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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







“SEE Naples and die.” Well, I do not know that one
would necessarily die after merely seeing it, but to
attempt to live there might turn out a little differently. To
see Naples as we saw it in the early dawn from far up on the
side of Vesuvius, is to see a picture of wonderful beauty. At
that distance its dingy buildings looked white—and so, rank
on rank of balconies, windows and roofs, they piled themselves
up from the blue ocean till the colossal castle of St.
Elmo topped the grand white pyramid and gave the picture
symmetry, emphasis and completeness. And when its lilies
turned to roses—when it blushed under the sun's first kiss—it
was beautiful beyond all description. One might well say,
then, “See Naples and die.” The frame of the picture was
charming, itself. In front, the smooth sea—a vast mosaic of
many colors; the lofty islands swimming in a dreamy haze in
the distance; at our end of the city the stately double peak of
Vesuvius, and its strong black ribs and seams of lava stretch
ing down to the limitless level campagna—a green carpet that
enchants the eye and leads it on and on, past clusters of trees,
and isolated houses, and snowy villages, until it shreds out in
a fringe of mist and general vagueness far away. It is from
the Hermitage, there on the side of Vesuvius, that one should
“see Naples and die.”

But do not go within the walls and look at it in detail.
That takes away some of the romance of the thing. The


Page 316
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 316. In-line Illustration. Image of the bay of Naples, with buildings and small boats. The caption reads, "BAY OF NAPLES."] people are filthy in their habits, and this makes filthy streets
and breeds disagreeable sights and smells. There never was
a community so prejudiced against the cholera as these Neapolitans
are. But they have good reason to be. The cholera
generally vanquishes a Neapolitan when it seizes him, because,
you understand, before the doctor can dig through the dirt
and get at the disease the man dies. The upper classes take a
sea-bath every day, and are pretty decent.

The streets are generally about wide enough for one wagon,
and how they do swarm with people! It is Broadway repeated
in every street, in every court, in every alley! Such
masses, such throngs, such multitudes of hurrying, bustling,
struggling humanity! We never saw the like of it, hardly
even in New York, I think. There are seldom any sidewalks,
and when there are, they are not often wide enough to pass a
man on without caroming on him. So everybody walks in
the street—and where the street is wide enough, carriages are
forever dashing along. Why a thousand people are not run
over and crippled every day is a mystery that no man can

But if there is an eighth wonder in the world, it must be the
dwelling-houses of Naples. I honestly believe a good majority


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of them are a hundred feet high! And the solid brick walls
are seven feet through. You go up nine flights of stairs before
you get to the “first” floor. No, not nine, but there or
thereabouts. There is a little bird-cage of an iron railing in
front of every window clear away up, up, up, among the eternal
clouds, where the roof is, and there is always somebody looking
out of every window—people of ordinary size looking out
from the first floor, people a shade smaller from the second,
people that look a little smaller yet from the third—and from
thence upward they grow smaller and smaller by a regularly
graduated diminution, till the folks in the topmost windows
seem more like birds in an uncommonly tall martin-box than
any thing else. The perspective of one of these narrow
cracks of streets, with its rows of tall houses stretching away
till they come together in the distance like railway tracks; its
clothes-lines crossing over at all altitudes and waving their
bannered raggedness over the swarms of people below; and
the white-dressed women perched in balcony railings all the
way from the pavement up to the heavens—a perspective like
that is really worth going into Neapolitan details to see.


Naples, with its immediate suburbs, contains six hundred
and twenty-five thousand inhabitants, but I am satisfied it
covers no more ground than an American city of one hundred
and fifty thousand. It reaches up into the air infinitely higher
than three American cities, though, and there is where the
secret of it lies. I will observe here, in passing, that the contrasts
between opulence and poverty, and magnificence and
misery, are more frequent and more striking in Naples than in
Paris even. One must go to the Bois de Boulogne to see
fashionable dressing, splendid equipages and stunning liveries,
and to the Faubourg St. Antoine to see vice, misery, hunger,
rags, dirt—but in the thoroughfares of Naples these things are
all mixed together. Naked boys of nine years and the fancy-dressed
children of luxury; shreds and tatters, and brilliant


