With seemingly no takers on “death” let’s lighten up a bit.

We know Dr Watson has a “pawky” sense of humour which is defined as “shrewd and cunning, often in a humourous manner; chiefly British.”

We also know Holmes rarely laughs, but are there instances of Dr Watson laughing?

11 Replies to “Laugh!”

  1. I laughed at this cross-examination. “I keep a bull pup,” I said STUD

    I laughed incredulously as Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his settee and blew little wavering rings of smoke up to the ceiling. HOUN

    Then one morning there came an enigmatic note slipped into our letter-box. `Dear me, Mr. Holmes! Dear me!’ said this singular epistle. There was neither superscription nor signature. I laughed at the quaint message, but Holmes showed an unwonted seriousness. VALL

    Sherlock Holmes and I looked blankly at each other, and then burst simultaneously into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. SIGN

  2. Those are all direct quotes from the Canon. Sorry I didn’t put them in quotations.

  3. Sorry, I’ve been having trouble reading things lately.

    “Sherlock Holmes and I surveyed this curt announcement and the rueful face behind it, until the comical side of the affair so completely overtopped every other consideration that we both burst out into a roar of laughter.” REDH

    We can catch Watson smiling: “I smiled and shook my head.” IDEN

    Never a chuckle. That seems to be a habit of Holmes’.

  4. “You remember the Baker Street division of the detective police force whom I employed in the Jefferson Hope case?”
    “Well?” said I, laughing. SIGN

    Holmes: “But I’m not easy in my mind about it.”
    Watson: “About what?”
    “About sending you. It’s an ugly business, Watson, an ugly, dangerous business, and the more I see of it the less I like it. Yes, my dear fellow, you may laugh, but I give you my word that I shall be very glad to have you back safe and sound in Baker Street once more.” HOUN

    I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. SCAN

    Holmes: “If I remember rightly, you on one occasion, in the early days of our friendship, defined my limits in a very precise fashion.”
    “Yes,” I answered, laughing. “It was a singular document.” FIVE

    “Well, it is very ingenious,” said I, laughing BLUE

    Holmes, with a laugh, passed his hand behind the child’s ear, a mask peeled off from her countenance, and there was a little coal-black negress with all her white teeth flashing in amusement at our amazed faces. I burst out laughing out of sympathy with her merriment, but Grant Munro stood staring, with his hand clutching at his throat. YELL

    “Come,” said I, laughing, “this is a little too much.” GREE

    “Well,” I said, laughing, “I am prepared to take your word for it.” SHOS

    There are probably more. I know there is an article that lists all the many times Holmes laughs in the Canon, belying Watson’s statement that Holmes rarely laughs, but I can’t think of what it is.

  5. Exultation: The act or condition of rejoicing greatly. While not a laugh, there is; And then I gave a cry of exultation, for a tiny pinpoint of yellow light had suddenly transfixed the dark veil, and glowed steadily in the centre of the black square framed by the window.
    “There it is!” I cried. HOUN

    Watson describing how he felt in breaking into Milverton’s house: “Far from feeling guilty, I rejoiced and exulted in our dangers. With a glow of admiration I watched Holmes unrolling his case of instruments and choosing his tool with the calm, scientific accuracy of a surgeon who performs a delicate operation.” CHAS

    “My friend has so often astonished me in the course of our adventures that it was with a sense of exultation that I realized how completely I had astonished him.” SECO

    “Hurrah!” I cried. “We have it.” PRIO

    Of Mary Morstan on receiving the chest of the Agra treasure and future riches: “It sent a little thrill of joy to my heart to notice that she showed no sign of elation at the prospect.” SIGN

    Holmes was a great chuckler: STUD, SIGN, SCAN, REDH, IDEN, FIVE, TWIS, SPEC, SILV, HOUN, VALL, etc. But Watson like to laugh.

  6. Pippin,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your responses. There are two articles about the number of times Holmes laughs in the Canon. They are referenced in Vol. II of Leslie Klinger’s The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, p. 1530:

    “A. G. Cooper, in “Holmesian Humour,” claims to have counted 292 examples of the Master’s laughter, while Charles E. Lauterbach and Edward S. Lauterbach, in “The Man Who Seldom Laughed,” compiled the following table:

    Frequency Table Showing the Number and Kind of Responses Sherlock Holmes Made to Humourous Situations and Comments in His 60 Recorded Adventures

    Smile 103
    Laugh 65
    Joke 58
    Chuckle 31
    Humor 10
    Amusement 9
    Cheer 7
    Delight 7
    Twinkle 7
    Miscellaneous 19
    Total 316

    The authors’ facetious explanation for Watson’s characterization of Holmes as humorless is that Watson was deaf.”

    1. Absolutely wonderful, “Faith.” This adds so much depth to our understanding. Thank you!

    2. Thanks very much! I know I had read of Holmes’ humorous character somewhere. It doesn’t say much for the state of my brain attic; it must be very messy.

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