Henry Leffmann: Thoughts on the Drood Mystery

First published in: "About Dickens", 1908


re­mem­ber the ap­pear­ance of this novel in in­stall­ments at the time of its writ­ing and I re­call the gen­er­al in­ter­est that it awak­ened in this coun­try. Dick­ens' visit to us in 1842 had been fol­lowed by an ac­count of his trav­els and ob­ser­va­tions and by the in­tro­duc­tion of some Amer­i­can scenes into one of his nov­els. As he saw us in the later visit, great progress had been made; slav­ery had dis­ap­peared; the cities of the east­ern por­tion of the coun­try had in­creased in cul­ture and im­por­tance; and the na­tion had risen to the po­si­tion of one of the world pow­ers.

It was, ex­pect­ed, there­fore, by many Amer­i­cans that he would take oc­ca­sion, through the pages of a novel, to re­voke some of the harsh judg­ments he had pro­nounced upon us in the story of Mar­tin and Mark, as he had to­wards the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in his pre­sen­ta­tion of a char­ac­ter in "Our Mu­tu­al Friend." There were not want­ing some, though the num­ber was very few, who thought that per­haps the dis­ap­pear­ance of Edwin Drood was pre­lim­i­nary to shift­ing the scene for a time to the Unit­ed States, but the text of­fers no foun­da­tion for this view.

The novel was re­ceived in the Unit­ed States very dif­fer­ent­ly by dif­fer­ent per­sons. I do not think I do the great au­thor in­jus­tice by say­ing that the first chap­ters were gen­er­al­ly dis­ap­point­ing. A few of the crit­ics ex­pressed con­fi­dence that it would be one of his best nov­els, but most Amer­i­cans found it dull. The in­tense lo­cal­iza­tion of the scenes, pre­sent­ing, as they did al­most en­tire­ly, the rather com­mon­place life of an En­glish cathe­dral town, did not at­tract the Amer­i­can read­er who had been ac­cus­tomed to the more world­ly char­ac­ters in the ear­li­er nov­els. When I first read it, I was not much at­tract­ed to it, but it has grown in favor after close study. In view of its in­com­plete­ness, it is a sub­ject for spe­cial con­tro­ver­sial lit­er­a­ture.

I think it may be con­sid­ered es­tab­lished that Drood was mur­dered. Nu­mer­ous sen­tences from the novel might be quot­ed to show this, in ad­di­tion to those fre­quent­ly quot­ed by those who have been dis­cussing this topic.

Some points in the story lead one to think that if the novel had been com­plet­ed along the lines that are gen­er­al­ly sup­posed, it might have given rise to ad­verse crit­i­cism sim­i­lar to that which was brought against the story of the death of the rag and bot­tle mer­chant in "Bleak House." Dick­ens there used the the­o­ry of "spon­ta­neous com­bus­tion," but this has been shown by care­ful re­search in med­i­cal ju­rispru­dence to be im­pos­si­ble. The com­plete dis­ap­pear­ance of the body which is es­sen­tial to the story can­not take place. Dick­ens at­tempt­ed to an­swer his crit­ics, but his ci­ta­tions are in no sense con­vinc­ing. Sim­i­lar­ly, in "Edwin Drood" it ap­pears from the text, and it is gen­er­al­ly con­ced­ed, that the body of Drood was to be placed in the Sapsea vault and cov­ered with lime. It is be­lieved that this lime would so far de­stroy the body as to leave no frag­ment for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ex­cept the ring which the young man had with him and of which the mur­der­er was ig­no­rant. As a mat­ter of fact, it would have re­quired many buck­ets of lime to pro­duce any no­table de­struc­tion of tis­sue, and even after a con­sid­er­able time much would have re­mained by which iden­ti­fi­ca­tion could have been made.

It is not per­mis­si­ble to sup­pose that many months elapsed be­fore the de­tec­tion of the crime. The novel seems to have been about half fin­ished; the de­tec­tive who has ap­peared at the scene of the mur­der has al­ready made con­sid­er­able progress in elu­ci­dat­ing the mys­tery and is ob­vi­ous­ly re­gard­ing Jasper as an im­por­tant per­son in the crime.

We will have to imag­ine that Jasper car­ried the lime into the Sapsea vault on the same night that the mur­der was com­mit­ted, and it im­pos­es a lit­tle upon our ca­pac­i­ty for imag­i­na­tion to think of him car­ry­ing so much ma­te­ri­al through the streets of the town, even when the night was stormy and the streets de­sert­ed.

