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Where some ideas are stranger than others...

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The Moonspeaker:
Where Some Ideas Are Stranger Than Others...

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE LION AND THE UNICORN1

The next moment soldiers2 came running through the wood, at first in twos and threes, then ten or twenty together, and at last in such crowds that they seemed to fill the whole forest. Alice got behind a tree, for fear of being run over, and watched them go by.

She thought that in all her life she had never seen soldiers so uncertain on their feet3: they were always tripping over something or other, and whenever one went down, several more always fell over him, so that the ground was soon covered with little heaps of men.

Then came the horses. Having four feet, these managed rather better than the foot-soldiers: but even they stumbled now and then; and it seemed to be a regular rule that, whenever a horse stumbled, the rider fell off instantly. The confusion got worse every moment, and Alice was very glad to get out of the wood into an open place, where she found the White King seated on the ground, busily writing in his memorandum-book.

"I've sent them all!" the King cried in a tone of delight, on seeing Alice. "Did you happen to meet any soldiers, my dear, as you came through the wood?"

"Yes, I did," said Alice: "several thousand, I should think."

"Four thousand two hundred and seven4, that's the exact number," the King said, referring to his book. "I couldn't send all the horses, you know, because two of them are wanted in the game5. And I haven't sent the two Messengers, either. They're both gone to the town. Just look along the road, and tell me if you can see either of them."

"I see nobody on the road," said Alice.

"I only wish I had such eyes," the King remarked in a fretful tone. "To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!"6

All this was lost on Alice, who was still looking intently along the road, shading her eyes with one hand. "I see somebody now!" she exclaimed at last. "But he's coming very slowly — and what curious attitudes7 he goes into!" (For the Messenger kept skipping up and down, and wriggling like an eel, as he came along, with his great hands spread out like fans on each side.8)

"Not at all," said the King. "He's an Anglo-Saxon Messenger — and those are Anglo-Saxon attitudes9. He only does them when he's happy. His name is Haigha." (He pronounced it so as to rhyme with "mayor.")

"I love my love with an H," Alice couldn't help beginning, "because he is Happy. I hate him with an H, because he is Hideous. I fed him with — with — with Ham-sandwiches and Hay. His name is Haigha, and he lives —"

"He lives on the Hill," the King remarked simply, without the least idea that he was joining in the game,10 while Alice was still hesitating for the name of a town beginning with H.11 "The other Messenger's called Hatta. I must have two, you know — to come and go. One to come, and one to go."

"I beg your pardon?" said Alice.

"It isn't respectable to beg,"12 said the King.

"I only meant that I didn't understand," said Alice. "Why one to come and one to go?"

"Didn't I tell you?" the King repeated impatiently. "I must have two — to fetch and carry. One to fetch, and one to carry."

At this moment the Messenger arrived: he was far too much out of breath to say a word, and could only wave his hands about, and make the most fearful faces at the poor King.

"This young lady loves you with an H," the King said, introducing Alice in the hope of turning off the Messenger's attention from himself — but it was no use — the Anglo-Saxon attitudes only got more extraordinary every moment, while the great eyes rolled wildly from side to side.

"You alarm me!" said the King. "I feel faint — Give me a ham sandwich!"

On which the Messenger, to Alice's great amusement, opened a bag that hung round his neck, and handed a sandwich to the King, who devoured it greedily.13

"Another sandwich!" said the King.

"There's nothing but hay left now," the Messenger said, peeping into the bag.

"Hay, then," the King murmured in a faint whisper.

Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. "There's nothing like eating hay when you're faint," he remarked to her, as he munched away.

"I should think throwing cold water over you would be better," Alice suggested: "— or some sal-volatile14."

"I didn't say there was nothing better," the King replied. "I said there was nothing like it." Which Alice did not venture to deny.15

"Who did you pass on the road?" the King went on, holding out his hand to the Messenger for some more hay.

"Nobody," said the Messenger.

"Quite right," said the King: "this young lady saw him too. So of course Nobody walks slower than you."16

"I do my best," the Messenger said in a sulky tone. "I'm sure nobody walks much faster than I do!"

"He can't do that," said the King, "or else he'd have been here first. However, now you've got your breath, you may tell us what's happened in the town."

