If and the thing is wildly possible the charge of writing nonsense
were ever brought against the author of this brief but instructive
poem, it would be based, I feel convinced, on the line
In view of this painful possibility, I will not (as I might) appeal
indignantly to my other writings as a proof that I am incapable of
such a deed: I will not (as I might) point to the strong moral purpose
of this poem itself, to the arithmetical principles so cautiously
inculcated in it, or to its noble teachings in Natural History--I will
take the more prosaic course of simply explaining how it happened.
For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your
mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will
first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts incline
ever so little towards "fuming," you will say "fuming-furious;" if they
turn, by even a hair's breadth, towards "furious," you will say
"furious-fuming;" but if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly
balanced mind, you will say "frumious."
Justice Shallow had felt certain that it was either William or Richard,
but had not been able to settle which, so that he could not possibly say
either name before the other, can it be doubted that, rather than die,
he would have gasped out "Rilchiam!"
"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.
"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."
The crew was complete: it included a Boots--
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods--
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes--
And a Broker, to value their goods.
A Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share--
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.
There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.