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John Whalley

This is the third and last extract from chapter V in J.T.Gilbert's book, A History of the City of Dublin. The last paragraph contains references to other strange Dublin characters, which I felt should be included here.

"Whalley's last almanack was published in 1724, which lie styled the "year of darkness," on account of an expected eclipse; his death took place in Dublin, on the 17th of January in the same year.

After Whalley's death, his widow, Mary Whalley, continued for some time to publish his almanacks, in Bell-alley, off Golden-lane, under the title of "Whalley's successor's almanack;" and "Whalley's head" was, for some years, used as a shop-sign in the city.

Necromancy and astrology, we may observe, were practised by some natives of Ireland before the era of Dr. Whalley. Sir John Harrington, in the reign of Elizabeth, states that the English soldiers were much daunted by the belief that the Irish possessed various magical powers; and he adds, that it was a great practice in Ireland to "charme girdles and the like, persuading men, that while they wear them, they cannot be hurt with any weapon." Edward Kelly, seer to the famous Dr. Dee, was admitted to be the second Rosicrucian in the 16th century, in recognition of which he was knighted at Prague by the Emperor Rodolph, who, with the King of Poland, was frequently present at his incantations. The physician of Charles II. tells us that when that prince was at Cologne in 1654, the Bishop of Avignon "sent him out of France a scheme calculated by one O'Neal, a mathematician, wherein he predicted, that in the year 1660, the King should certainly enter England in a triumphant manner; which, since to our wonder, adds this writer, "we have seen fulfilled, all the people triumphantly rejoycing." Harvey, "the famous Conjurer of Dublin," is stated to have possessed "the art of conjuring in Dublin, longer, and with greater credit than any other conjurer in any part of the earth. He was tall in stature, round shoulder'd, pale visaged, ferret-eyed, and never laughed." His costume is described as follows by a writer in 1728:- "He was unalterable in regard of dress, and would have died, rather than change his old fashion, though it were to prevent either a plague or a famine. On his head was a broad slouching hat, and white cap. About his neck was tied a broad baud with tassells hanging down. He wore a long, dangling coat, of good broad cloth, close breasted and buttoned from top to bottom. No skirts. No sleeves. No waistcoat. A pair of trouse-breeches, down to his ancles; broad-toed, low-heeled shooes, which were a novelty in his time, and the latchets tied, with two packthreads. A long black stick, no gloves; and thus, bending near double, he trudg'd slowly along the streets, with downcast eyes, minding nobody, but still muttering something to himself."