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JOFIN Y:1NI:RUGli S THE RE L.dPSE:
A STLIDY OF ITS ?,11'. NING
.1.iMI.W 'E .i Eilli !111 )
When one at last reaches the point where nothing
more remains to be done on a dissertation but to express
one's gratitude to those whjo helped it along the way,
words have been just about exhausted. If, therefore, my
expressions of gratitude appear inadequate, the want is
not in my will, but in my power.
I am grateful to my friend and fellow graduate
student M~ichael Conlon and his wife, Phyllis, for running
countless errands for me, and for listening to my tales
of woe with unfailing good humor. My thanks are also due
to Mr. Ray Jones, Mrs. M~argaret Duer, and the library
staff, for their help in locating books for me.
Th~e members of my committee have been most help-
ful and understanding throughout my work. I thank Pro-
fessor Melvin Valk for his patience and assistance all
during the years of my stay at the University of Florida.
Professor Ants Oras has offered not only advice and en-
couragement, but also a friendship which I value. Most
of all, my sincerest thanks are due to Professor Aubrey
Willinas, my dissertation director, wJho has taught me so
TABLE OF CONTENTS
. * ii
. . 1
ACKNOWLEDGMET.. .... ...
I. OCCASION AND CRITICISM OF THE RELAPSE.
II. THE PROBLEM.... .........
III. THE MEANING OF THE RELAPSE... ..
BIBLIOGRAPHIY .... .. ......
BIOGRAPHY .... .. ......
Restoration comedy has long been the neglected
stepchild of English literature. Since the twenties, how-
ever, the interest in this field has shown a marked in-
crease, and particularly during the last twenty years many
respectable works dealing with that era in literary history
have been published. The majority of these works, however,
is concerned with the three luminaries of Restoration com-
edy: Etherege, Wycherley, and Congreve.
Sir John Vab~brugh, whose first two plays appeared
during the time w~hen Congreve was writing plays, has often
been overlooked or relegated to an inferior position. The
little that has been written about him is seldom to the
point. Yet his work seems to be deserving of being rated
more highly, although admittedly he has not Congreve's
brilliance or Wzycherley's biting satire. The fact that a
great deal of Vanbrugh's work consists of translation and
adaptation poses a difficulty in making a choice: if one
were to consider all of his work, the translations and
adaptations ought to be included. But these are very uneven,
not only in quality but also in closeness to the original.
Omitting the translations and adaptations, one would be
left with three original plays, one of which, however, was
left unfinished at the author's death and consequently
offers great difficulties in interpretation because one can
only guess how he would have concluded it.
Hence it seemed most feasible to confine this study
to Vanbrugh's first comedy, The Relapse. The purpose of this
study is to demonstrate that Vanbrugh's achievement in The
Relapse is such as to justify his inclusion among the out-
standing writers of Restoration comedy.
This study is not specifically concerned with the
morality of Tac Relapse. Inis issue has received too much
attention ever since Collier's attack on the play and has
often tended to blind critical judgment. The questions with
which this study is primarily concerned deal with literary
merit: whether the play deals with concerns that are desery-
ing of attention; whether it presents some problems particu-
larly important to its time; and whether its language and
structure are expressing these concerns and problems.
All these questions, it appears, can be answered
affirmatively. If, then, this study succeeds it may, it is
hoped, enhance Vanborugh's position among the writers of Res-
toration comedy. In a wider sense, it may also answer the
charge against Restoration comedy in general "that /it is7
trivial, gross, and dull."
L .Kngt,"Restoration Comedy: The Reality
and the M~yth," Scrutiny, VI (1937), 143.
OCCASION AND CRITICISM OF THE RELAPSE
While Sir John Vanbrugh is usually included among
the major comic writers of the Restoration, his work has re-
ceived scant critical attention.1 Moreover, much of the
criticism bestowed upon Vanbrugh is unfavorable:2 too fre-
quently his work is compared to Wycherley's or Congreve's
and is pronounced inferior. It is idle to speculate whether
the critical indifference toward Vanbrugh is caused by his
introduction of some drastic changes into the setting of
his comedies (he was the first major writer of the period to
mnove part of the action into the country), or by his produe-
ing greater numbers of adaptations and translations than
original plays. But whatever the reason for later critics'
relative neglect of Yanbrugh's work, and notwithstanding
Jeremy Collier's attack on The Relapse in particular, the
author's contemporaries received his plays favorably.
The Relapse, Vanbrugh's first play, was first acted
at Drury Lane in Decemb~ert1696, and "was received with
mighty applause."3 The play was written as a sequel to
Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift, or The Fool in Fashion,
which had met with great success. Frequently called the
first sentimental comedy in English,4 Love's Last -ift,
depicting the reform of the rake-hell Loveless and his re-
union with his faithful wife, Amanda, moved the audience to
tears: "The joy of unexpected reconcilement spread such an
uncommon rapture of pleasure in the audience that never were
spectators more happy in easing their minds by .. honest
In view of the close connection between Love's Last
Shift and The Relapse, an acquaintance with Cibber's play--
while not necessary to an appreciation of The Relapse--may
be helpful in arriving at a fuller understanding of Vanbrugh'
play. Such an acquaintance, by affording the possibility of
comrparing Cibber's and Vanbrugh's attitudes towards the moral
conflict at the center of the Ananda-Loveless plot, may throw
some light on Vanbrugh's view of human nature and the per-
fectibility of man as they are presented in The Relapse.
In plot and characters Love's Last Shift follows
fairly closely the pattern of the comedies of the period.
Yet there is one important deviation: the heroine is a
married woman. Th~is change in the marital status of Amanda
opens for her possibilities that the heroines of fourer
comedies did not have: she can follow her inclinations--
accept Loveless' proposition--and yet retain her virtue--
he is, after all, her husband even though he is not aware
of her identity. Thus the moral conflict, at least as far
as Amanda is concerned, is really non-existent, a fact
whiich considerably weakens Cibber's play and accounts, at
least in part, for the unrealistic and optimistic view of
human nature that it presents.
The plot of Lovers Last Shift is, in short, this:
Loveless, a confirmed rake who left his wife shortly after
marriage to escape his creditors and the confinements of
matrimony, returns to town penniless. He meets Young Worthy,
an7 old friend who confirms Loveless' mistaken belief that the
latter's wife died recently, but who plans to attempt to re-
unite the couple. Young Worthy himself is engaged in an in-
trig~ue to gain possession of the person and fortune of Nar-
cissa, Sir Willian Wisewould's daughter, whom her father in-
tends to marry Elder Worthy, Young Worthy's brother. The
older brother, in turn, is in love with Hillaria, Sir Wil-
liam's ward and cousin to Narcissa. While the brothers
Ulorthy plan to cheat Sir Willian, he plans to cheat his ward
out of five thousand pounds.
Even though Young Worthy is kept busy in bringing
his own and his brother's affair to a favorable conclusion,
he exerts his efforts on behalf of Amanda, whom he likes and
ainires. He convinces her that Loveless' dislike is di-
rected against her as a wife rather than as a person. If
she could meet Loveless without having the despicable title
of wife attached to her, Young Worthy believes that Loveless
would be charmed by Amanda's beauty and possibly be led to
repent his past behavior. Consequently Young Worthy arranges
ror Loveless to meet Amanda in the guise of a new mistress.
Young Worthy's plot succeeds, and Loveless, "confounded
with / his 7 guilt and /Erembling~to behold (Ker7, begs
Amanda's forgiveness and promises eternal fidelity. This
tearful scene of reconciliation is shortly followed by an-
other, involving Sir William and Young Worthy. Informed of
Young Worthy's deceit and his marriage to Narcissa, Sir Wil-
lizam, after some show of temper, forgives the lovers and de-
clines Young Worthy's offer to return Narcissa's portion.
Good will towards all pervades the closing scene, and every-
body is happy. This happiness, it is explicitly stated, is
the reward of" virtue. Thne play ends with Loveless' senten-
tious remark that "the greatest Happiness we can hope on
Earth, and sure the nearest to the Joys above, is the chaste
Rapture of a virtuous Love."
During all these complications and resolutions, the
fool in fashion of the title, Sir Novelty Fashion, struts on
and off the scene, serving as a target for the wits' barbed
remarks, causing jealous outbursts by his attentions to
Hillaria, but remaining himself completely unchanged and un-
moved from his first appearance to his last line. Sir
Novelty's complete lack of concern for others, his unwaver-
ing self-love and cynicism, offer a marked contrast to the
high emotionalism of the other characters in the concluding
scene. M~ore than that, however, Sir Novelty's unabashed
selfishness puts into relief the almost unbelievable unsel-
fishness and generosity of Amanda, Loveless, Sir William, and
Young Worthy, leading the reader to the conclusion that
neither of the two views of human nature presented at the
conclusion of Love's Last Shift is realistic. Sir Novelty,
of course, is a caricature and as such may be expected to
be exaggerated. The other characters, however, particularly
Loveless and Amanda, are apparently intended to be taken as
serious representations of man. Consequently the reader is
justified in demanding they be believable; but they fail to
be so, not so much by their actions as by their unequivocal
assertions concerning the rewards of virtue and the duration
of their "happy state." Cibber's failure here to present a
realistic view of human nature and human relationships con-
stitutes the great weakness of his play, and led to Van-
bru~gh's attempt in The Relapse to show "the Frailty of Man-
kneven in his most fix't Detenninations," and the strug-
gle involved in subordinating desire to virtue.
Cibber himself, unwittingly perhaps, points to this
weakness in Love's Last Shift in the Epilogue to the play.
Addressing the rakes in the audience, the speaker apologizes
for the author's unforgivable sin of having allowed "an
honest Rake 6,>7 forego the Joys of Life/His Whores and Wine
t'embrace a dull chaste Wife," yet claims that the author's
crime is mitigated by the fact that "he's lewd above four
Acts, Gentlemen" (p. 92). The further explanation that the
first four acts were designed for the rakes' "course Palate's,'
Jh~ile the last act is to appeal to the ladies' "more refined
taste," only tends to emphasize the lack of a consistent
point of views in the play.
Reformned or "penitent" rakes are commonplace in Res-
toration comedy.8 If one applied the tern loosely, one
might well include such characters as Etherege's Dorimant
znd Congreve's Bellmour, to name only two.9 Yet these rakes'
progress to reform differs from that of Loveless in L~ove's
Last Shift insofar as it is a gradual process of which the
rakes themselves are well aware. When at last they admit
defeat and accept marriage with all its implications, they
choose what they consider the greater good--the woman their
e~u~al in wit, restraint, Ead understanding--over the lesser--
un~restrained pursuit of illicit affairs. Normnan Holland, in
his discussion of the schism that exists in Restoration com-
edy between reason and faith, thought and feeling, or fact
and value, points out that this schism is made evident by
the fact that "the comedy deals with 'the Town' rationally
and realistically for four acts; then the hero escapes into
fideistic love in the fifth act, a love idealized, converted
upward, in religious imagery."10 The validity of this state-
ment as it concerns Restoration comedy in general may be ques-
tionable, but Holland's comment seems to describe adequately
the sharp break in Cibber's Love's Last Shift.
While it is easier to find faults than merits in
Cibber's play, one cannot in justice deny it all merit.
iKotiithstanding Pope's shattering verdict in Th~e Dunciad
of 1743, Cibber is not completely lacking in accomplishment
as a writer, In Love's Last Shift he touches on many of the
problems that were of particular interest to the writers of
his time. Foremost among these is the problem of freedom
versus restraint as it affects the relationship between the
sexes. Thnis problem is closely connected with that of na-
ture versus art, frequently presented in the plays through
the opposition of the real self and the public manners of a
character: the face and the mask.
The problem of freedom versus restraint in sexual
relationships is demonstrated in Love's Last Shift by man' s
dilemma when faced with his inclination for change and
variety mad the limitations imposed upon these inclinations
by marriage. Cibber rather skillfully and consistently uses
twro sets of images to express these two opposites: images
pertaining to food and drink in connection with sexual free-
domm, and images of money and monetary transactions in con-
nection with marriage. These two sets of images are em-
ployed almost exclusively by the characters who embrace the
libertine point of view: Loveless, Young Worthy, Sir Novelty,
Snap,mand, to a lesser degree, Narcissa. These characters
equate sexual relationships with "love" and refer to them in
terms of food and drink. The exchange in the opening scene
between Loveless and Snap implies their lack of money by
their need to "fast." "Fasting," in their usage, refers
not only to the abstention from food, but also to the ab-
stention from sexual relations.11 Thnus their past over-
indulgence in food as well as sex has led to their present
reduced circumstances which force them to abstain from both.
To refer to love in terms of food and drink reduces
it to a purely physical, i.e., a "natural" need. Loveless
justifies his leaving of his wife, a celebrated beauty, by
claiming that "a wife is an eternal Apple-tree; after a pull
or two, you are sure to set your Teeth on Edge" (p. 13).
Thmis statement supports his claim that "the greatest Pleasure
we can take, is the Variety of Taste," but undercuts the liber-
tine insistence on "following Nature"which frequently sets
up 'brute beasts' as models: :the need for food and drink is
natural to man, but the pursuit of variety is a refinement
imposed by art and is not based on natural needs.
Even vien food and drink do not refer to sexual re-
lations they are much present in the talk of the libertine
characters. Loveless, particularly, on several occasions
needs to work himself up to a pitch of physical desire with
the aid of wine and food. He agrees with Snap that they need
dinner before looking for "a brace of whores," because "a
Man is as unfit to follow Love with an empty stomach, as
Eusiness with an empty Head" (p. 18); moreover, he claims
that wine helps love to gain its ends. At Amanda's house,
Loveless is to be treated with two or three bumpers of strong
v;ine "to qualify him for her Design" (p. 60). At the sight
of the supper that Amnanda's woman brings him, Loveless again
draws the parallel between food and sex: "If the meat be
real, I shall believe the Lady to be Flesh and Blood" (p. 61).
After a few glasses of wine he is ready to "present / is7
huvmble Service" to her maid, if the "Lady doesn't make a lit-
Having been relieved of this necessity by the maid's
departure and A4manda's arrival, Loveless blames the confusion
on his senses on the "Luscious Food before 'em." When .Ouanda
rejects his plea to "let loose /rier7 early Kindness," he asks
her "W~hy, Madam, would you not drink the first time you had
a thirst," and advises her to give herself an inclination
by "kissing the Cup" (p. 65). The whole scene is so filled
with food and drink imagery that Loveless' few excursions
into the language of romantic love cannot be taken for more
than conventional figures of speech. One has every reason
to doubt that he would pursue Amanda to the hazard of his
life if she refused him, particularly since at the first
sight of her he wished to "reap the Harvest of a ripe De-
sire, without the lingering Pains of growing Love" (p. 63).
This wish, again, suggests the discrepancy between the
libertine claim to naturalness and the libertine practices:
in the order of nature, a time for growth normally precedes
While Loveless, whose main aim is pleasure, is mostly
concerned with the pursuit of illicit sexual relationships,
Young Worthyrs avowed purpose is matrimony, "sweetened with
a swinging portion." Viewing his proposed marriage to Nar-
cissa as a purely commercial transaction, a means of repair-
ing his finances and of avoiding the loading of his brother's
"'good nature too much," he refers to it consistently in terms
of gold and money. On the other hand, Young Worthy refers
to sexual relationships, in or outside of marriage, in terms
of food. Only in his conversations with Narcissa does he
resort to the conventional language of romantic love; and
not once throughout the first four acts does he ever imply
that his interest in Narcissa is anything but mercenary,
After having implored his "dear Angel" /po pronounce the
joyful Word and draw the Scene of /Eis~7 eternal Happiness,"
Young Worthy comments unfavorably on Narcissa's affectation
of coyness, but consoles himself with the thought that
"there's no fault in her 1000 1. a Year, and that's the Load-
stone that attracts my Heart" (p. 27). He scoffs at the
"Wise and Grave" who believe that virtues are the best dow-
ries, and claims that younger brothers hold to the maxim,
"She's only Worth, that brings her Weight in Gold" (p. 28).
