Part 1 out of 2
The Time Machine, by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells 
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
`Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?'
said Filby, an argumentative person with red hair.
`I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable
ground for it. You will soon admit as much as I need from you.
You know of course that a mathematical line, a line of thickness
NIL, has no real existence. They taught you that? Neither has
a mathematical plane. These things are mere abstractions.'
`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
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
`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 thee 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
`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 moment. 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
`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
`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
`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.
The thing the Time Traveller held in his hand was a glittering
metallic framework, scarcely larger than a small clock, and very
delicately made. There was ivory in it, and some transparent
crystalline substance. And now I must be explicit, for this that
follows--unless his explanation is to be accepted--is an
absolutely unaccountable thing. He took one of the small
octagonal tables that were scattered about the room, and set it
in front of the fire, with two legs on the hearthrug. On this
table he placed the mechanism. Then he drew up a chair, and sat
down. The only other object on the table was a small shaded
lamp, the bright light of which fell upon the model. There were
also perhaps a dozen candles about, two in brass candlesticks
upon the mantel and several in sconces, so that the room was
brilliantly illuminated. I sat in a low arm-chair nearest the
fire, and I drew this forward so as to be almost between the Time
Traveller and the fireplace. Filby sat behind him, looking over
his shoulder. The Medical Man and the Provincial Mayor watched
him in profile from the right, the Psychologist from the left.
The Very Young Man stood behind the Psychologist. We were all on
the alert. It appears incredible to me that any kind of trick,
however subtly conceived and however adroitly done, could have
been played upon us under these conditions.
The Time Traveller looked at us, and then at the mechanism.
`Well?' said the Psychologist.
`This little affair,' said the Time Traveller, resting his
elbows upon the table and pressing his hands together above the
apparatus, `is only a model. It is my plan for a machine to
travel through time. You will notice that it looks singularly
askew, and that there is an odd twinkling appearance about this
bar, as though it was in some way unreal.' He pointed to the
part with his finger. `Also, here is one little white lever, and
here is another.'
The Medical Man got up out of his chair and peered into the
thing. `It's beautifully made,' he said.
`It took two years to make,' retorted the Time Traveller.
Then, when we had all imitated the action of the Medical Man, he
said: `Now I want you clearly to understand that this lever,
being pressed over, sends the machine gliding into the future,
and this other reverses the motion. This saddle represents the
seat of a time traveller. Presently I am going to press the
lever, and off the machine will go. It will vanish, pass into
future Time, and disappear. Have a good look at the thing. Look
at the table too, and satisfy yourselves there is no trickery. I
don't want to waste this model, and then be told I'm a quack.'
There was a minute's pause perhaps. The Psychologist seemed
about to speak to me, but changed his mind. Then the Time
Traveller put forth his finger towards the lever. `No,' he said
suddenly. `Lend me your hand.' And turning to the Psychologist,
he took that individual's hand in his own and told him to put out
his forefinger. So that it was the Psychologist himself who sent
forth the model Time Machine on its interminable voyage. We all
saw the lever turn. I am absolutely certain there was no
trickery. There was a breath of wind, and the lamp flame jumped.
One of the candles on the mantel was blown out, and the little
machine suddenly swung round, became indistinct, was seen as a
ghost for a second perhaps, as an eddy of faintly glittering
brass and ivory; and it was gone--vanished! Save for the lamp
the table was bare.
Everyone was silent for a minute. Then Filby said he was
The Psychologist recovered from his stupor, and suddenly looked
under the table. At that the Time Traveller laughed cheerfully.
`Well?' he said, with a reminiscence of the Psychologist. Then,
getting up, he went to the tobacco jar on the mantel, and with
his back to us began to fill his pipe.
We stared at each other. `Look here,' said the Medical Man,
`are you in earnest about this? Do you seriously believe that
that machine has travelled into time?'
`Certainly,' said the Time Traveller, stooping to light a spill
at the fire. Then he turned, lighting his pipe, to look at the
Psychologist's face. (The Psychologist, to show that he was not
unhinged, helped himself to a cigar and tried to light it uncut.)
`What is more, I have a big machine nearly finished in there'--he
indicated the laboratory--`and when that is put together I mean
to have a journey on my own account.'
`You mean to say that that machine has travelled into the
future?' said Filby.
`Into the future or the past--I don't, for certain, know
After an interval the Psychologist had an inspiration. `It
must have gone into the past if it has gone anywhere,' he said.
`Why?' said the Time Traveller.
`Because I presume that it has not moved in space, and if it
travelled into the future it would still be here all this time,
since it must have travelled through this time.'
`But,' I said, `If it travelled into the past it would have
been visible when we came first into this room; and last Thursday
when we were here; and the Thursday before that; and so forth!'
`Serious objections,' remarked the Provincial Mayor, with an
air of impartiality, turning towards the Time Traveller.
`Not a bit,' said the Time Traveller, and, to the Psychologist:
`You think. You can explain that. It's presentation below the
threshold, you know, diluted presentation.'
`Of course,' said the Psychologist, and reassured us. `That's
a simple point of psychology. I should have thought of it. It's
plain enough, and helps the paradox delightfully. We cannot see
it, nor can we appreciate this machine, any more than we can the
spoke of a wheel spinning, or a bullet flying through the air.
If it is travelling through time fifty times or a hundred times
faster than we are, if it gets through a minute while we get
through a second, the impression it creates will of course be
only one-fiftieth or one-hundredth of what it would make if it
were not travelling in time. That's plain enough.' He passed
his hand through the space in which the machine had been. `You
see?' he said, laughing.
We sat and stared at the vacant table for a minute or so. Then
the Time Traveller asked us what we thought of it all.
`It sounds plausible enough to-night,' said the Medical Man;
'but wait until to-morrow. Wait for the common sense of the
`Would you like to see the Time Machine itself?' asked the Time
Traveller. And therewith, taking the lamp in his hand, he led
the way down the long, draughty corridor to his laboratory. I
remember vividly the flickering light, his queer, broad head in
silhouette, the dance of the shadows, how we all followed him,
puzzled but incredulous, and how there in the laboratory we
beheld a larger edition of the little mechanism which we had seen
vanish from before our eyes. Parts were of nickel, parts of
ivory, parts had certainly been filed or sawn out of rock
crystal. The thing was generally complete, but the twisted
crystalline bars lay unfinished upon the bench beside some sheets
of drawings, and I took one up for a better look at it. Quartz
it seemed to be.
`Look here,' said the Medical Man, `are you perfectly serious?
Or is this a trick--like that ghost you showed us last
`Upon that machine,' said the Time Traveller, holding the lamp
aloft, `I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was never
more serious in my life.'
None of us quite knew how to take it.
I caught Filby's eye over the shoulder of the Medical Man, and
he winked at me solemnly.
I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the
Time Machine. The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those
men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you
saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some
ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness. Had Filby shown
the model and explained the matter in the Time Traveller's words,
we should have shown HIM far less scepticism. For we should
have perceived his motives; a pork butcher could understand
Filby. But the Time Traveller had more than a touch of whim
among his elements, and we distrusted him. Things that would
have made the frame of a less clever man seemed tricks in his
hands. It is a mistake to do things too easily. The serious
people who took him seriously never felt quite sure of his
deportment; they were somehow aware that trusting their
reputations for judgment with him was like furnishing a nursery
with egg-shell china. So I don't think any of us said very much
about time travelling in the interval between that Thursday and
the next, though its odd potentialities ran, no doubt, in most of
our minds: its plausibility, that is, its practical
incredibleness, the curious possibilities of anachronism and of
utter confusion it suggested. For my own part, I was
particularly preoccupied with the trick of the model. That I
remember discussing with the Medical Man, whom I met on Friday at
the Linnaean. He said he had seen a similar thing at
Tubingen, and laid considerable stress on the blowing out
of the candle. But how the trick was done he could not explain.
The next Thursday I went again to Richmond--I suppose I was
one of the Time Traveller's most constant guests--and, arriving
late, found four or five men already assembled in his
drawing-room. The Medical Man was standing before the fire with
a sheet of paper in one hand and his watch in the other. I
looked round for the Time Traveller, and--`It's half-past seven
now,' said the Medical Man. `I suppose we'd better have dinner?'
`Where's----?' said I, naming our host.
`You've just come? It's rather odd. He's unavoidably
detained. He asks me in this note to lead off with dinner at
seven if he's not back. Says he'll explain when he comes.'
`It seems a pity to let the dinner spoil,' said the Editor of
a well-known daily paper; and thereupon the Doctor rang the bell.
The Psychologist was the only person besides the Doctor and
myself who had attended the previous dinner. The other men were
Blank, the Editor aforementioned, a certain journalist, and
another--a quiet, shy man with a beard--whom I didn't know,
and who, as far as my observation went, never opened his mouth
all the evening. There was some speculation at the dinner-table
about the Time Traveller's absence, and I suggested time
travelling, in a half-jocular spirit. The Editor wanted that
explained to him, and the Psychologist volunteered a wooden
account of the `ingenious paradox and trick' we had witnessed
that day week. He was in the midst of his exposition when the
door from the corridor opened slowly and without noise. I was
facing the door, and saw it first. `Hallo!' I said. `At last!'
And the door opened wider, and the Time Traveller stood before
us. I gave a cry of surprise. `Good heavens! man, what's the
matter?' cried the Medical Man, who saw him next. And the whole
tableful turned towards the door.
He was in an amazing plight. His coat was dusty and dirty,
and smeared with green down the sleeves; his hair disordered, and
as it seemed to me greyer--either with dust and dirt or because
its colour had actually faded. His face was ghastly pale; his
chin had a brown cut on it--a cut half healed; his expression
was haggard and drawn, as by intense suffering. For a moment he
hesitated in the doorway, as if he had been dazzled by the light.
