The View Halloa – The Musgrave Ritual

“I was already firmly convinced, Watson, that there were not three separate mysteries here, but only one, and that if I could read the Musgrave Ritual aright I should hold in my hand the clue which would lead me to the truth concerning both the butler Brunton and the maid Howells.” So said Sherlock Holmes in a brilliantly clear and concise summary of this week’s story. And what a fascinating story! This is as clear a demonstration as you will ever see of just how riveting a mystery can be even when the detective never has to throw a punch, dodge a bullet or romance a woman. So journey with us now to Hurlstone, as the Hounds pace off the steps that will take us to the secret of the ancient and perhaps slightly dotty Musgrave family.
Holmes the Storyteller: I find it interesting that “The ‘Gloria Scott'” and “The Musgrave Ritual” should appear side-by-side in the Canon. They are both tales of Holmes’s early career, and they are both told by Holmes himself. And unlike the later stories of “The Blanched Soldier” and “The Lion’s Mane,” these Holmes-told tales are very satisfying, particularly “The Musgrave Ritual,” which finds a place on almost everyone’s list of the “top ten” Sherlock Holmes stories. Why is that “The Gloria Scott” and “The Musgrave Ritual,” the tales which Holmes told aloud to Watson, turn out so much better than the stories that Holmes transcribed himself? Was Holmes better at telling a story aloud than he was at writing? Or did Watson do a bit of editing when he wrote the cases down, thereby organizing Holmes’s thoughts into more pleasing literary form? If this is the case, may we conclude then that some of the improbabilities of “The Musgrave Ritual” are due to Watson’s manipulation or his faulty memory?

Speaking of faults, there are three facets of this case that I would like to bring up for discussion. First, what was the cause of Brunton’s death? The butler’s body was discovered about a week after he disappeared – too short a time span for him to have died from lack or food or even from lack of water. Holmes seems to have believed that Brunton suffocated, but did a postmortem confirm this? Was the chamber airtight when the stone was in place? And since there were fungi there, perhaps a biologist among the Hounds could confirm this point: can fungi live and grow without oxygen?

Second, why did “some months” elapse between Brunton’s question about the elm tree and his descent into the treasure chamber? Did it take him that long to figure out the rest of the Ritual? Did it take him that long to patch things up with Rachel Howells?

Third, if Musgrave made no effort to conceal the Ritual, did it take the supposedly first-rate intellect of Brunton fully twenty years to figure it out? Or was snooping among the family papers a hobby that Brunton only took up later in his career? If the latter, what might have happened to change Brunton from a trustworthy employee into a sneaky treasure-seeker? A mid-life crisis? The demands of his new girlfriend?

Reginald Musgrave: Holmes says that at school, Musgrave “more than once… expressed a keen interest in my methods.” Does that strike you as odd for a man of Musgrave’s station in life? Musgrave shows flashes of intelligence during the adventure, including his decision to seek out Holmes to solve the mystery. But what was Musgrave really like? Was he a basically decent man? Was his behavior towards Brunton and Howells typical of “the ruling class,” or do you think he was a cut above – or below – the standard of his day?

Holmes was the one who suggested that the local constables be present for the opening of the treasure-hole. This was very sound procedure for the amateur detective, of course, but do you think it might indicate that Holmes had at least some suspicions that Musgrave himself might have been involved in Brunton’s disappearance? After all, Holmes said that he expected to find all the answers to the mystery once the stone was lifted and the body discovered, and he was disappointed when that did not prove to be the case. Did Holmes suspect Musgrave at any time? Was Holmes completely satisfied with his logically deduced solution to the case?

The View Halloa – The Beryl Coronet

There is a popular saying that “no good deed goes unpunished,” and surely there is proof of this in the life and career of Alexander Holder. A loving and indulgent father, he saw his son growing into a spoiled spendthrift. In giving shelter to his orphaned niece, he laid himself open to betrayal. And in trying to help one of the “most exalted names in England” out of a temporary money problem, Holder risked public and private disgrace. But he wasn’t a complete fool. At least he had the sense to heed the suggestion from the police that he should consult Sherlock Holmes in the case. Next up: The Hounds leave their footprints in the snow as they track the missing fragment of “The Beryl Coronet.” I trust that we won’t find ourselves over a beryl on this one!
Don’t bank on it: It seems to me that Holder didn’t have much choice but to grant that foolish loan to his “illustrious client,” and I blame the client himself for that part of the crazy proceedings. (I see Mr. Holder as having a great resemblance to Mr. Drysdale of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”) But having given out the money and received the coronet as security, whatever possessed Holder to take it home with him and put it in his bureau – and then to tell his whole family what he had and where it was hidden? If this was a typical display of Holder’s judgment and discretion, how on earth did he ever manage to become the senior partner of a banking firm?

