Group Title: ethics of speech in the plays of William Wycherley
Title: The Ethics of speech in the plays of William Wycherley
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Title: The Ethics of speech in the plays of William Wycherley
Physical Description: v, 185 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Thompson, James Peter, 1951-
Publication Date: 1978
Copyright Date: 1978
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 172-184.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by James Peter Thompson.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098852
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 - 000071295
oclc - 04521973
notis - AAH6548


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Copyright 1978


James Peter Thompson


ABSTRACT ......................................................... iv


Notes....................................................... 31

CHAPTER TWO: DECORUM AND LOVE IN A WOOD......................... 39

Notes .................. ................................ 63


Notes............................... .... ... ................ 92


Notes............................ .... ... .................. 127


Notes................. ....................................... 159


Notes ..................................................... 170

BIBLIOGRAPHY.......................... .......................... 172

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............................................. 185

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in P'irtial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



James Peter Thompson

June 1978

Chairman: Aubrey L. Willians
Major Department: English

This stylistic and thematic study of Wycherley's language argues

that there is implicit in his plays an ethically correct manner of

speech, and, consequently, that a man's moral essence can be determined

from his words. Confirmation for my thesis is sought in seventeenth-

century devotional and courtesy writers, as well as in linguists and

rhetoricians, all of whom write with surprising frequency and urgency

of the necessity of speaking properly, decently and morally. Features

of speech, in these writers, are commonly described in ethical terms,

and "correct" often encompasses moral as well as grammatical rectitude.

In addition, after tracing the concept, "Style is the man," from its

classical sources, I also argue that the popularity of Senecan style

promoted an expressive theory of speech, identifying the speaker and

his words, and coloring those words with his essence. Changing concepts

of the nature and function of words are investigated, because such

shifts are bound to affect the ethical constraints thought to govern

speech; exactly what these writers feel a sentence can or does accom-

plish goes hand in hand with what they feel ought to be done with words.


However ambiguous words can be, and however their meanings change, most

language theorists of the period seem confident that intended meanings

are reasonably self-evident. The maintenance of such a "rectitude of

words" is the subject of much speculation, for the preservation of the

right meanings of words is perceived as the foundation of common coher-


Various aspects of the ethics of speech are examined in each of

Wycherley's four plays. In Love in a Wood, the concept of decorum is

analogous to prudence; the one is to speech what the other is to conduct,

both governing appropriate behavior. Differing ethical values in The

Gentleman Dancing-Master reflect conflicting concepts of signification,

while differing uses of figurative language suggest alternative attitudes

towards social constraints and rules in The Country Wife. The Plain-

Dealer anatomizes the concept of correctness, questioning Manly's

authority to judge and correct others' speech and action. Of partic-

ular interest in all the plays is metalanguage, because a large part of

Wycherley's dialogue consists of remarks about remarks. His characters,

for example, complete, expand, emend, or reject one another's simili-

tudes. Such passages often indicate a character's conception of what

his own words accomplish, and may reveal a tactic of expression. The

abuses of speech are also closely examined, as aberrations or rejections

of a rectitude of words. Dissimulation and deception, the ways charac-

ters mislead themselves and others, are consistently contrasted with

proper communication; a correct use of words becomes a metaphor for

cooperation, an attempt to reach, or aid, or inform another, rather

than to deceive or attack him.


Wycherley's characters congregate in French houses, St. James Park,

the New Exchange, or the Cock in Bow Street, to talk about the talk of

the town. Conversation in Restoration comedy, as Alan Roper remarks,

is often about conversation; characters relate what others have said

in order to anatomize the substance and style of such discourse. Novel's

and Olivia's exchange in The Plain-Dealer ( pp. 413-422)2 is represen-

tative of the reflexive nature of much of Wycherley's dialogue; Novel

describes the dinner he just left so he and Olivia can comment. At the

same time, Olivia and Eliza animadvert upon the present conversation;

the dialogue consists of self-referential remarks upon remarks, for

they comment upon their own and others' words.

The amount of animadversion in Restoration dialogue indicates an

extraordinary self-consciousness about speech and language; as Joan

Webber has said, the seventeenth century is "an age tremendously

conscious of its language: the individual writer, in every paragraph

he sets down, reveals his anxiety to understand the character of words."3

Her subject, the projection of self in words, is especially appropriate

for Wycherley's characters, because they are usually highly aware of

the impression they hope to create with their words, but indeed much

of the popular literature of the Restoration also exhibits a corre-

sponding self-consciousness about speech. Thus Swift's Polite

Conversations parodies a number of courtesy works that claim to teach


their reader to speak cleverly and impressively. The Mysteries of Love

and Rhetoric Revealed (London, 1658) includes whole conversations to

be used on one's mistress in the pit, the Ring, or at tea. The Art of

Complaisance, or the Means to Oblige in Conversation (London, 1673) is

a rhetoric of conversation, adapting the art of persuasion to "casual"

speech. Richard Allestree's The Government of the Tongue (Oxford, 1674)

teaches verbal prudence, while other works "Remarque" upon or "Vindi-

cate" "The Conversation of the Town."4 It may be supposed, in the light

of such works, that Restoration comedy elevates conversation to an art

form in part because much of the audience valued skilled, successful

speech. Pepys, for one, equally admires conversation on the stage and

in the pit, and often divides his attention between the two. And as

James Sutherland has argued, the verbal qualities of conversation were

also valued in written prose; the most admired Restoration prose is "a

slightly formalized variation of the conversation of a gentleman,"

characterized by ease, studied underemphasis, imperturbable nonchalance

and breeding.6

However studied or self-conscious Restoration speech may have been,

conversation has been the measure of social grace from the Symposium

to the Cocktail Party. Samuel Johnson gives a sense of the social

nature of the man by closing each of his Lives of the Poets with a

sample of the poet's conversation. But while Johnson characterizes

poets by their conversation, in Restoration or Augustan literature men

are more likely to be defined by their speech; from Mac Flecknoe to the

Dunciad, men are defined and judged by the way they use words, because

speech was thought to reveal the essence of the man, not just his social


grace. It was, in fact, during the seventeenth century, according to

the OED, that the meaning of "conversation" shifted from "living amongst

people," or "mode of Life" to its present, specialized sense of

"talk."7 In Restoration comedy, conversation is a significant part of

action. It is by use of words that man deals with other men, by words

that he projects his self, his purposes and intentions; it is by words

that he persuades others of these intentions. Speech was considered a

moral act, as well as the means of revealing and exerting the will.

Although this moral view of speech is not unique to Restoration litera-

ture, divines, moralists, scientists and poets of this period write with

a surprising frequency and urgency of the necessity of speaking properly,

decently, and morally.

Seventeenth-century prose has been the subject of much study in the

last sixty years, from all critical persuasions, but studies have

increasingly turned to historical and theoretical linguistics. Though

these studies focus on the most basic language texts of the period,

grammars and spelling books, they still ignore relevant material. As

important as language training was, it was but half of the grammar

school master's responsibility, for he was to teach religion as well as

right speaking, and his students were to learn their catechism along

with their accidents. The two subjects went hand in hand; while Lily's

grammar demonstrated how language worked, religious and moral literature

explained why it worked or ought to work. Lily defines grammar as

recte scribendi atque loquendi ars; I wish to show that recte was

understood to encompass moral as well as grammatical rightness.8


This chapter traces, therefore, the ethical aspects of speech in

conjunction with changing language theory in the seventeenth century.

Morris Croll, George Williamson, and R. F. Jones have isolated three

types of prose style, arguing that the first half of the century was

dominated by anti-Ciceronian or Senecan style, while in reaction to both

Senecan and Ciceronian style, there appeared after 1650 a "plain style"

associated with new science. All three styles have persuasive purposes,

and I will treat them in terms of rhetoric in order to avoid the

suggestion that any one style is more "rhetorical" than the others.

Because these three are always more distinctive in theory than in

practice, they are best distinguished by their dominant interest or

aim: Ciceronian oratorical style is the most openly intended to sway

an audience; Senecan essay style is designed to reflect and display

its author's mind; scientific plain style tries to efface both audience

and author in order to present its subject matter, the close descrip-

tion of natural phenomena. These three rhetoric are essentially

analogous to critical categories established by M. H. Abrams, for

Ciceronian rhetoric is "affective," Senecan is "expressive" and scien-

tific is "mimetic."10 It is not my intention to prove that Senecan

rhetoric either replaced Ciceronianism or turned into Scientific

rhetoric. I am more concerned with the relative popularity of these

three aims of discourse, aims that are perennial, and though one may

seem more popular for a time, it can never eclipse the others.

My purpose in distinguishing these three rhetorical modes is to

show how differing concepts of what can or ought to be done with words

necessarily affect the moral constraints thought to govern speech.


Further, not all aspects of these rhetoric are exclusive, and through

the century different facets of the theories shift, conflicting or

aligning with each other, often in unpredictable ways. I will argue

that Wycherley found most congenial the Senecan theory of speech, a

speech that is ethical in its essential conformity with Stoic morality.

It is also ethical in the etymological sense of "ethos": the peculiarly

Senecan and Stoic influences lie in the emphasis on the ethos or charac-

ter or essence of a man contained in and revealed by his words. Of the

three, only Senecan rhetoric is truly comfortable with the idea that

speech reveals the inner man.


The idea that men are characterized by their speech is of course

proverbial, with the first known example of speech as the image of the

mind appearing as a received opinion in Dionysius of Halicarnassus: "it

is a just and general opinion that a man's words are the images of his

mind." In the Tusculan Disputations, Cicero credits Socrates with the

analogy between speech and character: Qualis autem homo ipse esset,

talem eius isse orationem.12 The analogy is often expressed epigram-

matically, as in Quintilian, ut vivat, quemque etiam dicere, or in

Seneca, Qualis vir, talis oratio,3 and passed into Renaissance prover-
bial lore through Erasmus's Adagia.4 In Robert Greene's proverb

collection, The Royal Exchange, speech reveals the heart, significantly

indicating virtues and vices: "Ex abundantia cordis os loquitor: allud-

ing to our Olde Englishe proverbe, what the heart thinketh, the tongue

clacketh: meaning heerby, that the affections of man are known by his

speech, as favoring of wisdom or follie, of envie, as loving to backbite:

of wrath, as uttering cholcrick terms and such like."15 Such views

were commonplace, and found throughout seventeenth-century literature,

from Ben Jonson to Thomas Sprat.16 To Isaac Barrow, for example,

Speech is commonly judged the truest character of the mind,
and the surest test of inward worth, as that which dis-
closeth the hidden man of the heart, which unlocketh the
closets of the breast, which draws the soul out of her
dark recesses into open light and view, which rendereth
our thoughts visible, and our intentions palpable.
Hence Loquere, ut to videam, Speak, that I may see you,
or know what kind of man you are, is a saying which all
men, at first meeting, do in their heart direct one to
another: neither commonly doth any man require more to
ground a judgment upon concerning the worth or ability of
another, than opportunity of hearing him to discourse for
a competent time.17

As proverbial as this analogy is, it is somewhat at odds with tradi-

tional Ciceronian rhetorical theory. Consider George Puttenham's

version of style as the man:

.there be that have called stile, the image of man
[mentis character] for man is but his minde, and as his
minde is tempered and qualified, so are his speeches and
language at large, and his inward conceits by the metall
of his minded, and his manner of utterance the very warp
and woofe of his conceits, more plaine or busie and intri-
cate, or otherwise affected after the rate. Most men say
that not any one point in Phisiognomy is so certain, as
to judge a mans manners by his eye: but more assuredly
in mine opinion, by his dayly manner of speech and
ordinary writing.

There is nothing unusual here, but Puttenham adds an es'sntial qualifi-

cation: "And yet preadventure not altogether so, but that every mans

stile is for the most part according to the matter and subject of the

writer, or so ought to be, and conformable thereunto."18 If each man

had a unique, individual style, then style would be the man; the concept

of decorum, however, dictates that each man adapt his style to subject

and situation. Puttenham thus suggests the divergence between Ciceronian

and Senecan concepts of style is the man. Ciceronian rhetoric, taught

on the basis of imitation, provides a spectrum of styles designed for

public speaking; appropriating these communal styles, each orator may

speak like Cicero. Senecan rhetoric, however, places a much greater

emphasis on the uniqueness of individual style; the Senecan stylist

theoretically speaks like himself, not like Seneca.

Even though Ciceronian rhetoric is unconcerned with individuality,

it still deliberately connects speech and conduct. Thus, in order to

refute the Platonic charge that rhetoric deceives and makes the worse

seem the better case, Quintilian, following Cicero, makes virtue insepa-

rable from eloquence. Borrowing Cato's definition of the orator, vir

bonus dicendi peritus, Quintilian insists that it is the orator's duty

always "to act and speak as befits a man of honor," because "no one can

be a true orator unless he is also a good man."19 Furthermore, from

classical antiquity through the Renaissance, Ciceronian rhetoricians

described features of speech in ethical or moral terms, as in the four

Theophrastan "virtues" of style.20 Cicero writes of the orator's

"religious obligation" toward correct style, and Quintilian makes purity

of style and conduct equivalent forms of correctness. Peripatetic

philosophy, which I will shortly associate with Ciceronianism, postu-

lates an "essential identity in the principle of the virtue of style

with moral virtue."22

Where Ciceronian rhetoric provides an external model of style for

imitation, Senecan rhetoric insists that style emanates from within, a

distinction which reflects conflicting Peripatetic and Stoic attitudes

toward the community. Ciceronian rhetoric is devoted to law, politics

and government: it stresses above all civic and social responsibility.

At the opening of The Rhetoric of Alcuin and Charlemagne, the king

reminds his rhetorician, "I remember you once said that the strength of

this art [rhetoric] lay wholly in dealing with public questions."23

Senecan and Stoic theory proposes a style for philosophy, not public

oratory, a style that comes not from the community but from the soul.

Constancy, the most important of Stoic virtues, dictates that style and

conduct be consistent, as Seneca instructs his correspondent:

Philosophy teaches that he [the philosopher] should live
according to his own standards, that his life should not
be out of harmony with his words, and that, further, his
inner life should be of one hue and not out of harmony with
his activities. This, I say, is the highest duty and the
highest proof of wisdom,--that'deed and word should be equal
to himself under all conditions, and always the same.24

Ciceronian rhetoric and its corresponding Peripatetic philosophy provides

a public, communal code of style and ethics, whereas Senecan rhetoric

and its corresponding Stoic philosophy provides a private, individual

style and ethic; Ciceronian style is theoretically external, Senecan

internal. Further, the popular, public style of Ciceronianism is openly

persuasive, whereas Senecanism asserts that persuasion is a function of

the truth of its facts, not the wording of its argument's.

Ironically, Buffon's famous phrase, "Le style est l'homme meme,"

is appropriate to both views, though for different reasons. Style is

the man himself in Castiglione's Courtier or Oscar Wilde; where style

is everything, each man is an artwork, the construct of style. Con-

versely, Stoicism posits an essential self, an inner man, a soul: here


style is the man when speech and soul harmonize. Richard Lanham draws

the contrast between Ciceronianism and Senecanism in terms of two views

of self; the former denies the concept of central self, while the latter

insists upon fidelity to a central identity.25 In view of its public

responsibilities, Ciceronianism is much more concerned with the many

roles an orator must play, in contrast to the Senecan and Stoic impera-

tive to individual consistency and continuity; the Ciceronian can be a

good man in many different ways, the Senecan in only one way. The

student of Ciceronian rhetoric is taught to argue both sides of any

dispute because his science is argumentation; the function of rhetoric,

as Aristotle defines it, is simply "to find out in each case the means

of persuasion."26 The Ciceronian world view is consequently more rela-

tive and fluid than the Senecan commitment to the pursuit of absolute,

self-evident, transcendental truth. Of the Courtier Lanham writes,

"Pose, not central self, victory, not truth, pleasure, not improvement

prevail;" these are also the aims Lanham associates with the Ciceronian

orator.27 Both Cicero and Seneca are interested in truth, but theirs

are different truths. Cicero draws a distinction between Prudentia,
or practical wisdom, and Sophia, or speculative wisdom,28 and his

rhetoric would be concerned with the former, Senecan with the latter.

Their subjects differ as do rhetoric and analytics; according to

Aristotle, rhetoric deals with probable truth through commonplaces.29

The subject of Senecan inquiry is closer to analytics, that is, absolute



The contrast Cicero draws between Peripatetic and Stoic philosophy

again turns on public and private, communal and individual.30 Peripa-

tetic philosophy is the most suited to Ciceronianism because it is

based on community standards and public views; Cicero observes in

De oratore that orators are not, in contrast to philosophers, given to

arcane knowledge:

. the whole art of oratory lies open to the view, and is
concerned in some measure with the common practise, custom,
and speech of mankind, so that, whereas in all other arts
that is most excellent which is farthest removed from the
understanding and mental capacity of the untrained, in
oratory the very cardinal sin is to depart from the
language of everyday life, and the usage approved by the
sense of the community.31

Stoicism, on the other hand, committed to ideal truth, is more special-

ized, remote, technical and individualistic, if not idiosyncratic.

Anthony Le Grand, in Man Without Passion: Or, The Wise Stoic, According

to the Sentiments of Seneca (1675), writes of the "Peripateticks," who,

"leaning on the Opinion of the People," "affirmed that what was

generally received could not be faulty." On the contrary, "Truth,"

which Le Grand associates with Stoicism, "seeks not to please many."32

The point is a critical one for popular, public Ciceronian oratory, the

art designed to please many; its function, as Aristotle argues, is to

make the truths of analytics and dialectic understandable to the

untrained.33 Bacon's justification for rhetoric is similar to

Aristotle's but essentially Christian and Augustinian; if men were

perfect, persuasion would be unnecessary because they would always

respond to what is right, but because men are fallen and flawed, their

emotions must be swayed along with their reason:

Again, if the affections in themselves were pliant and
obedient to reason, it were true there should be no great
use of persuasions and insinuations to the will, more than
of naked propositions and proofs; but in regard to the
continual mutinies and seditions of the affections
Video meliora, proboque,
Deteriora sequor,
reason would become captive and servile, if eloquence of
persuasions did not practise and win the imagination from
the affections' part, and contract a confederacy between
the reason and imagination against the affections.

