Chapter III


"In her princely countenance I never perceived frown toward me, or discontented regard or view on me, but at all times favourable and gracious, to the joy and comfort of my true, faithful and loyal heart."

- DEE, of Queen Elizabeth.

The promised benefice did not yet come, although Dee's friends at Court were all busy on his behalf. Either now or later, he was actually mentioned as Provost of Eton, and the Queen "answered favourably." Mistress Blanche Parry and Mistress Scudamore, lady-in-waiting to Anne, Countess of Warwick, urged his claims for the Mastership of St. Cross at Winchester, which it was thought Dr. Watson would soon vacate. But all he seems to have obtained was a fresh dispensation from Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, to enjoy the two Midland rectories for ten years.

He continued his literary work, and beside writing new manuscript treatises, bethought himself of an old one, which although printed had not received great attention. This was the Propoedeumata Aphoristica (London, 1558), dedicated to his old and dear friend and fellow-student at Louvain, Mercator, "my Gerard," as he affectionately calls him. In January, 1568, Dee presented a copy of a new edition, with an address to the studious and sincere philosophical reader, dated December 24, 1567, from "our museum" at Mortlake, to "Mr. Secretary Cecil, now Lord Treasurer." Two copies were given at the same time to the Earl of Pembroke, one for him to use or give away at his pleasure, the other, by Cecil's advice, to be presented by him to the Queen. Within three days, Dee heard from Pembroke that she had graciously accepted and well liked his book. This gratifying information was rendered acceptable by a gift: - "He gave me very bountifully in his owne behalf xxlib. to requite such my reverent regard of his honour."

An interview with the Queen followed on February 16, at 2 o'clock, when there was talk between them in the gallery at Westminster "of the great secret for my sake to be disclosed unto her Majesty by Nicholas Grudius, sometime one of the secretaries to the Emperor Charles V." Of this alchemical secret, no doubt concerning transmutation, Dee writes after, "What was the hinderance of the perfecting of that purpose, God best knoweth."

He was now over forty, and had a natural desire to range himself and house his library. Before 1570 he took up his abode with his mother, in a house belonging to her at Mortlake, on the river Thames. It was an old rambling place, standing west of the church between it and the river. Dee added to it by degrees, purchasing small tenements adjoining, so that at length it comprised laboratories for his experiments, libraries and rooms for a busy hive of workers and servants. Mrs. Dee occupied a set of rooms of her own. Nothing of the old premises now remains, unless it be an ancient gateway leading from the garden towards the river. After Dee's death the house passed through an interesting phase of existence, being adapted by Sir Francis Crane for the Royal tapestry works, where, encouraged by a handsome grant of money and orders from the parsimonious James, suits of hangings of beautiful workmanship were executed under the eye of Francis Cleyne, a "limner," who was brought over from Flanders to undertake the designs. At the end of the eighteenth century, a large panelled room with red and white roses, carved and coloured, was still in existence. Early in the nineteenth century the house was used for a girls' school, kept by a Mrs. Dubois.

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