Young Worthy's low opinion of virtue is expressed by his
observation that virtue "is as mudh debased as our money;
for Maidenheads are as scarce as milled Half-crowns" (:p. 49).
In spite of his skeptical view concerning virtue, however,
Young W;orthy implicitly acknowledges Narcissa as a virtuous
woman. He understands that the virtuous ladies' holding out
for maerriage--their refusal to "pay interest," as he calls
it--may put them at a disadvantage opposite women of quality
but easy virtue. Eut he implies his approval of the vir-
tuous ladies' tactics when he observes that "the Principal,
our Health, is a little secure with them" (p. 40.). The
analogy between virtue and commercial transactions is plain;
virtue is a selling point, nothing more. Further on in the
smu~e passage, Young Worthy and Narcissa discuss in terms of
food and drink the stratagem of the "virtuous ladies" to
arouse their lovers' desire without satisfying it outside
of marriage. Young Worthy maintains that "starving" the
lover too long may lead him to overindulgence and hence soon
to complete lack of appetite.
Sir Novelty, in almost the same terms, promises the
mask-ed Flareit (Whom he believes to be Narcissa) never to
see Flareit again. He refers to Flareit as "homely Fare,"
whlile Narcissa's attentions to him are, in his words, "so
rich a banquet,!" Basically, Sir Novelty's attitude toward
women is very similar to that of Loveless and Young Worthy.
But, being a fool, he fails to discern the difference be-
tween a Flareit and a Narcissa; and, being rich, he uses
his fortune to buy physical pleasure, rather than his phy-
sical charms to obtain a fortune. Thne main interest of Sir
Novelty, however, centers not on affairs but rather on the
reputation for having affairs. His extravagant settlement
to P1areit results not from his good nature but from his
desire for self-aggrandizement. Throughout the play, Sir
Novelty fully justifies Elder Worthy's description of him
as "one that Heaven intended for a Man; but the whole Busi-
ness of /yhose7 Life is, to make the World believe that he
is of another Species" (p. 19).
Sir Novelty's unfailing conceit and self-esteem, his
complete lack of perception, are shortcomings in his charac-
ter; yet these qualities make him one of the most consistent
characters of the play and as such he is more satisfactory
and believable than the reformed rakes, Loveless and Young
Saap, Loveless' servant, is another such character.
E= shares his master's attitude toward sexual relationships
and only regrets his master's past sins because of their
cost. Shrewdly aware of the double standard of sexual be-
havior among his betters (:p. 13), Snap does not need to re-
sort to the trappings of romantic love with the women of his
ownz class. His conversation with Amlanda's woman is actually
very similar to Loveless' exchange with Amanda (pp. 66-67),
except that it is stripped to the bare essentials. Like Sir
Novelty, Snap remains unchanged to the last. He is appalled
at Loveless' insistence that he marry Amanda's woman: "Why
Sir, how the Devil can you think a Man can have any Stomach
to his Dinner, after he has had three or four Slices of the
Spit" (p. 85), and only submits to Loveless' demand after
learning that virtue is to be rewarded, tangibly and imme-
diately. Snap's final words stand in sharp contrast to those
of Young Worthy anid Loveless, and, as did his earlier re-
marks on marriage, serve to remind the reader of the sudden
and unmotivated change of the latter two: "Well, Sir, I
partly find that the genteel Scenes of our Lives are pretty
wjell over; and I thank Heaven, that I have so much Grace
left, that I can repent, wJhen I have no more Opportunity of
being wicked. .. Ah, little did my Master and I think
last Night that we were robbing our own Orchards" (p. 89).
Among the characters who do not accept the liber-
tine view of sexual relationships, Sir Wdisewould plays a
slightly ambiguous role. He is no libertine, but his view
of marriage is in many wiays close to that of Young Worthy:
he considers it a financial arrangement, into which the
feelings of the parties concerned do not enter. His at-
tempt to marry his daughter to the rich older brother, as
well as his intended cheating of Hillaria, point this way.
When it suits his purpose, however, he takes the romantic
view: "true Love's beyond all Riches. 'Tis all Dirt--mere
Dirt I (p. 72). In spite of his pride in his stoic temper,
he loses it when the provocation is great enough, and five
thousand pounds prove such. In his way he is as foolishly
blind as Sir Novelty, and as unscrupulous as Young Wiorthy.
Elder Worthy is without a doubt the most "admirable"
male character in the context of the play. He demonstrates
his good nature by the "continual bounty" he bestows on his
younger brother. If there are any doubts cast on his good
nature because he allows Hillaria to take revenge on Sir
Novelty and involve Narcissa in the plot, or because he
consents to the plan to cheat Sir Wisewould, such doubts
are dispelled shortly. In the first instance, Elder worthy's
consent is motivated by his concern for Hillaria's reputa-
tion; and in the second, he agrees to the cheat only when he
learns of Sir Wisewould's plot against Hillaria's fortune.
Elder Worthy never uses food and drink imagery in
reference to love and marriage. He takes life and himself
seriously, too seriously, as he demonstrates by his jealousy
of Hillaria. Young Worthy, the rake, shows more perception
when he instantly recognizes Hillaria's motive for seemingly
encouraging Sir Novelty's advances: Young Worthy suspects
his brother of having aroused Hillaria's anger by "preach-
ing to her" about her conduct (as indeed Elder Worthy
did). Elder Worth~y again shows a certain lack of percep-
tion in his estimate of Sir Wisewould as "an honest man,"
and even more so in his ~claim, during his quarrel with
Hillaria, to "have lost sight of ~e~rT already; there hangs
a Cloud of Follie between /fer7 and the Woman ffe7 once
thought /Eferl7" (p. 33). It never occurs to Elder Worthy
that the folly that seems to separate him from Hillaria may
be his jealousy rather than her mild flirtation with Sir
Novelty. Yet Elder Worthy at last realizes his faults. He
acknowledges Hillaria's superiority when he tells her, "I
blush to be outdone in generous Love" (p. 3 ); and he ex-
plains his obvious distaste for "the true Pleasures of the
Park" by his reluctance to observe the weakness of others,
because he has "more Faults of ffis7 own than (' knows
how to mend" (p. 52).
Hillaria, whose love for Elder Worthy attests to his
excellence of character (in the context of the play), is a
suitable counterpart for him. Her virtue is>1ike his, above
reproach; yet she is less serious and more perceptive than
flder Worthy. She demonstrates a certain playfulness when
ohe deliberately flirts with Sir Novelty in order to put
!dorthy in his place; and she shows perceptiveness concerning
humLnan nature, and the nature of women in particular, when
she admits to Amanda that women, like men, are interested
in the sexual aspects of love, even though "Modesty mad good
Breeding oblige /fhem7 not to understand what, sometimes,
/fhey7 can't help thinking of" (:p. 41).
Unlike Hillaria, Narcissa, the affected precieuse,
denies this interest in her answer to Young Worthy's request
that she marry him the following day : "Oh, Insolence! D'ye
think I can be mov'd to love a man, to kiss and toy with
him, and so forth?" (:p. '17). That her innocence is pretense
and her reluctance only showsbecomes rather obvious in her
later conversation with Young Worthy. At the same time
Narcissa's preoccupation with herself renders her incapable
of seeing through the pretenses of others. She is convinced
that Y'oung IWorthy loves only her and "wr~ould marry J~ery
without a Groat" (p. '12). This remark proves that Narcissa,
in spite of her pretended worldiness, is unaware of the
realities of her world: younger brothers cannot afford to
marry ladies without a groat.
Amanda, on the other hand, showJs more understanding
of the world than one would expect of one who had spent close
to ten years in semi-retirement. Her judgment of Elder and
Young Worthy is sound, and her performance in the seduction
scene is annost too convincing. Her attitude towards her
absent errant husband is not readily reconcilable with her
understanding of her world. In the beginning it seems that
she is mainly interested in winning Loveless back for purely
personal reasons. But as Young Worthy's design progresses,
she becomes more sad more concerned with the triumph of vir-
tue, rather than with the satisfaction of personal desires.
Her first doubts concerning Young Worthy's scheme are mostly
based on her fear that she. might fail to attract Loveless.
Only in her discussion with Hillaria does she begin to ex-
press scruples concerning the moral justification of the
plan: she would be an accessory to adultery if she "en-
couraged an unlawful passion"; Loveless' love for her, if
she succeeded, would be vicious. When Hillary dispells her
doubts, however, Amanda's efforts "to reclaim the Man /phe is7
bound by Heaven to love, to expose the Folly of a roving Mind,
in pleasing him with what he seemed to loath" (p. 43), take
on an almost missionary zeal. No longer is her prime con-
cern the satisfaction of her long-neglected love; she is
now determined to see constancy rewarded, and in this way
to "persuade the looser Part of Womankind even to forsake
themselves and fall in love with Virtue" (p. 43). Even
though she speaks in the recognition scene with Loveless of
her "despairing passion," her "presuming passion," and "the
tenderest tale of love" wJhich her eyes tell, and insists
that she is the one to be forgiven for her deception, there
is never any doubt as to who is forgiving whom: Loveless
certainly is the repentant sinner, Amanda the forgiving
When the sudden about-face of almost every charac-
ter in the play occurs halfway through scene two of act
five, the audience is completely caught by surprise. The
change of character goes hand in hand with a change of
imagery. Food and drink images disappear--except for Snap's
closing remark--and religious images predominate from here
After having spent the night with Loveless--obviously
t o the ir mutual sati sfact ion--Amanda di scurses on the quesa-
tion of vice versus virtue. Even though she has some fear
that the discovery of her true identity may frighten Love-
less awlay, she puts her trust in the charms of that virtue
for whose sake ":holy Martyrs perished." Amanda seems to
imply that she belongs to the ranks of these holy martyrs;
that she has sacrificed herself, as it were, by assuming
a "'Disguise of vicious Love" in order to "lure this
iwand'ring Falcon back to Love and Virtue." She takes on
the role of an instrument of Heaven through whom the sin-ner
Loveless is to be reclaimed. In this light her consent to
YLoung Worthy's plot becomes more acceptable. As one of the
critics of sentimental drama points out, "the sentimentalist
mnay feel that when he intervenes on the side of' virtue
against debauchery and evil, he is directly inspired by
Heaven, and is a kind of guardian angel."1
Loveless is at this point still completely unreformed.
His comment on Amnanda's profession of "ma Hope that carries
/Ee~r to the brighter Regions of eternal Day" proves that he
has not yet been reclaimed by love, vicious or virtuous:
"Hm!I thought her last Nightrs Humour was too good to
hold. I suppose, by and by, she'll ask me to go to Church
~i~th her" (p. 77). Even Loveless' admission that there may
indeed exist a virtuous woman in no way implies that he is
particularly concerned with such a woman. Only when Amanda,
after having asked what excuse Loveless could offer for a
man "who leaves the Bosom of a [virtuous7 Wife .. for the
abandon'd Pleasures of deceitful Prostitutes," taxes him
with his broken vows, does he suddenly find his thoughts
stricken "with Horror and Remorse" (P. 78). But even then
he remains ignorant of Amanda's identity. Amanda hesi-
tates to reveal herself, claiming "the Word's too weighty
for my faultering Tongue, and my Soul sinks beneath thle
fatal Burden" (p. 79). In spite of Loveless' interest and
concern, the day is not yet won: it takes a fainting fit
to make his heart bleed for her distress. When, in his ef-
forts to revive her, he assures her that she has "rais'd a
CThought within /ripp' that shocks (fi Soul"' (p. 79), Almanda
utters the words, "'tis done," and rises. Paul Parnell is
Inclined to take her fainting "as a strategem allowable un-
der the circumstances," and calls her comment, "'tis done,"
crypticic (or businesslike)."lk While this explanation is
certainly tenable, it fails to indicate the total im~plica-
tion of the passage. The words "'tis done," particularly
in conjunction with those immediately following, "the Con-
flict's past, and Heaven bids me speak undaunted" (p. 79),
tend to emphasize Amanda's view of herself as an instrument
of God. Thus the words "'tis done" may imply that shle has
overcome the weakness of her sex, indicated earlier by her
hesitancy, and is ready to'fulfill her God-assigned mission.
This reading seems to be supported by Parnell's statement
that the sentimental hero (or heroine)--a role which knanda
apparently plays--is "assuming the part of Christ, or at
least Christ's vice--egent."1 Loveless' ensuing words and
actions affirm Amanda's Christlike stature: he kneels to her;
he asks her to "seal his Pardon with /i~ierT trembling Lips";
he assures her that she has "rous'd /j~im~from /iWis7 deep
Lethargy of Vice"; and he proclaims his intention to lie
prostrate, "sigh /fis7 Shame, and wash away J~isT Crimes in
never ending Tears of Penitence" (p. 80). Amanda's assurance
that she will "wash away /fh~e7 memory / fr her; past wrong~s7
in Tears of Slowing Joy," only emphasizes her role, mad Love-
less' rather belated and cursory remarkr that "despite of
all /f;is7 Follies, kind Heaven resolved /ffis7 Happiness, "
does nothing to remove her from her elevated position.
Am~anda's near perfection and virtue not only cause
Loveless, to change completely, suddenly, and irrevocably,
but her ennobling influence mad example also bring about a
reform of Young Wort~hy and Sir Wisewould. Young Worthy, as
"the generous author" of Amanda's happiness, "has aton'd
for all the Looseness of his Character" by aiding in reclaim-
ing Loveless and thus is deserving of being saved. Even
though he wras still determined to cheat Sir Wisewould and
admitted that he had "sworn false Oaths to promote / ~arcissa's
lov~e71 (p. 73), when they set out for church, he refuses a
few hours later the bond Loveless and Elder Worthy offer to
Sir Wisewould with the words: "I should blush to be obliged
to that Degree: Therefore, Sir William, as the first Proof
of that Respect and Duty I owe a Father, I here, unasked,
return your Bond, and will henceforth expect nothing from
you, but as my Conduct will deserve it" (p. 85). In the
world ofsthe fifth act of Love's Last Shift such offers can
be made with impunity: Amanda very definitely reaffirms the
values and views of that world w~hen she says: "'This is
indeed a generous Act; methinks 'twere Pity it should go un-
rewarded"' (p. 80). Of course, generous acts do not go un-
rewarded. Sir Wisewould, not to be outdone, is "vanqu~ish'd"
and calls "Heaven's Blessings" on Young Worthy and Narcissa.
All he asks in return for his generosity is that Young Wor-
thy "let the Wiorld know 'twas /Ee7 set /him/ upon /his71egs
The "little Musick" that ends the play drives home
the mloral with a will: the basis of a happy life is a vir-
tuous wife. Marriage, dissatisfied with his state, is told:
Go home, unhappy Wretch, and mourn
For all thyr guilty Passions past;
There thou shalt find those Joys return
Which shall for ever, ever last
Thus the play that was "lewd for above four acts" ends with
a panegyric of "the chaste raptures of a virtuous Love" and
asserts that they will last forever after.
It is not surprising that Cibber's play has been
called sentimental by most critics. It certainly takes the
view that virtue, far from being merely its own reward, may
look for tangible rewards here and now; that near perfection
is attainable, and that good intentions and good example wdill
keep a reformed character safe.
Ehe view of human nature expressed at the end of
Love's Last Shift is in opposition not only to the reali-
ties of life, but also to orthodox Christianity. A belief
in the perfectibility of man, as it is implied in the final
scenes of Cibber's play, contradicts the concept of man as
fallen and inclined toward sin. Moreover, experience, as
well as Christianity, teaches that even the best resolu-
tions may fail slnd that man is unable to predict accurately
his future actions and behavior. Vanbrugh, apparently re-
luctant to accept Cibber's pat and glib assertion of a
'happy ever after' in this world, took it upon himself to
expose the fallacy of Cibber's view and to show in Th~e Re-
lapse how long 'for ever, ever' may really last.
