Imatges de pàgina
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celebration of the coronation. Nor was this the only service of the kind required at his hands. A waxen image, with a pin piercing its breast, found in the confines of her good city of London, threatened mischief to her person, and since the reformed religion admitted of no priestly exorcist, the astrologer, armed with his abstruse knowledge, must dissipate the malign influence with counter spells, and Dee, ' by godley means," was requisitioned to set her Majesty and the Privy Council at rest.* For queens—even such mastermaids as Elizabeth-were but women. For them, as for others, the terrors of the supernatural overshadowed the world of sense, and the weird horrors of witchcraft were tightening their hold upon the imagination of a country which in the following century was surfeited with the atrocities of the witch trials of King James's reign.f

Thus, secure of the confidence and favour of a great queen, her salaried intelligencer,' with regard to foreign policies, with a sufficiency of the goods of this world, with the means to gratify his intellectual ambitions—his library comprised some 4,000 books and manuscripts in English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew-remarried at fifty to Jane Fromond, a girl of twenty, who seems in their earlier years of marriage to have been his constant companion in his labours and travels, life might well have passed serenely over the head of the pious-minded, God-fearing, affectionately-hearted philosopher in his riverside home at Mortlake. But the divine discontent with the attainable had chosen him for its prey. He dreamt dreams, knockings sounded at night in his chamber mingled with inarticulate crying, invisible presences intruded upon his solitude, and in the year 1581 we find that the visions of the crystal have become the supreme 'Fata Morgana’ of his thoughts.

Yet between these visions, between Master Dee and the holy angels to be descried in the consecrated stone, there was still, as with us of the common herd, the obstacle of the flesh. The little globe, set in gold, engraven with sacred names and surmounted by the cross, the shew' stone of beryl or other polished substance, might stand on the mystical table in the philosopher's study, but

* Amenities of Literature (“Essay on Dee'), D’Israeli.

* On James's accession a law was enacted which subjected witches to death on the first conviction, even though they should have inflicted no injury upon their neighbours. This law was passed when Coke was Attorney-General and Bacon a member of parliament.' Lecky, History of Rationalism.'

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to John Dee's ear no single sound of celestial voices came from the burnished sphere of silence, to John Dee's eyes no single phantasm of spiritual forms traversed the lucency of the shining ball. His mind was willing, but the eye was blind and the ear deaf. “The Devil,' thus Meric Casaubon, the editor of his diary, interprets his incapacity, ‘had not that mastery over Doctor Dee's body to fit it for such sights.'

But at all times and in all places it has been the destiny of the dupe to create the impostor. John Dee's credulity did more.

It created a whole scheme of imposture of almost unrivalled audacity, consistency, and inventiveness, and Dee himself became a mere tool in the hands of the notorious adventurer, the 'skryer' Edward Kelly.

The profession of skryer, crystal-gazer, or speculator-the terms are synonymous—was a recognised calling. Lilly makes constant reference to such adepts, many of whom he had watched in the exercise of their trade. Sarah Skelhorn, whose call' to the crystal began, “0 ye good

angels, only and only,' when her master, “a lewd fellow professing physic,' required her ministrations. Ellen Evans likewise, he tells us, the daughter of Lilly's own drunken instructor, had a like gift, but a less perfect sight, for, although the list is prolonged, Lilly allows that • the visions do not always avail,' as it was rare for any operator to hear the angels speak articulately in his day; and among Elias Ashmole's MS. are receipts for amending impotency of vision :

"A pint of sallet-oyle put into a vial of glass washed with rosewater and marygold-water-the flowers to be gathered towards the East-the budds of holyhocks, flowers of marygold, toppes of wild thyme—these (with other ingredients) dissolved and kept for use are an Unguent to anoint the eyelids when, from causes unspecified, the “sight” was imperfect.” Possibly the traditional requisite for perfect sight, in so far as intercourse with the higher ranks of celestial visitants was concerned, innocence of life, was not more common in Lilly's time than at other periods of the world's history.

However imperfect the visions, the skryer nevertheless seemed seldom wanting. Dr. Dee in 1581 bad in his employment one named Barnabas Saul, a man strangely • troubled by a spiritual creature at midnight, Dee says in

* Quoted in Percy's 'Reliques.'

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his earlier diary. But Saul's powers were inadequate to supply the demands of Dee's faith, and in the spring of 1582, four years after his second marriage with Jane Fromond, Edward Kelly appeared upon the scene. Kelly, alias Talbot, it would seem, dining in company with John Dee, his wife, and others, disclosed to Dee the ill dealings of Saul, ill dealings enhanced by ingratitude, for when the Devil would have had Saul away to drown him, his master “hindered the Devil of his purpose;'and, eventually, whatever may have been the rights of the case, Kelly was installed, at the rate of 501. per annum, in Saul's place.

Regarded impartially, Kelly's antecedents were not calculated to inspire confidence. Born in Lancashire, by profession an apothecary, he had combined the practice of other arts with that of medicine. At Walton-le-Dale, having been engaged to predict the manner and date of death of a certain young gentleman, he had, in company with one Paul Waring, invoked a member of the infernal regiment,* from whom he trusted to obtain the desired intelli

, * gence. After this 'black ceremony' a blacker rite ensued. A dead body was disinterred and made to utter strange predictions, of which the authenticity was vouched for by the young gentleman himself in later years. The sequel of this deed of darkness, so far as regarded Kelly, was of a tangible nature, The laws against sorcery, fallen into abeyance, had recently been revived, and in this instance not in vain. The loss of both ears is the penalty recorded in Wever's • Funeral Monuments,' although it remains open to doubt if the further charge of feloniously coining of moneys was not the more immediate cause of the forfeiture.

