Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 90
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refers to her as "the adorable Louisa" and describes their copulation in solely sexual terms. For
example, he writes of the night on which they consummated their relationship, "The bells of St.
Bride's church rung their merry chimes hard by. I said that the bells in Cupid's court would be
this night set a-ringing for joy at our union" (Boswell 116, 138). Before the consummation of
his relationship with Louisa, Boswell manages to remain celibate and does not attempt to or even
want to woo any other women. He praises himself for his celibacy and reports, "Sobriety had
preserved me from effeminacy and weakness, and my bounding blood beat quick and high
alarms" (139). Boswell praises himself and justifies ending his celibacy with the fact that it not
only improved his health and his expertise as a lover, but heightened his enjoyment of sex with
Louisa as well.
However, the motivations behind Boswell's celibacy are questionable in that he abstains
from sex temporarily-only until Louisa quits refusing his advances and agrees to have sex with
him. Boswell's decision makes him appear to behave like a conventional libertine-that is, the
choice and the motivations behind it seemingly make him a typical libertine. However, the
choice itself is indicative of Boswell creating yet another version of libertinism; in other words,
unlike Boswell, a more stereotypical libertine would fabricate events and make excuses and
arguments persuading a woman to consummate an affair, but he would not go so far as to abstain
from sex or practice monogamy.
Once Boswell finds himself ill and confined to bed, however, he thinks about virtue and
exhibits resentment towards Louisa's (alleged lack of) virtue. It is only until he confirms that
Louisa infected him with gonorrhea that he describes her as "a most consummate dissembling
whore" (Boswell 160). Unlike Rochester's narrator, he decides to live according to virtue--and
to meet a "virtuous woman"--only when his libertinism results in sickness, inconvenience, or
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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/m1/96/?q=rochester: accessed February 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .