The Time Machine — EN


The Time Trav­eller (for so it will be con­ve­nient to speak of him) was expound­ing a recon­dite mat­ter to us. His grey eyes shone and twin­kled, and his usu­al­ly pale face was flushed and ani­mat­ed. The fire burned bright­ly, and the soft radi­ance of the incan­des­cent lights in the lilies of sil­ver caught the bub­bles that flashed and passed in our glass­es. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than sub­mit­ted to be sat upon, and there was that lux­u­ri­ous after-din­ner atmos­phere when thought roams grace­ful­ly free of the tram­mels of pre­ci­sion. And he put it to us in this way – mark­ing the points with a lean fore­fin­ger – as we sat and lazi­ly admired his earnest­ness over this new para­dox (as we thought it:) and his fecun­di­ty.

“You must fol­low me care­ful­ly. I shall have to con­tro­vert one or two ideas that are almost uni­ver­sal­ly accept­ed. The geom­e­try, for instance, they taught you at school is found­ed on a mis­con­cep­tion.”

“Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?” said Fil­by, an argu­men­ta­tive per­son with red hair.

“That is all right,” said the Psychologist.

“Nor, hav­ing only length, breadth, and thick­ness, can a cube have a real existence.”

“There I object,” said Fil­by. “Of course a sol­id body may exist. All real things – ”

“So most peo­ple think. But wait a moment. Can an instan­ta­neous cube exist?”

Don’t fol­low you,” said Filby.

“Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?”

Fil­by became pen­sive. “Clear­ly,” the Time Trav­eller pro­ceed­ed, “any real body must have exten­sion in four direc­tions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thick­ness, and – Dura­tion. But through a nat­ur­al infir­mi­ty of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a moment, we incline to over­look this fact. There are real­ly four dimen­sions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time. There is, how­ev­er, a ten­den­cy to draw an unre­al dis­tinc­tion between the for­mer three dimen­sions and the lat­ter, because it hap­pens that our con­scious­ness moves inter­mit­tent­ly in one direc­tion along the lat­ter from the begin­ning to the end of our lives.”

“That,” said a very young man, mak­ing spas­mod­ic efforts to relight his cig­ar over the lamp; “that… very clear indeed.”

“Now, it is very remark­able that this is so exten­sive­ly over­looked,” con­tin­ued the Time Trav­eller, with a slight acces­sion of cheer­ful­ness. “Real­ly this is what is meant by the Fourth Dimen­sion, though some peo­ple who talk about the Fourth Dimen­sion do not know they mean it. It is only anoth­er way of look­ing at Time. There is no dif­fer­ence between time and any of the three dimen­sions of space except that our con­scious­ness moves along it. But some fool­ish peo­ple have got hold of the wrong side of that idea. You have all heard what they have to say about this Fourth Dimension?”

“I have not,” said the Provin­cial May­or.

“It is sim­ply this. That Space, as our math­e­mati­cians have it, is spo­ken of as hav­ing three dimen­sions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thick­ness, and is always defin­able by ref­er­ence to three planes, each at right angles to the others.

But some philo­soph­i­cal peo­ple have been ask­ing why three dimen­sions par­tic­u­lar­ly – why not anoth­er direc­tion at right angles to the oth­er three? – and have even tried to con­struct a Four-Dimen­sion geom­e­try. Pro­fes­sor Simon New­comb was expound­ing this to the New York Math­e­mat­i­cal Soci­ety only a month or so ago. You know how on a flat sur­face, which has only two dimen­sions, we can rep­re­sent a fig­ure of a three-dimen­sion­al sol­id, and sim­i­lar­ly they think that by mod­els of three dimen­sions they could rep­re­sent one of four – if they could mas­ter the per­spec­tive of the thing. See?”

“I think so,” mur­mured the Provin­cial May­or; and, knit­ting his brows, he lapsed into an intro­spec­tive state, his lips mov­ing as one who repeats mys­tic words. “Yes, I think I see it now,” he said after some time, bright­en­ing in a quite tran­si­to­ry manner.

“Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon this geom­e­try of Four Dimen­sions for some time. Some of my results are curi­ous. For instance, here is a por­trait of a man at eight years old, anoth­er at fif­teen, anoth­er at sev­en­teen, anoth­er at twen­ty-three, and so on. All these are evi­dent­ly sec­tions, as it were, Three-Dimen­sion­al rep­re­sen­ta­tions of his Four-Dimen­sioned being, which is a fixed and unal­ter­able thing.

“Sci­en­tif­ic peo­ple,” pro­ceed­ed the Time Trav­eller, after the pause required for the prop­er assim­i­la­tion of this, “know very well that Time is only a kind of Space. Here is a pop­u­lar sci­en­tif­ic dia­gram, a weath­er record. This line I trace with my fin­ger shows the move­ment of the barom­e­ter. Yes­ter­day it was so high, yes­ter­day night it fell, then this morn­ing it rose again, and so gen­tly upward to here. Sure­ly the mer­cury did not trace this line in any of the dimen­sions of Space gen­er­al­ly rec­og­nized? But cer­tain­ly it traced such a line, and that line, there­fore, we must con­clude was along the Time-Dimension.”

“But,” said the Med­ical Man, star­ing hard at a coal in the fire, “if Time is real­ly only a fourth dimen­sion of Space, why is it, and why has it always been, regard­ed as some­thing dif­fer­ent? And why can­not we move in Time as we move about in the oth­er dimen­sions of Space?”

The Time Trav­eller smiled. “Are you sure we can move freely in Space? Right and left we can go, back­ward and for­ward freely enough, and men always have done so. I admit we move freely in two dimen­sions. But how about up and down? Grav­i­ta­tion lim­its us there.”

“Not exact­ly,” said the Med­ical Man. “There are balloons.”

“But before the bal­loons, save for spas­mod­ic jump­ing and the inequal­i­ties of the sur­face, man had no free­dom of ver­ti­cal move­ment.” “Still they could move a lit­tle up and down,” said the Med­ical Man.

“Eas­i­er, far eas­i­er down than up.”

“And you can­not move at all in Time, you can­not get away from the present moment.”

“My dear sir, that is just where you are wrong. That is just where the whole world has gone wrong. We are always get­ting away from the present move­ment. Our men­tal exis­tences, which are imma­te­r­i­al and have no dimen­sions, are pass­ing along the Time-Dimen­sion with a uni­form veloc­i­ty from the cra­dle to the grave. Just as we should trav­el down if we began our exis­tence fifty miles above the earth’s surface.”

“But the great dif­fi­cul­ty is this,” inter­rupt­ed the Psy­chol­o­gist. “You can move about in all direc­tions of Space, but you can­not move about in Time.”

“That is the germ of my great dis­cov­ery. But you are wrong to say that we can­not move about in Time. For instance, if I am recall­ing an inci­dent very vivid­ly I go back to the instant of its occur­rence: I become absent-mind­ed, as you say. I jump back for a moment. Of course we have no means of stay­ing back for any length of Time, any more than a sav­age or an ani­mal has of stay­ing six feet above the ground. But a civ­i­lized man is bet­ter off than the sav­age in this respect. He can go up against grav­i­ta­tion in a bal­loon, and why should he not hope that ulti­mate­ly he may be able to stop or accel­er­ate his drift along the Time-Dimen­sion, or even turn about and trav­el the oth­er way?”

“Oh, this,” began Fil­by, “is all – ”

“Why not?” said the Time Traveller.

“It’s against rea­son,” said Filby.

“What rea­son?” said the Time Traveller.

“You can show black is white by argu­ment,” said Fil­by, “but you will nev­er con­vince me.”

“Pos­si­bly not,” said the Time Trav­eller. “But now you begin to see the object of my inves­ti­ga­tions into the geom­e­try of Four Dimen­sions. Long ago I had a vague inkling of a machine – ”

“To trav­el through Time!” exclaimed the Very Young Man.

