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The innocents abroad, or, The new Pilgrim's progress

being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy land ; with descriptions of countries, nations, incidents and adventures, as they appeared to the author






OCCASIONALLY, during the following month, I dropped
in at 117 Wall-street to inquire how the repairing and
refurnishing of the vessel was coming on; how additions to
the passenger list were averaging; how many people the committee
were decreeing not “select,” every day, and banishing
in sorrow and tribulation. I was glad to know that we
were to have a little printing-press on board and issue a daily
newspaper of our own. I was glad to learn that our piano,
our parlor organ and our melodeon were to be the best instruments
of the kind that could be had in the market. I was
proud to observe that among our excursionists were three ministers
of the gospel, eight doctors, sixteen or eighteen ladies,
several military and naval chieftains with sounding titles,
an ample crop of “Professors” of various kinds, and a gentleman
who had “Commissioner of the United States of America
to Europe, Asia, and Africa
” thundering after his name
in one awful blast! I had carefully prepared myself to take
rather a back seat in that ship, because of the uncommonly
select material that would alone be permitted to pass through
the camel's eye of that committee on credentials; I had
schooled myself to expect an imposing array of military and
naval heroes, and to have to set that back seat still further
back in consequence of it, may be; but I state frankly that I
was all unprepared for this crusher.

I fell under that titular avalanche a torn and blighted thing.
I said that if that potentate must go over in our ship, why, I
supposed he must—but that to my thinking, when the United


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States considered it necessary to send a dignitary of that tonnage
across the ocean, it would be in better taste, and safer,
to take him apart and cart him over in sections, in several

Ah, if I had only known, then, that he was only a common
mortal, and that his mission had nothing more overpowering
about it than the collecting of seeds, and uncommon yams and
extraordinary cabbages and peculiar bullfrogs for that poor,
useless, innocent, mildewed old fossil, the Smithsonian Institute,
I would have felt so much relieved.

During that memorable month I basked in the happiness of
being for once in my life drifting with the tide of a great
popular movement. Every body was going to Europe—I, too,
was going to Europe. Every body was going to the famous
Paris Exposition—I, too, was going to the Paris Exposition.
The steamship lines were carrying Americans out of the various
ports of the country at the rate of four or five thousand a
week, in the aggregate. If I met a dozen individuals, during
that month, who were not going to Europe shortly, I have no
distinct remembrance of it now. I walked about the city a
good deal with a young Mr. Blucher, who was booked for the
excursion. He was confiding, good-natured, unsophisticated,
companionable; but he was not a man to set the river of fire.
He had the most extraordinary notions about this European
exodus, and came at last to consider the whole nation as packing
up for emigration to France. We stepped into a store in
Broadway, one day, where he bought a handkerchief, and when
the man could not make change, Mr. B. said:

“Never mind, I'll hand it to you in Paris.”

“But I am not going to Paris.”

“How is—what did I understand you to say?”

“I said I am not going to Paris.”

“Not going to Paris! Not g—well then, where in the nation
are you going to?”

“Nowhere at all.”

“Not any where whatsoever?—not any place on earth but


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 028. In-line Illustration. Image of three men. Two men are dressed like gentlemen, and the third stands behind a counter like a shopkeeper. The caption reads, "'I'LL PAY YOU IN PARIS.'"]

“Not any place at all but just this—stay here all summer.”

My comrade took his purchase and walked out of the store
without a word—walked out with an injured look upon his
countenance. Up the street apiece he broke silence and said
impressively: “It was a lie—that is my opinion of it!”

In the fullness of time the ship was ready to receive her passengers.
I was introduced to the young gentleman who was
to be my room mate, and found him to be intelligent, cheerful
of spirit, unselfish, full of generous impulses, patient, considerate,
and wonderfully good-natured. Not any passenger that
sailed in the Quaker City will withhold his indorsement of
what I have just said. We selected a state-room forward of


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the wheel, on the starboard side, “below deeks.” It had two
berths in it, a dismal dead-light, a sink with a wash-bowl in it,
and a long, sumptuously cushioned locker, which was to do
service as a sofa—partly, and partly as a hiding-place for our
things. Notwithstanding all this furniture, there was still
room to turn around in, but not to swing a cat in, at least with
entire security to the cat. However, the room was large, for
a ship's state-room, and was in every way satisfactory.

The vessel was appointed to sail on a certain Saturday early
in June.

A little after noon, on that distinguished Saturday, I reached
the ship and went on board. All was bustle and confusion.
[I have seen that remark before, somewhere.] The pier was
crowded with carriages and men; passengers were arriving
and hurrying on board; the vessel's decks were encumbered
with trunks and valises; groups of excursionists, arrayed in
unattractive traveling costumes, were moping about in a drizzling
rain and looking as droopy and woe-begone as so many
molting chickens. The gallant flag was up, but it was under
the spell, too, and hung limp and disheartened by the mast.
Altogether, it was the bluest, bluest spectacle! It was a pleasure
excursion—there was no gainsaying that, because the
programme said so—it was so nominated in the bond—but it
surely hadn't the general aspect of one.

Finally, above the banging, and rumbling, and shouting and
hissing of steam, rang the order to “cast off!”—a sudden rush
to the gangways—a scampering ashore of visitors—a revolution
of the wheels, and we were off—the pic-nic was begun!
Two very mild cheers went up from the dripping crowd on the
pier; we answered them gently from the slippery decks; the
flag made an effort to wave, and failed; the “battery of guns”
spake not—the ammunition was out.

We steamed down to the foot of the harbor and came to anchor.
It was still raining. And not only raining, but storming.
“Outside” we could see, ourselves, that there was a tremendous
sea on. We must lie still, in the calm harbor, till
the storm should abate. Our passengers hailed from fifteen


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 030. In-line Illustration. Image of passengers standing in the rain on the deck of a ship. The caption reads "THE START."] States; only a few of them had ever been to sea before; manifestly
it would not do to pit them against a full-blown tempest
until they had got their sea-legs on. Toward evening the two
steam-tugs that had accompanied us with a rollicking champagne-party
of young New Yorkers on board who wished
to bid farewell to one of our number in due and ancient
form, departed, and we were alone on the deep. On deep
five fathoms, and anchored fast to the bottom. And out in
the solemn rain, at that. This was pleasuring with a vengeance.

It was an appropriate relief when the gong sounded for
prayer meeting. The first Saturday night of any other pleasure
excursion might have been devoted to whist and dancing;
but I submit it to the unprejudiced mind if it would
have been in good taste for us to engage in such frivolities,
considering what we had gone through and the frame of mind


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we were in. We would have shone at a wake, but not at
any thing more festive.

However, there is always a cheering influence about the
sea; and in my berth, that night, rocked by the measured
swell of the waves, and lulled by the murmur of the distant
surf, I soon passed tranquilly out of all consciousness of the
dreary experiences of the day and damaging premonitions of
the future.