A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
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to take more liberty of behavior

In The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll, (anon 1600)  Earl Lassinbergh, who is a ‘painter by day, and an earl by night’ is confronted with his deception.

“FLORES: Heere you young gentlemen; do you know this man? … [II.1.80]

[Exit Haunce.]

MOTTO. Yes signior Flores, ’tis Earle Lassinbergh.
My lord what meane you to come thus disguisd?

LUCILIA: Aye me.

LASSIN: The foolish boye is mad, I am Cornelius;
Earle Lassinbergh; I never heard of him.

The Earl is using Cornelius as his alias. Who is Cornelius?  Cornelius Agrippa was a magician/alchemist/conjuror in the early 16th century.  Rambler has written extensively on Vere as conjurer, “now you see him, now you don’t.”  More interesting, is that Thos Nashe used Cornelius Agrippa in his historical novel, The Unfortunate Traveler (1594).  The Unfortunate Traveler tells the tales of Jack Wilton, a page.  We’re already familiar with Jack Factotum, and Jack-a-Lent, who was also a page, so M. Wilton has our interest. More on him in a bit.

Cornelius is introduced in Traveler as

” …that abundant scholler Cornelius Agrippa. At that time he bare the fame to be the greatest coniurer in christendome.”

Cornelius is asked to perform feates before the Duke.  This is occuring at Wittenberg. Here’s the account from The Unfortunate Traveler.


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Cornelius conjuring is not so much magic as it is acting!  He can convincingly portray Ovid (Shakespeare’s favorite) and Plautus (the source of Comedy of Errors) and recite Cicero’s Pro Roscio Amerino. George Stock in his notes for Amerino ascribes it as the source of the idea in Macbeth – “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?


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Rambler has described this idiom as Shakespeare’s favorite, providing many more examples from H.H. Holland’s work.  The acting by Cormelius are all from works close to Shakespeare’s heart. Also, the description of Cornelius’ extraordinary acting abilities by Nashe sounds quite a bit like Musco’s acting ability in Jonson’s Every Man In His Humour.

“Fore God, not I, an I might have been joined patent with one of the Nine Worthies for knowing him. ‘Sblood, man, he had so writhen himself into the habit of one of your poor desperviews, your decayed, ruinous, worm-eaten gentlemen of the round, such as have vowed to sit on the skirts of the city (let your provost and his half-dozen of halberdiers do what they can), and have translated begging out of the old hackney pace to a fine, easy amble, and made it run as smooth off the tongue as a shove-groat shilling. Into the likeness of one of these lean Pirgos had he molded himself so perfectly, observing every trick of their action — as varying the accent, swearing with an emphasis, indeed all with so special and exquisite a grace — that, hadst thou seen him, thou wouldst have sworn he might have been the Tamburlaine or the Agamemnon of the rout.”  III.ii

Nashe describes another of Cornelius’  tricks.


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No doubt Nashe is using great hyperbole here. But he’s describing a man who knew passages from many books. He’s an ‘abundant scholler’ indeed!

In The Unfortunate Traveler, Jack Wilton is page to the Earl of Surrey (Henry Howard) father of the English sonnet.  In the introduction to Traveler, editor H.F.B. Brett-Smith writes…


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Smith equates Surrey with the Earl of Leicester, Jack Wilton to Richard Varney and Cornelius with Alasco.  I think the allusions are Jack Wilton to William Shaksper, Surrey to Vere (in this section at least)  and Cornelius also to Vere.

Wilton and the poet/Earl travel with Cornelius from Wittenberg. Wilton describes how he switches identities with the Earl.


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Let’s get this straight – the earl/poet changes identities with his page.  That scenario has been the central hypothesis of this blog.  Thos Nashe tells us the same story in The Unfortunate Traveler in 1594! The oft-asked question among Oxfordians and among those who doubt doubters has always been, why was an allonym/front name used?  Nashe spells it out plainly.  “he meant to take more liberty of behavior.” Notice also, “as for my carriage, he knew hee was to tune it at a key, either high or low, as he list.”  The poet/earl knew how to carry himself as a lowly servant!


May 31, 2014   2 Comments