The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him)
was expounding a recondite matter to us. His pale grey eyes shone and
twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire
burnt 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 runs gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to
us in this way—marking the points with a lean forefinger—as we sat and
lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it)
and his fecundity.
“You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two
ideas that are almost universally accepted. The geometry, for instance,
they taught you at school is founded on a misconception.”
“Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?” said Filby,
an argumentative person with red hair.
“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
“That is all right,” said the Psychologist.
“Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real
“There I object,” said Filby. “Of course a solid body may exist. All real
“So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an instantaneous cube
“Don’t follow you,” said Filby.
“Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?”
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