Sherlock Holmes and the vilest alleys in London

I’ve been reading The Best of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that were first published in The Strand Magazine.

This short passage in The Copper Beeches that describes the Hampshire countryside caught my attention:

‘Do you know, Watson,’ said he, ‘that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation, and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.’

‘Good heavens!’ I cried. ‘Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?’

‘They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.’

Nowhere is safer to me than a busy London street full of strangers whilst the thought of walking alone in a quiet village fills me with fear. Naturally a number of people I have discussed this with have said the opposite!