Inasmuch as things are preternatural, and not accomplished without diabolical operation, do more rarely happen, it is a pity but that they should be observed. Several accidents of that kind have happened in New England, which shall here faithfully relate, so far as I have been able to come unto the knowledge of them.
Very remarkable was that Providence wherein Ann Cole of Hartford in New England was concerned. She was, and is accounted, a person of real piety and integrity; nevertheless, in the year 1662, then living in her fathers house (who has likewise been esteemed a godly man), she was taken with very strange fits, wherein her tongue was improved by a daemon to express things which she herself knew nothing of . . . she likewise declared, that the devil first appeared to her in the form of a deer or fawn, skipping about her, wherewith she was not much affrighted, and that by degrees he became very familiar, and at last would talk with her; moreover, she said that the devil had frequently the carnal knowledge of her body; and that the witches had meetings at a place not far from her house; and that some appeared in one shape, and others in another; and one came flying amongst them in the shape of a crow. Upon this confession, with the other concurrent evidence, the woman was executed; so likewise was her husband, though he did not acknowledge himself guilty.
Other persons accused in the discourse made their escape. Thus doth the devil use to serve his clients. After the suspected witches were either executed or fled, Ann Cole was restored to health, and has continued well for many years, approving herself a serious Christian. There were some that had a mind to try whether the stories of witches not being able to sink under water were true; and accordingly a man and woman, mentioned in Ann Cole's Dutch-toned discourse, had their hands and feet tyed, and so were cast into the water, and they both apparently swam after the manner of a buoy, part under, part above the water. A by-stander, imagining that any person bound in that posture would so born up, offered himself for trial; but being in the like manner gently laid on the water, he immediately sunk right down. This was no legal evidence against the suspected persons, nor were they proceeded against on any such account; however, doubting that an halter would choak them, though the waters would not, they very fairly took their flight, not having been seen in that part of the world since. Whether this experiment were lawful, or rather superstitious and magical, we shall enquire afterwards.
acknowledge: recognize executed: killed as a punishment for a crime discourse: conversation buoy: float posture: position evidence: proof proceeded against:
prosecuted in court choak: choke experiment: scientific test enquire: also inquire; find out
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