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THE universality of the belief in witchcraft carried in its train international belief in the efficacy of persecution as its cure. When one nation led the others were bound to follow, and accordingly we find that every European country to say nothing of non-Christian peoples lent itself vigorously to this form of legalised murder. But so similar are the details of these proceedings that witchcraft might claim to have preceded Volapuk or Esperanto as an international bond. Everywhere the persecution followed the same, or parallel lines, differing only in minor national idiosyncrasies. So far as Catholic countries were in question this was natural enough seeing that all alike drew their inspiration from the same source Innocent VIII.'s Bull; while the Protestants, however much they might object to Papal persecution of their peculiar tenets, heartily agreed with both the purpose and the method of those directed at the common enemy of all.
In France, as elsewhere, the seventeenth century saw the witch-fever rise to its most extravagant height. Though it is difficult to compare them in degree where all alike rose to the highest level of bloodthirstiness the French may be said to have excelled their ancient rivals in thoroughness. Thus the direction of the campaign was in the direct control of either Church or State, rather than being submitted to the ordinary process of the law; they were official rather than local, and witchcraft a religious and political rather than a merely criminal offence. Thus, in 1634, Urbain Grandier, who had satirised Richelieu, was accused, at the Cardinal's direct instigation, of practising the Black Art upon some nuns at Loudun, and was in due course burned at the stake; and many similar cases are recorded. A point in which the French practice differed from the English in the matter of witch-finding was that, while in England the affair was usually entrusted to the care of such comparatively humble persons as Matthew Hopkins, the French Commissioner was an official of importance, and usually, as in the case of Pierre de Lancre, of education. This gentleman, sent as we have seen at the instance of the King, according to his own account, by the Parliament of Bordeaux to investigate the charges of wholesale witchcraft against the inhabitants of the Labourt district in 1608, has himself provided us with illuminating insight into such an official's frame of mind. This is shown even more clearly in his introductory argument than in his book already frequently referred to written to prove the inconstancy of devils and bad angels. Towards this end he sets out to prove the inconstancy of the natives of Labourt and their peculiar liability to Satan's snares. Then he argues that Labourt must, on the face of it, breed an unsettled and inconstant race, being both mountainous and situated on the borders of three kingdoms, France, Spain, and Navarre. Its language, being likewise varied a mixture of French, Spanish, and Basque is in itself another powerful argument. Its inhabitants, again, are for the most part sailors, when they might with better reason be farmers, because they prefer the inconstant sea to the firm, unchanging land. Their long absences, he finds, tends to make their wives unfaithful another powerful impetus towards witchcraft. Although the Commissioner a man of open mind confesses that their dress is not indecent; he has grave doubts about their dances, being not quiet and respectable, but rowdy in the extreme, and accompanied upon the tambourine, an instrument of baleful significance. They live very largely upon apples which may also account for their proneness to forbidden things, the Devil's power over the apple having been recognised ever since the days of Eve. De Lancre even puts forward the assertions of heretical Scottish and English merchants, who have visited Bordeaux to buy wines, and have there assured him that they have often seen large troops of demons heading across the sea straight for Labourt. From all of which the Commissioner concludes that there is scarcely a family in the district but is more or less deeply involved in or connected with witchcraft and its practices.
The same causes which rendered the French persecutions more severe while they lasted, also brought it about that any relaxation of the Governmental attitude diminished them to a greater extent than was the case in England, where witchcraft had a more personal aspect. The armed peasant, who, musket in hand, proved his possession of supernatural powers by defeating the King's best troops led by a Marshall of France, among the bare peaks of the Cevennes, in defence of his detestable heresies, might look for nothing but ruthless extermination as a wizard; but even Governments have human memories, and the humble old woman muttering spells in obscure corners of the kingdom, was apt to be overlooked. Sometimes, too, as the years passed, the Royal Person actually interfered to shield the accused from less official persecution. Thus, when in 1672, a number of shepherds were arrested in Normandy and the Parliament of Rouen prepared for an investigation similar to that previously held at Labourt, the King ordered all the accused to be set at liberty, with salutary effect in dissipating the increasing witch-fever. Some ten years later, however, a Royal edict revived all previous ordinances against sorcery and divination. Many such cases were tried before the "Chambre Ardente," the last being that of a woman named Voisin, condemned for sorcery and poisoning in 1680. The anti-sorcery laws were in force until the mid-eighteenth century, while as proof of the persistence of the superstition we may again quote the case of the Soubervies, in 1850, already referred to.
