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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






SO far, good. If any man has a right to feel proud of himself,
and satisfied, surely it is I. For I have written
about the Coliseum, and the gladiators, the martyrs, and the
lions, and yet have never once used the phrase “butchered to
make a Roman holyday.” I am the only free white man of
mature age, who has accomplished this since Byron originated
the expression.

Butchered to make a Roman holyday sounds well for the
first seventeen or eighteen hundred thousand times one sees it
in print, but after that it begins to grow tiresome. I find it
in all the books concerning Rome—and here latterly it reminds
me of Judge Oliver. Oliver was a young lawyer, fresh
from the schools, who had gone out to the deserts of Nevada
to begin life. He found that country, and our ways of life,
there, in those early days, different from life in New England
or Paris. But he put on a woollen shirt and strapped a navy
revolver to his person, took to the bacon and beans of the
country, and determined to do in Nevada as Nevada did.
Oliver accepted the situation so completely that although he
must have sorrowed over many of his trials, he never complained—that
is, he never complained but once. He, two others,
and myself, started to the new silver mines in the Humboldt
mountains—he to be Probate Judge of Humboldt county, and
we to mine. The distance was two hundred miles. It was
dead of winter. We bought a two-horse wagon and put
eighteen hundred pounds of bacon, flour, beans, blasting-powder,
picks and shovels in it; we bought two sorry-looking


Page 285
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 285. In-line Illustration. Image of a horse-drawn wagon in the rain. Two men are pushing and pulling the wagon along. The caption reads, "DID NOT COMPLAIN."] Mexican “plugs,” with the hair turned the wrong way and
more corners on their bodies than there are on the mosque of
Omar; we hitched up and started. It was a dreadful trip.
But Oliver did not complain. The horses dragged the wagon
two miles from town and then gave out. Then we three
pushed the wagon seven miles, and Oliver moved ahead and
pulled the horses after him by the bits. We complained, but
Oliver did not. The ground was frozen, and it froze our
backs while we slept; the wind swept across our faces and
froze our noses. Oliver did not complain. Five days of
pushing the wagon by day and freezing by night brought us
to the bad part of the journey—the Forty Mile Desert, or the
Great American Desert, if you please. Still, this mildest-mannered
man that ever was, had not complained. We
started across at eight in the morning, pushing through sand
that had no bottom; toiling all day long by the wrecks of a
thousand wagons, the skeletons of ten thousand oxen; by
wagon-tires enough to hoop the Washington Monument to the
top, and ox-chains enough to girdle Long Island; by human
graves; with our throats parched always, with thirst; lips
bleeding from the alkali dust; hungry, perspiring, and very,
very weary—so weary that when we dropped in the sand
every fifty yards to rest the horses, we could hardly keep from
going to sleep—no complaints from Oliver: none the next
morning at three o'clock, when we got across, tired to death.


Page 286

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 286. In-line Illustration. Image of a square dug out of the base of the hill. The caption reads, "HUMBOLDT HOUSE."]

Awakened two or three nights afterward at midnight, in a narrow
canon, by the snow falling on our faces, and appalled at the
imminent danger of being “snowed in,” we harnessed up and
pushed on till eight in the morning, passed the “Divide” and
knew we were saved. No complaints. Fifteen days of hardship
and fatigue brought us to the end of the two hundred
miles, and the Judge had not complained. We wondered if
any thing could exasperate him. We built a Humboldt house.
It is done in this way. You dig a square in the steep base of
the mountain, and set up two uprights and top them with two
joists. Then you stretch a great sheet of “cotton domestic”
from the point where the joists join the hill-side down over
the joists to the ground; this makes the roof and the front of
the mansion; the sides
and back are the dirt
walls your digging has
left. A chimney is easily
made by turning up one
corner of the roof. Oliver
was sitting alone in
this dismal den, one
night, by a sage-brush
fire, writing poetry; he
was very fond of digging
poetry out of himself—or
blasting it out when it
came hard. He heard an
animal's footsteps close
to the roof; a stone or
two and some dirt came
through and fell by him.
He grew uneasy and said
“Hi!—clear out from
there, can't you!”—from
time to time. But by and by he fell asleep where he sat,
and pretty soon a mule fell down the chimney! The fire flew
in every direction, and Oliver went over backwards. About


