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: Allow me to be frank at the commencement. You will not like me. The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled. You will not like me now and you will like me a good deal less as we go on. Ladies, an announcement: I am up for it, all the time. That is not a boast or an opinion, it is bone hard medical fact. I put it round you know. And you will watch me putting it round and sigh for it. Don't. It is a deal of trouble for you and you are better off watching and drawing your conclusions from a distance than you would be if I got my tarse up your petticoats. Gentlemen. Do not despair, I am up for that as well. And the same warning applies. Still your cheesy erections till I have had my say. But later when you shag - and later you will shag, I shall expect it of you and I will know if you have let me down - I wish you to shag with my homuncular image rattling in your gonads. Feel how it was for me, how it is for me and ponder. 'Was that shudder the same shudder he sensed? Did he know something more profound? Or is there some wall of wretchedness that we all batter with our heads at that shining, livelong moment. That is it. That is my prologue, nothing in rhyme, no protestations of modesty, you were not expecting that I hope. I am John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester and I do not want you to like me.
: That would not be appropriate for a man of breeding.
[Throws food at his mother
: How old are you, Mr Downs? Billy Downs
: Eighteen, my lord. Rochester
: Young man, you will die of this company. Do not laugh, I'm serious.
: And yet you do not draw the moral of the incident. Billy Downs
: Which is? Rochester
: That any experiment of interest in life will be carried out at your own expense. Mark it well.
: This is your first season on the London stage? Elizabeth Barry
: It is, my lord. Rochester
: Mrs. Barry, you must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: The stupid and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years time. The envious, never.
: If you had ever loved a man, you would say that speech with regret because you would fear the loss of him. Elizabeth Barry
: And supposing I have loved? Rochester
: Then show me in the speech.
: I am come to train you... in your acting. Elizabeth Barry
: So you said when we first met, but your reputation being what it is, I thought you meant something different. Rochester
: I have, I hope, many reputations.
: Ah, to die onstage at the hands of a beautiful woman. Elizabeth Barry
: I am no such!
: When I wake in the country, I dream of being in London. When I get here, it's full of people like you.
: Well freeze my piss if the royal finger ain't beckoning me. How exciting.
: I don't mean to upset people, but I must speak my mind. For what's in my mind is far more interesting than what's outside my mind. Alcock
: Makes you impossible to live with, though. You see? Rochester
: Did I once praise you for your blunt manner? Alcock
: It was your reason for employing me. Rochester
: It could as easy be your grounds for dismissal.
: [of his play
] The entire piece has been devised with the French in mind. In France, fornication in the streets with total strangers is *compulsory*.
: I love London. Everyone catches its generous spirit so quickly.
: "And wit was his vain frivolous pretence of pleasing others, at his own expense."
: You are one of life's understudies!
: [calls to him onstage
] My lord! Rochester
: I asked for no interruption. Harris
: My suit is one of the utmost urgency: the stage direction at the end of this scene requires, in my opinion, some authorial exposition. Rochester
: It seems straightforward enough. Harris
: Yes, um,
[reading from the script
: "Then dance six naked men and women, the men doing obedience to the women's cunts, kissing and touching them often, the women in like manner to the men's pricks, kissing and dandling their cods and then fall to fucking, after which the women sigh and the men look simple and so sneak off." The end of the second act. Rochester
: A strong scene, an eminently playable scene, and though I say it myself, a climactic one. Harris
: And w-will the kind of equipment that that young lady has in her hand
[a large wooden dildo
: be available for gentlemen for... strapping around the middle for the execution of this scene? Rochester
: I had not envisioned you to be so encumbered; I feel this scene should be given... in the flesh. Harris
: And will we give... two performances on the day? Rochester
: No, Mr. Harris. Harris
] I am glad to hear that from the author. Rochester
: With the dress rehearsal, the court performance and the public showing, I envisage three. Harris
: Right; I don't know if you've met my regular understudy, Mr. Lightman, he's a most dependable fellow. Rochester
: Sir, you have the honour of playing *my* understudy. Harris
] Well, I shall take this opportunity to withdraw from the engagement.
: [calls after him angrily
] You are one of *life's* understudies!
: I wish to be moved. I cannot feel in life. I must have others do it for me in theater.
: [to Billy Downs
] I told you.
King Charles II
: Johnny, you finally did something for me. Rochester
: I didn't do it for you, I did it for me.
