“No, I don’t say that,” said Holmes, and his eyes seemed to be looking far into the future. “I don’t say that he can’t be beat. But you must give me time – you must give me time!” We all sat in silence for some minutes, while those fateful eyes still strained to pierce the veil.
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI
March 7, 1881: Jefferson Hope’s body was found in his cell. [STUD]
He had gone to the final judgment and reunion with Lucy. One can hope that mercy ruled determination of their case. Their suffering and pain on earth was enough. -Chips
A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI
March 6, 1881: Holmes tested some pills on the landlady’s dying dog. [STUD]
As he spoke he turned the contents of the wine-glass into a saucer and placed it in front of the terrier, who speedily licked it dry. Sherlock Holmes’s earnest demeanour had so far convinced us that we all sat in silence, watching the animal intently, and expecting some startling effect. None such appeared, however. The dog continued to lie stretched upon the cushion, breathing in a laboured way, but apparently neither the better nor the worse for its draught.
As we know, the second pill had a rather different effect.
March 6, 1881: Jefferson Hope was captured. [STUD]
The whole thing occurred in a moment – so quickly that I had no time to realize it. I have a vivid recollection of that instant, of Holmes’s triumphant expression and the ring of his voice, of the cabman’s dazed, savage face, as he glared at the glittering handcuffs, which had appeared as if by magic upon his wrists. For a second or two we might have been a group of statues. Then with an inarticulate roar of fury, the prisoner wrenched himself free from Holmes’s grasp, and hurled himself through the window. Woodwork and glass gave way before him; but before he got quite through, Gregson, Lestrade, and Holmes sprang upon him like so many staghounds. He was dragged back into the room, and then commenced a terrific conflict. So powerful and so fierce was he that the four of us were shaken off again and again. He appeared to have the convulsive strength of a man in an epileptic fit. His face and hands were terribly mangled by his passage through the glass, but the loss of blood had no effect in diminishing his resistance. It was not until Lestrade succeeded in getting his hand inside his neckcloth and half-strangling him that we made him realize that his struggles were of no avail; and even then we felt no security until we had pinioned his feet as well as his hands. That done, we rose to our feet breathless and panting.
March 5, 1881: Stangerson found stabbed to death at Halliday’s Private Hotel. [STUD]
He stood in the centre of the room, fumbling nervously with his hat and uncertain what to do.
“This is a most extraordinary case,” he said at last – “a most incomprehensible affair.”
“Ah, you find it so, Mr. Lestrade!” cried Gregson, triumphantly. “I thought you would come to that conclusion. Have you managed to find the secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson?”
“The secretary, Mr. Joseph Stangerson,” said Lestrade gravely, “was murdered at Halliday’s Private Hotel about six o’clock this morning.”
March 5, 1881: An old “crone” retrieved the woman’s wedding ring advertised as “found” in the ad placed by Holmes. [STUD]
At my summons, instead of the man of violence whom we expected, a very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and after dropping a curtsy, she stood blinking at us with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket with nervous shaky fingers. I glanced at my companion, and his face had assumed such a disconsolate expression that it was all I could do to keep my countenance.
By Hope’s own admission, this person was not Jefferson Hope, so who was she or he? Hope took the secret with him to the hereafter. Any ideas out there?
Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Sherlock Holmes by William S Dorn DWNP, BSI
February 17, 1888: On this date, the Reverend Monsignor Ronald A Knox, one of the most eminent original Sherlockian scholars, was born. Although he was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1912, he converted to Catholicism, becoming a Roman Catholic priest in 1918, later a Monsignor. He is best known for writing the paper Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes.
If there is anything pleasant in life, it is doing what we aren’t meant to do. If there is anything pleasant in criticism, it is finding out what we aren’t meant to find out. It is the method by which we treat as significant what the author did not mean to be significant, by which we single out as essential what the author regarded as incidental. […] There is, however, a special fascination in applying this method to Sherlock Holmes, because it is, in a sense, Holmes’s own method. ‘It has long been an axiom of mine,’ he says, ‘that the little things are infinitely the most important.’ It might be the motto of his life’s work.
