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Keeping the bloodline pure

One of the more attractive elements of the Libertarian Alliance conferences is the enjoyable lunches, often served by attractive totty from Eastern Europe. After second-guessing the blackmailed royal, our conversation veered towards the compulsory testing of genetic material on the part of individuals.

After all, they are the Royal Family and if we are to be subjects, I do want to be sure that they are descended from the Queen. Without indulging in tittle-tattle on the unorthodox descent of facial features in the Windsor opera, we do have a right to ensure that the line remains pure. My own take was that this would involve a minor amendment to the Act of Settlement, alongside the abolition of the papist prohibition.

This does beg the question of how far back we should go if the present line proves to be a collection of interlopers and carpetbaggers descended from a priapic Keeper of the Privy Purse. My personal preference is for Alfred and a clear line of descent from Wessex and the Heptarchy. I would go back to Cunobelin if I could. Others prefer the continental certainties of the Normans.

Ensuring the demand that the heir to the throne is a lineal descendant of their father or mother seems a useful task for our new technologies.

59 comments to Keeping the bloodline pure

  • Paul Marks

    I stayed off the other “Royal” thread on the ground that what is discussed was none of my business, however this thread can be commented upon.

    One of the dangers in a bloodline is “purity”.

    I am not talking about bastards (and nor should anyone else), I am talking about the mistaken practice of “Royals” only marrying “Royals” this is too restricted a gene pool.

    The marriage of Prince Charles to Diana Spenser may have been unwise in some ways (the two people had no common interests, and so on), but the intention (to widen the gene pool) was a sensible one – and one that had been followed before.

    There are no different ranks of marriages in Enlish law – a marriage is a marriage is a marriage.

    If a King marries a chamber maid the chamber maid is Queen and her first son will be King.

    It is the same for aristocratic familes (as well as for the Royal family) many aristocratic familes would have fallen into genetic problems had their not been “odd alliances” from time to time.

  • Goose, gander, sauce! If the citizenry is to be gene-sequenced, let’s make sure the aristocracy, oligarchy, monarchy, and police are in the databank too!

  • Nicholas

    …alongside the abolition of the papist prohibition.

    That was one of the greatest achievements of the Whigs. I’ve always wondered how the Whigs—the most anti-Roman Catholic party in Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth century—came to favour Catholic Emancipation in the early nineteenth century. It seems like a betrayal of their principles.

  • Midwesterner

    Well, just in case you need an alternate, Alfred is my ~32 to 37 greats grandfather with most lines of descent clustered around 34 or 35 ‘greats’ and a few flyers. Of course there could not possibly have been any bed hoppers in those lines. And they switch from male to female descendants like a squirrel navigating a busy road. But I’m just offering. You know, to be helpful. :-)

    On the papist prohibition, caution is in order because as I read it, the Bill of Rights also in much less repetitive terms specifies a protestant monarch which could prove a useful clause if Charles does/has converted to Islam. Or any other of the countless religions he admires. But a more careful reading of the actual oath in An Act for the more effectual preserving the king’s person ….etc… might be a good idea. How about changing it to an oath to practice rational agnosticism in all public or state capacities whatever the monarch’s personal beliefs are?

  • While we’re on the subject, how about allowing the eldest child to inherit the throne; rather than giving a younger son priority over his elder sister?

  • marc in calgary

    I find the english royalty unattractive to such a degree, that starting over is likely the only real and lasting cure.

    they’re an ugly type of almost no compare.

    Keep the bloodlines pure? you can’t be serious.
    couldn’t someone slip a bit of italian or spanish into them, to improve the breed so to speak?

  • allan duff

    Maybe as a pilot scheme the minor royals could be tested for 100% purity in respect of their alleged parents.Those that failed could have theri allownaces cut off!

  • By suggesting that the legitimate descent of the monarch needs to be tested you have implied that there is doubt. Given that Blackstone wrote of the Treason Act that “the plain intention of this law is to guard the Blood Royal from any suspicion of bastardy, whereby the succession to the Crown might be rendered dubious”, I am afraid, Philip, that you have committed High Treason. I trust that a defender of traditional constitutional arrangements such as yourself will not seek to avoid the traditional penalty.

