Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Trial By Jury

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Third-class journeys

The cheapest form of public transport on British railroads (178).

Pluck [You shall reap the reward of your pluck, my boy, at the Bailey and Middlesex Sessions]

Courage or spirit. Bosdêt (43) observes that “pluck” is a generic term for the liver and lungs of animals, which Americans might call “guts,” which is also a slang term for bravery.


Brewer (54) explains that this refers “to the Central Criminal Court of the City of London … situated in the thoroughfare of that name.” He goes on to surmise that the word comes from the Latin ballium, meaning enclosure: that area enclosed by the city wall. Walters (301) adds that the outer wall of a castle is called a bailey. The “Ancient Bailey” to which the judge later refers is a variation on its usual sobriquet “Old Bailey.”

Middlesex Sessions
Sketch of Many a burglar I've restored

This refers to the magistrates’ courts at the Sessions House in Clerkenwell (99, 177, 283, 300). Middlesex was the county in which London was located. It and parts of other adjoining counties were later administratively absorbed by the area of Greater London (166). Goodman (87) says Sessions is short for “Quarter Sessions, “the quarterly sittings totaling about 100 days. In general such courts handled only limited civil and criminal cases.

Gurneys [At length I became as rich as the Gurneys]

A family of Quakers who formed a banking house in Norwich in 1770 (178). In about 1800 they opened a branch in London. It became the world’s greatest bill-discounting house and was known as “the bankers’ banker,” taking business away from the Bank of England. The Gurneys went public in 1865, forming a joint stock company with limited liability. In 1866 the London branch failed, in debt £11 million. The Gurney family, however, remained wealthy –– which was probably at least in part the inspiration for Gilbert’s later jabs at limited liability companies (as in The Gondoliers and Utopia Limited) (103). The Norwich branch prospered and was taken over by Barclays in 1896 (48). As an aside, you might want to know that a Gurney relative invented those light carriages on which you recline while being whisked about in hospitals (43).

Incubus [An incubus then I thought her]

The OED (229) gives several definitions, among the kindest of which is “A person or thing that weighs upon and oppresses like a nightmare.” In medieval times it denoted a demon who had his way with women when they slept. The word derives from the Latin incubare, to lie on (which also gives us incubate). To complete this discourse, perhaps you should know that the female equivalent of an incubus is a succubus. Gentlemen, Beware!

Fudge [Though all my law be fudge]

Fudge is a colloquialism dating back at least to 1700, when it meant a lie (229). By Gilbert’s time it also meant anything ridiculous or highly unreliable (56, 115). As a verb it means to obscure the truth (142). Knight (178) says the word was not applied to candy until the end of the nineteenth century.


Very softly, in a stage whisper.

Patent [It is patent to the mob]

Pronunciation: Rhymes with latent

Obvious. See also The Sorcerer.

Mob [It was managed by a job]

Derived from the Latin mo’bile vulgus (the fickle crowd), and dating back to the time of Charles II (56).


The OED (228) has as one definition: “A transaction in which duty or the public interest is sacrificed for the sake of private … advantage.” Another definition is “any unfair arrangement” (115). For our purposes: a deceitful action or dirty trick.

Nob [my being made a nob]

One dictionary (250) defines this as “A person of wealth or social distinction.” Some believe the word is derived from nabob, which originally meant an oriental chief or viceroy, but later came to mean a person of great wealth, especially one who had acquired that wealth in India. Others (115, 181, 320), however, maintain that it is short for nobility. Prestige (245) interprets it as slang for a person of social distinction.

’Twixt [’Twixt rich and poor]

Short for betwixt, meaning between.

Lower [Though the tempest lower]

Pronunciation: Rhymes with flower

To threaten or look sullen.


A posie is defined as a flower, nosegay (bunch of fragrant flowers), or a bouquet.

Passing fair [Though thy beauty rare shame the blushing roses ––They are passing fair!]

An archaic meaning of passing is surpassingly. Thus, although the flowers are surpassingly beautiful, Angelina is even more so (181, 263, 274). Brewer (56) opines that the expression comes from the Dutch word passen, to admire. See entry for “Passing” in Ruddigore.

Vernal [O’er the season vernal]

Vernal refers to springtime. The phrase refers to youth.

Substantial damages [Come, substantial damages!]

Ledbetter (184) says that exemplary damages (i.e., high enough to serve as a warning to others) could arise only in matters of breach of promise and then only when aggravated by seduction. Goodman, however, says he cannot confirm this; he believes it simply means heavy compensation (143).

My lud!

“My lord,” or “m’lud” are standard forms of address to a judge in a British court of law (184).

Supercilious [wear a supercilious smile]

A smile that is at once haughty, contemptuous, proud, disdainful, and indifferent. Really packed with insolence! Shipley (266) thinks the word is derived from the Latin cilium, eyelash. (When speaking disdainfully you tend to lift the eyebrow.) See also HMS Pinafore.

Camberwell [Camberwell became a bower]

A rather prosaic working-class residential suburb of London, on the south –– and therefore unfashionable –– side of the Thames (251). Ledbetter (184) says it was in earlier times a pleasant residential area, the birthplace of Robert Browning, and locale where Mendelssohn once stayed. It later became industrialized and heavily populated.


This could mean either a shelter of leafy branches, a summer house, or an arbor.

Peckham [Peckham an Arcadian Vale]

The twin of Camberwell. See above. Oliver Goldsmith once taught there in a boy’s school (184). Until about 1850 Camberwell and Peckham were villages separated from London by open fields (142).

Arcadian Vale

Arcadia was a mountainous part of Sparta, famous in song and story for its contented, simple-living people and admiring sheep. Vale means valley.

Otto [Breathing concentrated otto!]

Derived from attar of roses, i.e., perfume made from rose petals. Knight (178) says some 250 pounds of roses are needed to make a single ounce of attar.

Watteau [An existence à la Watteau]

Idyllic pastoral setting, as in the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721).

Trousseau [For the maid had bought her trousseau]

Pronunciation: TRUE-so

A bride’s collection of clothing, linen, and the like, suitable for her new status as a married woman (from the French word for bundle). That’s not the kind of bundle Angelina is looking for now.

Perjured [Oh, perjured lover]

One who has told a lie. In this case, it means one who has been untrue to his oath of fidelity (15).

Cologne [water from far Cologne]

Cologne water: Eau de Cologne. Cologne is a major German city on the Rhine. The toilet “water” in question is made by adding aromatic oils to alcohol. It was first produced commercially in Cologne, and no fewer than three companies there claim to being the originator. Ledbetter (184) says Cologne water is now made in France by descendants of its creator. By tradition Cologne water is dabbed on the face or waved under the nose of any lady who has fainted. For an exhaustive treatise on its composition, see The Encyclopedia Americana (105) or Bradley (48).

Submission [with all submission]

Due respect.