(1) Digges' Pref. letter to Dee's
Parallacticæ Commentationes, 1573 Aijv.
(2) An Astrological Discourse,
(3) E.g., Allen: The Star Crossed
Renaissance, p. 105, "Learned, unquestionably pious and
an experimenter of immense callidity, Dee was nonetheless ready
to be fed by the great for labours that were of a swindling nature."
There seem no grounds for this assertion, since Dee was almost
invariably one of the relatively larger financial losers in his
(4) Cp. Forman's Diaries.
Typical entries are: 1585, "This yere I began to practise
necromancy and to call angells and spirits"; 1590, "I
wrote a book of Nigromancy....At Alhallowtide I entred the cirkell
for nigromanticall spells" etc. (pp. 19, 21, ed. Halliwell,
(5) See Butler, The Myth of the
Magus, p. 121 et seq.
(6) Faust Book, Ch. I (Thomas:
Prose Romances, p. 188): "He could not abide to
be called Doctor of Divinity"; Foxe declared Dee a B.D.,
which title he never used, and by implication repudiated, it was
well known that although prepared to hold livings as an absentee
pluralist, Dee would take no active position of whatever degree
in the Church (vide infra. Ch. 4, p. 302-303, Ch. 6, p. 331).
(7) Preface Aijv, against
his "Fond Frendes" who, "because he (Dee) knoweth
more, than the common Student: (think) that therefore, he must
needes be skilfull and a doer in such matter and manner, as you
terme Conivring. Weening thereby, you advaunce his fame;
and that you make other men, greet marveilers of your hap, to
have such a learned friend. Cease to ascribe Impietie where you
(8) Lilly: Life and Times,
p. 98, tells of one John a Winder, a club-fisted scrivener, and
"a speculator" who "said he once visited Dr. Dee
in Mortlak and out of a Book that lay in the Window he
coppied out that Call which he used when he invocated."
The entire absence of concealment and suspicion on Dee's part,
that the anecdote reveals, would rather indicate the innocence
of the "book" and Dee's interpretation of its contents.
Many sought him out Dee told Burleigh, for aid in finding treasure
by divination or interpreting dreams and omens (Ellis: Original
letters, p. 36) vide infra Ch. 8.
(9) Works, vol. II, Christ's
Tears over Jerusalem, p. 172. Very few explicit accusations
of conjuring by Dee's contemporaries survive today, perhaps because
as would seem to be the case in the rumour-mongering Nashe refers
to, his superstitious traducers did not generally venture into
print. Such accusations as are still to be found (e.g., in Foxe,
Chamber, Carleton or in Leicester's Commonwealth) are cited
or discussed later. But it may be mentioned now that there seems
to be no evidence for the statement in William's History of
Radnorshire (1859) in which Dee appears under the name "the
learned John Du, Anglice Black Jack" and is said to
hvae been "mathematical instructor" to Queen Elizabeth
and "the counterpart of the celebrated Roger Bacon,"
that "Isaac Casaubon, prebendary of Canterbury, satirised
John Du in a doggerell poem entitled `A Dialogue between John
Du and the Devil,' which Du answered, and completely silenced
his opponent" (p. 164).
(10) Thus Florimond de Raemond, discussing
the liability of mathematicians to be thus falsely accused by
popular prejudice, records, after a lengthy defence of Sylvester
II (L'Antichrist, Lyons, 1597, Ch. 14, p. 204) "On
scait que de nostre temps, Ioannes Denis excellent Mathematicien,
a este contrainto se purger de pareille calomnie, comme on lut
dans sa deffence qu'el fit imprimer l'an 1570 ayant luy meme plaide
sa cause à Londres." The reference here is clearly
to Dee's "Digression Apologeticall" in the Euclid Preface
(Ajv et seq). The statement is repeated, Dee still disguised
as John Denis, in Naudé's Apology (p. 33).
(11) The Historie of Magick by
way of Apology for all the Wise Men who have unjustly been reputed
Magicians from the Creation to the present Age, trans. J.
Davies, 1657, Ch. V, p. 38. Also, Ch. XVII, p. 229. On Selden's
citations of Dee vide infra Ch. 8.
(12) R. Hollingworth: Mancuniensis.
