Part 25 out of 31
The captain of the Castle, in the storm
Has been struck dead by lightning.
Speak no more.
For as I listen to your voice it seems
As if the Seven Thunders uttered their voices,
And the dead bodies lay about the streets
Of the disconsolate city! Bellingham,
I did not put those wretched men to death.
I did but guard the passage with the sword
Pointed towards them, and they rushed upon it!
Yet now I would that I had taken no part
In all that bloody work.
The guilt of it
Be on their heads, not ours.
Are all set free?
All are at large.
And none have been sent back
To England to malign us with the King?
The ship that brought them sails this very hour,
But carries no one back.
A distant cannon.
What is that gun?
Her parting signal. Through the window there,
Look, you can see her sails, above the roofs,
Dropping below the Castle, outward bound.
O white, white, white! Would that my soul had wings
As spotless as those shining sails to fly with!
Now lay this cushion straight. I thank you. Hark!
I thought I heard the hall door open and shut!
I thought I beard the footsteps of my boy!
It was the wind. There's no one in the passage.
O Absalom, my son! I feel the world
Sinking beneath me, sinking, sinking, sinking!
Death knocks! I go to meet him! Welcome, Death!
Rises, and sinks back dead; his head failing aside upon his
O ghastly sight! Like one who has been hanged!
Endicott! Endicott! He makes no answer!
Raises Endicott's head.
He breathes no more! How bright this signet-ring
Glitters upon his hand, where he has worn it
Through such long years of trouble, as if Death
Had given him this memento of affection,
And whispered in his ear, "Remember me!"
How placid and how quiet is his face,
Now that the struggle and the strife are ended
Only the acrid spirit of the times
Corroded this true steel. Oh, rest in peace,
Courageous heart! Forever rest in peace!
GILES COREY OF THE SALEM FARMS
GILES COREY Farmer.
JOHN HATHORNE Magistrate.
COTTON MATHER Minister of the Gospel.
JONATHAN WALCOT A youth.
RICHARD GARDNER Sea-Captain.
JOHN GLOYD Corey's hired man.
MARTHA Wife of Giles Corey.
TITUBA An Indian woman.
MARY WALCOT One of the Afflicted.
The Scene is in Salem in the year 1692.
Delusions of the days that once have been,
Witchcraft and wonders of the world unseen,
Phantoms of air, and necromantic arts
That crushed the weak and awed the stoutest hearts,--
These are our theme to-night; and vaguely here,
Through the dim mists that crowd the atmosphere,
We draw the outlines of weird figures cast
In shadow on the background of the Past,
Who would believe that in the quiet town
Of Salem, and, amid the woods that crown
The neighboring hillsides, and the sunny farms
That fold it safe in their paternal arms,--
Who would believe that in those peaceful streets,
Where the great elms shut out the summer heats,
Where quiet reigns, and breathes through brain and breast
The benediction of unbroken rest,--
Who would believe such deeds could find a place
As these whose tragic history we retrace?
'T was but a village then; the goodman ploughed
His ample acres under sun or cloud;
The goodwife at her doorstep sat and spun,
And gossiped with her neighbors in the sun;
The only men of dignity and state
Were then the Minister and the Magistrate,
Who ruled their little realm with iron rod,
Less in the love than in the fear of God;
And who believed devoutly in the Powers
Of Darkness, working in this world of ours,
In spells of Witchcraft, incantations dread,
And shrouded apparitions of the dead.
Upon this simple folk "with fire and flame,"
Saith the old chronicle, "the Devil came;
Scattering his firebrands and his poisonous darts,
To set on fire of Hell all tongues and hearts!
And 't is no wonder; for, with all his host,
There most he rages where he hateth most,
And is most hated; so on us he brings
All these stupendous and portentous things!"
Something of this our scene to-night will show;
And ye who listen to the Tale of Woe,
Be not too swift in casting the first stone,
Nor think New England bears the guilt alone,
This sudden burst of wickedness and crime
Was but the common madness of the time,
When in all lands, that lie within the sound
Of Sabbath bells, a Witch was burned or drowned.
SCENE I. -- The woods near Salem Village. Enter TITUBA, with a
basket of herbs.
Here's monk's-hood, that breeds fever in the blood;
And deadly nightshade, that makes men see ghosts;
And henbane, that will shake them with convulsions;
And meadow-saffron and black hellebore,
That rack the nerves, and puff the skin with dropsy;
And bitter-sweet, and briony, and eye-bright,
That cause eruptions, nosebleed, rheumatisms;
I know them, and the places where they hide
In field and meadow; and I know their secrets,
And gather them because they give me power
Over all men and women. Armed with these,
I, Tituba, an Indian and a slave,
Am stronger than the captain with his sword,
Am richer than the merchant with his money,
Am wiser than the scholar with his books,
Mightier than Ministers and Magistrates,
With all the fear and reverence that attend them!
For I can fill their bones with aches and pains,
Can make them cough with asthma, shake with palsy,
Can make their daughters see and talk with ghosts,
Or fall into delirium and convulsions;
I have the Evil Eye, the Evil Hand;
A touch from me and they are weak with pain,
A look from me, and they consume and die.
The death of cattle and the blight of corn,
The shipwreck, the tornado, and the fire,--
These are my doings, and they know it not.
Thus I work vengeance on mine enemies
Who, while they call me slave, are slaves to me!
Exit TITUBA. Enter MATHER, booted and spurred, with a
riding-whip in his hand.
Methinks that I have come by paths unknown
Into the land and atmosphere of Witches;
For, meditating as I journeyed on,
Lo! I have lost my way! If I remember
Rightly, it is Scribonius the learned
That tells the story of a man who, praying
For one that was possessed by Evil Spirits,
Was struck by Evil Spirits in the face;
I, journeying to circumvent the Witches,
Surely by Witches have been led astray.
I am persuaded there are few affairs
In which the Devil doth not interfere.
We cannot undertake a journey even,
But Satan will be there to meddle with it
By hindering or by furthering. He hath led me
Into this thicket, struck me in the face
With branches of the trees, and so entangled
The fetlocks of my horse with vines and brambles,
That I must needs dismount, and search on foot
For the lost pathway leading to the village.
What shape is this? What monstrous apparition,
Exceeding fierce, that none may pass that way?
Tell me, good woman, if you are a woman--
I am a woman, but I am not good,
I am a Witch!
Then tell me, Witch and woman,
For you must know the pathways through this wood,
Where lieth Salem Village?
The village is near by. I'm going there
With these few herbs. I'll lead you. Follow me.
First say, who are you? I am loath to follow
A stranger in this wilderness, for fear
Of being misled, and left in some morass.
Who are you?
I am Tituba the Witch,
Wife of John Indian.
You are Tituba?
I know you then. You have renounced the Devil,
And have become a penitent confessor,
The Lord be praised! Go on, I'll follow you.
Wait only till I fetch my horse, that stands
Tethered among the trees, not far from here.
Let me get up behind you, reverend sir.
The Lord forbid! What would the people think,
If they should see the Reverend Cotton Mather
Ride into Salem with a Witch behind him?
The Lord forbid!
I do not need a horse!
I can ride through the air upon a stick,
Above the tree-tops and above the houses,
And no one see me, no one overtake me.
SCENE II. -- A room at JUSTICE HATHORNE'S. A clock in the
Enter HATHORNE and MATHER.
You are welcome, reverend sir, thrice welcome here
Beneath my humble roof.
I thank your Worship.
Pray you be seated. You must be fatigued
With your long ride through unfrequented woods.
They sit down.
You know the purport of my visit here,--
To be advised by you, and counsel with you,
And with the Reverend Clergy of the village,
Touching these witchcrafts that so much afflict you;
And see with mine own eyes the wonders told
Of spectres and the shadows of the dead,
That come back from their graves to speak with men.
Some men there are, I have known such, who think
That the two worlds--the seen and the unseen,
The world of matter and the world of spirit--
Are like the hemispheres upon our maps,
And touch each other only at a point.
But these two worlds are not divided thus,
Save for the purposes of common speech,
They form one globe, in which the parted seas
All flow together and are intermingled,
While the great continents remain distinct.
I doubt it not. The spiritual world
Lies all about us, and its avenues
Are open to the unseen feet of phantoms
That come and go, and we perceive them not,
Save by their influence, or when at times
A most mysterious Providence permits them
To manifest themselves to mortal eyes.
You, who are always welcome here among us,
Are doubly welcome now. We need your wisdom,
Your learning in these things to be our guide.
The Devil hath come down in wrath upon us,
And ravages the land with all his hosts.
The Unclean Spirit said, "My name is Legion!"
Multitudes in the Valley of Destruction!
But when our fervent, well-directed prayers,
Which are the great artillery of Heaven,
Are brought into the field, I see them scattered
And driven like autumn leaves before the wind.
You as a Minister of God, can meet them
With spiritual weapons: but, alas!
I, as a Magistrate, must combat them
With weapons from the armory of the flesh.
These wonders of the world invisible,--
These spectral shapes that haunt our habitations,--
The multiplied and manifold afflictions
With which the aged and the dying saints
Have their death prefaced and their age imbittered,--
Are but prophetic trumpets that proclaim
The Second Coming of our Lord on earth.
The evening wolves will be much more abroad,
When we are near the evening of the world.
When you shall see, as I have hourly seen,
The sorceries and the witchcrafts that torment us,
See children tortured by invisible spirits,
And wasted and consumed by powers unseen,
You will confess the half has not been told you.
It must be so. The death-pangs of the Devil
Will make him more a Devil than before;
And Nebuchadnezzar's furnace will be heated
Seven times more hot before its putting out.
Advise me, reverend sir. I look to you
For counsel and for guidance in this matter.
What further shall we do?
That as a sparrow falls not to the ground
Without the will of God, so not a Devil
Can come down from the air without his leave.
We must inquire.
Dear sir, we have inquired;
Sifted the matter thoroughly through and through,
And then resifted it.
If God permits
These Evil Spirits from the unseen regions
To visit us with surprising informations,
We must inquire what cause there is for this,
But not receive the testimony borne
By spectres as conclusive proof of guilt
In the accused.
Upon such evidence
We do not rest our case. The ways are many
In which the guilty do betray themselves.
Be careful. Carry the knife with such exactness,
That on one side no innocent blood be shed
By too excessive zeal, and on the other
No shelter given to any work of darkness.
For one, I do not fear excess of zeal.
What do we gain by parleying with the Devil?
You reason, but you hesitate to act!
Ah, reverend sir! believe me, in such cases
The only safety is in acting promptly.
'T is not the part of wisdom to delay
In things where not to do is still to do
A deed more fatal than the deed we shrink from.
You are a man of books and meditation,
But I am one who acts.
God give us wisdom
In the directing of this thorny business,
And guide us, lest New England should become
Of an unsavory and sulphurous odor
In the opinion of the world abroad!
The clock strikes.
