Sherlock Holmes by Finley Peter Dunne

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) was a newspaper reporter who wrote a popular column starring Martin Dooley, the loquacious Irish saloon-keeper with a humorous opinion about everything. Despite being the object of many a Dooley barb, President Theodore Roosevelt respected him as an indicator of public opinion. Dunne’s columns were collected in eight volumes from 1898 to 1919, including this one from Observations by Mr. Dooley (1902).

finley peter dunne

Finley Peter Dunne, from “Vanity Fair” magazine.

Sherlock Holmes

Finley Peter Dunne

“Dorsey an’ Dugan are havin’ throuble,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“What about?” asked Mr. Dooley.

sherlock holmes political parody edwardian

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“Dorsey,” said Mr. Hennessy, “says Dugan stole his dog. They had a party at Dorsey’s an’ Dorsey heerd a noise in th’ back yard an’ wint out an’ see Dugan makin’ off with his bull tarryer.”

“Ye say he see him do it?”

“Yis, he see him do it.”

“Well,” said Mr. Dooley, “’twud baffle th’ injinooty iv a Sherlock Holmes.”

“Who’s Sherlock Holmes?”

“He’s th’ gr-reatest detictive that iver was in a story book. I’ve been r-readin’ about him an’ if I was a criminal, which I wud be if I had to wurruk f’r a livin’, an’ Sherlock Holmes got afther me, I’d go sthraight to th’ station an’ give mesilf up. I’d lay th’ goods on th’ desk an’ say: ‘Sargeant, put me down in th’ hard cage. Sherlock Holmes has jus’ see a man go by in a cab with a Newfoundland dog an’ he knows I took th’ spoons.’ Ye see, he ain’t th’ ordh’nry fly cop like Mulcahy that always runs in th’ Schmidt boy f’r ivry crime rayported fr’m stealin’ a ham to forgin’ a check in th’ full knowledge that some day he’ll get him f’r th’ right thing. No, sir; he’s an injanyous man that can put two an’ two together an’ make eight iv thim. He applies his brain to crime, d’ye mind, an’ divvle th’ crime, no matther how cunnin’ it is, will escape him. We’ll suppose, Hinnissy, that I’m Sherlock Holmes. I’m settin’ here in me little parlor wearin’ a dhressin’ gown an’ now an’ thin pokin’ mesilf full iv morpheen. Here we are. Ye come in. ‘Good-mornin’, Watson.’”

“I ain’t Watson,” said Mr. Hennessy. “I’m Hinnissy.”

“Ah,” said Mr. Dooley; “I thought I’d wring it fr’m ye. Perhaps ye’d like to know how I guessed ye had come in. ’Tis very simple. On’y a matther iv observation. I heerd ye’er step; I seen ye’er refliction in th’ lookin’ glass; ye spoke to me. I put these things together with me thrained faculty f’r observation an’ deduction, d’ye mind. Says I to mesilf: ‘This must be Hinnissy.’ But mind ye, th’ chain iv circumstances is not complete. It might be some wan disguised as ye. So says I to mesilf: ‘I will throw this newcome, whoiver he is, off his guard, be callin’ him be a sthrange name!’ Ye wudden’t feel complimented, Hinnissy, if ye knew who Watson is. Watson knows even less than ye do. He don’t know annything, an’ annything he knows is wrong. He has to look up his name in th’ parish raygisther befure he can speak to himsilf. He’s a gr-reat frind iv Sherlock Holmes an’ if Sherlock Holmes iver loses him, he’ll find him in th’ nearest asylum f’r th’ feeble-minded. But I surprised ye’er secret out iv ye. Thrown off ye’er guard be me innocent question, ye popped out ‘I’m Hinnissy,’ an’ in a flash I guessed who ye were. Be th’ same process iv raisonin’ be deduction, I can tell ye that ye were home las’ night in bed, that ye’re on ye’er way to wurruk, an’ that ye’er salary is two dollars a day. I know ye were at home las’ night because ye ar-re always at home between iliven an’ sivin, bar Pathrick’s night, an’ ye’er wife hasn’t been in lookin’ f’r ye. I know ye’re on ye’er way to wurruk because I heerd ye’er dinner pail jingle as ye stepped softly in. I know ye get two dollars a day because ye tol’ me ye get three an’ I deducted thirty-three an’ wan third per cint f’r poetic license. ’Tis very simple. Ar-re those shoes ye have on ye’er feet? Be hivins, I thought so.”

