One of our quotes last week came from Gilbert and Sullivan. This week we’ll take words from their operetta The Sorcerer. As the curtain rises the villagers are gathered and they sing in chorus, celebrating the betrothal of Alexis and his bride-to-be Aline.
. . .With clarion sound –
Forget your knells,
. . .For joys abound.
Forget your notes
. . .Of mournful lay,
And from your throats
. . .Pour joy today.
. . .[clarion call – a strongly expressed demand for action]
knell – the sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral
. . .[verb (of a bell): to ring solemnly]
lay – a short lyric or narrative poem intended to be sungThis message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
Alexis’s father congratulates him on his excellent match.
blot on one’s escutcheon – a stain on one’s reputation or character
But sometimes love is not so happy. Constance confides to her mother that she pines for Dr. Daly, the local vicar.¹ But Dr. Daly is an obtuse older man who has sadly resigned himself to bachelorhood. He is completely unaware of Constance’s feeling for him, and has no clue why she is so melancholy.
tush – an exclamation, expressing disapproval, impatience, or dismissal
pule – to cry weakly or querulously; to whine, complain, whimper
¹ The daughter-mother conversation is amusing, so I’ll repeat it. Constance (red) speaks:
. . .It is enchantment, surely!
He’s dry and snuffy, deaf and slow
. . .Ill-tempered, weak and poorly!
He’s ugly, and absurdly dressed,
. . .And sixty-seven nearly,
He’s everything that I detest,
But if the truth must be confessed,
. . .I love him very dearly!
My child, be comforted. To such a union
I shall not offer any opposition.
Take him – he’s yours! May you and he be happy!
But mother dear, he is not yours to give!
That’s true indeed!
. . . . . . . . . .He might object!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He might!
But back to Alexis and Aline. Alexis believes that matrimony is “the panacea for every earthy ill,” regardless of class lines. He tells Aline:
Aline: Noble fellows! And yet there are those who hold that the uneducated classes are not open to argument! And what do the countesses say?
Alexis: Why, at present, it can't be denied, the aristocracy hold aloof.
navvy – a laborer in the excavation and construction of a road or railway
[from navigator in the former sense of a one who builds a navigation (a dialect word for a canal)]
Alexis has decided to break this impasse by using a philter – love-potion – to cause all to fall in love. An excellent philter is available from “J. W. Wells & Co., the old-established Family Sorcerers,” a “most respectable firm.” Alexis [blue, below] interviews Mr. Wells [brown]:
. . .Good day – I believe you are a Sorcerer.
. . .Yes, sir, we practice Necromancy in all its branches. We've a choice assortment of wishing-caps, divining-rods, amulets, charms, and counter-charms. We can cast you a nativity at a low figure, … Our penny Curse – one of the cheapest things in the trade – is considered infallible. We have some very superior Blessings, too, but they're very little asked for. … But our sale of penny Curses, especially on Saturday nights, is tremendous. We can’t turn ’em out fast enough. …
. . .I believe you advertise a Patent Oxy-Hydrogen Love-at-first-sight Philtre?
. . .Sir, it is our leading article. (Producing a phial.)
. . .Now I want to know if you can confidently guarantee it as possessing all the qualities you claim for it in your advertisement?
. . .Sir, we are not in the habit of puffing our goods. Ours is an old-established house with a large family connection, and every assurance held out in the advertisement is fully realized.
necromancy – 1. witchcraft or black magic 2. predicting the future by communicating with the dead
nativity – a horoscope for the time of one's birth (among other meanings, of course)
puffery – hype; exaggerated praise, especially for promotion
Mr. Wells is truly a marvel!
With a wink of his eye,
Peep with security
Sum up your history,
Clear up a mystery,
For a nativity – for a nativity;
He has answers oracular,
Mirrors so magical,
Solemn or comical,
And, if you want it, he
Makes a reduction on taking a quantity!
Such is his knowledge, he
Isn't the man to require an apology!
philology – the study of the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages
The main difference between philology and linguistics is that the former includes the study and analysis of literature.
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.