Thrones, Dominations

The page numbers and excerpts are from the U.S. St. Martin’s Press hardcover edition of “Thrones, Dominations,” copyright 1998 by The Trustees of Anthony Fleming (deceased) and Jill Paton Walsh.

The title is derived from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and the King James Bible and the list of authorities it is drawn from refers to both the powers found on earth and the hierarchy of angels in heaven. This latter can have a double meaning in Sayers’ novel, since one of the novel’s main characters, Laurence Harwell, is an “angel,” or someone who finances plays.

In Colossians 1:16, Paul, writing to the Christians of Colossae, explains that “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,” and continues:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.

Medieval theologians were inspired by this verse to create a hierarchy of angels in heaven.

The quote in the front of “Thrones, Dominations” comes from two parts of “Paradise Lost.” The first four lines (beginning with “Thrones, and imperial powers, off-spring of heaven”) comes from Book 2, where Satan, having lost the first battle for Heaven, debates whether to return and fight again, or change their titles (“stile”) and become princes of hell. The phrase “Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers …” appears in Book 5, where Raphael comes down from Heaven and describes to Adam the civil war between Satan and God.

Chapter 1

2 ~ he is pleased to trace those features back to a Spanish hidalgo, cast away upon the English coast in the wreck of the Great Armada.

Great Armada: There is a popular fancy that suggests that the survivors of the Spanish Armada, after being blown to bits by the English fleet in the fall of 1588, washed up on the shores of England and Ireland and intermarried with the locals, leaving behind a population of black-haired, blue-eyed children bearing names like Moore, Spain, Murray and Murphy. In brief, no such thing happened. Of the 6,000 Spanish soldiers and sailors in the fleet, about 2,000 drowned. The rest were captured or killed by the English and Irish allies. Maybe a few hundred escaped to Scotland.

The legend is debunked in greater detail at The Straight Dope Web site.

3 ~ I have always had a faiblesse for the true red-blonde

faiblesse: fault or weakness

3 ~ Ce monsieur là-bas is inattentive, but for another reason

Ce monsieur la-bas: “The gentleman over there”
(Thanks to Elizabeth Bentley for the correction.)

4 ~ the son of a distinguished and very rich KC who died a few years ago

KC: King’s Counsel, a senior barrister or silk (so named for the gowns they wear), responsible for prosecuting cases on behalf of the crown. With Queen Elizabeth on the throne, they’re now known as QCs.
(Thanks to Simon in the little town of St. Ives in Huntingdonshire for the correction.)

6 ~ she was acquitted, largely by his intervention, of the charge of murdering her lover

As recounted in “Strong Poison.”

6 ~ their honeymoon was complicated by some unfortunate occurrences

Namely, the discovery of a body in the house they recently bought. See “Busman’s Honeymoon.”

7 ~ suggested to him the unveiled charms of a Botticelli Venus

A picture is worth a thousand words.

8 ~ Vous voilà, mes enfants, said Mr. Delagardie, indulgently

vous voilàa, mes enfants: “Here (or there) you are my children”
(Thanks to Elizabeth Bentley for the contribution.)

9 ~ We have a lot of chrome and glass things, and lovely modern curtains designed by Ben Nicholson, and some Susie Cooper vases

Ben Nicholson (1894-1982): Artist whose works were deeply influenced by Cubism throughout his life. Noted primarily for his abstract reliefs that, according to the Dictionary of National Biography: “represent a major contribution to twentieth-century English and European modernism.” He also dabbled in print-making and textile design, hence the curtains.

Susie Cooper (1902-1995): Noted potter and businesswoman, known for successfully starting and running a pottery business, with her distinctive line of wares that kept up-to-date and promoted contemporary design trends. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, she’s considered a”key figure in both art deco and the 1950s contemporary’ style,” designing some 4,500 patterns and 500 new shapes.

Thrones Dominations -- 1940s era poster from the Grand Guignol theater.

1940s era poster from the Grand Guignol theater.

10 ~ We’re going to see the new programme and the Grand Guignol

Grand Guignol: Pronounced “Gron Geen-yole,” this was the notorious Paris theater in which the plays would rival anything Quentin Tarentino thought of, complete with innovative special effects. The complete story (from which this entry is taken) can be found at The Straight Dope, but let’s note one of the plots here to give you the flavor. The whole sick, twisted story is taken from Mel Gordon’s “The Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror” (1988):

Two brothers have an orgy with two prostitutes at a lighthouse. The lighthouse beacon goes out and one of the brothers realizes a boat containing their mother is heading toward the rocks. But the drunken lighthouse keeper has locked the beacon door. The brother goes nuts, blames everything on an earlier blasphemy by one of the hookers, slits her throat, and throws her out the window. “The boat with the men’s mother crashes against the rocks,” Gordon says. “In a religious frenzy, the [brothers] decide to burn [the other prostitute] to death. After pouring gasoline on her, they incinerate her and pray.”

10 ~ We, on the other hand, are improving our minds at the Comedie

Comedie-Francaise: the state theater of France, established by Louis XIV in 1680 and performing almost continuously since. Its repertory consists of largely traditional French works.

11 ~ like a caddis-worm pulled out of its case

Any of the various four-winged insects of the order Trichoptera, found near lakes and streams.

11 ~ sit his grandsire out in alabaster

A paraphrase from “The Merchant of Venice”, Act I, Scene 2:

Why should a man whose blood is warm within, Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?

(Thanks to Cockburn ’96 for the contribution.)

11 ~ a timid, weak and trembling worm into Thy breast I fall

Not traced

11 ~ To cherish vipers in the bosom is foolish; to cherish worms, divine

A mix of references; the sentence’s structure echos “To err is human, to forgive, divine, with “To cherish vipers” referring to Cleopatra and the asp, and “the worm” drawn from the hymn quoted earlier in the paragraph.
(Thanks to Ambar for the contribution.)

11 ~ Later on, Cytherea — Zut!

Cytherea: goddess of love and beauty and daughter of Zeus in ancient mythology; identified with Roman Venus. In Greek mythology, she is called Aphrodite. Unfortunately, the name has been appropriated, appropriately enough, by an actress in adult movies, so be careful Googling this name.

Zut!: “Damn!”I can’t imagine Lord Peter using the suggested alternatives of “shoot,” “dang” and especially “holy mackerel.”

12 ~ Passion is cruel, Laurence

Reminds one of Song of Solomon 8:6 which, in the King James version, substitutes “jealousy” for “passion”: “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”

14 ~ when she called to take me to cinema to see new film with Greta Garbo

With the entry dated January 6, 1936, this is probably “Anna Karenina,” which was filmed in 1935 and perhaps just opened in England.

