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John Dee


Charlotte Fell Smith




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John Dee By Charlotte Fell Smith





Tercentenary of Dee’s death — No life of him — Persistent misunderstanding

— Birth — Parentage — At Chelmsford Grammar SchoolSt. John’s College,

Cambridge — Fellow of Trinity — Theatrical enterprise — In the Low Countries

M.A. of CambridgeLouvain UniversityParisReadings in Euclid

Correspondents abroad — Return to England.



Books dedicated to Edward VI. — Upton Rectory — Long Leadenham —

Books dedicated to Duchess of Northumberland — Ferrys informs against his

“magic” — In prison — Handed over to Bonner — At Philpot’s trial — Efforts to

found a State Library — Astrology — Horoscopes — Choice of a day for Queen

Elizabeth’s coronation — Introduced to her by Dudley — Sympathetic magic —

Bachelor of Divinity — In Antwerp — Monas Hieroglyphica — Preface to

Billingsley’s Euclid — Called a conjurer.



Proposed benefices — Propædeumata Aphoristica — Alchemical secrets —

Settled at Mortlake — Journey to Lorraine — Illness — The Queen’s attentions —

Mines and hidden treasure — Wigmore Castle — Marriage — Death of first wife —

Literary correspondence — John Stow — Diary commenced — The Hexameron

Brytannicum — The British Complement — Slander and falsehood — A petty navy

— The sea-power of Albion — Fisheries and foreign policy.



A comet or blazing star — Second marriage — Jane Fromond — Hurried

journey abroad — Berlin and Frankfort — Birth of a son — Christening — Edward

Dyer — Duc d’Alencon — Michael Lock — His sons — The Queen’s visit — Sir

Humphrey Gilbert at Mortlake — Adrian Gilbert — John Davis — The Queen’s

Title Royall — Lord Treasurer Burleigh — Death of Dee’s mother — The Queen’s

visit of condolence — Map of America — Visits to the Muscovy House — Frobisher

and Hawkins — Birth of a daughter — Accident to Arthur.?



Assistants — Roger cook — Magic and alchemy — Psychic powers — Crystal

gazing — Dreams and mysteries — Vincent Murphy and a lawsuit — Jean Bodin

visits England — Quarrel between Leicester and Sussex — Mary Herbert — Sir

George Peckham — The stage at Paris Garden — Mr. Secretary Walsingham — The

Queen at Greenwich — Barnabas Saul as medium — Edward Talbot — Sight in the

stone — The table of practice — The waxen seals.



Edward Kelley — An alias — His previous history — His mysterious powder

— Marriage to Joan Cooper — Jane Dee’s dislike of Kelley — The diary of the actions

— How Ashmole obtained the MSS. — Book of Mysteries — The four angels —

Dee’s thirst for hidden knowledge — A crystal is brought — Medicina.



Kelley, the skryer — A third person — Adrian Gilbert — Kelley and an

“illuder” — Dee employed to reform the Calendar — The Queen and Raleigh —

Hidden treasure — Burleigh’s library — Dee’s precious books — Kelley rebellious —

Threatens to depart — Pacified by Adrian Gilbert — His wife’s letters — He goes to

London — Becomes clairvoyant — Sees Mary Queen of Scots executed.



Straits for lack of money — Count Albert Laski — Aspirations toward the

Polish Crown — King Stephan Bathory — Dee introduced to him by Leicester

Laski at Oxford — At Mortlake — Madimi — Galvah or Finis — Laski’s guardian

angel — Madimi a linguist — Kelley threatens to leave — His salary of 50 pounds —

Thomas Kelley — Dee’s suspicions — Kelley’s tempers — His love of money.



Gifts from the Queen — Departure from Mortlake — Laski and the whole

party sail from Gravesend — Queenborough — The Brill — Haarlem —?Amsterdam — Harlingen — Dokkum — Instructions from Gabriel — Embden —

Oldenberg — Bremen — Il’s levity — Visions of England — Hamburg — Lubeck.



Promises of wealth — Dee’s doubts — His books and library destroyed by the

mob — Rostock — Stettin — Posen Cathedral — Severe winter weather — The table

set up — Nalvage — Sir Harry Sidney — Madimi — The Queen’s affection — At

Lask — Cracow.



Cracow — The new Style — Dee’s work on the Reformation of the Calendar

— Kelley’s discontent — Geographical lessons — Laski and King Stephan —

Kesmark — Gabriel’s pleading — Kelley repentant — A vision of four castles —

Ave — Dee’s patience.



Rowland’s illness — Dee sets out for Prague — Thomas Kelley — Dr.

Hageck’s house — Rudoplh II. — Simon’s study — Interview with the Emperor —

Kelley’s outbursts — Dr. Jacob Curtius — Dee’s natural history — The Spanish

Ambassador — Jane Dee ill — A passport granted — Back to Prague — Kelley’s




To Limburg — Michael baptised in Prague Cathedral — Easter — Poverty and

distress — Kelley again restive — “Parabola de Nobus Duobus” — Return to Cracow

— Mr. Tebaldo — Interviews with King Stephan — His death — Dr. Annibaldus —

Back at Prague — Francisco Pucci — The Book of Enoch — Claves Angelicae —

Banished by Papal edict — William Count Rosenberg — Dee at Leipsic — Letter to

Walsingham — A new Nuncio — Invitation to Trebona.


THE CASTLE OF TREBONA?Trebona Castle — Rosenberg Viceroy of Bohemia — Invitation to Russia —

Projection with Kelley’s powder — A gift to Jane Dee — Letter from Kelley — Jane

to her husband — Joan Kelley — Dee’s friends desert him for Kelley — Arthur to be

the skryer — Kelley’s pretended vision — A hard and impure doctrine — Dee’s

scruples overridden — A solemn pact — Kelley disowns blame — End of his

clairvoyance — The spirits’ diary closed.

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Letters to Walsingham — A tutor for the children — Coldness and jealousy

— Furnaces constructed — Rumours and reports — Book of Dunstan — Kelley’s

haughtiness — Accident to Michael — The great secret — Kelley steals the best

workman — Break-up of the Trebona family — Dee’s letter to the Queen on the

Armada — Gifts to Kelley — His departure — Coaches and horses provided — Dee

quits Bohemia — Arrival in Bremen.



Kelley in favour with Rudolph — Given a title — Corresponds with Dee

Fabulous stories of gold — Burleigh begs his return to England — A token to be sent

— A prescription for his gout — Letter to Kelley — Kelley’s fall from favour —

Flight from arrest — Capture at Sobislaus — Imprisonment — Writings on alchemy

— Letters to Dee — Attempted escape — Death.



Dee’s life in Bremen — Letter of safe conduct from the Queen — Writes to

Walsingham — Timon Coccius — Heinrich Khunrath — Departure for England

Dr. Pezel — Events in England since Dee left — Arrival at Court — Offers of friends

— Madinia born — School for the children — Death of Walsingham — Richard

Cavendish — Ann Frank — The Queen at Richmond — Christmas gifts.



Loss of income — Hopes of a benefice — The Court at Nonsuch — Mary

Herbert — Arthur sent to Westminster School — His disposition — Birth of Frances

— Dr. William Aubrey — Deferred hopes — The commissioners’ visit —

Compendious Rehearsall — Dee’s half-hundred years — The blinded lady Fortune.?



The library at Mortlake — Books and instruments — Richard Chancellor’s

quadrant — A radius Astronomicus — Mercator’s globes — A watch-clock by

Dibbley — Boxes of MSS. — Seals and coats of arms — Records for the Tower —

Autograph works — Recorde’s Ground of Artes — Catalogue of the books — Classic

authors — English authors.

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The Queen’s gift — Anne Countess of Warwick — Christmas at Tooting —

Francis Nicholls — Visitors to Mortlake — the Lord Keeper — Elizabeth Kyrton —

Messengers from Laski — Mr. Webbe — Bartholomew Hickman — The Queen at

Greenwich — Advantages of St. Cross — Archbishop Whitgift — The whole family

to see the Queen — “Adieu to Courts and Courting” — Michael’s death —

Chancellor of St. Paul’s — Jane’s supplication — A post at last — Manchester

College — Birth of Margaret — Lord Derby — A move northward.



Collegiate Church of Manchester — The Byrons of Clayton — Cotton’s

servant — Titles of the college lands — Mr. Harry Savile — Survey of the town —

Christopher Saxton — A surprise visit — Governess for the girls — Witchcraft in

LancashireDee’s library in request — Disputes among the Fellows —

Perambulation of the bounds — Richard Hooker — Marking boundaries — Earl and

Countess of Derby — College affairs — The Queen’s sea sovereignty — Letter to Sir

Edward Dyer — Humphrey Davenport — Sir Julius Caesar — Welcome gifts —

Journey to London.

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Absence from Manchester — A special commission — Return to the north —

Grammar School inspection — Dreams and sleepless nights — Trouble with the

Fellows — Unsatisfactory curates — Borrowing money on plate — Crystal gazing

again — Untrue visions — Return of Roger Cook — College property in Cheshire

— Arthur the chapter clerk — End of the Diary.


Death of Theodore — Arthur’s marriage — His horoscope — Death of the

Queen — James I. and his Demonologie — Act against witchcraft — Dee petitions

Parliament and the King at Greenwich — Passionate protest — Offers to be burned

— Pleads for an Act against slander — Neglected and alone — Death of Jane — The

children ill — Dee in London — Katherine his mainstay — Cruel delusions — A

journey to go — Failing memory — John Pontoys — The vision fades — Death — A

grave at Mortlake — Garrulous reminiscences.





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“O Incredulities, the wit of fooles

That slovenly will spit on all thinges faire,

The coward’s castle and the sluggard’s cradle,

How easy ‘tis to be an infidel!”

— George Chapman

It seems remarkable that three hundred years should have been allowed to

elapse since the death of John Dee in December, 1608, without producing any Life of

an individual so conspicuous, so debatable, and so remarkably picturesque.

There is perhaps no learned author in history who has been so persistently

misjudged, nay, even slandered, by his posterity, and not a voice in all the three

centuries uplifted even to claim for him a fair hearing. Surely it is time that the

cause of all this universal condemnation should be examined in the light of reason

and science; and perhaps it will be found to exist mainly in the fact that he was too

far advanced in speculative thought for his own age to understand. For more than

fifty years out of the eighty-one of his life, Dee was famous, even if suspected and

looked askance at as clever beyond human interpretation. Then his Queen died.

With the narrow-minded Scotsman who succeeded her came a change in the

fashion of men’s minds. The reign of the devil and his handmaidens — the witches

and possessed persons- -was set up in order to be piously overthrown, and the very

bigotry of the times gave birth to independent and rational thought — to Newton,

Bacon, Locke.

But Dee was already labelled once and for all. Every succeeding writer who

has touched upon his career, has followed the leaders blindly, and has only cast

another, and yet another, stone to the heap of obloquy piled upon his name. The

fascination of his psychic projections has always led the critic to ignore his more

solid achievements in the realms of history and science, while at the same time,

these are the only cited to be loudly condemned. The learned Dr. Meric Casaubon,

who, fifty years after Dee’s death, edited his Book of Mysteries — the absorbing

recital of four out of the six or seven years of his crystal gazing — was perhaps the

fairest critic he yet has had. Although he calls Dee’s spiritual revelations a “sad

record,” and a “work of darkness,” he confesses that he himself, and other learned

and holy men (including an archbishop), read it with avidity to the end, and were

eager to see it printed. He felt certain, as he remarks in his preface, that men’s

curiosity would lead them to devour what seems to him “not parallelled in that

kind, by any book that hath been set out in any age to read.” And yet on no account

was he publishing it to satisfy curiosity, but only “to do good and promote Religion.”

For Dee, he is persuaded, was a true, sincere Christian, his Relation made in the

most absolute good faith, although undoubtedly he was imposed upon and deluded

by the evil spirits whom he sometimes mistook for good ones.

It may be well here to remark that this voluminous Book of Mysteries or

True and Faithful Relation (fol. 1659), from which in the following pages there will

be found many extracts, abounds in tedious and unintelligible pages of what

Casaubon calls “sermon-like stuff,” interspersed with passages of extraordinary

beauty. Some of the figures and parables, as well as the language used, are full of a

rare poetic imagery, singularly free from any coarse or sensual symbolism. Like

jewels embedded in dull settings, here and there a gem of loftiest religious thought

shines and sparkles. There are descriptive touches of costume and appearance that

possess considerable dramatic value. As the story is unfolded in a kind of spiritual

drama, the sense of a gradual moving development, and the choice of a fitting

vehicle in which to clothe it, is striking. The dramatis personae, too, the “spiritual

creatures” who, as Dee believed, influence the destinies of man, become living and

real, as of course they were to the seer. In many respects these “actions” were an

exact counterpart of the dealings inaugurated by psychical scientists 275 years later, if

we omit the close investigation for fraud.

Casaubon’s successor in dealing with the shunned and avoided subject of

John Dee was Thomas Smith, Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, who, in 1707,

wrote the first connected Life of him, in a book of the Lives of Learned Men. It was

based upon some of Dee’s autobiographical papers, and out of a total of a hundred

pages, gave fifty to letters already printed by Casaubon.

After this no sustained account of Dee’s romantic career is to be found outside

the pages of biographical dictionaries and magazine articles, or among writers upon

necromancy, hermetic philosophy, and alchemy. Many of these decorate their

collections with apocryphal marvels culled from the well-worn traditional stories of

Dee and his companion, Edward Kelley. Thus, throughout his lifetime and since,

he has continued to run the gauntlet of criticism. “Old imposturing juggler,”

“fanatic,” “quack,” are mild terms: in the Biographia Britannica he is called

“extremely credulous, extravagantly vain, and a most deluded enthusiast.” Even

the writer on Dee in the Dictionary of National Biography says his conferences with

the angels are “such a tissue of blasphemy and absurdity that they might suggest

insanity.” Many more such summary verdicts might be quoted, but these will

suffice for the present.

It has been said that no Life of Dee exists. And yet the materials for such a Life

are so abundant that only a selection can be here used. His private diary, for

instance, if properly edited, would supply much supplementary, useful, and

interesting historical information.

It is the object of this work to present the facts of John Dee’s life as calmly and

impartially as possible, and to let them speak for themselves. In the course of

writing it, many false assertions have disentangled themselves from truth, many

doubts have been resolved, and a mass of information sees the light for the first

time. The subject is of course hedged about with innumerable difficulties; but in

spite of the temptations to stray into a hundred bypaths, an endeavour has been

strictly made to do no more than throw a little dim light on the point where the

paths break off from the main road. If, at the end of the way, any who have

persevered so far, feel they have followed a magnetic and interesting personality,

the labour expended will not have been in vain. With a word of apology to serious

historical readers for the incorrigibly romantic tendency of much of the narrative,

which, in spite of the stern sentinel of a literary conscience, would continually

reassert itself, the story of our astrologer’s strange life may now begin.

John Dee was the son of Rowland Dee; he was born in London, according to

the horoscope of his own drawing, on July 13, 1527.?His mother was Jane,

daughter of William Wild. Various Welsh writershave assigned to Dee a

genealogical descent of the highest antiquity, and the

pedigree which he drew up for himself in later life traces back his family history

from his grandfather, Bedo Dee, to Roderick the Great, Prince of Wales. All

authorities agree that Radnor was the county from whence the Dees sprang.

Rowland Dee, the father, held an appointment at Court, as gentleman server

to Henry VIII., but was very indifferently treated by the King. This may partly

account for the persistence with which Dee exhibited before Queen Elizabeth his

claims to preferment at her hands. To be in habitual attendance at Court in those

days, however, bred in men a great desire for place, and a courtier was but a

mendicant on a grand scale.

The boy, John Dee, was early bred in “grammar learning,” and was inured to

Latin from his tender years. Perhaps he was not more than nine or ten when he

was sent to Chelmsford, to the chantry school founded there seven years before the

great school at Winchester came into existence. The master who presided over

Dee’s school hours in Essex was Peter Wilegh, whom the chantry commissioners in

1548 reported as a man “of good conversation” who had kept the school there for

sixteen years. Dee has always been claimed by the Grammar School at Chelmsford

as one of their most famous alumni, whose extraordinary career with its halo of

mystery and marvel they perhaps feel little qualified to explore. Dee’s testimony

that at Chelmsford he was “metely well furnished with understanding of the Latin

tongue” is an unconscious tribute to Peter Wilegh’s teaching.

In November, 1542, Dee, being then fifteen years and four months old, left

Chelmsford to enter at St. John’s College, Cambridge, where, as he tells us in his

autobiography, he soon became a most assiduous student. “In the years 1543, 1544,

1545, I was so vehemently bent to studie, that for those years I did inviolably keep

this order: only to sleep four houres every night; to allow to meate and drink (and

some refreshing after) two houres every day; and of the other eighteen houres all

(except the tyme of going to and being at divine service) was spent in my studies and

learning.” Early in 1546 he graduated B.A. from St. John’s College. At the close of

the same year, Trinity College was founded by Henry VIII., and Dee was selected one

of the original Fellows. He was also appointed under-reader in Greek to Trinity

College, the principal Greek reader being then Robert Pember. The young Fellow

created the first sensation of his sensational career soon after this by arranging some

of the (Eirene — Peace) of Aristophanes, in which he apparently acted as stage

manager and carpenter.

For this play he devised a clever mechanical and very spectacular effect.

Trygaeus, the Attic vine-dresser, carrying a large basket of food for himself, and

mounted on his gigantic beetle or scarab (which ate only dung), was seen ascending

from his dwelling on the stage to enter the palace of Zeus in the clouds above. One

has only to think of the scenic effects presented by Faust and Mephistopheles at Mr.

Tree’s theatre, for instance, to realise how crude and ineffective these attempts must

have been; but thirty or forty years before Shakespeare’s plays were written, so

unusual an exhibition was enough to excite wild rumours of supernatural powers.

We hear no more of theatrical performances, although several references in his

after-life serve to show that his interest in the English drama, about to be born,

lagged not far behind that of his greater contemporaries. He does mention,

however, a Christmas pastime in St. John’s College, which seems to have been

inspired by this same dramatic spirit. Of details we are totally ignorant; he only

relates that the custom of electing a “Christmas Magistrate” was varied at his

suggestion by crowning the chosen victim as Emperor. The first imperial president

of the Christmas revels in St. John’s College “was one Mr. Thomas Dunne, a very

goodly man of person, stature and complexion, and well learned also,” evidently a

presence fit for a throne. Dee adds: “They which yet live and were hearers and

beholders, they can testifie more than is meete here to be written of these my boyish

attempts and exploites scholasticall.”

He turned to sterner studies, and became a skilful astronomer, taking

“thousands of observations (very many to the hour and minute) of the heavenly

influences and operations actual in this elementall portion of the world.” These he

afterwards published in various “Ephemerides.”

In May, 1547, Dee made his first journey abroad, to confer with learned men

of the Dutch Universities upon the science of mathematics, to which he had already

begun to devote his serious attention. He spent several months in the Low

Countries, formed close friendships with Gerard Mercator, Gemma Frisius, Joannes

Caspar Myricaeus, the Orientalist Antonius Gogava, and other philosophers of

world-wide fame. Upon his return to Cambridge, he brought with him two great

globes of Mercator’s making, and an astronomer’s armillary ring and staff of brass,

“such as Frisius had newly devised and was in the habit of using.” These he

afterwards gave to the Fellows and students of Trinity College; he cites a letter of

acknowledgment from John Christopherson (afterwards Bishop of Chichester), but

upon search being made for the objects recently, through the kindness of the Master,

it appears they are not now to be found. Dee returned to Cambridge in the year 1548

to take his degree of M.A., and soon after went abroad. “And never after that was I

any more student in Cambridge.” Before he left, he obtained under the seal of the

Vice-Chancellor and Convocation, April 14, 1548, a testimonial to his learning and

good conduct, which he proposed to take with him abroad. Many times did he

prove it to be of some value.

In Midsummer Term, 1548, he entered as a student at the University of

Louvain, which had been founded more than a hundred years before in this quaint

old Brabantian town of mediaeval ramparts and textile industries. At Louvain, Dee

continued his studies for two years, and here he soon acquired a reputation for

learning quite beyond his years. It has been presumed that he here graduated doctor,

to account for the title that has always been given him. “Doctor Dee” certainly

possesses an alliterative value not to be neglected. At Cambridge he was only M.A.

Long after, when he had passed middle life, and when his remarkable genius

in every branch of science had carried him so far beyond the dull wit of the people

who surrounded him that they could only explain his manifestations by the old cry

of “sorcery and magic,” Dee made a passionate appeal to the Queen, his constant

patron and employer, to send two emissaries of her own choosing to his house at

Mortlake, and bid them examine everything they could find, that his character

might be cleared from the damaging charges laid against him. He prepared for these

two commissioners, to whose visit we shall revert in its proper place, an

autobiographical document of the greatest value, which he calls “The Compendious

Rehearsal of John Dee: his dutiful declaration and proofe of the course and race of

his studious life, for the space of half an hundred years, now (by God’s favour and

help) fully spent.” It is from this narrative that the facts of his early life ar ascertainable

. Perhaps we discern them through a faint mist of retrospective

glorification for which the strange streak of vanity almost inseparable from

attainments like Dee’s was accountable. But there is every reason to reply upon the

accuracy of the mathematician’s story.

“Beyond the seas, far and nere, was a good opinion conceived of my studies

philosophicall and mathematicall.” People of all ranks began to flock to see this

wonderful young man. He gives the names of those who came to Louvain, a few

hours’ journey from Brussels, where the brilliant court of Charles V. was assembled,

with evident pride. Italian and Spanish nobles; the dukes of Mantua and Medina

Celi; the Danish king’s mathematician, Mathias Hacus; and his physician, Joannes

Capito; Bohemian students, all arrived to put his reputation to the test. A

distinguished Englishman, Sir William Pickering, afterwards ambassador to France,

came as his pupil to study astronomy “by the light of Mercator’s globes, the astrolabe,

and the astronomer’s ring of brass that Frisius had invented.” For his recreation,

the teacher “looked into the method of civil law,” and mastered easily the points of

jurisprudence, even “those accounted very intricate and dark.” It was at Louvain,

no doubt, that his interest in the subject of alchemy became strengthened and fixed.

Stories were rife of course of the famous alchemist, Henricus Cornelius Agrippa,

who had died there, in the service of Margaret of Austria, only a dozen years or so

before. Agrippa had been secretary to the Emperor Maximilian, had lived in France,

London, and Italy, and Louvain, no doubt, was bursting with his extraordinary feats

of magic.

The two years soon came to an end, and a couple of days after his twenty-third

birthday, young Dee left the Low Countries for Paris, where he arrived on July 20,

1550. His fame had preceded him, and within a few days, at the request of some

English gentlemen and for the honour of his country, he began a course of free

public lectures or readings in Euclid, “Mathematice, Physice et Pythagorice,” at the

College of Rheims, in Paris, a thing, he says, which had never been done before in

any university in Christendom. His audience (most of them older than himself)

was so large that the mathematical schools would not hold them, and many of the

students were forced in their eagerness to climb up outside the windows, where, if

they could not hear the lecturer, they could at least see him. He demonstrated upon

every proposition, and gave dictation and exposition. A greater astonishment was

created, he says, than even at his scarabaeus mounting up to the top of Trinity Hall

in Cambridge. The members of the University in Paris at the time numbered over

4,000 students, who came from every part of the known world. He made many

friends among the professors and graduates, friends of “all estates and professions,”

several of whose names he gives; among them, the learned writers and theologians

of the day, Orontius, Mizaldus, Petrus Montaureus, Ranconetus (Ranconnet),

Fernelius, and Francis Silvius.

The fruit of these years spent in Louvain and Paris was that Dee afterwards

maintained throughout his life a lively correspondence with professors and doctors

in almost every university of note upon the Continent. He names especially his

correspondents in the universities of Orleans, Cologne, Heidelberg, Strasburg,

Verona, Padua, Ferrara, Bologna, Urbino, Rome, and many others, whose letters lay

open for the inspection of the commissioners on that later visit already alluded to.

An offer was made him to become a King’s Reader in mathematics in Paris

University, with a stipend of two hundred French crowns yearly, but he had made

up his mind to return to England, and nothing would tempt him to stay. He

received other proposals, promising enough, to enter the service of M. Babeu, M. de

Rohan, and M. de Monluc, who was starting as special ambassador to the Great

Turk, but his thoughts turned back to England, and thither, in 1551, he bent his


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“A man is but what he knoweth.” — Bacon

In December, 1551, Dee obtained, through the offices of Mr. (afterwards Sir)

John Cheke, an introduction to Secretary Cecil and to King Edward VI. He had

already written for and dedicated to the King two books (in manuscript): De usi

Globi Coelestis, 1550, and De nubium, solis, lunae, ac reliquorum planetarum, etc.,

1551. These perhaps had been sent to Cheke, the King’s tutor, in the hope that they

might prove useful lesson books. The pleasing result of the dedication was the gift

of an annual royal pension of a hundred crowns. This allowance was afterwards

exchanged for the rectory of Upton-upon-Severn, in Worcestershire, which Dee

found an extremely bad bargain.

From the Beacon Hill above West Malvern Priory, the visitor may turn from

inspection of the ancient British camp of Caractacus to admire the magnificent view;

and across the level fields where the Severn winds, the tower of Upton church will

be seen rising in the middle distance. Further west, if the day be clear, the more

imposing towers of Tewkesbury and Cloucester may be discerned, while half a turn

eastward will show Worcester Cathedral, not far away. Dee never lived in this

beautiful place, although he was presented to the living on May 19, 1553. Even

when the rectory of Long Leadenham, in Lincolnshire, was added to Upton, the two

together were worth only about eighty pounds a year. Next year he declined an

invitation to become Lecturer on Mathematical Science at Oxford, conveyed to him

through “Mr. Doctor Smith” (Richard, D.C.L., 1528, the reformer), of Oriel College,

and “Mr. du Bruarne,” of Christ Church. He was occupied with literary work, and

in 1553 produced, among other things, a couple of works on The Cause of Floods

and Ebbs, and The Philosophical and Political Occasions and Names of the Heavenly

Asterismes, both written at the request of Jane, Duchess of Northumberland.

When Mary Tudor succeeded her young brother as queen in 1553, Dee was

invited to calculate her nativity. He began soon after to open up a correspondence

with the Princess Elizabeth, who was then living at Woodstock, and he cast her

horoscope also. Before long he was arrested on the plea of an informant named

George Ferrys, who alleged that oneof his children had been struck blind and

another killed by Dee’s “magic.” Ferrys also declared that Dee was directing his

enchantments against the Queen’s life. Dee’s lodgings in London were searched and

sealed up, and he himself was sent to prison. He was examined before the Secretary

of State, afterwards upon eighteen articles by the Privy Council, and at last brought

into the Star Chamber for trial. There he was cleared of all suspicion of treason, and

liberated by an Order in Council. August 29, 1555, but handed over to Bishop

Bonner for examination in matters of religion. Bonner was apparently equally

satisfied. Dee was certainly enjoined by him, at John Philpot’s examination on

November 19, 1555, to put questions as a test of his orthodoxy. He quoted St.

Cyprian to Philpot, who replied: “Master Dee, you are too young in divinity to teach

me in the matters of my faith, though you be more learned in other things.”

Dee deserves well of all writers and students for time everlasting because of

his most praiseworthy efforts to found a State National Library of books and

manuscripts, with copies of foreign treasures, wherever they might be. On January

15, 1556, he presented to Queen Mary “a Supplication for the recovery and

preservation of ancient writers and monuments.” Within a few years he had seen

the monasteries dissolved and the priceless collections of these houses lamentably

dispersed, some burned and others buried. He drew up a very remarkable address to

the Queen dwelling on the calamity of thus distributing “the treasure of all antiquity

and the everlasting seeds of continual excellency within this your Grace’s realm.”

Many precious jewels, he knows, have already perished, but in time there may be

saved and recovered the remnants of a store of theological and scientific writings

which are now being scattered up and down the kingdom, some in unlearned men’s

hands, some walled up or buried in the ground. Dee uses powerful arguments to

enforce his plea, choosing such as would make the most direct appeal to both Queen

and people. She will build for herself a lasting name and monument; they will be

able all in common to enjoy what is now only the privilege of a few scholars, and

even these have to depend on the goodwill of private owners. He proposes first that

a commission shall be appointed to inquire what valuable manuscripts exist; that

those reported on shall be borrowed (on demand), a fair copy made, and if the owner

will not relinquish it, the original be returned. Secondly, he points out that the

commission should get to work at once, lest some owners, hearing of it, should hide

away or convey away their treasures, and so, he pithily adds, “prove by a certain

token that they are not sincere lovers of good learning because they will not share

them with others.” The expenses of the commission and of the copying, etc., he

proposed should be borne by the Lord Cardinal and the Synod of the province of

Canterbury, who should also be charged to oversee the manuscripts and books

collected until a library “apt in all points” is made redy for their reception.

Finally, Dee suggests that to him be committed the procuring of copies of

many famous manuscript volumes to be found in the great libraries abroad: the

Vatican Library at Rome, St. Mark’s at Venice, and in Bologna, Florence, Vienna, etc.

He offers to set to work to obtain these, the expenses only of transcription and

carriage to England to be charged to the State. As to printed books, they are to “be

gotten in wonderfull abundance.” In this generous offer of his life to be spent in

transcribing crabbed manuscripts, we cannot see the restless genius of John Dee long

satisfied, but at any rate he proved himself not seeking for private gain.

Thus was the germ of a great National Library first started by the Cambridge

mathematician, nearly fifty years before Thomas Bodley opened his unique

collection at Oxford, and close upon 200 years before there was founded in the capital

the vast and indispensable book-mine known to all scholars at home and abroad as

the British Museum. The Historical Manuscripts Commission, whose labours in

cataloguing private collections of archives are also foreshadowed in Dee’s

supplication, only came into being with the appointment of Keepers of the Public

Records, by an Act signalising the first and second years of Queen Victoria’s reign.

It is needless to say that nothing came of Dee’s very disinterested proposition.

So he bacame the more industrious in collecting a library of his own, which soon

consisted of more than 4,000 volumes, which were always at the disposal of the

friends who came often to see him.

They came also for another reason.

Astrology was a very essential part of astronomy in the sixteenth century, and

the belief in the controlling power of the stars over human destinies is almost as old

as man himself. The relative positions of the planets in the firmament, their

situations amongst the constellations, at the hour of a man’s birth, were considered

by the ancients to be dominant factors and influences throughout his whole life. It

is not too much to say that a belief in the truth of horoscopes cast by a skilled

calculator still survives in our Western civilisation as well as in the East. Medical

science today pays its due respect to astrology in the sign, little altered from the

astrological figure for Jupiter, with which all prescriptions are still headed.

Dee, as one of the foremost mathematicians and astronomers of the time, and

one employed by the Queen, became continually in request to calculate the nativity

and cast a horoscope for men and women in all ranks of life. He has left many notes

of people’s births; his own children’s are entered with the greatest precision, for

which a biographer has to thank him.

When Elizabeth mounted with firm steps the throne that her unhappy sister

had found so precarious and uneasy a heritage, Dee was very quickly sought for at

Court. His first commission was entirely sui generis. He was commanded by Robert

Dudley to name an auspicious day for the coronation, and hs astrological

calculations thereupon seem to have impressed the Queen and all her courtiers.

Whether or no we believe in the future auguries of such a combination of

influences as presided over the selection of the 14th of January, 1559, for the day of

crowning Elizabeth in Westminster Abbey, we must acknowledge that Dee’s choice

of a date was succeeded by benign and happy destinies.

He was then living in London. We do not know where his lodging was, but

several of the books belonging to his library have come down to us with his

autograph, “Joannes Dee, Londini,” and the dates of the years 1555, 1557, and 1558.

Elizabeth sent for him soon after her accession, and invited him to her

service at Whitehall with all fair promises. He was introduced by Dudley, then and

long afterwards her first favourite; so he was likely to stand well. “Where my

brother hath given him a crown,” she said to Dudley, or to Dee’s other sponsor, the

Earl of Pembroke, “I will give him a noble.” This was the first of innumerable

vague promises made, but it was long indeed before any real and tangible gift was

conferred on the astrologer, although he was continually busied about one thing

and another at the fancy of the Queen. The reversion of the Mastership of St.

Catherine’s Hospital was promised him, but “Dr. Willson politickly prevented me.”

One morning the whole Court and the Privy Council were put into a terrible

flutter by a simple piece of what was common enough in ancient times and in Egypt

— sympathetic magic. A wax image of the Queen had been found lying in Lincoln’s

Inn Fields, with a great pin stuck through its breast, and it was supposed

undoubtedly to portend the wasting away and death of her Majesty, or some other

dreadful omen. Messenger after messenger was despatched to summon Dee, and

bid him make haste. He hurried off, satisfied himself apparently of the harmless

nature of the practical joke, and repaired, with Mr. Secretary Wilson as a witness of

the whole proceedings and a proof of all good faith, to Richmond, where the Queen

was. The Queen sat in that part of her private garden that sloped down to the river

near the steps of the royal landing-place at Hampton Court; the Earl of Leicester (as

Dudley had now become) was in attendance, gorgeous and insolent as ever; the

Lords of the Privy Council had also been summoned, when Dee and Mr. Secretary

expounded the inner meaning of this untoward circumstance, and satisfied and

allayed all their fears. Something about the calm attributes of this seasoned and

travelled scholar seemed always to give moral support to the Queen and her

household; this is only the first of many occasions when he had to allay their

superstitous fright. That she felt it essential to keep him within reach of herself may

have been one reason for not giving him the appointments for which he, and

others for him, constantly sued. Dee was not an easy person to fit into a living: he

required one with no cure of souls attached; for this, he says, “a cura animarum

annexa, did terrfie me to deal with them.” He is called a bachelor of divinity by Foxe

in 1555, and as a matter of fact he does, both in 1558 and in 1564, add the letters S. D.

