_ is meant. Cotton Mather, being the youngest of the Boston
Ministers, would not be likely to be the first named, in such a list.
Besides, he was considered, as he himself complains, as the "doer of all
the hard things, that were done, in the prosecution of the witchcraft."
Whoever concludes that Increase Mather was the person, in Proctor's
mind, will appreciate the fact that Cotton Mather is omitted in the
list. It proves that Proctor considered him beyond the reach of all
appeals, in behalf of accused persons; and tends to confirm the
tradition, in the family, that his course towards Proctor, when under
examination, either before the Magistrates or in Court, had indicated a
fixed and absolute prejudice or conviction against him. This Letter of
Proctor's, printed in my book, [_ii., 310_] utterly disperses the
visionary fabric of the Reviewer's fancy, that Cotton Mather was his
"spiritual adviser," counselling him in frequent visits to the Salem
Jail. It denounces, in unreserved language, "the Magistrates, Ministers,
Juries," as under the "delusion of the Devil, which we can term no
other, by reason we know, in our own consciences, we are all innocent
persons;" and is couched in a bold, outspoken and trenchant style, that
would have shocked and incensed Cotton Mather to the highest possible
degree. It is absolutely certain, that if Cotton Mather had been
Proctor's "friend and counsellor," a more prudent and cautious tone and
style would have been given to the whole document.

In concluding the considerations that render it probable that Cotton
Mather had much to do with the Examinations, it may be said, in general,
that he vindicates the course taken at them, in language that seems to
identify himself with them, and to prove that he could not have been
opposed to the methods used in them.



I now proceed to examine Cotton Mather's connection with the Trials at
Salem. It is fully admitted that he did not personally attend any of
them. His averment to this effect does not allow the supposition that he
could have deceived himself, on such a point. In his letter to Richards,
as has been seen, he expressed his great disappointment in not being
well enough to accompany him to this first Session of the Special Court;
and the tenor of the passage proves that he had fully expected and
designed to be present, at the trials, generally. Whether the same
bodily indisposition continued to forbid his attendance at its
successive adjournments, we cannot obtain information.

The first point of connection I can find between him and the trials, is
brought to view in a meeting of certain Ministers, after executions had
taken place, and while trials were pending.

Increase Mather, in his _Cases of Conscience_, has the following: "As
for the judgment of the Elders in New England, so far as I can learn,
they do generally concur with Mr. Perkins and Mr. Bernard. This I know,
that, at a meeting of Ministers at Cambridge, August 1, 1692, where were
present seven Elders, besides the President of the College, the question
then discoursed on, was, whether the Devil may not sometimes have a
permission to represent an innocent person as tormenting such as are
under diabolical molestations? The answer, which they all concurred in,
was in these words, viz. 'That the Devil may sometimes have a permission
to represent an innocent person as tormenting such as are under
diabolical molestations; but that such things are rare and
extraordinary, especially when such matters come before civil
judicatures'; and that some of the most eminent Ministers of the land,
who were not at that meeting, are of the same judgment, I am assured.
And I am also sure that, in cases of this nature, the Priest's lips
should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth.
_Mal._, 2, 7."

What was meant by the quotation from Malachi is left to conjecture. It
looks like the notion I have supposed Cotton Mather to have, more or
less, cherished, at different times--to have such cases committed to the
confidential custody and management of one or more Ministers. Whether
Cotton Mather, as well as his father, was at this meeting, is not
stated. The expressions "rare and extraordinary" and "sometimes have a
permission," and the general style of the language, are like his. At any
rate, in referring to the meeting, in his _Wonders of the Invisible
World_, he speaks of the Ministers present "as very pious and learned;"
says that they uttered the prevailing sense of others "eminently
cautious and judicious;" and declares that they "have both argument and
history to countenance them in it."

It is to be noticed, that this opinion of the Ministers, given on the
first of August, if it did not authorize the admission, without reserve
or limitation, of spectral evidence, in judicial proceedings, reduces
the objection to it to an almost inappreciable point.

Observe the date. Already six women, heads of families, many of them of
respectable positions in society, all in advanced life, one or two quite
aged, and two, at least, of the most eminent Christian character, had
suffered death, wholly from spectral evidence, that is, no other
testimony was brought against them, as all admit, that could, even then,
have convicted them. Twelve days had elapsed since five of them had been
executed; in four more days, six others were to be brought to trial,
among them the Rev. George Burroughs; and the Ministers pass a vote,
under the lead of Increase Mather, and with the express approval of
Cotton Mather, that there is very little danger of innocent people
suffering, in judicial proceedings, from spectral evidence.

Let us hear no more that the Clergy of New England accepted the
doctrines of those writers who had "declared against the admission of
spectral testimony;" that "the Magistrates rejected those doctrines;"
that "all the evils at Salem, grew out of the position taken by the
Magistrates;" and that "it had been well with the twenty victims at
Salem, if the Ministers of the Colony, instead of the Lawyers, had
determined their fate."

The Clergy of New England did, indeed, entertain great regard for the
authority of certain writers, who were considered as, more or less,
discrediting spectral evidence. The Mathers professed to concur with
them in that judgment; but the ground taken at the meeting on the first
of August, as above stated, was, it must be allowed, inconsistent with
it. The passages I have given, and shall give, from the writings of
Cotton Mather, will illustrate the elaborate ingenuity he displayed in
trying to reconcile a respect for the said writers with the admission of
that species of evidence, to an extent they were considered as

I am indebted to George H. Moore, LL.D., of New York city, for the
following important document. John Foster was, at its date, a member of
the Council. Hutchinson, who was his grandson, speaks of him [_History,
ii., 21_] as a "merchant of Boston of the first rank," "who had a great
share in the management of affairs from 1689 to 1692." In the latter
year, he was raised to the Council Board, being named as such in the new
Charter; and held his seat, by annual elections, to the close of his
life, in 1710. He seems to have belonged to the Church of the Mathers,
as the father and son each preached and printed a Sermon on the occasion
of his death.

    _Autograph Letter of COTTON MATHER, on Witchcraft, presented to the
    Literary and Historical Society, by the Honorable Chief-justice

                                                      17^th 6^m, 1692.


    "You would know whether I still retain my opinion about y^e horrible
    Witchcrafts among us, and I acknowledge that I do.

    "I do still Think That when there is no further Evidence against a
    person but only This, That a Spectre in their shape does afflict a
    neighbour, that Evidence is not enough to convict y^e * * * of

    "That the Divels have a natural power w^ch makes them capable of
    exhibiting what shape they please I suppose nobody doubts, and I
    have no absolute promise of God that they shall not exhibit _mine_.

    "It is the opinion generally of all protestant writers that y^e
    Divel may thus abuse y^e innocent, yea, tis y^e confession of some
    popish ones. And o^r Honorable Judges are so eminent for their
    Justice, Wisdom, & Goodness that whatever their own particular sense
    may bee, yett they will not proceed capitally against any, upon a
    principle contested with great odds on y^e other side in y^e Learned
    and Godly world.

    "_Nevertheless, a very great use is to bee made of y^e Spectral
    impression upon y^e sufferers. They Justly Introduce, and Determine,
    an Enquiry into y^e circumstances of y^e person accused; and they
    strengthen other presumptions._

    "_When so much use is made of those Things, I believe y^e use for
    w^ch y^e Great God intends y^m is made._ And accordingly you see
    that y^e Eccellent Judges have had such an Encouraging presence of
    God with them, as that scarce any, if at all any, have been Tried
    before them, against whom God has not strangely sent in other, &
    more Humane & most convincing Testimonies.

    "If any persons have been condemned, about whom any of y^e Judges,
    are not easy in their minds, that y^e Evidence against them, has
    been satisfactory, it would certainly bee for y^e glory of the
    whole Transaction to give that person a Reprieve.

    "It would make all matters easier if at least Bail were taken for
    people Accused only by y^e invisible tormentors of y^e poor
    sufferers and not Blemished by any further Grounds of suspicion
    against them.

    "The odd Effects produced upon the sufferers by y^e look or touch of
    the accused are things wherein y^e Divels may as much Impose upon
    some Harmless people as by the Representacôn of their shapes.

    "My notion of these matters is this. A Suspected and unlawful
    com'union with a Familiar Spirit, is the Thing enquired after. The
    communion on the _Divel's_ part, may bee proved, while, for ought I
    can say, The _man_ may bee Innocent; the Divel may impudently Impose
    his com'union upon some that care not for his company. But if the
    com'union on y^e man's part bee proved, then the Business is done.

    "I am suspicious Lest y^e Divel may at some time or other, serve us
    a trick by his constancy for a long while in one way of Dealing. Wee
    may find the Divel using one constant course in Nineteen several
    Actions, and yett hee bee too hard for us at last, if wee thence
    make a Rule to form an Infallible Judgement of a Twentieth. It is
    o^r singular Happiness That wee are blessed with Judges who are
    Aware of this Danger.

    "For my own part if the Holy God should permitt such a Terrible
    calamity to befal myself as that a Spectre in my Shape should so
    molest my neighbourhood, as that they can have no quiet, altho'
    there should be no other Evidence against me, I should very
    patiently submit unto a Judgement of _Transportation_, and all
    reasonable men would count o^r Judges to Act, as they are like y^e
    Fathers of y^e public, in such a Judgment. What if such a Thing
    should be ordered for those whose Guilt is more Dubious, and
    uncertain, whose presence y^s perpetuates y^e miseries of o^r
    sufferers? They would cleanse y^e Land of Witchcrafts, and yett also
    prevent y^e shedding of Innocent Blood, whereof some are so
    apprehensive of Hazard. If o^r Judges want any Good Bottom, to act
    thus upon, You know, that besides y^e usual power of Govern^es, to
    Relax many Judgments of Death, o^r General Court can soon provide a


    "You see y^e Incoherency of my Thoughts but I hope, you will also
    some Reasonableness in those Thoughts.

    "In the year 1645, a Vast Number of persons in y^e county of
    _Suffolk_ were apprehended, as Guilty of Witchcraft; whereof, some
    confessed. The parlament granted a special commission of _Oyer &
    Terminer_ for y^e Trial of those Witches; in w^ch com'ission, there
    were a famous Divine or two, M^r _Fariclough_ particularly inserted.
    That Eccellent man did preach two sermons to y^e Court, before his
    first sitting on y^e Bench: Wherein having first proved the
    Existence of Witches, hee afterwards showed y^e Evil of Endeavouring
    y^e Conviction of any upon Defective Evidence. The Sermon had the
    Effect that none were Condemned, who could bee saved w^thout an
    Express Breach of y^e Law; & then tho' 'twas possible some Guilty
    did Escape, yett the troubles of those places, were, I think

    "O^r case is Extraordinary. And so, you and others will pardon y^e
    Extraordinary Liberty I take to address You on this occasion. But
    after all, I Entreat you, that whatever you do, you Strengthen y^e
    Hands of o^r Honourable Judges in y^e Great work before y^m. They
    are persons, for whom no man living has a greater veneration, than

                                                Your Servant
                                                            C. MATHER.

    "For the Honourable JOHN FOSTER, ESQ."

This letter must be considered, I think, as settling the question. It
was written two days before the execution of Burroughs, Proctor, and
others. It entirely disposes of the assertions of the Reviewer, that
Mather "denounced" the "admission" of spectral testimony, and
demonstrates the truth of the positions, taken in this article, that he
authorized fully its admission, as affording occasion of enquiry and
matter of presumption, sufficient, if reinforced by other evidence, to
justify conviction. The sentences I have italicised leave no further
room for discussion. The language in which the Judges and their conduct
of the Trials are spoken of, could not have been stronger. The reference
to the course taken in England, in 1645, sheds light upon the
suggestions I have made, as to Mather's notion, that one or more
Ministers--"a famous Divine or two,"--ought to have been connected, "by
authority," with the Court of Oyer and Terminer, in the management of
the cases. The idea thrown out, as to Transportation, could hardly, it
would seem, but have been apparent to a reflecting person, as utterly
impracticable. No convicts or parties under indictment or arrest for the
crime of witchcraft, could have been shipped off to any other part of
the British dominions. A vessel, with persons on board, with such a
stamp upon them, would have been everywhere repelled with as much
vehemence and panic, as if freighted with the yellow fever, small-pox,
or plague. If the unhappy creatures she bore beneath her hatches, should
have been landed in any other part of the then called Christian or
civilized world, stigmatized with the charge of witchcraft, they would
have met with the halter or the fagot; and scarcely have fared better,
if cast upon any savage shore.

We have seen how our Reviewer _makes_, let us now see how he _unmakes_,

Robert Calef, in his book entitled _More Wonders of the Invisible
World_, Part V., under the head of "An impartial account of the most
memorable matters of fact, touching the supposed Witchcraft in New
England," [_p. 103_,] says: "Mr. Burroughs was carried in a cart, with
the others, through the streets of Salem to execution. When he was upon
the ladder, he made a speech for the clearing of his 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. When he was cut down, he was dragged by the halter
to a hole, or grave, between the rocks, about two feet deep, his shirt
and breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of trowsers of one
executed, put on his lower parts; he was so put in, together with
Willard and Carrier, that one of his hands and his chin, and a foot of
one of them, were left uncovered."

The Reviewer undertakes to set aside this statement; to erase it
altogether from the record; and to throw it from the belief and memory
of mankind. But this cannot be done, but by an arbitrary process, that
would wipe out all the facts of all history, and leave the whole Past an
utter blank. If any record has passed the final ordeal, this has. It is
beyond the reach of denial; and no power on earth can start the solid
foundation on which it stands. It consists of distinct, plainly stated
averments, which, as a whole, or severally, if not true, and known to be
true, might have been denied, or questioned, at the time. Not disputed,
nor controverted, then, it never can be. If not true to the letter, so
far as Cotton Mather is concerned, hundreds, nay thousands, were at
hand, who would have contradicted it. Certificates without number, like
that of John Goodwin, would have been procured to invalidate it.
Consisting of specifications, in detail, if there had been in it the
minutest item that could have admitted contradiction, it would have been
seized upon, and used with the utmost eagerness to break the force of
the statement. It was printed at London, in 1700, in a volume accredited
there, and immediately put into circulation here, twenty-eight years
before the death of Mather. He had a copy of it, now in possession of
the Massachusetts Historical Society, and wrote on the inside of the
front cover, "My desire is, that mine adversary had written a book,"
etc. His father, the President of Harvard University, had a copy; for
the book was burned in the College-square. Everything contributed to
call universal attention to it. Its author was known, avowed, and his
name printed on the title page; he lived in the same town with Mather;
and was in all respects a responsible man.

No attempt was made, at the time, nor at any time, until now, to
overthrow the statement or disprove any of its specifications.

Let us see how the Reviewer undertakes to controvert it. As to Mather's
being on horseback, the argument seems to be, that it was customary,
then, for people to travel in that way!

The harangue to the people to prevail upon them to pay no heed to the
composed, devout, and forgiving deportment of the sufferers, because the
Devil often appeared as an Angel of Light, sounded strangely from one
who had attended the prisoners as their "spiritual comforter and
friend." It was a queer conclusion of his services of consolation and
pastoral offices, to proclaim to the crowd, that the truly Christian
expressions of the persons in his charge were all a diabolical sham. One
would have thought, if he accompanied them in the capacity alleged, he
would have dismounted before ascending the hill, and tenderly waited
upon them, side by side, holding them by the hand and sustaining them by
his arm, as they approached the fatal ladder; and that his last
benedictions, upon their departing souls, would have been in somewhat
different language. That language was entirely natural, however,
believing, as he did, that they were all guilty of the unpardonable sin,
in its blackest dye; that, obstinately refusing to confess, they were
reprobates, sunk far below the ordinary level of human crime, beyond the
pale of sympathy or prayer, enemies of God, in covenant with the Devil,
and firebrands of Hell. All this he believed. Of course, he could not
pray _with_, and could hardly be expected to pray _for_, them. The
language ascribed to him by Calef, expressed his honest convictions;
bears the stamp of credibility; was not denied or disavowed, then; and
cannot be discredited, now.

If those sufferers, wearing the resplendent aspect of faith,
forgiveness, and piety, in their dying hour, were, in reality, "the
Devil appearing as the Angel of Light," nobody but the Reviewer is to
blame for charging Mather with being his "spiritual adviser and

The Reviewer says that the horse Mather rode on that occasion, "has been
tramping through history, for nearly two centuries. It is time that he
be reined up." Not having been reined up by Mather, it is in vain for
the Reviewer to attempt it. Mazeppa, on his wild steed, was not more
powerless. The "man on horseback," described by Calef, will go tramping
on through all the centuries to come, as through the "nearly two
centuries" that have passed.

To discredit another part of the statement of Calef, the Reviewer cites
the _Description and History of Salem_, by the Rev. William Bentley, in
the Sixth Volume of the First Series of the _Massachusetts Historical
Collections_, printed in 1800, quoting the following passage: "It was
said that the bodies were not properly buried; but, upon an examination
of the ground, the graves were found of the usual depth, and remains of
the bodies, and of the wood in which they were interred."

At the time when this was written, there was a tradition to that effect.
But it is understood that, early in this century, an examination was
made of the spot, pointed out by the tradition upon which Bentley had
relied, and nothing was found to sustain it. It is apparent that this
tradition was, to some extent, incorrect, because it is quite certain
that three, and probably most, of the bodies were recovered by their
friends, at the time; but chiefly because it is believed, on sufficient
grounds, that the locality, indicated in the tradition that had reached
Doctor Bentley, was, in 1692, covered by the original forest. Of course,
a passage through woods, to a spot, even now, after the trees have been
wholly removed from the hill and all its sides, so very difficult of
access, would not have been encountered; neither can it be supposed that
an open area would have been elaborately prepared for the place of
execution, in the midst of a forest, entirely shut in from observation,
by surrounding trees, with their thick foliage, in that season of the
year. If seclusion had been the object, a wooded spot might have been
found, near at hand, on level areas, anywhere in the neighborhood of the
town. But it was not a secluded, but a conspicuous, place that was
sought; not only an elevated, but an open, theatre for the awe-inspiring
spectacle, displaying to the whole people and world--to use the language
employed by Mather, in the _Advice of the Ministers_ and in one of his
letters to Richards--the "Success" of the Court, in "extinguishing that
horrible witchcraft."

Another tradition, brought down through a family, ever since residing on
the same spot, in the neighborhood, and from the longevity of its
successive heads, passing through but few memories, and for that reason
highly deserving of credit, is, that its representative, at that time,
lent his aid in the removal of the bodies of the victims, in the night,
and secretly, across the river, in a boat. The recollections of the
transaction are preserved in considerable detail. From the locality, it
is quite certain that the bodies were brought to it from the southern
end of Witch-hill. From a recently-discovered letter of Dr. Holyoke,
mentioned in my book [_ii., 377_], it appears that the executions must
have taken place there. The earth is so thin, scattered between
projecting ledges of rock, which, indeed, cover much of the surface,
that few trees probably ever grew there; and a bare, elevated platform
afforded a conspicuous site, and room for the purpose. These
conclusions, to which recent discoveries and explorations have led,
remarkably confirm Calef's statements. From Sheriff Corwin's _Return_,
we know that the first victim was buried "in the place" where she was
executed; and it may be supposed all the rest were. The soil is shallow,
near the brow of the precipice and between the clefts of the rock.

The Reviewer desires to know my authority for saying that the ground,
where Burroughs was buried, "was trampled down by the mob." I presume
that when, less than five weeks afterwards, eight more persons were
hanged there, belonging to respectable families in what are now Peabody,
Marblehead, Topsfield, Rowley and Andover, as well as Salem, and a
spectacle again presented to which crowds flocked from all quarters, and
to which many particularly interested must have been drawn, besides
those from the populous neighborhood, especially if men "on horseback"
mingled in the throng, the ground must have been considerably trampled
upon. Poor Burroughs had been suddenly torn from his family and home,
more than a hundred miles away; there were no immediate connections,
here, who would have been likely to recover his remains; and, it is
therefore probable, they had been left where they were thrown, near the
foot of the gallows.

There is one point upon which the Reviewer is certain he has
"demolished" Calef. The latter speaks of the victims as having been
hanged, one after another. The Reviewer says, the mode of execution was
to have them "swung off at once;" and further uses this argument: "Calef
himself furnishes us with evidence that such was the practice in Salem,
where eight persons were hanged thirty-six days later. He says, 'After
the execution, Mr. Noyes, turning him to the bodies, said--What a sad
thing it is to see eight firebrands of Hell hanging there.'"

The argument is, eight were hanging there together, after the execution;
therefore, they must have been swung off at the same moment!

This is a kind of reasoning with which--to adopt Mather's expression in
describing diabolical horrors, capital trials, and condemnations to
death--we are "entertained" throughout by the Reviewer. The truth is, we
have no particular knowledge of the machinery, or its operations, at
these executions. A "halter," a "ladder," a "gallows," a "hangman," are
spoken of. The expression used for the final act is, "turned off." There
is no shadow of evidence to contradict Calef. The probabilities seem to
be against the supposition of a structure, on a scale so large, as to
allow room for eight persons to be turned off at once. The outstretching
branches from large trees, on the borders of the clearing, would have
served the purpose, and a ladder, connected with a simple frame, might
have been passed from tree to tree.

The Regicides, thirty years before, had been executed in England in the
method Calef understood to have been used here. Hugh Peters was carried
to execution with Judge Cook. The latter suffered first; and when Peters
ascended the ladder, turning to the officer of the law, he uttered these
memorable words, exhibiting a state of the faculties, a grandeur of
bearing, and a force and felicity of language and illustration, all the
circumstances considered, not surpassed in the records of Christian
heroism or true eloquence: "Sir, you have slain one of the servants of
God, before mine eyes, and have made me to behold it, on purpose to
terrify and discourage me; but God hath made it an ordinance unto me,
for my strengthening and encouragement."

While the trials were going on, Mather made use of his pulpit to
influence the public mind, already wrought up to frenzy, to greater
heights of fanaticism, by portraying, in his own peculiar style, the
out-breaking battle between the Church and the Devil. On the day before
Burroughs, who was regarded as the head of the Church, and General of
the forces, of Satan, was brought to the Bar, Mather preached a Sermon
from the text, _Rev._, xii., 12. "Wo to the inhabitants of the earth,
and of the Sea! for the Devil is come down unto you, having great wrath,
because he knoweth he hath but a short time." It is thickly interspersed
with such passages as these: "Now, at last, the Devils are, (if I may so
speak), _in Person_ come down upon us, with such a wrath, as is most
justly _much_, and will quickly be _more_, the astonishment of the
world." "There is little room for hope, that the great wrath of the
Devil will not prove the ruin of our poor New England, in particular. I
believe there never was a poor plantation more pursued by the wrath of
the Devil than our poor New England." "We may truly say, _Tis the hour
and power of darkness_. But, though the wrath be so great, the time is
but short: when we are perplexed with the wrath of the Devil, the word
of our God, at the same time, unto us, is that in _Rom._, xvi., 20.
'_The God of Peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly._'
Shortly, didst thou say, dearest Lord? O gladsome word! Amen, even so,
come Lord! Lord Jesus, come quickly! We shall never be rid of this
troublesome Devil, till thou do come to chain him up."--_Wonders, etc._

There is much in the Sermon that relates to the sins of the people,
generally, and some allusions to the difficulties that encompass the
subject of diabolical appearances; but the witchcraft in Salem is
portrayed in colors, which none but a thorough believer in all that was
there brought forward, could apply; the whole train of ideas and
exhortations is calculated to inflame the imaginations and passions of
the people; and it is closed by "An hortatory and necessary Address to a
country now extraordinarily alarum'd by the Wrath of the Devil." In this
Address, he goes, at length, into the horrible witchcraft at Salem
Village. "Such," says he, "is the descent of the Devil, at this day,
upon ourselves, that I may truly tell you, the walls of the whole world
are broken down." He enumerates, as undoubtedly true, in detail, all
that was said by the "afflicted children" and "confessing witches." He
says of the reputed witches: "They each of them have their spectres or
devils, commissioned by them, and representing of them, to be the
engines of their malice." Such expressions as these are scattered over
the pages, "wicked spectres," "diabolical spectres," "owners of
spectres," "spectre's hands," "spectral book," etc.

And yet it is stated, by the Reviewer, that Mather was opposed to
spectral evidence, and denounced it! He gave currency to it, in the
popular faith, during the whole period, while the trials and executions
were going on, more than any other man.

He preached another Sermon, of the same kind, entitled, _The Devil

After the trials by the Special Court were over, and that body had been
forbidden to meet on the day to which it had adjourned, he addressed
another letter to John Richards, one of its members, dated "Dec. 14th,
1692," to be found in the _Mather Papers_, p. 397. It is a
characteristic document, and, in some points of view, commendable. Its
purpose was to induce Richards to consent to a measure he was desirous
of introducing into his pastoral administration, to which Richards and
one other member of his Church had manifested repugnance. Cotton Mather
was in advance of his times, in liberality of views, relating to
denominational matters. He desired to open the door to the Ordinances,
particularly Baptism, wider than was the prevalent practice. He urges
his sentiments upon Richards in earnest and fitting tones; but resorts,
also, to flattering, and what may be called coaxing, tones. He calls
him, "My ever-honored Richards," "Dearest Sir," "my dear Major," and
reminds him of the public and constant support he had given to his
official conduct: "I have signalized my perpetual respects before the
whole world." In this letter, he refers to the Salem witchcraft
prosecutions, and pronounces unqualified approval and high encomiums
upon Richards's share in the proceedings, as one of the Judges. "God has
made more than an ordinary use of your honorable hand," in "the
extinguishing" of "that horrible witchcraft," into which "the Devils
have been baptizing so many of our miserable neighbors." This language
is hardly consistent with a serious, substantial, considerable, or
indeed with any, disapprobation of the proceedings of the Court.


[3] _Transactions of the Literary and Historical Society of
Quebec_--Octavo, Quebec, 1831--ii., 313-316.



I come now to the examination of matters of interest and importance, not
only as illustrating the part acted by Mather in the witchcraft affair,
but as bearing upon the public history of the Province of Massachusetts
Bay, at that time.

The reader is requested carefully to examine the following letter,
addressed by Cotton Mather to Stephen Sewall, Clerk of the Court at

                                              "BOSTON, Sept. 20, 1692.


    "It is my hap, to bee continually * * * with all sorts of
    objections, and objectors against the * * * work now doing at Salem,
    and it is my further good hap, to do some little Service for God and
    you, in my encounters.

    "But, that I may be the more capable to assist, in lifting up a
    standard against the infernal enemy, I must renew my most
    IMPORTUNATE REQUEST, that would please quickly to perform, what you
    kindly promised, of giving me a narrative of the evidence given in
    at the trials of half a dozen, or if you please, a dozen, of the
    principal witches, that have been condemned. I know 'twill cost you
    some time; but when you are sensible of the benefit that will
    follow, I know you will not think much of that cost, and my own
    willingness to expose myself unto the utmost for the defence of my
    friends with you, makes me presume to plead something of merit, to
    be considered.

    "I shall be content, if you draw up the desired narrative by way of
    letter to me, or at least, let it not come without a letter, wherein
    you shall, if you can, intimate over again, what you have sometimes
    told me, of the awe, which is upon the hearts of your Juries, with
    * * * unto the validity of the spectral evidences.

    "Please also to * * * some of your observations about the
    confessors, and the credibility of what they assert; or about things
    evidently preternatural in the witchcrafts, and whatever else you
    may account an entertainment, for an inquisitive person, that
    entirely loves you, and Salem. Nay, though I will never lay aside
    the character which I mentioned in my last words, yet, I am willing
    that, when you write, you should imagine me as obstinate a Sadducee
    and witch-advocate, as any among us: address me as one that believed
    nothing reasonable; and when you have so knocked me down, in a
    spectre so unlike me, you will enable me to box it about, among my
    neighbors, till it come, I know not where at last.

    "But assure yourself, as I shall not wittingly make what you write
    prejudicial to any worthy design, which those two excellent persons,
    Mr. Hale and Mr. Noyes, may have in hand, so you shall find that I
    shall be,

                                       "Sir, your grateful friend,
                                                           C. MATHER."

    "P. S. That which very much strengthens the charms of the request,
    which this letter makes you, is that his Excellency, the Governor,
    laid his positive commands upon me to desire this favor of you; and
    the truth is, there are some of his circumstances with reference to
    this affair, which I need not mention, that call for the expediting
    of your kindness, _kindness_, I say, for such it will be esteemed,
    as well by him, as by your servant, C. MATHER."

The point, on which the Reviewer raises an objection to the statement in
my book, in reference to this letter, is, as to the antecedent of "it,"
in the expression, "box it about." The opinion I gave was that it
referred to the document requested to be sent by Sewall. The Reviewer
says it refers to "a Spectre," in the preceding line, or as he expresses
it, "the fallen Spectre of Sadduceeism." Every one can judge for himself
on inspection of the passage. After all, it is a mere quibbling about
words, for the meaning remains substantially the same. Indeed, that
which he gives is more to my purpose. Let it go, that Mather desired the
document, and intended to use it, to break down all objectors to the
work then doing in Salem. Whoever disapproved of such proceedings, or
intimated any doubt concerning the popular notions about witchcraft,
were called "Sadducees and witch-advocates." These terms were used by
Mather, on all occasions, as marks of opprobrium, to stigmatize and
make odious such persons. If they could once be silenced, witchcraft
demonstrations and prosecutions might be continued, without impediment
or restraint, until they should "come," no one could tell "where, at
last." "The fallen Spectre of Sadduceeism" was to be the trophy of
Mather's victory; and Sewall's letter was to be the weapon to lay it

Each of the paragraphs of this letter demonstrates the position Mather
occupied, and the part he had taken, in the transactions at Salem. Mr.
Hale had acted, up to this time, earnestly with Noyes and Parris; and
the letter shows that Mather had the sympathies and the interests of a
cooperator with them, and in their "designs." Every person of honorable
feelings can judge for himself of the suggestion to Sewall, to be a
partner in a false representation to the public, by addressing Mather
"in a spectre so unlike" him--that is, in a character which he, Sewall,
knew, as well as Mather, to be wholly contrary to the truth. Blinded,
active, and vehement, as the Clerk of the Court had been, in carrying on
the prosecutions, it is gratifying to find reason to conclude that he
was not so utterly lost to self-respect as to comply with the jesuitical
request, or lend himself to any such false connivance.

The letter was written at the height of the fury of the delusion,
immediately upon a Session of the Court, at which all tried had been
condemned, eight of whom suffered two days after its date. Any number of
others were under sentence of death. The letter was a renewal of "a most
importunate request."

I cite it, here, at this stage of the examination of the subject,
particularly on account of the postscript. Every one has been led to
suppose that "His Excellency, the Governor," who had laid such "positive
commands" upon Mather to obtain the desired document from Sewall, was
Sir William Phips. The avowed purpose of Mather, in seeking it, was to
put it into circulation--to "box it about"--thereby to produce an
effect, to the putting down of Sadduceeism, or all further opposition to
witchcraft prosecutions. He, undoubtedly, contemplated making it a part
of his book, the _Wonders of the Invisible World_, printed, the next
year, in London. The statement made by him always was, that he wrote
that book in compliance with orders laid upon him to that effect by "His
Excellency, the Governor." The imprimatur, in conspicuous type, in front
of one of the editions of the book, is "Published by the special command
of his Excellency, the Governor of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay
in New England."

On the sixteenth of September, Sir William Phips had notified the
Council of his going to the eastward; and that body was adjourned to
the fourteenth of October. From his habitual promptness, and the
pressing exigency of affairs in the neighborhood of the Kennebec, it is
to be presumed that he left immediately; and, as it was expected to be a
longer absence than usual, it can hardly be doubted that, as on the
first of August, he formally, by a written instrument, passed the
Government over to Stoughton. At any rate, while he was away from his
Province proper, the Deputy necessarily acceded to the Executive

In the Sewall Diary we find the following: "SEPT. 21. A petition is sent
to Town, in behalf of Dorcas Hoar, who now confesses. Accordingly, an
order is sent to the Sheriff to forbear her execution, notwithstanding
her being in the Warrant to die to-morrow. This is the first condemned
person who has confessed."

The granting of this reprieve was an executive act, that would seem to
have belonged to the functions of the person filling the office of
Governor; and Phips being absent, it could only have been performed by
Stoughton, and shows, therefore, that he, at that time, acted as
Governor. As such, he was, by custom and etiquette, addressed--"His
Excellency." The next day, eight were executed, four of them having been
sentenced on the ninth of September, and four on the seventeenth, which
was on Saturday. The whole eight were included, as is to be inferred
from the foregoing entry, and is otherwise known, in the same Warrant,
which could not, therefore, have been made out before the nineteenth.
The next day, Mather wrote the letter to Sewall; and the language, in
its Postscript, may have referred to Stoughton; particularly this
clause: "There are some of his circumstances, with reference to this
affair." As Phips had, from the first, left all the proceedings with the
Chief-justice, who had presided at all the trials, and was, by universal
acknowledgment, especially responsible for all the proceedings and
results, the words of Mather are much more applicable to Stoughton than
to Phips.

Upon receiving these "importunate requests" from Mather, proposing such
a form of reply, to be used in such a way, Sewall thought it best to
adopt the course indicated in the following entry, in the Diary of his
brother, the Judge: "THURSDAY, SEPT. 22, 1692. William Stoughton, Esq.,
John Hathorne, Esq., Mr. Cotton Mather, and Capt. John Higginson, with
my brother St. were at our house, speaking about publishing some trials
of the witches."

It appears that Stephen Sewall, instead of answering Mather's letter in
writing, went directly to Boston, accompanied by Hathorne and Higginson,
and met Mather and Stoughton at the house of the Judge. No other
Minister was present; and Judge Sewall was not Mather's parishioner.
The whole matter was there talked over. The project Mather had been
contemplating was matured; and arrangements made with Stephen Sewall,
who had them in his custody, to send to Mather the Records of the
trials; and, thus provided, he proceeded, without further delay, in
obedience to the commands laid upon him by "his Excellency," to prepare
for the press, _The Wonders of the Invisible World_, which was designed
to send to the shades, "Sadduceeism," to extirpate "witch-advocates,"
and to leave the course clear for the indefinite continuance of the
prosecutions, until, as Stoughton expressed it, "the land was cleared"
of all witches.

The presence of the Deputy-governor, at this private conference, shows
the prominent part he bore in the movement, and corroborates, what is
inferrible from the dates, that he was "His Excellency, the Governor,"
referred to in the documents connected with this transaction. It is
observable, by the way, that the references are always to the official
character and title, and not to the name of the person, whether Phips or

I now proceed to examine the book, written and brought forward, under
these circumstances and for this purpose. It contains much of which I
shall avail myself, to illustrate the position and the views of Mather,
at the time. The length to which this article is extended, by the method
I have adopted of quoting documents so fully, is regretted; but it seems
necessary, in order to meet the interest that has been awakened in the
subject, by the article in the _North American Review_, to make the
enquiry as thorough as possible.

Only a part of the work is devoted to the main purpose for which it was
ostensibly and avowedly designed. That I shall first notice. It is
introduced as follows: "I shall no longer detain my reader from his
expected entertainment, in a brief account of the Trials which have
passed upon some of the Malefactors lately executed at Salem, for the
witchcrafts whereof they stood convicted. For my own part, I was not
present at any of them; nor ever had I any personal prejudice at the
persons thus brought upon the Stage; much less, at the surviving
relations of those persons, with and for whom I would be as hearty a
mourner, as any man living in the world: _The Lord comfort them!_ But
having received a command so to do, I can do no other than shortly
relate the chief _Matters of Fact_, which occurred in the trials of some
that were executed; in an abridgement collected out of the _Court
Papers_, on this occasion put into my hands. You are to take the
_Truth_, just as it was."--_Wonders of the Invisible World, p. 54._

He singles out five cases and declares: "I report matters not as an
_Advocate_, but as an _Historian_."

After further prefacing his account, by relating, _A modern instance of
Witches, discovered and condemned, in a trial before that celebrated
Judge, Sir Matthew Hale_, he comes to the trial of George Burroughs. He
spreads out, without reserve, the spectral evidence, given in this as in
all the cases, and without the least intimation of objection from
himself, or any one else, to its being _admitted_, as, "with other
things to render it credible" enough for the purpose of conviction. Any
one reading his account, and at the same time examining the documents on
file, will be able to appreciate how far he was justified in saying,
that he reported it in the spirit of an historian rather than an

Let, us, first, see what the "Court papers, put into his hands,"
amounted to; as we find them in the files.

"The Deposition of Simon Willard, aged about 42 years, saith: I being at
Saco, in the year 1689, some in Capt. Ed. Sargent's garrison were
speaking of Mr. George Burroughs his great strength, saying he could
take a barrel of molasses out of a canoe or boat, alone; and that he
could take it in his hands, or arms, out of the canoe or boat, and carry
it, and set it on the shore: and Mr. Burroughs being there, said that he
had carried one barrel of molasses or cider out of a canoe, that had
like to have done him a displeasure; said Mr. Burroughs intimated, as if
he did not want strength to do it, but the disadvantage of the shore was
such, that, his foot slipping in the sand, he had liked to have strained
his leg."

Willard was uncertain whether Burroughs had stated it to be molasses or
cider. John Brown testified about a "barrel of cider." Burroughs denied
the statement, as to the molasses, thereby impliedly admitting that he
had so carried a barrel of cider.

Samuel Webber testified that, seven or eight years before, Burroughs
told him that, by putting his fingers into the bung of a barrel of
molasses, he had lifted it up, and "carried it round him, and set it
down again."

Parris, in his notes of this trial, not in the files, says that "_Capt.
Wormwood_ testified about the gun and the molasses." But the papers on
file give the name as "_Capt. W^m Wormall_," and represents that he,
referring to the gun, "swore" that he "saw George Burroughs raise it
from the ground." His testimony, with this exception, was merely
confirmatory, in general terms, of another deposition of Simon Willard,
to the effect, that Burroughs, in explanation of one of the stories
about his great strength, showed him how he held a gun of "about seven
foot barrel," by taking it "in his hand behind the lock," and holding it
out; Willard further stating that he did not see him "hold it out then,"
and that he, Willard, so taking the gun with both hands, could not hold
it out long enough to take sight. The testimony, throughout, was thus
loose and conflicting, almost wholly mere hearsay, of no value,
logically or legally. All that was really proved being what Burroughs
admitted, that is, as to the cider.

But, in the statement made by him to Willard, at Saco, as deposed by the
latter, he mentioned a circumstance, namely, the straining of his leg,
which, if not true, could easily have been disproved, that demonstrated
the effort to have been made, and the feat accomplished, by the natural
exercise of muscular power. If preternatural force had aided him, it
would have been supplied in sufficient quantity to have prevented such a
mishap. To convey the impression that the exhibitions of strength
ascribed to Burroughs were proofs of diabolical assistance, and
demonstrations that he was guilty of the crime of witchcraft, Mather
says "he was a very puny man, yet he had often done things beyond the
strength of a giant." There is nothing to justify the application of the
word "puny" to him, except that he was of small stature. Such persons
are often very strong. Burroughs had, from his college days, been noted
for gymnastic exercises. There is nothing, I repeat, to justify the use
of the word, by Mather, in the sense he designed to convey, of bodily

The truth is, that his extraordinary muscular power, as exhibited in
such feats as lifting the barrel of cider, was the topic of neighborhood
talk; and there was much variation, as is usual in such cases, some
having it a barrel of cider, and some, of molasses. There is, among the
Court papers, a _Memorandum, in Mr. George Burroughs trial, beside the
written evidences_. One item is the testimony of Thomas Evans, "that he
carried out barrels of molasses, meat, &c., out of a canoe, whilst his
mate went to the fort for hands to help out with." Here we see another
variation of the story. The amount of it is, that, while the mate
thought assistance needed, and went to get it, Burroughs concluded to do
the work himself. If the Prisoner had been allowed Counsel; or any
discernment been left in the Judges, the whole of this evidence would
have been thrown out of account, as without foundation and frivolous in
its character; yet Increase Mather, who was present, was entirely
carried away with it, and declared that, upon it alone, if on the Bench
or in the jury-box, he would have convicted the Prisoner.

It is quite doubtful, however, whether the above testimony of Evans was
given in, at the trial; for the next clause, in the same paragraph, is
Sarah Wilson's confession, that: "The night before Mr. Burroughs was
executed, there was a great meeting of the witches, nigh Sargeant
Chandlers, that Mr. Burroughs was there, and they had the sacrament, and
after they had done, he took leave, and bid them stand to their faith,
and not own any thing. Martha Tyler saith the same with Sarah Wilson,
and several others."

The testimony of these two confessing witches, "and several others,"
relating, as it did, to what was alleged to have happened "the night
before Mr. Burroughs was executed," could not have been given at his
trial, nor until after his death. Yet, as but three other confessing
witches are mentioned in the files of this case, Mather must have relied
upon this Memorandum to make up the "eight" said, by him, to have
testified, "in the prosecution of the charge" against Burroughs. Hale,
misled, perhaps, by the Memorandum, uses the indefinite expression
"seven or eight." We know that one of the confessing witches, who had
given evidence against Burroughs, retracted it before the Court,
previous to his execution; but Mather makes no mention of that fact.

To go back to the barrel Mr. Burroughs lifted. I have stated the
substance of the whole testimony relating to the point. Mather
characterizes it, thus, in his report of the trial: "There was evidence
likewise brought in, that he made nothing of taking up whole barrels,
filled with molasses or cider, in very disadvantageous positions, and
carrying them off, through the most difficult places, out of a canoe to
the shore."

He made up this statement, as its substance and phraseology show, from
Willard's deposition, then lying before him. In his use of that part of
the evidence, in particular, as of the whole evidence, generally, the
reader can judge whether he exhibited the spirit of an historian or of
an advocate; and whether there was any thing to justify his expression,
"made nothing of."

Any one scrutinizing the evidence, which, strange to say, was allowed to
come in on a trial for witchcraft, relating to alleged misunderstandings
between Burroughs and his two wives, involved in an alienation between
him and some of the relations of the last, will see that it amounts to
nothing more than the scandals incident to imbittered parish quarrels,
and inevitably engendered in such a state of credulity and malevolence,
as the witchcraft prosecutions produced. Yet our "historian," in his
report of the case, says: "Now G. B. had been infamous, for the
barbarous usage of his two successive wives, all the country over."

In my book, in connection with another piece of evidence in the papers,
given, like that of the confessing witches just referred to, long after
Burroughs's execution, I expressed surprise that the irregularity of
putting such testimony among the documents belonging to the trial,
escaped the notice of Hutchinson, eminent jurist as he was, and also of
Calef. The Reviewer represents this remark as one of my "very grave and
unsupported charges against the honesty of Cotton Mather." I said
nothing about Mather in connection with that point, but expressed strong
disapprobation of the conduct of the official persons who procured the
deposition to be made, and of those having the custody of the papers.
The Reviewer, imagining that my censure was levelled at Mather, and
resolved to defend him, through thick and thin, denies that the document
in question was "surreptitiously foisted in." But there it was, when
Mather had the papers, and there it now is,--its date a month after
Burroughs was in his rocky grave. The Reviewer says that if I had looked
to the end of Mather's notice of the document, or observed the brackets
in which it was enclosed, I would have seen that Mather says that the
paper was not used at the trial. I stated the fact, expressly, and gave
Mather's explanation "that the man was overpersuaded by others to be out
of the way upon George Burroughs's trial." [_ii., 300, 303_] I found no
fault with Mather, in connection with the paper; and am not answerable,
at all, for the snarl in which the Reviewer's mind has become entangled,
in his eagerness to assail my book.

I ask a little further attention to this matter, because it affords an
illustration of Mather's singular, but characteristic, method of putting
things, often deceiving others, and sometimes, perhaps, himself. I quote
the paragraph from his report of the trial of Burroughs, in the _Wonders
of the Invisible World_, p. 64: "There were two testimonies, that G. B.
with only putting the fore-finger of his right hand into the muzzle of
an heavy gun, a fowling-piece of about six or seven foot barrel, did
lift up the gun, and hold it out at arms end; a gun which the deponents,
though strong men, could not, with both hands, lift up, and hold out, at
the butt end, as is usual. Indeed, one of these witnesses was
overpersuaded by some persons to be out of the way, upon G. B.'s trial;
but he came afterwards, with sorrow for his withdraw; and gave in his
testimony; nor were either of these witnesses made use of as evidences
in the trial."

The Reviewer says that Mather included the above paragraph in
"brackets," to apprise the reader that the evidence, to which it
relates, was not given at the trial. It is true that the brackets are
found in the Boston edition: but they are omitted, in the London
edition, of the same year, 1693. If it was thought expedient to prevent
misunderstanding, or preserve the appearance of fairness, _here_, the
precaution was not provided for the English reader. He was left to
receive the impression from the opening words, "there were two
testimonies," that they were given at the trial, and to run the luck of
having it removed by the latter part of the paragraph. The whole thing
is so stated as to mystify and obscure. There were "_two_" testimonies;
"_one_" is said not to have been presented; and then, that neither was
presented. The reader, not knowing what to make of it, is liable to
carry off nothing distinctly, except that, somehow, "there were
testimonies" brought to bear against Burroughs; whereas not a syllable
of it came before the Court.

Never going out of my way to criticise Cotton Mather, nor breaking the
thread of my story for that purpose, I did not, in my book, call
attention to this paragraph, as to its bearing upon him, but the strange
use the Reviewer has made of it against me, compels its examination, in

What right had Mather to insert this paragraph, at all, in his report of
the _trial_ of George Burroughs? It refers to extra-judicial and
gratuitous statements that had nothing to do with the trial, made a
month after Burroughs had passed out of Court and out of the world,
beyond the reach of all tribunals and all Magistrates. It was not true
that "there were two testimonies" to the facts alleged, _at the trial_,
which, and which alone, Mather was professing to report. It is not a
sufficient justification, that he contradicted, in the last clause, what
he said in the first. This was one of Mather's artifices, as a writer,
protecting himself from responsibility, while leaving an impression.

Mather says there were "_two_" witnesses of the facts alleged in the
paragraph. Upon a careful re-examination of the papers on file, there
appears to have been only _one_, in support of it. It stands solely on
the single disposition of Thomas Greenslitt, of the fifteenth of
September, 1692. The deponent mentions two other persons, by name, "and
some others that are dead," who witnessed the exploit. But no evidence
was given by them; and the muzzle story, according to the papers on
file, stands upon the deposition of Greenslitt alone. The paragraph
gives the idea that Greenslitt put himself out of the way, at the time
of the trial of Burroughs; but there is reason to believe that he lived
far down in the eastern country, and subsequently came voluntarily to
Salem, from his distant home, to be present at the trial of his mother.
The deposition was obtained from him in the period between her
condemnation and execution. The motives that may have led the
prosecutors to think it important to procure, and the probable
inducement that led him to give, the deposition are explained in my book
[_ii., 298_]. Greenslitt states that "the gun was of six-foot barrel or
thereabouts." Mather reports him as saying "about six or seven foot
barrel." The account of the trial of Burroughs, throughout, is charged
with extreme prejudice against the Prisoner; and the character of the
evidence is exaggerated.

One of the witnesses, in the trial of Bridget Bishop, related a variety
of mishaps, such as the stumping of the off-wheel of his cart, the
breaking of the gears, and a general coming to pieces of the harness and
vehicle, on one occasion; and his not being able, on another, to lift a
bag of corn as easily as usual; and he ascribed it all to the witchery
of the Prisoner. Mather gives his statement, concluding thus: "Many
other pranks of this Bishop this deponent was ready to testify." He
endorses every thing, however absurd, especially if resting on spectral
evidence, as absolute, unquestionable, and demonstrated facts.

Nothing was proved against the moral character of Susannah Martin; and
nothing was brought to bear upon her, but the most ridiculous and
shameful tales of blind superstition and malignant credulity. The
extraordinary acumen and force of mind, however, exhibited in her
defence, to the discomfiture of the examining Magistrates and Judges,
excited their wrath and that of all concerned in the prosecution. Mather
finishes the account of her trial in these words: "NOTE. This woman was
one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures in the world; and
she did now, throughout her whole trial, discover herself to be such an
one. Yet when she was asked what she had to say for herself, her chief
plea was, 'that she had led a most virtuous and holy life.'"--_Wonders,
etc._, 126.

Well might he, and all who acted in bringing this remarkable woman to
her death, have been exasperated against her. She will be remembered, in
perpetual history, as having risen superior to them all, in intellectual
capacity, and as having utterly refuted the whole system of spectral
doctrine, upon which her life and the lives of all the others were
sacrificed. Looking towards "the afflicted children," who had sworn that
her spectre tortured them, the Magistrate asked, "How comes your
appearance to hurt these?" Her answer was, "How do I know? He that
appeared in the shape of Samuel, a glorified Saint, may appear in any
one's shape."

It is truly astonishing that Mather should have selected the name of
Elizabeth How, to be held up to abhorrence and classed among the
"Malefactors." It shows how utterly blinded and perverted he was by the
horrible delusion that "possessed" him. If her piety and virtue were of
no avail in leading him to pause in aspersing her memory, by selecting
her case to be included in the "black list" of those reported by him in
his _Wonders_, one would have thought he would have paid some regard to
the testimony of his clerical brethren and to the feelings of her
relatives, embracing many most estimable families. She was nearly
connected with the venerable Minister of Andover, Francis Dane, and
belonged to the family of Jacksons.

There was, and is, among the papers, a large body of evidence in her
favor, most weighty and decisive, yet Mather makes no allusion to it
whatever; although he must have known of it, from outside information as
well as the documents before him. Two of the most respectable Ministers
in the country, Phillips and Payson of Rowley, many of her neighbors,
men and women, and the father of her husband, ninety-four years of age,
testified to her eminent Christian graces, and portrayed a picture of
female gentleness, loveliness, and purity, not surpassed in the annals
of her sex. The two Clergymen exposed and denounced the wickedness of
the means that had been employed to bring the stigma of witchcraft upon
her good name. Mather not only withholds all this evidence, but speaks
with special bitterness of this excellent woman, calling her, over and
over again, throughout his whole account, "This How."

There is reason to apprehend that much cruelty was practised upon the
Prisoners, especially to force them to confess. The statements made by
John Proctor, in his letter to the Ministers, are fully entitled to
credit, from his unimpeached honesty of character, as well as from the
position of the persons addressed. It is not to be imagined, that, at
its date, on the twenty-third of July, twelve days before his trial, he
would have made, in writing, such declarations to them, had they not
been true. He says that brutal violence was used upon his son to induce
him to confess. He also states that two of the children of Martha
Carrier were "tied neck and heels, till the blood was ready to come out
of their noses." The outrages, thus perpetrated, with all the
affrighting influences brought to bear, prevailed over Carrier's
children. Some of them were used as witnesses against her. A little
girl, not eight years old, was made to swear that she was a witch; that
her mother, when she was six years old, made her so, baptizing her, and
compelling her "to set her hand to a book," and carried her, "in her
spirit," to afflict people; that her mother, after she was in prison,
came to her in the shape of "a black cat;" and that the cat told her it
was her mother. Another of her children testified that he, and still
another, a brother, were witches, and had been present, in spectre, at
Witch-sacraments, telling who were there, and where they procured their
wine. All this the mother had to hear.

Thomas Carrier, her husband, had, a year or two before, been involved in
a controversy about the boundaries of his lands, in which hard words had
passed. The energy of character, so strikingly displayed by his wife, at
her Examination, rendered her liable to incur animosities, in the
course of a neighborhood feud. The whole force of angry superstition had
been arrayed against her; and she became the object of scandal, in the
form it then was made to assume, the imputation of being a witch. Her
Minister, Mr. Dane, in a strong and bold letter, in defence of his
parishioners, many of whom had been accused, says: "There was a
suspicion of Goodwife Carrier among some of us, before she was
apprehended, I know." He avers that he had lived above forty years in
Andover, and had been much conversant with the people, "at their
habitations;" that, hearing that some of his people were inclined to
indulge in superstitions stories, and give heed to tales of the kind, he
preached a Sermon against all such things; and that, since that time, he
knew of no person that countenanced practices of the kind; concluding
his statement in these words: "So far as I had the understanding of any
thing amongst us, do declare, that I believe the reports have been
scandalous and unjust, neither will bear the light."

Atrocious as were the outrages connected with the prosecutions, in 1692,
none, it appears to me, equalled those committed in the case of Martha
Carrier. The Magistrates who sat and listened, with wondering awe, to
such evidence from a little child against her mother, in the presence of
that mother, must have been bereft, by the baleful superstitions of the
hour, of all natural sensibility. They countenanced a violation of
reason, common sense, and the instincts of humanity, too horrible to be
thought of.

The unhappy mother felt it in the deep recesses of her strong nature.
That trait, in the female and maternal heart, which, when developed,
assumes a heroic aspect, was brought out in terrific power. She looked
to the Magistrates, after the accusing girls had charged her with having
"killed thirteen at Andover," with a stern bravery to which those
dignitaries had not been accustomed, and rebuked them: "It is a shameful
thing, that you should mind those folks that are out of their wits;" and
then, turning to the accusers, said, "You lie, and I am wronged." This
woman, like all the rest, met her fate with a demeanor that left no room
for malice to utter a word of disparagement, protesting her innocence.
Mather witnessed her execution; and in a memorandum to the report,
written in the professed character of an historian, having great
compassion for "surviving relatives," calls her a "rampant hag."

Bringing young children to swear away the life of their mother, was
probably felt by the Judges to be too great a shock upon natural
sensibilities to be risked again, and they were not produced at the
trial; but Mather, notwithstanding, had no reluctance to publish the
substance of their testimony, as what they would have sworn to if
called upon; and says they were not put upon the stand, because there
was evidence "enough" without them.

Such were the reports of those of the trials, which had then taken
place, selected by Mather to be put into the _Wonders of the Invisible
World_, and thus to be "boxed about,"--to adopt the Reviewer's
interpretation--to strike down the "Spectre of Sadduceeism," that is, to
extirpate and bring to an end all doubts about witchcraft and all
attempts to stop the prosecutions.

This book was written while the proceedings at Salem were at their
height, during the very month in which sixteen persons had been
sentenced to death and eight executed, evidently, from its whole tenor,
and as the Reviewer admits, for the purpose of silencing objectors and
doubters, Sadducees and Witch-advocates, before the meeting of the
Court, by adjournment, in the first week of November, to continue--as
the Ministers, in their _Advice_, expressed it--their "sedulous and
assiduous endeavours to defeat the abominable witchcrafts which have
been committed in the country."

Little did those concerned, in keeping up the delusion and prolonging
the scenes in the Salem Court-house and on Witch-hill, dream that the
curtain was so soon to fall upon the horrid tragedy and confound him who
combined, in his own person, the functions of Governor,
Commander-in-chief, President of the Council, Legislative leader of the
General Court, and Chief-justice of the Special Court, and all his
aiders and abettors, lay and clerical.



In addition to the reports of the trials of the five "Malefactors," as
Mather calls them, the _Wonders of the Invisible World_ contains much
matter that helps us to ascertain the real opinions, at the time, of its
author, to which justice to him, and to all, requires me to risk
attention. The passages, to be quoted, will occupy some room; but they
will repay the reading, in the light they shed upon the manner in which
such subjects were treated in the most accredited literature, and
infused into the public mind, at that day. The style of Cotton Mather,
while open to the criticisms generally made, is lively and attractive;
and, for its ingenuity of expression and frequent felicity of
illustration, often quite refreshing.

The work was written under a sense of the necessity of maintaining the
position into which the Government of the Province had been led, by so
suddenly and rashly organizing the Special Court and putting it upon its
bloody work, at Salem; and this could only be done by renewing and
fortifying the popular conviction, that such proceedings were necessary,
and ought to be vigorously prosecuted, and all Sadduceeism, or
opposition to them, put down. It was especially necessary to reconcile,
or obscure into indistinctness, certain conflicting theories that had
more or less currency. "I do not believe," says Mather, "that the
progress of Witchcraft among us, is all the plot which the Devil is
managing in the Witchcraft now upon us. It is judged that the Devil
raised the storm, whereof we read in the eighth Chapter of Matthew, on
purpose to overset the little vessel wherein the disciples of our Lord
were embarked with him. And it may be feared that, in the Horrible
Tempest which is now upon ourselves, the design of the Devil is to sink
that happy Settlement of Government, wherewith Almighty God has
graciously inclined their Majesties to favor us."--_Wonders, p. 10._

He then proceeds to compliment Sir William Phips, alluding to his
"continually venturing his all," that is, in looking after affairs and
fighting Indians in the eastern parts; to applaud Stoughton as
"admirably accomplished" for his place; and continues as follows: "Our
Councellours are some of our most eminent persons, and as loyal to the
Crown, as hearty lovers of their country. Our Constitution also is
attended with singular privileges. All which things are by the Devil
exceedingly envied unto us. And the Devil will doubtless take this
occasion for the raising of such complaints and clamors, as may be of
pernicious consequence unto some part of our present Settlement, if he
can so far impose. But that, which most of all threatens us, in our
present circumstances, is the misunderstandings, and so, the
animosities, whereinto the Witchcraft, now raging, has enchanted us. The
embroiling, first, of our Spirits, and then, of our affairs." "I am
sure, we shall be worse than brutes, if we fly upon one another, at a
time when the floods of Belial are upon us." "The Devil has made us like
a troubled sea, and the mire and mud begins now also to heave up apace.
Even good and wise men suffer themselves to fall into their paroxysms,
and the shake which the Devil is now giving us, fetches up the dirt
which before lay still at the bottom of our sinful hearts. If we allow
the mad dogs of Hell to poison us by biting us, we shall imagine that we
see nothing but such things about us, and like such things, fly upon all
that we see."

After deprecating the animosities and clamors that were threatening to
drive himself and his friends from power, he makes a strenuous appeal
to persevere in the witchcraft prosecutions.

"We are to unite in our endeavours to deliver our distressed neighbors
from the horrible annoyances and molestations wherewith a dreadful
witchcraft is now persecuting of them. To have an hand in any thing that
may stifle or obstruct a regular detection of that witchcraft, is what
we may well with an holy fear avoid. Their Majesties good subjects must
not every day be torn to pieces by horrid witches, and those bloody
felons be left wholly unprosecuted. The witchcraft is a business that
will not be shammed, without plunging us into sore plagues, and of long
continuance. But then we are to unite in such methods for this
deliverance, as may be unquestionably safe, lest the latter end be worse
than the beginning. And here, what shall I say? I will venture to say
thus much. That we are safe, when we make just as much use of all advice
from the invisible world, as God sends it for. It is a safe principle,
that when God Almighty permits any spirits, from the unseen regions, to
visit us with surprising informations, there is then something to be
enquired after; we are then to enquire of one another, what cause there
is for such things? The peculiar government of God, over the unbodied
Intelligences, is a sufficient foundation for this principle. When there
has been a murder committed, an apparition of the slain party accusing
of any man, although such apparitions have oftener spoke true than
false, is not enough to convict the man as guilty of that murder; but
yet it is a sufficient occasion for Magistrates to make a particular
enquiry whether such a man have afforded any ground for such an
accusation."--_Page 13._

He goes on to apply this principle to the spectres of accused persons,
seen by the "afflicted," as constituting sufficient ground to institute
proceedings against the persons thus accused. After modifying,
apparently, this position, although in language so obscure as to leave
his meaning quite uncertain, he says: "I was going to make one venture
more; that is, to offer some safe rules, for the finding out of the
witches, which are to this day our accursed troublers: but this were a
venture too presumptuous and Icarian for me to make. I leave that unto
those Excellent and Judicious persons with whom I am not worthy to be
numbered: All that I shall do, shall be to lay before my readers, a
brief synopsis of what has been written on that subject, by a
Triumvirate of as eminent persons as have ever handled it."--_Page 14._

From neither of them, Perkins, Gaule and Bernard, as he cites them, can
specific authority be obtained for the admission of spectral testimony,
as offered by accusing witnesses, not themselves confessing witches. The
third Rule, attributed to Perkins, and the fifth of Bernard, apply to
persons confessing the crime of witchcraft, and, after confession,
giving evidence affecting another person--the former considering such
evidence "not sufficient for condemnation, but a fit presumption to
cause a strait examination;" the latter treating it as sufficient to
convict a fellow witch, that is, another person also accused of being in
"league with the Devil." Bernard specifies, as the kind of evidence,
sufficient for conviction, such witnesses might give: "If they can make
good the truth of their witness and give sufficient proof of it; as that
they have seen them with their Spirits, or that they have received
Spirits from them, or that they can tell when they used witchery-tricks
to do harm, or that they told them what harm they had done, or that they
can show the mark upon them, or that they have been together in those
meetings, or such like."

Mather remarks, in connection with his synopsis of these Rules: "They
are considerable things, which I have thus related." Those I have
particularly noticed were enough to let in a large part of the evidence
given at the Salem trials--in many respects, the most effective and
formidable part--striking the Jury and Court, as well as the people,
with an "awe," which rendered no other evidence necessary to overwhelm
the mind and secure conviction. The Prisoners themselves were amazed and
astounded by it. Mr. Hale, in his account of the proceedings, says:
"When George Burroughs was tried, seven or eight of the confessors,
severally called, said, they knew the said Burroughs; and saw him at a
Witch-meeting at the Village; and heard him exhort the company to pull
down the Kingdom of God and set up the Kingdom of the Devil. He denied
all, yet said he justified the Judges and Jury in condemning him;
because there were so many positive witnesses against him; but said he
died by false witnesses." Mr. Hale proceeds to mention this fact: "I
seriously spake to one that witnessed (of his exhorting at the
Witch-meeting at the Village) saying to her; 'You are one that bring
this man to death: if you have charged any thing upon him that is not
true, recall it before it be too late, while he is alive.' She answered
me, she had nothing to charge herself with, upon that account."

Mather omits this circumstance in copying Mr. Hale's narrative. It has
always been a mystery, what led the "accusing girls" to cry out, as they
afterwards did, against Mr. Hale's wife. Perhaps this expostulation with
one of their witnesses, awakened their suspicions. They always struck at
every one who appeared to be wavering, or in the least disposed to
question the correctness of what was going on. The statement of Mr. Hale
shows how effectual and destructive the evidence, authorized by
Bernard's book, was; and it also proves how unjust, to the Judges and
Magistrates, is the charge made upon them by the Reviewer, that they
disregarded and violated the advice of the Ministers. In admitting a
species of evidence, wholly spectral, which was fatal, more than any
other, to the Prisoners, they followed a rule laid down by the very
authors whose "directions" the Ministers, in their _Advice_, written by
"Mr. Mather the younger," enjoined upon them to follow. It is
noticeable, by the way, that, in that document, they left Gaule out of
the "triumvirate;" Mather finding nothing in his book to justify the
admission of spectral testimony.

He urges the force of the evidence, from confessions, with all possible

"One would think all the rules of understanding human affairs are at an
end, if after so many most voluntary harmonious confessions, made by
intelligent persons, of all ages, in sundry towns, at several times, we
must not believe the main strokes, wherein those confessions all
agree."--_Page 8._

He continues to press the point thus: "If the Devils now can strike the
minds of men with any poisons of so fine a composition and operation,
that scores of innocent people shall unite, in confessions of a crime,
which we see actually committed, it is a thing prodigious, beyond the
wonders of the former ages; and it threatens no less than a sort of a
dissolution upon the world. Now, by these confessions, it is agreed,
that the Devil has made a dreadful knot of witches in the country, and
by the help of witches has dreadfully increased that knot; that these
witches have driven a trade of commissioning their confederate spirits,
to do all sorts of mischiefs to the neighbors, whereupon there have
ensued such mischievous consequences upon the bodies and estates of the
neighborhood, as could not otherwise be accounted for; yea, that at
prodigious Witch-meetings the wretches have proceeded so far as to
concert and consult the methods of rooting out the Christian religion
from this country, and setting up, instead of it, perhaps a more gross
Diabolism, than ever the world saw before. And yet it will be a thing
little short of miracle, if, in so spread a business as this, the Devil
should not get in some of his juggles, to confound the discovery of all
the rest."

In the last sentence of the foregoing passage, we see an idea, which
Mather expressed in several instances. It amounts to this. Suppose the
Devil does "sometimes" make use of the spectre of an innocent person--he
does it for the purpose of destroying our faith in that kind of
evidence, and leading us to throw it all out, thereby "confounding the
discovery" of those cases in which, as ordinarily, he makes use of the
spectres of his guilty confederates, and, in effect, sheltering "all the
rest," that is, the whole body of those who are the willing and
covenanted subjects of his diabolical kingdom, from detection. He says:
"The witches have not only intimated, but some of them acknowledged,
that they have plotted the representations of innocent persons to cover
and shelter themselves in their witchcrafts."

He further suggests--for no other purpose, it would seem, than to
reconcile us to the use of such evidence, even though, it may, in "rare
and extraordinary" instances, bear against innocent persons, scarcely,
however, to be apprehended, "when matters come before civil
judicature"--that it may be the divine will, that, occasionally, an
innocent person _may be cut off_: "Who of us can exactly state how far
our God may, for our chastisement, permit the Devil to proceed in such
an abuse?" He then alludes to the meeting of Ministers, under his
father's auspices, at Cambridge, on the first of August; quotes with
approval, the result of his "Discourse," then held; and immediately
proceeds: "It is rare and extraordinary, for an honest Naboth to have
his life itself sworn away by two children of Belial, and yet no
infringement hereby made on the Rectoral Righteousness of our eternal
Sovereign, whose judgments are a great deep, and who gives none account
of his matters."--_Page 9._

The amount of all this is, that it is so rare and extraordinary for the
Devil to assume the spectral shape of an innocent person, that it is
best, "when," as his expression is, in another place, "the public safety
makes an exigency," to receive and act upon such evidence, even if it
should lead to the conviction of an innocent person--a thing so seldom
liable to occur, and, indeed, barely possible. The procedure would be
but carrying out the divine "permission," and a fulfilment of "the
Rectoral Righteousness" of Him, whose councils are a great deep, not to
be accounted for to, or by, us.

In summing up what the witches had been doing at Salem Village, during
the preceding Summer, Mather says: "The Devil, exhibiting himself
ordinarily as a small black man, has decoyed a fearful knot of proud,
froward, ignorant, envious and malicious creatures to list themselves in
his horrid service by entering their names in a book, by him tendered
unto them." "That they, each of them, have, their spectres or Devils,
commissioned by them, and representing them, to be the engines of their
malice." He enumerates, as facts, all the statements of the "afflicted"
witnesses and confessing witches, as to the horrible and monstrous
things perpetrated by the spectres of the accused parties; and he
applauds the Court, testifying to the successful and beneficial issue of
its proceedings. "Our honorable Judges have used, as Judges have
heretofore done, the spectral evidence, to introduce their further
enquiries into the lives of the persons accused; and they have,
thereupon, by the wonderful Providence of God, been so strengthened with
other evidences, that some of the Witch-gang have been fairly
executed."--_Pages 41, 43._

The language of Cotton Mather, as applied to those who had suffered, as
witches, "a fearful knot of proud, froward, ignorant, envious and
malicious creatures--a Witch-gang,"--is rather hard, as coming from a
Minister who, as the Reviewer asserts, had officiated in their death
scenes, witnessed their devout and Christian expressions and deportment,
and been their comforter, consoler, counsellor and friend.

The dissatisfaction that pervaded the public mind, about the time of the
last executions at Salem, which Phips describes, was so serious, that
both the Mathers were called in to allay it. The father also, at the
request of the Ministers, wrote a book, entitled, _Cases of Conscience,
concerning Evil Spirits, personating men, Witchcrafts, &c._, the general
drift of which is against spectral evidence. He says: "Spectres are
Devils, in the shape of persons, either living or dead." Speaking of
bewitched persons, he says: "What they affirm, concerning others, is not
to be taken for evidence. Whence had they this supernatural sight? It
must needs be either from Heaven or from Hell. If from Heaven (as
Elisha's servant and Balaam's ass could discern Angels) let their
testimony be received. But if they had this knowledge from Hell, though
there may possibly be truth in what they affirm, they are not legal
witnesses: for the Law of God allows of no revelation from any other
Spirit but himself. _Isa._, viii., 19. It is a sin against God, to make
use of the Devil's help to know that which cannot be otherwise known;
and I testify against it, as a great transgression, which may justly
provoke the Holy One of Israel, to let loose Devils on the whole land.
_Luke_, iv., 38."

After referring to a couple of writers on the subject, the very next
sentence is this: "Although the Devil's accusations may be so far
regarded as to cause an enquiry into the truth of things, _Job_, i., 11,
12, and ii., 5, 6; yet not so as to be an evidence or ground of

It appears therefore, that Increase Mather, while writing with much
force and apparent vehemence against spectral evidence, still in reality
countenanced its introduction, as a basis of "enquiry into the truth of
things," preliminary to other evidence. This was, after all, to use the
form of thought of these writers, letting the Devil into the case; and
that was enough, from the nature of things, in the then state of wild
superstition and the blind delusions of the popular mind, to give to
spectral evidence the controlling sway it had in the Salem trials, and
would necessarily have, every where, when introduced at all.

In a Postscript to _Cases of Conscience_, Increase Mather says that he
hears that "some have taken up a notion," that there was something
contradictory between his views and those of his son, set forth in the
_Wonders of the Invisible World_. "Tis strange that such imaginations
should enter into the minds of men." He goes on to say he had read and
approved of his son's book, before it was printed; and falls back, as
both of them always did, when pressed, upon the _Advice_ of the
Ministers, of the fifteenth of June, in which, he says, they concurred.

There can be no manner of doubt that the "strange" opinion did prevail,
at the time, and has ever since, that the father and son did entertain
very different sentiments about the Salem proceedings. The precise form
of that difference is not easily ascertained. The feelings, so natural
and proper, on both sides, belonging to the relation they sustained to
each other, led them to preserve an appearance of harmony, especially in
whatever was committed to the press. Then, again, the views they each
entertained were in themselves so inconsistent, that it was not
difficult to persuade themselves that they were substantially similar.
There was much in the father, for the son to revere: there was much in
the son, for the father to admire. Besides, the habitual style in which
they and the Ministers of that day indulged, of saying and unsaying, on
the same page--putting a proposition and then linking to it a
countervailing one--covered their tracks to each other and to
themselves. This is their apology; and none of them needs it more than
Cotton Mather. He was singularly blind to logical sequence. With
wonderful power over language, he often seems not to appreciate the
import of what he is saying; and to this defect, it is agreeable to
think, much, if not all, that has the aspect of a want of fairness and
even truthfulness, in his writings may be attributed.

As associate Ministers of the same congregation, it was desirable for
the Mathers to avoid being drawn into a conflicting attitude, on any
matter of importance. Drake, however, in his _History of Boston_, (_p.
545_) says that there was supposed, at the formation of the New North
Church, in that place, in 1712, to have been a jealousy between them.
There were, indeed, many points of dissimilarity, as well as of
similarity, in their culture, experience, manners, and ways; and men
conversant with them, at the time, may have noticed a difference in
their judgments and expressions, relating to the witchcraft affair, of
which no knowledge has come to us, except the fact, that it was so
understood at the time.

Cotton Mather brought all his ability to bear in preparing the _Wonders
of the Invisible World_. It is marked throughout by his peculiar genius,
and constructed with great ingenuity and elaboration; but it was "water
spilt on the ground." So far as the end, for which it was designed, is
regarded, it died before it saw the light.



When Sir William Phips went to the eastward, it was expected that his
absence would be prolonged to the twelfth of October. We cannot tell
exactly when he returned; probably some days before the twelfth. Writing
on the fourteenth, he says, that before any application was made to him
for the purpose, he had put a stop to the proceedings of the Court. He
probably signified, informally, to the Judges, that they must not meet
on the day to which they had adjourned. Brattle, writing on the eighth,
had not heard any thing of the kind. But the Rev. Samuel Torrey of
Weymouth, who was in full sympathy with the prosecutors, had heard of it
on the seventh, as appears by this entry in Sewall's Diary: "OCT. 7^th,
1692. Mr. Torrey seems to be of opinion, that the Court of Oyer and
Terminer should go on, regulating any thing that may have been amiss,
when certainly found to be so."

Sewall and Stoughton were among the principal friends of Torrey; and he,
probably, had learned from them, Phips's avowed purpose to stop the
proceedings of the Court, in the witchcraft matter. The Court, however,
was allowed to sit, in other cases, as it held a trial in Boston, on the
tenth, in a capital case of the ordinary kind. The purpose of the
Governor gradually became known. Danforth, in a conversation with
Sewall, at Cambridge, on the fifteenth, expressed the opinion that the
witchcraft trials ought not to proceed any further.

It is not unlikely that Phips, while at the eastward, had received some
communication that hastened his return. He describes the condition of
things, as he found it. We know that the lives of twenty people had been
taken away, one of them a Minister of the Gospel. Two Ministers had been
accused, one of them the Pastor of the Old South Church; the name of the
other is not known. A hundred were in prison; about two hundred more
were under accusation, including some men of great estates in Boston,
the mother-in-law of one of the Judges, Corwin, and a member of the
family of Increase Mather, although, as he says, in no way related to
him. A Magistrate, who was a member of the House of Assembly, had fled
for his life; and Phips's trusted naval commander, a man of high
standing in the Church and in society, as well as in the service, after
having been committed to Jail, had escaped to parts unknown. More than
all, the Governor's wife had been cried out upon. We can easily imagine
his state of mind. Sir William Phips was noted for the sudden violence
of his temper. Mather says that he sometimes "showed choler enough."
Hutchinson says that "he was of a benevolent, friendly disposition; at
the same time quick and passionate;" and, in illustration of the latter
qualities, he relates that he got into a fisticuff fight with the
Collector of the Port, on the wharf, handling him severely; and that,
having high words, in the street, with a Captain of the Royal Navy, "the
Governor made use of his cane and broke Short's head." When his Lady
told her story to him, and pictured the whole scene of the "strange
ferment" in the domestic and social circles of Boston and throughout the
country, it was well for the Chief-justice, the Judges, and perhaps his
own Ministers, that they were not within the reach of those "blows,"
with which, as Mather informs us, in the _Life of Phips_, the rough
sailor was wont, when the gusts of passion were prevailing, to "chastise
incivilities," without reference to time or place, rank or station.

But, as was his wont, the storm of wrath soon subsided; his purpose,
however, under the circumstances, as brave as it was wise and just, was,
as the result showed, unalterable. He communicated to the Judges,
personally, that they must sit no more, at Salem or elsewhere, to try
cases of witchcraft; and that no more arrests must be made, on that

Mather's book, all ready as it was for the press, thus became labor
thrown away. It was not only rendered useless for the purpose designed,
but a most serious difficulty obstructed its publication. Phips forbade
the "printing of any discourses, one way or another;" and the _Wonders_
had incorporated in it some Sermons, impregnated, through and through,
with combustible matter, in Phips's view, likely to kindle an
inextinguishable flame.

All that could be done was to keep still, in the hope that he would
become more malleable. In the meanwhile, public business called him
away, perhaps to Rhode Island or Connecticut, from the eighteenth to the
twenty-seventh of October. In his absence, whether in consequence of
movements he had put in train, or solely from what had become known of
his views, the circumstance occurred which is thus related in Sewall's
Diary--the Legislature was then in Session: "OCT. 26, 1692. A Bill is
sent in about calling a Fast and Convocation of Ministers, that may be
led in the right way, as to the Witchcrafts. The season, and manner of
doing it, is such, that the Court of Oyer and Terminer count themselves
thereby dismissed. 29 nos & 33 yeas to the Bill. Capt. Bradstreet, and
Lieut. True, Wm. Hutchins, and several other interested persons, in the

The course of Nathaniel Saltonstall, of Haverhill, and the action in the
Legislature of the persons here named, entitle the Merrimac towns of
Essex-county to the credit of having made the first public and effectual
resistance to the fanaticism and persecutions of 1692.

The passage of this Bill, in the House of Representatives, shows how the
public mind had been changed, since the June Session. Dudley Bradstreet
was a Magistrate and member from Andover, son of the old Governor, and,
with his wife, had found safety from prosecution by flight; Henry True,
a member from Salisbury, was son-in-law of Mary Bradbury, who had been
condemned to death; Samuel Hutchins, (inadvertently called "Wm.," by
Sewall) was a member from Haverhill, and connected by marriage with a
family, three of whom were tried for their lives. Sewall says there were
"several other" members of the House, interested in like manner. This
shows into what high circles the accusers had struck.

It appears, by the same Diary, that on the twenty-seventh, Cotton Mather
preached the Thursday Lecture, from _James_, i., 4. The day of trial was
then upon him and his fellow-actors; and patience was inculcated as the
duty of the hour.

The Diary relates that at a meeting of the Council, on the
twenty-eighth, in the afternoon, Sewall, "desired to have the advice of
the Governor and Council, as to the sitting of the Court of Oyer and
Terminer, next week; said, should move it no more; great silence
prevailed, as if should say, Do not go."

The entry does not state whether Phips was present; as, however, the
time fixed for his recent brief absence had expired, probably he was in
his seat. The following mishap, described by Sewall, as occurring that
day, perhaps detained the Deputy-governor: "OCT. 28. Lt. Gov^r, coming
over the causey, is, by reason of the high tide, so wet, that is fain to
go to bed, till sends for dry clothes to Dorchester."

The "great silence" was significant of the embarrassment in which they
were placed, and their awe of the "choler" of the Governor.

The Diary gives the following account of the Session the next day, at
which, (as Sewall informs us,) the Lieutenant-governor was not present:
"OCT. 29. Mr. Russel asked, whether the Court of Oyer and Terminer
should sit, expressing some fear of inconvenience by its fall. Governor
said, it must fall."

Thus died the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Its friends cherished, to the
last, the hope that Sir William might be placated, and possibly again
brought under control; but it vanished, when the emphatic and resolute
words, reported by Sewall, were uttered.

The firmness and force of character of the Governor are worthy of all
praise. Indeed, the illiterate and impulsive sailor has placed himself,
in history, far in front of all the honored Judges and learned Divines,
of his day. Not one of them penetrated the whole matter as he did, when
his attention was fully turned to it, and his feelings enlisted, to
decide, courageously and righteously, the question before him. He saw
that no life was safe while the evidence of the "afflicted persons" was
received, "either to the committing or trying" of any persons. He thus
broke through the meshes which had bound Judges and Ministers, the
writers of books and the makers of laws; and swept the whole fabric of
"spectral testimony" away, whether as matter of "enquiry" and
"presumption," or of "conviction." The ship-carpenter of the Kennebec
laid the axe to the root of the tree.

The following extract from a letter of Sir William Phips, just put into
my hands, and for which I am indebted to Mr. Goodell, substantiates the
conclusions to which I have been led.

    "_Governor Phips to the Lords of the Committee of Trade and
    Plantations, 3 April, 1693._


    "I have intreated M^r Blathwayte to lay before your Lordships
    several letters, wherein I have given a particular account of my
    stopping a supposed witchcraft, which had proved fatall to many of
    their Maj^ties good subjects, had there not been a speedy end putt
    thereto; for a stop putt to the proceedings against such as were
    accused, hath caused the thing itself to cease."

This shows that, addressing officially his Home Government, he assumed
the responsibility of having "stopped and put a speedy end to the
proceedings;" that he had no great faith in the doctrines then received
touching the reality of witchcraft; and that he was fully convinced
that, if he had allowed the trials to go on, and the inflammation of the
public mind to be kept up by "discourses," the bloody tragedy would have
been prolonged, and "proved fatal to many good" people.

There are two men--neither of them belonging to the class of scholars or
Divines; both of them guided by common sense, good feeling, and a
courageous and resolute spirit--who stand alone, in the scenes of the
witchcraft delusions. NATHANIEL SALTONSTALL, who left the Council and
the Court, the day the Ministers' _Advice_, to go on with the
prosecutions, was received, and never appeared again until that _Advice_
was abandoned and repudiated; and Sir WILLIAM PHIPS, who stamped it out
beneath his feet.

But how with Cotton Mather's Book, the _Wonders of the Invisible World_?
On the eleventh of October, Stoughton and Sewall signed a paper, printed
in the book, [_p. 88_] endorsing its contents, especially as to "matters
of fact and evidence" and the "methods of conviction used in the
proceedings of the Court at Salem." The certificate repeats the form of
words, so often used in connection with the book, that it was written
"at the direction of His Excellency the Governor," without, as in all
cases, specifying who, whether Phips or Stoughton, was the Governor
referred to. As all the Judges were near at hand, and as the certificate
related to the proceedings before them, it is quite observable that only
the two mentioned signed it. As they were present, in the private
conference, with Cotton Mather, at the house of one of them, on the
twenty-second of September, when its preparation for publication was
finally arranged, they could not well avoid signing it. The times were
critical; and the rest of the Judges, knowing the Governor's feelings,
thought best not to appear. Of the three other persons, at that
conference, Hathorne, it is true, was a Judge of that Court, but it is
doubtful whether he often, or ever, took his seat as such; besides, he
was too experienced and cautious a public man, unnecessarily to put his
hand to such a paper, when it was known, as it was probably to him, that
Sir William Phips had forbidden publications of the kind.

There is another curious document, in the _Wonders_--a letter from
Stoughton to Mather, highly applauding the book, in which he
acknowledges his particular obligations to him for writing it, as "more
nearly and highly concerned" than others, considering his place in the
Court, expressing in detail his sense of the great value of the work,
"at this juncture of time," and concluding thus: "I do therefore make it
my particular and earnest Request unto you, that, as soon as may be, you
will commit the same unto the press, accordingly." It is signed, without
any official title of distinction, simply "WILLIAM STOUGHTON," and is
_without date_.

It is singular, if Phips was the person who requested it to be written
and was the "Excellency" who authorized its publication, that it was
left to William Stoughton to "request" its being put to press.

The foregoing examination of dates and facts seems, almost, to compel
the conclusion, to be drawn also from his letter, that Sir William Phips
really had nothing whatever to do with procuring the preparation or
sanctioning the publication of the _Wonders of the Invisible World_.
The same is true as to the request to the Ministers, for their _Advice_,
dated the fifteenth of June. It was "laid before the Judges;" and was,
undoubtedly, a response to an application from them. Having, very
improperly, it must be confessed, given the whole matter of the trials
over to Stoughton, and being engrossed in other affairs, it is quite
likely that he knew but little of what had been going on, until his
return from the eastward, in October. And his frequent and long
absences, leaving Stoughton, so much of the time, with all the functions
and titles of Governor devolved upon him, led to speaking of the latter
as "His Excellency." When bearing this title and acting as Governor, for
the time being, the Chief-justice, with the side Judges--all of them
members of the Council, and in number meeting the requirement in the
Charter for a quorum, seven--may have been considered, as substantially,
"The Governor and Council."

Thinking it more than probable that, in this way, great wrong has been
done to the memory of an honest and noble-hearted man, I have endeavored
to set things in their true light. The perplexities, party
entanglements, personal collisions, and engrossing cares that absorbed
the attention of Sir William Phips, during the brief remainder of his
life, and the little interest he felt in such things, prevented his
noticing the false position in which he had been placed by the
undistinguishing use of titular phrases.

Judge Sewall's Diary contains an entry that, also, sheds light upon the
position of the Mathers. It will be borne in mind, that Elisha Cook was
the colleague of Increase Mather, as Colonial Agents in London. Cook
refused assent to the new Charter, and became the leader of the
anti-Mather party. He was considered an opponent of the witchcraft
prosecutions, although out of the country at the time. "TUESDAY, NOV.
15, 1692. M^r Cook keeps a Day of Thanksgiving for his safe arrival."
* * * [_Many mentioned as there, among them Mr. Willard._] "Mr. Allen
preached from Jacob's going to Bethel, * * * Mr. Mather not there, nor
Mr. Cotton Mather. The good Lord unite us in his fear, and remove our

The manner in which Sewall distinguished the two Mathers confirms the
views presented on pages 37, 38.

It may be remarked, that, up to this time, Sewall seems to have been in
full sympathy with Stoughton and Mather. He was, however, beginning to
indulge in conversations that indicate a desire to feel the ground he
was treading. After a while, he became thoroughly convinced of his
error; and there are scattered, in the margins of his Diary, expressions
of much sensibility at the extent to which he had been misled. Over
against an entry, giving an account of his presence at an Examination
before Magistrates, of whom he was one, on the eleventh of April, 1692,
at Salem, is the interjection, thrice repeated, "_Vae, Vae, Vae_." At
the opening of the year 1692, he inserted, at a subsequent period, this
passage: "_Attonitus tamen est, ingens discrimine parvo committi
potuisse Nefas._"[4]


[4] For the privilege of inspecting and using Judge Sewall's Diary I am
indebted to the kindness of the Massachusetts Historical Society: and I
would also express my thanks, for similar favors and civilities, to the
officers in charge of the Records and Archives in the Massachusetts
State House, the Librarian of Harvard University, the Essex Institute,
and many individuals, not mentioned in the text, especially those
devoted collectors and lovers of our old New England literature, Samuel
G. Drake and John K. Wiggin.



I propose, now, to enquire into the position Cotton Mather occupied, and
the views he expressed, touching the matter, after the witchcraft
prosecutions had ceased and the delusion been dispelled from the minds
of other men.

During the Winter of 1692 and 1693, between one and two hundred
prisoners, including confessing witches, remained in Jail, at Salem,
Ipswich, and other places. A considerable number were in the Boston
Jail. It seems, from the letter to Secretary Allyn of Connecticut, that,
during that time, the Mathers were in communication with them, and
receiving from them the names of persons whose spectres, they declared,
they had seen and suffered from, as employed in the Devil's work. After
all that had happened, and the order of Sir William Phips, forbidding
attempts to renew the excitement, it is wonderful that the Mathers
should continue such practices. In the latter part of the Summer of
1693, they were both concerned in the affair of Margaret Rule; and
Cotton Mather prepared, and put into circulation, an elaborate account
of it, some extracts from which have been presented, and which will be
further noticed, in another connection.

His next work, in the order of time, which I shall consider, is his
_Life of Sir William Phips_, printed in London, in 1697, and afterwards
included in the _Magnalia_, also published in London, a few years
afterwards, constituting the last part of the Second Book. _The Life of
Phips_ is, perhaps, the most elaborate and finished of all Mather's
productions; and "adorned," as his uncle Nathaniel Mather says, in a
commendatory note, "with a very grateful variety of learning." In it,
Sir William, who had died, at London, three years before, is painted in
glowing colors, as one of the greatest of conquerors and rulers,
"dropped, as it were, from the Machine of Heaven;" "for his exterior, he
was one tall, beyond the common lot of men; and thick, as well as tall,
and strong as well as thick. He was, in all respects, exceedingly
robust, and able to conquer such difficulties of diet and of travel, as
would have killed most men alive;" "he was well set, and he was
therewithall of a very comely, though a very manly, countenance." He is
described as of "a most incomparable generosity," "of a forgiving
spirit." His faults are tenderly touched; "upon certain affronts, he has
made sudden returns, that have shewed choler enough; and he has, by
blow, as well as by word, chastised incivilities."

