The Ocean Chart

089    The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies—
090        Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
091    Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
092        The moment one looked in his face!

093    He had bought a large map representing the sea,
094        Without the least vestige of land:
095    And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
096        A map they could all understand.

097    “What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
098        Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
099    So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
100        “They are merely conventional signs!

101    “Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
102        But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:
103    (So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
104        A perfect and absolute blank!”

105    This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
106        That the Captain they trusted so well
107    Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
108        And that was to tingle his bell.

There seems to be a consensus about Henry Holiday being the creator of the famous map of the Bellman, the “OCEAN-CHART”. That probably is wrong.

The image on the right side shows that Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876) has been published “WITH NINE ILLUSTRATIONS BY HENRY HOLIDAY”. But there are ten illustrations in the book (plus Henry Holiday’s front cover and back cover illustration). So one of these ten illustrations in the book has not been made by Henry Holiday.

In the Knight Letter #87, Doug Howick assumed that Lewis Carroll arranged that chart.

I think that he was right. There is no evidence that the Ocean-Chart (aka the Bellman’s map) has been made by Henry Holiday or by Joseph Swain (the engraver). It is more probable that a typesetter commissioned by Dodgson/Carroll made that typographical illustration.



While the cover page recites that Henry Holiday did “nine illustrations” for this edition, there are in fact ten illustrations if one includes the Bellman’s Map. For this reason, as well as reasons of style, it seems very unlikely that the map was done by Holiday and more likely that it was produced by a typesetter. I am indebted for this information to a Snark Hunter from Munich.

PJ Mode,, 2020

related blog post (2017-09-26) | ocean-chart-vectors.svg.7z

2017-10-11, update: 2021-12-18

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