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“ In 1644, I published Merlinus Anglicus Junior, about April. I had given one day the copy thereof unto the then Mr. Whitlocke, who by accident was reading thereof in the House of Commons: ere the Speaker took the chair, one looked upon it, and so did many, and got copies thereof; which when I heard, I applied myself to John Booker to license it, for then he was licenser of all mathematical books; I had, to my knowledge, never seen him before; he wondered at the book, made many impertinent obliterations, framed many objections, swore it was not possible to distinguish betwixt king and parliament; at last licensed it according to his own fancy; I delivered it unto the printer, who being an arch Presbyterian, had five of the ministry to inspect it, who could make nothing of it, but said it might be printed, for in that I meddled not with their Dagon. The first impression was sold in less than one week; when I presented some to the members of parliament, I complained of John Booker, the licenser, who had defaced my book; they gave me order forthwith to reprint it as I would, and let them know if any durst resist me in the reprinting, or adding what I thought fit; so the second time it came forth as I would have it.
“ Before that time, I was more Cavalier than Roundhead, and so taken notice of; but after that I engaged body and soul in the cause of parliament, but still with much affection to his majesty's person and unto monarchy, which I ever loved and approved beyond any government whatsoever; and you will find in this story many passages of civility which I did, and endeavoured to do, with the hazard of my life, for his majesty: but God had ordered all his affairs and counsels to have no successes; as in the sequel will appear.”
For some passages in his Starry Messenger, which were . construed into a reflection on the Commissioners of Excise, Lilly was arrested by the Serjeant-at-Arms, and brought before
* In the Ashmolean Museum are preserved two original letters to Lilly: the one from an amourous swain who had consulted the sage in a matrimonial scheme, and had received a favourable judgement, which subsequent events had falsified, and who writes for farther information, expressing much regret and wonderment that “ this businesse should go so crossely," but without any suspicion that the stars, or their interpreter, had played him false. The other letter is from Vincent Wing,
an under conjurer,
Or journeyman-astrologer,"'soliciting the judgement of Lilly, “ concerning a great number of fine linnings” which had been stolen from one of his clients (the lady of a M.P.) who would not be satisfied with the opinion of a second-rate wizard, in a case of such magnitude and intricacy. The letter, which is well seasoned with adulation, concludes, with requesting a puff for one of Wing's forthcoming publications.
a committee of the House of Commons; but, having several good friends among the members, he not only escaped with impunity, but turned the laugh against Miles Corbet, who had instituted the proceedings against him from some personal pique.
“There being, in those times, some smart difference between the army and the parliament, the head-quarters of the army were at Windsor, whither I was carried with a coach and four horses, and John Booker with me. We were welcomed thither, and feasted in a garden where General Fairfax lodged. We were brought to the general, who bid us kindly welcome to Windsor; and, in effect, said thus much:
“ • That God had blessed the army with many signal victories, and yet their work was not finished. He hoped God would go along with them until his work was done. They sought not themselves, but the welfare and tranquillity of the good people, and whole nation; and, for that end, were resolved to sacrifice both their lives and their own fortunes. As for the art we studied, he hoped it was lawful and agreeable to God's word: he understood it not; but doubted not but we both feared God; and therefore had a good opinion of us both.' Unto his speech, I presently made this reply:
«• My lord, I am glad to see you here at this time.
«« Certainly, both the people of God, and all others of this nation, are very sensible of God's mercy, love, and favour unto them, in directing the parliament to nominate and elect you general of their armies, a person so religious, so valiant.
“ The several unexpected victories obtained under your excellency's conduct, will eternize the same unto all posterity.
« • We are confident of God's going along with you and your army, until the great work for which he ordained you both, is fully perfected; which we hope will be the conquering and subversion of your's and the parliament's enemies, and then a quiet settlement and firm peace over all the nation, unto God's glory, and full satisfaction of tender consciences.
“ “Sir, as for ourselves, we trust in God; and, as Christians, believe in him. We do not study any art but what is lawful, and consonant to the scriptures, fathers, and antiquity; which we humbly desire you to believe,' &c.