Written in prison, last entry 1656, the year of his death, on
Dee, p. 96 et seq. He tells of an incident with Roger Cooke taken
verbatim from Dee's diary and his description of the Preface
here quoted is Dee's own from the Compendious Rehearsall.
Both were then in MS.
(13) Worthies, vol. II, p.
548. The books mentioned "De usu Globis," and "De
Nubium, Solis, Lunae..." are known only through Dee's mention
of them in the Compendious Rehearsall and his printed Aphorisms,
(14) On Arthur Dee. See Ch. III,
pp. 285-292; on Kelly, I, pp. 639-643.
(15) In an effort to save Dee's scientific
reputation, and quoting Dee's protestation to the Archbishop of
Canterbury that he had never meddled with unlawful arts or deviated
into practices unbecoming to a Christian, Hooke suggested to the
Royal Society that this "Rhapsody of incoherent and unintelligible
Whimsies of Prayers and Praises, Invocations and apparitions of
Spirits, strange Characters, uncouth and unintelligible Names,
Words and Sentences, the Relations of Incredible occurrences"
should be looked upon as a "concealed history" of art,
and nature and contemporary events, "designed to comprehend
another Meaning than what is plainly legible in the Words of it."
Trithemius' Steganographia he said, had been similarly
misunderstood. Unfortunately, any concrete proposals - if indeed
he made any - or clues towards its decoding, have not survived
(Posthumous Works, p. 204 et seq). Disraeli in the nineteenth
century mentions the intention of a contemporary to follow up
Hooke's suggestion and "decipher" the Work, but is sceptical
as to the possibility of success (Amenities of Literature,
III, p. 228).
(16) A True and Faithful Relation,
pp. 59, 25, 99.
(17) Hudibras, Canto 3. II.238-8;
cp. II, 631-634.
"Kelly did all his feats upon
The Devil's looking-glass, a stone,
Where playing with him at bo-peep
He solved all problems ne'er so
(18) Ibid II, 1553-1554.
(19) "They hold exact correspondence
with devils and can give a perfect account of their civil and
military discipline. All this they perform by virtue and dint
of Number, which they will have to run through the three
worlds, like a Ladder of Ropes, holding the same proportionin
them all, and the universal privilege of the Great Secret, which
they can prove to be the golden bough, that served Aeneas as a
pass to go to Hell with" (Characters, p. 102).
(20) Vitae Quorundum Eruditissimorum
et Illustrium Vivorum, 1707, Life of Dee, pp. 29, 38. (Some
of Smith's notes for this life containing a little supplementary
information still survive: Smith MS. 86, f. 97 et seq; Smith MS.
95 f. 131 et seq.) After Casaubon's publication it is rare to
meet such expressions of merely moderate and qualified disapproval
as Bishop Kennet (who was employed by Wood from about 1686 in
collecting materials for the Athenae Oxoniensis) extends
in his memorial of Dee. He merely says of him: "A very
learned man and perfect Master of Mathematical Studies, doubtless
he was a Man as Mr. Selden calls him `doctrina multijugi,'
yet with all so addicted to some over curious and uncertain Arts,"
though Kennet seems to deplore the fact that despite Dee's "apologies"
explicitly denying charges of conjuring he "yet was frequently
insulted and disquieted in his studies, and glad to go beyond
seas" (Landsdown MS. 983, f. 23). Smith's Life made
Casaubon's interpretation familiar on the continent, for the Vitae
were reviewed at length in the Acta Eruditorum 1707 (p.
145 et seq) which gave extracts from his account of Dee "aue
Lectorem juvare possent & delectare" (p. 147). A similar
article appeared in the Journal des Scarans, Aug. 1707,
pp. 297-309. Dee it describes as only famous for "la vaine
connaissance de l'Astrologie judiciare, pare les superstitions
de la Cabale, & par la recherche de la Pierre Philosophale."
(p. 304). In the Monas, "il debile toutes les reveries
des Cabalistes" (p. 305). He hoped with the assistance of
the spirits to become a second Mahomet (p. 307) etc.
