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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






ABOUT an hour's ride over a rough, rocky road, half
flooded with water, and through a forest of oaks of
Bashan, brought us to Dan.

From a little mound here in the plain issues a broad stream
of limpid water and forms a large shallow pool, and then
rushes furiously onward, augmented in volume. This puddle
is an important source of the Jordan. Its banks, and those of
the brook are respectably adorned with blooming oleanders,
but the unutterable beauty of the spot will not throw a well-balanced
man into convulsions, as the Syrian books of travel
would lead one to suppose.

From the spot I am speaking of, a cannon-ball would carry
beyond the confines of Holy Land and light upon profane
ground three miles away. We were only one little hour's
travel within the borders of Holy Land—we had hardly begun
to appreciate yet that we were standing upon any different
sort of earth than that we had always been used to, and yet
see how the historic names began already to cluster! Dan—
Bashan—Lake Huleh—the Sources of Jordan—the Sea of
Galilee. They were all in sight but the last, and it was not
far away. The little township of Bashan was once the kingdom
so famous in Scripture for its bulls and its oaks. Lake Huleh
is the Biblical “Waters of Merom.” Dan was the northern
and Beersheba the southern limit of Palestine—hence the
expression “from Dan to Beersheba.” It is equivalent to our
phrases “from Maine to Texas”—“from Baltimore to San
Francisco.” Our expression and that of the Israelites both


Page 479
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 479. In-line Illustration. Image of a large oak tree with people sitting under it. The caption reads, "OAK OF BASHAN."] mean the same—great distance. With their slow camels and
asses, it was about a seven days' journey from Dan to Beersheba—say
a hundred and fifty or sixty miles—it was the
entire length
of their country,
and was
not to be undertaken

without great
and much ceremony.
the Prodigal
traveled to “a
far country,”
it is not likely
that he went
more than
eighty or ninety miles. Palestine is only from forty to sixty
miles wide. The State of Missouri could be split into three
Palestines, and there would then be enough material left for
part of another—possibly a whole one. From Baltimore to
San Francisco is several thousand miles, but it will be only a
seven days' journey in the cars when I am two or three years
older.[1] If I live I shall necessarily have to go across the continent
every now and then in those cars, but one journey from
Dan to Beersheba will be sufficient, no doubt. It must be the
most trying of the two. Therefore, if we chance to discover
that from Dan to Beersheba seemed a mighty stretch of country
to the Israelites, let us not be airy with them, but reflect
that it was and is a mighty stretch when one can not traverse
it by rail.

The small mound I have mentioned a while ago was once
occupied by the Phenician city of Laish. A party of filibusters
from Zorah and Eschol captured the place, and lived there


Page 480
in a free and easy way, worshiping gods of their own manufacture
and stealing idols from their neighbors whenever they
wore their own out. Jeroboam set up a golden calf here to
fascinate his people and keep them from making dangerous
trips to Jerusalem to worship, which might result in a return to
their rightful allegiance. With all respect for those ancient
Israelites, I can not overlook the fact that they were not
always virtuous enough to withstand the seductions of a
golden calf. Human nature has not changed much since

Some forty centuries ago the city of Sodom was pillaged by
the Arab princes of Mesopotamia, and among other prisoners
they seized upon the patriarch Lot and brought him here on
their way to their own possessions. They brought him to
Dan, and father Abraham, who was pursuing them, crept
softly in at dead of night, among the whispering oleanders
and under the shadows of the stately oaks, and fell upon the
slumbering victors and startled them from their dreams with
the clash of steel. He recaptured Lot and all the other

We moved on. We were now in a green valley, five or six
miles wide and fifteen long. The streams which are called
the sources of the Jordan flow through it to Lake Huleh, a
shallow pond three miles in diameter, and from the southern
extremity of the Lake the concentrated Jordan flows out.
The Lake is surrounded by a broad marsh, grown with reeds,
Between the marsh and the mountains which wall the valley
is a respectable strip of fertile land; at the end of the valley,
toward Dan, as much as half the land is solid and fertile, and
watered by Jordan's sources. There is enough of it to make a
farm. It almost warrants the enthusiasm of the spies of that
rabble of adventurers who captured Dan. They said: “We
have seen the land, and behold it is very good. * * * A
place where there is no want of any thing that is in the

Their enthusiasm was at least warranted by the fact that
they had never seen a country as good as this. There was


Page 481
enough of it for the ample support of their six hundred men
and their families, too.

When we got fairly down on the level part of the Danite
farm, we came to places where we could actually run our
horses. It was a notable circumstance.

We had been painfully clambering over interminable hills
and rocks for days together, and when we suddenly came
upon this astonishing piece of rockless plain, every man drove
the spurs into his horse and sped away with a velocity he
could surely enjoy to the utmost, but could never hope to
comprehend in Syria.

