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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






MOSQUES are plenty, churches are plenty, graveyards are
plenty, but morals and whiskey are scarce. The Koran
does not permit Mohammedans to drink. Their natural instincts
do not permit them to be moral. They say the Sultan
has eight hundred wives. This almost amounts to bigamy.
It makes our cheeks burn with shame to see such a thing permitted
here in Turkey. We do not mind it so much in Salt
Lake, however.

Circassian and Georgian girls are still sold in Constantinople
by their parents, but not publicly. The great slave marts
we have all read so much about—where tender young girls
were stripped for inspection, and criticised and discussed just
as if they were horses at an agricultural fair—no longer exist.
The exhibition and the sales are private now. Stocks are up,
just at present, partly because of a brisk demand created by
the recent return of the Sultan's suite from the courts of
Europe; partly on account of an unusual abundance of breadstuffs,
which leaves holders untortured by hunger and enables
them to hold back for high prices; and partly because buyers
are too weak to bear the market, while sellers are amply prepared
to bull it. Under these circumstances, if the American
metropolitan newspapers were published here in Constantinople,
their next commercial report would read about as follows,
I suppose:


“Best brands Circassians, crop of 1850, £200; 1852, £250; 1854, £300. Best
brands Georgian, none in marker; second quality, 1851, £180. Nineteen fair to


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middling Wallachian girls offered at £130 @ 150, but no takers; sixteen prime A 1
sold in small lots to close out—terms private.

“Sales of one lot Circassians, prime to good, 1852 to 1854, at £240 @ 242½, buyer
30; one forty-niner—damaged—at £23, seller ten, no deposit. Several Georgians,
fancy brands, 1852, changed hands to fill orders. The Georgians now on hand are
mostly last year's crop, which was unusually poor. The new crop is a little backward,
but will be coming in shortly. As regards its quantity and quality, the accounts
are most encouraging. In this connection we can safely say, also, that the
new crop of Circassians is looking extremely well. His Majesty the Sultan has
already sent in large orders for his new harem, which will be finished within a fortnight,
and this has naturally strengthened the market and given Circassian stock a
strong upward tendency. Taking advantage of the inflated market, many of our
shrewdest operators are selling short. There are hints of a “corner” on Wallachians.

“There is nothing new in Nubians. Slow sale.

“Eunuchs—None offering; however, large cargoes are expected from Egypt to-day.”

I think the above would be about the style of the commercial
report. Prices are pretty high now, and holders firm;
but, two or three years ago, parents in a starving condition
brought their young daughters down here and sold them for
even twenty and thirty dollars, when they could do no better,
simply to save themselves and the girls from dying of want.
It is sad to think of so distressing a thing as this, and I for one
am sincerely glad the prices are up again.

Commercial morals, especially, are bad. There is no gainsaying
that. Greek, Turkish and Armenian morals consist only
in attending church regularly on the appointed Sabbaths, and
in breaking the ten commandments all the balance of the week.
It comes natural to them to lie and cheat in the first place, and
then they go on and improve on nature until they arrive at
perfection. In recommending his son to a merchant as a valuable
salesman, a father does not say he is a nice, moral, upright
boy, and goes to Sunday School and is honest, but he
says, “This boy is worth his weight in broad pieces of a hundred—for
behold, he will cheat whomsoever hath dealings
with him, and from the Euxine to the waters of Marmora there
abideth not so gifted a liar!” How is that for a recommendation?
The Missionaries tell me that they hear encomiums like
that passed upon people every day. They say of a person they


Page 370
admire, “Ah, he is a charming swindler, and a most exquisite

Every body lies and cheats—every body who is in business,
at any rate. Even foreigners soon have to come down to the
custom of the country, and they do not buy and sell long in
Constantinople till they lie and cheat like a Greek. I say
like a Greek, because the Greeks are called the worst transgressors
in this line. Several Americans long resident in Constantinople
contend that most Turks are pretty trustworthy,
but few claim that the Greeks have any virtues that a man can
discover—at least without a fire assay.

I am half willing to believe that the celebrated dogs of Constantinople
have been misrepresented—slandered. I have
always been led to suppose that they were so thick in the
streets that they blocked the way; that they moved about in
organized companies, platoons and regiments, and took what
they wanted by determined and ferocious assault; and that at
night they drowned all other sounds with their terrible howlings.
The dogs I see here can not be those I have read of.

