This is one of the most important of the canonical stories in that it sets the stage for what is to come.   It begins with Holmes the prototype of the rational man then suddenly detours into a depiction of Holmes the romanticist.  Paget chooses to focus on this in his depiction's for reasons that only become clear in the subsequent adventure when Holmes meets his "death" in the corrupted natural surroundings of the Victorian world.

The story begins with a strong depiction of Holmes the empiricist deciding the fate of "a man's life" by the color of a piece of litmus paper.   Surrounded by test tubes and beakers, the scene is reminiscent of the beginning of RESI  when Watson saves Holmes from the depression brougtht about by the failure of his science to provide him answers.  This time however, the moo continues through the portrait of the initial interview until suddenly Holmes is captivated by a rose.  While no satisfactory reason for this departure will ever be made, clearly Paget takes Watson at his word that the scene presents another side of Holmes - the romanticist who is not "the machine without a heart" as so often depicted. 

 Less commented on, but equally important in the understanding of the romantic Holmes is his later reverie in the train as they pass the neighborhoods of London.  To Watson "the view was sordid."  But, it is the board schools Holmes  points to approvingly , echoing the theme of the democratic  developed earlier when Watson noted that the status of the nephew of Lord Holdhurst "did him little good at school."   Doyle has in a few pages established the superiority of British society from appreciation of the natural world, to working class neighborhoods to the "playing fields of Eton" and Paget capture it all admirably with a few strokes of his pen.

 As always, depicting relationships are important to Paget.   Paget chooses to depict Holmes deep in an experiment while Watson, hat in hand, awaits his attentions.  This illustration of the patient and nervous subordinate is furthered by two others.The first is the interview with Percy where a cross legged Holmes sits next to a stiff and straight seated Watson while Percy reclines on the Victorian fainting sofa designed for the  "weaker sex" who in this instance who comforts him while he lies helpless.  The second  shows Holmes equally relaxed in the presence of Lord Holdhurst while Watson, hat on lap, sits ram rod straight staring at Holmes.  The caption, "A nobleman" can easily be taken as to be Watson's summary of his friend, not the Lord in whose presence his body language emulates that he adopts in  deference to his friend in earlier portraits.

 It is not until the mystery is solved that Watson is allowed to relax.  He sits  with legs crossed as  Holmes revels in total relaxation and triumph in a leather covered lounge chair and asks "Is  there any other point which I can make clear?" A loaded question of which the clearly drained Percy and relaxed Watson believe refers to this case, not the contradictions of the one already boiling in Holmes' mind.

 Paget has made several points clear through his illustrations in this important prelude to the tragedy to come. 

Take Care



      The image of the science vs nature as drawn by Paget are the most important themes to be drawn from "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty."  With these, Paget presents the two contradictory sides of Holmes' character as well as set the stage for the events of the "final" adventure.

   The story is one of contrasts befitting its two part format.  Besides the contrasts of  Romanticism and empiricism already referred to, Paget draws the contrasts between classes and attitudes in NAVA.

Lord Holdhurst is "A nobleman" and Paget draws him and his chambers on Downing street as such.  He is dressed in even more formal wear than the formal Victorian wear of Watson and Holmes who, surprisingly, remain seated in his presence.  A vest with a white shirt front topped with a cravat beneath a starched collar.

     On the floor, between two of the heavily worked pieces dwellings, is an Oriental area rug - all  popular in Victorian upper class  .  Books - the sign of the intelligentia - line the walls and a painting and perhaps a statue are situated above a fireplace.  The appointments, dress and attitudes speak to the confidence of the class and its impeccable credentials as the rulers of an empire.

      In stark contrast stands the squalid housing and residents of No. 16 Ivy Lane, Brixton, a less fashionable address than Downing street to be sure.  Paget marks the contrast by depicting a reversal of Lord Holdhurst class and dwelling.

     Mrs. Tangey, taken aback by the rushing in of the Holmes and Watson leans backwards against a table.  Mrs. Tangey of the Paisley shawl is dressed simply with a simple bonnet and dress that reaches to the floor, one toe of a dark shoe sticking out. 

  The table and the chair  - which is the only other furnishing  - are of common place variety.  The walls are bare and save a few knack knacks - possibly kitchen utensils on the mantle above the fireplace - the room is rough and utilitarian.  The fireplace in this dwelling serves not only for decor and for more than warmth as the pans along its base indicate.  No Oriental rugs break the plainness of the floor in this workers dwelling.

 Mrs. Tangey and her lazy husband who slept by the whistling(?) coffee pot while the treaty was being whisked the other way are the soft underbelly of the empire, and Holmes wishes and believes that those in the board schools he and Watson whisk by will produce men who will build a "wiser, better England of the future."  Not soon enough to save Holmes from its corruption that will engulf him in the next tale.

Take Care