in Doctor Thorne

Chapter 22 – Sir Roger is Unseated

halcyon years

The word “halcyon” comes from an ancient myth in which a woman named Alcyone, at the death of her husband Ceyx at sea, throws herself into the ocean out of grief, at which point the gods, taking pity on them both, change them into sea birds.  The sea bird which takes her name, the halcyon, nests on the shores, and Aeolus, the king of the winds, compassionately calms the winds during the birds’ nesting periods, giving rise to the phrase “halcyon days.”  The word “halcyon” itself has come to mean “calm” or “restful.”  [JM 2005]

Sources:  OED.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.



Latin quid “what” + nunc “now”.  Someone who is always asking, “What now?” and thus a newsmonger or gossip.  Used to describe Mr. Romer and his special skills.  [JM 2005]

Sources:  OED.


the cup ravished from his lips

See the gloss in the commentary for Chapter 24 of Barchester Towers.  The cup in this instance is Sir Roger’s newly-won seat in the Parliament, so quickly snatched away from him.  [JM 2005]