University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
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






[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. [Page 207]. In-line Illustration. Image of a rustic carriage driver chatting to the four men in his carriage. The caption reads, "SOCIAL DRIVER."]

We voyaged by steamer down the Lago di Lecco, through
wild mountain scenery, and by hamlets and villas,
and disembarked at the town of Lecco. They said it was two
hours, by carriage to the ancient city of Bergamo, and that we
would arrive there in good season for the railway train. We
got an open barouche and a wild, boisterous driver, and set
out. It was delightful. We had a fast team and a perfectly
smooth road. There were towering cliffs on our left, and the
pretty Lago di Lecco on our right, and every now and then it
rained on us. Just before starting, the driver picked up, in
the street, a stump of a cigar an inch long, and put it in his
mouth. When he had carried it thus about an hour, I thought
it would be only Christian charity to give him a light. I
handed him my cigar,
which I had just
lit, and he put it in
his mouth and returned
his stump to
his pocket! I never
saw a more sociable
man. At least I
never saw a man
who was more sociable
on a short acquaintance.

We saw interior
Italy, now. The houses were of solid stone, and not often in
good repair. The peasants and their children were idle, as


Page 208
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 208. In-line Illustration. Image of a woman kneeling in front of a small shrine by the side of the road. The shrine consists of a waist-high pedastal with a cross atop it. The caption reads, "WAYSIDE SHRINE."] a general thing, and the donkeys and chickens made themselves
at home in drawing-room and bed-chamber and were
not molested. The drivers of each and every one of the
slow-moving market-carts we met were stretched in the sun
upon their merchandise, sound asleep. Every three or four
hundred yards, it seemed to me, we came upon the shrine of
some saint or other—a rude picture of him built into a huge
cross or a stone pillar by the road-side.—Some of the pictures
of the Saviour were curiosities in their way. They
represented him stretched
upon the cross, his
countenance distorted
with agony. From the
wounds of the crown
of thorns; from the pierced
side; from the mutilated
hands and feet;
from the scourged body
—from every hand-breadth
of his person
streams of blood were
flowing! Such a gory,
ghastly spectacle would
frighten the children out
of their senses, I should
think. There were some
unique auxiliaries to the
painting which added
to its spirited effect.
These were genuine
wooden and iron implements,
and were prominently disposed round about the figure:
a bundle of nails; the hammer to drive them; the sponge;
the reed that supported it; the cup of vinegar; the ladder
for the ascent of the cross; the spear that pierced the Saviour's
side. The crown of thorns was made of real thorns, and was
nailed to the sacred head. In some Italian church-paintings,


Page 209
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 209. In-line Illustration. Image of a man napping against a wall. He is wearking a working man's apron and there are tools scattered around him. In the background a sheep or deer is gamboling in the street. The caption reads, "PEACE AND HAPPINESS."] even by the old masters, the Saviour and the Virgin wear silver
or gilded crowns that are fastened to the pictured head with
nails. The effect is as grotesque as it is incongruous.

Here and there, on the fronts of roadside inns, we found
huge, coarse frescoes of suffering martyrs like those in the
shrines. It could not have diminished their sufferings any to
be so uncouthly represented. We were in the heart and
home of priestcraft—of a happy, cheerful, contented ignorance,
superstition, degradation, poverty, indolence, and everlasting
unaspiring worthlessness. And we said fervently, It suits
these people precisely; let them enjoy it, along with the other
animals, and Heaven forbid that they be molested. We feel
no malice toward these fumigators.

We passed through the strangest, funniest, undreampt-of
old towns, wedded to the customs and steeped in the dreams
of the elder ages, and perfectly unaware that the world turns
round! And perfectly indifferent, too, as to whether it turns
around or stands still. They have nothing to do but eat and
sleep and sleep and eat, and toil a little when they can get a
friend to stand by and keep them awake. They are not paid
for thinking—they are not paid to fret about the world's concerns.
They were
not respectable people—they
were not
worthy people—
they were not learned
and wise and
brilliant people—
but in their breasts,
all their stupid lives
long, resteth a peace
that passeth understanding!
How can
men, calling themselves
men, consent to be so degraded and happy.

We whisked by many a gray old medieval castle, clad thick
with ivy that swung its green banners down from towers and turrets


Page 210
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 210. In-line Illustration. Image of a castle on top of a rocky hill above a river. The caption reads, "CASTLE OF COUNT LUIGI."] where once some old Crusader's flag had floated. The driver
pointed to one of these ancient fortresses, and said, (I translate):

“Do you see that great iron hook that projects from the
wall just under the highest window in the ruined tower?”

We said we could not see it at such a distance, but had no
doubt it was there.

“Well,” he said, “there is a legend connected with that
iron hook. Nearly seven hundred years ago, that castle was
the property of the noble Count Luigi Gennaro Guido Alphonso
di Genova—”

“What was his other name?” said Dan.


