Through the Looking-Glass "Consider Anything, But Don't Cry"

Lewis Carroll

"Consider Anything, But Don't Cry"

Context: How a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church College, Oxford University, could turn into a writer of fantastic stories for children is as hard to explain as how his pen name "Lewis Carroll," was derived from Lutwidge, Charles. Obviously he had to provide some sort of disguise for a sober mathematician whose college students reported his class lectures as extremely dull; but figuring out the nom de plume by which he is now almost universally known is another sort of problem. He had played with words before. In 1855, while studying Anglo-Saxon poetry, he wrote his famous "Jabberwocky" poem, beginning: "'Twas brillig, and the slythy toves/ Did gyre and gymble in the wabe." In 1865, he had published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a work that made him well known. Naturally one success demands another. Queen Victoria, charmed with Alice, had hinted that she would be pleased to have Mr. Dodgson dedicate his next book to her. Unfortunately for Her Majesty, his next book was a mathematical volume with the title An Elementary Treatise on Determinants. Not until seven years after the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland did he get around to its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. It begins with the same sort of illogical logic that is to be found in the original story of Alice. Playing one day with her kitten in the living room, she holds the animal up to the mirror over the fireplace. The game is "Let's Pretend," and Alice is talking about her ideas of what might be in a Looking-glass House, when the mirror turns into mist and she can pass through and jump down on the other side. Here she meets the White Queen, most untidily dressed, who envies Alice.

". . . You must be very happy, living in this wood, and being glad whenever you like!"
"Only it's so very lonely here!" Alice said in a melancholy voice; and at the thought of her loneliness, two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.
"Oh, don't go on like that!" cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. "Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you've come today. Consider what o'clock it is. Consider anything, but don't cry!"
Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. "Can you keep from crying by considering things?" she asked.
"That's the way it's done," the Queen said with great decision: "Nobody can do two things at once, you know. . . ."