(1) Primary, printed sources readily accessible, for the events of Dee's life, are his Compendious Rehearsall, hereafter abreviated to C.R. in the notes (on which see Ch. X, p. 4, et seq.) included in Autobiographical Tracts of Dr. John Dee, ed. James Crossley for the Chetham Society, 1851, and the Diaries (on which see Ch. VIII, p. 682 et seq.) (ed. Halliwell, 1842, Camden Society, pub. XIX, from 1577-1601; ed. J.E. Bailey, 1880; from 1595).
Minor facts taken from these have not in general been given specific
reference, except where a direct quotation has been made. The
sources are indicated of all other biographical details introduced.
(2) Horoscope Sloane MS. 1782, f. 31. Also, Ashmole MS. 1788,
f. 136 (a more detailed scheme). These dispose of the various
other suggestions made as to Dee's birthplace (e.g., Dugdale,
England and Wales, p. 1479, declared it to be Upton-under-Severn;
J. Williams, History of Radnorshire, p. 164, the parish
of Bugaild in that county. See N.Q. 7th Ser. I, p. 127, 1886).
(3) Dee in financial straits wrote to Burleigh in 1574, that he had long expected to receive a revenue by the grace of the Queen or Privy Council "which both right well knew, by how hard dealing my father Roland Dee (servant to her Majestie's father, the most renowned and triumphant king of our age) was disabled for leaving unto me due mayntenance." (Ellis, Original Letters, p. 34.) Strype's statement to the same effect (Annals, Vol. II, pt. 1, p.520-521) is based on this same letter.
The tradition sometimes followed, that Dee's father was "a
respectable vintner in London" (Cooke Taylor, Romantic
Biography, 1842, i. 379; Meyrick, Heraldic Visitations,
1846, i. 167, "a vintner in London in good circumstances";
Cunningham, Lives, 1838, ii. 281, "generally stated
to have been a vintner"; Delaulnaye, Biog. Universelle,
1852, X, p. 267; N.Q. 5th Ser. ii, p. 376, 1874) would appear
to be baseless, though it can be traced back to statements of
Wood, Aubrey, and Ashmole (e.g., Brief Lives, ed. Clark,
Vol. I, p. 211). (Confusion has probably arisen by mistakenly
interpreting references to Dee's grandson Rowland who had a shop
in Butter Court, Lombard Street; letter of Arthur Dee, 1649, Ashmole
MS., 1790, f. 66r.) Dee's father besides holding this position
at court was, however, also a mercer. There is a grant to him
from Henry VIII of 3rd May, 1544 (Letters and Papers Foreign
and Domestic VIII, ed. Gairdner, 1903, Vol. XIX, Pt. I, p.
371, Doc. 610, No. 7) which after a preamble setting out the losses
suffered by the King's customs by negligence of the common packers
in the city appoints Rowland to be one of the two packers of all
merchandise in London and its suburbs to be conveyed beyond sea;
to receive a moiety of the fees and meet a moiety of the charges
(the other moiety was the concern of the packer appointed by the
Lord Mayor). He is invested with authority to untruss and ransack
any consignment not packed in his presence. A further grant was
made in October the same year jointly to thirty-six persons, one
of which was Rowland Dee of lands formerly belonging to the Monastery
of St. James, Northampton (Ibid, XIX, pt. 2, p. 317, Doc. 527,
No. 30), and a further grant "for services to the King and
to Henry VIII, was made 1st Feb. 1550 by Ed. VI concerning these
same properties to Rowland Dee and twenty eight others all byt
two described as `mercers'" (Calendar Patent Rolls of
P.R.O. Ed. VI, Vol. III, p. 201, London, 1925). Lysens (Environs
of London, 1792, Vol. I, p. 377) declared that Dee's father
was imprisoned in the tower in 1553; this is probably accurate
and not a mistake for Dee himself, who had been seized at this
date on charges of conjuring and heresy (vide infra Ch. 4), as
has been suggested, as a pardon for "Rowland Dee of London"
was granted 18th December, 1554 (Calendar of Patent Rolls,
Philip and Mary, Vol. I, London, 1937, Pardons Roll I, Suppl.
Patent Rolls, 635, p. 424). This is the latest piece of information
that survives concerning him.
(4) She was heiress to William Wild (Dee's Pedigree Harleiam MS.
5835 f. 4-6). Marginalia by Dee in books from his library now
in the possession of the Royal College of Physicians supply on
a few points in a little additional information on his life and
views, though unfortunately sometimes in part now illegible. On
the errata page of Cardan's Libelli Quinqz he has written
"Anno 1509 vel 1508 on....21 October my mother was born to
whom I am very like in...having my...And she was married 1524"
(the titles of a dozen such autographed volumes are reproduced
in N.Q. 9th Ser. VIII, p. 177, where a few of Dee's notes, including
the present one, are reproduced).
(5) Cotton Charter, XIV f.l. (see also Chapter XIII, f.38, and
Burleigh's epitome, Landsdown MS. 94, Art 51) Dee's autograph
pedigree (cited previous note) traces his descent through his
grandfather Bedo Dee, the royal standard bearer, back to "Tewder,
King of South Wales," and "Orwen Prince of all Wales"
etc. J.D. Rhys, who interrupts a discussion of the correct orthography
and etymology of some Welsh surnames to insert an encomium on
Dee, writes "Juxta Crucis Amnem (NANTY GROES) in agro Maessyuetiano
apud Oabrobrytannos, erat olim illustris quaedam Nigrorum Familia;
undè IOAN DV, id est IOANNES ille Cognomento NIGER Loniniensis
sui generis ortum traxit" (Cambrobytannicae cymraecaeve
linguae institutiones, 1592, p. 60) (Dee's own descendants
appear in a pedigress supplied by his grandson Rowland, on which
appear eight children of Dee's, twelve of his eldest son Arthur's,
and seven of Rowland's--most of them merchants, several in Russia
or Holland. Rawlinson's MS. D. 923, f.51). On Dee's descendants
see also Fell Smith, John Dee, appendix I, p. 308 et seq,
and on the family generally, A genealogical account of some
of the families derived from Bedo Dee, 1815, which is an extract
from Wilson's History of the Merchant Taylor's School,
1812 and 1814, where a little more information is given and where
the subject is explored because Francis Dee Bishop of Peterborough,
the son of either a brother or cousin of John Dee (p. 1168) endowed
a scholarship to Johns, Cambridge, for such of his kin as should
thereafter attend this school.
(6) C.R. Ch. I, pp. 4-5 (Philemon Holland was also at school there.
The present Grammar Free School at Chelmsford was not founded
however until 1552 by Edward VI (see Carlisle, Description
of Endowed Grammar Schools, pp. 411-414).
(7) Vide Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, Vol. I, p. 375.
(8) The material in the preceding paragraph is largely summarised
from Rouse Ball's A short Account of the History of Mathematics,
and the same author's History of the Study of Mathematics at
Cambridge. On the Wolsey lectureships and Kratzer see Wood,
Annals II, 2, p.834 et seq.
(9) Vide infra Ch. 4, p.303 et seq.
(10) A letter of Ascham's to Edward Raven from London, dated only
17th Sept., but written, as may be deduced from its contents and
other dated letters it connects with, in 1550, just before Ascham's
departure for Germany, continues after the salutation "Quanquam
Ioan. Daeus noster instar multaram literarum esse potest, tame
cum sciam quam charae tibi nostrae literae sunt, nolui committere,
ut tam idoneus nuncius sine meis ad te litenis Cantabrigiam profisceretur."
(Familiarum Epistolarum libri tres, 1590, p. 206.) A letter
of Joannes Metellus to Ascham, undated, but placed among some
other letters of 1568, though it is possibly much earlier, regrets
that he has not been in direct touch with Ascham for so long,
"amo enim praeclaras virtutes tuas supra modum, easque dum
vixero colam. Quo fit, ut saepe de te quesierim: cum multi tamen
testarentur, te, Regia excessise, atque studiorum tuorum causa,
privatam vitam ager. Nam & hoc Joan. Dius vester affirmavit.
Gaudeo igitur, te non degere, ut narrabant, in obscuris locis,
sed eadem in statu, quo apad Mariam Reginam permansisse."
The surprise evidenced that Dee brought such a report perhaps
indicates an ascription to Dee of some intimacy with Ascham. The
report perhaps referred tothe situation that arose, when Ascham,
who had an invariable, overwhelming preference for university
life, left Elizabeth to whom he had been appointed tutor in 1548,
and returned to Cambridge, he incurred her disfavour by so doing
but was recalled to her service on her accession.
(11) Mulcaster, Positions, 1581, Ch. III, p. 240-241.
(12) T. Smith Vita, p. 3.
(13) C.R. Ch. I, p. 5. The normal routine for students may be
gathered from the Trinity statutes 1546, they rose at 4.30, chapel
was at 5, lectures were given in college until 9, and afterwards
lectures and disputations in the public schools until dinner at
11, from 1-3 further attendance at the schools; recreation was
then allowed until supper at 6, after which students immediately
retired to their chambers. Dee must have worked on until midnight
to fulfil his programme. Dee's account brings forcibly to mind,
by contrast, Gabriel Harvey's judgment on the amount of time necessary
to master the available modern knowledge of the subjects in which
Dee was chiefly interested: "Any art or science, liberal
or mechanical, may be lernid for ordinary talke in three dayes;
for use practise and profession in six: any languages to understand
in six: to speake and write in twelve: my Brother Jon did lerne
to Domify, per se, in two or three howers, ye urinal in a few
more. Many such pragmaticall feats presently gotten." (Marginalia,
(14) Rabelais, Pantagruel, 1532, Ch. 8, Urquhart trans.
