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A Wonderland Miscellany


Dear Children,

At Christmas-time a few grave words are not quite out of place, I hope, even at the end of a book of nonsense--and I want to take this opportunity of thanking the thousands of children who have read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, for the kindly interest they have taken in my little dream-child.

The thought of the many English firesides where happy faces have smiled her a welcome, and of the many English children to whom she has brought an hour of (I trust) innocent amusement, is one of the brightest and pleasantest thoughts of my life. I have a host of young friends already, whose names and faces I know--but I cannot help feeling as if, through `Alice's Adventures' I had made friends with any mmany other dear children, whose faces I shall never see.

To all my little friends, known and unknown, I wish with all my heart, `A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year'. May God bless you, dear children, and make each Christmas-tide, as it comes round to you, more bright and beautiful than the last--bright with the presence of that unseen Friend, who once on earth blessed little children--and beautiful with memories of a loving life, which has sought and found the truest kind of happiness, the only kind that is really worth the having, the happiness of making others happy too!

Your affectionate Friend,

                                 LEWIS   CARROLL

December 25, 1871


`Who will Riddle me the How and the Why?'

So questions one of England's sweetest singers. The `How?' has already been told, after a fashion, in the verses prefixed to Alice in Wonderland; and some other memories of that happy summer day are set down, for those who care to see them, in this little book--the germ that was to grow into the published volume. But the `Why?' cannot, and need not, be put into words. Those for whom a child's mind is a sealed book, and who see no divinity in a child's smile, would read such words in vain: while for any one that has ever loved one true child, no words are needed. For he will have known the awe that falls on one in the presence of a spirit fresh from GOD's hands, on whom no shadow of sin, and but the outermost fringe of the shadow of sorrow, has yet fallen: he will have felt the bitter contrast between the haunting selfishness that spoils his best deeds and the life that is but an overflowing love--for I think a child's first attitude to the world is a simple love for all living things: and he will have learned that the best work a man can do is when he works for love's sake only, with no thought of name, or gain, or earthly reward. No deed of ours, I suppose, on this side the grave, is really unselfish: yet if one can put forth all one's powers in a task where nothing of reward is hoped for but a little child's whispered thanks, and the airy touch of a little child's pure lips, one seems to come somewhere near to this.

There was no idea of publication in my mind when I wrote this little book: that was wholly an afterthought, pressed on me by the `perhaps too partial friends' who always have to bear the blame when a writer rushes into print: and I can truly say that no praise of theirs has ever given me one hundredth part of the pleasure it has been to think of the sick children in hospitals (where it has been a delight to me to send copies) forgetting, for a few bright hours, their pain and weariness--perhaps thinking lovingly of the unknown writer of the tale--perhaps even putting up a childish prayer (and oh, how much it needs!) for one who can but dimly hope to stand, some day, not quite out of sight of those pure young faces, before the great white throne. `I am very sure,' writes a lady-visitor at a Home for Sick Children, `that there will be many loving earnest prayers for you on Easter morning from the children.'

I would like to quote further from her letters, as embodying a suggestion that may perhaps thus come to the notice of some one able and willing to carry it out.

`I want you to send me one of your Easter Greetings for a very dear child who is dying at our Home. She is just fading away, and `Alice' had brightened some of the weary hours in her illness, and I know that letter would be such a delight to her--especially if you would put `Minnie' at the top, and she could know you had sent it for her. She knows you, and would so value it. . . . She suffers so much that I long for what I know would so please her.'

. . . `Thank you very much for sending me the letter, and for writing Minnie's name. . . . I am quite sure that all these children will say a loving prayer for the "Alice-man" on Easter Day: and I am sure the letter will help the little ones to the real Easter joy. How I do wish that you, who have won the hearts and confidence of so many children, would do for them what is so very near my heart, and yet what no one will do, viz. write a book for children about GOD and themselves, which is not goody, and which begins at the right end, about religion, to make them see what it really is. I get quite miserable very often over the children I come across: hardly any of them have an idea of really knowing that GOD loves them, or of loving and confiding in Him. They will love and trust me, and be sure that I want them to be happy, and will not let them suffer more than is necessary: but as for going to Him in the same way, they would never think of it. They are dreadfully afraid of Him, if they think of Him at all, which they generally only do when they have been naughty, and they look on all connected with Him as very grave and dull: and, when they are full of fun and thoroughly happy, I am sure they unconsciously hope He is not looking. I am sure I don't wonder they think of Him in this way, for people never talk of Him in connection with what makes their little lives the brightest. If they are naughty, people put on solemn faces, and say He is very angry or shocked, or something which frightens them: and, for the rest, He is talked about only in a way that makes them think of church and having to be quiet. As for being taught that all Joy and all Gladness and Brightness is his Joy--that He is wearying for them to be happy, and is not hard and stern, but always doing things to make their days brighter, and caring for them so tenderly, and wanting them to run to Him with all their little joys and sorrows, they are not taught that. I do so long to make them trust Him as they trust us, to feel that He will `take their part' as they do with us in their little woes, and to go to Him in their plays and enjoyments and not only when they say their prayers. I was quite grateful to one little dot, a short time ago, who said to his mother `when I am in bed, I put out my hand to see if I can feel JESUS and my angel. I thought perhaps in the dark they'd touch me, but they never have yet.' I do so want them to want to go to Him, and to feel how, if He is there, it must be happy.'

