HATEFUL SPIDER, (You are quite right. It doesn’t matter a bit how one begins a letter, nor, for the matter of that, how one goes on with it, or even how one ends it— and it comes awfully easy, after a bit, to write coldly —easier, if possible, than to write warmly. For instance, I have been writing to the Dean, on College business, and began the letter Obscure Animalcule,” and he is foolish enough to pretend to be angry about it, and to say it wasn’t a proper style, and that he will propose to the Vice-Chancellor to expel me from the University: and it is all your fault!) No, I fear I daren’t send the precious book to your house: it was only lent me for myself and my cousin. But I daresay I shall have it, or a copy of it, with me at Eastbourne, and then, any day you happen to lounge in, by yourself, (I think I see you doing it!) just to amuse yourself with my books, or photographs, or orguinette, while I go on with my work, but still keeping one eye on you to see you do no mischief—why, I don’t mind your reading a few lines of it, with one eye, with your other eye all the while beaming with gratitude on me. What did Amyatt think of “the Colonel”? A friend here tells me it is “utter rubbish ”!
And so farewell,
ever scornfully yours,
C. L. D.
This letter was sent to Agnes Hull
My Dear Jessie,
I liked your letter better than anything I have had for some time. I may as well just tell you a few of the things I like, and then, whenever you want to give me a birthday present (my birthday comes once every seven years, on the ﬁfth Tuesday in April) you will know what to give me. Well, I like, very much indeed, a little mustard with a bit of beef spread thinly under it; and I like brown sugar—only it should have some apple pudding mixed with it to keep it from being too sweet; but perhaps what I like best of all is salt, with some soup poured over it. The use of the soup is to hinder the salt from being too dry; and it helps to melt it. Then there are other things I like; for instance, pins—only they should always have a cushion put round them to keep them warm. And I like two or three handfuls of hair; only they should always have a little girl’s head beneath them to grow on, or else whenever you open the door they get blown all over the room, and then they get lost, you know. Tell Sally it’s all very well to say she can do the two thieves and the ﬁve apples, but can she do the fox and the goose and the bag of corn? That the man was bringing from market, and he had to get them over a river, and the boat was so tiny he could only take one across at a time; and he couldn’t ever leave the fox and the goose together, for then the fox would eat the goose; and if he left the goose and the corn together, the goose would eat the corn. So the only things he could leave safely together were the fox and the corn, for you never see a fox eating corn, and you hardly ever see corn eating a fox. Ask her if she can do that puzzle.
I think I’ll come and see you again—suppose we say once every two years; and in about ten years I really think we shall he good friends. Don’t you think we shall? I shall be very glad to hear from you whenever you feel inclined to write, and from Sally too, if she likes to try her hand at writing. If she can’t write with her hand, let her try with her foot. Neat footwriting is a very good thing. Give my love to her and Kate and Harry; only mind you keep a little for yourself.
Your affectionate friend
This letter was sent to Jessie Sinclair
WHAT remarkably wicked children you are! I don’t think you would find in all history, even if you go back to the times of Nero and Heliogabalus, any instance of children so heartless and so entirely reckless about returning story-books. Now I think of it, neither Nero nor Heliogabalus ever failed to return any story-book they borrowed. That is certain, because they never borrowed any, and that again is certain because there were none printed in those days.
This letter was sent to Julia and Ethel Arnold
Lewis Carroll wrote this very unique double acrostic for Gertrude Chataway. The verses embody her name in two ways — by letters, and by syllables
Girt with a boyish garb for boyish task,
Eager she Wields her spade—yet loves as well
Rest on a friendly knee, the tale to ask
That he delights to tell.
Rude spirits of the seething outer strife,
Unmeet to read her pure and simple spright,
Deem, if you list, such hours a Waste of life,
Empty of all delight!
Chat on, sweet maid, and rescue from annoy
Hearts that by wiser talk are unbeguiled!
Ah, happy he who owns that tenderest joy,
The heart-love of a child!
Away, fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more!
Work claims my wakeful nights, my busy days;
Albeit bright memories of that sunlit shore
Yet haunt my dreaming gaze!
My Dear Child,
I took your letter and the book-marker to Mr. Lewis Carroll this morning. He sends you his thanks for the book-marker but he was Very unwilling to take it. “ I meant the book for a present,” he said: “ I don’t want anything in exchange! ” However I persuaded him to take it at last. When he saw your letter he said you were too old for the book, and that I must have made a mistake about your age, he thought you might be “thirty” not “thirteen.” “No child of thirteen ever Wrote such a hand as that! ” he cried. However I told him you certainly were a child, and that you had been to a very good school at the bottom of the sea.
He is writing another book about Alice, telling how she Went through the looking-glass into that wonderful house that you see in the looking-glass over the chimney-piece — but I don’t know when it will be finished.
