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This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition, it would have about it that gravity, that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind, and withal so attractive. Yet notwithstanding it is only a record of a pic-nic, it has a purpose, which is to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries before him. I make small pretense of showing anyone how he ought to look at objects of interest beyond the sea—other books do that, and therefore, even if I were competent to do it, there is no need.

I offer no apologies for any departures from the usual style of travel-writing that may be charged against me—for I think I have seen with impartial eyes, and I am sure I have written at least honestly, whether wisely or not.

In this volume I have used portions of letters which I wrote for the Daily Alta California, of San Francisco, the proprietors of that journal having waived their rights and given me the necessary permission. I have also inserted portions of several letters written for the New York Tribune and the New York Herald.


From Page 396-7   The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871:

Charles Duncan learned the hard way, like Sam when he discovered mica in the mines, that all that glitters is not gold, Each of the celebrities he had recruited for the voyage had withdrawn. Sherman was sent west by the army to fight Indians. Maggie Mitchell simply changed her mind. The Drummer Boy married and preferred to honeymoon somewhere other than on a ship with a gaggle of evangelical Christians. Beecher protested that he needed to finish his novel Norwood but in fact dropped out because he feared the malarious air in Europe. The novel had already been published and, ironically, a copy would circulate among the Quaker City passengers. After Beecher withdrew, so did forty-five of his parishioners. They had not been required, like other prospective passengers, to deposit money to secure their places, In the end, fewer than seventy passengers—the vast majority of them men— booked passage, less than the break-even point on costs. But Duncan had spent thousands of dollars in refurbishing the ship, so canceling the cruise was not an option. His hands were tied, and while the venture would not enable him to recover from his bankruptcy, he would repeatedly trim expenses in the course of the voyage. According to Mary Mason Fairbanks, wife of Abel Fairbanks, co-owner of the Cleveland Herald, “We go without a General Sherman or a Henry Ward Beecher, but stars of lesser magnitude may come to be planets whose light shall yet dazzle.” As late as June 1, however, Sam was uncertain that the excursion would occur. He advised his family that “if the ship sails I sail on her, but I make no calculations, have bought no cigars, no sea-going clothing—have made no preparations whatever.” Despite his earlier insistence that a selection committee would vet all “applicants,” Duncan refused accommodations to no passenger with money to pay the fare and he continued to advertise the excursion literally until the day of departure. Or, as the New York Times reported, the voyage was “originally designed to embrace a select and somewhat exclusive party, but before the steamer sailed it was found necessary to lower the standard a little, and ordinary persons with $1,200 to spend were enabled to purchase tickets.”

Among them was Dan Slote, a New York stationer, who was initially assigned to share the same stateroom as Sam. “I have got a nice moral room-mate” who “has got many shirts, and a History of the Holy Land, a cribbage-board and three thousand cigars,’ Sam reported to his Alta readers with undisguised delight. “I will not have to carry any baggage at all.” In The Innocents Abroad, he described Slote as “intelligent, cheerful of spirit, unselfish, full of generous impulses, patient, considerate, wonderfully goodnatured,” Privately, he was even more candid. “I have got a splendid, immoral, tobacco-smoking, wine-drinking, godless room-mate who is as good & true & right-minded a man as ever lived—a man whose blameless conduct and example will always be an eloquent sermon to all who shall come within their influence.” Before embarking, Sam laid in a couple of cases of expensive champagne and, according to the New York correspondent of the St. Louis Times, a sufficient supply of “good liquors—wines, principally—to keep the Union Club for a twelvemonth went on board before sailing,“ 

In the end, Sam and Dan Slote did not share accommodations, though they doubtless shared their stores of cigars and alcohol. Sam was upgraded to Sherman's vacated stateroom, which was “furnished like a palace.” 

