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IN T H B
AND DE A
JOHN Earl of Roch
Written by his own Direction on his Deat]
By GILBERT BURNET,
Bishop of S.A L I S B U R. Y.
W I T H A •
S E R M O N,'
Preached, at the Funeral of the said E
To this Edition is prefixed
Some Account of the Life and Wr
By Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSO
The Account of Bumet's salutary Conferences (with Rochester^
Printed for T. DA VIES, Russel-st
Co VE N T-G A R D E N.
USHOP BURNET's Narrative of the most remarkable Passages in the Life of the celebrated John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, has ever been greatly valued, not only as an elegant composition, but as a lesson of instruction to mankind.
A young nobleman, conversant in a most licentious court, whence regularity of behaviour and found.Morality were banished for the more tempting allurements of vicious pleasures.and sensual gratifications! Was unhappily drawn into the commission of the most unjustifiable and profligate actions. A fit of sickness roused him into a sense of his abandoned course of life; he called for the assistance of an eminent divine, to whom he trusted his most secret actions; and, with all the candour of conviction and the sincerity of penitence, earnestly requested him, on his death-bed, to communicate them freely and undifgaised to the world. Burnet has faithfully fulfilled the intentions of his penitent; but, at the fame time, hsbVelaied the best as well as the worst part of lord Rochester's life.
The very high encomium bestowed upon this book by Dr. Samuel Johnson, the greatest name in literature, in his Lives of the English Poets, has induced the bookseller to reprint it, with the addition of the fame great author's Account of the Life and Writings of the Ear) of Rochester.
The following Account of the Ea*f of ROCHESTER'S Life and Waitings is taken- from Dr. Johkson's Preface CO the Works of that Nobleman.
JOHN W1LMOT, afterwards earl of Rochester, the son of Henry earl of Rochester, better knOWre by the title' of lord Wilniot, was born, April set, 1647, at? BkeMiey in Oxfordshire. After a grammatical education at the sehool of Biirford, he entered a nobleman into Wadham-college in 1659, only twelve years old; and, in 1661, at fourteen, was, with some other persons of high rank, made master of arts by lord'Clarendon in person.
He travelled- afterwards into France and Italy; and* at his return, devoted himself to a court. lit *665.hewenttotfeajwkh Sandwich, and disKnguished himself at Bergen by uncommon- intrepidity; and the next summer served again on-board sir Edward Spragge,. who* in die heat of the engagement, ha» ving a nreslage of reproof to send: to one of his captains', could find no man ready to carry it but "Vf if mot, who, in an open boat, went and returned amidst the storm of shot.
f A 2 But
But his reputation for bravery was not lasting: he was reproached with slinking away in street-quarrels, and leaving his companions to shift as they could without him.
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 fense 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.
As he excelled in that noisy and licentious merriment which wine incites, his companions eagerly encouraged him in excess, and he willingly indulged it; till, as 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.
In this state he played many frolics, which it is not for his honour that we should remember, and which are not now distinctly known. He often pursued low amours in mean disguises, and always acted with great exactness and dexterity the characters which he assumed.
He once erected a stage on Tower-hill, and harangued the populace as a mountebank; and, having made physic part of his study, is said to have practised it successfully.
He was so much in favour with king Charles, that he was made one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber and comptroller of Woodstock-park.
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. Sometimes he retired into the country, and amused himself with writing libels, in which he did not pretend to confine himself to truth.
His favourite author in French was Boileau, andin English Cowley.
Thus, in a course of drunken gaiety and gross sensuality, with intervals of study perhaps yet morecriminal, 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 one and thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and decay. •