Nine Snark Hunters

There is no tenth member in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. I think that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only. Let us take them in order of their introduction:

  1. The Bellman, their captain.
  2. The Boots, a maker of Bonnets and Hoods
  3. The Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes, but repeatedly complaining about the Beaver’s evil lace-making.
  4. The Broker, to value their goods.
  5. The Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense, might perhaps have won more than his share.
  6. The Banker, engaged at enormous expense, had the whole of their cash in his care.
  7. The Beaver, that paced on the deck or would sit making lace in the bow and had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck, though none of the sailors knew how.
  8. The Baker, also addressed by “Fry me!”, “Fritter my wig!”, “Candle-ends” as well as “Toasted-cheese”, and known for joking with hyenas and walking paw-in-baw with a bear.
  9. The Butcher, who only could kill Beavers, but later became best friend (as shown in the illustration below) with the lace-making animal.


2017-11-06, edited: 2018-05-18

Crossover Literature

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This is about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, published more than 140 years ago. This also is about Thomas Cranmer. He and the Baker (the ambivalent hero in The Hunting of the Snark) perhaps hoped that after having left their 42 articles behind, the Boojum won’t get them.

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature: Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. However, mature readers (at age hundred-forty or so) might feel, that it ends with a reference to the burning of Thomas Cranmer in 1556.

The image serves to compare two illustrations:

  • Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). The complete illustration is on the upper left side. A 135° couterclockwise rotated detail from that illustration has been rendered on the upper right side of this comparison image.
    Source: 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark (April 1876).
  • Faiths Victorie in Romes Crueltie (published by Thomas Jenner, c. 1630). Immediately to the right side of the fire, Thomas Cranmer is depicted burning his hand.
    License: CC BY-SA 4.0.
    Source: Folger Digital Image Collection

The rotated detail from Henry Holiday’s illustration neither is a “claw” nor a “beak”. I assume that it depicts a fire. And there is a hand in both fires. Carroll and Holiday almost too successfully made sure that the readers of The Hunting of the Snark don’t understand that too early.

Pursuit of Happiness

To Mary Barber

The Chestnuts, Guildford
January 12, 1897

My dear May,

        In answer to your question, “What did you mean the Snark was?” will you tell your friend that I meant that the Snark was a Boojum. I trust that she and you will now feel quite satisfied and happy.

        To the best of my recollection, I had no other meaning in my mind, when I wrote it: but people have since tried to find the meanings in it. The one I like best (which I think is partly my own) is that it may be taken as an Allegory for the Pursuit of Happiness. The characteristic “ambition” works well into this theory—and also its fondness for bathing-machines, as indicating that the pursuer of happiness, when he has exhausted all other devices, betakes himself, as a last and desperate resource, to some such wretched watering-place as Eastbourne, and hopes to find, in the tedious and depressing society of the daughters of mistresses of boarding-schools, the happiness he has failed to find elsewhere.

        With every good wish for your happiness, and for the priceless boon of health also, I am

Always affectionately yours,
C.L. Dodgson

In The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll (1982, edited by Morton Cohen) and in all copies of this letter in the internet, C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) is being quoted as having addressed Mary Barber with “My dear May”, not with “My dear Mary”. I learned that “My dear May” is correct: Quora | Yahoo Groups | Twitter

Carroll Tackles Vivisection

It’s National Poetry Month? Nonsense!
[…] April 9, 2018
[Author: Matt Dilworth] mdilwort

[…] Yet nonsense poems, and Carroll’s in particular, often carry significant political undertones. For example, in Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark”, he tackles vivisection and the role of anthrocentrist activities in scientific pursuit. […]

Yes, I thought so.

William Hartston’s Clues

Creativity: 42 clues to what it all means
[Independent] Monday 17 May 1993 23:02 BST

[…] Rev Charles Lutwidge Dodgson offers a more convincing explanation. […] He must have known about Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles […]

William Hartston probably wrote his article with his tongue in the cheek (which is the safest thing you can do when writing about Douglas Adams’ and about C. L. Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll’s) “42”). It was about an article by

Ellis Hillman, 64, the founder of the Lewis Carroll Society (and president of the Flat Earth Society in his spare time)

in the journal Chapter One of the Alliance of Literary Societies.

But thanks to the creativity of Lewis Carroll and Henry Holiday there really might be textual and pictorial references to Thomas Cranmer and his 42 Articles in The Hunting of the Snark.

On the Flat Earth Society: William Hartston seems to have used Ellis Hillman’s presidency of the Flat Earth Society to ridicule Hillman. Hartston got it wrong. And when Hillman passed away in 1996, Illtyd Harrington’s orbituary in the Independent mentioned his support of the Flat Earth Society out of context as well.

What is the context?, based on p. 274 in Christine Garwood, Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea, 2008:

[…] But as [Samuel Shenton’s International Flat Earth Research Society] was dying [in 1969], he found the successor he had been looking for: Ellis Hillman, a lecturer and member of the Greater London Council, agreed to be president of the IFERS, with the encouragement of Patrick Moore. Lillian Shenton was suspicious of his motives (he was developing a post-graduate course on the development of ideas about the shape of the earth) and in the event he did little for the society. […]

Garwood wrote:

[…] Initially Hillman, who was frank about never having believed in the earth to be flat, was reluctant to accept Shenton’s offer and recalled contacting Patrick Moore to ask his advice. According to Hillman, Moore was encouraging: “For God’s sake, keep it going,” he allegedly exclaimed, “we must have heretical people in the world of astronomy.” Besides Moore’s enthusiasm, there was a second persuative factor: at the time Hillman was planning a postgraduate course on the development of ideas connected with the shape of the earth and he believed it would assist his academic research to accept Shenton’s offer. […]

Links: Douglas Adams and Lewis Carroll | Thomas Cranmer

Searching “Why 24?”: Twitter | Yahoo groups

The Jabberwock

[… the Jabberwock] has also been interpreted as a parody of contemporary Oxford scholarship and specifically the story of how Benjamin Jowett, the notoriously agnostic Professor of Greek at Oxford, and Master of Balliol, came to sign the Thirty-Nine Articles, as an Anglican statement of faith, to save his job. […]

(Stephen Prickett (2005): Victorian Fantasy, Baylor University Press p113 ISBN 1-932792-30-9)

Unlike Benjamin Jowett, the Rev. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) didn’t sign, but managed to save his job nevertheless without being ordained as a priest. I think that his references to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles are related to the issues he had with signing the anglican statement of faith.


The Jabberwock

’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 wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Page 83

Examples for advertising the 1st edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, then offered for €200 and more:

First edition, first printing, with “Baker” for “Banker” on page 83.

First issue with “baker” not “butcher” on page 83. It is unknown how many copies were printed this way.

This is about line 560 on page 83, the last page of Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy. All copies are printed this way. And in Henry Holiday’s illustration on page 82 you can see the Baker.

So there is nothing special about “Where the Baker had met with the Snark.” Those book traders just don’t check the facts.

Then there is the JubJub. If you read somewhere that the bird never will look at a “bride”, then better check line 386 on page 55.