The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Technology and Modernization Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"I feel that time is of value," said [Holder]; "that is why I hastened here when the police inspector suggested that I should secure your co-operation. I came to Baker Street by the Underground and hurried from there on foot, for the cabs go slowly through this snow. That is why I was so out of breath, for I am a man who takes very little exercise. I feel better now, and I will put the facts before you as shortly and yet as clearly as I can" (Coronet.17).
Why does Holder find it necessary to tell Holmes that he came to Baker Street by the Underground (London's subway system)? What is this bit of business about how Holder arrives at Baker Street doing in "The Beryl Coronet"? Is this like the nineteenth-century equivalent of people who go on forever about which highway they've taken and what the traffic was like getting to your house?
"Danger! What danger do you foresee?"
Holmes shook his head gravely. "It would cease to be a danger if we could define it," said he. "But at any time, day or night, a telegram would bring me down to your help." (Beeches.74-5)
These Holmes narratives are taking place pre-widespread telephone (which seems amazing to think of now – it's like the Stone Age or something). But he does have access to telegrams. This new technology allows Holmes to react with a degree of urgency to emergencies. Without this form of communication, the Holmes story either (a) would not take place in such a wide range of locations, or (b) would be much, much slower.
Photography is one of my hobbies [...] I have made my dark room up there. But, dear me! what an observant young lady we have come upon. Who would have believed it? Who would have ever believed it? (Beeches.136).
It's weird: both Mr. Rucastle in this passage and John Clay in "The Red-Headed League" use the old photography/dark room excuse for why they need to visit dark, shut-off sections of the house. Conan Doyle obviously liked this idea enough to recycle it.