"I won't sing another note,"
21 September 1895
15.3 cm high by 10.2 cm wide
"Source: The Illustrated London News (21 September 1895): 357.
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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Passage adapted from the 1895 novel
That was the last they saw of Svengali.
Then they were taken to another door, and Monsieur J— came out, and Taffy explained who they were, and they were admitted.
La Svengali was there, sitting in an arm-chair by the fire, with several of the band standing round gesticulating, and talking German or Polish or Yiddish. Gecko, on his knees, was alternately chafing her hands and feet. She seemed quite dazed.
But at the sight of Taffy she jumped up and rushed at him, saying: "Oh, Taffy dear — oh, Taffy! what's it all about? Where on earth am I? What an age since we met?"
Then she caught sight of the Laird, and kissed him; and then she recognized Little Billee.
She looked at him for a long while in great surprise, and then shook hands with him.
"How pale you are! and so changed — you've got a mustache! What's the matter? Why are you all dressed in black, with white cravats, as if you were going to a ball? Where's Svengali? I should like to go home!" [Part Seven: Page 275, facing the illustration "The last they saw of Svengali"]
Twenty-year-old actress Dorothea Baird, starring as Trilby, became the toast of the London stage because her character exemplified the New Woman, a type which Thomas Hardy had anticipated in his early heroines such as Elfride Swancourt in A Pair of Blue Eyes (1872-73) and repeatedly explored in such wilful, determined, intelligent, and ambitious young women as Bathsheba Everdene in Far from the Madding Crowd in 1873 and culminating in Sue Bridehead in Jude the Obscure in 1895. However, the term only became current in 1894 after the "New Woman" as a shorthand for an emancipated, middle-class female was coined by the writer and public speaker Sarah Grand. The plucky, independent, Bohemian character of Trilby set the vogue for the Trilby hat and for ladies' smoking in public.
In Du Maurier's text and original illustrations, this moment occurs after Svengali's death, when Trilby, liberated from his spell but still dressed for her musical recitation in the theatre, swears that she has only a vague recollection of singing in pubic. Off stage she cries, "I won't sing — not a note." At this point in the play, she enters to confront the three artists who are so devoted to her: Taffy, Gecko, and Little Billee.
Part Seven of Du Maurier's novel winds up rather differently, as Svengali dies, and Trilby remembers fragments of her theatrical career with him. The recognition scene involves Little Billee, Taffy, and the Laird. The pertinent illustrations in the serial and the triple-decker are "The last they saw of Svengali" in Part Seven, and the death of Trilby in Part Eight, "Svengali . . . Svengali . . . Svengali . . . ".
Related Illustrations in Harper's New Monthly (1894)
George Du Maurier's "The last they saw of Svengali" and "Svengali . . . Svengali . . . Svengali . . .". [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Du Maurier, George. Trilby. Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 89 (July 1894): 275; and (August 1894): 363.
Du Maurier, George. Trilby, A Novel. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1895; London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1894.
Ellis, Alfred. "Trilby on the English Stage." [Four black-and-white photographs]. The Illustrated London News. 21 September 1895, p. 357.
Last modified 13 July 2013