More­over, noth­ing is said as to Dur­dles notic­ing next morn­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of the lime, nor is it clear as to what con­di­tion this was in. Jasper had ob­served it a day or so be­fore. It seems to be prove­cl that Drood was killed by stran­gu­la­tion with the stout silk scarf that Jasper wore on the day of the mur­der. It may be worth while not­ing here that a mur­der of this char­ac­ter ap­pears to have been com­mit­ted in Philadel­phia about twen­ty years ago. A woman was prob­a­bly stran­gled in her bed by a silk hand­ker­chief, wound around the neck tight­ly and tied in two knots. The body was buried in the kitchen of her home and was found some four­teen years af­ter­ward in re­pair­ing the floor of that place. Noth­ing re­mained but a skele­ton, a few frag­ments of cloth, a pock­et­book and the hand­ker­chief, some­what in­jured, but com­plete in its cir­cle with its two knots. I was an ex­pert in the case; heard the de­tails of it, and saw this relic.

It is per­mit­ted, to a lim­it­ed ex­tent, to the au­thor of a work of fic­tion to pass be­yond the bounds of prob­a­bil­i­ty, or at least to set up de­tails in the plot which will not bear strict cross-ex­am­i­na­tion. A great novel pro­duces in the minds of most per­sons ex­act­ly the same ef­fect as true his­to­ry. To most of us who read Dick­ens with earnest­ness and in­ter­est, Mr. Pick­wick is as real as Mr. Glad­stone and Mr. Jef­fer­son; Ham­let, Mac­beth and Lear are as real to the read­ers of Shakspere as is Henry the Eighth or Wolsey. Nev­er­the­less, we all rec­og­nize that we can­not sub­ject these works of fic­tion to the crit­i­cal tests to which we sub­ject writ­ings that are in­tend­ed to record his­to­ry.

Few, if any, of Shakspere's plays are con­sis­tent in re­gard to se­quence in time. I do not mean by this mere­ly that they are not faith­ful to the chronol­o­gy of the pe­ri­od in which the ac­tion is cast. That fact is well known. Shakspere's anachro­nisms are fre­quent and al­most un­prece­dent­ed. He makes Hec­tor quote Aris­to­tle; he makes Ham­let al­lude to can­nons. These in­con­sis­ten­cies do not dis­turb us. The play­wright and the nov­el­ist cre­ate not only the char­ac­ters, but, to a cer­tain ex­tent, a world of fic­tion which has its own meth­ods and move­ments. It is per­mis­si­ble to ge­nius, under these cir­cum­stances, even to make yes­ter­day the day after to-mor­row, which, if we close­ly an­a­lyze plays and nov­els, will be found to be often the case. The time-se­quence in Shakspere's plays has been shown to be so ut­ter­ly in­con­sis­tent with the nor­mal course of af­fairs that one crit­ic has sug­gest­ed the in­tro­duc­tion of two sys­tems of time in most of the plays. Mr. Fitzger­ald has shown the con­fu­sion of time-se­quence in some re­spects in the story of Pick­wick.

Re­turn­ing to the dis­cus­sion of the mur­der of Drood and the dis­pos­al of the body, let us take up the in­ci­dent of the find­ing of the jew­el­ry. It is clear that Dick­ens in­tend­ed, as has been shown by sev­er­al crit­ics, that Jasper should re­move all the jew­el­ry that he knew the young man car­ried.

This is brought out very strong­ly in the in­ter­view with the jew­el­er who tells Drood that Mr. Jasper knows what jew­el­ry he (Drood) car­ries. It is not clear, how­ev­er, how the pres­ence of the watch and stick-pin in the river is to be ex­plained, and there is a bit of what might be called " ex­pert tes­ti­mo­ny" in­tro­duced which can­not be re­gard­ed as sound. The jew­el­er stat­ed that the watch had not been wound since it had been in his shop that af­ter­noon, and that it had run down be­fore being thrown in the water. It does not ap­pear to me that suf­fi­cient de­tails can be ad­duced to jus­ti­fy any such de­ci­sions. It is pos­si­ble that the state­ment is of the type de­nom­i­nat­ed by Mr. Wal­ters "false lights," and that in the de­vel­op­ment of the plot it would ap­pear that Jasper had kept the jew­el­ry for a lit­tle while and thrown it into the river when oc­ca­sion of­fered. It can­not be sup­posed that Drood was mur­dered near the river, for Mr. Land­less, when asked what hap­pened when they went down to look at the river on the night of the dis­ap­pear­ance, said that they stayed on the bank about ten min­utes and then walked back to­geth­er to Mr. Crisparkle's house, where Drood took leave of him, say­ing he was "going straight back." This ex­pres­sion "straight back" means back to Mr. Jasper's house. It is not at all like­ly that Mr. Jasper would then lure him to the river to mur­der him and have the trou­ble of drag­ging the body all the way back to the Sapsea vault. Drood was prob­a­bly mur­dered in Jasper's house or near the ceme­tery.

