“A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose”

This week’s quotation is provided by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes novella, A Study in Scarlet (1887). In chapter 2, the world’s most famous detective warns Dr. Watson of the dangers of filling one’s brain-attic with too much lumber …

I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

Image taken from page 269 of 'The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes' 1884
Featured images taken from the British Library collection – page  69 and 269 of “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” (1894)

 

Advertisements

One Comment Add yours

  1. Karen says:

    I love Watson’s glazed expression in the featured image. “What, is he still talking?”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s