“Simple,” said Mr. Hennessy, scornfully; “’tis foolish.”

“Niver mind,” said Mr. Dooley. “Pass th’ dope, Watson. Now bein’ full iv th’ cillybrated Chow Sooey brand, I addhress me keen mind to th’ discussion iv th’ case iv Dorsey’s dog. Watson, look out iv th’ window an’ see if that’s a cab goin’ by ringin’ a gong. A throlley car? So much th’ betther. Me observation tol’ me it was not a balloon or a comet or a reindeer. Ye ar-re a gr-reat help to me, Watson. Pass th’ dope. Was there a dog on th’ car? No? That simplifies th’ thing. I had an idee th’ dog might have gone to wurruk. He was a bull-tarryer, ye say. D’ye know annything about his parents? Be Mulligan’s Sloppy Weather out iv O’Hannigan’s Diana iv th’ Slough? Iv coorse. Was ayether iv thim seen in th’ neighborhood th’ night iv th’ plant? No? Thin it is not, as manny might suppose, a case iv abduction. What were th’ habits iv Dorsey’s coyote? Was he a dog that dhrank? Did he go out iv nights? Was he payin’ anny particular attintions to anny iv th’ neighbors? Was he baffled in love? Ar-re his accounts sthraight? Had Dorsey said annything to him that wud ’ve made him despondent? Ye say no. He led a dog’s life but seemed to be happy. Thin ’tis plainly not a case iv suicide.

“I’m gettin’ up close to th’ criminals. Another shot iv th’ mad mixture. Wait till I can find a place in th’ ar-rm. There ye ar-re. Well, Watson, what d’ye make iv it?”

“If ye mane me, Dugan stole th’ dog.”

“Not so fast,” said Mr. Dooley. “Like all men iv small minds ye make ye’ers up readily. Th’ smaller th’ mind, th’ aisier ’tis made up. Ye’ers is like a blanket on th’ flure befure th’ fire. All ye have to do to make it up is to lave it. Mine is like a large double bed, an’ afther I’ve been tossin’ in it, ’tis no aisy job to make it up. I will puncture me tire with th’ fav’rite flower iv Chinnytown an’ go on.

“We know now that th’ dog did not elope, that he didn’t commit suicide an’ that he was not kidnaped be his rayturnin’ parents. So far so good. Now I’ll tell ye who stole th’ dog. Yisterdah afthernoon I see a suspicious-lookin’ man goin’ down th’ sthreet. I say he was suspicious lookin’ because he was not disguised an’ looked ivry wan in th’ face. He had no dog with him. A damning circumstance, Watson, because whin he’d stolen th’ dog he niver wud ’ve taken it down near Dorsey’s house. Ye wudden’t notice these facts because ye’er mind while feeble is unthrained. His coat collar was turned up an’ he was whistlin’ to himsilf, a habit iv dog fanciers. As he wint be Hogan’s house he did not look around or change his gait or otherwise do annything that wud indicate to an unthrained mind that there was annything wrong, facts in thimsilves that proved to me cultivated intilligence that he was guilty. I followed him in me mind’s eye to his home an’ there chained to th’ bed leg is Dorsey’s dog. Th’ name iv th’ criminal is P. X. O’Hannigan, an’ he lives at twinty-wan hundhred an’ ninety-nine South Halsted sthreet, top flat, rear, a plumber be pro-fission. Officer, arrest that man!”

“That’s all right,” said Mr. Hennessy; “but Dugan rayturned th’ dog las’ night.”