It is remarkable that Mather should have laid himself out, to such an
extent of preparation and to such heights of eulogy, as this work
exhibits. It is dedicated to the Earl of Bellamont, just about to come
over, as Phips's successor. Mather held in his hand a talisman of favor,
influence, and power. In the Elegy which concludes the _Life_, are lines
like these:

    "Phips, our great friend, our wonder, and our glory,
    The terror of our foes, the world's rare story,
    Or but name Phips, more needs not be expressed,
    Both Englands, and next ages, tell the rest."

The writer of this _Life_ had conferred the gift of an immortal name
upon one Governor of New England, and might upon another.

But with all this panegyric, he does not seem to have been careful to be
just to the memory of his hero. The reader is requested, at this point,
to turn back to pages 23, 24, of this article, and examine the
paragraph, quoted from the _Life of Phips_, introducing the return of
_Advice_ from the Ministers. I have shown, in that connection, how
deceptive the expression "arriving to his Government" is. In reporting
the _Advice_ of the Ministers, in the _Life of Phips_, Mather omits the
paragraphs I have placed within brackets [_p. 21, 22_]--the _first_,
_second_ and _eighth_. The omission of these paragraphs renders the
document, as given by Mather, an absolute misrepresentation of the
transaction, and places Phips in the attitude of having disregarded the
advice of the Ministers, in suffering the trials to proceed as they did;
throwing upon his memory a load of infamy, outweighing all the florid
and extravagant eulogies showered upon him, in the _Life_: verifying and
fulfilling the apprehensions he expressed in his letter of the
fourteenth of October, 1692: "I know my enemies are seeking to turn it
all upon me."

The Reviewer says that "Mr. Mather did not profess to quote the whole
_Advice_, but simply made extracts from it." He professed to give what
the Ministers "declared." I submit to every honorable mind, whether what
Mather printed, omitting the _first_, _second_ and _eighth_ Sections,
was a fair statement of what the Ministers "declared."

The paragraphs he selected, appear, on their face, to urge caution and
even delay, in the proceedings. They leave this impression on the
general reader, and have been so regarded from that day to this. The
artifice, by which the responsibility for what followed was shifted,
from the Ministers, upon Phips and the Court, has, in a great measure,
succeeded. I trust that I have shown that the clauses and words that
seem to indicate caution, had very little force, in that direction; but
that, when the disguising veil of an artful phraseology is removed, they
give substantial countenance to the proceedings of the Court,

I desire, at this point, to ask the further attention of the reader to
Mather's manner of referring to the _Advice of the Ministers_. In his
_Wonders_, he quotes the _eighth_ and _second_ Articles of it (_Pages
12, 55_), in one instance, ascribing the _Advice_ to "Reverend persons,"
"men of God," "gracious men," and, in the other, characterizing it as
"gracious words." He also, in the same work, quotes the _sixth_ Article,
_omitting the words I have placed in brackets, without any indication of
an omission_. Writing, in 1692, when the delusion was at its height, and
for the purpose of keeping the public mind up to the work of the
prosecutions, he gloried chiefly in the _first_, _second_, and _eighth_
Articles, and brought them alone forward, in full. The others he passed
over, with the exception of the _sixth_, from which he struck out the
central sentence--that having the appearance of endorsing the views of
those opposed to spectral testimony. But, in 1697, when the _Life of
Phips_ was written, circumstances had changed. It was apparent, then, to
all, even those most unwilling to realize the fact, that the whole
transaction of the witchcraft prosecutions in Salem was doomed to
perpetual condemnation; and it became expedient to drop out of sight,
forever, if possible, the _second_ and _eighth_ articles, and reproduce
the _sixth_, _entire_.

Considering the unfair view of the import of the _Advice_, in the _Life
of Phips_, and embodied in the _Magnalia_--a work, which, with all its
defects, inaccuracies, and absurdities, is sure of occupying a
conspicuous place in our Colonial literature--I said: "unfortunately for
the reputation of Cotton Mather, Hutchinson has preserved the _Address
of the Ministers_, entire." Regarding the document published by Mather
in the light of a historical imposture, I expressed satisfaction, that
its exposure was provided in a work, sure of circulation and
preservation, equally, to say the least, with the _Life of Phips_ or the
_Magnalia_. The Reviewer, availing himself of the opportunity, hereupon
pronounces me ignorant of the fact that the "_Advice_, entire," was
published by Increase Mather at the end of his _Cases of Conscience_;
and, in his usual style--not, I think, usual, in the _North American
Review_--speaks thus--it is a specimen of what is strown through the
article: "Mr. Upham should have been familiar enough with the original
sources of information on the subject, to have found this _Advice_ in
print, seventy-four years before Hutchinson's _History_ appeared."

Of course, neither I, nor any one else, can be imagined to suppose that
Hutchinson invented the document. It was pre-existent, and at his hand.
It was not to the purpose to say where he found it. I wonder this
Reviewer did not tell the public, that I had _never seen_, _read_, or
_heard of_ Calef; for, to adopt his habit of reasoning, if I had been
acquainted with that writer, my ignorance would have been enlightened,
as Calef would have informed me that "the whole of the Minister's advice
and answer is printed in _Cases of Conscience_, the last pages."

That only which finds a place in works worthy to endure, and of standard
value, is sure of perpetual preservation. Hutchinson's _History of
Massachusetts_ is a work of this description. Whatever is committed to
its custody will stand the test of time. This cannot be expected of that
class of tracts or books to which _Cases of Conscience_ belongs, copies
of which can hardly be found, and not likely to justify a separate
re-publication. It has, indeed, not many years ago, been reprinted in
England, in a series of _Old Authors_, tacked on to the _Wonders of the
Invisible World_. But few copies have reached this country; and only
persons of peculiar, it may almost be said, eccentric, tastes, would
care to procure it. It will be impossible to awaken an interest in the
general reading public for such works. They are forbidding in their
matter, unintelligible in their style, obscure in their import and
drift, and pervaded by superstitions and absurdities that have happily
passed away, never, it is to be hoped, again to enter the realm of
theology, philosophy, or popular belief; and will perish by the hand of
time, and sink into oblivion. If this present discussion had not arisen,
and the "_Advice_, entire," had not been given by Hutchinson, the
_suppressio veri_, perpetrated by Cotton Mather, would, perhaps, have
become permanent history.

In reference to the _Advice of the Ministers_, the Reviewer, in one part
of his article, seems to complain thus: "Mr. Upham has never seen fit to
print this paper;" in other parts, he assails me from the opposite
direction, and in a manner too serious, in the character of the assault,
to be passed over. In my book, (_ii., 267_) I thus speak of the _Advice
of the Ministers_, referring to it, in a note to p. 367, in similar
terms: "The response of the reverend gentlemen, while urging in general
terms the importance of caution and circumspection in the methods of
examination, decidedly and earnestly recommended that the proceedings
should be vigorously carried on."

It is a summary, in general and brief terms, _in my own language_, of
the _import_ of the whole document, covering both sets of its articles.
Hutchinson condenses it in similar terms, as do Calef and Douglas. I
repeat, and beg it to be marked, that I do _not quote it_, in _whole_ or
_in part_, but only give its import in my own words. I claim the
judgment of the reader, whether I do not give the import of the articles
Mather printed in the _Life of Phips_--those pretending to urge
caution--as fairly as of the articles he omitted, applauding the Court,
and encouraging it to go on.

Now, this writer in the _North American Review_ represents to the
readers of that journal and to the public, that I have _quoted_ the
_Advice of the Ministers_, and, in variety of phrase, rings the charge
of unfair and false _quotation_, against me. He uses this language: "If
it were such a heinous crime for Cotton Mather, in writing the _Life of
Sir William Phips_, to omit three Sections, how will Mr. Upham vindicate
his own omissions, when, writing the history of these very transactions
and bringing the gravest charges against the characters of the persons
concerned, he leaves out seven Sections?" I _quoted_ no Section, and
made no _omissions_; and it is therefore utterly unjustifiable to say
that I _left out_ any thing. I gave the substance of the Sections Cotton
Mather left out, in language nearly identical with that used by
Hutchinson and all others. In the same way, I gave the substance of the
Sections Mather published, in the very sense he always claimed for them.
What I said did not bear the form, nor profess the character, of a

In the _Wonders of the Invisible World_, written in 1692, when the
prosecutions were in full blast and Mather was glorying in them, and for
the purpose of prolonging them, the only Section he saw fit, in a
particular connection, to quote, was the SECOND. He prefaced it thus:
"They were some of the Gracious Words inserted in the _Advice_, which
many of the neighboring Ministers did this Summer humbly lay before our
Honorable Judges." Let it be noted, by the way, that when he thus
praised the document, its authorship had not been avowed. Let it further
be noted, that it is here let slip that the paper was _laid before the
Judges_, not Phips; showing that it was a response to _them_, not him.
Let it be still further noted, that the Section which he thus cited, in
1692, is one of those which, when the tide had turned, he left out, in

The Reviewer, referring to Mather's quotation of the second Section of
the _Advice_, in the _Wonders_, says: "he printed it in full, which Mr.
Upham has never done;" and following out the strange misrepresentation,
he says: "Mr. Upham does not print any part of the eighth Section, as
the Ministers adopted it. He suppresses the essential portions, changes
words, and, by interpolation, states that the Ministers 'decidedly,'
'earnestly,' and 'vehemently,' recommended that the 'proceedings' should
be vigorously carried on. He who quotes in this manner needs other
evidence than that produced by Mr. Upham to entitle him to impeach Mr.
Mather's integrity." In another place he says, pursuing the charge of
quoting falsely, as to my using the word "proceedings," "the word is not
to be found in the _Advice_."

The eighth Section recommends "the speedy and vigorous prosecutions of
such as have rendered themselves obnoxious." In a brief reference to the
subject, I use the words "speedily and vigorously," marking them as
quoted, although their form was changed by the structure of the sentence
of my own in which they appear. Beyond this, I have made no
_quotations_, in my book, of the _Advice_--not a Section, nor sentence,
nor clause, nor line, is a quotation, nor pretends to be. Without
characterising what the Reviewer has done, in charging me with
_suppression of essential portions_, _interpolation_, and not _printing_
in full, or correctly, what the Ministers or any body else said, my duty
is discharged, by showing that there is no truth in the charge--no
foundation or apology for it.

The last of the works of Cotton Mather I shall examine, in this scrutiny
of his retrospective opinions and position, relating to the witchcraft
prosecutions, is the _Magnalia_, printed at London, in 1702. He had
become wise enough, at that time, not to commit himself more than he
could help.

The Rev. John Hale, of Beverly, died in May, 1700. He had taken an
active part in the proceedings at Salem, in 1692, having, as he says,
from his youth, been "trained up in the knowledge and belief of most of
the principles" upon which the prosecutions were conducted, and had held
them "with a kind of implicit faith." Towards the close of the Trials,
his view underwent a change; and, after the lapse of five years, he
prepared a treatise on the subject. It is a candid, able, learned, and
every-way commendable performance, adhering to the general belief in
witchcraft, but pointing out the errors in the methods of procedure in
the Trials at Salem, showing that the principles there acted upon were
fallacious. The book was not printed until 1702. Cotton Mather, having
access to Mr. Hale's manuscript, professedly made up from it his account
of the witchcraft transactions of 1692, inserted in the _Magnalia_,
Book VI., Page 79. He adopts the narrative part of the work,
substantially, avoiding much discussion of the topics upon which Mr.
Hale had laid himself out. He cites, indeed, some passages from the
argumentative part, containing marvellous statements, but does not
mention that Mr. Hale labored, throughout, to show that those and other
like matters, which had been introduced at the Trials, as proofs of
spectral agency, were easily resolvable into the visions and vagaries of
a "deluded imagination," "a phantasy in the brain," "phantasma before
the eyes."

Mr. Hale limits the definition of a witch to the following: "Who is to
be esteemed a capital witch among Christians? viz.: Those that being
brought up under the means of the knowledge of the true God, yet, being
in their right mind or free use of their reason, do knowingly and
wittingly depart from the true God, so as to devote themselves unto, and
seek for their help from, another God, or the Devil, as did the Devil's
Priests and Prophets of old, that were magicians."--_Page 127._

As he had refuted, and utterly discarded, the whole system of evidence
connected with spectres of the living or ghosts of the dead, the above
definition rescued all but openly profane, abandoned, and God-defying
people from being prosecuted for witchcraft. Mather transcribes, as a
quotation, what seems to be the foregoing definition, but puts it thus:
"A person that, having the free use of reason, doth knowingly and
willingly seek and obtain of the Devil, or of any other God, besides the
true God Jehovah, an ability to do or know strange things, or things
which he cannot by his own humane abilities arrive unto. This person is
a witch."

The latter part of the definition thus transcribed, has no justification
in Hale's language, but is in conflict with the positions in his book.
Mather says, "the author spends whole Chapters to prove that there yet
is a witch." He omits to state, that he spends twice as many Chapters to
prove that the evidence in the Salem cases was not sufficient for that
purpose. Upon the whole it can hardly be considered a fair transcript of
Mr. Hale's account. He dismisses the subject, once for all, in a curt
and almost disrespectful style--"But thus much for this manuscript."

Whoever examines the manner in which he, in this way, gets rid of the
subject, in the _Magnalia_, must be convinced, I think, that he felt no
satisfaction in Mr. Hale's book, nor in the state of things that made it
necessary for him to give the whole matter the go-by. If the public mind
had retained its fanatical credulity, or if Mather's own share in the
delusion of 1692 had been agreeable in the retrospect, it cannot be
doubted that it would have afforded THE GREAT THEME, of his great book.
All the strange learning, passionate eloquence, and extravagant
painting, of its author, would have been lavished upon it; and we should
have had another separate Book, with a Hebrew, Greek, or Latin motto or
title, which, interpreted, would read _Most Wonderful of Wonders_. In
1692, his language was: "Witchcraft is a business that will not be
shammed." In 1700, it was shoved off upon the memory of Mr. Hale, as a
business not safe for him, Mather, to meddle with, any longer. It was
dropped, as if it burned his fingers.



Such passages as the following are found in the article of the _North
American Review_: "These views, respecting Mr. Mather's connection with
the Salem Trials, are to be found in no publication of a date prior to
1831, when Mr. Upham's _Lectures_ were published." "These charges have
been repented by Mr. Quincy, in his _History of Harvard University_, by
Mr. Peabody, in his _Life of Cotton Mather_, by Mr. Bancroft, and by
nearly all historical writers, since that date." "An examination of the
historical text-books, used in our schools, will show when these ideas

The position taken by the Reviewer, let it be noticed, is, that the idea
of Cotton Mather's taking a leading part in the witchcraft prosecutions
of 1692, "_originated_" with me, in a work printed in 1831; and that I
have given "the cue" to all subsequent writers on the subject. Now what
are the facts?

Cotton Mather himself is a witness that the idea was entertained at the
time. In his Diary, after endeavoring to explain away the admitted fact
that he was the eulogist and champion of the Judges, while the Trials
were pending, he says: "Merely, as far as I can learn, for this reason,
the mad people through the country, under a fascination on their spirits
equal to that which energumens had on their bodies, reviled me as if I
had been the doer of all the hard things that were done in the
prosecution of the witchcraft." He repeats the complaint, over and over
again, in various forms and different writings. Indeed, it could not
have been otherwise, than that such should have been the popular
impression and conviction.

He was, at that time, bringing before the people, most conspicuously,
the _second_ and _eighth_ Articles of the _Ministers' Advice_, urging
on the prosecutions. His deportment and harangue at Witch-hill, at the
execution of Burroughs and Proctor; his confident and eager endorsement,
as related by Sewall, of the sentences of the Court, at the moment when
all others were impressed with silent solemnity, by the spectacle of
five persons, professing their innocency, just launched into eternity;
his efforts to prolong the prosecutions, in preparing the book
containing the trials of the "Malefactors" who had suffered; and his
zeal, on all occasions, to "vindicate the Court" and applaud the Judges;
all conspired in making it the belief of the whole people that he was,
pre-eminently, answerable for the "hard things that were done in the
prosecutions of the witchcraft."

That it was the general opinion, at home and abroad, can be abundantly

It must be borne in mind, as is explained in my book, that a general
feeling prevailed, immediately, and for some years, after the witchcraft
"judicial murders," that the whole subject was too humble to be thought
of, or ever mentioned; and as nearly the whole community, either by
acting in favor of the proceedings or failing to act against them, had
become more or less responsible for them, there was an almost universal
understanding to avoid crimination or recrimination. Besides, so far as
Cotton Mather was concerned, his professional and social position, great
talents and learning, and capacity with a disposition for usefulness,
joined to the reverence then felt for Ministers prevented his being
assailed even by those who most disapproved his course. Increase Mather
was President of the College and head of the Clergy. The prevalent
impression that _he_ had, to some extent, disapproved of the
proceedings, made men unwilling to wound his feelings by severe
criticisms upon his son; for, whatever differences might be supposed to
exist between them, all well-minded persons respected their natural and
honorable sensitiveness to each other's reputation. Reasons like these
prevented open demonstrations against both of them. Nevertheless, it is
easy to gather sufficient evidence to prove my point.

Thomas Brattle was a Boston merchant of great munificence and eminent
talents and attainments. His name is perpetuated by "Brattle-street
Church," of which he was the chief founder. Dr. John Eliot, in his
_Biographical Dictionary_, speaks of him thus--referring to his letter
on the witchcraft of 1692, dated October 8, of that year: "Mr. Brattle
wrote an account of those transactions, which was too plain and just to
be published in those unhappy times, but has been printed since; and
which cannot be read without feeling sentiments of esteem for a man, who
indulged a freedom of thought becoming a Christian and philosopher. He,
from the beginning, opposed the prejudices of the people, the
proceedings of the Court, and the perverse zeal of those Ministers of
the Gospel, who, by their preaching and conduct, caused such real
distress to the community. They, who called him an infidel, were obliged
to acknowledge that his wisdom shone with uncommon lustre."

His brother, William Brattle, with whom he seems to have been in entire
harmony of opinion, on all subjects, was long an honored instructor and
Fellow of Harvard College, and Minister of the First Church, at
Cambridge. He was celebrated here and in England, for his learning, and
endeared to all men by his virtues. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society
of London. Jeremiah Dummer, as well qualified to pronounce such an
opinion as any man of his time, places him as a preacher above all his
contemporaries, in either Old or New England.

The Brattles were both politically opposed to the Mathers. But, as
matters then stood, in view of the prevailing infatuation--particularly
as the course upon which Phips had determined was not then
known--caution and prudence were deemed necessary; and the letter was
_confidential_. Indeed, all expressions of criticism, on the conduct of
the Government, were required to be so. It is a valuable document,
justifying the reputation the writer had established in life and has
borne ever since. Condemning the methods pursued in the Salem Trials, he
says: after stating that "several men, for understanding, judgment, and
piety, inferior to few, if any, utterly condemn the proceedings" at
Salem, "I shall nominate some of these to you, viz.: the Hon. Simon
Bradstreet, Esq., our late Governor; the Hon. Thomas Danforth, our late
Deputy-governor; the Rev. Mr. Increase Mather; and the Rev. Mr. Samuel

Bradstreet was ninety years of age, but in the full possession of his
mental faculties. In this sense, "his eye was not dim, nor his natural
force abated." Thirteen years before, when Governor of the Colony, he
had refused to order to execution a woman who had been convicted of
witchcraft, in a series of trials that had gone through all the Courts,
with concurring verdicts, confirmed at an adjudication by the Board of
Assistants--as President of which body, it had been his official duty to
pass upon her the final sentence of death. Juries, Judges, both branches
of the Legislature, and the people, clamored for her execution; but the
brave old Governor withstood them all, resolutely and inexorably: an
innocent and good woman and the honor of the Colony, at that time, were
saved. Mr. Hale informs us that Bradstreet refused to allow the
sentence to take effect, for these reasons: that "a spectre doing
mischief in her likeness, should not be imputed to her person, as a
ground of guilt; and that one single witness to one fact and another
single witness to another fact" were not to be esteemed "two witnesses
in a matter capital." No Executive Magistrate has left a record more
honorable to his name, than that of Bradstreet, on this occasion. If his
principles had been heeded, not a conviction could have been obtained,
in 1692. It was because of his known opposition, that his two sons were
cried out upon and had to fly for their lives. That Brattle was
justified in naming Danforth, in this connection, the conversation of
that person with Sewall, on the fifteenth of October, proves. It is
understood, by many indications, that, although, in former years,
inclined to the popular delusions of the day, touching witchcraft,
Willard was an opponent of the prosecutions; and Brattle must be
regarded as having had means of judging of Increase Mather's views and
feelings, on the eighth of October.

This singling out of the father, thereby distinguishing him from the
son, must, I think, be conclusive evidence, to every man who candidly
considers the circumstances of the case and the purport of the document,
that Brattle did not consider Cotton Mather entitled to be named in the
honored list.

Brattle further says: "Excepting Mr. Hale, Mr. Noyes, and Mr. Parris,
the Rev. Elders, almost throughout the whole country, are very much
dissatisfied." The word "almost," leaves room for others to be placed in
the same category with Hale, Noyes, and Parris. The Reviewer argues that
because Cotton Mather is not named at all, in either list, therefore he
must be counted in the first!

The father and son were associate Ministers of the same Church; they
shared together a great name, fame, and position; both men of the
highest note, here and abroad, conspicuous before all eyes, standing,
hand in hand, in all the associations and sentiments of the people,
united by domestic ties, similar pursuits, and every form of public
action and observation--why did Brattle, in so marked a manner, separate
them, holding the one up, in an honorable point of view, and passing
over the other, not ever mentioning his name, as the Reviewer observes?

If he really disapproved of the prosecutions at Salem--if, as the
Reviewer positively states, he "denounced" them--is it not unaccountable
that Brattle did not name him with his father?

These questions press with especial force upon the Reviewer, under the
interpretation he crowds upon the passage from Brattle, I am now to
cite. If that interpretation can be allowed, it will, in the face of
all that has come to us, make Brattle out to have had a most exalted
opinion of Cotton Mather, and render it unaccountable indeed that he did
not mention him, in honor, as he did his father and Mr. Willard. The
passage is this: "I cannot but highly applaud, and think it our duty to
be very thankful for, the endeavours of several Elders, whose lips, I
think, should preserve knowledge, and whose counsel should, I think,
have been more regarded, in a case of this nature, than as yet it has
been: in particular, I cannot but think very honorably of the endeavours
of a Rev. person in Boston, whose good affections to his country, in
general, and spiritual relation to three of the Judges, in particular,
has made him very solicitous and industrious in this matter; and I am
fully persuaded, that had his notions and proposals been hearkened to
and followed, when those troubles were in their birth, in an ordinary
way, they would never have grown unto that height which now they have.
He has, as yet, met with little but unkindness, abuse, and reproach,
from many men; but, I trust, that in after times, his wisdom and service
will find a more universal acknowledgment; and if not, his reward is
with the Lord."

The learned Editor of the Fifth Volume of the _Massachusetts Historical
Collections_, First Series, in a note to this passage (_p. 76_), says:
"Supposed to be Mr. Willard." Such has always been the supposition. The
Reviewer has undertaken to make it out that Cotton Mather is the person
referred to by Brattle. These two men were opposed to each other, in the
politics of that period. The course of the Mathers, in connection with
the loss of the old, and the establishment of the new, Charter, gave
rise to much dissatisfaction; and party divisions were quite
acrimonious. The language used by Brattle, applauding the public course
of the person of whom he was speaking, would be utterly inexplicable, if
applied to Mather. The "endeavours, counsels, notions and proposals," to
which he alludes, could not have referred to Mather's plans, which I
have attempted to explain, because described by Brattle as being in "an
ordinary way." "Unkindness, abuse, and reproach" find an explanation in
the fact, that Willard was "cried out upon" and brought into peril of
reputation and life, by the creatures of the prosecution. The
monstrousness of the supposition that Mather was referred to, would
hardly be heightened if it should appear that Brattle supplied Calef
with materials in his controversy with Mather.

The language, throughout, is in conformity with the political relations
between Brattle and Willard. The side the latter had espoused was put
beyond question by the appearing, on the fifteenth of November, at
Elisha Cook's Thanksgiving; and that was the same occupied by Brattle.
But the question is settled by the fact that _three of the Judges_
belonged to Willard's Congregation and Church, whereas only _one_
belonged to the Church of the Mathers. The Reviewer says: "We do not
assert that this inference is not the correct one." But, in spite of
this substantial admission, with that strange propensity to overturn all
the conclusions of history to glorify Cotton Mather, at the expense of
others, and even, in this instance, against his own better judgment, he
labors to make us believe--what he himself does not venture to
"assert"--that the "spiritual relation" in which Mather stood to three
of the Judges, was not, what, in those days and ever since, it has been
understood to mean, that of a Pastor with his flock, but nothing more
than intimate friendship. If this was what Brattle meant, he would have
said at least _four_ of the Judges, for, at that time, Sewall was in
full accord with Mather. They took counsel together. It was at the house
of Sewall that the preparation of the _Wonders of the Invisible World_
was finally arranged with Mather; and he, alone, of all the side Judges,
united with Stoughton, some days after the date of Brattle's letter, in
endorsing and commending that work.

If the expression, "spiritual relations," is divorced from its proper
sense, and made to mean sympathy of opinion or agreement in counsels, it
ill becomes the Reviewer to try to make it out that Mather held that
relation with _any of the Judges_. He represents him, throughout his
article, as at sword's points with the Court. He says that he
"denounced" its course, "as illegal, uncharitable, and cruel." There is,
indeed, not a shadow of foundation for this statement, as to Mather's
relation to the Court; but it absolutely precludes the Reviewer from
such an interpretation as he attempts, of the expression of Brattle.

The Reviewer says: "If Mr. Mather is not alluded to, in this paragraph,
he is omitted altogether from the narrative, except as spiritual adviser
of the persons condemned."

This is an instance of the way in which this writer establishes history.
Without any and against all evidence, in the license of his imagination
alone, he had thrown out the suggestion that Mather attended the
executions, as the ministerial comforter and counsellor of the
sufferers. Then, by a sleight of hand, he transforms this "phantasy" of
his own brain into an unquestionable fact.

If Mr. Mather is not alluded to in the following passage from Brattle's
letter, who is? "I cannot but admire, that any should go with their
distempered friends and relatives to the afflicted children to know what
these distempered friends ail; whether they are not bewitched; who it is
that afflicts them; and the like. It is true, I know no reason why these
afflicted may not be consulted as well as any other, if so be that it
was only their natural and ordinary knowledge that was had recourse to;
but it is not on this notion that these afflicted children are sought
unto; but as they have a supernatural knowledge--a knowledge which they
obtain by their holding correspondence with spectres or evil spirits--as
they themselves grant. This consulting of these afflicted children, as
abovesaid, seems to me a very gross evil, a real abomination, not fit to
be known in New England, and yet is a thing practiced, not only by Tom
and John--I mean the ruder and more ignorant sort--but by many who
profess high, and pass among us for some of the better sort. This is
that which aggravates the evil and makes it heinous and tremendous; and
yet this is not the worst of it, for, as sure as I now write to you,
even some of our civil leaders and spiritual teachers, who, I think,
should punish and preach down such sorcery and wickedness, do yet allow
of, encourage, yea, and practice, this very abomination.

"I know there are several worthy gentlemen, in Salem, who account this
practice as an abomination; have trembled to see the methods of this
nature which others have used; and have declared themselves to think the
practice to be very evil and corrupt; but all avails little with the
abettors of the said practice."

Does not this stern condemnation fall on the head of the "spiritual
teacher," who received constant communications from the spectral world,
fastening the charge of diabolical confederacy upon other persons, in
confidential interviews with confessing witches--not to mention the
Goodwin girls;--whose boast it was, "it may be no man living has had
more people, under preternatural and astonishing circumstances, cast by
the Providence of God into his more particular care than I have had;"
and that he had kept to himself information thus obtained, which, if he
had not suppressed it, would have led to the conviction of "such witches
as ought to die;" who sought to have the exclusive right of receiving
such communications conferred upon him, "by the authority;" who, at that
time, was holding this intercourse with persons pretending to spectral
visions; and, the next year, held such relations with Margaret Rule?

