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Regarded as a story turning on the murder of a light-hearted lad by a jealous villain of diseased mind, the “Mystery of Edwin Drood” has scarcely any interest in its main plot; while the accessory details have little meaning. But so soon as we recognise in the novel the working out of Dickens's favourite theme, and in such a way that the finished story would have been his master-plot, every line is seen to be full of life and light. The gloom of Jasper and the contrasted brightness of Edwin interest us from the outset. The quaint humour of Drood, merging into pensive wistfulness when his earlier self is about to die," and the not less quaint and wistful ways of his later self in the Datchery assumption " (Dickens's own expression, be it noticed), these are recognised as master touches such as Dickens could not have given when his yet unpractised pencil produced the shadowy characters (with no outlines at all or “demd ” outlines, as his own Mantalini put it) of

“Nicholas Nickleby

and “Martin Chuzzlewit.” So, also, when we see the real nature of the Mystery, the well-drawn though grotesque characters of Grewgious, Sapsea, Bazzard, Honeythunder, the Billickin, and the Deputyto mention no others of that type-acquire an interest wholly wanting when the main plot is supposed to turn only on the detection of Jasper's crime. Such characters as Rosa Bud, Helena, and Neville Landless, Crisparkle, and Tartar, are indeed not wanting in interest apart from the main plot; but their charm is enhanced tenfold when we associate with them Edwin Drood after his supposed death, alive though changed, loving Rosa now (and to her knowledge) with a love as earnest as even Grewgious could wish to see, but without hope even as Grewgious had loved her mother. While lastly, Grewgious and Datchery, working as one though apart towards the punishment of the unconscious Jasper, over whose fate they hold obvious mas

tery, are characters interesting in themselves, but specially interesting in their contrast with the earlier Grewgious, not mistrusting—and with the bright Edwin, wholly trusting—the treacherous and murderous Jasper.

My main object in writing this little work has been that others may enjoy the pleasure which the reading and re-reading of Dickens's unfinished masterpiece have afforded me.


Sr. JOSEPH, Mo., Sept. 25, 1887.

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