It is easy to see how Dee, the astrologer, grew into close touch with those psychic phenomena which, though they have become extremely familiar to us, as yet continue to baffle our most scientific researches. When he first became conscious of his psychic powers, and how far he himself was mediumistic, is harder to discern. It is on May 25, 1581, that he makes in his diary the momentous entry: - "I had sightin Chrystallo offered me, and I saw." We may take it that he "saw" through a medium, for he never afterwards seems to have been able to skry without one. Perhaps his first crystal had then been given him, although, as we have seen, he already owned several curious mirrors, one said to be of Mexican obsidian such as was used for toilet purposes by that ancient race. He had made a study of optics, and in his catalogue of the manuscripts of his library are many famous writings on the spectrum, perspective and burning glasses, etc. Then came the trouble with Roger, "his incredible doggedness and ungratefulness against me to my face, almost ready to lay violent hands on me." Dee hears strange rappings and knockings in his chamber. A gentleman came from Lewisham to consult him about a dream many times repeated. Dee prays with him, and "his dream is confirmed and better instruction given." A mysterious fire breaks out for the second time in "the maydens" chamber at night. The knocking is heard again, this time accompanied with a voice repeated ten times. No words apparently, but a sound like "the schrich of an owl, but more longly drawn and more softly, as it were in my chamber." He has a strange "dream of being naked and my skyn all over wrought with work like some kinde of tuft mockado, with crosses blew and red; and on my left arm, abowt the arm in a wreath, these words I read: - `Sine me nihil potestis facere.' And another the same night of Mr. Secretary Walsingham, Mr. Candish and myself." Then he was ten days from home, at "Snedgreene, with John Browne, to hear and see the manner of the doings." Evidently some remarkable manifestation. he was becoming more interested in psychic problems, but he was not able to proceed without a medium, and the right one had not yet appeared.
Meanwhile, he fills his diary with all manner of interesting news. Vincent Murphy, the "cosener" who had defamed him, and against whom in September, 1580, he had instituted a troublesome law-suit, was condemned by a jury at the Guildhall to pay £100 damages. "With much adoe, I had judgment against him." Five or six months later, he agreed with Mr. Godolphin to release the cosener. Jean Bodin, the famous French writer on witches, and publicist, had come to England with "Monsieur," and Dee was introduced to him by Castelnau, the French ambassador, in the "Chamber of Presence at Westminster." Letters came from Doctor Andreas Hess, the occult philosopher, sent through Dee's friend, Richard Hesketh, agent at Antwerp. There are also letters from Rome. John Leonard Haller, of Hallerstein by Worms, came to him to say he had received instructions for his journey into "Quinsay [or Northern china], which jorney I moved him unto, and instructed him plentifully for observing the variation of the compassin all places as he passed." He notes, as if it were a common occurrence, a "fowl falling out" between two earls at Court, Leicester and Sussex [the Lord Chamberlain], tells how they "called each other traytor, wheruppon both were commanded to keepe to theyre chambers at Greenwich, wher the Court was." It sounds like a schoolboys' quarrel, but the royal schoolmistress would have them both know that they were in disgrace for a time. In July, there was an eclipse of the moon, but it was "clowdy, so as I could not perceyve it." In August, about half-past eight on the night of the 26th, "a strange Meteore in forme of a white clowde crossing galaxium, lay north and sowth over our zenith. This clowde was at length from the S.E. to the S.W., sharp at both ends, and in the West it was forked for a while. It was about sixty degrees high, it lasted an howr, all the skye clere abowt and fayr star-shyne."
Dee made a journey into Huntingdonshire, by St. Neots, to Mr. Hickman's at Shugborough, in the county of Warwick. Young Bartholomew Hickman was afterwards to become the companion and servant of his old age, and manifested some slight mediumistic powers. On the way home, a month or two later, Dee rode into Sussex to Chailey, probably to the glass workds there. The Queen and "Monsieur" were at Whitehall.
A pretty little scene was enacted at Mortlake at the New Year, when "Arthur Dee and Mary Herbert, they being but 3 yere old, the eldest of them, did mak as it were a shew of childish marriage, of calling each other husband and wife." Then Dee essays a harmless little play upon words. "The first day Mary Herbert cam to her father's house at Mortlake, the second day she came to her father's hosue at East Shene." Mrs. Dee went the same day to see the baby Katherine at Nurse Garret's, and Mistress Herbert went with her. So the two families were in great unity.
Sir George Peckham, who sailed with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, came
to consult Dee about exploration in North America, and promised
a share in his patent of the new lands. He also sent down his
sea-master, Mr. Clement, and another gentleman, Mr. Ingram, to
see the mathematician. For Sir John Killigrew, Dee devised "a
way of protestation to save him harmless for compounding for the
Spaniard who was robbed: he promised me fish against Lent."
Haller came again to get instructions how to transfer his money
to Nuremburg, and to get letters of introduction to Constantinople.
By him, Dee sent letters to correspondents in Venice, where the
German explorer was to winter.
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