i. d'israeli.

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neously declared that Dee should have St Cross, and
the incumbent might be removed to a bishopric. She
allotted him a considerable pension, and commanded
Lady Howard to write "words of comfort" to his wife,
and further sent an immediate supply by the hands of
Sir Thomas Gorge. The letter to his wife and the

* We have several manuscript letters which passed between Dee and
Stowe. They i^how all the warmth of their literary intercourse. Bee
offers his present aid, and promises his future assistance.

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ready money were, however, the only tangible gift, for
St. Cross and the pension he never received !

Two years after, we find Dee still memorializing. He
published " A Letter Apologetical, with a Plain Demon-
stration and Fervent Protestation for the Course of the
Philosophical Studies of a Certain Studious Gentleman^
1599." This was a vindication against the odium of
magical practices. At length, the archbishop installed
him in the wardenship of Manchester College ; but
though our adventurer now drew into harbor, it was
his destiny to live in storms. The inmates always
suspected him of concealing more secrets of nature than
he was willing to impart ; and the philosopher who
had received from great men in Europe such testimo-
nies of their admiration, now was hourly mortified by
the petty malice of the obscure fellows of his college.
After several years of contention, he resigned a college
which no occult arts he possessed could govern.

His royal patroness was no more. The light and
splendor of the court had sunk beneath the horizon ;
and in the chill evening of his life, the visionary looked
up to those who were not susceptible of his innocent
sorcery. Still retaining his lofty pretenisons, he
addressed the king, and afterward the parliament. He
implored to be freed from vulgar calumnies, and to be
brought to trial, that a judicial sentence might clear
him of all those foul suspicions which had clouded over
his days for more than half a century. It is to be
regretted that this trial did not take place ; the accusa-
tions and the defence would have supplied no incurious
chapter in the history of the human mind. A necro-
mancer, and a favorite with Elizabeth, was not likely
to be tolerated in the court of James the First. Cecil,
who when young had been taught by his father to
admire the erudition of the reformer of the Gregorian
calendar, was not the same person in the court of James
the First as in that of Elizabeth ; he resigned the sage

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to his solitude, and, with the policy of the statesmaiii
only reasonahly enough observed, that "Dee would
shortly go mad !'*

Misfortune could neither break nor change the
ambitious spirit of the deserted philosopher. He still
dreamed in a spiritual world, which he never saw nor
heard, and hopefully went on working his stills, deprived
of the powder of projection. He sold his books for a
meal ; and if the gossiper Aubrey may be trusted, in suoh
daily distress he may have practised on the simplicity of
his humble neighbors, by sometimes recovering a
stolen basket of linen, though it seems he refused the
more solemn conjuration of casting a figure for a stray
horse ! It is only in this degradation of sordid misery
that he is shown to us in the Alchymist of Jonson*
Weary, as he aptly expresses himself, of " sailing
against the wind's eye," in 1608, in the eighty-first year
of his age, he resolved to abandon his native land.
There was still another and a better world for the
pilgrim of science ; and it was during the preparations
to rejoin his continental friends in Germany, that death
closed all future sorrows.

It was half a century after the decease of Dr. Dee, that
the learned Meric Casaubon amazed the world by pub«
lishing the large folio containing "A True and Faithful
Relation of what passed many years between Dr. 3onH
De£ and soMB spirits, 1659," from a copy in the Cot*
tonian Library. Yet is this huge volume but a torso ;
the mighty fragments, however, were recovered from
the mischances of a kitchen fire, by Elias Ashmole, a
virtuoso in alchymy and astrology, who toiled and
trembled over the mystical and almost the interminable
quires.* Such is the fate of books ! the world will for

* The curioas may find a copious narrative of the recovery of these
manuscripts, written by Ashmole himself, printed in Ayscough's Cat-
alogue of MS8., p. 371, where also he is referred to the autogfapbe of
Dee, in the British Museum.

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ever want the glorious fragments of Tacitus and Livjr,
but they have Dee passingly entire.

