Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for The Sorcerer

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Act I

Gilded [Fled gilded dukes and belted earls before me]

Associating nobility with gold belts apparently dates back to Roman times. Gibbon (124) mentions that in the time of the Emperor Constantine military commanders called dukes and counts were distinguished by gold belts. Even today a “gilded youth” is defined as a young man of wealth and fashion (75). That definition could as well apply to dukes, even old ones. Dukes, earls, and other noble titles are comprehensively dealt with under “Characters” in Iolanthe.

Belted [belted earls]

“This refers to the belts and spurs with which knights, etc., were invested when raised to the dignity” (54). In addition see above for Edward Gibbon’s observation.

Stepped [as good a girl as ever stepped]

Mrs Partlet presumably means Constance is as good a girl as ever set foot on this earth. Gillette (135) reminds us that in H.M.S. Pinafore we find Ralph loyally speaking thus of Captain Corcoran: “A better Captain don’t walk the deck.”

Take [Oh, I take you.]


Fogy [I am an old fogy now]

Brewer (56) says that properly speaking the term applies to military pensioners, but Dr Daly simply means he’s an old goat.

Comely [the young maidens of the village are very comely]

Pronunciation: KUMM-lee


Tush [But tush! I am puling!]

Pronunciation: Make it rhyme with gush.

“An expression of impatience, contempt, or rebuke” (115). We might say “pshaw!”


Pronunciation: Rhymes with fueling.

Whining, whimpering, or needlessly complaining.

Plighting [most auspicious plighting]

Act of becoming engaged to be married.

Obleege [will you obleege me]

Oblige, i.e., do a favor.

Clerkly [In clerkly manuscript]

Pronunciation: clarkly

Neatly copied in a big round hand.

Sol [Ere Sol has sunk …]

Pronunciation: Rhymes with doll.

Another name for the Roman god of the sun, corresponding to the Greek Helios. In this case Dr. Daly simply means the sun. Lemprière (187) tells us that “according to some ancient poets, Sol and Apollo were two different persons. Apollo, however, and Phoebus and Sol, are universally supposed to be the same Deity.”


Dreamy thoughts about pleasant things or, better yet, pleasant people of the opposite sex.

House [the House of Sangazure]

A family, usually one with prestigious ancestors.

Helen of Troy

King Menelaus’s young wife who eloped with that cad Paris and so triggered the Trojan Wars. Hers was “the face that launched a thousand ships” and won her the undying affection of the Worshipful Order of Hellenic Shipbuilders. She was reputed to be the daughter of Zeus and Leda.


The word originally meant a shield. It more generally refers to the shield-shaped surface on which a family’s coat of arms is displayed. Prestige (245) suggests that what is meant is an escutcheon of pretence: “The small escutcheon bearing the arms of an heiress placed in the center of her husband’s shield” (229).


Low ranking domestic servants.

Protest [I protest I am mighty well]

To assert.

Palpitating [With a heart palpitating]

Beating rapidly: pitty pat!

Cloy [May their love never cloy]

Become tiresome, excessive.