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On May 14th, the new charter and the royal governor arrived in Boston. On the next Monday, the charter was published, and the parishioner of Cotton Mather, with the royal council, was installed in office. The triumph of Cotton Mather was complete. A court of oyer and terminer was immediately instituted by ordinance, and the positive, overbearing Stoughton was appointed by the governor and council as its chief judge, with Sewall and Wait Winthrop, two feebler men, as his associates. By the second of June, the court was in session at Salem, making its experiment on Bridget Bishop, a poor and friendless old woman. The fact of witchcraft was assumed as "notorious." To fix it on the prisoner, Samuel Parris, who had examined her before her commitment, was the principal witness to her power of inflicting torture. He had seen it exercised. Then came the testimony of the bewitched, and a terrible mess of stuff it was. One, on reading it, might suppose that all the inmates of Bedlam had been summoned into court to give their personal experience in the land of insanity.
Many of the witnesses testified that the “shape of the prisoner often grievously tormented them, by pinching, choking, or biting them, and did otherwise seriously afflict them, urging them all the while to write their names in a book, which “the spectre" called: “Our book."
THE WITCH OF SALEM.
Sarah Williams, who was devotedly attached to Mr. Parris and his cause, swore that it was the shape of this prisoner, with Cora Waters, which one day took her from her wheel and, carrying her to the river side, threatened to drown her, if she did not sign the book mentioned, which she yet refused to do.
Others said that the witch “in her shape,” that is, appearing to them in a spiritual body invisible to any save the parties before whom she would appear, boasted that she had ridden John Bly, having first changed him into a horse. One testified to seeing ghosts of dead people, who declared that Bridget Bishop had murdered them.
While the examination of the accused was in progress, the bewitched seemed extremely tortured. If she turned her eyes on them, they were struck down. While they lay in swoons or convulsions, the
poor old woman was made to touch them, and they immediately sprang to their feet. Samuel Parris had his minions well trained. On any special action of her body, shaking of her head, or the turning of her eyes, they imitated her posture and seemed under some strange spell.
Evidence was given that one of the bewitched persons persuaded a man to strike at the spot where the “shape of this Bishop stood," and the bewitched cried out:
“You have tore her coat," and it was found that the woman's dress was torn in the very place.
Deliverance Hobbs, who had confessed to being a witch, now testified that she was tormented by the spectres for her confession. And she now testified that this Bishop tempted her to sign the book again, and to deny what she had confessed.
“It was the shape of this prisoner,” she declared, “which whipped me with iron rods, to compel me thereunto, and I furthermore saw Bridget Bishop at a general meeting of the witches, in a field at Salem village, where they partook of a diabolical sacrament in bread and wine, then administered."
John Cook testified: “About five or six years ago, one morning, about sunrise, I was in my chamber assaulted by the shape of this prisoner, which looked on me, grinned at me, and very much hurt me with a blow on the side of the head, and on the same day, about noon, the same shape walked into the room where I was, and an apple strangely flew out of my hand.”
Samuel Gray testified: “About fourteen years ago, I waked on a night, and saw the room wherein I lay full of light. Then I plainly saw a woman, between the cradle and the bedside, which looked upon me.
I rose, and it vanished, though I found all the doors fast. Looking out at the
THE WITCH OF SALEM.
entry door, I saw the same woman, in the same garb again, and I said, 'In God's name, what do you come for?'
I went to bed and had the same woman again assaulting me. The child in the cradle gave a great screech, and the woman disappeared. It was long before the child could be quieted; and, though it was a very likely, thriving child, yet from this time it pined away, and, after divers months, died in a sad condition. I knew not Bishop then, nor her name; but when I saw her after this, I knew her by her countenance and apparel and all circumstances, that it was the apparition of this Bishop, which had thus troubled
John Bly testified:
“I bought a sow of Edmund Bishop, the husband of the prisoner, and was to pay the price agreed upon to another person. This prisoner, being angry that she was thus hindered from fingering the money, quarrelled with me; soon after which the sow was taken with strange fits, jumping, leaping and knocking her head against the fence. She seemed blind and deaf and could not eat, whereupon my neighbor John Louder said he believed the creature was overlooked, and there were sundry other circumstances concurred, which made me believe that Bishop had bewitched it.”
The examining magistrates asked Bly:
“Have you ever been transformed by the prisoner?”
“I have,” Bly answered. “When was it?"
"Last summer. One night, as I was coming home late, the shape of the prisoner came at me. She shook a bridle over my head and I became a horse. Then she mounted me, rode me several leagues and the bridle was removed, and I lay in
John Louder, another acquaintance of Charles Stevens, was next called. John had had his experience with witches. He was an ardent admirer of Mr. Parris, and one of his emissaries. Louder, Bly and, in fact, all of Parris' tools were ignorant, bigoted and superstitious. They could be made to believe anything the pastor would tell them. Louder testified:
“I had some little controversy with Bishop about her fowls. Going well to bed, I did awake in the night by moonlight, and did see clearly the likeness of this woman grievously oppressing me; in which miserable condition she held me, unable to help myself till near day. I told Bishop of this; but she denied it, and threatened me very much. Quickly after this, being at home on a Lord's Day, with the doors shut about me, I saw a black pig approach me, at which I, going to kick, it vanished