Meric Casaubon was the learned son of a more
learned father, but his erudition mach exceeded his
judgment. He had written a treatise against the delu-
sions of "Enthusiasm," whence the author derived
but little benefit ; for he demonstrated the existence of
witches. Yet Meric Casaubon, meek and honest, was
solicited by Cromwell to become his historiographer ;
bat from principle he declined the profit and the honor ;
during the Oliverian rule, he became an hypochon-
driac, and has prefixed an hypochondriacal preface to
this unparalleled volume. His faith is obsequious, and
he confirms the verity of these conferences with
"spirits," by showing that others before Dee had en-
joyed such visitations. The fascination of a conference
with " spirits" must have entered into the creed even
of higher philosophers ; for we are startled by discover-
ing that the great Leibnitz observed on this preface,
that " it deserves to be translated as well as the work

When this book of marvels was first published, the
world was overcome by the revelations. Those saintly
personages wl7ose combined wisdom then assisted the
councils of England, Owen, Goodwin, Nye, and others
of that sort, held a solemn consistory for the suppres-
sion of the book. They entertained a violent suspicion
that the whole of this incomprehensible jargon was a
covert design by some of the Church of England party,
of a mockery of their own style, to expose the whole
sainthood, who pretended so greatly to inspiration. But
the bomb exploded at once, and spread in all directions ;
and ere they could fit and unfit their textual debates,
the book had been eagerly bought, and placed far be-
yond the reach of suppression.!

* General Dictionary! by Birch, art. Merit Ccuaubon — Note B.
t This literary anecdote I derive from a manuscript and contemporary
note in the printed copy at the British Museum.

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The "true relation of what passed many years
between Dr. Dee and some spirits" long excited
curiosity which no one presumed to satisfy. During
no less a period than five-and-twenty years was Dee
recording what he terms his " Actions with Spirits,"
for all was written by his own hand. It would be an
extravagant interference to conclude that a person of
blameless character and grave habits would persevere
through a good portion of his life in the profitless
design of leaving a monument of posthumous folly
solely to mystify posterity. Some fools of learning
indeed have busied themselves in forging antiquities to
bewilder some of their successors, but these malicious
labors were the freaks of idle hours, not the devotion
of a life. Even the imposture of Kelley will not wholly
account for the credulity of Dee ; for many years after
their separation, and to his last days, Dee sought for
and at length found another " Skrycr."* Are we to
resolve these " Actions and Spirits" by the visions of
another sage, a person eminent for his science, and a
Bosicrucian of our own times — that illustrious Emanuel
Swedenborg, who, in his reveries communed with spirits
and angels 1 It would thus be a great psychological
phenomenon which remains unsolved.

No one has noticed that a secret communication,
aninterrupted through the protracted reign of Eliza-
beth, existed between the queen and the philosopher.
The deep interest her majesty took in his welfare is

• This office of "skryer" is ambiguous — no dictionary will assist as.
'In the year before he died, 1607, Dee procured one Bartholomew
Hickman to serve him in the same manner as Kelley had done." — Biog.
Britt.fy. 43. In what manner? Did Hickman pretend to descry the
" actions of the spirits" in the show-stone, or only to drudge on the
powder of projection ? Forty years have elapsed since I turned over tht
interminable ** Diary," and now my eyes are dim and my courage gone.
I suspect, however, that that magical herb — eye-bright, however ad-
ministered, will fail to penetrate through the darkness which surrounds
the chaotic mass of manuscript.

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Strikingly revealed to us. De^, ia his frequent troubles,
had constantly recourse to the queen, and she was ever
prompt at his call. The personal attentions of the
queen often gratified his master-passion — often she
sent kind messages by her ladies and her courtiers —
often was he received at Greenwich, Richmond, and at
Windsor ; and he was singularly honored by her maj-
esty's visits at his house in Moitlake. The queen
would sometimes appear waiting before his garden,
when he would approach to kiss her hand and solve
some difficult inquiry she had prepared for him. On
one of these occasions Dee exhibited to her majesty a
concave mirror ; a glass which had provoked too much
awful discussion, but which would charm the queen
while this Sir David Brewster of his age condescended
to explain the optical illusions. When Dee, in his
travels, was detained by sickness in Lorraine, her
majesty despatched two of her own physicians to attend
on this valued patient. The queen incessantly made
golden promises of preferment ; many eminent appoint-
ments were fixed on. He had too a patron in Leiscester
the favorite of Elizabeth, for in that terrible state-libel
of " Leicester's Commonwealth," among the instru-
ments of that earl's dark agencies we discover '* Dee
and Allen, two atheists, for figuring and conjuring,"
that is, for astrological diagrams and magical invoca-
tions!* As, notwithstanding the profusion of the
queen's designs for his promotion, he received but
little, and that little late, the sincerity of the royal
patron has been arraigned. Mysterious as the philoso-
pher's cabalistic jargon with which he sometimes

