Chapter VII


"To follow knowledge like a sinking star
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought."
- Tennyson, Ulysses

It is a curious picture to call up, that of the strangely assorted pair seated in the inner room at Mortlake, acting out this spiritual drama. Dee had asked for instructions about the room for the sittings: "May my little fartherest chamber serve, if the bed be taken down?" The table, covered with its cloth stood in the centre upon the seals. Kelly, perhaps with the black cap he is credited with having always worn, pulled close over his cropped ears, was seated at it. Dee at his desk sat writing in the great folio book. He was now fifty-six years old; his beard was long, but perhaps not yet "as white as milk," as Aubrey describes it. He did not apparently ever see the visions himself. Once he reproachfully said, "You know I cannot see or skry." He conversed with the spirits and sometimes heard what they said; but to the eye and ear of his body they were invisible; hence his dependence upon a skryer.

The sole object of his ambition was the attainment of legitimate wisdom. When conversing with the angels, how near within his grasp it seemed! Michael's exposition seemed almost to promise it to him: -

"`Wilt thou have witt and wisdom? Here it is.'

"Michael points each time to a figure of seven squares shown within a circle of light.

"`The exaltation and government of princes is in my hand.

"`In counsayle and Nobilitie, I prevayle.

"`The Gayne and Trade of Merchandise is in my hand. Lo! here it is.

"The Qualitie of the Earth and Waters is my knowledge, and I know them. And here it is.

"`The motionof the Ayre and those that move in it, are all known to me. Lo! here they are.

"`I signifie wisdom. In fire is my government. I was in the beginning and shall be to the end.

"`Mark these mysteries. For this knowne, the state of the whole earth is knowne, and all that is thereon. Mighty is God, yea, mighty is he who hath composed for ever. Give diligent eye. Be wise, merry and pleasant in the Lord.'"

Quite early in the actions, it was told them that a third person was necessary to the complete work. Adrian Gilbert was the first selected, and permission was given for him to be made "privie of the mysteries, but not to be a practiser."

Gilbert was making ready for a voyage to the North-West. Dee and the spirits seem to think it may be a kind of missionary enterprise, and Dee asks for (but does not actually obtain) a geographical description of the country he is going to. The answer is that Dee knows about it, as indeed he did, sufficiently well, as we have seen, to draw very good charts of North America and the Frozen Seas. An angel named Me tells him he must counsel A.G. and be his father. "Who made the sun of nothing? Who set Nature to thrust up her shoulder amongst trees and herbs like a gentle fire? How great is his power in those in whom he kindleth a soul of understanding."

In Dee's absence in London, at the Muscovy House, on Maundy Thursday (March 28), Kelly tried to summon Medicina again, but was only visited by an "illuder." Next day Dee asks for "the veritie of his doings," and is told that darkness has presumed to put itself in place of light. Kelly will not be overthrown, but he is to brag not. "When I yoked your feathers together, I joined them not for a while." The illuder is made to confess deception and is consumed by fire, and Dee turns to his skryer with "Master Kelly, is your doubt of the spirit taken away?"

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