Evans, Arise

, was a Welch conjuror, of whom Wood has extracted the following account from a manuscript life of the famous William Lilly, astrologer, written by himself, and preserved in Ashmole’s museum. Evans is said to have applied his mind to astrology, after he had continued some time in the university of Oxford, where he was brought up. Then, entering into orders, he obtained a cure in Staffordshire; but was forced to fly from it some years after, not only on account of debaucheries, for which he was infamous, but for “giving judgment upon things lost, which,” as Lilly | saith, “-is the only shame of astrology.” He is described as the most saturnine person that ever was beheld; of a middle stature, broad forehead, beetle-browed, thickshouldered, flat-nosed, full-lipped, down-looked, of black curling stiff hair, and splay-footed. But, says Wood, to give him his due, he had a most piercing judgment, naturally, upon a figure of theft, and many other questions; though for money he would at any time give contrary judgment. He was addicted to drinking, we are told, as well as to women; and in his liquor was so very quarrelsome and abusive, that he was seldom without a black eye, or a bruise of some kind or other. He made a great many antimonial cups, upon the sale of which he principally subsisted. After he was forced from Enfield, he retired with his family to London; where Lilly found him in 1632, and received from him instructions in astrology. Wood relates, that he had done some acts above and beyond astrology, having been well versed in the nature of spirits; and had many times used the circular way of invocating, of which he produces the following instance: In 1630 he was desired by lord Bothwell and sir Kenelm Digby to shew them a spirit; which he promised to do. When they were all in the body of the circle which he had made, Evans upon, a sudden, after some time of invocation, was taken out of the room, carried into the field, and flung down near Battersea Causey, close to the Thames. Next morning -a countryman going by to his labour, and espying a man in black clothes, came to him; and awakening him, for it seems he was asleep, asked him how he came there. Evans by this understood his condition; and, when Lilly inquired afterwards of him upon what account the spirits carried him away, he answered, that “he did not at the time of invocation make any suffumigation; at which the spirits were vexed.” If the reader should be in pain about what became in the mean time of lord Bothwell and sir Kenelm Digby, we are able to make him easy upon that head. They both got home without any harm. During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. these ridiculous impostures were the fashionable credulity of the times; and the greatest men were often the dupes of these pretenders to occult science. Ben Jonson, in his excellent comedy of the Alchemist, for a time gave almost as fatal a blow to the black art, as Cervantes did in Spain to chivalry; but since avarice and | curiosity are passions most difficult to conquer, it rose again with fresh vigour, and maintained its ground till the restoration.

Evans published several almanacs and prognostications two of which, as Wood tells, he had seen one for 1613, with a Latin dedication to the hishop of Worcester, and some good Latin verses at the end upon the stars and planets the other for 1625, with this advertisement at the end “At my house, the Four Ashes in the parish of Enfield, within the county of Stafford, are taught these arts; namely, to read and understand the English Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, to know in a very short time; also to write the running secretary, set secretary, Roman, Italian, and court hands; also arithmetic and other mathematical sciences.

Absurd as this man appears to be, the strong-minded Warburton wrote “An account of the Prophecies of Arise Evans,1751. Dr. Jortin having mentioned Evans’s name in his “Remarks on Ecclesiastical History,” Warburton, who happened to have some of Evans’s prophecies, published under the title of an “Echo from Heaven,” sent Jortin an extract, with a large commentary upon it, which the doctor inserted in the Appendix to the first book of his “Remarks.” Warburton speaks here of Evans as a prophet, and mentions one of his visions as a prediction, which, he says, “astonishes all who carefully consider it.” This exposed the bishop to some ridicule, particularly in a pamphlet entitled “Confusion worse confounded Rout on Rout or the bishop of Gloucester’s Commentary upon Rice or Arise Evans’s Echo from Heaven, examined and exposed. By Indignatio,1772, 8vo. Indignatio, who employs learning, wit, and argument, in this pamphlet, was the rev. Henry Taylor, rector of Crawley, and vicar of Portsmouth, and one of the writers against Gibbon. 1


Ath. Ox, vol. I. Nichols’s Bowyer.