1. Who Was Dick Datchery?

A Study for Drood­i­ans

Publisched at "Trollopian" Vol. 2, No. 4, Mar., 1948

Part ONE

"MRS. TOPES care has spread a very neat, clean break­fast ready for her lodger. 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."

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HEN Charles Dick­ens wrote these words in his lit­tle Swiss chalet on the eighth of June, 1870, he knew that he had come close to the end of the twen­ty-third chap­ter of The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood. He prob­a­bly did not know that he was rapid­ly near­ing the end of his life, or that what Shake­speare called the "fell sergeant" was to bring it to a close with­in a mat­ter of hours. Chap­ter xxiii — as we have since learned — was un­der­writ­ten by ap­prox­i­mate­ly two pages, and the novel it­self was only half com­plet­ed. Thus the un­time­ly death of the sec­ond great­est cre­ative ge­nius in En­glish lit­er­a­ture left to pos­ter­i­ty a mys­tery in a real sense; the frag­ment he had so aptly named was, fur­ther­more, to break down into three ad­di­tion­al mys­ter­ies, of which the first two have proved more com­pelling than the third. These fur­ther prob­lems are best summed up by the ques­tions they have posed. Was Edwin Drood ac­tu­al­ly mur­dered? Who was Dick Datch­ery? Who was the Opium Woman, and why did she pur­sue John Jasper so re­lent­less­ly? It is my pre­sent pur­pose to deal with the sec­ond of these ques­tions.

Dick Datch­ery is first in­tro­duced to the read­er at the very be­gin­ning of the eigh­teenth chap­ter. "At about this time a stranger ap­peared in Clois­ter­ham; a white haired per­son­age, with black eye­brows. Being but­toned up in a light­ish blue surtout with a buff waist­coat and gray trousers, he had some­thing of a mil­i­tary air; but he an­nounced him­self at the Crozi­er (the or­tho­dox hotel, where he put up with a port­man­teau) as an idle dog who lived upon his means; and he fur­ther an­nounced that he had a mind to take a lodg­ing in the pic­turesque old city for a month or two, with a view of set­tling down there al­to­geth­er." In re­al­i­ty, he has come to the cathe­dral city to spy upon the ac­tiv­i­ties of John Jasper and to learn all he can about him. Dick­ens de­scribes him fur­ther. "This gen­tle­man white head was un­usu­al­ly large, and his shock of white hair was un­usu­al­ly thick and ample."

It has gen­er­al­ly been as­sert­ed that Dick Datch­ery is an im­por­tant char­ac­ter pre­vi­ous­ly in­tro­duced in the novel who now comes to Clois­ter­ham in dis­guise for the pur­pose of even­tu­al­ly clear­ing up the mys­tery of Edwin Drood's dis­ap­pear­ance. Most of the writ­ers who have dealt with Dick­ens's last work have had their say about the Datch­ery as­sump­tion — it was John Forster who first used this term — and have in­ge­nious­ly proved him to be ei­ther Edwin Drood him­self, or Neville Land­less, or He­le­na Land­less, or Lieu­tenant Tar­tar, or even the gloomy clerk Baz­zard. Mr. Mon­tagu Saun­ders, how­ev­er, be­lieves him to be an en­tire­ly new char­ac­ter, a man with a propen­si­ty for legal talk pro­vid­ed by the firm of so­lic­i­tors to whom old Hiram Grew­gious turned over his legal busi­ness. I shall en­deav­or to show that he was none of these, for the good and sim­ple rea­son that he was, in my can­did opin­ion, some­one else.

I do, how­ev­er, ac­cept the gen­er­al con­tention that Datch­ery is a per­son­age al­ready fa­mil­iar to the read­er but wear­ing a dis­guise, and be­fore I at­tack the the­o­ries ad­vanced by ear­li­er Drood­i­ans to ex­plain who he re­al­ly is, I should like to dis­cuss the dis­guise it­self at some length. It con­sists chiefly of that shock of white hair which is so man­i­fest­ly a wig, and an ample, un­com­fort­able one, at that. Datch­ery shakes it at the be­gin­ning of the chap­ter; later — in a pas­sage which Dick­ens in­tend­ed to cut from his manuscript when it was pub­lished, but which Forster re­tained after Dick­ens was dead — he takes off his hat to give it an­oth­er shake. Be­fore the eigh­teenth chap­ter comes to an end, we have no fewer than three ref­er­ences to Datch­ery walk­ing along with his hat under his arm and his white hair stream­ing in the breeze. Per­haps be­cause he was aware that he had re­it­er­at­ed this fact once too often, Dick­ens delet­ed the sec­ond ref­er­ence; but again, Forster left it in when the sixth month­ly in­stall­ment of the story was print­ed. In the twen­ty-third chap­ter, where Datch­ery makes his sec­ond ap­pear­ance, the white hair has be­come gray — a minor slip of which even the great writ­ers are ca­pa­ble but the large head (or wig) is there, and once more its owner lounges along "with his un­cov­ered gray hair blow­ing about."

Now it seems to me fair­ly ev­i­dent that Datch­ery wants peo­ple to see him with­out his hat; that he de­lib­er­ate­ly in­vites their scruti­ny of his white mane. And here we should re­mem­ber the black eye­brows, which not only form a strik­ing con­trast to the white hair, but serve to arouse an in­cli­na­tion on the part of a per­son be­hold­ing Datch­ery to con­tem­plate the upper part of his face. Dick­ens, an am­a­teur actor of un­usu­al tal­ent, who first grew his full beard to play more re­al­is­ti­cal­ly a part in Wilkie Collins's drama "The Frozen Deep", was too well ac­quaint­ed with make-up to in­dulge in false whiskers and grease paint; he re­lies upon the dis­par­i­ty in color be­tween Datch­ery's hair and eye­brows to alter the ap­pear­ance of a per­son who would oth­er­wise be rec­og­nized by sev­er­al of the in­hab­i­tants of Clois­ter­ham. That Datch­ery's eye­brows have been dyed black to con­ceal their nat­u­ral color is a fore­gone con­clu­sion. That the wig has been se­lect­ed for a sim­i­lar rea­son is like­wise ev­i­dent, al­though the choice of con­trast­ing color is de­lib­er­ate. For all we know to the con­trary, Datch­ery may have re­mind­ed this or that dweller in Clois­ter­ham who came in con­tact with him of the in­di­vid­u­al whom I be­lieve him to be; Dick­ens does not tell us so, of course, for it would have de­feat­ed his pur­pose.

The true iden­ti­ty of Datch­ery was to have been one of the major points of in­ter­est in the story; wit­ness the fact that so many writ­ers have been con­cerned with the as­sump­tion. And I shall en­deav­or to show that Dick­ens played fair with the read­er by giv­ing many a sub­tle hint of who Datch­ery re­al­ly is. I am not at all con­vinced that Dick­ens had the as­sump­tion in mind when he wrote as fol­lows to John Forster on Fri­day, Au­gust 6, 1869: "I laid aside the fancy I told you of, and have a very cu­ri­ous and new idea for my new story. Not a com­mu­ni­ca­ble idea (or the in­ter­est of the book would be gone), but a very strong one, though dif­fi­cult to work." Nev­er­the­less, I do feel cer­tain that he was think­ing of the Datch­ery as­sump­tion when he penned the fol­low­ing let­ter to James T. Fields:

5 Hyde Park Place, Lon­don, W.
Fri­day, Four­teenth Jan­uary 1870

Forster (who has been ill with his bron­chi­tis again) thinks No. 2 of the new book (Edwin Drood) a clinch­er, — I mean that word (as his own ex­pres­sion) for Clinch­er. There is a cu­ri­ous in­ter­est steadi­ly work­ing up to No. 5, which re­quires a great deal of art and self-de­nial. I think also, apart from char­ac­ter and pic­turesque­ness, that the young cou­ple are placed in a very novel sit­u­a­tion. So I hope — at Nos. 5 and 6 the story will turn upon an in­ter­est sus­pend­ed until the end.

I do not need to in­form any read­er fa­mil­iar with the story that Datch­ery makes his only ap­pear­ances in the fifth and sixth month­ly parts, to which Dick­ens refers in his last sen­tence, and it seems clear to me that the "in­ter­est sus­pend­ed until the end" refers to the Datch­ery as­sump­tion. In­deed, Forster tells us that Dick­ens was wor­ried be­cause it was in­tro­duced too early in Part V; it seems as if he were afraid that some clever read­ers might pen­e­trate the dis­guise and per­ceive the true iden­ti­ty of the white-haired stranger. Forster, as ed­i­tor of the story after Dick­ens's death, is re­spon­si­ble for the po­si­tion of chap­ter xviii as it now ap­pears in the print­ed ver­sion. In the manuscript, it was orig­i­nal­ly chap­ter xix, and Pro­fes­sor Jack­son has demon­strat­ed with con­sid­er­able logic that it might well have been placed be­tween the pre­sent chap­ters xxii and xxiii. Who, then, was Dick Datch­ery, who was to have so im­por­tant a part in the sub­se­quent de­vel­op­ment of the plot, and whose ef­forts were ul­ti­mate­ly to fas­ten the guilt for the mur­der of Edwin Drood upon that un­hap­py young manes uncle, John Jasper?

As I con­sid­er the the­o­ries of ear­li­er writ­ers only to dis­agree with their con­clu­sions; as I de­vel­op my own con­cep­tion of who Datch­ery re­al­ly is, I shall try to be mind­ful of the words of J. Cum­ing Wal­ters, who gave so much thought to the mys­tery, and who wrote so pro­lif­i­cal­ly about it. He said — and this might well be a maxim for many a com­men­ta­tor, — "No con­clu­sion can be held to be good and jus­ti­fied which de­parts from Dick­ens's own lines." A lit­tle later on in the same vol­ume, Mr. Wal­ters like­wise echoes the old query: "Who was Datch­ery? This is the ac­tu­al mys­tery. This was the sur­prise Dick­ens had in store, steadi­ly work­ing up from the first. And it says much for his tri­umph that ei­ther this point has been be­lit­tled or en­tire­ly over­looked. It would seem that Mr. Wal­ters also had read the let­ter which Dick­ens wrote to James T. Fields.

Messrs. Proc­tor, Lang, Archer, and Carr are of the opin­ion that Edwin Drood him­self was Dick Datch­ery. They be­lieve that the young man some­how es­caped from the en­cir­cling folds of Jasper's great black scarf, death by stran­gu­la­tion, and the cor­ro­sive quick­lime into which the uncle planned to throw his nephews body. They over­look the weight of the ev­i­dence con­tained in Forsters re­marks con­cern­ing the gen­er­al con­tent of the novel as Dick­ens him­self had out­lined it to him — re­marks which fol­low im­me­di­ate­ly after his quo­ta­tion from the au­thors let­ter of Fri­day, Au­gust 6, 1869. They do not take into ac­count the state­ment made by Sir Luke Fildes, the fa­mous il­lus­tra­tor of Edwin Drood, in his splen­did let­ter to the Ed­i­tor of "The Times". They pass light­ly over the tes­ti­mo­ny of Charles Dick­ens the younger and of Madame Pe­rug­i­ni, the nov­el­ist's daugh­ter. All this valu­able ma­te­ri­al has been pre­sent­ed in ear­li­er stud­ies; to in­tro­duce it here in de­tail would be mere rep­e­ti­tion, but it leaves me con­vinced that Edwin Drood was mur­dered.