(15) Dee never figures as one of the notable "Graecians"
of the day such as Cheke or Ascham. What little evidence exists
does not imply any deep scholarship in this respect, though he
seems to have contributed a great deal to the very fine translation
of Euclid made from the Greek text and not as was usual from Campanas'
"Latin version which appeared under Billingsley's name in
1570. The contents of his vast library, as regards many subjects
so exhaustively complete, only very inadequately reflected in
its limited collection of literary texts and commentaries, the
"humanist" aspects of contemporary classicism. He was
fond, it is true, of introducing Greek words or phrases into his
works, or supplying them with Greek titles. Such surviving works
in parallel Greek and Latin versions, as he once owned, seem generally,
from underlinings etc., to have been read by him in the Latin
and annotated in that language (though his copy of the Edito Princeps
of Arrieus' Periplus of 1553, he had worked carefully through,
probably on more than one occasion as his many underlinings and
comments reveal. The work is preserved in Chetham Library, Manchester.
See Bailey in The Bibliographer, I, 1882, pp. 72-74. Casaubon
pointed out that Dee passes without remark the very ungrammatical
Greek in which the angelic communications were sometimes delivered
by Kelly. However, St. John's under Cheke's particular patronage,
had become at this time a centre of Greek studies, and championed
Cheke's system of reformed pronunciation for which Ascham became
one of the most prominent advocates. The controversy this aroused--and
partisanship here seems to have become accepted as merely the
external badge, or shibboleth, serving to indicate position as
regards a more radical cleavage that separated the "modern"
innovators from the more conservative academics--was still raging
at the time of Dee's readership in Greek. (The new pronunciation
had been publicly prohibited by the Chancellor, Bishop Gardiner,
in 1542, but apparently ineffectively as he continued to thunder
against it in directives to the authorities in subsequent years.
Accounts of the dispute are given by Strype in his Lives
of Cheke, and Smith, and a summary in Cooper's Annals,
Vol. I, p. 401 et seq.) The performance of Plutus in St.
John's in 1536 was arranged by the advocates of the reformed pronunciation,
and the tradition of Greek plays, one of which Dee "set forth"
seems to be not unconnected with the dispute.
(16) Preface. Ajr. Dee defines it as "that Art Mathematicall,
which giveth certaine order to make straunge workes, of the sense
to be perceived, and of men greatly to be wondred at." His
account of what it performs leads straight on into the "Digression
Apologeticall," which opens (Ajv) "And for these, and
such like marveilous Actes and Feates, Naturally, Mathematically,
and Mechanically, wrought and contrived: ought any honest Student,
and Modest Christian Philosopher, be counted and called a Coniurer?"
(17) De Occ. Phil., lib. II, Cap. 11. Similarly a century
later, Wilkins entitles his work: Mathematical Magicke.
(18) Scenes and Machines of the English Stage, p. 87. That
Dee's college, St. Johns, was in the habit of exhibiting sumptuous
and elaborate performances, seems indicated by one of Ascham's
"Epistles" of about 1550 (quoted Campbell in this same
passage) which asserts "that the city of Antwerp exceeds
all other cities as the refectory of St. Johns Hall, Cambridge
exceeds itself when furnished at Christmass, with its theatrical
apparatus for acting plays."
(19) C.R. p. 6. The Christmas Lord was an ancient custom. The
original draft of Trinity Statutes have however one chapter entitled
"De Praefecto Iudorum qui Imperator dicitur."
His functions were to govern the whole society in hall or chapel,
as a republic in his charge, according to a set of laws he ws
to draw up in Latin or Greek verse, during the twelve days of
Christmas. He was to be responsible for presenting Latin tragedies
and comedies, and six "Spectacula" or as many dialogues.
(See Cooper, Annals, Vol. II, p. 112, n.1.) (The list of
the original fellows of Trinity including Dee, is given in a document
on the foundation listed in Letters and Papers....of Henry
VIII, Vol. XXL, pt. 2, London, 1910, p. 340, Doc. 448, No.
(20) C.R. p. 5. Visits abroad for such purposes would seem to
have been encouraged by the English Universities. Cheke received
an exhibition from Henry VIII to pay for any foreign travel he
might think it necessary to make.
(21) Grace Book ed. Venn (Records of the University, 1542-89),
p. 51. All other M.A.'s of 1547-1548, and as a general rule, were
granted 9 terms after B.A. Dee is granted one, having studied
for only six terms, "Sic ut eius admissio stet pro completis
gradu et forma sine vlteriori visitacione et non sit in preiuditium
magistri Nevynson" (Dee's B.A. had followed after the usual
twelve terms of lectures and disputations 1545-1546, Ibid. p.
31). A dispute over seniority seems to have arisen with this Nevynson--who
received his B.A. a year prior to Dee, and his M.A. at the same
time (he later became a Doctor of Laws, 1552-1553)--as a Memoranda
of April 24, 1548 decrees "quod Magister Dee de collegio
Trinitatis actu in artibus professor cederet magistro Nevynson
de eadem collegio inceptori in artibus et nullam omnino vindicaret
senioritatem de ills infra universitatem" (Ibid p. 48). A
list of regents for the year, in column, probably taken fromthe
M.A. lists which were usually regarded--though not invariably
so--as indicating order of merit, leads off with the names Nevynson,
Dee, Coren, Lodge...(Ibid, p. 51). (Dee should not be confused
with the Doctor Deius, some of whose functions and privileges,
a grace passed to Ascham in this year--Ibid, p. 53--this is probably
George Day D.D., Master of Johns, who preceded Ascham as public
(22) C.R. p. 6. Dee kept himself apart from the English universities
for the rest of his life, refusing all offers of positions there;
feeling perhaps, that they were uncongenial to his own particular
interests both scientific and philosophical. His dislike of them
may have been of the same order as Bruno's, who, in a statement
admitting that they were not tied to Aristotelianism, manages
nevertheless to convey his low opinion of them generally: "There
are three fountains in the University, to one of which they have
attached the name Fons Aristotelis, and the other two they call
Fons Pytagore and Fons Platonis. From these three wells (at which
horses and cattle come to drink) they draw water to make beer"
(De la Causa, Principia et Uno, Dialogue 1). But adepts
in those studies that largely occupied Dee, and on which he set
high value, were traditionally supposed to be hostile to prevailing
academic life and instruction; thus Butler says of the Hermetic
Philosopher, "he believes a scholar can no more live in the
university than a serpent in Ireland" (Characters,
(23) In 1563 Eliz. State Papers, Vol. XXVII, no. 63 (vide infra
Ch. 6, n. 24).
(24) Gabriel Harvey writing humorously to Spenser on his lack
of qualifications for delivering a philosophical ovation, writes:
"but would to God in heaven I had a while for their [his
auditors] sake the profound learning of Mr. Duffington the
mysticall and supermetaphysicall philosophy of Doctor Dee,
the rowling tongue...of Mr. Williamson our fine Cambridge barber...the
trim lattin phrases and witty proverbes of him that built Caius
College." (Letter Book, p. 71.) This is of course
in 1579, but it is perhaps relevant to cite it here as all Harvey's
other instances are well known Cambridge figures, and the qualities
they are there known for. All Harvey's other mentions of Dee (e.g.,
Marginalia, pp. 162-163) speak only, and with respect,
of his mathematical knowledge, and the practical achievements
to which this may assist.
(25) Vita, p. 5.
(26) Dee gives two lists of his own works, neither compiled in
any particular order; viz. C.R. Ch. 6, pp. 24-27, and in the Discourse
Apologeticall (printed with C.R. in Chetham Miscellany
I) pp. 74-78. These lists are similar but not identical, the present
mentioned works figure only inthe latter of them for example.
Titles and dates of lost or partially surviving works cited hereafter,
when extracted from either of these lists have not been accompanied
with any detailed source reference. The present works are lost.
The only surviving fragment of Dee's work that might appear in
any way connected with them are the fourteen points he considers
from Aristotle's de Anima, which he may have looked upon
as "fallacies" (vide infra ch. 4); but it is unlikely
that Dee would have treated such a subject "in English meter"
(a form adopted probably for mnemonic rather than aesthetic reasons).
And in any case the fallacies that he dealt with in this work
were almost certainly those discussed below (n. 27).
(27) The thirteen fallacies divided into two groups of six and
seven types, according to whether they concern words or things;
are set out in DC Sophisticis Elenchis IV, 165b and 166b.
Blundeville's Art of Logik discusses them in Bk. 6, ch.
5, p. 190 et seq (the first group or Equivocation, Amphibology,
Conjunction, Division, Accent and Figure or form of speech) and
Bk. 6, ch. 7, p. 193 et seq (the second group, or "the Fallox
of the Accident, the Fallax of Speech respective instead of speech
absolute, ignorance of the Elench, Petitions of the principle,
a cause that is not a cause indeed, and many questions comprehended
into one"). As to the importance of such a study Dee probably
was already acquainted with Proclus' praise of a lost work of
Euclid's on Parologisms which might serve as a preparatory to
the constructive reasoning in the Elements: "il y
a énuméré les divers genres de faux raisonnements
séparément et dans l'ordre en exercant notre intelligence
sur chaeun d'eux par les théorèmes variés,
il y a opposé le vrai au faux et mis la réfutation
de ce qui est fallacieux en harmonic avec la preuve. Ce dernier
ouvrage est donc propre à purifier et à exercer"
(Comment on Euclid, ed. cit. p. 63-64). Writers continued
to accept Aristotle as a model on this topic, however much they
might differ from him about the methods of reasoning it was most
profitable to employ in scientific or philosophical investigation.
