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The innocents abroad, or, The new Pilgrim's progress

being some account of the steamship Quaker City's pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy land ; with descriptions of countries, nations, incidents and adventures, as they appeared to the author



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“DO you wis zo haut can be?”

That was what the guide asked, when we were looking
up at the bronze horses on the Arch of Peace. It meant,
do you wish to go up there? I give it as a specimen of guide-English.
These are the people that make life a burthen to the
tourist. Their tongues are never still. They talk forever and
forever, and that is the kind of billingsgate they use. Inspiration
itself could hardly comprehend them. If they would
only show you a masterpiece of art, or a venerable tomb, or a
prison-house, or a battle-field, hallowed by touching memories
or historical reminiscences, or grand traditions, and then step
aside and hold still for ten minutes and let you think, it would
not be so bad. But they interrupt every dream, every pleasant
train of thought, with their tiresome cackling. Sometimes
when I have been standing before some cherished old
idol of mine that I remembered years and years ago in pictures
in the geography at school, I have thought I would give
a whole world if the human parrot at my side would suddenly
perish where he stood and leave me to gaze, and ponder, and

No, we did not “wis zo haut can be.” We wished to go to
La Scala, the largest theatre in the world, I think they call it.
We did so. It was a large place. Seven separate and distinct
masses of humanity—six great circles and a monster parquette.

We wished to go to the Ambrosian Library, and we did that
also. We saw a manuscript of Virgil, with annotations in the
handwriting of Petrarch, the gentleman who loved another


Page 184
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 184. In-line Illustration. Image of the seating area of an opera house as seen from the stage. The caption reads, "LA SCALA THEATER."] man's Laura, and lavished upon her all through life a love
which was a clear waste of the raw material. It was sound
sentiment, but bad judgment. It brought both parties fame,
and created a fountain of commiseration for them in sentimental
breasts that is running yet. But who says a word in
behalf of poor Mr. Laura? (I do not know his other name.)
Who glorifies him? Who bedews him with tears? Who
writes poetry about him? Nobody. How do you suppose he
liked the state of things that has given the world so much
pleasure? How did he enjoy having another man following
his wife every where and making her name a familiar word in
every garlic-exterminating mouth in Italy with his sonnets to
her pre-empted eyebrows? They got fame and sympathy—he
got neither. This is a peculiarly felicitous instance of what is
called poetical justice. It is all very fine; but it does not
chime with my notions of right. It is too one-sided—too ungenerous.


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Let the world go on fretting about Laura and
Petrarch if it will; but as for me, my tears and my lamentations
shall be lavished upon the unsung defendant.

We saw also an autograph letter of Lucrezia Borgia, a lady
for whom I have always entertained the highest respect, on
account of her rare histrionic capabilities, her opulence in solid
gold goblets made of gilded wood, her high distinction as an
operatic screamer, and the facility with which she could order
a sextuple funeral and get the corpses ready for it. We saw
one single coarse yellow hair from Lucrezia's head, likewise.
It awoke emotions, but we still live. In this same library we
saw some drawings by Michael Angelo (these Italians call him
Mickel Angelo,) and Leonardo da Vinci. (They spell it Vinci
and pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than
they pronounce.) We reserve our opinion of these sketches.

In another building they showed us a fresco representing some
lions and other beasts drawing chariots; and they seemed to
project so far from the wall that we took them to be sculptures.
The artist had shrewdly heightened the delusion by
painting dust on the creatures' backs, as if it had fallen there
naturally and properly. Smart fellow—if it be smart to
deceive strangers.

Elsewhere we saw a huge Roman amphitheatre, with its
stone seats still in good preservation. Modernized, it is now
the scene of more peaceful recreations than the exhibition of a
party of wild beasts with Christians for dinner. Part of the
time, the Milanese use it for a race track, and at other seasons
they flood it with water and have spirited yachting regattas
there. The guide told us these things, and he would hardly
try so hazardous an experiment as the telling of a falsehood,
when it is all he can do to speak the truth in English without
getting the lock-jaw.

In another place we were shown a sort of summer arbor, with
a fence before it. We said that was nothing. We looked
again, and saw, through the arbor, an endless stretch of garden,
and shrubbery, and grassy lawn. We were perfectly willing
to go in there and rest, but it could not be done. It was


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only another delusion—a painting by some ingenious artist
with little charity in his heart for tired folk. The deception
was perfect. No one could have imagined the park was not
real. We even thought we smelled the flowers at first.

