One of the best things about a theme party for me is enjoying all of the incidentals that go with it: the “staying in the mode” through the inspiration of the books, films, posters, TV shows, music, and whatever else is out there. The Travel Gear posts will showcase things which keep us inspired.
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
by Jules Verne
This is the closest I could find to the Scholastic Book Services Edition, October 1965, that was the copy my father owned and I read when I was a kid. I believe the text is nearly identical to the English Translation, Griffith Farran London, 1871. I compared the texts at this website and found few differences: http://jv.gilead.org.il/vt/c_earth/
I believe that since this is the 1871 text it is technically in the public domain, so for the convenience of our guests, I’m posting two chapters a week right here on the site. However, if you wish to own it or find it easier to read in either hard form or Kindle (which as far as I know is free)—and which I strongly recommend—here are the links:
We Continue Our Descent
At eight o’clock the next morning, a faint kind of dawn of day awoke us. The thousand and one prisms of the lava collected the light as it passed and brought it to us like a shower of sparks.
We were able with ease to see objects around us.
“Well, Harry, my boy,” cried the delighted Professor, rubbing his hands together, “what say you now? Did you ever pass a more tranquil night in our house in the Konigstrasse? No deafening sounds of cart wheels, no cries of hawkers, no bad language from boatmen or watermen!”
“Well, Uncle, we are quite at the bottom of this well—but to me there is something terrible in this calm.”
“Why,” said the Professor hotly, “one would say you were already beginning to be afraid. How will you get on presently? Do you know, that as yet, we have not penetrated one inch into the bowels of the earth.”
“What can you mean, sir?” was my bewildered and astonished reply.
“I mean to say that we have only just reached the soil of the island itself. This long vertical tube, which ends at the bottom of the crater of Sneffels, ceases here just about on a level with the sea.”
“Are you sure, sir?”
“Quite sure. Consult the barometer.”
It was quite true that the mercury, after rising gradually in the instrument, as long as our descent was taking place, had stopped precisely at twenty-nine degrees.
“You perceive,” said the Professor, “we have as yet only to endure the pressure of air. I am curious to replace the barometer by the manometer.”
The barometer, in fact, was about to become useless-as soon as the weight of the air was greater than what was calculated as above the level of the ocean.
“But,” said I, “is it not very much to be feared that this ever-increasing pressure may not in the end turn out very painful and inconvenient?”
“No,” said he. “We shall descend very slowly, and our lungs will be gradually accustomed to breathe compressed air. It is well known that aëronauts have gone so high as to be nearly without air at all—why, then, should we not accustom ourselves to breathe when we have, say, a little too much of it? For myself, I am certain I shall prefer it. Let us not lose a moment. Where is the packet which preceded us in our descent?”
I smilingly pointed it out to my uncle. Hans had not seen it, and believed it caught somewhere above us: “Huppe” as he phrased it.
“Now,” said my uncle, “let us breakfast, and break fast like people who have a long day’s work before them.”
Biscuit and dried meat, washed down by some mouthfuls of water flavored withSchiedam, was the material of our luxurious meal.
As soon as it was finished, my uncle took from his pocket a notebook destined to be filled by memoranda of our travels. He had already placed his instruments in order, and this is what he wrote:
Monday, June 29th
Chronometer, 8h. 17m. morning. Barometer, 29.6 inches. Thermometer, 6° [43° Fahr.] Direction, E.S.E.
This last observation referred to the obscure gallery, and was indicated to us by the compass.
“Now, Harry,” cried the Professor, in an enthusiastic tone of voice, “we are truly about to take our first step into the Interior of the Earth; never before visited by man since the first creation of the world. You may consider, therefore, that at this precise moment our travels really commence.”
As my uncle made this remark, he took in one hand the Ruhmkorff coil apparatus, which hung round his neck, and with the other he put the electric current into communication with the worm of the lantern. And a bright light at once illumined that dark and gloomy tunnel!
The effect was magical!
Hans, who carried the second apparatus, had it also put into operation. This ingenious application of electricity to practical purposes enabled us to move along by the light of an artificial day, amid even the flow of the most inflammable and combustible gases.
“Forward!” cried my uncle. Each took up his burden. Hans went first, my uncle followed, and I going third, we entered the somber gallery!
Just as we were about to engulf ourselves in this dismal passage, I lifted up my head, and through the tubelike shaft saw thatIcelandsky I was never to see again!
Was it the last I should ever see of any sky?
The stream of lava flowing from the bowels of the earth in 1219 had forced itself a passage through the tunnel. It lined the whole of the inside with its thick and brilliant coating. The electric light added very greatly to the brilliancy of the effect.
