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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






FROM Athens all through the islands of the Grecian Archipelago,
we saw little but forbidding sea-walls and barren
hills, sometimes surmounted by three or four graceful
columns of some ancient temple, lonely and deserted—a fitting
symbol of the desolation that has come upon all Greece in
these latter ages. We saw no ploughed fields, very few villages,
no trees or grass or vegetation of any kind, scarcely, and
hardly ever an isolated house. Greece is a bleak, unsmiling
desert, without agriculture, manufactures or commerce, apparently.
What supports its poverty-stricken people or its Government,
is a mystery.

I suppose that ancient Greece and modern Greece compared,
furnish the most extravagant contrast to be found in history.
George I., an infant of eighteen, and a scraggy nest of foreign
office holders, sit in the places of Themistocles, Pericles, and
the illustrious scholars and generals of the Golden Age of
Greece. The fleets that were the wonder of the world when
the Parthenon was new, are a beggarly handful of fishing-smacks
now, and the manly people that performed such miracles
of valor at Marathon are only a tribe of unconsidered
slaves to-day. The classic Illyssus has gone dry, and so have
all the sources of Grecian wealth and greatness. The nation
numbers only eight hundred thousand souls, and there
is poverty and misery and mendacity enough among them to
furnish forty millions and be liberal about it. Under King
Otho the revenues of the State were five millions of dollars—
raised from a tax of one-tenth of all the agricultural products


Page 355
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 355. In-line Illustration. Image of a woman reading a book. The caption reads, "QUEEN OF GREECE."] of the land (which tenth the farmer had to bring to the royal
granaries on pack-mules any distance not exceeding six leagues)
and from extravagant
taxes on trade and
commerce. Out of
that five millions the
small tyrant tried to
keep an army of ten
thousand men, pay all
the hundreds of useless
Grand Equerries in
Waiting, First Grooms
of the Bedchamber,
Lord High Chancellors
of the Exploded
Exchequer, and all
the other absurdities
which these puppy-kingdoms
indulge in,
in imitation of the
great monarchies; and in addition he set about building a
white marble palace to cost about five millions itself. The
result was, simply: ten into five goes no times and none over.
All these things could not be done with five millions, and Otho
fell into trouble.

The Greek throne, with its unpromising adjuncts of a ragged
population of ingenious rascals who were out of employment
eight months in the year because there was little for
them to borrow and less to confiscate, and a waste of barren
hills and weed-grown deserts, went begging for a good while.
It was offered to one of Victoria's sons, and afterwards to various
other younger sons of royalty who had no thrones and
were out of business, but they all had the charity to decline
the dreary honor, and veneration enough for Greece's ancient
greatness to refuse to mock her sorrowful rags and dirt with a
tinsel throne in this day of her humiliation—till they came to
this young Danish George, and he took it. He has finished


Page 356
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 356. In-line Illustration. Image of a large, square palace with a city in the foreground and a large rock or hill in the background. The caption reads, "PALACE OF GREECE."] the splendid palace I saw in the radiant moonlight the other
night, and is doing many other things for the salvation of
Greece, they say.

We sailed through the barren Archipelago, and into the narrow
channel they sometimes call the Dardanelles and sometimes
the Hellespont. This part of the country is rich in historic reminiscences,
and poor as Sahara in every thing else. For instance,
as we approached the Dardanelles, we coasted along the
Plains of Troy and past the mouth of the Scamander; we saw
where Troy had stood (in the distance,) and where it does not
stand now—a city that perished when the world was young. The
poor Trojans are all dead, now. They were born too late to
see Noah's ark, and died too soon to see our menagarie. We
saw where Agamemnon's fleets rendezvoused, and away inland
a mountain which the map said was Mount Ida. Within the


