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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






ALL day long we sped through a mountainous country
whose peaks were bright with sunshine, whose hillsides
were dotted with pretty villas sitting in the midst of gardens
and shrubbery, and whose deep ravines were cool and shady,
and looked ever so inviting from where we and the birds were
winging our flight through the sultry upper air.

We had plenty of chilly tunnels wherein to check our perspiration,
though. We timed one of them. We were twenty
minutes passing through it, going at the rate of thirty to
thirty-five miles an hour.

Beyond Alessandria we passed the battle-field of Marengo.

Toward dusk we drew near Milan, and caught glimpses of
the city and the blue mountain peaks beyond. But we were
not caring for these things—they did not interest us in the
least. We were in a fever of impatience; we were dying to
see the renowned Cathedral! We watched—in this direction
and that—all around—every where. We needed no one to
point it out—we did not wish any one to point it out—we
would recognize it, even in the desert of the great Sahara.

At last, a forest of graceful needles, shimmering in the
amber sunlight, rose slowly above the pigmy house-tops, as
one sometimes sees, in the far horizon, a gilded and pinnacled
mass of cloud lift itself above the waste of waves, at sea,—the
Cathedral! We knew it in a moment.

Half of that night, and all of the next day, this architectural
autocrat was our sole object of interest.

What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And


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yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid
weight, and yet it seems in the soft moonlight only a fairy
delusion of frost-work that might vanish with a breath! How
sharply its pinnacled angles and its wilderness of spires were
cut against the sky, and how richly their shadows fell upon its
snowy roof! It was a vision!—a miracle!—an anthem sung
in stone, a poem wrought in marble!

Howsoever you look at the great Cathedral, it is noble, it is
beautiful! Wherever you stand in Milan, or within seven
miles of Milan, it is visible—and when it is visible, no other
object can chain your whole attention. Leave your eyes
unfettered by your will but a single instant and they will
surely turn to seek it. It is the first thing you look for when
you rise in the morning, and the last your lingering gaze rests
upon at night. Surely, it must be the princeliest creation that
ever brain of man conceived.

At nine o'clock in the morning we went and stood before
this marble colossus. The central one of its five great doors is
bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and
insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the
marble that they seem like living creatures—and the figures
are so numerous and the design so complex, that one might
study it a week without exhausting its interest. On the great
steeple—surmounting the myriad of spires—inside of the spires
—over the doors, the windows—in nooks and corners—every
where that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous
building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue,
and every statue is a study in itself! Raphael, Angelo,
Canova—giants like these gave birth to the designs, and their
own pupils carved them. Every face is eloquent with expression,
and every attitude is full of grace. Away above, on the
lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring
high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky
beyond. In their midst the central steeple towers proudly up
like the mainmast of some great Indiaman among a fleet of

We wished to go aloft. The sacristan showed us a marble

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[Description: 500EAF. Illustration page. Image of the spires of churches in Milan, all topped with statues of people.]

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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 173. In-line Illustration. Image of a cathedral seen from the side. The caption reads, "CENTRAL DOOR OF CATHEDRAL AT MILAN."] stairway (of course it was marble, and of the purest and whitest
—there is no other stone, no brick, no wood, among its building
materials,) and told us to go up one hundred and eighty-two
steps and stop till he came. It was not necessary to say
stop—we should have done that any how. We were tired by
the time we got there. This was the roof. Here, springing
from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires,
looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance
like the pipes of an organ. We could see, now, that
the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man,
though they all looked like dolls from the street. We could


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 174. In-line Illustration. Image of the inside of a cathedral, including an altar. The space is very open, with tall columns and a round window. The caption reads, "INTERIOR OF THE CATHEDRAL AT MILAN."] see, also, that from the inside of each and every one of these
hollow spires, from sixteen to thirty-one beautiful marble
statues looked out upon the world below.

From the eaves to the comb of the roof stretched in endless
succession great curved marble beams, like the fore-and-aft
braces of a steamboat, and along each beam from end to end
stood up a row of richly carved flowers and fruits—each separate
and distinct in kind, and over 15,000 species represented.
At a little distance these rows seem to close together like the
ties of a railroad track, and then the mingling together of the
buds and blossoms of this marble garden forms a picture that
is very charming to the eye.

We descended and entered. Within the church, long rows
of fluted columns, like huge monuments, divided the building


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into broad aisles, and on the figured pavement fell many a
soft blush from the painted windows above. I knew the
church was very large, but I could not fully appreciate its
great size until I noticed that the men standing far down by
the altar looked like boys, and seemed to glide, rather than
walk. We loitered about gazing aloft at the monster windows
all aglow with brilliantly colored scenes in the lives of the
Saviour and his followers. Some of these pictures are mosaics,
and so artistically are their thousand particles of tinted glass
or stone put together that the work has all the smoothness
and finish of a painting. We counted sixty panes of glass in
one window, and each pane was adorned with one of these
master achievements of genius and patience.

The guide showed us a coffee-colored piece of sculpture
which he said was considered to have come from the hand of
Phidias, since it was not possible that any other artist, of any
epoch, could have copied nature with such faultless accuracy.
The figure was that of a man without a skin; with every vein,
artery, muscle, every fibre and tendon and tissue of the human
frame, represented in minute detail. It looked natural, because
somehow it looked as if it were in pain. A skinned man
would be likely to look that way, unless his attention were
occupied with some other matter. It was a hideous thing, and
yet there was a fascination about it some where. I am very
sorry I saw it, because I shall always see it, now. I shall
dream of it, sometimes. I shall dream that it is resting its
corded arms on the bed's head and looking down on me with
its dead eyes; I shall dream that it is stretched between the
sheets with me and touching me with its exposed muscles and
its stringy cold legs.

It is hard to forget repulsive things. I remember yet how
I ran off from school once, when I was a boy, and then, pretty
late at night, concluded to climb into the window of my
father's office and sleep on a lounge, because I had a delicacy
about going home and getting thrashed. As I lay on the
lounge and my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I
fancied I could see a long, dusky, shapeless thing stretched


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 176. In-line Illustration. Image of a boy on a sofa and a man lying on the floor. A shaft of moonlight is coming through the window and shining on the hand of the man. The caption reads, "BOYHOOD EXPERIENCE."] upon the floor. A cold shiver went through me. I turned
my face to the wall. That did not answer. I was afraid that
that thing would creep over and seize me in the dark. I
turned back and stared at it for minutes and minutes—they
seemed hours. It appeared to me that the lagging moonlight
never, never would get to it. I turned to the wall and
counted twenty, to pass the feverish time away. I looked—
the pale square was nearer. I turned again and counted fifty
—it was almost touching it. With desperate will I turned
again and counted one hundred, and faced about, all in a
tremble. A white human hand lay in the moonlight! Such
an awful sinking at the heart—such a sudden gasp for breath!
I felt—I can not tell what I felt. When I recovered strength
enough, I faced the wall again. But no boy could have
remained so, with that mysterious hand behind him. I
counted again, and looked—the most of a naked arm was


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exposed. I put my hands over my eyes and counted till I
could stand it no longer, and then—the pallid face of a man
was there, with the corners of the mouth drawn down, and
the eyes fixed and glassy in death! I raised to a sitting posture
and glowered on that corpse till the light crept down the
bare breast,—line by line—inch by inch—past the nipple,—
and then it disclosed a ghastly stab!

I went away from there. I do not say that I went away in
any sort of a hurry, but I simply went—that is sufficient. I
went out at the window, and I carried the sash along with me.
I did not need the sash, but it was handier to take it than it
was to leave it, and so I took it.—I was not scared, but I was
considerably agitated.

When I reached home, they whipped me, but I enjoyed it.
It seemed perfectly delightful. That man had been stabbed
near the office that afternoon, and they carried him in there to
doctor him, but he only lived an hour. I have slept in the
same room with him often, since then—in my dreams.

Now we will descend into the crypt, under the grand altar
of Milan Cathedral, and receive an impressive sermon from
lips that have been silent and hands that have been gestureless
for three hundred years.

The priest stopped in a small dungeon and held up his
candle. This was the last resting-place of a good man, a
warm-hearted, unselfish man; a man whose whole life was
given to succoring the poor, encouraging the faint-hearted,
visiting the sick; in relieving distress, whenever and wherever
he found it. His heart, his hand and his purse were always
open. With his story in one's mind he can almost see his
benignant countenance moving calmly among the haggard
faces of Milan in the days when the plague swept the city,
brave where all others were cowards, full of compassion where
pity had been crushed out of all other breasts by the instinct
of self-preservation gone mad with terror, cheering all, praying
with all, helping all, with hand and brain and purse, at a
time when parents forsook their children, the friend deserted


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the friend, and the brother turned away from the sister while
her pleadings were still wailing in his ears.

This was good St. Charles Borroméo, Bishop of Milan. The
people idolized him; princes lavished uncounted treasures
upon him. We stood in his tomb. Near by was the sarcophagus,
lighted by the dripping candles. The walls were faced
with bas-reliefs representing scenes in his life done in massive
silver. The priest put on a short white lace garment over his
black robe, crossed himself, bowed reverently, and began to
turn a windlass slowly. The sarcophagus separated in two
parts, lengthwise, and the lower part sank down and disclosed
a coffin of rock crystal as clear as the atmosphere. Within lay
the body, robed in costly habiliments covered with gold embroidery
and starred with scintillating gems. The decaying
head was black with age, the dry skin was drawn tight to the
bones, the eyes were gone, there was a hole in the temple and
another in the cheek, and the skinny lips were parted as in a
ghastly smile! Over this dreadful face, its dust and decay,
and its mocking grin, hung a crown sown thick with flashing
brilliants; and upon the breast lay crosses and croziers of
solid gold that were splendid with emeralds and diamonds.

