Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 39
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regret for following instincts and defying authority. According to Chernaik, "such works as the
Satyr Against Mankind contrast sense or instinct with the faculty of discursive reason, presented
as unreliable, unduly restrictive and destructive in its effects" (Chernaik 26). Right reason, then,
is not an enemy to libertines or to mankind in general, but the abuse of reason-or what
Chernaik identifies as "discursive reason"-destroys mankind and causes them to deny their
natural impulses (26).
The narrator, however, does not limit his obedience and loyalty solely to following
instinct and libertinism, but succeeds at simultaneously following right reason. When he makes
these attacks against reason, he targets a specific type of reason. He argues the following:
Our sphere of action is life's happiness
And he who thinks beyond, thinks like an ass
Thus, whilst against false reas'ning I inveigh,
I own right reason, which I would obey:
That reason which distinguishes by sense
And gives us rules of good and ill from thence,
That bounds desires with a reforming will
To keep 'em more in vigor, not to kill. (1. 96-103, my emphasis)
It is notable that Rochester makes a differentiation between reason "which distinguishes by
sense" and "false reas'ning" because it establishes the narrator as an authentic Hobbesian
libertine who lives according to libertinism and right reason (Satyr 1. 98, 100). According to
Hobbes, any society in which men are motivated solely by self-interest inevitably leads to a state
of war "where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men
live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish
them withal" (Hobbes 62). This "state of war" inevitably results in a life that is "solitary, poor,
nasty, brutish, and short" (62). Carole Fabricant characterizes the reason advocated by
Rochester's narrator as "specifically the ally of the senses, renewing appetites rather than
destroying them and intensifying instead of denying worldly pleasures" (19). Fabricant's
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/45/?q=rochester: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .