Thaumatographia Pneumatica

Cotton Mather

The Eighth Example

There was one Mary Johnson tried at Hartford, in this country, upon an indictment of "familiarity with the devil," and was found guilty thereof, chiefly upon her own confession. Her confession was attended with such convictive circumstances that it could not be slighted. Very many material passages relating to this matter are now lost, but so much as is well known, and can still be proved, shall be inserted:

She said her first familiarity with the devil came through discontent and wishing the devil to take this and that, and the devil to do that and t'other thing, whereupon a devil appeared unto her, tendering her what services might best content her. A devil, accordingly, did for her many services.

Her master blamed her for not carrying out the ashes, and a devil afterwards would clear the hearth of ashes for her. Her master sending her to drive out the hogs that sometimes broke into their field, a devil would scare the hogs away and make her laughed to see how it feared them.

She confessed that she had murdered a child and committed uncleanness both with men and with devils. In the time of her imprisonment, the famous Mr. Smith was at great pains to promote her conversion from the devil to God, and she was, by the best observers, judged very penitent both before her execution and after it, and she went out of the world with comfortable hopes of mercy from God through the merit of our Savior. Being asked what she built her hopes upon, she answered, "Upon these words: 'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' and these: 'There is a fountain set open for sin and uncleanness'."

And she died in a frame extremely to the satisfaction of them that were spectators of it.