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    Would a US citizen becoming King (and you have at least as good a claim as the Saxe-Coburg Gothas) present a constitutional issue for the UK? For the USA? I have no idea. That thought about Charles has occurred to me as well – I hope he reverts soon and turns Highgrove into a Sufi retreat. I just can’t face the idea of our troops swearing allegiance to that double-breasted suit full of bugger-all. Anyway, bring on King Midwesterner. Why not? Having said that, William, Harry, Peter and Zara seem reasonable sorts (particularly the later two). It’s just Charles (and to a lesser extent, Eddie) who truly wind me up.

    Paul,
    The funny thing is that the Spencers are a much older family than those kraut Johnny-come-latelies the “Windsors”. The Royals had very little choice but to marry Charlie off to a commoner – suitable protestant princesses being thin on the ground. Personally, I find the whole idea weird. I got married for reasons which had nothing to do with my wife’s “suitability”.

  • Midwesterner

    I’m out of my territory here, but my understanding is that most of the English/British constitution is between the crown and the people. The parliament represents the people, but is not itself ‘the people’. A monarch, perceiving a situation where the parliament has been hijacked by powers unfriendly to the people, could refuse assent, and exercise powers on behalf of the people to the detriment of the political class.

    Your monarchs (and therefore, royal lines) tend to be more popularly selected than you realize. It’s just that the ‘elections’ occur in a time line marked in centuries, not 4 years. My joke about changing the oath to reflect an agnostic tolerance without endorsement was not entirely a joke, so I went looking through my bookmarks.

    I found this fascinating brief history of the concept of monarchy in Britain. It is very heavily invested with romance and theology, but so is the monarchy itself. It is an institution that can not be understood without looking at its religious foundations. Even if you skip the rest, it is worth reading the rather brief part three. It begins:

    The brief answer is that the King’s promise to protect the people’s laws and customs is not made to Parliament but to the people. The Constitutional Covenant of the King or Queen is made with his people, and can never be overturned by Parliament or any other authority.

    The possibility of the Crown overturning the cancerous self serving police state that is forming in Britain is constitutionally sound. And may be the best chance for change. But I doubt this could happen unless the popular antagonism to the usurping political class grew substantially.

    Certainly changes to the make up of the House of Lords put in place by the House of Commons are of dubious foundation at best. It amounts to a disenfranchisement of a historically and constitutionally recognized sub part of ‘the people’. There is in the UK a faction that has claimed for the acts of the House of Commons, the privileges already granted elsewhere in the constitutional history. In effect, it has claimed that the acts of the HC are the constitution.

    Furthermore, there is a strong case to be made that the political parties have usurped the people’s right to representation in the HC by virtue of their manipulations to the election process and also by the parties issuing of instructions and rules regarding not just voting, but speech itself, to the people’s chosen representatives. These controls are in contravention or the elected representatives constitutional role as the voice of the people, not the puppets of the parties.

  • Paul Marks

    Nick M.

    Actually the present Queen (God protect her) can trace her line back to Alfred the Great and before.

    Of course the family name is recent (1914 I seem to recall) but many Royals do not bother with a family name at all.

    For example, it was discovered that Prince Philip did not actually have a family name and “Prince Philip of Greece” was a bit difficult to use for a serving officer in the Royal Navy during World War II.

    So his kinsman L. Mountbatton suggested that the young man use his name – which he did.

    Indeed some have suggested that this is the name that Elizabeth should have adopted when they married 60 years ago.

    The Spencers do indeed look more English than the Queen does – very tall and blond.

    However, the Queen is usually attacked for being too German (because her great, great, great….. well George II anyway, was born in Hanover) not for not being German enough.

  • Paul Marks

    I suppose the objection might be that Queen Victoria married Albert – but that must be the most absurd objection to the monarchy that there is (especially as Prince Albert was fine man).

    As for Prince Charles – at least he manages the Dutchy of Cornwall estates well.

    Although he should not pay tax on these estates (which, for some odd reason, he has decided to do) – no other Prince of Wales has ever paid tax.

    Prince Charles could simply say “keep your official duties subsidies, and forget about the tax that I have no legal duty to pay” – he would find he made a profit on this.

    Just as the Queen could say “forget about the Civil List, I will just keep the profits from the Royal Estates” – even if these were taxed, the Queen would be much better off than she now is.

    Nicholas – the Roman Catholics no longer presented a poltical threat so most Whigs were no longer interested in them.

