The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll by Stuart Dodgson Collingwood

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  • 1898
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It is with no undue confidence that I have accepted the invitation of the brothers and sisters of Lewis Carroll to write this Memoir. I am well aware that the path of the biographer is beset with pitfalls, and that, for him, _suppressio veri_ is almost necessarily _suggestio falsi_–the least omission may distort the whole picture.

To write the life of Lewis Carroll as it should be written would tax the powers of a man of far greater experience and insight than I have any pretension to possess, and even he would probably fail to represent adequately such a complex personality. At least I have done my best to justify their choice, and if in any way I have wronged my uncle’s memory, unintentionally, I trust that my readers will pardon me.

My task has been a delightful one. Intimately as I thought I knew Mr. Dodgson during his life, I seem since his death to have become still better acquainted with him. If this Memoir helps others of his admirers to a fuller knowledge of a man whom to know was to love, I shall not have written in vain.

I take this opportunity of thanking those who have so kindly assisted me in my work, and first I must mention my old schoolmaster, the Rev. Watson Hagger, M.A., to whom my readers are indebted for the portions of this book dealing with Mr. Dodgson’s mathematical works. I am greatly indebted to Mr. Dodgson’s relatives, and to all those kind friends of his and others who have aided me, in so many ways, in my difficult task. In particular, I may mention the names of H.R.H. the Duchess of Albany; Miss Dora Abdy; Mrs. Egerton Allen; Rev. F. H. Atkinson; Sir G. Baden-Powell, M.P.; Mr. A. Ball; Rev. T. Vere Bayne; Mrs. Bennie; Miss Blakemore; the Misses Bowman; Mrs. Boyes; Mrs. Bremer; Mrs. Brine; Miss Mary Brown; Mrs. Calverley; Miss Gertrude Chataway; Mrs. Chester; Mr. J. C. Cropper; Mr. Robert Davies; Miss Decima Dodgson; the Misses Dymes; Mrs. Eschwege; Mrs. Fuller; Mr. Harry Furniss; Rev. C. A. Goodhart; Mrs. Hargreaves; Miss Rose Harrison; Mr. Henry Holiday; Rev. H. Hopley; Miss Florence Jackson; Rev. A. Kingston; Mrs. Kitchin; Mrs. Freiligrath Kroeker; Mr. F. Madan; Mrs. Maitland; Miss M. E. Manners; Miss Adelaide Paine; Mrs. Porter; Miss Edith Rix; Rev. C. J. Robinson, D.D.; Mr. S. Rogers; Mrs. Round; Miss Isabel Standen; Mr. L. Sergeant; Miss Gaynor Simpson; Mrs. Southwall; Sir John Tenniel; Miss E. Gertrude Thomson; Mrs. Woodhouse; and Mrs. Wyper.

For their help in the work of compiling the Bibliographical chapter and some other parts of the book, my thanks are due to Mr. E. Baxter, Oxford; the Controller of the University Press, Oxford; Mr. A. J. Lawrence, Rugby; Messrs. Macmillan and Co., London; Mr. James Parker, Oxford; and Messrs. Ward, Lock and Co., London.

In the extracts which I have given from Mr. Dodgson’s Journal and Correspondence it will be noticed that Italics have been somewhat freely employed to represent the words which he underlined. The use of Italics was so marked a feature of his literary style, as any one who has read his books must have observed, that without their aid the rhetorical effect, which he always strove to produce, would have been seriously marred.


GUILDFORD, _September_, 1898.





Lewis Carroll’s forebears–The Bishop of Elphin–Murder of Captain Dodgson–Daresbury–Living in
“Wonderland”–Croft–Boyish amusements–His first school–Latin verses–A good report–He goes to Rugby–_The Rectory Umbrella_–“A Lay of Sorrow”


Matriculation at Christ Church–Death of Mrs. Dodgson–The Great Exhibition–University and College Honours–A wonderful year–A theatrical
treat–_Misch-Masch_–_The Train_–_College Rhymes_–His _nom de plume_–“Dotheboys Hall”–Alfred Tennyson–Ordination–Sermons–A visit to Farringford–“Where does the day begin?”–The Queen visits Oxford


Jowett–Index to “In Memoriam”–The Tennysons–The beginning of “Alice”–Tenniel–Artistic friends–“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”–“Bruno’s Revenge”–Tour with Dr. Liddon–Cologne–Berlin architecture–The “Majesty of Justice”–Peterhof–Moscow–A Russian wedding–Nijni–The Troitska Monastery–“Hieroglyphic” writing–Giessen


Death of Archdeacon Dodgson–Lewis Carroll’s rooms at Christ Church–“Phantasmagoria”–Translations of “Alice”–“Through the Looking-Glass”–“Jabberwocky” in Latin–C.S. Calverley–“Notes by an Oxford
Chiel”–Hatfield–Vivisection–“The Hunting of the Snark”


Dramatic tastes–Miss Ellen Terry–“Natural Science at Oxford”–Mr. Dodgson as an artist–Miss E.G. Thomson–The drawing of children–A curious dream–“The Deserted Parks”–“Syzygies”–Circus children–Row-loving undergraduates–A letter to _The Observer_–Resignation of the Lectureship–He is elected Curator of the Common Room–Dream-music.


“The Profits of Authorship”–“Rhyme? and Reason?”–The Common Room Cat–Visit to Jersey–Purity of elections–Parliamentary Representation–Various literary projects–Letters to Miss E. Rix–Being happy–“A Tangled Tale”–Religious arguments–The “Alice” Operetta–“Alice’s Adventures Underground”–“The Game of Logic”–Mr. Harry Furniss.


A systematic life–“Memoria Technica”–Mr. Dodgson’s shyness–“A Lesson in Latin”–The “Wonderland” Stamp-Case–“Wise Words about Letter-Writing”–Princess Alice–“Sylvie and Bruno”–“The night cometh”–“The Nursery ‘Alice'”–Coventry Patmore–Telepathy–Resignation of Dr. Liddell–A letter about Logic.


Mr. Dodgson resigns the Curatorship–Bazaars–He lectures to children–A mechanical “Humpty Dumpty”–A logical controversy–Albert Chevalier–“Sylvie and Bruno Concluded”–“Pillow Problems”–Mr. Dodgson’s generosity–College services–Religious difficulties–A village sermon–Plans for the future–Reverence–“Symbolic Logic”


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”


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_”

THE SAME–_continued._

Books for children–“The Lost Plum-Cake”–“An Unexpected Guest”–Miss Isa Bowman–Interviews–“Matilda Jane”–Miss Edith Rix–Miss Kathleen Eschwege




* * * * *


LEWIS CARROLL–Frontispiece
_From a photograph_.

_From a miniature, painted about_ 1826.


_From a silhouette_.

_From a silhouette_.


_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph by Elliott and Fry_.

“THE ONLY SISTER WHO _WOULD_ WRITE TO HER BROTHER” _From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO “LAYS OF SORROW,” NO. 2 _From drawings by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph_.


_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1857.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1875.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1860.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1858.

SKETCH FROM ST. LEONARD’S CONCERT-ROOM _From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

GEORGE MACDONALD AND HIS DAUGHTER LILY _From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1863.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1863.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1870.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1866.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1860.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1865.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1866.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1867.

“INSTANCE OF HIEROGLYPHIC WRITING OF THE DATE 1867” _From a sketch by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Bassano_.


_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1860.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1873.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1870.


_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1875.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1863.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1865.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph by Hill & Saunders_.

_From a photograph by A.T. Shrimpton_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a crayon drawing by the Rev. H.C. Gaye_.

MEDLEY OF TENNIEL’S ILLUSTRATIONS IN “ALICE” _From an etching by Miss Whitehead_.



_From a drawing by Henry Holiday_.


_From a photograph by Elliott and Fry_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1875.

_From a photograph by Hill & Saunders_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_.

_From a photograph by Elliott and Fry_.


_From a photograph by Lewis Carroll_, 1863.

“WHAT I LOOK LIKE WHEN I’M LECTURING” _From a drawing by Lewis Carroll_.

* * * * *



Lewis Carroll’s forebears–The Bishop of Elphin–Murder of Captain Dodgson–Daresbury–Living in
“Wonderland”–Croft–Boyish amusements–His first school–Latin verses–A good report–He goes to Rugby–_The Rectory Umbrella_–“A Lay of Sorrow.”

