Saturday, March 18, 2006


Lovecraft uses "Keziah" in Dreams of the Witch House as an archetype.

Interestingly, N. Hawthorne wrote a novel with a character of Keziah called Septimius Felton;
Or, The Elixir Of Life.
It was not published until 1883 by Una Hawthorne (his daughter) and Robert Browning.

"The existence of this story, posthumously published, was not known to anyone but Hawthorne himself, until some time after his death, when the manuscript was found among his papers. " She writes.

Also, an interesting element, "The house upon which the story was ... written ... made some additions to the old wooden structure, and caused to be built a low tower,which rose above the irregular roofs of the older and newer portions, thus supplying him with a study lifted out of reach of noise or interruption, and in a slight degree recalling the tower in which he had taken so much pleasure at the Villa Montauto. The study was extremely simple in its appointments, being finished chiefly in stained wood, with a vaulted plaster ceiling, and containing, besides a few pictures and some plain furniture, a writing-table, and a shelf at which Hawthorne sometimes wrote standing. A story has gone abroad and is widely believed, that, on mounting the steep stairs leading to this study, he passed through a trap-door and afterwards placed upon it the chair in which he sat, so that intrusion or interruption became physically impossible. It is wholly unfounded. There never was any trap-door."

Keziah is an Aunt who constantly doles out wisdom and arcane drinks to Septimus. In the end, "Septimius," said Sibyl, who looked strangely beautiful, as if the drink, giving her immortal life, had likewise the potency to give immortal beauty answering to it, "listen to me. You have not learned all the secrets that lay in those old legends, about which we have talked so much. There were two recipes, discovered or learned by the art of the studious old Gaspar Felton. One was said to be that secret of immortal life which so many old sages sought for, and which some were said to have found; though, if that were the case, it is strange some of them have not lived till our day. Its essence lay in a certain rare flower, which mingled properly with other ingredients of great potency in themselves, though still lacking thecrowning virtue till the flower was supplied, produced the drink of immortality."

Keziah is also a stand-in for Tituba, the victim of the Salem Village witch trials.

Tituba was not a Negro slave but from Arawak village in South America, where she was captured as a child, taken to Barbados as a captive, and sold into slavery. It was in Barbados that her life first became entangled with that of Reverend Samuel Parris. She was likely between the age of 12 and 17 when she came into the Parris household. Tituba may have served as his concubine. She maintained the Parris household on a day-to-day basis, so when Parris moved to Boston in 1680, Tituba and another Indian slave named John accompanied him. Tituba and John were married in 1689 about the time the Parris family moved to Salem. It is believed that Tituba had only one child, a daughter named Violet, who would remain in Parris's household until his death.

Tituba made herself a likely target for witchcraft accusations when Parris's daughter, Betty, began having strange fits and symptoms. Trying to help with her own homeopathy, Tituba prepared a "witchcake" (a mixture of rye and Betty's urine, cooked and fed to a dog, in the belief that the dog would then reveal the identity of Betty's afflictor). Parris was enraged when he found out about the cake, and shortly thereafter the afflicted girls named Tituba as a witch. Parris beat her until she confessed.

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