“was sorry for her, Watson” [ILLU]
We don't usually think of Sherlock Holmes and apologies in the same breath. This perfect reasoning machine with a logical constitution seems impervious to behavior that required an apology.
And yet, there were a number of times when we find Sherlock Holmes apologizing for his behavior in the canon. Some range from simple social politeness, while others were more serious.
Watson conveys his new roommate's sensitivity to intruding upon the good doctor's space in A Study in Scarlet, with “He always apologized to me for putting me to this inconvenience.”
During the lead-up to the events of "The Final Problem," Holmes makes his way to Watson's home, saying,
“I must apologize for calling so late, and I must further beg you to be so unconventional as to allow me to leave your house presently by scrambling over your back garden wall.”
In "Black Peter," we find Holmes attempting to make Inspector Hopkins feel more comfortable:
“I must really apologize, Hopkins,” said Sherlock Holmes; “I fear that the scrambled eggs are cold. However, you will enjoy the rest of your breakfast all the better, will you not, for the thought that you have brought your case to a triumphant conclusion.”
Holmes is similarly concerned with his social graces in "The Creeping Man":
“We must apologize for having intruded upon you, Professor Coram, and I promise that we won’t disturb you until after lunch.”
But the most heartfelt we find Holmes was in "The Devil's Foot," after he and Watson held their experimental hallucinatory investigation, when we find Holmes clearly affected:
“I owe you both my thanks and an apology. It was an unjustifiable experiment even for one’s self, and doubly so for a friend. I am really very sorry.”“You know,” I answered with some emotion, for I have never seen so much of Holmes’s heart before, “that it is my greatest joy and privilege to help you.”
It was just a glimpse, however, as Watson tells us that Holmes immediately returned to that "half-humorous, half-cynical vein which was his habitual attitude to those about him."
But at least we have that moment.
Meanwhile, at Baker Street Elementary the boys discover that being a schoolboy means always having to say you're sorry...
Baker Street Elementary follows the original adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as they and their friends work through the issues of elementary school in Victorian London. An archive of all previous episodes can be viewed at www.bakerstreetelementary.org.