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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






THERE are a good many things about this Italy which I
do not understand—and more especially I can not understand
how a bankrupt Government can have such palatial
railroad depots and such marvels of turnpikes. Why, these
latter are as hard as adamant, as straight as a line, as smooth
as a floor, and as white as snow. When it is too dark to see
any other object, one can still see the white turnpikes of
France and Italy; and they are clean enough to eat from,
without a table-cloth. And yet no tolls are charged.

As for the railways—we have none like them. The cars
slide as smoothly along as if they were on runners. The
depots are vast palaces of cut marble, with stately colonnades
of the same royal stone traversing them from end to end, and
with ample walls and ceilings richly decorated with frescoes.
The lofty gateways are graced with statues, and the broad
floors are all laid in polished flags of marble.

These things win me more than Italy's hundred galleries of
priceless art treasures, because I can understand the one and
am not competent to appreciate the other. In the turnpikes,
the railways, the depots, and the new boulevards of uniform
houses in Florence and other cities here, I see the genius of
Louis Napoleon, or rather, I see the works of that statesman
imitated. But Louis has taken care that in France there shall
be a foundation for these improvements—money. He has
always the wherewithal to back up his projects; they strengthen
France and never weaken her. Her material prosperity is
genuine. But here the case is different. This country is


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bankrupt. There is no real foundation for these great works.
The prosperity they would seem to indicate is a pretence.
There is no money in the treasury, and so they enfeeble her
instead of strengthening. Italy has achieved the dearest wish
of her heart and become an independent State—and in so doing
she has drawn an elephant in the political lottery. She has
nothing to feed it on. Inexperienced in government, she
plunged into all manner of useless expenditure, and swamped
her treasury almost in a day. She squandered millions of
francs on a navy which she did not need, and the first time
she took her new toy into action she got it knocked higher
than Gilderoy's kite—to use the language of the Pilgrims.

But it is an ill-wind that blows nobody good. A year ago,
when Italy saw utter ruin staring her in the face and her
greenbacks hardly worth the paper they were printed on, her
Parliament ventured upon a coup de main that would have
appalled the stoutest of her statesmen under less desperate circumstances.
They, in a manner, confiscated the domains of
the Church! This in priest-ridden Italy! This in a land
which has groped in the midnight of priestly superstition for
sixteen hundred years! It was a rare good fortune for Italy,
the stress of weather that drove her to break from this prison-house.

They do not call it confiscating the church property. That
would sound too harshly yet. But it amounts to that. There
are thousands of churches in Italy, each with untold millions
of treasures stored away in its closets, and each with its battalion
of priests to be supported. And then there are the
estates of the Church—league on league of the richest lands
and the noblest forests in all Italy—all yielding immense revenues
to the Church, and none paying a cent in taxes to the
State. In some great districts the Church owns all the property—lands,
watercourses, woods, mills and factories. They
buy, they sell, they manufacture, and since they pay no taxes,
who can hope to compete with them?

Well, the Government has seized all this in effect, and will
yet seize it in rigid and unpoetical reality, no doubt. Something


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must be done to feed a starving treasury, and there is no
other resource in all Italy—none but the riches of the Church.
So the Government intends to take to itself a great portion of
the revenues arising from priestly farms, factories, etc., and
also intends to take possession of the churches and carry them
on, after its own fashion and upon its own responsibility. In
a few instances it will leave the establishments of great pet
churches undistrubed, but in all others only a handful of
priests will be retained to preach and pray, a few will be pensioned,
and the balance turned adrift.

