5. What Might Have Been

HIS gaze wan­dered from the win­dows to the stars, as if he would have read in them some­thing that was hid­den from him. Many of us would, if we could; but none of us so much as know our let­ters in the stars yet — or seem like­ly to do it, in this state of ex­is­tence — and few lan­guages can be read until their al­pha­bets are mas­tered.

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T

HESE clos­ing lines of chap­ter xvii in The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood are par­tic­u­lar­ly fit­ting as an in­tro­duc­tion to a study in­tend­ed to deal large­ly with the un­writ­ten half of Charles Dick­ens's last, un­fin­ished work. With­out too man­i­fest a striv­ing for ef­fect, we may con­sid­er the twen­ty-three chap­ters of the frag­ment we have today as so many win­dows open­ing upon a per­spec­tive of noc­tur­nal sky. That sky is speck­led with stars, and those stars are the fore­shad­ow­ings and in­ci­dents of the plot de­vel­oped by Dick­ens through the first six month­ly parts of his novel. Like old Hiram Grew­gious, we fix our crit­i­cal gaze upon those heav­en­ly bod­ies; we seek to read in them much that was hid­den from us when Dick­ens put down his pen for the last time on Wednes­day, June 8, 1870. Only a few hours later he suf­fered the stroke that proved fatal and ended for­ev­er the ac­tiv­i­ty of his vast cre­ative ge­nius. Ever since that day, men and women have sought to pen­e­trate the mys­tery left by his death, to read the stars ac­cord­ing to their var­ied abil­i­ties. I should like now to add an­oth­er read­ing to the long and im­pres­sive list, but whether I have mas­tered the al­pha­bet of the lan­guage of the stars that shine in the frag­men­tary fir­ma­ment called The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood will be for the read­er to judge.

What sort of novel have we to con­sid­er when we turn to the frag­ment that oc­cu­pied the mind of the nov­el­ist dur­ing a good por­tion of the last two years of his life? Gilbert Chester­ton, wide­ly ac­cept­ed as an au­thor­i­ty on the works of Dick­ens, speaks about it thus in his crit­i­cal study of the man: "His last book, The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood, de­pends en­tire­ly upon con­struc­tion, even upon a cen­tral­ized strat­e­gy. He staked ev­ery­thing upon a plot; he who had been the weak­est of plot­ters, weak­er than Sim Tap­per­tit. He es­sayed a de­tec­tive story, he who could never keep a se­cret; and he has kept it to this day. A new Dick­ens was re­al­ly being born when Dick­ens died." George San­tayana, who de­vot­ed one of his So­lil­o­quies in Eng­land and Later So­lil­o­quies to Dick­ens, states: "In his last book he was going to de­scribe a love that was pas­sion­ate and crim­i­nal." While the mas­ter of para­dox and the em­i­nent philoso­pher are both cor­rect in their ap­praisals, they might have gone a step far­ther. Edwin Drood is in­deed a de­tec­tive story with a com­pli­cat­ed plot, and it does in­volve a love that is not only pas­sion­ate but crim­i­nal. But in ad­di­tion, as I have en­deav­ored to make clear in pre­vi­ous stud­ies, it paints the psy­cho­log­i­cal por­trait of a mur­der­er with whom Charles Dick­ens iden­ti­fied him­self. Here, as in all his pre­vi­ous writ­ings, Dick­ens had some­thing per­son­al to say. What that was is to me one of the most in­ter­est­ing as­pects of the mys­tery.

Some of those who have tried their hands at read­ing the stars have pre­sent­ed their find­ings in the form of se­quels to the ex­ist­ing frag­ment. With­out any com­ment on the mer­its or faults of such in­di­vid­u­al con­clu­sions as have come to my at­ten­tion, I list them in chrono­log­i­cal order, for the ben­e­fit of those read­ers who may be in­ter­est­ed in them:

1. Or­pheus C. Kerr [R. H. Newell], The Cloven Foot, 1870.

2. Henry Mor­ford, John Jasper's Se­cret, 1871-1872.

3. The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. Com­plete. Part Sec­ond of the Mys­tery of Edwin Drood, by the spir­it-pen of Charles Dick­ens through a medi­um, 1873.

4. Gillan Vase [Mrs. Richard New­ton], A Great Mys­tery Solved, 1878.

5. The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. Com­plet­ed in 1914 by W. E. C.

6. Dick­ens's Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. Com­plet­ed by a Loyal Dick­en­sian, 1927.

7. Ed­ward Har­ris, John Jasper's Gate­house, 1931.

8. Bruce Graeme, Epi­logue, 1934.

My own feel­ing about such con­tin­u­a­tions of Edwin Drood is that writ­ers make a great mis­take in at­tempt­ing them. With all due re­spect for human in­ge­nu­ity, I hold that no one can ad­e­quate­ly carry on from where Dick­ens left off. Even though we con­sid­er our con­clu­sions log­i­cal and in­evitable, we still lack cer­tain­ty; nor can we ever achieve more than a fee­ble im­i­ta­tion of that style so pe­cu­liar­ly his own. A far more suc­cess­ful at­tempt to solve the mys­tery in fic­tion­al form was that em­ployed by Dr. Austin Free­man, who wrote The Mys­tery of An­geli­na Frood. Here we find Dick­ens's basic plot trans­ferred to en­tire­ly new sur­round­ings, and de­vel­oped with a fresh set of char­ac­ters.

But we may spec­u­late upon the for­ward move­ment of the novel in its un­writ­ten por­tion, study­ing the fore­shad­ow­ings and in­ci­dents al­ready given us or con­sid­er­ing cer­tain land­marks that have been used time and time again in at­tempts to ar­rive at some sat­is­fac­to­ry so­lu­tion of the mys­tery. Hav­ing writ­ten at some length con­cern­ing the Datch­ery as­sump­tion; the na­ture and ac­tiv­i­ties of John Jasper; the gen­e­sis of the novel; and the prob­lem of whether or not Edwin Drood was mur­dered, I in­tend to re­view in this final study what I shall call the less­er land­marks. These are four, as I see them, and com­prise the Sapsea frag­ment, the con­tro­ver­sial green cover of the month­ly parts, cer­tain minor char­ac­ters of the novel, and the use of hyp­no­tism through­out the story.

A few years after the death of Dick­ens, his friend John Forster found among the sheets of one of the nov­el­ist's other manuscripts "some de­tached slips of his writ­ing, on paper only half the size of that used for the tale, so cramped, in­ter­lined, and blot­ted as to be near­ly il­leg­i­ble, which on close in­spec­tion proved to be a scene in which Sapsea the auc­tion­eer is in­tro­duced as the prin­ci­pal fig­ure, among a group of char­ac­ters new to the story." This brief manuscript, en­ti­tled "How Mr. Sapsea ceased to be a mem­ber of the Eight Club. Told by him­self," is gen­er­al­ly known as the "Sapsea frag­ment." I do not be­lieve that it helps us great­ly to ar­rive at any sound con­clu­sion con­cern­ing the plot de­vel­op­ment in the un­writ­ten part of the novel.

I can­not ac­cept Forster's ex­pla­na­tion of the frag­ment: that Dick­ens, "hav­ing be­come a lit­tle ner­vous about the course of the tale, from a fear that he might have plunged too soon into the in­ci­dents lead­ing on to the catas­tro­phe, such as the Datch­ery as­sump­tion in the fifth num­ber (a mis­giv­ing he had cer­tain­ly ex­pressed to his sis­ter-in-law)," had de­cid­ed to "open some fresh veins of char­ac­ter in­ci­den­tal to the in­ter­est, though not di­rect­ly part of it, and so to han­dle them in con­nec­tion with Sapsea as a lit­tle to sus­pend the final de­vel­op­ment even while as­sist­ing to strength­en it." To my mind, this frag­ment rep­re­sents no more than a step taken by Dick­ens in the build­ing up of Sapsea's char­ac­ter. Told in the first per­son, it could hard­ly have been in­tro­duced into the nar­ra­tive of Edwin Drood, since the novel is writ­ten from the au­thor's om­nipresent point of view. But as a re­veal­ing study of the pompous Mayor of Clois­ter­ham, it is a lit­tle gem. Here is the solemn ass in all his glory, with his delu­sion that he knew the world, his pas­sion for em­u­lat­ing the Dean, and his con­ceit­ed be­lief that he was ca­pa­ble of han­dling men. I have no doubt that Dick­ens used this study when he came to the ac­tu­al writ­ing of Edwin Drood, but I look upon it as mere­ly pre­lim­i­nary ma­te­ri­al for the novel.

Nor do I be­lieve that Poker, the young man who pro­fessed to find in Sapsea a per­son­age high in the Church, was an early model for Dick Datch­ery. This Poker flat­ters the auc­tion­eer to the top of his bent, as does Datch­ery, and even as­serts that he came to the town (un­named in the frag­ment) for the sole pur­pose of see­ing and hear­ing him. But Datch­ery flat­ters him in a more sub­tle man­ner, and for a def­i­nite pur­pose: the glean­ing of in­for­ma­tion. The idea that Poker served as a model for Datch­ery may have arisen from the fact that the young man is rep­re­sent­ed as speak­ing to Sapsea by the church­yard, where Datch­ery con­vers­es with His Honor in one of the novel's choic­est scenes. Be­yond that co­in­ci­dence, how­ev­er, there is no sim­i­lar­i­ty be­tween the two men. No; I can see in this brief frag­ment noth­ing more than a trial sketch for what was later to be­come a more fin­ished por­trait.

The bluish green cover for the month­ly in­stal­ments of Edwin Drood pre­sents per­haps the most con­tro­ver­sial of all the sub­jects re­lat­ing to the novel; men­tioned soon­er or later by prac­ti­cal­ly ev­ery­one who has writ­ten about Edwin Drood, it has be­come some­thing of a mys­tery in its own right. Pre­sum­ably it was de­signed by Charles All­ston Collins, Dick­ens's son-in-law, for on Septem­ber 24, 1869, the nov­el­ist wrote to Fred­er­ic Chap­man, his pub­lish­er, as fol­lows: "Charles Collins wish­es to try his hand at il­lus­trat­ing my new book. I want him to try the cover first. Please send down to him at Gad's Hill, any of our old green cov­ers that you may have by you." And Dick­ens later wrote, at the end of a let­ter quot­ed by Forster: "Charles Collins has de­signed an ex­cel­lent cover."

In spite of this ev­i­dence, The Sphere, in the issue of Febru­ary 9, 1929, pub­lished an ar­ti­cle by Wal­ter Dex­ter, ed­i­tor of The Dick­en­sian, en­ti­tled "New Light on Edwin Drood " where­in Dex­ter stat­ed that new dis­cov­er­ies con­cern­ing the cover "were made in the au­tumn of 1926, when Pro­fes­sor C. F. Lehmann-Haupt was on a visit to Sir Henry and Lady Dick­ens. It was then that Lady Dick­ens (to whom the pro­fes­sor is dis­tant­ly re­lat­ed) told him that the final draw­ing was done by Luke Fildes." The orig­i­nal de­sign by Collins — in an un­fin­ished state — was re­pro­duced as an il­lus­tra­tion for this ar­ti­cle; it is in­ter­est­ing to note that Collins sketched in place of the three men on the wind­ing stair­case — men with whose ap­pear­ance every stu­dent of the novel is prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar — three hel­met­ed gen­tle­men equipped with trun­cheons and hand­cuffs; in other words, the po­lice. And in "New Facts Con­cern­ing Edwin Drood" (The Dick­en­sian, 1929) Pro­fes­sor Lehmann-Haupt writes: "Be­fore I made this im­por­tant fact pub­lic, I wrote to Lady Dick­ens ask­ing her kind­ly to con­firm it, which she did, say­ing: 'I did tell you that Charles Collins made the first draw­ing for the cover of Edwin Drood, but he fell ill and did not fin­ish it. Luke Fildes con­tin­ued and fin­ished the draw­ing with sev­er­al al­ter­ations.'" That is all I have been able to dis­cov­er in con­nec­tion with the ori­gin of the green cover; and since Sir Luke Fildes died in 1927, it is un­like­ly that he ex­pressed any opin­ion on the state­ments made by Pro­fes­sor Lehmann-Haupt.

