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Wilkie Collins has given us in this novel one more instance of his strange capacity for weaving extra plots. Armadale, from beginning to end, is a lurid labyrinth of improbabilities. It produces upon the reader the effect of a literary nightmare. Miss Gwilt, Mrs. Oldershaw, and Doctor Le Doux of the Sanatorium are enough to make any story in which they figure disagreeably sensational; and Mr. Collins seizes every possible opportunity of working up the horror they inspire to the highest point. If it were the object of art to make one's audience uncomfortable without letting them know why, Mr. Wilkie Collins would be beyond all doubt a consummate artist. To the accomplishment of this object he devotes great ingenuity, a curious genius for arranging and contriving mysteries, and a good deal of what may be called galvanic power. There is a sort of unearthly and deadly look about the heroes and heroines of his narrative, and though it is necessary for the purpose of the plot that they should keep moving, we feel, that every, one of their motions is due, not to a natural process, but to the sheer force and energy of the author's will. They dodge each other up and down the stage after the manner of puppets at a puppet-show, and after watching their twistings and turnings from first to last we come away full of admiration of the strings and the unseen fingers that are directing everything from behind the curtain. An ordinary novelist would let the villains murder their intended victim at once, and have done with it. Not so Mr. Wilkie Collins. A hundred agencies are brought into play to suspend our interest through this long volume. Spies, detective officers, lawyers, and two or three virtuous and watchful amateurs counterplot day and night against the villains. Each dogs the other till he is tired, and when he is tired the other dogs him. They overhear each other's secrets from behind trees, or lurk unsuspected under windows, keeping diaries sometimes of their proceedings. To heighten the absorbing interest of this contest of intelligences, railways, telegraphy, post-offices, presentiments, and dreams are freely used ; and the wonders of science do duty side by side with the marvels of the supernatural world. As a whole the effect is clever, powerful, and striking, though grotesque, monotonous, and, to use a French word, bizarre. There can be no mistake about the talent displayed. What strikes one as wanting is that humor which is the salt of all great genius, and that sense of proportion and beauty which is the soul of all real art.