Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The very model


I am the very model of a modern Major-General
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical

I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotepotenuse

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous

I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore

And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinapinafore

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus's uniform
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin"
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat"

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee

You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a gee
You'll say a better Major-General had never sat a sat a gee

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General

But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General


Gilbert and Sullivan
Pirates of Penzance

4 comments:

Fr Odhran-Mary TFSH said...

Thanks, Father, I needed that.

Warwickensis said...

I never understood why the binomial theorem is mentioned and especially in the sense that there is a lot to say about it.

It's not the most spectacular of mathematical results.

Saying that, it does use "!" rather a lot.

John said...

I like the picture, I think Rowan can surely get a job as a department store Santa after his communion blows up.

John A. Hollister said...

While very clever, and also very ejoyable, especially in highlighting Williams' pretensions to scholarship in all areas (vide his recent comments about the English legal system), in one rather serious sense Fr. Hart's comparison of Gilbert's "Modern Major General" to Rowan Williams is incorrect.

Today, only those odd souls who attend to the social and political history of England during the last half of the 19th Century are likely to recogize the once-topical references with which Gilbert's librettos are chock full. Often, as with the General, these are in the form of very pointed parody.

What the Modern Major General was mocking were the army reforms of Sir Garnet Wolsey. While many of these were once controversial, especially to the Colonel Blimps, they brought lasting improvements by professionalizing the military (such as abolishing the purchase and sale of officers' commissions. These improvements bore important fruit in WWI and even to some extent in WWII.

Rowan Williams, on the other hand,
is in the position some of those Blimps wished they could be: undoing the solid element and replacing them with fluff. That is, Williams seeks to destroy whatever little is left of the independence, integrity, and professionalism of the Church of England in the service of better pandering to the lies and deceptions of the secular world.

John A. Hollister+