Erewhon HTML version
1. Waste Lands
If the reader will excuse me, I will say nothing of my antecedents, nor of the
circumstances which led me to leave my native country; the narrative would be tedious to
him and painful to myself. Suffice it, that when I left home it was with the intention of
going to some new colony, and either finding, or even perhaps purchasing, waste crown
land suitable for cattle or sheep farming, by which means I thought that I could better my
fortunes more rapidly than in England.
It will be seen that I did not succeed in my design, and that however much I may have
met with that was new and strange, I have been unable to reap any pecuniary advantage.
It is true, I imagine myself to have made a discovery which, if I can be the first to profit
by it, will bring me a recompense beyond all money computation, and secure me a
position such as has not been attained by more than some fifteen or sixteen persons, since
the creation of the universe. But to this end I must possess myself of a considerable sum
of money: neither do I know how to get it, except by interesting the public in my story,
and inducing the charitable to come forward and assist me. With this hope I now publish
my adventures; but I do so with great reluctance, for I fear that my story will be doubted
unless I tell the whole of it; and yet I dare not do so, lest others with more means than
mine should get the start of me. I prefer the risk of being doubted to that of being
anticipated, and have therefore concealed my destination on leaving England, as also the
point from which I began my more serious and difficult journey.
My chief consolation lies in the fact that truth bears its own impress, and that my story
will carry conviction by reason of the internal evidences for its accuracy. No one who is
himself honest will doubt my being so.
I reached my destination in one of the last months of 1868, but I dare not mention the
season, lest the reader should gather in which hemisphere I was. The colony was one
which had not been opened up even to the most adventurous settlers for more than eight
or nine years, having been previously uninhabited, save by a few tribes of savages who
frequented the seaboard. The part known to Europeans consisted of a coast-line about
eight hundred miles in length (affording three or four good harbours), and a tract of
country extending inland for a space varying from two to three hundred miles, until it a
reached the offshoots of an exceedingly lofty range of mountains, which could be seen
from far out upon the plains, and were covered with perpetual snow. The coast was
perfectly well known both north and south of the tract to which I have alluded, but in
neither direction was there a single harbour for five hundred miles, and the mountains,
which descended almost into the sea, were covered with thick timber, so that none would
think of settling.
With this bay of land, however, the case was different. The harbours were sufficient; the
country was timbered, but not too heavily; it was admirably suited for agriculture; it also