(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

THE RELAPSE, OR, VIRTUE IN DANGER was written as a sequel to Colley Cibber’s LOVE’S LAST SHIFT because in Vanbrugh’s opinion the latter play did not present an accurate picture of human nature. Lord Foppington is Cibber’s Sir Novelty Fashion elevated to the peerage. THE RELAPSE was a huge success, and for more than fifty years it held the London stage, sometimes running in more than one theater at a time. Historically, the play is important because it helped to break up the formulas followed in the artificial comedy of manners. Vanbrugh has been accused of irreligion, which is probably not wholly true, and of licentiousness, which is probably accurate.