Let me add--for I feel I have drifted into far too serious a vein for a preface to a fairy-tale--the deliciously naive remark of a very dear child-friend, whom I asked, after an acquaintance of two or three days, if she had read `Alice' and the `Looking-Glass'. `Oh yes,' she replied readily, `I've read both of them! And I think' (this more slowly and thoughtfully) `I think "Through the Looking-Glass" is more stupid than "Alice's Adventures". Don't you think so?' But this was a question I felt it would be hardly discreet for me to enter upon.

LEWIS CARROLL December, 1886


Dear Child,

Please to fancy, if you can, that you are reading a real letter, from a real friend whom you have seen, and whose voice you can seem to yourself to hear wishing you, as I do now with all my heart, a happy Easter.

Do you know that delicious dreamy feeling when one first wakes on a summer morning, with the twitter of birds in the air, and the fresh breeze coming in at the open window--when, lying lazily with eyes half shut, one sees as in a dream green boughs waving, or waters rippling in a golden light? It is a pleasure very near to sadness, bringing tears to one's eyes like a beautiful picture or poem. And is not that a Mother's sweet voice that summons you to rise? To rise and forget, in the bright sunlight, the ugly dreams that frightened you so when all was dark--to rise and enjoy another happy day, first kneeling to thank that unseen Friend, who sends you the beautiful sun?

Are these strange words from a writer of such tales as `Alice'? And is this a strange letter to find in a book of nonsense? It may be so. Some perhaps may blame me for thus mixing together things grave and gay; others may smile and think it odd that any one should speak of solemn things at all, except in church and on a Sunday: but I think--nay, I am sure--that some children will read this gently and lovingly, and in the spirit in which I have written it.

For I do not believe God means us thus to divide life into two halves--to wear a grave face on Sunday, and to think it out-of-place to even so much as mention Him on a week-day. Do you think He cares to see only kneeling figures, and to hear only tones of prayer--and that He does not also love to see the lambs leaping in the sunlight, and to hear the merry voices of the children, as they roll among the hay? Surely their innocent laughter is as sweet in His ears as the grandest anthem that ever rolled up from the `dim religious light' of some solemn cathedral?

And if I have written anything to add to those stores of innocent and healthy amusement that are laid up in the books for the children I love so well, it is surely something I may hope to look back upon without shame and sorrow (as how much of life must then be recalled!) when my turn comes to walk through the valley of shadows.

This Easter sun will rise on you, dear child, feeling your `life in every limb', and eager to rush out into the fresh morning air--and many an Easter-day will come and go, before it finds you feeble and gray-headed, creeping wearily out to bask once more in the sunlight--but it is good, even now, to think sometimes of that great morning when the `Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings.'

Surely your gladness need not be the less for the thought that you will one day see a brighter dawn than this--when lovelier sights will meet your eyes than any waving trees or rippling waters--when angel-hands shall undraw your curtains, and sweeter tones than every loving Mother breathed shall wake you to a new and glorious day--and when all the sadness, and the sin, that darkened life on this little earth, shall be forgotten like the dreams of a night that is past!

Your affectionate friend,
                                                   LEWIS   CARROLL



THEY were indeed a curious looking party that assembled on the bank--the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them--all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable. The first question of course was, how to get dry: they had a consultation about this, and Alice hardly felt at all surprised at finding herself talking familiarly with the birds, as if she had known them all her life. Indeed, she had quite a long argument with the Lory, who at last turned sulky, and would only say `I am older than you, and must know best,' and this Alice would not admit without knowing how old the Lory was, and as the Lory positively refused to tell its age, there was nothing more to be said.

At last the mouse, who seemed to have some authority among them, called out `sit down, all of you, and attend to me! I'll soon make you dry enough!' They all sat down at once, shivering, in a large ring, Alice in the middle, with her eyes anxiously fixed on the mouse, for she felt sure she would catch a bad cold if she did not get dry very soon.

`Ahem!' said the mouse, with a self-important air, `are you all ready? This is the driest thing I know. Silence all round, if you please!

`William the Conqueror, whose cause was favoured by the pope, was soon submitted to by the English, who wanted leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria--'

`Ugh!' said the Lory with a shiver.

`I beg your pardon?' said the mouse, frowning, but very politely, `did you speak?'

`Not I!' said the Lory hastily.

`I thought you did,' said the mouse, `I proceed. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable to go with Edgar Atheling to meet William and offer him the crown. William's conduct was at first moderate--how are you getting on now, dear?' said the mouse, turning to Alice as it spoke.

`As wet as ever,' said poor Alice, `it doesn't seem to dry me at all.'