Chapter 2

15 ~ Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.

Pepys’ rare moment of reflection comes from a diary entry of November 9, 1665:

At noon by water to the King’s-head at Deptford, where Captain Taylor invites Sir W. Batten, Sir Jo. Robinson (who came in with a great deal of company from Hunting and brought in a hare alive, and a great many silly stories they tell of their sport, which pleases them mightily, and me not at all, such is the different sense of pleasure in mankind) and others, upon the score of a survey of his new ship. And strange it is, to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody. Sir W. Batten and Sir Jo Robinson being now as kind to him, and report well of his ship and proceedings and promise money, and Sir W. Batten is a solicitor for him, that it is a strange thing to observe — they being the greatest enemies he had, and yet I believe hath, in the world in their hearts.

As a side note, let me recommend dipping into the complete unexpurgated diary, edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews, published in hardcover by the University of California Press, and in trade paperback by HarperCollins. This edition contains plenty of footnotes and background material that makes it easy for the reader to experience day to day life in the Restoration England. Pepys’ candor about himself, warts and all, makes him an amiable companion.

15 ~ Don’t you know I promised, if you’d watch a dinner out, We’d see truth dawn together?

A quote from Robert Browning’s “Bishop Blougram’s Apology.”

16 ~ Herein fail not at your peril

An archaic phrase that appeared at the bottom of some legal documents, such as subpoenas.

26 ~ Supposing a wife to be of a studious or argumentative turn, it would be very troublesome – if a woman should continually dwell upon the subject of the Aryan heresy.

An unusual passage, and while one source hints that it is a saying of Samuel Johnson, no further information has been found.

26 ~ Later, Josephine?

Malmaison, the home of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte

Malmaison, the home of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte

A reference to Josephine Bonaparte (1763-1814), the wife of the French emperor. At Malmaison, while her husband was campaigning, Josephine threw herself into decorating the estate with all the resources the French treasury would permit. According to the Women and the Garden blog:

Josephine was interested in the plants and grew and collected anything that was considered rare. She brought in flora and fauna from around the world such as “kangaroos, emus, black swans, zebras, sheep, gazelles, ostriches, chamois, a seal, antelopes and llamas to name a few”. In 1800 she built a heated orangery to house some 300 pineapple plants and five years later she had a greenhouse built for all her exotic plants. It is said she cultivated 200 plants new to France. Josephine wrote: “I wish that Malmaison may soon become the source of riches for all [of France]”…

Her favorite plant was the rose. Between 1804 and 1814 Empress Josephine built her rose collection. It was to become the greatest and largest rose collection in the world, unsurpassed until the creation of Sangerhausen in Germany and L’Hay outside Paris, one century later.

Her efforts inspired French horticulturalists to develop more than 2,500 new varieties. She is also credited with inspiring the idea of creating a garden around one type of flower.

(Thanks to M. E. Munzel for suggesting the annotation.)

30 ~ parish bull

The bull used to impregnate the cows owned by the cow keepers. In feudal times, owning such a creature may be an obligation imposed on one of the residents.

31 ~ At the turn of the landing he paused, and said with an air of defiance, “I’ve been planting oaks in Boulter’s Hollow.”

Oaks: Oaks are long-lived trees, capable of living as long as 350 years, after a spurt of rapid growth for the first 80-120 years. In his way, the Duke was emphasizing his hope the land will stay in the family for a long, long time.

32 ~ Queen Victorian monument

The monument can be seen to the right of Buckingham Palace, outside the fence. Given its location, it’s understandable that it would have been crowded with people awaiting the latest and final news about George V.

33 ~ Battledore

A predecessor of shuttlecock, in which two people bat a shuttlecock back and forth with a bat as many times as possible. The first known rules for badminton were written in Poona, India, by the British in 1873 and grew in popularity both there and in England during the 1870s and 1880s as a social pastime.

32 ~ His Majesty’s life is drawing to a peaceful close

George V (1865-1936): King of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British dominions beyond the seas, and emperor of India. He was the second child of Edward VII (1841-1910) and Queen Alexandra (1844-1925). Upon the death of his elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, in 1892, George became second in line to the throne. He assumed the throne on his father’s death in 1910, his wife becoming Queen Mary.

Chapter 3

35 ~ Oh, Mrs. Corney, what a prospect this opens! What a opportunity for a jining of hearts and housekeepings!

Quoted from Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”, chapter 27:

“This is a very comfortable room, ma’am,” said Mr. Bumble looking round. “Another room, and this, ma’am, would be a complete thing.”

“It would be too much for one,” murmured the lady.

“But not for two, ma’am,” rejoined Mr. Bumble, in soft accents. “Eh, Mrs. Corney?”

Mrs. Corney drooped her head, when the beadle said this; the beadle drooped his, to get a view of Mrs. Corney’s face. Mrs. Corney, with great propriety, turned her head away, and released her hand to get at her pocket-handkerchief; but insensibly replaced it in that of Mr. Bumble.

“The board allows you coals, don’t they, Mrs. Corney?” inquired the beadle, affectionately pressing her hand.

“And candles,” replied Mrs. Corney, slightly returning the pressure.

“Coals, candles, and house-rent free,” said Mr. Bumble. “Oh, Mrs. Corney, what an Angel you are!”

The lady was not proof against this burst of feeling. She sank into Mr. Bumble’s arms; and that gentleman in his agitation, imprinted a passionate kiss upon her chaste nose.

“Such porochial perfection!” exclaimed Mr. Bumble, rapturously. “You know that Mr. Slout is worse to-night, my fascinator?”

“Yes,” replied Mrs. Corney, bashfully.

“He can’t live a week, the doctor says,” pursued Mr. Bumble. “He is the master of this establishment; his death will cause a wacancy; that wacancy must be filled up. Oh, Mrs. Corney, what a prospect this opens! What a opportunity for a jining of hearts and housekeepings!”

35 ~ Matrimony … is no more than a form of friendship recognized by the police

Quoted from Chapter 1 of Virginibus Puerisque (“For Maidens and Youths”) by Robert Louis Stevenson:

How then, seeing we are driven to the hypothesis that people choose in comparatively cold blood, how is it they choose so well? One is almost tempted to hint that it does not much matter whom you marry; that, in fact, marriage is a subjective affection, and if you have made up your mind to it, and once talked yourself fairly over, you could pull it through with anybody. But even if we take matrimony at its lowest, even if we regard it as no more than a sort of friendship recognized by the police, there must be degrees in the freedom and sympathy realized, and some principle to guide simple folk in their selection. Now what should this principle be? Are there no more definite rules than are to be found in the Prayer-book? Law and religion forbid the bans on the ground of propinquity or consanguinity; society steps in to separate classes; and in all this most critical matter, has common sense, has wisdom, never a word to say? In the absence of more magisterial teaching, let us talk it over between friends: even a few guesses may be of interest to youths and maidens.