Germany the land of sentiment, no less than of common sense was not different from her neighbours in her method of regarding the witch. The German, though he protested against the methods of the Inquisition, as applied to himself, could have no objection to its treatment of the witch-question. Cases were sometimes heard in the civil court, but were far more frequently left to the tender mercies of the Church. At the end of the fifteenth century the Inquisitors Sprenger and Kramer taught the whole duty of an Inquisitor in the "Malleus Maleficarum," and found many apt pupils throughout the Empire. Persecutions of unprecedented fierceness broke out in many districts, one of the most striking examples being that at Trier in the second half of the sixteenth century. For many years there had been failure of crops and increasing sterility throughout the land, attributed by many to the increase of witchcraft and the malice of the Devil. In time, so ferocious became the popular antipathy that scarcely any who fell under suspicion had the remotest chance of escape. It was perhaps the most democratic persecution recorded in history; neither rank nor wealth was of the least avail in face of accusation. Canon Linden, an eyewitness, relates that two Burgomasters, several councillors and associate judges, canons of sundry collegiate churches, parish priests and rural deans were among the victims. Dr. Dietrich Flade, judge of the secular court and deputy governor of the city, strove to check the persecution and fell a victim to it for his pains. He was accused, tortured into confessing various crimes of sorcery, and burned at the stake in 1589. A Dutch scholar, Cornelius Loos by name, a reputed disciple of Wierus and tenant of a professorial chair at the Trier University, also ventured to enter a protest against the prevalent madness. Failing in his appeal to the authorities he wrote a book, in which his views were set forth at length. It was seized while in the printers' hands and its author cast into prison. He was, however, released in the spring of 1593 upon uttering a solemn recantation published in book form six years later by Del Rio. Far from curing the barrenness of the land, the persecution only increased it and thus provided its own cure dying down at last when the general poverty prevented the necessary funds being provided for its maintenance.
A pathetic incident is recorded of another formidable outburst of the witch-mania at Bamberg in 1628. The Burgomaster, Johannes Junius, was among those put on trial. In the beginning he denied all the charges against him, but being put to the torture, confessed that he had been present at a witch gathering and a witch-dance and had desecrated the Host. Such a confession, though it spared him further torture, did not, of course, stay his execution. Some little time after, having partially recovered from his first agonies, he was in great distress of mind as to the opinion his dearly-loved daughter should hold of him after his death. With sorely maimed hands he yet managed to scrawl a letter and ensure its reaching her. In it he appeals in agony of heart that she shall not believe the matter of his enforced confession: "Innocent have I come into prison, innocent have I been tortured, and innocent must I die... I confessed only in order to escape the great anguish and bitter torture, such as it was impossible for me longer to bear." Unfortunately the torturers were never satisfied with a confession unless it implicated other people as well, and the case of Junius and some of his friends and neighbours who also suffered formed no exception to the rule.
The Bamberg persecution was succeeded by one at Wurzburg in the following year. Fortunately the noble Jesuit priest and poet, Friedrich von Spee, was appointed confessor of those sentenced to death, and was inspired to write, in 1631, his Cautio Criminalis," which, published anonymously, did much to stem the tide of persecution. "Incredible among us Germans," he begins, "and especially (I blush to say it) among Catholics, are the popular superstitions, envy, calumnies, backbitings, insinuations and the like, which being neither punished by the magistrates nor refuted by the pulpit, first stir up suspicion of witchcraft. All the Divine judgments which God has threatened in Holy Writ are now ascribed to witches. No longer do God or Nature aught, but witches everything."
It was a long time, however, before such enlightened views could obtain universal credence, and it was in Germany that the last European execution for witchcraft took place, so lately as 1793.