The Dodgsons appear to have been for a long time connected with the north of England, and until quite recently a branch of the family resided at Stubb Hall, near Barnard Castle.

In the early part of the last century a certain Rev. Christopher Dodgson held a living in Yorkshire. His son, Charles, also took Holy Orders, and was for some time tutor to a son of the then Duke of Northumberland. In 1762 his patron presented him to the living of Elsdon, in Northumberland, by no means a desirable cure, as Mr. Dodgson discovered. The following extracts from his letters to various members of the Percy family are interesting as giving some idea of the life of a rural clergyman a hundred years ago:

I am obliged to you for promising to write to me, but don’t give yourself the trouble of writing to this place, for ’tis almost impossible to receive ’em, without sending a messenger 16 miles to fetch ’em.

‘Tis impossible to describe the oddity of my situation at present, which, however, is not void of some pleasant circumstances.

A clogmaker combs out my wig upon my curate’s head, by way of a block, and his wife powders it with a dredging-box.

The vestibule of the castle (used as a temporary parsonage) is a low stable; above it the kitchen, in which are two little beds joining to each other. The curate and his wife lay in one, and Margery the maid in the other. I lay in the parlour between two beds to keep me from being frozen to death, for as we keep open house the winds enter from every quarter, and are apt to sweep into bed to me.

Elsdon was once a market town as some say, and a city according to others; but as the annals of the parish were lost several centuries ago, it is impossible to determine what age it was either the one or the other.

There are not the least traces of the former grandeur to be found, whence some antiquaries are apt to believe that it lost both its trade and charter at the Deluge.

… There is a very good understanding between the parties [he is speaking of the Churchmen and Presbyterians who lived in the parish], for they not only intermarry with one another, but frequently do penance together in a white sheet, with a white wand, barefoot, and in the coldest season of the year. I have not finished the description for fear of bringing on a fit of the ague. Indeed, the ideas of sensation are sufficient to starve a man to death, without having recourse to those of reflection.

If I was not assured by the best authority on earth that the world is to be destroyed by fire, I should conclude that the day of destruction is at hand, but brought on by means of an agent very opposite to that of heat.

I have lost the use of everything but my reason, though my head is entrenched in three night-caps, and my throat, which is very bad, is fortified by a pair of stockings twisted in the form of a cravat.

As washing is very cheap, I wear _two_ shirts at a time, and, for want of a wardrobe, I hang my great coat upon my own back, and generally keep on my boots in imitation of my namesake of Sweden. Indeed, since the snow became two feet deep (as I wanted a ‘chaappin of Yale’ from the public-house), I made an offer of them to Margery the maid, but her legs are too thick to make use of them, and I am told that the greater part of my parishioners are not less substantial, and notwithstanding this they are remarkable for agility.

In course of time this Mr. Dodgson became Bishop of Ossory and Ferns, and he was subsequently translated to the see of Elphin. He was warmly congratulated on this change in his fortunes by George III., who said that he ought indeed to be thankful to have got away from a palace where the stabling was so bad.

The Bishop had four children, the eldest of whom, Elizabeth Anne, married Charles Lutwidge, of Holmrook, in Cumberland. Two of the others died almost before they had attained manhood. Charles, the eldest son, entered the army, and rose to the rank of captain in the 4th Dragoon Guards. He met with a sad fate while serving his king and country in Ireland. One of the Irish rebels who were supposed to have been concerned in the murder of Lord Kilwarden offered to give himself up to justice if Captain Dodgson would come alone and at night to take him. Though he fully realised the risk, the brave captain decided to trust himself to the honour of this outlaw, as he felt that no chance should be missed of effecting so important a capture. Having first written a letter of farewell to his wife, he set out on the night of December 16, 1803, accompanied by a few troopers, for the meeting-place–an old hut that stood a mile or so from Phillipstown, in King’s County. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, he left his men a few hundred yards from the hut to await his return, and advanced alone through the night. A cowardly shot from one of the windows of the cottage ended his noble life, and alarmed the troopers, who, coming up in haste, were confronted with the dead body of their leader. The story is told that on the same night his wife heard two shots fired, and made inquiry about it, but could find out nothing. Shortly afterwards the news came that her husband had been killed just at that time.

Captain Dodgson left two sons behind him–Hassard, who, after a brilliant career as a special pleader, became a Master of the Court of Common Pleas, and Charles, the father of the subject of this Memoir.

Charles, who was the elder of the two, was born in the year 1800, at Hamilton, in Lanarkshire. He adopted the clerical profession, in which he rose to high honours. He was a distinguished scholar, and took a double first at Christ Church, Oxford. Although in after life mathematics were his favourite pursuit, yet the fact that he translated Tertullian for the “Library of the Fathers” is sufficient evidence that he made good use of his classical education. In the controversy about Baptismal Regeneration he took a prominent part, siding on the question with the Tractarians, though his views on some other points of Church doctrine were less advanced than those of the leaders of the Oxford movement. He was a man of deep piety and of a somewhat reserved and grave disposition, which, however, was tempered by the most generous charity, so that he was universally loved by the poor. In moments of relaxation his wit and humour were the delight of his clerical friends, for he had the rare power of telling anecdotes effectively. His reverence for sacred things was so great that he was never known to relate a story which included a jest upon words from the Bible.

In 1830 he married his cousin, Frances Jane Lutwidge, by whom he had eleven children, all of whom, except Lewis Carroll, survive. His wife, in the words of one who had the best possible opportunities for observing her character, was “one of the sweetest and gentlest women that ever lived, whom to know was to love. The earnestness of her simple faith and love shone forth in all she did and said; she seemed to live always in the conscious presence of God. It has been said by her children that they never in all their lives remember to have heard an impatient or harsh word from her lips.” It is easy to trace in Lewis Carroll’s character the influence of that most gentle of mothers; though dead she still speaks to us in some of the most beautiful and touching passages of his works. Not so long ago I had a conversation with an old friend of his; one of the first things she said to me was, “Tell me about his mother.” I complied with her request as well as I was able, and, when I had finished my account of Mrs. Dodgson’s beautiful character, she said, “Ah, I knew it must have been so; I felt sure he must have had a good mother.”

On January 27, 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born at Daresbury, of which parish his father was then incumbent. The village of Daresbury is about seven miles from Warrington; its name is supposed to be derived from a word meaning oak, and certainly oaks are very plentiful in the neighbourhood. A canal passes through an outlying part of the parish. The bargemen who frequented this canal were a special object of Mr. Dodgson’s pastoral care. Once, when walking with Lord Francis Egerton, who was a large landowner in the district, he spoke of his desire to provide some sort of religious privileges for them. “If I only had L100,” he said, “I would turn one of those barges into a chapel,” and, at his companion’s request, he described exactly how he would have the chapel constructed and furnished. A few weeks later he received a letter from Lord Francis to tell him that his wish was fulfilled, and that the chapel was ready. In this strange church, which is believed to have been the first of its kind, Mr. Dodgson conducted service and preached every Sunday evening!

[Illustration: Daresbury Parsonage]

The parsonage is situated a mile and a half from the village, on the glebe-farm, having been erected by a former incumbent, who, it was said, cared more for the glebe than the parish. Here it was that Charles spent the first eleven years of his life–years of complete seclusion from the world, for even the passing of a cart was a matter of great interest to the children.

[Illustration: Lewis Carroll, aged 8.]

In this quiet home the boy invented the strangest diversions for himself; he made pets of the most odd and unlikely animals, and numbered certain snails and toads among his intimate friends. He tried also to encourage civilised warfare among earthworms, by supplying them with small pieces of pipe, with which they might fight if so disposed. His notions of charity at this early age were somewhat rudimentary; he used to peel rushes with the idea that the pith would afterwards “be given to the poor,” though what possible use they could put it to he never attempted to explain. Indeed he seems at this time to have actually lived in that charming “Wonderland” which he afterwards described so vividly; but for all that he was a thorough boy, and loved to climb the trees and to scramble about in the old marl-pits.

One of the few breaks in this very uneventful life was a holiday spent with the other members of his family in Beaumaris. The journey took three days each way, for railroads were then almost unknown; and whatever advantages coaching may have had over travelling in trains, speed was certainly not one of them.

Mr. Dodgson from the first used to take an active part in his son’s education, and the following anecdote will show that he had at least a pupil who was anxious to learn. One day, when Charles was a very small boy, he came up to his father and showed him a book of logarithms, with the request, “Please explain.” Mr. Dodgson told him that he was much too young to understand anything about such a difficult subject. The child listened to what his father said, and appeared to think it irrelevant, for he still insisted, “_But_, please, explain!”