    Even Elizebath (a century before the word “Whig” meant anything more than Scottish raider) did not object to Roman Catholics on THEOLOGICAL grounds (“I wish to make no windows into men’s souls”) the objection was a political one – they had an irritating habit of working with enemies domestic and overseas to kill her.

    Anyway most of the restrictions on Roman Catholics in Ireland were removed by a very conservative Whig in the late 18th century – Edmund Burke (whose mother and wife were both Catholics).

    The French Revolution showed that anti Catholics could be a threat to England (although Burke started work removing restrictions before the French Revolution). Although there were demented events like the revolt of 1798, where Irish rebels managed (at least in the South) to be Roman Catholic and pro French Revolution at the same time – well really they were pro the military help they wanted from the French Revolutionaries.

    The last restrictions were taken off by the Tory Sir Robert Peel in 1829.

    Lord John Russel (the Whig leader) was all very in favour of getting rid of restrictions on Catholics in public – but he was hostile to Roman Catholics in private (far more so than Peel was).

    The Whigs aristocracy (it is often forgotten that the Whigs were far more aristocratic than the Tory folk were) were really in favour of getting rid of restrictions on Dissentors (seeing the Church of England as “the Tory party at prayer”) – being in favour of “Catholic emancipation” was just another way of hitting at the established Church.

  • Yes, but keeping the blood lines pure is the old school way. Now we have genetics, which opens up new possibilities.

    Having the right gene sequence will likely become far more important than nationality, race, or religion should the concept of royalty survive. Screen for compatibility, seeking the best genetic match. Interesting to see what would happen.

    I suspect you would be sending them on down this road, should anyone decide it’s legal to test them for paternity.

  • Nicholas

    Paul Marks – Thank you for that informative answer. I’m finding it very hard to find books on Whiggism as a set of ideas, so forgive my ignorance.

  • Sunfish

    The possibility of the Crown overturning the cancerous self serving police state that is forming in Britain is constitutionally sound. And may be the best chance for change. But I doubt this could happen unless the popular antagonism to the usurping political class grew substantially.

    Mid, I think you explained something that you hadn’t intended to explain just yet.

    Prince Harry, excuse me, “Cornet Harry Wales” was set to deploy to Iraq earlier this year. He was to be(whatever the English call) a platoon commander of either a mechanised infantry or armor platoon. There were concerns raised about his being a high-value target for the opposition, but he threatened to resign his commission if he was prevented from leading his troops in combat.

    Eventually, his deployment was scratched, supposedly due to the aforementioned security issues.

    I suppose that was more true than not. I can also only imagine that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did not want another Richard the Lionhearted. If the Sovereign really does have the power to put Parliament under the bus, then a popular, dashing prince freshly back from war would be a pretty good face to put out front. Even if he is the younger prince. (He is, isn’t he?)

    Nick M asked about:

    And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

    From Article 1, Section 9. I think I’d be the only one here unable to accept a title. Although…if King Mid were looking for a sheriff…

  • Nick M

    Sunfish,
    Commander of a cavalry platoon (do they still use squadron?) which is basically four light recce AFVs. Harry went up in my estimation when he threatened to quit. He was absolutely right. It was a farce and it of course didn’t just effect him – it effected the whole unit. I know officers in the army and the relationships between them and their NCOs is what keeps the whole thing working. If Harry’s unit was deployed they would have had to get a new platoon commander who didn’t know the blokes and it’s just a generalized nightmare. I seem to recall we weren’t so squeamish when Prince Andrew flew missile decoy duty in the Falklands. In WWII Prince George, the King’s brother was killed when his Shorts Sunderland crashed. He was in intel or something.

    I do appreciate the “special” target argument but I wonder what the lads in Harry’s platoon thought? In any case this cuts both ways… If AQ or the Taliban didn’t bag Harry despite all their lurid propagandizing to that point then they’d look a prize bunch of maroons now wouldn’t they? In any case Harry was born to the job – it’s what his dad did in Gulf War 1 :-)

    Sheriff Sunfish-Lestrade of Scotland Yard! I think you would require a gifted amateur consulting detective mind. OK, Mid can be King, you can run the cops and I shall smoke in Baker Street and figure stuff out. When it gets beyond a three pipe problem I’ll drag Paul out of the Diogenes club, Kettering branch. George Monbiot can clean the toilets. In a sustainable manner.

