Dedication: To Bareback Larabee, who although tied for number two, tries very hard indeed.
Specialized Vocabulary List for "Fleet's In" Romp
Hippolyta - Legendary Amazon Queen; while she features in the myth cycle of Heracles, she is also used by Shakespeare in his "Mid-Summer Night's Dream" as the consort of the Athenian Duke Theseus.
Penthesileia - Another legendary Amazon Queen; an ally of Troy, she fell defending the city from the Myceneans.
Achilleus - The Mycenean Prince who killed Penthesileia. He removed her armor after he killed her, realized she was a woman, and instantly fell in love with her. (No, I am NOT making this stuff up.) Ezra would say, 'Achilleus', using the proper Greek, not the Latin 'Achilles'.
Trakehner - "Many consider the Trakehner to be Europe's finest warmblood and the ideal competition horse The Trakehner originated in the 13th Century studs of the Teutonic Knights, in what used to be East Prussia. They used indigenous Schweiken ponies, descendents of the Tarpan, as a base. The Royal Trakehner Stud was founded by Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia in 1732, and aimed to produce active coach horses. Within 50 years, more emphasis was placed on breeding cavalry remounts. As a result, Thoroughbred and Arabians were used Selective breeding has ensured excellent conformation. The Trakehner has the appearance of a top-class middleweight hunter, and is courageous across country. It excels at dressage and show jumping." From Horses: The Visual guide to over 100 breeds from around the world, by Elwyn Hartley Edwards.
Glen Morangie - a Highland single malt whiskey, its brewery was founded in
1843. It is considered a good one; my personal favorite, Glenfiddich, alas,
was first distilled on Christmas Day, 1887.
Soldaderas - plural of soldadera, a Spanish word meaning 'female soldier'. There were many heroic Mexican soldaderas in their revolution, and as for Spain, the Maid of Saragossa was one of many patriotic heroines.
Mais, mon Capitaine - French, for But, Captain!
Belay - it means 'cancel that last/ongoing order/action'. It is a naval term common to Britain and America.
Tally Ho! - a term used in fox hunting. It means, "the hounds have picked up the fox's scent and are in pursuit; follow their tails".
View Halloo! - another fox hunting term. It means "we shall have the fox presently". Both Tally Ho! and View Halloo! are 'sounded' on hunting horns. In the days when cavalry officers trained on the hunting field just as much as they did on the parade ground, these horn calls were used to good, mocking effect.
The Brush - our last piece of fox hunting vocabulary. It is the tail of the fox, often awarded as a prize at the end of the hunt; the ears were often included.
Exec - short for Executive Officer, or second in command on a navy ship.
Atalanta - the only female Argonaut, she could out-run, out-hunt, and out-fight the boys.
Hypsipile - a Queen of the Greek Island Lemnos. Jason and the Argonauts landed on Lemnos during their adventures, to find they were the only men on the island. The men had all been killed by the women. The women decided to make use of this fortuitous arrival of a bunch of heroes who would shortly be sailing out of their lives again by passing the boys around until they were all pregnant. The union between Jason and Hypsipile was supposed to be of a more permanent nature, and thus she and her twins were driven into exile when he abandoned them.
Lemnian - of Lemnos. See above.
Honi soit qui mal y pense - "Evil to him who evil thinks" is the usual translation. It is the motto of the Order of the Garter, the second oldest order of Chivalry in Britain. The 'it probably isn't true, but it should be' explanation for the founding of the order is that a Lady in the court of Edward III lost a garter during a dance, and was terribly embarrassed. (These garters held up her stockings, and thus it was rather like dropping your panties on the dance floor, especially as they didn't really wear any panties in those days.) The King picked up the garter and put it on his sleeve, chastising his laughing courtiers with the Latin above. Most historians feel that the reality of the founding of the Order had to do with trying to establish that pesky claim to the French throne the English monarchs were always going on about. (At least I think it was the reign of Edward III Believe it or not, this was done off the cuff and under the influence.)
Sotto voce - Italian for 'soft voice', more or less. Think a stage whisper, or a mutter, only with more deliberate "you're supposed to overhear this, but in such a way as you can't call me on it."
C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre - more French, and another quote. This one is from a French General during the Crimean War, and it is his opinion of the infamous "Charge of the Light Brigade": "It is magnificent, but it is not war."
Old Man - naval slang on both sides of the Atlantic for the Captain and/or Admiral, depending on whether or not you're on a flagship.
Buena idea - Spanish; good idea.
