Chapter 35: 349-361
A gossip or busybody; an ever-curious questioner; newsmonger
certain Egyptian Deity
Bedlam ... Salpêtriére
Two early mental asylums, both quite horrific. The suggestion, of course, is that readers of novels like Mason & Dixon will drive themselves crazy by indulging in such fantasies.
Invisible Snake Trick
Is there really something called the Invisible Snake Trick, or is this pure joshing (à la Get Smart: "the old Invisible Snake Trick, eh?")? Curiously, Aunt Euphrenia, hoisting an oboe, follows this witty braggadocio by playing “a sinuous Air full of exotick sharps and flats” – perhaps this “sinuous Air” is, itself, the Invisible Snake. And the Trick? Note that once she starts playing, “The Company redeploy themselves in the direction of Comfort” – it’s as if she’s charmed her challengers into wandering away from her and the dispute.
Note that the novel frequently mentions invisible forces.
The Stamp Act Crisis
It's strange to note that the Stamp Act wasn't passed until March 22, 1765. The Rev is setting the mood of the times but this is really only the dissatisfaction waiting for a trigger.
a Conveyance, wherein the inside is quite noticeably larger than the outside
I wonder if this a reference to Dr. Who: "The TARDIS is a time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. The name is an acronym of Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space. A product of Time Lord technology, a properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and space. The interior of a TARDIS is much larger than its exterior, which can blend in with its surroundings through the ship's chameleon circuit" (Wikipedia). See also p. 412
Note to, the OED definition of tardis, which includes usage samples dating back to 1969:
- Etymology: [< TARDIS (acronym < Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), the name in the science-fiction BBC television series Doctor Who (first broadcast in 1963) of a time machine outwardly resembling a police telephone box, yet inwardly much larger.]
- Definition: In allusive use. Something resembling or likened to Doctor Who's TARDIS; spec.: (a) a thing which has a larger capacity than its outward appearance suggests; a building, etc., that is larger on the inside than it appears from the outside; (b) a thing seemingly from another time (past or future).
Note, too, that this is one in a series of supposed "paradoxes" that Reverend Wicks Cherrycoke presents to his audience, including the Möbius smoke ring (ch. 34, p. 345). This same joke (?) is presented again regarding a cabin (ch. 41, p. 412). Watch to see the audiences' reaction to these paradoxes. Are they growing progressively more tolerant of Wick's tall-tales?
game of All-Fours
Card game, somewhat related to Whist; also known as “seven-up” or “old-sledge.” At the time of Mason & Dixon, played for money. See this humorous article by Mark Twain: Science vs. Luck.
The other side of the Allegheny river
cap of white Lawn
White lawn is a fabric. It can still be purchased by the yard.
introduce himself in a mucilaginous voice
mucilaginous - I think the meaning here is "slimy" with the Reverend Wicks Cherrycoke implying that Mr. Edgewise is a slime ball, hitting on these young, defenseless ladies--right in front of his wife, the cad... Is Wicks' portrayal of Mr. Edgewise tainted his gambling losses to Edgewise? Wicks' contrasting portraits of a sinful Edgewise vs. a saintly pair of Redzingers provides some humor in this chapter.
Dutch for "exactly." Seems to be a verbal tick on the part of Frau Luise Redzinger.
followers of Pietism, "a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late-17th century to the mid-18th century. It proved to be very influential throughout Protestantism and Anabaptism, inspiring not only Anglican priest John Wesley to begin the Methodist movement, but also Alexander Mack to begin the Brethren movement. The Pietist movement combined the Lutheran emphasis on Biblical doctrine with the Reformed, and especially Puritan, emphasis on individual piety, and a vigorous Christian life" -- Wikipedia
being between preferments
I believe that preferments, here, refers to claims (to, for example, a monetary payment or land holding). See also, interprebendary later on this page.
“Not in the dictionary, prebendary is described as someone who receives a stipend from a cathedral or collegiate church in England. Perhaps Wicks used this word because he was receiving stipends from more than one church” – Toby Levy’s Mason & Dixon Three Pages a Day
Note that "inter" could also mean "between" (rather than "among" or "in the midst of"), in which case this term would suggest that Wicks is inbetween payments.
What does this mean: "... after promising a Certain Deity that I would refrain" [from using the term "interprebendary"]?
Pot calling the kettle black?
Checking out the neighbors' putz--Moravian/Pennsylvanian Dutch Nativity scenes, often quite elaborate. Described well by the East Hills Moravian Church.
Jehu son of Nimshi
Reference to 2 Kings 9:20, wherein Jehu--a king of Israel--drives a chariot to battle with fury: "So the watchman reported, saying, 'He went up to them and is not coming back; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously!'" A couple of on-line dictionaries categorize this as a colloquial phrase.
Tales of the Pit
Funny phrase; is it a reference to something specific outside the text?
...shall this Machine come abruptly to a Stop...only the Machine, fading as we stand, and a Prairie of desperate Immensity...
The passage recalls the closing scene of Vineland, in which Prairie Wheeler is lying on a meadow, waiting for Brock Vond to find her. He doesn't come though.
Again (following up on comments from page 354, above), I wonder, too, if there is some sly reference ("only the machine, fading as we stand") to Dr. Who, in which the time machine/spacecraft TARDIS "can blend in with its surroundings through the ship's chameleon circuit" (Wikipedia).
Latitudes and Departures
1: 5-11, 2: 12-13, 3: 14-29, 4: 30-41, 5: 42-46, 6: 47-57, 7: 58-76, 8: 77-86, 9: 87-93, 10: 94-104, 11: 105-115, 12: 116-124, 13: 125-145, 14: 146-157, 15: 158-166, 16: 167-174, 17: 175-182, 18: 183-189, 19: 190-198, 20: 199-206, 21: 207-214, 22: 215-227, 23: 228-237, 24: 238-245, 25: 245-253
26: 257-265, 27: 266-274, 28: 275-288, 29: 289-295, 30: 296-301, 31: 302-314, 32: 315-326, 33: 327-340, 34: 341-348, 35: 349-361, 36: 362-370, 37: 371-381, 38: 382-390, 39: 391-398, 40: 399-409, 41: 410-421, 42: 422-435, 43: 436-439, 44: 440-447, 45: 448-451, 46: 452-459, 47: 460-465, 48: 466-475, 49: 476-483, 50: 484-490, 51: 491-498, 52: 499-510, 53: 511-524, 54: 525-541, 55: 542-553, 56: 554-561, 57: 562-569, 58: 570-574, 59: 575-584, 60: 585-596, 61: 597-607, 62: 608-617, 63: 618-622, 64: 623-628, 65: 629-632, 66: 633-645, 67: 646-657, 68: 658-664, 69: 665-677, 70: 678-686, 71: 687-693, 72: 694-705, 73: 706-713