Page 287
ten nights after that, he recovered confidence enough to go to
writing poetry again. Again he dozed off to sleep, and again
a mule fell down the chimney. This time, about half of that
side of the house came in with the mule. Struggling to get
up, the mule kicked the candle out and smashed most of the
kitchen furniture, and raised considerable dust. These violent
awakenings must have been annoying to Oliver, but he never
complained. He moved to a mansion on the opposite side of
the canon, because he had noticed the mules did not go there.
One night about eight o'clock he was endeavoring to finish
his poem, when a stone rolled in—then a hoof appeared below
the canvas—then part of a cow—the after part. He leaned
back in dread, and shouted “Hooy! hooy! get out of this!”
and the cow struggled manfully—lost ground steadily—dirt
and dust streamed down, and before Oliver could get well
away, the entire cow crashed through on to the table and
made a shapeless wreck of every thing!

Then, for the first time in his life, I think, Oliver complained.
He said,

“This thing is growing monotonous!”

Then he resigned his judgeship and left Humboldt county.
“Butchered to make a Roman holyday” has grown monotonous
to me.

In this connection I wish to say one word about Michael
Angelo Buonarotti. I used to worship the mighty genius of
Michael Angelo—that man who was great in poetry, painting,
sculpture, architecture—great in every thing he undertook.
But I do not want Michael Angelo for breakfast—for luncheon
—for dinner—for tea—for supper—for between meals. I like a
change, occasionally. In Genoa, he designed every thing; in
Milan he or his pupils designed every thing; he designed the
Lake of Como; in Padua, Verona, Venice, Bologna, who did
we ever hear of, from guides, but Michael Angelo? In Florence,
he painted every thing, designed every thing, nearly, and
what he did not design he used to sit on a favorite stone and
look at, and they showed us the stone. In Pisa he designed
every thing but the old shot-tower, and they would have attributed


Page 288
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 288. In-line Illustration. Image of a staid looking man with thinning hair and a moustache. The caption reads, "DAN."] that to him if it had not been so awfully out of the
perpendicular. He designed the piers of Leghorn and the
custom house regulations of Civita Vecchia. But, here—here
it is frightful. He designed St. Peter's; he designed the
Pope; he designed the Pantheon, the uniform of the Pope's
soldiers, the Tiber, the Vatican, the Coliseum, the Capitol, the
Tarpeian Rock, the Barberini Palace, St. John Lateran, the
Campagna, the Appian Way, the Seven Hills, the Baths of
Caracalla, the Claudian Aqueduct, the Cloaca Maxima—the
eternal bore designed the Eternal City, and unless all men
and books do lie, he painted every thing in it! Dan said the
other day to the guide, “Enough, enough, enough! Say no
more! Lump the
whole thing! say that
the Creator made
Italy from designs by
Michael Angelo!”

I never felt so fervently
thankful, so
soothed, so tranquil,
so filled with a blessed
peace, as I did yesterday
when I learned
that Michael Angelo
was dead.

But we have taken
it out of this guide.
He has marched us
through miles of pictures
and sculpture
in the vast corridors of the Vatican; and through miles of
pictures and sculpture in twenty other palaces; he has shown
us the great picture in the Sistine Chapel, and frescoes enough
to frescoe the heavens—pretty much all done by Michael
Angelo. So with him we have played that game which has
vanquished so many guides for us—imbecility and idiotic
questions. These creatures never suspect—they have no idea
of a sarcasm.


Page 289

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 289. In-line Illustration. Image of two men standing in front of a large statue of a discus thrower. The caption reads, "BRONZE STATUE."]

He shows us a figure and says: “Statoo brunzo.” (Bronze

We look at it indifferently and the doctor asks: “By Michael

“No—not know

Then he shows us
the ancient Roman
Forum. The doctor
asks: “Michael

A stare from the
guide. “No—thousan'
year before he
is born.”

Then an Egyptian
obelisk. Agian:

“Oh, mon dieu,
genteelmen! Zis is two thousan' year before he is born!”

He grows so tired of that unceasing question sometimes,
that he dreads to show us any thing at all. The wretch has
tried all the ways he can think of to make us comprehend
that Michael Angelo is only responsible for the creation of a
part of the world, but somehow he has not succeeded yet.
Relief for overtasked eyes and brain from study and sight-seeing
is necessary, or we shall become idiotic sure enough.
Therefore this guide must continue to suffer. If he does not
enjoy it, so much the worse for him. We do.

