Dear Sir,--By inscribing this slight performance to you, I do not mean so much to compliment you as myself. It may do me some honour to inform the public, that I have lived many years in intimacy with you. It may serve the interests of mankind also to inform them, that the greatest wit may be found in a character, without impairing the most unaffected piety.

I have, particularly, reason to thank you for your partiality to this performance. The undertaking a comedy not merely sentimental was very dangerous; and Mr. Colman, who saw this piece in its various stages, always thought it so. However, I ventured to trust it to the public; and, though it was necessarily delayed till late in the season, I have every reason to be grateful.

I am, dear Sir, your most sincere friend and admirer,



  1. The normal theater season in London at this time was from January to mid-May, so Goldsmith's play, which premiered on March 15, was close to the season's end.  Should the play succeed, there would not be much of the season left for performances.

    — Stephen Holliday
  2. George Colman (1732–1794) was the manager of the Covent Garden Theater and expected the play to fail.

    — Stephen Holliday
  3. At this time in the 18th century, sentimental drama described plays that often explored distressing aspects of life rather than purely comic events. Goldsmith was taking a chance by writing a play that light-heartedly focuses on human folly.

    — Stephen Holliday
  4. The word "unaffected" here is closer to the word "sincere." "Piety" should be read as "faith." In this sentence, Goldsmith means that wittiness and religious faith can be found in the same person.

    — Stephen Holliday