A trip to the magnificent Louvre museum with Mark Twain. Well actually Mark Twain himself never got there, but he wrote about not getting there in “The Innocents Abroad”, and that satirical anecdote about what happens to unwary, blustery Americans tourists overseas when paired with guides with lucrative side lines (and I know from experience this still happens to tourists in many places overseas) made its way into my musical beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN. I’ll share that little musical bon bon of Mark Twain’s bon mots, along with pictures of the Louvre as it stands now.
And I do mean to focus on the Louvre, the French royal palace of old, turned into a museum, and a magnificent work of art in its own right. A closer look at art work exhibited in the Louvre itself, with one or two exceptions, will be reserved for another time, I think. For today the Louvre itself is the star, this grand sprawling museum/palace; accompanied by a musical rendition of Mark Twain’s ill fated attempt to get there by carriage with a group of American tourists he affectionally calls Pilgrims, who have been taking the first cross-Atlantic pleasure cruise in history in 1867.
The carriage – an open barouche – was ready. Ferguson mounted beside the driver, and we whirled away.
We’re riding by barouche to the Louvre
Americans en route to the Louvre
The point is surely moot that the Louvre
The Pilgrims in Pa-ree
Dan happened to mention that he thought of buying three or four silk dress patterns for presents.
After twenty minutes the carriage stopped.
Zis is ze finest silk magasin in Paris – ze most celebrate.
We told you to take us to the palace of the Louvre
I suppose ze gentlemen say he wish to buy some silk.
You are not required to ‘suppose’ things for the party, Ferguson. We will do such ‘supposing’ as is really necessary to be done. Drive on.
We’re riding by barouche to the Louvre
Excited and convinced it should pro-ve
The most delightful palace that you-‘ve
Encountered in Paree
Within fifteen minutes the carriage halted again, and before another silk store.
Ah, the palace of the Louvre! Does the Emperor Napoleon live here now, Ferguson?
Ah, Madame! Zis is not ze palace; we come there directly. But since we pass right by zis store, where is such beautiful silk —
Ah, I see, I see. I meant to have told you that we did not wish to purchase any silk today, but in my absentmindedness I forgot it. I also meant to tell you that we wished to go directly to the Louvre, but I forgot that also. However we will go there now. Drive on.
There’s oh so much to see in the Louvre
The beautiful museum, the Louvre
We’d really rather be in the Louvre
This carriage through Paree!
Within half an hour we stopped again -in front of another silk store.
At last! How imposing the Louvre is! Venerable, venerable pile —
Pardon, Madame, zis is not ze Louvre – it is —
What is it?
I have ze idea zat ze silk in zis magasin —
Confound the idiot! I don’t want to see any silks today, and I won’t look at them. Drive on.
ALL but Guide (sung/shouted):
For Heaven’s sake, just drive to the Louvre!
Sair – just one leetle moment! And ze time will be save – entirely save! Because there is nothing to see now – it is too late. It want ten minute to four and ze Louvre close at four –
The treacherous miscreant! To serve us such a scurvy trick. We got no sight of the Louvre that day, and our only poor satisfaction was that Ferguson sold us not a solitary silk dress pattern.
This is how Americans fare at the hands of the Paris guides. They deceive and defraud every American who goes to Paris for the first time. I shall visit Paris again someday, and then let the guides beware! I shall go in my war paint – I shall carry my tomahawk along.
(You know, maybe I feel a little silly highlighting one of the more trifling scenes and songs from beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN, when there are so many richer selections from the show to put forth, many of which I already have (check out the listings on the bottom of the TWAIN page), and many more I hope still to get to.
But I have these pictures of the Louvre… and so, hey, synergy!)