University of Virginia Library


Section I. The Afflictions of Margaret Rule.

Within these few years there died in the Southern Parts a Christian Indian, who notwithstanding some of his Indian Weakness, had something of a better Character of vertue and Goodness, than many of our People can allow to most of their Countrey-men, that profess the Christian Religion. He had been a Zealous Preacher of the Gospel to his Neighbour-hood, and a sort of Overseer, or Officer, to whose Conduct was owing very much of what good order was maintained among those Proselited Savages: This Man returning home from the Funeral of his Son, was Complemented by an English-Man, expressing Sorrow for his Loss; now, tho' the Indians use, upon the Death of Relations, to be the most Passionate and Outragious Creatures in the World, yet this Converted Indian Handsomely and Chearfully repli'd, “Truly I am sorry, and I am not sorry; I am sorry that I have Buried a dear Son; but I am not sorry that the will of God is done. I know that without the will of God my Son could not have Died, and I know that the will of God is allways just and good, and so I am satisfied.” Immediately upon this, even within a few hours, he fell himself Sick of a Disease that quickly kill'd him; in the time of which Disease he called his Folks about him, earnestly perswading them to be Sincere in their Praying unto God, and beware of the Drunkenness, the Idleness, the Lying, whereby so many of that Nation disgrac'd their Profession of Christianity; adding, that he was ashamed when he thought how little Service he had hitherto done for God; and that if God would prolong his Life he would Labour to do better Service, but that he was fully sure he was now going to the Lord Jesus Christ, who had bought him with his own Precious Blood; and for his part he long'd to Die that he might be with his Glorious Lord; and in the mid'st of such passages he gave up


the Ghost, but in such repute, that the English People of good Fashion did not think much of Travelling a great way to his Interment. Lest my Reader do now wonder why I have related this piece of a Story, I will now hasten to abate that Wonder, by telling that whereto this was intended, but for an Introduction: Know then that this remarkable Indian being a little before he Died at work in the Wood making of Tarr, there appeared unto him a Black-Man, of a Terrible aspect, and more than humane Dimensions, threatning bitterly to kill him if he would not promise to leave off Preaching as he did to his Countrey-Men, and promise particularly, that if he Preached any more, he would say nothing of Jesus Christ unto them. The Indian amaz'd, yet had the courage to answer, I will in spite of you go on to Preach Christ more than ever I did, and the God whom I serve will keep me that you shall never hurt me. Hereupon the Apparition abating somewhat of his fierceness, offered to the Indian a Book of a considerable thickness and a Pen and Ink, and said, that if he would now set his hand unto that Book, he would require nothing further of him; but the Man refused the motion with indignation, and fell down upon his knees into a Fervent and Pious Prayer unto God for help against the Tempter, whereupon the Dæmon Vanish't.

This is a Story which I would never have tendered unto my Reader, if I had not Receiv'd it from an honest and useful English Man, who is at this time a Preacher of the Gospel to the Indians,[189] nor would the probable[190] Truth of it have encouraged me to have tendered it, if this also had not been a fit introduction unto yet a further Narrative.

Sect. 2. 'Twas not much above a year or two, after this Accident (of which no manner of Noise has been made) that there was a Prodigious descent of Devils upon divers places near the Center of this Province, wherein some scores of Mis


erable People were Troubled by horrible appearances of a Black-Man, accompanied with Spectres, wearing these and those Humane Shapes, who offer'd them a Book to be by them sign'd, in token of their being Listed for the Service of the Devil, and upon their denying to do it, they were Dragoon'd[191] with a thousand Preternatural Torments, which gave no little terror to the beholders of these unhappy Energuments.[192] There was one in the North part of Boston seized by the Evil-Angels many Months after the General Storm of the late Inchantments was over, and when the Countrey had long lain pretty quiet, both as to Molestations and Accusations from the Invisible World, her Name was Margaret Rule, a Young Woman. She was born of sober and honest Parents, yet Living, but what her own Character was before her Visitation, I can speak with the less confidence of exactness, because I observe that wherever the Devils have been let loose to worry any Poor Creature amongst us, a great part of the Neighbourhood presently set themselves to inquire and relate all the little Vanities of their Childhood, with such unequal exaggerations, as to make them appear greater Sinners than any whom the Pilate of Hell has not yet Preyed upon: But it is affirm'd, that for about half a year before her Visitation, she was observably improved in the hopeful symptoms of a new Creature; She was become seriously concern'd for the everlasting Salvation of her Soul, and careful to avoid the snares of Evil Company. This Young Woman had never seen the affliction of Mercy Short, whereof a Narrative has been already given,[193] and yet about half a year after the glorious and signal deliverance of that poor Damsel, this Margaret fell into an affliction, marvellous, resembling hers in almost all the circumstances of it, indeed the Afflictions were so much alike, that the relation I have given of the one, would almost serve as the full History of the other, this was to that, little more than the second part to the same Tune, indeed Margarets case was in several points less remarkable than Mercies, and in some other things the Entertainment did a little vary.

