Phileas Fogg rightly suspected that his departure from London would create a lively sensation. The news of the bet spread through the Reform Club, and got into the papers throughout England. The boasted "tour of the world" was talked about, disputed and argued by many. Some took sides with Phileas Fogg, but the large majority shook their heads and declared against him. Those who did not support him declared, that the tour of the world could be made, but only theoretically. Numerous articles in papers debated the question of the possibility of such a journey. The ladies supported Fogg after seeing a picture of his handsome figure.
At last a long article appeared, on the 7 th 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 showed how Fogg would have to mathematically jump from trains to ships and so on to be able to accomplish the task at hand. It pointed out the many obstacles that would be faced. This article made a great deal of noise, and, being copied into all the papers, seriously depressed the advocates of the rash tourist.
England is the world of betting men, who are of a higher class than mere gamblers. 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. Though after the article, the value of Fogg stock declined. Lord Albemarle, an elderly paralytic gentleman, was now the only advocate of Phileas Fogg left. He felt that if the journey could be accomplished, an Englishman should complete it first. 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 received the following telegraphic dispatch:- Suez. Rowan, Chief of Police, Scotland Yard, London. 'Am shadowing bank thief, Phileas Fogg. Send without delay warrant for arrest Bombay .Detective Fix'
The effect of this dispatch was instantaneous. The polished gentleman disappeared to give place to the bank robber. His photograph 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 no other end in view than to elude the detectives, and throw them off his track.
After Fogg left London, the news of his wager with the other Reform Club members and the fact that he was attempting to go around the world in eighty days spread around. It became a national pastime to discuss Fogg and his seemingly impossible endeavor. What is remarkable about Jules Verne and his description of the excitement caused by Fogg, is the fact that he is able to do it in such few words. In just a few paragraphs, the author manages to paint the picture of England as it was then as well as its favorite hobby of betting. The general consensus amongst the public is that a journey around the world in eighty days is possible, but only on paper. The newspapers took a great interest in analyzing the pros and cons of the matter. 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. By describing such events at London, Verne manages to universalize Fogg’s lone effort. While the story primarily revolves around Fogg, the mention of those around him proceeds to add interest to the narrative.
Articles no less passionate than logical appeared on the question of Fogg’s effort, 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."
But, some time later a rational article appeared in the bulletin of the Royal Geographical Society. Everything, it said, was against the travelers, and it highlighted every obstacle imposed alike by man and by nature in the attempted journey. It emphasized that a miraculous agreement of the times of departure and arrival, which was impossible, was absolutely necessary to Fogg’s 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 not 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.
Thus, the reader is aware of the hindrances in the path before the obstacles actually appear in route for Fogg. The novel sees travel around the world, but is basically based in England. The English sentiment is written about. Jules writes - " to bet is in the English temperament". 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!
Only one staunch supporter of Fogg remained - Lord Albemarle. 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."
A surprising development takes place in this chapter. A detective sends a telegram that Fogg is the robber of the famous Bank of England robbery. Even the reader does not know what to make of it and Jules Verne successfully manages to create suspense here. We all wait with bated breath and wonder whether it could be possible that Fogg be a robber. After all, no one knows the source of his wealth, not even the reader. The idea of Fogg being a high-class thief is a very romantic one. We are eager to know what shall happen next and whether Fogg’s journey is merely a hoax to escape the police.
Staff, TheBestNotes. "TheBestNotes on Around the World in Eighty Days".
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