I find them every where, but not in strong force. The most
I have found together has been about ten or twenty. And
night or day a fair proportion of them were sound asleep.
Those that were not asleep always looked as if they wanted
to be. I never saw such utterly wretched, starving, sad-visaged,
broken-hearted looking curs in my life. It seemed a
grim satire to accuse such brutes as these of taking things by
force of arms. They hardly seemed to have strength enough
or ambition enough to walk across the street—I do not know
that I have seen one walk that far yet. They are mangy and
bruised and mutilated, and often you see one with the hair
singed off him in such wide and well defined tracts that he
looks like a map of the new Territories. They are the sorriest
beasts that breathe—the most abject—the most pitiful. In
their faces is a settled expression of melancholy, an air of hopeless
despondency. The hairless patches on a scalded dog are
preferred by the fleas of Constantinople to a wider range on a
healthier dog; and the exposed places suit the fleas exactly. I


Page 371
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 371. In-line Illustration. Image of a pack of thin dogs in the street. The caption reads, "SLANDERED DOGS."] saw a dog of this kind start to nibble at a flea—a fly attracted
his attention, and he made a snatch at him; the flea called for
him once more, and that forever unsettled him; he looked
sadly at his flea-pasture, then sadly looked at his bald spot.
Then he heaved a sigh and dropped his head resignedly upon
his paws. He was not equal to the situation.

The dogs sleep in the streets, all over the city. From one
end of the street to the other, I suppose they will average
about eight or ten to a block. Sometimes, of course, there are
fifteen or twenty to a block. They do not belong to any body,
and they seem to have no close personal friendships among each
other. But they district the city themselves, and the dogs of
each district, whether it be half a block in extent, or ten
blocks, have to remain within its bounds. Woe to a dog if he
crosses the line! His neighbors would snatch the balance of
his hair off in a second. So it is said. But they don't look it.

They sleep in the streets these days. They are my compass—my
guide. When I see the dogs sleep placidly on,
while men, sheep, geese, and all moving things turn out and
go around them, I know I am not in the great street where the
hotel is, and must go further. In the Grand Rue the dogs
have a sort of air of being on the lookout—an air born of being


Page 372
obliged to get out of the way of many carriages every
day—and that expression one recognizes in a moment. It
does not exist upon the face of any dog without the confines
of that street. All others sleep placidly and keep no watch.
They would not move, though the Sultan himself passed by.

In one narrow street (but none of them are wide) I saw three
dogs lying coiled up, about a foot or two apart. End to end
they lay, and so they just bridged the street neatly, from gutter
to gutter. A drove of a hundred sheep came along. They
stepped right over the dogs, the rear crowding the front, impatient
to get on. The dogs looked lazily up, flinched a little
when the impatient feet of the sheep touched their raw backs—
sighed, and lay peacefully down again. No talk could be
plainer than that. So some of the sheep jumped over them
and others scrambled between, occasionally chipping a leg with
their sharp hoofs, and when the whole flock had made the
trip, the dogs sneezed a little, in the cloud of dust, but never
budged their bodies an inch. I thought I was lazy, but I am
a steam-engine compared to a Constantinople dog. But was
not that a singular scene for a city of a million inhabitants?

These dogs are the scavengers of the city. That is their
official position, and a hard one it is. However, it is their
protection. But for their usefulness in partially cleansing
these terrible streets, they would not be tolerated long. They
eat any thing and every thing that comes in their way, from
melon rinds and spoiled grapes up through all the grades and
species of dirt and refuse to their own dead friends and relatives—and
yet they are always lean, always hungry, always
despondent. The people are loath to kill them—do not kill
them, in fact. The Turks have an innate antipathy to taking
the life of any dumb animal, it is said. But they do worse.
They hang and kick and stone and scald these wretched creatures
to the very verge of death, and then leave them to live
and suffer.

Once a Sultan proposed to kill off all the dogs here, and
did begin the work—but the populace raised such a howl of
horror about it that the massacre was stayed. After a while,


Page 373
he proposed to remove them all to an island in the Sea of Marmora.
No objection was offered, and a ship-load or so was
taken away. But when it came to be known that somehow or
other the dogs never got to the island, but always fell overboard
in the night and perished, another howl was raised and
the transportation scheme was dropped.

So the dogs remain in peaceable possession of the streets.
I do not say that they do not howl at night, nor that they do
not attack people who have not a red fez on their heads. I
only say that it would be mean for me to accuse them of these
unseemly things who have not seen them do them with my
own eyes or heard them with my own ears.

I was a little surprised to see Turks and Greeks playing
newsboy right here in the mysterious land where the giants
and genii of the Arabian Nights once dwelt—where winged
horses and hydra-headed dragons guarded enchanted castles—
where Princes and Princesses flew through the air on carpets
that obeyed a mystic talisman—where cities whose houses were
made of precious stones sprang up in a night under the hand
of the magician, and where busy marts were suddenly stricken
with a spell and each citizen lay or sat, or stood with weapon
raised or foot advanced, just as he was, speechless and motionless,
till time had told a hundred years!

It was curious to see newsboys selling papers in so dreamy a
land as that. And, to say truly, it is comparatively a new
thing here. The selling of newspapers had its birth in Constantinople
about a year ago, and was a child of the Prussian
and Austrian war.

There is one paper published here in the English language—
The Levant Herald—and there are generally a number
of Greek and a few French papers rising and falling, struggling
up and falling again. Newspapers are not popular with
the Sultan's Government. They do not understand journalism.
The proverb says, “The unknown is always great.”
To the court, the newspaper is a mysterious and rascally institution.
They know what a pestilence is, because they have
one occasionally that thins the people out at the rate of two


Page 374
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 374. In-line Illustration. Image of a man with a large beard who is wearing a turban and smoking from a hookah. He is reading a newspaper called "Levant Herald." The caption reads, "THE CENSOR ON DUTY."] thousand a day, and they regard a newspaper as a mild form
of pestilence. When it goes astray, they suppress it—pounce
upon it without warning, and throttle it. When it don't go
astray for along time, they get suspicious and throttle it anyhow,
because they think it is hatching deviltry. Imagine the Grand
Vizier in solemn council with the magnates of the realm,
spelling his way through the hated newspaper, and finally
delivering his profound decision: “This thing means mischief—it
is too darkly, too suspiciously inoffensive—suppress
it! Warn the publisher that we can not have this sort of
thing: put the editor in prison!”

The newspaper business has its inconveniences in Constantinople.
Two Greek papers and one French one were suppressed
here within a few days of each other. No victories of
the Cretans are allowed to be printed. From time to time the
Grand Vizier sends a notice to the various editors that the
Cretan insurrection is entirely suppressed, and although that


Page 375
editor knows better, he still has to print the notice. The Levant
is too fond of speaking praisefully of Americans
to be popular with the Sultan, who does not relish our sympathy
with the Cretans, and therefore that paper has to be particularly
circumspect in order to keep out of trouble. Once
the editor, forgetting the official notice in his paper that the
Cretans were crushed out, printed a letter of a very different
tenor, from the American Consul in Crete, and was fined two
hundred and fifty dollars for it. Shortly he printed another
from the same source and was imprisoned three months for his
pains. I think I could get the assistant editorship of the Levant
but I am going to try to worry along without it.

To suppress a paper here involves the ruin of the publisher,
almost. But in Naples I think they speculate on misfortunes
of that kind. Papers are suppressed there every day, and
spring up the next day under a new name. During the ten
days or a fortnight we staid there one paper was murdered and
resurrected twice. The newsboys are smart there, just as they
are elsewhere. They take advantage of popular weaknesses.
When they find they are not likely to sell out, they approach
a citizen mysteriously, and say in a low voice—“Last copy,
sir: double price; paper just been suppressed!” The man
buys it, of course, and finds nothing in it. They do say—I do
not vouch for it—but they do say that men sometimes print a
vast edition of a paper, with a ferociously seditious article in
it, distribute it quickly among the newsboys, and clear out till
the Government's indignation cools. It pays well. Confiscation
don't amount to anything. The type and presses are not
worth taking care of.

There is only one English newspaper in Naples. It has
seventy subscribers. The publisher is getting rich very deliberately—very
deliberately indeed.

