Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Patience

Click a term to expand the definition; Search for a term; Select other Opera Chapters; Go to the Lexicon menu for introductory and afterword content..

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

Act I


Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-89) was a popular, but abominable English poet. His Proverbial Philosophy, published in 1838, sold nearly two million copies; yet he was a favorite target of contemporary parodists, including Gilbert, who mentions Tupper slightingly in two of the Bab Ballads. Gilbert also published in Fun a mock testimonial to Tupper written in "dog Latin" (66, 127). Despite general critical disdain, Tupper must have been in Queen Victoria's good graces because he was commissioned to write verses for one of her family entertainments (258).


Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92): English baron and Poet Laureate 1850-92. His epic poem The Princess was the basis for Princess Ida. His best known work, perhaps, is Idylls of the King.

Daniel Defoe

English novelist and journalist (ca. 1660-1731). Best known for his novel Robinson Crusoe.

Anthony Trollope

English novelist (1815-82) whose many novels generally dealt with upper middle-class families in country settings. Among his best-known works are several novels set in the imaginary English cathedral town of Barchester.

Mr. Guizot

Pronunciation: gee-ZOE

François Pierre Guillaume Guizot (1787-1874), erudite and versatile Frenchman who made his mark as statesman, educator, and historian. He published several books, held important ministerial posts, and was ambassador to Britain.


Capable of being melted or liquefied.


A small baked clay pot.


A bowl in which metals, ores, etc., can be melted.


Latin for "residue."

Paragon [for this soldier-like paragon]

A model of perfection as, for example, a well-presented Savoy opera.

Czar [Get at the wealth of the Czar]

Emperor of Russia, who in 1881 was Alexander II, the one who sold Alaska to the United States. The Czars were known for their great wealth, often ostentatiously displayed.

Aragon [The family pride of a Spaniard from Aragon]

A region in the north-east of Spain. It was an independent kingdom from A.D. 1035 until it merged with Castile in the fifteenth century. During its independence it conquered and ruled over many neighboring or far-flung provinces and city states, such as Naples. The "family pride" presumably pertains to the many noble families with unsullied blood lines that originated in Aragon. I dare say Pooh-Bah himself liked to think he had ancestral roots in the region.

Mephisto [Force of Mephisto pronouncing a ban]

Mephisto is presumably the Prince of Darkness, also known as Mephistopheles (as in Faust).


A curse invoking evil consequences.

Lord Waterford [A smack of Lord Waterford, reckless and rollicky]

Probably refers to Lord Charles (1846-1919) of the Beresford family, the Marquis of Waterford, in Ireland. The family had a reputation for daring and, often, notorious shenanigans. Massie (201) avers that Henry Beresford, the third marquis, was killed in a hunting accident and that the fifth marquis was hopelessly crippled by a fall from his horse. By the time his younger brother, Lord Charles, had reached middle age "He had broken his chest bone, his pelvis, his right leg, his right hand, a foot, one collarbone three times, the other once, and his nose in three places." Lord Charles entered the navy in 1859 and rose rapidly by force of his strong personality, fiery enthusiasm and reckless courage that made him the idol of the fleet. Massie goes on to recount Charles's amazing military and political exploits that reinforce the adage that truth is stranger than fiction.

And here's one more exploit: On April 13, 1878, when Gilbert and Sullivan traveled to Portsmouth to inspect H.M.S. Victory, who should meet them as they arrived but none other than Lord Charles Beresford (325).


Derived from rollicking, meaning boisterous and free-spirited. See also The Sorcerer and The Pirates of Penzance.

Roderick [Swagger of Roderick, heading his clan]

There are several possibilities here. The last king of Ireland, Rory O’​Connor, was also known as Roderick. The last Visigothic king of Spain, Don Rodrigo, was the center of many colorful legends, which entered English literature and in which he was known as Roderick. But how many Spanish kings have any clans to lead? The strongest candidate, by far, is Sir Walter Scott’​s Roderick Dhu, of “haughty mien and lordly air.” He was the overbearing Highland chieftain in Scott’​s poem “The Lady of the Lake” (261). Confronting a lonely young Englishman, a rival for the hand of fair Ellen, the lady of the lake, Black Roderick:

Then fixed his eye and sable brow
Full on Fitz-James: “How say’​st thou now?
These are Clan-Alpine’​s warriors true;
And, Saxon, -- I am Roderick Dhu!”

Paddington Pollaky

Most authorities agree this refers to a highly successful and internationally famous private detective whose office was at Paddington Green (in London). His real name was Ignatius Paul Pollaky (140).

Odalisque [Grace of an odalisque on a divan]

A concubine in a Turkish harem. Strictly speaking, an odalisque was simply a female Turkish slave. Undraped odalisques reclining on divans were popular subjects of erotic paintings of the day. One example by Ingres (in the Louvre) is named Odalisque. There she is, artistically clothed in only a head-wrap and bracelet, gracefully reclining upon what we may suppose to be a divan.


Carthaginian general and tactical genius who lived about 247-183 B.C. He is best known for leading his troops and elephants over the Alps to attack Rome. After many military successes in Italy he was finally defeated without ever taking Rome. He returned to Carthage but went into exile, where he died by his own hand.