A NEW PLAY BY MESSRS. GILBERT AND SULLIVAN. The Gloucester Journal 1882 December 2 157(8355): 8, col. 6, pgph. 2 [unsigned review]

        The artistic productions of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan stand so high in popular favour that the success of any work of their composition amounts to a foregone conclusion. It is needless to state that the reception of the new operetta Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri, produced at the Savoy Theatre on Saturday night, was as brilliant as a crowded house, innumerable encores which prolonged the performance till close upon midnight, and enthusiastic calls for author, composer, and the principal executants could make it. Perhaps the operetta is something like previous productions; the authors go on extracting the same or from the same mint; they till their field without any "rotation of crops." But familiarity does not spoil the fun. In Iolanthe the public are introduced to the House of Peers, who "do nothing in particular and do it very well," to a Lord Chancellor, who embodies the law, which said law embodies all that is excellent, and to a member of Parliament. This Lord Chancellor deeply feels the responsibility of his office. Can he give his own consent to marry his own ward? Can he marry his own ward without his own consent? And if he marries his own ward without his own consent, can he commit himself for contempt of his own Court? And if he commit himself for contempt of his own Court, can he appear by counsel before himself to move for arrest of his own judgment? There are some clever allusions to modern Parliamentary experiences, but perhaps one of the happiest strokes is directed at the barrister. When one of the fairies "went to the bar as a very young man," he determined to work "on a new and original plan." The virtuous resolutions of the legal fairy are worth quoting as an illustration of the humour of the operetta:
"I'll never assume that a rogue or a thief
Is a gentleman worthy implicit belief,
Because his attorney has sent me a brief.

I'll never throw dust in a juryman's eyes,
Or hoodwink a judge who is not over-wise,
Or assume that the witnesses summoned in force
In Exchequer, Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, or Divorce
Have perjured themselves as a matter of course.

Ere I go into court I will read my brief through;
And I'll never take work I'm unable to do,
My learned profession I'll never disgrace
By taking a fee with a grin on my face,
When I haven't been there to attend to the case."


 

transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 25 March 2002