Quotes from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection

Arthur Conan Doyle ·  2631 pages

Rating: (5.1K votes)


“His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it. "You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it." "To forget it!" "You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones." "But the Solar System!" I protested. "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“Three centuries had flowed past the old Manor House, centuries of births and of homecomings, of country dances and of the meetings of fox hunters. Strange that now in its old age this dark business should have cast its shadow upon the venerable walls! And yet those strange, peaked roofs and quaint, overhung gables were a fitting covering to grim and terrible intrigue. As I looked at the deep-set windows and the long sweep of the dull-coloured, water-lapped front, I felt that no more fitting scene could be set for such a tragedy.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one's self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one's own powers. When I say, therefore, that Mycroft has better powers of observation than I, you may take it that I am speaking the exact and literal truth.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind, that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, 'Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.' The whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection



“when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, HOWEVER IMPROBABLE, must be the truth?”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“It is not easy to express the inexpressible,”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“My dear fellow,” said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, “life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outré results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“God help us!” said Holmes after a long silence. “Why does fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of such a case as this that I do not think of Baxter’s words, and say, ‘There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes.’ ”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains," he remarked with a smile.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection



“We had not got halfway to the door before she had overtaken us and was holding his arm. She had turned in a moment from steel to velvet. "Come and sit down, gentlemen. Let us talk this matter over. I feel that I may be frank with you, Mr. Holmes. You have the feelings of a gentleman. How quick a woman's instinct is to find it out. I will treat you as a friend." "I cannot promise to reciprocate, madame. I am not the law, but I represent justice so far as my feeble powers go. I am ready to listen, and then I will tell you how I will act." "No doubt it was foolish of me to threaten a brave man like yourself.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“It was a September evening, and not yet seven o'clock, but the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city. Mud-colored clouds drooped sadly over the muddy streets. Down the Strand the lamps were but misty splotches of diffused light which threw a feeble circular glimmer upon the slimy pavement. The yellow glare from the shop-windows streamed out into the steamy, vaporous air, and threw a murky, shifting radiance across the crowded thoroughfare.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“It was a September evening, and not yet seven o'clock, but the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city. Mud-colored clouds drooped sadly over the muddy streets. Down the Strand the lamps were but misty splotches of diffused light which threw a feeble circular glimmer upon the slimy pavement. The yellow glare from the shop-windows streamed out into the steamy, vaporous air, and threw a murky, shifting radiance across the crowded thoroughfare. There was, to my mind, something eerie and ghost-like in the endless procession of faces which flitted across these narrow bars of light,—sad faces and glad, haggard and merry. Like all human kind, they flitted from the gloom into the light, and so back into the gloom once more.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“The ideal reasoner,” he remarked, “would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it. As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after. We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study which have baffled all those who have sought a solution by the aid of their senses. To carry the art, however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilise all the facts which have come to his knowledge; and this in itself implies, as you will readily see, a possession of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free education and encyclopaedias, is a somewhat rare accomplishment. It”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection



“In his singular character the dual nature alternately asserted itself, and his extreme exactness and astuteness represented, as I have often thought, the reaction against the poetic and contemplative mood which occasionally predominated in him. The”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“One's ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature," he answered.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“I spent the night in town, for I came up yesterday”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“Commonplace," said Holmes, though I thought from his expression that he was pleased at my evident surprise and admiration.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection



“His conclusions were as infallible as so many propositions of Euclid. 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.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“my orderly, who threw me across a pack-horse, and succeeded in bringing me safely to the British lines. Worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it. And”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“No man ever crossed me and was the better for it." "So many have said so, and yet here I am," said Holmes, smiling.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“Exactly, Watson. Pathetic and futile. But is not all life pathetic and futile? Is not his story a microcosm of the whole? We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow—misery.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection



“You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!" It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“ "'Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo        Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplor in arca.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


“There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colorless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection


About the author

Arthur Conan Doyle
Born place: in Edinburgh, Scotland
Born date May 22, 1859
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