Twain in his
honorary Oxford regalia

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Volume 47

 

 

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  First-hand accounts of Quaker City passengers describe Twain’s behavior (his charm, his drinking, and his swearing) on the tour of Europe and the Holy Land in Quaker City Excursion, Part II (Volume 47).

   While Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad (1869) immortalized that tour of Europe and the Holy Land, a number of other passengers had their say about the places and events that Twain humorously satirized in his travel letters and then subsequently in his famous narrative.

    Dr. Abraham Reeves Jackson, for instance, observed that “private feuds and animosities, from opposing interests and views, arose . . . among the passengers themselves. Cliques were formed, tea-parties were organized, where at their daily sittings, the participants indulged in the amiable pastime of exchanging comments on the conduct, characters and peculiarities of their fellow passengers.” This bitterness spilled over into print years after the excursion was over. Personal correspondence also survives from Charles J. Langdon, the seventeen-year-old brother of Olivia Langdon who initially had his doubts about a certain uncouth stranger from the Far West. The doggerel poems of Bloodgood H. Cutter, a target of Twain’s wit, are complemented by an account of a visitor’s tour of Cutter’s bizarre Long Island residence. However, it was Mary Mason Fairbanks in 1892 who best summed up the principal result of the voyage: “The Quaker City sailed out of New York harbor with no celebrities on board. She brought back the Great American Humorist.”

 

 

Twain photographed
in Constantinople, Turkey, 1867

(Courtesy of the Mark Twain Papers)

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