Edmund Wilson: The Two Scrooges

In The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the motif of Bradley Headstone is, with certain variations, repeated.

This novel, written five years later, Dickens never lived to finish, and it is supposed to have been left an enigma. We must first try to solve this enigma; and to do so we must proceed with a consciousness of the real meaning of Dickens' work. For though it is true that Edwin Drood has been enormously written about, it has been always from the point of view of trying to find out what Dickens intended to do with the plot. None of the more serious critics of Dickens has ever been able to take the novel very seriously. They persist in dismissing it as a detective story with good touches and promising characters, but of no interest in the development of Dickens' genius. Bernard Shaw, who is interested in the social side of Dickens, declares that it is ' only a gesture by a man three quarters dead* ; and it is true, as Forster remarked, that The Mystery of Edwin Drood seems quite free from the social criticism which had grown more biting as Dickens grew older; but what Forster and Shaw do not see is that the psychological interest which had been a feature of Dickens' later period is carried farther in Edwin Drood. Like all the books that Dickens wrote under the strain of his later years, it has behind it bitter judgments and desperate emotions. Here as elsewhere the solution of the mystery was to have said some thing that Dickens wanted to say.

It did not, it is true, become possible to gauge the full significance of the novel until certain key discoveries had been made in regard to the plot itself; but the creation of such a character as John Jasper at this point in Dickens' development should have had its significance for any student of Dickens and should have led to a more careful consideration, in the light of certain hints supplied by Forster, of the psychological possibilities of the character. It has remained for two American scholars to hit upon the cardinal secrets that explain the personality of Jasper. As both these discoveries have been made since the publication in 1912. of W. Robertson Nicoll's otherwise comprehensive book, The Problem of Edwin Drood, they have not received attention there; they are not included by Thomas Wright in the bibliography of Edwin Drood in his Life of Charles Dickens, published in 1936; and so far as I know, up to the present time, nobody who has written about Dickens has been in a position to combine these ideas. Yet what happens when one puts them together is startling: the old novel acquires a sudden new value. As one can revive invisible ink by holding it over a lamp or bring out three dimensions in a photograph by looking at it through certain lenses, so it is possible to recall to life the character of John Jasper as he must have been conceived by Dickens. The most important revelation about Edwin Drood has been made by Mr. Howard Duffield, who published an article called John Jasper Strangler in The American Bookman of February, 1930. Mr. Duffield has here shown conclusively that Jasper is supposed to be a member of the Indian sect of Thugs, who made a profession of ingratiating themselves with travelers and then strangling them with a handkerchief and robbing them. This brotherhood, which had been operating for centuries pretty much all over India and which had given the British government a great deal of trouble before it succeeded in putting them down during the thirties, had already attracted a good deal of attention. Two of the British officers who had been engaged in the suppression of the Thugs had written books about them one of them in the form of a story, Meadows Taylor's Confessions of a Thug, supposed to be narrated by the Thug himself. Eugene Sue had introduced into The Wandering Jew a Thug strangler practicing in Europe; and an American novelist, James de Mille, was publishing a novel called Cord and Creese, which dealt with an Englishman affiliated with the Thugs, the same year, 1869, that Dickens began Edwin Drood. Dickens' friend, Edward Bulwer Lytton, had already considered using this theme. Dickens himself had mentioned the Thugs in 1857 in connection with a garrotting epidemic in London. The publication in 1868 of Wilkie Collins* detective story, The Moonstone, in which a band of Hindu devotees commit a secret murder in England, seems to have inspired Dickens with the idea of outdoing his friend the next year with a story of a similar kind.

