Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 888 pages of information about Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II.
The wisdom that guided their footsteps becomes, at the same time, a lamp to our path.  The observation of the errors of their course, and of the consequent disappointments and sufferings that befell them, enables us to pass in safety through rocks and ledges on which they were shipwrecked; and, while we grieve to see them eating the bitter fruits of their own ignorance and folly as well as vices and crimes, we can seize the benefit of their experience without paying the price at which they purchased it.

In the desire which every man feels to learn the history, and be instructed by the example, of his predecessors, and in the accompanying disposition, with the means of carrying it into effect, to transmit a knowledge of himself and his own times to his successors, we discover the wise and admirable arrangement of a providence which removes the worn-out individual to a better country, but leaves the acquisitions of his mind and the benefit of his experience as an accumulating and common fund for the use of his posterity; which has secured the continued renovation of the race, without the loss of the wisdom of each generation.

These considerations suggest the true definition of history.  It is the instrument by which the results of the great experiment of human action on this theatre of being are collected and transmitted from age to age.  Speaking through the records of history, the generations that have gone warn and guide the generations that follow.  History is the Past, teaching Philosophy to the Present, for the Future.

Since this is the true and proper design of history, it assumes an exalted station among the branches of human knowledge.  Every community that aspires to become intelligent and virtuous should cherish it.  Institutions for the promotion and diffusion of useful information should have special reference to it.  And all people should be induced to look back to the days of their forefathers, to be warned by their errors, instructed by their wisdom, and stimulated in the career of improvement by the example of their virtues.

The historian would find a great amount and variety of materials in the annals of this old town,—­greater, perhaps, than in any other of its grade in the country.  But there is one chapter in our history of pre-eminent interest and importance.  The witchcraft delusion of 1692 has attracted universal attention since the date of its occurrence, and will, in all coming ages, render the name of Salem notable throughout the world.  Wherever the place we live in is mentioned, this memorable transaction will be found associated with it; and those who know nothing else of our history or our character will be sure to know, and tauntingly to inform us that they know, that we hanged the witches.

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Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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