When we con­tem­plate the cover it­self and ask the ques­tion, What clue or clues does it af­ford to the story as it might log­i­cal­ly have been de­vel­oped? We fall into the realm of mere con­jec­ture. On its dex­ter side, at­tached to the mea­ger wreath en­cir­cling the title: "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. / by Charles Dick­ens. / with il­lus­tra­tions," we find a few roses, some in the bud and some in full bloom. Here, I take it, is the sym­bol­ic pre­sen­ta­tion of the fem­i­nine in­flu­ence in the story; the love in­ter­est. In the upper right-hand cor­ner, a fe­male fig­ure sug­ges­tive of hap­pi­ness holds a flow­er above her head. The sin­is­ter side of the en­cir­cling wreath bears noth­ing but thorns, sug­ges­tive of the male el­e­ment, and per­haps a motif of mur­der. An aveng­ing fury with snake-like hair — or pos­si­bly a fig­ure em­blem­at­i­cal of tragedy, — dag­ger in hand, match­es the happy crea­ture on the right, and dom­i­nates the upper left-hand cor­ner. Ex­tend­ing be­tween these two fig­ures and oc­cu­py­ing al­most the en­tire upper third of the cover is a scene de­pict­ing Rosa and Edwin leav­ing the cathe­dral. Rosa's face is turned away from young Drood, who looks straight ahead; nei­ther of them has a happy ex­pres­sion. They are on the dex­ter side of the vi­gnette, and typ­i­fy the "boy and girl going apart from one an­oth­er." On the sin­is­ter side stands Jasper, right hand to mouth, gaz­ing at the young cou­ple. Two ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal gen­tle­men, pre­ced­ed by an equal num­ber of choir boys, are on Jasper's left. The scene is cer­tain­ly not in the novel, al­though in his "Num­ber Plans" for the fourth month­ly part Dick­ens wrote: "Last meet­ing of Rosa & Edwin in ["in" crossed out, caret in­sert­ed, and "out­side" writ­ten above] the Cathe­dral? Yes!'

Below this scene, on the dex­ter side, are three vi­gnettes de­scend­ing per­pen­dic­u­lar­ly to the bot­tom of the cover. The up­per­most of the three re­veals a girl or young woman, with long hair down her back, look­ing in­tent­ly at a plac­ard or bill where­on is vis­i­ble the word "lost." The fea­tures of this un­known per­son are not dis­cernible, but she ap­pears to be youth­ful. It has been ar­gued that the fig­ure rep­re­sents Rosa, flee­ing from Jasper to her guardian in Lon­don and stop­ping to look at one of the posters that Jasper caused to be cir­cu­lat­ed short­ly after Edwin's dis­ap­pear­ance. That the poster has been up for some time is in­fer­able from its down­ward-curl­ing cor­ner. I have said that this woman ap­pears to be youth­ful, but some­times I am not so cer­tain of her age; some­times I am in­clined to be­lieve that she may be the Opium Woman, for rea­sons to be given later in more de­tail. Cer­tain­ly I am con­vinced that the Opium Woman saw such plac­ards in Lon­don and made use of the knowl­edge gained there­from.

The next vi­gnette, im­me­di­ate­ly below the woman fac­ing the poster, de­picts a young lady seat­ed on a rus­tic bench. A man, kneel­ing at her right, is kiss­ing her hand. This man bears no re­sem­blance to the Jasper of the Cathe­dral scene, but de­spite that fact I feel sure that this pic­ture refers to the melo­dra­mat­ic in­ter­view be­tween Rosa and Jasper by the sun­di­al in the gar­den of the Nuns' House. Cer­tain­ly Sir Luke Fildes used a sim­i­lar type of bench in his text il­lus­tra­tion of that mov­ing en­counter. Some in­ter­preters of the cover have read into this pic­ture a pro­pos­al on the part of Tar­tar. Mr. Percy Car­den avers that the kneel­ing man is Neville Land­less avow­ing his love to Rosa, be­cause he has a mus­tache, and be­cause Miss Fer­di­nand, a pupil at Miss Twin­kle­ton's, "got into new trou­ble by sur­rep­ti­tious­ly clap­ping on a paper mous­tache at din­ner-time, and going through the mo­tions of aim­ing a wa­ter-bot­tle at Miss Gig­gles, who drew a table-spoon in de­fense." This episode took place on the day fol­low­ing the quar­rel be­tween Neville Land­less and Edwin Drood in Jasper's rooms. Inas­much as Miss Fer­di­nand was play­ing the part of young Land­less, Mr. Car­den in­fers that he must have worn a mus­tache, and so the man in the pic­ture is Neville. I have never been able to read into Miss Fer­di­nand's ac­tion more than a school­girl's nat­u­ral way of play­ing the part of a male, es­pe­cial­ly of a male whom she sup­pos­es to be a vil­lain. Nor am I per­turbed by the fact that the man and woman in the gar­den scene are not dressed in mourn­ing, as were Rosa and Jasper in the novel. When the cover was de­signed, Charles Dick­ens could not have had in mind every last minute de­tail of the story. And so I have no hes­i­ta­tion in ac­cept­ing this sketch as the scene by the sun­di­al.

The draw­ing at the very bot­tom of the dex­ter side shows the Opium Woman sit­ting on her bed­stead, pipe in hand, and hold­ing the con­tain­er from which she takes her "mix­ter" — al­though this con­tain­er is far too large to be a "thim­ble."

The sin­is­ter side of the cover has what ap­pears at first glance to be three sketch­es to match the ones I have just dis­cussed, and these I shall con­sid­er in as­cend­ing order. Right at the bot­tom is John Chi­na­man, a log­i­cal coun­ter­part of the Princess Puffer. Above him two men are climb­ing a wind­ing stair­case, pre­sum­ably in the cathe­dral tower. Above them again is a third man, mount­ing two steps at a time, bend­ing over the rail­ing and point­ing up­ward with his right hand. Much has been made of the fact that he points straight at Jasper in the cathe­dral scene. Since these three climbers re­place the po­lice­men in the orig­i­nal sketch made by Charles Collins, I infer that they are all going up the stair­case at the same time; that we should con­sid­er them part of a sin­gle draw­ing; and that we are not deal­ing with sep­a­rate as­cents at odd in­ter­vals. I have al­ways con­sid­ered this scene to rep­re­sent the pur­suit of Jasper, des­tined to reach its cli­max on the sum­mit of the cathe­dral tower. The top­most climber I take to be Tar­tar. The next in­di­vid­u­al, who is like­wise going up two steps at a time, I take to be Datch­ery. His face is so ob­scured by the stone pivot of the stairs that it is lit­tle more than a blur, but he is tall and an­gu­lar. The man low­est down on the stairs looks back with a mourn­ful ex­pres­sion; he, too, points up­ward, but with far less ve­he­mence in his ges­ture than that dis­played by the top­most climber. I be­lieve him to be Neville Land­less. Since no one of the three wears ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal dress, my pre­sump­tion is that Minor Canon Crisparkle is not vis­i­ble, al­though on his way up the stair­case.

With­in the cir­cle of roses and thorns just below the cap­tion "with il­lus­tra­tions" are a crossed key and spade, form­ing an arch above what is clear­ly Dur­dles's din­ner bun­dle. The bun­dle, by as­so­ci­a­tion, leads me to iden­ti­fy the key as that of the Sapsea tomb. The spade im­me­di­ate­ly sug­gests the dig­ging of graves, or the re­moval of quick­lime from the mound in Dur­dles's yard.

I have saved for final con­sid­er­a­tion the sketch at the bot­tom of the cover, a pen­dant to the cathe­dral scene above. This is the most con­tro­ver­sial pic­ture of all. A man hold­ing a lantern in his right hand is en­ter­ing some sort of room; he has pushed open a door, which has swung back to his left, and he seems to have his left hand on the knob. Be­fore him stands a youth dressed in a long pale­tot and wear­ing a broad-brimmed hat. This young man's left hand is hold­ing the flap of his coat; he is not thrust­ing his hand in­side the coat, as some have as­sumed.

The man with the lantern has in­vari­ably been taken to be John Jasper. I do not demur. I am equal­ly cer­tain that the young man fac­ing Jasper is nei­ther Neville Land­less nor his sis­ter He­le­na in the guise of Dick Datch­ery. Since he close­ly re­sem­bles the youth in the cathe­dral scene, I as­sume him to be Edwin Drood.

But I do not for one mo­ment be­lieve, as did Richard Proc­tor and oth­ers, that this sketch rep­re­sents a tomb, or that Edwin Drood is con­fronting his wicked uncle who has come into the buri­al place of his nephew to seek the ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies, as I am con­vinced he ul­ti­mate­ly did. The room or cham­ber — what­ev­er it may be called — is too large for a tomb, and there is no trace of ei­ther cof­fin or sar­coph­a­gus. Fur­ther­more the door has a rim lock, of a type not usu­al­ly found in the en­trances to tombs, and I can de­tect ev­i­dence to in­di­cate that it is pan­eled. It swings in­ward and to the left, as would a door open­ing out of a hall­way. Be­sides, if I were John Jasper, and were en­ter­ing the tomb where­in I had con­cealed the body of the nephew I had mur­dered, I cer­tain­ly would not do so with a light­ed lantern in my hand. I should wait until the door were tight­ly closed; then and only then would I light the lantern. No; this "place" is not a tomb. I have al­ways felt it to be a room in the gate­house, and the vi­gnette it­self to be in­dica­tive of an event that took place on the night of Edwin Drood's mur­der. Let me re­con­struct the scene. The din­ner given by Jasper to young Land­less and his nephew on that mo­men­tous Christ­mas Eve has been over for some hours; the youths have shak­en hands and patched up their quar­rel, and the time has passed pleas­ant­ly enough. But the "storms of wind" men­tioned by Dick­ens in his "plans" have arisen; the two young men go down to the river to watch the ac­tion of this tem­pest. We learn from the story that they did not spend more than ten min­utes at the water's edge. But how long did it take them to get there? And how much time did Edwin Drood take in re­turn­ing to the gate­house after he had left Neville at Mr. Crisparkle's door?

Is it not con­ceiv­able that Jasper, in the over­wrought state of mind that must have been his on the very night when he had planned to mur­der Edwin, could not await calm­ly his nephew's re­turn, but set forth to meet him, lantern in hand? And is it not equal­ly pos­si­ble that Edwin came back to the gate­house with­out hav­ing en­coun­tered his uncle, and ar­rived there be­fore him? Such, at least, is my con­tention.

In The Dick­en­sian for 1929 there is an ar­ti­cle by H. W. Jamieson and F. M. B. Rosen­thal, en­ti­tled, "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood — Some New Keys that Fit." These writ­ers like­wise refuse to ac­cept the the­o­ry that the Jasper of the much-dis­put­ed vi­gnette is en­ter­ing a tomb, and offer an ex­pla­na­tion not only high­ly orig­i­nal in na­ture but based upon their own per­son­al in­ves­ti­ga­tion as well.

