Ed Lear, long-time member of the Tankerville Club of Cincinnati, should be its poet laureate – and not just because he shares the name of the famous limerickwriter and author of The Owl and the Pussycat.
At the quarterly Tankerville Club meeting last Friday (June 15), Ed produced a toast to Watson’s bull pup that confronted the question of just what the heck that pup was.
You will recall that upon first meeting Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, Watson lists one of his shortcomings as “I keep a bull pup.” That’s the last we hear of it. Or is it the terrier that is poisoned in chapter 7? Actually, it may not be a dog at all. A “bull pup” is both a kind of gun and an old British expression for having a quick temper.
Ultimately, Ed isn’t sure what Watson meant. Here’s the toast:
It started out as, “yes, I know this one,”But there was more by the time I was done.If truth be toldWe were all probably fooledBy what really is meant by this son-of-a-gun.
It was in the story you just readAnd for his part winds up dead,Killed by strychnine pill,But some say he was illAnd in the end his name was never said.
Or it could have been what Watson usedTo keep them from being battered and bruised.Easy to carry, easy to hide –
Just the thing when by Sherlock’s side,Or maybe what Sherlock used to keep himself amused.
Or it could be his quick temper to some of you,And to others it may mean something I never knew.But now that you’ve read the story,You be the judge and jury –
’Cause it may be something else totally out of the blue!
But regardless, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us raise our glasses to Watson’s bull pup!
It’s not exactly T.S. Eliot, or even Edward Lear, but it was terrific toast!