Saturday, February 6, 2021

Increase Mather and witches


The segment from Narratives of the New England Witchcraft Cases wasn't what I expected.  Increase Mather in his essay reminds me a bit of Charles Fort.  I wonder if Fort read him.   I found only one mention in he Mather quote of a witch being executed:

". . . The event was that one of the persons (whose Name was Greensmith) being a lewd and ignorant Woman, and then in Prison on suspicion of Witch-craft, mentioned in the Discourse as active in the mischiefs done and designed, was by the Magistrate sent for; Mr. Whiting and Mr. Hains read what they had written; and the Woman being astonished thereat, confessed those things to be true, and that she and other persons named in this preternatural Discourse, had had familiarity with the Devil: Being asked whether she had made an express Covenant with him, she answered, she had not, only as she promised to go with him when he called, which accordingly she had sundry times done; and that the Devil told her that at Christmass they would have a merry Meeting, and then the Covenant between them should be subscribed. The next day she was more particularly enquired of concerning her Guilt.  respecting the Crime she was accused with.  She then acknowledged, that though when Mr. Hains began to read what he had taken down in Writing, her rage was such that she could have torn him in pieces, and was as resolved as might be to deny her guilt (as she had done before), yet after he had read awhile, she was (to use her own expression) as if her flesh had been pulled from her bones, and so could not deny any longer: She likewise declared, that the Devil first appeared to her in the form of a Deer or Fawn, skipping about her, wherewith she was not much affrighted, and that by degrees he became very familiar, and at last would talk with her.  Moreover, she said that the Devil had frequently the carnal knowledge of her Body.  And that the Witches had Meetings at a place not far from her House; and that some appeared in one shape, and others in another; and one came flying amongst them in the shape of a Crow.  Upon this Confession, with other concurrent Evidence, the Woman was Executed; so likewise was her husband, though he did not acknowledge himself guilty.  Other persons accused in the Discourse made their escape. . . ."

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