(21) E.g., Lilly (Life and Times,
p. 100) tells the story, which he had from a clergyman who had
it from an old English merchant, that when Dee was living in the
Empire, a friar came to his door, who after two refusals said:
"Tell thy Master I came to speak with him to do him good
because he is a great Scholar and Famous, but now tell him, he
put forth a book and Dedicated it to the Emperor, its called Monas
Hieroglyphicus. He understood it not, I wrote it myself,
I came to instruct him therein and in some other more profound
things, do thou Kelly come along with me, I will make thee more
famous than thy Master Dee" - and Kelly obeying obtained
the Great Elixir. Apocryphal though most of this almost certainly
is, the "friar" probably did not lack historical prototypes.
(At the same time a tempting speculation suggests itself. There
is no record that Dee ever met Bruno, though Bruno was associated
when in England with many of Dee's closest connections, and had
lectured befored Laski; their respective journeyings on the continent
frequently coincide in place and time; Bruno's works of this period
have many close similarities with the Monas, which would
have leant itself admiraby to his particular exposition of the
symbol. Is there then possibly a kernel of truth in Lilly's story
referring to some encounter of these two, and offering a hint
as to what might be surmised to have passed at it?)
(22) Even Cooper in an admirable
biographical account of Dee (in 1858) and one very carefully documented,
can write that Dee believed he could commend spirits because he
held "the same ideas as the then obscure sect of Rosicrucians
some of whom he had perhaps encountered on his travels through
Germany." (Athenae Cantab. II, p. 500). It has been
a statement generally repeated by eighteenth century writers,
e.g., Granger (Biographical History I, 272; 1775) says
Dee was "strongly tinctured with the superstitions of the
Rosicrucians, and as great a dreamer as any of that fraternity."
(23) See F. Leigh Gardiner's Catalogue
Raisonné of Works on Occult Sciences, Vol. I. "Rosicrucianism,"
(24) Ashmole: Theatrum Chemicum
Brittanicum claims in his introduction (f. A2v) that in the
sixteenth century the Fratres cured the Duke of Norfolk of leprosy,
and one of them (a Dr. B.) twice "carried off the virulency
of the small pox" from Queen Elizabeth. A correspondent
of Ashmole's (Ashmole MS. 1446, f. 237), retailing gossip of Dee,
says that Zieglerus who was at Oxford in 1620, and is himself
one of the brotherhood, affirms, explicitly, Dee's membership.
(25) Add. MS. 6485. (It is of course a late copy even if not wholly an imposture; f1 is dated March 12, 1713.) There had been much interpolation if any of it is genuine, or else Dee has been confused with his son Arthur: a correspondence (f352 etc.) with Helvetius on transmutation is dated 1666 (Waite discusses this MS critically in the Biographical Preface to The Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly, pp. lxii-lxvi).
A similar attribution serving to
show how Dee was coming to be particularly regarded is that made
by Lhuyd in 1697 in his Cat. Lib. Man. Ang. et. Hib.,
p. 349, no. 8103; where he says that Dee is the reputed author
of a treatise Aurora Sapientiae (now Ashmole MS. 358 Item
2); a work "in which (according to its own title page) the
ground and key of all wisdome is laid open...in a new and true
tri-une wisdome, Physisophie, Theologie and Theosophie: tending
to the honour of God, the revelation of the true wisdome and to
the service of the Sixt Church at Philadelphia."
(26) Posterity of course owes a considerable
debt to Ashmole, whose assiduous collecting of materials concerning
Dee and works by him, has preserved much that might otherwise
have been irrevocably lost. He apparently intended a biographyof
Dee, though there is no evidence remaining that he ever actually
commenced it, for Sherburne in his Catalogue of Astronomers,
Ancient and Modern (appended to his translation of The
Sphere of Marcus Manilius 1675) concludes a brief notice of
Dee - described as a "Doctor of Physick" (p. 62) "A
farther Account of the Works and Writings of this Stupendious
Person the Reader may happily e're long meet with in his Life,
intended to be written (if Providence second his Design by my
worthy Friend Elias Ashmole Esquire, whose singular Affection
to Astronomical and Astrological Studies may justly
entitle him to a Place in this Catalogue." (Cp. Aubrey, Brief
Lives, ed. Clark, Vol. I, p. 33. A note of Ashmole's promise
to write lives of Dee, Napier, Dugdale and Lilly, "as he
told me formerly, but nowe he seems to falle".) It is nonetheless
unfortunate that Ashmole's interest was chiefly directed towards
Dee's spiritualistic activities, and to the mystical writings
"communicated" at his conferences; these last Ashmole
studied seriously and with great attention (e.g., vide
a note he appends to one: "I found out the Composition of
the Names of the Angells from these tables to be this..."
etc. Ashmole MS. 1790 f. 48v, dated 16th Aug., 1673). Continuity
of interest between Dee and his son Arthur in similar matters
is evidenced by Sloane MS. 1902; a notebook which was used by
each of them in turn. Its contents are largely directed to astrological
medicine, and horoscope information, there is also a treatise
in jargon: "Hermeticae Philosophiae Medulla" (14v-11v).
