The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘the Grand Panjandrum’

Any Nosegays, You Blockhead?

January 27, 2014 | by

Severin Roesen, Still Life—Flowers in a Basket, ca. 1850s.

Severin Roesen, Still Life—Flowers in a Basket, ca. 1850s.

The British dramatist Samuel Foote was born today in 1720. Foote was a playwright in the snickering, rabble-rousing tradition—a dry wit who was always getting himself into trouble. He performed plays without licensing them, basically the eighteenth-century equivalent of smuggling your camcorder into a movie theater; he went riding and was thrown from his horse, resulting in the loss of one of his legs; he spent some time in debtors’ prison; he’s rumored to have made passes at a footman or two in his day; and much of his writing features withering, thinly veiled caricatures of wealthy people, which really pissed off those wealthy people, to say nothing of their wealthy coteries. Most important, Foote is responsible for having coined the phrase “the Grand Panjandrum,” as refined a piece of nonsense as I can remember having heard. (He did it off the cuff, having faltered in the recitation of a text he’d “memorized.”)

What better way to pay tribute to the man than with an excerpt? Two centuries before Spiro Agnew’s “nattering nabobs,” there was simply The Nabob, Foote’s 1772 comedy about an aristocrat newly returned to London from the Orient. You could dip into the play anywhere and come up with comic gold; its brand of buffoonery is never out of fashion. Read More »

NO COMMENTS