Still, I think the ultimate in bone-headedness is the fact that even after the attempted theft and the damage to the coronet, Holder was still keeping the blessed thing in that same bureau drawer! But we can’t entirely blame Holder, can we? Not even Sherlock Holmes, far less the official police, seemed to have a problem with keeping the coronet there until its missing part was found! Didn’t it occur to somebody to lock it up in a safe for a change?

Sherlock Holmes aces the case: We’ve discussed some adventures in which Holmes either didn’t handle the case well, or else didn’t have much to do at all, but “The Beryl Coronet” shows off his observation and reasoning talents at their best. His people skills were also in top form. Professional yet kindly, he soothed his hysterical client, solved the case and retrieved the missing jewels. He made it look easy. And yet, there is a point in the story where he told Watson, “I may be on the trail in this matter, or I may be following a will-o’-the-wisp.” As matters turned out, he was decidedly on the trail. What do you think it was that caused Holmes to doubt his theories? Would he have been able to solve this case without the lucky chance of the recent snowfall?

Watson’s limited involvement is also worthy of note. “My friend insisted that I accompany them in their expedition” to Holder’s house, but then he was excluded from Holmes’s scouting trip to Sir George Burnwell’s house. There’s nothing unusual up to a certain point: one man dressed as a common loafer was able to strike up an acquaintance with the valet, but a pair of loafers might not have yielded the pair of boots that Holmes wanted. But why didn’t Holmes take Watson along when he confronted the supposedly dangerous Sir George? Was Holmes still unsure of his conclusions? Was he being protective of Watson? Was there something else about the crime which needed hushing up? For example, did Holmes think there might be a connection between Sir George Burnwell and the exalted person who pawned the coronet?

And why did Holmes downplay such danger as there was in this adventure? Normally, Holmes was only too happy to paint a vivid pictures of the perils involved in his investigations, but it was not until the case was nearly over that he revealed Sir George Burnwell to be “one of the most dangerous men in England.” Why do you suppose he kept the thief’s violent nature a secret in this instance? And should there have been a bit more concern over Mary’s future with Burnwell, despite her own guilt in the attempted theft?

The View Halloa – The Man with the Twisted Lip

An opium den! That sordid yet oddly romantic atmosphere of smoke, dreams and danger! Our beloved Watson leaves the bright comfort of his home to descend, like Orpheus, into the dark underworld of the Lascar’s lair. But unlike Orpheus, Watson finds that good things happen when he looks behind him. Whom should he discover but Sherlock Holmes in disguise, hot on a case, and with a fast horse and trap waiting down the street! Which of us wouldn’t jot a quick note of explanation to the spouse and go along with the great detective?! In a moment: A trio of wandering husbands, a Rascally Lascar, and a vision of mousseline de soie, as we discuss “The Man with the Twisted Lip!”

A Trusty Comrade: This story begins with a very special sitting room scene: the room is not in 221B Baker Street, and the two people are not Holmes and Watson, but rather Watson and his wife (presumably Mary, in between visits to her mother.) The doorbell rings – is it a client? And why not? Watson tells us that “Folk who were in grief came to my wife like birds to a light-house.” It reminds me of Holmes, whom Watson described as the “unofficial adviser and helper to everybody.” It’s fascinating to think that Watson found some of the same qualities in his wife that he admired in his best friend. Do you think Mary Watson and Sherlock Holmes were similar in any other respects besides their inclination to help people in trouble? (I suspect Holmes never called his friend “James,” at any rate. . . .)

While Mary stayed with Kate Whitney, Watson went alone to the Bar of Gold, and by pure coincidence, this was the very place where Sherlock Holmes happened to be working on his latest case. But was it a coincidence that Watson should have come to the very same opium den? Can any of the Hounds construct a scenario in which Holmes somehow arranged for Kate Whitney to visit the Watsons?

