A facsimile of
the "anthropometic card" of a French anarchist named Ravachol—notice
the "mug-shot," similar to those used today
"…created so much excitement
Devonshire, or Devon as it is most commonly called today, is a county
in southwest England known for its wild, rugged landscape. Dartmoor,
the dangerous setting of The Hound of the Baskervilles,
is today a British national park.
"You will observe, Watson, the alternative use of the long
s and the short. It is one of several indications which enabled
me to fix the date."
Holmes could very well deduce a range of dates for the document's
age. The long s, or ƒ, which resembles an f, had a long and complex
history in English, and was used within the body of a word when
two s's occurred together. By the end of the 18th century,
this practice had died out.
"…in the time of the Great Rebellion (the history
of which by the learned Lord Clarendon I most earnestly commend
to your attention)…."
Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon (1609-1674), was an advisor to Kings
Charles II while both were in exile. He wrote a six-volume history
of the English Civil War from a royalist point of view called A
History of the Great Rebellion.
"…it came to pass that one Michaelmas…"
September 29, the feast day of the Archangel Michael in the Christian
Those made newly rich by commerce, as opposed to those who inherit
"The moor is very sparsely inhabited…."
Dartmoor, a granite plateau stretching over hundreds of acres through
Devon in the southwest of England, is a windswept wilderness of
peat bogs and granite outcroppings. Sheep and wild ponies run free,
although the extreme weather conditions make life difficult for
animals, and even for plants.
"…and many a charming evening we have spent together
discussing the comparative anatomy of the Bushman and the Hottentot."
Again, Mortimer's interest in Social Darwinism is evident. Today,
scientists can determine the heredity of a person from skeletal
evidence. Social Darwinists, on the other hand, attempted to establish
an evolutionary hierarchy based on bodily measurements and characteristics.
This hierarchy went hand-in-hand with colonialism, since it was
used to find "scientific" reasons why the white race should dominate
all others. The distinction between "Hottentot" and "Bushman" was
based on misconceptions by colonials. Today these names are considered
offensive, and "Khoisan" is preferred.