Read CHAPTER XIX of Dulcibel A Tale of Old Salem , free online book, by Henry Peterson, on

Antipas Works a Miracle.

The next morning Antipas Newton was brought before the Magistrates for examination. Antipas seemed so quiet and peaceful in his demeanor, that Squire Hathorne could hardly credit the story told by the constables of his violent behavior on the night of the arrest.

“I thought you were a Quaker,” said he to the prisoner.

“No, only half Quaker; the other half gospeller,” replied the old man meekly.

Mistress Ann was not present; her husband brought report that she was sick in bed. Probably she did not care to come, the game being too insignificant. Perhaps she had not quite recovered from the stunning effect of Dulcibel’s prediction. Though it was not likely that a doom that was to be seven years in coming, would, after the first impression was past, be felt very keenly. There was time for so much to happen during seven years.

But the Rev. Master Parris’s little niece, Abigail Williams, was present, and several other older members of the “circle,” prepared to witness against the old man to any extent that seemed to be necessary.

After these had made their customary charges, and had gone through some of their usual paroxysms, Joseph Putnam, accompanied by Goodman Buckley, came forward.

“This is all folly,” said Joseph Putnam stoutly. “We all know Antipas Newton; and that he has been deranged in his intellects, and of unsound mind for the last twenty years. He is generally peaceful and quiet; though in times of excitement like the present, liable to be driven into outbreaks of violent madness. Here is his employer, Goodman Buckley, who of course knows him best, and who will testify to all this even more conclusively than I can.”

Then Goodman Buckley took the oath with uplifted hand, and gave similar evidence. No one had even doubted for twenty years past, that Antipas was simple-minded. He often said and did strange things; but only when everybody around him was greatly excited, was he at all liable to violent outbreaks of passion.

Squire Hathorne seemed half-convinced; but the Reverend Master Parris rose from the bench where he had been sitting, and said he would like to be heard for a few moments. Permission being accorded: “What is insanity?” said he. “What is the scriptural view of it? Is it anything but a judgment of the Lord for sin, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar; or a possession by a devil, or devils, as in the Case of the Gadarene who made his dwelling among the tombs as told in the fifth chapter of Mark and the eighth of Luke? That these were real devils is evident for when permission was given them to enter into the herd of swine, they entered into them, and the swine ran down a steep place into the sea and were drowned. And as there were about two thousand swine, there must have been at least two thousand devils in that one so-called insane man; which no doubt accounted for his excessive violence. After the devils had left him, we are told that his countrymen came and saw him sitting at the feet of Jesus, no longer naked, but clothed and in his right mind. Therefore it follows as a logical deduction, that his not being before in his right mind was because he was possessed with devils.”

The magistrates and people evidently were greatly impressed with what Master Parris had said. And, as he sat down, Master Noyes, who was sitting beside his reverend brother, rose and said that he considered the argument they had just heard unanswerable. It could only be refuted by doubting the infallibility of the Scripture itself. And he would further add, as to the case before them, that this so-called insanity of the prisoner had not manifested itself until he had been repeatedly guilty of harboring two of that heretical and abominable sect called Quakers and had incurred imprisonment and heavy fines for so doing; to pay which fines his property had been rightfully sold. This punishment, and the death of his daughter by the decree of a just God, apparently not being sufficient to persuade him of the error of his ways, no doubt he had been given over to the devil, that he might become a sign and a warning to evil-doers. But, instead of repenting of his evil ways, he seems to have entered the service of Captain Burton, who was always known to be very loose in his religious views and observances; and who it now seems was himself a witch, or, as he might be rather more correctly termed, a wizard, and the father of the dangerous girl who was properly committed for trial yesterday. Going thus downward from bad to worse, this Antipas had at last become a witch himself; roaming around tormenting godly and unoffending people to please his mistress and her Satanic master. In conclusion he said that he fully agreed with his reverend brother, that what some of the world’s people, who thought themselves wise above that which was written, called insanity, was simply, as taught in the holy scriptures, a possession by the devil.

Magistrate Hathorne nodded to Magistrate Corwin, and Magistrate Corwin nodded in turn decidedly to his learned brother. They evidently considered that the ministers had settled that point.

“Well, then,” said Joseph Putnam, a little roughly to the ministers, “why do you not do as the Savior did, cast out the devils, that Antipas may sit down here in his right mind? We do not read that any of these afflicted people in Judea were cast into prison. In all cases they were pitied, not punished.”

“This is an unseemly interruption, Master Putnam,” said Squire Hathorne sternly. “We all know that the early disciples were given the power to cast out devils and that they exercised the power continually, but that in later times the power has been withdrawn. If it were not so, our faithful elders would cast out the spectres that are continually tormenting these poor afflicted persons.”

While this discussion had been going on, Antipas had been listening to all that was said with the greatest attention. Once only had he manifested any emotion; that was when the reference had been made to the death of his daughter, who had died from her exposure to the severity of the winter season in Salem jail. At this time he put his hand to his eyes and wiped away a few tears. Before and after this, the expression of his face was rather as of one who was pleased and amused at the idea of being the center of attraction to such a large and goodly company. At the conclusion of Squire Hathorne’s last remark, a new idea seemed to enter the old man’s confused brain. He looked steadily at the line of the “afflicted” before him, who were now beginning a new display of paroxysms and contortions, and putting his right hand into one of his pockets, he drew forth a coil of stout leather strap. Grasping one end of it, he shouted, “I can heal them! I know what will cure them!” and springing from between the two constables that guarded him, began belaboring the “afflicted” with his strap over their backs and shoulders in a very energetic fashion.

Dividing his energies between keeping off the constable and “healing the afflicted,” and aided rather than hindered by Joseph Putnam’s intentionally ill-directed efforts to restrain him, the insane man managed to administer in a short time no small amount of very exemplary punishment. And, as Masters Putnam and Raymond agreed in talking over the scene afterwards, he certainly did seem to effect an instantaneous cure of the “afflicted,” for they came to their sober senses at the first cut of the leather strap, and rushed pell-mell down the passage as rapidly as they could regardless of the other tormenting “spectres.”

“This is outrageous!” said Squire Hathorne hotly to the constables as Antipas was at last overpowered by a host of assailants, and stood now firmly secured and panting between the two officers. “How dared you bring him here without being handcuffed?”

“We had no idea of his breaking out anew, he seemed as meek as a lamb,” said constable Herrick.

“Why, we thought he was a Quaker!” added his assistant.

“I am a Quaker!” said Antipas, looking a little dangerous again.

“You are not.”

“Thou liest!” said the insane man. “This is one of my off days.”

Joseph Putnam laughed outright; and a few others, who were not church-members, laughed with him.

“Silence!” thundered Squire Hathorne. “Is this a time for idle levity?” and he glared around the room.

“We have heard enough,” continued the Squire, after a few words with his colleague. “This is a dangerous man. Take him off again to prison; and see that his chains are strong enough to keep him out of mischief.”