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To John Cotton Holmes/BPL October 20, 1692

October 20, 1692

My kindest and dearest Uncle,

[Mentions sending along a book and invites Cotton�s comments.] There are fourteen worthy ministers that have newly set their hands unto a book now in the press, containing Cases of Conscience about witchcrafts. I did, in my conscience, think that as the humors of this people now run, such a discourse going alone would not only enable our witch-advocates very learnedly to cavil and nibble at the late proceedings against the witches, considered in parcels, while things as they lay in bulk, with their whole dependences, were not exposed; but also everlastingly stifle any further proceedings of justice, and more than so, produce a public and open contest with the judges, who would (tho� beyond the intention of the worthy author and subscribers) find themselves brought unto the bar before the rashest Mobile.

For such cases, and for one more, I did with all the modesty I could use, decline setting my hand unto the book, assigning this reason: that I had already a book in the press which would sufficiently declare my opinion; and such a book, too, as had already passed the censure of the hand which wrote what was then before us.

With what sinful and raging asperity I have been since treated, I had rather forget than relate. Although I challenged the fiercest of my accusers to find the thousandth part of one wrong step taken by me in all these matters, except it were my use of all humble and sober endeavors to prevent such a bloody quarrel between Moses and Aaron as would be Bitterness in the latter end; no other fault has yet been laid before me. At last I have been driven to say, I will yet be more vile! and quoting Math V 9 I have concluded, So, I shall not want a father!

Since the trial of these unworthy treats, the persons that have used them have endeavored such expressions of sweetness toward me as may make me satisfaction. But for the great slander with which they have now filled the country against me, That I run against my own father and all the ministers in the country, merely because I run between them when they are like mad men running against one another, they can make me no reparation; however my God will!

[Expresses confidence that God will bless the purpose of his book]

My friends have now happily gained a point which has been long wished for; even for me to become unconsidered. I confess, things become every day more and more so circumstanced, as if my opportunities of serving my neighbors were after a sort expiring; alas, that I have made no better a use of them, while I had them! I seem now to have little to do, but to die; and oh blessed be the free-grace of God, by whose help, I hope, I can do that! [Asks him to write.] God preserve you, and all yours, from a crafty, busy, prevailing devil. Farewell.

And think on, Your honest cousin,