In this place I may as well jot down a chapter concerning
those necessary nuisances, European guides. Many a man
has wished in his heart he could do without his guide; but
knowing he could not, has wished he could get some amusement
out of him as a remuneration for the affliction of his
society. We accomplished this latter matter, and if our
experience can be made useful to others they are welcome to it.


Page 290

Guides know about enough English to tangle every thing
up so that a man can make neither hear or tail of it. They
know their story by heart—the history of every statue, painting,
cathedral or other wonder they show you. They know it
and tell it as a parrot would—and if you interrupt, and throw
them off the track, they have to go back and begin over again.
All their lives long, they are employed in showing strange
things to foreigners and listening to their bursts of admiration.
It is human nature to take delight in exciting admiration. It
is what prompts children to say “smart” things, and do absurd
ones, and in other ways “show off” when company is
present. It is what makes gossips turn out in rain and storm
to go and be the first to tell a startling bit of news. Think,
then, what a passion it becomes with a guide, whose privilege
it is, every day, to show to strangers wonders that throw them
into perfect ecstasies of admiration! He gets so that he could
not by any possibility live in a soberer atmosphere. After we
discovered this, we never went into ecstacies any more—we
never admired any thing—we never showed any but impassible
faces and stupid indifference in the presence of the sublimest
wonders a guide had to display. We had found their
weak point. We have made good use of it ever since. We
have made some of those people savage, at times, but we have
never lost our own serenity.

The doctor asks the questions, generally, because he can
keep his countenance, and look more like an inspired idiot,
and throw more imbecility into the tone of his voice than any
man that lives. It comes natural to him.

The guides in Genoa are delighted to secure an American
party, because Americans so much wonder, and deal so much
in sentiment and emotion before any relic of Columbus. Our
guide there fidgeted about as if he had swallowed a spring
mattrass. He was full of animation—full of impatience. He

“Come wis me, genteelmen!—come! I show you ze letter
writing by Christopher Colombo!—write it himself!—write it
wis his own hand!—come!”


Page 291

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 291. In-line Illustration. Image of a monk holding up a piece of paper for the inspection of four other gentlemen. The caption reads, "PENMANSHIP."]

He took us to the municipal palace. After much impressive
fumbling of keys and opening of locks, the stained and
aged document was spread before us. The guide's eyes
sparkled. He danced about us and tapped the parchment
with his finger:

“What I tell you, genteelmen! Is it not so? See! hand-writing
Christopher Colombo!—write it himself!”

We looked indifferent—unconcerned. The doctor examined
the document very deliberately, during a painful pause.—Then
he said, without any show of interest:

“Ah—Ferguson—what—what did you say was the name
of the party who wrote this?”

“Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo!”

Another deliberate examination.

“Ah—did he write it himself, or—or how?”

“He write it himself!—Christopher Colombo! he's own
hand-writing, write by himself!”

Then the doctor laid the document down and said:

“Why, I have seen boys in America only fourteen years
old that could write better than that.”


Page 292

“But zis is ze great Christo—”

“I don't care who it is! It's the worst writing I ever saw.
Now you musn't think you can impose on us because we are
strangers. We are not fools, by a good deal. If you have
got any specimens of penmanship of real merit, trot them out!
—and if you haven't, drive on!”

We drove on. The guide was considerably shaken up, but
he made one more venture. He had something which he
thought would overcome us. He said:

“Ah, genteelmen, you come wis me! I show you beautiful,
O, magnificent bust Christopher Colombo!—splendid, grand,

He brought us before the beautiful bust—for it was beautiful—and
sprang back and struck an attitude:

“Ah, look, genteelmen!—beautiful, grand,—bust Christopher
Colombo!—beautiful bust, beautiful pedestal!”

The doctor put up his eye-glass—procured for such occasions:

“Ah—what did you say this gentleman's name was?”

“Christopher Colombo!—ze great Christopher Colombo!”

“Christopher Colombo—the great Christopher Colombo.
Well, what did he do?”

“Discover America!—discover America, Oh, ze devil!”