The international epidemic did not spread to Sweden till the end of the century, when it broke out, in more than usually eccentric form, in the village of Mohra. It was chiefly remarkable for the number of children concerned. "Four score and five persons, fifteen of them children, were condemned, and most, if not all of them, were burnt and executed. There were besides six-and-thirty children that ran the gauntlet and twenty were whipt on the hands at the Church-door every Sunday for three weeks together." The whole proceedings were, indeed, almost a children's drama and no emanation of childish imagination but was eagerly swallowed by a normally sober and sensible community. Most probably, indeed, the whole affair had its foundation in some myth or folk-story more or less popular in all the local nurseries. Indeed, were we of the present generation to return to the earlier belief in lycanthropy and the ceaseless malignancy of ubiquitous were-wolves, it is easily within the bounds of possibility that "Red Riding Hood," a story which quite conceivably owes its origin to the same superstition, might bring about some similar panic. An imaginative child might easily mix up the grandmother in the story with the wolf who devours her: might thus come to the conclusion that his own grandmother occasionally masqueraded in the form of a wolf: might in time convince himself that he had actually seen her thus transmogrified, and might thus in time bring not only his own venerable relative but those of half the other children in the school that he attended under unpleasant suspicion and not improbably to a more unpleasant death.
The mainstay of the Mohra panic was the sudden belief propagated by the children themselves that some hundreds of them had been brought under the power of the Devil by local witches. The whole community took the alarm, the Government was appealed to, and a Royal Commission embodied to investigate the charges with sanguinary results. It was declared that the witches instructed the children to go to the cross-ways, and there to invoke the Devil, begging him to carry them to the Blockula, the favourite local mountain meeting-place for Sabbaths. Satan, in answering their prayers, appeared in many forms, the most original being that of a man with a red beard, wearing a grey coat, red and blue stockings, a high-crowned hat adorned with ribbons of many colours, and preposterous garters. So attired he must have wanted only a magic pipe to serve as double to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Teutonic legend most nearly recalled by the whole circumstance. He provided the children with mounts and anointed them with unguent composed of the scrapings of altars and the filings of church-clocks. Another account says that the witches accompanied the children, riding with them to the Blockula on men's backs the said men, upon arriving there, being propped against the wall, fast asleep. Now and again they preferred to ride upon posts, or goats transfixed upon spits, and they flew through walls, chimneys, and windows without either injuring themselves or breaking the glass and bricks.
The actual transportation of the children gave rise to many weighty arguments. All the time they asserted they were at the Blockula, their parents declared that they had held them asleep in their arms. It was finally concluded that their nocturnal travels might be either in the flesh or the spirit, according to circumstances. So firmly did many parents credit their children's assertions that a local clergyman determined to watch his little son throughout the night, holding him tightly in his arms; but even this ocular demonstration did not serve to convince the mother.
Upon the Blockula was declared to be a fine house, having a gate painted in very gay colours. Within it were a large banqueting-hall and other rooms. The food served at the banquets consisted of such nourishing fare as coleworts, bacon, and bread, butter, milk and cheese all of them, be it noted, familiar to childish palates, as was the feast of the Lancashire witches quoted elsewhere to the "Informer." Those who attended the Blockula gave birth to sons and daughters, who were married in their turn to each other, their children being toads and serpents. They built houses, but so badly that the walls fell upon them, making them black and blue; they were beaten, abused, and laughed at yet when on one occasion they thought the Devil was dead, the place was filled with wailings and lamentations. As usually happened in such persecutions, the bloodshed at last brought people to their senses perhaps the execution of fifteen children gave their parents pause. At all events, the Commission was in due course dissolved, and the persecution came to a sudden end, though prayers continued to be offered weekly in the church against any other such horrible visitation as indeed they well might!
It is not my intention to give more than a general idea of the most outstanding historic persecutions for, as I have said, they differ only in minor degrees in different times and places. There are, however, yet one other group too striking to be ignored those which raged in the New England Colonies. It might have been supposed, by one unconversant with human nature, that the memory of their own sufferings would have softened the hearts of the colonists when they themselves were in power. The reverse was the case; their enmity against their former oppressors was diverted towards this new channel, gaining force in the process. There is indeed some excuse to be found for their mental attitude. Springing in the most cases from the humbler class, they had many privations and sufferings to endure before they could gain any respite in their newly-settled country to think of progressive education. Their warfare against the Indians might well have given both sides reason to think that the Devil was indeed arrayed upon the side of their enemies and in time the gloomy superstitions of the natives served to buttress the imported beliefs of Europe.
