A “Fantastic Mind” and a “Fix’d Heart”

Rochester and the Disciplining of the Mind
  • Anthony J. Funari


In the dedicatory epistle to John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester in Love in the Dark (1675), Francis Fane praises the earl for his intellectual prowess that so properly balances “judgment and fancy” in the “highest degree that ever was allow’d the Soul of Man.”1 Fane’s acclamation of Rochester goes on to distinguish him as one of the lights of knowledge for their time, placing him on par with Bacon: “What was favorably said of my Lord Bacon in his time, may much more justly be affirmed of your Lordship, in yours; that if ever there were a beam of Knowledge, immediately deriv’d from God, upon any Man, since Creation, there is one upon yourself.”2 Part of what may be interpreted from the comparison Fane offers is the venerable position Bacon came to hold for the intelligentsia during the Restoration. With the formation of such scientific organizations as the Oxford Experimental Philosophy Club and later the Royal Society, Baconianism formed the foundation of the prevailing intellectual tenor during both the Interregnum and the Restoration. Although he did not produce the scientific treatises that Bacon did, Rochester’s conversations with Fane must have left such an impression as to suggest his more than passing familiarity with the tenets of Baconianism: Fane cites the “charming and instructive conversations” with Rochester as having “improv’d” him “in all those Sciences that ever I coveted knowledge of.”3


Formal Band Epistemological Position Scientific Mind Instructive Conversation Closing Line 
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© Anthony J. Funari 2011

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  • Anthony J. Funari

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