In “The Adventure of Black Peter” Dr. Watson paints a word picture of Sherlock Holmes. In doing so he tells us much about himself. If we carefully inspect a painting by an artist, we may learn more about the artist than the subject on the canvass.
Dr. Watson, again using his pen for his brushes and words for his paints, presents to us a picture of his friend, bringing out the good qualities and ignoring the bad. From that we get a picture of the inner Watson, himself.
He begins the story with this description of Sherlock Holmes --- “I have never known my friend to be in better form, both mental and physical, than in the year ’95. His increasing fame had brought with it an immense practice, and I should be guilty of an indiscretion if I were even to hint at the identity of some of the illustrious clients who crossed our humble threshold in Baker Street. Holmes, however, like all great artists, lived for his art’s sake, and, save in the case of the Duke of Holdernesse, I have seldom known him claim any large reward for his inestimable services. So unworldly was he–or so capricious–that he frequently refused his help to the powerful and wealthy where the problem made no appeal to his sympathies, while he would devote weeks of most intense application to the affairs of some humble client whose case presented those strange and dramatic qualities which appealed to his imagination and challenged his ingenuity.”
Here Watson emphasizes all that is good about Sherlock Holmes and ignores all the bad. In his selection of the qualities and characteristics of Holmes to emphasize, Watson tells us much about himself. We get a glimpse of the inner man of Watson. We get a glimpse of his soul. Viewed in the perspective of all 60 tales we see that: Watson suffers long, but he is kind. Watson does not envy others. Watson does not boast of himself. He is not puffed up. Watson does not behave in an unbecoming manner. He does not seek to promote himself. He is not easily provoked, and he thinks no evil thoughts [cf. I Corinth. 13].
When we analyze Watson we get a true picture of the man. It seems he’s an okay kind of a guy.
(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)