We got a carriage at twilight and drove in the shaded avenues
with the other nobility, and after dinner we took wine
and ices in a fine garden with the great public. The music
was excellent, the flowers and shrubbery were pleasant to the
eye, the scene was vivacious, every body was genteel and well-behaved,
and the ladies were slightly moustached, and handsomely
dressed, but very homely.

We adjourned to a café and played billiards an hour, and I
made six or seven points by the doctor pocketing his ball, and
he made as many by my pocketing my ball. We came near
making a carom sometimes, but not the one we were trying to
make. The table was of the usual European style—cushions
dead and twice as high as the balls; the cues in bad repair.
The natives play only a sort of pool on them. We have never
seen any body playing the French three-ball game yet, and I
doubt if there is any such game known in France, or that there
lives any man mad enough to try to play it on one of these
European tables. We had to stop playing, finally, because
Dan got to sleeping fifteen minutes between the counts and
paying no attention to his marking.

Afterward we walked up and down one of the most popular
streets for some time, enjoying other people's comfort and
wishing we could export some of it to our restless, driving,
vitality-consuming marts at home. Just in this one matter
lies the main charm of life in Europe—comfort. In America,
we hurry—which is well; but when the day's work is done,
we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow,
we even carry our business cares to bed with us, and toss and
worry over them when we ought to be restoring our racked
bodies and brains with sleep. We burn up our energies with
these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and
mean old age at a time of life which they call a man's prime
in Europe. When an acre of ground has produced long and


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well, we let it lie fallow and rest for a season; we take no man
clear across the continent in the same coach he started in—the
coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery
allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen
long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it
away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own
accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects,
but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation
of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves
on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!

I do envy these Europeans the comfort they take. When
the work of the day is done, they forget it. Some of them go,
with wife and children, to a beer hall, and sit quietly and genteelly
drinking a mug or two of ale and listening to music;
others walk the streets, others drive in the avenues; others
assemble in the great ornamental squares in the early evening
to enjoy the sight and the fragrance of flowers and to hear the
military bands play—no European city being without its fine
military music at eventide; and yet others of the populace sit
in the open air in front of the refreshment houses and eat ices
and drink mild beverages that could not harm a child. They
go to bed moderately early, and sleep well. They are always
quiet, always orderly, always cheerful, comfortable, and appreciative
of life and its manifold blessings. One never sees a
drunken man among them. The change that has come over
our little party is surprising. Day by day we lose some of our
restlessness and absorb some of the spirit of quietude and ease
that is in the tranquil atmosphere about us and in the demeanor
of the people. We grow wise apace. We begin to
comprehend what life is for.

We have had a bath in Milan, in a public bath-house. They
were going to put all three of us in one bath-tub, but we objected.
Each of us had an Italian farm on his back. We
could have felt affluent if we had been officially surveyed and
fenced in. We chose to have three bath-tubs, and large ones
—tubs suited to the dignity of aristocrats who had real estate,
and brought it with them. After we were stripped and had


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taken the first chilly dash, we discovered that haunting atrocity
that has embittered our lives in so many cities and villages of
Italy and France—there was no soap. I called. A woman
answered, and I barely had time to throw myself against the
door—she would have been in, in another second. I said:

“Beware, woman! Go away from here—go away, now, or
it will be the worse for you. I am an unprotected male, but I
will preserve my honor at the peril of my life!”

These words must have frightened her, for she skurried away
very fast.

Dan's voice rose on the air:

“Oh, bring some soap, why don't you!”

The reply was Italian. Dan resumed:

“Soap, you know—soap. That is what I want—soap.
S-o-a-p, soap; s-o-p-e, soap; s-o-u-p, soap. Hurry up! I don't
know how you Irish spell it, but I want it. Spell it to suit
yourself, but fetch it. I'm freezing.”

I heard the doctor say, impressively:

“Dan, how often have we told you that these foreigners can
not understand English? Why will you not depend upon us?
Why will you not tell us what you want, and let us ask for it
in the language of the country? It would save us a great deal
of the humiliation your reprehensible ignorance causes us. I
will address this person in his mother tongue: `Here, cospetto!
corpo di Bacco! Sacramento! Solferino!—Soap, you son of a
gun!' Dan, if you would let us talk for you, you would never
expose your ignorant vulgarity.”

Even this fluent discharge of Italian did not bring the soap
at once, but there was a good reason for it. There was not
such an article about the establishment. It is my belief that
there never had been. They had to send far up town, and to
several different places before they finally got it, so they said.
We had to wait twenty or thirty minutes. The same thing
had occurred the evening before, at the hotel. I think I have
divined the reason for this state of things at last. The English
know how to travel comfortably, and they carry soap with
them; other foreigners do not use the article.


