[Literary passage] Sherlock Holmes and the rose

In a surprising digression from a crime analysis, Sherlock Holmes gives us a short but deep soliloquy on Beauty as proof of the Divine. From The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Red moss roses

“What a lovely thing a rose is!”

He walked past the couch to the open window, and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.

“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner.”

“Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance.

But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

Image: “Moss roses” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir


If you enjoyed Holmes’s meditation on Beauty, you will also be uplifted by this passage of Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery.

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