"In Rochester Cathe­dral it­self [they write] . . . there is a door which ex­act­ly tal­lies with the door in the pic­ture — a high, mas­sive door with a rim lock, that opens out­wards from right to left as one comes from the side on which the lock is fixed. This door is in the South Choir aisle and opens on a short flight of steps, at the foot of which lies the pas­sage at the side of the chan­cel into which Jasper and Dur­dles emerged from the crypt on the night of the un­ac­count­able ex­pe­di­tion." And fur­ther on they state: "The lamp is an­oth­er very im­por­tant point in favour of this being the spot in­di­cat­ed in the pic­ture. It is not the type of lamp a man would carry about with him, but it is ex­act­ly the type that would be found in the Cathe­dral."

I should like to add in pass­ing that it pleased me to find that these writ­ers con­sid­er Grew­gious to be Datch­ery, and that they ven­ture the opin­ion that quick­lime may have pre­served Drood's body. Since I had ar­rived at the same con­clu­sion with re­gard to the old lawyer long be­fore I read their ar­ti­cle, my plea­sure will be read­i­ly un­der­stood. And their sug­ges­tion that quick­lime might pre­serve a body led me to ob­tain the sci­en­tif­ic con­fir­ma­tion of that fact in­tro­duced in my study, "Was Edwin Drood Mur­dered?"

But to re­turn to the cover. The read­er must have gath­ered by this time that very lit­tle can be de­duced from it to elu­ci­date the fu­ture plot de­vel­op­ment of the novel. Such is in­deed the case. All that I have said — and I could have gone on at far greater length-shows that the col­lec­tion of sketch­es served its pur­pose well: the cover did un­doubt­ed­ly at­tract at­ten­tion and arouse in­ter­est in the minds of Dick­ens's read­ers even be­fore they re­al­ized that the story they were fol­low­ing from month to month would never reach com­ple­tion. But I hon­est­ly doubt that it did much more. And so it is log­i­cal to con­clude that Charles Dick­ens was pur­pose­ly vague in his in­struc­tions to Collins and to Sir Luke Fildes, and that he would hard­ly have given away the heart of his mys­tery in what was ac­tu­al­ly of no more sig­nif­i­cance than our dust jack­ets today.

When we take up the minor char­ac­ters of the novel, we find a far more fer­tile field for our con­jec­tures con­cern­ing the prob­a­ble de­vel­op­ment of plot. The Opium Woman, Deputy, Baz­zard, and Luke Honeythun­der all had more or less im­por­tant parts to play; but of these four the Opium Woman looms largest.

De­spite her in­fre­quent ap­pear­ances — she is to be found only in chap­ters i, xiv, and xxiii of the novel's print­ed ver­sion — the Opium Woman is a most con­sis­tent­ly drawn char­ac­ter, and one who was des­tined to exert a def­i­nite in­flu­ence on the course of the story. To be sure, Dick­ens orig­i­nal­ly in­tend­ed to have her make a brief en­trance into the chap­ter en­ti­tled "Mr. Dur­dles and Friend." That pur­pose is ev­i­denced by his "plans" for this par­tic­u­lar sec­tion of the novel, for we read: "Carry through the woman of the ist Chap­ter." The in­junc­tion is un­der­lined, but be­yond it, on the left-hand side of the sheet, we dis­cov­er an em­phat­ic: "No." Now "Mr. Dur­dles and Friend" was to have been chap­ter viii of Part II; but when Dick­ens learned in De­cem­ber, 1869, that his first two num­bers were, to­geth­er, twelve print­ed pages too short, he trans­posed this chap­ter from Num­ber II to Num­ber I, where it be­came chap­ter v, and was obliged to re­mod­el Num­ber II. His orig­i­nal manuscript con­tains a scene near the end of "Mr. Dur­dles and Friend" where­in Jasper and the stone­ma­son over­hear the Opium Woman talk­ing to Deputy just out­side the door of the Trav­ellers' Twopen­ny.

The keynote of the Opium Woman's char­ac­ter is her de­sire for money, so clear­ly shown in her en­coun­ters with John Jasper, Edwin Drood, and Dick Datch­ery. In the mar­velous open­ing chap­ter of the story, she says to John Jasper: "Ye'll re­mem­ber like a good soul, won't ye, that the mar­ket price [of opium] is dr­ef­fle high just now? More nor three shillings and six­pence for a thim­ble­ful! — Ye'll pay me ac­cord­ing­ly, deary, won't ye?" Of Edwin Drood, on the eve of the fate­ful din­ner at the gate­house, with his uncle and young Land­less, she makes a forthright de­mand: "Look'ee, deary; give me three-and-six­pence, and don't you be afeard for me." And later: "If you don't give me three-and-six­pence, don't give me a brass far­den. And if you do give me three-and-six­pence, deary, I'll tell you some­thing." When she is walk­ing with Datch­ery through the streets of Clois­ter­ham short­ly after her first meet­ing him, she asks: "Wouldn't you help me to pay for my trav­eller's lodg­ing, dear gen­tle­man, and to pay my way along? I am a poor soul, I am in­deed, and trou­bled with a grievous cough."

There is method in Dick­ens's em­pha­sis on this urge for money, the old crone's out­stand­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic. Just as in his re­it­er­a­tion of her ten­den­cy to self-pity, which goes hand in hand with her de­sire for gold. "O me, O me, my lungs is weak, my lungs is bad! — Ah, poor me, poor me, my poor hand shakes like to drop off!" is her re­frain to Jasper. "My lungs is weak­ly; my lungs is dr­ef­fle bad. Poor me, poor me, my cough is rat­tling dry!" Thus she seeks to play upon the sym­pa­thy of young Drood. With Datch­ery she is less in­sis­tent upon her in­fir­mi­ties; she seems to rec­og­nize the fact that the white-haired stranger is not the man to be taken in. But as we have seen, she does work in her lament, "I am a poor soul, I am in­deed, and trou­bled with a grievous cough."

Now so strong an urge for money — spent be­yond a doubt in the pur­chase of opium, — es­pe­cial­ly when linked with the self-pity she feels as the re­sult of her wretched con­di­tion, con­sti­tutes a preg­nant in­cen­tive to black­mail. And here, I be­lieve, is the rea­son why she comes to Clois­ter­ham for the first time in search of Jasper. The open­ing chap­ter is pur­pose­ly vague as to time, but Dick­ens does tell us: "Not only is the day wan­ing, but the year. — There has been rain this af­ter­noon, and a win­try shud­der goes among the lit­tle pools on the cracked, un­even flag­stones ..." Cer­tain­ly it is late au­tumn as the story opens. When the Opium Woman makes her first visit to the cathe­dral town in quest of Jasper, it is short­ly be­fore De­cem­ber 24, the day she en­coun­ters Edwin Drood. Now Jasper has not been to her squalid den, so far as we can as­cer­tain, since the oc­ca­sion of his de­bauch de­scribed with some de­tail in the open­ing chap­ter. Is it not con­ceiv­able that she has come to dun him for money?

We do know that the choir­mas­ter has been smok­ing opium on his own, as the fol­low­ing pas­sages dis­close.

1. "He takes from a locked press a pe­cu­liar-look­ing pipe, which he fills — but not with to­bac­co — and, hav­ing ad­just­ed the con­tents of the bowl, very care­ful­ly, with a lit­tle in­stru­ment, as­cends an inner stair­case ..." Chap­ter v.

2. " 'One would think, Jasper, you had been try­ing a new medicine for that oc­ca­sion­al in­dis­po­si­tion of yours'

" 'No, re­al­ly? That's well ob­served; for I have.' " Chap­ter xiv.

But while it is true that Jasper has smoked opium in the pri­va­cy of his cham­bers, thus de­priv­ing the old crone of trade, there is noth­ing to in­di­cate that he has done so on or short­ly be­fore De­cem­ber 24. An­drew Lang is there­fore mak­ing a gra­tu­itous as­sump­tion when he says, in "The Puz­zle of Dick­ens's Last Plot" (p. 25): "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." Lang has no sound basis for mak­ing such an as­ser­tion; even the Minor Canon refers to Jasper's calm state on De­cem­ber 24.

I sup­pose Lang was led into this error by a speech made by the Opium Woman much later in the story. When she em­barks upon her sec­ond pur­suit of Jasper, in the clos­ing chap­ter of the frag­ment, she says: "I'll not miss ye twice! I lost ye last, where that om­nibus you got into nigh your jour­ney's end plied be­twixt the sta­tion and the place [Clois­ter­ham]. I wasn't so much as cer­tain that you even went right on to the place. Now I know ye did." But the Opium Woman here refers to a visit made by Jasper prior to De­cem­ber 24; she refers — if she has told the truth about the num­ber of times she has been in Clois­ter­ham — to that Mon­day night when she was seen at the Trav­ellers' Twopen­ny by Jasper and Dur­dles, while the for­mer was on his way home after the quar­rel be­tween his nephew and young Land­less, and his sub­se­quent visit to the house of Minor Canon Crisparkle. In other words, we must con­clude that the Opium Woman re­mained in Clois­ter­ham for some lit­tle time, al­most a fort­night, since the fa­mous quar­rel oc­curred, in all prob­a­bil­i­ty, on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 12. After Dick­ens de­cid­ed to re­move the old hag from chap­ter viii, which was to be­come chap­ter v when he was obliged to trans­pose it from Part II to Part I be­cause of the short­age in print­ed pages, he may have over­looked or for­got­ten the time el­e­ments in­volved, and may have pro­ceed­ed later on the as­sump­tion that the Opium Woman ac­tu­al­ly had ap­peared in Clois­ter­ham on the night of the quar­rel. What­ev­er un­cer­tain­ty aris­es in this ques­tion about when the woman ar­rived in Clois­ter­ham for the first time is due, I be­lieve, to that un­for­tu­nate trans­po­si­tion of a chap­ter.

At any rate, I am con­vinced that the Opium Woman must have been in Clois­ter­ham prior to De­cem­ber 24, and that she had seen Rosa and Edwin to­geth­er, and even over­heard some of their con­ver­sa­tion. Such a con­vic­tion is in­evitable if one stud­ies care­ful­ly what she says when she is found by Edwin on that par­tic­u­lar date. It will be re­mem­bered that the young cou­ple walked in the neigh­bor­hood of the cathe­dral and the river on Fri­day, De­cem­ber 23, for Edwin says to Rosa: "I dine with the dear fel­low [his uncle] to­mor­row and next day — Christ­mas Eve and Christ­mas Day." They sat upon some ruins, and strolled by the river­side, where they re­mained until after sun­set. Then they came at last to the elm trees by the cathe­dral, and said their farewells, and there John Jasper saw their part­ing kiss.

On the next day — De­cem­ber 24 — Edwin meets the Opium Woman at dusk in the Monks' Vine­yard. And what does she say to him? She an­nounces that she has come from Lon­don. "I came here, look­ing for a nee­dle in a haystack [mean­ing Jasper], and I ain't found it." She in­forms him that she smokes opium; that if he will give her money, she will tell him some­thing. When he does give her some, she says: "Bless ye! Hark'ee, dear genl'mn. What's your Chris'en name?" Why should she put a lead­ing ques­tion like that if she had never seen him be­fore? And mark what fol­lows. He gives her his name, where­upon she mur­murs: "Edwin, Edwin, Edwin. Is the short of that name Eddy?"

Now here is con­clu­sive ev­i­dence that the old hag has seen and over­heard the cou­ple on the pre­ced­ing day, for Dick­ens has told us that no one but Rosa ever calls young Drood "Eddy." This con­clu­sion is strength­ened by her very next speech, after Edwin has replied in the af­fir­ma­tive: "Don't sweet­hearts call it so?" Can there be any fur­ther doubt that she has seen Edwin with Rosa?

"How should I know?" is Edwin's an­swer to her last ques­tion.

"Haven't you a sweet­heart, upon your soul?" she coun­ters.

"None."

She turns away, but Edwin re­minds her that she was to tell him some­thing.