This paper has generated years of Sherlockian studies. It was presented to the Gryphon Club in 1911, published in The Blue Book Magazine in 1912, and republished a number of times, including in Knox’s Essays in Satire in 1928. [The link above will take you to a PDF file of the paper in Blackfriars v1 n3 (June 1920), hosted at the University of Minnesota. -Selena Buttons]
In a response to the paper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that “Holmes changed entirely as the stories went on” but that “Watson never for one instant as chorus and chronicler transcends his own limitations. Never once does a flash of wit or wisdom come from him. All is remorsely eliminated so that he may be Watson.” [A frankly absurd assertion! -Selena Buttons]
My source for the information on Knox’s birthdate comes from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”). [Additional information about the presentation and publication of “Studies of the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” and Dr Doyle’s response comes from The Ronald Knox Society of North America. -Selena Buttons]
(This post originally appeared on February 17, 2017.)
My favorite edition is and always will be the Doubleday one volume edition. This volume was the Shangri-La of my childhood. I started out reading an abridged version of the story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. The story was in a weekly messenger that my Catholic school received for the 7th and 8th grade. The purpose was to introduce more adult literature since we were becoming young adults. Instead it started a life time and devotion in one underweight, under-muscled, lonely, bespectacled boy.
I could not get enough of 221B and my two new devoted companions. We solved the mystery and brought Justice where we could. And best of all, they were there with only an opening of a book! I went through all the stories I could find in our small school library. I then harassed our local city public library for library loans. One of the Librarians mentioned in an off-handed tone that Rector’s Book Store downtown had a One Volume collection of all 60(!!!) stories of Holmes and Watson. I had to have that treasure!
So getting my Mom to call down to the store, I found out the horrible information the book was $10.00! The price seemed so unattainable. So as my Mom taught me, I dug into my piggy savings bank and found out I had a whole lot of chores for my neighbors, mowing of neighbors’ lawns with my father’s hand push mower in my future. Finally, those fund raising efforts and a very generous contribution from my Mom made the unobtainable mine.
Mom and I went down one Saturday morning by bus. I normally was in awe of the huge world of books in the store. Not today. Straight to the adult mystery’s section, grabbing the one volume treasure, and straight to the cashiers. When we got there, my Mom stayed in the background while I pulled out my fist of money and laid the desired treasure down in front of the clerk. The clerk looked at the rather large book, about 1300 pages, thumbed through it, saw who he guessed was my Mother in back of me. He spoke out to her: “Ma’am I do not think he would like this book. It is so large and has no pictures.”
My Mom in her coldest tone said, “He wants this book. He does not need pictures to read a book as you do.”
The clerk very quickly rang up the book, took my money from the counter, gave me change and walked with us and apologized all the way out of the store, holding the door open for us, and urged us to come again.
Now as to why the Doubleday one volume is my favorite. You can do no better than the Preface “In Memoriam”. To quote: “The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is triumphant illustration of art’s supremacy over life.” I had my first glimpse of that now familiar sitting room. I learned the major and minor details of Holmesiana to be able spend endless hours of my life in blissful enjoyment discussing these with other dyed in the blood addicts.
I also was able to see my first picture of the flat at 221B Baker Street.
‘I think I can promise you that you will feel even less humorous as the evening advances. Now, look here, Count Sylvius. I’m a busy man and I can’t waste time. I’m going into that bedroom. Pray make yourselves quite at home in my absence. You can explain to your friend how the matter lies without the restraint of my presence. I shall try over the Hoffmann Barcarolle upon my violin. In five minutes I shall return for your final answer. You quite grasp the alternative, do you not? Shall we take you, or shall we have the stone?’
Holmes withdrew, picking up his violin from the corner as he passed. A few moments later the long-drawn, wailing notes of that most haunting of tunes came faintly through the closed door of the bedroom.
Ernst Theodor Amadeus (E. T. A.) Hoffmann was born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann on January 24th, 1776, in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).
He was a painter, a composer, and a writer. Three of his stories – “Der Sandmann” (The Sandman), Rath Krespel (Councillor Krespel; published in English translation as The Cremona Violin), and Die Geschichte vom verlorenen Spiegelbilde (The Story of the Lost Reflection) – formed the basis of Offenbach’s final opera, “The Tales of Hoffmann”. The soprano/mezzo-soprano duet, “Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour”, is considered the most famous barcarolle ever written and often referred to as simply “The Barcarolle”.
