We may be sure he had long been preparing for this day. He seated the two gentlemen at a table in the middle of the room, placing near them a couple of other tables spread, one with letters and records of his "studious life for the space of a halfe hundred years, now by God's favour fully spent," the other, with all his own books, printed and manuscript, a complete author's collection of original works. At the suggestio of the commissioners he had occupied the space of thirteen days in praparing the autobiography which he called "The Compendious Rehearsall of John Dee, his dutifull declaration, etc.," so freely quoted in these pages. "It was in some order of method most briefly and speedily contribed against this day;" and in every respect, save that of chronological order, it is a pattern document. It gives the impression of having been written down in fragments, each incident or recital being complete in itself and most carefully dated, on a separate sheet of paper, and then the sheets shuffled and picked out by chance to follow each other for putting together. The story leaps from college day sin 1547 to travels in 1571, on to Christmas gifts in 1590, back to the Queen's visit in 1575, thence to his improsonment and appearance before the Star Chamber in 1555, and his reformation of the Calendar in 1582. He passes very lightly over his late travels abroad, merely ading that he "was very ungodly dealt withall, when I meant all truth sincerity, fidelity and piety towards God, my Queen and Country." The catalogue of his works is valuable, but it is unnecessary to print it in the present volume. He concludes his list of eight printed and thirty-six manuscript works ("some perfectly finished and some unfinished yet") with the very latest, the Compendious Rehearsall itself, adding that there were many other books, pamphlets and discourses not set down. He explains that the list is given neither "as they were written nor by order of yeares," but hastily as they came next to hand "out of diverse chests and baggs wherein they lay." He ends the chapter with a remarkable proof of the fecundity of his still active brain, in spite of his sixty-five years.
"The most part of all these here specifyed lye here before
you on the table on your left hand; but by other books and writings
of another sort (if God grant me health and life thereto of some
ten or twelve years), I may hereafter make plain and without doubt
this sentence to be true, Plura latent, quam patent."
What other works he did accomplish in the sixteen years yet to
run of his long life, he described in an Appendix to the Rehearsal,
written about two years afterwards, and printed by Hearne, and
by the Chetham Society at the end of the autobiographical narrative,
to which he had already added a short chapter giving an account
of the result of the Commissioners' visit, calling it "The
Sequel of the Premisses."
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