Thaumatographia Pneumatica

Cotton Mather

The Third Example

In the year 1679 the house of William Morse at Newberry was infested with daemons after a most horrid manner, not altogether unlike the daemons of Tedworth. It would fill many pages to relate all the infestations, but the chief of them were such as these:

Bricks and sticks and stones were often, by some invisible hand, thrown at the house, and so were many pieces of wood; a cat was thrown at the woman of the house and a long staff danced up and down in the chimney. Afterwards, the same long staff was hanged by a line and swung to and fro, and when two persons laid it on the fire to burn it, it was as much as they were able to do with their joint strength to hold it there.

An iron crook was violently, by an invisible hand, hurled about, and a chair flew about the room until at last it lit upon the table where the meat stood ready to be eaten and had spoiled it all, if the people had not with much ado saved a little.

A chest was, by an invisible hand, carried from one place to another, and the doors barricaded, and the keys of the family taken -- some of them from the bunch where they were tied and the rest flying about with a loud noise of their knocking against one another.

For one while the the folks of the house could not sup quietly, but ashes would be thrown into their suppers and on their heads and their clothes; the shoes of one man being left below, one of them was filled with ashes and coals and thrown up after him.

When they were abed, a stone weighing about three pounds was divers times thrown upon them. A box and a board was likewise thrown upon them, and a bag of hops, being taken out a chest, they were, by the invisible hand, beaten therewith 'til some of the hops were scattered on the floor, where the bag was then laid and left.

The man was often struck by that hand with several instruments, and the same hand cast their good things into the fire. Yea, while the man was at prayer with his household a beesom gave him a blow on his nead behind and fell down before his face. When they were winnowing their barley, dirt was thrown at them, and assaying to fill their half bushel with corn, the foul corn would be thrown in with the clean so irresistibly that they were forced thereby to give over what they were about.

While the man was writing his inkhorn was, by an invisible hand, snatched from him, and being able nowhere to find it, he saw it at length drop out of the air down by the fire. A shoe was laid upon his shoulder, but when he would have catched it, it was rapt from him. It was then clapped upon his head, and there he held it so fast that the unseen fury pulled him with it backward on the floor. He had his cap torn off his head, and in the night he was pulled by the hair and pinched and scratched and the invisible hand pricked him with some of his awls and with needles and bodkins, and blows that fetched blood were sometimes given him. Frozen clods of cow dung were often thrown at the man, and his wife, going to milk the cows, they could by no means preserve the vessels of milk from the like annoyances, which made it fit only for the hogs.

She going down into the cellar, the trapdoor was immediately, by an invisible hand, shut upon her and a tbale brought and laid upon the door, which kept her there until the man removed it.

When he was writing another time, a dish went and leapt into a pail and cast water on the man and on all the concerns before him so as to defeat what he was then upon. His cap jumped off his head and on again, and the pot lid went off the pot into the kettle, then over the fire together.

A little boy belonging to the family was a principle sufferer in these molestations, for he was flung about at such a rate that they feared his brains would have been beaten out; nor did they find it possible to hold him. His bedclothes were pulled from him, his bed shaken, and his bedstaff leap forward and backward. The man took him to keep him in a chair, but the chair fell a-dancing and both of them were very near being thrown into the fire.

These, and a thousand such vexations, befalling the boy at home, they carried him to live abroad at a doctor's. There he was quiet, but returning home he suddenly cried out he was pricked on the back, where they found strangely sticking a three-tined fork which belonged unto the doctor and had been seen at his house after the boy's departure. Afterwards, his troublers found him out at the doctor's also where, crying out again he was pricked on the back, they found an iron spindle stuck into him, and on the like cry out again they found pins in a paper stuck into him, and once more a long iron, a bowl of a spoon, and a piece of panshred in like stuck upon him. He was taken out of his bed and thrown under it, and all the knives belonging to the house were, one after another, stuck into his back, which the spectators pulled out, only one of them seemed unto the spectators to come out of his mouth. The poor boy was divers times thrown into the fire and preserved from scorching there with much ado. For a long while he barked like a dog, and then he clucked like a hen and could not speak rationally. His tongue would be pulled out of his mouth, but when he could recover it so far as to speak he complained that a man called P----l appeared unto him as the cause of all.

Once, in the daytime, he was transported where none could find him, 'til at last they found him creeping on one side and sadly dumb and lame. When he was able to express himself he said that P----l had carried him over the top of the house and hurled him against a cartwheel in the barn, and accordingly they found some remainders of the threshed barley, which was on the barn floor, hanging about his garments.

The spectre would make all his meat, when he was going to eat, fly out of his mouth and instead thereof make him fall to eating of ashes and sticks and yarn. The man and his wife, taking the boy to bed with them, a chamber pot and its contents was thrown upon them; they were severely pinched and pulled out of the bed, and many other fruits of devilish spite were they dogged withal until it please God mercifully to shorten the chain of the devil. But before the devil was chained up, the invisible hand, which did all these things, began to put on an astonishing visibility.

They often thought they felt the hand that scratched them, while yet they saw it not; but when they thought they had hold of it, it would give them the slip. Once, the fist beating the man was discernible, but they could not catch hold of it. At length an apparition of a Blackamoor child showed itself plainly to them, and another time a drumming on the boards was heard, which was followed with a voice that sang, "Revenge! Revenge! Sweet is revenge!" At this, the people, being terrified, called upon God, whereupon there followed a mournful note several times uttering these expressions:

"Alas! Alas! We knock no more, we knock no more!" and there was an end of all.