I never hear the striking of a clock
Without a warning and an admonition
That time is on the wing, and we must quicken
Our tardy pace in journeying Heavenward,
As Israel did in journeying Canaan-ward!
Then let us make all haste; and I will show you
In what disguises and what fearful shapes
The Unclean Spirits haunt this neighborhood,
And you will pardon my excess of zeal.
Ah, poor New England! He who hurricanoed
The house of Job is making now on thee
One last assault, more deadly and more snarled
With unintelligible circumstances
Than any thou hast hitherto encountered!
SCENE III. -- A room in WALCOT'S House. MARY WALCOT seated in an
arm-chair. TITUBA with a mirror.
Tell me another story, Tituba.
A drowsiness is stealing over me
Which is not sleep; for, though I close mine eyes,
I am awake, and in another world.
Dim faces of the dead and of the absent
Come floating up before me,--floating, fading,
Look into this glass.
What see you?
Nothing but a golden vapor.
Yes, something more. An island, with the sea
Breaking all round it, like a blooming hedge.
What land is this?
It is San Salvador,
Where Tituba was born. What see you now?
A man all black and fierce.
That is my father.
He was an Obi man, and taught me magic,--
Taught me the use of herbs and images.
What is he doing?
Holding in his hand
A waxen figure. He is melting it
Slowly before a fire.
And now what see you?
A woman lying on a bed of leaves,
Wasted and worn away. Ah, she is dying!
That is the way the Obi men destroy
The people they dislike! That is the way
Some one is wasting and consuming you.
You terrify me, Tituba! Oh, save me
From those who make me pine and waste away!
Who are they? Tell me.
That I do not know,
But you will see them. They will come to you.
No, do not let them come! I cannot bear it!
I am too weak to bear it! I am dying.
Fails into a trance.
Hark! there is some one coming!
Enter HATHORNE, MATHER, and WALCOT.
There she lies,
Wasted and worn by devilish incantations!
O my poor sister!
Is she always thus?
Nay, she is sometimes tortured by convulsions.
Poor child! How thin she is! How wan and wasted!
Observe her. She is troubled in her sleep.
Some fearful vision haunts her.
You now see
With your own eyes, and touch with your own hands,
The mysteries of this Witchcraft.
One would need
The hands of Briareus and the eyes of Argus
To see and touch them all.
You now have entered
The realm of ghosts and phantoms,--the vast realm
Of the unknown and the invisible,
Through whose wide-open gates there blows a wind
From the dark valley of the shadow of Death,
That freezes us with horror.
Take her hence!
Take her away from me. I see her there!
She's coming to torment me!
WALCOT (taking her hand.
O my sister!
What frightens you? She neither hears nor sees me.
She's in a trance.
Do you not see her there?
My child, who is it?
Ah, I do not know,
I cannot see her face.
How is she clad?
She wears a crimson bodice. In her hand
She holds an image, and is pinching it
Between her fingers. Ah, she tortures me!
I see her face now. It is Goodwife Bishop!
Why does she torture me? I never harmed her!
And now she strikes me with an iron rod!
Oh, I am beaten!
This is wonderful!.
I can see nothing! Is this apparition
Visibly there, and yet we cannot see it?
It is. The spectre is invisible
Unto our grosser senses, but she sees it.
Look! look! there is another clad in gray!
She holds a spindle in her hand, and threatens
To stab me with it! It is Goodwife Corey!
Keep her away! Now she is coming at me!
Oh, mercy! mercy!
WALCOT (thrusting with his sword.
There is nothing there!
MATHER to HATHORNE.
Do you see anything?
The laws that govern
The spiritual world prevent our seeing
Things palpable and visible to her.
These spectres are to us as if they were not.
Mark her; she wakes.
TITUBA touches her, and she awakes.
Who are these gentlemen?
They are our friends. Dear Mary, are you better?
Weak, very weak.
Taking a spindle from her lap, and holding it up.
How came this spindle here?
You wrenched it from the hand of Goodwife Corey
When she rushed at you.
Mark that, reverend sir!
It is most marvellous, most inexplicable!
TITUBA. (picking up a bit of gray cloth from the floor).
And here, too, is a bit of her gray dress,
That the sword cut away.
It were indeed by far more credulous
To be incredulous than to believe.
None but a Sadducee, who doubts of all
Pertaining to the spiritual world,
Could doubt such manifest and damning proofs!
Are you convinced?
MATHER to MARY.
Dear child, be comforted!
Only by prayer and fasting can you drive
These Unclean Spirits from you. An old man
Gives you his blessing. God be with you, Mary!
SCENE I. -- GILES COREY's farm. Morning. Enter COREY, with a
horseshoe and a hammer.
The Lord hath prospered me. The rising sun
Shines on my Hundred Acres and my woods
As if he loved them. On a morn like this
I can forgive mine enemies, and thank God
For all his goodness unto me and mine.
My orchard groans with russets and pearmains;
My ripening corn shines golden in the sun;
My barns are crammed with hay, my cattle thrive
The birds sing blithely on the trees around me!
And blither than the birds my heart within me.
But Satan still goes up and down the earth;
And to protect this house from his assaults,
And keep the powers of darkness from my door,
This horseshoe will I nail upon the threshold.
Nails down the horseshoe.
There, ye night-hags and witches that torment
The neighborhood, ye shall not enter here!--
What is the matter in the field?--John Gloyd!
The cattle are all running to the woods!--
John Gloyd! Where is the man?
Enter JOHN GLOYD.
What ails the cattle? Are they all bewitched?
They run like mad.
