Cotton Matherss Wonders of the Invisible World_ An Authoritative - Georgia State University ScholarWorks Georgia State University English Dissertations

Cotton Matherss Wonders of the Invisible World_ An Authoritative

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Unformatted text preview: Georgia State University ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University English Dissertations Department of English 1-12-2005 Cotton Mathers's Wonders of the Invisible World: An Authoritative Edition Paul Melvin Wise Follow this and additional works at: Recommended Citation Wise, Paul Melvin, "Cotton Mathers's Wonders of the Invisible World: An Authoritative Edition." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2005. This Dissertation is brought to you for free and open access by the Department of English at ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University. It has been accepted for inclusion in English Dissertations by an authorized administrator of ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University. For more information, please contact [email protected] COTTON MATHER’S WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD: AN AUTHORITATIVE EDITION by PAUL M. WISE Under the direction of Reiner Smolinski ABSTRACT In Wonders of the Invisible World, Cotton Mather applies both his views on witchcraft and his millennial calculations to events at Salem in 1692. Although this infamous treatise served as the official chronicle and apologia of the 1692 witch trials, and excerpts from Wonders of the Invisible World are widely anthologized, no annotated critical edition of the entire work has appeared since the nineteenth century. This present edition seeks to remedy this lacuna in modern scholarship, presenting Mather’s seventeenth-century text next to an integrated theory of the natural causes of the Salem witch panic. The likely causes of Salem’s bewitchment, viewed alongside Mather’s implausible explanations, expose his disingenuousness in writing about Salem. Chapter one of my introduction posits the probability that a group of conspirators, led by the Rev. Samuel Parris, deliberately orchestrated the “witchcraft” and that a plant, the thorn apple, used in Algonquian initiation rites, caused the initial symptoms of bewitchment (41-193). Chapter two shows that key spectral evidence presented in court records, some recorded by Mather in Wonders, appears to have been generated by phenomena known in folklore as the “hag,” suffocating nightmares formerly thought to be witch visitations, resulting from what is today termed sleep paralysis (219-314). Deliberate dosing with the thorn apple plant, phenomena associated with “hagging,” and life-saving confessions thus account for most of the spectral evidence generated at Salem. Chapter three focuses extensively on Mather’s text as a deceptive rewriting of the Salem court records and related documents on witchcraft that Mather synopsized (324461). The final section posits a “Scythian” or Eurasian connection between Swedish and Salem witchcraft (409-61). Similarities in shamanic practices witnessed among respective indigenous populations of Lapland, Eurasia, Asia, and New England, including the veneration of deer, the use of drumming and hallucinogenic plants to induce trance, and the handing down of family totems, caused Satan’s ongoing involvement in both the visible and invisible worlds to appear more than theoretical to influential seventeenthcentury writers like José Acosta, Johannes Scheffer, Nicholas Fuller, Joseph Mede, Anthony Horneck, inducing Mather to include a lengthy abstract of a Swedish account in Wonders. INDEX WORDS: Cotton Mather, Salem, witchcraft, folklore, folk magic, Paul Wise, Doctor of Philosophy, Georgia State University, Sweden, Swedish witchcraft, Lapland, Algonquian Indians, Native Americans, Samuel Parris, jimson weed, thorn apple, datura stramonium, hag, hagging, Old Hag, Mara, initiation ceremonies, poisoning, nightmares, huskanaw, Wonders of the Invisible World, fly-agaric mushroom, deer, reindeer, Sami, shamanism, drums COTTON MATHER’S WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD: AN AUTHORITATIVE EDITION By PAUL WISE A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy In the College of Arts and Sciences Georgia State University 2005 Copyright by Paul Melvin Wise 2005 COTTON MATHER’S WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD: AN AUTHORITATIVE EDITION By PAUL WISE Major Professor: Reiner Smolinski Committee: John A. Burrison Thomas L. McHaney Electronic Version Approved: Office of Graduate Studies College of Arts and Sciences Georgia State University December 2005 iv DEDICATION To my wife, Sandy, my daughter, Kendra, my parents, Melvin and Emily Wise, my sister, Melanie, and my brother James; and to my friends, Christopher Dean Watts, Marylou Kuestemeyer, and Gilbert and Georgette Fürbringer v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to thank my wife, Sandra, whose support, encouragement, prodding, input, and, ultimately, patience helped me to complete this dissertation. I also wish to thank my