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The Puzzle of Dickens's Last Plot by Andrew Lang

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Transcribed from the 1905 Chapman and Hall edition by David Price,
email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk

THE PUZZLE OF DICKENS'S LAST PLOT

INTRODUCTION

Forster tells us that Dickens, in his later novels, from Bleak
House onwards (1853), "assiduously cultivated" construction, "this
essential of his art." Some critics may think, that since so many
of the best novels in the world "have no outline, or, if they have
an outline, it is a demned outline," elaborate construction is not
absolutely "essential." Really essential are character,
"atmosphere," humour.

But as, in the natural changes of life, and under the strain of
restless and unsatisfied activity, his old buoyancy and unequalled
high spirits deserted Dickens, he certainly wrote no longer in what
Scott, speaking of himself, calls the manner of "hab nab at a
venture." He constructed elaborate plots, rich in secrets and
surprises. He emulated the manner of Wilkie Collins, or even of
Gaboriau, while he combined with some of the elements of the
detective novel, or roman policier, careful study of character.
Except Great Expectations, none of his later tales rivals in merit
his early picaresque stories of the road, such as Pickwick and
Nicholas Nickleby. "Youth will be served;" no sedulous care could
compensate for the exuberance of "the first sprightly runnings."
In the early books the melodrama of the plot, the secrets of Ralph
Nickleby, of Monk, of Jonas Chuzzlewit, were the least of the
innumerable attractions. But Dickens was more and more drawn
towards the secret that excites curiosity, and to the game of hide
and seek with the reader who tried to anticipate the solution of
the secret.

In April, 1869, Dickens, outworn by the strain of his American
readings; of that labour achieved under painful conditions of
ominously bad health--found himself, as Sir Thomas Watson reported,
"on the brink of an attack of paralysis of his left side, and
possibly of apoplexy." He therefore abandoned a new series of
Readings. We think of Scott's earlier seizures of a similar kind,
after which Peveril, he said, "smacked of the apoplexy." But
Dickens's new story of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, first
contemplated in July, 1869, and altered in character by the
emergence of "a very curious and new idea," early in August, does
not "smack of the apoplexy." We may think that the mannerisms of
Mr. Honeythunder, the philanthropist, and of Miss Twinkleton, the
schoolmistress, are not in the author's best vein of humour. "The
Billickin," on the other hand, the lodging-house keeper, is "in
very gracious fooling:" her unlooked-for sallies in skirmishes with
Miss Twinkleton are rich in mirthful surprises. Mr. Grewgious may
be caricatured too much, but not out of reason; and Dickens, always
good at boys, presents a gamin, in Deputy, who is in not unpleasant
contrast with the pathetic Jo of Bleak House. Opinions may differ
as to Edwin and Rosa, but the more closely one studies Edwin, the
better one thinks of that character. As far as we are allowed to
see Helena Landless, the restraint which she puts on her "tigerish
blood" is admirable: she is very fresh and original. The villain
is all that melodrama can desire, but what we do miss, I think, is
the "atmosphere" of a small cathedral town. Here there is a lack
of softness and delicacy of treatment: on the other hand, the
opium den is studied from the life.

On the whole, Dickens himself was perhaps most interested in his
plot, his secret, his surprises, his game of hide and seek with the
reader. He threw himself into the sport with zest: he spoke to
his sister-in-law, Miss Hogarth, about his fear that he had not
sufficiently concealed his tracks in the latest numbers. Yet, when
he died in June, 1870, leaving three completed numbers still
unpublished, he left his secret as a puzzle to the curious. Many
efforts have been made to decipher his purpose, especially his
intentions as to the hero. Was Edwin Drood killed, or did he
escape?

By a coincidence, in September, 1869, Dickens was working over the
late Lord Lytton's tale for All The Year Round, "The Disappearance
of John Ackland," for the purpose of mystifying the reader as to
whether Ackland was alive or dead. But he was conspicuously
defunct! (All the Year Round, September-October, 1869.)

The most careful of the attempts at a reply about Edwin, a study
based on deep knowledge of Dickens, is "Watched by the Dead," by
the late ingenious Mr. R. A. Proctor (1887). This book, to which I
owe much aid, is now out of print. In 1905, Mr. Cuming Walters
revived "the auld mysterie," in his "Clues to Dickens's Edwin
Drood" (Chapman & Hall and Heywood, Manchester). From the solution
of Mr. Walters I am obliged to dissent. Of Mr. Proctor's theory I
offer some necessary corrections, and I hope that I have unravelled
some skeins which Mr. Proctor left in a state of tangle. As one
read and re-read the fragment, points very dark seemed, at least,
to become suddenly clear: especially one appeared to understand
the meaning half-revealed and half-concealed by Jasper's babblings
under the influence of opium. He saw in his vision, "THAT, I never
saw THAT before." We may be sure that he was to see "THAT" in real
life. We must remember that, according to Forster, "such was
Dickens's interest in things supernatural that, but for the strong
restraining power of his common sense, he might have fallen into
the follies of spiritualism." His interest in such matters
certainly peeps out in this novel--there are two specimens of the
supernormal--and he may have gone to the limited extent which my
hypothesis requires. If I am right, Dickens went further, and
fared worse, in the too material premonitions of "The Signalman" in
Mugby Junction.

With this brief preface, I proceed to the analysis of Dickens's
last plot. Mr. William Archer has kindly read the proof sheets and
made valuable suggestions, but is responsible for none of my
theories.

ANDREW LANG.
ST. ANDREWS,
September 4, 1905.

THE STORY--DRAMATIS PERSONAE

For the discovery of Dickens's secret in Edwin Drood it is
necessary to obtain a clear view of the characters in the tale, and
of their relations to each other.

About the middle of the nineteenth century there lived in
Cloisterham, a cathedral city sketched from Rochester, a young
University man, Mr. Bud, who had a friend Mr. Drood, one of a firm
of engineers--somewhere. They were "fast friends and old college
companions." Both married young. Mr. Bud wedded a lady unnamed,
by whom he was the father of one child, a daughter, Rosa Bud. Mr.
Drood, whose wife's maiden name was Jasper, had one son, Edwin
Drood. Mrs. Bud was drowned in a boating accident, when her
daughter, Rosa, was a child. Mr. Drood, already a widower, and the
bereaved Mr. Bud "betrothed" the two children, Rosa and Edwin, and
then expired, when the orphans were about seven and eleven years
old. The guardian of Rosa was a lawyer, Mr. Grewgious, who had
been in love with her mother. To Grewgious Mr. Bud entrusted his
wife's engagement ring, rubies and diamonds, which Grewgious was to
hand over to Edwin Drood, if, when he attained his majority, he and
Rosa decided to marry.

Grewgious was apparently legal agent for Edwin, while Edwin's
maternal uncle, John Jasper (aged about sixteen when the male
parents died), was Edwin's "trustee," as well as his uncle and
devoted friend. Rosa's little fortune was an annuity producing 250
pounds a-year: Edwin succeeded to his father's share in an
engineering firm.

When the story opens, Edwin is nearly twenty-one, and is about to
proceed to Egypt, as an engineer. Rosa, at school in Cloisterham,
is about seventeen; John Jasper is twenty-six. He is conductor of
the Choir of the Cathedral, a "lay precentor;" he is very dark,
with thick black whiskers, and, for a number of years, has been a
victim to the habit of opium smoking. He began very early. He
takes this drug both in his lodgings, over the gate of the
Cathedral, and in a den in East London, kept by a woman nicknamed
"The Princess Puffer." This hag, we learn, has been a determined
drunkard,--"I drank heaven's-hard,"--for sixteen years BEFORE she
took to opium. If she has been dealing in opium for ten years (the
exact period is not stated), she has been very disreputable for
twenty-six years, that is ever since John Jasper's birth. Mr.
Cuming Walters suggests that she is the mother of John Jasper, and,
therefore, maternal grandmother of Edwin Drood. She detests her
client, Jasper, and plays the spy on his movements, for reasons
unexplained.

Jasper is secretly in love with Rosa, the fiancee of his nephew,
and his own pupil in the musical art. He makes her aware of his
passion, silently, and she fears and detests him, but keeps these
emotions private. She is a saucy school-girl, and she and Edwin
are on uncomfortable terms: she does not love him, while he
perhaps does love her, but is annoyed by her manner, and by the
gossip about their betrothal. "The bloom is off the plum" of their
prearranged loves, he says to his friend, uncle, and confidant,
Jasper, whose own concealed passion for Rosa is of a ferocious and
homicidal character. Rosa is aware of this fact; "a glaze comes
over his eyes," sometimes, she says, "and he seems to wander away
into a frightful sort of dream, in which he threatens most . . . "
The man appears to have these frightful dreams even when he is not
under opium.

OPENING OF THE TALE

The tale opens abruptly with an opium-bred vision of the tower of
Cloisterham Cathedral, beheld by Jasper as he awakens in the den of
the Princess Puffer, between a Chinaman, a Lascar, and the hag
herself. This Cathedral tower, thus early and emphatically
introduced, is to play a great but more or less mysterious part in
the romance: that is certain. Jasper, waking, makes experiments
on the talk of the old woman, the Lascar and Chinaman in their
sleep. He pronounces it "unintelligible," which satisfies him that
his own babble, when under opium, must be unintelligible also. He
is, presumably, acquainted with the languages of the eastern coast
of India, and with Chinese, otherwise, how could he hope to
understand the sleepers? He is being watched by the hag, who hates
him.

