Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sherlock Holmes Weekend Concludes: "...the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known"

So, by now you're asking: Why Sherlock Holmes Weekend?

Today is January 6, Twelfth Night. Although Arthur Conan Doyle doesn't mention it in the Holmes canon, Sherlock Holmes fans and scholars generally propose Holmes was born on January 6, 1854. Today, thanks to a vigorous regime of exercise and royal jelly from the queen bee, he quietly celebrates his 154th birthday from his retirement cottage in Sussex.

Raise a glass of port or your preferred drink of toasting (I'm fond of cocoa or steaming bishop myself) to Mister Holmes today, and celebrate his life and legacy by diving back into the words of Doctor John H. Watson, his confidante, best friend, and biographer:

Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me. "I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street," he said, "which would suit us down to the ground. You don't mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?"

"I always smoke 'ship's' myself," I answered.
—from A Study in Scarlet

"But one false statement was made by Barrymore at the inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did—some little distance off, but fresh and clear."



"A man's or a woman's?"

Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered:

"Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"
—from The Hound of the Baskervilles

Holmes had been seated for some hours in silence with his long, thin back curved over a chemical vessel in which he was brewing a particularly malodorous product. His head was sunk upon his breast, and he looked from my point of view like a strange, lank bird, with dull gray plumage and a black top-knot.

"So, Watson," said he, suddenly, "you do not propose to invest in South African securities?"

I gave a start of astonishment. Accustomed as I was to Holmes's curious faculties, this sudden intrusion into my most intimate thoughts was utterly inexplicable.

"How on earth do you know that?" I asked.

He wheeled round upon his stool, with a steaming test-tube in his hand, and a gleam of amusement in his deep-set eyes.

"Now, Watson, confess yourself utterly taken aback," said he.

"I am."

"I ought to make you sign a paper to that effect."


"Because in five minutes you will say that it is all so absurdly simple."
—from "The Adventure of the Dancing Men"

"There's an east wind coming, Watson."

"I think not, Holmes. It is very warm."

"Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared. Start her up, Watson, for it's time that we were on our way."
—from "His Last Bow"

...If I have now been compelled to make a clear statement of his career, it is due to those injudicious champions who have endeavored to clear his memory by attacks upon him whom I shall ever regard as the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known.
—from "The Final Problem"


Ken Lowery said...

Those pictures make me very, very happy.

Phillip said...

Not too much steaming bishop, now, we don't want any little drunken stuffed bulls about. Happy birthday, Mister Holmes, wherever you may be! (Some say Tibet!)

Sleestak said...

Stay away from needles, Bully! It isn't booze I'm worried about.

SallyP said...

As much as I enjoy the character of Sherlock Holmes, do you ever get the feeling that poor Watson would have been completely justified in just punching him in the nose?

J.R. Jenks said...

This post made me think of a possible Wodehouse tie-in.

I know that P.G. was fond of referencing other authors in his writing; for example his jabs at A.A. Milne.

Was the luminous rabbit a reference to The Hound of the Baskervilles? You all remember the luminous rabbit from Very Good, Jeeves!, don't you?

'Jeeves' services will not be required,' I said. 'I can handle this business. The programme which I have laid out will be quite sufficient to take young Tuppy's mind off love-making. It is my intention to insert the Luminous Rabbit in his room at the first opportunity that presents itself. The Luminous Rabbit shines in the dark and jumps about, making odd, squeaking noises. It will sound to young Tuppy like the Voice of Conscience, and I anticipate that a single treatment will make him retire into a nursing-home for a couple of weeks or so. At the end of which period he will have forgotten all about the bally girl.'

Anonymous said...

"As much as I enjoy the character of Sherlock Holmes, do you ever get the feeling that poor Watson would have been completely justified in just punching him in the nose?"

Especially since Watson's checkbook was kept locked up in Holmes' desk -- how else was he to get the key? :-P

Evan Waters said...

Coincidentally, earlier this week I played a bit of the "Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective" game.

Got the main story right, whiffed on the red herring subplot.

Anonymous said...

**As much as I enjoy the character of Sherlock Holmes, do you ever get the feeling that poor Watson would have been completely justified in just punching him in the nose?**

Oh yeah. Preferably right after the 10,000th time Holmes sends him off to gather info, and then is all "True, you have missed everything of importance..." when Watson reports back.
I love the stories too, but read all at once the almost masochistic streak in the good Doctor becomes actively unsettling. Nice that the Brett TV series deliberately corrected that impression.