The great difficulty of our journey now began. How were we to prevent ourselves from slipping down the steeply inclined plane? Happily some cracks, abrasures of the soil, and other irregularities, served the place of steps; and we descended slowly; allowing our heavy luggage to slip on before, at the end of a long cord.
But that which served as steps under our feet became in other places stalactites. The lava, very porous in certain places, took the form of little round blisters.Crystalsof opaque quartz, adorned with limpid drops of natural glass suspended to the roof like lusters, seemed to take fire as we passed beneath them. One would have fancied that the genii of romance were illuminating their underground palaces to receive the sons of men.
“Magnificent, glorious!” I cried in a moment of involuntary enthusiasm, “What a spectacle, Uncle! Do you not admire these variegated shades of lava, which run through a whole series of colors, from reddish brown to pale yellow—by the most insensible degrees? And these crystals, they appear like luminous globes.”
“You are beginning to see the charms of travel, Master Harry,” cried my uncle. “Wait a bit, until we advance farther. What we have as yet discovered is nothing—onwards, my boy, onwards!”
It would have been a far more correct and appropriate expression, had he said, “let us slide,” for we were going down an inclined plane with perfect ease. The compass indicated that we were moving in a southeasterly direction. The flow of lava had never turned to the right or the left. It had the inflexibility of a straight line.
Nevertheless, to my surprise, we found no perceptible increase in heat. This proved the theories of Humphry Davy to be founded on truth, and more than once I found myself examining the thermometer in silent astonishment.
Two hours after our departure it only marked fifty-four degrees Fahrenheit. I had every reason to believe from this that our descent was far more horizontal than vertical. As for discovering the exact depth to which we had attained, nothing could be easier. The Professor as he advanced measured the angles of deviation and inclination; but he kept the result of his observations to himself.
About eight o’clock in the evening, my uncle gave the signal for halting. Hans seated himself on the ground. The lamps were hung to fissures in the lava rock. We were now in a large cavern where air was not wanting. On the contrary, it abounded. What could be the cause of this—to what atmospheric agitation could be ascribed this draught? But this was a question which I did not care to discuss just then. Fatigue and hunger made me incapable of reasoning. An unceasing march of seven hours had not been kept up without great exhaustion. I was really and truly worn out; and delighted enough I was to hear the word Halt.
Hans laid out some provisions on a lump of lava, and we each supped with keen relish. One thing, however, caused us great uneasiness—our water reserve was already half exhausted. My uncle had full confidence in finding subterranean resources, but hitherto we had completely failed in so doing. I could not help calling my uncle’s attention to the circumstance.
“And you are surprised at this total absence of springs?” he said.
“Doubtless—I am very uneasy on the point. We have certainly not enough water to last us five days.”
“Be quite easy on that matter,” continued my uncle. “I answer for it we shall find plenty of water—in fact, far more than we shall want.”
“When we once get through this crust of lava. How can you expect springs to force their way through these solid stone walls?”
“But what is there to prove that this concrete mass of lava does not extend to the center of the earth? I don’t think we have as yet done much in a vertical way.”
“What puts that into your head, my boy?” asked my uncle mildly.
“Well, it appears to me that if we had descended very far below the level of the sea—we should find it rather hotter than we have.”
“According to your system,” said my uncle; “but what does the thermometer say?”
“Scarcely fifteen degrees by Reaumur, which is only an increase of nine since our departure.”
“Well, and what conclusion does that bring you to?” inquired the Professor.
“The deduction I draw from this is very simple. According to the most exact observations, the augmentation of the temperature of the interior of the earth is one degree for every hundred feet. But certain local causes may considerably modify this figure. Thus at Yakoust inSiberia, it has been remarked that the heat increases a degree every thirty-six feet. The difference evidently depends on the conductibility of certain rocks. In the neighborhood of an extinct volcano, it has been remarked that the elevation of temperature was only one degree in every five-and-twenty feet. Let us, then, go upon this calculation—which is the most favorable—and calculate.”
“Calculate away, my boy.”
“Nothing easier,” said I, pulling out my notebook and pencil. “Nine times one hundred and twenty-five feet make a depth of eleven hundred and twenty-five feet.”
“Archimedes could not have spoken more geometrically.”
“Well, according to my observations, we are at least ten thousand feet below the level of the sea.”
“Can it be possible?”
“Either my calculation is correct, or there is no truth in figures.”
