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Outlines of English and American Literature
Cotton Mather
by Long, William J.


Cotton Mather (1663-1728) is commonly known by his Wonders of the Invisible World, which dealt with the matter of demons and witchcraft; but that is one of the least of his four hundred works, and it has given a wrong impression of the author and of the age in which he lived. His chief work is the Magnalia Christi Americana, or the Ecclesiastical History of New England (1702), which is a strange jumble of patriotism and pedantry, of wisdom and foolishness, written in the fantastic style of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. The most interesting and valuable parts of this chaotic work are the second and third books, which give us the life stories of Bradford, Winthrop, Eliot, Phipps and many other heroic worthies who helped mightily in laying the foundation of the American republic.

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