Jules Verne

Jules Verne

Jules Verne on human agency

“Well, Henry, my boy,” he said, in a cheerful way, “we must make up our minds.”

“Make up our minds to what?” I asked, in considerable surprise.

“Well—to something. We must at whatever risk recruit our physical strength. If we make the fatal mistake of husbanding our little remnant of food, we may probably prolong our wretched existence a few hours—but we shall remain weak to the end.”

“Yes,” I growled, “to the end. That, however, will not keep us long waiting.”

“Well, only let a chance of safety present itself,—only allow that a moment of action be necessary,—where shall we find the means of action if we allow ourselves to be reduced to physical weakness by inanition?”

“When this piece of meat is devoured, uncle, what hope will there remain unto us?”

“None, my dear Henry, none. But will it do you any good to devour it with your eyes? You appear to me to reason like one without will or decision, like a being without energy.”

“Then,” cried I, exasperated to a degree which is scarcely to be explained, “you do not mean to tell me—that you—that you—have not lost all hope.”

“Certainly not,” replied the Professor, with consummate coolness.

“You mean to tell me, uncle, that we shall get out of this monstrous subterranean shaft?”

“While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert, Henry, that as long as a man’s heart beats, as long as a man’s flesh quivers, I do not allow that a being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair.”
Jules Verne in A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 280. First published as Voyage au centre de la terre, edited by Pierre-Jules Hetzel, (18, rue Jacob, Paris: Bibliothèque d’éducation et de récréation, 1864).