Act I

the very cynosure of our eyes and hearts – a center of devotion

the 35th Dragoon Guards have halted in the village – mounted infantrymen, whose name came from “dragon” because their original musketry appeared to breath fire

fleshly men of full habit – two references to their vulgar tastes

receipt – An older term for a cooking recipe.  The word was also used to indicate a list of medical ingredients.

The pluck of Lord Nelson on board of the Victory – Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Horatio Nelson (1758-1805):  English naval hero.  Under his command the British naval forces inflicted a major defeat on the French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar in 1805.  Nelson, who lost his life in the battle, is memorialized by a statue on an exceedingly tall pedestal in London’s Trafalgar Square.

VictoryNelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, and still preserved as a museum ship at Portsmouth.  To G&S fans she is best known as the prototype for H.M.S. Pinafore.  Gilbert is supposed to have visited the Victory in 1878 and made sketches of the rigging and deck arrangements for his forthcoming nautical opera.

genius of Bismarck – Otto von Bismarck (1815-98): the creator and first chancellor of the newly united German Empire (1871).  Before “the Iron Chancellor’s” time, the German people were divided among what Winston Churchill described as “pumpernickel principalities.”

the humour of Fielding, which sounds contradictory – Nearly all writers on the subject propose that this refers to Henry Fielding (1707-54), a London magistrate, playwright, and novelist, best known for his novel Tom Jones.

coolness of Paget about to trepan – Sir James Paget (1814-99), a British surgeon and pathologist who taught at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

trepan – To cut a circular plug out of someone’s skull, preferably not your own.

Jullien, the eminent musico – Louis Antoine Jullien (1812-60), an eccentric and flamboyant conductor.  Born in France, he emigrated to England to escape his creditors.  There he organized an orchestra and produced many promenade concerts.  He finally returned to France but was thrown into debtors’ prison, where he soon died, insane.

musico – One definition is a musician, and that is probably what Gilbert meant.

wit of Macaulay, who wrote of Queen Anne – Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-59), distinguished English writer and statesman.

Queen Anne – Queen Anne reigned from 1702 (following William and Mary) until her death in 1714. England and Scotland were united to constitute Great Britain during her time on the throne.

the pathos of Paddy, as rendered by Boucicault – This probably embodies the typical poor Irishman portrayed in Boucicault’s plays.  It might also refer to Boucicault’s roles in his own Irish plays.

Boucicault – Dion Boucicault was an Irish playwright and actor who was well known in Gilbert’s day. Traveling in both the United Kingdom and America, he wrote or adapted about 400 farces, comedies, and melodramas – in some of which he acted with great success.  Several of his plays had Irish settings.

style of the Bishop of Sodor and Man – Sodor is an ancient name for the Hebrides, islands off the west coast of Scotland. The Isle of Man is much farther south, in the Irish Sea.  The most likely candidate for the Colonel’s intent would appear to be Rowley Hill, D.D. (1836-1887), who was made Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1877.

the dash of a D’Orsay – Count Alfred Guillaume Gabriel D’Orsay (1801-52) was a French dandy who married into the English nobility and became the center of a fashionable artistic and literary circle in London.

quackery – Fraudulence.

Dickens – Charles Dickens (1812-70):  Eminent English novelist, author of Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Christmas Carol, among other famous works.

Thackeray – William Makepeace Thack­eray (1811-63):  Another English novelist, who was nearly as popular as Dickens in his day.  He was the author of many satirical journal sketches and such famous novels as Vanity Fair.

Victor Emmanuel – Presumably refers to Victor Emmanuel II (1820-78), King of Sardinia, who united Italy in 1861 after decades of war with Austria and the troops of Pope Pius IX.  He became the first King of Italy and was widely admired.

peak-haunting Peveril – Sir Geoffrey Peveril was the hero of Sir Walter Scott’s historic novel Peveril of the Peak, in which the action takes place in the Peak Region of Derbyshire and on the Isle of Man.  The remains of Peveril Castle still stand.

Thomas Aquinas – An Italian religious leader, philosopher, theologian, and writer of the 13th century; one of the great pillars of the Roman Catholic faith and founder of the Dominican Friars.  He was canonized in 1323.

