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A Profane Wit : The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester by James William Johnson

By James William Johnson

Of the glittering, licentious courtroom round King Charles II, John Wilmot the second one Earl of Rochester was once the main infamous. concurrently famous and vilified, he personified the rake-hell. Libertine, profane, promiscuous, he stunned his pious contemporaries together with his doubts approximately faith and his blunt verses that handled intercourse or vicious satiric attacks at the excessive and strong of the courtroom. This account of Rochester and his instances offers the proof in the back of his mythical acceptance as a rake and his deathbed repentance. besides the fact that, it additionally demonstrates that he was once a loving if untrue husband, a loyal father, a faithful good friend, a significant student, a social critic, and an aspiring patriot.

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Extra info for A Profane Wit : The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

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8 In an age when comparatively few aristocrats bothered to master the ancient tongues, Rochester’s reputation as a Latinist was significant, and the reasons for it are revealing. He was probably motivated by a combination of parental and pedagogical expectations as well as the classical enthusiasms of several friends and peers. His father’s reputation as a skilled and eloquent writer of Latin prose, deserved or not, was one factor. 10 Clearly, Wilmot men were expected to be proficient in Latin, the language of diplomacy.

Fulman’s Academiae Oxoniensis Notitia (1665) could muster up little to say in praise of it. Wadham consisted of a Warden or Custos; fifteen Fellows (Socii ); fifteen pupils (Discipuli ); and assorted menials. 7 But these bare facts were not the complete story about Wadham. One of the former Fellows was Christopher Wren, still in Oxford in 1660 lecturing in astronomy. Under John Wilkins, a group of men interested in the New Science had begun to meet informally at lodgings and coffee houses, to discuss the so-called Natural Philosophy.

Qxd 9/20/04 36 1:18 PM Page 36 A Profane Wit impulses toward moral anarchy and his unyielding self-judgment, fomented in his adolescence, would conjoin in strange ways in his adult compositions, as critics have pointed out. 30 If Rochester learned much from him that did no good, Robert Whitehall actually helped the young student as a classicist and poet. Whitehall knew Latin of the scholastic variety, and he used it with an easy, Goliardic familiarity. 32 He also began to write “occasional,” or situational poetry with Whitehall’s encouragement, if not assistance.

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