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(IX.) HISTORY - Success - And The Beginning Of Failure

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Bianca
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« on: August 17, 2007, 08:40:42 pm »








Several things about Dee's life-style and career seem to support the theory that he was more than an astrologer to Elizabeth - that he provided her with political information gleaned during his European travels.

She did consult him about various astronomical phenomena which appeared during her reign, and occasionally dropped in at his house at Mortlake to look at some new book (he had the finest library in the country, and one of the best in Europe) or to examine some new toy: there is a strange description in his diary of her visiting him within four hours of his first wife's death, and of the company being convulsed with laughter at the effects of his new 'magic glass' - probably a concave mirror.

But she also must have given him considerable sums of money, for he lived in great state - the Mortlake house was a large one, he bought many expensive books, and built no less than three laboratories for his chemical and alchemical experiments.

The poverty that always dogged him was due to his living determinedly above his means, rather than to lack of funds.

Even the Queen's protection failed to prevent Dee's being attacked; the odour of witchcraft clung to him. Not long after Elizabeth's accession, Bishop Jewell publicly sermonized against him, and John Foxe, in his 1563 Acts and Monuments, referred to him as 'Dr Dee the great Conjurer', a 'caller of devils'.

Foxe was forced to strike the libellous reference out of later editions, but the damage was done; and Dee was to make matters worse by devoting much of the rest of his life to alchemy and conversations with angels, held in the company of his new associate Kelley, a disreputable scoundrel who among other things relayed to the reluctant Dee instructions from one angel that their wives should be held in common - a proposal that failed to appeal to Mrs Dee.
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