Per­haps the cir­cum­stances re­sult­ing in a let­ter writ­ten by Charles Dick­ens to the Hon. Robert Lyt­ton might be cited as ad­di­tion­al proof that Edwin Drood ac­tu­al­ly met death at the hands of his uncle. The Hon. Robert Lyt­ton had writ­ten a story en­ti­tled "John Acland", the plot of which was re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to that of "Edwin Drood", begun at a later date. Lyt­ton's story con­cerned the mur­der of a man by his clos­est friend; the body could not be dis­cov­ered, yet there was the in­ti­ma­tion that the mur­dered man might still be alive. At last the "cor­pus delic­ti" was found in an ice­house, and its iden­ti­ty was proved by means of a watch. Pub­li­ca­tion of this story, which was begun in "All the Year Round", the mag­a­zine of which Dick­ens was ed­i­tor, was abrupt­ly ter­mi­nat­ed be­cause he de­clared that the plot had been used be­fore. De­spite this fact, he was him­self to make use of a sim­i­lar idea some six months later. Prior to the sus­pen­sion of the tale, how­ev­er, he had writ­ten to the Hon. Robert Lyt­ton as fol­lows:

26, Welling­ton Street, Lon­don
Thurs­day, Sec­ond Septem­ber, I869

My dear Robert Lyt­ton, — John Acland is most will­ing­ly ac­cept­ed, and shall come into the next month­ly part. I shall make bold to con­dense him here and there (ac­cord­ing to my best idea of sto­ry-telling) and par­tic­u­lar­ly where he makes the speech: — And with the usual fault of being too long, here and there, I think you let the story out too much — pre­ma­ture­ly — and this I hope to pre­vent art­ful­ly. I think your title open to the same ob­jec­tion, and there­fore pro­pose to sub­sti­tute:

"The Dis­ap­pear­ance
of John Acland".

This will leave the read­er in doubt whether he re­al­ly was mur­dered, until the end.

When one con­sid­ers the strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ty ex­ist­ing be­tween the plots of "John Acland" and "Edwin Drood", and when one turns to the few orig­i­nal notes which Dick­ens left be­hind him at his death and which had served to guide him in the writ­ing of his own novel, one is sur­prised to find that among sev­er­al ten­ta­tive tides list­ed by the nov­el­ist is "The Dis­ap­pear­ance of Edwin Drood," fol­lowed im­me­di­ate­ly by the title which the story bears today. If, in the mind of Dick­ens, "The Dis­ap­pear­ance of John Acland" would leave the read­er in doubt whether a man were re­al­ly mur­dered or not, why would not the word "mys­tery" an­swer a sim­i­lar pur­pose? This con­clu­sion is strength­ened by the fact that two other ti­tles under con­sid­er­a­tion were "Jamess Dis­ap­pear­ance" and "The Mys­tery in the Drood Fam­i­ly."

No, Edwin Drood was re­al­ly dead, and "the very cu­ri­ous and new idea" of which Dick­ens spoke to Forster was not Ed­wins re­turn to Clois­ter­ham in the guise of Datch­ery for the pur­pose of con­found­ing his wicked uncle. Strange­ly enough, Edwin is never de­scribed to any ex­tent by Dick­ens; the most we know about his ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance is gleaned from a greet­ing given him by the ma­tron­ly Tish­er when he comes to visit Rosa at the Nuns House. "I hope I see Mr. Drood well," she says, "though I need­i­est ask, if I may judge from his com­plex­ion." From that re­mark, one might de­duce ruddy cheeks; but we are never told the color of Edwin's eyes or of his hair. It would al­most seem as if Dick­ens ne­glect­ed to por­tray Edwin's out­ward ap­pear­ance be­cause he knew that the young man was to dis­ap­pear from the scene for­ev­er. We do learn later, how­ev­er, in the course of this same visit, that Edwin has had half his hair cut off. I sus­pect that Rosas state­ment to this ef­fect has been in­tro­duced by Dick­ens as a red her­ring; he may have felt that some read­ers would as­so­ci­ate Ed­wins cropped poll with the wig worn by Datch­ery. But there is no fur­ther ref­er­ence to the shorn locks, so the red her­ring may be con­signed to the dust­bin.

There is re­al­ly very lit­tle about Edwin to en­dear him to us, or to cause us any de­gree of an­guish when he dis­ap­pears. In­deed, he is some­times too smug and self-sat­is­fied to in­vite af­fec­tion. He has drift­ed away from Rosa and has be­come in­ter­est­ed in He­le­na Land­less. In this "off with the old love, on with the new" mood, some­what damp­ened by his con­ver­sa­tion with the Opium Woman, he goes to the sup­per party on that stormy Christ­mas Eve and is done to death by his uncle. He is a youth of honor nonethe­less, and 1 doubt that, had he been alive, he would ever have re­mained in con­ceal­ment while Neville Land­less brood­ed under a cloud of sus­pi­cion as his mur­der­er. He had promised Grew­gious to re­turn the ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies which had be­longed to Rosa's moth­er, should cir­cum­stances make it im­pos­si­ble for him to place it upon the fin­ger of the young woman pledged from child­hood to be his fi­ance; he would un­doubt­ed­ly have kept his promise had he been in a po­si­tion to do so after he and Rosa broke their en­gage­ment and part­ed as broth­er and sis­ter. From an artis­tic point of view as well as from the ex­i­gen­cies of the plot Edwin must be dead. There will be no Rosa to whom he might re­turn, for she has be­come en­am­ored of the agile Lieu­tenant Tar­tar; and He­le­na Land­less, of whom he had begun to dream, will even­tu­al­ly be­come the wife of Minor Canon Crisparkle. Dick­ens had often used the "watched by the dead" idea, but he was not to do so again in his last novel. Edwin Drood, un­doubt­ed­ly his uncle's vic­tim, is not Dick Datch­ery.

What of Neville Land­less, fa­vored by Messrs. Stephens and Lang, as the stranger who ap­peared in Clois­ter­ham? Dick­ens him­self rules out this pos­si­bil­i­ty when he first de­scribes young Land­less. Since this de­scrip­tion in­volves both Neville and his twin sis­ter He­le­na, so that the two are in­ex­tri­ca­bly in­ter­min­gled, I shall quote the pas­sage re­fer­ring to them in full, and then re­turn to it later when I speak of Miss Land­less as a con­tes­tant for the role of Datch­ery. "An un­usu­al­ly hand­some lit­tle young fel­low, and an un­usu­al­ly hand­some lithe girl; much alike; both very dark, and very rich in colour, she of al­most the gipsy type; some­thing un­tamed about them both; a cer­tain air upon them of hunter and huntress; yet with­al a cer­tain air of being the ob­jects of the chase, rather than the fol­low­ers." Ob­jects of the chase, rather than the fol­low­ers. But Datch­ery is a fol­low­er, spy­ing upon Jasper, learn­ing all he can about him, wait­ing until the time shall be pro­pi­tious to prove him the mur­der­er of his nephew. Neville Land­less is tem­per­a­men­tal, proud, and im­petu­ous; he is the ideal type of man upon whom to fas­ten blame for a mur­der, as Jasper quick­ly per­ceives. But Dick­ens goes out of his way to show us that Neville is guilt­less of Edwin's death: the prepa­ra­tions for his walk­ing tour are log­i­cal­ly made, so that he may not be a source of em­bar­rass­ment to any­one after his un­for­tu­nate quar­rel with Edwin, clev­er­ly fo­ment­ed by Jasper. But above all, he wants to be away from Rosa, whom he has come to love at first sight with a love which he has given his sa­cred pledge to keep hid­den from the ob­ject of his pas­sion. When he reap­pears after the tem­pes­tu­ous Christ­mas Eve upon which Edwin met his death, we find him sit­ting in the sand­ed par­lor of the Tilt­ed Wagon, a road­side tav­ern eight miles dis­tant from Clois­ter­ham. And what are his thoughts? He is "won­der­ing in how long a time after he had gone, the sneezy fire of damp fagots would begin to make some­body else warm." Cer­tain­ly this is not the con­jec­ture of a mur­der­er, un­less he be made of vast­ly dif­fer­ent stuff.

Be­sides, when he is in Lon­don a good six months after hav­ing been ap­pre­hend­ed and brought be­fore the au­thor­i­ties, de­tained and re-de­tained, and fi­nal­ly re­leased be­cause the body of Edwin Drood is still miss­ing, he is even then so much op­pressed by the shad­ow of sus­pi­cion hang­ing over him that he can­not go out into the streets — even at night — with­out feel­ing marked and taint­ed. Only the friend­ly vis­its and con­stant en­cour­age­ment of Minor Canon Crisparkle, who has in­duced him to study for the law, to­geth­er with the ex­am­ple of for­ti­tude set him by his sis­ter's con­duct, en­able him to strug­gle on in the hope that time and cir­cum­stances may vin­di­cate his name. A man liv­ing day by day in this sort of men­tal and phys­i­cal seclu­sion, a man who looks upon him­self as a so­cial pari­ah, could not sud­den­ly ap­pear in Clois­ter­ham in the guise of Dick Datch­ery, jovial, ur­bane, a shrewd judge of human na­ture and gift­ed with legal abil­i­ty to ask lead­ing ques­tions in a sub­tle way which masks their true pur­pose. Again I sus­pect a red her­ring when Neville says to Crisparkle: "Ex­cel­lent cir­cum­stances for study, any­how! and you know, Mr. Crisparkle, what need I have of study in all ways. Not to men­tion that you have ad­vised me to study for the dif­fi­cult pro­fes­sion of the law, spe­cial­ly, and that of course I am guid­ing my­self by the ad­vice of such a friend and helper." Neville is but a novice in this dif­fi­cult pro­fes­sion, where­as Datch­ery is an old, ex­pe­ri­enced hand. By no pos­si­ble ex­er­cise of the imag­i­na­tion can I con­ceive of Neville Land­less as Dick Datch­ery.

It was Mr. J. Cum­ing Wal­ters who evolved the startling the­o­ry that Neville's sis­ter He­le­na was Dick Datch­ery. His ideas on the sub­ject are suc­cinct­ly ex­pressed in his thor­ough­ly in­ter­est­ing book, "The Com­plete Mys­tery of Edwin Drood". As re­cent­ly as I939, in a lec­ture to the stu­dents of En­glish given dur­ing the sum­mer at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, Mr. Ed­mund Wil­son stat­ed that this so­lu­tion was the "first of the im­por­tant dis­cov­er­ies about Drood". De­spite the bril­liance of Mr. Wal­ters's ar­gu­ment and the opin­ion ex­pressed by Mr. Wil­son, I am forced to dis­agree with both gen­tle­men. In order to dis­prove the the­o­ry ad­vanced by Mr. Wal­ters, I shall have to sum­ma­rize his con­tentions and quote him at some length.

After stat­ing that the prob­lem of Edwin Drood has been set forth in the first six­teen chap­ters of the novel, Mr. Wal­ters re­marks that all the im­por­tant char­ac­ters have al­ready been in­tro­duced: it would be the "worst of tricks" if an in­dis­pens­able fact or per­son were to be brought in later. He then rules out Lieu­tenant Tar­tar and Baz­zard — with whom I shall deal later — as pos­si­bil­i­ties for the role of Datch­ery. Fi­nal­ly he as­serts that He­le­na Land­less is "re­vealed from the first and fully de­vel­oped" for the Datch­ery as­sump­tion.

"Who would be se­lect­ed?" he goes on to ask. "Ob­vi­ous­ly a coura­geous, and, if pos­si­ble, an ex­pe­ri­enced per­son; a per­son with a real in­ter­est, and with a de­cid­ed in­cen­tive; a per­son with sus­pi­cion al­ready ex­cit­ed; a per­son im­pelled to ac­tiv­i­ty not only by what had al­ready hap­pened but by what was like­ly to hap­pen." A lit­tle later on he adds: "The stim­u­lus must come from with­in; there must be a rea­son in the heart it­self."

These are ex­cel­lent sen­ti­ments, with which I agree most hearti­ly, but they do not char­ac­ter­ize He­le­na Land­less with half the em­pha­sis they gain when used to qual­i­fy an­oth­er per­son­age. And the same is true of Mr. Wal­ters's ad­di­tion­al re­mark: "We must look to the be­gin­ning of the story for this es­sen­tial per­son. And that per­son must have mo­tive and ca­pac­i­ty."

What, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Wal­ters, is He­le­na's mo­tive for dis­guis­ing her­self as Datch­ery? She has, he tells us, an in­stinc­tive ha­tred, but no fear, of Jasper; and she has the three­fold de­sire not only to avenge Edwin Drood, but also to save her broth­er and to save Rosa. I have no ob­jec­tion to the sec­ond part of this mo­tive; it is un­doubt­ed­ly true that He­le­na would be ready to do any­thing with­in rea­son to clear her broth­er of the cloud of sus­pi­cion hang­ing over him. But what­ev­er she might have done in that part of the novel which Dick­ens car­ried with him to the grave, she would have done under the guid­ance of Minor Canon Crisparkle, for whom she has a deep ad­mi­ra­tion bor­der­ing on love, and under the di­rec­tion of Hiram Grew­gious. She had a pe­cu­liar, tele­path­ic abil­i­ty to see through Jasper and to read his mind; she was al­most in­stant­ly aware of his pas­sion for Rosa — a pas­sion lit­tle short of lust — and it was nat­u­ral­ly re­volt­ing to her. A far stronger char­ac­ter than her broth­er, she was prompt to spring to the de­fense of a woman younger than her­self, es­pe­cial­ly a woman of so child­like a na­ture as Rosa, and in that re­spect she did have a mo­tive for pro­tect­ing her friend from Jaspers un­wel­come at­ten­tions. But I have been un­able to dis­cov­er that she had any in­cen­tive to avenge the death of Edwin. She knew that her broth­er was in love with Rosa, and I sug­gest that it would have been only a nat­u­ral, human in­stinct on her part to hope that some day, when his name had been cleared of sus­pi­cion, Neville might hon­or­ably avow his love to Rosa and pro­pose mar­riage. When she first re­al­izes that Rosa has be­come in­ter­est­ed in Lieu­tenant Tar­tar, He­le­nas im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion is com­pas­sion­ate con­cern for Neville.

"She was ex­pe­ri­enced," says Mr. Wal­ters. "As a child she had dressed as a boy and shown the dar­ing of a man — why should we be told this so pre­cise­ly if she were not to play a mas­cu­line part again?" Why in­deed? Mr. Wal­ters might have added that, upon the oc­ca­sion to which he refers, He­le­na tried to tear out, or bite off, her hair when Neville lost the pock­et knife with which she was to have cut it short. Of course, Dick­ens had a mo­tive in giv­ing the read­er this as­pect of He­le­na the un­tamed. Some day I hope to show that she was to play the part of a man — but not that of Datch­ery. It is far more like­ly that she was to con­front Jasper in the like­ness of her twin broth­er, dressed in his clothes, in a scene of great im­port. Does not Dick­ens tell us that He­le­na and Neville were "much alike; both very dark, and very rich in colour"? How could Dick­ens have played fair with the read­er when he de­scribed the white hair and black eye­brows of Datch­ery, if he had left out this rich­ness of color? No, the ref­er­ence to He­le­nas as­sum­ing the dis­guise of a man on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions is just an­oth­er red her­ring so far as Dick Datch­ery is con­cerned.

"At an early stage we are told of her threat against Jasper" Mr. Wal­ters con­tin­ues. "Why should she threat­en if she was to do noth­ing? When Rosa was fright­ened at Jasper, He­le­na's dark eyes 'gleamed with fire', and the warn­ing was ut­tered — 'Let whom­so­ev­er is most con­cerned look well to it'. Jasper was the per­son con­cerned — was the warn­ing mean­ing­less?"

By no means. But again, He­le­na was even­tu­al­ly to come to grips with Jasper in the guise of her broth­er Neville, not in the per­son of Dick Datch­ery, the idle buffer liv­ing on his means.

And now Mr. Wal­ters be­comes even more pre­cise: "The big wig, un­nec­es­sary in a man, is es­sen­tial to a woman with pro­fuse locks. The surtout, un­nec­es­sary in a man (and worn, by the way, in fine weath­er), was es­sen­tial to con­ceal the woman's fig­ure. A man does not for­get his hat, even when wear­ing a wig, but a woman with a wig on her own lux­u­ri­ant hair would be li­able to do so. Datch­ery shook his hair. Men do not shake their hair. Datch­ery 'made a leg' — ­practically the curt­sey of a woman. Datch­ery let his hair 'stream in the wind'. Only a woman would have been un­em­bar­rassed by that."

I have not been able to find, at any point in his de­scrip­tions of Datch­ery, that Dick­ens uses the ad­jec­tive "big" with ref­er­ence to Datch­ery's crop of hair, al­though I be­lieve it to be a wig and not a nat­u­ral growth. He does em­ploy the term "shock of white hair" sev­er­al times, and states that Datch­ery's head was un­usu­al­ly large. For a suc­cess­ful dis­guise the wig must have fit­ted snug­ly; oth­er­wise it might have come off at a cru­cial mo­ment. If a manes head is large, the wig he wears will have to be cor­re­spond­ing­ly large. If the hair of such a wig is un­usu­al­ly thick and ample, we shall prob­a­bly speak of the en­sem­ble as a "large," even a "big" wig; but it does not nec­es­sar­i­ly fol­low that it has to be of this size to go over a woman's pro­fuse locks. And by the same token, the long hair of such a wig will nat­u­ral­ly "stream in the wind" if the wind is blow­ing.

As to the surtout, it is de­scribed by Dick­ens as "tight­ish" This being so, would it not bring some dis­com­fort to He­le­na's bosom, and re­veal rather than con­ceal it? Since she was al­most of the gypsy type, I can hard­ly pic­ture her as a flat-chest­ed fe­male. And if the per­son dis­guised as Datch­ery were el­der­ly, I can con­ceive of the surtout being worn even in fine weath­er. An el­der­ly per­son — es­pe­cial­ly a man of ad­vanced years — re­quires warmer cov­er­ing than a young, warm-blood­ed woman.

Datch­ery does not ac­tu­al­ly for­get his hat, as Mr. Wal­ters seems to imply, for Dick­ens him­self says: "All this time Mr. Datch­ery had walked with his hat under his arm, and his white hair stream­ing. He had an odd mo­men­tary ap­pear­ance upon him of hav­ing for­got­ten his hat, when Mr. Sapsea now touched it; and he clapped his hand up to his head as if with some vague ex­pec­ta­tion of find­ing an­oth­er hat upon it." The "ap­pear­ance" of hav­ing for­got­ten the hat is pre­cise­ly stat­ed as a "mo­men­tary" one, it should be noted, and Datch­ery could not have been un­aware for any length of time that he had it under his arm. The pur­pose of this pas­sage, as I see it, is to in­form the read­er — not blunt­ly, but in a round­about fash­ion — that Datch­ery is wear­ing a wig. Now the wig may well have felt like a hat, which would ac­count for Datch­ery's ges­ture. Dick­ens cer­tain­ly con­veys the idea that Datch­ery was con­scious of some­thing rest­ing on his head, and in phrase­ol­o­gy typ­i­cal­ly Dick­en­sian in­vites the read­er to won­der what it might be.

"Men do not shake their hair," af­firms Mr. Wal­ters. I con­cede that this is not an or­di­nary pro­ce­dure on the part of mem­bers of the male sex; hut what if a ha­bit­u­al, re­veal­ing ac­tion close­ly con­nect­ed with the head is de­nied a man if he is play­ing the part of an­oth­er per­son, and wear­ing an un­com­fort­able wig to boot? Such a ha­bit­u­al ac­tion, in this par­tic­u­lar in­stance, might dis­place the wig, so what could the wear­er there­of do but shake the hair?

Datch­ery "made a leg," to be sure, but it was in the pres­ence of that pompous ass, Mayor Sapsea, and was done for a def­i­nite pur­pose. Datch­ery was play­ing up to the may­ores in­flat­ed ego­tism in every way; to bow the knee, as it were, was a clever form of flat­tery, a sop to Sapsea's ex­alt­ed idea of his own im­por­tance; it does not in­di­cate a woman.

Mr. Wal­ters gloss­es over Datch­ery's meal of "fried sole, veal cut­let and a pint of sher­ry" by say­ing that He­le­na was ro­bust, and that since she was act­ing the part of a man she would nat­u­ral­ly call for a manes meal. I have no fault to find with this ar­gu­ment; I shall sim­ply state that the meal is also typ­i­cal of the per­son whom I have in mind as Datch­ery, and that his predilec­tion for fine wines is es­tab­lished by the au­thor early in the story. Mr. Wal­ters is ab­so­lute­ly right when he con­cludes that the meal "is ab­so­lute­ly non-com­mit­tal"

"It has been ob­ject­ed," con­tin­ues Mr. Wal­ters, "that He­le­na would not use chalk-marks as a score. Why not? Any woman can use a piece of chalk; the old tav­ern cus­tom is well-known; and it would ap­peal to a per­son who did not wish to be be­trayed by hand­writ­ing. It is ex­act­ly the sort of de­vice a woman would adopt. Of course, there was no need to keep a score at all — it was mere­ly by­play, and very fem­i­nine by­play, too."

I do not dis­agree with the first part of Mr. Wal­ters's last sen­tence; but I mean to prove that the keep­ing of the score was one of the most char­ac­ter­is­tic traits of the man who is re­al­ly Datch­ery.

"It is con­tend­ed that Datch­ery's con­ver­sa­tion is not like He­le­nas. That is no ar­gu­ment, be­cause it is not like any­body in the story. It was an ob­vi­ous ar­ti­fice. But now we have to think of ca­pac­i­ty. Datch­ery's sen­tences are long, flow­ing, and easy. He­le­na's con­ver­sa­tion was flu­ent, even elo­quent."

Here Mr. Wal­ters lays him­self open to con­tra­dic­tion. Datch­ery's con­ver­sa­tion is very like that of some­one else in the story, as I shall show present­ly. And some of his sen­tences — later to be re­pro­duced — are short al­most to the point of curt­ness. In­deed, Datch­ery al­ter­nates be­tween curt­ness and flu­en­cy, and he uses ex­pres­sions of which He­le­na would never have been ca­pa­ble. I sim­ply can­not imag­ine He­le­na — for all the ca­pac­i­ty Mr. Wal­ters might give her — ut­ter­ing the fol­low­ing words: "Even a diplo­mat­ic bird must fall to such a gun."

"Datch­ery spoke in a low tone," says Mr. Wal­ters, quot­ing briefly — and in­cor­rect­ly — from the text. "He­le­na, we are told, had a low, rich voice' — just suit­able for Datch­ery."But upon what oc­ca­sion did he speak in this way, and under what cir­cum­stances? It was when the Opium Woman came upon him sit­ting in the vault­ed room he had rent­ed from Mrs. Tope, and when Jasper, pur­sued by the crone, had just gone up the stairs. Let us ex­am­ine the com­plete text. "Hal­loa!" he cries in a low voice, see­ing her brought to a stand­still: "who are you look­ing for?" No­tice the verb: Datch­ery "cries" in a low voice. He is nat­u­ral­ly star­tled by this ap­pari­tion, this ugly hag who in­ter­rupts his writ­ing, so he cries out. But Dick­ens makes him do so in a low voice be­cause Datch­ery knows that Jasper has as­cend­ed the stairs only a mo­ment be­fore; he may not yet have en­tered his room and closed the door; he may even be eaves­drop­ping. Sur­prise tem­pered by cau­tion is all I can read from this pas­sage; it scarce­ly proves that Datch­ery spoke ha­bit­u­al­ly in low tones.

"He­le­na's move­ments are com­pat­i­ble with her act­ing the part of Datch­ery. She dis­ap­pear­ances, strange­ly enough, we are not told where. She reap­pears in Lon­don just at the mo­ment she could be spared from Clois­ter­ham. Datch­ery is then heard of again in Clois­ter­ham, and this time He­le­na is not to be traced. An amaz­ing con­junc­tion of cir­cum­stances — as He­le­na goes, Datch­ery comes. Was it ac­ci­den­tal?"

I do not fully un­der­stand what Mr. Wal­ters means by say­ing: "She dis­ap­pears — and, strange­ly enough, we are not told where."

When Minor Canon Crisparkle vis­its Neville in his gloomy room at Sta­ple Inn six months after Edwin's dis­ap­pear­ance, he says to the youth: "Next week, you will cease to be alone, and will have a de­vot­ed com­pan­ion." "And yet this seems an un­con­ge­nial place to bring my sis­ter to," Neville replies. It would ap­pear that He­le­na is still at Miss Twin­kle­ton's school, wait­ing for the end of term. The con­ver­sa­tion I have cited oc­curs in chap­ter xvii of the novel, and we know as a re­sult of the bril­liant work done by Pro­fes­sor Jack­son that the events of chap­ter xviii, which fol­lows im­me­di­ate­ly in the or­di­nary ver­sion and in which Datch­ery first ap­pears, were pre­ma­ture­ly in­tro­duced in the chrono­log­i­cal pat­tern of the novel. Now in the very first para­graph of chap­ter xix — which should have been chap­ter xviii — we are told: "Once again Miss Twin­kle­ton has de­liv­ered her vale­dic­to­ry ad­dress, with the ac­com­pa­ni­ments of white-wine and pound-cake, and again the young ladies have de­part­ed to their sev­er­al homes. He­le­na Land­less has left the Nuns' House to at­tend her broth­er's for­tunes, and pret­ty Rosa is alone." Then comes the ugly scene in the gar­den by the sun dial; we may be sure that Jasper has­tened to Rosa as soon as he pos­si­bly could after the close of school. As a re­sult of her or­deal with Jasper, Rosa flees to her guardian, Grew­gious, in Lon­don — and there, on the very day after her ar­rival, she meets He­le­na, who has ob­vi­ous­ly come to look after her broth­er, pre­cise­ly as Dick­ens has told us. I do not see how this nat­u­ral visit can be termed a "dis­ap­pear­ance." As for the final chap­ter of the novel, it is de­vot­ed pri­mar­i­ly to Jasper, to the Opium Woman, and to Datch­ery. It is true that it con­tains no ref­er­ence to He­le­na's where­abouts — al­ready well enough es­tab­lished, — but it seems far­fetched to con­clude, just be­cause of this fact, that she is not to be traced. Pre­sum­ably she is still in Lon­don, car­ing for her broth­er.

No, de­spite the in­ge­nu­ity dis­played by Mr. Wal­ters, he does not per­suade me that He­le­na Land­less is Dick Datch­ery. And it should be re­mem­bered that in "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood", Dick­ens was ad­mit­ted­ly at­tempt­ing to outdo his friend, Wilkie Collins; the younger au­thor had achieved great suc­cess with "The Moon­stone", con­sid­ered by some crit­ics to have the most per­fect plot of any story of the type ever writ­ten. Dick­ens, who pub­lished it, had not ap­proved of the method, by means of which Collins un­fold­ed the his­to­ry of the yel­low di­a­mond, but he did rec­og­nize the gen­er­al ex­cel­lence of the nar­ra­tive, and it was a chal­lenge to him to cre­ate some­thing in a sim­i­lar vein. Now the idea of a young girl as­sum­ing male dis­guise had al­ready been de­vel­oped by Collins in "No Name". It is hard­ly con­ceiv­able that Dick­ens, de­lib­er­ate­ly set­ting out to sur­pass him at his own game, would have em­ployed the same de­vice in one of the major as­pects of Edwin Drood.

Long after I had ar­rived at this con­clu­sion, I was for­tu­nate enough to pur­chase a copy of R. C. Lehmann's "Charles Dick­ens as Ed­i­tor". This book con­tains a large col­lec­tion of let­ters writ­ten by the nov­el­ist to W. H. Wills through the years when the lat­ter was sube­d­i­tor of "House­holds Words" and "All the Year Round". In one of these let­ters, Dick­ens refor to "The Moon­stone" as fol­lows:

Gad's Hill place
High­am by Rochester, Kent, Sun­day
Thir­ti­eth June, 1867

My Dear Wills: — I have heard read the first 3 Nos. of Wilkie's story this morn­ing, and have gone minute­ly through the plot of the rest to the last line. Of course it is a se­ries of "Nar­ra­tives," and of course such and so many modes of ac­tion are open to such and such peo­ple; but it is a very cu­ri­ous story — wild, and yet do­mes­tic — with ex­cel­lent char­ac­ter in it, great mys­tery, and noth­ing be­long­ing to dis­guised women or the like.

The words I have put in [bold-] ital­ics ap­pear to con­firm the con­clu­sion I had al­ready formed prior to my dis­cov­ery of this let­ter.

If He­le­na is to mas­quer­ade as a man, she will im­per­son­ate her twin broth­er, as I have al­ready sug­gest­ed, and so make good the warn­ing di­rect­ed against Jasper; she will not turn out to be the chief de­tect­ing per­son­al­i­ty at the very cen­ter of the in­ter­est which Dick­ens planned to keep sus­pend­ed from Parts V and VI of the novel up to the end.

I turn now to Lieu­tenant Tar­tar, cre­at­ed to sup­plant the mem­o­ry of Edwin in Rosa's mind and af­fec­tions and un­doubt­ed­ly de­signed to play an im­por­tant part in the final track­ing down of Jasper. Messrs. Smetham, Gadd, and Car­den have reached the con­clu­sion that he is Dick Datch­ery. Here again, I con­tend that Dick­ens has made it ut­ter­ly im­pos­si­ble to con­sid­er this en­er­get­ic young man for the role of Datch­ery by the rather de­tailed de­scrip­tion he gives of him. We first meet Tar­tar in chap­ter xvii, when he is dis­cov­ered by Neville in the plat­ters rooms. Dick­ens de­picts him thus: "A hand­some young gen­tle­man, with a young face, but with an older fig­ure in its ro­bust­ness and its breadth of shoul­der; say a man of eight-and-twen­ty, or at the ut­most thir­ty; so ex­treme­ly sun-burnt that the con­trast be­tween his brown vis­age and the white fore­head shad­ed out of doors by his hat, and the glimpses of white throat below the neck­er­chief, would have been al­most lu­di­crous but for his broad tem­ples, bright blue eyes, clus­ter­ing brown hair, and laugh­ing teeth." I sug­gest that Tar­tar's white fore­head would have been equal­ly as lu­di­crous had he worn Datch­ery's wig and dyed his eye­brows black. In­deed, his eye­brows, so dark­ened, would have at­tract­ed even greater at­ten­tion to his pale fore­head and brown face. It will be re­called that Datch­ery went about hat­less most of the time, with the de­lib­er­ate pur­pose, as I be­lieve, of invit­ing at­ten­tion to the marked con­trast be­tween his white hair and black eye­brows. Tar­tar, on the other hand, must have worn his hat ha­bit­u­al­ly when out of doors, to achieve the dis­par­i­ty in color em­pha­sized by Dick­ens.

In his con­ver­sa­tion with Neville at their first meet­ing, Tar­tar re­marks at one point: "I am al­ways afraid of in­con­ve­nienc­ing busy men, being an idle man." Some writ­ers have straight­way pounced upon the ad­jec­tive "idle" to link it with Datch­ery's char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of him­self as "an idle buffer." Here, they ex­claim, is the proof that Tar­tar and Datch­ery are one and the same per­son. Now it may well be that Dick­ens em­ployed the qual­i­fi­ca­tion in this in­stance as a minor red her­ring; it is like­wise ev­i­dent that the word "idle" is a very com­mon op­po­site of the ad­jec­tive"busy."

Lieu­tenant Tar­tar, who is ex­treme­ly po­lite and apolo­get­ic, is fond of neat­ness and or­der­li­ness in ev­ery­thing; Dick­ens dwells at length upon the im­pec­ca­ble, ship­shape ap­pear­ance of his rooms. Datch­ery, on the con­trary, when he seeks lodg­ings in Clois­ter­ham, calls for some­thing odd and out of the way, ven­er­a­ble, ar­chi­tec­tural, and in­con­ve­nient. As­sum­ing for the mo­ment that Tar­tar did adopt the dis­guise of Datch­ery, I main­tain that he would not so far have vi­o­lat­ed the fas­tid­i­ous side of his na­ture as to de­mand rooms of such a type, even though he were bent on play­ing the part of the white-haired stranger right up to the hilt. Such fi­deli­ty to his con­cep­tion of a per­son he was en­act­ing would have been quite un­nec­es­sary, if not psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly im­pos­si­ble. Fur­ther­more, since he was un­known to any of the in­hab­i­tants of the cathe­dral city, there would have been no in­cen­tive for him to put on any dis­guise what­so­ev­er.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that Tar­tar smokes, where­as Datch­ery does not. Now a man ad­dict­ed to smok­ing would find it ex­treme­ly dif­fi­cult to forego that plea­sure if he were play­ing the part of an­oth­er, es­pe­cial­ly when there would not be the slight­est rea­son to re­frain from in­dulging in the habit.

In point of fact, Tar­tar does not know any­thing about the cri­sis which so much oc­cu­pies the thoughts and emo­tions of those most deeply con­cerned in it when he first meets them. He is will­ing to be of ser­vice, and de­clare hie readi­ness to see Neville open­ly and often — in­deed, al­most daily. He has made this promise in­di­rect­ly to He­le­na, fully aware that Miss Land­less is de­vot­ed to Rosa and that she has a great deal of in­flu­ence over the love­ly young crea­ture who has al­ready made an im­pres­sion upon him. We may be sure that he will keep this promise — per­haps a lit­tle more lit­er­al­ly than Rosa would have de­sired, as is ev­i­denced by her anx­i­ety when the grit­ty state of af­fairs comes on, when day after day goes by with­out the slight­est sign from the hand­some lieu­tenant. Yes, Tar­tar is ex­treme­ly forthright; he will make it a point to fre­quent Neville.

I do not be­lieve that Tar­tar, late of the Royal Navy, would have made any com­ment — or cer­tain­ly not the one that is made — on the term em­ployed by Deputy when that imp­ish boy was being ques­tioned about the Opium Woman. The episode to which I refer oc­curs in the twen­ty-third chap­ter. Datch­ery, in­tense­ly in­ter­est­ed in the crone be­cause of rev­e­la­tions she has made con­cern­ing Edwin, en­coun­ters Deputy and plies him with ques­tions. At one point of the in­ter­ro­ga­tion, we have the fol­low­ing di­a­logue, begun by Datch­ery.

"What is her name?"
" 'Er Royal High­ness the Princess Puffer."
"She has some other name than that; where does she live?"
"Up in Lon­don. Among the jacks"
"The sailors?"

Tar­tar, had he been Datch­ery, would never have made that query; he would have rec­og­nized the term im­me­di­ate­ly as the ab­bre­vi­a­tion of the col­lo­qui­al ex­pres­sion "jack-tar," hav­ing been a sailor him­self.

Tar­tar is too young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced a per­son to have as­sumed the role of Datch­ery, and he is to­tal­ly lack­ing in the knowl­edge of things legal evinced by the white-haired stranger. His fail­ure to call upon Rosa dur­ing the days fol­low­ing their idyl­lic trip on the river, so ea­ger­ly seized upon by those who as­sert that he is the man of mys­tery who ap­peared in Clois­ter­ham, is just an­oth­er of the many red her­rings which Dick­ens has drawn across the trail lead­ing to the final so­lu­tion of the prob­lem.

Baz­zard, "a gloomy per­son with tan­gled locks," who ful­filled in a high­ly am­bigu­ous man­ner the du­ties of clerk to Grew­gious, may like­wise be re­moved from the list of con­tes­tants for the role of Dick Datch­ery. How does Dick­ens de­scribe him, when we first make his ac­quain­tance? "A pale, puffy-faced, dark-haired per­son of thir­ty, with big dark eyes that whol­ly want­ed lus­tre, and a dis­sat­is­fied doughy com­plex­ion, that seemed to ask to be sent to the baker's, this at­ten­dant was a mys­te­ri­ous being, pos­sessed of some strange power over Mr. Grew­gious."