36 ~ mostly the people were dressed all wrong and the real top-liners didn’t behave like that

top-liners: similar to a headliner in the United States; a performer (formerly vaudeville, now a movie star) whose name is atop the bill.

36 ~ like d’Artagnan, she had no practice but a profound theory of her profession

Quoted from Chapter 5 of the “Three Musketeers”:

This contest at length exhausted Jussac’s patience. Furious at being held in check by one whom he had considered a boy, he became warm and began to make mistakes. D’Artagnan, who though wanting in practice had a sound theory, redoubled his agility. Jussac, anxious to put an end to this, springing forward, aimed a terrible thrust at his adversary, but the latter parried it; and while Jussac was recovering himself, glided like a serpent beneath his blade, and passed his sword through his body. Jussac fell like a dead mass.

37 ~ Paul de Lamerie

Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751): leading English silversmith during the first half of the 18th century.

38 ~ Bussy

Bussy d’Amboise: A fictional character regarded as one of the leading swordsman during the reign of Louis XIII and Henry III. Bussy was a character in “Revenge of Bussy d’Amboise” by George Chapman (circa 1610), and “Chicot the Jester” by Alexander Dumas (1845).

40 ~ But like Dr Donne at his prayers she was in a mood to neglect her occupation for the noise of a Flie, for the ratling of a Coach, for the whining of a door …’

Quoted from John Donne’s sermon, preached in 1640 at the Funeral of Sir William Cokayne, Knight and Alderman of London (from “Sermons”, #80):

When we consider with a religious seriousnesse the manifold weaknesses of the strongest devotions in time of Prayer, it is a sad consideration. I throw my selfe downe in my Chamber, and I call in, and invite God, and his Angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a Flie, for the ratling of a Coach, for the whining of a doore, I talke on, in the same posture of praying; Eyes lifted up; knees bowed downe; as though I prayed to God; and, if God, or his Angels should aske me, when I thought last of God in that prayer, I cannot tell: Sometimes I finde that I had forgot what I was about, but when I began to forget it, I cannot tell. A memory of yesterdays pleasures, a feare of to morrows dangers. A straw under my knee, a noise in mine eare, a light in mine eye,. an any thing, a nothing, a fancy, a Chimera in my braine, troubles me in my prayer. So certainly is there nothing, nothing in spirituall things, perfect in this world.

45 ~ quads or quins

Quadrupulets or quintuplets.

45 ~ with all this subconsciousness going about, it’s not safe.

Presumably a reference to Freud and his theory on the origin and meaning of dreams.

45 ~ Men are a lot of Pharisees

Quoted from Matthew 23:

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

45 ~ battening on her

To grow fat on, usually at the expense of someone else

45 ~ unto the third and the fourth generations

A reference to Exodus 34:7:

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

46 ~ And that damned fool of a footman stood there waiting to hand in the rug and never had the sense to hang it on my cruppers

cruppers: hindquarters, or, in Peter’s case, his buttocks

47 ~ Not faint Canaries, but ambrosial

Quotation from John Donne’s Elegy XIX:

Not faint Canaries, but ambrosial,
Her swelling lips, to which when we are come,
We anchor there, and think ourselves at home,
For they seem all;

47 ~ And wasn’t it about something rather more profound?

Peter is recalling the scene in Chapter 3 of “Busman’s Honeymoon” when he kisses Harriet and he murmurs the line. During that moment, “it is symptomatic of Harriet state of mind that at the time she’s vaguely connected the faint Canaries with the shabby tigers — only tracing the quotation to its source from ten days later.”

(Contributed by Chandini Lord)

47 ~ remote Bermudas

Quoted from “Bermuda” by Andrew Marvall:

Where the remote Bermudas ride
In the ocean’s bosom unespied,

48 ~ “Distinguished Gathering”

A mystery play from 1935 written by James Parish, in which a book publisher announces at a dinner party that the guests will be featured — skeletons and all — in another guest’s forthcoming memoirs, unless someone kills him first before the party ends.

48 ~ “Murder in the Cathedral”

Play by T.S. Eliot about the murder of Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral.

48 ~ Mussolini and the situation in Abyssinia

To be added later.

48 ~ faute de mieux

“For want of something better.” The phrase, in English, also served as the title of a short poem by Dorothy Parker:

Travel, trouble, music, art,
A kiss, a frock, a rhyme-
I never said they feed my heart,
But still they pass my time.

50 ~ Great Stink of 1858

The summer when the stench from rotting sewage in the Thames drove the members of Parliament from their buildings. For a number of years before, London’s metropolitian commissioners had been designing a series of interceptor sewers to divert sewage to remote outfalls east of London. It took the Great Stink to encourage the politicians to give the recently constituted Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW) the legislation that allowed them to begin work. As the MBW’s chief engineer, Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891) oversaw construction of the system that would eventually comprise 1,300 miles of sewers and four pumping stations. The system was completed in 1868. Building on the work of those before him, Bazalgette’s system led to serious reductions in the number of deaths from cholera and reversed the ecological decline of the Thames.

During his 33 years as a public engineer, Bazalgette oversaw a number of construction projects that transformed London. He also oversaw construction of the Victoria, Albert and Chelsea Embankments, 3? miles long in all, and the transition of London’s river bridges from privately owned toll roads to public ownership, which resulted in the construction of new bridges at Hammersmith, Putney and Battersea. He also oversaw design and construction of thoroughfares that would ease horse-drawn traffic congestion, such as Southwark Street, Queen Victorian Street, Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.

51 ~ Far in a western brookland …
Quoted from a poem by A.E. Houseman:

Far in a western brookland
That bred me long ago
The poplars stand and tremble
By pools I used to know.

There, in the windless night-time,
The wanderer, marvelling why,
Halts on the bridge to hearken
How soft the poplars sigh.

He hears: no more remembered
In fields where I was known,
Here I lie down in London
And turn to rest alone.

There, by the starlit fences,
The wanderer halts and hears
My soul that lingers sighing
About the glimmering weirs.

51 ~ “Thirdly … marriage was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.

Quoted from Thomas Cranmer’s version of the Book of Common Prayer of 1549.

Chapter 4

53 ~ It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.

Quoted from Chapter 4 of Tolstoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata”:

I rejected many just because they were not pure enough to suit me, but at last I found one whom I considered worthy. She was one of two daughters of a once-wealthy Penza landowner who had been ruined.

