Around the World in 80 Days HTML version

Chapter 5
Phileas Fogg rightly suspected that his departure from London would create a lively
sensation at the West End. The news of the bet spread through the Reform Club, and
afforded an exciting topic of conversation to its members. From the club it soon got into
the papers throughout England. The boasted "tour of the world" was talked about,
disputed, argued with as much warmth as if the subject were another Alabama claim.
Some took sides with Phileas Fogg, but the large majority shook their heads and declared
against him; it was absurd, impossible, they declared, that the tour of the world could be
made, except theoretically and on paper, in this minimum of time, and with the existing
means of travelling. The Times, Standard, Morning Post, and Daily News, and twenty
other highly respectable newspapers scouted Mr. Fogg's project as madness; the Daily
Telegraph alone hesitatingly supported him. People in general thought him a lunatic, and
blamed his Reform Club friends for having accepted a wager which betrayed the mental
aberration of its proposer.
Articles no less passionate than logical appeared on the question, for geography is one of
the pet subjects of the English; and the columns devoted to Phileas Fogg's venture were
eagerly devoured by all classes of readers. At first some rash individuals, principally of
the gentler sex, espoused his cause, which became still more popular when the Illustrated
London News came out with his portrait, copied from a photograph in the Reform Club.
A few readers of the Daily Telegraph even dared to say, "Why not, after all? Stranger
things have come to pass."
At last a long article appeared, on the 7th of October, in the bulletin of the Royal
Geographical Society, which treated the question from every point of view, and
demonstrated the utter folly of the enterprise.
Everything, it said, was against the travellers, every obstacle imposed alike by man and
by nature. A miraculous agreement of the times of departure and arrival, which was
impossible, was absolutely necessary to his success. He might, perhaps, reckon on the
arrival of trains at the designated hours, in Europe, where the distances were relatively
moderate; but when he calculated upon crossing India in three days, and the United States
in seven, could he rely beyond misgiving upon accomplishing his task? There were
accidents to machinery, the liability of trains to run off the line, collisions, bad weather,
the blocking up by snow--were not all these against Phileas Fogg? Would he not find
himself, when travelling by steamer in winter, at the mercy of the winds and fogs? Is it
uncommon for the best ocean steamers to be two or three days behind time? But a single
delay would suffice to fatally break the chain of communication; should Phileas Fogg
once miss, even by an hour; a steamer, he would have to wait for the next, and that would
irrevocably render his attempt vain.