Notwithstanding the favorable reception accorded
gne Relapse, however, the preface to the play's first edi-
tion (dated 1697) implies that Vanbrugh was attacked from
some quarters on account of the play's "'Blasphemy and Bawdy. "16
Denying the truth of these charges, Vanbru~gh there remarked
flippantly--and, as the near future was to prove, prophet-
ically--that he despaired of the "Saints (your thorough-
pac'd ones I mean, with screw'd Faces and wry Mouths),"1l7
whomn nobody could ever please. It may be difficult to de-
termine whether this remark was caused by "a rumor ..
that some divine was meditating a sally against the theatre,"
a possibility entertained by Dobree.18 It is, however, a
matter of record that a non-juring divine did make such a
sally in 1698. He was Jeremy Collier and the impressive
title of his "sally" was A Short View of the Immorality and
Profaneness of the English Stage: Together With the Sense of
Antiquity Upon this Argument.19
Attacks on the stage were no novelty; they had been
occurring since antiquity, as Professor Joseph Wood Krutch
points out.20 But what made Collier's attempt to destroy
the theater noteworthy, was the abandon with da~ich he threw
himself into the task: "His was the genuine and irritating
zeal of the reformer. From this fact arose his greatest
merit and his greatest defects. Nothing is so likely as this
same zeal to inspire confidence and enthusiasm, and on the
other hand, nothing is so sure to spoil the temper and banish
Collier's Short View starts with a definition of the
purpose of the theater, one which completely rejects the
theater as a mirror held to nature and instead states baldly
that "the Business of Plays is to recommend Virtue and dis-
countenance Vice."2 If this definition were acceptable--
arnd Collier allows no doubt but that it is--then the English
stage of his time certainly did not fulfill its purpose. Col-
lier, furthermore, established four main kinds of offenses
committed by the playwrrights, and systematically ploughed
his way through them.
The first of these offenses is "Smuttiness of Ex-
pression." Under this heading Collier mentions The Relapse
as one of the plays that "strike sometimes upon this Sand."
The kind of imm~odesty of expression contained in the play
tenrds, he says, "to stain the Imagination, to awaken Folly,
adto weaken the Defences of Virtue."2 Collier considers
it not only a moral but also an artistic failure to put
"'smuitty language" into the mouths of ladies; artistically
it is a violation of decorum, because it is contrary to the
character and nature of ladies. To present women as silly
or mad--as he accuses Vanbrugh of doing in the character of
Ecyden--is no excuse, and he holds up Terence and Plautus
as examples of comic writers who observed the niceties of
the stage. Even Aristophanes, atheist though he was, did
not allow married women to be debauched. A look at the
English stage at the time between Queen Elizabeth and
Charles II shows that it, too, was superior to the present
stage--if one disregards Shakespeare, who "is too guilty
to make an Evidence."
After more excursions into all kinds of side issues,
Collier gets to his second charge against the stage: pro-
fineness. This he subdivides into two categories: cursing
and swearing, and abuse of religion and holy Scripture.
In the first category The Relapse, together with The Pro-
viok'd Wife, are mentioned as "particularly scandalous."
Collier reminds his readers that swearing is not only a
violation of divine law, but also of the laws of the state
(not to mention that it is unbecoming to a gentleman).
Turning to the second degree of profaneness, Col-
lier is seen at his most zealous and enthusiastic. He
singles out Dryden as particularly guilty of this offense,
and, w~hen he gets to The Relapse, hardly one character
escapes his censure. He takes exception to Lord Fopping-
ton's comments on church services, and Young Fashion's re-
mark that he has "kick'd Conscience down stairs" is as
sharply criticized as Berinthia's observation when Worthy
solicits her help in seducing Amanda: "Where there is neces-
sity a Christian is bound to help his neighbor." WFhen Worthy
expresses his gratitude to Berinthia in these words, "Thou
Angel of Light, let me fall down and adore Thee," Collier
call it a most Seraphic compliment to a Procuress."2
Evren Amaznda does not escape unscathed. Her angry exclamation,
"wjhat slippery stuff are men made of! Sure the account of
their creation is false', and 'twas woman's rib that they
were form'd of," is interpreted by Collier as casting doubt
on the truth of Scripture: "Thus the Lady abuses her self,
together with the Scripture, and shews her Sense, and her
Religion, to be much of a Size."2 In his eagerness to con-
demnn, Collier reads blasphemy even into such innocent re-
marks as Young Fashion's crediting providence with giving
him a chance to cheat his brother, and Berinthia's telling
Anman~da that Worthy used her "like a text." "These, Col-
lier exclaims, "are outrageous Provocations; enough to arm
all Nature in Revenge; to exhaust the Judgments of Heaven
and sink the Island in the Sea." He warns the authors of
such outrages against being lulled into a false sense of
security because they have escaped punishment so far:
"Go isnotmoc'dnot without Danger, they may be assured."2
After again having shown the ancients to have been
better and purer, Collier turns to his third charge, the
abuse of the clergy, and again he singles out The Relapse as
"'more singularly abusive." His attack centers on the presen-
tation of Bull, the chaplain. He finds fault with Bull's
character and language, as well as with the treatment accorded
him by others. To emphasize the depravity of the English
stage, Collier offers lengthy proof that playwrights of
other ages and nationalities either did not bring clergymen
on the stage at all or else, if they did, treated them with
the respect their office demands: "'But our Poets steer by
another Compass: Their Aim is to destroy Religion; their
Preaching is against Sermons; and their Business, but Di-
version at the best. In short, let the character be never
so well managed, no Christian Priest (especially) ought to
come upon the Stage."2
In this section Collier (unwittingly perhaps) be-
comes quite entertaining, by demanding due respect not
only for Christian priests--"to outrage the Ministers of
Religion is in effect to deny the being, or Providence of
God"28--but insisting with a nice show of impartiality that
even pagan priests be treated with respect and preserved from
ridicule. In case somebody should accuse him of pride--as
some indeed did later--Collier points out that "Hummility
obliges no Man to desert his Trust; to throw up his Privilege;
and prove false to his Character."29
From the abuse of the clergy, Collier turns to his
last charge: "The Stage-poets make their Principal Characters
Vitious and reward them at the End of the Play." In support
of this charge Collier appeals to Nature, and points out that
she clearly differentiates between virtue and vice:
The first has all the Sweetness, Charm
and Graces imaginable; the other has
the Air of a Post ill carved into a Mon-
ster, and looks both foolish and Fright-
ful together. These are the native ap-
pearances of Good and Evil. Aind they
that endeavour to blot the Distinction,
to rub out the Colours, or change the
Marks, are extremely to blame.. .
To put Lewrdness into a thriving Condi-
tion, .. and to treat it with Ceremony and
Respect, is the Way to confound the Un-
derstanding, fortifie the Charm, and make
Mischief invincible. Innocence is often
owing to Fear, and Appetite is kept un-
der by Shame; but when these Restraints
are once taken off, when Profit and
Liberty lie on the same side, and a Man
can Debauch himself into Credit, what
can be expected in such a Case, but that
Pleasure should grow absolute, and Mad-
ness carry all before it? The Stage
seems ~ger to bring Matters to this
He elaborates on this theme at great length, offering ex-
amples from the plays of Dryden, Congreve, and Wycherley.
As usual he contrasts the present stage with that of the
past, to the advantage of the latter. Surprisingly, The
Relause does not at all figure in this argument, but the
reason for this omission becomes apparent when one discovers
that "he is so generous to bestow a Chapter entire upon"
As Vanbrugh points out in A Short Vindication of
the Relapse and the Provok'd Wife, from Immorality and Pro-
faneness, Collier's chapter on The Relapse exceeds the limits
that the title of his treatise implies: he damns the play
not only on moral but also on artistic grounds. Explaining
his special attention to The Relapse by its author's swag-
gering "so much in his Preface," Collier sets out to ex-
amine the play "briefly in the Fable, the Moral, the tearac-
ters, etc."3 After giving the barest outline of the Young
Pashion-Hoyden plot, he then observes "that there is a
Misnomm~er /Eic7 in the Title"--Amanda and Loveless are of
inferior interest in the play. "The Intrigue, and the Dis-
covery, the great Revolution and Success, turns upon Young
Fashion. He, without Competition,is the Principal Person
in the Comedy. And therefore the Younger Brother, or the
Fortunate Cheat, had been a much more proper Name." The
moral, Collier observes, is vicious: "It points the wrong Way,
and puts the Prize into the wrong Hand." Young Fashion is
a rake, a blasphemer, and a cheat, who does not deserve to
be rewarded with Hoyden and her fortune. The instructions
that the play provides are, according to Collier, first,
that younger brothers ought to squander their fortune be-
cause, "as Fashion Blasphemously applies it, Providence
takes care of Men of Me~rit";~ second, that one ought not
to have scruples, because necessity is an excuse for any ac-
Burning back to the plot, Collier attacks The Relapse
for lack of verisimilitude. No man of Lord Foppington's
standing would contract for a marriage without personal con-
tact; nor would a Justice of the Peace be as easily taken
in as Sir Tunbelly. The fact that his house is well guarded
and Hoyden locked up at the approach of strangers shows him
to be a cautious man. Yet, solely on the strength of Coup-
lerts letter, he accepts Young Fashion without question.
Th~is behavior would brand Lord Foppington and Sir Tunbelly
as fools. And, "'if they are /Tools-/, where lies the Cunning
in over-reaching them? .. If they are not Fools, why does
the Poet make them so? .. Take then either way, and the
Plot miscarries. The first supposition makes it dull, and
the latter, incredible."
Taking up the "manners" of the play, Collier makes it
clear that he considers they should be synonymous with decorum.
To violate the rules of decorum (or manners) "is to desert
Nature and makes the Play appear monstrous and Chimerical."3
The rules of decorum demand that women be modest, because
their "character" is modesty. Berinthia violates decorum
by being "impudent and Profane." If she were "kick'd or ex-
posed," her impudence and lack of modesty could be justified.
She meets with no such fate, however, but "goes off without
Cemsure or Disadvantage." Hoyden, whose condition does not
suit her name, and whose behavior and speech are out of
character for the daughter of a "Deputy Lieutenant," also
meets with Collier's disapproval.. Yet, Collier also blames
Vaznbrgh for having allowed Hoyden too much wit occasion-
He raises the same objection against Lord Fopping-
ton, who, while being presented as a fool and a fop, is at
times allowed to "deviate into sense." The passages Col-
lier quotes in support of this objection hardly justify his
view that "this Drolling has too much spirit, the Air of it
is too free, and too handsomely turn'd for Lord Fopplington's
/Fi7 Character. Sir Tunbelly falls into the same Misfortune
of a Wit, and rallies above the force of his Capacity."
By allowing his "clock-heads" witty lines, Vanbrugh
does more than merely violate decorum: he deprives his "Men
of Sense" of som~e much needed witticisms. Collier cites
several examples from speeches of Loveless and Young Fashion
to show how much in need of good lines they were. But he
particularly singles out Worthy, "the Relapser's fine Gen-
tleman," to demonstrate Vanbrugh's want of wit. His attack
on Worthy centers on the "seduction scene" in act five, but
he obviously misreaA6 a passage in the scene, as Vanbrugh
points out in the Short Vindication. What is indeed sur-
prising--for one whose main interest is in the question of
morality--is Collier's comment on Worthy's sudden conver-
sion: "His passion is metamorphos'd in the Turn of a hand:
He is refined into a Platonick Admirer, and goes off as
like a Town Spark as you would wish. And so much for the
Poet's fine Gentleman." 0
It is hardly worthwhile to go into Collier's pedan-
tic argument concerning Vanbrugh's alleged violation of the
three unities of time, place, and action. H~is argument con-
cerning the lack of unity of action only repeats what he had
said earlier in support of his argument against the title of
"he Relapse: Amainda, Loveless, and Berinthia are "second
rate Characters. .. Their Interest is perfectly Foreign
and they are neither Friends nor Enemies to the Plot.ng
'Ihe only reason for repeating this statement is that the
emne~ observations concerning the "mnain" plot of The Relapse
have been made by numerous critics since.
Collier refrains in this particular chapter from re-
peating his charges of immorality and profaneness. He only
observes "that the Author was sensible of this objection,"
but pretended ignorance when, in the Preface to the play,
he disclaimed the presence of any bawdy or profane expres-
sions and referred the reader to the text: "To out-face
Evidence in this manner is'next to affirming there's no
such Sin as Blasphemy, which is the greatest Blasphemy-of
all." But in the last few lines of the chapter on The
Relapse he does conduct a purely personal attack on Van~brugh's
temper and talent, suggesting that his own indignation was
motivated at least to a considerable degree by personal con-
In the last chapter of his treatise, Collier cites
at great length, and with a nice show of impartiality, pagan
and Caristian writers to prove "that Plays have generally
been look'd on as the Nurseries of Vice, the Corrupters
of' Yculth,1 and the Grievance of the Country where they were
suffer'd." 3 Since this last chapter has no particular
bearing on The Relapse, we may leave the Reverend Collier
here, but not without noting that the aim of his treatise
was, as his last chapter reveals, not the reform, but the
destruction of" the theater.
If t~he space allowed to the review of Collier's
criticism of The Relapse appears excessive, two reasons can
be offered in justification: first, it is the longest, if
not the most valid, criticism of the play; and second, its
influence on the criticism of Restoration comedy is felt
even today. Rare indeed is the critic, sympathetic or ad-
verse, w~ho does not become involved in the questions of the
morality or imrmorality of Restoration comedy.
Collier's attack on the stage led understandably to
the publication of a considerable number of books and pam-
phlets participating in the controversy. Several of the
poets under attack eventually came out with an answer.
Dryden, in the Preface to the Fables (1700), pleads guilty
to some of the charges and in general adopts a conciliatory
attitude, even though he insists that Collier went too far.
Congreve-and Van~brugh, too, came to the defense of their
plays. Congreve's Amendments of Mr. Collier's False and
Imperfect Citations etc. from the Old Batchelor, Double
Dealer, Love for Love, Mourning Bride. By the Author of
these Pays appeared in 1698. So did Vanbrugh's Short
Vindication. Joh-n Dennis, who had earlier defended
tragedy against Rym~er's attack, now rushed to the defense
of comedy and the stage in general. There is, however,
no need to go into all the publications occasioned by
Collier's Short View here. A complete bibliography of the
Collier controversy can be found in Professor Krutch's
It is outside the scope of this study to discuss
the deterioration of comedy in the eighteenth century and
t~he attempts to return to the "old" comedy made by Goldsmith
and Sheridan. By the early nineteenth century, Restoration
comedy had fallen into disrepute; yet William Hazlitt,
Charles Lamb, and Leigh Hunt deserve credit for their at-
tempt to revive the comedy of the past age. Hazlitt, in his
"Lectures on the Comic WJriters," ignores the question of
morality and attempts to judge the comedy strictly from the
point of view of literary merit. He gives Vanbrugh credit
for having "a masterly eye to the advantages which certain
accidental situations of character present to him on the
spot, and /pf executin(7 the most difficult theatrical move-
ments at a moment's warning," As an example of such a
scene, Hazlitt mentions the one inl The Relapse where Loveless
pulls Berinthia into her closet. He praises Lord Foppington
as "'a most splendid caricature"' and Hoyden--despite her want
of' sentim~ent--as "la fine bouncing piece of flesh and blood. "
Sir Tunbelly's presence is "a cure for gravity; and he is a
standing satire upon himself and the class in natural history
to wzh~ich hie belonged."t4 ~lt Hazlitt confines his remarks
on The Relapse (with exception of the closet scene) to the
Young Fashion-Hoyden plot suggests that he considered it the
more important and the artistically more successful of the
While Hazlitt ignores the moral issue in Restoration
comedy,.Lamb denies its validity as a criterion of judgment
in his essay "On the Artificial Comedy of the Last Century."