T. to his name in his printed works. This degree also was not from Cambridge. At

last he grew tired of waiting, and a certain restlessness in his character, not

incompatible with the long patience of the true follower of science, drove him again

abroad. His intention was to arrange for printing works already prepared in

manuscript. To search among out-of-the-way bookmongers and book-lovers in

hgh- walled German towns, for rare treasures wherewith to enrich ihs native

country, was another magnet that drew his feet. In February, 1563, after he had been

thus employed for more than a year, he wrote from the sign of the Golden Angel, in

Antwerp, to Cecil, to ask if he was expected to return to England, or if he might

remain to oversee the printing of his books, and continue his researches among

Dutch books and scholars. He had intended, he says, to return before Easter, but this

was now impossible, owing to printer’s delays. When we remember that a hundred

years had barely elapsed since the first metal types had been cast and used in a hand

press, it is not wonderful that Dee’s treatise, with its hieroglyphic and cabalistic

signs, took long to print. He announces in the letter to Cecil a great bargain he has

picked up, a work, “for which many a learned man hath long sought and dayley yet

doth seek,” upon cipher writing, viz. Steganographia, by the famous Abbot

Trithemius of Wurzburg. It is the earliest elaborate treatise upon shorthand and

cipher, a subject in which Cecil was particularly interested. It was then in

manuscript (first printed, Frankfort, 1606). Dee continues that he knows his

correspondent will be well acquainted with the name of the book, for the author

mentions it in his Epistles, and in both the editions of his Polygraphia. He urges its

claims upon the future Lord Treasurer, already a statesman of ripe experience, in the

following words: “A boke for your honor or a Prince, so meet, so nedefull and

commodious, as in human knowledge none can be meeter or more behovefull. Of

this boke, either as I now have yt, or hereafter shall have yt, fully wholl and perfect,

(yf it peas you to accept my present) I give unto your Honor as the most precious

juell that I have yet of other mens travailes recovered.”

He then goes on to beg the minister and Secretary of State to procure for him

that “learned leisure (dulcia illa ocia) the fruit whereof my country and all the

republic of letters shall justly ascribe to your wisdom and honorable zeal toward the

advancement of good letters and wonderful, divine, and secret sciences.” Dee had

copied in ten days, “by continual labour,” about half of the book: a Hungarian

nobleman there has offered to finish the rest, if Dee will remain in Antwerp and

direct his studies for a time.?“Of this boke the one half (with contynual labour and

watch, the most part of10 days) have I copyed oute. and now I stand at the curtesye

of a nobleman ofHungary for writing furth the rest; who hath promised me leave

 thereto, after heshall perceyve that I may remayne by him longer (with the leave of my Prince

 topleasure him also with such pointes of science as at my handes he requireth.

“I assure you the meanes that I used to cumpas the knowledge where this

man and other such are, and likewise of such book as this, as for this present I have

advertisement of, have cost me all that ever I could here with honesty borrow,

besydes that which (for so short a time intended) I thowght needefull to bring with

me, to the value of xxlib. God knoweth my zeale to honest and true knowledg; for

which my flesh, blud, and bones should make the marchandize, if the case so


Dee did remain in the Low Countries; he completed his Monas

Hieroglyphica, dated its prefatory dedication to the Emperor Maximilian II., at

Antwerp, January 29, 1564, and added an address to the typographer, his “singular

good friend, Gulielmo Silvio,” dated the following day. the book appeared in April,

and he at once journeyed to Presburg, to present a copy to Maximilian. Its twenty-four

theorems deal with the variations of the figure represented on our title-page,

which may be roughly explained as the moon, the sun, the elements (the cross), and

fire as represented by the waving line below. Dee says that many “universitie

graduates of high degree, and other gentlemen, dispraised it because they

understood it not,” but “Her Majestie graciously defended my credit in my absence

beyond the seas.” On his return in June she sent for him to Court and desired him

to read the book with her. Dee’s account of his regal pupil is given with much

quaintness. “She vouchsafed to account herself my schollar in my book...and said

whereas I had prefixed in the forefront of the book: Qui non intelligit aut taceat, aut

discat: if I would disclose to her the secrets of that book she would et discere et

facere. Whereupon her Majestie had a little perusion of the same with me, and

then in most heroicall and princely wise did comfort and encourage me in my

studies philosophicall and mathematicall.”[ His escort had been required for the

Marchioness of Northampton, who was returning from Antwerp to Greenwich. In

return for this assistance the lady begged the Queen’s favour for her cavalier.

elizabeth was always Dee’s very good friend, and she made a grant to him on

December 8, 1564, of the Deanery of Gloucester, then void, but other counsels

prevailed, and it was soon bestowed on some other man. No doubt the

appointment would have given great offence, for the popular eye was already

beginning to see in Dee no highly equipped mathematician, geographer and

astronomer, but a conjuror and magisian of doubtful reputation, in fact, in the

current jargon, one who “had dealings with the devil.” What there had been at this

time to excite these suspicions beyond the fact that Dee was always ready to expound

a comet or an eclipse, to cast a horoscope, or explain that the Queen would not

immediately expire because a wax doll with a stiletto in its heart was found under a

tree, it is hard to say. But that these rumours were extremely persistent is seen by

the astrologer’s defence of himself in the “very fruitfull” preface which he, as the

first mathematician of the day, was asked to write to Henry Billingsley’s first English

translation of Euclid’s Elements, in February, 1570. This preface must be reckoned as

one of Dee’s best achievements, although, as he says, in writing it, “he was so

pinched with straightness of time that he could not pen down the matter as he

would.” He points out that Euclid has already appeared in Italian, German, High

Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese dress, and now at last comes to England.[

In spite of its ex parte nature, a study of this preface alone must convince any

reader that thte author was no charlatan or pretender, but a true devotee of learning,

gifted with a far insight into human progress. He covers in review every art and

science then known, and some “until these our daies greatly missed” (his comments

on music and harmony are truly remarkable), and comes back to his own

predilection — arithmetic, “which next to theologie is most divine, most pure, most

ample and generall, most profound, most subtele, most commodious and most

necessary.” He quotes Plato to show how “it lifts the heart above the heavens by

invisible lines, and by its immortal beams melteth the reflection of light

incomprehensible, and so procureth joy and perfection unspeakable.” Speaking of

the refraction of light, he foreshadows the telescope as he describes how the captain

of either foot or horsemen should emply “an astronomical staffe commodiously

framed for carriage and use, and may wonderfully help himself by perspective

glasses; in which I trust our posterity will prove more skilfull and expert and to

greater purpose than in these days can almost be credited to be possible.” Then he

alludes to a wonderful glass belonging to Sir William P., famous for his skill in

mathematics, who will let the glass be seen. The passage seems to show that

looking-glasses were not common, or that this particular one was a convex mirror.

“A man,” he says, “may be curstly afraid of his own shadow, yea, so much to

feare, that you being alone nere a certain glasse, and proffer with dagger or sword to

foyne at the glasse, you shall suddenly be moved to give back (in maner) by reason

of an image appearing in the ayre betweeene you and the glasse, with like hand,

sword or dagger, and with like quickness foyning at your very eye, like as you do at

the glasse. Strange this is to heare of, but more mervailous to behold than these my

wordes can signifie, nevertheless by demonstration opticall the order and cause

thereof is certified, even so the effect is consequent.”

This mirror was given to Dee not long afterwards.

From optics he passes on to mechanics, and mentions having seen at Prague

mills worked by water, sawing “great and long deale bordes, no man being by.” He

describes accurately a diving chamber supplied with air, and sums up some of the

mechanical marvels of the world: — the brazen head made by Albertus Magnus,

which seemed to speak; a strange “self-moving” which he saw at St. Denis in 1551;

images seen in the air by means of a perspective glass; Archimedes’ sphere; the

dove of Archytas; and the wheel of Vulcan, spoken of by Aristotle; and comes down

to recent workmanship in Nuremberg, where an artificer let fly an insect of iron,

that buzzed about the guests at table, and then returned “to his master’s hand agayne

as though it were weary.” All these things are easily achieved he says, by “skill, will

industry and ability duly applied to proof.” “But is any honest student, or a modest

Christian philosopher, to be, for such like feats, mathematically and mechanically

wrought, counted and called a conjuror? Shall the folly of idiots and the mallice of

the scornfull so much prevaile that he who seeketh no worldly gaine or glory at

their hands, but onely of God the Threasor of heavenly wisdom and knowledge of

pure veritie, shall he, I say, in the mean space, be robbed and spoiled of his honest

name and fame? He that seeketh, by S. Paul’s advertisement in the creatures’

properties and wonderfull vertues, to find juste cause to glorifie the eternall and

Almightie Creator by, shall that man be condemned as a companion of Hell-hounds

and a caller and conjuror of wicked damned spirits?” Then he recounts his years of

study, and asks, “Should I have fished with so large and costly a nett, and been so

long time drawing, even with the helpe of Lady Philosophie and Queen Theologie,

and at length have catched but a frog, nay a Devill?...How great is the blindness and

boldness of the multitude in things above their capacitie!”[ Then he refers to

some who have appeared against him in print.

“O my unkind countrymen. O unnatural Countrymen, O unthankfull

countrymen, O brainsicke, Rashe, spitefull and disdainfull countrymen. Why

oppresse you me thus violently with your slaundering of me, contrary to veritie,

and contrary to your own conscience? And I, to this hower, neither by worde, deede

or thought, have bene anyway hurtfull, damageable, or injurious to you or yours!

Have I so long, so dearly, so farre, so carefully, so painfully, so dangerously fought

and travailed for the learning of wisedome and atteyning of vertue, and in the end

am I become worse than when I began? Worse than a madman, a dangerous

member in teh Commonwelath and no Member of the Church of Christ? Call you

this to be learned? Call you this to be a philosopher and a lover of wisdome?”

He goes on to speak of examples before his time to whom in godliness and

learning he is not worthy to be compared: — ”patient Socrates,” Apuleius, Joannes

Picus and Trithemius, Roger Bacon, “the flower of whose worthy fame can never

dye nor wither,” and ends by summing up the people who can conceive nothing

outside the compass of their capacity as of four sorts: — ”vain prattling busybodies,

fond friends, imperfectly zealous, and malicious ignorant.” Of these he is inclined

to think the fond friends the most damaging, for they overshoot the mark and relate

marvels and wonderful feats which were never done, or had any spark of likelihood

to be done, in order that other men may marvel at their hap to have such a learned

friend.[ The eloquent irony of this passage seems equalled only by its

extraordinary universality, its knowledge of human character and its high

philosophic spirit. At what a cost did a seeker after scientific truths follow his

calling in the sixteenth century!

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“In her princely countenance I never perceived frown toward me, or

discontented regard or view on me, but at all times favourable and gracious, to the

joy and comfort of my true, faithful and loyal heart.” — DEE, of Queen Elizabeth.

The promised benefice did not yet come, although Dee’s friends at Court were

all busy on his behalf. Either now or later, he was actually mentioned as Provost of

Eton, and the Queen “answered favourably.” Mistress Blanche Parry and Mistress

Scudamore, lady-in-waiting to Anne, Countess of Warwick, urged his claims for the?Mastership of St. Cross at Winchester, which it was thought Dr. Watson would soon

vacate. But all he seems to have obtained was a fresh dispensation from Matthew

Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, to enjoy the two Midland rectories for ten years.[

He continued his literary work, and beside writing new manuscript treatises,

bethought himself of an old one, which although printed had not received great

attention. This was the Propoedeumata Aphoristica (London, 1558), dedicated to his

old and dear friend and fellow-student at Louvain, Mercator, “my Gerard,” as he

affectionately calls him. In January, 1568, Dee presented a copy of a new edition,

with an address to the studious and sincere philosophical reader, dated December 24,

1567, from “our museum” at Mortlake, to “Mr. Secretary Cecil, now Lord

Treasurer.” Two copies were given at the same time to the Earl of Pembroke, one

for him to use or give away at his pleasure, the other, by Cecil’s advice, to be

presented by him to the Queen. Within three days, Dee heard from Pembroke that

she had graciously accepted and well liked his book. This gratifying information

was rendered acceptable by a gift: — ”He gave me very bountifully in his owne

behalf xxlib. to requite such my reverent regard of his honour.”[ An interview with

the Queen followed on February 16, at 2 o’clock, when there was talk between them

in the gallery at Westminster “of the great secret for my sake to be disclosed unto her

Majesty by Nicholas Grudius, sometime one of the secretaries to the Emperor

Charles V.” Of this alchemical secret, no doubt concerning transmutation, Dee

writes after, “What was the hinderance of the perfecting of that purpose, God best

knoweth.”[ He was now over forty, and had a natural desire to range himself and

house his library. Before 1570 he took up his abode with his mother, in a house

belonging to her at Mortlake, on the river Thames. It was an old rambling place,

standing west of the church between it and the river. Dee added to it by degrees,

purchasing small tenements adjoining, so that at length it comprised laboratories

for his experiments, libraries and rooms for a busy hive of workers and servants.

Mrs. Dee occupied a set of rooms of her own. Nothing of the old premises now

remains, unless it be an ancient gateway leading from the garden towards the river.

After Dee’s death the house passed through an interesting phase of existence, being

adapted by Sir Francis Crane for the Royal tapestry works, where, encouraged by a

handsome grant of money and orders from the parsimonious James, suits of

hangings of beautiful workmanship were executed under the eye of Francis Cleyne,

a “limner,” who was brought over from Flanders to undertake the designs. At the

end of the eighteenth century, a large panelled room with red and white roses,

carved and coloured, was still in existence. Early in the nineteenth century the

house was used for a girls’ school, kept by a Mrs. Dubois.[ Here Dee took up his

abode. Its nearness to London and to the favourite places of Elizabeth’s residence —

Greenwich, Hampton Court, Sion House, Isleworth, and Nonsuch — was at first

considered a great advantage, and the journey to and from London was almost

invariably made by water. The Queen desired her astrologer to be near at hand.

When he fell dangerously ill at Mortlake in 1571, after a tedious journey abroad into

the duchy of Lorraine on some mysterious errand, Elizabeth sent down two of her

own physicians, Doctors Atslowe and Balthorp, to attend him. Lady Sidney was also

despatched with kind, and gracious, and “pithy” messages from the sovereign, and

delicacies, “divers raretiess,” were supplied from the royal table to supplement his

mother’s provision for the invalid. The Queen seems to have felt a special

obligation to look after him, as she had sent him on some mission of her own,?which probably we shall not be far wrong in thinking connected with Dee’s

alchemistic experiments. Every Court in Europe at this time had astrologers and

alchemists in its employ, and the Queen and Burleigh were as anxious as Dee that

he should really attain the ever-elusive secret of transmutation. Dee had of course

carried the Queen’s passport for himself and a couple of servants, with horses, and

had obtained permits through foreign ambassadors in London to travel freely

through various countries.[ Dee was now bent on rather a strange form of

public service. On October 3, 1574, he wrote a very remarkable letter to Lord

Burleigh of four and a half folio pages in that best printed hand of his which offers

no excuse for skipping. His own paramount deserts are very naturally one of the

main subjects. He has spent all his money and all his life in attaining knowledge.

“Certes, by due conference with all that ever I yet met with in Europe, the poor

English Bryttaine (Il favorita di vostra Excellentia) hath carried the Bell away. God

Almighty have the glory.” If he had only a sufficiency of two or three hundred

pounds a year, he could pursue science with ease. Failing that, there is another way.

Treasure trouve is a very casual thing, and the Queen is little enriched thereby, in

spite of her royal prerogative. No one knows this better than the Lord Treasurer.

Now, if her Majesty will grant him, but Letters Patent under her hand and seal, the

right for life to all treasure he can find, he promises to give Burleigh one half, and of

course to render to the Queen and Commonwealth the proportion that is theirs. It

is not the gold, as wealth, that appeals to this man of books and stars: —

“The value of a mine is matter for King’s Treasure, but a pott of two or three

hundred pounds hid in the ground, wall, or tree, is but the price of a good book, or

instrument for perspective astronomy, or some feat of importance.”

He has spent twenty years in considering the subject; people from all parts

have consulted him about dreams, visions, attractions and demonstrations of

sympathia et antipathia rerum;” but it is not likley he would counsel them to

proceed without permission from the State. Yet what a loss is here!

“Obscure persons, as hosiers or tanners, can, under color of seeking assays of

metalls for the Saymaster, enojoy libertie to dig after dreamish demonstrations of

places. May not I then, in respect of my payns, cost, and credit in matters

philosophical and mathematicall, if no better or easier turn will fall to my Lot from

her Majestie’s hands, may I not then be thought to mean and intend good service

toward the Queen and this realm, yf I will do the best I can at my own cost and

charge to discover and deliver true proofe of a myne, vayn, or ore of gold or silver,

in some place of her Grace’s kingdom, for her Grace’s only use?”

The Society of Royal Mines had been incorporated May 28, 1565, and the

Queen had granted patents to Germans and others to dig for mines and ores. It was

well known that the country abounded in hidden treasure. The valuables of the

monasteries had been, in many cases, hastily buried before the last abbot was ejected

at the dissolution. The subject had a special fascination for Dee, who was conscious

of a “divining rod” power to discover the hiding places. He made a curious diagram

of ten localities, in various counties, marked by crosses, near which he believed

treasure to lie concealed. He ends his letter to Burleigh with a more practical and?much more congenial request. He has been lately at Wigmore Castle, and has seen a

quantity of parchments and papers from which he has copied accounts, obligations,

acquittances. Will the Treasurer give him a letter to Mr. Harley, keeper of the

records there, asking permission to examine them and report as to the contents?

“My fantasy is I can get from them, at my leisure, matter for chronicle or pedigree, by

way of recreation.” So he ends with an apology for his long letter and is “you

Lordship’s most bownden John Dee.”

Nothing seems to have resulted from this letter at the time; later he did

receive a grant of royalties from a mine.

in 1575 Dee married. He seems to have had no time for such an event before.

He was now in his forty-eighth year, and did not execute the fatal folly (which, in his

Court life, he had seen many times exemplified) of commiting the indiscretion first

and informing the Queen after. He duly laid before her his intention, and received

in return a “very gracious letter of credit for my marriage.” He also had

congratulatory epistles from Leicester and from Christopher Hatton.

The Queen, when out riding in Richmond Park with her lords and ladies,

would sometimes pass through the East Sheen Gate, down the hill towards the

river, and would stop at the house between Mortlake Church and the Thames,

desiring to be shown the latest invention of her astrologer, or the newest acquisition

of his library. On the afternoon of one such windy day in march, 1576, she arrived at

a slightly unlucky moment, for Dee’s young wife, after a year of marriage, had just

died, and not four hours earlier had been carried out of the house for burial in the

churchyard opposite. Hearing this, Elizabeth refused to enter, but bade Dee fetch his

famous glass and explain its properties to her outside in the field. Summoning

Leicester to her assistance, she alighted from her horse by the church wall, was

shown the wonderful convex mirror, admired the distorted image of herself, and

finally rode away amused and merry, leaving the philosopher’s distress at his recent

bereavement assuaged for the moment by such gracious marks of royal interest and

favour. And so this wraith of Dee’s first wife fades away in the courtly picture, and

we do not even know her name.

He turned more than ever to literary work and followed up the scholastic

books dedicated to the young King Edward VI. and the studies of astrological

hieroglyphs with books of another kind. To this year of historical labours, perhaps,

belongs a letter from Dee to his “loving friend,” Stow, the historian. Contrary to

Dee’s careful practice, it is undated, save for day and month, “this 5th of December.”

He has evidently been the means of introducing a fellow-author in influential

quarters, for he says, “My friend, Mr. Dyer, did deliver your books to the two Earls,

who took them thankfully, but, as he noted, there was no reward commanded of

them. What shall be hereafter, God knoweth. So could not I have done.” Then he

adjures Stow to “hope as well as I,” and turns from considering fruits to the sources

of their toil. He sends a list of the varius ports, including the Cinque Ports, that

have a mayor or bailey, all except Gravesend, which has a portreeve. Stow may get

fuller information, “the very true plat,” from Lord Cobham’s secretary. He returns a

manuscript of Asser’s Saxon Chronicle; “it is not of the best and perfectest copy. I

had done iwth it in an hour. If you have Floriacensis Wigornensis [the Chronicle of

Florence of Worcester] I would gladly see him a little.”?Stow, like Dee, was a Londoner and, within a year or two, of the same age. He

had already published his Annals of England, which had then gone through four


Dee now began to keep a diary of his doings, written in the pages and margins

of three fat quarto almanacs, bound in sheepskin and clasped. Quotations have

perhaps already shown that his style, his spelling, his use of words, is that we expect

from a man of his wide culture and reading. He was of the new learning, though

before Shakespeare and Bacon. He had also two or more distinct handwritings, a

roman hand with neat printed letters, and a scribbling hand. In the former all his

manuscript works and his letters are written; his diary is in the last. This diary was

quite unnoticed until about 1835, when the almanacs were discovered at Oxford in

the Ashmolean Library, having been acquired by Elias Ashmole, a devout believer

in hermetic philosophy and collector of all alchemical writings. They were

transcribed (very inaccurately) by J.O. Halliwell and printed by the Camden Society

in 1842.

The books contain a strange medley of borrowings and lendings, births and

deaths, illnesses, lawsuits, dreams and bickerings; observations of stars, eclipses and

comets, above all of the weather (for Dee was a great meteorologist), of horoscopes,

experiments in alchemy and topographical notes. Here are some of the earliest

entries: —

“1577. Jan. 16. The Earl of Leicester, Mr. Philip Sidney, and Mr. Dyer, etc.,

came to my house.” This was Edward Dyer, Sidney’s friend, afterwards to be

dramatically associated with Dee and kelley in their reputed discovery of the secret

of makig gold. “Feb. 19th. great wynde S.W., close, clowdy. March 11. My fall upon

my right knucklebone about 9 o’clock. Wyth oyle of Hypericon in 24 hours eased

above all hope. God be thanked for such his goodness to his creatures! March 12.

Abrahamus Ortelius me invisit Mortlakii.” This interesting visit from the great

Dutch map-maker is entirely omitted in the printed diary. “May 20. I hyred the

barber of Chyswick, Walter Hooper, to kepe my hedges and knots in as good order as

he seed them then, and that to be done with twise cutting in the year, at the least,

and he to have yearlly five shillings and meat and drink.”

Then he speaks of a visitor, Alexander Simon, who comes from persia, and

has promised his “service” on his return, probably to assist with information on

Eastern lore and wisdom. His friend and neighbour, William Herbert, sends him

notes upon his already published Monas. Another work is ready for press, and he is

constrained to raise money, whether for the printing or other expenses. In June he

borrowed 40 pounds from one, 20 pounds from another, and 27 pounds upon “the

chayn of gold.” On August 19, his new book is put to printing (one hundred copies)

at John Day’s press in Aldersgate.

This was another of those works, so pithy and so alive in their remarkable

application to the future, which have fallen with their author into undeserved

neglect. Dee had made suggestions about supplying officers of the army with

perspective glasses as part of their equipment. Now his friendship with the Gilberts,

Davis, Hawkins, Frobisher, and others off the great sea-captains, drew his attention

to the sister service and the sea power of “this blessed isle of Albion.” He had spent

most of the previous year (1576) in writing a series of volumes to be entitled

“General and Rare Memorials pertayning to the perfect art of Navigation.” The first?volume, The British Monarchy, or Hexameron Brytannicum, was finished in

August. It was dedicated to Christopher Hatton in some verses beginning: —

“If privat wealth be leef and deere

To any wight on British soyl,

Ought public weale have any peere?

To that is due all wealth and toyle.

Whereof such lore as I of late

Have lern’d, and for security,

By godly means to Garde this state,

To you I now send carefully.”

The intention is better than the lines. Dee was no poet, and even a bad

versifier, but he would not have been a true Elizabethan had he not on special

occasions dropped into rhyme, like the rest of his peers.

The second volume, The British Complement, “larger in bulk than the

English Bible,” was written in the next four months and finished in December. It

was never published; its author tells us it would cost many hundreds of pounds to

print, because of the tables and figures requisite, and he must first have a

“comfortable and sufficient opportunity or supply thereto.” The necessary funds

were never forthcoming, and the book remained in manuscript. A considerable

part of it is devoted to an exposition of the “paradoxall” compass which its author

had invented in 1557.

The third volume was mysterious; it wsa to be “utterly suppressed or

delivered to Vulcan his custody.” The fourth was Famous and Rich Discoveries, a

book, he thinks, “for British Honour and Wealth, of as great godly pleasure as

worldly profit and delight.” It was a work of great historical research which never

saw the light.

The prejudice against Dee was so strong, and he was so much misunderstood,

some persons openly attributing his works to other writers, others accusing him of

selfishly keeping all his knowledge to himself, many perverting his meaning

through ignorance, and again one, a Dutch philosopher, publishing a treatise which

was in substance a repetition of his, that he determined to withhold his name from

the publication. The anonymity is not, however, very well maintained, for Dee

used the flimsy device of a preface to the reader by an “unknown friend,” in which

all the griefs and ill usages of that “harmless and courteous gentleman,” “that

extraordinary studious gentleman,” the author, are freely aired. Under the thin

disguise, Dee’s high opinion of his own merits peeps, nay stares, out. Slanders have

been spread against him, a damaging letter counterfeited by Vincent Murphy, his

name and fame injured; he has been called “the arch-conjurer of the whole

kingdom.” “Oh, a damnable sklander,” he bursts out, “utterly untrue in the whole

and in every worde and part thereof, as before the King of Kings will appear at the

dreadful day.” It is no conceit on Dee’s part, with his European reputation, to say

that he “had at God his most mercifull handes received a great Talent of knowledge

and sciences, after long and painful and costly travails.” And he goes on to say that

he is both warned by God and of of his own disposition to enlarge the same and to

communicate it to others, but now he finds himself discouraged; he cannot “sayl

against the winds eye,” or pen any more treatises for his disdainful and unthankful

countrymen to use or abuse, or put his name to any writing. The unknown friend

has no desire to flatter the studious gentleman, but considering all his contributions

to learning, he may honestly say, without arrogancy and with great modesty, that “if

in the foresaid whole course of his tyme he had found a constant and assistant

Christian Alexander, Brytain should now now have been destitute of a Christian


But he soon gets engrossed in his subject, whichis to urge the importance of

establishing “a Petty Navy Royall, of three score tall ships or more, but in no case

fewer,” of 80 to 200 tons burden, to be thoroughly equipped and manned “as a cinfirt

abd safeguard to the Realme.” He shows the security it would give to or merchants,

the usefulness in “deciphering our coasts,” sounding channels and harbours,

observing of tides. Thousands of soldiers, he says, “will thus be hardened and well

broke to the rage and disturbance of the sea, so that in time of need we shall not be

forced to use all fresh-water Soldyers,” but we shall have a crew of “hardy sea-soldyers”

ready to hand. This is interesting as showing that the word “sailor” was

not yet in use. Then he touches on the question of unemployment: “hundreds of

lusty handsome men will this way be well occupied and have needful maintenance,

which now are idle or want sustenance, or both.” “These skilful sea-soldyers will be

more traynable to martiall exploits, more quick-eyed and nimble [he quotes Pericles

for this], than the landsmen.” The Petty Navy Royall, as apart from the Grand Navy

Royall, will look after pirates, will protest our valuable fisheries, and generally serve

us in better stead than four such forts as “Callys or Bulleyn.” Coming to the

financial side, he asserts that every natural born subject of this “British Empire” will

willingly contribute towards this “perpetual benevolence for sea security” the

hundredth penny of his rents and revenues, the five hundredth penny of his goods

valuation, for the first seven years, and for the second seven the hundred and

fiftieth penny and the seven hundred and fiftieth penny of goods valuation, the

same, after fourteen years, to be commuted for ever to half the original contribution.

He calculated this tax would amount to 100,000 pounds or over. If that is not

sufficient, he would exact a second tax (exempting all such counties, towns, and the

five ports, as have Letters Patent for such immunity) of the six hundredth penny of

every one’s goods and revenues. He would have twenty victualling ports, in every

part of the kingdom, “the incredible abuses of purveyors duly reformed.” He would

have a stop put to carrying our gunpowder and saltpetre out of the realm. “Good

God,” he cries, “who knoweth not what proviso is made and kept in other Common

Weales against armour carrying out of their Limits?” He speaks of many hundred

pieces of ordnance lately carried out of the kingdom, so that we must make new;

and deplores the wholesale destruction of our forests and timber (which is needed

for ships) to keep the iron works going. Then he foreshadows the Trinity House by

asking for a “Grand Pilot generall of England.” He outlines a scheme of navy

pensions, and in relation to the fisheries quotes sanitary statutes of Richard II. He

devotes a chapter to the history of “that peaceable and provident Saxon, King

Edgar,” his “yearly pastime of sailing round this island in summer, guarded by his

fleet of 4,000 sail,” and speaks of the efficiency of Edgar’s navy and the maintenance

of his forts upon the coast. Then he passes to his final argument. We must attain

this “incredible political mystery” — the supermacy of our sea power. We must be

“Lords of the Seas” in order that out “wits and travayles” may be employed at home

for the enriching of the kingdom, that “our commodities (with due store reserve)

may be carried abroad,” and that peace and justice may reign. “For we must keep

our own hands and hearts from doing or intending injury to any foreigner on sea or


Enough has been said of this book, perhaps, to show that it is a remarkable

contribution towards the history of the navy and the fishing industries of Britain. It

may be contended that if within twelve years England could offer a crushing defeat

to the greatest sea power of the world, and establish herself mistress of the seas, she

was not in need of theoretical advice from a landsman on the subject, but at any rate

Dee’s treatise voices the ideals of the times, the hopes that inspired all true lovers of

their country and of their Queen in the sixteenth century. In the thunders of the

Armada they were to be realised.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Content I live, this is my stay,

I seek no more than may suffice;

I press to bear no haughty sway,

Look, what I lack my mind supplies:

Lo! thus I triumph like a king,

Content with that my mind doth bring.”

— Sir Edward Dyer.

That October the Queen and the whole Court were thrown into a perturbed

state of mind by a strange appearance in the heavens. This was the comet which the

Swedish astronomer, Kepler, declared to predict the appearance in the north of

Europe of a prince who should lay waste all Germany, and should vanish in 1632. It

was lucky for his prognostications that Gustavus Adolphus was really bornin

Finland, did embroil Central Europe in the Thirty Years’ War, and did die in 1632.

What the “blazing star,” as they called it, foreboded, no one at Court could

tell; Dee was summoned forthwith to expound the phenomenon. “Her Majestie

took great pleasure to hear my opinion, for the judgment of some had unduly bred

great fear and doubt in many of the Court, being men of no small account. For three

diverse dayes she did use me.” Dee did not forget to urge his suit to the Queen, not

so much this time for preferment but for protection.

“Her Majestie promised unto me great security against any of her kingdom

that would by reason of any my rare studies and philosophical exercises unduly seek

my overthrow. Whereupon I again to her Majestie made a very faithful and

inviolable promise of great importance. The first part whereof, God is my witness I

have truely and sincerely performed; tho’ it be not yet evident, how truely, or of

what incredible value. The second part, by God his great mercies and helps, may in

due time be performed, if my plat for the meanes be not misused or defaced.”

Nearly two years passed before Dee married his second wife,

Jane Fromond, of East Cheam, Surrey. She was a lady-in-waiting

at the Court to Lady Howard of Effingham, wife of the Lord

Admiral (Charles Howard) who was afterwards in command of the

fleet victorious against the “invincible” Spanish Armada. Lady

Howard proved a true friend both to Jane and her elderly but

learned husband throughout the rest of her life.

He paid a long visit to the Court at Windsor a couple of months before the

marriage, staying there from November 22 to December 1, 1577, and records

interviews with the Queen on various days, and with “Mr. Secretary Walsingham.”

It may be presumed that the marriage was then arranged, for without the Queen’s

consent it could never have taken place. Just before leaving, he had a conversation

with Sir Christopher Hatton, the newly-made knight of that day (December 1).

The marriage took place on February 5, 1578, at one o’clock, as the bridegroom

tells in his diary, but at what church he omits to say. Perhaps it took place in a Royal

Chapel at Court. The young bride was twenty-two. She was a clever, well-born

woman, hasty and quick-tempered, but of a steadfast and thorough faithfulness. It

was no easy task to be the wife of a brilliant and erudite mathematician nearly thirty

years her senior, but to the end of her days Jane proved herself a true and fitting

helpmate, a most careful and devoted mother to her eight children. Little could she

have foreseen at this bridal hour into what strange paths the coming years would

lead her. Dee’s devotion to his Jane, his growing respect for her force of character, is

faithfully reflected in his diary, where every detail of her doings and her health is

studiously entered.