Sect. 3. 'Twas upon the Lords Day the 10th of September, in the Year 1693, that Margaret Rule, after some hours of previous disturbance in the Publick Assembly, fell into odd


Fits, which caused her Friends to carry her home, where her Fits in a few hours grew into a Figure that satisfied the Spectators of their being preternatural; some of the Neighbours were forward enough to suspect the rise of this Mischief in an House hard-by, where lived a Miserable Woman, who had been formerly Imprisoned on the suspicion of Witchcraft, and who had frequently Cured very painfull Hurts by muttering over them certain Charms, which I shall not indanger the Poysoning of my Reader by repeating. This Woman had the Evening before Margaret fell into her Calamities, very bitterly treated her, and threatn'd her; but the hazard of hurting a poor Woman that might be innocent, notwithstanding Surmizes that might have been more strongly grounded than those, caus'd the pious People in the Vicinity to try rather whether incessant Supplication to God alone, might not procure a quicker and safer Ease to the Afflicted, than hasty Prosecution of any suppos'd Criminal, and accordingly that unexceptionable course was all that was ever followed; yea, which I look't on as a token for good, the Afflicted Family was as averse as any of us all to entertain thoughts of any other course.

Sect. 4. The Young Woman was assaulted by Eight cruel Spectres, whereof she imagin'd that she knew three or four, but the rest came still with their Faces cover'd, so that she could never have a distinguishing view of the countenance of those whom she thought she knew; she was very careful of my reitterated charges to forbear blazing the Names, lest any good Person should come to suffer any blast of Reputation thro' the cunning Malice of the great Accuser; nevertheless having since privately named them to my self, 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; altho' I am farr from thinking that the Visions of this Young Woman were Evidence enough to prove them so. These cursed Spectres now brought unto her a Book about a Cubet long, a Book Red and thick, but not very broad, and they demanded of her that she would set her Hand to that Book, or touch it at least with her Hand, as a Sign of her becoming a Servant of the Devil; upon her peremptory refusal to do what they asked, they did not after renew the profers of the


Book unto her, but instead thereof, they fell to Tormenting of her in a manner too Hellish to be sufficiently described, in those Torments confining her to her Bed, for just Six weeks together.

Sect. 5. Sometimes, but not always, together with the Spectres there look't in upon the Young Woman (according to her account) a short and a Black Man, whom they call'd their Master, a Wight exactly of the same Dimensions and Complexion and voice, with the Divel that has exhibited himself unto other infested People, not only in other parts of this Country but also in other Countrys, even of the European World, as the relation of the Enchantments there inform us, they all profest themselves Vassals of this Devil, and in obedience unto him they address themselves unto various ways of Torturing her; accordingly she was cruelly pinch't with Invisible hands very often in a Day, and the black and blew marks of the pinches became immediately visible unto the standers by. Besides this, when her attendants had left her without so much as one pin about her, that so they might prevent some fear'd inconveniencies; yet she would ever now and then be miserably hurt with Pins which were found stuck into her Neck, Back and Arms, however, the Wounds made by the Pins would in a few minutes ordinarily be cured; she would also be strangely distorted in her Joynts, and thrown into such exorbitant Convulsions as were astonishing unto the Spectators in General; They that could behold the doleful condition of the poor Family without sensible compassions, might have Intrals indeed, but I am sure they could have no true Bowels in them.