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At every hotel we stop at we always have to send out for
soap, at the last moment, when we are grooming ourselves for
dinner, and they put it in the bill along with the candles and
other nonsense. In Marseilles they make half the fancy toilet
soap we consume in America, but the Marseillaise only have a
vague theoretical idea of its use, which they have obtained
from books of travel, just as they have acquired an uncertain
notion of clean shirts, and the peculiarities of the gorilla, and
other curious matters. This reminds me of poor Blucher's
note to the landlord in Paris:

Monsieur le Landlord—Sir: Pourquoi don't you Mettez some savon in your bed-chambers?
Est-ce que vous pensez I will steal it? La nuit passée you charged me
pour deux chandelles when I only had one; hier vous avez charged me avec glace
when I had none at all; tout les jours you are coming some fresh game or other on
me, mais vous ne pouvez pas play this savon dodge on me twice. Savon is a necessary
de la vie to any body but a Frenchman, et je l'aurai hors de cet hôtel or make
trouble. You hear me. Allons.


I remonstrated against the sending of this note, because it
was so mixed up that the landlord would never be able to
make head or tail of it; but Blucher said he guessed the old
man could read the French of it and average the rest.

Blucher's French is bad enough, but it is not much worse
than the English one finds in advertisements all over Italy
every day. For instance, observe the printed card of the hotel
we shall probably stop at on the shores of Lake Como:


“This hotel which the best it is in Italy and most superb,
is handsome locate on the best situation of the lake, with
the most splendid view near the Villas Melzy, to the King
of Belgian, and Serbelloni. This hotel have recently enlarge,
do offer all commodities on moderate price, at the
strangers gentlemen who whish spend the seasons on the
Lake Come.”

How is that, for a specimen? In the hotel is a handsome
little chapel where an English clergyman is employed to preach
to such of the guests of the house as hail from England and


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America, and this fact is also set forth in barbarous English in
the same advertisement. Wouldn't you have supposed that the
adventurous linguist who framed the card would have known
enough to submit it to that clergyman before he sent it to the

Here, in Milan, in an ancient tumble-down ruin of a church,
is the mournful wreck of the most celebrated painting in the
world—“The Last Supper,” by Leonardo da Vinci. We are
not infallible judges of pictures, but of course we went there
to see this wonderful painting, once so beautiful, always so worshipped
by masters in art, and forever to be famous in song
and story. And the first thing that occurred was the infliction
on us of a placard fairly reeking with wretched English. Take
a morsel of it:

“Bartholomew (that is the first figure on the left hand side at the spectator,) uncertain
and doubtful about what he thinks to have heard, and upon which he wants
to be assured by himself at Christ and by no others.”

Good, isn't it? And then Peter is described as “argumenting
in a threatening and angrily condition at Judas Iscariot.”

This paragraph recalls the picture. “The Last Supper” is
painted on the dilapidated wall of what was a little chapel
attached to the main church in ancient times, I suppose. It is
battered and scarred in every direction, and stained and discolored
by time, and Napoleon's horses kicked the legs off most
the disciples when they (the horses, not the disciples,) were stabled
there more than half a centary ago.

I recognized the old picture in a moment—the Saviour with
bowed head seated at the centre of a long, rough table with
scattering fruits and dishes upon it, and six disciples on either
side in their long robes, talking to each other—the picture from
which all engravings and all copies have been made for three
centuries. Perhaps no living man has ever known an attempt to
paint the Lord's Supper differently. The world seems to have
become settled in the belief, long ago, that it is not possible for
human genius to outdo this creation of Da Vinci's. I suppose
painters will go on copying it as long as any of the original is


Page 191
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 191. In-line Illustration. Image of many painters sitting in front of the painting "The Last Supper" copying it onto their own, smaller, canvases. The caption reads, "COPYING FROM OLD MASTERS."] left visible to the eye. There were a dozen easels in the room,
and as many artists transferring the great picture to their canvases.
Fifty proofs of steel engravings and lithographs were
scattered around, too. And as usual, I could not help noticing
how superior the copies were to the original, that is, to my inexperienced
eye. Wherever you find a Raphael, a Rubens, a
Michael Angelo, a Caracci, or a Da Vinci (and we see them
every day,) you find artists copying them, and the copies are
always the handsomest. May be the originals were handsome
when they were new, but they are not now.

This picture is about
thirty feet long, and ten
or twelve high, I should
think, and the figures are
at least life size. It is one of the largest paintings in Europe.

The colors are dimmed with age; the countenances are scaled


Page 192
and marred, and nearly all expression is gone from them;
the hair is a dead blur upon the wall, and there is no life in the
eyes. Only the attitudes are certain.

