Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Patience

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Act II

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).

Particle [A pushing young particle]

I interpret this to mean an ambitious but very subordinate and callow person who is overly-self-assertive.

What's the next article?

From the context we must assume that our steady young man is a sales clerk in a fashionable draper's firm. Having just clinched a sale, our pushing young particle asks his customer what else he -- or more likely, she -- would like to buy. The expression was a common cliché of that period (273).

Waterloo House

This was a building housing several smart shops. Walmisley (299), Dunn (100), Hardwick (149), and Bradley (47) all state that it was in Cockspur St. and was the location of "Messrs. Halling, Pearce, and Stone, mercers and drapers." Terry (286) and Knight (178) propose that it was in Lower Regent Street. Its location isn't at all important here, so let's move on.


Full of whims or fads (75), and given to expressing them in an aggressive manner (167).


Eccentric, perhaps slightly crazy.


Idyllic and bucolic.

Dittoes [an ordinary suit of dittoes and a pot hat]

Webster defines dittoes as "clothes of one material or color throughout." We might interpret this as being subdued and conservative. In most stage presentations, however, these dittoes turn out to be gaudy suits appropriate to racetrack gamblers.

Pot hat

A derby.

Swears and Wells

Formerly a ladies' dressmaking shop. Goodman (140) says the shop was on Regent Street at that time. The name has since been taken over by a chain of furriers.

Madame Louise

A fashionable milliner's shop, which Goodman (140) says was on Regent Street.

Pattering [We're prettily pattering]

Jabbering away without throwing brain into gear. Joseph (167) and Stedman (274) suggest another meaning: bouncy little steps in place of their former Daphnephoric bounds. Take your choice.

[Final note on Patience]

Quoting Yum-Yum: Thank goodness that's over!