(The reformers' rejection of Aristotle's claims for the syllogism
was based on the opinion that it was an unnecessarily inconvenient
and cumbrous instrument for effective thought, and offered no
assistance to the "invention," they retained just such
a limited respect for it as Francis Bacon later avowed: "Non
est meum abdicare in totum syllogismum. Res est syllogismus magis
inhabilis ad praecipua, quam inutilis ad plurima." Letter
to Father Redept Baransan 1622. Works II, p. 128). Thus
Blundeville's work, which its title page declares is "Very
necessary for all Students in any profession how to defend any
argument against all subtill sophisters and cavilling schismatickes,
and how to confute their false syllogisms and captious arguments,"
speaks respectfully of Aristotle throughout; but it begins by
distinguishing two objects of this art "the one to discerne
truth from falshood in any manner of speech; the other is to teach
a compendius way to attaine to any Art or Science, and therefore
it is defined of some to be the Art of Arts and Science of Sciences...because
it sheweth the method, that is to say, the true order and right
way that is to be observed in seeking to come to the perfect knowledge
of any art or science," and his work only sovers the first
function, while of the second he says "of which methodicall
part mine old friend M. Iacomo Acontio Tridentino hath
written in the latine tongue a very proper and profitable treatise.
And therefore I minde here to deal onely with the first office"
(pp. 1-2). (Nevertheless with some reference to its relations
with Ramism he does summarise the de Methodo and describe
its advocacy of a procedure based on the Euclidean resolutive-compositive
method, p. 64 et seq.) Yet though fairly orthodox on this topic,
echoes of Ramus are frequent, in terms or statements (as his initial
division of logic into the two parts, "invention" and
"judgment," or the passage in p. 121 where he brands
arguments based on human authority as "martificial").
Finally, it may be noted as another increasingly typical feature
of this work, that its author's desire to assist the cause of
popular education, is accompanied with a slight "non-conformist"
religious bias, emerging for instance in his expression of approval
for, and desire to be of service to, "clergy who had taken
no degree in divinity." (He describes his wprl as "a
most necessary Booke for such Ministers as had not beene brought
vp in any Vuniversitie: to[o] many of which Ministers, though
God had given the gift of vtterance, and great good zeale to set
forth in good speech the true Christian doctrine" yet lack
the means to refute the sophistical arguments that the academically
trained are able to bring against them and which they sometimes
even "gather out of the very words of holy Scripture,"
and propound with subtle fallacies (To the Reader f3v).
(28) E.g., English Euclid, note by Dee. f. 385r, "Besides
all other uses and commodities, that are of the croked superficies
of the Cone, Cylinder and Sphere, so easely and certainely, of
us to be dealt with all: this is not the least, that a notable
Error, which among Sophisticall brablers, and vngeometricall Masters
and Doctors, hath a long time been upholden: may most evidently,
hereby be confuted, and vtterly rooted out of all men's fantasies
for euer. The Error is this, Curvi, ad rectam, nulla est proportio.
This Error, in lines, superficeies and solides, may with more
true demonstration be overthrowne, then the fauourers of that
fond fantasie are able, with argument, either probable or sophistically,
to make shew or pretence to the contrary." etc. (This "error"
recurs" in various forms in Averroes' commentaries on Aristotle,
which Dee probably has in mind e.g., On Anal. Post. I,
comm. 67. "Non est proportionalibitas secondem veritatem
inter lineam rectam et circularem." Met. X. Comm. 10. "Linea
enim arcualis non potest aequari lineae rectae neque recta non
rectae," also Phys. VII. Comm. 29, Bagolinus ed. Venice,
1550; see J.F. Hoffmann, Ramon Lull's Kreisquidratur, Heidelberg,
1942, p. 6, n. 16.)
(29) English Euclid, "An Advise by John Dee"
f. 397 et seq, discusses this method "so ancient and so profitable"
that was revealed, he claims, by Plato to Leodamas. Dee advises
his readers to work back from the end of the thirteenth book to
the definition of a point, and always "by Resolution (discreetly
and advisedly) to resolve, unlose unioynt and diseaver every part
of any work Mathematicall, that thereby as well the due placing
of every verity, and his proofe; as also what is either superfluous,
or wanting, may evidently appeare. For so to invent, and therewith
to order their writings, was the custome of them, who in the old
time, were most excellent." He himself writing any work "which
requireth great discourse, at length have found, (by experience)
the commodity of it, such that to do other wayes, were to me a
confusion, and an vnmethodicall heaping of matter together: besides
the difficulty of inuenting the matter to be disposed and ordred."
Ramus has similar appreciations of a method drawn from the Elements,
e.g., Praefationes, p. 171 et seq, cp. also Freigius Vita,
p. 26 et seq (in Monumentum Illustrissimis) describing
Ramus' admiration for mathematics and their influence on his thought
quoting his speech to Paris University, "Quindecim Euclidis
libri sunt, quos (ut omnes omnino artes) sicut uno Logicae organo
contextos esse primum, sic cadem posteo retexi posse cogitabat"
etc. (p. 26).
(30) C.R. ch. 3, p. 8.
(31) E.g., Banosius' life of Ramus dedicated to Philip Sydney
prefixed to Ramus posthumous Comment. de Relig. Christ,
1577, f Br, mentions among Ramus' acquaintances such collaborators
of Dee's as Hieronymus Wolf and Commandine, and these "quo
vero animi ardore mathemata sit persoquutus, testantur (follows
lists of names by countries)...in Britainnia vero Acontius &
Dius." Freigius Vita Rami, p. 30, "Nemo est in
Britannia, Germania, Italia, mathematica studio excellens, quem
non animo & literaru sermone adieri. Scripsit in Britanniam
ad Acontium & Diam, in Germania ad Gesnerum, ad Camerarium...."
(32) A letter of Ramus' to Dee of 14th Jan., 1565, is given in Praefationes, epistolae, orationes, pp. 204-205. He recalls meeting Dee in the Lutetian library. Lasicius had set out from Britain, from Ramus and "binas ei scholas physicus commiseram, quas nostro nomine duobus in tota insula doctissimis hominibus offeret." One had gone to Acontius who had declared Dee should be the proper recipient of the other. "Itaque cum Iasicius Lutetiam reversus de multiplici eruditione Dii, deq; ipsius singulari bibliotheca antiquis neque dum editis graecae mathematicae scriptoribus referta narrasset." He learns Dee has an unknown treatise of Archimedes, he possesses himself Apollonius Pergacus on Conics, eight books of Pappus, Serenus on sections of the cylinder, various oposcula of Theodosius, and some fragments of Hero. "Eac, amabo te, ut elenchus tuorum mathematicerum nobis communicetar, ut si quid divitus tuis nobis opus erit, a te operi expetamus, & quidem tam liberaliter quam ingenue nostra tibi communia fidri velim." He ends by confessing that beyond the names Oxford and Cambridge, he does not know any details of English scholars interested in the subject and asks Dee to supply him with information on the leading English mathematicians, and what ancient texts can be found in the libraries there.
Ascham had perhaps given Dee's name to Ramus as owner of the Archimedes
treatise, as Ramus had written to him previously 6th March, 1564
(Ascham, Famil. Epist., p. 458-459), and enquired among
other things, "de libro Archimedes quem audivi penes aquedam
eruditum vestrae aulae medicamesse: si facultas ulla sit describendi,
habeo rariora quaedam in hoc genere & Pappi & Apolloni
& Sereni, quae per liberiter vicissim, tumeo communicabo...."
(33) Accounts of Ramus' influence may be found in: Perry Miller's
The New England Mind, NY, 1939; Hardin Craig, The Enchanted
Glass, NY (O.U.P.), 1936; F.F. Graves, Ramus and the Educational
Reform in the XVIth Century, NY, 1912.
(34) Astronomiae Encomium, 1601, p. 6 (written 27 years
(35) See F.R. Johnson and S.V. Iarkey, Robert Recorde's Mathematical
Teachings and the anti-Aristotelian Movement (H.L.B. No. 7,
April 1935), p. 78: Recorde's place is with Vives, Erasmus, Sturmius,
Malenithon, Ramus, Colet, Cheke, and Ascham, but "except
for him only Peter Ramus (among these)...went beyond the subjects
of the trivium and attempted a thoroughgoing revision of the quadrivium
(36) Praefationes, pp. 203-204. He goes on to praise Acontius'
de Methodo (1557)--a plea for the sustematisation of all
knowledge--as not identical but compatible with his own teachings.
(37) Euclidis Elementorum libri XV...à Federigo Commandino
Urbinatè, nuper in Latinum conversi....Pisauri, 1572,
(38) Euclidis elementorum libri quindecim, Paris, 1558.
Dedicatory epistle to the Archbishop of Rheims.
(39) Peter Ramus and the Confusion of Logic, Rhetoric and Poetry,
1947, quotations from pp. 4, 7, 16.
(40) Quintiliem is an undeniably important source of Ramus' thought;
his praise of Mathematics for its own sake, not merely as providing
a discipline or for use, and his claim that its order should provide
a model even for rhetoric, is thus not without interest: see Inst.
Orat. lib. I, cap. 10, 46 (e.g., Quid quod se eadem geometria
tollit at rationem usque Mundi ? inqua, cum siderum certos constritulosque
cursus numeris docet, discimus nihil esse inordinatum atque fortuitum
quad ipsum nonnunquum pertinere ad oratorem potest." Loeb
ed., ed. Butler, 1921, Vol. I, p. 180).
(41) Graves, Ramus, p. 24, on Ramus' adoption of what he
claimed to be the Socratic as opposed to Aristotelian method,
because it was the only one which set out to lead men "to
their own natural sense of right and liberty of judgment";
also p. 145 et seq on the basis of dialectic approached through
an investigation of how men use their reason; it is said to begin
as Nature's pupil, to end as its school master.
(42) Metaphysics, 1007 a-b.
(43) C.R. p.5. Sheets of his observations taken at Louvain in
Aug. and Nov. 1548 are bound in the back of his copy of Albohali's
de Judiciis Nativitatum, Noribergae, 1546 (now in R.C.P.).
