Articles of Christian faith are Axioms

It will be no surprise that [Lewis Carroll] extended this intellectual concept outside of mathematics: in 1897, for example, he wrote that the articles of Christian faith

are what would be called in Science “axioms, ” … quite incapable of being proved, simply because proof must rest on something already granted. … (Letters 2: 1122)

His extension of the concept to language is demonstrated in a passage from an appendix to Symbolic Logic, in which he wrote that

if I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, “Let it be understood that by the word ‘black’ I shall always mean ‘white,’ and that by the word ‘white’ I shall always mean ‘black, ‘” I meekly accept his judgment, however injudicious I may deem it.

Carroll envisions an author, like a mathematician, setting out his axioms at the beginning of a work (though he clearly deems it “injudicious” to arbitrarily invert such a well-respected custom).
        The notion that conventions are axiomatic enables more than Carroll’s insights into structural linguistics: it brings a sense of arbitrariness to all social behaviour.

Darien Graham-Smith, p. 38~39


The Jabberwock

[…] [Jabberwocky] 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, p. 113, 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 am not so sure about the Jowett link, because «the first stanza of “Jabberwocky” was originally written by Carroll at the age of 13 under the title “Stanza of Anglo-Saxon poetry”.» [Darien Graham-Smith, p. 36])



’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.

See also:
Vogon poetry
Chamutal Noimann, Empowering Nonsense: Reading Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” in a Basic Writing Class (2014)
※ Etching of Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello (c. 1470). But there also are other inspiring sources:

Christian’s fight with Appollyon in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress,
London: Carington Bowles, 1781.
(Source: John Bunyan Society)


Games (unfortunately not available anymore from the app shop):
Jabberwocky, Confounded, app for iOS by Christopher Gross


composer: Zoë Tweed, rendition: Sylva Winds
(flute: Yi-Hsuan Chen, bassoon: Guylaine Eckersley, oboe & voice: Drake Gritton,
clarinet: Rowan Jones, french horn: Zoë Tweed)

composer: Ben Ponniah, rendition: Peter Noden


Sometimes mediocre and sometimes pretty great, it’s always noisy in my car. Happy Thanksgiving! With apologies to Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith. And of course to Lewis Carroll.

— Jill Watson (@pie4jill) November 25, 2022




2018-04-06, update: 2024-03-02

Plagiarism by Google Gemini

Q to Google Gemini (2024-02-27): Is Lewis Carroll's «The Hunting of the Snark» related to Thomas Cranmer?

A:  ... Other potential allusions: Some scholars see other possible connections between the poem's characters and Cranmer's life. For example, the Baker's nicknames («Candle-ends» and «Toasted-cheese») might allude to Cranmer's execution by burning at the stake.

Google Gemini’s AI is plagiarizing.

The idea came to me already in 2010, but it took until 2013 that I explicitely linked the Baker’s “hot” nicknames to the burning of Thomas Cranmer.

Since then I (not “some scholars”) am the only one who interpreted the Baker’s nicknames in Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” in that way. Since 2024 Google Gemini does that too, but the AI doesn’t mention the source. e.g. Letter, № 100, Spring 2018, p. 55~56

... The Baker, the hero in The Hunting of the Snark, left 42 boxes behind him, with his name painted clearly on each. A baker is exposed to heat. He answered to “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!” Intimate friends called him “Candle-ends” and his enemies “Toasted-cheese.” In his poem, Carroll gives us a very broad hint: This Baker got burned. ...

There is a curator’s comment about my findings in the website of the British Museum.Curator's comments
This is one of a number of earlier prints used by Henry Holiday in his illustrations to Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark, 1876 (information from Goetz Kluge, June 2016)

See also:
※ on this blog: Thomas Cranmer’s Burning (2017)
※ ex Twitter: [1] [2] (2024) (2016)
reddit (2016)
flickr (2010)


Surrealist Entanglements

This perhaps is the first reference in academia to my findings: Chapter 7 Surrealist Entanglements (excerpts which refer to my findings) in Marysa Demoor‘s book A Cross-Cultural History of Britain and Belgium, 1815-1918: Mudscapes and Artistic Entanglements, Springer Nature (Palgrave Macmillan), 2022-03-21.
(Review by Marnix Verplancke, translated by Kate Connelly.)

What Marysa Demoor’s wrote about Henry Holiday’s pictorial references in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark confirms what I wrote my article Nose is a Nose is a Nose in the LCNSA Knight Letter (№ 99, Fall 2017, p. 30~31). I found Holiday’s pictorial references to Gheeraerts’ Image Breakers in 2009. Actually, a reference from another Snark illustration by Henry Holiday to Gheeraerts’ print started my Snark hunt in December 2008.