From the beginning of the seventeenth century to the end the settlers had been forced to devote most of their thoughts to means of subsistence alone, and there had been no opportunity for speculative thought to modify ideas which, standing still, became more and more stereotyped. The precarious existence of the infant State also gave its leaders every ground for taking the severest measures towards anything considered to be dangerous to its welfare. As early as 1648, Margaret Jones of Charlestone was accused of practising witchcraft. The charge was "that she was found to have such a malignant touch as many persons, men, women and children whom she stroked or touched in any affliction or displeasure, were taken with deafness or vomiting, or other violent pains or sickness." Governor Winthrop, in whose Journals the account is found, also adds that "in prison there was seen in her arms a little child which ran from her into another room, the officer following it, it vanished."
Margaret Jones was found guilty of the crime of witchcraft, and was hanged according to the law. Soon after her execution her husband wished to go to Barbadoes in a vessel lying in Boston Harbour. He was refused a passage as being the husband of a witch, and thereupon the vessel began to roll as though it would turn over.
Instead of the phenomenon being attributed to the refusal to take an innocent man on board, it was reported to the magistrate, and an officer was sent to arrest Jones. On his exhibiting the warrant for the arrest, the vessel instantly ceased to roll. Jones was thrown into prison, but there is no evidence of his ever having been tried.
In 1655, Ann Hibbins was hanged at Boston for witchcraft; there were witch-executions in different places at ever-decreasing intervals. One of the most interesting cases of witchcraft was that of the Goodwin family in 1688. A full account of this case is given by Cotton Mather, "Minister of the Gospel," in a book which purported to contain "a faithful account of many Wonderful and Surprising Things that have befallen several Bewitched and Possessed Persons in New England." In his own words, in 1689, "There dwells at this time in the South part of Boston a sober and pious man, whose name is John Goodwin, whose Trade is that of a Mason, and whose Wife (to whom a good Report gives a share with him in all the characters of Virtue) has made him the Father of six (now living) children. Of these children all but the eldest, who works with his Father at his calling, and the youngest, who lives yet upon the Breast of its mother, have laboured under the direful effects of a (no less palpable than) stupendous WITCHCRAFT." After explaining the godly and virtuous tendencies of the children and the excellence of their upbringing and religious education, Mather says: "Such was the whole Temper and Courage of the children that there cannot easily be anything more unreasonable than to imagine that a Design to Dissemble could cause them to fall into any of their odd Fits."
In 1688 the eldest daughter, on examining the linen, found that some of it was missing, and questioned the daughter of the washerwoman with regard to it. The washerwoman as might have happened in much later times used very bad language in her daughter's defence, whereupon poor Miss Goodwin "became variously indisposed in her health, and was visited with strange Fits, beyond those that attend an Epilepsy or a Catalepsy, or those that they call the Diseases of Astonishment." Shortly afterwards one of her sisters and two of her brothers were seized in a like manner and "were all four tortured everywhere in a manner so very grievous that it would have broken an heart of stone to have seen their agonies." "Physicians were of no avail. Sometimes they would be Deaf, sometimes Dumb, and sometimes Blind, and often all this at once. One while their Tongues would be drawn down their throats, another while they would be pulled out upon their chins to a prodigious length. They would have their mouths opened into such wideness that their Jaws went out of joint; and anon they would clap together with a force like that of a Strong Spring-Lock. The same would happen to their Shoulder-Blades, and their Elbows and Hand-wrists and several of their Joints. They would at times ly in a benummed condition, and be drawn together as those that are Wed Neck and Heels, and presently be stretched out, yea, drawn Backwards to such a degree it was feared the very skin of their Bellies would have crack'd." There were many other symptoms which Mather relates with zealous satisfaction. At last the distracted father told the Magistrates of his suspicions of the washerwoman Glover. On being examined, she gave such a poor account of herself that she was committed to prison. It was found that she could not say the Lord's Prayer, even when it was repeated to her clause by clause, and when she was committed it was found that all the children "had some present ease." The supposed witch was brought to trial, but, being an Irishwoman, there were difficulties in her understanding the questions, which told very badly against her. Orders were given to search her house, and several small images dolls, perhaps made of rags and stuffed with goat's-hair, were found. The old woman then confessed "that her way to torment the objects of her malice was by rubbing of her Finger with her spittle, and stroaking of those little Images." When one of the images was brought to her, she took it in her hand, and immediately one of the children fell into fits before the whole assembly. Witnesses were easily found against her, one of whom said that Glover had sometimes come down her chimney. After her condemnation the worthy Mather visited her in prison, "but she entertained me with nothing but Irish, which language I have not Learning enough to understand without an Interpreter." On her way to execution she declared that her death would not end the sufferings of the children, as there were more in it besides herself; and so it proved. The children would bark like dogs and purr like cats, and they would fly like geese. "Such is Satanic perversity that if one ordered them to Rub a clean table, they were able to do it without any disturbance; if to rub a dirty Table, presumably they would, with many Torments, be made uncapable." Mather relates that owing to their Bewitchments, holy Books caused them horrible agonies. One girl told him that if she went to read the Bible, her eyes would be strangely twisted and blinded, and her neck presumably broken, but also that if anyone else did read the Bible in the Room, though it were wholly out of her sight, and without the least voice or noise of it, she would be cast into very horrible agonies. "A Popish Book," says Mather, "she would endure very well and also books such as the 'Oxford Tests'" Mather must be forgiven for being a partisan but "my grandfather Cotton's catechism called Milk for Babes' and the Assemblie's Catechism would bring hideous convulsions on the child if she look'd into them." With a certain unconscious jocularity, Mather hopes that he has "not spoilt the credit of the books by telling how much the Devil hated them."