He sends you his kind regards, and I send mine to your Grandpapa and Grandmamma. I am glad you got home safe on Wednesday. Mr. Carroll says I ought to have seen you safe to your journey’s end, and that he would have behaved better if he had been in my place!
Very truly Yrs
C. L. Dodgson.
Lewis Carroll wrote this letter to Miss Mary Marshall
My Dear Birdie,
As are the feelings of the old lady who, after feeding her canary and going out for a walk, finds the cage entirely filled on her return, with a live turkey--or of the old gentleman who, after chaining up a small terrier overnight, finds a hippopotamus raging round the kennel in the morning such are my feelings when, trying to recall the memory of a small child who went to wade in the sea at Sandown, I meet with the astonishing photograph of the same microcosm suddenly expanded into a tall young person, whom I should be too shy to look at, even with the telescope which would no doubt be necessary to get any distinct idea of her smile, or at any rate to satisfy oneself whether she had eyebrows or not!
There I that long sentence has exhausted me, and I have only strength to say, “Thank you very sincerely for the two photographs,”—they are terribly lifelike! Are you going to be at Sandown next summer? It is just possible I may be running over there for two or three days; but Eastbourne is always my head-quarters now.
Believe me, yours affectionately,
C. L. Dodgson.
“Birdie” was Florence Balfour
My Dear Child,
It’s been so frightfully hot here that been almost too weak to hold a pen, and even if I had been able, there was no ink — it had all evaporated into a cloud of black steam, and in that state it has been floating about the room, inking the walls and ceiling; till they’re hardly fit to be seen: to-day it is cooler, and a little has come back into the ink-bottle in the form of black snow — there will soon be enough for me to write and order those photographs your Mamma wants.
This hot weather makes me very sad and sulky: I can hardly keep my temper sometimes. For instance, just now the Bishop of Oxford came to see me — it was a civil thing to do, and he meant no harm, poor man: but I was so provoked at his coming in that I threw a book at his head, which I am afraid hurt him a good deal — (Mem: this isn’t quite true— so you needn’t believe it — Don’t be in such a hurry to believe next time—I`ll tell you why — If you set to work to believe everything, you will tire out the muscles of your mind, and then you’ll be so weak you won’t be able to believe the simplest true things. Only last week a friend of mine set to work to believe Jack-the-giant-killer. He managed to do it, but he was so exhausted by it that when I told him it was raining (which was true) he couldn’t believe it, but rushed out into the street without his hat or umbrella, the consequence of which was his hair got seriously damp, and one curl didn’t recover its right shape for nearly two days. (Mem: some of that is not quite true, I’m afraid —). Will you tell Greville I am getting on with his picture (to go into the oval frame, you know) and I hope to send it in a day or two — Also tell your Mamma that I’m sorry to say that none of my sisters are coming to London this summer. With my kind regards to your Papa and Mamma, and love to you and the other infants, I remain
your affectionate Friend,
Charles L. Dodgson
Lewis Carroll wrote this letter to Mary McDonald
This letter was addressed to Dolly Argles
My Dear Dolly,
… I’m going to send your Papa a little present this Christmas, which I daresay you may like to look at: it consists of some thin slices of dried vegetables that somebody has found a way of preparing so that it doesn’t come to pieces easily: they are marked in a sort of pattern with some chemical stuff or other, and fastened between sheets of pasteboard to preserve them. I believe the sort of thing isn’t a new invention, but the markings of these are quite new: I inserted them myself.
… No more at present from
Your loving friend
C. L. Dodgson
The “present” was a copy of Phantasmagoria, the “thin slices” being the paper leaves, and the “markings” the print.
My Dear Mary,
Love to Lily, and very best wishes for her happiness on attaining the age of 21 — a very young age, as it seems to me. Why, last year I was double her age! And once I was three times her age, but when that was, I leave you to find out. It will be a nice arithmetical puzzle for those who like such things.
Also love to all,
Yours ever afftly
C. L. Dodgson
This letter was sent to Mary McDonald
Though don’t give birthday presents, still write a birthday . came to your door to wish U many happy returns of the day, the met me took me for a , hunted me and till could hardly . However some- how got into the , there a met me, took me for a , and pelted me with , , . Of course ran into the street again, a met me took me for a , and dragged me all the way 2 the , the worst of all was when a met me took me for a . I was harnessed 2 it, had 2 draw it miles and miles, all the Way 2 l\/Ierrow. So U C I couldn’t get 2 the room where U were.
However I was glad to hear U were hard at work learning the for a birthday treat.
I had just time 2 look into the kitchen, and your birthday feast getting ready, a nice of crusts, bones, pills, cotton-bobbins, and rhubarb and magnesia. “ Now,” I thought, she will be happy! ” and with a I went on my way. Your affte friend