"So I was, so I was," is her re­join­der. "Well, then. You be thank­ful that your name ain't Ned."

Since this is Jasper's ha­bit­u­al nick­name for his nephew, the in­fer­ence that the Opium Woman has heard Jasper men­tion it in wild talk dur­ing his de­bauch­es at her den leaps to the mind. She is be­gin­ning to as­so­ci­ate Jasper with the young man stand­ing be­fore her through the media of "Edwin," "Eddy," and "Ned."

"Why?" asks Edwin.

"Be­cause it's a bad name to have just now."

"How a bad name?"

"A threat­ened name. A dan­ger­ous name."

Jasper has talked in his opi­um-in­duced dreams; no other con­clu­sion is ten­able.

"The proverb says that threat­ened men live long," is Drood's reply.

"Then Ned — so threat­ened is he, wher­ev­er he may be while I am a-talk­ing to you, deary [note the sub­tle way in which the woman states in­di­rect­ly her knowl­edge that young Drood is Ned], should live to all eter­ni­ty!"

And so Dick­ens drops an­oth­er red her­ring to coun­ter­act such sus­pi­cions as may have been aroused in the read­er's mind.

Like the three Weird Sis­ters who were weav­ing the fates of Mac­beth and Ban­quo in Shake­speare's great tragedy, the Opium Woman plays her part in the re­spec­tive des­tinies of John Jasper and his nephew. She has warned Edwin of the dan­ger over­shad­ow­ing him be­cause he has sat­is­fied her greed for money. The next move is up to him. But we are told that he re­solves to say noth­ing of all this to his uncle on that night.

It should be noted at this point in the novel that the old crone does not know Jasper's name, his call­ing, or even the fact that he is a res­i­dent of Clois­ter­ham. That is ev­i­dent from what she says in chap­ter xxiii: "I wasn't so much as cer­tain that you even went right on to the place." But she must have had a dawn­ing re­al­iza­tion of a close tie of some sort be­tween the man who came to her den to smoke opium and the youth she now knows as "Edwin."

When she makes her third ap­pear­ance in the den with Jasper, she has be­come more sub­tle in her deal­ings with the choir­mas­ter. I have no doubt that her chance meet­ing with Edwin has oc­cu­pied her thoughts on more than one oc­ca­sion; that she has turned over in her mind ways and means to cap­i­tal­ize on her mea­ger in­for­ma­tion. I am equal­ly cer­tain that she has seen copies of the plac­ard dis­tribut­ed in Lon­don through Jasper's ef­forts. Now al­though Dick­ens does not say this in so many words, it is rea­son­able to infer that Edwin's full name ap­peared on that plac­ard; I am there­fore con­vinced that the old crone knows by now who the lost youth re­al­ly is.

After light­ing her can­dle, she rec­og­nizes her vis­i­tor, who has not been to see her for some time.

"I didn't sup­pose you could have kept away, alive, so long," she says, "from the poor old soul with the real re­ceipt for mix­ing it. And you are in mourn­ing, too! Why didn't you come and have a pipe or two of com­fort? Did they leave you money, per­haps, and so you didn't want com­fort?"

Al­ways the ques­tion of money! And we should note that it is not Jasper's mourn­ing at­tire alone that prompts the old hag to take for grant­ed the death of some per­son close to the choir­mas­ter.

"Who was they as died, deary?"

She is be­gin­ning to pump Jasper; her mind goes back to Edwin, to what she has read on the plac­ards.

"A rel­a­tive," he replies short­ly.

"Died of what, lovey?"

"Prob­a­bly, Death," is the curt an­swer.

She seeks to pla­cate her vis­i­tor, who pre­pares him­self for the opium pipe.

"Now you begin to look like your­self," she says. "Now I begin to know my old cus­tomer in­deed!"

There is a dou­ble mean­ing in her last state­ment, for she has come to be­lieve that Edwin's dis­ap­pear­ance has the smell of mur­der about it, and that his mur­der­er lies be­fore her. And when she says, with ref­er­ence to her wares, "He's going to take it in an art­ful form now, my deary dear!" she means that the "mix­ter" has been weak­ened by in­tent, so that she may get the smok­er to talk. I have no doubt that she had long been plan­ning for just such an op­por­tu­ni­ty.

It fi­nal­ly dawns on Jasper that the mix­ture is less po­tent than be­fore. When he says as much, she is quick to reply: "It's just the same. Al­ways the iden­ti­cal same." But we may be cer­tain it is not.

As Jasper goes through what amounts to a con­fes­sion of the mur­der of his nephew, the old crone is at his side, prompt­ing him to con­tin­ue, try­ing to pump him, like some evil bird of prey de­ter­mined to tear his se­cret from his breast. And when at last he suc­cumbs even to the weak­er mix­ture of the drug and sinks into a stu­por, she tries in vain to rouse him and flicks his face with the back of her hand.

"I heard ye say once, I heard ye say once, when I was lying where you're lying, and you were mak­ing your spec­u­la­tions upon me, 'Un­in­tel­li­gi­ble!' I heard you say so, of two more than me. But don't ye be too sure al­ways; don't ye be too sure, beau­ty!"

Jasper's wild words have been full of mean­ing — for her.

And present­ly she adds: "Not so po­tent as it once was? Ah! per­haps not at first. You may be more right there. Prac­tice makes per­fect. I may have learned the se­cret how to make ye talk, deary."

She might well have quot­ed an­oth­er proverb: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I do not see how Dick­ens could have made it more ev­i­dent that from then on she in­tends to black­mail Jasper.

When he leaves the den, she puts her plan into im­me­di­ate ex­e­cu­tion, fol­low­ing him to his mean hotel in the back of Alder­s­gate Street. As soon as he has come out again, she fol­lows him for a short dis­tance, then en­ters the hotel her­self.

"Is the gen­tle­man from Clois­ter­ham in­doors?"

She knows now, be­yond a shad­ow of a doubt, that he is from the cathe­dral town.

"Just gone out."

"Un­lucky. When does the gen­tle­man re­turn to Clois­ter­ham?"

"At six this evening."

She thanks her in­for­mant and hur­ries out. And then comes the gloat­ing speech that proves her de­ter­mi­na­tion to black­mail the man who has been her best cus­tomer.

"I'll not miss ye twice! I lost ye last, where that om­nibus you got into nigh your jour­ney's end plied be­twixt the sta­tion and the place. I wasn't so much as cer­tain that you even went right on to the place. Now I know ye did. My gen­tle­man from Clois­ter­ham, I'll be there be­fore ye, and bide your com­ing. I've swore my oath that I'll not miss ye twice!"

And so the harpy be­gins to close in on her prey.

I have never been per­suad­ed that the Opium Woman is any­thing more than John Jasper's evil ge­nius, a sor­did crea­ture who has made the most of an avail­able op­por­tu­ni­ty. The greed for money so strong­ly im­plant­ed in her by Dick­ens has led to an in­evitable con­clu­sion: black­mail. That the old crone is re­lat­ed to Jasper by any tie of blood seems to me to be utter non­sense. So when J. Cum­ing Wal­ters makes a state­ment to that ef­fect, I can­not let it pass un­chal­lenged. In Clues to Dick­ens's Mys­tery of Edwin Drood, he says of Jasper: "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 most cer­tain­ly be right."

To this I says, "Non­sense!" We know that Jasper was some "six-and-twen­ty" years old when the story opens. We know fur­ther that the Opium Woman says of her­self: "I got Heav­ens-hard drunk for six­teen year afore I took to this [opium]; but this don't hurt me, not to speak of." What we do not know is how long she has been en­gaged in the traf­fic of the drug. But de­spite this lack of knowl­edge — and de­spite the fact that we are not told her real age, — how can Wal­ters argue that she is John Jasper's moth­er who trans­mit­ted a vi­cious propen­si­ty for opium to her son after he was born? From what he has said be­fore, he does not use the term "trans­mit­ted" mere­ly as a syn­onym for "hand­ed on," with­out any im­pli­ca­tion that Jasper's ad­dic­tion to the drug was a mat­ter of in­her­i­tance. He de­duces that the ad­dic­tion was in­her­it­ed. His de­duc­tion sim­ply does not square with the facts in the case. If what he says were so — and it is not, — then the Opium Woman must have known that Jasper was her son. Now we shall see that when the old crone meets Datch­ery she has no inkling what­ev­er of Jasper's name, pro­fes­sion, or even his place of res­i­dence in Clois­ter­ham.

Wal­ters of­fers a sec­ond the­o­ry — and to my mind this fact im­plies that even he en­ter­tained some doubt about his first; it also in­volves a close tie be­tween the Opium Woman and 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." This con­cept leaves me as cold as the for­mer, but I do agree that Dick­ens would hard­ly re­peat the Mrs. Brown story. It strikes me that Wal­ters has cu­ri­ous­ly mis­un­der­stood the na­ture of John Jasper. The man is a drug ad­dict, to be sure, but he is nei­ther dis­so­lute nor de­gen­er­ate. Las­civ­i­ous, yes; so far as his pas­sion for Rosa is of a lust­ful kind. Heart­less, yes; for he killed the nephew whom he once loved — just as Dick­ens de­stroyed his fam­i­ly life when he forced a deed of sep­a­ra­tion on his wife and fol­lowed the urge of his in­fat­u­a­tion for a young ac­tress.

But let us ob­serve the Opium Woman in her as­so­ci­a­tion with Dick Datch­ery. Soon after she meets the de­tect­ing per­son­al­i­ty of the novel, she learns Jasper's full name and where he lives. She like­wise ob­tains the in­for­ma­tion that he sings in the cathe­dral choir. None of these facts had she pos­sessed be­fore. We may be sure of that when Dick­ens writes: "The burst of tri­umph in which she thanks him does not es­cape the no­tice of the sin­gle buffer of an easy tem­per liv­ing idly on his means. He glances at her; clasps his hands be­hind him, as the wont of such buffers is; and lounges along the echo­ing Precincts at her side." Her man­i­fest glee at learn­ing what she had never known be­fore makes Dick Datch­ery want to know more about her and her in­ter­est in Jasper.

He sug­gests that she may go up at once to Mr. Jasper's rooms.

She shakes her head, as "she eyes him with a cun­ning smile."

"O! you don't want to speak to him?"

She shakes her head again "and forms with her lips a sound­less 'No.'" She is not to be rushed into a meet­ing with Jasper; she wants time to gloat over her new-found in­for­ma­tion and to lay her plans with care.

Mr. Datch­ery seeks to learn from whence she comes, but she evades his art­ful­ly framed ques­tion. He sees through her greedy na­ture, how­ev­er, and his rat­tling of loose coins in his trousers' pock­ets brings forth the in­evitable re­quest for money, fol­lowed by the state­ment that she has been in Clois­ter­ham only once be­fore in all her life.

Pure chance has brought them to the Monks' Vine­yard, where the sur­round­ings — plus the still rat­tling coins — prompt her to rec­ol­lect her in­ter­view with Edwin.

"By this token, though you mayn't be­lieve it," she says. "That a young gen­tle­man gave me three-and-six­pence as I was cough­ing my breath away on this very grass. I asked him for three-and-six­pence, and he gave it me."

She hopes Mr. Datch­ery will take the hint.

When that gen­tle­man mere­ly sug­gests that it was a lit­tle cool on her part to name her sum, she hur­ries into an ex­pla­na­tion of why she want­ed the money. She con­fess­es that she wants opium; she states that it was last Christ­mas Eve that the young gen­tle­man gave her money. She goes so far as to re­veal the young gen­tle­man's name: Edwin.

