King Solomon's MinesH. Rider Haggard
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KING SOLOMON'S MINES
H. RIDER HAGGARD
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.
This was typed from a 1907 edition published by Cassell and Company, Limited.
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 in years to come it may continue to afford amusement to those who are still young enough at heart to love a story of treasure, war, and wild adventure.
Ditchingham, 11 March, 1898.
Now, in 1907, on the occasion of the issue of this edition, I can only add how glad I am that my romance should continue to please so many readers. Imagination has been verified by fact; the King Solomon's Mines I dreamed of have been discovered, and are putting out their gold once more, and, according to the latest reports, their diamonds also; the Kukuanas or, rather, the Matabele, have been tamed by the white man's bullets, but still there seem to be many who find pleasure in these simple pages. That they may continue so to do, even to the third and fourth generation, or perhaps longer still, would, I am sure, be the hope of our old and departed friend, Allan Quatermain.
H. Rider Haggard. Ditchingham, 1907.
Now that this book is printed, and about to be given to the world, asense of its shortcomings both in style and contents, weighs veryheavily upon me. As regards the latter, I can only say that it does notpretend to be a full account of everything we did and saw. There aremany things connected with our journey into Kukuanaland that I shouldhave liked to dwell upon at length, which, as it is, have been scarcelyalluded to. Amongst these are the curious legends which I collectedabout the chain armour that saved us from destruction in the greatbattle of Loo, and also about the "Silent Ones" or Colossi at the mouthof the stalactite cave. Again, if I had given way to my own impulses, Ishould have wished to go into the differences, some of which are to mymind very suggestive, between the Zulu and Kukuana dialects. Also a fewpages might have been given up profitably to the consideration of theindigenous flora and fauna of Kukuanaland. Then there remains themost interesting subject--that, as it is, has only been touched onincidentally--of the magnificent system of military organisation inforce in that country, which, in my opinion, is much superior to thatinaugurated by Chaka in Zululand, inasmuch as it permits of even morerapid mobilisation, and does not necessitate the employment of thepernicious system of enforced celibacy. Lastly, I have scarcely spokenof the domestic and family customs of the Kukuanas, many of which areexceedingly quaint, or of their proficiency in the art of smelting andwelding metals. This science they carry to considerable perfection, ofwhich a good example is to be seen in their "tollas," or heavy throwingknives, the backs of these weapons being made of hammered iron, and theedges 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 CaptainGood, that the best plan would be to tell my story in a plain,straightforward manner, and to leave these matters to be dealt withsubsequently in whatever way ultimately may appear to be desirable. Inthe meanwhile I shall, of course, be delighted to give all informationin my power to anybody interested in such things.
And now it only remains for me to offer apologies for my blunt way ofwriting. I can but say in excuse of it that I am more accustomed tohandle a rifle than a pen, and cannot make any pretence to the grandliterary flights and flourishes which I see in novels--for sometimes Ilike to read a novel. I suppose they--the flights and flourishes--aredesirable, and I regret not being able to supply them; but at the sametime I cannot help thinking that simple things are always the mostimpressive, and that books are easier to understand when they arewritten in plain language, though perhaps I have no right to set up anopinion on such a matter. "A sharp spear," runs the Kukuana saying,"needs no polish"; and on the same principle I venture to hope that atrue story, however strange it may be, does not require to be deckedout in fine words.
 I discovered eight varieties of antelope, with which I waspreviously totally unacquainted, and many new species of plants, forthe most part of the bulbous tribe.--A.Q.