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HEN Dickens started on his last task--the task that was never to be completed--he most emphatically stated that he was going to write the "mystery" of Edwin Drood and not the history. John Forster, in his "Life of Charles Dickens," explains that Dickens's fancy for the tale was expressed in a letter written in the middle of July, 1869. "What should you think of the idea of a story beginning this way: Two people, boy and girl, or very young, going apart from one another, pledged to be married after many years--at the end of the book. The interest to arise out of the tracing of their separate ways, and the impossibility of telling what will be done with that impending fate." This first thought was abandoned; but it left a strong influence on the tale as it was begun afterwards. "Edwin Drood" was originally to be published in twelve monthly parts with illustrations. Unfortunately it closed with number six only partly written. The story to me, in the opening chapters, is not quite like the Dickens of say "David Copperfield." The old manner of using odd and out-of-the-way names was still followed, but the style of narrative is distinctly different--though the power and charm remain. Longfellow wrote, when the news of the death of the great novelist was flashed all over the world, "I hope his book is finished. It is certainly one of the most beautiful works, if not the most beautiful of all. It would be too sad to think the pen had fallen from his hand and left it incomplete."

  But alas! it was left incomplete, and though many writers have tried to elucidate the mystery. nobody has done so, or ever will satisfactorily, for the simple reason that only Dickens himself knew how he intended to carry it through. A book was published a few years ago called "Clues to Dickens's 'Mystery of Edwin Drood,'" by Mr. J. Cuming Walters, but it was all conjecture, of course.

  Mr. Andrew Lang and Mr. William Archer among other clever writers took the matter up and gave their opinions on the subject in the newspapers, the former replying to Mr. Cuming Walters in a small book entitled "The Puzzle of Dickens's Lost Plot." Mr. Comyns Carr definitely planned, as far as he himself is concerned, a more or less decisive conclusion in his dramatic version--not the first naturally that has been presented. This Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree first produced at Cardiff, November 21st, 1907, and later at His Majesty's Theatre, January 4th, 1908.

  Before giving John Forster's version of what Dickens really had in his mind in regard to the development of the "mystery," I may state that there were many "endings" supplied by American and other writers at the time of the novelist's death. Here is a list of works that were issued in the States from 1870 until 1878, "The Cloven Foot; being an adaptation of the English novel, 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood,' to American scenes, characters, customs, and nomenclature," by Orpheus C. Kerr: New York, 1870.

  "The Mystery of Mr. E. Drood," by Orpheus C. Kerr. The Piccadilly Annual, December, 1870. This was evidently brought out in book form later, for we find a work with the same title, called "An Adaptation." "O.C. Kerr" was generally considered to be a humorist--he certainly perpetrated several small works of a quaint, half-philosophical nature--though we do not appreciate the idea of burlesquing a dead writer's unfinished tragedy.

  "John Jasper's Secret; A sequel to Charles Dickens's unfinished novel, 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood.'" This was issued in 1871, from a Philadelphia firm. Next we have "The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Part the Second, by the Spirit Pen of Charles Dickens, etc." Brattleboro, 1873. If the author of this last perpetration knew how Dickens laughed Spiritualism, particularly the American brand, to scorn in the pages of Household Words, he would have saved himself the trouble he must have taken over this concoction. Finally we have, "A Great Mystery Solved; being a sequel to "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," by Gillan Vase. Three volumes. London, 1878, which is perhaps the best of the series. All these were, of course, unauthorised, it having been distinctly stated by Messrs. Chapman and Hall, in a letter to the Times in the summer of 1870, which I quote, that the book would remain unfinished.

   "Sir,--" We find that erroneous reports are in circulation respecting 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood,' the novel on which Mr. Dickens was at work when he died. It has been suggested that the tale is to be finished by other hands. We hope you will allow us to state in your columns that Mr. Dickens has left three numbers complete, in addition to those already published, this being one-half of the story as it was intended to be written. These numbers will be published, and the fragment will so remain. No other writer could be permitted by us to complete the work which Mr. Dickens has left."


