||"Eglow, Eglonitz—here we are,
Egria. It is in a German-speaking country in Bohemia, not far from
Homles's index is in error. Eger, not Egria, was located in Bohemia.
Bohemia today is part of the Czech Republic. Carlsbad (or "Karlsbad")
is a city in the Czech Republic about 100 miles from Prague that is
famous as a spa. In Conan Doyle's time, Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian
"Remarkable as being the scene of the death of Wallenstein."
Albrecht Wenzel von Wallenstein (1583-1634) was a Bohemian general
during the Thirty Years' War who was assassinated at Eger during a
"I am lost without my Boswell."
James Boswell (1740-1795) famously chronicled the life of Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784) and is credited with inventing the modern art of biography.
"A nice little brougham and a pair of beauties."
A brougham is a small, closed, four-wheeled carriage pulled by one
or two horses, with an open seat for the driver and room for two or
four passengers inside.
"A hundred and fifty guineas apiece."
A guinea was an old English coin, worth 21 shillings, or one shilling
above a pound. Its name is still used today to add an aura of opulence
to a large transaction, although the coin no longer circulated by
Conan Doyle's time. In 1888, a rising professional man might earn
£700 a year, while a senior clerk might take home £150.
Holmes's point is that the horses cost much more than any ordinary
person could hope to afford, thus rendering his illustrious client
fairly conspicuous and his disguise a bit absurd.
Heavy bands of Astrakhan were slashed across the sleeves and
fronts of his double-breasted coat…
Astrakhan wool consists of lambskin with the curled wool still attached.
The King's style of dress stands out as exotic, and even barbaric,
in Victorian London.
…a black vizard mask…
That is, a mask that covers the upper part of the face from the eyebrows
to the nose.
"Your Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that I was
addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of
Cassel-Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia."
These names are fictional, but speculation about what actual person
this character might have represented fed the Victorians' love of
royal gossip. So many royals across Europe were implicated in scandals
that it is impossible to know if Conan Doyle had someone specific
"Some five years ago, during a lengthy
visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the well-known adventuress,
Irene Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you."
Irene Adler resembles British actress Lily Langtry (1853-1925), who
had an affair with the Prince of Wales. Other sources have been suggested
for her character as well. Calling her an "adventuress" (meaning a
"gold-digger") is more than a little insulting.