They have been overlooked.
The Evil Eye is on them sure enough.
Call all the men. Be quick. Go after them!
Exit GLOYD and enter MARTHA.
What is amiss?
The cattle are bewitched.
They are broken loose and making for the woods.
Why will you harbor such delusions, Giles?
Bewitched? Well, then it was John Gloyd bewitched them;
I saw him even now take down the bars
And turn them loose! They're only frolicsome.
I was standing in the road,
Talking with Goodwife Proctor, and I saw him.
With Proctor's wife? And what says Goodwife Proctor?
Sad things indeed; the saddest you can hear
Of Bridget Bishop. She's cried out upon!
Poor soul! I've known her forty year or more.
She was the widow Wasselby, and then
She married Oliver, and Bishop next.
She's had three husbands. I remember well
My games of shovel-board at Bishop's tavern
In the old merry days, and she so gay
With her red paragon bodice and her ribbons!
Ah, Bridget Bishop always was a Witch!
They'll little help her now,--her caps and ribbons,
And her red paragon bodice and her plumes,
With which she flaunted in the Meeting-house!
When next she goes there, it will be for trial.
When will that be?
This very day at ten.
Then get you ready. We'll go and see it.
Come; you shall ride behind me on the pillion.
Not I. You know I do not like such things.
I wonder you should. I do not believe
In Witches nor in Witchcraft.
Well, I do.
There's a strange fascination in it all.
That draws me on and on. I know not why.
What do we know of spirits good or ill,
Or of their power to help us or to harm us?
Surely what's in the Bible must be true.
Did not an Evil Spirit come on Saul?
Did not the Witch of Endor bring the ghost
Of Samuel from his grave? The Bible says so.
That happened very long ago.
There is no long ago.
There is with us.
And Mary Magdalene had seven devils,
And he who dwelt among the tombs a legion!
God's power is infinite. I do not doubt it.
If in His providence He once permitted
Such things to be among the Israelites,
It does not follow He permits them now,
And among us who are not Israelites.
But we will not dispute about it, Giles.
Go to the village if you think it best,
And leave me here; I'll go about my work.
[Exit into the house.
And I will go and saddle the gray mare.
The last word always. That is woman's nature.
If an old man will marry a young wife,
He must make up his mind to many things.
It's putting new cloth into an old garment,
When the strain comes, it is the old gives way.
Goes to the door.
Oh, Martha! I forgot to tell you something.
I've had a letter from a friend of mine,
A certain Richard Gardner of Nantucket,
Master and owner of a whaling-vessel;
He writes that he is coming down to see us.
I hope you'll like him.
I will do my best.
That's a good woman. Now I will be gone.
I've not seen Gardner for this twenty year;
But there is something of the sea about him,--
Something so open, generous, large; and strong,
It makes me love him better than a brother.
MARTHA comes to the door.
Oh these old friends and cronies of my husband,
These captains from Nantucket and the Cape,
That come and turn my house into a tavern
With their carousing! Still, there's something frank
In these seafaring men that makes me like them.
Why, here's a horseshoe nailed upon the doorstep!
Giles has done this to keep away the Witches.
I hope this Richard Gardner will bring him
A gale of good sound common-sense to blow
The fog of these delusions from his brain!
Ho! Martha! Martha!
Have you seen my saddle?
I saw it yesterday.
Where did you see it?
On a gray mare, that somebody was riding
Along the village road.
Who was it? Tell me.
Some one who should have stayed at home.
COREY (restraining himself).
Don't vex me, Martha. Tell me where it is.
I've hidden it away.
Go fetch it me.
Go find it.
No. I'll ride down to the village
Bareback; and when the people stare and say,
"Giles Corey, where's your saddle?" I will answer,
"A Witch has stolen it." How shall you like that!
I shall not like it.
Then go fetch the saddle.
If an old man will marry a young wife,
Why then--why then--why then--he must spell Baker!
Enter MARTHA with the saddle, which she throws down.
There! There's the saddle.
Take it up.
MARTHA. I won't!
Then let it lie there. I'll ride to the village,
And say you are a Witch.
No, not that, Giles.
She takes up the saddle.
Now come with me, and saddle the gray mare
With your own hands; and you shall see me ride
Along the village road as is becoming
Giles Corey of the Salem Farms, your husband!
SCENE II. -- The Green in front of the Meeting-house in Salem
village. People coming and going. Enter GILES COREY.
A melancholy end! Who would have thought
That Bridget Bishop e'er would come to this?
Accused, convicted, and condemned to death
For Witchcraft! And so good a woman too!
Good morrow, neighbor Corey.
COREY (not hearing him).
Who is safe?
How do I know but under my own roof
I too may harbor Witches, and some Devil
Be plotting and contriving against me?
He does not hear. Good morrow, neighbor Corey!
Have you seen John Proctor lately?
No, I have not.
Then do not see him, Corey.
Why should I not?
Because he's angry with you.
So keep out of his way. Avoid a quarrel.
Why does he seek to fix a quarrel on me?
He says you burned his house.
I burn his house?
If he says that, John Proctor is a liar!
The night his house was burned I was in bed,
And I can prove it! Why, we are old friends!
He could not say that of me.
He did say it.
I heard him say it.
Then he shall unsay it.
He said you did it out of spite to him
For taking part against you in the quarrel
You had with your John Gloyd about his wages.
He says you murdered Goodell; that you trampled
Upon his body till he breathed no more.
And so beware of him; that's my advice!
By heaven! this is too much! I'll seek him out,
And make him eat his words, or strangle him.
