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Journal of No. 118


April 19th, 2015

More Wonders of the Invisible World, edited by Robert Calef @ 02:41 pm


A while back, I mentioned that I had acquired this. As promised there, rather than risk destroying it with my eye tracks, I found an e-text, which comprises "More wonders of the invisible world / collected by Robert Calef ; and Wonders of the invisible world / by Cotton Mather ; together with notes and explanations by Samuel P. Fowler"

The e-text is quite a struggle at times, since the long s, and various ligatures didn't scan so well. It's also often hard to tell who is speaking, since some of the text is letters written back and forth, and since the e-text contains both Mather's original, and Calef's response (which itself often quotes Mather).

Calef's books is largely a direct attack on Cotton Mather and the Salem Witch Trials. It's kind of interesting since Calef certainly does not suggest that witches don't exist. It's in the Bible, so it's real. And the death penalty is set out very plainly. But what the Bible doesn't do, really, is say what exactly a witch is. All this nonsense about signing names in the Devil's book, and flying on sticks, is just superstition that is not Bible based. If we knew what witches really were, then we'd have a chance to convict them on the evidence, but it's wrong to convict them on peasant superstitions of what witches are.

There is also rather a lot of how-many-angels-can-dance sort of theological argument about whether Satan can grant witches power of his own power. Or whether God allows him to grant these powers. Or whether all powers necessarily come directly from God.

But anyway, on to the blockquotes:

Dr. Elliot informs us that Dr. Increase Mather — who was then president of Harvard College — ordered the wicked book of Calef to be burnt in the college-yard,


Woo! I get to check off banned book on the Book Challenge. Allegedly, Boston publishers wouldn't touch it, so Calef's book was published in London.

the scriptures have not sufficiently, nor at all described the crime of witchcraft, whereby the culpable might be de-tected, though it be positive in the command to punish it by death; hence the world has been from time to time perplexed, in the prosecution of the several diabolical mediums of heathenish and popish invention to detect an imaginary crime (not but that there are witches such as the law of God describes) which has produced a deluge of blood; hereby rendering the commands of God not only void but dangerous.

...

And now, to sum up all in a few words, we have seen a bigoted zeal stirring up a blind and most bloody rage, not against enemies, or irreligious, profligate persons ; but (in judgment of charity, and to view) against: as virtuous and religious as any they have left behind them in this country, which have suffered as evil doers


Internet flame war 1690's style:

Sir, after the sorest affliction and greatest blem-ish to religion that ever befel this country, and after most men began to fear that some undue steps had been taken, and after his excellency (with their Majesties' approbation as is said) had put a stop to [witchcraft] 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 who are ready to attest the truth of it; but not satisfied herewith, I shewed them to some of your [Mather's] particular friends, that so I might have the greater certainty; but was much surprised with the message you sent me, that I should be arrested for slander, and at your calling me one of the worst of liars, making it pulpit news, with the name of pernicious libels,


Oh yeah? Well how do you explain this?

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 judged it several minutes; and it was as much as several of us could do, with all our strength, to pull her down.


Yeah, but.

Such explicit covenant being, as is said, in this age, reckoned essential to complete a witch; yet I finding nothing of such covenant (or power thereby obtained) in scripture, and yet a witch therein so fully described, do pray that if there be any such scriptures I may be directed to them;


</blockquote>whereby twenty suffered as evil doers, (besides those that died in prison) about ten more condemned, and a hundred im-prisoned, and about two hundred more accused, and the country generally in fears when it would come to their turn to be accused; and the prosecution and manner of trial such, that most would have chosen to have fallen into the hands of the barbarous enemy, rather than (under that notion) into the hands of their brethren in church fellowship;</blockquote>

Samuel Parris' notpology.

In that the Lord ordered the late horrid calamity (which afterward plague-like spread in many other places) to break out first in my family, I cannot but look upon as a very sore rebuke, and humbling providence, both to my-self and mine, and desire so we may improve it. 2. In that also in my family were some of both parties, viz. accusers and accused, I look also upon as an aggravation of that rebuke, as an addition of wormwood to the gall.


Crap, I'm fucked, you assholes.

The Lord above knows my innocence then, and likewise doth now, as at the great day will be known by men and angels. I petition to your honours not for my own life, for I know I must die, and my appointed time is set; but the Lord he knows if it be possible that no more innocent blood be shed, which undoubtedly cannot be avoided in the way and course you go in. I question not but your honours do to the utmost of your powers, in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches, and would not be guilty of innocent blood for the world; but by my own innocency I know you are in the wrong way.


People start to realize the problem.

Mr. Dudley Bradstreet, a justice of peace in Andover, having granted out warrants against and committed, thirty or forty to prison, for the supposed witchcrafts, at length saw cause to forbear granting out any more warrants. Soon after which, he and his wife were cried out of; himself was (by them) said to have killed nine persons by witchcraft, and he found it his safest course to make his escape.


The privileges of wealth and pet lawyers can even save you from a witchcraft rap.

A worthy gentleman of Boston being about this time accused by those at Andover, he sent by some particular friends a writ to arrest those accusers in a thousand pound action for defamation, with instructions to them to inform them-selves of the certainty of the proof, in doing which their business was perceived, and from thenceforward the accusations at Andover generally ceased.


Petty grievances and vengeance.