A uniform tone prevails clearly throughout though many entries
are later additions or supplementations by Arthur.
(27) Hearne: Johannis...Glastoniensis
Chronica, vol. 2, p. 490 et seq. (reviewed with an account
of Dee in Acta Eruditorum, 1729, p. 181 et seq). It is
probably because Dee had become a relatively familiar figure as
a result of Hearne's publication that Tanner, although listing
selected titles from Dee's works, gives no biographical summary
such as most other writers receive in his Bib. Brit.-Hib.,
1748 (pp. 223-3).
(28) Letters written by Eminent
Persons, Vol. II, pt. 1, pp. 91-92. Ballard to Hearne, 15
(29) Biog. Brit., 2nd ed.,
1793, Vol. 5, pp. 32, 37. The article is a revision of that which
appeared in the first edition, Vol. III, 1750, pp. 1633-1645;
the tone is unchanged.
(30) Environs of London, 1792,
Vol. I, p. 383. Nash, following Granger's Biographical History,
I, pp. 272-274, declares Dee "a man of extensive learning
particularly in the mathematics, but vain, credulous and Enthusiastic;
a great Astrologist and Rosicrucian...He appears to be by turns
a dupe and a cheat" (Collections for the History of Worcestershire,
1781/1782, Vol. II, p. 446).
(31) Mémoires, 1729,
Vol. I, p. 359.
(32) Geschichte der Menschlichen
Narrheit, 1785/1786, Vol. 7, p. 73. (The Dee legend seems
to have undergone some independent elaboration in Germany in this
century; a fairly full, but not over accurate account - Arthur's
Fasciculus Chemicus is ascribed to Dee for instance - of
him in Jöcher's Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexican, Leipsig,
1750, Vol. II, cols. 64-65, declares "Sonst wurde er auch
der Magie beschuldiget; wie man denn viel processus Magicos
unter seinen Schrifften gefunden, er sich auch geruhmet haben
soll, dass er allzeit seinen Genium vor sich gesehn, welcher in
seiner Abwesenheit an seiner Stelle studirt; aber auch, wenn er
ihn caressirt und auf die Achsel geklopft, wieder aufgestanden
und ihm Platz gemacht."
(33) E.g., a black shewstone (Provenance
and history given Cooper Ath. Cantab., II, p. 510), and
a cabalistic bracelet, described in the prizewinning "note"
in Connoisseur (vol. 60, 1924, July, pp. 161-163, Dr.
Dee's Cabalistic Bracelet, Constance Russell, Lady Russell
of Swallowfield), it has as pendants a dried nut and some brown
pebbles, the authoress claims it was worn by Elizabeth, on Dee's
prescription as a cure for rheumatism and that (p. 162) "These
`toadstones' were given to Dee by his friend and fellow worker
Albertus Magnus [sic!], the celebrated alchemist, who said that
they always bore a figure resembling that of a toad on the surface
at the time it [sic] was taken out of the toads head." (p.
162) Again Rawlinson despatched, as a considerable curio, to
Mr. Oliver of the public library in Oxford in 1750, a marble table
that Dee had used in conjurations, that had passed through the
hand of the alchemist Lilly (Letter of Feb. 6th, 1749/1750, Rawlinson
MS. C.989 f. 137v). Dee's original table had long been known,
see Ashmole's note "The dimensions of Dr. Dee's Holy Table
preserved in Sr. John Cotton's library" Ashmole MS. 1790
55r-v. Rawlinson's is perhaps therefore under some suspicion
of being one of those conveniently "discovered" objects,
which appear as though created by it, in the presence of a demand
for them. V. infra A-47.
(34) Vol. 84 (2). July/Dec. 1814:
Crepandia Literaria auctore V.C. no. 1, pp. 207-208.
