The third volume was mysterious; it wsa to be "utterly suppressed or delivered to Vulcan his custody." The fourth was Famous and Rich Discoveries, a book, he thinks, "for British Honour and Wealth, of as great godly pleasure as worldly profit and delight." It was a work of great historical research which never saw the light.
The prejudice against Dee was so strong, and he was so much misunderstood, some persons openly attributing his works to other writers, others accusing him of selfishly keeping all his knowledge to himself, many perverting his meaning through ignorance, and again one, a Dutch philosopher, publishing a treatise which was in substance a repetition of his, that he determined to withhold his name from the publication. The anonymity is not, however, very well maintained, for Dee used the flimsy device of a preface to the reader by an "unknown friend," in which all the griefs and ill usages of that "harmless and courteous gentleman," "that extraordinary studious gentleman," the author, are freely aired. Under the thin disguise, Dee's high opinion of his own merits peeps, nay stares, out. Slanders have been spread against him, a damaging letter counterfeited by Vincent Murphy, his name and fame injured; he has been called "the arch-conjurer of the whole kingdom." "Oh, a damnable sklander," he bursts out, "utterly untrue in the whole and in every worde and part thereof, as before the King of Kings will appear at the dreadful day." It is no conceit on Dee's part, with his European reputation, to say that he "had at God his most mercifull handes received a great Talent of knowledge and sciences, after long and painful and costly travails." And he goes on to say that he is both warned by God and of of his own disposition to enlarge the same and to communicate it to others, but now he finds himself discouraged; he cannot "sayl against the winds eye," or pen any more treatises for his disdainful and unthankful countrymen to use or abuse, or put his name to any writing. The unknown friend has no desire to flatter the studious gentleman, but considering all his contributions to learning, he may honestly say, without arrogancy and with great modesty, that "if in the foresaid whole course of his tyme he had found a constant and assistant Christian Alexander, Brytain should now now have been destitute of a Christian Aristotle"!
But he soon gets engrossed in his subject, whichis to urge the importance of establishing "a Petty Navy Royall, of three score tall ships or more, but in no case fewer," of 80 to 200 tons burden, to be thoroughly equipped and manned "as a cinfirt abd safeguard to the Realme." He shows the security it would give to or merchants, the usefulness in "deciphering our coasts," sounding channels and harbours, observing of tides. Thousands of soldiers, he says, "will thus be hardened and well broke to the rage and disturbance of the sea, so that in time of need we shall not be forced to use all fresh-water Soldyers," but we shall have a crew of "hardy sea-soldyers" ready to hand. This is interesting as showing that the word "sailor" was not yet in use. Then he touches on the question of unemployment: "hundreds of lusty handsome men will this way be well occupied and have needful maintenance, which now are idle or want sustenance, or both." "These skilful sea-soldyers will be more traynable to martiall exploits, more quick-eyed and nimble [he quotes Pericles for this], than the landsmen." The Petty Navy Royall, as apart from the Grand Navy Royall, will look after pirates, will protest our valuable fisheries, and generally serve us in better stead than four such forts as "Callys or Bulleyn." Coming to the financial side, he asserts that every natural born subject of this "British Empire" will willingly contribute towards this "perpetual benevolence for sea security" the hundredth penny of his rents and revenues, the five hundredth penny of his goods valuation, for the first seven years, and for the second seven the hundred and fiftieth penny and the seven hundred and fiftieth penny of goods valuation, the same, after fourteen years, to be commuted for ever to half the original contribution. He calculated this tax would amount to £100,000 or over. If that is not sufficient, he would exact a second tax (exempting all such counties, towns, and the five ports, as have Letters Patent for such immunity) of the six hundredth penny of every one's goods and revenues. He would have twenty victualling ports, in every part of the kingdom, "the incredible abuses of purveyors duly reformed." He would have a stop put to carrying our gunpowder and saltpetre out of the realm. "Good God," he cries, "who knoweth not what proviso is made and kept in other Common Weales against armour carrying out of their Limits?" He speaks of many hundred pieces of ordnance lately carried out of the kingdom, so that we must make new; and deplores the wholesale destruction of our forests and timber (which is needed for ships) to keep the iron works going. Then he foreshadows the Trinity House by asking for a "Grand Pilot generall of England." He outlines a scheme of navy pensions, and in relation to the fisheries quotes sanitary statutes of Richard II. He devotes a chapter to the history of "that peaceable and provident Saxon, King Edgar," his "yearly pastime of sailing round this island in summer, guarded by his fleet of 4,000 sail," and speaks of the efficiency of Edgar's navy and the maintenance of his forts upon the coast. Then he passes to his final argument. We must attain this "incredible political mystery" - the supermacy of our sea power. We must be "Lords of the Seas" in order that out "wits and travayles" may be employed at home for the enriching of the kingdom, that "our commodities (with due store reserve) may be carried abroad," and that peace and justice may reign. "For we must keep our own hands and hearts from doing or intending injury to any foreigner on sea or land."
Enough has been said of this book, perhaps, to show that it is
a remarkable contribution towards the history of the navy and
the fishing industries of Britain. It may be contended that if
within twelve years England could offer a crushing defeat to the
greatest sea power of the world, and establish herself mistress
of the seas, she was not in need of theoretical advice from a
landsman on the subject, but at any rate Dee's treatise voices
the ideals of the times, the hopes that inspired all true lovers
of their country and of their Queen in the sixteenth century.
In the thunders of the Armada they were to be realised.
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