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
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
2017-09-17, update 2020-08-25
In this image one of the elements has been marked (orange frame) which Henry Holiday borrowed from a 17th century painting (by an anonymous artist). This might be a bit different from the borrowing described by T. S. Eliot in 1920. In the example shown here, the borrowing of the pictorial allusion is inconspicuous. It doesn’t enrich Holiday’s illustration. It’s only purpose might be that of a signpost pointing to another work of art.
2017-09-27, updated 2019-02-25
When the crew of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark is making preparations for seeking that impossible creature, we read that “the Boots and the Broker were sharpening a spade”. This action is so outlandish that the editor and commentator (Martin Gardner) remarks ad locum: “Why in the world were they sharpening a spade?” (Gardner 2006: 44.)
Source: The Semantics and Semiotics of Sharpening a Spade: A possible Explanation of Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, Line 273; by Ezequiel Ferriol, 2017
Sharpening a spade is not outlandish. I saw farmers and gardeners doing that. Sharpening the spade before digging makes work easier. I think that Gardener simply asked what the Boots and the Broker wanted to do with a spade.
Quite probably the Boots and the Broker sharpened a spade because they were going to dig.