(44) Preface, Ciiijr.
(45) F. 96v, 1519, Venice ed. (in the R.C.P.). A note of Dee's
on the flyleaf, that the exact time of birth must be used in forecasting
the disposition of the body and the faculties of the mind, is
dated 14th Sept., 1551.
(46) C.R. ch. 5, p. 21. (This phrase might also imply a practical
matter of procedure. Since the time of Hipparchus, the vernal
equinox had shifted about 24_ backwards into Pisces; but as the
zodiac was still measured from it, it continued to be regarded
as the first point of Aries. Hence the erection of an "ancient"
horoscope and a sixteenth century one, as regards the placing
of the signs, would if no corrections were made, differ considerably.
The fact of this change was, of course, known to all who had even
a smattering of astronomy. It forms the subject of Spenser's Introduction
to Bk. 5 of the Faerie Queene, esp. stanzas 5-7; of the
signs Spenser writes: "So now all range and do at random
rove/Out of their proper places far away.") Agrippa, who
similarly doubts not the general truth of astrology, but the particular
applications men make of it in its "judicial" form,
is outspoken to a friend who in 1526 applied to him for a horoscope;
such forecasts, he replies, are "nothing more than the fallacious
guess of superstitious men who have founded a science on uncertain
things and are deceived by it"; but nevertheless, "I
will do all that you ask me to the best of my ability, having
warned you first, not to put more faith in these judgments than
befits a Christian" (Epistle 19. See Morley, Agrippa,
Vol. II, pp. 138-139).
(47) E.g., Worsop's A Discoverie of Sundrie Errors, 1582.
Giv brings a long and bitter indictment made on Scriptural (Isaiah
XLVII, Jeremiah V, Kings XXI, Deut. XVIII, where its practise
is forbidden to the Israelites) and philosophical (Pico, Cornelius,
Sceppelius, Agrippa, i.e., de Vanitate) authority to an
end by allowing it a certain general truth and limited scope in
predictions, for "Master John Dee in his mathematicall preface
learnedly sheweth what astrologie is. In that preface you shall
finde how some over reade: that is unlawfully attribute more unto
that science than duely appertaineth thereto."
(48) John Chamber, Treatise against judiciall Astrology,
1601, p. 102. "When man was placed in Paradise"
he continues, "he was set there to dresse the garden, not
to be gasing still up to the starres like a wizard. Heaven is
Gods booke which we must leave to him and content ourselves with
our earthly abc." Later he passes some strictures on passages
from Dee's Preface, concerning the metaphysical applications
of number, though without naming the author directly.
(49) Wedel, The Mediaeval Attitude towards Astrology, preface,
pp. iii-iv. He observes (p. 49-50) that Adelard of Bath's de
Eodem et Diverso (1100) is one of the first mediaeval texts
to reunite (or confuse) astrology and astronomy (carefully distinguished
by Isidore), where astronomy closes a procession of the liberal
Arts, and a man knowing it, is the comment, will know the whole
past and future conditions of the world.
(50) Whatever the origins of the Universe its orderliness is a fact, argues Manilius:
"Sed facies quacumque tamen sub origine rerum
Convenit, et certo digestum est ordine corpus"
(Astronomicon, lib. I, 11, 117-118)
and in Bk. II (11. 60-66) he proclaims:
"Infusumque deum caclo terrisque fretoque
Ingentem aequali moderantem foedere molem:
Totumque alterno consensu vivere mundum,
Et rationis agi motu: cum spiritus unus
Per cunctas habitet partes, atque irriget orbem
Omnia pervolitans, corpisque animale figuret."
(51) Pliny, de Mundi cum commentarius Jacobi Milichii,
1543, f.97v. Inscribed: "Joannes Deeus 1550 Januario Lovanij"
(52) de Stella Nova, 1606, 173-174. Descriptio Viscerum Terrae facultatis: that the earth's tides and expulsions of vapours are stimulated "ab aspectibus planetarum harmonicis certissimum est.
Et me hercule non absurde quis huic excretioni etiam voluptatem
suam adiunxerit: ita multa terrae cum animantibus conveniunt...."
(53) See Lenoble, Mersenne, p. 153 et seq ("L'Ame
(54) Richard Harvey, (An Astrological discourse A iijr)
gives a list of prominent English defenders of it; they include,
besides Dee, Sir Thomas Elyot, Sir Thomas Smith, Recorde, and
Digges. The work itself is dedicated to the Bishop of London.
On the other hand, Maunsell in his Catalogue of English printed
Bookes, 1595, in a section limited to attacks on "Astrologie
Judiciall," gives merely the works of Calvin, Fulke, Coxe
and the anonymous Foure Great Lyars.
(55) De Aug. Scient., lib. III, cap. IV (Works,
Vol. II, p. 334).
(56) Against the Professors, lib. V; "Against the
Astrologers," ch. 1 (Works, Loeb, Vol. IV, 1949).
He attacks Chaldean nativities but praises astrology as used to
predict floods etc., since as thus practised by Hipparchus and
Eudoxus it rests only on observable phenomena. Indeed, most of
his criticism is directed against the inaccuracy and uncertainty
which results from the complexity of the study and the methods
of reasoning it is compelled to employ, and does not amount to
a denial of the validity of the general assertion of astrology
that the stars influence events in the world.
(57) Daemonologie, p. 13. The art taught by Cardan and
Agrippa which pretends "to foretell what commonweales shall
florish or decay" is condemned, but "the science of
heavenlie creatures" and "knowing thereby the powers
of simples and sicknesses, the course of the seasons and the weather...is
not unlawfull, being moderately used."
(58) The "Discorso del flusso e reflusso del mare,"
1616, incorporated in Dialogues of the Two Principal Systems,
Salisbury trans. vol. I, p. 422. The attack on Kepler's views
occurs on the 4th day's discussion, Galileo propounds instead
a theory that tides are caused by the difference in rotational
speed of different parts of the earth. Kepler's theory is rejected
because it is "occulta"; the same charge that it involves
an "occult cause" not to be admitted by reason is brought
out by Huygens, and frequently by followers of Descartes, against
the Newtonian theory of attraction, i.e., of action at a distance.
Brunschvicg (L'Expérience Humaine, p. 531) comments
on Huygen's criticism: "Huygens pouvait avoir raison...Mais
la formule de la gravitation c'est tout de même bien quelque
chose, et que Newton aurait négligée si par malheur,
il s'était avisé de prendre conseil de Huygens."
In the Renaissance science would have suffered markedly even had
it been possible at all, if all theories were to have been rejected
which could not be immediately explained or which did not involve
recourse at some point to the convenient doctrineof "occult
(59) E.g., Porta, Naturall Magick, which throughout makes
continual references to "experiment" and "experience."
Lib. I, cap. VIII, gives besides quoting authorities (such as
Theophrastus, Hippocrates and Galen on the influence of the dogstar,
p. 13) give lengthy catalogues of effects observable in the animal,
vegetable and mineral world produced by the heavenly bodies (e.g.,
"The inwards of mice answer the Moon's proportions; for they
increase with her, and with her also they shrink away. If we cut
our hair or pare our nails before the new moon, they will grow
again but slowly; if at or about the new moon, they will grow
again quickly" p. 11). Similar examples are given by Covell,
Polimanteia, 1595, "the Nightingale and Cuckoo can
always be noticed to grow hoarse at the rising of Syrius, and
it would be irrational to deny The Sympathy betwixt the
starres of the North and the Adament Stones, whereas we see continually
that those starres draw that stone" (f. K4v). Thus Dee (Preface
biiigv) declares that opponents of astrology "understand
not (or will not understand) of the other workinges and vertues
of the Heavenly Sunne, Mone and Sterres: not so
much, as the Mariner, or Husbandman: no, not so much, as the Elephant
doth, as the Cynocephalus, as the Porpentine doth"
(as to the tides, Dee adds shortly after "And perchaunce
they thinke, the Sea & Rivers (as the Thames) to be some quicke
thing, and so to ebbe, and flow, run in and out, of themselves,
at their owne fantasies. God helpe, God helpe.")
(60) Opera, Vol. I, p. 152. Similarly, Porta has an early,
fundamental chapter in his Natural Magick, entitled "What
things receive their force and power from Heaven, and from the
stars" which he begins by declaring that he supposes noe
to doubt that the Superior rule the Inferior in Nature "and
that the generation and corruption of mutable things, every one
in his due course and order is overruled by the power of those
Heavenly Natures." (Bk. 1, Ch. 8, p. 10.)
(61) Opus Majus, IV, CH. 11 (Vol. I, p. 170).
(62) Preface, b iijv.
(63) Meteorologica, I, 2.
(64) De Generatione et Corruptione, cap. X.
(65) It was also argued as scriptural justification that, as Noah
built the first boat, but mankind were scattered over the face
of the earth, separated by seas, therefore to save God's justice
which required that man could have had warning and opportunity
to repent, the flood must have been announced by the stars (by
a conjunction of several planets in a watery sign) which the astrologers
could have correctly interpreted. See Recorde, Castle of Knowledge,
1550, f.aV: "though Noe could not in person go into all partes
of the world, yet was that office supplied by the heavens."
(Ralegh bases a similar argument on Philo's statement that Abraham
reached a knowledge of the true God while dwelling in Chaldea,
through a study of the stars. History of the World, I,
11, 2 p. 177.)
(66) A Discovery of Sundrie Errors, G.1v.
(67) de Disc. Math., Opera, Vol. I, p. 153.
(68) M. Pliny, de Mundi, ed. cit. f20v.
(69) History of the World, Bk. I, ch. 1, sect. 11, p. 12.
Similarly, Evans Lloyd denounces those who disbelieve astrology
as "Epicures," in that they think the motions of the
heavens to be "without purpose." (An Almanac for
1582, Epistle Dedicatory, Aijr.)