Sect. 6. It were a most Unchristian and uncivil, yea a most unreasonable thing to imagine that the Fitt's of the Young Woman were but meer Impostures: And I believe scarce any, but People of a particular Dirtiness, will harbour such an Uncharitable Censure; however, because I know not how far the Devil may drive the Imagination of poor Creatures when he has possession of them, that at another time when they are themselves would scorn to Dissemble any thing, I shall now confine my Narrative unto passages, wherein there could be no room left for any Dissimulation. Of these the first that I'll mention shall be this; From the time that Margaret Rule


first found herself to be formally besieged by the Spectres untill the Ninth Day following, namely from the Tenth of September to the Eighteenth, she kept an entire Fast, and yet she was unto all appearance as Fresh, as Lively, as Hearty, at the Nine Days End, as before they began; in all this time, tho' 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 encrease her Miseries, whereof a Spoonful of Rum was the most considerable; but otherwise, as I said, her Fast unto the Ninth day was very extream and rigid: However, afterwards there scarce passed a day wherein she had not liberty to take something or other for her Sustentation, And I must add this further, that this business of her Fast was carried so, that it was impossible to be dissembled without a Combination of Multitudes of People unacquainted with one another to support the Juggle, but he that can imagine such a thing of a Neighbourhood so fill'd with Vertuous People is a base man, I cannot call him any other.

Sect. 7. But if the Sufferings of this Young Woman were not Imposture, yet might they not be pure Distemper? I will not here inquire of our Saducees, what sort of Distemper 'tis shall stick the Body full of Pins, without any Hand that could be seen to stick them; or whether all the Pin-makers in the World would be willing to be Evaporated into certain ill habits of Body producing a Distemper, but of the Distemper my Reader shall be Judge when I have told him something further of those unusual Sufferings. I do believe that the Evil Angels do often take Advantage from Natural Distempers in the Children of Men to annoy them with such further Mischiefs as we call preternatural. The Malignant Vapours and Humours of our Diseased Bodies may be used by Devils thereinto insinuating as engine of the Execution of their Malice upon those Bodies; and perhaps for this reason one Sex may suffer more Troubles of some kinds from the Invisible World than the other, as well as for that reason for which the Old Serpent made where he did his first Address. But I Pray what will you say to this, Margaret Rule would sometimes have her Jaws for


cibly pulled open, whereupon something Invisible would be poured down her Throat; we all saw her swallow, and yet we saw her try all she could by Spitting, Coughing and Shriking,[194] that she might not swalow, but one time the standers by plainly saw something of that odd Liquor it self on the outside of her Neck; She cried out of it as of Scalding Brimstone poured into her, and the whole House would Immediately scent so hot of Brimstone that we were scarce able to endure it, whereof there are scores of Witnesses; but the Young Woman her self would be so monstrously Inflam'd that it would have broke a Heart of Stone to have seen her Agonies. This was a thing that several times happen'd and several times when her Mouth was thus pull'd open, the standers by clapping their Hands close thereupon the distresses that otherwise followed would be diverted. Moreover there was a whitish powder to us Invisible somtimes cast upon the Eyes of this Young Woman, whereby her Eyes would be extreamly incommoded, but one time some of this Powder was fallen actually Visible upon her Cheek, from whence the People in the Room wiped it with their Handkerchiefs, and somtimes the Young Woman would also be so bitterly scorched with the unseen Sulphur thrown upon her, that very sensible Blisters would be raised upon her Skin, whereto her Friends found it necessary to apply the Oyl's proper for common Burning, but the most of these Hurts would be cured in two or three days at farthest: I think I may without Vanity pretend to have read not a few of the best System's of Physick that have been yet seen in these American Regions, but I must confess that I have never yet learned the Name of the Natural Distemper, whereto these odd symptoms do belong: However I might suggest perhaps many a Natural Medicine, which would be of singular use against many of them.

Sect. 8. But there fell out some other matters far beyond the reach of Natural Distemper: This Margaret Rule once in the middle of the Night Lamented sadly that the Spectres threatned the Drowning of a Young Man in the Neighbourhood, whom she named unto the Company: well it was afterwards found that at that very time this Young Man, having been prest on Board a Man of War then in the Harbour, was