I am al­ways im­pressed by the artistry with which Dick­ens han­dles this scene. The Opium Woman has given Datch­ery in­valu­able in­for­ma­tion sim­ply be­cause she craves the means of buy­ing her fa­vorite drug. She is act­ing through­out in char­ac­ter. At the same time, what the old crone does and says gives a new twist to the plot de­vel­op­ment of the story, since it paves the way for the sub­se­quent use Dick Datch­ery will make of her.

"How do you know the young gen­tle­man's name?" he asks.

"I asked him for it, and he told it me. I only asked him the two ques­tions, what was his Chris'en name, and whether he'd a sweet­heart? And he an­swered, Edwin, and he hadn't."

He gives her some money, and "with many servile thanks she goes her way."

But just as she is weav­ing her plans to black­mail Jasper, who has de­liv­ered him­self into her hands, so she will be hence­forth a pawn in the game whose moves are di­rect­ed by Dick Datch­ery. When he sees her in the cathe­dral on the fol­low­ing morn­ing — he has learned from Deputy that she plans to go there, — he is watch­ing for her re­ac­tion to Jasper's ap­pear­ance. He does not have to wait long to find out what it is. While Jasper chants and sings, she "shakes her fist at him be­hind the pil­lar's friend­ly shel­ter." And again: "she hugs her­self in her lean arms, and then shakes both fists at the lead­er of the Choir."

To her sim­ple mind, a man oc­cu­py­ing so ex­alt­ed a po­si­tion — for such Jasper's of­fice must seem to her — is a far riper sub­ject for black­mail than she had an­tic­i­pat­ed. She can­not pos­si­bly re­strain her un­holy glee. Her ac­tions do not es­cape the no­tice of Dick Datch­ery.

He speaks to her out­side the cathe­dral.

"Well, mis­tress. Good morn­ing. You have seen him?"

Still en­rap­tured with her ad­di­tion­al knowl­edge, she ex­claims: "/'ve seen him, deary; /'ve seen him!"

"And you know him?"

"Know him! Bet­ter far than all the Rev­erend Par­sons put to­geth­er know him!"

And in­deed she does, for she is con­vinced that he has mur­dered his nephew; she is con­vinced that she holds in her power a rich prize: a man who will pay as much as she may de­mand to keep safe his hor­rid se­cret and main­tain his po­si­tion in the Church. It is the re­al­iza­tion of what has gone through her mind that leads Dick Datch­ery to per­form a cer­tain ac­tion be­fore start­ing in upon his break­fast, pre­pared by Mrs. Tope.

"Be­fore sit­ting down to it, he opens his cor­ner-cup­board door; takes his bit of chalk from its shelf; adds one thick line to the score, ex­tend­ing from the top of the cup­board door to the bot­tom; and then falls to with an ap­petite."

Those were the last words of his novel Charles Dick­ens was ever to write, but in set­ting them down he in­formed his read­ers that Dick Datch­ery con­sid­ered the Opium Woman the most valu­able agent he could em­ploy in the track­ing down of John Jasper.

The imp­ish Deputy, a "hideous small boy" of un­cer­tain age, was like­wise to play a part of some im­por­tance in The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood, al­though he ap­pears in only four chap­ters of the ex­ist­ing frag­ment. Dick­ens has drawn him with the same care he ex­pend­ed on the Opium Woman, and the name­less waif moves us in much the same way as Gavroche, the gamin of Les Misérables.

I have called him name­less, for "Deputy" is no more than a term in­dica­tive of his lowly oc­cu­pa­tion at the Trav­ellers' Twopen­ny. In a con­tri­bu­tion to House­hold Words, pub­lished June 14, 1851, "On Duty with In­spec­tor Field," Dick­ens wrote: "Why Deputy, In­spec­tor Field can't say. He only knows that the man who takes care of the beds and lodgers is al­ways called so." "Deputy" is like­wise a syn­onym for "agent," so we shall not be sur­prised to find that this tat­ter­de­malion is to be­come an as­sis­tant of Dick Datch­ery's, and that he, too, is to be in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing John Jasper to jus­tice.

When we first meet him in the chap­ter en­ti­tled "Mr. Dur­dles and Friend," we are con­scious of his al­most in­stinc­tive ha­tred of the choir­mas­ter. Being such a small lad, he talks big to make up for his diminu­tive stature; but there is no mis­tak­ing the an­tipa­thy un­der­ly­ing the very first words he hurls at Jasper in lieu of the stones clutched in his hands: "Yes, I'll give 'em you down your throat, if you come a-ketch­ing hold of me. I'll smash your eye, if you don't look out!"

An in­tense in­di­vid­u­al­ist, Deputy re­vers­es the nor­mal order of pro­ce­dure in so­ci­ety through his quaint task of ston­ing Dur­dles home: the child looks after the man. And just as re­li­gion and the law are to be ar­rayed against John Jasper in the per­sons of Minor Canon Crisparkle and Hiram Grew­gious, so the low­est rank of the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy will work against him in Deputy, one of its most hum­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

In "A Night with Dur­dles," this lad's ha­tred of Jasper is again man­i­fest; once more em­pha­sis is laid on the choir­mas­ter's eye, al­most as if Deputy sensed the hyp­not­ic power pos­sessed by Jasper. "I'll blind yer, s'elp me!" cries Deputy. "I'll stone yer eyes out, s'elp me! If I don't have yer eye­sight, bel­lows me!" I shall have more to say about John Jasper's mes­mer­ic abil­i­ties later on; it is worth not­ing that they are ap­par­ent even to this boy.

Dick­ens's mem­o­ran­dum for his manuscript "Plans" con­cern­ing Deputy's ap­pear­ance in this chap­ter is not with­out its sig­nif­i­cance for the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the plot. "Keep the boy sus­pend­ed," is what he wrote. There is no doubt that Deputy has seen Jasper at work after the "un­ac­count­able ex­pe­di­tion" has cul­mi­nat­ed in Dur­dles's drugged dream. When the boy cries out to Jasper, who ac­cus­es him of eaves­drop­ping: "Yer lie, I haven't. I'd only jist come out for my 'elth when I see you two a-com­ing out of the Kin-freed­er­el," we know that he is lying. Just as he lies in a more hu­mor­ous vein in chap­ter xviii, when Datch­ery comes upon him ston­ing a sheep and ac­cus­es him of lam­ing it. "Yer lie," is the lad's in­stant re­tort. "'E went and lamed is­self. I see 'im do it, and I giv' 'im a shy as a Wid­dy-warn­ing to 'im not to go a-bruisin' 'is mas­ter's mut­ton any more."

The boy's friend­ly re­la­tion with Datch­ery is based upon his re­al­iza­tion that the white-haired stranger is no friend of Jasper's, and upon an in­tu­itive feel­ing that Datch­ery is out to track down a com­mon enemy. And there is a sub­tle hint that Deputy has been watch­ing the choir­mas­ter on his own ac­count; he is un­usu­al­ly fa­mil­iar with Jasper's place of res­i­dence.

"Look­ie yon­der," he says to Datch­ery, who has asked him the way to Mr. Tope's. "You see that there winder and door?"

"That's Tope's?"

"Yer lie; it ain't. That's Jarsper's. — Now look t'other side the harch; not the side where Jarsper's door is; t'other side."

"I see."

"A lit­tle way in, o' that side, there's a low door, down two steps. That's Tope­seses with 'is name on a hoval plate."

Yes; Deputy is un­usu­al­ly fa­mil­iar with the choir­mas­ter's abode.

When Datch­ery and the boy meet for the last time in the final chap­ter, Deputy has reached such a point of in­ti­ma­cy in his re­la­tion-ship with the white-haired stranger that he calls him "Dick." And Datch­ery ad­dress­es the lad by a new name: "Winks."

"But, I say, don't yer go a-mak­ing my name pub­lic. I never means to plead to no name, mind yer. When they says to me in the Lock­up, a-go­ing to put me down in the book, 'What's your name?' I says to them, 'Find out.' Like­wise when they says, 'What's your re­li­gion?' I says, 'Find out.'"

From which I con­clude that Datch­ery has told his young agent that he is watch­ing Jasper; that he means to bring him to jus­tice; and that Deputy may one day have to give tes­ti­mo­ny in court.

We learn at a later stage of this con­ver­sa­tion that Deputy is on fa­mil­iar terms with the Opium Woman. His knowl­edge of her ad­dic­tion to the drug — he speaks of her as "'Er Royal High­ness the Princess Puffer" — and of the fact that she lives in Lon­don among the "Jacks; and Chayn­er men; and hother Knifers," con­firms my be­lief that the old crone spent some time at the Trav­ellers' Twopen­ny be­fore she met Edwin Drood on the day be­fore Christ­mas.

We dis­cov­er that Deputy is to as­cer­tain the Opium Woman's exact ad­dress; this er­rand gives us con­crete proof that Datch­ery in­tends to use the boy as his agent.

Some com­men­ta­tors be­lieve that Deputy is re­lat­ed to one of the major char­ac­ters in the story; that he is the il­le­git­i­mate son of John Jasper; or that he is some kin to the Opium Woman. Such as­sump­tions are un­doubt­ed­ly based on the fact that Dick­ens had often in­tro­duced re­la­tion­ships of this sort in pre­vi­ous nov­els — Smike's, for ex­am­ple. I find no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for such be­lief in the text as we have it, and I am con­tent to con­sid­er Deputy an agent of Dick Datch­ery's; an in­stru­ment to be used in bring­ing John Jasper to trial for mur­der.

I find it nec­es­sary to say a few words about Baz­zard, the an­gu­lar clerk of old Hiram Grew­gious, and his tragedy "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety," which no one wished to bring out. I shall not re­ca­pit­u­late here the ar­gu­ments pre­sent­ed in an ear­li­er study to prove that he can­not pos­si­bly be as­so­ci­at­ed with the Datch­ery as­sump­tion. I would sim­ply di­rect the read­er's at­ten­tion to chap­ter xx of the novel, where­in Rosa flees to her guardian in Lon­don, and where­in old Grew­gious dwells at such length on the play writ­ten by his clerk. It is hard to con­ceive of Dick­ens de­vot­ing so much space to "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety" if it were to have no fur­ther bear­ing on his story. What was to be its ul­ti­mate pur­pose must for­ev­er re­main one of the book's minor mys­ter­ies. When Dick­ens writes, "It was not hard to di­vine that Mr. Grew­gious had re­lat­ed the Baz­zard his­to­ry thus freely, at least quite as much for the recre­ation of his ward's mind from the sub­ject that had driv­en her there, as for the grat­i­fi­ca­tion of his own ten­den­cy to be so­cial and com­mu­nica­tive," I am sure he does so with his tongue in his cheek. There is clear­ly some­thing more than meets the eye in the old lawyer's long-wind­ed ac­count of the tragedy, and I feel cer­tain that Dick­ens meant to de­vel­op this par­tic­u­lar as­pect of his plot to a greater ex­tent. Just how he would have done so is be­yond any log­i­cal sug­ges­tion I can offer. But there was in Clois­ter­ham a "droop­ing and de­spon­dent lit­tle the­atre," and in the un­writ­ten part of the novel it may have been des­tined to be­come fa­mous as the shrine where­in "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety" came out at last. Since the au­thor of the tragedy was "a gloomy per­son," I some­how as­so­ci­ate that at­tribu­tive ad­jec­tive with those qual­i­fy­ing the lit­tle the­ater.