“That shall trav­el indif­fer­ent­ly in any direc­tion of Space and Time, as the dri­ver determines.”

Fil­by con­tent­ed him­self with laughter.

“But I have exper­i­men­tal ver­i­fi­ca­tion,” said the Time Traveller.

“It would be remark­ably con­ve­nient for the his­to­ri­an,” the Psy­chol­o­gist sug­gest­ed. “One might trav­el back and ver­i­fy the accept­ed account of the Bat­tle of Hast­ings, for instance!”

“Don’t you think you would attract atten­tion?” said the Med­ical Man. “Our ances­tors had no great tol­er­ance for anachro­nisms.”

“One might get one’s Greek from the very lips of Homer and Pla­to,” the Very Young Man thought.

“In which case they would cer­tain­ly plough you for the Lit­tle-go. The Ger­man schol­ars have improved Greek so much.”

“Then there is the future,” said the Very Young Man. “Just think! One might invest all one’s mon­ey, leave it to accu­mu­late at inter­est, and hur­ry on ahead!”

“To dis­cov­er a soci­ety,” said I, “erect­ed on a strict­ly com­mu­nis­tic basis.”

“Of all the wild extrav­a­gant the­o­ries!” began the Psychologist.

“Yes, so it seemed to me, and so I nev­er talked of it until – ”

“Exper­i­men­tal ver­i­fi­ca­tion!” cried I. “You are going to ver­i­fy that?”

“The exper­i­ment!” cried Fil­by, who was get­ting brain-weary.

“Let’s see your exper­i­ment any­how,” said the Psy­chol­o­gist, “though it’s all hum­bug, you know.”

The Time Trav­eller smiled round at us. Then, still smil­ing faint­ly, and with his hands deep in his trousers pock­ets, he walked slow­ly out of the room, and we heard his slip­pers shuf­fling down the long pas­sage to his laboratory.

The Psy­chol­o­gist looked at us. “I won­der what he’s got?”

“Some sleight-of-hand trick or oth­er,” said the Med­ical Man, and Fil­by tried to tell us about a con­jur­er he had seen at Burslem; but before he had fin­ished his pref­ace the Time Trav­eller came back, and Filby’s anec­dote collapsed.

expound ɪksˈ­paʊnd v To explain in detail: illus­trate, inter­pret, con­strue, explicate

recon­dite rɪˈkɒn­daɪt adj Not eas­i­ly under­stood: pro­found, eso­teric, abstruse

twin­kle ˈtwɪŋkl v To shine with slight inter­mit­tent gleams: flash, glis­ten, glint, glit­ter, sparkle

radi­ance ˈreɪdiəns n The qual­i­ty of being bright and send­ing out rays of light.

incan­des­cent ˌɪnkænˈdɛs­nt adj Shin­ing bril­liant­ly: bright, lumi­nous, radi­ant, lus­trous, beaming

lily ˈlɪli n Plant with var­i­ous­ly coloured, often trum­pet-shaped flowers.

bub­ble ˈbʌbl n Thin, usu­al­ly spher­i­cal or hemi­spher­i­cal film of liq­uid filled with air.

caress kəˈrɛs v Touch or stroke light­ly in a lov­ing or endear­ing manner.

lux­u­ri­ous lʌgˈzjʊərɪəs adj Very com­fort­able and expensive

roam rəʊm v To move about at ran­dom: wan­der, ram­ble, rove

tram­mel ˈtræməl n Some­thing that restricts activ­i­ty, expres­sion, or progress: restraint

fore­fin­ger ˈfɔːˌfɪŋgə n The fin­ger next to the thumb.

earnest­ness ˈɜːnɪst­nəs n Deter­mi­na­tion and seri­ous­ness, espe­cial­ly when this is with­out humour.

