Thc Baldwin Library
SII il IIUni sity
The Baldwin Library
I m Univrsi
SIIIII F da
S First Edition pritedJuly 18.97
Second Edition printed November 1897
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted in America
Where there are no People
Sybil and Katharine Corbet
With an Introduction by Andrew Lang
J. M. Dent & Co.
67 S. James's St. London S.W.
The Ding .
The Didd .
The Wuss .
The Toop .
I have been asked to say something about the creatures
that live in Animal Land where there are no People. My daughter
Sybil, aged four, began to describe them to me about a year ago,
but as I personally know nothing about them except that I draw
them from her very graphic descriptions, I thought I had better
write down a few of the facts about them, collected by her, in her
"Animal Land where there are no People is quite near, only
you can't see it. It is a kind of Garden Cage, with the North
Pole and the sea always roughling and wavy. In the summer they
like to be hotter and hotter, and in the winter colder and colder.
They live by the North Pole and in the leafy places near. It
is always light there, always day, they cimb the poles and always
play. That is Animal Land."
(No Child is to read this, and Grown-ups had better not.)
THE artist who illustrated "Animal Land has asked me to say a
few words on the book. It is difficult to touch the subject without
injuring the bloom of these innocent inventions, but it is impossible to
refuse a request so flattering. The author appears to possess, at the
early age of four, a mature genius for sheer Nonsense. This is not a
common gift; we have few examples of perfect nonsensical inspiration.
Mr Lear, and the author of "Alice in Wonderland," are perhaps the
only great modern instances, though Swift, in his Prophecy taken
down from the lips of one slain by the Mohocks, exhibits distinguished
success in this difficult field.
Our author owes nothing, I conceive, to her literary predecessors.
If she follows anyone it is Mr Lear, the creator of the Quangle Wangle
and of the Yonghi Bonghi Bo. On the habits of these creatures,
especially on the sources of their food supply, Mr Lear says little.
But it is obvious that the nutriment of the fauna of her fancy pre-
occupies our author. The Dopple, whose staple is pumice stone,
clearly inhabits a volcanic region of Animal Land. The Jumma, we
are informed, likes chocolate and rabbits." Here we touch on one
-of "the inconsistencies common iri early mythical legends. In
Animal Land there are no People," yet chocolate and toffee
'spontaneously abound; we hear of parks (the abode of the Ding),
and the Kank comes up to the front door every day. A high
moral standard prevails. The Jumma, we learn, "is a little
blingey" (which appears to be a moral attribute). The Booba
'makes no noise," clearly from ethical motives of discretion.
"The dainty little ways" of the Weedle receive commendation.
The wistful Stoop "looks at everything, but never touches."
Carnivora seem to be rare. The Jaetusturdus' (doubtless the
scientific, not the popular name of this quadruped) "tries to catch
Didds," but as the Didd is a timid animal, has little success in the
Thus human categories are applied to those creatures ,of
Animal Land. It is described as being quite near, only you can't
see it." The author herself can see it, occasionally, and by aid of
description, correction of design, and diagrams, instructs the artist.
One beast in this collection is traditional in the artist's family.
The author has never seen and does not believe in it. My own
scepticism was aroused by a defect in the anatomical structure of
this apocryphal creature, which the judicious reader will probably
discover for himself. .
About the author's literary habits, I only know that she.
produces "epiotic poetry," a kind hitherto unclassed by Aristotle
and. other critics. The peculiar technical feature of epiotic poetry
is that, 'when rhymes prove stubborn the -singer introduces. a
word of her own invention which does rhyme, and to .which she
attaches an arbitrary sense, to be gathered from the context... Thus,.
while it is hard to find a rhyme to "stingy," our epiotic author:
strikes out blingey," which answers admirably well. In the verses
of Miss Emily Dickinson, one has detected a slight epiotic tendency,
without knowing the proper name for this engaging attribute.
Though printed in prose, the following passage of the author's
preface appears to have epiotic qualities :--
It is always light.there,
They climb the poles,
And always play.
