Diary of a Witch Hunt

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Salem, Massachusetts,
September 24th, 1692 – Capt. Jno. McCain address’d crowdes
on the Towne Common, insisting that he had been misquoted &
never sayd that the Economie was Sounde.

Instead, he
meant it was as Stronge as a Massachusetts Shilling, which is made
of wood. The Publick booed & pelted him with rotten persimmons.
Item: for one peck of rotten persimmons, two shillings.

September 25th:
The Rt. Rev. Bar. O’Bama preach’d a sermon claiming that
the Economick Maladie in general, & the Livestock Market Catarrh
in partickular, may not be due to the Vengeance of Almighty God.
It may have a Moderne Scientifick Basis, he said, such as Liver
Humours convey’d via Corrupted Ether.

He posited
a cure through Massive Public Borrowing or by applying leeches to
taxpayers (which sounded similar). Outside the Church of St. Anaesthesius,
a hayswain smote him with a dead cat that was unusually ripe. Item:
1s/6d income, selling d. cat to hayswain.

September 26th:
Goodie Palin, Capt. McCain’s amanuensis, handed out tracts
blaming the Economick Decline upon deviant sexual practices, large
lunches & big bonuses among workers in the livestock market.
A costermonger, Ecclesiastes Pluckrose, caught a two-headed carp.
Item: tkt. to see carp, 1/2 d.

September 27th:
Thirty-seventh day of rain. Livestock markt. still closd. Idle traders
broke into Saml. Walton’s Genl. Store & made off w. four
hogsheads of Demerara Rum. Item: two gals. rum from traders, 2s/6d.

September 28th:
Hephzibah Fishblight, the schoolmistress, announced a debate on
Economick Decline featuring Capt. McCain, seckonded by Goodie Palin,
v. Rev. O’Bama with the grave digger, Old Jo. Biden. The mkt.
immediately sold out of Rotten Persimmons. Dead cats now trading
at one guinea per.

September 29th:
39th day of rain & mkts. still closed. One in eight cattle d.
from Staggers & Jags, others coughing ominously. Big crowds
for debate.

Rev. O’Bama
claimed Capt. McCain is responsible for Economick Miseries because
he is older and has been alive longer. The capt. countered that
the cleric had taken 3s/6d from the church poor box and squandered
it on Cain and Abel Schrechlichmann, who are known to be Incurable

The grave digger
said he remembered the Greate Sheep Epidemick under the Late King
Chas I, “when the beastes’ fewmets smelt of almondes,”
but he did not explain further.

Goodie Palin
said Greedie Market Traders were Diabolists & Secrete Agents
of the King of France.

September 29th,
(cont.): Strangely, the debate ended in Compleat Agreement, first
that Economick Weakness can be cured if City Fathers replace all
sick cattle, costing Ten Thousand Pounds Sterling backed by a substantial
increase in the production of wooden shillings.

In the 2nd
inst. all discussants agreed that Greedie Traders should be Made
to Suffer. Even the Representatives of the Salem Livestock Traders
Association concurr’d.

Traders provided
the Publick Mob with complementary firkins of Demerara Rum, matches
and a drum of sperm-whale oil along with their own Most Culpable
Greedie Trader, an 85-year-old blind woman, the Widow MacDougal,
who had never been seen in the livestock marketplace before.

She was briefly
interviewed with hot irons & skewers by Mister Cheney, the Towne
Gaoler. He found her to be a Wytch who caused Economick Droop by
eating large lunches and Paying Herself Bonuses. To much local merriment,
she was Burnt to Death outside the schoolhouse.

September 30th:
40th day of rain. Mark’t remains closed. Capt. McCain and Rev.
Obama pledged to pursue a Policie of Zero Tolerance to Wytches.

(Spec. thanks
to Squire Haggard.)

Reprinted from The DC
with permission.

25, 2008

S.J. Masty
[send him mail], a former
Washington speechwriter, is an international communication consultant
based in London. He is a contributor to the Examiner newspaper group.

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