A Ramble in St. James’s Park

By John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Wilmot
Wilmot

In the summer of 1982 I worked the night shift at Gonzaga Law Library with my friend Bridget, who was a fellow 21-something kid, and a sweet funny 40-something law student named John. We looked up Wilmot’s works when we discovered that he was quoted under every dirty word in the “Oxford English Dictionary”—all three of us were kids!

Wilmot was the subject of a Johnny Depp movie called “The Libertine,” that depicts him, at the age of 33, arguing in favor of King Charles II in the House of Lords during the Exclusion Act crisis. That was around 1680, the year in which he published this book anonymously in Antwerp, and incidentally, the year of his death. The movie shows him speaking in the House of Lords, so hideously disfigured from syphilis that he had to appear in a mask. 

King-Charles-II
Charles II

This piece and “The Imperfect Enjoyment” are his most blatantly erotic. In one, he rails against his penis for being “a common fucking post, / On whom each whore relieves her tingling cunt, / As hogs on gates do rub themselves and grunt,” while going limp the one time he actually falls in in love. The “Ramble” on the other hand is a diatribe against the woman he loves for spurning him, in which he swears an oath, “The Jesuit’s Fraternity shall leave the use of buggery … e’re I desist with all my power to plague this woman and undo her.” That made me feel kind of naughty pulling it off the bookshelf at a Jesuit library!

ornamental-divider

Much wine had paſt, with grave diſcourſe
Of who Fucks who, and who does worſe,
Such as you uſually do hear
From thoſe that diet at the Bear,
When I, who ſtill take care to ſee
Drunkenneſs reliev’d by Lechery,
Went out into St. James’s Park
To coole my head, and fire my heart.
But tho’ St. James has th’ honor on ’t,
’Tis conſecrate to Prick and Cunt.
There, by a moſt inceſtuous Birth,
Strange Woods ſpring from the teeming Earth;
For they relate how heretofore,
When antient Pict began to whore,
Deluded of his Aſſignation
(Jilting it ſeems was then in faſhion),
Poor penſive Lover, in this place
Would frigg upon his Mothers face,
Whence Rowes of Mandrakes tall did riſe
Whoſe lewd Tops Fuck’d the very Skies.
Each imitative branch does twine
In ſome Lov’d fold of Aretine,
And nightly now beneath their ſhade
Are Bugg’ries, Rapes, and Inceſts made.
Unto this all-ſin-ſheltering Grove
Whores of the Bulk, and the Alcove,
Great Ladies, Chamber Mayds, and Drudges;
The Rag-picker, and Heireſſe trudges.
Car-men, Divines, great Lords, and Taylors,
Prentices, Pimps, Poets and Gaolers;
Foot-Men, fine Fops, do here arrive,
And here promiſcuouſly they swive.
Along these hallow’d Walks it was
That I beheld Corinna paſs.
Who ever had been by to ſee
The proud diſdain ſhe caſt on me
Through charming Eyes, he would have ſwore
She drapt from Heav’n that very hour,
Forſakeing the Divine abode
In ſcorn of ſome deſpaireing God.
But mark what Creatures Women are:
How infinitely vile, and fair:
Three Knights o’ th’ Elbow, and the ſlurr,
With wrigling Tails made up to her.
The firſt was of your Whitehall Blades
Near kin t’ th’ Mother of the Maids,
Grac’d by whoſe favor he was able
To bring a Friend to th’ Waiters’ Table,
Where he had heard Sir Edward Sutton
Say how the King loved Banſtead Mutton;
Since when he’d ne’er be brought to eat
By’s good will any other meat.
In this, as well as all the reſt,
He ventures to do like the beſt.
But wanting common Sence, th’ingredient
In chooſeing well, not leaſt expedient,
Converts Abortive imitation
To Univerſal affectation.
So he not only eats and talks,
But feels and ſmells, ſits down and walks,
Nay looks, and lives, and loves by Rote,
In an old tawdrey Birth-Day-Coat.
The Second was a Grays Inn Wit,
A great Inhabiter of the Pit,
Where Critick-like, he ſits and ſquints,
Steals Pocket-Handkerchiefs, and hints,
From ’s Neighbour, and the Comedy,
To Court and pay his Landlady.
The Third, a Ladies Eldeſt Son,
Within few years of Twenty One,
Who hopes from his propitious Fate,
Againſt he comes to his Eſtate,
By theſe Two Worthies to be made
A moſt accompliſht tearing Blade.
One in a ſtrain ’twixt Tune and Nonſenſe,
Cries Madam, I have lov’d you long ſince,
Permitt me your fair hand to kiſs.

