University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
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 traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil
is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a
silent, mournful expanse, wherein we saw only three persons
—Arabs, with nothing on but a long coarse shirt like the
“tow-linen” shirts which used to form the only summer garment
of little negro boys on Southern plantations. Shepherds
they were, and they charmed their flocks with the traditional
shepherd's pipe—a reed instrument that made music as exquisitely
infernal as these same Arabs create when they sing.

In their pipes lingered no echo of the wonderful music the
shepherd forefathers heard in the Plains of Bethlehem what
time the angels sang “Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Part of the ground we came over was not ground at all, but
rocks—cream-colored rocks, worn smooth, as if by water; with
seldom an edge or a corner on them, but scooped out, honeycombed,
bored out with eye-holes, and thus wrought into all
manner of quaint shapes, among which the uncouth imitation
of skulls was frequent. Over this part of the route were occasional
remains of an old Roman road like the Appian Way,
whose paving-stones still clung to their places with Roman

Gray lizards, those heirs of ruin, of sepulchres and desolation,
glided in and out among the rocks or lay still and sunned
themselves. Where prosperity has reigned, and fallen; where
glory has flamed, and gone out; where beauty has dwelt, and
passed away; where gladness was, and sorrow is; where the
pomp of life has been, and silence and death brood in its high


Page 489
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 489. In-line Illustration. Image of carved stone blocks lying on the ground, covered in overgrown plants. There is a fat lizard sunning himself on one of the stones. The caption reads, "HOUSE OF ANCIENT POMP."] places, there this reptile makes his home, and mocks at human
vanity. His coat is the color of ashes: and ashes are the
symbol of hopes that have perished, of aspirations that came
to nought, of loves that are buried. If he could speak, he
would say, Build temples: I will lord it in their ruins; build
palaces: I will inhabit them; erect empires: I will inherit
them; bury your beautiful: I will watch the worms at their
work; and you, who stand here and moralize over me: I will
crawl over your corpse at the last.

A few ants were in this desert place, but merely to spend
the summer. They brought their provisions from Ain Mellahah—eleven

Jack is not very well to-day, it is easy to see; but boy as he
is, he is too much of a man to speak of it. He exposed himself
to the sun too much yesterday, but since it came of his
earnest desire to learn, and to make this journey as useful as
the opportunities will allow, no one seeks to discourage him
by fault-finding. We missed him an hour from the camp, and
then found him some distance away, by the edge of a brook,


Page 490
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 490. In-line Illustration. Image of a young man in a suit and bowtie. The caption reads, "JACK."] and with no umbrella to protect him from the fierce sun. If
he had been used to going without his umbrella, it would have
been well enough, of course; but he was not. He was just in
the act of throwing a
clod at a mud-turtle
which was sunning itself
on a small log in
the brook. We said:

“Don't do that, Jack.
What do you want to
harm him for? What
has he done?”

“Well, then, I won't
kill him, but I ought to,
because he is a fraud.”

We asked him why,
but he said it was no
matter. We asked him
why, once or twice, as
we walked back to the
camp, but he still said
it was no matter. But late at night, when he was sitting in a
thoughtful mood on the bed, we asked him again and he said:

“Well, it don't matter; I don't mind it now, but I did not
like it to-day, you know, because I don't tell any thing that
isn't so, and I don't think the Colonel ought to, either. But
he did; he told us at prayers in the Pilgrims' tent, last night,
and he seemed as if he was reading it out of the Bible, too,
about this country flowing with milk and honey, and about the
voice of the turtle being heard in the land. I thought that
was drawing it a little strong, about the turtles, any how, but
I asked Mr. Church if it was so, and he said it was, and what
Mr. Church tells me, I believe. But I sat there and watched
that turtle nearly an hour to-day, and I almost burned up in
the sun; but I never heard him sing. I believe I sweated a
double handful of sweat—I know I did—because it got in my
eyes, and it was running down over my nose all the time; and


Page 491
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 491. In-line Illustration. Image of a man sitting by a small pond looking at a turtle on a log. The caption reads, "A DISAPPOINTED AUDIENCE."] you know my pants are tighter than any body else's—Paris
foolishness—and the buckskin seat of them got wet with sweat,
and then got dry again and began to draw up and pinch and
tear loose—it was awful—but I never heard him sing. Finally
I said, This is a fraud—that is what it is, it is a fraud—
and if I had had any sense I might have known a cursed mud-turtle
couldn't sing. And then I said, I don't wish to be hard
on this fellow, and I will just give him ten minutes to commence;
ten minutes—and then if he don't, down goes his
building. But he didn't commence, you know. I had staid
there all that time, thinking may be he might, pretty soon,
because he kept on raising his head up and letting it down,
and drawing the skin over his eyes for a minute and then
opening them out again, as if he was trying to study up something
to sing, but just as the ten minutes were up and I was
all beat out and blistered, he laid his blamed head down on a
knot and went fast asleep.”