Page 357
Hellespont we saw where the original first shoddy contract
mentioned in history was carried out, and the “parties of the
second part” gently rebuked by Xerxes. I speak of the famous
bridge of boats which Xerxes ordered to be built over
the narrowest part of the Hellespont (where it is only two or
three miles wide.) A moderate gale destroyed the flimsy
structure, and the King, thinking that to publicly rebuke the
contractors might have a good effect on the next set, called
them out before the army and had them beheaded. In the
next ten minutes he let a new contract for the bridge. It has
been observed by ancient writers that the second bridge was a
very good bridge. Xerxes crossed his host of five millions of
men on it, and if it had not been purposely destroyed, it would
probably have been there yet. If our Government would rebuke
some of our shoddy contractors occasionally, it might
work much good. In the Hellespont we saw where Leander
and Lord Byron swam across, the one to see her upon whom
his soul's affections were fixed with a devotion that only death
could impair, and the other merely for a flyer, as Jack says.
We had two noted tombs near us, too. On one shore slept
Ajax, and on the other Hecuba.

We had water batteries and forts on both sides of the Hellespont,
flying the crimson flag of Turkey, with its white crescent,
and occasionally a village, and sometimes a train of camels;
we had all these to look at till we entered the broad sea of
Marmora, and then the land soon fading from view, we resumed
euchre and whist once more.

We dropped anchor in the mouth of the Golden Horn at
daylight in the morning. Only three or four of us were up to
see the great Ottoman capital. The passengers do not turn
out at unseasonable hours, as they used to, to get the earliest
possible glimpse of strange foreign cities. They are well over
that. If we were lying in sight of the Pyramids of Egypt,
they would not come on deck until after breakfast, now-a-days.

The Golden Horn is a narrow arm of the sea, which branches
from the Bosporus (a sort of broad river which connects the
Marmora and Black Seas,) and, curving around, divides the


Page 358
city in the middle. Galata and Pera are on one side of the
Bosporus, and the Golden Horn; Stamboul (ancient Byzantium)
is upon the other. On the other bank of the Bosporus
is Scutari and other suburbs of Constantinople. This great
city contains a million inhabitants, but so narrow are its streets,
and so crowded together are its houses, that it does not cover
much more than half as much ground as New York City.
Seen from the anchorage or from a mile or so up the Bosporus,
it is by far the handsomest city we have seen. Its dense
array of houses swells upward from the water's edge, and
spreads over the domes of many hills; and the gardens that
peep out here and there, the great globes of the mosques, and
the countless minarets that meet the eye every where, invest
the metropolis with the quaint Oriental aspect one dreams of
when he reads books of eastern travel. Constantinople makes
a noble picture.

But its attractiveness begins and ends with its picturesqueness.
From the time one starts ashore till he gets back again,
he execrates it. The boat he goes in is admirably miscalculated
for the service it is built for. It is handsomely and neatly
fitted up, but no man could handle it well in the turbulent
currents that sweep down the Bosporus from the Black Sea,
and few men could row it satisfactorily even in still water. It
is a long, light canoe (caique,) large at one end and tapering
to a knife blade at the other. They make that long sharp end
the bow, and you can imagine how these boiling currents spin
it about. It has two oars, and sometimes four, and no rudder.
You start to go to a given point and you run in fifty different
directions before you get there. First one oar is backing water,
and then the other; it is seldom that both are going ahead
at once. This kind of boating is calculated to drive an impatient
man mad in a week. The boatmen are the awkwardest,
the stupidest, and the most unscientific on earth, without

Ashore, it was—well, it was an eternal circus. People were
thicker than bees, in those narrow streets, and the men were
dressed in all the outrageous, outlandish, idolatrous, extrava

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[Description: 500EAF. Illustration page. Image of an exotic street scene filled with people in turbans, camels, and veiled women.]


Page 359
gant, thunder-and-lightning costumes that ever a tailor with
the delirium tremens and seven devils could conceive of.
There was no freak in dress too crazy to be indulged in; no
absurdity too absurd to be tolerated; no frenzy in ragged diabolism
too fantastic to be attempted. No two men were
dressed alike. It was a wild masquerade of all imaginable
costumes—every struggling throng in every street was a dissolving
view of stunning contrasts. Some patriarchs wore
awful turbans, but the grand mass of the infidel horde wore
the fiery red skull-cap they call a fez. All the remainder of
the raiment they indulged in was utterly indescribable.