In the trials, when any were indicted for afflicting, pining and wasting the bodies of particular persons by witchcraft, it was usual to hear evidence of matter foreign, and of perhaps twenty or thirty years standing, about oversetting carts, the death of cattle, unkindness to relations, or unexpected accidents befalling after some quarrel.


Stand on your innocence and get executed, confess and be saved.

our nearest and dearest relations, seeing us in that dreadful condition, and knowing our great danger, apprehending that there was no other way to save our lives, as the case was then circumstanced, but by our confessing ourselves to be such and such persons, as the afflicted represented us to be, they out of tender love and pity persuaded us to confess what we did confess. And indeed that confession, that it is said we made, was no other than what was suggested to us by some gentlemen ; they telling US, that we were witches, and they knew it, and we knew it, and they knew that we knew it, which made us think that it was so; and our understanding, our reason and our faculties al-most gone, we were not capable of judging our condition; as also the hard measures they used with us rendered us uncapable of making our defence; but said any thing and every thing which they desired; and most of what we said was but in effect a consenting to what they said. Sometime after, when we were better composed, they telling of us what we had confessed, we did profess that we were innocent, and ignorant of such things. And we hearing that Samuel Wardwell had renounced his confession, and quickly after was condemned and executed, some of us were told that we were going after Wardwell. Mary Ofgood^ Mary Toiler, Deliv. Dane, Abigail Barker, Sarah Wilson, Hannah Tiler.''


George Burroughs was too manly

we notice in the slight rebutting evidence offered by his friends at his trial, convinces us that he lifted the gun, and the barrel of molasses by the power of his own well-strung muscles, and not by any help from the devil, as was supposed by the Mathers, both father and son. Alas ! that a man's own strong arm should thus prove his ruin.... he was accused by nine persons, for extraordinary lifting, and such feats of strength as could not be done without a diabolical assistance;


A certain word looks funny with the long s.

foon after which the fow was taken with flrange fits, jumping, leaping, and knocking her head againfl the fence; fhe feemed blind and deaf, and would neither eat nor be fucked.


Bewitched mare farts.

There was likewise a cluster of depositions, that one Isaac Cummins refusing to lend his mare to the husband of this How, the mare was within a day or two taken in a strange condition. The beast seemed much abused, being bruised, as if she had been running over the rocks, and marked where the bridle went, as if burnt with a red hot bridle. Moreover, one using a pipe of tobacco for the cure of the beast, a blue flame issued out of her, took hold of her hair, and not only spread and burnt on her, but it also flew upwards towards the roof of the barn, and had like to have set the barn on fire. And the mare died very suddenly.


Gross!

Prefently after this he was taken with a swelling in his foot, and then with a pain in his side, and ex- ceedingly tormented. It bred a sore, which was lanced by Dr. Prescot, and several gallons of corruption ran out of it.


Pickman's witch ancestress, by my account, anyway.

Memorandum. This rampant hag, Martha Carrier, was the person of whom the confessions of the witches, and of her own children among the rest, agreed that the devil had promised her she should be queen of hell.


Your evidence stinks.

the oversetting of carts, or the death of cattle ; nor yet excrescences (called teats) nor little bits of rags tied together (called poppets;) much less any perfon's illness, or having their clothes rent, when a spectre has been well hanged; much less the burning the mare's fart, mentioned in the trial of How. None of these being in the least capable of proving the indictment


Bitches.

The accusers are said to have sufFered much by biting, ... but such as had not such bewitched eyes have seen the accusers bite themselves, and then complain of the accused.


Oh, that long s again.

Among the Ghaftly Inftances of the Succefs which thofe Bloody Witches have had, we have feen even fome of their own Children fo dedicated unto the Devil, that in their Infancy it is found the Imps have fucked them, and rendred them venemous to a Prodegy.


'You know what's wrong with this country? This is what happens when a nation turns away from God!'

But inasmuch as the wrath which we endure from this Enemy, will allow us no peace., we may be sure our ways have not pleased the Lord. It is because we have broken the Hedge of God's Precepts, that the Hedge of God's Providence is not so entire as it use to be about us; but Serpents are biting of us. O let us then see our selves, to make our peace with our God, whom we have displeased by our Iniquities


Satan loves parlor tricks.

At another time, a thing like a Bee flew at the Face of the younger Child, the Child fell into a Fit, and at last Vomited up a Two-penny Nail, with a broad Head; affirming, That the Bee brought this Nail, and forced it into her Mouth. The Child would in like manner be assaulted with Flies, which brought crooked Pins unto her, and made her first swallow them, and then Vomit them. She one day caught an Invisible Mouse, and throwing it into the Fire, it flash'd like to Gun-Powder. None besides the Child saw the Mouse, but every one saw the Flash.


Serves the bitch right.

And he mentions a remarkable Story of a young Woman at Stockholm, in the Year 1676, who accused her own Mother of being a Witch; and swore pos-itively, that she had carried her away in the Night; the poor Woman was burnt upon it, professing her Innocency to the last. But though she had been an ill Woman, yet it afterwards prov'd, that she was not [a witch]; for her Daughter came to the Judges, with hideous Lamentations, confessing that she had wronged her, out of a wicked spight against her; whereupon the Judges gave order for her Execution too.


Victim-blaming

John Bradstreet was accused of bewitching a dog, but made his escape, — the dog was hung as a witch.


New Bookchallenge criteria:

✓based on a true story
✓more than 100 years old
✓A memoir (in part)
✓A banned book
 
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Journal of No. 118