Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Patience

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

Act II


Unyielding, hard as a diamond (like Princess Ida's castle).

Paste [distinguish gems from paste]

Artificial gems made from finely ground glass. Asimov (11) suggests that we interpret this in the figurative sense of telling authentic art from fraudulent.


Embodying simple perfection, perhaps in an elevated and polished style. Exigence of rhyme compels us to pronounce this as "iddle," which in England is acceptable as a second choice to rhyming with idle.

Stick and a pipe

A walking stick and a pipe for smoking tobacco.

Black-and-tan [And a half-bred black-and-tan]

A Manchester terrier crossed, in this case, with a who-knows-what.

Hops [Who thinks suburban "hops"]

Dance halls popular with the lower middle class (245).

Monday Pops

A series of weekly concerts of light, popular music. Sullivan and Jullien, the eminent musico, both conducted such series. Bradley (47) tells us they were organized by Chappells, the music publishers, and were held in St James's Hall.


A civic holiday (usually a Monday) in Britain. They date back to just a decade before the opera was written (48). They were initiated by the banks as days in which the doors were closed while they undertook a quarterly review of the books. They were soon turned into a general day-off from work and then became civic holidays (118). The implication here is that we have a nose-to-the-grindstone fellow who cannot readily escape from work but who likes to mix with the other Philistines on those long, crowded weekends. Not at all like those free-flying aesthetes.

Japanese [A Japanese young man]

Asimov (11) explains that Bunthorne is alluding to his affected admiration for "all one sees that's Japanese."

Lank [A haggard and lank young man]

Drooping; weak and thin (75).

Francesca da Rimini

The ill-fated heroine of the tragic tale of Francesca and Paolo, celebrated by Dante, among others. She is brought in here because of her medieval background, so dear to the aesthetes. (Some editions of the libretto mistakenly substitute di for da.) Feldman and Barker (118) state that the story was based on actual events and, as the subject of numerous artistic endeavors, became something of a symbol for the aesthetics of medieval romantic sentiment and pathos.

Miminy, piminy

Brewer (54) defines nimini-pimini (which is close enough) as "affected simplicity." He ascribes it to advice given to a young lady in The Heiress (1786). She is told to practice saying "nimini-pimini" in front of a mirror … "The lips cannot fail to take the right plié." Isn't this a tremendous treasure trove of tantalizing trivia?

Je-ne-sais-quoi [Je-ne-sais-quoi young man!]

Pronunciation: DJUHN-eh-say-KWAH

French for "I don't know what," i.e., something (or, in this case someone) who defies cataloging within any of the standard categories. Feldman and Barker (118) relate this to "the ineffable, inexpressible qualities of the æsthetic character."

Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane is the center of London's law courts and law offices. A Chancery Lane young man would be a respectable fellow hoping to rise in the legal profession. He would certainly not be an aesthete.

Somerset House [A Somerset House young man]

Somerset House is a massive building on the Strand (not far from the Savoy Theatre) that houses a goodly share of Britain's unaesthetic bureaucrats. An earlier building with the same name that once stood on the same spot carried many historical associations (140).

Threepenny-bus [Threepenny-bus young man!]

Pronunciation: THRIP-enny bus

Sketch of a Threepenny bus (named FUMGASS)

Rees (159) and Prestige (245) expect that an aesthete would never mix with the crowd on a bus and would either walk or ride a hansom cab (depending on the state of his pocket); whereas our everyday young man has no such compunctions. Incidentally, buses in those days were horse-drawn and their fares were prominently displayed near the door. Bradley (47) says that in 1900 Gilbert changed the phrase to read "twopenny tube" (i.e., subway).

Greenery-yallery [A greenery-yallery, Grosvenor Gallery]

Some of the aesthetic painters were noted for their fondness for subtle, secondary colors. Smith (269 says the Grosvenor Gallery walls were green and gold (close to yellow). Aurora, on the other hand, takes another tack: Bunthorne's description of himself from "pallid and thin" through various stages to "foot-in-the grave," includes "greenery-yallery" as one descriptive, and his association with the Grosvenor Gallery as another. A nice point.

Grosvenor Gallery

A London art gallery founded in 1877 and known for its displays of paintings by Pre-Raphaelites who were largely unsuccessful in gaining recognition by the Royal Academy. Goodman (140) notes that the aesthetes treated it practically like a club.

Sewell and Cross

A fashionable London firm of drapers (i.e., retailers of yard goods or clothes -- either tailor-made or "off the hook"). The firm has long since closed its doors, so don't try to look it up.

Howell and James

Another fashionable retail firm, no longer in business. Knight (178) says it sold ladies' jewelry, silver smithing, and art pottery as well as clothing. Goodman (85) and Terry locate the shop in Waterloo House (see below).