I find it hard to be­lieve that writ­ers like Messrs. Charles, Match­ett, Odgers, Fitzger­ald, Mac­der­mott, and R. H. Newell, whose pseudonym was Or­pheus C. Kerr, should se­lect this minor char­ac­ter as the man who was Dick Datch­ery. When Baz­zard speaks — he does so but rarely, — it is with a brevi­ty bor­der­ing upon rude­ness. He is vain, surly, and moody; his na­ture and Datch­ery's are an­tipo­dal. He is one of those in­nu­mer­able char­ac­ters, sharply and deft­ly drawn, whom Dick­ens cre­at­ed to play sub­or­di­nate, al­beit im­por­tant, parts. I can think of only one rea­son why Baz­zard should be at all es­sen­tial to the plot of the novel so far as it is de­vel­oped in the frag­ment which re­mains to us. I can think of only one rea­son why he should be es­sen­tial to the con­clud­ing chap­ters of the story which Dick­ens car­ried with him to the grave. He was a wit­ness to the fact that the ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies passed lit­er­al­ly from the keep­ing of Grew­gious into that of Edwin; he was pre­sent — al­though just roused from deep slum­ber caused by rich food and drink — when the lawyer hand­ed the case con­tain­ing the jew­eled band to young Drood.

Much has been made of the in­for­ma­tion given Rosa by Grewgiens when he said, with ref­er­ence to Baz­zard: "In fact, he is off duty here, al­to­geth­er, just at pre­sent." The gloomy clerk's ad­her­ents say there is proof pos­i­tive that he was even then walk­ing the streets of Clois­ter­ham in the guise of Datch­ery. They cast aside the ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing that Dick­ens in­tend­ed to place the white-haired stranger's ad­vent in Clois­ter­ham at a date much later than that upon which Grew­gious made his state­ment. I have no doubt that Dick­ens in­tend­ed them to react in this very man­ner. But Grew­gious had sent Baz­zard away for quite a dif­fer­ent rea­son — a rea­son which was soon to be re­vealed, and which I feel cer­tain was in some sub­sidiary way con­nect­ed with "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety," that fa­mous tragedy writ­ten by Baz­zard, with a title typ­i­cal of the man him­self, but never pro­duced.

It has been sug­gest­ed that Baz­zard may have be­come a tool of John Jasper, and that he may have told Jasper about the ring which Edwin still car­ried with him, all un­be­known to his uncle, the night he was mur­dered. Only three per­sons knew about the gold band set with jew­els, to which Dick­ens gave such sig­nif­i­cance: Grew­gious, Edwin Drood, and Baz­zard. But had Grew­gious en­ter­tained the slight­est sus­pi­cion that his clerk would ally him­self in any way with Jasper, he would never have lodged Rosa, whom he had sworn to pro­tect from Jasper's machi­na­tions, in the home of Mrs. Bil­lickin, a wid­owed cousin of Baz­zard's, "divers times re­moved." The shrewd old lawyer would cer­tain­ly have fore­seen the pos­si­bil­i­ty, that Baz­zard might learn of Rosa's pres­ence in his cousins home, and had he doubt­ed his clerk's in­tegri­ty he would never have placed his ward in a po­si­tion of such po­ten­tial dan­ger.

Had Baz­zard been Datch­ery, he would have had no need of wear­ing a dis­guise in Clois­ter­ham. He, too, was com­plete­ly un­known to the in­hab­i­tants. Fur­ther­more, there is no rea­son to sup­pose that a writ­er of tragedies — pre­sum­ably mediocre — is also an actor, and Baz­zard would have had to be a very great actor in­deed to have played the part of Datch­ery as we know him. Even if he had been eager to at­tempt a role of such dif­fi­cul­ty, Grew­gious would never have en­trust­ed so del­i­cate a mis­sion, in so vital a sit­u­a­tion, to so lump­ish a man.

Who, then, was Dick Datch­ery? J. Cum­ing Wal­ters, de­spite his the­o­ry that He­le­na Land­less was Datch­ery, for which I have taken him to task at some length, came far near­er than he re­al­ized to the heart of the mat­ter and to a log­i­cal so­lu­tion of the oft-re­it­er­at­ed ques­tion. In his short but provoca­tive book, "Clues to Dick­ens's "Mys­tery of Edwin Drood," he said: "Part of a fur­ther sur­prise in the story would have await­ed the read­er in find­ing that in this tale, with­out an or­tho­dox hero and with but a very un­cer­tain hero­ine, the real hero and hero­ine in moral worth and strength of deed, were un­doubt­ed­ly to be Mr. Grew­gious and He­le­na Land­less." With this state­ment I con­cur. Mr. Wal­ters's one mis­take was that he backed the wrong per­son, as I pur­pose to prove in the re­main­der of this dis­cus­sion.

Dick Datch­ery was none other than Hiram Grew­gious.

Part TWO

Dick Datch­ery was none other than Hiram Grew­gious. I re­al­ize that when I make this as­ser­tion I am going con­trary to the opin­ions ex­pressed by all the writ­ers who have pre­vi­ous­ly dealt with this topic. But the be­lief that Grew­gious is Datch­ery has been grow­ing on me for more than three years. For a long time I hes­i­tat­ed to ex­press my be­lief in writ­ing, but at last the con­vic­tion that I had some­thing new to con­tribute to the Datch­ery prob­lem im­pelled me to set down my ideas on paper. My con­vic­tion was later strength­ened by a startling dis­cov­ery I made while reread­ing the most fas­ci­nat­ing of mys­ter­ies. What this dis­cov­ery is, must be with­held until I reach the end of this study. At pre­sent I have the heavy bur­den of bring­ing for­ward proof to es­tab­lish the va­lid­i­ty of my con­tention. This I shall do to the best of my abil­i­ty, let­ting the read­er judge of its worth.

What sort of per­son was the man whom I as­sert to be Dick Datch­ery, the white-haired stranger who sud­den­ly ap­peared in Clois­ter­ham? Dick­ens pre­sents him to us in the ninth chap­ter of the novel, when he comes to visit Rosa at the Nuns' House. His de­scrip­tion of the old lawyer is strik­ing and un­for­get­table. "Grew­gious had been well se­lect­ed for his trust, as a man of in­cor­rupt­ible in­tegri­ty, but cer­tain­ly for no other ap­pro­pri­ate qual­i­ty dis­cernible on the sur­face. He was an arid, sandy man, who, if he had been put into a grind­ing mill, looked as if he would have ground im­me­di­ate­ly into high dried snuff. He had a scanty flat crop of hair, in colour and con­sis­ten­cy like some very mangy yel­low fur tip­pet; it was so un­like hair, that it must have been a wig, but for the stu­pen­dous im­prob­a­bil­i­ty of any­body's vol­un­tar­i­ly sport­ing such a head. The lit­tle play of fea­ture that his face pre­sent­ed, was cut deep in it in a few hard curves that made it more like work; and he had cer­tain notch­es in his fore­head, which looked as though Na­ture had been about to touch them into sen­si­bil­i­ty or re­fine­ment, when she had im­pa­tient­ly thrown away the chis­el, and said: ‘I re­al­ly can­not be wor­ried to fin­ish off this man; let him go as he is."

"With too great length of throat at his upper end, and too much an­kle-bone and heel at his lower; with an awk­ward and hes­i­tat­ing man­ner; with a sham­bling walk; and with what is called a near sight — which per­haps pre­vent­ed his ob­serv­ing how much white cot­ton stock­ing he dis­played to the pub­lic eye, in con­trast with his black suit — Mr. Grew­gious still had some strange ca­pac­i­ty in him of mak­ing on the whole an agree­able im­pres­sion."

One can­not fail to note the im­por­tance of the out­stand­ing moral qual­i­ty pos­sessed by Mr. Grew­gious: his ab­so­lute in­tegri­ty. Dick­ens gives it a po­si­tion of some promi­nence. Then he pro­ceeds to the phys­i­cal as­pects of the man, per­mit­ting the read­er to infer that the lawyer's scanty flat crop of hair is ad­mirably suit­ed for the wear­ing of a wig. In­deed, the word "wig" is men­tioned al­most im­me­di­ate­ly, though not with the strik­ing force which the sen­tence con­tain­ing it will re­veal later. The too great length of throat and the too much an­kle-bone and heel are prepa­ra­tions for Mr. Grew­gious's often re­peat­ed ref­er­ence to him­self as an "an­gu­lar per­son." The awk­ward and hes­i­tat­ing man­ner, the sham­bling walk, and the near­sight­ed­ness are char­ac­ter­is­tics which I sus­pect are le­git­i­mate­ly in­tro­duced by Dick­ens for the ex­press pur­pose of lead­ing the read­er astray. At this point in the novel, Dick­ens would hard­ly want to de­pict Grew­gious as the per­son whom the read­er might read­i­ly re­call as the most log­i­cal can­di­date for the part of Datch­ery. He does, how­ev­er, play fair to the ex­tent of say­ing that the old lawyer's near sight "per­haps" pre­vent­ed his ob­serv­ing cer­tain grotesque par­tic­u­lars of his at­tire. And he con­cludes with the state­ment that the man "had some strange ca­pac­i­ty in him of mak­ing on the whole an agree­able im­pres­sion" de­spite his ap­par­ent awk­ward­ness.

We meet Mr. Grew­gious for the sec­ond time on a foggy De­cem­ber af­ter­noon when Edwin Drood comes to visit him in his cham­bers at Sta­ple Inn. It is on this mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion that Mr. Grew­gious hands over to Edwin the pre­cious ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies.

We learn that Mr. Grew­gious had been bred to the Bar and had laid him­self out for cham­ber prac­tice — to draw deeds. Then an ar­bi­tra­tion had come his way, in which he had gained great cred­it "as one in­de­fati­ga­ble in seek­ing out right and doing right." This phrase is of the ut­most im­por­tance for the gray-haired stranger who vis­its Clois­ter­ham is like­wise tire­less in his ef­forts to es­tab­lish jus­tice; he, too, is doing right by track­ing down a man whom he sus­pects of mur­der.

Mr. Grew­gious had at last found his vo­ca­tion when a re­ceiver­ship was "blown into his pock­et." Dur­ing the pe­ri­od of time in which the events of the story take place, he is a re­ceiv­er and agent to two wealthy es­tates — but we must re­mem­ber that he de­putes their legal busi­ness to a firm of so­lic­i­tors on the floor below. As the En­glish crit­ic Mr. George Or­well has so keen­ly ob­served, very few of the lead­ing char­ac­ters cre­at­ed by Dick­ens work hard at any stat­ed trade or pro­fes­sion; we are not told in de­tail what they do to earn their daily bread. I be­lieve that we are un­usu­al­ly fa­vored in what we are told of Grew­gious, be­cause his legal train­ing is to have sig­nif­i­cance. At any rate, it may safe­ly be as­sumed that Mr. Grew­gious was a man of some means, for his hos­pi­tal­i­ty in the way of food was gen­er­ous; he had a clos­et "usu­al­ly con­tain­ing some­thing good to drink"; "and he held some not empty cel­lar age at the bot­tom of the com­mon stair." It is not too il­log­i­cal, then, to sup­pose that Mr. Grew­gious en­joyed a man­ner of liv­ing that per­mit­ted him to be "idle" when­ev­er he so de­sired. In all these re­spects he and Datch­ery were kin­dred spir­its — for the sin­gle buffer liv­ing upon his means was like­wise not averse to good fare.

Dick­ens then tells us, after re­fer­ring to the ac­counts and ac­count books, the files of cor­re­spon­dence, and the sev­er­al strong­box­es with which the lawyer's rooms were en­cum­bered, that "the ap­pre­hen­sion of dying sud­den­ly, and leav­ing one fact or one fig­ure with any in­com­plete­ness or ob­scu­ri­ty at­tach­ing to it, would have stretched Mr. Grew­gious stone-dead any day. The largest fi­deli­ty to a trust was the life-blood of the man." Sub­sti­tute for "one fact or one fig­ure" the "dis­ap­pear­ance of Edwin Drood," and you have the mo­tive for the ac­tiv­i­ties of Dick Datch­ery.

Fur­ther­more, in his de­scrip­tion of the old lawyer's cham­ber, Dick­ens adds: "There was no lux­u­ry in his room. Even its com­forts were lim­it­ed to its being dry and warm, and hav­ing a snug though faded fire­side." In other words de­spite his im­plied abil­i­ty to pro­vide him­self with a more com­fort­able home, Grew­gious prefers to live in hum­ble sur­round­ings. The same is true of Dick Datch­ery, for when he asks the wait­er at the Crozi­er whether a fair lodg­ing may be found in Clois­ter­ham, he spec­i­fies it fur­ther as "some­thing old," "some­thing odd and out of the way; some­thing ven­er­a­ble, ar­chi­tec­tural, and in­con­ve­nient."