“Oh, thin,” said Mr. Dooley, calmly, “this is not a case f’r Sherlock Holmes but wan f’r th’ polis. That’s th’ throuble, Hinnissy, with th’ detictive iv th’ story. Nawthin’ happens in rale life that’s complicated enough f’r him. If th’ Prisidint iv th’ Epworth League was a safe-blower be night th’ man that’d catch him’d be a la-ad with gr-reat powers iv observa-tion an’ thrained habits iv raisonin’. But crime, Hinnissy, is a pursoot iv th’ simple minded–that is, catchable crime is a pursoot iv th’ simple-minded. Th’ other kind, th’ uncatchable kind that is took up be men iv intellict is called high fi-nance. I’ve known manny criminals in me time, an’ some iv thim was fine men an’ very happy in their home life, an’ a more simple, pasth’ral people ye niver knew. Wan iv th’ ablest bank robbers in th’ counthry used to live near me — he ownded a flat buildin’ — an’ befure he’d turn in to bed afther rayturnin’ fr’m his night’s wurruk, he’d go out in th’ shed an’ chop th’ wood. He always wint into th’ house through a thransom f’r fear iv wakin’ his wife who was a delicate woman an’ a shop-lifter. As I tell ye he was a man without guile, an’ he wint about his jooties as modestly as ye go about ye’ers. I don’t think in th’ long run he made much more thin ye do. Wanst in a while, he’d get hold iv a good bunch iv money, but manny other times afther dhrillin’ all night through a steel dure, all he’d find ‘d be a short crisp note fr’m th’ prisidint iv th’ bank. He was often discouraged, an’ he tol’ me wanst if he had an income iv forty dollars th’ month, he’d retire fr’m business an’ settle down on a farm.

“No, sir, criminals is th’ simplest crathers in th’ wide wide wurruld — innocent, sthraight-forward, dangerous peo-ple, that haven’t sinse enough to be honest or prosperous. Th’ extint iv their schamin’ is to break a lock on a dure or sweep a handful iv change fr’m a counter or dhrill a hole in a safe or administher th’ strong short arm to a tired man takin’ home his load. There are no mysteryous crimes excipt thim that happens to be. Th’ ordh’nry crook, Hinnissy, goes around ringin’ a bell an’ disthributin’ hand-bills announcin’ his business. He always breaks through a window instead iv goin’ through an open dure, an’ afther he’s done annything that he thinks is commindable, he goes to a neighborin’ liquor saloon, stands on th’ pool table an’ confides th’ secret to ivrybody within sound iv his voice. That’s why Mulligan is a betther detictive thin Sherlock Holmes or me. He can’t put two an’ two together an’ he has no powers iv deduction, but he’s a hard dhrinker an’ a fine sleuth. Sherlock Holmes niver wud’ve caught that frind iv mine. Whin th’ safe iv th’ Ninth Rational Bank was blowed, he wud’ve put two an’ two together an’ arristed me. But me frind wint away lavin’ a hat an’ a pair iv cuffs marked with his name in th’ safe, an’ th’ polis combined these discoveries with th’ well-known fact that Muggins was a notoryous safe blower an’ they took him in. They found him down th’ sthreet thryin’ to sell a bushel basket full iv Alley L stock. I told ye he was a simple man. He ralized his ambition f’r an agaracoolchral life. They give him th’ care iv th’ cows at Joliet.”

“Did he rayform?” asked Mr. Hennessy.

“No,” said Mr. Dooley; “he escaped. An’ th’ way he got out wud baffle th’ injinooty iv a Sherlock Holmes.”

“How did he do it?” asked Mr. Hennessy.

“He climbed over th’ wall,” said Mr. Dooley.

Footnotes

[Return]Epworth League: A youth group for Methodists ages 18-35. It is still in existence today. It is named for the village in England where Methodist founders John Wesley (1703-1791) and Charles Wesley (1707-1788) were born.

[Return]high fi-nance: With major New York financial institutions considered “too big to fail” and saved from their folly with taxpayer money, it appears that some things haven’t changed since a century ago.

[Return]Alley L stock: The first route on Chicago’s elevated rapid-transit system was laid through alleys, so it quickly acquired the name “Alley Elevated” by the time it opened in 1892. It was shortened through popular use to “Alley L.” Large portions of the system remain elevated, and the system is called simply the “L.”

[Return]Joliet: A reference to the prison in Joliet, Illinois, that was open from 1858 to 2002.