Hey, Cafe!!! Did Sherlock Holmes say this?

I could have sworn I read this line at the end of one of the canonical Doyle stories. Basically, he remonstrates Watson with a aside like, " I hope you aren’t under the impression that wit and humor are the same thing."

Years later, I understood.

I wanted to know 1) If Sherlock Holmes said it, in what story and 2) If not Holmes, then who?

As always, any help is appreciated.

Given that almost all of the Doyle stories can be found online (except for a few that aren’t quite in the public domain yet) and that a Google search for various permutations of the line you quoted (with ‘humor’ spelled the British way, too) doesn’t turn up anything, I’d guess that no, Holmes didn’t say it. That would have been my first impression as well–I’ve read all the Doyle stories fairly recently and I don’t recall that line.

Kinda sounds like something Oscar Wilde would have said in a Holmes pastiche. Is it possible that it wasn’t an original Doyle story you saw?

I’m sure Holmes said it – but it might not be canonical, merely in pastiche somewhere… one of the HUNDREDS I’ve read! (groan) But I forgot that humor is spelled with an extra U in British English which may explain why it didn’t turn up on my Google search. I’ll try again.

Oscar Wilde, eh? Hmmmm.

I’ve been re-reading my Doyle collection lately and the line doesn’t ring a bell, but I’m not going to positively assert that it was never said.

I’m a big Holmes fan, and I’ve read the Canon many times over. I also have a large collection of pastiches, but the damned things are infinite in number – it’s not possible to read them all.
Nevertheless, I’ve never read the above line. I think I would have remembered it. I can pretty confidently state that it’s not in the Canon. It might be in some pastiche. To my mind, it isn’t pithy enough to be Wilde – he’d have said something with more “bite”.

Crap. If this is in a Holmes pastiche, who knows when i’ll track it down?

I’ve read all of the canonical stories many times, and I am pretty certain that is not in any of them. Holmes did comment on Watson’s sense of humor once or twice, but that’s not ringing any bells for me.

This is a wild guess, but could it have been Nero Wolfe? Sounds like something he may have said.

There’s a bit in James Blish’s Black Easter where black magician Theron Ware is talking about the requirements of his trade, one of them being a lack of a sense of humour. The guy he’s talking to (I forget his name right now) says something along the lines of “it doesn’t seem to have happened to you”, to which Ware replies (IIRC), “You confuse humour with wit, as many do. The two are quite separate.” (I think - going from memory alone here, and my memory’s more than a bit rusty. But there’s definitely something like that, in the book.)

Steve Wright beat me to the punch, but he’s right about Theron Ware’s remark in Black Easter, a novel I highly recommend.

I have read all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories at least 7 times, and I am 99% certain that line does not occur in The Canon. Can’t say about the pastiches.


Mark Twain-“Wit and Humor—if any difference, it is in duration—lightning and electric light. Same material, apparently; but one is vivid, and can do damage—the other fools along and enjoys elaboration.”

Vivian Mercier’s Hypothesis would run like this: “Wit is always absurd and true, humor absurd and untrue"

William Shakespeare - "A college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humor. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? " Said by Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, act 5, sc. 4, l. 100-2. [Having sworn he would never marry, he is teased by Don Pedro for agreeing to marry Beatrice; “college” means assembly. ]

Fun pictures of Sherlock’s original publications http://www.citsoft.com/holmes3.html