(70) de Disc. Math., Opera, vol. I, p. 154.
(71) Preface, b, iiijr.
(72) Hieronymus Salius on the excellence of astrology, an answer
to its detractors and despisers, p. 1.
(73) Cp. Frege, Grundlagen. "Jene Unterscheidungen
von a priori und a posteriori synthetisch und analytisch betreffen...nicht
den Inhalt des Urtheils, sondern die Berechtigung zur Urtheilsfallung,"
(3 p. 3) "Wenn man einen Satz empirisch nennt, weil wir Beobachtungen
gemacht haben mussen, um uns seines Inhalts bewusst zu werden,
so gebraucht man des Wortes empirisch nicht in dem Sinne dass
es dem, a priori entgegensetzt ist" (1, 8, p. 12). Subjective
conditions have to be satisfied before a proposition is arrived
at, and sense experience suggest its being made "Dies kann
immerhim zutreffen, ohne dass di abgeleiteten Sätze aufhören,
a priori zu sein" (4, 77, p. 91).
(74) De Caelo, II, cap. 4, 6.
(75) Bk. I, 611-612.
(76) Opus Majus, Pt. IV (vol. I, p. 260 et seq).
(77) Elements, Vinegia, 1543, p. 1 (note headed "Quale
& quanti fiamo le scientie, overe Discipline Mathematice,"
preceding the dedication).
(78) Joannes Garcoeus, Astrologiae Methodus, Basle, 1576.
Ded. to Augustus of Saxony A.3r (the B.M. copy 716/K/32 contains
notes in a hand very similar to Dee's).
(79) de Disc. Math., Opera, Vol. I, p. 160.
(80) De Coniunctionibus magnis insignioribus superiorum planetarum...
(London, 1573, previously published abroad in 1563. This is properly
the title of the first part only, which is followed by "Prognosticon
ab anno domini 1564 usque in viginti annos sequenter") Leovitius
was mathematician to Otho Henry, Prince Palatine of the Rhine
and his services to astronomy won him a tribute from Tycho Brahe.
See Sherburne, Catalogue of Astronomers, pp. 58-59 (appended
to The Sphere of Marcus Manilius, 1675).
(81) Preface, biiijr.
(82) Philo, De Opficis Mundi, XIX (58-62) (Works,
Vol. I, pp. 45-47).
(83) Ennead IV, 3, 12. See also III, 1, 5; II, 3. (Porphyry
however recounting the attempt on the life of Plotinus--Life,
ch. X--by Alexandrinus Olimpius, speaks of the baleful defluxions
of the stars, as though they were physical forces capable of direction
and deflection. On Plotinus' astrological views, see Thorndyke,
History of Magic and Science, Vol. I, p. 312 et seq.)
(84) E.g., In Somn. Scip., I, 1 (Opera, p. 68) "Et
Plotinus...(of the stars) pronuncia nihil vi vel potestate eorum
hominibus evenire; sed ea quae decreti necessitas in singules,
sonciti ita per horum septem transitum statione recessive montari,
ut ares praeterrolando seu stando futura frennis vel noce significant
nescientes." Cf. also Saturnali I, 17, Opera,
(85) Urinall of Physick, 1651 ed., p. 105.
(86) Castle of Knowledge, 1550 avir.
(87) Ibid a Vr-v.
(88) de Rerum Varietate, 1557, lib. XIV, cap. LXVIII, p.
922. The explanation here recalls Plotinus (Ennead, IV,
4, 35): the Universe expresses itself in figures of celestial
motions through the contemplation of the intelligible world. The
Ideas of these figures, not they themselves, exert an influence
(89) Admonitio de vero et licito Astrologiae usu B3r-B4r.
(90) Marginal note in Ptolemy, Quadripartitum, f.2.
(91) de Disc. Math. (Opera, Vol. I, p. 156).
(92) History of the World, I, 1, 11, p. 14. He is expounding
a causal doctrine but with reservations. The chapter is headed
"Of Fate, and that the stars have great Influence: and that
their operations may diversely be prevented or furthered."
His reservations lead him to cite Plotinus' position with approval,
contradicting some earlier statements of his own, though he says
Plotinus wrote "giving them [the stars] something lesse than
(93) Opus Majus, Vol. I, p. 270 et seq.
(94) Summa Theologica, I (1), Qu. 115, Art. IV. (Migne
ed. Cols. 1388-1389). The stars act directly on the body "in
vires autem animae quae sunt actus organorum corporeum, (non)
directe, quidem, sed per accidens...unde si intellectus et voluntas
essent vires corporeis organis alligatae (sicut posuerunt aliqui
dicentes, quod intellectus non differt a sensu) ex necessitate
sequeretur quod corporo coelestia essent causa electionum et actuum
humanorum." This is not so, but "Intellectus ex necessitate
accipit ab inferioribus viribus apprehensiva sed voluntas non
ex necessitate sequitur inclinationem appetitus inferioris,"
though as a fact, it can be seen to do so in the majority of cases.
"Et ideo astrologi ut in pluribus vera possunt praedicere,
et maximè in communi non autem in speciali quia nihil prohibet
aliquem hominem per liberum arbitrium passionibus resistere."
(95) MS. (bound in Caxton's Mirror of the World) in Pierpont
Morgan Library. Reproduced Curt F. Bühler, 16th Century
Prognostications (Isis XXXIII, 1941, 609 ff), pp. 619-620.
(96) 22nd May, 1592. Cotton MS. Jul. Caes V, f41 (printed Camden,
Epistolae, pp. 47-48). Dee continues: "These spiritual
grammatical Concords of good manners I have spent care, that all
my imps may be instructed in, to the more apt and skilful serving
of our Creator." Dee's scheme for Arthur's nativity survives
in a notebook--Sloane MS, 1962 f.28r. Against it Arthur has written
"Sententia patris mei de mea nativatate erat. Magna bona
cum multis malis." Arthur has cast his own children's nativities
in this same notebook (f9 et seq).
(97) Dialogue between a Tutor and a Pupil, London, 1768,
(98) See Allen, The Star Crossed Renaissance: "To
be a ranking member of the astrologer's profession in the sixteenth
century required a mastery of astronomy and mathematics...to be
an opponent of astrology one needed only enough Latin to read
Pico and abridge his arguments." p. 100.
(99) In Pliny, de Mundo, 1584, p. 171.
(100) Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, p. 171.
(101) Albumazar, ed. H.G. Dick, 11 562-563. (The play is
founded on Porta's Lo Astrologo, but softens the more general
criticisms of its prototypes and concentrates upon charlatanism,
but even Porta, despite his better satire in that work, was far
from rejecting astrology as a science.)
(102) He affirmed: "Praeter communiem motus et luminis influentiam
nuffam vim coelestibus peculiarem inesse." Disputationes,
p. 311, cp. Heptaplus, II, 3-4, pp. 232-238 (e.g., p. 236,
"Coelestium corporum duae in universas manifestae operationes:
motus et illuminatio"). On Pico's physical and philosophical
views on the heavens see esp. Garin, Pico, III, 4. Il mondo
celeste e l'Astrologia, p. 169 et seq. ("L'influenza degli
astri in quel che ha di vero, si riduce per Pico alla luce e al
calore che i corpi celesti diffondono" p. 177.)
(103) de Disc. Math. (Opera, Vol. 1, p. 168).
(104) The case for this position--that Pico only disapproved of
certain forms of judicial astrology, but accepted the science
in the main--has been argued by Massetani: La filosofia cabbalistica
di Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. See esp. Appendix pp. 173-183.
(105) De la Demonomanie, I, 3, p. 60. (He does not call
Pico here as Kocher asserts--Christopher Marlowe, p. 151--"le
Maistre en l'Art Diabolique," this phrase applies to the,
here unnamed, Agrippa, who is thus described by Bodin throughout.
Bodin allows that the Florentines practised magic in ignorant
good faith; it is Agrippa only who "en a usé par impieté
detestable," p. 61.)
(106) Admonitio adversus Astrologiam, Geneva, 1549. An
English translation by Godfrey Gylby appeared in 1561. Though
"a certain convenience betwyxte the starres and planets and
the disposition of a mans body" is admitted (B1) yet the
science as a whole is "nothing but a divelish superstition"
(Aiiij 2v). Catastrophes and benefits to men arise solely from
the will of God, and do not necessarily operate by natural means;
the fulfillment of predictions is only wrought by the agency of
evil spirits. Chamber in his Treatise follows Calvin: "A
Christian and an astrologer cannot wel mantle in one coat,"
and if predictions come to pass it is only through a "certain
pact and league between the astrologer and the divell." (p.
(107) Responsiones in disputationes...Pico...adversus Astrologis
(appended to his de Astrologica Veritate), lib. II, p.
176, on the concordance of religion and astrology, of which the
foolish errors of Bonatus and Albumazar lead to the denial.
(108) Kraus, Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Vol. II, p. 98 et seq.
(109) Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant, p. 111.
(110) Delrio (Disquisitionum Magicarum, 1599) rejoices
that the thoroughly pernicious de Incantationibus should
have been at least suppressed; "opusculum certe miratus fui
tam diu tolerari ab Ecclesia, nunc recens & merito in Romano
Indici damnatur." (Vol. I, lib. I, cap. 3, p. 32.)
(111) Bacon, Opus Majus, Vol. I, p. 278 et seq. Vide infra
ch. IV, p. 297. On Dee and the astrological doctrine of world
cycles in the sixteenth century vide infra ch. IX, p. 782 et seq.
(112) See Wedel, The Mediaeval Attitude towards Astrology,
p. 6 et seq.