Then he came into the room. He walked with just such a limp as
I have seen in footsore tramps. We stared at him in silence,
expecting him to speak.
He said not a word, but came painfully to the table, and made
a motion towards the wine. The Editor filled a glass of
champagne, and pushed it towards him. He drained it, and it
seemed to do him good: for he looked round the table, and the
ghost of his old smile flickered across his face. `What on earth
have you been up to, man?' said the Doctor. The Time Traveller
did not seem to hear. `Don't let me disturb you,' he said, with
a certain faltering articulation. `I'm all right.' He stopped,
held out his glass for more, and took it off at a draught.
`That's good,' he said. His eyes grew brighter, and a faint
colour came into his cheeks. His glance flickered over our faces
with a certain dull approval, and then went round the warm and
comfortable room. Then he spoke again, still as it were feeling
his way among his words. `I'm going to wash and dress, and then
I'll come down and explain things. . . Save me some of that
mutton. I'm starving for a bit of meat.'
He looked across at the Editor, who was a rare visitor, and
hoped he was all right. The Editor began a question. `Tell you
presently,' said the Time Traveller. `I'm--funny! Be all
right in a minute.'
He put down his glass, and walked towards the staircase door.
Again I remarked his lameness and the soft padding sound of his
footfall, and standing up in my place, I saw his feet as he went
out. He had nothing on them but a pair of tattered blood-stained
socks. Then the door closed upon him. I had half a mind to
follow, till I remembered how he detested any fuss about himself.
For a minute, perhaps, my mind was wool-gathering. Then,
'Remarkable Behaviour of an Eminent Scientist,' I heard the
Editor say, thinking (after his wont) in headlines. And this
brought my attention back to the bright dinner-table.
`What's the game?' said the Journalist. `Has he been doing
the Amateur Cadger? I don't follow.' I met the eye of the
Psychologist, and read my own interpretation in his face. I
thought of the Time Traveller limping painfully upstairs. I
don't think any one else had noticed his lameness.
The first to recover completely from this surprise was the
Medical Man, who rang the bell--the Time Traveller hated to
have servants waiting at dinner--for a hot plate. At that the
Editor turned to his knife and fork with a grunt, and the Silent
Man followed suit. The dinner was resumed. Conversation was
exclamatory for a little while, with gaps of wonderment; and then
the Editor got fervent in his curiosity. `Does our friend eke
out his modest income with a crossing? or has he his
Nebuchadnezzar phases?' he inquired. `I feel assured it's this
business of the Time Machine,' I said, and took up the
Psychologist's account of our previous meeting. The new guests
were frankly incredulous. The Editor raised objections. `What
WAS this time travelling? A man couldn't cover himself with
dust by rolling in a paradox, could he?' And then, as the idea
came home to him, he resorted to caricature. Hadn't they any
clothes-brushes in the Future? The Journalist too, would not
believe at any price, and joined the Editor in the easy work of
heaping ridicule on the whole thing. They were both the new kind
of journalist--very joyous, irreverent young men. `Our Special
Correspondent in the Day after To-morrow reports,' the Journalist
was saying--or rather shouting--when the Time Traveller came
back. He was dressed in ordinary evening clothes, and nothing
save his haggard look remained of the change that had startled
`I say,' said the Editor hilariously, `these chaps here say
you have been travelling into the middle of next week! Tell us
all about little Rosebery, will you? What will you take for the
The Time Traveller came to the place reserved for him without
a word. He smiled quietly, in his old way. `Where's my mutton?'
he said. `What a treat it is to stick a fork into meat again!'
`Story!' cried the Editor.
`Story be damned!' said the Time Traveller. `I want something
to eat. I won't say a word until I get some peptone into my
arteries. Thanks. And the salt.'
`One word,' said I. `Have you been time travelling?'
`Yes,' said the Time Traveller, with his mouth full, nodding
`I'd give a shilling a line for a verbatim note,' said the
Editor. The Time Traveller pushed his glass towards the Silent
Man and rang it with his fingernail; at which the Silent Man, who
had been staring at his face, started convulsively, and poured
him wine. The rest of the dinner was uncomfortable. For my own
part, sudden questions kept on rising to my lips, and I dare say
it was the same with the others. The Journalist tried to relieve
the tension by telling anecdotes of Hettie Potter. The Time
Traveller devoted his attention to his dinner, and displayed the
appetite of a tramp. The Medical Man smoked a cigarette, and
watched the Time Traveller through his eyelashes. The Silent Man
seemed even more clumsy than usual, and drank champagne with
regularity and determination out of sheer nervousness. At last
the Time Traveller pushed his plate away, and looked round us.
`I suppose I must apologize,' he said. `I was simply starving.
I've had a most amazing time.' He reached out his hand for a
cigar, and cut the end. `But come into the smoking-room. It's
too long a story to tell over greasy plates.' And ringing the
bell in passing, he led the way into the adjoining room.
`You have told Blank, and Dash, and Chose about the machine?'
he said to me, leaning back in his easy-chair and naming the
three new guests.
`But the thing's a mere paradox,' said the Editor.
`I can't argue to-night. I don't mind telling you the story,
but I can't argue. I will,' he went on, `tell you the story of
what has happened to me, if you like, but you must refrain from
interruptions. I want to tell it. Badly. Most of it will sound
like lying. So be it! It's true--every word of it, all the
same. I was in my laboratory at four o'clock, and since then . . .
I've lived eight days . . . such days as no human being ever
lived before! I'm nearly worn out, but I shan't sleep till I've
told this thing over to you. Then I shall go to bed. But no
interruptions! Is it agreed?'
`Agreed,' said the Editor, and the rest of us echoed `Agreed.'
And with that the Time Traveller began his story as I have set
it forth. He sat back in his chair at first, and spoke like a
weary man. Afterwards he got more animated. In writing it down
I feel with only too much keenness the inadequacy of pen and ink
--and, above all, my own inadequacy--to express its quality.
You read, I will suppose, attentively enough; but you cannot see
the speaker's white, sincere face in the bright circle of the
little lamp, nor hear the intonation of his voice. You cannot
know how his expression followed the turns of his story! Most of
us hearers were in shadow, for the candles in the smoking-room
had not been lighted, and only the face of the Journalist and the
legs of the Silent Man from the knees downward were illuminated.
At first we glanced now and again at each other. After a time we
ceased to do that, and looked only at the Time Traveller's face.
`I told some of you last Thursday of the principles of the
Time Machine, and showed you the actual thing itself, incomplete
in the workshop. There it is now, a little travel-worn, truly;
and one of the ivory bars is cracked, and a brass rail bent; but
the rest of it's sound enough. I expected to finish it on
Friday, but on Friday, when the putting together was nearly done,
I found that one of the nickel bars was exactly one inch too
short, and this I had to get remade; so that the thing was not
complete until this morning. It was at ten o'clock to-day that
the first of all Time Machines began its career. I gave it a
last tap, tried all the screws again, put one more drop of oil on
the quartz rod, and sat myself in the saddle. I suppose a
suicide who holds a pistol to his skull feels much the same
wonder at what will come next as I felt then. I took the
starting lever in one hand and the stopping one in the other,
pressed the first, and almost immediately the second. I seemed
to reel; I felt a nightmare sensation of falling; and, looking
round, I saw the laboratory exactly as before. Had anything
happened? For a moment I suspected that my intellect had tricked
me. Then I noted the clock. A moment before, as it seemed, it
had stood at a minute or so past ten; now it was nearly half-past
`I drew a breath, set my teeth, gripped the starting lever
with both hands, and went off with a thud. The laboratory got
hazy and went dark. Mrs. Watchett came in and walked, apparently
without seeing me, towards the garden door. I suppose it took
her a minute or so to traverse the place, but to me she seemed to
shoot across the room like a rocket. I pressed the lever over to
its extreme position. The night came like the turning out of a
lamp, and in another moment came to-morrow. The laboratory grew
faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter. To-morrow night
came black, then day again, night again, day again, faster and
faster still. An eddying murmur filled my ears, and a strange,
dumb confusedness descended on my mind.
`I am afraid I cannot convey the peculiar sensations of time
travelling. They are excessively unpleasant. There is a feeling
exactly like that one has upon a switchback--of a helpless
headlong motion! I felt the same horrible anticipation, too, of
an imminent smash. As I put on pace, night followed day like the
flapping of a black wing. The dim suggestion of the laboratory
seemed presently to fall away from me, and I saw the sun hopping
swiftly across the sky, leaping it every minute, and every minute
marking a day. I supposed the laboratory had been destroyed and
I had come into the open air. I had a dim impression of
scaffolding, but I was already going too fast to be conscious of
any moving things. The slowest snail that ever crawled dashed by
too fast for me. The twinkling succession of darkness and light
was excessively painful to the eye. Then, in the intermittent
darknesses, I saw the moon spinning swiftly through her quarters
from new to full, and had a faint glimpse of the circling stars.
Presently, as I went on, still gaining velocity, the palpitation
of night and day merged into one continuous greyness; the sky
took on a wonderful deepness of blue, a splendid luminous color
like that of early twilight; the jerking sun became a streak of
fire, a brilliant arch, in space; the moon a fainter fluctuating
band; and I could see nothing of the stars, save now and then a
brighter circle flickering in the blue.