One of the facts I recently discovered when reading the book Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon, is that the “proper” position for smoking opium – the one that gives the best results – is recumbent, with the head on a small pillow. For Holmes to sit upright to do his smoking would have been noticeable at the least, and a dead giveaway at the worst. Did the Lascar see through Holmes’s disguise? If so, why didn’t Holmes end up as one of the bodies who left the den by way of that notorious trap door to the river?

A Standing Question: Mrs. St. Clair’s doorway appearance in her sheer nightie is a standing joke as well as a standing question among Sherlockians. But are there aspects of this lady which even her mousseline de soie does not reveal? Consider the following facts: Mrs. St. Clair was not afraid to go to London by herself to pick up a parcel from the Aberdeen Shipping Company, even though its office was obviously in a bad part of town. She did not hesitate to open the door of her home to Sherlock Holmes, a man she hardly knew. Nor did she bat an eye when he brought a friend along with him. When she saw her husband’s face at the Lascar’s window, she never hesitated to rush right down into the opium den to come to his rescue. When Holmes asked her if her husband showed any signs of taking opium, she apparently did not need to ask what those signs might be.

Given these facts, how about a few questions: Had Mrs. St. Clair figured out that her husband did not have any regular business contacts in the city, and was she determined to find out where he went and what he did? Was there really a package waiting for her at the shipping company, or did she have some other reason to be in that neighborhood of London? If there was a package for her, what was in it? Did Holmes in fact suspect Mrs. St. Clair of some complicity in her husband’s disappearance? Did he bring Watson back with him to her house in part to see what her reaction would be when he showed up with a second man whom she would at first imagine to be her missing husband? Would Holmes have brought “John” the driver along with him to the Cedars for “protection” if he hadn’t bumped into Watson?

The View Halloa – A Case of Identity

Poor Mary Sutherland! She’s good-natured, rather nearsighted, and not exactly the brightest gas-lamp on the street. We feel sorry for her, and we are as outraged at her stepfather’s duplicity as we are frustrated with her failure to see through his disguise. Still, Mary had just enough sense to ask Sherlock Holmes for help. Or was that another mistake? Next up: some of the questions that must be asked whenever Mary Sutherland’s case is discussed, plus some thoughts on a few alternative directions for conversation. And by the way, why is it that plumbing and sex seem to go hand in hand in the pages of the Canon?
There’s Something About Mary: Let’s get them out in the open right at the start: those two questions that everyone wonders about in “A Case of Identity”: 1) How could Mary Sutherland be fooled by her stepfather’s disguise? and 2) Why didn’t Holmes tell her the truth about Hosmer Angel? We cannot get around these questions, no matter what other spin we might put on the story.

Along with these fundamentals, a few other thoughts come to mind. Would the Windibank/Sutherland household have been headed for rough waters even without young Mary’s inheritance from her Uncle Ned? What else was going on in that family? Was Windibank secretly (or openly) attracted to Mary all along? If so, then why didn’t he marry her in the first place, instead of her mother? Another idea: an abusive husband will sometimes choose to torment his spouse through her children. Was Windibank’s Hosmer Angel scheme part of his on-going abuse of both women? Did Mary’s mother go along with the “joke” because she was afraid?

Or was Windibank merely a greedy and selfish fool, a man who concocted what seemed (to him) a harmless way to keep Mary and her income at home for a bit longer? Did his own scheme run away with him? Do you think that Holmes was right or wrong in his assessment of Windibank as a felon in the making? Do you think his contact with Holmes frightened him into better behavior?

Parallel Cases: Holmes solved the riddle of Hosmer Angel faster than Mary Sutherland could produce a page of typescript, due mainly to his familiarity with those “parallel cases.” But the most interesting parallel of all may be the case with a completely different sort of woman – that of Irene Adler. The internal evidence indicates that “A Case of Identity” took place after “A Scandal in Bohemia” and before “The Red-Headed League.” Irene Adler and Mary Sutherland are nearly side-by-side in the Canon. Did Watson intend for us to compare the two women? Consider the following:

Irene: Resolute
Mary: Amiable
Irene: A face a man might die for
Mary: A vacuous face

Irene: Happily married at the end of the story
Mary: Left in the lurch without an explanation

Irene: Temporarily fooled by a disguise, but clever enough to turn the tables on Sherlock Holmes
Mary: Totally fooled by a disguise

Irene: An “Adventuress” (some might even say that she was a prostitute)
Mary: Supplemented her inherited income by doing boring, but honest, work

Yes, Irene had a lot of natural advantages that Mary didn’t have, and we Sherlockians tend to romanticize Irene Adler and shake our heads over Mary Sutherland. Are we being fair to Mary? What do you suppose Holmes and Watson thought about the merits and failings of the two women?