Where popular rhetoric is a mechanism designed to deal with the imperfec-

tions of men, Bacon writes that Stoic discourse "thought to thrust virtue

upon men by sharp disputations and conclusions, which have no sympathy
with the will of man."34 Cicero observes that "Stoic oratory is too

closely knit for a popular audience"; the language of philosophy is not

intended for instruction, and if it is not adapted to the level of the

audience, it will not be forceful enough for the moving persuasion of


Cicero records that the Stoics were notoriously hostile to his
type of rhetoric, and for obvious reasons. With their stress on the

control and mastery of emotion, Stoics necessarily found the emotional

appeal of openly persuasive rhetoric repugnant. Antonius, the more

practical orator in De oratore, says "it was rather by working upon,

than by informing, the minds of the tribunal" that he Pon his case.3

This type of claim invites the Platonic objection to the rhetoric Plato

connects with sophists: real knowledge is irrelevant to oratory when

its aim is not instruction but persuasion. In The Gorgias, Socrates'

statement that rhetoric "has no need to know the truth about things but

merely to discover a technique of persuasion," leads to the analogy


between rhetoric and other superficial skills that deal with appearance

and impression rather than real knowledge: "Sophistic is to legislation

what beautification is to gymnastics, and rhetoric is to justice what

cookery is to medicine."38 Cicero refutes this attack with the insis-

tence that eloquence must be founded upon wisdom. Crassus, Cicero's

spokesman in De oratore, claims that the true orator, "whatever the

topic that crops up to be unfolded in discourse, will speak thereon

with knowledge, method, charm and retentive memory, combining with

these qualifications a certain distinction of bearing." This orator

should command "the subtlety of a logician, the thoughts of a philoso-

pher, a diction almost poetic, a lawyer's memory, a tragedian's voice,

and the bearing almost of the consummate actor." (Under questioning,

however, Crassus admits that he is describing an impossible ideal,

and Antonius counters with the claim that only eloquence is necessary;

the forensic orator need not even have an extensive knowledge of the


The Stoic fondness for plainness is also at odds with the highly

figurative Ciceronian style, because figures can be used to darken an

argument. Seneca writes, veritas simplex oratio est, and "Besides,

speech that deals with the truth should be unadorned and plain. This

popular style has nothing to do with the truth; its aim is to impress

the common herd, to ravish heedless cars by its speed; it does not offer

itself for discussion, but snatches itself away from discussion."40

While plainness is a Stoic virtue, clarity is not, because the Stoic

speaker's ultimate responsibility is to the pursuit of truth, not to

easy comprehension. The Ciceronian orator must always answer to his


audience; where he is forced to adapt his speech to the situation, the

Stoic's speech must always be consistent if he is to have one true style

that emanates from the soul. Seneca tells Lucilius to "take'care of

the soul; for from the soul issue our thoughts, from the soul our words,

from the soul our dispositions, our expressions, and our very gait.

When the soul is sound and strong, the style is vigorous, energetic,

manly; but if the soul loses balance, down comes all the rest in

Stoic philosophy also has physical and metaphysical imperatives to

style. The Stoic theory of language is Realist; that is, words are not

arbitrary or accidental but God-given signs wherein the signifier is

naturally and inherently connected with the signified. Their concept

of the Logos extends through all features of the created world; the

Logos is the informing, divine, structural principle in all things. As

A. C. Lloyd summarizes in "Grammar and Metaphysics in the Stoa", "The

Stoics shared Heraclitus's belief that Logos was part of nature, with

the result that everything natural possessed some properties which it

possessed. But they interpreted Logos more plainly, as sounds which

signified by describing. Features of description were features of

nature, so that their [grammatical] categories were, like Aristotle's,

facts of nature."43 Meaning or signification, the conjunction of signi-

fier and signified, is neither arbitrary nor extrinsic, but the intrinsic

spark of divine presence. The misuses of speech, catechresis, solecism,

or worse, deceit, are then a denial or rejection or a tacit rebellion

against the divine principle. Every sentence uttered is informed by the

Logos, the word and reason of God, and so Montaigne can thus write

To lie is a horrible-filthy vice; and which an ancient
writer setteth forth very shamefully, when he saith,
that whosoever lieth, witnesseth that he contemneth God
and therewithall feareth men. It is impossible more
richly to represent the horror, the vilenesse and the
disorder of it: For, what can he imagine so vile, and
base, as to be a coward towards men, and a boaster towards
God? Our intelligence being only conducted by way of
the Word: Who so falsifieth the same betraieth public
society. It is the only instrument, by means wherof
our wits and our thoughts are communicated: it is the
interpretour of our soules: If that faile us we hold
our selves no more, we enter-know one another no longer.
If it deceive us, it breaketh al our commerce, and
dissolveth al bonds of our policies4 4

These contrasts between Ciceronian and Senecan, Peripatetic and

Stoic schools, are pertinent to the history of seventeenth-century

prose, for the early decades witness the predominance of a private,

personal, subjective, idiosyncratic essay style over a public, communal,

objective, oratorical style.45 A contrast illustrative of the change

may be drawn between the two extremes of Castiglione and Montaigne;

in Castiglione one makes himself, in Montaigne one is himself. The

rise of Senecan style brings a renascence of the Senecan concept of

speech as the index of the soul, and English aphorisms connecting style

and self blossom after 1590.

English interest in continental Neostoicism also began at this

time.47 Juste Lipsius's Latin Two Books of Constancy (1584) was

translated into English in 1594, and Du Vair's French Moral Philosophy

of the Stoicks (1585) was Englished in 1598. Joseph Hall, "Our English

Seneca," published his explicitly Stoical Heaven Upon Earth in 1606;

this saw print twenty-four times by 1637, and Earl Miner has shown that

the number of Stoical works published remained constant throughout the

century. Such works aimed, furthermore, to reconcile Stoicism and

Christian doctrine, adapting Stoic ethics to Christian faith and Stoic

fate to Christian Providence. Lipsius's Manuductio ad stoicam

philosophiam and Physiologia stoicorum (1604) made available the frag-

mentary Stoic teachings on ethics, physics and metaphysics; he is

particularly concerned to harmonize the Logos of the Old Stoa and the

Logos of St. John: Vides dare, hanc Naturam, Mentem esse Dei et
Rationem, uno verbo Deum.49 Seneca and Epictetus had long been

regarded as no ordinary heathens, and Etienne Gilson writes that "the

Middle Ages regarded them as precursors to Christianity and occasionally

as saints."50 Peacham thus recommends "the virtuous and divine Seneca"

for morality, the Seneca "who, for that he lived so near the times of

the apostles, and had familiar acquaintance with St. Paul (as it is

supposed by those epistles that pass under either their names) is

thought in heart to have been a Christian; and certes so it seemeth to

me, by that spirit wherewith so many rules of patience, humility,

contempt of the world are refined and exempt from the degrees of

paganism."51 Seneca, indeed, was thought a crypto-Christian through

the nineteenth century.

The Senecan revival in England produced a prose style that is, in

one form, rough and tumbling, crabbed, convoluted, paratactic, lacking

in connectives, paradoxical, sententious.52 Robert Burton, in

"Democritus to the Reader," provides the most felicitous description

and example of this style when he claims to write

in an extemporcan style, as I do commonly all other
exercises, effudi quicquod dictavit genius meus [I
poured out whatever came into my mind], out of a
confused company of notes, and writ with as small
deliberation as I do ordinarily speak, without all
affectation of big words, fustian phrases, jingling
terms, tropes, strong lines, that like Acestes' arrows
caught fire as they flew, strains of wit, brave heats,
elogies, hyperbolical exornations, elegancies, etc.,
which many so much effect. I am aquae potor [a water-
drinker], drink no wine at all, which so much improves
our modern wits, a loose, plain rude writer, ficum voco
ficum ligonem ligonem [I call a fig a fig and a spade
a spade], and as free, as loose, idem calamo quod in
mente [what my mind thinks my pen writes], I call a
spade a spade, animis haec scribo, non auribus [I
write for the mind, not the ear], I respect matter, not
words; remembering that of Cardan, verba proper res,
non res proper verba [words should minister to matter,
not vice versa], and seeking with Seneca, quid scribam,
non quem ad modum, rather what than how to write: for
as Philo thinks, "he that is conversant about matter
neglects words, and those that excel in this art of
speaking have no profound learning."

The manner conforms to Stoic theory; it is designed to express an inner

realism by following the action of the mind, and it is natural for

Burton to hold that style is the man: "It is most true, stilus virum

arguit, our style betrays us, and as hunters find their game by the

trace, so is a man's genius described by his works; multo melius ex

sermone quam lineaments de moribus hominum judicamus [we can judge a

man's character much better from his conversation than his physiognomy];

'twas old Cato's rule. I have laid myself open (I know it) in this

treatise, turned mine inside outward."53

The most perfect Renaissance expression of Senecan stylistic theory

and practice is found in Montaigne's essays. As Montaigne's subject is

the self, so his style emanates from the self; it is an exact meeting of

manner and matter. In "A Consideration Upon Cicero," he can be seen to

contrast public and politic language with the familiarity and sincerity

of his own writing:

I have naturally a comical and familiar stile: But after
a manner peculiar unto my selfe, inept in all publicke
Negotiations, answering my speech, which is altogether
close, broken and particular: I have no skill in cere-
monious letters, which have no other substance, but a faire
contexture of complimental phrases and curteous words.
I have no taste nor faculty of these tedious offers of
service and affection. I believe not so much as is said,
and am nothing pleased to say more than I believe. . I
offer my selfe but faintly and rudely to those whose I
am indeed, and present my self at least, to such as I have
most given my self. Me thinks they should read it in my
heart, and that the expression of my words, wrongeth my

In "Of Presumption," Montaigne explores the ethical implications of the

exposure of self, comparing the dissimulation necessary to the politi-

cian or courtier with his own honesty and openness. The Senecan style

and theory in Montaigne yield nothing short of an ethical imperative

toward the true and sincere language of the heart:

For, touching this new-found vertue of faining and
dissimulation, which now is so much in credit, I hate it
to the death: and of all vices, I finde none so much
witnesseth dimissenesse and baseness of heart. It is
a coward and servile humour; for a man to disguise and
hide himself under a make, and not dare to shew
himself as he is. Thereby our men address themselves
to treacherie: Being trained to utter false words, they
make no conscience to break them. A generous minde
ought not to belie his thoughts, but to make shew of
his inmost parts: Ther al is good, or at least all is

Montaigne's assumption that ethical qualities such as generosity

and baseness can be determined from a man's speech is based upon

Senecan and Stoic concepts of speech; this ethical hermeneutics of


language argues, on the one hand, that there exists a morally correct

manner of speech, and, on the other, that a man's moral essence can be

determined from his speech.


In literary histories, it is axiomatic that by the Restoration,

Senecan style was as outmoded as the witty style of preaching; the

Latinate periods of Milton, the o altitude of Browne, the "extemporean

style" of Burton, and the strong lines of Donne were superceded by some

consensus of a "modern" plain style as "polite and as fast as Marble."55

However much these changes have been exaggerated, scientific language

theory must have had a significant effect on the conception of language.

The language schemes of George Dalgarno and John Wilkins project a new

theory of signification in their attempts to forge a rigorously non-

figurative language that would resist any implication beyond literal,

denotative meaning. Yet their ambitious attempts to rectify the diffi-

culties and uncertainties inherent in discourse demonstrate how much

they, like earlier linguists, were concerned with moral aspects of

language. New scientists are, if anything, more explicit about the

ethical implications of speech. Throughout the century, to Ciceronian,

Senecan, or scientific theorist alike, the preservation of common signi-

ficance is perceived as the foundation of common coherence and under-

standing, while the subversion of the agreed meanings of words undermines

social and moral order; it is "ill governed speech," according to Isaac

Barrow, "which perverteth justice, which soweth dissentions, which

raiseth all bad passions and animosities, which embroileth the world

in seditions and factions, by which men wrong and abuse, deceive and

seduce, defame and disgrace one another."56 Though the government of

the tongue remained a prominent concern of linguistics, how scientific

theorists proposed to govern it was radically different from their

predecessors. Seventeenth-century scientific language theory is

essential to any understanding of Restoration philosophy of language,

because the schemes of Wilkins and others make explicit the writer's

most basic assumptions about the capacity and function of words.

Whether scientific plain style is an outgrowth of or a reaction

to Anti-Ciceronian style has been disputed. According to either

interpretation, the history of seventeenth-century prose style parallels

the gradual erosion of the classical and medieval curriculum of

language arts.57 According to D. C. Allen, Ciceronian, oratorical

style, based as it was on conventional wisdom, was suited to describe

the certitude of the ordered, hierarchical cosmos Ulysses traces in

Troilus and Cressida, while F. P. Wilson suggests that Senecan style

was suited to a "skeptical, tentative and self-conscious" Jacobean
age.8 Demetrius's contrast of periodic and paratactic structure

illustrates the distinction these historians draw: the former is like

the support of a vaulted dome, the latter like stones thrown in a

heap.59 Croll's connection of Senecan and scientific plain styles is

based on the Senecan rejection of the traditional wisdom of Ciceronian

oratory, the abandonment of generalities and probable truths, the

Aristotelian topics so suited to popular audiences. In other respects,

the causal connection between the two styles is, as R. F. Jones and

Robert Adolph point out, tenuous at best.60 Clarity or ease of compre-

hension is essential to scientific writing, but is of little importance

to Senecan stylists.61 Further, Bacon's plain style is designed, in

Adolph's terms, to be a "styleless style," the antithesis of the self-

revelatory Senecan style.62

Humanists and scientists alike employ the metaphor of the trivium

as the key to the door of knowledge, but the latter argue that humanists

were only interested in the key itself, and never passed into the realm

of true knowledge. Queen Elizabeth's tutor, Roger Ascham, described

the student's end as "a true choice and placing of words, a right

ordering of sentences, an easy understanding of the tongue, a readiness

to speak, a facility to write, a true judgment both of his own and

other men's doings, what tongue soever he doth use."63 Seventy years

later, these are not the skills John Dury, a follower of Comenius,

expects his pupils to master; Dury envisions a much curtailed language

curriculum in The Reformed School (London, 1651): "Whatsoever in the

teaching of Tongues doth not tend to make them a help unto Traditional

Knowledge by the manifestation of Real Truths in Sciences, is super-

fluous."64 The devaluation of the trivium reflects new scientists'

devaluation of disputation. The mastery of argumentation, in formal

disputation, is the crowning achievement of the trivium (the locus

classics is Isocrates' Antidosis, where "the power of speech allows

us to dispute, to resolve, to understand all issues").65 New science,

on the other hand, "proceeds on Trials, not on arguments."66 Glanvill

writes that the old methodology is ineffectual: disputation "runs

round in a Labyrinth of Talk, but advanceth nothing." Nullius in

Verba is the motto of the Royal Society.

The scientists reveal their most profound break with the past in

their attitude toward eloquence. In a Renaissance translation of

Isocrates' Nicholes, it is Eloquence that "reproveth and correcteth

the wicked, encourageth and imboldeth the godly, instructeth the

foolish, craveth the counsel and judgement of the wise; dissolveth

and dispatcheth all quarrells and controversies, and procureth the

knowledge of things unknowne."8 New science treats this eloquence

with contempt; even though Sprat recognizes that the persuasive techni-

ques of rhetoric cannot be abandoned, he still writes that "eloquence

ought to be banished out of all civil societies." New scientists

value a different eloquence that consciously rejects two millenia of

rhetorical technique. According to Sprat, it was the "constant

Resolution" of the Royal Society "to reject all the swellings of style:

to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men

delivered so many things, almost in an equal number of words. They

have exacted from all their members, a close, naked, natural way of

speaking: positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness:

bringing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can."69

Sprat envisions a discourse so clear that no interpretation would

be necessary, and it was dissatisfaction with the existing language

that made scientists propose a new system, a Real Character.70 Such

projectors did not condemn language, as Jones argues;1 rather, they


ambitiously sought to rectify its defects, the "fallacies and sophistrie,

through Tautologies, ambiguous words, darke sentences,"72 that man had

endured since the fall. The Real Character is a synthetic lingua

humana, the Edenic speech with which Adam named the creatures according

to their kind.7 "Return to primitive purity" suggest the attractions

of the schemes: they will lead back to the golden age of language

before the fall and confusion. In The Court of the Gentiles, Theophilus

Gale describes Adam's speech as "the first rectitude of words,"74 a

phrase which exemplifies the fundamental desire to go back to or to

forge anew the correct meanings of words, thereby eliminating verbal


Thirty-two schemes for Real Characters and/or Universal Languages

appeared in Wycherley's lifetime.75 The most elaborate, Bishop John

Wilkins' An Essay towards a Real Character and A Philosophical

Language (London, 1668), explains the psychological rational: "As

men do generally agree in the same Principle of Reason, so do they

likewise agree in the same Internal Notion or Apprehension of Things ..

So that if men should generally agree in the same way or manner of

Expression, as they do agree in the same Notion, we should then be free

from that Curse in the Confusion of Tongues, with all the unhappy

consequences of it."76 If all men think alike, and have the same

conceits or pictures in the mind, then difficulty and misunderstanding

are caused by words themselves and occur in the translation from mental

to verbal discourse. An advertisement to George Dalgarno's Ars Signorum,

entitled "News to the Whole World, of the discovery of an Universal


Character, and a new Rational Language" (1657), promises a system that

will "deliver Truth in plain and downright terms."77

Vivian Salmon separates three levels of seventeenth-century

language projects that naturally escalate from the less to the more

ambitious.78 Common writing or universal language schemes propose a

lexicon of symbols into which all languages could be translated in

order to be made mutually intelligible. Philosophic schemes organized

the lexicon into philosophical or conceptual categories, from Ramon

Lull or Aristotle. Real Characters tried to make the philosophically

organized symbols naturally or intuitively significant, on the analogy

of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Chinese ideograms or the lingua humana. The

Real Character would forge an indestructible bond between the signifier

and the signified, making misunderstanding impossible by excluding
ambiguity and choice in meaning.79 Once one word clearly and precisely

signifies one thing, language would accurately reflect the created

world. As Knowlson puts it, "Language would not only be a means of

acquiring knowledge: it would itself be knowledge."80

Realist systems were clearly more ideal than languages that

employed nominal, arbitrary signs, and the Realist ideal persisted as long

as it was believed that language, like everything else, was created and
sustained by the Logos. Bacon, who is usually thought a nominalist,

can write of the error that words are "derived and deduced by reason

and according to signification," and then turn around and write, "The

true end of knowledge . is a restitution and a reinvesting (in

great part) of man to the sovereignty and power (for whensoever



he shall be able to call the creatures by their true name he shall be

able to command them) which he had in his first state of creation."82

The lingua humana provides more than a myth of a linguistic golden

age: it offers divine sanction for a concept of a Real Character

where the signifier and the signified are perfectly conjoined. The

Real Characters were thought necessary partly out of despair of re-

covering the perfect, first speech. Unable to reach the unfallen

Realism, Thomas Urquhart intends a synthetic solution, "to plainly

setteth down the analogie, that ought to be betwixt things and words."83

Nominal, arbitrary signs are reluctantly employed because "no language

ever hitherto framed, hath observed any order relating the things


In attempting to fuse the signifier and the signified, these

systems tacitly admit the void between them. There is an ironic dis-

placement apparent here; Wilkins does not seem to believe that

communication is more dependent upon the ethics of the speaker than

upon his language itself, and scientists in general attempt to rectify

the speech perhaps because they cannot reform the speaker. Wilkins

asks us to consider "the common mischief that is done, and the many

impostures and cheats that are put upon men, under the disguise of

affected insignificant phrase."85 He goes on to blame the phrase, not

the speaker, "equivocals," not equivocation, trying to make honesty

an externally imposed phenomenon. The Real Character ultimately tries

to make truth and clarity mandatory by making deceit and ambiguity

impossible, and this constitutes a major shift from the older theory

of language. New science believes that correct and unequivocal

signification can be maintained by a mechanical device that prevents

deviation from the normative value or meaning; significance is deter-

mined and locked in by the Real Character. Responsibility is external-

ized, and the speaker is absolved when language is blamed for misunder-

standing (willful deception does not enter into scientific discussions

of language). Traditional rhetorical theory insists upon the virtue

of the speaker, holding him responsible for any misunderstanding; where

speech is the index of the mind or soul, flaws and falsity come from

within. In his attack on Alexander More, Milton expresses the older,

rhetorical concept of the speaker's responsibility, arguing that words

are neutral, and receive their ethical coloring from their speaker:

"Yet not in a word or a thing, but in you consists every vice and

obscenity. Fouler than some faun or naked satyr, by your manners you

have changed innocent words into unchaste ones."86

Scientific language theorists of the Restoration attempted to

objectify discourse by disassociating the speaker from his speech.

