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Butler is the wittiest of English poets, and at the same time he is one of the most learned, and what is more, one of the wisest. His "Hudibras," though naturally the most popular of his works from its size, subject, and witty excess, was an accident of birth and party compared with his Miscellaneous Poems; yet both abound in thoughts as great and deep as the surface is sparkling; and his genius altogether, having the additional recommendation of verse, might have given him a fame greater than Rabelais, had his animal spirits been equal to the rest of his qualifications for a universalist. the same time, though not abounding in poetic sensibility, he was not without it. -HUNT, LEIGH, 1846, Wit and Humour, p. 242.


Butler must ever retain his own plot of ground on the English Parnassus: it is a plot however which the other denizens regard as rather an excrescence and perceptibly malodorous, and, in their loftier moods, Apollo and the Muses turn a resolutely blind eye to that particular compartment. ROSSETTI, WILLIAM MICHAEL, 1878, Lives of Famous Poets, p. 89.

Taking them in this order, we will commence with a short notice of the miscellaneous verse. (I) We see Butler here, as in all his writings, a disappointed man, whose hand was raised against every man. He had a keen eye for the ridiculous side of things, but he did not care to draw attention to the better side. This may be said of all satirists, but it is a specially marked characteristic of Butler. One would have thought that there was enough folly on all sides of him to occupy his pen, and it is to be regretted that the new-born love for science and antiquity, which distinguished the Restoration era, should have had so persistent an enemy in this man of genius. WHEATLEY, HENRY B., 1881, Butler's Unpublished Remains, The Antiquary, vol. IV, p. 252.

A consummate master of caustic humour. COLLINS, JOHN CHURTON, 1895, Essays and Studies, p. 33.

John Wilmot

Earl of Rochester

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, was born at Ditchley, Oxfordshire, 10th April 1647, and was educated at Burford school and Wadham College, Oxford. He travelled in France and Italy, and then repaired to court, where his handsome person and lively wit made him a prominent figure. In 1665 he showed conspicuous courage against the Dutch. With his friend Windham he had engaged that, "if either of them died, he should appear and give the other notice of the future state, if there was any." Windham was killed, but did not disturb the rest of his friend, who now plunged into a life of the grossest debauchery and buffoonery, yet wrote excellent letters, personal satires, bacchanalian and amatory songs, and verses too often obscene and licentious. At the last he was moved to repentance by Bishop Burnet, and died 26 July 1680. His verses show more wit than poetry, but he possessed a rich gift of satire. Among the best of his poems are an imitation of Horace on Lucilius, Verses to Lord Mulgrave, a Satire against Man, and Verses upon Nothing.-PATRICK AND GROOME, eds., 1897, Chambers's Biographical Dictionary, p. 797.


A very prophane wit.-EVELYN, JOHN, 1670, Diary, Nov. 24.

To the King's everlasting shame, to have so idle a rogue his companion. -PEPYS, SAMUEL, 1668-69, Diary, Feb. 17.

For the benefit of all those whom I have drawn into sin by my example and encouragement, I leave to the world this my last declaration, (which I deliver in the presence of the great God, who knows the secrets of all hearts, and before whom I

am now appearing to be judged;) that, from the bottom of my soul, I detest and abhor the whole course of my former wicked life; that I think I can never sufficiently admire the goodness of God, who has given me a true sense of my pernicious opinions and vile practices, by which I have hitherto lived, without hope and without God in the world; have been an open enemy to Jesus Christ, doing the utmost despite to the Holy Spirit of Grace. And that the greatest testimony of my charity to such is, to warn them, in the name of God, and as they regard the welfare of their immortal souls, no more to deny his being or his providence, or despise his goodness; no more to make a mock of sin, or contemn the pure and excellent religion of my ever blessed Redeemer; through whose merits alone, I, one of the greatest of sinners, do yet hope for mercy and forgiveness. Amen. Declared and signed in the presence of Anne Rochester,

Robert Parsons.

