Tree of Life

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: 2021-04-24

There is more which went into Holiday’s illustration.

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 the Reverend Dodgson was struggling with. I think that one of these serious conflicts was Charles Darwin’s challenge to fundamental religious beliefs. Darwin’s discoveries 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 this 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: 2021-04-18

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.”

Yes, better don’t impugn your leader’s veracity. Even though he will get rid of you rather sooner than later, you don’t need to push it.


The Bellman’s Rule 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, 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."]

PS: It’s not easy. Truth isn’t truth, however, there also is a Double Rule of Three.

2017-12-16, update: 2020-11-03

Eternal Disconnect

All men shall not be saved at the length. They also are worthy of condemnation, who endeavour at this time in restore the dangerous opinion that all men, by they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved, when they have suffered pains for their sins a certain time appointed by God’s justice.

Article 42 on eternal damnation in Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles (1552)


No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm, and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.

Rule 42, with the second part of the sentence having been “completed” by the Bellman in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876)


Pope Francis said eternal damnation is not a torture chamber but distance from God.

Vatican Radio, 2016-11-25 (archive)

If something like eternal damnation (Article 42) would exist, then that also would be an eternal disconnect (Rule 42) between the Abrahamic god and those who adhere to that god.

What are those Forty-Two Articles?

The Forty-Two Articles were intended to summarise Anglican doctrine, as it now existed under the reign of Edward VI, who favoured a Protestant faith. Largely the work of Thomas Cranmer, they were to be short formularies that would demonstrate the faith revealed in Scripture and the existing Catholic creeds. Completed in 1552, they were issued by Royal Mandate on 19 June 1553. The articles were claimed to have received the authority of a Convocation, although this is doubtful. With the coronation of Mary I and the reunion of the Church of England with the Catholic Church, the Articles were never enforced. However, after Mary’s death, they became the basis of the Thirty-nine Articles. In 1563, Convocation met under Archbishop Parker to revise the articles. Convocation passed only 39 of the 42, and Elizabeth reduced the number to 38 by throwing out Article XXIX to avoid offending her subjects with Catholic leanings. In 1571, the Article XXIX, despite the opposition of Bishop Edmund Gheast, was inserted, to the effect that the wicked do not eat the Body of Christ. This was done following the queen’s excommunication by the Pope Pius V in 1570. That act destroyed any hope of reconciliation with Rome and it was no longer necessary to fear that Article XXIX would offend Catholic sensibilities. The Articles, increased to Thirty-nine, were ratified by the Queen, and the bishops and clergy were required to assent.

Source: Wikipedia, 2018-03-15

Henry VIII was succeeded by his son, Edward VI, in 1547. During Edward’s reign, the Church of England adopted a stronger Protestant identity. The Book of Common Prayer of 1549 authorised a reformed liturgy, and this prayer book was revised in 1552 to make it more explicitly Protestant. To make the English Church fully Protestant, Cranmer also envisioned a reform of canon law and the creation of a concise doctrinal statement, which would become the Forty-two Articles. Work on a doctrinal statement was delayed by Cranmer’s efforts to forge a doctrinal consensus among the various Protestant churches to counter the work of the Catholic Council of Trent. When this proved impossible, Cranmer turned his attention to defining what the Church of England believed.
        The Forty-two Articles were drafted by Cranmer and a small group of fellow Protestants. The title page claimed that the articles were approved by Convocation when in reality they were never discussed or adopted by the clerical body. They were also never approved by Parliament. The articles were issued by Royal Mandate on 19 June 1553. The articles were to be short formularies that would demonstrate the faith revealed in Scripture and the existing ecumenical creeds. The theology of the articles has been described as a “restrained” Calvinism.
        Edward died in 1553. With the coronation of Mary I and the reunion of the Church of England with the Catholic Church, the articles were never enforced. However, after Mary’s death, they became the basis of the Thirty-nine Articles. In 1563, Convocation met under Archbishop Parker to revise the articles. Convocation passed only 39 of the 42, and Elizabeth reduced the number to 38 by throwing out Article XXIX to avoid offending her subjects with Catholic leanings. In 1571, despite the opposition of Bishop Edmund Gheast, Article XXIX was re-inserted, declaring that the wicked do not eat the Body of Christ. This was done following the queen’s excommunication by the Pope Pius V in 1570. That act destroyed any hope of reconciliation with Rome and it was no longer necessary to fear that Article XXIX would offend Catholic sensibilities. The Articles, increased to Thirty-nine, were ratified by the Queen, and the bishops and clergy were required to assent.

Source: Wikipedia, 2021-03-28

I assume, that Carroll’s “forty-two” serves as a reference to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles. And Rev. Karen Gardiner suggested in The Carrollian (July 2018, № 31, p.25~41), that this is a reference mainly to Article 42 (about eternal damnation) in the Forty-Two Articles.

As far as I understand, eternal damnation was a controversial issue in the era of the Oxford Movement, and the Rev. C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) objected to the belief in eternal punishment in 1897, but his article on Eternal Punishment was not published during his lifetime. In the article, one of Dodgson’s points is that “αἰών” should be translated as “of indefinite duration”, not as “eternal”. (See p. 52 in Robert D. Sutherland’s Language and Lewis Carroll, 1970.) The controversy on eternal punishment seems not to have ended yet .