`The landscape was misty and vague. I was still on the
hill-side upon which this house now stands, and the shoulder rose
above me grey and dim. I saw trees growing and changing like
puffs of vapour, now brown, now green; they grew, spread,
shivered, and passed away. I saw huge buildings rise up faint
and fair, and pass like dreams. The whole surface of the earth
seemed changed--melting and flowing under my eyes. The little
hands upon the dials that registered my speed raced round faster
and faster. Presently I noted that the sun belt swayed up and
down, from solstice to solstice, in a minute or less, and that
consequently my pace was over a year a minute; and minute by
minute the white snow flashed across the world, and vanished, and
was followed by the bright, brief green of spring.
`The unpleasant sensations of the start were less poignant
now. They merged at last into a kind of hysterical exhilaration.
I remarked indeed a clumsy swaying of the machine, for which I
was unable to account. But my mind was too confused to attend to
it, so with a kind of madness growing upon me, I flung myself
into futurity. At first I scarce thought of stopping, scarce
thought of anything but these new sensations. But presently a
fresh series of impressions grew up in my mind--a certain
curiosity and therewith a certain dread--until at last they
took complete possession of me. What strange developments of
humanity, what wonderful advances upon our rudimentary
civilization, I thought, might not appear when I came to look
nearly into the dim elusive world that raced and fluctuated
before my eyes! I saw great and splendid architecture rising
about me, more massive than any buildings of our own time, and
yet, as it seemed, built of glimmer and mist. I saw a richer
green flow up the hill-side, and remain there, without any wintry
intermission. Even through the veil of my confusion the earth
seemed very fair. And so my mind came round to the business of
`The peculiar risk lay in the possibility of my finding some
substance in the space which I, or the machine, occupied. So
long as I travelled at a high velocity through time, this
scarcely mattered; I was, so to speak, attenuated--was slipping
like a vapour through the interstices of intervening substances!
But to come to a stop involved the jamming of myself, molecule by
molecule, into whatever lay in my way; meant bringing my atoms
into such intimate contact with those of the obstacle that a
profound chemical reaction--possibly a far-reaching explosion
--would result, and blow myself and my apparatus out of all
possible dimensions--into the Unknown. This possibility had
occurred to me again and again while I was making the machine;
but then I had cheerfully accepted it as an unavoidable risk--
one of the risks a man has got to take! Now the risk was
inevitable, I no longer saw it in the same cheerful light. The
fact is that insensibly, the absolute strangeness of everything,
the sickly jarring and swaying of the machine, above all, the
feeling of prolonged falling, had absolutely upset my nerve. I
told myself that I could never stop, and with a gust of petulance
I resolved to stop forthwith. Like an impatient fool, I lugged
over the lever, and incontinently the thing went reeling over,
and I was flung headlong through the air.
`There was the sound of a clap of thunder in my ears. I may
have been stunned for a moment. A pitiless hail was hissing
round me, and I was sitting on soft turf in front of the overset
machine. Everything still seemed grey, but presently I remarked
that the confusion in my ears was gone. I looked round me. I was
on what seemed to be a little lawn in a garden, surrounded by
rhododendron bushes, and I noticed that their mauve and purple
blossoms were dropping in a shower under the beating of the
hail-stones. The rebounding, dancing hail hung in a cloud over
the machine, and drove along the ground like smoke. In a moment
I was wet to the skin. "Fine hospitality," said I, "to a man who
has travelled innumerable years to see you."
`Presently I thought what a fool I was to get wet. I stood up
and looked round me. A colossal figure, carved apparently in
some white stone, loomed indistinctly beyond the rhododendrons
through the hazy downpour. But all else of the world was
`My sensations would be hard to describe. As the columns of
hail grew thinner, I saw the white figure more distinctly. It
was very large, for a silver birch-tree touched its shoulder. It
was of white marble, in shape something like a winged sphinx, but
the wings, instead of being carried vertically at the sides, were
spread so that it seemed to hover. The pedestal, it appeared to
me, was of bronze, and was thick with verdigris. It chanced that
the face was towards me; the sightless eyes seemed to watch me;
there was the faint shadow of a smile on the lips. It was
greatly weather-worn, and that imparted an unpleasant suggestion
of disease. I stood looking at it for a little space--half a
minute, perhaps, or half an hour. It seemed to advance and to
recede as the hail drove before it denser or thinner. At last I
tore my eyes from it for a moment and saw that the hail curtain
had worn threadbare, and that the sky was lightening with the
promise of the Sun.
`I looked up again at the crouching white shape, and the full
temerity of my voyage came suddenly upon me. What might appear
when that hazy curtain was altogether withdrawn? What might not
have happened to men? What if cruelty had grown into a common
passion? What if in this interval the race had lost its
manliness and had developed into something inhuman,
unsympathetic, and overwhelmingly powerful? I might seem some
old-world savage animal, only the more dreadful and disgusting
for our common likeness--a foul creature to be incontinently
`Already I saw other vast shapes--huge buildings with
intricate parapets and tall columns, with a wooded hill-side
dimly creeping in upon me through the lessening storm. I was
seized with a panic fear. I turned frantically to the Time
Machine, and strove hard to readjust it. As I did so the shafts
of the sun smote through the thunderstorm. The grey downpour was
swept aside and vanished like the trailing garments of a ghost.
Above me, in the intense blue of the summer sky, some faint brown
shreds of cloud whirled into nothingness. The great buildings
about me stood out clear and distinct, shining with the wet of
the thunderstorm, and picked out in white by the unmelted
hailstones piled along their courses. I felt naked in a strange
world. I felt as perhaps a bird may feel in the clear air,
knowing the hawk wings above and will swoop. My fear grew to
frenzy. I took a breathing space, set my teeth, and again
grappled fiercely, wrist and knee, with the machine. It gave
under my desperate onset and turned over. It struck my chin
violently. One hand on the saddle, the other on the lever, I
stood panting heavily in attitude to mount again.
`But with this recovery of a prompt retreat my courage
recovered. I looked more curiously and less fearfully at this
world of the remote future. In a circular opening, high up in
the wall of the nearer house, I saw a group of figures clad in
rich soft robes. They had seen me, and their faces were directed
`Then I heard voices approaching me. Coming through the
bushes by the White Sphinx were the heads and shoulders of men
running. One of these emerged in a pathway leading straight to
the little lawn upon which I stood with my machine. He was a
slight creature--perhaps four feet high--clad in a purple
tunic, girdled at the waist with a leather belt. Sandals or
buskins--I could not clearly distinguish which--were on his
feet; his legs were bare to the knees, and his head was bare.
Noticing that, I noticed for the first time how warm the air was.
`He struck me as being a very beautiful and graceful creature,
but indescribably frail. His flushed face reminded me of the
more beautiful kind of consumptive--that hectic beauty of which
we used to hear so much. At the sight of him I suddenly regained
confidence. I took my hands from the machine.
`In another moment we were standing face to face, I and this
fragile thing out of futurity. He came straight up to me and
laughed into my eyes. The absence from his bearing of any sign
of fear struck me at once. Then he turned to the two others who
were following him and spoke to them in a strange and very sweet
and liquid tongue.
`There were others coming, and presently a little group of
perhaps eight or ten of these exquisite creatures were about me.
One of them addressed me. It came into my head, oddly enough,
that my voice was too harsh and deep for them. So I shook my
head, and, pointing to my ears, shook it again. He came a step
forward, hesitated, and then touched my hand. Then I felt other
soft little tentacles upon my back and shoulders. They wanted to
make sure I was real. There was nothing in this at all alarming.
Indeed, there was something in these pretty little people that
inspired confidence--a graceful gentleness, a certain childlike
ease. And besides, they looked so frail that I could fancy
myself flinging the whole dozen of them about like nine-pins.
But I made a sudden motion to warn them when I saw their little
pink hands feeling at the Time Machine. Happily then, when it
was not too late, I thought of a danger I had hitherto forgotten,
and reaching over the bars of the machine I unscrewed the little
levers that would set it in motion, and put these in my pocket.
Then I turned again to see what I could do in the way of
`And then, looking more nearly into their features, I saw some
further peculiarities in their Dresden-china type of prettiness.
Their hair, which was uniformly curly, came to a sharp end at the
neck and cheek; there was not the faintest suggestion of it on
the face, and their ears were singularly minute. The mouths were
small, with bright red, rather thin lips, and the little chins
ran to a point. The eyes were large and mild; and--this may
seem egotism on my part--I fancied even that there was a
certain lack of the interest I might have expected in them.
`As they made no effort to communicate with me, but simply
stood round me smiling and speaking in soft cooing notes to each
other, I began the conversation. I pointed to the Time Machine
and to myself. Then hesitating for a moment how to express time,
I pointed to the sun. At once a quaintly pretty little figure in
chequered purple and white followed my gesture, and then
astonished me by imitating the sound of thunder.
`For a moment I was staggered, though the import of his
gesture was plain enough. The question had come into my mind
abruptly: were these creatures fools? You may hardly understand
how it took me. You see I had always anticipated that the people
of the year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be
incredibly in front of us in knowledge, art, everything. Then
one of them suddenly asked me a question that showed him to be on
the intellectual level of one of our five-year-old children--
asked me, in fact, if I had come from the sun in a thunderstorm!
It let loose the judgment I had suspended upon their clothes,
their frail light limbs, and fragile features. A flow of
disappointment rushed across my mind. For a moment I felt that I
had built the Time Machine in vain.
