Sunday 8 December 2013

The 5 'unmistakable marks' that identify Snarks

The 5 'unmistakable marks' that identify Snarks
5 illustrations by JVL in Lewis Carroll's 
The Hunting of the Snark, Artists' Choice Editions, 2006.

      its hollow and crisp taste                   it frequently breakfasts at 5 o'clock tea
      it always looks gravely at a pun     its fondness for bathing machines 
  its ambition

The text:

"Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
 The five unmistakable marks
 By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
 The warranted genuine Snarks.

"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
 Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
 Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
 With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp.

"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
 That it carries too far, when I say
 That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
 And dines on the following day.

 "The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
 Should you happen to venture on one,
 It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
 And it always looks grave at a pun.

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

 "The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
 To describe each particular batch:
 Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,

 And those that have whiskers, and scratch.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. As for bathing machines I would like to mention that "In The New Belfry of Christ Church", a certain "D. C. L." (Dodgson, C.L.) wrote:

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

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

  4. "Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
    And those that have whiskers, and scratch."

    A riddle? John, two print making techniques known to illustrators?