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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






ONE of our pleasantest visits was to Père la Chaise, the
national burying-ground of France, the honored resting-place
of some of her greatest and best children, the last home
of scores of illustrious men and women who were born to no
titles, but achieved fame by their own energy and their own
genius. It is a solemn city of winding streets, and of miniature
marble temples and mansions of the dead gleaming white
from out a wilderness of foliage and fresh flowers. Not every
city is so well peopled as this, or has so ample an area within
its walls. Few palaces exist in any city, that are so exquisite
in design, so rich in art, so costly in material, so graceful, so

We had stood in the ancient church of St. Denis, where
the marble effigies of thirty generations of kings and queens
lay stretched at length upon the tombs, and the sensations
invoked were startling and novel; the curious armor, the obsolete
costumes, the placid faces, the hands placed palm to
palm in eloquent supplication—it was a vision of gray antiquity.
It seemed curious enough to be standing face to face, as
it were, with old Dagobert I., and Clovis and Charlemagne,
those vague, colossal heroes, those shadows, those myths of a
thousand years ago! I touched their dust-covered faces with
my finger, but Dagobert was deader than the sixteen centuries
that have passed over him, Clovis slept well after his
labor for Christ, and old Charlemagne went on dreaming of
his paladins, of bloody Roncesvalles, and gave no heed to


Page 140

The great names of Père la Chaise impress one, too, but
differently. There the suggestion brought constantly to his
mind is, that this place is sacred to a nobler royalty—the royalty
of heart and brain. Every faculty of mind, every noble
trait of human nature, every high occupation which men
engage in seems represented by a famous name. The effect is
a curious medley. Davoust and Massena, who wrought in
many a battle-tragedy, are here, and so also is Rachel, of equal
renown in mimic tragedy on the stage. The Abbé Sicard
sleeps here—the first great teacher of the deaf and dumb—a
man whose heart went out to every unfortunate, and whose
life was given to kindly offices in their service; and not far
off, in repose and peace at last, lies Marshal Ney, whose
stormy spirit knew no music like the bugle call to arms. The
man who originated public gas-lighting, and that other benefactor
who introduced the cultivation of the potato and thus
blessed millions of his starving countrymen, lie with the
Prince of Masserano, and with exiled queens and princes of
Further India. Gay-Lussac the chemist, Laplace the astronomer,
Larrey the surgeon, de Séze the advocate, are here, and
with them are Talma, Bellini, Rubini; de Balzac, Beaumarchais,
Beranger; Molière and Lafontaine, and scores of other
men whose names and whose worthy labors are as familiar in
the remote by-places of civilization as are the historic deeds
of the kings and princes that sleep in the marble vaults of St.

But among the thousands and thousands of tombs in Père
la Chaise, there is one that no man, no woman, no youth of
either sex, ever passes by without stopping to examine.
Every visitor has a sort of indistinct idea of the history of its
dead, and comprehends that homage is due there, but not one
in twenty thousand clearly remembers the story of that tomb
and its romantic occupants. This is the grave of Abelard
and Heloise—a grave which has been more revered, more
widely known, more written and sung about and wept over,
for seven hundred years, than any other in Christendom, save
only that of the Saviour. All visitors linger pensively about


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 141. In-line Illustration. Image of three couples standing before an ornate mausoleum. The caption reads, "GRAVE OF ABELARD AND HELOISE."] it; all young people capture and carry away keepsakes and
mementoes of it; all Parisian youths and maidens who are
disappointed in love come there to bail out when they are full
of tears; yea, many stricken lovers make pilgrimages to this
shrine from distant provinces to weep and wail and “grit”
their teeth over their heavy sorrows, and to purchase the sympathies
of the chastened spirits of that tomb with offerings of
immortelles and budding flowers.