At last Cotton Mather and some devout neighbours kept a day of prayer on behalf of the afflicted children, and gradually "the liberty of the children increased daily more and more, and their vexation abated by degrees," though demons and spirits continued to trouble Boston for some time after.
In 1692 Salem village was the scene of a fierce outbreak against witchcraft, which lasted some 16 months. Cotton Mather attributes it to the Indian "Paw-Maws," but Hutchinson, with his usual common sense, probably hits upon at least one of the real causes. Mather had published a book on witchcraft in 1689. It was strongly recommended in England by Richard Baxter, who a short time later published his own "Certainty of the World of Spirits. This contained a testimony to Mather, and he, in his turn, caused it to be widely circulated in New England. The witch epidemic at Salem occurred but a short time after this and Hutchinson attributes it to "Mr. Baxter's book," and "his and his father's" (i.e., Mather's book and that of his father) and the false principles and frightful stories that "filled the people's mind with great fears and dangerous notions."
The witchcraft scare in Salem began in the house of Mr. Parris, minister of the place, and several other people soon began to act in an unusual manner. "They crept into holes and under chairs and stools. They used antick gestures and spake ridiculous speeches and fell into fits. After some time and a day of prayer kept, the afflicted persons named several that they said they saw in their fits afflicting them, and in particular an Indian woman." The Indian woman, Tihuba was her name, was deposed to have used charms, at the beginning of the outbreak, for the discovery of the witches, but the fact of her being an Indian would probably have been sufficient to cast suspicion upon her. On being beaten and threatened by her master she confessed that she was a witch, and said the Devil urged her to sign a book. Two other women, Osborn and Good, were accused by the Parris children of having bewitched them, and warrants were issued for their arrest. All three were sent to the jail in Boston. Good's little daughter, Dorcas, aged five, was called upon to testify against her mother, and her evidence amounted only to this: "That her mother had 2 birds, one black and one green, and these birds hurt the children and afflicted persons." Sarah Good was sentenced to be hanged. The Rev. Mr. Voyes told her as she stood on the scaffold, "You are a witch and you know you are a witch." She replied, "You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take my life God will give you blood to drink." Sarah Osborn died in prison, and the bill of the Boston jailer for the expenses of both women runs thus:
Tihuba was kept in prison for 13 months and was then sold to pay her prison fees.
The arrest of these three women was followed almost immediately by many more accusations. The arrival of Governor Phips in May, armed with a charter which empowered the general court to erect and constitute judicatories and courts of record, or other courts of which the Governor was to appoint the judges, gave a great impetus to the persecution. Finding the prison full of witches he gave orders for their immediate trial. All through June and July the cases crowded one upon another, and such was the pitch of superstitious terror to which the people of Salem had arrived, that two dogs were put to death for witchcraft. The cases of Martha and Giles Carey, and of Rebecca Nurse, are so well-known that we will rather turn to the trial of Susanna Martin, held in the court of Oyer and terminated at Salem on June 29th, 1692.
Cotton Mather relates of her that: "Susanna Martin, pleading Not Guilty' to the indictment of witchcraft brought in against her, there were produced the evidences of many persons very sensibly and grievously bewitched, who all complained of the prisoner at the bar as the person they believed the cause of their miseries."
At the examination the cast of Susanna's eye was supposed to strike the afflicted people to the ground whether they saw it or not.