* It requires a late posterity to correet the gross prejudices of contem*
poraries ; it was not the least of the honors which Dee enjoyed to havt
been closely united with the studies of the " atheist'' Allen, ^* the father
of all learaint; and virtuous industry, infiuitely beloved and admired by
the court and the university." The ardent eulogy of Wood is earnest. ^
Mhen, Oxon.y li., 541.

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entertained her, her majesty seems to have remunerated
empty phrases by providing national places ; but Eliza-
beth may not have deserved this hard censure ; she
unfailingly supplied her money-gifts, a certain evidence
of her sincerity ! The truth seems to be that royal
promises may be frustrated by intervening competitors
and ministerial expedients. At the court, the evil genius
of Dee stood ever by his side, saluting the philosopher
with no friendly voice, as " the arch-conjurer of the
whole kingdom !" The philosopher struggled with the
unconquerable prejudices of the age.

If we imagine that Elizabeth only looked on Dee as
the great alchymist who was to replenish her coffers, or
the mystic who propounded the world of spirits, this
would not account for the queen permitting Dee to
remain on the continent during six years. Had such
been the queen's hopes, she would have hermetically
sealed the philosopher in his house at Mortlake, where
in her rides to Richmond she might conveniently have
watched the progress of gold-making and listened to
the theurgic revelations. Never would she have left
this wanderer from court to court, with the chance of
conveying to other princes such inappreciable results
of the occult sciences.

What then was the cause of this intimate intercourse
of the queen with Dr. Dee ; and what the occasion oi
that mysterious journey of fifteen hundred miles in the
winter season to consult physicians on her majesty's
health, of which he had reminded the queen by her
commissioners, but which they could not have com-
prehended! Did these mysterious physicians reside
in one particular locality ; and in the vast intervening
distance were there no skilful physicians equally able
for consultation 1

A casual hint dropped by Lilly, the famous astrologer,
will unveil the mysterious life of Dee, during hit
six years' residence abroad. Lilly tells us that ^* For

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many years, in search of the profounder stadies, he
travelled into foreign parts ; to be serious^ he was queen
Elizabeth's intelligencer, and had a salary for his main*
tenance from the secretaries of state." Lilly, who is
correct in his statements except in the fabulous narra-
tives of his professional art, must have written from
some fact known to him; and it harmonizes with an
ingenious theory to explain the unintelligible diary of
Dee, suggested by Dr. Robert Hooke, the eminent

Hooke, himself a great inventor in science, enter-
tained a very high notion of the scientific character of
Dee, and of his curiosity and dexterity in the philosophi-
cal arts — optics, perspective, and mechanics. Deep*
ly versed in chymistry, mathematics, and the prevalent
study of astrology, like another Roger Bacon (or rather
a Baptista Porta), delighting in the marvellous of phi-
losophical experiments, he was sent abroad to amuse
foreign princes, while he was really engaged by Eliza-
beth in state affairs. Hooke, by turning over the awful
tome, and comparing several circumstances with the his-
tory of his own life, was led to conclude that *' all which
relates to the spirits, their names, speeches, shows,
noises, clothing, actions, &;c., were all cryptography ;
feigned relations, concealing true ones of a very differ-
ent nature. It was to prevent any accident, lest his pa-
pers should fall into hostile hands, that he preferred
they should appear as the effusions of a' visionary, ra-
ther than the secret history of a real spy. When the
spirits are described as using inarticulate words, un-
pronounceable according to the letters in which they
are \iTitten, he conjectured that this gibberish would
be understood by that book of Enoch which Dee prized
so highly, and which Hooke considered to contain the
cipher. Hooke, however, has not deciphered any of
these inarticulate words ; but as the book of Enoch
seems still to exist, this Apocalypse may yet receive

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its commentator, a task which it appears Dr. Adam
Clarke once himself contemplated.*

There is one fatal objection to this ingenious theory
of cryptography ; this astonishing diary opens long be-
fore Dee went abroad, and was continued long after
his return, when it does not appecur that be was em-
ployed in affairs of state.