People come here from all parts of the world, and glorify
this masterpiece. They stand entranced before it with bated
breath and parted lips, and when they speak, it is only in the
catchy ejaculations of rapture:

“O, wonderful!”

“Such expression!”

“Such grace of attitude!”

“Such dignity!”

“Such faultless drawing!”

“Such matchless coloring!”

“Such feeling!”

“What delicacy of touch!”

“What sublimity of conception!”

“A vision! a vision!”

I only envy these people; I envy them their honest admiration,
if it be honest—their delight, if they feel delight. I
harbor no animosity toward any of them. But at the same
time the thought will intrude itself upon me, How can they
see what is not visible? What would you think of a man who
looked at some decayed, blind, toothless, pock-marked Cleopatra,
and said: “What matchless beauty! What soul! What
expression!” What would you think of a man who gazed
upon a dingy, foggy sunset, and said: “What sublimity! what
feeling! what richness of coloring!” What would you think
of a man who stared in ecstacy upon a desert of stumps and
said: “Oh, my soul, my beating heart, what a noble forest is

You would think that those men had an astonishing talent
for seeing things that had already passed away. It was what
I thought when I stood before the Last Supper and heard men
apostrophizing wonders, and beauties and perfections which had
faded out of the picture and gone, a hundred years before they
were born. We can imagine the beauty that was once in an
aged face; we can imagine the forest if we see the stumps;


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but we can not absolutely see these things when they are not
there. I am willing to believe that the eye of the practiced
artist can rest upon the Last Supper and renew a lustre where
only a hint of it is left, supply a tint that has faded away, restore
an expression that is gone; patch, and color, and add, to
the dull canvas until at last its figures shall stand before him
aglow with the life, the feeling, the freshness, yea, with all
the noble beauty that was theirs when first they came from the
hand of the master. But I can not work this miracle. Can
those other uninspired visitors do it, or do they only happily
imagine they do?

After reading so much about it, I am satisfied that the Last
Supper was a very miracle of art once. But it was three hundred
years ago.

It vexes me to hear people talk so glibly of “feeling,” “expression,”
“tone,” and those other easily acquired and inexpensive
technicalities of art that make such a fine show in
conversations concerning pictures. There is not one man in
seventy-five hundred that can tell what a pictured face is intended
to express. There is not one man in five hundred that
can go into a court-room and be sure that he will not mistake
some harmless innocent of a juryman for the black-hearted
assassin on trial. Yet such people talk of “character” and
presume to interpret “expression” in pictures. There is an
old story that Matthews, the actor, was once lauding the ability
of the human face to express the passions and emotions
hidden in the breast. He said the countenance could disclose
what was passing in the heart plainer than the tongue could.

“Now,” he said, “observe my face—what does it express?”


“Bah, it expresses peaceful resignation! What does this


“Stuff! it means terror! This!


“Fool! It is smothered ferocity! Now this!



Page 194

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 194. In-line Illustration. Image of four faces: one frowning, one open-mouthed, another frowning with lowered eyebrows, and one smiling. The caption reads, "FACIAL EXPRESSION." ]

“Oh, perdition! Any ass can see it means insanity!”

Expression! People coolly pretend to read it who would
think themselves presumptuous if they pretended to interpret
the hieroglyphics on the obelisks of Luxor—yet they are fully
as competent to do the one thing as the other. I have heard
two very intelligent critics speak of Murillo's Immaculate Conception
(now in the museum at Seville,) within the past few
days. One said:

“Oh, the Virgin's face is full of the ecstasy of a joy that is
complete—that leaves nothing more to be desired on earth!”

The other said:

“Ah, that wonderful face is so humble, so pleading—it says
as plainly as words could say it: `I fear; I tremble; I am
unworthy. But Thy will be done; sustain Thou Thy servant!'

The reader can see the picture in any drawing-room; it can
be easily recognized: the Virgin (the only young and really
beautiful Virgin that was ever painted by one of the old masters,
some of us think,) stands in the crescent of the new moon,
with a multitude of cherubs hovering about her, and more
coming; her hands are crossed upon her breast, and upon her
uplifted countenance falls a glory out of the heavens. The
reader may amuse himself, if he chooses, in trying to determine
which of these gentlemen read the Virgin's “expression”
aright, or if either of them did it.