Yes, Hiram Grew­gious had the legal train­ing, the strong­ly de­vel­oped sense of jus­tice, and the leisure which we as­so­ci­ate with Datch­ery.

But had he an in­cen­tive, a mo­tive pow­er­ful enough to draw him from his se­clud­ed cham­ber in Lon­don and send him forth as Dick Datch­ery to track down a mur­der­er? It is my con­tention that he had; and that his mo­tive, like the one as­cribed to He­le­na Land­less by Mr. Wal­ters, was three­fold. After he had given the ring to Edwin and was left alone with his thoughts, Dick­ens tells us that he "walked soft­ly and slow­ly to and fro, for an hour and more." He talks to him­self, re­veal­ing the fact that he loved Rosa's moth­er "at a hope­less, speech­less dis­tance"; that he still loved her when she mar­ried the man who "struck in" upon him and won her. Here we have the ex­pla­na­tion of his ap­par­ent lack of am­bi­tion, and of the al­most Spar­tan lodg­ings in which he lives. He had lost the woman be loved. And now he loves Rosa, not only be­cause she has been for years a sa­cred trust as his ward — and the largest fi­deli­ty to a trust is his lifeblood, — but be­cause she is so like her moth­er. The ring of di­a­monds and ru­bies, taken from the dead hand of that moth­er, has long been a very dear though inan­i­mate sym­bol of its owner; her daugh­ter is the liv­ing sym­bol keep­ing her mem­o­ry green. What did Dick­ens say about this ring, in a sen­tence seem­ing­ly ob­scure at first glance, but weight­ed with pro­found sig­nif­i­cance? "Among the mighty store of won­der­ful chains that are for ever forg­ing, day and night, in the vast iron-works of time and cir­cum­stance, there was one chain forged in the mo­ment of that small con­clu­sion, riv­et­ed to the foun­da­tions of heav­en and earth, and gift­ed with in­vin­ci­ble force to hold and drag." The "small con­clu­sion" was, of course, Edwin's de­ci­sion to say noth­ing about the ring to Rosa, since they had agreed to break their en­gage­ment and part as broth­er and sis­ter. This de­ci­sion car­ried with it the im­pli­ca­tion that Edwin would keep his pledged word and re­turn the ring to Grew­gious. But he dis­ap­pears, and with him van­ish­es the ring, the only keep­sake of the woman Grew­gious adored re­main­ing in his pos­ses­sion. Now every chain has sev­er­al links; is it too much to as­sume that one of the links of that par­tic­u­lar chain "gift­ed with in­vin­ci­ble force to hold and drag" is the old lawyers de­sire to re­cov­er the ring he prized so high­ly?

When Rosa, threat­ened and tor­ment­ed by Jasper, flees to her guardian for refuge, what is his first re­ac­tion, star­tled as he is by the com­plete un­ex­pect­ed­ness of her ar­rival?

"He saw her, and he said, in an un­der­tone: 'Good Heav­en!'
"Rosa fell upon his neck, with tears and then he said, re­turn­ing her em­brace:
" 'My child, my child! I thought you were your moth­er!' "

And later, when Rosa tells him that Jasper has made odi­ous love to her, en­treat­ing him to pro­tect not only her but all of those con­cerned from his evil de­signs, what is the old lawyers reply?

" 'I will,' cried Mr. Grew­gious, with a sud­den rush of amaz­ing en­er­gy. ‘Damn him!' "

Then, lest this out­burst be too re­veal­ing of what is to come later, Dick­ens makes Grew­gious con­tin­ue, in a hero­ic comic man­ner:

"Con­found his pol­i­tics!
Frus­trate his knav­ish tricks!
On Thee his hopes to fix?
Damn him again!"

But it is worth not­ing that, soon af­ter­ward, Dick­ens refers to the lawyer's ve­he­mence as "most ex­traor­di­nary."

Grew­gious is cer­tain in his own mind that John Jasper is the mur­der­er of Edwin Drood: he has re­fused to eat with the wretched uncle after the dra­mat­ic scene in which Jasper learns, from him, that the mur­der has been in vain, since Edwin was not to marry Rosa, the in­no­cent cause of the crime. But he is a shrewd enough lawyer to re­al­ize that noth­ing can be proved against Jasper as long as the cor­pus delic­ti is still miss­ing. Now that Rosa has ac­tu­al­ly been threat­ened, he is stirred to such a de­gree that he will take an ac­tive part in clear­ing up the mys­tery sur­round­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of the ill-fat­ed youth. By bring­ing a mur­der­er to jus­tice he will not only re­move Rosa from dan­ger and free Neville Land­less from the sus­pi­cion dark­en­ing his life, but per­haps find the ring he trea­sures so dear­ly, as well. This is the triple mo­tive which lit­er­al­ly drives him to the Datch­ery as­sump­tion.

That he has been con­sid­er­ing ways and means to keep Jasper under close per­son­al surveil­lance is now a rea­son­able in­fer­ence, and ex­plains why Baz­zard is off duty at the mo­ment. Os­ten­si­bly, Grew­gious has given his clerk per­mis­sion to leave so that he may deal with some mat­ter in­volv­ing "The Thorn of Anx­i­ety." Ac­tu­al­ly, the old lawyer wants a clear field for the ex­e­cu­tion of the strate­gic move he has been plan­ning — with no wit­ness to its in­ti­mate de­tails. Such an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of events at this point in the novel is borne out by what Grew­gious says on the morn­ing fol­low­ing his out­burst, dur­ing his con­fer­ence with Rosa in her room at Sta­ple Inn, a con­fer­ence in­clud­ing Minor Canon Crisparkle. "When one is in a dif­fi­cul­ty or at a loss, one never knows in what di­rec­tion a way out may chance to open. It is a busi­ness prin­ci­ple of mine, in such a case, not to dose up any di­rec­tion but to keep an eye on every di­rec­tion that may pre­sent it­self. I could re­late an anec­dote in point, but that it would be pre­ma­ture." Not to close up any di­rec­tion — even though it might mean the don­ning of a wig, the black­en­ing of his sandy eye­brows, and the play­ing of a dif­fi­cult role. He has al­ready been turn­ing over in his mind the idea of going in dis­guise to Clois­ter­ham; he could put this idea into words, but that it would be pre­ma­ture.

Later that same day, after Lieu­tenant Tar­tar has been ad­mit­ted to the group, and after Rosa has met He­le­na in Tar­tar's rooms, Miss Land­less, great­ly wor­ried about her broth­er, en­treats Rosa to seek Mr. Crisparkle's ad­vice in the fol­low­ing terms: "Ask him whether it would be best to wait until any more ma­lign­ing and pur­su­ing of Neville on the part of this wretch shall dis­close it­self, or to try to an­tic­i­pate it: I mean, so far as to find out whether any such goes on dark­ly about us." The Minor Canon finds is dif­fi­cult to ex­press an opin­ion with­out con­sult­ing Grew­gious. And what does Dick­ens tell us about the lawyer's de­ci­sion? "Mr. Grew­gious held de­cid­ed­ly to the gen­er­al prin­ci­ple, that if you could steal a march upon a brig­and or a wild beast, you had bet­ter do it; and he also held de­cid­ed­ly to the spe­cial case, that John Jasper was a brig­and and a wild beast in com­bi­na­tion." I be­lieve that is Dick­ens's way of re­veal­ing Grew­gious's de­ter­mi­na­tion to go to Clois­ter­ham in the guise of Datch­ery and prove that Jasper is the mur­der­er of his nephew.

Yes, Hiram Grew­gious had a pow­er­ful mo­tive for the Datch­ery as­sump­tion: love for Rosa's moth­er and for the daugh­ter who so re­sem­bled her; his anx­i­ety to re­cov­er the ring; and his promise to Rosa — given in the strongest words we ever hear him utter — that he will pro­tect her and the oth­ers in­volved in Jasper's threat.

Among those oth­ers is Neville Land­less, fret­ting under the gen­er­al sus­pi­cion that it was he who caused Edwin's death. And we should not for­get Jasper's dec­la­ra­tion to Rosa that he will even­tu­al­ly put the hang­man's noose about Neville's neck be­cause he has learned, from state­ments made by Minor Canon Crisparkle, that young Land­less was his nephew's rival for her love — an in­ex­pi­able of­fense in Jasper's eyes. We must re­mem­ber also that, six months after Edwin's dis­ap­pear­ance, when the Minor Canon vis­its Grew­gious in Lon­don, we are told that Grew­gious has taken an in­ter­est in Neville, and that it was he who rec­om­mend­ed the rooms now oc­cu­pied by young Land­less. And the lawyer is even then keep­ing a watch over Jasper, who is spy­ing on Neville; his sense of jus­tice is even then being prompt­ed to a pas­sive form of ac­tiv­i­ty, al­though not of so di­rect a sort as he will dis­play when he tracks the mur­der­er through the streets of Clois­ter­ham

In­ci­den­tal­ly, we learn some­thing of im­por­tance in the course of this visit, when Grew­gious says to the Minor Canon: "If you will kind­ly step round here be­hind me, in the gloom of the room, and will cast your eye at the sec­ond-floor land­ing win­dow in yon­der house, I think you will hard­ly fail to see a slink­ing in­di­vid­u­al in whom I rec­og­nize our local friend." Ex­cel­lent pow­ers of vi­sion in­deed have been de­vel­oped by the man whom Dick­ens de­scribed ear­li­er as hav­ing a "near sight."

If Grew­gious has a com­pelling mo­tive and a care­ful­ly laid plan to go to Clois­ter­ham as Dick Datch­ery, it must fol­low in­evitably that we shall find some points of sim­i­lar­i­ty be­tween him and the white-haired stranger. I main­tain that such re­sem­blances do exist, al­though Dick­ens deemed it wise to touch upon them light­ly, lest the av­er­age read­er's sus­pi­cions — if any ex­ist­ed — be roused to such a de­gree that they might be­come con­vic­tions too sud­den or ap­par­ent a rev­e­la­tion would have de­feat­ed the nov­el­ists pur­pose; it would have de­stroyed the in­ter­est which was to be sus­pend­ed from Parts V and VI up to the end. It is no easy task for the writ­er of a first-rate mys­tery story to play fair with the read­er with­out dis­clos­ing the so­lu­tion of his prob­lem be­fore the mo­ment when it will achieve its max­i­mum ef­fect. Yet such is the chal­lenge which must be ac­cept­ed by all who de­sire to be out­stand­ing ex­po­nents of this ex­act­ing form of cre­ative writ­ing. Now Dick­ens not only met the chal­lenge to play fair, but also kept se­cret the so­lu­tion of the rid­dle he had con­trived. The hun­dreds of books and ar­ti­cles writ­ten about his last, un­fin­ished novel pro­claim that it still re­mains a real mys­tery; that its au­thor, al­though ap­proach­ing the val­ley of the shad­ow of death, was in com­plete con­trol of his most tight­ly woven and in­tri­cate plot; and that he was de­vel­op­ing it with un­usu­al mas­tery. He made use of every le­git­i­mate de­vice to fool the read­er, but he did leave sub­tle in­di­ca­tions link­ing Grew­gious with Datch­ery.