Where classical and Renaissance language theory drew a correspondence

between language and the mind, asserting that words signified or stood

for ideas, Restoration linguists saw a correspondence between language
and nature, claiming that words signified or stood for things. The

catch phrase, res et verbal, serves as a model for language, bringing

together as it does the signified, that which is understood, and the

signifier, that which is said; in the seventeenth century, the meaning

of res changes from concepts or ideas to things or quiddity.88


The classical meaning of res ct verba is closer to thought and speech,

not word and thing, and Swift parodies this shift in the Academy of

Lagado, where words are reified into physical objects. In Cowley's

"Ode to the Royal Society," affixed to Sprat's History, Bacon is

credited with making the signified relate to things, not thoughts:

From Words, which are but Pictures of the Thought,
(Though we our Thoughts from them perversely drew)
To Things, the Minds right Object he it brought.

If words stand for or signify things, the auditor does not need to

interpret or imagine the thoughts of the speaker. It is almost as if

scientists viewed language as a tool extrinsic to man, a tool that

would be exchanged at will as soon as a better language was invented.

In consequence, none of the scientific linguists draw the analogy

between speech and conduct or style and the man; to them speech does

not image the heart or mind, or emanate from the soul. The universal

language would function exactly the same for every speaker; it is, in

fact, designed to eliminate individual variations.

There is no evidence in Restoration scientific language theory

of the classical concept of the perfect union between word and thought;

words are no longer thoughts realized or thoughts the soul to the

words' body. Cato's adage, rem tene, verba sequentur, had exemplified

the classical vision of the harmonious marriage of matter and manner,

the most perfect expression of which occurs in De oratore:

Every speech consists of matter and words, and the words
cannot fall into place if you remove the matter, nor can
the matter have clarity if you withdraw the words. And
in my own view the great men of the past, having a wider
mental grasp, had also a far deeper insight than our
minds eye can achieve, when they asserted that all this

universe above us and below is one single whole, and is
held together by a single force and harmony of nature:
for there exists no class of things which can stand by
itself, severed from the rest, or which the rest can
dispense with and yet be able to preserve their own
force and everlasting existence.89

The sentence almost becomes an emblem of the marriage of spirit and

substance, of body and soul; the synthesis of matter and manner

illustrates a doctrine of utility, plenitude and cosmic harmony, where

everything in the universe has its place and purpose. Res, the order

of concepts, is not only uncommunicable but unimaginable without the

form and expression of words. Quintilian warns that words have no

merit save in context, and "when we praise words, we do so because

they suit the matter."90 His point, however, is not to denigrate

words, but to celebrate the rhetor's mastery of expression. The most

often repeated version of Cato's phrase is from Horace, Ars Poetica,

verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur, when the matter is in hand,

the words will not be loath to follow.91 To John Brinsley, in 1612,

Horace's words embody the very goal of education:

These three verses of Horace were worthy to be written in
letters of golde, and to be imprinted in the memories of
every one who is desirous to get the best learning. . To
attaine to this facultie, to be able to write or speak of
anie matter, and so to come to all excellent learning, the
very first and chief fountain, and that which is all in
all is to understand the matter well in the first place.
As for store of matter the writings of learned men (such
as Socrates was) will furnish you abundantly therewith.

And when you have the matter throughly in your
head, words will follow, as waters from a fountain even
almost naturally to express your mind in any tongue
which you study in any right order.92

New scientists, by contrast, sought a discourse of such "signi-

ficance, perspicuity, brevity and constant facility," that they would

not need to hunt after words and the fine placing of them.93- At the

same time, they lost the sense of the mastery of words. In Quintilian

and throughout classical and Renaissance rhetoric, words are the

servants of the thought, but words come to be regarded as rebellious

servants by Restoration scientists. In his version of rem tene, Milton

expresses all that the scientists reject; in this sentence, he displays

the mastery of words that the scientists at once seem to feel is

unnecessary but regret not having:

For me, Readers, although I cannot say that I am
utterly untrained in those rules which best
Rhetoricians have giv'n, or unacquainted with those
examples which the prime authors of eloquence have
written in any learned tongue, yet true eloquence I
find to be none, but the serious and hearty love of
truth: And that whose mind so ever is fully possest
with a fervent desire to know good things, and with
the dearest charity to infuse the knowledge of them
into others, his words (by which I can express) like
so many nimble and airy servitors trip about him at
command, and in well ordered files, as he would wish,
fall aptly into their own places.94


It is against this background of conflicting attitudes toward

language that I wish to read Wycherley's plays. Though I have described

the Ciceronian, Senecan, and scientific modes of rhetoric as antago-

nistic, on certain points they are at one, the most important of which

is the concern for the maintenance of the rectitude of words, a concern

that scientists, rhetoricians, divines and dramatists shared. This

passage from Richard Allestree is characteristic in its focus on the


righteousness of words: ". .. for tho in our depraved estimate the

Eloquence of Language is more regarded then the innocence, tho we think

our words vanish with the breath that utters them, yet they become

records in Gods Court, are laid up in his Archives as witnesses either

for or against us, that By thy words thou shalt be justified and by

thy words, thou shalt be condem'd, Mat. 12:37."95 The preceding verse

from Matthew is "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men

shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

God's attention to every idle word in the theatre of the world is

analogous to the audience's attention to words in the world of the

theatre. In either case words are to be weighed for more than amuse-

ment or eloquence: in the last act, they are evidence for judgment.

Wycherley's plays were written and performed when Allestree was the

most popular author in England; his plays reflect an age highly conscious

of the moral significance of words.

Wycherley's use of dialogue to indicate moral characteristics,

along with his suggestion that there is a morally correct manner of

speech, are based upon Senecan and Stoic concepts of speech. It does

not necessarily follow that his plays are Stoical, though he treats

Stoic subjects in his verse.96 Nor do Wycherley's plays exhibit

Senecan style, though they are often paradoxical and sententious; as

Dryden observes, such difficult and compressed prose is inappropriate

for the stage: "A poet cannot speak too plainly on the stage: for

volat irrevocabile verbum; the sense is lost if it be not taken

flying."97 Wycherley's nondramatic prose is, on the other hand,


highly Scnccan, and his verse seems to reveal a Senecan poetic (if

there is such a thing). His insistence on the ethical conformity of

speech and self informs Vincent's question in Love in a Wood, "Is this

the stile of a woman of honour," and it can be seen also in his

frequent use of the cliche, "a man is as good as his word."

Wycherley is usually regarded as a crude stylist; W. R. Chadwick,

for example, writes of the "rough texture" of Wycherley's prose, and

the best he can say is that, like Wordsworth's, Wycherley's is the
language of ordinary men. Wycherley's contemporaries, however,

praised him for his verbal characterization, and John Dennis believed

that, in this respect, The Plain-Dealer was superior to classical


For the Style of the Comedy of the Ancients, and
particularly of Terence his Comedy, does not seem to
me to be varied enough, nor proportioned enough to the
characters. The Slave in Terence speaks with the same
Elegance, and the same Grace, for the most Part, that
his Master does. But look into the Plain-Dealer, and
you shall find as many styles in it, as there are
Characters. For Manly, Freeman, Plausible, Olivia,
Novel, Elisha, and the Widow Blackacre and Jerry, have
each of them a different Dialect, which, besides the
Variety, must be farther delightful, because 'tis an
exact Imitation of Nature. For as every Man has a
Different Form of Face, he has a different Turn of Mind,
and consequently, a different Cast of Thought, and a
different Manner of Expression.99

The tag loguere ut te videam, which Wycherley himself quotes (IV, 48),

is essential to the theatre, and Ben Jonson provided for Wycherley the

most outstanding model for characterization by speech; in Discoveries,

Jonson writes that "Language most shewes a man: speaker that I may see

thee. It springs out of the most retired, and inmost part of us, and


is the Image of the Parent of it, the mind. No glasse renders a mans

forme, or likenesse, so true as his speech."00 Jonas Barish, in

Ben Jonson and the Language of Prose Comedy, observes that "Jonson's

moral and linguistic judgments coincide," and he finds the same coinci-

dence in Wycherley's most Jonsonian play, The Plain-Dealer: in the

Widow Blackacre, "Corruption of style and corruption of manners coincide

with something like Jonsonian exactness."101 In all his characters,

Wycherley observes a constant coincidence of stylistic and ethical

qualities, through a parallelism of moral and verbal conduct. Donne

had written of his text, "We consider in the words, The maner and the

matter, How it is spoken, And what is said"; in Wycherley's plays,

how it is spoken reveals as much of the moral argument as what is



1. "Language and Action in The Way of the World, Love's Last Shift
and The Relapse," ELH 40 (1973), pp. 44-69.

2. All quotations from Wycherley's plays are from Gerald Weales'
edition (Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1966), and those from
Wycherley's verse are from Works, 4 Vol., ed. Montague Summers
(1924, rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1964).

3. The Eloquent "I:" Style and Self in Seventeenth-Century Prose
(ladison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), p.. 10.

4. See Remargues on the Humours and Conversation of the Gallants of
the Town, London, 1673, and Remarks Upon Remarques: or a Vindica-
tion of the Conversation of the Town, London, 1673.

5. Pepys's admiration for Sedley's witticism is paradigmatic, in the
entry for Oct. 4, 1664. Helen McAfee, Pepys on the Restoration
Stage (1916, rpt. New York: Benjamin Blom, nd.), pp. 175-6.

6. "Restoration Prose," in Stuart and Georgian Moments, ed. Earl Miner
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), pp. 113-4.

7. See John E. Mason, Gentlefolk in the Making: Studies in Courtesy
Literature (1935, rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1971), p. 35.

8. This is the first sentence of William Lily's Brevissima Institudio,
(1567), facsimile ed. Vincent Flynn (New York: Scholars' Facsimiles,
1945), np.

9. Morris Croll, Style, Rhetoric and Rhythm, ed. J. Max Patrick and
Robert 0. Evans (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966),
pp. 7-233, George Williamson, The Senecan Amble (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1951), passim, and R. F. Jones, The Seventeenth
Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1951), pp. 10-160.
For important differences amongst these three, see pp. 19-20.

10. The Mirror and the Lamp (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953),
pp. 3-29.

11. Roman Antiquities, 7 Vol. trans. Earnest Cary, (Cambridge: Loeb
Classical Library, 1937), Vol. I, p. 5.

12. Tusculan Disputations, 5.16.47.

13. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 4 Vol., trans. H. E. Butler,
(Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1935), Vol. IV, p. 172.
Seneca, Epistuale Morales, 3 Vol., trans. Richard M. Gummere,
(Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1961), Vol. I, p. 300-1.

14. In A Dictionary of Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and
Seventeenth Centuries, Morris Tilley cites seven examples of
"Speech is the picture (index) of the mind," seven examples of
"As the man is so is his talk," and five examples of "A bird is
known by its note and a man by his talk." (Ann Arbor: University
of Michigan Press, 1950), S735, M75 and B365.

15. London, 1590. Facsimile ed. Charles Speroni, University of
California Publications in Modern Philology, Vol. 88 (1968),
Proverb #50.

16. Ben Jonson, Works, ed. Herford and Simpson, (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1947) III, 625, and Thomas Sprat, The History of the Royal
Society, facsimile ed. Jackson I. Cope and Harold Jones (St. Louis:
Washington University Press, 1958), p. 36. See also Henry Peacham,
The Complete Gentleman, ed. Virgil B. Heltzel (Ithica: Cornell
University Press, 1962), p. 54; John Hewes, A Perfect Survey of the
English Tongue (London, 1624) facsimile edition (Menston: Scolar
Press, 1972) epilogue, np.; Richard Head, Proteus Redivius: Or,
The Art of Wheedling, or Insinuation, London, 1675, p. 53.


17. Works, 3 Vol., New York, 1845. Vol. I, p. 141.

18. The Art of English Poesie (London, 1589), facsimile (Scolar Press,
1968), p. 123.

19. Quintilian, Vol. IV, p. 355, Vol. II, pp. 313-5 and I, 41, and IV,

20. George Kennedy considers the Theophrastan virtues, The Art of
Persuasion in Greece (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1963), pp. 273-284. Among the Renaissance rhetoricians who write
of the "vertues" of style are Richard Sherry, A Treatise of Schemes
and Tropes, London, 1550, facsimile ed. Herbert Hildebrant
(Gainesville: Scholar's facsimiles, 1961), p. 40; Angel Day, The
English Secretorie, London, 1586, facsimile (Scolar Press, 1967),
p. 13; Thomas Blunt, The Academy of Eloquence London, 1654,
facsimile (Scolar Press, 1971), pp. 1-46; John Barton, The Art of
Rhetorick Concisely and Completely Handled, London, 1634, "To the
Reader," np.

21. Brutus, trans. G. L. Hendrickson, (Cambridge: Loeb Classical
Library, 1952), p. 247, and Quintilian, I, 131.

22. G. L. Hendrickson, "The Peripatetic Mean of Style and the Three
Stylistic Characters," AJP XXV (1904), p. 135.

23. Trans. Wilbur Samuel Howells, (1941, rpt. New York: Russell and
Russell, 1965), p. 67. It may seem odd to oppose Stoicism with
social responsibility, especially since, by the eighteenth century,
Stoicism was regarded as the philosophy of public commitment, as
opposed to Epicureanism. There is, however, a vast difference
between Addison's Cato and Lipsius or the Old Stoa, and Wycherley's
concept of Stoicism would have been closer to Lipsius's than
Addison's. The ethics of classical Stoicism are fundamentally
self-centered; though familial and social ties have value, the
only true good is personal virtue. There is, needless to say, no
nature dependent upon grace: everything is dependent upon the
individual will. See Ludwig Edelstein, The Meaning of Stoicism
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), passim.

24. Epistles, I. 133-5.

25. Landam makes his point a little too strongly: the Ciceronian
"stylist has no central self to be true to. In the Arnoldian,
highly serious sense of self, he boasts no self at all. At his
center lurks a true Ciceronian vacuity. He feels at home in his
roles and to live must play them. When he poses, he is being
himself." The Motives of Eloquence (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1976), p. 27.

26. The Art of Rhetoric, trans. John Henry Freese, (Cambridge: Loeb
Classical Library, 1926), p. 13.

27. Lanham, pp. 47-8.

28. De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, (Cambridge: Loeb Classical
Library, 1947), p. 157, De oratore, 2 Vol., trans. E. W. Sutton
and H. Rackham, (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1948), I, 137.

29. Rhetoric, pp. 11-15.

30. De finibus, III-IV and Tusculan Disputations, IV-V; on this point,
I am indebted to Jerrold Seigel's fine discussion of Cicero,
Rhetoric and Philosophy In Renaissance Humanism (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1968), pp. 22-8.

31. De oratore, I, 11. Again, see Seigal, pp. 1-30.

32. Trans. G. R., London, 1675, "Author's Preface," np.

33. Rhetoric, pp. 19, 287 and 347.

34. The Advancement of Learning (London: Oxford University Press,
1960), pp. 169-70.

35. Brutus, pp. 103-9, and Orator, trans. H. M. Hubbell, (Cambridge:
Loeb Classical Library, 1952), pp. 353-5. Cicero's justification
of rhetoric is fundamentally different from Aristotle's,
St. Augustine's and Bacon's; he does not, like them, separate
rhetorical truths from "higher," transcendent truth, nor conse-
quently, does he rank these two types of truth hierarchically.
Rather, he fuses wisdom and eloquence, rhetoric and philosophy,
almost as if they were manner and matter: either one alone is

36. De oratore, I, 161ff, and II, 131ff.

37. II, 347.

38. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, ed., Plato: The Collected
Dialogues (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961), pp. 242 and 247.

39. De oratore, I, 49, 89-91 and 160ff.

40. Epistles, I, 331 and 365-7.

41. Croll, p. 89.

42. Epistles, II, 315.

43. A. A. Long, ed., Problems in Stoicism (London: Athlone Press,
1971), pp. 70-1.

44. John Florio, trans., Montaigne's Essayes, 3 Vol. (London: John
Dent, 1910), II, 393-4.

45. Again, see Croll, p. 61.

46. Rosalie L. Colie, Paradoxica Epidemica (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1966), p. 378.

47. My understanding of Neostoicism is indebted to Jason Lewis, Justus
Lipsius, The Philosophy of Renaissance Stoicism (New York: The
Liberal Arts Press, 1955), Rudolf Kirk, ed., Sir John Stradling,
trans., Two Books of Constancie by lustus Lipsius (New Brunswick:
Rutgers University Press, 1939) and Kirk, ed., Joseph Hall,
Heaven Upon Earth and Characters of Vertues and Vices (New Brunswick:
Rutgers University Press, 1948).

48. "Patterns of Stoicism in Thought and Prose Styles," PMLA 85, (1970),
pp. 1023-34. Though Miner's conclusions have been justly censured,
his data are nonetheless useful.

49. Quoted from Jason Lewis, Justus Lipsius, p. 125, n. 10. This work
contains a very detailed description of Lipsius's work on Stoicism.

50. The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy (New York: Scribners, 1940),
p. 190.

51. Peacham, p. 64.

52. George Williamson still provides the best analysis of Senecan
style, pp. 61-149.

53. Holbrook Jackson, ed., The Anatomy of Melancholy (1932, rpt.
New York: Random House, 1977), pp. 31-2, and 27. Burton's note
here refers to Lipsius; ut ventatores feram e vestige impresso,
virum scriptuncula.

54. Essayes, I, 267-8, and II, 373.

55. Joseph Glanvill, Plus Ultra, facsimile, ed. Jackson I. Cope,
(Gainesville: Scholars' facsimiles, 1958), p. 84.

56. Barrow, Vol. I, p. 143.

57. For the influence of Ramism on curriculum reform, see W. J. Ong,
Ramus, Method and the Decay of Dialogue (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1958), and Wilbur Samuel Howells, Logic and
Rhetoric in England, 1500-1700 (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1956), pp. 146-281.

