Holmes Sneered. “Pink Pills for Pale People?”

He pointed to a newer looking broadsheet posted to a wall.

Pall Mall Gazette, December 1893

“Watson, I believe you’ve described me as ‘pale’ in at least one of your melodramatic distortions of my cases. Would you recommend Dr. Williams’ concoctions?”

“Not if Dr. Williams paid me.You expose yourself to enough vile poison by means of that needle of yours without my cooperation.”

Pall Mall Gazette, December 1893

Question: What would a blood building or “never failing” tonic contain?

Answer: A tonic “toned” your organs, your nervous system, lungs, circulatory system, heart and your brain. Tonics often contained strychnine, morphine, lithium, or cocaine, described as natural “vegetable” ingredients. As the ads say, you could try it for anything. You might not recover, but no doubt you’d feel different.

If a pale Sherlock Holmes were anemic due to low iron, perhaps it was true that, as he claimed, only the thrill of “the game” brought him to life naturally. “My mind rebels at stagnation,” Holmes rants in Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia. “Give me problems! Give me work. My mind rebels at stagnation.” Jeremy Brett did a horrifically fine job with Conan Doyles’ words, here:


Real treatments? It wasn’t until 1932 that the relationship between iron deficiency and anemia was discovered. Owbridge’s Lung Tonic, purported to treat consumption (tuberculosis) failed miserably. By 1900 tuberculosis had killed one our of every seven people who had ever lived.* An effective, widely utilized TB vaccine was still more than 50 years away.

*TB in American: 1895-1954, PBS: American Experience

This stuff is fun, quirky, thought-provoking and sometimes hard to get our modern heads around. If you find it as interesting as I do, please follow my blog. Thank you. Susanne Dutton

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store … Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton, COMING SOON from Propertius Press.

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