The letter begins, ‘We have just suffered a sad calamity – but as we have been so long enured to misfortune it perhaps falls more lightly upon us than it otherwise would have done’. These words refer to the loss of four of Sir Stamford and Lady Raffles’ five children and many of their closest friends during their time in Bengkulu. The author says he’ll cry like a baby if anything happens to Deal’s Astor Theatre which is struggling through the pandemicThe Stanhope Road venue has struggled during the pandemic.
Certain things are ‘not done’, and the idea of doing them hardly arises. Raffles will not, for example, abuse hospitality. He will commit a burglary in a house where he is staying as a guest, but the victim must be a fellow-guest and not the host. He will not commit murder, and he avoids violence wherever possible and prefers to carry out his robberies unarmed. He regards friendship as sacred, and is chivalrous though not moral in his relations with women.
One of the gang is a young man named Slim, whose sole pleasure in life consists in driving knives into other people’s bellies. In childhood he has graduated by cutting up living animals with a pair of rusty scissors. Slim is sexually impotent, but takes a kind of fancy to Miss Blandish.
Much to Conan Doyle’s consternation, Hornung ignored his advice and went on to publish three volumes of Raffles short stories – The Amateur Cracksman , The Black Mask , and A Thief in the Night ; and one novel, Mr. Justice Raffles . By clicking ‘Sign me up’ I confirm that I’d like to receive updates, special offers, including partner offers, and other information from Simon & Schuster Inc. and the Simon & Schuster family of companies. I understand I can change my preference through my account settings or unsubscribe directly from any marketing communications at any time. We will send you an email with instructions on how to redeem your free eBook, and associated terms. The author’s brother, Theodore, was a ward councillor in Middlesbrough, while his father audited the accounts of the Middlesbrough Improvement Commissioners, forerunners of the town council.
An adolescent in a Glasgow slum worships Al Capone. An aspiring pupil at a business college worships Lord Nuffield. There is a difference in intellectual maturity, but none in moral outlook. Thirty years ago the heroes of popular fiction had nothing in common with Mr. Chase’s gangsters and detectives, and the idols of the English liberal intelligentsia were also comparatively sympathetic figures. Between Holmes and Fenner on the one hand, and between Abraham Lincoln and Stalin on the other, there is a similar gulf. Several other points need noticing before one can grasp the full implications of this book.
The younger of the two men staunchly argued that it was Ian Botham and quoted all manner of records to back up his point. The other gentleman, however, argued that England’s greatest all-rounder was Charles Burgess Fry. When challenged as to why this was so he answered “just because” – and contentedly left it at that.
Hornung was a very conscientious and on his level a very able writer. Anyone who cares for sheer efficiency must admire his work. Raffles is presented to us and this is rubbed home in countless scraps of dialogue and casual remarks — not as an honest man who has gone astray, but as a public-school man who has gone astray.