Before the end of the year, he had to leave home and undertake a sudden

journey abroad at the command of the Queen’s ministers. Elizabeth, in spite of an

iron constitution, was ill and distracted with toothache and rheumatic pains. She

had come to Richmond from Greenwich on September 25, and the next day the fine

weather broke up. “The first rayn that came for many a day,” says Dee, “all pasture

about us was withered. Rayn in afternone like Aprile showres.” A week or two

after this he was summoned to Hampton Court, and had a conference of two hours

with the Queen, from nine to eleven in the morning. Dr. Bayly, the Queen’s

physician, came to Mortlake on October 16 to consult with him, for his profound

hermetic studies gave him all the prestige of a super-doctor. On the 22nd Jane (Dee

still writes of her as “Jane Fromonds,” probably to distinguish her from his mother,

Jane Dee) went to Hampton Court. She found the Queen no better, in fact a worse

fit of paint than ever occurred on the 25th, lasting from nine in the evening till after

midnight. On the 28th, Leicester and Walsingham decided to send Dee abroad to

consult with some foreign physician about the malady. He was given his

instructions at nine o’clock on November 4th; on the 7th he reached Gravesend,

and sailed from Lee onthe 9th. By three o’clock on the 14th, he was in Hamburg; in

Berlin on December 6; and on the 11th at Frankfurt-upon-Oder. The entry on the

15th, “newes of Turnifer’s comming, 8 o’clock, by a speciall messenger,” looks as if

the object of his journey was attained. There are no more details of the business.

The diary is resumed in March, 1579, with some trivial entries about his

showing Mr. John Lewis and his son, the physician, how to draw aromatical oils,

and a note of his cat getting a young fledgling sparrow that `had never had but one

— the right — wing, naturally.”

Dee’s mother surrendered to him on June 15, 1579, the house and lands at

Mortlake, with reversion to his wife Jane, and to his heirs and assigns after him, for

ever. The document was delivered to him by a surveyor from Wimbledon (in

which parish Mortlake was included) under the tree by the church. The fine for the

surrender — twenty shillings — was paid to the Queen, as Lady of the Manor, on

October 31.

A month later, on his fifty-second birthday, July 13, 1579, Dee’s eldest son,

Arthur, was born. The event was coincident with another, for that same night, at

ten o’clock, Jane’s father, Mr. Fromond (Dee always adds an “s” to the name), was

seized with a fit and rendered speechless; he died on Tuesday, the 14th, at four in the

morning. Arthur was christened at three o’clock on the 16th; Edward Dyer and “Mr.

Doctor Lewis, judge of the Admiralty,” were his godfathers; his godmother was one

of Dee’s Welsh relations, “my cosen, Mistress Blanche Parry, of the Queen’s Privy

Chamber.” She was represented by another cousin, Mistress Aubrey, from Kew.

“August 9. Jane Dee churched,” is almost the next thing recorded.

Dyer was already a person in considerable favour with the Queen. He was

Sidney’s great friend, and after the poet’s death on the field of Zutphen, was legatee

of half his books. Dyer was no mean poet himself, even among his greater

compeers. He is the author of those immortal verses on “Contentment,” beginning

“My mind to me a kingdom is,” which were set to music in 1588 by William Byrd.

We shall meet him again in these pages.

Dee of course knew all about Elizabeth’s long flirtation with the King of

France’s brother, Duc d’Alencon, and her diplomatic holding off from the match.

He notes Mr. Stafford’s arrival as an emissary from “Monsieur.” The Queen kept a

very tender spot in her heart for this ugly little deformed suitor, and Dee has a

remarkable note of a call from her at Mortlake as she returned from Walsingham’s

on February 11, 1583: “Her Majesty axed me obscurely of Monsieur’s state. I said he


“ (dead-alive).

Pupils now began to resort to Dee. “John Elmeston, student of Oxford, cam to

me for dialling.” “Mr. Lock brought Benjamin his sonne to me: his eldest sonne

also, called Zacharie, cam then with him.” This was Michael Lock, the traveller.

Zachary was the eldest of Lock’s fifteen children; Benjamin afterwards wrote on

alchemy — A Picklock for Ripley’s Castle.

It was a stormy October, of continuous rains and floods for three or four days

and nights, and a “raging wynde at west and southerly.” Six persons were drowned

in the Kew ferry boat, “by reason of the vehement and high waters overwhelming

the boat aupon the roap, but the negligens of the ferryman set there to help.” Mrs.

Dee had a strange dream that “one cam to her and touched her, saying, `Mistress

Dee, you are conceived of child, whose name must be Zacharias; be of good chere, he

sal do well, as this doth.’“ This, meaning Arthur, had a sharp illness soon after,

however, and when the next child arrived, in two years’ time, it chanced to be a girl,

who was named Katherine. So the dream went by contraries after all. Arthur was

weaned in August, and his nurse discharged, with her wages, ten shillings, for the

quarter ending at Michaelmas, paid in full. Dee is an exact accountant as well as

diarist, and enters every payment with precise care.

The Queen came riding down from Richmond in her coach, to see what her

astrologer was doing, on Septermber 17, 1580, and put the household in a flutter.

She took?“The higher way of Mortlake field, and when she came right against the

church, she turned down toward my house. And when she was against my garden

in the field, her Majestie stayed there a good while, and then came into the field at

the great gate of the field, where her Majestie espied me at the door, making

reverent and dutiful obeysance unto her; and with her hand, her Majestie beckoned

for me to come to her, and I came to her coach side; her Majesty then very speedily

pulled off her glove and gave me her hand to kiss; and to be short, her Majestie

willed me to resort oftener to her Court, and by some of her Privy Chamber to give

her to weete when I am there.”

One can picture the gorgeously dressed and pearl-bedecked Queen, her

auburn hair glistening in the sun, beckoning majestically to her astrologer, bidding

him attend and swell the troops of courtiers and admirers, demanding imperiously

to be let know when he came, and to be kept informed of all he did. Dee was a

handsome man, tall and slender; he wore a beard, pointed and rather long. Among

the crowd of personable courtiers in their rich and most becoming suits, he would

be no inconspicuous figure.

It was perhaps the publication of the first volume of the “General and Rare

Memorials pertayning to the art of perfect Navigation” that brought Dee into

intimate relations with the navigators of the time. Or it may have been his

intimacy with them that suggested the work. the Hexameron appeared in

September, 1577, and in November the diarist first records a visit from one of them:

“Sir Umfrey Gilbert cam to me at Mortlake.” Gilbert was then living at Limehouse,

engaged in writing discourses on naval strategy and discovery. A few months later,

Dee mentions a suggestion he gave to Richard Hakluyt, the author of the fascinating

histories of the voyages: “I told Mr. Daniel Rogers, Mr. Hakluyt of the Middle

Temple being by, that Kyng Arthur and King Mary, both of them, did conquer

Gelindia, lately called Friseland, which he so noted presently in his written copy of

Monumenthensis, for he had no printed book thereof.” On August 5, one of

Gilbert’s company, “Mr. Reynolds of Bridewell, tok his leave of me as he passed

toward Dartmouth to go with Sir Umfrey Gilbert toward Hochelaga.” The

expedition sailed from Dartmouth on September 23, Sir Humphrey having obtained

his long-coveted charter to plant a colony in the New World in June. All his money

was sunk in this unfortunate expedition, which only met diasaster at the hands of a

Spanish fleet. Undaunted, however, Sir Humphrey set to work to collect more

funds and information to pursue his end. With the first Dee could not help him

much; with the last he believed he could, and in return he exacted a stake in the

results: “1580, Aug. 28th. my dealing with Sir Humfrey Gilbert graunted me my

request to him made by letter, for the royalties of discovery all to the north above

the parallell of the 50 degree of latitude, in the presence of Stoner, Sir John Gilbert

his servant or reteiner; and thereupon took me by the hand with faithful promises,

in his lodging of Cooke’s house in Wichcross Streete, where we dyned, onely us

three together, being Satterday.”

It was more than two years before Gilbert succeeded in getting enough other

persons to embark their capital in his project, and then he set out on his final

voyage, the second to Newfoundland (the first having been assisted by Raleigh, his

half-brother, in 1578). We all know the end, how, after he had planted “his raw?colony

of lazy landsmen, prison birds and sailors,” he set out in his little vessel, The

Squirrel, to explore the coast and sandbanks between Cape Breton Island and

Newfoundland, and then headed for England. In a storm off the Azores, the little

ship foundered and ws lost, its captain’s last words being, “We are as near Heaven by

sea as by land.”

With another brother, Adrian Gilbert, Dee had much closer relations, as we

shall shortly see. This younger half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh was reputed “a

great chemist in those days,” which of course meant something of an alchemist. He

is associated in one’s mind with “Sidney’s sister, Pembroke’s mother,” that

accomplished and beautiful inspirer of the most exquisite epitaph ever penned, for

he was one of the “ingenious and learned men” who filled her house at Wilton “so

that it ws like a college.” The Countess of Pembroke spent a great deal yearly in the

study of alchemy, and kept Adrian as a laborant for a time. He is described as a

buffoon who cared not what he said to man or woman of any quality. Bringing

John Davis, another of the breezy Devon sea captains, Adrian came to Mortlake to

effect a reconciliation after some uncomfortable passages caused, as they found, by

dishonest dealings on the part of William Emery, whom they now exposed. “John

Davis say’d that he might curse the tyme that ever he knew Emery, and so much

followed his wicked counsayle and advyse. So just is God!” Here again we suspect

Dee’s reputation for “magic” had been the trouble.

With the discovery of so many new coasts and islands across in the Western

seas, the Queen was anxious to know what right she had to call them hers, and what

earlier navigators had sailed to them before. After Frobisher’s three voyages in

search of the North-West Passage, she sent for the author of the Hexameron and

bade him set forth her title to Greenland, Estoteland (Newfoundland) and Friseland.

This document he calls “Her Majestie’s commandment — Anno 1578.” Either he

prepared another, or did not present this to the Queen for two years.

1580. — ”On Monday Oct. 3, at 11 of the clock before none, I delivered my two

Rolls of the Queene’s Majestie’s title unto herself in the garden at Richmond, who

appointed after dynner to heare fuder of the matter. Therfore betweene one and two

afternone, I was sent for into her highness Pryvy Chamber, where the Lord

Threasurer allso was, who having the matter slightly then in consultation, did seme

to doubt much that I had or could make the argument probable for her highnes’ title

so as I pretended. Wheruppon I was to declare to his honor more playnely, and at

his leyser, what I had sayd and could say therein, which I did on Tuesday and

Wensday following, at his chamber, where he used me very honorably on his


The next day Dee fancied that Burleigh slighted him. He called to see him,

and was not admitted; he stood in the ante- chamber when the great man came out,

but the Lord Treasurer swept by and “did not or would not speak to me.” Probably

he was pondering deeply on important matters of state. Dee’s hopes of preferment

fell to the ground, and he was persuaded that “some new grief was conceyved.” Dee

was ambitious; he was not yet surfeited with fame; of wealth he had none, hardly

even a competency; he was vain, and he knew that he had gifts which few of his

countrymen could rival or even understand; and he was no longer young. Such

advantages as he could attain must be secured quickly, if they were to be enjoyed at


“On the 10th, at four o’clock in the morning my mother Jane Dee dyed at

Mortlake; she made a godlye ende: God be praysed therfore! She was 77 yere old.”

News of this event quickly travelled to the Court at Richmond, and the

Queen determined to signalise her favour to Dee and her gratification at Burleigh’s

report of his geographical labours, which reached her on the same day as the news of

his loss, by a personal visit of condolence.

“Oct. 10th. The Quene’s Majestie, to my great cumfort (hora quinta), cam

with her trayn from the court, and at my dore graciously calling me to her, on

horsbak, exhorted me briefly to take my mother’s death patiently, and withall told

me that the Lord Threasurer had greatly commended my doings for her title, which

he had to examyn, which title in two rolls he had brought home two hours before;

and delivered to Mr. Hudson for me to receive at my coming from my mother’s

burial at church. Her Majestie remembered allso how at my wive’s death, it was her

fortune likewise to call uppon me.”

So the fancied slight was nothing. The Queen’s second remarkably-timed

visit was followed up by an haunch of venison from my Lord Treasurer, and an

atmosphere of satisfaction reigned. One of the rolls of which Dee writes is still in

existence. It has on one side of the parchment a large map of “Atlantis,” or America,

drawn with the skill of a practised cartographer. At the top is his name, “Joannes

Dee,” and the date, “Anno 1580.” Among his papers is a smaller map, upon which

large tracts in the Polar regions are marked “Infinite yse.” Thge other side of the roll

is devoted to proving the Queen’s title to lands she would never see or hear of,

under the four following heads: “1. The Clayme in Particular. 2. The Reason of the

Clayme. 3. The Credit of the Reason. 4. The value of that Credit by Force of Law.”

Dee was also busied this summer attending at the Muscovy House and

writing instructions and drawing a chart for the two captains, Charles Jackson and

Arthur Pett, for their North-East voyage to “Cathay,” or China.

He had perhaps joined the Company of the Merchant Venturers, for in

March, 1579, he had signed a letter with Sir Thomas Gresham, Martin Frobisher (as

every one knows, he was knighted in the thick of the Armada fight), and others, to

the Council of State, desiring that those Adventurers who have not paid shall be

admonished to send in contributions without delay. Another very interesting

remark tells how “Young Mr. Hawkins, who had byn with Sir Francis Drake, came

to me to Mortlake, in June, 1581; also Hugh Smith, who had just returned from the

Straits of Magellan.” In November, Dee is observing “the blasing star,” or comet, of

which, with its long tail, he makes a drawing on the margin of his diary. By the

22nd it had disappeared: “Although it were a cler night, I could see it no more.”

On June 7, 1581, at half-past seven in the morning, Dee’s second child and

eldest daughter, Katherine, was born. She was christened on the 10th, her sponsors

being Lady Katherine Crofts, wife of Sir James Crofts, Controller of the Queen’s

Household; Mistress Mary Scudamore, of the Privy Chamber, the Queen’s cousin;

and Mr. Packington, also a court gentleman. The infant was put out to nurse, first at

Barnes with Nurse Maspely, then transferred to Goodwife Bennett. On August 11

“Katherine Dee was shifted to nurse Garrett at Petersham, on Fryday, the next

day after St. Lawrence day, being the 11th day of the month. My wife went on foot

with her, and Ellen Cole, my mayd, George and Benjamin, in very great showers of


Nevertheless the little Katherine seemed to flourish, and there are entries of

monthly payments of six shillings to her nurse, with allowance for candles and

soap, up to August 8 of the following year, when “Kate is sickly,” and on the 20th is

reported as “still diseased.” Four or five days after, she ws taken from nurse Garret,

of Petersham, and weaned at home. The mother had several times been over to see

the child, sometimes on foot, attended by George or Benjamin, the servants, and

once by water with “Mistress Lee in Robyn Jackes bote.” The children seemed in

trouble at this time, for about seven weeks before Arthur “fell from the top of the

Watergate Stayres, down to the fote from the top, and cut his forhed on the right

eyebrow.” This was at the old landing-place at Mortlake. Their childish ailments

are always most carefully recorded in the diary, even when the cause is a box on the

ears — probably well earned — from their quick-tempered mother. Jane’s friends

Mr. and Mrs. Scudamore, and their daughter, and the Queen’s dwarf, Mrs. Tomasin,

all came for a night to Mortlake. Jane went back with Mistress Scudamore to the

Court at Oatlands. A number of other visitors are named, including “Mr. Fosker of

the wardrobe.”

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise

From outward things, whate’er you may believe

There is an inmost centre in us all

Where truth abides in fulness; and around

Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,

This perfect clear perception, which is truth.

A baffling and perverting carnal mesh

Binds it and makes all error; and to KNOW

Rather consists in opening out a way

Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape

Than in effecting entry for a light

Supposed to be without.”

— Browning, Paracelsus.

Dee had always, working with and under him, a number of young students

and assistants, who were admitted more or less to his inner counsels. If they proved

apt and diligent, he would reward them with promises of alchemical secrets,

“whereby they might honestly live”; once he promised 100 pounds, “to be paid as

soon of my own clere hability, I myght spare so much.” This was a very safe?provison.

Generous as he was, lavish to a fault, money never stuck near him, nor

was it of the least value in his eyes, except as a means of advancing science and

enriching others.

Naturally, jealousies arose among the assistants. They would suddenly

depart from his service, and spread ignorant and perverted reports of his

experiments. Roger Cook, who had been with his master fourteen years, took

umbrage “on finding himself barred from vew of my philosophical dealing with

Mr. Henrick.” He had imagined himself the chosen confidant, for to him Dee had

revealed, December 28, 1579, what he considered a great alchemical secret “of the

action of the elixir of salt, one upon a hundred.” Roger was now twenty-eight, “of a

melancholik nature, and had been pycking and devising occasions of just cause to

depart on the sudden,” for he was jealous of a newer apprentice. “On September

7th, 1581, Roger went for alltogether from me.” But it was not “alltogether,” for

Roger returned when Dee was old and inform and poor, and remained serving him

almost to the end. There was always something patriarchal in Dee’s care for the

members of his large household, evidenced abundantly in his diary. No doubt their

loyalty to him was often severely tried by harsh and cruel outside rumours, but as

they knew and loved his real nature they only drew closer towards him.

A new phase of his character is now forced upon us. He has appeared

hitherto as the man of learning, astronomer and mathematician, a brilliant lecturer

and demonstrator, diligent in probing the chemical and alchemical secrets of which

his vast reading, his foreign correspondence, and his unique library gave him

cognisance. Interested in geographical discovery and history, a bibliographical and

mathematical writer, his genuine contributions to science had been considerable.

He had written upon navigation and history, logic, travel, geometry, astrology,

heraldry, genealogy, and many other subjects. He had essayed to found a National

Library, and was contemplating a great work upon the reformation of the Calendar.

But these purely legitimate efforts of his genius were discounted in the eyes of his

contemporaries by the absurd suspicions with which his name had been associated

ever since his college days. After his arrest and trial by Bonner, he never really

succeeded in shaking off this savour of something magical. The popular idea of Dee

in league with evil powers was, of course, the natural result of ignorance and dull

understanding. To a public reared in superstition, untrained in reasoning,

unacquainted with the simple laws of gravitation, the power to raise heavy bodies

in the air at will, to see pictures in a simple crystal globe, or converse with

projections of the air, to forecast a man’s life by geometric or planetary calculations,

and to discern the influence of one chemical or mineral substance upon another,

seemed diabolically clever and quite beyond human agency. Even to study Nature

and her secrets was to lay oneself open to the suspicion of being a magician. We

must remember that in the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign it was thought

necessary to pass an Act of Parliament decreeing that all who practised sorcery

causing death should suffer death; if only injury was caused, imprisonment and the

pillory whould be the punishment. Any conjuration of an evil spirit was to be

punished by death as a felon, without benefit of clergy or sanctuary. Any discovery

of hidden treasure by magical means was punishable by death for a second offence.

But if “magic” was tottering on its throne, the reign of alchemy was still

uncontested. Belief in it was universal, its great votaries in the past were of all

nations. St. Dunstan of Glastonbury, Roger Bacon, Raymond Lully, Canon George

Ripley of Bridlington, Albertus Magnus, Cornelius Agrippa, Arnold de Villa Nova

and Paracelsus, all their writings, and hundreds of others, Dee had in his library and

constantly upon his tongue. Alchemy was not only a science, it was a religion and a

romance. It was even then enduring the birth-throes and sickly infancy of modern

chemistry, and the alchemists’ long search for the secret of making gold has been

called one of its crises. Long after this it was still an article of faith, that such a man

as Robert Boyle did not deny. We cannot forget that even that great chemist, Sir

Humphry Davy, reverenced the possibility, and refused to say that the alchemist’s

belief in the power to make gold was erroneous. How unlike Dante’s keen irony of

the dark and groping men who seek for “peltro,” or tin whitened with mercury. But

alchemy was bursting with many other secrets beyond the manufacture of gold. The

spiritual element abounding in all minerals, and the symbolism underlying every

actual substance, were deeply imbedded in it. It was a scienceof ideals. It ever led its

followers on to scale illimitable heights of knowledge, for in order to surpass all

material and rational nature, and attain the crowning end, did not God delegate His

own powers to the sage? So the art of healing was thought the noblest, the most

Godlike task, and no means of attaining hermetic wisdom were untried. The

psychical world became every bit as real to these religious mystics as the physical and

rational, which they understood so vaguely. Even the strange shapes which escaped

from the retorts of the old alchemists were known to them as “souls.” Their

successors called them spirits. Paracelsus named them as mercury, and it was left to

his pupil, Van Helmont, the true founder of all modern chemistry, to give the

name of gas.

It is easy to see how Dee, the astrologer, grew into close touch with those

psychic phenomena which, though they have become extremely familiar to us, as

yet continue to baffle our most scientific researches. When he first became

conscious of his psychic powers, and how far he himself was mediumistic, is harder

to discern. It is on May 25, 1581, that he makes in his diary the momentous entry: —

”I had sightin Chrystallo offered me, and I saw.” We may take it that he “saw”

through a medium, for he never afterwards seems to have been able to skry without

one. Perhaps his first crystal had then been given him, although, as we have seen,

he already owned several curious mirrors, one said to be of Mexican obsidian such

as was used for toilet purposes by that ancient race. He had made a study of optics,

and in his catalogue of the manuscripts of his library are many famous writings on

the spectrum, perspective and burning glasses, etc. Then came the trouble with

Roger, “his incredible doggedness and ungratefulness against me to my face, almost

ready to lay violent hands on me.” Dee hears strange rappings and knockings in his

chamber. A gentleman came from Lewisham to consult him about a dream many

times repeated. Dee prays with him, and “his dream is confirmed and better

instruction given.” A mysterious fire breaks out for the second time in “the

maydens” chamber at night. The knocking is heard again, this time accompanied

with a voice repeated ten times. No words apparently, but a sound like “the schrich

of an owl, but more longly drawn and more softly, as it were in my chamber.” He

has a strange “dream of being naked and my skyn all over wrought with work like

some kinde of tuft mockado, with crosses blew and red; and on my left arm, abowt

the arm in a wreath, these words I read: — `Sine me nihil potestis facere.’ And

another the same night of Mr. Secretary Walsingham, Mr. Candish and myself.”

Then he was ten days from home, at “Snedgreene, with John Browne, to hear and

see the manner of the doings.” Evidently some remarkable manifestation. he was

becoming more interested in psychic problems, but he was not able to proceed

without a medium, and the right one had not yet appeared.

Meanwhile, he fills his diary with all manner of interesting news. Vincent

Murphy, the “cosener” who had defamed him, and against whom in September,

1580, he had instituted a troublesome law-suit, was condemned by a jury at the

Guildhall to pay 100 pounds damages. “With much adoe, I had judgment against

him.” Five or six months later, he agreed with Mr. Godolphin to release the

cosener. Jean Bodin, the famous French writer on witches, and publicist, had come

to England with “Monsieur,” and Dee was introduced to him by Castelnau, the

French ambassador, in the “Chamber of Presence at Westminster.” Letters came

from Doctor Andreas Hess, the occult philosopher, sent through Dee’s friend,

Richard Hesketh, agent at Antwerp. There are also letters from Rome. John

Leonard Haller, of Hallerstein by Worms, came to him to say he had received

instructions for his journey into “Quinsay [or Northern china], which jorney I

moved him unto, and instructed him plentifully for observing the variation of the

compassin all places as he passed.” He notes, as if it were a common occurrence, a

“fowl falling out” between two earls at Court, Leicester and Sussex [the Lord

Chamberlain], tells how they “called each other traytor, wheruppon both were

commanded to keepe to theyre chambers at Greenwich, wher the Court was.” It

sounds like a schoolboys’ quarrel, but the royal schoolmistress would have them

both know that they were in disgrace for a time. In July, there was an eclipse of the

moon, but it was “clowdy, so as I could not perceyve it.” In August, about half-past

eight on the night of the 26th, “a strange Meteore in forme of a white clowde

crossing galaxium, lay north and sowth over our zenith. This clowde was at length

from the S.E. to the S.W., sharp at both ends, and in the West it was forked for a

while. It was about sixty degrees high, it lasted an howr, all the skye clere abowt and

fayr star-shyne.”

Dee made a journey into Huntingdonshire, by St. Neots, to Mr. Hickman’s at

Shugborough, in the county of Warwick. Young Bartholomew Hickman was

afterwards to become the companion and servant of his old age, and manifested

some slight mediumistic powers. On the way home, a month or two later, Dee rode

into Sussex to Chailey, probably to the glass workds there. The Queen and

“Monsieur” were at Whitehall.

A pretty little scene was enacted at Mortlake at the New Year, when “Arthur

Dee and Mary Herbert, they being but 3 yere old, the eldest of them, did mak as it

were a shew of childish marriage, of calling each other husband and wife.” Then

Dee essays a harmless little play upon words. “The first day Mary Herbert cam to her

father’s house at Mortlake, the second day she came to her father’s hosue at East

Shene.” Mrs. Dee went the same day to see the baby Katherine at Nurse Garret’s,

and Mistress Herbert went with her. So the two families were in great unity.

Sir George Peckham, who sailed with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, came to consult

Dee about exploration in North America, and promised a share in his patent of the

new lands. He also sent down his sea-master, Mr. Clement, and another gentleman,

Mr. Ingram, to see the mathematician. For Sir John Killigrew, Dee devised “a way

of protestation to save him harmless for compounding for the Spaniard who was

robbed: he promised me fish against Lent.” Haller came again to get instructions

how to transfer his money to Nuremburg, and to get letters of introduction to

Constantinople. By him, Dee sent letters to correspondents in Venice, where the

German explorer was to winter.

Mr. Newbury, who had been in India, came early in the New Year. Dee

recounts how the stage in that well-known old London place of amusement, the

Paris Garden, on Bankside, Southwark, fell down suddenly while it was crammed

with people beholding the bear-baiting. “Many people were killed thereby, more

hurt, and all amazed. The godly expound it as a due plague of God for the

wickedness there used, and teh Sabbath day so profanely spent.” Sunday was the

great day for the bear-fights.

“1583. — Jan. 23. Mr. Secretarie Walsingham cam to my howse, where by

good luk he found Mr. Awdrian Gilbert, and so talk was begonne of Northwest

Straights discovery.

“Jan. 24. Mr. Awdrian Gilbert and John Davis went by appointment to Mr.

Secretary, to Mr. Beale his house, where only we four were secret, and we made Mr.

Secretarie privie of the N.W. passage, and all charts and rutters were agreed uppon

in generall.

“Feb. 3. Mr. Savile, Mor. Powil the younger, travaylors, Mr. Ottomeen his

sonne cam to be acquaynted with me.

“Feb. 4. Mr. Edmunds of the Privie Chamber, Mr. Lee, Sir Harry Lee, his

brother, who had byn in Moschovia, cam to be acquaynted with me.

“Feb. 11. The Queene lying at Richmond went to Mr. Secretarie Walsingham

to dynner; she coming by my dore gratiously called me to her, and so I went by her

horse side as far as where Mr. Hudson dwelt.

“Feb. 18. Lady Walsingham cam suddenly to my house very freely, and

shortly after that she was gone, cam Syr Francis himself, and Mr. Dyer.

“March 6. I and Mr. Adrian Gilbert and John Davis did mete with Mr.

Alderman Barnes, Mr. Townson and Mr. Yong and Mr. Hudson, about the N.W.


“March 17. Mr. John Davys went to Chelsey with Mr. Adrian Gilbert to Mr.

Radforths, and so, the 18th day from thence, to Devonshyre.

“April 18. The Queene went from Richmond toward Greenwich, and at her

going on horsbak, being new up, she called for me by Mr. Rawly his putting her in

mynde, and she sayd `quod defertur non aufertur,’ and gave me her right hand to


While these every-day events were going on and being chronicled, Dee was

also occupying himself with the search for a medium. He first tried one named

Barnabas Saul (he seems to have been a licensed preacher), who professed himself

an occultist. Saul gives news of buried treasure — great chests of precious books

hidden somewhere near Oundle in Northamptonshire, but the disappointed book-lover

finds the hoard an illusion. Then Saul, who slept in a chamber over the hall

at Mortlake, is visited at midnight by “a spiritual creature.” The first real seance that

Dee records, “Actio Saulina,” took place on December 21, 1581. The skryer was

bidden to look into the “great crystalline globe,” and a message was transmitted by

the angel Annael through the percipient to the effect that many things should be

declared to Dee, not by the present worker, “but by him that is assigned to the stone.”

After New Year’s tide, on any day but the Sabbath, the stone was to be set in the sun

the brighter the day the better, and sight should be given. The sitters might “deal

both kneeling and sitting.” When we consider how very real to a devout person in

the Middle Ages apparitions of the devil and of evil spirits were, there seems

nothing at all extraordinary in Dee’s belief that good spirits also might be permitted

to come to his call, for purposes of good. A month or two after this, Saul was

indicted on some charge and tried in Westminster Hall, but, thanks to Mr. Serjeant

Walmesley and a couple of clever lawyers, he was acquitted. There was an end of

his clairvoyance, however: “he confessed he neyther herd or saw any spirituall

crature any more.” If the accusation against him had been that of sorcery, he was

wise to risk no further appearances in Westminster Hall. He seems to have spread

abroad many false reports about Dee, who reproached him bitterly when he called at

Mortlake a few months later. Dee had, however, gained psychical experience by

these early and tentative experiments. The field was now open for a maturer

applicant. When he arrived, he was to change the whole current of Dee’s life and

outlook, to become at once a helper and a stumbling-block, a servant and a master,

loving as a son, treacherous as only a jealous foe. It was a strange fate that sent

Edward Kelley to Dee at this moment, when everything was ripe for his appearance.

And it was characteristic of the man that he was ushered into Dee’s life under a

feigned name. On March 8, two days after Saul had confessed he saw and heard no

more of the spirits, Dee writes in his diary, “Mr. Clerkson and his frende cam to my

howse.” He makes the visit very emphatic by repeating the information: “Barnabas

went home abowt 2 or 3 o’clock, he lay not at my howse now; he went, I say, on

Thursday, and Mr. Clerkson came.” At nine o’clock the same night, there was a

wonderful exhibition of the aurora in the northern and eastern heavens, which Dee

describes minutely in Latin in the diary. The next day, March 9, he mentions

Clerkson’s friend by name as “Mr. Talbot,” and shows how that individual appears

to have begun ingratiating himself with his new patron by telling him what a bad

man his predecessor was. Barnabas had said that Dee would mock at the new

medium; Barnabas had “cosened” both Clerkson and Dee. This, Talbot professed to

have been told by “a spiritual creature.” The pair proceeded at once to business. On

the 10th, they sat downto gaze into “my stone in a frame given me of a friend,” with

very remarkable results. Information was vouchsafed that they should jointly

together have knowledge of the angels, if the will of God, viz., conjunction of mind

and prayer between them, be performed. They were bidden to “abuse not this

excellency nor overshadow it with vanity, but stick firmly, absolutely and perfectly

in the love of God for his honour, together.” There were forty-nine good angels, all

their names beginning with B, who were to be answerable to their call. The first

entry that Dee makes in his Book of Mysteries concerning Talbot is as follows: —

“One Mr. Edward Talbot cam to my howse, and he being willing and desyrous

to see or shew something in spirituall practise, wold have had me to have done

something therein. And I truely excused myself therein: as not, in the vulgarly

accownted magik, neyther studied or exercised. But confessed myself long tyme to

have byn desyrous to have help in my philosophicall studies through the cumpany

and information of the blessed Angels of God. And thereuppon, I brought furth to

him my stonein the frame (which was given me of a frende), and I sayd unto him

that I was credibly informed that to it (after a sort) were answerable Aliqui Angeli

boni. And also that I was once willed by a skryer to call for the good Angel Annael

to appere in that stone in my owne sight. And therefore I desyred him to call him,

and (if he would) Anachor and Anilos likewise, accounted good angels, for I was not

prepared thereto.

“He [Talbot] settled himself to the Action, and on his knees at my desk, setting

the stone before him, fell to prayer and entreaty, etc. In the mean space, I in my

Oratory did pray and make motion to God and his good creatures for the furdering

of this Action. And within one quarter of an hour (or less) he had sight of one in

the stone.”

The one to appear was Uriel, the Spirit of Light. On the 14th, the angel

Michael appeared, and gave Dee a ring with a seal. Only on two other occasions

does a tangible object pass between them. Dee was overjoyed at the success of his

new “speculator” or “skryer”; the sittings were daily conducted until March 21,

when the medium was overcome with faintness and giddiness, and Michael, who

was conversing with him, bade them rest and wait for a quarter of an hour. The

next day, Talbot departed from Mortlake, being bidden by Michael to go fetch some

books of Lord Monteagle’s which were at Lancaster, or thereby, and which would

else perish.

He returned before long, and all through April, instructions were being given

at the sittings for the future revelations. elaborate preparations were needed, and

they were describedin minute detail.

By April 29, a square table, “the table of practice,” was complete. It was made

of sweet wood, and was about two cubits high (“by two cubits I mean our usual

yard”), with four legs. On its sides certain characters, as revealed, were to be written

with sacred yellow oil, such as is used in chruches. Each leg was to be set upon a seal

of wax made in the same pattern as the larger seal, “Sigilla AEmeth,” which was to

be placed upon the centre of the table, this seal to be made of perfect, that is, clean

purified wax, 9 inches in diameter, 27 inches or more in circumference. It was to be

an inch and half a quarter of an inch thick, and upon the under-side was to be a

figure as below.

It was a mystical sign, similar to those in use in the East, and also used by contemporary astrologers


The four letters in the centre are the initials of the Hebrew words, “Thou art great for ever, O Lord,”

which were considered a charm in the Middle Ages.