I'll not be slandered at a time like this,
When every word is made an accusation,
When every whisper kills, and every man
Walks with a halter round his neck!
Enter GLOYD in haste.
I came to look for you. The cattle--
What of them? Have you found them?
They are dead.
I followed them through the woods, across the meadows;
Then they all leaped into the Ipswich River,
And swam across, but could not climb the bank,
And so were drowned.
You are to blame for this;
For you took down the bars, and let them loose.
That I deny. They broke the fences down.
You know they were bewitched.
Ah, my poor cattle!
The Evil Eye was on them; that is true.
Day of disaster! Most unlucky day!
Why did I leave my ploughing and my reaping
To plough and reap this Sodom and Gomorrah?
Oh, I could drown myself for sheer vexation!
He's going for his cattle. He won't find them.
By this time they have drifted out to sea.
They will not break his fences any more,
Though they may break his heart. And what care I?
SCENE III. -- COREY's kitchen. A table with supper. MARTHA
He's come at last. I hear him in the passage.
Something has gone amiss with him today;
I know it by his step, and by the sound
The door made as he shut it. He is angry.
Enter COREY with his riding-whip. As he speaks he takes off his
hat and gloves and throws them down violently.
I say if Satan ever entered man
He's in John Proctor!
Giles, what is the matter?
You frighten me.
I say if any man
Can have a Devil in him, then that man
Is Proctor,--is John Proctor, and no other!
Why, what has he been doing?
What do you think I heard there in the village?
I'm sure I cannot guess. What did you hear?
He says I burned his house!
Does he say that?
He says I burned his house. I was in bed
And fast asleep that night; and I can prove it.
If he says that, I think the Father of Lies
Is surely in the man.
He does say that
And that I did it to wreak vengeance on him
For taking sides against me in the quarrel
I had with that John Gloyd about his wages.
And God knows that I never bore him malice
For that, as I have told him twenty times
It is John Gloyd has stirred him up to this.
I do not like that Gloyd. I think him crafty,
Not to be trusted, sullen and untruthful.
Come, have your supper. You are tired and hungry.
I'm angry, and not hungry.
Do eat something.
You'll be the better for it.
COREY (sitting down).
I'm not hungry.
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
It has gone down upon it, and will rise
To-morrow, and go down again upon it.
They have trumped up against me the old story
Of causing Goodell's death by trampling on him.
Oh, that is false. I know it to be false.
He has been dead these fourteen years or more.
Why can't they let him rest? Why must they drag him
Out of his grave to give me a bad name?
I did not kill him. In his bed he died,
As most men die, because his hour had come.
I have wronged no man. Why should Proctor say
Such things bout me? I will not forgive him
Till he confesses he has slandered me.
Then, I've more trouble. All my cattle gone.
They will come back again.
Not in this world.
Did I not tell you they were overlooked?
They ran down through the woods, into the meadows,
And tried to swim the river, and were drowned.
It is a heavy loss.
I'm sorry for it.
All my dear oxen dead. I loved them, Martha,
Next to yourself. I liked to look at them,
And watch the breath come out of their wide nostrils,
And see their patient eyes. Somehow I thought
It gave me strength only to look at them.
And how they strained their necks against the yoke
If I but spoke, or touched them with the goad!
They were my friends; and when Gloyd came and told me
They were all drowned, I could have drowned myself
From sheer vexation; and I said as much
To Gloyd and others.
Do not trust John Gloyd
With anything you would not have repeated.
As I came through the woods this afternoon,
Impatient at my loss, and much perplexed
With all that I had heard there in the village,
The yellow leaves lit up the trees about me
Like an enchanted palace, and I wished
I knew enough of magic or of Witchcraft
To change them into gold. Then suddenly
A tree shook down some crimson leaves upon me,
Like drops of blood, and in the path before me
Stood Tituba the Indian, the old crone.
Were you not frightened?
No, I do not think
I know the meaning of that word. Why frightened?
I am not one of those who think the Lord
Is waiting till He catches them some day
In the back yard alone! What should I fear?
She started from the bushes by the path,
And had a basket full of herbs and roots
For some witch-broth or other,--the old hag.
She has been here to-day.
With hand outstretched
She said: "Giles Corey, will you sign the Book?"
"Avaunt!" I cried: "Get thee behind me, Satan!"
At which she laughed and left me. But a voice
Was whispering in my ear continually:
"Self-murder is no crime. The life of man
Is his, to keep it or to throw away!"
'T was a temptation of the Evil One!
Giles, Giles! why will you harbor these dark thoughts?
I am too tired to talk. I'll go to bed.
First tell me something about Bridget Bishop.
How did she look? You saw her? You were there?
I'll tell you that to-morrow, not to-night.
I'll go to bed.
First let us pray together.
I cannot pray to-night.
Say the Lord's Prayer,
And that will comfort you.
I cannot say,
"As we forgive those that have sinned against us,"
When I do not forgive them.
MARTHA (kneeling on the hearth).
God forgive you!
I will not make believe! I say to-night
There's something thwarts me when I wish to pray,
And thrusts into my mind, instead of prayers,
Hate and revenge, and things that are not prayers.
Something of my old self,--my old, bad life,--
And the old Adam in me rises up,
And will not let me pray. I am afraid
The Devil hinders me. You know I say
Just what I think, and nothing more nor less,
And, when I pray, my heart is in my prayer.
I cannot say one thing and mean another.
If I can't pray, I will not make believe!
[Exit COREY. MARTHA continues kneeling.
