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CHAPTER III

 

(1861-1867)

 

Jowett—Index to "In Memoriam"—The Tennysons—The beginning of "Alice"—Tenniel—Artistic friends—"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"—"Bruno's Revenge"—Tour with Dr. Liddon—Cologne—Berlin architecture—The "Majesty of Justice"—Peterhof—Moscow—A Russian wedding—Nijni—The Troitska Monastery—"Hieroglyphic" writing—Giessen.

 

IT is my aim in this Memoir to let Mr. Dodgson tell his own story as much as possible. In order to effect this object I have drawn largely upon his Diary and correspondence. Very few men have left behind them such copious information about their lives as he has; unfortunately it is not equally copious throughout, and this fact must be my apology for the somewhat haphazard and disconnected way in which parts of this book are written. That it is the best which, under the circumstances, I have been able 90 THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF to do needs, I hope, no saying, but the circum- stances have at times been too strong for me. Though in later years Mr. Dodgson almost gave up the habit of dining out, at this time of his life he used to do it pretty frequently, and several of the notes in his Diary refer to after- dinner and Common Room stories. The two following extracts will show the sort of facts he recorded : — • fanuaty 2, 1861. — Mr. Grey (Canon) came to dine and stay the night. He told me a curious old custom of millers, that they place the sails of the mill as a Saint Andrew's Cross when work is entirely suspended, thus X, but in an upright cross, thus +, if they are just going to resume work. He also mentioned that he was at school with Dr. Tennyson (father of the poet), and was a great favourite of his. He remembers that Tennyson used to do his school-translations in rhyme. May gth. — Met in Common Room Rev. C. F. Knight, and the Hon"". F. J. Parker, both of Boston, U.S. The former gave an amusing account of having seen Oliver Wendell Holmes in a fishmonger's, lecturing extempore on the head of a freshly killed turtle, whose eyes 'and jaws still showed muscular action : the lecture of course being all " cram," but accepted as sober earnest by the mob outside. Old Oxford men will remember the contro- versies that raged from about i860 onwards over the opinions of the late Dr. Jowett. In my time the name " Jowett " only represented the LEWIS CARROLL 91 brilliant translator of Plato, and the deservedly loved master of Balliol, whose sermons in the little College Chapel were often attended by other than Balliol men, and whose reputation for learning was expressed in the well-known verse of " The Masque of Balliol " : — First come I, my name is Jowett. There's no knowledge but I know it ; I am Master of this College ; What I don't know isn't knowledge. But in 1 86 1 he was anything but universally popular, and I am afraid that Mr. Dodgson, nothing if not a staunch Conservative, sided with the majority against him. Thus he wrote in his Diary : — November 20th.- — Promulgation, in Congregation, of the new statute to endow Jowett. The speaking took up the whole after- noon, and the two points at issue, the endowing a Regius Pro- fessorship, and the countenancing Jowett's theological opinions, got so inextricably mixed up that I rose to beg that they might be kept separate. Once on my feet, I said more than I at first meant, and defied them ever to tire out the opposition by per- petually bringing the question on {Mem. : if I ever speak again I will try to say no more than I had resolved before rising). This was my first speech in Congregation. At the beginning of 1862 an " Index to In Memoriam," compiled by Mr. Dodgson and his Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/116 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/117 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/118 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/119 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/120 evolved out of his inner consciousness, for it is, I think, a species unknown to naturalists.

He was lucky enough during the course of the year to see a ceremony which is denied to most Oxford men. When degrees are given, any tradesman who has been unable to get his due from an undergraduate about to be made a Bachelor of Arts is allowed, by custom, to pluck the Proctor's gown as he passes, and then to make his complaint. This law is more honoured in the breach than in the observance; but, on the occasion of this visit of Mr. Dodgson's to Convocation, the Proctor's gown was actually plucked—on account of an unfortunate man who had gone through the Bankruptcy Court.