But body-stealer, coiner, or devil-dealer, one thing was certain, Kelly saw,' and in virtue of that seeing, Edward Kelly, then twenty-seven years of age, with Joan Kelly, his wife, some six or seven years younger than himself, took up their abode in Master Dee's dwelling. Henceforth, to Kelly's eyes, whole troops of spiritual beings assembled themselves in the mystic stone. Apparitions thronged to his sight, voices spake in tongues known and unknown, in the vulgar tongue of his native land, and in that forgotten language which belonged to Adam in the days of innocency. The Latin, too, they spake, but they would not, Kelly asserted, 'endure to deal in the Hungarian tongue,'

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* Casaubon derives the episode from the annotations of Ashmole's "Theatrum Chemicum.

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a prejudice we may easily interpret when those to whom the Hungarian tongue was familiar were amongst Kelly's audience. And those things which Kelly saw and heard, though to his master's grosser senses they were hidden, Dee faithfully and minutely inscribed. The eye and the ear were Kelly's, the hand and the pen were Dee's. Wild prophecies, confused rhapsodies, fantastic images fill page after page, albeit, says Lilly, ' Dee had not plain resolutions • because Kelly was very vicious, unto whom the angels were not willingly obedient.'

Ill assorted in very truth were the two companions. Master Dee at once patient and eager, standing on the threshold of old age, with all the honourable learning of an accomplished scholar, docile to every prompting of the angelic voices, accepting with invulnerable credulity each spiritual utterance; grave, pious, gentle, courteous, and, despite the little pomposities of his lay sacerdotalism, dignified. Edward Kelly, a consummate actor, a brilliant charlatan, eloquent, imaginative, capricious, vindictive and violent, recklessly ambitious, loud, coarse-grained, a lover of gain and of pleasure, in whose career the jeering levity of the impostor alternates with the more repulsive counterfeits of the hypocrite.

From the first entries in Dee's diary it is not difficult to detect the undertone of sceptical mockery in Kelly's utterances. His audacious security in his master's facile credulity was boundless. This personal note gives a distinct colour and individuality to the otherwise monotonous pages of spiritual revelations, the 'sermon-like stuff,' as Casaubon calls it, which fills the long pages of the ponderous folio. In the fantastic visions he reported to Dee's listening ear his vivid and wayward fancy found scope for invention. The first vision, where Madini, the most familiar of spirits, appears, is not the least curious example the volume affords of the light-hearted trivialities with which the revelations of divine wisdom are throughout interspersed. And it must always be remembered that, in this and all following scenes, though Dee is the scribe, Kelly is the seër and dictates all portions of the narratives save those where Dee interrogates the spirits.

Thus the dialogue is introduced with a description of the sight seen by the skryer, and we read in Dee's words

that suddenly there came out of my oratory a spiritual creature, like a pretty girl of 7 or 8 years of age, attired on her head with her hair rowled

up before and hanging down very long behind, with a gown of

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sey changeable green and red, and with a train she seemed to play up and down. She seemed to go in and out behind my books, and as she should ever go between them the books seemed to give place, ...

Then the dialogue begins :

Dr. Dee: “Whose maiden are you?” "She: “Whose man are you ? '

Dr. Dee: “ I am the servant of God, both by my boundon duty and also I hope by His adoption." *(A voice is heard saying: "You shall be beaten if you tell !")

!") She: “Am I not a fine maiden ? Give me leave to play in your house. My mother told me she would come and dwell here.”

*(She went up and down with the gestures of a young girl playing by herself, and diverse times another spake to her from the corner, but none was seen.)

• Dr. Dee : “ Tell me who you are ?”

"She: “I pray you let me play with you a little, and I will tell you who I am.

Dr. Dee: “In the name of Jesus then tell me."

She: “I rejoice in the name of Jesus, and I am a poor little maiden, Madini; I am the last but one of my mother's children ; I have little baby children at home.”

· Dr. Dee: - Where is your home ? "
'She: “I dare not tell, I shall be beaten."

Soon Madini brings out a picture book, apparently an illustrated history of England, and as a voice calls her away she begins to smile, disregarding the summons-

'She: “I will read over my gentlewomen first. My Master Dee will teach me if I say amiss. . . . I have gentlemen and gentlewomen

.. is not this a pretty man, my faith! His name is Edward. This " (she passes on to another) “was a jolly man when he was king.

... Here is a grim Lord, he maketh ine afraid. Here is Hugh Lacy. He weareth his hair long, for he was deputy of Ireland—that maketh him look with such a writhen face. ... My sister has torn out the two other leaves.”

So she can go no further till after supper.' And gaily Madini gathers up her "skrolls, puts up her book, and departs in her gown of shot colours.

A trifle older, she returns when summer had come. Dr. Dee is about shortly, by spiritual decree, to quit his quiet Mortlake home, where Queen Elizabeth was wont to ride over from Richmond and speak with her old friend at the 'great gate of the field,' and call for his 'glass' to be shown to her as she sat there on horseback, with the Thames flowing heavily near by between its low-lying banks of stunted osiers. All this he is to leave behind him, and, moreover, he is to write a book, and to write it in haste, in

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