A Conversation for Lewis Carroll - Logician, Nonsense Writer, Mathematician and Photographer

"The Hunting of the Snark"

Post 1

Steve K.

As a sailor this particular excerpt from "Fit the Second - The Bellman's Speech" is appealing:


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

He was thoughtful and grave--but the orders he gave
Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried "Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!"
What on earth was the helmsman to do?

Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
When a vessel is, so to speak, "snarked."

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
That the ship would not travel due West!


I have sailed on boats that were at least as confused. We did have a rudder, as defined in "The Sailor's Dictionary": "A large, heavy, vertically mounted, hydrodynamically contoured steel plate with which, through the action of a tiller or wheel, it is possible, during brief intervals, to point a sailing vessel in a direction which, due to a combination of effects caused by tide, current, the force and direction of the wind, the size and angle of the waves and the shape of the hull, it does not wish to go."

Mr. Carroll himself defends the above against charges of "nonsense" in the Preface:


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"The Hunting of the Snark"

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