Lam~b's essay is too well known to need discussion, and he
moreover confines his observations mostly to the comedies
of Wycherley and Congreve. In his rinsistance on the re-
moteness of the comedies from life, however, he seems to
deprive them of a good part of their value. In order to
be artistically valuable works of art, they ought to be more
than "the passing pagean't'of an evening."49
Leigh Hunt made a valiant effort toward the revival
of Restoration comedy with his edition of The Dramatic Works
of Wzycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar.0 In the
biographical notes he presents Vanbrugh as a writer lacking
in refinement, but free "from all cant and nonsense." "Of
feeling, .in the sentimental sense," Hunt states with
apparent approval, "Vanbrugh shows little or none. He seems
to have thought it foreign to the satire and mirth of
comedy.!1 Dismissing the charge that Vanbrugh had "hurt
the moral" by allowing the penitent and reformed Loveless
of Cibber's Love's Last Shift to "fall into his old wsays
again" in The Reapse Hunt asserts that "Vanbrugh laughed
at the morals of Cibber. He knew that so flimsy and canting
a teacher could only teach pretences; and in undoing his work
he left society to find out something better."f
Regrettably, these attempts to arrive at a more de-
tached and valid point of view concerning Restoration comedy
w~ere iiudely interrupted by Macaulay's review of Hun~t's edi-
tion. .Macaulay follows Collier's attack to a remarkable de-
gree, even though he assumes the pose of the objective, even
liberal, critic when he asserts his belief that any work that
throws light on a period of history deserves attention. But
he follow~js this assertion with the bald statement that "this
part restorationn comedy of our literature is a disgrace to
our language and our national character." Like Collier,
he stresses the dangerous influence that the constant con-
nection of the immoral with the attractive may have on "the
imagination of the young and susceptible." He dismisses
Lamb's essay and insists on the realism of the comedy, only
to indict it for its lack of morals. Contrary to Lamb's
theory, morality enters "constantly into that world /pf
the comedies, a sound morality and an unsound morality;
the sound morality to be insulted, derided, associated
with everything mean and hateful; the unsound morality to
be set off to every advantage, and inculcated by all methods,
direct and indirect." Not surprisingly, Macaulay pays
tribute to Collier, even though he does not absolve him
from all faults. One of these, according to Macaulay, is
Collier's failure to distinguish between the voice of the
poet and that of a character in the play, as for instance
in the case of Lord Poppington in Tae Relapse, Since Macaulay
never wrote the essay on Vanbrugh and Farquhar promised at the
end of his review, this remained his only reference to Van-
Adolphus Ward's criticism seems to vacillate between
the moralistic point of view of Macaulay and the literary
emphasis of Hazlitt. He acknowledges Vanbrugh's artistic
achievement when he claims that he is "unsurpassed by any of
our post-Restoration writers in the vivacity, gaiety, and
ease of his prose." He has praise for heamabeLd
Foppington," and considers the "by-plot" (Young Fashion-
Iioyden intrigue) of The Relapse "one of the most amusing
things in later English comedy.n5 Yet ward pronounces Van-
brugh's morality as even below that of Congreve--if one can
even think of morality in connection with him at all: "Such
is the levity of this author that it is difficult to weigh
even his sins in a very serious balance." Without orffr-
ing any judgment as to the morality of Love's Last Shift,
Ward says of The Relapse that "it would be difficult to
point to a more recklessly immoral production than this one
of Vanbrugh's, notwithstanding the triumphant final assertion
of the strength of female virtue in the person of the wronged
and tempted wife. Her faithless husband goes scotfree for
his sins." This last statement implies that Ward might
approve of Cibberrs theodicy: virtue is necessarily rewarded
and sin punished.
It would be reasonable to assume that with the changed
outlook on morality in general which followed the passing of
the Victorian Age there also occurred a change in the out-
look on the merits of Restoration drama. Certainly there
seems to have been an increase in interest in Restoration
comedy, as is indicated by the number of' works on various as-
pects of the comedies, published in the course of the twen-
tieth century.9 Many'of the Restoration writers found new
editors and critical scholars w~ho attempted to throw new
light on a specific writer and his work. Among the latter,
Professor Dale Underwood's study of Etherege is outstanding.60
In spite of the interest in the period, however, there is
very little critical material on Vanbrugh. He only rates a
chapter in the majority of the works dealing with the Restor-
ation period, or else is mentioned in various articles and
books as an example for a point the author wants to make.
Frequently he is mentioned as the dramatist of the period whose
plays moved towards sentimentalism. This critical point of
view, in turn, leads other critics to point to Vanbrugh as
the last writer in the tradition of "true" comedy.
Most often the charge of sentimentality against
Vanbrugh is based on the conversion scene in The Relapse.
Henry T. E. Perry praises Vanbrugh as a comic writer of great
achievement for his handling of the closet scene in The Re-
lapse, and for his creation of Lord Foppington, yet he qual-
ifies his praise with the observation that Vanbrugh bowed
to the public taste in the Amianda-Worthy scene: "The sig-
nificant development in The Relapse is not the weakness of
Loveless, but the strength of Amanda; from now on marital
infidelity mu~st not be treated lightly by the comic Muse."6
Perry attempts to explain Vanbrughrs failure as a comic
writer by the latter's awareness of the imperfections of
the world of comedy; attempting to "get out of the comic
underworld, he fails; trying to "free himself from the
solid earth," he only sinks "back into the mawkish mire of
Professor Krutch, too, recognizes that a change in
comedy occurred with Vanbrugh: "a start toward a Korall/
better comedy had been made by Aim7. Krutch, however,
denies that Vanbrugh's comedies can be justly called senti-
m~ental. Even though he mingled some of the "'freedom" and
"cynicism" (which Krutch apparently considers typical of
the Restoration proper) "with serious discussions of ethi-
cal problems and not a little sentiment," Vanbrugh's plays
were too realistic and satiric to qualify as sentimental.
Da~vid Berkeley, in his discussion of priciosite/ and
the use of pr~cieuse language, credits Vanbrugh with the
deliberate use of the language of the precieuses for comic
purpose in the garden scene between Loveless and Berinthia.6~
On the other hand, Berkeley claims that W;orthy's language in
the conversion scene of Th~e Relaase constitutes a serious
use of prkcieuse language and thus a deviation on the part of
Vanbrugh from his purpose to treat the material of Love's
Last Shift realistically. On the basis of this conclusion,
Berkeley lists W!orthy among his twenty-three "penitent rakes,"
claiming that Worthy "rises to a state of purity far above
that of. the reformed Loveless of Love's Last Shift~.
Berkxeley's view is not shared by Ernest Bernbaman,
w:ho considers the conversion scene in The Relapse insuffi-
cient evidence in support of a charge of sentimentalism
against Vanbrugh. "The passage," Bernbaum states, "is
brief and does not defeat the author's purpose, which was
to cast doubt on the perfection of Amanda and the perfect-
ibility of Loveless."
The authors of probably the longest single study of
VanbrSIUgh, Paul Mueschke and JearnetteFleischer,9 also de-
fend him against the charge of sentimentalism, but base their
defense on different reasons. In the first place, they claiu
that the critics accusing Vanbrugh of sentimentalism tend to
confuse sentimentalism with common sense. Besides, Worthy's
conversion is only conditional; his language may be that of
sentimentalism, but his actions follow the code of common
sense. It is not a sign of sentimentalism, Mueschke and
Fleischer assert, to admire chastity or to admit that a
woman has a heart.
Another frequent objection to Vanbrugh's plays, and
one that is as old as the Collier controversy, is directed
against their irmm~orality. Modern critics in general offer
reasons for their objections different from those set forth
by Collier. Palmer, for instance, pronounces Vanbrugh's
plays immL~oral because of their failure to present a con-
sistent moral view. Instead, Palmer claims, they vacillate
between Vanbrugh's personal moral view (which considers
adultery no laughing matter and is actually closer to that
of the reformers than of the Restoration rakes), and that
of the comedies of Congreve and Wycherley (into which, in
Palmer's viewr, the moral aspects of adultery never even
entered). Thus Vanbrugh "hesitates between two kingdoms,"
and "was content to be inspired by the old theatre rather
than by the new life to which he belonged."T This split
in Vanbrughts moral outlook, Palmer maintains, deprives
the reader of a measure of moral judgment within the con-
text of the plays and sends him "for refuge to the conven-
tions of his own well-regulated life of every day. "71 And
by these conventions, Palmer claims, Vanbrugh's plays are
Walter A. Houghton follows a similar line of thought
in his essay in defense of "Lamb's Criticism of Restoration
Comedy."7 He claims that Lamb, aware of the fact that
y~checrley and Congreve wrrote from their observation of the
life of their tim-e, called Restoration comedy "artificial"
only in contrast to the "'drama of common life." To later
generations the world of Wycherley and Congreve was a never-
never-land whose moral standards were alien and thus could
not offend. Vanbrugh, precisely because he approaches the
m-oral standards of a later audience, and because he depicts
sex passionately (instead of as a casual pastime), deserves
to be charged with immorality.
Vanbrugh's most recent editor, Bonamy Dobree, pit
in the sane direction in claiming that with Vanbrugh "love is
nro longer a battle of the wits, but a struggle of desire
against conscience. lEe persons of his plays commit adultery
w~ith the full knowledge that they are acting contrary to their
owc~n morality." Dobre'e considers this "confusion of values"
on the part of Vanbrugh the cause of "an atmosphere of lasciv-
iousness" which sometimes enters into his plays. WJhile giving
Vanbrugh credit for being "full of high spirits, fun, and
frolic, Dobr/ee considers him a rather indifferent writer:
"~His plays can add nothing either to our knowledge of life
or to our aesthetic experience." Moreover, Dobree also
picks up Collier's objection to the title of Th~e Relapse,
whose main interest, he believes, centers not on Amanda, Love-
less, and Berinthia, but on the Young Fashion- Hoyden plot.
A summary of the criticism of Vanbrugh's work--even
one as admittedly incomplete as the above--leads to the con-
clusion that very little has been done to determine his
position in the canon of Restoration comedy and to provide
a valid interpretation of his plays. Other writers of the
period have fared better. But Vanbrugh has in most instances
rated no more than a condescending pat on the back, at best.
Frequently the criticism of his plays is not based on a care-
ful and objective reading. Thnus many critics allow him not
much standing as a writer, but instead praise him as a kind,
easy-going man. While such personal praise constitutes a
definite improvement over Collier, it is Vanbrugh's work,
rather than his character, that offers a legitimate sub ject
for literary scholarship and that needs and deserves more at-
tention than it has received so far.
REFERENCESS TO CHAPTER I
1Leigh Hunt apparently wras first in selecting whom
he considered the major comic writers of the Restoration in
his edition of The Drama of Wcherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh,
anid Farcquhar (London, 184). These four a-re not always con-
sidered together: some writers include Etherege; others omit
Farquhar; still others confine themselves to Etherege, Wycher-
ley, and Congreve. Yet the four chosen by Hunt (with the ad-
dition of Etherege) are most frequently encountered in works
dealing with the comic writers of the Restoration.
2This trend started with Jeremy Collier, who specif-
ically singled out Vanbrugh (although not only Vanbrugh) for
3The Complete W~orks of Sir John Vanbrug~h, Bonamy
Dobree, e. ol. Loon197,I ;heatrre-
ferred to as Works.
IArthur Sherbo, English Sentimental Drama (East
Lansing, Mvich., 1957), p. 33
Thomas Davies, Dramatic Miscellanies (1784), quoted
in Ernest Bernbaum, The Dramia of Sensibility (Gloucester,
M~ass., 1958), p. 1. Sherbo considers Davies' statement un-
uove's Last Shift or thne Fool in Fashion, in The
Dramatic Work of Colley Cibber, Esq,., vols. (Lond on, 1760 )
vol. I, p. 91. All subsequent references to the play, appear-
ing in the text, are to this edition.
Works, I, 112.
Of. David Berkeley, "The Penitent Rake in Restora-
tion Comedy," MP, XLIX(1952), 223-33.
Worthy of Vanbrugh's Relapse also belongs to this
category. His position will be discussed in detail in chap-
The First M~odern Comedies (Cambridge, Mass., 1959),
This usage appears to be common in the period,
of". Etherege, The Man of Mode, III, iii, 101.
Of. for instance, Selected Lyrics and Satires of
Johnl Wilm~ot Second Earl of Rochester, Ronald Duncan, ed.
(London, 19 d)~, p. 77.
'13Paul Parnell, "The Sentimental Mask," Restoration
Comedy: Modern Essasy in Criticism, John Loftis, edN~ew
Yor~k, 1966), p. 2dd
1 Ibid., p. 291.
1Ibid., p. 293.
?bid., p. 11.
Ibid., p. xvi.
All references to the Short View are to the third
edition (London, 1698).
2Comedy and Conscience After the Restoration (e
Y-orkr, 1949), especially chapters V andan VI.
Ibid., p. 102.
2Short View, p. 1.
23Ibid., p. $.
24Ibid., p. 80.
Ibid., p. 80.
Ibid., pp. 84-85.
Ibid., p. 124.
2Ibrid., p. 124.
0I~bid., pp. 140-41
31Vanbrugh, John. A Short Vindication of the Re-
~b~y, th Ator orks, I, 209.
32Short View, p. 209.
33 Ibdp.20 f. Bonamy Dobrie's criticism cited
Ibnid., p. 210.
3Ibid., p. 211.
3Ibid., p. 218.
3Ibid., p. 219.
3Ibid., p. 224.
O0Short View, p. 227.
4llbtid., pp. 230-21.
Ibid., p. 232.
Ibid., p. 233.
Th1e Usefulness of the Stagfe to the Happiness of
K~ankind (169) The State of Defended-Occasioned by Mr. Laws
45Comedy and Conscience, pp. 267-70.
4The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, 21 vols.,
P. P. Howe, ed. (London, 1930), vol. VI, p. 79.
I7bid., p. 80.
4The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, 7 vols.,
E. V. Ducas, ed. (London, 1903), vol. II, pp~~. 141-147.
I9bid, p. 142.
180 0With Biographical and Critical Notes, London,
2Ibid., p. Ivii.
53Th~e Complete Works of Lord Macaulay, 10 vols.,
Lady Trevelyan, ed. (Newz York, 1905)J, vol. III, p. 11 .
54Ibid., p. 120.
Adolphus W. Ward, A HistorofElihDmti
Literature to the Death of Queen Alnne, 3 vols. (London,
56b~id., pp. 478-79.
57Ibid., p. 478.
8bid., p. 478.
Here are some of the more important works in
chronological order: John Palmer, The Comedy of Manners
(L~ondon?, 1913); Allardyce Nicoll, Restoration Drama:
1660-1700 (London, 1923); Joseph Wood K~utc~h, Comedy and
Conscience After the Restoration (New York, 1924); Bonamy
Dobr-e, Restoration Comedy: 1660-1720 (London, 1924); Henry
T. E. Perry, The Comic Spirit; in Restoration Comedy (New
Haven, 1925); John Wilcox, The Relation of Moliere toRes-
toration Comedy (New York, 1936); John -H. Smith, T~he Gay
CouSIe TE Restoration Comedy (Cambridge, Mass., 19 tT; Nor-
mnan Holland, Th~e First Modern Comedies (Cambridge, Mass.,
0Dale Underwood, Etheree nthSvnenh
Century Comnedy of Manners (New Haven, 1957)
61Th~e Comic Spirit in Restoration Comedy (New York,
1925), p. 137.
62Ibid., pp. 105-6.
63Comedy and Conscience, p. 256.
6Ibid., pp. 214-19.
"S:Preciosite and the Restoration Comedy of Manners,"
HLQ, XVIII (1955), 109-28.
"The Penitent Rake," MP, XLIX,232.