(35) Godwin: Lives, p. 376 et seq. (Standard reference works of biography available to Godwin of course still largely exemplified the 18th century attitude, usually closely following Kippis' Biog. Britt., e.g., Robert Welt's Bibliotheca Britannica, 1824, on Dee: "a great mathematician and greater Enthusiast," Vol. I, col 296f-v.) Roby: Traditions, 2nd ed., 1830, Ser. 1, Vol. I, pp. 237-331. He professes to base himself on the original sources and authentic materials, and to rescue Dee's true character from his slanderers, "An enthusiast he undoubtedly was, but not the drivelling dotard that some of his biographers imagine." (p. 289) His moral is nonetheless identical with Casaubons; Dee was "prompted to unhallowed intercourse by pride and ambition," "His grasp was greater than his power and he fell like heroes and conquerors in all ages, overwhelmed with the vastness of his own conceptions," "He aimed at universal knowledge and exhaustless riches; but he died imbecile and a beggar" (pp. 289-290). This initial discussion is followed by a highly coloured story (pp. 299-331), in which copious extracts from the T.F.R. are converted into dialogue, to give an air of authenticity, but which in outline is frankly based on "tradition" ("It is not our intention to spoil a good story by rejecting what we cannot verify" p. 298) in which it is said Dee's "predictions at one period astonished Europe," and such descriptions abound as "his presence [was] like some portentous comet, threatening war and disaster, perplexing even emperors and princes and filling them with apprehension and dismay" (p. 300).
D'Israeli, Amenities, Vol.
III, pp. 289-229 ("The Occult Philosopher Dr. Dee").
"The Magical part of The Tempest" Warton has
observed, "is founded on that sort of philosophy which was
peculiar to John Dee and his associates, and has been called the
Rosicrucian" (p. 190), the account is in general not over
accurate (Elizabeth "at all times promptly supplied the wants
of her careless and dreamy sage" p. 191) and Dee's career
is explained in terms of his age - of which it is said "At
the dawn of philosophy its dreams were not yet dispersed, and
philosophers were often in peril of being as imaginative as posts"
(p. 189) - and a personal temperament, in which "wild enthusiasm"
is said to be mingled with "an inextinguishable ambition
to fix the admiration of the world" (p. 191). The account
in Dibdin's Bibliomania (rev. ed. 1842), summarised from
the materials printed by Hearne, is similar in tone. "The
renowned Dr. JOHN DEE" declares Dibdin "...was really
the weakest as well as the ablest scholar and philosopher of his
day," and he pictures him "in his conjuring cap and
robes...pronouncing himself with the most heartfelt complacency,
the greatest genius of the age," with his distraught wife
"beseeching him to burn his books and instruments, and reminding
him that there was neither a silver spoon, nor a loaf of bread,
in the cupboard." (pp. 261-265)
(36) Bentham, Works, ed. J.
Bowring, Vol. 8, p. 78, Edinburgh, 1843.
(37) Original Letters of Eminent
Men, Camden Soc. 1843, p. 5. Halliwell in his edition of the
Diaries, seeking to refer his readers to a reliable account
of Dee, praised D'Israeli as supplying "a correct and able
view of his character" (Introduction p. VIII). I.G. Nichols
(A Descriptive Catalogue of the Works of the Camden Society,
1862, pp. 16-17) classes Dee with Forman, and speaks of him as
"this somewhat charlatanical philosopher," whose chief
interest lies in the curious intercourse he was able to maintain
with eminent persons at Elizabeth's court.
(38) Thus Wright's Narratives
of Sorcery and Magic, 1851, entitles a chapter "The English
Magicians: Dr. Dee and his followers" (Vol. I, ch. 12, p.
226) and Sir Samuel Meyrick in a note on Dee (Heraldic Visitations
of Wales, 1846, Vol. I, p. 168) declared: "He did actually
after this (1583) practice necromancy, and disgusted foreign courts,
to which he travelled, with his absurdities, so that the Queen
sent for him to return."
(39) Before this date, notices of
Dee might occasionally be met with that do not contain any accusations
of necromancy, charlatanry or folly - e.g., R.A. Davenport's brief
account in A Dictionary of Biography, 1831, which merely
pays tribute to Dee's "undoubted talents and learning"
(p. 219), the massing mention of Dee in Scott's Demonology
and Witchcraft, 1831, as "an excellent mathematician"
who possessed a crystal, "and is said to have been
imposed upon concerning the spirits attached to it." (p.