Henry Holiday’s references to Gheeraerts are also mentioned in Marysa Demoor’s article Een culturele brexit? Grotesk! (2022-05-07, archive) in the Belgian De Standaard.

Professor Demoor didn’t specify her sources for what she wrote about Henry Holiday’s references to Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder, William Sidney Mount and Benjamin Duchenne.

Mastodon | Reddit | ex Twitter

2022-11-21, updated: 2024-02-27

Taking 19840 as the subject to reason about

Taking Three as the subject to reason about —
 ​A convenient number to state —
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
 ​By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
 ​By Nine Hundred and Ninety Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
 ​Exactly and perfectly true.

Not all of Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles made it into the Elizabethian 39 Articles of the Anglicans.

19840 10 = 231504 6 .
231504 10 can be devided by 42 10 or by 39 10 without remainder.
But did Lewis Carroll know that? 😉


(x+7+10)×(1000-8)/992-17 = x,
for x=3:

3 3
+ 7 10
+ 10 20
× (1000-8) 19840
/ 992 20
– 17 3


100110110000000 2 1111100000 2
1000012211 3 1100202 3
10312000 4 33200 4
1113330 5 12432 5
231504 6 4332 6
111562 7 2615 7
46600 8 1740 8
30184 9 1322 9
19840 10 992 10
139A7 11 822 11
B594 12 6A8 12
9052 13 5B4 13
7332 14 50C 14
5D2A 15 462 15
4D80 16 3E0 16
40B1 17 376 17
3744 18 312 18
2GI4 19 2E4 19
29C0 20 29C 20
22KG 21 255 21
1ILI 22 212 22
1EBE 23 1K3 23
1AAG 24 1H8 24
16IF 25 1EH 25
1392 26 1C4 26
105M 27 19K 27
P8G 28 17C 28
NH4 29 156 29
M1A 30 132 30
KK0 31 110 31
JC0 32 V0 32
I77 33 U2 33
H5I 34 T6 34
G6U 35 SC 35
FB4 36 RK 36


Crossover Literature

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. It is crossover literature. You read it differently at different ages. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature (and crossover picture books): Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. Adult readers know more than children. Some of them will recognize the textual and pictorial references in Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday and Joseph Swain’s tragicomedy.

Henry Holiday’s illustration (engraved by Joseph Swain) to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark has been published almost 150 years ago. Children probably will not understand that the illustration is a reference to the burning of 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.

Comparison of two illustrations:

  • 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.
    Source: British Museum
  • 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 lower 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).

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 their references to Thomas Cranmer too early: Carroll’s tragycomedy was published in 1876. It took almost 120 years until Angus MacIntyre suggested in The Reverend Snark, Jabberwocky 23(1994), p. 51~52: “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference (I started to search for it in 2010) to Thomas Cranmer’s burning confirms the link between The Hunting of the Snark and Thomas Cranmer.

2018-05-07, updated: 2024-02-10

Mental Troubles

Perhaps I may venture for a moment to use a more serious tone, and to point out that there are mental troubles, much worse than mere worry, for which an absorbing object of thought may serve as a remedy.

  • There are sceptical thoughts, which seem for the moment to uproot the firmest faith;
  • there are blasphemous thoughts, which dart unbidden into the most reverent souls;
  • there are unholy thoughts, which torture with their hateful presence the fancy that would fain be pure.

Against all these some real mental work is a most helpful ally. That “unclean spirit” of the parable, who brought back with him seven others more wicked than himself, only did so because he found the chamber “swept and garnished,” and its owner sitting with folded hands. Had he found it all alive with the “busy hum” of active work, there would have been scant welcome for him and his seven!

(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Pillow Problems and A Tangled Tale, 1885, p. XV;
see also: Life & Letters. Bulletpoints not by Dodgson.)


As any human, Carroll/Dodgson was battling with all kind of temptations. As we know, speculations about possible temptations in his private life keep feeding the pop culture Carroll debate since the 1930s. The controversy is marginalizing the religious conflicts which Dodgson, the Deacon, was struggling with. I think that one of these serious conflicts was Charles Darwin’s challenge to fundamental religious beliefs. The discoveries of Darwin and other researchers surely had (and still have) the potential to uproot the firmest faith in various religions.

