Sherlock Holmes
mysteries by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This page:

by Christopher Morley: In Memoriam: Sherlock Holmes
A Study in Scarlet
The Sign of Four


detective fiction

index pages:

My source for all Doyle’s stories of Sherlock Holmes is The Complete Sherlock Holmes collection, which lacks any declaration of copyright specifics for individual works. This is the summary:

Copyright © 1905, 1917, 1930 by Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Copyright © 1893, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1914, 1920, 1922 by Arthur Conan Doyle
Copyright © 1903, 1904, 1924 by Collier’s Weekly
Copyright © 1892, 1894, 1905 by Harper & Brothers
Copyright © 1921, 1922, 1924 by International Magazine Company, Inc.
Copyright © 1926, 1927 by Liberty Weekly, Inc.

In Memoriam: Sherlock Holmes

preface, by Christopher Morley, to The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Note (Hal’s):
These are Morley’s comments on Doyle (not Holmes).

— end note

In his first year of independent medical practice his earnings were £154, and when the income-tax paper arrived he filled it up to show that he was not liable. The authorities returned the form with the words Most Unsatisfactory scrawled across it. He returned it again with the subscription I entirely agree.



Doctor, whaler, athlete, writer, speculator, dramatist, historian, war correspondent, spiritualist, he was always also the infracaninophile—the helper of the under dog.



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A Study in Scarlet

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Part I
Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department
Chapter II
The Science of Deduction
“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”



Chapter III
The Lauriston Garden Mystery
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”

“They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,” he remarked with a smile. “It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.”



Chapter IV
What John Rance Had to Tell
“There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”
Chapter V
Our Advertisement Brings a Visitor

“Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood.”

“That’s rather a broad idea,” I remarked.

“One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature,” he answered.

Chapter VII
Light in the Darkness
“I should have more faith,” he said; “I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions, it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.”



“It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery. The most commonplace crime is often the most mysterious, because it presents no new or special features from which deductions may be drawn.”
Part II
The Country of the Saints
Chapter VII
The Conclusion

“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence,” returned my companion, bitterly. “The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done?”



“There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically.”

“I confess,” said I, “that I do not quite follow you.”

“I hardly expected that you would. Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward, or analytically.”

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The Sign of Four

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Chapter I
The Science of Deduction

“Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.”

“But the romance was there,” I remonstrated. “I could not tamper with the facts.”

“Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it.”




“But it was not mere guesswork?”

“No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking habit—destructive to the logical faculty. What seems strange to you is only so because you do not follow my train of thought or observe the small facts upon which large inferences may depend.”

Chapter II
The Statement of the Case

“What a very attractive woman!” I exclaimed, turning to my companion.

He had lit his pipe again and was leaning back with drooping eyelids. “Is she?” he said languidly; “I did not observe.”

“You really are an automaton—a calculating machine,” I cried. “There is something positively inhuman in you at times.”

He smiled gently.

“It is of the first importance,” he cried, “not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor.”

“In this case, however—”

“I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule.”

Chapter III
In Quest of a Solution
I endeavoured to cheer and amuse her by reminiscences of my adventures in Afghanistan; but, to tell the truth, I was myself so excited at our situation and so curious as to our destination that my stories were slightly involved. To this day she declares that I told her one moving anecdote as to how a musket looked into my tent at the dead of night, and how I fired a double-barrelled tiger cub at it.
Chapter V
The Tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge
A wondrous subtle thing is love, for here were we two, who had never seen each other before that day, between whom no word or even look of affection had ever passed, and yet now in an hour of trouble our hands instinctively sought for each other. I have marvelled at it since, but at the time it seemed the most natural thing that I should go out to her so, and, as she has often told me, there was in her also the instinct to turn to me for comfort and protection. So we stood hand in hand like two children, and there was peace in our hearts for all the dark things that surrounded us.



Chapter VI
Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
Chapter VIII
The Baker Street Irregulars

“The main thing with people of that sort,” said Holmes as we sat in the sheets of the wherry, “is never to let them think that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. If you do they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you listen to them under protest, as it were, you are very likely to get what you want.”

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