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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (1832–1898)

The Bellman’s Speech

From “The Hunting of the Snark”

“FRIENDS, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!”

(They were all of them fond of quotations;

So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,

While he served out additional rations.)

“We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks—

Four weeks to the month you may mark—

But never as yet—’tis your Captain who speaks—

Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

“We have sailed many weeks, we have sailed many days—

Seven days to the week I allow—

But a Snark, on the which we might lovingly gaze,

We have never beheld till now!

“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 meagre and hollow, but crisp,

Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,

With a flavour 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 it 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,

From those that have whiskers, and scratch.

“For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,

Yet I feel it my duty to say

Some are Boojums—” The Bellman broke off in alarm,

For the Baker had fainted away.