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"Newton Killingworth, Esquire, informs:
That he had apprehended a person during the
Fire, about whom he found much combustible
matter, and certain black things of a long
figure, which he could not endure to hold in
his hand by reason of their extreme heat.
This person was so surprised at first, that he
would not answer to any question; but being
on his way to Whitehall, he acted the part
of a madman, and so continued while he
was with him."

"Mr. Richard Harwood informs: That being
near the Feathers Tavern, by St. Paul's, upon
the fourth of September, he saw something
through a grate in a cellar, like wildfire; by
the sparkling and spitting of it he could judge
it to be no other." But this was rather lame
evidence, relating to a date two days after the
breaking out of the fire.

"A letter directed and sent by the post to
Mr. Samuel Thurlton, in Leicestershire, from
a person unknown, as followeth, dated
October sixteen, 1666: 'Your presence is now
more necessary at London than where you are,
that you may determine how to dispose of your
estate in Southwark. For it is determined by
Human Counsel (if not frustrated by Divine
Power) that the suburbs will shortly be
destroyed. Your capacity is large enough to
understand. Proceed as your genius shall
instruct youCave: Fuge: Vale!"

Lilly's examination was due to a book which
he had published some years before, under the
title of Monarchy or no Monarchy, and which
contained, among other hieroglyphics, a
representation of a city in flames. Some of the
members of the committee, remembering this
picture, caused him to be sent for. Sir Robert
Brook, chairman of the committee, said to
him: "Mr. Lilly, this committee thought fit
to summon you to appear before them this day,
to know if you can say anything as to the
cause of the late Fire, or whether there might
he any design therein. You are called the
rather hither, because in a book of yours long
since printed, you hinted some such thing
by one of your hieroglyphics." Lilly was
accompanied by Elias Ashmole, to keep up
his courage; and he replied thus: "May
it please your honour, after the death of the
late king, considering that in the three
subsequent years the parliament acted nothing
which concerned the settlement of the nation
in peace: and seeing the generality of people
dissatisfied, the citizens of London
discontented, the soldiers prone to mutiny, I was
desirous, according to the best knowledge God
had given me, to make inquiry by the art I
studied, what might from that time happen
unto the parliament and nation in general.
At last, having satisfied myself as well as I
could, and perfected my judgement thereon,
I thought it most convenient to signify my
intentions and conceptions thereof in forms,
shapes, types, hieroglyphics, &c., without any
commentary; so that my judgement might be
concealed from the vulgar, and made manifest
only unto the wise. I herein imitated the
examples of many wise philosophers who hath
done the like."

The rogue! He made his hieroglyphics
alarming enough to cause the book to sell, and
then left every one to interpret the pictures
according to taste. We have not even yet
quite seen the last of that class of
almanac makers!

Lilly proceeded: "Having found, sir, that
the City of London should be sadly afflicted
with a great plague, and not long after with
an exorbitant fire, I framed these two
hieroglyphics as represented in the book,
which in effect have proved very true."

"Did you foresee the year?" asked a
member of the committee.

"I did not, nor was desirous: of that I made
no surety. Whether there was any design
of burning the city, or any employed to that
purpose, I must deal ingenuously with you,
that since the Fire I have taken much pains in
the search thereof, but cannot or could not
give myself any the least satisfaction therein.
I conclude that it was alone the finger of God;
but what instruments he used thereunto I am

It is impossible not to see the cunning with
which Lilly managed his replies: feeding the
popular belief in his prophetic powers, and
yet keeping himself free from dangerous
suspicions concerning the Great Fire.

The upshot, in Lilly's own words, was:
"The committee seemed well pleased with
what I spoke, and dismissed me with great
civility." No other witness gave evidence of
any value; and the nation settled down
gradually into a belief that the conflagration of
the second of September was purely accidental.


DURDANS (the seat of the Heathcotes)
was built by Lord Berkeley from the ruins of
Nonesuch, and very full of old memorials the
place is. Pepys mentions (Sept 16, 1660)
going to St. James's to see the Duke of York,
on Admiralty business, and finding him
starting with the king, queen, and Prince Rupert,
to dine at Durdans. Evelyn, too, mentions,
in his quiet, amiable way, going to Durdans,
in 1665, and finding an assembly of savans
Dr. Wilkins, Sir William Petty, and Mr.
Hooke–"contriving chariots, new rigging for
ships," and of all things in the world–what
was no doubt a sort of bicycle–"a wheel to
run races in." He adds: "perhaps three such