Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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"Well, my dear sir, knowing the vindictive character
of his old associates, he was trying to hide his own
identity from everybody as long as he could. His
secret was a shameful one, and he could not bring
himself to divulge it. However, wretch as he was, he
was still living under the shield of British law, and
I have no doubt, Inspector, that you will see that,
though that shield may fail to guard, the sword of
justice is still there to avenge."
Such were the singular circumstances in connection
with the Resident Patient and the Brook Street Doctor.
From that night nothing has been seen of the three
murderers by the police, and it is surmised at
Scotland Yard that they were among the passengers of
the ill-fated steamer Norah Creina, which was lost
some years ago with all hands upon the Portuguese
coast, some leagues to the north of Oporto. The
proceedings against the page broke down for want of
evidence, and the Brook Street Mystery, as it was
called, has never until now been fully dealt with in
any public print.
The Greek Interpreter
During my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr.
Sherlock Holmes I had never heard him refer to his
relations, and hardly ever to his own early life.
This reticence upon his part had increased the
somewhat inhuman effect which he produced upon me,
until sometimes I found myself regarding him as an
isolated phenomenon, a brain without a heart, as
deficient in human sympathy as he was pre-eminent in
intelligence. His aversion to women and his
disinclination to form new friendships were both
typical of his unemotional character, but not more so
than his complete suppression of every reference to
his own people. I had come to believe that he was an
orphan with no relatives living, but one day, to my
very great surprise, he began to talk to me about his
It was after tea on a summer evening, and the
conversation, which had roamed in a desultory,
spasmodic fashion from golf clubs to the causes of the
change in the obliquity of the ecliptic, came round at
last to the question of atavism and hereditary
aptitudes. The point under discussion was, how far
any singular gift in an individual was due to his
ancestry and how far to his own early training.
"In your own case," said I, "from all that you have
told me, it seems obvious that your faculty of
observation and your peculiar facility for deduction
are due to your own systematic training."
"To some extent," he answered, thoughtfully. "My
ancestors were country squires, who appear to have led
much the same life as is natural to their class. But,
none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and
may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister
of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is
liable to take the strangest forms."
"But how do you know that it is hereditary?"
"Because my brother Mycroft possesses it in a larger
degree than I do."
This was news to me indeed. If there were another man
with such singular powers in England, how was it that
neither police nor public had heard of him? I put the
question, with a hint that it was my companion's
modesty which made him acknowledge his brother as his
superior. Holmes laughed at my suggestion.
"My dear Watson," said he, "I cannot agree with those
who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician
all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to
underestimate one's self is as much a departure from
truth as to exaggerate one's own powers. When I say,
therefore, that Mycroft has better powers of
observation than I, you may take it that I am speaking
the exact and literal truth."
"Is he your junior?"
"Seven years my senior."
"How comes it that he is unknown?"
"Oh, he is very well known in his own circle."
"Well, in the Diogenes Club, for example."
I had never heard of the institution, and my face must
have proclaimed as much, for Sherlock Holmes pulled
out his watch.
"The Diogenes Club is the queerest club in London, and
Mycroft one of the queerest men. He's always there
from quarter to five to twenty to eight. It's six
now, so if you care for a stroll this beautiful
evening I shall be very happy to introduce you to two
"Five minutes later we were in the street, walking
towards Regent's Circus.
"You wonder," said my companion, "why it is that
Mycroft does not use his powers for detective work.
He is incapable of it."
"But I thought you said--"
"I said that he was my superior in observation and
deduction. If the art of the detective began and
ended in reasoning from an arm-chair, my brother would
be the greatest criminal agent that ever lived. But
he has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go
out of his way to verify his own solution, and would
rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to
prove himself right. Again and again I have taken a
problem to him, and have received an explanation which
has afterwards proved to be the correct one. And yet
he was absolutely incapable of working out the
practical points which must be gone into before a case
could be laid before a judge or jury."
"It is not his profession, then?"
"By no means. What is to me a means of livelihood is
to him the merest hobby of a dilettante. He has an
extraordinary faculty for figures, and audits the
books in some of the government departments. Mycroft
lodges in Pall Mall, and he walks round the corner
into Whitehall every morning and back every evening.
From year's end to year's end he takes no other
exercise, and is seen nowhere else, except only in the
Diogenes Club, which is just opposite his rooms."
"I cannot recall the name."
"Very likely not. There are many men in London, you
know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy,
have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet
they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the
latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of
these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now
contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in
town. No member is permitted to take the least notice
of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no
talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and
three offences, if brought to the notice of the
committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My
brother was one of the founders, and I have myself
found it a very soothing atmosphere."
We had reached Pall Mall as we talked, and were
walking down it from the St. James's end. Sherlock
Holmes stopped at a door some little distance from the
Carlton, and, cautioning me not to speak, he led the
way into the hall. Through the glass paneling I
caught a glimpse of a large and luxurious room, in
which a considerable number of men were sitting about
and reading papers, each in his own little nook.
Holmes showed me into a small chamber which looked out
into Pall Mall, and then, leaving me for a minute, he
came back with a companion whom I knew could only be
Mycroft Holmes was a much larger and stouter man than
Sherlock. His body was absolutely corpulent, but is
face, though massive, had preserved something of the
sharpness of expression which was so remarkable in
that of his brother. His eyes, which were of a
peculiarly light, watery gray, seemed to always retain
that far-away, introspective look which I had only
observed in Sherlock's when he was exerting his full
"I am glad to meet you, sir," said he, putting out a
broad, fat hand like the flipper of a seal. "I hear
of Sherlock everywhere since you became his
chronicler. By the way, Sherlock, I expected to see
you round last week, to consult me over that Manor
House case. I thought you might be a little out of
"No, I solved it," said my friend, smiling.