Through the generosity of Christopher Music BSI, editor of the new Amateur Mendicant Society history From the Lower Vault (reviewed below by Donald Yates BSI), I have just read the late Russell McLauchlin’s 1943 book Roaming Holidays: A Preface to Post-War Travel. Not for worlds would I criticize that splendid society, being one of its most devout members.
Inspired by the work of Jon Lellenberg (the BSI’s Thucydides), Music has just brought forth his From the Lower Vault, which draws upon the Donovan file and Harris’s papers and reminiscences to give us a sense of how a Sherlockian society comes into being, and displays the sparkling wit of Russ McLauchlin and Bob Harris in its pages, where all of McLauchlin’s high-spirited periodic dispatches to the membership (his Encyclical Letters) are reproduced. Morley is quite right about Footner’s “Adam-and-Eves-dropping” in City of Cities, noting several instances of it in his SRL review that stood out for me too: providing what Footner calls “the human side” of New York City in the 1930s, including at police headquarters, at night court, in hospitals including Bellevue’s psychiatric ward, in high society and (to quote Lucius Beebe, as Footner does on cafe society) in the unfashionable faubourgs like the Bowery and Hell’s Kitchen.
The Sauvage I knew, from the final dinners at Cavanagh’s to the end of his life, was an older cosmopolitan New Yorker: a world-traveling journalist with a command of the most limpid, idiomatic prose in American English (and, I am confident, equally adept in at least two or three other languages), who spoke with a pronounced Maurice Chevalier–like French accent, something that was and is simply not noticeable in New York. Joyce (“The Yellow-backed Novel,” BSI) is a rare books dealer, and a long-time member of Chicago’s bibliophile society, The Caxton Club.


He was soon joined at the helm of the Mendicants by attorney Robert Harris, and together they guided the scion’s activities with the rollicking blend of Baker Street nostalgia and encouragement for tongue-in-cheek scholarship that has somehow always effortlessly imposed itself on such gatherings. He made a strong impression upon Smith and Morley to be included so soon in the first crop of Titular Investitures, and repaid their confidence in him through the decades that followed as one of the BSI’s leading collectors and scholars, writing for the Baker Street Journal, Baker Street Miscellanea, and his own annual, eagerly awaited, Baker Street Christmas Stockings which have been collected in book form.
It was during this rebirth of the society, beginning in 1975, that Tom Voss joined the group. There are welcome references to Christ Cella’s and Billy the Oysterman in Morley’s literary and social life, and to the Saturday Review of Literature where the BSI presented itself to the world.
I’m obliged to England for about 85 per cent of the social conventions which make community living a pleasant thing.
On racial issues, he is enlightened for his era, respectful of New York’s black community, and fascinated by Harlem and its society.


Richard Lancelyn Green’s book Letters to Sherlock Holmes (Penguin, 1985) says that the Abbey National Building Society in Baker Street had begun to receive mail addressed to Holmes the year before, and it may be that this particular specimen was sent to Morley by Archie Macdonell, of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, or by his brother Frank, working in that city at Faber & Faber. Prominent among these documents was an exhaustive record of the doings of the society that had been brought together by Mendicant Raymond Donovan, who had joined in 1948.



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