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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.
    Ring forth, ye bells,
    . . .With clarion sound –
    Forget your knells,
    . . .For joys abound.
    Forget your notes
    . . .Of mournful lay,
    And from your throats
    . . .Pour joy today.
clarion – loud and clear (noun: a shrill war trumpet)
. . .[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 sung

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Alexis’s father congratulates him on his excellent match.
    Yes, you are a fortunate young fellow, and I will not disguise from you that this union with the House of Sangazure realizes my fondest wishes. Aline is rich, and she comes of a sufficiently old family, for she is the seven thousand and thirty-seventh in direct descent from Helen of Troy. True, there was a blot on the escutcheon of that lady – that affair with Paris – but where is the family, other than my own, in which there is no flaw? You are a lucky fellow, sir – a very lucky fellow!
escutcheon – a shield or emblem bearing a coat of arms
blot on one’s escutcheon – a stain on one’s reputation or character
 
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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.
    Poor little girl! I'm afraid she has something on her mind. She is rather comely. Time was when this old heart would have throbbed in double-time at the sight of such a fairy form! But tush! I am puling!
comely – pleasant to look at; attractive
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:
    I know not why I love him so;
    . . .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!
 
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But back to Alexis and Aline. Alexis believes that matrimony is “the panacea for every earthy ill,” regardless of class lines. He tells Aline:
    Alexis: Still I have made some converts to the principle, that men and women should be coupled in matrimony without distinction of rank. … I have preached in workhouses, beershops, and Lunatic Asylums, and I have been received with enthusiasm. I have addressed navvies on the advantages that would accrue to them if they married wealthy ladies of rank, and not a navvy dissented!
    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.
But as we shall see tomorrow, Alexis is prepared to resolve that problem!

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)]
 
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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.

necromancy1. 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
 
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Mr. Wells is truly a marvel!
    For he can prophesy
    With a wink of his eye,
    Peep with security
    Into futurity,
    Sum up your history,
    Clear up a mystery,
    Humour proclivity
    For a nativity – for a nativity;
    He has answers oracular,
    Bogies spectacular,
    Tetrapods tragical,
    Mirrors so magical,
    Facts astronomical,
    Solemn or comical,
    And, if you want it, he
    Makes a reduction on taking a quantity!

    Barring tautology,
    In demonology,
    'Lectro-biology,
    Mystic nosology,
    Spirit philology,
    High-class astrology,
    Such is his knowledge, he
    Isn't the man to require an apology!
nosology –the branch of medical science concerned with the classification of diseases
[nosos disease]
philology – the study of the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages
 
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philology

The main difference between philology and linguistics is that the former includes the study and analysis of literature.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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