And now for the cause of Rudolph's displeasure, and the reason of the arrest.
First, it is surmised to be debt, but the merchant adds that although Kelly is known to owe a large sum to two Cologne merchants who trade in jewels, he owes nothing to the Emperor, nor ever had put him to any charge, save for coals and house room.
Next it is thought he was in league with a professed gold-maker from Venice, executed by the Duke of Bavaria at Munich, on April 25. (Of him, too, Burleigh has written in his letter to Dyer.) Thirdly, the Emperor's fear that Kelly would depart for England is adduced. Dyer had brought autograph letters from the Queen recalling him. A doctor's son in the town, who had served Sir Philip Sidney in England, and knew her hand, had reported this. It was of course an invention; and the merchant opines Dyer is of too rare a discretion to permit secret letters to be seen or even heard of; it is more likely that Kelly has some time or other vaunted at table that the Queen had sent for him. "He is a man who taketh, as I hear, a pleasure that Princes desire him." Fourthly, it is the doing of the powerful family of the Poppels, second family in the kingdom, and great enemies of the Rosenbergs, who have been "the setters up and principal maintainers of Sir Edward Kelly hitherto." The fifth report is that Kelly had distilled an oil or medicine for the Emperor's heart disease, which was poison. Lastly, the writer comes to what he takes for the true reason of Rudolph's anger.
An Italian, named Scoto, having cast imputations on Kelly's powers of projection, the Emperor sent for him to come and make proof of his art at Court. Kelly of course excused himself, saying he was sick. Three times he was summoned, and then the guard was despatched to bring him. The accusation was Laesus Mejestatis, and the city wonders what will be the end. The Emperor dare not openly execute him, for fear of Rosenberg and the strong feeling in the State for a change of ruler. Yet he may easily be put to death secretly in that castle where he is confined, "and Rosenberg not know otherwise than that he liveth, or is dead by disease. Almost grown now to be a common Practice in the Empire, and in the Palatine especially, noted that way."
This dark hint is almost a prophecy of Kelly's fate; but the doom was not yet quite prepared. On December 5, 1593, Dee received news of his having been set at liberty on the previus October 4, just two and a half years after his arrest. Not a word of him in Dee's diary in the meantime, until March 12 of that year, when the old man records that he dreamt much of Kelly two nights running, "as if he wer in my house, familiar, with his wife and brother."
Kelly characteristically says he was "utterly incapable of
remaining idle even in prison, and employed his time in writing
alchemical treatises," from which it seems he was allowed
books and papers, for his writings are mere compilations from
ancient chief masters of the art. In The Stone of the Philosophers,
dedicated to Rudolph, he speaks of two imprisonments, tells him
grandiloquently that he has for two or three years (1588-91) used
great labour and expense to discover for him that which might
afford profit and pleasure; and adds, with great bombast, "If
my teaching displeases you, you are still wandering astray from
the true scope and aim of this matter, utterly wasting your money,
time, labour and hope." Truth is more desirable than anything
else, and posterity will discover that he is to be counted among
those who have suffered for it. Kelly as a sufferer for truth
is highly entertaining, but he goes on to make a still more distasteful
allusion. "It always way, and always will be, the way of
mankind to release Barabbas and crucify Christ."
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