The Late Sherlock Holmes
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
This story was published just one month after The Adventure of the Final Problem (26 november 1893).
The Late Sherlock Holmes
Watson Accused of the Crime.
(By Our Own Extra-Special Reporters.)
12.30 P.M. — Early this morning Mr. W. W. Watson, M.D. (Edin.), was arrested at his residence, 12A, Tennison-road, St. John's-wood, on a charge of being implicated in the death of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, late of Baker-street. The arrest was quietly effected. The prisoner, we understand, was found by the police at breakfast with his wife. Being informed of the cause of their visit he expressed no surprise, and only asked to see the warrant. This having been shown him, he quietly put himself at the disposal of the police. The latter, it appears, had instructions to tell him that before accompanying them to Bow-street he was at liberty to make arrangements for the carrying on during his absence of his medical practice. Prisoner smiled at this, and said that no such arrangements were necessary, as his patient had left the country. Being warned that whatever he said would be used evidence against him, he declined to make any further statement. He was then expeditiously removed to Bow-street. Prisoner's wife witnessed his removal with much fortitude.
The Sherlock Holmes Mystery.
The disappearance of Mr. Holmes was event of such recent occurrence and gave rise to so much talk that very brief résumé of the affair is all that is needed here. Mr. Holmes was a man of middle age and resided in Baker-street, where he carried the business of a private detective. He was extremely successful in his vocation, and some of his more notable triumphs must still be fresh in the minds of the public particularly that known as "The Adventure of the Three Crowned Heads," and the still more curious "Adventure of the Man without a Wooden Leg," which had puzzled all the scientific bodies of Europe. Dr. Watson, as will be proved out of his own mouth, was a great friend of Mr. Holmes (itself suspicious circumstance) and was in the habit of accompanying him in his professional peregrinations. It will be alleged by the prosecution, understand, that did so to serve certain ends of his own, which were of a monetary character. About a fortnight ago news reached London the sudden death of the unfortunate Holmes, in circumstances that strongly pointed to foul play. Mr. Holmes and a friend had gone for a short trip Switzerland, and it was telegraphed that Holmes had been lost in the terrible Falls Reichenbach. He had fallen over or been precipitated. The Falls are nearly a thousand feet high ; but Mr. Holmes the course of his career had survived many dangers, and the public had such faith in his turning-up as alert as ever next month, that no one believed him dead. The general confidence was strengthened when it became known that his companion in this expedition was his friend Watson.
Unfortunately for himself (though possibly under the compulsion of the police of Switzerland), Watson felt called upon to make a statement. It amounted in brief to this : that the real cause of the Swiss tour was a criminal of the name of Moriarty, from whom Holmes was flying. The deceased gentleman, according to Watson, had ruined the criminal business of Moriarty, who had sworn revenge. This shattered the nerves of Holmes, who (led to the Continent, taking Watson with him. All went well until the two travellers reached the Falls of Reichenbach. Hither they were followed by a Swiss boy with a letter to Watson. It purported to come from the innkeeper of Meiringen, a neighbouring village, and implored the Doctor to hasten to the inn and give his professional attendance to lady who had fallen ill there. Leaving Holmes at the Fall, Watson hurried to the inn, only to discover that the landlord had sent him such letter. Remembering Moriarty, Watson ran back to the Falls but arrived too late. All he found there was signs of a desperate struggle and a slip of writing from Holmes explaining that lie and Moriarty had murdered each other and then flung themselves over the Falls.
The arrest of Watson this morning will surprise no one. It was the general opinion that some such step must fellow in the interests of public justice. Special indignation was expressed Watson's statement that Holmes was running away from Moriarty. It is notorious that Holmes was a man of immense courage, who revelled in facing danger. To represent him as anything else is acknowledged on all hands to be equivalent to saying that the People's Detective (as he was called) had
Imposed upon the Public.
We understand that printed matter by Watson himself will be produced at the trial in proof of the public contention. It may also be observed that Watson's stop ; carries doubt on the face of it. The deadly struggle took place on a narrow path along which it is absolutely certain that the deceased must have seen Moriarty coming. Yet the two men only wrestled on the cliff. What the Crown will ask is,
Where Were Holmes's Pistols?