out of some dissatisfaction attempting to swim ashoar, and he had been Drowned in the attempt, if a Boat had not seasonably taken him up; it was by computation a minute or two after the Young Womans discourse of the Drowning, that the Young Man took the Water. At another time she told us that the Spectres bragg'd and laughed in her hearing about an exploit they had lately done, by stealing from a Gentleman his Will soon after he had written it; and within a few hours after she had spoken this there came to me a Gentleman with a private complaint, that having written his Will it was unaccountably gone out of the way, how or where he could not Imagine; and besides all this, there were wonderful Noises every now and then made about the Room, which our People could Ascribe to no other Authors but the Spectres, yea, the Watchers affirm that they heard those fiends clapping of their hands together with an Audibleness, wherein they could not be Imposed upon: And once her Tormentors pull'd her up to the Cieling of the Chamber, and held her there before a very Numerous Company of Spectators, who found it as much as they could all do to pull her down again. There was also another very surprising circumstance about her, agreeable to what we have not only Read in several Histories concerning the Imps that have been Imployed in Witchcraft; but also known in some of our own afflicted: We once thought we perceived something stir upon her Pillow at a little distance from her, whereupon one present laying his hand there, he to his horror apprehended that he felt, tho' none could see it, a living Creature, not altogether unlike a Rat, which nimbly escap'd from him: and there were diverse other Persons who were thrown into a great consternation by feeling, as they Judg'd, at other times the same Invisible Animal.

Sect. 9. As it has been with a Thousand other Inchanted People, so it was with Margaret Rule in this particular, that there were several words which her Tormentors would not let her hear, especially the words Pray or Prayer, and yet she could so hear the letters of those words distinctly mentioned as to know what they ment. The standers by were forced sometimes thus in discourse to spell a word to her, but because there were some so ridiculous as to count it a sort of Spell or a Charm for any thus to accommodate themselves to the


capacity of the Sufferer, little of this kind was done. But that which was more singular in this matter, was that she could not use these words in those penetrating discourses, wherewith she would sometimes address the Spectres that were about her. She would sometimes for a long while together apply herself to the Spectres, whom she supposed the Witches, with such Exhortations to Repentance as would have melted an Heart of Adamant to have heard them; her strains of Expression and Argument were truly Extraordinary; A person perhaps of the best Education and Experience and of Attainments much beyond hers could not have exceeded them: nevertheless when she came to these Words God, Lord, Christ, Good, Repent, and some other such, her Mouth could not utter them, whereupon she would somtimes in an Angry Parenthesis complain of their Wickedness in stopping that Word, but she would then go on with some other Terms that would serve to tell what she ment. And I believe that if the most suspicious Person in the world had beheld all the Circumstances of this matter, he would have said it could not have been dissembled.

Sect. 10. Not only in the Swedish, but also in the Salem Witchcraft the Inchanted People have talked much of a White Spirit from whence they received marvellous Assistances in their Miseries; what lately befel 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 heartning and comforting of her and counselling her to maintain her Faith and hope in God, and never comply with the temptations of her Adversaries; she says he told her, that God had permitted her Affictions to befall her for the everlasting and unspeakable good of her own Soul, and for the good of many others, and for his own Immortal Glory, and that she should therefore be of good Chear and be assured of a speedy deliverance; And the wonderful resolution of mind wherewith she encountered her Afflictions were but agreeable to such expectations. Moreover a Minister[195] having one Day with some Importunity Prayed for the deliverance of this Young Woman, and pleaded


that she belong'd to his Flock and charge; he had so far a right unto her as that he was to do the part of a Minister of our Lord for the bringing of her home unto God; only now the Devil hindred him in doing that which he had a right thus to do, and whereas He had a better Title unto her to bring her home to God than the Divel could have unto her to carry her away from the Lord, he therefore humbly applied himself unto God, who alone could right this matter, with a suit that she might be rescued out of Satans Hands; Immediatly upon this, tho' she heard nothing of this transaction she began to call that Minister her Father, and that was the Name whereby she every day before all sorts of People distinguished him: the occasion of it she says was this, the white Spirit presently upon this transaction did after this manner speak to her, “Margaret, you now are to take notice that” (such a Man) “is your Father, God has given you to him, do you from this time look upon him as your Father, obey him, regard him as your Father, follow his Counsels and you shall do well”; And tho' there was one passage more, which I do as little know what to make of as any of the Rest, I am now going to relate it; more than three times have I seen it fulfilled in the Deliverance of Inchanted and Possest Persons, whom the Providence of God has cast into my way, that their Deliverance could not be obtained before the third Fast kept for them, and the third day still obtain'd the Deliverance, altho' I have thought of beseeching of the Lord thrice, when buffeted by Satan, yet I must earnestly Intreat all my Readers to beware of any superstitious conceits upon the Number Three; if our God will hear us upon once Praying and Fasting before him 'tis well, and if he will not vouchsafe his Mercy upon our thrice doing so, yet we must not be so discouraged as to throw by our Devotion but if the Soveraign Grace of our God will in any particular Instances count our Patience enough tryed when we have Solemnly waited upon him for any determinate Number of times, who shall say to him, what doest thou, and if there shall be any Number of Instances, wherein this Grace of our God has exactly holden the same course, it may have a room in our humble Observations, I hope, without any Superstition; I say then that after Margaret Rule had been more than five weeks in her Miseries, this White Spirit said unto her, “Well


