There was Bill Clinton as the doomed John Procter in the dock, struggling to stay upright even as his weak knees shook under the relentless onslaught of the disembodied voices of the inquisitors.
There was Kenneth Starr as the grimly fanatical judge-prosecutor, the Rev. Nicholas Noyes, cunningly laying traps, even using weird tests of bodily examination to discover telltale "marks" on suspected "witches," to force them either to admit their "guilt" - and of course name all the other witches they knew - or go to the gallows.
There was Linda Tripp as the conniving and treacherous Abigail Williams, ever eager to create yet more new evidence and betray friends in order to cling to her ephemeral moment of self-importance.
There was Monica Lewinsky as the pathetically neurotic Betty Parris, the damaged child of a dysfunctional family, unable to resist being manipulated by insidious forces in whatever form.
There was Webster Hubbell as the cranky old Giles Cory, who, as he was being pressed to death with rocks in an effort to force him to testify, kept murmuring, "more weight."
There was Susan McDougal as Rebecca Nurse, the serene tower of resolve, going to the gallows with dignity rather than lie before her God to save her neck.
There were Henry Hyde and Dan Burton, as two of the prosecutor-judges who suddenly found themselves or their families under suspicion of witchery.
And above all, there was the chorus of the American news media - including many of the most acclaimed shamans - as the gaggle of hysterical girls, ever ready to erupt into howls and swoons over the ominous looming presence of yet more "witches" that they alone could see and feel.
We now know that in due course the colony came to its senses, largely because such Yankee patriarchs as the respected Rev. Increase Mather at last stepped forward - as former Attorney General Elliot Richardson is now doing - to demand an end to the madness.
And as I labored to the end of Starr's "referral," so replete with pornography written in the dull clinical boiler-plate language of the law, I recalled the most chilling recorded episode from that sad chapter in American history, which still haunts us three centuries later. Old Sarah Good, an illiterate town beggar-woman, stood on the gallows, gazed defiantly at the Rev. Noyes and growled: "I am no more a witch than you are a wizard. If you take my life, God will give you blood to drink."
They took her life, but the people of the Colony remembered Sarah's last words when Noyes died, some years later, of internal hemorrhaging.
What God has in store for Kenneth Starr at the Last Judgment is beyond my ken. But I am confident that the day will come when this "referral" will inflict the everlasting punishment of history's judgment on the writer of the report to a far greater extent than its ostensible subject.
Ray Jenkins retired in 1992 as editorial page editor of the Evening Sun. He completed 20 years at the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser-Journal as its executive editor. He was President Jimmy Carter's deputy press secretary from 1977 to 1981. His book "Blind Vengeance," published last year, is a history of the 1989 mail-bomb murders of two political figures. A former Nieman Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winner, he has practiced law and written for newspapers for 40 years.
Ray Jenkins What footprint? I am tempted to say simply, "a slimy one," and leave it at that. But this clearly will not do, for the Starr report has not left a single footprint, but many - and these footprints have been tracked through the middle of our living rooms, classrooms, newsrooms, supermarkets and houses of worship.
These tracks have been made by Mr. Clinton, Mr. Starr, Ms. Lewinsky and by her erstwhile friend, Linda Tripp. More footprints still are to be made by members of Congress who will debate, most likely in typically partisan fashion, what ought to be done next. In the end, the footprints in this sordid story will have been of a variety of sizes, but each will have tracked its own peculiar kind of dirt.
Are there any moral lessons to be learned from a 445-page report that reads like a cross between Erica Jong, fresh from anatomy class, and something out of Nathanael West's "Miss Lonely Hearts"? What's to be said of a man who seems prone to falling repeatedly into the same well, and another man who derived his rules of legal engagement from Saint Augustine's just-war theory? There is sordidness here on every side, but is there illumination?
Let us begin with Mr. Clinton's moral perspective. He seems intent on stepping on the same moral rake over and over again. has yielded repeatedly to the same temptations that so many powerful American men often do. He is a man around whose head the black birds of temptation often have been quite plentiful, and apparently he unwisely, and fairly regularly, allowed some of them to land.