Pray glance at some of these churches and their embellishments,
and see whether the Government is doing a righteous
thing or not. In Venice, to-day, a city of a hundred thousand
inhabitants, there are twelve hundred priests. Heaven only
knows how many there were before the Parliament reduced their
numbers. There was the great Jesuit Church. Under the old
regime it required sixty priests to engineer it—the Government
does it with five, now, and the others are discharged
from service. All about that church wretchedness and poverty
abound. At its door a dozen hats and bonnets were doffed to
us, as many heads were hambly bowed, and as many hands extended,
appealing for pennies—appealing with foreign words
we could not understand, but appealing mutely, with sad eyes,
and sunken cheeks, and ragged raiment, that no words were
needed to translate. Then we passed within the great doors,
and it seemed that the riches of the world were before us!
Huge columns carved out of single masses of marble, and
inlaid from top to bottom with a hundred intricate figures
wrought in costly verde antique; pulpits of the same rich
materials, whose draperies hung down in many a pictured fold,
the stony fabric counterfeiting the delicate work of the loom;
the grand altar brilliant with polished facings and balustrades
of oriental agate, jasper, verde antique, and other precious
stones, whose names, even, we seldom hear—and slabs of
priceless lapis lazuli lavished every where as recklessly as if
the church had owned a quarry of it. In the midst of all this
magnificence, the solid gold and silver furniture of the altar


Page 258
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 258. In-line Illustration. Image of a man standing in front of an ornate series of statues on the front of a highly decorated building. He is looking at three ragged, emaciated figures standing before him begging. The caption reads, "THE CONTRAST."] seemed cheap and trivial. Even the floors and ceilings cost a
princely fortune.

Now, where is the use of allowing all those riches to lie idle,
while half of that community hardly know, from day to day,
how they are going to keep body and soul together? And,
where is the wisdom in permitting hundreds upon hundreds of
millions of francs to be locked up in the useless trumpery of
churches all over Italy, and the people ground to death with
taxation to uphold a perishing Government?

As far as I can see, Italy, for fifteen hundred years, has
turned all her energies, all her finances, and all her industry
to the building up of a vast array of wonderful church edifices,
and starving half her citizens to accomplish it. She is to-day
one vast museum of magnificence and misery. All the
churches in an ordinary American city put together could
hardly buy the jeweled frippery in one of her hundred cathedrals.
And for every beggar in America, Italy can show a
hundred—and rags and vermin to match. It is the wretchedest,
princeliest land on earth.

Look at the grand Duomo of Florence—a vast pile that has


Page 259
been sapping the purses of her citizens for five hundred years,
and is not nearly finished yet. Like all other men, I fell down
and worshipped it, but when the filthy beggars swarmed
around me the contrast was too striking, too suggestive, and I
said, “O, sons of classic Italy, is the spirit of enterprise, of
self-reliance, of noble endeavor, utterly dead within ye? Curse
your indolent worthlessness, why don't you rob your church?”

Three hundred happy, comfortable priests are employed in
that Cathedral.

And now that my temper is up, I may as well go on and
abuse every body I can think of. They have a grand mausoleum
in Florence, which they built to bury our Lord and Saviour
and the Medici family in. It sounds blasphemous, but it is
true, and here they act blasphemy. The dead and damned
Medicis who cruelly tyrannized over Florence and were her
curse for over two hundred years, are salted away in a circle
of costly vaults, and in their midst the Holy Sepulchre was to
have been set up. The expedition sent to Jerusalem to seize
it got into trouble and could not accomplish the burglary, and
so the centre of the mausoleum is vacant now. They say the
entire mausoleum was intended for the Holy Sepulchre, and
was only turned into a family burying place after the Jerusalem
expedition failed—but you will excuse me. Some of
those Medicis would have smuggled themselves in sure.—
What they had not the efforntery to do, was not worth doing.
Why, they had their trivial, forgotten exploits on land and
sea pictured out in grand frescoes (as did also the ancient
Doges of Venice) with the Saviour and the Virgin throwing
bouquets to them out of the clouds, and the Deity himself
applauding from his throne in Heaven! And who painted
these things? Why, Titian, Tintoretto, Paul Veronese,
Raphael—none other than the world's idols, the “old masters.”

