I’m reading The Greedy Queen by Annie Gray. The author quotes a court lady’s diary entry about the unfailing daily routine at Queen Victoria’s court, such as breakfast at a quarter to ten, tea at five thirty, and dinner at nine. Then the court lady says:

This routine never varies by a hair’s breadth, as soon a revolution as to drive in the morning and walk after lunch, and boiled beef on Thursday and ‘mehlspeise mit ananas’ on Friday recur with unfailing regularity.

The definition of “as soon as” given by the dictionaries doesn’t seem to fit this context and I’m confused about what “as soon a revolution as to” means. Is she saying that “to drive in the morning and walk after lunch, and boiled beef on Thursday and mehlspeise mit ananas on Friday” are also routines that occur regularly, or quite the contrary, that they seldom do those things?

1 Answer 1


It's very stylised phrasing, which would be tricky to parse even for most native speakers. The initial statement ending in breadth can stand alone as a sentence anyway, as can the independent statement made after Thursday, so the structure of the "difficult" part is...

as soon a revolution
= it is more likely that there would be a revolution

as to
= that [any]one should
(do either of the things specified)

It's contextually obvious that the done thing was to go walking in the morning and go driving after lunch. The writer is suggesting that to reverse the timing of these activities would be as unlikely / disruptive as a major social upheaval across the nation.

As well as always walking and driving at appropriate times, it seems Victoria regularly had boiled beef on Thursdays and ‘mehlspeise mit ananas’ on Fridays. We're not explicitly told how she'd react if the boiled beef were to be served on, say, Tuesday, instead of the appointed day, but the implication is that she'd be astonished/perturbed by any such break in her rigorous routine.

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