Believe me shepherds, for I tell you true, The pleasures which from virtuous deeds we have,

Procure the sweetest slumbers in the grave. -FLATMAN, THOMAS, 1686, Poems, p. 174. Wilmot, earl of Rochester, was naturally modest till the court corrupted him. His wit had in it a peculiar brightness, to which none could ever arrive. He gave himself up to all sorts of extravagance, and to the wildest frolics that a wanton wit could devise. He would have gone about the street as a beggar, and made love as a porter. He set up a stage as an Italian mountebank. He was for some years always drunk, and was ever doing some mischief. The king loved his company for the diversion it afforded, better than his person; and there was no love lost between them. He took his revenges in many libels. He found out a footman that knew all the court, and he furnished him with a red coat and a musket as a centinel, and kept him all the winter long every night at the doors of

-ROCHESTER, JOHN WILMOT, EARL, 1680, such ladies as he believed might be in in

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Ye Albion Rivers, weep your Fountains dry, And all ye Plants your moisture spend, and die:

Ye melancholy Flowers, which once were

Lament, until you be transform'd agen:
Let every Rose pale as the Lilly be,
And Winter Frost seize the Anemone:
But thou, O Hyacinth, more vigorous grow,
In mournful Letters thy sad Glory show,
Enlarge thy Grief, and flourish in thy Woe:
For Bion, the beloved Bion's dead,

His Voice is gone, his tuneful Breath is fled. Come, all ye Muses, come, adorn the Shepherd's Herse,

With never-fading Garlands, never-dying
Garlands, never-dying
-OLDHAM, JOHN, 1680, A Pastoral on
the Death of the Earl of Rochester.

As on his death-bed gasping, Strephon lay,
Strephon! the wonder of the plains,
The noblest of th' Arcadian swains.
Strephon! the bold, the witty, and the gay,
With many a sigh and many a tear he said-
Remember me, ye shepherds, when I'm

Ye trifling glories of the world, adieu!

And vain applauses of the age;
For when we quit this earthly stage,

trigues. In the court a centinel is little minded, and is believed to be posted by a captain of the guards to hinder a combat: so this man saw who walked about and visited at forbidden hours. . . . In the last year of his life I was much with him, and have writ a book of what pass'd between him and me. I do verily believe he was then so entirely changed, that, if he had recovered, he would have made good all his resolutions.—BURNET, GILBERT, 1715– 34, History of My Own Time.

Lord Rochester was of a very bad turn of mind as well as debauched. [From the Duke of Buckingham and others that knew him.]-POPE, ALEXANDER, 172830, Spence's Anecdotes, ed. Singer, p. 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.

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. Having an active and inquisitive mind, he never, except in his 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. .. Thus in a course of a drunken gaiety and gross sensuality, with 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 oneand-thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay.-JOHNSON, SAMUEL, 1779, Earl of Rochester, Lives of the English Poets.

It is not now meant to deny many of the charges made against the character of Rochester, though some of them rest on very slender foundation; and when his memory has, for a century and a half, been loaded with unalloyed obloquy, it might seem the height of folly to offer any thing in its vindication; but if we can shew his character in a more amiable or less odious light, justice demands that his memory should have the benefit of it and if we can prove that, notwithstanding all his dissipation, and "lavish voluptuousness," he was an affectionate husband, and a fond father, we shall at least exhibit him in a light in which he has not hitherto been regarded. Happily, the evidence on which this will rest, is indisputable: it is drawn from his own domestic letters.COLLET, STEPHEN, 1823, Relics of Literature, p. 44.

His reputation as a wit must rest, in the present day, chiefly upon productions which have long since been condemned as unreadable. Strange to say, when not under the influence of wine, he was a constant student of classical authors, perhaps the worst reading for a man of his tendencies: all that was satirical and impure attracting him most. Boileau, among French writers, and Cowley among the English, were his favorite authors. He also read many books of physic; for long before thirty his constitution was so broken by his life, that he turned his

attention to remedies, and to medical treat⚫ ment; and it is remarkable how many men of dissolute lives take up the same sort of reading, in the vain hope of repairing a course of dissolute living. As a writer, his style was at once forcible and lively; as a companion, he was wildly vivacious: madly, perilously, did he outrage decency, insult virtue, profane religion.-THOMPSON, KATHERINE AND J. C. (GRACE AND PHILIP WHARTON), 1860, The Wits and Beaux of Society, p. 67.

