The last of the 20 items in this collection of Gilbert-without-Sullivan will be familiar to all serious G&S fans: it's an 1868 miniature verse-sketch of Trial by Jury--frequently printed in full in G&S biographies and criticism. The other pieces, however, are less commonly encountered prose stories from Gilbert's comic-magazine days, some of which are known only as precursors of G&S operetta plots. ""My Maiden Brief"" is an autobiographical tale from W.S.G.'s lawyer days. Later stories feature Gilbertian ""topsy-turvy-dom""--with foreshadowings of the whimsies and tricks in The Sorcerer, Iolanthe (several ""fairyland"" larks), and other operettas. On the other hand, however, there are surprising episodes of horror and pathos, with glimmers of evidence to support the dark view of the Gilbert personality taken by some biographers. Much that's precious, strained, and insular--but also some playful, engaging browsing for G&S fans and fanciers of period humor.