Doctor Sacheverell – Henry Sacheverell (ca. 1674-1724): was an Anglican clergyman who became the center of a religious dispute with political overtones during the reign of Queen Anne.  He was charged with seditious libel and adjudged guilty.  He was, however, given a light sentence:  a three-year suspension from preaching.  His seditious sermon was burned by the common hangman.

Tupper – Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-89) was a popular, but abominable English poet.  His Proverbial Philosophy, published in 1838, sold nearly two million copies.  He is mentioned in two of the Bab Ballads and was a favorite target of contemporary parodists.  Gilbert published a facetious testimonial (all in Latin) upon Tupper’s death.

Tennyson – Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92): English baron and poet Laureate 1850-92.  His epic poem The Princess was the basis for Princess Ida.  His best known work, perhaps, is Idylls of the King.

Daniel Defoe – English novelist and journalist (ca. 1660-1731).  Best known for his novel Robinson Crusoe.

Anthony Trollope – English novelist (1815-82) whose many novels generally dealt with upper middle-class families in country settings.  Among his best-known works are several novels set in the imaginary English cathedral town of Barchester.

Mr. Guizot – Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot (1787-1874), erudite and versatile Frenchman who made his mark as statesman, educator, and historian.  He published several books, held important ministerial posts, and was ambassador to Britain.

fusible – Capable of being melted or liquefied.

pipkin – A small baked clay pot.

crucible – A bowl in which metals, ores, etc., can be melted.

residuum – Latin for residue.

for this soldier-like paragon – A model of perfection as, for example, a Savoy opera.

Get at the wealth of the Czar – Emperor of Russia, who in 1881 was Alex­ander II, the one who sold us Alaska. The Czars were known for their great wealth, often ostentatiously displayed.

the family pride of a Spaniard from Aragon – A region in the north-east of Spain.  It was an independent kingdom from 1035 until it merged with Castile in the 15th century.  During its independence it conquered and ruled over many neighboring and far-flung provinces and city states, such as Naples.  The “family pride” presumably pertains to the many noble families with unsullied blood lines that originated in Aragon.

force of Mephisto pronouncing a ban – Mephisto is presumably the Prince of Darkness, also known as Mephistopheles, as in Faust.

ban – A curse: *#!*#XX! or worse.

a smack of Lord Waterford, reckless and rollick – Presumably refers to the Beresford family, the Marquis of Waterford, in Ireland.  The family had a reputation for daring and, often, notorious shenanigans.  Henry Beresford, the third marquis, was killed in a hunting accident.  Another made his mark as an admiral, and one was known as “the mad marquis.”

swagger of Roderick, heading his clan – There are several possibilities here.  The strongest candidate, by far, is Sir Walter Scott’s Roderick Dhu, of “haughty mien and lordly air.”  He was the overbearing Highland chieftain in Scott’s poem “The Lady of the Lake.”

the keen penetration of Paddington Pollaky – Most authorities agree this refers to a highly successful and internationally famous private detective whose office was at Paddington Green, London.  His real name was Ignatius Paul Pollaky.

grace of an odalisque on a divan – A concubine in a Turkish harem.  Strictly speaking, an odalisque was simply a female Turkish slave.  Undraped odalisques reclining on divans were popular subjects of erotic paintings of the day.

Hannibal – Carthaginian general and great tactical genius who lived about 247-183 B.C.  He is best known for leading his troops and elephants across the Alps to attack Rome.  After many military successes in Italy he was finally defeated without ever taking Rome.  He returned to Carthage but went into exile, where he died by his own hand.

skill of Sir Garnet in thrashing a cannibal – This refers to Sir Garnet Wolseley, who in the 1870s was the leader of successful military campaigns against native African leaders both in the Gold Coast and in South Africa.  He was later made a viscount and now is generally referred to as Lord Wolseley.

Hamlet – “The melancholy Dane,” tragic protagonist of what many believe to be Shakespeare’s greatest play.