  • But Nick, do you play the violin?

  • Midwesterner

    2nd. Yes.

    There is something that Guy and Paul would have a more informed answer to. I’ve read some of the constitutional documents of England and I recall a choice of phrase that is meaningful.

    I don’t recall direct references to “parliament” in undefined ways. The only reference I recall without going looking is “the people in parliament assembled”. I think that the people are free to, independently of the objections and claims of the existing parliament, form a new parliament that would then be the constitutionally recognized one. I really don’t think parliament has any power beyond “the people”. I also don’t think there is any constitutional method to change the House of Lords the way they have and are. Not the HC and not the Crown have that power. I don’t even think the Lords themselves have the power to disband or fundamentally alter the House itself. The 1958 peerages act is a blatant fraud. Look at how many were granted prior to the 1876 act. Look how many have been granted since 1958.

    I am also quite sure that the parties meddling in the election process, and giving instructions to members of parliament, and in any way muzzling the people’s representative’s speech or regulating what matters they may vote on, (remember this is done with the power of election tampering to enforce it) violates the constitutional right of “the people” to form a parliament and govern.

    But I defer to people who actually know what they’re talking about.

  • Paul Marks

    Sunfish.

    The stripping of Royal titles and symbols from various “public bodies”in Britain is worrying.

    The objective seems to be to make everyone who works in the “public sector” loyal to the government (in the broad sense) and modern “Progressivess” alone – with no other loyalities.

    Loyality to “the people” is too vague – who is “the people”? Where does he live? What is his opinion on X, Y, Z.

    But loyality to the Crown is another matter – it might just remind someone of old traditions (the things behind the all the old titles, rituals, symbols and so on). And there is this INDIVIDUAL PERSON (the King or Queen) who just might ask a question at some point.

    Even mad old George III demanded that Harrison be given the prize (for solving the longitude problem – via making a very reliable and tough time piece) which the power-that-be (the government and the men of science) had denied him.

    “You are being unjust, stop it” means very little when Paul Marks says it – it carries weight when a King or Queen (there by accident of birth – rather than by the abiltiy to plot and scheme like a poltician or adminstrator) says it.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you Nicholas.

    And I did not even cite a text – which got me into trouble (most likely, quite rightly in trouble) when I made a hostle comment about Edwin Chadwick on another thread.

    Actually a point you make does bother me.

    Good books on the IDEAS of the Whigs. Sitting here all the books I used to know escape me (yet more evidence that I a have been this world too long – time to go).

    Still anything with both the words “Liberty” and “Property” in the title should put you on the right track.

    For that is what the Whigs were about. Although, of course, Tory folk could use those words also.

    The best book on political thought in this country generally (over the last several centuries) is Greenleaf’s “The British Political Tradition” (two volumes).

    Perhaps I am not a good person to ask about Whigs.

    I am a follower of Edmund Burke – which makes me a Whig (of a sort).

    But there is a lot of Tory in me, a lot of Church and King stuff (indeed there is a Royal Banner of the style of the Civil War only a few feet from me as I type this – although, yes I know, “Whig” was not used in politics till the 1680′s not the 1640′s).

    Like most Tory folk I am in favour of the King – as long as he does not do anything. And I am in favour of the Established Church as long as the local Rector (or whatever) is more interested in hunting and fishing (or geology or whatever) than in talking about religion and stuff.

    As every Whig (including the other part of my own mind) would point out………

    Hopeing that the King will not tax and order people about is not good enough – there must be constitutional safeguards.

    Ditto hopeing that the Established Church will not get nasty is not good enough – there must be……..

    But that means politics and politics can get out of hand – as every Tory “October Ale” (early 18th century) or cider (late 18th century) drinker would point out.

    So we come back to the “balanced constitution” idea of King, Lords and Commons all balancing each other with none allowed to get too big for their boots.

    And, hopefully, confined to their little London world – without an administrative structure to impose their crack brained ideas out of town (or even in London itself a lot of the time).

  • Nick M

    Alisa,
    I do play the violin in exactly the same way Mr Holmes did on occasions. If you are au fait with the canon then you’ll know what I mean. My wife does play the clarinet reasonably well mind.

  • Yes, I used to be very much au fait, and I now also seem to recall an occasional use of substances long since deemed illegal…or am I confusing it with a different canon? And in case I am not, have you got what it takes, so to speak?

