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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.”