To begin with let me admit that I did it on purpose. Perhaps it was
partly from jealousy.
It seemed unfair that other writers should be able at will to drop
into a sleep of four or five hundred years, and to plunge head first
into a distant future and be a witness of its marvels.
I wanted to do that too.
I always had been, I still am, a passionate student of social
problems. The world of to-day with its roaring machinery, the
unceasing toil of its working classes, its strife, its poverty, its
war, its cruelty, appals me as I look at it. I love to think of the
time that must come some day when man will have conquered nature, and
the toil-worn human race enter upon an era of peace.
I loved to think of it, and I longed to see it.
So I set about the thing deliberately.
What I wanted to do was to fall asleep after the customary fashion,
for two or three hundred years at least, and wake and find myself in
the marvel world of the future.
I made my preparations for the sleep.
I bought all the comic papers that I could find, even the illustrated
ones. I carried them up to my room in my hotel: with them I brought up
a pork pie and dozens and dozens of doughnuts. I ate the pie and the
doughnuts, then sat back in the bed and read the comic papers one
after the other. Finally, as I felt the awful lethargy stealing upon
me, I reached out my hand for the London Weekly Times, and held up the
editorial page before my eye.
It was, in a way, clear, straight suicide, but I did it.
I could feel my senses leaving me. In the room across the hall there
was a man singing. His voice, that had been loud, came fainter and
fainter through the transom. I fell into a sleep, the deep
immeasurable sleep in which the very existence of the outer world was
hushed. Dimly I could feel the days go past, then the years, and then
the long passage of the centuries.
Then, not as it were gradually, but quite suddenly, I woke up, sat up,
and looked about me.