Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New England Canaan

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Illustrations by Scott M. Fischer for Mythos CCG, representing the two versions of Thaumaturgical Prodigies...

Origin: The tome was invented by August Derleth for The Lurker at the Threshold (fiction), based on "Of Evill Sorceries Done in New-England of Daemons in no Humane Shape (fragment)"

Description

"If any are scandalized that New England, a place of as serious piety as any I know of, should be troubled so much by witches, they should ask themselves this question: Where would the Devil most wish to make his inroads, but in that place where he is hated the most?" — Rev. Ward Phillips, 1788

This book was written in 1788 by the Reverend Ward Phillips of the Baptist Church of Arkham, Massachusetts. Two editions were published; the first edition was crudely published in 1789 as a small print run in imitation black letter; it was riddled with typographical errors, and it bore the original title Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New-English Canaan. A second, vastly improved edition was published in Boston in 1801, with an amended title Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New England Canaan. The Reverand Ward Phillips would afterward gather as many copies of his own book as he could find, and burn them.


1789 First "New-English" Edition

Language: English

Physical Description: The first edition was published in 1789 (or by some accounts 1794) in crude, imitation black-letter Octavo with a plain black leather cover and not title on the binding, full of typographical errors, including the name Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New-English Canaan. Though this edition bears a date of 1789, some experts claim a short delay in publication until 1794, though there is little evidence to support either date.

General Content: The treatise describes the blasphemous activities of witches, warlocks, Indian shamans, and other evil-doers in colonial New England. Terrible magicks, monstrous births, and dire Indian legends are all described. Phillips pays particular attention to the events that supposedly took place in and around Billington's Woods, near Arkham, in the late 17th century.

Rarity: A limited number of copies were published, and most were destroyed, and this earlier version, despite its crude printing, commands collector prices; one autographed specimen sold for $35 in the 1920s.


1801 Second "New England" Edition

Language: English

Physical Description: The 1801 edition, corrected and improved, was published in Boston; aside from printing and proofing quality, this version is identical in content to the first edition.

General Content: The treatise describes the blasphemous activities of witches, warlocks, Indian shamans, and other evil-doers in colonial New England. Terrible magicks, monstrous births, and dire Indian legends are all described. Phillips pays particular attention to the events that supposedly took place in and around Billington's Woods, near Arkham, in the late 17th century.

Rarity: A limited number of copies were published, and most were destroyed, and this earlier version, despite its crude printing, commands collector prices.


The Annotated Copy

Language: English

Physical Description: One particularly interesting specimen of the Reverend's book, a copy of the 1801 edition with hand-written annotations and corrections made by its own author.

General Content: The treatise describes the blasphemous activities of witches, warlocks, Indian shamans, and other evil-doers in colonial New England. Terrible magicks, monstrous births, and dire Indian legends are all described. Phillips pays particular attention to the events that supposedly took place in and around Billington's Woods, near Arkham, in the late 17th century. This copy contains hand-written annotations and corrections made by the author indicating that what he once thought mainly legend and lore was instead frighteningly real; these annotations include descriptions of certain rites, written on the book's flyleaves, including several spells.

Rarity: Unique; believed to have been part of the library of a descendant: Providence, Rhode Island, businessman Whipple Phillips in the 1920s; its existence has not been verified since then.


Quotes

"If any are scandalized that New England, a place of as serious piety as any I know of, should be troubled so much by witches, they should ask themselves this question: Where would the Devil most wish to make his inroads, but in that place where he is hated the most?" — Rev. Ward Phillips, 1788

"But in respect of Generall Infamy, no Report more terrible hath come to Notice, than of what Goodwife Doten, Relict of John Doten of Duxbury in the Old Colonies, brought out of the Woods near Candlemas of 1787. She affirm'd, and her good neighbours likewise, that it had been borne to her, and took oath that she did not know by what manner it had come upon her, for it was neither Beast nor Man but like to a monstrous Bat with human face. It made no sound but look’d at all and sundry with baleful eyes. There were those who swore that it bore a frightful resemblance to the Face of one long dead, one Richard Bellingham or Bollinhan who is affirm’d to have vanished utterly after consort with Daemons in the country of New Dunnich. The horrible Beast-Man was examined by the Court of Azzizes and the witch then burnt by Order of the High-Sherif on the 5th of June in the year 1788." — August Derleth, The Lurker at the Threshold (fiction)


Appearances


Heresies and Controversies

Keeper Notes

Mythos Content Only the annotated specimen contains spells, written in the reverend’s spidery hand.