The upper side of the seal was engraved with an elaborate figure obtained in

the following manner. First, a table of forty-nine squares was drawn and filled up

with the seven names of God — ”names not known to the angels, neither can they

be spoken or read of man. These names bring forth seven angels, the governors of

the heavens next unto us. Every letter of the angels’ names bringeth forth seven

daughters. Every daughter bringeth forth seven daughters. Every daughter her

daughter bringeth forth a son. Every son hath his son.”

The seal “was not to be looked upon without great reverence and devotion.”

It is extremely curious and interesting to relate that two of these tablets of

wax, “Sigillum Dei,” and one of the smaller seals for the feet of the table, with a

crystal globe, all formerly belonging to Dee, are still preserved in the British?Museum,

having come there from Sir Thomas Cotton’s library, where the table of

practice was also long preserved.

The spirits were kind enough to say: “We have no respect of cullours,” but

the table was to be set upon a square of red silk as changeable (i.e., shot) as may be,

two yards square, and a red silk cover, with “knops or tassels” at the four corners,

was to be laid over the seal, and to hang below the edge of the table. The crystal

glove in its frame was then to be set upon the centre of the cover, resting on the seal

with the silk between.

The skryer seated himself in “the green chair” at the table, Dee at his desk to

write down the conversations. These were noted by him then and there at the time,

and he is careful to particularise any remark or addition told him by the Ckryer

afterwards. Once a spirit tells him: “There is time enough, and we may take

leisure.” Whereupon Dee conversed directly with the visitant; sometimes

apparently only Talbot hears and repeats to him what is said. A golden curtain was

usually first seen in the stone, and occasionally there was a long pause before it was

withdrawn. Once Dee writes: “He taketh the darkness and wrappeth it up, and

casteth it into the middle of the earthen globe.” The spirits generally appeared in

the stone, but sometimes they stept down into a dazzling beam of light from it, and

moved about the room. On some occasions a voice only is heard. At the close of

the action, the “black cloth of silence is drawn,” and they leave off for the present.

There are very few comments or general impressions of the actions left by

Dee, but on one occasion he does use expressions that show his analytical powers to

have been actively at work to account for the phenomena. He brought his reason to

bear upon the means of communication with the unseen world in a remarkable

manner. In speaking to the angels one day he said: “I do think you have no organs

or Instruments apt for voyce, but are meere spirituall and nothing corporall, but

have the power and property from God to insinuate your message or meaning to ear

or eye [so that] man’s imagination shall be that they hear and see you sensibly.”

As Plotinus says, “Not everything whichis in the soul is now sensible, but it

arrives to us when it proceeds as far as sense.”

The minute descriptions of the figures seen are of course characteristic of

clairvoyant or mediumistic visions. In the case of Bobogel, the account of his “sage

and grave” attire — the common dress of a serious gentleman of the time — may be


“They that now come in are jolly fellows, all trymmed after the manner of

Nobilities now-a-dayes, with gylt rapiers and curled haire, and they bragged up and

downe. Bobogel standeth in a black velvet coat, and his hose, close round hose of

velvet upperstocks, over layd with gold lace. He hath a velvet hat cap with a black

feather in it, with a cape on one of his shoulders; his purse hanging at his neck, and

so put under his girdell. His beard long. He had pantoffolls and pynsons. Seven

others are apparelled like Bobogel, sagely and gravely.”

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Kelley did all his feats upon?The Devil’s looking-glass, a stone

Where, playing with him at bo-peep,

He solv’d all problems ne’er so deep.”

— Butler, Hudibras

It is now time to inquire who this Talbot, this seer and medium, was. Where

did he come from, and what was his previous history?

That he came to the Mortlake philosopher under a feigned name is perhaps

not so damning an accusation as might at first sight appear. There was in his case,

certainly, every reason why he should change his identity, if possible, but an alias in

those days was so common a thing that perhaps more stress has been laid upon

Kelley’s than is strictly fair.

The whole of Kelley’s story is so wildly and romantically coloured, it is so

incredible, and so full of marvels, that it is extremely difficult to know what to

believe. There is no disentangling the sober facts of his life from the romance

attributed to him; indeed, there are no sober facts, as the reader will see when the

accepted traditions of this extraordinary man’s career are laid down.

From March 8 to November, 1582, Edward Talbot, the skryer, came and went

in the Mortlake establishment, gazed in the crystal, and ingratiated himself into his

employer’s liking. Then he disappeared, and Edward Kelley took his place. There

had been a quarrel of some kind, precursor of many others, and Dee opens his

fourth Book of Mysteries, on November 15, “after the reconciliation with Kelley.”

Henceforth “E.K.” is his name.

Kelley was born at Worcester, on August 1, 1555, as appears by the horoscope

drawn for him by the astrologer. He began life as an apothecary’s apprentice, and

showed some aptitude for his calling. It has been stated that, under the name of

Talbot, he studied for a short time at Oxford, but left abruptly under a cloud. A few

years later, he was exposed in the pillory in Lancaster for having either forged

ancient title deeds or coined base money. Both feats are accounted to him. The next

incident in his career is a charge of having dug up a newly buried “caitiff’s” corpse in

Walton-le-Dale churchyard, Lancashire, for the purpose of questioning the dead, or

“an evil spirit speaking through his organs,” respecting the future of “a noble young

gentleman,” then a minor. After this savoury episode, Kelley is reported to have

been wandering in Wales (it is suggested that he was hiding from justice), when he

stumbled accidentally upon an old alchemical manuscript and two caskets or phials

containing a mysterious red and white powder. Another version of this discovery is

that Dee and Kelley together found the powder at Glastonbury. This we may

dismiss. Wherever he procured it, Kelley undoubtedly owned a small quantity of

some substance which he regarded as of priceless value, inasmuch as, if properly

understood and manipulated, it could be used for transmuting baser metals into


The reputation of the learned doctor of Mortlake, who was known all over

the Continent, was a favourite at Court, and in touch with every adventure by sea or

land, had of course reached Kelley. Dee’s parsonage of Upton-on-Severn, near

Worcester, did not trouble him much with responsibility, but it must have been on

one occasional visit to it that he received from the Dean of Worcester Catherdral a

Latin volume, in which he inscribed the gift thus: “Joannes Dee, 1565, Februarii 21.

Wigorniae, ex dono decani ecclesiae magistri Beddar.”?With the powder that he

did not know how to use, and the alchemical

manuscript which he could not decipher, and which yet might contain the

invaluable secret (if indeed there is any truth in the story of his find), Kelley, the

adventurer, sought out some means of introduction to the man so likely to help

him. He had dabbled in alchemy, and came to Mortlake with something of a

reputation, for Dee speaks of him as “that lerned man.” It is utterly unlikely that

Dee had heard anything of Kelley’s exploits in the north. Such doings would

scarcely penetrate the solmen recesses of the laboratory on the Thames side. So

Kelley arrived, and was recieved in all good faith. He told Dee that the last seer,

Barnabas, had “cosened” him, and seems to have at once impressed himself

favourably upon the astrologer, who at the moment was without a reliable assistant.

The sittings began, as we have seen, in March, and were successful immediately. In

May the message comes that “none shall enter into the knowledge of these

mysteries but this worker,” and Kelley’s position is secured.

Kelley was now about twenty-seven years old, and unmarried. He was bidden

by the spirits on April 20 to take a wife, “which thing to do,” he told Dee, “I have no

natural inclination, neither with a safe conscience may I do it.” but Michael had

made him swear on his sword to follow his counsel, so he married reluctantly, not

long after, Joan, or Johanna, Cooper, of Chipping Norton, who was eight years his

junior, and about nineteen.

There was little love on his side apparently, but the girl seems at any rate to

have essayed to do her duty as a wife. She was apparently a complete stranger to the

Dees, although soon to become part of their household. What were Jane’s feelings

at the thought of this invasion of her domestic peace we can only guess from an

entry in Dee’s diary made two days after one of these first sittings. Dee does not

write much about his wife in his diary, save only entries relating to her health, and

this one he has carefully erased, as if he thought some disloyalty to her was

involved in it. It is, however, possible to make it out almost entirely. “1582, 6 May.

Jane in a merveylous rage at 8 of the cloke at night, and all that night, and next

morning till 8 of the cloke, melancholike and ch[?ided me] terribly for....”

Something illegible follows, and then this: “that come to me only honest and

lerned men.” Finally, “by Mr. Clerkson his help was [?pacified].” What canthis

mean save that she had takena violent dislike to, and disapproval of, Kelley; that

she mistrusted his honesty and wished they might have no more to do with him;

that it was only by his friend Clerkson’s help that she was at last quieted? Her

woman’s intuition was scarcely at fault; however kindly she came to treat her

husband’s medium afterwards, however charitable she showed herself, she was

right in suspecting no good to come to Dee through association with Kelley.

The accounts of the actions with the spirits which took place under Kelley’s

control were minutely written down by Dee, as we have seen, mostly during the

timeof the sittings. The papers had a romantic history. The last thirteen books,

which were in Sir Thomas Cotton’s library, were printed by Dr. Meric Casaubon

about fifty years after Dee’s death, under the title of A True and Faithful Relation of

what passed for many Yeers between Dr. John Dee, a Mathematician of Great Fame

in Q. Elizabeth and K. James their Reigns, and some Spirits: Tending (had it

succeeded) To a General Alteration of most States and Kingdomes in the

World...With a Preface confirming the reality (as to the Point of Spirits) of this

Relation; and shewing the several good Uses that a sober Christian may make of all”

(folio 1659). Casaubon in his learned preface maintains stoutly that the visions were

no distempered fancy, that Dee acted throughout with all sincerity, but that he was

deluded. His book sold with great rapidity; it excited so much controversy, and

incurred such disapproval from Owen, Pye, and the other Puritan divines, that it

came near being suppressed; only the excellent demand for it prevented its

confiscation, for not a copy could be found. The True Relation contains the record

of all actions after the beginning of June, 1583. The earlier conversations, from the

first with Barnabas, and Talbot’s appearance on the scene, are still to be found in

manuscript, they having in some way parted company from those of which Cotton

had possession.

These earlier papers were acquired by the antiquary, Elias Ashmole, in a

rather romantic way. Ashmole had been visiting William Lilly, the astrologer, at

Horsham, in August, 1672, when on his return his servant brought him a large

bundle of Dee’s autograph MSS. which a few days before he had received from one

of the warders of the Tower. The warder called on Ashmole at the Excise Office, and

offered to give them in exchange for one of Ashmole’s own printed works. The

Windsor Herald cheerfully agreed, and sent him a volume “fairly bound and gilt on

the back,” of which of his works we know not.

Now for the history of the papers. Mrs. Wale, the warder’s wife, had brought

them with her dower from her lamented first husband, Mr. Jones, confectioner, of

the Plow, Lombard Street. While courting, these young people had picked up

among the “joyners in Adle STreet” a large chest whose “very good lock and hinges

of extraordinary neat work” took their fancy. It had belonged, said the shopman, to

Mr. John Woodall, surgeon, father of Thomas Woodall, surgeon to King Charles II.

and Ashmole’s friend. He had bought it probably at the sale of Dee’s effects in 1609,

after his death. The Joneses owned the chest for twenty years without a suspicion of

its contents. Then, on moving it one day, they heard a rattle inside. Jones prized

open the space below the till, and discovered a large secret drawer stuffed full of

papers, and a rosary of olive-wood beads with a cross, which had caused the rattle.

The papers proved to be the conferences with angels from December 22, 1581, down

to the time of the printed volume; the original manuscripts of the (unprinted)

books entitled, “48 Claves Angelicae,” “De Heptarchia Mystica,” and “Liber Scientiae

Auxiliis et Victoriae Terrestris.” We may imagine Ashmole’s excitement when he

found he had in his hand the earlier chapters of the very remarkable book that was

stil in every one’s mouth, published only thirteen years before.

We may now briefly examine this remarkable and voluminous Book of

Mysteries. In view of the fact that it is perhaps the earliest record of mediumistic

transactions, the first attempt to relate consecutive psychic transmissions, in fact a

sort of sixteenth century Proceedings of a Society for Psychical Research, it seems to

warrant investigation at some length.

The first book (still in manuscript) opens with a Latin invocation to the

Almighty, and an attribution of all wisdom and philosophy to their divine original

source. It ends “O beata et super benedicta omnipotens Trinitas, concedas mihi

(Joanni Dee) petitionem hane modo tali, qui tibi maxime placebit, Amen.” Then

comes a table of the four angels — Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, their

particular attributes, and their descent from Annael. A long prayer in English

follows, which gives a remarkable insight into Dee’s attitude of mind. Unfeigned

humility towards God, a certain unconsciousness of self and of his own particular

acquirements, are mingled with a calm assumption of authority and power to enter

into the heart of knowledge. This was perhaps the chief characterisitic of the exalted

mysticism so prevalent at the time in a small section of alchemists, especially on the

Continent. Dee was its representative in England, having, of course, imbibed much

of it during his residence abroad. Paracelsus had been dead but forty years. His

disciples everywhere were seeking three secrets which were to fulfil his teaching —

the secret of transmutation, the elixir of life, and the philosophic stone, key to all

wisdom. Bruno was still alive, developing hs theories of God as the great unity

behind the world and humanity. Copernicus was not long dead, and his new

theories of the solar system were gradually becoming accepted. Galileo was still a

student at Pisa, his inventions as yet slumbering in his brain. Montaigne was

writing his getle satires on humanity. Everywhere and in every sphere new

thought was beginning to stir.

Dee did not scruple to claim in his prayer gifts like those bestowed upon the

prophets. He deprecates any kind of traffic with unauthorised or unreliable spirits,

and acknowledges again the only Source of wisdom. But since he has so long and

faithfully followed learning, he does think it of importanc ethat he should know

more. The blessed angels, for instance, could impart to him things of at least as

much consequence as when the prophet told Saul, the son of Kish, where to find a

lost ass or two! A spirit afterwards told him that ignorance was the nakedness

wherewith he was first tormented, and “the first plague that fell unto man was the

want of science.”

He had reached that state of mind when he seemed unable to discern any

boundary line between finite and infinite. His hope and his confidence were alike

fixed on nothing less than wresting all the secrets of the universe from the abyss of

knowledge, or, at any rate, as many of them as God willed. he explains how from his

youth up he has prayed for pure and sound wisdom and understanding,

“such as might be brought, under the talent of my capacitie, to God’s honour and

glory and the benefit of his servaents, my brethren and sisters. And forasmuch as

for many yeres, in many places, far and nere, in many bokes and sundry languages, I

have wrought and studyed, and with sundry men conferred, and with my owne

reasonable discourse Laboured, whereby to fynde or get some yinkling, glimpse, or

beame, of such the aforesaid radicall truthes:...And seeing I have read in they bokes

and records how Enoch enjoyed thy favor and conversation, with Moses thou wast

familiar, And also that to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Josua, Gedeon, Esdras, Daniel,

Tobias, and sundry other, the good angels were sent, by they disposition, to instruct

them, informe them, help them, yea in worldly and domesticall affairs; yea and

sometimes to satisfy theyr desyres, doubts and questions of thy secrets; and

furdermore, considering the Shewstone which the high priests did use by thy owne

orderinge, wherein they had lighte and judgments in their great doutes, and

considering allso that thou (O God) didst not refuse to instruct the prophets (then

called seers), to give answers to common people of things oeconomicall, as Samuel

for Saul, seeking for his father’s asses, being gon astray: and as other things, vulgar

true predictions, whereby to wyn credit unto ther waightier affayres. And thinking

within myself the lack of thy wisdom to me to be of more importance than the

value of an Asse or two could be to Cis (Saul his father): And remembering what

good counsayle they apostle James giveth, saying Si quies autem vestrumetc. And?

that Solomon the wise, did so, even immediately by thyselfe, atteyne to his

wonderfull sidome: Therefore, Seeing I was sufficiently taught and confirmed that

this wisdome could not be come by at mans hand, or by human powre, but onely

from thee (O God) mediately or immediately. And having allwayes a great regarde

and care to beware of the filthy abuse of such as willingly and wittingly did invocate

and consult (in divers sorte) Spirituall Creatures of the damned sort: Angels of

darknes, forgers and patrons of lies and untruths; I did fly unto thee by harty prayer,

full oft, and in sundry manners: sometymes cryinge unto thee Mittas Lucem tuam

et veritatem, tuam quoe me ducant, etc.”

Then he goes on to say that his slight experience with two different persons

has convinced him of God’s wish to enlighten him through His angels. He has

heard of a man accounted a good seer and skryer, a master of arts and preachger of

the Word, and through his means he has seen spiritual apparitions “either in the

christalline receptab\cle, or in open ayre.” He hopes to have help from this person

until “some after man or meanes are sent him from on high.” But Saul — for it is

Saul he means — is not devout, sincere and honest. Evil spirits have come to him,

much to Dee’s terror “but that thou didst pitch thy holy tent to my defence and

comfort.” He has quoted to Saul Roger Bacon’s warning to wicked devil-callers; but

the man cannot brook rebuke, and is angry at being further debarred from the

mysteries “which were the only things I desired, through thy grace.” He begs, most

humbly and deprecatingly for leave to note down the actions, and asks that Annael

may come to his help.

Barnabas having proved so unreliable, he rejoiced at having found another

skryer. The one accessory wanting, when all the table and seals were comlete, was a

“shewstone.” Dee seems already to have owned several. He had used a crystal

before this time, but a new one was desirable. One evening, towards sunset, a little

child angel appears standing in the sunbeams from the western window of the

study, holding in its hand a thing “most bright, most clere and clorius, of the bigness

of an egg.” Michael with his fiery sword appeared and bade Dee “Go forward, take it

up, and let no mortall hand touch it but thine own.”

Michael tells them, too, that he and Kelley are to be joined in the holy work,

united as if one man. But one is to be master, the other minister; one the hand, the

other the finger. They are to be contented with their calling, for vessels are not all of

one bigness, yet all can be full. Dee is reminded that all his knowledge is “more

wonderful than profitable, unless thou art led to a true use of the same.”

Another spirit, Medicus Dei, or Medicina, says, “Great are the purposes of

him whose medecine I carry,” and on one of the early march days utters some

remarkable words on the precious doctrine of the universality of the Light: —

“Your voices are but shadows of the voices that understand all things. The

things you look on because you see them not indeed, you also do name amiss...

“We are fully understanding. We open the eyes from the sun in the morning

to the sun at night. Distance is nothing withus, unless it be the distance which

separateth the wicked from His mercy. Secrets there arenone, but that are buried in

the shaddow of man’s sould....Iniquitie shall not range where the fire of his piercing

judgment and election doth light.”?Calvin had been dead but twenty years,

but with his scheme of election and

eternal reprobation Dee had no affinity. His mind was far more in harmony with

the ancient hermetic teaching that medicine, healing, was the true road to all


-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“To follow knowledge like a sinking star

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”

— Tennyson, Ulysses

It is a curious picture to call up, that of the strangely assorted pair seated in the

inner room at Mortlake, acting out this spiritual drama. Dee had asked for

instructions about the room for the sittings: “May my little fartherest chamber

serve, if the bed be taken down?” The table, covered with its cloth stood in the

centre upon the seals. Kelley, perhaps with the black cap he is credited with having

always worn, pulled close over his cropped ears, was seated at it. Dee at his desk sat

writing in the great folio book. He was now fifty-six years old; his beard was long,

but perhaps not yet “as white as milk,” as Aubrey describes it. He did not apparently

ever see the visions himself. Once he reproachfully said, “You know I cannot see or

skry.” He conversed with the spirits and sometimes heard what they said; but to the

eye and ear of his body they were invisible; hence his dependence upon a skryer.

The sole object of his ambition was the attainment of legitimate wisdom.

When conversing with the angels, how near within his grasp it seemed! Michael’s

exposition seemed almost to promise it to him: —

“`Wilt thou have witt and wisdom? Here it is.’

“Michael points each time to a figure of seven squares shown within a circle

of light.

“`The exaltation and government of princes is in my hand.

“`In counsayle and Nobilitie, I prevayle.

“`The Gayne and Trade of Merchandise is in my hand. Lo! here it is.

“The Qualitie of the Earth and Waters is my knowledge, and I know them.

And here it is.

“`The motion of the Ayre and those that move in it, are all known to me. Lo!

here they are.

“`I signifie wisdom. In fire is my government. I was in the beginning and

shall be to the end.

“`Mark these mysteries. For this knowne, the state of the whole earth is

knowne, and all that is thereon. Mighty is God, yea, mighty is he who hath

composed for ever. Give diligent eye. Be wise, merry and pleasant in the Lord.’“

Quite early in the actions, it was told them that a third person was necessary

to the complete work. Adrian Gilbert was the first selected, and permission was

given for him to be made “privie of the mysteries, but not to be a practiser.”

Gilbert was making ready for a voyage to the North-West. Dee and the spirits

seem to think it may be a kind of missionary enterprise, and Dee asks for (but does

?not actually obtain) a geographical description of the country he is going to. The

answer is that Dee knows about it, as indeed he did, sufficiently well, as we have

seen, to draw very good charts of North America and the Frozen Seas. An angel

named Me tells him he must counsel A.G. and be his father. “Who made the sun of

nothing? Who set Nature to thrust up her shoulder amongst trees and herbs like a

gentle fire? How great is his power in those in whom he kindleth a soul of


In Dee’s absence in London, at the Muscovy House, on Maundy Thursday

(March 28), Kelley tried to summon Medicina again, but was only visited by an

“illuder.” Next day Dee asks for “the veritie of his doings,” and is told that darkness

has presumed to put itself in place of light. Kelley will not be overthrown, but he is

to brag not. “When I yoked your feathers together, I joined them not for a while.”

The illuder is made to confess deception and is consumed by fire, and Dee turns to

his skryer with “Master Kelley, is your doubt of the spirit taken away?”

Dee had been requested to prepare a calculation for the reformation of the

Calendar, or at any rate to give his opinion on the scheme propounded by Pope

Gregory. His calculations were approved by all the English mathematicians of the

time, but the Queen, advised by the bishops, did not see her way to adopt them in

effect. Dee tells his angel friends how “grieved” he is that “Her Majestie will not

reform the Kalendar in the best terms of veritie.” He desires counsel what to do.

Easter Day passed, and the crystal gazing still went on. The sittings were often

long. On April 3, Dee ventured to tell his visitor that “it will be dark soon, and our

company will expect our coming down to supper. If without offence we might now

leave off, it might seem good to do so.” Three days after, he again offered a slight

remonstrance, asking why they had not been warned of Mistress Frances Howard’s

coming, a gentlewoman of Her Majestie’s Privy Chamber. She had caused

interruption of their exercise for a full hour, or two. Was this to be forgiven her

because of her great charity, and goodness in procuring the Queen’s alms for many

needy people?

The Queen was then at Richmond, and Dee was several times at Court. He

seems to have been there to bid her adieu when she left for Greenwich on the 18th:

— ”At her going on horseback, being new up, she called for me, by Mr. Rawly his

putting her in mynde, and she sayd, `quod defertur non aufertur,’ and gave me her

right hande to kisse.”

Dee was now puzzling over some mysterious papers brought him by Kelley,

whether those he is reported to have found in Wales of Glastonbury we can scarcely

decide, but they seem to concern ten places in England where treasure was supposed

to be hid. There is a curious drawing of them in the MS. diary: “After coming from

the Court, I thought I would try to discover the cipher of the paper E.K. brought me

as willed to do, found at Huets Cross, with a book of magic and alchemy, to which a

spiritual creature led them.” Dee was by no means the easy dupe of Kelley that he

has been called. Two or three months after he first knoew him he writes in his

diary of his “abominable lyes”; and he here makes a very telling remark, an aside, so

to speak: “Of this K., I doubt yet.”

Kelley’s hot, uncontrollable nature and his overbearing ways had already

begun to appear. There was an outbreak at supper one night because Charles Sled

had “done him an injurie in speeche at my table.” Probably some story of his early

career had been raked up. A voice next morning says to him appropriately: “Serve

God and take hold of nettles.”

The manuscript in crabbed signs puzzled the astrologer desperately, and he

was unhappy at the delay. An angel tells him they are to be “rocks in faith.” “While

sorrow be meansured thou shalt bind up thy fardell.” He is not to seek to know the

mysteries till the very hour he is called. “Can you bow to Nature and not honour

the workman?”

A new spirit visits them, Il, “a merie creature, apparelled like a Vyce in a

[morality] play. He skipped here and there.” Dee asks where is his Arabic book of

tables that he has lent and lost. Il says it is in Scotland and is nothing worth. Then

Dee asks about the Lord Treasurer’s books, for he had not seen Burleigh’s library,

and had all the rival collector’s jealousy over his own treasures. He was never quite

sure that Burleigh was his friend; there semed always a suspicion in his mind where

the Lord Treasurer was concerned. The feeling was reflected in a curious dream that

he had soon after the beginning of his partner ship with Kelley: “I dreamed on

Saturday night that I was deade, and afterwards my bowels wer taken out. I walked

and talked with divers, and among other with the Lord Thresorer, who was cum to

my howse to burn my bookes when I was dead. I thought he looked sourely on

me.” Now, Il tells him that Burleigh has no books “belonging to Soyga,” and

explains that name as in “the language of Paradise, before Babel’s aery tower.” Dee

takes up a lexicon to look for the word, but Il points to another book on “the

mysteries of Greek, Latin and Hebrew.” Then Il becomes very practical, and says:

“Your chimney will speak against you anon,” and Dee remembers that he had

hidden there “in a cap-case” the records of his doings with Saul and the others. Il

advises Kelley to communicate to his employer the book and the powder, and all

the rest of the roll. “True friends arenot to hide anything each from the other.”

This was perhaps the cause of the “great and eager pangs” that now took place

between Dee and Kelley. The medium pretends to fear they are dealing with evil

spirits. He bursts into a passion, declares he is a cumber to the house, and dwells

there as in a prison. He had better be far away in the open country, where he can

walk abroad, and not be troubled with slanderous tongues. He is wasting his time

there, and must follow some study whereby he may live. As for these spirit

mysteries, Adam and Enoch knew them before the Flood. Dee responds gfravely to

this tirade: He will wait God’s time, and he will not believe a stone will be given

them and no bread. As to Kelley’s necessities, are not his own far greater? At the

present moment, he owes 300 pounds, and does not know how to pay it. He has

spent forty years, and travelled thousands of miles, in incredible forcing of his wit in

study, to learn, or bowel out, some good thing, yet he would willingly go up and

down England in a blanket, begging his bread, for a year or more, if at the end he

might be sure of attaining to godly wisdom, whereby to do God service for His glory.

He was resolved either willingly to leave this worlk, to enjoy the fountain of all

wisdom, or to pass his days on earth in the enjoyment of its blessings and mysteries.

Another violent scene occurred before long; this time the mistress of the

house was the one offended. Dee says: “By A[drian] G[ilbert] and Providence, E.K.’s

vehement passions were pacified. He came back again to my house, and my wife

was willing and quiet in mind and friendly to E.K. in word and countenance. A

new pacification in all parts confirmed and all upon the confidence of God his

service faithfully performed.” Kelley’s wife had not yet joined him at Mortlake, but

he had occasional letters from her. One found him in a tender religious mood,

about to “pray in his bedchamber, on a little prayer book which Mr. Adrian Gilbert

had left here, ad it lay on the table during the action.” It was Seven Sobbes of a

Sorrowful Soul for Sinne, in English metre, “made by Mr. William Harris.” When

he opened it, he found some automatic script in the end, or, as he calls it, a

counterfeit ofhis own hand. He took it to Dee, who saw in it the work of a wicked

spirit trying to shake their confidence. The next evening, both prayed against their

enemy, Kelley on his knees before the green chair standing at the chimney. Uriel

appeared and said temptation was requisite. “If it were not, how should men know

God to be merciful?” He speaks to Kelley: — ”Thou, O yongling, but old sinner, why

dost thou suffer thy blindness to increase? Why not yield thy Limbs to the service

and fulfilling of an eternal veritie? Pluck up thy heart, and follow the way that

leadeth to the knowledge of the end.” He explains how the trouble is caused by

Belmagel, “the firebrand who hath followed thy soul from the beginning.”

The whole of this spring, the pair of partners had been busily engaged in

preparing the various things — the table, the wax seals, the ring and lamin —

required for use. Most complicated diagrams of letters and figures had also been

dictated to them, and Kelley, whose mathematical training had been slight, was

sometimes very exhausted. Once fire shoots out of the crystal into his eyes, and

when it is taken back, he can read no more. As Dee remarks one day to a spirit,

apologising for his many questions: “For my parte I could finde it in my heart to

contynue whole days and nights in this manner of doing, even tyll my body should

be ready to synk down for weariness before I could give over, but I feare I have

caused weariness to my friends here.” A journey is foretold, but first of all Kelley is

to go to the places of hidden treasure, and bring earth, that it may be tested. He may

be away ten days. He bought a “pretty dun mare” for the journey, of “good man

“Penticost,” for which he paid three pounds ready money in angels. A day or two

after, he took boat to London to buy a saddle, bridle, and “boote-hose.”

At supper the night before he started, in a clairvoyant state, he had an

extraordinary prophetic sight of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, a beautiful

woman having her head cut off by a tall black man. He also speaks of seeing the sea,

covered with many ships. Uriel warns them that foreign Powers are providing

ships “against the welfare of England, which shall shortly be put in practice.” It is

hardly necessary to remind the reader that the Queen of Scots’ execution and the

defeat of the Spanish Armada took place in two following years, 1587, 1588, four

years after this vision.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Therefore for spirits I am so far from denying their existence that I could

easily believe that not only whole countries but particular persons have their

tutelary and guardian angels. It is not a new opinion, but an old one of Pythagoras

and Plato. There is no heresy in it, and if not manifestly defined in Scripture, yet it

is an opinion of good and wholesome use in the cours and actions of a man’s life,

and would serve as an hypothesis to solve many doubts whereof common

philosophy affordeth no solution.”?— Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici.

Dee’s costly apparatus and experiments, his large establishment and generous

treatment of his servants and assistants, his entertainment of great folk, were all

heavy drains upon his resources. He spent lavish amounts upon books and

manuscripts for his library; he contributed as able to some of the Adventurers’

funds. He borrowed freely, and he had sometimes to run long bills. Beside the rent

of the two livings (about eighty pounds a year) he had no fixed income. The Queen

was ever promising him benefices which either never fell vacant, or when they did,

had to be bestowed elsewhere. At the time he first fell in with Kelley, he knew not

where to turn for money. Almost at this very moment, however, a rich patron

appeared unexpectedly on the horizon and changed Dee’s outlook for several


On March 18, 1583, Mr. North came to Mortlake bringing a “salutation” from

Albert or Adelbert Laski, Count Palatine of Siradia, a Polish Prince then about to

arrive on a visit to the Queen. He wished to make Dee’s acquaintance, to see his

library, and discuss magic, of which he had made a study. Laski was one of the most

powerful of the Polish nobles reconverted to Catholicism. He had taken a very

prominent part in the patriotic movement of a few years before in Poland, when

almost every European sovereign had made a bid for the Polish crown. Elizabeth’s

old suitor, the Duc d’Alencon, had actually worn it a month or two before escaping

in the night to his brother of France. Laski was a dashing adventurer of heroic

courage, quite unscrupulous as to cost; and although he had favoured the claims of

the Emperor of Austria, he had, openly at least, agreed in the people’s victorious

choice of Stephan Bathory. When that Transylvanian Prince had been elected King

in 1576, Laski had taken a prominent part in affairs. He was popular and ambitious,

not without aspiration towards the Polish crown himself. Burleigh, in writing of

him to Hatton, called him “a personage of great estimation, few in the Empire of the

greatest exceed him in sovereignty and power.” He is described by contemporary

writers as a most learned man, handsome in stature and lineaments, richly clothed,

“of very comely and decent apparel,” and of graceful behaviour. He wore his beard

very long, not clipped close like the English courtiers. He arrived in London by

Harwich on May Day, and proceeded to Winchester House, Southwark, where he

made his headquarters during his stay. There seemed some doubt about how he

was to be received, whether he was actually in favour or in disgrace with King

Stephan. Burleigh desired Hatton to get some Essex nobleman — Lord Rich or Lord

Darcy — to meet him at Harwich with proper state, “if he is the very Count Palatine

of the House of Laski.” Hatton replied that he must wait to hear more from

Leicester, for in his letter to the Queen the visitor has called her “the refuge of the

disconsolate and afflicted,” so perhaps he is out of favour after all.

Dee first saw Laski on May 13, at half-past seven in the evening, in the Earl of

Leicester’s apartments at the Court at Greenwich, when he was introduced by

Leicester himself.

Five days after the first meeting, Laski “came to me at Mortlake withonly two

men. He cam at afternone and tarryed supper, and [till] after sone set.” Near a

month elapsed before his next visit, when he made a sort of royal progress down the

Thames from Oxford to Mortlake.?“June 15 about 5 of the clok, cam the Polonian Prince,

Lord Albert Lasky,down from Bissham, where he had lodged the night before, being returned

formOxford, whither he had gon of purpose to see the universitye, wher he was very

honorably used and enterteyned. He had in his company Lord Russell, Sir Philip

Sydney and other gentlemen: he was rowed by the Queene’s men, he had the barge

covered with the Queene’s cloth, the Queene’s trumpeters, etc. He cam of purpose

to do me honor, for which God be praysed!”

