Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Case of Professor Moriarity

It is perhaps time that certain facts be put straight in front of those members of the public who have followed the accounts written by Dr Watson about his long association with Sherlock Holmes, some facts that may cause certain new tremors in the public mind, as certain events did when Sherlock Holmes made a return, albeit in a manner that Dr Watson presented to the public after Holmes made his sensational return. The aim of this revelation here is not to cause any controversy but to alert the public to those issues that have vexed certain discerning minds now as they did then. I refer to the important matter concerning the events that Dr Watson described in The Final Problem and in The Adventure of the Empty House. However, I also want in particular to clear certain other issues related to those matters almost taken for granted by the reading public as also by Dr Watson himself, especially pertaining to the affair of Professor Moriarity, who I will show, never existed.

In the preface to The Sign of Four, the great writer P.G Wodehouse presented a hypothesis that it was Sherlock Holmes himself who was Professor Moriarity and that the latter was invented by Holmes to cover certain "crimes" committed, using Watson's memoirs as an alibi. Wodehouse demonstrated that Holmes was never in need of money, never demanded fees from clients, mighty or small, and never even remotely spoke about fees, though the only notable exception was when he actually demanded five thousand pounds from the Duke of Holdernesse Hall in The Priory School affair.

If Holmes never demanded fees for services rendered, pray, how come he afforded the life style he had? This needs further investigation, which I will attempt here. It goes without saying that the rooms at Baker Street did not come cheap, and even though Watson contributed half of the rent, it was certainly done in discreet ways unknown to Watson. Secondly, Holmes always sported clean and fashionable clothes, he would often dine at good restaurants, and was well disposed to regular dining out and attending concerts. Holmes would never travel second class and as far as I remember, always paid for travel and lodgings for both himself and the good doctor, staying at the best hotels. Holmes would only rarely ask for expenses to be repaired to him and yet, what was his source of income? The good doctor never seems to reflect but then he was quite discreet and loyal to Holmes.

I think it was not a matter of chance that Holmes met Watson before the affair of A Study in Scarlet. My hypothesis, after having gone over all the facts is this: Holmes was able to ascertain through his brother Mycroft Holmes the names of all the returning reliable people from the Afghan campaign and knowing Mycroft's considerable position in the Government ( Holmes calls Mycroft the British Goverment at one point ) Holmes was able to "find" Watson, knowing his poor health, quiet disposition and unsullied character. Since certain influential quarters in the Government were getting hot on the tracks of Holmes, who was an important member of the European underworld mafia, he wanted to settle down, invent a new alibi, and instead of committing crimes, at Mycroft's suggestion, solve them.

Using his good offices and his money, finding rooms at Baker Street was easy. The rooms at Baker Street were far more dearer than Watson ever knew, and Holmes paid the rent himself, with Watson paying the half but token amount. The furnishings were done tastefully by Holmes and paid for by him but Watson always thought the lodgings were pre-furnished. Holmes had a considerable amount of money acquired through nefarious activities like extortion, blackmailing and other illegal activities which he relocated to his Swiss accounts, dissolved his connections with the underworld, albeit superficially and severed temporarily his contact with Mycroft, and settled to a life of cocaine and boredom with his good friend Watson. It is quite factual that Holmes never truly envisaged the fame he would get by the accounts that Watson published, making him almost a household name across Britain and also famous in three continents.

During their time together, from around 1880 to 1888, Holmes solved many cases, including the strange Problem of the Sholto's, from which Dr Watson got a wife. It was around this time that Watson moved out of Baker Street as any family man would, and set up his lodgings and medical practice in Kensington. He continued to remain in contact with Holmes, though it was not regular. During Watson's married years, the cases that were solved where chronicled under the general rubric of The Adventures and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes respectively.

