Open main menu

CHAPTER IV

 

(1868-1876)

 

Death of Archdeacon Dodgson—Lewis Carroll's rooms at Christ Church—"Phantasmagoria"—Translations of "Alice"—"Through the Looking-Glass"—"Jabberwocky" in Latin—C. S. Calverley—"Notes by an Oxford Chiel"—Hatfield—Vivisection—"The Hunting of the Snark."

THE success of Alice in Wonderland" tempted Mr. Dodgson to make another essay in the same field of literature. His idea had not yet been plagiarised, as it was afterwards, though the book had of course been parodied, a notable instance being Alice in Blunderland," which appeared in Punch. It was very different when he came to write "Sylvie and Bruno"; the countless imitations of the two "Alice" books which had been foisted upon the public forced him to strike out in a new line. Long before the publication of his second tale, people had heard that Lewis Carroll was writing again, and the editor of a well-known magazine Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/154 LEWIS CARROLL 131 On June 21st Archdeacon Dodgson died, after an illness of only a few days' duration. Lewis Carroll was not summoned until too late, for the illness took a sudden turn for the worse, and he was unable to reach his father's bedside before the end had come. This was a terrible shock to him ; his father had been his ideal of what a Christian gentleman should be, and it seemed to him at first as if a cloud had settled on his life which could never be dispelled. Two letters of his, both of them written long after the sad event, give one some idea of the grief which his father's death, and all that it entailed, caused him. The first was written long afterwards, to one who had suffered a similar bereavement. In this letter he said : — We are sufficiently old friends, I feel sure, for me to have no fear that I shall seem intrusive in writing about your great sorrow. The greatest blow that has ever fallen on my life was the death, nearly thirty years ago, of my own dear father ; so, in offering you my sincere sympathy, I write as a fellow- sufferer. And I rejoice to know that we are not only fellow- sufferers, but also fellow-believers in the blessed hope of the resurrection from the dead, which makes such a parting holy and beautiful, instead of being merely a blank despair. The second was written to a young friend. Miss

Edith Rix, who had sent him an illuminated text: Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/156 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/157
Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Lewis Carroll's Study at Christ Church, Oxford.jpg

LEWIS CARROLL'S STUDY AT CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD.

Heaphy proclaimed his artistic tastes; nests of pigeon-holes, each neatly labelled, showed his love of order; shelves, filled with the best books

Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Prof. Faraday.jpg

PROF. FARADAY.
(From a photograph by Lewis Carroll.)

on every subject that interested him, were evidence of his wide reading. His library has now been broken up and, except for a few books retained by his nearest relatives, scattered to the Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/160 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/161 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/162 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/163 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/164 LORD SALISBURY AND HIS TWO SONS. {From a photograph by Lewis Carroll.) 142 THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF written for the Cecil children, with whom Lewis Carroll was already on the best terms. Mean- while Through the Looking-Glass " was steadily progressing — not, however, without many little hitches. One question which exercised Mr. Dodgson very much was whether the picture of the Jabberwock would do as a frontispiece, or whether it would be too friofhtenino- for little chil- dren. On this point he sought the advice of about thirty of his married lady friends, whose experiences with their own children would make them trustworthy advisers ; and in the end he chose the picture of the White Knight on horseback. In 1871 the book appeared, and was an instantaneous success. Eight thousand of the first edition had been taken up by the booksellers before Mr. Dodgson had even received his own presentation copies. The compliments he re- ceived upon the Looking-Glass " would have been enough to turn a lesser man's head, but he was, I think, proof against either praise or blame. 1 can say with a clear head and conscience [wrote Henry Kingsley] that your new book is the finest thing we have had since " Martin Chuzzlewit." ... I can only say, in comparing the new " Alice " with the old, " this is a more excellent song than the other." It is perfectly splendid, but you have, doubt- less, heard that from other quarters. I lunch with Macmillan LEWIS CARROLL 143 habitually, and he was in a terrible pickle about not having printed enough copies the other day. Jabberwocky ^ was at once recognised as the best and most original thing in the book, though one fair correspondent of T/te Queen declared that it was a translation from the German ! The late Dean of Rochester, Dr. Scott, writes about it to Mr. Dodorson as follows : — o Are we to suppose, after all, that the Saga of Jabberwocky is one of the universal heirlooms which the Aryan race at its dis- persion carried with it from the great cradle of the family? Vou must really consult Max Miiller about this. It begins to be probable that the ori^o originalissima may be discovered in Sanscrit, and that we shall by and by have a lahrivokaveda. The hero will turn out to be the Sun-god in one of his Avatars ; and the Tumtum tree the great Ash Ygdrasil of the Scandinavian mythology. In March, 1872, the late Mr. A. A. Vansittart, of Trinity College, Cambridge, translated the poem into Latin elegiacs. His rendering was printed, for private circulation only, I believe, several years later, but will probably be new to most of my readers. A careful comparison with ^ Lewis Carroll composed this poem while staying with his cousins, the Misses Wilcox, at Whitburn, near Sunderland. To while away an evening the whole party sat down to a game of verse-making, and Jabberwocky" was his contribution. 144 THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF the original shows the wonderful fidelity of this translation : — "MORS lABROCHII." Coesper ^ erat : tunc lubriciles "^ ultravia circum Urgebant gyros gimbiculosque tophi ; Mcestenui visae borogovides ire meatu ; Et profugi gemitus exgrabuere rath?e. O fuge labrochium, sanguis meus ! 3 lUe recurvis Unguibus, estque avidis dentibus ille minax. Ububae fuge cautus avis vim, gnate ! Neque unquam Fsedarpax contra te frumiosus eat ! Vorpali gladio juvenis succingitur : hostis Manxumus ad medium quaeritur usque diem : Jamque via fesso, sed plurima mente prementi, Tumtumiae frondis suaserat umbra moram. Consilia interdum stetit egnia^ mente revolvens : At gravis in densa fronde susuflrus s erat, Spiculaque ^ ex oculis jacientis flammea, tulscam Per silvam Venit burbur 7 labrochii ! Vorpali, semel atque iterum collectus in ictum, Persnicuit gladio persnacuitque puer : Deinde galumphatus, spernens informe cadaver, Horrendum monstri rettulit ipse caput. ' C<xsper from ccena and vesper, ^ Lubriciles, from lubricus and graciles. See the commentary in "Humpty Dumpty's square," which will also explain ultravia, and, if it requires explanation, mcestenui. 3 Sanguis metis : Verg. ^n. vi. 836 —