Now we know from the statement of Sir Luke Fildes, Dickens' illustrator in Edwin Drood, that Dickens intended to have Jasper strangle Drood with the long scarf which he (Jasper) wears around his neck; and we know from many circumstances and certain hints that the story is to have its roots in the East. Neville and Helena Landless are supposed to come from Ceylon; and Mr. Jasper, who smokes opium and sees elephants in his trances, is described as having 'thick, lustrous, well-arranged black hair and whiskers' and a voice that sometimes sounds 'womanish 1 in short, as something very much like a Hindu. Furthermore, as Mr. Duffield has established, John Jasper and this explains a good deal that has never been understood has been trying to fulfill the ritualistic requirements for a sanctified and successful Thug murder. The Thugs were worshipers of Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction, and their methods had been prescribed by the goddess. They had to commit their crimes with the fold of cloth which was a fragment of the gown of Kali. Kali's gown was supposed to be black, and Jasper's scarf is black. This cloth had to be worn, as Jasper's scarf is. A secret burial place had to be selected, as Jasper selects Mrs. Sapsea's tomb, before the murder took place. The omens had to be observed, as is done by Mr. Jasper when he makes his nocturnal trip to the top of the cathedral tower; the call of a rook in sight of a river was regarded as a favorable sign, the approving word of the goddess, and that, one finds, is precisely what Jasper hears. The significance of the birds is planted plainly at the beginning of Chapter II, when the Cloisterham rooks are first mentioned:. "Whosoever has observed that sedate and clerical bird, the rook, may perhaps have noticed that when he wings his way homeward toward nightfall, in a sedate and clerical company, two rooks will suddenly detach themselves from the rest, will retrace their flight for some distance, and will there poise and linger; conveying to mere men the fancy that it is of some occult importance to the body politic, that this artful couple should pretend to have renounced connection with it" The Thug preys exclusively on travelers: Edwin Drood is going on a journey; and when Jasper fill in his second opium dream, is heard talking to himself about the murder, it is all in terms of a journey and a fellow traveler. The Thug is to use exaggerated words of endearment, as Jasper does with Drood. He is to persuade his victim to leave his lodging a little after midnight, as Jasper has done with Drood, and to stupefy him with a drug in his food or drink, as Jasper has obviously done, first with Edwin and Neville, and afterwards with Durdles.

Since Jasper is eventually to be caught, he is evidently to have slipped up in the ritual. Mr. Duffield suggests that his mistake has been to commit the murder without an assistant; but he has overlooked the Thug superstition (recorded by Edward Thornton in Illustrations of the History and Practices of the Thugs, published in 1837) that nothing but evil could come of murdering a man with any gold in his possession. Now Drood, unknown to Jasper, is carrying the gold ring which Grewgious has given him for Rosa; and we have it on Dickens' own testimony to Forster that the body is to be identified by this ring, which has survived the effects of the quicklime. True, Edwin had also been wearing the stickpin and the gold watch; but as Jasper knew about these and took care to leave them in the weir, he may have removed them before the murder when Edwin was drugged.

Supplementing this interesting discovery we find a paper by Mr. Aubrey Boyd in the series of Humanistic Studies (Volume IX) published by Washington University, in which he shows that Jasper is also a hypnotist. Dickens had always been interested in hypnotism. Forster speaks of his first seriously studying it in 1841. He even found that he himself, with that extraordinarily magnetic personality which made k possible for him so to fascinate his audiences and which exerted, as Mrs. Perugini testifies, so irresistible a power over his family, was able to hypnotize people. His first experiment was performed on his wife in the course of his earlier trip to America. He had, he wrote Forster, been "holding forth upon the subject rather luminously, and asserting that I thought I could exercise the influence, but had never tried. 'Kate sat down, laughing, for me to try my hand upon her. ... In six minutes, I magnetized her into hysterics, and then into the magnetic sleep. I tried again next night, and she fell into the slumber in little more than two minutes. ... I can wake her with perfect ease; but I confess (not being prepared for anything so sudden and complete) I was on the first occasion rather alarmed." Later, we hear of his hypnotizing John Leech in order to relieve his pain during an illness.

In the meantime, he had a strange experience, reported by Mrs. Perugini, with an English woman he had met in Genoa in 1844. This lady, who was married to a Swiss printer, was afflicted with delusions that 'took the form of a phantom which spoke to her, and other illusionary figures of the most hideous shapes and gory appearance, which came in a crowd, chattering one to the other as they pursued her, and after a time faded, veiling their loathsome faces as they disappeared into space/ Dickens, who at the time was suffering from a recurrence of the spasms of pain in his side which had afflicted him as a child in the blacking warehouse, hypnotized her once or twice every day and found that he could control the delusions. He seems to have become obsessed with the case: the treatment went on for months. On one occasion, ' he was in such a fever of anxiety to receive a letter from his friend concerning the state of his wife that he watched through a telescope the arrival of the mailbags into port. He mesmerized her 'in the open country and at wayside inns where . . . they would halt for refreshment or stay the night. He mesmerized her in railway carriages anywhere, if the moment was opportune. By degrees she became better and more serene in her mind and body/ The delusions were apparently dispelled.