The next evidence in support of the opinion that Cotton Mather was
considered, at the time, as identified with the proceedings at Salem, in
1692, although circumstantial, cannot, I think, but be regarded as quite

Immediately after the prosecutions terminated, measures began to be
developed to remove Mr. Parris from his ministry. The reaction early
took effect where the outrages of the delusion had been most flagrant;
and the injured feelings of the friends of those who had been so cruelly
cut off, and of all who had suffered in their characters and condition,
found expression. A movement was made, directly and personally, upon
Parris, in consequence of his conspicuous lead in the prosecutions;
showing itself, first, in the form of litigation, in the Courts, of
questions of salary and the adjustment of accounts. Soon, it broke out
in the Church; and satisfaction was demanded, by aggrieved brethren, in
the methods appropriate to ecclesiastical action. The charges here made
against him were exclusively in reference to his course, at the
Examinations and Trials, in 1692. The conflict, thus initiated, is one
of the most memorable in our Church History. Parris and his adherents
resisted, for a long time, the rightful and orderly demands of his
opponents for a Mutual Council. At length, many of the Ministers, who
sympathized with the aggrieved brethren, felt it their duty to
interpose, and addressed a letter to Mr. Parris, giving him to
understand that they were of opinion he ought to comply with the demand
for a Council. This letter, dated the fourteenth of June, 1694, was
signed by several of the neighboring Ministers, and by James Allen, of
the First, and Samuel Willard, of the Old South, Churches, in Boston,
_but not by the Mathers_. On the tenth of September, a similar letter
was written to him, also signed by neighboring Ministers, and Mr. Allen,
and Mr. Willard, _but not by the Mathers_.

Not daring to refuse any longer, Parris, professedly yielding to the
demand, consented to a Mutual Council, but avoided it, in this way. Each
party was to select three Churches, to maintain its interests and give
friendly protection to its rights and feelings. The aggrieved brethren
selected the Churches of Rowley, Salisbury and Ipswich. Parris undertook
to object to the Church of Ipswich; and refused to proceed, if it was
invited. Of course, the aggrieved brethren persisted in their right to
name the Churches on their side. Knowing that they had the right so to
do, and that public opinion would sustain them in it, Parris escaped the
dilemma, by calling an _ex parte_ Council; and the Churches invited to
it were those of North Boston, Weymouth, Malden, and Rowley. The first
was that of the Mathers. That Parris was right in relying upon the Rev.
Samuel Torrey of Weymouth, is rendered probable by the circumstance
that, of the names of the fourteen Ministers, including all those known
to have been opposed to the proceedings at Salem, attached to the
recommendation of the _Cases of Conscience_, his is not one; and may be
considered as made certain by the fact recorded by Sewall, that he was
opposed to the discontinuance of the Trials. The Pastor of the Malden
Church was the venerable Michael Wigglesworth, a gentleman of the
highest repute; who had declined the Presidency of Harvard College;
whose son and grandson became Professors in that institution; and whose
descendants still sustain the honor of their name and lineage. From the
tone of his writings, it is quite probable that he favored the
witchcraft proceedings, at the beginning; but the change of mind,
afterwards strongly expressed, had, perhaps, then begun to be
experienced, for he did not respond to the call, as his name does not
appear in the record of the Council. The fact that Parris chiefly
depended upon the Church at North Boston, of which Cotton Mather was
Pastor, to sustain his cause, in a Council, whose whole business was to
pass upon his conduct in witchcraft prosecutions, is quite decisive.
That Church was named by him, from the first to the last, and neither of
the other Boston Churches. It shows that he turned to Cotton Mather,
more than to any other Minister, to be his champion.

It is further decisively proved that the reaction had become strong
among the Ministers, by the unusual steps they took to prevent that
Council being under the sway of such men as Cotton Mather and Torrey,
thereby prolonging the mischief. A meeting of the "Reverend Elders of
the Bay" was held; and Mr. Parris was given to understand that, in their
judgment, the Churches of Messrs. Allen and Willard ought also to be
invited. He bitterly resented this, and saw that it sealed his fate; but
felt the necessity of yielding to it. The addition of those two
Churches, with their Pastors, determined the character and result of the
Council, and gave new strength to the aggrieved brethren, who soon
succeeded in compelling Parris and his friends to agree to submit the
whole matter to the arbitration of three men, mutually chosen, whose
decision should be final.

The umpire selected in behalf of the opponents of Parris was no other
than Elisha Cook, the head of the party arrayed against Mather. Wait
Winthrop appears to have been selected by Parris; and Samuel Sewall was
mutually agreed upon. Two of the three, who thus passed final judgment
against the proceedings at the Salem Trials, sat on the Bench of the
Special Court of Oyer and Terminer. The case of the aggrieved brethren
was presented to the Arbitrators in a document, signed by four men, as
"Attorneys of the people of the Village," each one of whom had been
struck at, in the time of the prosecutions. It _exclusively_ refers to
Mr. Parris's conduct, in the witchcraft prosecutions; to "his believing
the Devil's accusations;" and to his going to the accusing girls, to
know of them "who afflicted" them. For these reasons, and these alone,
they "submit the whole" to the decision of the Arbitrators, concluding
thus: "to determine whether we are, or ought to be, any ways obliged to
honor, respect, and support such an instrument of our miseries." The
Arbitrators decided that they _ought not_; fixed the sum to be paid to
Parris, as a final settlement; and declared the ministerial relation,
between him and the people of the Village, dissolved.

With this official statement of the grounds on which his dismission was
demanded and obtained, before his eyes, as printed by Calef (_p. 63_),
this Reviewer says that Parris remained the Minister of Salem Village,
five years "after the witchcraft excitement;" and further says, "the
immediate cause of his leaving, was his quarrel with the Parish,
concerning thirty cords of wood and the fee of the parsonage." He thus
thinks, by a dash of his pen, to strike out the record of the fact that
the main, in truth, the only, ground on which Parris was dismissed, was
the part he bore in the witchcraft prosecutions. The salary question had
been pending in the Courts; but it was wholly left out of view, by the
party demanding his dismission. It had nothing to do with _dismission_;
was a question of _contract_ and _debt_; and was absorbed in the
"excitement," _which had never ceased_, about the witchcraft
prosecutions. The Arbitrators did not decide those questions, about
salary and the balance of accounts, except as incidental to the other
question, of _dismission_.

The feeling among the inhabitants of Salem Village, that Cotton Mather
was in sympathy with Mr. Parris, during the witchcraft prosecutions, is
demonstrated by the facts I have adduced connected with the controversy
between them and the latter, and most emphatically by their choice of
Elisha Cook, as the Arbitrator, on their part. Surely no persons of that
day, understood the matter better than they did. Indeed, they could not
have been mistaken about it. It remained the settled conviction of that

When the healing ministry of the successor of Parris, Joseph Green, was
brought to a close, by the early death of that good man, in 1715, and
the whole Parish, still feeling the dire effects of the great calamity
of 1692, were mourning their bereavement, expressed in their own
language: "the choicest flower, and greenest olive-tree, in the garden
of our God here, cut down in its prime and flourishing estate," they
passed a vote, earnestly soliciting the Rev. William Brattle of
Cambridge, to visit them. He was always a known opponent of Cotton
Mather. To have selected him to come to them, in their distress and
destitution, indicates the views then prevalent in the Village. He went
to them and guided them by his advice, until they obtained a new

The mention of the fact by Mr. Hale, already stated, that Cotton
Mather's book, _Memorable Providences_, was used as an authority by the
Judges at the Salem Trials, shows that the author of that work was
regarded by Hale as, to that extent at least, responsibly connected with
the prosecutions.

I pass over, for the present, the proceedings and writings of Robert

After the lapse of a few years, a feeling, which had been slowly, but
steadily, rising among the people, that some general and public
acknowledgment ought to be made by all who had been engaged in the
proceedings of 1692, and especially by the authorities, of the wrongs
committed in that dark day, became too strong to be safely disregarded.
On the seventeenth of December, 1696, Stoughton, then acting as
Governor, issued a Proclamation, ordaining, in his name and that of the
Council and Assembly, a Public Fast, to be kept on the fourteenth of
January, to implore that the anger of God might be turned away, and His
hand, then stretched over the people in manifold judgments, lifted.
After referring to the particular calamities they were suffering and to
the many days that had been spent in solemn addresses to the throne of
mercy, it expresses a fear that something was still wanting to accompany
their supplications, and proceeds to refer, specially, to the witchcraft
tragedy. It was on the occasion of this Fast, that Judge Sewall acted
the part, in the public assembly of the old South Church, for which his
name will ever be held in dear and honored memory.

The public mind was, no doubt, gratified and much relieved, but not
satisfied, by this demonstration. The Proclamation did not, after all,
meet its demands. Upon careful examination and deliberate reflection, it
rather aggravated the prevalent feeling. Written, as was to be supposed,
by Stoughton, it could not represent a reaction in which he took no
part. It spoke of "mistakes on either hand," and used general forms,
"wherein we have done amiss, to do so no more." It endorsed in a new
utterance, the delusion, sheltering the proper agents of the mischief,
by ascribing it all to "Satan and his instruments, through the awful
judgment of God;" and no atonement for the injuries to the good name and
estates of the sufferers, not to speak of the lives that had been cut
off, was suggested. The conviction was only deepened, in all good minds,
that something more ought to be done. Mr. Hale, of Beverly, met the
obligation pressing upon his sense of justice and appealing to him with
especial force, by writing his book, from which the following passages
are extracted: "I would come yet nearer to our own times, and bewail
the errors and mistakes that have been, in the year 1692--by following
such traditions of our fathers, maxims of the common law, and precedents
and principles, which now we may see, weighed in the balance of the
sanctuary, are found too light--Such was the darkness of that day, the
tortures and lamentations of the afflicted, and the power of former
precedents, that we walked in the clouds and could not see our way--I
would humbly propose whether it be not expedient that somewhat more
should be publicly done than yet hath, for clearing the good name and
reputation of some that have suffered upon this account."

The Rev. John Higginson, Senior Pastor of the First Church in Salem,
then eighty-two years of age, in a recommendatory _Epistle to the
Reader_, prefixed to Mr. Hale's book, dated the twenty-third of March,
1698, after stating that, "under the infirmities of a decrepit old age,
he stirred little abroad, and was much disenabled (both in body and
mind) from knowing and judging of occurrents and transactions of that
time," proceeds to say that he was "more willing to accompany" Mr. Hale
"to the press," because he thought his "treatise needful and useful upon
divers accounts;" among others specified by him, is the following: "That
whatever errors or mistakes we fell into, in the dark hour of temptation
that was upon us, may be (upon more light) so discovered, acknowledged,
and disowned by us, as that it may be matter of warning and caution to
those that come after us, that they may not fall into the like.--_1
Cor._, x., 11. _Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum._ I would also
propound, and leave it as an object of consideration, to our honored
Magistrates and Reverend Ministers, whether the equity of that law in
_Leviticus_, Chap. iv., for a sin-offering for the Rulers and for the
Congregation, in the case of sins of ignorance, when they come to be
known, be not obliging, and for direction to us in a Gospel way." The
venerable man concludes by saying that "it shall be the prayer of him
who is daily waiting for his change and looking for the mercy of the
Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life," that the "blessing of Heaven may
go along with this little treatise to attain the good ends thereof."

Judge Sewall, too, and the Jury that had given the verdicts at the
Trials, in 1692, publicly and emphatically acknowledged that they had
been led into error.

All these things afford decisive and affecting evidence of a prevalent
conviction that a great wrong had been committed. The vote passed by the
Church at Salem Village, on the fourteenth of February, 1703--"We are,
through God's mercy to us, convinced that we were, at that dark day,
under the power of those errors which then prevailed in the land." "We
desire that this may be entered in our Church-book," "that so God may
forgive our Sin, and may be atoned for the land; and we humbly pray that
God will not leave us any more to such errors and sins"--affords
striking proof that the right feeling had penetrated the whole
community. On the eighth of July, of that same year, nearly the whole
body of the Clergy of Essex-county addressed a Memorial to the General
Court, in which they say, "There is great reason to fear that innocent
persons then suffered, and that God may have a controversy with the land
upon that account."

Nothing of the kind, however, was ever heard from the Ministers of
Boston and the vicinity. Why did they not join their voices in this
prayer, going up elsewhere, from all concerned, for the divine
forgiveness? We know that most of them felt right. Samuel Willard and
James Allen did; and so did William Brattle, of Cambridge. Their silence
cannot, it seems to me, be accounted for, but by considering the degree
to which they were embarrassed by the relation of the Mathers to the
affair. One brave-hearted old man remonstrated against their failure to
meet the duty of the hour, and addressed his remonstrance to the right
quarter. The Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, a Fellow of Harvard College, and
honored in all the Churches, wrote a letter to Increase Mather, dated
July 22, 1704 [_Mather Papers, 647_], couched in strong and bold terms,
beginning thus:

"REV. AND DEAR S^R. I am right well assured that both yourself, your
son, and the rest of our brethren with you in Boston, have a deep sense
upon your spirits of the awful symptoms of the Divine displeasure that
we lie under at this day." After briefly enumerating the public
calamities of the period, he continues: "I doubt not but you are all
endeavouring to find out and discover to the people the causes of God's
controversy, and how they are to be removed; to help forward this
difficult and necessary work, give me leave to impart some of my serious
and solemn thoughts. I fear (amongst our many other provocations) that
God hath a controversy with us about what was done in the time of the
Witchcraft. I fear that innocent blood hath been shed, and that _many
have had their hands defiled therewith_." After expressing his belief
that the Judges acted conscientiously, and that the persons concerned
were deceived, he proceeds: "Be it then that it was done ignorantly.
Paul, a Pharisee, persecuted the Church of God, shed the blood of God's
Saints, and yet obtained mercy, because he did it in ignorance; but how
doth he bewail it, and shame himself for it, before God and men
afterwards. [_1 Tim., i., 13, 16._] I think, and am verily persuaded,
God expects that we do the like, in order to our obtaining his pardon: I
mean by a Public and Solemn acknowledgment of it and humiliation for it;
and the more particularly and personally it is done by all that have
been actors, the more pleasing it will be to God, and more effectual to
turn away his judgments from the Land, and to prevent his wrath from
falling upon the persons and families of such as have been most

"I know this is a _Noli Me tangere_, but what shall we do? Must we pine
away in our iniquities, rather than boldly declare the Counsel of God,
who tells us, [_Isa., i., 15._] 'When you make many prayers, I will not
hear you, your hands are full of blood.'"

He further says that he believes that "the whole country lies under a
curse to this day, and will do, till some effectual course be taken by
our honored Governor and General Court to make amends and reparation" to
the families of such as were condemned "for supposed witchcraft," or
have "been ruined by taking away and making havoc of their estates."
After continuing the argument, disposing of the excuse that the country
was too impoverished to do any thing in that way, he charges his
correspondent to communicate his thoughts to "the Rev. Samuel Willard
and the rest of our brethren in the ministry," that action may be taken,
without delay. He concludes his plain and earnest appeal and
remonstrance, in those words: "I have, with a weak body and trembling
hand, endeavoured to leave my testimony before I leave the world; and
having left it with you (my Rev. Brethren) I hope I shall leave this
life with more peace, when God seeth meet to call me hence."

He died within a year. When the tone of this letter is carefully
considered, and the pressure of its forcible and bold reasoning,
amounting to expostulation, is examined, it can hardly be questioned
that it was addressed to the persons who most needed to be appealed to.
But no effect appears to have been produced by it.

In introducing his report of the Trials, contained in the _Wonders of
the Invisible World_, Cotton Mather, alluding to the "surviving
relations" of those who had been executed, says: "The Lord comfort
them." It was poor consolation he gave them in that book--holding up
their parents, wives, and husbands, as "Malefactors." Neither he nor his
father ever expressed a sentiment in harmony with those uttered by Hale,
Higginson, or Wigglesworth--on the contrary, Cotton Mather, writing a
year after the Salem Tragedy, almost chuckles over it: "In the
whole--the Devil got just nothing--but God got praises. Christ got
subjects, the Holy Spirit got temples, the church got addition, and the
souls of men got everlasting benefits."--_Calef_, 12.

Stoughton remained nearly the whole time, until his death, in May, 1702,
in control of affairs. By his influence over the Government and that of
the Mathers over the Clergy, nothing was done to remove the dark stigma
from the honor of the Province, and no seasonable or adequate reparation
ever made for the Great Wrong.

I am additionally indebted to the kindness of Dr. Moore for the
following extracts from a Sermon to the General Assembly, delivered by
Cotton Mather, in 1709, intitled "_Theopolis Americana_. Pure Gold in
the market place."

"In two or three too Memorable _Days of Temptation_, that have been upon
us, there have been _Errors_ Committed. You are always ready to Declare
unto all the World, 'That you disapprove those Errors.' You are willing
to inform all mankind with your _Declarations_.

"That no man may be Persecuted, because he is Conscienciously not of the
same Religious Opinions, with those that are uppermost.

"And; That Persons are not to be judged Confederates with Evil Spirits,
merely because the Evil Spirits do make Possessed People cry out upon

"Could any thing be Proposed further, by way of Reparation, [Besides the
General Day of Humiliation, which was appointed and observed thro' the
Province, to bewayl the Errors of our Dark time, some years ago:] You
would be willing to hearken to it."

The suggestion thus made, not, it must be confessed, in very urgent
terms, did not, it is probable, produce much impression. The preacher
seemed to rest upon the Proclamation issued by Stoughton, some eleven
years before. Coupling the two errors specified together, was not
calculated to give effect to the recommendation. Public opinion was not,
then, prepared to second such enlightened views as to religious liberty.

It is very noticeable that Mather here must be considered as admitting
that "in the Dark time," persons were judged "Confederates with Evil
Spirits," "merely" because of Spectral Evidence.

All that was said, on this occasion, does not amount to any thing, as an
expression of _personal_ opinion or feeling, relating to points on which
Hale and Higginson uttered their deep sensibility, and Wigglesworth had
addressed to the Mathers and other Ministers, his solemn and searching
appeal. The duty of reparation for the great wrong was thrown off upon
others, than those particularly and prominently responsible.

Nothing has led me to suppose that Cotton Mather was cruel or heartless,
in his natural or habitual disposition. He never had the wisdom or
dignity to acknowledge, as an individual, or _as one of the Clergy_, or
to propose specific reparation for, the fearful mischiefs, sufferings
and horrors growing out of the witchcraft prosecutions. The extent to
which he was at the time, and probably always continued to be, the
victim of baleful superstitions, is his only apology, and we must allow
it just weight.

A striking instance of the occasional ascendency of his better feelings,
and of the singular methods in which he was accustomed to act, is
presented in the following extract from his Diary, at a late period of
his life. We may receive it as an indication that he was not insensible
of his obligation to do good, where, with his participation, so much
evil had been done: "There is a town in this country, namely, Salem,
which has many poor and bad people in it, and such as are especially
scandalous for staying at home on the Lord's day. I wrapped up seven
distinct parcels of money and annexed seven little books about
repentance, and seven of the monitory letter against profane absence
from the house of God. I sent those things with a nameless letter unto
the Minister of that Town, and desired and empowered him to dispense the
charity in his own name, hoping thereby the more to ingratiate his
ministry with the people. Who can tell how far the good Angels of Heaven
cooperate in those proceeding?"



It was the common opinion in England, that the Mathers, particularly the
younger, were pre-eminently responsible for the proceedings at Salem, in
1692. Francis Hutchinson, in the work from which I have quoted, speaks
of the whole system of witchcraft doctrine, as "fantastic notions,"
which are "so far from raising their sickly visions into legal evidence,
that they are grounded upon the very dregs of Pagan and Popish
superstitions, and leave the lives of innocent men naked, without
defence against them;" and in giving a list of books, written for
upholding them, mentions, "Mr. Increase and Mr. Cotton Mather's several
tracts;" and, in his Chapter on Witchcraft in Massachusetts, in 1692,
commends the book of "Mr. Calef, a Merchant in that Plantation."

About the same time, the Rev. Daniel Neal, the celebrated author of the
_History of the Puritans_, wrote a _History of New England_, in which he
gives place to a brief, impartial, and just account of the witchcraft
proceedings, in 1692. He abstains from personal criticisms, but
expresses this general sentiment: "Strange were the mistakes that some
of the wisest and best men of the country committed on this occasion;
which must have been fatal to the whole Province, if God, in his
Providence, had not mercifully interposed." The only sentence that
contains a stricture on Cotton Mather, particularly, is that in which he
thus refers to his statement that a certain confession was _freely_
made. Neal quietly suggests, "whether the act of a man in prison, and
under apprehension of death, may be called free, I leave others to
judge." Dr. Isaac Watts, having read Neal's book, thought it necessary
to write a letter to Cotton Mather, dated February 10, 1720;
(_Massachusetts Historical Collections, I., v., 200_) and, describing a
conversation he had just been having with Neal, says: "There is another
thing, wherein my brother is solicitous lest he should have displeased
you, and that is, the Chapter on Witchcraft, but, as he related matters
of fact, by comparison of several authors, he hopes that you will
forgive that he has not fallen into your sentiments exactly." The
anxiety felt by Neal and Watts, lest the feelings of Mather might be
wounded, shows what they thought of his implication with the affair.
This inference is rendered unavoidable, when we examine Neal's book and
find that he quotes or refers to Calef, all along, without the slightest
question as to his credibility, receiving his statements and fully
recognizing his authority. Indeed, his references to Calef are about ten
to one oftener than to Mather. The attempt of Neal and Watts to smooth
the matter down, by saying that the former had been led to his
conclusions by "a comparison of several authors," could have given
little satisfaction to Mather, as the authors whom he chiefly refers to,
are Calef and Mather; and, comparing them with each other, he followed

The impression thus held in England, even by Mather's friends and
correspondents, that he was unpleasantly connected with the Witchcraft
of 1692, has been uniformly experienced, on both sides of the water,
until this Reviewer's attempt to erase it from the minds of men.

Thomas Hutchinson was born in 1711, and brought up in the neighborhood
of the Mathers; finishing his collegiate course and taking his
Bachelor's degree at Harvard College, in 1727, a year before the death
of Cotton Mather. He had opportunities to form a correct judgment about
Salem Witchcraft and the chief actor in the proceedings, greater than
any man of his day; but his close family connection with the Mathers
imposed some restraint upon his expressions; not enough, however, to
justify the statement of the Reviewer that he does not mention the
"agency" of Cotton Mather in that transaction. There are several very
distinct references to Mather's "agency," in Hutchinson's account of the
transactions connected with Salem Witchcraft, some of which I have
cited. I ask to whom does the following passage refer?--_ii., 63._--"One
of the Ministers, who, in the time of it, was fully convinced that the
complaining persons were no impostors, and who vindicated his own
conduct and that of the Court, in a Narrative he published, remarks, not
long after, in his Diary, that many were of opinion that innocent blood
had been shed."

This shows that Hutchinson regarded Cotton Mather's agency in the light
in which I have represented it; that he considered him as wholly
committed to the then prevalent delusion; as acting a part that
identified him with the prosecutions; and that the Narrative he
published was a joint vindication of himself and the Court. Hutchinson
fastens the passage upon Mather, by the reference to the Diary; and
while he says that it contained a statement, that many believed the
persons who suffered innocent, he avoids saying that such was the
opinion of the author of the Diary.

Finally, his taking particular pains to do it, by giving a Note to the
purpose of expressing his confidence in Calef, pronouncing him a "fair
relator"--_ii., 56_--proves that Governor Hutchinson held the opinion
about Mather's "agency," which has always heretofore been ascribed to

William Bentley, D.D., was born in Boston, and for a large part of the
first half of his life resided, as his family had done for a long
period, in the North part of that Town. He was of a turn of mind to
gather all local traditions, and, through all his days, devoted to
antiquarian pursuits. No one of his period paid more attention to the
subject of the witchcraft delusion. For much of our information
concerning it, we are indebted to his _History and Description of
Salem_, printed in 1800--_Massachusetts Historical Collections, I.,
vi._--After relating many of its incidents, he breaks forth in
condemnation of those who, disapproving, at the time, of the
proceedings, did not come out and denounce them. Holding the opinion,
which had come down from the beginning, that Increase Mather disapproved
of the transaction, he indignantly repudiates the idea of giving him any
credit therefor. "Increase Mather did not oppose Cotton Mather"--this is
the utterance of a received, and, to him, unquestioned, opinion that
Cotton Mather approved of, and was a leading agent in, the prosecutions.

The views of Dr. John Eliot, are freely given, to the same effect, in
his _Biographical Dictionary_, as will presently be shown.

The late Josiah Quincy had studied the annals of Massachusetts with the
thoroughness with which he grappled every subject to which he turned his
thoughts. His ancestral associations covered the whole period of its
history; and all the channels of the local traditions of Boston were
open to his enquiring and earnest mind. His _History of Harvard
University_ is a monument that will stand forever. In that work, he
speaks of the agreement of Stoughton's views with those of the Mathers;
and, in connection with the witchcraft delusion, says that both of them
"had an efficient agency in producing and prolonging that excitement."
"The conduct of Increase Mather, in relation to it, was marked with
caution and political skill; but that of his son, Cotton Mather, was
headlong, zealous, and fearless, both as to character and consequences.
In its commencement and progress, his activity is every-where

The Reviewer represents Mr. Quincy as merely repeating what I had said
in my Lectures. He makes the same reckless assertion in reference to
Bancroft, the late William B. O. Peabody, D.D., and every one else, who
has written upon the subject, since 1831. The idea that Josiah Quincy
"took his cue" from me, is simply preposterous. He does not refer to me,
nor give any indication that he had ever seen my _Lectures_, but cites
Calef, as his authority, over and over again. Dr. Peabody refers to
Calef throughout, and draws upon him freely and with confidence, as
every one else, who has written about the transaction, has probably

It may safely be said, that no historical fact has ever been more
steadily recognized, than the action and, to a great degree, controlling
agency, of Cotton Mather, in supporting and promoting the witchcraft
proceedings of 1692. That it has, all along, been the established
conviction of the public mind, is proved by the chronological series of
names I have produced. Thomas Hutchinson, John Eliot, William Bentley,
and Josiah Quincy, cover the whole period from Cotton Mather's day to
this. They knew, as well as any other men that can be named, the current
opinions, transmitted sentiments, and local and personal annals, of
Boston. They reflect with certainty an assurance, running in an unbroken
course over a century and a half. Their family connections, social
position, conversance with events, and familiar knowledge of what men
thought, believed, and talked about, give to their concurrent and
continuous testimony, a force and weight of authority that are decisive;
and demonstrate that, instead of my having invented and originated the
opinion of Cotton Mather's agency in the matter now under consideration,
I have done no more than to restate what has been believed and uttered
from the beginning.

The writer in the _North American_ says: "Within the last forty years,
there has grown up a fashion, among our historical writers, of defaming
his character and underrating his productions. For a specimen of these
attacks, the reader is referred to a _Supposed Letter from Rev. Cotton
Mather, D.D., with comments on the same by James Savage_." The article
mentioned consists of the "supposed letter," and a very valuable
communication from the late Rev. Samuel Sewall, with some items by Mr.
Savage--[_Massachusetts Historical Collections, IV., ii., 122._] Neither
of these enlightened, faithful, and indefatigable scholars is to be
disposed of in this style. They followed no "fashion;" and their
venerable names are held in honor by all true disciples of antiquarian
and genealogical learning. The author of such works, in this department,
as Mr. Savage has produced, cannot be thus set aside by a magisterial
and supercilious waving of the hand of this Reviewer.



The Reviewer takes exception to my statement, that the connection of the
Mathers with the witchcraft business, "broke down" their influence in
public affairs. What are the facts? It has been shown, that the
administration of Sir William Phips, at its opening, was under their
control, to an extent never equalled by that of private men over a
Government. The prayers of Cotton Mather were fully answered; and if
wise and cautious counsels had been given, what both father and son had
so coveted, in the political management of the Province, would have been
permanently realized. But, aiming to arm themselves with terrific and
overwhelming strength, by invoking the cooperation of forces from the
spiritual, invisible, and diabolical world, with rash "precipitancy,"
they hurried on the witchcraft prosecutions. The consequence was, that
in six months, the whole machinery on which they had placed their
reliance was prostrate. At the very next election, Elisha Cook was
chosen and Nathaniel Saltonstall rechosen, to the Council; and, ever
after, the Mathers were driven to the wall, in desperate and unavailing

No party or faction could claim the Earl of Bellamont, during his brief
administration, covering but fourteen months. Although the only nobleman
ever sent over as Governor of Massachusetts, more than all others, he
conciliated the general good will. His short term of office and wise
policy prevented any particular advantage to the Mathers from the
dedication to him of the _Life of Phips_. During the entire period,
between 1692 and the arrival of Dudley to the Government, the opponents
of the Mathers were steadily increasing their strength. Opposition to
Increase Mather was soon developed in attempts to remove him from the
Presidency of Harvard College. In 1701, an Order was passed by the
General Court, "that no man should act as President of the College, who
did not reside at Cambridge." This decided the matter. Increase Mather
resigned, on the sixth of September following; and, the same day, the
Rev. Samuel Willard took charge of the College, under the title of
Vice-president, and acted as President, to the acceptance of the people
and with the support of the Government of the Province, to his death, in
1707--all the while allowed to retain the pastoral connection with his
Church, in Boston.

Joseph Dudley arrived from England, on the eleventh of June, 1702, with
his Commission, as Captain-general and Governor of the Province. On the
sixteenth, he made a call upon Cotton Mather, who relates the interview
in his Diary. It seems that Mather made quite a speech to the new
Governor, urging him "to carry an indifferent hand toward all parties,"
and explaining his meaning thus: "By no means, let any people have cause
to say that you take all your measures from the two Mr. Mathers." He
then added: "By the same rule, I may say without offence, by no means
let any people say that you go by no measures in your conduct but Mr.
Byfield's and Mr. Leverett's. This I speak, not from any personal
prejudice against the gentlemen, but from a due consideration of the
disposition of the people, and as a service to your Excellency."

