Inspection Report VIII
The Naval Treaty
| The Naval Treaty is one of several
cases where important government secrets
are involved. The Adventure of the Second Stain, The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans and His Last Bow also involve mysterious governmental intrigue.
The time line suggested by William S. Baring-Gould in the authoritative Annotated Sherlock Holmes derives from Percy Phelps's claim that the theft of the naval treaty occurred on May 23 and that he had been suffering from brain-fever for nine weeks since. Therefore Mr. Holmes enters the case on Tuesday, July 30, with a visit to Woking, returns the following day and learns of the attempted break-in, and, after an adventurous night, re-joins Dr. Watson and Mr. Phelps on Thursday, August 1, where he serves up the naval treaty for breakfast. The year 1889 is deduced from the year of Dr. Watson's marriage to Miss Morstan, which Mr. Baring-Gould places as May 1, 1889.
In publication The Naval Treaty appeared in The Strand as a two part adventure in October and November 1893 followed by the December publication of The Final Problem, with the reported death of Sherlock Holmes.
All of this leads to the puzzle over Dr. Watson's mention of The Adventure of the Second Stain in the first paragraph of the story. While mulling over which story to recount for his readers Dr. Watson mentions three possible adventures to relate that occurred that July in 1889. The Adventure of the Second Stain, The Adventure of the Naval Treaty and The Adventure of the Tired Captain. The question lays before us as to whether the Adventure of the Second Stain mentioned here is the same story recounted by Dr. Watson, and published in The Strand in December, 1904. If you will recall that adventure involved the disappearance of an important governmental document from the dispatch box of the Right Honorable Trelawney Hope, Secretary for European Affairs. Discovering that the Secretary's wife had purloined the document in an attempt to stave off a scandal designed by Eduardo Lucas regarding her less than proper past, Sherlock Holmes retrieved the document and all was well.
What evidence, other
the name of the case, supports the claim that the two stories are the same?
First, who are these two new characters Dr. Watson mentions in the naval
treaty case who are involved in the second stain case. He states a Monsieur
Dubuque, of the Paris police and a Fritz von Waldbaum of Danzig were operating
investigations on the side. Neither of these two appear anywhere
in the published version of The Adventure of the Second Stain, so how can
these be the same case. Keep in mind that the Adventure of the Second Stain
must have occurred prior to The Naval Treaty during July 1889 BUT was published
eleven years after the publication of The Naval Treaty. Recall, also that
in The Naval Treaty Dr. Watson remarks that the second stain case "deals
with interests of such
Still, what of the two missing characters
of Monsieur Dubuque and von Waldbaum. Why are they missing from the published
Adventure of the Second Stain but mentioned in The Naval Treaty? Dr. Watson
states, they were " wasting their energies upon what proved to be side-issues."
Always a brisk chronicler of the adventures Dr. Watson may have removed
them from his final draft narrative solely because they were not directly
involved in the solution to the case. What, however were these side-issues?
Eduardo Lucas occupied himself with obtaining damaging documents with which
to elicit hush money or other items of value from worthy gentlewomen. Most
likely Monsieur Dubuque and von Waldbaum were serving some of these victims
and were following leads through Mr. Lucas' activities and had no knowledge
of the missing government documents. Such a line of inquiry, as Sherlock
Holmes knew, would not lead to the recovery of the missing document but
could involve "many of the first families in the Kingdom". Remember that
the Prime Minister and Mr. Hope reported emphatically that they have not
notified any police agency regarding the missing document fearing it would
result in a public exposure. Therefore Monsieur Dubuque and von Waldbaum
were not working on the missing document and had to be connected to the
case only through the important families under the thumb of Lucas. Also,
Second, we must determine the date of
the second stain case in relation to the naval treaty case. The Annotated
Sherlock Holmes dates The Adventure of the Second Stain in mid October,
1886, three years prior to The Naval Treaty. This does not explain why
Dr. Watson stated the case occurred during the same July as the naval treaty
case rather than three years prior. The date of The Adventure of the Second
Stain deduced by Baring-Gould is incorrect. It is my firm believe that
Dr. Watson continued Sherlock Holmes' desire for "a guarded account" and
altered the evidence in his writing of the second stain account to imply
a different date, forgetting he had already established the correct date
of July, 1889 several
Therefore, The Adventure of the Second Stain Dr. Watson mentions in The Naval Treaty and the story later published under that title are the same case.
As for The Naval Treaty it is a marginally
good tale that contains one glaring error. The question remains unanswered
as to why the thieving future brother-in-law, Joseph Harrison stopped by
the foreign office the night of May 23rd. Percy reports that he knew Joseph
was in town and would return on the 11:00 train to Woking but how did Joseph
know Percy was going to work late at the office. There is no indication
he was planning to work late. Quite the contrary, he was only informed
of his need to "remain behind when the others go" by his
(c) Copyright 2001, Richard Hartman, All Rights Reserved