Jasper returns to Cloisterham, where we are introduced to the Dean,
a nonentity, and to Minor Canon Crisparkle, a muscular Christian in
the pink of training, a classical scholar, and a good honest
fellow. Jasper gives Edwin a dinner, and gushes over "his bright
boy," a lively lad, full of chaff, but also full of confiding
affection and tenderness of heart. Edwin admits that his betrothal
is a bore: Jasper admits that he loathes his life; and that the
church singing "often sounds to me quite devilish,"--and no wonder.
After this dinner, Jasper has a "weird seizure;" "a strange film
comes over Jasper's eyes," he "looks frightfully ill," becomes
rigid, and admits that he "has been taking opium for a pain, an
agony that sometimes overcomes me." This "agony," we learn, is the
pain of hearing Edwin speak lightly of his love, whom Jasper so
furiously desires. "Take it as a warning," Jasper says, but Edwin,
puzzled, and full of confiding tenderness, does not understand.

In the next scene we meet the school-girl, Rosa, who takes a walk
and has a tiff with Edwin. Sir Luke Fildes's illustration shows
Edwin as "a lad with the bloom of a lass," with a classic profile;
and a gracious head of long, thick, fair hair, long, though we
learn it has just been cut. He wears a soft slouched hat, and the
pea-coat of the period.

SAPSEA AND DURDLES

Next, Jasper and Sapsea, a pompous ass, auctioneer, and mayor, sit
at their wine, expecting a third guest. Mr. Sapsea reads his
absurd epitaph for his late wife, who is buried in a "Monument," a
vault of some sort in the Cathedral churchyard. To them enter
Durdles, a man never sober, yet trusted with the key of the crypt,
"as contractor for rough repairs." In the crypt "he habitually
sleeps off the fumes of liquor." Of course no Dean would entrust
keys to this incredibly dissipated, dirty, and insolent creature,
to whom Sapsea gives the key of his vault, for no reason at all, as
the epitaph, of course, is to be engraved on the outside, by
Durdles's men. However, Durdles insists on getting the key of the
vault: he has two other large keys. Jasper, trifling with them,
keeps clinking them together, so as to know, even in the dark, by
the sound, which is the key that opens Sapsea's vault, in the
railed-off burial ground, beside the cloister arches. He has met
Durdles at Sapsea's for no other purpose than to obtain access at
will to Mrs. Sapsea's monument. Later in the evening Jasper finds
Durdles more or less drunk, and being stoned by a gamin, "Deputy,"
a retainer of a tramp's lodging-house. Durdles fees Deputy, in
fact, to drive him home every night after ten. Jasper and Deputy
fall into feud, and Jasper has thus a new, keen, and omnipresent
enemy. As he walks with Durdles that worthy explains (in reply to
a question by Jasper), that, by tapping a wall, even if over six
feet thick, with his hammer, he can detect the nature of the
contents of the vault, "solid in hollow, and inside solid, hollow
again. Old 'un crumbled away in stone coffin, in vault." He can
also discover the presence of "rubbish left in that same six foot
space by Durdles's men." Thus, if a foreign body were introduced
into the Sapsea vault, Durdles could detect its presence by tapping
the outside wall. As Jasper's purpose clearly is to introduce a
foreign body--that of Edwin who stands between him and Rosa--into
Mrs. Sapsea's vault, this "gift" of Durdles is, for Jasper, an
uncomfortable discovery. He goes home, watches Edwin asleep, and
smokes opium.

THE LANDLESSES

Two new characters are now introduced, Neville and Helena Landless,
{1} twins, orphans, of Cingalese extraction, probably Eurasian;
very dark, the girl "almost of the gipsy type;" both are "fierce of
look." The young man is to read with Canon Crisparkle and live
with him; the girl goes to the same school as Rosa. The education
of both has been utterly neglected; instruction has been denied to
them. Neville explains the cause of their fierceness to
Crisparkle. In Ceylon they were bullied by a cruel stepfather and
several times ran away: the girl was the leader, always "dressed
as a boy, and showing the daring of a man." Edwin Drood's air of
supercilious ownership of Rosa Bud (indicated as a fault of youth
and circumstance, not of heart and character), irritates Neville
Landless, who falls in love with Rosa at first sight. As Rosa
sings, at Crisparkle's, while Jasper plays the piano, Jasper's
fixed stare produces an hysterical fit in the girl, who is soothed
by Helena Landless. Helena shows her aversion to Jasper, who, as
even Edwin now sees, frightens Rosa. "You would be afraid of him,
under similar circumstances, wouldn't you, Miss Landless?" asks
Edwin. "Not under any circumstances," answers Helena, and Jasper
"thanks Miss Landless for this vindication of his character."

The girls go back to their school, where Rosa explains to Helena
her horror of Jasper's silent love-making: "I feel that I am never
safe from him . . . a glaze comes over his eyes and he seems to
wander away into a frightful sort of dream in which he threatens
most," as already quoted. Helena thus, and she alone, except Rosa,
understands Jasper thoroughly. She becomes Rosa's protectress.
"Let whomsoever it most concerned look well to it."

Thus Jasper has a new observer and enemy, in addition to the
omnipresent street boy, Deputy, and the detective old hag of the
opium den.

Leaving the Canon's house, Neville and Edwin quarrel violently over
Rosa, in the open air; they are followed by Jasper, and taken to
his house to be reconciled over glasses of mulled wine. Jasper
drugs the wine, and thus provokes a violent scene; next day he
tells Crisparkle that Neville is "murderous." "There is something
of the tiger in his dark blood." He spreads the story of the
fracas in the town.

Grewgious, Rosa's guardian, now comes down on business; the girl
fails to explain to him the unsatisfactory relations between her
and Edwin: Grewgious is to return to her "at Christmas," if she
sends for him, and she does send. Grewgious, "an angular man," all
duty and sentiment (he had loved Rosa's mother), has an interview
with Edwin's trustee, Jasper, for whom he has no enthusiasm, but
whom he does not in any way suspect. They part on good terms, to
meet at Christmas. Crisparkle, with whom Helena has fallen
suddenly in love, arranges with Jasper that Edwin and Landless
shall meet and be reconciled, as both are willing to be, at a
dinner in Jasper's rooms, on Christmas Eve. Jasper, when
Crisparkle proposes this, denotes by his manner "some close
internal calculation." We see that he is reckoning how the dinner
suits his plan of campaign, and "close calculation" may refer, as
in Mr. Proctor's theory, to the period of the moon: on Christmas
Eve there will be no moonshine at midnight. Jasper, having worked
out this problem, accepts Crisparkle's proposal, and his assurances
about Neville, and shows Crisparkle a diary in which he has entered
his fears that Edwin's life is in danger from Neville. Edwin (who
is not in Cloisterham at this moment) accepts, by letter, the
invitation to meet Neville at Jasper's on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile Edwin visits Grewgious in his London chambers; is
lectured on his laggard and supercilious behaviour as a lover, and
receives the engagement ring of the late Mrs. Bud, Rosa's mother,
which is very dear to Grewgious--in the presence of Bazzard,
Grewgious's clerk, a gloomy writer of an amateur unacted tragedy.
Edwin is to return the ring to Grewgious, if he and Rosa decide not
to marry. The ring is in a case, and Edwin places it "in his
breast." We must understand, in the breast-pocket of his coat: no
other interpretation will pass muster. "Her ring--will it come
back to me?" reflects the mournful Grewgious.

THE UNACCOUNTABLE EXPEDITION

Jasper now tells Sapsea, and the Dean, that he is to make "a
moonlight expedition with Durdles among the tombs, vaults, towers,
and ruins to-night." The impossible Durdles has the keys necessary
for this, "surely an unaccountable expedition," Dickens keeps
remarking. The moon seems to rise on this night at about 7.30 p.m.
Jasper takes a big case-bottle of liquor--drugged, of course and
goes to the den of Durdles. In the yard of this inspector of
monuments he is bidden to beware of a mound of quicklime near the
yard gate. "With a little handy stirring, quick enough to eat your
bones," says Durdles. There is some considerable distance between
this "mound" of quicklime and the crypt, of which Durdles has the
key, but the intervening space is quite empty of human presence, as
the citizens are unwilling to meet ghosts.

In the crypt Durdles drinks a good deal of the drugged liquor.
"They are to ascend the great Tower,"--and why they do that is part
of the Mystery, though not an insoluble part. Before they climb,
Durdles tells Jasper that he was drunk and asleep in the crypt,
last Christmas Eve, and was wakened by "the ghost of one terrific
shriek, followed by the ghost of the howl of a dog, a long dismal,
woeful howl, such as a dog gives when a person's dead." Durdles
has made inquiries and, as no one else heard the shriek and the
howl, he calls these sounds "ghosts."

They are obviously meant to be understood as supranormal
premonitory sounds; of the nature of second sight, or rather of
second hearing. Forster gives examples of Dickens's tendency to
believe in such premonitions: Dickens had himself a curious
premonitory dream. He considerably overdid the premonitory
business in his otherwise excellent story, The Signalman, or so it
seems to a student of these things. The shriek and howl heard by
Durdles are to be repeated, we see, in real life, later, on a
Christmas Eve. The question is--when? More probably NOT on the
Christmas Eve just imminent, when Edwin is to vanish, but, on the
Christmas Eve following, when Jasper is to be unmasked.

All this while, and later, Jasper examines Durdles very closely,
studying the effects on him of the drugged drink. When they reach
the top of the tower, Jasper closely contemplates "that stillest
part of it" (the landscape) "which the Cathedral overshadows; but
he contemplates Durdles quite as curiously."

There is a motive for the scrutiny in either case. Jasper examines
the part of the precincts in the shadow of the Cathedral, because
he wishes to assure himself that it is lonely enough for his later
undescribed but easily guessed proceedings in this night of
mystery. He will have much to do that could not brook witnesses,
after the drugged Durdles has fallen sound asleep. We have already
been assured that the whole area over which Jasper is to operate is
"utterly deserted," even when it lies in full moonlight, about 8.30
p.m. "One might fancy that the tide of life was stemmed by Mr.
Jasper's own gate-house." The people of Cloisterham, we hear,
would deny that they believe in ghosts; but they give this part of
the precinct a wide berth (Chapter XII.). If the region is
"utterly deserted" at nine o'clock in the evening, when it lies in
the ivory moonlight, much more will it be free from human presence
when it lies in shadow, between one and two o'clock after midnight.
Jasper, however, from the tower top closely scrutinizes the area of
his future operations. It is, probably, for this very purpose of
discovering whether the coast be clear or not, that Jasper climbs
the tower.

