University of Virginia Library

PART II. A Letter to Mr. C. M.


Mr. Cotton Mather,

Reverend Sir, I finding it needful on many accounts, I here present you with the Copy of that Paper, which has been so much Misrepresented, to the End that what shall be found defective or not fairly Represented, if any such shall appear, they may be set right, which Runs thus.

September the 13th, 1693.

In the Evening when the Sun was withdrawn, giving place to Darkness to succeed, I with some others were drawn by curiosity to see Margaret Rule, and so much the rather because it was reported Mr. M — [205] would be there that Night: Being come to her Fathers House into the Chamber wherein she was in Bed, found her of a


healthy countenance of about seventeen Years Old, lying very still, and speaking very little, what she did say seem'd as if she were Light-headed. Then Mr. M — , Father and Son, came up and others with them, in the whole were about 30 or 40 Persons; they being sat, the Father on a Stool, and the Son upon the Bedside by her, the Son began to question her, Margaret Rule, how do you do? then a pause without any answer. Question. What, do there a great many Witches sit upon you? Answer. Yes. Q. Do you not know that there is a hard Master? Then she was in a Fit; He laid his hand upon her Face and Nose, but, as he said, without perceiving Breath; then he brush'd her on the Face with his Glove, and rubb'd her Stomach (her breast not covered with the Bed-cloaths) and bid others do so too, and said it eased her, then she revived. Q. Don't you know there is a hard Master? A. Yes. Reply; Don't serve that hard Master, you know who. Q. Do you believe? Then again she was in a Fit, and he again rub'd her Breast, etc. (about this time Margaret Perd an attendant assisted him in rubbing of her. The Afflicted spake angerely to her saying don't you meddle with me, and hastily put away her hand) he wrought his Fingers before her Eyes and asked her if she saw the Witches? A. No. Q. Do you


believe? A. Yes. Q. Do you believe in you know who? A. Yes. Q. Would you have other people do so too, to believe in you know who? A. Yes. Q. Who is it that Afflicts you? A. I know not, there is a great many of them (about this time the Father question'd if she knew the Spectres? An attendant said, if she did she would not tell; The Son proceeded) Q. You have seen the Black-man, hant[206] you? A. No. Reply; I hope you never shall. Q. You have had a Book offered you, hant you? A. No. Q. The brushing of you gives you ease, don't it? A. Yes. She turn'd her selfe and a little Groan'd. Q. Now the Witches Scratch you and Pinch you, and Bite you, don't they? A. Yes. Then he put his hand upon her Breast and Belly, viz. on the Cloaths over her, and felt a Living thing, as he said, which moved the Father also to feel, and some others; Q. Don't you feel the Live thing in the Bed? A. No. Reply, that is only Fancie. Q. the great company of People increase your Torment, don't they? A. Yes. The People about were desired to withdraw. One Woman said, I am sure I am no Witch, I will not go; so others, so none withdrew. Q. Shall we go to Prayers? Then she lay in a Fit as before. But this time to revive her, they waved a Hat and brushed her Head and Pillow therewith. Q. Shall we go to Pray, etc. Spelling the Word. A. Yes. The Father went


to Prayer for perhaps half an Hour, chiefly against the Power of the Devil and Witchcraft, and that God would bring out the Afflicters: during Prayer-time, the Son stood by, and when they thought she was in a Fit, rub'd her and brush'd her as before, and beckned to others to do the like; after Prayer he proceeded; Q. You did not hear when we were at Prayer, did you? A. Yes. Q. You dont hear always, you dont hear sometimes past a Word or two, do you? A. No. Then turning him about said, this is just another Mercy Short: Margaret Perd reply'd, she was not like her in her Fits. Q. What does she eat or drink? A. Not eat at all; but drink Rum. Then he admonished the young People to take warning, etc. Saying it was a sad thing to be so Tormented by the Devil and his Instruments: A Young-man present in the habit of a Seaman, reply'd this is the Devil all over. Than[207] the Ministers withdrew. Soon after they were gon the Afflicted desired the Women to be gone, saying, that the Company of the Men was not offensive to her, and having hold of the hand of a Young-man, said to have been her Sweet-heart formerly, who was withdrawing; She pull'd him again into his Seat, saying he should not go to Night.

