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and sport was almoste ended, he, going into his chamber, one, as he thought, struck him, and he toke his bed, and died just 24 hours after.'
After that grim death thus briefly chronicled Simon • lerned to sowe and to make hose ; also he learned the ' knowledge of alle wares and drugs and how to buy and
selle.' But the blows were many, and being the youngest apprentice of four, 'everyone did triumphe over him.' So he tells the story of his sunless boyhood, and tells, too, of A. Y. (Ann Yonge) the little girl, the rich neighbour's daughter, that loved him wonderful well,' but whom he • loved not but in kindness. For Simon's heart was otherwhere. At the Priory of St. Jilles, by hook or by crook, he became a free scholar. If his master gave him leave to play that was death to him. He would say, “ Play, play, here is nothing but play ; I shall never be a good scholar.' Nevertheless, in spite ol' play,'Simon's education progressed, and he became in his turn tutor, schoolmaster, and teacher, visiting Oxford and the Low Countries, and taking his degree at Cambridge. In 1579 he toke the Parsonage in * Fisherton.' But this venture miscarried, and sixty weeks of imprisonment followed. On his release Simon set out for London, 'pore and bare, with little money, and the acquaint' anceship of a cosoning quen who called herself liis sister.' At this time 'spirits became subject unto him, and he did
proficie the truth of many things. He supported himself with the practice of physic and carpentry, and also 'cam (again) acquainted with Ann Yonge,' to, we may well believe, her loss, for love on her syde lasted long. A narrative of brawls, slanders, debts, arrests, and imprisonment fills the ensuing pages. Simon got litell and spent
moch,' he says, “and the world went very hard.' But times mended withal. In the course of years his credit grew. He began to practise the Philosopher's Stone, and new writ bis book of magic. Then, too, began his stormy connexion with Avis Allen, and henceforward, until her death, his diary is threaded with records of quarrels and reconciliations. • Avis was sore angrie ;' `Avis would in no
wise be frendes to me; ' ' Avis would come no more tu o me; 'Avis went from me in a furie.' So sentence after sentence records their repeated estrangement. But “ Deo
gracias ’-- one might question God's concern in the matter -they were ever frendes again. Written almost in the single-line entries of an account book, the loves, hates, desertions, and griefs of his lifetime are presented to us
skeleton leaves, lifeless, colourless, textureless, of long dead passions. A single sentence-six short words-tells us that on June 13, 1597, Avis Allen died; another, two years later, makes known to us as briefly that Ann Yonge was likewise dead; and with these two meagre entries the woman who loved him and the woman he had loved pass out of our cognisance, and Simon weds Ann Baker, a sixteen-year-old wife, of good connexion and of a fair face, who in the later days of her widowhood was well acquainted with Lilly, and known no less well by reputation to Anthony Weldon, a pretty wench and a faithless wife.'* Besides a wife, Simon, too, acquires other possessions appertaining to respectability-a house in Lambeth (the
conjurer of Lambeth,' Lord Bacon calls him), and a purple velvet gown, and he sits for his portrait, perhaps the very one of which Lilly preserves the engraving, and figures in dramatic records as a spectator of Macbeth,' and 'A
' • Winter's Tale, performed at the Globe in 1611, the year of his death.
Such was the man to whom beautiful Frances Howard the White Devil of England-resorted when she sought, by means of enchanted pictures, waxen images, and magic incantations, to ensnare the heart of the gay, pleasureloving, but not wholly ignoble favourite, Robert Carr, then Lord Rochester, afterwards Earl of Somerset. And if Lilly created his position in history by his own astute and vigorous effort, Simon Forman owes his posthumous notoriety in no small part to the fortuitous concurrence of circumstances which associated his name with the trial of the Somersets for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. It is, indeed, rather with the circumstances than with the man that the abiding interest of his career lies, in so far as it presents the most forcible illustration_extant of the importance attaching to occult arts in the England of his day as practised by those professors of obscure lives and scandalous reputation who play the chief parts in Lilly's memoirs.
The outlines of that most evil of court dramas are well known. Wedded as a child to Lord Essex, Frances Howard's nominal husband was still absent from England when his wife, having reached the years of early womanhood, her fame already tarnished in the foul atmosphere of James's court, solicited Forman's aid. Frances loved Rochesterafter the fashion of her day and kind it would seem she
* Weldon, Court of James.'
loved him truly enough—Forman, by his occult practices, must further her desires. The help of the conjurer would appear to have been unnecessary, for at the very same time Rochester was invoking the assistance of his friend and scribe, Sir Thomas Overbury, in the composition of love, letters beseeching her favour. Overbury's letters or Forman's spells speedily led to a fully developed intrigue, and soon the lovers were keeping trysts at Forman's Lambeth home, though • Forman, foreseeing much trouble to come,' possibly too late regretting his intervention, 'would lock himself * from them in his study a whole day's space.'