[Hat-tip to Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney and their fantastic A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes”]
January 23, 1891: Holmes “incommoded” Moriarty. [FINA]
“You evidently don’t know me,” said he.
“On the contrary,” I answered, “I think it is fairly evident that I do. Pray take a chair. I can spare you five minutes if you have anything to say.”
“All that I have to say has already crossed your mind,” said he.
“Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,” I replied.
“You stand fast?”
He clapped his hand into his pocket, and I raised the pistol from the table. But he merely drew out a memorandum-book in which he had scribbled some dates.
“You crossed my path on the 4th of January,” said he. “On the 23rd you incommoded me; by the middle of February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the end of March I was absolutely hampered in my plans; and now, at the close of April, I find myself placed in such a position through your continual persecution that I am in positive danger of losing my liberty. The situation is becoming an impossible one.”
“Have you any suggestion to make?” I asked.
“You must drop it, Mr Holmes,” said he, swaying his face about. “You really must, you know.”
January 12 (or thereabouts), 1903: Sir James Saunders diagnosed Godfrey Emsworth’s disease as pseudo-leprosy. [BLAN]
I was finishing this little analysis of the case when the door was opened and the austere figure of the great dermatologist was ushered in. But for once his sphinx-like features had relaxed and there was a warm humanity in his eyes. He strode up to Colonel Emsworth and shook him by the hand.
‘It is often my lot to bring ill-tidings, and seldom good,’ said he. ‘This occasion is the more welcome. It is not leprosy.’
‘A well-marked case of pseudo-leprosy or ichthyosis, a scale-like affection of the skin, unsightly, obstinate, but possibly curable, and certainly non-infective. Yes, Mr Holmes, the coincidence is a remarkable one. But is it coincidence? Are there not subtle forces at work of which we know little? Are we assured that the apprehension, from which this young man has no doubt suffered terribly since his exposure to its contagion, may not produce a physical effect which simulates that which it fears? At any rate, I pledge my professional reputation – But the lady has fainted! I think that Mr Kent had better be with her until she recovers from this joyous shock.’
“The trains which traverse the lines of rail beside which the body was found are those which run from west to east, some being purely Metropolitan, and some from Willesden and outlying junctions. It can be stated for certain that this young man, when he met his death, was travelling in this direction at some late hour of the night, but at what point he entered the train it is impossible to state.”
“His ticket, of course, would show that.”
“There was no ticket in his pockets.”
“No ticket! Dear me, Watson, this is really very singular. According to my experience it is not possible to reach the platform of a Metropolitan train without exhibiting one’s ticket. Presumably, then, the young man had one. Was it taken from him in order to conceal the station from which he came? It is possible. Or did he drop it in the carriage? That is also possible. But the point is of curious interest. I understand that there was no sign of robbery?” [BRUC]
The Metropolitan Railway opened its first line to the public on January 10, 1863 (just after Holmes’s own 9th birthday, per Baring-Gould). Of course, by the time we join Holmes and Watson in London, the Underground is already well-established.
My friend rose lazily from his armchair and stood with his hands in the pockets of his dressing-gown, looking over my shoulder. It was a bright, crisp February morning, and the snow of the day before still lay deep upon the ground, shimmering brightly in the wintry sun. Down the centre of Baker Street it had been ploughed into a brown crumbly band by the traffic, but at either side and on the heaped-up edges of the foot-paths it still lay as white as when it fell. The grey pavement had been cleaned and scraped, but was still dangerously slippery, so that there were fewer passengers than usual. Indeed, from the direction of the Metropolitan Station no one was coming save the single gentleman whose eccentric conduct had drawn my attention. [BERY]
[Hat-tip to Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney and their fantastic book, A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes.]