  Although Wilkie Collins was very angry with John Forster for the way in which he prepared and wrote his "Life of Charles Dickens," yet we must remember that the two men were inseparable friends, and the Master almost invariably consulted Forster in his labours and frequently divulged his plots as he saw them in their chrysalis state and as they grew.

  Forster says, speaking of the last novel, "I first heard of the later design (of the story) in a letter dated 'Friday, the 6th August 1869,' in which, speaking with the usual unstinted praise he bestowed always on what moved him in others, of a little tale he had received for his journal, he spoke of the change that had occurred to him for the new tale by himself. '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.'

  "The story," adds Forster, "I learnt immediately afterward was to be that of the murder of a nephew by his uncle, the originality of which was to consist in the review of the murderer's career by himself at the close, when its temptations were to be dwelt upon as if, not 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. Discovery of the murderer, of the utter uselessness of the murder for its object, was to follow hard upon the commission of the deed; but all discovery of the murder was to be baffled till towards the close, when by means of a gold ring, which had resisted the corrosive effects of lime into which he had thrown the body, not only the person murdered was to be identified, but the locality of the crime, and the man who committed it."

  It will be recollected that the ring taken by Edwin Drood to be given to his betrothed only if their engagement went on, was brought away by him at their last interview. Rosa was to marry Tartar, and Crisparkle the sister of Landless, who was himself, it is conjectured, to have perished in assisting Tartar to finally unmask and seize the culprit.

  It is curious to note that in drawing up the agreement for publication of the novel, Mr. Ouvry, his solicitor, had, by Dickens's wish, inserted a clause, thought to be needless, but found to be sadly prophetic and pertinent. It was the first time such a clause had been added to any one of his agreements:--

  "That if the said Charles Dickens shall die during the composition of the said work of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, or shall otherwise become incapable of completing the said work for publication in twelve monthly parts as agreed, it shall be referred to John Forster, Esqre., one of Her Majesty's Commissioners in Lunacy, or, in the case of his death, incapacity, or refusal to act, then to such person as shall be named by Her Majesty's Attorney-General for the time being to determine the amount which shall be repaid by the said Charles Dickens, his executors or administrators for so much of the said work as shall not have been completed for publication.

  Had some sort of premonition occurred to Dickens that the end was near?

  The last page of "Edwin Drood" was written in the Swiss Châlet presented to Dickens by his friend Charles Fechter, the great Anglo-French actor, in the afternoon of his last day of consciousness. He was late in leaving his favourite workshop, as he called the Châlet; and was then very depressed, tired, and preoccupied. "It was not," say his sister-in-law and his eldest daughter in their volume, 'The Letters of Charles Dickens,' "until they were seated at the dinner-table that a striking change in the colour and expression of his face startled his sister-in-law (Miss Hogarth), and on her asking him if he was ill, he said, 'Yes, very ill; I have been very ill for the last hour.'" He would not have a doctor. " No, he would go on with his dinner, and go afterwards to London."

  It was so evident now that he was very seriously ill that Miss Hogarth begged him to lie down.

  "Yes, on the ground," he said, very distinctly--these were the last words he spoke, and he slid from his sister-in-law's arm and fell upon the floor.

  Charles Dickens remained unconscious all through the night of June 8th, 1870, and until ten minutes past six of the next day, when the watchers saw a shudder pass over him, heard him give a deep sigh, saw one tear roll down his cheek, and his soul went forth into eternity.

