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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Drugs and Alcohol Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

[Henry Baker] had foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with the decline of his fortunes, seems to indicate some evil influence, probably drink, at work upon him. This may account also for the obvious fact that his wife has ceased to love him (Carbuncle.27).

Henry Baker is only a very small part of Holmes's chain of reasoning in "The Blue Carbuncle." Still, we're struck by this bit about his "moral retrogression" and "decline of his fortunes," because these two pieces of evidence are what draw Holmes to conclude "evil influence, probably drink." In other words, the inevitable endpoint of too much drinking is an end to your fortunes. These are stories about human observation, sure, but they're also about social observation – and the moralizing that can go along with it.

Quote #5

He laughed very heartily, with a high, ringing note, leaning back in his chair and shaking his sides. All my medical instincts rose up against that laugh.

"Stop it!" I cried; "pull yourself together" and I poured out some water from a caraffe.

It was useless, however. He was off in one of those hysterical outbursts which come upon a strong nature when some great crisis is over and gone. Presently he came to himself once more, very weary and pale-looking. [...]

"Drink this." I dashed some brandy into the water, and the colour began to come back to his bloodless cheeks" (Thumb.11-4).

We don't want to be overly dramatic, but here's one problem with Conan Doyle's public safety announcements: he can't ignore the medical possibilities of the stuff he's talking about. So he talks about the overall social and physical decline caused by alcohol (Henry Baker) and drugs (Isa Whitney). But Watson still uses alcohol in his own practice and, at least until Watson finally gets him to quit, Holmes is still buying over-the-counter cocaine.

Quote #6

There are only two [servants], a man and his wife. Toller, for that is his name, is a rough, uncouth man, with grizzled hair and whiskers and a perpetual smell of drink. Twice since I have been with them he has been quite drunk, and yet Mr. Rucastle seems to take not notice of it (Beeches.110).

We can't help but notice that these stories seem to associate alcohol addiction with the lower classes. Not that Holmes doesn't admit that the upper classes have their own troubles – wasted money (the Roylotts), excessive power (the Roylotts), and snobbishness (Lord St. Simon), to start. But drinking often seems to be the province of the poor.

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