[Illustration: Mrs. Dodgson]

On one occasion Mr. and Mrs. Dodgson went to Hull, to pay a visit to the latter’s father, who had been seriously ill. From Hull Mrs. Dodgson wrote to Charles, and he set much store by this letter, which was probably one of the first he had received. He was afraid that some of his little sisters would mess it, or tear it up, so he wrote upon the back, “No one is to touch this note, for it belongs to C. L. D.”; but, this warning appearing insufficient, he added, “Covered with slimy pitch, so that they will wet their fingers.” The precious letter ran as follows:–

My dearest Charlie, I have used you rather ill in not having written to you sooner, but I know you will forgive me, as your Grandpapa has liked to have me with him so much, and I could not write and talk to him comfortably. All your notes have delighted me, my precious children, and show me that you have not quite forgotten me. I am always thinking of you, and longing to have you all round me again more than words can tell. God grant that we may find you all well and happy on Friday evening. I am happy to say your dearest Papa is quite well–his cough is rather _tickling_, but is of no consequence. It delights me, my darling Charlie, to hear that you are getting on so well with your Latin, and that you make so few mistakes in your Exercises. You will be happy to hear that your dearest Grandpapa is going on nicely–indeed I hope he will soon be quite well again. He talks a great deal and most kindly about you all. I hope my sweetest Will says “Mama” sometimes, and that precious Tish has not forgotten. Give them and all my other treasures, including yourself, 1,000,000,000 kisses from me, with my most affectionate love. I am sending you a shabby note, but I cannot help it. Give my kindest love to Aunt Dar, and believe me, my own dearest Charlie, to be your sincerely affectionate


Among the few visitors who disturbed the repose of Daresbury Parsonage was Mr. Durnford, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, with whom Mr. Dodgson had formed a close friendship. Another was Mr. Bayne, at that time head-master of Warrington Grammar School, who used occasionally to assist in the services at Daresbury. His son, Vere, was Charles’s playfellow; he is now a student of Christ Church, and the friendship between him and Lewis Carroll lasted without interruption till the death of the latter.

The memory of his birthplace did not soon fade from Charles’s mind; long afterwards he retained pleasant recollections of its rustic beauty. For instance, his poem of “The Three Sunsets,” which first appeared in 1860 in _All the Year Round,_ begins with the following stanzas, which have been slightly altered in later editions:–

I watch the drowsy night expire,
And Fancy paints at my desire
Her magic pictures in the fire.

An island farm, ‘mid seas of corn, Swayed by the wandering breath of morn, The happy spot where I was born.

Though nearly all Mr. Dodgson’s parishioners at Daresbury have passed away, yet there are still some few left who speak with loving reverence of him whose lips, now long silenced, used to speak so kindly to them; whose hands, long folded in sleep, were once so ready to alleviate their wants and sorrows.

In 1843 Sir Robert Peel presented him to the Crown living of Croft, a Yorkshire village about three miles south of Darlington. This preferment made a great change in the life of the family; it opened for them many more social opportunities, and put an end to that life of seclusion which, however beneficial it may be for a short time, is apt, if continued too long, to have a cramping and narrowing influence.

The river Tees is at Croft the dividing line between Yorkshire and Durham, and on the middle of the bridge which there crosses it is a stone which shows where the one county ends and the other begins. “Certain lands are held in this place,” says Lewis in his “Topographical Dictionary,” “by the owner presenting on the bridge, at the coming of every new Bishop of Durham, an old sword, pronouncing a legendary address, and delivering the sword to the Bishop, who returns it immediately.” The Tees is subject to extraordinary floods, and though Croft Church stands many feet above the ordinary level of the river, and is separated from it by the churchyard and a field, yet on one occasion the church itself was flooded, as was attested by water-marks on the old woodwork several feet from the floor, still to be seen when Mr. Dodgson was incumbent.

This church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, is a quaint old building with a Norman porch, the rest of it being of more modern construction. It contains a raised pew, which is approached by a winding flight of stairs, and is covered in, so that it resembles nothing so much as a four-post bedstead. This pew used to belong to the Milbanke family, with which Lord Byron was connected. Mr. Dodgson found the chancel-roof in so bad a state of repair that he was obliged to take it down, and replace it by an entirely new one. The only village school that existed when he came to the place was a sort of barn, which stood in a corner of the churchyard. During his incumbency a fine school-house was erected. Several members of his family used regularly to help in teaching the children, and excellent reports were obtained.

The Rectory is close to the church, and stands in the middle of a beautiful garden. The former incumbent had been an enthusiastic horticulturist, and the walls of the kitchen garden were covered with luxuriant fruit-trees, while the greenhouses were well stocked with rare and beautiful exotics. Among these was a specimen of that fantastic cactus, the night-blowing Cereus, whose flowers, after an existence of but a few hours, fade with the waning sun. On the day when this occurred large numbers of people used to obtain Mr. Dodgson’s leave to see the curiosity.

[Illustration: Croft Rectory]

Near the Rectory is a fine hotel, built when Croft was an important posting-station for the coaches between London and Edinburgh, but in Mr. Dodgson’s time chiefly used by gentlemen who stayed there during the hunting season. The village is renowned for its baths and medicinal waters. The parish of Croft includes the outlying hamlets of Halnaby, Dalton, and Stapleton, so that the Rector’s position is by no means a sinecure. Within the village is Croft Hall, the old seat of the Chaytors; but during Mr. Dodgson’s incumbency the then Sir William Chaytor built and lived at Clervaux Castle, calling it by an old family name.

Shortly after accepting the living of Croft, Mr. Dodgson was appointed examining chaplain to the Bishop of Ripon; subsequently he was made Archdeacon of Richmond and one of the Canons of Ripon Cathedral.

Charles was at this time very fond of inventing games for the amusement of his brothers and sisters; he constructed a rude train out of a wheelbarrow, a barrel and a small truck, which used to convey passengers from one “station” in the Rectory garden to another. At each of these stations there was a refreshment-room, and the passengers had to purchase tickets from him before they could enjoy their ride. The boy was also a clever conjuror, and, arrayed in a brown wig and a long white robe, used to cause no little wonder to his audience by his sleight-of-hand. With the assistance of various members of the family and the village carpenter, he made a troupe of marionettes and a small theatre for them to act in. He wrote all the plays himself the most popular being “The Tragedy of King John”–and he was very clever at manipulating the innumerable strings by which the movements of his puppets were regulated. One winter, when the snow lay thick upon the lawn, he traced upon it a maze of such hopeless intricacy as almost to put its famous rival at Hampton Court in the shade.

[Illustration: Toy Station in garden at Croft.]

When he was twelve years old his father sent him to school at Richmond, under Mr. Tate, a worthy son of that well-known Dr. Tate who had made Richmond School so famous.

I am able to give his earliest impressions of school-life in his own words, for one of his first letters home has been fortunately preserved. It is dated August 5th, and is addressed to his two eldest sisters. A boy who has _ten_ brothers and sisters can scarcely be expected to write separate letters to each of them.

My dear Fanny and Memy,–I hope you are all getting on well, as also the sweet twins, the boys I think that I like the best, are Harry Austin, and all the Tates of which there are 7 besides a little girl who came down to dinner the first day, but not since, and I also like Edmund Tremlet, and William and Edward Swire, Tremlet is a sharp little fellow about 7 years old, the youngest in the school, I also like Kemp and Mawley. The rest of the boys that I know are Bertram, Harry and Dick Wilson, and two Robinsons, I will tell you all about them when I return. The boys have played two tricks upon me which were these–they first proposed to play at “King of the Cobblers” and asked if I would be king, to which I agreed. Then they made me sit down and sat (on the ground) in a circle round me, and told me to say “Go to work” which I said, and they immediately began kicking me and knocking me on all sides. The next game they proposed was “Peter, the red lion,” and they made a mark on a tombstone (for we were playing in the churchyard) and one of the boys walked with his eyes shut, holding out his finger, trying to touch the mark; then a little boy came forward to lead the rest and led a good many very near the mark; at last it was my turn; they told me to shut my eyes well, and the next minute I had my finger in the mouth of one of the boys, who had stood (I believe) before the tombstone with his mouth open. For 2 nights I slept alone, and for the rest of the time with Ned Swire. The boys play me no tricks now. The only fault (tell Mama) that there has been was coming in one day to dinner just after grace. On Sunday we went to church in the morning, and sat in a large pew with Mr. Fielding, the church we went to is close by Mr. Tate’s house, we did not go in the afternoon but Mr. Tate read a discourse to the boys on the 5th commandment. We went to church again in the evening. Papa wished me to tell him all the texts I had heard preached upon, please to tell him that I could not hear it in the morning nor hardly one sentence of the sermon, but the one in the evening was I Cor. i. 23. I believe it was a farewell sermon, but I am not sure. Mrs. Tate has looked through my clothes and left in the trunk a great many that will not be wanted. I have had 3 misfortunes in my clothes etc. 1st, I cannot find my tooth-brush, so that I have not brushed my teeth for 3 or 4 days, 2nd, I cannot find my blotting paper, and 3rd, I have no shoe-horn. The chief games are, football, wrestling, leap frog, and fighting. Excuse bad writing.