Page 399:

He arrived at the pier shortly after noon the next day in time to stow his luggage and join the band of passengers “arrayed in unattractive traveling costumes’ who “were moping about in a drizzling rain and looking as droopy and woebegone as so many molting chickens,” Unbeknownst to the excursionists, Duncan had filed for bankruptcy—citing debts of twenty-five thousand dollars—a few hours before the ship was scheduled to sail. The Quaker City embarked at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 8. A crowd of well-wishers, among them Beecher, gathered to bid the “innocents” bon voyage.  The congregants sang “Homeward Bound” from the Plymouth Collection of Hymns to great fanfare as the ship slipped its moorings. It sailed with the tide but against wind and rain a few miles to Gravesend Bay near Brooklyn in lower New York Harbor where, anticlimactically, it dropped anchor. At least sixteen other vessels, four of them passenger ships, including the luxury liner Arago, sailed from New York Harbor during the weekend and did not delay on account of weather—that is, Duncan seemed to have dallied from an excess of caution."


Taking it “by and large,” as the sailors say, we had a pleasant ten days’ run from New York to the Azores islands—not a fast run, for the distance is only twenty-four hundred miles, but a right pleasant one in the main. True, we had head winds all the time, and several stormy experiences which sent fifty percent of the passengers to bed sick and made the ship look dismal and deserted—stormy experiences that all will remember who weathered them on the tumbling deck and caught the vast sheets of spray that every now and then sprang high in air from the weather bow and swept the ship like a thunder-shower; but for the most part we had balmy summer weather and nights that were even finer than the days.
At three o’clock on the morning of the twenty-first of June, we were awakened and notified that the Azores islands were in sight. I said I did not take any interest in islands at three o’clock in the morning. But another persecutor came, and then another and another, and finally believing that the general enthusiasm would permit no one to slumber in peace, I got up and went sleepily on deck. It was five and a half o’clock now, and a raw, blustering morning. The passengers were huddled about the smoke-stacks and fortified behind ventilators, and all were wrapped in wintry costumes and looking sleepy and unhappy in the pitiless gale and the drenching spray. I think the Azores must be very little known in America. Out of our whole ship’s company there was not a solitary individual who knew anything whatever about them. Some of the party, well read concerning most other lands, had no other information about the Azores than that they were a group of nine or ten small islands far out in the Atlantic, something more than halfway between New York and Gibraltar. That was all.
The Quaker City weighed anchor the morning of June 23 [from the Azores] and six days later arrived on the continent at Gibraltar, where the passengers scattered like marbles. They planned to rejoin the ship later at its stops in Marseilles, Leghorn, or Naples. While most of the pilgrims headed north to Spain and England, Sam, Colonel Denny, James H. Foster of Pittsburgh, Dan Slote, and a couple of others, accompanied by five bottles of champagne and seventy-five cigars, steamed forty miles south to spend a night in the ancient city of Tangier, Morocco, “This is the infernalest hive of infernally costumed barbarians I have ever come across yet, he reported to his family, though he expressed modest enthusiasm for it in an Alta letter: Tangier was ‘full of interest for one day, but after that it is a weary prison.” It was remarkable not for “its civilization” but for its exotic fashions. Sam and his companions bought “Moorish costumes,” including red fezzes, to wear back to the ship,.

We have come five hundred miles by rail through the heart of France. What a bewitching land it is! What a garden! Surely the leagues of bright green lawns are swept and brushed and watered every day and their grasses trimmed by the barber. Surely the hedges are shaped and measured and their symmetry preserved by the most architectural of gardeners. Surely the long straight rows of stately poplars that divide the beautiful landscape like the squares of a checker-board are set with line and plummet, and their uniform height determined with a spirit level.

Mark Twain's first visit to Italy in 1867, before its political unification. Italy had been under foreign domination but following the Napoleonic Wars movements for independence and unification began. The first wave, led by Garibaldi and others created the kingship of Italy in 1861. Venetia was added in in 1866 and Rome in 1870. The Quaker City first made port in Genoa followed by landings in Leghorn and Naples. Twain toured several other cities, mostly by train. These included Milan, Como, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome.

We arrived, and entered the ancient harbor of the Piraeus at last. We dropped anchor within half a mile of the village. Away off, across the undulating Plain of Attica, could be seen a little square-topped hill with a something on it, which our glasses soon discovered to be the ruined edifices of the citadel of the Athenians, and most prominent among them loomed the venerable Parthenon. So exquisitely clear and pure is this wonderful atmosphere that every column of the noble structure was discernible through the telescope, and even the smaller ruins about it assumed some semblance of shape. This at a distance of five or six miles. In the valley, near the Acropolis, (the square-topped hill before spoken of,) Athens itself could be vaguely made out with an ordinary lorgnette. Every body was anxious to get ashore and visit these classic localities as quickly as possible. No land we had yet seen had aroused such universal interest among the passengers. But bad news came. The commandant of the Piraeus came in his boat, and said we must either depart or else get outside the harbor and remain imprisoned in our ship, under rigid quarantine, for eleven days! So we took up the anchor and moved outside, to lie a dozen hours or so, taking in supplies, and then sail for Constantinople. It was the bitterest disappointment we had yet experienced. To lie a whole day in sight of the Acropolis, and yet be obliged to go away without visiting Athens! Disappointment was hardly a strong enough word to describe the circumstances.
We returned to Constantinople, and after a day or two spent in exhausting marches about the city and voyages up the Golden Horn in caiques, we steamed away again. We passed through the Sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles, and steered for a new land—a new one to us, at least—Asia. We had as yet only acquired a bowing acquaintance with it, through pleasure excursions to Scutari and the regions round about. We passed between Lemnos and Mytilene, and saw them as we had seen Elba and the Balearic Isles—mere bulky shapes, with the softening mists of distance upon them—whales in a fog, as it were. Then we held our course southward, and began to “read up” celebrated Smyrna.

The Quaker City departed Constantinople 19 August, 1867, arriving in Sevastopol 21 August at 5am. It departed at 9 pm the same day, arriving in Odessa 22 August at 4 pm. The ship then departed for Yalta 24 August at 11 am, arriving 25 August at noon. A party from the ship visited Tsar Alexander II on the 26th. On the 28th the ship departed Russia returning to Constantinople.

The Quaker City has arrived in Beirout, Lebanon. The touristswere broken up into groups, Mark Twain's group was to take 'the long trip". Well, out of our eight, three were selected to attend to all business connected with the expedition. The rest of us had nothing to do but look at the beautiful city of Beirout, with its bright, new houses nestled among a wilderness of green shrubbery spread abroad over an upland that sloped gently down to the sea; and also at the mountains of Lebanon that environ it; and likewise to bathe in the transparent blue water that rolled its billows about the ship (we did not know there were sharks there.) We had also to range up and down through the town and look at the costumes. These are picturesque and fanciful, but not so varied as at Constantinople and Smyrna; the women of Beirout add an agony—in the two former cities the sex wear a thin veil which one can see through (and they often expose their ancles,) but at Beirout they cover their entire faces with dark-colored or black veils, so that they look like mummies, and then expose their breasts to the public.
When we reached the pier we found an army of Egyptian boys with donkeys no larger than themselves, waiting for passengers—for donkeys are the omnibuses of Egypt. We preferred to walk, but we could not have our own way. The boys crowded about us, clamored around us, and slewed their donkeys exactly across our path, no matter which way we turned. They were good-natured rascals, and so were the donkeys. We mounted, and the boys ran behind us and kept the donkeys in a furious gallop, as is the fashion at Damascus. I believe I would rather ride a donkey than any beast in the world. He goes briskly, he puts on no airs, he is docile, though opinionated. Satan himself could not scare him, and he is convenient—very convenient. When you are tired riding you can rest your feet on the ground and let him gallop from under you.

We were at sea now, for a very long voyage—we were to pass through the entire length of the Levant; through the entire length of the Mediterranean proper, also, and then cross the full width of the Atlantic—a voyage of several weeks. We naturally settled down into a very slow, stay-at-home manner of life, and resolved to be quiet, exemplary people, and roam no more for twenty or thirty days. No more, at least, than from stem to stern of the ship. It was a very comfortable prospect, though, for we were tired and needed a long rest.