Another great Victorian practitioner of light verse was William Gilbert of the Gilbert and Sullivan light operas. I thought I should include him too in this series, since he was a gifted librettist and in fact set the stage for the delightful and witty tradition of English musicals. The lyrics in the best musicals (the one art form in which the Americans have rivaled the British) have often a great deal to say to us besides providing entertainment, and the perspectives they embody are socially fascinating.
Glbert’s lyrics cover a great range, though one can trace certain themes recurring. One of these is his cynical view of British worthies. His Admiral of the Fleet, his Model Major General, and his Lord Chief Justice, are caricatures, but the qualities they embody can be seen in similar holders of (and aspirants to) high positions all over the world.