Frederic G. Kitton: The Novels of Charles Dickens: "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

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HERE is nat­u­ral­ly a pa­thet­ic in­ter­est at­tach­ing to this, the last, work of Charles Dick­ens, whose pre­ma­ture death un­hap­pi­ly pre­vent­ed the com­ple­tion of what promised to be one of his most dra­mat­ic ef­forts in lit­er­a­ture. While prepar­ing the early num­bers of "Edwin Drood," the nov­el­ist was en­gaged upon his Farewell Read­ings, these tak­ing place in Lon­don at in­ter­vals dur­ing Jan­uary, Febru­ary, and March, 1870. It is gen­er­al­ly con­ced­ed that the ex­cite­ment and fa­tigue in­ci­den­tal to these Read­ings in­du­bitably has­tened the end; à pro­pos of which Mr. Ruskin wrote four years af­ter­wards, in reply to an in­vi­ta­tion to lec­ture: "The mis­er­able death of poor Dick­ens, when he might have been writ­ing blessed books till he was eighty, but for the pes­tif­er­ous de­mand of the mob, is a very solemn warn­ing to us all, if we would take it." In order to avoid the men­tal an­guish which, when trav­el­ling on the rail­way, the nov­el­ist in­vari­ably ex­pe­ri­enced after the Sta­ple­hurst ac­ci­dent, he tem­porar­i­ly left Gad's Hill to take up his res­i­dence in the town house of his friend Mr. Mil­ner Gib­son, at 5, Hyde Park Place. Here, in a bed­room which com­mand­ed a splen­did view of the Park, much of "Edwin Drood" was writ­ten; al­though the roar of Ox­ford Street be­neath made it­self very ob­vi­ous, he was not af­fect­ed by it, being sin­gu­lar­ly un­sus­cep­ti­ble to noise.

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