The View Halloa – The Red-Headed League

“As a rule,” said Sherlock Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be.” Holmes was right: he seems to have solved much of this mystery the instant he heard the description of Jabez Wilson’s assistant, and nearly all the rest of it while smoking those now-famous three pipes. But mystery isn’t everything, and we, like Watson, share Holmes’s “love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and the humdrum routine of everyday life.” You’ve got to hand it to John Clay and his friend for coming up with so bizarre, so ingenious — and so hilarious — a scheme as “The Red-Headed League!”

I have picked two characters in this story to help us get the ball rolling, but if I know the Hounds, it won’t be long before we find ourselves discussing dates and tunnels, French gold and German music, earrings and rubbers. And why not? Though we may begin with generalities and suppositions, it is in the details that our theories will be verified or disproved.

Jabez Wilson: Was there anything the matter with Jabez Wilson’s eyes? He seemed to have some difficulty locating the newspaper advertisement to show to Holmes. Was this merely “old sight,” or does Watson’s description of Wilson’s eyes as “small, fat-encircled,” hint at some particular ailment? (Any eye doctors or eye experts out there?) How old was Wilson at the time of the story? And how did John Clay get so lucky as to find so perfect a “mark” as Wilson, in just the right place at the right time? Or was it luck?

Wilson said to Holmes, “I had heard that you were good enough to give advice to poor folk who were in need of it.” Did Wilson think of himself as poor/impecunious as well as poor/unfortunate? Did Clay overdo it by paying Wilson so grand a sum as four pounds a week for his services? Holmes explained that the amount was “a lure which must draw him,” but was it the loss of so rich a prize that sent Wilson running for help when the money stopped coming? Had the amount been smaller, or Wilson better off, do you think that he might have been more inclined to let the matter drop without a fuss once the Red-Headed League disbanded?

Mr. Merryweather: It seems to me that Watson took an instant dislike to the bank director Mr. Merryweather and his “oppressively respectable” frock coat. Is one frock coat any more oppressive than another? Did Watson have some special reason to hate bankers in general? What might have made Merryweather miss his rubber twenty-seven years earlier?

What did Holmes mean when he said that Merryweather was “personally interested” in the matter? Wouldn’t Merryweather’s position as chairman of the bank directors make his interest in the robbery a professional interest, rather than a personal one? How would a person get to be on the board of directors of a bank? I note that Holmes’s comments about Merryweather were made when Holmes and Watson were alone in the second hansom, out of earshot of the other two men. Was there something else going on here? Ever wonder how Clay knew about the French gold? An inside tip, perhaps, from a very reliable source? And why did Merryweather strike his stick upon the flagstones in the vault? Was he trying to warn Clay? Do you think Holmes may have added Merryweather to his bag later on?

The View Halloa – A Scandal in Bohemia

It is the first story in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and it is also the first of what we might call the stories of legend: those Canonical tales that have inspired our imaginations far beyond the events that Watson wrote down. It’s those larger-than-life characters who seem to do the trick for us. We already have Holmes and Watson, legends enough for anyone, but just as “The Greek Interpreter” reveals brother Mycroft Holmes, and “The Final Problem” outlines the evil figure of Moriarty, “A Scandal in Bohemia” introduces a character so compelling that she pervades our image of Sherlock Holmes forever after. Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory – to us, she is always “the woman!”

A Legend is Born: There’s no doubt that Irene Adler fascinates us, but was she, after all, such a very big deal to Sherlock Holmes? Shouldn’t we be just a bit skeptical of a woman who apparently enjoyed the company of a bounder like the King of Bohemia? Was Irene anything more to Sherlock Holmes than a valuable lesson in the perils of underestimating an opponent – a living, breathing “Norbury,” whose picture he kept in a handy place for those times when he felt that his swelling ego needed an ice-pack?

Is it possible that Irene’s aura is little more than the reflected glow from Watson’s own happiness with Mary, and his well-meaning wish that Holmes should experience the joys of love? If so, Watson picked an odd love object for his friend: a woman who was newly married to someone else. Or was Watson really the one more seriously smitten with Irene, whom he described as a “beautiful creature” with a “superb figure?” Either way, was Watson trying to transfer his feelings to Holmes? And are most of us just romantic enough to be taken in by it all?

