Part 5 out of 7
There is indeed "more to come." When I came to piece
together the mass of accumulated material I found it was
quite _double_ what could be put into one volume. So I
divided it in the middle; and I hope to bring out "Sylvie
and Bruno Concluded" next Christmas--if, that is, my
Heavenly Master gives me the time and the strength for the
task; but I am nearly 60, and have no right to count on
years to come.
In signing my real name, let me beg you not to let the
information go further--I have an _intense_ dislike to
personal publicity; and, the more people there are who know
nothing of "Lewis Carroll" save his books, the happier I am.
Believe me, sincerely yours,
Charles L. Dodgson.
I have made no attempt to chronicle all the games and puzzles which
Lewis Carroll invented. A list of such as have been published will be
found in the Bibliographical chapter. He intended to bring out a book
of "Original Games and Puzzles," with illustrations by Miss E.
Gertrude Thomson. The MS. was, I believe, almost complete before his
death, and one, at least, of the pictures had been drawn. On June 30th
he wrote in his Diary, "Invented what I think is a new kind of riddle.
A Russian had three sons. The first, named Rab, became a lawyer; the
second, Ymra, became a soldier; the third became a sailor. What was
The following letter written to a child-friend, Miss E. Drury,
illustrates Lewis Carroll's hatred of bazaars:--
Ch. Ch., Oxford, _Nov_. 10, 1892.
My dear Emmie,--I object to _all_ bazaars on the general
principle that they are very undesirable schools for young
ladies, in which they learn to be "too fast" and forward,
and are more exposed to undesirable acquaintances than in
ordinary society. And I have, besides that, special
objections to bazaars connected with charitable or religious
purposes. It seems to me that they desecrate the religious
object by their undesirable features, and that they take the
reality out of all charity by getting people to think that
they are doing a good action, when their true motive is
amusement for themselves. Ruskin has put all this far better
than I can possibly do, and, if I can find the passage, and
find the time to copy it, I will send it you. But _time_ is
a very scarce luxury for me!
Always yours affectionately,
In his later years he used often to give lectures on various subjects
to children. He gave a series on "Logic" at the Oxford Girls' High
School, but he sometimes went further afield, as in the following
Went, as arranged with Miss A. Ottley, to the High School at
Worcester, on a visit. At half-past three I had an audience
of about a hundred little girls, aged, I should think, from
about six to fourteen. I showed them two arithmetic puzzles
on the black-board, and told them "Bruno's Picnic." At
half-past seven I addressed some serious words to a second
audience of about a hundred elder girls, probably from
fifteen to twenty--an experience of the deepest interest to
The illustration on the next page will be best explained by the
following letter which I have received from Mr. Walter Lindsay, of
Phila., _September_ 12, 1898.
Dear Sir,--I shall be very glad to furnish what information
I can with respect to the "Mechanical Humpty Dumpty" which I
constructed a few years ago, but I must begin by
acknowledging that, in one sense at least, I did not
"invent" the figure. The idea was first put into my head by
an article in the _Cosmopolitan_, somewhere about 1891, I
suppose, describing a similar contrivance. As a devoted
admirer of the "Alice" books, I determined to build a Humpty
Dumpty of my own; but I left the model set by the author of
the article mentioned, and constructed the figure on
entirely different lines. In the first place, the figure as
described in the magazine had very few movements, and not
very satisfactory ones at that; and in the second place, no
attempt whatever was made to reproduce, even in a general
way, the well-known appearance of Tenniel's drawing. Humpty,
when completed, was about two feet and a half high. His
face, of course, was white; the lower half of the egg was
dressed in brilliant blue. His stockings were grey, and the
famous cravat orange, with a zigzag pattern in blue. I am
sorry to say that the photograph hardly does him justice;
but he had travelled to so many different places during his
career, that he began to be decidedly out of shape before he
sat for his portrait.
[Illustration: The Mechanical "Humpty Dumpty."
_From a photograph._]
When Humpty was about to perform, a short "talk" was usually
given before the curtain rose, explaining the way in which
the Sheep put the egg on the shelf at the back of the little
shop, and how Alice went groping along to it. And then, just
as the explanation had reached the opening of the chapter on
Humpty Dumpty, the curtain rose, and Humpty was discovered,
sitting on the wall, and gazing into vacancy. As soon as the
audience had had time to recover, Alice entered, and the
conversation was carried on just as it is in the book.
Humpty Dumpty gesticulated with his arms, rolled his eyes,
raised his eyebrows, frowned, turned up his nose in scorn at
Alice's ignorance, and smiled from ear to ear when he shook
hands with her. Besides this, his mouth kept time with his
words all through the dialogue, which added very greatly to
his life-like appearance.
The effect of his huge face, as it changed from one
expression to another, was ludicrous in the extreme, and we
were often obliged to repeat sentences in the conversation
(to "go back to the last remark but one") because the
audience laughed so loudly over Humpty Dumpty's expression
of face that they drowned what he was trying to say. The
funniest effect was the change from the look of
self-satisfied complacency with which he accompanied the
words: "The king has promised me--" to that of towering rage
when Alice innocently betrays her knowledge of the secret.
At the close of the scene, when Alice has vainly endeavoured
to draw him into further conversation, and at last walks
away in disgust, Humpty loses his balance on the wall,
recovers himself, totters again, and then falls off
backwards; at the same time a box full of broken glass is
dropped on the floor behind the scenes, to represent the
"heavy crash," which "shook the forest from end to
end";--and the curtain falls.
Now, as to how it was all done. Humpty was made of barrel
hoops, and covered with stiff paper and muslin. His eyes
were round balls of rags, covered with muslin, drawn
smoothly, and with the pupil and iris marked on the front.
These eyes were pivoted to a board, fastened just behind the
eye-openings in the face. To the eyeballs were sewed strong
pieces of tape, which passed through screw-eyes on the edges
of the board, and so down to a row of levers which were
hinged in the lower part of the figure. One lever raised
both eyes upward, another moved them both to the left, and
so on. The eyebrows were of worsted and indiarubber knitted
together. They were fastened at the ends, and raised and
lowered by fine white threads passing through small holes in
the face, and also operated by levers. The arms projected
into the interior of the machine, and the gestures were made
by moving the short ends inside. The right hand contained a
spring clothes-pin, by which he was enabled to hold the
note-book in which Alice set down the celebrated problem--
The movement of the mouth, in talking, was produced by a
long tape, running down to a pedal, which was controlled by
the foot of the performer. And the smile consisted of long
strips of red tape, which were drawn out through slits at
the corners of the mouth by means of threads which passed
through holes in the sides of the head. The performer--who
was always your humble servant--stood on a box behind the
wall, his head just reaching the top of the egg, which was
open all the way up the back. At the lower end of the
figure, convenient to the hands of the performer, was the
row of levers, like a little keyboard; and by striking
different chords on the keys, any desired expression could
be produced on the face.
Of course, a performance of this kind without a good Alice
would be unutterably flat; but the little girl who played
opposite to Humpty, Miss Nellie K---, was so exactly the
counterpart of Alice, both in appearance and disposition,
that most children thought she was the original, right out
of the book.
Humpty still exists, but he has not seen active life for
some years. His own popularity was the cause of his
retirement; for having given a number of performances (for
Charity, of course), and delighted many thousands of
children of all ages, the demands upon his time, from
Sunday-schools and other institutions, became so numerous
that the performers were obliged to withdraw him in
self-defence. He was a great deal of trouble to build, but
the success he met with and the pleasure he gave more than
repaid me for the bother; and I am sure that any one else
who tries it will reach the same conclusion.
At the beginning of 1893 a fierce logical battle was being waged
between Lewis Carroll and Mr. Cook Wilson, Professor of Logic at
Oxford. The Professor, in spite of the countless arguments that Mr.
Dodgson hurled at his head, would not confess that he had committed a
On February 5th the Professor appears to have conceded a point, for
Mr. Dodgson writes: "Heard from Cook Wilson, who has long declined to
read a paper which I sent January 12th, and which seems to me to prove
the fallacy of a view of his about Hypotheticals. He now offers to
read it, if _I_ will study a proof he sent, that another problem
of mine had contradictory _data_. I have accepted his offer, and
studied and answered his paper. So I now look forward hopefully to the
result of his reading mine."
The hopes which he entertained were doomed to be disappointed; the
controversy bore no fruits save a few pamphlets and an enormous amount
of correspondence, and finally the two antagonists had to agree to
As a rule Mr. Dodgson was a stern opponent of music-halls and
music-hall singers; but he made one or two exceptions with regard to
the latter. For Chevalier he had nothing but praise; he heard him at
one of his recitals, for he never in his life entered a "Variety
Theatre." I give the passage from his Diary:--
Went to hear Mr. Albert Chevalier's Recital. I only knew of
him as being now recognised as _facile princeps_ among
music-hall singers, and did not remember that I had seen him
twice or oftener on the stage--first as "Mr. Hobbs" in
"Little Lord Fauntleroy," and afterwards as a "horsy" young
man in a _matinee_ in which Violet Vanbrugh appeared. He was
decidedly _good_ as an actor; but as a comic singer (with
considerable powers of pathos as well) he is quite
first-rate. His chief merit seems to be the earnestness with
which he throws himself into the work. The songs (mostly his
own writing) were quite inoffensive, and very funny. I am
very glad to be able to think that his influence on public
taste is towards refinement and purity. I liked best "The
Future Mrs. 'Awkins," with its taking tune, and "My Old
Dutch," which revealed powers that, I should think, would
come out grandly in Robsonian parts, such as "The Porter's
Knot." "The Little Nipper" was also well worth hearing.
