A Satyr on Charles II – Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.1)

This is the first instalment in what I hope will be a regular feature of this blog: Pursuit of Poesy Friday

These posts will do two things. Firstly, they’ll link to posts on my brand spanking new other blog “Scribbled Poetry”. Secondly, they’ll feature a poem of historical interest, or a poem from history, or just a poem.

What is “Scribbled Poetry”? Well click on the picture below to find out:

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So, to the historical poesy. As I’m going to feature Charles II a great deal this year I’ll start with a poem concerning the Merry Monarch himself, from the pen of the indomitable Earl of Rochester. Some of you will know of the noble Earl well, if not I highly recommend this post at Fragments.

(beware this one is not for the easily offended):

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A Satyr on Charles II

I’ th’ isle of Britain, long since famous grown

For breeding the best cunts in Christendom,

There reigns, and oh! long may he reign and thrive,

The easiest King and best-bred man alive.

Him no ambition moves to get renown

Like the French fool, that wanders up and down

Starving his people, hazarding his crown.

Peace is his aim, his gentleness is such,

And love he loves, for he loves fucking much.

—Nor are his high desires above his strength:

His scepter and his prick are of a length;

And she may sway the one who plays with th’ other,

And make him little wiser than his brother.

Poor prince! thy prick, like thy buffoons at Court,

Will govern thee because it makes thee sport.

‘Tis sure the sauciest prick that e’er did swive,

The proudest, peremptoriest prick alive.

Though safety, law, religion, life lay on ‘t,

‘Twould break through all to make its way to cunt.

Restless he rolls about from whore to whore,

A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.

—To Carwell, the most dear of all his dears,

The best relief of his declining years,

Oft he bewails his fortune, and her fate:

To love so well, and be beloved so late.

For though in her he settles well his tarse,

Yet his dull, graceless ballocks hang an arse.

This you’d believe, had I but time to tell ye

The pains it costs to poor, laborious Nelly,

Whilst she employs hands, fingers, mouth, and thighs,

Ere she can raise the member she enjoys.

—All monarchs I hate, and the thrones they sit on,

—From the hector of France to the cully of Britain.

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The anecdote goes that Rochester accidentely handed this poem to the king one day, and had to flee court to avoid the king’s wrath. Amusingly, this was not the first occasion that Rochester had bated the King through verse.  Rochester pinned this verse to a door in Whitehall for Charles to see:

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We have a pritty witty King

And whose word no man relys on:

He never said a foolish thing,

And never did a wise one.

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Charles rejoinded in typically witty fashion:

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This is very true: for my words are my own, and my actions are my ministers

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These last two quotes taken from ‘A Gambling Man by Jenny Uglow’

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4 thoughts on “A Satyr on Charles II – Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.1)

  1. Dainty Ballerina

    Ah, John Wilmot. What a wit. Thanks for a great post, and further insights into one of England’s wackiest poets. His prick obsession borders on the unhealthy, but then again he did die of the pox. Brilliant stuff, as always

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      As opposed to prick obsession being unhealthy, it relates to masculine sexual appetites that still exist today. Rochester mocks a King, and indeed a country that is debauched. Masculine appetites are ruling the country, from highest to lowest in society. This collapse is reduced to the lowest common denominator of sexual pursuit as an effeminising force in the Restoration period.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Rochester’s Cock – The Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.3) « The Gentleman Administrator

  3. Cathleen Stuart

    According to the MOST correct book in history the line is “Him no ambition moves to seek renown” not “get” which wasn’t used in this way in that period.

    Sceptre not scepter

    “and she that plays with one may sway the other” not “And she may sway the one who plays with th’ other”

    2 lines are missing after “wiser than his brother” which is;
    “I hate all monarchs and the thrones they sit on, from the hector of France to the cully of Britain” onto
    “poor Prince, thy prick like thy buffoons at court, it governs thee because it makes thee sport, tis sure the proudest…… ”

    “The sure relief of his declining years” not “best relief”

    “for WHEN in her he settles well his tarse”

    The above is the widely distributed “on line” version which is incorrect. My uncle who is an historian but specifically specialises in poets of the 1500’s to 1900’s got me the most correct book, I have researched Lord Rochester for years now :)

    Reply

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