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DIVINATION BY THE ERECTING OF FIGURES
In Lilly's History of his Life and Times, there is a curious experiment of this sort made, it should seem, by the desire of Charles the First, to know in what quarter of the nation he might be most safe, after he should have effected his escape, and not be discovered until himself pleased. Madame Whorewood was deputed to receive Lilly's judgment. He seems to have had high fees, for he owns he got on this occasion twenty pieces of gold. Dr. Johnson probably alluded to this fact in his Lives of the Poets. Speaking of Hudibras, he says: “ Astrology, against which so much of this satire is directed, was not more the folly of the Puritans than of others. It had at that time a very extensive dominion. Its predictions raised hopes and fears in minds which ought to have rejected it with contempt. In hazardous undertakings care was taken to begin under the influence of a propitious planet ; and when the king was prisoner in Carisbrook Castle, an astrologer was consulted what hour would be found most favourable to an escape.”
By the Nauticum Astrologicum, directing Merchants, Mariners, Captains of Ships, Ensurers, &c. how (by God's blessing) they may escape divers dangers which commonly happen in the Ocean, the posthumous work of John Gadbury, 1710, it appears that figures were often erected concerning the voyages of ships from London to Newcastle, &c. In p. 123, the predictor tells us his answer was verified; the ship, though not lost, had been in great danger thereof, having unhappily run agrouud at Newcastle, sprung a shroud, and wholly lost her keel. At p. 93, there is a figure given of a ship that set sail from London towards Newcastle, Aug. 27, 11 p.m. 1669. This proved a fortunate voyage.
As, indeed,” saith our author, “under so auspicious a position of heaven it had been strange if she had missed so to have done ; for herein you see Jupiter in the ascendant in sextile aspect of the sun ; and the moon, who is lady of the horoscope, and governess of the hour in which she weighed anchor, is applying ad trinum Veneris. She returned to London again very well laden, in three weeks' time, to the great content as well as advantage of the owner.”
Henry, in his History of Great Britain, iii. 575, speaking of astrology, tells us : “ Nor did this passion for penetrating into futurity prevail only among the common people, but also among persons of the highest ranke and greatest learning. All our kings, and many of our earls and great barons, had their astrologers, who resided in their families, and were consulted by them in all undertakings of great importance.' The great man, he observes, ibid. chap. iv. p. 403, kept these “to cast the horoscopes of his children, discover the success of his designs, and the public events that were to happen. Their predictions,” he adds, were couched in very general and artful terms." In another part of his history, however, Dr. Henry says :
Astrology, though ridiculous and delusive in itself, hath been the best friend of the excellent and useful science of astronomy.”
Zouch, in his edition of Walton's Lives, 1796, p. 131, note, says, mentioning Queen Mary's reign : “ Judicial astrology was much in use long after this time. Its predictions were received with reverential awe; and men even of the most enlightened understandings were inclined to believe that the conjunctions and oppositions of the planets had no little influence in the affairs of the world. Even the excellent Joseph Mede disdained not to apply himself to the study of astrology.” Astrology is ridiculed in a masterly manner in Shakespeare's King Lear, act i. sc. 8.
Mason, in his Anatomie of Sorcerie, 4to. Lond. 1612, p. 91, mentions in his list of the prevailing superstitions, "erecting of a figure to tell of stolne goods.” In the Dialogue of Dives and Pauper, printed by Pynson, A.D. 1493, among superstitious practises then in use and censured, we meet with the following: “Or take hede to the judicial of astronomyor dyvyne a mans lyf or deth by nombres and by the spere of Pyctagorus, or make any dyvyning therby, or by songuary or sompnarye, the boke of dremes, or by the boke that is clepid the Apostles lottis.” The severe author adds: “And alle that use any maner of wichecraft or any misbileve, that alle suche forsaken the feyth of holy churche and their Cristendome, and bicome Goddes enmyes, and greve God full grevously, and falle into dampnacion withouten ende, but they amende theym the soner."
1“Of this," he says, “ we meet with a very curious example, in the account given by Matthew Paris of the marriage of Frederick, Emperor of Gerniany, and Isabella, sister of Henry III., A.D. 1235. Nocte vero prima qua concubuit imperator cum ea, noluit eam carnaliter cognoscere, donec competens hora ab astrologis ei nunciaretur.' M. Paris, p. 285, ad ann. 1235.” See Henry, vol. iv. p. 577.
