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The Coming Race
Edward Bulwer Lytton
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The Vril-ya, being excluded from all sight of the heavenly bodies, and having no other
difference between night and day than that which they deem it convenient to make for
themselves,- do not, of course, arrive at their divisions of time by the same process that
we do; but I found it easy by the aid of my watch, which I luckily had about me, to
compute their time with great nicety. I reserve for a future work on the science and
literature of the Vril-ya, should I live to complete it, all details as to the manner in which
they arrive at their rotation of time; and content myself here with saying, that in point of
duration, their year differs very slightly from ours, but that the divisions of their year are
by no means the same. Their day, (including what we call night) consists of twenty hours
of our time, instead of twenty-four, and of course their year comprises the correspondent
increase in the number of days by which it is summed up. They subdivide the twenty
hours of their day thus- eight hours,* called the "Silent Hours," for repose; eight hours,
called the "Earnest Time," for the pursuits and occupations of life; and four hours called
the "Easy Time" (with which what I may term their day closes), allotted to festivities,
sport, recreation, or family converse, according to their several tastes and inclinations.
* For the sake of convenience, I adopt the word hours, days, years, &c., in any general
reference to subdivisions of time among the Vril-ya; those terms but loosely
corresponding, however, with such subdivisions.
But, in truth, out of doors there is no night. They maintain, both in the streets and in the
surrounding country, to the limits of their territory, the same degree of light at all hours.
Only, within doors, they lower it to a soft twilight during the Silent Hours. They have a
great horror of perfect darkness, and their lights are never wholly extinguished. On
occasions of festivity they continue the duration of full light, but equally keep note of the
distinction between night and day, by mechanical contrivances which answer the purpose
of our clocks and watches. They are very fond of music; and it is by music that these
chronometers strike the principal division of time. At every one of their hours, during
their day, the sounds coming from all the time-pieces in their public buildings, and caught
up, as it were, by those of houses or hamlets scattered amidst the landscapes without the
city, have an effect singularly sweet, and yet singularly solemn. But during the Silent
Hours these sounds are so subdued as to be only faintly heard by a waking ear. They have
no change of seasons, and, at least on the territory of this tribe, the atmosphere seemed to
me very equable, warm as that of an Italian summer, and humid rather than dry; in the
forenoon usually very still, but at times invaded by strong blasts from the rocks that made
the borders of their domain. But time is the same to them for sowing or reaping as in the
Golden Isles of the ancient poets. At the same moment you see the younger plants in
blade or bud, the older in ear or fruit. All fruit-bearing plants, however, after fruitage,
either shed or change the colour of their leaves. But that which interested me most in
reckoning up their divisions of time was the ascertainment of the average duration of life
amongst them. I found on minute inquiry that this very considerably exceeded the term
allotted to us on the upper earth. What seventy years are to us, one hundred years are to
them. Nor is this the only advantage they have over us in longevity, for as few among us