Letter to Nathaniel Higginson
This �letter� appended to an edition of Deodat Lawson�s A Brief and True Narrative, in a reprinted form dated 1692�listed in London Massachusetts Historical card catalog as 1693.A Further Account of the Tryals of the New-England Witches, sent in a Letter from thence, to a Gentleman in London.
Here were in Salem, June 10, 1692, about 40 persons that were afflicted with horrible torments by Evil Spirits, and the afflicted have accused 60 or 70 as Witches, for that they have Spectral appearances of them, tho the Persons are absent when they are tormented. When these Witches were Tried, several of them confessed a contract with the Devil, by signing his Book, and did express much sorrow for the same, delareing also thir Confederate Witches, and said the Tempters of them desired �em to sign the Devils Book, who tormented them till they did it. There were at the time of Examination, before many hundreds of Witnesses, strange Pranks play�d; such as the taking Pins out of the Clothes of the afflicted, and thrusting them into their flesh; many of which were taken out again by the Judges own hands. Thorns also in like kind were thrust into their flesh; the accusers were sometimes struck dumb, deaf, blind, and sometimes lay as if they were dead for a while, and all foreseen and declared by the afflicted just before �twas done. Of the afflicted there were two Girls, about 12 or 13 years of age, who saw all that was done, and were therefore called the Visionary Girls; they would say, Now he, or she, or they, are going to bite, or pinch the Indian; and all there present in Court saw the visible marks on the Indians arms; they would also cry out, Now look, look, they are going to bind such an ones Legs, and all present saw the same person spoken of, fall with her Legs twisted in an extraordinary manner; Now say they, we shall all fall, and immediately 7 or 8 of the afflicted fell down, with terrible shrieks and Out-crys; at the time when one of the Witches was sentenc�d, and pinnion�d with a Cord, at the same time was the afflicted Indian Servant going home, being about 2 or 3 miles out of town, and had both his Wrists at the same instant bound about with a like Cord, in the same manner as she was when she was sentenc�d, but with that violence, that the Cord entered into his flesh, not to be untied, not hardly cut�. Many Murders are suppos�d to be in this way committed; for these Girls, and others of the afflicted, say, they see Coffins, and bodies in Shrowds, rising up, and looking on the accused, crying, Vengeance, Vengeance on the Murderers-- Many other strange things were transacted before the Court in the time of their Examination; and especially one thing which I had like to have forgot, which is this, One of the accus�d, whilst the rest were under Examination, was drawn up by a Rope to the Roof of the house where he was, and would have been choak�d in all probability, had not the Rope been presently cut; the rope hung at the Roof by some invisible tye, for there was no hole where it went up; but after it was cut the remainder of it was found in the Chamber just above, lying by the very place where it hung down.
In December 1692, the Court sate again at Salem in New-England, and cleared about 40 persons suspected for Witches, and Condemned three. The Evidence against these three was the same as formerly, so the Warrant for their Execution was sent, and the Graves digged for the said three, and for about five more that had been Condemned at Salem formerly, but were Repreived by the Governour.
In the beginning of February 1693, the Court sate at Charles-Town, where the Judge exprest himself to this effect.
That who it was that obstructed the Execution of Justice, or hindered those good proceedings they had made, he knew not, but thereby the Kingdom of Satan was advanc�d, &c and the Lord have mercy on this Country; and so declined coming any more into Court. In his absence Mr. D--- sate as Chief Judge 3 several days, in which time 5 or 6 were clear�d by Proclamation, and almost as many by Trial; so that all are acquitted.
The most remarkable was an Old Woman named Dayton, of whom it was said, If any in the World were a Witch, she was one, and had been so accounted 30 years. I had the Curiosity to see her tried; she was a decrepid Woman of about 80 years of age, and did not use many words in her own defence. She was accused by about 30 Witnesses; but the matter alledged against her was such as needed little apology, on her part not one passionate word, or immoral action, or evil, was then objected against her for 20 years past, only strange accidents falling out, after some Christian admonition given by her, as saying, God would not prosper them, if they wrong�d the Widow. Upon the whole, there was not prov�d against her any thing worthy of Reproof, or just admonition, must less so heinous a Charge.
So that by the Goodness of God we are once more out of present danger of this Hobgoblin Monster; the standing Evidence used at Salem were called, but did not appear.
There were others also at Charles-town brought upon their Tryals, who had formerly confess�d themselves to be Witches; but upon their tryals deny�d it, and were all clear�d; So that at present there is no further prosecution of any. Cases.