Alfred S. Pearse
12 x 8.4 cm
Second illustration for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone in the Collins' Clear-Type Press Edition (1910), facing page 97.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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Under cover of the noise made by the young ladies, I had an opportunity of saying a private word to Mr. Franklin in the hall.
"Have you got the Diamond safe, sir?"
He nodded, and tapped the breast-pocket of his coat.
"Have you seen anything of the Indians?"
"Not a glimpse." With that answer, he asked for my lady, and, hearing she was in the small drawing-room, went there straight. The bell rang, before he had been a minute in the room, and Penelope was sent to tell Miss Rachel that Mr. Franklin Blake wanted to speak to her.
Crossing the hall, about half an hour afterwards, I was brought to a sudden standstill by an outbreak of screams from the small drawing-room. I can't say I was at all alarmed; for I recognised in the screams the favourite large O of the Miss Ablewhites. However, I went in (on pretence of asking for instructions about the dinner) to discover whether anything serious had really happened.
There stood Miss Rachel at the table, like a person fascinated, with the Colonel's unlucky Diamond in her hand. There, on either side of her, knelt the two Bouncers, devouring the jewel with their eyes, and screaming with ecstasy every time it flashed on them in a new light. There, at the opposite side of the table, stood Mr. Godfrey, clapping his hands like a large child, and singing out softly, "Exquisite! exquisite!" There sat Mr. Franklin in a chair by the book-case, tugging at his beard, and looking anxiously towards the window. And there, at the window, stood the object he was contemplating — my lady, having the extract from the Colonel's Will in her hand, and keeping her back turned on the whole of the company.
She faced me, when I asked for my instructions; and I saw the family frown gathering over her eyes, and the family temper twitching at the corners of her mouth.
"Come to my room in half an hour," she answered. "I shall have something to say to you then." — "The Story: First Period — The Loss of the Diamond," Chapter 9," p. 90.
After the "Prologue," outlining violent events at Seringapatam, India, in 1799, when Herncastle stole the Moonstone from the Moghul armoury, Collins advances the story of the next theft of the yellow diamond by describing events at the Verinder mansion in Yorkshire on 21 June 1848 — Rachel Verinder's birthday. The perspective is once again that of trusted family retainer and amused observer of human nature Gabriel Betteredge. On the chief chronological setting of the story, Rachel Verinder's eighteenth birthday (21 June 1848), Herncastle gets his revenge on his sister, Julia, for her having refused to see him when he called earlier in the year. While Betteredge prepares the servants for the birthday dinner, Franklin Blake and Rachel work on decorating with oil-paints the door of her boudoir. After lunch he rides into the nearby town, Frizinghall, to collect Rachel's guests, her cousins, the Ablewhites, and to withdraw the Moonstone from the bank.
The diamond in the illustration has just been unveiled as Colonel Herncastle's birthday present to his niece, Rachel Verinder. Acting under the terms of the will of the late "Honourable John," Franklin Blake has just retrieved the Moonstone from the local bank at Frizinghall where he deposited two weeks earlier to safeguard it from the Indian "jugglers" (in fact, the present-day brahmin protectors of the sacred gem). Wearing a dress in fashion at the mid-century, Rachel Verinder (the dominating figure in the composition) is admiring the gemstone as it glitters in her right hand as Franklin Blake (centre) strokes his beard thoughtfully. Despite his assertion that it is mere carbon, Rachel's philanthropic cousin, Godfrey Ablewhite (right) is applauding vigorously, betraying his true feelings about the Moonstone as he appreciates its effect and cries, "Exquisite! exquisite!" (97). The remaining figures in the frame are Godfrey Ablewhite's somewhat fatuous sisters, whom Betteredge has derisively dubbed "Bouncers" (96), although Pearse's illustration does not convey their boundless "india-rubber" energy or their overwrought emotional natures as they squeal with delight:
the two Miss Ablewhites were cheerful enough for twenty, which more than restored the balance. They were nearly as big as their brother; spanking, yellow-haired, rosy lasses, overflowing with super-abundant flesh and blood; bursting from head to foot with health and spirits. The legs of the poor horses trembled with carrying them; and when they jumped from their saddles (without waiting to be helped), I declare they bounced on the ground as if they were made of india-rubber. Everything the Miss Ablewhites said began with a large O; everything they did was done with a bang; and they giggled and screamed, in season and out of season, on the smallest provocation. — Chapter 9, p. 96.
Reaching in height to the very top of the frame, Pearse's version of Godfrey Ablewhite is consistent with Collins's description of him in the previous chapter: over six feet tall, flaxen haired, handsome, and given to gesturing as he speaks — "a ladies' man" and "quite a public character" (88). If he seems too good to be true, in fact he is, for he leads a double life, keeping a mistress in an expensive villa while acting as the chairman of numerous charitable societies in London.
- "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)
- The Indian — first touching the boy's head and making signs over it in the air — then said, "Look!"
- "One of these days (please God) I shall retire from catching thieves, and try my hand at growing roses." Page 90.
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 6 August 2016