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PHYSICIANS AND CHEMISTS. Sir EDWARD KELLEY [alias Talbot) was born at Worcester (as I have it from the scheme of his nativity, graved from the original calculation of doctor Dee) anno Domini 1555, August the first, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the Pole being there elevated, gr. 52. 10. Thus, reader, I hope that my exactness herein will make some reparation for my uncertainties and looser intelligence in the births of other persons.
He was well studied in the mysteries of nature, being intimate with doctor Dee, who was beneath him in chemistry, but above him in mathematics. These two are said to have found a very large quantity of elixir in the ruins of Glastonbury abbey. Indeed I have read, how William Bird, the prior of the Bath, left and lost the elixir in the walls of his priory; and it may seem strange, that what was lost at Bath was found at Glastonbury, in the same county indeed, but sixteen miles asunder. But, so long as Kelley had this treasure, none need trouble themselves how or where he came by it.
Afterwards (being here in some trouble) he went over beyond the seas, with Albertus Alasco, a Polonian baron, who gave for his arms the hull of a ship, having only a mainmast and a top, without any tackling, and gave for his motto “Deus dabit vela, (God will send sails.)* But, it seems, this lord had formerly carried too high a sail, of whom a good author reporteth, that, “Ære alieno oppressus, clam recessit;”+ and now, it seems, sought to repair his fortunes, by associating himself with these two arch-chemists of England.
How long they continued together is to me unknown. Sir Edward (though I know not how he came by his knighthood), with the doctor, fixed at Trebona in Bohemia, where he is said to have transmuted a brass warming-pan (without touching or melting, only warming it by the fire, and putting the elixir thereon) into pure silver, a piece whereof was sent to queen Elizabeth. I He had great converse with Rodolphus, the second emperor.
I have seen a voluminous manuscript in Sir Thomas Cotton's library, of the particulars of their mysterious proceedings; where, amongst many strange passages, I find this ensuing monstrosity. They kept constant intelligence with a messenger, or spirit, giving them advice how to proceed in their mystical discoveries ; and enjoining them, that, by way of preparatory qualification for the same, they should enjoy their wives in common. Though boggling hereat at first, they resolved to submit thereunto, because the law-giver might dispense with his laws, in matters of so high a nature. Hereby may the reader guess the rest of their proceedings.
This probably might be the cause why doctor Dee left Kelley, • Guillim's Display of Heraldry, p. 216. + Camden's Elizabeth, anno 1583.
Theatrum Chemicum, p. 481.
and returned into England. Kelley, continuing still in Germany, ranted it in his expences (say the brethren of his own art) above the sobriety befitting so mysterious a philosopher. He gave away, in gold-wire rings, at the marriage of one of his maid-servants, to the value of four thousand pounds. As for the high conceit he had of his own skill in chemistry, it appeareth sufficiently in the beginning of his own works, though I confess myself not to understand the Gibberish of his language:
“ All you that fain philosophers would be
And night and day in Geber's kitchen broil,
Weening to turn them to a precious oil ;
The more you work, the more you lose and spoil :
Go burn your books, and come and learn of me.” Come we now to his sad catastrophe. Indeed the curious had observed, that, in the scheme of his nativity, not only the dragon’s-tail was ready to promote abusive aspersions against him (to which living and dead he hath been subject); but also something malignant appears posited in Aquarius, which hath influence on the legs, which accordingly came to pass. For, being twice imprisoned (for what misdemeanor I know not) by Rodulphus the emperor, he endeavoured his escape out of a high window, and tying his sheets together to let him down, fell (being a weighty man), and brake his leg, whereof he died 1595.
I believe him neither so bad as some,* nor so good as others, do character him. All know, how separation is of great use amongst men of his profession; and indeed, if his pride and prodigality were severed from him, he would remain a person, on other accounts, for his industry and experience in practical philosophy, worthy recommendation to posterity.
WRITERS. FLORENCE of WORCESTER was probably born near, certainly bred in that city, one eminent in learning as any of his age, and no less industrious. Many books are extant of his making, and one most useful, beginning at the Creation, and continued till his death. This he calleth “ Chronicum Chronicorum,” which some esteem an arrogant title, and an insolent defiance of all authors before and after him, as if (as the rose is flos florum, so) his were the superlative chronicle of all that are extant. But others meet with much modesty in the title “ Chronicum Chronicorum,” as none of his own making, but only gathered both for matter and language out of others, he being rather the collector than the original composer thereof. He died anno Domini 1119.
John Wallis, or Welsh, is confessed natione Anglus ;t
• Weever's Funeral Monuments, p. 4.
which I observe, to secure his nativity against Welsh claims thereunto, only grounded on his surname. Yet I confess he might be mediately of Welch extraction, but born in this county (where the family of the Walshes are extant at this day in a worshipful equipage), where he became a Franciscan in Worcester. Leaving Oxford, he lived in Paris, where he was commonly called, “ Arbor Vitæ," (the Tree of Life) "non absque insigni Servatoris blasphemiâ,” (with no small blasphemy to our Saviour) saith our author.* But, to qualify the matter, we take the expression in the same sense wherein Solomon calls “a wholesome tongue a tree of life.”+
Yet might he be better termed “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” whose books (amounting to no fewer than twenty volumes) are not so practical for their use, as curious in their speculations. In the ancient libraries of Baliol and Oriel College, most of his manuscripts are reported extant at this day. He died, and was buried at Paris, anno Domini 1216.
