xxx xxx

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 16 — initial illustration for the tenth instalment in Harper's Weekly (7 March 1868), p. 149. Wood-engraving, 8.5 x 5.4 cm. [In the tenth headnote vignette, the Harper & Bros. house illustrators "C. B." and "W. J." (William Jewett) present the scene in which Lady Julia prepares to announce that her daughter intends to leave the house, fully aware that her so doing will thereby frustrate Cuff's investigation, since he is sure that either a family member or a guest is involved in the theft.]

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 Ninth Instalment

We found my lady with no light in the room but the reading-lamp. The shade was screwed down so as to overshadow her face. Instead of looking up at us in her usual straightforward way, she sat close at the table, and kept her eyes fixed obstinately on an open book.

"Officer," she said, "is it important to the inquiry you are conducting, to know beforehand if any person now in this house wishes to leave it?"

"Most important, my lady."

"I have to tell you, then, that Miss Verinder proposes going to stay with her aunt, Mrs. Ablewhite, of Frizinghall. She has arranged to leave us the first thing to-morrow morning."

Sergeant Cuff looked at me. I made a step forward to speak to my mistress — and, feeling my heart fail me (if I must own it), took a step back again, and said nothing. — "First Period: The Loss of the Diamond (1848), The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder,"​Chapter 16, p. 149.


Heightening this motif of interpretation, the Harper's illustrations also call attention to acts of reading. This visual pattern underlines the letterpress's focus on the interpretation of narrative, the "battle over whose perspective and voice" prevail in the novel. In a series of repetitive images, the illustrations show Cuff, then both Blake and Jennings, all reading (Part 12; Part 28, fig. 8). These scenes of characters immersed in books create self-reflexivity around the reading process itself, reminding us forcefully that The Moonstone requires its characters as well as its readers to become active analysers of narratives, their biases, and visual as well as verbal points of view. — Leighton and Surridge, p. 224.

This is the third of a number of "reading" illustrations that reflect on the nature of the reading experience as well as the kinds of readers or decipherers in the story. As Lady Julia reads a book (perhaps for a momentary escape from the difficult situation she must now face — explaining to the police detective that her daughter has decided to go to Frizinghall in the midst of the investigation), she revolves in her mind, we may be sure, Rachel's possible roles of Rachel in the disappearance of the Moonstone. The clarity of a printed text before her, a retreat from reality, contrasts the obscurity of the unpleasant situation she is trying to decode. Why has Rachel chosen this time to go? And why was she furious when her mother told her that she would have to delay her departure until 2:00 P. M. And, further, why did Cuff request that she delay Rachel's departure?

In the illustrations, Lady Julia seems to be an elderly and physically frail widow rather than the robust and decisive woman of the text. Consequently, the illustrator may be providing an image of Julia Verinder that will prepare readers for her demise, which will leave Rachel femme sole under pre-1870 inheritance law — a young heiress entirely in charge of her own fortune.

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Last updated 23 November 2016