Beside this treatise Kelly certainly produced an earlier writing of some sort on the subject, which Dee discussed with the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 13, 1590. It had apparently incurred his displeasure. Mr. Waite attributes two other short papers to Kelly, The Humid Path and The Theatre of Terrestrial Astronomy. A couple of rather quaint alchemical poems - one of thirty-nine stanzas, from which the heading of this chapter is taken - are doubtless by him, perhaps written also in captivity.

During the next year letters were two or three times exchanged between Kelly and Dee, and in March, 1595, Francis Garland, who had then not long returned from Prague, "came to visit me and had much talk with me of E.K." Kelly was apparently then restored to the Emperor's favour, for on August 12, Dee says he "receyved Sir Edward Kelly's letters of the Emperor, inviting me to his servyce again." Did Kelly think there might be further hints to be got from his old alchemical master? Then under date of November 25, 1595, Dee enters this curt note: "the news that Sir Edward Kelly was slayne." Never thereafter does he mention this adventurer's name.

The prevalent story is that Kelly was again imprisoned in one of Rudolph's castles, and that, attempting to escape by a turret window, he fell from a great height and broke both legs, receiving other injuries, from which he shortly died. It is even said with some amount of credibility, that the Queen wrote imperatively to Dyer to secure his release, and that everything was prepared in readiness to convey him secretly to England, and that he was escaping for that purpose when the accident happened. This story has hardly been tracked home to its source. It may be true. On the other hand, the end may have come in the more swift and secret manner suggested by the English merchant. In either case, the spirit warning of eleven years before, that he should die a violent death, was fulfilled. Into his forty years as much adventure, folly, trickery and deceit, fortune, fame, favour, riches and poverty, had been crowded as could supply material for many a volume of romance.

Some of the incidents were indeed used a few years after his death by mor than one dramatist. Dee had only quitted the world about a year and a half when Kelly's pretensions, Dee's learning, and the whole paraphernalia of alchemy, were severely satirised by Ben Jonson in The Alchemist (1610), a play which reflects all the crudest superstitions of the time. The credulous knight, Sir Epicure Mammon, describes Subtle, the alchemist, as

"A divine instructor can extract
The soul of all things by his art; call all
The virtues and the miracles of the sun
Into a temperate furnce; teach dull nature
What her own forces are.
A man the Emperor
Has courted above Kelly; sent his medals
And chains to invite him."

In Butler's Hudibras, first published in 1663, but written ten or fifteen years earlier, Dee and Kelly are again cited, though the satire is chiefly directed against Sidrophel, i.e., William Lilly. The devil is said to have appeared "in divers shapes to Kelly;" and in the description of Sidrophel, these lines occur:

"He had been long toward mathematics,
Optics, philosophy and statics,
Magic, horoscopy, astrology,
and was old dog at physiology;...
He had read Dee's Prefaces before
The Devil and Euclid, o'er and o'er;
And all the intrigues 'twixt him and Kelly,
Lescus, and the Emperor, would tell ye."

One may wonder how much these scurrilous references had to do with fixing Dee's reputation in the eyes of his immediate posterity.

Previous page Table of Contents Ch. 17