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God, Soap, and Free Soup


The same year (1865) that Wonderland was published in London an English couple founded the Christian Mission in the same city. An evangelical and philanthropic organization, the Christian Mission, later named the Salvation Army, preached Christian salvation to the sinful poor folks of London's East End. This "army of do-gooders" also established community "soup kitchens" that provided free soup for the city's impoverished and homeless residents. Hot soup was available day and night, along with the inspiring slogan "Soup, soap, and salvation." It is unknown if any soup eaters in a 19th-century Salvation Army kitchen in London sang verses from the Mock Turtle's Wonderland soup song: "Beau---ootiful Soo---oop! …/Soo---oop of the e-e-evening,/Beautiful, beautiful Soup!" Source: Andrzej Diniejko, "The … Salvation Army in Victorian England," Victorian Web (.org), 3 Nov 2012.

Illustration commentary: Top: The Mock Turtle with soup and soup-song words from Wonderland drawn by the British artist Gwynedd M. Hudson (active 1909-1935) and published in London and New York in 1922. It is not known if Ms. Hudson, about whom little is known, ate soup or even liked soup. In addition to being a book illustrator, she was a figure painter and poster artist. (Color added by AWT.) Bottom: A watercolor (1908) by the New Zealand-born illustrator Harry Rountree (1878-1950)  depicting a solitary Mock Turtle (upper left) at oceanside singing the "beautiful soup" song. Rountree is noted for his animal illustrations and in his 1908 edition of Wonderland drew numerous scenes populated by animals. Source: ATW's illustrator files.

Moustache factlet: In Lewis Carroll's Victorian England, a gentlemen with a large moustache used a metal spoon -- a silver spoon if wealthy -- equipped with a guard on one side of the spoon's bowl to prevent soup from wetting upper-lip whiskers; the author of the Alice books, however, did not have a moustache. Source: AWT's whisker files.

Fog factlet: In Victorian London, the dense fogs created by smoke from coal-burning fires that were harmful to human health were called pea-soup fogs or pea-soupers after a thick dull-yellow soup make from dried split peas. Source: "Pea-soup," The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford, 1993).

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