Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 44
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And the best Kiss, was the deciding Lot,
Whether the Boy us'd you, or I the Boy. ("Maim'd" 1. 33-40)
The poetic persona revels in the "handsome ills by [his] contrivance done" that include attacking
women, demolishing fortresses, burning churches, and engaging in sexual liaisons with "Link-
Boys" ("Maim'd" 1. 33, 34, 36, 38). In fact, he encourages younger men who appear hesitant to
identify as libertines to embrace libertinism before their "Days of impotence approach" (1. 13).
Ian Donaldson argues that the narrator tries to persuade the "younger and seemingly less daring
fellow rakes" by "cheerfully...looking back at the debaucheries of his youth" instead of
regretting his past deeds (Donaldson 33). The poetic persona admits he hopes his reflections of
his experiences "will such heat inspire/As to mischief shall incline" (1. 41-42). He does not try to
dissuade the young men from following their instincts, but he wants to convince them to engage
in base acts-that entails identifying as a libertine. Moreover, the debauchee wants the younger
men to listen to the stories he tells them about his libertine past. The debauchee hopes that these
stories will enable the libertines to conquer their fears of emulating instinctual, libertine behavior
and take pride in themselves for engaging in it.
However, as elsewhere in Rochester, in his identifying as a libertine, the poetic persona
does not denounce living according to reason. Instead, he reconciles libertinism and reason by
embracing both ideas. When the debauchee finishes listing the types of stories he will tell, he
announces the following:
With Tales like these, I will such heat inspire,
As to important mischief shall incline.
I'll make them long some Antient Church to fire,
And fear no lewdness the're called to by Wine.
Thus States-man-like, I'll sawcily impose,
And safe from danger Valiantly advise,
Shelter 'd in impotence, urge you to blows,
And being good for nothing else, be wise. ("Maim'd" 1. 41-48, my emphasis)
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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/m1/50/?q=rochester: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .