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Europe and the Holy Land

"Ambassador at Large"

In December 1866 Clemens left San Francisco and sailed for New York City with a commission as correspondent for the San Francisco Alta California. Within a few weeks of his arrival, he embarked on a new enterprise that combined his interest in travel with his work as a roving reporter. He signed up for the "great European pleasure excursion," a five-and-a-half-month chartered voyage aboard the steamer Quaker City to Europe and the Holy Land, organized by members of Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. The Quaker City set sail in June and returned to New York in late November 1867. Mark Twain's record of the excursion is preserved in his first travel book, The Innocents Abroad.

The 1867 Quaker City Excursion
An Innocent Abroad

Broadside of "Address" to Tsar Alexander II
26 August 1867
The Quaker City passengers were granted an unusual privilege, an audience with Tsar Alexander, who was at his summer palace in Yalta. The group stayed four hours, and had a "jolly" time, according to Clemens. This fulsome greeting from the passengers, largely drafted by Clemens, was read to the tsar by the United States consul, and then printed as a broadside on the Quaker City's press. In The Innocents Abroad Clemens admitted that he came to loathe the pompous opening paragraph of the "Address," which the Quaker City's crew took malicious enjoyment in reciting, day and night.
Ancient stone head, acquired on the Quaker City trip
According to a family tradition, Clemens picked up this small "marble from the Parthenon" during a surreptitious night visit to the Acropolis with three companions on 14 August 1867 (the other Quaker City passengers remained on board, in observance of a quarantine order). The head did service as a family paperweight for many years before coming to the Mark Twain Papers. If the Clemens family provenance can be accepted, the head would be the only fragment of the Parthenon in the United States. With that possibility in mind, it was recently examined by the curators of antiquities at San Francisco's de Young Museum and by an archaeological expert representing the Greek Ministry of Culture. There was no consensus of expert opinion, but some doubts were expressed: the head may be neither marble, Greek, nor fifth century B.C. The Greek government has made no claim on the sculpture.
Advertisements from the prospectuses for The Innocents Abroad (1869) and A Tramp Abroad (1880)
These books were both subscription publications—that is, they were sold door to door by canvassers armed with bound sample pages called prospectuses. Innocents sold 69,500 copies in its first year, and Tramp Abroad sold 62,000, realizing profits, respectively, of $14,000 and $32,000 for the author—munificent for that time. (The equivalent in current dollars would be $165,000 and $519,000.) Recognizable portraits of Clemens were included in the illustrations of all of his travel books.

When Clemens returned to Europe in 1878 for an extended stay he came as a family man, with his wife, Olivia, his daughters, Susy and Clara (and their nursemaid), and a family friend, Clara Spaulding. They would remain abroad sixteen months, touring Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and England, with stays of several weeks in Heidelberg, Munich, and Paris. For Clemens this was a working holiday: he filled notebook after notebook with ideas for his next travel book, A Tramp Abroad. In addition, he and his family had another agenda—some serious shopping.

Notebook with Olivia Clemens's shopping lists, and inscribed wallet
Olivia made careful notes of gifts, furniture, and bric-a-brac that she intended to buy abroad, then kept itemized lists of purchases, city by city, as the family traveled through Europe. Here, she lists some Venetian purchases in a small notebook borrowed from her husband (his name is inscribed in gold on the matching case). They spent thousands of dollars, shipping many items home directly from the vendors, and also bringing back with them twelve trunks with purchases to complete the décor of their Hartford home, built to their specifications in 1873-1874.
Notebook entries about the Uffizi Gallery
Florence, October 1878
Clemens made extensive notes about the paintings and sculpture he saw in Rome, Venice, and Florence. He admitted to being more appreciative than he had been in 1867, when his reaction to the Old Masters was a combination of boredom and exasperation. Here he records a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, where he was delighted by Bronzino's "Portrait of Prince Don Garzia." The baby prince is "very much the best baby I have seen in these acres of pictures. This is a real child, with fat face without having an apple in each cheek, has a most silly, winning, chuckleheaded childlike gleeful smile, 2 little teeth just showing in lower jaw—oh, he is perfect!"
Manuscript pages discarded from A Tramp Abroad
These eleven pages, comparing the relative comforts of American and European homes and transportation, were probably intended for chapter 49 of A Tramp Abroad. Clemens comes to the conclusion that "in Europe, outside of the house it is heaven, inside of it it is the other thing." Clemens estimated that he deleted over one thousand manuscript pages from his book; much of the discarded material is in the Mark Twain Papers.