The shops here are mere coops, mere boxes, bath-rooms,
closets—any thing you please to call them—on the first floor.
The Turks sit cross-legged in them, and work and trade and
smoke long pipes, and smell like—like Turks. That covers
the ground. Crowding the narrow streets in front of them
are beggars, who beg forever, yet never collect any thing; and
wonderful cripples, distorted out of all semblance of humanity,
almost; vagabonds driving laden asses; porters carrying dry-goods
boxes as large as cottages on their backs; peddlers of
grapes, hot corn, pumpkin seeds, and a hundred other things,
yelling like fiends; and sleeping happily, comfortably, serenely,
among the hurrying feet, are the famed dogs of Constantinople;
drifting noiselessly about are squads of Turkish women, draped
from chin to feet in flowing robes, and with snowy veils bound
about their heads, that disclose only the eyes and a vague,
shadowy notion of their features. Seen moving about, far
away in the dim, arched aisles of the Great Bazaar, they look
as the shrouded dead must have looked when they walked forth
from their graves amid the storms and thunders and earthquakes
that burst upon Calvary that awful night of the Crucifixion.
A street in Constantinople is a picture which one
ought to see once—not oftener.

And then there was the goose-rancher—a fellow who drove
a hundred geese before him about the city, and tried to sell
them. He had a pole ten feet long, with a crook in the end of
it, and occasionally a goose would branch out from the flock


Page 360
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 360. In-line Illustration. Image of a man hearding a flock of geese. In one hand he has a short stick, and in the other he has a long, hooked stick that he is using to hook a goose around the neck. The caption reads, "GOOSE-RANCHER."] and make a lively break around the corner, with wings half
lifted and neck stretched to its utmost. Did the goose-merchant
get excited? No. He took his pole and reached after
that goose with unspeakable sang froid—took a hitch round his
neck, and “yanked” him back to his place in the flock without
an effort. He steered his geese with that stick as easily as
another man would steer a yawl. A few hours afterward we
saw him sitting on a stone at a corner, in the midst of the turmoil,
sound asleep in the sun, with his geese squatting around
him, or dodging out of the way of asses and men. We came


Page 361
by again, within the hour, and he was taking account of stock,
to see whether any of his flock had strayed or been stolen.
The way he did it was unique. He put the end of his stick
within six or eight inches of a stone wall, and made the geese
march in single file between it and the wall. He counted
them as they went by. There was no dodging that arrangement.

If you want dwarfs—I mean just a few dwarfs for a curiosity—go
to Genoa. If you wish to buy them by the gross,
for retail, go to Milan. There are plenty of dwarfs all over
Italy, but it did seem to me that in Milan the crop was luxuriant.
If you would see a fair average style of assorted cripples,
go to Naples, or travel through the Roman States. But
if you would see the very heart and home of cripples and
human monsters, both, go straight to Constantinople. A beggar
in Naples who can show a foot which has all run into one
horrible toe, with one shapeless nail on it, has a fortune—but
such an exhibition as that would not provoke any notice in
Constantinople. The man would starve. Who would pay
any attention to attractions like his among the rare monsters
that throng the bridges of the Golden Horn and display their
deformities in the gutters of Stamboul? O, wretched impostor!
How could he stand against the three-legged woman,
and the man with his eye in his cheek? How would he blush
in presence of the man with fingers on his elbow? Where
would he hide himself when the dwarf with seven fingers on
each hand, no upper lip, and his under-jaw gone, came down
in his majesty? Bismillah! The cripples of Europe are a
delusion and a fraud. The truly gifted flourish only in the
by-ways of Pera and Stamboul.

