The Conjuror’s Magazine

Star Wars: William Gilbert v William Elder & Mercurius of Bath

“It is observable that almost all noted astrologers speak of each other as rogues and impostors.” - CM 1:4 (Nov 1791) p.130.


1: 4 (November 1791) p.126.



Q.1. Does any, and what, injury or accident occur in infancy, or very early childhood, to these or either of these natives?

Q.2. What are the principal bodily marks?

Q.3. How are they with respect to riches and poverty?

Q.4. How, when, where, how often, will they marry?

Q.5 Are they male or are they female?

Q.6. What sympathies are there between the two?

Q.7. What is their rank in life?

Q.8. What are the mental and personal properties?



1: 9 (April 1792) p.374.


 AS no Astrologer has ventured on answering any of my Queries, I shall say a word or two myself.

My principal view in proposing them was on account of an occurrence in childhood to each, which I accounted for on a new principle. One is a lady’s, whom I informed of an accident to her LEFT arm in childhood. As I had observed in the discussions of Astrologers, where facts were known, that each tenaciously accounted for them in his own way, I determined to try whether any one would point out the fact, on having their attention directed to it, by any rules in their possession; as I did not, nor do I, recollect one rule in astrological treatises, whereby I could have declared a broken left arm in the one, and an imposthume [abscess], which required the lancet, in the other, both in infancy. The rectification of the nativities is of no consequence: I require only a judgment of the figure given, being the grounds on which I judged myself. I shall however add, that a very respectable artist, who advertises by his initials W.E. at CANTERBURY-CORNER near LAMBETH-TERRACE, insists that Leo on the ascendant will not describe the person of No 2, and takes Virgo and Mars. I request him, or any other person, to specify the event from that horoscope. At all events, Virgo and its planets, I admit, must give specific judgment; it being a general rule, that where Cancer or Leo ascend, judgment is to be taken from the next sign or planet, as Sun or Moon cannot be rulers of a geniture.

I must also add, that the lady whose nativity the other is, has informed me, that Mr POWELL, of TITCHFIELD-STREET, Dean-Street, Soho, has mentioned to her lately the breaking of her arm, NOT AT ALL VISIBLE EVEN WHEN KNOWN, without the most minute inspection.

If this second application should be attended with any effect, I will in return explain my judgment.



1: 10 (May 1792) p.404.



AS Mr. B. has publicly declared, that he is utterly unacquainted with any rule by which he could have predicted a broken arm in the one nativity, or an imposthume in the other; and as Mr. E. finds he is publicly called on by B. to answer this seemingly difficult query; Mr. W. E. conceives it would be doing the highest injustice to himself as an artist, if he did not, in the most plain obvious, and self evident principles of art, convince B. of his mistake, that those who are about to enter upon this study, may not be hunting after airy phantoms, in order to account for bodily infirmities or accidents in other nativities.

Mr. B. has not obliged us with the estimate time of birth in either of the genitures alluded to; but, on considering the matter, I find that of the lady’s is November the 25th 1770, at nine hours seven minutes A. M. with ten degrees of Libra ascending, and Jupiter lord of the sixth in the third house, and there afflicted by the opposition of Mars. This position is quite sufficient to produce the given accident, which we thus prove:—If Mr. B. will turn to any good astrological author, he will find that the third House governs the arms and shoulders; Jupiter, who in this Lady’s geniture, is significator of bodily infirmities, because Lord of the sixth, is posited in the third House, and afflicted by the opposition of Mars, which was observed before. Pray where then lays the difficulty to account for the given accidents? Will not the lord of the sixth in the third, afflicted by the opposition of an infortune, do it? I am thoroughly satisfied that it will, for which reason I take my leave of this geniture, and pass to the gentleman’s.

In this, as in the other, we are left in the dark, as to the estimate time: however, on examination, it is on the first of October 1763, at ten hours thirty minutes A.M. at which time nineteen degrees of the Celestial Leo ascending, which is the terms of Jupiter; the Sun is in seven degrees fifty minutes of Libra, in Venus’ terms disposed of by her, and within six degrees of her conjunction: so that the gentleman whose nativity this is, ought to be of a fine clear complexion, with auburn brown hair. But only mark well the malice and partiality of his ill-natured stars; for instead of what we have now described him to be, he is of a dull, swarthy, sallow complexion, with very dark hair and eyes. I shall, for these reason, take the liberty of making the time of birth an hour and forty minutes later, and we shall then have five degrees of Virgo ascending, and Mars exactly on the cusp of the ascendant in mutual reception by House with Mercury, who will then be Lord of the ascendant, and posited in the third House in Scorpio, within orbs of a sextile of Mars and opposition of Saturn. Those that are unacquainted with what manner of person this position will produce, know nothing of astrology. As to that rule mentioned by B. which excludes the Sun and Moon from forming the descriptive when lord of the ascendant, it is neither agreeable to reason, experience, nor common sense, which I shall sufficiently prove, if I find this well received. But to proceed, I again advise Mr. B. to have recourse to his books, and he will find a table shewing what members or parts of the body every planet governs in any of the twelve celestial signs, which if he does, he will presently discover that Mercury in Scorpio governs the arms and shoulders in this geniture; he is posited in that sign as was before observed, and in the third house; and afflicted by the opposition of Saturn; from which consideration it is sufficiently obvious, that this position, and no other, was the true cause of the imposthume in the gentleman’s arm. As to his person, complexion &c. nothing can better describe him that the above position of Heaven; the given accident being thus sufficiently accounted for.

