Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Dr John Dee

I have been reading the private diary of Doctor John Dee, the notorious Elizabethan — what? Satanist? Certainly he was accused of engaging in satanic rites, and a bunch of the ignorant, who always react violently when they come across anything beyond their minuscule understanding, ransacked his house, so many of his writings have been destroyed. He did indeed dabble in the occult, and was given to hearing and seeing what we should now call ‘ghosts’. But as with so many notorious types, his private diaries are for the most part rather dull, telling of new servants employed and how much he paid them, of family matters and the deaths or marriages of friends and such-like. One interesting thing is that Queen Elizabeth herself liked him. It seems she didn’t come in, but would take her coach to his house and hang about outside until Dr Dee came out, and they would have civilized chats about this and that. She probably found it refreshing to talk to someone who didn’t bow low and spread his cloak over puddles for her, but just chatted like a neighbour over the garden fence. Another mildly interesting thing about him is that, in a rather naïve attempt to make parts of his diaries even more secret, he wrote some passages in Greek. That is to say, in English but using the Greek alphabet. Though I would think anyone interested enough to want to read his diary would also be educated enough to decipher those passages easily enough.

Dr Dee’s life and interests lend themselves to fabulation, and that great fabulist Peter Ackroyd has written one or two interesting fictional works about him.

That’s all; I have no great revelations to make about him; just thought I’d like to mention an interesting chap.

No comments:

Post a Comment