`I nodded, pointed to the sun, and gave them such a vivid
rendering of a thunderclap as startled them. They all withdrew a
pace or so and bowed. Then came one laughing towards me,
carrying a chain of beautiful flowers altogether new to me, and
put it about my neck. The idea was received with melodious
applause; and presently they were all running to and fro for
flowers, and laughingly flinging them upon me until I was almost
smothered with blossom. You who have never seen the like can
scarcely imagine what delicate and wonderful flowers countless
years of culture had created. Then someone suggested that their
plaything should be exhibited in the nearest building, and so I
was led past the sphinx of white marble, which had seemed to
watch me all the while with a smile at my astonishment, towards a
vast grey edifice of fretted stone. As I went with them the
memory of my confident anticipations of a profoundly grave and
intellectual posterity came, with irresistible merriment, to my
`The building had a huge entry, and was altogether of colossal
dimensions. I was naturally most occupied with the growing crowd
of little people, and with the big open portals that yawned
before me shadowy and mysterious. My general impression of the
world I saw over their heads was a tangled waste of beautiful
bushes and flowers, a long neglected and yet weedless garden. I
saw a number of tall spikes of strange white flowers, measuring a
foot perhaps across the spread of the waxen petals. They grew
scattered, as if wild, among the variegated shrubs, but, as I
say, I did not examine them closely at this time. The Time
Machine was left deserted on the turf among the rhododendrons.
`The arch of the doorway was richly carved, but naturally I
did not observe the carving very narrowly, though I fancied I saw
suggestions of old Phoenician decorations as I passed through,
and it struck me that they were very badly broken and weather-
worn. Several more brightly clad people met me in the doorway,
and so we entered, I, dressed in dingy nineteenth-century
garments, looking grotesque enough, garlanded with flowers, and
surrounded by an eddying mass of bright, soft-colored robes and
shining white limbs, in a melodious whirl of laughter and
`The big doorway opened into a proportionately great hall hung
with brown. The roof was in shadow, and the windows, partially
glazed with coloured glass and partially unglazed, admitted a
tempered light. The floor was made up of huge blocks of some
very hard white metal, not plates nor slabs--blocks, and it was
so much worn, as I judged by the going to and fro of past
generations, as to be deeply channelled along the more frequented
ways. Transverse to the length were innumerable tables made of
slabs of polished stone, raised perhaps a foot from the floor,
and upon these were heaps of fruits. Some I recognized as a kind
of hypertrophied raspberry and orange, but for the most part they
`Between the tables was scattered a great number of cushions.
Upon these my conductors seated themselves, signing for me to do
likewise. With a pretty absence of ceremony they began to eat
the fruit with their hands, flinging peel and stalks, and so
forth, into the round openings in the sides of the tables. I was
not loath to follow their example, for I felt thirsty and hungry.
As I did so I surveyed the hall at my leisure.
`And perhaps the thing that struck me most was its dilapidated
look. The stained-glass windows, which displayed only a
geometrical pattern, were broken in many places, and the curtains
that hung across the lower end were thick with dust. And it
caught my eye that the corner of the marble table near me was
fractured. Nevertheless, the general effect was extremely rich
and picturesque. There were, perhaps, a couple of hundred people
dining in the hall, and most of them, seated as near to me as
they could come, were watching me with interest, their little
eyes shining over the fruit they were eating. All were clad in
the same soft and yet strong, silky material.
`Fruit, by the by, was all their diet. These people of the
remote future were strict vegetarians, and while I was with them,
in spite of some carnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also.
Indeed, I found afterwards that horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, had
followed the Ichthyosaurus into extinction. But the fruits were
very delightful; one, in particular, that seemed to be in season
all the time I was there--a floury thing in a three-sided husk
--was especially good, and I made it my staple. At first I was
puzzled by all these strange fruits, and by the strange flowers I
saw, but later I began to perceive their import.
`However, I am telling you of my fruit dinner in the distant
future now. So soon as my appetite was a little checked, I
determined to make a resolute attempt to learn the speech of
these new men of mine. Clearly that was the next thing to do.
The fruits seemed a convenient thing to begin upon, and holding
one of these up I began a series of interrogative sounds and
gestures. I had some considerable difficulty in conveying my
meaning. At first my efforts met with a stare of surprise or
inextinguishable laughter, but presently a fair-haired little
creature seemed to grasp my intention and repeated a name. They
had to chatter and explain the business at great length to each
other, and my first attempts to make the exquisite little sounds
of their language caused an immense amount of amusement.
However, I felt like a schoolmaster amidst children, and
persisted, and presently I had a score of noun substantives at
least at my command; and then I got to demonstrative pronouns,
and even the verb "to eat." But it was slow work, and the little
people soon tired and wanted to get away from my interrogations,
so I determined, rather of necessity, to let them give their
lessons in little doses when they felt inclined. And very little
doses I found they were before long, for I never met people more
indolent or more easily fatigued.
`A queer thing I soon discovered about my little hosts, and
that was their lack of interest. They would come to me with
eager cries of astonishment, like children, but like children
they would soon stop examining me and wander away after some
other toy. The dinner and my conversational beginnings ended, I
noted for the first time that almost all those who had surrounded
me at first were gone. It is odd, too, how speedily I came to
disregard these little people. I went out through the portal
into the sunlit world again as soon as my hunger was satisfied.
I was continually meeting more of these men of the future, who
would follow me a little distance, chatter and laugh about me,
and, having smiled and gesticulated in a friendly way, leave me
again to my own devices.
`The calm of evening was upon the world as I emerged from the
great hall, and the scene was lit by the warm glow of the setting
sun. At first things were very confusing. Everything was so
entirely different from the world I had known--even the
flowers. The big building I had left was situated on the slope
of a broad river valley, but the Thames had shifted perhaps a
mile from its present position. I resolved to mount to the
summit of a crest perhaps a mile and a half away, from which I
could get a wider view of this our planet in the year Eight
Hundred and Two Thousand Seven Hundred and One A.D. For that, I
should explain, was the date the little dials of my machine
`As I walked I was watching for every impression that could
possibly help to explain the condition of ruinous splendour in
which I found the world--for ruinous it was. A little way up
the hill, for instance, was a great heap of granite, bound
together by masses of aluminium, a vast labyrinth of precipitous
walls and crumpled heaps, amidst which were thick heaps of very
beautiful pagoda-like plants--nettles possibly--but wonderfully
tinted with brown about the leaves, and incapable of stinging.
It was evidently the derelict remains of some vast structure, to
what end built I could not determine. It was here that I was
destined, at a later date, to have a very strange experience--the
first intimation of a still stranger discovery--but of that I
will speak in its proper place.
`Looking round with a sudden thought, from a terrace on which
I rested for a while, I realized that there were no small houses
to be seen. Apparently the single house, and possibly even the
household, had vanished. Here and there among the greenery were
palace-like buildings, but the house and the cottage, which form
such characteristic features of our own English landscape, had
`"Communism," said I to myself.
`And on the heels of that came another thought. I looked at
the half-dozen little figures that were following me. Then, in a
flash, I perceived that all had the same form of costume, the
same soft hairless visage, and the same girlish rotundity of
limb. It may seem strange, perhaps, that I had not noticed this
before. But everything was so strange. Now, I saw the fact
plainly enough. In costume, and in all the differences of
texture and bearing that now mark off the sexes from each other,
these people of the future were alike. And the children seemed
to my eyes to be but the miniatures of their parents. I judged,
then, that the children of that time were extremely precocious,
physically at least, and I found afterwards abundant verification
of my opinion.
`Seeing the ease and security in which these people were
living, I felt that this close resemblance of the sexes was after
all what one would expect; for the strength of a man and the
softness of a woman, the institution of the family, and the
differentiation of occupations are mere militant necessities of
an age of physical force; where population is balanced and
abundant, much childbearing becomes an evil rather than a
blessing to the State; where violence comes but rarely and
off-spring are secure, there is less necessity--indeed there is
no necessity--for an efficient family, and the specialization
of the sexes with reference to their children's needs disappears.
We see some beginnings of this even in our own time, and in this
future age it was complete. This, I must remind you, was my
speculation at the time. Later, I was to appreciate how far it
fell short of the reality.
`While I was musing upon these things, my attention was
attracted by a pretty little structure, like a well under a
cupola. I thought in a transitory way of the oddness of wells
still existing, and then resumed the thread of my speculations.
There were no large buildings towards the top of the hill, and as
my walking powers were evidently miraculous, I was presently left
alone for the first time. With a strange sense of freedom and
adventure I pushed on up to the crest.
`There I found a seat of some yellow metal that I did not
recognize, corroded in places with a kind of pinkish rust and
half smothered in soft moss, the arm-rests cast and filed into
the resemblance of griffins' heads. I sat down on it, and I
surveyed the broad view of our old world under the sunset of that
long day. It was as sweet and fair a view as I have ever seen.
The sun had already gone below the horizon and the west was
flaming gold, touched with some horizontal bars of purple and
crimson. Below was the valley of the Thames, in which the river
lay like a band of burnished steel. I have already spoken of the
great palaces dotted about among the variegated greenery, some in
ruins and some still occupied. Here and there rose a white or
silvery figure in the waste garden of the earth, here and there
came the sharp vertical line of some cupola or obelisk. There
were no hedges, no signs of proprietary rights, no evidences of
agriculture; the whole earth had become a garden.
`So watching, I began to put my interpretation upon the things
I had seen, and as it shaped itself to me that evening, my
interpretation was something in this way. (Afterwards I found I
had got only a half-truth--or only a glimpse of one facet of
`It seemed to me that I had happened upon humanity upon the
wane. The ruddy sunset set me thinking of the sunset of mankind.
For the first time I began to realize an odd consequence of the
social effort in which we are at present engaged. And yet, come
to think, it is a logical consequence enough. Strength is the
outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. The work
of ameliorating the conditions of life--the true civilizing
process that makes life more and more secure--had gone steadily
on to a climax. One triumph of a united humanity over Nature had
followed another. Things that are now mere dreams had become
projects deliberately put in hand and carried forward. And the
harvest was what I saw!
