The Hound and the Bittern: A Sherlockian Sonnet by William S Dorn

The Hound and the Bittern

In the days of yore the old tales tell,
Of a spectral hound Sir Hugo much did dread.
It followed him till last he fell,
Then tore at his throat until he was quite dead.

Anon Sir Charles by the moor he did wait.
Next morn the gentle man’s remains were found.
He laid face down quite near a lonely gate,
Beside him prints of a gigantic hound.

Then Watson came to Baskerville, the Hall,
He strolled the moor and heard a frightening noise.
One man did say it was a bittern’s call,
So fierce it was the doctor lost his poise.

Alas it was the massive hound that glows,
In phosphor spread in globs from jowls to nose.

Illustration of a bittern swallowing a frog from A History of British Birds, 1st Edition, 1843, by William Yarrell

On October 19th…

October 19, 1889: Holmes and Watson shot and killed the Hound of the Baskervilles. [HOUN]

 

A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish, be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog.

Illustrations by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

With long bounds the huge black creature was leaping down the track, following hard upon the footsteps of our friend. So paralysed were we by the apparition that we allowed him to pass before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired together, and the creature gave a hideous howl, which showed that one at least had hit him. He did not pause, however, but bounded onwards. Far away on the path we saw Sir Henry looking back, his face white in the moonlight, his hands raised in horror, glaring helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunting him down.

But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him. Never have I seen a man run as Holmes ran that night. I am reckoned fleet of foot, but he outpaced me as much as I outpaced the little professional. In front of us as we flew up the track we heard scream after scream from Sir Henry and the deep roar of the hound. I was in time to see the beast spring upon its victim, hurl him to the ground and worry at his throat. But the next instant Holmes had emptied five barrels of his revolver into the creature’s flank. With a last howl of agony and a vicious snap in the air it rolled upon its back, four feet pawing furiously, and then fell limp upon its side. I stooped, panting, and pressed my pistol to the dreadful, shimmering head, but it was useless to press the trigger. The giant hound was dead.

October 19, 1889: Jack Stapleton perished in the Grimpen Mire. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

But more than that we were never destined to know, though there was much which we might surmise. There was no chance of finding footsteps in the mire, for the rising mud oozed swiftly in upon them, but as we at last reached firmer ground beyond the morass we all looked eagerly for them. But no slightest sign of them ever met our eyes. If the earth told a true story, then Stapleton never reached that island of refuge towards which he struggled through the fog upon that last night. Somewhere in the heart of the great Grimpen Mire, down in the foul slime of the huge morass which had sucked him in, this cold and cruel-hearted man is for ever buried.

On October 15th…

October 15, 1889: Watson wrote his second report to Holmes. [HOUN]

Detail of Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh

Baskerville Hall, Oct. 15th

My Dear Holmes, If I was compelled to leave you without much news during the early days of my mission you must acknowledge that I am making up for lost time, and that events are now crowding thick and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon my top note with Barrymore at the window, and now I have quite a budget already which will, unless I am much mistaken, considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could not have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall judge for yourself.

On October 14th…

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

October 14, 1889: Sir Henry learned that Selden was Mrs Barrymore’s brother. [HOUN]

This, then, was the explanation of the stealthy expeditions at night and the light at the window. Sir Henry and I both stared at the woman in amazement. Was it possible that this stolidly respectable person was of the same blood as one of the most notorious criminals in the country?