Page 211

“He had no other name. The name I have spoken was all
the name he had. He was the son of—”

“Poor but honest parents—that is all right—never mind the
particulars—go on with the legend.”


Well, then, all the world, at that time, was in a wild excitement
about the Holy Sepulchre. All the great feudal lords in
Europe were pledging their lands and pawning their plate to
fit out men-at-arms so that they might join the grand armies
of Christendom and win renown in the Holy Wars. The
Count Luigi raised money, like the rest, and one mild September
morning, armed with battle-ax, portcullis and thundering
culverin, he rode through the greaves and bucklers of his
donjon-keep with as gallant a troop of Christian bandits as ever
stepped in Italy. He had his sword, Excalibur, with him.
His beautiful countess and her young daughter waved him a
tearful adieu from the battering-rams and buttresses of the
fortress, and he galloped away with a happy heart.

He made a raid on a neighboring baron and completed his
outfit with the booty secured. He then razed the castle to the
ground, massacred the family and moved on. They were
hardy fellows in the grand old days of chivalry. Alas! those
days will never come again.

Count Luigi grew high in fame in Holy Land. He plunged
into the carnage of a hundred battles, but his good Excalibur
always brought him out alive, albeit often sorely wounded.
His face became browned by exposure to the Syrian sun in
long marches; he suffered hunger and thirst; he pined in
prisons, he languished in loathsome plague-hospitals. And
many and many a time he thought of his loved ones at home,
and wondered if all was well with them. But his heart said,
Peace, is not thy brother watching over thy household?

Forty-two years waxed and waned; the good fight was won;
Godfrey reigned in Jerusalem—the Christian hosts reared the
banner of the cross above the Holy Sepulchre!


Page 212

Twilight was approaching. Fifty harlequins, in flowing
robes, approached this castle wearily, for they were on foot,
and the dust upon their garments betokened that they had
traveled far. They overtook a peasant, and asked him if it
were likely they could get food and a hospitable bed there, for
love of Christian charity, and if perchance, a moral parlor
entertainment might meet with generous countenance—“for,”
said they, “this exhibition hath no feature that could offend
the most fastidious taste.”

“Marry,” quoth the peasant, “an' it please your worships,
ye had better journey many a good rood hence with your
juggling circus than trust your bones in yonder castle.”

“How now, sirrah!” exclaimed the chief monk, “explain
thy ribald speech, or by'r Lady it shall go hard with thee.”

“Peace, good mountebank, I did but utter the truth that
was in my heart. San Paolo be my witness that did ye but find
the stout Count Leonardo in his cups, sheer from the castle's
topmost battlements would he hurl ye all! Alack-a-day, the
good Lord Luigi reigns not here in these sad times.”

“The good Lord Luigi?”

“Aye, none other, please your worship. In his day, the
poor rejoiced in plenty and the rich he did oppress; taxes were
not known, the fathers of the church waxed fat upon his
bounty; travelers went and came, with none to interfere; and
whosoever would, might tarry in his halls in cordial welcome,
and eat his bread and drink his wine, withal. But woe is
me! some two and forty years agone the good count rode
hence to fight for Holy Cross, and many a year hath flown
since word or token have we had of him. Men say his bones
lie bleaching in the fields of Palestine.”

“And now?”

Now! God 'a mercy, the cruel Leonardo lords it in the
castle. He wrings taxes from the poor; he robs all travelers
that journey by his gates; he spends his days in feuds and
murders, and his nights in revel and debauch; he roasts the
fathers of the church upon his kitchen spits, and enjoyeth the
same, calling it pastime. These thirty years Luigi's countess


Page 213
hath not been seen by any he in all this land, and many whisper
that she pines in the dungeons of the castle for that she will
not wed with Leonardo, saying her dear lord still liveth and
that she will die ere she prove false to him. They whisper
likewise that her daughter is a prisoner as well. Nay, good
jugglers, seek ye refreshment other wheres. 'Twere better
that ye perished in a Christian way than that ye plunged from
off you dizzy tower. Give ye good-day.”

“God keep ye, gentle knave—farewell.”

But heedless of the peasant's warning, the players moved
straightway toward the castle.

Word was brought to Count Leonardo that a company of
mountebanks besought his hospitality.

“'Tis well. Dispose of them in the customary manner.
Yet stay! I have need of them. Let them come hither.
Later, cast them from the battlements—or—how many priests
have ye on hand?”

“The day's results are meagre, good my lord. An abbot
and a dozen beggarly friars is all we have.”

“Hell and furies! Is the estate going to seed? Send hither
the mountebanks. Afterward, broil them with the priests.”

