Table of contents

Sherlock II.3

Sherlock Holmes & the order of trial by jury

One day, Moriarty decides to destroy Holmes. At the highest level, the experience of crime & detection is an education. Moriarty seems to have three things on his mind. Moriarty breaks into the Tower of London, the Bank of England, & some prison. This would seem to prove that he has the power to breach the institutions that make England. It is not apparently enough to steal property – authority & punitive justice also matter.

Moriarty gets himself acquitted by a jury of all the crimes of which policemen thought to accuse him. He offered no defense at his trial. Rather, he terrorized the jury. Is that proof of the corruption of democracy? It cannot prove that people love injustice more than justice, & reward it more. But it might prove that justice is impossible & that people are fundamentally unjust – what have the innocent to fear?

Moriarty destroys Holmes’s reputation by telling democrats what they want above all to hear: That what they do not understand is a conspiracy, that the conspiracy can be exposed. Moriarty offers democracy enlightenment on the cheap. Is that really what enlightenment is? Then again, Holmes is indeed supremely imprudent – Moriarty means to make him pay with his life for doing justice. One could say that he only wants to know how serious Holmes is about justice.

This is the problem the end of the first series prepared. The second series deals with problems of knowledge: The political secrets of the country in the first case (strangely connected to the question, does Holmes love any woman?), the possibility of destroying the mind in the second case (this is connected more obviously to the ugly creations of science). Holmes’s knowledge of the people for whom he does justice is the problem now.

Moriarty seems to consider Holmes’s philanthropy is a defect, a limit to human wisdom. Because Holmes will not abandon the people even when they hunt him & take him for a criminal, Moriarty decides they both must die. Strangely, Moriarty insists on human beings being only human. Perhaps he thinks otherwise they cannot be fully human. He does not say, philanthropy: He says Holmes is on the side of the angels.

Holmes admits that, but says he himself is no angel. Why should he take their side then? Why should Moriarty resent that? He jokes that these are all fairy tales. Maybe if he cannot persuade Holmes to reject the people, Moriarty cannot live, because being human would mean everyone thinks him a monster. If both die, human beings are free from the super-human. Their powers might deny free will. Maybe Moriarty hates Holmes’s fame because it could lead to Holmes ruling England.