“He never said a foolish thing nor never did a wise one”
On July 26th in 1680, the Second Earl of Rochester and perhaps the most debauched libertine poet to ever live, died of syphilis at the age of 33. That “debauched” man was John Wilmot.
Horace Walpole once described him as “a man whom the muses were fond to inspire but ashamed to avow”. We would have to agree.
Wilmot, who was a friend of King Charles II and infamous across London during the Restoration period, was a satirist, poet, playwright and notorious libertine. His work was greatly influenced by classical authors, such as Lucretius and Ovid, and it is evident that he was highly educated as he alludes to politics, literature and philosophy in his bawdy and often offensive rhymes.
Our favorite work by Wilmot is undoubtedly Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery, published in 1684. We’ll not disclose the particulars of this play here… but we encourage any lovers of erotic literature to give it a read. Unfortunately, many of Wilmot’s writings were burned and otherwise destroyed after his death, in an effort to “preserve his decency”. What was not destroyed, was not published under his name until well after his death, but his influence on popular culture is clear. Authors such as Tennyson, Goethe , Defoe and Voltaire often complimented Wilmot’s work or quoted him in their own writings.
Today, we encourage our readers who are of legal age, to rent “The Libertine” starring Johnny Depp and disappear into 17th century England for awhile… (Stern Warning: If you watch this movie, you will end up snogging whoever you happen to be sitting next to while watching it)
Write (and shag) on in peace, Mr. Wilmot!
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