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uniforms; jackass-carts and state-carriages; beggars, Princes
and Bishops, jostle each other in every street. At six o'clock
every evening, all Naples turns out to drive on the Riviere di
(whatever that may mean;) and for two hours one may
stand there and see the motliest and the worst mixed procession
go by that ever eyes beheld. Princes (there are more
Princes than policemen in Naples—the city is infested with
them)—Princes who live up seven flights of stairs and don't
own any principalities, will keep a carriage and go hungry;
and clerks, mechanics, milliners and strumpets will go without
their dinners and squander the money on a hack-ride in the
Chiaja; the rag-tag and rubbish of the city stack themselves
up, to the number of twenty or thirty, on a rickety little gocart
hauled by a donkey not much bigger than a cat, and they
drive in the Chiaja; Dukes and bankers, in sumptuous carriages
and with gorgeous drivers and footmen, turn out, also,
and so the furious procession goes. For two hours rank and
wealth, and obscurity and poverty clatter along side by side in
the wild procession, and then go home serene, happy, covered
with glory!

I was looking at a magnificent marble staircase in the
King's palace, the other day, which, it was said, cost five million
francs, and I suppose it did cost half a million, may be.
I felt as if it must be a fine thing to live in a country where
there was such comfort and such luxury as this. And then I
stepped out musing, and almost walked over a vagabond who
was eating his dinner on the curbstone—a piece of bread and a
bunch of grapes. When I found that this mustang was clerking
in a fruit establishment (he had the establishment along
with him in a basket,) at two cents a day, and that he had no
palace at home where he lived, I lost some of my enthusiasm
concerning the happiness of living in Italy.

This naturally suggests to me a thought about wages here.
Lieutenants in the army get about a dollar a day, and common
soldiers a couple of cents. I only know one clerk—he
gets four dollars a month. Printers get six dollars and a half
a month, but I have heard of a foreman who gets thirteen.


Page 319
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 319. In-line Illustration. Image of a man sitting on the curb beside a basket of grapes. He is eating from a bunch of the grapes and holding some bread in his other hand. The caption reads, "MUSTANG."] To be growing suddenly and violently rich, as this man is,
naturally makes him a bloated aristocrat. The airs he puts on
are insufferable.

And, speaking of wages, reminds me of prices of merchandise.
In Paris you pay twelve dollars a dozen for Jouvin's
best kid gloves; gloves
of about as good quality
sell here at three or four
dollars a dozen. You
pay five and six dollars
apiece for fine linen
shirts in Paris; here and
in Leghorn you pay two
and a half. In Marseilles
you pay forty dollars
for a first-class dress
coat made by a good
tailor, but in Leghorn
you can get a full dress
suit for the same money.
Here you get handsome
business suits at from
ten to twenty dollars,
and in Leghorn you can
get an overcoat for
fifteen dollars that would
cost you seventy in New York. Fine kid boots are worth
eight dollars in Marseilles and four dollars here. Lyons velvets
rank higher in America than those of Genoa. Yet the
bulk of Lyons velvets you buy in the States are made in
Genoa and imported into Lyons, where they receive the Lyons
stamp and are then exported to America. You can buy
enough velvet in Genoa for twenty-five dollars to make a five
hundred dollar cloak in New York—so the ladies tell me.
Of course these things bring me back, by a natural and easy
transition, to the


Page 320

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 320. In-line Illustration. Image of the Island of Capri with some boats and ships in the foreground. The caption reads, "ISLAND OF CAPRI."]


