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Could anything be more realistic than such a representation of a struggle between Satan and a human soul? Although the audience could not see the opponent, the acting, the shrieks, the fainting fits, the very words were such as to carry conviction; and so when the confession at last came, implicating so many, who could help believing it.

Many of the accused confessed themselves witches, but who can blame them? They saw that all who confessed were saved while denials of guilt led to the gallows. It was a question of life or a lie. There was a difference however between Mary Warren and the 55 others who confessed themselves witches. They were remanded to prison while she resumed her old place among the accusing circle.

The foregoing account relates to the preliminary examinations, but the trials do not differ materially from them and do not need detailed description. A special court of Oyer and Terminer was created to try the cases of witchcraft and in its sessions between June 2 and September 19, 1692, it tried and convicted twenty-seven, nineteen of whom were hanged. In the trials Mr. Noyes, pastor at Salem, urged Sarah Good to confess, saying "she was a witch, and that she knew she was a witch.” In her reply one reads the inspiration of one of Hawthorne's stories;—“You are a liar; I am no more a witch, than you are a wizard; and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink.” One can but recall the terrible fatality of the long line of Pyncheons in connection with the end of the man thus cursed. Tradition says he died of internal hemorrhage, bleeding profusely at the mouth.

At the time of the witchcraft delusion the charter of Massachusetts had been revoked; there were no province laws and the trials were held under the statutes of James I. When Giles Corey came up for trial he refused to plead. He knew that there was no hope for justice. To plead guilty was to lie; to enter a plea of not guilty was to be a party to his own murder. By the statutes a person who refused to plead could not be tried and consequently could not be convicted. He was further, the owner of a large farm which he wished to preserve for his relatives, but conviction of a capital crime was accompanied by confiscation of property.

So he had strong reasons for remaining mute. The law had its way of dealing with such obstinacy, but it here met its match. Of the details of his punishment for this contempt of court we know but little, except that gentle measures were tried first and then the English law was followed. He was

laid on his back, a board placed on his chest, upon which were piled stones, each addition to the weight being accompanied with importunities to plead. Says an old ballad:

“More weight' now said this wretched man,
More weight' Giles Corey cryed,
And he did no confession make

But wickedly he dyed." 'And Giles Corey was pressed to death September 19, 1692, in the eighty-second year of his age.

In all probability the executions took place on what is known as Witch or Gallows Hill. It is a high rocky bluff and was chosen, so the story goes, that Satan and his imps could have plenty of room to witness the destruction of their kingdom in the New World. The prisoners were carried to their execution in a cart drawn by a single horse. They were accompanied by a howling mob which attributed every incident to the devil. When the wagon was stuck upon

the steep hill it was the devil who held the wheels; when one was choked by tobacco smoke in his last prayer, of course his Satanic Majesty caused the interruption.

When the court adjourned, Sept. 19, it was with the expectation of meeting again at an early date and ridding the world of more of the whellish brood.” It never met. The executions of September 22 were the last. Sometime later another court was created which tried several and convicted three, but public opinion would not allow them to be hanged. What caused this sudden change is not certain. Probably there were several reasons. People saw there was no safety from the accusing circle. The least scepticism, the least lukewarmness resulted in accusations against the sceptic or against some of his family. Even the wife of the governor was cried out upon.

It seems hardly probable, when the affair started, that the ringleaders had any idea of how far it would go. They probably intended to punish a few of their enemies and then they would stop. But they could not stop. The commission of the first crime necessitated the second.

There was no pe. If the people realized that the whole wretched affair was a conspiracy they would turn against its instigators, so the only hope was to keep up the delusion; and this could only be done by offering new victims. Probably no

Probably no one in all New England was better pleased than Parris when the frenzy ceased, though it was accompanied by a renewal of his old troubles, increased a hundred fold by the enmities he had stirred up.

When the term began all were eager to assist, and one person in Boston aided very materially by instituting suits for slander against those who accused him of witchcraft. The excitement had spread far beyond Salem and witches were discovered as far away as Hartford, but it died out everywhere as soon as it stopped in Salem village.

Exact statistics concerning the extent of the delusion do not exist. When the affair was over all tried to forget it. The records of .the court are very imperfect and there is evidence that documents were inserted at a later date to justify the conspirators if brought to trial for the part they played. Later everything pertaining to the trial was neglected and large numbers of the documents were stolen by curiosity hunters.

As has been mentioned 19 were hanged and one was pressed to death. None were burned as they would have been had the English law been strictly followed. Several more were convicted. 55 confessed themselves guilty. How many were accused no one knows. All the prisons in the province were full and besides many fled to the forest and to New York. The next year Gov. Phipps issued a .proclamation releasing all from the charge of witchcraft, and over 150 came from prison while others were kept longer until they paid their jail dues.