“ This ended, we departed, and went to visit Mr. Peters the minister, who lodged in the castle, whom we found reading an idle pamphlet, come from London that morning. • Lilly, thou art herein,' says he. Are not you there also ?' I replied. Yes, that I am,'quoth he. --The words concerning me, were these:
“ From th' oracles of the sibyls so silly,
Good Lord, deliver me. “ After much conference with Hugh Peters, and some private discourse betwixt us two, not to be divulged, we parted, and so rame back to London.”
When Colchester was besieged, Booker and Lilly were sent for by the parliamentarians to encourage the soldiers, by “ assuring them the town would very shortly be surrendered, as indeed it was.” When Cromwell was in Scotland,“ the day of one of their fights, a soldier stood with Anglicus in his hand; and as the several troops passed by him, 'Lo, hear what Lilly saith; you are, in this month, promised victory, fight boys'—and then read that month's prediction.”
The royalists were not behind hand with their opponents, in paying homage to the genius of Lilly; and, in affairs of the greatest moment, availed themselves of the prescience of the “profound gymnosophist,” who was by no means niggardly of his advice to any party that could afford to pay for it. When the king was meditating an escape from the soldiery at Hampton Court, a Mrs. Whorwood was despatched, with his concurrence, to Lilly, to learn in what quarter he might remain concealed, till he thought it prudent to declare himself. Lilly, having erected a figure, said, the king might be safely concealed in some part of Essex, about twenty miles from London: the lady happened to have a house, in that quarter, fit for his majesty's reception, and went away the next morning to acquaint him with it. But the king was gone away, in the night, westward, and surrendered himself, at length, to Hammond, in the Isle of Wight; and thus the project was rendered abortive. He was again applied to by the same lady, in 1648, for the same purpose, while the king was at Carisbrook Castle; whence, having laid a design to escape by sawing the iron bars of his chamber-window, Mrs. Whorwood came to our astrologer, and acquainted him with it. Lilly procured a proper saw, and furnished her with aqua fortis besides; by which means his majesty had nearly succeeded, but his heart failing, he proceeded no farther.
" Whilst the king was at Windsor Castle, one walking upon the leads there, he looked upon Captain Wharton's almanack; “My book,' saith he, speaks well as to the weather:' one William Allen standing by; 'what,' saith he, saith his antagonist, Mr. Lilly?' • I do not care for Lilly,' said his majesty, he hath been always against me,' and became a little bitter in his expressions. "Sir,' said Allen, the man is an honest man, and writes but what his art informs him.' 'I believe it,' said his majesty,' and that Lilly understands astrology as well as any man in Europe.'”
While the parliament party retained its authority undimi. nished, Lilly continued to prophecy stoutly, in its behalf, but, finding its influence on the wane, he ventured to predict, in his Anglicus, “ that the parliament stood on a tottering foundation, and that the commonality and soldiery would join together against them.”
“My Anglicus was for a whole week every day in the parliamenthouse, peeped into by the Presbyterians, one disliking this sentence, another finds another fault, others misliked the whole; so in the end a motion was made, that Anglicus should be inspected by the committee for plundered ministers; which being done, they were to return them to the house, viz. report its errors.
“A messenger attached me by a warrant from that committee; I had private notice ere the messenger came, and hasted unto Mr. Speaker Lenthall, ever my friend. He was exceeding glad to see me, told me what was done; called for Anglicus, marked the passages which tormented the Presbyterians so highly. I presently sent for Mr. Warren the printer, an assured cavalier, obliterated what was most offensive, put in other more significant words, and desired only to have six amended against next morning, which very honestly he brought me. I told him my design was to deny the book found fault with, to own only the six books. I told him, I doubted he would be examined. • Hang them,' said he, they are all rogues. I'll swear myself to the devil ere they shall have an advantage against you by my oath.
