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Monday, February 27, 2012

Quintessential Quote #40

Come at once if convenient -- if inconvenient, come all the same. S.H.
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Creeping Man"
One of the most quintessential all of all Sherlock Holmes quotes is one he didn't say -- he sent it as a laconic message (presumably as a telegram, although that is not stated) to Watson in September 1903.

Immediately after that text in the short story comes a priceless paragraph that begins: "The relations between us in those days were peculiar." They certainly were!

All in all, the opening page or so of this very late story in the Canon vindicates my observation that the later stories are much better than their reputation.

But back to the quote: It is certainly vintage Holmes -- self-centered and imperious. I'm reminded of a conversation I once had with John McAleer, Rex Stout's "Watson." He told me that his wife Ruth asked him, "Are we supposed to like Nero Wolfe?" The same could be asked of Sherlock Holmes.

If I recall correctly, John muttered to Ruth something about "respect." But I actually do like Wolfe and Homes, for all their flaws -- or perhaps because of them. I wouldn't want to live with either of them, though.

And one more thing: Both of these great detectives showed, time and again, that knew they were only at their best with their Boswell at their side. Being more of a Boswell than a Johnson myself, I have to love them for that.

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