Con­ced­ing, then, that one phase of "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood," name­ly, Drood's dis­ap­pear­ance, was due to his mur­der and the hid­ing of his body, it is nec­es­sary to con­sid­er the course of events which would have led up to the dis­cov­ery of the crime and the de­tec­tion of the crim­i­nal. For­tu­nate­ly for these in­quries, the novel pro­gressed far enough to in­tro­duce an im­por­tant agent in this work. A per­son ev­i­dent­ly on de­tec­tive duty sud­den­ly ap­pears in Clois­ter­ham. The iden­ti­ty of Mr. Datch­ery has been one of the ques­tions ac­tive­ly, and, one might al­most say, even ac­ri­mo­nious­ly, de­bat­ed. Sev­er­al sup­po­si­tions may be made. In the first place, is he an en­tire­ly new char­ac­ter or is he one of the fa­mil­iar per­sons of the story in dis­guise? So far as the lat­ter fea­ture of the sup­po­si­tion is con­cerned, it may be said with con­fi­dence that we are lim­it­ed to Baz­zard and He­le­na Land­less. In re­cent pub­li­ca­tions on the sub­ject, each of these so­lu­tions finds a stren­u­ous cham­pi­on. Mr. Wal­ters is thor­ough­ly sat­is­fied that the de­tec­tive is He­le­na Land­less; Mr. Charles is just as thor­ough­ly sat­is­fied that he is Mr. Baz­zard.

Each the­o­ry has its dif­fi­cul­ties and its ad­van­tages. It seems as if the ex­ist­ing chap­ters of Edwin Drood have been sprin­kled more lib­er­al­ly than usual with re­marks sug­ges­tive of the course of the plot, but it is a ques­tion how far these ap­par­ent lights, true and false, are the prod­uct of in­tense crit­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, or in­ten­tion­al sug­ges­tions by the au­thor. In all de­part­ments of the so-called "high­er crit­i­cism" the in­flu­ence of the "ex­pect­ed" is very apt to mis­lead. What we ex­pect to find is apt to be found. We are like Fitz­James wan­der­ing through the woods, where "Still from copse and heather deep Fancy saw spear and broadsword peep."

Tak­ing up the the­o­ry that Datch­ery is Miss Land­less, we find the sev­er­al rea­sons in its favor to be her stal­wart, al­most mas­cu­line na­ture; her deep dis­like and mis­trust of Jasper; the ne­ces­si­ty of ac­tive ser­vice to ac­quit her broth­er of the sus­pi­cion which she knows to be un­just; and her friend­ship for Rosa. Early in the story her broth­er tells of how the two of them had run away from home in Cey­lon, she dress­ing for con­ceal­ment in male at­tire. This is sup­posed to be one of the strongest in­di­ca­tions on the part of the au­thor of the abil­i­ty of Miss Land­less to pose as a man, but if Dick­ens in­tend­ed this plan, he sure­ly over­looked some grave, prac­ti­cal ob­jec­tions to its ex­e­cu­tion. There is no com­par­i­son be­tween the dis­guis­es of a young girl in the loose male at­tire of the na­tives of Cey­lon and the close-fit­ting dress of an En­glish cathe­dral town. Fur­ther­more, in Cey­lon the dis­guise, even if in­suf­fi­cient to con­ceal the sex, would have ex­cit­ed no par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion among a large pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, who have noth­ing like the stan­dards of pro­pri­ety that exist in the set­tled so­cial cir­cles in which the de­tec­tive work was being done. We have to imag­ine that a young woman, fully de­vel­oped, was able, for a con­sid­er­able pe­ri­od, to mas­quer­ade as a man in the midst of peo­ple who had known her for some months. It seems im­pos­si­ble that she could have es­caped dis­cov­ery for even an hour. Mrs. Tope would sure­ly have de­tect­ed her sex, if not her iden­ti­ty. Her voice would have be­trayed her to those who had met her pre­vi­ous­ly. Mr. Wal­ters is fully aware of this dif­fi­cul­ty in his the­o­ry, and he meets it by the state­ment (page 85) that "so far as the records in the story go, He­le­na and" Jasper only met once face to face, and it is of the "ut­most sig­nif­i­cance that Dick­ens does not rep­re­sent them as ex­chang­ing a sin­gle word."