One evening after we had been out in a boat and had returned by moonlight, and I was sitting beside her admiring her culs and her shapely figure in a tight-fitting jersey, I suddenly decided that it was she! It seemed tome that evening that she understood all that I felt and thought, and that what I felt and thought was very lofty. In reality it was only that the jersey and the curls were particularly becoming to her and that after a day spent near her I wanted to be still closer.

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. A handsome woman talks nonsense, you listen and hear not nonsense but cleverness. She says and does horrid things, and you see only charm. And if a handsome woman does not say stupid or horrid things, you at once persuade yourself that she is wonderfully clever and moral.

53 ~ Some women are not beautiful — they only look as though they are.

An aphorism by Karl Kraus (1874-1936), acerbic satirist of Austria. With the financial support of his family, he published “Die Fackel” magazine until four months before his death. The publication, which consisted almost entirely of his commentary on current events totalled 30,000 pages and 37 volumes. Kraus created numerous aphorisms such as “Curses on the law! Most of my fellow citizens are the sorry consequences of uncommitted abortions”, “Satires which the censor can understand are justly forbidden”, and “A woman occasionally is quite a serviceable substitute for masturbation. It takes an abundance of imagination, to be sure.”

53 ~ like Minerva’s owl, sees better by night than by day

Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and commerce and is sometimes portrayed with an owl on her shoulder. Owls also see better by night than by day.

55 ~ with such tropical heats and fervours as wait upon Sirius ascending

Not traced

55 ~ brought sometimes an atmosphere of Scirocco

Scirocco. Or Sirocco, a dry hot wind, sometimes 100 kph (62 mph) that travels from Africa, across the Mediterranean Sea and into southern Europe.

(Thanks to Susan Carr for the tip.)

58 ~ something like that Carpaccio interior we used for “The Winter’s Tale”

A reference to the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1450-1525), whose style probably inspired the staging of Shakespeare’s play.

63 ~ I shall break out and bawl for a job with Colonel Blimp, or join the North-West Mounted Police

In the 1930s, Sir David Low created this cartoon character of an obese, elderly reactionary British man for the editorial page of the Evening Standard newspaper. This character, meant to be offensive in the same fashion as Archie Bunker on “All in the Family,” proved to be popular and enduring, especially during the 1930s. Although Colonel Blimp poked holes at military incompetence and unthinking patriotism, during World War II, he became an endearing figure in some quarters, representative of England and English core values. C.S. Lewis wrote in 1944 that “the future historian, asked to point to the most characteristic expression of the English temper in the period between the two wars will reply without hesitation Colonel Blimp.'”

Colonel Blimp was also the title character In”The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” (1943) but bears no relation to Low’s caricature. A more lengthy analysis can be found at The Political Cartoon Society.

69 ~ And the Peculiar People want to build a quite blasphemously ugly chapel just opposite my beautiful new pub in Billington Road

This alternative rendering of “Chosen People” was adopted by numerous Protestant sects. One such sect was called “Plumstead’s Peculiars,” which had a chapel in the village of Plumstead (now incorporated into Greater London. The group, founded in 1838, professed no creeds, had no ministers, and relied solely on prayer for healing.

70 ~ It is, Domina, it is

domina: lady, mistress

70 ~ not important enough to screw one’s courage to the sticking point, but requiring fortitude, none the less

Quoted from”Macbeth”, Act I, Sc. 7:

If we should fail?

Lady Macbeth
We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep—
Whereto the rather shall his day’s hard journey
Soundly invite him–his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?

71 ~ It’s a very handsome pie-frill. Discouraging, perhaps, to the well-meant expression of a husband’s feelings. But becoming.

pie-frill: A type of collar that, best as I can tell, is kind of a ruffle but with sharp, pleated edges.

Chapter 5

73 ~ For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings

Quoted from “Richard II,” Act III, Scene 2:

No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let’s choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?

78 ~ A chacun son mètier, observed Chapparelle approvingly

A chacun son mètier: “Each to his calling”

80 ~ He was investigating a murder and had to go about disguised as a copy-writer. He earned four pounds a week, and was terribly proud of himself.

Under the name Death Bredon, Wimsey infiltrated Pym’s Publicity to investigate a suspicious death in “Murder Must Advertise.”

83 ~ Not that storied urn and animated bust are exactly necessary to make me think of my blessings. But I have sometimes suspected you of an unwarrantable modesty. I should rather like Chapparelle to show you to yourself.

Quoted from Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”:

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

83 ~ Henceforth I shall only become slowly ankylosed in an attitude of devotion. Time shall make me marble. The soul is its own monument.

ankylosed: stiffened by disease or surgery, or a union created to form a single bone.

the soul is its own monument: From Thomas Love Peacock’s poem “There is a Fever of the Spirit”:

There is a fever of the spirit,
The brand of Cain’s unresting doom,
Which in the lone dark souls that bear it
Glows like the lamp in Tullia’s tomb:
Unlike that lamp, its subtle fire
Burns, blasts, consumes its cell, the heart,
Till, one by one, hope, joy, desire,
Like dreams of shadowy smoke depart.
When hope, love, life itself, are only
Dust—spectral memories—dead and cold—
The unfed fire burns bright and lonely,
Like that undying lamp of old:
And by that drear illumination,
Till time its clay-built home has rent,
Thought broods on feeling’s desolation
The soul is its own monument.

Chapter 6

95 ~ And beauty draws us with a single hair

Quoted from Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” canto ii, line 27:

Fair tresses man’s imperial race insnare,
And beauty draws us with a single hair

95 ~ I will not hold a Bed of Justice — still less, a Bed of Dramatic Criticism

Bed of Justice: In France, the throne occupied by the king when sitting in one of his parliaments (judicial courts); hence, a session of a refractory parliament, at which the king was present for the purpose of causing his decrees to be registered.

96 ~ It shall be read to me, as Disraeli once observed, by a Privy Counsellor

Quoted from “Queen Victoria” by Lytton Strachey, chapter 8:

But soon there was an unexpected reverse. At the General Election of 1880 the country, mistrustful of the forward policy of the Conservatives, and carried away by Mr. Gladstone’s oratory, returned the Liberals to power. Victoria was horrified, but within a year she was to be yet more nearly hit. The grand romance had come to its conclusion. Lord Beaconsfield, worn out with age and maladies, but moving still, an assiduous mummy, from dinner-party to dinner-party, suddenly moved no longer. When she knew that the end was inevitable, she seemed, by a pathetic instinct, to divest herself of her royalty, and to shrink, with hushed gentleness, beside him, a woman and nothing more. “I send some Osborne primroses,” she wrote to him with touching simplicity, “and I meant to pay you a little visit this week, but I thought it better you should be quite quiet and not speak. And I beg you will be very good and obey the doctors.” She would see him, she said, “when we, come back from Osborne, which won’t be long.” “Everyone is so distressed at your not being well,” she added; and she was, “Ever yours very aff’ly V.R.I.” When the royal letter was given him, the strange old comedian, stretched on his bed of death, poised it in his hand, appeared to consider deeply, and then whispered to those about him, “This ought to be read to me by a Privy Councillor.”