Mr. Luke Hon­eythun­der, that bump­tious phi­lan­thropist with the voice of Sten­tor, seems a very minor per­son­age in­deed to have any in­flu­ence on the mys­tery or the even­tu­al ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the plot. And yet when Minor Canon Crisparkle vis­its him in the Lon­don chief of­fices of the Haven of Phi­lan­thropy six months after the dis­ap­pear­ance of Edwin Drood, Mr. Hon­eythun­der makes a state­ment that calls for some con­sid­er­a­tion. He has turned over to the Minor Canon the ac­counts of his late wards, Neville and He­le­na Land­less, now of age, for Mr. Crisparkle has un­der­tak­en to ac­cept them. And he has ex­pressed his opin­ion that Mr. Crisparkle should have en­rolled him­self as a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety. Then he adds: "I might think one of your pro­fes­sions bet­ter em­ployed in de­vot­ing him­self to the dis­cov­ery and pun­ish­ment of guilt than in leav­ing that duty to be un­der­tak­en by a lay­man."

What is the full im­pli­ca­tion of this re­mark, re­veal­ing as it does the fact that Mr. Hon­eythun­der is aware of John Jasper's re­lent­less pur­suit of his late ward, Neville Land­less? Who, in Clois­ter­ham, has in­formed Hon­eythun­der of the choir­mas­ter's ef­forts? Has John Jasper him­self been in con­tact with the phi­lan­thropist? I have no an­swers to these ques­tions, but they in­evitably raise them­selves in my mind when­ev­er I reread the pas­sage. Was Hon­eythun­der even­tu­al­ly to join with Sapsea, and thus make a team of jack­ass­es? We do know that the state­ment I have quot­ed is in a part of the chap­ter ex­cised by Dick­ens him­self when he read the proof. John Forster saw the last three num­bers of the story through pub­li­ca­tion; in his ca­pac­i­ty of lit­er­ary ex­ecu­tor to the nov­el­ist, he al­lowed the ex­ci­sion to re­main, along with sev­er­al oth­ers. Per­haps I am mak­ing a moun­tain out of a mole­hill; cer­tain­ly we shall never know whether Forster had suf­fi­cient knowl­edge of the sub­se­quent plot de­vel­op­ment to jus­ti­fy him in his de­ci­sion to in­clude this ma­te­ri­al strick­en out by Dick­ens. Here again I am in­clined to be­lieve that we are faced with a minor mys­tery, but one of no great im­por­tance. It is a fore­gone con­clu­sion, how­ev­er, that Luke Hon­eythun­der would have re­ceived a sound moral thrash­ing from the hands of his cre­ator be­fore the novel was over, had Dick­ens lived to com­plete it. To de­duce more than that would be to delve into the mine of pure spec­u­la­tion.

There is no ques­tion in my mind, how­ev­er, that mes­merism, an­i­mal mag­netism, or hyp­no­tism as we know it today, was to play a high­ly im­por­tant part in the sec­ond half of Edwin Drood. It is my be­lief that hyp­no­tism alone ex­plains John Forster's state­ment con­cern­ing the novel, "the orig­i­nal­i­ty of which 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." (The ital­ics are mine.) It was in­evitable, I con­tend, that Dick­ens would one day use hyp­no­tism as a major el­e­ment in one of his nov­els, for he was him­self an able mes­merist.

As early as 1842 he had writ­ten to John Forster: "And speak­ing of mag­netism, let me tell you that the other night at Pitts­burgh, there being pre­sent only Mr. Q. and the por­trait-painter, Kate sat down, laugh­ing, for me to try my hand upon her. I had been hold­ing forth upon the sub­ject rather lu­mi­nous­ly, and as­sert­ing that I thought I could ex­er­cise the in­flu­ence, but had never tried. In six min­utes, I mag­ne­tized her into hys­ter­ics, and then into the mag­net­ic sleep. I tried again next night, and she fell into the slum­ber in a lit­tle more than two min­utes — I can wake her with per­fect ease; but I con­fess (not being pre­pared for any­thing so sud­den and com­plete) I was on the first oc­ca­sion rather alarmed."

Again, in 1849, Dick­ens wrote to his friend Forster: "Ever since I wrote to you Leech has been se­ri­ous­ly worse, and again very heav­i­ly bled. The night be­fore last he was in such an alarm­ing state of rest­less­ness, which noth­ing could re­lieve, that I pro­posed to Mrs. Leech to try mag­netism. Ac­cord­ing­ly, in the mid­dle of the night I fell to; and after a very fa­tigu­ing bout of it, put him to sleep for an hour and thir­ty-five min­utes. A change came on in the sleep, and he is de­cid­ed­ly bet­ter. I talked to the as­tound­ed lit­tle Mrs. Leech across him, when he was asleep, as if he had been a truss of hay — What do you think of my set­ting up in the mag­net­ic-line with a large brass plate? Terms, twen­ty-five guineas per nap.' "

Mamie Dick­ens sup­plies a bit of ev­i­dence con­cern­ing the dy­nam­ic power pos­sessed by her fa­ther. Writ­ing in a more se­ri­ous vein, she states in My Fa­ther as I Re­call Him: "I can re­mem­ber now, as if it were yes­ter­day, how the touch of his hand — he had a most sym­pa­thet­ic touch — was al­most too much some­times, the help and hope in it mak­ing my heart full to over­flow­ing. He be­lieved firm­ly in the power of mes­merism, as a rem­e­dy in some forms of ill­ness, and was him­self a mes­merist of no mean order; I know of many cases, my own among the num­ber, in which he used his power in this way with per­fect suc­cess."

Ad­di­tion­al ev­i­dence is af­ford­ed by Gladys Storey, who writes in Dick­ens and Daugh­ter: "Sub­se­quent to the birth of Mrs. Pe­rug­i­ni [Kate Dick­ens] her fa­ther be­came ac­quaint­ed with Doc­tor John El­liot­son, the physi­cian (the first doc­tor to use the stetho­scope), who prac­tised mes­merism upon those of his pa­tients who ex­pressed a pref­er­ence to this method of treat­ment for their ail­ments. He found­ed a mes­mer­ic hos­pi­tal, and Thack­er­ay ded­i­cat­ed Pen­den­nis to him out of grat­i­tude for his ser­vices.

"Dick­ens be­came deeply in­ter­est­ed in the sub­ject, and it was not long be­fore he tried to pro­duce the mes­mer­ic coma upon his wife, when he dis­cov­ered that he pos­sessed quite re­mark­able pow­ers of an­i­mal mag­netism. — Mrs. Pe­rug­i­ni rec­ol­lect­ed her fa­ther try­ing to al­le­vi­ate her in this way dur­ing an ill­ness, but they were too tem­per­a­men­tal­ly alike for it to take ef­fect. Yet with her sis­ter, Mamie, his pow­ers were en­tire­ly suc­cess­ful."

Con­cern­ing Dr. John El­liot­son, men­tioned above, Robert W. Marks, au­thor of The Story of Hyp­no­tism, has the fol­low­ing in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion: "... his con­tri­bu­tion to the sci­en­tif­ic ex­ten­sion of hyp­no­tism was enor­mous. Al­though he had no in­sight into its es­sen­tial na­ture, he was far ahead of his con­tem­po­raries in sens­ing its ther­a­peu­tic im­por­tance. His ex­per­i­ments con­vinced him that mes­merism had far-reach­ing value in the treat­ment of those dis­or­ders we now clas­si­fy as psy­choneu­roses, that it was a use­ful pre­scrip­tion in many med­i­cal cases, and that it was able to off­set the tor­ture and ter­rors of the then pre-chlo­ro­form surgery."

That Charles Dick­ens had done some read­ing on the sub­ject is in­fer­able from an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Dame Una Pope-Hen­nessy, au­thor of one of the most re­cent lives of the nov­el­ist. I quote from this ar­ti­cle, which ap­peared in The Dick­en­sian for 1945 with the title "The Gad's Hill Li­brary." "His cler­gy­man friend, Chauncey Hare Town­shend, who was one of the first En­glish­men to study An­i­mal Mag­netism abroad, pre­sent­ed him with a copy of his book, 'Mes­merism/ and next to it on a shelf stood an­oth­er friend's book, 'Human Phys­i­ol­o­gy,' in which Dr. El­liot­son de­scribed sur­gi­cal op­er­a­tions car­ried out on pa­tients in a state of hyp­not­ic trance."

I con­sid­er of the great­est sig­nif­i­cance, how­ev­er, in its bear­ing on Edwin Drood, the en­su­ing let­ter writ­ten by Charles Dick­ens to Sheri­dan Le Fanu after the nov­el­ist had ac­tu­al­ly begun work on his final manuscript:

Gad's Hill Place, High­am by Rochester, Kent Wednes­day Twen­ty-Fourth Novem­ber, 1869

My Dear Sir, — In reply to your oblig­ing let­ter, I beg to as­sure you that I shall be truly glad to count upon you as a very fre­quent con­trib­u­tor.

Your sketch is very new, strik­ing, and touch­ing. It should make a re­mark­able story.

Let me ex­plain to you that I am now about to begin to pub­lish in All the Year Round (at the end of each No.) a se­ri­al story by Fitzger­ald, of about one good vol­ume in length. A longer se­ri­al story being al­ways in course of pub­li­ca­tion at the same time, and each No. con­tain­ing only 24 pages, it is de­sir­able that the rest of the mat­ter should be al­ways at such times, if pos­si­ble, com­plete in it­self. For the rea­son that the pub­lic have a nat­u­ral ten­den­cy, hav­ing more than two se­ri­al sto­ries to bear in mind at once, to jum­ble them all to­geth­er, and do jus­tice to none of them.

I think the en­closed let­ter will in­ter­est you, as show­ing how very ad­mirably the story of Green Tea ["Green Tea," by Sheri­dan Le Fanu; in All the Year Round for Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, 1869.] was told. It is from the lady I men­tioned to you in a note, who has, for thir­ty or forty years been the sub­ject of far more hor­ri­ble spec­tral il­lu­sions than have ever, with­in my knowl­edge, been placed on record.

She is an En­glish lady, mar­ried to a for­eign­er of good po­si­tion, and long res­i­dent in an old Ital­ian city — its name you will see on the let­ter — Genoa. I be­came an in­ti­mate friend of her hus­band's when I was liv­ing in Genoa five and twen­ty years ago, and, see­ing that she suf­fered most fright­ful­ly from tic (I knew of her hav­ing no other dis­or­der, at the time), I con­fid­ed to her hus­band that I had found my­self to pos­sess some rather ex­cep­tion­al power of an­i­mal mag­netism (of which I had test­ed the ef­fi­ca­cy in ner­vous dis­or­ders), and that I would glad­ly try her. She never de­vel­oped any of the or­di­nar­i­ly-re­lat­ed phe­nom­e­na, but after a month began to sleep at night — which she had not done for years, and to change, amaz­ing­ly to her own moth­er, in ap­pear­ance. She then dis­closed to me that she was, and had long been, pur­sued by myr­i­ads of bloody phan­toms of the most fright­ful as­pect, and that, after be­com­ing paler, they had all veiled their faces. From that time, where­so­ev­er I trav­elled in Italy, she and her hus­band trav­elled with me, and every day I mag­ne­tized her, some­times under olive trees, some­times in vine­yards, some­times in the trav­el­ling car­riage, some­times at way­side inns dur­ing the mid-day halt. Her hus­band called me up to her, one night at Rome, when she was rolled into an ap­paren­cy im­pos­si­ble ball, by tic in the brain, and I only knew where her head was by fol­low­ing her long hair to its source. Such a fit had al­ways held her be­fore at least 30 hours, and it was so alarm­ing to see that I had hard­ly any be­lief in my­self with ref­er­ence to it. But in half an hour she was peace­ful­ly and nat­u­ral­ly asleep, and next morn­ing was quite well.

When I left Italy that time, the spec­tres had de­part­ed. They re­turned by de­grees as time went on, and have ever since been as bad as ever. She has tried other mag­netism, how­ev­er, and has de­rived par­tial re­lief. When I went back to Genoa for a few days, a dozen years ago, I asked her should I mag­ne­tize her again? She replied that she felt the re­lief would be im­me­di­ate; but that the agony of leav­ing it off so soon, would be so great, that she would rather suf­fer on.

