|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|William Schwenck Gilbert (18361911)|
|Critical and Biographical Introduction|
|WHEN, after appearing from time to time in the London Fun, the Bab Ballads were published in book form in 1870, everybody, young and old, found them provocative of hearty laughter. Much sound and little sense, was the title-page motto. Perhaps the fact that Mr. Gilberts readers did not know why they laughed was one great charm of the ballads. The humor was felt, not analyzed, and involved no mental fatigue. If there was little sense, no continuity of meaning, there was usually significant suggestion; and social foibles were touched off with good-natured irony in a delightfully inconsequent fashion. The much sound was a spirited lyric swing which clung to the memory, a rich rhythm, and a rollicking spontaneity, which disregarded considerations of grammar and pronunciation in a way that only added to the fun.|| 1|
| The Bab Ballads, and More Bab Ballads which appeared in 1872, have become classic. In many of them may be found the germs of the librettos which have made Gilbert famous in comic opera. Pinafore, The Mikado, Patience, and many others of a long and well-known list written to Sir Arthur Sullivans music, have furnished the public with many popular songs. A volume of dainty lyrics has been made up from them; and, entitled Songs of a Savoyard (from the Savoy Theatre of London, where the operas were first represented), was published in 1890.|| 2|
| Gilbert was born in London November 18th, 1836, and educated in that city; after his graduation from the University of London he studied law, and was called to the bar of the Inner Temple in 1863. Five years later he became a captain of the Royal Aberdeenshire Highlanders. The success of his first play, Dulcamara, in 1866, led him to abandon the law, and he has since devoted himself to authorship. Gilbert was knighted in 1907 and died in 1911.|| 3|