96 ~ You obey instructions à merveille

à merveille: gem or wonder

97 ~ Sewage? Ah! J’y suis — les égouts, that is what is sewers, n’est-ce pas?

Chapparelle is saying, “Ah, I comprehend — sewers, that is [what we call] sewers, do you not agree?”

97 ~ But look! I will paint him what he sees, quand même.

quand meme: nevertheless

98 ~ A lady who can be enraptured by sewage is not sheltered from the realities. Allons! Au travail.

Allons! Au travail: Let us go! Back to work!

98 ~ Des goûts, et des égouts; about matters of taste as about sewers, no discussion is possible.

Des goûts, et des égouts: Taste and sewers.

Chapter 7

99 ~ O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither’d from the lake
And no birds sing
John Keats

Quoted from the opening of John Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

103 ~ And I am very glad to see you; you appear like the relief of Mafeking

Mafeking: An episode from the Boer War in southern Africa, when the Boers besieged the small British garrison in the town in Transvaal from 13 October 1899 to 17 May 1900. To the British, their resolve to hold out became a powerful symbol of resistance, and the relief resulted in celebrations around the Empire.

105 ~ The effect of it on the diamond-patterned dress and the little cap was electrifying. Rosamund looked like some exquisite Columbine.

Columbine: a reference to the character from the Comedia del Arte. Columbine also appears in ballets such as Petrouchka.
(Thanks to Elizabeth Bentley for the contribution and correction.)

108 ~ Let’s be Sybarites, just for once

Sybarites: someone who loves luxury or pleasure. The name comes from the city of Sybaris, in southern Italy. It was destroyed in 511.

108 ~ It isn’t Balenciaga or Schiaparelli. Just something I bought in London.

Balenciaga and Schiaparelli were high-end fashion designers very popular in their day.

110 ~ She’s just a young terp.

Possibly a reference to the muse Terprichore, who inspires music and drama

111 ~ In my day junior members were not allowed more than five miles from Carfax

Carfax Tower: One of the oldest buildings in Oxford. It is found at the center of the old city, at the intersections of High Street, St. Aldate, Queen Street and Cornmarket. Oxford regulations prohibited undergraduates from living more than five miles from the center of the city. Upper-level students were allowed to live farther out.

111 ~ But a friend of mine has a Cub, parked at Northolt

As Lord Peter explains on the next page, a Piper Cub.

111 ~ They crossed Piccadilly at the Belisha beacon

Belisha beacon: A black-and-white striped post with a flashing amber light on top that marks a pedestrian crossing. Named for Transport Minister Leslie Hore-Belisha, who introduced the beacons in 1934. Hore-Belisha is also credited with reducing road deaths by introducing a new highway code and driving tests for motorists. In 1937, he performed similar reforms on the army as minister of war for prime minister Neville Chamberlain. He increased pay for recruits, improved the catering, introduced battledress and simplified the drill.

112 ~ Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

Quoted from Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, part 2

Chapter 8

115 ~ The hunt is up, the hunt is up!

Quoted from an English hunting song. This version is from Sedley’s “Seed of Love”:

The Song of the Hunt

The hunt is up, the hunt is up;
Sing merrily we, the hunt is up!
The wild birds sing,
The dun deer fling,
The forest aisles with music ring!
Tantara, tantara, tantara!
Then ride along, ride along,
Stout and strong!
Farewell to grief and care;
With a rollicking cheer
For the high dun deer
And a life in the open air!
Tantara, the hunt is up, lads;
Tantara, the bugles bray!
Tantara, tantara, tantara,
Hio, hark away!

115 ~ All other men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience.

Quoted, about Mycroft Holmes, from the Sherlock Holmes story “The Bruce-Partington Plans.”

116 ~ put your photographic gear and tackle and trim in the boot

Quoted from “Pied Beauty,” a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins:

Glory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

123 ~ Mrs Chanter mentioned a freshly baked cottage pie, and an apple charlotte

cottage pie is similar to Shepherd’s Pie, only beef is used in place of lamb.

129 ~ When she had been involved in murder before — she did not count the murder of poor Philip Boyes, who had been her love, that was far too complicated a situation; she was thinking of Mr Alexis, lying in a pool of blood on the shore at Wilvercombe

Philip Boyes: the murder victim in “Strong Poison”
Mr Alexis: the murder victim in “Have His Carcase”

129 ~ She was wearing one of those Breton collars of yours

Breton is a region in France located on the Brittany peninsula. It is home to the Bretons, a people whose women were renowned for their lace-making. During the 19th and 20th centuries, each village had developed its own unique style, so this is not a particular style of collar, but an open-weave lace that was attached to the dress.

130-1 ~ Several laps behind the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all

Quotation from the English ballad “Widdecombe Fair.” According to the song, an old mare was borrowed “That I may ride to Widdecombe Fair / With Phil Lewer, Jan Brewer, Harry Hawkins, Hugh Davy, Philly Whitpot, George Pausley, Dick Wilson, Tom Cobbley and all, Here is Uncle Tom Cobbley and all” Not surprisingly, the gray mare ends up making her will and turning ghastly white at having to convey everyone to the fair.

Uncle Tom is also mentioned (as “Cobbley”) on page 209 of “Strong Poison.”

131 ~ the marriage of true minds we try for?

Peter is quoting from one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, 116, which begins:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

His concluding remark that “we’ll bear it out even to the edge of doom” is also drawn from the sonnet.
(Thanks to J. Curran for the assist.)

132 ~ was as lovely as Dorothy Lamour herself

Dorothy Lamour: U.S. actress (1919-1996). Noted for, among other roles, appearing in the “Road” movies with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

135 ~ Paul very angry with President Roosevelt over Neutrality Law

The Neutrality Act was first passed in August of 1935 and amended several times. Designed to keep the U.S. out of a possible European war, it banned shipment of war materiel to belligerents and — hoping to prevent another incident like the sinking of the Lusitana — banned U.S. citizens from traveling on belligerent vessels except at their own risk. Later amendment banned loans to belligerents and forbid intervention in civil wars.

