Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Iolanthe

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

Act I

Paragons [Paragons of legislation]

Models of excellence.

Lords [the deuce to pay in the Lords]

The House of Lords. As you may infer from the libretto, Gilbert must have looked upon the institution with amusement. He might have agreed with Lloyd George (at one time prime minister) who defined the Lords as, "five hundred men, ordinary men chosen accidentally from among the unemployed" (12).

Hear, hear

An English expression of approbation. See also The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and The Zoo.

Counsel [can he appear by counsel before himself … ?]

A legal advisor. The expression means: Can he send a barrister to appeal to himself on his own behalf?

Arrest of … judgement

To hold a court decision in abeyance because an error in trial procedure has been discovered (141).


This refers to the Lord Chancellor's traditional seat in Parliament: an oversized red hassock stuffed with wool, symbolic of the nation's former reliance on the wool industry. It is thought to have originated in the fourteenth century (105).

Bar of this House

This alludes to an actual physical barrier (a brass bar or bars) set up in the House of Lords. When Phyllis is induced to present herself "at the Bar of this House," she is figuratively standing or kneeling at the aforementioned barrier. Goodman (142) explains that the House of Lords may sit as a court of law. See Bradley (48) for further details.

Pipes [my pipes and my tabors]

Simple wind instruments such as flageolets, Pandaean pipes, or even bagpipes.


Small drums.

Cot [in lowly cot]


Blue blood

This is a colloquial expression for an aristocrat. (Remember Lady Sangazure in The Sorcerer?) The OED (229) suggests that the term originated because aristocratic people tended to have untanned skin, making their veins more visible and thus appearing blue in contrast. (A tanned skin was indicative of laboring in the field.)

Belgrave Square

A prestigious residential area of London, just west of Buckingham Palace. Goodman (140) gives a good history, including a picture.

Seven Dials

A convergence of seven streets in what was then a disreputable area of London, near the theater district. The name arises from seven sundials, each facing one of the streets and placed atop a 40-foot column at the convergence. See Goodman (140) for a detailed history and picture.

Riven [With grief my heart is riven]

Torn asunder.

Arcady, Arcadee

Pronunciation: ARK-a-DIE, or ARK-a-DEE

Poetic variations of Arcadia, that bucolic region of Greece already defined.



Innately [Proud are we innately]

Inherently proud, like Pooh-Bah.


This is in the stage directions and means that those named remain on stage. To complete our lesson for the day, manet is the singular form; also exeunt is plural and exit is singular for indicating who is to leave.

Court of Chancery

The court of the Lord Chancellor of England, the highest court of jurisdiction next to the House of Lords; but since … 1873, a division of the High Court of Justice (229).

Chorused [When chorused Nature bids]

Combined. He means every element of nature is speaking, or singing, or both.