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 favorite 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 courtroom. This account of Rochester and his instances presents the evidence in the back of his mythical recognition as a rake and his deathbed repentance. even though, it additionally demonstrates that he used to be a loving if untrue husband, a faithful father, a devoted good friend, a major student, a social critic, and an aspiring patriot.

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

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Jean-Baptiste Lully, the Master of Court Music, had attained great prominence in 1661, and in 1662 he began his collaboration with Molière. Lully became a particular favorite of Rochester’s, whose own “Song” compositions possibly owed to his early delight in the sung music of Lully. Some of Rochester’s “Songs” were set to music during the Earl’s lifetime; and one scholar has suggested that they were actually sung at Court. 19 Whatever the effects of his exposure to the arts and libertine practices of the French Court may have been, Rochester’s education remained firmly under the control of Andrew Balfour.

Lully became a particular favorite of Rochester’s, whose own “Song” compositions possibly owed to his early delight in the sung music of Lully. Some of Rochester’s “Songs” were set to music during the Earl’s lifetime; and one scholar has suggested that they were actually sung at Court. 19 Whatever the effects of his exposure to the arts and libertine practices of the French Court may have been, Rochester’s education remained firmly under the control of Andrew Balfour. After residing in Paris until May to see the King’s garden in full bloom, they left in June 1662 for a summer tour through “the Garden of France,” along the Loire from Orleans to Nantes.

22 Given young Rochester’s known good looks and his sleeping arrangements with Francis Giffard, it is small wonder that he should become the object of Robert Whitehall’s doting or that he would accept such attentions as natural. It is quite possible that Rochester became actively homosexual during his time at Oxford. 23 If he learned about such acts during his Oxford days, he was far from unique. ”24 In the turbulent, sexually charged atmosphere of Oxford following the Restoration, thirteen-year-old Rochester also may have begun his heterosexual career.

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