Ibid., p. 233.
69A Re-Evaluation of Vanbrugh," PM~LA,XLIX (1934),
70Comedy of Manners, p. 236.
71Ibid., pp. 295-96.
72ELH, X (1943), 61-72.
73Restoration Comedy, p. 157.
7Ibid., pp. 151-52.
As the preceding chapter shows, Vanbrugh's wor~k is
dismissed by most critics as amusing but un~important. Ac-
cording to Dobree, whose comment is fairly typical, Van-
brugh "'presented life as he saw it, but he saw it no dif"-
ferently from the hundred and one people with whom he
daily mingled."1 This claim seems rather odd in view of
Vanbrughrs stated purpose in writing Ilee Relapse: the ref-
utation of Colley Cibber's view of life presented in Love's
Last Shift. Obviously Vanbrugh sawJ life differently f~rom
Cibber and those -viho received his play with "honest tears.''
The view of life presented in The Relapse is admittedly
neither new nor uniquely Vanbrug~h's: it is the view of
orthodox Christianity. But the very fact that a play like
Love's Last Shift could be written and acclaimed may also
suggest that a dramatic reiteration of the orthodox Chris-
tian view of life was in itself a justifiable undertaking.
In rejecting Cibber's optimistic and unrealistic
assertion of a "happy ever after" with which his play ends,
Vanbrugh stresses in The Relapse two important facts of
human nature: one, a victory over natural inclinations is
achieved only with considerable difficulties and sacrifices;
and, two, it cannot be considered permanent because the
battle against temptation is a continual process and every
moral victory is precarious.
For the purpose of presenting his opposition to
Cibber's view of life dramatically, Vanbrugh takes the
main characters of Love's Last Shift--Amanda, Loveless, and
Sir Novelty--and recreates their situation at the end of
Cibber's play. The introduction of a number of new charac-
ters (mabnly in the Young Fashion-Hoyden plot) and the ex-
pansioni of the scene of action enable the dramatist to
investigate the central problem of The Relapse--"lthe
Frailty of M~ankind"--as it affects various characters in
various situations, and thus to reach a more valid conclu-
sion concerning the reformation of man than Cibber did.
The problem of the "Frailty of Mankind," treated
in Th~e Relapse, is closely related to that posed by Cibber
in Lovels Last Shift: manrs dilemma when faced with oppos-
ing demands of conscience and desire. Vanbrugh, however,
intensifies the conflict by making it central to both
plots, and moreover--unwilling to accept Cibber's pat so-
lution and glib assertion of the permanence of a moral
victory--considers the duration of such a victory as an
important part of the problem of human weakness.
Even a tentative resolution of the conflict between
reason and the passions would depend to a considerable de-
gree on one's view of human nature and the end of human
existence. At Vanbrugh's time the three most influential
ideologies concerned with these questions were stoicism,
Epicureanism, and Christianity.
To appreciate the juxtaposition and interaction
of these ideologies--and to arrive at an understanding
of the meaning of Ene Relapse--the reader needs to under-
stand the concept of the Stoic and the Epicurean in the
seventeenth century. Frequently, the contemporary con-
cept; of the Stoic was not based on a careful study of the
works of the stoic philosophers.2 The main qualities
usually attributed to the Stoic were, one, that he advo-
cated the complete suppression of the passions; two, that
he was pagan; and, three, that he put complete trust in
the efficacy of human reason.3 The second of these points
applied, of course, to all ancient philosophies and their
adherents. Many of the precepts of Stoicism, however, ap-
peared to later writers not only admirable but very close
to, or even identical with, Christian thought. The "Ne-
ostoics" of the Renaissance, particularly Ju~stus Lipsius
and Guilleaume Du Vair, justified their attempts to recon-
cile stoic philosophy with Christian thought by pointing
out that "no kinde of philosophie is more profitable and
neerer approaching Christianitie (as S. Hierome saith)
then the philosophic of the Stoicks." While insisting
on the superiority of Christian doctrine to that of the
Stoics wJho, after all, were not "born and bred in the
true light of the Gospel," and rejecting such stoic pre-
cepts as are contradictory to Christian beliefs,/ both
Lipsius and Du Vair adopt almost without reservation the
stoic ideal of the rule of reason. In order to be happy,
i.e., virtuous (or wise), we need "to purge our minds of
all such passions as do arise in them, and with the smoake
of them darken and obscure the eye of reason."b Thus the
rule of reason is the cornerstone of Neostoicism as it was
of Stoicism. It is true that both Du Vair and Lipsius
make allowances for the passion evoked by witnessing the
miseries of one's fellow man. Yet, while conceding that
"w~e are not greatly to'be blamed" for suffering with others
in their miseries, Du Vair cautions against adopting "into
our selves their grieves, or to darken the cleernes of our
mindes with the smoake of their miseries."7 Lipsius, who
"was more the systematic philosopher," "carefully distin-
guishes pity from that fundamental Stoic vertue, mercy.9
The difference between pity and mercy is that the former
is "the fault of an abject and base mind, cast down at
the shew of another ~ic7 mishap," while the latter is
"an inclination of the minde to succour the necessitie or
miserie of another."1 Mercy is considered a virtue,
while pity--though possibly "incident to man's nature"--
is not considered "decent and right." Both Lipsius and
Du Vair, though professed and quite possibly sincere
Christians, through their insistence on the rule of rea-
son, bring to Christianity an austerity and harshness that
is difficult to reconcile with the concept of the cross.
As one critic of the Neostoics observes: "Le neo-sto'icism
reste tout proche d'2n Christianisme moyen, fait pour des
gens raisonnables, pour des intellectuals, qui raisonnent
tout, leur foi et les actes qui'elle leur dicte, mais qui
ni'aurant jam~ais la folie de la croix."l Thus it is the
Insistence on the rule of reason which placed the Stoic in
opposition to the Epicurean or Libertine (these two terms
wrere considered practically synonymous at the time)1 onl
one hand, and the Christian on the other. Neither the
Christian nor the Epicurean considered the total suppres-
sion of the passions possible, or even desirable, although
both advocated temperance and moderation.
'Ie generally accepted attitude toward the Epicurean,
however,, took little note of this advocacy of temperance and
mnoderation. In spite of the publication of various "apol-
ogies" Tor Epicurus and his philosophy in the latter part
of the seventeenth century,l popular opinion tended to
regard him and his followers as unmitigated sensualists.
Thomas Creech's claim that "the Wantonness of the Epicurean
is .. notorious," and his description of Lucretius as a
man "dissolved in Ease and Pleasure, flying public im-
ploymnent. . and avoiding those distractive Cares which he
imagined would make Heaven it self uneasy,"lk4 seem to be
more in keeping with the image of the Epicure than Walter
Charletones evaluation of Epicurus as "a sublime Wit, a
profound Judgment, and a great Master of Temperance, So-
briety, Continence, Fortitude and all other Virtues."l
The misunderstanding and consequent condemnation
of E~picurus and his followers may to some extent be based
on the misinterpretation of his doctrine by some of these
followers. John Evelyn seems to imply as much when he de-
fends the hedonism of Epicurus as a refined hedonism and
stresses the difference between Epicurus and "the empty
and impatient Epicures; of our age unworthyy that charac-
ter)."l6 Undoubtedly the fact that some of the most no-
torious rakes of the age professed themselves Libertines
did not advance the cause of Epicureanism. Professor
Underwood observes that the term libertine in its broadest
sense implied "little more specific than a penchant for
free thought and free inquiry--a general attitude of
scepticism toward dogma as such."l In the usage of the
Restoration, however, the term had a much more specific and
restricted meaning. In Love' s Last Shift Amanda (in the
guise of a new mistress) says to Loveless: "I own? myself
a Libertine, a mortal Foe to that dull Thing called Vir-
tue, that mere Disease of sickly Nature. Pleasure's the
En3d of Life." Her words, while possibly not a complete
definition of Libertinism, seem to describe adequately the
popular notion of the Libertine. In proclaiming pleasure
as the end of life, this type of Libertine follows Epicurus
in precept, if not in practice. While Epicurus admitted
physical pleasure, he assigned it a very minor role in the
pursuit of the happy life. Th~e Restoration Libertine, on
the other hand, elevated pleasure of the senses to the
predominant, if not the only, factor in the attainment of
happiness. I1ais total reliance on the senses led him to
a rejection of reason, on one hand, and to scepticism con-
cerning the certainty of any knowledge on the other. The
Earl of Rochester's "Satyr against Reason and Mankind" is
a typical expression of the libertine point of view. Whi~at
men commonly call reason is totally rejected as an "ignis
fatuus of the Mind." Yet, Rochester maintains, there is
another kind of reason, right reason he calls it, which
does serve a useful purpose in human conduct:
I own right Reason, Izhich I would obey;
Th~at Reason, which distinguishes by Sense,
And gives us Rules of Good and Ill from thence;
That bounds Desires with a reforming Will
To keep Run more in vigour, not to kill:
Your Reason hinders; mine helps to enjoy,
Renewing Appetites yours would destroy:
My Reason is my Friend, yours is a Cheat:
Hunger calls out, my Reason bids me eat,
Perversely yours, your App~etite does mock: 19
This asks for Food, that answers, Whates a-Clock?
Obviously Rochester's "right Reason" is as foreign to the
Stoic's reason as it is to that of the Christian. Yet in
the rejection of reason as the guide of human behavior and
to hum~an happiness, the Libertine and the Christian points
of view approach each other, albeit for different reasons
and with different conclusions. While the Libertine fol-
lows the demand of his natural inclinations--"follow Na-
ture" is almost the battle cry of the Restoration Liber-
tine--the orthodox Christian cannot accept this alternative
to the rule of reason, because nature is, after all, fallen
Hence the Chnristian takes a stand between the
Stoic and the Epicurean (as the seventeenth century saw
them): he recognizes the need of curbing the passions by
reason, but at the same time he recognizes the passions as
a part of human nature and as possible instruments for vir-
tue. Both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine consider
the passions as morally neutral per se: they become vir-
tuous or vicious only as a result of the judgment of the
will which directs them (Thlomistic), or the quality of the
love which inspires them (Augustinian). In the orthodox
Christian view, "to suppress the passions instead of grant-
ing them a reasonable expression, is to deprive the rational
powers of very valuable allies."2 Moreover, the Christian
view holds that neither human reason nor human passions are
efficacious means to the attainment of happiness or virtue.
In the first place, perfect happiness or virtue in this
world is beyond the reach of man; and, in the second, even
such happiness or virtue as is within human reach is
unattainable by natural means alone, be they reason or the
Fassions. Tae gift of divine grace (which is available to
all wh~o sincerely seek it) is necessary for the attainment
of such limited happiness or virtue as human nature can
eveir hope to reach. Thnus, for the Christian, Nature in
its fallen state, inclined toward evil as a result of
original sin, is an obstacle rather than a means to the
pursuit of the good life.22 While the passions, as a part
of fallen nature, may enforce man's sinful inclinations,
they also may, if used properly, lend to the striving for
virtue (which is synonymous with happiness) an ardor and
impetus which reason alone could not provide,
As one of the seventeenth century jr~iters concerned
with the respective roles of reason and the passions ob-
serves: the Epicureans consider sensuality the only pleas-
ure; the Stoics consider virtue the only happiness; but the
allow of no felicity but Grace. The
first submit the soul to the body, and
reduce men to the life of beasts; the
second fill the soul with arrogance,
and in the misery of their condition,
they imitate the pride of Devils; the
last acknowledge their weakness, and
finding by experience that Nature and
Reason cannot deliver them, they im-
plore aid from Grace, and undertake
not to withstand Vices, nor to acquire
Vertues, without Heaven's assistance.
The Christian, then, ultimately turns to a power outside of
himself in order to achieve the good life, while the Stoic
and Epicurean rely exclusively on qualities inherent in
Any ideology advocating the suppression or curbing
of any natural human qualities--and the Epicurean, the
Stoic, and the Christian agree in considering the passions
a part of human nature--is faced with the responsibility of
pointing out to its followers the means of achieving this
aim. In other words, the ideology has to provide its ad-
herents with rules of conduct in regard to situations tend-
ing to arouse the passions to a degree beyond that con-
sidered reasonable and feasible. The Epicurean, ancient
or s event eenth- century,di d not show much c onc ern fo r thi s
problem. True, Ericurus advocated a reasonable use of the
passions as the most successful means to the achievement of
the good life. But while he himself practiced a rather
strict austerity he did not condemn the indulgence of the
passions per se. In fact, he states that "we must not vio-
late nature but obey her, and we shall obey her if we ful-
fill the necessary desires and also the physical, if they
bring no harm to us, but sternly reject the harmful. "2 I
is easy to see how short a step it is from the point of
view expressed here to that of the Restoration Libertine
expressed in Rochester's poem quoted above.
The Stoic and the Christian, viewing the passions
as a part of man's lower nature, could not ignore the ques-
tion of temptation but had to offer their adherents a guide
to the subjection of the passions (albeit in a different de-
gree) to the rule of reason. They agree on one point: it
is wise to avoid temptations. The true Stoic sage is, it
is true, above temptations: once having submitted completely
to the rule of reason, he cannot be led astray, no matter how
strong the provocation. Only few, however, reach this ex-
alted state, and even these few reach it only gradually.2
Exnus until the ultimate goal of the Stoic is reached, he is
in a very real danger of backsliding. Consequently it is
prudent to avoid all occasions for such backsliding.
In the Christian view even the best are constantly
in danger of relapsing. Even those in a state of grace need
"to be continually in combat with dangerous temptations, .
lest sin should bring our bodies to obey it; lest our mem-
bers should be given up as weapons to sin; lest our eyes
should follow our appetite; .. lest our sight or our
thought should stay too long upon a sinful delight; ...
lest-our lust should become our law."2 Thus one is con-
stantly beset by temptations and called on to fight against
them. Therefore it would be both foolish and presumptuous
to seek out temptation. The instances in the Scriptures
cautioning man to beware of temptation are too numerous to
be cited; suffice it to point out "that Lead us not into
Temptation, is a Petition in our Prayers, which was thought
fit to be tact to that for our daily Bread."27
Recognition of the need to avoid temptation, shared
by the Christian and the Stoic, may well lead to specula-
tions concerning the most favorable conditions for the
preservation of ones virtue. Life in the relative seclu-
sion of the country seems to have been regarded tradition-
ally as more conducive to virtue than life in the city. The
tradition which contrasts the innocence of country life to
the corruption of city life was particularly alive and pop-
ular in England throughout the seventeenth century.2 Its
roots are to be found in classical antiquity, particularly
in the Odes and Epodes of Horace, the Georgics of Virgil,
the epigrams of Martial, and the satires of Juvenal. As
Miss Rdstvig points out, Horace's second Epode and the
praise of the farmer in Virgil s Georgies II may be considered
the loci classic of the ideal of rural retirement.9
Not surprisingly the classical idea of the happiness
to be found in country life underwent numerous modifications
and alterations in its transfer from the Rome of Augustus to
the England of the Stuarts.30 To trace these changes would
exceed the scope of this study as well as my abilities. For
the purpose of an explication of The Relapse it is enough to
sketch briefly the view of rural retirement generally held
at Vanbrugh's time.31 The opinions on the merits and desir-
ability of life in the country were by no means unanimous.
There were those, among them Sir William Temple and Abraham
Cowley, who praised the virtue and simplicity of country liv-
ing. While their mode of living in the country was far
removed from the simple life of Horace's happy farner, they
viewed the relative solitude of the country as the proper
setting for the pursuit of interests more in keeping with
the nature of man than the empty pleasures, the ambitious
race after wealth, fame, and preferment, which characterized
life in the town. Horace's rustic had been transformed into
an English gentleman, one who was capable of contemplating
onthe nature of things,' either alone or with likeminded
friends, and to whom the country represented a state of almost
prelapsarian bliss. The Epicuraan elements, present in
Horace's second Epode, but rather neglected by the early
English translators, became more pronounced: in some in-
stances, in fact (as in the poems of Mrs. Behn), the soli-
tude of rural retirement was viewed as especially favorable
for the indulgence in illicit sexual relationships. The
changes in the character of the retired man were accompanied
by changes in the scene of retirement: as Horacels farmer
had become the retired gentleman, so the Sabine farm had
become the garden--"Nature still, but Nature methodised."