  • Nick M

    Well, I haven’t got a violin though the house has a piano which I can’t play either. Of course Mr Holmes dabbled with his 6% solution. The Victorians were much more liberal than we – their greatest hero was a recreational user of cocaine.

  • Who was that? And, I forgot to add the obligatory “oh, the horror”.

  • Midwesterner

    I thought it was 7%.

  • Sunfish

    Commander of a cavalry platoon (do they still use squadron?) which is basically four light recce AFVs.

    We do use “Squadron” here, but it means something different. That’s what a battalion is called in the cavalry.

    In any case Harry was born to the job – it’s what his dad did in Gulf War 1 :-)

    ISTR there’s tradition involved, in that everybody in the line of succession held a military commission at some point. Or am I confused?

    Sheriff Sunfish-Lestrade of Scotland Yard! I think you would require a gifted amateur consulting detective mind. OK, Mid can be King, you can run the cops and I shall smoke in Baker Street and figure stuff out. When it gets beyond a three pipe problem I’ll drag Paul out of the Diogenes club, Kettering branch.

    Am I supposed to wear a monocle and answer to “inspector?”

    George Monbiot can clean the toilets. In a sustainable manner.

    I guess it’s a good thing you know what to do with him. I was going to put him on coffee duty, but I just know he’d screw it up. Putting cream in my coffee…some things are simply not on at all.

    Alisa:

    Who was that? And, I forgot to add the obligatory “oh, the horror”.

    Holmes himself was often chemically enhanced, although I thought that his usual drug of choice was opium.

  • That’s what I seem to remember, but WP says “cocaine and morphine“. As to “who was he?”: did Nick mean Holmes? I did not know he was Victorians’ greatest hero.

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    I’m not sure… That book is clearly non-cannonical (I saw the film and it’s bonkers) but I seem to recall Holmes himself making reference to a 6% solution. I could be wrong though.

    Sunfish,
    Holmes had a very dim view of opiates and IV cocaine was his poison of choice. Having said that the effect it seems to have on Holmes seems to me much more like a depressant than a stimulant and this seems an odd mistake (if it is a mistake) for a medical man like Conan-Doyle to make. If anyone has any ideas I’d be most curious.

    The Abbey National bank which has it’s HQ on Baker Street employs someone to answer letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. He being unable to because he’s fictional.

  • What do you mean “he’s fictional”???!!! Damn, and all these years I thought it’s the bloody Royal Mail…

  • Midwesterner

    Nick,

    I was just tossing that out for kicks. It’s definitely non-canonical. But a clever title.

    As for the effect of cocaine, I have no clue but thought of something interesting when you said that. One of the weird things about genuine ADHD is that stimulants have what is externally an opposite effect. Perhaps Holmes was ADHD to the extreme and cocaine was his ritalin?

    Alisa, fictional is part of his cover. He’s in deep cover. About six feet.

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    That’s interesting but… I dunno much about ADHD and Holmes certainly was a curious character so that’s a cute theory. I always tended to think that Holmes had something more like Asperger’s syndrome.

    OK, I’ll toss something out for kicks. I forget which story (I think it might be “Study in Scarlet” – I’m pretty sure it’s one of the earlier long ones) Holmes makes the claim to Watson that the deductive method is sufficienct for a logician who has merely seen a drop of water to imagine an Atlantic or a Niagra. Discuss.

    As a former fluid dynamacist I think Holmes was talking bunk.

  • Nick M

    Alisa,
    You’ve written to the Great Detective? I bet Tony Blair did too asking Holmes to make enquiries in the Mesopotamia area regarding the location of weapons of mass destruction. I know the area around Baker Street rather well because the missus lived at the adjacent University of Westminster campus. Oddly enough in a flat with a bizarre Iraqi and a load of rowdy Greeks. Bumped into Hussein shopping in South Manchester last year – weird – small world eh? Anyway, there’s a complete Holmesian circus there all the time. Absolutely no effort is made to disabuse giggling Japanese tourist girls that Mr Holmes was (is?) very real. It’s a complete tourist trap and just near Madame Tussards.