fecun­di­ty fɪˈkʌndɪtɪ n The qual­i­ty of being fer­tile: pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, fer­til­i­ty, fruitfulness

con­tro­vert ˈkɒn­trəvɜːt v To voice oppo­si­tion to: deny, con­tra­dict, negate

mis­con­cep­tion ˌmɪskənˈsɛpʃən n Fail­ure to under­stand cor­rect­ly: mis­un­der­stand­ing, misinterpretation

argu­men­ta­tive ˌɑːgjʊˈmɛn­tətɪv adj Often argu­ing or want­i­ng to argue.

object əbʤˈekt v To dis­agree with some­thing or oppose something.

instan­ta­neous ˌɪn­stənˈteɪniəs adj Hap­pen­ing very quick­ly, in an instant.

don’t fol­low you ⇒ I don’t under­stand what you mean (the sub­ject is dropped in order to make the style col­lo­qui­al).

at all ⇒ In any way; for any rea­son; to any extent; whatever.

pen­sive ˈpɛn­sɪv adj Deeply or seri­ous­ly thoughtful.

infir­mi­ty ɪnˈfɜːmɪti n The state of being weak or ill espe­cial­ly because of old age.

incline ɪnˈk­laɪn v To have a men­tal ten­den­cy, pref­er­ence, etc.: be dis­posed

inter­mit­tent­ly ˌɪntə(ː)ˈmɪtəntli adj Stop­ping and start­ing at inter­vals: occa­sion­aly, peri­od­i­cal­ly, spo­rad­i­cal­ly, fit­ful­ly, occa­sion­al­ly, peri­od­i­cal­ly, sometimes

spas­mod­ic spæzˈmɒdɪk adj Hap­pen­ing sud­den­ly for short peri­ods of time and not in a reg­u­lar way.

relight ˌriːˈlaɪt v To light or kin­dle anew.

cig­ar sɪˈgɑːr n A more or less cylin­dri­cal roll of tobac­co cured for smok­ing, of any of var­i­ous lengths, thick­ness­es, degrees of straight­ness, etc., usu­al­ly wrapped in a tobac­co leaf.

acces­sion ækˈsɛʃ(ə)n n An increase by means of some­thing added: addi­tion, augmentation

to have hold of the wrong side of the idea ­⇒ To have a wrong notion about something

Provin­cial May­or ⇒ The head of a province government.

defin­able dɪˈ­faɪnəbl adj You can explain and describe its mean­ing and exact limits.

by ref­er­ence to ⇒ In rela­tion with.

expound ɪksˈ­paʊnd v Clar­i­fy the mean­ing of some­thing in a learned way, usu­al­ly in writing.

or so ⇒ (of quan­ti­ties) Impre­cise but fair­ly close to.

mur­mur ˈmɜːmə v Speak indis­tinct­ly in a low tone.

to knit one’s brows ⇒ Move your eye­brows togeth­er, to show that you are think­ing hard, feel­ing angry, etc.

lapse læps v To pass grad­u­al­ly: slip

intro­spec­tive ˌɪn­trəʊˈspɛk­tɪv adj Con­tem­plat­ing of one’s own thoughts and sen­sa­tions; self-examining.

tran­si­to­ry ˈtræn­sɪtəri adj Last­ing only for a short time: tempo­rary, momen­tary, ephemer­al, short-lived, fleeting

I do not mind telling you ­⇒ I am not opposed to tell you (Used to empha­size the state­ment some­one is mak­ing and to sug­gest that he is mak­ing the state­ment in an unwill­ing way).

to be at work on/upon some­thing ⇒ To work at/on some­thing; to deal with something.

unal­ter­able ʌnˈɔːltərəbl adj Remain­ing the same that can­not be changed.

assim­i­la­tion əˌsɪmɪˈleɪʃ(ə)n n The act or process of absorb­ing infor­ma­tion, expe­ri­ences, etc.

upward ˈʌp­wəd adv Spa­tial­ly or metaphor­i­cal­ly from a low­er to a high­er position.