Dudley--whether judging rightly or not is to be determined by taking
into view his position, the then state of parties, and the principles of
human nature--evidently regarded this as a trap. If he had followed the
advice, and kept aloof from Byfield and Leverett, they would have been
placed at a distance from him, and he would necessarily have fallen into
the hands of the Mathers. He may have thought that the only way to avoid
such a result, was for him to explain to those gentlemen his avoidance
of them, by mentioning to them what Mather had said to him, thereby
signifying to them, that, as a matter of policy, he thought it best to
adopt the suggestion and stand aloof from both sides. Whether acting
from this consideration or from resentment, he informed them of it;
whereupon Mather inserted this in his Diary: "The WRETCH went unto those
men and told them that I had advised him to be no ways directed by them,
and inflamed them into implacable rage against me."

After this, the relations between Dudley and the Mathers must have been
sufficiently awkward and uncomfortable; but no particular public
demonstrations appear to have been made, on either side, for some time.

Mr. Willard died on the twelfth of September, 1707; and the great
question again rose as to the proper person to be called to the head of
the College. The extraordinary learning of Cotton Mather undoubtedly
gave him commanding and pre-eminent claims in the public estimation; and
he had reason to think that the favorite object of his ambition was
about to be attained. But he was doomed to bitter disappointment. On the
twenty-eighth of October, the Corporation, through its senior member,
the Rev. James Allen of Boston, communicated to the Governor the vote of
that body, appointing the "Honorable John Leverett" to the Presidency;
and, on the fourteenth of January, 1708, he was publicly inducted to
office. The Mathers could stand it no longer; but, six days after,
addressed, each, a letter to Dudley, couched in the bitterest and most
abusive terms.--[_Massachusetts Historical Society's Collections, I.,
iii., 126._] No explosions of disappointed politicians and defeated
aspirants for office, in our day, surpass these letters. They show how
deeply the writers were stung. They heap maledictions on the Governor,
without any of the restraints of courtesy or propriety. They charge him
with all sorts of malversation in office, bribery, peculation,
extortion, falseness, hypocrisy, and even murder; imputing to him "the
guilt of innocent blood," because, many years before, he had, as
Chief-justice of New York, presided at the Trial of Leisler and Milburn;
and averring that "those men were not only murdered, but barbarously

It is observable that some of the heinous crimes charged upon Dudley,
occurred before his arrival as Governor of Massachusetts, in 1702; and
that, in these very letters, they remind him that it was, in part, by
their influence that he was then appointed, and that a letter from
Cotton Mather, in favor of his appointment, was read before "the late
King William." Both the Mathers were remarkable for a lack of vision, in
reference to the logical bearing of what they said. It did not occur to
them, that the fact of their soliciting his appointment closed their
mouths from making charges for public acts well known to them at the

Dudley says that he was assured by the Mathers, on his arrival, that he
had the favor of all good men; and Cotton Mather, in his letter, reminds
him that he signalized his friendly feelings, by giving to the public,
on that occasion, the "portraiture of a good man." It is proved,
therefore, by the evidence on both sides, that, well knowing all about
the Leisler affair and other crimes alleged against him, they were
ready, and most desirous, to secure his favor and friendship; and to
identify themselves with his administration.

In alluding to these letters, Hutchinson (_History, ii., 194_,) says:
"In times when party spirit prevails, what will not a Governor's enemies
believe, however injurious and absurd? At such a time, he was charged
with dispensing _summum jus_ to Leisler and incurring an aggravated
guilt of blood beyond that of a common murderer. The other party, no
doubt, would have charged the failure of justice upon him, if Leisler
had been acquitted."

Dudley replied to both these extraordinary missives, in a letter dated
the third of February, 1708. After rebuking, in stern and dignified
language, the tone and style of their letters, reminding them, by apt
citations from Scripture of the "laws of wise and Christian reproof,"
which they had violated, and showing upon what false foundations their
charges rested, he says: "Can you think it the most proper season to do
me good by your admonitions, when you have taken care to let the world
know you are out of frame and filled with the last prejudice against my
person and Government?" "Every one can see through the pretence, and is
able to account for the spring of these letters, and how they would have
been prevented, without easing any grievances you complain of." He makes
the following proposal: "After all, though I have reason to complain to
heaven and earth of your unchristian rashness, and wrath, and injustice,
I would yet maintain a christian temper towards you. I do, therefore,
now assure you that I shall be ready to give you all the satisfaction
Christianity requires, in those points which are proper for you to seek
to receive it in, when, with a proper temper and spirit, giving me
timely notice, you do see meet to make me a visit for that end; and I
expect the same satisfaction from you." He offers this significant
suggestion: "I desire you will keep your station, and let fifty or sixty
good Ministers, your equals in the Province, have a share in the
Government of the College and advise thereabouts, as well as yourselves,
and I hope all will be well." He concludes by claiming that he is
sustained by the favor of the "Ministers of New England;" and
characterises the issue between him and them thus: "The College must be
disposed against the opinion of all the Ministers in New England, except
yourselves, or the Governor torn in pieces. This is the view I have of
your inclination."

Dudley continued to administer the Government for eight years longer,
until the infirmities of age compelled him to retire. Both Hutchinson
and Doctor John Eliot give us to understand that he conducted the
public affairs with great ability and success, with the general approval
of all classes, and particularly of the Clergy. His statement that he
had the support of all the Ministers of New England, except the Mathers,
was undoubtedly correct. It is certainly true of the Ministers of
Boston. In his Diary, under the year 1709, Cotton Mather says: "The
other Ministers of the Town are this day feasting with our wicked
Governor. I have, by my provoking plainness and freedom, in telling this
Ahab of his wickedness, procured myself to be left out of his
invitations. I rejoiced in my liberty from the temptations wherewith
they were encumbered." He set apart that day for fasting and prayer, the
special interest of which, he says, "was to obtain deliverance and
protection" from his "enemies," whose names, he informs us, he
"mentioned unto the Lord, who had promised to be my shield."

The bitterness with which Mather felt exclusion from power is strikingly
illustrated in a letter addressed by him to Stephen Sewall, published by
me in the Appendix to the edition of my _Lectures_, printed in 1831. I
subjoin a few extracts: "A couple of malignant fellows, a while since,
railing at me in the Bookseller's shop, among other things they said,
'and his friend Noyes has cast him off,' at which they set up a
laughter." "No doubt, you understand, how ridiculously things have been
managed in our late General Assembly; voting and unvoting, the same day;
and, at last, the squirrels perpetually running into the mouth open for
them, though they had cried against it wonderfully. And your neighbor,
Sowgelder, after his indefatigable pains at the castration of all common
honesty, rewarded, before the Court broke up, with being made one of
your brother Justices; which the whole House, as well as the apostate
himself, had in view, all along, as the expected wages of his iniquity."
"If things continue in the present administration, there will shortly be
not so much as a shadow of justice left in the country. Bribery, a crime
capital among the Pagans, is already a peccadillo among us. All officers
are learning it. And, if I should say, Judges will find the way to it,
some will say, there needs not the future tense in the case." "Every
thing is betrayed, and that we, on the top of our house, may complete
all, our very religion, with all the Churches, is at last betrayed--the
treachery carried on with lies, and fallacious representations, and
finished by the rash hands of our Clergy."

That Cotton Mather continued all his subsequent life to experience the
dissatisfaction, and give way to the feelings, of a disappointed man,
is evident from his Diary. I have quoted from it a few passages. The
Reviewer says it "is full of penitential confessions," and seems to
liken him, in this respect, to the Apostle of the Gentiles. Speaking of
my having cited the Diary, as historical evidence, he says: "Such a use
of the confessional, we believe, is not common with historical writers."
I do not remember anything like "penitential confessions," in the
passages from the Diary given in my book. The reader is referred to
them, in Volume II., Page 503. They belong to the year 1724, and are
thus prefaced:


"It may be of some use to me, to observe some very dark dispensations,
wherein the recompense of my poor essays at well-doing, in this life,
seem to look a little discouraging; and then to express the triumph of
my faith over such and all discouragements." "Of the things that look
dark, I may touch of twice seven instances."

The writer, in the _Christian Examiner_, November, 1831, from whom I
took them, omitted two, "on account of their too personal or domestic

I cannot find the slightest trace of a penitential tear on those I have
quoted; and cite now but one of them, as pertinent to the point I am
making: "What has a gracious Lord given me to do for the good of the
country? in applications without number for it, in all its interests,
besides publications of things useful to it, and for it. And, yet, there
is no man whom the country so loads with disrespect, and calumnies, and
manifold expressions of aversion."

This is a specimen of the whole of them--one half recounting what he had
done, the other complaining, sometimes almost scolding, at the poor
requital he had received.

President Leverett died on the third of May, 1724. His death was
lamented by the country; and the most eminent men vied with each other
in doing honor to his memory. The Rev. Benjamin Colman called him "our
master," and pronounced his life as "great and good." "The young men saw
him and hid themselves, and the aged arose and stood up." Dr. Appleton
declared that he had been "an honored ornament to his country. Verily,
the breach is so wide, that none but an all-sufficient God (with whom is
the residue of the Spirit) can repair or heal it." The late Benjamin
Peirce, in his _History of Harvard University_, says that "his
Presidency was successful and brilliant." He was honored abroad, as well
as at home; and his name is inscribed on the rolls of the Royal Society
of London. Mr. Peirce says: "He had a great and generous soul." His
natural abilities were of a very high order. His attainments were
profound and extensive. He was well acquainted with the learned
languages, with the arts and "sciences, with history, philosophy, law,
divinity, politics." Such, we are told, were "the majesty and marks of
greatness, in his speech, his behaviour, and his very countenance," that
the students of the College were inspired with reverence and affection.
In his earlier and later life, he had been connected with the College,
as Tutor and as President; and in the intermediate period, he had filled
the highest legislative and judicial stations, and been intrusted with
the most important functions connected with the military service. I am
inclined to think, all things considered, a claim, in his behalf, might
be put in for the distinction the Reviewer awards to Cotton Mather, as
"doubtless the most brilliant man of his day in New England."

President Leverett was buried on the sixth of May. Cotton Mather
officiated as one of the Pall-bearers, and then went home, and made the
following entry in his Diary, dated the seventh: "The sudden death of
that unhappy man who sustained the place of President in our College,
will open a door for my doing singular services in the best of
interests. I do not know that the care of the College will now be cast
upon me; though I am told it is what is most generally wished for. If it
should be, I shall be in abundance of distress about it; but, if it
should not, yet I may do many things for the good of the College more
quietly and more hopefully than formerly."

As time wore away, and no choice of President was made, he became more
and more sensible that an influence, hostile to him, was in the
ascendency; and, on the first of July, he writes thus, in his Diary:
"This day being our insipid, ill-contrived anniversary, which we call
Commencement, I chose to spend it at home, in supplications, partly on
the behalf of the College, that it may not be foolishly thrown away, but
that God may bestow such a President upon it, as may prove a rich
blessing unto it and unto all our Churches."

In the meanwhile, he renewed his attendance at the meetings of the
Overseers; having never occupied his seat, in that Body, with the
exception of a single Session, during the whole period of Leverett's
presidency. The Board, at a meeting he attended, on the sixth of August,
1724, passed a vote advising and directing the speedy election of a
President. On the eleventh, the Corporation chose the Rev. Joseph Sewall
of the Old South Church; and Mather records the event in his Diary, as
follows: "I am informed that, yesterday, the six men, who call
themselves the Corporation of the College, met, and, contrary to the
epidemical expectation of the country, chose a modest young man, Sewall,
of whose piety (and little else) every one gives a laudable character."

"I always foretold these two things of the Corporation: First, that, if
it were possible for them to steer clear of me, they will do so.
Secondly, that, if it were possible for them to act foolishly, they will
do so. The perpetual envy with which my essays to serve the kingdom of
God are treated among them, and the dread that Satan has of my beating
up his quarters at the College, led me into the former sentiment; the
marvellous indiscretion, with which the affairs of the College are
managed, led me into the latter."

Mr. Sewall declined the appointment. On the eighteenth of November, the
Rev. Benjamin Colman, of the Brattle-street Church, was chosen. He also
declining, the Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth, of the First Church, was
elected, in June, 1725, and inaugurated on the seventh of July.

It thus appears that Dr. Mather was pointedly passed over; and every
other Minister of Boston successively chosen to that great office.

Of course he took, as Mr. Peirce informs us, no further part in the
management of the College. While he considered, as he expressed it, the
"senselessness" of those entrusted with its affairs, as threatening
"little short of a dissolution of the College," yet he persuaded himself
that he had never desired the office. He had, he says, "unspeakable
cause to admire the compassion of Heaven, in saving him from the
appointment;" and that he had always had a "dread of what the generality
of sober men" thought he desired--"dismal apprehension of the distresses
which a call at Cambridge would bring" upon him.--He was sincere in
those declarations, no doubt; but they show how completely he could
blind himself to the past and even to the actual present. Mr. Peirce
explains why the Corporation were so resolute in withholding their
suffrages from Mather: "His contemporaries appear to have formed a very
correct estimate of his character." "They saw, what posterity sees, that
he was a man of wonderful parts, of immense learning, and of eminent
piety and virtue." "They saw his weakness and eccentricities." "It is
evident that his judgment was not equal to his other faculties; that his
passions, which were naturally strong and violent, were not always under
proper regulation; that he was weak, credulous, enthusiastic, and
superstitious. His conversation is said to have been instructive and
entertaining, in a high degree, though often marred by levity, vanity,
imprudence and puns." For these reasons, he was deemed an unsuitable
person for the Presidency of the College.



While compelled--by the attempt of the writer in the _North American
Review_ to reverse the just verdict of history in reference to Cotton
Mather's connection with Salem Witchcraft--to show the unhappy part he
acted and the terrible responsibility he incurred, in bringing forward,
and carrying through its stages, that awful tragedy, and the unworthy
means he used to throw that responsibility, afterwards, on others, I am
not to be misled into a false position, in reference to this
extraordinary man. I endorse the language of Mr. Peirce: "He possessed
great vigor and activity of mind, quickness of apprehension, a lively
imagination, a prodigious memory, uncommon facility in acquiring and
communicating knowledge, with the most indefatigable application and
industry; that he amassed an immense store of information on all
subjects, human and divine." I follow Mr. Peirce still further, in
believing that his natural temperament was pleasant and his sentiments
of a benevolent cast: "that he was an habitual promoter and doer of
good, is evident, as well from his writings as from the various accounts
that have been transmitted respecting him."

If the question is asked, as it naturally will be, how these admissions
can be reconciled with the views and statements respecting him,
contained in this article and in my book on witchcraft, the answer is:
that mankind is not divided into two absolutely distinct and entirely
separated portions--one good and the other evil. The good are liable to,
and the bad are capable of, each receiving much into their own lives and
characters, that belongs to the other. This interfusion universally
occurs. The great errors and the great wrongs imputable to Cotton Mather
do not make it impracticable to discern what was commendable in him.
They may be accounted for without throwing him out of the pale of
humanity or our having to shut our eyes to traits and merits other ways

The extraordinary precocity of his intellect--itself always a peril,
often a life-long misfortune--awakened vanity and subjected him to the
flattery by which it is fed. All ancestral associations and family
influences pampered it. Such a speech as that made to him, at his
graduation, by President Oakes, could not have failed to have inflated
it to exaggerated dimensions. Clerical and political ambition was
natural, all but instinctive, to one, whose father, and both whose
grandfathers, had been powers, in the State as well as Church. The
religious ideas, if they can be so called, in which he had been trained
from childhood, in a form bearing upon him with more weight than upon
any other person in all history, inasmuch, as they constituted the
prominent feature of his father's reading, talk, thoughts, and writings,
gave a rapid and overshadowing growth to credulity and superstition. A
defect in his education, perhaps, in part, a natural defect, left him
without any true logical culture, so that he seems, in his productions
and conduct, not to discern the sequences of statements, the coherence
of propositions, nor the consistency of actions, thereby entangling him
in expressions and declarations that have the aspect of
untruthfulness--his language often actually bearing that character,
without his discerning it. His writings present many instances of this
infirmity. Some have already been incidentally adduced. In his _Life of
Phips_, avowing himself the author of the document known as the _Advice
of the Ministers_, he uses this language: "By Mr. Mather the younger, as
I have been informed." He had, in fact, never been _so informed_. He
knew it by consciousness. Of course he had no thought of deceiving; but
merely followed a habit he had got, of such modes of expression. So,
also, when he sent a present of money and tracts to "poor and bad
people," in Salem, with an anonymous letter to the Minister of the
place, "desiring and empowering him to dispense the charity, _in his own
name_, hoping thereby the _more to ingratiate his ministry with the
people_," he looked only on one side of the proposal, and saw it in no
other light than a benevolent and friendly transaction. It never
occurred to him that he was suggesting a deceptive procedure and drawing
the Minister into a false position and practice.

When, in addition, we consider to what he was exposed by his proclivity
to, and aspirations for, political power, the expedients, schemes,
contrivances, and appliances, in which he thereby became involved in the
then state of things in the Colony, and the connection which leading
Ministers, although not admitted to what are strictly speaking political
offices, had with the course of public affairs--his father, to an extent
never equalled by any other Clergyman, before or since--we begin to
estimate the influences that disastrously swayed the mind of Cotton

Vanity, flattery, credulity, want of logical discernment, and the
struggles between political factions, in the unsettled, uncertain,
transition period, between the old and new Charters, are enough to
account for much that was wrong, in one of Mather's temperament and
passions, without questioning his real mental qualities, or, I am
disposed to think, his conscious integrity, or the sincerity of his
religious experiences or professions.

But his chief apology, after all, is to be found in the same sphere in
which his chief offences were committed. Certain topics and notions, in
reference to the invisible, spiritual, and diabolical world, whether of
reality or fancy it matters not, had, all his life long, been the
ordinary diet, the daily bread, of his mind.

It may, perhaps, be said with truth, that the theological imagery and
speculations of that day, particularly as developed in the writings of
the two Mathers, were more adapted to mislead the mind and shroud its
moral sense in darkness, than any system, even of mythology, that ever
existed. It was a mythology. It may be spoken of with freedom, now, as
it has probably passed away, in all enlightened communities in
Christendom. Satan was the great central character, in what was, in
reality, a Pantheon. He was surrounded with hosts of infernal spirits,
disembodied and embodied, invisible demons, and confederate human
agents. He was seen in everything, everywhere. His steps were traced in
extraordinary occurrences and in the ordinary operations of nature. He
was hovering over the heads of all, and lying in wait along every daily
path. The affrighted imagination, in every scene and mode of life, was
conversant with ghosts, apparitions, spectres, devils. This prevalent,
all but universal, exercise of credulous fancy, exalted into the most
imposing dignity of theology and faith, must have had a demoralizing
effect upon the rational condition and faculties of men, and upon all
discrimination and healthfulness of thought. When error, in its most
extravagant forms, had driven the simplicity of the Gospel out of the
Church and the world, it is not to be wondered at that the mind was led
to the most shocking perversions, and the conscience ensnared to the
most indefensible actions.

The superstition of that day was foreshadowed in the ferocious cannibal
of classic mythology--a monster, horrific, hideous in mien, and gigantic
in stature. It involved the same fate. The eye of the intellect was
burned out, the light of reason extinguished--_cui lumen ademptum_.

Having always given himself up to the contemplation of diabolical
imaginations, Cotton Mather was led to take the part he did, in the
witchcraft proceedings; and it cannot be hidden from the light of
history. The greater his talents, the more earnestly he may, in other
matters, have aimed to be useful, the more weighty is the lesson his
course teaches, of the baleful effects of bewildering and darkening

There is another, and a special, explanation to be given of the
disingenuousness that appears in his writings. He was a master of
language. He could express, with marvelous facility, any shade of
thought. He could also make language conceal thought. No one ever
handled words with more adroitness. He could mould them to suit his
purposes, at will, and with ease. This faculty was called in requisition
by the special circumstances of his times. It was necessary to
preserve, at least, the appearance of unity among the Churches, while
there was as great a tendency, then, as ever, to diversity of
speculations, touching points of casuistical divinity or ministerial
policy. The talent to express in formulas, sentiments that really
differed, so as to obscure the difference, was needed; and he had it. He
knew how to frame a document that would suit both sides, but, in effect,
answer the purposes of one of them, as in the _Advice of the Ministers_.
He could assert a proposition and connect with it what appeared to be
only a judicious modification or amplification, but which, in reality,
was susceptible of being interpreted as either more or less
corroborating or contradicting it, as occasion might require. This was a
sort of sleight of hand, in the use of words; and was noticed, at the
time, as "legerdemain." He practised it so long that it became a feature
of his style; and he actually, in this way, deceived himself as well as
others. It is a danger to which ingenious and hair-splitting writers are
liable. I am inclined to think that what we cannot but regard as patent
misstatements, were felt by him to be all right, in consequence, as just
intimated, of this acquired habit.

His style is sprightly, and often entertaining. Neal, the author of the
_History of the Puritans_, in a letter to the Rev. Benjamin Colman,
after speaking with commendation of one of Cotton Mather's productions,
says: "It were only to be wished that it had been freed from those puns
and jingles that attend all his writings, before it had been made
public."--_Massachusetts Historical Collections, I., v., 199._--Mr.
Peirce, it has been observed, speaks of his "puns," in conversation. It
is not certain, but that, to a reader now, these very things constitute
a redeeming attraction of his writings and relieve the mind of the
unpleasant effects of his credulity and vanity, pedantic and often
far-fetched references, palpable absurdities, and, sometimes, the
repulsiveness of his topics and matter.

The Reviewer represents me as prejudiced against Cotton Mather. Far from
it. Forty-three years ago, before my attention had been particularly
called to his connection with alleged witchcrafts or with the political
affairs of his times, I eulogized his "learning and liberality," in warm
terms.--_Sermon at the Dedication of the House of Worship of the First
Church, in Salem, Massachusetts, 48._

I do not retract what I then said. Cotton Mather was in advance of his
times, in liberality of feeling, in reference to sectarian and
denominational matters. He was, undoubtedly, a great student, and had
read all that an American scholar could then lay his hands on.
Marvellous stories were told of the rapidity of his reading. He was a
devourer of books. At the same time, I vindicated him, without reserve,
from the charge of pedantry. This I cannot do now. Observation and
reflection have modified my views. He made a display, over all his
pages, of references and quotations from authors then, as now, rarely
read, and of anecdotes, biographical incidents, and critical comments
relating to scholars and eminent persons, of whom others have but little
information, and of many of whom but few have ever heard. This filled
his contemporaries with wonder; led to most extravagant statements, in
funeral discourses, by Benjamin Colman, Joshua Gee, and others; and made
the general impression that has come down to our day. Without detracting
from his learning, which was truly great, it cannot be denied that this
superfluous display of it subjects him, justly to the imputation of
pedantry. It may be affected where, unlike the case of Cotton Mather,
there is, in reality, no very extraordinary amount of learning. It is a
trick of authorship easily practised.

Any one reading Latin with facility, having a good memory, and keeping a
well-arranged scrap-book, needs less than half a dozen such books as the
following, to make a show of learning and to astonish the world by his
references and citations--the six folio volumes of Petavius, on Dogmatic
Theology, and his smaller work, _Rationarium Temporum_, a sort of
compendium or schedule of universal history; and a volume printed, in
the latter half of the seventeenth century, at Amsterdam, compiled by
Limborch, consisting of an extensive collection of letters to and from
the most eminent men of that and the preceding century, such as
Arminius, Vossius, Episcopius, Grotius, and many others, embracing a
vast variety of literary history, criticism, biography, theology,
philosophy, and ecclesiastical matters--I have before me the copy of
this work, owned by that prodigy of learning, Dr. Samuel Parr, who
pronounced it "a precious book;" and it may have contributed much to
give to his productions, that air of rare learning that astonished his
contemporaries. To complete the compendious apparatus, and give the
means of exhibiting any quantity of learning, in fields frequented by
few, the only other book needed is Melchior Adams's _Lives of Literati_,
including all most prominently connected with Divinity, Philosophy, and
the progress of learning and culture, during the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, and down to its date, 1615. I have before me, the copy of
this last work, owned by Richard Mather, and probably brought over with
him, in his perilous voyage, in 1635. It was, successively, in the
libraries of his son, Increase, and his grandson, Cotton Mather. At a
corner of one of the blank leaves, it is noted, apparently in the hand
of Increase Mather: "began Mar. 1, finished April 30, 1676." According
to the popular tradition, Cotton would have read it, in a day or two. It
contains interesting items of all sorts--personal anecdotes, critical
comments, and striking passages of the lives and writings of more than
one hundred and fifty distinguished men, such as Erasmus, Fabricius,
Faustus, Cranmer, Tremellius, Peter Martyr, Beza, and John Knox. Whether
Mather had access to either of the above-named works, except the last,
is uncertain; but, as his library was very extensive, he sparing no
pains nor expense in furnishing it, and these books were severally then
in print and precisely of the kind to attract him and suit his fancy, it
is not unlikely that he had them all. They would have placed in easy
reach, much of the mass of amazing erudition with which he "entertained"
his readers and hearers.

Cotton Mather died on the thirteenth of February, 1728, at the close of
his sixty-fifth year.

Thirty-six years had elapsed since the fatal imbroglio of Salem
witchcraft. He had probably long been convinced that it was vain to
attempt to shake the general conviction, expressed by Calef, that he had
been "the most active and forward of any Minister in the country in
those matters," and acquiesced in the general disposition to let that
matter rest. It must be pleasing to all, to think that his very last
years were freed from the influences that had destroyed the peace of his
life and left such a shade over his name. Having met with nothing but
disaster from attempting to manage the visible as well as the invisible
world, he probably left them both in the hands of Providence; and
experienced, as he had never done, a brief period of tranquillity,
before finally leaving the scene. His aspiration to control the Province
had ceased. The object of his life-long pursuit, the Presidency of the
College, was forever baffled. Nothing but mischief and misery to himself
and others had followed his attempt to lead the great combat against the
Devil and his hosts. It had fired his early zeal and ambition; but that
fire was extinguished. The two ties, which more than all others, had
bound him, by his good affections and his unhappy passions, to what was
going on around him, were severed, nearly at the same time, by the death
of his father, in 1723, and of his great and successful rival, Leverett,
in 1724. Severe domestic trials and bereavements completed the work of
weaning him from the world; and it is stated that, in his very last
years, the resentments of his life were buried and the ties of broken
friendships restored. The pleasantest intercourse took place between him
and Benjamin Colman; men of all parties sought his company and listened
to the conversation, which was always one of his shining gifts; he had
written kindly about Dudley; and his end was as peaceful as his whole
life would have been, but for the malign influences I have endeavored to
describe, leading him to the errors and wrongs which, while faithful
history records them, men must regard with considerate candor, as God
will with infinite mercy.

It is a curious circumstance, that the two great public funerals, in
those early times, of which we have any particular accounts left, were
of the men who, in life, had been so bitterly opposed to each other.
When Leverett was buried, the cavalcade, official bodies, students, and
people, "were fain to proceed near as far as Hastings' before they
returned," so great was the length of the procession: the funeral of
Mather was attended by the greatest concourse that had ever been
witnessed in Boston.



I approach the close of this protracted discussion with what has been
purposely reserved. The article in the _North American Review_ rests,
throughout, upon a repudiation of the authority of Robert Calef. Its
writer says, "his faculties appear to us to have been of an inferior
order." "He had a very feeble conception of what credible testimony is."
"If he had not intentionally lied, he had a very imperfect appreciation
of truth." He speaks of "Calef's disqualifications as a witness." He
seeks to discredit him, by suggesting the idea that, in his original
movements against Mather, he was instigated by pre-existing
enmity--"Robert Calef, between whom and Mr. Mather a personal quarrel
existed." "His personal enemy, Calef."

There is no evidence of any difficulty, nor of any thing that can be
called "enmity," between these two persons, prior to their dealings with
each other, in the Margaret Rule case, commencing on the thirteenth of
September, 1693. Mather himself states, in his Diary, that the enmity
between them arose out of Calef's opposition to his, Mather's, views
relating to the "existence and influences of the invisible world." So
far as we have any knowledge, their acquaintance began at the date just
mentioned. The suggestion of pre-existing enmity, therefore, gives an
unfair and unjust impression.

Robert Calef was a native of England, a young man, residing, first in
Roxbury, and afterwards at Boston. He was reputed a person of good
sense; and, from the manner in which Mather alludes to him, in one
instance, of considerable means: he had, probably, been prosperous in
his business, which was that of a merchant. Not a syllable is on record
against his character, outside of his controversy with the Mathers; all
that is known of him, on the contrary, indicates that he was an
honorable and excellent person. He enjoyed the confidence of the people;
and was called to municipal trusts, for which only reliable, discreet,
vigilant, and honest citizens were selected, receiving the thanks of the
Town for his services, as Overseer of the Poor. As he encountered the
madness and violence of the people, when they were led by Cotton Mather,
in the witchcraft delusion, it is a singular circumstance, constituting
an honorable distinction, in which they shared, that, in a later period
of their lives, they stood, shoulder to shoulder, breasting bravely
together, another storm of popular fanaticism, by publicly favoring
inoculation for the small-pox. He offered several of his children to be
treated, at the hands of Dr. Boylston, in 1721. His family continued to
bear up the respectability of the name, and is honorably mentioned in
the municipal records. A vessel, named _London_, was a regular
Packet-ship, between that port and Boston, and probably one of the
largest class then built in America. She was commanded by "Robert
Calef;" and, in the Boston _Evening Post_, of the second of May, 1774,
"Dr. Calef of Ipswich" is mentioned among the passengers just arrived in
her. Under his own, and other names, the descendants of the family of
Calef are probably as numerous and respectable as those of the Mathers;
and on that, as all other higher accounts, there is an equal demand for
justice to their respective ancestors.