“Discover America. No—that statement will hardly wash.
We are just from America ourselves. We heard nothing
about it. Christopher Colombo—pleasant name—is—is he

“Oh, corpo di Baccho!—three hundred year!”

“What did he die of?”

“I do not know!—I can not tell.”

“Small-pox, think?”

“I do not know, genteelmen!—I do not know what he die

“Measles, likely?”

“May be—may be—I do not know—I think he die of somethings.”

“Parents living?”


Page 293

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 293. In-line Illustration. Image of a group of four men standing around a large statue on a pedestal. The caption reads, "ON A BUST."]


“Ah—which is the bust and which is the pedestal?”

“Santa Maria!—zis ze bust!—zis ze pedestal!”

“Ah, I see, I see—happy combination—very happy combination,
indeed. Is—is this the first time this gentleman was
ever on a bust?”

That joke was lost on the foreigner—guides can not master
the subtleties of the American joke.

We have made it interesting for this Roman guide. Yesterday
we spent three or four hours in the Vatican, again, that
wonderful world of curiosities. We came very near expressing
interest, sometimes—even admiration—it was very hard
to keep from it. We succeeded though. Nobody else ever
did, in the Vatican museums. The guide was bewildered—
non-plussed. He walked his legs off, nearly, hunting up extraordinary
things, and exhausted all his ingenuity on us, but


Page 294
it was a failure; we never showed any interest in any thing.
He had reserved what he considered to be his greatest wonder
till the last—a royal Egyptian mummy, the best preserved in
the world, perhaps. He took us there. He felt so sure, this
time, that some of his old enthusiasm came back to him:

“See, genteelmen!—Mummy! Mummy!”

The eye-glass came up as calmly, as deliberately as ever.

“Ah,—Ferguson—what did I understand you to say the
gentleman's name was?”

“Name?—he got no name!—Mummy!—'Gyptian mummy!”

“Yes, yes. Born here?”

“No! 'Gyptian mummy!”

“Ah, just so. Frenchman, I presume?”

“No!—not Frenchman, not Roman!—born in Egypta!”

“Born in Egypta. Never heard of Egypta before. Foreign
locality, likely. Mummy—mummy. How calm he is—
how self-possessed. Is, ah—is he dead?”

“Oh, sacre bleu, been dead three thousan' year!”

The doctor turned on him savagely:

“Here, now, what do you mean by such conduct as this!
Playing us for Chinamen because we are strangers and trying
to learn! Trying to impose your vile second-hand carcasses on
us!—thunder and lightning, I've a notion to—to—if you've
got a nice fresh corpse, fetch him out!—or by George we'll
brain you!”

We make it exceedingly interesting for this Frenchman.
However, he has paid us back, partly, without knowing it.
He came to the hotel this morning to ask if we were up, and
he endeavored as well as he could to describe us, so that the
landlord would know which persons he meant. He finished
with the casual remark that we were lunatics. The observation
was so innocent and so honest that it amounted to a very
good thing for a guide to say.

There is one remark (already mentioned,) which never yet
has failed to disgust these guides. We use it always, when
we can think of nothing else to say. After they have exhausted


Page 295
their enthusiasm pointing out to us and praising the
beauties of some ancient bronze image or broken-legged
statue, we look at it stupidly and in silence for five, ten,
fifteen minutes—as long as we can hold out, in fact—and then

“Is—is he dead?”

That conquers the serenest of them. It is not what they
are looking for—especially a new guide. Our Roman Ferguson
is the most patient, unsuspecting, long-suffering subject
we have had yet. We shall be sorry to part with him. We
have enjoyed his society very much. We trust he has enjoyed
ours, but we are harassed with doubts.

We have been in the catacombs. It was like going down
into a very deep cellar, only it was a cellar which had no end
to it. The narrow passages are roughly hewn in the rock,
and on each hand as you pass along, the hollowed shelves are
carved out, from three to fourteen deep; each held a corpse
once. There are names, and Christian symbols, and prayers,
or sentences expressive of Christian hopes, carved upon nearly
every sarcophagus. The dates belong away back in the dawn
of the Christian era, of course. Here, in these holes in the
ground, the first Christians sometimes burrowed to escape persecution.
They crawled out at night to get food, but remained
under cover in the day time. The priest told us that St.
Sebastian lived under ground for some time while he was
being hunted; he went out one day, and the soldiery discovered
and shot him to death with arrows. Five or six of the
early Popes—those who reigned about sixteen hundred years
ago—held their papal courts and advised with their clergy in
the bowels of the earth. During seventeen years—from A.D.
235 to A. D. 252—the Popes did not appear above ground.
Four were raised to the great office during that period. Four
years apiece, or thereabouts. It is very suggestive of the unhealthiness
of underground graveyards as places of residence.
One Pope afterward spent his entire pontificate in the catacombs—eight
years. Another was discovered in them and
murdered in the episcopal chair. There was no satisfaction


