William Lilly Criticism - Essay

William Lilly (essay date 1647)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "An Epistle to the Student in Astrology," in An Introduction to Astrology, G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1923, pp. 10-12.

[In the following excerpt, first published in 1647, Lilly defines some appropriate considerations for the disciple of astrology.]

My Friend, whoever thou art, that with so much ease shalt receive the benefit of my hard studies, and doest intend to proceed in this heavenly knowledge of the starres; In the first place, consider and admire thy Creator, be thankfull unto him, and be humble, and let no naturall knowledge, how profound or transcendant soever it be, elate thy mind to neglect that Divine Providence, by whose al-seeing order and appointment all things heavenly and earthly have their constant motion: the more thy knowledge is enlarged, the more doe thou magnify the power and wisdome of Almighty God: strive to preserve thyself in his favour; for the more holy thou art, and more neer to God, the purer judgment thou shalt give.

Beware of pride and self-conceit: remember how that long agoe no irrationall creature durst offend man the Macrocosme, but did faithfully serve and obey him; so long as he was master of his own reason and passions, or until he subjected his will to the unreasonable part. But, alas! when iniquity abounded, and man gave the reins to his own affection, and deserted reason, then every beast, creature, and outward harmfull thing, became rebellious to his command. Stand fast (oh, man) to thy God: then consider thy own nobleness; how all created things, both present and to come, were for thy sake created; nay, for thy sake God became man: thou art that creature, who, being conversant with Christ,...

(The entire section is 703 words.)

Jurors for the Lord Protector of the Common Wealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland (essay date 1654)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: An indictment filed against Lilly, in The Last of the Astrologers, 1715. Reprint by The Folklore Society, 1974, pp. 106-07.

[The following is the text of the indictment filed against Lilly in 1654, charging him with unlawfully giving judgement on some stolen goods.]

The Jurors for the Lord Protector of the Common Wealth of England, Scotland and Ireland & c. upon their Oaths do present, That William Lilly, late of the Parish of St. Clements Danes, in the County of Middlesex, Gent. not having the Fear of God before his Eyes, but being moved and seduced by the Instigation of the Devil, the 10th Day of July, in...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

William Lilly (essay date 1668)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "How I came to Study Astrology," in The Last of the Astrologers, The Folklore Society, 1974, pp. 21-3.

[In the following excerpt from his autobiography, written in 1668, Lilly outlines how he came to be introduced to astrology.]

It happened on one Sunday 1632, as my self and a Justice of Peace's Clerk were, before Service, discoursing of many Things, he chanced to say, that such a Person was a great Scholar, nay, so learned, that he could make an Almanack, which to me then was strange: One Speech begot another, till, at last, he said, he could bring me acquainted with one Evans in Gun-Powder-Alley, who had formerly lived in...

(The entire section is 1191 words.)

George Smalridge (poem date 1681)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "An Elegy upon the Death of William Lilly the Astrologer," in The Last of the Astrologers, The Folklore Society, 1974, pp. 105-06.

[Below is the epitaph written by Smalridge, then a scholar at Westminster, on the occasion of Lilly's death in 1681.]

Our Prophet's gone; no longer may our Ears
Be charm'd with Musick of th' harmonious Spheres.
Let Sun and Moon withdraw, leave gloomy Night
To shew their Nuncio's Fate, who gave more Light
To th' erring World, than all the feeble Rays
Of Sun or Moon; taught us to know those Days
Bright Titan makes, followed the hasty Sun

(The entire section is 498 words.)

E. Walford (essay date 1884)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Walford's Antiquarian: Astrology and William Lilly," in Antiquarian Magazine and Bibliographer, Vol. 10, No. 59, 1884, pp. 147-52.

[In this essay, Walford details the historical background and significance of astrology, leading up to Lilly.]

Astrology, which Mr. [G. O.] Fisher defines as "the Science of the Stars," is generally accepted as meaning the art of foretelling future events from the aspects and conjunctions of the heavenly bodies; and it is tolerably ancient, if there is truth in the tradition that Adam was the first who practised it. Josephus tells us that Seth, having learned from his parent that everything on earth should perish either by fire or...

(The entire section is 1977 words.)

C. Lord (essay date 1893)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "A Seventeenth Century 'Zadkiel'," in Book-worm, Vol. 7, Nos. I and II, 1893 and 1894, pp. 265-72, 297-302.

[Here, Lord summarizes Lilly's life and career, stating that he "may be considered as the last of the 'scientific' astrologers."]

It is not for the present age, with its belief in hypnotism, mesmerism, and the like, to scoff at the superstition of a previous era; and yet it is strange to remember that little over two centuries ago "astrology" held rank as an actual "science," and was believed in by some of the most enlightened men of the time. The Life of William Lilly, Student in Astrology, wrote by himself in the 66th year of his age, is one of...

(The entire section is 5640 words.)

Katherine M. Briggs (essay date 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: An introduction to The Last of the Astrolgers by William Lilly, The Folklore Society, 1974, pp. vii-xii.

[In the following excerpt, Briggs gives a brief biographical overview of Lilly.]

Every century is a period of change, but the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England saw greater revolutions of thought and social structure than any before them since those two crucial periods when the Roman eagles left Britain and when the Normans conquered England. They are only comparable to the changes that the older ones amongst us have witnessed in the present age. If the sixteenth century saw the Tudor succession, the impact of the New Learning, the Reformation,...

(The entire section is 2548 words.)

Derek Parker (essay date 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Some That Have Writ Almanacks," in Familiar to All: William Lilly and Astrology in the Seventeenth Century, Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1975, pp. 69-116.

[Below, Parker assesses Lilly's works, from his first almanacs to his later books.]

The first of Lilly's own almanacs, the Merlinus Anglicus of June 1644, was a relatively slender affair of only twenty-two pages and something like 10,000 words; later that year, his second publication was much more ambitious: England's Prophetical Merline, which came out in October, had 126 pages and over 60,000 words. The title-page advertised Anglicus as 'The English Merlin revived: or, His prediction upon the...

(The entire section is 6527 words.)

Patrick Curry (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "William Lilly and 'Democratic' Astrology," in Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England, Polity Press, 1989, pp. 28-34.

[In the essay below, Curry discusses Lilly's primary role in establishing judicial astrology in mid-seventeenth-century England.]

Two men in particular acted as the focus for judicial astrology in mid-seventeenth century England: William Lilly (1602-81) and Elias Ashmole (1617-92). From them, the nexus spread out to take in virtually the entire active astrological community. The one who commanded most attention from his contemporaries was Lilly. Born in the Leicestershire village of Diseworth and educated in the local grammar...

(The entire section is 1520 words.)