He watches Durdles for the purpose of finding how the drug which he
has administered works, with a view to future operations on Edwin.
Durdles is now in such a state that "he deems the ground so far
below on a level with the tower, and would as lief walk off the
tower into the air as not."

All this is apparently meant to suggest that Jasper, on Christmas
Eve, will repeat his expedition, WITH EDWIN, whom he will have
drugged, and that he will allow Edwin to "walk off the tower into
the air." There are later suggestions to the same effect, as we
shall see, but they are deliberately misleading. There are also
strong suggestions to the very opposite effect: it is broadly
indicated that Jasper is to strangle Edwin with a thick black-silk
scarf, which he has just taken to wearing for the good of his
throat.

The pair return to the crypt, Durdles falls asleep, dreams that
Jasper leaves him, "and that something touches him and something
falls from his hand. Then something clinks and gropes about," and
the lines of moonlight shift their direction, as Durdles finds that
they have really done when he wakens, with Jasper beside him, while
the Cathedral clock strikes two. They have had many hours, not
less than five, for their expedition. The key of the crypt lies
beside Durdles on the ground. They go out, and as Deputy begins
stone-throwing, Jasper half strangles him.

PURPOSE OF THE EXPEDITION

Jasper has had ample time to take models in wax of all Durdles's
keys. But he could have done that in a few minutes, while Durdles
slept, if he had wax with him, without leaving the crypt. He has
also had time to convey several wheelbarrowfuls of quicklime from
Durdles's yard to Mrs. Sapsea's sepulchre, of which monument he
probably took the key from Durdles, and tried its identity by
clinking. But even in a Cathedral town, even after midnight,
several successive expeditions of a lay precentor with a
wheelbarrow full of quicklime would have been apt to attract the
comment of some belated physician, some cleric coming from a sick
bed, or some local roysterers. Therefore it is that Dickens
insists on the "utterly deserted" character of the area, and shows
us that Jasper has made sure of that essential fact by observations
from the tower top. Still, his was a perilous expedition, with his
wheelbarrow! We should probably learn later, that Jasper was
detected by the wakeful Deputy, who loathed him. Moreover, next
morning Durdles was apt to notice that some of his quicklime had
been removed. As far as is shown, Durdles noticed nothing of that
kind, though he does observe peculiarities in Jasper's behaviour.

The next point in the tale is that Edwin and Rosa meet, and have
sense enough to break off their engagement. But Edwin, represented
as really good-hearted, now begins to repent his past behaviour,
and, though he has a kind of fancy for Miss Landless, he pretty
clearly falls deeper in love with his late fiancee, and weeps his
loss in private: so we are told.

CHRISTMAS EVE

Christmas Eve comes, the day of the dinner of three, Jasper,
Landless, and Edwin. The chapter describing this fateful day
(xiv.) is headed, When shall these Three meet again? and Mr.
Proctor argues that Dickens intends that THEY SHALL meet again.
The intention, and the hint, are much in Dickens's manner.
Landless means to start, next day, very early, on a solitary
walking tour, and buys an exorbitantly heavy stick. We casually
hear that Jasper knows Edwin to possess no jewellery, except a
watch and chain and a scarf-pin. As Edwin moons about, he finds
the old opium hag, come down from London, "seeking a needle in a
bottle of hay," she says--that is, hunting vainly for Jasper.

Please remark that Jasper has run up to town, on December 23, and
has saturated his system with a debauch of opium on the very eve of
the day when he clearly means to kill Edwin. This was a most
injudicious indulgence, in the circumstances. A maiden murder
needs nerve! We know that "fiddlestrings was weakness to express
the state of" Jasper's "nerves" on the day after the night of opium
with which the story opens. On December 24, Jasper returned home,
the hag at his heels. The old woman, when met by Edwin, has a
curious film over her eyes; "he seems to know her." "Great
heaven," he thinks, next moment. "Like Jack that night!" This
refers to a kind of fit of Jasper's, after dinner, on the first
evening of the story. Edwin has then seen Jack Jasper in one of
his "filmy" seizures. The woman prays Edwin for three shillings
and sixpence, to buy opium. He gives her the money; she asks his
Christian name. "Edwin." Is "Eddy" a sweetheart's form of that?
He says that he has no sweetheart. He is told to be thankful that
his name is not Ned. Now, Jasper alone calls Edwin "Ned." "'Ned'
is a threatened name, a dangerous name," says the hag, who has
heard Jasper threaten "Ned" in his opium dreams.

Edwin determines to tell this adventure to Jasper, BUT NOT ON THIS
NIGHT: to-morrow will do. Now, DID he tell the story to Jasper
that night, in the presence of Landless, at dinner? If so, Helena
Landless might later learn the fact from Neville. If she knew it,
she would later tell Mr. Grewgious.

The three men meet and dine. There is a fearful storm. "Stones
are displaced upon the summit of the great tower." Next morning,
early, Jasper yells to Crisparkle, who is looking out of his window
in Minor Canon Row, that Edwin has disappeared. Neville has
already set out on his walking tour.

AFTER THE DISAPPEARANCE

Men go forth and apprehend Neville, who shows fight with his heavy
stick. We learn that he and Drood left Jasper's house at midnight,
went for ten minutes to look at the river under the wind, and
parted at Crisparkle's door. Neville now remains under suspicion:
Jasper directs the search in the river, on December 25, 26, and 27.
On the evening of December 27, Grewgious visits Jasper. Now,
Grewgious, as we know, was to be at Cloisterham at Christmas.
True, he was engaged to dine on Christmas Day with Bazzard, his
clerk; but, thoughtful as he was of the moody Bazzard, as Edwin was
leaving Cloisterham he would excuse himself. He would naturally
take a great part in the search for Edwin, above all as Edwin had
in his possession the ring so dear to the lawyer. Edwin had not
shown it to Rosa when they determined to part. He "kept it in his
breast," and the ring, we learn, was "gifted with invincible force
to hold and drag," so Dickens warns us.

The ring is obviously to be a piece de conviction. But our point,
at present, is that we do not know how Grewgious, to whom this ring
was so dear, employed himself at Cloisterham--after Edwin's
disappearance--between December 25 and December 27. On the evening
of the 27th, he came to Jasper, saying, "I have JUST LEFT MISS
LANDLESS." He then slowly and watchfully told Jasper that Edwin's
engagement was broken off, while the precentor gasped, perspired,
tore his hair, shrieked, and finally subsided into a heap of muddy
clothes on the floor. Meanwhile, Mr. Grewgious, calmly observing
these phenomena, warmed his hands at the fire for some time before
he called in Jasper's landlady.

Grewgious now knows by Jasper's behaviour that he believes himself
to have committed a superfluous crime, by murdering Edwin, who no
longer stood between him and Rosa, as their engagement was already
at an end. Whether a Jasper, in real life, would excite himself so
much, is another question. We do not know, as Mr. Proctor insists,
what Mr. Grewgious had been doing at Cloisterham between Christmas
Day and December 27, the date of his experiment on Jasper's nerves.
Mr. Proctor supposes him to have met the living Edwin, and obtained
information from him, after his escape from a murderous attack by
Jasper. Mr. Proctor insists that this is the only explanation of
Grewgious's conduct, any other "is absolutely impossible." In that
case the experiment of Grewgious was not made to gain information
from Jasper's demeanour, but was the beginning of his punishment,
and was intended by Grewgious to be so.

But Dickens has been careful to suggest, with suspicious breadth of
candour, another explanation of the source of Grewgious's
knowledge. If Edwin has really escaped, and met Grewgious, Dickens
does not want us to be sure of that, as Mr. Proctor was sure.
Dickens deliberately puts his readers on another trail, though
neither Mr. Walters nor Mr. Proctor struck the scent. As we have
noted, Grewgious at once says to Jasper, "I HAVE JUST COME FROM
MISS LANDLESS." This tells Jasper nothing, but it tells a great
deal to the watchful reader, who remembers that Miss Landless, and
she only, is aware that Jasper loves, bullies, and insults Rosa,
and that Rosa's life is embittered by Jasper's silent wooing, and
his unspoken threats. Helena may also know that "Ned is a
threatened name," as we have seen, and that the menace comes from
Jasper. As Jasper is now known to be Edwin's rival in love, and as
Edwin has vanished, the murderer, Mr. Grewgious reckons, is Jasper;
and his experiment, with Jasper's consequent shriek and fit,
confirms the hypothesis. Thus Grewgious had information enough,
from Miss Landless, to suggest his experiment--Dickens
intentionally made that clear (though not clear enough for Mr.
Proctor and Mr. Cuming Walters)--while his experiment gives him a
moral certainty of Jasper's crime, but yields no legal evidence.

But does Grewgious know no more than what Helena, and the fit and
shriek of Jasper, have told him? Is his knowledge limited to the
evidence that Jasper has murdered Edwin? Or does Grewgious know
more, know that Edwin, in some way, has escaped from death?

That is Dickens's secret. But whereas Grewgious, if he believes
Jasper to be an actual murderer, should take him seriously; in
point of fact, he speaks of Jasper in so light a tone, as "our
local friend," that we feel no certainty that he is not really
aware of Edwin's escape from a murderous attack by Jasper, and of
his continued existence.