Elias de EVESHAM was born in this county, of good parentage, from whom (as it seemeth by J. Bale) he had expectancy of a fair estate. This did not hinder him from being a Benedictine in the abbey of Evesham, where he became a great scholar, and wrote an excellent chronicle. Bale knoweth not where to place him with any certainty. But Pits, not more knowing, but more daring, assigneth him to have flourished in the year 1270.9
[AMP.] William PACKINGTON.-I confess two villages (the less and greater) of this name in Warwickshire; and yet place this Packington here, with no discredit to myself, and greater grace to him. For, first, I behold him as no clergyman (commonly called from their native places); but have reasons to believe him rather a layman, and find an ancient family of his name (not to say alliance) still flourishing in this county. He was secretary and treasurer to Edward the Black Prince ; and his long living in France had made the language of his nurse more natural to him than the tongue of his mother. Hence it was that he wrote in French the story of “Five English kings” [king John, Henry the Third, Edwards First, Second, and Third], and a book of « The Achievements of the Black Prince.” He flourished anno Domini 1380.
SINCE THE REFORMATION. Sir Edwin Sandys, son to Edwin Sandys, D. D. was (in all probability) born in this county, whilst
his father was bishop • Bale, de Seriptoribus Britannicis, Cent. iv. p. 317.
+ Prov. xv. 4. I Bale, ibid. Cent. iv, num. 33. § Pits, de Seriptoribus Angliæ, p. 351, anno 1270.
of Worcester. He was bred in Cambridge, and attained to be a most accomplished person.
I have known some pitiful in affection, but poor in condition, willing but unable to relieve one in greater want than themselves, who have only gotten an empty purse, and given it to others to put their charity therein for the purpose aforesaid. Such my case.
I can only present the reader with a place in this my book for the character of this worthy knight, but cannot contribute any coin of memories or remarkables to the furnishing thereof. Only let me add, he was nepidėčios, rightanded to any great employment; and was as constant in all Parliaments as the Speaker himself
, being beheld by all as an excellent patriot (faithful to his country, without being false to his king) in all transactions. He was the treasurer to the undertakers for the Western plantations, which he effectually advanced, the Bermudas (the firmest though not the fairest footing the English have in the West Indies) owing their happiness to his care, and Sandys' tribe is no contemptible proportion therein. He had a commanding pen, witness his work of “ The Religion of the Western World” (many in one book), so much matter is stowed therein. I have been informed, that he bequeathed by his will a considerable sum to the building of a college in Cambridge; but, debts not coming in according to expectation, his good intention failed in the performance thereof. He died, much lamented of all good men, about the year 1631,
ROMISH EXILE WRITERS. RICHARD SMITH, D. D. was born in this county :* bred in the university of Oxford, where he became king's professor, and was fit for that place in all things, if (as one of his own persuasion avoweth) “non obstitisset laterum debilitas, et vocis exilitas," (the weakness of his sides and lowness of his voice had not hindered him.)
King Edward the Sixth afterwards sent for Peter Martyr over to be his professor in this university, betwixt whom and Dr. Smith so great the contest, that, waving all engagements, it is best to state it to the eye of the reader, as it is represented by authors of both sides.
“ Petrum Martyrem apostatum monachum, et hæresis Zuvinglicanæ sectatorem, à Rege Edwardo Sexto, Oxonii in cathedram theologicam intrusum, in publicis disputationibus hæresis convicit, et cathedram suam victor repetiit, sed rege obstante non impetravit.”+-(In public disputations he convicted Peter Martyr the apostate monk, and a follower of the Zwinglian heresy, thrust in by king Edward the Sixth into the divinity chair in Oxford, and being conqueror did require his own chair to be
* Pits, de Angliæ Scriptoribus, in anno 1563.
+ Idem, ibidem.
restored to him ; which he obtained not, because the king did withstand him.)
“ Sed animosus iste Achilles, die ad disputandum constituto, cum non compareret, sed ad Divum Andream in Scotiam profugeret, ratus eum qui in hoc articulo bene lateret, bene vivere.”*—(But this valiant Achilles, when he did not appear on the day appointed for him to dispute, fled to Saint Andrew's in Scotland, conceiving that in a case of this kind he lived best who lay hid the closest.)–From St. Andrew's he afterwards conveyed himself into the Low Countries.
But this Smith returned afterwards in the reign of queen Mary, when Peter Martyr was glad to get leave to fly from that university. Thus we see (as to speak unbiassed without reflection on the cause) that, in such controversies, it mattereth little who are the disputants on either side, whilst the prevalent power is the moderator.
Doctor Smith, flying again over into the Low Countries, was made dean of Saint Peter's in Douay; and the first professor in the university founded therein. He died anno Domini 1563.
John MARSHALL was born at Dalisford in this county, as New College register doth attest; which is to be credited before J. Pits, making him to be born in Dorsetshire. He was bred at New College in Oxford, where he proceeded bachelor of laws, and for his gravity and learning was chosen second master of Winchester school. But, in the first of queen Elizabeth, he left the land with Thomas Hide, chief schoolmaster thereof; so that now their scholars had a sat otium, and in both their absence might play with security, till a successor received their sceptre. He became afterwards canon of Lisle in Flanders, though a long time disturbed in his quiet possession thereof. He wrote a book, much prized by men of his persuasions, against John Calfild, an English Protestant. At his death, he bequeathed a ring with a rich stone to adorn a piece of the cross in his cathedral (which by doctor Gifford was solemnly applied thereunto); and died anno Domini 1597.
Robert Bristow was born in this county ;t bred first in Oxford, in Exeter College, whence he conveyed himself over beyond the seas, living first at Louvain, then in the English college at Douay. He was the first of that foundation that was made priest, being the right hand of cardinal Allen, who, departing to Rheims, left Bristow prefect of Douay college. Afterwards he was sent for to Rheims, where he wrote his book, say the Papists, “contra futilem Fulkum," (against foolish Fulk) -railing is easier than reasoning with such mouths,—who indeed
• L. Humphredus, in vità Juelli, p. 44.
That worthy confuter of the Rhemish Testament.