The text below was first published in 1876 as a four-page leaflet, which was inserted into ‘The Hunting of the Snark’. The text was later incorporated into the People’s Editions of the ‘Alice’ books in 1887.
Please to fancy, if you can, that you are reading a real letter, from a real friend whom you have seen, and whose voice you can seem to yourself to hear wishing you, as I do now with all my heart, a happy Easter.
Do you know that delicious dreamy feeling when one first wakes on a summer morning, with the twitter of birds in the air, and the fresh breeze coming in at the open window – when, lying lazily with eyes half-shut, one sees as in a dream green boughs waving, or water rippling in a golden light? It is a pleasure very near to sadness, bringing tears to one’s eyes like a beautiful picture or poem. And is not that a Mother’s gentle hand that undraws your curtains, and a Mother’s sweet voice that summons you to rise? To rise and forget, in the bright sunlight, the ugly dreams that frightened you so when all was dark – to rise and enjoy another happy day, first kneeling to thank that unseen Friend, who sends you the beautiful sun?
Are these strange words from a writer of such tales as ‘Alice’? And is this a strange letter to find in a book of nonsense? It may be so. Some perhaps may blame me for thus mixing together things grave and gay; others may smile and think it odd that any one should speak of solemn things at all, except in church and on Sunday: but I think – nay, I am sure – that some children will read this gently and lovingly, and in the spirit of which I have written it.
For I do not believe God means us thus to divide life into two halves – to wear a grave face on Sunday, and to think it out-of-place to even so much as mention Him on a week-day. Do you think He cares to see only kneeling figures, and to hear only tones of prayer – and that He does not also love to see the lambs leaping in the sunlight, and to hear the merry voices of the children, as they roll among the hay? Surely their innocent laughter is as sweet in His ears as the grandest anthem that ever rolled up from the ‘dim religious light’ of some solemn cathedral?
And if I have written anything to add to those stories of innocent and healthy amusement that are laid up in books for the children I love so well, it is surely something I may hope to look back upon without shame and sorrow (as how much of life must then be recalled!) when my turn comes to walk through the valley of shadows.
This Easter sun will rise on you, dear child, feeling your ‘life in every limb’, and eager to rush out into the fresh morning air – and many an Easter-day will come and go, before it finds you feeble and gray-headed, creeping wearily out to bask once more in the sunlight – but it is good, even now, to think sometimes of that great morning when the ‘Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings’.
Surely your gladness need not be less for the thought that you will one day see a brighter dawn than this – when lovelier sights will meet your eyes than any waving trees or rippling waters – when angel-hands shall undraw your curtains, and sweeter tones than ever loving Mother breathed shall wake you to a new and glorious day – and when all the sadness, and the sin, that darkened life on this little earth, shall be forgotten like the dreams of a night that is past!
Your affectionate friend,