Presently Crisparkle, under some mysterious impression, apparently
telepathic (the book is rich in such psychical phenomena), visits
the weir on the river, at night, and next day finds Edwin's watch
and chain in the timbers; his scarf-pin in the pool below. The
watch and chain must have been placed purposely where they were
found, they could not float thither, and, if Neville had slain
Edwin, he would not have stolen his property, of course, except as
a blind, neutralised by the placing of the watch in a conspicuous
spot. However, the increased suspicions drive Neville away to read
law in Staple Inn, where Grewgious also dwells, and incessantly
watches Neville out of his window.

About six months later, Helena Landless is to join Neville, who is
watched at intervals by Jasper, who, again, is watched by Grewgious
as the precentor lurks about Staple Inn.

DICK DATCHERY

About the time when Helena leaves Cloisterham for town, a new
character appears in Cloisterham, "a white-headed personage with
black eyebrows, BUTTONED UP IN A TIGHTISH BLUE SURTOUT, with a buff
waistcoat, grey trowsers, and something of a military air." His
shock of white hair was unusually thick and ample. This man, "a
buffer living idly on his means," named Datchery, is either, as Mr.
Proctor believed, Edwin Drood, or, as Mr. Walters thinks, Helena
Landless. By making Grewgious drop the remark that Bazzard, his
clerk, a moping owl of an amateur tragedian, "is off duty here," at
his chambers, Dickens hints that Bazzard is Datchery. But that is
a mere false scent, a ruse of the author, scattering paper in the
wrong place, in this long paper hunt.

As for Helena, Mr. Walters justly argues that Dickens has marked
her for some important part in the ruin of Jasper. "There was a
slumbering gleam of fire in her intense dark eyes. Let whomsoever
it most concerned look well to it." Again, we have been told that
Helena had high courage. She had told Jasper that she feared him
"in no circumstances whatever." Again, we have learned that in
childhood she had dressed as a boy when she ran away from home; and
she had the motives of protecting Rosa and her brother, Neville,
from the machinations of Jasper, who needs watching, as he is
trying to ruin Neville's already dilapidated character, and, by
spying on him, to break down his nerve. Really, of course, Neville
is quite safe. There is no corpus delicti, no carcase of the
missing Edwin Drood.

For the reasons given, Datchery might be Helena in disguise.

If so, the idea is highly ludicrous, while nothing is proved either
by the blackness of Datchery's eyebrows (Helena's were black), or
by Datchery's habit of carrying his hat under his arm, not on his
head. A person who goes so far as to wear a conspicuous white wig,
would not be afraid also to dye his eyebrows black, if he were
Edwin; while either Edwin or Helena MUST have "made up" the face,
by the use of paint and sham wrinkles. Either Helena or Edwin
would have been detected in real life, of course, but we allow for
the accepted fictitious convention of successful disguise, and for
the necessities of the novelist. A tightly buttoned surtout would
show Helena's feminine figure; but let that also pass. As to the
hat, Edwin's own hair was long and thick: add a wig, and his hat
would be a burden to him.

What is most unlike the stern, fierce, sententious Helena, is
Datchery's habit of "chaffing." He fools the ass of a Mayor,
Sapsea, by most exaggerated diference: his tone is always that of
indolent mockery, which one doubts whether the "intense" and
concentrated Helena could assume. He takes rooms in the same house
as Jasper, to whom, as to Durdles and Deputy, he introduces himself
on the night of his arrival at Cloisterham. He afterwards
addresses Deputy, the little gamin, by the name "Winks," which is
given to him by the people at the Tramps' lodgings: the name is a
secret of Deputy's.

JASPER, ROSA, AND TARTAR

Meanwhile Jasper formally proposes to Rosa, in the school garden:
standing apart and leaning against a sundial, as the garden is
commanded by many windows. He offers to resign his hopes of
bringing Landless to the gallows (perhaps this bad man would
provide a corpus delicti of his own making!) if Rosa will accept
him: he threatens to "pursue her to the death," if she will not;
he frightens her so thoroughly that she rushes to Grewgious in his
chambers in London. She now suspects Jasper of Edwin's murder, but
keeps her thoughts to herself. She tells Grewgious, who is
watching Neville,--"I have a fancy for keeping him under my eye,"--
that Jasper has made love to her, and Grewgious replies in a parody
of "God save the King"!

"On Thee his hopes to fix
Damn him again!"

Would he fool thus, if he knew Jasper to have killed Edwin? He is
not certain whether Rosa should visit Helena next day, in
Landless's rooms, opposite; and Mr. Walters suggests that he may be
aware that Helena, dressed as Datchery, is really absent at
Cloisterham. However, next day, Helena is in her brother's rooms.
Moreover, it is really a sufficient explanation of Grewgious's
doubt that Jasper is lurking around, and that not till next day is
a PRIVATE way of communication arranged between Neville and his
friends. In any case, next day, Helena is in her brother's rooms,
and, by aid of a Mr. Tartar's rooms, she and Rosa can meet
privately. There is a good deal of conspiring to watch Jasper when
he watches Neville, and in this new friend, Mr. Tartar, a lover is
provided for Rosa. Tartar is a miraculously agile climber over
roofs and up walls, a retired Lieutenant of the navy, and a handy
man, being such a climber, to chase Jasper about the roof of the
Cathedral, when Jasper's day of doom arrives.

JASPER'S OPIUM VISIONS

In July, Jasper revisits the London opium den, and talks under
opium, watched by the old hag. He speaks of a thing which he often
does in visions: "a hazardous and perilous journey, over abysses
where a slip would be destruction. Look down, look down! You see
what lies at the bottom there?" He enacts the vision and says,
"There was a fellow traveller." He "speaks in a whisper, and as if
in the dark." The vision is, in this case, "a poor vision: no
struggle, no consciousness of peril, no entreaty." Edwin, in the
reminiscent vision, dies very easily and rapidly. "When it comes
to be real at last, it is so short that it seems unreal for the
first time." "And yet I never saw THAT before. Look what a poor
miserable mean thing it is. THAT must be real. It's over."

What can all this mean? We have been told that, shortly before
Christmas Eve, Jasper took to wearing a thick black-silk
handkerchief for his throat. He hung it over his arm, "his face
knitted and stern," as he entered his house for his Christmas Eve
dinner. If he strangled Edwin with the scarf, as we are to
suppose, he did not lead him, drugged, to the tower top, and pitch
him off. Is part of Jasper's vision reminiscent--the brief,
unresisting death--while another part is a separate vision, is
PROSPECTIVE, "premonitory"? Does he see himself pitching Neville
Landless off the tower top, or see him fallen from the Cathedral
roof? Is Neville's body "THAT"--"I never saw THAT before. Look
what a poor miserable mean thing it is! THAT must be real."
Jasper "never saw THAT"--the dead body below the height--before.
THIS vision, I think, is of the future, not of the past, and is
meant to bewilder the reader who thinks that the whole represents
the slaying of Drood. The tale is rich in "warnings" and
telepathy.

DATCHERY AND THE OPIUM WOMAN

The hag now tracks Jasper home to Cloisterham. Here she meets
Datchery, whom she asks how she can see Jasper? If Datchery is
Drood, he now learns, WHAT HE DID NOT KNOW BEFORE, THAT THERE IS
SOME CONNECTION BETWEEN JASPER AND THE HAG. He walks with her to
the place where Edwin met the hag, on Christmas Eve, and gave her
money; and he jingles his own money as he walks. The place, or the
sound of the money, makes the woman tell Datchery about Edwin's
gift of three shillings and sixpence for opium. Datchery, "with a
sudden change of countenance, gives her a sudden look." It does
not follow that he is NOT Drood, for, though the hag's love of
opium was known to Drood, Datchery is not to reveal his recognition
of the woman. He does what any stranger would do; he "gives a
sudden look," as if surprised by the mention of opium.

Mr. Walters says, "Drood would not have changed countenance on
hearing a fact he had known six months previously." But if Drood
was playing at being somebody else, he would, of course, give a
kind of start and stare, on hearing of the opium. When he also
hears from the hag that her former benefactor's name was Edwin, he
asks her how she knew that--"a fatuously unnecessary question,"
says Mr. Walters. A needless question for Datchery's information,
if he be Drood, but as useful a question as another if Drood be
Datchery, and wishes to maintain the conversation.

DATCHERY'S SCORE

Datchery keeps a tavern score of his discoveries behind a door, in
cryptic chalk strokes. He does this, says Mr. Walters, because,
being Helena, he would betray himself if he wrote in a female hand.
But nobody would WRITE secrets on a door! He adds "a moderate
stroke," after meeting the hag, though, says Mr. Walters, "Edwin
Drood would have learned nothing new whatever" from the hag.

But Edwin would have learned something quite new, and very
important--that the hag was hunting Jasper. Next day Datchery sees
the woman shake her fists at Jasper in church, and hears from her
that she knows Jasper "better far than all the reverend parsons put
together know him." Datchery then adds a long thick line to his
chalked score, yet, says Mr. Walters, Datchery has learned "nothing
new to Edwin Drood, if alive."

This is an obvious error. It is absolutely new to Edwin Drood that
the opium hag is intimately acquainted with his uncle, Jasper, and
hates Jasper with a deadly hatred. All this is not only new to
Drood, if alive, but is rich in promise of further revelations.
Drood, on Christmas Eve, had learned from the hag only that she
took opium, and that she had come from town to Cloisterham, and had
"hunted for a needle in a bottle of hay." That was the sum of his
information. Now he learns that the woman knows, tracks, has
found, and hates, his worthy uncle, Jasper. He may well,
therefore, add a heavy mark to his score.

We must also ask, How could Helena, fresh from Ceylon, know "the
old tavern way of keeping scores? Illegible except to the scorer.
The scorer not committed, the scored debited with what is against
him," as Datchery observes. An Eurasian girl of twenty, new to
England, would not argue thus with herself: she would probably
know nothing of English tavern scores. We do not hear that Helena
ever opened a book: we do know that education had been denied to
her. What acquaintance could she have with old English tavern
customs?