September the 19th, 1693.

This Night I renew'd my Visit, and found her rather of a fresher Countenance than before, about eight Persons present with her, she was in a Fit Screeming and making a Noise: Three or four Persons rub'd and brush'd her with their hands, they said that the brushing did put them away, if they brush'd or rub'd in the right place; therefore they brush'd and rub'd in several places, and said that when they did it in the right place she could fetch her Breath, and by that they knew. She being come to her self was soon in a merry talking Fit. A Young-man came in and ask'd her how she did? She answered very bad, but at present a little better; he soon told her he must be gon and bid her good Night, at which she seem'd troubled, saying, that she liked his Company, and said she would not have him go till she was well; adding, for I shall Die when you are gon. Then she complained they did not put her on a clean Cap, but let her ly so like a Beast, saying, she should lose her Fellows. She said she wondered any People should be so Wicked as to think she was not Afflicted, but to think she Dissembled. A Young-woman answered Yes, if they were to see you in this merry Fit, they would say you Dissembled indeed; She reply'd, Mr. M — said this was her laughing time, she must laugh now: She said Mr. M — had been there this Evening, and she enquired, how long he had been gon? She said,


he stay'd alone with her in the room half an Hour, and said that he told her there were some that came for Spies, and to report about Town that she was not Afflicted. That during the said time she had no Fit, that he asked her if she knew how many times he had Prayed for her to Day? And that she answered that she could not tell; and that he replyed he had Prayed for her Nine times to Day; the Attendants said that she was sometimes in a Fit that none could open her Joynts, and that there came an Old Iron-jaw'd Woman and try'd, but could not do it; they likewise said, that her Head could not be moved from the Pillow; I try'd to move her head, and found no more difficulty than another Bodies (and so did others) but was not willing to offend by lifting it up, one being reproved for endeavouring it, they saying angrily you will break her Neck; The Attendants said Mr. M — would not go to Prayer with her when People were in the Room, as they did one Night, that Night he felt the Live Creature. Margaret Perd and another said they smelt Brimstone; I and others said we did not smell any; then they said they did not know what it was: This Margaret said, she wish'd she had been here when Mr. M — was here, another Attendant said, if you had been here you might not have been permitted in, for her own Mother was not suffered to be present.

Sir, after the sorest Affliction and greatest blemish to Religion that ever befel this Countrey, and after most Men began to Fear that some undue steps had been taken, and after His Excellency (with their Majesties Approbation[208] as is said) had put a stop to Executions, and Men began to hope there would never be a return of the like; finding these Accounts to contain in them something extraordinary, I writ them down the same Nights in order to attain the certainty of them, and soon found them so confirmed that I have (besides other Demonstrations) the whole, under the Hands of two Persons are ready to attest the Truth of it; but not satisfied herewith, I shewed them to some of your particular Friends,


that so I might have the greater certainty: But was much surprized with the Message you sent me, that I should be Arrested for Slander, and at your calling me one of the worst of Lyars, making it Pulpit news with the Name of Pernicious Libels, etc. This occasion'd my first Letter.


Reverend Sir,

I having written from the Mouths of several Persons, who affirm they were present with Margaret Rule, the 13th Instant, her Answers and Behaviours, etc. And having shewed it to several of my Friends, as also yours, and understanding you are offended at it; This is to acquaint you, that if you and any one particular Friend, will please to meet me and some other Indifferent Person with me, at Mr. Wilkins, or at Ben. Harris's,[209] you intimating the time, I shall be ready there to read it to you, as also a further Account of proceedings the '19th Instant, which may be needful to prevent Groundless prejudices, and let deserved blame be cast where it ought; From,

