Chapter XXIII


"If I read aught in Heaven,
Or Heaven write aught of fate, by what the stars,
Voluminous or single characters
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows and labours, opposition, hate
Attends thee; scorns, reproaches, injuries."

- Milton, Paradise Regained

A few days after the diary closes, Dee's fourth son, Theodore, died. The boy was just over thirteen, perhaps at the Grammar School. Michael, we remember, had died at Mortlake seven years before, so the only sons left were Arthur and Rowland, both now grown almost to man's estate. Within about a year, Arthur married, and soon embarked on his successful career as a physician in London, Manchester, Moscow and Norwich, to which we can return later.

Arthur's wife was Isabella, daughter of Edmund Prestwich, Justice of the Peace, of Manchester, a member of a family whose name is perpetuated by a large district of the town. The marriage took place in 1602, when Arthur was twenty-four, his bride just under twenty. The young couple settled with or near his parents at first, and Dee had the joy of seeing grandchildren grow up around him. Four of Arthur's twelve children were born during the old man's life, and he pleased himself by drawing a horoscope for two of these, Margarita 1603, and Jane 1605, on the vellum leaves of a small square manuscript volume which still fills us with wonder at his boundless industry. It contains an anatomical drawing of the human body and tables of astrological signs for its different parts, aphorisms, studies of medicine, the actions of metals, and other hermetic notes. Arthur's horoscope, drawn and expounded by his father in the same book, is sufficiently remarkable, with its prophecy that he should have good fortune from a prince, and die abroad, a violent death. In the centre of the figure, Arthur himself has added the words "sententia patris mei de mea nativitate erat. Magna bona cum multis malis." Arthur only added one horoscope, that of his seventh child, Isabel, born 1614; otherwise, as they appeared almost annually (twelve in eighteen years), he contented himself with simply writing names and dates on leaves of coarse paper, added to the beginning and end of his father's little commonplace book, which has been rebound roughly in cheap modern cloth.

Beyond these events, there is nothing to tell of the next three years, which are without a single jotting of his own in any of his diaries; but the old prejudices and suspicions must have revived in a very active and bitter form. The aged student could endure them less patiently than before. He had lost hope of outliving them; he had lost his Queen, who, though she had held out to him promises of preferment as unsubstantial as a mirage of the desert, had ever been friendly and kind; had constantly welcomed, nay, invited, him to her presence; and had apparently maintained her faith in him to the last. Burleigh's death in 1598, and now the Queen's, left him without patron and protector. Elizabeth died at Richmond on March 23, 1603, but Dee, presumably, was far away in Manchester, and not near at hand at Mortlake, even had he been required. The course of the magnificent life was run, and no prognostications of her astrologer could put hope into the physicians and courtiers watching around that royal deathbed. The Queen was seventy, and had reigned for fifty-three years.

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