After the good doctor settled to the routine of his practice and married life, Holmes started to renew his contact with the underworld fraternity that he had apparently shunned. Scotland Yard, which had always had doubts about Holmes, had by now closed the Holmes file, not only under the pressure of the Government but also to stop looking silly in front of the public, in whose eyes Holmes was the best policeman ever. Besides, Mycroft had been urging Holmes to reconsider his position as certain elements within the underworld were unhappy with Holmes' good reputation and were considering coming out clean. Not only were there political issues involved here but if left unresolved, it could possibly drag Europe into war. With all these considerations, a strange series of events were witnessed by Dr Watson, which the reader will understand now if I am allowed, considering that I don't want to test the readers patience more.

It is clear to all that Dr Watson was at home one night, busy in the affairs of conjugal life when Holmes literally burst upon him and asked for the blinds to be lowered. His demeanour as Watson noted was unlike his usual calm self and when Watson asks him what he was afraid of, Holmes replied "air guns". Later, Holmes mentions the name of Professor Moriarity to Watson for the first time and details the criminal exploits of Moriarity , calling him the Napoleon of crime. He then persuades Watson to accompany him to Riechenbach Falls in Switzerland, where he was to have a final discussion with Moriarity. As we know, Watson neglected his marital duties quite frequently, to our gain, and instantly agreed. The events that followed at the falls are too well known for me to recount here in detail. Suffice it for the purpose that I require here that a note was left for Watson, a struggle between Holmes and Moriarity was arranged, traces that lead to both of them having fallen into their watery deaths, a confirmation from the Swiss police who were too obliging to do so, and Watson returning back to his lodgings, disconsolate and in despair.

Watson was later told that financial and other affairs had already been taken care of by brother Mycroft. Watson then published a long and slightly sentimental account of Holmes and Moriarity, the underworld considered it as a good solution, Scotland Yard as the ideal, the money laundered previously was distributed between foreign and domestic crime syndicates, the possibility of war was averted and Holmes got rid of Moriarity, who never existed, and himself, in one masterly stroke. The plan was hatched by Mycroft at the Diogenes Club and certain quarters in the Government approved. Watson continued to miss Holmes and the public found succour in the case accounts that he had published.

It is indeed my point that in 1894, three years after his death, Holmes, who had never indeed died but lived under an assumed identity in Sussex, was told by certain quarters in the British Government to return, at the time of the death of Ronald Adair, which was described by Dr Watson in The Empty House. It had indeed been a plan for Holmes to make a return by now, and what better opportunity than when "all London was interested in and the fashionable world dismayed by the death of the Honorable Ronald Adair under tragic and inexplicable circumstances". In his "meeting" with Watson again, Holmes was not only able to get the most solid public alibi, he was able to get Watson's account to the public, which was basically his. We must remember that the man incriminated in the Adair affair was none other than Colonel Sebestian Moran, whom Holmes described as the second most dangerous man in London. Not only was the Adair affair staged, in my opinion, it allowed Holmes to hand over Moran to Scotland Yard as Moran had started making uncomfortable noises in certain quarters. That his subsequent silence later on was rewarded and that it was never mentioned by Dr Watson goes to demonstrate my case further.

Holmes and Watson returned back to Baker Street, the rooms almost as they used to be, everybody was happy, including Mrs Hudson, and the good doctor resolved to carry on though the first Mrs Watson had died, we learnt subsequently. Watson's practice was bought very quickly by somebody who Holmes found and who later turned out to be a relative of Holmes's and the two settled down once again to batchelor-hood and solving crimes.
Instead of testing the resolve of my patient readers any further, I would like to emphasise the vast deception that Watson and the public were subjected to, and the elaborate plans hatched by Mycroft and Holmes to fool the public and other discerning agencies. Watson's practice was bought by none other than one of Holmes's cronies, and the money that had been laundered to Swiss banks was legally relocated to Britain, one of the missions of the Reichenbach Falls adventure.

