Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/117

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


81
LIFE IN THE CAPITAL

them, as it were the hand of some stander by. As God's hand we will not take it, but the hand of fortune, the hand of hot weather, the hand of close, smouldy air. The astronomers [astrologers] they assign to the regiment and operation of planets. They say Venus, Mars, or Saturn are motives thereof, and never mention our sins, which are his chief procreators. The vulgar meniality conclude, therefore, it is like to increase, because a heronshaw (a whole afternoon together) sat on the top of Saint Peter's church in Cornhill. They talk of an ox that tolled the bell at Woolwich, and how from an ox he transformed himself to an old man, and from an old man to an infant, and from an infant to a young man. Strange prophetical reports (as to touching the sickness) they mutter he gave out, when in truth they are naught else but cleanly coined lies which some pleasant sportive wits have devised, to gull them most grossly. Under Master Dee's name, the like fabulous divinations have they bruited, when (good reverend old man) he is as far from any such arrogant prescience, as the superstitious spreaders of it are from peace of conscience."

In that age it was not unusual for a scholar or philospher, by entering all fields of thought, to lay claim to well nigh universal knowledge. So it was with the quacks. Though all the