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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






I THINK the Azores must be very little known in America.
Out of our whole ship's company there was not a solitary
individual who knew any thing whatever about them. Some
of the party, well read concerning most other lands, had no
other information about the Azores than that they were a group
of nine or ten small islands far out in the Atlantic, something
more than half way between New York and Gibraltar. That
was all. These considerations move me to put in a paragraph
of dry facts just here.

The community is eminently Portuguese—that is to say, it
is slow, poor, shiftless, sleepy, and lazy. There is a civil governor,
appointed by the King of Portugal; and also a military
governor, who can assume supreme control and suspend the
civil government at his pleasure. The islands contain a population
of about 200,000, almost entirely Portuguese. Every
thing is staid and settled, for the country was one hundred
years old when Columbus discovered America. The principal
crop is corn, and they raise it and grind it just as their great-great-great-grandfathers
did. They plow with a board slightly
shod with iron; their trifling little harrows are drawn by men
and women; small windmills grind the corn, ten bushels a
day, and there is one assistant superintendent to feed the mill
and a general superintendent to stand by and keep him from
going to sleep. When the wind changes they hitch on some
donkeys, and actually turn the whole upper half of the mill
around until the sails are in proper position, instead of fixing
the concern so that the sails could be moved instead of the


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mill. Oxen tread the wheat from the ear, after the fashion
prevalent in the time of Methuselah. There is not a wheelbarrow
in the land—they carry every thing on their heads, or
on donkeys, or in a wicker-bodied cart, whose wheels are solid
blocks of wood and whose axles turn with the wheel. There
is not a modern plow in the islands, or a threshing-machine.
All attempts to introduce them have failed. The good Catholic
Portuguese crossed himself and prayed God to shield him
from all blasphemous desire to know more than his father did
before him. The climate is mild; they never have snow or
ice, and I saw no chimneys in the town. The donkeys and
the men, women and children of a family, all eat and sleep in
the same room, and are unclean, are ravaged by vermin, and
are truly happy. The people lie, and cheat the stranger, and
are desperately ignorant, and have hardly any reverence for
their dead. The latter trait shows how little better they are
than the donkeys they eat and sleep with. The only well-dressed
Portuguese in the camp are the half a dozen well-to-do
families, the Jesuit priests and the soldiers of the little garrison.
The wages of a laborer are twenty to twenty-four cents
a day, and those of a good mechanic about twice as much.
They count it in reis at a thousand to the dollar, and this
makes them rich and contented. Fine grapes used to grow in
the islands, and an excellent wine was made and exported.
But a disease killed all the vines fifteen years ago, and since
that time no wine has been made. The islands being wholly
of volcanic origin, the soil is necessarily very rich. Nearly
every foot of ground is under cultivation, and two or three
crops a year of each article are produced, but nothing is
exported save a few oranges—chiefly to England. Nobody
comes here, and nobody goes away. News is a thing unknown
in Fayal. A thirst for it is a passion equally unknown. A
Portuguese of average intelligence inquired if our civil war
was over? because, he said, somebody had told him it was—or
at least it ran in his mind that somebody had told him something
like that! And when a passenger gave an officer of the
garrison copies of the Tribune, the Herald, and Times, he was

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surprised to find later news in them from Lisbon than he had
just received by the little monthly steamer. He was told that
it came by cable. He said he knew they had tried to lay a
cable ten years ago, but it had been in his mind, somehow,
that they hadn't succeeded!

It is in communities like this that Jesuit humbuggery flourishes.
We visited a Jesuit cathedral nearly two hundred
years old, and found in it a piece of the veritable cross upon
which our Saviour was crucified. It was polished and hard,
and in as excellent a state of preservation as if the dread
tragedy on Calvary had occurred yesterday instead of eighteen
centuries ago. But these confiding people believe in that
piece of wood unhesitatingly.

In a chapel of the cathedral is an altar with facings of solid
silver—at least they call it so, and I think myself it would go
a couple of hundred to the ton (to speak after the fashion of
the silver miners,) and before it is kept forever burning a
small lamp. A devout lady who died, left money and contracted
for unlimited masses for the repose of her soul, and
also stipulated that this lamp should be kept lighted always,
day and night. She did all this before she died, you understand.
It is a very small lamp, and a very dim one, and it
could not work her much damage, I think, if it went out

The great altar of the cathedral, and also three or four
minor ones, are a perfect mass of gilt gimcracks and gingerbread.
And they have a swarm of rusty, dusty, battered
apostles standing around the filagree work, some on one leg and
some with one eye out but a gamey look in the other, and
some with two or three fingers gone, and some with not
enough nose left to blow—all of them crippled and discouraged,
and fitter subjects for the hospital than the cathedral.

The walls of the chancel are of porcelain, all pictured over
with figures of almost life size, very elegantly wrought, and
dressed in the fanciful costumes of two centuries ago. The
design was a history of something or somebody, but none of
us were learned enough to read the story. The old father,


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reposing under a stone close by, dated 1686, might have told
us if he could have risen. But he didn't.

As we came down through the town, we encountered a
squad of little donkeys ready saddled for use. The saddles
were peculiar, to say the least. They consisted of a sort of
saw-buck, with a small mattress on it, and this furniture covered
about half the donkey. There were no stirrups, but
really such supports were not needed—to use such a saddle
was the next thing to riding a dinner table—there was ample
support clear out to one's knee joints. A neck of ragged Portuguese
muleteers crowded around us, offering their beasts at
half a dollar an hour—more rascality to the stranger, for the
market price is sixteen cents. Half a dozen of us mounted
the ungainly affairs, and submitted to the indignity of making
a ridiculous spectacle of ourselves through the principal streets
of a town of 10,000 inhabitants.

We started. It was not a trot, a gallop, or a canter, but a
stampede, and made up of all possible or conceivable gaits.
No spurs were necessary. There was a muleteer to every
donkey and a dozen volunteers beside, and they banged the
donkeys with their goad-sticks, and pricked them with their
spikes, and shouted something that sounded like “Sekki-yah!
and kept up a din and a racket that was worse than Bedlam
itself. These rascals were all on foot, but no matter, they
were always up to time—they can outrun and outlast a
donkey. Altogether ours was a lively and a picturesque procession,
and drew crowded audiences to the balconies wherever
we went.

Blucher could do nothing at all with his donkey. The beast
scampered zigzag across the road and the others ran into him;
he scraped Blucher against carts and the corners of houses; the
road was fenced in with high stone walls, and the donkey gave
him a polishing first on one side and then on the other, but
never once took the middle; he finally came to the house he
was born in and darted into the parlor, scraping Blucher off
at the doorway. After remounting, Blucher said to the
muleteer, “Now, that's enough, you know; you go slow hereafter.”


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 059. In-line Illustration. Image of a man flying off the back of a donkey, who has suddenly stopped because another man and his donkey lie in the street. The caption reads, "'SEKKI-YAH!'"] But the fellow knew no English and did not understand,
so he simply said, “Sekki-yah!” and the donkey was
off again like a shot. He turned a corner suddenly, and
Blucher went over his head. And, to speak truly, every mule
stumbled over the two, and the whole cavalcade was piled up
in a heap. No harm done. A fall from one of those donkeys
is of little more consequence than rolling off a sofa. The
donkeys all stood still after the catastrophe, and waited for
their dismembered saddles to be patched up and put on by the
noisy muleteers. Blucher was pretty angry, and wanted to
swear, but every time he opened his mouth his animal did so


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also, and let off a series of brays that drowned all other

It was fun, skurrying around the breezy hills and through
the beautiful canons. There was that rare thing, novelty,
abont it; it was a fresh, new, exhilarating sensation, this
donkey riding, and worth a hundred worn and threadbare
home pleasures.

The roads were a wonder, and well they might be. Here
was an island with only a handful of people in it—25,000—
and yet such fine roads do not exist in the United States outside
of Central Park. Every where you go, in any direction,
you find either a hard, smooth, level thoroughfare, just
sprinkled with black lava sand, and bordered with little gutters
neatly paved with small smooth pebbles, or compactly paved
ones like Broadway. They talk much of the Russ pavement
in New York, and call it a new invention—yet here they
have been using it in this remote little isle of the sea for two
hundred years! Every street in Horta is handsomely paved
with the heavy Russ blocks, and the surface is neat and true
as a floor—not marred by holes like Broadway. And every
road is fenced in by tall, solid lava walls, which will last a
thousand years in this land where frost is unknown. They are
very thick, and are often plastered and whitewashed, and
capped with projecting slabs of cut stone. Trees from gardens
above hang their swaying tendrils down, and contrast their
bright green with the whitewash or the black lava of the
walls, and make them beautiful. The trees and vines stretch
across these narrow roadways sometimes, and so shut out the
sun that you seem to be riding through a tunnel. The pavements,
the roads, and the bridges are all government work.

The bridges are of a single span—a single arch—of cut
stone, without a support, and paved on top with flags of lava
and ornamental pebble work. Every where are walls, walls,
walls,—and all of them tasteful and handsome—and eternally
substantial; and every where are those marvelous pavements,
so neat, so smooth, and so indestructible. And if ever
roads and streets, and the outsides of houses, were perfectly


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free from any sign or semblance of dirt, or dust, or mud, or
uncleanliness of any kind, it is Horta, it is Fayal. The lower
classes of the people, in their persons and their domicils, are
not clean—but there it stops—the town and the island are
miracles of cleanliness.

We arrived home again finally, after a ten-mile excursion,
and the irrepressible muleteers scampered at our heels through
the main street, goading the donkeys, shouting the everlasting
“Sekki-yah,” and singing “John Brown's Body” in ruinous

When we were dismounted and it came to settling, the
shouting and jawing, and swearing and quarreling among the
muleteers and with us, was nearly deafening. One fellow
would demand a dollar an hour for the use of his donkey;
another claimed half a dollar for pricking him up, another a
quarter for helping in that service, and about fourteen guides
presented bills for showing us the way through the town and
its environs; and every vagrant of them was more vociferous,
and more vehement, and more frantic in gesture than his
neighbor. We paid one guide, and paid for one muleteer to
each donkey.

The mountains on some of the islands are very high. We
sailed along the shore of the Island of Pico, under a stately
green pyramid that rose up with one unbroken sweep from our
very feet to an altitude of 7,613 feet, and thrust its summit
above the white clouds like an island adrift in a fog!

We got plenty of fresh oranges, lemons, figs, apricots, etc.
in these Azores, of course. But I will desist. I am not here
to write Patent-Office reports.

We are on our way to Gibraltar, and shall reach there five
or six days out from the Azores.