It is related by Mather, that a young woman, named Margaret Rule,
belonging to the North part of Boston, "many months after the General
Storm of the late enchantments, was over," "when the country had long
lain pretty quiet," was "seized by the Evil Angels, both as to
molestations and accusations from the Invisible World". On the Lord's
Day, the tenth of September, 1693, "after some hours of previous
disturbance of the public assembly, she fell into odd fits," and had to
be taken out of the congregation and carried home, "where her fits, in a
few hours, grew into a figure that satisfied the spectators of their
being supernatural." He further says, that, "from the 10th of September
to the 18th, she kept an entire fast, and yet, she was to all appearance
as fresh, as lively, as hearty, at the nine days end, as before they
began. In all this time she had a very eager hunger upon her stomach,
yet if any refreshment were brought unto her, her teeth would be set,
and she would be thrown into many miseries. Indeed, once, or twice, or
so, in all this time, her tormentors permitted her to swallow a mouthful
of somewhat that might increase her miseries, whereof a spoonful of rum
was the most considerable."

The affair, of course, was noised abroad. It reached the ears of Robert
Calef. On the thirteenth, after sunset, accompanied by some others, he
went to the house, "drawn," as he says, "by curiosity to see Margaret
Rule, and so much the rather, because it was reported Mr. Mather would
be there, that night." They were taken into the chamber where she was in
bed. They found her of a healthy countenance. She was about seventeen
years of age. Increase and Cotton Mather came in, shortly afterwards,
with others. Altogether, there were between thirty and forty persons in
the room. Calef drew up Minutes of what was said and done. He repeated
his visit, on the evening of the nineteenth. Cotton Mather had been with
Margaret half an hour; and had gone before his arrival. Each night,
Calef made written minutes of what was said and done, the accuracy of
which was affirmed by the signatures of two persons, which they were
ready to confirm with their oaths. He showed them to some of Mather's
particular friends. Whereupon Mather preached about him; sent word that
he should have him arrested for slander; and called him "one of the
worst of liars." Calef wrote him a letter, on the twenty-ninth of
September; and, in reference to the complaints and charges Mather was
making, proposed that they should meet, in either of two places he
mentioned, each accompanied by a friend, at which time he, Calef, would
read to him the minutes he had taken, of what had occurred on the
evenings of the thirteenth and nineteenth. Mather sent a long letter,
not to be delivered, but read to him, in which he agreed to meet him, as
proposed, at one of the places; but, in the mean time, on the complaint
of the Mathers, for scandalous libels upon Cotton Mather, Calef was
brought before "their Majesties Justice, and bound over to answer at
Sessions." Mather, of course, failed to give him the meeting for
conference, as agreed upon. On the twenty-fourth of November, Calef
wrote to him again, referring to his failure to meet him and to the
legal proceedings he had instituted; and, as the time for appearance in
Court was drawing near, he "thought it not amiss to give a summary" of
his views on the "great concern," as to which they were at issue. He
states, at the outset, "that there are witches, is not the doubt." The
Reviewer seizes upon this expression, to convey the idea that Calef was
trying to conciliate Mather, and induce him to desist from the
prosecution. Whoever reads the letter will see how unfair and untrue
this is. Calef keeps to the point, which was not whether there were, or
could be, witches; but whether the methods Mather was attempting, in the
case of Margaret Rule, and which had been used in Salem, the year
before, were legitimate or defensible. He was determined not to suffer
the issue to be shifted.

Upon receiving this letter, Mather, who had probably, upon reflection,
begun to doubt about the expediency of a public prosecution, signified
that he had no desire to press the prosecution; and renewed the proposal
for a conference. Calef "waited on Sessions;" but no one appearing
against him, was dismissed. The affair seemed, at this crisis, to be
tending toward an amicable conclusion. But Mather failed to meet him;
and, on the eleventh of January, 1694, Calef addressed him again,
recapitulating what had occurred, sending him copies of his previous
letters and also of the Minutes he had taken of what occurred on the
evenings of the thirteenth and nineteenth of September, with these
words: "REVEREND SIR: Finding it necessary, on many accounts, I here
present you with the copy of that Paper, which has been so much
misrepresented, to the end, that what shall be found defective or not
fairly represented, if any such shall appear, they may be set right."

This letter concludes in terms which show that, in that stage of the
affair, Calef was disposed to treat Mather with great respect; and that
he sincerely and earnestly desired and trusted that satisfaction might
be given and taken, in the interview he so persistently sought--not
merely in reference to the case of Margaret Rule, but to the general
subject of witchcraft, on which they had different apprehensions: "I
have reason to hope for a satisfactory answer to him, who is one that
reverences your person and office."

This language strikingly illustrates the estimate in which Ministers
were held. Reverence for their office and for them, as a body, pervaded
all classes.

On the fifteenth of January, Mather replied complaining, in general
terms, of the narrative contained in Calef's Minutes, as follows: "I do
scarcely find any _one_ thing, in the whole paper, whether respecting my
father or myself, either fairly or truly represented." "The narrative
contains a number of mistakes and falsehoods which, were they wilful and
designed, might justly be termed great lies." He then goes into a
specification of a few particulars, in which he maintains that the
Minutes are incorrect.

On the eighteenth of January, Calef replied, reminding him that he had
taken scarcely any notice of the general subject of diabolical agency;
but that almost the whole of his letter referred to the Minutes of the
meetings, on the thirteenth and nineteenth of September; and he
maintains their substantial accuracy and shows that some of Mather's
strictures were founded upon an incorrect reading of them. In regard to
Mather's different recollection of some points, he expresses his belief
that if his account, in the Minutes, "be not fully exact, it was as near
as memory could bear away." He notices the fact that he finds in
Mather's letter no objection to what related to matters of greatest
concern. Mather had complained that the Minutes reported certain
statements made by Rule, which had been used to his disadvantage; and
Calef suggests, "What can be expected less from the father of lies, by
whom, you judge, she was possest?"

Appended to Mather's letter, are some documents, signed by several
persons, declaring that they had seen Rule lifted up by an invisible
force from the bed to the top of the room, while a strong person threw
his whole weight across her, and several others were trying with all
their might to hold her down or pull her back. Upon these certificates,
Calef remarks: "Upon the whole, I suppose you expect I should believe
it; and if so, the only advantage gained is, that what has been so long
controverted between Protestants and Papists, whether miracles are
ceased, will hereby seem to be decided for the latter; it being, for
ought I can see, if so, as true a miracle as for iron to swim; and the
Devil can work such miracles."

Calef wrote to him again, on the nineteenth of February, once more
praying that he would so far oblige him, as to give him his views, on
the important subjects, for a right understanding of which he had so
repeatedly sought a conference and written so many letters; and
expressing his earnest desire to be corrected, if in error, to which
end, if Mather would not, he indulged a hope that some others would,
afford him relief and satisfaction. On the sixteenth of April, he wrote
still another letter. In all of them, he touched upon the points at
issue between them, and importuned Mather to communicate his views,
fully, as to one seeking light. On the first of March, he wrote to a
gentleman, an acknowledgment of having received, through his hands,
"after more than a year's waiting," from Cotton Mather, four sheets of
paper, not to be copied, and to be returned in a fortnight. Upon
returning them, with comments, he desires the gentleman to request Mr.
Mather not to send him any more such papers, unless he could be allowed
to copy and use them. It seems that, in answer to a subsequent letter,
Mather sent to him a copy of Richard Baxter's _Certainty of the World of
Spirits_, to which, after some time, Calef found leisure to reply,
expressing his dissent from the views given in that book, and treating
the subject somewhat at large. In this letter, which closes his
correspondence with Mather, he makes his solemn and severe appeal:
"Though there is reason to hope that these diabolical principles have
not so far prevailed (with multitudes of Christians), as that they
ascribe to a witch and a devil the attributes peculiar to the Almighty;
yet how few are willing to be found opposing such a torrent, as knowing
that in so doing they shall be sure to meet with opposition to the
utmost, from the many, both of Magistrates, Ministers, and people; and
the name of Sadducee, atheist, and perhaps witch too, cast upon them,
most liberally, by men of the highest profession in godliness; and, if
not so learned as some of themselves, then accounted only fit to be
trampled on, and their arguments (though both rational and scriptural)
as fit only for contempt. But though this be the deplorable dilemma, yet
some have dared, from time to time, (for the glory of God and the good
and safety of men's lives, etc.) to run all these risks. And, that God
who has said, 'My glory I will not give to another,' is able to protect
those that are found doing their duty herein against all opposers; and,
however otherwise contemptible, can make them useful in his own hand,
who has sometimes chosen the weakest instruments that His power may be
the more illustrious.

"And now, Reverend Sir, if you are conscious to yourself, that you have,
in your principles or practices, been abetting to such grand errors, I
cannot see how it can consist with sincerity, to be so convinced, in
matters so nearly relating to the glory of God and lives of innocents,
and, at the same time, so much to fear disparagement among men, as to
trifle with conscience and dissemble an approving of former sentiments.
You know that word, 'He that honoreth me I will honor, and he that
despiseth me shall be lightly esteemed.' But, if you think that, in
these matters, you have done your duty, and taught the people theirs;
and that the doctrines cited from the above mentioned book [_Baxter's_]
are ungainsayable; I shall conclude in almost his words. He that teaches
such a doctrine, if through ignorance he believes not what he saith, may
be a Christian; but if he believes them, he is in the broad path to
heathenism, devilism, popery, or atheism. It is a solemn caution (_Gal.,
i., 8_): 'But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be
accursed.' I hope you will not misconstrue my intentions herein, who am,
Reverend Sir, yours to command, in what I may."

Resolute in his purpose to bring the Ministers, if possible, to meet the
questions he felt it his duty to have considered and settled, and
careful to leave nothing undone that he could do, to this end, he sought
the satisfaction from others, he had tried, in vain, to obtain from
Mather. On the eighteenth of March, 1695, he addressed a letter "To the
Ministers, whether English, French, or Dutch," calling their attention
to "the mysterious doctrines" relating to the "power of the Devil," and
to the subject of Witchcraft. On the twentieth of September, he wrote to
the Rev. Samuel Willard, invoking his attention to the "great concern,"
and his aid in having it fairly discussed. On the twelfth of January,
1696, he addressed "The Ministers in and near Boston," for the same
purpose; and wrote a separate letter to the Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth.

These documents were all composed with great earnestness, frankness, and
ability; and are most creditable to his intelligence, courage, and sense
of public duty. I have given this minute account of his proceedings with
Mather and the Clergy generally, because I am impressed with a
conviction that no instance can be found, in which a great question has
been managed with more caution, deliberation, patience, manly openness
and uprightness, and heroic steadiness and prowess, than this young
merchant displayed, in compelling all concerned to submit to a thorough
investigation and over-hauling of opinions and practices, established by
the authority of great names and prevalent passions and prejudices, and
hedged in by the powers and terrors of Church and State.

It seems to be evident that he must have received aid, in some quarter,
from persons conversant with topics of learning and methods of treating
such subjects, to an extent beyond the reach of a mere man of business.
In the First Volume of the _Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical
Society_, Page 288, a Memorandum, from which I make an extract, is
given, as found in Doctor Belknap's hand-writing, in his copy of Calef's
book, in the collection, from the library of that eminent historian,
presented by his heirs to that institution: "A young man of good sense,
and free from superstition; a merchant in Boston. He 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.--E. P."

The fact that Belknap endorsed this statement, gives it sufficient
credibility. Who the "E. P." was, from whom it was derived, is not
known. If it were either of the Ebenezer Pembertons, father or son, no
higher authority could be adduced. But whatever aid Calef received, he
so thoroughly digested and appropriated, as to make him ready to meet
Mather or any, or all, the other Ministers, for conference and debate;
and his title to the authorship of the papers remains complete.

The Ministers did not give him the satisfaction he sought. They were
paralyzed by the influence or the fear of the Mathers. Perhaps they were
shocked, if not indignant, at a layman's daring to make such a movement
against a Minister. It was an instance of the laying of unsanctified
hands on the horns of the altar, such as had not been equalled in
audacity, since the days of Anne Hutchinson, by any but Quakers. Calef,
however, was determined to compel the attention of the world, if he
could not that of the Ministers of Boston, to the subject; and he
prepared, and sent to England, to be printed, a book, containing all
that had passed, and more to the same purpose. It consists of several

PART I. is _An account of the afflictions of Margaret Rule_, written by
Cotton Mather, under the title of _Another Brand plucked out of the
Burning, or more Wonders of the Invisible World_. In my book, the case
of Margaret Rule is spoken of as having occurred the next "Summer" after
the witchcraft delusion in Salem. This gives the Reviewer a chance to
strike at me, in his usual style, as follows: "The case did not occur in
the Summer; the date is patent to any one who will look for it." Cotton
Mather says that she "first found herself to be formally besieged by the
spectres," on the tenth of September. From the preceding clauses of the
same paragraph, it might be inferred that she had had fits before. He
speaks of those, on the tenth, as "the first I'll mention." The word
"formally," too, almost implies the same. This, however, must be allowed
to be the smallest kind of criticism, although uttered by the Reviewer
in the style of a petulant pedagogue. If Summer is not allowed to borrow
a little of September, it will sometimes not have much to show, in our
climate. The tenth of September is, after all, fairly within the
astronomical Summer.

The Reviewer says it will be "difficult for me to prove" that Margaret
Rule belonged to Mr. Mather's Congregation, before September, 1693.
Mather vindicates his taking such an interest in her case, on the ground
that she was one of his "poor flock." The Reviewer raises a question on
this point; and his controversy is with Mather, not with me. If Rule did
not belong to the Congregation of North Boston, when Mather first
visited her, his language is deceptive, and his apology, for meddling
with the case, founded in falsehood. I make no such charge, and have no
such belief. The Reviewer seems to have been led to place Cotton Mather
in his own light--in fact, to falsify his language--on this point, by
what is said of another Minister's having visited her, to whose flock
she belonged, and whom she called, "Father." This was Increase Mather.
We know he visited her; and it was as proper for him to do so, as for
Cotton. They were associate Ministers of the same Congregation--that to
which the girl belonged--and it was natural that she should have
distinguished the elder, by calling him "Father."

In contradiction of another of my statements, the Reviewer says: "Mr.
Mather did not publish an account of the long-continued fastings, or any
other account of the case of Margaret Rule." He seems to think that
"published" means "printed." It does not necessarily mean, and is not
defined as exclusively meaning, to put to press. To be "published," a
document does not need, now, to be printed. Much less then. Mather wrote
it, as he says, with a view to its being printed, and put it into open
and free circulation. Calef publicly declared that he received it from
"a gentleman, who had it of the author, and communicated it to use, with
his express consent." Mather says, in a prefatory note: "I now lay
before you a very entertaining story," "of one who been prodigiously
handled by the evil Angels." "I do not write it with a design of
throwing it presently into the press, but only to preserve the memory of
such memorable things, the forgetting whereof would neither be pleasing
to God, nor useful to men." The unrestricted circulation of a work of
this kind, with such a design, was _publishing_ it. It was the form in
which almost every thing was published in those days. If Calef had
omitted it, in a book professing to give a true and full account of his
dealings with Mather, in the Margaret Rule case, he would have been
charged with having withheld Mather's carefully prepared view of that
case. Mather himself considered the circulation of his "account," as a
publication, for in speaking of his design of ultimately printing it
himself, he calls it a "farther publication."

PART II. embraces the correspondence between Calef, Mather, and others,
which I have particularly described.

PART III. is a brief account of the Parish troubles, at Salem Village.

PART IV. is a correspondence between Calef and a gentleman, whose name
is not given, on the subject of witchcraft, the latter maintaining the
views then prevalent.

PART V. is _An impartial account of the most memorable matters of fact,
touching the supposed witchcraft in New England_, including the "Report"
of the Trials given by Mather in his _Wonders of the Invisible World_.

The work is prefaced by an _Epistle to the Reader_, couched in plain but
pungent language, in which he says: "It is a great pity that the matters
of fact, and indeed the whole, had not been done by some abler hand,
better accomplished, and with the advantages of both natural and
acquired judgment; but, others not appearing, I have enforced myself to
do what is done. My other occasions will not admit any further scrutiny
therein." A Postscript contains some strictures on the _Life of Sir Wm.
Phips_, then recently printed, "which book," Calef says, "though it bear
not the author's name, yet the style, manner, and matter are such, that,
were there no other demonstration or token to know him by, it were no
witchcraft to determine that Mr. Cotton Mather is the author of it."
The real agency of Sir William Phips, in demolishing, with one stern
blow, the Court of Oyer and Terminer, and treading out the witchcraft
prosecutions, has never, until recently, been known. The Records of the
Council, of that time, were obtained from England, not long since. They,
with the General Court Records, Phips's letter to the Home
Government--copied in this article--and the Diary of Judge Sewall,
reveal to us the action of the brave Governor, and show how much that
generation and subsequent times are indebted to him, for stopping, what,
if he had allowed it to go on, would have come, no man can tell "where
at last."

Calef speaks of Sir William, kindly: "It is not doubted but that he
aimed at the good of the people; and great pity it is that his
Government was so sullied (for want of better information and advice
from those whose duty it was to have given it) by the hobgoblin Monster,
Witchcraft, whereby this country was nightmared and harassed, at such a
rate as is not easily imagined."

Such were the contents, and such the tone, of Calef's book. The course
he pursued, his carefulness to do right and to keep his position
fortified as he advanced, and the deliberate courage with which he
encountered the responsibilities, connected with his movement to rid the
country of a baleful superstition, are worthy of grateful remembrance.

Mather received intelligence that Calef had sent his book to England, to
be printed; and his mind was vehemently exercised in reference to it. He
set apart the tenth of June, 1698, for a private Fast on the occasion;
and he commenced the exercise of the day, by, "first of all, declaring
unto the Lord" that he freely forgave Calef, and praying "the Lord also
to forgive him." He "pleaded with the Lord," saying that the design of
this man was to hurt his "precious opportunities of glorifying" his
"glorious Lord Jesus Christ." He earnestly besought that those
opportunities might not be "damnified" by Calef's book. And he finished
by imploring deliverance from his calumnies. So "I put over my
calumnious adversary into the hands of the righteous God."

On the fifth of November, Calef's book having been received in Boston,
Mather again made it the occasion of Fasting and Praying. His friends
also spent a day of prayer, as he expresses it, "to complain unto God,"
against Calef, he, Mather, meeting with them. On the twenty-fifth of
November, he writes thus, in his Diary: "The Lord hath permitted Satan
to raise an extraordinary Storm upon my father and myself. All the rage
of Satan, against the holy churches of the Lord, falls upon us. First
Calf's and then Colman's, do set the people into a mighty ferment."

The entries in his Diary, at this time, show that he was exasperated, to
the highest degree, against Calef, to whom he applies such terms as, "a
liar," "vile," "infamous," imputing to him diabolical wickedness. He
speaks of him as "a weaver;" and, in a pointed manner calls him _Calf_,
a mode of spelling his name sometimes practised, but then generally
going out of use. The probability is that the vowel _a_, formerly, as in
most words, had its broad sound, so that the pronunciation was scarcely
perceptibly different, when used as a dissyllable or monosyllable. As
the broad sound became disused, to a great extent, about this time, the
name was spoken, as well as spelled, as a dissyllable, the vowel having
its long sound. It was written, _Calef_, and thus printed, in the
title-page of his book; so that Mather's variation of it was
unjustifiable, and an unworthy taunt.

It is unnecessary to say that a fling at a person's previous occupation,
or that of his parents--an attempt to discredit him, in consequence of
his having, at some period of his life, been a mechanic or
manufacturer--or dropping, or altering a letter in his name, does not
amount to much, as an impeachment of his character and credibility, as a
man or an author. Hard words, too, in a heated controversy, are of no
account whatever. In this case, particularly, it was a vain and empty
charge, for Mather to call Calef _a liar_. In the matter of the account,
the latter drew up, of what took place in the chamber of Margaret Rule:
as he sent it to Mather for correction, and as Mather specified some
items which he deemed erroneous, his declaration that all the rest was a
tissue of falsehoods, was utterly futile; and can only be taken as an
unmeaning and ineffectual expression of temper. So far as the
truthfulness of Calef's statements, generally, is regarded, there is no
room left for question.

In his Diary for February, 1700, Mather says, speaking of the "calumnies
that Satan, by his instrument, _Calf_, had cast upon" him and his
father, "the Lord put it into the hearts of a considerable number of our
flock, who are, in their temporal condition, more equal unto our
adversary, to appear in our vindication." A Committee of seven,
including John Goodwin, was appointed for this purpose. They called upon
their Pastors to furnish them with materials; which they both did. The
Committee drew up, as Mather informs us, in his Diary, a "handsome
answer unto the slanders and libels of our slanderous adversary," which
was forthwith printed, with the names of the members of the Committee
signed to it. The pamphlet was entitled, _Some Few Remarks_, &c. Mather
says of it: "The Lord blesses it, for the illumination of his people in
many points of our endeavour to serve them, whereof they had been
ignorant; and there is also set before all the Churches a very laudable
example of a people appearing to vindicate their injured Pastors, when a
storm of persecution is raised against them."

This vindication is mainly devoted to the case of the Goodwin children,
twelve years before, and to a defence of the course of Increase Mather,
in England, in reference to the Old and New Charters. No serious attempt
was made to controvert material points in Calef's book, relating to
Salem Witchcraft. As it would have been perfectly easy, by certificates
without number, to have exposed any error, touching that matter, and as
no attempt of the kind was made, on this or any other occasion, the only
alternative left is to accept Hutchinson's conviction, that "Calef was a
fair relator" of that passage in our history.

His book has, therefore, come down to us, bearing the ineffaceable stamp
of truth.

It was so regarded, at the time, in England, as shown in the manner in
which it was referred to by Francis Hutchinson and Daniel Neal; and in
America, in the way in which Thomas Hutchinson speaks of Calef, and
alludes to matters as stated by him. I present, entire, the judgment of
Dr. John Eliot, as given in his _Biographical Dictionary_. Bearing in
mind that Eliot's work was published in 1806, the reader is left to make
his own comments on the statement, in the _North American Review_, that
I originated, in 1831, the unfavorable estimate of Cotton Mather's
agency in the witchcraft delusion of 1692. It is safe to say that no
higher authority can be cited than that of John Eliot: "CALEF, ROBERT,
merchant, in the town of Boston, rendered himself famous by his book
against Witchcraft, when the people of Massachusetts were under the most
strange kind of delusion. The nature of this crime, so opposite to all
common sense, has been said to exempt the accusers from observing the
rules of common sense. This was evident from the trials of witches, at
Salem, in 1692. Mr. Calef opposed facts, in the simple garb of truth, to
fanciful representations; yet he offended men of the greatest learning
and influence. He was obliged to enter into a controversy, which he
managed with great boldness and address. His letters and defence were
printed, in a volume, in London, in 1700. Dr. Increase Mather was then
President of Harvard College; he ordered the wicked book to be burnt in
the College yard; and the members of the Old North Church published a
defence of their Pastors, the Rev. Increase and Cotton Mather. The
pamphlet, printed on this occasion, has this title-page: _Remarks upon a
scandalous book, against the Government and Ministry of New England,
written by Robert Calef_, &c. Their motto was, _Truth will come off
conqueror_, which proved a satire upon themselves, because Calef
obtained a complete triumph. The Judges of the Court and the Jury
confessed their errors; the people were astonished at their own
delusion; reason and common sense were evidently on Calef's side; and
even the present generation read his book with mingled sentiments of
pleasure and admiration."

Calef's book continues, to this day, the recognized authority on the
subject. Its statements of matters of fact, not disputed nor
specifically denied by the parties affected, living at the time, nor
attempted to be confuted, then, and by them, never can be. The current
of nearly two centuries has borne them beyond all question. No assault
can now reach them. No writings of Mather have ever received more
evidence of public interest or favor. First printed in London, Calef's
volume has gone through four American editions; the last, in 1861,
edited by Samuel P. Fowler, is presented in such eligible type and so
readable a form, as to commend it to favorable notice.

It may be safely said that few publications have produced more immediate
or more lasting effects. It killed off the whole business of Margaret
Rule. Mather abandoned it altogether. In 1694, he said "the forgetting
thereof would neither be pleasing to God nor useful to men." Before
Calef had done with him, he had dropped it forever.

Calef's book put a stop to all such things, in New and Old England. It
struck a blow at the whole system of popular superstition, relating to
the diabolical world, under which it reels to this day. It drove the
Devil out of the preaching, the literature, and the popular sentiments
of the world. The traces of his footsteps, as controlling the affairs of
men and interfering with the Providence of God, are only found in the
dark recesses of ignorance, the vulgar profanities of the low, and a few
flash expressions and thoughtless forms of speech.

No one can appreciate the value of his service. If this one brave man
had not squarely and defiantly met the follies and madness, the
priestcraft and fanaticism, of his day; if they had been allowed to
continue to sway Courts and Juries; if the pulpit and the press had
continued to throw combustibles through society, and, in every way,
inflame the public imaginations and passions, what limit can be assigned
to the disastrous consequences?

Boston Merchants glory in the names, on their proud roll of public
benefactors, of men whose wisdom, patriotism, and munificence have
upheld, adorned, and blessed society; but there is no one of their
number who encountered more danger, showed more moral and intellectual
prowess, or rendered more noble service to his fellow citizens and
fellow men, every where, than ROBERT CALEF.

I again ask attention to the language used in the _North American
Review_, for April, 1869. "These views, respecting Mr. Mather's
connection with the Salem trials, are to be found IN NO PUBLICATION OF A
DATE PRIOR TO 1831, when Mr. Upham's _Lectures_ were published."

Great as may be the power of critical journals, they cannot strike into
non-existence, the recorded and printed sentiments of Brattle, the
Hutchinsons, Neal, Watts, Bentley, Eliot, Quincy, and Calef.



There are one or two minor points, where the Reviewer finds occasion to
indulge in his peculiar vein of criticism on my book, which it is
necessary to notice before closing, in order to prevent wrong
impressions being made by his article, touching the truth of history.

A pamphlet, entitled, _Some Miscellany Observations on our present
debates respecting Witchcraft, in a Dialogue between S and B_, has been
referred to. It was published in Philadelphia, in 1692. Its printing was
procured by Hezekiah Usher, a leading citizen of Boston, who, at the
later stages of the prosecution, had been cried out upon, by the
accusing girls, and put under arrest. Its author was understood to be
the Rev. Samuel Willard. The Reviewer claims for its writer precedence
over the Rev. John Wise, of Ipswich, and Robert Pike, of Salisbury, as
having earlier opposed the proceedings. Wise headed a Memorial, in favor
of John Proctor and against the use of spectral evidence, before the
trials that took place on the fifth of August; and Pike's second letter
to Judge Corwin was dated the eighth of August.

The pamphlet attributed to Willard is a spirited and able performance;
but seems to allow the use of spectral evidence, when bearing against
persons of "ill-fame."

Pike concedes all that believers in the general doctrines of witchcraft
demanded, particularly the ground taken in the pamphlet attributed to
Willard, and then proceeds, by the most acute technical logic, based
upon solid common sense, to overturn all the conclusions to which the
Court had been led. It was sent, by special messenger, to a Judge on the
Bench, who was also an associate with Pike at the Council Board of the
Province. Wise's paper was addressed to the Court of Assistants, the
Supreme tribunal of the Province. The _Miscellany Observations_, appear
to have been written after the trials. There is nothing, however,
absolutely to determine the precise date; and they were published
anonymously, in Philadelphia. The right of Wise and Pike to the credit
of having first, by written remonstrance, opposed the proceedings, on
the spot, cannot, I think, be taken away.

