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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Robert Jones Burdette (1844–1914)

The Great American Traveler

“EXCUSE me,” said the man with side-whiskers, as he turned to the passenger on the seat behind him, “but I heard you speaking of Europe awhile ago. You have been there, I take it?”

“Yes, sir,” was the reply.

“And I am on my way to New York to take a steamer to London. Were you in London?”

“Oh, yes.”

“How much of London can I see in two days?”

“A mile or two, I should say.”

“A mile or two—that will do first-rate,” said the side-whiskered man as he took out pencil and note-book. “How long should you think I ought to stay in Paris?”

“From eight in the morning to six in the evening at least. In that time you can see at least four blocks of Paris.”

“Thanks! Four blocks—ten hours. Good! Is the tomb of the great Napoleon at Paris?”

“Of course not.”

“Glad of that. If it was, I should feel obliged to go and see it, and it always gives me the headache to look at tombs. I am told that I ought to go to Rome. Anything special to see in Rome?”

“A few ruins, I believe,” replied the man who had been there.

“Then I shall skip Rome. Half of my town burned up last year, and there’s no end of ruins to be seen right at home. I’ve seen the track of a cyclone, too, and you can’t beat that for slivers and splinters and ruins. I’ll find Switzerland over there somewhere, I suppose?”

“Yes, if you make inquiries.”

“I’ve been told to take it in. ’Most all mountains, I believe. How long had I ought to be doing Switzerland?”

“At least a couple of hours.”

“I can give it half a day if I find it interesting. I’ve got it down here to go to Naples, and to go from Naples to Vesuvius. Vesuvius is a volcano, isn’t it?”


“I never saw one and don’t know as I care to. We had the biggest spring freshet in the Wabash this year known since 1848, and a man who has seen seven houses and barns floating down a river all at once can’t feel knocked out at sight of a volcano. How’s Venice?”

“It was all right when I was there, though most of the people had the grip. You ought to put in a full day in Venice.”

“Half a day is all I can spare, and I shall spend most of that in a gondola. Europe, taken altogether, is quite a country, isn’t it?”

“Yes, a pretty fair country.”

“A man who hustles along can see most of it in three weeks, can’t he?”

“He ought to.”

“Well, I’m going to give it three weeks, and perhaps an extra day or two, and then scoot back here; and if my going abroad don’t knock the other grocers in my town galley west I’ll put the price of eggs down to ten cents a dozen and hold ’em down till I have got to go into bankruptcy! Thanks, sir; I’ve got it all down here—Europe—Rome—Naples—Venice—three weeks—no tombs—git up and dust and get back home again. Come into the smoker and have a nickel cigar with me.”