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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






SOME of the Quaker City's passengers had arrived in Venice
from Switzerland and other lands before we left
there, and others were expected every day. We heard of no
casualties among them, and no sickness.

We were a little fatigued with sight seeing, and so we
rattled through a good deal of country by rail without caring
to stop. I took few notes. I find no mention of Bologna in
my memorandum book, except that we arrived there in good
season, but saw none of the sausages for which the place is so
justly celebrated.

Pistoia awoke but a passing interest.

Florence pleased us for a while. I think we appreciated
the great figure of David in the grand square, and the sculptured
group they call the Rape of the Sabines. We wandered
through the endless collections of paintings and statues of the
Pitti and Ufizzi galleries, of course. I make that statement
in self-defense; there let it stop. I could not rest under the imputation
that I visited Florence and did not traverse its weary
miles of picture galleries. We tried indolently to recollect
something about the Guelphs and Ghibelines and the other historical
cut-throats whose quarrels and assassinations make up
so large a share of Florentine history, but the subject was not
attractive. We had been robbed of all the fine mountain
scenery on our little journey by a system of railroading that
had three miles of tunnel to a hundred yards of daylight, and
we were not inclined to be sociable with Florence. We had
seen the spot, outside the city somewhere, where these people


Page 245
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 245. In-line Illustration. Image of the city of Florence. The caption reads, "FLORENCE."] had allowed the bones of Galileo to rest in unconsecrated
ground for an age because his great discovery that the world
turned around was regarded as a damning heresy by the
church; and we know that long after the world had accepted
his theory and raised his name high in the list of its great
men, they had still let him rot there. That we had lived to
see his dust in honored sepulture in the church of Santa Croce
we owed to a society of literati, and not to Florence or her
rulers. We saw Danté's tomb in that church, also, but we
were glad to know that his body was not in it; that the ungrateful
city that had exiled him and persecuted him would
give much to have it there, but need not hope to ever secure
that high honor to herself. Medicis are good enough for Florence.
Let her plant Medicis and build grand monuments
over them to testify how gratefully she was wont to lick the
hand that scourged her.

Magnanimous Florence! Her jewelry marts are filled
with artists in mosaic. Florentine mosaics are the choicest in
all the world. Florence loves to have that said. Florence is


Page 246
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 246. In-line Illustration. Image of an old man in shabby clothes talking to a man in a ticket window. The caption reads, "THE PENSIONER."] proud of it. Florence would foster this specialty of hers.
She is grateful to the artists that bring to her this high credit
and fill her coffers with foreign money, and so she encourages
them with pensions. With pensions! Think of the lavishness
of it. She knows that
people who piece together
the beautiful trifles die
early, because the labor is
so confining, and so exhausting
to hand and brain,
and so she has decreed that
all these people who reach
the age of sixty shall have
a pension after that! I
have not heard that any of
them have called for their
dividends yet. One man
did fight along till he was
sixty, and started after his
pension, but it appeared
that there had been a mistake
of a year in his family
record, and so he gave
it up and died.

These artists will take particles of stone or glass no larger
than a mustard seed, and piece them together on a sleeve button
or a shirt stud, so smoothly and with such nice adjustment
of the delicate shades of color the pieces bear, as to
form a pigmy rose with stem, thorn, leaves, petals complete,
and all as softly and as truthfully tinted as though Nature had
builded it herself. They will counterfeit a fly, or a high-toned
bug, or the ruined Coliseum, within the cramped circle
of a breastpin, and do it so deftly and so neatly that any man
might think a master painted it.