    It’s not quite as odd as Stepney where I once lived. Just done the road is Whitechapel and they do Jack the Ripper walking tours led by blokes in top-hats and opera capes. The council had to put the kybosh on some of there more grisly re-enactments… It was disturbing the locals. Although, I dunno… It kinda fits the locale. The local Teaching Hospital has the Elephant Man in the basement and my local was the Blind Beggar where the Krey twins offed Jack “The Hat” McVitie – the crime for which they were sent down. When Holmes warned Watson never to go East of Whitechapel after dark without a revolver he was giving advice that was just as valid in the 1990s as the 1890s.

  • Midwesterner

    Well, technically all he would need is for there to be some life in the drop. Niagara = fresh water, Atlantic = salt water, a good enough idea of what the bottom of the food chain looks like (plankton, algae, hatchlings, etc) one might not being able to envisage a specific top of the food chain creature, but one could assume its existence.

    Forget fluid dynamics beyond basic viscosity and saline etc, think biology. The life you find would define the habitat quite well.

    BTW, its “Niagara”. You must have “Viagra” on your mind. Tee hee hee.

  • Midwesterner

    Absolutely no effort is made to disabuse giggling Japanese tourist girls that Mr Holmes was (is?) very real.

    Perhaps I need to buy another calabash and some hair coloring. Presumably they’re expecting Basil Rathbone. A prosthetic nose might help too. Hhmmm … Maybe I could just say “I’m in disguise”. But I don’t want to find myself in deep cover.

  • Nick M

    Well the statue outside Baker St Tube Station does look rather Rathbone. For me though Jeremy Brett was the money Holmes.

    I shall completely ignore your presumed slur upon my virility.

  • Midwesterner

    Now you’ve confused me in an epistemological obfuscation. Is a statement that you are completely ignoring something oxymoronic?

  • Midwesterner

    Asperger’s is generally thought to include clumsiness and an inability to read non-language communication. I don’t know if it includes manic depression and a very high boredom threshold, both of which appear to be Holmesian traits. He also in many stories demonstrated extreme physical capability and was a master of disguise. I don’t think someone with Asperger’s would be a master of disguise.

    I really tend more toward the ADHD theory. I am sure he would know the answer, let’s have Alisa ask him and find out.

  • I bet Tony Blair did too asking Holmes to make enquiries in the Mesopotamia area regarding the location of weapons of mass destruction.

    Didn’t he ask Uri Geller? At least he is not under deep cover.

    Mid, isn’t it paradoxical rather than oxymoronic?

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    I confused you? I don’t see how it would be oxymoronic. Or Alisa, paradoxical. It would be annoying to suffer from ED (as Pele calls it in those deeply coy Pfizer ads) but definitely a vastly more visceral annoyance than a mere epistemological obfuscation. Or in short I’d rather obfuscate epistimology than by “Mr Floppy”.

    Alisa,
    If he asked Uri Geller then that would merely prove the whole thing was indeed a Zionist conspiracy. Presumably by bending Arab spoons beyond the point of usability leading to mass starvation. Or something.

    Uri Geller once fixed my watch you know. He was on the telly and he said to bring any bust watches and hold them really close to the screen. His psychic power re-jiggled the cogs and it worked! It clearly had nothing to do with the extremely strong electromagnetic fields working on the ferrous components of my watch. He’s good in a shysterish way sometimes… Though I do recall when he blessed the goal line at Reading FC claiming it would help them win games. They got relegated that season. Which reminds me… Your lads have got to stick it to the Russkies in the Euro qualifiers soon or England don’t get to the finals. So, go Israel!

  • Midwesterner

    Paradoxical is probably a little closer to precise, but then I couldn’t have typed “moronic”. I was wondering if somebody might answer my setup by saying “not ‘oxy-’, some other kind, maybe.”

    (Forget “sophomoric” humor. This is more like “sophomoronic” humor. Sometimes I’m easily amused.)

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    Not sure about the Aspergers either but… It is related to highly logical thought process and a lack of social skills. Holmes can be rather charming but you rather get the impression that he taught himself that rather than being genuinely naturally personable. Certainly the Adventure of the Gloria Scott gives the impression that he didn’t make friends easily and why else would a man of such genius hang-out with a complete duffer like Watson? I always find it interesting that Watson is generally portrayed as older than Holmes but their back-stories don’t exactly support this.

    As far as the disguise is concerned… Well another great Englishman who is frequently diagnosed post-mortem with Asperger’s is Isaac Newton and in his job as boss of the Royal Mint he tracked down (and had executed) a number of clippers and forgers by going under-cover in inns and bars in the rough end of London.

