And on January 30, 1940, the Baker Street Irregulars gathered for their annual dinner once more. Re the Gazetteer: I'm inclined to agree with you that it might be extended to advantage by a listing of the more important clubs and restaurants, etc.
It seems to me more than likely that Doyle wrote that scene in His Last Bow quite deliberately, knowing it for what it was - a friendly para-phrase of the parting between Johnson and Boswell; although it may of course have been subconscious. When I was in Chicago a week ago I learned from Vincent Starrett that his book 221-B is actually to be published on January 30.
A few more details about some of these Irregulars of the ’30s and ’40s can be provided now, for the record. More serious still, two more toasts stipulated by our Constitutional ar-rangements are absent altogether, and missing ever since. When this was written in 1990, the hope was that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sur-viving child, Dame Jean, might come to New York for a BSI dinner. Since the first draft of the Gazetteer, I have added about 150 more names - still without resorting to bars or theatres - but more important, I have fallen in with Dr.
So it was a surprise when James Keddie’s letter above referred to a dinner photo, and a thrill when a print turned up in the hands of Mary Hazard, daughter-in-law of the late Irregular whose it had been: Harry Hazard, a solver of the Sherlock Holmes Crossword in 1934. The date crept up very quickly, and when I finally reached Earle Walbridge yesterday, to look over the proofs of my section, I found a number of errors which it is now probably too late to correct, since Miss Prink at Macmillans tells me the binding has already started. Smith, prominent Sherlockian and secretary, or “Buttons,” as he is called, of the Irregulars, informed this writer that the trouble began several years back, when Denis Conan Doyle attended a Baker Street dinner in New York.


Copies of 221-B were distributed and autographed more or less by all present, and a jolly good time was H.
Leavitt, BSI by way of the Grillparzer Club well before 1934, railed about it to Julian Wolff many years later, when Wolff had succeeded Smith as the BSI’s Commissionaire. When I arrived in New York in 1928, I had a letter of introduction to Chris from Sheldon Dick, whom I knew at Corpus, Cambridge.
Basil was too proud to accept money from a rich aunt Juliet; but he did let her pay his membership dues at the Yale Club, which he called “the most inclusive club in New York,” and which he liked because he could take their thick correspondence cards and cut them to fit inside his shoes perfectly when the soles wore out. I doubt that time remains to enable the development of an essay on the Obliquity of the Ecliptic, but it is barely possible, if I apply myself assiduously, that I might have ready for confidential distribution for those present, a typewritten copy of the Gazetteer on which I have recently been making fairly decent progress. You will be more likely to find one favorable to the idea of publication, I think, if you will abbreviate the essay skillfully; its length just now is against it, I'm afraid. Smith eventually coaxed the Pips into the BSI, and then struggled to save them in 1947 when Christopher Morley felt the BSI had grown too large and unruly.
It was, I tell you, an ornamental piece of furniture, and when the fire needed replenishing, the bell-pull at the end of the mantel-piece brought the servant lassie from the kitchen with a cannily measured “scuttle” of coal, from which the fire was fed with great daintiness and dexterity. How well he managed to associate names with faces that evening, when high spirits and hard spirits were the order of the day, is unclear. But it bespoke his confidence in Smith, who had yet to attend a BSI dinner, when he turned first to him for help organizing the 1940 affair. Other veteran BSIs-to-be not on it, but at the ’41 dinner and many more to come, were Philip Duschnes the bookseller, Charles Honce the A.P.


His defense, when threatened with inquiry, was to roar (and I use the word deliberately — ROAR), “Don’t put me to the question!” As him and dare him, for me, to deny it.
I don’t remember his attendance at any of the BSI dinners; but I recall vividly that when we would meet him at dinner at the St. Bell was there at the time, and when Bell died in 1947, Starrett recalled in his “Books Alive” column in the Tribune walking up and down Baker Street with Bell, arguing about which house had been Sherlock Holmes’s.
So are the signatures of two more men not named in Smith’s minutes, who may be among the unidentified faces in the picture: Ernest S. I met him when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, attending his lectures on Samuel Johnson, but it was in publishing that he made his reputation. Or perhaps the dinner — the date still uncertain — when Jim Montgomery sang “Aunt Clara” for the first time.
He was Secretary to the Syndics of Cambridge University Press from 1922 to 1948, and more than any other one man he had brought the University Press out of the academic backwaters into the mainstream of publishing. I don’t suppose that any society of Amateur Mendicants has ever had a more agreeable or competent fugleman.



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