Yokohama, 24 August 1893

Unfortunately the departure was looming. The last day I could spend on „Elisabeth“ had arrived, as already tomorrow „Empress of China„, on which I intend to embark and which has entered Yokohama this morning, is leaving for America. The boxes and suitcases had already been packed, but I made a quick trip on land to buy some dwarf trees. During a visit to this purpose of a large trade garden shop, I could not be more surprised about the diversity of the dwarf trees as well as the variations of crippling that are inflicted upon the individual specimens. A spruce not yet one foot tall that I bought was apparently more than 50 years old.

At a breakfast, I assembled the most senior of each rank and stayed the rest of the afternoon on board, occupied with checking various matters for the further voyage.

Apparently, in consideration of my impending departure, I enjoyed today for the first time since my arrival in the vicinity the privilege of viewing Fujiyama, the holy mountain with its blunted cone, in a fully clear atmosphere.

When it started to turn dark, a great farewell party began that the gentlemen of the staff and the crew had organized in my honor. In a smart well-thought-out procession representatives of all the countries and people that we had visited and seen on our journey were to march past me, living images of a repetition of the up to now to happily completed voyage. Already for quite some time, the preparations for the party had been going on on board. All artists and artisans were fully occupied in creating the costumes, decorations etc. Nevertheless the secret was mostly kept from me and only now and then one could see a pitch-black savage or a Japanese rush through the battery after rehearsals.

As soon as the commander came to fetch me, the whole staff had assembled in front of my cabin while the crew that was not part of the procession were distributed across the deck in groups. The deck was brightly illuminated and namely an electrical sun threw light as clear as daylight against the castle from where the procession started. Our brave band master had composed a pot-pourri to remind us about the individual phases of the voyage. As much as possible the national music pieces of the respective countries had been inserted so that the festive procession was accompanied and commented by the musical production in a fitting way.

The procession was opened by Egyptians from Port Said, fellahs and Nubians, then came black Somalis and smartly dressed English soldiers in their traditional red coats from Aden; Ceylon sent Singhalese and multiple Buddha priests from Kandy; India was represented by a group in which also beautiful Indian ladies were to be seen. The two best figures in this group were fake Mahmood, namely Petty Officer Second Class Ivicich, who had borrowed the dress and turban of our servant Mahmood and thus looked strikingly similar to the Indian, furthermore a rich Parse, played by our gunsmith who had borrowed a long coat from our ship chaplain and has been filled up to a embonpoint to look most original. Very authentic and true to nature, armed with the genuine ornaments and weapons, marched our Islanders, the Kanaks of Numea, the Papuas of the Solomon Islands and finally the Dayaks from Borneo. From Australia came Aborigines as well as farmers, squatters and bush nags.

Very funnily portrayed was the arrival of the long expected mail in Hongkong by a trumpeting post master. The sons of the Heavenly Kingdom, pig-tailed Chinese, scuttled past in pairs, followed by a whole group of Japanese and musumes, clad in Kimonos and equipped with all kinds of Japanese musical instruments that were fortunately not played. The small Tyrolean who had already played a female role as Amphitrite during the equatorial baptism made again a cute impression as a musume.

At the end of the procession marched boatswain Zamberlin holding the flag in his right hand and followed by a formation of 20 of the tallest and strongest sailors. He stopped in front of me, held the flag high and made a speech to me with a real patriotic content in which he mentioned the happy end of the voyage on „Elisabeth“ and that the navy will always do its best at any opportunity and fulfil the expectations placed upon it. If His Majesty Our supreme Warlord will call his peoples to fight, the navy will again take up its stand and fight with its blood for the Emperor and the fatherland, always protecting its holiest sign, the flag and honoring it. With a  hurrah to me the brave man ended his speech that moved me to tears as his enthusiasm expressed in a simple way came from his heart. Each of us felt that Zamberlin spoke exactly as he felt. His words were those of a patriotic thinking soldier and Austrian.

May in our navy and our army always NCOs be formed and kept who have the same their uprightness and  capability that distinguishes Zamberlin, men who have the heart in the right spot! Such persons are the pillars to support their commander, the bright example for the young crewmen. Certainly a profound education and a body of knowledge is necessary in order for a soldier to perform his duty in all cases, but this is not enough. To successfully defeat the enemy, the crew must see the execution of their duty as a matter of the heart.

I then marched past the front of all the participants where I often had difficulties in identifying the individual crew members in their disguises whom I have encountered closely during the various expeditions on water and land. Namely the identification of the dark-colored savages was of considerable difficulty. The organization of the procession was not only a success on an overall level but also in the details as I could ascertain during the inspection of the individual figures and groups. I can only wish that those who organized the party with the goal to please me and create a good memory about the performance of the successful images of the journey will be rewarded for their considerable efforts.

A dinner to which I had been invited by the ship staff took place on the iron deck transformed with an artistic hand into a garden salon. For the last time we were united in that place where we have so often met with the gentlemen of the staff — in all parts of the world that we passed through in good and bad days we lived through — to exchange thoughts, impressions, sentiments in a cosy talk and to think about the dear distant home.

As everywhere where soldiers meet for a meal, the first glass was emptied to the health of our supreme warlord to the festive sounds of the anthem. Then the commander gave a warm speech about me to which I, deeply moved by the thought of having to leave „Elisabeth“ tomorrow and be separated from the gentlemen of the ship staff, replied from my heart and expressed my innermost thanks and hoped that our beautiful navy will be successful in any venture as it did during this voyage and desired that the gentlemen would return home safely feeling that they have loyally fulfilled their mission.

During the dinner I was surprised by the officers presenting me with the apt gift, an image painted by the practised hand of Ramberg and which showed in its frame a number of views of the visited countries and a world map with the route of the voyage highlighted. Painted in aquarel the picture is outstanding by its accurate impression and its technical perfection. It is a splendid testament to the uncommon skill of the artist.

Links

  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
  • ANNO – on 24.08.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet „Excelsior“.

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