Any one who is acquainted with the old masters will comprehend
how much the Last Supper is damaged when I say
that the spectator can not really tell, now, whether the disciples
are Hebrews or Italians. These ancient painters never


Page 195
succeeded in denationalizing themselves. The Italian artists
painted Italian Virgins, the Dutch painted Dutch Virgins, the
Virgins of the French painters were Frenchwomen—none of
them ever put into the face of the Madonna that indescribable
something which proclaims the Jewess, whether you find her
in New York, in Constantinople, in Paris, Jerusalem, or in the
Empire of Morocco. I saw in the Sandwich Islands, once, a
picture, copied by a talented German artist from an engraving
in one of the American illustrated papers. It was an allegory,
representing Mr. Davis in the act of signing a secession act or
some such document. Over him hovered the ghost of Washington
in warning attitude, and in the background a troop of
shadowy soldiers in Continental uniform were limping with
shoeless, bandaged feet through a driving snow-storm. Valley
Forge was suggested, of course. The copy seemed accurate,
and yet there was a discrepancy somewhere. After a long examination
I discovered what it was—the shadowy soldiers were
all Germans! Jeff. Davis was a German! even the hovering
ghost was a German ghost! The artist had unconsciously
worked his nationality into the picture. To tell the truth, I
am getting a little perplexed about John the Baptist and his
portraits. In France I finally grew reconciled to him as a
Frenchman; here he is unquestionably an Italian. What
next? Can it be possible that the painters make John the
Baptist a Spaniard in Madrid and an Irishman in Dublin?

We took an open barouche and drove two miles out of Milan
to “see ze echo,” as the guide expressed it. The road was
smooth, it was bordered by trees, fields, and grassy meadows,
and the soft air was filled with the odor of flowers. Troops
of picturesque peasant girls, coming from work, hooted at us,
shouted at us, made all manner of game of us, and entirely
delighted me. My long-cherished judgment was confirmed.
I always did think those frowsy, romantic, unwashed peasant
girls I had read so much about in poetry were a glaring fraud.

We enjoyed our jaunt. It was an exhilarating relief from
tiresome sight-seeing.

We distressed ourselves very little about the astonishing


Page 196
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 196. In-line Illustration. Image of a girl with a trumpet to her mouth shouting out a window. Two men are watching. The caption reads, "THE ECHO."] echo the guide talked so much about. We were growing
accustomed to encomiums on wonders that too often proved no
wonders at all. And so we were most happily disappointed to
find in the sequel that the guide had even failed to rise to the
magnitude of his subject.

We arrived at a tumble-down old rookery called the Palazzo
Simonetti—a massive hewn-stone affair occupied by a family
of ragged Italians. A good-looking young girl conducted us
to a window on the second floor which looked out on a court
walled on three sides by tall buildings. She put her head out
at the window and shouted. The echo answered more times
than we could count. She took a speaking trumpet and
through it she shouted, sharp and quick, a single

“Ha!” The echo answered:

“Ha!———ha!——ha!—ha!—ha!-ha! ha! h-a-a-a-a-a!”


Page 197
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 197. In-line Illustration. Image of an open journal. On the left hand page is a number of dots. On the right hand page is written, "Picture by Titian in the Cathedral subject forgotten size of a slate - Priest said History of it was very curious It was painted in the dark-" and the rest is not legible. The caption reads, "FIFTY-TWO DISTINCT REPETITIONS."] and finally went off into a rollicking convulsion of the jolliest
laughter that could be imagined. It was so joyful—so long
continued—so perfectly cordial and hearty, that every body
was forced to join in. There was no resisting it.

Then the girl took a gun and fired it. We stood ready to
count the astonishing clatter of reverberations. We could not
say one, two, three, fast enough, but we could dot our notebooks
with our pencil points almost rapidly enough to take
down a sort of short-hand report of the result. My page revealed
the following account. I could not keep up, but I did
as well as I could:

I set down fifty-two distinct repetitions, and then the echo
got the advantage of me. The doctor set down sixty-four, and
thenceforth the echo moved too fast for him, also. After the
separate concussions could no longer be noted, the reverberations
dwindled to a wild, long-sustained clatter of sounds such
as a watchman's rattle produces. It is likely that this is the
most remarkable echo in the world.


Page 198

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 198. In-line Illustration. Image of a man and woman kissing. The caption reads, "A KISS FOR A FRANC."]

The doctor, in jest, offered to kiss the young girl, and was
taken a little aback when
she said he might for a frane!
The commonest gallantry
compelled him to stand by
his offer, and so he paid the
franc and took the kiss. She
was a philosopher. She said
a franc was a good thing to
have, and she did not care
any thing for one paltry
kiss, because she had a
million left. Then our
comrade, always a shrewd
business man, offered to
take the whole cargo at
thirty days, but that little
financial scheme was a failure.