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This parody appeared in the Willmar Tribune, and a number of other American newspapers, in 1906. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.

The Dilly Dialogues




Dramatic Critic of the New York Telegraph.


Dilly and His Uncle Discuss the Sherlock Holmes Method of Detection.

"Pray tell me, dear Uncle," said little Dilly, anxiously, "what is the meaning of the word 'deduction' as applied to the practice of detection?"

"Ah, my dear nephew," observed Uncle George, carefully filling his pipe with a choice brand of tobacco, in which hasheesh was generously predominant, "you have chanced upon a most perplexing query, and one that it will afford me keen delight in explaining to you. Primarily deduction is one of the simplest processes, but in literature it takes on a quantity and even quality that lends to it an abstruse and fascinating quality, totally at variance with its true worth.

"If you will consult your small etymological compendium compiled by Mr. Webster, you will observe that the word is but a synonym for inference. In other words, when a detective has a spell of deduction, he merely infers that something is, has or should have happened. It does not at all follow that anything even remotely resembling his theory has ever been thought of, so you will observe the extreme value of the science of deduction.

"Possibly the greatest victim of the disease was our fascinating entertainer, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. His was a master mind capable of determining guilt upon the merest fragment of evidence! One may imagine him proceeding as follows:

"'Kindly hand me the files of Dope's Almanac, Watson. Ah, yes. I thought so. A most interesting case. Cholly Flabbergast has just shot his mother-in-law with intent to kill and a breech-loading rifle manufactured in 1879 at Berne, Switzerland. The motive was peace - on her part. The funeral will take place Thursday and the family will request no flowers. Send for Balustrade and tell him to look for a small man wearing eye glasses, with a wart on the back of his neck and a stammer in one eye. He has also a pronounced stutter in his walk. Pass the cocaine.'

"That is the Holmes method, my dear nephew. In polite fiction it is all the money, but in practice it works out but poorly. In fact, I may say that it fails generally owing to something inherently wrong in the structure. If we followed the Holmes method, as exemplified in literary procedure we might expect to find a brutal looking man rushing into the nearest station house, throwing down a hatful of table silver, bursting into tears and sobbing out on the desk rail:

" 'Lock me up, sergeant. I done it, and they ain't no use tryin' to hide it. Sherlock Holmes just seen a plumber go by in a hansom with a yaller dog snappin' at th' horses' heels, and he's got me right.'

"Then the tender-hearted sergeant would ring the bell for the doorman, send the weeping culprit to his cell and that would be all, saving the formal proceedings in court the next morning. That is the true science of deduction, Dilly, and it Is an ideal mat
ter for the police. Unfortunately, however, it is only in modern literature that we find such able deducers as Mr. Holmes.

"The police method in daily use in our large cities, is just as efficacious and works with less mental strain. It involves but the simplest tools and mental processes. We will imagine, for instance, that the home of Oliver Wadscuttle, the bloated monopolist, has been entered by burglars who made off with 15 feet of lead pipe and a marble clock.

"The news is reported to the police, and the gum-shoe men are instructed to call and see Oliver, discover just how much small change he is willing to offer for the return of his valuables, and if the sum is worth while, to bring in the guilty man.

"Presumably, Mr. Wadscuttle, realizing his helpless position, agrees to be shaken down. The bold sleuths do not bother greatly with the Holmes method, my dear Dilly. They just snoop about a bit, examine the scene of the heinous crime, and then go down the street, enter a house and drag Bill the Bite from his warm bed.

"You will observe there is little deduction here. They have simply come to the conclusion that Bill did the job, and that if he didn't, it wasn't because he wouldn't if he got a chance, and so they arrest him.

"Arrived at the station house Bill is gently hurried into the squad room, and there a handy bludgeon is taken from the wall and Bill is presented with several severe wallops on the head. If he confesses, the deduction theory is abandoned and Bill is taken to court for sentence; if he doesn't, he is treated to more of the same until he does or is unconscious. Then the only difference is that Bill is sent to a hospital on a stretcher and the able sleuths go out and drag in 'Prof.' Bat Muldoon, and Bat goes through the mill.

"One may really perceive the efficacy of this method of deduction, Dilly. It is only a question of time until one of two things occurs. Either the detectives land the base criminal or Mr. Wadscuttle forgets about the robbery and buys some new pipe and another clock.

"The police method, my dear boy, is based upon the theory that all men are crooked, and that if they look innocent, they are all the more likely to be guilty, for who but a guilty man would think of trying to pass himself off as an innocent man?

"Besides it is well-known that there are many crimes that have never been discovered. Consequently every man probably has done something that he is ashamed of, and by the ordinary method of constabulary deduction, if they miss him on one thing, they are likely to get him on something old, and thereby gain a reputation for astuteness.

"That is why Doogan, the ward man, is a better sleuth than Sherlock Holmes, for Doogan goes on the principle that if he only keeps on arresting innocent men and women long enough, he will eventually stumble on a crime that has long been hidden.

"That is why, Dilly, you may notice that your young friend, the Epstein lad next door, is continually being dragged away somewhere by Doogan. Doogan is sure that if the
Vandergould family plate has been stolen, the Epstein lad would have done it if he had been older, and so he arrests him on general principles.

"Contrast the Holmes method with this course if you will. Mr. Holmes would have undoubtedly have taken a few short jabs of the daffy mixture and would then have wrapped up some cigar ashes in an envelope, put a magnifying glass on the Burnham's dog, Fido, and would have arrested Michael Anderson within four hours. Of course we have no surety that Holmes would have been right, but still the great pur pose of detection would have been achieved. Some one would have been arrested.

"I am not sure that I do not like the police method best, but ill-advised persons, particularly the servile and abandoned press, disagree with me. They would see the right man arrested once in awhile, and several innocent persons, who might have been guilty, left undisturbed."

"But are not detectives of some value to the community, dear uncle?" queried little Dilly.

"Indeed, yes," said Uncle George, pleasantly, "they are of as much use as a board of naval strategy during a war in Manchuria."

Willmar Tribune, 28 February; St Tammany Farmer, 24 March; Colfax Chronicle, 7 April

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