(113) R. Harvey, An Astrological Discourse, pp. 4-5: "The
slight arguments of Picus Mirandules, Cornelius Agrippa and divers
others...have been thoroughly answered by Balantius, Schonerus,
Melancto, Cardan and sundry others, but specially of late by Junctinus."
(114) Treatise against
Judiciall Astrology, 1601, p. 58.
(115) Ibid, p. 56.
(116) Second Part of the Anatomie of Abuse, 1583, H.4 (4)--I4
(117) Treatise against Judiciall Astrology, p. 4. This
is also the keypoint of Roger Hutchinson's criticisms in The
Image of God (1550), ch. 15. Astrology, he declares, leads
men to exclude God from the World when He should be thought of
bearing a similar relation to it as the soul of the body, because
it suggests that God withdrew himself from the creation after
the sixth day there being no further need for Him to exercise
his powers. Such a view, says Hutchinson, leads directly to the
doctrines of the "libertines," to fatalism, nature worship,
and the denial of difference between good and evil; and, anxious
to leave no loophole for the astrologers, he goes so far as to
maintain that the star at Bethlehem, since it must have been motionless,
can have been no star, but an angel. (Works, ed. J. Bruce
Parker Soc., Cambridge, 1842, p. 77 et seq.) Similarly, Weemes,
analysing the causes of atheism, finds one of the chief of these
to be belief in the very type of universal law astrologers such
as Dee were trying to discover, that is, according to Weemes,
the belief "in the constant course of Nature, and the wheeles
mooving one within another, and turning about in the selfsame
manner"; which he says is the principle tenet and argument
of "The Physical Atheist [such as Epicurus] who measures
all things by the law of nature." (Treatise of the foure
degenerate Sonnes, London, 1636, pp. 4, 6.)
(118) An Apologie or Declaration of the Power and Providence
of God, II, 1, 1, p. 78.
(119) See Dreyer, Tycho Brahe, pp. 13-14.
(120) The New Planet no Planet, 1646, pp. 67-68. The same
spirit as is evident here and in Calvin, Stubbes, and Chamber,
is strikingly apparent also in the most sweeping attack on astrology
made in England in Dee's day. This was Fulke's Anti Prognosticon
that is to saye An Invective agaynst the vayne and unprofitable
predictions of the Astrologians, written "for the utter
subversion of that fained art." (English trans., 1566.) It
sets out to confute a formidable list of English advocates for
this science--Cunningham, Hyll, Ascham, etc. (Bir)--by attacking
all forms of divination as merely the fruit of "overweening
curiosity and imposture." (Aiiir-v), from the standpoint
that "That only is necessary [if we believe Cicero] without
the which we cannot live" (Aiiijv)--while prognostications
are inessentialsof life, and: "For as it is said and not
without a cause: These thynges that are above us, pertayne nothyng
unto us: and these thynges which are above our reache ar not to
be sought for, with muche curiostie" (Avr).
(121) De Natura Deorum, II, 21. A teaching also found in
the Hermetic writings; e.g., Hermes declares to Tat: " "
(Hermetica, ed. Scott, I, pp. 432-433, from Stoboeus, Exc.
XI, Aph. 43).
(122) Preface, Ajv.
(123) Ibid, bjv. cp. biiijv "those most noble Corporall Creatures."
(124) 415 b and d.
(125) Statesman, 269 E.
(126) Solmsen, Plato's Theology, p. 88.
(127) Statesman, 269 D.
(128) R.G. Bury, Theory of Education in Plato's Laws (Revue
de l'Étude Grecque Vol. 50, 1937, pp. 314-315).
(129) E. des Places, Platon et l'Astronomie chaldééne
(Annuaire de l'Inst. de Philo. et d'Hist. Orient, 4, 1936, p.
(130) Cratylus, 396.
(131) Laws, XII, 967 a-d.
(132) Timaeus, 91d. Elyot writes of the metempsychosis
taught by Pythagoras--and it is a typical comment of a Christian
neo-Platonist of the Renaissance--that it is a doctrine to be
interpreted like "his mistical cousailes called Simbola,"
for "therein is a more secrete meanynge & approchige
nere unto rayson" (Of the knowledge that maketh a Wise
Man, 1533, p. 24r-v, ed. Howard, pp. 63-64).
(133) De Anima, 407a.
(134) De Gons. Phil., I, 4.
(135) De Monarchia, I, 9 (the theme of this whole chapter).
Similarly, Chapman says, perhaps a little more perspicuously,
since his explanation probably over-simplifies the teaching, referring
to the stars, "We are commanded t'imitate their nature/By
making all our ends eternity" (Byrons Conspiracy,
III, 5, II, 11-12).
(136) Plotinus finds the Christian's great fault to be that they
persuade men "to despise the world and the things that are
in it'; "they do not honour this sensible fabrication of
things, nor this visible earth, but they say that there is a new
earth produced for them." But, argues Plotinus, it is not
fit "to assert that the soul of the vilest men is immortal
and divine, but that all heaven and the stars that are there do
not participate of immortality, though they consist of things
far more beautiful and pure" than earthly things; to despise
the beauty of the world is not to become a good man; and, developing
the theme of goodness acquired through love of the beautiful,
and the nature and significance of this "love," he demands,
"how could this world be separated from the intelligible
world; or the Gods in it from the intelligible Gods?" (Ennead,
II, IX, 15, 5 and 16.)
(137) de Disc. Math (Opera, Vol. I, p. 150).
(138) Reprinted F.R. Johnson, in J.H.I, I, 3, 1942, p. 102.
(139) Alae seu Scalae, 1573, preface Aiv.
(140) Letter to Paeonius on the gift of an astrolabe ch. 5 (Oeuvres,
trans. Drum, p. 193).
(141) Vide infra Ch. VI.
Almost the first dateable evidence is a note of Dee's of 1556,
of over 50 alchemical works he had read that July--Corpus Christi
MS. 191 f.88-91; there is also extant an alchemical MS. Dee owned
(Addit. MS. 2129) bearing his signature and the date 1558, he
has inserted many annotations, chiefly cross references to other
alchemical works--by "Albertus Magnus," "Lull"
etc.--indicating his already considerable learning in this field.
(142) Juridico-Philosophica Dissertatio, p. 122. Similarly,
Kelly in a letter to Dyer calls alchemy "our astronomie inferiour"
(MS. Ashmole 1420 f.328).
(143) Metzger, Les Concepts Scientifiques, I, 2 pp. 28,
(144) Ashmole, introduction to Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum,
1652, A3 (2)v.
(145) de Givry (Museé
des Sorciers, p. 220) discussing cabalism and hermetic philosophy
in the Renaissance includes Dee's name (principally, it is to
be supposed, on the strength of the Monas) in a list of
thinkers such as Pico, Postel, Agrippa, Paracelsus,
Khumroth and Fludd, whom he declares "Peuvent être
considéré comme les principaux novateurs qui mêlèrent
à la théologie chrétienne des principes qui
lui étaient étrangers, et qu'elle se refuser d'admettre
(146) Sloane MS. 3183 f33, Kelly's Angels failing to understand
Dee's attempts to quote in this language, he apologises hopefully,
"I am not so good in the Hebrue Tongue; but you know my meaning."
(147) E.g., Poimandres, Libellus, 4-9 (Hermetical
(148) More than thirty copies of printed works by "Lull"
occur in Dee's list of his library. The majority Dee seems to
have kept grouped together on his shelves (see Harl MS. 1739 f40v
(59v)), he also possessed a number of treatises in MS. Dee's copy
of the Libellus de Kabbalistico Auditu, Venice, 1518, is
preserved in the R.C.P., autographed and dated 1564 on the last
leaf, preceded by the note "Aspica domine de sede sa'cta
tua." Dee did not distinguish this from Lull's other writings
as a comment he has placed on his MS of the Ars Demonstrativa
shows (Digby MS 197 f 10v) "Notand_a autem nanc Lulli autem
quae hic ars demonstrativa inscribitur pluriby modis sub diversis
nomniby ab eodem authore conscriptam esse. Scripsit enim artem
magnam, artem brevem, artem principiorum, auditie cabalistic_
et in quibus omniby unã eandeq artem sic varie intitulatem
reliquit quod reote annotauit--Jordanus Brunus in sua Architectura."
(149) Pappus, La Cabbale, 1903, p. 33.
(150) Mersenne, p. 99. Lenoble continues, "La vénération
mystique pour la réalité suprême, l'un des
Platoniciens, le Dieu ineffable de la tradition juive, conduit
à la meter dans l'inconnaissable et à chercher des
formes intermédiaires par lesquelles elle peut agir sur
le monde, ou nous remonter vers elle." The claims of the
cabalah as a philosophy were to become widely enough recognised
to induce Liebnitz at one period to take up the study of it. See
Foucher de Careil, Liebnitz, la philosophie juive et la Cabale,
(151) Blau, The Christian Cabala, p. 9, suggests Reconati
(1290-1350) as the source of the Three World's doctrine, but it
may probably, in essence, be much older.
(152) Paris, 1532, p. 9 et seq. The B.M. Copy (621.d.29) has many
annotations in a hand similar to Dee's, but there is no signature,
for the original flyleaf is lacking.
(153) Characters, p. 102.
(154) This is almost the general theme, but see esp. Sect. 35,
p. 252, Forbes trans. "In these books [of the cabalists]
principally resides, as Esdras with a clear voice justly declared,
the spring of understanding, that is the ineffable theology of
the supersubstantial deity; the fountain of wisdom, that is the
exact metaphysic of the intellecual and angelic forms; and the
stream of knowledge, that is, the most steadfast philosophy of
(155) Blau, The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala,
observes (p. 61) that it was chiefly Franciscans who took up the
Cabalah and Dominicans who opposed it. It was a doctrine that
was always in danger of becoming suspect when carried to extremes.
One of the condemned theses of Pico was cabalistic. Reuchlin's
works were the centre of bitter controversies in France and Germany.
