AS PREFIXED TO THE FIRST EDITTON OF THE BOBBERS PUBLISHED IN 1781
Now first translated into English.
THIS play is to be regarded merely as a dramatic narrative, in which, for the purpose of tracing out the innermost workings of the soul, advantage has been taken of the dramatic method, without otherwise conforming to the stringent rules of theatrical composition, or seeking the dubious advantage of stage adaptation. It must be admitted as somewhat inconsistent that three very remarkable people, whose acts are dependent on perhaps a thousand contingencies, should be completely developed within three hours, considering that it would scarcely be possible, in the ordinary course of events, that three such remarkable people should, even in twenty-four hours, fully reveal their characters to the most penetrating inquirer. A greater amount of incident is here crowded together than it was possible for me to confine within the narrow limits prescribed by Aristotle and Batteux.
It is, however, not so much the bulk of my play as its contents which banish it from the stage. Its scheme and economy require that several characters should appear, who would offend the finer feelings of virtue, and shock the delicacy of our manners. Every delineator of human character is placed in the same dilemma, if he proposes to give a faithful picture of the world as it really is, and not an ideal phantasy, a mere creation of his own. It is the course of mortal things that the good should be shadowed by the bad, and virtue shine the brightest when contrasted with vice. Whoever proposes to discourage vice, and to vindicate religion, morality, and social order, against their adversaries, must unveil crime in all its deformity, and place it before the eyes of