It was obviously on the cards that Dickens would do something with this subject in his novels; and it should have given the Drood experts a lead when they encountered a reference to it in the third chapter of Edwin Drood. Robertson Nicoll, disregarding this key passage, mentions the matter in another connection: he sees that Jasper has 'willed' Crisparkle to go to the weir, where he will find the watch and stickpin of Edwin; but he does not inquire farther. It remained for Mr. Boyd, who has some special knowledge of Mesmer and his writings, to recognize that Dickens has introduced the whole repertory of the supposed feats of mesmerism called also * animal magnetism' at the time just as he has reproduced the practices of the Thugs. Mr. Jasper is clearly exercising 'animal magnetism,' in this case the kind known as 'malicious,' on Rosa Budd in the scene where he accompanies her at the piano; he is exercising it on Edwin and Neville when he causes them to quarrel in his rooms. It was supposed in Dickens' time that this influence could be projected through the agency of mere sound: hence the insistent keynote in the piano scene and the swelling note of the organ that frightens Rosa in the garden. And it was also supposed to penetrate matter: hence Rosa's remark to Helena that she feels as if Jasper could reach her through a wall. It could be made to impregnate objects in such a way as to remain effective after the master of the magnetic fluid was no longer himself on the scene: Jasper has put a spell on the water where Edwin's watch and stickpin are to be found. And it is possible, though Mr. Boyd does not suggest it, that the transmission of Jasper's influence from a distance may also explain the behavior, of which the implausible character has been noted, of the men who pursue and waylay Landless.

The revealing hint here, however, is the passage in the third chapter, of which Boyd has understood the significance and which has led him to a brilliant conjecture: "As, in some cases of drunkenness,' writes Dickens, 'and in others of animal magnetism, there are two states of consciousness that never clash, but each of which pursues its separate course as though it were continuous instead of broken (thus, if I hide my watch when I am drunk, I must be drunk again before I can remember where), so Miss Twinkleton has two distinct and separate phases of being" Dickens had told Forster that the originality of his idea for Drood, 'a very strong one, though difficult to work' (Dickens' words in a letter), was to consist (Forster's words in recounting a conversation with Dickens) 'in the review of the murderer's career by himself at the close, when its temptations were to be dwelt upon as if, not he the culprit, but some other man, were the tempted. The last chapters were to be written in the condemned cell, to which his wickedness, all elaborately elicited from him as if told of another, had brought him".

John Jasper has then 'two states of consciousness'; he is, in short, what we have come to call a dual personality. On the principle that 'if I hide my watch when I am drunk, I must be drunk again before I can remember where,' it will be necessary, in order to extort his confession, to find access to that state of consciousness, evidently not the one with which he meets the cathedral world, in which he has committed the murder. The possibility of opium, suggested by Robertson Nicoll, is excluded. Wilkie Collins had just made use of precisely this device in The Moonstone: the man who has taken the Moonstone under the influence of laudanum, which has been given him without his being aware of it, is made to repeat his action under the influence of a second dose, The drunkenness in which Jasper will betray himself will not, then, be produced by a drug. Dickens must go Collins one better. Mr. Boyd has evidently solved the puzzle in guessing that Helena Landless is eventually to hypnotize Jasper. In the scene at the piano, where he is working on Rosa with the effect of making her hysterical, Helena maintains an attitude of defiance and announces that she is not afraid of him. It had already been established by Cuming Walters it was the first of the important discoveries about Drood that Datchery, the mysterious character who comes to Cloisterham to spy on Jasper, is Helena in disguise. We have been told that Helena used to masquerade and pass herself off as a boy; and Dickens' alterations in his text, both the amplifications of the written copy and the later excisions from the proofs, indicate very clearly that he was aiming in dealing with such details as Helena's wig and her attempts to conceal her feminine hands to insinuate evidences of her real identity without allowing the reader to find it out too soon. Helena is to get the goods on Jasper, and in the end, having no doubt acquired in India the same secret which he has been exploiting (there may be also, as so often in Dickens, some question of a family relationship), she will put him in a trance and make him speak.