“You don’t mind breaking the law?”: Nobody in this story seems to mind breaking the law, but the really amazing aspect of the whole thing is just how ineffectual these lawbreakers are. Consider the useless bunch that the King of Bohemia originally hired to waylay and search Irene Adler. Who were these people? Were they the King’s own underlings, or were they members of some criminal band? If the latter, were they hired directly by the “Count Von Kramm?” Did the King enjoy forays into “life’s other side?”

Why didn’t the King come to Holmes first? He had heard of Holmes’s “recent” service to one of royal houses of Europe, and there were others from whom the King had received good reports of Holmes. So why not start with the best? Irene Adler had been warned that Holmes would be called in. How did all these people know about Holmes? Unless they had read Watson’s publications, few would have known of his exploits in STUD or SIGN, since Scotland Yard had grabbed most of the credit in the newspaper accounts. Can we infer that Holmes was actually better known in those days for his handling of delicate personal matters rather than criminal cases?

Still, Holmes didn’t fare much better than the King’s original hirelings, though he had better luck than he deserved. How would Holmes’s elaborate “fire” scheme have worked if the photograph had been hidden in Irene’s bedroom? As it was, he discovered Irene’s hiding place, but he failed to recover the item. I know the question has been asked many times before, but I’m going to ask it again: Why did Holmes wait until morning to return to Irene’s villa? Why not burgle the place overnight, gaining entry through those windows “which a child could open?” Was his delay solely due to his arrogance? Or did he have plans to go back, but was thwarted by some event that Watson either did not know or would not tell?

The View Halloa – The Sign of Four

“I’d like two shillin’ better,” said little Jack Smith, and there are plenty of characters in The Sign of Four who followed his philosophy. But there are also the knights errant: Holmes, working for the love of his art, and Watson, working for love. The story could serve as a study in Victorian ambivalence toward the desirability of wealth versus the acceptable means of AGRA-ndizement. Luckily for us readers, however, this is a study that comes complete with a missing treasure, a chilling murder, some classic deductions by Sherlock Holmes, a fascinating pursuit on land, an exciting chase on the river, some sweet romantic moments, a boatload of characters worthy of Dickens — and, as they say, much, much more! Whoever lost a treasure, this is one that we Sherlockians get to keep! (And by the time Jonathan Small finished his boat ride, all<.i> of the gems in the Agra treasure were “of the first water.”)
Money Changes Everything: “Whose was it? His who is gone. Who shall have it?” No, we haven’t started to discuss “The Musgrave Ritual” by mistake: I mean the Agra treasure, of course. Who has a right to it, morally or legally or any way under the sun? And if Mary Morstan had gotten it, would Watson really have had to give up all hopes of marrying her, even if it were partly through his efforts that she came into her wealth? Why was it acceptable for Lord Robert St. Simon, “The Noble Bachelor,” to court Hatty Doran, but not for Watson to propose to Mary? Was there some social double standard at work when it came to marrying for money?

The apportionment of virtue in The Sign of Four is as haphazard as the scattering of the Agra treasure. Murderous little Tonga was “staunch and true” to his friend, while an officer of the British Army broke his most solemn oath in order to satisfy his greed. Jonathan Small and his companions killed Achmet for the treasure, but they remained loyal to each other. His loyalty and candor give a certain appeal to the character of Small, and it surprised me to read of Watson’s disgust and contempt for the unfortunate convict. Are we supposed to share Watson’s sense of outrage, or are we meant to feel sympathetic to Small? Was there a social prejudice in operation at the time the story was written, so that Small was automatically supposed to be cast as the villain in the reader’s eyes, or are we in our times a bit more inclined to excuse crimes if the transgressor himself has suffered some prior injustice?

Sherlock Holmes Demonstrates: Why is Holmes so sure that Lal Rao is the accomplice who gave Small the inside information on the workings of the Sholto household? Isn’t it possible that Mrs. Bernstone was the person with whom Small “made friends?” Is that why she was so upset at the murder of Bartholomew Sholto: because she had helped with the theft, but had been assured there would be no violence?