SCENE I. -- GILES COREY'S kitchen. Morning. COREY and MARTHA
sitting at the breakfast-table.
Well, now I've told you all I saw and heard
Of Bridget Bishop; and I must be gone.
Don't go into the village, Giles, to-day.
Last night you came back tired and out of humor.
Say, angry; say, right angry. I was never
In a more devilish temper in my life.
All things went wrong with me.
You were much vexed;
So don't go to the village.
No, I won't.
I won't go near it. We are going to mow
The Ipswich meadows for the aftermath,
The crop of sedge and rowens.
Stay a moment,
I want to tell you what I dreamed last night.
Do you believe in dreams?
Why, yes and no.
When they come true, then I believe in them
When they come false, I don't believe in them.
But let me hear. What did you dream about?
I dreamed that you and I were both in prison;
That we had fetters on our hands and feet;
That we were taken before the Magistrates,
And tried for Witchcraft, and condemned to death!
I wished to pray; they would not let me pray;
You tried to comfort me, and they forbade it.
But the most dreadful thing in all my dream
Was that they made you testify against me!
And then there came a kind of mist between us;
I could not see you; and I woke in terror.
I never was more thankful in my life
Than when I found you sleeping at my side!
COREY (with tenderness).
It was our talk last night that made you dream.
I'm sorry for it. I'll control myself
Another time, and keep my temper down!
I do not like such dreams.--Remember, Martha,
I'm going to mow the Ipswich River meadows;
If Gardner comes, you'll tell him where to find me.
So this delusion grows from bad to worse
First, a forsaken and forlorn old woman,
Ragged and wretched, and without a friend;
Then something higher. Now it's Bridget Bishop;
God only knows whose turn it will be next!
The Magistrates are blind, the people mad!
If they would only seize the Afflicted Children,
And put them in the Workhouse, where they should be,
There'd be an end of all this wickedness.
SCENE II. -- A street in Salem Village. Enter MATHER and
Yet one thing troubles me.
And what is that?
May not the Devil take the outward shape
Of innocent persons? Are we not in danger,
Perhaps, of punishing some who are not guilty?
As I have said, we do not trust alone
To spectral evidence.
And then again,
If any shall be put to death for Witchcraft,
We do but kill the body, not the soul.
The Unclean Spirits that possessed them once
Live still, to enter into other bodies.
What have we gained? Surely, there's nothing gained.
Doth not the Scripture say, "Thou shalt not suffer
A Witch to live"?
The Scripture sayeth it,
But speaketh to the Jews; and we are Christians.
What say the laws of England?
They make Witchcraft
Felony without the benefit of Clergy.
Witches are burned in England. You have read--
For you read all things, not a book escapes you--
The famous Demonology of King James?
A curious volume. I remember also
The plot of the Two Hundred, with one Fian,
The Registrar of the Devil, at their head,
To drown his Majesty on his return
From Denmark; how they sailed in sieves or riddles
Unto North Berwick Kirk in Lothian,
And, landing there, danced hand in hand, and sang,
"Goodwife, go ye before! good wife, go ye!
If ye'll not go before, goodwife, let me!"
While Geilis Duncan played the Witches' Reel
Upon a jews-harp.
Then you know full well
The English law, and that in England Witches,
When lawfully convicted and attainted,
Are put to death.
When lawfully convicted;
That is the point.
You heard the evidence
Produced before us yesterday at the trial
Of Bridget Bishop.
One of the Afflicted,
I know, bore witness to the apparition
Of ghosts unto the spectre of this Bishop,
Saying, "You murdered us!" of the truth whereof
There was in matter of fact too much Suspicion.
And when she cast her eyes on the Afflicted,
They were struck down; and this in such a manner
There could be no collusion in the business.
And when the accused but laid her hand upon them,
As they lay in their swoons, they straight revived,
Although they stirred not when the others touched them.
What most convinced me of the woman's guilt
Was finding hidden in her cellar wall
Those poppets made of rags, with headless pins
Stuck into them point outwards, and whereof
She could not give a reasonable account.
When you shall read the testimony given
Before the Court in all the other cases,
I am persuaded you will find the proof
No less conclusive than it was in this.
Come, then, with me, and I will tax your patience
With reading of the documents so far
As may convince you that these sorcerers
Are lawfully convicted and attainted.
Like doubting Thomas, you shall lay your hand
Upon these wounds, and you will doubt no more.
SCENE III. -- A room in COREY's house. MARTHA and two Deacons of
Be seated. I am glad to see you here.
I know what you are come for. You are come
To question me, and learn from my own lips
If I have any dealings with the Devil;
In short, if I'm a Witch.
DEACON (sitting down).
Such is our purpose.
How could you know beforehand why we came?
'T was only a surmise.
We came to ask you,
You being with us in church covenant,
What part you have, if any, in these matters.
And I make answer, No part whatsoever.
I am a farmer's wife, a working woman;
You see my spinning-wheel, you see my loom,
You know the duties of a farmer's wife,
And are not ignorant that my life among you
Has been without reproach until this day.
Is it not true?
So much we're bound to own,
And say it frankly, and without reserve.
I've heard the idle tales that are abroad;
I've heard it whispered that I am a Witch;
I cannot help it. I do not believe
In any Witchcraft. It is a delusion.
How can you say that it is a delusion,
When all our learned and good men believe it,--
Our Ministers and worshipful Magistrates?
Their eyes are blinded and see not the truth.
Perhaps one day they will be open to it.
You answer boldly. The Afflicted Children
Say you appeared to them.
And did they say
What clothes I came in?