Mr. Dodgson's views on Sunday Observance were old-fashioned, but he
lived up to them, and did not try to force them upon people with whose
actions he had no concern. They were purely matters of "private
opinion" with him. On October 2nd he wrote to Miss E.G. Thomson, who
was illustrating his "Three Sunsets":--
Would you kindly do _no_ sketches, or photos, for
_me_, on a Sunday? It is, in _my_ view (of
_course_ I don't condemn any one who differs from me)
inconsistent with keeping the day holy. I do _not_ hold
it to be the Jewish "Sabbath," but I _do_ hold it to be
"the Lord's Day," and so to be made very distinct from the
In December, the Logical controversy being over for a time, Mr.
Dodgson invented a new problem to puzzle his mathematical friends
with, which was called "The Monkey and Weight Problem." A rope is
supposed to be hung over a wheel fixed to the roof of a building; at
one end of the rope a weight is fixed, which exactly counterbalances a
monkey which is hanging on to the other end. Suppose that the monkey
begins to climb the rope, what will be the result? The following
extract from the Diary illustrates the several possible answers which
may be given:--
Got Professor Clifton's answer to the "Monkey and Weight
Problem." It is very curious, the different views taken by
good mathematicians. Price says the weight goes _up_, with
increasing velocity; Clifton (and Harcourt) that it goes
_up_, at the same rate as the monkey; while Sampson says
that it goes _down_.
On December 24th Mr. Dodgson received the first twelve copies of
"Sylvie and Bruno Concluded," just about four years after the
appearance of the first part of the story. In this second volume the
two fairy children are as delightful as ever; it also contains what I
think most people will agree to be the most beautiful poem Lewis
Carroll ever wrote, "Say, what is the spell, when her fledglings are
cheeping?" (p. 305). In the preface he pays a well-deserved compliment
to Mr. Harry Furniss for his wonderfully clever pictures; he also
explains how the book was written, showing that many of the amusing
remarks of Bruno had been uttered by real children. He makes
allusion to two books, which only his death prevented him from
finishing--"Original Games and Puzzles," and a paper on "Sport,"
viewed from the standpoint of the humanitarian. From a literary point
of view the second volume of "Sylvie and Bruno" lacks unity; a fairy
tale is all very well, and a novel also is all very well, but the
combination of the two is surely a mistake. However, the reader who
cares more for the spirit than the letter will not notice this
blemish; to him "Sylvie and Bruno Concluded" will be interesting and
helpful, as the revelation of a very beautiful personality.
You have made everything turn out just as I should have
chosen [writes a friend to whom he had sent a copy], and
made right all that disappointed me in the first part. I
have not only to thank you for writing an interesting book,
but for writing a helpful one too. I am sure that "Sylvie
and Bruno" has given me many thoughts that will help me all
life through. One cannot know "Sylvie" without being the
better for it. You may say that "Mister Sir" is not
consciously meant to be yourself, but I cannot help feeling
that he is. As "Mister Sir" talks, I hear your voice in
every word. I think, perhaps, that is why I like the book so
I have received an interesting letter from Mr. Furniss, bearing upon
the subject of "Sylvie and Bruno," and Lewis Carroll's methods of
work. The letter runs as follows:--
I have illustrated stories of most of our leading authors,
and I can safely say that Lewis Carroll was the only one who
cared to understand the illustrations to his own book. He
was the W. S. Gilbert for children, and, like Gilbert
producing one of his operas, Lewis Carroll took infinite
pains to study every detail in producing his extraordinary
and delightful books. Mr. Gilbert, as every one knows, has a
model of the stage; he puts up the scenery, draws every
figure, moves them about just as he wishes the real actors
to move about. Lewis Carroll was precisely the same. This,
of course, led to a great deal of work and trouble, and made
the illustrating of his books more a matter of artistic
interest than of professional profit. I was _seven years_
illustrating his last work, and during that time I had the
pleasure of many an interesting meeting with the fascinating
author, and I was quite repaid for the trouble I took, not
only by his generous appreciation of my efforts, but by the
liberal remuneration he gave for the work, and also by the
charm of having intercourse with the interesting, if
somewhat erratic genius.
A book very different in character from "Sylvie and Bruno," but under
the same well-known pseudonym, appeared about the same time. I refer
to "Pillow Problems," the second part of the series entitled "Curiosa
"Pillow Problems thought out during wakeful hours" is a collection of
mathematical problems, which Mr. Dodgson solved while lying awake at
night. A few there are to which the title is not strictly applicable,
but all alike were worked out mentally before any diagram or word of
the solution was committed to paper.
The author says that his usual practice was to write down the
_answer_ first of all, and afterwards the question and its
solution. His motive, he says, for publishing these problems was not
from any desire to display his powers of mental calculation. Those who
knew him will readily believe this, though they will hardly be
inclined to accept his own modest estimate of those powers.
Still the book was intended, not for the select few who can scale the
mountain heights of advanced mathematics, but for the much larger
class of ordinary mathematicians, and they at least will be able to
appreciate the gifted author, and to wonder how he could follow so
clearly in his head the mental diagrams and intricate calculations
involved in some of these "Pillow Problems."
His chief motive in publishing the book was to show how, by a little
determination, the mind "can be made to concentrate itself on some
intellectual subject (not necessarily mathematics), and thus banish
those petty troubles and vexations which most people experience, and
which--unless the mind be otherwise occupied--_will_ persist in
invading the hours of night." And this remedy, as he shows, serves a
higher purpose still. In a paragraph which deserves quoting at length,
as it gives us a momentary glimpse of his refined and beautiful
character, he says:--
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!
It would have robbed the book of its true character if Lewis Carroll
had attempted to improve on the work done in his head, and
consequently we have the solutions exactly as he worked them out
before setting them down on paper. Of the Problems themselves there is
not much to be said here; they are original, and some of them (e.g.,
No. 52) expressed in a style peculiarly the author's own. The subjects
included in their range are Arithmetic, Algebra, Pure Geometry
(Plane), Trigonometry, Algebraic Geometry, and Differential Calculus;
and there is one Problem to which Mr. Dodgson says he "can proudly
point," in "Transcendental Probabilities," which is here given: "A bag
contains two counters, as to which nothing is known except that each
is either black or white. Ascertain their colour without taking them
out of the bag." The answer is, "One is black and the other white."
For the solution the reader is referred to the book itself, a study of
which will well repay him, apart from the chance he may have of
discovering some mistake, and the consequent joy thereat!
A few extracts from the Diary follow, written during the early part of
_Feb._ 1_st.--Dies notandus._ As Ragg was reading
Prayers, and Bayne and I were the only M.A.'s in the stalls,
I tried the experiment of going to the lectern and reading
the lesson. I did not hesitate much, but feel it too great a
strain on the nerves to be tried often. Then I went to the
Latin Chapel for Holy Communion. Only Paget (Dean) and Dr.
Huntley came: so, for the first time in my recollection, it
had to be given up. Then I returned to my rooms, and found
in _The Standard_ the very important communication from
Gladstone denying the rumour that he has decided upon
resigning the Premiership, but admitting that, owing to
failing powers, it may come at any moment. It will make a
complete change in the position of politics! Then I got,
from Cook Wilson, what I have been so long trying for--an
accepted transcript of the fallacious argument over which we
have had an (apparently) endless fight. I think the end is
_Feb._ 4_th._--The idea occurred to me that it
might be a pleasant variation in Backgammon to throw
_three_ dice, and choose any two of the three numbers.
The average quality of the throws would be much raised. I
reckon that the chance of "6, 6" would be about two and a
half what it now is. It would also furnish a means, similar
to giving points in billiards, for equalising players: the
weaker might use three dice, the other using two. I think of
calling it "Thirdie Backgammon."
_March_ 31_st._--Have just got printed, as a
leaflet, "A Disputed Point in Logic"--the point Professor
Wilson and I have been arguing so long. This paper is wholly
in his own words, and puts the point very clearly. I think
of submitting it to all my logical friends.
"A Disputed Point in Logic" appeared also, I believe, in
_Mind_, July, 1894.
This seems a fitting place in which to speak of a side of Mr.
Dodgson's character of which he himself was naturally very
reticent--his wonderful generosity. My own experience of him was of a
man who was always ready to do one a kindness, even though it put him
to great expense and inconvenience; but of course I did not know,
during his lifetime, that my experience of him was the same as that of
all his other friends. The income from his books and other sources,
which might have been spent in a life of luxury and selfishness, he
distributed lavishly where he saw it was needed, and in order to do
this he always lived in the most simple way. To make others happy was
the Golden Rule of his life. On August 31st he wrote, in a letter to a
friend, Miss Mary Brown: "And now what am I to tell you about myself?
To say I am quite well 'goes without saying' with me. In fact, my life
is so strangely free from all trial and trouble that I cannot doubt my
own happiness is one of the talents entrusted to me to 'occupy' with,
till the Master shall return, by doing something to make other lives
In several instances, where friends in needy circumstances have
written to him for loans of money, he has answered them, "I will not
_lend_, but I will _give_ you the L100 you ask for." To help
child-friends who wanted to go on the stage, or to take up music as a
profession, he has introduced them to leading actors and actresses,
paid for them having lessons in singing from the best masters, sent
round circulars to his numerous acquaintances begging them to
patronise the first concert or recital.