His manners were those of a lawless and wretched mountebank; his delight was to haunt the stews, to debauch women, to write filthy songs and lewd pamphlets; he spent his time between scandal with the maids of honour, broils with men of letters, the receiving of insults, the giving of blows. By way of playing the gallant, he eloped with his wife before he married her. To make a display of scepticism, he ended by declining a duel, and gained the name of a coward. For five years together he was said to be drunk. The spirit within him fai'ing of a worthy outlet, plunged him into. adventures more befitting a clown. Once with the Duke of Buckingham he rented an inn on the Newmarket road, and turned innkeeper, supplying the husbands with drink and defiling their wives. introduced himself, disguised as an old woman, into the house of a miser, robbed him of his wife, and passed her on to Buckingham. Buckingham. The husband hanged himself; they made very merry over the affair. At another time he disguised himself as a chairman, then as a beggar, and paid court to the guttergirls. He ended by turning charlatan, astrologer, and vendor of drugs for procuring abortion, in the suburbs. One can


not copy even the titles of his poems; they were written only for the haunts of vice.-TAINE, H. A., 1871, History of English Literature, tr. Van Laun, vol. bk. iii, ch. i, p. 469.

Dorimant, the witty aristocratic rake in Etherege's play of "The Man of Mode." represents the Earl of Rochester.-FREY, ALBERT R., 1888, Sobriquets and Nicknames, p. 94.

To the same court* belonged Rochester, his great, fine wig covering a great, fine brain; he writing harmonious verses about

*Court of Charles II.

-"Nothing" or worse than nothing; and at the last wheedling Bishop Burnet into the belief that he had changed his courses, and that if he might rise from that ugly deathbed where the goodnatured, pompous bishop sought him, he would be enrolled among the moralists. I think it was lucky that he died with such good impulse flashing at the top of his badnesses.-MITCHELL, DONALD G., 1890, English Lands Letters and Kings, From Elizabeth to Anne, p. 185.


Sometimes he has some humour, never wit,
And if it rarely, very rarely, hit,
'Tis under so much nasty rubbish laid
To find it out's the cinder-woman's trade.
An Essay on Satire.

He was . . thoroughly acquainted with the classic authors, both Greek and Latin; a thing very rare (if not peculiar to him) among those of his quality.WOOD, ANTHONY, 1691-1721, Athena Oxonienses.

Oldham is a very indelicate writer: he has strong rage, but it is too much like Billingsgate. Lord Rochester had much more delicacy, and more knowledge of mankind. POPE, ALEXANDER, 1728-30, Spence's Anecdotes, ed. Singer, p. 14.

Lord Rochester's poems have much more obscenity than wit, more wit than poetry, more poetry than politeness.WALPOLE, HORACE, 1758, A Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The very name of Rochester is offensive to modest ears; yet does his poetry discover such energy of style and such poignancy, as give ground to imagine what so fine a genius, had he fallen in a more happy age and had followed better models, was capable of producing. The ancient satirists often use great liberties in their expressions; but their freedom no more resembles the licentiousness of Rochester, than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute.---HUME, DAVID, 1762, History of England, James II.

There is an immense strength and pregnancy of expression in some of the best of his compositions, careless and unfinished as they are.-CRAIK, George L., 1861, A Compendious History of English Literature, vol. II, p. 113.


The volumes which continued to be reprinted for nearly a century under the title of Rochester's Poems form a kind of "Parnasse Satyrique" into which a modern reader can scarcely venture to dip. of this notorious collection a large part was spurious; the offensive matter that had to be removed from the writings of Dorset, Buckinghamshire, Butler, and other less famous profligate poets, found an asylum under the infamy of the name of Rochester. But readers who are fortunate enough to secure the volume edited by the dead poet's friends in 1691 will find no more indiscretions than are familiar in all poetry of the Restoration, and will discover, what they will not find elsewhere, the exquisite lyrics on which the fame of Rochester should rest. satires, as trenchant and vigorous as they are foul, are not included in this edition; Poggio and Filelfo had used Latin. . . . he uses the English language in them as With Rochester the power of writing songs died in England until the age of Blake and Burns. He was the last of the cavalier lyrists, and in some respects the best. In the qualities that a song demands, simplicity, brevity, pathos and tenderness, he arrives nearer to pure excellence than any one between Carew and Burns. His style is without adornment, and, save in this one matter of songwriting, he is weighed down by the dryness and inefficiency of his age.— Gosse, EDMUND, 1880, English Poets, ed. Ward, vol. II, pp. 424, 425.