By the early seventeenth century it is usual to find the Cabalah
when treated of in orthodox works on divination and magic, dismissed
as a harmless amusement while it confines itself to confirming
established Christian dogmas, such as the Virgin birth, by applying
its peculiar methods of exegesis to the Talmud and Old Testament,
but held to be a pernicious device liable to devilish direction
if extended further. (Peucer's remarks in Les Divines,
IX, 10, p. 346, are an early example of this attitude: discussing
cabalistic "confirmations" of Christian doctrine, he
comments "Voila de plaisantes speculations recueilles apres
l'évenement, sans autorité de l'Escriture Saincte,
sans aucune raison ferme ou necessire, mais fondées en
raison probable, et propre à cause de sa convenance.")
By the middle of the century a typical moderate judgment is that
of Herbert of Cherburg (Dialogue, pp. 158-159); he admits
that "great and hidden mysteries and powers are contained
in numbers," but "as for the way of transporting letters,
and making anagrams, and reducing them afterwards to numbers,
I must take it to be a little better than ridiculous though I
must confess I have noted some things to have fallen out very
fatally in this kind."
(156) Morley, Agrippa, p. 85.
(157) Even Mersenne was prepared to apply himself to the Cabalah
for such purposes as occasion, demonstrating that Silo (Gen. LIX,
10) had the same numerical value in Hebrew as Messiah, i.e., 358,
and that Jesu and Silo had the same value (58) in Latin characters
(see Lenoble, Mersenne, p. 102).
(158) E.g., in John Colet's Two Treatises on the Hierarchies
of Dyonisius on Giles du Guez, tutor to Mary, librarian to
Henry VII; Erasmus sent Reuchlin's book to John Fisher etc. The
Christian Interpretation of the Cabala, esp. pp.34-36, 62-64.
(159) Ibid, p. 16. On Georgius and Bongus, see pp. 32, 38.
(160) Mersenne recognises in Plato and Pythagoras the Greek source
of cabalistic teachings on number, but does not approve of the
doctrines any more for this; he proceeds to praise Plato for setting
numbers above sensible things generally, but he censures him for
treating of the magical powers of certain individual numbers (Lenoble,
Mersenne, p. 97).
(161) Papus, La Cabbale, p. 73.
(162) De Cons. Phil., III, 11.
(163) Prologue, 11, 741-742.
(164) De Verbo Mirifico (1552 ed.), lib. 2, cap. IX, p.
(165) De Occ. Phil., lib. I, cap. 70.
(166) Alphabetae linguae sanctae, p. 5. Cheradamus there
writes "Namsi non mediocris est ponderis negotium de litens
Graecis vt Plato summa industria, & acri studio, & ingenio
sagaci, earum probat divitias, imo delicias in libro eui Cratyl
inscriptio est. n_ ent, vt, ipse inquit, alphabeto habemus quicquem
melius, quo de veritate primarum nomin_ indicemus...quanto magis
litere sanctissimae linguae quae supra omnium existimationem est
docta, lepida & gravis" etc. Later, p. 14 et seq he reproduces
passages from the Cratylus on letters of the Greek alphabet
and applies them to the Hebrew. (Pico similarly accepts the positive
statements of the Cratylus, denying its strictures to be
absolute as regards all names. Thus "Opinio Cratili de nominibus
ita est intelligenda non quod talia sint noia, sed quod talia
esse debenisi sint recta" (Conclusimes, p. 133, no.
53), a condition he feels is satisfied by some Hebrew names).
(167) De Aug. Scient. Prefatio (ed cit vol. II, p. 285)
Bacon is contrasting this with his later arrogant desire for knowledge
of good and evil. When Mersenne finally rejected a cabalistic
view of language he was compelled to declare that the names Adam
imposed were as indifferent and as totally conventional as any
others. Lenoble, Mersenne, p. 516.
(168) Sculptura, ed. C.F. Bell, 1906, ch. 11, pp. 11-13.
(169) In the Astronomical Appendix to his translation of Manilius'
Sphere, London, 1675.
(170) J. Pantheus, Voarehadiemia, Venice, 1536, p. 13.
(171) "Sepher jetzira authore abrahamo" (in Artis
Cabalisticae, ed. Pistorius, 1582) p. 890.
(172) Pico, de orat. dign., Sect. 34, pp. 249-250, declares
on the authority not only of the Hebrews but of Esdras, Hilary
and Origen, that Moses on Sinai received from God not only the
Law, that was written in five books, "but also a true and
more occult explanation of the law."
(173) Epistle Trans. Morrow, Studies, p. 181, see Ibid
p. 109 ff for comment and comparison with similar passage Epistle
VII; Phaedrus, 775 c-d.
(174) Ordinall of Alchemie, Chap. I (in Ashmole Theatrum
Chem., pp. 13-14).
(175) Cheradamus, Alph. ling. sanct. p. 28, for instance
engages in the not unusual attempt to derive even the names of
Greek gods from Hebrew words.
(176) The Wonderful Workmanship of the World, trans. T.T.,
1578 (by Lambert Danoeus) p. 10. (Similarly the cabalistic interpretations
of the Scriptures which brought them into line with philosophy
and natural science, might be said to be the solution for many
Renaissance thinkers to the perennial problem suggested by the
conflict or gulf between facts established by experience and the
letter of the text, as expressed recently by F. Hoyle after pointing
out the gaps and inaccuracies in Biblical cosmology: "Is
it in any way reasonable to suppose that it was given to the Hebrews
to understand mysteries far deeper than anything I can comprehend
when it is quite clear that they were completely ignorant of many
matters that seem commonplace to me?"--The Nature of the
Universe, Oxford, 1950, p. 115. The cabalah provided a means
by which the religious scientist of Dee's day could effectively
deny the validity of the minor in this argument, since the apparent
teachings of the text were no longer the complete, perfect or
most important aspect of the revelation to Moses.)
(177) E.g., Clement, Strom, VI, 11. Among other things
it is there argued that Abraham's servant can be shown to have
been in a state of salvation, from the similarity between the
number of them--expressed in Greek--and the sign of Jesus.
(178) Zohar III f.152a (quoted Duhem, Système du Monde,
vol. 5, p. 82).
(179) "Creavit Mundum tribus libres videlicet...scriptis,
numeratis, pronunciatio." (Sepher Jetzirah, cap. 1
in Pistorius' Artis Cabalisticae, p. 889.)
(180) La Kabbale, p. 91.
(181) Ibid, p. 93.
(183) Kraus, Al Jabir I, p. 256; see esp. p. 223 et seq:
"La Balance des Lettres."
(184) Pico, p. 52, "dall aria si formano le 22 lettere
dell'alfobeto ebraico.--Queste lettere fanno l'uffiuio delle idee
di Platone" etc.
(185) See Enrico Cardile's edition of Lull's Trathato della
Quita Essenza, Todi, 1924, which gives some bibliographical
information illustrating the Lull tradition.
(186) The genuineness of this work is discussed by Blau, Christian
Cabala. Appendix B, pp. 117-118 (cp. also for comments on
the work, pp. 17-18). Vide Supra n 148 for Dee's statement on
a Lull treatise transcribed for him that this work contains the
same teaching as the rest of Lull's writings.
(187) de Aud. Kabb., 1516 f aijv.
(188) Preface bijr.
(189) De Arte Cabalistica, 1517, f. IIv. Reuchlin continues
"Hinc recte acceptus esse apparet Cabalistae in arboe decem
Phiphereth in medio sephwoth ponendum censuerut magnum illum gedom
quasi lignum vitae in medio Ideales paradisi aut quasi lineam
rectam, ut diunt mediam...."
(190) Egluryn Phraethineb., vida infra. Ch. 10, n. 13.
(191) De Occ. Phil., lib. I, cap. 70.
(192) Preface, Aiijr.
(193) Marimus, Life of Proclus. Rosan trans. ch. XXVIII,
p. 29, on the "golden chair" ch. XXVI, p. 28.
(194) See Hopper, Mediaeval Number Symbolism, pp. 97-98.
(195) Rouse Ball notes that most merchants continued to keep accounts
in Roman numerals until about 1550, most monasteries until about
1650 (History of the Study of Mathematics, p. 7). The abacus
did not disappear from use until the mid-seventeenth century,
although Hindu numerals represent it symbolically.
(196) The almost complete dominance such commercial manuals secured
over instruction in the subject, and maintained throughout most
of the seventeenth century has been accounted the cause of the
destruction, or rather of the prevention of the growth of demonstrative
arithmetic in England, throughout this period (Cajori, History
of Elementary Mathematics, p. 188 et seq).
(197) Athenae Oxon., I, p. 255 (though Wood is speaking
here only of Records when at Oxford, before and after his years
(198) English Euclid f. 339v.
(199) Appended to A geometrical Practical treatise named Pantometria,
1591, is "A Mathematical discourse of the five regular Platonicall
Solides and their Metamorphoses into other Geometricall
Badges conteyning an hundred newe Theoremes at least
of his owne Invention, never mentioned before by any other
Geometrician." (Digges however announces his treatment
will be purely mathematical "meaninge not to discourse of
their secrete or mysticall appliances to the Elementall regions
and frame of the Celestiall Spheres as thinges remote and farre
distant from the Methode, nature and certaintie of Geometricall
(200) Even Mersenne on occasion. Thus in la Vérité
des Sciences he proves from the property of parallelograms--along
with other similar demonstrations--that angels may be in heaven
and earth at the same time, since these figures are all equal
when having the same base and lying between the same parallels,
but by displacement to right or left the greater sides may be
prolonged to infinity while the base and area remain finite and
constant. This "proof" is terminated by a prayer that
the guardian angel of the sceptic will keep him in mind of such
geometrical theorems (Lenoble, Mersenne, p. 236).