"I'll whisper it," said the Messenger, putting his hands to his mouth in the shape of a trumpet and stooping so as to get close to the King's ear. Alice was sorry for this, as she wanted to hear the news too. However, instead of whispering, he simply shouted at the top of his voice "They're at it again!"17

"Do you call that a whisper?" cried the poor King, jumping up and shaking himself. "If you do such a thing again, I'll have you buttered!18 It went through and through my head like an earthquake!"

"It would have to be a very tiny earthquake!" thought Alice. "Who are at it again?" she ventured to ask.

"Why the Lion and the Unicorn, of course," said the King.

"Fighting for the crown?"

"Yes, to be sure," said the King: "and the best of the joke is, that it's my crown19 all the while! Let's run and see them." And they trotted off, Alice repeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the old song: —

'The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:

The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.

Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown;

Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.'

"Does — the one — that wins — get the crown?" she asked, as well as she could, for the run was putting her quite out of breath.

"Dear me, no!" said the King. "What an idea!"

"Would you — be good enough —" Alice panted out, after running a little further, "to stop a minute — just to get — one's breath again?"

"I'm good enough," the King said, "only I'm not strong enough. You see, a minute goes by so fearfully quick. You might as well try to stop a Bandersnatch20!"

Alice had no more breath for talking, so they trotted on in silence, till they came in sight of a great crowd, in the middle of which the Lion and Unicorn were fighting. They were in such a cloud of dust, that at first Alice could not make out which was which; but she soon managed to distinguish the Unicorn by his horn.

They placed themselves close to where Hatta, the other messenger, was standing watching the fight, with a cup of tea in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other.21

"He's only just out of prison, and he hadn't finished his tea when he was sent in," Haigha whispered to Alice: "and they only give them oyster-shells22 in there — so you see he's very hungry and thirsty. How are you, dear child?" he went on, putting his arm affectionately round Hatta's neck.

Hatta looked round and nodded, and went on with his bread-and-butter.

"Were you happy in prison, dear child?" said Haigha.

Hatta looked round once more, and this time a tear or two trickled down his cheek: but not a word would he say.

"Speak, can't you!" Haigha cried impatiently. But Hatta only munched away, and drank some more tea.

"Speak, won't you!" cried the King. "How are they getting on with the fight?"

Hatta made a desperate effort, and swallowed a large piece of bread-and-butter. "They're getting on very well," he said in a choking voice: "each of them has been down about eighty-seven23 times."

"Then I suppose they'll soon bring the white bread and the brown?" Alice ventured to remark.

"It's waiting for 'em now," said Hatta: "this is a bit of it as I'm eating."

There was a pause in the fight just then, and the Lion and the Unicorn sat down, panting, while the King called out "Ten minutes allowed for refreshments!" Haigha and Hatta set to work at once, carrying round trays of white and brown bread. Alice took a piece to taste, but it was very dry.

"I don't think they'll fight any more to-day," the King said to Hatta: "go and order the drums to begin." And Hatta went bounding away like a grasshopper.

For a minute or two Alice stood silent, watching him. Suddenly she brightened up. "Look, look!" she cried, pointing eagerly. "There's the White Queen running across the country! She came flying out of the wood over yonder — How fast those Queens can run!"

"There's some enemy after her, no doubt," the King said, without even looking round. "That wood's full of them."

"But aren't you going to run and help her?" Alice asked, very much surprised at his taking it so quietly.

"No use, no use!" said the King. "She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch! But I'll make a memorandum about her, if you like — She's a dear good creature," he repeated softly to himself, as he opened his memorandum-book. "Do you spell 'creature' with a double 'e'?"

At this moment the Unicorn sauntered by them, with his hands in his pockets. "I had the best of it this time?" he said to the King, just glancing at him as he passed.

"A little — a little," the King replied, rather nervously. "You shouldn't have run him through with your horn, you know."

"It didn't hurt him," the Unicorn said carelessly, and he was going on, when his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.

"What — is — this?" he said at last.

"This is a child!" Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an Anglo-Saxon attitude. "We only found it to-day. It's as large as life, and twice as natural!"24

"I always thought they were fabulous monsters!" said the Unicorn. "Is it alive?"

"It can talk," said Haigha, solemnly.

The Unicorn looked dreamily25 at Alice, and said "Talk, child."

Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: "Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!"

"Well, now that we have seen each other," said the Unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"

"Yes, if you like," said Alice.

"Come, fetch out the plum-cake, old man!" the Unicorn went on, turning from her to the King. "None of your brown bread for me!"

"Certainly — certainly!" the King muttered, and beckoned to Haigha. "Open the bag!" he whispered. "Quick! Not that one — that's full of hay!"

Haigha took a large cake out of the bag, and gave it to Alice to hold, while he got out a dish and carving-knife26. How they all came out of it Alice couldn't guess. It was just like a conjuring-trick, she thought.

The Lion had joined them while this was going on: he looked very tired and sleepy, and his eyes were half shut. "What's this!" he said, blinking lazily at Alice, and speaking in a deep hollow tone that sounded like the tolling of a great bell.

"Ah, what is it, now?" the Unicorn cried eagerly. "You'll never guess! I couldn't."

The Lion looked at Alice wearily. "Are you animal — or vegetable — or mineral?" he said, yawning at every other word.

"It's a fabulous monster!" the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply.

"Then hand round the plum-cake27, Monster," the Lion said, lying down and putting his chin on his paws. "And sit down, both of you," (to the King and the Unicorn): "fair play with the cake, you know!"

The King was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between the two great creatures; but there was no other place for him.

"What a fight we might have for the crown, now!" the Unicorn said, looking slyly up at the crown, which the poor King was nearly shaking off his head, he trembled so much.

"I should win easy," said the Lion.

"I'm not so sure of that," said the Unicorn.

"Why, I beat you all round the town, you chicken!" the Lion replied angrily, half getting up as he spoke.

Here the King interrupted, to prevent the quarrel going on: he was very nervous, and his voice quite quivered. "All round the town?" he said. "That's a good long way. Did you go by the old bridge, or the market-place? You get the best view by the old bridge."

"I'm sure I don't know," the Lion growled out as he lay down again. "There was too much dust to see anything. What a time the Monster is, cutting up that cake!"

Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife28. "It's very provoking!" she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used to being called "the Monster"). "I've cut several slices already, but they always join on again!"

"You don't know how to manage Looking-glass cakes," the Unicorn remarked. "Hand it round first, and cut it afterwards."

This sounded nonsense, but Alice very obediently got up, and carried the dish round, and the cake divided itself into three pieces as she did so. "Now cut it up," said the Lion, as she returned to her place with the empty dish.

"I say, this isn't fair!" cried the Unicorn, as Alice sat with the knife in her hand, very much puzzled how to begin. "The Monster has given the Lion twice as much as me!"

"She's kept none for herself, anyhow," said the Lion. "Do you like plum-cake, Monster?"

But before Alice could answer him, the drums began.

Where the noise came from, she couldn't make out: the air seemed full of it, and it rang through and through her head till she felt quite deafened. She started to her feet and sprang across the little brook in her terror,

*                        *                        *                        *

*                        *                        *

*                        *                        *                        *

and had just time to see the Lion and the Unicorn rise to their feet, with angry looks at being interrupted in their feast, before she dropped to her knees, and put her hands over her ears, vainly trying to shut out the dreadful uproar.

"If that doesn't 'drum them out of town,'29" she thought to herself, "nothing ever will!"