Yr affec’ brother Charles.

_To_ SKEFF [_a younger brother, aged six_].

My dear Skeff,–Roar not lest thou be abolished. Yours, etc.,–.

The discomforts which he, as a “new boy,” had to put up with from his school-mates affected him as they do not, unfortunately, affect most boys, for in later school days he was famous as a champion of the weak and small, while every bully had good reason to fear him. Though it is hard for those who have only known him as the gentle and retiring don to believe it, it is nevertheless true that long after he left school his name was remembered as that of a boy who knew well how to use his fists in defence of a righteous cause.

As was the custom at that time, Charles began to compose Latin verses at a very early age, his first copy being dated November 25, 1844. The subject was evening, and this is how he treated it:–

Phoebus aqua splendet descendens, aequora tingens Splendore aurato. Pervenit umbra solo. Mortales lectos quaerunt, et membra relaxant Fessa labore dies; cuncta per orbe silet. Imperium placidum nunc sumit Phoebe corusca. Antris procedunt sanguine ore ferae.

These lines the boy solemnly copied into his Diary, apparently in the most blissful ignorance of the numerous mistakes they contained.

The next year he wrote a story which appeared in the school magazine. It was called “The Unknown One,” so it was probably of the sensational type in which small boys usually revel.

Though Richmond School, as it was in 1844, may not compare favourably in every respect with a modern preparatory school, where supervision has been so far “reduced to the absurd” that the unfortunate masters hardly get a minute to themselves from sunrise till long after sunset, yet no better or wiser men than those of the school of Mr. Tate are now to be found. Nor, I venture to think, are the results of the modern system more successful than those of the old one. Charles loved his “kind old schoolmaster,” as he affectionately calls him, and surely to gain the love of the boys is the main battle in school-management.

The impression he made upon his instructors may be gathered from the following extracts from Mr. Tate’s first report upon him:

Sufficient opportunities having been allowed me to draw from actual observation an estimate of your son’s character and abilities, I do not hesitate to express my opinion that he possesses, along with other and excellent natural endowments, a very uncommon share of genius. Gentle and cheerful in his intercourse with others, playful and ready in conversation, he is capable of acquirements and knowledge far beyond his years, while his reason is so clear and so jealous of error, that he will not rest satisfied without a most exact solution of whatever appears to him obscure. He has passed an excellent examination just now in mathematics, exhibiting at times an illustration of that love of precise argument, which seems to him natural.

I must not omit to set off against these great advantages one or two faults, of which the removal as soon as possible is desirable, tho’ I am prepared to find it a work of time. As you are well aware, our young friend, while jealous of error, as I said above, where important faith or principles are concerned, is exceedingly lenient towards lesser frailties–and, whether in reading aloud or metrical composition, frequently sets at nought the notions of Virgil or Ovid as to syllabic quantity. He is moreover marvellously ingenious in replacing the ordinary inflexions of nouns and verbs, as detailed in our grammars, by more exact analogies, or convenient forms of his own devising. This source of fault will in due time exhaust itself, though flowing freely at present…. You may fairly anticipate for him a bright career. Allow me, before I close, one suggestion which assumes for itself the wisdom of experience and the sincerity of the best intention. You must not entrust your son with a full knowledge of his superiority over other boys. Let him discover this as he proceeds. The love of excellence is far beyond the love of excelling; and if he should once be bewitched into a mere ambition to surpass others I need not urge that the very quality of his knowledge would be materially injured, and that his character would receive a stain of a more serious description still….

And again, when Charles was leaving Richmond, he wrote:

“Be assured that I shall always feel a peculiar interest in the gentle, intelligent, and well-conducted boy who is now leaving us.”

Although his father had been a Westminster boy, Charles was, for some reason or other, sent to Rugby. The great Arnold, who had, one might almost say, created Rugby School, and who certainly had done more for it than all his predecessors put together, had gone to his rest, and for four years the reins of government had been in the firm hands of Dr. Tait, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. He was Headmaster during the whole of the time Charles was at Rugby, except the last year, during which Dr. Goulburn held that office. Charles went up in February, 1846, and he must have found his new life a great change from his quiet experiences at Richmond. Football was in full swing, and one can imagine that to a new boy “Big-side” was not an unalloyed delight. Whether he distinguished himself as a “dropper,” or ever beat the record time in the “Crick” run, I do not know. Probably not; his abilities did not lie much in the field of athletics. But he got on capitally with his work, and seldom returned home without one or more prizes. Moreover, he conducted himself so well that he never had to enter that dreaded chamber, well known to _some_ Rugbeians, which is approached by a staircase that winds up a little turret, and wherein are enacted scenes better imagined than described.

[Illustration: Archbishop Tait. _From a photograph by Messrs. Elliott and Fry_]

A schoolboy’s letter home is not, usually, remarkable for the intelligence displayed in it; as a rule it merely leads up with more or less ingenuity to the inevitable request for money contained in the postscript. Some of Charles’s letters were of a different sort, as the following example shows:

Yesterday evening I was walking out with a friend of mine who attends as mathematical pupil Mr. Smythies the second mathematical master; we went up to Mr. Smythies’ house, as he wanted to speak to him, and he asked us to stop and have a glass of wine and some figs. He seems as devoted to his duty as Mr. Mayor, and asked me with a smile of delight, “Well Dodgson I suppose you’re getting well on with your mathematics?” He is very clever at them, though not equal to Mr. Mayor, as indeed few men are, Papa excepted…. I have read the first number of Dickens’ new tale, “Davy Copperfield.” It purports to be his life, and begins with his birth and childhood; it seems a poor plot, but some of the characters and scenes are good. One of the persons that amused me was a Mrs. Gummidge, a wretched melancholy person, who is always crying, happen what will, and whenever the fire smokes, or other trifling accident occurs, makes the remark with great bitterness, and many tears, that she is a “lone lorn creetur, and everything goes contrairy with her.” I have not yet been able to get the second volume Macaulay’s “England” to read. I have seen it however and one passage struck me when seven bishops had signed the invitation to the pretender, and King James sent for Bishop Compton (who was one of the seven) and asked him “whether he or any of his ecclesiastical brethren had anything to do with it?” He replied, after a moment’s thought “I am fully persuaded your majesty, that there is not one of my brethren who is not as innocent in the matter as myself.” This was certainly no actual lie, but certainly, as Macaulay says, it was very little different from one.

The Mr. Mayor who is mentioned in this letter formed a very high opinion of his pupil’s ability, for in 1848 he wrote to Archdeacon Dodgson: “I have not had a more promising boy at his age since I came to Rugby.”

Dr. Tait speaks no less warmly:–

My dear Sir,–I must not allow your son to leave school without expressing to you the very high opinion I entertain of him. I fully coincide in Mr. Cotton’s estimate both of his abilities and upright conduct. His mathematical knowledge is great for his age, and I doubt not he will do himself credit in classics. As I believe I mentioned to you before, his examination for the Divinity prize was one of the most creditable exhibitions I have ever seen.

During the whole time of his being in my house, his conduct has been excellent.

Believe me to be, My dear Sir,

Yours very faithfully,


Public school life then was not what it is now; the atrocious system then in vogue of setting hundreds of lines for the most trifling offences made every day a weariness and a hopeless waste of time, while the bad discipline which was maintained in the dormitories made even the nights intolerable–especially for the small boys, whose beds in winter were denuded of blankets that the bigger ones might not feel cold.