`In that case,' said the Dodo solemnly, rising to his feet, `I move that the meeting adjourn, for the immediate adoption of more energetic remedies--'

`Speak English!' said the Duck, `I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!' And the Duck quacked a comfortable laugh to itself. Some of the other birds tittered audibly.

`I only meant to say,' said the Dodo in a rather offended tone, `that I know of a house near here, where we could get the young lady and the rest of the party dried, and then we could listen comfortably to the story which I think you were good enough to promise to tell us,' bowing gravely to the mouse.

The mouse made no objection to this, and the whole party moved along the river bank, (for the pool had by this time begun to flow out of the hall, and the edge of it was fringed with rushes and forget-me-nots,) in a slow procession, the Dodo leading the way. After a time the Dodo became impatient, and, leaving the Duck to bring up the rest of the party, moved on at a quicker pace with Alice, the Lory, and the Eaglet, and soon brought them to a little cottage, and there they sat snugly by the fire, wrapped up in blankets, until the rest of the party had arrived, and they were all dry again.

Then they all sat down again in a large ring on the bank, and begged the mouse to begin his story.

`Mine is a long and a sad tale!' said the mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.

`It is a long tail, certainly,' said Alice, looking down with wonder at the mouse's tail, which was coiled nearly all round the party, `but why do you call it sad?' and she went on puzzling about this as the mouse went on speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:

                       "Fury said to
                          a mouse, That
                            he met in the
                             house, `Let
                               us both go
                                 to law: I
                                   will prose-
                                    cute you.
                                   Come, I'll
                                 take no de-
                               nial; We
                            must have
                            a trial:
                           For really
                          this morn-
                        ing I've
                        to do.'
                          Said the
                           mouse to
                            the cur,
                             `Such a
                               trial, dear
                                Sir, With
                                 no jury
                                  or judge,
                                     be wast-
                                                ing our
                                          `I'll be
                                      I'll be
                                       you to

`You are not attending!' said the mouse to Alice severely, `what are you thinking of?'

`I beg your pardon,' said Alice very humbly, `you had got to the fifth bend, I think?'

`I had not!' cried the mouse, sharply and very angrily.

`A knot!' said Alice, always ready to make herself useful, and looking anxiously about her, `oh, do let me help to undo it!'

`I shall do nothing of the sort!' said the mouse, getting up and walking away from the party, `you insult me by talking such nonsense!'

`I didn't mean it!' pleaded poor Alice, `but you're so easily offended, you know.'

The mouse only growled in reply.

`Please come back and finish your story!' Alice called after it, and the others all joined in chorus `yes, please do!' but the mouse only shook its ears, and walked quickly away, and was soon out of sight.

`What a pity it wouldn't stay!' sighed the Lory, and an old Crab took the opportunity of saying to its daughter `Ah, my dear! let this be a lesson to you never to lose your temper!' `Hold your tongue, Ma!' said the young Crab, a little snappishly, `you're enough to try the patience of an oyster!'

`I wish I had our Dinah here, I know I do!' said Alice aloud, addressing no one in particular, `she'd soon fetch it back!'

`And who is Dinah, if I might venture to ask the question?' said the Lory.

Alice replied eagerly, for she was always ready to talk about her pet, `Dinah's our cat. And she's such a capital one for catching mice, you can't think! And oh! I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she'll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!'

This answer caused a remarkable sensation among the party; some of the birds hurried off at once; one old magpie began wrapping itself up very carefully, remarking `I really must be getting home: the night air does not suit my throat,' and a canary called out in a trembling voice to its children `come away from her, my dears, she's no fit company for you!' On various pretexts, they all moved off, and Alice was soon left alone.

She sat for some while sorrowful and silent, but she was not long before she recovered her spirits, and began talking to herself again as usual: `I do wish some of them had stayed a little longer! and I was getting to be such friends with them--really the Lory and I were almost like sisters! and so was that dear little Eaglet! And then the Duck and the Dodo! How nicely the Duck sang to us as we came along through the water: and if the Dodo hadn't known the way to that nice little cottage, I don't know when we should have got dry again--' and there is no knowing how long she might have prattled on in this way, if she had not suddenly caught the sound of pattering feet.

It was the white rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about it as it went, as if it had lost something, and she heard it muttering to itself `the Marchioness! the Marchioness! oh my dear paws! oh my fur and whiskers! She'll have me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where can I have dropped them, I wonder?' Alice guessed in a moment that it was looking for the nosegay and the pair of white kid gloves, and she began hunting for them, but they were now nowhere to be seen--everything seemed to have changed since her swim in the pool, and her walk along the river-bank with its fringe of rushes and forget-me-nots, and the glass table and the little door had vanished.

Soon the rabbit noticed Alice, as she stood looking curiously about her, and at once said in a quick angry tone, `Why, Mary Ann! what are you doing out here? Go home this moment, and look on my dressing-table for my gloves and nosegay, and fetch them here, as quick as you can run, do you hear?' and Alice was so much frightened that she ran off at once, without saying a word, in the direction which the rabbit had pointed out.

