It’s still New Year’s Eve while I write this, but in a few short hours…new day, new year, new decade, new YOU?
Well, perhaps not–you’re fine just as you are! But we all like to do a little tweaking now and again, and New Year’s has brought out the human desire to turn over a new leaf in life as well as in the calendar for quite a long while.
Did the inhabitants of 221 Baker Street make New Years’ resolutions, I wonder? No doubt early on in his career, Sherlock Holmes might have resolved to find ways to get more (and more interesting) cases. Perhaps he had books he planned to read. No doubt, Watson hoped he would resolve to be neater about the flat…but I don’t think he got his wish.
Watson, being a writer, definitely made resolutions regarding his productivity, markets he wanted to crack, perhaps the amount he wanted to earn. As a physician, he would need to set some financial goals in order to keep his practice afloat. Then there was his predilection for billiards and horse racing–he’d need to do a lot less of those if he hoped to be able to marry and support a family one day.
Mrs. Hudson? I can’t imagine she has much to improve on, really. But busy, hardworking women rarely take enough time for themselves–perhaps she might have resolved to indulge a little more in her own interests–take up painting? Read more books? Do a bit of gardening? Perhaps take a holiday–or several. It might even help her tenants learn not to take her for granted!
One resolution no one at Baker Street (or in a certain chair at the Diogenes Club) seems to have made was to become a vegetarian. It would not have been unusual, as the vegetarian movement gained quite a few followers in the late 19th century. People cut meat from their diets for health reasons, to cut costs, to avoid harming animals (preventing animal cruelty and anti-vivisectionism were popular causes during this time), and for religious reasons. I hope to do a more in-depth article on Victorian vegetarianism in the future, but if you would like to check out two contemporary sources on the topic, follow these links:
Anna Bonus Kingsford, The Perfect Way in Diet
(Ms. Kingsford was the second British woman to become a physician. She studied medicine in Paris, where she made a point of never using vivisection in her training).
Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet
This popular book–basically an anthology of famous peoples’ writings on vegetarian diets–is an easier read than Ms. Kingsford’s more scientific approach. I can imagine who would have read which in Baker Street.
Vegetarianism was enough of a “thing” in the 1880’s that Mrs. Beeton’s included a vegetarian menu–very useful when you having the new vicar to dinner and all of a sudden your usual Sunday roast wouldn’t suit. Instead, you could serve:
January’s menu is not all that thrilling….
It’s better in August…although I’m thinking that “cheese straws” should be a year-round thing….
“New Year’s resolution” isn’t found in the Canon; “vegetarian” appears once, with the mention of a vegetarian restaurant in “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.” Which leads us to today’s question:
How did a vegetarian restaurant play into the popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories? (Hint: Think of where the short stories were published)
The prize kind of works as a hint as well. This, unfortunately, does not have the lovely blue color, and it is showing a bit of its age, but inside it has some wonderful stories….
As always, to enter the drawing, send your answer in via blog comment or message the Well-Read Sherlockian FB page (or my personal page if we are FB friends).
There are now 20 minutes left in 2019. Here’s hoping that every one of you have a wonderful year in 2020!
Jim McArthur is the winner of the Sherlock Holmes comics–and also the first two-time winner of Giveaway 8! This was by far the most popular question of the entire event. This leads me to believe that I need to search for more comics for Giveaway 9. Also–I learned that all of you are cynics who believed that Lord St Simon would miss Hattie Doran’s money more than her love. So unromantic!