In writing his books he never attempted to win popularity by acceding
to the prejudices and frailties of the age--his one object was to make
his books useful and helpful and ennobling. Like the great Master, in
whose steps he so earnestly strove to follow, he "went about doing
good." And one is glad to think that even his memory is being made to
serve the same purpose. The "Alice" cots are a worthy sequel to his
Even Mr. Dodgson, with all his boasted health, was not absolutely
proof against disease, for on February 12, 1895, he writes:--
Tenth day of a rather bad attack of influenza of the ague
type. Last night the fever rose to a great height, partly
caused by a succession of _five_ visitors. One,
however, was of my own seeking--Dean Paget, to whom I was
thankful to be able to tell all I have had in my mind for a
year or more, as to our Chapel services _not_ being as
helpful as they could be made. The chief fault is extreme
_rapidity_. I long ago gave up the attempt to say the
Confession at that pace; and now I say it, and the Lord's
Prayer, close together, and never hear a word of the
Absolution. Also many of the Lessons are quite unedifying.
On July 11th he wrote to my brother on the subject of a paper about
Eternal Punishment, which was to form the first of a series of essays
on Religious Difficulties:--
I am sending you the article on "Eternal Punishment" as it
is. There is plenty of matter for consideration, as to which
I shall be glad to know your views.
Also if there are other points, connected with religion,
where you feel that perplexing difficulties exist, I should
be glad to know of them in order to see whether I can see my
way to saying anything helpful.
But I had better add that I do not want to deal with any
such difficulties, _unless_ they tend to affect _life.
Speculative_ difficulties which do not affect conduct, and
which come into collision with any of the principles which I
intend to state as axioms, lie outside the scope of my book.
These axioms are:--
(1) Human conduct is capable of being _right_, and of
(2) I possess Free-Will, and am able to choose between
right and wrong.
(3) I have in some cases chosen wrong.
(4) I am responsible for choosing wrong.
(5) I am responsible to a person.
(6) This person is perfectly good.
I call them axioms, because I have no _proofs_ to offer for
them. There will probably be others, but these are all I can
think of just now.
The Rev. H. Hopley, Vicar of Westham, has sent me the following
interesting account of a sermon Mr. Dodgson preached at his church:--
In the autumn of 1895 the Vicar of Eastbourne was to have
preached my Harvest Sermon at Westham, a village five miles
away; but something or other intervened, and in the middle
of the week I learned he could not come. A mutual friend
suggested my asking Mr. Dodgson, who was then in Eastbourne,
to help me, and I went with him to his rooms. I was quite a
stranger to Mr. Dodgson; but knowing from hearsay how
reluctant he usually was to preach, I apologised and
explained my position--with Sunday so near at hand. After a
moment's hesitation he consented, and in a most genial
manner made me feel quite at ease as to the abruptness of my
petition. On the morrow he came over to my vicarage, and
made friends with my daughters, teaching them some new
manner of playing croquet [probably Castle Croquet], and
writing out for them puzzles and anagrams that he had
The following letter was forwarded on the Saturday:--
"7, Lushington Road, Eastbourne,
_September_ 26, 1895.
Dear Mr. Hopley,--I think you will excuse the liberty
I am taking in asking you to give me some food after the
service on Sunday, so that I may have no need to catch the
train, but can walk back at leisure. This will save me from
the worry of trying to conclude at an exact minute, and
you, perhaps, from the trouble of finding short hymns, to save
time. It will not, I hope, cause your cook any trouble, as
my regular rule here is _cold_ dinner on Sundays. This not
from any "Sabbatarian" theory, but from the wish to let our
_employes_ have the day _wholly_ at their own disposal.
I beg Miss Hopley's acceptance of the enclosed papers--
(puzzles and diagrams.)
Believe me, very truly yours,
On Sunday our grand old church was crowded, and, although
our villagers are mostly agricultural labourers, yet they
breathlessly listened to a sermon forty minutes long, and
apparently took in every word of it. It was quite extempore,
in very simple words, and illustrated by some delightful and
most touching stories of children. I only wish there had
been a shorthand-writer there.
In the vestry after service, while he was signing his name
in the Preachers' Book, a church officer handed him a bit of
paper. "Mr. Dodgson, would you very kindly write your name
on that?" "Sir!" drawing himself up sternly--"Sir, I never
do that for any one"--and then, more kindly, "You see, if I
did it for one, I must do it for all."
An amusing incident in Mr. Dodgson's life is connected with the
well-known drama, "Two Little Vagabonds." I give the story as he wrote
it in his Diary:--
_Nov._ 28_th.--Matinee_ at the Princess's of "Two Little
Vagabonds," a very sensational melodrama, capitally acted.
"Dick" and "Wally" were played by Kate Tyndall and Sydney
Fairbrother, whom I guess to be about fifteen and twelve.
Both were excellent, and the latter remarkable for the
perfect realism of her acting. There was some beautiful
religious dialogue between "Wally" and a hospital nurse--
most reverently spoken, and reverently received by the
_Dec._ 17_th._--I have given books to Kate Tyndall and
Sydney Fairbrother, and have heard from them, and find I was
entirely mistaken in taking them for children. Both are
The following is an extract from a letter written in 1896 to one of
his sisters, in allusion to a death which had recently occurred in the
It is getting increasingly difficult now to remember _which_
of one's friends remain alive, and _which_ have gone "into
the land of the great departed, into the silent land." Also,
such news comes less and less as a shock, and more and more
one realises that it is an experience each of _us_ has to
face before long. That fact is getting _less_ dreamlike to
me now, and I sometimes think what a grand thing it will be
to be able to say to oneself, "Death is _over_ now; there is
not _that_ experience to be faced again."
I am beginning to think that, if the _books I_ am still
hoping to write are to be done _at all,_ they must be done
_now_, and that I am _meant_ thus to utilise the splendid
health I have had, unbroken, for the last year and a half,
and the working powers that are fully as great as, if not
greater, than I have ever had. I brought with me here (this
letter was written from Eastbourne) the MS., such as it is
(very fragmentary and unarranged) for the book about
religious difficulties, and I meant, when I came here, to
devote myself to that, but I have changed my plan. It seems
to me that _that_ subject is one that hundreds of living men
could do, if they would only try, _much_ better than I
could, whereas there is no living man who could (or at any
rate who would take the trouble to) arrange and finish and
publish the second part of the "Logic." Also, I _have_ the
Logic book in my head; it will only need three or four
months to write out, and I have _not_ got the other book in
my head, and it might take years to think out. So I have
decided to get Part ii. finished _first_, and I am working
at it day and night. I have taken to early rising, and
sometimes sit down to my work before seven, and have one and
a half hours at it before breakfast. The book will be a
great novelty, and will help, I fully believe, to make the
study of Logic _far_ easier than it now is. And it will, I
also believe, be a help to religious thought by giving
_clearness_ of conception and of expression, which may
enable many people to face, and conquer, many religious
difficulties for themselves. So I do really regard it as
work for _God_.
Another letter, written a few months later to Miss Dora Abdy, deals
with the subject of "Reverence," which Mr. Dodgson considered a virtue
not held in sufficient esteem nowadays:--
My Dear Dora,--In correcting the proofs of "Through the
Looking-Glass" (which is to have "An Easter Greeting"
inserted at the end), I am reminded that in that letter (I
enclose a copy), I had tried to express my thoughts on the
very subject we talked about last night--the relation of
_laughter_ to religious thought. One of the hardest things
in the world is to convey a meaning accurately from one mind
to another, but the _sort_ of meaning I want to convey to
other minds is that while the laughter of _joy_ is in full
harmony with our deeper life, the laughter of amusement
should be kept apart from it. The danger is too great of
thus learning to look at solemn things in a spirit of
_mockery_, and to seek in them opportunities for exercising
_wit_. That is the spirit which has spoiled, for me, the
beauty of some of the Bible. Surely there is a deep meaning
in our prayer, "Give us an heart to love and _dread_ Thee."
We do not mean _terror_: but a dread that will harmonise
with love; "respect" we should call it as towards a human
being, "reverence" as towards God and all religious things.
In his "Game of Logic" Lewis Carroll introduced an original method of
working logical problems by means of diagrams; this method he
superseded in after years for a much simpler one, the method of
In "Symbolic Logic, Part i." (London: Macmillan, 1896) he employed
both methods. The Introduction is specially addressed "to Learners,"
whom Lewis Carroll advises to read the book straight through, without
This Rule [he says] is very desirable with other kinds of
books--such as novels, for instance, where you may easily
spoil much of the enjoyment you would otherwise get from the
story by dipping into it further on, so that what the author
meant to be a pleasant surprise comes to you as a matter of
course. Some people, I know, make a practice of looking into
vol. iii. first, just to see how the story ends; and perhaps
it _is_ as well just to know that all ends
_happily_--that the much persecuted lovers _do_
marry after all, that he is proved to be quite innocent of
the murder, that the wicked cousin is completely foiled in
his plot, and gets the punishment he deserves, and that the
rich uncle in India (_Qu._ Why in _India? Ans._
Because, somehow, uncles never _can_ get rich anywhere
else) dies at exactly the right moment--before taking the
trouble to read vol i. This, I say, is _just_
permissible with a _novel_, where vol. iii. has a
_meaning_, even for those who have not read the earlier
part of the story; but with a _scientific_ book, it is
sheer insanity. You will find the latter part
_hopelessly_ unintelligible, if you read it before
reaching it in regular course.
* * * * *
Logic-lectures--Irreverent anecdotes--Tolerance of his
religious views--A mathematical discovery--"The Little
Minister" Sir George Baden-Powell--Last illness--"Thy will
be done"--"Wonderland" at last!--Letters from friends "Three
Sunsets"--"Of such is the kingdom of Heaven."
The year 1897, the last complete year which he was destined to spend,
began for Mr. Dodgson at Guildford. On January 3rd he preached in the
morning at the beautiful old church of S. Mary's, the church which he
always attended when he was staying with his sisters at the Chestnuts.
On the 5th he began a course of Logic Lectures at Abbot's Hospital.