The visit was repeated on the 19th, when the distinguished foreigner was

hospitably entertained for the night. The Queen was then at Greenwich, but on July

30 she and her court proceeded in great splendour up the river to Sion House. She

passed by Dee’s door, and probably paused as usual for a greeting. Next morning

Leicester rode over to Mortlake, and put the household in commotion by

announcing that Laski and others would come to dine at Mortlake on the next day

but one. These festivities were a great tax on the astrologer’s means, and he

confessed sincerely that he was “not able to prepare them a convenient dinner,

unless I should sell some of my plate or some of my pewter for it. Whereupon her

Majestie sent unto me very royally, within one hour after, forty angells of gold [20

pounds] from Sion, whither her Majestie was now come from Greenwich.”

Leicester’s secretary, Mr. Lloyd, was despatched post-haste with the gift, prompted, as

Dee adds, “through the Erle his speech to the Queene.” One imagine Leicester’s

somewhat peremptory suggestion and the Queen’s impulsive acquiescence. In

minor matters she was woman enough to relish being sometimes dictated to. The

secretary also brought what was hardly less acceptable to Dee, viz., “Mr. Rawligh his

letter unto me of her Majestie’s good disposition unto me.” Raleigh was then in

great favour with the Queen.

In the intervals between these visits of the Prince, the spirits had been

consulted about Laski’s prospects. They had at once interested themselves in him,

and Madimi, one of the most fascinating of these psychical projections, had

vouchsafed some kind of genealogical information, connecting him with the Lacys

and Richard, Duke of York. She was the first of the female angels who appeared to

Dee, as it seemed in answer to his arguments reproving Trithemius, who had

asserted that no good spirits ever took the shape of women. Madimi, who suddenly

appeared on May 28, was “like a pretty girle of 7 or 9 years, attired ina gown of Sey,

changeable green and red, with a train”; her hair was “rowled up before and hanging

down very long behind.” She came into the study and played by herself; “she

seemed to go in and out behind my books;...the books semed to give place

sufficiently, one heap with the other, while she passed between them.” She

announced that her elder sister would come presently, and corrected Dee’s

pronunciation fo her name. “My sister is not so short as you make her: Esemeli not

Esemeli.” Madimi was a very clever and accomplished little fairy. She learned

Greek, Arabic, and Syrian on purpose to be useful to Dee. On June 14 Dee asked the

spirit Galvah, or Finis, what she had to say about the “Polandish Lord Albertus

Laski.” The reply came, “Ask me these things to-morrow.” But when the next day

came, Kelley, the seer, “spent all that afternoon (almost) in angling, when I was very

desirous to have had his company and helping hand in this action.” So at the next

sitting Galvah administers to Kelley a sharply pointed reproof: “You, sir, were best

to hunt and fish after Verity.” Dee adds that “she spake so to E.K. because he spent

too much time in Fishing and Angling.” Then he asked if Laski should return to

Poland in August, if his relation with the Prince should bring him credit, and how

should he “use himself therin to God’s liking, his country’s honour, and his own

credit.” Galvah replied oracularly: “He shall want no direction in anything he

desireth.” “Whom God hath armed, no man can prevaile against.” Again, on June

19, Dee asked if it would be best for the Prince to take the first opportunity of going


“It shall be answered soon,” replied Galvah.

“May he be present at the action?”

“Those that are of this house are not to be denied the Banquets therein.”

“May I request you to cause some sensible apparition to appear to him, to

comfort him and establish his minde more abundantly in the godly intent of God

his service?”

“If he follow us, let him be governed by us. But whatsoever is of flesh is not

of us.”

“You perceive how he understandeth of the Lord Treasurer his grudge

against him. And perhaps some others also are of like malicious nature. What

danger may follow hereof, or encombrance?”

“The sum of his life is already appointed; one jot cannot be

diminished. But he that is Almighty can augment at his pleasure.

Let him rejoice in poverty, be sorry for his enemies, and do the

works of justice.”

Then the “cloud of invisibility” — a drop scene between the acts — came over

Galvah, and she disappeared.

Next day Laski was present at the action. An angel named Jubanladec

appeared, and said he was appointed the Prince’s “good governour or Angel,” “the

keeper and defender of this man present.” He bade him “look to the steps of his

youth, measure the length of his body, live better and see himself inwardly.”

Excellent advice, which might have been continued had not a man named Tanfield,

attached to the Prince, arrived suddenly at Mortlake, with a message from the Court,

and, contrary to all good manners, burst into the study. Laski had gone out another

way through the oratory to meet him. The angel was annoyed, and prophesied

rather unkindly that in five months the rash interrupter should be devoured by

fishes of the sea. Was he drowned then or ever? Then the thread was resumed.

“What do ye seek after? Do ye hunt after the swiftness of the winds? Or are

you imagining a form unto the coulds? Or go ye forth to hear the braying of an

Asse, which passeth away with the swiftness of the air? Seek for true wisdom, for it

beholdeth the highest and appeareth unto the lowest.”

Then Laski’s guardian angel becomes extremely practical and interesting:

“Cecil hateth him [Laski] to the heart, and desireth he were gone hence. Many

others do privily sting at him.”

Dee endeavours to keep him to the point.?“For his return, what is your advice

Perhaps he wanteth necessary

provision, and money.”

“He shall be helpen, perhaps miraculously. Let him go so soon as he can


“I say again, perhaps he wanteth money; but the Treasures of the Lord are not

sent to them whom he favoureth.”

“His help shall be strange. The Queen loveth him faithfully and hath fallen

out with Cecil about him. Leicester flattereth him. His doings are looked into

narrowly. But I alwayes inwardly direct him. I will minister such comfort to him as

shall be necessary in the midst of all his doings.”

Mingled with these sayings were some prophetical utterances about Laski

overcoming the Saracens and Paynims with a bloody cross shown in his hand, and

about Dee’s passing to his country and aiding him to establish his kingdom. Then

the familiar spirit sank through the table like a spark of fire, “seeming to make haste

to his charge, I mean the Lord Laski.”

On Wednesday, the 26th, Laski again being present, the good angel Il appeared

with a besom in his hand. The Prince’s pedigree was then barely begun, but on June

29 the clever little Madimi promised to finish the book exactly as Dee would have

written it. It was no matter where the book was left, she told him, locked up or lying

about. “Your locks are no hindrance to us.”

“You have eased my heart of a thousand pound weight,” ejaculated Dee,

fervently. “Now I shall have leisure to follow my sute, and to do all Mr. Gilbert’s


Madimi was much too learned a scholar for Kelley, who on this same day

grew very angry with her for speaking to him in Greek, of which he knew nothing,

not even the alphabet. As an alternative she gave him Arabic. “Unless you speak

some language which I understand, I will expresse no more of this Gibberish,” he

said, rudely.

Poor Dee! His skryer was a constant anxiety to him. Like every medium

since known, he would sometimes apply himself and sometimes not, was often

honest and yet frequently a cheat.

Dee writes: —

“My heart did throb oftentimes this day, and I thought E.K. did intend to

absent himself from me, and now upon this warning, I was confirmed, and more

assured that it was so. Whereupon seeing him make such haste to ride to Islington,

I asked him why he so hasted to ride thither. And I said if it were to ride to Mr.

harry Lee, I would go thither also, to be acquainted with him; seeing now I had so

good leisure, being eased of the book writing [through Madimi’s good offices]. Then

he said that one told him the other day that the Duke did but flatter him, and told

him other things, both against the Duke and me. I answered for the Duke and

myself, and also said that if the forty pound annuity which Mr. Lee did offer him

was the chief cause of his mind feeling that way (contrary to some of his former

promises to me), that then I would assure him of fifty pounds yearly, and would do

my best by following of my sute [with the Queen] to bring it to passe as soon as

possibly I could, and thereupon did make him promise upon the Bible. Then E.K.

again, upon the same Bible, did swear unto me constant friendship and never to

forsake me: And moreover said that unless this had so faln out, he would have

gone beyond the Seas, taking ship at Newcastle, within eight days next. And so we

did plight our faith to one another, taking each other by the hands upon these

points of brotherly and friendly fidelity during life, which Covenant I beseech God

to turn to his honour, glorie and service, and the comfort of our brethren (his

children) here on earth.”

This reconciliation was not for long, in spite of the promised salary, and soon

another scene occurred. On June 5 Dee write that from nine in the morning Kelley

was “in a marvellous great disquietness of mind, fury and rage,” because his brother

Thomas Kelley brought him word, first, that a commission was out to attach and

apprehend him as a felon for coining money; second, that his wife, whom he had

left at Mistress Freeman’s house at Blockley, having heard from Mr. Hussey that he

was a cosener, had gone home to her mother, Mrs. Cooper, at Chipping Norton.

Dee is “touched with a great pang of compassion,” grieved that any Christian should

use such speeches and be of so revenging a mind, even more than he is distressed

that his own credit shall be endangered for embracing the company of such a

disorderly person, especially if he be arreseted at Mortlake, “which will be no small

grief and disgrace.” But he so generously resolves to stand by his friend. Kelley, it

seems, had been met coming from Islington with his scroll, book and powder, and

had been threatened to “be pulled in pieces” if he brought them to Dee. A drawing

in the margin of the MS. shows the book to have had a cross on the cover, one clasp,

and deep metal bands across its two sides. Presumably these were some of the

treasures reported to have been found at Glastonbury.

A day or two after, June 18, Kelley again simulated great fear and distress at

seeing evil spirits. He protested he would skry no more, and was so excited that he

brought on himself the wise rebuke from Galvah: “He that is angry cannot see

well.” He seems to have wished to show Laski some reprobate spirits in Dee’s study,

but the older man wisely kept the crystal and teh “table of communion” under his

own control. It was, perhaps, partly cunning that made Kelley, although he really

possessed extraordinary mediumistic powers, so sceptical. “I am Thomas Didymus,”

he says to the spirits. “How can ye persuade me ye are no deluders?”

Three days after this, Dee was writing letters to Adrian Gilbert, in Devonshire,

when Madimi suddenly appeared to Kelley, who was seated in the green chair.

Dee said, “How is the mind of Mr. Secretary toward me? Methinketh it is

alienated marvellously.”

Dee had long been on neighbourly terms with Sir Francis and Lady

Walsingham. If any cause existed for supposing both Burleigh’s and Walsingham’s

attitude toward him was changed, it may have been that the Lord Treasurer, the

great finanacier of the time, resented his constant applications for a salary from the

exchequer, while Walsingham, with his intimate knowledge of foreign affairs,

perhaps misdoubted this intimacy between Dee and the scheming Polish Prince.

Curiously enough, it was through this very intimacy with Laski that both Burleigh

and Walsingham came later to regard the alchemists in the light of a valuable

national asset.

Madimi replied —?“The Lord Treasurer and he are joyned together, and they hate thee. I heard

them when they both said, thou wouldst go mad shortly. Whatever they can do

against thee, assure thyself of. They will shortly lay a bait for thee, but eschew


D. — ”Lord have mercy upon me, what bait, I beseech you, and by whom?”

M. — ”They have determined to search thy house, but they stay untill the

Duke be gone.”

D. — ”What would they search it for?”

M. — ”They hate the Duke, both, unto death.”

Then with a sharp caution to Kelley to deal uprightly with Dee, and a

protestation from him of his “faithful mind” to his master, she goes on to reveal the

suspicions attached to Laski: —

M. — ”Look unto the kind of people about the Duke in the manner of their


D. — ”What mean you by that? His own people? Or who?”

M. — ”The espies.”

D. — ”Which be those?”

M. — ”All. There is not one true.”

D. — ”You mean the Englishmen.”

M. — ”You are very grosse if you understand not my sayings.”

D. — ”Lord! what is thy counsel to prevent all?”

M. — ”The speech is general. The wicked shall not prevail.”

D. — ”But will they enter to search my house or no?”

M. — ”Immediately after the Duke his going, they will.”

D. — ”To what intent? What do they hope to find?”

M. — ”They suspect the Duke is inwardly a traitor.”

Dee replies with sincerity, “They can by no means charge me, no not so much

as with a traitorous thought.”

M. — ”Though thy thoughts be good, they cannot comprehend the doings of

the wicked. In summe, they hate thee. Trust them not. They shall go about shortly

to offer thee friendship. But be thou a worm in a heap of straw.”

D. — ”I pray you expound that parable.”

M. — ”A heap of straw being never so great, is no weight upon a worm.

Notwithstanding every straw hindereth the worm’s passage. See them and be not

seen of them; dost thou understand it?”

It now seemed certain that Dee and his skryer were to embark their fortunes

with Laski. Dee begs for particular instructions when they had better take ship, what

shall be done with all the furniture prepared and standing in the chamber of

practice? Is it best for the Pole to resort hither oft, or to stay quiet at his house in


Madimi retorts —

“Thou hast no faith. He is your friend greatly and intendeth to do much for

you. He is prepared to do thee good, and thou art prepared to do him service. Those

who are not faithful shall die a most miserable death, and shall drink of sleep


A couple of days after, on July 4, Dee returning from Court, found Kelley

making preparation to go away for five days, having fixed to met some companions

in Mortlake, others in Brentford. Doubtless he found all this mystical and angelic

society somewhat of a bore, and was yearning for an outburst a little more to his

taste. Dee, who had seen Laski in London, knew that he intended to come down to

Mortlake within a day or two, “who also,” he says, “delighted in E.K. his company.”

So he wrote a short note in very polite Latin to the “Nobilissimi Princeps,” bidding

him put off his visit, as “our Edward” was about to take a journey, and would not be

home for five days, or so he says: “Quid sit ipsa veritas.”

He showed Kelley the letter. Kelley took great offence at these words,

suspecting some secret understanding between the two against him. Dee gently

referred to Kelley’s own words that his return might be within, or at the end of, five

days. Kelley, angry and suspicious, seized the letter and tore it up.

Soon after, Kelley beholds “a spiritual creature” by his right shoulder, telling

him to go clean away, for if he stays there he will be hanged. If he goes with the

Prince, he will cut off his head, and (to Dee)

“You mean not to keep promise with me. And therefore if I might have a

thousand pound to tarry, yea, a kingdom, I cannot. Therefore I release you of your

promise of 50 pounds yearly stipend to me, and you need not doubt but God will

defend you and prosper you, and can of the very stones raise up children unto

Abraham. And again, I cannot abide my wife, I love her not, nay, I abhor her, and

here in the house I am misliked because I favour her no better.”

Dee endeavoured to calm this turbulent young man, spoke of his confidence

in him in his dealings with their spiritual friends, but such doings and sayings as

these, he points out, are not meet and fitting.

Kelley flung out of the room in a passion, mounted his mare, and rode off

furiously towards Brentford, clattering out of the house with such commotion that

Jane came running up to her husband’s study to know what was the matter. It was

about seven o’clock in the evening.

“`Jane,’ I said, `this man is marvellously out of quiet against his wife, for her

friends their bitter reports against him behind his back, and her silence thereat, etc.

He is gone,’ said I, `but I beseech the Almighty God to guide him and defend him

from danger and shame. I doubt not but God will be merciful to him, and bring him

at length to such order as he shall be a faithful servant unto God.’“

Then a remarkable thing happened. By ten o’clock that night (the long

midsummer twilight barely over), the prodigal returned, and mounted softly up the

study stairs, “unbooted, for he was come in a boat from Brentford. When I saw him,

I was very glad inwardly. But I remained writing of those records as I had yet to

write, of last Tuesday’s action.

“`I have lent my mare,’ he said, `and so am returned.’

“`It is well done,’ said I.?“Thereupon he sate down in the chair by my table where

he was wont to sit.


He took up in his hand the books which I had brought from London, of the Lord

Laskie, written to him in his commendations.” Evidently books sent to Kelley by

way of compliment.

Almost immediately, Madimi, who seemed to have a special wardship over

books, appeared. She patted the parchment cover of one and would have taken it

out of Kelley’s hand. Dee heard the strokes, he says. He took a paper and, greeting

his visitor, noted the conversation.

D. — ”Mistresse Madimi, you are welcome in God for good, as I hope. What

is the cause of your coming now?”

M. — ”To see how you do.”

D. — I know you see me often, but I see you onely by faith and imagination.”

M. (who is always more personal than the other spirits) —

“That sight is perfecter than his,” pointing to Kelley.

D. (with emotion) — ”O Madimi, shall I have any more of these grievous


M. (oracularly) — ”Curst wives and great Devils are sore companions.”

D. — ”In respect of the Lord Treasurer, Mr. Secretary and Mr. Rawly, I pray

you, what worldly comfort is there to be looked for? Besides that I do principally put

my trust in God.”

M. — ”Madder will staine, wicked men will offend, and are easie to be


D. — ”And being offended, will do wickedly, to the persecution of them that

mean simply.”

M. — ”Or else they were not to be called wicked.”

D. — ”As concerning Alb. Laski, his pedigree, you said your sister would tell


M. — ”I told you more than all your Dog painters and Cat painters can do.”

Kelley interrupts Dee’s questions about Laski’s pedigree and parentage,

impatiently, with

K. — ”Will you, Madimi, lend me a hundred pounds for a fortnight?”

M. — ”I have swept all my money out of doors.”

D. — As for money, we shall have that which is necessary when God seeth


Then Madimi, becoming serious, addresses to Kelley a beautiful exposition of

the unity of all things: “Love is the spirit of God uniting and knitting things

together in a laudable proportion.” She turns sharply to him, with

“What dost thou hunt after? Speak, man, what doest though hunt

after?...Thou lovest not God. Lo, behold, thou breakest his commandments: thy

bragging words are confounded...If thou hast none of these [faith, hope, love] thou

hast hate. Dost thou love Silver and Gold? The one is a Thief; the other is a

Murderer. Wilt thou seek honour? So did Cain. But thou hast a just God that

loveth thee, just and virtuous men that delight in thee. Therefore be thou


Next follows a remarkable scene. Madimi summons Barma and his fourteen

evil companions, who have assumed possession of Kelley, with the words “Venite

Tenebrae fugite spirito meo,” and orders them to return to the Prince of Darkness:

“Depart unto the last cry. Go you thither....The hand of the Lord is like a strong oak.

When it falleth it cutteth in sunder many bushes. The light of His eyes shall expel


Kelley sees the whole crew sink down through the floor of the chamber: “A

thing like a wind came and pluckt them by the feet away.” He professes his

deliverance: “Methinketh I am lighter than I was, and I seem to be empty and to be

returned from a great amazing. For this fortnight, I do not well remember what I

have done or said.”

“Thou art eased of a great burden. Love God. Love thy friends. Love thy


And with this parting injunction, and a psalm of thanksgiving from Dee, the

story of Kelley’s wild attack of temper, or as it was regarded in teh sixteenth century,

his possession, for the present ends. Nor is there any record of further dealings with

spirits for more than two months.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Friends are everywhere to him that behave himself well, and a prophet is

not esteemed in his country.”

— Robert Burton

There is a hiatus in the Liber Mysteriorum after this tempestuous scene with

Kelley. We can, however, slightly fill it up from Dee’s other diary. It seems as if the

skryer went away, leaving behind at Mortlake the poor slighted wife, who must

have joined him there, for Dee notes on July 7 payment of wages to a servant he

dismissed, “in the presens of Goodman Hilton and Mistress Kelley in my study.”

On the 30th, as we have seen, the Queen came in grand procession, heralded

with music and song, down the river to Sion. The next day, Leicester’s secretary

brought letters and gifts. On August I, John Halton, a London minister, called; also a

Worcestershire man, “a wicked spy came to my howse, whom I used as an honest

man, and found nothing wrong, as I thought. He was sent to E.K.”

This entry is characteristic of the philosopher who, in spite of all his learning,

was, as regards men, of so confiding and innocent a nature that he ended by being

infinitely more deceived by another Worcestershire man — Kelley, for whom he

entertained to the last a most faithful friendship.

Then we come on a very entertaining remark in the diary: “Aug. 18. A great

tempest of wynde at midnight. Maxima era E. K. cum uxore ejus.” Kelley had?returned,

and his wife was treated to another of his outbreaks, by comparison with

which the gale outside was slight.

This is the last entry in the diary before Dee’s departure for Poland with Laski.

The Prince proposed to take the whole party from Mortlake back with him to

the Continent. He was reputed to be deeply in debt, and seems to have entertained

wild hopes that they, aided by the spirits, would provide him with gold, and secure

to him the crown of Poland. Kelley foresaw an easy and luxurious life, plenty of

change and variety suited to his restless, impetuous nature. He hadn ot as yet been

out of England. There were very obvious reasons that he should quit the country

now if he would escape a prison. Dee had been a great traveller, as we know, and

these were not the attractions to a man of his years. He went in obedience to a

supposed call, in the hope of furthering his own knowledge and the Prince’s good.

The notion of providing for himself and his family lay doubtless at the back of his

mind also, but he had all a genius’s disregard for thrift and economy, and though

very precise and practical about small details, as his diary proves, his mind refused

to contemplate these larger considerations of ways and means.

He disposed of the house at Mortlake to his brother-in-law, Nicholas

Fromond, but in such a loose and casual way that before his return he found

himself compelled to make a new agreement with him. He took no steps about

appointing a receiver of the rents of his two livings, and when he came back the

whole six years were owing, nor did he ever obtain the money. He says he intended

at the most to be absent one year and eight months. It was more than six years

before he again set foot in England.

So, unprepared, he left Mortlake about three in the afternoon of Saturday,

September 21, 1583. He met the Prince by appointment on the river, and travelled

up after dark to London. A certain secrecy was observed about the journey. laski, as

we have seen, was under some suspicion of Walsingham and Burleigh, whose

business it had become to learn news from every Court in Europe. He was suspected

of plots against the King of Poland.

In the dead of night, Dee and Laski went by wherries to Greenwich, “to my

friend Goodman Fern, the Potter, his house, where we refreshed ourselves.”

Probably a man whom Dee had employed to make retorts and other vessels for his

chemical work. Perhaps they met there the rest of the party, but on the whole it

seems more probable that all started together from Mortlake. The exit of such a

company from the riverside house must have been quite an event. At Gravesend, a

“great Tylte-boat” rowed up to Fern’s house, on the quay, and took them out to the

two vessels arranged to convey them abroad. These ships, which Dee had hired,

were lying seven or eight miles down stream — a Danish double fly-boat, in which

Laski, Dee, Kelley, Mrs. Dee and Mrs. Kelley and the three children, Arthur,

Katherine and Rowland Dee, embarked at sunrise on Sunday morning; and a boyer,

“a pretty ship,” which conveyed the Prince’s men, some servants of Dee, and a

couple of horses. They sailed at once, but the wind coming from N.W., they

anchored on the Spits. The fly-boat dragged her anchor, and the wind suddenly

changing to N.E., they were in danger of grounding. However, next morning they

made Queenborough Haven, and landed in small fishing boats. On the landing, the

boat in which the party were seated was nearly upset. Water came in up to their

knees, an oar was lost, and they were in considerable peril, but Kelley seems to have

risen to the occasion by baling water out of the bottom with a great gauntlet. Dee

thinks he saved their lives. Dee, poor man, was dropped from the captain’s back on

landing into ooze and mud, so that he was “foule arrayed” on reaching

“Queenborough town, up the crooked creek.” “God be praised for ever that all that

danger was ended with so small grief or hurt,” is his cheerful comment.

After three nights ashore, they again embarked, and at daybreak on the 27th

sailed out into the Channel. On the 29th they landed at Brill. Here Laski’s guardian

angel, Jubanladec, seems to have granted them an interview. They only paused for

two or three days, and hurried on, travelling forward each day by the sluggish Dutch

canals, having exchanged their vessel for a hoy of Amsterdam at Rotterdam. They

passed through Tergowd and Haarlem to Amsterdam; here they stayed three days,

and Dee despatched Edmond Hilton with his heavy goods by sea to Dantzic. By

Enkhuisen they sailed up the Zuyder Zee to Harlingen, then took the canals again in

little “scuts,” or small boats, to Leewarden, thence to Dokkum, in West Friesland, in

somestill smaller craft. On the Sunday spent at Dokkum, Gabriel appeared in the

crystal, and delivered to them the most searching and exalted code of ideals for the

conduct of their lives. Everything was laid bare before his relentless and unerring

eyes. They were bidden to live in brotherly charity, the imperfections of each to be

by the other “perfectly shadowed in charity.”

“Bear your own infirmities, and so the infirmities of others, with quiet and

hidden minde...The Cross of Christ is the comparison in mildness over thy

brethren...He that forsaketh the world for the love of God in Christ shall have his

reward, but he that forsaketh himself shall be crowned with a diadem of glory.

Bridle the flesh. Riotousness is the sleep of death and the slumber to destruction.

Feed the soul, but bridle the flesh, for it is insolent. Look to your servants. Make

them clean. Let your friendship be for the service of God. All frienship else is vain

and of no account. Persevere to the end. Many men begin, but few end. He that

leaveth off is a damned soul.”

From Dokkum the travellers put out to sea again, beyond the islands, and

sailed up the Western Ems to Embden. They arrived after dusk, and found the city

gates shut, so they lay all night on shipboard. Next morning, the 18th October, Laski

took up his quarters at “The White Swan,” on the quay, for he was to remain there

to see the Landgrave, and obtain money. The others “lay at `The Three Golden

Keys,’ by the English House,” and left early next morning by a small boat to sail up

the river Ems to Leer, and thence by a little tributary to Stickhuysen and Apen — ”a

very simple village,” and so on to Oldenburg. A night there, and then on by

Delmenhorst to Bremen, where they lodged at “an old widow, her house, at the

signe of the Crown.”

Here Il, the jaunty spirit who was like a Vice in a morality play, again

appeared to them, clad in a white satin jerkin, ragged below the girdle. The curtain

lifted, and his first words were theatrically light.

“Room for a player! Jesus! who would have thought I should have met you


D. (solemnly). — ”By the mercies of God we are here. And by your will and

propriety and the power of God, you are here.”

Il. “Tush, doubt not of me, for I am Il.”?Kelley (with rebuke). — ”My thinketh

that the gravity of this action requiretha more grave gesture, and more grave speeches.”

Il. — ”If I must bear with thee for speaking foolishly, which art but flesh and

speakest of thy own wisdom, how much more oughtest thou to be contented with

my gesture, which is appointed of Him which regardeth not the outward form, but

the fulfilling of His will and the keeping of His commandments, etc., etc.”

Kelley. — ”I do not understand your words. I do only repeat your sayings.”

Il. — ”It is the part of a servant to do his duty, of him that watcheth to look

that he seeth...Do that which is appointed, for he that doeth more is not a true


Il turns from Kelley to Dee. “Sir, here is money, but I have it very hardly.

Bear with me, for I can help thee with no more. Come on, Andras; where are you,

Andras?” he calls.

Andras, in a bare and shabby gown, “like a London ‘prentice,” appears, but


Il. — ”This is one of those that forgetteth his businesse so soon as it is told


Andras. — ”Sir, I went half-way.”

Il. — ”And how then? Speak on. Speak on.”

Andras. — ”Then, being somewhat weary, I stayed, the rather because I met

my friends. The third day, I came thither, but I found them not at home. His family

told me he had gone forth.”

Il. — ”And you returned a coxcomb. Well, thus it is. I placed thee above my

servants, and did what I could to promote thee. But I am rewarded with loytring

and have brought up an idle person. Go thy way, the officer shall deliver thee to

prison, and there thou shalt be rewarded. For such as do that they are commanded

deserve freedom; but unto those that loytre and are idle, vengeance and hunger


Then Dee questions Il about Laski, and whether he is having any success in

his efforts to obtain money, about Laski’s brother-in-law, Vincent Seve, whose

errand in England is not yet completed, and whether they shall all arrive safe at

Cracow, or the place appointed.

Kelley has a sight of Master Vincent in a black satin doublet, “cut with cross

cuts,” a ruff and a long cloak, edged with black or blue. Then Il goes off into a

mystical rhapsody, at the end of which he suddenly falls “all in pieces as small as


Next day, Kelley sees Master Vincent again, walking down by Charing Cross,

accompanied by “a tall man with a cutberd, a sword and skie-coloured cloack.” He

passes on towards Westminster and overtakes a gentleman on horseback with five

followers in short cape-cloaks and long moustaches. The rider is a lean-visaged

man in a short cloak and with a gold rapier. His horse wears a velvet foot cloth. (It

sounds like a vision of Raleigh.)

They are merry. Vincent laughs heartily and shows two broad front teeth. He

has a little stick in his crooked fingers. The scar on his left hand is plainly seen. He

has very high straight close boots. They arrive at Westminster Church (the Abbey).

Many people are coming out. A number of boats lie in the river, and in the gardens

at Whitehall a man is grafting fruit trees. The lean-visaged man on horseback?alights,

and goes down towards, and up, the steps of Westminster Hall, Vincent

with him. His companion walks outside and accosts a waterman. The waterman

asks if that is the Polish bishop? The servant wants to know what business it is of

his. A messenger comes down the steps of the Hall and says to Vincent’s man that

his master shall be despatched to-morrow. The servant saith he is glad of it. “Then

all that shew is vanished away.”

There are one or two allusions here to an emissary from Denmark who has

brought a bag of amber. Il also says he has much business in Denmark. Frederick,

the King of Denmakr, was in frequent correspondence with Queen Elizabeth at this


At Bremen, where they stayed a week, Dee says that Kelley, when skrying by

himself, was given a kind of rambling prophetical verse of thirty-two lines, which

he prints, foretelling the downfall of England, Spain, France and Poland. In fact, a

general debacle of nations. It is very bad prophecy and still worse poetry, but

evidently inspired by the highly diplomatic foreign relations of Elizabeth and her

two ministers.

On leaving Bremen, the party travelled by Osterholz to Harburg, on the left

bank of the Elbe. They crossed the river and went on by coach to Hamburg. Laski

had then rejoined them, but stayed behind in Hamburg, at “the English house,”

probably the consul’s. Dee and the rest reached Lubeck on November 7.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Search while thou wilt; and let thy reason go

To ransom truth, e’en to th’abyss below;

Rally the scattered causes; and that line

Which nature twists be able to untwine.

It is thy Maker’s will; for unto none

But unto reason can He e’er be known.”

— Sir Thomas Browne

The dealings which Kelley had in Lubeck with the spirits seem to throw a

light on all his relations with Dee. Kelley is gaining confidence; he sees that he is

already able to dupe his employer considerably. He has only to manipulate the

conversations a little to show up often his so-called sincerity. He can pretend he is

aghast at Il’s levity, and he seems to have been cunning enough when the spirits

very often blamed him.

Buthis dreams of advancement in wealth and fame were no nearer

accomplishment. He had seen through Dee’s ambition. It was very different from

his own, but he thought he could use it to his own advantage. Dee was now

flattered without stint.

So at the sitting in November 15 he sees eleven noblemen in rich sables.

One, wearing a regal cap trimmed with sable, is seated on a chair beset with precious

stones. “He is a goodlier man than the Lord A.L.” He addresses Dee with glittering

promises. He is the King or the Emperor, and is represented in the margin of the

diary by a crown. He says to Dee: —?“Pluck up thy heart and be merry, pine not thy

Soul away with inwardgroanings, for I will open unto thee the secrets of Nature

and the riches of theworld, and withal give thee such direction that shall deliver

thee from manyinfirmities both of body and mind, ease thee of they tedious

labours and settle theewhere thou shalt have comfort.

“Thanks be given unto the Highest now and ever.

“Why doest thou [hesitate] within thy thought? Hast thou not need of


“Yes, God knows, for I am half confounded.”

“Then first determine within thyself to rest thee for this winter. Secondly,

open thy mind to desire such things as may advance thy credit and enrich thy

family, reap unto thee many friends and lift thee up to honour. For I will stir up the

mindes of learned men, the profoundest in the world, that they shall visit thee.

And I will disclose unto you such things as shall be wonderful and of exceeding

profit. Moreover I will put to my hands and help your proceedings, that the world

may talk of your wisdom hereafter. Therefore wander not farther into unknown

places: contagious, the very seats of death for thee and thy children and such as are

thy friends. If thou enquire of me where and how, I answer, everywhere, or how

thou wilt. Thou shalt forthwith become rich, and thou shalt be able to enrich kings

and help such as are needy. Wast thou not born to use the commodity of this

world? were not all things made for man’s use?”

Here are the old dreams of the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life, the

transmutation of metals and all the works of alchemy, for which both these

travellers were adventuring their lives in a foreign land. Dee does not seem exactly

dazzled by these allurements. He only begs leave to ask questions, and seeks to keep

the speaker to the point. “Are they to stay there and not to go on with Laski?

Where are they to spend the winter?”

“Where you will,” comes the answer. “Are you so unwise as to go with him

now? Let him go before, and provide for himself and the better for you. In the

Summer, when it is more fair, you can follow. The weather now will be hard and

the travel unfit for children. Heap not up thy wife’s sorrow.”

“I desire to live in quiet that my spirit may the better attend to the service of


“Well, you are contented?”

Dee asks again, are they to part from Laski? Will it not be prejudicial to their

arrangement, they having entered into a kind of covenant with him? “Are you not

content?” the visitor repeats.

Then he did impart some remarkable information to Dee, in which there was

certainly a grain of telepathically conveyed truth.

“Your brother is clapped up in prison. How like you that? Your house-keeper

I mean.”

This evidently refers to Nicholas Fromond.?“They examine him. They say that thou

hast hid divers secret things.

As forthy books, thou mayst go look at them at leasure. It may be that thy house may be

burnt for a remembrance of thee, too. Well, if they do, so it is. I have given thee my

counsel, and desired to do thee good. The choice is thine.”