If Drood is Datchery, then Dickens used a form of a very old and
favourite ficelle of his: the watching of a villain by an
improbable and unsuspected person, in this case thought to be dead.
If Helena is Datchery, the "assumption" or personation is in the
highest degree improbable, her whole bearing is quite out of her
possibilities, and the personation is very absurd.

Here the story ends.

THEORIES OF THE MYSTERY

FORSTER'S EVIDENCE

We have some external evidence as to Dickens's solution of his own
problem, from Forster. {2} On August 6, 1869, some weeks before he
began to work at his tale, Dickens, in a letter, told Forster, "I
have a very curious and new idea for my new story. Not
communicable (or the interest of the book would be gone), but a
very strong one, though difficult to work." Forster must have
instantly asked that the incommunicable secret should be
communicated to HIM, for he tells us that "IMMEDIATELY AFTER I
learnt"--the secret. But did he learn it? Dickens was ill, and
his plot, whatever it may have been, would be irritatingly
criticized by Forster before it was fully thought out. "Fules and
bairns should not see half-done work," and Dickens may well have
felt that Forster should not see work not even begun, but merely
simmering in the author's own fancy.

Forster does not tell us that Dickens communicated the secret in a
letter. He quotes none: he says "I was told," orally, that is.
When he writes, five years later (1874), "Landless was, _I_ THINK,
to have perished in assisting Tartar finally to unmask and seize
the murderer," he is clearly trusting, not to a letter of
Dickens's, but to a defective memory; and he knows it. He says
that a nephew was to be murdered by an uncle. The criminal was to
confess in the condemned cell. He was to find out that his crime
had been needless, and to be convicted by means of the ring (Rosa's
mother's ring) remaining in the quicklime that had destroyed the
body of Edwin.

Nothing "new" in all this, as Forster must have seen. "The
originality," he explains, "was to consist in the review of the
murderer's career by himself at the close, when its temptations
were to be dwelt upon as if, not he the culprit, but some other
man, were the tempted."

But all this is not "hard to work," and is not "original." As Mr.
Proctor remarks, Dickens had used that trick twice already.
("Madman's Manuscript," Pickwick; "Clock Case Confession," in
Master Humphrey's Clock.) The quicklime trick is also very old
indeed. The disguise of a woman as a man is as ancient as the art
of fiction: yet Helena MAY be Datchery, though nobody guessed it
before Mr. Cuming Walters. She ought not to be Datchery; she is
quite out of keeping in her speech and manner as Datchery, and is
much more like Drood.

"A NEW IDEA"

There are no new ideas in plots. "All the stories have been told,"
and all the merit lies in the manner of the telling. Dickens had
used the unsuspected watcher, as Mr. Proctor shows, in almost all
his novels. In Martin Chuzzlewit, when Jonas finds that Nadgett
has been the watcher, Dickens writes, "The dead man might have come
out of his grave and not confounded and appalled him so." Now, to
Jasper, Edwin WAS "the dead man," and Edwin's grave contained
quicklime. Jasper was sure that he had done for Edwin: he had
taken Edwin's watch, chain, and scarf-pin; he believed that he had
left him, drugged, in quicklime, in a locked vault. Consequently
the reappearance of Edwin, quite well, in the vault where Jasper
had buried him, would be a very new idea to Jasper; would "confound
and appall him." Jasper would have emotions, at that spectacle,
and so would the reader! It is not every day, even in our age of
sixpenny novels, that a murderer is compelled to visit, alone, at
night, the vault which holds his victim's "cold remains," and
therein finds the victim "come up, smiling."

Yes, for business purposes, this idea was new enough! The idea was
"difficult to work," says Dickens, with obvious truth. How was he
to get the quicklime into the vault, and Drood, alive, out of the
vault? As to the reader, he would at first take Datchery for
Drood, and then think, "No, that is impossible, and also is stale.
Datchery cannot be Drood," and thus the reader would remain in a
pleasant state of puzzledom, as he does, unto this day.

If Edwin is dead, there is not much "Mystery" about him. We have
as good as seen Jasper strangle him and take his pin, chain, and
watch. Yet by adroitly managing the conduct of Mr. Grewgious,
Dickens persuaded Mr. Proctor that certainly, Grewgious knew Edwin
to be alive. As Grewgious knew, from Helena, all that was
necessary to provoke his experiment on Jasper's nerves, Mr. Proctor
argued on false premises, but that was due to the craft of Dickens.
Mr. Proctor rejected Forster's report, from memory, of what he
understood to be the "incommunicable secret" of Dickens's plot, and
I think that he was justified in the rejection. Forster does not
seem to have cared about the thing--he refers lightly to "the
reader curious in such matters"--when once he had received his
explanation from Dickens. His memory, in the space of five years,
may have been inaccurate: he probably neither knew nor cared who
Datchery was; and he may readily have misunderstood what Dickens
told him, orally, about the ring, as the instrument of detection.
Moreover, Forster quite overlooked one source of evidence, as I
shall show later.

MR. PROCTOR'S THEORY

Mr. Proctor's theory of the story is that Jasper, after Edwin's
return at midnight on Christmas Eve, recommended a warm drink--
mulled wine, drugged--and then proposed another stroll of
inspection of the effects of the storm. He then strangled him,
somewhere, and placed him in the quicklime in the Sapsea vault,
locked him in, and went to bed. Next, according to Mr. Proctor,
Durdles, then, "lying drunk in the precincts," for some reason taps
with his hammer on the wall of the Sapsea vault, detects the
presence of a foreign body, opens the tomb, and finds Drood in the
quicklime, "his face fortunately protected by the strong silk shawl
with which Jasper has intended to throttle him."

A MISTAKEN THEORY

This is "thin," very "thin!" Dickens must have had some better
scheme than Mr. Proctor's. Why did Jasper not "mak sikker" like
Kirkpatrick with the Red Comyn? Why did he leave his silk scarf?
It might come to be asked for; to be sure the quicklime would
destroy it, but why did Jasper leave it? Why did the intoxicated
Durdles come out of the crypt, if he was there, enter the
graveyard, and begin tapping at the wall of the vault? Why not
open the door? he had the key.

Suppose, however, all this to have occurred, and suppose, with Mr.
Proctor, that Durdles and Deputy carried Edwin to the Tramps'
lodgings, would Durdles fail to recognize Edwin? We are to guess
that Grewgious was present, or disturbed at his inn, or somehow
brought into touch with Edwin, and bribed Durdles to silence,
"until a scheme for the punishment of Jasper had been devised."

All this set of conjectures is crude to the last degree. We do not
know how Dickens meant to get Edwin into and out of the vault.
Granting that Edwin was drugged, Jasper might lead Edwin in,
considering the licence extended to the effects of drugs in novels,
and might strangle him there. Above all, how did Grewgious, if in
Cloisterham, come to be at hand at midnight?

ANOTHER WAY

If I must make a guess, I conjecture that Jasper had one of his
"filmy" seizures, was "in a frightful sort of dream," and bungled
the murder: made an incomplete job of it. Half-strangled men and
women have often recovered. In Jasper's opium vision and
reminiscence there was no resistance, all was very soon over.
Jasper might even bungle the locking of the door of the vault. He
was apt to have a seizure after opium, in moments of excitement,
and HE HAD BEEN AT THE OPIUM DEN THROUGH THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 23,
for the hag tracked him from her house in town to Cloisterham on
December 24, the day of the crime. Grant that his accustomed fit
came upon him during the excitement of the murder, as it does come
after "a nicht wi' opium," in chapter ii., when Edwin excites him
by contemptuous talk of the girl whom Jasper loves so furiously--
and then anything may happen!

Jasper murders Edwin inefficiently; he has a fit; while he is
unconscious the quicklime revives Edwin, by burning his hand, say,
and, during Jasper's swoon, Edwin, like another famous prisoner,
"has a happy thought, he opens the door, and walks out."

Being drugged, he is in a dreamy state; knows not clearly what has
occurred, or who attacked him. Jasper revives, "look on't again he
dare not,"--on the body of his victim--and HE walks out and goes
home, where his red lamp has burned all the time--"thinking it all
wery capital."

"Another way,"--Jasper not only fails to strangle Drood, but fails
to lock the door of the vault, and Drood walks out after Jasper has
gone. Jasper has, before his fit, "removed from the body the most
lasting, the best known, and most easily recognizable things upon
it, the watch and scarf-pin." So Dickens puts the popular view of
the case against Neville Landless, and so we are to presume that
Jasper acted. If he removed no more things from the body than
these, he made a fatal oversight.

Meanwhile, how does Edwin, once out of the vault, make good a
secret escape from Cloisterham? Mr. Proctor invokes the aid of Mr.
Grewgious, but does not explain why Grewgious was on the spot. I
venture to think it not inconceivable that Mr. Grewgious having
come down to Cloisterham by a late train, on Christmas Eve, to keep
his Christmas appointment with Rosa, paid a darkling visit to the
tomb of his lost love, Rosa's mother. Grewgious was very
sentimental, but too secretive to pay such a visit by daylight. "A
night of memories and sighs" he might "consecrate" to his lost lady
love, as Landor did to Rose Aylmer. Grewgious was to have helped
Bazzard to eat a turkey on Christmas Day. But he could get out of
that engagement. He would wish to see Edwin and Rosa together, and
Edwin was leaving Cloisterham. The date of Grewgious's arrival at
Cloisterham is studiously concealed. I offer at least a
conceivable motive for Grewgious's possible presence at the
churchyard. Mrs. Bud, his lost love, we have been told, was buried
hard by the Sapsea monument. If Grewgious visited her tomb, he was
on the spot to help Edwin, supposing Edwin to escape. Unlikelier
things occur in novels. I do not, in fact, call these probable
occurrences in every-day life, but none of the story is probable.
Jasper's "weird seizures" are meant to lead up to SOMETHING. They
may have been meant to lead up to the failure of the murder and the
escape of Edwin. Of course Dickens would not have treated these
incidents, when he came to make Edwin explain,--nobody else could
explain,--in my studiously simple style. The drugged Edwin himself
would remember the circumstances but mistily: his evidence would
be of no value against Jasper.

