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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






WE inquired, and learned that the lions of Smyrna consisted
of the ruins of the ancient citadel, whose broken
and prodigious battlements frown upon the city from a lofty
hill just in the edge of the town—the Mount Pagus of
Scripture, they call it; the site of that one of the Seven
Apocalyptic Churches of Asia which was located here in
the first century of the Christian era; and the grave and
the place of martyrdom of the venerable Polycarp, who
suffered in Smyrna for his religion some eighteen hundred
years ago.

We took little donkeys and started. We saw Polycarp's
tomb, and then hurried on.

The “Seven Churches”—thus they abbreviate it—came
next on the list. We rode there—about a mile and a half in
the sweltering sun—and visited a little Greek church which
they said was built upon the ancient site; and we paid a small
fee, and the holy attendant gave each of us a little wax candle
as a remembrancer of the place, and I put mine in my hat
and the sun melted it and the grease all ran down the back of
my neck; and so now I have not any thing left but the wick,
and it is a sorry and a wilted-looking wick at that.

Several of us argued as well as we could that the “church”
mentioned in the Bible meant a party of Christians, and not a
building; that the Bible spoke of them as being very poor—
so poor, I thought, and so subject to persecution (as per Polycarp's
martyrdom) that in the first place they probably could


Page 413
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 413. In-line Illustration. Image of a seaside town with the harbor in the foreground and a mountain in the background. The caption reads, "SMYRNA."] not have afforded a church edifice, and in the second would
not have dared to build it in the open light of day if they
could; and finally, that if they had had the privilege of building
it, common judgment would have suggested that they
build it somewhere near the town. But the elders of the
ship's family ruled us down and scouted our evidences. However,
retribution came to them afterward. They found that
they had been led astray and had gone to the wrong place; they
discovered that the accepted site is in the city.

Riding through the town, we could see marks of the six
Smyrnas that have existed here and been burned up by fire or
knocked down by earthquakes. The hills and the rocks are
rent asunder in places, excavations expose great blocks of
building-stone that have lain buried for ages, and all the mean
houses and walls of modern Smyrna along the way are spotted
white with broken pillars, capitals and fragments of sculptured
marble that once adorned the lordly palaces that were the
glory of the city in the olden time.


Page 414

The ascent of the hill of the citadel is very steep, and we
proceeded rather slowly. But there were matters of interest
about us. In one place, five hundred feet above the sea, the
perpendicular bank on the upper side of the road was ten or
fifteen feet high, and the cut exposed three veins of oyster
shells, just as we have seen quartz veins exposed in the cutting
of a road in Nevada or Montana. The veins were about
eighteen inches thick and two or three feet apart, and they
slanted along downward for a distance of thirty feet or more, and
then disappeared where the cut joined the road. Heaven only
knows how far a man might trace them by “stripping.” They
were clean, nice oyster shells, large, and just like any other
oyster shells. They were thickly massed together, and none
were scattered above or below the veins. Each one was a
well-defined lead by itself, and without a spur. My first instinct
was to set up the usual—


“We, the undersigned, claim five claims of two hundred feet each, (and one for
discovery,) on this ledge or lode of oyster-shells, with all its dips, spurs, angles, variations
and sinuosities, and fifty feet on each side of the same, to work it, etc., etc.,
according to the mining laws of Smyrna.”

They were such perfectly natural-looking leads that I could
hardly keep from “taking them up.” Among the oyster-shells
were mixed many fragments of ancient, broken crockery ware.
Now how did those masses of oyster-shells get there? I can
not determine. Broken crockery and oyster-shells are suggestive
of restaurants—but then they could have had no such
places away up there on that mountain side in our time, because
nobody has lived up there. A restaurant would not pay
in such a stony, forbidding, desolate place. And besides, there
were no champagne corks among the shells. If there ever was
a restaurant there, it must have been in Smyrna's palmy days,
when the hills were covered with palaces. I could believe in
one restaurant, on those terms; but then how about the three?
Did they have restaurants there at three different periods of
the world?—because there are two or three feet of solid earth


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between the oyster leads. Evidently, the restaurant solution
will not answer.

