Wilkie Collins possesses the art of writing plays and stories so as to awaken and sustain the interest of the reader. He can create and work out a plot. It is true that the subject-matter of the plot is generally rather trivial, the characters commonplace, the whole tone and cast of the work conventional and insignificant. But the story, such as it is, has the merit of being neatly and pleasantly told. The author has set himself assiduously to inquire how the materials which he has been able to collect should be strung together, what proportion the several parts should bear to each other, and how the end of the story may be constantly anticipated by introductory hints without its precise character £ divulged. The result of this painstaking industry is that the reader is carried gently on, and is forced to take an interest in the web of circumstance which is spun for his benefit. Few writers give themselves so much trouble. If they have anything to say, they are ordinarily wrapped up in saying it, and trust to the guidance of their own genius to give it expression. If they have nothing to say, they are so happily constituted as not to perceive their own defects. It is, rare to find an author who, without originality, or great powers of any sort, has the gift of seeing how much arrangement and contrivance may do to enhance the value of the little he has to offer. This gift has been sufficient to ensure Mr. Collins a very considerable success, and his novels have been welcomed by the public, which always relishes the treat of small ingenuities, and likes any species of unambitious, intelligible entertainment. Besides, to have the art of narration implies the possession of many good literary qualities. It indicates that sort of good sense and good taste which rejects the superfluous, the incongruous, and the extravagant. It involves the power of putting a mass of detached minute facts into a decisive and appreciable shape. It makes us sure that the writer will keep clear of all that could annoy, weary, or offend us. The 'Dead Secret‘ is no secret to a numerous class of readers, nor will it long remain a mystery to those who set out in search of it for the ﬁrst time. Perhaps it is doubtful how far the intentions of a novelist should be impenetrable,—what light should glimmer at the end of his shadowy vistas,-—what clues should be afforded to the pilgrims of romance. Of course no one is tempted on by utter darkness, yet in a tale which appeals simply to one element in the imagination—curiosity; it is a proof of defective development if we at once anticipate the catastrophe. The secret is buried (not dead), but its cofin is of crystal.