The Dynamics of the Brothers Moriarty

by Timothy J. Rutt (Wold Atlas, vol. 1, no. 1)

As all good Newtons and Sherlockians know, Sherlock Holmes and his arch-enemy Professor James Moriarty engaged in their fight to the death at Reichenbach Falls in 1891. The faithful Watson found some papers beneath Holmes' cigarette case, and concluded from these that the Great Detective and the Napoleon of Crime plunged headlong into the falls together.

And, as we also know, Holmes appeared three years later with the tale that Moriarty alone had gone into the Falls, and that he, Holmes, was forced to hide these three years to escape the Professor's right-hand man, Col. Sebastian Moran (for those unfamiliar with these events, they are detailed in Watson's "The Final Problem" and "The Adventure of the Empty House," edited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

That eminent Sherlockian, H.W. Starr, proposed in 1959 that Moriarty was, when younger, known by the name of Captain Nemo (see Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). In a few words, Starr concretely proves that Verne's sequel, The Mysterious Island, was pure fiction and that the events described by Professor Arronax to Verne were substantially true: but far from being the Byronic hero, Nemo was a pirate of incontestable savagery (to my knowledge, Starr's article, "A Submersible Subterfuge, or Proof Impositive," was most recently reprinted in PJF's The Other Log of Phileas Fogg).

Nemo was Moriarty, according to Starr, because of several leading clues:

(a) He was widely educated;

(b) To build a submarine requires a genius in mathematics, physics, and theoretical engineering, as well as other sciences (the man who wrote The Dynamics of an Asteroid and his famous treatise on the binomial theorem was nothing if not a genius);

(c) He was an inadequate sailor (the Nautilus accidentally hits several objects in the water--not the mark of a good seaman);

(d) He is a man of domineering presence, and caste-conscious, of the type found only among teachers and military men; and

(e) He has dubious ethics and an established network of spies to supply him with information from the outside world.

In 1867, when Arronax first saw Nemo, he was described as being between 35 and 50 years of age, but certainly not much past 40. This would mean that Nemo would have had to have been born no later than 1831, which would put him in his 60s or 70s when he encountered Holmes for the last time. So, quite conceivably and believably, Nemo and Professor Moriarty were the same man.

But now some new information has come to light. John Gardner has come upon a book of memoirs that he has novelized as The Return of Moriarty. If this book is factual, ....... theorize about Professor Moriarty, as well as his relationship to Captain Nemo.

PJF said that Morcar Moriarty had three children, all by different men (one of whom was Sir William Clayton) and all named James. One was the Professor. One, mentioned by Watson, was a colonel in the British army; Sherlockian scholars speculate that the youngest was a stationmaster for the railroad.

According to Gardner, Stationmaster Moriarty was possessed of an insanely criminal mind, rivaling the Professor's mathematical one. He also had an intense case of sibling rivalry, especially against his older, successful mathematician brother.

The stationmaster, a man of slim build and average height, possessed of a nervous disease that caused his head to oscillate back and forth like a lizard, was already organizing what was soon to be a vast criminal empire. He killed his older brother and, using makeup, lifts, and braces, was able to make himself look exactly like the Professor. Gardner's book leaves no doubt that this was the man, described by Watson, who called himself Professor Moriarty. The real Professor was merely a mathematical genius; the stationmaster who assumed his identity was possessed of a criminal mind every bit as brilliant.

Could Stationmaster Moriarty have been Nemo? I quote from Gardner's book:

"In the September of 1888 James Moriarty was 36 years of age and had been the governor of his huge and growing criminal family for 12 years."

It is quite definite on that point. Therefore, Stationmaster-Godfather-"Professor" Moriarty was born around 1852. The Nautilus was first sighted in 1866 and vanished in 1868. Therefore, if Godfather Moriarty was captain of the Nautilus, he would have been 14 years old!

So where does this leave us? The true professor was a nonviolent man, and his brother was much younger. Who was Nemo?

Morcar Moriarty had three sons. If the youngest and eldest were geniuses, why not the middle child?

Professor Arronax speculated that Nemo was between 35 and 50. He must have been born in 1831 at the latest. Assuming that Morcar was an extremely attractive lady and had Godfather Moriarty when she was 40, she was born around 1812, and this would have made here 19 at the birth of her second son, Col. James Moriarty. PJF says in his Doc Savage biography that Sir William Clayton handsomely supported Morcar and her son by him. I speculate that Sir William sent her enough to provide both sons with an excellent education.

The elder brother went on to become the real professor. The second son went into the service in India, and there fell in with the Capelleans, a race from another planet who were competing with the Eridaneans for control of the Earth (the complete story is given in PJF's The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, mentioned previously). The Capelleans supplied the Colonel with enough assistance to construct an atomic submarine for privateering purposes. The money would go to support for the Capellean cause on Earth.

Does the Colonel fit in with Starr's criteria earlier in this article? Let's see:

(a) Sir William Clayton supplied the money to see that he got a substantial education;

(b) Aid from another star helped him in the construction of the Nautilus;

(c) Since the Colonel is a land-bound title (as opposed to, say, Admiral) he could very well have been a bad sailor;

(d) Note; teachers and military men;

(e) The Capelleans had an established network of spies (again, I refer you to PJF's Log).

And in addition, a man who was in the service in India could very well disguise himself as an Indian Prince, as Nemo supposedly was to Arronax.

After 1872, according to the Log, the Capellan-Eridanean cold war sort of fizzled out. The Colonel, having survived many battles and the sinking of his submarine, returned to the service to earn a military pension and otherwise live out his life in quiet obscurity. He never had much contact with his two brothers; the youngest was 20 years younger than he, and his older brother he was not close to, but respected. So no wonder he wrote those letters to the newspapers, defending the memory of his late brother, thrown into the falls by Sherlock Holmes.* How was he to know that the Professor had died some time earlier by sibling hands?

*or did he? Read Gardner's The Return of Moriarty for a most provocative resurrection


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