This is, how­ev­er, not jus­ti­fied by the text. It is true that dur­ing the din­ner, at which, under or­di­nary cir­cum­stances, there would have been ample op­por­tu­ni­ty for con­ver­sa­tion, the ex­traor­di­nary Mr. Hon­eythun­der mo­nop­o­lized the con­ver­sa­tion to such an ex­tent that, as Mr. Crisparkle said, Mr. Neville did not even get a chance to speak to his sis­ter. Later, how­ev­er, the phi­lan­thropist was hur­ried off to the om­nibus. It was five min­utes' walk from the house to the om­nibus sta­tion, and Mr. Crisparkle and Mr. Land­less not only walked there and back, but took sev­er­al extra turns to com­plete their con­ver­sa­tion, and prior to the last stroll stood at the house door and heard "a cheer­ful sound of voic­es and laugh­ter." We must as­sume at least twen­ty min­utes of time for their ab­sence, and it does not seem at all like­ly that He­le­na Land­less was silent. Mr. Jasper must have heard her voice and seen the play of ex­pres­sion on her fea­tures quite suf­fi­cient­ly to rec­og­nize her under such dis­guise as that which Mr. Datch­ery as­sumed. There is noth­ing in the char­ac­ter of He­le­na Land­less which would lead us to as­sume that she could act suc­cess­ful­ly the mas­cu­line part in the sense in which she is sup­posed to have done. That she had un­usu­al courage for a woman, great self-con­trol, great ca­pac­i­ty for sac­ri­fice and de­vo­tion, is un­doubt­ed, but these do not give mas­culin­i­ty of de­port­ment. All that we see of her is that she re­tained fully her wom­an­li­ness. There is no rea­son to sup­pose that in the dis­guise which she as­sumed in child­hood, she had suc­cess­ful­ly im­i­tat­ed the mas­cu­line man­ners. Ac­cord­ing to the story, these mas­querad­ings oc­curred be­tween the ages of 7 and 13, and there is a great dif­fer­ence, as I have said, be­tween such a girl putting on male at­tire in Cey­lon and a woman of 21 at­tempt­ing the same in an En­glish city. That He­le­na Land­less was 21, we know from the ob­ser­va­tions of Mr. Hon­eythun­der that his wards were of age and had been dis­missed from his con­trol. Con­cern­ing the recog­ni­tion of the voice, it must be borne in mind that Mr. Jasper is cred­it­ed with es­pe­cial acute­ness in such mat­ters; he was able to dis­tin­guish Dur­dles' keys by sound.