Here were evidences of cultivation—a rare sight in this
country—an acre or two of rich soil studded with last season's
dead corn-stalks of the thickness of your thumb and very wide
apart. But in such a land it was a thrilling spectacle. Close
to it was a stream, and on its banks a great herd of curious-looking
Syrian goats and sheep were gratefully eating gravel.
I do not state this as a petrified fact—I only suppose they were
eating gravel, because there did not appear to be any thing
else for them to eat. The shepherds that tended them were
the very pictures of Joseph and his brethren I have no doubt
in the world. They were tall, muscular, and very dark-skinned
Bedouins, with inky black beards. They had firm
lips, unquailing eyes, and a kingly stateliness of bearing.
They wore the parti-colored half bonnet, half hood, with
fringed ends falling upon their shoulders, and the full, flowing
robe barred with broad black stripes—the dress one sees in all
pictures of the swarthy sons of the desert. These chaps would
sell their younger brothers if they had a chance, I think.
They have the manners, the customs, the dress, the occupation
and the loose principles of the ancient stock. [They attacked
our camp last night, and I bear them no good will.] They
had with them the pigmy jackasses one sees all over Syria and
remembers in all pictures of the “Flight into Egypt,” where
Mary and the Young Child are riding and Joseph is walking
alongside, towering high above the little donkey's shoulders.

But really, here the man rides and carries the child, as a


Page 482
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 482. In-line Illlustration. Image of man with a ragged beard and tattered robes. He is carrying a long rifle. The caption reads, "DANGEROUS ARAB."] general thing, and the woman walks. The customs have not
changed since Joseph's time. We would not have in our
houses a picture representing Joseph riding and Mary walking;
we would see profanation in it, but a Syrian Christian
would not. I know that hereafter the picture I first spoke of
will look odd to me.

We could not stop to rest two or three hours out from our
camp, of course, albeit the brook was beside us. So we went
on an hour longer. We saw water, then, but nowhere in all
the waste around was there a foot of shade, and we were
scorching to death. “Like unto the shadow of a great rock
in a weary land.” Nothing in the Bible is more beautiful
than that, and surely there is no place we have wandered to
that is able to give it such touching expression as this blistering,
naked, treeless land.

Here you do not stop just when you please, but when you
can. We found water, but no
shade. We traveled on and found
a tree at last, but no water. We
rested and lunched, and came on
to this place, Ain Mellahah (the
boys call it Baldwinsville.) It
was a very short day's run, but
the dragoman does not want to
go further, and has invented a
plausible lie about the country
beyond this being infested by ferocious
Arabs, who would make
sleeping in their midst a dangerous
pastime. Well, they ought
to be dangerous. They carry a
rusty old weather-beaten flintlock
gun, with a barrel that is
longer than themselves; it has no sights on it; it will not
carry farther than a brickbat, and is not half so certain. And
the great sash they wear in many a fold around their waists
has two or three absurd old horse-pistols in it that are rusty


Page 483
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 483. In-line Illustration. Image of a man with a revolver riding his horse towards a group of men on horseback in the distance. The caption reads, "GRIMES ON THE WAR PATH."] from eternal disuse—weapons that would hang fire just about
long enough for you to walk out of range, and then burst and
blow the Arab's head off. Exceedingly dangerous these sons
of the desert are.

It used to make my blood run cold to read Wm. C. Grimes'
hairbreadth escapes from Bedouins, but I think I could read
them now without a tremor. He never said he was attacked
by Bedouins, I believe, or was ever treated uncivilly, but then
in about every other chapter he discovered them approaching,
any how, and he had a blood-curdling fashion of working up
the peril; and of wondering how his relations far away would
feel could they see their poor wandering boy, with his weary
feet and his dim eyes, in such fearful danger; and of thinking
for the last time of the old homestead, and the dear old church,
and the cow, and those things; and of finally straightening his
form to its utmost height in the saddle, drawing his trusty
revolver, and then dashing the spurs into “Mohammed” and
sweeping down upon the ferocious enemy determined to sell
his life as dearly as possible. True the Bedouins never did
any thing to him when he arrived, and never had any intention
of doing any thing to him in the first place, and wondered


Page 484
what in the mischief he was making all that to-do about; but
still I could not divest myself of the idea, somehow, that a
frightful peril had been escaped through that man's dare-devil
bravery, and so I never could read about Wm. C. Grimes'
Bedouins and sleep comfortably afterward. But I believe the
Bedouins to be a frand, now. I have seen the monster, and I
can outrun him. I shall never be afraid of his daring to stand
behind his own gun and discharge it.

About fifteen hundred years before Christ, this camp-ground
of ours by the Waters of Merom was the scene of one of
Joshua's exterminating battles. Jabin, King of Hazor, (up
yonder above Dan,) called all the shieks about him together,
with their hosts, to make ready for Israel's terrible General
who was approaching.

