Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

goal; the initiatory step was induced by the Centennial, and where there is any action at all, the progress is not slow. For, “Art is long”—its nature cannot be changed, “an artist needs many seasons for maturing;” and one of the greatest difficulties to be overcome in this country is the impression that talent exempts from labor, instead of being the incentive to it, and a reason to hope it may be rewarded. Hamerton, in one of his popular books, has described the training necessary to become a competent art critic; but what conscientious, incessant labor a professional artist gladly subjects himself to, few appreciate. “Our amateurs,” says Ruskin, "cannot be persuaded but that they may produce some kind of art by their fancy or sensibility, without going through the necessary manual toil. That is entirely hopeless. Without a certain number, and that a very great number of steady acts of hand—a practice as careful and as constant as would be necessary to learn any other manual business—no drawing is possible.' On the other side, the workman and those who employ him are continually trying to produce art by trick or habit of fingers, without using their fancy or sensibility. That is also hopeless. Without mingling of heart-passion with hand-power no art is possible. The highest art unites both in their intensest degrees; the action of the hand at its finest with that of the heart at its fullest." What training schools do we not need before our youth may come to comprehend the exactions of art! Our youth have a respect for manufacture “the work of the hand,” an admiration for applied art “the work of the hand and intelligence,” but for fine art—«the work of hand, head and heart,” the whole powers of the whole man, they have very inadequate appreciation.-Else, the lofty career of artist would beckon them, would become the passion of many a brilliant boy who foolishly fancies that other professions afford greater scope.

See this as we may, it still remains true for all the world that wherever the gentle art guest is cherished, is made at home, the works of man shall put on distinct dignity and beauty, the life of man shall be lifted from the clod; for he shall see himself surrounded by embodied thoughts.

[ocr errors][merged small]

By J. S. KINGSLEY.
[Read before a meeting of the Society, January 15, 1890.)

As we read the ordinary historical references to that insanity which two centuries ago swept over New England, we have but the slightest conception of the sad reality; but in turning over the records preserved in the old court house in Salem the whole tragedy is brought before us with almost the vividness of yesterday.

Salem withcraft has given rise to a considerable literature, but it is to-day out of print and can only be found in the larger libraries. It is my purpose this evening to give a brief outline of the delusion and to make sufficient draughts upon the records to show you the outrageous character of the evidence which condemned twenty persons to death. It is an easy task to detail the events in their chronological order but the psychological aspects of the subject are more difficult. It is almost impossible to say how far the principal actors were innocent and deluded, and how far they were actually guilty of a conspiracy against their fellow men.

That the pastor of Salem village, Samuel Parris, was guilty, seems almost beyond doubt.

Salem witchcraft did not start in the Salem of to-day nor was it confined to the county of which it was the county seat, but Salem has to bear the whole notoriety. Pilgrims to that quaint old city visit the switch house," switch hill,” and are shown the witch documents and the witch pins; but few of them ever visit the actual scene of the excitement or see the other localities made historical by it. The witchcraft delusion of 1692 had its start in Salem village, near Danvers Center, then a part of Salem, a small village of farmers whose center, like that of every New England village of that day, was the church.

Thanks to the care with which New England preserves its town and parish records, we are able to place ourselves en rapport with the Salem of 200 years ago, a condition necessary to fully understand our subject. By the softening effects of time the old Puritans have had their disagreeable features smoothed down and their good points brought into strong relief. It takes but a short time among the old records to change all this, and to show these people as thoroughly human and as rather uncomfortable to live with. We find, indeed, that card playing, dancing and play acting were crimes, that every man was taxed for the support of the church, but we also find gossips then as well as now, we find church members placed in the stocks for drunkenness, and above all we find a spirit of illiberality in matters of religion which would not be tolerated for a moment today. Differences of opinion were not allowed and yet half of the churches were rent with discord.

So it was at Salem village. Ever since the church was founded it was the scene of bickering and quarrel. Three pastors in succession had been forced to resign and in 1692 the fourth, Samuel Parris, was at the crisis of his pastorate. To further complicate matters, both Salem and Ipswich had granted the same land to different colonists, and by a strange coincidence the lines drawn by the land troubles coincided with those caused by the quarrels in the church.

Again we must recall the fact that 200 years ago a belief in witchcraft was universal, while demonology occupied an important position in the literature of the day. A few elements of the prevailing belief will make what follows clearer. Every one believed in a personal devil, a monster of wickedness who employed most of his time in inducing people to sign away their eternity for a little temporal power.