Sir, yours in what I may,

R. C.

The effects of which, Sir, (not to mention that long Letter only once read to me) was, you sent me word you would meet me at Mr. Wilkins, but before that Answer, at yours and your Fathers complaint, I was brought before their Majesties Justice, by Warrant, as for Scandalous Libels against your self, and was bound over to Answer at Sessions; I do not remember you then objected against the Truth of what I had wrote, but asserted it was wronged by omissions, which if it were so was past any Power of mine to remedy, having given a faithful account of all that came to my knowledge; And Sir, that you might not be without some Cognisance of the reasons why I took so much pains in it, as also for my own Information, if it might have been, I wrote to you my second Letter to this effect.


Reverend Sir,

Having expected some Weeks, your meeting me at Mr. Wilkins according to what you intimated to Mr. J. M. — [210] and the time draw


ing near for our meeting elsewhere, I thought it not amiss to give you a Summary of my thoughts in the great concern, which as you say has been agitated with so much heat. That there are Witches is not the doubt, the Scriptures else were in vain, which assign their Punishment to be by Death; But what this Witchcraft is, or wherein it does consist, seems to be the whole difficulty: And as it may be easily demonstrated, that all that bear that Name cannot be justly so accounted, so that some things and Actions not so esteemed by the most, yet upon due examination will be found to merit no better Character.

In your late Book you lay down a brief Synopsis of what has been written on that Subject, by a Triumvirate of as Eminent Men as ever handled it (as you are pleas'd to call them) Viz. Mr. Perkins,[211] Gaule,[212] and Bernard[213] consisting of about 30 Tokens to know them by, many of them distinct from, if not thwarting each other: Among all of which I can find but one decisive, Viz. That of Mr. Gaule, Head IV. and runs thus; Among the most unhappy Circumstances to convict a Witch, one is a maligning and oppugning the Word, Work, or Worship of God, and by any extraordinary Sign seeking to seduce any from it, see Deu. 13. 1, 2. Mat. 24. 24. Acts. 13. 8, 10. 2 Tim. 3. 8. Do but mark well the places, and for this very property of thus opposing and perverting, they are all there concluded and absolute Witches.[214]

This Head as here laid down and inserted by you, either is a Truth or not; if not, why is it here inserted from one of the Triumvirate, if it be a Truth, as the Scriptures quoted will abundantly testifie, whence is it that it is so little regarded, tho it be the only Head well proved by Scripture, or that the rest of the Triumvirate should so far forget their Work as not to mention it. It were to be unjust to the Memory of those otherwise Wise Men, to suppose them to have any Sinister design; But perhaps the force of a prevailing opinion, together with an Education thereto Suited, might over


shadow their Judgments, as being wont to be but too prevalent in many other cases. But if the above be Truth, then the Scripture is full and plain, What is Witchcraft? And if so, what need of his next Head of Hanging of People without as full and clear Evidence as in other Cases? Or what need of the rest of the Receipts of the Triumvirate? what need of Praying that the Afflicted may be able to discover who tis that Afflicts them? or what need of Searching for Tet's for the Devil to Suck in his Old Age, or the Experiment of saying the Lords Prayer, etc. Which[215] a multitude more practised in some places Superstitiously inclin'd. Other Actions have been practised for easing the Afflicted, less justifiable, if not strongly savouring of Witchcraft it self, viz. Fondly Imagining by the Hand, etc., to drive off Spectres, or to knock off Invisible Chains, or by striking in the Air to Wound either the Afflicted or others, etc. I write not this to accuse any, but that all may beware believing, That the Devil's bounds are set, which he cannot pass, That the Devils are so full of Malice, That it cant be added to by Mankind, That where he hath Power, he neither can nor will omit Executing it, That 'tis only the Almighty that sets bounds to his rage, and that only can Commissionate him to hurt or destroy any.