Andrea del Sarto glorified his princes in pictures that must
save them for ever from the oblivion they merited, and they let
him starve. Served him right. Raphael pictured such infernal
villains as Catherine and Marie de Medicis seated in heaven and


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conversing familiarly with the Virgin Mary and the angels,
(to say nothing of higher personages,) and yet my friends
abuse me because I am a little prejudiced against the old
masters—because I fail sometimes to see the beauty that is in
their productions. I can not help but see it, now and then, but
I keep on protesting against the groveling spirit that could
persuade those masters to prostitute their noble talents to the
adulation of such monsters as the French, Venetian and Florentine
Princes of two and three hundred years ago, all the

I am told that the old masters had to do these shameful
things for bread, the princes and potentates being the only
patrons of art. If a grandly gifted man may drag his pride
and his manhood in the dirt for bread rather than strave with
the nobility that is in him untainted, the excuse is a valid one.
It would excuse theft in Washingtons and Wellingtons, and
unchastity in women as well.

But somehow, I can not keep that Medici mausoleum out of
my memory. It is as large as a church; its pavement is rich
enough for the pavement of a King's palace; its great dome
is gorgeous with frescoes; its walls are made of—what? Marble?—plaster?—wood?—paper?
No. Red porphyry—verde
antique—jasper—oriental agate—alabaster—mother-of-pearl—
chalcedony—red coral—lapis lazuli! All the vast walls are
made wholly of these precious stones, worked in, and in and in together
in elaborate patterns and figures, and polished till they
glow like great mirrors with the pictured splendors reflected from
the dome overhead. And before a statue of one of those dead
Medicis reposes a crown that blazes with diamonds and emeralds
enough to buy a ship-of-the-line, almost. These are the
things the Government has its evil eye upon, and a happy
thing it will be for Italy when they melt away in the public

And now—. However, another beggar approaches. I will
go out and destroy him, and then come back and write another
chapter of vituperation.

Having eaten the friendless orphan—having driven away his


Page 261
comrades—having grown calm and reflective at length—I now
feel in a kindlier mood. I feel that after talking so freely
about the priests and the churches, justice demands that if I
know any thing good about either I ought to say it. I have
heard of many things that redound to the credit of the priesthood,
but the most notable matter that occurs to me now is
the devotion one of the mendicant orders showed during the
prevalence of the cholera last year. I speak of the Dominican
friars—men who wear a coarse, heavy brown robe and a cowl,
in this hot climate, and go barefoot. They live on alms altogether,
I believe. They must unquestionably love their religion,
to suffer so much for it. When the cholera was raging
in Naples; when the people were dying by hundreds and hundreds
every day; when every concern for the public welfare
was swallowed up in selfish private interest, and every citizen
made the taking care of himself his sole object, these men
banded themselves together and went about nursing the sick
and burying the dead. Their noble efforts cost many of them
their lives. They laid them down cheerfully, and well they
might. Creeds mathematically precise, and hair-splitting niceties
of doctrine, are absolutely necessary for the salvation of
some kinds of souls, but surely the charity, the purity, the
unselfishness that are in the hearts of men like these would
save their souls though they were bankrupt in the true religion
—which is ours.

One of these fat bare-footed rascals came here to Civita Vecchia
with us in the little French steamer. There were only
half a dozen of us in the cabin. He belonged in the steerage.
He was the life of the ship, the bloody-minded son of the
Inquisition! He and the leader of the marine band of a
French man-of-war played on the piano and sang opera turn
about; they sang duets together; they rigged impromptu
theatrical costumes and gave us extravagant farces and pantomimes.
We got along first-rate with the friar, and were excessively
conversational, albeit he could not understand what we
said, and certainly he never uttered a word that we could
guess the meaning of.


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This Civita Vecchia is the finest nest of dirt, vermin and
ignorance we have found yet, except that African perdition
they call Tangier, which is just like it. The people here live
in alleys two yards wide, which have a smell about them which
is peculiar but not entertaining. It is well the alleys are not
wider, because they hold as much smell now as a person can
stand, and of course, if they were wider they would hold more,
and then the people would die. These alleys are paved with
stone, and carpeted with deceased cats, and decayed rags, and
decomposed vegetable-tops, and remnants of old boots, all
soaked with dish-water, and the people sit around on stools
and enjoy it. They are indolent, as a general thing, and yet
have few pastimes. They work two or three hours at a time,
but not hard, and then they knock off and catch flies. This
does not require any talent, because they only have to grab—
if they do not get the one they are after, they get another. It
is all the same to them. They have no partialities. Whichever
one they get is the one they want.

