Monday, June 20, 2022

POETRY SPOT: WHAT TOTTLES MEANT

Tottles was a character from Lewis Carroll's novel Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), thyge second volume following on from Sylvie and Bruno (1889).

What Tottles Meant -

by Lewis Carroll

" One thousand pounds per annum
Is not so bad a figure, come! "
Cried Tottles. " And I tell you, flat,
A man may marry well on that!
To say " the Husband needs the Wife"
Is not the way to represent it.
The crowning joy of Woman's life
Is Man! " said Tottles (and he meant it).

The blissful Honeymoon is past:
The Pair have settled down at last:
Mamma-in-law their home will share,
And make their happiness her care.
" Your income is an ample one:
Go it, my children! " (And they went it).
" I rather think this kind of fun
Won't last! " said Tottles (and he meant it).

They took a little country-box — —
A box at Covent Garden also:
They lived a life of double-knocks,
Acquaintances began to call so:
Their London house was much the same
(It took three hundred, clear, to rent it):
" Life is a very jolly game! "
Cried happy Tottles (and he meant it).

" Contented with a frugal lot "
(He always used that phrase at Gunter's),
He bought a handy little yacht —
A dozen serviceable hunters —
The fishing of a Highland Loch —
A sailing-boat to circumvent it —
" The sounding of that Gaelic " och"
Beats me! " said Tottles (and he meant it).

But oh, the worst of human ills
(Poor Tottles found) are " little bills " !
And, with no balance in the Bank,
What wonder that his spirits sank?
Still, as the money flowed away,
He wondered how on earth she spent it.
" You cost me twenty pounds a day,
At least! " cried Tottles (and he meant it).

She sighed. " Those Drawing Rooms, you know!
I really never thought about it:
Mamma declared we ought to go —
We should be Nobodies without it.
That diamond circlet for my brow —
I quite believed that she had sent it,
Until the Bill came in just now — — "
" Viper! " cried Tottles (and he meant it).

Poor Mrs. T. could bear no more,
But fainted flat upon the floor.
Mamma-in-law, with anguish wild,
Seeks, all in vain, to rouse her child.
" Quick! Take this box of smelling-salts!
Don't scold her, James, or you'll repent it,
She's a dear girl, with all her faults — — "
" She is! " groaned Tottles (and he meant it).

" I was a donkey, " Tottles cried,
" To choose your daughter for my bride!
'Twas you that bid us cut a dash!
'Tis you have brought us to this smash!
You don't suggest one single thing
That can in any way prevent it —
Then what's the use of arguing?
Shut up! " cried Tottles (and he meant it).

" And, now the mischief's done, perhaps
You'll kindly go and pack your traps?
Since two (your daughter and your son)
Are Company, but three are none.
A course of saving we'll begin:
When change is needed, I'll invent it:
Don't think to put your finger in
This pie! " cried Tottles (and he meant it).

See now this couple settled down
In quiet lodgings, out of town:
Submissively the tearful wife
Accepts a plain and humble life:
Yet begs one boon on bended knee:
" My ducky-darling, don't resent it!
Mamma might come for two or three — — "
" NEVER! " yelled Tottles. And he meant it.


"'Never!' yelled Tottles". 
Illustration by Harry Furniss (1854–1925) 
for Beyond these Voices, Chapter 16 of Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893).

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