"He took the mock Diamond."
Alfred S. Pearse
11.9 x 8.2 cm
Seventh illustration for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone in the Collins' Clear-Type Press Edition (1910), Facing p. 480. See page 595.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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He advanced to the middle of the room, with the candle still in his hand: he looked about him— but he never looked back.
I saw the door of Miss Verinder's bedroom, standing ajar. She had put out her light. She controlled herself nobly. The dim white outline of her summer dress was all that I could see. Nobody who had not known it beforehand would have suspected that there was a living creature in the room. She kept back, in the dark: not a word, not a movement escaped her.
It was now ten minutes past one. I heard, through the dead silence, the soft drip of the rain and the tremulous passage of the night air through the trees.
After waiting irresolute, for a minute or more, in the middle of the room, he moved to the corner near the window, where the Indian cabinet stood.
He put his candle on the top of the cabinet. He opened, and shut, one drawer after another, until he came to the drawer in which the mock Diamond was put. He looked into the drawer for a moment. Then he took the mock Diamond out with his right hand. With the other hand, he took the candle from the top of the cabinet.
He walked back a few steps towards the middle of the room, and stood still again.
Thus far, he had exactly repeated what he had done on the birthday night. Would his next proceeding be the same as the proceeding of last year? Would he leave the room? Would he go back now, as I believed he had gone back then, to his bed-chamber? Would he show us what he had done with the Diamond, when he had returned to his own room?
His first action, when he moved once more, proved to be an action which he had notperformed, when he was under the influence of the opium for the first time. He put the candle down on a table, and wandered on a little towards the farther end of the room. There was a sofa there. He leaned heavily on the back of it, with his left hand— then roused himself, and returned to the middle of the room. I could now see his eyes. They were getting dull and heavy; the glitter in them was fast dying out.
The suspense of the moment proved too much for Miss Verinder's self-control. She advanced a few steps — then stopped again. Mr. Bruff and Betteredge looked across the open doorway at me for the first time. The prevision of a coming disappointment was impressing itself on their minds as well as on mine.
Still, so long as he stood where he was, there was hope. We waited, in unutterable expectation, to see what would happen next.
The next event was decisive. He let the mock Diamond drop out of his hand.
It fell on the floor, before the doorway — plainly visible to him, and to everyone. He made no effort to pick it up: he looked down at it vacantly, and, as he looked, his head sank on his breast. He staggered — roused himself for an instant — walked back unsteadily to the sofa— and sat down on it. He made a last effort; he tried to rise, and sank back. His head fell on the sofa cushions. It was then twenty-five minutes past one o'clock. Before I had put my watch back in my pocket, he was asleep.
It was all over now. The sedative influence had got him; the experiment was at an end. — "Second Period, Fourth Narrative, Extracted from the Journal of Ezra Jennings," p. 595-596.
Commentary: Franklin Blake Exonerated
Although the illustration is juxtaposed against the opening of Chapter 9, in which Franklin Blake in the 'Third Narrative" describes the "gipsy-like" features of Dr. Candy's assistant, Ezra Jennings, the half-tone lithograph in imitation of a dark plate describes the climactic moment eighty pages later when Jennings' psychological experiment with laudanum demonstrates simultaneously the guilt and innocence of Franklin Blake. Under the influence of the drug, Blake talks in his sleep, revealing his concern that the Indians may be hiding in the house and about to steal the Moonstone, as Jennings, Bruff (seen in the illustration), Rachel Verinder, and the redoubtable Betteredge observe and overhear him as he sleepwalks from his own bedroom to Rachel's sitting-room. Although the focus of the narrative is divided between Rachel's reactions (particularly whether the power of her love and the strength of her character will enable her to maintain her "self-control") and Jennings' objectively-recorded observations, the illustration clearly foregrounds the actions of Blake in his nightgown as he opens Rachel's Indian cabinet at 1:10 A. M. Once he has fallen asleep under the influence of the drug, Ezra Jennings asks the key question: "What did he do with the Diamond after Miss Verinder saw him leave her sitting-room with the jewel in his hand?" That Blake has nodded off leaves that question unanswered — and readers still in suspense.