I saw a little table in the great mosaic school in Florence—
a little trifle of a centre table—whose top was made of some
sort of precious polished stone, and in the stone was inlaid the


Page 247
figure of a flute, with bell-mouth and a mazy complication of
keys. No painting in the world could have been softer or
richer; no shading out of one tint into another could have
been more perfect; no work of art of any kind could have
been more faultless than this flute, and yet to count the multitude
of little fragments of stone of which they swore it was
formed would bankrupt any man's arithmetic! I do not
think one could have seen where two particles joined each
other with eyes of ordinary shrewdness. Certainly we could
detect no such blemish. This table-top cost the labor of one
man for ten long years, so they said, and it was for sale for
thirty-five thousand dollars.

We went to the Church of Santa Croce, from time to time,
in Florence, to weep over the tombs of Michael Angelo,
Raphael and Machiavelli, (I suppose they are buried there,
but it may be that they reside elsewhere and rent their tombs
to other parties—such being the fashion in Italy,) and between
times we used to go and stand on the bridges and admire the
Arno. It is popular to admire the Arno. It is a great historical
creek with four feet in the channel and some scows
floating around. It would be a very plausible river if they
would pump some water into it. They all call it a river, and
they honestly think it is a river, do these dark and bloody
Florentines. They even help out the delusion by building
bridges over it. I do not see why they are too good to

How the fatigues and annoyances of travel fill one with
bitter prejudices sometimes! I might enter Florence under
happier auspices a month hence and find it all beautiful, all
attractive. But I do not care to think of it now, at all, nor
of its roomy shops filled to the ceiling with snowy marble and
alabaster copies of all the celebrated sculptures in Europe—
copies so enchanting to the eye that I wonder how they can
really be shaped like the dingy petrified nightmares they are
the portraits of. I got lost in Florence at nine o'clock, one
night, and staid lost in that labyrinth of narrow streets and
long rows of vast buildings that look all alike, until toward


Page 248
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 248. In-line Illustration. Image of two soldiers with long rifles stopping a man in the street at night. The caption reads, "I WANT TO GO HOME."] three o'clock in the morning. It was a pleasant night and at
first there were a good many people abroad, and there were
cheerful lights about. Later, I grew accustomed to prowling
about mysterious drifts and tunnels and astonishing and interesting
myself with coming around corners expecting to find
the hotel staring me in the face, and not finding it doing any
thing of the kind. Later still, I felt tired. I soon felt remarkably
tired. But there was no one abroad, now—not even
a policeman. I walked till I was out of all patience, and very
hot and thirsty. At last, somewhere after one o'clock, I
came unexpectedly to one of the city gates. I knew then that
I was very far from the hotel. The soldiers thought I wanted
to leave the city, and they sprang up and barred the way with
their muskets. I said:

“Hotel d'Europe!”

It was all the Italian I knew, and I was not certain whether
that was Italian or French. The soldiers looked stupidly at


Page 249
each other and at me, and shook their heads and took me into
custody. I said I wanted to go home. They did not understand
me. They took me into the guard-house and searched
me, but they found no sedition on me. They found a small
piece of soap (we carry soap with us, now,) and I made them
a present of it, seeing that they regarded it as a curiosity. I
continued to say Hotel d'Europe, and they continued to shake
their heads, until at last a young soldier nodding in the corner
roused up and said something. He said he knew where
the hotel was, I suppose, for the officer of the guard sent him
away with me. We walked a hundred or a hundred and fifty
miles, it appeared to me, and then he got lost. He turned
this way and that, and finally gave it up and signified that he
was going to spend the remainder of the morning trying to
find the city gate again. At that moment it struck me that
there was something familiar about the house over the way.
It was the hotel!

It was a happy thing for me that there happened to be a
soldier there that knew even as much as he did; for they say
that the policy of the government is to change the soldiery
from one place to another constantly and from country to
city, so that they can not become acquainted with the people
and grow lax in their duties and enter into plots and conspiracies
with friends. My experiences of Florence were chiefly
unpleasant. I will change the subject.

