King Solomon’s Mines. H. Rider Haggard.


I saw this mentioned on another blog as a good adventure story, and felt like I needed a break from my non-fiction reading.  Not a bad yarn, but what is up with so many stories using prior knowledge of solar eclipses as escape mechanisms or shows of superiority?

Anyway, some quotes (as there’s not much more to say):

…there is no journey upon this earth that a man may not take if he sets his heart to it.  There is nothing … that he cannot do, there are no mountains he may not climb, there are no deserts he cannot cross, save a mountain and a desert of which you are spared the knowledge, if love leads him and he holds his life in his hands counting it as nothing, ready to keep it or lose it as Heaven above may order.”

What is life?  Tell me … [ you ] who are wise, who know the secrets of the world, and of the world of stars, and the world that lies above and around the stars; who flash your words from afar without a voice; tell me … the secret of our life — whither it goes and whence it comes!  You cannot answer me; you know not.  Listen, I will answer.  Out of the dark we came, into the dark we go.  Like a storm-driven bird at night we fly out of the Nowhere; for a moment our wings are see in the light of the fire, and lo!we are gone again into the Nowhere.  Life is nothing.  Life is all.  It is the Hand with which we hold off Death.  It is the glow-worm that shines in the nighttime and is black in the morning; it is the white breath of the oxen in winter, it is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset.”

Our future was so completely unknown, and I think that the unknown and the awful always bring a man nearer to his Maker.”

Yet man dies not whilst the world, at once his mother and his monument, remains.  His name is lost, indeed, but the breath he breathed still stirs the pine-tops on the mountains, the sound of the words he spoke yet echoes on through space; the thoughts his brain gave birth to we have inherited today; his passions are our cause of life;  the joys and sorrows he knew are our familiar friends — the end from which he fled aghast will surely overtake us also!”

… how little we think of others when our own safety, pride, or reputation is in questions…”

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