phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum


Posted by Dr Watson on December 11, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Sherlock Holmes - the Complete works - WOW! posted by Lotg on December 10, 2003

: : : : : : I just read a Sherlock Holmes story in which a man was described as "a half-pay Major of Marines". Does that mean he retired early from the Marines, and so took a half pension rather than a full pension? I am planning on reading the story aloud to my 9-year-old, and I'd like to be able to explain what that means. Thanks for any confirmation anyone can provide.

: : : : : Some military people, if placed on standby because of little need for them, eg a ship's captain with no current ship, would, in the old days, be put on half pay. I'm not sure whether this was still so in Holmes' time, but it's a possibility, especially for a Marine.

: : : : Julia went there at Chrustmas two years ago, and met there a half-pay Major of Marines, to whom she became engaged. ["The Adventure of the Speckled Band"]
: : : : half-pay. The reduced pay of an army or navy officer when he is not on active service.
: : : : From _The Annotated Sherlock Holmes_ by William S. Baring-Gould
: : : : ----------
: : : : The Dutch having called in their fleete and paid their men half-pay. (Pepys, _Diary_, Nov 30, 1664)
: : : : Half-pay captains and half-witted beaux. (Somerville, _Poems_, 1727)
: : : : The half-pays have come over in great force. (_Pall Mall_, Aug 21, 1865)

: : : Thanks, guys. Come to think of it, an annotated version of Sherlock Holmes sounds like the ticket. I do plan on reading some more stories.

: : I just bought the complete works. Haven't started on it yet though.

: The complete works. I've never thought of doing that. What an excellent idea. Now look what you've started me on ESC. Still, there are worse ways to be led astray.

Please don't start that infernal gossip about Mr Holmes and myself. Why my wife put up with him I do not know. The Jonathon Creek of his day, he was - a most erudite man.