`After all, the sanitation and the agriculture of to-day are
still in the rudimentary stage. The science of our time has
attacked but a little department of the field of human disease,
but even so, it spreads its operations very steadily and
persistently. Our agriculture and horticulture destroy a weed
just here and there and cultivate perhaps a score or so of
wholesome plants, leaving the greater number to fight out a
balance as they can. We improve our favourite plants and animals
--and how few they are--gradually by selective breeding; now a
new and better peach, now a seedless grape, now a sweeter and
larger flower, now a more convenient breed of cattle. We improve
them gradually, because our ideals are vague and tentative, and
our knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, is shy and
slow in our clumsy hands. Some day all this will be better
organized, and still better. That is the drift of the current in
spite of the eddies. The whole world will be intelligent,
educated, and co-operating; things will move faster and faster
towards the subjugation of Nature. In the end, wisely and
carefully we shall readjust the balance of animal and vegetable
to suit our human needs.
`This adjustment, I say, must have been done, and done well;
done indeed for all Time, in the space of Time across which my
machine had leaped. The air was free from gnats, the earth from
weeds or fungi; everywhere were fruits and sweet and delightful
flowers; brilliant butterflies flew hither and thither. The
ideal of preventive medicine was attained. Diseases had been
stamped out. I saw no evidence of any contagious diseases during
all my stay. And I shall have to tell you later that even the
processes of putrefaction and decay had been profoundly affected
by these changes.
`Social triumphs, too, had been effected. I saw mankind
housed in splendid shelters, gloriously clothed, and as yet I had
found them engaged in no toil. There were no signs of struggle,
neither social nor economical struggle. The shop, the
advertisement, traffic, all that commerce which constitutes the
body of our world, was gone. It was natural on that golden
evening that I should jump at the idea of a social paradise. The
difficulty of increasing population had been met, I guessed, and
population had ceased to increase.
`But with this change in condition comes inevitably
adaptations to the change. What, unless biological science is a
mass of errors, is the cause of human intelligence and vigour?
Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong,
and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that
put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon
self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of
the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce
jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion,
all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers
of the young. NOW, where are these imminent dangers? There is
a sentiment arising, and it will grow, against connubial
jealousy, against fierce maternity, against passion of all sorts;
unnecessary things now, and things that make us uncomfortable,
savage survivals, discords in a refined and pleasant life.
`I thought of the physical slightness of the people, their
lack of intelligence, and those big abundant ruins, and it
strengthened my belief in a perfect conquest of Nature. For
after the battle comes Quiet. Humanity had been strong,
energetic, and intelligent, and had used all its abundant
vitality to alter the conditions under which it lived. And now
came the reaction of the altered conditions.
`Under the new conditions of perfect comfort and security,
that restless energy, that with us is strength, would become
weakness. Even in our own time certain tendencies and desires,
once necessary to survival, are a constant source of failure.
Physical courage and the love of battle, for instance, are no
great help--may even be hindrances--to a civilized man. And
in a state of physical balance and security, power, intellectual
as well as physical, would be out of place. For countless years
I judged there had been no danger of war or solitary violence, no
danger from wild beasts, no wasting disease to require strength
of constitution, no need of toil. For such a life, what we
should call the weak are as well equipped as the strong, are
indeed no longer weak. Better equipped indeed they are, for the
strong would be fretted by an energy for which there was no
outlet. No doubt the exquisite beauty of the buildings I saw was
the outcome of the last surgings of the now purposeless energy of
mankind before it settled down into perfect harmony with the
conditions under which it lived--the flourish of that triumph
which began the last great peace. This has ever been the fate of
energy in security; it takes to art and to eroticism, and then
come languor and decay.
`Even this artistic impetus would at last die away--had
almost died in the Time I saw. To adorn themselves with flowers,
to dance, to sing in the sunlight: so much was left of the
artistic spirit, and no more. Even that would fade in the end
into a contented inactivity. We are kept keen on the grindstone
of pain and necessity, and, it seemed to me, that here was that
hateful grindstone broken at last!
`As I stood there in the gathering dark I thought that in this
simple explanation I had mastered the problem of the world--
mastered the whole secret of these delicious people. Possibly
the checks they had devised for the increase of population had
succeeded too well, and their numbers had rather diminished than
kept stationary. That would account for the abandoned ruins.
Very simple was my explanation, and plausible enough--as most
wrong theories are!
`As I stood there musing over this too perfect triumph of man,
the full moon, yellow and gibbous, came up out of an overflow of
silver light in the north-east. The bright little figures ceased
to move about below, a noiseless owl flitted by, and I shivered
with the chill of the night. I determined to descend and find
where I could sleep.
`I looked for the building I knew. Then my eye travelled
along to the figure of the White Sphinx upon the pedestal of
bronze, growing distinct as the light of the rising moon grew
brighter. I could see the silver birch against it. There was
the tangle of rhododendron bushes, black in the pale light, and
there was the little lawn. I looked at the lawn again. A queer
doubt chilled my complacency. "No," said I stoutly to myself,
"that was not the lawn."
`But it WAS the lawn. For the white leprous face of the
sphinx was towards it. Can you imagine what I felt as this
conviction came home to me? But you cannot. The Time Machine
`At once, like a lash across the face, came the possibility of
losing my own age, of being left helpless in this strange new
world. The bare thought of it was an actual physical sensation.
I could feel it grip me at the throat and stop my breathing. In
another moment I was in a passion of fear and running with great
leaping strides down the slope. Once I fell headlong and cut my
face; I lost no time in stanching the blood, but jumped up and
ran on, with a warm trickle down my cheek and chin. All the time
I ran I was saying to myself: "They have moved it a little,
pushed it under the bushes out of the way." Nevertheless, I ran
with all my might. All the time, with the certainty that
sometimes comes with excessive dread, I knew that such assurance
was folly, knew instinctively that the machine was removed out of
my reach. My breath came with pain. I suppose I covered the
whole distance from the hill crest to the little lawn, two miles
perhaps, in ten minutes. And I am not a young man. I cursed
aloud, as I ran, at my confident folly in leaving the machine,
wasting good breath thereby. I cried aloud, and none answered.
Not a creature seemed to be stirring in that moonlit world.
`When I reached the lawn my worst fears were realized. Not a
trace of the thing was to be seen. I felt faint and cold when I
faced the empty space among the black tangle of bushes. I ran
round it furiously, as if the thing might be hidden in a corner,
and then stopped abruptly, with my hands clutching my hair.
Above me towered the sphinx, upon the bronze pedestal, white,
shining, leprous, in the light of the rising moon. It seemed to
smile in mockery of my dismay.
`I might have consoled myself by imagining the little people
had put the mechanism in some shelter for me, had I not felt
assured of their physical and intellectual inadequacy. That is
what dismayed me: the sense of some hitherto unsuspected power,
through whose intervention my invention had vanished. Yet, for
one thing I felt assured: unless some other age had produced its
exact duplicate, the machine could not have moved in time. The
attachment of the levers--I will show you the method later--
prevented any one from tampering with it in that way when they
were removed. It had moved, and was hid, only in space. But
then, where could it be?
`I think I must have had a kind of frenzy. I remember running
violently in and out among the moonlit bushes all round the
sphinx, and startling some white animal that, in the dim light, I
took for a small deer. I remember, too, late that night, beating
the bushes with my clenched fist until my knuckles were gashed
and bleeding from the broken twigs. Then, sobbing and raving in
my anguish of mind, I went down to the great building of stone.
The big hall was dark, silent, and deserted. I slipped on the
uneven floor, and fell over one of the malachite tables, almost
breaking my shin. I lit a match and went on past the dusty
curtains, of which I have told you.
`There I found a second great hall covered with cushions, upon
which, perhaps, a score or so of the little people were sleeping.
I have no doubt they found my second appearance strange enough,
coming suddenly out of the quiet darkness with inarticulate
noises and the splutter and flare of a match. For they had
forgotten about matches. "Where is my Time Machine?" I began,
bawling like an angry child, laying hands upon them and shaking
them up together. It must have been very queer to them. Some
laughed, most of them looked sorely frightened. When I saw them
standing round me, it came into my head that I was doing as
foolish a thing as it was possible for me to do under the
circumstances, in trying to revive the sensation of fear. For,
reasoning from their daylight behaviour, I thought that fear must
`Abruptly, I dashed down the match, and, knocking one of the
people over in my course, went blundering across the big
dining-hall again, out under the moonlight. I heard cries of
terror and their little feet running and stumbling this way and
that. I do not remember all I did as the moon crept up the sky.
I suppose it was the unexpected nature of my loss that maddened
me. I felt hopelessly cut off from my own kind--a strange
animal in an unknown world. I must have raved to and fro,
screaming and crying upon God and Fate. I have a memory of
horrible fatigue, as the long night of despair wore away; of
looking in this impossible place and that; of groping among
moon-lit ruins and touching strange creatures in the black
shadows; at last, of lying on the ground near the sphinx and
weeping with absolute wretchedness. I had nothing left but
misery. Then I slept, and when I woke again it was full day, and
a couple of sparrows were hopping round me on the turf within
reach of my arm.
`I sat up in the freshness of the morning, trying to remember
how I had got there, and why I had such a profound sense of
desertion and despair. Then things came clear in my mind. With
the plain, reasonable daylight, I could look my circumstances
fairly in the face. I saw the wild folly of my frenzy overnight,
and I could reason with myself. "Suppose the worst?" I said.
"Suppose the machine altogether lost--perhaps destroyed? It
behooves me to be calm and patient, to learn the way of the
people, to get a clear idea of the method of my loss, and the
means of getting materials and tools; so that in the end,
perhaps, I may make another." That would be my only hope,
perhaps, but better than despair. And, after all, it was a
beautiful and curious world.
