A Collection of Stories by Jack London

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Human Drift, by Jack London

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: The Human Drift

Author: Jack London

Release Date: April 27, 2005 [eBook #1669]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1919 Mills and Boon edition by David Price, email

by Jack London


The Human Drift
Small-Boat Sailing
Four Horses and a Sailor
Nothing that Ever Came to Anything
That Dead Men Rise up Never
A Classic of the Sea
A Wicked Woman (Curtain Raiser)
The Birth Mark (Sketch)


"The Revelations of Devout and Learn'd
Who rose before us, and as Prophets Burn'd,
Are all but stories, which, awoke from Sleep,
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return'd."

The history of civilisation is a history of wandering, sword in hand, in
search of food. In the misty younger world we catch glimpses of phantom
races, rising, slaying, finding food, building rude civilisations,
decaying, falling under the swords of stronger hands, and passing utterly
away. Man, like any other animal, has roved over the earth seeking what
he might devour; and not romance and adventure, but the hunger-need, has
urged him on his vast adventures. Whether a bankrupt gentleman sailing
to colonise Virginia or a lean Cantonese contracting to labour on the
sugar plantations of Hawaii, in each case, gentleman and coolie, it is a
desperate attempt to get something to eat, to get more to eat than he can
get at home.

It has always been so, from the time of the first pre-human anthropoid
crossing a mountain-divide in quest of better berry-bushes beyond, down
to the latest Slovak, arriving on our shores to-day, to go to work in the
coal-mines of Pennsylvania. These migratory movements of peoples have
been called drifts, and the word is apposite. Unplanned, blind,
automatic, spurred on by the pain of hunger, man has literally drifted
his way around the planet. There have been drifts in the past,
innumerable and forgotten, and so remote that no records have been left,
or composed of such low-typed humans or pre-humans that they made no
scratchings on stone or bone and left no monuments to show that they had

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 18th Mar 2018, 18:58