“And when all these Kings were met together, they came and pitched together
by the Waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

“And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as
the sand that is upon the sea-shore for multitude,” etc.

But Joshua fell upon them and utterly destroyed them, root
and branch. That was his usual policy in war. He never left
any chance for newspaper controversies about who won the
battle. He made this valley, so quiet now, a reeking

Somewhere in this part of the country—I do not know exactly
where—Israel fought another bloody battle a hundred
years later. Deborah, the prophetess, told Barak to take ten
thousand men and sally forth against another King Jabin who
had been doing something. Barak came down from Mount
Tabor, twenty or twenty-five miles from here, and gave battle
to Jabin's forces, who were in command of Sisera. Barak won
the fight, and while he was making the victory complete by
the usual method of exterminating the remnant of the defeated
host, Sisera fled away on foot, and when he was nearly exhausted
by fatigue and thirst, one Jael, a woman he seems to
have been acquainted with, invited him to come into her tent
and rest himself. The weary soldier acceded readily enough,


Page 485
and Jael put him to bed. He said he was very thirsty, and
asked his generous preserver to get him a cup of water. She
brought him some milk, and he drank of it gratefully and lay
down again, to forget in pleasant dreams his lost battle and
his humbled pride. Presently when he was asleep she came
softly in with a hammer and drove a hideous tent-pen down
through his brain!

“For he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.” Such is
the touching language of the Bible. “The Song of Deborah
and Barak” praises Jael for the memorable service she had
rendered, in an exultant strain:

“Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall
she be above women in the tent.

“He asked for water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a
lordly dish.

“She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer;
and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his hend when she had
pierced and stricken through his temples.

“At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell:
where he bowed, there he fell down dead.”

Stirring seenes like these occur in this valley no more.
There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent—
not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three
small clusters of Bedonin tents, but not a single permanent
habitation. One may ride ten miles, hereabouts, and not see
ten human beings.

To this region one of the prophecies is applied:

I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies which dwell therein
shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and I will
draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate and your cities

No man can stand here by deserted Ain Mellahah and say
the prophecy has not been fulfilled.

In a verse from the Bible which I have quoted above, occurs
the phrase “all these kings.” It attracted my attention in a
moment, because it carries to my mind such a vastly different


Page 486
significance from what it always did at home. I can see easily
enough that if I wish to profit by this tour and come to a correct
understanding of the matters of interest connected with
it, I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many
things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine. I
must begin a system of reduction. Like my grapes which the
spies bore out of the Promised Land, I have got every thing in
Palestine on too large a scale. Some of my ideas were wild
enough. The word Palestine always brought to my mind a
vague suggestion of a country as large as the United States.
I do not know why, but such was the case. I suppose it was
because I could not conceive of a small country having so
large a history. I think I was a little surprised to find that
the grand Sultan of Turkey was a man of only ordinary size.
I must try to reduce my ideas of Palestine to a more reasonable
shape. One gets large impressions in boyhood, sometimes,
which he has to fight against all his life. “All these
kings.” When I used to read that in Sunday School, it suggested
to me the several kings of such countries as England,
France, Spain, Germany, Russia, etc., arrayed in splendid
robes ablaze with jewels, marching in grave procession, with
seeptres of gold in their hands and flashing crowns upon their
heads. But here in Ain Mellahah, after coming through
Syria, and after giving serious study to the character and customs
of the country, the phrase “all these kings” loses its
grandeur. It suggests only a parcel of petty chiefs—ill-clad
and ill-conditioned savages much like our Indians, who lived
in full sight of each other and whose “kingdoms” were large
when they were five miles square and contained two thousand
souls. The combined monarchies of the thirty “kings” destroyed
by Joshua on one of his famous campaigns, only covered
an area about equal to four of our counties of ordinary
size. The poor old sheik we saw at Cesarea Philippi with his
ragged band of a hundred followers, would have been called a
“king” in those ancient times.

It is seven in the morning, and as we are in the country,
the grass ought to be sparkling with dew, the flowers enriching


Page 487
the air with their fragrance, and the birds singing in the
trees. But alas, there is no dew here, nor flowers, nor birds,
nor trees. There is a plain and an unshaded lake, and beyond
them some barren mountains. The tents are tumbling, the
Arabs are quarreling like dogs and cats, as usual, the camp-ground
is strewn with packages and bundles, the labor of
packing them upon the backs of the mules is progressing with
great activity, the horses are saddled, the umbrellas are out,
and in ten minutes we shall mount and the long procession
will move again. The white city of the Mellahah, resurrected
for a moment out of the dead centuries, will have disappeared
again and left no sign.


The railroad has been completed, since the above was written.