Dee's income was now almost a negligible quantity. The parsonages had paid him no rent since he left England. He went two or three times to Lambeth, and talked boldly to Archbishop Whitgift of his right to them.
He began to interst himself in his immediate neighbourhood with the idea of stopping the "Bacchus Feast," at Brentford, a rowdy celebration which had excited his indignation and of which he gave the Bishop of London a warning.
In August a domestic tragedy occurred: one of the women servants became melancholy and went out of her mind. Lunacy being a disease beyond even Dee's medical knowledge, and for 300 years after, being treated more or less as demoniacal possession, it is no wonder that the remedies he tried were ineffectual. It seems another instance of the false views of Dee's character that have been repeated over and over again, that the editor of his Manchester diary urges as proof of Dee's magic and evil experiments that "some of the inmates of his house became suicides when in his service."
"Aug. 2. Nurs her great affliction of mynde. Aug. 22. Ann my nurse had long byn tempted by a wycked spirit, but this day it was evident how she was possessed of him. God is, and hath byn, and shall be her protector and deliverer. Amen.
"25th. Ann Frank was sorrowful, well comforted, and stayed in Gods mercyes acknowledging.
"26th. At night I anoynted (in the name of Jesus) Ann Frank, her brest, with the holy oyle.
"30th. In the morning she required to be anoynted, and I did very devoutly prepare myself and pray for vertue and powr, and Christ his blessing of the oyle to the expulsion of the wycked, an then twyse anoynted, the wycked one did resist a while.
"Sept. 8. Nurse Ann Frank wold have drowned hirself in my well, but by divine Providence I cam to take her up befor she was overcome of the water."
After this Dee had the woman carefully watched.
"Sept. 29. Nurse Ann Frank most miserably did cut her own throte, afternone abowt four of the clok, pretending to be in prayer before her keeper, and suddenly and very quickly rising from prayer, and going toward her chamber as the mayden her keper thoght, but indede straight way down the stayrs into the hall of the other howse behind the doore did that horrible act. And the mayden who wayted on her at the stayr fote followed her and missed to fynde her in three or fowr places, tyll at length she hard her ratle in her owne blud."
In November the Queen came to Richmond and sent for Dee. She offered gaily to send him something to "kepe Christmas with." This promise was repeated to his friend, Richard Cavendish, a week or so later: "she told him she wold send me an hundred angells to kepe my Christmas withall. Next day, December 4, the Queen's Majestie called for me at my dore, circa 3 1/2 a meridie, as she passed by, and I met her at the East Shene Gate, where she graciously putting down her mask did say with mery chere, `I thank thee, Dee. There was never promise made but it was broken or kept.'"
The thanks were obviously ironical for the reminder of the promise; the rest of the speech was rather cruelly jocose, for, as Dee adds, she had promised to send the money that day. However, on the 6th, an earnest of the gift arrived, in the shape of £50. On the 14th, she again called for Dee as she rode by his door, "to take ayre," and he met her at the park gate as before. He does not indicate the subject of the conversation, but it was probably a request on his part for some kind of royal permission to continue his experiments in alchemy or transmutation, for on the 16th he tells of a visit from Richard Cavendish, who has received from the Queen, "warrant by word of mouth to assure me to do what I wold in philosophie and alchemie, and non shold chek, controll, or molest me." Coupled with this message, she sent another promise to make up the £100.
Dee's mind was now bent, he says, to deal with his "alchemical
exercises," and the only distractions he appears to have
had were the constant visitors and small disasters of the children.
The boy Rowland fell into the Thames on August 5, over head and
ears, about noon or soon after. Their favourite place of play
seems to have been on the river bank, and accidents there were
of no infrequent occurrence. Arthur, when a child, had fallen
from the top of the Water-gate Stairs to the bottom, and had cut
his forehead badly. Theodore also had a nasty fall.
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