The page numbers are from “Lord Peter” published by Harper & Row. The excerpts are copyrighted 1972 by Harper & Row.
21 ~ Elephant’s Child
From the story by Rudyard Kipling
Woolsack was really stuffed with
To quote from the United Kingdom Parliament’s Web site: “The Woolsack is a seat stuffed with wool on which the Lord Chancellor sits. It was introduced by King Edward III and originally stuffed with English wool as a reminder of England’s traditional source of wealth – the wool trade – and as a sign of prosperity. Today the Woolsack is stuffed with wool from several countries of the Commonwealth, to symbolise unity.”
Chief Engineer at 2LO
2LO was the call letters for one of the world’s first radio stations. The first, called Two Emma Toc (2MT), began broadcasting entertainment programs in 1922. Shortly thereafter, 2LO was launched at Marconi House in the Strand, London. When the British Broadcasting Corporation was created, a more powerful transmitter was built and installed in the Selfridges building, to which 2LO was moved.
24 ~ Seidlitz powder
Seidlitz powder is a forerunner of Alka-Seltzer. It is composed of tartaric acid, potassium tartrate and sodium carbonate and fizzes in water. The name comes from a village in Bohemia whose waters are impregnated with magnesium sulphate and carbon dioxide.
Seidlitz powder was widely used. It appears in an entertaining interlude from Dickens’ “The Pickwick Papers,” and also in this bit of doggerel, alleged to be an epitaph from a cemetery in Burleigh, N.J., circa 1880:
Here lies the body of Mary Ann Lowder
Who burst while drinking a seidlitz powder;
Called from this Earth to her Heavenly rest
She should have waited until it effervesced.
Contes de la Fontaine
Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95): French author. He is noted more for his Fables, which included stories drawn from Aesop such as “The Grasshopper and the Ant” and “The Crow and the Fox,” what Lord Peter was reading was the “Contes et nouvelles en vers of Jean de La Fontaine.” This collection of stories, published in various formats through the poet’s life, were considerably more adult than the innocent fables, and ranged from mildly suggestive to explicit. It would have been amusing to look over Lord Peter’s shoulder at the Fragonard plates.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806): a French painter who is popularly known for his erotic paintings such as “The Swing,” and four canvases representing The Progress of Love. As the reference books do not mention that he was involved in plate-making, I would suggest that the plates in the Contes were based on Fragonard’s works.
26 ~ sense went out of society with the House of Lords’ veto
To quote again from Parliament’s Web site: “In 1909 the Lords rejected the Liberal Government’s budget. The Liberals then introduced a bill to end the Lords’ power to reject legislation approved by the Commons, which was passed under the threat of a large creation of Liberal peers. The Parliament Act 1911 provided that:
* Money bills approved by the Commons became law if not passed without amendment by the Lords within one month;
* other Public Bills, except one to extend the life of a Parliament, became law without the consent of the Lords, if passed by the Commons in three successive sessions, providing two years elapsed between Second Reading and final passing in the Commons.”
Dear Dizzy, I remember so well, when his wife died, how hard we all tried to get him . . . that stupid Bradford woman
“Dizzy” is the nickname of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), the Conservative statesman and prime minister.
Lady Bradford is a reference to Selina, Countess of Bradford. He seems to have been infatuated with the lady, writing her regularly, sometimes several times a day. This site from the Staffordshire County Council gives an excerpt from a letter that gives you an idea of their correspondence.
(Contributed by Lindsay Marshall.)
30 ~ torrent of apache language
An apache is a member of a Parisian street gang, so presumably Celestine was speaking in the argot of that group.