"You coward!" she said.
Alfred S. Pearse
12 x 8.2 cm
Sixth illustration for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone in the Collins' Clear-Type Press Edition (1910), Facing p. 449. See page 577.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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There was a moment when I thought the kisses were returned; a moment when it seemed as if she, too might have forgotten. Almost before the idea could shape itself in my mind, her first voluntary action made me feel that she remembered. With a cry which was like a cry of horror — with a strength which I doubt if I could have resisted if I had tried — she thrust me back from her. I saw merciless anger in her eyes; I saw merciless contempt on her lips. She looked me over, from head to foot, as she might have looked at a stranger who had insulted her.
"You coward!" she said. "You mean, miserable, heartless coward!"
Those were her first words! The most unendurable reproach that a woman can address to a man, was the reproach that she picked out to address to Me.
"I remember the time, Rachel," I said, "when you could have told me that I had offended you, in a worthier way than that. I beg your pardon."
Something of the bitterness that I felt may have communicated itself to my voice. At the first words of my reply, her eyes, which had been turned away the moment before, looked back at me unwillingly. She answered in a low tone, with a sullen submission of manner which was quite new in my experience of her.
"Perhaps there is some excuse for me," she said. "After what you have done, is it a manly action, on your part, to find your way to me as you have found it to-day? It seems a cowardly experiment, to try an experiment on my weakness for you. It seems a cowardly surprise, to surprise me into letting you kiss me. But that is only a woman's view. I ought to have known it couldn't be your view. I should have done better if I had controlled myself, and said nothing."
The apology was more unendurable than the insult. The most degraded man living would have felt humiliated by it. — "Second Period, Third Narrative, Contributed by Franklin Blake," Chapter 7, p. 476-477.
Commentary: Romance Revived
Travelling by railway to London from Yorkshire after he and Betteredge have retrieved Rosanna Spearman's letter and box from the Shivering Sand, Franklin Blake hopes to exonerate himself with Rachel by reviewing with her events on the night of her birthday. He hopes to persuade her out of her prejudice against him, and to learn the cause of her suspicions: is it merely that she overheard or learned through her mother about Blake's having defaulted on his loan to the Frenchman? Has the nightgown spattered with paint unduly prejudiced her?
What Franklin Blake, but recently returned from abroad, is about to learn in his interview with Rachel at Mr. Bruff's house in Hampstead is that she actually saw take the Diamond. He, of course, has absolutely no memory of having committed the theft, and so is stunned by her revelation that he does not know quite how to respond, other than to ask her to go over her memory of events of that night. Although the evidence of the paint-smeared nightgown which he has just recovered from Rosanna Spearman's box actually supports Rachel's assertion, he cannot bring himself to believe that he is the thief. The illustrators of this sequence (June 13 and 20) in Harper's Weekly felt that this reunion of the lovers at Mr. Bruff's home was so significant that they devoted four illustrations over two instalments to it: the flashback of Rachel in her nightgown, presumably watching Franklin Blake take the diamond (headnote vignette, 20 June), Rachel at the piano in the conservatory at Bruff's home (headnote vignette, 13 June), Franklin Blake at the door of the conservatory (full-scale illustration, 13 June), and the climactic Rachel and Franklin together (20 June). Whereas F. A. Fraser and Alfred Pearse show Rachel angrily reproaching Franklin for trying to take advantage of her and continuing to pretend that he knows nothing about the theft, the Harper's illustrators in "She caught me by the arm and barred my way out" (20 June 1868, p. 389) are attempting to convey the notion that the lovers may yet be reunited if they can get to the bottom of why Franklin Blake cannot remember taking the Diamond. The mystery, then, is redefined, for it is not the theft of the stone that is unknown, but rather the circumstances and motivations of the theft and, in particular, why Franklin Bklake has no memory whatsoever of having gone to Rachel's room in the early morning hours of 22 June 1848. Three of these four crucial illustrations (which give the reader hope that the lovers can yet revive their "romance," the subtitle of the novel, if they can uncover the truth) are what Surridge and Leighton call "threshold" scenes:
The Harper's illustrators also repeatedly deploy threshold settings, locating Collins’s characters near doors or windows. These thresholds, we argue, visually suggest the sensation genre’s propensity for disrupting boundaries of gender and class, as well as this particular novel’s violation of barriers between the known and the unknown, white and nonwhite, England and its foreign others, law and desire, the conscious and the unconscious. The illustrations show Rachel watching the man she loves steal her gemstone (chapter head, Part 25); Rachel watching the investigation and wishing that Franklin might escape (Part 6, fig. 7); and Franklin sleepwalking, midway between conscious and unconscious states (chapter head, Part 30). All of these events place characters in positions where their conscious ethics and their basic drives collide, suggesting how the novel presses beyond the surface of identity, probing its margins. The illustrations contribute, then, to the novel’s status as sensation fiction, suggesting the text’s roiling undercurrents, its deep-set fears of colonial invasion at the heart of England, and its capacity to undermine or cross boundaries fundamental to self and social identities. — 222.