339) After 1840 it is difficult to find a single such instance.
(40) See his account of Dee in a
section on "The Order of the Illuminati" in A New
and Complete Illustrationof the Celestial Science of Astrology,
Vol. II, pt. IV, p. 1099 et seq, 1810. (He declares for example,
that Dee "wrote the mathematical preface to Euclid's Elements,
and has left tables of the harmony and extent of numbers infinitely
beyond the capacity of the present times though so much more learned
(41) Of Dee's astrology it is said
"So accurate were his calculations esteemed, that he was
universally consulted as an oracle"; he boasts "I have
a magic glass in which with due preparation you may behold exact
representations of coming events," and makes good his words;
he threatens Fawkes whom he has fastened to the spot with his
powder, "Were it my pleasure, I could bury you twenty fathoms
deep in the earth beneath our feet; or by invoking certain spirits,
convey you to the summit of yon lofty tower," pointing to
the church "and hurl you from it headlong." (Guy
Fawkes, pp. 58, 56, 51.) It may be added that Kelly is of
course a co-actor in all these events, he is the indispensable
assistant for Dee presented as Wizard, though he had of course
died many years before the period Ainsworth's novel described.
(42) Guy Fawkes, facing p.
50. It is inspired by a similar plate designed by Sibley (it
is inscribed "Sibley del. Ames Sculp."), which appears
in his New and Complete Illustration....p. 1106, though
here Dee is not specifically identified as the figure accompanying
Kelly. For the seventeenth century literary suggestions for this
legend, and the later treatment of the illustration as an historical
document vide infra. ch. II, n. 131.
(43) Vol. III, p. 120.
(44) This nonsensical fabrication informed the populace that "the measure of your sins is full," the city would fall ("perhaps you'll soon be stiff and cold"),
"In the year one eight and fourty two
Of the year that is so new,
In the third month, of that sixteen
It may be a day or two between," (!)
ending "The mighty kingly proud
shall see/This comes to pass as my name's Dee." An anonymous
contemporary description of the events that followed (The Earthquake
in London, 1842, which is also the source of the text) records,
"Some have actually given up valuable situations and left
the city, others have departed only making the most hasty preparations
for their future welfare, and numbers have made a temporary removal,
having a slight hope that their habitations may pass uninjured
among the general confusion, but not desiring to risk their life
and persons upon the chance of being preserved, whether through
the failure of the predictions, or by any providential means of
escape which might be open to them upon the eventful crisis."
(This report seems less incredible than at first might be judged
in the light of several similar occurences in the nineteenth century,
as, for example, the furore over the Mother Shipton prophecies,
issued in 1862, as "strangely preserved amongst other writings
belonging to an old monastery in Yorkshire," and which Charles
Hindley confessed to forging in 1874 (see N.Q. Series IV, Vol.
II, p. 365). These had predicted (N.Q. IV, 10, 450) along with
much that could be seen to have been "fulfilled" since
their supposed date of composition, the end of the world as due
in 1881, and had been countenanced by such journals as the Christian
Globe and Christian World; the editor of the latter
professing to remember having heard as a child these same recently
fabricated verses (see The Shield of Faith, No. 17, Vol.
2, May 1878, pp. 65-66).
(45) Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine,
May 1842, Vol. 51, pp. 626-629. "John Dee" No. 4 in
series "Things of the Day." The article begins "The
late intended earthquake, which has been put off for the purpose
of giving precedence to Sir Robert Peel's income tax, a much more
formidable shaker of the island than any blowing up of the central
gasworks of the globe, has renewed the name and fame of Dr. Dee."
Its considered verdict is that Dee "was really a very clever
fellow, and if he had not adopted a trade in which cleverness
and knavery always go together, he might have been one of the
luminaries of England." (p. 626)
(46) The Predicted Plague, 1900, compiled by "Hippocrates Junior." This very silly book informs us that Dee possessed a mechanical owl, jay and raven all four times as large as life (p. 316), and credits (?) him with an intimacy with Simon Forman, who it affirms resided at Mortlake, and used to go by boat down the river with Dee to witness Shakespeare's plays (p. 403). There is, it is perhaps needless to add, no evidence of any association of Dee and this sinister quack.
