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Glossary

Adapted from the book "Tit-Willow or Notes and Jottings on Gilbert and Sullivan Operas" by Guy H. and Claude A. Walmisley (Privately Printed, Undated)


Affidavit. A statement in writing sworn or deposed to before a magistrate or other proper officer such as a Commissioner for Oaths. The form of evidence generally used in Chancery proceedings. In "Iolanthe" the Lord Chancellor speaks of  "an affidavit from a thunderstorm" meeting with all the attention it deserves.

Amaryllis. A rustic maid mentioned in Theocritus's "Idyls"; Virgil's "Eclogues" and other pastoral poems.

Athenaeum. A famous academy or university situated on the Capitoline Hill at Rome, and founded by Hadrian about A.D. 133. So called in honour of Athene, a civic goddess, wise in the industries of peace and the arts of war. As now used the name usually denotes a literary or scientific institution.

Attorney. One who is legally appointed by another to transact any business for him. (See "Attorney's firm". "H.M.S. Pinafore" Notes).

Becalmed in the doldrums . See "Doldrums".

Belay. Make fast or stop; hence, colloquially — quit; that's enough.

Binnacle light. A binnacle is the case or stand on the deck of a ship near the helm, containing the ship's compass etc., and a lamp for use at night.

Bowline. A rope passing from about the middle of the perpendicular edge on the weather side of the square sail to the starboard bow, for the purpose of keeping the edges of the sail steady when sailing close to the wind.

Bucks and Blades. Buck — a gay or smart young fellow — a blood. Blade — is generally assumed to be derived from the synonym for sword, and a soldier. Hence, a brisk and sharp young man.

Chaps. (See "Lantern chaps").

Chloe.—Daphnis and Chloe. A pair of lovers in the Greek pastoral romance of the same name attributed to Longus (4th or 5th century). Daphnis is a name frequently given to shepherds or rustics.

a-Cockbill. To incline in a vertical direction, as the yards or the anchor.

Crichton, James. Styled the Admirable Crichton. Born in Scotland 1560; killed in Mantua, Italy, 1582. A great scholar, celebrated for his extraordinary accomplishments in languages, sciences and arts. He spoke 12 languages and disputed with Professors. He was stabbed to death in a midnight street brawl when only twenty two years of age.

Cytherean posies. Of or pertaining to the goddess Aphrodite — the goddess of love and beauty; identified by the Romans with Venus.

Dead-eye. "Turning-in a dead-eye". A round, laterally flattened wooden block, pierced with three holes through which a lanyard is reeved; used for extending the shrouds. The word dead-eye was originally written; "Dead-men's eyes", probably from the resemblance they bore to a skull.

Deadly nightshade. Belladonna, a very poisonous plant; the root and leaves are used as a mild narcotic and anodyne.

Doldrums. Becalmed in the doldrums — difficulties; low spirits etc. Probably derived from dull (with a sense of doleful), and a facetious suffix, as in tantrums. Hence applied by sailors to a region where ships are likely to be becalmed, especially that part of the ocean near the equator noted for calms, squalls, and baffling winds, between the N.E. and S.E. trade winds.

Ducking Stool. "He'd duck them in his lake". A sort of chair at the end of an oscillating plank, in which disorderly women, scolds, and dishonest tradesmen were tied and ducked, or plunged, in water as a punishment.

Elysian. Pertaining to Elysium; hence, yielding the highest pleasures. (See "Elysian Fields". "Patience" Notes).

Gaffer. Probably a contraction from gramfer for grand-father. An old man; an aged rustic usually applied to an aged man in humble life.

Horace, Q. Flaccus Horatius (65-68 B.C.). The famous Roman satirist and poet, born at Venusia. He learnt philosophy at Athens after receiving lessons from the best masters at Rome, and later became a personal friend of the Emperor Augustus. (See, Lalage Mistress, "Princess Ida". Notes).

Hornpipe. An old Welsh musical instrument consisting of a wooden pipe with holes in it, and a horn at each end, one to collect the wind blown in to it, the other to carry off the sounds as modulated by the performer. It is the title also of an English air and dance much used by sailors and named after this instrument.

Lantern chaps. Lantern jaws — long thin jaws — a thin visage.

Lothario. A gay libertine. The principal male character in Rowe's play, "The Fair Penitent" (1703). His name has become a synonym for a fashionable and unscrupulous rake. "Is this that haughty, gallant, gay Lothario?" ("The Fair Penitent". V. 1).

Mop and a mow. A pout; a grimace. "The mops and mows of the old witch". (Stevenson).

Morris, William (1834-1896). Poet and Artist. He was a prolific writer and worker; one of his most famous poems being his epic,"Sigurd the Volsung" and "The Fall of The Nibelung" (1876). He also had interests in decorating and printing etc.

Mousie. "Like the mousie in the fable". Probably refers to the fable of the mighty lion entrapped in a net and the little mouse who gnaws through the netting and so liberates him.

Old Bailey. The Central Criminal Court ("The Old Bailey") was built on the site of the famous Newgate Prison and on that of the Sessions House next to it and was completed and opened in 1907. The origin of the name Old Bailey is obscure. One possible explanation is that it was the bailey (Latin, ballium) or open space within the wall — or the wall itself — which anciently defended the City on the west. But some historians have thought that it derived from Bail Hill, an eminence on which the City Bailiff held his court.

Newgate jail had acquired an evil reputation as early as the 14th century for harsh treatment, torture and general grimness, a reputation which worsened as the prison grew in extent. It was demolished in 1902.

Opossum. A large rat-like animal of North American Indian origin. It moves about mostly at night and lives chiefly in trees. When caught it feigns death, whence the expression, "playing possum".

Ovid. P. Ovidius Naso, the celebrated Roman poet was born at Sulmo on 20 March, about 43 B.C., and died in the 7th or 8th year of his banishment in his 59th year, A.D. 17. (For more extensive details of his life See "Princess Ida", Notes, and "Iolanthe", Notes).

Parbuckle. A double sling made of a single rope for slinging a cask or gun etc.

Phyllis. A pretty rustic maid mentioned in Virgil's "Eclogues". Phyllis, in Greek legend was a Thracian Princess betrothed to Demophoon, son of Theseus. On his failure to return from Athens to marry her at the time set, Phyllis, thinking herself deserted, hanged herself.

Revenue sloop. A light-armed Government vessel commissioned for the prevention of smuggling and the enforcement of the customs regulations.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles. A famous English poet and critic of drama and literature. Born in London 5 April, 1837, died 1909.

Valley-de-sham. Valet de chambre. A body servant or personal attendant.

Welkin ring. To make the welkin ring. Descriptive of loud sounds. The welkin is considered the abode of the deity — the sky; to make sounds echo to the skies.

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