58. F. P. Wilson, Seventeenth Century Prose (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1960), p. 12, and D. C. Allen, "Style and Certi-
tude," ELH 15 (1948), pp. 167-175: both are based on Croll's work.

59. Demetrius, On Style, trans. W. Rhys Roberts, (Cambridge:' Loeb
Classical Library, 1927), p. 307.

60. Robert Adolph provides a useful summary of the disagreements
between Croll, Jones and Williamson, The Rise of Modern Prose
Style (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1968), pp. 10-25.

61. Bacon eventually thought Senecan style was as excessive as
Ciceronian copies: "Little better is that kind of stile (yet
neither is that altogether exempt from vanity) which neer about the
same time succeeded this Copy and superfluity of speech. . it hath
been deservedly dispised, and may be set down as a distemper of
Learning, seeing it is nothing else but a hunting after words, and
fine placing of them," The Advancement of Learning and Proficience
of Learning, trans. Gilbert Wats, Oxford, 1640, p. 29. Quoted from
Croll, p. 38, n. 40.

62. Adolph, pp. 39 and 76-77.

63. The Schoolmaster, ed. Lawrence V. Ryan, (Ithaca: Cornell Univer-
sity Press, 1967), p. 14.

64. Facsimile edition (Scolar Press, 1972), p. 49.

65. Trans. George Norlin, (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1939)
p. 327.

66. History, p. 332.

67. Plus Ultra, p. 7.

68. Thomas Forest, A Perfect Looking Glass for all Estates (1580),
quoted from Donald Lemen Clark, John Milton at St. Paul's School
(1948, rpt. Hamden: Archon Books, 1964), p. 9.

69. History, p. 11, and 113.

70. I am indebted to four recent works on seventeenth-century language
theory: Murray Cohen, Sensible Words, Linguistic Practise in
England, 1640-1785, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press,
1977); Vivian Salmon, The Works of Francis Lodowick, A Study of his
Writing in the Intellectual Context of the Seventeenth Century
(London: Longman, 1972); James Knowlson, Universal Language
Schemes in England and France, 1600-1800 (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1975); Russell Fraser, The Language of Adam, On the
Limits and Systems of Discourse (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1977).

71. "Science and Language in England of the Mid-Seventeenth Century,"
in The Seventeenth Century, pp. 143-160.

72. Godfrey Goodman, The Fall of Man, 1616, p. 294. Quoted from
Beverley Sherry, "Speech in Paradise Lost," Milton Studies VIII
(1975), p. 252.

73. According to Salmon, p. 85, the phrase lingua humana comes from
Athanasium Kircher, Polygraphia, Rome, 1663.

74. Oxford, 1672, 2 Vol., Vol. I, pt. 1, p. 53.

75. Knowlson, Appendix B, pp. 224-232.

76. Facsimile (Scolar Press, 1968), p. 20. Knowlson suggests, p. 61,
that this concept derives from the Dutch Jesuit Herman Hugo,
Do prima scribendi origine, Antwerp, 1617.

77. Broadside, facsimile included in Ars Signorum, Scolar Press, 1968.

78. Salmon, pp. 12-42.

79. Typical of what Wilkins would eradicate are "Equivocals, which are
of several significations, and therefore must needs render speech
doubtful and obscure." Real Character, p. 17.

I use signifierr" and "signified," not in the specific Saussurean
sense, but in the older sense of that which conveys meaning and
that which is meant.

80. Knowlson, p. 8.

81. Knowlson, pp. 14-15, Salmon, pp. 87-98, and Fraser, pp. 142-194
demonstrate the Realist nature of these schemes. Following the
work of Francis Yates, they also indicate how dependent these
schemes are upon mysticism; there are Hermetic, Lullist, Cabalis-
tic, and Rosicrucian elements found throughout. Particularly
influential was Jacob Boehme's Signatura rerum, where the Real
essence of words and things is revealed to the adept.

82. James Spedding, et al., ed., Works, 14 Vol., (London, 1858-74),
Vol. III, pp. 400-401, and 222. Cf. the ambiguity in the goal of
Dalgarno's Didascalophus, (Oxford, 1680): "That primative and
Divine, or purely rational Sematology, taught by Almighty God,
or invented by Adam before the Fall," pp. 101-2.

83. Logopandectieson, or an Introduction to the Universal Language,
London, 1653, facsimile (Scolar Press, 1970), np.

84. Urquhart, p. 2.

85. Wilkins, dedicatory, np.

86. Don M. Wolfe, ed., Complete Prose of John Milton (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1955-), Vol. IV, pt. II, p. 743.

87. Cohen, pp. 1-42.

88. See A. C. Howell, "Res et Verba: Words and Things," ELH VIII
(1946), pp. 131-42, and Salmon, pp. 72-82.

89. II, 17-19.

90. I, 79.

91. Trans. II. R. Fairclough, (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library,
1926), pp. 476-7, I. 311. Bacon quotes this, Advancement, p. 4,
as does Peacham, p. 55.

92. John Brinsley, Ludus Literarius, London, 1612, facsimile (Scolar
Press, 1968), p. 43.

93. Wilkins, p. 443.

94. Yale Prose, Vol. I, p. 143.

95. Richard Allestree, The Government of the Tongue, Oxford, 1676,
fourth edition, p. 6.

96. "To an Unhappy, Impatient, Querelous Friend," for example, chides
the friend's lack of "constancy," while recommending the expli-
citly Stoic virtues of patience and trust in a just Providence,
III, 116-9.

97. George Watson, ed., Dryden's of Dramatic Poesy, 2 Vol. (London:
John Dent, 1962), Vol. II, p. 233.

98. W. R. Chadwick, The Four Plays of William Wycherley (The Hague:
Mouton, 1975), pp. 123 and 39.

99. Edward Miles Hooker, ed. The Critical Works of John Dennis, 2 Vol.
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1939),- I. 224-5.

100. Works, III, 625. The editors, IX, 270-2, cite Vives, De ratione
dicendi as a source.

101. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), pp. 94 and 288.

102. Janel M. Muellcr, ed., Donne's Prebend Sermons (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 74-5.


Love in a Wood (1670) was an exceptionally successful first play;

if John Dennis is to be believed, it brought Wycherley fame, a titled

mistress and recognition from the court. Today the play is dismissed

as energetic but uncontrolled; Anne Righter judges it "confusing and

centerless," and to W. R. Chadwick, it is an unsuccessfully synthesized

"melange," "a Jonsonian--Fletcherian-Shirleyan-platonic-intrigue-wit-

farce-comedy."2 Nevertheless, some of the chaos apparent in Love in a

Wood is purposive and controlled, for Wycherley finally restores order

in his intrigue plot in the process of righting inverted values. Both

formal and thematic unity, moreover, can be discerned, as in the arrange-

ment of characters in the scale of love that Rose Zimbardo has demon-

strated. My particular concern is to show how a parallel scale of

ethical and aesthetic values is revealed in the dialogue itself.

The ethics of speech can be determined by asking what types of

verbal behavior characters consider permissible, and by this I mean

not only what they feel they may say, but also what they can say. The

latter concerns what the speaker thinks he can do with words and,

further, what success his sentences meet. In this respect, the

language of deception is especially revealing and significant, because

any disparity between intent and statement provides the best opportu-

nity to investigate the tactics of expression. My first section


examines the ways characters mislead themselves and others; the second

section deals with the plot or action precipitated by lying; and the

last section questions the significance of lying in terms of the values

presented in the play.


In all of Wycherley's comedies, the language of his fools is the

most distinctive; their speech is obtrusive, conspicuously distorting

the normative modes of speech. The protagonists' speech is unexcep-

tional, appearing "natural" or "correct" compared to the exaggerated or

debased features of foolish talk. In Love in a Wood, it is Dapperwit's

speech that stands out, calling attention to itself and serving as a

false standard against which others' linguistic skills can be measured.

Bonamy Dobree finds in Dapperwit's speech alone the brilliance of the

later plays, and singles out for praise this promising exchange between

Dapperwit and Martha, when, just as they are about to elope, Dapperwit

pauses to complete a similitude:4

Martha. Let us go before my Father comes, he will soon have
the intelligence.

Dapperwit. Stay, let me think a little. (Pauses.)

Martha. What are you thinking of? you should have thought
before this time, or I should have thought rather.

Dapperwit. Peace, Peace.

Martha. What are you thinking of?

Dapperwit. I am thinking, what a Wit without vanity is like;
he is like--

Martha. You do not think we are in a public place, and may be
surpriz'd, and prevented by my Father's Scouts.

Dapperwit. What, wou'd you have me lose my thought?

Martha. You wou'd rather lose your Mistress, it seems.

Dapperwit. He is like--I think I'm a Sot to night, let me perish.

Martha. Nay, if you are so in love with your thought. (Offers
to go.)

Dapperwit. Are you so impatient to be my wife? he is like--he is
like--a Picture without Shadows, or, or--a Face without
Patches--or a Diamond without a Foyl; these are new
thoughts now, these are new.

Martha. You are wedded already to your thoughts, I see, good
night. (94).

The characteristic improprieties of Dapperwit's speech are exhibited

here in several ways. His wit is, as always, ill-timed, leading Ranger

to complain in another context, "S'death, is this a time for simili-

tudes?" (79). Martha suspects that Dapperwit's delay results from some

reluctance to marry, yet he is only searching for a vehicle to complete

his simile; the coxcomb labors to give forth typically stale similitudes.

It is this labor that draws attention to his wit and words, character-

izing him as a "Witwould."5 Exposure of the machinery of art is a sign

of crudity. Elsewhere, in his poetry, Wycherley writes of the conven-

tional aim: wisdom "plays Discretion's part,/ Since the best skill is,

to conceal one's Art" (III, 29, recalling the Latin tag, ars celare

artem).6 Dapperwit's art is marked by effort, whereas Wycherley himself

would consider a graceful ease and negligence as the sign of natural

genius. And despite his own reputation as a slow, painstaking craftsman,

Wycherley argues in "Against Industry: To a Laborious Poetaster, who

preferred Industry to Wit" that the effect of art or wit is vitiated

by obvious labor:

For Wit, to gain Esteem, like Beauty too,
Must seem, an Artful Negligence, to show;
Must, for its Fame on Nature, more rely,
Than either upon Art, or Industry. (IV, 17).

The exhausting industry of Dapperwit's wit is again seen in his repartee

with Lydia, where he admits defeat after a vain struggle to extend his

cliched conceit on the light of her countenance: "I dare not make use

again of the lustre of her face" (37).

If wit should be striking or novel, Dapperwit's belabored simili-

tudes are entirely predictable, and his auditors so expect his compari-

sons that Ranger calls him "Mr. or as" (62). The trivial nature of

Dapperwit's bon mots reflects, moreover, Wycherley's basic disassocia-

tion of wit from wisdom: this goes beyond the conventional distinction

of true and false wit, because throughout his plays and verse, Wycherley

usually uses "wit" to mean false wit. In "Upon the Folly of Wit," he

claims that the struggle for wit is inevitably foolish:

Thus Wit, as more, but less Discretion is,
Which makes it of the Praise it seeks, to miss;
Most often too, but for its seeking it,
So proves least Wisdom, as it is most Wit:

So Wit, as more 'twou'd prove it self, proves less,
By its degrading Self-conceitedness;
The Praise it seeks, to lose by seeking it,
So proves more Nonsense, as it wou'd, more Wit. (Ill, 144, 147).

It is almost as if true wit is a contradiction in terms, and therefore

does not appear in Love in a Wood; any expression that identifies itself

as "wit" or "art" is necessarily self-defeating. Dapperwit has no

conception of finesse, and his excess causes Vincent (19) and Ranger (54)

to demand that he leave off his inappropriate similitudes. The folly

of excessive wit is, indeed, a common Restoration topic; in his sermon


on wit, Barrow could be describing Dapperwit or many similar figures

in Restoration comedy:

A man of ripe age and sound judgment, for refreshment to him-
self, or in complaisance to others, may sometimes condescend
to play in this or any other harmless way: but to be fond
of it, to prosecute it with a careful or painful eagerness,
to doat and dwell upon it, to reckon it a brave or a fine
thing, a singular matter of commendation, a transcendent
accomplishment, anywise preferable to rational endowments,
or comparable to the moral excellences of our mind (to solid
knowledge, or sound wisdom, or true virtue and goodness),
this is extremely childish or brutish, and far below a man.

Wit and humor are pleasant, diverting and useful, but Barrow condemns

wit when it is profane, slanderous, or in as Dapperwit's case, excessive.

Dapperwit's foolish lingering while Martha awaits is above all

inappropriate and indecorous in the classical sense of the failure to

suit subject and style to the situation. Aristotle discusses decorum

in terms of the orator's ability to make himself credible to each partic-

ular audience, but Dapperwit is unable to fit his words to his auditor:

"now I call her Whore in plain english, she thinks I am jealous" (25).

Seneca similarly exhorts his reader to "Let the words be fitted to the

matter,"10 so that no element calls attention to itself by appearing

unsuitable or inappropriate, but it is inappropriate words that often

lead Sir Simon into difficulty: "A pox I must be using the words in

fashion though I never have any luck with 'em" (24). (In The Country

Wife, Harcourt understands that the success of his disguise as a parson

is dependent on his observation of the proper decorum, for he says, "I

must suit my Stile to my Coat" 315.)

Decorum, however, concerns more than stylistics: to Cicero, "The

universal rule, in oratory as in life, is to consider propriety."11


In his examination of Milton's decorum, Thomas Kranidas shows that it

represents a "concern for the relation of poetry to the total culture,"

and is most often "an ethical or religious problem rather than a

literary one."12 Decorum may be seen, in fact, to bridge ethical and

aesthetic concerns in an effort to harmonize all aspects of a man's

life. Quintilian shows this concern for harmony in his insistence that

a good orator always "act and speak as befits a man of honour."13 "In

short," Cinthio writes, "decorum is nothing other than the grace and

fitness of things."14 This same concern is exhibited by English

Renaissance writers; Charles Hoole urges the grammar school master "to

minde his Scholars of the true decorum of both things and words."15

George Puttenham puts it most succinctly in his chapter on "decency,"

a word, like decorum, derived from deceo, to be fitting, or seemly,

or proper; that which is decent is in keeping with accepted and expected

behavior, "And there is a decency to be observed in every man's action

as well as his speech and writing."16

Dapperwit's words and action display similar features. As Norman

Holland has observed, his name suggests the fusion of foppish behavior

and witty speech.17 Both are suspect in light of the nature of wit in

this play, for according to all internal definitions in Love in a Wood,

wit is vicious. In his taxonomy of wits, Dapperwit says that "all Wits

rail" and concludes that the end of "the true Wit . lies in damning

all but himself" (38). Even Ranger says that their duty is "to talk, cen-

sure, and speak ill of all [they] meet" (31). This essential equivalence

of wit and slander is also prevalent in Wycherley's verse, where wit is

defined as ill-natured fault-finding (III, 33 and 160). Barrow

emphasizes the danger of the mistaken identifaction of wit and slander:

When men, to raise an admiration of their wit, to please them-
selves, or gratify the humour of other men, do expose their
neighbor to scorn and contempt, making ignominious reflections
upon his person or his actions, taunting his real imperfec-
tions, or fastening imaginary ones upon him, they transgress
their duty, and abuse their wits; it is not urbanity, or
genuine facetiousness, but uncivil rudeness, or vile malignity.
To do thus, as it is the office of mean and base spirits, unfit
for any worthy or weighty employment, so it is full of in-
humanity, of iniquity, of indecency and folly.18

Gripe's attitude towards wits is ironically fitting; he calls Dapperwit

"an idle, loytering, slandering, foul-mouth'd, beggarly Wit" (108).

Joyner's description of wits' activity is similarly appropriate: they

condemn, defame, deflower, affront and break (52). Both Joyner and

Dapperwit associate wit with thoughtless and gratuitously destructive

window breaking, a practice symbolic of the malicious nature of

insulting or slanderous wit.19

If wits misuse language to slander others, their praise is para-

doxically similar. In the tavern scene, when Vincent leaves, Dapperwit

abuses him and flatters Ranger to his face. When Vincent returns and

Ranger leaves, Dapperwit abuses Ranger and praises Vincent. Praise and

blame, equally void of sincerity and meaning, become interchangeable,

because they are both designed for self-elevation.20 As Wycherley

explains in the dedication to the play, praise springs from vanity:

poets "but begin praise to others, which concludes in themselves. .

they offer Laurel and Incense to their Hero's, but wear it themselves,

and perfume themselves" (6). The self-interest of praise is evident

when Joyner and Gripe try to out-flatter each other.21 Their


stichomythic praise of each other is so echoic and indistinguishable

they could be speaking into mirrors, and their flattery is also so

exaggerated and ambiguous that Weales terms it "lightly masked insult"

(12n). There is, in fact, little distinction, because, in Pope's

version of the commonplace, "Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise."

The self-interest of praise is most pointed in Sir Simon, who, disguised

as Jonas, praises Sir Simon: "faith, 'tis a pretty jest; while I am

with her, and praising my self to her, at no ordinary rate" (61). The

other person praised is patently a fiction, and Sir Simon is literally

praising himself. As insult of another is really praise of self, so

praise of another is really reflective of self. The purpose of communi-

cation with another is lost or subverted as the language becomes an

entirely self-referential tool of vanity. Like the characters wandering

in the dark of Act Five, they end up talking of and to themselves.

Dapperwit recognizes the self-interest of wit, as is clear from

his similitude, "you can no more find a man of wit without vanity, than

a fine woman without affectation" (94). He then presents a double

indecorum; as his overly figurative style is excessive, inappropriate

and indecorous, so the substance of his remarks is indecorous, for

self-praise is always improper. Demetrius remarks that the style of

boasting and boasting itself are inherently inappropriate: "There is a

sort of general analogy between imposture and frigidity [of style].

The impostor boasts, facts not withstanding, that qualities belong to

him which do not. In like manner, also, the writer who invests trifles

with pomp resembles one who gives himself airs about trifles."22

Dapperwit's foppish self-satisfaction and foolish witty style are

perfectly analogous; they are trifles invested with pomp. He presents

himself as a man of parts when he is a fool, while his words suggest

weighty thought when they are nonsense. In Dapperwit, style is the man:

he is a trifle dressed with pomp.