There is no evidence that Fromond was imprisoned, but he was a poor

protector of his brother-in-law’s valuable effects. He was powerless against a mob

who broke into Dee’s house not long after his departure from Mortlake, made havoc

of his priceless books and instruments, and wrought irreparable damage. It was not

nearly two months since Dee had left Mortlake, and, moving from place to place, it

was unlikely that he had heard any news from thence. No date has ever been

assigned to this action of the mob. It is quite conceivable that it actually took place

on this day, November 15, and that by Kelley’s clairvoyant or telepathic power the

news was communicated across the sea and continent to Dee.

The poor astrologer was torn with doubts and misgivings. He fell upon his

knees, uttering a piercing supplication to the “Author of all truth and direction of

such as put their trust in him.”

“I most humbly beseech thee consider these promises thus to me

propounded. If they be true and from thee, confirm them. If they be illusions and

not from thee, disprove them. For hardly in my judgment they do or can agree with

our former precepts and order taken by thee.”

And again, in an agony:

“O Lord, I doubt of these promises of ease, wealth, and honour: I suspect the

whole apparition of the eleven to be an illusion. O confirm my judgment or

disprove it.”

So he seeks for a revelation of guidance, writes letters to Laski, and waits.

Soon he perceives these temptations to have come from “a very foolish devil.” He

decides that they will continue to throw in their lot with Laski, who rejoined them

in Lubeck. He left again to visit the Duke of Mecklenburg, they meanwhile going by

Wismar to Rostock and Stettin, which place they reached at ten o’clock on

Christmas morning. Laski joined them in a fortnight. They passed on by Stayard to

Posen, where Dee adds an antiquarian note that the cathedral church was founded

in 1025, and that the tomb of Wenceslaus, the Christian king, is of one huge stone.

It was here that Dee began to enter curous notes about Kelley in the Liber

Peregrinationis, written in Greek characters, but the words are Latin words, or more

frequently English. The supposition is that Kelley was unacquainted even with the

Greek alphabet. Dee kept his other foreign diary, written in an Ephemerides

Coelestium (printed in Venice, 1582), secret from his partner, for Kelley had

obtained possession of an earlier one kept in England and had written in it

unfavourable comments, as well as erased things, about himself. Dee had the last

word, and has added above Kelley’s “shameful lye,” “This is Mr. Talbot’s, his own

writing in my boke, very unduely as he came by it.” The various diaries sound,

perhaps, confusing to the reader, but are really quite simple. By the private diary is

meant the scraps in the Bodleian Almanacs, edited by Halliwell for the Camden

Society, in which he seldom alludes to psychic affairs. The Book of Mysteries is the

diary in which he relates all the history of the crystal gazing. The printed version

(True Relation) begins with Laski’s visit to Mortlake on May 28, 1583.

Winter had now set in with unwonted rigour, and one is amazed at the

celerity with which this great caravanserai of people and goods pushed on from

place to place. From Stettin to Posen, for instance, is more than 200 miles, and it ws

accomplished within four days and apparently with only one stop. Then

southwards into the watery district between the Oder and the Warthe, where the

country was so icebound that they had to employ five-and-twenty men to cut the ice

for their coaches for a distance as long as two English miles. On February 3 they

reached Lask, on the Prince’s own property, and at last were comfortably housed in

the Provost’s “fair house by the Church.” Here Dee was ill with ague, but the table

was set up, and a new spirit called Nalvage appeared in teh globe. Nalvage’s

“pysiognomy was like the picture of King Edward the Sixth. His hair hangeth

downa quarter of the length of the cap, somewhat curling, yellow.” Dee, of course,

had seen the young King when he presented his books, so this is a first-hand

reminiscence. Nalvage stood upon a round table of mother-of-pearl, and revealed

to them many cabalistic mysteries, tables of letters and names. There was a terrible

vision of Mrs. Dee lying dead, with her face all battered in, and of the maid Mary

being pulled our of a pool of water half drowned. But it seems to portent no more

than did another piece of ill news conveyed at the same time: “Sir Harry Sidney

died upon Wednesday last. A privy enemy of yours.” Dee says, “I ever took him for

one of my chief friends,” and adds, with unconscious humour:

“Note. At Prague, Aug. 24, I understood that Sir H. Sidney was not dead in

February nor March, no, not in May last. Therefore this must be considered. Doctor

Hagek, his son, told me.”

This note makes us realise for a moment how slowly news travelled from

England to the Continent in this year of grace 1584.

The informant, Madimi, “a little wench in white,” told Dee that she had been

in England at his house, and all there were well. The Queen said she was sorry she

had lost her philosopher. But the Lord Treasurer answered, “He will come home

shortly a begging to you.” “Truly,” adds Madimi, “none can turn the Queen’s heart

from you.” Then, recurring to Mortlake, she says: “I could not come into your

study. The Queen hath caused it to be sealed.” This no doubt after the breaking in

of the rioters. Dee was counselled to go and live at Cracow. He would like to be led

step by step, and begs to know what house “is in God’s determination for me and

mine.” Madimi answers, “As wise as I am, I cannot yet tell what to say.” Dee

demurs to the expense, and reproaches her for not telling them sooner. Needless

cost would have been saved, and he does not know if Laski will have enough

money for yet another move. He had rather Kesmark had been redeemed before

Laski went to Cracow. Perhaps then his credit with the people would be greater.

Laski had heavily mortgaged his estates in Poland; he was in debt, and he had

apparently raised a loan on his Kesmark property for a large sum of money. The

bond was to expire on St. George’s Day, April 23 next, and without the Emperor’s

help Dee did not see how it could be met. Kelley recurs to the Danish treasure he

had found in England, hidden in ten places, which they would fain have

transported to Poland now, very speedily, for Laski’s use. Dee is anxious to kow

from Madimi whether his rents are being duly received in England by his deputy or

not, “whether Her Majesty or the Council do intend to send for me again or no.”

They ask instructions from Gabriel about Kelley’s red powder, and how they shall

use it. Dee seeks for information about the Prince’s wife, whom they have not yet

seen, but they doubt she is not their sound friend. He begs for medicine for his ague.

And again, shall he take the pedestal, being made in Lask for the holy table, on to

Cracow when they go, “rather than make a new one there, both to save time and to

have our doings the more secret”? This pedestal was for the crystal to rest in upon

the table. Three iron hasps and padlocks were also made at Lask for the table. If any

answer to these questions was vouchsafed by the spirits, it was in the usual enigmas.

Part of Dee’s baggage, a chest left at Toon on their way out, not having

arrived, they did not immediately obey the injunction to move on to Cracow, but

after about five weeks in Lask, they again journeyed forward.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Sir, to a wise man all the world’s his soil:

It is not Italy, nor France, nor Europe

That must bound me if my fates call me forth.

Yet, I protest it is no salt desire

Of seeing countries, shifting a religion;

Nor any disaffection to the State

Where I was bred, and unto which I owe

My dearest plots, hath brought me out: much less

That idle, antique, stale, grey-headed project

Of knowing men’s minds and manners.”

— Jonson, Volpone, or The Fox

At the close of the sixteenth century, Cracow was at the height of its fame and

prosperity. It was still the capital of POland, and the residence of her kings, as well

as the seat of the university founded two hundred years before by Casimir the Great.

The Gothic cathedral erected under the same king, the burial place of Polish

monarchs, was already adorned with sculptures and bronzes, the work of

Renaissance artists from Florence and Siena. The visitor of today will find himself

surrounded by churches and other buildings dating from the twelfth, fourteenth,

and sixteenth centuries. Amid the ramparts of the Austrian fortress can still be

traced here and there the older fortifications.

The city lies in the centre of a vast plain, almost at the confluence of two

rivers, the Vistula and Rudowa. Across this plain from the north-west the

travellers came, and reached Cracow in the afternoon of March 13, 1584.

“We were lodged in the suburbs by the church, where we reamained a seven

night, and then we (I and my wife) removed to the house in St. Stephen Street,

which I had hired for a year for 80 gylders of 30 groschen. And Master Edward

Kelley came to us on Fryday in the Easter week by the new Gregorian Kalendar,

being the 27 day of March by the old Kalendar, but the sixth day of April by the new

Kalendar, Easter Day being the first day of April in Poland, by the new Gregorian


From the time of arriving in Poland Dee is careful to enter the dates in both

old and new styles. The New Style was then extremely new, it having been

introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. only a couple of years before, and universally

adopted by all Roman Catholic countries. England, in all the fervour of her recently

established Protestantism, would have none of it, but still desired not to lag behind

in needful reforms. Dee, as already stated, had been commissioned before he left

England to make calculations by which the calendar could be suitably adopted in this

country. The Roman Church had assumed the chronology adopted by the Council

of Nice to be strictly correct. But Dee desired to ascertain the actual position of the

earth in relation to the sun at the birth of Christ, as a bsais on which to rectify the

calendar. The result of his calculations would have omitted eleven instead of ten


Dee’s book (which was never printed, but remains in manuscript among the

Ashmolean MSS.) was entitled “A Playne discourse and humble advise for our

gratious Queene Elizabeth, her most Excellent Majestie, to peruse and consider as

concerning the needful Reformation of the Vulgar Kalendar for the civile yeres and

daies accompting or verifying, according to the tyme truely spent.” It was finished

and delivered to Burleigh on February 26, 1583. To him it was inscribed with these

rather playful verses: —

“ and

I shew the thing and reason why,

At large, in briefe, in middle wise

I humbly give a playne advise;

For want of tyme, the tyme untrew

If I have must, command anew

Your honour may, so shall you see

That love of truth doth govern me.”

Burleigh proposed that skilful men in science, as Mr. Digges, be called from

the universities to peruse the work and confer. But the Council of State consulted

Archbishop Grindal and three of the bishops who recommended the rejection of

Dee’s scheme, chiefly on the ground that it emanated from Rome, and so their

opposition delayed this desirable public reform in England for 170 years. Dee agreed

to grant the ten days for the sake of conformity with the rest of the world, if his

calculation that eleven were strictly accurate was publicly announced. It will be

remembered that in 1742, when the change was made, eleven days were omitted

from the calendar.

The household at Cracow now consisted of Mrs. Dee, Arthur, Katherine,

Rowland and his nurse, and the mand Mary, Mrs. Kelley and her husband, a

servant named John Crocker and a boy. It was augmented before long.

The actions with the spirits soon recommenced. Kelley began very unfairly

by trying sittings alone, for he was importunate to know how the Prince was going

to treat them as regards money. But he seems only to have drawn reproof and

much excellent counsel on himself from Nalvage.

The next few weeks were taken up with instructions from Gabriel and

Nalvage, consisting of letters, numbers and words ina strange Eastern or angelic

language, to which Dee probably had some key, though they appear unintelligible.

The partners were bidden to keep the Sabbath, and Dee resolves to go always to

church. Kelley seems to have turned restive once again. On April 17 he declared he

would sit no more to receive these A.B.C. messages unless they were better

explained. “There is your boy, John,” he said; “he can well enough give you these

simple signs. You need me no longer. I will be gone.” As Casaubon remarks, “he

was ever and anon upon projects to break with Dee.”

Two days after, Dee heard him come upstairs to his own study, and called

him in. Dee’s study was an inner room through one that opened on to the stairs, at

the foot of which was a door. He explained that he had now a distinct clue to the

meaning of the tables of letters on which he had long been puzzling; dwelt on how

essential it was to miss not a single letter, or else the words would err. He asked

him, in fact, to resume his skrying, and encouraged him by saying that he knew he

“would come to like better this due and methodical manner of our friends’

proceeding,” if only he would continue. Kelley scornfully replied that their teachers

were mere deluders, and no good or sufficient teachers. In two years they had not

made them able to understand, or do anything. “In two years,” he said boastingly, “I

could have learned all the seven liberal arts and sciences, if I had first learned

Logick.” He protested he would have no more to do with the spirits in any manner

or way, wished himself in England, and vowed if the books were his he would burn

them all. “These spiritual creatures are not bound to me. Take John for your


Dee pathetically recapitulated his long desire for wisdom, his faith that more

knowledge will be granted him. Kelley went out leaving Dee buried in prayer.

In two days, Kelley was again submissive to the spirits, who bade him not

mistrust. “Let him that is a servant and is commanded to go, go. And let not the

earth rise up and strive against the plowman.” So they go on again with their

cabalistic letters and signs. In the beginning of May, Dee notes: “E.K. is very well

persuaded of these actions now, thanked be the Highest.”

Later in the month he says: “There happened a great storm or temptation to

E.K. of doubting and mistaking our instructors and their doings, and of contemning

and condemning anything that I knew or could do. I bare all things patiently for

God his sake.” Kelley at the same time says: “I am contented to see and to make

true report of what they will show, but my heart standeth against them.”

That night after the sitting, he again swore he would not go on skrying. The

morning after, Dee knocked at his study door, and bade him come, for Nalvage had

left off the previous day in the middle of an interesting geographical lesson about

unknown parts of the earth, and had told them to be ready to continue it next

morning. Kelley was obdurate, and Dee retired to prayer. In half an hour, the skryer

burst in with a volume of Cornelius Agrippa’s in his hand, where he said all the

countries they were told about yesterday were described and written down. “What is

the use,” he said, “in going on with this farce, if they tell us nothing new?” Dee

replied that he was glad to see Kelley had such a book of his own; that Nalvage in

giving those ninety-one new names of countries, all of seven letters, was answering

?his particular request; that he had verified the lands in the charts of Gerardus

Mercator and Pomponius Mela, which he had at hand and produced, “and now,” he

said triumphantly, “we know exactly what angels govern which countries, in case

we are ever called to practise there.” Nalvage had described the natives of the

countries and the products, suggesting that in Greenland a vein of gold might be

found. “Your wilful phantasie,” Dee ended to Kelley, “perverts your reason; and

whereas you find fault with our instructors, I, who much more narrowly peruse

their words, know that they give direct answers to my questions, except indeed

when you misreport them, or I make a mistake in hearing or writing.” So three

days were lost, as Dee bemoans in the margin, and then Kelley was again induced to

resume his skrying.

On the 25th, Laski arrived and left again for Kesmark. He now intended to

redeem his property there. But King Stephan and his Chancellor were both set

against him, and he wished Dee to go with him to the Emperor of Austria, Rudolph


Instructions were now given that they must be ready to go with Laski to the

Emperor, must make themselves apt and meet, for until no remembrance of

wickedness is left among them they cannot forward the Lord’s expeditions. Gabriel

tells Kelley at some length of his many faults. Dee did not hear this, but

considerately does not ask for a repetition of the catalogue. He only bids Kelley

listen well. Gabriel says if any will be God’s minister, he must sweep his house

clean, without spot. He must not let his life be a scandal to the will of the Lord.

“God finds thee, as he passes by in his Angel, fit in matter, but, my brother,

God knows, far unfit in life. O consider the Dignity of thy creation. See how God

beareth with thy infirmity fromtime to time. Consider how thou art now at a

Turning where there lieth two wayes. One shall be to thy comfort, the other to

perpetual woe.”

Gabriel’s dart, like a flame of fire, is upright in his hand. He pleads with

Kelley in such adorable gentleness and with such tender and ecstatic weeping, that

both his hearers cannot withhold their tears. Gabriel’s words so moved Kelley that

he professed absolute repentance for all his dealings with wicked spirits, vowed he

would burn whatsoever he has of their trash and experiments, and write a book

setting forth their horrible untruth, and blasphemous doctrine against Christ and

the Holy Ghost. It is curious that among the other errors he renounced was the

Eastern doctrine that a fixed number of souls and bodies have always been in the

world, and that a man’s soul goes from one body to another, viz., into the new-born

child. In the light of after-events, it is significant that another belief abjured is that

to the chosen there is no sin.

Dee was overjoyed, and full of thanksgiving. He believed utterly in Kelley’s

conversion, all the more because of his former lapses. If anything were wanting to

prove it, it was to be found in the humble and patient spirit in which this

impracticable, volcanic skryer of his now sat on patiently for two hours and a half

before the stone without either cloud, veil, or voice appearing. This to Kelley was

“no light pang.” Nay, he argues that servants must wait as long as their Master

pleases, and the time is better spent thanin any human doings. He opens his

wayward heart to Dee, the man without guile, and avows that he had fully intended

at his last outburst, ten days before, to have gone away secretly with those with

whom he had so long dealt had they not threatened him with beggary — a thing,

 adds Dee, that he most hated and feared. Therefore, till this timehe had been a

hypocrite. Now, in his new-found elation, he cares not for poverty; life eternal is

more than riches and wealth. He that can be hired with money to forsake the devil

is no Christian. He will doubt no more, but believe. Dee adds that he omits many

others of his godly sayings, thinking these sufficient to write down. He had no

suspicion of any ill faith. His love for Kelley was truly unbounded in its long-suffering.

He offered a fervent thanksgiving for the conversion, and for Satan’s

defeat, and prayed for them both for “continual zeal, love of truth, purity of life,

charitable humility and constant patience tothe end.”

The same atmosphere continued next day, June 11. Kelley protests he could

sit for seven years awaiting a vision. They do wait nearly four hours. Evidently

Kelley converted is not going to be so good a medium as Kelley unregenerate. Dee

explains the non-appearance as retribution for the three days wasted before. But

they are all reather depressed, especially the Prince.

Then a vision appears of the castle of Grono, in Littau, where the King of

Poland then was. Stephan’s arms are seen over the gate. A man like an Italian is

beheld, carrying an iron chest within which are an image in black wax, a dead hand,

and so on. The promise is that Laski shall be King of Poland.

Early next morning Kelley, lying awake in bed, had a vision which he or Dee

afterwards embodied in the curious diagram facing [ ? ].

It may be taken as a sample of the kind of intricate complications of theurgy

which often absorbed the pair for days together.

The vision was expounded by Ave, something in the following manner: —


East and West, North and South, stand fouur sumptuous and belligerent

Castles, out of which sound Trumpets thrice. From every Castle, a Cloth, the sign of

Majesty, is cast. In the East it is red, like new-smitten blood. In the South, lily-white.

In the West, green, garlick-bladed like the skins of many dragons. In the

North, hair-coloured, black like bilberry juice. Four trumpeters issue from the

Castles, with trumpets pyramidal, of six cones, wreathed. Three Ensign bearers, with

the names of God on their banners, follow them. Seniors, Kings, Princes as train

bearers, Angels in four phalanxes like crosses, all in their order, march to the central

Court, and range themselves about the ensigns.


The dazzling, shifting formation seems to proceed in a glorious pagenat of

colour, and then to rest, frozen into a minutely exact phantasticon of harmony.

Now for the meaning of the allegory. The Castles are Watch towers provided

against the Devil, the Watchman in each is a mighty angel. The ensigns publish the

redemption of mankind. The Angels of the Aires, which come out of the Crosses,

are to subvert whole countries, without armies, in this war waged against the

Powers of Darkness.

Many weeks were taken up with tables of letters for the

games, angels, seniors, etc.?Kelley is again sometimes very much tempted to doubt

the good faith of theangelic visitants, more especially as he sadly fears that good

angels will not providethem with the needful money that the Prince requires for the

success of his cause.


One day, Dee wrote in his diary: “E.K. had the Megrom sore.” Kelley read this, and

“A great temptation fell on E.K., upon E.K. taking these words to be a scoff, which

were words of compassion and friendship.” After this Dee resorts more frequently

to the use of his Greek characters.

The Dees were still living near the church of St. Stephen, where Kelley was a

frequent visitor. Laski lodged with the Franciscans in their convent. The

revelations were now of tables of letters again, intended, Dee things, that they may

learn the names of angels and distinguish the bad from the good. (The bad angels’

names are said to be all of three letters.) He hopes Ave is about to reveal the healing

medicines; the property of fire; the knowledge, finding, and use of metals; the

virtues of stones, and the understanding of arts mechanical. But Ave says it is the

wicked spirits who give money coined, although there are good angels who can find

metals, gather them and use them. Then Madimi appears, after a long absence, and

addressing Dee as “my gentle brother,” tells him that Ave is a good creature and

they might have made more of him. She wants to know why they have not gone to

the Emperor Rudolph. The old excuse of poverty is pleaded.

That evening, June 26, at seven o’clock, Dee sat in his study considering the

day’s action, when Kelley entered and asked if he understood it. He, it seems, had

burst out again, had raged and abused Michael and Gabriel, called Ave a devil, made

“horrible speeches.” There had been a most terrible storm of thunder and rain, and

Kelley always appeared sensitive to these electric disturbances. Now he is penitent

once more, acknowledges his words were “not decent,” and begs forgiveness of God

and Dee. The talk lasted long, and several calls to supper were unheeded; then, just

as they were leaving the room, Kelley felt something warm and heavy on his

shoulder, and behold! it was Ave come to acknowledge his repentance. Dee hands

him his Psalter book, and with three prayers devoutly said, all is smooth again, and

they go down to supper.

Dee’s patience and humility seemed unending. In conversing with the spirits

he is always, as it were, face to face with God. His replies are made direct to the

Majesty of the Divine. When Kelley is blamed he assumes equal blame.

Ave. — ”Which of you have sought the Lord for the Lord his sake?”

D. — ”That God can judge. We vaunt nothing of our doings, nor challenge

anything by the perfection of our doings. We challenge nothing, Lord, upon any

merits, but fly unto thy mercy, and that we crave and call for. Curiosity is far from

our intents.”

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Since all men from their birth employ sense prior to intellect, and are

necessarily first conversant with sensible things: some, proceeding no farther, pass

through life considering these as first and last; and apprehending what is painful to

be evil, what is pleasant good, they deem it sufficient to shun the one and pursue?the other.

Some pretending to greater reason than the rest, esteem this wisdom; like

earth-bound birds, though they have wings they are unable to fly. The secret souls

of others would recall them from pleasure to worthier pursuits, but they cannot

soar: they choose the lower way, and strive in vain. Thirdly, there are those —

divine men — whose eyes pierce through clouds and darkness to the supernal

vision, where they abide as in their own lawful country.”

— Plotinus

All this time, Dee is so absolutely absorbed with his spiritual visions that we

know very little about his outer existence. For three years after he left England, he

neglected to enter anything in his ordinary diary, and the Liber Mysticus contains

nothing of everyday affairs.

In this July, 1584, however, at Cracow, he does enter an important piece of

information about his boy Rowland, the baby then about a year and a half old.

“1584. Remember that on Saturday the fourteenth day of July by the

Gregorian Calendar, and the fourth day of July by the old Calendar, Rowlande my

childe (who was born Anno 1583, January 28 by the old calendar) was extreamely

sick about noon or mid-day, and by one of the clock was ready to give up the ghost,

or rather lay for dead, and his eyes set and sunck in his head.

“I made a vow if the Lord did foresee him to be his true servant, and so

would grant him life, and confirm him his health at this danger, and from this

danger, I would during my life on Saturdays eat but one meal.”

Although we never find this vow referred to again, there is no doubt that Dee

devoutly kept his bargain. Rowland did grow up and had other remarkable


Still the journey to Prague to the Emperor Rudolph was postponed, and it

was not until the first day of August that the trio set off. Dee and Kelley were ready

to go sooner, but Laski had not sufficiently recovered his finances. The party had

been augmented by the arrival of Kelley’s brother, Thomas, and Edmond Hilton,

son of Dee’s old friend, Goodman Hilton, who had sometimes lent him money, and

who in 1579 had requested leave for his two sons to resort to Dee’s house. Thomas

Kelley accompanied the Prince and his pair of crystal gazers. The women were left

behind under Edmond Hilton’s charge.

Five or six days after arriving in Prague, on the day of the Assumption of the

Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, Dee was settled in the house of Dr. Hageck, by

Bethlem in Old Prague (Altstadt), kindly lent him for his use. The house was not

far from the old Rathhaus, the great clock tower of which, dated 1474, and the

Council Chamber, still exist. It was also near the Carolinum or University, founded

by Charles IV. in 1383, in whose hall John Huss a hundred and fifty years before had

held his disputations. When Dee and his party arrived in the city Tycho Brahe was

still alive, though not yet a resident in Prague. Prague was the city of alchemists.

The sombre, melancholy Emporer himself relieved his more seriuos studies by

experiments in alchemics and physics. A mania for collecting rare and valuable

objects provided him with a still lighter pastime. He painted, read much, and

worked in iron, was a good linguist, and a regular dilettante. Unmarried, and with

all the weaknesses of the Habsburghs, for nearly thirty years our of his long life and

far too protracted reign he was quite mad. Not many years after his reception of Dee

he ceased to make any pretence of public appearance.

The excellent little study or “stove” (from “stube,” German for study) in Dr.

Hageck’s house had been since 1518 the abode of some student of alchemy, skilful of

the holy stone. The name of the alchemist, “Simon,” was written up in letters of

gold and silver in several places in the room. Dee’s eyes also fell daily on many

cabalistic hieroglyphs, as well as on drawings or carvings of birds, fishes, flowers,

fruits, leaves and six vessels, all the work, he presumed, of Simon baccalaureus

Pragensis. Over the door were the lines:

“Immortale Decus par gloriaque illi debentur

Cujus ab ingenio est discolor hic paries,”

and on the south wall of the study was a long quotations from some philosophical

work ending with

“Ars nostra est Ludus puero cum labor mulierum. Scitote omnes filii artis

hujus, quod nemo potest colligere fructus nostri Elixiris, nisi per introitum nostri

lapidis Elementati, et si aliam viam quaerit, viam nunquam intrabit nec attinget.

Rubigo est opus, quod sit ex solo auro, dum intraverit in suam humiditatem.”

In these congenial surroundings skrying was at once resumed. Madimi (now

grown into a woman) was the first visitor, and Dee hastened to inquire for his wife

and child at Cracow. He notes that his first letter from her arrived on the 21st. She

joined him before long. He was told to write to the Emperor Rudolph. He did so on

August 17, and he relates in the epistle the favourable attention he has received

from Charles V. and his brother Ferdinand, Rudolph’s father, the Emperor

Maximilian II., who accepted the dedication of his book Monas Hieroglyphica, and

others of the imperial house. He signs the letter, “Humillimus et fidelissimus

clientulus Joannes Dee.”

After waiting a week he sent the letter by Laski’s secretary to the Spanish

ambassador, Don Guglielmo de Sancto Clemente, who was to present it to Rudolph.

With it he also sent a copy of his Monas. The same night he heard by Emerich

Sontag, the secretary, that the Emperor had graciously accepted the book, and within

three or four days would appoint a time for giving him an audience.

He received letters from England on August 27, which were dated April 15

and 16. His brother-in-law, Nicholas Fromond, told him that Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Sled,

and his bookseller had used him very ill. Doubtless he was expecting some money

from the sale of his books. Mrs. Dee was much upset at her brother’s defections, and

poor Dee was worried all round, for, as he writes in the margin of his diary, “Satan

is very busy with E.K. about this time.” Kelley seems to have been making friends

with young Simon Hageck, son of “our host,” as Dee calls him. To furnish his own

study he has bought a clock of Mrs. Hageck for five ducats, which was so good a

bargain that she requested “a quart of wine” (probably a quarter hogshead) thrown

in. She herself does not seem to have benefited much by the largess, for Kelley and

Laski’s man Alexander proceeded to get drunk on it, and fell to fighting and

quarrelling. Dee, who had stayed writing in his study instead of going to supper,

was warned by the city watchman to keep better peace in his house. Looking from

his window to account for the caution, he saw Laski’s man sitting on a great stone,

and called him to come in. When he had heard the tale he went off to Hageck’s to

“understand the very truth,” and there found Kelley lying in a drunken sleep on a

form. This was a relief. He was better pleased to think that angry words had been

spoken “when wine, not wit, had rule,” and persuaded Laski’s man to stay in his

lodgings that night instead of raging forth into the street. Already a scandal had

been made which he foresaw would do him much harm. Next morning Kelley had

a madder fit than ever.

“Much ado. Emerich and his brother (Thomas Kelley) and I had to stop or

hold him from going on Alexander with his weapon. At length we let him go, in

his doublet and hose without a cap or haton his head, and into the street he hasted

with his brother’s rapier drawn, and challenged Alexander to fight. But Alexander

said `Nolo, Domine Kelleie, Nolo.’ Hereupon E.K. took up a stone and threw after

him as after a dog, and so came into the house again in a most furious rage for that

he might not fight with Alexander. The rage and fury was so great in words and

gestures as might plainly prove that the wicked enemy sought either E.K. his own

destroying of himself, or of me, or of his brother. This may suffice to notifie the

mighty temptation and vehement workingo f the subtle spiritual enemy, Satan,

wherewith God suffered E.K. to be tempted and almost overcome: to my great grief,

discomfort, and most great discredit, if it should come to the Emperor’s

understanding. I was in great doubt how God would take this offence, and devised

with myself how I might with honesty be cleared from the shame and danger that

might arise if these two should fight. At the least, it would cross all good hope here

with the Emperor for a time, till God redressed it.”

By this time Dee had become skilled and tactful in dealing with his turbulent

skryer, and he soon brought him to quietness by yielding to his humour and saying

little. At mid-day came Dee’s messenger from Cracow, bringing letters from and

tidings by word of mouth of his dear wife Jane, “to my great comfort.” Much he was

in need of comfort, and when a letter from the Emperor arrived the same day,

desiring to see him, Kelley’s enormities began to assume less desperate proportions.

Dee started at once to the Castle, the Palace of Prague, and waited in the guard-chamber,

sending Emericus to the Lord Chamberlain, Octavius Spinola, to

announce his coming.

“Spinola came to me very courteously and led me by the skirt of the gown,

through the dining chamber to the Privie chamber, where the Emperor sat at a table,

with a great chest and standish of silver before him, and my Monad and Letters by


Rudolph thanked Dee politely for the book (which was dedicated to his

father), adding that it was “too hard for his capacity” to understand; but he

encouraged the English philosopher to say on all that was in his mind. Dee

recounted his life history at some length, and told how for forty years he had sought,

without finding, true wisdom in books and men; how God had sent him His Light,

Uriel, who for two years and a half, with other spirits, had taught him, had finished?his books for him, and had brought hima stone of more value than any earthly

kingdom. This angelic friend had given him a message to deliver to Rudolph. He

was to bid him forsake his sins and turn to the Lord. Dee was to show him the Holy


“This my commission is from God. I feign nothing, neither am I a hypocrite,

an ambitious man, or doting or dreaming in this cause. If I speak otherwise than I

have just cause, I forsake my salvation,” said he.

Rudolph was probably very much bored by this mystical rhapsody. He

excused himself from seeing the vision at this time, and said he would hear more

later. He promised friendship and patronage, and Dee, who says he had told him

almost more thanhe intended of his purposes, “to the intent they might get some

root or better stick in his minde,” was fain to take his leave. In a few days he was

informed, through the Spanish ambassador, that one Doctor Curtius, of the Privy

Council, “a wise, learned, and faithful councillor,” was to be sent to listen to him on

the Emperor’s behalf. Uriel, whose head had been bound of late in a black silk

mourning scarf because of Kelley’s misdoings, now reappeared in a wheel of fire,

and announced favour to Rudolph.

“If he live righteously and follow me truly, I will hold up his house with

pillars of hiacinth, and his chambers shall be full of modesty and comfort. I will

bring the East wind over him as a Lady of Comfort, and she shall sit upon his castles

with Triumph, and she shall sleep with joy.”

To Dee, he says, has been given “the spirit of choice.” Dee petitions that his

understanding of that dark saying may be opened: “Dwell thou in me, O Lord, for I

am frail and without thee very blind.”

The conference between Dee and Curtius on September 15 lasted for six

hours. It took place at the Austrian’s house, whither Dee was permitted, it seems, to

take the magic stone and teh books of the dealings. Dee in all good faith promised

that many excellent things should happen to Rudolph, if only he would listen to the

voice of Uriel. Dee’s sincerity, credulous though it appears, was as yet unshaken.

He lived in a transcendental atmosphere, and trembled, as he believed, on the brink

of a great revelation. The very heavens seemed opening to him, and soon, he

thought, he would probe knowledge to its heart.

Kelley, on the other hand, was under no delusion. He had worked the spirit

mystery for long enough without profit; already he was beginning to more than

suspect that the game was played out; that their dreams of Laski as King of Poland,

dispensing wealth and favour to his two helpers, were never to be realised; that the

Emperor’s favour would be equally chimerical and vain; and that some more

profitable occupation had better be sought. At the back of his mind lay always the

hope of the golden secret. Somehow and somewhere this last aspiration of the

alchemist must be realised.

At the very time when the two learned doctors were holding their

confabulation, Kelley, says Dee, was visited at their lodgings with a wicked spirit

who told him that Dee’s companion would use him like a serpent, “compassing his?destruction with both head and tayle; and that our practices would never come to

any fruitful end.”

This was a true prophecy indeed, but many things were yet to come to pass.

Uriel now instructs Dee to write to the Emperor and tell him that he can

make the philosopher’s stone: in other words, that he can transmute base metal

into gold. In the next breath Uriel foretells that Rudolph shall be succeeded by his

brother Ernest, for when he sees and possesses gold (which is the thing he desireth,

and those that cousel him do also most desire), he shall perish, and his end shall be

terrible. Dee shall be brought safely home to England. Uriel used a curious simile,

that Dee “shall ascend the hills as the spiders do.” Dee, with his knowledge of many

sciences, has never shown himself a naturalist, but he here gives us an interesting

scrap of natural history. He writes in the margin: “Perhaps spiders flying inthe aire,

are carried by strings of their own spinning or making, or else I know not how.”

Dee’s suit with the Emperor did not much progress. His ministers were

naturally envious of this foreigner, and many whispers, as well as louder allegations

against the two Englishment, were abroad, although, as San Clemente told him, the

Emperor himself was favourable. The Spanish ambassodor was friendly enough,

and Dee dined several times at his table. He professed to be descended from

Raymond Lully, and, of course, like every educated person of the fifteenth and

sixteenth centuries, was a believer in the virtues of the philosopher’s stone. He bade

them not regard the Dutchmen’s ill tongues, “who can hardly brook any stranger.”

