Judith Malmayns meditating the Murder of Amabel. Artist: John Franklin. Drawn and engraved by Franklin, 1841, reprinted 1847. Steel-plate etching, 9.6 cm high by 14.4 cm wide. An illustration for W. H. Ainsworth’s historical romance, Old St. Paul's: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire (London: Parry, Blenkharn & Co., 1847): facing p. 329 in Book the Fourth, "September 1665," Chapter V, "The Marriage and Its Consequences." Ainsworth initially serialised the novel in The Sunday Times, from 3 January through 26 December 1841 in fifty-one weekly instalments, which Ainsworth almost immediately reconfigured as twelve monthly parts for publication that same year, a pattern more famously adopted by Charles Dickens in 1859 for A Tale of Two Cities (June-December).

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Passage Illustrated

With this she arose, and stepping to the table which stood by the side of the bed, filled a wine-glass with the contents of a silver flagon, and gave it to her.

Amabel drank the mixture, and complaining of its nauseous taste, Judith handed her a plate of fruit from the table to remove it. Soon after this she dropped asleep, when the nurse arose, and taking a light from the table, cautiously possessed herself of a bunch of keys which were placed in a small pocket over Amabel's head, and proceeded to unlock a large chest that stood near the foot of the bed. She found it filled with valuables — with chains of gold, necklaces of precious stones, loops of pearl, diamond crosses, and other ornaments. Besides these, there were shawls and stuffs of the richest description. While contemplating these treasures, and considering how she should carry them off without alarming the household, she was startled by a profound sigh; and looking towards the bed, perceived to her great alarm, that Amabel had opened her eyes, and was watching her. [Book the Fourth, "September 1665," Chapter V, "The Marriage and Its Consequences," p. 329]

Related Material: Phiz's Frontispiece and Title-page Vignette (1847)


Ainsworth, William Harrison. Old Saint Paul's: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire. London: Parry, Blenkharn & Co., 1847. This was a one-volume reprint of the three-decker published by Hugh Cunningham in 1841. Routledge re-issued the single volume with the Franklin illustrations prefaced by two additional engravings by Hablot Knight Brown.

Vann, J. Don. "William Harrison Ainsworth: Old Saint Paul's in the Sunday Times, 3 January-26 December 1841." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. Pp. 21-22.

Last modified 4 November 2018