These last, Sir, are such Foundations of Truth, in my esteem, that I cannot but own it to be my duty to ascert them, when call'd tho' with the hazard of my All: And consequently to detect such as these, That a Witch can Commissionate Devils to Afflict Mortals, That he can at his or the Witches pleasure Assume any Shape, That Hanging or Chaining of Witches can lessen his Power of Afflicting, or restore those that were at a distance Tormented, with many others depending on these; all tending, in my esteem, highly to the Dishonour of God, and the Indangering the well-being of a People, and do further add, that as the Scriptures are full that there is Witchcraft, (ui sup.) so 'tis as plain that there are Possessions, and that the Bodies of the Possest have hence been not only Afflicted, but strangely agitated, if not their Tongues improved to foretell futurities, etc. and why not to accuse the Innocent, as bewitching them; having pretence to Divination to gain credence. This being reasonable to be expected, from him who is the Father of Lies, to the end he may thereby involve a Countrey in Blood, Mallice, and Evil, surmising which he greedily seeks after, and so finally lead them from their fear and dependence upon God to fear him, and a supposed Witch thereby attaining his end upon Mankind; and not only so, but Natural Distemper, as has been frequently observed by the Judicious, have so operated as to deceive, more than the Vulgar, as


is testified by many Famous Physicians, and others. And as for that proof of Multitudes of Confessions, this Countrey may be by this time thought Competent Judges, what credence we ought to give them, having had such numerous Instances, as also how obtain'd.

And now Sir, if herein be any thing in your esteem valuable, let me intreat you, not to account it the worse for coming from so mean a hand; which however you may have receiv'd Prejudices, etc., Am ready to serve you to my Power; but if you Judge otherwise hereof, you may take your own Methods for my better Information. Who am, Sir, yours to command, in what I may,

R. C.[216]

In Answer to this last, Sir, you replyed to the Gentleman that presented it, that you had nothing to Prosecute against me; and said as to your Sentiments in your Books, you did not bind any to believe them, and then again renew'd your promise of meeting me, as before, tho' not yet performed. Accordingly, tho' I waited at Sessions, there was none to object ought against me, upon which I was dismissed. This gave me some reason to believe that you intended all should have been forgotten; But instead of that, I find the Coals are fresh blown up, I being supposed to be represented, in a late Manuscript, More Wonders of the, etc., as Traversing[217] your Discourse in your Faithful discharge of your Duty, etc. And such as see not with the Authors Eyes, rendred Sadducees and Witlins,[218] etc., and the Arguments that square not with the Sentiments therein contain'd, Buffoonary; rarely no doubt, agreeing with the Spirit of Christ, and his dealings with an unbelieving Thomas, yet whose infidelity was without compare less excusable, but the Author having resolved long since, to have no more than one single Grain of Patience, with them that deny,[219] etc., the Wonder is the less. It must needs be that offences come, but wo to him by whom they come. To vindicate my self therefore from such false Imputations, of Satanlike insinuations, and misrepresenting your Actions, etc., and to vindicate your self, Sir, as much as is in my Power from those Suggestions, said to be Insinuated, as if you wore not the Modesty and Gravity, that becomes a Minister of the Gospel; which it seems, some that never saw the said Narratives,


report themo contain; I say, Sir, for these reasons, I here present you with the first Coppy that ever was taken, etc. And purpose for a Weeks time to be ready, if you shall intimate your pleasure, to wait upon you, either at the place formerly appointed, or any other that is indifferent to the End; that if there shall appear any defects in that Narrative, they may be amended.

Thus, Sir, I have given you a genuine account of my Sentiments and Actions in this Affair; and do request and pray, that if I err, I may be shewed it from Scripture, or sound Reason, and not by quotations out of Virgil, nor Spanish Rhetorick. For I find the Witlings mentioned, are so far from answering your profound questions, that they cannot so much as pretend to shew a distinction between Witchcraft in the Common notion of it, and Possession; Nor so much as to demonstrate that ever the Jews or primitive Christians did believe, that a Witch could send a Devil to Afflict her Neighbours; but to all these, Sir, (ye being the Salt of the Earth, etc.) I have reason to hope for a Satisfactory Answer to him, who is one that reverences your Person and Office; And am, Sir, yours to Command in what I may,

R. C.


Mr. R. C.