It is a short step from Dapperwit's self-deception to the actively

and intentionally false facade that Lady Flippant presents when she

images herself as a walking false signifier: "'Tis well known, no Woman

breathing could use more Industry to get her a Husband than I have; Has

not my Husband's Scutcheon walked as much ground as the Citizens Signs

since the Fire, that no Quarter of the Town might be ignorant of the

Widow Flippant" (10). Flippant's clapboard advertizes her as a rich

widow, uninterested in remarriage, whereas actually she is impoverished

and anxious to remarry. The Widow does not endeavour to deceive about

her reluctance to marry; indeed, she wants her availability known. But

her "wealth," however, is a lying claim, and, in the words of Robert

South, is "an outward signification of something contrary to, or, at

least beside the inward Sense of the Mind."23

Distinctions of this sort, in the seventeenth century, frequently

became casuistical. Bacon thus distinguishes between a type of dissimu-

lation that withholds truth, a dissimulation that leads others astray,

and simulation which actively deceives.24 Lady Flippant's impression

of wealth falls somewhere between the second and third levels. In fact,

most of the deception in this play similarly encourages others to


misinterpret. Like the equivocal constructions that Wilkins condemned,

the language of deception is largely dependent upon the natural ambi-

guity of the "sign." "Sign" is a complex word in Wycherley, particularly

in The Country Wife, where Horner is "the Sign of a Man" (267). In Love

in a Wood the word is used nine times, as in Sir Simon's defense of

himself: "that he [Sir Simon] is not married, is a sign of his Wit"

(77). Every "sign" in the play is, like this one, false in itself, or

misinterpreted. Like the shop signs in which Pinchwife reads his own

horns, Wycherley's sign is a tabula rasa in which characters read what

they want.

Wycherley's characters try to exploit similar properties of words

as signs when they speak ambiguously, hoping to entrap their listener

in any one of their possible meanings. Flippant tries to engage Ranger

in this manner, but she cannot quite master her words. She wants her

reputation for aversion to marriage understood as coyness, but Ranger

refuses to understand:

Flippant. ...Sir, pray tell me is your aversion to marriage real?

Ranger. As real as yours.

Flippant. If it were no more real than mine. [Aside.)

Ranger. Your Servant, Madam.

Flippant. But do you hate marriage certainly? (Plucks him back.)

Ranger. Certainly.

Flippant. Come, I cannot believe it, you dissemble it, only
because I pretend it.

Ranger. Do you but pretend it, Madam?

Flippant. I shall discover my self--- (Aside.) I mean,
because I hold against it, you do the same in compliance.


Flippant expects her language simultaneously to conceal and reveal her

intentions, but her message is too dependent upon her auditor, and

Ranger rejects her intimations, willfully interpreting her Words


When the refusal to understand meets the refusal to be understood,

communication comes to a complete standstill, as in the following

exchange between Ranger and Lydia:

Ranger. [The reason] I did not wait on you was, my apprehension,
you were gone to the Park, notwithstanding your promise
to the contrary.

Lydia. Therefore, you went to the Park, to visit me there, not-
withstanding your promise to the contrary.

Ranger. Who, I at the Park? when I had promised to wait upon you
at your Lodging; but were you at the Park, Madam?

Lydia. Who, I at the Park? when I had promised to wait for you at
home; I was no more at the Park than you were; were you
at the park? (68).

Both are lying and each knows the other is lying, but is unsure to what

extent; Lydia knows that Ranger was at the Park, but she is unsure

whether he knows that she knows, and Ranger knows he was at the park

but is unsure whether Lydia knows. They each expect their words to

conceal their own guilt and still elicit a revealing response. But this

verbal sparring only produces echoes of their own words, reminding us

of the indistinguishable compliments Gripe and Joyner exchange; again,

Lydia and Ranger could be speaking into mirrors, for question and

response are identical. Communication is frustrated as the words become

less meaningful with each repetition; the conversation stagnates, unable

to move beyond the repeated phrases, and confusion has replaced

enlightenment as the end of speech.


Double meanings and implications are lost when one or both of the

participants is uncooperative; in the first case, Ranger is unreceptive

to Flippant's attractions, and in the second, Lydia and Ranger refuse to

understand and to be understood. The most extreme example of such

refusals occurs between Christina and Ranger; while she refuses to

accept his implied message, he refuses to accept her apparent message:

Ranger. Madam, I understand you--- (Apart to Christina.)

Christina. Sir, I do not understand you.

Ranger. You wou'd not be known to Mr. Vincent.

Christina. 'Tis your acquaintance I wou'd avoid.

Ranger. Dull Brute, that I was, to bring her hither: (Aside.)
I have found my error, Madam; give me but a new appoint-
ment, where I may meet you by and by, and straight I will
withdraw, as If I knew you not. (Softly to her.)

Christina. Why, do you know me?

Ranger. I must not own it. (Aside.)
No, Madam, but--- (Offers to whisper.)

Christina. Whispering, Sir, argues an old acquaintance; but I
have not the vanity to be thought of yours, and resolve
you shall never have the disparagement of mine. (88).

The drama here is played out in the stage directions; the asides and

whispers signify the illicit nature of Ranger's message, a message

Christina refuses to accept. She diverts his private message to public

knowledge, making explicit what Ranger tries to keep implicit. She

returns with directness all he tries to achieve by indirection, answering

double-dealing with plain dealing.

According to Vincent, Christina employs "the stile of a woman of

honour" (83), using the "plain english" that eludes Dapperwit (25) and

Sir Simon (74). Her speech is characterized by simplicity and clarity,


as in her direct statement, "The Paper is a stranger to me, I never

writ it; you are abused" (88). She counters Ranger's elaborate

language of deception with simple honesty. Several times in the play,

characters claim, "I take you at your word" (73, 77, 105, 110), a

cliche underlining the ethics of speech; but while Christina demonstrates

that she is as good as her word, Ranger's word is, by his own admission,

worthless: "My perpetual ill luck in lying, should break me of the

quality; but like a losing Gamester, I am still for pushing on, till

none will trust me" (45).


The complexity of the intrigue plot of Love in a Wood is generated

in part by an extraordinary amount of lying. Ranger is certainly not

the only mendacious character; with few obvious exceptions, all deceive

and cheat one another, almost effacing credibility with their cross-

biting. Words must be tested and validated before they can be believed,

and validation takes the form of a trial, where character's statements

are treated as if they were testimony to be evaluated. Thus Ranger's

word and character are suspect due to his "perpetual ill luck in lying"

(45), and he finds himself on trial:

Leonore. Why do you not put him to his tryal, and see what he
can say for himself?

Lydia. I am afraid lest, my proofs, and his guilt, should make
him desperate, and so contemn that pardon, which he could
not hope for.

Leonore. 'Tis unjust to condemn him, before you hear him.

Lydia. I will reprieve him till I have more evidence. (71).


Valentine and Christina are also tried: "S'death, what have I giddily

run my self upon? 'Tis rather a tryal of my self than her" (103, see

also 78, 85).

Trials in this play are accompanied with legal language and argu-

ment, raising questions of evidence that ultimately become epistemolog-

ical, asking what can be known and what must be taken on faith.25

Valentine and Vincent's debate over Ranger's credibility is essentially


Vincent. Why do you believe him [Ranger]?

Valentine. Shou'd I believe you?

Vincent. 'Twere more for your interest, and you wou'd be less
deceiv'd; if you believe him, you must doubt the
chastity of all the fine women in Town, and five miles

Valentine. His reports of them will little invallidate his
testimony with me. (50).

Vincent may allude to the distinction between inartificial and artifi-

cial proofs, or in Bacon's terms, matters of fact and matters of art and

opinion; inartificial proofs are apparently incontrovertible facts like

contracts, while artificial proofs are impressions created by the

speech, and depend upon the character of the speaker.26 Vincent

establishes Christina's innocence by undermining Ranger's credibility;

to Valentine, Ranger's evidence is an inartificial proof, the testimony

of a sworn witness, whereas to Vincent it is a question of Ranger's

character and the ethos of his speech. The orator, as Aristotle saw

him, "persuades by his moral character when his speech is delivered in

such a manner as to render him worthy of confidence," and this confi-

dence is "due to the speech itself."27 Vincent tries to refute Ranger's

ethical proof:

Valentine. Will not Chamber-maids lye Vincent?

Vincent. Will not Ranger lie, Valentine?

Valentine. The circumstances of his story proved it true.

Vincent. Do you think so old a Master in the faculty, as he, will
want the varnish of probability for his lies?

Valentine. Do you think a Woman, having the advantage of her Sex,
and Education under such a Mistress, will want impu-
dence to dis-avow a Truth, that might be prejudicial
to that Mistress? (81).

Ethical proof brings us back to the morality of speech, for ethos

is not simply a matter of cunning and rhetorical art, but is also part

of the moral defense of oratory and rhetoric. Quintilian's concept of

ethos follows his argument that only a good man can be a good orator:

"ethos denotes moral character," and, "requires the speaker to be a

man of good character and courtesy."28 Similarly, in Hobbes, ethical

proof rests on character, because "it is the speaker, or person we

believe in, or trust in, and whose word we take, the object of our

Faith; and the Honour done in Believing is done to him onely."29

Ethical proof lies at the heart of Christina's defense, for she is not

answering any particular charge so much as defending her honor and


Christina's case ascends the three stages of defense: the defense

first questions whether the alleged event ever occurred; if it occurred,

whether it was indeed a crime; and finally, if it was illegal, whether

the defendant was not justified.31 Vincent first questions whether

Ranger ever met Christina, suspecting that Ranger is either lying or

mistaken about the identity of "Christina."32 Vincent then admits the

meeting, but still denies her guilt. When it is determined that she


did break her vow to Valentine, Vincent argues that she must have been

justified, forcing Valentine to transcend mere questions of fact and

mundane legality. Valentine must believe her word as a woman of honor,

dispense with proofs, and have faith in Christina herself.

The darkness of Act Five is emblematic of the falsity of some

proofs and the frailty of the senses, because when the "night blots out

all distinctions" (43), "you cannot distinguish a Friend from a Fop"

(31). Because there is much that Valentine cannot know with any

certainty, Vincent argues that he must accept some things on trust.

In all his works, Wycherley insists that love is based on faith and

trust, "Since Love is Faith, as Faith, we Love/ More, by mad Zeal, than

reason, prove" (II, 7), and faith in love and religion is not, by defini-

tion, provable (see III, 41).

The word "faith" occurs forty-eight times in Love in a Wood, but

it is misused more often than not. P. F. Vernon has observed the repe-

tition of a "network of trust words," like Sir Simon's "faith and troth,"

which are often used when the characters are the least truthful.33

Despite these negative citations, however, faith or willingness to

trust acquires significance, and becomes, indeed, an index of the worth

of the characters. If there is a high and a low plot, each is managed
by the "eiron" figures, Joyner and Vincent;34 where Joyner trusts no

one and cheats everyone, Vincent is the only one to believe Christina.

The lower characters like Gripe and Crossbite are suspicious of every-

one, exhibiting only a vain faith in themselves; Sir Simon and

Dapperwit try to exploit each other's trust, because "every Wit has his


Cully, as every Squire his lead Captain" (17). Boasting that "Women

are poor credulous Creatures, easily deceived" (21), Ranger is also too

willing to exploit others' trust, and in learning to trust Lydia, he is

disabused of his selfish attitude towards others.

Faith and trust demand that Ranger and Valentine transcend the

apparent and learn to discern and respect inner, true values. Holland

has explored the contrast between real and apparent values in terms of

masking and disguise, concluding that the prevalence of disguise and

deceit reveals Wycherley's doubt that real, natural,or inherent values

can exist.35 Disguise, however, usually fails in Wycherley's plays,

and there is little successful deception here; only Joyner's schemes

prosper, while Gripe's pose of piety, Lucy's of virginity, Flippant's

of wealth, and Dapperwit's of wit deceive none but themselves.

The futility of disguise is best demonstrated by Sir Simon's

confused pride in his disguise as the clerk Jonas: "Then you shall see

when I am Sir Simon Addleplot and my self, I'll look like my self, now I

am Jonas I look like an Ass; you never thought Sir Simon Addleplot

cou'd have looked so like an Ass by his ingenuity" (18). As Joyner

points out, Sir Simon can not make a fool of himself, when he already

is a fool. He is obviously an ass, whether disguised as Sir Simon or


Ranger. What fellow's that?

Dapperwit. A Servant, to a friend of mine.

Ranger. Methinks, he something resembles our acquaintance, Sir
Simon, but it is no compliment to tell him so; for that
Knight is the most egregious Coxcomb, that ever plaid
with Ladies Fan.

Sir Simon. So; thanks to my disguise, I know my Enemies. (Aside.)

Ranger. The most incorrigible Ass, beyond the reproof of a kicking
rival, or a frowning Mistress. (61).

Sir Simon's unmistakable folly shines forth even in the dark, when the

moon "scarce affords light enough to distinguish a man from a tree"

(102). In Act Two, Flippant quotes the proverb, "Jone's as good as my

Lady in the dark certainly" (33).36 Sir Simon tries to demonstrate that

"Jonas is as good as the Knight in the dark," only to disprove it, for

even though he dresses as a knight rather than a clerk, Martha refuses

him: "Let me tell you, Jonas, 'tis not your borrow'd clothes and

title, shall make me marry my Fathers man" (97-8). As Dapperwit claims,

"You have carry'd your self so like a natural Clerk" (99); there are

natural, inherent values that even Martha recognizes, and Sir Simon will

remain a fool no matter how he is dressed, or what title he buys. Jone

is not as good as my lady in the dark. A more appropriate proverb is

quoted by Don Diego in The Gentleman Dancing-Master: "The Hood does not

make the Monk, the Ass was an Ass still, though he had the Lyons Skin

on" (194).

Sir Simon alludes to another night proverb: "Well, after all my

seeking, I can find those I wou'd not" (97). Rather than the proverbial

"He that gropes in the dark finds that he would not," in this play

characters find what they should, or what they deserve.3 As

Righter puts it, "the whole comedy presents an ironic view of charac-

ters desperately rushing forward who nevertheless remain, despite their

efforts, in exactly the place to which their own value assigns them."38

The result of deception, disguise and darkness in Love in a Wood is not


confusion but clarity, for the true worth of characters is revealed

when there is no constraint. In this play, the truth will out, in words

as well as actions; Sir Simon can act and speak as none other than a


Sir Simon. There is a Proverb, Mrs. Joyner, you may know him
by his company.

Joyner. No, no, to be thought a man of parts, you should always
keep company with a man of less wit than your self.

Sir Simon. That's the hardest thing in the world for me to do,
faith and troth. (16).

In Flippant's line, "I never admitted a man to my conversation, but for

his punishment" (42), the words reveal an unintended truth. Though

Ranger is more adept at deception, all his lying also comes to naught:

"A pox, I have hang'd myself in my own line" (45); he is so accustomed

to concealing his thoughts that his fondness for Lydia is only revealed

by the device of the overheard aside: he who gropes in the dark not

only finds what he would not, but reveals what he would not.


Christina's constancy, in her faith in Valentine and her rigid

honor, contrasts sharply with the more compliant and often deceitfully

submissive behavior of the others. Lydia and Ranger are much more

practical; rather than uphold principle, they always yield to expedi-

ency. Christina demonstrates little social resiliency or compliance

in her rigid adherence to fixed ideas of conduct, ideas that do not

alter with the situation. If she is idealized, or at least less

imperfect than the other characters, we must ask whether her rigidity

is congruent with the concept of adaptability that is associated with

decorum above, and whether inflexible, absolute rules of honor or

practical compliance is the ethical ideal of Love in a Wood. This ethi-

cal crux runs through all of Wycherley's work; Alithea and Harcourt's

debate over her rigid honor, and Manly's refusal to comply with social

conventions, involve the same difficulty of conforming principles with

pragmatism. Holland believes that Christina compromises her ideals

when she is forced out of her house, and Cynthia Matlock goes further,

arguing that Christina, Alithea and Fidelia are introduced only to be
undercut.39 The place and meaning of these ideal characters is central

to any interpretation of Wycherley's plays, so it is essential to

determine whether ethical values rest on a practical mean or an ideal,

on resilient pragmatism or rigid principles.

To some extent, the problem is inherent in the concept of decorum,

for Kranidas has argued that there were two recognizable and conflicting

types of decorum in the seventeenth century. First, the concept of

adaptability, which "demands from the parts of a work of art consis-

tency with established traditional social forms," is a limited or lower

decorum, associated with Anglicanism.40 Such social adaptability or

compliance with custom is best exemplified by Balthazar Gracian's

manual of prudence; Maxim LXXVII is entitled To be company for all

sorts of Men:

lie is a wise Proteus that is holy with the holy, learned with
the learned, serious with the serious, and jovial with the
merry. That is the way to gain all hearts, similitude being
the bond of good will. To discern tempers, and by a politick
transformation to suit the humour and character of every one
is a secret absolutely necessary for those who depend on


Richard Baxter's justification for the Puritan plain style of preaching

is similarly rooted in this limited decorum; we must adjust our words

to suit the audience: "All our Teaching must be as Plain and Evident

as we can make it. For this doth must suit to a Teacher's Ends. He

that would be understood, must speak to the Capacity of his Hearers, and

make it his Business to make himself understood."42 Kranidas' second

type of decorum is not concerned with the audience and their under-

standing; it is a cosmic decorum which insists upon the harmony of one's

speech and behavior with the highest ideals, conforming not with social

circumstance, but with God's word. Kranidas finds this rarefied decorum

in the writings of Milton, Stanley Fish in George Herbert and Joan
Webber in John Lilburne.43 The conflict between these two types of

decorum, the lower Aristotelian and practical, the higher Platonic and

transcendent, is mirrored in the contrast between Lydia's practical

adaptability and Christina's adherence to high-minded principles.

Though I have described Christina's honest, open speech as an

ethical ideal in the play, such a transparency is not approved by all

the characters. Martha regards Sir Simon's openness as a flaw: he is

"so perspicuous a Fop, the women find him out, for none of 'em will

marry him." In the word "perspicuous" she attacks the'transparency of

both his person and his speech, while Sir Simon defends his "darkness:"

"for his being perspicuous, 'tis false, he is as mysterious as a new

Parliment man" (77). As Dapperwit is foolishly unable to conceal his

art, Sir Simon is unable to conceal his artifice, that is, his intrigues;

the former is perspicuous in his verbal scheming, the latter is perspic-

uous in his actual scheming.


It is not only fools and knaves who defend dark speech; after

deceiving Ranger, Lydia boasts to her maid, "have I not dissembled

well, Lenor?" (71). And it is by no means clear that blunt 'truth was

always regarded as best; the motto of The Art of Complaisance or The

Means to Oblige in Conversation (London, 1677), is Qui nescit dissimu-
large, nescit vivere. This book teaches the limited decorum, how to

be politic, circumspect and polite by adjusting our conversation to

fit the particular audience: "This Complaisance, which I pretend to

teach, is an Art to regulate our words and behaviour, in such a manner

as may engage the love and respect of those with whom we converse."45

The author would agree with Lydia on the necessity of dissimulation:

we must learn the discretion how to conceal secrets, in order not to

betray or compromise our trust. He teaches the dexterity of how to

avoid telling unpleasant truths without actually lying, equivocating

carefully between truth and lies:

We ought always in our discourse to have regard to Truth, as
the ground of Conversation, but to avoid involving my self in
those great questions concerning truth, I shall content my
self to say, that it is conformity of our words, with our
thoughts, without determining whether there ought to be a
precise similitude of the thoughts we express to the thing we
have in our mind.46

The truth must be carefully guarded in Gracian's Maxim CLXXI, Not to

tell a lie, and yet not to speak all the truth neither: "Nothing

requires more circumspection than truth. For to tell it, is to draw

the hearts bloud. There needs as much skill to know when to tell it,

as when to conceal it."47

According to G. A. Starr, the favorite text for sermons on dissimu-

lation was Matthew 10.16: "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and

harmless as doves."48 As in Bacon's essay, "Simulation and Dissimu-

lation," the arguments are often casuistical; any form of deceit is

forbidden, be the cause ever so good, though wisely withholding infor-

mation is permissible. As Edward Stillingfleet puts it, we are allowed

"so much Wisedom as is consistent with innocency."49 The same may be

said for the ethical ideals Christina represents; as much expediency is

allowed as is consistent with honesty. How far one may trim and still

maintain moral rectitude is not so important as the hierarchical rela-

tionship, the subordination of the means to the ideal.

