Hampshire on Stilts
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Hampshire on Stilts is an article written anonymously under the pseudonym "Donan Coyle" in 1888 in a Portsmouth newspaper. This article was inspired by the Conan Doyle article On the Geographical Distribution of British Intellect published in august 1888 in Nineteenth Century .
Hampshire on Stilts
That Hampshire always was, is now, and ever will be, the chief of British counties, and the centre round which the civilised world revolves, is a proposition which no sane native of the shire would think of disputing. I am rather surprised, however, that Dr. Conan Doyle, in calling the attention of the world at large to this remarkable fact, has mentioned only one of the numerous points of superiority which give our native county its proud pre-eminence. The instance given, moreover, is of doubtful value, for it is by no means certain that Hampshire, specially favoured as it is in other ways, outshines the other shires in point of intellect. It has undoubtedly produced, in the person of the illustrious Burrows — popularly known as "Nosey" — the only poet who is fit to be named in the same breath with the bard of Avon. But one swallow does not make a Spring, and one poet, however brilliant the coruscations of his genius, will not raise the intellectual character of a whole county. In other points, however, the superiority of Hampshire over all the other counties of the kingdom is conspicuous and undoubted. The donkeys of Hampshire, for instance, have longer ears, and bray when beaten, with a nearer approach to the eloquence of Balaam's ass than any other donkeys. The lunatics of Hampshire have stranger hallucinations and indulge in more fantastic freaks than the lunatics of any other county. The journalists of Hampshire are the pink of journalists, they surpass all other journalists in their solemn reverence for Mrs. Grundy, and their soulless worship of conventionality; in their facile powers of making mountains out of molehills, and their marvellous skill in giving form and substance to airy nothings. The mashers of Hampshire are the cream of mashers: they are "flyer," and spryer, and artfuller, and awfuller, mash more madly, slang more fluently, swagger more insolently, and generally go to the dogs with more headlong rapidity than any other mashers. The maidens of Hampshire are the flower of maidens: they are crummier, and prettier, and naughtier, and wittier, flirt more freely, wink more wickedly, kiss more warmly, and dispense their favours with a more bountiful generosity than any other maidens in the kingdom. The soot of Hampshire is smuttier than any other soot, and the grass of Hampshire is greener than jealousy itself. The cats of Hampshire are paragons of cats: they catch more mice, bone more bloaters, breed more kittens, purr more softly, and wail in a more wildering variety of discordant notes than any other cats in creation. The fleas of Hampshire are the finest of the species: they are more bloodthirsty, have greater powers of suction, skip more nimbly, are caught less easily, love life better and retain it longer than any other fleas in any other county in Britain. The babies of Hampshire are born much earlier than any other babies, and the children of Hampshire reach their majority six months sooner than any other children in any other portion of the globe. The cockroaches of Hampshire — but there is no need to pursue the subject any farther. The examples given prove, I think, in a far more conclusive manner than the single fact adduced by Dr. Doyle that our blessed county is in all conscience a veritable marvel, and deserves to be added as an eighth item to the Seven Wonders of the World.
- Sherlock Holmes Victorian Parodies and Pastiches: 1888-1899, by Bill Peschel (2015).