* " As it is asserted that the six books of Mysteries transcribed from
the papers of Dr. John Dee^ by £lias Ashmole, Esq., preserved in the
Sloane Library (Plutarch xvi., o) are a collection of papers relative to
State Transactions between Elizabeth, her ministers, and different for*
eign Powers, in which Dr. Dee was employed sometimes as an official
agent openly, and at other times as a spy, I purpose to make an extract
from the whole work, and endeavor, if possible, to get a key to open
the Mysteries. A. C."— Co/, of Adam Clarke^s MSS.

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The confraternity of the Rose-cross long attracted
public notice. Congenial with the more ancient free-
masonry, it was probably designed for a more intellec-
tual order ; it was entitled " The Enlightened," " The
Immortal," and ^^ The Invisible." Its name has been
frequently used to veil mysteries, to disguise secret
agents, and to carry on those artful impostures which
we know have been practised on infirm credulity by the
dealers in than mat urgical arts, to a very recent period.
The modern illuminati, of whom not many years past
we heard so much, are conjectured to have branched
out of the sublime society of the Rose-cross.

This mystical order sprung up among that mystical
people, the Germans, who are to this day debating on
its origin, for, like other secret societies, its concealed
source eludes the search. It was at the beginning of
the seventeenth century that a German divine, John
Valentine Andrese, a scholar of enlarged genius, in his
controversial writings amused his readers by certain
mysterious allusions to a society for the regeneration
of science and religion ; in the ambiguity of his lan-
guage, it remained doubtful whether the society was
already instituted, or was to be instituted. Suddenly
a new name was noised through Europe, the name of
Christian Rosencreutz, the founder three centuries back
of a secret society, and a eulogy of the order was dis-
persed in five difiTerent languages.

The name of the founder seemed as mystical as the
secret order, the Rose and the Cross.* The Rose, with

♦ Fuller's amusing explanation of the term Rosa-crusian was written
without any knowledge of the supposititious founder. He says: ** Sure
I am that a rose is the sweetest of flowersj and a cross accounted ths

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the Germans, which was placed in the centre of their
ceiling, was the emblem of domestic confidence, whence
we have our phrase ^' under the rose ;*' and the cross,
the conjiislc rated symbol of Christianity, described th^
order's holy end ; such notions might suit a mystical
divine.* In the legend the visionary founder was ^ said
to have brought from Palestine all the secrets of nature
and of art, the elixir of longevity, and the stone so
vainly called philosophical.!

If to some the society had a problematical existence,
others were convinced of its reality ; learned men
became its disciples, its defenders; and one eminent
person published its laws and its customs* Michael
Maier, the physician of the emperor Rodolph, who ha4
ennobled him for his services^ having become initiatecl
by some adepts, travelled over all Germany seeking
every brother, and from their confidential instructioa
collected their laws and customs. At the same time,
Hobert Fludd^ a learned physician of our own country,
distinguished for his science and his mysticism, intro*
duced RosaCrusianism into England ; its fervent disciple,
he furnished an apology for the mystical brotherhood
when it seemed to require one.

The arcane tomes of Fludd often spread, and still with
" the elect^^ may yet spread, an inebriating banquet of
"the occult sci^ncJes"— ^all the reveries of the ancient

SAcredest of forms and figures, so that much of emineacy must be im-
ported in their composition.'' — Fuller^a Worthies.

• The chymists, in the style of their arcana, explain the term by the
mystical union, in their secret operations, of the dew and the light.
They derive the dew from the Latin Roa^ and, in the figure of a cross X,
"they trace the three letters which compose the word Lux — light. Mo-
sheim is positive in the accuracy of his information. I would not an-
swer for my own, though somewhat more reasonable ; it is indeed difll-
cult to ascertain the origin of the name of a society which probably
never had an existence.

t In the Harleian MSS., from 6481 to 6486, are several Rosacmsian
writings, some translated from the Latin by one Peter Smart, and others
by a Dr. Rudd, who appe^)« to hare been a profoond adept.
Vol. II.— 28

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cftbalistSy the abstractions of the lower Platonists, and
the fancies of the modern Paracelsians, all that is mis-
teiious and incomprehensible, with the rich condiment
of science. There are some eyes which would still
pierce into truths muffled in jargon and rhapsody, and
dwell on the images of realities in the delirious dreams
of the learned.