“Yes, sir, my name was Selden, and he is my younger brother. We humoured him too much when he was a lad, and gave him his own way in everything until he came to think that the world was made for his pleasure, and that he could do what he liked in it. Then as he grew older he met wicked companions, and the devil entered into him until he broke my mother’s heart and dragged our name in the dirt. From crime to crime he sank lower and lower, until it is only the mercy of God which has snatched him from the scaffold; but to me, sir, he was always the little curly-headed boy that I had nursed and played with, as an elder sister would. That was why he broke prison, sir. He knew that I was here and that we could not refuse to help him. When he dragged himself here one night, weary and starving, with the warders hard at his heels, what could we do? We took him in and fed him and cared for him. Then you returned, sir, and my brother thought he would be safer on the moor than anywhere else until the hue and cry was over, so he lay in hiding there. But every second night we made sure if he was still there by putting a light in the window, and if there was an answer my husband took out some bread and meat to him. Every day we hoped that he was gone, but as long as he was there we could not desert him. That is the whole truth, as I am an honest Christian woman, and you will see that if there is blame in the matter it does not lie with my husband, but with me, for whose sake he has done all that he has.”

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

October 14, 1889: Selden was chased across the moor by Watson and Sir Henry. [HOUN]

We stumbled slowly along in the darkness, with the black loom of the craggy hills around us, and the yellow speck of light burning steadily in front. There is nothing so deceptive as the distance of a light upon a pitch-dark night, and sometimes the glimmer seemed to be far away upon the horizon and sometimes it might have been within a few yards of us. But at last we could see whence it came, and then we knew that we were indeed very close. A guttering candle was stuck in a crevice of the rocks which flanked it on each side so as to keep the wind from it and also to prevent it from being visible, save in the direction of Baskerville Hall. A boulder of granite concealed our approach,and crouching behind it we gazed over it at the signal light. It was strange to see this single candle burning there in the middle of the moor, with no sign of life near it—just the one straight yellow flame and the gleam of the rock on each side of it.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

October 14, 1889: Watson and Sir Henry saw Holmes’s outline against the moor. [HOUN]

I assure you that I have never in my life seen anything more clearly. As far as I could judge, the figure was that of a tall, thin man. He stood with his legs a little separated, his arms folded, his head bowed, as if he were brooding over that enormous wilderness of peat and granite which lay before him. He might have been the very spirit of that terrible place. It was not the convict. This man was far from the place where the latter had disappeared. Besides, he was a much taller man. With a cry of surprise I pointed him out to the baronet, but in the instant during which I had turned to grasp his arm the man was gone. There was the sharp pinnacle of granite still cutting the lower edge of the moon, but its peak bore no trace of that silent and motionless figure.

On October 13th…

October 13, 1889 (or possibly 1886, or 1888, or 1900, depending on your chronologist of choice!): At 2 a.m., Watson watched Barrymore signal to Selden. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

When I came round the balcony he had reached the end of the farther corridor, and I could see from the glimmer of light through an open door that he had entered one of the rooms. Now, all these rooms are unfurnished and unoccupied, so that his expedition became more mysterious than ever. The light shone steadily, as if he were standing motionless. I crept down the passage as noiselessly as I could and peeped round the corner of the door.

Barrymore was crouching at the window with the candle held against the glass. His profile was half turned towards me, and his face seemed to be rigid with expectation as he stared out into the blackness of the moor. For some minutes he stood watching intently. Then he gave a deep groan and with an impatient gesture he put out the light. Instantly I made my way back to my room, and very shortly came the stealthy steps passing once more upon their return journey. Long afterwards when I had fallen into a light sleep I heard a key turn somewhere in a lock, but I could not tell whence the sound came. What it all means I cannot guess, but there is some secret business going on in this house of gloom which sooner or later we shall get to the bottom of.

October 13: Watson watched the meeting on the moor of Sir Henry and Beryl Stapleton. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

I hurried along the road at the top of my speed without seeing anything of Sir Henry, until I came to the point where the moor path branches off. There, fearing that perhaps I had come in the wrong direction, after all, I mounted a hill from which I could command a view – the same hill which is cut into the dark quarry. Then I saw him at once. He was on the moor path, about a quarter of a mile off, and a lady was by his side who could only be Miss Stapleton. It was dear that there was already an understanding between them and that they had met by appointment. They were walking slowly along in deep conversation, and I saw her making quick little movements of her hands as if she were very earnest in what she was saying, while he listened intently, and once or twice shook his head in strong dissent. I stood among the rocks watching them, very much puzzled as to what I should do next. To follow them and break into their intimate conversation seemed to be an outrage, and yet my clear duty was never for an instant to let him out of my sight. To act the spy upon a friend was a hateful task. Still, I could see no better course than to observe him from the hill, and to clear my conscience by confessing to him afterwards what I had done. It is true that if any sudden danger had threatened him I was too far away to be of use, and yet I am sure that you will agree with me that the position was very difficult, and that there was nothing more which I could do.

October 13: Watson wrote his first report to Holmes. [HOUN]

Baskerville Hall, Oct. 13th

My Dear Holmes,

My previous letters and telegrams have kept you pretty well up-to-date as to all that has occurred in this most Godforsaken corner of the world. The longer one stays here the more does the spirit of the moor sink into one’s soul, its vastness, and also its grim charm. When you are once out upon its bosom you have left all traces of modern England behind you, but on the other hand you are conscious everywhere of the homes and the work of prehistoric people. On all sides of you as you walk are the houses of these forgotten folk, with their graves and the huge monoliths which are supposed to have marked their temples. As you look at their grey stone huts against the scarred hillsides you leave your own age behind you, and if you were to see a skin-clad, hairy man crawl out from the low door, fitting a flint-tipped arrow on to the string of his bow, you would feel that his presence there was more natural than your own. The strange thing is that they should have lived so thickly on what must always have been most unfruitful soil. I am no antiquarian, but I could imagine that they were some unwarlike and harried race who were forced to accept that which none other would occupy.

All this however, is foreign to the mission on which you sent me, and will probably be very uninteresting to your severely practical mind. I can still remember your complete indifference as to whether the sun moved round the earth or the earth round the sun. Let me, therefore, return to the facts concerning Sir Henry Baskerville.

On October 2nd…

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

October 2, 1879: Holmes discovered the body of Brunton and identified the crown of Charles I. [MUSG]

A small chamber about seven feet deep and four feet square lay open to us. At one side of this was a squat, brass-bound wooden box, the lid of which was hinged upwards, with this curious old-fashioned key projecting from the lock. It was furred outside by a thick layer of dust, and damp and worms had eaten through the wood, so that a crop of livid fungi was growing on the inside of it. Several discs of metal, old coins apparently, such as I hold here, were scattered over the bottom of the box, but it contained nothing else.

At the moment, however, we had no thought for the old chest, for our eyes were riveted upon that which crouched beside it. It was the figure of a man, clad in a suit of black, who squatted down upon him hams with his forehead sunk upon the edge of the box and his two arms thrown out on each side of it. The attitude had drawn all the stagnant blood to the face, and no man could have recognised that distorted liver-coloured countenance; but his height, his dress, and his hair were all sufficient to show my client, when we had drawn the body up, that it was indeed his missing butler. He had been dead some days, but there was no wound or bruise upon his person to show how he had met his dreadful end. When his body had been carried from the cellar we found ourselves still confronted with a problem which was almost as formidable as that with which we had started.

October 2, 1900 (per Zeisler): Stapleton showed Watson and Sir Henry the site of the legend. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

He came over to call upon Baskerville on that first day, and the very next morning he took us both to show us the spot where the legend of the wicked Hugo is supposed to have had its origin. It was an excursion of some miles across the moor to a place which is so dismal that it might have suggested the story. We found a short valley between rugged tors which led to an open, grassy space flecked over with the white cotton grass. In the middle of it rose two great stones, worn and sharpened at the upper end, until they looked like the huge corroding fangs of some monstrous beast.

In every way it corresponded with the scene of the old tragedy. Sir Henry was much interested and asked Stapleton more than once whether he did really believe in the possibility of the interference of the supernatural in the affairs of men. He spoke lightly, but it was evident that he was very much in earnest. Stapleton was guarded in his replies, but it was easy to see that he said less than he might, and that he would not express his whole opinion out of consideration for the feelings of the baronet. He told us of similar cases, where families had suffered from some evil influence, and he left us with the impression that he shared the popular view upon the matter.

On October 1st…

October 1, 1879: Rachel Howells disappeared. [MUSG]

Johanna Kirby as Rachel Howells in “The Musgrave Ritual” (Granada, 1986)

For two days Rachel Howells had been so ill, sometimes delirious, sometimes hysterical, that a nurse had been employed to sit up with her at night. On the third night after Brunton’s disappearance, the nurse, finding her patient sleeping nicely, had dropped into a nap in the arm-chair, when shoe woke in the early morning to find the bed empty, the window open, and no signs of the invalid. I was instantly aroused, and, with the two footmen, started off at once in search of the missing girl. It was not difficult to tell the direction which she had taken, for, starting from under her window, we could follow her footmarks easily across the lawn to the edge of the mere, where they vanished close to the gravel path which leads out of the grounds. The lake there is eight feet deep, and you can imagine our feelings when we saw that the trail of the poor demented girl came to an end at the edge of it.

October 1, 1900 (according to Zeisler): Stapleton visited Baskerville Hall. [HOUN]

William Shatner as Stapleton (Universal, 1972)

He came over to call upon Baskerville on that first day, and the very next morning he took us both to show us the spot where the legend of the wicked Hugo is supposed to have had its origin. It was an excursion of some miles across the moor to a place which is so dismal that it might have suggested the story. We found a short valley between rugged tors which led to an open, grassy space flecked over with the white cotton grass. In the middle of it rose two great stones, worn and sharpened at the upper end, until they looked like the huge corroding fangs of some monstrous beast.

On September 30th…

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (September, 1891)

September 30, 1889: Mary Sutherland wrote her stepfather about her impending marriage. [IDEN]

“Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again and proposed that we should marry before father came back. He was in dreadful earnest and made me swear, with my hands on the Testament, that whatever happened I would always be true to him. Mother said he was quite right to make me swear, and that it was a sign of his passion. Mother was all in his favour from the first and was even fonder of him than I was. Then, when they talked of marrying within the week, I began to ask about father; but they both said never to mind about father, but just to tell him afterwards, and mother said she would make it all right with him. I didn’t quite like that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that I should ask his leave, as he was only a few years older than me; but I didn’t want to do anything on the sly, so I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the company has its French offices, but the letter came back to me on the very morning of the wedding.”

September 30, 1900 (according to Zeisler): Watson walked to Grimpen and met both of the Stapletons. [HOUN]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (November, 1901)

A small fly or moth had fluttered across our path, and in an instant Stapleton was rushing with extraordinary energy and speed in pursuit of it. To my dismay the creature flew straight for the great mire, and my acquaintance never paused for an instant, bounding from tuft to tuft behind it, his green net waving in the air. His grey clothes and jerky, zigzag, irregular progress made him not unlike some huge moth himself. I was standing watching his pursuit with a mixture of admiration for his extraordinary activity and fear lest he should lose his footing in the treacherous mire, when I heard the sound of steps, and turning round found a woman near me upon the path. She had come from the direction in which the plume of smoke indicated the position of Merripit House, but the dip of the moor had hid her until she was quite close.

On September 26th…

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

September 26, 1879: At 2:00 am, Reginald Musgrave found Brunton reading the family ritual. [MUSG]
[This is one of my favorite cases. I love the family ritual. It appeals to me, “the man who is half a boy”. -Chips]

Brunton, the butler, was in the library. He was sitting, fully dressed, in an easy-chair, with a slip of paper which looked lake a map upon his knee, and his forehead sunk forward upon his hand in deep thought. I stood dumb with astonishment, watching him from the darkness. A small taper on the edge of the table shed a feeble light which sufficed to show me that he was fully dressed. Suddenly, as I looked, he rose from his chair, and walking over to a bureau at the side, he unlocked it and drew out one of the drawers. From this he took a paper, and returning to his seat he flattened it out beside the taper on the edge of the table, and began to study it with minute attention.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August 1901 – April 1902)

 

September 26, 1900: An anonymous warning letter to Sir Henry Baskerville arrived at the Northumberland Hotel. [HOUN]

Out of the envelope he took a half-sheet of foolscap paper folded into four. This he opened and spread flat upon the table. Across the middle of it a single sentence had been formed by the expedient of pasting printed words upon it. It ran: “As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor.” The word “moor” only was printed in ink.

“Now,” said Sir Henry Baskerville, “perhaps you will tell me, Mr. Holmes, what in thunder is the meaning of that, and who it is that takes so much interest in my affairs?”

 

September 26, 1902: The Morning Post announced the de Merville-Gruner marriage would not take place. [ILLU]

I do not know how the incriminating book was used. Sir James may have managed it. Or it is more probable that so delicate a task was entrusted to the young lady’s father. The effect, at any rate, was all that could be desired.

Three days later appeared a paragraph in The Morning Post to say that the marriage between Baron Adelbert Gruner and Miss Violet de Merville would not take place.

On September 25th…

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

September 25, 1900: Dr Mortimer called at 221B. [HOUN]

The appearance of our visitor was a surprise to me, since I had expected a typical country practitioner. He was a very tall, thin man, with a long nose like a beak, which jutted out between two keen, grey eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly from behind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. He was clad in a professional but rather slovenly fashion, for his frock-coat was dingy and his trousers frayed. Though young, his long back was already bowed, and he walked with a forward thrust of his head and a general air of peering benevolence.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1901 – April, 1902)

September 25, 1900: Sir Henry Baskerville arrived at Waterloo Station. [HOUN]

The only other kinsman whom we have been able to trace was Rodger Baskerville, the youngest of three brothers of whom poor Sir Charles was the elder. The second brother, who died young, is the father of this lad Henry. The third, Rodger, was the black sheep of the family. He came of the old masterful Baskerville strain, and was the very image, they tell me, of the family picture of old Hugo. He made England too hot to hold him, fled to Central America, and died there in 1876 of yellow fever. Henry is the last of the Baskervilles. In one hour and five minutes I meet him at Waterloo Station. I have had a wire that he arrived at Southampton this morning.

On May 25th…

Readers all over the world endured the death of the great Sherlock Holmes, who had become so loved and popular to fans, in the last story in the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1893. A storm of protest could not change the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even his Mother, according to stories passed around, could not bring Holmes back.

Advertising broadsheet for The Hound of the BaskervillesThen, on May 25th, 1901, Newnes’s weekly publication, Tit-Bits (sister publication to The Strand) announced, “Revival of Sherlock Holmes”.

Never mind that the story being published was to be an earlier case of Holmes’s before his fatal encounter at the Falls.

Holmes was coming back.

His most exciting case yet, The Hound of The Baskervilles began appearing in The Strand in August of 1901 and was published as a novel in 1902.

The hope of Holmes was back and hopefully would never go away.

This information comes from A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”).

We’ll close with the dedication that appeared in the original book. [Interesting that now there are those scholars who do not believe that this was true in the creation of this tale. -Chips]

This story owes its inception to my friend, Mr. Fletcher Robinson, who has helped me both in the general plot and in the local details.

On May 5th…

May 5 1900: Sir Charles Baskerville died. [HOUN]

Sir Charles lay on his face, his arms out, his fingers dug into the ground, and his features convulsed with some strong emotion to such an extent that I could hardly have sworn to his identity. There was certainly no physical injury of any kind. 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.”

Detail of Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh

“Footprints?”
“Footprints.”
“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!”

 

May 5, 1902: John Mason found part of a mummy that was dug up from the crypt. (SHOS)

Femur illustration from Gray’s Anatomy

“There is a central heating furnace in the cellar under Lady Beatrice’s room. It’s been off for some time, but Sir Robert complained of cold and had it on again. Harvey runs it – he’s one of my lads. This very morning he came to me with this, which he found raking out the cinders. He didn’t like the look of it.”
“Nor do I,” said Holmes. “What do you make of it, Watson?”
It was burned to a black cinder, but there could be no question as to its anatomical significance.
“It’s the upper condyle of a human femur,” said I.

Dates 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 12th…

Portrait of Constantin Meunier by Max Liebermann

Sherlock Holmes had, in a very remarkable degree, the power of detaching his mind at will. For two hours the strange business in which we had been involved appeared to be forgotten, and he was entirely absorbed in the pictures of the modern Belgian masters. He would talk of nothing but art, of which he had the crudest ideas, from our leaving the gallery until we found ourselves at the Northumberland Hotel. [HOUN]

Constantin Meunier, Belgian painter and sculptor, was born April 12, 1831 in Brussels. Could he be the Oscar Meunier mentioned in the Canon?

Meunier trained at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, beginning in 1845. On the advice of Charles de Groux, he focused on painting before returning to sculpture later in his career. More information about his life can found in A Curious Collection of Dates by JWHS members Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”).

More information about the wax bust credited to Oscar Meunier may be found at John A Lanzalotti’s site: Williamsburg Sculpture:

Wax bust of Holmes

In the sixty reminiscences of Dr. Watson better known as the Sherlock Holmes stories, there are two references to a wax bust made in the likeness of Sherlock Holmes by a French sculptor. The first reference is in the Return of Sherlock Holmes. The credit of the execution is due to Monsieur Oscar Meunier, of Grenoble, who spent some days in doing the molding. It is a bust in wax. ” The second reference is in the Mazarin Stone. Sherlock Holmes tells his assassin that the wax effigy was made by Tavernier, the French modelier. These names however, are either pseudonyms or the individuals were so obscure that history passed them by with no other reference. It seems odd that Sherlock Holmes would have two life-sized busts made in his image by two different sculptors. Both busts were said to be the identical image of Holmes.

On April 9th… The Trial of Drouet

The trial of Bartholomew Peter Drouet for manslaughter began on April 9, 1849.

Whistler etching of Drouet (1850s)

He was a son of that Rodger Baskerville, the younger brother of Sir Charles, who fled with a sinister reputation to South America, where he was said to have died unmarried. He did, as a matter of fact, marry, and had one child, this fellow, whose real name is the same as his father. He married Beryl Garcia, one of the beauties of Costa Rica, and, having purloined a considerable sum of public money, he changed his name to Vandeleur and fled to England, where he established a school in the east of Yorkshire. His reason for attempting this special line of business was that he had struck up an acquaintance with a consumptive tutor upon the voyage home, and that he had used this man’s ability to make the undertaking a success. Fraser, the tutor, died, however, and the school which had begun well, sank from disrepute into infamy. The Vandeleurs found it convenient to change their name to Stapleton, and he brought the remains of his fortune, his schemes for the future, and his taste for entomology to the south of England. I learn at the British Museum that he was a recognized authority upon the subject, and that the name of Vandeleur has been permanently attached to a certain moth which he had, in his Yorkshire days, been the first to describe.

The trial of Drouet was about the kind of schoolmaster that Rodger Baskerville probably was. It was not uncommon in the 19th century for private boarding schools of varying quality  to be set up and attract pupils.

In the 1840s, one such school was set up by Drouet. It first prospered by taking pupils from overcrowded workhouses and training them for a fee. Although unannounced inspections brought up issues of poor conditions and unsanitary food, nothing was done until a cholera outbreak at the school killed 100 children and one adult. The nature of cholera made it hard to prove that the children died because of the school’s conditions, and Drouet was acquitted.

See the excellent A Curious Collection of Dates by JWHS members Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”) for more information.