Honesty and dissimulation are never satisfactorily reconciled, by

Wycherley or any other moralist. Gracian's work is entitled The Art of

Prudence, and there is a clear analogy between decorum and prudence:

decorum is to speech what prudence is to conduct. They are both, in

Cicero's words, ars vivendi, and like rhetoric, which is based on

decorum and adaptability, the means to live in an imperfect world.50

That prudence is a necessary evil is dramatically embodied in the

unhappy lesson of deception that is forced on Margery at the close of

The Country Wife. Christina's conduct is clearly imprudent, particu-

larly in her bluntness with Ranger and Valentine, for she does not heed

appearances, and Fielding's narrator's advice may be as appropriate for

her as for Tom Jones: "Prudence and Circumspection are necessary even

to the best of Men. They are indeed as it were a Guard to Virtue,

without which she cannot be safe. It is not enough that your Designs,

nay that your Actions, are intrinsically good, you must take Care that


they shall appear so."51 Like Alithea's, Christina's honor is a matter

of internal worth rather than reputation, and both, at least initially,

lack the guard of prudence. To a limited extent, Lydia and Christina

move toward each other, for Lydia gives up intriguing as Christina

learns to adapt her honor. Holland's argument that Christina is forced

to compromise her principles, however, does not accurately describe her

progress. Again, like Alithea, she must choose between true honor and

a vow of lesser importance, and even though she ventures out, she

remains true to Valentine. Her active defense of her virtue is much

more admirable than her simple notion of retreat, a type of cloistered

virtue; from her first entrance, which is to her disadvantage, Christina

rises in our estimation, and rather than compromise her ideals, she

refines them, adapting her honor to save Valentine.

The ability to adjust is perhaps the most distinguishing mark of

intelligence in this play; Gripe and Crossbite are never able to

transcend their selfishness and greed, and Sir Simon represents the

foolish inability to adjust to any situation: "What, ruin'd by my own

Plot, like an old Cavalier: yet, like him too, I will plot on still"

(99). Ranger learns to throw over his plots when the situation demands:

"of Intrigues, honourable or dishonourable, and all sorts of rambling,

I take my leave; when we are giddy, 'tis time to stand still" (91).

The issue of adaptability dovetails with trust and faith in the final

conception of marriage. Christina's last line, "I had rather suspect

your faith, than you should mine" (111), suggests that her virtue rests

not only on prudence and appearance but also on Valentine's trust in

her. Ranger and Valentine learn to trust and accept another under the


conditions of marriage: "The end of Marriage, now is Liberty/ And

two are bound--to set each other free" (112). These lines are not, as

some have claimed, cynical, but rather follow the conventions of love

poetry, as in Donne's paradox, "To enter in these bonds is to be


Wycherley has made speech a metaphor for cooperation; where Gripe,

Sir Simon, or Dapperwit never hear anything beyond echoes of their own

words, Christina, Valentine, Ranger and Lydia simply learn to talk to

each other. At first Lydia and Ranger's inability to communicate is

caused by wilful self-enclosure, just as Valentine and Christina are

also unable to speak with each other when they first meet (85ff). Such

mutual obfuscation adumbrates the selfishness and egotism of the

interruptions in The Plain Dealer (413ff), where Olivia will not suffer

anyone else to speak. In Love in a Wood, characters learn to use words

to reach others, rather than to cheat, slander or attack others. When

they learn to speak correctly, they arrive at the understanding and

cooperation promised in the last couplet.


1. Works of John Dennis, II, pp. 409-411.

2. Anne Righter, "William Wycherley," in Restoration Theatre, ed. John
Russell Brown and Bernard Harris, (New York: Capricorn Books,
1967), p. 72, and W. R. Chadwick, The Four Plays of William
Wycherley (The Hague: Mouton, 1975), p. 18.

3. Wycherley's Drama (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965),
pp. 21-48.

4. Restoration Comedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924), pp. 82-

5. I wish to avoid attempting to define "wit," with the attendant
problems of fancy, imagination and judgment. I use the term in its
modern sense of verbal ingenuity, clever or striking remarks,
because I believe this is quite close to Wycherley's meaning in
the plays. Wycherley almost always uses the term satirically,
ironically, and negatively, signifying the over-ingenious use of
words. For a positive contemporary definition, Dryden's in
"Apology for Heroic Poetry" (1677) is most fitting: "...the
definition of wit (which has been so often attempted, and ever
unsuccessfully by many poets) is only this: propriety of thoughts
and words; or, in other terms, thoughts and words elegantly adapted
to the subject." George Watson, cd., John Dryden's of Dramatic
Poesy (London: John Dent, 1964), Vol. I, p. 207.

6. The inability to conceal art recalls the play's Horatian motto and
its distinction between natural and excessively artful poets.

Though Wycherley's verse was written long after his plays, it very
often deals with the same subjects, and I feel it is illuminating.
His poems often state explicitly themes only implicit in the plays.

7. For "slow Wycherley" see Rochester's "Allusion to Horace:"

But Wycherley earns hard what'er he gains
He wants no judgment, nor he spares no pains.

Complete Poems, ed. David M. Vieth (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1974), p. 123. Pope refers to this passage in "To Augustus,"
Epistle II i, 1. 85.

8. Eugene McCarthy has noticed the negative implications of wit in
Wycherley, "Wycherley's Plain-Dealer and the Limits of Wit,"
English Miscellany 22(1971), pp. 47-92.

9. Barrow, Works, I, pp. 159-60.

10. Rhetoric, pp. 377-9; trans. Roger L'Estrange, Seneca's Morals,
London, 1682 (second edition), p. 245.

11. Orator, p. 359. cf. Thomas Farnaby, Index Rhetoricus, London, 1625:
Caput artis est, decere quod facias. Sic igitur eloquentiam prudent-
aimque miscebit orator, sic decoro scenaeque inserviet. p. 19.

12. The Fierce Equation: A Study of Milton's Decorum (The Hague: Mouton
1965), pp. 13, 14.

13. Quintilian, IV, p. 163.

14. On the Composition of Romances, trans. Allan II. Gilbert, in
Literary Criticism from Plato to Dryden (Detroit: Wayne State
University Press, 1962), p. 273. This passage is cited by

15. A New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching School, London, 1660,
facsimile (Scolar Press, 1969), p. 139.

16. The Arte of English Poesie, London, 1589, facsimile (Scolar Press,
1968), p. 231.

17. The First Modern Comedies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
1967), p. 39.

18. Barrow, I, p. 156.

19. Window breaking and wit are again equated in The Plain-Dealer, pp.
500-1. See also Dryden's "Prologue to the Wild Gallant, Reviv'd"
(1669), 1. 10, for a similar use of window breaking.

20. The self-interest of praise is hardly new with Wycherley. In the
Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes: ". . honor seems to depend
on those who confer it rather than on him who receives it." Trans.
Martin Ostwald, (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1962), p. 8.
Wycherley's contemporary, Samuel Butler, writes of praise of the

And those Romances, which we frame,
To raise ourselves, not them, a name.

Butler's Satires, ed. Rene Lamar, (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1928). p. 97. To Obadiah Walker, flattery is "an abusing
of Language, a putting together many good words to signify nothing."
Of Education, Oxford, 1673, facsimile (Scolar Press, 1970), p. 224.

21. This scene may owe something to similar flattery in Shadwell's The
Miser Act two, Scene one, Works, ed. Montague Summers CLondon:
Fortune Press, 1927), Vol. III, p. 38 ff.

22. On Style, trans. W. Rhys, (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1927),
p. 377.

23. Robert South, Forty Eight Sermons and Discourses, London, 1715,
Sermon XII, Vol. I, p. 462.

24. Francis Bacon, Essays (London: Oxford University Press, 1937),
"Of Simulation and Dissimulation," (1625), pp. 22-6.

25. Wycherley's familiarity with forensic rhetoric is not unusual; like
many of his fellow dramatists, he studied at the Inner Temple.
Furthermore, any well-educated theatregoer would have known something
of the subject from his studies of the trivium, which were still
dominated by forensic oratory, and children were still taught to
plead legal cases like Cicero. Thomas Farnaby's Index Rhetoricus
(1625) is the best example of a popular, Ciceronian rhetoric. For
seventeenth-century education I have consulted Sir Thomas Elyot,
The Bringing up of Children (1533), Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster
(1570), and William Kempe, The Education of Children (1588).
Particularly useful and detailed are John Brinsley, Ludus Literarius
(1612), and Charles Hoole, A New Discovery in the old Art of Teaching
School (1660). T. W. Baldwin, William Shakespeare's Small Latine
and Lesse Greeke (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1944) and
D. L. Clark, John Milton at St. Paul's School (1948, rpt. Hlamden:
Archon Books, 1964) are also informative.

26. Bacon, Advancement, p. 34.

27. Rhetoric, p. 17.

28. Quintilian, Vol. II, p. 427.

29. Leviathan, ed. W. G. Pogson Smith, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967),

30. Christina's defense is classically Ciceronian, winning favour through
mild tone, modesty, gentle language and seeming reluctance, all of
which serve to display good nature, calmness and loyalty. De
oratore, I, 325ff.

31. See Cicero's De partition oratorio, chap. xxxv ff., or the pseudo-
Ciceronian Rhetorica ad herennium, book II.

32. Notice the skeptical repetition of "Christina," pp. 83-4.

33. "Wycherley's First Comedy and Its Spanish Source," Comp. Lit 18
(1966), pp. 139-40.

34. I use Northrope Frye's terms "eiron" or "gracioso" figure for those
characters who manipulate others, and bring about action, without
really participating in it. Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 173.

35. See particularly the chapter "Disguise Comic and Cosmic," pp. 45-63.

36. Cf. Edward Phillips, The Mysteries of Love and Eloquence, London,
1658, facsimile (Scolar Press, 1972): "There is a Proverb that tells
the Gentleman, that Jone is as good as my Lady in the dark: and why
should there not be another Proverb to tell the Gentlewoman, that Tom

is as good as my Lord in the Dark." p. 150. For other examples,
see Tilley, J 57.

37. Tilley, D 39.

38. Righter, p. 72.

39. Holland, p. 44, and Matlock, "Parody and Burlesque of Heroic Ideals
in Wycherley's Comedies." PLL 8:3 (1972), pp. 273-286.

40. Kranidas, pp. 47-8. The whole of chapter one is relevant, pp. 13-

41. Balthazar Gracian, The Courtier's Oracle, Or The Art of Prudence,
London, 1694, p. 74. Cf. I Cor. 9:22: "To the weak became I as
weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men,
that I might by all means save some."

Pope told Spence that Gracian was one of Wycherley's favorite
authors. The Art of Prudence, written in 1647, was translated in
1694; however, Wycherley clearly read Spanish, and there is a
distinct possibility that he was in Spain on a diplomatic mission
in 1664, where he could have read or acquired an edition of Gracian.
See John Loftis, The Spanish Plays of Neoclassical England (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), p. 121, for a review of the

42. Gildas Salvianus (1658) in Works, London, 1707, Vol. IV, p. 358.

43. See Stanley Fish, Self-Consuming Artifacts (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1972), pp. 156-223, and Joan Weber, The
Eloquent "I" (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), pp.

44. The Latin is translated in anon., An Essay in Defense of the Female
Sex, London, 1696: "it has been Proverbially said of Old, that He
that knows not how to dissemble, knows not how to live." This writer
is careful to distinguish dissimulation from "criminal Deceipt,"
pp. 113-4. To Gracian, dissembling is a form of self-control, and
mastery of the will in Maxim XCVIII, To Dissemble: "Passions are
the breaches of the mind. The most useful knowledge is the art to
dissemble. He that shows his Game, runs the risque of losing it.
Let circumspection combat against curiosity. Cover your heart with
a hedge of diffidence and reserve, from those who nibble too nicely
at words. Let them never know your disposition lest they prevent
you either by contradiction, or flattery.

He who yields to his passions, saith the Authour, Chap. 2 of his
Hero, stoops from the state of a man, to the condition of a beast;
whereas he that disguises them, preserves his credit at least in
appearance. Our passions are the swoonings of our reputations.

lie that can make a sacrifice of his will is Lord over himself. To
dive into the will of another, is the mark of a sublime wit; to be
able to hide ones own, is to get the superiority over another. To
discover ones thought, is to open the gate of the fort of the mind:
Here it is that politick Enemies give the assualt, and most fre-
quently with success too. When once the passions are known, all the
avenues and sally-ports of the will are known and by consequence it
may be commanded upon any occasion. A complete man must then in the
first place apply himself to the subduing of his passions, and then
to the dissembling of them so artfully, that no spy can ever be able
to unmask his thought. This Maxim teaches one to become an able
man, when he is not; and so cunningly to hide all his imperfections,
that all the sharp-sighted spies of another man's road, lose their
way in seeking it." pp. 90-1.

Tilley includes eighteen examples of this proverb, D 386. For
others, see Sir Walter Raleigh, The Arts of Empire, London, 1658,
p. 68, and Florio's translation of Montaigne, Vol. II, p. 374.

45. The Art of Complaisance, p. 2.

46. Ibid., p. 54.

47. Gracian, p. 161. For the opposite view of dissimulation, see
Richard Head, Proteus Redivivus: Or The Art of Wheedling, or
Insinuation, London, 1675: "This art of Wheedling, which some
would have called complaisance, is in plain terms, nothing else
but the Art of Insinuation or Dissimulation, compounded of mental
reservation, seeming-patience and humility, (self-obliging) civil-
ity, and a more than common affability, all which club together to
please and consequently to gain by conversation." p. 3. Complai-
sance viewed negatively is wheedling, an art of self-interested
hypocrisy, the means to thrive by pretence. The wheedle is a
Restoration Uriah Heep, and more than a little dishonest: "Lyes he
looks not on as half so sinful, and sometimes questions whether
they are a sin or not, when a round sum hath been the product of
their falsity." p. 25.

48. G. A. Starr, Defoe and Casuistry (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1971), pp. 191-3. Sampson Letsome, The Preachers Assistant,
London, 1753, refers to thirteen sermons on this text, pt. 1,
pp. 117-8. See also Gracian's proverb CCXLII, Not to be a Dove in
all Things:

"Let the cunning of the Serpent go in course with the simplicity of
the Dove. There is nothing easier than to deceive a good man. He
that never lyes, easily believes; and he that never deceives, con-
fides much. To be deceived, is not always a sign of brutishness;
for goodness is sometimes the cause of it. There are two sorts of
people that well knew how to prevent a mischief, the one, because
they have learned what it is at their own cost; and the others,


because they have learned it at the expense of others. Prudence
ought then to be as careful to caution it self, as cunning is to
cheat. Have a care not to be so good a man, that others may take
occasion from it of being bad. Be a composition of the Dove and
Serpent; not a Monster but a Prodigy." p. 215.

49. A Sermon Preached before the King at White-Hall, London, 1679, p. 4.

50. Cicero, De finibus, 5.16: sic vivendi ars est prudential. My under-
standing of pnidence is greatly indebted to Martin Battestin's
discussion in The Providence of Wit (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1974), pp. 164-179.

51. Martin Battestin, ed., Tom Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1975), I, p. 141.

52. Elegy XIX, "Going to Bed," 1. 31.


Wycherley's second play, The Gentleman Dancing-Master, has never

been revived since it opened in 1672, a fact that may support Courtall's

complaint in She Would If She Could: "A single intrigue in love is as

dull as a single plot in a play, and will tire a lover worse than

t'other does an audience." The slight plot unfortunately continues to

tire readers, who, taking simplicity for simple mindedness, term the

play meaningless farce. In all fairness, The Gentleman Dancing-Master

does seem to lack the wit and significance that characterizes Wycherley's

other plays. But its simplicity and apparent meaninglessness are decep-

tive, resulting from the failure to apprehend its language of paradox,

a mode of discourse present in all of Wycherley's work, but more pro-

nounced here. The ethical foundation of this play is congruent with

Wycherley's other comedies; indeed, those scenes which appear the most

farcical, Monsieur's undressing and dressing, in fact demonstrate the

playwright's consistent focus on a language ethically correct and



Most of the farcical action follows Don Diego's demand that his

prospective son-in-law Monsieur de Paris "Leave off French Dress,

Stammering and Tricks" (177), and wear Spanish clothes. This "meta-

morphosis" (189 and 199) reaches a climax in Act Four when Monsieur

puts on a Golilia, the paradigmatic Spanish garment:

Don Diego. Off, off, off with it I say, come refuse the
Ornamento principal of the Spanish Habit. (Takes
him by the Crevat, pulls it off, and the Black puts
on the Golilia.)

Monsieur. Will you have no mercy, no pity, alas, alas, alas,
Oh I had rather put on the English Pillory than this
Spanish Golilia, for 'twill be all a case I'm sure;
for when I go abroad, I shall soon have a Crowd of
Boys about me, peppering me with rotten Eggs and
Turneps, helas, helas. (Don Diego puts on the Golilia.)

Don Diego. Helas again?

Monsieur. Alas, alas, alas. (193).

Monsieur's removal of his French crevat parallels his suppression of the

hypercorrect French aspiration in "helas," underscoring the identity

between his affected dress and his affected language. He had earlier

pointed to the similarity, asking "must I leave off all Franch Beautes,

Graces and Embellishments, bote of my Person and Language?" (177).