She soon found herself in front of a neat little house, on the door of which was a bright brass plate with the name W. Rabbit, Esq. She went in, and hurried upstairs, for fear she should meet the real Mary Ann and be turned out of the house before she had found the gloves: she knew that one pair had been lost in the hall, `but of course,' thought Alice, `it has plenty more of them in its house. How queer it seems to be going messages for a rabbit! I suppose Dinah'll be sending me messages next!' And she began fancying the sort of things that would happen. `Miss Alice! come here directly and get ready for your walk!' `Coming in a minute, nurse! but I've got to watch this mousehole till Dinah comes back, and see that the mouse doesn't get out--' `only I don't think,' Alice went on, `that they'd let Dinah stop in the house, if it began ordering people about like that!'

By this time she had found her way into a tidy little room, with a table in the window on which was a looking-glass and, (as Alice had hoped), two or three pairs of tiny white kid gloves. She took up a pair of gloves, and was just going to leave the room, when her eye fell upon a little bottle that stood near the looking-glass: there was no label on it this time with the words `drink me', but nevertheless she uncorked it and put it to her lips: `I know something interesting is sure to happen,' she said to herself, `whenever I eat or drink anything so I'll see what this bottle does. I do hope it'll make me grow larger, for I'm quite tired of being such a tiny little thing!'

It did so indeed, and much sooner than she expected; before she had drunk half the bottle, she found her head pressing against the ceiling, and she stooped to save her neck from being broken, and hastily put down the bottle, saying to herself `that's quite enough--I hope I sha'n't grow any more--I wish I hadn't drunk so much!'

Alas! it was too late: she went on growing and growing, and very soon had to kneel down: in another minute there was not room even for this, and she tried the effect of lying down, with one elbow against the door, and the other arm curled round her head. Still she went on growing, and as a last resource she put one arm out of the window, and one foot up the chimney, and said to herself `now I can do no more--what will become of me?'

Luckily for Alice, the little magic bottle had now had its full effect, and she grew no larger: still it was very uncomfortable, and as there seemed to be no sort of chance of ever getting out of the room again, no wonder she felt unhappy. `It was much pleasanter at home,' thought poor Alice, `when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits--I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole, and yet, and yet--it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life I do wonder what can have happened to me! When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that sort of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one! There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought! and when I grow up I'll write one--but I'm grown up now' said she in a sorrowful tone, `at least there's no room to grow up any more here.'

`But then,' thought Alice, `shall I never get any older than I am now? That'll be a comfort, one way--never to be an old woman--but then--always to have lessons to learn! Oh, I shouldn't like that!'

`Oh, you foolish Alice!' she said again, `how can you learn lessons in here? Why, there's hardly room for you, and no room at all for any lesson-books!'

And so she went on, taking first one side, and then the other, and making quite a conversation of it altogether, but after a few minutes she heard a voice outside, which made her stop to listen.

`Mary Ann! Mary Ann!' said the voice, `fetch me my gloves this moment!' Then came a little pattering of feet on the stairs: Alice knew it was the rabbit coming to look for her, and she trembled till she shook the house, quite forgetting that she was now about a thousand times as large as the rabbit, and had no reason to be afraid of it. Presently the rabbit came to the door, and tried to open it, but as it opened inwards and Alice's elbow was against it, the attempt proved a failure. Alice heard it say to itself `then I'll go round and get in at the window.'

`That you wo'n't!' thought Alice, and, after waiting till she fancied she heard the rabbit just under the window, she suddenly spread out her hand, and made a snatch in the air. She did not get hold of anything, but she heard a little shriek and a fall and a crash of breaking glass, from which she concluded that it was just possible it had fallen into a cucumber-frame; or something of the sort.

Next came an angry voice--the rabbit's--`Pat, Pat! where are you?' And then a voice she had never heard before, `shure then I'm here! digging for apples, anyway, yer honour!'

`Digging for apples indeed!' said the rabbit angrily, `here, come and help me out of this!'--Sound of more breaking glass.

`Now, tell me, Pat, what is that coming out of the window?'

`Shure it's an arm, yer honour!' (He pronounced it "arrum".)

`An arm, you goose? Who ever saw an arm that size? Why, it fills the whole window, don't you see?'

`Shure, it does, yer honour, but it's an arm for all that.'

`Well, it's no business there: go and take it away!'

There was a long silence after this, and Alice could only hear whispers now and then, such as `shure I don't like it, yer honour, at all at all!' `do as I tell you, you coward!' and at last she spread out her hand again and made another snatch in the air. This time there were two little shrieks, and more breaking glass--`what a number of cucumber-frames there must be!' thought Alice, `I wonder what they'll do next! As for pulling me out of the window I only wish they could! I'm sure I don't want to stop in here any longer!'

She waited for some time without hearing anything more. At last came a rumbling of little cart-wheels, and the sound of a good many voices all talking together: she made out the words `where's the other ladder?--why, I hadn't to bring but one, Bill's got the other--here, put 'em up at this corner--no, tie 'em together first--they don't reach high enough yet--oh, they'll do well enough, don't be particular--here, Bill! catch hold of this rope--will the roof bear?--mind that loose slate--oh, it's coming down! heads below!--' (a loud crash) `now, who did that?--it was Bill, I fancy--who's to go down the chimney?--nay, I sha'n't! you do it!--that I won't then--Bill's got to go down--here, Bill! the master says you've to go down the chimney!'