I shall conclude with observing, that I could wish young students would be cautious of suffering themselves to be deluded into a fondness of new whims; let them rather endeavour to fathom the depth of art by its own genuine principles, which, if they do, they will find their account in so doing.

I have been a practitioner of this science for many years; and if a birth is sent to me within an hour and a half of truth, I can without farther information, gain the true time within a few minutes; and having so done, can give a true description of the complexion, colour of the hair, private marks and moles, temper, &c.

No. 22, Kendall Place
near Lambeth Walk.


1: 11 (June 1792) p.432.


The Letters to Mr. B. are forwarded as directed.


1: 11 (June 1792) p.435.

Letter from Mercurius to the Editor.

I WAS particularly pleased, by perusing in your last Magazine, W. E. of Lambeth’s letter, addressed to B. concerning the gentleman and lady’s nativities in Numbers 4 and 9; his method of accounting for the accidents, is clear and comprehensive.

I have made the study of Astrology the amusement of my leisure hours, for several years, and am convinced by experience of the absurdity of B.’s idea, which excludes the luminaries from forming a description of the person when lords of the ascendant.

For instance, in the nativity of a gentleman of considerable rank in this kingdom, Leo ascends, the Sun lord of the ascendant being posited in the same sign; the must judicious writers on the science inform us that Sun in Leo gives a strong well proportioned body, large limbs, full eyes, light or yellowish hair, which exactly describes the person in question; now were we to follow the rule of B. Mercury in Virgo would describe his person, which would be a slender body, long arms and hands, dark hair, and a swarthy complexion, a description so diametrically opposite to the native’s real person, that no one possessed of a grain of sense can fail of seeing the absurdity of B.’s observation; bat that gentleman appears to be so entirely enveloped in spirit and ambiguity that common sense is put quite out of the question.

His remarks on Mr. Pitt’s nativity are calculated to confuse and mislead the young practitioner in many instances: In the first place, the Moon and Dragons Head are erroneously placed on the figure by more than a degree each; this in directing the several significations will make a difference in time of more than a year, and must make a considerable difference in the position of the part of fortune, which is projected according to the erroneous method of Gadbury, and contrary to the rule given in one of your former Magazines.

Amongst the indicial marks of his commanding the public treasure, is one which I believe never before was reckoned a mark of a man’s advancement viz. Sun Moon Venus Dragon’s Head in the twelfth house. This house is by all authors on the science, esteemed the worst, and from its baneful effects is called caco-dæmon, or the evil angel; now how planets posited in this house can by their position be a cause of advancement is a mystery. I have an author before me who says that sun in the 12th portends powerful adversaries, and danger of imprisonment; this was sufficiently verified in the nativity of the late unfortunate Queen of Denmark, who had the Sun and Moon posited in the 12th in the sign Cancer. Mr. Pitt having the lady of his ascendant essentially dignified by house, and being in conjunction of Dragon’s Head and Venus, those testimonies alone are sufficient to raise the native to a vast height of honour and preferment; but I will venture to assert, that the position of Saturn on the tenth, although beheld by a platick trine of Venus, will deprive him of his honours when he least expects it; and the position of the Georgian planet, (which I believe to be of the nature of Saturn) is a circumstance by no means in his favour.

I depend on your impartiality for the insertion of this, it being written with no other view, than the exclusion of error; if I find these few remarks well received, you may depend on my readiness to communicate any thing in my power toward the improvement of the science and the assistance of the young practitioner; and, contrary to the assertion of B. willing to take what B. calls trouble for nothing. If you think the nativity of the Queen of Denmark worth inserting, will send it in my next.

Bath, June 8, 1792.


1: 12 (July 1792) p.464.

TO CORRESPONDENTS (by editor, Henry Lemoine).

Our Lambeth Correspondent [W. E.] —who is an honour to the science—may depend upon the strictest attention.

What is become of Mr. B.? Has W. E. touched him too closely?


1: 12 (July 1792) p.465-467

Letter, by W. E. to Mr Gilbert.