Go when you will, you find somebody snuffling over that
tomb. Go when you will, you find it furnished with those
bouquets and immortelles. Go when you will, you find a
gravel-train from Marseilles arriving to supply the deficiencies
caused by memento-cabbaging vandals whose affections have

Yet who really knows the story of Abelard and Heloise?
Precious few people. The names are perfectly familiar to
every body, and that is about all. With infinite pains I have
acquired a knowledge of that history, and I propose to narrate
it here, partly for the honest information of the public and
partly to show that public that they have been wasting a good
deal of marketable sentiment very unnecessarily.


Heloise was born seven hundred and sixty-six years ago.


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 142. In-line Illustration. Image of a man in a papal hat and robes with crosses on them, and a military cannon. The caption reads, "A PAIR OF CANONS, 13TH CENTURY."] She may have had parents. There is no telling. She lived
with her uncle Fulbert, a canon of the cathedral of Paris. I
do not know what a canon of a cathedral is, but that is what
he was. He was nothing more than a sort of a mountain howitzer,
likely, because they had no heavy artillery in those days.
Suffice it, then, that Heloise lived with her uncle the howitzer,
and was happy.—She
spent the most of her
childhood in the convent
of Argentenil—
never heard of Argenteuil
before, but
suppose there was
really such a place.
She then returned to
her uncle, the old
gun, or son of a gun,
as the case may be,
and he taught her to
write and speak Latin,
which was the
language of literature and polite society at that period.

Just at this time, Pierre Abelard, who had already made
himself widely famous as a rhetorician, came to found a school
of rhetoric in Paris. The originality of his principles, his
eloquence, and his great physical strength and beauty created
a profound sensation. He saw Heloise, and was captivated by
her blooming youth, her beauty and her charming disposition.
He wrote to her; she answered. He wrote again, she answered
again. He was now in love. He longed to know her—to
speak to her face to face.

His school was near Fulbert's house. He asked Fulbert to
allow him to call. The good old swivel saw here a rare opportunity:
his niece, whom he so much loved, would absorb
knowledge from this man, and it would not cost him a cent.
Such was Fulbert—penurious.

Fulbert's first name is not mentioned by any author, which


Page 143
is unfortunate. However, George W. Fulbert will answer for
him as well as any other. We will let him go at that. He
asked Abelard to teach her.

Abelard was glad enough of the opportunity. He came
often and staid long. A letter of his shows in its very first
sentence that he came under that friendly roof like a cold-hearted
villain as he was, with the deliberate intention of
debauching a confiding, innocent girl. This is the letter:

“I can not cease to be astonished at the simplicity of Fulbert; I was as much
surprised as if he had placed a lamb in the power of a hungry wolf. Heloise and
I, under pretext of study, gave ourselves up wholly to love, and the solitude that
love seeks our studies procured for us. Books were open before us, but we spoke
oftener of love than philosophy, and kisses came more readily from our lips than

And so, exulting over an honorable confidence which to his
degraded instinct was a ludicrous “simplicity,” this unmanly
Abelard seduced the niece of the man whose guest he was.
Paris found it out. Fulbert was told of it—told often—but
refused to believe it. He could not comprehend how a man
could be so depraved as to use the sacred protection and
security of hospitality as a means for the commission of such
a crime as that. But when he heard the rowdies in the streets
singing the love-songs of Abelard to Heloise, the case was too
plain—love-songs come not properly within the teachings of
rhetoric and philosophy.

He drove Abelard from his house. Abelard returned
secretly and carried Heloise away to Palais, in Brittany, his
native country. Here, shortly afterward, she bore a son, who,
from his rare beauty, was surnamed Astrolabe—William G.
The girl's flight enraged Fulbert, and he longed for vengeance,
but feared to strike lest retaliation visit Heloise—for he still
loved her tenderly. At length Abelard offered to marry
Heloise—but on a shameful condition: that the marriage
should be kept secret from the world, to the end that (while
her good name remained a wreck, as before,) his priestly reputation
might be kept untarnished. It was like that miscreant.
Fulbert saw his opportunity and consented. He would see


Page 144
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 144. In-line Illustration. Image of a couple kneeling before a church official. The caption reads, "THE PRIVATE MARRIAGE."] the parties married, and then violate the confidence of the
man who had taught him that trick; he would divulge the
secret and so remove somewhat of the obloquy that attached
to his niece's fame. But the niece suspected his scheme. She
refused the marriage, at first; she said Fulbert would betray
the secret to save her, and besides, she did not wish to drag
down a lover who was so gifted, so honored by the world, and
who had such a splendid career before him. It was noble,
self-sacrificing love, and characteristic of the pure-souled
Heloise, but it was not good sense.