`Oh, so Bill's got to come down the chimney, has he?' said Alice to herself, `why, they seem to put everything upon Bill! I wouldn't be in Bill's place for a good deal: the fireplace is a pretty tight one, but I think I can kick a little!'

She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could, and waited till she heard a little animal (she couldn't guess what sort it was) scratching and scrambling in the chimney close above her: then, saying to herself `this is Bill,' she gave one, sharp kick, and waited again to see what would happen next.

The first thing was a general chorus of `there goes Bill!' then the rabbit's voice alone `catch him, you by the hedge!' then silence, and then another confusion of voices, `how was it, old fellow? what happened to you? tell us all about it.'

Last came a little feeble squeaking voice, (`that's Bill' thought Alice,) which said `well, I hardly know--I'm all of a fluster myself--something comes at me like a Jack-in-the-box, and the next minute up I goes like a rocket!' `And so you did, old fellow!' said the other voices.

`We must burn the house down!' said the voice of the rabbit, and Alice called out as loud as she could, `if you do, I'll set Dinah at you!' This caused silence again, and while Alice was thinking `but how can I get Dinah here?' she found to her great delight that she was getting smaller: very soon she was able to get up out of the uncomfortable position in which she had been lying, and in two or three minutes more she was once more three inches high.

She ran out of the house as quick as she could, and found quite a crowd of little animals waiting outside--guinea-pigs, white mice, squirrels, and `Bill' a little green lizard, that was being supported in the arms of one of the guinea-pigs, while another was giving it something out of a bottle. They all made a rush at her the moment she appeared, but Alice ran her hardest, and soon found herself in a thick wood.


(The Theatre, April, 1887)

`LOOK here; here's all this Judy's clothes falling to pieces again.' Such were the pensive words of Mr Thomas Codlin; and they may fitly serve as a motto for a writer who has set himself the unusual task of passing in review a set of puppets that are virtually his own--the stage embodiments of his own dream-children.

Not that the play itself is in any sense mine. The arrangements, in dramatic form, of a story written without the slightest idea that it would be so adapted, was a task that demanded powers denied to me, but possessed in an eminent degree, so far as I can judge, by Mr Saville Clarke. I do not feel myself qualified to criticise his play, as a play; nor shall I venture on any criticism of the players as players.

What is it, then, I have set myself to do? And what possible claim have I to be heard? My answer must be that, as the writer of the two stories thus adapted, and the originator (as I believe, for at least I have not consciously borrowed them) of the `airy nothings' for which Mr Saville Clarke has so skilfully provided, if not a name, at least, a `local habitation', I may without boastfulness claim to have a special knowledge of what it was I meant them to be, and so a special understanding of how far that intention has been realised. And I fancied there might be some readers of The Theatre who would be interested in sharing that knowledge and that understanding.

Many a day had we rowed together on that quiet stream--the three little maidens and I--and many a fairy tale had been extemporised for their benefit--whether it were at times when the narrator was `i' the vein', and fancies unsought came crowding thick upon him, or at times when the jaded Muse was goaded into action, and plodded meekly on, more because she had to say something than that she had something to say--yet none of these many tales got written down: they lived and died, like summer midges, each in its own golden afternoon until there came a day when, as it chanced, one of my little listeners petitioned that the tale might be written out for her. That was many a year ago, but I distinctly remember, now as I write, how, in a desperate attempt to strike out some new line of fairy-lore, I had sent my heroine straight down a rabbit-hole, to begin with, without the least idea what was to happen afterwards. And so, to please a child I loved (I don't remember any other motive), I printed in manuscript, and illustrated with my own crude designs--designs that rebelled against every law of Anatomy or Art (for I had never had a lesson in drawing)--the book which I have just had published in facsimile. In writing it out, I added many fresh ideas, which seemed to grow of themselves upon the original stock; and many more added themselves when, years afterwards, I wrote it all over again for publication: but (this may interest some readers of `Alice' to know) every such idea and nearly every word of the dialogue, came of itself. Sometimes an idea comes at night, when I have had to get up and strike a light to note it down--sometimes when out on a lonely winter walk, when I have had to `stop, and with half-frozen fingers jot down a few words which should keep the new-born idea from perishing--but whenever or however it comes, it comes of itself. I cannot set invention going like a clock, by any voluntary winding up: nor do I believe that any original writing (and what other writing is worth preserving?) was ever so produced. If you sit down, unimpassioned and uninspired, and tell yourself to write for so many hours, you will merely produce (at least I am sure I should merely produce) some of that article which fills, so far as I can judge, two-thirds of most magazines--most easy to write most weary to read--men call it `padding', and it is to my mind one of the most detestable things in modern literature. `Alice' and the `Looking-Glass' are made up almost wholly of bits and scraps, single ideas which came of themselves. Poor they may have been; but at least they were the best I had to offer: and I can desire no higher praise to be written of me than the words of a Poet, written of a Poet,--

`He gave the people of his best:
The worst he kept, the best he gave.'