daughter, Kendra, for her encouragement, suggestions, insight, and sacrifice during my time in graduate school and while writing this dissertation. I want to thank my parents, Melvin and Emily Wise, for first exposing me to religious and literary studies and travel and for being there when I needed them. I wish to thank my sister, Melanie, for her kindness, encouragement, and support. I wish to thank Christopher Dean Watts, more than time and space will allow, for his friendship and intellectual camaraderie over most of my life and for our many discussions concerning this dissertation and related topics. I want to thank my dissertation chair, Reiner Smolinski, for his direction, confidence, suggestions, information, prophetic insight, sound judgment, encouragement, and understanding. I cannot imagine a better director than he has been. I also wish to thank Dr. John A. Burrison, whose class in material folk culture taught me to think threedimensionally and in directions essential to this dissertation. He has been a great inspiration. I wish to thank both Dr. Burrison and Dr. Thomas L. McHaney for their careful reading of my dissertation and for their valuable comments and suggestions. Thanks also to the director of my MA thesis, Dr. Victor A. Kramer, for his guidance, support, and friendship. I want to thank Dr. Kathy Hassall, Director of the Writing Program at the University for North Florida, for her profound humanity, kindness, and understanding and for allowing me to teach while working on this dissertation. I wish to acknowledge my colleague, Dr. Leslie Kaplan, Assistant Director of the Writing Program vi at the University of North Florida, for suggesting David Hufford’s work, which ended up influencing much in this dissertation. I also with to thank Dr. David J. Hufford and Dr. Beverly Butcher and for sending me the most recent of Dr. Hufford’s work on the phenomena linked to sleep paralysis and nightmares. I also want to thank Dr. Patrick Harding, lecturer at the University of Sheffield, for steering me toward useful information on the use of the fly-agaric mushroom among the Inari Sami of Lapland. My gratitude goes to Dr. Marta Werner—recurrent muse—for her deep and clear perceptiveness, articulate voice, lasting friendship, and encouragement. I wish to thank the reference department at the University of North Florida, especially Sarah Phillips, Jim Alderman, and Barbara Tuck for their assistance in locating materials and making them available to me. I also wish to thank the Interlibrary Loan Department at the University of North Florida, especially Alisa Craddock, for the considerable work done in acquiring materials for my research. Finally, I wish to thank everyone I have ever known or met who has inspired me to initiate and finish this project. Ubi sunt: Where are you? vii Table of Contents Acknowledgements v Preface 1 Chapter 1: Light on Salem I. Mixed Motives 41 43 II. A Means to the End 100 III. The Seeds of Opportunity and the Harvest 163 Notes to Chapter 1 194 Chapter 2: “Between sleepeing & wakeing”: Writing the Night-mare into the Invisible World 219 Notes to Chapter 2 315 Chapter 3: Cotton Mather’s Manipulation of His Sources in The Wonders of the Invisible World 324 I. Jurat in Curia: Cotton Mather’s Manipulation of the Salem Court Papers 331 II. Cotton Mather’s “Rearrangement” of the Witchcraft Guidelines of William Perkins, John Gaule, and Richard Bernard 377 III. Cotton Mather’s Retelling of A Trial of Witches at the Assizes at Bury St. Edmunds 389 IV. Cotton Mather’s Abridgment of Anthony Horneck’s Account of What Happened in the Kingdom of Sweden in the Years 1669, 1670 and Upwards 409 Notes to Chapter 3 462 A Note on the Text 468 Text of The Wonders of the Invisible World 471 viii Notes to The Wonders of the Invisible World 658 Appendix 1: Emendations 778 Appendix 2. Title Pages to the Seventeenth-Century Editions of Cotton Mather’s Wonders of the Invisible World 781 Comprehensive Bibliography 785 ix LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1 A Huskanaw Pen 124 Figure 1.2 The Thorn apple 144 Figure 1.3 Pecos River Cave Painting of Anthropomorphic Figure in Veneration of an Animal-Plant-Spirit 161 Figure 2.1 Olaus Magnus, Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (Description of the Northern Peoples). Rome, 1555. 180. 296 Figure 3.1. Veneration of an Anthropomorphic Reindeer God 422 Figure 3.2. Scandinavian Distribution of Datura Stramonium (Spikklubba) 430 Figure. 3.3. Entering Ecstatic Trance by Way of Drumbeat in Lapland 431 Figure. 