Calef's soul-killing witches

“The soul-killing witches that deform the body,” Shaks

Explanation: The caption under the engraving is an aptly chosen phrase from Shakespeare’s play The Comedy Errors (Act I, scene 2). The words are spoken by a character who fears that witches are deceiving and cheating him. These fears turn out to be groundless, involving mistaken identities among several characters. The caption is appropriate to Calef’s book which is an attack on the Rev. Cotton Mather’s defense of the Salem witch trials, especially his approval of the use of spectral evidence, which was the basis of the witchcraft convictions. Specters of those accused of witchcraft were said to cause the fits and bodily contortions experienced by the accusers. Later, the spectral visions of the accusers were determined to be delusions caused by the devil, thus ending the witch trials. Back to Images

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