I have wandered from my subject, I know: yet grant me another minute to relate a little incident of my own experience. I was walking on a hill-side, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse--one solitary line--`For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.' I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means now; but I wrote it down: and, some time afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza. And since then, periodically, I have received courteous letters from strangers, begging to know whether `The Hunting of the Snark' is an allegory, or contains some hidden moral, or is a political satire: and for all such questions I have but one answer, `I don't know!' And now I return to my text, and will wander no more.

Stand forth, then, from the shadowy past, `Alice' the child of my dreams. Full many a year has slipped away, since that `golden afternoon' that gave thee birth but I can call it up almost as clearly as if it were yesterday--the cloudless blue above, the watery mirror below, the boat drifting idly on its way, the tinkle of the drops that fell from the oars, as they waved so sleepily to and fro, and (the one bright gleam of life in all the slumberous scene) the three eager faces, hungry for news of fairy-land, and who would not be said `nay' to: from whose lips `Tell us a story, please', had all the stern immutability of Fate!

What wert thou, dream-Alice, in thy foster-father's eyes? How shall he picture thee? Loving, first, loving and gentle: loving as a dog (forgive the prosaic simile, but I know no earthly love so pure and perfect), and gentle as a fawn: then courteous--courteous to all, high or low, grand or grotesque, King or Caterpillar, even as though she were herself a King's daughter, and her clothing of wrought gold: then trustful, ready to accept the wildest impossibilities with all that utter trust that only dreamers know; and lastly, curious--wildly curious, and with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood, when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names--empty words signifying nothing!

And the White Rabbit, what of him? Was he framed on the `Alice' lines, or meant as a contrast? As a contrast, distinctly. For her `youth', `audacity', `vigour', and `swift directness of purpose', read `elderly', `timid', `feeble', and `nervously shilly-shallying', and you will get something of what I meant him to be. I think the White Rabbit should wear spectacles. I am sure his voice should quaver, and his knees quiver, and his whole air suggest a total inability to say `Bo' to a goose!

But I cannot hope to be allowed, even by the courteous Editor of The Theatre, half the space I should need (even if my reader's patience would hold out) to discuss each of my puppets one by one. Let me cull from the two books a Royal Trio--the Queen of Hearts, the Red Queen, and the White Queen. It was certainly hard on my Muse, to expect her to sing of three Queens, within such brief compass, and yet to give to each her own individuality. Each, of course, had to preserve, through all her eccentricities, a certain queenly dignity. That was essential. And for distinguishing traits, I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion--a blind and aimless Fury. The Red Queen must be cold and calm; she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the tenth degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses! Lastly, the White Queen seemed, to my dreaming fancy, gentle, stupid, fat and pale; helpless as an infant; and with a slow, maundering, bewildered air about her just suggesting imbecility, but never quite passing into it; that would be, I think, fatal to any comic effect she might otherwise produce. There is a character strangely like her in Wilkie Collins's novel `No Name': by two different converging paths we have somehow reached the same ideal, and Mrs Wragg and the White Queen might have been twin-sisters.

As it is no part of my present purpose to find fault with any of those who have striven so zealously to make this `dream-play' a waking success, I shall but name two or three who seemed to me specially successful in realising the characters of the story.

None, I think, was better realised than the two undertaken by Mr Sydney Harcourt, `the Hatter' and `Tweedledum'. To see him enact the Hatter was a weird and uncanny thing, as though some grotesque monster, seen last night in a dream, should walk into the room in broad daylight, and quietly say `Good morning!' I need not try to describe what I mean the Hatter to be, since, so far as I can now remember, it was exactly what Mr Harcourt had made him: and I may say nearly the same of Tweedledum: but the Hatter surprised me most--perhaps only because it came first in the play.

There were others who realised my ideas nearly as well; but I am not attempting a complete review: I will conclude with a few words about the two children who played `Alice' and `the Dormouse'.

Of Miss Phoebe Carlo's performance it would be difficult to speak too highly. As a mere effort of memory, it was surely a marvellous feat for so young a child, to learn no less than two hundred and fifteen speeches--nearly three times as many as Beatrice in `Much Ado About Nothing'. But what I admired most, as realising most nearly my ideal heroine, was her perfect assumption of the high spirits, and readiness to enjoy everything, of a child out for a holiday. I doubt if any grown actress, however experienced, could have worn this air so perfectly; we look before and after, and sigh for what is not; a child never does this; and it is only a child that can utter from her heart the words poor Margaret Fuller Ossoli so longed to make her own, `I am all happy now!'