Charles kept no diary during his time at Rugby; but, looking back upon it, he writes in 1855:–

During my stay I made I suppose some progress in learning of various kinds, but none of it was done _con amore_, and I spent an incalculable time in writing out impositions–this last I consider one of the chief faults of Rugby School. I made some friends there, the most intimate being Henry Leigh Bennett (as college acquaintances we find fewer common sympathies, and are consequently less intimate)–but I cannot say that I look back upon my life at a Public School with any sensations of pleasure, or that any earthly considerations would induce me to go through my three years again.

When, some years afterwards, he visited Radley School, he was much struck by the cubicle system which prevails in the dormitories there, and wrote in his Diary, “I can say that if I had been thus secure from annoyance at night, the hardships of the daily life would have been comparative trifles to bear.”

The picture on page 32 was, I believe, drawn by Charles rile he was at Rugby in illustration of a letter received from one of his sisters. Halnaby, as I have said before, was an outlying district of Croft parish.

During his holidays he used to amuse himself by editing local magazines. Indeed, they might be called _very local_ magazines, as their circulation was confined to the inmates of Croft Rectory. The first of these, _Useful and Instructive Poetry_, was written about 1845. It came to an untimely end after a six months’ run, and was followed at varying intervals by several other periodicals, equally short-lived.

In 1849 or 1850, _The Rectory Umbrella_ began to appear. As the editor was by this time seventeen or eighteen years old, it was naturally of a more ambitious character than any of its precursors. It contained a serial story of the most thrilling interest, entitled, “The Walking-Stick of Destiny,” some meritorious poetry, a few humorous essays, and several caricatures of pictures in the Vernon Gallery. Three reproductions of these pictures follow, with extracts from the _Umbrella_ descriptive of them.

[Illustration: The only sister who _would_ write to her brother, though the table had just “folded down”! The other sisters are depicted “sternly resolved to set off to Halnaby & the Castle,” tho’ it is yet “early, early morning”–Rembrondt.]


As our readers will have seen by the preceding page, we have commenced engraving the above series of pictures. “The Age of Innocence,” by Sir J. Reynolds, representing a young Hippopotamus seated under a shady tree, presents to the contemplative mind a charming union of youth and innocence.


[Illustration: _”The Scanty Meal.”_]

We have been unusually[001] successful in our second engraving from the Vernon Gallery. The picture is intended, as our readers will perceive, to illustrate the evils of homoeopathy.[002] This idea is well carried out through the whole picture. The thin old lady at the head of the table is in the painter’s best style; we almost fancy we can trace in the eye of the other lady a lurking suspicion that her glasses are not really in fault, and that the old gentleman has helped her to _nothing_ instead of a nonillionth.[003] Her companion has evidently got an empty glass in his hand; the two children in front are admirably managed, and there is a sly smile on the footman’s face, as if he thoroughly enjoyed either the bad news he is bringing or the wrath of his mistress. The carpet is executed with that elaborate care for which Mr. Herring is so famed, and the picture on the whole is one of his best.

“_The First Ear-ring_”

The scene from which this excellent picture is painted is taken from a passage in the autobiography[004] of the celebrated Sir William Smith[005] of his life when a schoolboy: we transcribe the passage: “One day Bill Tomkins[006] and I were left alone in the house, the old doctor being out; after playing a number of pranks Bill laid me a bet of sixpence that I wouldn’t pour a bottle of ink over the doctor’s cat. _I did it_, but at that moment old Muggles came home, and caught me by the ear as I attempted to run away. My sensations at the moment I shall never forget; _on that occasion I received my first ear-ring_.[007] The only remark Bill made to me, as he paid me the money afterwards was, ‘I say, didn’t you just howl jolly!'” The engraving is an excellent copy of the picture.

[Illustration: Sir D. Wilkie Painter The First Earring. W. Greatbach Engraver. _from the picture in the Vernon Gallery_]

The best thing in the _Rectory Umbrella_ was a parody on Lord Macaulay’s style in the “Lays of Ancient Rome”; Charles had a special aptitude for parody, as is evidenced by several of the best-known verses in his later books.


No. 2.

Fair stands the ancient[008] Rectory, The Rectory of Croft,
The sun shines bright upon it,
The breezes whisper soft.
From all the house and garden
Its inhabitants come forth,
And muster in the road without, And pace in twos and threes about,
The children of the North.

Some are waiting in the garden,
Some are waiting at the door,
And some are following behind,
And some have gone before.
But wherefore all this mustering? Wherefore this vast array?
A gallant feat of horsemanship
Will be performed to-day.

To eastward and to westward,
The crowd divides amain,
Two youths are leading on the steed, Both tugging at the rein;
And sorely do they labour,
For the steed[009] is very strong, And backward moves its stubborn feet, And backward ever doth retreat,
And drags its guides along.

And now the knight hath mounted,
Before the admiring band,
Hath got the stirrups on his feet. The bridle in his hand.
Yet, oh! beware, sir horseman!
And tempt thy fate no more,
For such a steed as thou hast got, Was never rid before!

The rabbits[010] bow before thee. And cower in the straw;
The chickens[011] are submissive, And own thy will for law;
Bullfinches and canary
Thy bidding do obey;
And e’en the tortoise in its shell Doth never say thee nay.

But thy steed will hear no master, Thy steed will bear no stick,
And woe to those that beat her, And woe to those that kick![012]
For though her rider smite her, As hard as he can hit,
And strive to turn her from the yard, She stands in silence, pulling hard
Against the pulling bit.

And now the road to Dalton
Hath felt their coming tread,
The crowd are speeding on before, And all have gone ahead.
Yet often look they backward,
And cheer him on, and bawl,
For slower still, and still more slow, That horseman and that charger go,
And scarce advance at all.

And now two roads to choose from
Are in that rider’s sight:
In front the road to Dalton,
And New Croft upon the right.
“I can’t get by!” he bellows,
“I really am not able!
Though I pull my shoulder out of joint, I cannot get him past this point,
For it leads unto his stable!”

Then out spake Ulfrid Longbow,[013] A valiant youth was he,
“Lo! I will stand on thy right hand And guard the pass for thee!”
And out spake fair Flureeza,[014] His sister eke was she,
“I will abide on thy other side, And turn thy steed for thee!”

And now commenced a struggle
Between that steed and rider,
For all the strength that he hath left Doth not suffice to guide her.
Though Ulfrid and his sister
Have kindly stopped the way,
And all the crowd have cried aloud, “We can’t wait here all day!”

Round turned he as not deigning
Their words to understand,
But he slipped the stirrups from his feet The bridle from his hand,
And grasped the mane full lightly, And vaulted from his seat,
And gained the road in triumph,[015] And stood upon his feet.

All firmly till that moment
Had Ulfrid Longbow stood,
And faced the foe right valiantly, As every warrior should.
But when safe on terra firma
His brother he did spy,
“What _did_ you do that for?” he cried, Then unconcerned he stepped aside
And let it canter by.

They gave him bread and butter,[016] That was of public right,
As much as four strong rabbits, Could munch from morn to night,
For he’d done a deed of daring, And faced that savage steed,
And therefore cups of coffee sweet, And everything that was a treat,
Were but his right and meed.

And often in the evenings,
When the fire is blazing bright, When books bestrew the table
And moths obscure the light,
When crying children go to bed, A struggling, kicking load;
We’ll talk of Ulfrid Longbow’s deed, How, in his brother’s utmost need,
Back to his aid he flew with speed, And how he faced the fiery steed,
And kept the New Croft Road.

[Illustration: Exterior of Christ Church]

* * * * *



Matriculation at Christ Church–Death of Mrs. Dodgson–The Great Exhibition–University and College Honours–A wonderful year–A theatrical treat–_Misch-Masch–The Train–College Rhymes_–His _nom de
plume_–“Dotheboys Hall”–Alfred
Tennyson–Ordination–Sermons–A visit to Farringford–“Where does the day begin?”–The Queen visits Oxford.

We have traced in the boyhood of Lewis Carroll the beginnings of those characteristic traits which afterwards, more fully developed, gave him so distinguished a position among his contemporaries. We now come to a period of his life which is in some respects necessarily less interesting. We all have to pass through that painful era of self-consciousness which prefaces manhood, that time when we feel so deeply, and are so utterly unable to express to others, or even to define clearly to ourselves, what it is we do feel. The natural freedom of childhood is dead within us; the conventional freedom of riper years is struggling to birth, and its efforts are sometimes ludicrous to an unsympathetic observer. In Lewis Carroll’s mental attitude during this critical period there was always a calm dignity which saved him from these absurdities, an undercurrent of consciousness that what seemed so great to him was really very little.