The calculations of the Professor were perfectly correct. We were already six thousand feet deeper down in the bowels of the earth than anyone had ever been before. The lowest known depth to which man had hitherto penetrated was in the mines of Kitzbuhel, in the Tirol, and those ofWurttemberg.
The temperature, which should have been eighty-one, was in this place only fifteen. This was a matter for serious consideration.
The Eastern Tunnel
The next day was Tuesday, the 30th of June—and at six o’clock in the morning we resumed our journey.
We still continued to follow the gallery of lava, a perfect natural pathway, as easy of descent as some of those inclined planes which, in very old German houses, serve the purpose of staircases. This went on until seventeen minutes past twelve, the precise instant at which we rejoined Hans, who, having been somewhat in advance, had suddenly stopped.
“At last,” cried my uncle, “we have reached the end of the shaft.”
I looked wonderingly about me. We were in the center of four cross paths—somber and narrow tunnels. The question now arose as to which it was wise to take; and this of itself was no small difficulty.
My uncle, who did not wish to appear to have any hesitation about the matter before myself or the guide, at once made up his mind. He pointed quietly to the eastern tunnel; and, without delay, we entered within its gloomy recesses.
Besides, had he entertained any feeling of hesitation it might have been prolonged indefinitely, for there was no indication by which to determine on a choice. It was absolutely necessary to trust to chance and good fortune!
The descent of this obscure and narrow gallery was very gradual and winding. Sometimes we gazed through a succession of arches, its course very like the aisles of a Gothic cathedral. The great artistic sculptors and builders of the Middle Ages might have here completed their studies with advantage. Many most beautiful and suggestive ideas of architectural beauty would have been discovered by them. After passing through this phase of the cavernous way, we suddenly came, about a mile farther on, upon a square system of arch, adopted by the early Romans, projecting from the solid rock, and keeping up the weight of the roof.
Suddenly we would come upon a series of low subterranean tunnels which looked like beaver holes, or the work of foxes—through whose narrow and winding ways we had literally to crawl!
The heat still remained at quite a supportable degree. With an involuntary shudder, I reflected on what the heat must have been when the volcano of Sneffels was pouring its smoke, flames, and streams of boiling lava—all of which must have come up by the road we were now following. I could imagine the torrents of hot seething stone darting on, bubbling up with accompaniments of smoke, steam, and sulphurous stench!
“Only to think of the consequences,” I mused, “if the old volcano were once more to set to work.”
I did not communicate these rather unpleasant reflections to my uncle. He not only would not have understood them, but would have been intensely disgusted. His only idea was to go ahead. He walked, he slid, he clambered over piles of fragments, he rolled down heaps of broken lava, with an earnestness and conviction it was impossible not to admire.
At six o’clock in the evening, after a very wearisome journey, but one not so fatiguing as before, we had made six miles towards the southward, but had not gone more than a mile downwards.
My uncle, as usual, gave the signal to halt. We ate our meal in thoughtful silence, and then retired to sleep.
Our arrangements for the night were very primitive and simple. A traveling rug, in which each rolled himself, was all our bedding. We had no necessity to fear cold or any unpleasant visit. Travelers who bury themselves in the wilds and depths of the African desert, who seek profit and pleasure in the forests of the New World, are compelled to take it in turn to watch during the hours of sleep; but in this region of the earth absolute solitude and complete security reigned supreme.
We had nothing to fear either from savages or from wild beasts.
After a night’s sweet repose, we awoke fresh and ready for action. There being nothing to detain us, we started on our journey. We continued to burrow through the lava tunnel as before. It was impossible to make out through what soil we were making way. The tunnel, moreover, instead of going down into the bowels of the earth, became absolutely horizontal.
I even thought, after some examination, that we were actually tending upwards. About ten o’clock in the day this state of things became so clear that, finding the change very fatiguing, I was obliged to slacken my pace and finally come to a halt.
“Well,” said the Professor quickly, “what is the matter?”
“The fact is, I am dreadfully tired,” was my earnest reply.
“What,” cried my uncle, “tired after a three hours’ walk, and by so easy a road?”
“Easy enough, I dare say, but very fatiguing.”
“But how can that be, when all we have to do is to go downwards.”
“I beg your pardon, sir. For some time I have noticed that we are going upwards.”
“Upwards,” cried my uncle, shrugging his shoulders, “how can that be?”
“There can be no doubt about it. For the last half hour the slopes have been upward—and if we go on in this way much longer we shall find ourselves back inIceland.”
My uncle shook his head with the air of a man who does not want to be convinced. I tried to continue the conversation. He would not answer me, but once more gave the signal for departure. His silence I thought was only caused by concentrated ill-temper.