this day such a Man” (whom he named[196]) “has kept a third day for your deliverance, now be of good cheer you shall speedily be delivered.” I inquired whether what had been said of that Man were true, and I gained exact and certain Information that it was precisely so, but I doubt lest in relating this Passage that I have used more openness than a Friend should be treated with, and for that cause I have concealed several of the most memorable things that have occurred not only in this but in some former Histories, altho indeed I am not so well satisfied about the true nature of this white Spirit, as to count that I can do a Friend much Honour by reporting what notice this white Spirit may have thus taken of him.

Sect. 11. On the last day of the Week her Tormentors as she thought and said, approaching towards her, would be forced still to recoil and retire as unaccountably unable to meddle with her, and they would retire to the Fire side with their Poppets; but going to stick Pins into those Poppets, they could not (according to their visions) make the Pins to enter, she insulted over them with a very Proper derision, daring them now to do their worst, whilst she had the satisfaction to see their Black Master strike them and kick them, like an Overseer of so many Negro's, to make them to do their work, and renew the marks of his vengeance on them, when they failed of doing of it. At last being as it were tired with their ineffectual Attempts to mortifie her they furiously said, “Well you shant be the last.” And after a pause they added, “Go, and the Devil go with you, we can do no more”; whereupon they flew out of the Room and she returning perfectly to her self most affectionately gave thanks to God for her deliverance; her Tormentors left her extream weak and faint, and overwhelmed with Vapours, which would not only cause her sometimes to Swoon away, but also now and then for a little while discompose the reasonableness of her Thoughts; Nevertheless her former troubles returned not, but we are now waiting to see the good effects of those troubles upon the Souls of all concern'd. And now I suppose that some of our Learned witlings of the Coffee-House, for fear lest these proofs of an Invisible-world should spoil some of their sport, will endeavour to turn them all into sport, for which Buffoonary their only


pretence will be, they cant understand how such things as these could be done, whereas indeed he that is but Philosopher enough to have read but one Little Treatise, Published in the Year 1656 by no other Man than the Chyrurgion of an Army,[197] or but one Chap. of Helmont,[198] which I will not quote at this time too particularly, may give a far more intelligible account of these Appearances than most of these Blades can give why and how their Tobacco makes 'em Spit; or which way the flame of their Candle becomes illuminating. As for that cavil, the world would be undone if the Devils could have such power as they seem to have in several of our stories, it may be Answered that as to many things the Lying Devils have only known them to be done, and then pretended unto the doing of those things, but the true and best Answer is, that by these things we only see what the Devils could have powers to do, if the great God should give them those powers, whereas now our Histories affords a Glorious Evidence for the being of a God, the World would indeed be undone, and horribly undone, if these Devils, who now and then get liberty to play some very mischievous pranks, were not under a daily restraint of some Almighty Superior from doing more of such Mischiefs. Wherefore instead of all Apish flouts and jeers at Histories, which have such undoubted confirmation, as that no Man that has breeding enough to regard the Common Laws of Humane Society, will offer to doubt of 'em, it becomes us rather to adore the Goodness of God, who does not permit such things every day to befall us all, as he sometimes did permit to befall some few of our miserable Neighbours.

