At Sea to Havre, 8 to 14 October 1893

Aeolus promised much when „Bretagne“ ventured out into the sea but kept few of the promises. Our high expectations about an agreeable voyage were diminished more and more and finally totally shattered. It was as if we who had been happily been borne on the back of the oceans had to endure their huge forces once more before we could set foot on Europe’s old soil again.

The sky refused itself to be seen by us, as we drove in dense fog that partly fully obscured all views partly heavily impeded it with a few rare interruptions which required increased caution in navigation given the large number of Atlantic Ocean steamers on this route.

The sea was choppy during the whole voyage and at times even stormy. Wave upon wave rolled against „Bretagne“ that however as a charming French lady was not looking to turn things into a tragedy and danced in elegant movements over the menacing dangers. Unfortunately the living freight aboard danced with her and not always as gracefully and without consequences. But we were spared worse misery than seeing our suffering fellow travellers. At times, one might have believed that the angel of death had enclosed the ship with its dark wings when only we sea-proof world travellers appeared on deck and entered the bleak empty dining hall.

As soon as the sea had calmed down a bit, but only to recover its strength and to have us feel her moods again, there was a general resurrection on board and the persons assumed dead reappeared and every nook of the ship was filled with laughter, talk and lust for life, as the large majority of the passengers was of French origin. When even the clouds were cracked open for once, the activity on the ship resembled those of a mosquito swarm that disperses at the start of a storm only to reassemble at the first rays of the sun and fly up and down enjoying the light and the warmth.

Very exciting and interesting in a psychological analysis of the people were comparing the life on board of the „Empress of China“ among the English and here on board of the „Bretagne“ among the French. In the tight conditions of human relations on a ship the characteristic qualities of the two nations were distinctly on display like on a zooming mirror. As we Austrians were in our natural means closer to that of the French, even if a bit more earnest, it is no wonder that life on board was quite harmonic and that, despite the bad weather, we spent quite agreeable hours on board of the „Bretagne“. To be fair — it was not only the travel companions that produced lighter tones into the image of our fog-filled existence but also the outstanding equipment on board of „Bretagne“ that made life quite bearable, most notably in the first place by the excellent cuisine.

In combination with a good conscience, a good dining table — it might sound prosaic but is nevertheless true — is one of the prerequisites of a long sea voyage that keeps the soul in an equitable balance in order to tolerate worse events more easily and to appreciate agreeable ones more joyfully.  Especially thankful were we who had already travelled around the globe and thereby tasted all imaginable culinary output for the perfect creations from the cooking artist of „Bretagne“ and will keep the chef in good memory in recognition of our already too often severely tested stomach.

When „Bretagne“ was steering over the Newfoundland bank, we witnessed an interesting spectacle. Far in the distance one could see jets of water spout out of the sea and soon a dark shapeless mass was getting closer to the ship which finally revealed itself as whales. Eight or ten of these animals were circling the „Bretagne“ at such a shallow depth that we could not only clearly distinguish the shapes of the creatures but also some amateur photographers on board managed to take images of the colossi but without being able to recommend them to prior adopt a friendly mien prior. We vividly regretted not to be on board of „Elisabeth“, as in that case her rapid fire canon might have been used successfully for me to make my debut as a whale hunter.

During the first days of the voyage we were still able to contain our impatience to reach. The closer „Bretagne“ approached the destination of our voyage however, the greater became our inquietude until finally the expectation reached its maximum strain.

Ex Oriente lux! On 14th October late in the evening — in our yearning we had rushed ahead to the heart of our homeland — the light fire of the Scilly islands appeared far off in the distance, twinkling like a star and indicating the right course to the „Bretagne“. An indescribable feeling of joy overcame the mariners in view of the first greeting from the old continent. The light house rises, in roaring storms and weather, and sends its friendly, helpful saving light out into the dark night that like an angel overcomes the demon of darkness and enters by its rays into the mind of man.


  • Location: At Sea near Newfoundland, Canada
  • ANNO – on 08.10.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the drama „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing Wagner’s opera „Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg“.
  • While Franz Ferdinand is already on his way to Europe, the Wiener Salonblatt informs its readers that he will next visit Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
The Wiener Salonblatt No. 41, informs its readers about Franz Ferdinand's visit to Philadelphia and Washington, DC. A visit to Independence Hall would have been quite unlikely. Anyway, Franz Ferdinand is already on board of the SS Bretagne returning to Europe.

The Wiener Salonblatt No. 41, informs its readers about Franz Ferdinand’s visit to Philadelphia and Washington, DC. A visit to Independence Hall would have been quite unlikely. Anyway, Franz Ferdinand is already on board of the SS Bretagne returning to Europe.


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