Wycherley has enacted a literal, visual and audible parallel to the

familiar metaphor of language clothing thought in words, and an under-

standing of this metaphor reveals much about the language of The

Gentleman Dancing-Master.3

The "garment" metaphor is common in rhetorical descriptions and

definitions of style. Erasmus offers a representative analogy between

word and thought and body and dress in De duplci copia: quod est

vestis nostro corpori, id est sententiis, elocutio. Negue enim aliter

quam forma dignitasque corporis, cultu habitugue, itidem et sententia

verbis vel commendatur, vel deturpatur. In Ramistic rhetoric the

word most often used for elocution is "garnishing," which ornaments or

covers as does clothing.5 Thomas Wilson's version of the metaphor


describes the difference and distance between the rich clothing of word

and bare thought: "Elocution commenteth the matter, that seemeth to be

clad in Purple, walking afore both bare and naked."6 In a twentieth-

century discussion of the clothing metaphor, Holland mistakenly thinks

of language as mere cover or disguise and deceit: "Language was itself

regarded as an outside--clothing, ornament, or, in general a shell of

accidents--within which the real substance, thought, lay hidden."7

Implying, in Wilson's words, that the "naked" thought is superior,

Holland fails to realize that themetaphor has both positive and negative

connotations, as is explicit in this analogy of Quintilian's:

Again a tasteful and magnificent dress, as the Greek poet tells
us, lends added dignity to its wearer: but effeminate and
luxurious apparel fails to adorn the body and merely reveals
the foulness of the mind. Similarly, a translucent and iri-
descent style merely serves to emasculate the subject which it
arrays with such pomp of words.8

Speech should be thought to advantage dressed, but like dress, speech

can be elegant or vulgar, appropriate or mismatched; in "An Epistle to

Mr. Dryden," Wycherley compliments Dryden on the propriety and harmony

of his language:

Such is your Sense, which you so well express,
Each Thought is brilliant in its proper Dress. (IV, 159).

Furthermore, as Rosemond Tuve explains, the garment of style often

indicates the ideal fusion of word and thought, "in the sense that the

flesh is the soul's garment, its bodying forth or manifestation."9

Words realize or give life to thought, as Ben Jonson asserts in Dis-

coveries: "In all speech, words and sense are the body and the soul.

The sense is, as the life and soule of language, without which all words

are dead."10


The positive and negative connotations of the clothing metaphor

correspond to the two poles of language in The Gentleman Dancing-Master:

in Gerrard's normative speech, words harmoniously fit the thought and

speaker, and in Monsieur's affected speech, word, thought and speaker

are unrelated, if not warring, elements. Above all, the metaphor under-

scores the superficial nature of the French features of Monsieur's

language. As David Rhodes points out, unlike Sir Fopling Flutter's

correct French, Monsieur's is a bastardization of two languages: he

debases English sentences with French morphology, syntax and pronunci-

ation.11 Monsieur offends according to all four classical criteria of

style, the Theophrastan virtues of correctness, clarity, propriety and

ornament.1 His speech is not grammatically correct, but deliberately

broken; not perspicuous, but confused and incoherent; not brief, but

prolix; not decorous, but grotesquely inappropriate for a native English


In the Tavern scene, Monsieur's speech and Gerrard's speech

contrast sharply:

Monsieur. Auh--his Son (for he had but one) was making de Toure
of France, Espaigne, Italy, an' Germany in a Coach
and six, or rader now I think on't, gone of an Embassy
hider to dere Master Cromwell, whom dey did love and
fear, because he was sometinge de greater Rebel bute
now I talk of de Rebelle, none but de Rebel can love
de Rebelled, and so mush for you and your Friend the
Dushe I'le say no more, and pray you say no more of
my friend de Franch, not so mush as of my Friend the

Gerrard. No, no; but, Monsieur, now give me leave to admire thee,
that in three months at Paris you could renounce your
Language, Drinking and your Country (for which we are
not angry with you as I said) and come home so perfect
a French-man, that the Dreymen of your Father's own
Brew-house wou'd be ready to knock thee in the head. (143).


Monsieur's speech is very confused; the eleven clauses, progressing

only through non sequitor, seem to parody the rambling, associative

parataxis of Senecan style. Gerrard's speech, made conspicuous only

by contiguity, is a model of logicality and perspicuity. The suspended

hypotaxis of evenly spaced members separates admiration and insult at

either ends of the sentence, balanced by a parenthetical expression.

The contrast, of course, suggests that only Gerrard has the intelli-

gence to construct a complicated or even coherent sentence.

Monsieur's Gallomania and the contrast between English clarity and

French confusion may derive from two characters, M. Galliard in the

Duke of Newcastle's The Variety or The French Dancing-Master, and

Frenchlove in James Howard's The English Monsieur.13 Monsieur's speech

is, however, quite different from these two. M. Galliard is French-

born, so his French pronunciation is not affected; using incorrect

pronouns and substituting "de" for "the" and "vat" for "what," he is a

social climbing dancing-master who is tricked into marrying the chamber

maid rather than the rich widow. Frenchlove, on the other hand, is "an

affected English man translated into a ridiculous French man."14 Like

Sir Fopling or Melantha, Frenchlove speaks correct English with an

occasional French idiom. But in Howard, Dryden and Etherege, the

language/ garment equation is much reduced; Sir Fopling sprinkles his

conversation with French phrases as delicately as he scents his gloves

with orange, affecting, as the author of Remarques on the Iumours and

Conversation of the Town writes, "the beautiful trimming of foreign

words."15 His French is more like a cosmetic or accessory than a full


suit of clothes. Of the five playwrights, only Wycherley creates a

language unique to his character.

Many of the features of Monsieur's and Don Diego's speech reflect

contemporary English views of continental languages. Thus the prolixity

of French was an English commonplace; in a preface to a translation

from French, John Evelyn apologizes for the original, which is "somewhat

verbose, according to the style of that overflowing nation."16 Accord-

ing to Roscommon, the opposite translation from English to French would

necessarily be prolix: "The weighty Bullion of One Sterling Line,/

Drawn to French Wire, would thro' whole Pages shine."17 If French was

thought florid and wordy, Spanish was antithetically grave and dull,

corresponding to Don Diego's "Spanish Care, Circumspection and Prudence"

(188). These conflicting qualities are personified in James Howell's

prefatory poem to his Lexicon Tetraglotton:

The smooth Italian, and the nimble Frank,
The long-lunged Spanish march all in a rank,
The English leads them, so commands the Van
And reason good in this Meridian,
But Spain brings up the rear, because we know
Her Counsels are so long, and pace so slow.18

By asserting the self-sufficiency of English, especially by disparaging

loan words, Seventeenth-century writers assert the independence of their

speakers and their nation.19 Undisguised patriotism prompts the viru-

lence of Thomas Sprat's attack on the French language in his Observations

(1665) on Samuel Sorbiere's A Voyage to England, where he defends the

"Ornaments and Copiousness" of his native tongue, "comparing the Chas-

tity, the Newness, the Vigour of many of our English Fancies, with the

corrupt and swelling Metaphors wherewith some of our Neighbors do still


adorn their books."20 Linguistic chauvinism is most extreme in L. S.'s

Remarques, where his ancestors, refusing to debase their speech with

French, "were careful of the true glory of English men, to justifie the

Dominion of their Language, equal to the Dominion of their Seas."21

Underlying this implausible synecdoche is the idea that style or

language is the index of the soul, so that the greatness of the English

language is ineluctably connected to the greatness of the English


The connection between the man and his speech also underlies

Wycherley's characterization of Monsieur and Don Diego; his satire

is not, of course, directed at the French or the Spanish, but at those

English speakers who affect other languages. The Romance features of

their speech is like clothing in the worst taste, that which is com-

pletely inappropriate to the body dressed. Don Diego and Monsieur have,

in effect, subverted the function of language by asserting the primacy

of the signifier, because their signifiers take precedence over the

signified. In the following dialogue, both behave as if the change of

names will produce a change of nature or reputation:

Don Diego. Do'st thou call me Monsieur (voto a St. Jago.)

Monsieur. No, I did not call you Monsieur veto a St. Jago, Sir,
I know you are my Uncle, Mr. James Formal-da-

Don Diego. But I can hardly know you are my Cousin, Mr. Nathaniel
Paris; but call me Sir Don Diego henceforward, look
you, and no Monsieur, call me Monsieur Guarda.

Monsieur. I confess my errour, Sir; for none but a blind man
wou'd call you Monsieur, ha, ha, ha--But pray do not
call me neder Paris, but de Paris, de Paris (si vou
plai'st) Monsieur de Paris! (174-5).

Monsieur's unmasking of his uncle demonstrates that no matter what

accent they employ, their coat will still be a merchant's sign, their

relatives will still be buried in the yard, not the church, and they

will still be middle-class Englishmen, not European gentility (224).

It is not enough to say that a change of name or dress will no more

change a man than a change of word will transform the thing it was

thought to signify, for there are clearly two opposing systems at work

here. Monsieur apparently does believe that his new name transforms

him; Gerrard, on the other hand, knows that Monsieur was a fool before

and after his trip to Paris. Don Diego, with typical myopia, quotes

the appropriate proverb, but only for Monsieur: "The Ass was an Ass

still, though he had the Lyons Skin on" (194).

Uncle and nephew are so concerned with externals that they take

care of the words and dress, but let the thought and man shift for

themselves. In Don Diego's words, "the incongruous match of Spanish

Doublet and French Pantaloons" (190) parallels his incongruous match of

Spanish oaths and English merchant. If asides conventionally represent

a character's thought, it is telling that Monsieur employs perfectly

acceptable English in his asides; his French accent is then a dupli-

citous facade. In Monsieur, the aside and regular speech represent

two different languages, an internal language of thought, English, and

an external language of speech, French. Wycherley here follows the

traditional idea that thought is internal discourse. In Plato, "think-

ing and discourse are the same thing, except that what we call thinking

is, precisely, the inward dialogue carried on by the mind with itself

without spoken sound."22 The difference between speech and thought


is only sound; it is this essential identity in Stoic metaphysics that

invests speech with the properties of the mind and soul.23 To Saint

Augustine, thought, the "inward and mental word," is the discourse of

the inner man, and audible language, the "outward and sensible word,"
is the discourse of the outer man. Communication was therefore

conceived as the process of translation from internal to external

speech; in Hobbes's words, "the general use of Speech, is to transfer

our Mentall Discourse into Verbal."25 Monsieur's audible speech does

not emanate from the soul, and there is no consistency or correspondence

between the inner and outer man. The folly of Monsieur's speech differs

from that of Wycherley's "witty" fools, Dapperwit, Sparkish and Novel,

for they exhibit a correspondence between exterior, linguistic folly,

and interior, inherent folly. Monsieur's speech produces a curious

suggestion of emptiness; having rejected his country, his language and

his nature, it is as if there is nothing behind his words and dress:

style is all there is to such a vacuous man. Dapperwit's dull simili-

tudes always make some obvious cliched sense, but Monsieur's macaronic

utterances are very difficult to follow. Like the Norman French legal

language of The Plain Dealer, Monsieur's is a language which resists


Monsieur's and Don Diego's attitude toward language is the same as

their attitude toward clothing. To Monsieur, who will "live and die for

de Pantaloon against de Spanish Hose" (175), clothing becomes an end in

itself. He and his uncle are no longer concerned with Hippolita,

marriage, family honor, or even religion--Monsieur "could kneel down

and varship a pair of jenti Pantaloons" (175). As dress becomes an end


rather than a means to social grace or comfort, words also become ends

in themselves; their "jernis" and "votos" lose referents, and are

rendered meaningless out of their proper cultural and linguistic context.

When Don Diego refuses him "one little Franch Oate" (178), Monsieur

produces a word heap, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing:

"Helas, helas, den I shall take my leave, morte teste, venture, Jernie,

teste-bleu, ventre-bleu, ma foy, certes" (178). We witness a process

of reification, as Monsieur's and Don Diego's words become things; their

words are like physical souvenirs brought back from a grand tour,

objects of status rather than means of communication. Words to Monsieur

are like Mallarme's radiant jewels, valuable, not simply for significa-

tion, but in and of themselves, an attitude woefully out of accord with

the prevailing Restoration language theory.

Uncle and nephew value words for their social or national status

rather than accepted, normative meaning, imposing a private or idiomatic

value on words that is always consistent with Don Diego's or Monsieur's

vanity. In consequence, they not only misuse words, but they misconstrue

everyone else's, for everyone says exactly what these two would like to

hear. Monsieur, Hippolita claims, "is as apt as an ill Poet to mistake

the contempt and scorn of people for applause and admiration" (171).

Don Diego's wilful misinterpretation and self-deception are even more

brazen: "Be a Spaniard like me, and ne're think people laugh at you:

there was never a Spaniard that thought any one laughed at him" (194).

The false Spaniard and Frenchman's devotion to words allows them

to be manipulated, not by meaning but by sound and association:

Gerrard. But indeed, methinks, you are not slovenly enough for
a French-man.

Monsieur. Slovenly! you mean negligent?

Gerrard. No, I mean slovenly.

Monsieur. Then I will be more slovenly. (144).

Because Gerrard associates "French" and "slovenly," Monsieur will

endeavor to be slovenly, no matter what the word means, just as he is

victimized by the accent rather than the substance of the Scullion's

words (149). He who directs words, in turn directs people, and through

their exploitations of ambiguity, Gerrard and Hippolita talk rings

around these dupes. Virginia Birdsall has observed that Hippolita

"manipulates words, artistically playing with their variable meanings

and deceiving all those incapable of recognizing a double entendre

either in word or in action when they are faced with one."26

Gerrard and Hippolita exercise these verbal powers on each other

at first; when they meet, Gerrard uses an inflated, "precieuse" style:

"My Soul, My Life, 'tis you have Charms powerful as numberless,

especially those of your innocency irresistable, and do surprise the

wary'st Heart; such mine was, while I cou'd call it mine, but now 'tis

yours for ever" (158). The lovers must purify their language, partic-

ularly their oaths; when the mutual distrust between Hippolita and

Gerrard is greatest, she calls attention to the misuse 'of "faith:"

Gerrard. Cou'd all that so natural Innocency be dissembl'd?
faith it cou'd not, dearest Miss.

Hippolita. Faith it was, dear Master.

Gerrard. Was it, faith?

Hippolita. Methinks you might believe me without an Oath. (205).


EIippolita reintroduces "faith" once again when she and Gerrard reach

their understanding: "faith, here's my hand now in earnest, to lead

me a Dance as long as I live" (218). The word has been validated, for

the concept has been realized between them. Their linguistic reform

follows a pattern predictable in Wycherley; a more precise use of words

leads to a more truthful and honest correspondence between speech and

thought; the more honest and open their speech, and the more exposed

their true thought, the more dependent upon trust they become, achieving

eventually the "language of the heart." They must purify their language,

for it is only when they mean what they say that Hippolita can give her

"self and fortune away frankly" (220).


Monsieur's speech can be characterized by his affectation of

"agreeable ill Englis'" (143), and rejection of "base good Englis'"

(134); these oxymorons, like the "incongruous match" between his clothes

and person, accentuate the disparity between his nature and appearance.

Don Diego and Monsieur are not, however, the only characters whose

chosen role contradicts their actual station, for Gerrard is a gentle-

man imitating an imitation gentleman. The title itself is oxymoronic

because dancing-masters were considered only gentlemen in appearance.

Usually "better dress'd and prouder than many a good Gentleman" (164),

Don Diego claims that dancing-masters have but the "outsides of Gentle-

men" (161). In their first exchange, Prue and Hippolita construe

Monsieur as a type of dancing-master: this apishh Kind of Gentleman"

has "Civility and good Breeding more than a City Dancing-master" (131).

C. J. Rawson explores the problems that dancing-masters create:


Dancing-masters were a special and embarrassing case, because
they were a necessary part of a genteel education. Not only
did one therefore see them a good deal, but they were pro-
fessionals who taught gentlemen some of the marks of gentility.
.The gentleman thus had a painful obligation to the
dancing-master, and the dancing-master must have acquired
pretensions of gentility which exacerbated the situation; the
gentleman had to learn from a laboured specialist the graceful
ease which was supposed to be his birthright, and the dancing-
master could feel that he did things better than his pupils.
Hence part of the insistence that a gentleman should learn to
dance well, yet not like a dancing-master, and, more generally,
the obsessional frequency with which writers of the period keep
mentioning dancing-masters, often with edgily ambiguous or
over-aggressive contempt. The title of Wycherley's Gentleman
Dancing-Master must have derived much piquancy from this whole

Monsieur and dancing-masters raise the question of what constitutes

gentility, innate breeding, or acquired characteristics like manners,

wealth and appearance. Following centuries of courtesy literature,

Wycherley suggests that though gentility is in part inherited, it is
above all earned by gentle conduct.28 Monsieur sums up Gerrard's

situation: "Well, thou art a generous man, I vow and swear, to come

and take upon you this trouble, danger, and shame, to be thought a

paltry Dancing-master, and all this to preserve a Ladies honour and

life" (200).

The oxymoronic title describes the apparently contradictory and

paradoxical action of the protagonist, who demeans and shames himself

for an honorable cause. I emphasize oxymoron because Rosalie Colie

has observed that this is the central trope of paradox, and I wish to

demonstrate that the language and action of this play is paradoxical.29

Though Pope was referring to Wycherley's verse when he told Spence that

Wycherley "loved paradoxes," the plays also reveal a love of paradox,

and The Gentleman Dancing-Master in part may be seen as a kind of

Encomium Moriae, or Praise of Folly. The word "fool" is used eighty-

six times in the play, mostly of Gerrard and Monsieur. But while

Monsieur and Don Diego are anxious to deny their folly--"I am no fool,

Look you" (152)--Gerrard willingly and deliberately "plays the fool:"

"To be caught in a Fool's Trap--I'll venture it" (141), he says, and he

is "Fooled and abused" (208), and "made a Fool" (213) by Hippolita. It

is only when he consents, moreover, to "be such a fool as to steal a

Woman with nothing" (206) that he wins her and a "Fools Paradise"

(172). Gerrard plays the fool by playing a dancing-master; where

Monsieur tries to appear better by imitating his betters, Gerrard

becomes better by imitating his inferiors.

The ironic reversal of wisdom and folly has long been a comic

convention designed to express the self-awareness of limitation; as

Touchstone says, "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows

himself to be a fool" (5.1.33). Similarly, the Socratic docta ignoran-

tia, of which Montaigne provides a famous statement, is based on the

humble declaration of ignorance: "The wisest that ever was being

demanded what he knew, answered, he knew that he knew nothing."31 The

primary source of Erasmus's wise fool is, of couse, Saint Paul:

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1.22), or

"If any man among you seemeth to be wise, let him become a fool that

he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God"

(I. Cor. 3.18-9). On this text, John Webster writes, "This is the whole

knowledge of man, to know that it is nothing of itself, and whatsoever

it is, it is of God and for God."32 Wycherley's familiarity with

the docta ignorantia is clear from his poems "Upon the Impertinence of


Knowledge," andl "In Praise of Ignorance"; in "Upon the Discretion of

Folly," he writes that "the greatest Folly is to be Wise," and "Folly

Proves Wisedom" (III, 28).