  A correspondent of T. P.'s Weekly wrote, in August, 1907:

  "Seeing that anything connected with Dickens is of interest just now, perhaps your readers might like to know of an interesting rencontre that I had two years ago with one George Belcher, who was Dickens's coachman at the time of the great novelist's death. He it was who picked up 'the Master' when the fatal seizure took place, and, with the assistance of Runt, the gardener, carried him upstairs, and put the horse in to drive to Strood for the doctor. I was returning from the Liege Exposition at the time, and a crowded boat and a night passage were not conducive to making the most of this opportunity, but one incident my fellow-passenger related I recall. The family were returning to town, and it was a question of selling one of the horses. Belcher had received an offer for the animal, and although he knew the Master did not like being disturbed at his work, thought it sufficiently important to approach him in his study. 'After vainly trying to attract his attention,' says Belcher,' I commenced, "I beg your pardon, sir." "Well, what is it?" says the Master. "Oh, it's about the horse, sir," "Damn the horse," says he, and you may be sure I made myself scarce, as I knew I ought not to have disturbed him at his work. Next morning, when I apologised for disturbing him, he said, "Oh, that's all right, Belcher. Now, what about the horse?" and so the matter was arranged.' My friend is, I believe, still living in the back part of Belgium, where he was intending settling down to spend his remaining years, and I can supply his address to any one connected with the Dickensonian Society if they think it worth while to follow up this 'find.'"

  Before going into particulars concerning Mr. Comyns Carr's version of "Edwin Drood," it will be well to consider some earlier attempts at the dramatisation of the incomplete story. I have before me as I write a printed copy of a play by Walter Stephens entitled, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," published by Messrs. Chapman and Hall, Piccadilly. No cast of the characters is given, but I find that the play was produced at the Surrey Theatre, November 4th, 1871. The Referee of January 26th, 1908, speaking of this drama, says, " It was a wild and whirling piece of work, chiefly remarkable for the fact that Henry Neville played John Jasper, and, if I remember rightly, Bob Brierly on the same evening. Jasper having murdered Edwin, was thenceforth shadowed by Landless disguised as Datchery. After many alarums and excursions he finally swallowed cold poison and perished miserably at the feet of all concerned." The theatre at the time was licensed to Mr. E.F. Edgar. This is in truth a very powerful four-act drama, and follows out Dickens's suggested intentions, as foreshadowed above, very closely.

  As already stated " The Mystery of Edwin Drood," was produced at the Surrey Theatre, November 4th, 1871, with the following cast:--



EDWIN DROOD ..   ..   .. Mr. George Warde.
JOHN JASPER ..   ..   .. Mr. Henry Neville.
NEVILLE LANDLESS ..   .. Mr. E. F. Edgar.
  PARKLE    ..   ..   .. Mr. E. Butler.
DURDLES     ..   ..   .. Mr. John Murray.
GREWGIOUS   ..   ..   .. Mr. George Yarnold.
BAZZARD     ..   ..   .. Mr. W. Goodwin.
DATCHERY    ..   ..   .. Mr. F. Paul.
DEPUTY ..   ..   ..   .. Miss Julia Daly.
ROSA BUDD   ..   ..   .. Miss Maria Jones.
HELEN LANDLESS   ..   .. Miss M. Hayes.
MRS. CRISPARKLE  ..   .. Mrs. Edgar.
MRS. TOPE   ..   ..   .. Mrs. Watson.

   On May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1876, The Wandering Thespians gave Mr. Walter Stephens' play at the Mirror Theatre, Holborn. I mention this because I observe that Mr. Charles G. Allan was the Hiram Grewgious, and I fancy it is the same Mr. Allan who has long been favourably known on the boards of our West End theatres, especially at the Hay- market, and with Sir Herbert Tree.

  Another "Mystery of Edwin Drood," was by G.H. Macdermott, chiefly known to fame as the singer of the great war song, "We don't want to fight, but by Jingo if we do." It was presented at the Britannia Theatre on July 22nd, 1872. Of this the Referee also has a word to say:

  "The other Drood drama I remember was concocted by the late G.H. Macdermott, then a struggling young East-End actor-of-all-work, filling up his time as a playwright, and was played at the Britannia. The Mystery, according to Macdermott panned out in this wise. Jasper, having, as he supposed, for ever 'removed' Drood from his path, Landless was presently accused of the murder. Here ended Act I. In Act II. Grewgious's clerk Bazzard disguised himself as a detective by the name of Datchery, and with the assistance of Durdles anon fastened the crime on Jasper, who revealed his guilty secret in a trance. The play ended by Drood turning up alive, which so astonished Jasper that he fell dead at his nephew's feet. Jasper was finely played by the 'Brit.'s' popular tragedian, Joseph Reynolds; the still-surviving G.B. Bigwood enacted Durdles; and Macdermott contented himself with the part of Bazzard, alias Datchery--a fine 'fat' creation, in which the adapter had taken particularly good care of himself and of which, indeed, he was always very proud."