It has al­ready been point­ed out that his de­tailed ac­count of the growth of Grew­gious's legal train­ing was not with­out spe­cial in­tent. A sound knowl­edge of the law un­der­ly­ing Datch­ery's method of ques­tion­ing the per­sons with whom he came in con­tact is so ev­i­dent that Mr. Mon­tagu Saun­ders thought the gray-haired stranger an en­tire­ly new char­ac­ter, a man of sound legal train­ing placed at Grew­gious's dis­pos­al by the firm of so­lic­i­tors who han­dled mat­ters for the old lawyer. De­spite the fact that Dick­ens was not in the habit of in­tro­duc­ing fresh char­ac­ters of im­por­tance when halfway through a story, Mr. Saun­ders is per­fect­ly cor­rect in his recog­ni­tion of the legal tone of Datch­ery's ques­tions. When Datch­ery is sound­ing that pompous ass, Mayor Thomas Sapsea, for the pur­pose of learn­ing whether sus­pi­cion of foul play in con­nec­tion with Edwin's dis­ap­pear­ance has fall­en upon any par­tic­u­lar per­son (he knows full well it has, but is draw­ing out His Honor to get his re­ac­tions), the fol­low­ing de­light­ful ex­change of con­ver­sa­tion takes place:

" 'But proof, sir, proof must be built up stone by stone,' said the Mayor. 'As I say, the end crowns the work. It is not enough that Jus­tice should be moral­ly cer­tain; she must be im­moral­ly cer­tain — legal­ly, that is.'
" 'His Hon­our,' said Mr. Datch­ery, re­minds me of the na­ture of the law. Im­moral. How true!' "

The con­ceit­ed Sapsea un­doubt­ed­ly in­ter­prets this re­mark of Datch­ery's as con­fir­ma­tion of his deep per­spi­cac­i­ty; we re­al­ize that the gray-haired stranger not only takes the mea­sure of the boast­ful mayor, but ex­press­es an opin­ion of the law it­self — an opin­ion born of long ex­pe­ri­ence with its in­tri­ca­cies.

Even in quite sim­ple mat­ters, such as the rental of lodg­ings, Dick­ens sug­gests that both Grew­gious and Datch­ery pro­ceed with the same de­gree of thor­ough­ness based upon fa­mil­iar­i­ty with the legal as­pects of the sit­u­a­tion. When Grew­gious makes ar­range­ments to set­tle Rosa and Miss Twin­kle­ton in one of the apart­ments avail­able in the home of Mrs. Bil­lickin, Dick­ens tells us: "By this time Mr. Grew­gious had his agree­ment-lines, and his earnest money, ready. 'I have signed it for the ladies, ma'am,' he said, 'and you II have the good­ness to sign it for your­self, Chris­tian and Sur­name, there, if you please.' " There fol­lows an in­ter­lude in the course of which Mrs. Bil­lickin ex­plains most em­phat­i­cal­ly why she will not sign her Chris­tian name, where­upon we read: "De­tails were then set­tled for tak­ing pos­ses­sion on the next day but one, when Miss Twin­kle­ton might rea­son­ably be ex­pect­ed." In like man­ner, Dick Datch­ery, when he de­cides to take the rooms of­fered by Mrs. Tope, the Verg­er's wife, acts with the same care and does ev­ery­thing in ac­cor­dance with le­gal­i­ty. "He found the rent mod­er­ate, and ev­ery­thing as quaint­ly in­con­ve­nient as he could de­sire. He agreed, there­fore, to take the lodg­ing then and there, and money down, pos­ses­sion to be had next evening, on con­di­tion that ref­er­ence was per­mit­ted him to Mr. Jasper as oc­cu­py­ing the gate­house, of which on the other side of the gate­way, the Verg­er's hole-in-the- wall was an ap­panage or sub­sidiary part."

The pro­ce­dure on the part of both men is the same; it is but one of the many ways in which Dick­ens has linked them to­geth­er in­evitably.

Since men­tion has been made of Datch­ery's lodg­ings in Clois­ter­ham, it might be well to con­sid­er the en­cour­ag­ing words spo­ken to Rosa by Grew­gious when he leaves her at Fur­ni­val's on the night of that same tor­rid day when she fled in ter­ror from Jasper: " ‘There is a stout gate of iron bars to keep him out,' said Mr. Grew­gious, smil­ing ; ‘and Fur­ni­val's is fire-proof, and spe­cial­ly watched and light­ed, and I live over the way!' " It may be mere co­in­ci­dence, but when Datch­ery takes up res­i­dence at Mrs. Tope's in Clois­ter­ham, he, too, lives "on the other side of the gate­way," which was "over the way" from John Jasper.

We have seen how Datch­ery was ac­cus­tomed to lounge hat­less about the streets of the cathe­dral city, with his long white hair stream­ing. Dick­ens re­it­er­ates this ten­den­cy not once or twice but sev­er­al times. In my earn­er dis­cus­sion of the Datch­ery dis­guise, I have al­ready given my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of this in­sis­tence on a small de­tail. Slight as the sim­i­lar­i­ty may be, it is in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve that Grew­gious, anx­ious to pro­vide Rosa with food on the oc­ca­sion of her flight from Clois­ter­ham, "ran across to Fur­ni­val's, with­out his hat, to give his var­i­ous di­rec­tions." It was by no means nec­es­sary for Dick­ens to in­sert that lit­tle touch; it is pos­si­ble that he did so de­lib­er­ate­ly.

I have al­ready dealt with Datch­ery's habit of shak­ing his hair — a ges­ture in­duc­ing Mr. J. Cum­ing Wal­ters to the be­lief that he was re­al­ly He­le­na Land­less, — and I in­ti­mat­ed that he did so be­cause he was obliged to re­press a more char­ac­ter­is­tic man­ner­ism made im­pos­si­ble by rea­son of the wig he was wear­ing. What is this ges­ture but a mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the lawyer's well-known smooth­ing ac­tion, so often de­scribed by Dick­ens, in so many dif­fer­ent ways?

1. "Mr. Grew­gious, with a sense of not hav­ing man­aged his open­ing point quite as neat­ly as he might have de­sired, smoothed his head from back to front as if he had just dived, and were press­ing the water out — this smooth­ing ac­tion, how­ev­er su­per­flu­ous, was ha­bit­u­al with him — and took a pock­et-book from his coat-pock­et, and a stump of black-lead pen­cil from his waist­coat-pock­et."

2. "Mr. Grew­gious pulled off his hat to smooth his head, and, hav­ing smoothed it, nod­ded it con­tent­ed­ly, and put his hat on again."

3. "Mr. Grew­gious smoothed his head and face, and stood look­ing at the fire."

The wig worn by Dick Datch­ery per­mits Dick­ens to kill two birds with one stone: ac­com­pa­nied by this ten­den­cy of Datch­ery's to shake his hair, it sub­tly sug­gests what it ac­tu­al­ly is — while it also serves to con­ceal the Grew­gious smooth­ing ac­tion, mod­i­fied by ne­ces­si­ty. And fur­ther­more, the read­er will con­sid­er it per­fect­ly nat­u­ral for a per­son to shake the long hair of an op­pres­sive wig, es­pe­cial­ly when the per­son con­cerned, who­ev­er he may be, is not ac­cus­tomed to wear­ing such an ar­ti­cle.

Be­fore the first of the three quo­ta­tions de­scrib­ing Mr. Grew­gious's smooth­ing habit has been for­got­ten, men­tion must be made of the fact that Mr. Datch­ery, too, car­ried a pock­et­book, and pre­sum­ably a pen­cil. Now this point of sim­i­lar­i­ty may well ap­pear puerile in the ex­treme; yet Dick­ens seems to em­pha­size it need­less­ly with re­spect to Datch­ery. When the gray-haired stranger, still in the com­pa­ny of Mayor Sapsea, first be­holds the amaz­ing in­scrip­tion com­posed by His Honor in mem­o­ry of his de­ceased wife and en­graved upon her mon­u­ment, Dick­ens de­scribes his re­ac­tions in the fol­low­ing man­ner: "Mr. Datch­ery be­came so ec­stat­ic over Mr. Sapsea's com­po­si­tion, that, in spite of his in­ten­tion to end his days in Clois­ter­ham, and there­fore his prob­a­bly hav­ing in re­serve many op­por­tu­ni­ties of copy­ing it, he would have tran­scribed it into his pock­et-book on the spot, but for the slouch­ing to­wards them of its ma­te­ri­al pro­duc­er and per­pet­u­a­tor, Dur­dles, whom Mr. Sapsea hailed, not sorry to show him a bright ex­am­ple of be­haviour to su­pe­ri­ors."

The pock­et-book and pen­cil nat­u­ral­ly call to mind an­oth­er of the old lawyer's char­ac­ter­is­tics: that of check­ing off the var­i­ous items of a list, real or fan­cied. Dick­ens gives us at least three ex­am­ples of this me­thod­i­cal habit.

1. "Mr. Grew­gious smoothed his smooth head again, and then made an­oth­er ref­er­ence to his pock­et-book; lin­ing out 'well and happy,' as dis­posed of."

2. " 'I have now, my dear,' he added, blur­ring out 'Will' with his pen­cil, dis­charged my­self of what is doubt­less a for­mal duty in this case, but still a duty in such a case.' "

3. " 'I am right so far,' said Mr. Grew­gious. 'Tick that off'; which which he did, with his right thumb on his left."

When he ap­pears in Clois­ter­ham as Dick Datch­ery, Grew­gious trans­lates this check­ing habit into the old tav­ern method of keep­ing score, with a piece of chalk in lieu of a pen­cil. "At length he rises, throws open the door of a cor­ner cup­board, and refers to a few un­couth chalked strokes on its inner side. — He sighs over the con­tem­pla­tion of its pover­ty, takes a bit of chalk from one of the cup­board shelves, and paus­es with it in his hand, un­cer­tain what ad­di­tion to make to the ac­count. 'I think a mod­er­ate stroke,' he con­cludes, 'is all I am jus­ti­fied in scor­ing up'; so, suits the ac­tion to the word, clos­es the cup­board, and goes to bed."

It is amaz­ing to me how the writ­ing down of one sim­i­lar­i­ty be­tween Grew­gious and Datch­ery, il­lus­trat­ed by di­rect quo­ta­tions from the text of the novel, al­most in­vari­ably sug­gests an­oth­er. The pas­sage above brings to my mind the ten­den­cy of both men to talk aloud when they are alone, and to suit the ac­tion to the word, as Dick­ens so neat­ly puts it by bor­row­ing Ham­let's phrase. The next two se­lec­tions are so strik­ing in their par­al­lelism that I shall let them speak for them­selves. It is just pos­si­ble that they may be co­in­ci­den­tal in this re­spect, but I very much doubt it. Dick­ens, al­ways ex­treme­ly sen­si­tive to crit­i­cism, had been net­tled by the ac­cu­sa­tion that some of his plots were loose­ly con­struct­ed, and that cer­tain of his melo­dra­mat­ic de­noue­ments were poor­ly mo­ti­vat­ed. He was de­ter­mined, there­fore, that "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood" should give the lie to such ob­ser­va­tions; he was ma­nip­u­lat­ing its in­tri­cate prob­lem with the skill of a watch­mak­er. But let us con­sid­er the pas­sages to which I have al­lud­ed.

1. "Mr. Grew­gious crossed the stair­case to his raw and foggy bed­room, and was soon ready for bed. Dimly catch­ing sight of his face in the misty look­ing-glass, he held his can­dle to it for a mo­ment."

" 'A like­ly some one, you, to come into any­body thoughts in such an as­pect!' he ex­claimed. 'There! there! there! Get to bed, poor man, and cease to jab­bers!'

"With that, he ex­tin­guished his light, pulled up the bed­clothes around him, and with an­oth­er sigh shut out the world."

2. "Said Mr. Datch­ery to him­self that night, as he looked at his white hair in the gas-light­ed look­ing-glass over the cof­fee-room chim­ney-piece at the Crozi­er, and shook it out: 'For a sin­gle buffer, of an easy tem­per liv­ing idly on his means, I have had a rather busy af­ter­noon!' "

I can not re­frain from di­rect­ing at­ten­tion to Grew­gious's ex­cla­ma­tion in the first of the two pas­sages quot­ed above; it af­fords a per­fect­ly pat an­swer to the ques­tion: "Who can Dick Datch­ery pos­si­bly be?" "A like­ly some one, you, to come into any­body thoughts in such an as­pect!"

