Punch, Feb. 11, 1903


After a pause Alice began, “Well, they were both very unpleasant characters——”

De mortuis——” said Tweedledee reprovingly.

“I don’t know what that means,” said Alice.

“You don’t know much,” said Tweedledum, “and that’s a fact.”

Alice did not at all like the tone of this remark, and thought it would be as well to introduce some other subject of conversation.

“If you have really finished——?” she began, as politely as she could.

“Nohow. And thank you very much for asking,” said Tweedledum.

“So much obliged,” added Tweedledee. “There are four more verses.”

He smiled gently, and began again:—

“O Carpenter,” the Walrus said,
 “Life’s joys soon disappear.
There seem to be no oysters left,
 We’ve swept the table clear.”
The Carpenter said nothing but
 “I’m feeling precious queer.”

“Oh, I’m so glad!” said Alice.

“O Carpenter,” the Walrus said,
 “I sympathise with you.
You say that you are feeling odd,
 I doubt not that you do,
For, curious as it may appear,
I feel peculiar, too.”

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
 “To talk of doctors’ bills,
Of pulses up to fever height,
 Of medicine and pills.
I would not for the world alarm,
 But—shall we make our wills?”

“O oysters!” moaned the Carpenter,
 And that was all he said,
As on the coolest piece of rock
 He laid his aching head.
The Walrus, too, refrained from speech,
He was already dead.

“And did the Carpenter get well?” asked Alice.

“Nohow,” said Tweedledum.

“Contrariwise,” said Tweedledee; “he died.”

“Well,” said Alice, “thank you very much, but I don’t think the last four verses nearly so good as the others.”

“Ah,” said Tweedledee, “perhaps not. But they’re much truer. You see, those oysters were near the isthmus of sewage.”




Unsigned story and verse as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 124 of Punch. Illustration signed by Bernard Partridge on facing page opposite poem. For the original poem by Lewis Carroll and the original illustration by John Tenniel, both parodied here, see the 1872 edition of Through the Looking-Glass at Google Books.

For more on oysters and sewage in Wodehouse’s locality, see the notes to A Damsel in Distress.