    Both Holmes and Newton shared the capacity for profound concentration, complete single-mindedness and a complete inability with women though Newton might well have been gay. Holmes may have been gay as well but I suspect it’s more likely he had a discreet relationship with Mrs Hudson. Note that she’s always portrayed as a matron but there is nothing in the cannon to suggest this and a Mr Hudson is never mentioned. Would Watson have noticed… Hardly likely and even if he did he was unlikely to make public the lurid details of his best friend’s private life. Watson may have been a bit dim but he was a gentleman.

    I don’t know about the physical clumsiness but if that is an Asperger’s symptom then that does rule Holmes out.

  • Mrs Hudson? Don’t think so. Can you really picture Holmes with her? Or anyone else, for that matter, except maybe himself? I’ll go wash my brain now…

  • Midwesterner

    I have always assumed that if Holmes was in love, it was with Irene Adler (A Scandal in Bohemia).

  • Nick M

    Well, Holmes was clearly in love with Adler but she was unobtainable. So…

  • In love?

    To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer–excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

    Dr. Watson.

    I doubt it was love. I think it was an admiration of a remarkable person, who, most unusually for Holmes, happened to be a woman. Of course that admiration could also include her beauty, as we have no reason to believe that Holmes was incapable of aesthetic judgment (which is not the same as love, let alone lust, obviously).

  • Midwesterner

    Not at all. That description sounds just like a mentally precocious 12 year old boy. And he alway refers to her as “the woman”. He was clearly head over heals and totally smitten. And in complete denial.

    And Watson was as gullible as ever.

  • Nick M

    Alisa,
    In certain respects the Holmesian canon is remarkably post-modern and a big part of this is that Watson is a deliberately poor narrator in many respects. It seems fairly clear to me that Holmes would certainly never trust Watson with his intimate thoughts and feelings. This is displayed when Holmes takes his excursion to the Reichenbach Falls and let’s his (apparently) best friend think him dead for three years!

  • Nick M

    He (almost) ended up over the Reichenbach falls and never came close to landing in the longest river in Africa ;-)

    Now that’s a mystery I always wondered about wrt to Holmes. I came to the Holmes stories knowing that A C-D had “killed” Holmes off and then thought better of it… Yet Holmes is routinely described as very physically capable and an expert “fencer, single-stick fighter and boxer” yet… we are expected to believe he couldn’t absolutely chin the much older and much more “indoorsy” Moriarty in a grapple! Watson might have bought it but Colonel Moran?

    To be honest, If I knew more about the times and places I could be well tempted to try and write Sherlock Holmes adventures between “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House”. Though nowhere near as much as my temptation to write the “Adventure of the Giant Rat of Sumatra for which the World is not ready”.

  • Trust me guys, Holmes is absolutely asexual (which would also explain why he never answered my letters).

  • Edward Longshanks

    May I suggest that any Royal should be able to demonstrate descendancy from myself. And adopt a similar policy towards the Scots and the Welsh.

  • Nick M

    Asexual… I’m not so sure. Maybe. But I also suspect that he was actually perhaps quite the reverse – an absolute romantic who couldn’t truly love anyone but Miss Adler. That doesn’t mean he might not have taken comfort in the tender ministrations of Mrs Hudson.

  • Nick M

    Edward,
    And if not can you defenestrate queers?

  • Nick, sex and romance are NOT the same thing (why do I feel like I have said it before?…)

  • Paul Marks

    Of course in the film called (I think) the “Private life of…” Mr Holmes is strongly implied to be in love with the lady who turns out to be a German agent.

    At the end of the film he hears that the lady has been executed whilst on an operation in (I think) France. Mr Holmes goes for his drugs and, for once, Dr Watson does not object.

    Quite an interesting film, it gives the impression of being light hearted and then leads one down a sad road.

  • I tend to think that cinema cannot do much justice to the Holmes books. The complete opposite of Dickens, for example, who’s books are just crying to be turned into a script. I have to admit that I have never seen any of the Holmes films, though.

  • Nick M

    Alisa,
    have you ever seen these versions. I really like them.

  • No, I have not, although I had a glimpse or two, and Jeremy Brett was as well suited to play Holmes as anyone. the reason is that I am actually prejudiced against filing Holmes:-)

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