In the title of the book [Pillow-Problems, 2nd edition], the words “sleepless nights” have been replaced by “wakefull hours”.
        This last change has been made in order to allay the anxiety of friends, who have written to me to express their sympathy in my broken-down state of health, believing that I am a sufferer of chronic “insomnia”, and that it is a remedy for that exhausting malady that I have recommended mathematical calculation.
        The title was not, I fear, wisely chosen; and it certainly was liable to suggest a meaning I did not intend to convey, viz. that my “nights” are often wholly “sleepless”. This is by no means the case: I have never suffered from “insomnia”: and the over-wakeful hours, that I have had to spend at night, have often been simply the result of the over-sleepy hours I have spent during the preceding evening! Nor is it as a remedy for wakefulness that I have suggested mathematical calculation: but as a remedy for the harassing thoughts that are apt to invade a wholly-unoccupied mind.

I believe that an hour of calculation is much better for me than half-an-hour of worry.

(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Pillow Problems, preface to the second edition, 1893)

Carroll openly described how he used mental mathematical work to find distraction from “harassing thoughts”.

I don’t know to which degree the illustrator Henry Holiday discussed and aligned with Carroll his choice of pictorial references in his illustrations to Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, but there is a pictorial reference to mental troubles: St. Anthony’s temptations (painting by Matthias Grünewald). In one of Holiday’s illustrations you see Colenso’s arithmetic textbook. Like Anthony, also Carroll needed lots of mental work as an distraction from sceptical, blasphemous and unholy thoughts. Anthony probably found help in the scriptures which were sacred to him. Interestingly, the Reverend Dodgson used mathematics to resist the temptations.

I saw Colenso’s math textbook in Holiday’s illustration since many years. Only recently that led me to the assumption (which probably always will be just an assumption) that Holiday might have placed that book into his illustration as a hint to how Carroll used math to keep his brain busy with “some real mental work” as a “most helpful ally” in his battle against the temptations which haunted him.

By the way: Possible references in “The Hunting of the Snark” to St. Anthony and to Darwin had been addressed by Mahendra Singh before I thought about that. Mahendra (who alluded to Matthias Grünewald’s painting himself) and John Tufail were among my most helpful scouts during my own Snark hunt.

2020-06-11, update: 2024-02-05

Laws of Propriety

The Butcher in the 5th fit of The Hunting of the Snark:

“The method employed I would gladly explain,
 While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain —
 But much yet remains to be said.

“In one moment I’ve seen what has hitherto been
 Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
 A Lesson in Natural History.”

In his genial way he proceeded to say
 (Forgetting all laws of propriety,
And that giving instruction, without introduction,
 Would have caused quite a thrill in Society).

Comic Arithmetic, Rule III, Subtraction

Subtraction teaches to “take from” or to find the difference of two numbers; having taken too much in, and slept out; to find the difference in sovereigns and shillings between that and sleeping at home according to the “conventional laws of virtuous propriety.” (Vide Miss Martineau.)


Crossing the Line

  • [left]: Illustration The Crew on Board by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876)
  • [right]: Crossing the Line (1839), based on a print by Thomas Landseer, after Augustus Earle. You will find the print in Robert Fitz-Roy’s Narrative of the surveying voyages of HMS Adventure and Beagle, Vol II (1839).

This is one of the comparisons where am not so sure whether Holiday alluded to the work of another artist. If he did, then you might wait a little bit before you look at my spoiler where I marked possible(?) clues given to us by Holiday.

2017-11-08, updated: 2023-11-08

My 1st Snark Trophy

My first Snark encounter was in 2005. Then, after almost four years, I entered the Snark hunting grounds in December 2008. could give you an idea where I was in 2010.

The image shows illustrations by Henry Holiday (from The Hunting of the Snark, 1876) and Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (Allegory of Iconoclasts, aka The Image Breakers, around 1567): In the “mouth” of Gheeraerts’ “head” a praying priest is depicted. The shape of the priest also is visible in the “mouth” of Holiday’s vanishing “Baker”.

There is more — with acknowledgements to Mahendra Singh, to John Tufail and to the Internet.

And there are more big heads.

Articles in this blog about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing.

2017-08-28, updated: 2023-11-03

Henry Holiday and the maker or Bonnets and Hoods

Watch those fingers: The photo has been “photoshopped” (by Henry Holiday or Joseph Swain?) already many years before I worked on it using GIMP. Holiday’s tinkering with the little finger and the thumb of his left hand might be a “Victorian craze“.

The image shows Henry Holiday and segments of one of Henry Holiday’s illustrations (cut by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The segments show the Bonnetmaker and a bonnet.