And last (I may for once omit the time-honoured addition `not least', for surely no tinier maiden ever yet achieved so genuine a theatrical success?) comes our dainty Dormouse. `Dainty' is the only epithet that seems to me exactly to suit her: with her beaming baby-face, the delicious crispness of her speech, and the perfect realism with which she makes herself the embodied essence of Sleep, she is surely the daintiest Dormouse that ever yet told us `I sleep when I breathe!' With the first words of that her opening speech, a sudden silence falls upon the house (at least it has been so every time I have been there), and the baby tones sound strangely clear in the stillness. And yet I doubt if the charm is due only to the incisive clearness of her articulation; to me there was an even greater charm in the utter self-abandonment and conscientious thoroughness of her acting. If Dorothy ever adopts a motto, it ought to be `thorough'. I hope the time may soon come when she will have a better part than `Dormouse' to play--when some enterprising manager will revive the `Midsummer Night's Dream' and do his obvious duty to the public by securing Miss Dorothy d'Alcourt as `Puck'!

It would be well indeed for our churches if some of the clergy could take a lesson in enunciation from this little child; and better still, for `our noble selves', if we would lay to heart some things that she could teach us, and would learn by her example to realise, rather more than we do, the spirit of a maxim I once came across in an old book, `Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.'


THE following verses were first published in the magazine Fun on 30 October, 1878. It is not known who wrote them, but they were shown to Lewis Carroll in 1872 in an earlier form which he altered and improved into the version which was finally printed.

   First pull up the fish,
It can't swim away: for a fish this is funny!
   Next 'tis bought; and I wish
That a penny was always its adequate money.

   Make it ready to eat--
Fetching pepper and vinegar won't take a minute.
   Dish with cover complete,
Of lovely shell china, already 'tis in it.
   Now 'tis time we should sup.
What's one only, you dolt? Set a score on the table!
   Take the dish cover up --
With mere finger and thumb you will never be able.

   Get an oyster-knife strong,
Insert it 'twixt cover and dish in the middle;
   Then you shall before long
Un-dish-cover the Oysters -- dishcover the riddle!

'Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.

This curious fragment reads thus in modern characters:

'Twas bryllyg, and the slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves;
And the mome raths outgrabe.

The meanings of the words are as follows:

Bryllyg (derived from the verb to bryl or broil). `The time of broiling dinner, i.e. the close of the afternoon'.
Slythy (compounded of slimy and lithe). `Smooth and active'.
Tove. A species of Badger. They had smooth white hair, long hind legs, and short horns like a stag. Lived chiefly on cheese.
Gyre. Verb (derived from gyaour or giaour, `a dog') `to scratch like a dog'.
Gymble (whence gimblet) to screw out holes in anything.
Wabe (derived from the verb to swab or soak) `the side of hill' (from its being soaked by the rain).
Mimsy (whence mimserable and miserable) `unhappy'.
Borogove. An extinct kind of Parrot. They had no wings, beaks turned up, and made their nests under sun-dials; lived on veal.
Mome (hence solemome, solemone, and solemn) `grave'.

Rath. A species of land turtle. Head erect, mouth like a shark, the front fore legs curved out so that the animal walked on its knees; smooth green body; lived on swallows and oysters.
Outgrabe -- past tense of the verb to outgribe (it is connected with the old verb to grike or shrike, from which are derived `shriek' and `creak') `squeaked'.

Hence the literal English of the passage is --

`It was evening, and the smooth active badgers were scratching and boring holes in the hill side, all unhappy were the parrots, and the grave turtles squeaked out.'

There were probably sun dials on the top of the hill, and the `borogoves' were afraid that their nests of `raths', which ran out squeaking with fear on hearing the `toves' scratching outside. This is an obscure, but yet deeply-affecting, relic of ancient Poetry.

Croft 1855


(This affecting fragment was found in MS. among the papers of the well-known author of `Was it You or I?' a tragedy, and the two popular novels, `Sister and Son', and `The Niece's Legacy, or the Grateful Grandfather'.)

SHE'S all my fancy painted him
   (I make no idle boast);
If he or you had lost a limb,
   Which would have suffered most?

He said that you had been to her,
   And seen me here before;
But, in another character,
   She was the same of yore.

There was not one that spoke to us,
   Of all that thronged the street:
So he sadly got into a 'bus,
   And pattered with his feet.

They sent him word I had not gone
   (We know it to be true);
If she should push the matter on,
   What would become of you?

They gave her one, they gave me two,
   They gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
   Though they were mine before.

If I or she should chance to be
   Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
   Exactly as we were.

It seemed to me that you had been
   (Before she had this fit)
An obstacle, that came between
   Him, and ourselves, and it.

Don't let him know she liked them best,
   For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
   Between yourself and me.



(It is always interesting to ascertain the sources from which our great poets obtained their ideas: this motive has dictated the publication of the following: painful as its appearance must be to the admirers of Wordsworth and his poem of `Resolution and Independence'.)

I MET an aged, aged man
   Upon the lonely moor:
I knew I was a gentleman,
   And he was but a boor.
So I stopped and roughly questioned him,
   `Come, tell me how you live!'
But his words impressed my ear no more
   Than if it were a sieve.

He said, `I look for soap-bubbles,
   That lie among the wheat,
And bake them into mutton-pies,
   And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men,' he said,
   `Who sail on stormy seas;
And that's the way I get my bread --
   A trifle, if you please.'