Annotations

  1. The lion and the unicorn are the supporters on the coat of arms for the precariously "United Kingdom" which was originally just scotland and england. At the moment (September 2013) scotland is preparing for a referendum on whether to leave the present "United Kingdom" which now includes wales and northern ireland as well.
  2. The illustrated foot soldiers are quite interesting. Their military gear includes a musket, burgonet-type helmet, and breast-plate. Meanwhile, they have on ruffled collars, high-heeled buckle shoes, slash-decorated knee length baggy pants and hose for regular clothes. (How many people know that high-heeled shoes and hose were originally invented by men who wanted to look taller? This was also the purpose of their huge wigs.) So these are elizabethan-era soldiers at the latest. Incongruously, the cavalry-men are wearing armour reminiscent of an earlier period, including closed-face helmets that would have severely restricted their hearing and vision. They even appear to have lances. It wasn't impossible to see such cavalry in the elizabethan era, especially at the tournaments held by the various nobles vying for favours from the crown. However, the musket and greater mobility of gun-toting foot soldiers were relegating the plate-armoured knight to obsolescence in military terms. In personal terms, plate armour probably began to seem a losing proposition for its typically rich wearers when they realized that plate armour heavy enough to stop the new ballistic weapons also rendered them helpless if they were unhorsed.
  3. To be fair, these are soldiers endeavouring to move at speed through a forest — while wearing inch heels. Soldiers tend to look most sure-footed and efficient on level, smooth ground while marching in order, even in the most sensible of shoes.
  4. Since Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, it would be a real surprise if the number 4 207 didn't have some interesting features to it. Sure enough, it is equal to 7 x 601, the product of two prime numbers. Furthermore, courtesy of Wolfram Alpha I learned that 601 is itself a centred pentagonal number, one that you can represent by setting out a marker as a central point, then arranging five markers around it in a pentagon, than arranging a larger pentagon around that. They can be found using the formula (5n2 + 5n +2)/2. For 601, n is equal to 15.
  5. The "two horses" are of course the two White Knights, whose helmets are of very special and elaborate type compared to those in the illustration. Those appear to be bassinet helmets with plumes.
  6. We could argue for another homeric reference here, this time to the trick Odysseus plays on the Cylops Polyphemus. Polyphemus asks Odysseus' name, but at first Odysseus claims that his name is "Nobody" so that when eventually Polyphemus screams for help after Odysseus and his men have blinded him, he says that "Nobody is killing me." At first it seems that the White King has made Polyphemus' mistake by misconstruing the word "nobody" as a name, though he promptly muddies this impression by indirectly declaring Nobody is an imaginary person, not a real one. Which leads to a possible mathematics reference, as there are both "real" and "imaginary" numbers. Both are "real" numbers in the sense that they represent quantities in calculations. Leonard Euler began making real use of imaginary numbers in the 1700s, so Lewis Carroll would certainly have known about them. (Though he likely didn't approve of them — he became notorious for his opposition to changes both to teaching mathematics and mathematics in general.)
  7. "Attitude" used to mean a position of the body rather than a habitual state of mind, although it still refers to body positions in some specialized areas like dance. The alteration of the term from a description of the body to a description of the mind is an intriguing one, and may reflect a cycle of increased derogation of the body.
  8. I can hardly be the first Monty Python fan to wonder if this Messenger's walk contributed to the "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch.
  9. It looks like Lewis Carroll needn't have been referring to Victorian english habits of mind (though he may have been). According to the Through the Looking Glass Production Blog this is a satirical reference to "a ninth- to eleventh-century style in English drawing, in which the figures are shown in swaying positions with the palms held out in exaggerated positions." This certainly seems plausible on looking at the examples the blog provides, but it seems a puzzle how this could have been something worth satirizing in the late 1800s! Then again, this was also the time period of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a sort of upper class reaction against the results of the move to increase manufacturing by driving out the traditional decorative crafts with mass-produced, cheap articles.

    Despite its classist origins, the Arts and Crafts Movement did have some good ideas and some pleasant results. Though sourced in the complaints of the rich about how ugly manufactured upholstery and wallpaper were, it is true that humans regardless of their "class" have a need and desire for beauty in their surroundings and to create beautiful things. The leaders in the movement retrieved many types of artwork from near oblivion, including calligraphy, illumination, and older styles of illustration that were used to illustrate illuminated books. That said, their devaluation of the present in favour of materials from the past — when living conditions were far worse than their present and warfare was more than endemic in england — it was all too easy to make fun of their unrealistic idealizations.

  10. The game here seems to be related to one called "Cupid's Coming" among the various websites on-line providing information on children's games in the Victorian era. According to the description of "Cupid's Coming" I could find, the player would have to use words beginning with a specific letter, those words all being participles.
  11. Alice's difficulty here is reflective of real life, as the real Alice was living at Christ Church at the time Through the Looking-glass was published.
  12. By this still commonly held idea, it must therefore be respectable to sit and starve, as alas the severely malnourished must. Few people who have never experienced real hunger understand that in more advanced stages of malnourishment, even if the person doesn't look very ill, they tend to fall into a state of languor and depression. At that point, the person affected no longer has enough energy to work or think clearly. It was all too easy in the Victorian era and all too easy now to misinterpret this state as willful laziness.

