An Instance of Lithobolia

I’m teaching small parts of Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (1702) this week, and while I was thumbing through the MCA’s 700+ pages, I came across this account of lithobolia (for the uninitiated, that’s spectral object-throwing, usually but not limited to stones). Mather enjoyed collecting incidences of the “wonders of the invisible world.”

In the year 1683, the Houfe of Nicholas Desborough at Hartford, was very strangely molested by Stones, by pieces of Earth, by Cobs of Indian Corn, and other such things, from an Invisible Hand, thrown at him, fometimes thro’ the Door, fometimes thro’ the Window, fometimes down the Chomney, and fometimes from the Floor of the Roo (tho’ very clofe) over his Head, and fometimes he met with them in the Shop, the Yard, the Barn, and in the Field.

There was no Violence in the Motion of the Things thus thrown by the Invisible Hand; and tho’ others befides the Man, happen’d fometimes to be hit, they were never hurt with them; only the Man himfelf once had Pain give to his Arm, and once Blood fetch’d from his Leg, by thefe Annoyances; and a Fire in an unknown way kindled, confum’d no little part of his Eftate.

This trouble began upon a Controverfie between Desborough and another Perfon about a Chest of Cloaths which the Man apprehended to be unrighteoufly detain’d by Desborough; and it endur’d for divers months: but upon the reftoring of the Cloaths thus detain’d, the Trouble ceafed.