IN WHICH A NEW SPECIES OF FUNDS, UNKNOWN TO THE MONEYED MEN, APPEARS ON
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
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.
This article made a great deal of noise, and, being copied into all the
papers, seriously depressed the advocates of the rash tourist.
Everybody knows that England is the world of betting men, who are of a
higher class than mere gamblers; to bet is in the English temperament.
Not only the members of the Reform, but the general public, made heavy
wagers for or against Phileas Fogg, who was set down in the betting
books as if he were a race-horse. Bonds were issued, and made their
appearance on 'Change; "Phileas Fogg bonds" were offered at par or at a
premium, and a great business was done in them. But five days after
the article in the bulletin of the Geographical Society appeared, the
demand began to subside: "Phileas Fogg" declined. They were offered
by packages, at first of five, then of ten, until at last nobody would
take less than twenty, fifty, a hundred!
Lord Albemarle, an elderly paralytic gentleman, was now the only
advocate of Phileas Fogg left. This noble lord, who was fastened to
his chair, would have given his fortune to be able to make the tour of
the world, if it took ten years; and he bet five thousand pounds on
Phileas Fogg. When the folly as well as the uselessness of the
adventure was pointed out to him, he contented himself with replying,
"If the thing is feasible, the first to do it ought to be an
The Fogg party dwindled more and more, everybody was going against him,
and the bets stood a hundred and fifty and two hundred to one; and a
week after his departure an incident occurred which deprived him of
backers at any price.
The commissioner of police was sitting in his office at nine o'clock
one evening, when the following telegraphic dispatch was put into his
Suez to London.
Rowan, Commissioner of Police, Scotland Yard:
I've found the bank robber, Phileas Fogg. Send with out delay warrant
of arrest to Bombay.
The effect of this dispatch was instantaneous. The polished gentleman
disappeared to give place to the bank robber. His photograph, which
was hung with those of the rest of the members at the Reform Club, was
minutely examined, and it betrayed, feature by feature, the description
of the robber which had been provided to the police. The mysterious
habits of Phileas Fogg were recalled; his solitary ways, his sudden
departure; and it seemed clear that, in undertaking a tour round the
world on the pretext of a wager, he had had no other end in view than
to elude the detectives, and throw them off his track.