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The Enhanced Serving Man


In his Quake-speare Shorterly post of 4 June 2013, Rambler devoted a few paragraphs at the end to the anonymous play, The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll (1600) and the character within, the Earle of Lassingbergh.

Rambler writes;

“A second play which treats Vere in a similar way to Sir Gyles Goosecappe is the anonymous The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll. The Vere figure, the Earl of Lassingbergh, disguises himself as a “mercenary painter” to obtain access to the household of Lucilia’s father.

Hans, the rather foolish servant, asks rhetorically:

Who is it must marry with Lucilia bright?
All day a painter, and an Earl at night

One critic writes with perspicacity of this play:

The painter appears in double perspective, like those figures in anamorphic paintings, both as a nobleman and commoner, a genius and an ass, an eloquent lover and an erotic opportunist, an ideal husband and a melancholic loner. (Tassi, p. 115)

I don’t know whether it is significant, but the two plays I’m familiar with which credited Vere with extra-ordinary ability — Goosecappe and Dodypoll — were both issued in print form anonymously.  An ass-genius in Dodypoll, and the idiot-savant-artist in Goosecappe. The latter is Chapman’s only anonymous play, if you follow my meaning. “

end Rambler excerpt


That snippet is so intriguing, specifically the portrayal of a man who is an artist by day and a nobleman by night. I’ve taken a quick look at the play, and there’s quite of bit to interest us.

The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll  is online here. 

The play opens with the earle of Lassingbergh painting his love Lucilia. Here are his, and the plays very first two lines.

LASSIN: Welcome, bright Morne, that with thy golden rayes
Reveal’st the variant colours of the world,

They certainly sound familiar!  Here are the opening two lines from Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis.

EVEN as the sun with purple-colour’d face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,


Lasssingbergh is Shakespeare! It’s plain as day. No wonder this play is anonymous!!


The first scene is worth reading in its entirety. I take Lucilia to be his muse.  Later in the scene.

LASSIN: From these base Anticks where my hand hath spearst
Thy severall parts: if I uniting all,
Had figur’d there the true Lucilia,
Then might’st thou justly wonder at mine Art,
I,1, 44

Spearst is an interesting choice of words.

Let’s look at Hans, the foolish servant as Rambler describes him.  The name is spelled Haunce in the original.

HAUNCE: Come sir, it is not your painting alone,
Makes your absolute man; ther’s as fine a hand
To be requir’d in carrying a dish,
As sweete art to be shew’d in’t
As in any maister peece whatsoever;
Better then as you painted the Doctor eene now,
With his nose in an Urinall.

LASSIN: Be quiet sir, or Ile paint you by and by,
eating my maisters comfets. [Exit]  II,1

Haunce the servant reminds the earl that his painting is not his alone. The serving man (he who ‘carries the dish’) played a role in creating the ‘absolute man.’  Lassinnbergh tells the servant Haunce to be quiet, or he’ll portray him in a painting as eating the master’s comfets (sweets).  That sounds like he’s blackmailing Haunce to keep quiet about his role in assisting the artist.

Later in the play, we learn more about Haunce.

LASSIN: What speech is this that interrupts my rest?
Who have we heere?

HAUNCE: Sometime a servingman, and so were yee,
Both now jolly gentlemen you see.


Haunce the servingman is now a gentleman!  How did that happen?


LASSIN: What sir, how came you thus gallant I beseech you?

HAUNCE: I turn’d the spit in Fortunes wheele sir.  

RAPHE: O see (my lord) heer’s one weares his apparrell.

HARDEN: But wher’s he? stay sirra, what are you
That jet thus in the garments of the Prince?

HAUNCE: Bought and sold sir, in the open market sir,
Aske my maister.

HARDEN: Earle Lassinbergh, where is the Princes body?

LASSIN: Why aske you me my Lord?

HARDEN: Since you are in the place where he was drownd,
And this your hinde here, hath his garments on.

LASSIN: Enquire of him then. … [IV.3.120]

HARDEN: Ile enquire of you, and of your gallant too.
Guard apprehend them, and bring them
Presentlie to court with us. IV, 3

There’s much here to digest. Huance, the servant  became a gentleman as he ‘turned the spit on Fortune’s wheel’  The serving man as spit turner figures in the later play, The Gentleman Usher, in the scene that gives this blog its name.  And Fortune’s role sounds similar to Mendice’s story at the end of that same play.

and being told my fortune
By an old sorceress that I should be great
In some great prince’s love,

Haunce the servant is found wearing the clothes of the dead prince, who drowned.  Who is that?  Notice that both Haunce and Lassinbergh are apprehended for the possible crime.

So Haunce, a servant, became a gentleman (like Pol-marten in A Tale of a Tub) and then is wearing nobleman’s clothes (like Medice in Gentleman Usher.) These plays tell a consistent story!

Haunce (Hans) is an alternate spelling of hance.  The OED tells us hance is to raise, lift, elevate, exalt.   Of course, enhance.   The servant is elevated to gentleman and then faux nobleman. Once again, we’ve found Shaksper. He sounds like an upstart.

The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll is an anonymous play.  There are some striking similarities with the later Gentleman Usher that perhaps point to Chapman as the author. In Usher, the opening lines of V&A are used to show that Shaksper is NOT the poet (he can’t read them, he’s illiterate). In Dodypoll, the opening lines are used to show that the earl IS Shakespeare. Both plays have an extended scene where the Vere character is bound by an enchanter (perhaps more on that later.)  The spit turning and Fortune references mentioned above are commonalities too.

Lassingbergh, the artist by day and earl by night, deserves a closer look. I hope to do one more post on him, and then return to the unfinished business of A Tale of a Tub.


1 comment

1 psi { 05.01.14 at 2:07 am }

Great blog Chris. Thanks, keep it up!

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