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

Some Concluding Remarks.

Perhaps before I conclude I should state that the keeper of the Boston Bridewell, Master Arnold, was summarily dismissed for accepting the validity of the Governor’s signature. But he did not take it very grievously to heart for Master Raymond, Captain Alden and others whom he had obliged saw him largely recompensed. Captain Alden, by the way, had fled for concealment to his relatives in Duxbury. Being asked when he appeared there, “Where he came from?” the old captain said “he was fleeing from the devil who was still after him.” However his relatives managed to keep him safely, until all danger was passed, both from the devil and from his imps.

As for Lady Mary, the indignation of “the faithful” was hot against her and finally against Sir William, who could not be made to see in it anything but a very good joke. “You know that Lady Mary will have her own way,” he said to Master Mather.

“Wives should be kept in due gospel subjection!” returned the minister.

“Oh, yes, rejoined the Governor smiling; but I wish you had a wife like Lady Mary, and would try it on her! I think we should hear something breaking.”

But when Mistress Ann Putnam and others began “to cry out” against Lady Mary as a witch, the Governor waxed angry in his turn.

“It is time to put a stop to all this,” he said indignantly. “They will denounce me as a witch next.” So he issued a general pardon and jail delivery alike to the ten persons who were then under sentence of death, to those who had escaped from prison, and to the one hundred and fifty lying in different jails, and the two hundred others who had been denounced for prosecution.

It was a fair blow, delivered at the very front and forehead of the cruel persecution and it did its good work, though it lost Sir William his position sending him back to England to answer the charges of his enemies, and to die there soon afterwards in his forty-fifth year.

When Chief-Justice Stoughton, engaged in fresh trials against the reputed witches, read the Governor’s proclamation of Pardon, he was so indignant that he left his seat on the bench, and could not be prevailed upon to return to it.

Neither could he, to the day of his death, be brought to see that he had done anything else than what was right in the whole matter.

Not so the jury which, several years after, confessed its great mistake, and publicly asked forgiveness. Nor Judge Sewall, who rose openly in church, and confessed his fault, and afterward kept one of the days of execution, with every returning year, sacred to repentance and prayer seeing no person from sunrise to nightfall, mourning in the privacy of his own room the sin he had committed.

Mistress Ann Putnam and her husband both died within the seven years, as Dulcibel in her moment of spiritual exaltation had predicted. Her daughter Ann lived to make a public confession, asking pardon of those whom she had (she said unintentionally) injured, and died at the age of thirty-five her grave being one that nobody wanted their loved ones to lie next to.

As for the majority of the “afflicted circle,” they fell as the years went on into various evil ways one authority describing them as “abandoned to open and shameless vice.”

Master Philip English, after the issue of the Governor’s pardon, returned to Salem. Seventeen years afterwards, he was still trying to recover his property from the officials of the Province. Of L1500 seized, he never recovered more than L300; while his wife died in two years, at the age of forty-two, in consequence of the treatment to which she had been subjected.

Master Joseph Putnam and his fair Elizabeth lived on in peace at the old place; taking into his service the Quaker Antipas upon his release from prison. The latter was always quiet and peaceful, save when any allusion was made to the witches. But he had easy service and good treatment; and was a great favorite with the children, especially with that image of his father, who afterwards became distinguished as the Major General Putnam of Revolutionary fame.

As for the presents that had been promised to the “afflicted circle,” they came to them duly, and from London too. And they were rich gifts also; but such a collection of odd and grotesque articles, certainly are not often got together. Master Raymond had commissioned an eccentric friend of his in London to purchase them, and send them on; acquainting him with the peculiar circumstances. There were yellow birds, and red dragons, and other fantastic animals, birds and beasts. But they came from London and the “circle” found them just suited to their peculiar tastes; and they always maintained, even in defiance of Mistress Ann, that Master Raymond was a lovely gentleman and an “afflicted” person himself. It will thus be seen that these Salem maidens were in their day truly esthetic having that sympathetic fondness for unlovely and repulsive things, which is the unerring indication of a daughter of Lilith.

And now, in conclusion, some one may ask, “Did the Province of Massachusetts ever make any suitable atonement for the great wrongs her Courts of Injustice had committed?” I answer Never! Massachusetts has never made any, adequate atonement no, not to this day!

The General Assembly, eighteen years afterwards, did indeed pass an act reversing the convictions and attainders in all but six of the cases; and ordering the distribution of the paltry sum of L578 among the heirs of twenty-four persons, as a kind of compensation to the families of those who had suffered; but this was all nothing, or next to nothing!

Perhaps the day will some time come, when the cry of innocent blood from the rocky platform of Witch Hill, shall swell into sufficient volume to be heard across the chasm of two centuries. Then, on some high pedestal, where the world can see it, Massachusetts shall proclaim in enduring marble her penitence and ask a late forgiveness of the twenty innocent men and women whom she so terribly wronged. And as all around, and even the mariner far out at sea, shall behold the gleaming shaft, standing where stood the rude gallows of two centuries ago, they shall say with softening eyes and glowing cheeks: “It is never too late to right a great wrong; and Massachusetts now makes all the expiation that is possible to those whom her deluded forefathers dishonored and persecuted and slew!”