On May 23, 1850, he matriculated at Christ Church, the venerable college which had numbered his father’s among other illustrious names. A letter from Dr. Jelf, one of the canons of Christ Church, to Archdeacon Dodgson, written when the former heard that his old friend’s son was coming up to “the House,” contains the following words: “I am sure I express the common feeling of all who remember you at Christ Church when I say that we shall rejoice to see a son of yours worthy to tread in your footsteps.”

Lewis Carroll came into residence on January 24, 1851. From that day to the hour of his death–a period of forty-seven years–he belonged to “the House,” never leaving it for any length of time, becoming almost a part of it. I, for one, can hardly imagine it without him.

Though technically “in residence,” he had not rooms of his own in College during his first term. The “House” was very full; and had it not been for one of the tutors, the Rev. J. Lew, kindly lending him one of his own rooms, he would have had to take lodgings in the town. The first set of rooms he occupied was in Peckwater Quadrangle, which is annually the scene of a great bonfire on Guy Fawkes’ Day, and, generally speaking, is not the best place for a reading man to live in.

In those days the undergraduates dining in hall were divided into “messes.” Each mess consisted of about half a dozen men, who had a table to themselves. Dinner was served at five, and very indifferently served, too; the dishes and plates were of pewter, and the joint was passed round, each man cutting off what he wanted for himself. In Mr. Dodgson’s mess were Philip Pusey, the late Rev. G. C. Woodhouse, and, among others, one who still lives in “Alice in Wonderland” as the “Hatter.”

Only a few days after term began, Mrs. Dodgson died suddenly at Croft. The shock was a terrible one to the whole family, and especially to her devoted husband. I have come across a delightful and most characteristic letter from Dr. Pusey–a letter full of the kindest and truest sympathy with the Archdeacon in his bereavement. The part of it which bears upon Mrs. Dodgson’s death I give in full:–

[Illustration: Grave of Archdeacon and Mrs. Dodgson in Croft Churchyard.]

My dear Friend, I hear and see so little and so few persons, that I had not heard of your sorrow until your to-day’s letter; and now I but guess what it was: only your language is that of the very deepest. I have often thought, since I had to think of this, how, in all adversity, what God takes away He may give us back with increase. One cannot think that any holy earthly love will cease, when we shall “be like the Angels of God in Heaven.” Love here must shadow our love there, deeper because spiritual, without any alloy from our sinful nature, and in the fulness of the love of God. But as we grow here by God’s grace will be our capacity for endless love. So, then, if by our very sufferings we are purified, and our hearts enlarged, we shall, in that endless bliss, love more those whom we loved here, than if we had never had that sorrow, never been parted….

Lewis Carroll was summoned home to attend the funeral–a sad interlude amidst the novel experiences of a first term at College. The Oxford of 1851 was in many ways quite unlike the Oxford of 1898. The position of the undergraduates was much more similar to that of schoolboys than is now the case; they were subject to the same penalties–corporal punishment, even, had only just gone out of vogue!–and were expected to work, and to work hard.

Early rising then was strictly enforced, as the following extract from one of his letters will show:–

I am not so anxious as usual to begin my personal history, as the first thing I have to record is a very sad incident, namely, my missing morning chapel; before, however, you condemn me, you must hear how accidental it was. For some days now I have been in the habit of, I will not say getting up, but of being called at a quarter past six, and generally managing to be down soon after seven. In the present instance I had been up the night before till about half-past twelve, and consequently when I was called I fell asleep again, and was thunderstruck to find on waking that it was ten minutes past eight. I have had no imposition, nor heard anything about it. It is rather vexatious to have happened so soon, as I had intended never to be late.

[Illustration: Lewis Carroll, aged 23.]

It was therefore obviously his custom to have his breakfast _before_ going to chapel. I wonder how many undergraduates of the present generation follow the same hardy rule! But then no “impositions” threaten the modern sluggard, even if he neglects chapel altogether.

During the Long Vacation he visited the Great Exhibition, and wrote his sister Elizabeth a long account of what he had seen:–

I think the first impression produced on you when you get inside is one of bewilderment. It looks like a sort of fairyland. As far as you can look in any direction, you see nothing but pillars hung about with shawls, carpets, &c., with long avenues of statues, fountains, canopies, etc., etc., etc. The first thing to be seen on entering is the Crystal Fountain, a most elegant one about thirty feet high at a rough guess, composed entirely of glass and pouring down jets of water from basin to basin; this is in the middle of the centre nave, and from it you can look down to either end, and up both transepts. The centre of the nave mostly consists of a long line of colossal statues, some most magnificent. The one considered the finest, I believe, is the Amazon and Tiger. She is sitting on horseback, and a tiger has fastened on the neck of the horse in front. You have to go to one side to see her face, and the other to see the horse’s. The horse’s face is really wonderful, expressing terror and pain so exactly, that you almost expect to hear it scream…. There are some very ingenious pieces of mechanism. A tree (in the French Compartment) with birds chirping and hopping from branch to branch exactly like life. The bird jumps across, turns round on the other branch, so as to face back again, settles its head and neck, and then in a few moments jumps back again. A bird standing at the foot of the tree trying to eat a beetle is rather a failure; it never succeeds in getting its head more than a quarter of an inch down, and that in uncomfortable little jerks, as if it was choking. I have to go to the Royal Academy, so must stop: as the subject is quite inexhaustible, there is no hope of ever coming to a regular finish.

On November 1st he won a Boulter scholarship, and at the end of the following year obtained First Class Honours in Mathematics and a Second in Classical Moderations. On Christmas Eve he was made a Student on Dr. Pusey’s nomination, for at that time the Dean and Canons nominated to Studentships by turn. The only conditions on which these old Studentships were held were that the Student should remain unmarried, and should proceed to Holy Orders. No statute precisely defined what work was expected of them, that question being largely left to their own discretion.

The eight Students at the bottom of the list that is to say, the eight who had been nominated last–had to mark, by pricking on weekly papers called “the Bills,” the attendance at morning and evening chapel. They were allowed to arrange this duty among themselves, and, if it was neglected, they were all punished. This long-defunct custom explains an entry in Lewis Carroll’s Diary for October 15, 1853, “Found I had got the prickbills two hundred lines apiece, by not pricking in in the morning,” which, I must confess, mystified me exceedingly at first. Another reference to College impositions occurs further on in his Diary, at a time when he was a Lecturer: “Spoke to the Dean about F–, who has brought an imposition which his tutor declares is not his own writing, after being expressly told to write it himself.”

The following is an extract from his father’s letter of congratulation, on his being nominated for the Studentship:–

My dearest Charles,–The feelings of thankfulness and delight with which I have read your letter just received, I must leave to _your conception_; for they are, I assure you, beyond _my expression_; and your affectionate heart will derive no small addition of joy from thinking of the joy which you have occasioned to me, and to all the circle of your home. I say “_you_ have occasioned,” because, grateful as I am to my old friend Dr. Pusey for what he has done, I cannot desire stronger evidence than his own words of the fact that you have _won_, and well won, this honour for _yourself_, and that it is bestowed as a matter of _justice_ to _you_, and not of _kindness_ to _me_. You will be interested in reading extracts from his two letters to me–the first written three years ago in answer to one from me, in which I distinctly told him that I neither asked nor expected that he should serve me in this matter, unless my son should fairly reach the standard of merit by which these appointments were regulated. In reply he says–

“I thank you for the way in which you put the application to me. I have now, for nearly twenty years, not given a Studentship to any friend of my own, unless there was no very eligible person in the College. I have passed by or declined the sons of those to whom I was personally indebted for kindness. I can only say that I shall have _very great_ pleasure, if circumstances permit me to nominate your son.”

In his letter received this morning he says–

“I have great pleasure in telling you that I have been enabled to recommend your son for a Studentship this Christmas. It must be so much more satisfactory to you that he should be nominated thus, in consequence of the recommendation of the College. One of the Censors brought me to-day five names; but in their minds it was plain that they thought your son on the whole the most eligible for the College. It has been very satisfactory to hear of your son’s uniform steady and good conduct.”