The hill might have been the bottom of the sea, once, and
been lifted up, with its oyster-beds, by an earthquake—but,
then, how about the crockery? And moreover, how about
three oyster beds, one above another, and thick strata of good
honest earth between?

That theory will not do. It is just possible that this hill is
Mount Ararat, and that Noah's Ark rested here, and he ate
oysters and threw the shells overboard. But that will not do,
either. There are the three layers again and the solid earth
between—and, besides, there were only eight in Noah's family,
and they could not have eaten all these oysters in the two or
three months they staid on top of that mountain. The
beasts—however, it is simply absurd to suppose he did not
know any more than to feed the beasts on oyster suppers.

It is painful—it is even humiliating—but I am reduced
at last to one slender theory: that the oysters climbed up there
of their own accord. But what object could they have had in
view?—what did they want up there? What could any oyster
want to climb a hill for? To climb a hill must necessarily
be fatiguing and annoying exercise for an oyster. The most
natural conclusion would be that the oysters climbed up there
to look at the scenery. Yet when one comes to reflect upon
the nature of an oyster, it seems plain that he does not care
for scenery. An oyster has no taste for such things; he cares
nothing for the beautiful. An oyster is of a retiring disposition,
and not lively—not even cheerful above the average, and
never enterprising. But above all, an oyster does not take any
interest in scenery—he scorns it. What have I arrived at
now? Simply at the point I started from, namely, those oyster
shells are there,
in regular layers, five hundred feet above the
sea, and no man knows how they got there. I have hunted
up the guide-books, and the gist of what they say is this:
“They are there, but how they got there is a mystery.”

Twenty-five years ago, a multitude of people in America
put on their ascension robes, took a tearful leave of their


Page 416
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 416. In-line Illustration. Image of people crowded onto two hilltops. There are clouds swirling around the hills, and three shafts of sunlight coming from above. The caption reads, "AN APPARENT SUCCESS."] friends, and made ready to fly up into heaven at the first blast
of the trumpet. But the angel did not blow it. Miller's resurrection
day was a failure. The Millerites were disgusted.
I did not suspect that there were Millers in Asia Minor, but a
gentleman tells me that they had it all set for the world to
come to an end in Smyrna one day about three years ago.
There was much buzzing and preparation for a long time previously,
and it culminated
in a wild excitement at the
appointed time. A vast
number of the populace ascended
the citadel hill early
in the morning, to get out
of the way of the general destruction, and many of the infatuated
closed up their shops and retired from all earthly business.
But the strange part of it was that about three in the
afternoon, while this gentleman and his friends were at dinner
in the hotel, a terrific storm of rain, accompanied by thunder and
lightning, broke forth and continued with dire fury for two or
three hours. It was a thing unprecedented in Smyrna at that
time of the year, and scared some of the most skeptical. The


Page 417
streets ran rivers and the hotel floor was flooded with water.
The dinner had to be suspended. When the storm finished
and left every body drenched through and through, and melancholy
and half-drowned, the ascensionists came down from
the mountain as dry as so many charity-sermons! They had
been looking down upon the fearful storm going on below,
and really believed that their proposed destruction of the world
was proving a grand success.

A railway here in Asia—in the dreamy realm of the Orient—in
the fabled land of the Arabian Nights—is a strange
thing to think of. And yet they have one already, and are
building another. The present one is well built and well conducted,
by an English Company, but is not doing an immense
amount of business. The first year it carried a good many
passengers, but its freight list only comprised eight hundred
pounds of figs!

It runs almost to the very gates of Ephesus—a town great in
all ages of the world—a city familiar to readers of the Bible,
and one which was as old as the very hills when the disciples
of Christ preached in its streets. It dates back to the shadowy
ages of tradition, and was the birthplace of gods renowned in
Grecian mythology. The idea of a locomotive tearing through
such a place as this, and waking the phantoms of its old days
of romance out of their dreams of dead and gone centuries, is
curious enough.

We journey thither to-morrow to see the celebrated ruins.