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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






[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. [Page 445]. In-line Illustration. Image of a farming implement of some sort. The caption reads, "AN OLD FOGY."]

WE had a tedious ride of about five hours, in the sun,
across the Valley of Lebanon. It proved to be not
quite so much of a garden as it had seemed from the hill-sides.
It was a desert, weed-grown waste, littered thickly with stones
the size of a man's fist. Here and there the natives had
scratched the ground and reared a sickly crop of grain, but
for the most part the valley was given up to a handful of shepherds,
whose flocks were doing what they honestly could to
get a living, but the chances were against them. We saw
rude piles of stones standing near the roadside, at intervals,
and recognized the custom of marking boundaries which obtained
in Jacob's time. There were no walls, no fences, no
hedges—nothing to secure a man's possessions but these random
heaps of stones. The Israelites held them sacred in the
old patriarchal times, and these other Arabs, their lineal descendants,
do so likewise. An American, of ordinary intelligence,
would soon widely extend his property, at an outlay of
mere manual labor, performed
at night, under so
loose a system of fencing
as this.

The plows these people
use are simply a sharpened
stick, such as Abraham plowed with, and they still winnow
their wheat as he did—they pile it on the house-top, and
then toss it by shovel-fulls into the air until the wind has


Page 446
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 446. In-line Illustration. Image of a man on horseback and a man on camelback racing in the desert. The caption reads, "RACE WITH CAMEL."] blown all the chaff away. They never invent any thing, never
learn any thing.

We had a fine race, of a mile, with an Arab perched on a
camel. Some of the horses were fast, and made very good
time, but the camel scampered by them without any very
great effort. The yelling and shouting, and whipping and
galloping, of all parties interested, made it an exhilarating,
exciting, and particularly boisterous race.

At eleven o'clock, our eyes fell upon the walls and columns
of Baalbec, a noble ruin whose history is a sealed book. It
has stood there for thousands of years, the wonder and admiration
of travelers; but who built it, or when it was built, are
questions that may never be answered. One thing is very
sure, though. Such grandeur of design, and such grace of
execution, as one sees in the temples of Baalbec, have not


Page 447
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 447. In-line Illustration. Image of six columns standing in a row. The caption reads, "TEMPLE OF THE SUN, BAALBEC."] been equaled or even approached in any work of men's hands
that has been built within twenty centuries past.

The great Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Jupiter, and
several smaller temples, are clustered together in the midst of
one of these miserable Syrian villages, and look strangely
enough in such plebeian company. These temples are built
upon massive substructions that might support a world, almost;
the materials used are blocks of stone as large as an omnibus
—very few, if any of them, are smaller than a carpenter's tool
chest—and these substructions are traversed by tunnels of
masonry through which a train of cars might pass. With
such foundations as these, it is little wonder that Baalbec has
lasted so long. The
Temple of the Sun is
nearly three hundred
feet long and one
hundred and sixty feet
wide. It had fifty-four
columns around
it, but only six are
standing now—the
others lie broken at
its base, a confused
and picturesque heap.
The six columns are
perfect, as also are
their bases, Corinthian
capitals and entablature—and
six more
shapely columns do
not exist. The columns
and the entablature
together are
ninety feet high—a
prodigious altitude for
shafts of stone to reach, truly—and yet one only thinks of
their beauty and symmetry when looking at them; the pillars


Page 448
look slender and delicate, the entablature, with its elaborate
sculpture, looks like rich stucco-work. But when you have
gazed aloft till your eyes are weary, you glance at the great
fragments of pillars among which you are standing, and find
that they are eight feet through; and with them lie beautiful
capitals apparently as large as a small cottage; and also single
slabs of stone, superbly sculptured, that are four or five feet
thick, and would completely cover the floor of any ordinary
parlor. You wonder where these monstrous things came
from, and it takes some little time to satisfy yourself that the
airy and graceful fabric that towers above your head is made
up of their mates. It seems too preposterous.

The Temple of Jupiter is a smaller ruin than the one I have
been speaking of, and yet is immense. It is in a tolerable
state of preservation. One row of nine columns stands almost
uninjured. They are sixty-five feet high and support a sort of
porch or roof, which connects them with the roof of the building.
This porch-roof is composed of tremendous slabs of stone,
which are so finely sculptured on the under side that the work
looks like a fresco from below. One or two of these slabs had
fallen, and again I wondered if the gigantic masses of carved
stone that lay about me were no larger than those above my
head. Within the temple, the ornamentation was elaborate
and colossal. What a wonder of architectural beauty and
grandeur this edifice must have been when it was new! And
what a noble picture it and its statelier companion, with the
chaos of mighty fragments scattered about them, yet makes in
the moonlight!

I can not conceive how those immense blocks of stone were
ever hauled from the quarries, or how they were ever raised to
the dizzy heights they occupy in the temples. And yet these
sculptured blocks are trifles in size compared with the rough-hewn
blocks that form the wide verandah or platform which
surrounds the Great Temple. One stretch of that platform,
two hundred feet long, is composed of blocks of stone as large,
and some of them larger, than a street-car. They surmount a
wall about ten or twelve feet high. I thought those were


Page 449
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 449. In-line Illustration. Image of a ruined city. The caption reads, "RUINS OF BAALBEC."] large rocks, but they sank into insignificance compared with
those which formed another section of the platform. These
were three in number, and I thought that each of them was
about as long as three street cars placed end to end, though of
course they are a third wider and a third higher than a street
car. Perhaps two railway freight cars of the largest pattern,
placed end to end, might better represent their size. In combined
length these three stones stretch nearly two hundred
feet; they are thirteen feet square; two of them are sixty-four
feet long each, and the third is sixty-nine. They are built
into the massive wall some twenty feet above the ground.
They are there, but how they got there is the question. I
have seen the hull of a steamboat that was smaller than one
of those stones. All these great walls are as exact and shapely
as the flimsy things we build of bricks in these days. A race


Page 450
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 450. In-line Illustration. Image of a large block of stone. The caption reads, "HEWN STONES—IN QUARRY."] of gods or of giants must have inhabited Baalbec many a century
ago. Men like the men of our day could hardly rear such
temples as these.