Sect. 12. And what, after all my unwearied Cares and


Pains, to rescue the Miserable from the Lions and Bears of Hell, which had siezed them, and after all my Studies to disappoint the Devils in their designs to confound my Neighbourhood, must I be driven to the necessity of an Apologie? Truly the hard representations wherewith some Ill Men have reviled my conduct, and the Countenance which other Men have given to these representations, oblige me to give Mankind some account of my Behaviour; No Christian can, I say none but evil workers can criminate my visiting such of my poor flock as have at any time fallen under the terrible and sensible molestations of Evil-Angels; let their Afflictions have been what they will, I could not have answered it unto my Glorious Lord, if I had withheld my just Counsels and Comforts from them; and if I have also with some exactness observ'd the methods of the Invisible-World, when they have thus become observable, I have been but a Servant of Mankind in doing so; yea no less a Person than the Venerable Baxter has more than once or twice in the most Publick manner invited Mankind to thank me for that Service.[199] I have not been insensible of a greater danger attending me in this fulfilment of my Ministry, than if I had been to take Ten Thousand steps over a Rocky Mountain fill'd with Rattle-Snakes, but I have consider'd, he that is wise will observe things, and the Surprizing Explication and confirmation of the biggest part of the Bible, which I have seen given in these things, has abundantly paid me for observing them. Now in my visiting of the Miserable, I was always of this opinion that we were Ignorant of what Powers the Devils might have to do their mischiefs in the shapes of some that had never been explicitly engaged in Diabolical Confederacies, and that therefore tho' many Witchcrafts had been fairly detected on Enquiries provoked and begun by Specteral Exhibitions, yet we could not easily be too jealous[200] of the Snares laid for us in the devices of Satan; the World knows how many Pages I have Composed and Published, and particular Gentlemen in the Government know how many Letters I have written to prevent the excessive Credit of


Specteral Accusations, wherefore I have still charged the Afflicted that they should Cry out of no body for Afflicting of 'em. But that if this might be any Advantage they might privately tell their minds to some one Person of discretion enough to make no ill use of their communications, accordingly there has been this effect of it, that the Name of No one good Person in the World ever came under any blemish by means of any Afflicted Person that fell under my particular cognisance, 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'em; 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 complain'd of, but that I smother'd all, and after that storm was rais'd 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 Reluctancies of the Honourable Judges to meddle with; In short I do humbly but freely affirm it, there is not that Man living in this World who has been more desirous than the poor Man I to shelter my Neighbours from the Inconveniencies of Spectral Outcries, yea I am very jealous I have done so much that way as to Sin in what I have done, such have been the Cowardize and Fearfulness whereunto my regard unto the dissatisfactions of other People has precipitated me. I know a Man in the World, who has thought he has been able to Convict some such Witches as ought to Dye, but his respect unto the Publick Peace has caused him rather to try whether He could not renew them by Repentance: And as I have been Studious to defeat the Devils of their expectations to set people together by the Ears, thus, I have also checked and quell'd those forbidden curiosities, which would have given the devil an invitation to have tarried amongst us, when I have seen wonderful Snares laid for Curious People, by the secret and future things discovered from the Mouths of Damsels possest with a


Spirit of divination; Indeed I can recollect but one thing wherein there could be given so much as a Shadow of Reason for Exceptions, and that is my allowing of so many to come and see those that were Afflicted, now for that I have this to say, that I have almost a Thousand times intreated the Friends of the Miserable, that they would not permit the Intrusion of any Company, but such as by Prayers or other ways might be helpful to them; Nevertheless I have not absolutely forbid all Company from coming to your Haunted Chambers, partly because the Calamities of the Families were such as required the Assistance of many Friends; partly because I have been willing that there should be disinterested Witnesses of all sorts, to confute the Calumnies of such as would say all was but Imposture; and partly because I saw God had Sanctified the Spectacle of the Miseries on the Afflicted unto the Souls of many that were Spectators, and it is a very Glorious thing that I have now to mention — The Devils have with most horrendous operations broke in upon our Neighbourhood, and God has at such a rate over-ruled all the Fury and Malice of those Devils, that all the Afflicted have not only been Delivered, but I hope also savingly brought home unto God, and the Reputation of no one good Person in the World has been damaged, but instead thereof the Souls of many, especially of the rising Generation, have been thereby awaken'd unto some acquaintance with Religion; our young People who belonged unto the Praying Meetings, of both Sexes, a part would ordinarily spend whole Nights by the whole Weeks together in Prayers and Psalms upon these occasions, in which Devotions the Devils could get nothing but like Fools a Scourge for their own Backs, and some scores of other young People, who were strangers to real Piety, were now struck with the lively demonstrations of Hell evidently set forth before their Eyes, when they saw Persons cruelly Frighted, wounded and Starved by Devils and Scalded with burning Brimstone, and yet so preserved in this tortured estate as that at the end of one Months wretchedness they were as able still to undergo another, so that of these also it might now be said, Behold they Pray in the whole — The Devil got just nothing; but God got praises, Christ got Subjects, the Holy Spirit got Temples, the Church got Addition, and the Souls of Men got everlasting


