On May 4th…

Today is a day of great significance in the Canon. We give you these three events:

First…

May 4, 1847: John Ferrier and Lucy were rescued by the Mormons. [STUD]

Illustration by D H Friston

 

The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two castaways that their appearance was no delusion. One of them seized the little girl and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him towards the wagons.
“My name is John Ferrier,” the wanderer explained; “me and that little un are all that’s left o’ twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o’ thirst and hunger away down in the south.”
“Is she your child?” asked someone.
“I guess she is now,” the other cried, defiantly; “she’s mine ’cause I saved her. No man will take her from me. She’s Lucy Ferrier from this day on. Who are you, though?”

 

Second…

May 4, 1882: An advertisement seeking Mary Morstan’s address appeared in The Times. [SIGN]

Ann Bell as Mary Morstan (1968)

“I have not yet described to you the most singular part. About six years ago – to be exact, upon the 4th of May, 1882 – an advertisement appeared in The Times asking for the address of Miss Mary Morstan, and stating that it would be to her advantage to come forward. There was no name and address appended. I had at the time just entered the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester in the capacity of governess. By her advice I published my address in the advertisement column. The same day there arrived through the post a small cardboard box addressed to me, which I found to contain a very large and lustrous pearl. No word of writing was enclosed. Since then every year upon the same date there has always appeared a similar box, containing a similar pearl, without any clue as to the sender. They have been pronounced by an expert to be of a rare variety and of considerable value. You can see for yourselves that they are very handsome.”

And FINAlly…
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. -Selena Buttons)

May 4, 1891: Moriarty died in a plunge over the Reichenbach Falls. [FINA]

An examination by experts leaves little doubt that a personal contest between the two men ended, as it could hardly fail to end in such a situation, in their reeling over, locked in each other’s arms. Any attempt at recovering the bodies was absolutely hopeless, and there, deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam, will lie for all time the most dangerous criminal and the foremost champion of the law of their generation.

 

 

Date provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On January 23rd…

January 23, 1891: Holmes “incommoded” Moriarty. [FINA]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (December, 1893)

“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?”

“Absolutely.”

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.”

On December 13th… The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes


“The Final Problem” appeared in the December 1893 issue of The Strand. It was also the last story in the collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, published on December 13, 1893, by George Newnes of London.

Readers did not take Holmes’s demise very well. A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney, quotes this passage from the Manchester Courier and General Lancashire Advertiser (December 30, 1893):

If […] Dr. Conan Doyle has some new vein [of gold] to work, well and good. We question if he can improve on Sherlock Holmes. But if not, he must resuscitate his hero, for we simply do not know what the reading public will do without him.

[A Curious Collection of Dates is a really remarkable book and a great read. –Chips]

On May 6th…

Evidence from Watson’s Tin Box (Columbia, MD)

May 6, 1891: An account of Holmes’s death appeared in the Journal de Geneve. [FINA]

I alone know the absolute truth of the matter, and I am satisfied that the time has come when no good purpose is to be served by its suppression. As far as I know, there have been only three accounts in the public Press: that in the Journal de Geneve upon May 6th, 1891 […]

 

May 6, 1902: Holmes and Watson took the train to Shoscombe Old Place. [SHOS]

by Ben Brooksbank, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license

Thus it was that on a bright May evening Holmes and I found ourselves alone in a first-class carriage, and bound for the little `halt-on-demand’ station of Shoscombe. The rack above us was covered with a formidable litter of rods, reels, and baskets. On reaching our destination a short drive took us to an old-fashioned tavern, where a sporting host, Josiah Barnes, entered eagerly into our plans for the extirpation of the fish of the neighbourhood.

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn

On May 4th… Beginnings and an Ending

Today is a day of great significance in the Canon. We give you these three events:

First…

May 4, 1847: John Ferrier and Lucy were rescued by the Mormons. [STUD]

Illustration by D H Friston

The rescuing party were speedily able to convince the two castaways that their appearance was no delusion. One of them seized the little girl and hoisted her upon his shoulder, while two others supported her gaunt companion, and assisted him towards the wagons.
“My name is John Ferrier,” the wanderer explained; “me and that little un are all that’s left o’ twenty-one people. The rest is all dead o’ thirst and hunger away down in the south.”
“Is she your child?” asked someone.
“I guess she is now,” the other cried, defiantly; “she’s mine ’cause I saved her. No man will take her from me. She’s Lucy Ferrier from this day on. Who are you, though?”

 

Second…

May 4, 1882: An advertisement seeking Mary Morstan’s address appeared in The Times. [SIGN]

Ann Bell as Mary Morstan (1968)

“I have not yet described to you the most singular part. About six years ago – to be exact, upon the 4th of May, 1882 – an advertisement appeared in The Times asking for the address of Miss Mary Morstan, and stating that it would be to her advantage to come forward. There was no name and address appended. I had at the time just entered the family of Mrs. Cecil Forrester in the capacity of governess. By her advice I published my address in the advertisement column. The same day there arrived through the post a small cardboard box addressed to me, which I found to contain a very large and lustrous pearl. No word of writing was enclosed. Since then every year upon the same date there has always appeared a similar box, containing a similar pearl, without any clue as to the sender. They have been pronounced by an expert to be of a rare variety and of considerable value. You can see for yourselves that they are very handsome.”

And FINAlly…
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. -Selena Buttons)

May 4, 1891: Moriarty died in a plunge over the Reichenbach Falls. [FINA]

An examination by experts leaves little doubt that a personal contest between the two men ended, as it could hardly fail to end in such a situation, in their reeling over, locked in each other’s arms. Any attempt at recovering the bodies was absolutely hopeless, and there, deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam, will lie for all time the most dangerous criminal and the foremost champion of the law of their generation.

 

 

Date provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On May 3rd…

May 3, 1891: Holmes and Watson arrived in Meiringen. [FINA]

Drawing by Phil Cornell, JHWS “Parkes”

It was upon the 3rd of May that we reached the little village of Meiringen, where we put up at the Englischer Hof, then kept by Peter Steiler the elder.

Date provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 27th…

April 27, 1891: Holmes learned Moriarty had escaped. [FINA]

On the Monday morning Holmes had telegraphed to the London police, and in the evening we found a reply waiting for us at our hotel. Holmes tore it open, and then with a bitter curse hurled it into the grate.

“I might have known it,” he groaned. “He has escaped!”

“Moriarty?”

“They have secured the whole gang with the exception of him. He has given them the slip. Of course, when I had left the country there was no one to cope with him. But I did think that I had put the game in their hands.[…]”

Jared Harris as Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Date provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 25th…

April 25, 1887: William Kirwin was murdered by Alec Cunningham. [REIG]

“Murder!”

The Colonel whistled. “By jove!” said he, “who’s killed, then? The J.P. or his son?”

“Neither, sir. It was William, the coachman. Shot through the heart, sir, and never spoke again.”

“Who shot him, then?”

“The burglar, sir. He was off like a shot and got clean away. He’d just broke in at the pantry window when William came on him and met his end in saving his master’s property.”

Great Market Square

April 25, 1891: Holmes and Watson left for the Continent and arrived in Brussels. [FINA]

We made our way to Brussels that night and spent two days there…

 

 

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On April 24th…


April 24, 1891: Holmes was attacked by Moriarty’s henchmen. [FINA]

Now I have come round to you, and on my way I was attacked by a rough with a bludgeon. I knocked him down, and the police have him in custody; but I can tell you with the most absolute confidence that no possible connection will ever be traced between the gentleman upon whose front teeth I have barked my knuckles and the retiring mathematical coach, who is, I daresay, working out problems upon a blackboard ten miles away.

