The following pages were found in the attic of an old house in Amiens. They
have kindly been translated for us by M. Hudson of the Franco-Britannic
Institute, 47 Russell Square. The conversation apparently took place at the
whist table near the beginning of "Around the World in Eighty Days".
"But", interjected Andrew Stuart, "how are you to keep track of all the
different modes of transport you will need to employ. You certainly will
need a 'social secretary' to accomplish that purpose."
"Not at all", replied Phileas Fogg, "for those most enterprising
individuals at 'Bradshaws' each have each month compiled such a compendium
of rail and steam ship routes that the traveller is immediately aprised of
the departure of every train in the world to the nearest minute, and every
steamer or paquet-boat to the nearest quarter-hour."
"And the timekeeping?" added John Sullivan. "Travelling so rapidly across
countries and continents, you will be hard pressed to know the time of day,
for as you know each place in the world prefers to keep its own time, and
you will hardly know even when it is time to take your dinner."
"The problem is as you describe", responded Phileas Fogg. "For although
Omar the Tentmaker resolved the problem of timekeeping some centuries ago,
every place in the world considers itself the most important, and therefore
considers noon to be that time at which the sun is nearest overhead. The
problem is not less with the origin of our degrees of longitude which the
British consider to commence at their observatory at Greenwich and the
French, with their observatory at Sevres, naturally choose Paris for their
origin of longitude. Not to mention the other cities such as Rome,
Copenhagen, Jerusalem, St. Petersburg, Philadelphia which have also claimed
"However, for the practical problem of keeping time as we traverse the
globe, there is a very simple solution. Our London watchmakers, since the
invention of M. John Harrison a century ago has liberated them from the
pendulum, are now able to construct pocket chronometers of such accuracy
that they do not deviate from true time more than a minute in the month.
And as our Messers. Bradshaw have kindly provided us with a table of time
adjustments for the various parts of the world, it is only necessary that
we maintain two timepieces to have the most accurate information available.
I shall carry one set to our time at Greenwich, and Passepartout shall
carry one which he shall adjust periodically to our local time. As to when
it is time for dinner, then, I have only to ask Passepartout to inform me!
"And if such accuracy is not enough, we shall, thanks to the enterprise of
the American, Mr. Cyrus Field, who with the assistance of that floating
village the 'Great Eastern' has connected the shores of the Atlantic by
telegraph, be able to synchronize our watches with London to the nearest
fraction of a second once we reach the North American continent, for a
signal sent from London will reach the west coast of America with a
velocity so rapid that it has not proved possible to measure.
"We shall therefore be able to register our arrival in London at the Reform
Club to the merest fraction of a minute. And now Monsieur Stuart, it is
N M Wolcott nwolcott~at~post.harvard.edu (primary mail forwarding
2 meg max); nwolcott~at~capaccess.org (2ndary forwarder,?max)
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Received on Mon 06 Apr 1998 - 20:04:00 IDT