Watson, again, is the authority for stating that the deceased never crossed his threshold without several loaded pistols in his pockets. If this were so in London, is it not quite incredible that Holmes should have been unarmed in the comparatively wild Swiss mountains, where, moreover, he is represented as living in deadly fear of Moriarty's arrival? And from Watson sketch of the ground, nothing can be clearer than that Holmes had ample time to shoot Moriarty after the latter hove in sight. But even allowing that Holmes was unarmed, why did not Moriarty shoot him? Had he no pistols either? This is the acme of absurdity.
What Watson Saw.
Watson says that as he was leaving the neighbourhood of the Falls he saw in the distance the figure of a tall man. He suggests that this was Moriarty, who (he holds) also sent the bogus letter. In support of this theory it must be allowed that Peter Steiler, the innkeeper, admits that some such stranger did stop at the inn for a few minutes and write a letter. This clue is being actively followed up, and doubtless with the identification of this mysterious person, which is understood to be a matter of a few hours' time, we shall be nearer the unravelling of the knot. It may be added, from information supplied us from a safe source, that the police do not expect to find that this stranger was Moriarty, but rather
An Accomplice op Watson's,
who has for long collaborated with him in his writings, and has been a good deal mentioned in connection with the deceased. In short, the most sensational arrest of the century is on the tapis.
The murdered man's
Rooms in Baker-street
are in possession of the police. Our representative called there in the course of the morning and spent some time examining the room with which the public has become so familiar through Watson's descriptions. The room is precisely as when deceased inhabited it. Here, for instance, is his favourite chair in which he used to twist himself into knots when thinking out a difficult problem. A tin canister of tobacco stands the mantelpiece (shag), and above it hangs the long-lost Gainsborough "Duchess," which Holmes discovered some time ago, without, it seems, being able to find the legal owner. It will be remembered that Watson, when Holmes said surprising things, was in the habit of "leaping to the ceiling" in astonishment. Our representative examined the ceiling and found it
The public cannot, too, have forgotten that Holmes used to amuse himself in this room with pistol practise. He <=was such a scientific shot that one evening while Watson was writing he fired all round the latter's head, shaving him by an infinitesimal part of an inch. The result is a portrait on the wall, in pistol-shots, of Watson, which is considered an excellent likeness. It is understood that, following the example set in the Ardlamont case, this picture will be produced in court. It is also in contemplation to bring over the falls of Reichenbach for the same purpose.
The evidence in the case being circumstantial, it is obvious that motive must have a prominent part in the case for the Crown. Wild rumours are abroad on this subject, and at this stage of the case they must be received with caution. According to one, Watson and Holmes had had a difference about money matters, the latter holding that the former was making a gold-mine out of him and sharing nothing. Others allege that the difference between the two men was owing to Watson's change of manner; Holmes, it is stated, having complained bitterly that Watson did not jump to the ceiling in amazement so frequently as in the early days of their intimacy. The blame in this case, however, seems to attach less to Watson than to the lodgers on the second floor, who complained to the landlady. We understand that the legal fraternity look to
The Dark Horse
in the case for the motive which led to the murder of Mr. Holmes. This dark horse, of course, is the mysterious figure already referred to as having been seen in the vicinity the Falls of Reichenbach on the fatal day. He, they say, had strong reasons for doing away with Mr. Holmes. For a long lime they were on excellent terms. Holmes would admit frankly in the early part of his career that he owed everything to this gentleman ; who, again, allowed that Holmes was a large source of income to him. Latterly, however, they have not been on friendly terms, Holmes having complained frequently that whatever he did the other took the credit for. On the other hand, the suspected accomplice has been heard to say "that Holmes has been getting too uppish for anything," that "could do very well without Holmes now," that "has had quite enough of Holmes," that sick of the braggart's name," and even that "if the public kept shouting for more Holmes he would kill him in self-defence." Witnesses will brought to prove these statements, and it is believed that the mysterious man of the Falls and this gentleman will be found to be one and the same person. Watson himself allows that owes his very existence to this dark horse, which supplies the important evidence that the stranger of the Falls is also a doctor. The theory of the Crown, of course, is that these two medical men were accomplices. It is known that he whom we have called the dark horse is still in the neighbourhood of the Falls.
Dr. Conan Doyle.
Dr. Conan Doyle is at present in Switzerland.
An Extraordinary Rumour
reaches us as we go to press, to the effect that Mr. Sherlock Holmes, at the entreaty of the whole British public, has returned Baker-street, and at present (in the form of the figure 8) solving the problem of The Adventure of the Novelist and His Old Man of the Sea.