"I won't even rise from my knees till you have said yes!"
Alfred S. Pearse
11.9 x 8.3 cm
Fourth illustration for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone in the Collins' Clear-Type Press Edition (1910), Facing p. 160. See page 173.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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"Godfrey!" she said, "you must be mad!"
"I never spoke more reasonably, dearest — in your interests, as well as in mine. Look for a moment to the future. Is your happiness to be sacrificed to a man who has never known how you feel towards him, and whom you are resolved never to see again? Is it not your duty to yourself to forget this ill-fated attachment? and is forgetfulness to be found in the life you are leading now? You have tried that life, and you are wearying of it already. Surround yourself with nobler interests than the wretched interests of the world. A heart that loves and honours you; a home whose peaceful claims and happy duties win gently on you day by day —try the consolation, Rachel, which is to be found there! I don't ask for your love —I will be content with your affection and regard. Let the rest be left, confidently left, to your husband's devotion, and to Time that heals even wounds as deep as yours."
She began to yield already. Oh, what a bringing-up she must have had! Oh, how differently I should have acted in her place!
"Don't tempt me, Godfrey," she said; "I am wretched enough and reckless enough as it is. Don't tempt me to be more wretched and more reckless still!"
"One question, Rachel. Have you any personal objection to me?"
"I! I always liked you. After what you have just said to me, I should be insensible indeed if I didn't respect and admire you as well."
"Do you know many wives, my dear Rachel, who respect and admire their husbands? And yet they and their husbands get on very well. How many brides go to the altar with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take them there? And yet it doesn't end unhappily — somehow or other the nuptial establishment jogs on. The truth is, that women try marriage as a Refuge, far more numerously than they are willing to admit; and, what is more, they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it. Look at your own case once again. At your age, and with your attractions, is it possible for you to sentence yourself to a single life? Trust my knowledge of the world —nothing is less possible. It is merely a question of time. You may marry some other man, some years hence. Or you may marry the man, dearest, who is now at your feet, and who prizes your respect and admiration above the love of any other woman on the face of the earth."
"Gently, Godfrey! you are putting something into my head which I never thought of before. You are tempting me with a new prospect, when all my other prospects are closed before me. I tell you again, I am miserable enough and desperate enough, if you say another word, to marry you on your own terms. Take the warning, and go!"
"I won't even rise from my knees, till you have said yes!"
"If I say yes you will repent, and I shall repent, when it is too late!"
"We shall both bless the day, darling, when I pressed, and when you yielded." —"Second Period, First Narrative," in "The Loss of the Diamond (1848)." Contributed by Miss Clack, Niece of the late Sir John Verinder. Chapter 5, p. 331-333.
Godfrey Abelwhite is in trouble, financially and legally. Having stolen Rachel Verinder's diamond (although she believes Franklin Blake to be the culprit), Godfrey has pawned it to meet immediately financial difficulties attendant upon his maintaining a "hidden life" with a mistress and a villa he cannot afford. Collins has already hinted that Godfrey has approached his father, a banker, for assistance, but that (to judge from his downcast demeanour at the birthday dinner) his father has refused. For the moment, the money he has obtained from pawning the Moonstone is keeping his private life afloat; however, he needs a long-term solution.
Marrying Rachel would effectively afford him such a solution since as her husband he would control her vast fortune at the time that the action is set, 1848. Until 1870's "Married Women's Property Act" anything owned by a woman at the time of her marriage (including wages, gifts, and inheritances) automatically became her husband's. The 1870 legislation did not vastly improve women's rights as a woman could control only two hundred pounds after her marriage. The great leap forward, towards total autonomy in matters on inherited property, occurred (as the British upper- and middle-class female readers of this early twentieth-century edition would have been aware) came in "The Married Women's Property Act" of 1882.
Thus, although the novel was ostensibly both a mystery and romance, in 1868 it would certainly have been recognised as New Woman Fiction [link], a fact reinforced by five significant, strongly-drawn female characters: Lady Julia Verinder, Rachel Verinder, Rosanna Spearman, Penelope Betteredge, and Limping Lucy, the fisherman's daughter. The crucial part of the old "femme covert" provisions regarding inheritance that Godfrey Ablewhite could have counted on was that any inheritance that a wife received after marriage (unless the terms of inheritance specified that the assets were to be for own, exclusive personal use) was automatically regarded as her husband's. In fact, prior to 1870, a woman could not even draft a will without her husband's consenting to its provisions, so that Godfrey could be assured of complete control of the diamond if he were Rachel's husband. Furthermore, as it would be his own property, no theft in law would technically have occurred on the morning of 22 June 1848. Fortunately for Godfrey, such property matters do not seem to be uppermost in Rachel's mind at this point. When Rachel refuses, Godfrey laments to his confidant, Miss Clack, "I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position, and a handsome income" (Chapter 8, p. 353) — no wonder that Gofrey seems so ardent as he kneels before Rachel in her beautifully appointed library! The artist, incidentally, has captured precisely the position of Miss Clack, who is in the adjoining front room of the Verinders' house at Montagu Square London, overhearing everything the cousins say.
- "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 16 August 2016