Dee's health was now often affected in one way or another. The first mention of trouble in the kidneys was in 1592, when, at Court at Greenwich, a midnight seizure was eased by a glyster, applied by Dr. Giffard. There were other slight attacks, and in March 1594, he had a
"Great fit of stone in my left kidney: but I drunk a draught of white wyne and salet oyle, and after that, crabs' eyes in powder with the bone in the carp's head, and about four of the clock I did eat tosted cake buttered, and with sugar and nutmeg on it, and drunk two great draughts of ale with it; and I voyded within an hour much water and a stone as big as an Alexander seed. God be thanked! Five shillings to Robert Web part of his wages."
This servant was discharged on June 23 with forty shillings for a full satisfaction of all things. "On July 1, I gave Robert yet more, a French crown for a far well."
A year and a half passed after the visit of the Commissioners, and beside the immediate result of a donation of a hundred marks, nothing had accrued to better Dee's position. He determined then to redouble his efforts and bring something to pass. He certainly had enlisted the aid of powerful friends, although no doubt there were still many suspicious enemies.
On May 3, 1594, the Queen sent for him to come to her in the privy garden at Greenwich, between six and seven o'clock in the evening. She received him alone save for the presence of her two ladies, Lady Warwick, Dee's very good friend, and Lady Cecil. Dee presented her with a writing which he calls "the heavenly admonition," which he says she took with grateful thanks. On the 18th, he writes "Her Majestie sent me agayne the copy of the letter of E.K. with thanks by the Lady Warwick." He had received letters from Kelly four or five weeks earlier, on March 28, and he probably had copied out for her certain passages, doubtless referring to the fabulous transmutation of metals. Did he still hold out hopes that he might be able to achieve a like success? On the 21st, "Sir John Wolley moved my sute to her Majesty. She granted after a sort, but referred all to the Lord of Canterbury." "On the 25th. Dr. Aubrey moved my sute to her Majesty, and answere as before." His suit was promotion to the Mastership of St. Cross, the post which had so long been the goal of his hopes, but which he was never destined to attain. He had set out at length in his Rehearsall for the Commissioners, sundry good reasons why he desired it, "rather than any other living, see, or dignity of like value in any other place." First, he gave as a reason his longing to retire to a quiet spot away from the multitude and hoards of friends and acquaintances, chance visitors, and distinguished strangers, who positively "haunted" his house at Mortlake. There, he could deny himself to no one without offence or breach of friendship. It was fatally easy and cheap for every curious person from London, or from the Court, to find his way down to that big rambling place by the riverside, with whose stills and furnaces, and wonderful doings, rumour was so rife. So much for privacy, next for economy. Fuel, coals, bricks, and all things necessary for his purpose, will be cheaper at Winchester than near London; the glass-houses of Sussex are not far away, and he will be able to give personal supervision to the making of special vessels. At Mortlake there are too many eyes and tongues. The south coast is within easy reach, and it will be possible to communicate with his friends abroad, to get over things and workers necessary, and "have the more commodious place for the secret arrival of special men to come unto me there at St. Crosses; some of which men would be loath to be seen or heard of publickly in Court or City." Is it possible that he is still thinking of Kelly, who, though then (1592) an Emperor's favourite and the bearer of a title, could easily in England be identified with Talbot the coiner, forger, and necromancer of former days?
Then Dee sets out in his Rehearsall the capacity of the
dwelling at St. Cross, which is roomy enough to entertain rare
and excellent men from all parts of the world, as well as any
of his fellow-countrymen. This will be for the honour and credit
of England. There is room also for lodging his staff of mechanical
assistants; for a printing house to be set up for "reproducing
good, rare, and antient bookes in Greek and Latin," and "some
of my own, to be printed with my own ordering and oversight."
Then he lays stress upon the desirable surroundings, a chapel
where divine service is held every day, for bringing up his children
and family devoutly. He ends with the advantages of Winchester
School, close at hand, not only for his four sons "to become
Grammarians in," but for his obtaining help from the "good
Greek and Latin Grammarians and fair writers in that school, for
copying out books for her Majesty."
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