Subsequently, when the clergy of Boston and Charleston had kept a day of prayer with fasting, the children improved until they became perfectly well. But in an unlucky moment Mr. Mather determined to entertain his congregation with a sermon on these Memorable Providences, and the study of this again affected the girl. Formerly, in the worst of her attacks, she had been most dutiful and respectful to Cotton Mather, " but now her whole Carriage to me was with a Sauciness which I am not us'd anywhere to be treated withal. She would knock at my Study door, affirming that some one below would be glad to see me, tho' there was none that ask'd for me. And when I chid her for telling what was false, her Answer was that Mrs. Mather is always glad to see you ! Once when lying in a fit, as he that was praying was alluding to the Words of the Canaanitess, and saying, Lord, have mercy on a Daughter vext with a Devil, there came a big, but low, voice from her, in which the Spectators did not see her Mouth to move, There's two or three of us".
Finally after three days of fasting and prayer the children were completely cured, but the storm thus raised was not easily allayed. The old woman seems, like many another of her years and sex, to have been of a choleric and crotchety disposition, while it is also quite within the bounds of possibility that she had become so infected with the popular superstition (and who could blame her!) that she actually believed herself to be capable of harming people by merely stroking dolls or stones with her finger. That not uncommon form of mental torture employed, namely, the making her repeat the Lord's Prayer, all the time watching carefully for lapsus linguĉ, and thence drawing deductions as to her being in league with the Devil, was particularly absurd in the case of such a person as Mrs. Glover, whose memory was confused by age. At any rate there are probably very few of us at the present day who would care to be forced to say in public either that Prayer or the Apostles'
Creed if we knew that our lives depended on absolute verbal accuracy, and that the slightest slip might mean death. It is possible, too, that some of the fits of Goodwin's children were due to conscious imposture ; and certain it is, from a study of the whole case, that the deep-rooted belief of the self-opinionated Cotton Mather in the truth of such things, as well as the flattering his vanity received, contributed very largely to the success of the whole incident. Cotton Mather's account of the case was very highly praised by Mr. Baxter in his Certainty of the World of Spirits, and this so delighted Mr. Mather that he distributed the latter work throughout New England as being one that should convince the most obdurate " Sadducee." The result of this was speedily seen. Three years after the Boston incident a similar outbreak occurred amongst some young persons in the house of the Rev. Samuel Parris at Salem, then a small village about nineteen miles north-east of Boston. The contagion spread with appalling rapidity ; numerous persons were brought to trial, of whom, in the space of sixteen months, nineteen (twenty-five according to Ashton) 1 were hanged, one of them being a clergyman, the Rev. George Burroughs, about one hundred and fifty were put in prison, and more than two hundred accused of witchcraft. Finally the Government put a stop to the trials, and released the accused in April 1693 ; Mr. Parris, in whose house the affair commenced, was dismissed from his cure, as being the " Beginner and Procurer of the sorest Afflictions," but, directly and indirectly, Mrs. Glover may be considered the first cause, for if the case of Goodwin's children had not occurred at Boston it is more than probable the village of Salem would never have been plagued as it was.
1 The Devil in Britain and America, chap. xxiv.