He had his limitations. He could not take the shape of a human being, nor could he harm anyone except through the agency of those who had signed their names in his book with their blood and had thus become covenant witches. It is interesting to note that works on demonology were common and that Mr. Parris had at least one book on the subject.

It is difficult to explain the first appearance of the Salem craze. It may

be that it was at first a mere childish frolic to pass away the winter hours, but it soon became anything but that. All that is known is told us by Robert Calef, writing only six years after

ne trouble began: "It was in the latter end of February, 1691-2 when divers young persons belonging to Mr. Parris' family, and one or two more of the neighborhood began to act in a strange and unusual manner, viz.: As by getting into holes, and creeping under chairs and stools, and to use sundry odd postures and antick gestures, uttering foolish, ridiculous speeches, which neither they themselves nor any others could make sense of. The physicians that were called could assign no reason for this; but it seems that one of them (Dr. Griggs) having recourse to the old shift, told them he was afraid they were bewitched.”

It can readily be imagined that the news of a sensation like this rapidly spread through the small rural community. From far and near the neighbors gathered to see the actions and to condole and pray with the parents. The prominence into which the children were thus brought inspired them to continue their pranks and to outdo their former efforts. They quickly dropped the puerile acts mentioned above and began others far more mysterious. March 11th Mr. Parris invited several ministers to join with him in a day of prayer. During the ceremonies the children were for the most part quiet, but . continues Calef, “one, a girl of 11 or 12 years old, would sometimes seem to be in a convulsion fit, her limbs being twisted several ways, and very stiff, but presently her fit would be over."

Those who began the excitement were Elizabeth, the daughter of Mr. Parris, aged nine; Abigail Williams, his niece, aged 11; Ann Putnam aged 12; truly a precious lot to keep the whole colony in a turmoil for a year and cause the death of twenty innocent persons. Youth may be urged as a partial excuse for them, but what can be said for the others who later joined the accusing circle? Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Mary Walcot were 17; Elizabeth Booth was 18; Sarah Churchill and ary Warren, 20; While Mrs. Ann Putnam and Mrs. Joseph Pope were married women.

The afflicted children were urged to tell who had bewitched them. For a time they were silent but in a few days they accused Tituba, a slave in the family of Mr. Parris. She was arrested and confessed herself a witch and admitted having tortured the children. Two others—Sarah Osborn and Sarah Good—were next accused and quickly arrested. They were both old, unfortunate people whose manner of life was such that the charge against them was readily believed. Unlike Tituba, when brought up for examination in the village church, they denied that they were witches, Sarah Good, says the old record, making her answers "in a very wicked, spiteful manner."

Up to this point it would not be difficult to imagine that the accusing children were responsible for all, but from this time all evidence goes to show that some older person directed the whole affair. There was a method in their madness; the accusations took such direction and the accusers were so little contradictory in their statements that we are forced to believe that some cooler head planned it all and actually drilled the so called afflicted ones in what they were to do and say. The evidence is strong that the pastor, Samuel Parris, was the chief sinner, and upon this supposition the next person "cried out upon was well chosen." It seems as if the prime movers realized that every tendency toward scepticism must be repressed, while if the community could be persuaded that the devil had his followers within the very walls of the church, the subsequent paying off of old scores would be an easy matter.

Martha Corey was a devout woman, well along in years, but being possessed of sound common sense she did not hesitate to express her opinions of the actions at the parsonage. On the 19th of March she was arrested and four days later Rebecca Nourse, an aged lady of acknowledged worth, was also made a prisoner. The probable explanation of the charges against the latter lies in the fact that all of her relatives were on the wrong side in the church and land quarrels. In short, these two, Martha Corey and Rebecca Nourse, are types of all who in the year the delusion raged were charged with witchcraft. Out of the hundreds accused it can be shown in almost every instance that scepticism of the genuiness of the manifestations or opposition to the pastor in the parish quarrels existed.

From this beginning the growth was rapid. In April nineteen were accused; in May thirty-five; but after this the records are imperfect and we have no means of knowing how many were arrested beyond the fact that they amounted to hundreds, and with one exception all upon examination were committed to prison.

These preliminary examinations and the subsequent trials were most outrageous travesties upon justice and to-day one's blood fairly boils as he reads the old records of the most diabolical evidence ever admitted in a court of law. The examinations were held sometimes in the meeting house, sometimes in private dwellings, but all

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »