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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






THE last twenty-four hours we staid in Damascus I lay
prostrate with a violent attack of cholera, or cholera
morbus, and therefore had a good chance and a good excuse to
lie there on that wide divan and take an honest rest. I had
nothing to do but listen to the pattering of the fountains and
take medicine and throw it up again. It was dangerous recreation,
but it was pleasanter than traveling in Syria. I had
plenty of snow from Mount Hermon, and as it would not stay
on my stomach, there was nothing to interfere with my eating
it—there was always room for more. I enjoyed myself very
well. Syrian travel has its interesting features, like travel in
any other part of the world, and yet to break your leg or have
the cholera adds a welcome variety to it.

We left Damascus at noon and rode across the plain a
couple of hours, and then the party stopped a while in the
shade of some fig-trees to give me a chance to rest. It was
the hottest day we had seen yet—the sun-flames shot down
like the shafts of fire that stream out before a blow-pipe; the
rays seemed to fall in a steady deluge on the head and pass
downward like rain from a roof. I imagined I could distinguish
between the floods of rays—I thought I could tell when
each flood struck my head, when it reached my shoulders, and
when the next one came. It was terrible. All the desert
glared so fiercely that my eyes were swimming in tears all the
time. The boys had white umbrellas heavily lined with dark
green. They were a priceless blessing. I thanked fortune
that I had one, too, notwithstanding it was packed up with


Page 466
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 466. In-line Illustration. Image of a man in sunglasses, a hat with a long scarf for a hatband, and a coat and tie. He is carrying an umbrella and riding a horse. The caption reads, "FULL-DRESSED TOURIST." ] the baggage and was ten miles ahead. It is madness to travel
in Syria without an umbrella. They told me in Beirout (these
people who always gorge you with advice) that it was madness
to travel in Syria without an umbrella. It was on this account
that I got one.

But, honestly, I think an umbrella is a nuisance any where
when its business is to keep the sun off. No Arab wears a
brim to his fez, or uses an umbrella, or any thing to shade his
eyes or his face, and he always looks comfortable and proper
in the sun. But of all the ridiculous sights I ever have seen,
our party of eight
is the most so—
they do cut such an
outlandish figure.
They travel single
file; they all wear
the endless white
rag of Constantinople
wrapped round
and round their
hats and dangling
down their backs;
they all wear thick
green spectacles,
with side-glasses to
them; they all hold
white umbrellas,
lined with green,
over their heads;
without exception
their stirrups are
too short—they are
the very worst gang
of horsemen on
earth; their animals to a horse trot fearfully hard—and when
they get strung out one after the other; glaring straight ahead
and breathless; bouncing high and out of turn, all along the


Page 467
line; knees well up and stiff, elbows flapping like a rooster's
that is going to crow, and the long file of umbrellas popping
convulsively up and down—when one sees this outrageous picture
exposed to the light of day, he is amazed that the gods
don't get out their thunderbolts and destroy them off the face
of the earth! I do—I wonder at it. I wouldn't let any such
caravan go through a country of mine.

And when the sun drops below the horizon and the boys
close their umbrellas and put them under their arms, it is only
a variation of the picture, not a modification of its absurdity.

But may be you can not see the wild extravagance of my
panorama. You could if you were here. Here, you feel all
the time just as if you were living about the year 1200 before
Christ—or back to the patriarchs—or forward to the New Era.
The scenery of the Bible is about you—the customs of the patriarchs
are around you—the same people, in the same flowing
robes, and in sandals, cross your path—the same long trains
of stately camels go and come—the same impressive religious
solemnity and silence rest upon the desert and the mountains
that were upon them in the remote ages of antiquity, and behold,
intruding upon a scene like this, comes this fantastic
mob of green-spectacled Yanks, with their flapping elbows and
bobbing umbrellas! It is Daniel in the lion's den with a green
cotton umbrella under his arm, all over again.

My umbrella is with the baggage, and so are my green spectacles—and
there they shall stay. I will not use them. I
will show some respect for the eternal fitness of things. It
will be bad enough to get sun-struck, without looking ridiculous
into the bargain. If I fall, let me fall bearing about me
the semblance of a Christian, at least.

Three or four hours out from Damascus we passed the spot
where Saul was so abruptly converted, and from this place we
looked back over the scorching desert, and had our last glimpse
of beautiful Damascus, decked in its robes of shining green.
After nightfall we reached our tents, just outside of the nasty
Arab village of Jonesborough. Of course the real name of the
place is El something or other, but the boys still refuse to


Page 468
recognize the Arab names or try to pronounce them. When
I say that that village is of the usual style, I mean to insinuate
that all Syrian villages within fifty miles of Damascus are
alike—so much alike that it would require more than human
intelligence to tell wherein one differed from another. A Syrian
village is a hive of huts one story high (the height of a
man,) and as square as a dry-goods box; it is mud-plastered
all over, flat roof and all, and generally whitewashed after a
fashion. The same roof often extends over half the town, covering
many of the streets, which are generally about a yard
wide. When you ride through one of these villages at noonday,
you first meet a melancholy dog, that looks up at you and
silently begs that you won't run over him, but he does not
offer to get out of the way; next you meet a young boy without
any clothes on, and he holds out his hand and says “Bucksheesh!”—he
don't really expect a cent, but then he learned to
say that before he learned to say mother, and now he can not
break himself of it; next you meet a woman with a black veil
drawn closely over her face, and her bust exposed; finally, you
come to several sore-eyed children and children in all stages of
mutilation and decay; and sitting humbly in the dust, and all
fringed with filthy rags, is a poor devil whose arms and legs
are gnarled and twisted like grape-vines. These are all the
people you are likely to see. The balance of the population
are asleep within doors, or abroad tending goats in the plains
and on the hill-sides. The village is built on some consumptive
little water-course, and about it is a little fresh-looking vegetation.
Beyond this charmed circle, for miles on every side,
stretches a weary desert of sand and gravel, which produces a
gray bunchy shrub like sage-brush. A Syrian village is the
sorriest sight in the world, and its surroundings are emjnently
in keeping with it.

I would not have gone into this dissertation upon Syrian
villages but for the fact that Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter of
Scriptural notoriety, is buried in Jonesborough, and I wished
the public to know about how he is located. Like Homer, he
is said to be buried in many other places, but this is the only
true and genuine place his ashes inhabit.


Page 469

When the original tribes were dispersed, more than four
thousand years ago, Nimrod and a large party traveled three
or four hundred miles, and settled where the great city of
Babylon afterwards stood. Nimrod built that city. He also
began to build the famous Tower of Babel, but circumstances
over which he had no control put it out of his power to finish
it. He ran it up eight stories high, however, and two of them
still stand, at this day—a colossal mass of brickwork, rent
down the centre by earthquakes, and seared and vitrified by
the lightnings of an angry God. But the vast ruin will still
stand for ages, to shame the puny labors of these modern generations
of men. Its huge compartments are tenanted by owls
and lions, and old Nimrod lies neglected in this wretched village,
far from the scene of his grand enterprise.

We left Jonesborough very early in the morning, and rode
forever and forever and forever, it seemed to me, over parched
deserts and rocky hills, hungry, and with no water to drink.
We had drained the goat-skins dry in a little while. At noon
we halted before the wretched Arab town of El Yuba Dam,
perched on the side of a mountain, but the dragoman said if
we applied there for water we would be attacked by the whole
tribe, for they did not love Christians. We had to journey on.
Two hours later we reached the foot of a tall isolated mountain,
which is crowned by the crumbling castle of Banias, the
stateliest ruin of that kind on earth, no doubt. It is a thousand
feet long and two hundred wide, all of the most symmetrical,
and at the same time the most ponderous masonry. The
massive towers and bastions are more than thirty feet high,
and have been sixty. From the mountain's peak its broken
turrets rise above the groves of ancient oaks and olives, and
look wonderfully picturesque. It is of such high antiquity
that no man knows who built it or when it was built. It is utterly
inaccessible, except in one place, where a bridle-path
winds upward among the solid rocks to the old portcullis.
The horses' hoofs have bored holes in these rocks to the depth
of six inches during the hundreds and hundreds of years that
the castle was garrisoned. We wandered for three hours


Page 470
among the chambers and crypts and dungeons of the fortress,
and trod where the mailed heels of many a knightly Crusader
had rang, and where Phenician heroes had walked ages before

We wondered how such a solid mass of masonry could be
affected even by an earthquake, and could not understand
what agency had made Banias a ruin; but we found the destroyer,
after a while, and then our wonder was increased tenfold.
Seeds had fallen in crevices in the vast walls; the seeds
had sprouted; the tender, insignificant sprouts had hardened;
they grew larger and larger, and by a steady, imperceptible
pressure forced the great stones apart, and now are bringing
sure destruction upon a giant work that has even mocked the
earthquakes to scorn! Gnarled and twisted trees spring from
the old walls every where, and beautify and overshadow the
gray battlements with a wild luxuriance of foliage.

From these old towers we looked down upon a broad, far-reaching
green plain, glittering with the pools and rivulets
which are the sources of the sacred river Jordan. It was a
grateful vision, after so much desert.

And as the evening drew near, we clambered down the
mountain, through groves of the Biblical oaks of Bashan, (for
we were just stepping over the border and entering the long-sought
Holy Land,) and at its extreme foot, toward the wide
valley, we entered this little execrable village of Banias and
camped in a great grove of olive trees near a torrent of sparkling
water whose banks are arrayed in fig-trees, pomegranates
and oleanders in full leaf. Barring the proximity of the village,
it is a sort of paradise.

The very first thing one feels like doing when he gets into
camp, all burning up and dusty, is to hunt up a bath. We
followed the stream up to where it gushes out of the mountain
side, three hundred yards from the tents, and took a bath that
was so icy that if I did not know this was the main source of
the sacred river, I would expect harm to come of it. It was
bathing at noonday in the chilly source of the Abana, “River
of Damaseus,” that gave me the cholera, so Dr. B. said. However,
it generally does give me the cholera to take a bath.


Page 471

The incorrigible pilgrims have come in with their pockets
full of specimens broken from the ruins. I wish this vandalism
could be stopped. They broke off fragments from Noah's
tomb; from the exquisite sculptures of the temples of Baalbec;
from the houses of Judas and Ananias, in Damascus; from
the tomb of Nimrod the Mighty Hunter in Jonesborough;
from the worn Greek and Roman inscriptions set in the hoary
walls of the Castle of Banias; and now they have been hacking
and chipping these old arches here that Jesus looked upon
in the flesh. Heaven protect the Sepulchre when this tribe
invades Jerusalem!

The ruins here are not very interesting. There are the
massive walls of a great square building that was once the citadel;
there are many ponderous old arches that are so smothered
with debris that they barely project above the ground;
there are heavy-walled sewers through which the crystal brook
of which Jordan is born still runs; in the hill-side are the substructions
of a costly marble temple that Herod the Great
built here—patches of its handsome mosaic floors still remain;
there is a quaint old stone bridge that was here before Herod's
time, may be; scattered every where, in the paths and in the
woods, are Corinthian capitals, broken porphyry pillars, and
little fragments of sculpture; and up yonder in the precipice
where the fountain gushes out, are well-worn Greek inscriptions
over niches in the rock where in ancient times the Greeks,
and after them the Romans, worshipped the sylvan god Pan.
But trees and bushes grow above many of these ruins now;
the miserable huts of a little crew of filthy Arabs are perched
upon the broken masonry of antiquity, the whole place has a
sleepy, stupid, rural look about it, and one can hardly bring
himself to believe that a busy, substantially built city once existed
here, even two thousand years ago. The place was nevertheless
the scene of an event whose effects have added page
after page and volume after volume to the world's history.
For in this place Christ stood when he said to Peter:

“Thou art Peter; and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of
hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom


Page 472
of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

On those little sentences have been built up the mighty edifice
of the Church of Rome; in them lie the authority for the
imperial power of the Popes over temporal affairs, and their
godlike power to curse a soul or wash it white from sin. To
sustain the position of “the only true Church,” which Rome
claims was thus conferred upon her, she has fought and labored
and struggled for many a century, and will continue to keep
herself busy in the same work to the end of time. The memorable
words I have quoted give to this ruined city about all
the interest it possesses to people of the present day.

It seems curious enough to us to be standing on ground that
was once actually pressed by the feet of the Saviour. The
situation is suggestive of a reality and a tangibility that seem
at variance with the vagueness and mystery and ghostliness
that one naturally attaches to the character of a god. I can
not comprehend yet that I am sitting where a god has stood,
and looking upon the brook and the mountains which that god
looked upon, and am surrounded by dusky men and women
whose ancestors saw him, and even talked with him, face to
face, and carelessly, just as they would have done with any
other stranger. I can not comprehend this; the gods of my
understanding have been always hidden in clouds and very far

This morning, during breakfast, the usual assemblage of
squalid humanity sat patiently without the charmed circle of
the camp and waited for such crumbs as pity might bestow
upon their misery. There were old and young, brown-skinned
and yellow. Some of the men were tall and stalwart, (for one
hardly sees any where such splendid-looking men as here in the
East,) but all the women and children looked worn and sad,
and distressed with hunger. They reminded me much of Indians,
did these people. They had but little clothing, but such
as they had was fanciful in character and fantastic in its arrangement.
Any little absurd gewgaw or gimcrack they had
they disposed in such a way as to make it attract attention


Page 473
most readily. They sat in silence, and with tireless patience
watched our every motion with that vile, uncomplaining impoliteness
which is so truly Indian, and which makes a white
man so nervous and uncomfortable and savage that he wants
to exterminate the whole tribe.

These people about us had other peculiarities, which I have
noticed in the noble red man, too: they were infested with
vermin, and the dirt had caked on them till it amounted to

The little children were in a pitiable condition—they all had
sore eyes, and were otherwise afflicted in various ways. They
say that hardly a native child in all the East is free from sore
eyes, and that thousands of them go blind of one eye or both
every year. I think this must be so, for I see plenty of blind
people every day, and I do not remember seeing any children
that hadn't sore eyes. And, would you suppose that an American
mother could sit for an hour, with her child in her arms,
and let a hundred flies roost upon its eyes all that time undisturbed?
I see that every day. It makes my flesh creep.
Yesterday we met a woman riding on a little jackass, and she
had a little child in her arms; honestly, I thought the child
had goggles on as we approached, and I wondered how its
mother could afford so much style. But when we drew near,
we saw that the goggles were nothing but a camp meeting of
flies assembled around each of the child's eyes, and at the
same time there was a detachment prospecting its nose. The
flies were happy, the child was contented, and so the mother
did not interfere.

As soon as the tribe found out that we had a doctor in our
party, they began to flock in from all quarters. Dr. B., in the
charity of his nature, had taken a child from a woman who
sat near by, and put some sort of a wash upon its diseased
eyes. That woman went off and started the whole nation, and
it was a sight to see them swarm! The lame, the halt, the
blind, the leprous—all the distempers that are bred of indolence,
dirt, and iniquity—were represented in the Congress in
ten minutes, and still they came! Every woman that had a


Page 474
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 474. In-line Illustration. Image of a man in a suit and top hat surrounded by women and children dressed in long robes and sandals. The caption reads, "IMPROMPTU HOSPITAL."] sick baby brought it along, and every woman that hadn't, borrowed
one. What reverent and what worshiping looks they
bent upon that dread, mysterious power, the Doctor! They
watched him take his phials out; they watched him measure
the particles of white powder; they watched him add drops
of one precious liquid, and drops of another; they lost not the
slightest movement; their eyes were riveted upon him with a
fascination that nothing could distract. I believe they thought
he was gifted like a god. When each individual got his portion
of medicine, his eyes were radiant with joy—notwithstanding
by nature they are a thankless and impassive race—
and upon his face was written the unquestioning faith that
nothing on earth could prevent the patient from getting well

Christ knew how to preach to these simple, superstitious,
disease-tortured creatures: He healed the sick. They flocked
to our poor human doctor this morning when the fame of what
he had done to the sick child went abroad in the land, and
they worshiped him with their eyes while they did not know


Page 475
as yet whether there was virtue in his simples or not. The
ancestors of these—people precisely like them in color, dress,
manners, customs, simplicity—flocked in vast multitudes after
Christ, and when they saw Him make the afflicted whole with
a word, it is no wonder they worshiped Him. No wonder
His deeds were the talk of the nation. No wonder the multitude
that followed Him was so great that at one time—thirty
miles from here—they had to let a sick man down through the
roof because no approach could be made to the door; no wonder
His audiences were so great at Galilee that He had to
preach from a ship removed a little distance from the shore;
no wonder that even in the desert places about Bethsaida, five
thousand invaded His solitude, and He had to feed them by a
miracle or else see them suffer for their confiding faith and devotion;
no wonder when there was a great commotion in a
city in those days, one neighbor explained it to another in
words to this effect: “They say that Jesus of Nazareth is