Mr. Proctor next supposes, we saw, that Drood got into touch with
Grewgious, and I have added the circumstances which might take
Grewgious to the churchyard. Next, when Edwin recovered health, he
came down, perhaps, as Datchery, to spy on Jasper. I have
elsewhere said, as Mr. Cuming Walters quotes me, that "fancy can
suggest no reason why Edwin Drood, if he escaped from his wicked
uncle, should go spying about instead of coming openly forward. No
plausible unfantastic reason could be invented." Later, I shall
explain why Edwin, if he is Datchery, might go spying alone.

It is also urged that Edwin left Rosa in sorrow, and left blame on
Neville Landless. Why do this? Mr. Proctor replies that
Grewgious's intense and watchful interest in Neville, otherwise
unexplained, is due to his knowledge that Drood is alive, and that
Neville must be cared for, while Grewgious has told Rosa that Edwin
lives. He also told her of Edwin's real love of her, hence Miss
Bud says, "Poor, poor Eddy," quite a propos de bottes, when she
finds herself many fathoms deep in love with Lieutenant Tartar,
R.N. "'Poor, poor Eddy!' thought Rosa, as they walked along,"
Tartar and she. This is a plausible suggestion of Mr. Proctor.
Edwin, though known to Rosa to be alive, has no chance! But, as to
my own remark, "why should not Edwin come forward at once, instead
of spying about?" Well, if he did, there would be no story. As
for "an unfantastic reason" for his conduct, Dickens is not writing
an "unfantastic" novel. Moreover, if things occurred as I have
suggested, I do not see what evidence Drood had against Jasper.
Edwin's clothes were covered with lime, but, when he told his
story, Jasper would reply that Drood never returned to his house on
Christmas Eve, but stayed out, "doing what was correct by the
season, in the way of giving it the welcome it had the right to
expect," like Durdles on another occasion. Drood's evidence, if it
was what I have suggested, would sound like the dream of an
intoxicated man, and what other evidence could be adduced? Thus I
had worked out Drood's condition, if he really was not killed, in
this way: I had supposed him to escape, in a very mixed frame of
mind, when he would be encountered by Grewgious, who, of course,
could make little out of him in his befogged state. Drood could
not even prove that it was not Landless who attacked him. The
result would be that Drood would lie low, and later, would have
reason enough for disguising himself as Datchery, and playing the
spy in Cloisterham.

At this point I was reinforced by an opinion which Mr. William
Archer had expressed, unknown to me, in a newspaper article. I had
described Edwin's confused knowledge of his own experience, if he
were thoroughly drugged, and then half strangled. Mr. Archer also
took that point, and added that Edwin being a good-hearted fellow,
and fond of his uncle Jasper, he would not bring, or let Grewgious
bring, a terrible charge against Jasper, till he knew more
certainly the whole state of the case. For that reason, he would
come disguised to Cloisterham and make inquiries. By letting
Jasper know about the ring, he would compel him to enter the vault,
and then, Mr. Archer thinks, would induce him to "repent and begin
life afresh."

I scarcely think that Datchery's purpose was so truly honourable:
he rather seems to be getting up a case against Jasper. Still, the
idea of Mr. Archer is very plausible, and, at least, given Drood's
need of evidence, and the lack of evidence against Jasper, we see
reason good, in a novel of this kind, for his playing the part of
amateur detective.

DICKENS'S UNUSED DRAFT OF A CHAPTER

Forster found, and published, a very illegible sketch of a chapter
of the tale: "How Mr. Sapsea ceased to be a Member of the Eight
Club, Told by Himself." This was "a cramped, interlined, and
blotted" draft, on paper of only half the size commonly used by
Dickens. Mr. Sapsea tells how his Club mocked him about a
stranger, who had mistaken him for the Dean. The jackass, Sapsea,
left the Club, and met the stranger, A YOUNG MAN, who fooled him to
the top of his bent, saying, "If I was to deny that I came to this
town to see and hear you, Sir, what would it avail me?" Apparently
this paper was a rough draft of an idea for introducing a
detective, as a YOUNG man, who mocks Sapsea just as Datchery does
in the novel. But to make the spy A YOUNG man, whether the spy was
Drood or Helena Landless, was too difficult; and therefore Dickens
makes Datchery "an elderly buffer" in a white wig. If I am right,
it was easier for Helena, a girl, to pose as a young man, than for
Drood to reappear as a young man, not himself. Helena MAY be
Datchery, and yet Drood may be alive and biding his time; but I
have disproved my old objection that there was no reason why Drood,
if alive, should go spying about in disguise. There were good
Dickensian reasons.

A QUESTION OF TASTE

Mr. Cuming Walters argues that the story is very tame if Edwin is
still alive, and left out of the marriages at the close. Besides,
"Drood is little more than a name-label, attached to a body, a man
who never excites sympathy, whose fate causes no emotion, he is
saved for no useful or sentimental purpose, and lags superfluous on
the stage. All of which is bad art, so bad that Dickens would
never have been guilty of it."

That is a question of taste. On rereading the novel, I see that
Dickens makes Drood as sympathetic as he can. He is very young,
and speaks of Rosa with bad taste, but he is really in love with
her, much more so than she with him, and he is piqued by her
ceaseless mockery, and by their false position. To Jasper he is
singularly tender, and remorseful when he thinks that he has shown
want of tact. There is nothing ominous about his gaiety: as to
his one fault, we leave him, on Christmas Eve, a converted
character: he has a kind word and look for every one whom he
meets, young and old. He accepts Mr. Grewgious's very stern
lecture in the best manner possible. In short, he is marked as
faulty-- "I am young," so he excuses himself, in the very words of
Darnley to Queen Mary! (if the Glasgow letter be genuine); but he
is also marked as sympathetic.

He was, I think, to have a lesson, and to become a good fellow.
Mr. Proctor rightly argues (and Forster "thinks"), that Dickens
meant to kill Neville Landless: Mr. Cuming Walters agrees with
him, but Mr. Proctor truly adds that Edwin has none of the signs of
Dickens's doomed men, his Sidney Cartons, and the rest. You can
tell, as it were by the sound of the voice of Dickens, says Mr.
Proctor, that Edwin is to live. The impression is merely
subjective, but I feel the impression. The doom of Landless is
conspicuously fixed, and why is Landless to be killed by Jasper?
Merely to have a count on which to hang Jasper! He cannot be
hanged for killing Drood, if Drood is alive.

MR. PROCTOR'S THEORY CONTINUED

Mr. Proctor next supposes that Datchery and others, by aid of the
opium hag, have found out a great deal of evidence against Jasper.
They have discovered from the old woman that his crime was long
premeditated: he had threatened "Ned" in his opiated dreams: and
had clearly removed Edwin's trinkets and watch, because they would
not be destroyed, with his body, by the quicklime. This is all
very well, but there is still, so far, no legal evidence, on my
theory, that Jasper attempted to take Edwin's life. Jasper's
enemies, therefore, can only do their best to make his life a
burden to him, and to give him a good fright, probably with the
hope of terrifying him into avowals.

Now the famous ring begins "to drag and hold" the murderer. He is
given to know, I presume, that, when Edwin disappeared, he had a
gold ring in the pocket of his coat. Jasper is thus compelled to
revisit the vault, at night, and there, in the light of his
lantern, he sees the long-lost Edwin, with his hand in the breast
of his great coat.

Horrified by this unexpected appearance, Jasper turns to fly. But
he is confronted by Neville Landless, Crisparkle, Tartar, and
perhaps by Mr. Grewgious, who are all on the watch. He rushes up
through the only outlet, the winding staircase of the Cathedral
tower, of which we know that he has had the key. Neville, who
leads his pursuers, "receives his death wound" (and, I think, is
pitched off the top of the roof). Then Jasper is collared by that
agile climber, Tartar, and by Crisparkle, always in the pink of
condition. There is now something to hang Jasper for--the slaying
of Landless (though, as far as I can see, THAT was done in self-
defence). Jasper confesses all; Tartar marries Rosa; Helena
marries Crisparkle. Edwin is only twenty-one, and may easily find
a consoler of the fair sex: indeed he is "ower young to marry
yet."

The capture of Jasper was fixed, of course, for Christmas Eve. The
phantom cry foreheard by Durdles, two years before, was that of
Neville as he fell; and the dog that howled was Neville's dog, a
character not yet introduced into the romance.

MR. CUMING WALTERS'S THEORY

Such is Mr. Proctor's theory of the story, in which I mainly agree.
Mr. Proctor relies on a piece of evidence overlooked by Forster,
and certainly misinterpreted, as I think I can prove to a
certainty, by Mr. Cuming Walters, whose theory of the real conduct
of the plot runs thus: After watching the storm at midnight with
Edwin, Neville left him, and went home: "his way lay in an
opposite direction. Near to the Cathedral Jasper intercepted his
nephew. . . . Edwin may have been already drugged." How the murder
was worked Mr. Cuming Walters does not say, but he introduces at
this point, the two sounds foreheard by Durdles, without explaining
"the howl of a dog." Durdles would hear the cries, and Deputy "had
seen what he could not understand," whatever it was that he saw.
Jasper, not aware of Drood's possession of the ring, takes only his
watch, chain, and pin, which he places on the timbers of the weir,
and in the river, to be picked up by that persistent winter-bather,
Crisparkle of the telescopic and microscopic eyesight.