mer­cury ˈmɜːkjʊri n Sil­very-white poi­so­nous metal­lic ele­ment, liq­uid at room tem­per­a­ture and used in ther­mome­ters, barom­e­ters, etc.

to move about ­⇒ To change one’s position.

save for ⇒ With the excep­tion of, except.

inequal­i­ty ˌɪni(ː)ˈkwɒlɪti n Lack of smooth­ness: rough­ness, jagged­ness, unevenness

to get away ⇒ To depart, to go away.

imma­te­r­i­al ˌɪməˈtɪərɪəl adj With­out mate­r­i­al form or sub­stance; not con­sist­ing of matter.

veloc­i­ty vɪˈlɒsɪti n Rapid­i­ty of motion or oper­a­tion: swift­ness; speed

cra­dle ˈkreɪdl n A small bed for a baby, espe­cial­ly one that rocks from side to side.

fifty miles ⇒ 1 mile is 1.609 kilo­me­ters. so 50 miles are about 80 km.

germ ʤɜːm n (Biol­o­gy) A source of fur­ther growth and devel­op­ment: embryo, nucle­us, spark, kernel

vivid­ly ˈvɪvɪdli adv In a way that is very clear, pow­er­ful, and detailed in your mind.

means miːnz n (pl) method; way, mode.

to be bet­ter off ⇒ wealthy, rich, in easy circumstances.

to have a vague inkling of ⇒ To have a vague idea about; inkling ˈɪŋk­lɪŋ n A slight, uncer­tain idea or knowl­edge about something.

exclaim ɪksˈk­leɪm v To cry out or speak sud­den­ly and vehe­ment­ly, as in sur­prise, strong emo­tion, or protest.

indif­fer­ent­ly ɪnˈdɪfrəntli adv In a way that shows you are not think­ing about or inter­est­ed in some­one or something

remark­ably rɪˈmɑːkəbli adv Used for empha­siz­ing how sur­pris­ing or unusu­al some­thing is: extra­or­di­nary

Bat­tle of Hast­ings ⇒ A bat­tle which took place on Octo­ber 14th, 1066 and in which William the Con­queror won a deci­sive vic­to­ry over the Anglo-Saxons.

to have tol­er­ance for ⇒ To endure, to bear.

anachro­nism əˈnækrənɪzm n Some­thing locat­ed at a time when it could not have exist­ed or occurred.

very ˈvɛri adj Being the exact same one; not any oth­er (used to empha­size the exact­ness of a descrip­tion).

Homer ˈhəʊmə Author of the Ili­ad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the cen­tral works of Ancient Greek literature.

Pla­to ˈpleɪtəʊ Philoso­pher dur­ing the Clas­si­cal peri­od in Ancient Greece, founder of the Pla­ton­ist school of thought, and the Acad­e­my, the first insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing in the West­ern world.

plough ⇒ (here) to fail some­one in an exam.

Lit­tle-go ⇒ first bach­e­lor exam at the Cam­bridge University.

erect ɪˈrɛkt v Con­struct, build.

com­mu­nis­tic ˌkɒmjʊˈnɪstɪk adj Relat­ing to or marked by communism.

brain-weary ⇒ exhaust­ed, bored, tired.

hum­bug ˈhʌm­bʌg n Some­thing intend­ed to deceive: hoax, fraud; nonsense

slip­per ˈslɪpə v Low footwear that can be slipped on and off eas­i­ly; usu­al­ly worn indoors.

shuf­fle ˈʃʌfl v Walk with­out lift­ing one’s feet by drag­ging them on the floor.

sleight-of-hand trick ⇒ A swifthand­ed and skil­ful trick.

con­jur­er ˈkʌnʤərə n Magi­cian; a sorcerer.

Burslem ˈbɜːr­zləm A town that is part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent in Stafford­shire, England.

pref­ace ˈprɛfɪs n An intro­duc­to­ry part, as of a book, speech etc.