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[88] parishioner of Cotton Mather, with the royal council,
Chap. XIX.}
was installed in office. The triumph of Cotton Mather
1692.
was perfect. Immediately a court of oyer and terminer was instituted by ordinance, and Stoughton appointed by the governor and council its chief judge: by the 2d of June, the court was in session at Salem, making its first experiment on Bridget Bishop, a poor and friendless old woman. The fact of the witchcraft was assumed as ‘notorious:’ to fix it on the prisoner,
Cotton Mather, Wonders.
Samuel Parris, who had examined her before her commitment, was the principal witness to her power of inflicting torture; he had seen it exercised. Deliverance Hobbs had been whipped with iron rods by her spectre; neighbors, who had quarrelled with her, were
Hale 37
willing to lay their little ills to her charge; the poor creature had a preternatural excrescence in her flesh; ‘she gave a look towards the great and spacious meeting-house of Salem,’—it is Cotton Mather who records this,—‘and immediately a daemon, invisibly entering the house, tore down a part of it.’ She was a witch by the rules and precedents of Keeble and Sir Matthew Hale, of Perkins and Bernard, of Baxter and Cotton Mather; and, on the 10th of June, protesting her innocence, she was hanged. Of the magistrates at that time, not one held office by the suffrage of the people: the tribunal, essentially despotic in its origin, as in its character, had no sanction but an extraordinary and an illegal commission; and Stoughton, the chief judge, a partisan of Andros, had been rejected by the people of Massachusetts. The responsibility of the tragedy, far from attaching to the people of the colony, rests with the very few, hardly five or six, in whose hands the transition state of the government left, for a season, unlimited influence. Into

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