No, they could not tell.
They said that you foresaw our visit here,
And blinded them, so that they could not see
The clothes you wore.
The cunning, crafty girls!
I say to you, in all sincerity,
I never have appeared to anyone
In my own person. If the Devil takes
My shape to hurt these children, or afflict them,
I am not guilty of it. And I say
It's all a mere delusion of the senses.
I greatly fear that you will find too late
It is not so.
They do accuse me falsely.
It is delusion, or it is deceit.
There is a story in the ancient Scriptures
Which I much wonder comes not to your minds.
Let me repeat it to you.
We will hear it.
It came to pass that Naboth had a vineyard
Hard by the palace of the King called Ahab.
And Ahab, King of Israel, spake to Naboth,
And said to him, Give unto me thy vineyard,
That I may have it for a garden of herbs,
And I will give a better vineyard for it,
Or, if it seemeth good to thee, its worth
In money. And then Naboth said to Ahab,
The Lord forbid it me that I should give
The inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
And Ahab came into his house displeased
And heavy at the words which Naboth spake,
And laid him down upon his bed, and turned
His face away; and he would eat no bread.
And Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, came
And said to him, Why is thy spirit sad?
And he said unto her, Because I spake
To Naboth, to the Jezreelite, and said,
Give me thy vineyard; and he answered, saying,
I will not give my vineyard unto thee.
And Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, said,
Dost thou not rule the realm of Israel?
Arise, eat bread, and let thy heart be merry;
I will give Naboth's vineyard unto thee.
So she wrote letters in King Ahab's name,
And sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters
Unto the elders that were in his city
Dwelling with Naboth, and unto the nobles;
And in the letters wrote, Proclaim a fast;
And set this Naboth high among the people,
And set two men, the sons of Belial,
Before him, to bear witness and to say,
Thou didst blaspheme against God and the King;
And carry him out and stone him, that he die!
And the elders and the nobles in the city
Did even as Jezebel, the wife of Ahab,
Had sent to them and written in the letters.
And then it came to pass, when Ahab heard
Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose to go
Down unto Naboth's vineyard, and to take
Possession of it. And the word of God
Came to Elijah, saying to him, Arise,
Go down to meet the King of Israel
In Naboth's vineyard, whither he hath gone
To take possession. Thou shalt speak to him,
Saying, Thus saith the Lord! What! hast thou killed
And also taken possession? In the place
Wherein the dogs have licked the blood of Naboth
Shall the dogs lick thy blood,--ay, even thine!
Both of the Deacons start from their seats.
And Ahab then, the King of Israel,
Said, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?
Elijah the Prophet answered, I have found thee!
So will it be with those who have stirred up
The Sons of Belial here to bear false witness
And swear away the lives of innocent people;
Their enemy will find them out at last,
The Prophet's voice will thunder, I have found thee!
SCENE IV. -- Meadows on Ipswich River, COREY and his men mowing;
COREY in advance.
Well done, my men. You see, I lead the field!
I'm an old man, but I can swing a scythe
Better than most of you, though you be younger.
Hangs his scythe upon a tree.
GLOYD (aside to the others).
How strong he is! It's supernatural.
No man so old as he is has such strength.
The Devil helps him!
COREY (wiping his forehead).
Now we'll rest awhile,
And take our nooning. What's the matter with you?
You are not angry with me,--are you, Gloyd?
Come, come, we will not quarrel. Let's be friends.
It's an old story, that the Raven said,
"Read the Third of Colossians and fifteenth."
You're handier at the scythe, but I can beat you
Well, perhaps so. I don't know.
I never wrestled with you. Why, you're vexed!
Come, come, don't bear a grudge.
You are afraid.
What should I be afraid of? All bear witness
The challenge comes from him. Now, then, my man.
They wrestle, and GLOYD is thrown.
ONE OF THE MEN.
That's a fair fall.
'T was nothing but a foil!
You've hurt him!
COREY (helping GLOYD rise).
No; this meadow-land is soft.
You're not hurt,--are you, Gloyd?
No, not much hurt.
Well, then, shake hands; and there's an end of it.
How do you like that Cornish hug, my lad?
And now we'll see what's in our basket here.
The Devil and all his imps are in that man!
The clutch of his ten fingers burns like fire!
COREY (reverentially taking off his hat).
God bless the food He hath provided for us,
And make us thankful for it, for Christ's sake!
He lifts up a keg of cider, and drinks from it.
Do you see that? Don't tell me it's not Witchcraft
Two of us could not lift that cask as he does!
COREY puts down the keg, and opens a basket. A voice is heard
Ho! Corey, Corey!
What is that? I surely
Heard some one calling me by name!
Enter a boy, running, and out of breath.
Is Master Corey here?
Yes, here I am.
O Master Corey!
Your wife--your wife--
What's happened to my wife?
She's sent to prison!
The dream! the dream! O God, be merciful!
She sent me here to tell you.
COREY (putting on his jacket).
Where's my horse?
Don't stand there staring, fellows.
Where's my horse?
Under the trees there. Run, old man, run, run!
You've got some one to wrestle with you now
Who'll trip your heels up, with your Cornish hug.
If there's a Devil, he has got you now.
Ah, there he goes! His horse is snorting fire!
ONE OF THE MEN.
John Gloyd, don't talk so! It's a shame to talk so!
He's a good master, though you quarrel with him.
If hard work and low wages make good masters,
Then he is one. But I think otherwise.
Come, let us have our dinner and be merry,
And talk about the old man and the Witches.
I know some stories that will make you laugh.
