The prologue is written in rhymed couplets by an actor, playwright, producer, and theater manager named David Garrick. The prologue questions whether anyone needs any instruction in gossip and rumormongering, saying that society is completely saturated by it. Members of society read about each other in the newspaper’s gossip column and laugh at their friends while becoming indignant when the gossip is about themselves. This play will then attempt to attack scandal in the same way a warrior tries to defeat a monster, although the playwright is unlikely to win in this battle.
The play’s prologue introduces gossip as a nearly universal problem in the world of rich Londoners. People are hurt when rumors are spread about themselves, but still seek out gossip about their friends and acquaintances. The play will attack this practice as a vice and point out its immorality, but ultimately the playwright seems to have no real intention (or potential) to change public behavior so that people actually gossip less.