Chapter XX


Let me weep
My youth and its brave hopes, all dead and gone,
In tears which burn! Would I were sure to win
Some startling secret in their stead, a tincture
Of force to flush old age with youth, or breed
Gold, or imprison moonbeams till they change
To opal shafts! - only that hurling it
Indignant back, I might convince myself
My aims remained supreme and pure as ever.

- Browning, Paracelsus.

The immediate result of the Commissioners' visit to Mortlake was a gift of a hundred marks from the Queen. The Countess of Warwick sent off "her gentleman, Mr. Jones, very speedily," to tell Dee that Sir Thomas Gorges "had very honorably dealt for" him in the matter, and that the gift was granted. The money was brought next day (December 2) by Sir Thomas himself. He brought also a letter "full of courtesie and kindness and a token of six old angells of gold," from Lady Howard to Jane. Dee seems to have become intimate with Lady Warwick through his early friendship with John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who died, aged twenty-four, in 1554. In his Preface to Euclid, Dee has left an etched portrait of his own age. "No two besides himself," says Dee, "can so well say what roots vertue had fastened in his breat, what rules of godly and honorable life he had framed to himself, what vices noteable he took great care to eschew, what prowesses he purposed and meant to achieve."

Dee's "few lynes of thankfulness" to the Queen for her gift were probably written at once, but only delivered by Lady Warwick on February 15, at Hampton Court, on the eve of a move to Somerset House.

On the strength of this dole, Dee was able to settle some pressing debts, and to hire a coach and go off with his wife and Arthur and Kate, to spend Christmas and New Year's Day at Tooting, "at Mr. R. Luresey his howse." The Lord Treasurer, he reports, lay dangerously sick at the time. On the 2nd they returned. On the 7th, welcome letters, perhaps containing money, arrived from Count Laski in Livonia, to which Dee replied on the 20th, sending his letter by a Danish ship called the John of Dansk.

His reputation as an astronomer and mathematician now procured for Dee a pupil, from whom he was to receive in exchange a considerable gift or loan.

"March 17, 1593. At six after none received from Mr. Francis Nicholls £15, part of one hundred pounds, the rest whereof, £85, is to be receyved from Mr. Nicholls within a fortnight after the annunciation of Our Lady next; and after that in the beginning of June £100, and in Julie the third hundred pownds, and I am to teach him the conclusion of fixing and teyming of the moon."

A rather unwise purchase seems to have been made this may; Dee bought the "next mansion house, with the plat and all the appertenances abowt it," of Mr. Mark Pierpoint, of Mortlake. It is true the whole mansion only cost £32, but it entailed other purchases and soon had to be mortgaged. Possession was not obtained till the autumn. A "hovel" in the yard was bought from Goodman Welder in July for a new angel and five new shillings. The bargain with Pierpoint was concluded in the street, when "before Jane my wife, I gave him a saffron noble in ernest for a drink penney."

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