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Education, à la Lewis Carroll
. . . said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. `I only took the regular course.'

`What was that?' inquired Alice.

`Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,' the Mock Turtle replied; `and then the different branches of Arithmetic-- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.'

`I never heard of "Uglification," Alice ventured to say. `What is it?'

The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. `What! Never heard of uglifying!' it exclaimed. `You know what to beautify is, I suppose?'

`Yes,' said Alice doubtfully: `it means--to--make--anything-- prettier.'

`Well, then,' the Gryphon went on, `if you don't know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton.'

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said `What else had you to learn?'

`Well, there was Mystery,' the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers, `--Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling--the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.'

`What was that like?' said Alice.

`Well, I can't show it you myself,' the Mock Turtle said: `I'm too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it.'

`Hadn't time,' said the Gryphon: `I went to the Classics master, though. He was an old crab, HE was.'

`I never went to him,' the Mock Turtle said with a sigh: `he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.'

`So he did, so he did,' said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn; and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.

`And how many hours a day did you do lessons?' said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.

`Ten hours the first day,' said the Mock Turtle: `nine the next, and so on.'

`What a curious plan!' exclaimed Alice.

`That's the reason they're called lessons,' the Gryphon remarked: `because they lessen from day to day.'

~from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter IX: The Mock Turtle's Story



1 Comments:

Blogger R.G. said...

Ah, one of my favorite passages. Wonderful!

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