Britannia Theatre, July 22nd, 1872.

DATCHERY    ..   ..   .. Mr. G.H. Macdermott.
EDWIN DROOD ..   ..   .. Mr. Chas. Reeve.
JOHN JASPER ..   ..   .. Mr. J. Reynolds.
LANDLESS    ..   ..   .. Mr. E. Newbound.
DURDLES     ..   ..   .. Mr. G.B. Bigwood.
DEPUTY ..   ..   ..   .. Miss Julia Summers.
GREWGIOUS   ..   ..   .. Mr. John Parry.
CRISPARKLE  ..   ..   .. Mr. W.H. Pitt.
ROSA BUDD   ..   ..   .. Miss L. Macdonald.
HELEN LANDLESS   ..   .. Miss M.A. Bellair.
OPIUM SAL   ..   ..   .. Miss Jane Coveney.
MRS. CRISPARKLE  ..   .. Miss L. Rayner.

  Another drama was consummated, called "Alive or Dead," at the Park Theatre, Camden Town, by Robert Hall, May 3rd, 1880.


EDWIN DROOD ..   ..   .. Mr. W. Howell.
GREWGIOUS   ..   ..   .. Mr. F.C. Kirk.
JOHN JASPER ..   ..   .. Mr. George Syme.
DURDLEs     ..   ..   .. Mr. C. Cruikshanks.
CRISPARKLE  ..   ..   .. Mr. W. Vincent.
LANDLESS    ..   ..   .. Mr. J.C. Emmerson.
DEPUTY ..   ..   ..   .. Mr. H. Selby.
JUSTICE SETTLEM  ..   .. Mr. Keefe.
ROSA BUDD   ..   ..   .. Miss Stella Brereton.
HELEN LANDLESS   ..   .. Miss Alice Raynor.
OPIUM SAL   ..   ..   .. Miss Bella Cuthbert.

  I repeat a statement I have seen in print more than once, which is to the effect that "Edwin Drood" was dramatised by the late Charles Dickens junior (eldest son of the great novelist), and the late Joseph Hatton. The story was concluded on the authority of Charles Dickens himself, who before his death discussed the relation of the mystery with his son. The forecast of the conclusion, more or less communicated to Mr. Luke Fildes, R.A., for the purpose of illustration, agreed with the dénouement of the piece. The manuscript of this play still exists in the family, and it was at one time hoped that the late Charles Warner would have taken the character of Jasper. The piece was paragraphed as the next production at the Princess's Theatre as far back as March, 1880, in the Theatre Magazine, but somehow arrangements all fell through. The play was advertised as by Charles Dickens and Joseph Hatton.

  When the "Mystery of Edwin Drood" was announced for performance at His Majesty's Theatre, a regular controversy arose over the points which the torso of the novel leaves uncertain. There was quite a small literature on the subject, and in addition to the publications I have mentioned there were "Did Jasper kill Drood?" and "Who was Datchery?" but perhaps the most important were Mr. Cuming Walter's "Clues to the Mystery of Edwin Drood," which caused a great sensation at the time, and Mr. Andrew Lang's reply to it, called, "The Puzzle of Dickens's Last Plot," also "Keys to the Drood Mystery," by Mr. Edwin Charles. Of course each writer solves the "mystery" according to his own taste, belief, and inclination. All these books were published before Sir Herbert's production, and doubtless suggested the play.

