The Pirates of Penzance


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From the book Titwillow by Guy and Claude Walmisley

Animalculous. Of or pertaining to animalcules, that is, a minute animal, invisible, or nearly so, to the naked eye.

Astronomer Royal. Greenwich Observatory was built by Charles II in 1675, on the summit of Flamstead Hill, so called from the first Astronomer Royal, John Flamstead, who commenced his residence and duties there on 10 July, 1676.

The Observatory was moved to Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex, in 1948. The castle was built in 1440 by Sir Roger de Fiennes, Treasurer to the Household of Henry VI. Greenwich Hospital and Palace are quite distinct from the original Observatory. The Hospital for Seamen occupied the site of a Royal Palace built by Edward I which was removed during the Commonwealth. Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth were born at the Palace, and Edward VI died there. It was rebuilt in the reign of Charles II and William III, and in 1694 was converted into a sailor's hospital.

Babylonic Cuneiform. Having the shape or form of a wedge. Applied to the wedge-shaped or arrow-headed characters, or to the inscriptions in such characters, of the ancient Persians, Assyrians, etc. Cuneiform writing is thought to have originated with the Pre-Semetic inhabitants of Mesopotamia at least 6,000 years ago. The Assyro-Babylonian cuneiform is the most important and most complicated.

Binomial theorem. The theorem invented by Sir Isaac Newton for raising a binomial (in Algebra a quantity consisting of two terms connected by the sign + or -, denoting the sum or the difference of the two terms) to any power, or for extracting any root of it by an approximating infinite series.

Black Flag. The skull and cross bones. The pirate flag, an emblem of mortality, usually known as the "Old Roger" or "Jolly Roger". The cross bones were two human thigh bones laid across one another.

Before the use of the white skull on a black field with cross bones--the favourite ensign of pirates--they flew a flag portraying Death, with an hourglass in one hand and a dart in the other striking into a heart, and three drops of blood delineated as falling from it.

Caractacus. King of the Britons about 50 A.D. His capital was at Colchester. For nearly nine years he maintained an energetic resistance to the Romans, but was finally defeated and treacherously delivered to them. He and his family were taken to Rome, and made to take part in a triumphal parade beforethe Emperor Claudius. The Emperor granted life to him and his family.

Caradoc, Sir. Or Cra(d)dock, a Knight of the Round Table. The only one who could quaff the golden cup, and the only man to be wedded to a chaste wife at the Court. The story of the magic mantle which she alone could wear--on other women it crinkled up and split into shreds--is told in the "Boy and the Mantle".

Central Criminal Court. The Old Bailey--the most famous criminal court in the world--was set up by the Central Criminal Court Act of 1834.

The judges of the Court are the Lord Mayor, Lord Chancellor, judges of the High Court, Dean of Arches, Aldermen of the City of London, the Recorder, the Common Serjeant of the City of London and the judge of the City of London Court, any person who has been Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper or a judge of the High Court and such others as the Crown from time to time may appoint.

Jurisdiction of the Court.

(1) All crime within the City of London, Middlesex and parts of Essex, Kent and Surrey forming the suburbs of the Metropolis.

(2) By certurari, indictments pending in any Court of Quarter Sessions in this area.

(3) Crime on the High Seas.

(4) By request, anything sent by the King's Bench Division of the High Court.

Centrebit. A carpenter's boring tool.

Chassepot rifle. Named after Antoine A. Chassepot, a French inventor of firearms. It was a direct-action bolt gun firing a cartridge and was used by the French Army in 1870.

"Climbing over rocky mountain." This chorus, sung by the Major-General's daughters, is taken almost word for word from the song as originally written by Gilbert in Thespis--the first collaborative work of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Differential Calculus. Invented by Leibnitz, it treats of the values of ratios of differentials, that is, quantities that vary continuously.

Dow, Gerard, or Douw. A noted Dutch painter of genre scenes, and a pupil of Rembrandt. Born at Leyden in 1613, he died there 1675.

Emeutes. (French) A disturbance, a riot, a seditious commotion.

Frogs of Aristophanes, The. Which contains the famous "croaking chorus" was one of the comedies of Aristophanes, the greatest of the poets of what is called the "Old Attic Comedy". He wrote fifty-four comedies of which eleven have come down to us, and lived in the age of Socrates, Demosthenes and Euripides, being born about 440 B.C. and dying about 380 B.C. Nothing is known of his private life but his comedies are of great historical interest as they contain caricatures of leading men of his time, and give a good general idea of the abuses at Athens which he lashed with an unrestrained hand.

Fugue. See The Mikado.

Heliogabalus. More correctly Elagabalus, a Syro-Phoenician sun-god; the adopted name of Varius Avitus Bassianus, a Roman Emperor who reigned A.D. 218-222, infamous for his shameless profligacy and utter debauchery.

He was born at Emesa, Syria in A.D. 204. He became, while very young, a priest in the Temple of the sun-god Elagabalus at Emesa. On becoming Emperor he abandoned the government to his mother and grandmother, and was finally put to death at Rome by the Pretorians. It is told of Elagabulus that he invited the principal men of Rome to a banquet, and watched while they were being smothered to death in a shower of roses.

Integral Calculus. Is sometimes taken to include the solution of differential equations; it is distinguished from the differential calculus in the narrow sense by the far greater importance in it of imaginaries.

King Arthur. The real or fabulous King of Britain, supposed to have lived A.D. 500-532; he is famous for his Knights of the Round Table, and is thought to have won twelve great victories, chiefly against the Saxons.

King Arthur died at the battle of Camban in Cornwall, and here it was that finding himself wounded to death, he gave his sword, Excalibur, to Sir Bedivere and bade him throw it into the water.

Mamelon. A hill, one of the defences of Sebastopol, in the Crimean War 1854-56, captured by the French 7 June, 1855. Sebastopol was entered by the Allies, the British, French, Turks and Sardinians, September 1855.

Marathon. A village of Attica, 10 miles from Athens as the crow flies but 22 miles by road, celebrated for the victory which the Athenians and Plataeans under the command of Miltiades gained over the Persian army under the command of Datis and Artaphernes on 28 September, 490 B.C.

This battle, the first occasion on which Greeks had defeated Persians in the field, probably saved not only Athens but the whole of Greece from becoming a Persian province. Aeschylus, the tragic poet, fought at this battle at which his brother Cynaegeirus died of his wounds. The feat of the messenger who ran to Athens with the news of the victory has given rise to the so-called Marathon races of modern times.

1940. As Frederic was told he would not be twenty-one years old until 1940, since he was born in leap year which occurs every fourth year, he was apparently born in 1856. The opera, as stated above, was produced in 1880, so Frederic at that time was six years old, or, as he thought, twenty-four.

Raphael. A very celebrated Italian painter. Born at Urbino in 1483, he died at Rome in 1520. His pictures are in famous art galleries all over the world. When his pictures come into the market they fetch enormous prices.

Ravelin. A detached triangular work in fortifications with two embankments which form a projecting angle.

Square of the hypotenuse. In geometry, the side of a right-angled triangle opposite the right angle. Pythagoras' Theorem states "The square on the hypoteneuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides."

Zoffany, Johan (1725-1810). A German portrait painter. Born at Frankfort-on-the-Main he studied art in Rome, and in 1758 settled in London, but lived in Florence 1772-79, and in India 1783-90. He was an original R.A. (1769). He died on November 11, 1810, and is buried in the picturesque old churchyard of Kew.

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