3.4. Animal, Religious, and Other Figures on Lapland Drums 440 1 Preface The witch panic at Salem in 1692 was not just the result of a miasma of circumstances coincidentally falling into place but something that was also consciously and deliberately kindled, fueled, and manipulated. A main difference between Salem and previous New England witch trials was in its virulence, magnitude, and scope. It was, as the Reverend John Hale of Beverley put it, “a dark dispensation by the Lord, letting loose upon us the Devil Anno. 1691. & 92. as we never experienced before” (Modest Enquiry [ix]). The Salem episode is in relation to other New England witch trials analogous to the difference between a fire that occurs naturally from a lightning strike followed by the rainstorm that puts it out and an inferno set deliberately in several places on a windy day in dry season to inflict maximum damage. Richard Godbeer perceives that the Salem witchcraft trials were so damaging because they, unlike other New England trials, contained a strong element not only of maleficia but diabolism (Devil’s Dominion 216). This demonic element emerged from the afflictions of several young women. In his household, where the demonic visitations began, the reverend Samuel Parris appears to have deployed two children, his daughter, Elizabeth, and his niece, Abigail Williams, as afflicted accusers. In addition, Parris compelled his female Indian slave, Tituba, to assume the role of accused, accuser, and confessor. Parris used both Tituba and her husband, John Indian, to exploit common beliefs about Indians and their involvement with devils. Parris used traditional associations between females, Indians, and witchcraft to exonerate his actions and turn any finger-pointing away from himself. In addition to manipulating children and slaves, Parris may have taken traditional, linguistic, and 2 biblical associations of witches as poisoners as a starting point in fomenting the Salem witch hunt. Prior historical and contemporary attempts at a theory of what caused the Salem witch outbreak all try to explain in one way or another why the Salem episode was not simply the result of fraud. In that respect, my theory is no exception but relies upon already existing theories. Ironically, it was not the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth, as Cotton Mather thought, but the diabolical actions of the Reverend Samuel Parris and his friend, Thomas Putnam, Jr. and their close allies, along with willfully blind theological and governmental support of those actions, which ministers like Mather defended. Any study of Wonders of the Invisible World must take into consideration the major event that occasioned Cotton Mather’s book—the Salem witchcraft trials. Providing a historical record of trials were the major pretext of Mather’s book, but they almost always remain a subtext overshadowed by broad theological interpretations of witchcraft and events. Only by comparing what actually did happen with Mather’s version of the events can we properly judge his apologia. What appealed to Cotton Mather was that the Salem witch frenzy brought many in New England at once into immanent contact with the invisible world. Proof of the Devil’s wrath was proof of God. Mather took a great interest in investigating and documenting that world, for he had at times what he believed to be first-hand encounters with it himself. He thought himself fortunate to be able to witness and document events as they were occurring. He considered Salem a living laboratory for the recording of illustrious providences that would ultimately instill faith and set New England upon a more righteous path. Mather 3 failed when he let his theology override reason because he considered the two to be identical. Of course, nothing would have happened the way it did in Salem had it not been for the influence of the Bible. As God’s Word, it gave an affirmative answer to the question of the witch’s existence. The source of all legal accusations for witchcraft in the Judeo-Christian world was the Bible, though concepts of witchcraft existed universally long before they became enshrined in its pages. Near the end of the sixteenth century, through the seventeenth century and beyond, the translation and interpretation of just what the Bible meant by witch, and what a witch’s powers were, came under intense scrutiny and philological debate from men like Johann Weyer, Reginald Scot, Henry Holland, King James I, William Perkins, Thomas Ady, John Webster, and Joseph Glanvill. 1 For many centuries no one had been sure exactly what the Hebrew writers meant by the word witch. The notoriously slippery passage, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Ex. 22.18) is at the root of much misunderstanding because ‫מכשפה‬ (Mecassephah), translated witch in the King James Version, rendered φαρμακους (pharmakous) in the Septuagint, and veneficos in the Latin translation of the Septuagint, Editionem Romanam secundum exemplar Vaticanum, all signified poisoner. 