The last clause is a parallel to your own report, and I am glad that you should have had so soon an evidence so substantial of the truth of what I have so often inculcated, that it is the “steady, painstaking, likely-to-do-good” man, who in the long run wins the race against those who now and then give a brilliant flash and, as Shakespeare says, “straight are cold again.”

[Illustration: Archdeacon Dodgson.]

In 1853 Archdeacon Dodgson was collated and installed as one of the Canons of Ripon Cathedral. This appointment necessitated a residence of three months in every year at Ripon, where Dr. Erskine was then Dean. A certain Miss Anderson, who used to stay at the Deanery, had very remarkable “clairvoyant” powers; she was able–it was averred–by merely holding in her hand a folded paper containing some words written by a person unknown to her, to describe his or her character. In this way, at what precise date is uncertain, she dictated the following description of Lewis Carroll: “Very clever head; a great deal of number; a great deal of imitation; he would make a good actor; diffident; rather shy in general society; comes out in the home circle; rather obstinate; very clever; a great deal of concentration; very affectionate; a great deal of wit and humour; not much eventuality (or memory of events); fond of deep reading; imaginative, fond, of reading poetry; _may_ compose.” Those who knew him well will agree that this was, at any rate, a remarkable coincidence.

Longley, afterwards Primate, was then Bishop of Ripon. His charming character endeared him to the Archdeacon and his family, as to every one else who saw much of him. He was one of the few men whose faces can truly be called _beautiful_; it was a veil through which a soul, all gentleness and truth, shone brightly.

In the early part of 1854 Mr. Dodgson was reading hard for “Greats.” For the last three weeks before the examination he worked thirteen hours a day, spending the whole night before the _viva voce_ over his books. But philosophy and history were not very congenial subjects to him, and when the list was published his name was only in the third class.

[Illustration: Archbishop Longley.]

He spent the Long Vacation at Whitby, reading Mathematics with Professor Price. His work bore good fruit, for in October he obtained First Class Honours in the Final Mathematical School. “I am getting quite tired of being congratulated on various subjects,” he writes; “there seems to be no end of it. If I had shot the Dean I could hardly have had more said about it.”

In another letter dated December 13th, he says:

Enclosed you will find a list which I expect you to rejoice over considerably; it will take me more than a day to believe it, I expect–I feel at present very like a child with a new toy, but I daresay I shall be tired of it soon, and wish to be Pope of Rome next…. I have just been to Mr. Price to see how I did in the papers, and the result will I hope be gratifying to you. The following were the sums total for each in the First Class, as nearly as I can remember:–

Dodgson … … … 279
Bosanquet … … … 261
Cookson … … … 254
Fowler … … … 225
Ranken … … … 213

He also said he never remembered so good a set of men in. All this is very satisfactory. I must also add (this is a very boastful letter) that I ought to get the senior scholarship next term…. One thing more I will add, to crown all, and that is, I find I am the next First Class Mathematical Student to Faussett (with the exception of Kitchin who has given up Mathematics), so that I stand next (as Bosanquet is going to leave) for the Lectureship.

On December 18th he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and on October 15, 1855, he was made a “Master of the House,” in honour of the appointment of the new Dean (Dr. Liddell) who succeeded Dean Gaisford. To be made Master of the House means that a man has all the privileges of a Master of Arts within the walls of Christ Church. But he must be of a certain number of terms’ standing, and be admitted in due form by the Vice-Chancellor, before he is a Master of Arts of the University. In this wider sense Mr. Dodgson did not take his Master’s degree until 1857.

This is anticipating events, and there is much to tell of the year 1855, which was a very eventful one for him. On February 15th he was made Sub-Librarian. “This will add L35 to my income,” he writes, “not much towards independence.” For he was most anxious to have a sufficient income to make him his own master, that he might enter on the literary and artistic career of which he was already dreaming. On May 14th he wrote in his Diary: “The Dean and Canons have been pleased to give me one of the Bostock scholarships, said to be worth L20 a year–this very nearly raises my income this year to independence. Courage!”

His college work, during 1855, was chiefly taking private pupils, but he had, in addition, about three and a half hours a day of lecturing during the last term of the year. He did not, however, work as one of the regular staff of lecturers until the next year. From that date his work rapidly increased, and he soon had to devote regularly as much as seven hours a day to delivering lectures, to say nothing of the time required for preparing them.

The following extract from his Journal, June 22, 1855, will serve to show his early love for the drama. The scene is laid at the Princess’ Theatre, then at the height of its glory:–

The evening began with a capital farce, “Away with Melancholy,” and then came the great play, “Henry VIII.,” the greatest theatrical treat I ever had or ever expect to have. I had no idea that anything so superb as the scenery and dresses was ever to be seen on the stage. Kean was magnificent as Cardinal Wolsey, Mrs. Kean a worthy successor to Mrs. Siddons as Queen Catherine, and all the accessories without exception were good–but oh, that exquisite vision of Queen Catherine’s! I almost held my breath to watch: the illusion is perfect, and I felt as if in a dream all the time it lasted. It was like a delicious reverie, or the most beautiful poetry. This is the true end and object of acting–to raise the mind above itself, and out of its petty cares. Never shall I forget that wonderful evening, that exquisite vision–sunbeams broke in through the roof, and gradually revealed two angel forms, floating in front of the carved work on the ceiling: the column of sunbeams shone down upon the sleeping queen, and gradually down it floated, a troop of angelic forms, transparent, and carrying palm branches in their hands: they waved these over the sleeping queen, with oh! such a sad and solemn grace. So could I fancy (if the thought be not profane) would real angels seem to our mortal vision, though doubtless our conception is poor and mean to the reality. She in an ecstasy raises her arms towards them, and to sweet slow music, they vanish as marvellously as they came. Then the profound silence of the audience burst at once into a rapture of applause; but even that scarcely marred the effect of the beautiful sad waking words of the Queen, “Spirits of peace, where are ye?” I never enjoyed anything so much in my life before; and never felt so inclined to shed tears at anything fictitious, save perhaps at that poetical gem of Dickens, the death of little Paul.

On August 21st he received a long letter from his father, full of excellent advice on the importance to a young man of saving money:–

I will just sketch for you [writes the Archdeacon] a supposed case, applicable to your own circumstances, of a young man of twenty-three, making up his mind to work for ten years, and living to do it, on an Income enabling him to save L150 a year–supposing him to appropriate it thus:–

L s. d.

Invested at 4 per cent. … … 100 0 0

Life Insurance of L1,500 … 29 15 0 Books, besides those bought in
ordinary course … … … 20 5 0 _____________
L150 0 0

Suppose him at the end of the ten years to get a Living enabling him to settle, what will be the result of his savings:–

1. A nest egg of L1,220 ready money, for furnishing and other expenses.

2. A sum of L1,500 secured at his death on payment of a _very much_ smaller annual Premium than if he had then begun to insure it.

3. A useful Library, worth more than L200, besides the books bought out of his current Income during the period….

The picture on the opposite page is one of Mr. Dodgson’s illustrations in _Misch-Masch,_ a periodical of the nature of _The Rectory Umbrella_, except that it contained printed stories and poems by the editor, cut out of the various newspapers to which he had contributed them. Of the comic papers of that day _Punch,_ of course, held the foremost place, but it was not without rivals; there was a certain paper called _Diogenes_, then very near its end, which imitated _Punch’s_ style, and in 1853 the proprietor of _The Illustrated News_, at that time one of the most opulent publishers in London, started _The Comic Times._ A capable editor was found in Edmund Yates; “Phiz” and other well-known artists and writers joined the staff, and 100,000 copies of the first number were printed.

[Illustration: Studies from English Poets II “Alas! What Boots–” Milton’s Lucidas.]

Among the contributors was Frank Smedley, author of “Frank Fairleigh.” Though a confirmed invalid, and condemned to spend most of his days on a sofa, Mr. Smedley managed to write several fine novels, full of the joy of life, and free from the least taint of discontent or morbid feeling. He was one of those men–one meets them here and there–whose minds rise high above their bodily infirmities; at moments of depression, which come to them as frequently, if not more frequently, than to other men, they no doubt feel their weakness, and think themselves despised, little knowing that we, the stronger ones in body, feel nothing but admiration as we watch the splendid victory of the soul over its earthly companion which their lives display.