They sit down on the grass, and eat.
Now there are Goody Cloyse and Goody Good,
Who have not got a decent tooth between them,
And yet these children--the Afflicted Children--
Say that they bite them, and show marks of teeth
Upon their arms!
ONE OF THE MEN.
That makes the wonder greater.
That's Witchcraft. Why, if they had teeth like yours,
'T would be no wonder if the girls were bitten!
And then those ghosts that come out of their graves
And cry, "You murdered us! you murdered us!"
ONE OF THE MEN.
And all those Apparitions that stick pins
Into the flesh of the Afflicted Children!
Oh those Afflicted Children! They know well
Where the pins come from. I can tell you that.
And there's old Corey, he has got a horseshoe
Nailed on his doorstep to keep off the Witches,
And all the same his wife has gone to prison.
ONE OF THE MEN.
Oh, she's no Witch. I'll swear that Goodwife Corey
Never did harm to any living creature.
She's a good woman, if there ever was one.
Well, we shall see. As for that Bridget Bishop,
She has been tried before; some years ago
A negro testified he saw her shape
Sitting upon the rafters in a barn,
And holding in its hand an egg; and while
He went to fetch his pitchfork, she had vanished.
And now be quiet, will you? I am tired,
And want to sleep here on the grass a little.
They stretch themselves on the grass.
ONE OF THE MEN.
There may be Witches riding through the air
Over our heads on broomsticks at this moment,
Bound for some Satan's Sabbath in the woods
To be baptized.
I wish they'd take you with them,
And hold you under water, head and ears,
Till you were drowned; and that would stop your talking,
If nothing else will. Let me sleep, I say.
SCENE I. -- The Green in front of the village Meeting-house. An
excited crowd gathering. Enter JOHN GLOYD.
Who will be tried to-day?
I do not know.
Here is John Gloyd. Ask him; he knows.
Whose turn is it to-day?
It's Goodwife Corey's.
Giles Corey's wife?
The same. She is not mine.
It will go hard with her with all her praying.
The hypocrite! She's always on her knees;
But she prays to the Devil when she prays.
Let us go in.
A trumpet blows.
Here come the Magistrates.
Who's the tall man in front?
Oh, that is Hathorne,
A Justice of the Court, and a Quarter-master
In the Three County Troop. He'll sift the matter.
That's Corwin with him; and the man in black
Is Cotton Mather, Minister of Boston.
Enter HATHORNE and other Magistrates on horseback, followed by
the Sheriff, constables, and attendants on foot. The Magistrates
dismount, and enter the Meeting-house, with the rest.
The Meeting-house is full. I never saw
So great a crowd before.
No matter. Come.
We shall find room enough by elbowing
Our way among them. Put your shoulder to it.
There were not half so many at the trial
Of Goodwife Bishop.
Keep close after me.
I'll find a place for you. They'll want me there.
I am a friend of Corey's, as you know,
And he can't do without me just at present.
SCENE II. -- Interior of the Meeting-house. MATHER and the
Magistrates seated in front of the pulpit. Before them a raised
platform. MARTHA in chains. COREY near her. MARY WALCOT in a
chair. A crowd of spectators, among them GLOYD. Confusion and
murmurs during the scene.
Call Martha Corey.
I am here.
She ascends the platform.
The Jurors of our Sovereign Lord and Lady
The King and Queen, here present, do accuse you
Of having on the tenth of June last past,
And divers other times before and after,
Wickedly used and practised certain arts
Called Witchcrafts, Sorceries, and Incantations,
Against one Mary Walcot, single woman,
Of Salem Village; by which wicked arts
The aforesaid Mary Walcot was tormented,
Tortured, afflicted, pined, consumed, and wasted,
Against the peace of our Sovereign Lord and Lady
The King and Queen, as well as of the Statute
Made and provided in that case. What say you?
Before I answer, give me leave to pray.
We have not sent for you, nor are we here,
To hear you pray, but to examine you
In whatsoever is alleged against you.
Why do you hurt this person?
I do not.
I am not guilty of the charge against me.
Avoid, she-devil! You may torment me now!
Avoid, avoid, Witch!
I am innocent.
I never had to do with any Witchcraft
Since I was born. I am a gospel woman.
You are a gospel Witch!
MARTHA (clasping her hands).
Ah me! ah me!
Oh, give me leave to pray!
MARY (stretching out her hands).
She hurts me now.
See, she has pinched my hands!
Who made these marks
Upon her hands?
I do not know. I stand
Apart from her. I did not touch her hands.
Who hurt her then?
I know not.
Do you think
She is bewitched?
Indeed I do not think so.
I am no Witch, and have no faith in Witches.
Then answer me: When certain persons came
To see you yesterday, how did you know
Beforehand why they came?
I had had speech;
The children said I hurt them, and I thought
These people came to question me about it.
How did you know the children had been told
To note the clothes you wore?
My husband told me
What others said about it.
Say, did you tell her?
I must speak the truth;
I did not tell her. It was some one else.
Did you not say your husband told you so?
How dare you tell a lie in this assembly?
Who told you of the clothes? Confess the truth.
MARTHA bites her lips, and is silent.
You bite your lips, but do not answer me!
Ah, she is biting me! Avoid, avoid!
You said your husband told you.
Yes, he told me
The children said I troubled them.
Then tell me,
Why do you trouble them?
I have denied it.
She threatened me; stabbed at me with her spindle;
And, when my brother thrust her with his sword,
He tore her gown, and cut a piece away.
Here are they both, the spindle and the cloth.