But she was overruled, and the private marriage took place.
Now for Fulbert! The heart so wounded should be healed at
last; the proud spirit so tortured should find rest again; the
humbled head should be lifted up once more. He proclaimed
the marriage in the high places of the city, and rejoiced
that dishonor had departed from his house. But lo!
Abelard denied the marriage! Heloise denied it! The
people, knowing the former circumstances, might have believed
Fulbert, had only Abelard denied it, but when the person
chiefly interested—the girl herself—denied it, they laughed
despairing Fulbert to scorn.


Page 145

The poor canon of the cathedral of Paris was spiked again.
The last hope of repairing the wrong that had been done his
house was gone. What next? Human nature suggested revenge.
He compassed it. The historian says:

“Ruffians, hired by Fulbert, fell upon Abelard by night, and inflicted upon him
a terrible and nameless mutilation.”

I am seeking the last resting-place of those “ruffians.”
When I find it I shall shed some tears on it, and stack up
some bouquets and immortelles, and cart away from it some
gravel whereby to remember that howsoever blotted by
crime their lives may have been, these ruffians did one just
deed, at any rate, albeit it was not warranted by the strict
letter of the law.

Heloise entered a convent and gave good-bye to the world
and its pleasures for all time. For twelve years she never
heard of Abelard—never even heard his name mentioned.
She had become prioress of Argenteuil, and led a life of complete
seclusion. She happened one day to see a letter written
by him, in which he narrated his own history. She cried over
it, and wrote him. He answered, addressing her as his “sister
in Christ.” They continued to correspond, she in the unweighed
language of unwavering affection, he in the chilly
phraseology of the polished rhetorician. She poured out her
heart in passionate, disjointed sentences; he replied with
finished essays, divided deliberately into heads and sub-heads,
premises and argument. She showered upon him the tenderest
epithets that love could devise, he addressed her from the
North Pole of his frozen heart as the “Spouse of Christ!”
The abandoned villain!

On account of her too easy government of her nuns, some
disreputable irregularities were discovered among them, and
the Abbot of St. Denis broke up her establishment. Abelard
was the official head of the monastery of St. Gildas de Ruys,
at that time, and when he heard of her homeless condition a
sentiment of pity was aroused in his breast (it is a wonder the
unfamiliar emotion did not blow his head off,) and he placed


Page 146
her and her troop in the little oratory of the Paraclete, a religious
establishment which he had founded. She had many
privations and sufferings to undergo at first, but her worth
and her gentle disposition won influential friends for her, and
she built up a wealthy and flourishing nunnery. She became
a great favorite with the heads of the church, and also the
people, though she seldom appeared in public. She rapidly
advanced in esteem, in good report and in usefulness, and
Abelard as rapidly lost ground. The Pope so honored her
that he made her the head of her order. Abelard, a man of
splendid talents, and ranking as the first debater of his time,
became timid, irresolute, and distrustful of his powers. He
only needed a great misfortune to topple him from the high
position he held in the world of intellectual excellence, and it
came. urged by kings and princes to meet the subtle St.
Bernard in debate and crush him, he stood up in the presence
of a royal and illustrious assemblage, and when his antagonist
had finished he looked about him, and stammered a commencement;
but his courage failed him, the cunning of his
tongue was gone: with his speech unspoken, he trembled and
sat down, a disgraced and vanquished champion.

He died a nobody, and was buried at Cluny, A. D., 1144.
They removed his body to the Paraclete afterward, and when
Heloise died, twenty years later, they buried her with him,
in accordance with her last wish. He died at the ripe age of
64, and she at 63. After the bodies had remained entombed
three hundred years, they were removed once more. They
were removed again in 1800, and finally, seventeen years afterward,
they were taken up and transferred to Père la Chaise,
where they will remain in peace and quiet until it comes time
for them to get up and move again.

History is silent concerning the last acts of the mountain
howitzer. Let the world say what it will about him, I, at
least, shall always respect the memory and sorrow for the
abused trust, and the broken heart, and the troubled spirit of
the old smooth-bore. Rest and repose be his!

Such is the story of Abelard and Heloise. Such is the history


Page 147
that Lamartine has shed such cataracts of tears over.
But that man never could come within the influence of a subject
in the least pathetic without overflowing his banks. He
ought to be dammed—or leveed, I should more properly say.
Such is the history—not as it is usually told, but as it is when
stripped of the nauseous sentimentality that would enshrine
for our loving worship a dastardly seducer like Pierre Abelard.
I have not a word to say against the misused, faithful girl, and
would not withhold from her grave a single one of those
simple tributes which blighted youths and maidens offer to
her memory, but I am sorry enough that I have not time and
opportunity to write four or five volumes of my opinion of her
friend the founder of the Parachute, or the Paraclete, or whatever
it was.

The tons of sentiment I have wasted on that unprincipled
humbug, in my ignorance! I shall throttle down my emotions
hereafter, about this sort of people, until I have read
them up and know whether they are entitled to any tearful
attentions or not. I wish I had my immortelles back, now,
and that bunch of radishes.

In Paris we often saw in shop windows the sign, “English
Spoken Here,”
just as one sees in the windows at home the
sign, “Ici on parle francaise.” We always invaded these places
at once—and invariably received the information, framed in
faultless French, that the clerk who did the English for the
establishment had just gone to dinner and would be back in
an hour—would Monsieur buy something? We wondered
why those parties happened to take their dinners at such
erratic and extraordinary hours, for we never called at a time
when an exemplary Christian would be in the least likely to
be abroad on such an errand. The truth was, it was a base
fraud—a snare to trap the unwary—chaff to catch fledglings
with. They had no English-murdering clerk. They trusted
to the sign to inveigle foreigners into their lairs, and trusted
to their own blandishments to keep them there till they bought

We ferreted out another French imposition—a frequent


Page 148
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 148. In-line Illustration. Image of four men standing at a bar. The French bartender is shrugging his shoulders and looks puzzled. Behind the bartender on the wall are the words "American Drinks compounded." The caption reads, "AMERICAN DRINKS."] sign to this effect: “All Manner of American Drinks
Artistically Prepared Here.”
We procured the services
of a gentleman experienced in the nomenclature of the American
bar, and moved upon the works of one of these impostors.
A bowing, aproned Frenchman skipped forward and

“Que voulez les messieurs?” I do not know what Que
voulez les messieurs means, but such was his remark.

Our General said, “We will take a whisky-straight.”

[A stare from the Frenchman.]

“Well, if you don't know what that is, give us a champagne

[A stare and a shrug.]


Page 149

“Well, then, give us a sherry cobbler.”

The Frenchman was checkmated. This was all Greek to

“Give us a brandy smash!”

The Frenchman began to back away, suspicious of the
ominous vigor of the last order—began to back away, shrugging
his shoulders and spreading his hands apologetically.

The General followed him up and gained a complete victory.
The uneducated foreigner could not even furnish a Santa
Cruz Punch, an Eye-Opener, a Stone-Fence, or an Earthquake.
It was plain that he was a wicked impostor.