Chapter 9

137 ~ Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult is it to bring it home

Quotation from the Sherlock Holmes story “The Boscombe Valley Mystery.”

139 ~ Audley Square

The Wimseys moved off busy Picadilly and several streets deeper into Mayfair. (Note: No. 3 Audley Square is not the Wimsey’s address, but another’s.)

Chapter 10

153 ~ We owe respect to the living; to the dead we owe only truth.

Quoted from Voltaire’s “Oeuvres” (1785), volume 1, paragraph 15

155 ~ I was thinking of working in the London Library today anyway

London Library: A subscription-only library located in St. James’s Square in central London.

157 ~ the hideousness of murder, “murder most foul, as in the best it is,” the intolerable violence done to rightful expectations

Quoted from “Hamlet,” Act I, Scene 5:

Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.


Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

157 ~ And over there Miss Gertrude Lawrence was talking to Noel Coward

Lawrence was a notable stage actress. Coward was a playwright, songwriter, actor and wit.

159 ~ One of my contacts in the City mentioned that Harwell was trying to raise a little wind, that’s all

raise a little wind: A nautical term from the Age of Sail adapted for other uses. Sailors who found themselves becalmed at sea would try various tricks to “raise a little wind.” In Harwell’s case, he trying to raise a little money.

168 ~ and doing a little sublunary leaning and hearkening

sublunary: relating to the terrestrial world

Quote from John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”:

As virtuous men pass mildly away
And whisper to their souls, to go
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, no:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods nor sigh-tempests move
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity of our love.
Moving of th’earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love, so much refined,
That we ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two,
Thy soul the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, it th’other do.
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th’other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end, where I begun.

168 ~ … It’s been a lying sort of winter

This time, from Donne’s “Love’s Growth”:

I scarce believe my love to be so pure
As I had thought it was,
Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass;
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore
My love was infinite, if spring make it more.

But if this medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
With more, not only be no quintessence,
But mix’d of all stuffs, vexing soul, or sense,
And of the sun his active vigour borrow,
Love’s not so pure, and abstract as they use
To say, which have no mistress but their Muse;
But as all else, being elemented too,
Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.
And yet no greater, but more eminent,
Love by the spring is grown;
As in the firmament
Stars by the sun are not enlarged, but shown,
Gentle love deeds, as blossoms on a bough,
From love’s awakened root do bud out now.

If, as in water stirr’d more circles be
Produced by one, love such additions take,
Those like so many spheres but one heaven make,
For they are all concentric unto thee;
And though each spring do add to love new heat,
As princes do in times of action get
New taxes, and remit them not in peace,
No winter shall abate this spring’s increase.

Chapter 11

169 ~ Hadst thou the wicked skill
By pictures made and mard to kill
How many ways mightst thou perform thy will?
John Donne

Quoted from Donne’s “Witchcraft by a Picture”:

I fix mine eye on thine, and there
Pity my picture burning in thine eye;
My picture drown’d in a transparent tear,
When I look lower I espy;
Hadst thou the wicked skill
By pictures made and marr’d, to kill,
How many ways mightst thou perform thy will?

But now I’ve drunk thy sweet salt tears,
And though thou pour more, I’ll depart;
My picture vanished, vanish all fears
That I can be endamaged by that art;
Though thou retain of me
One picture more, yet that will be,
Being in thine own heart, from all malice free

169 ~ from the portals of the Bellona Club

Readers may remember that this was the location for “The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.”

172 ~ Well, madame, I see there has been quelque chose d’éclatant

quelque chose d’éclatant: “something out of the ordinary”
(Thanks to Elizabeth Bentley for the contribution.)

172 ~ You expect him back, like the faithful Aucassin?

Aucassin: the hero of the medieval fable Aucassin and Nicolette. It’s rather complicated, involving a Romeo and Juliet type situation among feuding families. A prose and poetry version from the 13th century was translated by Andrew Lang.

172 ~ Ça doit donner un beau regard

It will give you a beautiful look

173 ~ This secret: I do not believe it is just the congé du mari

congé du mari: the absence of your husband
(Thanks to Elizabeth Bentley for the contribution.)

174 ~ We have a rhyme in French, Lady Peter, for playing with plum stones: “Il m’aime un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, ß la folie, pas du tout

A form of “he loves me / he loves me not.” This phrase runs: “He loves me a little / He loves me alot / He loves me like mad / He loves me not.” It’s a variation on “he loves me / he loves me not.”

176 ~ a lovely Dutch seascape over the mantlepiece, an elegant Louis Quinze secretaire

Quinze: Of relating to, or characteristic of, the rococo style in architecture, furniture, and decoration of the reign of Louis XV. “Quinze” is French for 15. (This reference reappears in entry 274, below).

177 ~ But as for people running around supporting Falangists and Cagoulards … There are even people ready to suck up to Hitler. And he’s such a vulgar little runt!

Falangists, Cagoulards: Facist groups in Spain and France. Cagoulard means “hooded men.”

177 ~ I mean Oswald Mosley, and that stupid Unity Mitford

Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley (1896-1980): politican and fascist leader. An aristocrat whose family was lords of the manor of Manchester until 1846, Mosley was a rising political star during the early part of his political career, elected to parliament in 1918 after a war career that included an undistinguished stint in the Royal Flying Corps. But although he was a powerful platform speaker, his vituperative response to criticism hampered his effectiveness. When Ramsay MacDonald formed his second Labour government in 1929, Mosley was assigned the task of finding ways to stimulate employment, but frustrated by his inability to collect support for his plan, he resigned a year later. His resignation speech made such an impression that he was considered a possible future prime minister. But over the next two years, Mosley made serious misjudgments that eventually saw him embrace fascism as a way to solve Britian’s Depression. The British Union of Fascists was formed in 1932, with its leaders in black shirts and Mosley’s defiant statement that “Better the great adventure, better defeat, disaster, better by far the end of that trivial thing called a political career than posturing and strutting on the stage of little England amid the scenery of decadence.” During the war, he was interned as a security risk until health problems resulted in his release in 1943. Until his death in 1980, he continued his political involvement, but was never taken seriously.

Unity Mitford (1914-1948): Nazi sympathizer. A member of the Mitford family and one of six “exceptionally spirited” sisters (according to the Dictionary of National Biography) who made their mark on British society. While Diana Mitford married Oswald Mosley, it was Unity who was an ardent supporter of fascism, moving to Germany in 1934 and worming her way into Hitler’s circle. In the process, she became unhinged, and attempted suicide when Britain declared war on Germany. She survived, but according to a friend, “Her mind is that of a sophisticated child, and she is still very amusing in that Mitford manner.” She spent the rest of her life under her mother’s care and died of meningitis in 1948.

