The principal authorities for Dee's Life are his own Diaries, already frequently cited in the foregoing pages, vix.: -
Dee's autobiographical Compendious Rehearsall ranks next in importance. The original MS. was partly burned in the fire in the Cottonian Library, but a transcript made by Dr. Thomas Smith (author of a life of Dee, see below) was printed by Hearne inthe Appendix to Johannis Glastoniensis Chronicon (Oxford, 1726). This printed version was collated with Ashmole's transcript of the original (Ashmolean Ms. 1788), and edited by James Crossley for the Chetham society, in Autobiographical Tracts of Dr. John Dee, Warden of the College of Manchester, 1851. In his preface, the editor promises another volume of correspondence and selections of Dee, which never appeared.
The Latin life of Dee, Vitae Eruditissimorum et Illustrium Virorum, by Dr. Thomas Smith (1707); the article in the Biographia Brittanica, edited by Kippis (1778, etc.), largely based upon the foregoing, and upon Strype;s Annals (1725, etc.); some account in Wood's Athenae Oxoniensis (Bliss), i. 639, 640, and Fasti, i. 143; in Foxe's Acts and Monuments, ed. Townsend, vii., 77, 85, 349 n., 638, 641, 642, 681, 734, 756, 783, 784; and in Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652), pp. 478-483; with Aubrey's Lives, ed. by Dr. A. Clark (1898); and A Treatise of Religious and Learned Men (1656), by Edward Leigh, are further sources. For the Manchester years, Hibbert and Ware's Foundations of Manchester (1833) is useful; and for Dee's descendants, see a General Account of Families derived from Bedo Dee, by H.B. Wilson (1815) and his History of Merchant Taylors' School (1812-14). Later writers who have descanted more or less at large upon the romantic episodes of Dee's partnership with Kelly, as apart from any other achievement ofhis long life, are William Godwin, in his History of the Necromancers (1834); Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions (1841); Isaac Disrael, Amenities of Literature (1841); W. Cooke-Taylor's Romantic Biography of the Age of Elizabeth (1842); A. E. Waite in his Lives of Alchemical Philosophers (Edinburgh, 1888), Studies in Myticism (1906), and The Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly (1893); Thomas Seccombe, Twelve Bad Men (1894); Adelung's Geschichte der Menschlichen Narrheit (1785-9); Lenglet de Fresnoy's Histoir de la Philosophie Hermetique (1742); Manget's Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa (Geneva, 1702), and Louis Figuier's L'Alchemie et les Alchemists (1856).
Purely fictitious accounts are those in John Dee, Astrologer of Queen Elizabeth, by "Hippocrates, jun." (1899), and "John Roby's" Traditions of Lancashire (1906).
For the study of witchcraft in the sixteenth century the following may be consulted: George Gifford, Subtle Practices of Witches (1587); T.A. Spalding, Elizabethan Demonology, etc. (1880); James I., Demonlogie (1603); Meric Casaubon, Treatise on Spirits, Witches, etc. (1672); Reginald Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584, 3rd edition 1605); Sir Walter Scott, Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830); Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, Defensative against Poyson (1583), and many other kindred works.
For the history of crystal gazing see Caspar Peucer, Les Devins (Antwerp, 1584); M.A. del Rio, Disquisitionum Magicarum, 1599; Pierre de l'Ancre, L'Incredulite et Miscreance du Sortilege (Paris, 1622); Guido Bonatus, The Astrologer's Guide (1866); Andrew Lang, in Psychical Research of the Nineteenth Century (1901), and Introduction to Northcote's Crystal Gazing (1905); Mrs. de Morgan, From Matter to Spirit (1863); Sir William Crookes, Psychic Force and Modern Spiritualism (1871), and his Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism (1874); Miss Goodrich Freer's Essays in Psychical Research (1899), where she compares the revelations of the spirits to Dee with the work "of a lady novelist of the eighties"!; M. Camille Flammarion's popular and numerous works; F. W. Myers' Phantasms of the Living (1886) and his Human Personality (1903); with the Proceedings of the Psychical Reserach Society, will all afford information upon psychical and spiritualistic progress. The consummate description of John Inglesant's tragic and pregnant vision of his brother's murder, seen before hand in the crystal, as related by J.H. Shorthouse, will occur to everyone.
