|The King of Bohemia was a royal jerk|
Almost all villains are jerks, but not all jerks are villains.
At the inaugural meeting of the Vatican Cameos Scion Society of the Baker Street Irregulars last month, we had a lively discussion of jerks and Sherlock Holmes. Not all of the jerks in the Canon are true villains. Consider some who are, and some who aren't:
Curiously, Professor Moriarty isn't a jerk. The term is too petty to apply to the Napoleon of Crime. So let's move quickly on to:
Colonel Sebastian Moran - Professor Moriarty's right-hand man cheated at cards. 'Nuff said!
Charles Augustus Milverton - The Worst Man in London was a master blackmailer, which means that he not just a jerk but a master jerk.
Baron Gruner - The caddish way he used - ruined! - women made him a jerk of the first water.
The Clients (Not Villains But Still Jerks):
The King of Bohemia - This royal jerk sets the standard for client-jerks, of which there is no small number in the Canon. The boob doesn't even realize he is being insulted when Holmes says coldly: "From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty." Good one, Holmes!
Mr. Merryweather - As Steven Doyle pointed out to us at the aforementioned inaugural meeting, this banker in "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League" is worried about missing his whist game while Holmes is saving his bank from being looted.
The Duke of Holdernesse - "To humour the guilty elder son," Holmes says, "you have exposed your innocent younger son to imminent and unnecessary danger. It was a most unjustifiable action." That about says it all.
Lord St Simon - Holmes judges him mercifully at the end of the tale, but perhaps the rest of us are more inclined to think that calling him a noble bachelor was Watson at his most ironic. His treatment of two women in the story was abominable.
Neil Gibson - "I have broken stronger men than you," he warns Holmes. Apparently this was his idea of being persuasive. No wonder Watson memorably described him physically as looking like "Abraham Lincoln turned to base uses instead of high ones."
A number of other characters are neither villains nor clients, just jerks. Who is your favorite jerk in the Canon?