However this might be, I once more took up my load, and boldly and resolutely followed Hans, who was now in advance of my uncle. I did not like to be beaten or even distanced. I was naturally anxious not to lose sight of my companions. The very idea of being left behind, lost in that terrible labyrinth, made me shiver as with the ague.
Besides, if the ascending path was more arduous and painful to clamber, I had one source of secret consolation and delight. It was to all appearance taking us back to the surface of the earth. That of itself was hopeful. Every step I took confirmed me in my belief, and I began already to build castles in the air in relation to my marriage with my pretty little cousin.
About twelve o’clock there was a great and sudden change in the aspect of the rocky sides of the gallery. I first noticed it from the diminution of the rays of light which cast back the reflection of the lamp. From being coated with shining and resplendent lava, it became living rock. The sides were sloping walls, which sometimes became quite vertical.
We were now in what the geological professors call a state of transition, in the period of Silurian stones, so called because this specimen of early formation is very common inEnglandin the counties formerly inhabited by the Celtic nation known as Silures.
“I can see clearly now,” I cried; “the sediment from the waters which once covered the whole earth formed during the second period of its existence these schists and these calcareous rocks. We are turning our backs on the granite rocks, and are like people fromHamburgwho would go toLubeckby way ofHanover.”
I might just as well have kept my observations to myself. My geological enthusiasm got the better, however, of my cooler judgment, and Professor Hardwigg heard my observations.
“What is the matter now?” he said, in a tone of great gravity.
“Well,” cried I, “do you not see these different layers of calcareous rocks and the first indication of slate strata?”
“Well; what then?”
“We have arrived at that period of the world’s existence when the first plants and the first animals made their appearance.”
“You think so?”
“Yes, look; examine and judge for yourself.”
I induced the Professor with some difficulty to cast the light of his lamp on the sides of the long winding gallery. I expected some exclamation to burst from his lips. I was very much mistaken. The worthy Professor never spoke a word.
It was impossible to say whether he understood me or not. Perhaps it was possible that in his pride—my uncle and a learned professor—he did not like to own that he was wrong in having chosen the eastern tunnel, or was he determined at any price to go to the end of it? It was quite evident we had left the region of lava, and that the road by which we were going could not take us back to the great crater ofMount Sneffels.
As we went along I could not help ruminating on the whole question, and asked myself if I did not lay too great a stress on these sudden and peculiar modifications of the earth’s crust.
After all, I was very likely to be mistaken—and it was within the range of probability and possibility that we were not making our way through the strata of rocks which I believed I recognized piled on the lower layer of granitic formation.
“At all events, if I am right,” I thought to myself, “I must certainly find some remains of primitive plants, and it will be absolutely necessary to give way to such indubitable evidence. Let us have a good search.”
I accordingly lost no opportunity of searching, and had not gone more than about a hundred yards, when the evidence I sought for cropped up in the most incontestable manner before my eyes. It was quite natural that I should expect to find these signs, for during the Silurian period the seas contained no fewer than fifteen hundred different animal and vegetable species. My feet, so long accustomed to the hard and arid lava soil, suddenly found themselves treading on a kind of soft dust, the remains of plants and shells.
Upon the walls themselves I could clearly make out the outline, as plain as a sun picture, of the fucus and the lycopods. The worthy and excellent Professor Hardwigg could not of course make any mistake about the matter; but I believe he deliberately closed his eyes, and continued on his way with a firm and unalterable step.
I began to think that he was carrying his obstinacy a great deal too far. I could no longer act with prudence or composure. I stooped on a sudden and picked up an almost perfect shell, which had undoubtedly belonged to some animal very much resembling some of the present day. Having secured the prize, I followed in the wake of my uncle.
“Do you see this?” I said.
“Well,” said the Professor, with the most imperturbable tranquillity, “it is the shell of a crustaceous animal of the extinct order of the trilobites; nothing more, I assure you.”
“But,” cried I, much troubled at his coolness, “do you draw no conclusion from it?”
“Well, if I may ask, what conclusion do you draw from it yourself?”
“Well, I thought—”
“I know, my boy, what you would say, and you are right, perfectly and incontestably right. We have finally abandoned the crust of lava and the road by which the lava ascended. It is quite possible that I may have been mistaken, but I shall be unable to discover my error until I get to the end of this gallery.”
“You are quite right as far as that is concerned,” I replied, “and I should highly approve of your decision, if we had not to fear the greatest of all dangers.”
“And what is that?”
“Want of water.”
“Well, my dear Henry, it can’t be helped. We must put ourselves on rations.”