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John Whalley

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John Whalley

Second extract from chapter V in J.T.Gilbert's book, A History of the City of Dublin.

"After the conclusion of the wars in Ireland, however, he returned to Dublin, and located himself at the "Blew posts, next door to the Wheel of Fortune, on the west side of St. Stephen's Green," where he resumed his practice in "physick and mathematicks," and regularly published his astrological almanacks, styled "Advice from the stars." About 1698 Whalley removed to Nicholas'-street, next door to the "Fleece Tavern," where he continued his former avocations, and published, in 1701, "Ptolemy's Quadripartite, or four books, concerning the influences of the stars, faithfully rendered into English from Leo Allatius, with notes, explaining the most difficult and obscure passages," which was reprinted in 1786.

He also issued here the following work, containing 78 pages 12mo, the preface of which is dated, "from my house in Nicholas'-street, Dublin, January, 1701:" - "A Treatise of Eclipses; in which is shewed: 1. What an eclipse is, and how to know when an eclipse shall happen. 2. The errors of several authors conceiving the longitude, and the astrological handling of eclipses and mundane revolutions in general; and how the same may be rectified and amended. 3. The undoubted certainty of the Ptolomeian astrology; and how thereby to judge of eclipses, and the revolutions of the years of the world in general. 4. An astrological judgment of the great eclipse of the sun, the 13th of September, 1699: and another as great, which will happen the first of May, 1706. And on the conjunction of Saturn and Mars, December, 1700: and how far they are like to affect England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, France, Spain, Germany, and several other parts of Europe. 5. How by the riseing; setting and colours of the sun, moon, and other stars, comets and meteors, to judge of the weather, litterally from Ptolemy, translation excepted. The whole subject is new, and full of variety, and never before by any so copiously handled as here it is. By John Whalley, professor of physick and astrology. Dublin; Printed and sold by the author John Whalley, next door to the Fleece in Nicholas-street; and also by John Foster in Skinner Row, and Matthew Gun in Essex street, booksellers."

We find Whalley in 1709 exercising the trades of printer and publisher, "at the Blew Ball, Arundal-court, just without St. Nicholas'-gate;" this court received its name from Robert Arundal, who rented it from the Corporation, and a portion of it is now occupied by the market, erected in 1783 by Sir Thomas Blackball. In 1711, John Mercer, an extensive dealer in coals, commenced a prosecution against Whalley for having, upon the application of several poor inhabitants of Dublin, printed their case, addressed to Parliament for relief against Mercer as an engrosser or forestaller of coals; whereupon Whalley petitioned the House of Commons, which exonerated him, and directed proceedings to be taken against Mercer "as a common and notorious cheat, for selling and retailing coals in the city of Dublin by false and deceitful measures."

In 1714 the Doctor started a newspaper, styled "Whalley's News Letter, containing a full and particular account of foreign and domestick news;" and in 1718 he published "An account of the great eclipse of the Moon, which will be total and visible at Dublin, and to all Ireland, Great Britain, &c., this day, being Fryday, the 29th of August, 1718."

Whalley carried on perpetual warfare with the other astrologers and almanack compilers of his day, the principal of whom were Andrew Cumpsty, John Coats, of Cork, who styled himself "Urania's servant," and John Knapp, "at the sign of the Dyal in Meath-strect." To his "Advice from the stars, or Almanac for the year of Christ, 1700," Whalley added an appendix "concerning the Pope's supremacy; and the picture of a mathemaggoty monster, to be seen at the (sign of the) Royal Exchange on the Wood-quay, Dublin, or Andrew Cumpsty drawn to the life." The gravest offender against Whalley was Coats, who, in his almanack for 1723, predicted that the former would certaiuly die in February of that year, or at the longest in two or three months after, which not proving correct, afforded Whalley, in his next publication, an opportunity of venting his choler upon the false diviner, whom he styled "a scandal to astrology," the "most obdurate and incorrigible of impostors," a "baboon," and "a hardened villain," concluding with the following professional jargon:- " But thirdly, to put this whole dispute in yet a much clearer light. The doating numskull placed 9 of Cancer on the cusp of the ascendant, and 19 of the same sign on the second, and thereby makes the whole ascendant to be possest by, and contain only 10 degrees of Cancer. And when that is told, how Jupiter in 16 degrees of Aquary, in the 9th, and the moon in 26 of Libra, 18 degrees from the cusp in the 5th (as he has given them), can be said to be in trine with the ascendant; and whether that can consist of only so few degrees, I refer to you who are proper judges to consider, till my next."