Victims of vanity and lechery are seldom worth regret: but this hapless pupil of the Puritans, hounded as he was by false shame and foolish emulation into such inconceivable eccentricities of literary and personal debauchery, was born for so different a fate and so different a record, had not his evil star intervened to thwart it, that no one who realizes what he might and should have been can ever think of the poet or the man without a thrill or a pang of pity. The gallant young volunteer who distinguished himself even among English sailors and soldiers as the hero of a sea fight drank himself into cowardice, and truckled to a challenger as a Russo-Radical of our own day would tuckle to any enemy who might assist him in the degradation of this country the noble and thoughtful poet

who might have beaten all competitors out of the field became such a rhymester as Plato might have excepted from the sentence of expulsion-surely in other cases a superfluous sentence-pronounced against poets who might find themselves within the limits of a republic from which Platonic love had excluded the superfluous and obsolete influence of woman.--SWINBURNE, ALGERNON CHARLES, 1891, Social Verse, The Forum. vol. 12, p. 177

Rochester had as sprightly a lyric gift as any writer of the Restoration. As a satirist he showed much insight and vigour, and, according to Aubrey, Marvell regarded him as the best satirist of his time. But he was something of a plagiarist. His "Satire against Mankind" owes much to Boileau, and to Cowley his lyrics were often deeply indebted.—LEE, SIDNEY, 1900, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. LXII, p. 66.

Sir Thomas Browne


Born, in London, 19 Oct. 1605. Educated at Winchester Coll., as Scholar, 161623. To Broadgate Hall (now Pembroke Coll.), Oxford, 1623; B. A., 31 June 1626; M. A., 11 June 1629. Practised medicine for a short time. Tour in Ireland, France Italy, Holland. Returned to practice near Halifax, "Religio Medici" probably written 1635. To Norwich, 1637. M. D., Oxford, 10 July 1637. Married Dorothy Mileham, 1641. "Religio Medici" privately published, 1642. Sided with Royalists in Civil Wars. Hon. Fellow of Coll. of Physicians, 6 July 1665. Knighted, on State visit of Charles II. to Norwich, 28 Sept. 1671. Died, 19 Oct. 1682; buried at Norwich. Works: "Religio Medici," privately printed, 1642; authorized version, 1643; "Pseudodoxia Epidemica," 1646; "Hydriotaphia, 1658. Posthumous: "Certain Miscellany Tracts," 1684; "Works," 1686; "Posthumous Works," 1712; "Christian Morals, 1716. Collected Works: including Life and Correspondence, ed. by S. Wilkin (4 vols.), 1835-36.-SHARP, R. FARQUHARSON, 1897, A Dictionary of English Authors, p. 33.


M. S.











OBIIT OCTOBR. 19, 1682.



For a character of his person, his complexion and hair was answerable to his name, his stature was moderate, and habit of body neither fat nor lean but evoápkoc. In his habit of clothing, he had an aversion to all finery, and affected plainness, both in the fashion and ornaments. He ever wore a cloke, or boots, when few others did. He kept himself always very warm, and thought it most safe so to do, though he never loaded himself with such a multitude of garments, as Suctonius reports of Augustus, enough to clothe a good family. His memory,

though not so eminent as that of Seneca or Scaliger, was capacious and tenacious, insomuch as he remembered all that was remarkable in any book that he had read; and not only knew all persons again that he had ever seen at any distance of time, but remembered the circumstances of their bodies, and their particular discourses and speeches. . . . He was never seen to be transported with mirth, or dejected with sadness; always cheerful, but rarely merry, at any sensible rate,

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