The Hound of the Baskervilles - Mr. Frankland

The Complete Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Ryan

One of the joys of re-reading a favourite book is that it makes you remember your favourite characters and scenes. However, another joy is when you discover fun characters that didn't grab your attention before:

This time I'm really enjoying the character of Mr. Frankland. ACD may have created him as a comic relief, (or, maybe he wanted to caricature a personal acquaintance of his...?) but I am hugely enjoying how ACD described Mr. Frankland's exploits:

"One other neighbour I have met since I wrote last. This is Mr. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, who lives some four miles to the south of us. He is an elderly man, red-faced, white-haired, and choleric. His passion is for the British law, and he has spent a large fortune in litigation. He fights for the mere pleasure of fighting and is equally ready to take up either side of a question, so that it is no wonder that he has found it a costly amusement. Sometimes he will shut up a right of way and defy the parish to make him open it. At others he will with his own hands tear down some other man’s gate and declare that a path has existed there from time immemorial, defying the owner to prosecute him for trespass. He is learned in old manorial and communal rights, and he applies his knowledge sometimes in favour of the villagers of Fernworthy and sometimes against them, so that he is periodically either carried in triumph down the village street or else burned in effigy, according to his latest exploit. He is said to have about seven lawsuits upon his hands at present, which will probably swallow up the remainder of his fortune and so draw his sting and leave him harmless for the future. Apart from the law he seems a kindly, good-natured person, and I only mention him because you were particular that I should send some description of the people who surround us. He is curiously employed at present, for, being an amateur astronomer, he has an excellent telescope, with which he lies upon the roof of his own house and sweeps the moor all day in the hope of catching a glimpse of the escaped convict."

We later meet him again...

“It is a great day for me, sir--one of the red-letter days of my life,” he cried with many chuckles.

“I have brought off a double event. I mean to teach them in these parts that law is law, and that there is a man here who does not fear to invoke it. I have established a right of way through the centre of old Middleton’s park, slap across it, sir, within a hundred yards of his own front door.

What do you think of that?

We’ll teach these magnates that they cannot ride roughshod over the rights of the commoners, confound them! And I’ve closed the wood where the Fernworthy folk used to picnic. These infernal people seem to think that there are no rights of property, and that they can swarm where they like with their papers and their bottles. Both cases decided, Dr. Watson, and both in my favour. I haven’t had such a day since I had Sir John Morland for trespass because he shot in his own warren.”

 

“How on earth did you do that?”

 

“Look it up in the books, sir. It will repay reading--Frankland v. Morland, Court of Queen’s Bench. It cost me 200 pounds, but I got my verdict.”

 

“Did it do you any good?”

 

“None, sir, none. I am proud to say that I had no interest in the matter. I act entirely from a sense of public duty. I have no doubt, for example, that the Fernworthy people will burn me in effigy tonight. I told the police last time they did it that they should stop these disgraceful exhibitions. The County Constabulary is in a scandalous state, sir, and it has not afforded me the protection to which I am entitled. The case of Frankland v. Regina will bring the matter before the attention of the public. I told them that they would have occasion to regret their treatment of me, and already my words have come true.”

 

“How so?” I asked. The old man put on a very knowing expression.

 

“Because I could tell them what they are dying to know; but nothing would induce me to help the rascals in any way.”