In many respects Sherlock Holmes was the epitome of arrogance. On October 4, 1902, Dr, Watson moved from 221b, never to return. He resided in separate quarters with his third wife and rid himself of Sherlock Holmes
On 14 February 1903 a telegram from Holmes was delivered to Watson. It did not ask, “How have you been?” It did not say, “I’ve missed our visits.” It did not inquire about his marriage. The telegram contained only eleven words.
The insolent and demanding telegram said only this: “Come at once if convenient --– if inconvenient come all the same. ---S. H.”
That is arrogance to the extreme. We can accept the arrogance of Holmes when he is dealing with a prime minister or the wealthiest person in the world, a former American senator. But with Watson, arrogance is inexcusable. “It is Holmes’s sense of humor,” you may say. “Show me any other place in the Canon where Holmes displays a sense of humor,” I reply. It was arrogance, pure and simple.
Dr. Watson, upset and reacting, as he had a right to react, decided to disclose to the world the indignities he had to suffer from the insufferable Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, he wrote these words to let the world know how it was having to deal with Holmes ---
“The relations between us in those latter days were peculiar. He was a man of habits, narrow and concentrated habits, and I had become one of them. As an institution I was like the violin, the shag tobacco, the old black pipe, the index books, and others perhaps less excusable. When it was a case of active work and a comrade was needed upon whose nerve he could place some reliance, my role was obvious. But apart from this I had uses. I was a whetstone for his mind. I stimulated him. He liked to think aloud in my presence. His remarks could hardly be said to be made to me–many of them would have been as appropriately addressed to his bedstead–but none the less, having formed the habit, it had become in some way helpful that I should register and interject…. Such was my humble role in our alliance.”
It is our opinion that Watson had reached the breaking point. He recognized that nothing short of a World War would ever bring the two into contact with each other. It is our opinion that Watson decided to break the tradition of writing fact-based reports of Holmes’s cases, and he sallied forth into the world of fiction. Of the 60 tales of the Canon, only 59 are factually accurate. The 60th tale, “The Adventure of the Creeping Man,” is a fabrication drawn from the imagination of John H. Watson, MD. The primary purpose of the tale is to make Sherlock holmes look as silly and as foolish as possible.
The major theme of the story is lifted directly from “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson published in 1888. Professor Presbury, attempting to re-gain his youth periodically self-medicates and adopts simian characteristics. Holmes was engaged by Mr. Trevor (or James) Bennett to investigate, solve and correct the bizarre activities. In the story Holmes was made to look silly chasing around after a monkey. Holmes was made to look incompetent as a detective and incapable of carrying out his assignment. The mystery was not solved by Holmes. In this story the truth surfaced when the professor, in the form of a monkey, threw pebbles at Roy, the pet wolfhound, and the offended dog grabbed the professor’s throat.
This story, in which Watson permitted his freewheeling imagination to run at large, has been called “one of the most bizarre and poorly written entries in the Canon.” [Bunson, “Encyclopedia Sherlockiana, p. 56] It is our opinion that was by design, not accident.
Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah for Dr.Watson,
Respctflly, Your Obd’nt Serv’nt,
(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)