The Rev. A. Kingston, late curate of Holy Trinity and S. Mary's
Parishes, Guildford, had requested him to do this, and he had given
his promise if as many as six people could be got together to hear
him. Mr. Kingston canvassed the town so well that an audience of about
thirty attended the first lecture.
[Illustration: Lewis Carroll. _From a photograph._]
A long Sunday walk was always a feature of Mr. Dodgson's life in the
vacations. In earlier years the late Mr. W. Watson was his usual
companion at Guildford. The two men were in some respects very much
alike; a peculiar gentleness of character, a winning charm of manner
which no one could resist, distinguished them both. After Mr. Watson's
death his companion was usually one of the following Guildford
clergymen: the Rev. J.H. Robson, LL.D., the Rev. H.R. Ware, and the
Rev. A. Kingston.
On the 26th Mr. Dodgson paid a visit to the Girls' High School, to
show the pupils some mathematical puzzles, and to teach the elder ones
his "Memoria Technica." On the 28th he returned to Oxford, so as to be
up in time for term.
I have said that he always refused invitations to dinner; accordingly
his friends who knew of this peculiarity, and wished to secure him for
a special evening, dared not actually invite him, but wrote him little
notes stating that on such and such days they would be dining at home.
Thus there is an entry in his Journal for February 10th:
"Dined with Mrs. G--(She had not sent an
His system of symbolic logic enabled him to work out the most complex
problems with absolute certainty in a surprisingly short time. Thus he
wrote on the 15th: "Made a splendid logic-problem, about
"great-grandsons" (modelled on one by De Morgan). My method of
solution is quite new, and I greatly doubt if any one will solve the
Problem. I have sent it to Cook Wilson."
On March 7th he preached in the University Church, the first occasion
on which he had done so:--
There is now [he writes] a system established of a course of
six sermons at S. Mary's each year, for University men
_only_, and specially meant for undergraduates. They
are preached, preceded by a few prayers and a hymn, at
half-past eight. This evening ended the course for this
term: and it was my great privilege to preach. It has been
the most formidable sermon I have ever had to preach, and it
is a _great_ relief to have it over. I took, as text,
Job xxviii. 28, "And unto man he said, The fear of the Lord,
that is wisdom"--and the prayer in the Litany "Give us an
heart to love and dread thee." It lasted three-quarters of
One can imagine how he would have treated the subject. The views which
he held on the subject of reverence were, so at least it appears to
me, somewhat exaggerated; they are well expressed in a letter which he
wrote to a friend of his, during the year, and which runs as
Dear--, After changing my mind several times, I have at
last decided to venture to ask a favour of you, and to trust
that you will not misinterpret my motives in doing so.
The favour I would ask is, that you will not tell me any
more stories, such as you did on Friday, of remarks which
children are said to have made on very sacred subjects--
remarks which most people would recognise as irreverent, if
made by _grown-up people_, but which are assumed to be
innocent when made by children who are unconscious of any
irreverence, the strange conclusion being drawn that they
are therefore innocent when _repeated_ by a grown-up person.
The misinterpretation I would guard against is, your
supposing that I regard such repetition as always _wrong_ in
any grown-up person. Let me assure you that I do _not_ so
regard it. I am always willing to believe that those who
repeat such stories differ wholly from myself in their views
of what is, and what is not, fitting treatment of sacred
things, and I fully recognise that what would certainly be
wrong in _me_, is not necessarily so in _them_.
So I simply ask it as a personal favour to myself. The
hearing of that anecdote gave me so much pain, and spoiled
so much the pleasure of my tiny dinner-party, that I feel
sure you will kindly spare me such in future.
One further remark. There are quantities of such anecdotes
going about. I don't in the least believe that 5 per cent.
of them were ever said by _children_. I feel sure that most
of them are concocted by people who _wish_ to bring sacred
subjects into ridicule--sometimes by people who _wish_ to
undermine the belief that others have in religious truths:
for there is no surer way of making one's beliefs _unreal_
than by learning to associate them with ludicrous ideas.
Forgive the freedom with which I have said all this.
The entry in the Diary for April 11th (Sunday) is interesting:--
Went my eighteen-mile round by Besilsleigh. From my rooms
back to them again, took me five hours and twenty-seven
minutes. Had "high tea" at twenty minutes past seven. This
entails only leaving a plate of cold meat, and gives much
less trouble than hot dinner at six.
Dinner at six has been my rule since January 31st, when it
began--I then abandoned the seven o'clock Sunday dinner, of
which I entirely disapprove. It has prevented, for two
terms, the College Servants' Service.
On May 12th he wrote:--
As the Prince of Wales comes this afternoon to open the Town
Hall, I went round to the Deanery to invite them to come
through my rooms upon the roof, to see the procession
arrive.... A party of about twenty were on my roof in the
afternoon, including Mrs. Moberly, Mrs. Driver, and Mrs.
Baynes, and most, if not all, of the children in Christ
Church. Dinner in Hall at eight. The Dean had the Prince on
his right, and Lord Salisbury on his left. My place was almost
_vis-a-vis_ with the Prince. He and the Dean were the
only speakers. We did not get out of Hall till nearly ten.
In June he bought a "Whiteley Exerciser," and fixed it up in his
rooms. One would have thought that he would have found his long walks
sufficient exercise (an eighteen-mile round was, as we have seen, no
unusual thing for him to undertake), but apparently it was not so. He
was so pleased with the "Exerciser," that he bought several more of
them, and made presents of them to his friends.
As an instance of his broad-mindedness, the following extract from his
Diary for June 20th is interesting. It must be premised that E--was a
young friend of his who had recently become a member of the Roman
Catholic Church, and that their place of worship in Oxford is
dedicated to S. Aloysius.
I went with E-- to S. Aloysius. There was much beauty in the
service, part of which consisted in a procession, with
banner, all round the church, carrying the Host, preceded by
a number of girls in white, with veils (who had all had
their first communion that morning), strewing flowers. Many
of them were quite little things of about seven. The sermon
(by Father Richardson) was good and interesting, and in a
very loyal tone about the Queen.
A letter he wrote some years before to a friend who had asked him
about his religious opinions reveals the same catholicity of mind:--
I am a member of the English Church, and have taken Deacon's
Orders, but did not think fit (for reasons I need not go
into) to take Priest's Orders. My dear father was what is
called a "High Churchman," and I naturally adopted those
views, but have always felt repelled by the yet higher
development called "Ritualism."
But I doubt if I am fully a "High Churchman" now. I find
that as life slips away (I am over fifty now), and the life
on the other side of the great river becomes more and more
the reality, of which _this_ is only a shadow, that the
petty distinctions of the many creeds of Christendom tend to
slip away as well--leaving only the great truths which all
Christians believe alike. More and more, as I read of the
Christian religion, as Christ preached it, I stand amazed at
the forms men have given to it, and the fictitious barriers
they have built up between themselves and their brethren. I
believe that when you and I come to lie down for the last
time, if only we can keep firm hold of the great truths
Christ taught us--our own utter worthlessness and His
infinite worth; and that He has brought us back to our one
Father, and made us His brethren, and so brethren to one
another--we shall have all we need to guide us through the
Most assuredly I accept to the full the doctrines you refer
to--that Christ died to save us, that we have no other way
of salvation open to us but through His death, and that it
is by faith in Him, and through no merit of ours, that we
are reconciled to God; and most assuredly I can cordially
say, "I owe all to Him who loved me, and died on the Cross
He spent the Long Vacation at Eastbourne as usual, frequently walking
over to Hastings, which is about twenty miles off. A good many of his
mornings were spent in giving lectures and telling stories at schools.
A letter to the widow of an old college friend reveals the
extraordinary sensitiveness of his nature:--
2, Bedford Well Road, Eastbourne,
_August_ 2, 1897.
My Dear Mrs. Woodhouse,--Your letter, with its mournful
news, followed me down here, and I only got it on Saturday
night; so I was not able to be with you in thought when the
mortal remains of my dear old friend were being committed to
the ground; to await the time when our Heavenly Father shall
have accomplished the number of His elect, and when you and
I shall once more meet the loved ones from whom we are, for
a little while only--what a little while even a long human
life lasts!--parted in sorrow, yet _not_ sorrowing as
those without hope.
You will be sure without words of mine, that you have my
true and deep sympathy. Of all the friends I made at Ch.
Ch., your husband was the very _first_ who spoke to
me--across the dinner-table in Hall. That is forty-six years
ago, but I remember, as if it were only yesterday, the
kindly smile with which he spoke....
September 27th and 28th are marked in his Diary "with a white
_Sept. 27th.--Dies notandus._ Discovered rule for
dividing a number by 9, by mere addition and subtraction. I
felt sure there must be an analogous one for 11, and found
it, and proved first rule by algebra, after working about
_Sept. 28th.--Dies creta notandus._ I have actually
_superseded_ the rules discovered yesterday! My new
rules require to ascertain the 9-remainder, and the
11-remainder, which the others did _not_ require; but
the new ones are much the quickest. I shall send them to
_The Educational Times_, with date of discovery.
On November 4th he wrote:--
Completed a rule for dividing a given number by any divisor
that is within 10 of a power of 10, either way. The
_principle_ of it is not my discovery, but was sent me
by Bertram Collingwood--a rule for dividing by a divisor
which is within 10 of a power of 10, _below_ it.
My readers will not be surprised to learn that only eight days after
this he had superseded his rule:--
An inventive morning! After waking, and before I had
finished dressing, I had devised a new and much neater form
in which to work my Rules for Long Division, and also
decided to bring out my "Games and Puzzles," and Part iii.
of "Curiosa Mathematica," in _Numbers_, in paper covers,
paged consecutively, to be ultimately issued in boards.
