Dr Watson’s Finest Moment

[Note from Chips: I have the author’s permission to use this for our membership to enjoy. For a society that honors the contributions of Dr Watson, I think it is a fitting tribute to the Good Doctor.]


by Carl L Heifetz

Prepared for The Formulary, The Journal of the Friends of Doctor Watson

April 17, 2006

The “sacred” Canon reveals many excellent instances that may fulfill the object of this essay – to describe the finest moment in the life and career of John H. Watson, M.D.

Could it be the time that he stood bravely on the deck of the Aurora, revolver in hand, facing down the dangerous Tonga and his poisoned dart in The Sign of Four, or, in the same adventure, when he walked, alone and unprotected, late at night through a dangerous part of London seeking Toby? How about the time that he steadfastly acted as a British jury in “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange?” The list is virtually endless.

Although many other episodes could be cited as exemplifying the subject of this discourse, I maintain that the best exemplar was the occasion in which Dr. Watson agreed to shares Baker Street quarters with Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Look at the circumstances that would have mitigated against this decision. Watson was weak and weary from his horrible experiences. His leg and shoulder ached constantly, forcing him towards excessive drink. His constitution had been weakened by a case of enteric fever. He was probably also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. And, no doubt, his nerves were very highly susceptible to anxiety, admitting later to “keeping a bull pup.” Yet, he agreed to share a suite with a man described as a very sinister companion; a man who greeted him with a mysterious statement concerning the fact that he had been in Afghanistan, a statement which could put most men’s nerve on edge, and then ran around yelling about some test for blood. It is indeed a tribute to Dr. Watson that he must have seen some very positive outcomes associated with a future relationship with the “mad scientist” whom he had just met.

Let us consider the serious consequences had Dr. Watson not decided that it would be in his best interests to share rooms with this eccentric gentleman. Just imagine, we might never have heard of Sherlock Holmes.

His personal reticence would have dimmed whatever other records there were of his accomplishment. Think of it: The world would never have been the same; we would all have been deprived of the main focus of our scholarly pursuits.

Let us all sing the praises of Dr. Watson, and his finest moment – the beginning of an adventurous life for Dr. Watson and all of us who relish Dr. Watson’s accounts.