When all was over the lot of the accused was not a happy one. Before they were allowed their freedom all jail 'dues must be paid. Their board while in prison, yes the very shackles which bound them, were charged against them. And when these accounts were settled the home they reached was desolate; for in many cases the sheriff had seized everything.

No adequate reparation could be made for the sufferings caused by these trials. Homes had been desolated, children had been robbed of parents and patrimony. Many others, including one child of five years, had been imprisoned as witches, while still others had their whole lives embittered by the thought that "confessions" extorted from them by a stupid magistrate and a scheming minister had aided in sending an innocent parent to a felon's grave. But little was attempted. After a few years the church expunged its votes of excommunication and nearly twenty years after the affair the legislature granted nearly six hundred pounds to the families of some of the victims.

While it seems as if the Rev. Mr. Parris, Deacon Thomas Putnam, and one or two others must have played the part of conspirators along with the accusing girls, it is certain that others were deluded, going down to their graves fully persuaded of the truth of the charges. Still others, like Judge Sewall, made public confession of their error and humbly craved the pardon of both God and man. Still they must have been willing victims, for it was shown time and time again in the trials that the girls but played the part they pretended was so real. They were seen to bite their arms and then to show the marks as evidence of spectral teeth; to hold pins in the hand and claim that the blood which flowed was from wizard wounds. One of the girls was told that she lied when she accused a certain person. She admitted the charge and said, “you know we must have some fun.” The clergy as a rule were more lukewarm in the prosecution than were the members of the legal profession. To be sure they were largely responsible for its start, but later only Parris, Noyes, and Cotton Mather were active while many were among the first to bring proceedings to a close.

One can hardly help feeling that here, if ever, retributive justice followed those guilty of a crime. We have already mentioned the end of Mr. Noyes. The Rev. Deodat Lawson was an active agent in arousing the people. His death is shrouded in mystery, but in a book of 1727 he is referred to as “the unhappy Mr. Deodat Lawson.” The sheriff and the marshal both died while still young men; Thomas Putnam and his wife lived only to the ages of 47 and 38; while “Ann Putnam jr.” was for many years an invalid. In 1706 she made a confession which while it tacitly admitted the fraudulent nature of the whole proceeding threw the whole responsibility on the devil. · Of the others of the accusing circle but little is known. In an act of the legislature of 1710 is this reference: “Some of the principal accusers and witnesses in those dark and severe prosecutions have since discovered themselves to be persons of profligate and vicious conversation.” One can imagine them descending to any crime in the attempt to forget that dark blot of 1692.

There was no peace for Mr. Parris. As soon as there was the slightest calm in the witchcraft trials the old church quarrel was renewed with far more bitterness than before. His enemies fought at great odds for then church and state were united, but in 1697 he was driven out. He succeeded in getting other churches but always in the smallest and weakest parishes. The remembrance of the part he played followed him everywhere and in his last years he was reduced to absolute want.

Cotton Mather must be mentioned here, for he played a very important though not a conspicuous part in the whole affair. He tells us that he was in Salem but once during the trials, but in one of his letters he explicitly says that he was one of the chief instigators and prosecutors of the delusion, though he endeavored to keep out of sight. A year later he tried to get up another witchcraft craze in Boston, and published a history and defense of the Salem troubles.

Mather was a very ambitious man and in 1692 he was at the zenith of his life, standing an easy first among all the clergy of New England. From that time his life was filled with disappointments. His pre-eminence was gone. The offices he wanted so badly and worked for so assiduously eluded him, while his later years were embittered by rebuffs and open enmity from those around him. His diary of 1724 has been preserved. In it he pours out his inmost soul, and we can see in its pages how keenly he felt the many slights and indignities that had been heaped upon him. He tells us in the

hini. most pathetic language the many things he had tried to do for his fellow man, and with what ingratitude he had been rewarded. People “call their negroes by the name of COTTON MATHER, so that they may, with some shadow of truth, assert crimes as committed by one of that name, which the hearers take to be me.

Where is the man at whom the female sex have spit more of their vemon at? I have cause to question whether there are twice ten in the town but what have, at some time or other, spoken basely of me. There is no man whom the country so loads with disrespect and calumnies and manifold expressions of aversion

Indeed I find some cordial friends, but how fero.

My company is as little sought for, and there is as little resort to it, as any minister that I am acquainted with. This was January 1. His cup was not yet full.

Above all things





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