Jun 2011

Aortic aneurism

I did so; and became at once conscious of an extraordinary throbbing and commotion which was going on inside. The walls of his chest seemed to thrill and quiver as a frail building would do inside when some powerful engine was at work. In the silence of the room I could hear a dull humming and buzzing noise which proceeded from the same source.
“Why,” I cried, “you have an aortic aneurism!” (
Dr John Watson)
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“The prisoner will be put before the magistrates in the course of the week." (Police Inspector)
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Endowment House

“Married yesterday — that’s what those flags are for on the Endowment House." (Cowper)
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Big horn

On the edge of a jutting pinnacle, three or four hundred feet above him, (Jefferson Hope) there stood a creature somewhat resembling a sheep in appearance, but armed with a pair of gigantic horns. The big-horn — for so it is called.
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Indian file

Between the two ran the irregular tracks, so narrow in places that they (Jefferson Hope and party) had to travel in Indian file, and so rough that only practised riders could have traversed it at all.

another term for single file .
ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: so called because it was believed that North American Indians usually marched in this order.


“When the whippoorwill calls three times.”
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Mountain Owl

The melancholy hooting of a mountain owl was heard within a few yards of them.
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It was as well that his prairie training had given Jefferson Hope the ears of a lynx.
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Washoe hunter

"They may be darned sharp, but they’re not quite sharp enough to catch a Washoe hunter.” (Jefferson Hope)
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The Prophet

One hears such dreadful stories about those who oppose the Prophet.
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"If I know anything o’ that young man, he’ll be back with a speed that would whip electro-telegraphs.” (John Ferrier)
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Danite Band

To this day, in the lonely ranches of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened one.
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“Good-bye,” he (Jefferson Hope) answered, raising his broad sombrero.
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At the same moment a sinewy brown hand caught the frightened horse by the curb.
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Long horned bullocks

The beasts closed in behind her, (Lucy Ferrier) and she found herself completely embedded in the moving stream of fierce-eyed, long-horned bullocks.
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The unemotional Indians, journeying in with their peltries.

pelts, furs; especially : raw undressed skins


....mounted upon her (Lucy Ferrier) father’s mustang, and managing it with all the ease and grace of a true child of the West.
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Brigham Young and Joseph Smith

“In a few days you will have recovered from your fatigues. In the meantime, remember that now and forever you are of our religion. Brigham Young has said it, and he has spoken with the voice of Joseph Smith, which is the voice of God.” (Elder Stangerson)
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“I see,” he( John Ferrier) said; “you are the Mormons.”
“We are the Mormons,” answered his companions with one voice."
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Angel Moroni

“....we are the persecuted children of God — the chosen of the Angel Moroni.”
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The apparition revealed itself as being a great caravan upon its journey for the West. But what a caravan!
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In more fertile spots the observer would have come to the conclusion that one of those great herds of bisons which graze upon the prairie land was approaching him.
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Chaparral bushes

As far as the eye can reach stretches the great flat plain-land, all dusted over with patches of alkali, and intersected by clumps of the dwarfish chaparral bushes.
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Coyotes, buzzards and bears

The coyote skulks among the scrub, the buzzard flaps heavily through the air, and the clumsy grizzly bear lumbers through the dark ravines, and picks up such sustenance as it can amongst the rocks.

In the blue vault of the heaven there had appeared three little specks which increased in size every moment, so rapidly did they approach. They speedily resolved themselves into three large brown birds, which circled over the heads of the two wanderers, and then settled upon some rocks which overlooked them. They were buzzards, the vultures of the West, whose coming is the forerunner of death.
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Pawnees and Blackfeet

A band of Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it in order to reach other hunting-grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad to lose sight of those awesome plains.
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"I made shorthand notes of all that she said however, so that there should be no possibility of a mistake.” (Inspector Gregson)

I have had access to Lestrade’s notebook in which the prisoner’s words were taken down exactly as they were uttered.
When he finished, we sat for some minutes in a stillness which was only broken by the scratching of Lestrade’s pencil as he gave the finishing touches to his shorthand account. (
Dr John Watson)
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One pound a day

"They (Enoch Drebber and Joseph Stangerson) were paying a pound a day each." (Madame Charpentier)
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Allusions made by newspapers

After alluding airily to the Vehmgericht, aqua tofana, Carbonari, the Marchioness de Brinvilliers, the Darwinian theory, the principles of Malthus, and the Ratcliff Highway murders, the article concluded by admonishing the government and advocating a closer watch over foreigners in England.