Whereas you intimate your desires, that what's not fairly, (I take it for granted you mean truly also,) represented in a Paper you lately sent me, containing a pretended Narrative of a Visit by my Father and self to an Afflicted Young woman, whom we apprehended to be under a Diabolical Possession, might be rectified: I have this to say, as I have often already said, that I do scarcely find any one thing in the whole Paper, whether respecting my Father or self, either fairly or truly represented. Nor can I think that any that know my Parents Circumstances, but must think him deserving a better Character by far, than this Narrative can be thought to give him. When the main design we managed in Visiting the poor Afflicted Creature, was to prevent the Accusations of the Neighbourhood, can it be fairly represented that our design was to draw out such Accusations, which is the representation


of the Paper? We have Testimonies of the best Witnesses and in Number not a few, That when we asked Rule whether she thought she knew who Tormented her? the Question was but an Introduction to the Solemn charges which we then largely gave, that she should rather Dye than tell the Names of any whom she might Imagine that she knew. Your Informers have reported the Question, and report nothing of what follows, as essential to the giving of that Question: And can this be termed a piece of fairness? Fair it cannot be, that when Ministers Faithfully and Carefully discharge their Duty to the Miserable in their Flock, little bits, scraps and shreds of their Discourses should be tackt together to make them contemtible, when there shall be no notice of all the Necessary, Seasonable, and Profitable things that occur'd, in those Discourses; And without which, the occasion of the lesser Passages cannot be understood; And yet I am furnished with abundant Evidences, ready to be Sworn, that will possitively prove this part of unfairness, by the above mention'd Narrative, to be done both to my Father and self. Again, it seems not fair or reasonable that I should be expos'd, for which your self (not to say some others) might have expos'd me for, if I had not done, Viz. for discouraging so much Company from flocking about the Possest Maid, and yet, as I perswade my self, you cannot but think it to be good advice, to keep much Company from such haunted Chambers; besides the unfairness doth more appear, in that I find nothing repeated of what I said about the advantage, which the Devil takes from too much Observation and Curiosity.

In that several of the Questions in the Paper are so Worded, as to carry in them a presupposal of the things inquired after, to say the best of it is very unfair: But this is not all, the Narrative contains a number of Mistakes and Falshoods; which were they willful and design'd, might justly be termed gross Lies. The representations are far from true, when 'tis affirm'd my Father and self being come into the Room, I began the Discourse; I hope I understand breeding a little better than so: For proof of this, did occasion serve, sundry can depose the contrary.

'Tis no less untrue, that either my Father or self put the Question, how many Witches sit upon you? We always


cautiously avoided that expression; It being contrary to our inward belief: All the standers by will (I believe) Swear they did not hear us use it (your Witnesses excepted) and I tremble to think how hardy those woful Creatures must be, to call the Almighty by an Oath, to so false a thing. As false a representation 'tis, that I rub'd Rule's Stomach, her Breast not being covered. The Oath of the nearest Spectators, giving a true account of that matter will prove this to be little less than a gross (if not a doubled) Lie; and to be somewhat plainer, it carries the Face of a Lie contrived on purpose (by them at least, to whom you are beholden for the Narrative) Wickedly and Basely to expose me. For you cannot but know how much this Representation hath contributed, to make People believe a Smutty thing of me; I am far from thinking, but that in your own Conscience you believe, that no indecent Action of that Nature could then be done by me before such observers, had I been so Wicked as to have been inclin'd to what is Base. It looks next to impossible that a reparation shoud be made me for the wrong done to, I hope, as to any Scandal, an unblemish'd, tho' weak and small Servant of the Church of God. Nor is what follows a less untruth, that 'twas an Attendant and not my self who said, if Rule knows who Afflicts her, yet she wont tell. I therefore spoke it that I might incourage her to continue in that concealment of all Names whatsoever; to this I am able to furnish my self with the Attestation of Sufficient Oaths. 'Tis as far from true, that my apprehension of the Imp, about Rule, was on her Belly, for the Oaths of the Spectators, and even of those that thought they felt it, can testify that 'twas upon the Pillow, at a distance from her Body. As untrue a Representation is that which follows, Viz. That it was said unto her, that her not Apprehending of that odd palpable, tho' not visible, Mover was from her Fancy, for I endeavoured to perswade her that it might be but Fancy in others, that there was any such thing at all. Witnesses every way sufficient can be produced for this also. 'Tis falsely represented that my Father felt on the Young-woman after the appearance mentioned, for his hand was never near her; Oath can sufficiently vindicate him. 'Tis very untrue that my Father Prayed for perhaps half an Hour, against the power of the Devil and Witchcraft, and that God would bring out the


