The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Justice and Judgment Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Get out!" said [Holmes to first-time jewel thief James Ryder].
"What, sir! Oh, Heaven bless you!"
"No more words. Get out!"
And no more words were needed. There was a rush, a clatter upon the stairs, the bang of a door, and the crisp rattle of running footfalls from the street.
"After all, Watson," said Holmes, reaching up his hand for his clay pipe, "I am not retained by the police to supply their deficiencies. If Horner were in danger it would be another thing; but this fellow will not appear against him, and the case must collapse. I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong again; he is too terribly frightened. Send him to gaol now, and you make him a gaol-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of forgiveness. Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward" (Carbuncle.205-11).
What do you make of this statement that "chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward"? Why doesn't Holmes have a larger moral responsibility to supply the police in their deficiencies? Do you agree that Holmes's mercy is justified in this case?
"With the result of driving it through the ventilator."
"And also with the result of causing it to turn upon its master at the other side. Some of the blows of my cane came home and roused its snakish temper, so that it flew upon the first person it saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr. Grimesby Roylott's death, and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience" (Band.251-2).
Here, as in "The Five Orange Pips," we have an example of a kind of divine or karmic retribution for wrongdoing. There is comfort in the belief that the world itself seems to be governed by a desire for justice, and that life really can be fair.
I shall have to tell my tale to the police; but, between ourselves, if it were not for the convincing evidence of this wound of mine, I should be surprised if they believed my statement, for it is a very extraordinary one, and I have not much in the way of proof with which to back it up; and, even if they believe me, the clues which I can give them are so vague that it is a question whether justice will be done (Thumb.31).
Vincent Hatherley is speaking to Watson as he receives treatment for his lost Thumb. We get to see another reason why clients might prefer Holmes instead of the official police force. Holmes's position outside the legal system means he can accept any case he chooses, with or without initial proof of the client telling truth.