King Solomon's Mines
Henry Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham Hall, in Norfolk, in 1856, and received his early education at the Ipswich Grammar School. In 1875 he went to Natal as secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, and in the following year he visited the Transvaal with Sir Theophilus Shepstone.
Returning to England he published, in 1882, his first book, Cetewayo and His White Neighbours, a political history. In 1886 King Solomon's Mines appeared, and won immediate fame. As in the case of Stevenson's "Treasure Island" its author had no idea of the popularity which awaited its issue, and, like that work also, it has been one of the most widely circulating adventure books of recent years.
King Solomon's Mines was written in the short space of three months.
The late Mr. W. E. Henley read it, and formed a high opinion of its merits, and these views were shared by the publishers immediately they saw the manuscript.
Its success was never in doubt. The work was welcomed at its birth by the public, and the press cordially recognised its merits.
Since the advent of King Solomon's Mines, Mr. Haggard has written many thrilling romances, novels which have circulated largely, and books on Agriculture which have achieved distinction. He has visited many lands, and the scenes in his novels picture many countries, but to Africa, the land of his greatest triumphs, he turns again and again for inspiration in projecting his famous romances.
CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD.
LONDON, PARIS, NEW YORK,
TORONTO & MELBOURNE
THIS FAITHFUL BUT UNPRETENDING RECORD
OF A REMARKABLE ADVENTURE
IS HEREBY RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
BY THE NARRATOR
TO ALL THE BIG AND LITTLE BOYS
WHO READ IT
The author ventures to take this opportunity to thank his readers for the kind reception they have accorded to the successive editions of this tale during the last twelve years. He hopes that in its present form it will fall into the hands of an even wider public, and that it may in years to come continue to afford amusement to those who are still young enough at heart to love a story of treasure, war, and wild adventure.
11th March 1898.
H. RIDER HAGGARD.
15th July 1905.
Now that this book is printed, and about to be given to the world, a sense of its shortcomings, both in style and contents, weighs very heavily upon me. As regards the latter, I can only say that it does not pretend to be a full account of everything we did and saw. There are many things connected with our journey into Kukuanaland that I should have liked to dwell upon at length, which, as it is, have been scarcely alluded to. Amongst these are the curious legends which I collected about the chain armour that saved us from destruction in the great battle of Loo, and also about the "Silent Ones" or Colossi at the mouth of the stalactite cave. Again, if I had given way to my own impulses, I should have wished to go into the differences, some of which are to my mind very suggestive, between the Zulu and Kukuana dialects. Also a few pages might have been given up profitably to the consideration of the indigenous flora and fauna of Kukuanaland. Then there remains the most interesting subject—that, as it is, has only been touched on incidentally—of the magnificent system of military organisation in force in that country, which, in my opinion, is much superior to that inaugurated by Chaka in Zululand, inasmuch as it permits of even more rapid mobilisation, and does not necessitate the employment of the pernicious system of forced celibacy. Lastly, I have scarcely spoken of the domestic and family customs of the Kukuanas, many of which are exceedingly quaint, or of their proficiency in the art of smelting and welding metals. This science they carry to considerable perfection, of which a good example is to be seen in their "tollas," or heavy throwing knives, the backs of these weapons being made of hammered iron, and the edges of beautiful steel welded with great skill on to the iron frames. The fact of the matter is, I thought, with Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, that the best plan would be to tell my story in a plain straightforward manner, and to leave these matters to be dealt with subsequently in whatever way ultimately may appear to be desirable. In the meanwhile I shall, of course, be delighted to give all information in my power to anybody interested in such things.
And now it only remains for me to offer apologies for my blunt way of writing. I can but say in excuse of it that I am more accustomed to handle a rifle than a pen, and cannot make any pretence to the grand literary flights and flourishes which I see in novels—for sometimes I like to read a novel. I suppose they—the flights and flourishes—are desirable, and I regret not being able to supply them; but at the same time I cannot help thinking that simple things are always the most impressive, and that books are easier to understand when they are written in plain language, though perhaps I have no right to set up an opinion on such a matter. "A sharp spear," runs the Kukuana saying, "needs no polish"; and on the same principle I venture to hope that a true story, however strange it may be, does not require to be decked out in fine words.
- I discovered eight varieties of antelope, with which I was previously totally unacquainted, and many new species of plants, for the most part of the bulbous tribe.—A. Q.