And thus the wonderful Blue Grotto is suggested to me. It
is situated on the Island of Capri, twenty-two miles from
Naples. We chartered a little steamer and went out there.
Of course, the police boarded us and put us through a health
examination, and inquired into our politics, before they would
let us land. The airs these little insect Governments put on
are in the last degree ridiculous. They even put a policeman
on board of our boat to keep an eye on us as long as we were
in the Capri dominions. They thought we wanted to steal the
grotto, I suppose. It was worth stealing. The entrance to
the cave is four feet high and four feet wide, and is in the face
of a lofty perpendicular cliff—the sea-wall. You enter in


Page 321
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 321. In-line Illustration. Image of some people looking at a large underground body of water with a little boat upon it. The caption reads, "BLUE GROTTO."] small boats—and a tight squeeze it is, too. You can not go in
at all when the tide is up. Once within, you find yourself in
an arched cavern about one hundred and sixty feet long, one
hundred and twenty wide, and about seventy high. How
deep it is no man knows. It goes down to the bottom of the
ocean. The waters of this placid subterranean lake are the
brightest, loveliest blue that can be imagined. They are as
transparent as plate glass, and their coloring would shame the
richest sky that ever bent over Italy. No tint could be more
ravishing, no lustre more superb. Throw a stone into the
water, and the myriad of tiny bubbles that are created flash out
a brilliant glare like blue theatrical fires. Dip an oar, and its
blade turns to splendid frosted silver, tinted with blue. Let a
man jump in, and instantly he is cased in an armor more gorgeous
than ever kingly Crusader wore.

Then we went to Ischia, but I had already been to that


Page 322
island and tired myself to death “resting” a couple of days
and studying human villainy, with the landlord of the Grande
Sentinelle for a model. So we went to Procida, and from
thence to Pozzuoli, where St. Paul landed after he sailed from
Samos. I landed at precisely the same spot where St. Paul
landed, and so did Dan and the others. It was a remarkable
coincidence. St. Paul preached to these people seven days
before he started to Rome.

Nero's Baths, the ruins of Baiæ, the Temple of Serapis;
Cumæ, where the Cumæn Sybil interpreted the oracles, the
Lake Agnano, with its ancient submerged city still visible far
down in its depths—these and a hundred other points of interest
we examined with critical imbecility, but the Grotto of the
Dog claimed our chief attention, because we had heard and
read so much about it. Every body has written about the
Grotto del Cane and its poisonous vapors, from Pliny down
to Smith, and every tourist has held a dog over its floor by the
legs to test the capabilities of the place. The dog dies in a
minute and a half—a chicken instantly. As a general thing,
strangers who crawl in there to sleep do not get up until they
are called. And then they don't either. The stranger that
ventures to sleep there takes a permanent contract. I longed
to see this grotto. I resolved to take a dog and hold him myself;
suffocate him a little, and time him; suffocate him some
more and then finish him. We reached the grotto at about
three in the afternoon, and proceeded at once to make the
experiments. But now, an important difficulty presented
itself. We had no dog.


At the Hermitage we were about fifteen or eighteen hundred
feet above the sea, and thus far a portion of the ascent
had been pretty abrupt. For the next two miles the road was
a mixture—sometimes the ascent was abrupt and sometimes it
was not: but one characteristic it possessed all the time, without
failure—without modification—it was all uncompromis

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[Description: 500EAF. Illustration page. Image of the bay of Naples, with a wide beach and buildings, and Mount Vesuvius smoking in the background.]


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ingly and unspeakably infamous. It was a rough, narrow
trail, and led over an old lava flow—a black ocean which was
tumbled into a thousand fantastic shapes—a wild chaos of
ruin, desolation, and barrenness—a wilderness of billowy upheavals,
of furious whirlpools, of miniature mountains rent
asunder—of gnarled and knotted, wrinkled and twisted
masses of blackness that mimicked branching roots, great
vines, trunks of trees, all interlaced and mingled together:
and all these weird shapes, all this turbulent panorama, all
this stormy, far-stretching waste of blackness, with its thrilling
suggestiveness of life, of action, of boiling, surging,
furious motion, was petrified!—all stricken dead and cold in
the instant of its maddest rioting!—fettered, paralyzed, and
left to glower at heaven in impotent rage for evermore!