Benefits; I am not so vain as to say that any Wisdome or Vertue of mine did contribute unto this good order of things: But I am so just, as to say I did not hinder this Good. When therefore there have been those that pickt up little incoherent scraps and bits of my Discourses in this faithful discharge of my Ministry, and so traversted[201] 'em in their abusive Pamphlets,[202] as to perswade the Town that I was their common Enemy in those very points, wherein, if in any one thing whatsoever, I have sensibly approved my self as true a Servant unto 'em as possibly I could, tho my Life and Soul had been at Stake for it, Yea to do like Satan himself, by sly, base, unpretending Insinuations, as if I wore not the Modesty and Gravity which became a Minister of the Gospel, I could not but think my self unkindly dealt withal, and the neglects of others to do me justice in this affair has caused me to conclude this Narrative with complaints in another hearing of such Monstrous Injuries.[203]



Very probably his uncle, the Rev. John Cotton (1640-1699), who had formerly preached in Martha's Vineyard (1664-1667) and had there learned the Indian tongue, and who now, at Plymouth, continued to preach to Indians as well as whites. In his life of Eliot and in bk. VI. of his Magnalia Mather relates much more of the Christian Indians of Martha's Vineyard and of the witchcrafts there.


Provable, demonstrable.


See p. 189, note 2.


Energumens: i.e., demoniacs.


See pp. 255 ff., above.


Hawking? The word is unknown to the dictionaries.


Mather himself, of course.


Again there can be little doubt that the writer means himself.


Who this “Chyrurgion” was and what his treatise, is a puzzle — as it was perhaps meant to be. Balthasar Timäus von Guldenklee (1600-1667), physician to the Elector of Brandenburg, had earned his nobility by healing the Swedish army of the pest in 1637, and in his Casus Medicinales has a passage on diseases ascribed to witchcraft; but it does not appear that this work was published before 1662. Antonius Deusing (1612-1666), physician to the Stadholder of Friesland, published in 1656 a treatise on this subject; but it does not appear that he was ever an army surgeon.


Doubtless the elder, Jan Baptista van Helmont (1577-1644), the eminent but visionary Flemish physician; and the “one Chap.” that on “Recepta injecta” in his Tractatus de Morbis — though he goes into the subject as fully in paragraphs 87-152 of his De Magnetica Vulnerum Curatione.


Notably in his own book on The Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits (London, 1691) and in the perface which he wrote for the London edition of Mather's Memorable Providences, published in that year.






See p. 332, below.


The story of Margaret Rule is told again in Mather's Diary (I. 171 ff.) and in a way that throws fresh light on his relation to the case.

“About a Week after the Beginning of September, being sollicitous to do some further Service, for the Name of God, I took a Journey to Salem. There, I not only sought a further Supply of my Furniture for my Church-History, but also endeavoured, that the complete History of the late Witchcrafts and Possessions might not bee lost. I judg'd that the Preservacion of that History might in a while bee a singular Benefit unto the Church, and unto the World, which made mee sollicitous about it. Moreover, I was willing to preach the Word of God unto the numerous Congregation at Salem; which I did, on both Parts of the Sabbath, not only with a most glorious Assistence of Heaven, but also with some Assurance of Good thereby to bee done among the People. But I had one singular Unhappiness, which befel mee, in this Journey. I had largely written three Discourses, which I designed both to preach at Salem, and hereafter to print. These Notes were before the Sabbath stolen from mee, with such Circumstances, that I am somewhat satisfied, The Spectres, or Agents in the invisible World, were the Robbers. This Diaster had like to have disturbed my Designs for the Sabbath; but God helped mee to remember a great part of what I had written, and to deliver also many other Things, which else I had not now made use of. So that the Divel gott nothing!

“Among other things which entertained mee at Salem, one was, a Discourse with one Mrs. Carver, who had been strangely visited with some shining Spirits, which were good Angels, in her opinion of them.

“She intimated several things unto mee whereof some were to be kept secret. Shee also told mee, That a new Storm of Witchcraft would fall upon the Countrey, to chastise the Iniquity that was used in the wilful Smothering and Covering of the Last; and that many fierce Opposites to the Discovery of that Witchcraft would bee thereby convinced.