There were, on the other hand, those who were only
too happy to exchange their exile in the country (resulting
from the political upheavals in the middle of the century)
for the pleasures and diversions of the court. The wits
surrounding Charles II viewed the country with dislike and
contempt. The plays of the period suggest the view of the
country held by the beau monde of the time: country people
are presented as either louts or fools; and a stay in the
country is one of the worst experiences for the man--or
Country life, then, was in turns viewed as conducive
to virtue, to the pursuit of the study of "'the book of na-
ture, to communion wjith the divine, and to the loss of one's
manners and sensibility (if one ever had them). The country
wjas consequently considered the seat of virtue and innocence,
a haven from the cares and turmoils of the world, or the
habitat of savages and bumpkins, the ultimate in boredom.
The conflicting views concerning the bliss or misery
of country life, as well as the conflicting views concerning
the respective roles of reason had the passions in human con-
duct all enter into The Relapse. Yet the play--even though
it has been pronounced as approaching the Ithesis play IIby
one of the most perceptive critics of Restoration comedy--
is first and foremost a very witty and highly diverting
comedy.3 To take it apart, as is necessary in order to
demonstrate the presence of the various elements discussed
above, will to some degree destroy the comic aspects of
the play. At the same time, an awareness on the part of
the reader of the presence of all these conflicting views
and elements may ultimately enhance the comedy of The Re-
laEse and acquit its author of the charge that he had
neither technique nor "clarity of thought", and that he
failed in conveying a view of life, mainly because he did
not have one.3
In the opening scene of The Relapse, Loveless seems
to assume the role of the Stoic sage. His first lines,
HowJ true is that Philosophy, which ~ays
Our Heaven is seated in our Minds,3
imply that he is an adherent of "that Philosophy." While
it is quite true that the stoic philosophy is by no means
the only one to make the claim, Loveless appears to be re-
ferring to the stoic philosophy because his following dis-
course is primarily stoic in tenor. Even his opening lines.
echo the stoic (or neo-stoic) sentiments expressed by Du
Vair and Lipsius. Du Vair, for instance, claims "that man
should be whoally happie, if his minde enjoyeth his happi-
ness," while Lipsius affirns that evils cannot be inju-
rious "'if they happen to light upon a constant settled
mrind." In his further musings on his happy state, Love-
less again seems to employ language suggestive of the stoic,
even though epicurean elements slip into his discourse. Ad-
mittedly Loveless' boasts of having conquered envy and am-
bition, and of having reduced "the raging Flame of wild
destructive Lust .. to a warm pleasing Fire of lawful
Love" (p. 19), could be made by the Christian as readily
as by the Stoic. Either would count envy as one of the
"band of these seditious passions, which so much trouble
the quiet rest of our soule"; either would reject am-
bition, since it is indicative of a faulty judgment concern-
ing the ultimate good; either would allow the "~warm pleasing
Fire of a lawful Love," and the Stoic's warning against
founding it on one's partner's youth or beauty, because
"wh12ereas this affection is founded and grounded upon such
a slipperie and running thing, it is to bee feared least
the heate thereof bee soon quenched,"39 would meet with
the Chlristian's approval. Yet Loveless' attitude appears
stoic rather than Christian because of his complete reliance
on the power of the mind. When Du Vair, in discussing the
highest good whichc, in his view, is virtue and depends on
the w~ill, i.eo, the mind, only), claims that "a ruled and
w~ell-governed will never coveteth .. but that which she
may, and wh~-ich it is in her power to procure, she busieth
not her selfe about having that which it is not in her
pow-er to have when she will; as health, riches, and honor, "40
he seems to place too much reliance on the independence of
man's wsill (or mind). Loveless commits the same error, as
he indicates when he assures Amanda of his unshakeable con-
stancy, claiming that
'tis built upon a steady Basis--
The Rock of Reason now supports my Love,
On which it stands so fix'd,
Tae rudest Hurricane of wild Desire
Would, like the Breath of a soft slumbering Babe,
Pass by, and never shake it (:p. 20).
The image of the rock is a recurrent one in stoic writings.
Extolling the supremacy of reason, Du Vair asserts that the
man who has submitted to its rule is able to defy fortune
"and remain as stable and unmovable as a rooke in the middest
of the sea." ~1 Thus in claiming the "Rockr of Reason" as
the foundation of his constancy, Loveless may suggest that
he sees himself as the stoic sage. This view is further
supported by Loveless' eagerness to expose himself to tempta-
tion in order to prove to Amanda that he is, indeed, beyond
the danger of a relapse. This assurance on the part of Love-
less may suggest that he considers himself as one wJho has
come "in sight of wisdom." Inese are the ones who are "past
the hazard of a Relapse, but they have still the grudgings
of a Disease, though they are out of the Danger of it."
This state represents the highest degree of wisdom attain-
able by man, according to Seneca. Loveless not only appears
unaware of still having "the grudgings of a Disease," he
also disregards the stoic advice to avoid temptation: ac-
cording to the Stoic, even the virtuous man, in order to
overcome his appeti te s, ought to "shun all Objects that
may put them into his Hiead again, and remind him of them."4
While all of these instances seem to indicate that
Loveless believes himself to be a Stoic, they do not prove
in any way that; he really is a Stoic. Indeed, a good part
of the comedy of The Relapse depends for its effect pre-
cisely on the discrepancy between what a man believes him-
self to be and what he really is. Thus Loveless' assumed
Stoicism, when contrasted to his actions and true foolings,
tends to make him a comic figure. From the very beginning
of the play, Loveless' remarks indicate that his assumed
stoic self-sufficiency and detachment are not as firm and
uncompromising as he would have Amanda believe (and as he
himself believes). While he exalts his conquest of the
passions, his content with Fortune, he dwells also on the
physical pleasures of his retirement: his country house is
his "little soft Retreat;" his thoughts are "unbent from all
the Cares of Life"--cares which his subsequent statement
(that he is "Eas'd from the grating Duties of Dependence")
suggests to be of a rather mundane nature; moreover, he
pronounces Amanda "the happy Cause of /iWis7 Content" (pp.
19-20).' Thus while Loveless may rest assured in his be-
lief in his stoic strength of character, the reader may
entertain some doubts concerning that strength. H-ow much
Loveless' content and happiness are still rooted in the
physical--notwithstanding his claims to the contrary--irsfur-
ther implied by his speculations concerning the after-life:
When this aspiring Soul shall take its Flight,
And drop this pond'rous Clump of Clay behind it,
It may have A~ppetites we know not of,
And Pleasures as refin'd as its Desires. (p.10)
Since to the Stoic the conquest of his appetites and desire?
is a sine qua non in his pursuit of the virtuous life, Love-
less' remark suggests his lack of self-kn~owledge. The heaven
he visualizes would be less than heaven for the Stoic. Nor
would Loveless' assertion that
The largest Boons that Heaven sees fir to grant
To Things it has decreed shall crawl on Earth
Are in the Gift of Women form'd like /Imanda7 ,
meet with the Stoic's approval.
While the Stoic would disagree writh Loveless' state-
nents because they suggest too great a dependence on exter-
nal circumstances, Amnanda is alarmed by his repeatedly ex-
pressed assurance of his unassailable virtue, his mastery
of his fate.
In sharp contrast to Loveless' prideful assertions
of superhuman achievements, Amanda continually asserts the
precariousness of human virtue, the transitoriness of human
life, and the frailty of' humma nature. While Loveless, in
the nristaken belief that he has conquered completely and
permanently the frailties of the flesh, seems to disregard
the somber and frightening aspects of death in his contom-
plations of the soul's flight, Amanda stresses the narrow
limits of human existence when she reminds him that
Wde are clad in black Mortality,
Anrd the dark Curtain of Eter~nal Night
At last must drop between us. (p. 20)
Her words not only emphasize the inability of man to master
his destiny in the face of inevitable death, but also--by
their associations and connotations--recall the Christian
tradition of mortality as a punishment for original sin.
Moreover, since man's fall from paradise and the imposition
of death upon him wrere the result of his pride, Lovelesse
display of pride suggests that he, too, will fall. Her
awareness of humaan nature leads Amanda to oppose Loveless'
eagerness to expose himself to temptation. She counters his
assurance that "the Rock of" Reason now supports /E'is7 Love"
with the observation:
Yet still 'tis safer to avoid the Storm;
The strongest Vessels, if they put to Sea,
May possibly be lost.
Would I could keep you here, in this calm
Port, forever. (pp.20-21).
Th~e image of the vessel in the stonn employed by Amanda, al-
though a common one, is rich in suggestions. On one hand it
is frequently used by the Stoics (and Neo-stoics) to demon-
strate the imperturbability of the soul of man under the
rule of reason. Thus Du Vair, extolling moral strength
under adverse conditions, expresses his opinion that "wee
are to judge him to be the skilfuller pilot in a shippe,
which can in a great tempest, amidst the raging clouds,
guide an old sea-beaten ship full of holes, whose sayles
are rent, and ropes broken."44 And Li~psius, propounding
the blessings of constancy says:
She will comfort thee and bring thee
back from the pits brinke: onely take
unto thee a good courage, steere thy
ship into this porte, where is securities
and quietnesse, a refuge and sanctuarie
against all trrmoyles and troubles:
where if thou hast once mored thy ship..
thou shalt remain unmoved: let showres,
thunders, lighteninges, and tempestes fall
round about thee, thou shalt crie boldlie
with a boude voyce, I 1ie at rest amid the
On the other hand the image of the storm-tossed ship
is emblematic of the temptations and struggles encountered
by man on his life's journey. In addition, the image may
also suggest the danger inherent in man's attempt to leave
his natural element in order to follow the call of adven-
ture or of fame an orue
The term "vessel" in the image see-ms to add to its
suggestions, particularly in view of Amanda's line immediately
following: "Forgive the Weakness of a Woman." "Vessel" in
close proximity with "Weakness" and "Woman" may recall St.
Peter's exhortation to husbands to give "honour unto the wife,
as uinto the weaker vessel" (I Peter 3:7).47 Viewed in t~his
light the image adds a dimension of dramatic irony to the
exchange between Amanda and Loveless. Her weakness is her
strength because it leads her to a recognition of the dangers
of temptations, while Loveless--whio shares in the general
wealmess of human nature--is weakest where he believes him-
self' to be strongest: in his ability to withstand temptation.
M-oreover, Lovelsss' greater weakness, resulting from his mis-
takenly assumed strength, may suggest a certain disorder in
his relationship to Amanda: if everything were as it should
be, he ought to be the stronger and wiser and she "the weaker
In their insistence on the frailty of human nature
and the precarious state of human virtue, Amanda's words
indicate her realistic view of human nature. At the same
time they also serve as an ironic comment on the common
failure of man to recognize his own shortcomings: while
Amanda very clearly recognizes Loveless' error of putting
too much trust in his virtue, she completely fails to see
later in the play that she, too, is subject to temptation
ssnd that her virtue may, indeed, be in danger.
The basic fallacy in Loveless' reasoning--and the
one which escapes kmanda's notice and to which she later
falls victiu herself--is his failure to realize that he
finds himself in the rare and fortunate situation where in-
clination and obligation coincide. He is virtuous for the
t;ime being, because he has everything he desires and has not
yet encountered a temptation which would create a conflict
between ~his duty and his desires. The same is true for
kmnanda, a fact to which Berinthia alludes later in the play,
when she says of Amanda: "I think 'tis a presumptuous Thing
in a Woman to assume the name of Vertuous, till she has
heartily hated her Husband, and been soundly in Love with
somebody else"l (:p. 55). It is equally presumptuous for Love-
less to assume the name of virtuous only because he happens
to be satisfied with things as they are.
Thus the opening scene between Loveless and Amanda
sets up the contrast between the former's pride and self-
confidence (the stoic view), and the latter's awareness of
the frailty of human nature and the insufficiency of human
reason (the Christian view). While the scene points out
the risks involved in deliberately seeking out temptation,
it also implies the dangers involved in putting too much
trust in an untried virtue. Both Amanda and Loveless find
themselves at the opening of the play in what is imaged as
an7 almost prelapsarian state of bliss; but they live in a
postlapsarian world and will be only able to reach valid
conclusions concerning their virtue when they meet a situa-
tion in which their desires and their obligations come into
conflict. Given their postlapsarian world, this confronta-
tion is inevitable. But even if they pass the test of this
confrontation successfully, this fact will not justify their
drawing any valid conclusions as to their behavior in future
confrontations. Virtue--like sin--depends ultimately on ac-
tion, and it is outside the ken of human nature to predict
such action accurately, hence the "opon end" of The Relapse
which has been frequently branded a weakness by critics.48
In view of Vanbrugh's stated purpose in The Relapse such
criticism appears unjustified. The whole problem of the
play is centered on the view of virtue as an experiential
action. Amanda's and Loveless' theories concerning their
virtue can be put into practice only when they experience
a conflict between their inclinations and obligations. At
the opening of the play, "the Fiery-Trial" of their virtue
is yet to come. Loveless is certain of victory, and Amanda
is equally certain that she could not even be tempted, be-
cause they are satisfied with the status quo.
In contrast to Amanda and Loveless, Young Fashion
has no reason to be satisfied with things as they are. H~is
situation is desperate; in fact, it is quite similar to
Loveless' situation at the beginning of Love's Last Shift.
Both have run through their inheritance; both have returned
from abroad penniless; and both are forced to cast about for
some means of repairing their fortunes. Unlike the Loveless
of Love's Last Shift, however, You~ng Pashion is not oppor-
tunely provided with a solution which not only solves his
financial difficulties, but also allows him to abandon his
libertine ways and to embrace virtue joyfully. Young Fash-
ion's first scene with Lory and the Waterman establishes his
financial need and also reveals a great deal about his
character and his attitudes. That he has good nature and
some sense of obligation is indicated by his assuming the
responsibility for Lory's keep, whom he assures: '"Yes,
Sirrah, I have my self and you to take care of still"
(p. 24). His quick solution of the problem of paying the
Waterman implies that he has experience in handling such
situations and that, moreover, he will not refrain from a
little cheat if the exigencies require it. This impression
is enhanced by Young Fashion's assertion that being a Jaco-
bite would no more prevent him from taking the Oath in order
to enter the army than his being an atheist would prevent
him from taking orders (p. 24). By opposing "!the strength
of the Conscience" to "the weakness of the Purse," Young
Fashion implies that he is aware of conflicting demands in
the life of man. Ho does not, however, make any claims that
in such a conflict the demands of conscience would win over
those of his recessities. By his own confession, he is "a
young Rake-hell, that has plaid many a Roguish trick" (p.
31) Yet w~hen Coupler offers him an opportunity to mend his
finances and take revenge on Lord Foppington, whose indif-
ference to his difficulties has angered Young Fashion, the
latter hesitates to put Coupler's plan into action. As he
tells Lory, "This is so full grown a cheat, I find I must
take pains to come up to't; I have Scruples" (]p. 31).
Nevertheless, Young Fashion is too aware of the press-
ing demands of his necessities to allow his "Conscience to
starve /E~imT," but he does resolve to make "one conclusive
Trial of /Lord FoppingtonT." If Lord Foppington is willing
to assist young Fashion, he will abandon his plan and accept
even "a modest aid." Tlis resolution gives the self-
confessed Libertine, Young Fashion, a morally superior posi-
tion to the would-be Stoic Loveless: the former does not
nearly as readily cheat his brother in the interest of his
necessities as the latter cheats his wife in the interest of
his pleasure. While Young Fashion is willing to give Lord
Foppington a chance to prove himself generous, he is pre-
pared to "subdue /Fis7 Conscience to /Eis7 Plot" if Lord
Foppington fails the test. Lord Poppington having refused
to assist him, Young Fashsion kicks conscience down stairs
and pursues Coupler's plan without any further scruples.