How is it possible, dear reader, that Holmes was able to retire to the Sussex Downs with bees and a house keeper when he never had a regular income? How is it possible for him to pay the rent for the Baker Street rooms when, he could actually have bought those rooms for all the rent he paid proving that he never actually wanted to buy the property? How is it possible, we may ask, for Holmes to always travel first class? Why did Holmes always ride a hansom from Oxford Street and walk to Oxford Street from Baker Street when even a person with the most cursory knowledge of London will reveal that that is strange and bizarre! Why should one walk from Baker to Oxford Street and then take a train when Baker Street has its own station? Where indeed was Mycroft before The Greek Interpreter's affair? Why did Holmes not mention him to Watson before that? And indeed, what can be more surprising than the fact that Watson never saw Moriarity!

The above questions point to only one conclusion and that is that Sherlock Holmes orchestrated the police and the public through the memoirs that Watson published and hence used Watson to not only keep his reputation intact, but also enhance it. Holmes was the mastermind behind the London underground mafia and had operations in three continents. He used Mycroft to get intelligence about Scotland Yard tailing him. We know that his mind was first rate and analytical and certain circumstances which had pushed him to use his brain for criminal activities later pushed him to use it for the public good. He often used to rant against inactivity and boredom and on one occasion clearly marked by Watson, he speaks lightly about being a criminal. That he kept his financial affairs away from Watson and that Holmes was never openly suspected is a tribute to his genius as a mastermind and as a great actor, both talents he used to dodge the police and criminals with. I must remind the reader that Colonel Moran used to work with Holmes in the mafia and the Adair affair was staged to essentially neutralise Moran. It is also my contention that Colonel Moran knew about the non-existence of Moriarity and was planning to use it as a lever to gain amnesty from the Government.

I have based my deductions on data and facts, and have not committed the capital mistake of theorising before one has data and have not twisted facts to suit theories. I also hope that the reader will appreciate the intentions behind this piece, which is to restore the reputation of Dr Watson, which has come under vicious and unseemly attacks recently after sensational publications have started to besmirch the clean character of the good doctor, which pointed wrongly that he knew about the Moriarity issue. It is not my intention to belittle the contributions of Sherlock Holmes towards developing the detective profession into an art, for none can deny that he was indeed an artist. However the innocence and gullibilty of Dr Watson in this regard must not be questioned. I hope that Dr Watson's innocence in the whole saga needs no further defense.


Nathanael Booth said...

Interesting indeed. Unfortunately, Holmes seems to have set up an excuse for his unexplained wealth. You'll note that in "The Bruce-Partington Plans" (admittedly post-hiatus) and in "A Case of Identity"--and possibly in others that have escaped my memory--Holmes ostentatiously shows Watson pieces of jewelry, such as a snuff-box, that purportedly come from wealthy clients he has had the opportunity to help.

Now no doubt it could be a cleverly constructed bluff (we have only Watson's witness of Holmes' words--hence, hearsay and inadmissible in court) but it does throw a shadow of doubt over your conclusions. It doesn't mean, of course, that you're wrong--only that Holmes, brilliant strategist that he was, foresaw your conclusions and prepared a defense against them. I suppose we should expect nothing less.

Kubla Khan said...

It is true that Holmes received gifts occasionally but those gifts were seldom of material value. In The Bruce-Partington plans, Holmes calls the London criminal dull and declares to Watson that the world is lucky that he is not a criminal himself! Now, how clear can Holmes openly declare what he actually had done in the past. I think this is an open admission of guilt.

We must never ignore the points in a chain of reasoning and hence, the points I followed are quite obvious. However, because of certain constraints and to prevent a public outcry, I am keeping some evidence from the public.
It will be revealed at an opportune time!

Roxana said...

(smiling smiling smiling)

this is so clever and charming - and this style, indeed, this style! you kept it even in the comments :-)

i am totally convinced myself, and now that i know this, my fascination for Holmes has even increased, if that is possible!

thank you, Kubla, for such an entertaining and well-written specialist post :-)

Kubla Khan said...

I am glad you liked it Roxana, and you know why!

buddy2blogger said...

Excellent theory! You covered lot of disparate points in the canon to support a very unique concept :)

Have you read the book "Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes" by David Stuart Davies. The book is a tribute to Jeremy Brett and the Granada series.