Dee's own writings were extraordinarily numerous. In his Rehearsall he enumerated forty-nine. There is a list of seventy-nine in Cooper's Athenae Cantabrigensis, vol. ii., pp. 505-509; but some of these are doubtful: e.g., No. 66, Treatise of the Rosicrucian Secrets, etc.; for the Rosicrusians only came into existence about the time of Dee's death. Others are but notes from among Ashmole's manuscripts. One (No. 75) is the horoscope or nativity of Kelly, drawn or erected by Dee, which Ashmole has printed in his Theatrum (p. 479). To add to Mr. Cooper's list there are some Latin verses in Henry Perry's Egluryn Phraethineb (1595).
All the printed books by Dee are extremely rare. There is much information about them in Ames, Typographical Antiquities (e.d Herbert). Copies of thirteen are in the British Museum Library, including those of other writers to which he contributed prefaces, additions and notes, as Recorde's Grounde of Arts (many editions); Billingsley's Euclid; Roger Bacon's de Secretis operibus artis et naturae, etc. and various Ephemerides. Thre are three copies of the General and Rare Memorials pertaining to the Perfect Art of Navigation;" and both the enditionsof his Letter...Apologeticall, etc., addressed to the Archbishop as a protestation and plea for the course of "the philosophicall studies and exercises of a certaine studious gentleman" (1599, 1603). The petitions addressed to the House of Commons and the King are printed on broadsides (1604). There are also three copies of Casaubon's True Relation in the British Museum, one of them collated with the original MS. by William Shippen, of Stockport, 1683.
No adequate idea of the remarkable doings of Dee and Kelly over the crystal can be entertained without a studyof Dee's manuscript "Book of Enoch" in Sloane MSS., 663, 120, and 2,599, 1-45; and his "Claves Angelicae," 3191 in the same collection. the diagrams of complicated arrangement of letters and figures, their neatness of execution, mathematical precision and etymological intricacy are no less amazing than the clear bold text in which the descriptions are written in printing hand. Regretfully it was decided not to reproduce an example, owing to the lack of pictorial value.
The Portrait of Dee, now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, reproduced as Frontispiece to this volume, was painted when he was 67; it belonged to his grandson, Rowland Dee, and at his death it passed to the possession of Elias Ashmole and was by him bequeathed to the University of Oxford. It has been engraved by Scheneker and W.P. Sherlock. Engraved portraits of Dee and Kelly, by Francis Cleyne, are included, with Roger Bacon; Paracelsus; the prophet Mahomet; and Apollonius of Tyana, on the title-page of Casaubon's volume. Dee's is the same as an anonymous engraving inthe Print room, British Museum, froma younger (German) portrait, in a furred gown and peaked cap; the globe and compasses are in his right hand.
A number of stones and crystals, purporting to be Dr. Dee's, have from time to time been exhibited. Two were at the Tudor Exhibition; another was sold at Sotheby's in 1906, and is now in Dresden. That formerly in the possession of Lord Londesborough (once Horace Walpole's) appears to have been actually the Doctor's; also the globe of smoky quartz now in the British Museum.
The Pedigree which Dee made, tracing his descent from the mythical
times of King Arthur, and showing Queen Elizabeth, through her
Welsh ancestry, as related to the same source, is illuminated
with coats of arms and a small coloured profile portrait of "JOhn
Dee, philosophus," in a cap and furred gown. He here (Cotton
Charter, xiv. 1) describes his grandfather, Bedo Dee, as a
soldier fighting under the Emperor Maximilian I., in 1512; his
father, Rowland Dee, armiger, as gentleman sewer to King Henry
VIII.; and himself as a philosopher.
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