Afflictors. Witnesses of the best Credit, can depose, that his Prayer was not a quarter of an Hour, and that there was no more than about one clause towards the close of the Prayer, which was of this import; And this clause also was guarded with a singular wariness and modesty, Viz. If there were any evil Instruments in this matter God would please to discover them: And that there was more than common reason for that Petition I can satisfie any one that will please to Inquire of me. And strange it is, that a Gentleman that from 18 to 54 hath been an Exemplary Minister of the Gospel; and that besides a station in the Church of God, as considerable as any that his own Country can afford, hath for divers years come off with Honour, in his Application to three Crown'd Heads, and the chiefest Nobility of three Kingdoms, Knows not yet how to make one short Prayer of a quarter of an hour, but in New-England he must be Libell'd for it. There are divers other down-right mistakes, which you have permitted your self, I would hope not knowingly, and with a Malicious design, to be receiver or Compiler of, which I shall now forbear to Animadvert upon. As for the Appendix of the Narrative I do find myself therein Injuriously treated, for the utmost of your proof for what you say of me, amounts to little more than, viz. Some People told you, that others told them, that such and such things did pass, but you may assure yourself, that I am not unfurnish'd with Witnesses, that can convict the same. Whereas you would give me to believe the bottom of these your Methods, to be some dissatisfaction about the commonly receiv'd Power of Devils and Witches; I do not only with all freedom offer you the use of any part of my Library, which you may see cause to peruse on that Subject, but also if you and any else, whom you please, will visit me at my Study, yea, or meet me at any other place, less inconvenient than those by you propos'd; I will with all the fairness and calmness in the World dispute the point. I beg of God that he would bestow as many Blessings on you, as ever on myself, and out of a sincere wish, that you may be made yet more capable of these Blessings, I take this occasion to lay before you the faults (not few nor small ones neither) which the Paper contained, you lately sent me in order to be Examined by me. In case you want a true and full Narrative of my


Visit, whereof such an indecent Traversty (to say the best) hath been made, I am not unwilling to communicate it, in mean time must take liberty to say, 'Tis scarcely consistent with Common Civility, much less Christian Charity, to offer the Narrative, now with you, for a true one, till you have a truer, or for a full one, till you have a fuller. Your Sincere (tho Injur'd) Friend and Servant,

C. Mather.
The Copy of a Paper Receiv'd with the above Letter.
I do Testifie that I have seen Margaret Rule in her Afflictions from the Invisible World, lifted up from her Bed, wholly by an Invisible force, a great way towards the top of the Room where she lay; in her being so lifted, she had no Assistance from any use of her own Arms or Hands, or any other part of her Body, not so much as her Heels touching her Bed, or resting on any support whatsoever. And I have seen her thus lifted, when not only a strong Person hath thrown his whole weight a cross her to pull her down; but several other Persons have endeavoured, with all their might, to hinder her from being so raised up, which I suppose that several others will testifie as well as my self, when call'd unto it. Witness my Hand,
Samuel Aves.
We can also Testifie to the substance of what is above Written, and have several times seen Margaret Rule so lifted up from her Bed, as that she had no use of her own Lims to help her up, but it was the declared apprehension of us, as well as others that saw it, impossible for any hands, but some of the Invisible World to lift her.
Robert Earle. John Wilkins. Dan. Williams.
We whose Names are under-writted do testifie, That one Evening when we were in the Chamber where Margaret Rule then lay, in her late Affliction, we observed her to be, by an