2 In this verse, the King James followed its predecessors verbatim: William Tyndale, the Great Bible, the Bishop’s Bible, and the Geneva Bible, all canonized the idea of the malefic witch in league with Satan throughout the English-speaking world. As John Webster commented, the original words had been 4 wrested and drawn to uphold these Tenants by those Translators that had imbibed these Opinions, and so instead of following the true and genuine signification of the words, they haled them to make good a pre-conceived opinion, and did not simply and plainly render them as they ought to have been (106). No English translation acknowledged or alluded to the noun’s more traditional significance as poisoner. They simply ignored this more provocative meaning. Reginald Scot (d. 1599) 3 in his Discoverie of Witchcraft also pointed out that Chasaph (from which the feminine form Mecassephah is taken) is Latinized Veneficium, and Anglicized as poisoning (111-112). According to Scot, Josephus (37-?100 A.D.), in Judeorum Antiquatas, clearly took Chasaph in its Scriptural application to mean poisoners: “Let none of the children of Israel have any poison that is deadlie, or prepared to anie hurtfull use. If any be apprehended with such stuffe, let him be put to death, and suffer that which he meant to doo to them, for whom he prepared it” (qtd. in Scot 111). Jerome, in the Latin Vulgate, translated the word maleficos, one who harms, allowing some room for interpretation. As Reginald Scot complained, though, in all the English translations Chasaph was translated witch or witchcraft. 4 Everyone knew, or thought they knew, what that meant: it was a witch who, through a pact with the devil, was able to inflict harm. Biblical exegete and believer in apparitions and witches, Matthew Poole (1624?-1679), 5 also defined the word as Any person that is in league with the Devil, and by his help either doth any mischief, or discovers and practices things above the reach of other men or 5 women . . . . The word is of the feminine gender, partly because Women are most prone to these Devilish arts, and most frequently guilty of them; and partly to intimate that no pity should be shewed to such offenders, though they were of the weaker sex. (Annotations Ex. 22.18) Another biblical commentator, Edward Leigh 6 (1603-1671), in his influential study of Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible, Critica Sacra (1639, 1642), finds similar significance in Chasaph to that of Poole, adding that “it hath a signification of changing or turning, and is used for unlawfull devilish Arts and Artizens, such as Gods Law condemneth and punisheth with death.” Leigh also notes, however, that the word is applied in the New Testament “to false teachers, and their crafts,” as in Galatians 3.1 and Revelation 18.23 (118). English Protestants were not alone in their translation and interpretation of a diabolical witch, however. The Catholic Rheims Douai translated the term in Exodus 22.18 as Inchanters. Luther, too, rendered the Hebrew noun Die Zauberinnen or sorceresses. Calvin, in his sermon on Deuteronomy 18: 10-15, also took the term to mean sorcerer (qtd. in Kors and Peters 267-68). Sixteenth and seventeenth-century translations of witch thus conferred contemporary meanings upon certain words in Scripture that neither the original Hebrew writers, nor the Septuagint, nor the Latin Vulgate may have originally intended. 7 Speaking of various activities of those called “witches,” such as “magician,” “evil-doer,” “enchanter,” “diviner,” “poisoner,” or even “juggler,” Johann Weyer (1515-1588) 8 claimed that the problem lay with translators, who 6 affirm that these terms denote, without distinction of meaning, the women who are commonly called “witches” or “wise women.” I find . . . that these monstrous persons with their arts, their illusions, and their forbidden forms of divination are represented in differing ways by the Rabbis and the Hebrew interpreters, that our Latin translators use different names to describe them, and that the Greek translation does not agree precisely with the Hebrew or with the Latin translation” (De Praestigiis Demonium 2.1: 93). The English translation of the word witch therefore introduces a whole host of associative meanings that could only lead to abuse. Were those only who practiced malefic acts with poisons to be executed, or were others, like diviners, healers, or those who shared prophetic dreams with others to be destroyed also? Which of the eight different Hebrew words in the Bible concerning magic and divination was meant by the English word witch? 9 To complicate matters more, apparently not even the translators of the Septuagint knew with certainty what the original Hebrew terms meant, much less those who later translated the Bible into Latin or other languages. The origin of the problem with translating witch predates any of the biblical translations. Naturally, the translators of the Authorized Version had reason not to contradict the views of their king, James I, who had expressed his views of Ex. 22:18 and 1 Sam. 28.7 in his treatise, Demonologie, and had ordained the committee for the new translation. It was James who, in his attack on Scot and Weyer in Demonologie (1597), defended interpretations of diabolical witchcraft. Perhaps because of James’s views, and perhaps because the 7 translators, too, had certain views of witchcraft, the King James Version let stand the language of its English predecessors in defining a witch primarily as one who performed harmful acts in league with Satan. James’ influence, English tradition, and both popular and learned culture at the time encouraged translators to underscore the view of a malefic sorceress in league wit...
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