ROBERT SHIELS, from ‘Mr. Cibber’s’ Life of Rochester 1753
It is an observation founded on experience, that the poets have, of all other men, been most addicted to the gratifications of appetite, and have pursued pleasure with more unwearied application than men of other characters. In this respect they are indeed unhappy, and have ever been more subject to pity than envy. A violent love of pleasure, if it does not destroy, yet, in a great measure, enervates all other good qualities with which a man may be endowed; and as no men have ever enjoyed higher parts from nature, than the poets, so few, from this unhappy attachment to pleasure, have effected so little good by those amazing powers. Of the truth of this observation, the nobleman, whose memoirs we are now to present to the reader, is a strong and indelible instance, for few ever had more ability, and more frequent opportunities, for promoting the interests of society, and none ever prostituted the gifts of Heaven to a more inglorious purpose. Lord Rochester was not more remarkable for the superiority of his parts, than the extraordinary debauchery of his life, and with his dissipations of pleasure, he suffered sometimes malevolent principles to govern him, and was equally odious for malice and envy, as for the boundless gratifications of his appetites.