Invisible Force, lifted up from the Bed whereon she lay, so as to touch the Garret Floor, while yet neither her Feet, nor any other part of her Body rested either on the Bed, or any other support, but were also by the same force, lifted up from all that was under her, and all this for a considerable while, we judg'd it several Minutes; and it was as much as several of us could do, with all our strength to pull her down. All which happened when there was not only we two in the Chamber, but we suppose ten or a dozen more, whose Names we have forgotten,
Thomas Thornton.
William Hudson Testifies to the substance of Thorntons Testimony, to which he also hath set his Hand.


Mr. Cotton Mather, Reverend Sir,

Yours of the 15th Instant, I receiv'd yesterday; and soon found I had promised my self too much by it, Viz, Either concurrence with, or a denial of those Fundamentals mentioned in mine, of Novem. the 24th, finding this waved by an Invitation to your Library, etc. I thank God I have the Bible, and do Judge that sufficient to demonstrate that cited Head of Mr. Gaule to be a Truth, as also those other Heads mentioned, as the Foundations of Religion. And in my apprehension, if it be asked any Christian, whether God governs the World, and whether it be he only can Commissionate Devils, and such other Fundamentals, He ought to be as ready as in the Question, who made him? (a little Writing certainly might be of more use, to clear up the controverted points, than either looking over many Books in a well furnish'd Library, or than a dispute, if I were qualified for it; the Inconveniencies of Passion being this way best avoided) And am not without hopes that you will yet oblige me so far, as to consider that Letter, and if I Err, to let me see it by Scripture, etc.

Yours, almost the whole of it, is concerning the Narrative I sent to you, and you seem to intimate as if I were giving


Characters, Reflections, and Libell's etc. concerning your self and Relations; all which were as far from my thoughts, as ever they were in writing after either your self, or any other Minister. In the front you declare your apprehension to be, that the Afflicted was under a Diabolical Possession, and if so, I see not how it should be occasion'd by any Witchcraft (unless we ascribe that Power to a Witch, which is only the Prerogative of the Almighty, of Sending or Commissionating the Devils to Afflict her.) But to your particular Objections against the Narrative; and to the first my intelligence not giving me any further, I could not insert that I knew not. And it seems improbable that a Question should be put, whether she knew (or rather who they were) and at the same time to charge her, and that upon her Life, not to tell, and if you had done so, I see but little good you could promise your self or others by it, she being Possest, as also having it inculcated so much to her of Witchcraft. And as to the next Objection about company flocking, etc., I do profess my Ignorance, not knowing what you mean by it. And Sir, that most of the Questions did carry with them a presupposing the things inquired after, is evident, if there were such as those relating to the Black-man and a Book, and about her hearing the Prayer, etc. (related in the said Narrative, which I find no Objection against.) As to that which is said of mentioning your self first discoursing and your hopes that your breeding was better (I doubt it not) nor do I doubt your Father might first apply himself to others; but my intelligence is, that you first spake to the Afflicted or Possessed, for which you had the advantage of a nearer approach. The next two Objections are founded upon mistakes: I find not in the Narrative any such Question, as how many Witches sit upon you? and that her Breast was not covered, in which those material words “with the Bed-Cloaths” are wholly omitted; I am not willing to retort here your own Language upon you; but can tell you, that your own discourse of it publickly, at Sir W. P.'s[221] Table, has much more contributed to, etc. As to the Reply, if she could she would not tell, whether either or both spake it it matters not much. Neither does the Narrative say you felt the live thing on her Belly; tho I omit now to say what further demonstrations there are


