I did understand the words word by word but how do they make up a meaningful sentence is too much for me. I am quoting from the Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Empty House, by Arthur Conan Doyle:

I crept forward and looked across at the familiar window. As my eyes fell upon it I gave a gasp and a cry of amazement. The blind was down and a strong light was burning in the room. The shadow of a man who was seated in a chair within was thrown in hard, black outline upon the luminous screen of the window. There was no mistaking the poise of the head, the squareness of the shoulders, the sharpness of the features. The face was turned half-round, and the effect was that of one of those black silhouettes which our grandparents loved to frame. It was a perfect reproduction of Holmes. So amazed was I that I threw out my hand to make sure that the man himself was standing beside me. He was quivering with silent laughter.

“Well?” said he.

“Good heavens!” I cried. “It is marvelous.”

“I trust that age doth not wither nor custom stale my infinite variety,’” said he, and I recognized in his voice the joy and pride which the artist takes in his own creation. “It really is rather like me, is it not?”

“I should be prepared to swear that it was you.”

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    Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’: these words are among the most well-known and oft-quoted from William Shakespeare’s late tragedy, Antony and Cleopatra, about the love affair between Mark Antony and the Queen of Egypt. interestingliterature.com/2021/04/…
    – user 66974
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 9:35
  • ah thank you and sorry for my ignorance
    – aissam
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


age doth not wither nor custom stale my infinite variety

is an adaptation of sentence from the play Antony and Cleopatra (ACT II. SCENE I.), by William Shakespeare. Enobarbus, a friend of Mark Antony, says "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety."

He is saying that Cleopatra is overwhelmingly attractive to men not so much because of her beauty as because of her fascinating unpredictability and range of moods.

In this context, Holmes is implying that he hopes that he can still amaze and amuse Watson although he (Holmes) may be getting older.

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