Magistrate. Pray what ails these people?
Martin. I don't know.
Mag. But what do you think ails them?
Martin. I don't desire to spend my judgment upon it.
Mag. Don't you think they are bewitched?
Martin. No, I do not think they are.
Mag. Tell us your thoughts about them then.
Martin. No, my thoughts are my own when they are in; but when they are out they are another's. Their master
Mag. Their Master? Who do you think is their Master?
Martin. If they be dealing in the Black Art, you may know as well as I.
Mag. Well. What have you done towards this?
Martin. Nothing at all.
Mag. Why, it is you or your appearance.
Martin. I cannot help it.
Mag. Is it not your Master? How comes your appearance to hurt these?
Martin. How do I know? He that appeared in the shape of Samuel, a glorified Saint, may appear in anyone's shape.
John Allen, of Salisbury, testified that he having refused because of the weakness of his oxen to cart some staves at Susanna Martin's request, she was angry and said, "It had been as good that he had, for his oxen should never do him much more service." The witness answered her, "Dost thou threaten me, thou old witch? I'll throw thee into the brook!" to escape which she flew over the bridge and escaped. From that time various misfortunes happened to his oxen and they ended by swimming out into the sea. Of fourteen good oxen only one was saved, the rest were cast up drowned in different places.
John Atkinson also testified to the bewitching of cattle by Martin, and Bernard Peache said, "that Being in Bed, on a Lord's Day night, he heard a Scrubbing at the Window, whereat he then saw Susanna Martin come in and jumped down upon the floor." She took hold of witness's feet and drew his body up into a heap. For two hours he could neither speak nor stir, but at length he caught her hand and bit three of her fingers to the bone. Whereupon she went down the stairs and out of the door. Snow was lying on the ground and drops of blood were found upon it, as also in a bucket on the left-hand side of the door. The marks of her two feet were found just without the threshold, but there was no sign of them any further off. Another accusation against Susanna was that after a long walk her feet were dry when other people's would have been wet. John Kembal had wished to buy a puppy of Martin, but as she would not let him choose the one he wanted he bought one elsewhere. "Whereupon Susanna Martin replied, 'If I live I'll give him puppies enough.' Within a few days after this, Kembal coming out of the woods, there arose a little cloud in the N.W. and Kembal immediately felt a force upon him that made him not able to avoid running upon the stumps of trees that were before him, albeit that he had a broad plain cartway before him; but though he had his ax also upon his shoulder to endanger him in his Falls, he could not forbear going out of his way to tumble over them. When he came below the Meeting House there appeared unto him a little thing like a Puppy of a Darkish colour, and it shot Backwards and forwards between his Leggs. He had the courage to use all possible Endeavours of cutting it with his ax; but he could not Hit it; the Puppy gave a jump from him and went, as to him it seem'd, into the ground. Going a little further, there appeared unto him a Black Puppy, somewhat bigger than the first, but as Black as a Cole. Its motions were quicker than those of his ax; it flew at his Belly and away; then at his Throat and over his Shoulder one way and then over his Shoulder another. His heart now began to fail him and he thought the Dog would have tore his Throat out. But he recovered himself and called upon God in his Distress; and naming the Name of Jesus Christ, it vanished away at once. The Deponent spoke not one word of these accidents for fear of affrighting his wife. But the next morning Edmund Eliot going into Martin's house, this woman asked him where Kembal was? He Replyed, 'At home abed for aught he knew.' She returned, 'They say he was frighted last night.' Eliot asked, With what?' She answered, 'With Puppies.' Eliot asked when she heard of it, for he had heard nothing of it; she rejoined, About the Town'; altho' Kembal had mentioned the Matter to no creature Living."
Susanna could do nothing against such evidence as this. She was found "Guilty" and executed on July 19th.
In sixteen months nineteen persons were hanged, one (Giles Corry) was pressed to death and eight more were condemned. More than fifty confessed themselves to be witches, a hundred and fifty were in prison and two hundred others were accused. But people were growing weary; and it was thought time to cease the persecutions. By about April, 1693, all those imprisoned were set at liberty, and others who had fled the country were allowed to return home. It is a striking comment that Mr. Parris, in whose house the supposed witchcrafts had begun, was accused by his congregation "that he hath been the beginner and procurer of the sorest afflictions, not to this village only, but to this whole country that did ever befall them," and he was dismissed.