Dee wrote again to the Emperor a letter of elaborate compliment and praise of

vestroe sacrae Coesaraoe Majestatis, in which he offered to come and show him the

philosopher’s stone and the magic crystal.

Still nothing came of it, and these needy adventurers in a foreign land began

to get into deadly straits. “Now were we all brought to great penury: not able

without the Lord Laski’s, or some heavenly help, to sustain our state any longer.”

Dee returned from a dinner at the Spanish ambassador’s to find Kelley resolved to

throw up the whole business and start for England the next day, going first to

Cracow to pick up his wife. If she will not go he must set off without her, but go he

will. He will sell his clothes and go to Hamburg, and so to England. It is all very

well for the spirits to promise spiritual covenants and blessings; but as Kelley said to

Uriel, “When will you give us meat, drink and cloathing?”

At this time the women and children did join the party from Cracow,

although Dee does not record it in his diary. But on September 27 Dr. Curtius called

to see him at his lodging in Dr. Hageck’s house by Bethlem, and he says “saluted my

wife and little Katherine, my daughter.” Dee laid before him some of the slanders

that he knew were going about. He had been called at Clemente’s table a bankrupt

alchemist, a conjuror and necromantist, who had sold his own goods and given the

proceeds to Laski, whom he had beguiled, and now he was going to fawn upon the

Emperor. Curtius was at last induced to spread before the Emperor his report of the

conference he had held (by command) with Dee. “Rudolph,” said Curtius, “thinks

the things you have told him almost either incredible or impossible. He wants you

to show him the books.” Then the talk became the learned gossip of a couple of

bookish and erudite scholars. Dee produced some rare editions which the others

had never seen. Curtius offered the loan of one of his own works, De

Superficierum Divisionibus, printed at Pesaro. After this, with mutual courtesies?offered on both parts, “after the manner of the world,” Curtius took his horse, and

returned homeward.

Jane Dee was ailing at this time, and Dee was much distressed. Gabriel, when

consulted, told him that the true medicine is trust in the God of Hosts and in His

Son Christ. “The Lamb of Life is the true medecine of comfort and consolation.” He

did, however, condescend to give a remarkable precription for her use, concocted of

a pint of wheat, a live pheasant cock, eleven ounces of white amber, and an ounce of

red wine, all distilled together. Dee, though no Christian Scientist, was willing

enough to administer the strange decoction, but says he knows not where or how to

get a cock pheasant. In the spring of the next year, Jane’s fourth child, Michael, was

born. He was always rather sickly, and died when nine years old. Theodore, her

fifth child, was only thirteen when he too died, but all the six other children grew


Curtius and Dee became good friends. The Austrian showed his English

acquaintance several of his inventions connected withthe quadrant and with

astronomical tables, and Dee confided to him the secret of a battering glass he had

contrived for taking observations on a dark night. The glass was left at Cracow with

his books and other goods, but he would gladly go and fetch it to show the Emperor.

This led to Dee’s request for a passport to enable him to travel, with servants, wife

and children, where he would in the Emperor’s dominions at any time within a

year. He drew it up himself on October 8, 1584, and the Emperor granted it without

demur. Dee soon started for Cracow to bring the rest of his goods to Prague, but the

diary for the month of November is missing, and the following book opens on

December 10, when he had set out from Cracow to return to Prague. “Master

Kelley” was with him, John Crocker, and Rowland and his nurse, who had been left

behind when Mrs. Dee and the two elder children joined her husband in Prague. As

before, more than a week was occupied with the journey, which was made in a

coach, with horses bought of “Master Frizer.” In Prague a new lodging was found in

a house belonging to two sisters, of whom one was married to Mr. Christopher

Christian, the registrar of Old Prague. Dee hired the whole house from him at a rent

of 70 “dollars” or thalers a year, to be paid quarterly.

“On Saturday afternoon, January 12, 1585, I removed clean from Doctor

Hageck, his house by Bedlem, and came with all my household to the House which

I had hired of the two sisters (married) not far from the Market Place in old Prage.”

He announced his return to the Spanish ambassador and to Dr. Curtius, and

continued his interviews with “the schoolmaster” daily.

Some of the sittings recorded at this time are really of the nature of school

lessons, which to a man of Dee’s acquirements must have seemed rather

elementary, yet he humbled himself as a child to learn. One day geographical and

ethnographical information is imparted about America, or, as Dee calls it,

“Atlantis”; Cathay; the Bactrian desert; and Phalagon, a country of which Dee says he

never heard. Another day, minerals and their properties form the subject of the


Much was said about the doubting, incredulous spirit of Kelley, which Dee

always feels is the hindrance to further knowledge. At length he is given

permission to choose another skryer if he will: “Take whomsoever thou wilt in

whose face the Lord shall seem to dwell, and place him withthis Seer, and let him

stand seven times by him. I will take the spirit from him and will give it unto the

same that standeth by, and he shall fulfill my word that I have begun.”

But Dee was strangely reluctant to part with Kelley. He loved him like a son,

he yearned over his soul, and he entertained more lively hopes than ever of his real

conversion, for Kelley had at last consented to partake of the sacrament with his

older friend. Dee uttered aloud a solemn prayer: —

“O God, thouh has coupled us two together in they election, and what the

Lord hath joyned, no fleshly fancy of mine shall willingly separate. But if it be thy

will, seeing he is so hard to give credit to thy holy messengers, without some proof

in work first past, as for example this doctrine of the philosopher’s stone, that so he

may come to be allowed, though he imitate Thomas Didymus in his hard and slow

belief. And because he is to receive the pledge of thy mercies, and mystery of the

heavenly food, we would gladly hear of that holy sacrament some discourse for our

better instruction, and his better encouragement to the mystery receiving.”

Then was delivered a remarkable homily expounding Protestant Christian

belief upon several points: the Creation, the fall of Adam (because he wanted the

beauty and excellency of God’s spirit for which he was created); of the sacrament of

Christ’s body, “the holy sign of peace between God and man”; and the mystery and

wonder of the rite as shown to the disciples, not, as the wicked do, “tying the power

and majesty of God and His omnipotence to the tail or end of reason, to be haled as

she will....It is a holy miracle, and thou must believe, as the Disciples did, that thou

partakest of the true Body of Christ sub forma panis. But receiving ceasing, the

Sacrament ceaseth also.” This in answer to Dee’s interposed question. The Hussite

doctrine of the permanence of the sacred element in the common food when

blessed was of course much in men’s minds in Prague. So with an injunction to

“share this doctrine with your wives,” this exposition ends.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“Now, Epicure,

Heighten thyself, talk to her all in gold,

Rain her as many showers as Jove did drips

Unto his Danaid, shew the gold a miser

Compared with Mammon. What! the stone will do’t.

She shall feel gold, taste gold, hear gold, sleep gold.”

— Jonson, The Alchemist

On February 27, 1585, Dee and Kelley, with Thomas Kelley, rode with great

secrecy to Limburg, six miles from Prague, in obedience to Madimi, who however

told them on arriving that Rudolph know of their departure. Dee suspected Laski’s

man, Sontag, of treachery. Michael appeared to them there, and instructed Dee to

name his new-born child Michael. The infant was baptised by the Court chaplain in

Prague Cathedral (which is dedicated to the very unpopular Saint Vitus) on March?18, the Spanish ambassador being godfather and the Lady Dietrichstein, wife of the

Emperor’s major-domo, godmother.

Kelley was still murmuring under the mystical dealings of the angels. “Let

them give me somewhat profitable to my body, or some wisdom to my mind’s

behoof, and then I will believe in them,” he says. Then he protests he will confess

all to the priest, and if the holy father does not allow their doings or counsel to be

genuine, neither will he.

The remarkable answer that Dee gives again shows us how in advance he was

of his times in matters spiritual as well as scientific. “The authority of good angels

or messengers from God is greater,” says he, “than the authority of the Pope, or


So the weeks went on. Kelley postponed the day of taking the sacrament. At

Easter will be a fit time. He will wait till then. He is tired of skrying: “I pray you to

deal with another. Here is John, a boy in the house. You may use him.” Thus, for

the third time, a boy is suggested.

It is a curious piece of psychology, or crystallomancy, that Kelley, who

possessed the mediumistic powers, was always so reluctant to use them, while Dee,

who as Madimi told him, had clearer sight than his skryer, was entirely unable to

open up communication with the unseen.

Money was scarcer than ever. “My wife being in great perplexity, requested

E.K. and me that the annexed petition might be propounded to God and his good

angels, to give answer or counsel in the cause.” Jane’s petition set out simply that

they had no provision for meat and drink for their family, that it “would discredit

the actions wherewith they are vowed and linked unto the heavenly majesty” to lay

the ornaments of their house or coverings of their bodies in pawn to the Jews, and

that the city was full of malicious slanders. Aid and direction are implored how or

by whom they are to be aided and relieved. The spirits, while reminding her

grandiloquently that she is only a woman, full of infirmities, frail in soul, and not

fit to enter the synagogue, yet favourably listen, and bid her be faithful and obedient

as she is yoked, promising that she and her children shall be cared for. Meanwhile

her husband is to gird himself together and hasten to see Laski and King Stephan.

This injunction seems not to have been obeyed for some time, for Dee was

now very busy inditing letters to Queen Elizabeth and to other of his friends in

England. He was reminded of it later when something went wrong, and another

crisis arrived with Kelley. On March 27, a Wednesday, Dee was busy in his study,

when the skryer burst in, demanding unceremoniously a copy of a certain magic

circle of letters which he professed to have had revealed to him by spirits at Oxford.

He wished to show it to a Jesuit priest with whom he had made friends. He

protested he would quit the company of the spirits with whom they had recently

dealt and return to his former associates — the evil set. Dee said he had no leisure

to look for the paper now, he was writing letters of importance, and in a week’s time

or when able, he would see it was found. This of course was irritating. Kelley

stormed and raged, said the old man should not stir his foot from the room till it

had been produced, and was about to lock up the door when Dee caught him by the

shoulders, “calling aloud to my folks. They came in all, and my wife, and so

afterwards by degrees his fury assuaged, and my folks, my wife and his, went away,

and after he had sitten two or three hours with me, he saw on my head, as I sat?writing, Michael stand with a sword, who willed him to speak, which he did forbear

to do above a quarter of an hour.”

Kelley, like a spoilt child, demanded of Michael if he should have his circle of

letters. The angel addressed him then in a passage of exceeding beauty, seeming to

scorch and wither the promptings of the skryer’s evil nature, while wrestling at the

same time with all the powers of darkness for his soul: —

“O Jehovah, whose look is more terrible to thy angels than all the fires thou

hast created,...wilt thou suffer one man to be carried away, to the dishonouring and

treading under foot of thee and thy light, of thee and thy truth? Can one man be

dearer unto thee thanthe whole world was? Shall the heavens be thrown headlong

down, and he go uncorrected?”

He intimates to the partners that their work and calling is greater than

honour, money, pride and jewels. As it is great, so must their temptation be great.

“Therefore God has framed one of you as a stiffe-made Ashe, to bind up the

continuance of his work, and to be free from yielding unto Satan.”

As for the other, Michael promises Kelley that no evil spirit shall visibly

show himself unto him any more as long as he is in the flesh.

“Whosoever therefore appeareth hereafter is of good.”

Thus begins to yawn before the pair the most dangerous pitfall of all. Pride

and confidence in the perfect intuition of God’s will has led many a good and holy

man astray. Soon even the stiff-made ash is to arrive at the pitch of believing that

their teachers cannot err, and then comes a terrible downfall. Michael in an

exquisite little parable bids them cleave fast together. And again it is clear why the

elder man, the seeker after hidden knowledge, the pure-minded and gentle-hearted

old mathematician and astrologer, though torn in pieces with his partner’s wild

outbursts, his notorious cupidity, impatience, and evil living, yearned over him and

his rebellious youth as a mother over her child. Like Michael, he seems involved

in a prolonged struggle for the rescue of his soul from the demons in whose power

he devoutly believed.


“A wood grew up, and the trees were young, and lo! there arose a great

Tempest from the North, and the Seas threw out the air that had subtilly stolen

himself into them. And the winds were great. And behold there was one Tree

which was older than the rest, and had grown longer than that which shot up by

him. This Tree could not be moved with the wind, but the Tree that was young was

moved to and from with the wind, and strook himself oftentimes upon the stiff-set

tree. The Forrester came and beheld, and said within himself, `The force of this

wind is great. See this young Tree beateth himself in pieces against the greater. I

will go home, and will bring my ground instruments, and will eradicate him, and I

will place him farther off. Then if the winds come, he shall have room to move.’?But when he came home, the Lord of the Wood seeing him in a readiness with his

Mattock and his spade, asked him of his goings, which told the thing in order unto

his Master. But lo! his Master rebuked him, and he said thus: `When the winds are

not, they increase, they are not hurtful one to the other. Suffer them therefore.

When the young Tree taketh roots, and shall look up unto some years, his roots

shall link themselves with and under the roots of the greater. Then, though the

winds come, they shall not be hurtful one to another, but shall stand so much the

more fast, by how much the more they are wrapped together; yea, when the old tree

withereth, he shall be a strength unto him, and shall add unto his age as much as he

hath added unto his youth.’

“And he ceased to dig.

“Be not you therefore haled in sunder, neither be you offended one at

another. Peradventure Reason would set you aside. But God will not. Behold, if

you break the yoke that you are in and runne astray, he that erreth shall perish,

even so shall he that standeth also be desolate. Love therefore one another, and

comfort one another, for he that comforteth his brother comforteth himself....Let

youth yield to ripe years...You have vowed that oneof you do nothing without the

other’s counsel, but you shall not be two counsellors. Let the Doer occupie the

superiority. The Seer, let him see and look after the doings of that he seeth, for you

are but one body in this work.”

In April, Dee and Kelley returned to Cracow. As they were nearing the city

they saw a great whirlwind wreathing up the dust and shooting forward in a

southerly direction. They found their house let under them to a “forced-in tenant,”

but as Dee had brought his keys, he effected an entrance, and secured at least a

bedstead. By the aid of his lawyer, Mr. Tebaldo, “an ancient practitioner in Polish

causes,” he obtained a decree against his landlord that without six months’ notice he

could not be ejected. They took up their abode in the College of Nyepolonize. Laski

now joined them in Cracow, and took Dee on May 23 to an audience of King

Stephan. Stephan was seated by the south window of his principal audience and

banqueting chamber, looking out upon the beautiful new gardens that he was then

making. Polite speeches of greeting in Latin passed between the two, but there was

scant time for more before the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Secretary, with others,

came in, bringing Bills for the King to read and sign. Stephan had small time to

spare for visionary alchemists. His very glorious reign was crowded with great

achievements. Though a strong Catholic himself, he respected the liberties of his

Protestant subjects, won back the Russian provinces for Poland, reformed the

universities and established the Jesuits in educational seminaries, and protected the

Jews. He died very suddenly about a year after Dee’s third interview with him. Dee

has the following very valuable note of his death, entered in the diary a few weeks

after his arrival at Trebona Castle in 1586: “December 11, Stephan Poloniensis obiit:

natus anno 1530, die 13 Januarii, hora quarta mane min 25, in Transylvania. Obiit

hora secunda post medium noctem, ut intellexi ex literis Dni Lasky, receptis die 29

per Alexandrum.”

Dee also visited Dr. Hannibal (Annibaldus), the famous divine, and discussed

with him his commentaries on Latin authors- -Hermes Trismegistus and

Mandellus. He partook of the Communion at the Bernardine convent where the

Doctor was a professor. Three times within Easter week did he communicate, “that?in all manner of wayes I might have a clean and quiet conscience.” On “Easter

Monday, very devoutly, in St. Stephan’s Church, E.K. received the Communion, to

my unspeakable gladness and content, being a thing so long and earnestly required

and urged of him by our spiritual good friends.” As Dee wrote to Walsingham,

“Saul had become a Paul.”

It was a very short interlude. For Laski had not yet paid him the “money long

since due,” and Kelley once more vows he will leave, for the “actions are

unsuccessful and are to be cut off.” Laski was again admitted to the sittings, and

King Stephan granted them another interview. Laski urged the King to take the two

alchemists into his service and give them “a yearly maintenance.” In obedience to

his instructors, Dee promises to make the philosopher’s stone, if the King will bear

the charge. He does not profess that he can, but he believes the angels will teach

him the secret. Stephan was not so sanguine. In the King’s private chamber, a

sitting was held, with the crystal set before him, but he remained unconvinced. He

gave no encouragement, and in August the pair, hopeless of patronage from Poland,

returned to Prague, where Jane and Joan Kelley, the children and the servants, had

been left under Edmond Hilton’s care.

An anglicised Italian pervert, Francisco Pucci, now appeared upon the scenes

and was admitted to the sittings at the shew- stone. Pucci had been a Lyons

merchant, but had “laid aside his trade to study sacred letters,” and become a

theological disputant of the current type. Professing himself a Protestant, he came to

Oxford to study, graduated M.A. in 1574, and in London, Basle, Antwerp, and other

places, became an open and notorious writer and champion against the Church

which he had abjured. He had followed Socinus to Cracow, and had noisily opposed

the Jesuits there. Soon after he recanted, became a Romish priest and secretary to a

cardinal in Rome, where he died in 1606, and was buried in the Church of San

Onofrio on the Janiculum.

On his information it appears that three copies of Dee’s manuscripts were

burned in Prague, April 10, 1586. These were the Book of Enoch, the Forty-eight

Keys of the Angels (Claves Angelicae) and the Liber Scientioe Auxilii et Victoria

Terrestris, works which had been written down from the spirit revelations since the

partnership with Kelley had commenced. The books burned were not of course the

originals, the two first of which still exist. Of the Book of Enoch there are three

copies, one made by Kelley, a remarkable tribute to the mechanical skill in

draughtsmanship, the extraordinary application and ability, of this very versatile

personage. It contains hundreds of diagrams of figures, round or rectangular in

shape, composed of an infinite number of minute squares each containing a letter or

figure. These letters occur in every possible combination and order, some reading

straight across the page, others diagonally, and so on. Dee gives an extraordinary

story of the restoration on April 30 of the books said to have been burned, by a man

like a gardener, invisible to himself, to Joan Kelley, and to all in the garden at the

time, save Kelley. The gardener placed them under an almond tree in Carpio’s

vineyard, on a sloping bank between the banqueting house and the “cliff side.”

Trickery of Kelley’s, no doubt.

The feeling against these foreign adventurers grew strong in the city. Sixtus

V., who had succeeded as Pope, issued a Papal edict, dated May 29, 1586, banishing

Dee and Kelley from Prague within six days. It seemed to trouble them very little,

for Dee was already away on a visit to a new patron, William Ursinus, Count?Rosenberg, at his country seat on the Moldau. From thence he went to see some

glass works at Volkanau, about twelve miles north of the city; then he proceeded to

Leipsic in time for the fair on May 11. There he met Lawrence Overton, an English

merchant to whom Jane Dee had given kind attention and hospitality when he had

fallen ill in her house a year before. Overton had returned from England, where he

had seen Edmond Hilton, sent in November with letters to the Queen, Sir Francis

Walsingham, and others. Hilton was expected back shortly. Overton was on the

point of returning to England, and by him another letter to the Secretary was


Dee’s letters to Walsingham, with their veiled allusions to secret affairs, form

one of the grounds upon which the supposition has been based that he was

employed by the Queen’s minister as a secret spy and diplomatic agent abroad, and

that his cabalistic diagrams contained a cipher. An elaborate theory was constructed

to support this contention.

From this letter it is evident that Dee wishes his friends in England to believe

that he and his partner have already found the hidden secret, but he wraps his

words in due mystery, and it is impossible to say exactly when Kelley first professed

to have made, and when he induced his partner to believe that he actually had

made, the gold on which his heart was set. That Dee’s heart was equally fixed on the

discovery is indisputable, but from what a different cause!

“To ye Rt. Hon ble. S r. Fr. Walsingham Knt, her most excellent Ma ties.

Principal Secretary my singular good Fr d. and Patron with speed.

“Right Honorable Sir,

“Albeit I have almost in vain come a hundred miles (from Prague to this

Leipsic Mart) hoping either to meet my servant there with answer to my former

letters, sent in November last to her Majesty (when also I wrote unto your honour

and others). And so with speed from this Leipsick to have sent again most speedily,

as occasion should have served. and now I find neither servant neither letter from

him, neither word of mouth, yet all this notwithstanding; and whatsoever the

hindrance or delay hereof may be (whether the keeping back of my letters from her

her Majesty, or the manifold and important most weighty affairs public hindring or

delaying her Majesty’s most gracious discreet and wise resolution herein. Or what

other occasion else hath and doth cause this long and wonderful delay of answer

receiving); all this notwithstanding, I thought good before I set up my coach to write,

and most humbly to salute your honour very faithfully, dutifully and sincerely,

with great and the same good will that my Letter some years since written to your

Honour (but then a stumbling block unto your Honour and others for the

strangeness of the phrases therein) doth pretend. So it is, right Honorable, that the

merciful providence of the Highest, declared in his great and abundant graces upon

me, and mine, is so wonderful and mighty, that very few, unless they be present

witnesses, can believe the same. Therefore how hard they are to be believed there,

where all my life and doings were construed to a contrary sense, and processe of

death contrived and decreed against the Innocent, who cannot easily judge?

“I am forced to be brief. That which England suspected, was also here, for

these two years almost, secretly in doubt, in question, in consultation, Imperial and

Royal, by Honourable Espies; fawning about me and by others discoursed upon,?pryed and peered into. And at length both the chief Romish power and Imperial

dignity are brought to that point resolutely that partly they are sorry of their so late

reclaiming their erroneous judgment against us and of us, and seek means to deal

with us so as we might favour both the one and the other; and partly to Rome is

sent, for as great authority and power as can be devised; and likewise here all other

means and wayes contrived, how by force or for feare they may make us glad to

follow their humours. But all in vain, for force human we fear not, as plainly and

often I have to the Princes declared. And otherwise than in pure verity and

godlinesse we will not favour any (my words may seem very marvellous in your

Honours ears, but mark the end, we have had, and shall have, to deal with no

babes). I have full oft, and upon many of their requests and questions, referred

myself to her Majesties answer thus in vain expected. Nuncius Apostolicus

Germanicus Malaspina, after his year’s suit to be acquainted with me, at length had

such his answer that he is gone to Rome with a flea in his eare, that disquieteth him

and terrifieth the whole state Romish and Jesuitical. Secretly they threaten us

violent death, and openly they fawn upon us. We know the Sting of Envy and the

fury of fear in tyrannical minds, what desperate attempts they have and do often

undertake. But the God of Heaven and Earth is our Light, Leader and Defender. To

the World’s end, his mercies upon us will breed his praises Honour and glory. Thus

much, very rhapsodically yet faithfully, tanquam dictum sapienti, I thought good to

commit to the safe and speedy conveyance of a young merchant here called

Lawrence Overton, which if it come to your Honours hand before my Servant have

left his despatch, I may by your honor be advertised. Your Honour is sufficient from

her Majesty to deal and proceed with me, if it be thought food. But if you make a

Council Table Case of it, Quot homines, tot sententioe. And my Commission from

above is not so large: Qui potest capere, capiat.”

The almost apostolical flavour which Dee permits himself to impart to some

of this letter, owing to the greatness of his believed mission, shows to what a height

of “rhapsodical” fervours his spirit had now attained. It is still more emphasised in

the concluding passage, which begins, however, very practically, with an anxious

thought cast back to his English possessions. His desire that Thomas Digges, the

eminent mathematician to whom his calculations for the reformed calendar had

been submitted, should be sent over to inspect their doings, was curious, but it

shows that he, at any rate, wished to deal openly and conceal nothing. He ends thus:

“Sir, I trust I shall have Justice, for my house library, goods and Revenues, etc.

Do not you disdain, neither fear to bear favour unto your poor innocent neighbour.

If you send unto me Master Thomas Digges, in her Majestie’s behalf, his faithfulness

to her Majesty and my well liking of the man, shall bring forth some piece of good

service. But her Majesty had been better to have spent or given away in alms, a

Million of gold, than to have lost some opportunities past. No human reason can

limit or determine God his marvellous means of proceeding with us. He hath

made of Saul (E.K.) a Paul, but yet now and then visited with a pang of human

frailty. The Almighty bless her Majestie both in this World and eternally; and

inspire your heart iwth some conceiving of his merciful purposes, yet not utterly cut

off from her Majesty to enjoy.?From Leipsic this 14 of May, 1586,

at Peter Hans Swarts house.

Your Honours faithful welwisher to use and command for the

honour of God and her Majesties best service,

“John Dee.”

On being ejected from Prague, Dee removed his family and goods to Erfurt,

but in spite of the influence of Dr. Curtius, and of a friend of Rosenberg, he was not

allowed to hire a house there, for the Italian was before him. Pucci called on Dee

after supper, and held out hopes that he might obtain permission for their return to

Prague, for the new Nuncio, the Bishop of Piacenza, was inclined to a more

favourable view than Malaspina. Pucci protested that they were only to be

examined and if found heretical to be sent to Rome. He brought an invitation for

their return, if they would promise not to exercise magical arts. Dee, who was

starting early next morning to look at a house at Saalfield, wherein to settle his

exiled family, bade Kelley copy it and rode off. On the ride he thought it over. Pucci

he had never liked, neither had jane. “His household behaviour was not acceptable

to our wives and family. He had blabbed our secrets without our leave. He was

unquiet in disputation.” Dee summed up the man as a spy, the letter as a bait, and

set to work to devise a way of being rid of him “by quiet and honest meanes.” He

was absent two or three days, but the Italian was still there when he returned, urging

them to go to Rome. Dee rebuked him for curiosity and interference, and accused

him of conspiring against them; he, a mere probationer and not yet owned of the

spirits (who in fact had said he was “leprous” and should be “cut off”), to presume

an equal authority with them in their revelations!

Dee wrote a dignified letter to the Nuncio, and despatched it by the Italian,

who was to receive from John Carpio, a wealthy neighbour and friend of theirs in

Prague, a sum of fifty dollars for his expenses. The travellers went on to Cassel and

to Gotha, but it was not long before a permanent asylum offered for the exiles. Their

new patron, Count Rosenberg, was a friend worth having, for he was all-powerful

with Rudolph; he was Viceroy of Bohemia and a Knight of the Golden Fleece. His

influence and protection were now to be at the Englishmen’s disposal. On August 8,

Rosenberg obtained from the Emperor a partial revocation of the decree against

them, since they were permitted by it to reside freely in any of his lordship’s towns,

cities or castles. They settled on September 14, 1586, at Tribau or Trebona, in

Southern Bohemia, and here for about two years their wanderings came to an end.

Dee resumed the writing of his private diary, in which he had made no entry

for three years, the last event recorded there being the departure of the family from

Mortlake just three years before, on September 21, 1583. He opened a new volume,

an Ephemerides Coelestium, calculated for the years 1581-1620, by Joh. Antonius

Maginus, printed in Venice, 1582. The first entry made in it was Michael’s birth at

Prague on February 12, 1586; the next was their arrival at Trebona (for it will be more

convenient to follow Dee’s latinised version of the name).

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------


“Welcome the sour cup of prosperity!

Affliction may one day smile again: and until then,

Sit down, sorrow.”

— Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost

Tribau, or Wittingau, the Trebona or our story, is a small village lying in the

beautiful undulating scenery of the Ludnitz, a small tributary of the river Moldau.

It is a few miles from Neuhaus and Weseli, not many from the town of Budweis, on

the Upper Moldau, in Southern Bohemia.

In 1586 it consisted of little beside the castle, a Rathhaus, quarters for a small

garrison, and a cluster of dwellings where Dee tells a fire broke out on Whit Sunday,

1585, and destroyed several houses. The castle was oneof Rosenberg’s many

residences in Bohemia, and apparently a favourite one. the Viceroy was now just

over fifty (he was born on March 10, 1535); he married about this time, and his wife

constantly accompanied him on his visits to Trebona. They had also another castle

at Neuhaus, beside a residence with beautiful gardens bordering the Moldau

opposite Prague. They were frequently on the wing, flitting from Krumau to

Vienna and from Vienna back to Prague. He welcomed the English travellers

himself at Trebona, assigned them their rooms, and promised them all that heart

could desire.

The actions, which had long been interrupted, were now resumed in “a

goodly chapel next my chamber,” where all the “appurtenances” were set up, with

the “angelicall stone” in its frame of gold upon the table. Rosenberg had been

already admitted to the sittings, in obedience to directions received on October 14.

When the communications were made in English, Dee translated them into Latin

for his benefit. But experiments with Kelley’s powder were now all-engrossing, and

even the spirits pass for a time into the background. Kelley went off to Prague for

three weeks and was followed by Rosenberg. Dee remained with his wife and

children; after their hardships, poverty, dangerous and wandering life, poor Jane

must have been thankful for so luxurious a shelter. Visitors for Dee constantly

arrived. Among them was Dr. Victor Reinhold, the astronomer. Pucci also came

for a fortnight.

In December Dee received a very flattering invitation from the Emperor of

Russia (Feodor Ivanowich) to go and take up his residence at Moscow in the Court.

Dee’s fame as a learned astrologer and mathematician had spread to Russia; still

more was his reputation as an alchemist bruited abroad: perhaps he was already

credited with having actually made gold by projection or transmutation.

The first intimation of the Emperor’s wish was conveyed by Thomas

Simkinson, an Englishman, of Hull, commissioned by Edward Garland to go to

Brunswick or Cassel, or wherever Dee might be found, and beg him to remain there

until Garland could come from Russia. He might tell Dee that the Emperor, having

certain knowledge of his learning and wisdom, is marvellous desirous for him to

come to his country, and had given Garland a sealed letter of invitation, promising

a sum of 2,000 pounds yearly and free diet from the royal kitchen if he will come.

His charges of removing shall be paid, and he shall travel royally with 500 hourses?to convey him through the land. If he thinks the salary offered too little, Garland,

when he arrives, will assure him that if he asks as much more, he shall have it.

The “Lord Protector,” too, Prince Boris, took Garland in his arms on his departure

and promised 1,000 roubles from his own purse beside the Emperor’s allowance.

Simkinson reached Trebona on September 18, and at once declared his

flattering errand. “On December 8 at noon, Garland came to me from the Emperor

of Moschovia, according to the articles before sent unto me by Thomas Simkinson.”

On December 17, at Trebona, Edward Garland drew up a paper repeating all the

former promises in the Emperor’s name, and signed it, with Kelley, his brother

Francis Garland, and others, as witnesses.

There is no doubt that the Emperor thought he was inviting to his Court the

man who could fill his coffers and bring glory and prestige to his name. Hakluyt

hints at it when he says the offer was made partly for his counsel about discoveries

to the North-East, partly for some other weighty occasions. Dee was no self-seeker,

or Court flatterer, although this was the fifth sovereign he says he might have

served. The offer seems never to have tempted him from his loyalty to his own

Queen. He bade Garland at once dismiss six out of the eight Russian servants he

had brought to attend them on their journey, and turned to matters more


“On 19th December, to the great gratification of Master Edward Garland and

Francis, his brother, which Edward had been sent to me with a message from the

Emperor of Muschovia, that I should come to him, E.K. made projection with his

powder in the proportion of one minim (upon an ounce and a quarter of mercury)

and produced nearly an ounce of best gold; which gold we afterwards distributed

from the crucible, and gave one to Edward.”

It is quite significant that Kelley made the gold, Kelley showed it, and Dee is

content to give him all the credit. The pangs and heartburnings and jealousies have

yet to come. Now he only felt that at last he was victorious in his long quest. He

was on the crest of the wave. His hour had come.

How the wonderful trick was done, Kelley could best describe.

Kelley was now constantly riding to Prague, or making longer expeditions to

Poland, for he still had hopes of getting more money from Laski. By March his hope

seems to have been realised, for Dee notes that Kelley paid him about 500 ducats in

two or more sums (about 233 pounds). This plenitude of money of course

encouraged the idea abroad that they were actually making it. When he returned

from Prague on January 18, Kelley brought a handsome present from Rosenberg to

Jane Dee, in the shape of a beautiful jewelled chain, the value of which was

“esteemed at 300 duckettes,” says Dee, “200 the juell stones and 100 the gold.” In

three days Kelley had posted off again to Prague, to join Rosenberg at his house in

the scity. This time he took with him his brother Thomas, Francis Garland, and a

Bohemian servant, Ferdinand Hernyck. No doubt he was pursuing his experiments

for the “multiplying” of gold in the city, away from Dee.

Kelley’s letter to Dee announcing this arrival of his in Prague is the only

communication between this strange pair of partners that seems to have survived.

It shows that erratic and wayward creature in a gentle and even affectionate light,

and although its pious protestations are obviously overdone, it pictures for us quite?vividly the relations between the two, and partly accounts for the strength of the tie

that bound Dee to his intractable pupil, soon to become his master. For whle Dee

laboured laboriously and scientifically with his alchemical compounds, Kelley at

one bound overleaped the chasm and by some process best known to himself

professed to have arrived at the goal.

To Dee’s single-hearted nature such success was magnificent, wonderful. He

began forthwith to treat his quondam skryer with added respect; the expression

“Dominus Kelley” creeps once into the diary; and Kelley grew arrogant and

overbearing. For the moment, however, he is all for friendship and respect.