178 ~ we have reason to believe you had been issuing threats to inflict GBH on her

GBH: grevious bodily harm

Chapter 12

185 ~ Upon the king! Let us our lives, our souls,
Our debts, our careful wives,
Our children and our sins lay on the king!
William Shakespeare

Quoted from “Henry V”, Act IV, Scene 1

185 ~ All kings is mostly rapscallions — Mark Twain

Quoted from Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” Chapter 23, when Jim is warning him that their companions, the Dauphin, is not who he says he is.

“But Huck, dese kings o’ ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat’s jist what dey is; dey’s reglar rapscallions.”

“Well, that’s what I’m a-saying; all kings is mostly rapscallions as fur as I can make out.”

“Is dat so?”

“You read about them once you’ll see. Look at Henry the Eight; this ‘n’ ‘s a Sunday-school Superintendent to him.”

185 ~ and celebrated his return in the fashion of the Duke of Marlborough getting back from the wars

“His Grace returned from the wars today and pleasured me twice in his top boots” — Sarah Churchill (1660-1744), Duchess of Marlborough, diary entry.

192 ~ There is famously something highly suggestive about a dog that doesn’t bark

Quoted from Sherlock Holmes “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” in which he’s investigating the disappearance of Colonel Ross’s race horse from the stable at night.

Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion which he had formed of my companion’s ability, but I saw by the Inspector’s face that his attention had been keenly aroused.

“You consider that to be important?” he asked.

“Exceedingly so.”

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.”

“The dog did nothing in the nighttime.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

196 ~ My dear Calpurnia! But though I am not Caesar, you are my wife; and I need to tell someone.

Calpurnia was Caesar’s third wife, who the night before his assassination, dreamed that a templelike gable, dedicated to her, smashed to the ground, and her husband died in her arms. As to the reference, this doesn’t sound like the phrase “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” nor can a reference be discerned from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

196 ~ Keep it under seven seals

Quoted from Revelations, Chapter 5:

1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

196 ~ A babylonish dialect, Which learned pedants much affect

Quoted from Samuel Butler’s “Hudibras” part 1, canto 1, line 93

197 ~ But he goes down to Fort Belvedere every weekend, and he doesn’t take his staff with him

Fort Belvedere: A royal property in Sunningdale was the home of the Duke of Windsor. King George V gave him the home in 1930, and the duke lived there (and carried on assignations) until his abdication in 1936.

198 ~ Do you remember Reggie Pomfret who fell for you so heavily?

Pomfret: A student Harriet met in”Gaudy Night”

200 ~ and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Add text later.

200 ~ Elle qui sera la Reine d’Angleterre?

“Will she be the Queen of England?”

Chapter 13

201 ~ Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone? Oh, where, oh where can he be?

A children’s song that is a truncated version of a comic song written by Septimus Winner in 1864 and called “Der Deitcher’s Dog.”

Oh where, Oh where ish mine little dog gone;
Oh where, Oh where can he be ..
His ears cut short und his tail cut long:
Oh where, Oh where ish he.

(Chorus) Tra la la la, la la la, la la la, la
La la la, la la la, la la la, la
Tra la la, la la la, la

I loves mine lager ’tish very goot beer
Oh where, Oh where can he be ..
But mit no money I can not drink here,
Oh where, Oh where ish he.

Across the ocean in Garmanie,
Oh where, Oh where can he be
Der Deitcher’s dog ish der best companie
Oh where, Oh where ish he.

Un sasage ish goot, bolonie of course
Oh where, Oh where can he be
Dey makes em mit dog und dey makes em mit horse
I guess dey makes em mit he ..

201 ~ Every crime has something of the dream about it. Crimes determined to take place engender all they need: victims, circumstances, pretexts, opportunities. — Paul Valery

Valery: French poet (1871-1945)

215 ~ What was it that welcomed little fishes in with gently smiling jaws

Quoted from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, chapter 2:

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

Chapter 14

219 ~ Through all the drama, whether damned or not Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot. Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Quoted from the Epilogue of “The Rivals”:

Mrs. Bulkley Ladies, for you—I heard our poet say—
He’d try to coax some moral from his play:
“One moral’s plain,” cried I, “without more fuss;
Man’s social happiness all rests on us:
Through all the drama—whether damn’d or not—
Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot.
From every rank obedience is our due—
D’ye doubt?—The world’s great stage shall prove it true.”

219 ~ and that I needed a young woman the same measurements as Miss Kay Francis to model the dresses I was making

Kay Francis was one of the highest-paid American actresses at Warner Brothers between 1930 and 1936.

222 ~ Anything less is liable to strike the reader as perry to champagne.

perry: fermented pear juice

Chapter 15

227 ~ For in what stupid age or nation Was marriage ever out of fashion?

Quoted from Samuel Butler’s “Hudibras”, part III, canto 1. The work is extremely long, so only the stanza shall be given:

The world is but two parts, that meet
And close at th’ equinoctial fit;
And so are all the works of nature,
Stamp’d with her signature on matter,
Which all her creatures, to a leaf,
Or smallest blade of grass receive;
All which sufficiently declare,
How entirely marriage is her care,
The only method that she uses
In all the wonders she produces:
And those that take their rules from her,
Can never be deceiv’d, nor err.
For what secures the civil life,
But pawns of children, and a wife?
That lie like hostages at stake,
To pay for all men undertake;
To whom it is as necessary
As to be born and breathe, to marry;
So universal all mankind,
In nothing else, is of one mind.
For in what stupid age, or nation,
Was marriage ever out of fashion?

237 ~ The difficulties for me if I tell you are une bagatelle

une bagatelle: a trifle

239 ~ It was La Bruyère, a countryman of mine, who said it: that when a plain-looking woman is loved it can only be very passionately

Jean De La Bruyere: French philosopher, moralist and writer (1645 – 1696) He is noted for his collections of aphorisms, including one that could not be applied to Lord Peter and Bunter: “Rarely do men appear great to their valets”

241 ~ serenely reading Markham’s “Handbook of Forensic Medicine”

Not traced

246 ~ Then so you shall, Domina. O, moon of my desire, that knows no wane, the moon of heaven is rising once again—

Quoted from Edward FitzGerald’s translation of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, stanza 74:

Ah, Moon of my Delight who Know’st no wane
The Moon of Heav’n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me—in vain!

