March 2d, 1867.
GRAND EUROPEAN PLEASURE TRIP
PROMINENT Brooklynites are getting up a great European pleasure excursion for the coming summer, which promises a vast amount of enjoyment for a very reasonable outlay. The passenger list is filling up pretty fast.
The steamer to be used will be fitted up comfortably and supplied with a library, musical instruments and a printing-press - for a small daily paper is to be printed on board. The ship is to have ample accommodations for 150 cabin passengers, but in order that there may be no crowding, she will only carry 110. The steamer fare is fixed at $1,250, currency. The vessel will stop every day or two, to let the passengers visit places of interest in the interior of the various countries, and this will involve an additional expense of about $500 in gold. The voyage will begin the 1st of June and end near the beginning of November - five months - but may be extended by unanimous vote of the passengers.
Outward bound, a day or two will be spent at Gibraltar, and about ten days at Marseilles, which latter will give an opportunity of looking in at the Paris fair. If desired, passengers may tarry longer at Paris, and then pass down through Switzerland and rejoin the ship at Genoa, where she will remain ten days. From Genoa, excursions will be made to Milan, the Lakes of Como and Maggiore, and to Verona, Padua and Venice. Also, the party may visit Parma, Bologna and Florence, and rejoin the vessel at Leghorn. Pisa and Lucca can likewise be added to the programme. From Leghorn to Naples the route will be along the coast of Italy, close by Caprera, Elba and Corsica, and arrangements have been made to pay Garibaldi a visit. Eight days will be spent at Naples, and visits will be made to Herculaneum, Pompeu, Vesuvius, Virgil's tomb, and the ruins of ancient Paestum. A day will next be spent at Palermo, in Sicily. Thence through the group of Aeolian Isles, in sight of the volcanoes of Stromboli and Vulcania, through the Straits of Messina, with Scylla on the one hand and Charybdis on the other, along the east coast of Sicily, and in sight of Mount Etna - along the south coast of Italy, the west and south coast of Greece, in sight of ancient Crete, up Athens Gulf into the Piraeus, Athens will be reached. A day will be given to Corinth, and then the voyage will be extended through the Grecian Archipelago, the Dardanelles, and the Sea of Marmora, to Constantinople. After a day or two at the latter place, a sail through the Bosphorus and across the Black Sea will bring the party to Sebastopol and Balaklava - thence back again and along the coasts of ancient Troy and Lydia in Asia, to Smyrna, from which point Ephesus will be visited. The steamer will stop at Beirout and time allowed to visit Damascus, and then proceed to Joppa and remain there ten or twelve days, so that the passengers can go to Jericho - I mean to Jerusalem - and to the other side of Jordan, the Sea of Tiberias, Nazareth, Bethany, Bethlehem, and other points of interest in the Holy Land.
A stop of four or five days will be made at Alexandria, in Egypt, and the ruins of Caesar's Palace, Pompey's Pillar, Cleopatra's Needle, the Catacombs, the site of ancient Memphis, Joseph's Granaries, and the Pyramids. They don't go to Cairo, but I do not mind that, because I have been to Cairo once (in Illinois), and that was enough for the subscriber.
In the remainder of the programme I find mention of such points as Malta, Clighari (in Sardinia), Palma (in Majorca), Valencia (in Spain), Alicant, Carthagena, Palos, Malaga, Madeira, the Peak of Teneriffe, the Bermudas, and so forth and so on, to the crack of doom.
A man may stay aboard the ship all the time if he wants to. It is essentially a pleasure excursion, and so private caprices will be allowed full scope. Isn't it a most attractive scheme? Five months of utter freedom from care and anxiety of every kind, and in company with a set of people who will go only to enjoy themselves, and will never mention a word about business during the whole voyage. It is very pleasant to contemplate.
"REV. MR. TWAIN"
I started down with a Tribune man to make some inquiries about this trip. We met a friend and he said it was a very stylish affair, was not gotten up for a speculation, it was not intended that its projectors should make any money out of it, and that the character and standing of every applicant for passage had to undergo the strictest assay by a Committee before his money would be received and his name booked. This was an appalling state of affairs. However, we went on, and were received at the office of the concern with that distant politeness proper toward men who travel muddy streets on foot, go unshaven, and carry countenances like - like ours, for instance. My friend - Smith, for short - said:
"I suppose you are the chief officer of the European pleasure excursion, sir. We have called to make some inquiries about it. Allow me to introduce the Rev. Mark Twain, who is a clergyman of some distinction, lately arrived from San Francisco."
"I am glad to meet you, sir. Be seated, gentlemen. Twain - Twain- ."
