Trieste – At Sea to Port Said, 15 December 1892

Vienna’s sea of houses disappear on the horizon: a last salute to the beautiful city – only after a long journey around the earth will I see her again! My parents, my younger sisters, Otto and my sister-in-law accompanied me to Trieste. On 14th December we arrived there in the evening. Just after my arrival, I embarked upon the ram cruiser “Elisabeth” where I was welcomed on board by its commander, Captain of the Line v. Becker and his staff. Not far from “Elisabeth” lay moored “Greif”. My parents and my sisters passed the night on board of that ship.

Today in the morning my family – Ferdinand had also arrived – came on board of “Elisabeth” to while away the last hours prior to my departure.  After the belated arrival of Admiral Baron Sterneck and finally of Count and Countess Thun as well as Prince Starhemberg a thorough visit of the ship in all its parts and all its equipment for the long voyage was undertaken. The batteries, the torpedo installations, the colossal machines of 9000 horse powers, the giant 24 cm tower guns, the officers’ mess as well as the magazines with the munitions and supply depots were duly admired.

The last hours together with my family passed away all too quickly and now it was time to separate! To the salute of the guns and cries of “Hurrah” I accompanied my parents and siblings back on board of “Greif”, took my leave with a heavy heart and returned to “Elisabeth”.

At 2 o’clock the ship was unmoored; the anthem was sung, a hundred times the officers and sailors shouted “Hurrah”  – majestically, “Elisabeth” went into action. We drove past “Greif” and two Lloyd steamships “Arciduchessa Carlotta” and „Danubio“ packed tightly with ladies, officers and gentlemen. On all ships, the people’s hymn rang out; kerchiefs, caps and hats were swung as greetings. In a plethora of languages they shouted to us “Farewell” and “happy voyage” which were answered with “Hurrahs” and a flag salute. It was a touching moment!

The tender ship „Büffel“, the two Lloyd steamboats and „Greif“ went along with us. Our two ship bands added patriotic color to the air of departure – the sounds of the Radetzky march and Prince Eugene march, the glorious “O you my Austria” (O, du mein Österreich) were drifting across the sea. Home seemed to want to imprint itself as a beautiful image into my memory, as the sun was beaming out of a clear sky, reflected in the deep blue fair Adria and from afar, the snow covered mountains were offering their salutes with their glistering peaks.

But the separation has to happen at last! A few miles out of Trieste, level with Piran, “Greif” signaled on the mast top “Good journey, good bye and good hunting”, then it turned about sharply to starboard; a final salute from the bridge and we were on our own on a southern course into space. For a long time, I was observing “Greif”. The distance kept growing, the homeward bound ship grew smaller and smaller till it was but a point swimming on the horizon where the blue sky and the water seemed to flow together. Then it disappeared from my view. In my thoughts a feeling of eternal longing for my home and my dearest welled up, it was homesickness which I didn’t know before. Just a moment ago, it was wanderlust that had capture me with all its magic and now, only a few moments after the separation from my country, my parents and my siblings, it was homesickness that constant fellow of the home centered traveler which appeared unexpectedly out of the thought that I would be living abroad for a year.

Never did I experience the power more strongly that a nation can hold over its sons than when I was leaving it behind with every second.  The thought comforted me that distance does not equal separation. Hope about a fortuitous return home was building a bridge to a joyful reunion.

Willingly, I humored my mood and lost myself in the thoughts that had triggered it for a few moments. Then I banned them. It was expedient for everyone to make one’s stay on this floating piece of home as comfortable as possible. In the cabins, photographs and pictures were hanged, the books of the large travel library sorted, weapons unpacked and checked. Soon the work was completed and I went again on deck. The well-known coast of Istria with its spare rocks and the nice white hamlets was passing by: from afar, the peaks of Monte Maggiore were glistening. A glorious sunset completed the day. In the evening, we met in the lunch room, and the approaching night met us writing the first letters home.

Links

  • Location: Trieste (Italy).
  • ANNO – on 15.12.1892 in Austria’s newspapers: The morning edition of the Neue Freie Presse opens with a report on the German Reichstag discussing contentious military issues. In Vienna, too budgets are discussed in parliament.
  • Vienna’s K.k. Burgtheater announced Ludwig Fulda’s new play „Das verlorene Paradies“ (Lost Paradise), while the K.k. Hof-Operntheater played Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.
Scharf's diamond imitations, of world renown. Christmas presents for travelers by Herman Waizner, 1. Vienna.

Scharf’s diamond imitations, of world renown. Christmas presents for travelers by Herman Waizner, 1. Vienna.

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