Now this amazed Martin, since in his opinion one could not even imagine a better century than the one in which he lived. No other epoch had had such brilliance, such daring, such projects. Everything that had glimmered in previous ages—the passion for exploration of unknown lands, the audacious experiments, the glorious exploits of disinterested curiosity, the scientists who went blind or were blown to bits, the heroic conspiracies, the struggle of one against many—now emerged with unprecedented force. The cool suicide of a man after his having lost millions on the stock market struck Martin's imagination as much as, for instance, the death of a Roman general falling on his sword. An automobile advertisement, brightly beckoning in a wild, picturesque gorge from an absolutely inaccessible spot on an alpine cliff thrilled him to tears. The complaisant and affectionate nature of very complicated and very simple machines, like the tractor or the linotype, for example, induced him to reflect that the good in mankind was so contagious that it infected metal.