A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony annon 1628, presentation copy
A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony annon 1628, presentation copy
A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony annon 1628, presentation copy
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A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony annon 1628, presentation copy
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"but as for us Nov-Angli, New English, by our smutty deformity, and Hells blackness, we have rendred ourselves Diaboli Veterans, Old Devils: New England will be called, new Witch-land"
A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony annon 1628, presentation copy

JOSHUA SCOTTOW, 1694

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A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony annon 1628, presentation copy
Joshua Scottow, 1694
[SCOTTOW, Joshua (c.1618-1698).] A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusets Colony anno 1628. Boston: Benjamin Harris, 1694.

Presentation copy of the first edition of a very rare essential record of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, including an early account of the Salem witch trials, in a contemporary binding. Joshua Scottow came to Boston in the early 1630s, earning his fortune as a trader and land developer, as well as serving as a captain in King Philip's War. The present work is in some senses parallel to William Bradford and Nathanial Morton's earlier accounts of Plymouth Colony, reflecting on the history of Boston and Salem, which only two years before had been merged with Plymouth under a new charter issued by William and Mary. Rather more a jeremiad than a straightforward historical narrative, however, Scottow's book weaves the colony's various traumas and struggles—including the Antinomian controversy, wars with the Pequots and the Wampanoags, and perhaps most of all: the Salem witch trials—into a prophetic vision about the overall spiritual decline of the colonies.

Scottow had an intriguing take on the witch trials which had rocked his community less than two years prior, viewing them as a superstitious overreach which reflected on the distance the colonists had strayed from Puritan orthodoxy. In 1656 he had opposed the prosecution of Ann Hibbins, a woman hanged as a witch (and who would later inspire the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne), and in the present work he describes the Salem crisis as a communal failure, praising the new governor for rescuing "this poor Bemisted, and Befogg’d Vessel, in the Mare Mortuum, and Mortiferous Sea of Witchcraft" through his shutdown of the witch court, a "Cutting in sunder of the Circean Knot of Inchantment."

The book was printed in Boston by Benjamin Harris, a London publisher who had fled to Massachusetts following his involvement in the Popish Plot, and is in some ways a sequel to Scottow's 1691 work from the same printer, Old Mens Tears for their own Declensions. It is extremely rare on the market; the last copy recorded at auction by RBH or ABPC is the Brinley copy in 1879. That copy had an additional errata leaf not present in other copies; this may be partially present here as a fragment adhered to the pastedown. The present copy bears a presentation inscription from the author to Elisha Cooke, a physician and Speaker of the Massachusetts Bay Assembly. Howes S-244 ("d"); Evans 709; Sabin 78434; Wing S2099 (2nd ed).

Octavo (148 x 90mm). (Title page toned with a little soiling, F4 with outer margin town away just touching type, H1 corner torn away with loss of a few letters, last gathering chipped with tear affecting printed area, especially the final life, some spots and stains). Contemporary sheep, top edge speckled red (no pastedowns, worn). Custom chemise and slipcase. Provenance: Elisha Cooke, Sr (1637-1715; gift inscription [erroneously identified as being from Cotton Mather by a later owner]) – "Joseph Lee" and "Ruth Lee" (signatures on inside covers).

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