(201) Two Principal Systems, Dial. I, Salusbury trans.,
Vol. I, p. 3. Salviati explains to Simplicius that though he is
not far from the opinion of Plato and Pythagoras that the human
understanding partakes of divinity because it comprehends number,
yet the Pythagoreans only pretended to practise "numerology,"
giving this out to the populace to distract them from prying into
their genuine secrets (irrationals, etc.) and serious investigations;
for the people would either see the fatuity of this numerology,
and not wish to meddle further, or accepting it would be misled,
and have the Pythagoreans undisturbed in secure and private possession
of true mathematics.
(202) Thus the first mathematical work Mersenne gave to the world
was the Synopsis Mathematica, 1626, a reissue of ancient
writings exhumed and published by Maurolyc seventy-five years
(203) See Boutroux, L'Idéal Scientifique des Mathématiciens,
p. 46 (Boutroux instances Cavalieri's geometry which, although
seeming to replace the finite calculus by a new approach employing
radically different elements, is directly traceable to techniques
of Archimedes, and is throughout full of respect for "classical
(204) Euclid has employed geometrical representations in establishing
arithmetical propositions, lines being used much as the literal
symbolism of modern algebra (see Robbins & Karpinski study,
in Nichomachus, Introduction, p. 46).
(205) Cp. Dee, Preface *ijr "Practise hath led Numbers
farder, and hath framed them, to take upon them, the shew of Magnitudes
propertie: which is Incommensurabilitie and Irrationalitie.
(For in pure Arithmetike, an Unit, is the common
Measure of all numbers.) And, here, Numbers are become, as Lynes,
Playnes and Solides: sometymes Rationall, sometymes Irrationall.
And have propre and peculiar characters (as vz. vJl...)."
(206) See Boutroux, L'Idéal Scientifique, p. 77
et seq. Tartaglia makes it a reproach he observes, to a translator
of Euclid, that he permitted himself to employ indifferently "multiplicare"
and "ducrer." Vieta at the end of the century allowed
Arithmetic and Geometry, parallel but quite distinct rules; Descartes'
Geometry of 1637 first asserts their logical identity.
(208) f.125v. See De Morgan, The Connexion of Number and Magnitude (in the Fifth Book of Euclid). This book which "is all reasoning, unhelped by the senses" contains "exact knowledge of the connexion between the ideas between the ideas which are the foundation of one and the other science" (i.e., geometry and arithmetic) (p. 2).
(209) f.228v. On this book and contemporary algebraic practise,
see Heath, Euclid's Elements, Vol. 3, p. 8 et seq.
(210) Preface, *ijv.
(211) Boutroux points how geometrical considerations misled even
Vieta's algebraic practise, and precluded him from a clear view
of the problems he attempted (L'Imagination et les Math selon
Descartes, p. 40, "l'interpretation géometrique
conduit Viète à un ordre d'exposition tout à
fait vicieux" etc.). But the seventeenth century, though
it initiated and even went far by its innovations, to complete
and establish a change of attitude, did not absorb its own achievements
at once. De Morgan comments on Newton's Principia, that
"it is the work of an inordinate Euclidean, constantly attempting
to clothe in the forms of ancient geometry, methods of proceeding
which would more easily have been presented by help of algebra."
(Essays on the Life and Works of Newton, ed. Jourdain,
London, 1914, p. 128). In 1690 Leybourne only discusses Algebra
after a full treatment of Euclidean Geometry for "Algebra
cannot be with profit attained without a competent knowledge of
Geometry, as of such Definitions, Theorems
and Problems" as he has previously set out (Cursus
Mathematicus, p. 333).
(212) L'Idéal Scientifique (p. 182 et seq).
(213) Ibid, p. 95. The Geometry of 1637 was not an introduction
to this science, but a thoroughgoing application of algebra to
it "En d'autres termes l'algèbre selon Descartes,
précède logique ment les autres branches des Mathématiques
et elle n'est aucunemunt conditionnée par la nature des
problèmes auxquels on l'applique." (At the same time
though, this revaluation alters radically the rôle algebra
henceforth performs, there was nonetheless a certain procedural
continuity, since the view of its operations as essentially "combinatory"
"est parfaitément conformes, remarrmarquons le, aux
vues qui inspiraient les algébristes du Moyen-Ages, et
de la Renaissance, que nous avons...rapproché de Raymond
Lulle" p. 105).
(214) Ibid, p. 85, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance "L'algèbre,
en effet, est essentiellement une Règle (Regula
disaient les algébristes de la Renaissance, Ars certis
legibus et praeceptis contenta dit un commentateur de Descartes)."
Cp. Dee, Preface *ijv on "The Rule or Arte of Æquation"
"The Rule of Coss or Algebra" "The
Latins termed it, Regulam Rei & Census, that is, the
Rule of thyng and his value. With an apt name: comprehendyng
the first and last pointes of the works."
(215) Rather at times, did the tide seem to be running the other way; witness for example, the prohibition of Gigmilla (which picked out knots in the webs of cloth) secured by organised craftmen in 1552.
(216) Works, I. 20.
(217) M. Boas, Hero's Pneumatica a Study of its Transmission
and Influence (Isis vol. 40, 1949, pp. 38 et seq) has traced
the wide effects of Hero's work in the sixteenth century, which
in turn lead on to important discoveries in the seventeenth. References
multiply of course after Commandine's Latin edition of 1575 (Dee's
principle mentions are in the Preface of 1570--he had visited
Commandine in Italy shortly before); but many earlier writers--Leonardo,
Valla, Cardan, etc.--betray their acquaintance with it, and some,
like Ramus, are known to have possessed manuscripts of it.
(218) de Architectura, lib. X, cap. 8, Vol. II, p. 312.
(219) Delrio, Disquisit. Magic, Vol. I, 1, 14 (De Magia
artificiali) says this name was imposed by Hero and Pappus. It
is a variety of magic that "per se bona est," but "per
accidens utraque sit illicita" if engaged on with evil intentions.
(220) The New Attractive, 1581, f Aijv.
(221) An illustration of such a usage occurs in Gabriel Harvey's
praise of Artisans (Pierce's Supererogation, ed. Brydges,
p. 188) when he speaks of "the brave engineer, fine Daedalist,
skilful Neptunist, marvellous Vulcanist, and every Mercurial
occupationer, that is every Master of Craft."
(222) Diogenes Laertius, lib. VII (Loeb, ed. II, p. 83).
(223) Euclidis Elementorum libri XV, ed. S. Gracipis 1557,
Preface CVv (signed Johannes Dee, 1558, some notes by Dee; the
blank leaves covered with his notes on proportional series. BM.530/b/1).
(224) Two relevant passages occur in the Life of Marcelus; during the siege of Syracuse Archimedes "confided in the superiority of his engines, though he did not think the inventing of them an object worthy of his serious studies, but only reckoned them among the amusements of geometry. Nor had he gone so far, but at the pressing instances of King Hiero, who intreated him to turn his art from abstract notions to matters of sense and to make his reasonings more intelligible to the generality of mankind applying them to the uses of common life."
"Yet Archimedes had such a depth of understanding, such a
dignity of sentiment, and so copious a fount of mathematical knowledge,
that though in the invention of these machines he gained a reputation
of a man endowed with divine rather than human knowledge yet he
did not vouchsafe to leave any account of them in writing, for
he considered all attention to mechanics and every art that ministers
to common uses as mean and sordid, and placed his whole delight
in those intellectual speculations which, without any relation
to the necessities of life have an intrinsic excellence arising
from truth and demonstration only" (Lives, J.L. and
W. Langhorne, 3rd ed., 1778, Vol. 2, pp. 374-375, 379).
(225) See J.L. Heiberg, Le Rôle d'Archimede dans la développement
des Sciences exactes (Scientia, Vol. XX, 1916, p. 84 et seq).
(226) De Subtilitate, lib. XVI, p. 445.
(227) G. Séailles, Léonard de Vinci, Paris,
1906, pt. I, ch. 7, pp. 381-382. (Cp. Koyrés remarks, Galileo
and Plato, J.H.1, 1943, p. 406--"The sixteenth century,
at least its latter half, is the period of the reception and study
of the gradual understanding of Archimedes.")
(228) See T.L. Heath, introduction to The Works of Archimedes,
p. vi et seq.
(229) An important example was La Nova Scientia, 1550 of
Tartaglia (who had published a Latin translation of some of Archimedes
works in 1543); it set out to establish a number of propositions
on ballistics of which the proofs depend upon a number of precedent
"Diffinitioni," "Suppositioni" and "Comune
(230) E.G.R. Taylor comments truly enough: "the temper of
Dee's mind was such that he looked upon knowledge as the prerogative
of the initiate only." (Tudor Geography, p. 24.)
(231) See Morley, Agrippa, I, p. 221.
(232) As so frequently, Norton gives a convenient statement (Ordinall, preface):
"Hermes, Rases, Geber and Aviceri,
Merlin, Hortorlan, Democrit and Morien,
Bacon and Raimond with others many moe
Wrote under covert and Aristotle also...
From Laymen fro Clearkes and so from every man
They hid this art that no man find it can"
(in Ashmole, Theatrum Chemican, p. 8). Dee's son Arthur,
an ardent alchemist, and perhaps having inherited some of the
temperamental secretiveness of his father, held similar views:
a letter of his to Ashmole in 1649 survives (Ashmole MS. 1790
f.66r), written when Ashmole had informed him that he had translated
and was about to publish Arthur's Latin Fasciculus Chemicus.
Arthur's letter bitterly regrets that a translation of any hermetic
work should appear in print.
(233) R.A. Strathman, John Dee as Ralegh's Conjurer (H.L.Q. X. 4, 1947), p. 370.
(234) Dialogue, p. 2.