The Adventure of Silver Blaze Quotes

Instructor: Joe Ricker

Joe has a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Silver Blaze is a remarkable horse, and just as remarkable as the horse is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's use of language. The quotations in this lesson show the depth of his characters in this Sherlock Holmes adventure.

The Power of Words

Quotations often illustrate the tone and mood of a piece of writing. While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does that, his style of writing conveys a deeper meaning, especially with the perspectives of his characters. In The Adventure of Silver Blaze, the following quotations reveal the mastery of Conan Doyle's writing, and the depth of his characters, especially the clever insight of Sherlock Holmes.


Irrational thought and actions are sometimes the results of gossip. In The Adventure of Silver Blaze, gossip is everywhere in England as the mysteries of the missing race horse, Silver Blaze, and the murder of its trainer, John Straker, remain unsolved. This affects Sherlock Holmes, who understands the effects of gossip, but is a rational and deductive thinker. His frustration with how this particular case has been handled motivates him to lend a hand. While speaking to Watson about it, he reveals this perspective by stating:

'It is one of those cases where the art of the reasoner should be used rather for the sifting of details than for the acquiring of fresh evidence. The tragedy has been so uncommon, so complete and of such personal importance to so many people that we are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture, and hypothesis.'

The Holmes Way of Speaking

Holmes and Watson venture to King's Pyland, the training stables in Dartmoor, where the crime took place. After only a few hours, Holmes, while 'sifting through the details,' solves the case. However, the arrogant demeanor of Colonel Ross motivates Holmes to keep his truths about the case to himself for a few days as a sort of game he wants to play with Ross. This toying with Ross comes through in the infamous line:

'The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.'

Here, Holmes has just asked one final question that offers him a concrete conclusion as to what actually happened at King's Pyland, and he's deduced that because the dog didn't bark or rouse any of the stable boys when Silver Blaze was taken, the person who committed the crime was friendly with the dog.

The Functions of a Good Detective

The accusations against Fitzroy Simpson as a horse thief and murderer are compelling. In a discussion about the case, the details are given as to why Simpson has to be the murderer: a list of things that Holmes proves are only circumstantial. The following is said about Fitzroy:

'He lies under suspicion of having poisoned the stable-boy, he was undoubtedly out in the storm, he was armed with a heavy stick, and his cravat was found in the dead man's hand.'

When Holmes shows that the powdered opium used to drug the stable-boy was unlikely brought by Fitzroy because of its conspicuous flavor, suspicion points to John Straker or his wife who prepared the food that was drugged. The heavy stick that was thought to be the murder weapon was just as likely a killing instrument as Silver Blaze's hoof, which was actually how Straker was killed. And the cravat that was found with John Straker and worn by Fitzroy could have simply fallen off and been picked up by Straker. So, what's seemingly obvious to Inspector Gregory is not fact and doesn't prove a thing. From this, a previous passage in the story resonates, and illustrates why and how Holmes is so effective in solving crimes. The passage reads as follows:

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