246 ~ In a wife I would desire, what in whores is often found … I suppose whores must have been rather different in his day

Quoted from a short poem by William Blake:

In a wife I would desire
What in whores is always found
The lineaments of Gratified Desire

lineament: an outline, feature or contour of a body or face

Chapter 16

247 ~ Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Missus Worthington,
Don’t put your daughter on the stage …
Noël Coward

Quoted from the popular song by Noël Coward:

From “Noël Coward On The Air” (1947)

Noël Coward speaks: Some years ago when I was returning from the Far East on a very large ship, I was pursued around the decks every day by a very large lady. She showed me some photographs of her daughter — a repellent-looking girl and seemed convinced that she was destined for a great stage career. Finally, in sheer self-preservation, I locked myself in my cabin and wrote this song — “Don’t Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs. Worthington”.

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage
The profession is overcrowded
The struggle’s pretty tough
And admitting the fact she’s burning to act
That isn’t quite enough
She’s a nice girl and though her teeth are fairly good
She’s not the type I ever would be eager to engage
I repeat, Mrs. Worthington, sweet Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage

Regarding yours, dear Mrs. Worthington
Of Wednesday, the 23rd.
Although your baby may be keen on a stage career
How can I make it clear that this is not a good idea
For her to hope and appear, Mrs. Worthington
Is on the face of it absurd
Her personality is not in reality quite big enough, inviting enough
For this particular sphere
Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage

She’s a bit of an ugly duckling, you must honestly confess
And the width of her seat would surely defeat
Her chances of her success
It’s – it’s a loud voice, and though it’s not exactly flat
She’ll need a little more than that to earn a living wage
On my knees, Mrs. Worthington, please Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage
Though they said at the school of acting
She was lovely as Peer Gynt
I’m afraid, on the whole, an ingenue role might emphasize her squint
She has nice hands, to give the wretched girl her due
But don’t you think her bust is too developed for her age
No more buts, Mrs. Worthington, nuts! Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage

247 ~ These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air
William Shakespeare

Quoted from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Act IV, Scene 1:

You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay’d: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vex’d;
Bear with my weakness; my, brain is troubled:
Be not disturb’d with my infirmity:
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose: a turn or two I’ll walk,
To still my beating mind.

249 ~ ce qu’il refuse à faire … un coup de foudre

ce qu’il refuse à faire: what he refuses to do
un coup de foudre: a thunderbolt

250 ~ There are such things as coincidence; it’s not like saying, “It can’t be a unicorn,” now, is it?

Not traced

250 ~ And sub specie aeternitatis everything makes sense?

Sub specie aeternitatis: under the aspect of eternity

255 ~ Ashcroft and Olivier smiled glamorously across the bed

Peggy Ashcroft and Laurence Olivier are notable British actors.

259 ~ Dear my lord, Make me acquainted with your cause of grief … Am I musing and sighing with my arms across?

Both Harriet’s question and Peter’s reply are drawn from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” Act II, Scene 1:

Y’ have urgently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed; and yesternight at supper?
You suddenly arose and walked about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across;
And when I asked you what the matter was,
You stared upon me with ungentle looks.
I urged you further; then you scratched your head,
And too impatiently stamped with your foot;
Yet I insisted, yet you answered not,
But with an angry wafture of your hand?
Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did,
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seemed too much enkindled, and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humour,
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep;
And could it also work so much upon your shape,
As it hath much prevailed on your condition,
I should not know you Brutus. Dear my lord,
Make me acquainted with the cause of grief.

260 ~ But surely four intelligent people can find a modus vivendi

modus vivendi: way of living

261 ~ All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well

Quoted from the Chaplet of St. Julian of Norwich

Chapter 17

263 ~ In Stygian cave forlorn, Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy. John Milton

Quoted from Milton’s “L’Allegro”:

Hence loathed Melancholy
Of Cerberus and blackest midnight born,
In Stygian Cave forlorn,
‘Mongst horrid shapes, and shreiks, and sights unholy.
Find out som uncouth cell,
Where brooding darkness spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-Raven sings;
There, under Ebon shades, and low-brow’d Rocks,
As ragged as thy Locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.

264 ~ They reached the first weir after a few minutes.

weir: a dam used to raise the water level or divert its course

Chapter 18

269 ~ See how love and murder will out William Congreve

Quoted from Congreve’s play “The Double-Dealer”, Act IV, Scene 6, in which Mr. Brisk, deciding to woo Lady Froth, cries out her name while she’s around, prompting her to ask why:

Lady Froth: Bless me, why did you call out upon me so loud?

Brisk: O Lord, I, madam! I beseech your ladyship — when?

Lady Froth: Just now as I came in, bless me, why, don’t you know it?

Brisk: Not I, let me perish. But did I? Strange! I confess your ladyship was in my thoughts; and I was in a sort of dream that did in a manner represent a very pleasing object to my imagination, but &@8212; but did I indeed? — To see how love and murder will out. But did I really name my Lady Froth?

269 ~ Here, take my picture; though I bid farewell Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells shall dwell

Quoted from John Donne’s “Elegy V: His Picture”:

Here take my picture; though I bid farewell,
Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells, shall dwell.
‘Tis like me now, but I dead, ’twill be more,
When we are shadows both, than ’twas before.
When weatherbeaten I come back ; my hand?
Perhaps with rude oars torn, or sun-beams tann’d,
My face and breast of haircloth, and my head?
With care’s harsh sudden hoariness o’erspread,
My body a sack of bones, broken within,
And powder’s blue stains scatter’d on my skin;
If rival fools tax thee to have loved a man,
So foul and coarse, as, O ! I may seem then,
This shall say what I was ; and thou shalt say,
“Do his hurts reach me? doth my worth decay?
Or do they reach his judging mind, that he?
Should now love less, what he did love to see?
That which in him was fair and delicate,
Was but the milk, which in love’s childish state?
Did nurse it ; who now is grown strong enough?
To feed on that, which to weak tastes seems tough.”

272 ~ Touch pitch and be defiled

Quoted from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” Act III, Scene 3:

Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they
that touch pitch will be defiled: the most peaceable
way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him
show himself what he is and steal out of your company

274 ~ I am not Louis Quinze

Quinze: Of relating to, or characteristic of, the rococo style in architecture, furniture, and decoration of the reign of Louis XV. “Quinze” is French for 15. (This reference reappears in entry 176, above).

275 ~ You are not too pleased to be generous, j’espere.

j’espere: I hope

275 ~ Clients, perhaps not. People are afraid of me. Ils ont raison. But it will bring me glory.

Ils ont raison: they are right

277 ~ You know the sort of thing — as in the Venetian Comedy, a full painted mask, held up in front of the face on a stick

mask: Masks figure in the plays of Italy’s Commedia dell’arte, which is noted for its improvised stories using different character types, such as lovers, servants, masters, and individuals like the buffoon Harle

(c) 1995-2016 by Bill Peschel