Qualquiera - a marvelously flexible and subtle word. For the purposes of this story, let the loose translation read, "whatever floats your boat".
Contrapposto - an art history term. "The disposition of the human figure in which one part is turned in a direction opposite of that of the other (usually hips and legs one way, shoulders and chest another) - thus, a counter-positioning of the body about its central axis. Sometimes called "weight-shift", since the weight of the body tends to be thrown to one foot, creating tension on one side and relaxation on the other." (From Gardner's Art Through The Ages, sixth edition.)
Praxiteles - one of those Ancient Greeks, at least according to scurrilous and unsubstantiated rumor. Very famous for his 'S' curve and the Hermes and Dionysos that currently resides in the museum on Olympia, he was a sculptor worshipped for his skill at portraying the beauty of the human body in his own time, and from the Renaissance into ours. (He did very nice Aphrodites, too, but that Hermes just GETS me.)
Commonplace book - a notebook, or the closest they had to what we would consider a notebook today. This is a word I've found used in Boston just before period, so while possibly archaic, still appropriate for J.D.
You're a scholar and a gentleman - "Thank you." Naval/military slang, probably more used in the Royal Navy than the USN.
Sangfroid - that essential quality of the gentleman and gentlewoman, cool self-possession or composure - and a LOT of dash and style. Lord Paget illustrated considerable sangfroid on the field of Waterloo, when a cannon-ball bounced by his horse, taking his leg along with it. "I've lost my leg," said he. "By God, so you have," replied the Duke of Wellington, who consistently raised sangfroid into an art of such excellence it wasn't equaled until Oscar Wilde's last words, "Either that wall-paper goes, or I do."
Jefe - Spanish again. It means leader, or boss.
Whizzin' - American slang, "to whiz", or "take a whiz" is to pee. While females can do this, it is generally a descriptive verb reserved for the male.
Whizzin' on the fencepost - a male marking his territory.
Now, the quotes. The song is called, "The Cruel War". It is known in the area and the period of the American Civil War, and it was brought to America by the British Army serving in the French and Indian War/Seven Years War and the War of American Independence. I do not have documentation that it was a song sung or known by either or both sides, but I do know that they did sing to one another across the battle lines on occasion, and they did share some songs in common, most notably, "All Quiet Along the Potomac.) This version is taken from "Rise Up Singing".
The Cruel War
The cruel war is raging and Johnny has to fight
I want to be with him from morning til night
I want to be with him; it grieves my heart so
O let me go with you: No, my love no
I'll go to your Captain, get down upon my knees
10,000 gold guineas I'd give for your release
10,000 gold guineas; it grieves my heart so
Won't you let me go with you? No, my love, no
Tomorrow is Sunday and Monday is the day
Your Captain calls for you and you must obey
Your Captain calls for you; it grieves my heart so
Won't you let me go with you? No, my love, no
Your waist is too slender, your fingers are too small
Your cheeks are too rosy to face the cannonball
Your cheeks are too rosy; it grieves my heart so
Won't you let me go with you? No, my love, no
Johnny, O Johnny, I think you are unkind
I love you far better than all other mankind
I love you far better than tongue can express
Won't you let me go with you? Yes, my love, yes.
The Shakespeare is from "Mid-Summer Night's Dream", to keep with the Hipployta and Theseus theme. (Only barely did I resist sending Ezra down that banister with one foot bare.)
Toward the end of the play, just before Bottom and the other rustics put on the sad, tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisbe, Hippolyta and Theseus are out huntin' and otherwise sparkin'. She speaks thusly:
"I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,
When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear
With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear
Such gallant chiding; for, besides the groves,
The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seem all one mutual cry: I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.
The reason why Ezra is laughing is because he is remembering the answer of Theseus:
My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd, and dew-lapt like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but matcht in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla'd to, nor cheer'd with horn,
In Crete, Sparta, nor in Thessaly:
Judge when you hear. - But, soft! What nymphs are these?
Ezra's answer is a truncating of the exit speech of Theseus:
The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:-
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy-time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatcht.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
The heavy gait of night. - Sweet friends, to bed. -
Now, if you've made it to the end of this, I hope you've been both enlightened and amused. But, before you jump all over me and mine editor for being deliberately obscure, let me remind you that this is an Ezra story. This is how an educated gentleman spoke, thought, and courted - just imagine his frustration and loneliness as you read this, if this specialized vocabulary left you thinking, "Huh?", when you read it.
While you're at it, you might also imagine the frustration of his friends who can't understand what he's saying when they absolutely KNOW it's something very revealing and important.