A man, waiting for a coach in Newcastle, finds himself taken through time and face to face with Saint Bede, whereupon a philosophical conversation about time and the future ensues.
It must suffice then to say that, at the point where I come again into perfect possession of my consciousness, the venerable monk and I were conferring, in an easy manner, upon various points connected with his age, or with mine, and both of us having a clear understanding, and perfect recollection of the fact, that, at this same moment, he was actually living in the eighth century, and I as truly in the nineteenth; nor did this trifing difference of a thousand years or more—this break, as geologists would call it—this fault in the strata of time—perplex either of us a whit; any more than two friends are molested by the circumstance of their happening to encounter each other just as they arrive from opposite hemispheres.
Anonymous Dublin University Author, Master Traveller
Here’s one time (of many) when I wish I did have a time machine so that I could go back to 1838 Dublin, track down the anonymous author of this story, and present him or her with a well-deserved Master Traveller Citation, which recognizes creative innovation in time travel. In his 1951 anthology, Far Boundaries, August Derleth identified this story as a forerunner of modern time travel fiction, and indeed, the hero of the story may be the first backward time-traveling human (given that Boitard’s 1836 version of Paris avant les hommes might not have included the time traveler). Even if Boitard was first, this story deserves a citation for being the first to travel back to visit an actual historical person.
The mechanism of travel in “Anachronism” is via a dream-like state, and at first there is the question of whether the traveler can interact with those in the past. But for me, the discussion he has with Saint Bede puts that question to bed and also guarantees the anonymous author a Master Traveler Citation.