Continuing the correspondence six months later, when additional matter rises to mind, Sir Thomas writes again to Ashmole, in 1675, with more particulars of the "solemn process."
"I was very well acquainted with Dr. Arthur Dee, and at one time or another he has given me some account of the whole course of his life. I have heard the doctor say that he lived in Bohemia with his father, both at Prague and in other parts. That Prince or Count Rosenberg was their great patron, who delighted much in alchemie. I have often heard him affirme, and sometimes with oaths, that he had seen projection made, and transmutation of pewter dishes and flaggons into silver, which the goldsmiths at Prague bought of them. And that Count Rosenberg played at quoits with silver quoits made by projection as before. That this transmutation was made by a powder they had, which was found in some old place, and a book lying by it containing nothing but heiroglyphicks; which book his father bestowed much time upon, but I could not hear that he could make it out. He said also that Kelly dealth not justly by his father, and that he went away with the greatest part of the powder, and was afterwards imprisoned by the Emperor in a castle, from whence attempting to escape down the wall, he fell and broke his leg, and was imprisoned again. That his father, Dr. John Dee, presented Queen Elizabeth with a little of the powder, who having made trial thereof, attempted to get Kelly out of prison, and sent some [persons] to that purpose, who, giving opium in drink unto the keepers, laid them so fast asleep that Kelly found opportunity to attempt an escape; and there were horses readie to carry him away; but the business unhappily succeeded as is before declared. Dr. Arthur Dee was a young man [he was a boy of eight] when he saw this projection made in Bohemia, but he was so inflamed therewith that he fell early upon that study, and read not much all his life but books of that subject; and two years before his death, contracted with one Hunniades, or Hans Hanyar, in London, to be his operator. This Hans Hanyar having lived longin London and growing in yhears, resolved to return into Hungary. He went first to Amsterdam, where he was to remain ten weeks, till Dr. Arthur came to him. the Dr. to my knowledge was serious in this businesse and had provided all in readiness to go, but suddenly he heard that Hans Hanyar was dead."
During his residence in Moscow, Arthur compiled a book of alchemical notes and extracts, which was published at Paris in 1631 under the title of Fasciculas Chemicus, etc. Ashmole, among his early enthusiastic labours upon alchemical authors prosecuted under the name of "James Hasolle," translated this into English in 1650. While the book was at press in the beginning of the year, he wrote to Arthur, apparently as a stranger, informing him of his occupation, and putting at the same time a question or two upon his father's books.
Arthur's reply, dated Norwich, January 31, 1649 , now in the Bodleian Library, begins by expressing regret that "you or any man should take plains to translate any book of that nature into English, for the art is vilified so much already by scholars that daily do deride it, in regard they are ignorant of the principles. How then can it any way be advanced by the vulgar? But to satisfie your question, you may be resolved that he who wrote Euclid's Preface was my father. The Fasciculus, I must cofess, was my labour and work." He ends by saying that he will be in London that day week, and if Ashmole wants to see him, he may hear of him in Butler's Court at the end of Lombard Street, at his son Rowland Dee's warehouse. The writing, and especially the signature of this letter, are good testimonies to the care bestowed by William Camden of Westminster School on the boy's handwriting. His father, as we remember, had asked for special supervision of the roman hand, since matter, poor in itself, but set down in a good style, did, in his opinion, often receive more attention than good material badly written and expressed.
Browne had received from Arthur a complete catalogue of all his
father's writings, both finished and intended. But there was one
not included, viz., the Book of Mysteries. Sir Thomas,
writing in 1675, says he never heard him say one word of "the
Book of Spiritts sett out by Dr. Casaubone, which if hee had knowne
I make no doubt butt hee would have spoake of it unto mee, for
he was very inquisitive after any manuscripts of his father's,
and desirous to print as many as he could possibly obtain."
He goes on to say that Arthur understood that Sir William Boswell,
the English Resident in Holland, owned a number of Dee's MSS.,
which he had collected and kept in a trunk in his Dutch home.
Boswell refused many applications from Arthur for leave to print
some of these, which the famous mathematician's son considered
should not be locked up from the world. Boswell announced his
intention of printing them himse, which of course he never did.
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