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WSG to The Era, Dec. 17, 1887 (issue 2569), p. 8


To the Editor of The Era.

Sir, –  I decline to enter into a controversy with Mr. Warner, partly because I do not fight with bludgeons, but mainly because my quarrel is not with him.  If Mr. Warner’s admirers desire to express their sympathy with him under the interesting circumstance of his going abroad on a professional tour, I am not so unreasonable as to find fault with Mr. Warner because their enthusiasm expresses itself in the form of a testimonial benefit.  Neither can I find it in my heart to blame Mr. Warner for so cordially approving the action of his friends in organising a testimonial benefit on his behalf.  Still less do I feel it to be incumbent upon Mr. Warner to hand over the net profits of that benefit to a charity, in order to teach me that "there is something in our natures above the desire for filthy lucre."

It is, perhaps, a little ungracious in Mr. Warner to apply this contemptuous expression to the handsome sum of money which his friends and admirers have collected, with infinite trouble, for his advantage, but as I did not contribute to it that is no affair of mine.  My quarrel (such as it is) is with the well-meaning, but (as I think) mistaken gentlemen, who employ the powerful machinery of the benefit system to collect a large sum of money for a highly paid and continuously employed actor, thereby materially impairing the efficacy of that machinery when it is directed to what I conceive to be its legitimate purpose – the relief of actors and actresses who are in really necessitous circumstances.

In conclusion, I have only to assure Mr Warner (against whom I have no personal feeling, and whom, indeed, I hardly know) that I should not have "aired my opinions" upon this subject, if Mr Warner’s friends had not dragged me from the congenial obscurity in which I implored them to allow me to remain.

  I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
    W. S. GILBERT.
London, Dec. 13th, 1887.

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