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John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, was famous at the 17th century English court for his drunkenness, witty conversation, and extravagant behavior as part of a "Merry Gang" (as Andrew Marvell called them) of aristocrats and playwrights.
He had very early an inclination to intemperance ... when he became a courtier, he unhappily
addicted himself to dissolute and vitious [sic] company, by which his principles were
corrupted, and his manners depraved. He lost all sense of religious restraint; and, finding it
not convenient to admit the authority of laws which he was resolved not to obey, sheltered his
wickedness behind infidelity.
... As he excelled in that noisy and licentious merriment which wine incites, his
company eagerly encouraged him in excess, and he willingly indulged it; till, as he confessed
to Dr. Burnet, he was for five years together continually drunk, or so much inflamed by
frequent ebriety [sic], as in no interval to be master of himself.
... In this state he played many frolicks, which it is not for his honour that we should
remember ... He often pursued low amours in mean disguises, and always acted with great
exactness and dexterity the characters which he assumed. ...
Thus in a course of drunken gaiety, and gross sensuality, with intervals of study
perhaps yet more criminal, with an avowed contempt of all decency and order, total disregard
to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious obligation, he lived worthless and
useless and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness; till, at the age of one
and thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, and reduced himself to a state of weakness and
decay. (Dr Samuel Johnson, Lives of the Poets)
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