9.2.1 Rider Haggard
Henry Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham near Thetford. His notions about nature came from the intensively farmed border lands along the edges of the Waveney valley, the county boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk. His boyhood impressions came from his father's Brandenham Hall estate, and in later life, from his work as a tenant farmer at Ditchingham Hall. Here his particular neighbourhood was at a point where the Norfolk and Suffolk clay-edge landscapes become one.
It seems that it is from his mother than Haggard drew his imaginative and literarary talents. She wrote poems and songs which were published in various journals and it was a year after Henry's birth that she published with Longman her first poem in book form entitled 'Myra', or the 'Rose of the East: A Tale of the Afghan War'. The poem concerned the Kabul campaign of 1842. It also reflected on the 'mysterious law' or purpose of the universe which was one of the central themes that Haggard was to develop in his fiction.
Time passes- silently but swift
And down its mighty current drift
The circling worlds on high;
We gaze upon them till some spark
Becoming till now, extinguished dark
A blank leaves in the sky;
That which our hearts stand still with dread
We think, that orb's bright course is sped
Our haven may be nigh;
And hush our souls in silent awe
And muse on thy mysterious law
Unknown Eternity.
The poem is a beautifully worded plea for humility during the period when science was becoming the new religion and the findings of Charles Darwin (1809-82) on the origin of the species and the law of natural selection were still being fiercely debated.
It is interesting that, like his mother, Henry became intrigued with spiritual ideas raised by the concept of evolution.  She says that science can explain 'how' but not 'why'.
"Is Nature God?
Are gases reigning laws?
Atoms fortuitous - the Great First Cause?"
In the last speech he was to make, in November 1924, Haggard tried to come to terms with his powerful imagination.
"Imagination is power which comes from we know not where. Perhaps it is existent but ungrasped truth, a gap in the curtain of the unseen which sometimes presses so nearly upon us. It means suffering, but it also means vision, and is not light better than darkness? Who knows its object? No man: but it may be that those who possess it are gates through which the forces of good and evil flow down in strength upon the world: instruments innocent of their destiny. For it seems to me as I grow old that the spirit of man is like those great icebergs which float in Arctic seas - towering masses of glittering blue-green ice, which yet hide four fifths of their bulk beneath the water. It is the hidden power of the spirit which connects the visible and the invisible: which hears the still small voice calling from the infinite".
No doubt, under the influence of her father, these notional appraisals of nature were continued by Lilias Haggard, Haggard's youngest daughter. In a diary which she wrote for the local newspaper, she added her own personal spiritual values to commonplace things in garden and countryside around Ditchingham, and the Norfolk and Suffolk coastlands.
Lilias, describes her notions on an Easter Sunday facing the imminent horrors of a world war.
"Easter Sunday and the first day of real spring weather. The garden, held back by so much cold sunlessness, gloried in the warmth, and the air was filled with the scent of the long lines of heavy- headed hyacinths, pink and purple, blue, white and palest yellow. It was a day full of those small things, forgotten through long weeks of winter, which come back to one with a little shock of joyful surprise. The loveliness of the first brimstone butterfly, questing over purple aubretias, and primroses just one clear pale shade lighter than its saffron wings. The queer resonant croaking of a toad from the dyke, the deep hum of the velvet-bodied bumble bees, working patiently in the lilac blossoms of the lowly ground-ivy, to fill their little waxen honey pots against a rainy day. The swift double note of the chiff-chaff, earliest of all our warblers to arrive, as he and his mate slipped along the branches of the wild cherry, once more breaking into blossom, a white foam against the unleafed woods. As dusk fell I stood by the pool watching the dace rising joyfully after fly-the steady plop-plop breaking the glassy surface of the water for a moment only, for it was very still. A day full of the sacrament of common things, those things which, in spite of unrest and anxiety-wars and rumours of wars, and all the fret and fever with which man surrounds his little life-are always there if you pause to look for them.
Part of that secret kingdom which, as Mary Webb, writing about her closed 19th century rural world of Shropshire, says, 'Sends one man to the wilds, another to dig a garden, that sings in a musician's brain, that inspires a pagan to build an alter, and the child to make a cowslip ball."