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The Complete Works of Artemus Ward — Part 4: To California and Return   By: (1834-1867)

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Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) Part 4



With a biographical sketch by Melville D. Landon, "Eli Perkins"




4.1. On the Steamer.

4.2. The Isthmus.

4.3. Mexico.

4.4. California.

4.5. Washoe.

4.6. Mr. Pepper.

4.7. Horace Greeley's Ride to Placerville.

4.8. To Reese River.

4.9. Great Salt Lake City.

4.10. The Mountain Fever.

4.11. "I am Here."

4.12. Brigham Young.

4.13. A Piece is Spoken.

4.14. The Ball.

4.15. Phelp's Almanac.

4.16. Hurrah for the Road.

4.17. Very Much Married.

4.18. The Revelation of Joseph Smith.



New York, Oct. 13, 1868.

The steamer Ariel starts for California at noon.

Her decks are crowded with excited passengers, who instantly undertake to "look after" their trunks and things; and what with our smashing against each other, and the yells of the porters, and the wails over lost baggage, and the crash of boxes, and the roar of the boilers, we are for the time being about as unhappy a lot of maniacs as was ever thrown together.

I am one of them. I am rushing around with a glaring eye in search of a box.

Great jam, in which I find a sweet young lady, with golden hair, clinging to me fondly, and saying, "Dear George, farewell!" Discovers her mistake, and disappears.

I should like to be George some more.

Confusion so great that I seek refuge in a stateroom which contains a single lady of forty five summers, who says, "Base man! leave me!" I leave her.

By and by we cool down, and become somewhat regulated.


When the gong sounds for breakfast we are fairly out on the sea, which runs roughly, and the Ariel rocks wildly. Many of the passengers are sick, and a young naval officer establishes a reputation as a wit by carrying to one of the invalids a plate of raw salt pork, swimming in cheap molasses. I am not sick; so I roll round the deck in the most cheerful sea dog manner.

. . . .

The next day and the next pass by in a serene manner. The waves are smooth now, and we can all eat and sleep. We might have enjoyed ourselves very well, I fancy, if the Ariel, whose capacity was about three hundred and fifty passengers, had not on this occasion carried nearly nine hundred, a hundred, at least of whom were children of an unpleasant age. Captain Semmes captured the Ariel once, and it is to be deeply regretted that that thrifty buccaneer hadn't made mince meat of her, because she is a miserable tub at best, and hasn't much more right to be afloat than a second hand coffin has. I do not know her proprietor, Mr. C. Vanderbilt. But I know of several excellent mill privileges in the State of Maine, and not one of them is so thoroughly "Dam'd" as he was all the way from New York to Aspinwall.

I had far rather say a pleasant thing than a harsh one; but it is due to the large number of respectable ladies and gentleman who were on board the steamer Ariel with me that I state here that the accommodations on that steamer were very vile. If I did not so state, my conscience would sting me through life, and I should have harried dreams like Richard III. Esq.

The proprietor apparently thought we were undergoing transportation for life to some lonely island, and the very waiters who brought us meals, that any warden of any penitentiary would blush to offer convicts, seemed to think it was a glaring error our not being in chains.

As a specimen of the liberal manner in which this steamer was managed I will mention that the purser (a very pleasant person, by the way) was made to unite the positions of purser, baggage clerk, and doctor; and I one day had a lurking suspicion that he was among the waiters in the dining cabin, disguised in a white jacket and slipshod pumps... Continue reading book >>

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