From the Earth to the Moon HTML version
Chapter 3. Effect Of The President's Communication
It is impossible to describe the effect produced by the last words of the honorable
president-- the cries, the shouts, the succession of roars, hurrahs, and all the varied
vociferations which the American language is capable of supplying. It was a scene of
indescribable confusion and uproar. They shouted, they clapped, they stamped on the
floor of the hall. All the weapons in the museum discharged at once could not have more
violently set in motion the waves of sound. One need not be surprised at this. There are
some cannoneers nearly as noisy as their own guns.
Barbicane remained calm in the midst of this enthusiastic clamor; perhaps he was
desirous of addressing a few more words to his colleagues, for by his gestures he
demanded silence, and his powerful alarum was worn out by its violent reports. No
attention, however, was paid to his request. He was presently torn from his seat and
passed from the hands of his faithful colleagues into the arms of a no less excited crowd.
Nothing can astound an American. It has often been asserted that the word "impossible"
in not a French one. People have evidently been deceived by the dictionary. In America,
all is easy, all is simple; and as for mechanical difficulties, they are overcome before they
arise. Between Barbicane's proposition and its realization no true Yankee would have
allowed even the semblance of a difficulty to be possible. A thing with them is no sooner
said than done.
The triumphal progress of the president continued throughout the evening. It was a
regular torchlight procession. Irish, Germans, French, Scotch, all the heterogeneous units
which make up the population of Maryland shouted in their respective vernaculars; and
the "vivas," "hurrahs," and "bravos" were intermingled in inexpressible enthusiasm.
Just at this crisis, as though she comprehended all this agitation regarding herself, the
moon shone forth with serene splendor, eclipsing by her intense illumination all the
surrounding lights. The Yankees all turned their gaze toward her resplendent orb, kissed
their hands, called her by all kinds of endearing names. Between eight o'clock and
midnight one optician in Jones'-Fall Street made his fortune by the sale of opera-glasses.
Midnight arrived, and the enthusiasm showed no signs of diminution. It spread equally
among all classes of citizens-- men of science, shopkeepers, merchants, porters, chair-
men, as well as "greenhorns," were stirred in their innermost fibres. A national enterprise
was at stake. The whole city, high and low, the quays bordering the Patapsco, the ships
lying in the basins, disgorged a crowd drunk with joy, gin, and whisky. Every one
chattered, argued, discussed, disputed, applauded, from the gentleman lounging upon the
barroom settee with his tumbler of sherry-cobbler before him down to the waterman who
got drunk upon his "knock-me-down" in the dingy taverns of Fell Point.
About two A.M., however, the excitement began to subside. President Barbicane reached
his house, bruised, crushed, and squeezed almost to a mummy. Hercules could not have