Henry Holiday (photo rendered in mirror view)

by Unknown photographer
albumen print, 1870s
5 3/4 in. x 3 5/8 in. (145 mm x 93 mm)
Given by Royal Institute of British Architects: London: UK, 1940
Photographs Collection
NPG x18530The Bonnetmaker drawing could be a little self portrait, a cameo of Henry Holiday in The Hunting of the Snark. The photo is a portrait perhaps taken by Joseph Swain or a self portrait. Henry Holiday was in his mid thirties when he illustrated Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy, and the National Portrait Gallery dated a portrait photo of Henry Holiday (NPG x18530) with “1870s”, where the face shown in that photo does not look too different from the face in the assembly shown above.

Such little self portraits in drawings have a long tradition.

In German there is the term “Assistenzfigur”. That is a person positoned in the background or beside the main person or main object depicted in a painting. You may think of such a person as the static version of a “film extra” in a movie. She or he serves a a kind of helper or assistant. Sometimes one of these extras is the artist who made the painting. In German we call such an image in the image an “Assistenzselbstbildnis” or “Assistenzselbstbild” or “Selbstbildnis in Assistenz”. Perhaps the first known self-portraits in assistance where a kind of signature of the artist.

The “self-portrait in assistance” first became available since the 14th century to master builders and sculpturer, shortly after that in Italy also to fresco painters, and since the 15th and 16th century also to painters of large altar- and panel paintings; see Raupp, S. 8

Source (in German): Footnote on p. 162 in Suzanne Valadon – Identitätskonstruktion… (2001) by Valeska Doll referring to Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnissen und Künstlerdarstellungen in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert (1984) by Hans-Joachim Raupp.

In that matter there also are references to Raupp in Melanie Munduch: Die Selbstbildnisse Luca Giordanos (2012)


#Assistenzselbstbildnis: ex Twitter

For diskussion of the finger “photoshopping”: ex Twitter

Original post: 2017-09-28. Update: 2023-10-13


Some Snark meanings might not have been what Lewis Carroll thought of, but he left lots of space for even more meanings than you can think of. I, for example, associate growing greens with high electricity bills. Others have other ideas, which might be better.

“The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll: It’s said of the Snark, “You may serve it with greens.” As the author is a mathematician, this means Green’s Theorem being applied as a minor step, and the Snark stands for a theorem that is fiendishly difficult to prove.

😉 Markian Gooley, 2020-07-17 😉

2020-06-18, update: 2023-10-09

Camels, Weasels and Whales

What you “see” depends on what choices pareidolia (or the prince) offers to you.

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By th’ mass and ’tis: like a camel indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale.
Polonius: Very like a whale.

– From Hamlet (1603) by William Shakespeare, Act III, Scene 2

I found these lines in the article See faces in the clouds? It might be a sign of your creativity by René Müri and Nicole Göbel.

Playing with Pareidolia
On Borrowing


It Looks Furry

This is from an exTwitter thread:

No Spring til now: Mary Throckmorton, Lady Scudamore, painted by Marcus Gheeraerts in 1614. What was that message about, I wonder?

— Peter Paul Rubens (@PP_Rubens) January 20, 2019

exquisite. what is she hiding/nursing?

— Christine Bagot (@cm_bagot) January 20, 2019

That's what I was wondering. It looks… furry

— Aphra Pell (@AphraPell) January 20, 2019

Could be a flohpelze or zibellino – could she have been pregnant at the time?

— Sally Hickson (@HalcyonSilks) January 20, 2019

To some those scarfs might look "furry". @AphraPell, it is interesting that you say that, because perhaps that's what Henry Holiday "saw" when he got inspired by Gheeraerts for an illustration to Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark". —

— Goetz Kluge (@Bonnetmaker) January 20, 2019

2/2 Catherine Killigrew, Lady Jermyn, beautifully painted also in 1614 by Marcus Gheeraerts. It’s his day today.

— Peter Paul Rubens (@PP_Rubens) January 19, 2019

inspiration by re-interpretation

2019-01-20, updated: 2023-10-05


In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away —
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

2021-12-23: Illustration mostly by Henry Holiday

How would Chinese call the Boojum?

  • Boojum can be approximately transcribed with 不佳 (bù jiā). The pronouncation in English is explained to Chinese people in
  • I also found 布经 (bù jīng) as a Chinese transcription.
  • As for vanishing away, one also could consider to use 不见 (bù jiàn).
  • I call the beast 不佳不见 (bù jiā bù jiàn).



So what is a Snark and what is a Boojum?
Lewis Carroll wrote about The Hunting of the Snark:

As to the meaning of the Snark, I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I’m glad to accept as the meaning of the book. The best that I’ve seen is by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the search after happiness.

