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Ashmole's account of Edward Kelly's transmutationsThere is an interesting account of John Dee and Edward Kelly's alchemical transmutations included in Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum BritannicumLondon, 1652, pages 481-484.
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'Tis generally reported that Doctor Dee, and Sir Edward Kelly were so strangely fortunate, as to finde a very large quantity of the Elixir in some part of the Ruines of Glastenbury-Abbey, which was so incredibly Rich in vertue (being one upon 272330) that they lost much in making Projection, be way of Tryall; before they found out the true weight of the Medicine.
And no sooner were they Masters of this Treasure, then they resolved to Travell into Forraigne Parts, where falling into acquantance with one Albertus Laskey a Polonian Prince (which came into England the beginning of May, An. 1583) on the 21 of Sept. following, They, their Wives, Children, and Families, went beyond Sea with the said Prince.
And whether they found it at Glastenbury (as is aforesaid) or howsoever else they came by it, 'tis certain they had it: for at Trebona in Bohemia (whither they were come to dwell [Sept. 4. 1586]) Sir Edward Kelley made Projection [Dec. 9. 1586] with one small Graine thereof (in proportion no bigger then the least graine of Sand) upon one Ounce and a Quarter of Common Mercury; and it produced almost an Ounce of most pure Gold. This was done to gratifie Master Edward Garland and his Brother Francis, and in their presence; which Edward was lately come to Trebona, being sent thither to Doctor Dee, from the Emperour of Muscovia, according to some Articles before brought, by one Thomas Symkinson. I also find this Note of Doctor Dee's, Jan. 5. 1586. Donum Dei 2 ounces. E.K. Moreover, for neerer and later Testimony, I have received it from a credible Person, that one Broomfield and Alexander Roberts, told him they had often seen Sir Ed: Kelly make Projection, and in particular upon a piece of Metall cut out of a Warming pan, and without Sir Edwards touching or handling it, or melting the Metall (onely warming it in the Fire) the Elixir being put thereon, it was Transmuted into pure Silver: The Warming-pan and this piece of it, was sent to Queen Elizabeth by her Embassador who then lay at Prague, that by fitting the Piece into the place whence it was cut out, it might exactly appeare to be once part of that Warming-pan. The aforesaid Person hath likewise seen in the hands of one Master Frye and Scroope, Rings of Sir Edward Kellyes Gold, the fashion of which was onely Gold wyre, twisted thrice about the Finger: and of these fashioned Rings, he gave away, to the value of 4000 l. at the Marriage of one of his Servant Maides. This was highly Generous, but to say truth he was openly Profuse, beyond the modest Limitts of a Sober Philosopher.
During their abode at Trebona, they tried many Chemical Experiments (to see whether they could make that Iewell they possest, (the particular account of their operations I neede not here relate) yet I cannot heare that ever they accomplished any thing; onely I finde the 27. of Aprill noted by Doctor Dee with severall expressions of Ioy and Gladnesse, as - Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus. Againe - Miserecordia Dei magna, and lastly, - Omne quod vivit laudet Dominum. And to testifie what they meant, he writes upon the 30. day following, Master Edward Kelley did open the Great secret to me. God be thanked.
Whiles they lived at Trebona, Sir Edward Kelley went divers times to Prague, and the 15. of Ian. 1587 he went into Poland, but returned the 9 of Febr. after, And 'tis probable these Iourneys were made in quest after some famous Chemists. Things were not carried here so privately, but Queene Elizabeth had notice given her of their Actions, whereupon she used severall meanes by Letters and Messages to invite them back into England, where it was believed she had so far prevailed that Master Simkinson and Master Francis Garland's Brother Robert, coming from England to Trebona [8. Dec. 1587] supposed they had beene ready to come over the England upon the Queenes Letters formerly sent them. And though Sir Edward Kelley staid behind, yet Doctor Dee [1 May 1589] left Trebona and came for England. But whether occasioned by some unkindnesss received from Sir Edward Kelley or falling out of their Wives, or the Solicitation of Queene Elizabeth (or all these concurring) I am not yet certaine, not unlike but each of them might contribute to their Seperation.
