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Patrick's Rare Books

Hutchinson, Concerning Witchcraft, 1720, Second edition.

Hutchinson, Concerning Witchcraft, 1720, Second edition.

An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft. With Observations upon Matters of Fact; Tending to clear the Texts of the Sacred Scriptures, and confute the vulgar Errors about that Point. And Also Two Sermons: One in Proof of the Christian Religion; the other concerning Good and Evil Angels. By Francis Hutchinson, D. D. Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty, and Minister of St. James Parish in St. Edmund’s-Bury. The Second Edition, with considerable Additions. London, 1720.


Contemporary full brown leather over boards, rebacked (likely late 20th century) with red leather title plate and raised bands on spine. Corners patched with leather contemporary to rebacking. Interior hinges reinforced. Two blank fly leaves at front and rear. Slight discoloration at edges of front paste down and half title. Text block clean, bright, and tight throughout, with ample margins. Red & brown speckled page edges.


Hutchinson’s work is entrenched within a long line of serious, sober, and naïve books on the subject of witchcraft. Catholics and Protestants alike having thrown their hats into the ring, certainly at least as early as the 15th century Malleus Maleficarum from the Roman Catholic scholars, and the 16th centuries’ The Damned Art of Witchcraft from the Puritan William Perkins.


On page 222 of George Loncoln Burr’s 1914 book titled Narrative of The Witchcraft Cases 1648 - 1706, we find the following foot note, given in the context of Mather’s Wonders of the Invisible World, in which Mather notes another work by Ady:


“How bold and thoroughgoing a skeptic is Ady, and why Mather counts it answer enough that the passage was taken from his book, may be guessed from his opening sentence in which he gives “The Reason of the Book”: “The Grand Error of these latter Ages is ascribing power to Witches, and by foolish imagination of mens brains, without grounds in the Scriptures, wrongfull killing of the innocent under the name of Witches.” “When one Mr. Burroughs, a Clergyman, who some few years since was hang’d in New-England as a Wizzard, stood upon his Tryal,” Wrote Dr. Hutchinson in 1718 in the book that was to end the controversy (Historical Essay concerning Witchcraft, p. xv), “he pull’d out of his Pocket a Leaf that he had got of Mr. Ady’s book, to prove that the Scripture Witchcrafts were not like ours: And as that Defence was not able to save him, I humbly offer my Book as an Argument on the Behalf of all such miserable People.”