The despotism and hatred of Liberalism which animated the Continental governments had had the effect of driving to our shores a number of men who might have made excellent citizens were they not soured by the recollection of all that they had undergone. Among these men there was a stringent code of honour, any infringement of which was punished by death.
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Daily Telegraph, The Standard, The Daily News

The papers next day were full of the “Brixton Mystery,” as they termed it. (Dr John Watson)
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Four wheeler

"Presently she (Mrs Sawyer aka accomplice of Jefferson Hope) came to a halt, and hailed a four-wheeler which was passing." (Sherlock Holmes)
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Henri Murger's Vie de Boheme

I had no idea how long he (Sherlock Holmes) might be, but I sat stolidly puffing at my pipe and skipping over the pages of Henri Murger’s Vie de Boheme. (Dr John Watson)
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Union boat

"....her husband is steward aboard a Union boat." (Mrs Sawyer aka accomplice of Jefferson Hope)
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Book bought by Sherlock Holmes

"This is a queer old book I picked up at a stall yesterday — De Jure inter Gentes — published in Latin at Liege in the Lowlands, in 1642. Charles’s head was still firm on his shoulders when this little brown-backed volume was struck off.” (Sherlock Holmes)

De Jure Inter Gentes (Law among People)
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“Do you remember what Darwin says about music? He claims that the power of producing and appreciating it existed among the human race long before the power of speech was arrived at. Perhaps that is why we are so subtly influenced by it. There are vague memories in our souls of those misty centuries when the world was in its childhood.” (Sherlock Holmes)
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If ever human features bespoke vice of the most malignant type, they were certainly those of Enoch J. Drebber, of Cleveland. (Dr John Watson)
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Sergeant's stripes

"You (Constable John Rance) might have gained your sergeant’s stripes last night." (Sherlock Holmes)
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Typhoid fever

"....the very last tenant what lived in one of them died o’ typhoid fever." (Constable John Rance)
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Four of gin hot

I (Constable John Rance) was a-strollin’ down, thinkin’ between ourselves how uncommon handy a four of gin hot would be.
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Horsehair sofa

Rance sat down on the horsehair sofa.
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Holmes took a half-sovereign from his pocket and played with it pensively.
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"I want to go to Halle’s concert to hear Norman-Neruda this afternoon.
Her attack and her bowing are splendid. What’s that little thing of Chopin‘s she plays so magnificently: Tra-la-la-lira-lira-lay.” (
Sherlock Holmes)
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Parthian shot

With which Parthian shot he (Sherlock Holmes) walked away, leaving the two rivals open mouthed behind him.
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As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded, well-trained foxhound, as it dashes backward and forward through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent.
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Enoch Drebber's clothes

He was dressed in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat,
A top hat, well brushed and trim, was placed upon the floor beside him.
then glanced at the soles of his patent leather boots.
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A short passage, bare-planked and dusty, led to the kitchen and offices.

The offices might comprise not only the kitchen but a skullery for washing pots and pans, laundry for washing clothes, and a place for cleaning shoes etc. Generally these were the 'working rooms' of the house, used by servants and not to be seen by visitors.


Here and there a “To Let” card had developed like a cataract upon the bleared panes. (Dr John Watson)
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Cremona, Stradivarius and Amati

My companion was in the best of spirits, and prattled away about Cremona fiddles and the difference between a Stradivarius and an Amati. (Dr John Watson)
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Status quo

"I have left everything in status quo until I hear from you." (Inspector Gregson)

literally 'the state in which'

Our man on the Beat

An area patrolled by a policeman on a regular basis.
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Royal Marine Light Infantry

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“Commissionaire, sir,” he said, gruffly.
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“Have you read Gaboriau’s works?” I asked. “Does Lecoq come up to your idea of a detective?” (Dr John Watson)
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Edgar Allen Poe

“You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin." (Dr John Watson)
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So startling would his results appear to the uninitiated that until they learned the processes by which he had arrived at them they might well consider him as a necromancer.

the supposed practice of communicating with the dead, esp. in order to predict the future.
• witchcraft, sorcery, or black magic in general.


His conclusions were as infallible as so many propositions of Euclid.
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A railway porter in his velveteen uniform.

a cotton fabric with a pile resembling velvet.


Closely followed by a slipshod elderly woman.