YozzE- Fashion's libertine attitudes are clearly displayed
in his dealings with Hoyden, Sir Tunlibelly, and their reti-
nue. He nevor leaves any doubt that he is interested in
acquiring Hoyden's money and not her person. His pretended
ardor serves only the purpose of getting Sir Tunbelly's--
and, failing this, Hoydon's--consent to a speedy marriage.
He has no illusion about Hoydents character, of whom he
observes: "This is a rare Girl, I'faith; I shall have a
fine time on't with her in London; .. But no matter,
she brings an Estate will afford me a separate Maintenance"
(p. 6-3). He is fully aware of the greed motivating Nurse
and Bull and employs it to his purpose. Yet he seems not
entirely insincere when he tells Nurse: "I did deceive you
and your young Lady, 'tis true, but I always designed to
make a very good Husband to her, and to be a very good
Friend to you. And 'tis possible in the end, she might
have found her self happier, and you richer, than ever my
Brother will make you" (p. 87). Young Fashion does not make
any promises; he only points out the obvious advantages a
marriage to him would have to Hoyden and Nurse. His skepti-
cism never changes, although he allows in the end, when he
is reunited with Hoyden, that "now perhaps the Bargain /Iyo-
tween himself and HoydenT is struck for Life" (p. 100).
In his skeptical attitude toward human nature, in his
refusal to accept traditional views, in his insistence on
giving necessity precedence over conscience, Young Fashion
presents the libertine view. His is, however, an entirely
different libertinism from that of Berinthia and Worthy on
one hand, and of Lord Foppington on the other. Young Fashion
may not be the most admirable character, but he is one that
is most understandable. In his case the conflict between
necessity and conscience is presented in an experiential
situation, and the implication is that most often necessity
will win over conscience.9 The very fact that Young Fash-
ion is aware of the conflict, however, sets him apart from
the other liber-tines in the play.
Berinthia and Worthy are Libertines of the same
kind, notwithstanding the fact; of Worthy's conversion in
Act V. Worthy resembles most closely the libertine of
earlier Restoration comedy. Berinthia's description of his
character (which is apparently accurate) marks him as a man
of sense who manipulates his affairs with a dexterity and
discretion worthy of Etherege's Dorimant. According to
Berinthia, "Men that may be called the Beaux Antipathy" and
of whom Worthy is the pattern, "have Brains, .. are in
love with their Mistress, .. take care of her Reputation,
...are decent, .. are sound, .. _And7, are M~en"~
(p. 43). Moreover, she compares Worthy to "a Back-stair Min-
ister at Court, who, whilst the reputed Favourites are saun-
tering in the Bed-chamber, is ruling the Roast in the Closet"
(p. 43). Worthy's actions confirm the correctness of Berin-
thia's estimate of him, if one considers her language in the
light of her character. Considering that, being decent
probably lies in exercising a certain discretion in carry-
ing on one's affairs; and the "love" she talks of may well
be what Worthy himself later terms "the vile, the gross de-
sires of Flesh and Blood" (p, 93). Worthy himself proclaims
himself a libertine in word and deed up to the conversion
scene. On discovering Berinthia and Loveless in the garden
(III, ii), he instantly determines to put his knowledge of
their relationship to good use: "This discovery is a lucky
one, I hope to make a happy use on't," he says (in an aside).
"Th~at Gentlewoman there is no Fool; so I shall be able to
make her understand her Interest" (p. 53). This statement
may also to some degree justify Berinthia's later rational-
ization that she had to agree to serve as Worthy's bawrd be-
cause he might have ruined her if she had refused him. As
for Berinthia's assertion that men like W~ortlhrare in love
with their mistresses, Worthy himself quite clearly indi-
cates the character of that love. Having received Berin-
thials admission of her interest in Loveless, he tells her:
"Now an I almost in love with you again. Nay, I don't kn~ow
but I might be quite so, had I made one short campaign writh
Amanda. Therefore, if you find 'twrou'd tickle your Vanity,
to bring me down once more to your Lure, e'en help me
quickly to dispatch her business, that I may have nothing
else to do, but apply myself to yours" (p. 54), Worthy's
object is quite obviously pleasure, the satisfaction of his
appetites, and hie pursues it without scruples. In view of
his intention of seducing Amanda, his though~tfulness in de-
livering himself the message of Loveless' staying out late
takes on a rather selfish appearance. His musings on the
advantages of employing "a young Bawd, and a handsome one,"
sn~d his resolution never to employ an old hag, imply that
he is by no means finished with pursuing illicit affairs,
that having had "a short Campaign" with Amanda, he will seek
pleasure elsewhere. Worthy's eager acceptance of Berinthia's
plan that he seek out Amanda at a critical moment (just after
she has received irrefutable proof of Loveless' infidelity)
further supports the libertine aspects of his character.
Even in the much discussed and much attacked conversion scene,
Worthy, in spite of his promises of a "softer Usage" of
Amanda's heart, in spite of his assertion that, could she
but see his, she would find it "sound," has still one aim
only: the seduction of Amlanda. His use of the language of
the prcivx does not indicate a change in his attitude.
Even after his conversion, he remains enough the skeptic
to wonder "how~ long this influence / f Amanda's virtue-/ will
last."' (p. 93).50 For the better part of Thne Rela-pse, then,
Worthy's attitude Is that of the libertine and the skeptic.
That Berinthia, too, belongs to the libertine camp
is clearly revealed by her dealings with Loveless and Worthy.
But, being a wJoman of sense, she succeeds in keeping up the
appearance of a woman of virtue with Amanda. Her words to
Am~anda often reveal strongly libertine tendencies, but
Berinthia removes them into the realm of fiction by assert-
ing that she is merely talkiing "!madly," but is, in truth,
"very innocent." Amanda is apparently completely convinced
of Berinthia's innrocence, but the audience is not deceived
even before Berinthia's private encounters with Loveless and
Worthy. After Amanda's remark about how marriage and widow-
hood have improved Berinthia, the latter states in an aside:
"Alack a day, there has gone more than that to improve me,
if she knew all" (p. 44). In her first private encounter
wiith Loveless, Berinthia completely drops the mask of inno-
cence when she implies that she might well be able and will-
ing to give him ease from his "distemper. Her libertine
attitude is further affirmed by her ready consent to assist
Worthy in the seduction of kmanda. Worthy's assertion that
to engage Amanda "in the Intrigue of her own" will draw at-
tention and suspicion away from Berinthia and give her a free
hand in conducting her affair with Loveless appears to be more
an inducement to assist him than her fear of exposure if she
refused him. Berinthia herself indicates this attitude when
she expresses a certain pleasure at the thought of "carrying
on another Bodies Intrigue .. /i~ecause7 it exercises al-
most all the entertaining Faculties of a Woman. For there's
employment for Hypocrisie, Invention, Deceit, Flattery, Mis-
chief, and Lying" (p. 59). Once she has accepted her role
as ":bawd," Berinthia is more inventive than Worthy in ar-
ranging for him advantageous situations with Amanda. It is
she w~ho urges him to catch Amanda at a critical moment, when
she will be most likely to comply with his advances.
Berinthia also is determined almost from the first
to have an affair with Loveless. After having discussed waith
him the symIptoms of his "distemper" (III, ii), she states:
"'iniis Man has bewitch'd me, that's certain. Well, I am
condem;n'd. .. Well, I never had but one Intrigue yet: But
I confess I long to have another. Pray Heaven it end as the
first did tho', that we may both grow weary at a time; for
'tis a-Melancholy thing for Lovers to outlive one another"
(P.93). Berinthia does not make an attempt to pretend
(even to herself) that Loveless' attraction is anything but
a purely phy-sical one. She longs to have another affair,
and he seems a most suitable partner for one. No thought
of any obligation to Amanda as her friend and hostess ever
enters her mind. To her, as to Worthy (and Loveless after
he first sees hner), pleasure is the end of life, and she
pursues it without scruples.
Lord Poppington also views pleasure as the end of
life and is in this respect a Libertine. But his is a dif-
ferent kind of libertinism from that of Worthy and Berinthia
(and Loveless in the latter part of the play). Theirs is
mostly concerned with the satisfaction of sexual desires,
while his pays little heed to these. He wants the reputa-
tion, rather than the life, of a rake, In describing the
course of his daily life, wJhich he pronounces to be "a
perpetual streak of Pleasure, that glides through such a
Variety of Entertainments .. /fsT the wisest of our
Ancestors never had the least Conception of 'em" (p. 37),
he completely omits any reference to amorous exploits. He
dwells on the pleasure of food, drink, dress, polite society,
even sleep, but not once mentions women. One might argue
that Lord Foppington is too discreet to talk about his af-
fairs, if it were not for his readiness to discuss them
when specifically asked about them by Amanda. But one gets
the impression that his so-called "amours"--if they exist
at all--occupy little of his time or thought, and his reply
to Amanda's inquiry implies that much: "As to time for my
Intrigues," he says, "I usually make Detachments of it
from my other Pleasures, according to Exigency" (p. 37)
Lord F-oppington proves by his own words that he is more in-
terested in the size of a periwig, the placement of a pocket,
than he is in his naours, and that his heart is indeed always
"a la glace." His type of Libertinsm does not require him
to "follow nature"; in fact, he is so completely artificial
that one suspects that even "the vile, the gross desires of
flesh and blood" are too natural to suit his taste.
Ehe degree to which Lord Foppington has abandoned
almost all natural instincts, except that of self-love, is
also manifested in his indifference to all others. His
refusal to assist Young Fashion appears to result from an
almost inhuLman ignorance of any moral obligation rather
thanr from ill w~ill. Th~e explanation he offers for his re-
fusal--that he is "reduc'd to that Extremity in /IWis7 Cash,
/ ~e ha(7 been forc'd to retrench in that one Article of
sweet Pawder, till (Ee7 brought it dawn to Five Guineas a
M'anth" (p. 4S)--apparently is as reasonable to him, as is
his reason for his attempt to debauch Amanda: that "she was
a Woman of an Insolent Vertue" (p. 47). He seems to see
nothing reprehensible in his admission that his Heart "cut
a Caper up to / is7 Mouth .. when / eT heard /Eis7 Father
wazs shat thro the Headn (p. 47); nor does he seem to doubt
that Young Fashion entertained the same feelings concerning
hiis ownm possible death from the wound inflicted by Loveless.
In spite of his artificiality and "refined" tastes, Lord
Poppington operates on an almost sub-human level: he is in
no danger of being tempted, because that would presuppose a
recognition of a moral norm of whose existence he is totally
unaw~are. Lord Foppin~gton's failure to be even aware of a
moral norm renders him amoral rather than immoral. But his
exorality is, in some way, the source of his happiness because
it frees him from all cares and disturbances.
None of the characters discussed above ought to be
viewed as personified abstractions, as no more than an ideol-
ogy clothed in human form. They are, most of all, representa-
tions of human beings. And while ideologies tend to set up
norms, human beings tenld to deviate from norus. That they
frequently misinterpret the ideologies whose adherents
they believe themselves to be, and equally frequently mis-
understand their own human nature, seems merely to prove
in another way the frailty of mankind, the theme of The
Just as The Relapse attacks some misconceptions
concerning human nature and the efficacy of certain ideol-
ogies for the pursuit of the good life, so it also casts
doubt on the widely (though by no means unanimously) held
notion of the country as the seat of innocence and virtue.
Vanbrugh, it is true, 'claims to have moved Ananda and Love-
less into the country when he decided to take up their story
because, as he says, "I saw but one danger in Solitude and
Retirement, and I saw a thousand in the bustle of the
World."$ If one could be sure that Vanbrugh is entirely
serious in the Short Vindication, one would have to believe
that he shared the view of country life as being conducive
to virtue. He is, however, answering Collier's attack, and
the whole tone of the Sh~ort View is frequently one of ironic
banter. Consequently his statement must be taken with a
grain of salt, particularly in view of the fact that Thie
Relapse appears to fail to support his statement of the
safety of the country.
The country seat of Amnanda and Loveless in Act I
is, indeed, presented as approaching the earthly paradise.
It is also true that Amianda and Loveless are content and
free from disturbances and temptations as long as they re-
mnain there. But while Loveless is tempted--and falls-- in
town, Amanda, also tempted, not only overcomes temptation
but also causes Worthy to rise above the desires of the
flesh, in town. Thus virtue is possible in either place.
Moreover, this is not the only aspect of The Relapse to
cast doubt on the moral advantages of country living.
The more compelling reason is the introduction of
Sir Tunbelly's country menage. Certainly the country in-
habited by Sir Tunbelly and Hoyden, Nurse and Bull, is far
removed from paradise. It is, rather, the country of the
barnyard, as is indicated by the constant use of animal
imageryi in connection with Hoyden. On first seeing Sir
Tunbelly's house, Young Fashion compares it to Noah's Ark,
designedd for the Fowls of the Alir and the Beasts of the
Field." Lory's fear that it "will prove some Inchanted
Castle" from which a "Gyant" might emerge and attack them
(p. 57) sets up a contrast between the castles of romance,
with their ogres guarding maidens in distress, and "Tummas"
with his blunderbus, guarding Hoyden, who is apparently
looked up to keep her from following the example of "the
young Greyhound Bitch" (p. 59). The country of Sir Tun-
belly's seat is anything but a source of content to Hoyden,
apparently no inducement of virtue for NTurse and Bull, no
refining influence on Sir Tunbelly.
A more glaring contrast than that between Loveless'
country house and Sir Tunbellyls estate can hardly be imag-
ined. The juxtaposition of the idealized scene of the former
and the rustic primitivism of the latter appears to destroy
the idea of virtue and innocence--or the lack of it--being
dependent on geographic location. The town need not be a
place of debauchery, as Amlanda proves, nor the country one
of purity and innocence, as Nurse, Bull, and Hoyden demon-
Ehe Relapse, then, attacks some notions concerning
hiuman behavior. It does not, however, offer a pat and ready
solution to the problem confronting man, thanks to his dual
nature, his "middle state." The one point that the play
stresses is that neither environment nor the "rule of reason"
are decisive factors, Ultimately man's actions depend on his
individual choice, but even when he knows which way he ought
to choose, he is often swayed by self-love, appetites, or
simply blindness, to make' the wrong choice. Loveless de-
liberately chooses to violate his obligations for the satis-
faction of his "appetite; Young Fashion, equally deliberately
but more justifiably, chooses to consider his necessities
first and to kick conscience down stairs. Aimanda, on the
other hand, though sorely tempted, chooses to remain true
to her principles and to deny herself the fulfillment of her
inclination. Worthy's choice in the matter is somewhat more
limited since it is, to some extent, contingent on Amanda's.
He can, and does, however, choose to submit to her condi-
tions and in doing so rises above the demands of appebibes.
Lord Foppington and Berinthia are the only major
characters in the play who escape unscathed. Yet not even
the most naive audience would assume this fact to imply
that stupidity and foppishness, complete self-centeredness
and disregard of obligations, assure happiness. Both Berin-
thia and Lord Foppington are too shallow, too much living on
the surface, to be aware of any conflict. Thus they escape
unh~-appiness, but are at the same time excluded from happi-
ness. Their attitude leaves, however, room for pleasure
which is, after all, all they want.
The way in which the problem of The Relapse is
posed implies its possible solution. The solution presupposes
a recognition of the fact that to be human means to be subject
to error, to be torn between conflicting demands, to be con-
stantly faced with choices, and to be ever unable to pre-
dict one's actions.
REFERENCES TOCHAPTER I
1Restoration ComedyI, p. 1592.
