Friday, February 5, 2016
MY FRIEND AND ACQUAINTANCE SHERLOCK HOLMES
Sherlock Holmes has been an acquaintance of mine for many years: Like a friend I had growing up with, moved away, but still keep in touch with at sporadic intervals.
I am a member, at large, of The Occupants of the Empty House, a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars.
My first introduction to Holmes was in the school library in my early teens when I read The Speckled Band. It was many years before I could obtain the complete works, but over the years I reveled in finding new adventures which I would read over and over.
A Study in Scarlet was my first purchase, and I remember underlining Watson’s observation of Holmes:
“My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.
‘You appear to be astonished,’ he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. ‘Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.’
‘To forget it!’
‘You see,’ he explained, ‘I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out……. 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.”
What a revelation! However, since that time I have stocked my attic with such miscellaneous trivia that now, when my attic is full, I can afford to lose prior knowledge without any remarkable results.
The Occupants of the Empty House have a website that might interest those who would love to visit London where it is always 1894.