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Length: c. 3 minutes

About this Piece

“When I was a lad” from H.M.S. Pinafore is sung by Sir Joseph Porter, who is believed to be modeled on William Henry Smith (1825-91), a successful bookseller who became a member of Parliament and eventually First Lord of the Admiralty. Gilbert’s satire is not so much a critique of Smith himself (and of his lack of naval experience) as of the system that allowed aristocrats to purchase military commissions.