The stakes were won by Wildeve

"The stakes were won by Wildeve" by Arthur Hopkins. Plate 7 (July) Vol. 34, Frontispiece, to face page 493 6.375 inches wide by 4.3125 inches high; from the author's "Arthur Hopkins's Illustrations for the Monthly Serialisation of Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native." Image scan, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]

Text illustrated

Christian put down a shilling, Wildeve another, and each threw. Christian won. They played for two. Christian won again.

'Let us try four,' said Wildeve. They played for four. This time the stakes were won by Wildeve.

'Ah, those little accidents will, of course, sometimes happen to the luckiest man,' he observed.

'And now I have no more money!' exclaimed Christian excitedly. 'And yet, if I could go on, I should get it back again, and more. I wish this was mine.' He struck his boot upon the ground, so that the guineas chinked within.

'What! you have not put Mrs. Wildeve's money there?'

As Seymour-Smith notes in his recent biography of Hardy (1994),

The gambling scene by the light of glow-worms--so impeccably possible, so wildly improbable--is justly celebrated: although too isolated within its context, it remains one of the most stupendous, and best loved, scenes in English fiction. (236)

In the July plate, Hopkins captures well the sense of the numinous that permeates the dice game between the devilish Wildeve and his dupe, Christian Cantle, the former identifiable by his middle-class tweeds and the latter by his rustic's linen smock-frock. A somewhat fanciful touch Hopkins has added out of his own imagination is Christian's tam o' shanter, perhaps to contrast Wildeve's soft cap. Despite his importance to the novel's plot, this is the only occasion in which Wildeve appears in the pictorial programme, perhaps because Hopkins found him rather uninteresting and undeveloped. As Seymour-Smith remarks, "he is simply another rather unsatisfactory version of the Hardyan 'villain', one of the line which begins in Manston of Desperate Remedies , continues (more robustly) in Troy, and culminates in Alec D'Urberville" (235).


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Last modified 5 December 2000