On the third day after the coming of the letter my father went from home to visit an old friend of his, Major Freebody, who is in command of one of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad that he should go, for it seemed to me that he was further from danger when he was away from home. In that, however, I was in error. Upon the second day of his absence I received a telegram from the Major, imploring me to come at once. My father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits which abound in the neighbourhood, and was lying senseless, with a shattered skull. I hurried to him, but he passed away without having ever recovered his consciousness. He had, as it appears, been returning from Fareham in the twilight, and as the country was unknown to him, and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hesitation in bringing in a verdict of “Death from accidental causes”. Carefully as I examined every fact connected with his death, I was unable to find anything which could suggest the idea of murder. There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no robbery, no record of strangers having been seen upon the roads. And yet I need not tell you that my mind was far from at ease, and that I was well-nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven round him.
January 8, 1888 (or maybe 1889): Jack Douglas confessed to killing Ted Baldwin. [VALL]
I was on my guard all that next day and never went out into the park. It’s as well, or he’d have had the drop on me with that buck-shot gun of his before ever I could draw on him. After the bridge was up – my mind was always more restful when that bridge was up in the evenings – I put the thing clear out of my head. I never figured on his getting into the house and waiting for me. But when I made my round in my dressing-gown, as my habit was, I had no sooner entered the study than I scented danger. I guess when a man has had dangers in his life – and I’ve had more than most in my time – there is a kind of sixth sense that waves the red flag. I saw the signal clear enough, and yet I couldn’t tell you why. Next instant I spotted a boot under the window curtain, and then I saw why plain enough.
I’d just the one candle that was in my hand, but there was a good light from the hall lamp through the open door. I put down the candle and jumped for a hammer that I’d left on the mantel. At the same moment he sprang at me. I saw the glint of a knife and I lashed at him with the hammer. I got him somewhere, for the knife tinkled down on the floor. He dodged round the table as quick as an eel, and a moment later he’d got his gun from under his coat. I heard him cock it, but I had got hold of it before he could fire. I had it by the barrel, and we wrestled for it all ends up for a minute or more. It was death to the man that lost his grip. He never lost his grip, but he got it butt downwards for a moment too long. Maybe it was I that pulled the trigger. Maybe we just jolted it off between us. Anyhow, he got both barrels in the face, and there I was, staring down at all that was left of Ted Baldwin.
Robert Perret (JHWS “Sampson”) writes in response to our Mystery Tid Bit Post:
I can only find the USH citation online, and a brief wiki mention of Calabash. It appears to be neither the first nor the last Sherlockian writing from Asimov and I don’t have anything else to go on, so submitted as is for partial credit, I guess?
C13593. Asimov, Isaac. “Those Endearing Old Charms,” Calabash, No. 1 (March 1982), 13.
“Let me tell you of all those endearing old charms / That we’ve loved and enjoyed so for years, / Will stay constant despite Moriarty’s alarms / For while Holmes is alive we’ve no fears…”
Chips answers: Asimov’s song is based on “Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms“, a popular song written in 1808 by Irish poet Thomas Moore using a traditional Irish air.
In the comments to that post, Roger Johnson (JHWS “Count”) correctly identified the piece, writing:
Asimov, a very accomplished versifier, here writes a variant on Thomas Moore’s 1808 poem:
BELIEVE me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts, fading away!
Thou wouldst still be ador’d as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And, around the dear ruin, each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still!
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofan’d by a tear,
That the fervour and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!
Oh! the heart, that has truly lov’d, never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sun-flower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turn’d when he rose!
Asimov followed the example of 1946 James Montgomery’s “Irregular Song”, written in the mid-1940s:
Believe me, if all those endearing old yarns
Which we cherish so fondly today
Were to vanish ‘neath Boscombe’s or Hurlstone’s dark tarns,
Like fairy gifts fading away,
There would still be those papers well guarded by Cox,
Watson-data as yet unrevealed,
And the records contained in that battered old box
New Conanical treasure would yield.
Oh dear Sherlock, to share thy adventures we long,
As you crush London’s crime under heel,
And we sing in thy praise an Irregular Song,
Though it ne’er can express all we feel.
Let grim warfare and pestilence rage as they can,
You will still give long hours of joy
To the boy who, adoring, is now half a man –
Or the man who is yet half a boy.
Moore’s poem became famous when set to a traditional Irish tune, and Montgomery applied his fine tenor voice to singing his own words to that same tune. I’m not aware that Isaac Asimov regaled the BSI with a musical rendition of “Those Endearing Old Charms” – but I wouldn’t put it past him.
