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Uncaptioned headnote vignette for "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder." Chapter 11 — initial illustration for the sixth instalment in Harper's Weekly (8 February 1868), p. 85. Wood-engraving, 8.5 x 5.4 cm. [The sixth headnote vignette surrealistically presents the diamond as dwarfing the moon at Benares, suggesting the psychological hold that the Moonstone has upon whoever beholds it. Like the exoticism of the Far East, it looms large in the minds of India's colonial masters, who in taking the gem have shown themselves no better than the Moslem conquerors of the subcontinent in the previous epoch.]

Scanned image and text 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.]

Illustrations courtesy of the E. J. Pratt Fine Arts Library, University of Toronto, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.

Passage suggested by the Headnote Vignette for the Sixth Instalment

Then she remembered that the Diamond might take to shining of itself, with its awful moony light in the dark — and that would terrify her in the dead of night. Then she bethought herself of an Indian cabinet which stood in her sitting-room; and instantly made up her mind to put the Indian diamond in the Indian cabinet, for the purpose of permitting two beautiful native productions to admire each other. — "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder," "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder," Harper's Weekly, 8 February, 1868, Chapter 11, p. 85.

Passage recalled by the Headnote Vignette from the Fourth Instalment

Lord bless us! it was a Diamond! As large, or nearly, as a plover's egg! The light that streamed from it was like the light of the harvest moon. When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else. It seemed unfathomable; this jewel, that you could hold between your finger and thumb, seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves. We set it in the sun, and then shut the light out of the room, and it shone awfully out of the depths of its own brightness, with a moony gleam, in the dark. — "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder," Harper's Weekly, 25 January 1868, Chapter 9, p. 55.


The sequence of illustrations between Part 1 and Part 5 shows the diamond first in the forehead of the god, then in the pommel of a dagger wielded against an Indian by a white man (both figure 1), then in the breast of an Englishwoman’s dress (fig. 5), each time highlighted by white space but never as markedly as in the first illustration, this glow symbolically marking its right place in Indian religious and cultural life. Perhaps the most memorable visual image of the novel confirms this reading: the chapter head to Part 6 depicts a wholly extradiegetic scene, a huge diamond in a night landscape (fig. 7). Here, the stone is aligned with the religious order of the Moon God (represented by the symbol of the crescent moon) and with Indian culture (represented by the Taj Mahal-like dome in the right corner of the otherwise deserted landscape). This extradiegetic visual scene strongly naturalizes the rightness of the Indians' quest to return the diamond to its cultural and religious home. — Leighton and Surridge, p. 230.

The re-appearance of three Brahmins just the night before the disappearance of the Diamond lays upon them suspicion of having committed the deed. However, when Franklin Blake applies to Superintendent Seegrave of the Frizinghall Police, it turns out that the Brahmins and their boy have been under police surveillance, and therefore have an iron-clad alibi. All inside and outside the great house after the birthday dinner has been quiet, and Betteredge's using the hounds to make sure that no housebreakers have an opportunity to ply their trade suggests that the theft is an "inside job." The illustration for the sixth weekly part looks back to the very beginning of the serial, to the first headnote vignette, and to the reactions of Rachel, Godfrey Ablewhite, and his sisters when Franklin Blake presents her with her uncle's dubious gift on the afternoon of her birthday. The reading of this headnote vignette would therefore seem to be entirely analeptic as the reader must consider previous weeks' passages describing its history, appearance, and effect on its observers. Aside from the fact that in the novel it burns with its own mysterious, inner light, Collins's Moonstone has a number of immediate sources:

Wilkie acknowledges in the Preface that he was in part inspired by stories of two famous gems, the Koh-i-nor and the stone that adorned the Russian Imperial sceptre. There may have been other sources, however. Lady Russell records that he used to be a frequent guest of Sir George Russell at Swallowfields and that the idea of The Moonstone arose from stories he heard there of the family heirloom, the famous Pitt diamond. Walter de la Mare, on the other hand, in a footnote to his essay on Collins' Early Novels, claims that the story was suggested by a moonstone which used to belong to [Wilkie's fellow contributor to All the Year Round] Charles Reade, having been brought from India by his brother, and which is still in the possession of the Reade family. — Robinson, p. 219.

Relevant Plates from Volume Editions: 1868, 1874 (Harper's) and 1900 (Collier's)

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Last updated 22 November 2016