“Prage. 1587. 25 Januarii.” [This in Dee’s hand.] (addressed) “To the Right

Worshipful and his assured friend Mr. John Dee Esquire, give these. Magnifico

Domino, Domino Dee.

“Sir. My hearty commendations unto you, desiring your health as my own;

my Lord was exceeding glad of your Letters, and said, `Now I see he loveth me,’ and

truly as far as I perceive he loveth us heartily. This Sunday in the Name of the

Blessed Trinity I begin my journey [to Poland], wherein I commend me unto your

prayers, desiring the Almighty to send his fortitude with me. I commend me unto

Mrs. Dee a thousand times, and unto your little babes: wishing myself rather

amongst you than elsewhere. I will by God’s grace about twenty days hence return

in the mean season all comfort and joy be amongst you.

“Your assured and immoveable friend


When this letter reached Trebona, Dee had gone riding with two horsemen of

the city of Neuhaus, hoping to meet Rosenberg, who he thought would return that

way from Vienna to Prague. Mrs. Dee at once despatched the servant Ludovic to

meet his master. So Dee received Kelley’s affectionate letter “in the highway,

without Platz,” a village about half-way to Neuhaus. Ludovic carried also a little

note from Jane to her husband. It is the only letter of hers we have, but it confirms

all that we suspect. We know her to have been a well-educated, well-read woman;

the writing is strong and clear; and did not Francis Pucci describe her as a learned

woman, “lectissima femina”? She must also have been an extraordinarily capable

one to have controlled and managed her large household of children, assistants,

apprentices, servants and miscellaneous visitors, often in the absence of her

husband, and in a foreign land, constantly moving on from place to place in this

nomadic life they led. Dee has a charming name for her. Somewhere in a letter he

speaks of “my payneful Jane.” Full of pains she must indeed have been, the model

wife for an elderly, incomprehensible husband, using her intellectual powers to

accommodate her family, while the learned man purused his angelic visions and

his alchemical experiments unhampered. Above all things she must have been a

peacemaker, hot and hasty although she sometimes was. Here is the letter to the

husband who had only left her that morning: —

“Swethart. I commend me unto you, hoping in God that you ar in good

health as I, and my children, with all my household, am here, I prayse God for it. I

have non other matter to write unto you at this time.”?There is a capable and managing sound about “my” children and “my”

household, which leads one to wonder what this practical housewife thought of all

the angelic promises which were never kept or performed. At the outset of the

mysterious Kelley doings she was, we know, in her impetuous way, annoyed, angry,

probably contemptuous, but by this time she perhaps had grown either to believe in

them or tolerantly to acquiesce. She was only thirty- two, yet she had lived through

many strange experiences and was soon to be put to the strongest test possible to a


By April Kelley was once more settled as part of the household, and onthe 4th

the crystal gazing was resumed. He professed to hear instructions to Rosenberg,

who was present, to build a commonwealth, render tribute to Rudolph, and he shall

be Duke of Brandenburg. To himself things are said he is not reluctant to hear. We

have seen how almost immediately after his marriage he took a violent dislike to

his wife. In the four years, it seems, he had reproached her for giving him no child.

To him generation was the root principle of alchemy, and the phase of it in which

he centred his attention. It is always the marriage of the red man, copper, and the

white woman, mercury, that is to tinge the whole world with gold. Now a voice

tells him why he is barren. Not because of his reckless, disordered life, but because

she was of his own choosing — the wrong woman! Therefore he is to be seedless

and fruitless for ever. Had it not been for the Dees’ kindness to her, and especially

Jane’s, poor neglected Joan Kelley would have had but a sorry time. She was only

twenty-four; lively and docile, she seemed to please everyone but her husband.

Pucci, with perhaps a little flattery, calls her “rarum exemplum juvenilis sanctitatis,

castitatis, atque omnium virtutem.” If she had not all the virtues, she at least had

several. Her brother, Edmund Cooper, and another friend so loved her that they

came over from England a year later on purpose to see if she and her husband could

not be more reconciled.

Kelley had been more unsettled than ever, discontented with his wife, with

his calling, its results, and above all with his position and his poverty. What was a

pittance of fity pounds a year to a man in constant intercourse with princes and

nobles, with credulous fools possessed with dreams of gold? The same qualities that

attracted Dee were equally magnetic with others. Laski loved him; Edward Dyer

deserted his old friend Dee for this newcomer, a nobody. He had made himself

invaluable to Rosenberg, who seems to have had implicit faith in his powers.

Rosenberg induces the Emperor to employ him. Had he not already found the

secret of projection? Was he not the possessor of the magic powder which waited

only for the opportunity to be transformed into countless heaps of ducats? Only

money was wanting, and that he could certainly get. But he must first be released

from this galling position of medium. He told Dee that all through this Lent he had

prayed once a day at least that he might “no more have dealing to skry.” At Easter-time

he did receive a promise to be set free from the crystal gazing, as he desired, but

his wish for freedom was not exactly approved by the angelic ministers.

“Is it a burthen unto thee to be comforted from above? O foolish man! By

how much the heavens excel the earth, by so much doth the gift that is given thee

excel all earthly treasure. Notwithstanding, thou shalt not at any time hereafter be

constrained to see the judgment of the Highest, or to hear the voices of heaven, for

thou art a stumbling block to many....And the power which is given thee of seeing?shall be diminished in thee, and shall dwell upon the first begotten son of him that

sitteth by thee.”

The selection of a child as Kelley’s successor seems not to have been

altogether unexpected. It had been hinted in Prague a year before that a boy would

serve for the office; but that the choice would fall upon Dee’s own son must have

come as a dreadful surprise, at any rate to his mother. No doubt the old man

regarded it as a mark of special heavenly honour.

It is more likely that Jane, with her practical mind, regarded the change of

medium with anything but satisfaction. Arthur was now seven and three quarters

of a year old, a clever child, already well grounded in Latin, but far too tender in

years and disposition to be made the subject of any psychological experiments.

Fortunately for him, his skrying was a dismal failure, although it seems to have

bent his childish mind towards the occultism he followed in after-life.

Distinguished physician as he afterwards become, both at home and in the service of

the Emperor of Russia, he was a true son of his father, and maintained to the end of

his life a belief in alchemy and transmutation which nothing could shake.

Kelley was desired to initiate the child.

“I thereupon thinking that E.K. would, should or best could, instruct and

direct the childe in that exercise, did alwayes await that E.K. would of himself call

the boy to that exercise with him; and so much the rather because he said that he

was very glad now that he should have a Witness of the things shewed and declared

by spiritual creatures: And that he would be more willing to do what should be so

enjoyned to him to do, than if only he himself did see. But when E.K. said to me

that I should exercise the child and not he, and that he would not, I thereupon

appointed with myself to bring the childe to the place, and to offer him, and present

him to the service of Seeing and Skrying from God and by God’s assignment.”

Then Dee drew up a petition to put in the child’s mouth that he might be “a

true and perfect seer, Hearer, Declarer and Witness of such things as might be

revealed to him either immediately or mediately by the angels.” Three times a day

for three days he was to offer this prayer thrice over, while seated at the stone. The

poor child happily beheld in the magic crystal nothing more than dots and pricks,

letters and lines, and “a young man in a white leathern doublet and a grey cloke,

like hans of Gloats, his cloak,” of all which even his father could make little. On the

fourth day came Kelley, to see how Arthur and his skrying progressed. But still the

child saw nothing. Then Kelley applied himself to skry as usual. Looking from the

gallery window, he had already without any crystal seen Il and Madimi, also Uriel,

who justifies their words. What they command he hesitates to say. Next day he is

again the percipient; the result is the same. At length, with feigned reluctance, he

tells Dee of a vision of strange and subversive portent. It is so repugnant to him

that he can hardly impart it. Madimi, throwing aside all her garments, mysteriously

bids them participate in all things one with another. Kelley affects not to

understand, but after more hesitation expounds to Dee that the sharing is to be in

everything, even of their wives. All things are to be in common between them.

Dee, to whom Madimi is invisible, though he hears her voice, fiercely

rebukes her: “Such words are unmeet for any godly creature to use. Are the?commandments of God to be broken?” This participation, he insists to Kelley, can

be meant only in a Christian and godly sense. Kelley construes the injunction very

differently, but he affects a chaste horror and swears for the hundredth time that he

will deal no more with the spirits.

Then Madimi, with scathing irony, addresses them both as “fools, and of little

understanding.” Not content to be hearers, would they be “Lords, Gods, judgers of

the heavens”? She turns away. “Your own reason riseth up against my wisdom.

Behold, you are free. Do that which most pleaseth you.”

It is a comfort to learn that the child Arthur had all this time fallen down “in

a swound.” He was indeed very ill for some time afterwards, and small wonder.

Dee protested and argued with Kelley and with Madimi. He was consumed

with grief and amazement that good angels could propound “so hard and unpure a

doctrine.” Had he not offered his very soul “as a pawn to discharge E.K. his

crediting of them to the good and faithful ministers of Almighty God”? Was it not

his life’s work to withdraw Kelley from any kind of association with the bad spirits

who had frequented him before he came to Mortlake?

Until two in the morning of this April 18, 1587, the pair sat up arguing,

talking, praying. Kelley held forth about a little spirit, Ben, who had that day

appeared to him in his laboratory alone, and had shown him how to distil oil from

spirit of wine “over a retort in two silver dishes whelmed one upon another, with a

hole through the middle and a sponge between them, in which the oil would

remain.” Ben had foretold Elizabeth’s death in July (she lived for sixteen years), the

death of the King of Spain and the Pope; in fact, a general moribundity of

sovereigns. Francis Garland was a spy sent by Burleigh to see what they were doing;

Rosenberg would be shortly poisoned; famine and bloodshed would cover the land.

Many other dire calamities would happen if they were not conformable to the voice;

chief of all, the virtue should be taken from Kelley’s precious powder; it would be

rendered unprofitable, and he would become a beggar. It was Ben, he says, who had

brought him his powder.

Dee replied that he had found so much halting and untruth in Kelley’s

reports of actions when he was not present, that he would believe nothing save

what by better trial he found to be true. But at last his resistance seemed to be

overridden, and in the chill of the early morning he went to bed, heavy at heart in

spite of his delusion. His poor wife was lying awake, wondering what turn their ill-starred

fortunes were next to take.

“`Jane,’ I said, `I can see that there is no other remedy, but as hath been said of

our cross-matching, so it must needs be done.’“

Poor Mrs. Dee, shocked and horrified, fell a-weeping and trembling for a full

quarter of an hour, then burst into a fury of anger. At last she implored her

husband never to leave her. “I trust,” said she, “that though I give myselfe thus to

be used, that God will turn me into a stone before he would suffer me in my

obedience to receive any shame or inconvenience.” She would eat neither fish nor

flesh, she vowed, until this action, so contrary to the wholesome law of God, and so

different from former actions, which had often comforted her; was confirmed. Both

the indignant women demanded a repetition of the action.?In obedience to Raphael’s counsel, a solemn pact or covenant was humbly

drawn up by Dee on the 21st, and signed by these four strange partners in delusion.

It promised blind obedience, with secrecy upon pain of death to any of the four. It

deprecated all intention of impurity and guilt. Its subscribers promise to captivate

and tread under foot all human timorous doubting that the true original power and

authority of sins releasing or discharging is from the Creator. True Christian charity

spiritual, perfect friendship and matrimonial liberty between the four is vowed, and

they beseech that this “last mystical admonishment” be not imputed to them for

rashness, presumption, or wanton lust.

Dee’s hand is unmistakable in the document. He regarded the new

development apparently only as a symbol of further spiritual union, and a means of

obtaining a closer entrance into the secrets of all knowledge. It was no matter to

him, he says, if the women were imperfectly obedient. “If it offend not God, it

offended not mee, and I pray God it did not offend him.”

Kelley drew up a paper the day after Dee’s, washing his hands of the whole

matter, protesting that he did not believe so damnable a doctrine would be

commanded, recounting his warnings to his worshipful Master Dee, and so on. On

May 6 Dee spread his covenant, a document of the most truly devout character,

before the holy south table in the chapel of the castle, with many prayers for divine

guidance. The next day Kelley obtained the paper, cut it in pieces and destroyed it,

made away with one of the crystals (which was found again under Mrs. Dee’s

pillow), and threatened to depart elsewhere with John Carpio. Coldness and

jealousy fell between the pair.

So ended the whole extraordinary episode of the Talbot- Kelley spiritualistic

revelations. Madimi appeared for the last time on May 23. Then the Liber

Mysteriorum is closed. For twenty years there are no more records of angels’ visits.

And the few pages that remain are written in a halting hand in Dee’s stricken old

age, when he was seldom visited by his unseen friends, badly though he needed

their comfort. No other medium like Kelley was ever found. One can only wonder

whether, after so rude an awakening, even Dee would have implicitly trusted

anyone again. These five years with the skryer had filled him to the brim with a

consciousness of some power beyond his wit to control, a power amazing in its

ingenuity to torture him. He had asked Madimi piteously if he should suffer any

more of these pangs. He knew now that he would. Yet, in spite of all, these

marvellous doings had brought him hours of exquisite happiness, moments when

he had seemed lost in the unity of the combined wisdom of the ages, which to him

meant — God.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“If all you boast of your great art be true,

Sure willing poverty lives most in you.”

— Ben Jonson, Epigram to Alchymists.

Dee now resumed diligently his writing in the other diary, which becomes a

strange medly of daily afairs small and great. He sent Francis Garland to England?with another letter to Walsingham, dated June 17, begging him to continue his

opinion of Dee’s fidelity towards Her Majesty and the realm. It would be useless as

yet to render any account of commodity to them or their country reaped by this

peregrination, “but I trust more will be glad of our coming home than were sorry of

our going abroad.” He has not heard from Mr. Justice Young since May

twelvemonth, but hopes his pitiful case of the books and other injuries endured

have, by Walsingham’s favour, had some redress. There is no news of importance

but the Polish King’s election, “the mysteries whereof, by the time this bearer

reaches England, will be known to you.” “Remember me to your good lady and to

your daughter Lady Sidney.” Money was now plentiful enough, and on September

1 Dee covenanted with John Basset (who had arrived at Trebona on August 20) “to

teach the children the Latin tong, and I do give him seven ducats by the quarter, and

the term to begyne this day; and so I gave him presently seven ducketts of Hungary

in gold, before my wife. God spede his work.” Arthur, who was just over eight, was

gettingon with his “grammar”; Katherine was six. Thus was another element

introduced into the oddly assorted household, and on September 4 Dee writes:

“Basset his hurly burly with T. Kelley.” Payments to Basset were entered regularly

each quarter until August following, when the tutor, whose real name seems to

have been Edward Whitlock, went off to Budweis on pretence of buying “cullors” —

perhaps for painting, and never returned.

Various visitors came to Trebona, among them Pucci, bringing Christian

Francke, the author of some books written against the Jesuits. Roseberg returned to

Trebona, and finding a constraint existing n the relations of the household, set

himself to reconcile them. “July 19th. a certayn kind of recommendation between

our wives. Next day som relenting of E.K., also by my Lord’s entrety.” Rosenberg

came and went frequently, so did his wife. Lord Biberstein, a friend of theirs, came

to make Dee’s acquaintance.

Alchemical experiments were being prosecuted with vigour. It was Dee’s

turn to make something prized, even if it were not gold. “Sept. 28th. I delivered to

Mr. Ed. Kelley (ernestly requiring it as his part) the half of all the animall which was

made. It is to weigh 20 ounces; he wayed it himself in my chamber. He bought his

weights purposely for it. My Lord had spoken to me before for some, but Mr. Kelley

had not spoken.” Secrecy being necessary, he is evidently using a word of hidden


Kelley was constantly riding to Prague, and in October, while he was away,

“John Carpio [who had joined them at Trebona] did begyn to make furnaces over

the gate. He used of my rownd bricks, and for the yern pot was contented now to

use the lesser bricks, 60 to make a furnace.” Experiments on a large scale were about

to be begun, and when Kelley returned a week later, terribilis expostulatio, etc., is the

entry under his name. Edmond Hilton returned from England, and a month later

Francis Garland, bringing letters from Edward Dyer. He brought also letters from

Court advising their return home. People in the neighbourhood were beginning to

talk about the strange doings of the foreigners in the Castle, and the Captain Critzin

of the Guard disdained to come to a wedding supper inthe Rathhaus because Dee

and Kelley were to be present. The household grew larger and larger. Thomas

Kelley was married in June. In December, “Mr. John Carpio went towards Prague to

marry the maiden he had trubbled; for the Emperor’s Majestie, by my Lord

Rosenberg’s means, had so ordered the matter.” He was absent till February 16, and?in April brought his wife. Dee turned back to his books of tables, figures and

symbols. “The 30 and 31 day I began to frame myself toward the practice of the

Heptagonos of my 4th boke. God prosper my purpose.” Kelley, on the other hand,

was absorbed in alchemical studies. Perhaps the secret he had once professed to

have captured had again eluded him.

“Dec. 12 afternone somewhat. Mr. Ed. Keley his lamp overthrow, the spirit of

wyne being spent to[o] nere, and the glas being not stayed with buks abowt it, as it

was wont to be; and the same glas so flitting on one side, the spirit ws spilled out,

and burnt all that was on the table where it stood, lynnen and written books — as

the bok of Zacharius withthe Alkanor that I translated out of French for some by

spirituall could not [?]; Rowlaschy his third boke of waters philosophicall; the boke

called Angelicum opus, all in pictures of the work from the beginning to the end;

the copy of the man of Budwise Conclusions for the Transmutation of metalls, and

40 leaves in 40, intitled, Extractiones Dunstani, which he himself extracted and

noted out of Dunstan his boke, and the very bok of Dunstan was but cast on the bed

hard by from the table.”

The “very bok of Dunstan” was no doubt a copy of the manuscript

Tractatus...de lapide philosophorum, which was formerly ascribed to the Saint of

Glastonbury. It was the constant companion of these two alchemists, held in awe

and great esteem, as we see by Dee’s words above.

In his new liberation from crystal gazing, Kelley became a changed and

haughty being. He was established in his own apartments, and when he felt weary

his former master was now summoned imperiously to come and amuse him! He

sends the old man a message by his brother Tomas, saying, “You study too much, it

is too late in the day to go to Cromlaw, as you intended, he wishes you to come to

pass the tyme with him at play.” Dee mildly consents: “I went after dynner and

payd, he and I against Mr. F. Garland and Mr. Rob., tyll supper tyme in his dyning

rome, and after supper he came and the others, and we played there two or three

houres and frendely departed. This was then after the great and wonderful

unkindness used toward me in taking my man.” A week or two later Kelley sent for

Dee late in the evening to come to his laboratory over the gate, to see how he

distilled sericon, “according as in time past and of late he heard of me out of Riplay.

God lend his heart to all charity and vertue.”

It is evident that Kelley was jealously and secretly working at his experiments

apart from Dee. He had learned much alchemy from his master and his master’s

wonderful library inthe four years, but there was still knowledge stored in chambers

of Dee’s brain of which he could not pick the lock. To enter those inner recesses had

been doubtless Kelley’s aim when he represented the spirits as bidding them share

everything with each other. But he, on his part, had no intention of sharing

anything that he discovered.

The year 1588 began badly, for the child Michael, on New Year’s Day,

“going childyshly with a sharp stick of eight inches long and a little wax cadell light

on the top of it [evidently the child was keeping Christmastide in good old German

fashion], did fall uppon the playn bords in Marie’s chamber, and the sharp point of

the stik entred through the lid of his left ey toward the corner next the nose, and so?persed through, insomuch that great abundance of blud came out under the lid, in

the very corner of the sayd ey. The hole on the outside is not bygger than a pin’s

hed; it was anoynted with St. John’s oyle. The boy slept well. God spede the rest of

the cure. The next day after, it apperid that the first towch of the stikes point was at

the very myddle of the apple of the ey, and so (by God’s mercy and favor) glanced

tothe place where it entred; with the strength of his hed and the fire of his fulness. I

may make some shew of it to the prayse of God for his mercies and protection.”

Dee of course was as skilled in medicine as any doctor of the time. He

rendered medical assistance when Thomas Kelley’s wife, Lydia, miscarried with

twin boys. He notes his own symptoms carefully: “June 19, I had a grudging of the

ague. June 22, I did evidently receive the ague and layd down. Jan. 17. The

humming in my ears began.” Another time “I was very sik uppon two or three sage

leaves eten in the morning; better suddenly at night. When I cast them up, I was


The coldness between the two became unbearable to Dee, the peacemaker, of

whom Aubrey relates that if ever any of his neighbours fell out, “he would not let

them alone until he had made them friends.” In April, he wrote to Kelley and his

wife “2 charitable letters, requiring at theyre hands mutual charity.” The same day

he made friends with Captain Critzin, and on Sunday, when Jane ws churched after

Theodore’s birth, received the Communion with her. He hears of some fresh

treachery of Pucci, and of Rosenberg’s displeasure, but all is forgotten on May 10,

when Kelley “did open the great secret to me, God be thanked!” A few days after,

“Mistris Kelley received the sacrament, and to me and my wife gave her hand in

charity, and we rushed not fromher.” The reconciliation does not seem to have

been altogether comlete. Every visitor throughout that summer, Edmund Cooper,

Joan Kelley’s brother; Mr. Thomas Southwell, his friend; Edward Dyer, Francis

Garland, and Count Rosenberg, all seem to have tried to patch up the quarrel, but

things only grew worse.

The “great secret” opened by Kelley was no doubt the professed secret of the

gold. Dee must very soon have found out the true value of this “secret,” but

apparently he continued to believe that Kelley had honestly transmuted base metal,

and was keeping the method to himself. Nothing was less likely than that he would

share his knowledge, even with the master who had taught him all he knew. The

first essential in alchemy was secrecy. It is characteristic of Dee that he seems to

have been more pained at Kelley’s want of confidence in him, than chagrined at not

knowing the secret. Of jealousy that Kelley was, or seemed to be, the successful

alchemist, there is no trace. But Kelley was gradually undermining all Dee’s

influence and friendship with Rosenberg, who was their one powerful friend. The

Viceroy of Bohemia had much influence with the Emperor. He was costantly at the

Castle or with Kelley in Prague. Kelley had stolen the old man’s best workman, and

was now turning all his friends against him. Rosenberg and Kelley were always

working in secret, while he was left outside in the cold. “September 15th, the Lord

Chancellor cam to Trebona and went away on the 17th. The rancor and

dissiumlation now evident to me, God deliver me! I was not sent for.” The pathos

of the situation is irresistible. The man of a Continental reputation, whom five

emperors had honoured, must stand aside and see his upstart pupil made much of

and set onthe high-road to fortune. But Fate was more just than she seemed, and?Dee, who clung to the honest and true way, had in the end the better lot. Not in

ease or success, truly; but who would not rather leave behind him the reputation of

a sincere man deluded than that of a deceiver, even though not unmasked? Till

then Dee says he had been “chief governor of our philosophical proceedings, but

little by little I became hindered and crossed by fine and subtle devices, laid first by

the Bohemians, somewhat by Italians, and lastly by my own countrymen.”

The strange partnership had now run its tempestuous course to the end, and

the heterogeneous colony of English men and women at Trebona was about to break

up, never all to meet again. The first to depart was Mistress Kelley, thankful, no

doubt, to disentangle herself from the web of pretences, deception and bickerings.

On October 17, “Mistress Kelley and the rest rode towards Punchartz in the

morning.” She was on her way to England, and only once thereafter does this

young woman’s name enter into our story.[ On November 23, Francis Garland and

Mr. Dyer’s servant,

Edward Rowley, who had come back a week or two earlier, left for England. Dee

sent by tham a most important letter to the Queen, also letters to Dyer, Mr. Young,

and to Edmond Hilton. News from England travelled slowly, and Dee had not long

since heard of the glorious defeat of the Spanish Armada of the previous May. The

victorious captains, Frobisher, Drake, Hawkins, were all well known to him, and

with the Admiral in chief command, Lord Howard of Effingham, he was very

familiar at Court, for his wife had been Jane’s early patron and friend. Patriot that

Dee was, yearning to get back to England, he now wrote to the Queen a letter of

congratulation (dated November 1-, 1588) upon the splendid victory of her navy. It

was couched in the graceful and fantastic terms of homage of the day, and is a

literary production well befitting a man of his reputation. The letter is reproduced

from the original. It is printed by Ellis in Letters of Eminent Men.


He speaks in it of his proposed return, and begs for a safe conduct through all

the domains of princes and potentates which lay between him and home. “Happy

are they that can perceive and so obey the pleasant call of the mightie Lady

Opportunitie.” The answer, of course, took long to come, but he began to make his

preparations slowly. He gave to Kelley the wonderful convex glass which the

Queen had so often admired. A fortnight after, Kelley gave it to Rosenberg, and the

Count presented it to the Emperor. Dee says the Emperor had long esteemed it, but

he has not toldus when he showed it to Rudolph. He had described the mirror in

his Preface to Billingsley’s Euclid (see ante, p. 25).

On February 4 he also made over to Kelley “the powder, the books, the glass,

and the bone, for Rosenberg, and he tereuppon gave me discharge in writing of his

own hand subscribed and sealed.” Rosenberg was away, and did not trouble to

return to bid him good-bye. Instead he wrote to Kelley to take his leave of Dee for

him, and said that he would send instructions to his man Menschik to “dispatch

him,” perhaps with some settlement of a financial character.

On the afternoon of February 16, 1588, Kelley rode away to Prague, taking

most of the assistants with him: John Carpio, F. Garland, Simkinson. Dee never

saw him again.?Three new coaches had been ordered in Budweis, and when they were ready,

Dee dispatched Edmond Hilton (who had returned from England in December) to

Prague to buy a dozen coach and saddle horses. Money was plentiful at this time,

the practice of economy was impossible to Dee, so he set off to travel homewards in

state, as became a man to whom an emperor had offered a princely salary. It was

very unnecessary, even absurd, but it was characteristic of Dee and his exalted ideas,

not so much of himself, as of his peculiar mission. The journey cost, as he reckoned

up afterwards, more than 600 pounds. The horses — twelve young Hungarian

coach horses and three Wallachees for the saddle- -cost 120 pounds, and cheap they

were at that. The three new coaches, with harness, saddles and bridles, cost 60

pounds; and the hiring of two or three waggons for his goods, books, furniture,

vessels, etc., ran into 110 pounds. Then he had an escort of twenty-four soldiers

from Diepholt to Oldenburg, as permitted by the Emperor’s passport; and from

Oldenburg to Bremen, the Duke of that province sent six musqueteers to protect

him. It was a dangerous time to ride abroad, as he says, not long before the outbreak

of the Thirty Years’ War. A party of eighteen horsemen had lain in wait for his

caravan for five days, but a warning came through a Scot in the garrison of

Oldenburg, and Robert, the Landgrave of Hesse, extended his powerful protection.

The train of coaches and waggons, with the travellers and their baggage, left

Trebona on March 11. The Castle had been their home for a year and a half, and we

can fancy Jane, at any rate, dreading to take up once more the old wandering life.

For it was to be a year and three-quarters more before they set foot in England. On

the 18th they were in Nuremburg, where they stayed two nights; on March 26 they

reached Frankfurt-am-Main, and on April 19, five weeks after leaving Trebona, they

were in Bremen, their present destination.

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------



“All you that faine philosophers would be,

And day and night in Geber’s kitchen broyle,

Wasting the chips of ancient Hermes’ tree,

Weening to turn them to a precious oyle,

The more you worke the more you loose and spoile.

To you, I say, how learned soe’er you be,

Go burn your Bookes and come and learne of me.”

— Sir Edward Kelley, Metrical Treatise on Alchemy.

Before continuing the story of Dee’s life in Bremen and his return to England,

the end of Kelley’s extraordinary meteoric career, which six more years

extinguished, must be briefly traced.

Dee expected Kelley to join him at Stade. He confidently thought they would

return to England together, obedient to the Queen’s summons. But Kelley was now

a great man with Rudolph, who had given him an estate and a title, and established

him at his Court in Prague as a citizen and councillor of state. Apparently he

succeeded in keeping up the deception of making gold. The news of his promotion

was conveyed by Dee to Walsingham, at Barn Elms, in a letter dated August 22, 1589,?to which we shall again return. He speaks of Kelley as “my great friend, yet in

Boemia,” and surmises that Walsingham may have heard direct from him, who is

“now in most favourable manner created a Baron of the Kingdom of Boemia.”

The actual title conferred was eques auratus, a synonym for “miles” which

took its origin in the fact that a knight’s armour was gilded. In English it was of

course “Sir.” The title must have been conferred on Kelley very soon after Dee left

Trebona in March; for by the end of June he is called Sir Edward by a couple of

Englishmen, Robert Tatton and George Leycester, who with Edmond Hilton were at

Trebona then, and came on to Dee at Bremen. Kelley commissioned them to take

down particulars of the treachery of one Parkins, a Jesuit in Prague, who was

plotting with the King of Spain and the Pope against England. He wished of course

to score “his faithful discoverie of this treason.” He also desired Burleigh and others

in England to know what great honour had been done him, and he obtained in

February, 1590, a confirmation of the grant of his title to send him over, lest there

should be any doubt in English minds. The document, curiously enough, is

countersigned by Dr. Jacob Curtius, the acquaintance of three years before.

Constant letters passed between the two former fellow- workers through the

year 1590, the messenger being either Thomas Kelley or Francis Garland. All

manner of wild stories were current in England, and have been gathered up and

repeated by every writer upon Dee and Kelley. The sober Anthony Wood relates

that gold was so plentiful in Trebona before Dee left that the young Arthur played

with gold quoits made by projection, while a youthful Count Rosenberg (he seems a

quite fictitious person) was throwing about silver playthings procured by the like

means. Burleigh had written for a specimen of their wonderful art, and it said that

the Queen was actually the recipient of a warming- pan, from the copper or brass lid

of which a piece had been cut, transmuted into gold, and replaced. Elias Ashmole

goes further in the story to say that “without Sir Edward’s touching or handling it,

or melting the metal, onely warming it in the Fire, the Elixir being put thereon, it

was transmuted into pure gold.” He adds that he has heard froma credible person

(who has seen them) that Kelley made rings of gold wire twisted twice round the

finger, which he gave away, to the value of 4,000 pounds: at the marrigae of

Rosenberg’s servant before alluded to. Ashmole adds: “This was highly generous,

but to say the truth, openly Profuse beyond the modest limits of a sober

philosopher.” Sir Thomas Browne says he heard from Arthur Dee, his friend,

conclusive evidence of the manufacture of gold. The reader may smile at these fairy

tales, but what is to be said of a staid and sober minister like Burleigh being ready to

credit the truth of Kelley’s exploits, whether convinced by the warming- pan, or by

other means? In a long letter to Edward Dyer, in 1591, who was then acting as the

Queen’s agent in Germany, he urges him to use every means in his power to induce

“Sir Edward Kelley to come over to his native country and honour her Majesty with

the fruits of such knowledge as God has given him.” Dyer had been Dee’s friend for

a great many years, as we know, and was Arthur’s godfather, but he transferred all

his attentions to Kelley as soon as that clever trickster began making gold. Dee only

says he “did injure me unkindlie.” Kelley and Dyer became inseparable, and Dyer

wrote home to Burleigh wonderful reports of Kelley’s miracles. Ignoring all that

had passed, Burleigh is ready to welcome the quondam coiner, forger, or what not,

with open arms back to the service of his Queen. “If his knowledge is as certain as

you make it, what would you have me think could stay him from flying to the?service of his own sovereign?” If he is afraid of old reports, actions, disgrace, being

brought up against him (and we know Kelley’s record was none of the cleanest), let

him be assured that he shall have his Queen’s protection “against all impediments

that shall arise.” Burleigh becomes almost poetical as he speaks of the patronage of

“such a Princess, who never yet was stained with any breach of Promise to them that

deserved her favour. If I did not know to whom I write, who has had long

experience of her rare vertues,...I could use many arguments to move any man

never to mistrust her.” He implores Dyer to induce Kelley to come. If he does not

come, it can only be because by cunning or legerdemain he has deceived them and

cannot do what he promises, or else he is an unnatural disloyal man and subject. In

case Kelley will not come, he asks if Dyer cannot send a very small portion of his

powder to make a demonstration to the Queen’s own sight. What the Treasurer

would like most of all is that Kelley should “send her Majesty as a token a good

round sum of money, say enough to defray the charges of the navy for this

summer,” for the ships of Spain were gathering courage after their defeat. “But

wishers and woulders were never good householders,” he ends. The Queen is at his

house at Theobalds, and will be some time longer. He would not be content the

time were tripled, so he “had but one corn of Sir Edward Kelley’s powder.” Burleigh

and Kelley were also in direct correspondence. Beside urging his return, the Lord

Treasurer, who seemed to consider Kelley as the storehouse of the elixir of life as

well as of the philosopher’s stone, begs for a prescription with the proof of

manufactured gold. In a brief note of February 18, 1591, Kelley says he will shortly

send the good thing desired for your health.” He has received the salutations sent

through Mr. Dyer, and “at his return you shall know how I thank you.” This, the

only original letter of Kelley’s to be traced, characteristically promises what he never

meant to do. Burleigh replied in May, again begging him to send “somethingof

your operation to strengthen me afore next winter against my old enemy the gout.”

He once more strongly urges Kelley’s return. How can he hesitate to bestow the gifts

that God has given him rather upon his own Prince and Countrie than upon


Kelley of course did not return, but apparently wrote again, urging powerful

reasons of excuse. Burleigh’s faith in him began to shake. He sent a last imperative