She is, as you will see, a very brave woman, and has thor­ough­ly con­sid­ered her dis­or­der. But her suf­fer­ings are un­speak­able; and if you could write me a few lines giv­ing her any such knowl­edge as she wants, you would do an ac­tion of equal­ly un­speak­able kind­ness. — My Dear Sir, — Faith­ful­ly yours al­ways.

Why, in the course of a busi­ness let­ter deal­ing to some ex­tent with the prob­lems of ed­i­to­ri­al pol­i­cy in re­gard to mag­a­zine pub­li­ca­tion, should Dick­ens have re­count­ed — with so vivid a wealth of de­tail — his quar­ter-of-a-cen­tu­ry-old Ital­ian ad­ven­ture in mes­merism? Un­doubt­ed­ly his ac­count was part­ly due to the let­ter he had re­ceived from the En­glish lady. She was the wife of Mr. De la Rue, a Swiss banker, and Dick­ens had found her to be an "af­fec­tion­ate, ex­cel­lent lit­tle" woman. But I con­tend that the full­ness of his nar­ra­tive to Le Fanu was in a larg­er mea­sure oc­ca­sioned by the fact that once again an­i­mal mag­netism per se was oc­cu­py­ing his mind, and that it was doing so be­cause he in­tend­ed to fea­ture it in Edwin Drood. My con­tention seems to be jus­ti­fied when cer­tain scenes of the novel are sub­ject­ed to a crit­i­cal anal­y­sis along mes­mer­ic lines. [De­rived from the name of its great ex­po­nent, Franz Anton Mes­mer, mes­merism, or an­i­mal mag­netism, in­volved the idea that a sort of cur­rent flowed from one en­dowed with pe­cu­liar pow­ers into the per­sons or inan­i­mate ob­jects touched by his hands. At first Mes­mer be­lieved that mag­nets were ca­pa­ble of trans­fer­ring the uni­ver­sal fluid of the at­mo­sphere into the bod­ies of his pa­tients; he also be­lieved that the fluid was pos­sessed of heal­ing prop­er­ties. When he dis­cov­ered that he could pro­duce the same ef­fects upon his pa­tients by using ar­ti­cles de­void of any mag­net­ic qual­i­ty, he changed his con­cep­tion of the phe­nomenon. He de­cid­ed that it was the power with­in the prac­ti­tion­er as such that pro­duced the re­sults ob­tained; this power he called "an­i­mal mag­netism." Today we should prob­a­bly say with Bern­heim, often called the fa­ther of mod­ern hyp­no­tism, that hyp­no­tism "is mere­ly a state of acute sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to sug­ges­tion." See Robert W. Marks, The Story of Hyp­no­tism, p. 24.]

There are at least six dis­tinct places in Edwin Drood where we may ob­serve the power of an­i­mal mag­netism in op­er­a­tion. The first ref­er­ence to the phe­nomenon oc­curs in the third chap­ter, when Dick­ens writes: "As, in some cases of drunk­en­ness, and in oth­ers of an­i­mal mag­netism, there are two states of con­scious­ness which never clash, but each of which pur­sues its sep­a­rate course as though it were con­tin­u­ous in­stead of bro­ken (thus, if I hide my watch when I am drunk, I must be drunk again be­fore I can re­mem­ber where), so Miss Twin­kle­ton has two dis­tinct and sep­a­rate phas­es of being." We have here, of course, more than a faint echo of the fa­mous episode in Wilkie Collins's The Moon­stone where­in Franklin Blake, under the in­flu­ence of lau­danum, reen­acts his re­moval of the yel­low di­a­mond by going through the same se­ries of ac­tions which he per­formed on the orig­i­nal oc­ca­sion of his pur­loin­ing it when he was under the ef­fects of the same drug. Per­haps Dick­ens made with de­lib­er­ate in­tent this none too in­di­rect al­lu­sion to the high­ly pop­u­lar tale he was out to sur­pass; cer­tain­ly he was not sug­gest­ing that John Jasper would de­stroy his nephew in an opi­um-in­duced dream and later con­fess to a mur­der which had been suc­cess­ful­ly ac­com­plished only with­in his mind. If such were the case, Edwin Drood would not have dis­ap­peared. Nor did Jasper at­tempt to mur­der his nephew while under the ef­fects of the drug, fail in the un­der­tak­ing, but ac­tu­al­ly think he had been suc­cess­ful. We have seen that he did not in­dulge in opium prior to the mur­der. And if Dick­ens's manuscript "Plans" prove any­thing at all, they prove that the choir­mas­ter was act­ing through­out in ac­cor­dance with a def­i­nite, care­ful­ly con­sid­ered scheme for mur­der. Nor was John Jasper a dual per­son­al­i­ty in the psy­cho­log­i­cal sense, al­though there went on with­in him — as in all men — the ev­er-pre­sent strug­gle be­tween good and evil. That pas­sage about an­i­mal mag­netism has thrown many a com­men­ta­tor off the track; I see in it lit­tle more than Dick­ens's own pe­cu­liar way of in­form­ing his read­ers that the phe­nomenon was to be a fea­ture of the novel.

We see an­i­mal mag­netism at work for the first time when Rosa and Edwin are seat­ed out­side the cathe­dral win­dows after their lovers' quar­rel de­scribed at length in this same third chap­ter. They lis­ten to the organ and the choir.

"I fancy I can dis­tin­guish Jack's voice," Edwin re­marks.

" 'Take me back at once, please,' urges his Af­fi­anced, quick­ly lay­ing her light hand upon his wrist. 'They will all be com­ing out di­rect­ly; let us get away. O, what a re­sound­ing chord! But don't let us stop to lis­ten to it; let us get away!' " (The ital­ics are mine.)

John Jasper here pro­jects him­self through the dom­i­nant chord of organ music, and Rosa re­ceives the full im­pact of his per­son­al­i­ty and pas­sion for her in the vi­brant tones.

This episode is but a pre­lude to the more strik­ing piano scene in the sev­enth chap­ter. Mr. Crisparkle and his moth­er are gath­ered with their guests in the draw­ing room after the din­ner given in honor of He­le­na and Neville Land­less. Jasper, seat­ed at the piano, ac­com­pa­nies Rosa while she sings. And Dick­ens tells us that "he fol­lowed her lips most at­ten­tive­ly, with his eyes as well as hands; care­ful­ly and soft­ly hint­ing the key-note from time to time." Here, just as be­fore, is the mes­merist in ac­tion, forc­ing him­self and his un­wel­come love upon the singer through the in­sis­tent note. And the choir­mas­ter mes­mer­izes his pupil into a state bor­der­ing on hys­te­ria, for she fi­nal­ly bursts into tears and shrieks out: "I can't bear this! I am fright­ened! Take me away!"

It is on this oc­ca­sion that Dick­ens makes us aware that He­le­na Land­less is to be Rosa's cham­pi­on; that she, too, is pos­sessed of the mes­mer­ic gift. When Edwin, with his usual ob­tuse­ness, re­marks: "Pussy's not used to an au­di­ence; that's the fact. She got ner­vous, and couldn't hold out. Be­sides, Jack, you are such a con­sci­en­tious mas­ter, and re­quire so much, that I be­lieve you make her afraid of you. No won­der," He­le­na re­peats: "No won­der." She has rec­og­nized to a far greater de­gree than Edwin the mech­a­nism of mes­merism.

And when Edwin ex­claims: "There, Jack, you hear! You would be afraid of him, under sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances, wouldn't you, Miss Land­less?" she an­swers: "Not under any cir­cum­stances."

Sure­ly Dick­ens has in­formed us that cir­cum­stances of such mo­ment will even­tu­al­ly arise that He­le­na will con­front Jasper in a con­test in­volv­ing their re­spec­tive mes­mer­ic pow­ers.

Later in the same chap­ter, when the two young women are in the bed­room they are to share in the Nuns' House and Rosa is pour­ing her heart out to He­le­na, the ha­rassed girl says of Jasper to her new-found friend: "He haunts my thoughts, like a dread­ful ghost. I feel that I am never safe from him. I feel as if he could pass in through the wall when he is spo­ken of."

Again John Jasper pro­jects him­self through his pe­cu­liar power, for the mes­mer­ic force was be­lieved to be ca­pa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing and pass­ing through any ob­sta­cle.

Hav­ing clear­ly es­tab­lished the fact that an­i­mal mag­netism is to play a major part in the novel, Dick­ens now aban­dons it for a while, for he does not care to in­sist too much upon it. It does not reap­pear until Minor Canon Crisparkle walks to Clois­ter­ham Weir after the mo­men­tous in­ter­view with John Jasper and Hiram Grew­gious, fol­low­ing Edwin Drood's dis­ap­pear­ance. So pre­oc­cu­pied is the good gen­tle­man on this oc­ca­sion that he does not re­al­ize he has reached one of his fa­vorite spots until the sound of falling water makes him aware of his sur­round­ings.

" 'How did I come here!' was his first thought, as he stopped.

" 'Why did I come here!' was his sec­ond.

"Then, he stood in­tent­ly lis­ten­ing to the water. A fa­mil­iar pas­sage in his read­ing, about airy tongues that syl­la­ble men's names, rose so un­bid­den to his ear, that he put it from him with his hand, as if it were tan­gi­ble."

He came to the weir in re­sponse to the in­sis­tent com­mand of John Jasper, who willed him to go there through his mes­mer­ic power; he came to the weir be­cause the choir­mas­ter want­ed him to find Edwin's watch and chain and his shirt pin, plant­ed there in the night by the choir­mas­ter. And the ref­er­ence to Mil­ton's Comus, where­in is found the line, "And airy tongues that syl­la­ble men's names," en­ables Dick­ens to sug­gest that Minor Canon Crisparkle is aware that Jasper sent him — so much aware, in­deed, that he makes a mo­tion with his hand as though to repel the man him­self.

But he came to the weir be­fore Edwin's jew­el­ry had been plant­ed; his mi­cro­scop­ic eye­sight, his minute ex­am­i­na­tion of the posts and tim­bers, and three sep­a­rate and dis­tinct ref­er­ences to the starlight mak­ing all things vis­i­ble prove that fact. And so "the Weir ran through his bro­ken sleep all night," until in the morn­ing he re­vis­its the place and finds what Jasper meant him to find.

The final use of an­i­mal mag­netism in the frag­ment is made when Jasper pours out his un­holy pas­sion for Rosa by the sun dial in the gar­den of the Nuns' House. The choir­mas­ter ex­er­cis­es his strange power through­out the episode, as will be read­i­ly seen from the fol­low­ing quo­ta­tions:

1. "The mo­ment she sees him from the porch, lean­ing on the sun-di­al, the old hor­ri­ble feel­ing of being com­pelled by him, as­serts its hold upon her. She feels that she would even then go back, but that he draws her feet to­wards him." Note the use of the verb form "draws," as with a mag­net.

2. "He would begin by touch­ing her hand. She feels the in­ten­tion [she is not look­ing at him, it should be re­mem­bered], and draws her hand back. His eyes are then fixed upon her, she knows, though her own see noth­ing but the grass."

3. "After sev­er­al times form­ing her lips, which she knows he is close­ly watch­ing..."

4. "She is con­scious of his look­ing at her with a gloat­ing ad­mi­ra­tion ..."

5. "Again Rosa quails be­fore his threat­en­ing face, though in­no­cent of its mean­ing, and she re­mains."

6. "The fright­ful ve­he­mence of the man, now reach­ing its full height, so ad­di­tion­al­ly ter­ri­fies her as to break the spell that has held her to the spot."

7. "Rosa faints in going up-stairs, and is care­ful­ly car­ried to her room and laid down on her bed."

