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such numbers and such diction can gain regard only when they are used by a writer whose vigour of fancy and copiousness of knowledge entitle him to contempt of ornaments, and who, in confidence of the novelty and justness of his conceptions, can afford to throw metaphors and epithets away. To another that conveys common thoughts in careless versification, it will only be said, 'Pauper videri Cinna vult, et est pauper.' The meaning and diction will be worthy of each other, and criticism may justly doom them to perish together.

52. Nor even though another Butler should arise, would another Hudibras obtain the same regard. Burlesque consists in a disproportion between the style and the sentiments, or between the adventitious sentiments and the fundamental subject. It therefore, like all bodies compounded of heterogeneous parts, contains in it a principle of corruption. All disproportion is unnatural; and from what is unnatural we can derive only the pleasure which novelty produces. We admire it awhile as a strange thing; but, when it is no longer strange, we perceive its deformity. It is a kind of artifice, which by frequent repetition detects itself; and the reader, learning in time what he is to expect, lays down his book, as the spectator turns away from a second exhibition of those tricks, of which the only use is to shew that they can be played 3.

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Fielding, in the Preface to Joseph Andrews, writing of burlesque, says: 'But though we have sometimes admitted this in our diction, we have carefully excluded it from our sentiments and characters; for there it is never properly introduced, unless in writings of the burlesque kind, which this is not intended to be. Indeed, no two species of writing can differ more widely than the comic and the burlesque; for as the latter is ever the exhibition of what is monstrous and unnatural, and where our delight, if we examine it, arises from the surprising absurdity, as in appropriating the manners of the highest to the lowest, or e converso, so in the former we should ever confine ourselves strictly to nature, from the just imitation of which will flow all the pleasure we can this way convey to a sensible reader.'



OHN WILMOT, afterwards Earl of Rochester, the son of 1 Henry, Earl of Rochester, better known by the title of Lord Wilmot, so often mentioned in Clarendon's History', was born April 10, 16472, at Ditchley, in Oxfordshire. After a grammatical education at the school of Burford, he entered a nobleman into Wadham College in 1659, only twelve years old; and in 1661, at fourteen, was, with some other persons of high rank, made master of arts by Lord Clarendon in person 3.

He travelled afterwards into France and Italy; and, at his 2 return, devoted himself to the Court. In 1665 he went to sea with Sandwich, and distinguished himself at Bergen by uncommon intrepidity*; and the next summer served again on board [the ship commanded by ] Sir Edward Spragge, who, in the heat of the engagement, having a message of reproof to send to one of his captains, could find no man ready to carry it but Wilmot, who, in an open boat, went and returned amidst the storm of shot 6.

But his reputation for bravery was not lasting: he was 3 reproached with slinking away in street quarrels and leaving his companions to shift as they could without him; and Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, has left a

''Wilmot loved debauchery, but shut it out from his business; never neglected that, and seldom miscarried in it. Goring had a much better understanding, and a sharper wit, except in the very exercise of debauchery, and then the other was inspired.' CLARENDON, Hist. v. 2. See also ib. iv. 472.

2 'He was born anno 1647, on April the 1st day, 11h. 7m. a.m., and endued with a noble and fertile muse. The sun governed the horoscope, and the moon ruled the birth hour. The

conjunction of Venus and Mercury in M. Coeli, in sextile of Luna, aptly denotes his inclination to poetry. The great reception of Sol with Mars and Jupiter posited so near the latter, bestowed a large stock of generous

story of his refusal to fight him".

and active spirits, which constantly attended on this excellent native's mind, insomuch that no subject came amiss to him.' Gadbury's Ephemeris, 1698, quoted in Ath. Oxon. iii. 1230n. Burnet places his birth in 1648. Some passages of the Life and Death of John, Earl of Rochester, 1680, p. 1.


'He was admitted very affectionately into the fraternity by a kiss on the left cheek from the Chancellor of the University.' Ath. Oxon. iii. 1229. Life, by Burnet, p. 9.


5 These four words, omitted also in the first edition, are supplied from Burnet's Life, p. 10.

6 Ib. p. II.

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Post, SHEFFIELD, 3. If Rochester was cowardly, Sheffield was a ruffian. They were, he says, to fight on horse

4 He had very early an inclination to intemperance, which he totally subdued in his travels'; but when he became a courtier he unhappily addicted himself to dissolute and vitious company, by which his principles were corrupted and his manners depraved. He lost all sense of religious restraint; and, finding it not convenient to admit the authority of laws which he was resolved not to obey, sheltered his wickedness behind infidelity.

5 As he excelled in that noisy and licentious merriment which wine incites, his companions eagerly encouraged him in excess, and he willingly indulged it, till, as he confessed to Dr. Burnet, he was for five years together continually drunk, or so much inflamed by frequent ebriety as in no interval to be master of himself".

6 In this state he played many frolicks, which it is not for his honour that we should remember, and which are not now distinctly known. He often pursued low amours in mean disguises, and always acted with great exactness and dexterity the characters which he assumed.

7. He once erected a stage on Tower-hill, and harangued the populace as a mountebank; and, having made physick part of his study, is said to have practised it successfully 3.


8 He was so much in favour with King Charles that he was made one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, and comptroller of Woodstock Park *.

back, because 'Lord Rochester told
me he was so weak with a distemper
that he found himself unfit to fight at
all any way, much less a-foot.
My anger against him being quite
over, because I was satisfied that he
never spoke those words I resented,
I took the liberty of representing
what a ridiculous story it would make
if we returned without fighting....
I must be obliged in my own defence
to lay the fault on him, by telling the
truth of the matter.' His second
spread it abroad. Works, 1729, ii. 8.

