John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 1647–80
Rochester’s short life had many sides. After Oxford and a continental tour, he abducted an heiress and fought the Dutch. He was famous at the court of Charles II as both rake and writer of lyric and satiric poetry: the frankness of his language and honesty of attitude led to a reputation as pornographer. He died a quiet religious death. Rochester’s satires and classical imitations are early examples of the pointed, lucid ‘Augustan’ manner. His sceptical scrutiny of human behaviour has much in common with contemporary philosophy, or the cynicism of the comic drama patronised by the court.
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