Cornelius Agrippa, in his Vanity of Sciences, p. 98, exposes astrology as the mother of heresy, and adds : “ Besides this same fortune-telling astrology, not only the best of moral pbilosophers explode, but also, Moses, Isaias, Job, Jeremiah, and all the other prophets of the ancient law; and among the Catholic writers, St. Austin condemns it to be utterly expelled and banished out of the territories of Christianity. St. Hierome argues the same to be a kind of idolatry. Basil and Cyprian laugh at it as most contemptible. Chrysostome, Eusebius, and Lactantius utterly condemn it. Gregory, Ambrose, and Severianus inveigh against it. The Council of Toledo utterly abandon and prohibit it. In the synod of Martinus, and by Gregory the Younger, and Alexander the Third, it was anathematized and punished by the civil laws of the emperors. Among the ancient Romans it was prohibited by Tiberius, Vitellius, Dioclesian, Constantin, Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, ejected also, and punished. By Justinian made a capital crime, as may appear in his Codex.” He pleasantly observes of astrologers, that “undertaking to tell all people most obscure and hidden secrets abroad, they at the same know not what happens in their own houses and in their own chambers. Even such an astrologer as More laught at them in his epigram:
* The stars, ethereal bard, to thee shine clear,
No wonder, cuckold, they'll not tell thee true.'” Strype, in his Annals of the Reformation, ii. 16, sub. ann. 1570, says : “And because the welfare of the nation did so much depend upon the queen's marriage, it seems were employed secretly by calculating her nativity, to enquire into her marriage. For which art even Secretary Cecil himseli had some opinion. I have met among his papers with such a judgment made, written all with his own hand."
Lodge, in his Incarnate Devils, 1596, p. 12, thus glances at the superstitious follower of the planetary houses : “ And he is so busie in finding out the houses of the planets, that at last he is either faine to house himselfe in an hospitall, or take up his inne in a prison.” At p. 11 also, is the following: “ His name is Curiositie, who not content with the studies of profite and the practise of commendable sciences, setteth his mind wholie on astrologie, negromancie, and magicke. This divel prefers an Ephimerides before a Bible; and his Ptolemey and Hali before Ambrose, golden Chrisostome, or S. Augustine: promise him a familiar, and he will take a flie in a box for good paiment. . . He will shew you the devill in a christal, calculate the nativitie of his gelding, talke of nothing but gold and silver, elixir, calcination, augmentation, citrination, commentation ; and swearing to enrich the world in a month, he is not able to buy himself a new cloake in a whole year. Such a divell I knewe in my daies, that having sold all his land in England to the benefite of the coosener, went to Andwerpe with protestation to enrich Monsieur the king's brother of France, le feu Roy Harie I meane; and missing his purpose, died miserably in spight at Hermes in Flushing." Íbid. p. 95, speaking of desperation, Lodge says: "He persuades the merchant not to traffique, because it is given him in his nativity to have losse by sea ; and not to lend, least he never receive again.” Hall, in his Virgidemiarum, book ii. sat. 7, says:
6. Thou damned mock-art, and thou brainsick tale
Of old astrologie"-
Did to the credulous world the first derive;
must first take counsell of the signe." In a Map of the Microcosme, by H. Browne, 1642, we read : “Surely all astrologers are Erra Pater's disciples, and the divel's professors, telling their opinions in spurious ænig.
matical doubtful tearmes, like the oracle at Delphos. What a blind dotage and shameless impudence is in these men, who pretend to know more than saints and angels. Can they read other men's fates by those glorious characters the starres, being ignorant of their owne? Qui sibi nescius, cui præscius ? Thracias the soothsayer, in the nine years drought of Egypt, came to Busiris the tyrant, and told him that Jupiter's wrath might bee expiated by sacrificing the blood of a stranger : the tyrant asked him whether he was a stranger : he told him he
• Thou, quoth Busiris, shalt that stranger bee.
Whose blood shall wet our soyle by destinie.' “ If all were served so, we should have none that would relye so confidently on the falshood of their ephemerides, and in some manner shake off all divine providence, making themselves equal to God, between whom and man the greatest difference is taken away, if man should foreknow future events.”
Fuller, in his Good Thoughts in Bad Times, 1669, p. 37, has this
passage : Lord, hereafter I will admire Thee more and fear astrologers lesse : not affrighted with their doleful predictions of dearth and drought, collected from the colIections of the planets. Must the earth of necessity be sad, because some ill-natured star is sullen? As if the grass could not grow without asking it leave. Whereas thy power, which made herbs before the stars, can preserve them without their propitious, yea, against their malignant aspects."
In the Character of a Quack Astrologer, 1673, we are told : “ First, he gravely inquires the business, and by subtle questions pumps out certain particulars which he treasures up in his memory; next, he consults his old rusty clock, which has got a trick of lying as fast as its master, and amuses you for a quarter of an hour, with scrawling out the all-revealing figure, and placing the planets in their respective pues; all which being dispatched, you must lay down your money on his book, as you do the wedding fees to the parson at the delivery of the ring; for 'tis a fundamental axiome in his art, that, without crossing his hand with silver, no scheme can be radical : then he begins to tell you back your own tale in other language, and you take that for divination which is but repetition." Also, signat. B. 3: “His groundlesse guesses he calls resolves, and compels the stars (like knights o'th'