Here we have seen Jasper the mes­merist at his work of so dom­i­nat­ing the girl he madly loves that she faints, through a sort of de­fense mech­a­nism, in order to blot out the hor­ror she has en­dured. Yet at the very open­ing of the fol­low­ing chap­ter Dick­ens says: "Rosa no soon­er came to her­self than the whole of the late in­ter­view was be­fore her. It even seemed as if it had pur­sued her into her in­sen­si­bil­i­ty, and she had not had a mo­ment's un­con­scious­ness of it."

I can­not con­ceive of Dick­ens cut­ting the el­e­ment of an­i­mal mag­netism from his novel after so many ev­i­dences of its func­tion in the half he had com­plet­ed. And I firm­ly be­lieve that Jasper was to be hyp­no­tized be­fore he would tell how he had mur­dered Edwin. Since He­le­na Land­less is the only char­ac­ter in the story ca­pa­ble of out­smart­ing Jasper at his own mes­mer­ic game, it seems to me in­evitable that she will be the one to bring about his con­fes­sion. When we con­sid­er that she is the twin sis­ter of Neville; that the two are "much alike; both very dark, and very rich in colour"; that she had on four oc­ca­sions "dressed as a boy," and shown "the dar­ing of a man," we may be cer­tain that she was to con­front Jasper in the guise of her broth­er. She was to have done so, I be­lieve, after Jasper was fi­nal­ly cap­tured, and after he had in some way brought about Neville's death. Then and then only, as I see it, would He­le­na have been able to dom­i­nate the mind of the choir­mas­ter, who was him­self a mes­merist of no mean abil­i­ty. Pic­ture Jasper in the con­demned cell, con­vict­ed of the mur­ders of Edwin Drood and Neville Land­less. Sud­den­ly, and at night, He­le­na ap­pears be­fore him, dressed in her broth­er's clothes. Would that not be a sit­u­a­tion to stir the imag­i­na­tion of Dick­ens, to quick­en his pen, to jus­ti­fy his state­ment to John Forster that he had "a very cu­ri­ous and new idea for" his "new story"? And how true it would be when the nov­el­ist went on to say: "Not a com­mu­ni­ca­ble idea (or the in­ter­est of the book would be gone), but a very strong one, though dif­fi­cult to work." Under such cir­cum­stances as I have out­lined, John Forster had every rea­son to write, as he did, that "the orig­i­nal­i­ty" of Edwin Drood "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. The last chap­ters were to be writ­ten in the con­demned cell, to which his wicked­ness, all elab­o­rate­ly elicit­ed from him as if told of an­oth­er, had brought him." (The ital­ics are mine.)

And so we were to have Jasper's con­fes­sion, writ­ten by him­self as of an­oth­er man, for he will have ceased to be the choir­mas­ter known to Clois­ter­ham and will have be­come a ter­ror-strick­en wretch fac­ing the gal­lows; and this con­fes­sion will have been "elicit­ed from him as if told of an­oth­er" through the mech­a­nism of mes­merism, when he will not be con­scious of his own iden­ti­ty.

Thus do I read the stars.

Hav­ing ex­haust­ed the land­marks, both great and small, that might with jus­ti­fi­ca­tion be con­sid­ered to af­ford clues to the un­writ­ten half of the novel, I have only to record my own ideas con­cern­ing the de­vel­op­ment it might have had if Charles Dick­ens had lived to com­plete it. It is of course im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine in what order Dick­ens would have han­dled this or that angle of the plot, or to what de­gree he would have fur­ther em­pha­sized all or sev­er­al of the char­ac­ters al­ready in­tro­duced. I do feel cer­tain, how­ev­er, that he would have added no other per­sons of any great im­por­tance. Whether or not I have read the stars with any de­gree of ac­cu­ra­cy, I am con­vinced that what I have to say in my clos­ing para­graphs would enter into the sec­ond half of Edwin Drood.

Dick Datch­ery would cap­i­tal­ize on the fact that the Opium Woman was eager to black­mail Jasper, mere­ly to ob­tain money from him. He would even­tu­al­ly learn from her all that she knew or sus­pect­ed, and would ac­quire valu­able in­for­ma­tion from both Dur­dles and Deputy. There might even be a rep­e­ti­tion of the "un­ac­count­able ex­pe­di­tion," as Pro­fes­sor Jack­son has sug­gest­ed, with Datch­ery ac­com­pa­ny­ing the old stone­ma­son in lieu of Jasper. Datch­ery would ul­ti­mate­ly in­struct the Princess Puffer to in­form Jasper about the ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies car­ried by Edwin Drood upon his per­son the night he was mur­dered. The choir­mas­ter would then make a noc­tur­nal visit to the Sapsea tomb — the se­cret buri­al place of his nephew — to ob­tain the ring, not only be­cause it was a damn­ing piece of ev­i­dence against him, but be­cause he would see in it the "miss­ing link" des­tined to prove the un­do­ing of Neville Land­less. John Jasper would be met at the tomb by Datch­ery, Tar­tar, Minor Canon Crisparkle, and young Land­less. The ring would be taken from him, and would es­tab­lish be­yond a rea­son­able doubt not only the iden­ti­ty of his mur­dered nephew but also the exact place of his buri­al. As I have ar­gued in a pre­vi­ous study, Dick­ens was pro­ceed­ing on the er­ro­neous as­sump­tion that quick­lime com­plete­ly de­stroys a ca­dav­er, where­as the sci­en­tif­ic truth of the mat­ter re­veals the fact that it acts as a preser­va­tive.

In a des­per­ate ef­fort to es­cape, Jasper would break away from his cap­tors and climb to the sum­mit of the cathe­dral tower, with the in­ten­tion of com­mit­ting sui­cide. He would, how­ev­er, be taken by Tar­tar and Crisparkle be­fore he ac­com­plished his pur­pose; but he would again break away from them long enough to at­tack Neville Land­less and throw him from the tower. En­trance to the stair­way being cut off, Jasper might try to climb down the out­side of the tower. But Tar­tar and Crisparkle would be after him, and force him back to safe­ty. I have con­sid­ered such a pos­si­bil­i­ty only be­cause the climb­ing abil­i­ties of both men have been stressed in the first half of the novel. And I have often won­dered whether Dick­ens had read Notre Dame de Paris, by Vic­tor Hugo, whom he ad­mired, and if so, whether the trag­ic end of Dom Claude Frol­lo might not have sug­gest­ed some sim­i­lar treat­ment cen­ter­ing about the cathe­dral tower in Edwin Drood. I am sure, at any rate, that Neville would not have died be­fore learn­ing that his name had been cleared of all sus­pi­cion.

Jasper would be charged with the mur­ders of Edwin Drood and Neville Land­less, and after his trial, not to be a major fea­ture of the novel, he would be placed in the con­demned cell. As I have al­ready con­tend­ed, he would be con­front­ed there by He­le­na Land­less in the guise of her broth­er, and there she would force him by means of her mes­mer­ic power to con­fess the de­tails of Edwin's mur­der. He would be hanged by the neck until dead, and would thus make good his oath: "That I will fas­ten the crime of the mur­der of my dear dead boy upon the mur­der­er. And, That I de­vote my­self to his de­struc­tion."

Sapsea and Hon­eythun­der would sure­ly be con­found­ed. We should, I be­lieve, learn more about Baz­zard, whose tragedy "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety" would be pro­duced at last. And we should have more of the de­light­ful skir­mish­ing be­tween Miss Twin­kle­ton and the Bil­lickin. Rosa would marry Lieu­tenant Tar­tar, but it would be Hiram Grew­gious who, for the sake of sen­ti­ment, would place the ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies upon her fin­ger. Minor Canon Crisparkle would marry He­le­na Land­less.

Such is my brief sum­ma­ry of what might have been; but how cold and fee­ble it sounds when I think of the warmth and dra­mat­ic power that would have quick­ened it if Charles Dick­ens had only lived! But his cre­ative ge­nius would func­tions no more after that 8th of June, 1870, and The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood will for­ev­er re­main a half-told tale. Being a tale told by a mas­ter writ­er, it is full of preg­nant pos­si­bil­i­ties, sig­ni­fy­ing some­thing. What does it mean to the read­er of today? Mr. V. S. Pritch­ett, in The Liv­ing Novel, gives a force­ful an­swer to the ques­tion: Edwin Drood stands at the part­ing of the ways be­tween the early Vic­to­ri­an and the mod­ern at­ti­tude to mur­der in lit­er­a­ture, and also, I sus­pect, at the be­gin­nings of a change in Dick­ens him­self. The ear­li­er mur­ders of Dick­ens be­long to the more tur­bu­lent decades of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. By the late 'fifties a calm had been reached; the lid had been lev­ered back on to the pot of so­ci­ety and its seething had be­come a pros­per­ous sim­mer. When Wilkie Collins wrote The Moon­stone and Dick­ens, not to be out­done, fol­lowed it with Edwin Drood, we begin the long ca­reer of mur­der for mur­der's sake, mur­der which il­lus­trates noth­ing and is there only to stim­u­late our skill in de­tec­tion and to dis­tract us with mys­tery. The sense of guilt is so trans­formed that we do not seek to ex­pi­ate it vi­car­i­ous­ly on the stage; we turn upon the mur­der­er and hunt him down. Present­ly, in our time, the hunt de­gen­er­ates into the co­nun­drums of the de­tec­tive novel which, by a supreme irony, dis­tracts us from our part in the mass mur­ders of two wars. One or two crit­ics have sug­gest­ed that the strug­gle with the un­fa­mil­iar tech­nique of the hunt was too much for Dick­ens and that it killed him and his novel. We can­not know whether this is so; but both those who dis­miss the book as the last lead­en ef­fort of a worn-out man, and those who ob­serve that it is the most care­ful and pri­vate of Dick­ens's nov­els, are agreed that it is pitched in a key he has never struck be­fore."

It is in­deed so pitched, for its cen­tral theme is the enig­ma of a man's soul torn by the eter­nal strug­gle be­tween good and evil — a soul whose in­ter­nal war­fare is ren­dered the more dra­mat­ic be­cause it be­longs not only to John Jasper, choir­mas­ter and mur­der­er, but also to Charles Dick­ens, a great lit­er­ary artist. And when Mr. Pritch­ett clos­es his pen­e­trat­ing essay on the novel by say­ing that "the kind of re­al­ism em­ployed in Edwin Drood reads like an at­tempt to re­con­struct and co-or­di­nate his [Dick­ens's] world, like a prepa­ra­tion for a final con­fes­sion of guilt," I be­lieve he has come close to the heart of the mat­ter. As al­ways, in this frag­ment des­tined to re­main for­ev­er a great mys­tery, Charles Dick­ens had some­thing to say to us. I have al­ready sug­gest­ed that in his alter ego John Jasper he was tak­ing him­self to task for hav­ing sinned against the moral code of his day and the deep­er, finer in­stincts of his na­ture.

The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood has been and is now — for me, at least — a fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject for spec­u­la­tion. It is my hope that the stud­ies I have writ­ten may stim­u­late fur­ther in­ter­est in the novel and its au­thor, and that other ap­praisals or so­lu­tions may be forth­com­ing. Be­gin­ning as "an ami­able hobby that shies at noth­ing and kicks no­body," my ef­fort to un­rav­el the mys­tery has be­come an en­gross­ing av­o­ca­tion — a real labor of love. I do not feel that this labor has come to an end be­cause I have com­plet­ed the five stud­ies I had planned or be­cause I have done with what might have been. In that frag­men­tary fir­ma­ment which Charles Dick­ens called The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood the stars shine on, and I may still fix my gaze upon them, seek­ing for the let­ters I have yet to learn.