THREE YEARS BEFORE PUBLISHING ALICE IN WONDERLAND,
LEWIS CARROLL OFFERS EDITING ADVICE ON A POEM SUBMITTED TO HIM FOR REVIEW, AND ACCEPTS CONGRATULATIONS ON HIS NEWLY PUBLISHED WORK ENTITLED: COLLEGE RHYMES
DODGSON, CHARLES L. [LEWIS CARROLL]. (1832-1898). English logician, mathematician, photographer, and novelist, especially remembered for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871). Good, early Autograph Letter Signed, “C.L. Dodgson”. Four full pages, octavo. “Ch[rist] Ch[urch] Oxford”, England, December 1, 1862. Very fine condition. To “Dear Sir”. Dodgson writes:
“ I am glad to find that you take in such good part my many critiscisms on your poems. – One or two further remarks I will trouble you with. You have not noticed ‘Ah! Well, there’s little in my story after all’ a line which is 2 syllables too long – would you mind altering it to ‘Ah! Well, my story has but little to it’ — then — the ‘curves sail lateen’ — Do you not mean ‘curved-sailed’?
Thirdly, as to the 2 doves: I enclose you a proof, in which they are reduced to one, that you may judge of the effect. I do not think the 4th stanza o the song suffers much my the change, which the last stanza almost suits the new version better than the old — the ‘mate’ evidently having remained at home during the voyage, and so furnished an additional stimulus for the speed of the messenger — At any rate, if you wish them to continue two, I hope you will alter the passage ‘knitting first *A lover’s lovers letter underneath their wings’ which certainly does convey some notion of an “Astley’s’ performance. [Astley’s was a performance venue in the UK, similar to a circus]–
You seem to have put a comma into ‘stir his memory with hints and innuendoes of the pledge’; but I think it ought to be all one clause. I see several places where commas might as well be omitted, if you will trust me to erase them.
With thanks for your good wishes for “College Rhymes” I remain truly yours, C.L. Dodgson.
P.S. I forgot to say that I quite admit the possibility of the page haunting the eye – as a picture — while the single lines haunts the memory. I did not see your meaning before.”
A remarkable letter on many levels showing Dodgson as: editor; critic, and grateful recipient of praise for one of his earliest writing/publications: College Rhymes. His letters written from this early period are exceedingly scarce.