On November 20th he spent the day in London, with the object of seeing
"The Little Minister" at the Haymarket. "A beautiful play, beautifully
acted," he calls it, and says that he should like to see it "again and
again." He especially admired the acting of Mrs. Cyril Maude (Miss
Winifred Emery) as Lady Babbie. This was the last theatrical
performance he ever witnessed.
He apparently kept rough notes for his Diary, and only wrote it up
every few weeks, as there are no entries at all for 1898, nor even for
the last week of 1897. The concluding page runs as follows:--
_Dec. (W.) 10 a.m._--I am in my large room, with no fire,
and open window--temperature 54 degrees.
_Dec. 17 (F.)._--Maggie [one of his sisters], and our nieces
Nella and Violet, came to dinner.
_Dec. 19 (Sun.)._--Sat up last night till 4 a.m., over a
tempting problem, sent me from New York, "to find 3 equal
rational-sided rt.-angled _triangles_." I found _two_,
whose sides are 20, 21, 29; 12, 35, 37; but could not find
_Dec. 23(Th.)._--I start for Guildford by the 2.7 today.
As my story of Lewis Carroll's life draws near its end, I have
received some "Stray Reminiscences" from Sir George Baden-Powell,
M.P., which, as they refer to several different periods of time, are
as appropriate here as in any other part of the book. The Rev. E.H.
Dodgson, referred to in these reminiscences, is a younger brother of
Lewis Carroll's; he spent several years of his life upon the remote
island of Tristan d'Acunha, where there were only about seventy or
eighty inhabitants besides himself. About once a year a ship used to
call, when the island-folk would exchange their cattle for cloth,
corn, tea, &c., which they could not produce themselves. The island is
volcanic in origin, and is exposed to the most terrific gales; the
building used as a church stood at some distance from Mr. Dodgson's
dwelling, and on one occasion the wind was so strong that he had to
crawl on his hands and knees for the whole distance that separated
the two buildings.
My first introduction (writes Sir George Baden-Powell) to
the author of "Through the Looking-Glass" was about the year
1870 or 1871, and under appropriate conditions! I was then
coaching at Oxford with the well-known Rev. E. Hatch, and
was on friendly terms with his bright and pretty children.
Entering his house one day, and facing the dining-room, I
heard mysterious noises under the table, and saw the cloth
move as if some one were hiding. Children's legs revealed it
as no burglar, and there was nothing for it but to crawl
upon them, roaring as a lion. Bursting in upon them in their
strong-hold under the table, I was met by the staid but
amused gaze of a reverend gentleman. Frequently afterwards
did I see and hear "Lewis Carroll" entertaining the
youngsters in his inimitable way.
We became friends, and greatly did I enjoy intercourse with
him over various minor Oxford matters. In later years, at one
time I saw much of him, in quite another _role_--namely
that of ardent sympathy with the, as he thought, ill-treated
and deserted islanders of Tristan d'Acunha. His brother, it
will be remembered, had voluntarily been left at that island
with a view to ministering to the spiritual and educational
needs of the few settlers, and sent home such graphic
accounts and urgent demands for aid, that "Lewis Carroll"
spared no pains to organise assistance and relief. At his
instance I brought the matter before Government and the
House of Commons, and from that day to this frequent
communication has been held with the islanders, and material
assistance has been rendered them--thanks to the warm heart
of "Lewis Carroll."
On December 23, 1897, as the note in his Diary states, he went down,
in accordance with his usual custom, to Guildford, to spend Christmas
with his sisters at the Chestnuts. He seemed to be in his ordinary
health, and in the best of spirits, and there was nothing to show that
the end was so near.
[Illustration: The Chestnuts, Guildford. _From a
At Guildford he was hard at work upon the second part of his "Symbolic
Logic," spending most of the day over this task. This book, alas! he
was not destined to finish, which is the more to be regretted as it
will be exceedingly difficult for any one else to take up the thread
of the argument, even if any one could be found willing to give the
great amount of time and trouble which would be needed.
On January 5th my father, the Rev. C.S. Collingwood, Rector of
Southwick, near Sunderland, died after a very short illness. The
telegram which brought Mr. Dodgson the news of this contained the
request that he would come at once. He determined to travel north the
next day--but it was not to be so. An attack of influenza, which began
only with slight hoarseness, yet enough to prevent him from following
his usual habit of reading family prayers, was pronounced next morning
to be sufficiently serious to forbid his undertaking a journey. At
first his illness seemed a trifle, but before a week had passed
bronchial symptoms had developed, and Dr. Gabb, the family physician,
ordered him to keep his bed. His breathing rapidly became hard and
laborious, and he had to be propped up with pillows. A few days before
his death he asked one of his sisters to read him that well-known
hymn, every verse of which ends with 'Thy Will be done.' To another he
said that his illness was a great trial of his patience. How great a
trial it must have been it is hard for us to understand. With the work
he had set himself still uncompleted, with a sense of youth and
joyousness, which sixty years of the battle of life had in no way
dulled, Lewis Carroll had to face death. He seemed to know that the
struggle was over. "Take away those pillows," he said on the 13th, "I
shall need them no more." The end came about half-past two on the
afternoon of the 14th. One of his sisters was in the room at the time,
and she only noticed that the hard breathing suddenly ceased. The
nurse, whom she summoned, at first hoped that this was a sign that he
had taken a turn for the better. And so, indeed, he had--he had passed
from a world of incompleteness and disappointment, to another where
God is putting his beautiful soul to nobler and grander work than was
possible for him here, where he is learning to comprehend those
difficulties which used to puzzle him so much, and where that infinite
Love, which he mirrored so wonderfully in his own life, is being
revealed to him "face to face."
In accordance with his expressed wish, the funeral was simple in the
extreme--flowers, and flowers only, adorned the plain coffin. There
was no hearse to drag it up the steep incline that leads to the
beautiful cemetery where he lies. The service was taken by Dean Paget
and Canon Grant, Rector of Holy Trinity and S. Mary's, Guildford. The
mourners who followed him in the quiet procession were few--but the
mourners who were not there, and many of whom had never seen him--who
shall tell _their_ number?
After the grave had been filled up, the wreaths which had covered the
coffin were placed upon it. Many were from "child-friends" and bore
such inscriptions as "From two of his child-friends"--"To the sweetest
soul that ever looked with human eyes," &c. Then the mourners left him
alone there--up on the pleasant downs where he had so often walked.
A marble cross, under the shadow of a pine, marks the spot, and
beneath his own name they have engraved the name of "Lewis Carroll,"
that the children who pass by may remember their friend, who is
now--himself a child in all that makes childhood most attractive--in
that "Wonderland" which outstrips all our dreams and hopes.
I cannot forbear quoting from Professor Sanday's sermon at Christ
Church on the Sunday after his death:--
The world will think of Lewis Carroll as one who opened out
a new vein in literature, a new and a delightful vein, which
added at once mirth and refinement to life.... May we not
say that from our courts at Christ Church there has flowed
into the literature of our time a rill, bright and
sparkling, health-giving and purifying, wherever its waters
[Illustration: Lewis Carroll's grave. _From a photograph._]
On the following Sunday Dean Paget, in the course of a sermon on the
"Virtue of Simplicity," said:--
We may differ, according to our difference of taste or
temperament, in appraising Charles Dodgson's genius; but
that that great gift was his, that his best work ranks with
the very best of its kind, this has been owned with a
recognition too wide and spontaneous to leave room for
doubt. The brilliant, venturesome imagination, defying
forecast with ever-fresh surprise; the sense of humour in
its finest and most naive form; the power to touch with
lightest hand the undercurrent of pathos in the midst of
fun; the audacity of creative fancy, and the delicacy of
insight--these are rare gifts; and surely they were his.
Yes, but it was his simplicity of mind and heart that raised
them all, not only in his work but in his life, in all his
ways, in the man as we knew him, to something higher than
any mere enumeration of them tells: that almost curious
simplicity, at times, that real and touching child-likeness
that marked him in all fields of thought, appearing in his
love of children and in their love of him, in his dread of
giving pain to any living creature, in a certain
disproportion, now and then, of the view he took of
things--yes, and also in that deepest life, where the pure
in heart and those who become as little children see the
very truth and walk in the fear and love of God.
Some extracts from the numerous sympathetic letters received by Mr.
Dodgson's brothers and sisters will show how greatly his loss was
felt. Thus Canon Jelf writes:--
It was quite a shock to me to see in the paper to-day the
death of your dear, good brother, to whom we owe so much of
the brightening of our lives with pure, innocent fun.
Personally I feel his loss very much indeed. We were
together in old Ch. Ch. days from 1852 onwards; and he was
always such a loyal, faithful friend to me. I rejoice to
think of the _serious_ talks we had together--of the grand,
brave way in which he used the opportunities he had as a man
of humour, to reach the consciences of a host of readers--of
his love for children--his simplicity of heart--of his care
for servants--his spiritual care for them. Who can doubt
that he was fully prepared for a change however sudden--for
the one clear call which took him away from us? Yet the
world seems darker for his going; we can only get back our
brightness by realising Who gave him all his talent, all his
mirth of heart--the One who never leaves us. In deep
Yours very sincerely,
George E. Jelf.
P.S.--When you have time tell me a little about him; he was
so dear to me.
Mr. Frederic Harrison writes as follows:--
The occasional visits that I received from your late brother
showed me a side of his nature which to my mind was more
interesting and more worthy of remembrance even than his
wonderful and delightful humour--I mean his intense sympathy
with all who suffer and are in need.
He came to see me several times on sundry errands of mercy,
and it has been a lesson to me through life to remember his
zeal to help others in difficulty, his boundless generosity,
and his inexhaustible patience with folly and error.
