C. A. M. Fennell: The opium-woman and Datchery in "The mystery of Edwin Drood"

Review in "Notes and Queries", Juli 26, 1913


R. FEN­NELL has been em­ploy­ing his en­forced leisure (due, we re­gret to know, to in­dis­po­si­tion) in con­tribut­ing "a mite to­wards the clear­er ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the 'mas­ter­piece' (H. J.) of fic­tion" 'Edwin Drood,' the ini­tials "H. J.," as our read­ers know, stand­ing for Prof. Henry Jack­son. In his pam­phlet "The Opi­um-Wom­an" and "Datch­ery" in 'The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood', pub­lished by Mr. E.Johnson of Cam­bridge, Dr. Fen­nell first deals with the ques­tion of the iden­ti­ty of the Opi­um-Wom­an, and sug­gests that one of Miss Rosa Bud's four grand­par­ents, after Rosa's moth­er was en­gaged to Mr. Bud, be­came a hard drinker and then an opi­um-smok­er, so that she fig­ures in 'The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood' as the "hag­gard woman," host­ess of the opi­um-den fre­quent­ed by Jasper." As to Datch­ery, Dr. Fen­nell agrees with Mr. Edwin Charles and oth­ers that he is Baz­zard, and he in­fers that "Baz­zard has been em­ployed for some time, as well as when Datch­ery vis­its Clois­ter­ham, as a pri­vate de­fec­tive ... Rosa's guardian seems a like­ly per­son for her fa­ther to se­lect for the busi­ness of try­ing to trace her grand­moth­er, if an ine­bri­ate, and 'lost to her re­la­tions, with a view to re­liev­ing her if nec­es­sary, and re­claim­ing her if pos­si­ble, and to pre­vent her an­noy­ing Rosa." But though Dr. Fen­nell "can­not allow that He­le­na is Datch­ery," he "be­lieves that as a huntress of her broth­er's foe she may have gone through one very try­ing or­deal, dis­guised as Edwin Drood, in the crypt, name­ly, the scene de­pict­ed in the cen­tral low­est sketch on the cover, and that she scared Jasper into be­tray­ing his guilt ... Baz­zard is Datch­ery. Even­tu­al­ly the plot­ters against Jasper's peace in­vite him to get a key and go with them, nom­i­nal­ly to see if any traces of Edwin can be found, but re­al­ly to be tricked into be­tray­ing his se­cret by see­ing what he takes for his vic­tim alive again or for his phan­tom. So he re­veals his se­cret to the men be­hind him and to He­le­na and her es­cort, or else to Baz­zard, be­fore he be­comes vi­o­lent, or tries to es­cape from the Cathe­dral or else­where."

It will be seen that the writ­er agrees with Sir Robert­son Nicoll that Edwin Drood was dead.

We cor­dial­ly wel­come this valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the stud­ies on the mys­tery Charles Dick­ens has left us.