  • ' Projice tela manu, sanguis meus ! "

^Egnia: *' muffish" = j-^^;/z>; therefore '■ uffish " = (?^zV. This is a conjectural analogy, but I can suggest no better solution. 5 Susuffrus : "whiffling," j/^i-wrrz^i-; "whistling." ^ Spicula : see the picture. 7 Burbur : apparently a labial variation of murmur, stronger but more

dissonant.

Victor labrochii, spoliis insignis opimis,
Rursus in amplexus, o radiose, meos!
O frabiose dies! Callo clamateque Calla!
Vix potuit laetus chorticulare pater.

Cœsper erat: tunc lubriciles ultravia circum
Urgebant gyros gimbiculosque tophi;
Mœstenui visae borogovides ire meatu;
Et profugi gemitus exgrabuêre rathæ.
A. A. V.


JABBERWOCKY.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame.
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabc,
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

The story, as originally written, contained thirteen chapters, but the published book consisted of twelve only. The omitted chapter introduced a wasp, in the character of a judge or barrister, I suppose, since Mr. Tenniel wrote that "a wasp in a wig is altogether beyond the appliances of art." Apart from difficulties of illustration, the "wasp" chapter was not considered to be up to the level of the rest of the book, and this was probably the principal reason of its being left out.

"It is a curious fact," wrote Mr. Tenniel some years later, when replying to a request of Lewis Carroll's that he would illustrate another of his books, "that with 'Through the Looking-Glass' the faculty of making drawings for book illustration departed from me, and, notwithstanding all sorts of tempting inducements, I have done nothing in that direction since."

Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll -Facsimile of a letter from Sir John Tenniel to Lewis Carroll, dated June 1, 1870 - page 1.jpg

Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll -Facsimile of a letter from Sir John Tenniel to Lewis Carroll, dated June 1, 1870 - page 2.jpg

Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll -Facsimile of a letter from Sir John Tenniel to Lewis Carroll, dated June 1, 1870 - page 3.jpg



(Facsimile of a letter from Sir John Tenniel to Lewis Carroll, June 1, 1870.)

150 THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF Through the Looking Glass " has recently appeared in a solemn judgment of the House of Lords. In East77ian Photographic Materials Company v. Comptroller General of Patents^ Designs, and Trademarks (1898), the question for decision was, What constitutes an invented word ? A trademark that consists of or contains an invented word or words is capable of registra- tion. *' Solio " was the word in issue in the case. Lord Macnaghten in his judgment said, when alluding to the distinguishing characteristics of an invented word : — I do not think that it is necessary that it should be wholly meaningless. To give an illustration : your lordships may remember that in a book of striking humour and fancy, which was in everybody's hands when it was first published, there is a collection of strange words where " there are " (to use the language of the author) " two meanings packed up into one word." No one would say that those were not invented words. Still they contain a meaning — a meaning is wrapped up in them if you can only find it out. Before I leave the subject of the " Looking- Glass," I should like to mention one or two circumstances in connection with it which illus- trate his reverence for sacred things. In his original manuscript the bad-tempered flower

(pp. 28-33) w^s ^^ passion-flower ; the sacred Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/175 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/176 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/177 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/178 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/179 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/180 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/181 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/182 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/183 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/184 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/185 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/186 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/187 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/188 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/189 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/190 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/191 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/192 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/193 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/194 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/195

Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Henry Holiday in his studio.jpg

HENRY HOLIDAY IN HIS STUDIO.

(From a photograph.)

Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/197 Page:Collingwood - Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.djvu/198

Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll - Lewis Carroll.jpg

LEWIS CARROLL.

(From a photograph.)