He laid his hand on her shoulder, "Tess, Tess, I was on the way to deliverance till I saw you again," he said. (Chapter XLVI) by D. A. Wehrschmidt. Plate 19 in the London Graphic, 21 November 1891, p. 601. Half-page, with text below: 16.7 cm high x 22.6 cm wide (6 ⅝ by 9 inches). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: The Backsliding Preacher

“I have arranged to preach, and I shall not be there — by reason of my burning desire to see a woman whom I once despised! — No, by my word and truth, I never despised you; if I had I should not love you now! Why I did not despise you was on account of your being unsmirched in spite of all; you withdrew yourself from me so quickly and resolutely when you saw the situation; you did not remain at my pleasure; so there was one petticoat in the world for whom I had no contempt, and you are she. But you may well despise me now! I thought I worshipped on the mountains, but I find I still serve in the groves! Ha! ha!”

“O Alec d’Urberville! what does this mean? What have I done!”

“Done?” he said, with a soulless sneer in the word. “Nothing intentionally. But you have been the means — the innocent means — of my backsliding, as they call it. I ask myself, am I, indeed, one of those ‘servants of corruption’ who, ‘after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, are again entangled therein and overcome’ — whose latter end is worse than their beginning?” He laid his hand on her shoulder. “Tess, my girl, I was on the way to, at least, social salvation till I saw you again!” he said freakishly shaking her, as if she were a child. “And why then have you tempted me? I was firm as a man could be till I saw those eyes and that mouth again — surely there never was such a maddening mouth since Eve’s!” His voice sank, and a hot archness shot from his own black eyes. “You temptress, Tess; you dear damned witch of Babylon — I could not resist you as soon as I met you again!”

“I couldn’t help your seeing me again!” said Tess, recoiling. [Chapter XLVI, 603, bottom of column 1 (end of Ch. XLVI and of 19th instalment).]


Converted by the Reverend Mr. Clare, Alec D'Urberville has turned itinerant preacher, but now he sadly confronts the fact that his passion for Tess is far greater than his erstwhile religious calling. The moment that Wehrschmidt has captured is sombre rather than than "passionate," however, as once again Tess finds herself trapped. Significantly, the artist has added the whispy smoke from the smouldering fire for artistic commentary about the relationship; we cannot see because the table intervenes between the theatrically-positioned viewer and the fireplace. The fitful smoke perhaps symbolizes Alec's latent passion for her which Tess's sudden reappearance in his life has rekindled. The humble plate, mug, table, and chair are consistent with Hardy's setting the confrontational scene in "the sitting-room of the cottage wherein she was a lodger" (XLVI: 603), but Tess's respectable dress seems at odds with her lowly status as a day labourer at Flintcomb-Ash.

Note: The next illustration is by a different illustrator. For the full sequence, please consult the complete list of illustrations.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Allingham, Philip V. "The Original Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Drawn by Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, Ernest Borough-Johnson, and Joseph Sydall for the Graphic (1891)." The Thomas Hardy Year Book, No. 24 (1997): 3-50.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic, 1891, 4 July-26 December, pp. 11-761.

Jackson, Arlene M. Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.

Created 21 January 2001

Last modified 6 May 2024