An acquaintance of mine said, the other day, that he was
doubtless the only American visitor to the Exposition who had
had the high honor of being escorted by the Emperor's body
guard. I said with unobtrusive frankness that I was astonished
that such a long-legged, lantern-jawed, unprepossessing
looking spectre as he should be singled out for a distinction
like that, and asked how it came about. He said he had attended
a great military review in the Champ de Mars, some
time ago, and while the multitude about him was growing
thicker and thicker every moment, he observed an open space
inside the railing. He left his carriage and went into it. He
was the only person there, and so he had plenty of room, and
the situation being central, he could see all the preparations
going on about the field. By and by there was a sound of
music, and soon the Emperor of the French and the Emperor
of Austria, escorted by the famous Cent Gardes, entered the
inclosure. They seemed not to observe him, but directly, in
response to a sign from the commander of the Guard, a young
lieutenant came toward him with a file of his men following,
halted, raised his hand and gave the military salute, and
then said in a low voice that he was sorry to have to disturb
a stranger and a gentleman, but the place was sacred to royalty.
Then this New Jersey phantom rose up and bowed and
begged pardon, then with the officer beside him, the file of
men marching behind him, and with every mark of respect,
he was escorted to his carriage by the imperial Cent


Page 150
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 150. In-line Illustration. Image of a soldier saluting a gentleman. The caption reads, "ROYAL HONORS TO A YANKEE."] Gardes! The officer saluted again and fell back, the New
Jersey sprite bowed in return and had presence of mind
enough to pretend that he had
simply called on a matter of
private business with those emperors,
and so waved them an
adieu, and drove from the

Imagine a poor Frenchman
ignorantly intruding upon a
public rostrum sacred to some
six-penny dignitary in America.
The police would scare him to
death, first, with a storm of
their elegant blasphemy, and
then pull him to pieces getting
him away from there. We are
measurably superior to the
French in some things, but they are immeasurably our betters
in others.

Enough of Paris for the present. We have done our whole
duty by it. We have seen the Tuileries, the Napoleon
Column, the Madeleine, that wonder of wonders the tomb of
Napoleon, all the great churches and museums, libraries, imperial
palaces, and sculpture and picture galleries, the Pantheon,
Jardin des Plantes, the opera, the circus, the Legislative
Body, the billiard-rooms, the barbers, the grisettes

Ah, the grisettes! I had almost forgotten. They are another
romantic fraud. They were (if you let the books of
travel tell it,) always so beautiful—so neat and trim, so graceful—so
naive and trusting—so gentle, so winning—so faithful
to their shop duties, so irresistible to buyers in their prattling
importunity—so devoted to their poverty-stricken students of
the Latin Quarter—so light hearted and happy on their Sunday
picnics in the suburbs—and oh, so charmingly, so delightfully

Stuff! For three or four days I was constantly saying:


Page 151

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 151. In-line Illustration. Image of two frowning women. The caption reads, "GRISETTES."]

“Quick, Ferguson! is that a grisette?

And he always said “No.”

He comprehended, at last, that I wanted to see a grisette.
Then he showed me dozens of them. They were like nearly
all the Frenchwomen I ever saw—homely. They had large
hands, large feet, large mouths; they had pug noses as a general
thing, and mustaches that not even good breeding could
overlook; they combed their hair straight back without parting;
they were ill-shaped, they were not winning, they were
not graceful; I knew
by their looks that
they ate garlic and
onions; and lastly and
finally, to my thinking
it would be base
flattery to call them

Aroint thee, wench!
I sorrow for the vagabond
student of the
Latin Quarter now,
even more than formerly
I envied him.
Thus topples to earth
another idol of my infancy.

We have seen every
thing, and to-morrow
we go to Versailles.
We shall see Paris
only for a little while
as we come back to
take up our line of march for the ship, and so I may
as well bid the beautiful city a regretful farewell. We shall
travel many thousands of miles after we leave here, and visit
many great cities, but we shall find none so enchanting as


Page 152

Some of our party have gone to England, intending to take
a roundabout course and rejoin the vessel at Leghorn or
Naples, several weeks hence. We came near going to Geneva,
but have concluded to return to Marseilles and go up through
Italy from Genoa.

I will conclude this chapter with a remark that I am sincerely
proud to be able to make—and glad, as well, that my
comrades cordially indorse it, to wit: by far the handsomest
women we have seen in France were born and reared in

I feel, now, like a man who has redeemed a failing reputation
and shed lustre upon a dimmed escutcheon, by a single
just deed done at the eleventh hour.

Let the curtain fall, to slow music.