That three-legged woman lay on the bridge, with her stock
in trade so disposed as to command the most striking effect—
one natural leg, and two long, slender, twisted ones with feet
on them like somebody else's fore-arm. Then there was a
man further along who had no eyes, and whose face was the
color of a fly-blown beefsteak, and wrinkled and twisted like
a lava-flow—and verily so tumbled and distorted were his features


Page 362
that no man could tell the wart that served him for a
nose from his cheek-bones. In Stamboul was a man with a
prodigious head, an uncommonly long body, legs eight inches
long and feet like snow-shoes. He traveled on those feet and
his hands, and was as sway-backed as if the Colossus of Rhodes
had been riding him. Ah, a beggar has to have exceedingly
good points to make a living in Constantinople. A blue-faced
man, who had nothing to offer except that he had been blown
up in a mine, would be regarded as a rank impostor, and a
mere damaged soldier on crutches would never make a cent.
It would pay him to get a piece of his head taken off, and cultivate
a wen like a carpet sack.

The Mosque of St. Sophia is the chief lion of Constantinople.
You must get a firman and hurry there the first thing.
We did that. We did not get a firman, but we took along
four or five francs apiece, which is much the same thing.

I do not think much of the Mosque of St. Sophia. I suppose
I lack appreciation. We will let it go at that. It is the
rustiest old barn in heathendom. I believe all the interest
that attaches to it comes from the fact that it was built for a
Christian church and then turned into a mosque, without much
alteration, by the Mohammedan conquerors of the land. They
made me take off my boots and walk into the place in my
stocking-feet. I caught cold, and got myself so stuck up with
a complication of gums, slime and general corruption, that I
wore out more than two thousand pair of boot-jacks getting
my boots off that night, and even then some Christian hide
peeled off with them. I abate not a single boot-jack.

St. Sophia is a colossal church, thirteen or fourteen hundred
years old, and unsightly enough to be very, very much older.
Its immense dome is said to be more wonderful than St. Peter's,
but its dirt is much more wonderful than its dome, though
they never mention it. The church has a hundred and seventy
pillars in it, each a single piece, and all of costly marbles
of various kinds, but they came from ancient temples at Baalbec,
Heliopolis, Athens and Ephesus, and are battered, ugly
and repulsive. They were a thousand years old when this


Page 363
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 363. In-line Illustration. Image of the side of a building with an arcade and a sign in arabic on the corner of it. The caption reads, "ST. SOPHIA."] church was new, and then the contrast must have been ghastly—if
Justinian's architects did not trim them any. The
inside of the dome is figured all over with a monstrous inscription
in Turkish characters, wrought in gold mosaic, that looks
as glaring as a circus bill; the pavements and the marble balustrades
are all battered and dirty; the perspective is marred
every where by a web of ropes that depend from the dizzy
height of the dome, and suspend countless dingy, coarse oil
lamps, and ostrich-eggs, six or seven feet above the floor.
Squatting and sitting in groups, here and there and far and
near, were ragged Turks reading books, hearing sermons, or
receiving lessons like children, and in fifty places were more


Page 364
of the same sort bowing and straightening up, bowing again
and getting down to kiss the earth, muttering prayers the
while, and keeping up their gymnastics till they ought to have
been tired, if they were not.

Every where was dirt, and dust, and dinginess, and gloom;
every where were signs of a hoary antiquity, but with nothing
touching or beautiful about it; every where were those groups
of fantastic pagans; overhead the gaudy mosaics and the web
of lamp-ropes—nowhere was there any thing to win one's love
or challenge his admiration.

The people who go into ecstacies over St. Sophia must surely
get them out of the guide-book (where every church is spoken
of as being “considered by good judges to be the most marvelous
structure, in many respects, that the world has ever
seen.”) Or else they are those old connoisseurs from the wilds
of New Jersey who laboriously learn the difference between a
fresco and a fire-plug and from that day forward feel privileged
to void their critical bathos on painting, sculpture and
architecture forever more.