(typically of a person or method of work) characterized by a lack of care, thought, or organization
• archaic (of shoes) worn down at the heel.
ORIGIN late 16th cent. (originally in the sense [wearing slippers or loose shoes] ): from the verb slip + shod.

Jew pedlar

The same afternoon brought a gray-headed, seedy visitor, looking like a Jew peddler.

a person who goes from place to place selling small goods.

Mendelssohn's Lieder

At my request he (Sherlock Holmes) has played me some of Mendelssohn’s Lieder, and other favourites. (Dr John Watson)
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Limits of Sherlock Holmes as detailed by Dr Watson

1. Knowledge of Literature. — Nil.
2. “ “ Philosophy. — Nil.
3. “ “ Astronomy. — Nil.
4. “ “ Politics. — Feeble.
5. “ “ Botany. — Variable.
Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally.
Knows nothing of practical gardening.
6. Knowledge of Geology. — Practical, but limited.
Tells at a glance different soils from each other.
After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in
what part of London he had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry. — Profound.
8. “ “ Anatomy. — Accurate, but unsystematic
9. “ “ Sensational Literature. — Immense.
He appears to know every detail of every horror
perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
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Copernican theory

My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he (Sherlock Holmes) was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System.(Dr John Watson)
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Thomas Carlyle

Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he (Sherlock Holmes) inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. (Dr John Watson)
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Ship's tobacco

“I always smoke ship’s myself.” (Dr John Watson)
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Lowest portions

....long walks, which appeared to take him (Sherlock Holmes) into the lowest portions of the city.

This would refer to the less well-to-do areas of London)


The following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and portmanteaus. (Dr John Watson)

a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts.

Bull pup

“I keep a bull pup,” I said. (Dr John Watson)
Never mentioned again)
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(I am going with the gun option - much more in keeping with Watson)

Police News of the Past

Young Stamford suggested that Sherlock Holmes might start a paper with this title.

Cases of Murder cited by Sherlock Holmes

“There was the case of Von Bischoff at Frankfort last year. He would certainly have been hung had this test been in existence. Then there was Mason of Bradford, and the notorious Muller, and Lefevre of Montpellier, and Samson of New Orleans."

"It reminds me of the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht, in the year ‘34." (
Sherlock Holmes)
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Guaiacum test

"The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles." (Sherlock Holmes)
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Bodkins and pipettes

“Let us have some fresh blood,” he said, digging a long bodkin into his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette." (Sherlock Holmes)

Bodkin A small, sharply pointed instrument for making holes in fabric or leather.
(Or in this case Holmes' finger)

Pipette A slender tube attached to or incorporating a bulb, for transferring or measuring out small quantities of liquid, esp. in a laboratory.

Re-agent, haemoglobin

“I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by haemoglobin, and by nothing else.” (Sherlock Holmes)
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Retorts, test tubes and bunsen lamps

Retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering flames.
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Dissecting rooms

"When it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a bizarre shape.” (Young Stamford)
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Vegetable alkaloid

"I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects." (Young Stamford)
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" Don‘t be mealymouthed about it.” (Dr John Watson)

afraid to speak frankly or straightforwardly.


“You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut.” (Young Stamford)

a thin flat strip of wood, esp. one of a series forming a foundation for the plaster of a wall or the tiles of a roof, or made into a trellis or fence.


I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a hansom. (Dr John Watson)
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A dresser at Bart's

....young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Bart’s. (Dr John Watson)

a person who serves as a doctor's assistant especially in the dressing of lesions.

Eleven shillings and sixpence a day (11/6d)

....or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. (Dr John Watson)

(This would have given Dr Watson an income of about £210 per year which although not allowing him to live in carefree luxury would have made him reasonably comfortable. In 'A Case of Identitiy" Holmes states that a single lady can get on very nicely upon an income of about 60 pounds, whereas in "The Msn with the Twisted Lip" Neville Sinclair (Hugh Boone) admits to making an income of £700 per year which would have been a very comfortable income. His wages as a reporter on a London Newspaper were £104 per year approx.)
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Kith nor kin

I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air. (Dr John Watson)
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noun (in phrase kith and kin or kith or kin)
one's friends, acquaintances, and relations : a widow without kith or kin.

Enteric fever

That curse of our Indian possessions.
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I should have fallen into the hands of the murderous Ghazis. (Dr John Watson)
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I was removed from my brigade and attached to the Berkshires, with whom I served at the fatal battle of Maiwand.(Dr John Watson)
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Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers

I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. (Dr John Watson)
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