: But life is not a succession of urgent "nows". It's a listless trickle of "why should I's".
: I shall never forgive you for teaching me how to love life.
: So here he lies at the last. The deathbed convert. The pious debauchee. Could not dance a half measure, could I? Give me wine, I drain the dregs and toss the empty bottle at the world. Show me our Lord Jesus in agony and I mount the cross and steal his nails for my own palms. There I go, shuffling from the world. My dribble fresh upon the bible. I look upon a pinhead and I see angels dancing. Well? Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Do you like me... now?
: Ink! Ink! Bring me ink!
[Alcock brings him wine
: Not drink, lump! Ink!
King Charles II
: I handed you a chance to show your shining talent and what do you give me in return? A pornographic representation of a royal court where the men only deal in buggery and the women's sole object of interest is the dildo! Rochester
: A monument to your reign!
] Anyone can drink. Rochester
: Not many can match my determination.
: I never wanted you for a mistress, Lizzy. I wanted you for my wife.
: Did you miss me? Jane
: I missed the money. Rochester
: Good. I don't like a whore with sentiment.
: If god wants men to have faith, why does he not make us more disposed to believe? Priest
: Most men are so disposed. Rochester
: But not me.
: Oh, written a new play has he? All those afternoons pretending to slope of and roger his mistress, like a decent chap, he was lurking in his rooms poking away at a play. That is disgusting, George.
: Give you your first London spurt of the summer. Rochester
: I brought the wife with me. Jane
: Bit of a waste shooting good jism up the lawful.
King Charles II
: Give me a major work of literature and I'll give you 500 guineas. Rochester
: When would you like it? Friday?
: What is your name? Alcock
: Alcock. George Etherege
: Like master, like servant.
: I am nature. you are art. Let us see how we compare.
: This fellow is my servant. He has just filched two shillings from my coat pocket. Rochester
: A thief and a rogue. Nobleman
: My lord, you express it. Rochester
: Haven't quite got the hang of the reign yet, have you? Nobleman
: I will not employ a thief. Rochester
: Then I will.
: How much was your master paying you? Alcock
: Six shillings a week, sir. Rochester
: [Swinging back to the nobleman
] Who talks of thieving?
: The theatre is my drug, and my illness is so far advanced that my physic must be of the highest quality.
: There is spirit in her. Jane
: When a gent sees the spirit, and not the eyes or the tits, then a gent is in trouble.
King Charles II
: I can't get money out of Louis unless I dissolve Parliament, and I can't get money out of Parliament unless I fight Louis. Rochester
: Well, choose. King Charles II
: I need money from both of them.
: All men would be cowards if they only had the courage.
King Charles II
: Your father spirited me out of England when my life was at stake, so I looked after him and after you. Rochester
: You put me in the Tower. King Charles II
: And I let you out. The time has come for you to pay your dues. People listen to you, Johnny. If you took your seat in the Lords, you could make great speeches that would influence events. Anyone can oppose, it's fun to be against things, but there comes a time when you have to start being for things as well.
: You abducted me in a coach like this when I was still a virgin heiress. Rochester
: And did you like abduction? Elizabeth Malet
: Is the fault mine? If I were a better wife would you not need the whorehouse and the inn? Rochester
: Every man needs the whorehouse and the inn.
: I wish to be moved. I cannot feel in life. I must have others do it for me here in the theatre. Elizabeth Barry
: You are spoken of as a man with a stomach for life. Rochester
: I am the cynic of our golden age. This bounteous dish, which our great Charles and our great God have more or less in equal measure placed before us, sets my teeth permanently on edge. Life has no purpose. It is everywhere undone by arbitrariness. I do this and it matters not a jot if I do the opposite. But in the playhouse every action, good or bad, has it's consequences. Drop a handkerchief and it will return to smother you. The theatre is my drug. And my illness is so far advanced that my physic must be of the highest quality. Elizabeth Barry
: My lord, on these conditions, I endeavour to do what you want.
: My lord, Alice Twoumy has sent word. Her child is sick and she shan't come. Rochester
: What was to be her role? Molly Luscombe
: She was playing "Little Clitoris." Rochester
: Of course. Alcock! This is your moment. You will stand in for her. Alcock
: No, my lord. Rochester
: I beg your pardon? Alcock
: I'm Alcock. "Little Clitoris" is beyond my range.