On the return of Essex, Frances, companioned by her sweet sister,' Anne Turner, the neglected mistress of Sir Arthur Mainwaring, one of Prince Henry's attendants in former years,* again entreated Forman's interposition. Rochester loves, Essex must cease to love her. But whether he loves or no, Essex claims his wife. Her letter of appeal during her detention in her husband's house, addressed to her'sweet father,' and preserved in the record of State Trials,t is not without a sincere accent of genuine passion, as she prays Forman to work her deliverance from this vile place * for God's sake,' and openly avows her loyalty to Rochester and as openly her unfaith to Essex. The king's shameless conpivance in her divorce, her marriage with Carr, Overbury's rash protest against it and consequent quarrel with both husband and wife-then created Duke and Duchess of Somerset-form a series of the most scandalous social incidents of the reign ; till, with Overbury's imprisonment, and subsequent death, in the Tower, the first act of the drama closes; and the scene only re-opens, when, in 1615, the two Somersets, Mistress Anne Turner, Helwisse, lieutenant of the Tower, Franklin, an apothecary, and Weston, an underkeeper, were charged-Lord Bacon being Attorney-General and Sir Edward Coke Chief Justicewith the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.
Simon Forman was dead. He had died suddenly four years previously on the day of his own foreshowing. The * Sunday night before, his wife and he being at supper in • their garden-house, she, being pleasant, told him she had been informed he could resolve whether man or wife shall
die first. “Shall I bury you or no ?” she asked. “I shall "“ die,” said he,“ ere Thursday night.” Then, with a touch
* Prince Henry was accredited one of Frances Howard's lovers; allusions during her trial refer to his supposed poisoning.
† Corbett's State Trials,' 13 James I., 1615.
of sinister menace, he added, “Bury me deep or I shall fright you all.” » #
However deep, nevertheless, Simon lay buried, his works were yet above ground to give evidence against the accused criminals. Westminster Hall has seldom surely seen a stranger spectacle than when there was showed in court * certain pictures made in lead ... a black scarf also full • of white crosses, and other enchanted papers,' belonging to the dead confidant of Frances Howard's intrigues.
At the showing of these there was heard a crack from the scaffolds, which caused great fear, tumult, and confusion amongst the spectators and throughout the hall, everyone fearing hurt, as if the Devil had been present and grown angry to have his workmanship shewed by such as were not his own scholars. This terror continued about a quarter of an hour. After silence proclaimed the rest of the tricks were likewise shewed.'
The examination of Anne Forman followed. There was produced a record of Forman's signifying 'what ladies loved what lords in the court.' But the Lord Chief Justice would not suffer it to be read. Again Weldon supplies his commentary : ‘for the first leaf my lord Coke
lighted on he found his own wife's name.'t So the trial ran. Yet when all was said and done, as far as Forman was concerned, the evidence adduced did little save to bring Forman a posthumous notoriety and the unfortunate Somersets into greater popular odium-which was possibly Coke'st intention. That there was a little picture of a young man in white wax left with Forman the conjurer,' Bacon allowed, in his letter of account and advice to the king, ' was nothing to Somerset, and a loose conjecture.'s But the lords and ladies who paid as much as 501. apiece to indulge the coarse and vulgar curiosity which still crowds the scene of a sensational trial were probably of a different opinion. The result of the trial verified Forman’s prediction of much trouble' to come of Frances Howard's love. Weston, Helwisse, Franklin, and Anne Turner were hanged, the Somersets condemned to death, and George Villiers reigned at court in Robert Carr's stead.
As Lilly's memoirs and Forman's life may thus exemplify the parts played by professional adepts in occultisin during
* Lilly's Memoirs.'
I Coke's interests, it is said, lay with Villiers, the new favourite, who had married, or was about to marry, his daughter.
§ Spedding's Life of Bacon,' vol. v. p. 289. VOL. CXCI. NO. CCCXCI.
the times of the Stewarts, it remains for Dr. John Dee, the greatest mathematician of Elizabeth's reign, to place us face to face with the very heart of occult science, not with Forinan's waxen effigies or Lilly's almanacs of planetary prophecies, but with spirits made visible and audible to mortal sense. Moreover, let the case stand as it may with the good faith of others, Master John Dee's diary bears stamped upon it the testimony of a sincere, if amazing, faith—a faith truly as miraculous as any marvel the diary professes to register. It is a monument of a credulity so unbounded as to be in itself almost incredible, and, in virtue of this credulity, it represents faithfully, in the most minute detail, a feature of intellectual life and thought which may well escape notice in annals of wider import. Further, the picture is drawn by the man who was at once the victim and the exponent of the mental attitude shared by all the ignorant and many of the wise amongst his contemporaries.
The episodes of John Dee's life have been epitomised by Mr. Thomas Wright in his History of Sorcery and Witchcraft, and by Mr. I. D’Israeli in his 'Amenities of Litera• ture. Born of Welsh parentage in the year 1527 (the eighteenth of Henry VIII.'s reign), he was educated partly at Oxford-where he took his degree-and partly at the famous University of Louvain. Presumably he regarded mathematics as his principal study, and in later years was fond of styling himself a foresworn old mathematician.' But he was also esteemed, as Lilly, writing sixty years after his death, records, of great judgement in the Latin and Greek tongues, a perfect astronomer, and a serious geometrician, the author of books and treatises to the number of sixty printed and unprinted works. He wrote the preface to the first English translation of Euclid, and was the originator of a project for the maintenance of a royal navy. And in his old age, when other sciences had superseded these simpler branches of erudition, he still evinced a lingering pride in these attainments of his unilluminated earthly learning.
During the reign of Queen Mary he was in close communication with the Princess Elizabeth-her tutor, it may be, in more lore than the books of the schoolroom sanctioned -and he himself was imprisoned on a charge of sorcery. When Mary's death emancipated Elizabeth from her seclusion at Hatton, Master John Dee was summoned to interrogate the stars on her behalf and declare what conjunction of the planets would be propitious for the