I shall not, I sincerely trust, be accused of Log-rolling" when I
venture to express my admiration of our author's invention, and, above
all, of her vocabulary. The names of her creatures give evidence of a
rare gift of spontaneity in language. We in vain seek the root-Aryan
probably-of the Melly, the Dopple, the Joox, and the Burkan, "a nasty
biting thing," as his appearance teaches us to expect. The Azorkon is
not a term that would occur instinctively to any traveller who, in the
neighbourhood of a lake, encountered a creature of this hitherto
unknown species. Yet that he looks like an Azorkon nobody can
honestly deny. The excitable piscivorous Womp is excellently named,
and whoever met the Sleem would recognize without venturing on an
experiment that he "sometimes bites." The beauty of the Junn,
insisted on by our author, may not be at once appreciated, but his
amiability is undeniable.
When Adam and Eve named the animals in the Garden of Eden,
it must have been in this spontaneous inevitable way. Our author,
indeed, is still a denizen of Paradise, and speaks with the untaught
voice of her angel infancy, The shady city of palm trees is within
her ken, and her fancies arise unbidden out of the unconscious genius
of childhood. A professional wit would be in labour to create these
animals and these words, which she has only to open her eyes and see,
to open her lips and utter. In the field of pure Nonsense this is genius,
genius which so many children have, and which all but a very few men
and women lose. In five or six years our author, unless she prove to be
one of that small band who keep the common gift of childhood into
mature life, will be incapable of more visions and inventions. Chil-
dren 'are always unconsciously reacting the prime age of the world,
when our first parents saw life arid intelligence in all things, when'
the woods and streams were not yet "dispeopled of their dreams,"
of fairies and nereids, brownies and Vuis. Then' there was no question
whether birds confabulate or no; everything confabulated.: Without
this childhood of the race there would now be no 'poetry, no romance,
and in most children the childhood of the race is reborn. They see
what we do not see, invisible playmates.. .We know very little about
their experience. A famous author told me lately that only by accident,
when his little girls were eight and ten, did he learn that the younger
had a secret friend, a little grey woman." She went and came, seen
and heard only by the younger. The elder let the story out, for the
little grey woman had been revealing to her sister her childish secrets,
,and even reporting correctly on her doings when she *was in a distant
room. So the elder child not unnaturally complained. Neither had
seen anything unusual in the proceedings of the little grey woman,
whose visits only began to be embarrassing when her friend -was
fourteen, and had learned that invisible companions were unusual.
Then convention had her way, the unusual was abhorrent, and the little
grey woman passed out of the girl's life.
A friend of my own was a child during the Crimean War, a
curiously long-sighted child, with bright eyes. Men used to. consult
him about the future, but this was checked. One day, while, he was
driving with his-mother, and anotherjady in Hyde .Park, the mother
said, When will this horrid war be over? "It is over, the. Czar
is dead, the little woman in red told me." Then followed rebukes,
but when they drove out into the streets, the newspaper posters were
blazoned with DEATH OF THE CZAR.
One could multiply such stories of the curious mental phenomena
of infancy. Examples, at first hand, crowd into my memory. But
these things, like the invention of childhood, its visionary gifts,-
even, in several cases, its portentous power of calculation in figures,
-are all doomed to "fade into the light of common day." A week
at school among boys, some social observation by little girls,
exorcise the grey woman and the red woman, blind the second-
sighted eyes, close the enchanted page of childhood. Our author's
happy vein is the vein of Nonsense, not of mysticism or of arithmetic.
Her invisible playmates are the Didd, the Stoop, and the Wuss.
She is the Pascal of pure Bosh, and discovers it afresh, as the child
Pascal independently invented the elements of Euclid. I confess
that her inspirations give me more entertainment than the Asses'
Bridge, and that famed Pythagorean discovery, for joy of which
the sage sacrificed a hecatomb.
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TURNBULL AND SPEARS