The Moonstone

The Moonstone

Colonel John Herncastle Character Analysis

Rachel Verinder’s sinister and selfish brother, who robs the Moonstone from the palace of Seringapatnam during his time in the British Army, as recounted in the novel’s prologue, and brings it back to England, where it seems to curse him for the rest of his life: his family and friends shun him and he receives a number of death threats, even though he never publicly reveals that he still has the Diamond. At the end of his “solitary, vicious, underground life,” he gifts the Moonstone to Rachel in what he claims is an act of charity and forgiveness but the Verinders quickly identify as a final attempt at vengeance. (Indeed, he makes this gift upon his death on the sole condition that Julia is still living; otherwise, he planned to have the stone cut up into smaller ones and sold.) He shares the nickname “the Honourable John” with the British East India Company, which ruled and plundered India until 1857—Collins uses this name to make Herncastle’s behavior an allegory for the British Empire’s systematic bloodthirstiness, immorality, and greed in India.

Colonel John Herncastle Quotes in The Moonstone

The The Moonstone quotes below are all either spoken by Colonel John Herncastle or refer to Colonel John Herncastle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Detective Methods and Genre Standards Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Moonstone published in 1999.
Prologue: 3 Quotes

The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!

Related Characters: Colonel John Herncastle
Related Symbols: The Moonstone
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Loss of the Diamond: 5 Quotes
If he was right, here was our quiet English house suddenly invaded by a devilish Indian Diamond—bringing after it a conspiracy of living rogues, set loose on us by the vengeance of a dead man.
Related Symbols: The Moonstone
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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Colonel John Herncastle Character Timeline in The Moonstone

The timeline below shows where the character Colonel John Herncastle appears in The Moonstone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: The Storming of Seringapatam: Chapter 1
Detective Methods and Genre Standards Theme Icon
British Imperialism Theme Icon
...English family from India in an attempt to explain how he and his cousin John Herncastle grew apart during their involvement in the attack on the Palace of Seringapatam in 1799.... (full context)
Prologue: The Storming of Seringapatam: Chapter 3
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When this story was told in the army camp, the narrator continues, John Herncastle was the only one to take it seriously, because of his “love of the marvelous.”... (full context)
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Intention, Identity, and Personality Theme Icon
British Imperialism Theme Icon
The narrator heard a cry from across the palace and discovered John Herncastle holding the bloody dagger above the body of an Indian who proclaimed, “The Moonstone will... (full context)
Prologue: The Storming of Seringapatam: Chapter 4
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Intention, Identity, and Personality Theme Icon
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...final section, the narrator explains that he could make no recourse to his superiors about Herncastle’s behavior, and that Herncastle is trying to switch to another regiment in order to get... (full context)
The Loss of the Diamond: Gabriel Betteredge: Chapter 1
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Intention, Identity, and Personality Theme Icon
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Class, Wealth, and Nobility Theme Icon
...experience extends, and no farther.” The first document shall be the “prefatory narrative” about how Herncastle, Blake’s uncle, obtained the Diamond. Two years ago, the Diamond came to Lady Verinder’s house,... (full context)
The Loss of the Diamond: Gabriel Betteredge: Chapter 5
Intention, Identity, and Personality Theme Icon
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...the men were talking about: the Diamond, originally owned by Franklin’s uncle “the wicked Colonel” Herncastle, who has sent Franklin to bring it to Rachel as a birthday present. (full context)
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Betteredge is astonished at Franklin’s revelation—and most of all the fact that Franklin’s father became Herncastle’s executor. But Franklin says he has more information and asks Betteredge why he called Herncastle... (full context)
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It is, however, suspected that John Herncastle’s two death threats in India and ostracism in England had something to do with the... (full context)
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...a conspiracy about the Diamond in India, has this conspiracy come to England, and is the Colonel using this conspiracy to scorn Julia? Betteredge is shocked and wonders if it was possible... (full context)
The Loss of the Diamond: Gabriel Betteredge: Chapter 6
Science and Religion Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Nobility Theme Icon
...Franklin learned after revealing to the family lawyer Mr. Bruff that he was to deliver Herncastle’s present to Rachel. It turned out that, when Herncastle came back to England, Franklin’s father... (full context)
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Everything went as planned—Franklin the Senior guarded the Diamond, and Herncastle sent his periodic letters—until a few months before Betteredge’s meeting with Franklin the Junior. At... (full context)
Intention, Identity, and Personality Theme Icon
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...Out of curiosity, he read the sealed instructions to be followed in the case of Herncastle’s murder: the Moonstone would be cut into a number of smaller stones and sold away.... (full context)
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...to the question of the Colonel’s motives, and Betteredge includes the full third clause of Herncastle’s will in his testimony, which specifies that the Diamond will only be gifted to Rachel... (full context)
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Betteredge is baffled. Franklin asks whether Betteredge thinks he is carrying out Herncastle’s vengeance or repentance, but he dodges the question. Franklin asks why Herncastle would leave the... (full context)
The Loss of the Diamond: Gabriel Betteredge: Chapter 9
Detective Methods and Genre Standards Theme Icon
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...“mere carbon” and carries on with grace.) At their meeting, Julia is deeply pessimistic about Herncastle’s gift; Franklin confronts Betteredge on his way out, asking about Rachel and Godfrey’s whereabouts. And... (full context)
The Loss of the Diamond: Gabriel Betteredge: Chapter 10
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...they would not think twice about it and suggests the Diamond be divided up, as Herncastle had planned in the case of Rachel or Julia’s death. (full context)
The Loss of the Diamond: Gabriel Betteredge: Chapter 23
Intention, Identity, and Personality Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Nobility Theme Icon
...estate with the Diamond, and how the jewel has torn the family apart (just as Herncastle would have wanted). As the house staff bids him goodbye, Betteredge asks where he is... (full context)
The Discovery of the Truth: First Narrative: Miss Clack: Chapter 8
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...because he was self-made and not of noble birth. He declares that Rachel has “the Herncastle blood.” She and Bruff dismiss him as he grows more and more furious. (full context)
The Discovery of the Truth: Second Narrative: Mathew Bruff: Chapter 2
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...mere curiosity” is justifiable because of Bruff’s connection to the Moonstone mystery: he was also Herncastle’s lawyer and played a key role in convincing Franklin Blake to bring the Moonstone to... (full context)
The Discovery of the Truth: Second Narrative: Mathew Bruff: Chapter 3
Detective Methods and Genre Standards Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Nobility Theme Icon
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...that the three Indians are too young to be the same ones who followed Colonel Herncastle to England after he stole the Diamond from India, and that they must instead be... (full context)
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Murthwaite and Bruff agree that Herncastle’s death was the Indians’ first opportunity to take the Diamond, and that the Indians could... (full context)