[The London publisher John Camden Hotten brought out a pirated version of Innocents Abroad in 1870 in two volumes, each with an elaborate title. The first was called The Innocents Abroad, A Book of Travel in Pursuit of Pleasure: The Voyage Out ; the second, The New Pilgrim's Progress, A Book of Travel in Pursuit of Pleasure: The Journey Home . The first volume included the following Introduction, written by Edward P. Hingston, an Englishman who met MT while touring the West as agent for Artemus Ward. There are a number of biographical errors in it.]
"I MIGHT come to grief?"
"Roll over a precipice perhaps, and break my neck?"
"Well; that's so. Your temper might be tried in that way. The roads over the Sierra are pretty rough just now, and we are likely to have ugly weather."
"Then, I think the game is hardly worth the candle, my friend. No riding over the mountains alone for me. Besides, what would there be to see when I got to Nevada?"
"You would see the big silver mines."
"I have seen the Mexican ones. They were large enough for me. Is there anything else to repay me for the journey?"
"Yes. You would see Mark Twain."
"Ah! I will go."
The foregoing is, as nearly as I can remember, an abstract of a conversation with a literary friend in San Francisco, towards the close of the year 1863. I knew that in a few months I should have to visit Nevada on business. Why not avail myself of a leisure week and ride over the Sierra to see the wonders of the new territory? A mountain summit 6000 feet high, snow, slippery paths, and very rough roads were the hindrances. But when my friend mentioned the name of Mark Twain the mountains grew less steep, the roads perfectly practicable, and the snow became white roses. I had read many of Mark Twain's contributions to the press of the Great West. I had heard numerous reports of his telents, his jovial wit, his social singularities, and his extreme good fellowship. In one of the papers I had seen him styled -- "That moral phenomenon, Mark Twain." Believing that a "moral phenomenon" would be something to see, and that the conversation of a man who could write so humorously would be worth listening to, I started for Nevada.
At the town of Placerville I came to a halt. My horse -- a borrowed one -- did not at all care about seeing Mark Twain. He preferred to see a veterinary doctor. The people of Placerville told me that I had better make the journey in the stage-coach. I did so; but not till nearly two months later, when the roads were in better condition. Then it was that I landed myself in Virginia City, a terraced town, built on the side of Mount Davidson; and there it was that I met Mark Twain.
"You will find him at the office of the Territorial Enterprise," was the direction I received.
Virginia City was but a few months old. The Territorial Enterprise was a daily paper, well edited, copious in its information, fortunate in its advertisements, of large dimensions, and published every morning, where a year or two previous, there had been the silence of the wilderness and the tents of the Indian savage.
The newspaper office was in C Street. Its foundations were of granite, its front of iron. In its basement was a saloon for drink, furnished with a piano, the use of which I was informed was "to tone down the troubled spirits of the visitors." Behind the drinking saloon were two of Hoe's cylinder steam-printing presses. On the first floor of the building were the offices of mining share-brokers, and a wholesale brandy store. On the second story were some more brokers and some attorneys, and on the third floor were the editorial offices of the paper. I asked for Mr. Mark Twain, and hearing his name mentioned, the gentleman of whom I was in quest called out to Mr. Wright, to whom I had addressed myself--
"Dan, pass the gentleman into my den. The noble animal is here."
A young man, strongly built, ruddy in complexion, his hair of a sunny hue, his eyes light and twinkling, in manner hearty, and nothing of the student about him, but very much of the miner -- one who looked as if he could take his own part in a quarrel, strike a smart blow as readily as he could say a telling thing, bluffly jolly, brusquely cordial, off-handedly good-natured -- such was the kind of man I found Mark Twain to be.
Let it be borne in mind that from the windows of the newspaper office the American desert was visible; that within a radius of ten miles Indians were encamping amongst the sage-brush; that the whole city was populated with miners, adventurers, Jew traders, gamblers, and all the rough-and-tumble class which a mining town in a new territory collects together, and it will be readily understood that a reporter for a daily paper in such a place must neither go about his duties wearing light kid gloves, nor be fastidious about having gilt edges to his note-books. In Mark Twain I found the very man I had expected to see -- a flower of the wilderness, tinged with the colour of the soil, the man of thought and the man of action rolled into one, humorist and hard-worker, Momus in a felt hat and jack-boots. In the reporter of the Territorial Enterprise I became introduced to a Californian celebrity, rich in eccentricities of thought, lively in fancy, quaint in remark, whose residence upon the fringre of civilization had allowed his humour to develop without restraint, and his speech to be racily idiomatic.
The name of MARK TWAIN is a nom de plume for Mr. Samuel L. Clemens; whose father, Mr. Orion Clemens, held a high position in the territorial government of Nevada. Before visiting that territory Mark Twain had afforded evidence of his literary ability on the Californian side of the Sierra. At the time of my introduction to him his talents had scarcely rendered his name familiar to the public of Boston or New York, and his expressed to Artemus Ward and myself a very earnest desire to be better known in one of other of those cities. Artemus promised to get him appointed a contributor to the New York Mercury, a promise that I believe was faithfully kept.
Writing of himself and his friend Dan de Quille, his collaborateur on the Nevada paper in 1863, Mark Twain says, in an advertisement of the Territorial Enterprise -- "Our duty is to keep the universe thoroughly posted concerning murders and street fights and balls and threatres, and pack-trains, and churches, and lectures, and school-houses, and city military affairs, and highway robberies, and Bible societies, and hay waggons, and the thousand other things which it is within the province of local reporters to keep track of and magnify into undue importance for the instruction of the readers of a great daily newspaper. Beyond this revelation everything connected with these two experiments of Providence must for ever remain an impenetrable mystery."
With the rapid development of a literature of its own, California offered Mark Twain increased scope for his talents. A series of remarkably original articles, abounding in drollery and grotesque humour, were contributed by him to various journals of San Francisco, among which were the Golden Era, Californian, and Overland Monthly, and he soon became transferred from the rough life of Nevada to undertake editorial duties in San Francisco. The tale of "The Jumping Frog," a capitally told and richly conceived humorous story of the California gold-mines, gave its author an immediate and widespread popularity. "The Jumping Frog" has been republished everywhere, and is as well known to the readers of Australia as it is to the literary public of London and New York. It has been highly praised by Mr. Tom Hood in the pages of Fun, and a friend of mine had it put into his hands by a Parsee merchant in Bombay, who assured him that it was the funniest thing he could read.
In the spring of 1867 an extraordinary pleasure-trip was projected at New York. A steamer was to leave that port in the summer, cross the Atlantic, make the circuit of the Mediterranean, stop at the principal places along the coast of Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, and Syria; the passengers were to visit Rome, Cairo, Jerusalem, and everywhere else besides, see all places of interest, visit all historical sites, be back in New York in time to attend to their winter duties, and all for the sum of 1250 dollars in American currency, or less than 200l. English. The celebrated Rev. Ward Beecher was to have formed one of the party, but did not carry out his intention. Mark Twain went instead. To the young humorist, fresh from the rough life of the Far West, the Eastern world was full of the most attractive charms. It would be something to see how far Rome was like Sacramento, and whether there was any resemblance between Cairo and San Francisco. Besides, any habits of the people at Naples and at Jerusalem were likely to be slightly dissimilar to those of a camp of miners among the mountains of Nevada.
The incidents of this famous excursion, and the results arrived at, are detailed by Mark Twain in the two volumes now published. The first volume, entitled "The Innocents Abroad," gives the details of the trip from New York as far as Naples; while the second volume, under the title of the "New Pilgrim's Progress," furnishes an account of all that the excursionists experienced in the Holy Land, and among the classic localities of the Grecian and Syrian shores.
A most aptly chosen title is that of "The Innocents Abroad," so far as Mark Twain is concerned. He visited Europe and Asia without any of the preparations for travel which most travellers undertake. His object was to see things as they are, and record the impressions they produced on a man of hjmourous perception, who paid his first visit to Europe without a travelling-tutor, a university education, or a stock of conventional sentimentality packed in his carpet-bag. Throughout the trip he looked at all objects as an untravelled American might be expected to look, and measured men and manners by the gauge he had set up for himself among the gold-hills of California and the silver-mines of half-civilized Nevada.
I believe that Mark Twain has never visited England. Some time since he wrote to me asking my opinion relative to his giving an entertainment in London. He has appeared in New York, and elsewhere as a lecturer, and from his originality would, I have no doubt, be able to repeat his lectures with success were he to visit this country. But I never met him in the character of a public entertainer, and can only speak from experience of his remarkable talent as a humorous writer, and of his cordial frankness and jovial good-fellowship as a friend and companion.