When he promised to write out "Alice" for Miss Liddell he had no idea of publication; but his friend, Mr. George Macdonald, to whom he had shown the story, persuaded him to submit it to a publisher. Messrs. Macmillan agreed to produce it, and as Mr. Dodgson had not sufficient faith in his own artistic powers to venture to allow his illustrations to appear, it was necessary to find some artist who would undertake the work. By the advice of Tom Taylor he approached Mr. Tenniel, who was fortunately
Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - George Macdonald.jpg

GEORGE MACDONALD.

(From a photograph by Lewis Carroll.)

well disposed, and on April 5, 1864, the final arrangements were made.

The following interesting account of a meeting with Mr. Dodgson is from the pen of Mrs. Bennie, wife of the Rector of Glenfield, near Leicester:—

Some little time after the publication of "Alice's Adventures" we went for our summer holiday to Whitby. We were visiting friends, and my brother and sister went to the hotel. They soon after asked us to dine with them there at the table d'hôte. I had on one side of me a gentleman whom I did not know, but as I had spent a good deal of time travelling in foreign countries, I always, at once, speak to any one I am placed next. I found on this occasion I had a very agreeable neighbour, and we seemed to be much interested in the same books, and politics also were touched on. After dinner my sister and brother rather took me to task for talking so much to a complete stranger. I said, "But it was quite a treat to talk to him and to hear him talk. Of one thing I am quite sure, he is a genius." My brother and sister, who had not heard him speak, again laughed at me, and said, "You are far

too easily pleased." I, however, maintained my point, and said what great delight his conversation had given me, and how remarkably clever it had been. Next morning nurse took out our two little twin daughters in front of the sea. I went out a short time afterwards, looked for them, and found them seated with my friend of the table d'hôte between them, and they were listening to him, open-mouthed, and in the greatest state of enjoyment, with his knee covered with minute toys. I, seeing their great delight, motioned to him to go on; this he did for some time. A most charming story he told them about sea-urchins and Ammonites. When it was over, I said, "You must be the author of 'Alice's Adventures.'" He Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/124 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/125 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/126
Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Holman Hunt.jpg

HOLMAN HUNT.

(From a photograph by Lewis Carroll.)

Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/128
Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Sir John Millais.jpg

SIR JOHN MILLAIS.

(From a photograph by Lewis Carroll.)

Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/130 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/131 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/132 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/133 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/134 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/135 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/136 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/137 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/138 LEWIS CARROLL 115 fact a dragon is the correct thing, but if that is beyond the artist, he may content himself with a Hon or a pig. The beast- killing principle has been carried out everywhere with a relent- less monotony, which makes some parts of Berlin look like a fossil slaughter-house. He never missed an opportunity of studying the foreign drama, which was most praiseworthy, as he knew very Httle German and not a word of Russ : — At the hotel [at Danzig] was a green parrot on a stand ; we addressed it as " Pretty Poll," and it put its head on one side and thought about it, but wouldn't commit itself to any statement. The waiter came up to inform us of the reason of its silence : " Er spricht nicht Englisch ; er spricht nicht Deutsch." It appeared that the unfortunate bird could speak nothing but Mexican ! Not knowing a word of that language, we could only pity it. ^tily 2^rd. — We strolled about and bought a few photographs, and at 11.39 ^^^^ ^^^ Konigsberg. On our way to the station we came across the grandest instance of the " Majesty of Justice " that I have ever witnessed. A little boy was being taken to the magistrate, or to prison (probably for picking a pocket). The achievement of this feat had been entrusted to two soldiers in full uniform, who were solemnly marching, one in front of the poor little urchin and one behind, with bayonets fixed, of course, to be ready to charge in case he should attempt an escape. yuly 25//L — In the evening I visited the theatre at Konigs- berg, which was fairly good in every way, and very good in the singing and some of the acting. The play was " Anno 66," but I could only catch a few words here and there, so have very

little idea of the plot. One of the characters was a correPage:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/140 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/141 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/142 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/143 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/144 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/145 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/146 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/147 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/148 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/149 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/150
Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Sir John Tenniel.jpg

SIR JOHN TENNIEL.

(From a photograph by Bassano.)