Notes and Glossary: The Open Question by Elizabeth Robins

Notes and Glossary


by Elizabeth Robins


Copy text used for source (and comments on other editions consulted, press reviews printed with the English edition)
Additional contemporary accounts (with information related to the disclosure of Robins's pseudonym and Zanesville feature article)
Photographs of the Stone Academy in Zanesville, Ohio

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For this text:

Robins, Elizabeth. The Open Question: A Tale of Two Temperaments. New York and London: Harper Brothers, 1899. Chapter ??? available at: <URL>. Hypertext edition edited by Joanne E. Gates at The Elizabeth Robins Web, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville AL [Retrieval Date]. Pagination corresponds to the published text.


The glossary is in progress. Send any suggestions for words or phrases that need glossing to: Joanne E. Gates

page 20: Aurora Leigh . Long epic poem in blank verse by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Aurora gives up romance with her cousin to pursue her reform work, but marries him in later life.

page 120: crack of doom. Macbeth, when he sees the procession of Kings in Act 4, scene 1, exclaims: "What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?"

page 134: canon fixed against self-abandonment. The second sentence of Hamlet's first soliloquy, I, ii, reads: "Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd / His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!"

page 152: vaster age of the world. Possibly another reference to Tennyson. See p. 327, below.

page 163: Wizard of the North. Presumably, Sir Walter Scott.

page 213 sound and fury. Macbeth's last soliloquy: "It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing."

page 298: "Off with your head!" An echo of Shakespeare's Richard III, as adapted by Colley Cibber, where Richard, Duke of Gloucester surprises Hastings with the line "Off with his head!" (III, iv). "So much for Buckingham" is from Colley Cibber's popular stage version of Richard III, which E. R. indicated in diary entries that she was familiar with by altering the line "Richard's himself again" to "Elizabeth's herself again."

page 318: shreds and patches. "A king of shreds and patches" is spoken by Hamlet in III, iv, (to Gertrude) in derision of Claudius. Just at this time, the ghost enters. E. R. is presumed to have acted the Hamlet role in this scene as part of her class's graduation exercise from the Putnam Female Seminary.

page 327: "when we have worked the ape and tiger out": cf. Tennyson's In Memoriam, section CXVIII:

Contemplate all this work of Time,
The giant labouring in his youth;
Nor dream of human love and truth,
As dying Nature's earth and lime;

But trust that those we call the dead
Are breathers of an ampler day
For ever nobler ends. They say,
The solid earth whereon we tread

In tracts of fluent heat began,
And grew to seeming-random forms,
The seeming prey of cyclic storms,
Till at the last arose the man;

Who throve and branch'd from clime to clime,
The herald of a higher race,
And of himself in higher place,
If so he type this work of time

Within himself, from more to more;
Or, crown'd with attributes of woe
Like glories, move his course, and show
That life is not as idle ore,

But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipt in baths of hissing tears,
And batter'd with the shocks of doom

To shape and use. Arise and fly
The reeling Faun, the sensual feast;
Move upward, working out the beast,
And let the ape and tiger die.

page 328 mens sana in corpore sano Latin,

page 329 laissez aller

page 339 the Genevan confessing: 'Ma naissance fut le premier de mes malheurs.'

page 397 But let's come to Hecuba. A reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet deflect's Polonius's criticism that the player speech is "too long" and tells the player, "Say on, come to Hecuba." After the player king's emotional speech on the death of Hecuba, Hamlet begins the soliloquy that ends Act 2, scene 2:

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous, that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit,
That, from her working, all his visage wann'd;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have?

page 427 Unpack the heart with words cf. Hamlet, Act Two, scene two:

This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murthered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must like a whore unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A scullion.

page 505. Behold, thou art fair, my love . . . . cf. Song of Solomon 4:1, 3:

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair;
thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks:
thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
. . . . . . . . .
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet--

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Available since September 1998