I never shall want another Turkish lunch. The cooking apparatus
was in the little lunch room, near the bazaar, and it
was all open to the street. The cook was slovenly, and so was
the table, and it had no cloth on it. The fellow took a mass
of sausage-meat and coated it round a wire and laid it on a


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charcoal fire to cook. When it was done, he laid it aside
and a dog walked sadly in and nipped it. He smelt it first,
and probably recognized the remains of a friend. The cook
took it away from him and laid it before us. Jack said, “I
pass”—he plays euchre sometimes—and we all passed in turn.
Then the cook baked a broad, flat, wheaten cake, greased it
well with the sausage, and started towards us with it. It
dropped in the dirt, and he picked it up and polished it on his
breeches, and laid it before us. Jack said, “I pass.” We all
passed. He put some eggs in a frying pan, and stood pensively
prying slabs of meat from between his teeth with a fork.
Then he used the fork to turn the eggs with—and brought
them along. Jack said “Pass again.” All followed suit.
We did not know what to do, and so we ordered a new ration
of sausage. The cook got out his wire, apportioned a
proper amount of sausage-meat, spat it on his hands and fell
to work! This time, with one accord, we all passed out. We
paid and left. That is all I learned about Turkish lunches. A
Turkish lunch is good, no doubt, but it has its little drawbacks.

When I think how I have been swindled by books of Oriental
travel, I want a tourist for breakfast. For years and years I
have dreamed of the wonders of the Turkish bath; for years
and years I have promised myself that I would yet enjoy one.
Many and many a time, in fancy, I have lain in the marble
bath, and breathed the slumbrous fragrance of Eastern spices
that filled the air; then passed through a weird and complicated
system of pulling and hauling, and drenching and scrubbing,
by a gang of naked savages who loomed vast and vaguely
through the steaming mists, like demons; then rested for a
while on a divan fit for a king; then passed through another
complex ordeal, and one more fearful than the first; and,
finally, swathed in soft fabrics, been conveyed to a princely saloon
and laid on a bed of eider down, where eunuchs, gorgeous
of costume, fanned me while I drowsed and dreamed, or contentedly
gazed at the rich hangings of the apartment, the soft
carpets, the sumptuous furniture, the pictures, and drank delicious


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coffee, smoked the soothing narghili, and dropped, at the
last, into tranquil repose, lulled by sensuous odors from unseen
censers, by the gentle influence of the narghili's Persian
tobacco, and by the music of fountains that counterfeited the
pattering of summer rain.

That was the picture, just as I got it from incendiary books
of travel. It was a poor, miserable imposture. The reality
is no more like it than the Five Points are like the Garden of
Eden. They received me in a great court, paved with marble
slabs; around it were broad galleries, one above another, carpeted
with seedy matting, railed with unpainted balustrades,
and furnished with huge rickety chairs, cushioned with rusty
old mattresses, indented with impressions left by the forms of
nine successive generations of men who had reposed upon them.
The place was vast, naked, dreary; its court a barn, its galleries
stalls for human horses. The cadaverous, half nude varlets
that served in the establishment had nothing of poetry in
their appearance, nothing of romance, nothing of Oriental
splendor. They shed no entrancing odors—just the contrary.
Their hungry eyes and their lank forms continually suggested
one glaring, unsentimental fact—they wanted what they term
in California “a square meal.”

I went into one of the racks and undressed. An unclean
starveling wrapped a gaudy table-cloth about his loins, and
hung a white rag over my shoulders. If I had had a tub then,
it would have come natural to me to take in washing. I was
then conducted down stairs into the wet, slippery court, and
the first things that attracted my attention were my heels. My
fall excited no comment. They expected it, no doubt. It
belonged in the list of softening, sensuous influences peculiar
to this home of Eastern luxury. It was softening enough, certainly,
but its application was not happy. They now gave me
a pair of wooden clogs—benches in miniature, with leather
straps over them to confine my feet (which they would have
done, only I do not wear No. 13s.) These things dangled uncomfortably
by the straps when I lifted up my feet, and came
down in awkward and unexpected places when I put them on


Page 378
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 378. In-line Illustration. Image of a man wrapped in a sheet and wearing platform sandals being led to a low couch by a darker-skinned man. The caption reads, "TURKISH BATH."] the floor again, and sometimes turned sideways and wrenched
my ankles out of joint. However, it was all Oriental luxury,
and I did what I could to enjoy it.