  In the Daily Chronicle, during December, 1907, there was much discussion on the subject, and one of the writers on the paper thus expressed himself in regard to the "Mystery of Edwin Drood." "So far as the absolutely certain points are concerned, one may recall that John Jasper, choir-master of Cloisterham Cathedral, and addicted to opium smoking, did obviously in Dickens's narrative intend to murder his own nephew, Edwin Drood. It was practically stated that this intention was the result of Jasper's fierce and hopeless passion for sweet young Rosa Budd, to whom Edwin was betrothed.

  In the same way no one has doubted that Jasper is supposed to have prepared for the murder by a certain strange tour of the cathedral vaults by night with old Durdles, the stonemason, from whom he learned all about the action of quicklime, which would 'destroy everything but metal.' It is evident also that on a fateful Christmas Eve Jasper fomented a quarrel between Edwin and Neville Landless--an excellent young fellow--so that if the murder came off suspicion should rest on Neville.

  "On that very night, it will be remembered, in the midst of a wild storm, Edwin Drood vanished, after leaving Jasper's rooms in company with Neville. Jasper, stranger in manner than ever, and sinking deeper and deeper in his opium habits, does all he can to incriminate Neville. Then Edwin Drood's watch and chain are found in the river. Helena Landless, Neville's 'gypsy-like' sister, believes defiantly in her brother's innocence. Neville is arrested, tried, acquitted, and reads law in London.

  "There now arrived at Cloisterham a quaint old person called Datchery, apparently some one in disguise, who announces himself as a 'single buffer living on his means,' and shows a curious interest in Jasper. At this tantalising point the story abruptly finishes, cut short by Dickens's own death.

  "Such is a rough outline of the main points of evidence. Did Jasper murder Edwin Drood? As showing the baffling conflict of possibilities, it may be noted that volume upon volume has already been issued putting forward more or less feasible theories."

  That the unsolved "Mystery of Edwin Drood" I should have created such a stir on the death of Dickens was only natural, seeing that the well-beloved novelist had become a personal part of the readers of the reading world. Ever since the issue of the last fragment written by the novelist on the day of his fatal seizure, speculation has been rife as to the probable trend the story was to have taken in Dickens's mind. Says an authority on the matter, "Shortly after the death of Dickens rumour had it that Wilkie Collins had been asked to complete the book, and that he had promised to do so. So persistent did this rumour become that Messrs. Chapman and Hall, the publishers of the story, found it necessary to state publicly in the Times that the statement was without foundation." This letter I have already given in extenso. Later, Wilkie Collins issued a manifesto to the same effect. Wilkie Collins never attempted to finish the story, yet notwithstanding his avowed determination, an edition of the sequel, entitled, "John Jasper's Secret," is still current in America, bearing on the title-page the names of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens the younger, and on the back of the volume an embossed portrait of the author of "A Woman in White." As a matter of fact, "John Jasper's Secret, a Sequel to Charles Dickens's unfinished novel 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood,'" to give its full title, was written by a New York journalist, Henry Morford, with the assistance of his wife, both of whom visited England for the purpose. There were eighteen illustrations to this precious fraud, and the work duly appeared in book form in Philadelphia, and in London, but with no statement as to authorship. Subsequent editions appeared, bearing the names of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens the younger, as already stated. That this is a shameful falsehood, Wilkie Collins's letter in 1878, in which he said, "I was asked to finish the story, and positively refused," sufficiently emphasises.

  Apart from the deliberate continuations there have been several attempts by inference. Prominent among these must figure that by the late R.A. Proctor, the astronomer: "Watched by the Dead: A Loving Study of Dickens's Half-told Tale," the purport of which is sufficiently indicated in the title.

  How all these solutions and completions differ from each other may be gathered from the following summary in the Chronicle:--

  "By the authors of 'John Jasper's Secret'-- that Jasper threw Edwin down from the cathedral tower, that Edwin was found alive at the bottom by Durdles, and that Helena Landless, disguised as a boy went to the opium-den in London frequented by Jasper, and overheard his confession.