For that there was some Greate and Wonderfull unkindnesse past from Sir Edward Kelley, appeares, by his sending for Doctor Dee, the beginning of Ian. 1588 under a shew of Reconciliation, and discovering more then an Ordinary Intimacy and Compliancy about this time, which faire shews the good Doctor notes with this prayer. God leade his heart to all Charity and Brotherly love: As also by Letters sent from Doctor Dee to Sir Edward Kelley and his Wife the end of March following, requiring at their hands Mutuall Charity, which [May 9] after upon Mistris Kelleys receiving the Sacrament she gave her hand to Doctor Dee and his Wife in Token of Charity. But it seemes these things were not cordiall but onely outward; for 9 Sept. following, (the Lord Chancellor coming to Trebona) the Rancour and Dissimulation was more evident to him, and it seemes grew up to a greater height then he could beare. And thereupon he thought wisely to avoid the further Danger by leaving Germany which occasioned him [4 Jan. 1589] to deliver to Sir Edward Kelley the Powder, the Bookes, the Glasse, with some other things, and thereupon received his Discharge in writing under his Hand and Seale.
While these Discontents continued, severall Letters past between Queene Elizabeth and Doctor Dee, whereby perhaps he might promise to returne; At length it so fell out, that he left [1 Mar. 1589] Trebona and took his Iourney for England.
The ninth of Aprill he came to Breame and had not sayed there three dayes, but the Landtgrave of Hesse sent Letters of Civill Complements to him, and within three dayes after, Doctor Dee presented him with his Twelve Hungarian Horses, that he bought at Prague for his Journey. [27 June 1589] Here that famous Hermetique Philosopher, [Doctor Henric Kunrath of Hamburgh] came to visit him: The 16 of Nov. he went thence to Stade, where he met with Mr. Edward Dyer going Embassador for Denmarke, who the yeare before had beene at Trebona, and carried back Letters from the Doctor to Queene Elizabeth; he was a great Corespondent of Doctor Dees, and as earnest a Searcher after the Stone.
The 23 of Novemb. following, he arrived at Gravesend having beene out of England 6 Years 2 Moneths and 2 Dayes, and the 9th of Decemb. presented himselfe to the Queene at Richmond, where he was favoured with a kinde Reception.
Being setled againe at Mortelack, the Queene use to call at his House to visit him, and shewed her self very Curteous to him, upon all Occasions. Against Christmas 1590 she sent him Two hundred Angels wherewith to keep his Christmas, and a hundred Markes against Christmas 1592. She likewise sent him word by Mr. Thomas Candish, to doe what he would in Alchymie and Philosophy, and none should controule or molest him: and not unlike by the Queenes example, divers Personages of Honour at Court, frequented his Company, and sent him many Guifts, from time to time. Amongst others Sir Thomas Jones most nobly offered him his Castle of Emlin in Wales, to dwell in, free with all Accomodations.
His Favour was faire at Court, the Queene her selfe bad him finde out something for her to bestowe; yet all the preferment he gained was the Grant of the Chancellorship of St Pauls [8 Dec. 1594], and the 27 of May 1595 his Patent past the great Seale, for the Wardenship of Manchester, whither He, his Wife, Childern, and Family came the 14 of Feb. 1596 and the 20 day following was Installed, and in this Wardenship (wherein he had the unhappinesse to be often vext with the Turbulent Fellowes of that Colledge) dyed, deserving the Commendations of all Learned and Ingenious Sibollers, and to be remembered for his remarkable Abilities.
After Doctor Dee came into England (as is before remembred) Correspondency was still maintained betweene him and Sir Edward Kelley, in Letters sent by Mr. Francis Garland and others; (and some expectancy of Sir Edwards comming over: [23 Dec. 1589] Mr Thomas Kelley (his Brother) putting the Doctor in hopes thereof likewise) but at length Sir Edward was clapt up close Prisoner by the Emperour (for he had so unwarily and openly managed the Secret, that it had given the Emperour occasion to carry a strict Eye over all his Actions, out of a desire to be sharer, with him in his good fortune) yet it seemes the Emperour set him at Liberty [4 Oct. 1593], and Doctor Dee had notice of it the 5 of Decemb. after. And though he began to grow into the Emperours favour, in hopes to be entertained into his Service (for so he certified Doctor Dee by Letters in August 1595). Nevertheless he was clapt up againe into Prison, and attempted to make his Escape out of a high Window, by the teering of his Sheetes, which were tyed together to let him downe, he (being a weighty Man) fell and broke his Legg, and thereof dyed: (The Ascendent then coming by Direction into the place of the Moone [see the Scheme of Kelley's Nativity] with Latitude, she being Lady of the 8th house in the Radix and posited in Aquarius). And this is one report of his Death; others there are, but Doctor Dee mentions none at all of the manner thereof; onely this, Novemb. 25 [Anno 1595]. Newes that Sir E.K. was slaine.