Rare Receipt for Passage on the 1867 "Quaker City" Excursion to the Holy Land

June 3, 1867

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Rare Receipt for Passage on the 1867 "Quaker City" Excursion to the Holy Land
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1 page | SMC 2295

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      Considering that a first-class round-trip ticket from New York to Paris on a Cunard steamship cost, in the summer of 1867, $200, $1,250 for a 5-month cruise to Europe and the Mediterranean was a phenomenal splurge - and even then, only half the anticipated expense of the trip. An added $750 in gold, at least, was recommended for travel expenses away from the ship.


      Here Captain William R. Hoel, a former Mississippi River steamboat pilot and Civil War Naval hero hailing from Cincinnati, makes himself one of the select to travel "from New York to the Mediterranean and back to New York, stopping at various ports" - albeit just 5 days prior to the ship's departure. The "Special Traveling Correspondent" of the San Francisco Alta California newspaper had, by contrast, finagled his way on to the passenger list in April - Mark Twain's assignment being to write 20 travel letters documenting the first luxury cruise to the Holy Land. This of course he did - and then used the pieces as the basis for his first best-seller,  The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress.


      Hoel, who would prove - after the voyage at least - to be a man of forbidding temper (and apparently murdered, on that account, in 1879), did not appear in Twain's letters or his book, as himself or any known character.  The official signatory of this document, Captain Charles C. Duncan, however, was mentioned in both Twain's original letters and in Innocents Abroad -  quite respectfully, too. This was, on Twain's part, a fictional liberty: he had come to loathe the Captain as an incompetent commander and, he claimed, a canting hypocrite to boot. Duncan duly distained Twain as well, and would later give lectures alleging that Twain had been drunk and masquerading as a Baptist minister when he applied for passage on the Quaker City.  Not surprisingly, these charges led to a  drawn-out feud and eventually, some scholars believe, to Duncan's literary transformation into the rapscallion "King" in Huckleberry Finn.

      [Clemens: Quaker City] Printed Document, accomplished in manuscript, Signed twice by Quaker City Captain CHARLES C. DUNCAN as "C.C. Duncan" and with initials, being a receipt for $1,250 - the fare for the Quaker City luxury cruise to Europe and the Holy Land. 1 page, oblong octavo, New York, June 3, 1867. A 2¢ Revenue affixed. Also a wax seal in upper left corner.

      Used with permission of Shapell Legacy Partnership 2. 

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      33           New York, June 3d 1867

      Steamer Quaker City.

      Received Twelve hundred & fifty 00/100 Dollars for the voyage of Capt. W.R. Hoel 
      from New York to the Mediterranean and back to New York, stopping at various ports, as per programme annexed -- dangers of the Seas and of the elements excepted.

      Room No. 1.  ____________  Berth _______________

      C C DUNCAN
      Charterer and Manager
      Coupon for Receipt No. 33 
      Capt. W.R. Hoel