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WSG to The Observer, Feb. 3, 1878, p. 2.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE OBSERVER

SIR – Your dramatic critic, in his recent notice on the revival of “Victims” at the Court Theatre, writes as follows:--

“Mr. Hare has once more found it necessary to seek that rare commodity, a new modern comedy, able by its intrinsic merit to justify its production on a stage where much is looked for, and where the interpretation is sure to be all that could be desired. The search, like other searches animated by the same motive, would appear to have been in vain.”

In other words, your critic assumes that Mr. Hare has revived “Victims,” because no dramatic author of this present day is able to produce a play that deserves to rank with it.

Against this unjust and degrading inference I feel bound to protest, and I am convinced that Mr. Hare, if he were appealed to, would at once disclaim all sympathy with such a proposition. If Mr. Hare elects to revive an old piece, no one has a right to complain of him for doing so; but to argue from that that Mr. Albery, Mr. Wills, Dr. Westland Marston, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr. H.T. Craven, Mr. Herman Merivale, Mr. Palgrave Simpson, Mr. H.J. Byron, Mr. Dubourg, Mr. Charles Reade, Mr. Burnand, Mr. Wilkie Collins, and, I will venture to add, Mr. W.S. Gilbert, are unable to produce plays which, intellectually and dramatically, are worthy to rank with “Victims,” is as unjust as it would be to conclude that, because “Victims” has been selected for revival, it necessarily follows that it is of all bygone plays the one which most richly deserves that honour.

Your critic is a straightforward, fearless, and dispassionate writer, and I feel certain that on reflection he will see reason to modify his hasty inference from Mr. Hare’s last production. – I am, your servant,

W.S. GILBERT

London, 29th January, 1878.



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