2Henry W. Sans, "Anti-Stoicism in Seventeenth-
and Eighteenth Century England, SP, XLIX (1944), 65-78.
3Ibid., p. 66.
4The Moral Philosophie of th~e Stoicks, E~nglished
by Thomas James, Rudolf Kirk, ed. (New Brunswick, N. J.,
1951), p. 45.
Lipsius, for instance, denies the stoic idea
that even God is subservient to the law of destiny. Du
Vair, although not as explicit in his rejection of the
Stoic's "Fortune," takes the same stand.
Duh Vair, Moral Philosophie, p. 62. See also
Tustu~s L~ipsius, Two Book~es of Constancie, Englished by Sir
John Stradling, Rudolf Kirk, ed. (New Brunswick, N. J.,
1939), p. 77: "rather change your owne mind wrongfully sub-
jected to affections and with~drawne from the natural ob-
bedience of his lawful Ladie, I mean REASON."
7Moral Philosophie, p. 90.
Ibid., p. 12.
Of Constancie, p. 53.
1Ibid., p. 99.
1Leontine Zanta, La Renaissance du Stoi'cism au
XVTle Sie'cle (Paris, 1914), p. j33
1Underwood, Etherege, p. 11, note 3.
13The most important "apologies" for Epicurus are:
Walter Charleton, Epicurus' Morals: Collected and Faithfully
Englished (London, 1665) John Evelyn, An Essay on the First
SBooEi ET Lu~cretius C/aru-s De Rerum Natura (London, 165)
Sir W;IillimT~emt~~7-ple, "Upo~;rn teGadn of Epicurus," in
M~iscellaniae the Second Part (London, 1692). All of these
present Epicurus as a man of virtue and moderation whose
hedonism was frequently misunderstood by his enemies as well
as his followers.
14Titus Lucretius Carus His SixBoso pcra
Philosophy: Done into English Vrewt oetidei
ti~on (onon lbd3) E"ihIlsfjaotes,"rs p. t 1 and "Life, A hr2 v; di
see also Du Vair, M"oral Philosophy, p. 47.
IEnicurus' Mvorals, "An Apology for Epicurus," no
pagination, pp. 1-2.
An Essay on the First Book of Lucretius, p. 110.
17Etherege, p. 10.
18Love's Last Shift, IV (p. 66).
19Selected Lyrics and Satires of John Wilmot 2nd
Berl of Ro~c;?-;"n;1~hestrDoal Dncned.(Lndn,198) p 76.
20For the use of the term Nature see Arthur 0. Love-
oy and George Boas, Primitivsm and Related Ideas in An-
+iuity (Baltimore, 1935), Appendix (pp. 4756, particu-
larly 31 (p. 450) and 50 (p. 453) for the Stoics; 57, 59
and 69 (pp. 454 and 456) for the Epicureans.
1Richard R. Baker, The Thomistic View of the Pas-
sions and Their Influence Upo~-~pii---~n ;the Wi~mi (NteDm,14),
p. 139. It may be noted here that Calvin, in The Institutes
of the Christian Faith, condemns "all human desires /as/
evil (Bo ICat, iii,Sect. 12). WFhile on the other
hand Th~omas Wiright, in The Passions of the Minde in Generall
(London, 1621), and J. F. Senault in Thne Use of the Passions
the Earl of M~onmouth, trans. (London, 61, regard teps
sions as instruments of virtue. The latter claims that
virtueue herself would become useless, had she no passions
either to subdue or regulate" (p. 7).
2Cf. Lovejoy and Boas, Primitivism, Appendix, 3
23Senault, Tae Use of the Passions, (3 c, r and v).
24TIhe Extant Remains of Epicurus, C. Bailey, ed.
(Oxford, 1926), p. 41.
25Roger L'Estrange, Seneca's Morals by Way of Ab-
stract (London, 1682), p. 127.
2St. Augustine, The City of God, XXII, xxiii
(Everyman ed. II. 390-91).
2VanbrughJ A Short Vindication, Works, I, 20
The development of this classical idea is traced
extensively and admirably in Maren Sofie Rdstvig's The IHappy
Man:: Studies in the M9etamorphoses of a Classical Ideal, 2
-Jols, Oslo Studies in E~nglish No. 2 (1951C), and No. 8 (1956).
All subsequent references to Miss Rdstvig's study are to vol.
I, revised second edition (New York, 1962).
29The Happy Man, p. 41.
30It reached the continent as early as the sixteenth
century, but, as Miss Rdstvig states, "literary fashions in
England lagged behind those of the Continent" (p. 13).
31Thne following discussion is based on Miss R~stvig's
study, particularly chapters I and V.
3 Cf. for instance Dorimantes and Harriet's comments
on country life in Etherege's Man of Mode (V, ii); the
"wits" estimate of Sir Wilfull in Congreve's The Way of The
33Underwood, Etherege, p. 49.
3 Dobree, "Introduction" to Works, I, xxy.
35works, I, 19. All subsequent references to The
Relapse, appearing in the text, are to this edition.
36Moral Philosophie, p. 59 (my italics).
370f Constancy, p. 180. See also Roger L'Estrange,
Seneca's MoralsE 57~ af of Abstract (London, 1682), pp. 119,
3 Du Vair, Moral Philosophie, p. 65.
39Ibid., pp. 116-17.
O0Ibid., p. 58, See also p. 80.
llIbid., p. 67.
42L'Estrange, Seneca's Morals, p. 127.
43Ibid., p. 191.
4Moral PhilosophiG, pp. 60-61.
450f co stanc p. 84.
4An emblematic picture by Otto van Veen, illustrat-
ing Horace's second Epode, shows a storm-tossed ship in the
background, while the foreground is occupied by a farmer
at work in the field. Mazny poems praising the "golden age"
also specifically include the sailing of ships as one of
the innovations that disrupt-ed man's happiness.
470ne may argue that "vessel" fits the meter, while
"ship" does not. However, the verb could easily have been
changed to fit the meter, had "ship" been used.
4For a more detailed discussion of this point, see
Chapter III below.
'That this conclusion is not necessarily true is,
of course, later demonstrated by kmanda.
SoFor a detailed discussion of the conversion scene
see Chapter III below.
1ASlihort Vindication, Works, I, 213.
THE MEANING OF THE RELAPSE
The very qualities that make The Relapse a good
play are also the ones that offer the greatest difficulties
to anl explication of the play: the movement of gentlemen
and fools, country squires and ladies, between the country
an~d the town; piling up of images fraught with allu-
sion, inversion, and allegorical significance; the language
which is at the same time religious and bawdy, philosophical
an~d mundane, allegorical and realistic. All of these com-
bine to leave the reader with a first impression of near-
chaos. Yet a close study of the play reveals that ap-
pearances are, indeed, often deceptive and that the near-
chaos is carefully ordered, with every word and every move-
ment pointing to the central action: "the fall of man...
through the defects of his nature."l
The fall of man with which The Relapse is concerned
is the repeated fall in historical time, sin. And sin, no
matter how relatively minor, is both the consequence and
the re-enactment of the original fall of man which led to
the loss of paradise. That original fall forms a back-
drop for the action of The Relapse, a backdrop vihich is
established by the movement of the play from a state of
relative innocence, through experience and temptation, to
to choice and final judgment, and by repeated verbal echoes
from~ the great epic of the fall of man, Paradise Lost.
At the opening of The Relapse Loveless and Amanda
find themselves in a state of content and happiness which
suggests almost prelapsarian bliss: both claim that they
wjish for nothing but the continuation of their present
state. But Loveless' opening lines, claiming that "our
H~eav'n is seated in M~inds," imply that his happy state is
based on a faulty premise. While man's state of mind doubt-
lessly has some bearing on his attainment of heaven, the
Christian heaven is transcendent as well as immanent and
thus exists independently from man's mind. Loveless' state-
ment, strongly suggesting the supremacy of the mind, not
only seems to invert the divine order of things according
to which it is man who is dependent on heaven, not heaven
on man, but it also suggests that Loveless may be falling
into the error of Satan, wjho expressed his claim for the
supremacy of the mind in terms similar to those employed
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
Satan soon learned the error of his statement--"Wrhich way
I flieis Hell, my self am Hell" (P IV, 75)--and so does
Loveless, Yet even in his first speech one perceives that
the "~Heaven" he enjoys in his "little soft Retreat" is less
a result of his state of mind than of a combination of for-
tunate external circumstances.
Loveless' reasoning then appears faulty from the
beginning, and since his vihole argument concerning the un-
assailability of his virtue is based on the false premise
of heaven in the mind, his fall is prepared for from the
start. Moreover, Amanda's sober reminder of man's "black
Mortality" serves to emphasize manrs fallen state and hence
to bring into relief the presumptuousness of Loveless' claim.
Yet in spite of this reminder and the reader's awareness of
Loveless' mistake in believing himself in paradise, Loveless'
life at his country house gives the illusion of at least
As the scene shifts from "Solitude and Retirement"
to "the bustle of the World," the vast gulf that separates
postlapsarian man from a state of innocence becomes more
end more apparent. Tae world of Young Fashion and Lord Pop-
pington, Berinthia and Worthy, Sir Tunbelly and Hoyden,
leaves no doubt that it is a corrupted world, ruled by want
and deceit, by debauchery and callous unconcern for others,
by greed for wealth and desire for sensuous pleasures. It
is a world of cares, and intrigues, and empty luxuries.
One of the most striking differences between the
world of Amanda's and Loveless' retirement and that of the
rendhder of the play is the quality of motion and restless-
ness that permeates the latter. While the reader is given
only a brief glance at Amranda's and Loveless' country life
(Act I, i), he still perceives a quality of restfulness
that pervades the scene. In fact, this quality is one of
the features of the scene which suggests the almost para-
disiacal character of Loveless' countryT house. Another is
the presence of only two persons, Amanda and Loveless, in
the scene. One may assume that there are servants, but
none of them enters the scene or the conversation between
Amanda and Loveless. Taus the physical setting of the
scene suggests a paradise; a man and a woman in a garden.2
As soon as Loveless' country house is left behind, an ele-
ment of restlessness enters into the play. This change in
the atmosphere of the play may be partly caused by the numb-
berr of people crowding on and off the stage in the follow-
ing scenes; partly by the change in the physical setting;
and to a considerable degree by the change in the tone
and the topics of conversation.
In Act I, ii, three people appear; Young Fashion,
Lory, and the Waterman. The setting of the scene is White-
hall, a busy place. But the most remarkable difference
between this scene and the preceding one lies in the change
of conversation. Amanda's and Loveless' exchange in Act I, i
moves on a predominantly philosophical level: they are con-
cerned with problems pertaining to the conduct of life,
with theories. In contrast, Young Fashion, Lory, and the
Waterm~an are concerned with the practices and necessities
of the world. Th~e Waterm~an asserts that "these are nimble
times. There are a great many Sharpers stirring" (p. 23).
This statement introduces the problem of man's conduct
toward his fellowmen. Young Fashion's consideration of the
Army as a means of mending his finances and Lory's objee-
tion to that plan on account of Young Fashion's being a
Jacobite, suggest warfare and the strife between factions.
All of these problems are characteristic of a fallen world
and enter in some form into The Relapse, even though the
warfare does not involve armies: it is partly a war of wits
between men, and partly a psychomachia within man.
The scene of Lord Foppington's levee, presenting
the empty pleasures and luxuries of the town, is crowded
with people and activity. Yet all the hustle and bustle of
the tradesmen, employing all their skill to create a beau,
falls short of their goal. For all their combined efforts,
Lord Foppington gets a Steenkirk with which he is "in love";
but he also gets a coat which he refuses to wear, shoes
that "pinch /i~imlexecrably," hose that make his "legs look
like a Chairman's," and a periwig that makes him resemble
"the full Moon." The whole scene with its wasted efforts,
its motion without moving anywhere, is almost emblematic
of the futility of the type of life led by Lord Foppington
and other people of quality. In spite of his frantic pursuit
of pleasure which induces him to fill every hour of the
day with activity, to consider quiet unbearable because
"'tis impossible to be quiet, without thinking: Now think-
ing is .. the greatest Fatigue in the Wrorld," Lord Fof-
pington also never gets anywhere, but remains at a stand-
still while running about. Yet to him this frantic, fruit-
less activity is one of the aspects of his life which leads
him to pronounce it "an eternal raund 00fDelight" (p. 37).
Shortly after their own arrival in town, Loveless
and kAmnda aire caught in the restlessness typical of the
other characters. Their change in attitude is indicated
by their feverish activity. Only once after their leaving
the country are Loveless and Amanda seen alone together.
Even then (Act II, i) their conversation, although in some
respects a continuation of their earlier exchange in the
country, shows some signs that the corrupting influence of
town has already affected Loveless. He tells Amanda of
his "'most harmless Entertainment" at the theater, consist-
ing in "admiring the workmanship of Nature in the Face of
a young Lady." This remark, besides indicating Loveless'
beginning corruption, also may suggest that even after
having taken his first step toward his relapse he still is
resorting to the language of the Stoic. His words echo al-
most verbatim Du Vair's, who, having warned his reader
against falling victim to that "mad and frantic passion"
which results from desiring a beautiful object, advises
that we "order our mindes in such sort, that in considering
the excellencie of beautie, we do acknowledge the cunning
workmanship of nature." Loveless, at this stage, seems
fully aware that he is merely trying to allay Amanda's
suspicions, as he explicitly states in an aside, following
Ammanda's remonstrances that his admiration of the young
lady was not as disinterested as he would have her believe.
"She has Reason on her side," he says. "I have talk'd too
much: But I must turn it off another way" (p. 3 ).
With the arrival of Berinthia, Lord Foppington,
and WJorthy on the scene, the once quiet household of Amanda
an~d Loveless becomes a scene of confusion. Berinthia's ap-
pearance accelerates Loveless' movement toward his fall;
Lcrd Foppington's impertinent attempt to debauch knanda
leads to his fight with Loveless and all the ensuing com-
motion: the screaming of the women, the arrival of the
surgeon, the call for chairmen. Ananda's reaction to Lord
Foppington's proposition appears somewhat too violent: that
she is indignant is understandable, but to resort to a slap
in the face seems too drastic a measure for a woman of the
world. Her impassioned plea for Loveless' forgiveness sug-
gests that she is aware of a breach of good taste, but it
also offers a sharp contrast to the casual attitude Loveless
and Worthy display. Loveless tells Worthy in answer to his
inquiry concerning the "w~ounded Peer": "O a ';rifle; He
wiou'd have lain with my Wife before my Face, so she oblig'd
him with a Eox o'the Ear, and I run him thro' the Body: That
was all." orthy's comment matches Loveless' tone: "Baga-
telle on all sides" (p. 4l). While it is perfectly reason-
able to view Lord Foppington's attempt on Amranda's virtue
as ridiculous, Loveless' passing it off as a trifle (even
though he fought Lord Poppington before) indicates a change
from his former high seriousness.
Henceforward a great many scenes are taken up w~ith
plotting and consequently involve a certain amount of secrecy.
Loveless' discussion with Berinthia in the garden (Act III,ii)
amounts to a tacit plot, as is suggested by their understand-
ing to keep Lovelessl "distemper" a secret from Amanda. Be-
rinthia enters into a plot with Worthy to help him "to a
short Campaign with Amanda." Young Fashion and Lory arrive
at Sir Tunbelly's house to carry out Coupler's plot and,
while there, enter into a plot with Hoyden and Nurse -to ar-
range a secret marriage between Young Fashion and Hoyden.
Back in town Young Fashion, having learned of Hoyden's mar-
riage-to his brother, works out another plot with Coupler
to secure himself the support of Nurse and Bull. These
plots involve all their participants in sins of varying de-
grees: lying, deceit, violations of obligations, betrayals
The play reaches its culmination with the "Enter-
tainment of M~usick"~ at Lord Foppington's house. Practically