Sherlock Holmes viewed Charles Augustus Milverton as one of the “slithery, gliding, venomous creatures, with their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces. “
Holmes also told Watson that:
“I've had to do with 50 murderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow.”
As we know, Charles Augustus Milverton was a heartless, ruthless blackmailer whose primary characteristic was cowardice to the nth degree. He targeted females whose circumstances assured him that they could not defend themselves or fight back.
However, during one of his blackmail encounters he was shot and killed by a widow whose noble husband died of shock upon reading some of the widow’s old letters.
Holmes and Watson witnessed the killing. They decided that justice was carried out by the killer.
As serendipity would have it Det. Lestrade of the Yard called upon Holmes for help in solving the crime of first degree murder. Holmes declined to help, and he and Watson kept to themselves that which they knew.
"Well, I'm afraid I can't help you, Lestrade," said Holmes. "The fact is that I knew this fellow Milverton, that I considered him one of the most dangerous men in London, and that I think there are certain crimes which the law cannot touch, and which therefore, to some extent, justify private revenge. No, it's no use arguing. I have made up my mind. My sympathies are with the criminals rather than with the victim, and I will not handle this case."
Well now, what do you think about that attitude of Holmes in this instance?
Well, I can tell you what one of the late, great Justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court had to say about similar circumstances.
“ In most first degree murder cases the trial judge gives a clear, precise jury charge on the elements of the crime and the issues of fact to be decided by the jury. In most first degree murder cases the jury decides the case on these two issues-
1. Did the victim deserve to be killed?
2. Was the defendant an appropriate person to do it?”
Respectfully, Jody Baker (aka Insp. Baynes)
(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)