THE SEARCH FOR A MEDIUM
- Browning, Paracelsus.
Dee had always, working with and under him, a number of young students and assistants, who were admitted more or less to his inner counsels. If they proved apt and diligent, he would reward them with promises of alchemical secrets, "whereby they might honestly live"; once he promised £100, "to be paid as soon of my own clere hability, I myght spare so much." This was a very safe provison. Generous as he was, lavish to a fault, money never stuck near him, nor was it of the least value in his eyes, except as a means of advancing science and enriching others.
Naturally, jealousies arose among the assistants. They would suddenly
depart from his service, and spread ignorant and perverted reports
of his experiments. Roger Cook, who had been with his master fourteen
years, took umbrage "on finding himself barred from vew of
my philosophical dealing with Mr. Henrick." He had imagined
himself the chosen confidant, for to him Dee had revealed, December
28, 1579, what he considered a great alchemical secret "of
the action of the elixir of salt, one upon a hundred." Roger
was now twenty-eight, "of a melancholik nature, and had been
pycking and devising occasions of just cause to depart on the
sudden," for he was jealous of a newer apprentice. "On
September 7th, 1581, Roger went for alltogether from me."
But it was not "alltogether," for Roger returned when
Dee was old and inform and poor, and remained serving him almost
to the end. There was always something patriarchal in Dee's care
for the members of his large household, evidenced abundantly in
his diary. No doubt their loyalty to him was often severely tried
by harsh and cruel outside rumours, but as they knew and loved
his real nature they only drew closer towards him.
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