In­ci­den­tal ob­jec­tions have also ap­pealed to Mr. Wal­ters, par­tic­u­lar­ly that on page 80 of his book, con­cern­ing the meals that Datch­ery or­dered. He dis­miss­es this ob­jec­tion briefly, but his ex­pla­na­tion does not ap­peal to me. Nor is his ar­gu­ment con­cern­ing the pe­cu­liar method of keep­ing the record of in­ves­ti­ga­tions at all sat­is­fac­to­ry. We may un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of the chalk marks, but the dif­fi­cul­ty is how could Miss Land­less ac­quire any knowl­edge of that method. Nor is there any ne­ces­si­ty for it, since she could keep to her­self the mem­o­ran­da, and the hand­writ­ing con­se­quent­ly would be of no sig­nif­i­cance. Mr. Wal­ters' idea is that it was nec­es­sary to have some method by which the hand­writ­ing should be con­cealed, but it does not ap­pear that there would be any ne­ces­si­ty for the de­tec­tive to write down any­thing. It seems more like­ly that this chalk-mark sys­tem of keep­ing scores was in­tend­ed to be brought in at a later pe­ri­od of the novel in a re­la­tion that can­not be de­ter­mined from the ex­ist­ing text. In a re­cent com­mu­ni­ca­tion in The Dick­en­sian, Mr. Wal­ters has re­it­er­at­ed his con­fi­dence in his the­o­ry, and an­tag­o­nizes that of Mr. Charles, who holds that Datch­ery was Baz­zard. Mr. Wal­ters dis­miss­es the Baz­zard the­o­ry with the state­ment that most of the in­di­ca­tions upon which Mr. Charles re­lies are false lights in­tend­ed by the au­thor to lead to just such an er­ro­neous opin­ion. It seems to me, how­ev­er, that it is not sound crit­i­cism to thus make fish of one set of state­ments and flesh of the other. We are per­fect­ly at lib­er­ty to re­gard some of the clues that Mr. Wal­ters of­fers in sup­port of his the­o­ry as false lights. I re­peat here the cau­tion that view­ing these texts with such minute­ly crit­i­cal meth­ods, with, as Mr. Samuel Weller would have said, "A pair of patent, dou­ble mil­lion, mag­ni­fy­ing gas mi­cro­scopes of hex­tra power," we see many things that the au­thor did not in­tend. Dick­ens was rep­re­sent­ing, in ac­cor­dance with his meth­ods, live peo­ple, deal­ing with the se­ri­ous is­sues of life, and mov­ing and hav­ing their being in an En­glish town. Not every ut­ter­ance is preg­nant. Much of the con­ver­sa­tion is framed to meet artis­tic re­quire­ments; every char­ac­ter of im­por­tance must be given such a part to play as shall clear­ly in­di­cate to the read­er the tem­per­a­ment and moral prin­ci­ples rep­re­sent­ed. Some of the ac­count, there­fore, which Mr. Land­less gives to his tutor con­cern­ing his sis­ter may not have so deep a sig­nif­i­cance as that which Mr. Wal­ters at­tach­es to it.

Nor can I ac­cept the view, upon which Mr. Wal­ters in­sists so strong­ly, that Baz­zard is a stupid per­son mere­ly put in to be an ob­ject of ridicule. I think it not at all un­rea­son­able to sup­pose that the facts of the un­pro­duced play and its title, "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety," were in­tro­duced to be made part of the later de­vel­op­ments of the plot. The sub­or­di­nate po­si­tion of Baz­zard need not be re­gard­ed as ren­der­ing him un­avail­able for de­tec­tive duty. Mr. Nad­gett is mere­ly a man kept "at a pound a week" to in­ves­ti­gate the per­sons ap­ply­ing for pro­tec­tion in Mr. Tigg's com­pa­ny. How­ev­er, it must be said that, in spite of all that has been writ­ten, the iden­ti­ty of Datch­ery is in doubt, and it is as like­ly as not that he was not any char­ac­ter so far pre­sent­ed in the book.

Other phas­es of the novel de­serve con­sid­er­a­tion. I have been in­ter­est­ed in com­par­ing it with "Our Mu­tu­al Friend, "which as its im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor will be worth while study­ing to see if the two works pos­sess any pe­cu­liar­i­ties in com­mon.

We find at once strik­ing re­sem­blances, all the more so be­cause they are fea­tures that do not ap­pear in the other nov­els. Both nov­els have for a promi­nent mo­tive the be­trothal of a cou­ple by the "dead hand." Dif­fer­ences of de­tail are, of course, noted, but the mo­tive is not found in any of the other great sto­ries. Fur­ther, in each of them a mur­der­ous ri­val­ry for the love of a woman forms a promi­nent fea­ture. Here again the de­tails dif­fer; the be­trothed hero­ine of "Our Mu­tu­al Friend" is not the ob­ject of this ri­val­ry, but the hero­ine of "Edwin Drood" is. The point is that Dick­ens had never be­fore in­tro­duced into his nov­els a man­i­fes­ta­tion of love so strong as to lead to a great crime. It is of no im­por­tance that the at­tempt on Wray­burn failed. It was in­tend­ed to be a mur­der. Ri­val­ries in love are to be found in the ear­li­er nov­els, but most of them are lit­tle more than nom­i­nal, and lead to com­e­dy not tragedy. Simon's love for Dolly; Uriah's thoughts of Agnes; John's fond­ness for Amy; Bob's in­ten­tions to­wards Ara­bel­la; all these are of sec­ondary in­ter­est, and al­most al­ways when brought to no­tice are used for pro­duc­ing amus­ing sit­u­a­tions. Even in the deep­er touch­es of pas­sion, as in the cases of Cark­er, Maid­en, Hart­house and Steer­forth, the trag­ic fea­ture that so often in real life fol­lows upon such re­la­tions is kept out by spe­cial meth­ods.