`But probably, the machine had only been taken away. Still, I
must be calm and patient, find its hiding-place, and recover it
by force or cunning. And with that I scrambled to my feet and
looked about me, wondering where I could bathe. I felt weary,
stiff, and travel-soiled. The freshness of the morning made me
desire an equal freshness. I had exhausted my emotion. Indeed,
as I went about my business, I found myself wondering at my
intense excitement overnight. I made a careful examination of
the ground about the little lawn. I wasted some time in futile
questionings, conveyed, as well as I was able, to such of the
little people as came by. They all failed to understand my
gestures; some were simply stolid, some thought it was a jest and
laughed at me. I had the hardest task in the world to keep my
hands off their pretty laughing faces. It was a foolish impulse,
but the devil begotten of fear and blind anger was ill curbed and
still eager to take advantage of my perplexity. The turf gave
better counsel. I found a groove ripped in it, about midway
between the pedestal of the sphinx and the marks of my feet
where, on arrival, I had struggled with the overturned machine.
There were other signs of removal about, with queer narrow
footprints like those I could imagine made by a sloth. This
directed my closer attention to the pedestal. It was, as I think
I have said, of bronze. It was not a mere block, but highly
decorated with deep framed panels on either side. I went and
rapped at these. The pedestal was hollow. Examining the panels
with care I found them discontinuous with the frames. There were
no handles or keyholes, but possibly the panels, if they were
doors, as I supposed, opened from within. One thing was clear
enough to my mind. It took no very great mental effort to infer
that my Time Machine was inside that pedestal. But how it got
there was a different problem.
`I saw the heads of two orange-clad people coming through the
bushes and under some blossom-covered apple-trees towards me. I
turned smiling to them and beckoned them to me. They came, and
then, pointing to the bronze pedestal, I tried to intimate my
wish to open it. But at my first gesture towards this they
behaved very oddly. I don't know how to convey their expression
to you. Suppose you were to use a grossly improper gesture to a
delicate-minded woman--it is how she would look. They went off
as if they had received the last possible insult. I tried a
sweet-looking little chap in white next, with exactly the same
result. Somehow, his manner made me feel ashamed of myself.
But, as you know, I wanted the Time Machine, and I tried him once
more. As he turned off, like the others, my temper got the
better of me. In three strides I was after him, had him by the
loose part of his robe round the neck, and began dragging him
towards the sphinx. Then I saw the horror and repugnance of his
face, and all of a sudden I let him go.
`But I was not beaten yet. I banged with my fist at the
bronze panels. I thought I heard something stir inside--to be
explicit, I thought I heard a sound like a chuckle--but I must
have been mistaken. Then I got a big pebble from the river, and
came and hammered till I had flattened a coil in the decorations,
and the verdigris came off in powdery flakes. The delicate
little people must have heard me hammering in gusty outbreaks a
mile away on either hand, but nothing came of it. I saw a crowd
of them upon the slopes, looking furtively at me. At last, hot
and tired, I sat down to watch the place. But I was too restless
to watch long; I am too Occidental for a long vigil. I could
work at a problem for years, but to wait inactive for twenty-four
hours--that is another matter.
`I got up after a time, and began walking aimlessly through
the bushes towards the hill again. "Patience," said I to myself.
"If you want your machine again you must leave that sphinx
alone. If they mean to take your machine away, it's little good
your wrecking their bronze panels, and if they don't, you will
get it back as soon as you can ask for it. To sit among all
those unknown things before a puzzle like that is hopeless. That
way lies monomania. Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it,
be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you
will find clues to it all." Then suddenly the humour of the
situation came into my mind: the thought of the years I had spent
in study and toil to get into the future age, and now my passion
of anxiety to get out of it. I had made myself the most
complicated and the most hopeless trap that ever a man devised.
Although it was at my own expense, I could not help myself. I
`Going through the big palace, it seemed to me that the little
people avoided me. It may have been my fancy, or it may have had
something to do with my hammering at the gates of bronze. Yet I
felt tolerably sure of the avoidance. I was careful, however, to
show no concern and to abstain from any pursuit of them, and in
the course of a day or two things got back to the old footing. I
made what progress I could in the language, and in addition I
pushed my explorations here and there. Either I missed some
subtle point or their language was excessively simple--almost
exclusively composed of concrete substantives and verbs. There
seemed to be few, if any, abstract terms, or little use of
figurative language. Their sentences were usually simple and of
two words, and I failed to convey or understand any but the
simplest propositions. I determined to put the thought of my
Time Machine and the mystery of the bronze doors under the sphinx
as much as possible in a corner of memory, until my growing
knowledge would lead me back to them in a natural way. Yet a
certain feeling, you may understand, tethered me in a circle of a
few miles round the point of my arrival.
`So far as I could see, all the world displayed the same
exuberant richness as the Thames valley. From every hill I
climbed I saw the same abundance of splendid buildings, endlessly
varied in material and style, the same clustering thickets of
evergreens, the same blossom-laden trees and tree-ferns. Here
and there water shone like silver, and beyond, the land rose into
blue undulating hills, and so faded into the serenity of the sky.
A peculiar feature, which presently attracted my attention, was
the presence of certain circular wells, several, as it seemed to
me, of a very great depth. One lay by the path up the hill,
which I had followed during my first walk. Like the others, it
was rimmed with bronze, curiously wrought, and protected by a
little cupola from the rain. Sitting by the side of these wells,
and peering down into the shafted darkness, I could see no gleam
of water, nor could I start any reflection with a lighted match.
But in all of them I heard a certain sound: a thud-thud-thud,
like the beating of some big engine; and I discovered, from the
flaring of my matches, that a steady current of air set down the
shafts. Further, I threw a scrap of paper into the throat of
one, and, instead of fluttering slowly down, it was at once
sucked swiftly out of sight.
`After a time, too, I came to connect these wells with tall
towers standing here and there upon the slopes; for above them
there was often just such a flicker in the air as one sees on a
hot day above a sun-scorched beach. Putting things together, I
reached a strong suggestion of an extensive system of
subterranean ventilation, whose true import it was difficult to
imagine. I was at first inclined to associate it with the
sanitary apparatus of these people. It was an obvious
conclusion, but it was absolutely wrong.
`And here I must admit that I learned very little of drains
and bells and modes of conveyance, and the like conveniences,
during my time in this real future. In some of these visions of
Utopias and coming times which I have read, there is a vast
amount of detail about building, and social arrangements, and so
forth. But while such details are easy enough to obtain when the
whole world is contained in one's imagination, they are
altogether inaccessible to a real traveller amid such realities
as I found here. Conceive the tale of London which a negro,
fresh from Central Africa, would take back to his tribe! What
would he know of railway companies, of social movements, of
telephone and telegraph wires, of the Parcels Delivery Company,
and postal orders and the like? Yet we, at least, should be
willing enough to explain these things to him! And even of what
he knew, how much could he make his untravelled friend either
apprehend or believe? Then, think how narrow the gap between a
negro and a white man of our own times, and how wide the interval
between myself and these of the Golden Age! I was sensible of
much which was unseen, and which contributed to my comfort; but
save for a general impression of automatic organization, I fear I
can convey very little of the difference to your mind.
`In the matter of sepulchre, for instance, I could see no
signs of crematoria nor anything suggestive of tombs. But it
occurred to me that, possibly, there might be cemeteries (or
crematoria) somewhere beyond the range of my explorings. This,
again, was a question I deliberately put to myself, and my
curiosity was at first entirely defeated upon the point. The
thing puzzled me, and I was led to make a further remark, which
puzzled me still more: that aged and infirm among this people
there were none.
`I must confess that my satisfaction with my first theories of
an automatic civilization and a decadent humanity did not long
endure. Yet I could think of no other. Let me put my
difficulties. The several big palaces I had explored were mere
living places, great dining-halls and sleeping apartments. I
could find no machinery, no appliances of any kind. Yet these
people were clothed in pleasant fabrics that must at times need
renewal, and their sandals, though undecorated, were fairly
complex specimens of metalwork. Somehow such things must be
made. And the little people displayed no vestige of a creative
tendency. There were no shops, no workshops, no sign of
importations among them. They spent all their time in playing
gently, in bathing in the river, in making love in a half-playful
fashion, in eating fruit and sleeping. I could not see how
things were kept going.
`Then, again, about the Time Machine: something, I knew not
what, had taken it into the hollow pedestal of the White Sphinx.
Why? For the life of me I could not imagine. Those waterless
wells, too, those flickering pillars. I felt I lacked a clue. I
felt--how shall I put it? Suppose you found an inscription,
with sentences here and there in excellent plain English, and
interpolated therewith, others made up of words, of letters even,
absolutely unknown to you? Well, on the third day of my visit,
that was how the world of Eight Hundred and Two Thousand Seven
Hundred and One presented itself to me!
`That day, too, I made a friend--of a sort. It happened
that, as I was watching some of the little people bathing in a
shallow, one of them was seized with cramp and began drifting
downstream. The main current ran rather swiftly, but not too
strongly for even a moderate swimmer. It will give you an idea,
therefore, of the strange deficiency in these creatures, when I
tell you that none made the slightest attempt to rescue the
weakly crying little thing which was drowning before their eyes.
When I realized this, I hurriedly slipped off my clothes, and,
wading in at a point lower down, I caught the poor mite and drew
her safe to land. A little rubbing of the limbs soon brought her
round, and I had the satisfaction of seeing she was all right
before I left her. I had got to such a low estimate of her kind
that I did not expect any gratitude from her. In that, however,
I was wrong.
`This happened in the morning. In the afternoon I met my
little woman, as I believe it was, as I was returning towards my
centre from an exploration, and she received me with cries of
delight and presented me with a big garland of flowers--
evidently made for me and me alone. The thing took my
imagination. Very possibly I had been feeling desolate. At any
rate I did my best to display my appreciation of the gift. We
were soon seated together in a little stone arbour, engaged in
conversation, chiefly of smiles. The creature's friendliness
affected me exactly as a child's might have done. We passed each
other flowers, and she kissed my hands. I did the same to hers.
Then I tried talk, and found that her name was Weena, which,
though I don't know what it meant, somehow seemed appropriate
enough. That was the beginning of a queer friendship which
lasted a week, and ended--as I will tell you!
`She was exactly like a child. She wanted to be with me
always. She tried to follow me everywhere, and on my next
journey out and about it went to my heart to tire her down, and
leave her at last, exhausted and calling after me rather
plaintively. But the problems of the world had to be mastered.
I had not, I said to myself, come into the future to carry on a
miniature flirtation. Yet her distress when I left her was very
great, her expostulations at the parting were sometimes frantic,
and I think, altogether, I had as much trouble as comfort from
her devotion. Nevertheless she was, somehow, a very great
comfort. I thought it was mere childish affection that made her
cling to me. Until it was too late, I did not clearly know what
I had inflicted upon her when I left her. Nor until it was too
late did I clearly understand what she was to me. For, by merely
seeming fond of me, and showing in her weak, futile way that she
cared for me, the little doll of a creature presently gave my
return to the neighbourhood of the White Sphinx almost the
feeling of coming home; and I would watch for her tiny figure of
white and gold so soon as I came over the hill.
`It was from her, too, that I learned that fear had not yet
left the world. She was fearless enough in the daylight, and she
had the oddest confidence in me; for once, in a foolish moment, I
made threatening grimaces at her, and she simply laughed at them.
But she dreaded the dark, dreaded shadows, dreaded black things.
Darkness to her was the one thing dreadful. It was a singularly
passionate emotion, and it set me thinking and observing. I
discovered then, among other things, that these little people
gathered into the great houses after dark, and slept in droves.
To enter upon them without a light was to put them into a tumult
of apprehension. I never found one out of doors, or one sleeping
alone within doors, after dark. Yet I was still such a blockhead
that I missed the lesson of that fear, and in spite of Weena's
distress I insisted upon sleeping away from these slumbering
`It troubled her greatly, but in the end her odd affection for
me triumphed, and for five of the nights of our acquaintance,
including the last night of all, she slept with her head pillowed
on my arm. But my story slips away from me as I speak of her.
It must have been the night before her rescue that I was awakened
about dawn. I had been restless, dreaming most disagreeably that
I was drowned, and that sea anemones were feeling over my face
with their soft palps. I woke with a start, and with an odd
fancy that some greyish animal had just rushed out of the
chamber. I tried to get to sleep again, but I felt restless and
uncomfortable. It was that dim grey hour when things are just
creeping out of darkness, when everything is colourless and clear
cut, and yet unreal. I got up, and went down into the great
hall, and so out upon the flagstones in front of the palace. I
thought I would make a virtue of necessity, and see the sunrise.
`The moon was setting, and the dying moonlight and the first
pallor of dawn were mingled in a ghastly half-light. The bushes
were inky black, the ground a sombre grey, the sky colourless and
cheerless. And up the hill I thought I could see ghosts. There
several times, as I scanned the slope, I saw white figures.
Twice I fancied I saw a solitary white, ape-like creature running
rather quickly up the hill, and once near the ruins I saw a leash
of them carrying some dark body. They moved hastily. I did not
see what became of them. It seemed that they vanished among the
bushes. The dawn was still indistinct, you must understand. I
was feeling that chill, uncertain, early-morning feeling you may
have known. I doubted my eyes.
`As the eastern sky grew brighter, and the light of the day
came on and its vivid colouring returned upon the world once
more, I scanned the view keenly. But I saw no vestige of my
white figures. They were mere creatures of the half light.
"They must have been ghosts," I said; "I wonder whence they
dated." For a queer notion of Grant Allen's came into my head,
and amused me. If each generation die and leave ghosts, he
argued, the world at last will get overcrowded with them. On
that theory they would have grown innumerable some Eight Hundred
Thousand Years hence, and it was no great wonder to see four at
once. But the jest was unsatisfying, and I was thinking of these
figures all the morning, until Weena's rescue drove them out of
my head. I associated them in some indefinite way with the white
animal I had startled in my first passionate search for the Time
Machine. But Weena was a pleasant substitute. Yet all the same,
they were soon destined to take far deadlier possession of my
`I think I have said how much hotter than our own was the
weather of this Golden Age. I cannot account for it. It may be
that the sun was hotter, or the earth nearer the sun. It is
usual to assume that the sun will go on cooling steadily in the
future. But people, unfamiliar with such speculations as those
of the younger Darwin, forget that the planets must ultimately
fall back one by one into the parent body. As these catastrophes
occur, the sun will blaze with renewed energy; and it may be that
some inner planet had suffered this fate. Whatever the reason,
the fact remains that the sun was very much hotter than we know
`Well, one very hot morning--my fourth, I think--as I was
seeking shelter from the heat and glare in a colossal ruin near
the great house where I slept and fed, there happened this
strange thing: Clambering among these heaps of masonry, I found a
narrow gallery, whose end and side windows were blocked by fallen
masses of stone. By contrast with the brilliancy outside, it
seemed at first impenetrably dark to me. I entered it groping,
for the change from light to blackness made spots of colour swim
before me. Suddenly I halted spellbound. A pair of eyes,
luminous by reflection against the daylight without, was watching
me out of the darkness.
`The old instinctive dread of wild beasts came upon me. I
clenched my hands and steadfastly looked into the glaring
eyeballs. I was afraid to turn. Then the thought of the
absolute security in which humanity appeared to be living came to
my mind. And then I remembered that strange terror of the dark.
Overcoming my fear to some extent, I advanced a step and spoke.
I will admit that my voice was harsh and ill-controlled. I put
out my hand and touched something soft. At once the eyes darted
sideways, and something white ran past me. I turned with my
heart in my mouth, and saw a queer little ape-like figure, its
head held down in a peculiar manner, running across the sunlit
space behind me. It blundered against a block of granite,
staggered aside, and in a moment was hidden in a black shadow
beneath another pile of ruined masonry.
`My impression of it is, of course, imperfect; but I know it
was a dull white, and had strange large greyish-red eyes; also
that there was flaxen hair on its head and down its back. But,
as I say, it went too fast for me to see distinctly. I cannot
even say whether it ran on all-fours, or only with its forearms
held very low. After an instant's pause I followed it into the
second heap of ruins. I could not find it at first; but, after a
time in the profound obscurity, I came upon one of those round
well-like openings of which I have told you, half closed by a
fallen pillar. A sudden thought came to me. Could this Thing
have vanished down the shaft? I lit a match, and, looking down,
I saw a small, white, moving creature, with large bright eyes
which regarded me steadfastly as it retreated. It made me
shudder. It was so like a human spider! It was clambering down
the wall, and now I saw for the first time a number of metal foot
and hand rests forming a kind of ladder down the shaft. Then the
light burned my fingers and fell out of my hand, going out as it
dropped, and when I had lit another the little monster had
`I do not know how long I sat peering down that well. It was
not for some time that I could succeed in persuading myself that
the thing I had seen was human. But, gradually, the truth dawned
on me: that Man had not remained one species, but had
differentiated into two distinct animals: that my graceful
children of the Upper-world were not the sole descendants of our
generation, but that this bleached, obscene, nocturnal Thing,
which had flashed before me, was also heir to all the ages.
`I thought of the flickering pillars and of my theory of an
underground ventilation. I began to suspect their true import.
And what, I wondered, was this Lemur doing in my scheme of a
perfectly balanced organization? How was it related to the
indolent serenity of the beautiful Upper-worlders? And what was
hidden down there, at the foot of that shaft? I sat upon the
edge of the well telling myself that, at any rate, there was
nothing to fear, and that there I must descend for the solution
of my difficulties. And withal I was absolutely afraid to go!
As I hesitated, two of the beautiful Upper-world people came
running in their amorous sport across the daylight in the shadow.
The male pursued the female, flinging flowers at her as he ran.
`They seemed distressed to find me, my arm against the
overturned pillar, peering down the well. Apparently it was
considered bad form to remark these apertures; for when I pointed
to this one, and tried to frame a question about it in their
tongue, they were still more visibly distressed and turned away.
But they were interested by my matches, and I struck some to
amuse them. I tried them again about the well, and again I
failed. So presently I left them, meaning to go back to Weena,
and see what I could get from her. But my mind was already in
revolution; my guesses and impressions were slipping and sliding
to a new adjustment. I had now a clue to the import of these
wells, to the ventilating towers, to the mystery of the ghosts;
to say nothing of a hint at the meaning of the bronze gates and
the fate of the Time Machine! And very vaguely there came a
suggestion towards the solution of the economic problem that had
`Here was the new view. Plainly, this second species of Man
was subterranean. There were three circumstances in particular
which made me think that its rare emergence above ground was the
outcome of a long-continued underground habit. In the first
place, there was the bleached look common in most animals that
live largely in the dark--the white fish of the Kentucky caves,
for instance. Then, those large eyes, with that capacity for
reflecting light, are common features of nocturnal things--
witness the owl and the cat. And last of all, that evident
confusion in the sunshine, that hasty yet fumbling awkward flight
towards dark shadow, and that peculiar carriage of the head while
in the light--all reinforced the theory of an extreme
sensitiveness of the retina.
