The Moonstone, p. 31. 6.5 x 10.1 cm. [Rejected by his own class and prospective brides, old bachelor Sir John Herncastle — dubiously "The Honourable John Herncastle," retired Colonel — is eyed by several curious middle-class pedestrians under a London street-light on one of his rare visits to the metropolis. "There you have the portrait of the man before you, as in a picture: a character that braved every thing; and a face, handsome as it was, that looked possessed by the devil" (31), according to the old family retainer Gabriel Betteredge.] 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.]— uncaptioned vignette for the "The Story. First Period." — seventh illustration in the Doubleday (New York) 1946 edition of
It's an ill bird, they say, that fouls its own nest. I look on the noble family of the Herncastles as being my nest; and I shall take it as a favour if I am not expected to enter into particulars on the subject of the Honourable John. He was, I honestly believe, one of the greatest blackguards that ever lived. I can hardly say more or less for him than that. He went into the army, beginning in the Guards. He had to leave the Guards before he was two-and-twenty — never mind why. They are very strict in the army, and they were too strict for the Honourable John. He went out to India to see whether they were equally strict there, and to try a little active service. In the matter of bravery (to give him his due), he was a mixture of bull-dog and game-cock, with a dash of the savage. He was at the taking of Seringapatam. Soon afterwards he changed into another regiment, and, in course of time, changed into a third. In the third he got his last step as lieutenant-colonel, and, getting that, got also a sunstroke, and came home to England.
He came back with a character that closed the doors of all his family against him, my lady (then just married) taking the lead, and declaring (with Sir John's approval, of course) that her brother should never enter any house of hers. There was more than one slur on the Colonel that made people shy of him; but the blot of the Diamond is all I need mention here.
It was said he had got possession of his Indian jewel by means which, bold as he was, he didn’t dare acknowledge. He never attempted to sell it — not being in need of money, and not (to give him his due again) making money an object. He never gave it away; he never even showed it to any living soul. Some said he was afraid of its getting him into a difficulty with the military authorities; others (very ignorant indeed of the real nature of the man) said he was afraid, if he showed it, of its costing him his life.
There was perhaps a grain of truth mixed up with this last report. It was false to say that he was afraid; but it was a fact that his life had been twice threatened in India; and it was firmly believed that the Moonstone was at the bottom of it. When he came back to England, and found himself avoided by everybody, the Moonstone was thought to be at the bottom of it again. The mystery of the Colonel's life got in the Colonel's way, and outlawed him, as you may say, among his own people. The men wouldn't let him into their clubs; the women — more than one — whom he wanted to marry, refused him; friends and relations got too near-sighted to see him in the street. — "The Story. First Period. Loss of the Diamond (1848). The events related by Gabriel Betteredge, house-steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder," Chapter 5, p. 21.
Shunned by members of his class, alienated at gentlemen's clubs and snubbed by upper-middle-class women, Old Sir John (formerly, "Colonel") Herncastle occasionally goes into London, but for the most part remains on his estate, collecting books and exotic birds, and "smoking opium" (31). In other words, he is very much afflicted with the curse of the Moonstone, over which he has retained ownership, if not custody, "in flat defiance of assassination, in India" and "in flat defiance of public opinion, in England" (31).
Relevant Plates from the 1868 Edition Showing the "Honourable" Sir John.
Left: The original serial wood-engraving in Harper's of Betteredge's refusing to admit an aged John Herncastle at Lady Julia's London townhouse, "My Lady and Miss Rachel regret that they are engaged, Colonel" (11 January 1868). Centre: Another 1868 illustration, this showing Herncastle's dictating his will from his sick-bed, "His will began and ended in three clauses." (18 January 1868). Right: William Sharp's realisation of the scene in which Sir John makes his will, The Making of John Herncastle's Will (1944). [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
- 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)
- George Du Maurier, "Do you think a young lady's advice worth having?" — p. 94.
- Illustrations by F. A. Fraser for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: A Romance (1890)
- Illustrations by John Sloan for Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone: A Romance (1908)
- 1910 illustrations by Alfred Pearse for The Moonstone.
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.
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 29 September 2016