Chapter XVI


"All you that faine philosophers would be,
And day and night in Geber's kitchen broyle,
Wasting the chips of ancient Hermes' tree,
Weening to turn them to a precious oyle,
The more you worke the more you loose and spoile.
To you, I say, how learned soe'er you be,
Go burn your Bookes and come and learne of me."
- Sir Edward Kelly, Metrical Treatise on Alchemy.

Before continuing the story of Dee's life in Bremen and his return to England, the end of Kelly's extraordinary meteoric career, which six more years extinguished, must be briefly traced.

Dee expected Kelly to join him at Stade. He confidently thought they would return to England together, obedient to the Queen's summons. But Kelly was now a great man with Rudolph, who had given him an estate and a title, and established him at his Court in Prague as a citizen and councillor of state. Apparently he succeeded in keeping up the deception of making gold. The news of his promotion was conveyed by Dee to Walsingham, at Barn Elms, in a letter dated August 22, 1589, to which we shall again return. He speaks of Kelly as "my great friend, yet in Boemia," and surmises that Walsingham may have heard direct from him, who is "now in most favourable manner created a Baron of the Kingdom of Boemia."

The actual title conferred was eques auratus, a synonym for "miles" which took its origin in the fact that a knight's armour was gilded. In English it was of course "Sir." The title must have been conferred on Kelly very soon after Dee left Trebona in March; for by the end of June he is called Sir Edward by a couple of Englishmen, Robert Tatton and George Leycester, who with Edmond Hilton were at Trebona then, and came on to Dee at Bremen. Kelly commissioned them to take down particulars of the treachery of one Parkins, a Jesuit in Prague, who was plotting with the King of Spain and the Pope against England. He wished of course to score "his faithful discoverie of this treason." He also desired Burleigh and others in England to know what great honour had been done him, and he obtained in February, 1590, a confirmation of the grant of his title to send him over, lest there should be any doubt in English minds. The document, curiously enough, is countersigned by Dr. Jacob Curtius, the acquaintance of three years before.

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