My young daughter, like all young people in civilised
countries, was brought up on his beautiful fancies and
humours. But for my part I remember him mainly as a sort of
missionary to all in need. We all alike grieve, and offer
you our heartfelt sympathy.
I am, faithfully yours,
His old friend and tutor. Dr. Price, writes:--
... I feel his removal from among us as the loss of an old
and dear friend and pupil, to whom I have been most warmly
attached ever since he was with me at Whitby, reading
mathematics, in, I think, 1853--44 years ago! And 44 years
of uninterrupted friendship .... I was pleased to read
yesterday in _The Times_ newspaper the kindly obituary
notice: perfectly just and true; appreciative, as it should
be, as to the unusual combination of deep mathematical
ability and taste with the genius that led to the writing of
Only the other day [writes a lady friend] he wrote to me
about his admiration for my dear husband, and he ended his
letter thus: "I trust that when _my_ time comes, I may be
found, like him, working to the last, and ready for the
Master's call"--and truly so he was.
A friend at Oxford writes:--
Mr. Dodgson was ever the kindest and gentlest of friends,
bringing sunshine into the house with him. We shall mourn
his loss deeply, and my two girls are quite overcome with
grief. All day memories of countless acts of kindness shown
to me, and to people I have known, have crowded my mind, and
I feel it almost impossible to realise that he has passed
beyond the reach of our gratitude and affection.
The following are extracts from letters written by some of his
"child-friends," now grown up:--
How beautiful to think of the track of light and love he has
left behind him, and the amount of happiness he brought into
the lives of all those he came in contact with! I shall
never forget all his kindness to us, from the time he first
met us as little mites in the railway train, and one feels
glad to have had the privilege of knowing him.
One of Mr. Dodgson's oldest "child-friends" writes:--
He was to me a dear and true friend, and it has been my
great privilege to see a good deal of him ever since I was a
tiny child, and especially during the last two years. I
cannot tell you how much we shall miss him here. Ch. Ch.
without Mr. Dodgson will be a strange place, and it is
difficult to realise it even while we listen to the special
solemn anthems and hymns to his memory in our cathedral.
One who had visited him at Guildford, writes:--
It must be quite sixteen years now since he first made
friends with my sister and myself as children on the beach
at Eastbourne, and since then his friendship has been and
must always be one of my most valued possessions. It
culminated, I think, in the summer of 1892--the year when he
brought me to spend a very happy Sunday at Guildford. I had
not seen him before, that year, for some time; and it was
then, I think, that the childish delight in his kindness,
and pride in his friendship, changed into higher love and
reverence, when in our long walks over the downs I saw more
and more into the great tenderness and gentleness of his
Shortly after Mr. Dodgson's death, his "Three Sunsets" was published
by Messrs. Macmillan. The twelve "Fairy Fancies," which illustrate it,
were drawn by Miss E. G. Thomson. Though they are entirely unconnected
with the text, they are so thoroughly in accordance with the author's
delicate refinement, and so beautiful in themselves, that they do not
strike one as inappropriate.
Some of the verses are strangely in keeping with the time at which
they are published.
I could not see, for blinding tears,
The glories of the west:
A heavenly music filled my ears,
A heavenly peace my breast.
"Come unto me, come unto me--
All ye that labour, unto me--
Ye heavy-laden, come to me--
And I will give you rest."
One cannot read this little volume without feeling that the shadow of
some disappointment lay over Lewis Carroll's life. Such I believe to
have been the case, and it was this that gave him his wonderful
sympathy with all who suffered. But those who loved him would not wish
to lift the veil from these dead sanctities, nor would any purpose be
served by so doing. The proper use of sympathy is not to weep over
sorrows that are over, and whose very memory is perhaps obliterated
for him in the first joy of possessing new and higher faculties.
Before leaving the subject of this book, I should like to draw
attention to a few lines on "woman's mission," lines full of the
noblest chivalry, reminding one of Tennyson's "Idylls of the King":--
In the darkest path of man's despair,
Where War and Terror shake the troubled earth,
Lies woman's mission; with unblenching brow
To pass through scenes of horror and affright
Where men grow sick and tremble: unto her
All things are sanctified, for all are good.
Nothing so mean, but shall deserve her care:
Nothing so great, but she may bear her part.
No life is vain: each hath his place assigned:
Do thou thy task, and leave the rest to God.
Of the unpublished works which Mr. Dodgson left behind him, I may
mention "Original Games and Puzzles"; "Symbolic Logic, Part ii.," and
a portion of a mathematical book, the proofs of which are now in the
hands of the Controller of the Oxford University Press.
I will conclude this chapter with a poem which
appeared in _Punch_ for January 29th, a fortnight
after Lewis Carroll's death. It expresses, with
all the grace and insight of the true poet, what
I have tried, so feebly and ineffectually, to
_Born_ 1832. _Died January_ 14, 1898.
Lover of children! Fellow-heir with those
Of whom the imperishable kingdom is!
Beyond all dreaming now your spirit knows
The unimagined mysteries.
Darkly as in a glass our faces look
To read ourselves, if so we may, aright;
You, like the maiden in your faerie book--
You step behind and see the light!
The heart you wore beneath your pedant's cloak
Only to children's hearts you gave away;
Yet unaware in half the world you woke
The slumbering charm of childhood's day.
We older children, too, our loss lament,
We of the "Table Round," remembering well
How he, our comrade, with his pencil lent
Your fancy's speech a firmer spell.
Master of rare woodcraft, by sympathy's
Sure touch he caught your visionary gleams,
And made your fame, the dreamer's, one with his.
The wise interpreter of dreams.
Farewell! But near our hearts we have you yet,
Holding our heritage with loving hand,
Who may not follow where your feet are set
Upon the ways of Wonderland.
[Illustration: Lorina and Alice Liddell. _From a photograph
by Lewis Carroll._]
* * * * *
Mr. Dodgson's fondness for children--Miss Isabel
Standen--Puzzles--"Me and Myself"--A double
acrostic--"Father William"--Of drinking healths--Kisses by
post--Tired in the face--The unripe
plum--Eccentricities--"Sylvie and Bruno"--"Mr. Dodgson is
going on _well_."
This chapter, and the next will deal with Mr. Dodgson's friendships
with children. It would have been impossible to arrange them in
chronological sequence in the earlier part of this book, and the fact
that they exhibit a very important and distinct side of his nature
seems to justify me in assigning them a special and individual
For the contents of these two chapters, both my readers and myself owe
a debt of gratitude to those child-friends of his, without whose
ever-ready help this book could never have been written.
From very early college days began to emerge that beautiful side of
Lewis Carroll's character which afterwards was to be, next to his fame
as an author, the one for which he was best known--his attitude
towards children, and the strong attraction they had for him. I shall
attempt to point out the various influences which led him in this
direction; but if I were asked for one comprehensive word wide
enough to explain this tendency of his nature, I would answer
unhesitatingly--Love. My readers will remember a beautiful verse in
"Sylvie and Bruno"; trite though it is, I cannot forbear to quote it--
Say, whose is the skill that paints valley and hill,
Like a picture so fair to the sight?
That flecks the green meadow with sunshine and shadow,
Till the little lambs leap with delight?
'Tis a secret untold to hearts cruel and cold,
Though 'tis sung by the angels above,
In notes that ring clear for the ears that can hear,
And the name of the secret is Love!
That "secret"--an open secret for him--explains this side of his
character. As _he_ read everything in its light, so it is only in
its light that _we_ can properly understand _him_. I think
that the following quotation from a letter to the Rev. F. H. Atkinson,
accompanying a copy of "Alice" for his little daughter Gertrude,
sufficiently proves the truth of what I have just stated:--
Many thanks to Mrs. Atkinson and to you for the sight of the
tinted photograph of your Gertrude. As you say, the picture
speaks for itself, and I can see exactly what sort of a
child she is, in proof of which I send her my love and a
kiss herewith. It is possible I may be the first (unseen)
gentleman from whom she has had so ridiculous a message; but
I can't say she is the first unseen child to whom I have
sent one! I think the most precious message of the kind I
ever got from a child I never saw (and never shall see in
this world) was to the effect that she liked me when she
read about Alice, "but please tell him, whenever I read that
Easter letter he sent me I _do_ love him!" She was in a
hospital, and a lady friend who visited there had asked me
to send the letter to her and some other sick children.
And now as to the secondary causes which attracted him to children.
First, I think children appealed to him because he was pre-eminently a
teacher, and he saw in their unspoiled minds the best material for him
to work upon. In later years one of his favourite recreations was to
lecture at schools on logic; he used to give personal attention to
each of his pupils, and one can well imagine with what eager
anticipation the children would have looked forward to the visits of a
schoolmaster who knew how to make even the dullest subjects
interesting and amusing.
Again, children appealed to his aesthetic faculties, for he was a keen
admirer of the beautiful in every form. Poetry, music, the drama, all
delighted him, but pictures more than all put together. I remember his
once showing me "The Lady with the Lilacs," which Arthur Hughes had
painted for him, and how he dwelt with intense pleasure on the
exquisite contrasts of colour which it contained--the gold hair of a
girl standing out against the purple of lilac-blossom. But with those
who find in such things as these a complete satisfaction of their
desire for the beautiful he had no sympathy; for no imperfect
representations of life could, for him, take the place of life itself,
life as God has made it--the babbling of the brook, the singing of the
birds, the laughter and sweet faces of the children. And yet,
recognising, as he did, what Mr. Pater aptly terms "the curious
perfection of the human form," in man, as in nature, it was the soul
that attracted him more than the body. His intense admiration, one
might almost call it adoration, for the white innocence and
uncontaminated spirituality of childhood emerges most clearly in
"Sylvie and Bruno." He says very little of the personal beauty of his
heroine; he might have asked, with Mr. Francis Thompson--
How can I tell what beauty is her dole,
Who cannot see her countenance for her soul?