`Beneath my feet, then, the earth must be tunnelled
enormously, and these tunnellings were the habitat of the new
race. The presence of ventilating shafts and wells along the
hill slopes--everywhere, in fact except along the river valley
--showed how universal were its ramifications. What so natural,
then, as to assume that it was in this artificial Underworld that
such work as was necessary to the comfort of the daylight race
was done? The notion was so plausible that I at once accepted
it, and went on to assume the how of this splitting of the human
species. I dare say you will anticipate the shape of my theory;
though, for myself, I very soon felt that it fell far short of
`At first, proceeding from the problems of our own age, it
seemed clear as daylight to me that the gradual widening of the
present merely temporary and social difference between the
Capitalist and the Labourer, was the key to the whole position.
No doubt it will seem grotesque enough to you--and wildly
incredible!--and yet even now there are existing circumstances
to point that way. There is a tendency to utilize underground
space for the less ornamental purposes of civilization; there is
the Metropolitan Railway in London, for instance, there are new
electric railways, there are subways, there are underground
workrooms and restaurants, and they increase and multiply.
Evidently, I thought, this tendency had increased till Industry
had gradually lost its birthright in the sky. I mean that it had
gone deeper and deeper into larger and ever larger underground
factories, spending a still-increasing amount of its time
therein, till, in the end--! Even now, does not an East-end
worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be
cut off from the natural surface of the earth?
`Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people--due, no
doubt, to the increasing refinement of their education, and the
widening gulf between them and the rude violence of the poor--
is already leading to the closing, in their interest, of
considerable portions of the surface of the land. About London,
for instance, perhaps half the prettier country is shut in
against intrusion. And this same widening gulf--which is due
to the length and expense of the higher educational process and
the increased facilities for and temptations towards refined
habits on the part of the rich--will make that exchange between
class and class, that promotion by intermarriage which at present
retards the splitting of our species along lines of social
stratification, less and less frequent. So, in the end, above
ground you must have the Haves, pursuing pleasure and comfort and
beauty, and below ground the Have-nots, the Workers getting
continually adapted to the conditions of their labour. Once they
were there, they would no doubt have to pay rent, and not a
little of it, for the ventilation of their caverns; and if they
refused, they would starve or be suffocated for arrears. Such of
them as were so constituted as to be miserable and rebellious
would die; and, in the end, the balance being permanent, the
survivors would become as well adapted to the conditions of
underground life, and as happy in their way, as the Upper-world
people were to theirs. As it seemed to me, the refined beauty
and the etiolated pallor followed naturally enough.
`The great triumph of Humanity I had dreamed of took a
different shape in my mind. It had been no such triumph of moral
education and general co-operation as I had imagined. Instead, I
saw a real aristocracy, armed with a perfected science and
working to a logical conclusion the industrial system of to-day.
Its triumph had not been simply a triumph over Nature, but a
triumph over Nature and the fellow-man. This, I must warn you,
was my theory at the time. I had no convenient cicerone in the
pattern of the Utopian books. My explanation may be absolutely
wrong. I still think it is the most plausible one. But even on
this supposition the balanced civilization that was at last
attained must have long since passed its zenith, and was now far
fallen into decay. The too-perfect security of the
Upper-worlders had led them to a slow movement of degeneration,
to a general dwindling in size, strength, and intelligence. That
I could see clearly enough already. What had happened to the
Under-grounders I did not yet suspect; but from what I had seen
of the Morlocks--that, by the by, was the name by which these
creatures were called--I could imagine that the modification of
the human type was even far more profound than among the "Eloi,"
the beautiful race that I already knew.
`Then came troublesome doubts. Why had the Morlocks taken my
Time Machine? For I felt sure it was they who had taken it.
Why, too, if the Eloi were masters, could they not restore the
machine to me? And why were they so terribly afraid of the dark?
I proceeded, as I have said, to question Weena about this
Under-world, but here again I was disappointed. At first she
would not understand my questions, and presently she refused to
answer them. She shivered as though the topic was unendurable.
And when I pressed her, perhaps a little harshly, she burst into
tears. They were the only tears, except my own, I ever saw in
that Golden Age. When I saw them I ceased abruptly to trouble
about the Morlocks, and was only concerned in banishing these
signs of the human inheritance from Weena's eyes. And very soon
she was smiling and clapping her hands, while I solemnly burned a
`It may seem odd to you, but it was two days before I could
follow up the new-found clue in what was manifestly the proper
way. I felt a peculiar shrinking from those pallid bodies. They
were just the half-bleached colour of the worms and things one
sees preserved in spirit in a zoological museum. And they were
filthily cold to the touch. Probably my shrinking was largely
due to the sympathetic influence of the Eloi, whose disgust of
the Morlocks I now began to appreciate.
`The next night I did not sleep well. Probably my health was
a little disordered. I was oppressed with perplexity and doubt.
Once or twice I had a feeling of intense fear for which I could
perceive no definite reason. I remember creeping noiselessly
into the great hall where the little people were sleeping in the
moonlight--that night Weena was among them--and feeling
reassured by their presence. It occurred to me even then, that
in the course of a few days the moon must pass through its last
quarter, and the nights grow dark, when the appearances of these
unpleasant creatures from below, these whitened Lemurs, this new
vermin that had replaced the old, might be more abundant. And on
both these days I had the restless feeling of one who shirks an
inevitable duty. I felt assured that the Time Machine was only
to be recovered by boldly penetrating these underground
mysteries. Yet I could not face the mystery. If only I had had
a companion it would have been different. But I was so horribly
alone, and even to clamber down into the darkness of the well
appalled me. I don't know if you will understand my feeling, but
I never felt quite safe at my back.
`It was this restlessness, this insecurity, perhaps, that
drove me further and further afield in my exploring expeditions.
Going to the south-westward towards the rising country that is
now called Combe Wood, I observed far off, in the direction of
nineteenth-century Banstead, a vast green structure, different in
character from any I had hitherto seen. It was larger than the
largest of the palaces or ruins I knew, and the facade had an
Oriental look: the face of it having the lustre, as well as the
pale-green tint, a kind of bluish-green, of a certain type of
Chinese porcelain. This difference in aspect suggested a
difference in use, and I was minded to push on and explore. But
the day was growing late, and I had come upon the sight of the
place after a long and tiring circuit; so I resolved to hold over
the adventure for the following day, and I returned to the
welcome and the caresses of little Weena. But next morning I
perceived clearly enough that my curiosity regarding the Palace
of Green Porcelain was a piece of self-deception, to enable me to
shirk, by another day, an experience I dreaded. I resolved I
would make the descent without further waste of time, and started
out in the early morning towards a well near the ruins of granite
`Little Weena ran with me. She danced beside me to the well,
but when she saw me lean over the mouth and look downward, she
seemed strangely disconcerted. "Good-bye, Little Weena," I said,
kissing her; and then putting her down, I began to feel over the
parapet for the climbing hooks. Rather hastily, I may as well
confess, for I feared my courage might leak away! At first she
watched me in amazement. Then she gave a most piteous cry, and
running to me, she began to pull at me with her little hands. I
think her opposition nerved me rather to proceed. I shook her
off, perhaps a little roughly, and in another moment I was in the
throat of the well. I saw her agonized face over the parapet,
and smiled to reassure her. Then I had to look down at the
unstable hooks to which I clung.
`I had to clamber down a shaft of perhaps two hundred yards.
The descent was effected by means of metallic bars projecting
from the sides of the well, and these being adapted to the needs
of a creature much smaller and lighter than myself, I was
speedily cramped and fatigued by the descent. And not simply
fatigued! One of the bars bent suddenly under my weight, and
almost swung me off into the blackness beneath. For a moment I
hung by one hand, and after that experience I did not dare to
rest again. Though my arms and back were presently acutely
painful, I went on clambering down the sheer descent with as
quick a motion as possible. Glancing upward, I saw the aperture,
a small blue disk, in which a star was visible, while little
Weena's head showed as a round black projection. The thudding
sound of a machine below grew louder and more oppressive.
Everything save that little disk above was profoundly dark, and
when I looked up again Weena had disappeared.
`I was in an agony of discomfort. I had some thought of
trying to go up the shaft again, and leave the Under-world alone.
But even while I turned this over in my mind I continued to
descend. At last, with intense relief, I saw dimly coming up, a
foot to the right of me, a slender loophole in the wall.
Swinging myself in, I found it was the aperture of a narrow
horizontal tunnel in which I could lie down and rest. It was not
too soon. My arms ached, my back was cramped, and I was
trembling with the prolonged terror of a fall. Besides this, the
unbroken darkness had had a distressing effect upon my eyes. The
air was full of the throb and hum of machinery pumping air down
`I do not know how long I lay. I was roused by a soft hand
touching my face. Starting up in the darkness I snatched at my
matches and, hastily striking one, I saw three stooping white
creatures similar to the one I had seen above ground in the ruin,
hastily retreating before the light. Living, as they did, in
what appeared to me impenetrable darkness, their eyes were
abnormally large and sensitive, just as are the pupils of the
abysmal fishes, and they reflected the light in the same way. I
have no doubt they could see me in that rayless obscurity, and
they did not seem to have any fear of me apart from the light.
But, so soon as I struck a match in order to see them, they fled
incontinently, vanishing into dark gutters and tunnels, from
which their eyes glared at me in the strangest fashion.
`I tried to call to them, but the language they had was
apparently different from that of the Over-world people; so that
I was needs left to my own unaided efforts, and the thought of
flight before exploration was even then in my mind. But I said
to myself, "You are in for it now," and, feeling my way along the
tunnel, I found the noise of machinery grow louder. Presently
the walls fell away from me, and I came to a large open space,
and striking another match, saw that I had entered a vast arched
cavern, which stretched into utter darkness beyond the range of
my light. The view I had of it was as much as one could see in
the burning of a match.
`Necessarily my memory is vague. Great shapes like big