Page 296
in being a Pope in those days. There were too many annoyances.
There are one hundred and sixty catacombs under
Rome, each with its maze of narrow passages crossing and recrossing
each other and each passage walled to the top with
scooped graves its entire length. A careful estimate makes the
length of the passages of all the catacombs combined foot up
nine hundred miles, and their graves number seven millions.
We did not go through all the passages of all the catacombs.
We were very anxious to do it, and made the necessary arrangements,
but our too limited time obliged us to give up the
idea. So we only groped through the dismal labyrinth of
St. Callixtus, under the Church of St. Sebastian. In the
various catacombs are small chapels rudely hewn in the stones,
and here the early Christians often held their religious services
by dim, ghostly lights. Think of mass and a sermon away
down in those tangled caverns under ground!

In the catacombs were buried St. Cecilia, St. Agnes, and
several other of the most celebrated of the saints. In the
catacomb of St. Callixtus, St. Bridget used to remain long
hours in holy contemplation, and St. Charles Borroméo was
wont to spend whole nights in prayer there. It was also the
scene of a very marvelous thing.

“Here the heart of St. Philip Neri was so inflamed with divine love as to burst
his ribs.”

I find that grave statement in a book published in New
York in 1858, and written by “Rev. William H. Neligan,
LL.D., M. A., Trinity College, Dublin; Member of the Archæological
Society of Great Britain.” Therefore, I believe
it. Otherwise, I could not. Under other circumstances I
should have felt a curiosity to know what Philip had for dinner.

This author puts my credulity on its mettle every now and
then. He tells of one St. Joseph Calasanctius whose house in
Rome he visited; he visited only the house—the priest has
been dead two hundred years. He says the Virgin Mary appeared
to this saint. Then he continues:


Page 297

“His tongue and his heart, which were found after nearly a century to be whole,
when the body was disinterred before his canonization, are still preserved in a
glass case, and after two centuries the heart is still whole. When the French
troops came to Rome, and when Pius VII. was carried away prisoner, blood
dropped from it.”

To read that in a book written by a monk far back in the
Middle Ages, would surprise no one; it would sound natural
and proper; but when it is seriously stated in the middle of
the nineteenth century, by a man of finished education, an
LL.D., M. A., and an Archæological magnate, it sounds
strangely enough. Still, I would gladly change my unbelief
for Neligan's faith, and let him make the conditions as hard as
he pleased.

The old gentleman's undoubting, unquestioning simplicity
has a rare freshness about it in these matter-of-fact railroading
and telegraphing days. Hear him, concerning the church of
Ara Cæli:

“In the roof of the church, directly above the high altar, is engraved, `Regina
Cæali laetare Alleluia.
” In the sixth century Rome was visited by a fearful pestilence.
Gregory the Great urged the people to do penance, and a general procession
was formed. It was to proceed from Ara Cœli to St. Peter's. As it passed
before the mole of Adrian, now the Castle of St. Angelo, the sound of heavenly
voices was heard singing (it was Easter morn,) `Regina Cæli, lactare! alleluia!
quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia! resurrexit sicut dixil; alleluia!'
The Pontiff,
carrying in his hands the portrait of the Virgin, (which is over the high alter and
is said to have been painted by St. Luke,) answered, with the astonished people,
`Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!' At the same time an angel was seen to put up a
sword in a scabbard, and the pestilence ceased on the same day. There are four
circumstances which confirm[1] this miracle: the annual procession which takes
place in the western church on the feast of St. Mark; the statue of St. Michael,
placed on the mole of Adrian, which has since that time been called the Castle of
St. Angelo; the antiphon Regina Cœli, which the Catholic church sings during
paschal time; and the inscription in the church.”


The italics are mine.—M. T.