But I was thinking of a way
   To multiply by ten,
And always, in the answer, get
   The question back again.
I did not hear a word he said,
   But kicked that old man calm,
And said, `Come, tell me how you live!'
   And pinched him in the arm.

His accents mild took up the tale:
   He said, `I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
   I set it in a blaze.
And thence they make a stuff they call
   Rowlands' Macassar Oil;
But fourpence-halfpenny is all
   They give me for my toil.'

But I was thinking of a plan
   To paint one's gaiters green,
So much the colour of the grass
   That they could ne'er be seen.
I gave his ear a sudden box,
   And questioned him again,
And tweaked his grey and reverend locks,
   And put him into pain.

He said, `I hunt for haddocks' eyes
   Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat-buttons
   In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold,
   Or coin of silver-mine,
But for a copper-halfpenny,
   And that will purchase nine.

`I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
   Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the flowery knolls
   For wheels of hansom cabs.
And that's the way' (he gave a wink)
   `I get my living here,
And very gladly will I drink
   Your Honour's health in beer.'

I heard him then, for I had just
   Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
   By boiling it in wine.
I duly thanked him, ere I went,
   For all his stories queer,
But chiefly for his kind intent
   To drink my health in beer.

And now if e'er by chance I put
   My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
   Into a left-hand shoe;
Or if a statement I aver
   Of which I am not sure,
I think of that strange wanderer
   Upon the lonely moor.

BENEATH the waters of the sea
Are lobsters thick as thick can be --
They love to dance with you and me,
   My own, my gentle Salmon!


Salmon, come up! Salmon, go down!
Salmon, come twist your tail around!
Of all the fishes of the sea
   There's none so good as Salmon!


DREAMING of apples on a wall,
   And dreaming often, dear,
I dreamed that, if I counted all,
   -- How many would appear?


A stick I found that weighed two pound:
   I sawed it up one day
In pieces eight of equal weight!
   How much did each piece weigh?
(Everybody says `a quarter of a pound,' which is wrong.)


John gave his brother James a box:
About it there were many locks.

James woke and said it gave him pain;
So gave it back to John again.

The box was not with lid supplied,
Yet caused two lids to open wide:

And all these locks had never a key --
What kind of a box, then, could it be?


What is most like a bee in May?
   `Well, let me think: perhaps --' you say.
Bravo! You're guessing well to-day!


   Three sisters at breakfast were feeding the cat,
The first gave it sole -- Puss was grateful for that:
   The next gave it salmon -- which Puss thought a treat:
The third gave it herring -- which Puss wouldn't eat.
   (Explain the conduct of the cat.)


Said the Moon to the Sun,
   `Is the daylight begun?'
Said the Sun to the Moon,
   `Not a minute too soon.'

`You're a Full Moon,' said he.
   She replied with a frown,
`Well! I never did see
   So uncivil a clown!'
(Query. Why was the moon so angry?)


WHEN the King found that his money was nearly all gone, and that he really must live more economically, he decided on sending away most of his Wise Men. There were some hundreds of them -- very fine old men, and magnificently dressed in green velvet gowns with gold buttons: if they had a fault, it was that they always contradicted one another when he asked for their advice -- and they certainly ate and drank enormously. So, on the whole, he was rather glad to get rid of them. But there was an old law, which he did not dare to disobey, which said that there must always be

`Seven blind of both eyes:
   Two blind of one eye:
Four that see with both eyes:
   Nine that see with one eye.'
(Query. How many did he keep?)


If ten the number dreamed of, why 'tis clear
That in the dream ten apples would appear.


In Shylock's bargain for the flesh was found
   No mention of the blood that flowed around:
So when the stick was sawed in eight,
   The sawdust lost diminished from the weight.


As curly-headed Jemmy was sleeping in bed,
His brother John gave him a blow on the head;
James opened his eyelids, and spying his brother,
Doubled his fist, and gave him another.
This kind of box then is not so rare;
The lids are the eyelids, the locks are the hair,
And so every schoolboy can tell to his cost,
The key to the tangles is constantly lost.


'Twixt `Perhaps' and `May be'
   Little difference we see:
Let the question go round,
   The answer is found.


That salmon and sole Puss should think very grand
   Is no such remarkable thing.
For more of these dainties Puss took up her stand;
But when the third sister stretched out her fair hand
   Pray why should Puss swallow her ring?


`In these degenerate days,' we oft hear said,
   `Manners are lost and chivalry is dead!'
No wonder, since in high exalted spheres
   The same degeneracy, in fact, appears.
The Moon, in social matters interfering,
   Scolded the Sun, when early in appearing;
And the rude Sun, her gentle sex ignoring,
   Called her a fool, thus her pretensions flooring.


Five seeing, and seven blind
   Give us twelve, in all, we find;
But all of these, 'tis very plain,
   Come into account again.
For take notice, it may be true,
   That those blind of one eye are blind for two;
And consider contrariwise,
   That to see with your eye you may have your eyes;
So setting one against the other --
   For a mathematician no great bother --
And working the sum, you will understand
   That sixteen wise men still trouble the land.

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