Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

By John Putnam Demos | Go to book overview

11
“Hearts Against Hearts”

There is a fashionable view of early American history which gives to New England the overall designation of “Puritan” but which also asserts the distinctive character of each of its constituent parts. Thus Rhode Island was a bubbling kettle of social and religious experimentation—a haven for Quakers Gortonists, atheists, land speculators, merchants, and “adventurers” of all sorts. Plymouth was a lazy, “separatist” backwater. Massachusetts was the clear fountainhead of the “New England way”; but, from noble beginnings, the Bay Colony traced a course of “declension,” as commerce and worldliness transformed her leading settlements. To the north, in New Hampshire and Maine, society barely maintained a foothold; explorers, trappers, traders, and hardscrabble farmers careened about in a natural—and cultural—wilderness.

In this historical melodrama, Connecticut has typically played the straight man. Here, we are told, was the most stable and tranquil of the New England colonies, and in some ways the most successfully Puritan. Connecticut was a true “congregational commonwealth”;1 a “close-knit, tightly-controlled, homogeneous community”;2 an “isolated … agricultural community of steady habits,” whose history was “almost entirely without those colorful incidents—conflicts and disorders—that kept other colonies in a more or less continuous state of disturbance.”8

In actual fact, seventeenth-century Connecticut fits this description only partially. Perhaps it can be argued that the settlers of the colony included a higher proportion of bona fide Puritans than was true elsewhere, that religion was more deeply entrenched as the basis of personal

-340-

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Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the Updated Edition vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Contents xvii
  • Introduction 3
  • One - Biography 17
  • 1 - "A Desolate Condition" 19
  • 2 - "Peace with No Man" 36
  • 3 - Witches- A Collective Portrait 57
  • Two - Psychology 95
  • 4 - "A Diabolical Distemper’ 97
  • 5 - "Let Me Do What I Could" 132
  • 6 - Accusers, Victims, Bystanders- The Innerlife Dimension 153
  • Three - Sociology 211
  • 7 - "The Mini of Our Town" 213
  • 8 - "Hard Thoughts and Jealousies" 246
  • 9 - Communities- The Social Matrix of Witchcraft 275
  • Four - History 313
  • 10 - "From Generation to Generation" 315
  • 11 - "Hearts against Hearts" 340
  • 12 - Communities- Witchcraft over Time 368
  • Appendix - List of Known Witchcraft Cases in Seventeenth-Century New England 401
  • Notes 411
  • Subject Index 533
  • Name Index 537
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