[Milton-L] Re: Dr. Bendo and Wadham College

Nancy Rosenfeld rfeld_zn at ein-hashofet.co.il
Sun Feb 12 19:10:51 EST 2006

<According to Frances Yates, the Royal Society, which had its genesis in 
<a group headed by John Wilkins at Wadham College, Oxford, was influenced 
<by the Rosicrucian Enlightenment.

<John Wilmont, Lord Rochester, was a student at Wadham about that time.

<Subsequently, Rochester was to adopt the guise of Dr. Alexander Bendo, a 
<quack physician, who spoke in a mysterious language, concocted amazing 
<potents and amulets, and dressed exotically.

<This suggests that Rochester's Bendo performance may have been 
<influenced by his Wadham past.

<Is there any discussion of the impact of the Rosicrucian Enlightenment 
<on Rochester?

<Duncan C. Kinder

A fairly recent reference to the Rosicrucian Enlightenment which turned up in a quick check is Hugh J. Ormsby-Lennon, "Nature's Mystick Book: Renaissance Arcanum into Restoration Cant" in Secret Texts: The Literature of Secret Societies. Eds. M.M. Roberts, Hugh J. Ormsby-Lennon, M. Foot. NY: AMS, 1995. 

I find it interesting that Rochester was all of 12 years old when he went up to Oxford (he is said to have taken his degree in 1661, presumably at the age of 14). Of course a bright twelve-year-old can be influenced by exposure to theological debate, especially when the latter is couched in mystery. On the other hand, "Alexander Bendo's brochure" does read like the "work" of a young prankster. Good luck in your search,

Nancy Rosenfeld
Department of English Language and Literature, University of Haifa
Department of English, Jezreel Valley College  
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