We visited the Dancing Dervishes. There were twenty-one
of them. They wore a long, light-colored loose robe that
hung to their heels. Each in his turn went up to the priest
(they were all within a large circular railing) and bowed profoundly
and then went spinning away deliriously and took his
appointed place in the circle, and continued to spin. When
all had spun themselves to their places, they were about five or
six feet apart—and so situated, the entire circle of spinning
pagans spun itself three separate times around the room. It
took twenty-five minutes to do it. They spun on the left foot,
and kept themselves going by passing the right rapidly before
it and digging it against the waxed floor. Some of them made
incredible “time.” Most of them spun around forty times in
a minute, and one artist averaged about sixty-one times a minute,
and kept it up during the whole twenty-five. His robe
filled with air and stood out all around him like a balloon.

They made no noise of any kind, and most of them tilted
their heads back and closed their eyes, entranced with a sort of


Page 365
devotional ecstacy. There was a rude kind of music, part of
the time, but the musicians were not visible. None but spinners
were allowed within the circle. A man had to either
spin or stay outside. It was about as barbarous an exhibition
as we have witnessed yet. Then sick persons came and lay
down, and beside them women laid their sick children (one a
babe at the breast,) and the patriarch of the Dervishes walked
upon their bodies. He was supposed to cure their diseases by
trampling upon their breasts or backs or standing on the back
of their necks. This is well enough for a people who think
all their affairs are made or marred by viewless spirits of
the air—by giants, gnomes, and genii—and who still believe,
to this day, all the wild tales in the Arabian Nights. Even so
an intelligent missionary tells me.

We visited the Thousand and One Columns. I do not know
what it was originally intended for, but they said it was built
for a reservoir. It is situated in the centre of Constantinople.
You go down a flight of stone steps in the middle of a barren
place, and there you are. You are forty feet under ground,
and in the midst of a perfect wilderness of tall, slender, granite
columns, of Byzantine architecture. Stand where you
would, or change your position as often as you pleased, you
were always a centre from which radiated a dozen long archways
and colonnades that lost themselves in distance and the
sombre twilight of the place. This old dried-up reservoir is
occupied by a few ghostly silk-spinners now, and one of them
showed me a cross cut high up in one of the pillars. I suppose
he meant me to understand that the institution was there
before the Turkish occupation, and I thought he made a remark
to that effect; but he must have had an impediment in
his speech, for I did not understand him.

We took off our shoes and went into the marble mausoleum
of the Sultan Mahmoud, the neatest piece of architecture, inside,
that I have seen lately. Mahmoud's tomb was covered
with a black velvet pall, which was elaborately embroidered
with silver; it stood within a fancy silver railing; at the sides
and corners were silver candlesticks that would weigh more


Page 366
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 366. In-line Illustration. Image of an ornately decorated mausoleum with a chandelier hanging above it. The caption reads, "TURKISH MAUSOLEUM."] than a hundred pounds, and they supported candles as large as
a man's leg; on the top of the sarcophagus was a fez, with a
handsome diamond ornamed upon it, which an attendant said
cost a hundred thousand pounds, and lied like a Turk when
he said it. Mahmoud's whole family were comfortably planted
around him.

We went to the great Bazaar in Stamboul, of course, and I
shall not describe it further than to say it is a monstrous hive
of little shops—thousands, I should say—all under one roof,
and cut up into innumerable little blocks by narrow streets
which are arched overhead. One street is devoted to a particular
kind of merchandise, another to another, and so on.


Page 367
When you wish to buy a pair of shoes you have the swing of
the whole street—you do not have to walk yourself down
hunting stores in different localities. It is the same with silks,
antiquities, shawls, etc. The place is crowded with people all
the time, and as the gay-colored Eastern fabrics are lavishly
displayed before every shop, the great Bazaar of Stamboul is
one of the sights that are worth seeing. It is full of life, and
stir, and business, dirt, beggars, asses, yelling peddlers, porters,
dervishes, high-born Turkish female shoppers, Greeks, and
weird-looking and weirdly dressed Mohammedans from the
mountains and the far provinces—and the only solitary thing
one does not smell when he is in the Great Bazaar, is something
which smells good.