As to the ring, Mr. Cuming Walters erroneously declares that Mr.
Proctor "ignores" the power of the ring "to hold and drag," and
says that potent passage is "without meaning and must be
disregarded." Proctor, in fact, gives more than three pages to the
meaning of the ring, which "drags" Jasper into the vault, when he
hears of its existence. {3} Next, Mr. Cuming Walters supposes
Datchery to learn from Durdles, whom he is to visit, about the
second hearing of the cry and the dog's howl. Deputy may have seen
Jasper "carrying his burden" (Edwin) "towards the Sapsea vault."
In fact, Jasper probably saved trouble by making the drugged Edwin
walk into that receptacle. "Datchery would not think of the Sapsea
vault unaided." No--unless Datchery was Drood ! "Now Durdles is
useful again. Tapping with his hammer he would find a change . . .
inquiry must be made." Why should Durdles tap the Sapsea monument?
As Durdles had the key, he would simply walk into the vault, and
find the quicklime. Now, Jasper also, we presume, had a key, made
from a wax impression of the original. If he had any sense, he
would have removed the quicklime as easily as he inserted it, for
Mr. Sapsea was mortal: he might die any day, and be buried, and
then the quicklime, lying where it ought not, would give rise to
awkward inquiries.

Inquiry being made, in consequence of Durdles's tappings, the ring
would be found, as Mr. Cuming Walters says. But even then, unless
Deputy actually saw Jasper carry a man into the vault, nobody could
prove Jasper's connection with the presence of the ring in the
vault. Moreover, Deputy hated Jasper, and if he saw Jasper
carrying the body of a man, on the night when a man disappeared, he
was clever enough to lead Durdles to examine the vault, AT ONCE.
Deputy had a great dislike of the Law and its officers, but here
was a chance for him to distinguish himself, and conciliate them.

However these things may be, Mr. Cuming Walters supposes that
Jasper, finding himself watched, re-enters the vault, perhaps, "to
see that every trace of the crime had been removed." In the vault
he finds--Datchery, that is, Helena Landless! Jasper certainly
visited the vault and found somebody.

EVIDENCE OF COLLINS'S DRAWINGS

We now come to the evidence which Forster strangely overlooked,
which Mr. Proctor and Mr. Archer correctly deciphered, and which
Mr. Cuming Walters misinterprets. On December 22, 1869, Dickens
wrote to Forster that two numbers of his romance were "now in type.
Charles Collins has designed an excellent cover." Mr. C. A.
Collins had married a daughter of Dickens. {4} He was an artist, a
great friend of Dickens, and author of that charming book, "A
Cruise on Wheels." His design of the paper cover of the story (it
appeared in monthly numbers) contained, as usual, sketches which
give an inkling of the events in the tale. Mr. Collins was to have
illustrated the book; but, finally, Mr. (now Sir) Luke Fildes
undertook the task. Mr. Collins died in 1873. It appears that
Forster never asked him the meaning of his designs--a singular
oversight.

The cover lies before the reader. In the left-hand top corner
appears an allegorical female figure of joy, with flowers. The
central top space contains the front of Cloisterham Cathedral, or
rather, the nave. To the left walks Edwin, with hyacinthine locks,
and a thoroughly classical type of face, and Grecian nose. LIKE
DATCHERY, HE DOES NOT WEAR, BUT CARRIES HIS HAT; this means
nothing, if they are in the nave. He seems bored. On his arm is
Rosa; SHE seems bored; she trails her parasol, and looks away from
Edwin, looks down, to her right. On the spectator's right march
the surpliced men and boys of the Choir. Behind them is Jasper,
black whiskers and all; he stares after Edwin and Rosa; his right
hand hides his mouth. In the corner above him is an allegorical
female, clasping a stiletto.

Beneath Edwin and Rosa is, first, an allegorical female figure,
looking at a placard, headed "LOST," on a door. Under that, again,
is a girl in a garden-chair; a young man, whiskerless, with wavy
hair, kneels and kisses her hand. She looks rather unimpassioned.
I conceive the man to be Landless, taking leave of Rosa after
urging his hopeless suit, for which Helena, we learn, "seems to
compassionate him." He has avowed his passion, early in the story,
to Crisparkle. Below, the opium hag is smoking. On the other
side, under the figures of Jasper and the Choir, the young man who
kneels to the girl is seen bounding up a spiral staircase. His
left hand is on the iron railing; he stoops over it, looking down
at others who follow him. His right hand, the index finger
protruded, points upward, and, by chance or design, points straight
at Jasper in the vignette above. Beneath this man (clearly
Landless) follows a tall man in a "bowler" hat, a "cut-away" coat,
and trousers which show an inch of white stocking above the low
shoes. His profile is hid by the wall of the spiral staircase: he
might be Grewgious of the shoes, white stockings, and short
trousers, but he may be Tartar: he takes two steps at a stride.
Beneath him a youngish man, in a low, soft, clerical hat and a
black pea-coat, ascends, looking downwards and backwards. This is
clearly Crisparkle. A Chinaman is smoking opium beneath.

In the central lowest space, a dark and whiskered man enters a dark
chamber; his left hand is on the lock of the door; in his right he
holds up a lantern. The light of the lantern reveals a young man
in a soft hat of Tyrolese shape. His features are purely
classical, his nose is Grecian, his locks are long (at least,
according to the taste of to-day); he wears a light paletot,
buttoned to the throat; his right arm hangs by his side; his left
hand is thrust into the breast of his coat. He calmly regards the
dark man with the lantern. That man, of course, is Jasper. The
young man is EDWIN DROOD, of the Grecian nose, hyacinthine locks,
and classic features, as in Sir L. Fildes's third illustration.

Mr. Proctor correctly understood the unmistakable meaning of this
last design, Jasper entering the vault -

"To-day the dead are living,
The lost is found to-day."

Mr. Cuming Walters tells us that he did not examine these designs
by Mr. Collins till he had formed his theory, and finished his
book. "On the conclusion of the whole work the pictures were
referred to for the first time, and were then found to support in
the most striking manner the opinions arrived at," namely, that
Drood was killed, and that Helena is Datchery. Thus does theory
blind us to facts!

Mr. Cuming Walters connects the figure of the whiskerless young man
kneeling to a girl in a garden seat, with the whiskered Jasper's
proposal to Rosa in a garden seat. But Jasper does not kneel to
Rosa; he stands apart, leaning on a sundial; he only once vaguely
"touches" her, which she resents; he does not kneel; he does not
kiss her hand (Rosa "took the kiss sedately," like Maud in the
poem); and--Jasper had lustrous thick black whiskers.

Again, the same whiskerless young man, bounding up the spiral
staircase in daylight, and wildly pointing upwards, is taken by Mr.
Cuming Walters to represent Jasper climbing the staircase to
reconnoitre, at night, with a lantern, and, of course, with black
whiskers. The two well-dressed men on the stairs (Grewgious, or
Tartar, and Crisparkle) also, according to Mr. Cuming Walters,
"relate to Jasper's unaccountable expedition with Durdles to the
Cathedral." Neither of them is Jasper; neither of them is Durdles,
"in a suit of coarse flannel"--a disreputable jacket, as Sir L.
Fildes depicts him--"with horn buttons," and a battered old tall
hat. These interpretations are quite demonstrably erroneous and
even impossible. Mr. Archer interprets the designs exactly as I
do.

As to the young man in the light of Jasper's lamp, Mr. Cuming
Walters says, "the large hat and the tightly-buttoned surtout must
be observed; they are the articles of clothing on which most stress
is laid in the description of Datchery. But the face is young."
The face of Datchery was elderly, and he had a huge shock of white
hair, a wig. Datchery wore "a tightish blue surtout, with a buff
waistcoat and grey trousers; he had something of a military air."
The young man in the vault has anything but a military air; he
shows no waistcoat, and he does not wear "a tightish blue surtout,"
or any surtout at all.

The surtout of the period is shown, worn by Jasper, in Sir L.
Fildes's sixth and ninth illustrations. It is a frock-coat; the
collar descends far below the top of the waistcoat (buff or
otherwise), displaying that garment; the coat is tightly buttoned
beneath, revealing the figure; the tails of the coat do not reach
the knees of the wearer. The young man in the vault, on the other
hand, wears a loose paletot, buttoned to the throat (vaults are
chilly places), and the coat falls so as to cover the knees; at
least, partially. The young man is not, like Helena, "very dark,
and fierce of look, . . . of almost the gipsy type." He is blonde,
sedate, and of the classic type, as Drood was. He is no more like
Helena than Crisparkle is like Durdles. Mr. Cuming Walters says
that Mr. Proctor was "unable to allude to the prophetic picture by
Collins." As a fact, this picture is fully described by Mr.
Proctor, but Mr. Walters used the wrong edition of his book,
unwittingly.

Mr. Proctor writes:- "Creeping down the crypt steps, oppressed by
growing horror and by terror of coming judgment, sickening under
fears engendered by the darkness of night and the charnel-house air
he breathed, Jasper opens the door of the tomb and holds up his
lantern, shuddering at the thought of what it may reveal to him.

"And what sees he? Is it the spirit of his victim that stands
there, 'in his habit as he lived,' his hand clasped on his breast,
where the ring had been when he was murdered? What else can Jasper
deem it? There, clearly visible in the gloom at the back of the
tomb, stands Edwin Drood, with stern look fixed on him--pale,
silent, relentless!"

Again, "On the title-page are given two of the small pictures from
the Love side of the cover, two from the Murder side, and the
central picture below, which presents the central horror of the
story--the end and aim of the 'Datchery assumption' and of Mr.
Grewgious's plans--showing Jasper driven to seek for the proofs of
his crime amid the dust to which, as he thought, the flesh and
bones, and the very clothes of his victim, had been reduced."

