Victorians such as Watson also “knew” that Jews were
emotional. Emotion, however well disguised and controlled, was and is
essential for an actor. Furthermore, acting and boxing, another of Holmes
talents, were, and to this day still are, fields through which otherwise
despised minorities can move up in the world.
Holmes’ knowledge of gems was not
surprising when one considers that in many times and places, Jews frequently
were forbidden to own land. Jewish wealth therefore had to be portable, and
perforce, Jews learned to deal in gems and gold. Holmes must have learned
about jewels as a child from a relative.
The need for portable assets had, long before Holmes’ time, led to the
development of international banking systems, the most well-known being that
of the Rothschild family. It was no doubt through their well-known widespread
system of contacts that Holmes was able to keep in touch with Mycroft
throughout the hiatus.
This leaves us with the violin, the bees, and the nose. Watson told us the
violin came from a Jew (CARD). He preferred to conceal that the Stradivarius
was either a generous gift from a wealthy relative, possibly one in the
jewelry business, or was a fee from someone in the French branch of the
Rothschild family, who retained Holmes when particular discretion was
required. However, Watson did tell us as much of the truth as possible. The
meager cost - 55 shillings - was the price paid for the case, bow, strings,
rosin, and other paraphernalia, which Holmes purchased himself.
The bees were quite likely at first
Watson’s pawkily humorous reference to the land of milk and honey. Holmes
enjoyed this subtle comment on his origins, which were never detected by
Watson’s readers, of course. Bees began to intrigue Holmes, who knew that
honey from the Holy Land was especially delicious. In time, Holmes’
scientific bent led him to try to reproduce that sort of honey in England
through an understanding of the bees’ social system.
The nose speaks for itself.