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These unsavory records are given in order to correct a misapprehension as to the part the old Puritans took in the persecutions. Many people seriously believed that the idea of witchcraft, as a capital offense, originated in Salem, and attribute to the original witch-house the reputation of having really given birth to a new superstition and a new persecution. As we have seen, this is entirely erroneous. The fact that the Puritans copied a bad example, instead of setting a new one, should, at least, be remembered in palliation of the unfortunate blot upon their otherwise clean escutcheon.

In the year , one Deodat Lawson, minister at Salem during the last sixteen or seventeen years of the Seventeenth Century, published a remarkable work, entitled "Christ's Fidelity, the only Shield against Satan's Malignity. The record of Parson Lawson is so realistic and emblematic of the times in which he lived, that we reproduce some of his own expressions. Thus, he says, "Now, I having for some time before attended the work of the Ministry in Salem Village, the report of those great afflictions came quickly to my notice, the more so, because the first person afflicted was in the minister's family, who succeeded me after I was removed from them.

In pity, therefore, to my Christian friends and former acquaintance there, I was much concerned about them, frequently consulted with them, and by Divine assistance prayed for them; but especially my concern was augmented when it was reported at an examination of a person suspected for witchcraft, that my wife and daughter, who died three years before, were sent out of the world under the malicious operations of the infernal powers, as is more fully represented in the following remarks.

I did then desire, and was also desired by some concerned in the court, to be there present that I might hear what was alleged in that respect, observing, therefore, when I was amongst them, that the case of the afflicted was very amazing and deplorable, and the charges brought against the accused such as were grounds of suspicion, yet very intricate and difficult to draw up right conclusions about them. They affirmed that they saw the ghosts of several departed persons, who, at their appearing, did instigate them to discover such as they said were instruments to hasten their death, threatening sorely to afflict them if they did not make it known to the magistrates.

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The manner of it was thus: Several afflicted being before the prisoner at the bar, on a sudden they fixed all their eyes together on a certain place on the floor before the prisoner, neither moving their eyes nor bodies for some few minutes, nor answering to any question which was asked them. So soon as that trance was over, some being out of sight and hearing, they were all, one after another, asked what they saw, and they did all agree that they saw those ghosts above mentioned. I was present and heard and saw the whole of what passed upon that account during the trial of that person who was accused to be the instrument of Satan's malice therein.

Some of the afflicted, as they were striving in their fits in open court, have by invisible means had their wrists bound together with a real cord, so as it could hardly be taken off without cutting. Some afflicted have been found with their arms tied and hanged upon a hook, from whence others have been forced to take them down, that they might not expire in that posture. Some afflicted have been drawn under tables and beds by undiscerned force, so as they could hardly be pulled out.

And one was drawn half way over the side of a well, and with much difficulty recovered back again.


When they were most grievously afflicted, if they were brought to the accused, and the suspected person's hand but laid upon them, they were immediately relieved out of their tortures; but if the accused did but look on them, they were immediately struck down again. Wherefore, they used to cover the face of the accused while they laid their hands on the afflicted, and then it obtained the desired issue. For it hath been experienced both in examinations and trials that so soon as the afflicted came in sight of the accused, they were immediately cast into their fits.

Yea, though the accused were among the crowd of people, unknown to the sufferers, yet on the first view they were struck down; which was observed in a child of four or five years of age, when it was apprehended that so many as she would look upon, either directly or by turning her head, were immediately struck into their fits.

I saw several together thus violently strained and bleeding in their fits, to my very great astonishment that my fellow mortals should be so grievously distressed by the invisible powers of darkness. For certainly all considerate persons who beheld these things must needs be convinced their motions in their fits were preternatural and involuntary, both as to the manner, which was so strange, as a well person could not at least without great pain screw their bodies into; and as to the violence, also, they were preternatural motions, being much beyond the ordinary force of the same persons when they were in their right minds.

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So that, being such grievous sufferers, it would seem very hard and unjust to censure them of consenting to or holding any voluntary converse or familiarity with the devil. They said they were at first, but not so much afterwards. Some of them affirmed they saw the Black-man sit on the gallows, and that he whispered in the ears of some of the condemned persons when they were just ready to be turned off--even while they were making their last speech.

One of the afflicted said she saw him in her fit, and was with him in a glorious place, which had no candle or sun, yet was full of light and brightness, where there was a multitude in 'white, glittering robes,' and they sang the song in Rev. She was both to leave that place and said: 'How long shall I stay here? Let me be along with you. Her father, being by her, endeavored to lay hold of it with her, that she might retain what she had gotten; but at the passing away of the spectre, he had such a violent twitch of his hand as it would have been torn off.

Immediately thereupon appeared in the sufferer's hand the corner of a sheet, a real cloth, visible to the spectators, which as it is said remains still to be seen. It was proved, the records of the time continue, by substantial evidences against one person accused, that he had such an unusual strength though a very little man that he could hold out a gun with one hand, behind the lock, which was near seven foot in the barrel, being such as a lusty man could command with both hands, after the usual manner of shooting.