We went to the quarry from whence the stones of Baalbec
were taken. It was about a quarter of a mile off, and down
hill. In a great pit lay the mate of the largest stone in the
ruins. It lay there just as the giants of that old forgotten
time had left it when they were called hence—just as they had
left it, to remain for thousands of years, an eloquent rebuke
unto such as are prone to think slightingly of the men who
lived before them. This enormous block lies there, squared
and ready for the builders' hands—a solid mass fourteen feet
by seventeen, and but a few inches less than seventy feet long!
Two buggies could be driven abreast of each other, on its surface,


Page 451
from one end of it to the other, and leave room enough
for a man or two to walk on either side.

One might swear that all the John Smiths and George Wilkinsons,
and all the other pitiful nobodies between Kingdom
Come and Baalbec would inscribe their poor little names upon
the walls of Baalbec's magnificent ruins, and would add the
town, the county and the State they came from—and swearing
thus, be infallibly correct. It is a pity some great ruin
does not fall in and flatten out some of these reptiles, and
scare their kind out of ever giving their names to fame upon
any walls or monuments again, forever.

Properly, with the sorry relics we bestrode, it was a three
days' journey to Damascus. It was necessary that we should
do it in less than two. It was necessary because our three
pilgrims would not travel on the Sabbath day. We were all
perfectly willing to keep the Sabbath day, but there are times
when to keep the letter of a sacred law whose spirit is righteous,
becomes a sin, and this was a case in point. We pleaded for
the tired, ill-treated horses, and tried to show that their faithful
service deserved kindness in return, and their hard lot
compassion. But when did ever self-righteousness know the
sentiment of pity? What were a few long hours added to the
hardships of some over-taxed brutes when weighed against the
peril of those human souls? It was not the most promising
party to travel with and hope to gain a higher veneration for
religion through the example of its devotees. We said the
Saviour who pitied dumb beasts and taught that the ox must
be rescued from the mire even on the Sabbath day, would not
have counseled a forced march like this. We said the “long
trip” was exhausting and therefore dangerous in the blistering
heats of summer, even when the ordinary days' stages were
traversed, and if we persisted in this hard march, some of us
might be stricken down with the fevers of the country in consequence
of it. Nothing could move the pilgrims. They
must press on. Men might die, horses might die, but they
must enter upon holy soil next week, with no Sabbath-breaking
stain upon them. Thus they were willing to commit a sin


Page 452
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 452. In-line Illustration. Image of people riding horses up a steep hill. One person is walking his horse. The caption reads, "MERCY."] against the spirit of religious law, in order that they might
preserve the letter of it. It was not worth while to tell them
“the letter kills.” I am talking now about personal friends;
men whom I like; men who are good citizens; who are honorable,
upright, conscientious; but whose idea of the Saviour's
religion seems to me distorted. They lecture our shortcomings
unsparingly, and every night they call us together and read to
us chapters from the Testament that are full of gentleness, of
charity, and of tender mercy; and then all the next day they
stick to their saddles clear up to the summits of these rugged
mountains, and clear down again. Apply the Testament's
gentleness, and charity, and tender mercy to a toiling, worn
and weary horse?—Nonsense—these are for God's human
creatures, not His dumb ones. What the pilgrims choose to
do, respect for their almost sacred character demands that I
should allow to pass—but I would so like to catch any other
member of the party riding his horse up one of these exhausting
hills once!

We have given the pilgrims a good many examples that
might benefit them, but it is virtue thrown away. They have


Page 453
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 453. In-line Illustration. Image of a little donkey. The caption reads, "PATRON SAINT."] never heard a cross word out of our lips toward each other—
but they have quarreled once or twice. We love to hear them
at it, after they have been lecturing us. The very first thing
they did, coming ashore at Beirout, was to quarrel in the boat.
I have said I like them, and I do like them—but every time
they read me a scorcher of a lecture I mean to talk back in print.

Not content with doubling the legitimate stages, they
switched off the main road
and went away out of the
way to visit an absurd
fountain called Figia, because
Baalam's ass had
drank there once. So we
journeyed on, through the
terrible hills and deserts
and the roasting sun, and
then far into the night,
seeking the honored pool
of Baalam's ass, the patron
saint of all pilgrims like us. I find no entry but this in my

“Rode to-day, altogether, thirteen hours, through deserts, partly, and partly over
barren, unsightly hills, and latterly through wild, rocky scenery, and camped at
about eleven o'clock at night on the banks of a limpid stream, near a Syrian village.
Do not know its name—do not wish to know it—want to go to bed. Two horses
lame (mine and Jack's) and the others worn out. Jack and I walked three or four
miles, over the hills, and led the horses. Fun—but of a mild type.”

Twelve or thirteen hours in the saddle, even in a Christian
land and a Christian climate, and on a good horse, is a tiresome
journey; but in an oven like Syria, in a ragged spoon of
a saddle that slips fore-and-aft, and “thort-ships,” and every
way, and on a horse that is tired and lame, and yet must be
whipped and spurred with hardly a moment's cessation all day
long, till the blood comes from his side, and your conscience
hurts you every time you strike, if you are half a man,—it is a
journey to be remembered in bitterness of spirit and execrated
with emphasis for a liberal division of a man's lifetime.