Date information provided by the volume A Day-by-Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled and edited by William S Dorn.

On February 14th… An Inconvenient Valentine

“PROFESSOR MORIARTY STOOD BEFORE ME.” (The Strand, December 1893)

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the Sherlockians around the world. A chronologically-relevant quote from the nefarious evil Professor Moriarty to Holmes for today comes from the story “The Final Problem”:

`You crossed my path on the 4th of January,’ said he. ‘By the middle of February I was seriously inconvenienced by you’ [FINA]

Source:
My source for this thought is A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”). They feel as I do that the middle of February should at least be the 15th of February, though.

“No Great Harm Was Done” [FINA]

Stutler's Drawing of 221B Baker Street
221B Baker Street, as imagined by Russell Stutler

 

Brad at Sherlock Peoria posted recently about the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to the fire at 221B Baker Street in “The Final Problem”.

“They set fire to our rooms last night. No great harm was done.”

So says Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Watson. It does indeed seem to have caused very little harm, since three years later, in “The Empty House”, Holmes says that “Mycroft preserved my rooms and my papers exactly as they had always been.” An impressive feat, considering how quickly paper burns.

That fire came up in a quiz a couple of years ago, and there was a discussion in the comments in which Ariana (“Carla”) suggested that Holmes set the fire himself.

What do you think? Did Moriarty (or his agents) set the fire? Did Holmes set it himself? Or perhaps Holmes fibbed, and there was no fire at all?

(Click on Russell Stutler’s illustration of the Baker Street rooms to see an enlarged version.  Be sure to visit his site for his annotations!)

Reichenbach Quasquicentennial

"The Great Falls of the Reichenbach" - Turner, 1804
“The Great Falls of the Reichenbach” (Turner, 1804)

… upon the afternoon of the 4th we set off together with the intention of crossing the hills and spending the night at the hamlet of Rosenlaui. We had strict injunctions, however, on no account to pass the falls of Reichenbach, which are about half-way up the hill, without making a small detour to see them.

It is, indeed, a fearful place. The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. The shaft into which the river hurls itself is an immense chasm, lined by glistening, coal-black rock, and narrowing into a creaming, boiling pit of incalculable depth, which brims over and shoots the stream onward over its jagged lip. The long sweep of green water roaring for ever down, and the thick flickering curtain of spray hissing for ever upwards, turn a man giddy with their constant whirl and clamour. [FINA]

Sherlock_Holmes_plaque
Plaque marking the location of the final struggle between Holmes and Moriarty, placed by the Bimetallic Question of Montreal and the Reichenbach Irregulars of Switzerland

 

The fourth of May is a date well known to Sherlockians and Watsonians the world over. On this day, 125 years ago, Holmes and Moriarty fought a final, apparently fatal struggle at the edge of the Reichenbach Falls. What really happened there has been the subject of a number of essays and pastiches over the years.

Today, there are a number of memorial sites one can visit in and around Meiringen. A life-size statue of Holmes, sculpted by John Doubleday, was unveiled by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London in 1988. Nearby, a Sherlock Holmes Museum opened in 1991.

Also in 1991, in honour of the centennial, the Bimetallic Question of Montreal and the Reichenbach Irregulars of Switzerland erected a commemorative plaque near the Falls. There are a few other plaques to be found in the area, including one noting the location of the “Englischer Hof” (otherwise known as the Hotel Rössli, Meiringen).

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London has arranged several journeys (or “pilgrimages”) to Meiringen and the Falls, most recently in 2012. The Reichenbach Irregulars have announced plans to host a conference called “Reichenbach and Beyond” in 2017.

Have you visited the Falls, either with a group or on your own? Share in the comments!

(The closest your “Selena Buttons” has been is the Geneva airport, but one day, who knows?)

Sherlock_Holmes_and_Professor_Moriarty_at_the_Reichenbach_Falls
Paget illustration for “The Final Problem”, 1893