University of Virginia Library


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]