“The Stockbroker’s Clerk” Or, Don’t worry, Holmes, you’ll see this one coming next time…

“The Stockbroker’s Clerk” was published in March of 1893 and takes place Saturday, June 15, 1889.

I think the Holmesians are already looking ahead to “The Final Problem – I can’t say I blame them, I’m anxious to see what they have to say about…all that. So I’m afraid this week’s commentary is pretty sparse.

  1. There’s a strange discrepancy in a quote shared between Leslie and Baring-Gould. Discussing Watson’s dubious claims regarding his youth and energy in building up his medical practice, according to Baring-Gould, Samuel R. Meaker wrote that ‘Youth is, after all, a somewhat elastic term, but we would put Watson at a ripe 37 at this time. As to energy, he admitted frankly at his first meeting with Holmes that he was extremely lazy, and there is no evidence to show that he later reformed in this respect, except for brief periods’ (BG, 154). In Leslie’s book, the quote is ‘Youth is, after all, a somewhat elastic term, but Watson was a ripe 36 when he started. As to energy, he admitted frankly at his first meeting with Holmes that he was extremely lazy, and there is no evidence to show that he later reformed in this respect, except for brief periods’ (NA, 476). They must be from different, and later revised, sources, but it still caught my eye.
  2. As Holmes and Watson are leaving Watson’s home, Holmes asks if Watson’s neighbour is a doctor, seeing the brass plate outside his door. Leslie points out that ‘Didn’t Watson just tell him that?’ (NA, 477) Yes, he did, Leslie. Yes, he did. Holmes! Pay attention!
  3. Christopher Morley theorizes that Watson ‘jumped at the chance to go to Birmingham with Holmes. He thought he might be able to persuade Sherlock to run out to Walsall (only eight miles away) to see Miss Hunter at the school where she was headmistress’ (BG, 155). So he thinks Watson hasn’t given up on his matchmaking skills yet – I wonder what Holmes would have thought of the suggestion, though…
  4. Leslie points out that this is a plot Holmes will see again in “The Red-Headed League” (published first, but takes place after) and in “The Three Garridebs.” Despite what Vern Goslin terms Holmes’ ‘inept handling’ of the case,’ by the time he encounters similar plots in the two later cases, he recognizes it and is able to be prepared for the criminals. Robert E. Robinson notes that ‘while Holmes was profiting by each exposure to the Beddington Plot, Watson was learning nothing at all. In spite of his participation in the Pycroft matter, his reaction to [the events of “The Red-Headed League” and “The Three Garridebs”] was one of total bewilderment’ (NA, 500). Leslie doesn’t stand up for Watson here, so I’ll do it instead – I’m sure Watson was yet again playing down his intelligence in order to help show his friend off in an even better light.
  5. In case you’re wondering, Goslin suggestions that ‘Holmes wasted his time by hurrying to Birmingham in the morning, even though he could not see Pinner until early evening. Instead, he should have been interviewing the manager of Mawson’s and alerted the police. Holmes could have captured Beddington, saving the watchman’s life, and still have been in Birmingham before seven o’clock to deal with Mr. Pinner’ (NA, 500).
  6. Paget’s illustration of Pycroft venting his frustration at being taken for a dupe makes me laugh:

    I’m totally going to start showing my displeasure with things this same way.

Up next week is “The ‘Gloria Scott'” – Holmes’ very first case!

*Most of my notes, I think, come from the New Annotated simply because I find its format easier to work through and it is, therefore, the version that I’m reading first (I’m only reading the notes in the Baring-Gould). Much of the information is doubled up, but there is some that is unique to either volume, so if you see NA, that’s the Baring-Gould edition and BG is the New Annotated. No, I’m totally kidding – it’s the other way (the logical way) round.

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