So entirely occupied is he with her gentleness, her pity, her
sincerity, and her love.
Again, the reality of children appealed strongly to the simplicity and
genuineness of his own nature. I believe that he understood children
even better than he understood men and women; civilisation has made
adult humanity very incomprehensible, for convention is as a veil
which hides the divine spark that is in each of us, and so this
strange thing has come to be, that the imperfect mirrors perfection
more completely than the perfected, that we see more of God in the
child than in the man.
And in those moments of depression of which he had his full share,
when old age seemed to mock him with all its futility and feebleness,
it was the thought that the children still loved him which nerved him
again to continue his life-work, which renewed his youth, so that to
his friends he never seemed an old man. Even the hand of death itself
only made his face look more boyish--the word is not too strong. "How
wonderfully young your brother looks!" were the first words the doctor
said, as he returned from the room where Lewis Carroll's body lay, to
speak to the mourners below. And so he loved children because their
friendship was the true source of his perennial youth and unflagging
vigour. This idea is expressed in the following poem--an acrostic,
which he wrote for a friend some twenty years ago:--
Around my lonely hearth, to-night,
Ghostlike the shadows wander:
Now here, now there, a childish sprite,
Earthborn and yet as angel bright,
Seems near me as I ponder.
Gaily she shouts: the laughing air
Echoes her note of gladness--
Or bends herself with earnest care
Round fairy-fortress to prepare
Grim battlement or turret-stair--
In childhood's merry madness!
New raptures still hath youth in store:
Age may but fondly cherish
Half-faded memories of yore--
Up, craven heart! repine no more!
Love stretches hands from shore to shore:
Love is, and shall not perish!
His first child-friend, so far as I know, was Miss Alice Liddell, the
little companion whose innocent talk was one of the chief pleasures of
his early life at Oxford, and to whom he told the tale that was to
make him famous. In December, 1885, Miss M.E. Manners presented him
with a little volume, of which she was the authoress, "Aunt Agatha Ann
and Other Verses," and which contained a poem (which I quoted in
Chapter VI.), about "Alice." Writing to acknowledge this gift, Lewis
Permit me to offer you my sincere thanks for the very sweet
verses you have written about my dream-child (named after a
real Alice, but none the less a dream-child) and her
Wonderland. That children love the book is a very precious
thought to me, and, next to their love, I value the sympathy
of those who come with a child's heart to what I have tried
to write about a child's thoughts. Next to what conversing
with an angel _might_ be--for it is hard to imagine
it--comes, I think, the privilege of having a real child's
thoughts uttered to one. I have known some few _real_
children (you have too, I am sure), and their friendship is
a blessing and a help in life.
[Illustration: Alice Liddell. _From a photograph by Lewis
It is interesting to note how in "Sylvie and Bruno" his idea of the
thoughts of a child has become deeper and more spiritual. Yet in the
earlier tale, told "all in a golden afternoon," to the plash of oars
and the swish of a boat through the waters of Cherwell or Thames, the
ideal child is strangely beautiful; she has all Sylvie's genuineness
and honesty, all her keen appreciation of the interest of life; only
there lacks that mysterious charm of deep insight into the hidden
forces of nature, the gentle power that makes the sky "such a darling
blue," which almost links Sylvie with the angels.
Another of Lewis Carroll's early favourites was Miss Alexandra (Xie)
Kitchin, daughter of the Dean of Durham. Her father was for fifteen
years the Censor of the unattached members of the University of
Oxford, so that Mr. Dodgson had plenty of opportunities of
photographing his little friend, and it is only fair to him to say
that he did not neglect them.
It would be futile to attempt even a bare list of the children whom he
loved, and who loved him; during forty years of his life he was
constantly adding to their number. Some remained friends for life, but
in a large proportion of cases the friendship ended with the end of
childhood. To one of those few, whose affection for him had not waned
with increasing years, he wrote:--
I always feel specially grateful to friends who, like you,
have given me a child-friendship and a woman-friendship.
About nine out of ten, I think, of my child-friendships get
ship-wrecked at the critical point, "where the stream and
river meet," and the child-friends, once so affectionate,
become uninteresting acquaintances, whom I have no wish to
set eyes on again.
[Illustration: Xie Kitchin. _From a photograph by Lewis
These friendships usually began all very much in the same way. A
chance meeting on the sea-shore, in the street, at some friend's
house, led to conversation; then followed a call on the parents, and
after that all sorts of kindnesses on Lewis Carroll's part, presents
of books, invitations to stay with him at Oxford, or at Eastbourne,
visits with him to the theatre. For the amusement of his little guests
he kept a large assortment of musical-boxes, and an organette which
had to be fed with paper tunes. On one occasion he ordered about
twelve dozen of these tunes "on approval," and asked one of the other
dons, who was considered a judge of music, to come in and hear them
played over. In addition to these attractions there were clock-work
bears, mice, and frogs, and games and puzzles in infinite variety.
One of his little friends, Miss Isabel Standen, has sent me the
following account of her first meeting with him:--
We met for the first time in the Forbury Gardens, Reading.
He was, I believe, waiting for a train. I was playing with
my brothers and sisters in the Gardens. I remember his
taking me on his knee and showing me puzzles, one of which
he refers to in the letter (given below. This puzzle was, by
the way, a great favourite of his; the problem is to draw
three interlaced squares without going over the same lines
twice, or taking the pen off the paper), which is so
thoroughly characteristic of him in its quaint humour:--
"The Chestnuts, Guildford,
_August _22, 1869.
My Dear Isabel,--Though I have only been acquainted
with you for fifteen minutes, yet, as there is no one
else in Reading I have known so long, I hope you will
not mind my troubling you. Before I met you in the
Gardens yesterday I bought some old books at a shop in
Reading, which I left to be called for, and had not
time to go back for them. I didn't even remark the name
of the shop, but I can tell _where_ it was, and if
you know the name of the woman who keeps the shop, and
would put it into the blank I have left in this note,
and direct it to her I should be much obliged ... A
friend of mine, called Mr. Lewis Carroll, tells me he
means to send you a book. He is a _very_ dear
friend of mine. I have known him all my life (we are
the same age) and have _never_ left him. Of course
he was with me in the Gardens, not a yard off--even
while I was drawing those puzzles for you. I wonder if
you saw him?
Your fifteen-minute friend,
Have you succeeded in drawing the three squares?"
Another favourite puzzle was the following--I give it in his own
A is to draw a fictitious map divided into counties.
B is to colour it (or rather mark the counties with
_names_ of colours) using as few colours as possible.
Two adjacent counties must have _different_ colours.
A's object is to force B to use as _many_ colours as
How many can he force B to use?
One of his most amusing letters was to a little girl called Magdalen,
to whom he had given a copy of his "Hunting of the Snark":--
Christ Church, _December_ 15, 1875.
My dear Magdalen,--I want to explain to you why I did not
call yesterday. I was sorry to miss you, but you see I had
so many conversations on the way. I tried to explain to the
people in the street that I was going to see you, but they
wouldn't listen; they said they were in a hurry, which was
rude. At last I met a wheelbarrow that I thought would
attend to me, but I couldn't make out what was in it. I saw
some features at first, then I looked through a telescope,
and found it was a countenance; then I looked through a
microscope, and found it was a face! I thought it was father
like me, so I fetched a large looking-glass to make sure,
and then to my great joy I found it was me. We shook hands,
and were just beginning to talk, when myself came up and
joined us, and we had quite a pleasant conversation. I said,
"Do you remember when we all met at Sandown?" and myself
said, "It was very jolly there; there was a child called
Magdalen," and me said, "I used to like her a little; not
much, you know--only a little." Then it was time for us to
go to the train, and who do you think came to the station to
see us off? You would never guess, so I must tell you. They
were two very dear friends of mine, who happen to be here
just now, and beg to be allowed to sign this letter as your
Lewis Carroll and C.L. Dodgson.
Another child-friend, Miss F. Bremer, writes as follows:--
Our acquaintance began in a somewhat singular manner. We
were playing on the Fort at Margate, and a gentleman on a
seat near asked us if we could make a paper boat, with a
seat at each end, and a basket in the middle for fish! We
were, of course, enchanted with the idea, and our new
friend--after achieving the feat--gave us his card, which we
at once carried to our mother. He asked if he might call
where we were staying, and then presented my elder sister
with a copy of "Alice in Wonderland," inscribed "From the
Author." He kindly organised many little excursions for
us--chiefly in the pursuit of knowledge. One memorable visit
to a light house is still fresh in our memories.
It was while calling one day upon Mrs. Bremer that he scribbled off
the following double acrostic on the names of her two daughters--
DOUBLE ACROSTIC--FIVE LETTERS.
Two little girls near London dwell,
More naughty than I like to tell.
Upon the lawn the hoops are seen:
The balls are rolling on the green. T ur F
The Thames is running deep and wide:
And boats are rowing on the tide. R ive R
In winter-time, all in a row,
The happy skaters come and go. I c E
"Papa!" they cry, "Do let us stay!"
He does not speak, but says they may. N o D
"There is a land," he says, "my dear,
Which is too hot to skate, I fear." A fric A
At Margate also he met Miss Adelaide Paine, who afterwards became one
of his greatest favourites. He could not bear to see the healthy
pleasures of childhood spoiled by conventional restraint. "One piece
of advice given to my parents," writes Miss Paine, "gave me very great
glee, and that was not to make little girls wear gloves at the
seaside; they took the advice, and I enjoyed the result."
