Odd Saint: John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Dear Carla Fran,

Bravo to Jean-Baptiste! I nominate his English counterpart, one of the oldest Firecrackers, John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, for Odd Sainthood.


His dates: 1647-1680. The libertine non-pareil, he had sexual congress with everything that moved, and wrote about it too. He advanced the discourse with gems like the following:

Nor shall our love-fits, Cloris, be forgot

When each the well-looked link-boy strove t’enjoy,

And the best kiss was the deciding lot:

Whether the boy fucked you, or I the boy.

A Restoration antihero and a Firecrackery force in Charles II’s court, he circulated his poems among friends, publishing occasionally. One of the more famous ones described public trysts in St. James’ Park. Interesting, for our purposes, is his habit of likening wit to a quickie with a whore–delight, followed by fear of VD. This despite his fame as an extraordinary wit himself:

Women and men of wit are dangerous tools,

And ever fatal to admiring fools:

Pleasure allures, and when the fops escape

‘Tis not that they’re beloved, but fortunate,

And therefore what they fear, at heart they hate.

Curiously, he married an exceptionally witty woman, Elizabeth Malet, whom he actually tried to abduct a few years before marrying her. Had mistresses galore (and misters too).

He took a casual view of sex–might be best described as pan-sexual, in fact–and discussed things like impotence, erectile dysfunction and sex toys with iambic vulgarity:

Her father gave her dildoes six;

Her mother made ’em up to a score;

But she loved nought but living pricks,

And swears by God she’ll frig no more.

Died at 33–the same age as Christ–of syphilis, alcoholism and other venereal diseases.

I think he makes a valuable addition to our pantheon. Fittingly, he’s played by Johnny Depp in a 2005 film called The Libertine.




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