ePub 版

"The men of most credit in our time are the usurers. For they credit most men: and though their greatest study be security, yet it is usually their fortune to be fullest of care. Time is pretious to them, for they thinke a day broke to them, is worth a broke-age from their creditor. Yet thus they finde by use, that as they have much profit by putting out, so must they have much care to get it in. For debtors are of Themistocles his minde, and take not so much care how to repay all, as how they may not pay at all their creditors, and make this their first resolution, how they may make no resolution at all. I envy not, therefore, the usurer's gaines, but considering they (as merchantadventurers) send abroad their estates in uncertaine vessels, sometimes into the bankrupt rivers of prodigality and unthriftinesse, sometimes into the seas of casualties and misfortunes, that many times their principal comes short home, I thinke with myselfe, let them gaine much by the adventure, that adventure so much to gaine. I will make this use of those uses, as to claime no interest in their gaines, nor to owe any thing to any man but love. If I lend where need is, and receive my principall againe, I will accompt that my principall gaine, and thinke my courtesie but a commendable charity." p. 40.

We cannot resist the temptation of making a few more short extracts from this interesting and striking collection of thoughts.

"I should wonder that the unsatiable desires of ambition can finde no degree of content, but that I see they seeke a perfection of honour on earth, when the fullnesse of glory is only in heaven. The honour on earth is full of degrees, but no degree admits a perfection: whereas the glory of heaven admits of degrees, but each degree affoords a fullnesse. Heere one may be lower than another in honour, and yet the highest want a glory: there, though one starre differs from another in glory, they all shine as starres. Heere the greatest must want-there the least hath enough. Heere all the earth may not be enough for one-there one heaven is enough for all.

"I see, when I follow my shadow, it flies me-when I flie my shadow, it followes me: I know pleasures are but shadowes, which hold no longer than the sun-shine of my fortunes. Least then my pleasures should forsake me, I will forsake them. Pleasure most flies me when I follow it.

"It is not good to speake evill of all whom wee know bad: it is worse to judge evill of any, who may prove good. To speake ill upon knowledge shewes a want of charity-to speake ill upon suspition shewes a want of honesty. I will not speake so bad as I know of many: I will not speake worse than I know of any. To know evill by others, and not speake it, is sometimes discretion: to speake evill by others, and not know it, is always dishonesty. Hee may be evill himselfe who speakes good of others upon knowledge, but hee can never be good himselfe who speakes evill of others upon suspition.

"It is the folly of wit in some to take paines to trimme their la

bours in obscurity. It is the ignorance of learning in others to labour to devest their paines by bluntness; the one thinking hee never speakes wisely, till he goes beyond his owne and all men's understandings: the other thinking hee never speakes plainly, till hee dive beneath the shallowest apprehension. I as little affect curiosity in the one, as care for the affectation of baldnesse in the other. I would not have the pearle of heaven's kingdome so curiously set in gold, as that the art of the workman should hide the beauty of the jewell: nor yet so sleightly valued as to be set in lead: or so beastly used as to be slubbered with durt. I know the pearle (however placed) still retaines its virtue, yet I had rather have it set in gold than seeke it in a dunghill.

"As faith is the evidence of things not seene, so things that are seene are the perfecting of faith. I beleeve a tree will be greene, when I see him leavelesse in winter: I know he is greene, when I see him flourishing in summer. It was a fault in Thomas not to beleeve till

hee did see. It were a madness in him not to beleeve when hee did see. Beleafe may sometime exceed reason, not oppose it, and faith bee often above sense, not against it." 1st part, p. 84.

"There is none so innocent as not to be evill spoken of, none so wicked as to want all commendation. There are too many who condemne the just, and not a few who justifie the wicked. I oft heare both envy and flattery speaking falsehoods of myselfe to myselfe, and may not the like tongues performe the like taske of others to others. I will know others by what they doe themselves, but not learn myselfe by what I heare of others. p. 85.

ART. III.-Mr. William Lilly's History of His Life and Times, from the year 1602 to 1681. Written by himself in the sixtysixth Year of his Age, to his worthy friend, Elias Ashmole, Esq. Published from the original Manuscript. London, 1715.

William Lilly was a prominent, and, in the opinion of many of his cotemporaries, a very important personage in the most eventful period of English history. He was a principal actor in the farcical scenes which diversified the bloody tragedy of civil war ; and while the King and the Parliament were striving for mastery in the field, he was deciding their destinies in the closet. The weak and the credulous of both parties, who sought to be instructed in "destiny's dark counsels," flocked to consult the "wily Archimage," who, with exemplary impartiality, meted out victory and good fortune to his clients, according to the extent of their faith, and the weight of their purses. A few profane Cavaliers might make his name the burthen of their malignant rhymes-a few of the more scrupulous among the Saints might keep aloof in sanctified abhorrence of the "Stygian so

phister" but the great majority of the people lent a willing and reverential ear to his prophecies and prognostications. Nothing was too high or too low-too mighty or too insignificant for the grasp of his genius. The stars, his informants, were as communicative on the most trivial as on the most important subjects. If a scheme was set on foot to rescue the king, or to retrieve a stray trinket-to restore the royal authority, or to make a frail damsel an honest woman-to cure the nation of anarchy, or a lap-dog of a surfeit, William Lilly was the oracle to be consulted. ́ His almanacks were spelled over in the tavern and quoted in the senate; they nerved the arm of the soldier, and rounded the periods of the orator. The fashionable beauty, dashing along in her calash from St. James's or the Mall, and the prim, starched dame, from Watling-street or Bucklersbury, with a staid foot-boy, in a plush jerkin, plodding behind her-the reigning toast among "the men of wit about town," and the leading groaner in a tabernable concert-glided alternately into the study of the trusty wizard, and poured into his attentive ear strange tales of love, or trade, or treason. The Roundhead stalked in at one door, whilst the Cavalier was hurried out at the other.

The Confessions of a man so variously consulted and trusted, if written with the candour of a Cardan or a Rousseau, would indeed be invaluable. The Memoirs of William Lilly, though deficient in this essential ingredient, yet contain a variety of curious and interesting anecdotes of himself and his cotemporaries, which, where the vanity of the writer, or the truth of his art, is not concerned, may be received with implicit credence. We shall endeavour to comprise in this article such parts of the work as are possessed of general and permanent interest, and to dismiss the remaining portion, with all its schemes, nativities, prophecies, indecencies, and jargon, of "the science ́ astrologick",

"Soon to that mass of nonsense to return,

Where things destroy'd are swept to things unborn."*

The family of the Lillys were hereditary yeomen in the obscure town of Diseworth, in Leicestershire; "a town of great

*Besides his numerous astrological publications, Lilly was the author of Observations upon the Life and Death of King Charles the First, containing some curious facts relative to that unfortunate prince, and written in a spirit of impartiality well worthy the imitation of graver historians. We cannot deny the versatility of our astrologer's principles, but, to his honour be it spoken, he never feels or feigns that rancour against his former associates, which is the most common and the most disgusting characteristic of political apostacy.

rudeness, wherein it is not remembered that any of the farmers thereof did ever educate any of their sons to learning;" William's parents, however, were an exception to this rule, and the juvenile Albumazar was "put to learn at such schools, and of such masters, as the rudeness of the place and country afforded." For the last two years of his being at school he was at the head of the highest form, and distinguished himself as a wrangler in Latin; but his father's poverty prevented his going to an University, as many of his schoolfellows had done. A neighbouring attorney obtained for young Lilly a situation with a gentleman in London, who wanted a youth who could write, to attend on him and his wife, and his father was very willing to be rid of a son who "could not work, drive the plough, or endure any coun try labour." His master was upwards of sixty-six years of age, and was married to a woman still older than himself, yet was any woman more jealous of a husband than she."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


My mistress was very curious to know of such as were then called cunning or wise men, whether she should bury her husband? She frequently visited such persons, and this occasion begot in me a little desire to learn something that way; but wanting money to buy books, I laid aside these notions, and endeavoured to please both master and mistress."

In pleasing the latter, our hero was so successful, that in her last sickness she would scarcely permit him to be out of her chamber, gave him" five pounds in old gold," and, being prevented from adequately rewarding his attentions, advised him to help himself out of his master's property-which he assures us, with great simplicity, he never did.

"When my mistress died, she had under her arm-hole a small scarlet bag full of many things, which, one that was there delivered unto me. There was in this bag several sigils, some of Jupiter in Trine, others of the nature of Venus, some of iron, and one of gold, of pure angel-gold, of the bigness of a thirty-three shilling piece of King James's coin. In the circumference on one side was engraven, Vicit Leo de tribu Juda Tetragrammaton+; within the middle there was engraven an holy lamb. In the other circumference there was Amraphel and three. In the middle, Sanctus Petrus, Alpha and Omega. I sold the sigil for thirty-two shillings, but transcribed the words ver. batim as I have related."

His master consoled himself for the loss of his aged spouse by selecting a younger helpmate, and dying soon after, Lilly, who appears through life to have been a favourite with the ladies, succeeded him in the affections of his widow. His account of his courtship to this fair dame is amusing:


My mistress [who] had been twice married to old men, was now

resolved to be couzened no more; she was of a brown ruddy complexion, corpulent, of but mean stature, plain, no education, yet a very provident person, and of good condition: she had many suitors, old men, whom she declined; some gentlemen of decayed fortunes, whom she liked not, for she was covetous and sparing: by my fellow-servant she was observed frequently to say, she cared not if she married a man that would love her, so that he had never a penny; and would ordinarily talk of me when she was in bed. This servant gave me encouragement to give the onset: I was much perplexed hereat, for should I attempt her, and be slighted, she would never care for me afterwards; but again, I considered that if I should attempt and fail, she would never speak of it; or would any believe I durst be so audacious as to propound such a question, the disproportion of years and fortune being so great betwixt us? However, all her talk was of husbands; and in my presence saying one day after dinner, she respected

; not wealth, but desired an honest man, I made answer, I thought I

could fit her with such a husband; she asked me, where? I made no more ado, but presently saluted her, and told her myself was the man: she replied, I was too young; I said nay, what I had not in wealth, I would supply in love; and saluted her frequently, which she accepted lovingly; and next day at dinner made me sit down at dinner with my hat on my head, and said she intended to make me her husband; for which I gave her many salutes, &c.

"I was very careful to keep all things secret, for I well knew, if she should take counsel of any friend, my hopes would be frustrated, therefore I suddenly procured her consent to marry, unto which she assented; so that upon the eighth day of September, 1627, at St. George's church, in Southwark, I was married unto her, and for two whole years we kept it secret. When it was divulged, and some people blamed her for it, she constantly replied, that she had no kindred; if I proved kind, and a good husband, she would make me a man; if I proved otherwise, she only undid herself. In the third and fourth years after our marriage, we had strong suits of law with her first husband's kindred, but overthrew them in the end. During all the time of her life, which was until October 1633, we lived very lovingly, I frequenting no company at all; my exercises were sometimes angling, in which I ever delighted."

We now come to an important era in the life of the future Nostradamus.

How I came to study Astrology.

"It happened on one Sunday, 1632, as myself and a justice of peace's clerk were, before service, discoursing of many things, he chanced to say, that such a person was a great scholar, nay, so learned, that he could make an almanack, which to me then was strange: one speech begot another, till, at last, he said, he could bring me acquainted with one Evans in Gunpowder-alley, who had formerly lived in Staffordshire, that was an excellent wise man, and studied the black art. The same week after we went to see Mr. Evans. When we

« 上一頁繼續 »