Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), Through the Looking Glass, Chapter V, “Wool and Water.” 1871 (Gutenberg edition)
Below the fold; the quote in larger context.
‘Only it is so VERY lonely here!’ Alice said in a melancholy voice; and at the thought of her loneliness two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.
‘Oh, don’t go on like that!’ cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. ‘Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you’ve come to-day. Consider what o’clock it is. Consider anything, only don’t cry!’
Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. ‘Can YOU keep from crying by considering things?’ she asked.
‘That’s the way it’s done,’ the Queen said with great decision: ‘nobody can do two things at once, you know. Let’s consider your age to begin with—how old are you?’
‘I’m seven and a half exactly.’
‘You needn’t say “exactually,”‘ the Queen remarked: ‘I can believe it without that. Now I’ll give YOU something to believe. I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.’
‘I can’t believe THAT!’ said Alice.
‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’
Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one CAN’T believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!’