Scott, quoting the passage, twice speaks of Rochester's infamy, but passes over in silence the other's brutality. Scott's Dryden, xv. 215. For Rochester's cowardly brutality to Dryden see post, DRYDEN, 105.

His father was charged with 'want of mettle' early in the Civil War. Clarendon's Hist. iii. 188 n.

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3'He set up in Tower Street for an Italian mountebank, where he practised physic for some weeks not without success. He took pleasure to disguise himself as a porter, or as a beggar; sometimes to follow some mean amours. He would go about in odd shapes, in which he acted his part so naturally that even those who were in the secret could perceive nothing by which he might be discovered.' Life, p. 27. See also Burnet's History, i. 294.

'He was raunger of Woodstockparke, and lived often at the lodge at

Having an active and inquisitive mind he never, except in his 9 paroxysms of intemperance, was wholly negligent of study; he read what is considered as polite learning so much that he is mentioned by Wood as the greatest scholar of all the nobility'. Sometimes he retired into the country and amused himself with writing libels, in which he did not pretend to confine himself to truth".

His favourite author in French was Boileau, and in English 10 Cowley 3.

Thus in a course of drunken gaiety and gross sensuality, with 11 intervals of study perhaps yet more criminal, with an avowed contempt of all decency and order, a total disregard to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious obligation, he lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness, till, at the age of one and thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.

At this time he was led to an acquaintance with Dr. Burnet, to 12 whom he laid open with great freedom the tenour of his opinions and the course of his life, and from whom he received such con

the west end, a very delightfull place, and noble prospects westwards. Here his lordship had severall lascivious pictures drawen.' AUBREY, Brief Lives, ii. 304.

'He was a person of most rare parts, and his natural talent was excellent, much improved by learning and industry, being thoroughly acquainted with the classic authors, both Greek and Latin; a thing very rare (if not peculiar to him) among those of his quality.' Ath. Oxon. iii. 1229.

'He had made himself master of the ancient and modern wit, and of the modern French and Italian, as well as the English.' Life, p. 7.

His tutor told Hearne that 'he understood very little or no Greek, and that he had but little Latin.' Hearne's Coll. iii. 263.

The standard of learning among the nobility was not high: Evelyn wrote of the Earl of Essex in 1680:'He is a sober, wise, judicious, and pondering person, not illiterate beyond the rate of most noblemen in

this age.' Diary, ii. 149.

"'He said the lies in these libels came often in as ornaments, that could not be spared without spoiling the beauty of the poem.' Life, p. 26.

'He found out a footman that knew all the Court, and he furnished him with a red coat and a musket as a sentinel, and kept him all the winter long every night at the doors of such ladies as he believed might be in intrigues.... When he was furnished with materials he used to retire into the country for a month or two, to write libels.' BURNET, Hist. of my own Time, i. 295.


Life, p. 8. Lord Rochester said [of Cowley], though somewhat profanely:fanely:Not being of God, he could not stand."' DRYDEN, Works, xi. 224.


Johnson held them as perhaps more criminal, as he directed his studies to fortify his mind by dispossessing it all he could of the belief and apprehensions of religion,' and also to strengthen these ill principles in others.' Life, pp. 15, 16.

viction of the reasonableness of moral duty and the truth of Christianity as produced a total change both of his manners and opinions. The account of those salutary conferences is given by Burnet, in a book intituled Some Passages of the Life and Death of John Earl of Rochester, which the critick ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety. It were an injury to the reader to offer him an abridgement 2.

13 He died July 26, 1680, before he had completed his thirtyfourth year; and was so worn away by a long illness that life went out without a struggle3.



Lord Rochester was eminent for the vigour of his colloquial wit*, and remarkable for many wild pranks and sallies of extravagance. The glare of his general character diffused itself upon his writings; the compositions of a man whose name was heard so often were certain of attention, and from many readers certain of applause. This blaze of reputation is not yet quite extinguished; and his poetry still retains some splendour beyond that which genius has bestowed ❝.

Wood and Burnet give us reason to believe that much was imputed

Life, p. 30. He wrote to Burnet shortly before his death:-'If God be yet pleased to spare me longer in this world I hope in your conversation to be exalted to that degree of piety, that the world may see how much I abhor what I so long loved, and how much I glory in repentance in God's service. Hist. of my own Time, Preface, p. 17.

'Nor was the King pleased with my being sent for by the Earl when he died; he fancied that he had told me many things of which I might make an ill use; yet he had read the book that I writ concerning him and spoke well of it.' Ib. ii. 122.

* 'I asked if Burnet had not given a good Life of Rochester. JOHNSON. We have a good Death; there is not much Life. Boswell's Johnson, iii. 191.

3 He lay much silent; once they heard him praying very devoutly. And on Monday, about two of the clock in the morning, he died without any convulsion, or so much as a groan.' Life, p. 157.

'At length, after a short but pleasant life, this noble and beautiful count paid his last debt to nature.' Ath. Oxon. iii. 1232. 'The writings of this noble and beautiful count, as Anthony Wood calls him (for his Lordship's vices were among the fruits of the Restoration, and consequently not unlovely in that biographer's eyes),' &c. HORACE WALPOLE, Works, i. 399.

The dissolute Earl of Sandwich (the fourth earl) was Rochester's grandson. Post, SHEFFIELD, 3n.

4'His wit had in it a peculiar brightness, to which none could ever arrive.' BURNET, History, i. 294.

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5 Mr. Andrew Marvell, who was a good judge of witt, was wont to say that he was the best English satyrist, and had the right veine.' AUBREY, Brief Lives, ii. 304.

'Lord Rochester's poems have much more obscenity than wit, more wit than poetry, more poetry than politeness.' WALPOLE, Works, i. 399.

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