H. Rider Haggard: Allan Quatermain


A novelist is not usually asked, like a historian, for his 'Quellen'. As I have, however, judging from certain experiences in the past, some reason to anticipate such a demand, I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr Thomson's admirable history of travel 'Through Masai Land' for much information as to the habits and customs of the tribes inhabiting that portion of the East Coast, and the country where they live; also to my brother, John G. Haggard, RN, HBM's consul at Madagascar, and formerly consul at Lamu, for many details furnished by him of the mode of life and war of those engaging people the Masai; also to my sister-in-law, John Haggard, who kindly put the lines of p. 183 into rhyme for me; also to an extract in a review from some book of travel of which I cannot recollect the name, to which I owe the idea of the great crabs in the valley of the subterranean river. {Endnote 23} But if I remember right, the crabs in the book when irritated projected their eyes quite out of their heads. I regret that I was not able to 'plagiarize' this effect, but I felt that, although crabs may, and doubtless do, behave thus in real life, in romance they 'will not do so.'

There is an underground river in 'Peter Wilkins', but at the time of writing the foregoing pages I had not read that quaint but entertaining work.

It has been pointed out to me that there exists a similarity between the scene of Umslopogaas frightening Alphonse with his axe and a scene in Far from the Madding Crowd. I regret this coincidence, and believe that the talented author of that work will not be inclined to accuse me of literary immorality on its account.

Finally, I may say that Mr Quatermain's little Frenchman appears to belong to the same class of beings as those English ladies whose long yellow teeth and feet of enormous size excite our hearty amusement in the pages of the illustrated Gallic press.

The Writer of 'Allan Quatermain'

Endnote 1

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