There are only two possible choices; either Collins, under
Dickens's oral instructions, depicted Jasper finding Drood alive in
the vault, an incident which was to occur in the story; or Dickens
bade Collins do this for the purpose of misleading his readers in
an illegitimate manner; while the young man in the vault was really
to be some person "made up" to look like Drood, and so to frighten
Jasper with a pseudo-ghost of that hero. The latter device, the
misleading picture, would be childish, and the pseudo-ghost,
exactly like Drood, could not be acted by the gipsy-like, fierce
Helena, or by any other person in the romance.

MR. WALTERS'S THEORY CONTINUED

Mr. Cuming Walters guesses that Jasper was to aim a deadly blow
(with his left hand, to judge from the picture) at Helena, and that
Neville "was to give his life for hers." But, manifestly, Neville
was to lead the hunt of Jasper up the spiral stair, as in Collins's
design, and was to be dashed from the roof: his body beneath was
to be "THAT, I never saw before. THAT must be real. Look what a
poor mean miserable thing it is!" as Jasper says in his vision.

Mr. Cuming Walters, pursuing his idea of Helena as both Datchery
and also as the owner of "the YOUNG face" of the youth in the vault
(and also of the young hands, a young girl's hands could never pass
for those of "an elderly buffer"), exclaims: "Imagine the intense
power of the dramatic climax, when Datchery, the elderly man, is
re-transformed into Helena Landless, the young and handsome woman;
and when she reveals the seemingly impenetrable secret which had
been closed up in one guilty man's mind."

The situations are startling, I admit, but how would Canon
Crisparkle like them? He is, we know, to marry Helena, "the young
person, my dear," Miss Twinkleton would say, "who for months lived
alone, at inns, wearing a blue surtout, a buff waistcoat, and grey-
-" Here horror chokes the utterance of Miss Twinkleton. "Then she
was in the vault in ANOTHER disguise, not more womanly, at that
awful scene when poor Mr. Jasper was driven mad, so that he
confessed all sorts of nonsense, for, my dear, all the Close
believes that it WAS nonsense, and that Mr. Jasper was reduced to
insanity by persecution. And Mr. Crisparkle, with that elegant
dainty mother of his--it has broken her heart--is marrying this
half-caste gipsy TROLLOP, with her blue surtout and grey--oh, it is
a disgrace to Cloisterham!"

The climax, in fact, as devised by Mr. Cuming Walters, is rather
too dramatic for the comfort of a minor canon. A humorist like
Dickens ought to have seen the absurdity of the situation. Mr.
Walters MAY be right, Helena may be Datchery, but she ought not to
be.

WHO WAS THE PRINCESS PUFFER?

Who was the opium hag, the Princess Puffer? Mr. Cuming Walters
writes: "We make a guess, for Dickens gives us no solid facts.
But when we remember that not a word is said throughout the volume
of Jasper's antecedents, who he was, and where he came from; when
we remember that but for his nephew he was a lonely man; when we
see that he was both criminal and artist; when we observe his own
wheedling propensity, his false and fulsome protestations of
affection, his slyness, his subtlety, his heartlessness, his
tenacity; and when, above all, we know that the opium vice is
HEREDITARY, and that a YOUNG man would not be addicted to it unless
born with the craving; {5} then, it is not too wild a conjecture
that Jasper was the wayward progeny of this same opium-eating
woman, all of whose characteristics he possessed, and, perchance,
of a man of criminal instincts, but of a superior position. Jasper
is a morbid and diseased being while still in the twenties, a
mixture of genius and vice. He hates and he loves fiercely, as if
there were wild gipsy blood in his veins. Though seemingly a model
of decorum and devoted to his art, he complains of his "daily
drudging round" and "the cramped monotony of his existence." He
commits his crime with the ruthlessness of a beast, his own nature
being wholly untamed. If we deduce that his father was an
adventurer and a vagabond, we shall not be far wrong. If we deduce
that his mother was the opium-eater, prematurely aged, who had
transmitted her vicious propensity to her child, we shall almost
certainly be right."

WHO WAS JASPER?

Who was Jasper? He was the brother-in-law of the late Mr. Drood, a
respected engineer, and University man. We do not know whence came
Mrs. Drood, Jasper's sister, but is it likely that her mother
"drank heaven's-hard"--so the hag says of herself--then took to
keeping an opium den, and there entertained her son Jasper, already
an accomplished vocalist, but in a lower station than that to which
his musical genius later raised him, as lay Precentor? If the
Princess Puffer be, as on Mr. Cuming Walters's theory she is,
Edwin's long-lost grandmother, her discovery would be unwelcome to
Edwin. Probably she did not live much longer; "my lungs are like
cabbage nets," she says. Mr. Cuming Walters goes on -

"Her purpose is left obscure. How easily, however, we see
possibilities in a direction such as this. The father, perhaps a
proud, handsome man, deserts the woman, and removes the child. The
woman hates both for scorning her, but the father dies, or
disappears, and is beyond her vengeance. Then the child, victim to
the ills in his blood, creeps back to the opium den, not knowing
his mother, but immediately recognized by her. She will make the
child suffer for the sins of the father, who had destroyed her
happiness. Such a theme was one which appealed to Dickens. It
must not, however, be urged; and the crucial question after all is
concerned with the opium woman as one of the unconscious
instruments of justice, aiding with her trifle of circumstantial
evidence the Nemesis awaiting Jasper.

"Another hypothesis--following on the Carker theme in 'Dombey and
Son'--is that Jasper, a dissolute and degenerate man, lascivious,
and heartless, may have wronged a child of the woman's; but it is
not likely that Dickens would repeat the Mrs. Brown story."

Jasper, pere, father of John Jasper and of Mrs. Drood, however
handsome, ought not to have deserted Mrs. Jasper. Whether John
Jasper, prematurely devoted to opium, became Edwin's guardian at
about the age of fifteen, or whether, on attaining his majority, he
succeeded to some other guardian, is not very obvious. In short,
we cannot guess why the Princess Puffer hated Jasper, a paying
client of long standing. We are only certain that Jasper was a bad
fellow, and that the Princess Puffer said, "I know him, better than
all the Reverend Parsons put together know him." On the other
hand, Edwin "seems to know" the opium woman, when he meets her on
Christmas Eve, which may be a point in favour of her being his
long-lost grandmother.

Jasper was certainly tried and condemned; for Dickens intended "to
take Mr. Fildes to a condemned cell in Maidstone, or some other
gaol, in order to make a drawing." {6} Possibly Jasper managed to
take his own life, in the cell; possibly he was duly hanged.

Jasper, after all, was a failure as a murderer, even if we suppose
him to have strangled his nephew successfully. "It is obvious to
the most excruciatingly feeble capacity" that, if he meant to get
rid of proofs of the identity of Drood's body by means of
quicklime, it did not suffice to remove Drood's pin, watch, and
chain. Drood would have coins of the realm in his pockets, gold,
silver, bronze. Quicklime would not destroy these metallic
objects, nor would it destroy keys, which would easily prove
Drood's identity. If Jasper knew his business, he would, of
course, rifle ALL of Edwin's pockets minutely, and would remove the
metallic buttons of his braces, which generally display the maker's
name, or the tailor's. On research I find "H. Poole & Co., Savile
Row" on my buttons. In this inquiry of his, Jasper would have
discovered the ring in Edwin's breast pocket, and would have taken
it away. Perhaps Dickens never thought of that little fact: if he
did think of it, no doubt he found some mode of accounting for
Jasper's unworkmanlike negligence. The trouser-buttons would have
led any inquirer straight to Edwin's tailor; I incline to suspect
that neither Dickens nor Jasper noticed that circumstance. The
conscientious artist in crime cannot afford to neglect the humblest
and most obvious details.

CONCLUSION

According to my theory, which mainly rests on the unmistakable
evidence of the cover drawn by Collins under Dickens's directions,
all "ends well." Jasper comes to the grief he deserves: Helena,
after her period of mourning for Neville, marries Crisparkle: Rosa
weds her mariner. Edwin, at twenty-one, is not heart-broken, but,
a greatly improved character, takes, to quote his own words, "a
sensible interest in works of engineering skill, especially when
they are to change the whole condition of an undeveloped country"--
Egypt.

These conclusions are inevitable unless we either suppose Dickens
to have arranged a disappointment for his readers in the tableau of
Jasper and Drood, in the vault, on the cover, or can persuade
ourselves that not Drood, but some other young man, is revealed by
the light of Jasper's lantern. Now, the young man is very like
Drood, and very unlike the dark fierce Helena Landless: disguised
as Drood, this time, not as Datchery. All the difficulty as to why
Drood, if he escaped alive, did not at once openly denounce Jasper,
is removed when we remember, as Mr. Archer and I have independently
pointed out, that Drood, when attacked by Jasper, was (like Durdles
in the "unaccountable expedition") stupefied by drugs, and so had
no valid evidence against his uncle. Whether science is acquainted
with the drugs necessary for such purposes is another question.
They are always kept in stock by starving and venal apothecaries in
fiction and the drama, and are a recognized convention of romance.

So ends our unfolding of the Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Footnotes:

{1} Landless is not "Lackland," but a form of de Laundeles, a
Lothian name of the twelfth century, merged later in that of
Ormistoun.

{2} Life of Dickens, vol. iii. pp. 425-439.

{3} J. Cuming Walters, p. 102; Proctor, pp. 131-135. Mr. Cuming
Walters used an edition of 1896, apparently a reprint of a paper by
Proctor, written earlier than his final book of 1887. Hence the
error as to Mr. Proctor's last theory.

{4} Mrs. Perugini, the books say, but certainly a daughter.

{5} What would Weissmann say to all this?

{6} So Mr. Cuming Walters quotes Mr. Hughes, who quotes Sir L.
Fildes. HE believes that Jasper strangled Edwin with the black-
silk scarf, and, no doubt, Jasper was for long of that opinion
himself.

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