Gilbert and Sullivan Archive


Also Happened in Eh??


8.1 1880

David Duffey's Patter: At last I have found something occurring in Australia!

8.1.1 World Exhibition

The 1880 World Exhibition was held in Melbourne.

8.1.2 New York Streets

In New York, streets were lit by electricity for the first time.

8.1.3 Bingo!

The game of 'bingo' was first played in the USA, having been developed from the Italian lotto game of tumbula (sic)

8.1.4 Boycott

Captain C C Boycott, land agent in County Mayo, Ireland, is "boycotted" for refusing to accept rents fixed by his tenants.

8.1.5 Gladstone's Philanderings

Lord Beaconsfield (Disraeli) resigns as British Prime Minister and is succeeded by W E Gladstone. Disraeli also publishes his novel 'Endymion':- "When I want to read a novel, I write one myself". Gladstone could have said, "When I want a change of female company, I take to the streets to find it myself."

8.1.6 Helen Keller

Helen Keller was born.

8.1.7 Uncle Remus & Ben Hur

J C Haris wrote 'Uncle Remus' and Lew Wallace, 'Ben Hur'.

8.1.8 Offenbach

The French Sullivan, Jacques Offenbach died aged 60.

8.1.9 Independent Transvaal

The Transvaal declared itself independent of Britain and the Boers under Kruger declared a republic.

8.1.10 President Garfield

J A Garfield was elected President of the USA.

8.1.11 Cologne Cathedral

The construction of Cologne Cathedral was completed; it was begun in 1248. It was to last until 1944, when they had to start rebuilding it all over again.

8.1.12 The Pacific War (sic)

The pacific War - Chile against Bolivia and Peru - began (-1884)

8.1.13 Guildhall School of Music

The London Guildhall School of Music was founded.

8.1.14 Pasteur

Louis Pasteur discovered a chicken cholera vaccine.

8.1.15 Electric Generator

James Wimshurst invented an electric generator.

8.1.16 MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur was born; well, he wasn't actually a general when he was born, although he probably told people he was. What a high opinion he had of himself, and how little he deserved it.

8.1.17 Canned Fruits

Canned fruits and meats first begin to appear in the stores - they had originally been developed for military use.

8.1.18 First Test Match

Second in importance during the year 1880 (to the first production of PP) was that the first Test Match in England between England and Australia was played. England won - just as they are going to in 1997.(That's cricket, by the way.)

8.2 But What about 1879?

Philip Sternenberg replied: Good chronology, as always, David. Now, can you tell us what happened in 1879, since that was the other year Pirates "premiered"?

To which David Duffey responded: Thanks for bringing this up Philip. I try to focus on events, etc. which occurred during the run of the first production, to try to get some idea of what might have been on the minds of people of the period, put the operas into some sort of historical context, or try to select occurrences which have a resonance down the ages: Helen Keller's birth, for example, would of course not impinge on the mind of anyone at the time as being of the slightest interest. The topsy-turvy way OOTW is going backwards through the canon has given me some difficulty. I could, for example, have introduced Sir Garnet thrashing his cannibal.

8.2.1 Zulu War

As it happens, 1879 was the year in which the cannibal thrashed Sir Garnet first, in the short but bloody Zulu War. British troops were massacred at Isandhlwanda.

8.2.2 Cetewayo

The Battle at Cetewayo, on the other hand, was a triumph for the soldiers of the queen. It was never portrayed by the British press as a massacre, but quick loading rifles versus spears on an open plain did not exactly make it an equal contest. This glorious event would certainly have warmed the heart of a right-thinking Englishman, who must have known that a javelin was no match for a Chassepot rifle. "That put the hat on them", was a typical example of a forced pun at the time, which also gives an insight into the attitude of the time. (I do NOT want anyone to riposte with "No, it was my 'at 'e chewed.")

8.2.3 London's Telephone Exchange

In 1879 London's first telephone exchange was opened, but I was going to keep that for the Pinafore run.

8.2.4 Alsace-Lorraine

Alsace-Lorraine was declared an integral part of Germany and that argument certainly resounds down the years -- Strasbourg was not chosen as the site of the European Parliament by accident.

8.2.5 And on the last Sabbath day

Chris Wain added: and you surely know what happened on the last Sabbath day, and has been remembered for a very long time.... Richard Blight replied: Nobody gets that past me. It was of course the Tay Bridge Disaster, in which nearly a hundred people lost their lives when the Tay Bridge (in Scotland) fell as a train was crossing. The 'Disaster' part refers, of course, to the truly awful poem inflicted on society by William McGonagall, a man whom the Oxford Companion to English (sic) Literature described as, I believe, the "world's worst poet".


Page created 30 April 1998