IN my answer to B’s queries in Nos IV and IX, I promised to shew the weakness and absurdity of excluding the luminaries from forming the description of the native, when either of them are lords of the ascendant, but as a judicious correspondent at Bath has in a great measure saved me that trouble by his very pertinent remarks on the subject in the last Number, I conceive it will be unnecessary to say any more. However, before we take leave of the subject, I think it would not be amiss to ask Mr. B. how we are to proceed in forming the description of the native, when the beginning of Cancer ascends in this latitude; but to save him the trouble of replying, I suppose we are in that case to have recourse to the cusp of the 4th house. I will not pretend to say what Mr. B. may think of the matter; but this I am certain of, that should I hear that any person was so much out of himself as to follow this absurd rule, I should immediately conceive he was almost fit for the strait jacket.

But to the point now in hand: before we proceed any farther, let it be remembered that Mr. B. has said that the rectification of nativities is a matter of no consequence.

But I shall by a geniture, which I have had by me for a considerable number of years, sufficiently shew him how far distant he is from truth in that assertion.

The person to whom this geniture belonged was a son of Æsculapius; and whose brain was abundantly more full of scruples than compounds; which I conceive is rationally to be accounted for by considering the position of Mercury lord of the ascendant combust and retrograde — in Sagitary his detriment and on the cusp of the 5th house.

The estimate time of birth is Dec. the 10th, 1727, at 8.50 P.M. the corrected 9—15 : at the latter, 0-40 of Virgo, ascends the horizon, the lord of the ascendant combust and retrograde, the terms of Saturn ascending, the sign ascending earthy, all denoted that the native would be of a brown complexion, the hair and eyes dark.

But now pray observe what an unpardonable error we should have fell into, had we been so stupid as to suppose with B. that the rectification of nativities is a matter of no consequence, for at the estimate time 26 of Leo ascends and the Sun lord thereof, being posited in Sagitary and in the terms of Mars, the native ought to have been of clear complexion, and his hair as red as a carrot: by this the groping philosophers may, if they are not wilfully blind, easily discover the cause why some are fair and others brown, and why fair parents have dark children, and contra.

But to proceed: the accident with their corresponding directions, which I shall here bring forward to answer my intended purpose, are curious, remarkable, and accurately given.

And first, when he was thirteen years and almost two months old, he was seized with a swelling in his right leg, which lasted two years violent.

When this accident took place, he had the moon directed to the square of Saturn, the Sun to the square of Mars, and the Moon to the square of the Sun; these following so close at the heels of each other, and the position of Saturn in a fixed sign, caused the complaint to be both violent and of long continuance.

It began on the first of February, 1741, at which time Saturn by transit [… etc.]

I suppose it is by this time sufficiently obvious to every person that has read with attention, that Mr. B. is in an error; as we have in the first place clearly shewn what a blunder we should have committed, had we, without having any previous knowledge of the native, attempted to form the description of his person before the ascendant was truly ascertained. Secondly, the absurdity of his pretending to point out the times of the grand leading events of life. Before that important part of the business has been judiciously performed, and the directions wrought out according to art, will I conceive appear equally clear to every intelligent person; from which it is plain that what the so much admired Mr. P. said on the Lady’s Nativity, turned out true more by accident than otherwise—and I defy Mr. B. or any one else, to get at the time of events in nativities by any other method than that of directions, nor is there any certainty even in them till the true degree is known.

But if Mr. B. can clear his ground, if he can make it appear that he is in the right, which I am confident he cannot, then all the old women that tell, as they call it, surprising things by sea and land; all the itinerant sages that are just arrived from abroad; and, in a word, all the book-daubers of both sexes about town; will, if they have a spark of gratitude left, sincerely thank him for this valuable discovery: for now all is plain, all is easy, through this happy fit of thought; it is now (if true) of little consequence whether the given time is true or false; whether it is the nativity of the person you are to calculate for, or that of his next door neighbour. All danger of judging from a false ascendant is at an end, and an ignoramus that can scarcely distinguish the character of a planet from the outlines of a shoulder of mutton, may now succeed as well as the most respectable and judicious artist. Having now finished my answer to B.’s queries, I have done with all controversy. In the next something curious may be expected.


2: 13 (August 1792) p.7-8.


As there have been some blunders committed in the gentleman’s nativity in the last Number, I thought it would not be amiss to acquaint the public that the fault is wholly the printer’s;—the first is, he has addressed Mr Gilbert by name, without either my order or knowledge, as in the manuscript I have addressed him under the signature B. therefore I flatter myself that this will remove any dislike he may have conceived against me on that account:


2: 14 (September 1792) p.34.


H.D. will hear from W. E. next month.

Almeria may receive the desired information, by applying to W. E. No, 22, Kendall Place, Lambeth.


2: 24 (July 1793) p.516.

'French Affairs': G returns to the discussion of his own horoscope, reflecting on the astrological reasons for W. E.’s enmity towards him. he also gives the account of his naval experience that Lemoine was to use against him (see headnote at the top).