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WSG to The Era, Dec. 5, 1891 (issue 2776), p. 11

Mr. W.S. Gilbert’s Jokes.

To the Editor of The Era.

Sir, – In common fairness permit me to disclaim the blasphemous rubbish you were good enough to father upon me in your "Theatrical Gossip" of last week.  The joke (such as it is) is probably as old as the National Anthem itself.

  Your obedient servant,
    W. S. GILBERT.
Nov. 29th, 1891.

[The following paragraph had appeared in the Era of Nov. 28, 1891:  "Several of Mr. W.S. Gilbert’s sayings are going the rounds just now, ranging from the "lowest form of wit" – puns which would really hardly pass current at the Gaiety – to scathing (if apocryphal) epigram.  There are those who assert that Mr. Gilbert, trying to shave himself in a yacht on a stormy sea, was not above wishing that he was Her Majesty – for the hideous reason that "God shaves the Queen."  Another time (as the jest-books say) the great Savoyard was boasting of his new country house and farm.  "I have forty thousand head of live-stock," said he; and to the gentle protest, "Oh, Mr. Gilbert!" only replied, "I have indeed.  At least forty thousand; mostly bees."  Then, too, there were his congratulations to the author of The Dancing Girl, now about to be followed by Hamlet at the Haymarket – on the ground that "at least he would have the satisfaction of being succeeded by his equal."  And a speedy fame has attended the Gilbertian definition which the good natured Hamlet himself quotes – some say himself invented – of his performance, "Fun without vulgarity." On ne prête qu’aux riches; and if Mr. Gilbert did not say this, he has at least deserved that it should be attributed to him.]

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