Today, “42” mostly is known as an answer to an unknown question. That answer had been revealed in a popular travel guide and invented by Douglas Adams as an answer to that unknown question. Of course neither Lewis Carroll nor Douglas Adams would have provided us with spoilers which could help us to understand their “42”. Holding your readers responsible for their interpretations is much more fun to writers like Adams and Carroll. Therefore Adams told us that the “42” just popped up in his mind out of the air when he enjoyed the view of his garden. And Carroll told us that the last line “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see!” in The Hunting of the Snark popped up in his mind during a walk near Guilford (incidentally the birthplace of Ford Prefect, and then again not his real birthplace).

Lewis Carroll’s Snark and Douglas Adams’ Guide (the BBC radio series) have more in common than just having fits instead of chapters. But among both authors, it probably was only the Reverend Dodgson to whom “42” had a special relevance in the history of the church, that vessel which had been snarked so many times.



2017-12-25, updated: 2021-03-28

9.5±0.5 Snark Hunters

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:

  1. The Bellman, their captain.
  2. The Boots, a maker of Bonnets and Hoods
  3. The Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes, but repeatedly complained 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. From John Tufail I learned that in Henry Holiday’s illustration the Billiard-marker is preparing a cheat.
  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-paw with a bear.
  9. 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, updated: 2021-03-05

When the Queen met the Boojum

This is the first page published in, a blog which was set up in 2017. It’s mostly about Lewis Carroll‘s, Henry Holiday‘s and Joseph Swain‘s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark.

In his Illuminated Snark, John Tufail assumed that the night sky in the front cover of The Hunting of the Snark could be a map. Together with my assumption that Henry Holiday drew inspiration from several paintings by Marcus Gheeraerts (I+II), John’s paper helped me to find the Ditchley Portrait. That again helped me to find the painting by an unknown artist depicting Elizabeth I at old age.


2017-08-28, update 2020-02-27

Snark Assemblage

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

Repetition increases perceived truth

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

October 2019, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 1705–1710

Repetition increases perceived truth equally for plausible and implausible statements

Lisa K. Fazio, David G. Rand, Gordon Pennycook

Repetition increases the likelihood that a statement will be judged as true. This illusory truth effect is well established; however, it has been argued that repetition will not affect belief in unambiguous statements. When individuals are faced with obviously true or false statements, repetition should have no impact. We report a simulation study and a preregistered experiment that investigate this idea. Contrary to many intuitions, our results suggest that belief in all statements is increased by repetition. The observed illusory truth effect is largest for ambiguous items, but this can be explained by the psychometric properties of the task, rather than an underlying psychological mechanism that blocks the impact of repetition for implausible items. Our results indicate that the illusory truth effect is highly robust and occurs across all levels of plausibility. Therefore, even highly implausible statements will become more plausible with enough repetition.

Keywords: Truth, Repetition, Illusory truth, Plausibility

Cite the article as: Fazio, L.K., Rand, D.G. & Pennycook, G. Psychon Bull Rev (2019) 26: 1705.


Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News
Researchers identify a major risk factor for pernicious effects of misinformation.
By David Z. Hambrick, Madeline Marquardt on February 6
Scientific American, 2018


What I tell you three times is true!


In this allegorical English School painting (ca. 1610, by an unknown painter) of Queen Elizabeth I at old age you see the allegories of Death and of Father Time.

In the inset you see on the left side a depiction of the Bellman from Henry Holiday’s front cover illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876).

Only now, after a few years of having found this painting, I recognized, that not only Henry Holiday’s Bellman looks like that unknown painter’s Father Time, But also the posture of the old queen and the old man are similar.



twitter 2 | twitter 1

2018-10-11, updated: 2019-07-01

Charles Darwin

The Bellman and Charles Darwin.

As for Darwin’s beard see also: Charles Darwin’s wild whiskers in From Charles Darwin’s beard to George Eliot’s right hand: 4 famous Victorian bodily quirks

In an early preparatory draft, the Bellman had a quite different face. Henry Holiday later used that face (an Oxford colleague?) in another illustration.

2017-08-27, updated: 2019-05-30

Face Change

In an early draft to the illustration The Crew on Deck in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, the illustrator Henry Holiday gave the Bellman a different face than the one which the Bellman had in the final illustration. Henry Holiday didn’t discard the original face. He moved that round faced character (an Oxford colleague?) to the illustration The Barrister’s Dream and then turned the Bellman in the illustration The Crew on Deck into a Darwin look-alike.

2018-03-31, updated: 2019-05-30

Said Thrice

Nose is a Nose is a Nose

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 It’s Furthermore, four additional images have been attached to my online version.

read more



2018-02-09, update 2018-12-30: Reference to Elizabeth Sewell

»To haunt a man of forty-two«

“No doubt,” said I, “they settled who
      Was fittest to be sent
Yet still to choose a brat like you,
To haunt a man of forty-two,
      Was no great compliment!”

In his 29th annotation (MG029) to The Hunting of the Snark, Martin Gardiner stated:

Curiously, Carroll refers to his age as 42 in his poem Phantasmagoria (Canto 1, Stanza 16) though at the time [1869 or earlier] the poem was written, he was still in his thirties. The number 42 certainly seems to have had some sort of special significance for Carroll.

To me that simply means that for Carroll the number 42 does not refer to his own age.