Utopia, Limited

Act I

Tarara – The Public Exploder’s name is a reference to the recent music-hall hit song imported from America:  “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!”

Girton – a women’s college at Cambridge University, founded in 1869

Lalabalele talala! etc. – Gilbert used some actual Polynesian for Tarara’s raging:  “Idiot, I run around screaming but can’t make much more noise, since I am hoarse. Crossly I drag myself into the open and go spinning around sweating.”

Double-first in the world’s university – in British higher education, top honors in two final examinations

dynamite explodes in his auriculars – ears

song of far niente – idleness (in Italian)

To which some add (but others do not) Ireland – a reference to the long-raging debate over Irish independence

The Kodaks do their best – Kodak cameras (which came out in 1888) were advertised with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest.”

Knightsbridge nursemaids, serving fairies, Stars of proud Belgravian airies – servant girls the Guardsmen presumably have left behind in London

ye South Pacific Island viviparians – those whose young are born live (not hatched)

Ulahlica! – The Utopian equivalent for “Hear, Hear, Hear!”

swell the county rate – increase the local taxes

what contango means and also backwardation – fees paid to postpone settlement of a stock purchase or sale, respectively

K.C.B. – Knight Commander of the (Order of the) Bath (high honor)

Q.C. – Queen’s Counsel, a high-ranking lawyer

M.P. – Member of Parliament (elected Politician)

terrify the simple Gaul – the French

Maxim gun and Nordenfelt – kinds of machine gun

thanks to coke – a fuel made from coal

Company Limited – an incorporated company (“Inc.” or “Ltd.)

of sovereigns all the pink – the best

Joint Stock Companies Act of Parliament ’62 – This act made it easier for small investors to pool their resources and incorporate with reduced personal risk (limited liability). Note: Seven was the required number of founders to establish a company, and the word “limited” (Ltd.) had to be added to the company’s name.

Act II

the notes of lover’s lay – a poem to be sung

Court of St. James’s vs. Court of St. James’s Hall – confusing the royal palace with the music hall which featured the original “Christy Minstrels” (Royal audience members were not amused)

all that isn’t Belgrave Square is Strand and Piccadilly – fashionable areas of London

Don’t be unhappy, it’s still on the tapis – under consideration

an English girl of eleven stone two – A stone equals 14 pounds, so Goldbury’s ideal girl weighs 156 lbs.—of course, she’s 5 foot 10

Eleven maids out, eleven maids in, And perhaps an occasional “maiden over!” – Cricket playing references (a “maiden over” is analogous to a scoreless inning in baseball)

She’ll waltz away like a teetotum – a kind of top

short-petticoated – an indication of being a young girl (before wearing long skirts)

that asinorum pons I have crossed – actually, “pons asinorum,” or Bridge of Asses; schoolboy slang for one of Euclid’s propositions, due to the difficulty of “getting over” it