"Oh, you probably have not heard of me; I have latterly been in the missionary business -
Smith, interrupting - "Oh, devil take it, don't use those villainous slang expressions - you'll expose everything." And then he said aloud, "Yes, he has been a missionary to the Sandwich Islands during a part of the last year, but officiating in the open air has injured his health, and - "
"And my congregation concluded to start me out traveling for my health. I would like to take some stock - I mean I would like to ship - that is, book my name for this pleasure trip. I hear that Mr. Beecher is going - is that so?"
The reply was affirmative, and then Smith said:
"We felt some solicitude about that, because my friend would naturally like to take part in the services on board, and we feared that possibly Mr. Beecher might not be willing to permit ministers of other denominations to do any of the preaching."
I said, with a show of humility: "Yes, that's it - I am only a Baptist, you see, but I'd like to have a show."
"Oh, d---- it!" Smith whispered, "you'll ruin everything with that slang." Then aloud: "Yes, my friend is a Baptist clergy man, and we feared that inasmuch as Mr. Beecher is a Universalist, he "
"Universalist! Why, he is a Congregationalist. But never mind that - I have no doubt he would be sincerely glad to have Mr. Twain assist him in the vessel's pulpit at all times - no doubt in the world about that."
I had to laugh out strong, here I could not well help it. The idea of my preaching time about with Beecher was so fresh, so entertaining, so delightful. However, Smith said: "Now you are laughing again at that same old occurrence up the street - well, it was funny." This saved us from exposure, and I sat there and said no more, but listened to instructive remarks about my missionary services and my Baptist congregation in San Francisco till the misery of trying to keep from laughing was unbearable, and we left.
I went back yesterday with another friend, acknowledged my true occupation, entered my name for the voyage and paid the forfeit money required to secure a berth - the remainder of the $1,250 is not to be paid till the 15th of April, when all such accounts have to be squared. I also left references as to my high moral character, for that Committee "to chaw on," as Brown expressed it, and I do not envy them the job. They have got about all they can attend to for the next six weeks to get up a spotless character for me. If they succeed, I will get a copy of it and have it framed. Among others, I referred to Rev. Mr. Damon, of Honolulu, and it lies heavy on my conscience, because I stole a book from him, which I have not returned yet. For my other references I chose men of bad character, in order that my mild virtues might shine luminously by contrast with their depravity. There was sagacity in the idea. I expect to go on this excursion to the Holy Land and the chief countries of Europe, provided I receive no vetoing orders from the ALTA - and against all such I fervently protest beforehand. - [No veto. He has been telegraphed to "go ahead."-EDS. ALTA.]
HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLEN!
Now that Barnum is running for Congress, anything connected with him is imbued with a new interest. Therefore I went to his Museum yesterday, along with the other children. There is little or nothing in the place worth seeing, and yet how it draws! It was crammed with both sexes and all ages. One could keep on going up stairs from floor to floor, and still find scarcely room to turn. There are numerous trifling attractions there, but if there was one grand, absorbing feature, I failed to find it. There is a prodigious woman, eight feet high, and well proportioned, but there was no one to stir her up and make her show her points, so she sat down all the time. And there is a giant, also, just her own size; but he appeared to be sick with love for her, and so he sat morosely on his platform, in his astonishing military uniform, and wrought no wonders. If I was impressario of that menagerie, I would make that couple prance around some, or I would dock their rations. Two dwarfs, unknown to fame, and a speckled negro, complete the list of human curiosities. They profess to have a Circassian girl there, but I could not find her. I think they have moved her out, to make room for another peanut stand. In fact, Barnum's Museum is one vast peanut stand now, with a few cases of dried frogs and other wonders scattered here and there, to give variety to the thing. You can't go anywhere with out finding a peanut stand, and an impudent negro sweeping up hulls. When peanuts and candy are slow, they sell newspapers and photographs of the dwarfs and the giants.
There are some cages of ferocious lions, and other wild beasts, but they sleep all the time. And also an automaton card writer; but something about it is broken, and it don't go now. Also, a good many bugs, with pins stuck through them; but the people do not seem to enjoy bugs any more. There is a photograph gallery in one room and an oyster saloon in another, and some news depots and soda fountains, a pistol gallery, and a raffling department for cheap jewelry, but not any barber shop. A plaster of Paris statue of Venus, with little stacks of dust on her nose and her eyebrows, stands neglected in a corner, and in some large glass cases are some atrocious waxen images, done in the very worst style of the art. Queen Victoria is dressed in faded red velvet and glass jewelry, and has a bloated countenance and a drunken leer in her eye, that remind one of convivial Mary Holt, when she used to come in from a spree to get her ticket for the County Jail. And that accursed eye-sore to me, Tom Thumb's wedding party, which airs its smirking imbecility in every photograph album in America, is not only set forth here in ghastly wax, but repeated! Why does not some philanthropist burn the Museum again?