Clemens and his family returned to Europe in June 1891 for an indefinite stay, motivated by health and money problems. Financial pressures, resulting from Clemens's disastrous investment in the Paige typesetter, had made the upkeep of the Hartford house a burden. And Clemens and his wife, Olivia, were both ill—he was suffering from rheumatism, and she was showing early signs of heart disease. "Travel has no longer any charm for me" Clemens wrote to William Dean Howells in May 1891, "I have seen all the foreign countries I want to see except heaven & hell, & I have only a vague curiosity as concerns one of those." The European trip, in fact, lengthened into an almost unbroken nine years of exile.

Photograph of Clemens, aged 56
Berlin, 1892
The Clemens family settled in Berlin for several months in the winter and spring of 1891 1892. Clemens found Berlin a "luminous centre of intelligence . . . a wonderful city." One of the highlights of the Berlin stay came in February 1892 when Clemens was invited to dine with an admirer of his travel books—Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Mark Twain vs. the French
"I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudices"

Notebook entries critical of the French
Paris, 1879
Clemens was in Paris from February to July 1879, struggling to finish A Tramp Abroad during a miserably cold winter and spring, while wracked by rheumatism and dysentery. His attitude toward Paris and the French—appreciative during his first visit in 1867—now became intemperate and hostile. He filled his notebook with irascible comments, which he then developed in more than 140 pages of manuscript, attacking French morality and political and social history. He made no use of the material, apparently realizing that its harsh tone could find no place in his travel book. Clemens persisted in his dislike of the French, later acknowledging that this was his one "race prejudice."

"The Awful German Language" and Other Linguistic Experiments

Manuscript and published version of "Italian without a Master"
Clemens toured Italy in 1867 and 1878, and he made lengthy stays near Florence in 1892-1893 and 1903-1904. His comical description of his efforts to understand the Italian newspapers was published in Harper's Weekly in January 1904. The note at the top of the first page of the manuscript is addressed to Frederick A. Duneka of Harper and Brothers.

In Search of Health
"Treatment for the damned"

"Mark Twain's Adhesive Scrap Book" with clipping of "Mark Twain at Aix-les-Bains"
Hoping to alleviate the rheumatism in his right arm, Clemens took the baths at Aix-les-Bains in June 1891. He found the town "enchanting" and the treatments helpful. He remained five weeks, and praised the spa in this article, published in the Chicago Tribune of 8 November 1891. The sketch of "Mark Twain on his Travels" is by Daniel Beard, illustrator of A Connecticut Yankee. He pictures Clemens shouldering a quill pen, on which are skewered figures representing royalty, the clergy, and business. The pre-pasted scrapbook is Clemens's own design, patented in 1873 and marketed profitably for many years.
Clemens writes to his daughter Clara about Kellgren's treatment
Sanna, 12 July 1899
Clemens, Olivia, and Jean Clemens stayed at Sanna for almost three months, undergoing Kellgren's osteopathic regimen "for the damned," described in amusing detail in this letter to Clara, who remained in London. Clemens would soon be fervently enthusiastic about Kellgren's treatments and the beauties of Sweden.
Photograph of Clemens and his daughter Clara on board ship, returning from Italy after Olivia Clemens's death
June-July 1904
Olivia died on 5 June 1904 at the Villa di Quarto near Florence. Her husband and daughters, devastated by her death, sailed for New York on 28 June aboard the Prince Oscar, bringing her body back home to be buried in the Langdon family plot in Elmira, New York. A week later, Clara, still suffering from the shock of her mother's death, put herself under a doctor's care in New York City.
Notebook entries about the funeral of Olivia Clemens
13 and 14 July 1904
Clemens briefly described the funeral in this tiny Italian diary.
Orders from President Roosevelt & the Secretary of the Treasury passed us swiftly ashore, & we went to the Hotel with Charley Langdon & Mr. & Mrs. Loomis (my niece). Loomis is Vice President of the D. L. W. RR & we all go to Elmira in his private car tomorrow—taking Rev. J. H. Twichell of Hartford, who married us.

.   .   .   .

Funeral private, in the house of Livy's young maidenhood. Where she stood as a bride 34 years ago, there her coffin rested; & over it the same voice that had made her a wife then, committed her departed spirit to God, now.

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