  "By R.A. Proctor--that Jasper partially strangled Edwin, and put him with quick-lime into a vault, and that Edwin was rescued afterwards by Durdles.

  "By J.C. Walters--that Jasper did murder Edwin, and that his guilt was exposed by Helena Landless, disguised as Datchery.

  "By Andrew Lang--that Jasper attempted the murder, but 'bungled it,' and that Edwin escaped, returning disguised as Datchery. [This, as I have already intimated, was a rejoinder to Mr. Walter's work.]

  "It is in the face of all these efforts on the part of close and keen students of Dickens that one may recognise the extreme cleverness of Mr. Comyns Carr's solution in the play at His Majesty's Theatre. It is, of course, that Jasper did not even attempt the murder, but went through the whole intended business in an opium trance, and afterwards thought he had actually done it. Edwin Drood having overheard his ravings and escaped.

  "This, in any case, as Mr. Carr in all modesty claimed, is the only theory yet advanced that answers every requirement of the murder part of the story. Thus it is on record that Dickens himself described the design of the story as 'new and incommunicable,' and that he commissioned Mr. (now Sir) Luke Fildes, who illustrated the book, to sketch the condemned cell at Maidstone, where it was understood Jasper was to confess the crime." As may be seen, Mr. Carr's notion allows both for a new and interesting psychological study, and for Jasper's self-condemnation. Appended is the full cast of Mr. J. Comyns Carr's new play, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," founded on Charles Dickens's unfinished novel of that name, at His Majesty's Theatre, Saturday, January 4th, 1908.



JOHN JASPER (Lay Precentor of
        the Cathedral) ..  ..  Mr. Tree.
EDWIN DROOD (his nephew and
        ward)  ..  ..  ..  ..  Mr. Basil Gill.
MR. GREWGIOUS (Rosa Budd's
        guardian)  ..  ..  ..  Mr. William Haviland.
        of the Cathedral)  ..  Mr. Claude Flemming.
NEVILLE LANDLESS (his pupil)   Mr. Charles Quartermain.
THE DEAN OF CLOISTERHAM    ..  Mr. Robert H. Atkins.
DURDLES    ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  Mr. G.W. Arlson.
THE DEPUTY ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  Mr. Frank Stanmore.
A LASCAR   ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  Mr. Henry Morrell.
CONGO JACK     ..  ..  ..  ..  Mr. Thomas Weguelin.
A SAILOR   ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  Mr. A. Corney Grain.
Grewgious' ward) Miss Adrienne Augarde.
HELENA LANDLESS    ..  ..  ..  Miss Constance Collier.
MRS. CRISPARKLE (Mother of the
        Minor Canon)   ..  ..  Miss Cicely Richards.
        Mistress)  ..  ..  ..  Miss Muriel Alexander.
        of an Opium Den)   ..  Miss Lydia Rachel.
MRS. TOPE  ..  ..  ..  ..  ..  Miss Augusta Haviland.

  ACT I.--Tableau 1. An opium den in the East End of London. Tableau 2. The Cloisters of Cloisterham Cathedral. Tableau 3. A room at Mr. Jasper's.

  ACT II.--Tableau 1. Outside the Cathedral. Tableau 2 A room at Mr. Jasper's (six months elapse).

  ACT III.--Tableau 1. A room at Mr. Crisparkle's. Tableau 2. The crypt of Cloisterham Cathedral. Tableau 3. A room at Mr. Crisparkle's.

  ACT IV.--A room in the infirmary of the county gaol.

  Unfortunately the piece failed to attract the public, although it was a magnificent production, and magnificently acted. Indeed, I do not think Sir Herbert Tree ever acted better in his life. It was the weirdest of weird performances and positively thrilling in its intensity and dramatic power. The story, too, as set forth was distinctly and decidedly interesting, and the experiment was well worth the labour and the art spent upon it.

  As a matter of record I give the plot from the circular handed to each Press representative on the memorable night of the fascinating performance.