It was through Frank Smedley that Mr. Dodgson became one of the contributors to _The Comic Times_. Several of his poems appeared in it, and Mr. Yates wrote to him in the kindest manner, expressing warm approval of them. When _The Comic Times_ changed hands in 1856, and was reduced to half its size, the whole staff left it and started a new venture, _The Train_. They were joined by Sala, whose stories in _Household Words_ were at that time usually ascribed by the uninitiated to Charles Dickens. Mr. Dodgson’s contributions to _The Train_ included the following: “Solitude” (March, 1856); “Novelty and Romancement” (October, 1856); “The Three Voices” (November, 1856); “The Sailor’s Wife” (May, 1857); and last, but by no means least, “Hiawatha’s Photographing” (December, 1857). All of these, except “Novelty and Romancement,” have since been republished in “Rhyme? and Reason?” and “Three Sunsets.”

The last entry in Mr. Dodgson’s Diary for this year reads as follows:–

I am sitting alone in my bedroom this last night of the old year, waiting for midnight. It has been the most eventful year of my life: I began it a poor bachelor student, with no definite plans or expectations; I end it a master and tutor in Ch. Ch., with an income of more than L300 a year, and the course of mathematical tuition marked out by God’s providence for at least some years to come. Great mercies, great failings, time lost, talents misapplied–such has been the past year.

His Diary is full of such modest depreciations of himself and his work, interspersed with earnest prayers (too sacred and private to be reproduced here) that God would forgive him the past, and help him to perform His holy will in the future. And all the time that he was thus speaking of himself as a sinner, and a man who was utterly falling short of his aim, he was living a life full of good deeds and innumerable charities, a life of incessant labour and unremitting fulfilment of duty. So, I suppose, it is always with those who have a really high ideal; the harder they try to approach it the more it seems to recede from them, or rather, perhaps, it is impossible to be both “the subject and spectator” of goodness. As Coventry Patmore wrote:–

Become whatever good you see;
Nor sigh if, forthwith, fades from view The grace of which you may not be
The Subject and spectator too.

The reading of “Alton Locke” turned his mind towards social subjects. “If the book were but a little more definite,” he writes, “it might stir up many fellow-workers in the same good field of social improvement. Oh that God, in His good providence, may make me hereafter such a worker! But alas, what are the means? Each one has his own _nostrum_ to propound, and in the Babel of voices nothing is done. I would thankfully spend and be spent so long as I were sure of really effecting something by the sacrifice, and not merely lying down under the wheels of some irresistible Juggernaut.”

He was for some time the editor of _College Rhymes_, a Christ Church paper, in which his poem, “A Sea Dirge” (afterwards republished in “Phantasmagoria,” and again in “Rhyme? and Reason?”), first appeared. The following verses were among his contributions to the same magazine:–

I painted her a gushing thing,
With years perhaps a score
I little thought to find they were At least a dozen more;
My fancy gave her eyes of blue,
A curly auburn head:
I came to find the blue a green,
The auburn turned to red.

She boxed my ears this morning,
They tingled very much;
I own that I could wish her
A somewhat lighter touch;
And if you were to ask me how
Her charms might be improved,
I would not have them _added to_, But just a few _removed_!

She has the bear’s ethereal grace,
The bland hyena’s laugh,
The footstep of the elephant,
The neck of the giraffe;
I love her still, believe me,
Though my heart its passion hides; “She is all my fancy painted her,”
But oh! _how much besides_!

It was when writing for _The Train_ that he first felt the need of a pseudonym. He suggested “Dares” (the first syllable of his birthplace) to Edmund Yates, but, as this did not meet with his editor’s approval, he wrote again, giving a choice of four names, (1) Edgar Cuthwellis, (2) Edgar U. C. Westhall, (3) Louis Carroll, and (4) Lewis Carroll. The first two were formed from the letters of his two Christian names, Charles Lutwidge; the others are merely variant forms of those names–Lewis = Ludovicus = Lutwidge; Carroll = Carolus = Charles. Mr. Yates chose the last, and thenceforward it became Mr. Dodgson’s ordinary _nom de plume_. The first occasion on which he used it was, I believe, when he wrote “The Path of Roses,” a poem which appeared in _The Train_ in May, 1856.

On June 16th he again visited the Princess’s Theatre. This time the play was “A Winter’s Tale,” and he “especially admired the acting of the little Mamillius, Ellen Terry, a beautiful little creature, who played with remarkable ease and spirit.”

During the Long Vacation he spent a few weeks in the English Lake District. In spite of the rain, of which he had his full share, he managed to see a good deal of the best scenery, and made the ascent of Gable in the face of an icy gale, which laid him up with neuralgia for some days. He and his companions returned to Croft by way of Barnard Castle, as he narrates in his Diary:–

We set out by coach for Barnard Castle at about seven, and passed over about forty miles of the dreariest hill-country I ever saw; the climax of wretchedness was reached in Bowes, where yet stands the original of “Dotheboys Hall”; it has long ceased to be used as a school, and is falling into ruin, in which the whole place seems to be following its example–the roofs are falling in, and the windows broken or barricaded–the whole town looks plague-stricken. The courtyard of the inn we stopped at was grown over with weeds, and a mouthing idiot lolled against the corner of the house, like the evil genius of the spot. Next to a prison or a lunatic asylum, preserve me from living at Bowes!

Although he was anything but a sportsman, he was interested in the subject of betting, from a mathematical standpoint solely, and in 1857 he sent a letter to _Bell’s Life_, explaining a method by which a betting man might ensure winning over any race. The system was either to back _every_ horse, or to lay against _every_ horse, according to the way the odds added up. He showed his scheme to a sporting friend, who remarked, “An excellent system, and you’re bound to win–_if only you can get people to take your bets_.”

In the same year he made the acquaintance of Tennyson, whose writings he had long intensely admired. He thus describes the poet’s appearance:–

A strange shaggy-looking man; his hair, moustache, and beard looked wild and neglected; these very much hid the character of the face. He was dressed in a loosely fitting morning coat, common grey flannel waistcoat and trousers, and a carelessly tied black silk neckerchief. His hair is black; I think the eyes too; they are keen and restless–nose aquiline–forehead high and broad–both face and head are fine and manly. His manner was kind and friendly from the first; there is a dry lurking humour in his style of talking.

I took the opportunity [he goes on to say] of asking the meaning of two passages in his poems, which have always puzzled me: one in “Maud”–

Strange that I hear two men
Somewhere talking of me;
Well, if it prove a girl, my boy Will have plenty; so let it be.

He said it referred to Maud, and to the two fathers arranging a match between himself and her.

The other was of the poet–

Dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn, The love of love.

He said that he was quite willing it should bear any meaning the words would fairly bear; to the best of his recollection his meaning when he wrote it was “the hate of the quality hate, &c.,” but he thought the meaning of “the quintessence of hatred” finer. He said there had never been a poem so misunderstood by the “ninnies of critics” as “Maud.”

[Illustration: Alfred Tennyson. _From a photograph by Lewis Carroll._]

During an evening spent at Tent Lodge Tennyson remarked, on the similarity of the monkey’s skull to the human, that a young monkey’s skull is quite human in shape, and gradually alters–the analogy being borne out by the human skull being at first more like the statues of the gods, and gradually degenerating into human; and then, turning to Mrs. Tennyson, “There, that’s the second original remark I’ve made this evening!” Mr. Dodgson saw a great deal of the Tennysons after this, and photographed the poet himself and various members of his family.

In October he made the acquaintance of John Ruskin, who in after years was always willing to assist him with his valuable advice on any point of artistic criticism. Mr. Dodgson was singularly fortunate in his friends; whenever he was in difficulties on any technical matters, whether of religion, law, medicine, art, or whatever it might be, he always had some one especially distinguished in that branch of study whose aid he could seek as a friend. In particular, the names of Canon King (now Bishop of Lincoln), and Sir James Paget occur to me; to the latter Mr. Dodgson addressed many letters on questions of medicine and surgery–some of them intricate enough, but never too intricate to weary the unfailing patience of the great surgeon.

A note in Mr. Dodgson’s Journal, May 9, 1857, describes his introduction to Thackeray:–

I breakfasted this morning with Fowler of Lincoln to meet Thackeray (the author), who delivered his lecture on George III. in Oxford last night. I was much pleased with what I saw of him; his manner is simple and unaffected; he shows no anxiety to shine in conversation, though full of fun and anecdote when drawn out. He seemed delighted with the reception he had met with last night: the undergraduates seem to have behaved with most unusual moderation.

The next few years of his life passed quietly, and without any unusual events to break the monotony of college routine. He spent his mornings