Thursday, December 9, 2010

Born Too Soon : #2 - John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester

Poetry is Life  is having a Suggest Poetry Day. This fits quite nicely with the second in our series of  "Great /b/tards from History", the notorious poet and rake, John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester.

Régime de Vivre
I rise at eleven, I dine about two,
I get drunk before seven; and the next thing I do,
I send for my whore, when for fear of a clap,
I spend in her hand, and I spew in her lap.
Then we quarrel and scold, 'till I fall fast asleep,
When the bitch, growing bold, to my pocket does creep;
Then slyly she leaves me, and, to revenge the affront,
At once she bereaves me of money and c**t.
If by chance then I wake, hot-headed and drunk,
What a coil do I make for the loss of my punk!
I storm and I roar, and I fall in a rage,
And missing my whore, I bugger my page.
Then, crop-sick all morning, I rail at my men,
And in bed I lie yawning 'till eleven again.

Rochester is the very model of the hard-drinking, sexually degenerate libertine. Born in 1647, he graduated from Oxford University at the age of 14 (his uncle was Chancellor). His courage in a sea battle against the Dutch in 1665 made the 18 year old Rochester a hero at the Restoration Court.

The next 15 years were spent in what Dr Johnson described as : "a course of drunken gaiety and gross sensuality, with intervals of study perhaps yet more criminal, with an avowed contempt of decency and order, a total disregard to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious observation, he lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and health in lavish voluptuousness".

This career of drunken debauchery included incidents such as the abduction of an heiress to be his wife, murderous scuffles with the night watch, and posing as a gynæcologist and (quite successful) "fertility specialist".

He died at the age of 33 of  a variety of "social diseases", leaving behind (like Beardsley) a famous death-bed conversion and a request that his work should be burned.

Unlike Beardsley, it's hard to see that Rochester would have gained much from the internet age. Living in his mother's basement fapping to loli on <a certain image board> would be unlikely to satisfy him.

He might benefit from advances in modern medicine - particularly Penicilin - but would probably keep pushing the epidemiological envelope until he managed to contract something untreatable. 

To learn more, you could do worse than to read Jeremy Lamb's biography, or watch "The Libertine" with Johnny Depp in the title rôle.

A selection of his more colorful verses can be found here.


  1. Hey, when you're good, you're good... and Johnny was damn good.

  2. This is the first time I hear about this, maybe I'll watch the movie, dont have time for the book

  3. "a total disregard to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious observation, he lived worthless and useless"
    -Christian idea of every atheist

  4. I'm going to watch the Libertine I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp!

  5. That man is everything I yearn to be and I scorn him for it.

  6. This was really a movie? Was it NC-17, cause I never heard of it. As for suggest poetry day, There once was a man from Nantucket...

  7. haha posing as a gynæcologist, what a champ

  8. it's hard to understand the poetry, but it's nice one

  9. I read the line "he graduated from Oxford University at the age of 14" and went wtf?! Universities must of been really different back then.

  10. Wow he was a dirty guy wasn't he...literally.

  11. that is perhaps one of the finest poems i have ever read. well done my good sir. sucio delivers again! didn't know about the depp movie!

  12. French title, bad english poem.. what did I just read? Well, the fact he might had been drunk while writting this most likely solve my question!

  13. I don't get up before 2pm when I was drinking through the night...what a pantsy if he's feeling fine enough to rise at 11 xD

  14. Normally people just say they have death bed conversion so people don't think AS bad of them.
    Followin :]

  15. lmfao nice poem, totally enjoyed reading it :D

  16. Whoa...well this guy sounds like a 17th century Charlie Sheen...only smarter, and more talented, and he actually served in the military instead of just making the movie "Platoon." But, ah, oh well...sounds like it was just a waste of potential in the end.

  17. This man, is my hero. He is legendary. I'll watch that movie soon.

  18. lol@Jimmy - that would be DR. Charlie Sheen to us.

    Do you really need a "variety" of social diseases to kick the bucket? Live hard, die..well, nevermind.

  19. Sounds like he had several things in common with Eazy-E

  20. "a resolute denial of every religious observation, he lived worthless and useless"... get out of my head man

  21. He sounds like an awesome guy I would want to hear from online, but not know in person. That way could hear his conquests and complaints without actually having to deal with his stupid shit in person.

  22. i especially liked this couplet:

    "I send for my whore, when for fear of a clap,
    I spend in her hand, and I spew in her lap"

    safety first.

  23. Death bed conversions piss me off. I read/see that and just think. "sigh"