“On my asking who Mr. Kurtz was, he said he was a first-class agent; and seeing my disappointment at this information, he added slowly, laying down his pen, `He is a very remarkable person.' Further questions elicited from him that Mr. Kurtz was at present in charge of a trading post, a very important one, in the true ivory-country, at `the very bottom of there. “
“There wererumors that a very important station was in jeopardy, and its chief, Mr. Kurtz, was ill. Hoped it was not true. Mr. Kurtz was . . . I felt weary and irritable. Hang Kurtz, I thought. I interrupted him by saying I had heard of Mr. Kurtz on the coast. `Ah! So they talk of him down there,' he murmured to himself. Then he began again, assuring me Mr. Kurtz was the best agent he had, an exceptional man,of the greatest importance to the Company;”
who is this Mr. Kurtz?'
"`The chief of the Inner Station,' he answered in a short tone, looking away.
“He is a prodigy,' he said at last. `He is an emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and devil knows what else. We want,' he began to declaim suddenly, `for the guidance of the cause entrusted to us by Europe, so to speak, higherintelligence, wide sympathies, a singleness of purpose.' `Who says that?' I asked. `Lots of them,' he replied. `Some even write that; and so he comes here, a special being, as you ought to know.' `Why ought I to know?' I interrupted, really surprised. He paid no attention. `Yes. Today he is chief of the best station, next year he will be assistant-manager, two years more and . . . but I dare say you knowwhat he will be in two years' time. You are of the new gang--the gang of virtue.”
“Mr. Kurtz was a `universal genius,' but even a genius would find it easier to work with `adequate tools--intelligent men.' “
You should have heard him say, `My ivory.' Oh yes, I heard him. `My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my--' everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation ofhearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places.
"'I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. And he had written it too. I’ve seen it. I’ve read it. It was eloquent, vibrating with eloquence, but toohigh-strung, I think. Seventeen pages of close writing he had found time for! But this must have been before his— let us say— nerves, went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which—as far as I reluctantly gathered from what I heard at various times— were offered up to him—do you understand?—to Mr. Kurtz himself. But it was a beautiful piece ofwriting. The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous. He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, "must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings—we approach them with the might as of a deity," and so on, and so on. "By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a powerfor good practically unbounded," &c., &c. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence—of words— of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt themagic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: "Exterminate all the brutes!"'" (49-50).