Ritual Invocation and Early Modern Science: the Skrying Experiments of Humphrey Gilbert

Download 117.18 Kb.
Size117.18 Kb.
1   2   3
Magic is not a monolithic subject and it is important to stress that major aspects of the history of magic seem to play no role in the rise of modern science, for example, demonic magic, chiromancy, and cabala. The crucial aspects of the magical tradition for the historian of science were those encompassed by the term Natural Magic which embraced all those arts which relied upon natural lore; for example, astrology and alchemy....John Henry, "Magic and Science in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century" in Companion to the History of Modern Science, edited by Robert C. Olby (London: Routledge, 1990), 586

49 Humphrey Gilbert, "The Erection of an Achademy in London for Educacion of Her Maiestes Wardes, and Others the Youth of Nobility and Gentlemen," in Queen Elizabethes Achademy, a book of precedence, etc., with Essays on Italian and German Books of Courtesy, ed. F.J. Furnivall, Early English Text Society, extra series (London: Early English Text Society, 1869), 4-5.

50 Ibid., 6.

51 The term “episteme” was coined by Michel Foucault, The Order of Things : An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 25-30. Despite the usual evidentiary issues associated with his work, the term has some viability and certainly has been employed a great deal since that time. For a recent critique which discusses the history of the term, see Ian Maclean, "Foucault's Renaissance Episteme Reassessed: An Aristotelian Counterblast," Journal of the History of Ideas 59, no. 1 (1998): 149-66.

52 Peter Robert Dear, Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools, Cornell History of Science Series (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988). ***

53 Despite the difficulties that often accompanied the construction of such devices, a properly assembled air pump would certainly return more consistent results. The vague and inconsistent nature of magical visions also probably tended to encourage the esoteric interpretive approaches of the so-called ‘renaissance episteme.’ More crucially, practitioners do not display the preoccupations with method or 'rules of engagement’ characteristic of seventeenth-century scientists. Ritual magic also did not focus solely on the natural world nor does it seem to have encouraged a mechanical view of nature. Seventeenth-century science would also ultimately reject ritual magic in the strongest terms.

54 A note of the first folio of the first section notes that Mr McKray of the Bodleian Library in 1868 identified the hand of the first section that of Simon Forman, the well known late-sixteenth-century doctor, astrologer and magician. However, assuming the date is correct, he would only have been seventeen in 1576, and in any event, this is certainly not Forman's distinctive hand. See f. 47r. The manuscript is also not the work of John Caius as suggested by Benjamin Wooley The note identifying Caius as the owner refer only to the materials in ff. 23-46 not 47-62. These two sets of folios are also clearly distinct.

55 The hands do not match the Thomas Smith autograph, London, British Library, Sloane 325, particularly given Smith’s preference for italic forms in formal writing. In addition, he was heavily involved in matters in France at the time of the conjuring. See, London, British Library, Sloane 325, f. 4. Mary Dewar, Sir Thomas Smith: A Tudor Intellectual in Office (London: Althone Press, 1964), 121-2.

56 An autograph of Adrian Gilbert from the early 17th century and shortly before his death is likely by the same hand as the book of instructions. State Papers 14/48 (493.202.143). Certainly, it would not be possible to reject this possibility on palaeographic grounds.

57 *** Shelfmark of HG autograph.

58 On October 12, 1566, he was sent back from military service in Ireland with dispatches for Queen Elizabeth. As his biographer, William Gosling notes, "no clear purpose seems to have motivated Sir Henry Sidney to order his return to England. Neither the dispatches nor the news he carried were of such paramount importance as to require a messenger of his calibre; and we are therefore obliged to conclude that he had obtained leave of absence from the army to return to England for some private purposes of his own, and that Sidney merely took advantage of his departure to send dispatches to the Queen.” Gosling goes on to suggest that he took leave to petition Elizabeth for assistance in an expedition to find the North-West Passage. This project dominated his energies over the ensuing decades. William Gilbert Gosling, The Life of Sir Humphrey Gilbert: England’s First Empire Builder (London: Constable & Co., 1911), 39-40.

59 For example, Solomon requires that the skryer be dressed like the master in a black coat and cloak. See f.60r. The visions refer to John as Gilbert’s ‘boy.’ He plays an active role in the visions themselves, holding a magical book up to frighten the demons (ff. 59r-60r) and at on point going independently to retrieve and important book from the ‘House of Solomon’ (f. 62v).

60 Adrian’s ‘chemical’ interests were well known and he was supported by Mary Sidney as an instructor in the art. Margaret Hannay and Mary Ellen Lamb have speculated that Adrian worked with Mary Sidney Herbert producing medicines. See Mary Ellen Lamb, “The Countess of Pembroke’s Patronage,” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1976), 107. See also, Margaret Hannay, Philip’s Phoenix; Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 130-31.

61 Humphrey visited Mortlake in November of 1577, Diary, p. 3. He corresponded with Dee through the early 80s and visited his home again in 1581. Calder. ch 5. p. 3. Adrian Gilbert and John Davis visited Dee along with a larger group of gentlemen and had discussions regarding the North West Passage several times in 1583. Diary, 18-20. On Gilbert and alchemy etc. see Brief Lives, ed. Powell, p. 53.

62 Benjamin Wooley, The Queen’s Conjurer, 200-201. In May 1583, Dee asked his spirits whether he should involve Adrian in his operations. London, British Library, Sloane 3188, f. 103.

63 In the margin of a table of star positions, he scribbled a note, dated 22 May 1568, that he had learned the exact time and date of John Davies’s birth ‘by magic’ at Mortlake with the help of William Emery. Although unclear what the form of their magic might have been, the fact that Emery later worked as Dee’s skryer suggests it was probably a crystal-gazing operation. Wooley, 166-7. Wooley cites Oxford, Bodleian, Ashmole 423, f. 295.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page