Indeed, the reader seems to be on a threshold here as the final stage of the story — the discovery of Dr. Candy's dosing Franklin Blake with laudanum, Blake's attempting to protect the Moonstone, and Godfrey Ablewhite's taking it from Blake and pawning it with Septimus Luker. Franklin Blake has just crossed another barrier in polite, upper-middle-class society: he has endeavoured to have an unchaperoned interview with a young woman who is no longer his fiancée. The Fraser and Pearse illustrations, although realising the same conversation, are markedly different in their depiction of the characters. Fraser clearly establishes the setting by the piano behind Franklin Blake and Rachel Verinder. He is taken aback by the ferocity of her response, even though she is trying to maintain her composure (as suggested by her left hand touching table). His posture implies self-defence, but his gaze is unwavering. Quite the opposite situation exists in the Pearse illustration, in which Franklin Blake (now a much more mature figure than in the earlier Pearse illustrations) is clearly the agressor as Rachel recoils in a standard theatrical pose for shock and surprise, one hand to her chest, the other to support herself on the table.
Relevant Serial Edition (1868) and Chatto & Windus Edition (1890) Illustrations
Left: The American serial's relevant Headnote vignette (13 June 1868). Centre: The serial's implying that Rachel Verinder is prepared to assist Franklin Blake, ""She caught me by the arm and barred my way out"" (20 June 1868). Right: F. A. Fraser's original conception of the scene in Mr. Bruff's conservatory, "You villain, I saw you take the Diamond with my own eyes." (1890). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
- "The Moonstone" and British India (1857, 1868, and 1876)
- Detection and Disruption inside and outside the 'quiet English home' in "The Moonstone"
- "Do you think a young lady's advice worth having?" — p. 94.
- Introduction to the Sixty-six Harper's Weekly Illustrations for The Moonstone (1868)
- The Harper's Weekly Illustrations for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone (1868)
Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone: A Romance. All the Year Round. 1 January-8 August 1868.
_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. With 66 illustrations. Vol. 12 (1 January-8 August 1868), pp. 5-503.
_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Illustrated by George Du Maurier and F. A. Fraser. London: Chatto and Windus, 1890.
_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Illustrated by A. S. Pearse. London & Glasgow: Collins, 1910, rpt. 1930.
Leighton, Mary Elizabeth, and Lisa Surridge. "The Transatlantic Moonstone: A Study of the Illustrated Serial in Harper's Weekly." Victorian Periodicals Review Volume 42, Number 3 (Fall 2009): pp. 207-243. Accessed 1 July 2016. http://englishnovel2.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2014/01/42.3.leighton-moonstone-serializatation.pdf
Vann, J. Don. "The Moonstone in All the Year Round, 4 January-8 1868." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985. Pp. 48-50.
Last updated 22 August 2016