As regards the manuscript treasures of the library, he mentios specially a great case or frame of boxes, full of rare evidences of lands in Ireland which had been in the hands of some of the ancient Irish Princes. Agreements for submission and tributes, with seals appended, and many other valuable records of the descent of these manors to such families as the Mortimers, the de Burghs, the Clares, etc. How he came by these, save in the way of a collector, does not appear. His interest in Welsh ancestry would account for his amassing Welsh records, of which he says there were many deeds of gift from Welsh princes and nobles, of land devoted by them to the foundation and enriching of religious houses. Norman deeds also dating back to the Conquest. These were all methodically stored away in separate boxes, each marked on the front - "the fore part of the boxes" - with chalk, explaining its contents. When he returned from his six years wandering abroad, and looked in the poor boxes, he found the name outside was all that was left. The deeds had been "imbezzled away, every one of them, which is a loss of great value in sundry respects, as antiquaries can testifie for their part, and noble heralds can tell for their skill, and as her Majesties officers, for her interest and titles Royall, may think in their consideration."
Near this great chest of boxes stood another box, very much less in size, measuring only two feet by one and a half, which was filled with nothing byt seals of coats of arms; many of these were named, and had alredy proved invaluable to students of heraldry and genealogy, as well as to the Queen's Heralds who had carefully examined them, also a number of other antiquaries as Camden, Stow and others. The Clerks of the Records in the Tower had sat whole days inthe library at Mortlake, "gathering rareties to their liking out of them." Dee was no blind collector, hoarding things because they were of value to himself. He was a true altruist, gaining his knowledge to share with others.
"Unto the Tower I had vowed these my hardly gotten muniments (gotten as in manner out of a dunghill, in the corner of a church, wherein very many were utterly spoyled by rotting, through the raine continually, for many yeares before, falling on them through the decayed roof of that church, lying desolate and waste at this houre).
"But truly well deserve they the imprisonment of the Tower, that will now still keepe them, if any publique warning by her Majestie or her right honorable Councill were given for restitution of them to the Office in the Tower."
Dee's own works were of course in the library although not included
inhis catalogue. He drew up a list of them for his Apology
to the Archbishop in 1595, by which it appears that before he
left England eight had been published. The unprinted books and
treatises, some, he owns, not perfectly finished, numbered forty-six.
To these others were added before he died; two that may be especially
named were upon the Three Oracular Sentences of the Ancients:
Nosce te ipsum, Homo Homini Deus, and Homo Homini Lupus,
(1592); and a "Treatise upon the Queen's Sovereignty over
the Seas," a fitting subject indeed for an author who had
personally known most of the great navigators, and who had already
written so intelligently upon the navy and the coast fisheries
of "Albion." The book was undertaken at the request
of "an honorable friend in Court." It had, of course,
a long Latin title - Thalattocratia Brytannica, etc. It
was finished at Manchester and dated September 20, 1597. Another
work projected, and perhaps partly finished, was to be called
De Horizonte Aeternitatis, to consist of three treatises
in answer to Andreas Libavius, who had published a book written
in misapprehension of something in Dee's Monas.
|Previous page||Table of Contents||Next page|