    On a less serious note, "to beg someone's pardon" is now a bit archaic, and is usually shortened to "pardon?" The whole point of the phrase is to say, without saying, that the hearer misunderstood or didn't hear the speaker, and needs them to explain further or repeat what they said. So the various versions of the phrase are a sort of light apology.

  13. We know courtesy of the Red Queen that it is food rather than drink that revives the denizens of Looking-glass land, though a ham sandwich would clearly be less effective than extremely dry crackers.
  14. "Sal volatile" being the fancy term for "smelling salts." These were originally made partly of ammonium carbonate, which has a strong ammonia smell, one more than unpleasant enough to drive a semi- or unconscious person to try to get away from it, though it may not work if a person is deeply unconscious. Ammonium carbonate was once distilled from deer's horns and hooves, and is the source of the appalling smell of a foul-tasting cough syrup sold in canada.
  15. This is another nice example of the danger of presuppositions, the ideas that accompany words and phrases in conversation. We had one in the last chapter when Humpty Dumpty asks how old Alice said she was, when she hadn't said anything about her age. In themselves presuppositions aren't necessarily wrong or right, though they can be a source of communication trouble when the people communicating don't have the same ones. In each of the examples we have seen so far, the problem is that Alice expects a presupposed question in each case: how old she is, and whether there is anything better than hay for feeling faint. Humpty Dumpty is playing her a trick, while the White King is simply making a statement.

    An interviewer skilled at manipulation of presuppositions can get their interviewee to give out a great deal of personal information. A similarly skilled lawyer or police officer can use the same method to provoke a "confession" out of the unwary by embedding a presupposition and distracting them with something else. The most commonly given type example of this dishonest use of presuppositions is the loaded question, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

  16. Back to puns on nobody, though this sentence is interesting in that it means exactly the opposite of what it seems to say based on whether we take "nobody" as an indefinite pronoun (in which case everybody walks faster than Haigha) or we take "nobody" as a literal name instead as the capitalization suggests (where someone named Nobody must walk slower than Haigha).
  17. Yet this seems a perfectly sensible Looking-glass "whisper" as it is the opposite of a real world one!
  18. This is no sort of nice threat; after skinning and cleaning a hare, this is the last step before roasting it.
  19. As heraldic supporters, the lion and unicorn in the united kingdom coat of arms rear up on their hind legs with their paws held up "as if boxing" although this is probably so that all of their limbs are visible. In any case, since they are arranged on either side of a crown, the path to the nursery rhyme is clear enough. However, there is also considerable political history that leads to the figurative fight between the two. In particular, Mary Queen of Scots is well-known as a contender for the english crown, considered highly dangerous by the newly protestant english government as she was a catholic and inclined to return england to catholicism if she came to rule it.

    The crowns on the chess kings are not very elaborate in comparison to the one featuring in the coat of ams, or for that matter the one typically warn by english monarchs at their coronations through the 1800s to the 1900s at least. That crown is built up from a circlet with two arches attached on top at right angles. Attached to the circlet inside is what looks like a velvet bag, which is one of the few Tudor-era bag hats still in use outside of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The purpose of the hat being to help keep the crown well-seated and avoid the discomfort of having clammy metal pressed against the wearer's forehead.

  20. The Bandersnatch being the fearsome creature that cameos in Jabberwocky and is the grim creature encountered instead of the desired snark in The Hunting of the Snark. A "bander" would be a strip of material, now usually called a band. A band being blown in the wind would be difficult to catch — or snatch — all consistent with a fast moving but insubstantial creature, and with the apparent fleetness of time.
  21. Since Hatta has never managed to finish his tea, as we should expect from the previous Alice book (where it was always tea-time for the Hatter and the March Hare because Time refuses to pass), even if that does contradict what the White King has just said about time.
  22. Remarkably, there is a great aftermarket for empty oyster shells, not just for their mother-of-pearl where that is available, or as chicken feed, but also cleaned and washed for easting raw oysters out of. Never having eaten oysters raw, I must admit to not knowing that people expect to slurp them out of the shells, which of course could hardly be done with an oyster in its original shell.
  23. Eighty-seven is a relatively ordinary number, without any unusual mathematical properties as far as I can find. One Wikipedia editor claims that australian cricketers have a superstitious dislike of the number because it is thirteen less than a hundred. This does sound plausible as most sports are chock-ablock with superstitions.
  24. In one of the more shameful historical practices of european cultures right down to Lewis Carroll's day and continuing well into the twentieth century was the practice of exhibiting people as curiosities. Typically such people were suffering from rare deformities, though there was also a great market for the display of Indigenous people once the invasion of the americas was in full swing. The existence of relatively benign shows like that run by William Hicock is deceptive. More often than not, people exhibited were placed in "freak shows" or were taken around for showing in locked cages or boxes with barred fronts. Indigenous people might be allowed to "perform" by making use of their own tools and possessions for hunting or travelling. The most infamous twentieth-century example of the exhibition of an Indigenous person is that of Ishi, a member of the Yahi Nation located in what is now called california.