  • Snark: Neither the usage in the year 1866 nor the contemporary usage of the term help to understand the meaning of Carroll’s “Snark”. According to Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark has at least one meaning: The pursuit of happiness. To Carroll, that pursuit could be about the Anglican path to happiness. That path is “meagre and hollow, but crisp“, because it is void of any catholic decor and superstition. The dispute about how to achieve happiness is not always comfortable, but it is necessary, because for different people there always are different paths to happiness. In civilized societies the Snark helps us to find a path which optimizes our happiness. As people and their environments keep constantly changing, the Snark hunt will never end.
  • Boojum: I think that Lewis Carroll and Henry Holiday’s tragicomedy (a “tragedy” in Holiday’s opinion) is about how walking the meagre and hollow, but crisp path (Snark) towards happiness (whatever that might be) can turn into terrible fights with very sad ends (Boojum). Unfortunately, also in the 21st century too often good Snark hunters “softly and suddenly vanish away”. They and their work “disappear”, erased by those who walk along the path of the Boojum. It seems that this will never end as well.
            In a nutshell: In my view, a Boojum is a monster or a monstrous process. Once you encounter it (for example at the violent end of a fierce controversy), then you might softly and suddenly vanish away. Thomas Cranmer’s fate is just one out of many examples for how Boojum works.

2017-12-17, update: 2023-09-25



  1. Did Henry Holiday visit Coursham Court before 1876?
  2. Are there letters in the waves, or is it asemic writing or are those lines in the waves just in Henry Holiday’s back cover illustration just something like meaningless hatching?
  3. What is the earliest publishing date of a facsimile reproduction of Charles Darwin’s “Tree of Life” sketch in newspapers, magazines, books etc?
  4. Are there 9 or 10 Snark hunters?
  5. Could jubjub be the sound of a chronometer?
  6. In the 1st Snark stanza the Bellman is “supporting each man on the top of the tide by a finger entwined in his hair”. What does it mean if the hair is the Bellman’s hair?
  7. Could there be a pictorial references to The Hunting ot the Snark in a print by Alfred Parson depicting Charles Darwin’s study?

There probably will be more questions. How about asking them in


What I tell you three times is true!

001    “Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
002        As he landed his crew with care;
003    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
004        By a finger entwined in his hair.

005    “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
006        That alone should encourage the crew.
007    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
008        What I tell you three times is true.

329    “’Tis the voice of the Jubjub!” he suddenly cried.
330        (This man, that they used to call “Dunce.”)
331    “As the Bellman would tell you,” he added with pride,
332        “I have uttered that sentiment once.

333    “’Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
334        You will find I have told it you twice.
335    ’Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
336        If only I’ve stated it thrice.

Referring to Edith Wharton’s biography of Theodore Roosevelt (MG007), Kelly Ramsdell Fineman told us …

… that President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Wharton were huge fans of the Snark. On one visit to the White House, Wharton learned of the following exchange that occurred between the President and the Secretary of the Navy (undoubtedly unaware of Carroll’s poem, or at least unaware that Roosevelt was quoting):

During discussion, Roosevelt said to the secretary of the Navy,

“Mr. Secretary, what I tell you three times is true!”

The Secretary replied stiffly,

“Mr. President, it would never for a moment have occurred to me to impugn your veracity.”


Already Shakespeare applied the Bellman’s Rule. It is stated in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, line #7 and line #335. I said it in Lua – wrote it in Python and Scratch, I made that indeed, but I wholly forgot (when finally done), that Haskell is what you need! So, here is an example for how to implement that rule:

#! /usr/bin/haskell
import Data.List
someAssertions :: [String]
someAssertions =
  ["I am a very stable genius!"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"There are 9 Snark hunters."
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"I am a very stable genius!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"6 * 7 = 42"
  ,"I am a very stable genius!"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
atLeastThrice :: [String] -> [String]
atLeastThrice assertions =
  [head grp | grp <-
    group $ sort assertions, length grp >= 3]

Result (if loaded and executed in GHCi):

*Main> atLeastThrice someAssertions
["6 * 7 = 39","Brexit promises will be kept!","I am a very stable genius!","There are 10 Snark hunters."]


Checking my Haskell implementation of “What I tell you three times is true” using ChatGPT:Here is an implementation of "What I tell you three times is true" in Haskell:

atlLeastThrice :: [String] -> [String]
atLeastThrice assertions =
  [head grp | grp <-
    group $sort assertions, length grp >= 3]

Thank you for providing the implementation in Haskell. Yes, your & implementation looks correct. The "group" function groups the same elements in the list together, then you are filtering out the groups that have less than three elements, and finally returning the head of each group (which is the repeated assertion).


PS: It’s not easy. Truth isn’t truth.

2017-12-16, update: 2023-09-24

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