Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Ruddigore

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Enter part of a term; e.g., "gill" for Gillow's.

Act I

Teem [teem with glee]



Become tiresome.


An old French dance somewhat like a minuet but less stately (250). Knight (178) says it originated with the Gavots, the inhabitants of the district of Gav in the Province of Dauphiné. Hyder (162) says a gavotte has four beats to the measure, a minuet three.

Enjoyed [His rightful title I have long enjoyed]

One meaning of enjoy is "to have the use of." That fits the context far better than the usual meaning of the word.

Rated [But when completely rated]


Bart [When I'm a bad Bart]

Baronet. One of the standard abbreviations for baronet that would be appended to the full name, thus: "Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, Bart." An alternative abbreviation is "Bt." Next time you write to a baronet be sure to keep this in mind. "Dear Bart" won't do.


Fibs or yarns. Relatively innocuous little lies (115).

Falsest of fiddles

Splendaciously mendacious (with a tip of the hat to Rudyard Kipling).

Sententious [my morals sententious]

Expressed as maxims. Stuffy.



Filly [happy the filly]

A young female horse.

Pound [A pound to a penny]

Refers to the unit of British currency, the pound sterling. A pound in those days was worth 240 pennies (pence). Thus Rose and Richard are implying that lovers, when embracing, are 240 times happier than anyone (or anything) else in the world.


A favor granted. See also The Yeomen of the Guard, Utopia, Limited, and Cox and Box.

Man of descent

Someone of noble, or at least notable, family.

Lea [that bloom on the lea]


Deed [Who's signing a deed]

A legal document. "The reference here is to a mortgage deed, or deed of assignment, signed by a debtor in favour of a creditor" (245).

Act II

Act II Scene

[The next two entries are from Gilbert's description of the scene.]

James I [from the time of James I]

His name is familiar to us as the royal sponsor of the best known version of the Bible. He was the only child of Mary Stuart and reigned as king of Scotland (as James VI) from 1567 until his death in 1625. In 1603, upon the death of Elizabeth I, he took the English throne as well. He was once aptly described as "the wisest fool in Christendom." He was one of the targets of the Gunpowder Plot, with which the name of Guy Fawkes is closely tied.

Roué [Sir Ruthven, wearing the haggard aspect of a guilty roué]

A dissolute person. (Some texts substitute "Robin" for "Sir Ruthven.")

Elision [With greater precision -- without the elision]

This could be described as the telescoped version of a word, i.e., shortened by omitting one or more syllables. Thus, Ruthven becomes "Rivven." But, perhaps it would be good to repeat the entire stanza

I once was as meek as a new-born lamb,
    I'm now Sir Murgatroyd -- ha! ha!
    With greater precision
    (Without the elision),
Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd -- ha! ha!

In only this one place the name Ruthven is pronounced as spelled rather than as "Rivven." Reference to "Sir Murgatroyd" is a grammatical error because to be correct the "Sir" should be prefixed to a nobleman's Christian (i.e., first) name, not his family name. Thus "With greater precision" means "more correctly." In short, he might have said, "To speak more correctly, I'll apply the 'Sir' to my first name, which in this one instance I'll pronounce exactly the way it's spelled."