It seems remarkable that three hundred years should have been allowed to elapse since the death of John Dee in December, 1608, without producing any Life of an individual so conspicuous, so debatable, and so remarkably picturesque. There is perhaps no learned author in history who has been so persistently misjudged, nay, even slandered, by his posterity, and not a voice in all the three centuries uplifted even to claim for him a fair hearing. Surely it is time that the cause of all this universal condemnation should be examined in the light of reason and science; and perhaps it will be found to exist mainly in the fact that he was too far advanced in speculative thought for his own age to understand. For more than fifty years out of the eighty-one of his life, Dee was famous, even if suspected and looked askance at as clever beyond human interpretation. Then his Queen died. With the narrow-minded Scotsman who succeeded her came a change in the fashion of men’s minds. The reign of the devil and his handmaidens — the witches and possessed persons- -was set up in order to be piously overthrown, and the very bigotry of the times gave birth to independent and rational thought — to Newton, Bacon, Locke. But Dee was already labelled once and for all. Every succeeding writer who has touched upon his career, has followed the leaders blindly, and has only cast another, and yet another, stone to the heap of obloquy piled upon his name. The fascination of his psychic projections has always led the critic to ignore his more solid achievements in the realms of history and science, while at the same time, these are the only cited to be loudly condemned.
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