of it. As to that Reply, that is only her fancy, I find the word “her” added. And as to your Fathers feeling for the live Creature after you had felt it, if it were on the Bed it was not so very far from her. And for the length of his Prayer, possibly your Witnesses might keep a more exact account of the time than those others, and I stand not for a few Minutes. For the rest of the Objections I suppose them of less moment, if less can be (however shall be ready to receive them, those matters of greatest concern I find no Objections against). These being all that yet appear, it may be thought that if the Narrative be not fully exact, it was as near as Memory could bear away; but should be glad to see one more perfect (which yet is not to be expected, seeing none writ at the time). You mention the appendix, by which I understand the Second Visit, and if you be by the possessed belyed (as being half an hour with her alone, excluding her own Mother, and as telling her you had Prayed for her Nine times that day, and that now was her Laughing time, she must Laugh now) I can see no Wonder in it; what can be expected less from the Father of Lies, by whom, you Judge, she was possest.

And besides the above Letter, you were pleased to send me another Paper containing several Testimonies of the Possessed being lifted up, and held a space of several Minutes to the Garret floor, etc., but they omit giving the account, whether after she was down they bound her down: or kept holding her: And relate not how many were to pull her down, which hinders the knowledge what number they must be to be stronger than an Invisible Force. Upon the whole, I suppose you expect I should believe it; and if so, the only advantage gain'd, is that which has been so long controverted between Protestants and Papists, whether Miracles are ceast, will hereby seem to be decided for the latter; it being, for ought I can see, if so, as true a Miracle as for Iron to swim, and that the Devil can work such Miracles.

But Sir, leaving these little disputable things, I do again pray that you would let me have the happiness of your approbation or confutation of that Letter before referred to.

And now, Sir, that the God of all Grace may enable us Zealously to own his Truths, and to follow those things that tend to Peace, and that yourself may be as an useful Instrument


in his hand, effectually to ruin the remainders of Heathenish and Popish Superstitions, is the earnest desire and prayer of yours to command, in what I may.

R. C.[222]



1694 of our present calendar.




Haven't, hain't.




The answer to Governor Phips's letter of October 12 (see pp. 196-198, above) was indeed a royal order of January 26 “approving his action in stopping the proceedings against the witches in New England, and directing that in all future proceedings against persons accused of witchcraft or of possession by the devil, all circumspection be used so far as may be without impediment to the ordinary course of justice” — what Frederick the Great would have called “a vague answer — in the Austrian style — that should mean nothing.” It of course did not reach America till after the despatch of Sir William's letter of February 21 (pp. 198-202, above).


The two Boston booksellers'.


It is perhaps idle to guess at the identity of this gentleman; but his initials suggest the Rev. Joshua Moodey, whose kindlier attitude toward witches and their defenders may be inferred from his course in the case of Philip English (see pp. 187-188, note), and who, though early in 1693 he returned to Portsmouth, was still often in Boston. Nor may it be forgotten that the initials of the Rev. Increase Mather are by the printer constantly made “J. M.”


See above, p. 304, note 3.


See above, p. 216, note 1, and p. 219.


See above, p. 304, note 5.


To the end of the paragraph the words are Gaule's. Calef is quoting them, not from Gaule's book, but from Mather's Wonders; for Gaule numbers this rule, not IV., but X., and the introductory words (“Among the most unhappy Circumstances to convict a witch, one is”) are not his, but Mather's — and there are other slight departures from Gaule's wording.




By a misprint the original has “P. C.”


Travestying. See p. 323, above.


See p. 318, above.


See p. 123, above.


1694 of new style.


Sir William Phips's.


Between this letter and the pages of Calef's book which here follow there intervene (1) further letters from him to Mather and to other Boston ministers, on whom he urges his views, (2) a body of documents relating to the controversy between the Rev. Mr. Parris and his disaffected parishioners at Salem Village between the period of the witch-trials and his removal, (3) an epistolary discussion as to the theory of witchcraft between Calef and a Scotsman named Stuart.