“Unto my Surprise, when I came home, I found one of my Neighbours horribly arrested by evil Spirits. I then beg'd of God, that Hee would help mee wisely to discharge my Duty upon this occasion, and avoid gratifying of the evil Angels in any of their Expectations. I did then concern myself to use and gett as much Prayer as I could for the afflicted young Woman; and at the same time, to forbid, either her from accusing any of her Neighbours, or others from enquiring any thing of her. Nevertheless, a wicked Man wrote a most lying Libel to revile my Conduct in these matters; which drove mee to the Blessed God, with my Supplications that Hee would wonderfully protect mee, as well from unreasonable Men acted by the Divels, as from the Divels themselves. I did at first, it may bee, too much resent the Injuries of that Libel; but God brought good out of it; it occasioned the Multiplication of my Prayers before Him; it very much promoted the Works of Humiliation and Mortification in my Soul. Indeed, the Divel made that Libel an Occasion of those Paroxysms in the Town, that would have exceedingly gratify'd him, if God had not helped mee to forgive and forgett the Injuries done unto mee, and to bee deaf unto the Sollicitations of those that would have had mee so to have resented the Injuries of some few Persons, as to have deserted the Lecture at the Old Meeting house.

“When the afflicted young woman had undergone six Weeks of præternatural Calamities and when God had helped mee to keep just three Dayes of Prayer on her behalf, I had the Pleasure of seeing the same Success, which I used to have, on my third Fast, for such possessed People, as have been cast into my cares. God gave her a glorious Deliverance; The remarkable Circumstances whereof, I have more fully related, in an History of the whole Business.

“As for my missing Notes, the possessed young Woman, of her own Accord, enquir'd whether I missed them not? Shee told mee, the Spectres brag'd in her hearing, that they had rob't mee of them; shee added, Bee n't concern'd; for they confess, they can't keep them alwayes from you; you shall have them all brought you again. (They were Notes on Ps. 119. 19 and Ps. 90. 12 and Hag. 1. 7, 9. I was tender of them and often pray'd unto God, that they might bee return'd.) On the fifth of October following, every Leaf of my Notes again came into my Hands, tho' they were in eighteen separate Quarters of Sheets. They were found drop't here and there, about the Streets of Lyn; but how they came to bee so drop't I cannot imagine; and I as much wonder at the Exactness of their Præservation.”

And under October 10th he adds: “On this Day, I also visited a possessed young Woman in the Neighbourhood, whose Distresses were not the least occasion of my being thus before the Lord. I wrestled with God for her: and among other things, I pleaded, that God had made it my Office and Business to engage my Neighbours in the Service of the Lord Jesus Christ; and that this young Woman had expressed her Compliance with my Invitations unto that Service; only that the evil Spirits now hindred her from doing what shee had vowd: and therefore that I had a sort of Right to demand her Deliverance from these invading Divels, and to demand such a Liberty for her as might make her capable of glorifying my Glorious Lord; which I did accordingly. In the close of this Day, a wonderful Spirit, in White and bright Raiment, with a Face unseen, appeared unto this young woman, and bid her count mee her Father, and regard mee and obey mee, as her Father; for hee said, the Lord had given her to mee; and she should now within a few Dayes bee delivered. It proved, accordingly.”

And again in December (p. 178): “And one memorable Providence, I must not forgett. A young Woman being arrested, possessed, afflicted by evil Angels, her Tormentors made my Image or Picture to appear before her, and then made themselves Masters of her Tongue so far, that she began in her Fits to complain that I threatened her and molested her, tho' when shee came out of them, shee own'd, that they could not so much as make my dead Shape do her any Harm, and that they putt a Force upon her Tongue in her Exclamations. Her greatest Out-cries when shee was herself, were, for my poor Prayers to be concerned on her behalf.

“Being hereupon extremely sensible, how much a malicious Town and Land would insult over mee, if such a lying Piece of a Story should fly abroad, that the Divels in my Shape tormented the Neighbourhood, I was putt upon some Agonies, and singular Salleys and Efforts of Soul, in the Resignation of my Name unto the Lord; content that if Hee had no further service for my Name, it should bee torn to pieces with all the Reproches in the world. But I cried unto the Lord as for the Deliverance of my Name, from the Malice of Hell, so for the Deliverance of the young Woman, whom the Powers of Hell had now seized upon. And behold! Without any further Noise, the possessed Person, upon my praying by her, was delivered from her Captivity, on the very same Day that shee fell into it; and the whole Plott of the Divel, to reproach a poor Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, was defeated.”