An aspect of the story that has always puzzled me is Holmes’s apparent certainty that Small would take the Aurora into hiding for a day or two, rather than head straight down the river to rendezvous with an outward-bound ship. Wasn’t it really much more likely that if Small had planned his escape via the steam launch to begin with, he would have timed the theft of the treasure according to the Esmeralda’s scheduled date of departure for “the Brazils?” Can any of the Hounds give a more satisfactory explanation for the delay than the one Holmes gave, an explanation which did not sound completely sea-worthy even to Watson?

Holmes quoted “one of our greatest statesmen” as saying, “A change of work is the best rest.” Is this a genuine quotation, and does anyone know its source?

Details: When Jonathan Small and his friends hid a body and a treasure in the old fort at Agra, the body was found, but not the treasure. Ironically, when Major Sholto hid both a body and a treasure, the treasure was found, but not the body. What do you make of the fact that Mary Morstan never asked if anyone could tell her how to locate her father’s remains?

On the night Bartholomew Sholto’s body was discovered, Athelney Jones arrived on the scene with an inspector in uniform. He called his companion “Sergeant” in one instance and “Inspector” in an another. Can anyone explain Jones’s interchange of the two terms?

Tonga entered Pondicherry Lodge through the roof and tossed down a rope so that Jonathan Small could climb up more easily. The rope was secured to a great hook in the wall. Assuming that the Sholtos didn’t have the hook installed expressly for the convenience of treasure-grabbing intruders, what WAS the hook doing there? Were “great hooks” a popular feature in Victorian decor?

The View Halloa – A Study in Scarlet

It is the first story in the Canon, and we treasure it for its account of the first meeting of our beloved heroes Holmes and Watson. Yet despite its honored position as Holmes’s debut, I wonder how many of us would have established our deep and longstanding passion for the adventures of Sherlock Holmes based only upon this single tale. It seems to me that the first Holmes story is actually more enjoyable when it is read over again after experiencing the full extent of Holmes’s adventures and the full range of his and Watson’s characters. Then indeed do we cherish the moment when it all began, long ago in the chemical laboratory at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Questions:This is where it all began: the published adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and the treasured friendship between Holmes and Watson. On this theme of “firsts,” I have two personal questions to ask the Hounds. When you first read the stories of Sherlock Holmes, did you begin at the beginning with A Study? If you had a non-Sherlockian friend who wanted to see what all the fuss over Sherlock Holmes was about, would you recommend that he or she start here?

But in this age of movies and television, our first reading of A Study in Scarlet or any Holmes story is not likely to be our first impression of Sherlock Holmes. The Hounds have often discussed the merits of the various “major” interpretations of Holmes upon the stage and screen, but isn’t it true that “we hear of Sherlock everywhere,” in everything from cartoons to commercials? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Does Sherlock Holmes “belong” to too many people these days?

We think of Sherlock Holmes as an extremely introverted man, but in this tale, he seems to take a liking to Watson almost immediately, even before learning that Watson is interested in splitting the cost of those lodgings that Holmes cannot afford on his own. For all of his quick deductions about Watson’s profession, his wound and Afghanistan, is it possible that Holmes was expecting someone else to come into the chemical laboratory that day, and that he at first mistakenly supposed Watson to be that person? Who did he think Watson was, and why was he so happy to see him?

The December, 1987, issue of the Baker Street Journal featured a wonderfully insightful article by Jennifer Decker, citing the parallels between A Study and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and comparing Holmes and Watson’s relationship to that of Queequeg and Ishmael. Are there any thoughts among the Hounds as to Holmes’s resemblance (or not) to the strange and prescient harpooner of the Pequod? Do you think that the author of A Study meant to shock us with the unusual character of Sherlock Holmes? Is it possible that Watson was originally meant to be the true focus of the tale, the Everyman-observer of all things bizarre?

The Arrest: It seems to me that Sherlock Holmes chose a very clumsy way of bringing Jefferson Hope into custody. I wonder if Hope was actually startled into his desperate fight — a natural reaction to Holmes’s sudden slapping on of those handcuffs. If Holmes had Hope’s capture to do over, do you think he would choose a different method?

Does anyone else find it interesting that Inspector Lestrade was the one who drove Hope’s cab once the American was in custody? Is it possible that Lestrade knew something of, say, “Shipley’s Yard” before turning his career steps towards Scotland Yard?

Did Sherlock Holmes ever regret that he tracked down Jefferson Hope? Was this one of those cases where Holmes eventually felt he had done more harm in his capture of the criminal than the criminal had done by his crime?