Well, as I was saying, the doctor distributed medicine as
long as he had any to distribute, and his reputation is mighty
in Galilee this day. Among his patients was the child of the
Shiek's daughter—for even this poor, ragged handful of sores
and sin has its royal Shiek—a poor old mummy that looked as
if he would be more at home in a poor-house than in the Chief
Magistracy of this tribe of hopeless, shirtless savages. The
princess—I mean the Shiek's daughter—was only thirteen or
fourteen years old, and had a very sweet face and a pretty one.
She was the only Syrian female we have seen yet who was not
so sinfully ugly that she couldn't smile after ten o'clock Saturday
night without breaking the Sabbath. Her child was a
hard specimen, though—there wasn't enough of it to make a
pie, and the poor little thing looked so pleadingly up at all
who came near it (as if it had an idea that now was its chance
or never,) that we were filled with compassion which was gennine
and not put on.

But this last new horse I have got is trying to break his
neck over the tent-ropes, and I shall have to go out and anchor


Page 476
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 476. In-line Illustration. Image of an emaciated, sick looking horse. The caption reads, "THE HORSE 'BAALBEC.'"] him. Jericho and I have parted company. The new horse is
not much to boast of, I think. One of his hind legs bends the
wrong way, and the other one is as straight and stiff as a tentpole.
of his teeth
are gone,
and he is as
blind as a
bat. His
nose has
been broken
at some time
or other, and
is arched
like a culvert
His under
lip hangs
down like a camel's, and his ears are chopped off close to his
head. I had some trouble at first to find a name for him, but
I finally concluded to call him Baalbec, because he is such a
magnificent ruin. I can not keep from talking about my
horses, because I have a very long and tedious journey before
me, and they naturally occupy my thoughts about as much as
matters of apparently much greater importance.

We satisfied our pilgrims by making those hard rides from
Baalbec to Damascus, but Dan's horse and Jack's were so crippled
we had to leave them behind and get fresh animals for
them. The dragoman says Jack's horse died. I swapped
horses with Mohammed, the kingly-looking Egyptian who is
our Ferguson's lieutenant. By Ferguson I mean our dragoman
Abraham, of course. I did not take this horse on account of
his personal appearance, but because I have not seen his back.
I do not wish to see it. I have seen the backs of all the other
horses, and found most of them covered with dreadful saddleboils
which I know have not been washed or doctored for
years. The idea of riding all day long over such ghastly inquisitions


Page 477
of torture is sickening. My horse must be like the
others, but I have at least the consolation of not knowing it
to be so.

I hope that in future I may be spared any more sentimental
praises of the Arab's idolatry of his horse. In boyhood I
longed to be an Arab of the desert and have a beautiful mare,
and call her Selim or Benjamin or Mohammed, and feed her
with my own hands, and let her come into the tent, and teach
her to caress me and look fondly upon me with her great tender
eyes; and I wished that a stranger might come at such a
time and offer me a hundred thousand dollars for her, so that
I could do like the other Arabs—hesitate, yearn for the money,
but overcome by my love for my mare, at last say, “Part with
thee, my beautiful one! Never with my life! Away, tempter,
I scorn thy gold!” and then bound into the saddle and
speed over the desert like the wind!

But I recall those aspirations. If these Arabs be like the
other Arabs, their love for their beautiful mares is a fraud.
These of my acquaintance have no love for their horses, no
sentiment of pity for them, and no knowledge of how to treat
them or care for them. The Syrian saddle-blanket is a quilted
mattrass two or three inches thick. It is never removed from
the horse, day or night. It gets full of dirt and hair, and becomes
soaked with sweat. It is bound to breed sores. These
pirates never think of washing a horse's back. They do not
shelter the horses in the tents, either; they must stay out and
take the weather as it comes. Look at poor cropped and dilapidated
“Baalbec,” and weep for the sentiment that has been
wasted upon the Selims of romance!