The Rover; Or, The Banish'd Cavaliers, Part Two "Variety Is The Soul Of Pleasure"

Aphra Behn

"Variety Is The Soul Of Pleasure"

Context: This quotation is apparently a variation of the proverb: "Variety is the spice of life." It appears in Aphra Behn's second play about the Rover, Willmore, a Cavalier banished by Parliamentary action. Her first play, apparently the rage of the London season in 1677, had made her famous; and this second play takes advantage of the theme which had proved so popular in her hands. The scene is Madrid, where are gathered a number of exiled Englishmen who have taken refuge from Parliamentarian persecution. Among them are Willmore, the Rover; Ned Blunt, an English country gentleman; Nicholas Fetherfool, a foolish country squire and Ned Blunt's friend; and Mr. Hunt, an ensign. These go in a group to the home of the English ambassador, where they meet Lieutenant Shift and Beaumond, friends of Willmore in earlier adventures. The conversation turns to women, in whom all the men, but especially Willmore, have a lively interest. Willmore, a widower who lost a wealthy wife he scarcely mourns, inquires about the pleasures of Madrid from Beaumond, turning the conversation away from his late wife:


WILLMORE
–But come, let's leave this mortifying Discourse, and tell me how the price of Pleasure goes.
BEAUMOND
At the old Rates still; he that gives most is happiest, some few there are for Love!
WILLMORE
Ah, one of the last, dear Beaumond; and if a Heart or Sword can purchase her, I'll bid as fair as the best. Damn it, I hate a Whore that asks me Mony.
BEAUMOND
Yet have I known thee venture all thy stock for a new Woman.
WILLMORE
Ay, such a Fool I was in my dull Days of Constancy, but I am now for Change, (and should I pay as often, 'twould undo me)–for Change, my Dear, of Place, Clothes, Wine, and Women. Variety is the Soul of Pleasure, a Good unkown; and we want faith to find it.