The Relapse; Or, Virtue In Danger "Thinking Is The Greatest Fatigue In The World"

Sir John Vanbrugh

"Thinking Is The Greatest Fatigue In The World"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Vanbrugh's The Relapse is a comedy of manners reflecting an age in which the realistic comedy held up to their own gaze the foibles of a group of courtiers who concerned themselves most with love, preferably outside of marriage. The chief characters of the play are Loveless, a handsome young man who has acquired a place again in the world of fashion by marrying Amanda, a rich and virtuous young widow. Loveless brings his pretty bride from the country to London, where they are visited by other persons of their class. Among the visitors is Lord Foppington, who is the kind of man his name implies. He pays great attention to himself and to his dress; he has a gallery which is furnished, as he says, with nothing but books–and mirrors. He loves to go to the chocolate houses where, he says, one has the prettiest prospect in the world, as there are mirrors all about the rooms. He spends his time in the pursuit of pleasure, including four hours a day during which he toasts himself drunk. Upon meeting Amanda, Loveless' new bride, he immediately states his intent to seduce her. When he learns that Amanda has been living in the countryside he sympathizes with her and asks, in his affected way:


LORD FOPPINGTON
. . . Far Gad's sake, Madam, haw has your Ladyship been able to subsist thus long under the fatigue of a country life?
AMANDA
My life has been very far from that, my Lord; it has been a very quiet one.
LORD FOPPINGTON
Why, that's the fatigue I speak of, Madam, for 'tis impossible to be quiet without thinking: now thinking is to me the greatest fatigue in the world.
AMANDA
Does not your Lordship love reading then?
LORD FOPPINGTON
Oh, passionately, Madam–but I never think of what I read.