They have other kinds of insects, but it does not make them
arrogant. They are very quiet, unpretending people. They
have more of these kind of things than other communities, but
they do not boast.

They are very uncleanly—these people—in face, in person
and dress. When they see any body with a clean shirt on,
it arouses their scorn. The women wash clothes, half the day,
at the public tanks in the streets, but they are probably somebody
else's. Or may be they keep one set to wear and another
to wash; because they never put on any that have ever been
washed. When they get done washing, they sit in the alleys
and nurse their cubs. They nurse one ash-cat at a time, and
the others scratch their backs against the door-post and are

All this country belongs to the Papal States. They do not
appear to have any schools here, and only one billiard table.
Their education is at a very low stage. One portion of the
men go into the military, another into the priesthood, and the
rest into the shoe-making business.


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[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 263. In-line Illustration. Image of people sitting on the ground or leaning against a wall doing various things. One woman is tending a baby. The caption reads, "ITALIAN PASTIMES."]

They keep up the passport system here, but so they do in
Turkey. This shows that the Papal States are as far advanced
as Turkey. This fact will be alone sufficient to silence the
tongues of malignant calumniators. I had to get my passport
vised for Rome in Florence, and then they would not let me
come ashore here until a policeman had examined it on the
wharf and sent me a permit. They did not even dare to let
me take my passport in my hands for twelve hours, I looked
so formidable. They judged it best to let me cool down.
They thought I wanted to take the town, likely. Little did
they know me. I wouldn't have it. They examined my baggage
at the depot. They took one of my ablest jokes and
read it over carefully twice and then read it backwards. But
it was too deep for them. They passed it around, and every
body speculated on it awhile, but it mastered them all.

It was no common joke. At length a veteran officer spelled
it over deliberately and shook his head three or four times and
said that in his opinion it was seditious. That was the first
time I felt alarmed. I immediately said I would explain the
document, and they crowded around. And so I explained and


Page 264
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 264. In-line Illustration. Image of two officials reading a piece of paper while anouther man objects. In front of the group is a trunk of clothes that has been opened. Clothes and belongings are strewn around their feet. The caption reads, "INCENDIARY DOCUMENTARY."] explained and explained, and they took notes of all I said, but the
more I explained the more they could not understand it, and when
they desisted at last, I could not even understand it myself.
They said they believed it was an incendiary document,
leveled at the government. I declared solemnly that it was
not, but they only shook their heads and would not be satisfied.
Then they consulted a good while; and finally they confiscated
it. I was very sorry for this, because I had worked a
long time on that joke, and took a good deal of pride in it,
and now I suppose I shall never see it any more. I suppose it
will be sent up and filed away among the criminal archives of
Rome, and will always be regarded as a mysterious infernal
machine which would have blown up like a mine and scattered
the good Pope all around, but for a miraculous providential
interference. And I suppose that all the time I am in Rome
the police will dog me about from place to place because they
think I am a dangerous character.


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It is fearfully hot in Civita Vecchia. The streets are made
very narrow and the houses built very solid and heavy and
high, as a protection against the heat. This is the first Italian
town I have seen which does not appear to have a patron
saint. I suppose no saint but the one that went up in the
chariot of fire could stand the climate.

There is nothing here to see. They have not even a cathedral,
with eleven tons of solid silver archbishops in the back
room; and they do not show you any moldy buildings that
are seven thousand years old; nor any smoke-dried old firescreens
which are chef d'œuvres of Reubens or Simpson, or
Titian or Ferguson, or any of those parties; and they haven't
any bottled fragments of saints, and not even a nail from the
true cross. We are going to Rome. There is nothing to see