But a turn was soon given to the current that was bearing Mr. Parris down. A power was evoked—whether he raised it designedly, or whether it merely happened to appear on the scene, we cannot certainly say; but it came into action just at the nick of time—which instantly reversed the position of the parties, and clothed him with a terrible strength, enabling him to crush his opponents beneath his feet. In a few short months, he was the arbiter of life and death of all the people of the village and the country. “Jos: Porter and Jos: Hutchinson” escaped. The power of destruction broke down before it became strong enough to reach them perhaps. “Jos: Putnam” was kept for six months in the constant peril of his life. During all that time, he and his family were armed, and kept watch. “Dan: Andrew” saved himself from the gallows by flight to a foreign land. The unutterable woes brought upon the family of “Francis Nurse” remain to be related.
The witchcraft delusion at Salem Village, in 1692, has attracted universal attention, constitutes a permanent chapter in the world’s history, and demands a full exposition, and, if possible, a true solution. Being convinced that it cannot be correctly interpreted without a thorough knowledge of the people among whom it appeared, I have felt it indispensable, before opening its scenes to view, or treating the subject of demonology, of which it was an outgrowth, in the first place to prepare myself, and those who accompany me in its examination and discussion, to fully comprehend it, by traversing the ground over which we have now passed. By a thorough history of Salem Village from its origin to the period of our story, by calling its founders and their children and successors into life before you by personal, private, domestic, and local details, gleaned from old records and documents, I have tried to place you at the standpoint from which the entire occurrence can be intelligibly contemplated. We can in no other way get a true view of a passage of history than by looking at the men who acted in it, as they really were. We must understand their characters, enter into their life, see with their eyes, feel with their hearts, and be enveloped, as it were, with their associations, sentiments, beliefs, and principles of action. In this way only can we bring the past into our presence, comprehend its elements, fathom its depths, read its meaning, or receive its lessons.
I am confident you will agree with me, that it was not because the people of Salem Village were more ignorant, stupid, or weak-minded than the people of other places, that the delusion made its appearance or held its sway among them. This is a vital point to the just consideration of the subject. I do not mean justice to them so much as to ourselves and all who wish to understand, and be benefited by understanding, the subject. There never was a community composed originally of better materials, or better trained in