Re: Was Sherlock Holmes a real person or a literary character? Yes.

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri 01 Nov 2002 - 16:31:04 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: I know one when I see one"

    >On Thursday, October 31, 2002, at 07:27 , Grant Callaghan wrote:
    >>part of his lecture included the idea that an awl shapes the hand of the
    >>shoemaker and some other oddities about people and their work that was
    >>revealed upon close examination.
    >"'Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully. You have
    >really done very well indeed. It is true that you have missed
    >everything of importance, but you have hit upon the method, and
    >you have a quick eye for color. Never trust to general
    >impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details. My
    >first glance is always at a woman's sleeve. In a man it is
    >perhaps better first to take the knee of the trouser. As you
    >observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves, which is a most
    >useful material for showing traces. The double line a little
    >above the wrist, where the typewritist presses against the table,
    >was beautifully defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand type,
    >leaves a similar mark, but only on the left arm, and on the side
    >of it farthest from the thumb, instead of being right across the
    >broadest part, as this was. I then glanced at her face, and,
    >observing the dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I
    >ventured a remark upon short sight and typewriting, which seemed
    >to surprise her."
    >"Sherlock Holmes's quick eye took in my occupation, and he shook
    >his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances.
    >"Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual
    >labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has
    >been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of
    >writing lately, I can deduce nothing else."
    >Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger
    >upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion.
    >"How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr.
    >Holmes?" he asked. "How did you know, for example, that I did
    >manual labour. It's as true as gospel, for I began as a ship's
    >"Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger
    >than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more
    >"Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?"
    >"I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that,
    >especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you
    >use an arc-and-compass breastpin."
    >"Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?"
    >"What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for
    >five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the
    >elbow where you rest it upon the desk?"
    >"Well, but China?"
    >"The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right
    >wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small
    >study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature
    >of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' scales of a
    >delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I
    >see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter
    >becomes even more simple."
    >Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. "Well, I never!" said he. "I
    >thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see
    >that there was nothing in it, after all."
    >"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that I make a mistake
    >in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know, and my
    >poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I
    >am so candid. Can you not find the advertisement, Mr. Wilson?"
    >[And, this, from the Holmes meme-ory, if I may-]
    >"Well," [Holmes] said, "I say now, as
    >I said then, that a man should keep his little brain-attic
    >stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the
    >rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he
    >can get it if he wants it."
    Good show, old man! To my mind, Conan Doyle was obviously a memeticist -- he just didn't know it.


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