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Lilly

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LILLY (WituAst), in biography, a noted English astrologer, born in Leices tershire in 1602. His father was not able to give him further education than com mon reading and writing ; but young Lilly being of a forward temper, and en dued with shrewd wit, he resolved to push his fortune in London, where he ar rived in 1620, and, for a present support, articled himself as a servant to a mantua maker in St. Clement Danes. But in 1624, he moved a step higher, by enter ing into the service of Mr. Wright, in the Strand, master of the Salters' Com pany, who not being able to write, Lilly, among other offices, kept his books. On the death of his master, in 1627, Lilly paid his addresses to the widow, whom lie married, with a fortune of one thou. sand pounds.

Being now his own master, he followef: the bent of his inclinations, which led him to follow the puritanical preachers. Afterwards turning his mind to judicial astronomy, in 1632 he became pupil, in that art, to one Evans, a profligate Welsh parson ; and the next year gave the pub lic a specimen of his skill, by an intima tion that the King had chosen an unlucky horoscope for the coronation in Scotland. In 1634, getting a manuscript copy of the " Ars Noticia" of Cornelius Agrippa, with alterations, he drank in the doctrine of the magic circle, and the invocation of spirits, with great eagerness, and prac tised it for some time ; after which he treated the mystery of recovering stolen goods, &c. with great contempt, claiming a supernatural sight, and the gift of pro phetical predictions ; all which he well knew how to turn to good advantage.

Meanwhile he had buried his first wife, purchased a moiety of thirteen houses in the Strand, and married a second wife, who, joining to an extravagant temper a termagant spirit, which he could not lay, made him unhappy, and greatly reduced his circumstances. • With this uncomfortable yoke-mate he removed, in 1636, to Hersham, in Surrey, where he staid till 164.1 ; when, seeing a prospect of fishing in troubled waters, he returned to London. Here, having pur chased several curious books in this art, which were found on pulling down the house of another astrologer, he studied them incessantly, finding out secrets con tained in them, which were written in an imperfect Greek character ; and, in 1644, he published his " Merlinus Anglicus," an almanack, which he continued annual ly till his death, and several other astro logical works, devoting his pen, and otherlabours, sometimes to King Charles's party, and at others to that of the parlia ment, but mostly to the latter, raising his fortune by favourable predictions to both parties, at one time by presents, and at others by pensions. Thus, in 1648, the

council of state gave him in money fifty pounds, and a pension of one hundred pounds per annum, which he received for two years, and then resigned it on some disgust.

. By his advice and contrivance, the King attempted several times to make his escape from confinement ; he procured , and sent the aqua fortis, and files to cut the iron bars of his prison windows at Ca.

• risbrook Castle ; but still advising and t writing for the other party at the same • time. Meanwhile he reach public lectures on astrology in 1648 and 1649, for the im provement ;young students in that art and, in short, plied his business so well, that, in 1651 and 1652, he laid out two thousand pounds for lands and a house at He rsham.

During the siege of Colchester, lie and hooker were sent for thither to encour age the soldiers; which they did by as suring them that the town would soon be taken ; which proved true in the event.

Having, in 1650, written publicly that the parliament should not continue, but a new government arise ; agreeably to which, in his almanack for 1653, he as serted that the parliament stood upon a ticklish foundation, and that the ceunmon alty and soldiery would join together against them. Upon which he was sum moned before the committee of plunder ed ministers; but receiving notice of it before the arrival of the messenger, he applied to his friend Lenthal, the Speak er, who pointed out the offensive pas sages. He immediately altered them, at tended the committee next morning, with six copies printed, which six alone he ac knowledged to be his, and by that means came off with only thirteen days custody by the serjeant at arms. This year he was engaged in a dispute with Mr. Thomas Gataker.

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