It was also proved that he lifted barrels of metal and barrels of molasses out of a canoe alone; and that, putting his fingers into a barrel of molasses, full within a finger's length, according to custom, he carried it several paces. And that he put his finger into the muzzle of a gun which was more than five foot in the barrel, and lifted up the butt end thereof, lock, stock and all, without any visible help to raise it. It was also testified that, being abroad with his wife and his wife's brother, he occasionally stayed behind, letting his wife and her brother walk forward; but, suddenly coming up with them, he was angry with his wife for what discourse had passed betwixt her and her brother.

They wondering how he should know it, he said: "I know your thoughts," at which expression they, being amazed, asked him how he could do that, he said: "My God whom I serve makes known your thoughts to me. Some affirmed that there were some hundreds of the society of witches, considerable companies of whom were affirmed to muster in arms by beat of drum.

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In time of examinations and trials, they declared that such a man was wont to call them together from all quarters to witch-meetings, with the sound of a diabolical trumpet. Being brought to see the prisoners at the bar, upon their trials, they swore, in open court, that they had oftentimes seen them at witch meetings, "where was feasting, dancing and jollity, as also at devil sacraments, and particularly that they saw such a man amongst the accursed crew, and affirming that he did minister the sacrament of Satan to them, encouraging them to go on in their way, and that they should certainly prevail.

They said, also, that such a woman was a deacon and served in distributing the diabolical element.

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They affirmed that there were great numbers of the witches. With such sentiments as these prevailing, it is not at all remarkable that the alleged witches were treated with continual and conspicuous-brutality. One old lady of sixty, named Sarah Osburn, was hounded to death for being a witch. The poor old lady, who was in fairly good circumstances, and appears to have been of good character, was put upon her trial for witchcraft.

For three days, more or less ridiculous testimony was given against her, and a number of little children, who had evidently been carefully coached, stated upon the stand that Mrs.

objectifcoaching.com/components/watauga/lieu-de-drague-grenoble.php Osburn had bewitched them. She was called upon by the court to confess, which she declined to do, stating that she was rather a victim than a criminal. She was sent to jail, and treated with so much brutality that she died before it was possible to execute her in the regulation manner. Bridget Bishop was another of the numerous victims. The usual charges were brought against her, and she was speedily condemned to death. Before the sentence was executed, the custom of taking council with the local clergy was followed.

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These good men, while they counseled caution in accepting testimony, humbly recommended the government to the speedy and vigorous prosecution of such as "had rendered themselves obnoxious by infringing the wholesome statutes of the English Nation for the detection of witchcraft. Perhaps the most extraordinary record of witchcraft persecution at the end of the Seventeenth Century was that of Giles Corey and his wife Martha.

The singular feature of the case is, that the husband had been one of the most enthusiastic declaimers against the unholy crime of witchcraft, while his good wife had been rather disposed to ridicule the idea, and to condemn the prosecutions as persecutions. She did her best to prevent Giles from attending trials, and one of the most serious charges against her was that on one occasion she hid the family saddle, so as to prevent her lord and master from riding to one of the examinations.

This attempt to assert woman's rights two hundred years ago was resented very bitterly, and two enthusiastic witch-hunters were sent to her house to entrap her into a confession. On the way they made inquiries, which resulted in their being able to patch up a charge against the woman for walking in ghostly attire during the night. When the detectives called at the house she told them she knew the object of their visit, but that she was no witch, and did not believe there was such a thing.

The mere fact of her knowing the object of their visit was regarded as conclusive evidence against her, although a fair-minded person would naturally suggest that, in view of local sentiment, her guess was a very easy one. The poor woman was immediately arrested and placed on trial. Several little children were examined, and these shouted out in the witness-stand, that when the afflicted woman bit her lip in her grief, they were seized with bodily pains, which continued until she loosened her teeth. The chronicles of the court tell us, with much solemnity, that when the woman's hands were tied her victims did not suffer, but the moment the cords were removed they had fits.


Even her husband was called as a witness against her. His evidence does not appear to have been very important or relevant. But another witness, a Mrs. Pope, who appears to have been an expert in these matters, and to have been called at nearly every trial, took off her shoe in court and threw it at the prisoner's head, an act of indecorum which was condoned on the ground of the evident sincerity of the culprit. The poor woman was condemned, as a matter of course, and when she was removed to jail, a deputation from the church of which she was a member called upon her and excommunicated her.

She mounted the ladder which led to the gallows with much dignity, and died without any attempt to prolong her life by a confession. The fate of her husband was still more terrible. Notwithstanding his zeal, and the fact that he had given evidence against his own wife, he was arrested, charged with a similar offense. Whether hypnotic influences were exerted, or whether the examining justices merely imagined things against the prisoner, cannot be known at this time. The court records, however, state that while the witnesses were on the stand, they were so badly afflicted with fits and hurts, that the prisoner's hands had to be tied before they could continue their testimony.