**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


English Astrologers
by [?]

Hoc in tumbo jacet presbyter et nebulo!
Here in this tomb lies a presbyter and a knave!

he had the impudence to assert that he had predicted Gataker’s death! But the truth is, it was an epitaph like lodgings to let; it stood empty ready for the first passenger to inhabit. Had any other of that party of any eminence died in that month, it would have been as appositely applied to him. But Lilly was an exquisite rogue, and never at fault. Having prophesied in his almanac for 1650, that the parliament stood upon a tottering foundation, when taken up by a messenger, during the night he was confined, he contrived to cancel the page, printed off another, and showed his copies before the committee, assuring them that the others were none of his own, but forged by his enemies.


[Footnote 1: “Day fatality” was especially insisted on by these students, and is curiously noted in a folio tract, published in 1687, particularly devoted to “Remarques on the 14th of October, being the auspicious birth-day of his present Majesty James II.,” whose author speaks of having seen in the hands of “that genera scholar, and great astrologer, E. Ashmole,” a manuscript in which the following barbarous monkish rhymes were inserted, noting the unlucky days of each month:–

JANUARY Prima dies menses, et septima truncat ut ensis.
FEBRUARY Quarta subit mortem, prosternit tertia fortem.
MARCH Primus mandentem, disrumpit quarta bibentem.
APRIL Denus et undenus est mortis vulnere plenus.
MAY Tertius occidit, et septimus ora relidit.
JUNE Denus pallescit, quindenus foedra nescit.
JULY Ter-decimus mactat, Julii denus labefactat.
AUGUST Prima necat fortem prosternit secunda cohortem.
SEPTEMBER Tertia Septembris, et denus fert mala membris.
OCTOBER Tertius et denus, est sicut mors alienus.
NOVEMBER Scorpius est quintus, et tertius e nece cinctus.
DECEMBER Septimus exanguis, virosus denus et anguis.

The author of this strange book fortifies his notions on “day fatality” by printing a letter from Sir Winstan Churchill, who says, “I have made great experience of the truth of it, and have set down Fryday as my own lucky day; the day on which I was born, christened, married, and I believe will be the day of my death. The day whereon I have had sundry deliverances from perils by sea and land, perils by false brethren, perils of lawsuits, etc. I was knighted (by chance unexpected of myself) on the same day, and have several good accidents happened to me on that day; and am so superstitious in the belief of its good omen, that I choose to begin any considerable action that concerns me on the same day.”]

[Footnote 2: Lilly was at one time a staunch adherent of the Roundheads, and “read in the stars” all kinds of successes for them. His great feat was a prediction made for the month of June, 1645–“If now we fight, a victory stealeth upon us.” A fight did occur at Naseby, and concluded the overthrow of the unfortunate Charles the First. The words are sufficiently ambiguous; but not so much so, as many other “prophecies” of the same notable quack, happily constructed to shift with changes in events, and so be made to fit them. Lilly was opposed by Wharton, who saw in the stars as many good signs for the Royal Army; and Lilly himself began to see differently as the power of Cromwell waned. Among the hundreds of pamphlets poured from the press in the excited days of the great civil wars in England, few are more curious than these “strange and remarkable predictions,” “Signs in the Sky,” and “Warnings to England,” the productions of star-gazing knaves, which “terrified our isle from its propriety.”]