It was a very short interlude. For Laski had not yet paid him the "money long since due," and Kelly once more vows he will leave, for the "actions are unsuccessful and are to be cut off." Laski was again admitted to the sittings, and King Stephan granted them another interview. Laski urged the King to take the two alchemists into his service and give them "a yearly maintenance." In obedience to his instructors, Dee promises to make the philosopher's stone, if the King will bear the charge. He does not profess that he can, but he believes the angels will teach him the secret. Stephan was not so sanguine. In the King's private chamber, a sitting was held, with the crystal set before him, but he remained unconvinced. He gave no encouragement, and in August the pair, hopeless of patronage from Poland, returned to Prague, where Jane and Joan Kelly, the children and the servants, had been left under Edmond Hilton's care.

An anglicised Italian pervert, Francisco Pucci, now appeared upon the scenes and was admitted to the sittings at the shew-stone. Pucci had been a Lyons merchant, but had "laid aside his trade to study sacred letters," and become a theological disputant of the current type. Professing himself a Protestant, he came to Oxford to study, graduated M.A. in 1574, and in London, Basle, Antwerp, and other places, became an open and notorious writer and champion against the Church which he had abjured. He had followed Socinus to Cracow, and had noisily opposed the Jesuits there. Soon after he recanted, became a Romish priest and secretary to a cardinal in Rome, where he died in 1606, and was buried in the Church of San Onofrio on the Janiculum.

On his information it appears that three copies of Dee's manuscripts were burned in Prague, April 10, 1586. These were the Book of Enoch, the Forty-eight Keys of the Angels (Claves Angelicae) and the Liber Scientioe Auxilii et Victoria Terrestris, works which had been written down from the spirit revelations since the partnership with Kelly had commenced. The books burned were not of course the originals, the two first of which still exist. Of the Book of Enoch there are three copies, one made by Kelly, a remarkable tribute to the mechanical skill in draughtsmanship, the extraordinary application and ability, of this very versatile personage. It contains hundreds of diagrams of figures, round or rectangular in shape, composed of an infinite number of minute squares each containing a letter or figure. These letters occur in every possible combination and order, some reading straight across the page, others diagonally, and so on. Dee gives an extraordinary story of the restoration on April 30 of the books said to have been burned, by a man like a gardener, invisible to himself, to Joan Kelly, and to all in the garden at the time, save Kelly. The gardener placed them under an almond tree in Carpio's vineyard, on a sloping bank between the banqueting house and the "cliff side." Trickery of Kelly's, no doubt.

The feeling against these foreign adventurers grew strong in the city. Sixtus V., who had succeeded as Pope, issued a Papal edict, dated May 29, 1586, banishing Dee and Kelly from Prague within six days. It seemed to trouble them very little, for Dee was already away on a visit to a new patron, William Ursinus, Count Rosenberg, at his country seat on the Moldau. From thence he went to see some glass works at Volkanau, about twelve miles north of the city; then he proceeded to Leipsic in time for the fair on May 11. There he met Lawrence Overton, an English merchant to whom Jane Dee had given kind attention and hospitality when he had fallen ill in her house a year before. Overton had returned from England, where he had seen Edmond Hilton, sent in November with letters to the Queen, Sir Francis Walsingham, and others. Hilton was expected back shortly. Overton was on the point of returning to England, and by him another letter to the Secretary was despatched.

Dee's letters to Walsingham, with their veiled allusions to secret affairs, form one of the grounds upon which the supposition has been based that he was employed by the Queen's minister as a secret spy and diplomatic agent abroad, and that his cabalistic diagrams contained a cipher. An elaborate theory was constructed to support this contention.

Previous page Table of Contents Next page