Chapter XVII


"If I have done my duriful service any way to her Majesties well liking and gracious accepting, I am greatly bound to thank Allmighty God, and during my life to frame the best of my little skill to do my bounden duty to her most excellent Majestie."

- Dee, Compendius Rehearsall

Upon Dee's arrival in Bremen on April 19, 1598, a house was at once hired, and the family moved in on May 13. He put out his three saddle horses to grass in the town meadow till Michaelmas, for nine ducats, and presented the twelve Hungarian coach horses to the Landgrave of Hesse, to whose kindness he had been indebted for protection as he passed through his territories. In June, Thomas Kelly, his wife Lydia; Francis Garland, and Dyer's man, Edward Rowley, left for England. At the same time Edmond Hilton returned to Prague. An agreement or bond had been entered into between the late partners that the proceeds of the wonderful discovery should be shared. Hilton was back on July 30, with news of Kelly: perhaps not good news, for three nights after, towards daybreak, Dee's sleep was disturbed by a "terrible" dream, which visited him not for the first time, that "Mr. Kelly would by force bereave me of my books." Hilton left almost immediately for England with a letter from Dee to Walsingham to disclose the treason of the Jesuit, Parkins. This letter has been already referred to [p. 201 in original], but it contains other interesting matter, all conveyed in Dee's beautiful neat hand. He has already written to acknowledge the Queen's gracious letter of safe conduct, received from Walsingham, but Hilton and the two English gentlemen, Tatton and Leycester, are still detained at Stade, waiting for a wind. After speaking of the designs of the Jesuit, he goes on to give the Secretary an important summary of the state of affairs in the Low Countries, where the struggle for independence was well advanced. "The Provinces all incline to a desire to endure one fortune and become one whole united. They acknowledge Her Majestie's Wars to be just but uncompassable. Their minds are getting alienated from us, only fayr means and great wisdom will win them over." He has taken counsel of "the one of all the inhabitants the most sharp-witted, the greatest understander of all occurrences generall of secret purposes; the best languaged one (as knowing Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Dutch, etc.); and one employed in the councils; one who was courageous in the first bickerings with Spaniards at Antwerp; who has observed all the beginnings and proceedings of errors, political and military, committed on all hands. Now and then he visiteth me, and I have asked him to pen his opinion on what can be done to recover and reform the States, but as yet he has not found leisure." Then he begs the Secretary's leniency if he has offended in writing of matters not pertaining to him, "and of which no doubt your honour has already had all necessary advertisement from properly authorised persons." He will write no more of public affairs, his coming thither was no public but his private cause, the beginning of his "nere return-making into my most derely beloved Native Country."

At the same time (August 20), Dee wrote to his friend, Mr. Justice Young, that the messengers had been delayed twenty-five days waiting for a wind; that he feared the Low Countries were bent on shaking off the Queen's authority if they could; and that he feared he sould have "to endure this Breamish habitation this winter, as I do not hear a word of the approach of Sir Ed. Kelly, or of Mr. Dyer's return."

In Bremen, Dee mingled with all the learned and distinguished men of the time. A memento of this period is to be found in an album, the Thesaurus Amicorum, of Timon Coccious (or Koch), a young Bremen student who died while at Leyden University three or four years after. The album of white vellum, faded and yellowed with age, with its edges still shining with the mellow lustre of old gold, was the receptacle of autographs, wise and pithy sayings, original or quoted, all inscribed after the beginning of July, 1589. Sayings from Plautus and Seneca, Juvenal, Pythagoras and Homer, follow and press close upon the wisdom of Boethius, from De Consolatione, and the divine poetry of Dante. The first to write in the book was Bruno, Count Mansfeldt, Helmstad, July 1. He is followed by Dr. Cristoph Pezel, then Professor of Divinity and superintendent of the churches at Bremen, and on the seventh page is Dee's beautiful signature and his motto - in the light of posterity's unchallenged view of him, full of irony - "Nothing useful if not honest."

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