Most readers of The Hunting of the Snark assume that the Snark hunting party consists of 10 members. However, probably for a good reason, only 9 members can be seen in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s ballad. Actually, I really think that the Snark hunting party consists of 9 members only. But if you, as almost everybody else, prefer 10 Snark hunters, that’s fine too. Lewis Carroll gave you (and me) a choice, incidentally(?) in the 9th and the 10th line of his tragicomedy.
Let us take all the crew members in order of their introduction:
- The Bellman, their captain.
- The Boots, a maker of Bonnets and Hoods
- The Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes, but repeatedly complained about the Beaver’s evil lace-making.
- The Broker, to value their goods.
- The Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense, might perhaps have won more than his share. From John Tufail I learned that in Henry Holiday’s illustration the Billiard-marker is preparing a cheat.
- The Banker, engaged at enormous expense, had the whole of their cash in his care.
- 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.
- 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-paw with a bear.
- The Butcher, who only could kill Beavers, but later became best friend with the lace-making animal.
More about the cast:
※ 9 or 10 hunters?
※ Care and Hope
※ The Snark
2017-11-06, completely rewritten: 2021-03-05
But perhaps Holiday’s ruff – and the pose of the Fit Five drawing – was inspired by the Elizabethan drama inherent in Millais’ Boyhood of Raleigh, (1869).
Louise Schweitzer, One Wild Flower (2012)
If you want to be on the safe side, just claim that the meaning of the Snark is elusive. But to the more courageous readers I recommend Louise Schweitzer’s doctoral thesis One Wild Flower.
2017-09-04, updated 2021-03-05
Comment to tweet by Jono Borden:
Retweeted by Musée Unterlinden (2017-12-27):more
Another finding (bycatch from my Snark hunt):
2017-12-27, updated: 2021-02-09
In this image, Charles Darwin’s tree of life sketch of the evolutionary tree (c. July 1837, Notebook B, 1837-1838, page 36) is compared to a “weed” in the lower left corner of Holiday’s illustration.
To my knowledge, the earliest publishing of a facsimile from Darwin’s hand drawing occurred in the 20th century. A “tree” was published in Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. But that was an image arranged by a typographer, not Darwin’s sketch from his Notebook B. Darwin did not keep his notebook B secret after the publication of On the Origin of Species, but I do not know of any presentation of his sketch before 1876. Thus, the resemblance between the “weed” and Darwin’s evolutionary tree probably may be purely incidental.
Are any earlier publishing dates for facsimile reproductions of his drawing known before 1876? Could Darwin’s supporters (probably not Darwin himself) have used his sketch for promoting The Descent of Man in 1871?
I am searching the earliest publishing date of that image e.g. in newspapers, magazines, books etc. Can you give me any hints?
In the illustration, there is no clear resemblance between Darwin and the Banker, who, however, is carrying a tuning fork. On his expedition with the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin used such an instrument for experiments with spiders.
2018-12-09, updated: 2021-01-04
Let’s move on. 2021 is waiting for us.
2017-08-28, update: 2020-08-26
2017-09-17, update 2020-08-25
2018-10-03, updated: 2020-03-01
Here I inserted (2012-08-18) details from Henry Holiday’s Snark illustrations to the 1st Snark fit into Thomas Landseer’s illustration.
You can use the assemblage in compliance with license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Main artists: Conrad Martens & Thomas Landseer, Henry Holiday & Joseph Swain.
more (with a high resolution image) | search “SnarkAssemblage”
2017-09-23, update: 2020-01-30
Help! I am seeing pigs!
In some of his illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, Henry Holiday alluded to The Image Breakers, a 16th century print made by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder. I see at least one of Holiday’s pigs in that print (spoiler) and also something which Henry Holiday could have turned into a Moritz bass tuba.
2019 is the year of the pig. Does that make me see pigs everywhere, or did Henry Holiday see that pig in Gheeraert’s print too?
Actually, I have to confess that I saw the pig already in 2009. But I didn’t mark it then:
A Snark article in the Knight Letter
(with lots of help from the editors Chris Morgan and Mark Burstein)
Source: Knight Letter (ISSN 0193-886X), Fall 2017, Number 99
When I wrote this article, I failed to mention that already in 1973 Elizabeth Sewell pointed out in The Field of Nonsense that a line in Carroll’s poem has a similarity to a line in a limerick by Edward Lear (MG058). I am sorry for not having mentioned that.
I posted my article online with permission of the Knight Letter editors. In the online copy, I fixed the wrong URL kl.snr.de. It’s kl.snrk.de. Furthermore, four additional images have been attached to my online version.
2018-02-09, update 2018-12-30: Reference to Elizabeth Sewell
The drawing depicts Dante Gabriel Rossetti lamenting the death of his second wombat. Mary Hibbs (pen names: Mary Hammond and Sandra Mann) made me aware of the image and of the possibility that the Beaver in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark could have been a reference to Rossetti’s wombat.
The fame of Rossetti’s Wombat is lasting much longer than that poor animal itself, after having been transported for its short life from Australia to Chelsea. But there also was a “Canadian marmot or woodchuck” in Rosetti’s estate in Chelsea, where he moved into the Tudor House in 1862. Actually, Rosetty had two wombats. We also learned from Angus Trumble (Rossetti’s Wombat: A Pre-Raphaelite Obsession in Victorian England, 2003-04-16) that Rosetti had a little zoo in his garden aas well as friends living in his big house like the “deeply unattractive poet and semi-professional sadomasochist Algernon Charles Swinburne — who liked to slide naked down the banisters giest”. I guess that Rosetti’s mini-zoo was kept not even semi-professionally, but together with his friends and his dormouse, Rosetti surely was well prepared for mad tea parties. (See also: G.A.H.! (Gardner’s Annotations Hyperlinked) – The Dormouse and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Wombat, LCNSA.)
In The Hunting of the Snark, the Beaver was the Bellman‘s pet and became the Butcher‘s friend. Can anything from the real world be associated with that Beaver-Bellman-Butcher triple? This might expand my Snark matrix, a matrix with elements from The Hunting of the Snark in its rows and elements from the real world in its columns.
The Butcher reasoning with the Beaver.
This is the illustration (partially inspired by various works of other artists) to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson.
(Bycatch from my Snark hunt: Doré probably recycled Doré.)