Bathing-Machines

Snarks have five marks:

The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
      Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes—
      A sentiment open to doubt.

[The New Belfry of Christ Church, Oxford] is of the best of Dodgson’s Oxford squibs, a good humored but cutting attack on Dean Liddell (the father of Alice) and the wooden cube built to contain the Cathedral bells during operations to build a new tower. Though it can still be found today behind the stone walls of the tower, the wooden cube was always a temporary plan but Dodgson was impatient and the Governing body were slow.

Source: Cristies, 2009-12-04

The Bell in The Hunting of the Snark might be interpreted as a symbol for time and time pressure. But it also might have been used by C.L. Dodgson to continue lampooning Dean Henry Liddell‘s “bonnet-box” project, a meekly geometric belfry to go up on the cathedral at Christ Church. In The New Belfry of Christ Church, a certain “D. C. L.” wrote:

§ 7. On the impetus given to Art in England by the new Belfry, Ch. Ch.

The idea has spread far and wide, and is rapidly pervading all branches of manufacture. Already an enterprising maker of bonnet-boxes is advertising ‘the Belfry pattern’: two builders of bathing-machines[MG025] at Ramsgate have followed his example: one of the great London houses is supplying ‘bar-soap’ cut in the same striking and symmetrical form: and we are credibly informed that Borwick’s Baking Powder and Thorley’s Food for Cattle are now sold in no other shape.

In The Belfry at Christ Church by E.G.W. Bill, edited by Michael Hall and published in Oxoniensia 2013 (Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society), I found this quote from a letter by C.L. Dodgson to The Pall Mall Gazette (1874-10-31):

During the restoration of the Cathedral, when the bells had been removed from the tower, which had become too weak to support them, it was proposed to hang them outside the cathedral in a wooden belfry, which we were assured would be quite inoffensive, as it would hardly be visible from any point of the compass. In an evil hour we consented, and the resulting erection, which cost about a thousand pounds, speedily made us famous for having inflicted upon Oxford the ugliest and most conspicuous monstrosity that probably she has ever seen. This, and the great expense already incurred, forced on us the conviction that we must now erect a stone bell-tower.

 
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2018-05-24, update: 2020-09-02

When the Queen met the Boojum

This is the first page published in snrk.de, 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.

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

Snark too Dark

On the left side of this image comparison you see a scan (source: commons.wikimedia.org) of Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. It already is a quite faithful reproduction of the original illustration.

The image on the right side has been generated from a scan of an original illustration from my own 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark, where I grew the white areas a bit. (First I enlarged the image by 2:1. Then I applied GIMP → Filters → Generic → Erode. After that I scaled the image back to its previous size.)

In prints made by Ian Mortimer (for a limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by Macmillan in 1993) from Joseph Swain’s original woodblocks, the illustration has better quality, but looks even darker. That is as faithful to the original as it can get.

I am not sure whether in the original printing from electrotypes the dark areas of the illustration might have grown wider than it was intended by Henry Holiday. It looks as if too much black ink had spilled into the white areas. But Ian Mortimers wood prints are as dark as the electrotype prints. If this was overprinting, then Lewis Carroll must have tolerated it.

In order to fix overprinting with the technology available to in the 19th century printers, one perhaps would have to redo the electrotypes and then try to erode the black areas using etching. Or just less ink would just do the job. But I don’t know too much about electrotyping (and printing in general), so I am just guessing here. Whatsoever, since many Snark editions hade been sold already, the dark Snark with the well hidden face of the Baker is the standard today (if it wasn’t intentional anyway).

Further reading: Lewis Carroll’s cat-astrophe, and other literary kittens by Mark Brown, The Guardian, 2018-11-22. (A tweet by Susan J. Cheadle drew my attention to that article. “Carroll’s Trump-like anger at the printing of his book Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice Found There is revealed in a new exhibition opening at the British Library which explores and celebrates cats in literature.” (As for cats, you might like my bog post “Kitty”.))

For discussion: Twitter 2 | Twitter 1 | Facebook

 
2018-06-17, updated: 2020-01-20

Carroll’s comments on an Oxford Belfry

In The New Belfry of Christ Church, a certain “D. C. L.” wrote:

§ 7. On the impetus given to Art in England by the new Belfry, Ch. Ch.

The idea has spread far and wide, and is rapidly pervading all branches of manufacture. Already an enterprising maker of bonnet-boxes is advertising ‘the Belfry pattern’: two builders of bathing-machines[MG025] at Ramsgate have followed his example: one of the great London houses is supplying ‘bar-soap’ cut in the same striking and symmetrical form: and we are credibly informed that Borwick’s Baking Powder and Thorley’s Food for Cattle are now sold in no other shape.

In https://snrk.de/page_the-new-belfry I wrote about that already earlier, but today I found a Twitter thread by Thomas Morris (@thomasngmorris) on C.L. Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll’s) The New Belfry of Christ Church, Oxford.


 
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2019-06-08

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