What Mr. Boyd, however, was not in a position to do was combine this idea with the Thug theme. The Thugs were all in a sense divided personalities. Colonel James L. Sleeman, in his book on the subject, emphasizes what he calls this 'Jekyll-and-Hyde* aspect of their activities. The Thugs were devoted husbands and loving fathers; they made a point again like Mr. Jasper of holding positions of honor in the community. And in their own eyes they were virtuous persons : they were serving the cult of the goddess. In their case, the Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect of their careers existed only for profane outsiders. They would proudly confess, when they were caught, to the number of lives they had taken. But in the case of Mr. Jasper, there is a respectable and cultivated Christian gentleman living in the same soul and body with a worshiper of the goddess Kali. The murder has been rehearsed in his opium dreams: he has evidently gone to the opium den for that purpose. He has kept himself under the influence of opium all the time he has been plotting the murder. But those who are to put him in prison will not be able to make him take opium. Helena, with her will stronger than his, will have to come to the rescue and hypnotize him.

And now what has all this to do with the Dickens we already know? Why should he have occupied the last years of his life in concocting this sinister detective story?

Let us return to his situation at this period. He is still living between Gadshill and the house of Ellen Lawless Ternan, who appears now in Edwin Drood with the even closer identification of the name of Helena Landless. The motif of the disagreeable scene between Bradley Headstone and Lizzie Hexam is repeated in the even more unpleasant, though theatrical and unconvincing, interview between Jasper and Rosa Budd Jasper presenting, like Headstone, a gruesome travesty of the respectable Victorian. The Ellen Ternan heroine is here frankly made an actress: Helena Landless is an impersonator so accomplished that she can successfully play a male character in real life; and she is even more formidable than Estella because she is to stand up to and unmask Jasper. Her strength is to be contrasted not only with the fatal duplicity of Jasper, but with the weakness of Drood and Neville. All of these three men are to perish, and Helena is to marry Mr. Tartar, the foursquare young ex-Navy man, bursting with good spirits, agility and a perhaps rather overdone good health.

Dickens had just finished his public appearances and had said his farewell to the platform. The great feature of his last series of readings had been the murder of Nancy by Sikes, a performance which he had previously tried on his friends and from which Forster and others had tried to dissuade him. He was warned by a woman's doctor of his acquaintance that 'if only one woman cries out when you murder the girl, there will be a contagion of hysteria all over the place.' But Dickens obviously derived from thus horrifying his hearers some sort of satisfaction. The scene was perhaps a symbolical representation of his behavior in banishing his wife. Certainly the murder df Nancy had taken on something of the nature of an obsessive hallucination. Dickens' imagination had always been subject to a tendency of this kind. It had been pointed out by Taine that the fantasies and monomanias of his lunatics only exaggerate characteristics which are apparent in Dickens' whole work the concentration on and reiteration of some isolated aspect or detail of a person or a place, as Mr. Dick in David Copperfield was haunted by King Charles' head. In one of the sketches of The Uncommercial Traveller, written during these later years, Dickens tells of being obsessed by the image of a drowned and bloated corpse that he had seen in the Paris morgue, which for days kept popping up among the people and things he encountered and sometimes compelled him to leave public places, though it eventually drove him back to the morgue. In the case of the woman in Italy whose delusions he attempted to dispel, one gets the impression that these bloody visions were almost as real to him as they were to her. And now, at the time of these readings, he jokes about his 'murderous instincts' and says that he goes about the street feeling as if he were 'wanted* by the police. He threw himself at any rate into the murder scene with a passion that became quite hysterical, as if reading it had become at this point in his life a real means of self-expression. At Clifton, he wrote Forster, 'we had a contagion of fainting; and yet the place was not hot. I should think we had from a dozen to twenty ladies taken out stiff and rigid, at various times!' At Leeds, whether to intensify the effect or to avert the possible objections of the audience, he hired a man to rise from the stalls and protest in the middle of the murder scene against daring to read such a thing before ladies with the result that the people hissed him and put him out. It was the opinion of Dickens' doctor that the excitement and strain of acting this episode were the immediate cause of Dickens' death. It took a long time for him to calm himself after he had performed it, and the doctor, who noted his pulse at the end of each selection, saw that it invariably ran higher after Nancy and Sikcs than after any of the other scenes. When Dolby, the manager of Dickens' tours, tried to persuade him to cut down on the murder, reserving it for the larger towns, Dickens had a paroxysm of rage: 'Bounding up from his chair, and throwing his knife and fork on his plate (which he smashed to atoms), he exclaimed: "Dolby! your infernal caution will be your ruin one of these days!"' Immediately afterwards, he began to weep and told Dolby that he knew he was right. The doctors eventually compelled him to interrupt his tour and take a rest.

