Salem Witchcraft

Salem Witchcraft
Catalog # SKU1492
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 3.10 lbs
Author Name Charles W. Upham


Salem Witchcraft

With an Account of
Salem Village
A History of Opinions on
Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects

Volumes 1 & 2 in One Book

By Charles W. Upham

IT is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the human being, that he loves to contemplate the scenes of the past, and desires to have his own history borne down to the future. This, like all the other propensities of our nature, is accompanied by faculties to secure its gratification. The gift of speech, by which the parent can convey information to the child-the old transmit intelligence to the young-is an indication that it is the design of the Author of our being that we should receive from those passing away the narrative of their experience, and communicate the results of our own to the generations that succeed us. All nations have, to a greater or less degree, been faithful to their trust in using the gift to fulfil the design of the Giver. It is impossible to name a people who do not possess cherished traditions that have descended from their early ancestors.


Although it is generally considered that the invention of a system of arbitrary and external signs to communicate thought is one of the greatest and most arduous achievements of human ingenuity, yet so universal is the disposition to make future generations acquainted with our condition and history,-a disposition the efficient cause of which can only be found in a sense of the value of such knowledge,-that you can scarcely find a people on the face of the globe, who have not contrived, by some means or other, from the rude monument of shapeless rock to the most perfect alphabetical language, to communicate with posterity; thus declaring, as with the voice of Nature herself, that it is desirable and proper that all men should know as much as possible of the character, actions, and fortunes of their predecessors on the stage of life.

It is not difficult to discern the end for which this disposition to preserve for the future and contemplate the past was imparted to us. If all that we knew were what is taught by our individual experience, our minds would have but little, comparatively, to exercise and expand them, and our characters would be the result of the limited influences embraced within the narrow sphere of our particular and immediate relations and circumstances. But, as our notice is extended in the observation of those who have lived before us, our materials for reflection and sources of instruction are multiplied.

The virtues we admire in our ancestors not only adorn and dignify their names, but win us to their imitation. Their prosperity and happiness spread abroad a diffusive light that reaches us, and brightens our condition. 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.

It is surely incumbent upon us to possess ourselves of correct and just views of a transaction thus indissolubly connected with the reputation of our home, with the memory of our fathers, and, of course, with the most precious part of the inheritance of our children. I am apprehensive that the community is very superficially acquainted with this transaction. All have heard of the Salem witchcraft; hardly any are aware of the real character of that event. Its mention creates a smile of astonishment, and perhaps a sneer of contempt, or, it may be, a thrill of horror for the innocent who suffered; but there is reason to fear, that it fails to suggest those reflections, and impart that salutary instruction, without which the design of Providence in permitting it to take place cannot be accomplished. There are, indeed, few passages in the history of any people to be compared with it in all that constitutes the pitiable and tragical, the mysterious and awful. The student of human nature will contemplate in its scenes one of the most remarkable developments which that nature ever assumed; while the moralist, the statesman, and the Christian philosopher will severally find that it opens widely before them a field fruitful in instruction.

Our ancestors have been visited with unmeasured reproach for their conduct on the occasion. Sad, indeed, was the delusion that came over them, and shocking the extent to which their bewildered imaginations and excited passions hurried and drove them on. Still, however, many considerations deserve to be well weighed before sentence is passed upon them. And while I hope to give evidence of a readiness to have every thing appear in its own just light, and to expose to view the very darkest features of the transaction, I am confident of being able to bring forward such facts and reflections as will satisfy you that no reproach ought to be attached to them, in consequence of this affair, which does not belong, at least equally, to all other nations, and to the greatest and best men of their times and of previous ages; and, in short, that the final predominating sentiment their conduct should awaken is not so much that of anger and indignation as of pity and compassion.

Let us endeavor to carry ourselves back to the state of the colony of Massachusetts one hundred and seventy years ago.

Softcover, 8" x 10.5", 490+ pages with illustrations


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