At Pisa we climbed up to the top of the strangest structure
the world has any knowledge of—the Leaning Tower. As
every one knows, it is in the neighborhood of one hundred
and eighty feet high—and I beg to observe that one hundred
and eighty feet reach to about the hight of four ordinary three-story
buildings piled one on top of the other, and is a very
considerable altitude for a tower of uniform thickness to aspire
to, even when it stands upright—yet this one leans more than
thirteen feet out of the perpendicular. It is seven hundred
years old, but neither history or tradition say whether it was
built as it is, purposely, or whether one of its sides has settled.
There is no record that it ever stood straight up. It is built


Page 250
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 250. In-line Illustration. Image of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The caption reads, "LEANING TOWER."] of marble. It is an airy and a beautiful structure, and each
of its eight stories is encircled by fluted columns, some of
marble and some of granite, with Corinthian capitals that
were handsome when they were new. It is a bell tower, and
in its top hangs a chime of ancient bells. The winding staircase
within is dark, but one always knows which side of the
tower he is on because of his naturally gravitating from one
side to the other of the staircase with the rise or dip of the
tower. Some of the stone steps are foot-worn only on one
end; others only on the other end; others only in the middle.
To look down into the tower from the top is like looking
down into a tilted well. A rope that hangs from the centre


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of the top touches the wall before it reaches the bottom. Standing
on the summit, one does not feel altogether comfortable
when he looks down from the high side; but to crawl on your
breast to the verge on the lower side and try to stretch your
neck out far enough to see the base of the tower, makes your
flesh creep, and convinces you for a single moment in spite of
all your philosophy, that the building is falling. You handle
yourself very carefully, all the time, under the silly impression
that if it is not falling, your trifling weight will start it
unless you are particular not to “bear down” on it.

The Duomo, close at hand, is one of the finest cathedrals in
Europe. It is eight hundred years old. Its grandeur has outlived
the high commercial prosperity and the political importance
that made it a necessity, or rather a possibility. Surrounded
by poverty, decay and ruin, it conveys to us a more
tangible impression of the former greatness of Pisa than books
could give us.

The Baptistery, which is a few years older than the Leaning
Tower, is a stately rotunda, of huge dimensions, and was a
costly structure. In it hangs the lamp whose measured swing
suggested to Galileo the pendulum. It looked an insignificant
thing to have conferred upon the world of science and
mechanics such a mighty extension of their dominions as it
has. Pondering, in its suggestive presence, I seemed to see a
crazy universe of swinging disks, the toiling children of this
sedate parent. He appeared to have an intelligent expression
about him of knowing that he was not a lamp at all; that he
was a Pendulum; a pendulum disguised, for prodigious and
inscrutable purposes of his own deep devising, and not a common
pendulum either, but the old original patriarchal Pendulum—the
Abraham Pendulum of the world.

This Baptistery is endowed with the most pleasing echo of
all the echoes we have read of. The guide sounded two sonorous
notes, about half an octave apart; the echo answered
with the most enchanting, the most melodious, the richest
blending of sweet sounds that one can imagine. It was like
a long-drawn chord of a church organ, infinitely softened by


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distance. I may be extravagant in this matter, but if this be
the case my ear is to blame—not my pen. I am describing a
memory—and one that will remain long with me.

The peculiar devotional spirit of the olden time, which
placed a higher confidence in outward forms of worship than
in the watchful guarding of the heart against sinful thoughts
and the hands against sinful deeds, and which believed in the
protecting virtues of inanimate objects made holy by contact
with holy things, is illustrated in a striking manner in one of
the cemeteries of Pisa. The tombs are set in soil brought
in ships from the Holy Land ages ago. To be buried in such
ground was regarded by the ancient Pisans as being more
potent for salvation than many masses purchased of the
church and the vowing of many candles to the Virgin.