Two worlds, " the Macrocosm,*' or the great visible
world of nature, and "the Microcosm," or the little
world of man, from the comprehensive view, designed, to
use Fludd's own terms as " an encyclophy, or epitome
of all arts and sciences."* This Rosacrusian philosopher
seeks for man in nature herself, and watches that crea-
tive power in her little mortal miniatures. In his
Mosaic philosophy, founded on the first chapter of
Genesis, our seer, standing in the midst of chaos, sepa-
rates the three principles of the creation — the palpable
darkness — the movement of the waters — at length the
divine light ! The corporeity of angels and devils is
distinguished on the principle of rarum tt densumy thin
or thick. Angelic beings, through their transparency,
reflect the luminous Creator ; but, externally formed of
the most spiritual part of water or air, by contracting
their vaporous subtility, may " visibly and organically
talk with man." The devils are of a heavy gross air ;
so Satan, the apostle called, " the prince of air ;" but in
touch they are excessive cold, because the spirit by which
they live — as this philosopher proceeds to demonstrate
— drawn and contracted into the centre, the circumfer-
ence of dilated air remains icy cold. From angels and
demons, the Rosacrusian would approach even to the
Divinity ; calculating the infinite by his geometry, he

* These are his words in reply to his adversary Foster, the only work
which he published in English, -in consequence of the attack being in the
vernacular idiom. The term here introduced into the language is, per-
haps, our most ancient authority for the modern term Eneyelopadiaf
which Chambers curtailed to Cyciopcdta. -^

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reveals the nature of the Divine Being, as '* a pure monad,
including in itself all numbers." A paradoxical expres-
sion, lying more in the words than the idea, which called
down an anathema on the impiety of our Theosophist,
for ascribing ** composition unto God." The occult
philosopher warded off this perilous stroke. ^'If I
have said that God is in composition, I mean it not as
a part compounding, but as the sole compounder, in
the apostolic style, ^ He is over all, and in all.' " He
detects the origin of evil in the union of the sexes ;
the sensual organs of the mother of mankind were first
opened by the fruit which blasted the future human
race. He broods over the mystery of Mfe — production
and corruption — regeneration and resurrection ! On the
lighter topics of mortal studies he^ displays ingenious
conceptions. The title of one of his treatises is De
J^aturcB Simia, or ^* the Ape of Nature," that is. Art ;
a single image, but a fertile principle.

Sympathies and antipathies, divine and human, are
among the mysteries of our nature. By two universal
principles, the boreal, or condensing power of cold, and
the austral, or the rarefaction of heat, impulsion and
repulsion, our physician explains the active operations
in the human frame — notions not wholly fanciful ; but,
at once medical and magical, this doctrine led him into
one of the most extraordinary conceptions of mystical
invention, yet which long survived the inventory so
seductive were the first follies of science.

Man exists in the perpetual opposition of sympathies
and antipathies ; and the cabalist in the human frame
beheld the contests of spirits, benevolent or malign,
trooping on the four viewless winds which were to be
submitted to his occult potentiality. Nor was the
physician unsuccessful, for in the sweetness of his elocu-
tion, pleasant fancies and elevated conceptions operated
on the charmed faith of his imaginative patients.

The mysterious qualities of the magnet were held by

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Fliidd as nothing leifs tban an angelical effluvia. In
liis '* Mystic Anatomy^" to heal the wounds of a person,
miraeulously, at any distancey he prescribed a caba-
liatical, astrological, and magnetic ungaent. A drop of
blood obtained from the woand mixed with this unguent,
and the unguent applied to the identical instrument
which inflicted the wound, would, however distant the

Online Libraryi. d'israeliamenities of literature, consisting of sketches and characters of english ... → online text (page 26 of 37)