The Happy Family remains, but robbed of its ancient glory. A poor, spiritless old bear - sixteen monkeys - half a dozen sorrowful raccoons - two mangy puppies - two unhappy rabbits - and two meek Tom cats, that have had half the hair snatched out of them by the monkeys, compose the Happy Family - and certainly it was the most subjugated-looking party I ever saw. The entire Happy Family is bossed and bullied by a monkey that any one of the victims could whip, only that they lack the courage to try it. He grabs a Tom cat by the nape of the neck and bounces him on the ground, he cuffs the rabbits and the coons, and snatches his own tribe from end to end of the cage by the tail. When the dinner-tub is brought in, he gets bodily into it and the other members of the family sit patiently around till his hunger is satisfied or steal a morsel and get bored heels over head for it. The world is full of families as happy as that. The boss monkey has even proceeded so far as to nip the tail short off of one of his brethren, and now half the pleasures of the poor devil's life are denied him, because he hain't got any thing to hang by. It almost moves one to tears to see that bob tailed monkey work his stump and try to grab a beam with it that is a yard away. And when his stump naturally misses fire and he falls, none but the heartless can laugh. Why cannot he become a philosopher? Why cannot he console himself with the reflection that tails are but a delusion and a vanity at best.
Barnum puts a play on his stage called the "Christian Martyr," and in the third act all the mules and lions, and sheep, and tigers, and pet bulls, and other ferocious wild animals, are marched about the stage in grand procession preparatory to going through the Christian. In the final act they throw the Christian into a cage with a couple of lions, but they were asleep, and all the punching the Martyr could do, and all the cursing he could get off under his breath failed to wake them; but the ignorant Roman populace on the stage took their indifference for Providential interference, and so they let the doomed Christian slide. Barnum's lions prefer fresh beef to martyrs. I suspect they are of the same breed as those we read of that were too stuck up to eat good old Daniel.
Barnum's show is not a very good one. If he has no better show to get to Congress, he ought to draw out of the canvass.
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS REPEATED
History repeats itself, and so does romance. There is some thing in the "Arabian Nights," if my memory serves me, which is a little like the incident I am going to set down here, with the difference that this is true and the story in the book was doubt less an invention. Two weeks ago, a woman in great distress, applied to a Ladies' Benevolent Society here for means to bury her husband. They made due inquiry, and then gave her the necessary amount of money. One of these ladies had for a long time been praying to her Heavenly Father for a questionable blessing in the shape of a child, and contracting that if her prayers were answered she would perform some deed of notable benevolence as a stand-off. Her prayers were answered in the most complimentary manner - she had triplets. She had triplets, and naturally her husband shut down on her devotions. But that has got nothing to do with my story. She heard of this sorrowing woman, and she thought it a good time to comply with her contract. She went to the house of mourning, and counted out one hundred dollars in greenbacks on the dead man's coffin, and the weeping widow blessed her. It is considered the fair thing here to pay praying debts in greenbacks. The charitable lady had not been gone many minutes before she discovered she had left her gloves behind her. She rushed back to the abode of death, and found that infernal corpse sitting up in the coffin, examining the greenbacks with a Bank Note Reporter! They plague the benevolent lady a good deal, but she does not mind it. In fact, she is rather proud of raising the dead with a handful of greenbacks.
THE GREAT MASQUERADE
The grand Bal d'Opera came off at the new Academy of Music last night. I suppose there may have been ten or twelve hundred people present, but it was hard to make estimate in so large a building. The great majority of both sexes wore neither masks nor fancy costumes, and yet were allowed to come on the floor long before the hour for unmasking. This had an embarrassing effect, of course, and consequently what should have been a hilarious carnival was a good deal more like a funeral for the first two hours.
I got myself up in flowing royal robes, and purported to be a king of some country or other, but I only felt like a highly ornamental butcher. If everybody else felt as solemn and absurd as I did, they have my sympathy. I could not dance with any comfort, because I was in danger of tripping in my petticoats and breaking my neck every moment, and so I deserted soon, and went to promenading in the broad halls in the rear of the balconies. Dukes and princes, and queens and fairies met me at every turn, and I might have managed to imagine myself in a land of enchantment, but for remarks I was constantly over hearing. For instance, I heard Joan of Arc say she would give the world for a mess of raw oysters, and Martin Luther said he didn't feel well, because he had been playing poker for the last forty-eight hours. The Wandering Jew chatted and laughed like a school-girl, and vivacious Charles II. was as dismal as an owl. Dukes and Emperors called each other "Jim" and "Joe," and spoke in the most plebeian way of going out to take a drink. I even heard the Queen of the Fairies say she wished she had some cheese. These little things have a tendency to destroy the pleas ant illusions created by deceptive costumes.
I did not feel happy at that ball, but I never felt so particularly unhappy in my life as I do at this moment.
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