It is to be deplored that Tennison has recently accepted the claims of this work and quoted from its contents as a genuine work of Dee's (Elizabethan England, Vol. VIII, 1947, pp. 233-235, the additional reference to Archaeologia XIII here is somewhat misleading as the sixteenth century dietary there reprinted does not even pretend to have any connection with Dee).
(47) But Barret had stated as early as 1801 (The Celestial Intelligencer, p. 196) that "although Dee's manuscripts and his Magic Crystall are to be seen at the Museum there are six or seven individuals in London who assert they have the stone in their possession; thereby wishing to deceive the incredulous and to tempt them to purchase at an enormous price."
On Morrison see account in N.Q.
1874, 5th Ser. Vol. II, pp. 86, 376. He gained a favourable verdict
in an action for libel he brought against an Admiral Belcher who
had merely described him as an imposter. During this cause celebre
of 1874 "Dee's crystal" was produced, and it was claimed
that by its means Dee had revealed the gunpowder plot to James
- an incident it was said commemorated in an illustration in a
prayer book issued by Baskett in 1737. Actually the engraving
in question (included in several editions of the Book of Common
Prayer issued by this licensed printer) is purely allegorical
- it shows God revealing treason in a mirror - but the claim is
perhaps an echo of that tradition, already recorded by Aubrey,
that Dee, by his secret arts, had forewarned Elizabeth of Lopez'
projected attempt on her life (Ashmole MS. 1788 f.50). The immediate
source for the story and perhaps only one in which this incident
explicitly occurs was Ainsworth's Guy Fawkes in which Dee
is made to declare (p. 318), "The conspiracy was first revealed
to me by the Earl of Salisbury, though for his own purposes he
kept it secret to the last. He owes me a heavy debt...."
This seems to be Ainsworth's invention probably developed from
a vague anecdote in Sibley that Dee "having by means of his
confederacy with spirits foretold and detected a fatal conspiracy,
he was then as much honoured and caressed as he had before been
stigmatised and abused by the hasty multitude." (A New
and Complete Illustration, 4, p. 1099.)
(48) Thus Brayley (in A Topographical
History of Surrey, 1850, Vol. 3, p. 470) though describing
him as "one of the most celebrated cultivators of Natural
Philosophy inthe sixteenth century," continues "but
he lived extravagantly...It is to be lamented that on many occasions
Dr. Dee stooped to arts of imposture and deceit in order to increase
his fame and obtain money." It is difficult to find any
much more indulgent comment than Dugdale's, to whom Dee was "distinguished
for his pretensions to magic and astrology," but who admits
"Dee unlike Kelly did not seek to amass wealth. He was rather
ostentatious than covetous and there was a spice of honesty in
his composition" (England and Wales Delineated, 1858,
Vol. 2, p. 1218).
(49) "Modern Magic" in
All the Year Round, July 28th, 1860, Vol. III, pp. 370-374.
The article sets out to stress the contemporary dresses, diction
and opinions of Dee's "angels" to justify the ironic
conclusion (p. 471): "We should not have such a spirit now;
neither would our little Madimi say that she would be beaten.
Earthly times and manners have changed; consequently the spiritual
and heavenly times and manners have changed with them." (The
article is anonymous, but the tone is that of Dickens, he was
much occupied with the subject of spiritualism at this period,
he was conducting, All the Year Round himself and several
pieces of information here are said to have been supplied to the
writer by the son of the conductor of this journal.")
(50) Scientific Studies, or Practical
in contrast with Chimerical Pursuits...Preface IV. French
critics of the period follow the same line Brunet merely calls
him "visionnaire et alchimiste"; commenting of his work
"L'exaltation de sa tête et la volenté d'acquévir
de la réputation le menèrent à étudier
avec ardear l'astrologie et la cabale" (Nouvelle Biog.
Gen., 1855, Vol. XII, p. 347). Delaulnaye declared that Dee
"peut être rangé dans la même classe que
Borri et Cagliostro," and speaks of Kelly's six MS volumes
called "Conferences avec Bélzebuth" surviving
at Oxford. Biog. Universelle, 1852, Vol. X, pp. 267.