_Apropos_ of this I may mention that, when staying at Eastbourne,
he never went down to the beach without providing himself with a
supply of safety-pins. Then if he saw any little girl who wanted to
wade in the sea, but was afraid of spoiling her frock, he would
gravely go up to her and present her with a safety-pin, so that she
might fasten up her skirts out of harm's way.
Tight boots were a great aversion of his, especially for children. One
little girl who was staying with him at Eastbourne had occasion to buy
a new pair of boots. Lewis Carroll gave instructions to the bootmaker
as to how they were to be made, so as to be thoroughly comfortable,
with the result that when they came home they were more useful than
ornamental, being very nearly as broad as they were long! Which shows
that even hygienic principles may be pushed too far.
The first meeting with Miss Paine took place in 1876. When Lewis
Carroll returned to Christ Church he sent her a copy of "The Hunting
of the Snark," with the following acrostic written in the fly-leaf:--
'A re you deaf, Father William?' the young man said,
'D id you hear what I told you just now?
E xcuse me for shouting! Don't waggle your head
L ike a blundering, sleepy old cow!
A little maid dwelling in Wallington Town,
I s my friend, so I beg to remark:
D o you think she'd be pleased if a book were sent down
E ntitled "The Hunt of the Snark?"'
'P ack it up in brown paper!' the old man cried,
'A nd seal it with olive-and-dove.
I command you to do it!' he added with pride,
'N or forget, my good fellow, to send her beside
E aster Greetings, and give her my love.'
This was followed by a letter, dated June 7, 1876:--
My dear Adelaide,--Did you try if the letters at the
beginnings of the lines about Father William would spell
anything? Sometimes it happens that you can spell out words
that way, which is very curious.
I wish you could have heard him when he shouted out "Pack it
up in brown paper!" It quite shook the house. And he threw
one of his shoes at his son's head (just to make him attend,
you know), but it missed him.
He was glad to hear you had got the book safe, but his eyes
filled with tears as he said, "I sent _her_ my love,
but she never--" he couldn't say any more, his mouth was so
full of bones (he was just finishing a roast goose).
Another letter to Miss Paine is very characteristic of his quaint humour:--
Christ Church, Oxford, _March_ 8, 1880.
My dear Ada,--(Isn't that your short name? "Adelaide" is all
very well, but you see when one's _dreadfully_ busy one
hasn't time to write such long words--particularly when it
takes one half an hour to remember how to spell it--and even
then one has to go and get a dictionary to see if one has
spelt it right, and of course the dictionary is in another
room, at the top of a high bookcase--where it has been for
months and months, and has got all covered with dust--so
one has to get a duster first of all, and nearly choke
oneself in dusting it--and when one _has_ made out at
last which is dictionary and which is dust, even _then_
there's the job of remembering which end of the alphabet "A"
comes--for one feels pretty certain it isn't in the
_middle_--then one has to go and wash one's hands
before turning over the leaves--for they've got so thick
with dust one hardly knows them by sight--and, as likely as
not, the soap is lost, and the jug is empty, and there's no
towel, and one has to spend hours and hours in finding
things--and perhaps after all one has to go off to the shop
to buy a new cake of soap--so, with all this bother, I hope
you won't mind my writing it short and saying, "My dear
Ada"). You said in your last letter you would like a
likeness of me: so here it is, and I hope you will like
it--I won't forget to call the next time but one I'm in
Your very affectionate friend,
It was quite against Mr. Dodgson's usual rule to give away photographs
of himself; he hated publicity, and the above letter was accompanied
by another to Mrs. Paine, which ran as follows:--
I am very unwilling, usually, to give my photograph, for I
don't want people, who have heard of Lewis Carroll, to be
able to recognise him in the street--but I can't refuse Ada.
Will you kindly take care, if any of your ordinary
acquaintances (I don't speak of intimate friends) see it,
that they are _not_ told anything about the name of
He even objected to having his books discussed in his presence; thus
he writes to a friend:--
Your friend, Miss--was very kind and complimentary about my
books, but may I confess that I would rather have them
ignored? Perhaps I am too fanciful, but I have somehow taken
a dislike to being talked to about them; and consequently
have some trials to bear in society, which otherwise would
be no trials at all.... I don't think any of my many little
stage-friends have any shyness at all about being talked to
of their performances. _They_ thoroughly enjoy the
publicity that I shrink from.
The child to whom the three following letters were addressed, Miss
Gaynor Simpson, was one of Lewis Carroll's Guildford friends. The
correct answer to the riddle propounded in the second letter is
_December_ 27, 1873.
My dear Gaynor,--My name is spelt with a "G," that is to say
"_Dodgson_." Any one who spells it the same as that
wretch (I mean of course the Chairman of Committees in the
House of Commons) offends me _deeply_, and _for
ever!_ It is a thing I _can_ forget, but _never
can forgive! _If you do it again, I shall call you
"'aynor." Could you live happy with such a name?
As to dancing, my dear, I _never_ dance, unless I am
allowed to do it _in my own peculiar way. _There is no
use trying to describe it: it has to be seen to be believed.
The last house I tried it in, the floor broke through. But
then it was a poor sort of floor--the beams were only six
inches thick, hardly worth calling beams at all: stone
arches are much more sensible, when any dancing, _of my
peculiar kind_, is to be done. Did you ever see the
Rhinoceros, and the Hippopotamus, at the Zooelogical Gardens,
trying to dance a minuet together? It is a touching sight.
Give any message from me to Amy that you think will be most
likely to surprise her, and, believe me,
Your affectionate friend,
My dear Gaynor,--So you would like to know the answer to
that riddle? Don't be in a hurry to tell it to Amy and
Frances: triumph over them for a while!
My first lends its aid when you plunge into trade.
_Gain_. Who would go into trade if there were no gain
My second in jollifications--
_Or_ [The French for "gold"--] Your jollifications
would be _very_ limited if you had no money.
My whole, laid on thinnish, imparts a neat finish
To pictorial representations.
_Gaynor_. Because she will be an ornament to the
Shakespeare Charades--only she must be "laid on thinnish,"
that is, _there musn't be too much of her._
C. L. Dodgson.
My dear Gaynor,--Forgive me for having sent you a
sham answer to begin with.
My first--_Sea_. It carries the ships of the merchants.
My second--_Weed_. That is, a cigar, an article much used
My whole--_Seaweed_. Take a newly painted oil-picture;
lay it on its back on the floor, and spread over it, "thinnish,"
some wet seaweed. You will find you have "finished" that
Lewis Carroll during the last fifteen years of his life always spent
the Long Vacation at Eastbourne; in earlier times, Sandown, a pleasant
little seaside resort in the Isle of Wight, was his summer abode. He
loved the sea both for its own sake and because of the number of
children whom he met at seaside places. Here is another "first
meeting"; this time it is at Sandown, and Miss Gertrude Chataway is
I first met Mr. Lewis Carroll on the sea-shore at Sandown in
the Isle of Wight, in the summer of 1875, when I was quite a
We had all been taken there for change of air, and next door
there was an old gentlemen--to me at any rate he seemed
old--who interested me immensely. He would come on to his
balcony, which joined ours, sniffing the sea-air with his
head thrown back, and would walk right down the steps on to
the beach with his chin in air, drinking in the fresh
breezes as if he could never have enough. I do not know why
this excited such keen curiosity on my part, but I remember
well that whenever I heard his footstep I flew out to see
him coming, and when one day he spoke to me my joy was
Thus we made friends, and in a very little while I was as
familiar with the interior of his lodgings as with our own.
I had the usual child's love for fairy-tales and marvels,
and his power of telling stories naturally fascinated me. We
used to sit for hours on the wooden steps which led from our
garden on to the beach, whilst he told the most lovely tales
that could possibly be imagined, often illustrating the
exciting situations with a pencil as he went along.
One thing that made his stories particularly charming to a
child was that he often took his cue from her remarks--a
question would set him off on quite a new trail of ideas, so
that one felt that one had somehow helped to make the story,
and it seemed a personal possession It was the most lovely
nonsense conceivable, and I naturally revelled in it. His
vivid imagination would fly from one subject to another, and
was never tied down in any way by the probabilities of life.
To _me_ it was of course all perfect, but it is
astonishing that _he_ never seemed either tired or to
want other society. I spoke to him once of this since I have
been grown up, and he told me it was the greatest pleasure
he could have to converse freely with a child, and feel the
depths of her mind.
He used to write to me and I to him after that summer, and
the friendship, thus begun, lasted. His letters were one of
the greatest joys of my childhood.
I don't think that he ever really understood that we, whom
he had known as children, could not always remain such. I
stayed with him only a few years ago, at Eastbourne, and
felt for the time that I was once more a child. He never
appeared to realise that I had grown up, except when I
reminded him of the fact, and then he only said, "Never
mind: you will always be a child to me, even when your hair
Some of the letters, to which Miss Chataway refers in these
reminiscences, I am enabled, through her kindness, to give below:--
Christ Church, Oxford, _October_ 13, 1875.
My dear Gertrude,--I never give birthday _presents_,
but you see I _do_ sometimes write a birthday
_letter_: so, as I've just arrived here, I am writing
this to wish you many and many a happy return of your
birthday to-morrow. I will drink your health, if only I can
remember, and if you don't mind--but perhaps you object? You
see, if I were to sit by you at breakfast, and to drink your
tea, you wouldn't like _that_, would you? You would say
"Boo! hoo! Here's Mr. Dodgson's drunk all my tea, and I
haven't got any left!" So I am very much afraid, next time
Sybil looks for you, she'll find you sitting by the sad
sea-wave, and crying "Boo! hoo! Here's Mr. Dodgson has drunk
my health, and I haven't got any left!" And how it will
puzzle Dr. Maund, when he is sent for to see you! "My dear