The Stranger – The protagonist of a then well-known play of Augustus Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue (1761-1819), translated from German into English by Benjamin Thompson and published and performed under the title The Stranger.

little of Manfred, but not very much of him – The most likely candidate is the gloomy hero of Lord Byron’s dramatic poem of the same name.  This character, supposedly Byron’s self-image, lived as a recluse in an Alpine castle, haunted by remorse for his incestuous role in his sister’s suicide.

Beadle of Burlington – This is almost as­suredly the beadle, or uniformed attendant, who maintains decorum in the Burlington Arcade off Piccadilly.  The arcade is still very much in business and still maintains a corps of retired military officers who serve as beadles, uniforms and all.

Richardson’s show – In his book Sketches by Boz – Illustrative of Every-Day Life of Every-Day People, Charles Dickens describes this traveling theatrical troupe as he witnessed it at the Greenwich Fair: “This immense booth, with the large stage in front, so brightly illuminated with variegated lamps, and pots of burning fat, is ‘Richardson’s,’ where you have a melo­drama, with three murders and a ghost, a pantomime, a comic song, an overture, and some incidental music, all done in five-and-twenty minutes.”

Mr. Micawber – A character in Dickens’s David Copperfield.  He was a shiftless fellow, but always full of unjustified optimism. 

Madame Tussaud – Marie Tussaud (1760-1850) was a Swiss who learned wax modeling in Paris and founded her now-famous London wax museum in the early 1800s.

all of county family – gentry, with ancestral roots in a particular county

Fleshly thing – something carnal or sensual

Bunthorne’s poem Oh, Hollow! Hollow! Hollow!: – At first, Patience mistakes the title for a reference to the call (“Halloa”) a fox-hunter makes when a fox breaks cover.  Amaranthine asphodel means “undying lilies”, and calomel, colocynth, and aloe are all laxatives derived from plants.  The gist of the poem is the incompatibility of poetic and medicinal properties of flowers.

You are not Empyrean – Celestial

You are not Della Cruscan – school of poetry started by sentimental Englishmen in Florence in the eighteenth century.

You are not even Early English – literature & architecture style, circa 13th century

Oh, South Kensington – Lady Jane is apostrophizing an artistic area of London including the School of Design and several museums.

surmounted by something Japanese – Japanese style was a fad for the aesthetics

when uttered in Hessians – military boots (from German state Hesse)

the peripatetics of long-haired æsthetics – wanderings

yearning for Elysian Fields – Abode of the blessed, in Greek myth

black Aceldama of sorrow – field of blood; originally the potter’s field purchased with Judas’s blood money.

Oh, forgive her, Eros – the god of love

Oh, Chronos, this is too bad of you – Father Time, in Greek mythology

Gaily pipe Pandaean pleasure – refers to Pan, Greek pastoral god, who played Pan pipes.

With a Daphnephoric bound – Daphne, a nymph renowned for virgin timidity and shyness, was changed into a laurel tree to escape the attentions of Apollo.  She presumably bounded as she ran.

Act II

a puling milkmaid! – whimpering (thus implying childishness)

well-saved combings – hair collected (from a brush) to puff up a hairstyle

with rouge, lip-salve, and pearly grey – a face powder

decalet – a ten-line poem

or caught bluebottles their legs to pull – flies

his placidity emetical – nauseating (or worse)

To stuff his conversation full of quibble and of quiddity – to make his conversation pompous and boring with hair-spitting.

they are of the Inner Brotherhood – leading Pre-Raphaelite aesthetes often referred to themselves as “the Inner Brotherhood”

distinguish gems from paste – artificial gems made from finely ground glass

half-bred black and tan – mongrel terrier dog, a low-class pet

thinks suburban “hops” more fun than “Monday Pops” – prefers low-class dances to more high-brow classical concerts

blue and white young man – a reference to the craze for blue & white ceramics and pottery

Francesa da Rimini – the ill-fated heroine of a tragic tale, celebrated by Dante, brought in here because of her medieval background

A Chancery Lane young man, a Somerset House young man – references to Legal and Government office districts, respectively

Greenery-yallery, Grosvenor Gallery – Green and yellow were colors favored by Pre-Raphaelites, who exhibited in Grosvenor Gallery in London

Sewell & CrossHowell & JamesWaterloo HouseMadame Louise – references to fashionable drapers and milliners shops