Group Title: John Vanbrugh's The relapse
Title: John Vanbrugh's The Relapse
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 Material Information
Title: John Vanbrugh's The Relapse a study of its meaning
Physical Description: iii, 157 leaves. : illus. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Mayo, Marianne Elizabeth Kunerth, 1921-
Publication Date: 1968
Copyright Date: 1968
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida, 1968.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 154-156.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00097807
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000561512
oclc - 13540358
notis - ACY7446


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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



. * ii

. . 1


INTRODUCTION ................



II. THE PROBLEM.... .........



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.



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

tears. "5

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-

tle haste."

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

a harvest.

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

again. "

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
(p. 90).

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

urbanity. 21

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

'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

morally offensive.

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.


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
his attack.

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-
ter III.
The First M~odern Comedies (Cambridge, Mass., 1959),
p. 130.
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
Pamn~rhlet (1726).

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

Ch~ri stians

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

woman--of fashion.2

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 ,
(p. 20)

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.


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
(p. 451).

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 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

by Loveless:

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

approaching perfection.

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

of trust.

The play reaches its culmination with the "Enter-

tainment of M~usick"~ at Lord Foppington's house. Practically

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