His son, Sir Henry Dickens, who speaks in his memoir of his father of the latter's ' heavy moods of deep depression, of intense nervous irritability, when he was silent and oppressed,' tells of an incident that occurred at a Christmas party the winter before Dickens died: 'He had been ailing very much and greatly troubled with his leg, which had been giving him much pain; so he was lying on a sofa one evening aftfcr dinner, while the rest of the family were playing games.' Dickens participated in one of these games, in which you had to remember long strings of words, contributed by the players in rotation. When it came around to Dickens, he gave a name which meant nothing to anybody: 'Warren's Blacking, 30, Strand' He did this, says his son, who knew nothing at that time of this episode in his father's childhood, 'with an odd twinkle and strange inflection in his voice which at once forcibly arrested my attention and left a vivid impression on my mind for some time afterwards. Why, I could not, for the life of me, understand At that time, when the stroke that killed him was gradually overpowering him, his mind reverted to the struggles and degradation of his childhood, which had caused him such intense agony of mind, and which he had never been able entirely to cast from him.'

Two weeks before his death, he went to a dinner arranged by Lord and Lady Houghton in order that the Prince of Wales and the King of Belgium might meet him. Lady Houghton was a granddaughter of that Lord Crewe in whose house Dickens' grandfather had been butler. She well remembered going as a child to the housekeeper's room to hear his grandmother tell wonderful stories. Dickens' neuritic foot was giving him such trouble at this time that up till almost an hour before dinner he could not be sure of going. He did finally decide to go; but when he got to the Houghton house, he found that he could not mount the stairs, and the Prince and the Belgian king had to come down to meet him.

But now the Dickens who has been cut off from society has discarded the theme of the rebel and is carrying the theme of the criminal, which has haunted him all his life, to its logical development in his fiction. He is to explore the deep entanglement and conflict of the bad and the good in one man. The subject of Edwin Drood is the subject of Poe's William Wilson, the subject of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the subject of Dorian Gray. It is also the subject of that greater work than any of these, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky, who owed so much to Dickens and who was probably influenced by the murder in Chuytfewit, had produced in 1866 a masterpiece on the theme at which Dickens is only just arriving in 1869. Rask61nikov rask6lnik means dissenter combines in his single person the two antisocial types of the deliberate criminal and the rebel, which since Hugh in Barnaby Rudge have always been kept distinct by Dickens. Dostoevsky, with the courage of his insight, has studied the states of mind which are the results of a secession from society: the contemptuous will to spurn and to crush confused with the impulse toward human brotherhood, the desire to be loved twisted tragically with the desire to destroy and to kill. But the English Dickens with his middle-class audience would not be able to tell such a story even if he dared to imagine it. In order to stage the "war in the members" he must contrive a whole machinery of mystification: of drugs, of telepathic powers, of remote oriental cults.