Richard Olken (JHWS “Palmer”) added:
The tune is also that of Harvard’s anthem, Fair Harvard
Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o’er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.
Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by,
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.
Samuel Gilman, Class of 1811
Asimov did sing to the tune of O Danny Boy, as noted in the March, 1984 issue of the Baker Street Journal (Vol 34, #1, Page 7)
O, SHERLOCK HOLMES
by Isaac Asimov
(Sung to the tune of “Danny Boy)
O, Sherlock Holmes, the Baker Street Irregulars
Are gathered here to honour you today,
For in their hearts, you glitter like a thousand stars
And like the stars, you’ll never pass away.
This year that’s new, must tick away its months and die,
For Father Time moves on remorselessly,
But even he can’t tarnish, as he passes by,
O, Sherlock Holmes, O, Holmes, your immortality.
O, Sherlock Holmes, the world is filled with evil still
And Moriarty rages everywhere.
The terror waits to strike and by the billions kill.
The mushroom cloud is more than we can bear.
But still there’s hope in what you’ve come to symbolise,
In that great principle you’ve made us see.
We may yet live if only we can improvise,
O, Sherlock Holmes, O, Holmes, your rationality.
We met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at No. 221B, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting. They consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two broad windows. So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so moderate did the terms seem when divided between us, that the bargain was concluded upon the spot, and we at once entered into possession. That very evening I moved my things round from the hotel, and on the following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and portmanteaus.
On January 1, 1881, Dr John H Watson, recently returned to London and living in “a private hotel in the Strand,” realized he had been “spending such money as [he] had, considerably more freely than [he] ought.” He decided “to leave the hotel, and to take up [his] quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile.”
At the Criterion Bar, he was surprised by an old acquaintance, young Stamford, who just happened to know of another young man in search of someone with whom to share the expense of living in London. And so off to Barts they went….
There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. ‘I’ve found it! I’ve found it,’ he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. ‘I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by haemoglobin, and by nothing else.’ Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features.
‘Dr Watson, Mr Sherlock Holmes,’ said Stamford, introducing us.
‘How are you?’ he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. ‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’
A very happy new year, dear Watsonians!
Sometimes, being on the Internet leads to the odd serendipitous occurrence. Chips came across this beautiful sketch of Basil of Baker Street, but we had no way of identifying the artist. [And I tried every search I could think of! -Selena Buttons] Then, the very same sketch appeared on our Twitter timeline, posted by BakerStreetCrow (JHWS “Corvus”), with a link to the artist’s Tumblr post! And so we are happy to share this lovely art and to be able to attribute it to K.M. Hardy (scarvenartist)! (We’d also love to see a Dawson to accompany this Basil, because we love David Q Dawson.)
Chips writes: Selena and all my JHWS friends, please accept this as my Christmas wishes for all of you to have a blessed and holy Holiday season. I will be off line for a while and hopefully will be back with you again. All my Thanks for your friendships and my best wishes for you and yours.
[My best wishes to you, Chips, and to you, dear readers. –Selena Buttons]
This excerpt and picture appeared in the Norwegian Explorers group on Facebook recently. [Reposted from I Hear of Sherlock, so hat-tip to Burt & Scott! -Selena]
Chips writes: These are the word pictures that I fell totally and completely into the world of 1895 and all that followed after.
-Ron, aka the Game is and will forever be Afoot until I cross the Terrace.
“It was a September evening, and not yet seven o’clock, but the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city. Mud colored clouds drooped sadly over the muddy streets. Down the Strand the lamps were but misty splotches of diffused light which threw a feeble circular glimmer upon the slimy pavement. The yellow glare from the shop-windows streamed out into the steamy, vaporous air, and threw a murky, shifting radiance across the crowded thoroughfare. There was, to my mind, something eerie and ghost-like in the endless procession of faces which flitted across these narrow bars of light,—sad faces and glad, haggard and merry. Like all human kind, they flitted from the gloom into the light, and so back into the gloom once more. I am not subject to impressions, but the dull, heavy evening, with the strange business upon which we were engaged, combined to make me nervous and depressed.” —The Sign of Four
Chips sends in this image with a question:
What is the origin of this piece, and what is its place in Sherlockian lore?