Although the reader is most concerned with how Rachel is reacting to Blake's action, Alfred Pearse allows the reader to see the curious face of a man of advanced middle age (either Bruff or Betteredge) in the background, and another male head behind that. The candlelight illuminates the front of the nightgown, throwing Blake's back into a shadowed chiaroscuro. The composition in all respects resembles that realisation of the same scene by F. A. Fraser drawn twenty years earlier: the positioning of the observers, the stance of the sleepwalker, and juxtaposition of Indian cabinet and Franklin Blake align perfectly. The slight differences lie in the left-handed gesture of the dreamer and in the configuration of the cabinet and chair: in He took out the Diamond with his right hand, Blake is turned towards the reader, his left hand near the guttering candle on top of the five-foot-high cabinet with the single, open drawer — the source of illumination for Blake's face, shoulders, and chest being the Moonstone rather than the candle. The wooden-framed chair behind Blake in the 1890 composite wood-engraving is much smaller than its padded counterpart in the 1910 lithograph, which bathes the room in a subtle glow, whereas the 1890 illustration heightens the dramatic nature of the scene by sharpening the contrast between the foregrounded sleepwalker and cabinet and the background, leaving the observer obscured in darkness. The juxtaposition of text and image is also quite different, as the Fraser illustration faces the text illustrated on page 392 in the Fourth Narrative, facilitating a simultaneous reading of text and image, as opposed to the proleptic reading of the illustration in the Collins Cleartype Edition.
The Harper's Weekly serial instalment for 25 July 1868 uses an uncaptioned headnote vignette to describe Franklin Blake's sleepwalking under the influence of the slightly enlarged dose of laudanum administered by Ezra Jennings, but does not show his opening the cabinet to move the Moonstone as Fraser and Pearse do. It is not likely, given copyright restrictions, that the British illustrators Pearse and Fraser saw and were influenced by the American illustrations; however, their very different approach is probably the result of the different packaging of the novel and the limited number of illustrations available to them. In essence, the British editions let the reader know about the experiment's success long before he or she encounters it in the text, but do not assist the reader in determining what Blake actually did with the Diamond on the morning of 22 June 1848.
Whereas Blake in the British illustrations is wearing a linen nightgown, in the 25 July 1868 American illustration, Headnote vignette: Franklin Blake, sleepwalking in the "Fourth Narrative, extracted from the Journal of Ezra Jennings," as he walks down the corridor, he is wearing a dressing-gown and (apparently) pyjamas, perhaps signifying transatlantic differences in men's sleepwear — and perhaps underscoring the American illustrators' disregarding textual details to make the story conform to their readers' expectations.The two illustrations for 25 July 1868 (rather than the customary three) contain a gap or an ellipsis, and are arrayed in reverse chronological order. In other words, the American illustrators show the result of Blake's taking the drug before they show the group (including Rachel Verinder) measuring the drug in proper proportion ready to be diluted in water, leaving the reader to fill in the blank, the critical scene in which Blake opens the cabinet and takes the Diamond. Thus, the American illustrations complement the text but do not pre-empt it in the way that the British illustrations seem to do, and compel the readers to find out for themselves (and picture in the mind's eye) the highly dramatic scene in Rachel's sitting-room that ends the thirtieth of the thirty-two weekly instalments. Moreover, whereas the serial had yet to reveal three significant illustrations in the remaining pair of instalments, the picture of Franklin Blake before the Indian cabinet effectively closes both British narrative-pictorial sequences, leaving the reader to conclude that Collins manages to achieve a happy ending, at least for Franklin Blake and Rachel Verinder.
Relevant Serial Edition (1868) and Chatto & Windus Edition (1890) Illustrations
Left: The American serial's Headnote vignette (25 July 1868). Centre: The serial's setting up the "experiment," with Bruff and Betteredge observing Rachel Verinder and Ezra Jennings mixing the laudanum draft, "Let me pour out the water" (25 July 1868). Right: F. A. Fraser's original conception of the sleepwalking scene, "He took the mock Diamond out with his right hand (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 21 August 2016