They put me in another part of the barn and laid me on a
stuffy sort of pallet, which was not made of cloth of gold, or
Persian shawls, but was merely the unpretending sort of thing
I have seen in the negro quarters of Arkansas. There was
nothing whatever in this dim marble prison but five more of
these biers. It was a very solemn place. I expected that the
spiced odors of Araby were going to steal over my senses now,
but they did not. A copper-colored skeleton, with a rag


Page 379
around him, brought me a glass decanter of water, with a
lighted tobacco pipe in the top of it, and a pliant stem a yard
long, with a brass mouth-piece to it.

It was the famous “narghili” of the East—the thing the
Grand Turk smokes in the pictures. This began to look like
luxury. I took one blast at it, and it was sufficient; the smoke
went in a great volume down into my stomach, my lungs,
even into the uttermost parts of my frame. I exploded one
mighty cough, and it was as if Vesuvius had let go. For the
next five minutes I smoked at every pore, like a frame house
that is on fire on the inside. Not any more narghili for me.
The smoke had a vile taste, and the taste of a thousand infidel
tongues that remained on that brass mouthpiece was viler still.
I was getting discouraged. Whenever, hereafter, I see the
cross-legged Grand Turk smoking his narghili, in pretended
bliss, on the outside of a paper of Connecticut tobacco, I shall
know him for the shameless humbug he is.

This prison was filled with hot air. When I had got
warmed up sufficiently to prepare me for a still warmer temperature,
they took me where it was—into a marble room,
wet, slippery and steamy, and laid me out on a raised platform
in the centre. It was very warm. Presently my man sat me
down by a tank of hot water, drenched me well, gloved his
hand with a coarse mitten, and began to polish me all over
with it. I began to smell diagreeably. The more he polished
the worse I smelt. It was alarming. I said to him:

“I perceive that I am pretty far gone. It is plain that I
ought to be buried without any unnecessary delay. Perhaps
you had better go after my friends at once, because the weather
is warm, and I can not `keep' long' ”

He went on scrubbing, and paid no attention. I soon saw
that he was reducing my size. He bore hard on his mitten,
and from under it rolled little cylinders, like maccaroni. It
could not be dirt, for it was too white. He pared me down in
this way for a long time. Finally I said:

“It is a tedious process. It will take hours to trim me to
the size you want me; I will wait; go and borrow a jack-plane.”


Page 380

He paid no attention at all.

After a while he brought a basin, some soap, and something
that seemed to be the tail of a horse. He made up a prodigious
quantity of soap-suds, deluged me with them from head
to foot, without warning me to shut my eyes, and then swabbed
me viciously with the horse-tail. Then he left me there, a
snowy statue of lather, and went away. When I got tired of
waiting I went and hunted him up. He was propped against
the wall, in another room, asleep. I woke him. He was not
disconcerted. He took me back and flooded me with hot water,
then turbaned my head, swathed me with dry table-cloths,
and conducted me to a latticed chicken-coop in one of the galleries,
and pointed to one of those Arkansas beds. I mounted
it, and vaguely expected the odors of Araby again. They did
not come.

The blank, unornamented coop had nothing about it of that
oriental voluptuousness one reads of so much. It was more
suggestive of the county hospital than any thing else. The
skinny servitor brought a narghili, and I got him to take it out
again without wasting any time about it. Then he brought
the world-renowned Turkish coffee that poets have sung so
rapturously for many generations, and I seized upon it as the
last hope that was left of my old dreams of Eastern luxury.
It was another fraud. Of all the unchristian beverages that
ever passed my lips, Turkish coffee is the worst. The cup is
small, it is smeared with grounds; the coffee is black, thick,
unsavory of smell, and execrable in taste. The bottom of the
cup has a muddy sediment in it half an inch deep. This goes
down your throat, and portions of it lodge by the way, and
produce a tickling aggravation that keeps you barking and
coughing for an hour.

Here endeth my experience of the celebrated Turkish bath,
and here also endeth my dream of the bliss the mortal revels
in who passes through it. It is a malignant swindle. The man
who enjoys it is qualified to enjoy any thing that is repulsive
to sight or sense, and he that can invest it with a charm of
poetry is able to do the same with any thing else in the world
that is tedious, and wretched, and dismal, and nasty.