Chapter IV


"Content I live, this is my stay,
I seek no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway,
Look, what I lack my mind supplies:
Lo! thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring."

- Sir Edward Dyer.

That October the Queen and the whole Court were thrown into a perturbed state of mind by a strange appearance in the heavens. This was the comet which the Swedish astronomer, Kepler, declared to predict the appearance in the north of Europe of a prince who should lay waste all Germany, and should vanish in 1632. It was lucky for his prognostications that Gustavus Adolphus was really bornin Finland, did embroil Central Europe in the Thirty Years' War, and did die in 1632.

What the "blazing star," as they called it, foreboded, no one at Court could tell; Dee was summoned forthwith to expound the phenomenon. "Her Majestie took great pleasure to hear my opinion, for the judgment of some had unduly bred great fear and doubt in many of the Court, being men of no small account. For three diverse dayes she did use me." Dee did not forget to urge his suit to the Queen, not so much this time for preferment but for protection.

"Her Majestie promised unto me great security against any of her kingdom that would by reason of any my rare studies and philosophical exercises unduly seek my overthrow. Whereupon I again to her Majestie made a very faithful and inviolable promise of great importance. The first part whereof, God is my witness I have truely and sincerely performed; tho' it be not yet evident, how truely, or of what incredible value. The second part, by God his great mercies and helps, may in due time be performed, if my plat for the meanes be not misused or defaced."

Nearly two years passed before Dee married his second wife, Jane Fromond, of East Cheam, Surrey. She was a lady-in-waiting at the Court to Lady Howard of Effingham, wife of the Lord Admiral (Charles Howard) who was afterwards in command of the fleet victorious against the "invincible" Spanish Armada. Lady Howard proved a true friend both to Jane and her elderly but learned husband throughout the rest of her life.

He paid a long visit to the Court at Windsor a couple of months before the marriage, staying there from November 22 to December 1, 1577, and records interviews with the Queen on various days, and with "Mr. Secretary Walsingham." It may be presumed that the marriage was then arranged, for without the Queen's consent it could never have taken place. Just before leaving, he had a conversation with Sir Christopher Hatton, the newly-made knight of that day (December 1).

The marriage took place on February 5, 1578, at one o'clock, as the bridegroom tells in his diary, but at what church he omits to say. Perhaps it took place in a Royal Chapel at Court. The young bride was twenty-two. She was a clever, well-born woman, hasty and quick-tempered, but of a steadfast and thorough faithfulness. It was no easy task to be the wife of a brilliant and erudite mathematician nearly thirty years her senior, but to the end of her days Jane proved herself a true and fitting helpmate, a most careful and devoted mother to her eight children. Little could she have foreseen at this bridal hour into what strange paths the coming years would lead her. Dee's devotion to his Jane, his growing respect for her force of character, is faithfully reflected in his diary, where every detail of her doings and her health is studiously entered.

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