    Men across california had been hunting and slaughtering Indigenous people incessantly since their arrival, but especially once rumours of gold deposits began to spread in the form of tall tales repeated by men hoping to get rich quick. The slaughter was carried out with impunity as no non-Indigenous authority would agree to charge the men perpetrating it with murder. In Ishi's case, his entire community was wiped out except for himself. The anthropologist Alfred Kroeber managed to "take custody" of him, and used him as a living exhibit and study subject until his death five years later.

    I am well aware that Kroeber's daughter, the author Ursula K. Le Guin (whose works I also enjoy) would probably not agree with my characterization of her father's dealings with Ishi, based on her excellent essay "Indian Uncles" included in her collection The Wave in the Mind. Probably where she and I can agree were her father's feelings for Ishi — he considered Ishi a friend and did not hold himself up as some sort of "white man's burden carrier", for instance. For better or worse, this does not exclude also using Ishi as a study subject and living exhibit, which clearly Kroeber was comfortable with. To his credit, he was outraged by the hideous disrespect paid to Ishi's body after his death and did what little he could to oppose it. For those wishing to more about the aftermath of that sorry event, the person to read is Winona LaDuke in Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming.

  25. A few writers have suggested that the Unicorn is "dreamy sounding" because he is less intelligent than the Lion. More likely the Unicorn is dreamy because according to fairy tales, a unicorn becomes quiet and obedient in the presence of a virginal girl. That said, I don't know of a tale that discusses the manners of unicorns when they are able to speak.
  26. The carving-knife illustrated looks almost big enough to be a machete. "Carving knives" are generally designed for carving meat rather than cakes, and are not at all suited for cutting cakes in any case. A neater cut can be managed by using a good length of clean dental floss.
  27. "Plum-cake" is, as you likely gathered, a cake with plum pieces baked into it; plum slices may also be layered all over it before baking as well, though that isn't the sort of cake Tenniel illustrated. A few folks on-line claim a plum-cake is the same as plum pudding (which is basically what a north american would call a "chritsmas cake"), but I can't agree. It is certainly related to the denser plum pudding, and probably the big difference between them was what type of dough and how much by way of fruit, nuts, and spices were added. The denser varieties can keep almost indefinitely if they are kept wrapped up, and especially if they are made "christmas-style" with alcohol.
  28. The idea of a seven and a half year old child wielding a large carving knife, even on a large cake is an appalling thought today. The real-life Alice, being a child in a fairly wealthy family, may well not have been allowed to handle a knife at that age for any purpose. However, in england at that time, children of "the lower classes" were not as well regarded by many in the upper classes and child labour was endemic, often crippling, and all too often deadly. Laws against child labour were brought in during the Victorian period due to a whole range of exposés as much as by social activism. Famous accounts of child labour feature in both fiction and non-fiction works from the period, including the experience-informed accounts of Charles Dickens.
  29. Being "drummed out of town" may refer to the customary drumming used to help a marching army keep in step. However, it is just as likely that it refers to a medieval and probably earlier mode of driving someone who had been exiled out of town again. In fact, it may be related to the "hue and cry," a means of signalling bystanders that they are supposed to help in the capture of a criminal or witness a crime. While practical in itself, it later became an infamous practice because of its prominence in the recapture of fleeing slaves, who were often subjected to torture and lynched in order to "set an example" to others.
Copyright © C. Osborne 2017
Last Modified: Saturday, December 5, 2015 17:58:19