How far he has come and to how strange a goal we recognize when we note that he has returned to that Rochester he had so loved in his boyhood the Rochester where he had made Mr. Pickwick put up at the Bull Inn and picnic on good wine and cold fowl out of the hampers of the Wardles' barouche. Gadshill was next door to Rochester, and the Cloisterham of the novel is Rochester; but what Dickens finds in Rochester today is the nightmare of John Jasper. There is plenty of brightness in Edwin Drood and something of the good things of life: Mrs. Crisparkle's spices, jams and jellies, Mr. Tartar's shipshape rooms; but this brightness has a quality new and queer. The vivid colors of Edwin Drood make an impression more disturbing than the dustiness, the weariness, the dreariness, which set the tone for Our Mutual Friend. In this new novel, which is to be his last, Dickens has found a new intensity. The descriptions of Cloisterham are among the best written in all his fiction: they have a nervous (in the old sense) concentration and economy rather different from anything one remembers in the work of his previous phases. We are far from the lavish improvisation of the poetical early Dickens: here every descriptive phrase is loaded with implication. It is as if his art, which in Our Mutual Friend had seemed to him so sorely fatigued, had rested and found a revival. Dickens has dropped away here all the burden of analyzing society British imperialism in the East is evidently to play some part in the story, but it is impossible to tell whether or not this is to have any moral implications (though a writer in The Nassau Literary Magazine of May, 1881, who complains of the little interest that has been shown in Edwin Drood, suggests that the opium traffic may be the social issue here). Dickens, so far as we can see, is exclusively concerned with a psychological problem. The dualism of high and low, rich and poor, has here completely given place to the dualism of good and evil. The remarkable opening pages in which the Victorian choirmaster, with his side whiskers and tall hat, mixes in his opium-vision the picture of the English cathedral with memories of the East and comes to in the squalid den to stagger out, short of breath, to his services, is perhaps the most complex piece of writing from the psychological point of view to be found in the whole of Dickens. But the characters that are healthy, bright and good Rosa Budd, with her silly name, for example seem almost as two-dimensional as colored paper dolls. We have got back to the fairy tale again. But this fairy tale contains no Pickwick: its realest figure is Mr. Jasper; and its most powerful artistic effect is procured by an instillation into the greenery, the cathedral, the winter sun, the sober and tranquil old town, of the suggestion of moral uncertainty, of evil. Even the English rooks, which in The Old Curiosity Shop had figured simply as a familiar feature of the pleasant old English countryside in which Nell and her grandfather wandered, are here the omens of an invisible terror that comes from outside that English world. The Christmas season itself, of which Dickens has been the laureate, which he has celebrated so often with warm charity, candid hopes and hearty cheer, is now the appointed moment for the murder by an uncle of his nephew.

Mr. Jasper is, like Dickens, an artist: he is a musician, he has a beautiful voice. He smokes opium, and so, like Dickens, leads a life of the imagination apart from the life of men. Like Dickens, he is a skilful magician, whose power over his fellows may be dangerous. Like Dickens, he is an alien from another world; yet, like Dickens, he has made himself respected in the conventional English community. Is he a villain? From the point of view of the cathedral congregation of Cloisterham, who have admired his ability as an artist, he will have been playing a diabolic role. All that sentiment, all those edifying high spirits, which Dickens has been dispensing so long, which he is still making the effort to dispense has all this now grown as false as those hymns to the glory of the Christian God which are performed by the worshiper of Kali? And yet in another land there is another point of view from which Jasper is a good and faithful servant. It is at the command of his imaginative alter ego and acting in the name of his goddess that Jasper has committed his crime.

None the less, he is a damned soul here and now. All this bright and pious foreground of England is to open or fade away, and to show a man condemned to death. But it will not be the innocent Pickwick, the innocent Micawber, the innocent Dorrit, whom we are now to meet in jail: nor yet the wicked Fagin, the wicked Dennis, the wicked elder Rudge. It will be a man who is both innocent and wicked. The protest against the age has turned into a protest against self. In this last moment, the old hierarchy of England does enjoy a sort of triumph over the weary and debilitated Dickens, because it has made him accept its ruling that he is a creature irretrievably tainted; and the mercantile middle-class England has had its triumph, too. For the Victorian hypocrite has developed from Pecksniff, through Murdstonc, through Headstone to his final transformation in Jasper into an insoluble moral problem which is identified with Dickens' own. As Headstone makes his own knuckles bleed in striking them against the church and drowns himself in order to drown Riderhood, so Jasper is eventually to destroy himself. When he announces in the language of the Thugs that he 'devotes' himself to the 'destruction' of the murderer, he is preparing his own execution. (He is evidently quite sincere in making this entry in his diary, because he has now sobered up from the opium and resumed his ecclesiastical personality. It is exclusively of this personality that the diary is a record.) So Dickens, in putting his nerves to the torture by enacting the murder of Nancy, has been invoking his own death.

In this last condemned cell of Dickens, one of the halves of the divided John Jasper was to have confronted the other half. But this confrontation 4 difficult to work,' as Dickens told Forster was never, as it turned out, to take place. Dickens in his moral confusion was never to dramatize himself completely, was never in this last phase of his art to succeed in coming quite clear. He was to leave Edwin Drood half-finished, with Jasper's confession just around the corner just about to come to life in those final instalments which he was never to live to write.

He had put in a long day on Drood when (June 9, 1870) he had a stroke while he was eating dinner. He got up from the table in his stunned condition and said he must go to London; then he fell to the floor and never recovered consciousness. He died the next afternoon.