Salem Witchcraft, Volume I & II

Salem Witchcraft, Volume I & II

by Charles Wentworth Upham

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Salem Witchcraft, Volume I & II by Charles Wentworth Upham

The "Lectures on Witchcraft," published in 1831, have long been out of
print. Although frequently importuned to prepare a new edition, I was
unwilling to issue again what I had discovered to be an insufficient
presentation of the subject. In the mean time, it constantly became
more and more apparent, that much injury was resulting from the want
of a complete and correct view of a transaction so often referred to,
and universally misunderstood.

The first volume of this work contains what seems to me necessary to
prepare the reader for the second, in which the incidents and
circumstances connected with the witchcraft prosecutions in 1692, at
the village and in the town of Salem, are reduced to chronological
order, and exhibited in detail.

As showing how far the beliefs of the understanding, the perceptions
of the senses, and the delusions of the imagination, may be
confounded, the subject belongs not only to theology and moral and
political science, but to physiology, in its original and proper use,
as embracing our whole nature; and the facts presented may help to
conclusions relating to what is justly regarded as the great mystery
of our being,--the connection between the body and the mind.

It is unnecessary to mention the various well-known works of authority
and illustration, as they are referred to in the text. But I cannot
refrain from bearing my grateful testimony to the value of the
"Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society" and the
"New-England Historical and Genealogical Register." The "Historical
Collections" and the "Proceedings" of the Essex Institute have
afforded me inestimable assistance. Such works as these are providing
the materials that will secure to our country a history such as no
other nation can have. Our first age will not be shrouded in darkness
and consigned to fable, but, in all its details, brought within the
realm of knowledge. Every person who desires to preserve the memory of
his ancestors, and appreciate the elements of our institutions and
civilization, ought to place these works, and others like them, on the
shelves of his library, in an unbroken and continuing series. A debt
of gratitude is due to the earnest, laborious, and disinterested
students who are contributing the results of their explorations to the
treasures of antiquarian and genealogical learning which accumulate in
these publications.

A source of investigation, especially indispensable in the preparation
of the present work, deserves to be particularly noticed. In 1647, the
General Court of Massachusetts provided by law for the taking of
testimony, in all cases, under certain regulations, in the form of
depositions, to be preserved _in perpetuam rei memoriam_. The evidence
of witnesses was prepared in writing, beforehand, to be used at the
trials; they to be present at the time, to meet further inquiry, if
living within ten miles, and not unavoidably prevented. In a capital
case, the presence of the witness, as well as his written testimony,
was absolutely required. These depositions were lodged in the files,
and constitute the most valuable materials of history. In our day,
the statements of witnesses ordinarily live only in the memory of
persons present at the trials, and are soon lost in oblivion. In cases
attracting unusual interest, stenographers are employed to furnish
them to the press. There were no newspaper reporters or "court
calendars" in the early colonial times; but these depositions more
than supply their place. Given in, as they were, in all sorts of
cases,--of wills, contracts, boundaries and encroachments, assault and
battery, slander, larceny, &c., they let us into the interior, the
very inmost recesses, of life and society in all their forms. The
extent to which, by the aid of WILLIAM P. UPHAM, Esq., of
Salem, I have drawn from this source is apparent at every page.

A word is necessary to be said relating to the originals of the
documents that belong to the witchcraft proceedings. They were
probably all deposited at the time in the clerk's office of Essex
County. A considerable number of them were, from some cause,
transferred to the State archives, and have been carefully preserved.
Of the residue, a very large proportion have been abstracted from time
to time by unauthorized hands, and many, it is feared, destroyed or
otherwise lost. Two very valuable parcels have found their way into
the libraries of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Essex
Institute, where they are faithfully secured. A few others have come
to light among papers in the possession of individuals.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014928106
Publisher: SAP
Publication date: 07/15/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 788 KB

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