Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 87
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must frequently change its definition so that it applies to them regardless of any changes
libertines make to their specific agendas.
The Gould Episode
Contrary to Rochester's poetic persona, Boswell's indecision about whether he should
obey libertinism or virtue is evident in his lecture to Gould about temperance. Boswell records
in his journal:
The Colonel had been debauching the night before and was in bed, but Mrs. Gould
insisted that I should eat a family dinner with her and the children, which I did very
happily. Miss Fanny [age seven] and I are now very good friends. "I am sure," said she,
"Sir, if I like any man, I like you." She sat on the same chair with me after dinner and
sung and read very prettily. About six, Mr. Gould came down to us. I gave him a genteel
lecture on the advantage of temperance, and made him to acknowledge that the pain of
rioting much exceeded the pleasure. He was heavy, but I was lightsome and entertaining,
and relieved him. I drank tea and sat the evening, gay and happy, just in the way I could
Though Boswell drinks excessively and engages in promiscuity, he reprimands Gould for
"debauching the night before" and staying in bed instead of joining his wife and children at
dinner (83). In this scene Bell describes Boswell as "substitute father at a 'family dinner'" (Bell
139). However, Boswell entertains the family in the role of a close friend who received an
impromptu invitation to an informal family dinner. Boswell gives Gould a "genteel lecture on
the advantage of temperance" in which he related to him that the "pain of rioting much exceeded
the pleasure" not because he wants to serve as a paternal figure to Gould's children or a possible
substitute husband to Mrs. Gould (Boswell 83). Instead, Boswell admonishes Gould for failing
to exercise temperance and virtue because he often falls short of exercising these traits himself.
In fact, Boswell seems to be the appropriate person from whom to learn the positives and
negatives of debauchery, drunkenness, and living to excess-all components of libertinism. He
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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/m1/93/?q=rochester: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .