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Monday, July 11, 2011

Quintessential Quote #7

"I was following you, of course."
"Following me? I saw nobody."
"That is what you must expect to see when I am following you," said Sherlock Holmes.

Monsignor Knox cited this dialogue, along with the famous "dog in the night-time" passage, as an example of what he called "Sherlockismus." Nevertheless, the exchange isn't as well known as it deserves to be.

The great thing about Holmes's retort here is that it is so Sherlockian. It is the voice of a Master who knows he is a Master. We don't doubt for a nanosecond that what he says is true, nor do we think less of him for stating a truth.

Holmes may not be modest, but he is humble. Humility consists in honest recognition of one's abilities, not in false protestations that they don't exist.

This is also a nice reminder, if we needed any, that Holmes is no armchair detective, nor were his methods unique. He didn't eschew something as simple as following a suspect, but we can be quite confident that he did it better than anyone else -- especially Watson!

In what story does this priceless piece of dialogue take place?


  1. Ok - I'm resisting the urge to look it up (how easy and unfun would that be?) but I think it comes from 'Hound of the Baskervilles'. For some reason, I'm picturing Holmes saying this to Sir Henry...But he didn't follow Sir Henry, did he?

    Well, without cheating, this is what popped into my mind.

  2. I will reveal the answer in a future post!