Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Utopia, Ltd.

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Act II

Till all is blue

Until after dawn and the sky is blue again. See also The Grand Duke.

Drum [At ball or drum]

“An assembly of fashionable people at a private house, held in the evening; much in vogue during the latter half of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century” (228). A ball, on the other hand, would be a public gathering. Brewer (54) claims that the term “drum” comes from the resemblance of the noise to that of drumming up recruits. Tea parties became “kettle drums,” and really wild affairs “drum majors.” On the other hand, Bradley (48) suggests the possibility that “tea” suggests “kettle,” which suggests “kettle drum,” and that suggests. “drum.” I confess I find neither explanation truly satisfying.

Rill [the mountain rill]

A little stream.

Maxims [These maxims you endorse]

Brief rules for behavior.

Unfurl [Your character true unfurl]


Fusty [All musty, fusty rules despite]

Stuffy and out of date. Derived from fust, meaning moldy and ill-smelling (165).


Victorian women wore full-length skirts, while little girls romped around in short skirts. That is the allusion here.

Bruited [through the city bruited]


Toil [caught in Scaphio’s ruthless toil]


Deigned [my sovereign has deigned]


Rosal [And the earth is red and rosal]

An obsolete term for “rosy” (141).

Asinorum pons [For that asinorum pons I have crossed without assistance]

Pronunciation: ASS-eh-NORE-um PONS

This translates as “bridge of asses,” a Latin expression applied early in the sixteenth century to a diagram showing how to find the middle terms to arguments. The allusion seems to relate to the difficulty of getting asses to cross a bridge. The name is also given to the fifth proposition of Euclid, which sets forth that, if a triangle has two of its sides equal, the angles opposite to these sides are also equal (105). Maybe by now you are sorry you asked.

Paragons [of prudish paragons]

Models of perfection.

Tarantella [Mentioned in the stage directions]

A fast, whirling dance from southern Italy. It was originally thought to cure tarantula bites. Kravetz (182) says the concluding music of the nightmare song in Iolanthe is in the form of a tarantella.

Ogress [Like some remorseless ogress]

A female ogre. Derived from the man-eating giant of fairy tales, ogre has also come to mean “a monstrously ugly, cruel, or barbarous person” (250).

Irruption [most unmannerly irruption]

Violent invasion.


Good things given or asked for –– or even both; like this lexicon. See also Ruddigore, The Yeomen of the Guard, and Cox and Box.

Fico [A fico for such boons, say we!]

Pronunciation: FEE-ko

This is Italian for fig and the sentiment is much the same as “We don’t care a fig!” Snapping one’s fingers is an appropriate accompaniment. For the intriguing history of the word, see entry for “Fig” in The Yeomen of the Guard.

Government by Party

This has been standard operating procedure in England since around 1680, in the reign of Charles II (319).