Dee's good name was one of his dearest possessions, but he had long seen it shadowed and dimmed. Another treasure - his "painful" Jane - the wife who had loyally cleaved to him through good and ill report, was to be the next of which he was to be bereft. She was so much his junior that he might reasonably have expected her to tend his declining years and to survive him. But it was thoroughly in keeping with her unselfish character and devoted life that her death came as a sacrifice to duty. In the spring of 1605, a terrible scourge of plague visited Manchester. She nursed her children safely through the epidemic, but fell a victim to it herself. She died and was buried on March 23 in the collegiate church of St. Mary. The old man had no heart to take up his pen and record her death. The bare fact is all we know, from another source; and the fate of all Jane's children, save Arthur, is wrapped in a like mystery. At her death, Jane was a month under fifty years old; the twenty-seven years of her married life had been crowded years, the one thought in them all to watche over and ward her great childlike, learned, marvellous husband and her children. Now she passed the task on to her daughter Kate, who faithfully fulfilled it.
A few fragments of angelic visions, which after nearly twenty years were once again vouchsafed, are all that remain to tell of th last two years of the old man's life.
Bartholomew Hickman was the skryer, and Dee was in London, "at Mrs. Goodman her house," very ill. On March 20 and 29, Raphael appeared, to comfort him as regards his alarming symptoms of haemorrage, and bade him use the medical skill that God had given him. Dee, in utter dejection, owned that he was beaten in his "great attempt to make the council privy of my beggary, and to offer the Earl of Salisbury such my duties as I may perfect to his account." He was right to hope nothing from the great Burleigh's little-minded son. Robert Cecil lacked almost everything that had made William Cecil great, even a great sovereign to serve.
In July Dee was again in London, this time staying in Westminster, at the "Three Kings" in King Street. Katherine was with him, his devoted daughter, now a woman of twenty-six, apparently unmarried. Two companions or servants, Patrick Saunders and Thomas Turner, were in attendance. On the 9th, the angel Raphael came to the sad and broken old man of eighty, holiding out promises and hopes that seem cruelly delusive. But Dee was still wrapped in that inviolable armour of faith or credulity that had already withstood so many severe shocks. Whether he now actually beheld Raphael, whether he still with his ears heard the angel's voice, or whether only within his spiritual consciousness he felt the impulse and the message, is quite immaterial. But it is noticeable that there are now no descriptions of Raphael as an apparition. The message is all he heeds. As he is sinking slowly down into his grave from natural decay, there is a double and figurative meaning to be read into the angel's words. Raphael bade him first believe that his perishing bodily frame shall be restored and made sound, for, however reluctant he at his great age may feel, he is to go shortly on a long journey to friends beyond the sea, where the secrets of wisdom, the philosopher's stone, the book of St. Dunstan, and "that Jewel that was delivered," shall be made known to him. He is not to go alone, for his good friend, John Pontoys, will come from Dantzic to be his stay and helper. "Therefore set thy things in order for thy Wardenship, and all thy other worldly affairs, as shortly as thou canst, by all means possible." He is not to mistrust because of his physical weakness, for he shall have long life like Hezekiah, and instead of living in want or beholden to those who love him not, he shall be provided for where he shall be able to do God service. He shall enjoy fame and memory to the end, and Raphael will accompany him, as he did the young Tobias, on his journey. Perhaps Dee remembered the mystical words of Gabriel, used to him at Cracow in April of 1584, -
"Happy is he that hath his skirts tied up and is prepared for a journey, for the way shall be open unto him, and in his joynts shall there dwell no wearinesse. His meat shall be as the tender dew, as the sweetness of a bullock's cud. For unto them that have shall be given, and from them that have not shall be taken away. For why? The burr cleaveth to the willow stem, but on the sands it is tossed as a feather without dwelling. Happy are they that cleave unto the Lord, for they shall be brought unto the storehouse, and be accounted and accepted as the ornaments of his beauty."
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