When at her Mouth her Cunt says yes.
In ſhort, without much more ado,
Joyful and pleas’d away ſhe flew,
And with theſe Three confounded Aſſes
From Park to Hackney Coach ſhe paſſes.
So a proud Bitch does lead about
Of Humble Currs the Amorous rout,
Who moſt obſequiouſly do hunt
The ſav’ry ſcence of ſalt-ſwolne Cunt.
Some Pow’r more patient now relate
The ſenſe of this ſurprizing Fate.
Gods ! that a thing admir’d by me
Shou’d taſt ſo much of Infamy.
Had ſhe pickt out, to rub her Arſe on
Some ſtiff-Prickt Clown or well hung Parſon,
Each job of whoſe Spermatique Sluce
Had filled her Cunt with wholeſom Juice,
I the proceeding ſhou’d have praiſ’d
In hope ſhe had quencht a fire I raiſ’d.
Such nat’ral freedoms are but juſt,
There’s ſomething gen’rous in meer Luſt.
But to turn a damn’d abandon’d Jade,
When neither Head nor Tail perſwade;
To be a Whore in underſtanding
A Paſſive Pot for Fools to Shit in.
The Devil play’d booty, ſure with thee,
To bring a blott on infamy.
But why am I of all Mankind,
To ſo ſevere a fate deſigned?
Ungrateful! why this Treachery
To humble, fond, believeing me?
Who gave you Priviledges above
The nice allowances of Love?
Did ever I refuſe to bear
The meaneſt part your Luſt could ſpare?
When your lew’d Cunt came spewing home,
Drench’d with the ſeed of halfe the Town.
My dram of Sperme was ſup’t up after
For the digeſtive Surfeit Water.
Full gorged at another time
With a vaſt Meal of Naſty Slime,
Which your devouring Cunt had drawn
From Porters Backs, and Foot-mens Brawn,
I was content to ſerve you up
My Ballock full for your Grace Cup;
Nor ever thought it an abuſe
While you had pleaſure for excuſe.
You that could make my heart away
For noiſe and Colours, and betray
The Secrets of my tender hours
To such Knight Errant Paramours
When leaning on your faithleſs breaſt,
Wrapt in security and reſt.
Soft kindneſs all my pow’rs did move,
And reaſon lay diſſolv’d in Love.
May ſtinking Vapours choak your Womb
Such as the Men you dote upon.
May your deprav’d Appetite
That cou’d in whiffling Fools delight,
Beget ſuch Frenzies in your Mind
You may go mad for the North-wind.
And fixing all your hopes upon’t
To have him bluſter in your Cunt.
Turn up your longing Arſe to th’ Air,
And periſh in a wild deſpair.
But Cowards ſhall forget to rant,
School-boyes to Frigg, old Whores to Paint;
The Jeſuits Fraternity
Shall leave the uſe of Buggery;
Crab-louſe inſpir’d with Grace divine,
From Earthly Cod to Heav’n ſhall climb;
Physicians ſhall believe in Jeſus,
And diſobedience ceaſe to pleaſe us,
E’re I deſiſt with all my Pow’r
To plague this Woman and undo her.
But my Revenge will beſt be tim’d
When ſhe is Marry’d that is lymd.
In that moſt lamentable State
I’ll make her feel my ſcorn and hate:
Pelt her with Scandals, Truth, or Lies,
And her poor Curr with jealouſies
Till I have torn him from her Breech
While ſhe whines like a Dog-drawn Bitch;
Loath’d, and depriv’d, kickt out of Town
Into ſome dirty hole alone
To chew the Cud of Miſery,
And know ſhe owes it all to Me.
And may no
Woman better thrive,
Who dares prophane the Cunt I Swive.

 

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Notes

See Poems On Several Occasions, By the Right Honourable, the E of R—. Printed at Antwerp, 1680.

The editor was overly fond of italics, and put some kind of punctuation at the end of every line. I’ve tried to keep the italics to People and Places, and have used punctuation and capitalization less ubiquitously, more in line with modern conventions. Otherwise, I tried to present the spelling and typography as much like the 1680 edition as I could. I hope it’s not too much of a distraction. Click the link above to compare.

Here’s a modern English rendition from Ealasaid Haas’s The Earl of Rochester Fan Page if you would rather read it normally:

Much wine had passed, with grave discourse
Of who fucks who, and who does worse
(Such as you usually do hear
From those that diet at the Bear),
When I, who still take care to see
Drunkenness relieved by lechery,
Went out into St. James’s Park
To cool my head and fire my heart.
But though St. James has th’ honor on ‘t,
‘Tis consecrate to prick and cunt.
There, by a most incestuous birth,
Strange woods spring from the teeming earth;
For they relate how heretofore,
When ancient Pict behan to whore,
Deluded of his assignation
(Jilting, it seems, was then in fashion),
Poor pensive lover, in this place
Would frig upon his mother’s face;
Whence rows of mandrakes tall did rise
Whose lewd tops fucked the very skies.
Each imitative branch does twine
In some loved fold of Aretine,
And nightly now beneath their shade
Are buggeries, rapes, and incests made.
Unto this all-sin-sheltering grove
Whores of the bulk and the alcove,
Great ladies, chambermaids, and drudges,
The ragpicker, and heiress trudges.
Carmen, divines, great lords, and tailors,
Prentices, poets, pimps, and jailers,
Footmen, fine fops do here arrive,
And here promiscuously they swive.
Along these hallowed walks it was
That I beheld Corinna pass.
Whoever had been by to see
The proud disdain she cast on me
Through charming eyes, he would have swore
She dropped from heaven that very hour,
Forsaking the divine abode
In scorn of some despairing god.
But mark what creatures women are:
How infinitely vile, when fair!
Three knights o’ the’ elbow and the slur
With wriggling tails made up to her.
The first was of your Whitehall baldes,
Near kin t’ th’ Mother of the Maids;
Graced by whose favor he was able
To bring a friend t’ th’ Waiters’ table,
Where he had heard Sir Edward Sutton
Say how the King loved Banstead mutton;
Since when he’d ne’er be brought to eat
By ‘s good will any other meat.
In this, as well as allthe rest,
He ventures to do like the best,
But wanting common sense, th’ ingredient
In choosing well not least expedient,
Converts abortive imitation
To universal affectation.
Thus he not only eats and talks
But feels and smells, sits down and walks,
Nay looks, and lives, and loves by rote,
In an old tawdry birthday coat.
The second was a Grays Inn wit,
A great inhabiter of the pit,
Where critic-like he sits and squints,
Steals pocket handkerchiefs, and hints
From ‘s neighbor, and the comedy,
To court, and pay, his landlady.
The third, a lady’s eldest son
Within few years of twenty-one
bWho hopes from his propitious fate,
Against he comes to his estate,
By these two worthies to be made
A most accomplished tearing blade.
One, in a strain ‘twixt tune and nonsense,
Cries, “Madam, I have loved you long since.
Permit me your fair hand to kiss”;
When at her mouth her cunt cries, “Yes!”
In short, without much more ado,
Joyful and pleased, away she flew,
And with these three confounded asses
From park to hackney coach she passes.
So a proud bitch does lead about
Of humble curs the amorous rout,
Who most obsequiously do hunt
The savory scent of salt-swoln cunt.
Some power more patient now relate
The sense of this surprising fate.
Gods! that a thing admired by me
Should fall to so much infamy.
Had she picked out, to rub her arse on,
Some stiff-pricked clown or well-hung parson,
Each job of whose spermatic sluice
Had filled her cunt with wholesome juice,
I the proceeding should have praised
In hope sh’ had quenched a fire I raised.
Such natural freedoms are but just:
There’s something generous in mere lust.
But to turn a damned abandoned jade
When neither head nor tail persuade;
To be a whore in understanding,
A passive pot for fools to spend in!
The devil played booty, sure, with thee
To bring a blot on infamy.
But why am I, of all mankind,
To so severe a fate designed?
Ungrateful! Why this treachery
To humble fond, believing me,
Who gave you privilege above
The nice allowances of love?
Did ever I refuse to bear
The meanest part your lust could spare?
When your lewd cunt came spewing home
Drenched with the seed of half the town,
My dram of sperm was supped up after
For the digestive surfeit water.
Full gorged at another time
With a vast meal of slime
Which your devouring cunt had drawn
From porters’ backs and footmen’s brawn,
I was content to serve you up
My ballock-full for your grace cup,
Nor ever thought it an abuse
While you had pleasure for excuse –
You tht could make my heart away
For noise and color, and betray
The secrets of my tender hours
To such knight-errant paramours,
When, leaning on your faithless breast,
Wrapped in security and rest,
Soft kindness all my powers did move,
And reason lay dissolved in love!
May stinking vapors choke your womb
Such as the men you dote upon
May your depraved appetite,
That could in whiffling fools delight,
Beget such frenzies in your mind
You may go mad for the north wind,
And fixing all your hopes upon’t
To have him bluster in your cunt,
Turn up your longing arse t’ th’ air
And perish in a wild despair!
But cowards shall forget to rant,
Schoolboys to frig, old whores to paint;
The Jesuits’ fraternity
Shall leave the use of buggery;
Crab-louse, inspired with grace divine,
From earthly cod to heaven shall climb;
Physicians shall believe in Jesus,
And disobedience cease to please us,
Ere I desist with all my power
To plague this woman and undo her.
But my revenge will best be timed
When she is married that is limed.
In that most lamentable state
I’ll make her feel my scorn and hate:
Pelt her with scandals, truth or lies,
And her poor cur with jealousied,
Till I have torn him from her breech,
While she whines like a dog-drawn bitch;
Loathed and despised, kicked out o’ th’ Town
Into some dirty hole alone,
To chew the cud of misery
And know she owes it all to me.
And may no woman better thrive
That dares prophane the cunt I swive!

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