“ The day after, I appeared before the committee, being thirty-six in number that day; whereas it was observed, at other times, it was very difficult to get five of them together. At first they shewed me the true Anglicus, and asked if I wrote and printed it. I took the book and inspected it very heedfully; and, when I had done so, said thus:
“This is none of my book, some malicious Presbyterian hath wrote it, who are my mortal enemies; I disown it.' The committee looked upon one another like distracted men, not imagining what I presently did; for I presently pulled out of my pocket six books, and said, ! These I own, the others are counterfeits, published purposely to ruin me. The committee were now more vexed than before : not one word was spoke a good while; at last, many of them, or the greatest number of them, were of opinion to imprison me. Some were for Newgate, others for the Gate-House; but then one Brown, of Sussex, called the Presbyterian beadle, whom the company of stationers had bribed to be my friend, by giving him a new book of Martyrs ; he, I say, preached unto the committee this doctrine, that neither Newgate or the Gate-House were prisons unto which at any time the parliament sent prisoners : it was most convenient for the Serjeant at Arms to take me in custody.
“Mr. Strickland, who had for many years been the parliament's ambassador or agent in Holland, when he saw how they inclined, spoke thus :
“ I came purposely into the committee this day to see the man who is so famous in those parts where I have so long continued: I assure you his name is famous all over Europe: I come to do him justice. A book is produced by us, and said to be his; he denies it; we have not proved it, yet will commit him. Truly this is great injustice. It is likely he will write next year, and acquaint the whole world with our injustice; and so well he may. It is my opinion, first to prove the book to be his, ere he be committed.'
« Another old friend of mine, Mr. Reynolds, spoke thus :
“ • You do not know the many services this man hath done for the parliament these many years, or how many times, in our greatest distresses, we applying unto him, he hath refreshed our languishing expectations; he never failed us of comfort in our most unhappy distresses. I assure you his writings have kept up the spirits both of the soldiery, the honest people of this nation, and many of us parliament men; and now at last, for a slip of his pen (if it were his) to be thus violent against him: I must tell you, I fear the consequence urged out of the book will prove effectually true. It is my counsel, to admonish him hereafter to be more wary, and for the present to dismiss him.'
“ Notwithstanding any thing that was spoken on my behalf, I was ordered to stand committed to the Serjeant at Arms. The messenger attached my person, said I was his prisoner. As he was carrying me away, he was called to bring me again. Oliver Cromwell, lieutenantgeneral of the army, having never seen me, caused me to be produced again, where he stedfastly beheld me for a good space, and then I went with the messenger; but instantly a young clerk of that committee asks the messenger what he did with me, where's the warrant? until that is signed, you cannot seize Mr. Lilly, or shall. Will you have an action of false imprisonment against you? So I escaped that night, but next day obeyed the warrant. That night, Oliver Cromwell went to Mr. Reynolds, my friend, and said, “What, never a man to take Lilly's cause in hand but yourself? None to take his part but you ? He shall not be long there.'”
That the fame of our English Merlin was not confined to his own country, appears by the evidence of Mr. Strickland in the preceding extract, and he subsequently received from the King of Sweden, a present of a gold chain and medal, in requital of the honourable mention he had made of his majesty in his Anglicus.
“In 1655, I was indicted at Hicks's-Hall by a half-witted young woman. Three several sessions she was neglected, and the jury cast forth her bill ; but the fourth time, they found it against me: I put in bail to traverse the indictment. The cause of the indictment was, for that I had given judgment upon stolen goods, and received two shillings and sixpence.-And this was said to be contrary unto an act in King James's time made.
“This mad woman was put upon this action against me by two ministers, who had framed for her a very ingenious speech, which she could speak without book, as she did the day of hearing the traverse. She produced one woman, who told the court, a son of her's was run from her; that being in much affliction of mind for her loss, she repaired unto me to know what was become of him ; that I told her he was gone for the Barbadoes, and she would hear of him within thirteen days; which, she said, she did.
“A second woman made oath, that her husband being wanting two years, she repaired to me for advice: that I told her he was in Ireland,
VOL. II. PART I.