According to Pope, Wycherley's favorite authors were those most

paradoxical: "He used to read himself to sleep o'night, either in

Montaigne, Rochefoucault, Seneca, or Gracian, for those were his four

favorite authors."33 Further, Wycherley would have been familiar with

paradox from grammar school, because paradox remained an integral part

of education in rhetoric.. While we may associate paradox with the

complexities of the Parmenides, it was also the subject and method of

epideictic or demonstrative oratory, because the contoversiae or

practice cases for student declamations often were based on paradox.34

Practice declamations were collected in progymnasmata, which were still

in use through the eighteenth-century; in the sixteenth and seven-

teenth centuries, Aphthonius's progymnasmata went through thirty Latin

and twenty Greek editions, not including English versions by Richard

Rainolde and William Fullwood.35 Rainolde's A Booke Called the

Foundation of Rhetorike (1563) contains nineteen declamations, about

which questions are posed, including confirmation and confutation,

praise and dispraise; such questions were intended to form topics for

the student's compositions.3 John Brinsley, in Ludus Literarius,

recommends Cicero's Paradoxa Stoicorum for model themes, and the most

famous and complete Renaissance collection of paradoxes, Ortensio

Landi's Paradossi (1543), was presented as a formulary rhetoric: Thomas

Lodge's translation, Paradoxes Against Common Opinions (1602), advertises

its contents as "Debated in the form of Declamations," to be used for

schoolboy exercises.

Wycherley's knowledge of such material is clear from his many

paradoxical encomiums; he has poems in praise of Ignorance, Folly,

Poverty, Old Age, Laziness, Avarice and Dullness, and with the exception

of that on laziness, there are analogues for each of these in the Landi

collections, all with similar arguments.38 Even these few examples do

not, however, reveal the extent of paradox in Wycherley's verse, for

almost half of the poems (all those in heroic couplets) are based on

paradox, often arguing the opposite of what the reader expects, revers-

ing their own argument, turning inward, and playing orthodoxy against
heterodoxy in the manner of a Stoic dialectician.3

Skepticism notwithstanding, Colie argues that paradox is "often

designed to assert some fundamental and absolute truth," and the truth

asserted by the encomium moriae is the necessity of humility.40 Webster

quotes Nicholas of Cusa's dialogue between an Idiot and a Doctor,

wherein the Idiot says, "This perhaps is the difference betwixt me and

thee, thou thinkest thy self knowing, when thou art not, from hence

thou art proud; I truly know my self to be an Idiot, from hence I am

humbled, in this perhaps I am more learned."41 Vain an'd proud pre-

tensions to knowledge are paradoxically countered by a humble awareness

of frailty and limitation. In Erasmus, to the philosophers' objection,

"'tis a miserable thing for a man to err, mistake and know nothing

truly," Folly answers, "Nay rather, this is to be a man." In the

play before us, the folly of wisdom is typified by Don Diego's claim to

"ha'no body wiser than my self" (211).


The importance of humility is best represented in Hippolita's

explanation of Gerrard's jealousy. Unlike the excessive jealousy of

Valentine in Love in a Wood or Pinchwife in The Country Wife, jealousy

here serves as proof of love: "jealousy in a Gallant is humble, true

Love, and the height of respect, and only an undervalueing of himself

to over value" his mistress (219). While Gerrard plays the fool and

adopts the relatively humble pose of a dancing-master, his rival over-

values himself: "Cousin, I doubt not your amour for me, because I

doubt not your judgment" (133). Monsieur's indifference indicates that

he is too self-centered to ever think of another's affection, but

Wycherley was later to write, in poems and a letter, that there could
be no love without jealousy.43 And in one of his better poems,

Wycherley argues that jealousy elevates the mistress and humbles the

lover, because it witnesses that she is worthy to be beloved by others,

while he is unworthy to monopolize her affections. Further, his

assurance of her love would be impertinent and offensive (III, 178-


The most important distinction between Gerrard and Monsieur,

therefore, lies in love of others and love of self, the distinguishing

basis for so much Restoration and eighteenth-century psychology and

characterization, from Tom Jones and Blifil to Clarissa and her brother
James. Gerrard, Jones and Clarissa, in their several ways, are

raised by falling, becoming worthy by admitting their unworthiness.

That these characters function in part as moral exempla, and that their

conduct is based on theological virtues, makes them no less interesting;


here the moral significance of Gerrard's generosity and humility only

adds depth and richness to this supposedly thin play.


If The Gentleman Dancing-Master is paradoxical and oxymoronic, it

is the more noteworthy that the language is relatively non-metaphoric.

Compared to the other plays, there is a striking absence of elaborate

similitudes and conspicuous metaphors; there are only about ten, and

almost all of these are spoken by Gerrard and Hippolita. Such economy

is partly explained by the fact that Monsieur's "wit," such as it is,

is expended simply in French expressions. More important, similitude

and metaphor necessarily illustrate similarity and conjunction, whereas

oxymoron exhibits contradiction, dissimilarity and disjunction. With

the exception of the isolated protagonists, this play is peopled with

characters whose dress and language do not fit their nature or station.

Hippolita in effect summarizes the design of the play when she contrasts

French levity and Spanish gravity: "We shall have sport anon, betwixt

these two Contraries" (174).

One contrary that runs through all of Wycherley's work, beginning

with Lady Flippant's first line in Love in a Wood, is the choice of

marriage for love or for money. Like the paradoxical contrast of

spiritual and mundane values, mercenary self-interest of vicious

characters competes with the idealistic, selfless values of love;

Monsieur is only attracted to Hippolita's fortune, while Garrard is

foolish enough to marry her portionless. Gerrard and Hippolita are

not, however, untainted, because when she first reveals her fortune,


he can only repeat, "Twelve hundred pound a year--" (158), just as

Hippolita can only repeat "A Coach and Six" (185). Both are swayed by

material considerations, but Gerrard eventually agrees to "be such a

Fool as to steal a Woman for nothing" (206).

Contrasting values are most vivid in the last scene; the articles

of keeping between Monsieur and Flirt there appear as a grotesque

parody of the lovers' proviso scene, where Hippolita proposes, "Let us

have a good understanding betwixt one another" (218).46 Though Monsieur

is unable to see the difference, kept mistress and wife form the two

extremes of greed and generosity, or self-love and love of others.

Flirt's articles symbolize, moreover, the disjunction rampant in the

play, for they all deal with some type of separation. She and Monsieur

doubtless stand at opposite sides of the stage:

Monsieur. . there's no difference betwixt a Wife and a Wench.

Flirt. Only in Cohabitation, for the first Article shall be
Against Cohabitation; we Mistresses suffer no Cohabi-

Monsieur. Nor Wives neither now.

Flirt. Then separate Maintenance, in case you should take a Wife,
or I a new Friend.

Monsieur. How! that too? then you are every whit as bad as a

Flirt. Then my House in Town, and yours in the Country if you

Monsieur. A mer Wife.

Flirt. Then my Coach apart, as well as my Bed apart. (230).


Surrounded by such disjunction and disharmony, Gerrard and

Hippolita appear remarkably well matched. Wycherley neatly demon-

strates how well they compliment each other in the passages on modesty.

Hippolita is always in danger of seeming "a confident coming piece"

(220), although the two prostitutes provide a beneficial qualification

to her forwardness, because their exaggerated aggression tempers her

appearance of immodesty. Gerrard, however, believes that modesty is

only important for the lady, claiming that "modesty in a man is as ill

as the want of it in a Woman" (184), and that "Modesty between Lovers

is as impertinent as Ceremony between Friends" (204). He is mistaken,

for some diffidence is necessary in both lovers; moreover, the for-

wardness of both is dissembled; when they first meet, he says, "Love

and Modesty come together like Money and Covetousness, and the more we

have, the less we can shew it" (155). When they put aside dissembling,

modesty reasserts itself, suggesting that they elicit the best in each

other: "Well, though you are so modest a Gentleman as to suffer a Wife

to be put upon you with nothing, I have more conscience than to do it:

I have the twelve hundred pounds a year out of my Father's power, which

is yours, and I am sorry it is not the Indies to mend your bargain"


I stress modesty because it is a particular source of misinter-

pretation.4 Birdsall is so taken with Ilippolita's dominance that she

is disappointed when she eventually gives her hand to Gerrard.48 Dobrce

believes that Wycherley had an underlying "hatred" for llippolita, and

the usually sensible Weales concludes that "after watching Hippolita


for five acts, one wants to congratulate Monsieur on escaping marriage

with her."49 These harsh judgments result from a misunderstanding or

disregard for the "trial" plot common to so many Restoration'comedies;

lippolita admits to Gerrard, "I confess I had a mind to try whether

your interest did not sway you more than your love" (220). Because her

future and fortune are completely in Gerrard's hands, her prudence in

testing his honor and love before accepting him is only sensible; while

avoiding the aggressiveness of Flirt and Flounce, she must actively

"try" her choice while she has the chance. Ironically, Hippolita must,

to some degree, imitate her "precise" (129) aunt Caution. The epithet

is used again twice; before meeting her, Gerrard refers to Hippolita as

"a new City-Mistress, and you know they are as inquisitive as precise

in the City" (147); and Hippolita is a city mistress, even though she

herself says they "are never precise but at a Play" (220). Wycherley

plays upon the two concurrent meanings of the word, scrupulous and over-

scrupulous (O.E.D.); Hippolita must modulate between the two meanings,

acting neither too easily like Prue, nor too punctiliously like Caution.

She validates a positive, correct meaning of the word, exercising true

judgment; when Gerrard proves his love, she gives her "self and fortune

away frankly" (220).

The interplay between contradictory significations parallels the

fundamental action of The Gentleman Dancing-Master; the play dramatizes

a series of binary opposition, homologous to the contrast of folly and

wisdom, including French levity and Spanish gravity, innocence and

experience, and passivity and aggression. In scene after scene, pairs

of characters play out these contrasts, often switching roles, like the


way that Don Diego and Caution exchange their antithetical acceptance

and suspicion of Gerrard. Though characters switch sides, the cate-

gories are immutable; Hippolita successfully oscillates between

innocence and experience, or between activity and passivity, without

moderation or compromise. Nor can Gerrard, the English gentleman, be

considered a compromise between French levity and Spanish gravity; he

is at times frivolous and other times serious. Protean and adaptable,

the lovers are the only characters capable of navigating deftly between

the contrarieties; though a gentleman, Gerrard, when necessary, becomes

a dancing-master. While Monsieur is unable to adapt his speech even

momentarily to gain Hippolita's fortune, Gerrard is willing to learn a

new language: "A Dancing-School in half an hour will furnish you with

terms of the Art" (167). Gerrard and Hippolita embody the spirit of

paradox because they are not rigidly bound to any extreme. Transcending

the constrictions of contradiction, they understand that it is at times

wise to be foolish, and at times foolish to be wise.

The synthesis of conflicting qualities, such as modesty and

forwardness, is symbolized by their dance. Dance is burlesqued and

frustrated for four acts, until Gerrard and Hippolita reach an under-

standing: "faith here's my hand now in earnest, to lead me a Dance as

long as I live" (218). The significance of such a dance may be seen

in the words of Sir Thomas Elyot: "the association of a man and a

woman in dancing may be signified matrimonie. . which betokeneth

concorde." This concord is a concordia-discors, formed of masculine

and femine qualities:


Wherefore whan we behold a man and a woman daunsing to gether,
let us suppose there to be a concorde of all the side quali-
tites, being joyned to gether as I have set them in ordre.
And the moving of the man wolde be more vehement, of the woman
more delicate, and with lasse advancing of the body, signi-
fieing the courage and strength that ought to be in a man,
and the pleasant sobernesse that should be in a woman. And
in this wise fiersenesse, joined with mildnesse maketh severitie;
Audacitie with timerositie maketh magnanimitie .

He continues with the synthesis of the virtues Constance, Honour,

Sapience and Continence: "These qualities, in this wise knitte to

gether, and signified in the personages of man and woman daunsinge, do

express or sette out the figure of very nobilitie."50 Wycherley

dramatizes a similar synthesis of virtues, carefully reversing, confus-

ing, and finally correcting Gerrard's and Hippolita's qualities.

Separately they are not perfect characters, and indeed, exemplary

characters were considered inappropriate for comedy; but together, they

represent as perfect a couple as can be found in Wycherley and in

Restoration comedy.


1. George Etherege, She Would If She Could, ed. Charlene Taylor,
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971), 3.1.107ff, p. 46.

2. Dobree, Rogers and Chadwick, pointing to the play's Horatian motto,
term the play a farce. Only Holland and Righter find any meaning
or value here.

3. Following Holland, Klara Boyd notes the equation of clothing and
language, "A Study of the Imagery in the Plays of William Wycher-
ley," Diss. Florida State University, 1970, p. 58.

4. Opera Omnia, Leiden, 1703, Vol. I, p. 8.

5. See Dudley Fenner's translation of Talon, The Artes of Logicke and
Rhetorike (1584): rhetoric is "an Arte of speaking finely. It hath
two parts, Garnishing of speech, called Eloquution [and] Garnishing
of the maner of utterance, called Pronunciation." Four Tudor Books
on Education, ed. Robert Hood Bowers, (Gainesville: Scholars'
facsimiles, 1966), p. 168.

6. G. 11. Mair, ed., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909), p. 160.

7. First Modern Comedies, p. 51.

8. Institutio Oratoria, III, 189.

9. Elizabethan and Metaphysical Imagery (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1947), p. 61.

10. Works, VIII, p. 621.

11. "William Wycherley's Love in a Wood and The Gentleman Dancing-
Master: A Critical Edition," Diss. Stanford, 1969, pt. II,
p. 586.

12. Thomas Wilson translates the virtues as Plainness, Aptness, Composi-
tion (correctness) and Exornation (ornamentation); by the seventeenth
century, the four were often reduced to three: in Farnaby's Index
Rhetoricus (1625) the virtues are Elegantia, Compositione and
Dignitare, facsimile (Scolar Press, 1970), p. 16.

13. Rhodes, pt. II, p. 524. The Variety was performed in 1641, 1661,
1662, and printed in 1649. The English Monsieur was performed in
1663, 1666, 1667, 1668, and printed in 1674.

14. The English Monsieur, London, 1674, p. 1.

15. London, 1673, p. 94. R. F. Jones discusses Restoration neologism
in The Triumph of the English Language, (Stanford: Stanford Univer-
sity Press, 1953), pp. 214-271, but he does not give enough weight
to the evident resistance and hostility to this practice. Dryden
typically expresses a moderate and sensible view in the "Defense of
the Epilogue:" "For I cannot approve of their way of refining, who
corrupt our English idiom by mixing it too much with French; that is
a sophistication of language not an improvement of it; a turning
English into French, rather than a refining of English by French."
Watson, I, p. 176.

16. Miscellaneous Writings of John Evelyn, ed. William "Upcott, (London:
Henry Colburn, 1825), p. 559.

17. "An Essay on Translated Verse," in J. E. Spingarn, ed., Critical
Essays of the Seventeenth Century, (1907, rpt. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press), II, p. 198. This passage, with others,
is cited by William H. Youngren, "Generality, Science and Poetic
Language," ELH 35 (1968), p. 164.

18. Lexicon Tetraglotton, An English-French-Italian-Spanish Dictionary,
London, 1660. Cf. L. S., Remarques: "the Spaniard . scorns to
truckle under the laws of their [French] Mode; and sullenly keeps

to a fashion of some hundreds of years, rather than appear inclined
to the lightness of his neighbors." p. 98.

19. George Herbert's "The Sonne" opens

Let Forrain nations of their language boast,
What fine varieties each tongue affords:
I like our langugae, as our men and coast:
Who cannot dresse it well, want wit, not words.

Works, ed. F. E. Hutchinson, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1941),
p. 167.

20. A Voyage to England, with Observations on the Same Voyage by Doctor
Thomas Sprat, London, 1709, pp. 170 and 172.

21. Remarques, p. 96.

22. Sophist, 263e, Collected Dialogues, p. 1011.

23. For internal discourse in Stoicism, see A. A. Long, "Language, and
Thought in Stoicism," in Problems in Stoicism, p. 82.

24. On the Trinity, book XV, chap. X-XIV, Basic Writings of St. Augustine,
ed. Witney Oates, (New York: Random House, 1948), Vol. II, p. 847.

25. Leviathan, ed. W. G. Pogson Smith, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967),
p. 24. cf. John Hoskyns: "The conceits of the mind are pictures of
things and the tongue is interpreter of these pictures." Directions
for Speech and Style, ed. Hoyt Hudson, (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1935), p. 2. This work, written circa 1600, was
not printed until this century, but whole sections, including the
passage quoted, found their way into Jonson's Discoveries and Thomas
Blount's Academy of Eloquence, London, 1654. Blount has similar
commonplaces: "Speech is nothing else but an expression to another
man of the images one hath within himself," p. 97; "Thoughts are
but over-flowings of the minde and the tongue is but a servant of
the thought," p. 98; "Speech and Thought are two sisters, the
youngest created, that the eldest may be known," p. 98. See also
Thomas Wilson, p. 2, John Hewes, A Perfect Survey of the English
Tongue (1624, 1632 and 1658), epilogue and Cowley, "Ode to the
Royal Society," stanza IV.

26. Wild Civility (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970), p. 131.

27. Henry Fielding and the Augustan Ideal Under Stress (London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp. 27-8.

28. John E. Mason, Gentlefolk in the Making, Studies in the History of
Courtesy Literature (1935, rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1971), pp.
6-12 and 293-4. Gentle birth was often regarded as conferring a

debt or obligation to virtuous conduct. Mason, p. 163, quotes
William de Britaine, Humane Prudence (1680): "Urbanity and
Civility are a debt you owe to Mankind."

29. Paradoxica Epidemica (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966),
Introduction, pp. 1-38.

30. Joseph Spence, Observations, Anecdotes, and Characters of Books and
Men, ed. James M. Osborn, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), Vol. I,
p. 38. Wycherley wrote Pope about his letter of praise, "It is not
the first, you great Wits have gain'd Reputation by their paradoxi-
cal or ironical Praises; your Forefathers have done it, Erasmus and
others." The Correspondence of Alexander Pope, ed. George Sherburn,
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), Vol. I, p. 69, 11 August 1709.

31. "An Apology of Raymond Sebond," Vol. II, p. 202.

32. John Webster, Academiarum Examen London, 1654, facsimile, ed.
Allen G. Debus (New York: Elsevier Inc., 1970), p. 4.

33. Spence, p. 37.

34. I have used the following surveys of classical education: George
Kennedy, The Art of Persuasion in Greece (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1963) and The Art of Rhetoric in the Roman World
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972); D. L. Clark,
Rhetoric in Greco-Roman Education (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1957); M. L. Clark, Rhetoric at Rome (London: Cohen and
West, 1953).

35. William G. Crane has traced the editions in Wit and Rhetoric in the
Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1937), p. 61.
For the popularity of Hermogenes' progymnasmata see Annabel Patter-
son, Hermogenes and the Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1970), passim.

36. Facsimile (Scolar Press, 1972). Pope appears to have been somewhat
confused and annoyed by Wycherley's ability to argue both sides,
such as in the poems in praise of the retired life, the active life
and the mixed life (Spence, p. 38). We should perhaps take this
as a warning against reading any of Wycherley's work, including
The Plain-Dealer, as self-expression.

37. Facsimile (Scolar Press, 1968), p. 184.

38. See Henry Knight Miller, "The Paradoxical Encomium with Special
Reference to its Vogue in England, 1600-1800," M.P. LIII (1956),
pp. 145-178.

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