The earliest account of the remarkable happenings at Salem, in the spring of 1692, which were to bring to a climax and then to a conclusion the quest of witches in New England, was that which here follows. The Rev. Deodat Lawson was singularly qualified to write it. He had himself, only a little earlier (1684-1688), served as pastor to Salem Village, the rural community in which these happenings took their rise; and, though dissensions in the parish prevented his longer stay, he seems to have been no party to these dissensions and must meanwhile have learned to know the scene and all the actors of that later drama which he here depicts. He was, too, a man of education, travel, social experience. Born in England, the son of a scholarly Puritan minister, and doubtless educated there, he first appears in New England in 1676, and at the time of his call to Salem Village was making his home in Boston. Thither he returned in 1688: Samuel Sewall, who on May 13 had him in at Sunday dinner, notes in his diary that he "came to Town to dwell last week," and often mentions him thereafter. How at the outbreak of the witch panic he came to revisit the Village and to chronicle the doings there, he himself a dozen years later thus told his English friends.
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