  "Mr. Carr's play opens, as Charles Dickens's novel, with a scene in the East End opium den. John Jasper is discovered in the company of opium-sodden lascars and others. With familiarity to his environment he takes a pipe from the opium hag, Princess Puffer. He dreams and talks in his dreams. His dreams tell secrets. He talks of 'Ned' and 'Cloisterham' and 'Rosa.' The hag listens intently and stores in her memory the words which so frequently recur in his dream wanderings. The uneasy dreams merge into sparkling opium visions of sultans and their palaces, of dancing girls and flashing scimitars, and then slowly he comes back to the wakeful world again. The hag tells him that he has talked in his sleep of his visions, but says no word of his first uneasy mutterings. He leaves her, and the curtain falls on the hag muttering to herself the words 'Ned, Cloisterham, Rosa.'

  "The second scene takes places before the Cathedral at Cloisterham. The service is just over, and the congregation is scattering. Edwin Drood is seen with Rosa Bud, his fiancée, Neville and Helena Landless, Minor Canon Crisparkle, the Dean and others. We learn of the engagement of Edwin and Rosa Bud, and that they are chafing under the fact that the engagement had been imposed on them 'by will and bequest' and their coming separation is foreshadowed. We learn also of the sombre passion of Jasper for Rosa, of her shuddering disgust at his presence, and that his mind is obsessed by the intention of Drood's murder. From Durdles' garrulous chatter we see him learning the means by which he shall do his work and hide it.

  "The intense interest in the drama begins in the second act. Jasper, Drood and Neville Landless sup together on that wild eventful Christmas Eve. All seem good-will and good-fellowship between them. Then Jasper, slipping aside, pours some powerful powdered drug into his brew of mulled port and ladles it out with eager nervous haste into the others' glasses. A quarrel follows between Drood and Landless--the quarrel over Rosa's picture--and presently the two, reconciled in their half-drugged state, go out to watch the storm upon the river, Landless is seen no more upon that night, but Jasper, brooding over the foul deed he means to do, is startled by Drood's return alone. While the lad sits in a drowsy sleep he steels his nerves to strangle him. He loops his woollen scarf all ready, but resolution fails him. Drood awakes and goes to his bed. Jasper returns to the fire to brood again on his intended crime. The opium hag steals in. She had traced him from London. Jasper again takes the drug and in a delirious dream again, as so often before, enacts by himself an imagined murder of Drood. His cries awake the sleeping lad, who stealing down, to his inexpressible horror, sees and hears enough. He feels they must never meet again. He stealthily goes out. Jasper awakes at dawn with all the horror of the dream upon him, he finds the watch and chain--the metal that lime could not destroy--in the place where, having stolen them from Drood's sleeping body, he has put them till the morning. Uncertain yet whether he dreams or not, he hastens to the bedroom, finds that Drood is not there, and then, convinced of his crime, rushes down, pale and nerve-shattered, to meet Mr. Crisparkle, and tries to throw suspicion on the luckless Landless.

  "Suspicion upon Landless grows, and it is only Mr. Grewgious who scents the true trail. He tells Jasper of the ring which Drood returned to him on the night of his supposed murder, and he frightens Jasper into believing that this ring must be amongst the dust in the vault where Drood's body in his dream was cast into lime. Surprising Jasper coming out of the vault he holds up the ring, and Jasper taking it for the last evidence of his guilt, falls in a faint. In the next scene he confesses the murder, and finally is found, a dying man, in the Infirmary of the County gaol, where again, in delirium, he is dreaming and shuddering at his crime. Mr. Crisparkle is comforting his last moments, when, as an apparition to him, comes Drood in the flesh. Jasper, with enough return to consciousness to see Drood and Rosa brought to each other again before him, dies, and the curtain falls with these two in forgiveness mourning him."

  In conclusion I may state that, almost without exception, the London press hailed the play, if not as a masterpiece, at any rate as a wonderful achievement, and a great success for all concerned. And yet it only ran a little over one month.