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.
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."
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.
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.
made a great deal of noise, and, being copied into all the papers, seriously
depressed the advocates of the rash tourist.
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!
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 Englishman."
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
of police was sitting in his office at nine o'clock one evening, when the
following telegraphic dispatch was put into his hands:
Commissioner of Police, Scotland Yard:
the bank robber, Phileas Fogg. Send with out delay warrant of arrest to
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.