Jody Baker: Baynes On Holmes And Oysters

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - by Jody Baker

In The Adventure of the Dying Detective, Sherlock Holmes feigns delirium and engages Watson in a seemingly maniacal, bizarre conversation about the world being overrun by oysters. In reporting upon this conversation Watson, for dramatic effect (or more personal reasons), omitted parts.  Certain remarks made by Watson and replies and actions by Holmes were not included by Watson in his write-up. 

We know from the reported text that Holmes said to Watson, “Indeed, I cannot think why the whole bed of the ocean is not one solid mass of oysters, so prolific the creatures seem.” That was written. What follows was not.

Watson replied:  "Tweedledee." 

Holmes, picking up interest: "Don't you mean, `twaddle,' Watson, ineffable twaddle? "

Watson, sternly: "No, Holmes. I mean Tweedledee – as in Tweedledee and walruses and carpenters -- and such." 

Holmes, sitting upright in the bed with a clear eye, apparently having shaken his delirium, said forcefully, "Watson, I wish you would make sense. I'm the one here who's supposed to be delirious. What the deuce are you talking about?"

"Well, Holmes," replied Watson, "Tweedledee was telling Alice about poetry, and at Tweedledum's suggestion, he gave her the Walrus-and-the-Carpenter bit about why the whole world is not overrun by oysters: 

“O  Oysters, come and walk with us!”

The Walrus did beseech,
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
        Along the briny beech....”
                         * * * * *
... four young oysters hurried up,
        All eager for the treat
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
         Their shoes were clean and neat---
                         * * * * *
Four other oysters followed them,
         And yet another four,
             
         And more, and more, and more---"
                         * * * * *
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
         “Is what we mainly need:
  Pepper and vinegar besides
           Are very good indeed---
  Now, if you're ready, Oysters, dear,
            We can begin to feed."
                         * * * * *
  “It seems a shame,” the Walrus said.
            “To play them such a trick.
      After we've brought them out so far,
            And made them trot so quick!'
      The Carpenter said nothing but;
            “The butter's spread too thick”
 
      “O, Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
             “You've had a pleasant run !
       Shall we be trotting home again?”
            But answer came there none---
       And this was scarcely odd, because
            They'd eaten every one."

 [(Abridged from “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,” by Lewis Carroll nom de plume for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)]

This had so engaged Holmes's attention that he was excited out of his lethargy. He was giggling, sitting cross-legged in a Yoga position and was bouncing up and down on his bed with glee. Suddenly, he realized that he had been tricked out of his feigned illness. But he was so pleased with his discovery that he just repeated Watson's enigmatic expression over and over: "Tweedledee, Tweedledee, Tweedledee."   

It was after this that Holmes pronounced his salient observation on oysters. It was a scientific truth spoken by Holmes that Watson did report: “No doubt there are natural enemies which limit the  increase of the creatures.”

These were the facts of the conversation between Watson and Holmes of which Watson has given only a partial report. 

Respectfully,
Insp. Baynes


(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at josiahbaker@bkhcw.com.)


Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: I Recall J.C. Owens

If you were to go to Oakville, Ala, a little ways from Decatur, about the biggest thing you’d find would be some 20 or so Indian mounds, where the early tribes would bury their dead many centuries ago. But if you sniffed around a bit, you’d learn it was the birthplace of James Cleveland Owens, a man whose name is of no consequence to anyone. I’m proud to say I talked to him ... (click for more)

Robber Is Shot By Victim In Attempted Robbery On East 43rd Street

One person was shot during a robbery attempt at 4314 Rossville Blvd. around 1:50 p.m. on Thursday.  The Chattanooga Police Department is investigating the robbery that ended in a shooting near East 43rd St. at Miller Auto Sales.  The robbery victim shot the suspect.  The suspect was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries. Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Fire On Crutchfield Street Ruled Arson

Chattanooga fire investigators have determined that last Thursday’s fire at 1207 Crutchfield St.  that nearly killed four people was deliberately set. Lt. Henry McElvain with the Fire Investigation Division said he cannot divulge the reason why he thinks it’s arson, but he is asking for help from the public. If anyone has information that can help solve this case, call ... (click for more)

Mossburg Fans 11, Stymies Innisdale In Pounder Classic

Innisdale Secondary School, out of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, looked like a baseball team that had been cooped up in its basketball gymnasium for weeks while harsh winter weather slammed the province. The Invaders, getting outside for the first time, were held hitless and scoreless over five innings by Silverdale pitcher Tyler Mossburg and the Seahawks went on to beat Innisdale, ... (click for more)

Lookouts Introduce FSG Bank As Their Presenting Partner; New Deck Set For 3rd Base Line

FSG Bank was introduced Thursday as the presenting partner for Chattanooga Lookouts baseball. Improvements were also announced, including a new deck down the third base line. This multi-year partnership joins together two of Chattanooga’s hometown community businesses.  FSG Bank’s presence will be felt by fans throughout their ballpark experience with the creation of ... (click for more)