The People of the Abyss by Jack London


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The People of the Abyss, 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

Title: The People of the Abyss

Author: Jack London

Release Date: March 20, 2005 [eBook #1688]

Language: English

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


Transcribed from the Thomas Nelson and Sons edition by David Price, email


The chief priests and rulers cry:-

"O Lord and Master, not ours the guilt,
We build but as our fathers built;
Behold thine images how they stand
Sovereign and sole through all our land.

"Our task is hard--with sword and flame,
To hold thine earth forever the same,
And with sharp crooks of steel to keep,
Still as thou leftest them, thy sheep."

Then Christ sought out an artisan,
A low-browed, stunted, haggard man,
And a motherless girl whose fingers thin
Crushed from her faintly want and sin.

These set he in the midst of them,
And as they drew back their garment hem
For fear of defilement, "Lo, here," said he,
"The images ye have made of me."



The experiences related in this volume fell to me in the summer of 1902.
I went down into the under-world of London with an attitude of mind which
I may best liken to that of the explorer. I was open to be convinced by
the evidence of my eyes, rather than by the teachings of those who had
not seen, or by the words of those who had seen and gone before. Further,
I took with me certain simple criteria with which to measure the life of
the under-world. That which made for more life, for physical and
spiritual health, was good; that which made for less life, which hurt,
and dwarfed, and distorted life, was bad.

It will be readily apparent to the reader that I saw much that was bad.
Yet it must not be forgotten that the time of which I write was
considered "good times" in England. The starvation and lack of shelter I
encountered constituted a chronic condition of misery which is never
wiped out, even in the periods of greatest prosperity.

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