By James William Johnson
Of the glittering, licentious court docket round King Charles II, John Wilmot the second one Earl of Rochester was once the main infamous. concurrently widespread 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 effective of the courtroom. This account of Rochester and his occasions presents the evidence at the back of his mythical recognition as a rake and his deathbed repentance. in spite of the fact that, it additionally demonstrates that he used to be a loving if untrue husband, a faithful father, a faithful good friend, a major pupil, 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
5 The Countess had planned for Mr. Giffard to attend her son to Oxford, but then she decided it would not be necessary. Giffard accompanied the young Earl to Oxford in January; but soon after, on February 10, he was ordained a deacon at Lincoln. The Countess, however, had no intention of releasing her son from stringent supervision: she entrusted him to Warden Blandford, who turned him over to Phineas Berry (or Bury) as tutor. Berry had his duties spelled out for him in official Latin: his main task was Exercidis & Actibus Scholasticis interesse.
He began composing a series of verse tributes to every potential sponsor: Charles II, Lord Clarendon, Catherine of Braganza, the Duke of Monmouth, and James II. (Poor Queen Catherine fled London in 1665 to escape the Plague, only to face Robert Whitehall in Oxford. )18 In 1660 he was, as a raffish punster noted, “loyned with sack and faced with claret”––a bibulous, bumptuous, redfaced, rhyming Falstaff on the lookout for a Prince Hal to help make his fortune. In young Lord Rochester, he thought he had found one.
4 Assuming his role as Wilmot’s governor in 1661, Balfour soon realized what damage the lacuna in his charge’s education at Oxford had done. 5 Consequently, he began a strategy that his pupil long remembered. qxd 9/20/04 1:19 PM Page 41 The Grand Tour 41 Governour . . for his great Fidelity and Care of him, when he was under his trust. But no part of it affected him more sensibly, than that he engaged him by many tricks (so he expressed it) to delight in Books and reading. . 6 The books Balfour used to trick Rochester were the classical works, even the French romances, referred to in his Letters.