The Reviewer charges me, in reference to one point, with not having
thought it necessary to "pore over musty manuscripts, in the obscure
chirography of two centuries ago." So far as my proper subject could be
elucidated by it, I am constrained to claim, that this labor was
encountered, to an extent not often attempted. The files of Courts, and
State, County, Town, and Church records, were very extensively and
thoroughly studied out. So far as the Court papers, belonging to the
witchcraft Examinations and Trials, are regarded, much aid was derived
from _Records of Salem Witchcraft, copied from the original documents_,
printed in 1864, by W. Eliot Woodward. But such difficulty had been
experienced in deciphering them, that the originals were all subjected
to a minute re-examination. The same necessity existed in the use of the
_Annals of Salem_, prepared and published by that most indefatigable
antiquary, the late Rev. Joseph B. Felt, LL.D. In writing a work for
which so little aid could be derived from legislative records or printed
sources, bringing back to life a generation long since departed, and
reproducing a community and transaction so nearly buried in oblivion,
covering a wide field of genealogy, topography and chronology, embracing
an indefinite variety of municipal, parochial, political, social, local,
and family matters, and of things, names, and dates without number, it
was, after all, impossible to avoid feeling that many errors and
oversights might have been committed; and, as my only object was to
construct a true and adequate history, I coveted, and kept myself in a
frame gratefully to receive all corrections and suggestions, with a view
of making the work as perfect as possible, in a reprint. As I was
reasonably confident that the ground under me could stand, at all
important points, any assaults of criticism, made in the ordinary way,
it gave me satisfaction to hear, as I did, in voices of rumor reaching
me from many quarters, that an article was about to appear in the _North
American Review_ that would "demolish" my book. I flattered myself that,
whether it did or not, much valuable information would, at least, be
received, that would enable me to make my book more to my purpose, by
making it more true to history.

After the publication of the article, and before I could extricate
myself from other engagements so far as to look into it, I read, in
editorials, from week to week, in newspapers and journals, that I had
been demolished. Surely, I thought, some great errors have been
discovered, some precious "original sources" opened, some lost records
exhumed, so that now, at last, no matter by whom, the story of Salem
witchcraft can be told. My disappointment may be imagined, when, upon
examining the article, it appeared that only one error had been
discovered in my book, and that I now proceed to acknowledge.

The Reviewer says: "Thomas Brattle, the Treasurer of Harvard College,
(not William Brattle, a merchant of Boston, as Mr. Upham states) wrote,
at the time, an account of Salem Witchcraft." This was not an error of
the press, but wholly my own, as it is in the "copy," sent to the
printers. In finding the interesting relations held by the Rev. William
Brattle with the Salem Village Parish, after the death of Mr. Green, he
being called to act as their patron and guide, and eventually marrying
Green's widow, his name became familiar to my thoughts, and slipped
through my pen. Every one who has gone through the drudgery of
proof-reading knows what ridiculous and, sometimes, frightful, errors
are detected, even in the "last revise." Upon opening the volume, when
it came to me from the binder, I saw this error and immediately informed
my publishers. It is pleasing to think that it cost the Reviewer no
pains to discover it, as the right name stands out in the caption of the
article, which is in capital letters--_Massachusetts Historical
Collections, I., v., 61_--where alone he or I could have seen it.

Mistakes in names and dates--always provoking, often inexplicable--are a
fate to which all are liable. In a friendly, elaborate, and able notice
of my book, in a newspaper of high character, it is stated that Salem
Village, was the home of the family which gave General Rufus Putnam to
"the War of 1812;" and George Burroughs is called "_John_" Burroughs.

It is sometimes as hard to correct an error, as it is easy to fall into
one. In pointing out my inadvertent mistake, the Reviewer unwittingly
reproduces it. His sentence, just quoted, is liable to convey the idea
that William Brattle was "a merchant of Boston." As he has been kind
enough, all through his article, to tell what I ought to have read, and
seen, and done, I venture to suggest that his sentence ought to have
been constructed thus: "Thomas Brattle, a merchant of Boston, (not
William, as Mr. Upham says.)"

A queer fatality seems to have attended this attempt to correct my

A reader of the _North American Review_ cannot fail to have noticed the
manner in which the late Rev. Dr. Peabody, as well as myself, is held up
to ridicule, for having called Cotton Mather, "Dr." when referring to
any thing previous to his having received his Doctorate. Perhaps we were
excusable. By usage, such honorary titles, and indeed all titles, are
applied retrospectively, running back over the life, indefinitely. The
_Encyclopædia Americana_, Eliot's _Biographical Dictionary_, and one of
the last numbers of the _Historic Genealogical Register_, all give that
title to Increase Mather, referring to a period anterior to its having
been conferred upon him. The title was given by the learned editor of
the _Massachusetts Historical Collections_, to Cotton Mather, in the
caption of his letter to Governor Dudley. In the _Mather Papers_,
letters written a score of years before that degree had been conferred
on him, are endorsed "Doctor Cotton Mather." If the high authority of
the _North American Review_ is to establish it, as a literary canon,
that titles are never to be given, except in relation to a period
subsequent to their conferment, writers must, hereafter, be very
careful, when cursorily alluding to anything in the earlier lives of the
Duke of Marlborough, Lord Castlereagh, the Duke of Wellington, Doctor
Franklin, Doctor Channing, or Doctor Priestley, to say, Mr. Churchill,
Mr. Stewart, Mr. Wellesley, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Channing, or Mr.

What renders this making of a great matter out of so trivial a point, by
our Reviewer, amusing, as well as ridiculous, is that he is the first to
break his own rule.

      "'Tis the sport to have the engineer
    Hoist with his own petard."

The critic is caught by his own captions criticism. In the passage,
pointing out the error in the name of Brattle, he calls him, "at the
time" he wrote the account of Salem witchcraft, "the Treasurer of
Harvard College." Brattle held not then, and never had held, that
honorable trust and title, though subsequently appointed to the office.

It is not probable that Cotton Mather will ever find a biographer more
kind and just than the late W. B. O. Peabody, whose mild and pleasant
humor was always kept under the sway of a sweet spirit of candor and
benevolence, and who has presented faithfully all the good points and
services of his subject--_Sparks's American Biography, Vol. VI._ But the
knight errant who has just centered the lists, brandishing his spear
against all who have uttered a lisp against Cotton Mather, goes out of
his way to strike at Doctor Peabody. He inserts, at the foot of one of
his pages, this sneering Note: "Mr. Peabody says; 'Little did the
venerable Doctor think,' etc. The venerable Doctor was twenty-nine years
of age! and was no Doctor at all."

Let us see how the ridicule of the Reviewer can be parried by his own
weapons. Indulging myself, for a moment, in his style, I have, to say
that "this Reviewer has never seen" Worcester's Dictionary, nor
Webster's Dictionary, in neither of which does time or age enter into
the definition of _venerable_. The latter gives the sense as follows:
"Rendered sacred by religious associations, or being consecrated to God
and to his worship; to be regarded with awe, and treated with
reverence." Further: "This Reviewer should have been familiar enough
with the original sources of information on this subject," to have known
that it was common, in those days, to speak and think of such persons as
Cotton Mather, although not old in years, as "venerable." All the
customs, habits, ideas, and sentiments of the people invested them with
character. Their costume and bearing favored it. The place they filled,
and the power they exercised, imparted awe and veneration, whatever
their years. All that age could contribute to command respect was
anticipated and brought, to gather round the young Minister, when hands
were laid upon him, at his ordination, by the title he thenceforth wore,
of "Elder." By his talents, learning, and ambition, Cotton Mather had
become recognized as a "Father in the Church;" and his aspect, as he
stood in the pulpit of "North Boston," fulfilled the idea of
venerableness. And we find that this very term was applied to the
representative centre of a consecrated family, in the "Attestation" to
the _Magnalia_, written by John Higginson, venerable in years, as in all
things else, in some Latin lines of his composure: "_Venerande

In the popular eye, Cotton Mather concentrated all the sacred memories
of the great "decemvirate," as Higginson called it, of the Mathers, who
had been set apart as Ministers of God; and he was venerable, besides,
in the associations connected with the hallowed traditions of his
maternal grandfather, whose name he bore, John Cotton.

An object is _venerable_, whether it be a person, a building, a
locality, or any thing else, around which associations gather, that
inspire reverence. Age, in itself, suggests the sentiment, if its
natural effect is not marred by unworthiness; so does wisdom. Virtue is
venerable, whatever the age. So are all great traits of character; and
so is every thing that brings to the mind consecrated thoughts and
impressions. There was much in Mather's ancestry, name, and office, to
suggest the term, without any regard whatever to his years. If applied
to him by the people of that day, or by a writer now, in reference to
any period of his life after entering the ministry and being classed
with the Elders of the Church and the land, it was entirely legitimate
and appropriate.

While acknowledging the one error, detected by the Reviewer, I avail
myself of the opportunity to apprise those who have my book of a
probable error, not discovered by him. In Vol. II., p. 208, the name of
"Elizabeth Carey" is given among those for whose arrest Warrants were
issued, on the twenty-eighth of May, 1692. On page 238, the name
"Elizabeth Cary" is again mentioned. The facts are, that Calef, (_p.
95_,) says: "MAY 24TH: Mrs. Carey, of Charlestown, was examined and
committed. Her husband, Mr. Nathaniel Carey, has given account thereof,
as also of her escape, to this effect." He then gives a letter going
into much interesting detail, evidently written by her husband, and
signed "Jonathan Carey." Hutchinson (_History, ii., 49_,) repeats
Calef's account, calling the woman, "Elizabeth, wife of Nathaniel;" and
gives the substance of her husband's letter, without attempting to
explain, or even noticing, the discrepancy as to the name of the
husband. Not knowing what to make of it, I examined the miscellaneous
mass of papers, in the Clerk's office, and found, on a small scrip, the
original Complaint, on which the Warrant was issued. It is the only
paper, relating to the case, in existence, or at least to be found here.
In it, the woman is described as "Elizabeth, the wife of Capt. Nathaniel
Carey of Charlestown, mariner." This seemed to settle it and I let it
pass, without attempting to explain how "Jonathan Carey" came to appear
as the husband of the woman, in the letter signed by that name. I am now
quite convinced that, in this case, I was misled, together with Calef
and Hutchinson, by paying too much regard to "original sources." I am
satisfied that the authority of the letter of "Jonathan Carey," must
stand; that the woman was his wife, "Hannah;" and that the error is in
the original "Complaint," here on file.

The facts, probably, were, that, it being rumored in Charlestown that a
Mrs. Carey was "cried out upon," without its being known which Mrs.
Carey it was, Jonathan, determined to meet the matter at the threshold,
took his wife directly to the spot. He arrived at Salem Village, in the
midst of a great excitement, bringing together a crowd of people, half
crazed under the terrors of the hour. Nobody knew him, which would not
have been so likely to have been the case with his brother, Nathaniel,
who was a more conspicuous character. He could find no one he knew,
except Mr. Hale, who was formerly a Charlestown man, and whom he soon
lost in the confusion of the scene. The accusing girls were on the look
out, and noticing these two strangers, enquired their names, and were
told, _Mr. and Mrs. Carey_. They had been crying out upon _Elizabeth
Carey_, and thinking they had her, informed Thomas Putnam and Benjamin
Hutchinson, two persons perfectly deluded by them, who instantly drew
up the Complaint. In the hurry and horrors of the moment, the error in
the names was not discovered: _Jonathan_ and _Hannah_ were sent
forthwith to prison, from which they broke, and escaped to New York. The
girls, thinking they had got _Mrs. Elizabeth Carey_ in prison, said no
more about it. As Jonathan and his wife were safe, and beyond reach, the
whole matter dropped out of the public mind; and Mrs. Elizabeth remained
undisturbed. This is the only way in which I can account for the strange
incongruity of the statements, as found in the "Complaint," Calef, and
Hutchinson. The letter of Jonathan Carey is decisive of the point that
it was "Hannah," his wife, that was arrested, and escaped. The error in
Calef was not discovered by him, as his book was printed in London; and,
under the general disposition to let the subject pass into oblivion, if
possible, no explanation was ever given.

I cannot let the letter of Jonathan Carey pass, without calling to
notice his statement that, upon reaching New York, they found "His
Excellency, Benjamin Fletcher, Esq., very courteous" to them. Whatever
multiplies pleasant historical reminiscences and bonds of association
between different States, ought to be gathered up and kept fresh in the
minds of all. The fact that when Massachusetts was suffering from a
fiery and bloody, but brief, persecution by its own Government, New York
opened so kind and secure a shelter for those fortunate enough to escape
to it, ought to be forever held in grateful remembrance by the people of
the old Bay State, and constitutes a part of the history of the Empire
State, of which she may well be proud. If the historians and antiquaries
of the latter State can find any traces, in their municipal or other
archives, or in any quarter, of the refuge which the Careys and others
found among them, in 1692, they would be welcome contributions to our
history, and strengthen the bonds of friendly union.

The Reviewer seems to imagine that, by a stroke of his pen, he can, at
any time, make history. Referring to Governor Winthrop, in connection
with the case of Margaret Jones, forty-two years before, he says that he
"presided at her Trial; signed her Death-warrant; and wrote the report
of the case in his journal." The fact that, in his private journal, he
has a paragraph relating to it, hardly justifies the expression "wrote
the report of the case." Where did he, our Reviewer, find authority for
the positive statement that Winthrop "signed the Death-warrant?" We have
no information, I think, as to the use of Death-warrants, as we
understand such documents to be, in those days; and especially are we
ignorant as to the official who drew and signed the Order for the
execution of a capital convict. Sir William Phips, although present,
did not sign the Death-warrant of Bridget Bishop.

The Reviewer expresses, over and over again, his great surprise at the
view given in my book of Cotton Mather's connection with Salem
witchcraft. It is quite noticeable that his language, to this effect,
was echoed through that portion of the Press committed to his
statements. My sentiments were spoken of as "surprising errors." What I
had said was, as I have shown, a mere continuation of an ever-received
opinion; and it was singular that it gave such a widespread simultaneous
shock of "surprise." But that shock went all around. I was surprised at
their surprise; and may be allowed, as well as the Reviewer, to express
and explain that sensation. It was awakened deeply and forcibly by the
whole tenor of his article. He was the first reader of my book, it
having been furnished him by the Publishers before going to the binder.
He wrote an elaborate, extended, and friendly notice of it, in a leading
paper of New York city, kindly calling it "a monument of historical and
antiquarian research;" "a narrative as fascinating as the latest novel;"
and concluding thus: "Mr. Upham deserves the thanks of the many persons
interested in psychological inquiries, for the minute details he has
given of these transactions." Some criticisms were suggested, in
reference to matters of form in the work; _but not one word was said
about Cotton Mather_. The change that has come over the spirit of his
dream is more than surprising.

The reference, in the foregoing citation, to "psychological enquiries,"
suggests to me to allude, before closing, to remarks made by some other
critics. I did not go into the discussion, with any particularity, of
the connection, if any, between the witchcraft developments of 1692 and
modern spiritualism, in any of its forms. A fair and candid writer
observes that "the facts and occurrences," as I state them, involve
difficulties which I "have not solved." There are "depths," he
continues, "in this melancholy episode, which his plummet has not
sounded, by a great deal." This is perfectly true.

With a full conviction that the events and circumstances I was
endeavoring to relate, afforded more material for suggestions, in
reference to the mysteries of our spiritual nature, than any other
chapter in history, I carefully abstained, with the exception of a few
cautionary considerations hinting at the difficulties that encompass the
subject, from attempting to follow facts to conclusions, in that
direction. My sole object was to bring to view, as truthfully,
thoroughly, and minutely, as I could, the phenomena of the case, as bare
historical facts, from which others were left, to make their own
deductions. This was the extent of the service I desired to render, in
aid of such as may attempt to advance the boundaries of the spiritual
department of science. I was content, and careful, to stay my steps.
Feeling that the story I was telling led me along the outer edge of what
is now knowledge--that I was treading the shores of the _ultima Thule_,
of the yet discovered world of truth--I did not venture upon the world
beyond. My only hope was to afford some data to guide the course of
those who may attempt to traverse it. Other hands are to drop the
plummet into its depths, and other voyagers feel their way over its
surface to continents that are waiting, as did this Western Hemisphere,
for ages upon ages, to be revealed. The belief that fields of science
may yet be reached, by exploring the connection between the corporeal
and spiritual spheres of our being, in which explorations the facts
presented in the witchcraft Delusion may be serviceable, suggested one
of the motives that led me to dedicate my volumes to the Professor of
Physiology in Harvard University.

The Reviewer concludes his article by saying that the "History of Salem
witchcraft is as yet unwritten," but, that I must write it; and he tells
me how to write it. He advises a more concise form, although his whole
article consists of complaints because I avoided discussions and
condensed documents, which, if fully gone into and spread out at length,
would have swelled the dimensions of the work, as well as broken the
thread of the narrative. It must be borne in mind, that a reader can
only be held to the line of a subject, by an occasional retrospection
and reiteration of what must be constantly kept in view. The traveler
needs, at certain points and suitable stages, to turn and survey the
ground over which he has passed. A condensation that would strike out
such recapitulations and repetitions, might impair the effect of a work
of any kind, particularly, of one embracing complicated materials.

The Reviewer says that, "by all means, I must give references to
authorities," when I quote. This, as a general thing, is good advice.
But it must be remembered that my work consists of three divisions. The
History of Salem Village constitutes the First. This is drawn, almost
wholly, from papers in the offices of registry, and from judicial files
of the County, to which references would be of little use, and serve
only to cumber and deform the pages. Everything can be verified by
inspection of the originals, and not otherwise. The Second Part is a
cursory, general, abbreviated sketch or survey of the history of
opinions, not designed as an authoritative treatise for special
students, but to prepare the reader for the Third Part, the authorities
for which are, almost wholly, Court files.

As to the remaining suggestion, that I must divide the work into
Chapters, with headings, there is something to be said. When the nature
of an historical work admits of its being invested with a dramatic
interest--and all history is capable, more or less, of having that
attraction--where minute details can fill up the whole outline of
characters, events, and scenes, all bearing the impress of truth and
certainty, real history, being often stranger than fiction, may be, and
ought to be, so written as to bring to bear upon the reader, the charm,
and work the spell, of what is called romance. The same solicitude,
suspense, and sensibilities, which the parties, described, experienced,
can be imparted to the reader; and his feelings and affections keep pace
with the developments of the story, as they arise with the progress of
time and events. Headings to Chapters, in historical works, capable of
this dramatic element, would be as out of place, and as much mar and
defeat the effect, as in a novel.

As for division into Chapters. This was much thought of and desired; but
the nature of the subject presented obstacles that seem insurmountable.
One topic necessarily ran into, or overlapped, another. No chronological
unity, if the work had been thus cut up, could have been preserved; and
much of the ground would have had to be gone over and over again.
Examinations, Trials, Executions were, often, all going on at once.

There is danger of a diminution of the continuous interest of some
works, thus severed into fragments. There are, indeed, animals that will
bear to be chopped up indefinitely, and each parcel retain its life: not
so with others. The most important of all documents have suffered
injury, not to be calculated, in their attractiveness and
impressiveness, by being divided into Chapter and Verse, in many
instances without reference to the unity of topics, or coherence of
passages; dislocating the frame of narratives, and breaking the
structure of sentences. We all know to what a ridiculous extent this
practice was, for a long period, carried in Sermons, which were
"divided" to a degree of artificial and elaborate dissection into
"heads," that tasked to the utmost the ingenuity of the preacher, and
overwhelmed the discernment and memory of the hearer. He, in fact, was
thought the ablest sermonizer, who could stretch the longest string of
divisions, up to the "nineteenthly," and beyond. This fashion has a
prominent place among _The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the
Clergy and Religion_, by John Eachard, D.D., a work published in London,
near the commencement of the last century--one of the few books, like
Calef's, which have turned the tide, and arrested the follies, of their
times. In bold, free, forcible satire, Eachard's book stands alone.
Founded on great learning, inspired by genuine wit, its style is plain
even to homeliness. It struck at the highest, and was felt and
appreciated by the lowest. It reinforced the pulpit, simplified the
literature, eradicated absurdities of diction and construction, and
removed many of the ecclesiastic abuses, of its day. No work of the kind
ever met with a more enthusiastic reception. I quote from the Eleventh
Edition, printed in 1705: "We must observe, that there is a great
difference in texts. For all texts come not asunder, alike; for
sometimes the words naturally fall asunder; sometimes they drop asunder;
sometimes they melt; sometimes they untwist; and there be some words so
willing to be parted, that they divide themselves, to the great ease and
rejoicing of the Minister. But if they will not easily come in pieces,
then he falls to hacking and hewing, as if he would make all fly into
shivers. The truth of it is, I have known, now and then, some knotty
texts, that have been divided seven or eight times over, before they
could make them split handsomely, according to their mind."

An apology to those critics who have complained of my not dividing my
book into Chapters, is found in the foregoing passage. I tried to do it,
but found it a "knotty" subject, and, like the texts Eachard speaks of,
"would not easily come in pieces." With all my efforts, it could not be
made to "split handsomely."

This, and all other suggestions of criticism, are gratefully received
and respectfully considered. But, after all, it will not be well to
establish any canons, to be, in all cases, implicitly obeyed, by all
writers. Much must be left to individual judgment. Regard must be had to
the nature of subjects. Instead of servile uniformity, variety and
diversity must be encouraged. In this way, only, can we have a free,
natural, living literature.

In passing, I would say, that in meeting the demand made upon me by the
Reviewer, to rewrite the history of Salem witchcraft, I shall avail
myself of the opportunity to correct the single error he has mentioned.
In a re-issue of the work, I shall endeavor to make it as accurate as
possible. Anything that is found to be wrong shall be rectified. The
work, in the different forms in which it was published, is nearly out of
print. When issued again, it will be in a less costly style and more
within the reach of all. From the result of my own continued researches
and the suggestions of others, I feel inclined to the opinion that no
very considerable alterations will be made; and that subsequent
editions, will not impair the authority or value of the work, as
originally published in 1867.

In preparing the statement, now brought to a close, the only object has
been to get at, and present, the real facts of history. Nothing, merely
personal, affecting the writer in the _North American Review_ or myself,
can be considered as of comparative moment. Many of the expressions used
by that writer, as to what I have "seen" or "read" and the like, are, it
must be confessed, rather peculiar; but of very little interest to the
public. Any notice, taken of them, has been incidental, and such as
naturally arose in the treatment of the subject.

In parting with the reader, I venture so far further to tax his
patience, as to ask to take a retrospective glance, together, over the
outlines of the road we have travelled.

In connection with some preliminary observations, the first step in the
argument was to show the relation of the Mathers, father and son, to the
superstitions of their times culminating in the Witchcraft Delusion of
1692, and their share of responsibility therefor. The several successive
stages of the discussion were as follows:--The connection of Cotton
Mather with alleged cases of Witchcraft in the family of John Goodwin of
Boston, in 1688; and said Goodwin's certificates disposed of: Mather's
idea of Witchcraft, as a war waged by the Devil against the Church; and
his use of prayer: The connection between the cases, at Boston in 1688,
and at Salem in 1692: The relation of the Mathers to the Government of
Massachusetts, in 1692: The arrival of Sir William Phips; the impression
made upon him by those whom he first met; his letter to the Government
in England: The circumstances attending the establishment of the Special
Court of Oyer and Terminer, and the precipitance with which it was put
into operation: Its proceedings, conducted by persons in the interest of
the Mathers: Spectral Testimony; and the extent to which it was
authorized by them to be received at the Trials, as affording grounds of
enquiry and matter of presumption: Letter of Cotton Mather to one of the
Judges: The Advice of the Ministers: Cotton Mather's probable plan for
dealing with spectral evidence: His views on that subject, as gathered
from his writings and declarations: The question of his connection with
the Examinations before the Magistrates: His connection with the Trials
and Executions: His Report of five of the Trials: His book entitled _The
Wonders of the Invisible World_; its design; the circumstances attending
its preparation for the press; and the views, feelings, and expectations
of its author, exhibited in extracts from it: Increase Mather's _Cases
of Conscience_: The suppression of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, by
Sir William Phips: Cotton Mather's views subsequent to 1692, as gathered
from his writings.

In traversing the field thus marked out, I submit that it has become
demonstrated that, while Cotton Mather professed concurrence in the
generally-received judgment of certain writers against the reception of
spectral evidence, he approved of the manner in which it had been
received by the Judges, at the Salem Trials, and eulogized them
throughout, from the beginning to the end of the prosecution, and ever
after. He vindicated, as a general principle, the _admission_ of that
species of testimony, on the ground of its being a sufficient basis of
enquiry and presumption, and needing only some additional evidence,--his
own Report and papers on file show how little was required--to justify
conviction and execution. This has been proved, at large, by an
examination of his writings and actions, and is fully admitted by him,
in various forms of language, on several occasions--substantially, in
his statement, that Spectral Testimony was the "chief" ground upon which
"divers" were condemned and executed, and, explicitly, in his letter to
Foster, in which he says that "a very great use is to be made" of it, in
the manner and to the extent just mentioned; and that, when thus used,
the "use for which the Great God intended it," will be made. In the same
passage, he commends the Judge for having admitted it; and declares they
had the divine blessing thereupon, inasmuch as "God strangely sent other
convincing testimony," to corroborate, and thereby render it sufficient
to convict. In his Address to the General Assembly, years afterward, he
fully admits that the Judges, in 1692, whose course he applauded at the
time, allowed persons to be adjudged guilty, "merely because" of
Spectral Testimony.

My main purpose and duty, in preparing this article, have been to
disprove the absolute and unlimited assertions made by the contributor
to the _North American Review_, that Cotton Mather was opposed to the
_admission_ of Spectral Evidence; "denounced it as illegal,
uncharitable, and cruel;" and "ever testified against it, both publicly
and privately;" and that the _Advice of the Ministers_, drawn up by him,
"was _very specific_ in _excluding_ Spectral Testimony."

It has been thought proper, also, to vindicate the truth of history
against the statements of this Reviewer, on some other points; as, for
instance, by showing that the opinion of Cotton Mather's particular
responsibility for the Witchcraft Tragedy, instead of originating with
me, was held at the time, at home and abroad, and has come down, through
an unbroken series of the most accredited writers, to our day; and that
the influence of the Mathers never recovered from the shock given it, by
the catastrophe of 1692.

The apology for the great length of this article is, that the high
authority justly accorded to the _North American Review_, demanded, in
controverting any position taken in its columns, a thorough and patient
investigation, and the production, in full, of the documents belonging
to the question. It has further been necessary, in order to get at the
predominating tendency and import of Cotton Mather's writings, to cite
them, in extended quotations and numerous extracts. To avoid the error
into which the Reviewer has fallen, the peculiarity of Mather's style
must be borne in mind. Opposite drifts of expression appear in different
writings and in different parts of the same writing; and, not
infrequently, the clauses of the same passage have contrary bearings. He
often palters, with himself as well as others, in a double sense.

Quotations, to any amount, from the writings of either of the Mathers,
of passages having the appearance of discountenancing spectral evidence,
can be of no avail in sustaining the positions taken by the Reviewer,
because they are qualified by the admission, that evidence of that sort
might and ought, notwithstanding, to be received as a basis for enquiry
and ground of presumption, and, if supported by other ordinary
testimony, was sufficient for conviction. That other testimony, when
adduced, was, as represented by Mather, clothed with a divine authority;
having, as he says, been supplied by a special Providence, and been
justly regarded, by the "excellent Judges," as "an encouraging presence
of God, strangely sent in." It could, indeed, in the then state of the
public mind, always be readily obtained. No matter how small in quantity
or utterly irrelevant, it was sufficient for conviction coming after the
Spectral Evidence. To minds thus subdued and overwhelmed with "awe,"
trifles light as air were confirmation strong.

It is to be presumed that his warmest admirers would not think of
comparing Cotton Mather with his transatlantic correspondent and
coadjutor, as to force of character, power of mind, or the moral and
religious value of their writings. Yet there were some striking
similarities between them. They were men of undoubted genius and great
learning. They were all their lives awake to whatever was going on
around them. Earnestly interested, and actively engaging, in all
questions of theology and government, they both rushed forthwith and
incontinently to the press, until their publications became too
voluminous and numerous to be patiently read or easily counted. Of
course, what they printed was imbued with the changing aspects of the
questions they handled and open to the imputation of inconsistency, of
which Baxter was generally disregardful and Mather mostly unconscious.

Sir Roger L'Estrange was one of the great wits and satirists of his
age. His style was rough and reckless. A vehement and fierce upholder of
the doctrines of arbitrary government, he was knighted by James the
Second. His controversial writings, having all the attractions of
unscrupulous invective and homely but cutting sarcasm, were much
patronized by the great, and extensively read by the people. All
Nonconformists and Dissenters were the objects of his coarse abuse. He
issued an ingenious pamphlet with this title: "_The Casuist uncased; in
a Dialogue betwixt Richard and Baxter, with a moderator between them,
for quietness sake._" The two disputants range over a variety of
subjects, and are quite vehement against each other; the Moderator
interposing to keep them to the point, preserve order in the debate,
and, as occasion required, reduce them to "quietness." At one stage of
the altercation, he exclaimed: "If an Angel from Heaven, I perceive,
were employed to bring you two to an agreement, he should lose his
labor." Great was the amusement of all classes to find that the language
uttered by the combatants, on each side, was taken from one or another
of writings published by Richard Baxter, during his diversified
controversial life.

If any skilful and painstaking humorist of our day, should feel so
disposed, he might, by wading through the sea of Cotton Mather's
writings, pick up material enough for the purpose; and, by cutting in
halves paragraphs and sentences, entertain us in the same way, by giving
to the public, through the Press, "_A Dialogue betwixt COTTON and
MATHER, with a Moderator between them for quietness sake._"

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WYNNE, T. H., Baltimore. Editor of _The Westover Papers_, etc.

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