Ornamental tailpiece: The Temple of the Moon God at Somnauth — uncaptioned vignette for the conclusion of "The Story. Second Period," positioned in Epilogue. The Finding of the Diamond. III. the Statement of Mr. Murthwaite (1850). (In a Letter to Mr. Bruff.),"​page 444, in the Doubleday (New York) 1946 edition of The Moonstone. 3.7 x 5.5 cm. [The reader arrives at the conclusion thoroughly respecting the Brahmins for having faithfully carried out their divinely appointed mission and having returned the Moonstone to the forehead of the deity — even though their doing so has cost a middle-class European his life. The tranquil setting foils both the exciting plot and the religious fervour of the Moon God's devotees.] 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.]

Passage Suggested by the Illustration

On the second day, the number of Hindoos travelling in my direction had increased to fifties and hundreds. On the third day, the throng had swollen to thousands; all slowly converging to one point​— the city of Somnauth.

A trifling service which I was able to render to one of my fellow-pilgrims, during the third day's journey, proved the means of introducing me to certain Hindoos of the higher caste. From these men I learnt that the multitude was on its way to a great religious ceremony, which was to take place on a hill at a little distance from Somnauth. The ceremony was in honour of the god of the Moon; and it was to be held at night.

The crowd detained us as we drew near to the place of celebration. By the time we reached the hill the moon was high in the heaven. My Hindoo friends possessed some special privileges which enabled them to gain access to the shrine. They kindly allowed me to accompany them. When we arrived at the place, we found the shrine hidden from our view by a curtain hung between two magnificent trees. Beneath the trees a flat projection of rock jutted out, and formed a species of natural platform. Below this, I stood, in company with my Hindoo friends.

Looking back down the hill, the view presented the grandest spectacle of Nature and Man, in combination, that I have ever seen. The lower slopes of the eminence melted imperceptibly into a grassy plain, the place of the meeting of three rivers. On one side, the graceful winding of the waters stretched away, now visible, now hidden by trees, as far as the eye could see. On the other, the waveless ocean slept in the calm of the night. People this lovely scene with tens of thousands of human creatures, all dressed in white, stretching down the sides of the hill, overflowing into the plain, and fringing the nearer banks of the winding rivers. Light this halt of the pilgrims by the wild red flames of cressets and torches, streaming up at intervals from every part of the innumerable throng. Imagine the moonlight of the East, pouring in unclouded glory over all​— and you will form some idea of the view that met me when I looked forth from the summit of the hill.

A strain of plaintive music, played on stringed instruments, and flutes, recalled my attention to the hidden shrine. — "The Second Period. The Truth Discovered (1848-1849). Epilogue. The Finding of the Diamond. III. the Statement of Mr. Murthwaite (1850). (In a Letter to Mr. Bruff.)."​ Pages 442-443.


Collins actually says nothing about the shrine or temple at which the story ends, except that it is located on a hill above the town; rather, his emphasis is on the religious devotion of the "pilgrims." Whereas the original serial illustrations culminate in the separation scene of the three faithful Brahmins at the shrine of the Hindu Moon God at Somnauth, in Sharp's mixture of large-scale coloured illustrations and line-drawing vignettes, the dénouement is complemented by moonlit scene of palm trees and a domed building more like a Greek Orthodox church than a Hindu shrine — perhaps because the artist was unable through his cursory researches in the early 1940s to discover what a Hindu shrine would have looked like — or he consciously decided to use a different Eastern model instead, one which, except for the absence of a surmounting cross, would be vaguely Christian. The tailpiece lends the conclusion an Eastern charm, but does not underscore the tragedy of the three Brahmins who, having spent their lives together in service of their deity, must nevermore set eyes upon one another as the Harper's Weekly illustration for 8 August 1868: "Never more were they to look upon one another's faces." (p. 503) in the thirty-second and final weekly instalment. In effect, Sharp prefers to let the text tell the story, leaving the tailpiece to complement the mysterious and exotic atmosphere that Collins creates at the end of the novel.

Relevant Serial Illustrations, 1868

Left: An oversized version of the Diamond presides over the temple, Uncaptioned headnote vignette for "Chapter XI"< (8 February 1868, p. 405).​Centre: The original 1868 Jewett and C. B. illustration of the idol: frontispiece of the Collier edition (The Idol of the Moon) (1900). Right: the serial's final illustration, "Never more were they to look upon one another's faces." (8 August 1868, p. 503). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Related Materials


Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone: A Romance. with sixty-six illustrations. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. Vol. 12 (1868), 4 January through 8 August, pp. 5-503.

Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone: A Romance. All the Year Round. 1 January-8 August 1868.

_________. The Moonstone: A Novel. With many illustrations. First edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, [July] 1868.

_________. The Moonstone: A Novel. With 19 illustrations. Second edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1874.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Illustrated by George Du Maurier and F. A. Fraser. London: Chatto and Windus, 1890.

_________. The Moonstone. With 19 illustrations. The Works of Wilkie Collins. New York: Peter Fenelon Collier, 1900. Volumes 6 and 7.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. With four illustrations by John Sloan. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. Illustrated by A. S. Pearse. London & Glasgow: Collins, 1910, rpt. 1930.

_________. The Moonstone. Illustrated by William Sharp. New York: Doubleday, 1946.

_________. The Moonstone: A Romance. With nine illustrations by Edwin La Dell. London: Folio Society, 1951.

Karl, Frederick R. "Introduction." Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. Scarborough, Ontario: Signet, 1984. Pp. 1-21.

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

Nayder, Lillian. Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, & Victorian Authorship. London and Ithaca, NY: Cornll U. P., 2001.

Peters, Catherine. The King of the Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins. London: Minerva, 1991.

Reed, John R. "English Imperialism and the Unacknowledged crime of The Moonstone." Clio 2, 3 (June, 1973): 281-290.

Richardson, Betty. "Prisons and Prison Reform." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, ed. Sally Mitchell. London and New York: Garland, 1988. Pp. 638-640.

Stewart, J. I. M. "Introduction." Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966, rpt. 1973. Pp. 7-24.

Stewart, J. I. M. "A Note on Sources." Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966, rpt. 1973. Pp. 527-8.

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.

Winter, William. "Wilkie Collins." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 203-219.

Last updated 2 November 2016