How poor, and cheap, and trivial these gew-gaws seemed in
presence of the solemnity, the grandeur, the awful majesty of
Death! Think of Milton, Shakspeare, Washington, standing
before a reverent world tricked out in the glass beads, the
brass ear-rings and tin trumpery of the savages of the plains!

Dead Bartoloméo preached his pregnant sermon, and its
burden was: You that worship the vanities of earth—you that
long for worldly honor, worldly wealth, worldly fame—behold
their worth!

To us it seemed that so good a man, so kind a heart, so
simple a nature, deserved rest and peace in a grave sacred
from the intrusion of prying eyes, and believed that he himself
would have preferred to have it so, but peradventure our
wisdom was at fault in this regard.

As we came out upon the floor of the church again, another
priest volunteered to show us the treasures of the church.


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 179. In-line Illustration. Image of two men looking at a live-size statue of a holy woman in an open cabinet. There is a priest standing in front of the cabinet. The caption reads, "TREASURES OF THE CATHEDRAL."] What, more? The furniture of the narrow chamber of death
we had just visited, weighed six millions of francs in ounces
and carats alone, without a penny thrown into the account for
the costly workmanship bestowed upon them! But we followed
into a large room filled with tall wooden presses like
wardrobes. He threw them, open, and behold, the cargoes of
“crude bullion” of the assay offices of Nevada faded out of
my memory. There were Virgins and bishops there, above
their natural size, made of solid silver, each worth, by weight,
from eight hundred thousand to two millions of francs, and
bearing gemmed books in their hands worth eighty thousand;
there were bas-reliefs that weighed six hundred pounds, carved
in solid silver; croziers and crosses, and candlesticks six and
eight feet high, all of virgin gold, and brilliant with precious
stones; and beside these were all manner of cups and vases,
and such things, rich in proportion. It was an Aladdin's


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palace. The treasures here, by simple weight, without counting
workmanship, were valued at fifty millions of francs! If
I could get the custody of them for a while, I fear me the market
price of silver bishops would advance shortly, on account
of their exceeding scarcity in the Cathedral of Milan.

The priests showed us two of St. Paul's fingers, and one of
St. Peter's; a bone of Judas Iscariot, (it was black,) and also
bones of all the other disciples; a handkerchief in which the
Saviour had left the impression of his face. Among the most
precious of the relics were a stone from the Holy Sepulchre,
part of the crown of thorns, (they have a whole one at Notre
Dame,) a fragment of the purple robe worn by the Saviour, a
nail from the Cross, and a picture of the Virgin and Child
painted by the veritable hand of St. Luke. This is the second
of St. Luke's Virgins we have seen. Once a year all these
holy relics are carried in procession through the streets of

I like to revel in the dryest details of the great cathedral.
The building is five hundred feet long by one hundred and
eighty wide, and the principal steeple is in the neighborhood
of four hundred feet high. It has 7,148 marble statnes, and
will have upwards of three thousand more when it is finished.
In addition, it has one thousand five hundred bas-reliefs. It
has one hundred and thirty-six spires—twenty-one more are to
be added. Each spire is surmounted by a statue six and a
half feet high. Every thing about the church is marble, and
all from the same quarry; it was bequeathed to the Archbishopric
for this purpose centuries ago. So nothing but the
mere workmanship costs; still that is expensive—the bill foots
up six hundred and eighty-four millions of frances, thus far
(considerably over a hundred millions of dollars,) and it is
estimated that it will take a hundred and twenty years yet
to finish the cathedral. It looks complete, but is far from
being so. We saw a new statue put in its niche yesterday,
alongside of one which had been standing these four hundred
years, they said. There are four staircases leading up to the
main steeple, each of which cost a hundred thousand dollars,


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 181. In-line Illustration. Image of a cathedral with many spires. The caption reads, "CATHEDRAL AT MILAN."] with the four hundred and eight statues which adorn them.
Marco Compioni was the architect who designed the wonderful
structure more than five hundred years ago, and it took him
forty-six years to work out the plan and get it ready to hand
over to the builders. He is dead now. The building was
begun a little less than five hundred years ago, and the third
generation hence will not see it completed.

The building looks best by moonlight, because the older
portions of it being stained with age, contrast unpleasantly


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with the newer and whiter portions. It seems somewhat too
broad for its height, but may be familiarity with it might dissipate
this impression.

They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St.
Peter's at Rome. I can not understand how it can be second
to any thing made by human hands.

We bid it good-bye, now—possibly for all time. How surely,
in some future day, when the memory of it shall have lost its
vividness, shall we half believe we have seen it in a wonderful
dream, but never with waking eyes!