By James William Johnson
Of the glittering, licentious courtroom round King Charles II, John Wilmot the second one Earl of Rochester used to be the main infamous. at the same time well known and vilified, he personified the rake-hell. Libertine, profane, promiscuous, he stunned his pious contemporaries along with his doubts approximately faith and his blunt verses that handled intercourse or vicious satiric attacks at the excessive and strong of the court docket. This account of Rochester and his instances presents the evidence at the back of his mythical popularity as a rake and his deathbed repentance. notwithstanding, it additionally demonstrates that he was once a loving if untrue husband, a faithful father, a faithful buddy, a major student, a social critic, and an aspiring patriot.
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Additional resources for A Profane Wit : The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Rochester himself acknowledged Balfour’s significant role in his education. His later associations, both social and literary, with scholars of various achievements also helped to sustain his classical interests. qxd 9/20/04 1:16 PM Page 23 A Classical Education 23 him. Equally importantly, Rochester’s intelligence and lively curiosity were motivations to learning in themselves. Accordingly, he began to study Latin at the age of seven under the watchful eye of Francis Giffard, and in time he read the authors who would influence his own thought and writing.
When the Restoration came about, the Oxford establishment was anxious to assure King Charles of its loyalty. Royalist though it had been in the 1640s, the University had made numerous concessions to the Parliamentarians during their supremacy. Naturally, those who had accommodated themselves to the Cromwells did not want that fact to prejudice the restored monarch against Oxford. As a token of their renewed dedication to the Stuarts––and reminder of their august learning––Oxonians planned a volume of poetic tributes to Charles, hoping to win his friendship with an assortment of encomiums in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
55 As an adult, Rochester’s fear of death made him turn to alcohol and sexual promiscuity for temporary escape. Death was ubiquitous in seventeenth-century England; John Wilmot’s childhood was as marked by it as by other kinds of absence and separation. In addition to unrecorded deaths of relatives, stillbirths, and infant deaths, four of his close male relatives died before he reached the age of twelve, including two half-brothers and, most importantly, his father. By the time he was twenty, Rochester was the only surviving male heir of his generation of Wilmots and Lees.
A Profane Wit : The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester by James William Johnson