The var­i­ous writ­ers who have backed one char­ac­ter or an­oth­er in the novel for the role of Dick Datch­ery have con­tend­ed, with but few ex­cep­tions, that their can­di­date talks like the white-haired stranger; they have quot­ed cer­tain words or phras­es not un­like those ut­tered by Lieu­tenant Tar­tar, He­le­na Land­less, and oth­ers. There is then, noth­ing new about my in­ten­tion to fol­low the same sort of pro­ce­dure. But in doing so I shall limit my­self to four points of sim­i­lar­i­ty only, not be­cause there are no oth­ers which might be brought for­ward, but for the sake of brevi­ty. For the same rea­son, also, I do not pro­pose to mul­ti­ply the speech­es ad­duced as proofs, nor shall I es­tab­lish the cir­cum­stances in which they were made. They are all taken from the text of the novel, and those who are fa­mil­iar with it will have no dif­fi­cul­ty in rec­og­niz­ing these spot pas­sages, if I may so term them.

First of all, I would point out the ten­den­cy dis­played by both Grew­gious and Datch­ery for long, sonorous speech­es al­ter­nat­ing with short, pithy ones. The in­cli­na­tion to speak at some length is more marked in Grew­gious, for he is often the dom­i­nat­ing per­son­al­i­ty by rea­son of the sit­u­a­tion in which he ap­pears; he is there­fore in a po­si­tion to have his say ac­cord­ing to his plea­sure. When he goes about Clois­ter­ham as Dick Datch­ery, the lawyer is not so prone to talk in round pe­ri­ods — al­though he does so on oc­ca­sion.

Il­lus­tra­tions of both styles fol­low.


1. "Let him be! Don't you see you have lamed him?"
"Come here."
"Stay there, then, and show me which is Mr. Tope's."
"Show me where it is, and I'll give you some­thing."
"That's Tope's?"
"Why not?"

2. "Might I ask His Hon­our whether that gen­tle­man we have just left is the gen­tle­man of whom I have heard in the neigh­bour­hood as being much af­flict­ed by the loss of a nephew, and con­cen­trat­ing his life on aveng­ing the loss?"

"The Wor­ship­ful the Mayor gives them a char­ac­ter of which they may in­deed be proud. I would ask His Hon­our (if I might be per­mit­ted) whether there are not many ob­jects of great in­ter­est in the city which is under his benef­i­cent sway?"


1. " 'Yes,' said Mr. Grew­gious, 'I refer it to you, as an au­thor­i­ty.' "

" 'Like­ly so,' as­sent­ed Mr. Grew­gious, 'like­ly so. I am a hard man in the gram."

"No to be sure; he may not."

" 'His re­spon­si­bil­i­ty is very great, though,' said Mr. Grew­gious at length, with his eyes on the fire."

" 'And let him be sure that he tri­fles with no one,' said Mr. Grew­gious; nei­ther with him­self, nor with any other."

2. " 'Mr. Edwin will cor­rect it where it's wrong,' re­sumed Mr. Grew­gious, 'and will throw in a few touch­es from the life. I dare say it is wrong in many par­tic­u­lars, and wants many touch­es from the life, for I was born a Chip, and have nei­ther soft sym­pa­thies nor soft ex­pe­ri­ences. Well! I haz­ard the guess that the true lovers mind is com­plete­ly per­me­at­ed by the beloved ob­ject of his af­fec­tions. I haz­ard the guess that her dear name is pre­cious to him can­not be heard or re­peat­ed with­out emo­tion, and is pre­served sa­cred. If he has any dis­tin­guish­ing ap­pel­la­tion of fond­ness for her, it is re­served for her, and is not for com­mon ears. A name that it would be a priv­i­lege to call her by, being alone with her own bright self, it would be a lib­er­ty, a cold­ness, an in­sen­si­bil­i­ty, al­most a breach of good faith, to flaunt else­where.' "

The habit of re­peat­ing them­selves is com­mon to both Grew­gious and Datch­ery, as may be seen even in the pas­sages just quot­ed for a to­tal­ly dif­fer­ent pur­pose not only sin­gle words, but whole phras­es, are re­it­er­at­ed by the two men. As one might ex­pect, the ten­den­cies under dis­cus­sion are more pro­nounced in Grew­gious; Dick­ens did not want to make the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween them too ap­par­ent for in­ter­est would be gone if the read­er were able to de­duce al­most im­me­di­ate­ly that the lawyer and the gray-haired stranger were one and the same per­son. But Datch­ery is cer­tain­ly an echo, al­beit a faint one, of his rear ego.


"Good. See here. You owe me half of this."

"I tell you you owe me half of this, be­cause I have no six­pence in my pock­et. So the next time you meet me you shall do some­thing else for me, to pay me."

"His Hon­our the Mayor does me too much cred­it."

"Again, His Hon­our the Mayor does me too much cred­it."

"His Hon­our re­minds me of the na­ture of the law. Im­moral. How true!"

"How forcible! — And yet, again, how true!"

In order to con­serve space, I shall mere­ly add that in his con­ver­sa­tion with Thomas Sapsea, Datch­ery ad­dress­es the wor­thy gen­tle­man as "The Wor­ship­ful the Mayor" twice; as "His Hon­our the Mayor" six times; and as "His Hon­our" no less than eight times.


"My dear, how do you do? I am glad to see you. My dear, how much im­proved you are. Per­mit me to hand you a chair, my dear."

" 'Not at all, I thank you,' an­swered Mr. Grew­gious."

" 'Not at all, I thank you,' an­swered Mr. Grew­gious again."

" 'I couldn't get a morsel down my throat, I thank you,' an­swered Mr. Grew­gious."

In­ter­jec­tions sug­ges­tive of ei­ther a med­i­ta­tive frame of mind or a clear­ing of the throat to at­tract at­ten­tion are used by both men. The "Umps!" em­ployed by Mr. Grew­gious on at least two oc­ca­sions is quite nat­u­ral­ly not dis­cov­er­able in any­thing that Datch­ery says; such an un­usu­al ex­cla­ma­tion, had it been voiced by Datch­ery, would have given away the whole show.


" 'Mar­riage.' Hem!"

" 'Hem! Per­mit me, sir, to have the hon­oured,' said Mr. Grew­gious, ad­vanc­ing with ex­tend­ed hand, 'for an hon­our I truly es­teem it.' "


"Hum; ha! A very small score this; a very poor score!"

What I may call a dep­re­ca­to­ry or be­lit­tling note is sound­ed in the speech­es of both men. It is an out­stand­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of Grew­gious, who seems re­luc­tant to at­tribute to him­self any of the qual­i­ties of which the av­er­age in­di­vid­u­al so fre­quent­ly boasts. When he has to put him­self for­ward as Datch­ery in Clois­ter­ham, Grew­gious is in no po­si­tion to in­dulge this ha­bit­u­al un­der­state­ment of his virtues, of which he has a great many. It may have been with full knowl­edge and in­tent that Dick­ens gave him the name "Hiram," which means "noble." But this Grew­gious char­ac­ter­is­tic does crop up in Datch­ery on at least one oc­ca­sion.


" 'I made,' he said, turn­ing the leaves: 'I made a guid­ing mem­o­ran­dum or so — as I usu­al­ly do, for I have no con­ver­sa­tion­al pow­ers what­ev­er — to which I will, with your per­mis­sion, my dear, refer.' "

" 'And May!' pur­sued Mr. Grew­gious — 'I am not at lib­er­ty to be def­i­nite — May! — my con­ver­sa­tion­al pow­ers are so very lim­it­ed that I know I shall not come well out of this — May! — it ought to be put imag­i­na­tive­ly, but I have no imag­i­na­tion — May! — the thorn of anx­i­ety is as near­ly the mark as I am like­ly to get — May it come out at last!' "


"I beg par­don. A self­ish pre­cau­tion on my part, and not per­son­al­ly in­ter­est­ing to any­body but my­self. But as a buffer liv­ing on his means, and hav­ing an idea of doing it in this love­ly place in peace and quiet, for re­main­ing span of life, I beg to ask if the Tope fam­i­ly are quite re­spectable?"

l sub­mit that the speech­es pre­sent­ed to the read­er, es­pe­cial­ly those so strik­ing­ly marked by rep­e­ti­tion of the same words and phras­es, were ut­tered by one and the same man.

And now I come at last to the dis­cov­ery made one night while I was pon­der­ing over cer­tain parts of the book which I have had be­fore my eyes as often as any other that I can re­call. I would not ven­ture to guess how many times I have com­pared the de­scrip­tions of Mr. Grew­gious and Dick Datch­ery, but I can say with as­sur­ance that they have been by no means few. Both men are so fa­mil­iar to me as the re­sult of con­stant reread­ing of what they are like and what they say that they seem like old friends who tend to be taken for grant­ed — and are so taken far too often. I was well along in my manuscript when I turned again to Dick­ens's por­tray­al of the two char­ac­ters in whom I have been so deeply in­ter­est­ed. But I did so on this oc­ca­sion with a re­sult which was as startling as it was un­fore­seen. There on the pages black­ened by notes and heavy un­der­scor­ings I saw what had never ap­peared be­fore. Re­luc­tant as I am to use such a word to sum up my ex­pe­ri­ence, it was noth­ing less than a rev­e­la­tion.

What I per­ceived with in­stan­ta­neous aware­ness on the part of the mind's eye, to bor­row Ham­let's fe­lic­i­tous ex­pres­sion for some­thing like an in­ward vi­sion, was the trans­par­ent pos­si­bil­i­ty of so re­ar­rang­ing cer­tain parts of the Grew­gious and Datch­ery de­scrip­tions as to make the link be­tween the two men a cer­tain­ty. I make this state­ment ad­vis­ed­ly, for I can­not con­ceive of such a re­ar­range­ment as re­sult­ing from mere chance. I am no math­e­mati­cian, but I doubt that the prob­a­bil­i­ty of its so doing could be ex­pressed by any fig­ures short of those we are wont to term as­tro­nom­i­cal. In order to make clear to the read­er what I saw, I must first set down a part of Dick­ens's de­scrip­tion of Dick Datch­ery, and then place after it a por­tion of the de­scrip­tion of Mr. Grew­gious.

DATCH­ERY: "This gen­tle­man white head was un­usu­al­ly large, and his shock of white hair was un­usu­al­ly ample."

GREW­GIOUS: "He had a scanty flat crop of hair, in colour and con­sis­ten­cy like some very mangy yel­low fur tip­pet; it was so un­like hair, that it must have been a wig, but for the stu­pen­dous im­prob­a­bil­i­ty of any­body's vol­un­tar­i­ly sport­ing such a head."

And now for the re­ar­range­ment, which records for the first time, to the best of my knowl­edge, an en­tire­ly new sen­tence.

This gen­tle­man's white head was un­usu­al­ly large, and his shock of white hair was un­usu­al­ly ample; it was so un­like hair, that it must have been a wig, but for the stu­pen­dous im­prob­a­bil­i­ty of any­body's vol­un­tar­i­ly sport­ing such a head.

Is that sen­tence per­fect in its gram­mat­i­cal con­struc­tion, punc­tu­a­tion, and sig­nif­i­cance, the re­sult of pure co­in­ci­dence or blind chance? I can­not be­lieve so; it is my firm con­vic­tion that the jux­ta­po­si­tion I have ef­fect­ed was de­lib­er­ate­ly made pos­si­ble by Charles Dick­ens him­self. Mark well the ad­jec­tive with which the au­thor qual­i­fies so strong­ly the word "im­prob­a­bil­i­ty" — "stu­pen­dous." Yes, here in­deed is the stu­pen­dous im­prob­a­bil­i­ty — the cli­max of that in­ter­est which was to be kept sus­pend­ed from Parts V and VI of "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood" until the end: Hiram Grew­gious is Dick Datch­ery. The two, through the demon­stra­ble in­ter­min­gling of the de­scrip­tions Dick­ens gave them, are made one.

Whether the read­ers of this study will find my com­pos­ite a le­git­i­mate ar­gu­ment in favor of my con­tention that Grew­gious and Datch­ery are one and the same per­son, I do not know. They must judge for them­selves the va­lid­i­ty of the de­vice which has im­pressed me deeply. Mean­while, with all the courage of my con­vic­tions, I give them Hiram Grew­gious, alias Dick Datch­ery, the mys­te­ri­ous white-haired stranger of Clois­ter­ham.