WE confine ourselves, in this column, to noticing, from a dramatic and literary point of view, the new skit on the best-abused people in London – the professional aesthetes – omitting any comment on Mr. Arthur Sullivan's charming music. And, from the point of view from which we consider it, Patience is a distinct success. Everything that is possible has now been done; and when Patience and The Colonel have had their run the subject will be left in peace, and the heroes of it forgotten. With every appreciation of Mr. Burnand's Colonel, we take leave to think that the venial errors and pleasant vices of the would-be aesthetes – the mere imitators, after all, of artists and critics of culturs and attainments – are better suited for such satire as may be applied to them lightly in comic verse and melodious music than for the satire that is applied through the medium of comedy. Mr. Gilbert's instinct guided him well when he elected to write, not a comedy, but the libretto of a comic opera. Some things are still sacred for comedy; nothing is sacred for a comic opera. No one can reasonably take even the slightest umbrage at the fun that is here made; if the joke is a small one, pretty music and a patter song may be trusted to carry it off successfully; and the pleasure of the eye is assured by a parade of damsels, first in the hues of Morris, Helbronner, and Liberty, and then in the garments of Mdme. Louise. In a word, all the material for effective comic opera is here, and it is skilfully used. We have the two aesthetic poets – the one of them permanently an aesthete; the other eventually altered from "this melancholy literary man" to that perhaps not very obviously higher type of humanity, "a threepenny 'bus young man" –
We have a company of dragoons who – in despair of otherwise winning the attentions of their loves – endeavour in vain to follow in the fashions of aestheticism. We have the pretty milkmaid who gives her name to the piece, and who naturally becomes the love of a poet whose songs are of pastoral puerility, and whose art is that of a Marcus Ward Christmas-card – quite excellent in its way, but hardly an adequate substitute for Michelangelo and Velasquez. We have, lastly, the twenty damsels themselves, who being not "very" but "supremely" happy, somehow "never seem quite well," but who eventually pass from under the melancholy dominion of the poetaster to a world of commonplace activity, in which they appear as "prettily pattering, cheerily chattering, Madame Louise young girls.""A steady and stolid-y jolly Bank-holiday
Every-day young man."
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 13 November 2000