chapter  45
2 Pages

HORACE WALPOLE disapproves 1758

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester; A man, whom the Muses were fond to inspire, and ashamed to avow, and who practised without the least reserve that secret which can make verses more read for their defects than for their merits. The art is neither commendable nor difficult. Moralists proclaim loudly that there is no wit in indecency: It is very true: Indecency is far from conferring wit; but it does not destroy it neither. Lord Rochester’s poems have much more obscenity than wit, more wit than poetry, more poetry than politeness. One is amazed at hearing the age of Charles the Second called polite: Because the Presbyterians and Religionists had affected to call every thing by a Scripture-name, the new Court affected to call every thing by it’s own name. That Court had no pretensions to politeness but by it’s resemblance to another age, which called it’s own grossness polite, the age of Aristophanes. Would a Scythian have been civilized by the Athenian stage, or a Hottentot by the Drawing room of Charles the Second? The Characters and anecdotes being forgot, the State-poems of that time are a heap of senseless ribaldry, scarcely in rhime, and more seldom in metre. When Satyrs were brought to Court, no wonder the Graces would not trust themselves there.