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.)



Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It is said that a 15-year-old in Minnesota, where just like the rest of the United States prayer in schools is prohibited, was tasked with writing an essay. He turned in his paper and, as it was returned with an A-plus, it is only fitting that something this clever should begin this week’s edition of The  Saturday  Funnies. Those who enjoy the Funnies understand that ... (click for more)

Protect The Dreamers - And Response

Children of illegal immigrants brought here as juveniles should be able to stay here.  When these children were brought to the U.S. they did not, willingly with any intent, violate immigration laws. They were too young to even know what immigration laws were. For many, this is the only home they have ever known. Now, as educated and otherwise law abiding young adults, it ... (click for more)

Ivy Johnson, 23, And Cordarrius Johnson, 26, Shot Early Sunday Morning On Lillian Lane

Ivy Johnson, 23, And Cordarrius Johnson, 26, were shot early Sunday morning.   Chattanooga Police were notified at 4:39 a.m. of two people arriving at a local hospital with gunshot wounds. Upon arrival, police spoke with the two victims who were suffering from non-life threatening gunshot wounds. The victims arrived at the hospital via personal vehicle.   ... (click for more)

From Green Window Shutters To Forks And Spoons, Mount Vernon Restaurant Up For Auction

From the green wooden window shutters to the forks, knives and spoons, the landmark Mount Vernon Restaurant is up for auction. Marc Gravitt, of Gravitt Auction, said there will be an online auction starting Thursday morning and running through Saturday at noon. It will be handled as a "staggered close," he said. The first item will go first, then the second 30 seconds later, ... (click for more)

Lady Vols Looking For Answers as No. 3 Mississippi State Up Next

With No. 3 ranked and undefeated Mississippi State (19-0, 5-0) gliding into Knoxville on the heels of a crushing 23 point comeback 84-70 loss to No. 5/5 Notre Dame at South Bend, head coach Holly Warlick and the No. 6/7 Lady Vols (16-2, 4-1) are looking for some answers – fast.   The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 with a 3 p.m. tip-off from Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. ... (click for more)

Furman Top Mocs 58-57 In SoCon Hoops

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga fell 58-57 at Furman Saturday afternoon in a game that came down to the wire. The Mocs fall to 12-7 on the year and 3-2 in Southern Conference women's basketball action and the Paladins move to 12-8 overall and 3-2 line league play.   Senior Keiana Gilbert and sophomore Lakelyn Bouldin combined for 40 of the Mocs 57 points with ... (click for more)