(51) Romantic Biography, 1842,
Vol. I, p. 379. The tone is clear as he goes on to declare Dee
to have been the son of "a respectable vintner," yet
to have pretended to be descended from Roderick the Great, while
"perhaps from some fancied connection with the rulers of
Algiers; he for a time, wrote himself Dey instead of Dee."
Nevertheless this work was taken very seriously and Canon Raines
cites it several times as authoritative in his account of Dee
in The Rectors of Manchester (Chetham, Soc. N.S. 6, 1885,
Vol. 2, p. 101-112).
(52) G.M. Hort's: Dr. John Dee
Elizabethan Mystic and Astrologer, 1922 ("Mystics and
Occultists" series) belongs to this tradition, though more
factually reliable and critically intelligent than others of the
kind. In France, Grillot de Giury issued a translation of Dee's
Monas from this standpoint, and translated passages of
the T.F.R. for his "Anthologie de l'Occultism," he treats
Dee as magician and cabalist in La Museé des Sorciers,
1920 (174 et seq, 220 et seq). A. Poisson, a student of similar
matters, also had apparently considerable interest in Dee. (An
MS biography by him in French, in the possession of the Welcome
Library, turns out on examination to be however, only a translation
of Thomas Smith's Latin Life, with some extracts from Casaubon
appended.) In Germany Dee has been made the protagonist of a
lengthy occult novel by Gustav Meyrink (Der Engel des Westlichen
Fenster, Leipzig, 1927) in which he is entitled Sir John Dee,
Baronet of Gladhall, and his secret life is reconstructed with
the aid of a trunk full of old papers, and much crystal gazingg
by a narrator who is at once Dee's descendant and reincarnation!
(53) In Tycho Brahe: Opera Omnia,
ed. J.L.E. Dreyer, Vol. 111 (1916), p. 400 note.
(54) Charlotte Fell Smith, John Dee, London, 1909. The material in it is very largely taken from the printed biographical tracts and diaries, and Casaubon's True and Faithful Relation. Dee's life and writings to the beginningof his occult period (1528-1581) receive 59 pages, this period until his return to England in 1589 extends from p. 59 to p. 225. From then to his death in 1608, a period in which he produced little or nothing but which is covered by the diaries etc., occupied the rest of the book (up to p. 307).
The groundwork for such a biography
had been laid in 1858 by Cooper in his admirable account of Dee
in Athenae Cantabrigiensis, which gathered together most
of the information then available concerning him, with an extensive
bibliography. Indeed, Miss Fell Smith's biography adds very little
to what may be found there.
(55) Edward Thompson, Sir Walter Raleigh, 1935, p. 68 (which is a scholarly, comprehensively documented study in other respects).
Again, an article of K. Maynard's (Science in Early English Literature, Isis XVII, 1932, pp. 94-127) accepting uncritically information in de Morgan's article in the Companion to the Almanac, 1837, declares that Dee "who in advance of his time could rise to the demands of the new astronomy is said to have persuaded himself and others that he dealt with evil spirits. Certain it is that he made his livelihood as a necromancer, magician and astrologer." (p. 107)
Similarly, the only mention of Dee
in F. Smith's extensive History of Modern Culture, Vol.
I (1543-1687), 1930 is (after some jokes have already been made
at Cardan's expense, apropos of his astrological interests):
"Another famous stargazer, John Dee, enjoyed a high reputation,
until his discovery that the stars ordained one of his disciples
to change wives with him cast some doubts on his good faith."
(p. 427) The tone prevailing in standard popular directories
is therefore not surprising (e.g., the entry in The Concise
Universal Biography, ed. Hammerton, 1934, I, p. 490, which
though of some length, Dee receives more than three times as much
space as J.W.R. Dedekind, who here immediately precedes him -
categorises him as "English Necromancer" and continues
in the same vein: "He experimented in alchemy and astrology
and was generally denounced for holding intercourse with the devil.
He was imprisoned for bewitching Queen Mary" etc., etc.).
Again, the most recent notice of Dee, apart from abounding inaccuracies
- mistakes in copying from secondary sources? - is chiefly a retelling
of his occult adventures from the T.F.R. - Luigi Firpo's John
Dee, Scienzioto, Negromonz et Avuenutiero, 1952, pp. 25-84.
(56) Especially Johnson, Astronomical Thought in Renaissance England, 1937, p. 135 et seq; and passim.
Taylor, Tudor Geography, 1930, pp. 75-140.