The robed and close-cowled harlequins entered. The grim
Leonardo sate in state at the head of his council board.
Ranged up and down the hall on either hand stood near a
hundred men-at-arms.

“Ha, villains!” quoth the count, “What can ye do to earn
the hospitality ye crave.”

“Dread lord and mighty, crowded audiences have greeted
our humble efforts with rapturous applause. Among our
body count we the versatile and talented Ugolino; the justly
celebrated Rodolpho; the gifted and accomplished Roderigo;
the management have spared neither pains nor expense—”

“S'death! what can ye do? Curb thy prating tongue.”

“Good my lord, in acrobatic feats, in practice with the
dumb-bells, in balancing and ground and lofty tumbling are
we versed—and sith your highness asketh me, I venture here
to publish that in the truly marvelous and entertaining Zampillaerostation—”


Page 214

“Gag him! throttle him! Body of Bacchus! am I a dog
that I am to be assailed with polysyllabled blasphemy like to
this? But hold! Lucretia, Isabel, stand forth! Sirrah, behold
this dame, this weeping wench. The first I marry, within the
hour; the other shall dry her tears or feed the vultures.
Thou and thy vagabonds shall crown the wedding with thy
merry-makings. Fetch hither the priest!”

The dame sprang toward the chief player.

“O, save me!” she cried; “save me from a fate far worse
than death! Behold these sad eyes, these sunken cheeks,
this withered frame! See thou the wreck this fiend hath
made, and let thy heart be moved with pity! Look upon this
damosel; note her wasted form, her halting step, her bloomless
cheeks where youth should blush and happiness exult in
smiles! Hear us and have compassion. This monster was
my husband's brother. He who should have been our shield
against all harm, hath kept us shut within the noisome caverns
of his donjon-keep for lo these thirty years. And for what
crime? None other than that I would not belie my troth,
root out my strong love for him who marches with the legions
of the cross in Holy Land, (for O, he is not dead!) and wed
with him! Save us, O, save thy persecuted suppliants!”

She flung herself at his feet and clasped his knees.

“Ha!-ha!-ha!” shouted the brutal Leonardo. “Priest, to
thy work!” and he dragged the weeping dame from her
refuge. “Say, once for all, will you be mine?—for by my
halidome, that breath that uttereth thy refusal shall be thy last
on earth!”


“Then die!” and the sword leaped from its scabbard.

Quicker than thought, quicker than the lightning's flash,
fifty monkish habits disappeared, and fifty knights in splendid
armor stood revealed! fifty falchions gleamed in air above the
men-at-arms, and brighter, fiercer than them all, flamed Excalibur
aloft, and cleaving downward struck the brutal Leonardo's
weapon from his grasp!

“A Luigi to the rescue! Whoop!”


Page 215

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 215. In-line Illustration. Image of a man hanging from a hook which is impaled under his chin. Black birds are circling in the sky. The caption reads, "WICKED BROTHER."]

“A Leonardo! tare an ouns!”

“Oh, God, Oh, God, my husband!”

“Oh, God, Oh, God, my wife!”

“My father!”

“My precious!” [Tableau.]

Count Luigi bound his usurping brother hand and foot.
The practiced knights from
Palestine made holyday sport
of carving the awkward men-at-arms
into chops and steaks.
The victory was complete.
Happiness reigned. The
knights all married the daughter.
Joy! wassail! finis!

“But what did they do with
the wicked brother?”

“Oh nothing—only hanged
him on that iron hook I was
speaking of. By the chin.”

“As how?”

“Passed it up through his
gills into his mouth.”

“Leave him there?”

“Couple of years.”

“Ah—is—is he dead?”

“Six hundred and fifty years ago, or such a matter.”

“Splendid legend—splendid lie—drive on.”

We reached the quaint old fortified city of Bergamo, the
renowned in history, some three-quarters of an hour before the
train was ready to start. The place has thirty or forty thousand
inhabitants and is remarkable for being the birthplace
of harlequin. When we discovered that, that legend of our
driver took to itself a new interest in our eyes.

Rested and refreshed, we took the rail happy and contented.
I shall not tarry to speak of the handsome Lago di Gardi;
its stately castle that holds in its stony bosom the secrets of
an age so remote that even tradition goeth not back to it;


Page 216
the imposing mountain scenery that ennobles the landscape
thereabouts; nor yet of ancient Padua or haughty Verona;
nor of their Montagues and Capulets, their famous balconies
and tombs of Juliet and Romeo et al., but hurry straight
to the ancient city of the sea, the widowed bride of the
Adriatic. It was a long, long ride. But toward evening, as
we sat silent and hardly conscious of where we were—subdued
into that meditative calm that comes so surely after a
conversational storm—some one shouted—


And sure enough, afloat on the placid sea a league away,
lay a great city, with its towers and domes and steeples drowsing
in a golden mist of sunset.