Pisa is believed to be about three thousand years old. It
was one of the twelve great cities of ancient Etruria, that
commonwealth which has left so many monuments in testimony
of its extraordinary advancement, and so little history
of itself that is tangible and comprehensible. A Pisan antiquarian
gave me an ancient tear-jug which he averred was full
four thousand years old. It was found among the ruins of
one of the oldest of the Etruscan cities. He said it came from
a tomb, and was used by some bereaved family in that remote
age when even the Pyramids of Egypt were young, Damascus
a village, Abraham a prattling infant and ancient Troy
not yet dreampt of, to receive the tears wept for some lost idol
of a household. It spoke to us in a language of its own; and
with a pathos more tender than any words might bring, its
mute eloquence swept down the long roll of the centuries
with its tale of a vacant chair, a familiar footstep missed from
the threshold, a pleasant voice gone from the chorus, a vanished
form!—a tale which is always so new to us, so startling,
so terrible, so benumbing to the senses, and behold how
threadbare and old it is! No shrewdly-worded history could
have brought the myths and shadows of that old dreamy age
before us clothed with human flesh and warmed with human
sympathies so vividly as did this poor little unsentient vessel
of pottery.


Page 253

Pisa was a republic in the middle ages, with a government
of her own, armies and navies of her own and a great commerce.
She was a warlike power, and inscribed upon her
banners many a brilliant fight with Genoese and Turks. It
is said that the city once numbered a population of four hundred
thousand; but her sceptre has passed from her grasp,
now, her ships and her armies are gone, her commerce is dead.
Her battle-flags bear the mold and the dust of centuries,
her marts are deserted, she has shrunken far within her
crumbling walls, and her great population has diminished to
twenty thousand souls. She has but one thing left to boast
of, and that is not much, viz: she is the second city of Tuscany.

We reached Leghorn in time to see all we wished to see of
it long before the city gates were closed for the evening, and
then came on board the ship.

We felt as though we had been away from home an age. We
never entirely appreciated, before, what a very pleasant den
our state-room is; nor how jolly it is to sit at dinner in one's
own seat in one's own cabin, and hold familiar conversation
with friends in one's own language. Oh, the rare happiness
of comprehending every single word that is said, and knowing
that every word one says in return will be understood as well!
We would talk ourselves to death, now, only there are only
about ten passengers out of the sixty-five to talk to. The
others are wandering, we hardly know where. We shall not
go ashore in Leghorn. We are surfeited with Italian cities
for the present, and much prefer to walk the familiar quarter-deck
and view this one from a distance.

The stupid magnates of this Leghorn government can not
understand that so large a steamer as ours could cross the
broad Atlantic with no other purpose than to indulge a party
of ladies and gentlemen in a pleasure excursion. It looks too
improbable. It is suspicious, they think. Something more
important must be hidden behind it all. They can not understand
it, and they scorn the evidence of the ship's papers.
They have decided at last that we are a battalion of incendiary,


Page 254
blood-thirsty Garibaldians in disguise! And in all
seriousness they have set a gun-boat to watch the vessel night
and day, with orders to close down on any revolutionary
movement in a twinkling! Police boats are on patrol duty
about us all the time, and it is as much as a sailor's liberty is
worth to show himself in a red shirt. These policemen follow
the executive officer's boat from shore to ship and from
ship to shore and watch his dark maneuvres with a vigilant
eye. They will arrest him yet unless he assumes an expression
of countenance that shall have less of carnage, insurrection
and sedition in it. A visit paid in a friendly way to
General Garibaldi yesterday (by cordial invitation,) by some of
our passengers, has gone far to confirm the dread suspicions
the government harbors toward us. It is thought the friendly
visit was only the cloak of a bloody conspiracy. These people
draw near and watch us when we bathe in the sea from the
ship's side. Do they think we are communing with a reserve
force of rascals at the bottom?

It is said that we shall probably be quarantined at Naples.
Two or three of us prefer not to run this risk. Therefore,
when we are rested, we propose to go in a French steamer to
Civita Vecchia, and from thence to Rome, and by rail to
Naples. They do not quarantine the cars, no matter where
they got their passengers from.