"Notes on Baker Street."
By Christopher Morley (1890-1957).
The Saturday Review, January 28, 1939.
Christopher Morley, whom we have met before, was a founder of the Baker Street Irregulars, and whenever possible he alerted the public to their activities. In an article from 1939, Morley gives us a peek at some of their borderline-obsessive doings, such as the "gentleman in London" who was "to obtain an accurate reckoning of how much Sherlock Holmes spent on hansom cab fares in his journeys as described by the Doctor."
He also details the tribulations which Mr. Greenhough Smith, at the time editor of the Strand, experienced "when his most successful feature, the first 12 of the Adventures [of Sherlock Holmes], came to an end in June '92. Anyone familiar with the anxieties of magazines must be amused and instructed by Mr. Smith's valiant efforts to fill the gap while Dr. Watson was taking a six-months' recuperation." Smith proposed to replace Holmes with "powerful detective stories by other eminent writers," but, notes Morley archly, "the powerful detective stories by other hands were not so easy to find."
Morley attaches an article by Edgar W. Smith, "Up From the Needle," detailing Holmes's "addiction to cocaine and morphine" which "has served, unfortunately, to obscure the name he more justly deserves for a sound and civilized attitude toward the venial narcotic alcohol." Over the years, says Smith, "we can feel quite certain that by the time the zenith of his [Holmes's] powers had been attained, and queen and potentate and pontiff were inclining themselves before him in suppliance for his aid, the Master had learned without remorse and without regret to reach for the gasogene instead of the needle."
Category: Detective fiction