图书图片
PDF
ePub

his later years at Norwich, where Sir Thomas Browne became intimately acquainted with him, speaking of him with great respect as his “ familiar friend.” “I have heard the Dr. say,” Browne writes to Elias Ashmole, “ that he lived in Bohemia with his father, both at Prague and other parts of Bohemia. That Prince or Count Rosenberg was their great patron, who delighted much in alchemy. I have heard him affirm, and sometimes with oaths, that he had seen projection made and transmutation of pewter dishes and flagons into silver, which the goldsmiths of Prague bought of them; and that Count Rosenberg played at quoits with silver quoits made by projection as before: that this transmutation was made by a powder they had, which was found in some old place, and a book lying by it contained nothing but hieroglyphics, which book his father bestowed much time upon; but I could not hear that he could make it out.(Browne's Works, i. 466, Wilkins' ed.) In this story Arthur Dee persisted firmly to his death. “He lived many years and died at Norwich,” says Browne in another letter, "and with the highest asseverations he confirmed unto his death, that he had clearly, undeniably, and frequently beheld projection made in Bohemia.” Old Dee lost the powder, Kelly having extorted it from him, and carried off the best part of it; and he never acquired the art of making it for himself. Kelly, too, gained little by the fraud; he was seized by order of the emperor, and imprisoned in a castle. Arthur Dee told Browne that his father having showed to Elizabeth the efficacy of the small portion of the powder which he had contrived to secrete, the queen sought to release Kelly

from prison, and for that purpose sent trusty messengers, who succeeded not only in obtaining an entrance into the castle, but also in putting opium into the drink of the jailors, which laid them so fast asleep, that Kelly had no difficulty in getting out of his cell. But the spirits he could evoke at other times, failed him now. In attempting to escape over the castle wall, he fell and broke his leg, and was soon returned to his old lodging. So much of the story as concerns his confinement and attempt to escape is true; the rest the reader may give as much credit to as he pleases.

After his return to England, Dee was treated with great honour by the queen, who several times visited him at Mortlake. He received also the appointment of Warden of Manchester, as well as gifts of money. But Dee, unlike Lilly, did not seek to amass wealth. He was rather ostentatious than covetous, and there was a spice of honesty in his composition. He lived in great style while he had the means, which was as long as the queen lived ; but when a new king reigned who knew not John, his star declined. “ Dr. Dee,” says Lilly, “ died at Mortlake very poor, enforced many times to sell some book or other to buy his dinner with," -a sorry sort of transmutation for one who had been concerned in changing base pewter into sterling silver. Dee's autobiography is a curious production; but his · Book of Spirits' (as it is commonly called) is so much more curious, that the learned have been unable to determine whether it is a veritable “ relation," as it professes to be, or a political report couched under some mysterious cipher. The reader may remember that the feats of Dee and Kelly in raising spirits were

6 Done By the devil's looking-glass, a stone :"but they may not perhaps know that the actual stone is preserved in the British Museum.

In Mortlake churchyard is a flat stone to the memory of John Partridge, the unlucky almanacmaker who was so unscrupulously killed by Swift. Partridge indeed refused to admit the fact, assuring the public that, so far from being dead, “ blessed be God, John Partridge is still living and in health, and all are knaves who report otherwise :” but the • Tatler' persisted in asserting that he had ceased to exist, and, to the excessive chagrin of the poor astrologer, the public only laughed at his repeated appeals and denials. The tomb-stone makes his death to have occurred in 1715, which was seven years after the date fixed in Isaac Bickerstaff's memorable prediction. Partridge, though assuredly not witty in himself, was the cause of much wit in others.

We must not quit Mortlake without noticing that it was here that the Tapestry-works were established to which England owes the possession of the Cartoons of Raphael. “The making of tapestry,” says Fuller, “ was unknown or unused till about the end of the reign of King James, when he gave 20001. to Sir Francis Crane to build therewith a house at Mortlake for that purpose. Here they only imitated old patterns, till they had procured one Francis Klein, a German, to be their designer.” James awarded to Klein an annuity of 1001., which was continued by his successor. The establishment was liberally patronized by Charles, who increased the grant to Sir Francis Crane to an annuity of 20001. Five of the Cartoons were here

copied in tapestry, and other magnificent works were executed for the King and the nobility. On the fall of the monarchy the premises were seized and sold as royal property. Charles II. proposed to restore the manufacture, and the works appear to have been recommenced—but from all further notice of them soon ceasing, it is most likely that the experiment was only tried on a limited scale and speedily abandoned." The Merry Monarch” had other uses for his superfluous cash.

Barnes Terrace, which immediately follows Mortlake, is a row of genteel residences, situated in a very pleasant part of the river. The quiet scattered village of Barnes, with its humble church and broad heathy common, lies away from the river : Barnes Elms is on the opposite side of the village, so that though belonging to Barnes, we must, owing to the great curve (or loop) made by the river here, proceed for at least a couple of miles down the stream before we reach that rather celebrated domain. Though the banks of the Thames between Kew and Chiswick are everywhere low and level, yet they are so diversified by the succession of open meadows, well wooded plantations, villages, mansions, and glimpses of distant uplands, while the broad stream flows along in such easy windings, that every one who floats along it acknowledges its agreeable character. On an autumnal evening, as the sun is sinking in the west, the row or sail up this part of the river is perfectly delicious. A railway bridge is now being constructed over the Thames by Barnes Terrace, which will probably a good deal alter the appearance of the river here; as the embankment has changed the appearance of the common.

The grounds of Chiswick House are sure to attract attention. The house, it is hardly necessary to say, was erected by the architectural Lord Burlington, after one known as the Villa Capra, near Vicenza, of which Palladio was the designer. Kent was the architect appointed by Lord Burlington to superintend the erection of his Chiswick villa. Lord Hervey's bon mot, that " it was too small to inhabit and too large to hang to one's watch-chain.” was rendered inapplicable by a late Duke of Devonshire, who erected two additional wings. The interior of the house I have not seen ; but any one who has examined Chatsworth will give ready credence to what is said of the taste and splendour of this, the favourite summer villa of 66 the Duke,” as his Grace of Devonshire is styled with as much emphasis in Chiswick as he is in half Derbyshire. The paintings in Chiswick House are of a very high class many of them being of celebrity in the annals of art. The various articles of virtù are of the richest and most costly kind ; and altogether the place is worthy to have received the many distinguished personages who have been its owner's guests. A somewhat melancholy interest attaches to it from the circumstance of two of the most eminent of modern statesmen having expired within its walls :- both of them brought hither for the sake of the quiet retreat it afforded in connection with proximity to the metropolis. Fox died here on the 13th of September, 1806; George Canning, on the 8th of August, 1827.

The grounds of Chiswick House are extensive and of exceeding beauty. They were laid out by Kent in the most florid - Italian” manner : everywhere are antique statues or busts, or architectural

« 上一页继续 »