Finally we stood in a level, narrow valley (a valley that had
been created by the terrific march of some old time irruption)
and on either hand towered the two steep peaks of Vesuvius.
The one we had to climb—the one that contains the active
volcano—seemed about eight hundred or one thousand feet
high, and looked almost too straight-up-and-down for any
man to climb, and certainly no mule could climb it with a
man on his back. Four of these native pirates will carry you
to the top in a sedan chair, if you wish it, but suppose they
were to slip and let you fall,—is it likely that you would ever
stop rolling? Not this side of eternity, perhaps. We left the
mules, sharpened our finger-nails, and began the ascent I have
been writing about so long, at twenty minutes to six in the
morning. The path led straight up a rugged sweep of loose
chunks of pumice-stone, and for about every two steps forward
we took, we slid back one. It was so excessively steep
that we had to stop, every fifty or sixty steps, and rest a moment.
To see our comrades, we had to look very nearly
straight up at those above us, and very nearly straight down
at those below. We stood on the summit at last—it had
taken an hour and fifteen minutes to make the trip.

What we saw there was simply a circular crater—a circular
ditch, if you please—about two hundred feet deep, and four


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or five hundred feet wide, whose inner wall was about half a
mile in circumference. In the centre of the great circus ring
thus formed, was a torn and ragged upheaval a hundred feet
high, all snowed over with a sulphur crust of many and many a
brilliant and beautiful color, and the ditch inclosed this like
the moat of a castle, or surrounded it as a little river does a
little island, if the simile is better. The sulphur coating of
that island was gaudy in the extreme—all mingled together in
the richest confusion were red, blue, brown, black, yellow,
white—I do not know that there was a color, or shade of a
color, or combination of colors, unrepresented—and when the
sun burst through the morning mists and fired this tinted
magnificence, it topped imperial Vesuvins like a jeweled

The crater itself—the ditch—was not so variegated in coloring,
but yet, in its softness, richness, and unpretentious elegance,
it was more charming, more fascinating to the eye.
There was nothing “loud” about its well-bred and well-dressed
look. Beautiful? One could stand and look down upon it
for a week without getting tired of it. It had the semblance
of a pleasant meadow, whose slender grasses and whose velvety
mosses were frosted with a shining dust, and tinted with
palest green that deepened gradually to the darkest hue of the
orange leaf, and deepened yet again into gravest brown, then
faded into orange, then into brightest gold, and culminated in
the delicate pink of a new-blown rose. Where portions of the
meadow had sunk, and where other portions had been broken
up like an ice-floe, the cavernous openings of the one, and the
ragged upturned edges exposed by the other, were hung with
a lace-work of soft-tinted crystals of sulphur that changed
their deformities into quaint shapes and figures that were full
of grace and beauty.

The walls of the ditch were brilliant with yellow banks
of sulphur and with lava and pumice-stone of many colors.
No fire was visible any where, but gusts of sulphurous steam
issued silently and invisibly from a thousand little cracks and
fissures in the crater, and were wafted to our noses with every


Page 325
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 325. In-line Illustration. Image of two men with walking sticks struggling down a very steep incline. The caption reads, "THE DESCENT."] breeze. But so long as we kept our nostrils buried in our
handkerchiefs, there was small danger of suffocation.

Some of the boys thrust long slips of paper down into holes
and set them on fire, and so achieved the glory of lighting
their cigars by the flames of Vesuvius, and others cooked eggs
over fissures in the rocks and were happy.

The view from the summit would have been superb but for
the fact that the sun could only pierce the mists at long intervals.
Thus the glimpses we had of the grand panorama below
were only fitful and unsatisfactory.


The descent of the mountain was a labor of only four
minutes. Instead of
stalking down the rugged
path we ascended,
we chose one which was
bedded knee-deep in
loose ashes, and ploughed
our way with prodigious
strides that would almost
have shamed the
performance of him of
the seven-league boots.

The Vesuvius of to-day
is a very poor affair
compared to the mighty
volcano of Kilauea, in
the Sandwich Islands,
but I am glad I visited
it. It was well worth

It is said that during
one of the grand eruptions
of Vesuvius it discharged massy rocks weighing many
tons a thousand feet into the air, its vast jets of smoke and


Page 326
steam ascended thirty miles toward the firmament, and clouds
of its ashes were wafted abroad and fell upon the decks of
ships seven hundred and fifty miles at sea! I will take the
ashes at a moderate discount, if any one will take the thirty
miles of smoke, but I do not feel able to take a commanding
interest in the whole story by myself.