It is mat­ter of some lit­tle won­der to the Amer­i­can mind that Dick­ens' nov­els show so lit­tle of the per­son­al­i­ty of the An­gli­can cler­gy. From other En­glish lit­er­a­ture it would seem that its hi­er­ar­chy is nu­mer­ous and that it in­flu­ences pro­found­ly En­glish so­ci­ety. The cler­gy­men of the nov­els of Dick­ens are gen­er­al­ly non-con­formists and are held up to ridicule. He did not seem to see any pos­si­bil­i­ty of sin­cer­i­ty or phi­los­o­phy in them. In "Our Mu­tu­al Friend," the Rev­erend Mr. Mil­vey ap­pears. He is but a faint fig­ure in the story, but he is given an at­trac­tive per­son­al­i­ty. In "Edwin Drood" a cler­i­cal fig­ure is given great promi­nence. Yet it is to be noted that the au­thor's won­der­ful ca­pac­i­ty for see­ing char­ac­ter com­pelled him to pre­sent the high­er dig­ni­tary — the Dean — in a de­cid­ed­ly unattrac­tive light. The con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the Dean and the Minor Canon rel­a­tive to the re­lin­quish­ment of the lat­ter's tu­tor­ship of Neville is one of the most dra­mat­ic para­graphs in the work, and shows that, how­ev­er strong had be­come the au­thor's in­ter­est in the church, he could not over­look the def­er­ence to con­ven­tion often noted in its more fa­vored dig­ni­taries.

It is con­ced­ed also that in the last novel Dick­ens pro­fess­ed­ly un­der­took to de­vel­op an in­tri­cate plot. It is doubt­ful, how­ev­er, if he would have suc­ceed­ed. Un­less the later chap­ters of "Edwin Drood" were to fol­low a dif­fer­ent course from those that are be­fore us, the out­come of the main ac­tion of the novel would have been de­tect­ed long be­fore the last chap­ter ap­peared. We have, how­ev­er, quite enough of the text to show that the great au­thor's ten­den­cies had un­der­gone ma­te­ri­al change, and that had he lived the full pe­ri­od of three­score and ten, he would have prob­a­bly added sev­er­al sto­ries that would have con­trast­ed strong­ly in­tone and method with his ear­li­er work. Yet it must not be over­looked that in the ear­li­est pe­ri­od of his ca­reer he had given ev­i­dence of great ver­sa­til­i­ty, for Pick­wick was im­me­di­ate­ly fol­lowed by "Oliv­er Twist." It would be dif­fi­cult to find two nov­els as dif­fer­ent in mo­tive and phase as these.

An­oth­er in­ter­est­ing in­quiry sug­gests it­self. What part was it in­tend­ed that Mr. Hon­eythun­der should play? Is he mere­ly a pass­ing fig­ure, in­tro­duced to en­able the au­thor to ex­press views on one phase of the move­ment for so­cial re­form in Eng­land, or would he have been used later to as­sist or delay the re­al­iza­tion of the plot? He dom­i­nates the story when­ev­er he ap­pears, and from the ac­ri­mo­nious dis­cus­sion with Mr. Crisparkle it seems that the es­pe­cial ob­ject of Dick­ens' dis­ap­proval was the tem­per­ance move­ment. I see in the char­ac­ter of Hon­eythun­der a symp­tom of the chang­ing point of view as to so­ci­ol­o­gy that had been brought about by the in­creas­ing years and in­creas­ing sat­is­fac­tion with life, the usual re­sult when life has been suc­cess­ful both as to fame and for­tune.

We can feel tol­er­a­bly sure as to the main course of the novel, but the de­tails are un­ob­tain­able. We must say of the work, as Longfel­low said of Hawthorne:

"Ah! Who shall lift that wand of magic power,
And the lost clew re­gain?
The un­fin­ished win­dow in Al­addin's tower
Un­fin­ished must re­main."