“It was a little hard, after you had waited so long.”

“I should think so. I said, Well, if you won't sing, you


Page 492
shan't sleep, any way; and if you fellows had let me alone I
would have made him shin out of Galilee quicker than any
turtle ever did yet. But it isn't any matter now—let it go.
The skin is all off the back of my neck.”

About ten in the morning we halted at Joseph's Pit. This
is a ruined Khan of the Middle Ages, in one of whose side
courts is a great walled and arched pit with water in it, and
this pit, one tradition says, is the one Joseph's brethren cast
him into. A more authentic tradition, aided by the geography
of the country, places the pit in Dothan, some two days' journey
from here. However, since there are many who believe
in this present pit as the true one, it has its interest.

It is hard to make a choice of the most beautiful passage in
a book which is so gemmed with beautiful passages as the
Bible; but it is certain that not many things within its lids
may take rank above the exquisite story of Joseph. Who
taught those ancient writers their simplicity of language, their
felicity of expression, their pathos, and above all, their faculty
of sinking themselves entirely out of sight of the reader and
making the narrative stand out alone and seem to tell itself?
Shakspeare is always present when one reads his book; Macaulay
is present when we follow the march of his stately sentences;
but the Old Testament writers are hidden from view.

If the pit I have been speaking of is the right one, a scene
transpired there, long ages ago, which is familiar to us all in
pictures. The sons of Jacob had been pasturing their flocks
near there. Their father grew uneasy at their long absence,
and sent Joseph, his favorite, to see if any thing had gone
wrong with them. He traveled six or seven days' journey; he
was only seventeen years old, and, boy like, he toiled through
that long stretch of the vilest, rockiest, dustiest country in
Asia, arrayed in the pride of his heart, his beautiful claw-hammer
coat of many colors. Joseph was the favorite, and
that was one crime in the eyes of his brethren; he had
dreamed dreams, and interpreted them to foreshadow his elevation
far above all his family in the far future, and that was
another; he was dressed well and had doubtless displayed the


Page 493
harmless vanity of youth in keeping the fact prominently before
his brothers. These were crimes his elders fretted over
among themselves and proposed to punish when the opportunity
should offer. When they saw him coming up from the
Sea of Galilee, they recognized him and were glad. They said,
“Lo, here is this dreamer—let us kill him.” But Reuben
pleaded for his life, and they spared it. But they seized the
boy, and stripped the hated coat from his back and pushed
him into the pit. They intended to let him die there, but
Reuben intended to liberate him secretly. However, while
Reuben was away for a little while, the brethern sold Joseph
to some Ishmaelitish merchants who were journeying towards
Egypt. Such is the history of the pit. And the self-same pit
is there in that place, even to this day; and there it will remain
until the next detachment of image-breakers and tomb-desecraters
arrives from the Quaker City excursion, and they
will infallibly dig it up and carry it away with them. For
behold in them is no reverence for the solemn monuments of
the past, and whithersoever they go they destroy and spare

Joseph became rich, distinguished, powerful—as the Bible
expresses it, “lord over all the land of Egypt.” Joseph was
the real king, the strength, the brain of the monarchy, though
Pharaoh held the title. Joseph is one of the truly great men
of the Old Testament. And he was the noblest and the manliest,
save Esau. Why shall we not say a good word for the
princely Bedouin? The only crime that can be brought
against him is that he was unfortunate. Why must every body
praise Joseph's great-hearted generosity to his cruel brethren,
without stint of fervent language, and fling only a reluctant
bone of praise to Esau for his still sublimer generosity to the
brother who had wronged him? Jacob took advantage of
Esau's consuming hunger to rob him of his birthright and the
great honor and consideration that belonged to the position;
by treachery and falsehood he robbed him of his father's blessing;
he made of him a stranger in his home, and a wanderer.
Yet after twenty years had passed away and Jacob met Esau


Page 494
and fell at his feet quaking with fear and begging piteously to
be spared the punishment he knew he deserved, what did that
magnificent savage do? He fell upon his neck and embraced
him! When Jacob—who was incapable of comprehending
nobility of character—still doubting, still fearing, insisted
upon “finding grace with my lord” by the bribe of a present
of cattle, what did the gorgeous son of the desert say?

“Nay, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto

Esau found Jacob rich, beloved by wives and children, and
traveling in state, with servants, herds of cattle and trains of
camels—but he himself was still the uncourted outcast this
brother had made him. After thirteen years of romantic mystery,
the brethren who had wronged Joseph, came, strangers
in a strange land, hungry and humble, to buy “a little food;”
and being summoned to a palace, charged with crime, they
beheld in its owner their wronged brother; they were trembling
beggars—he, the lord of a mighty empire! What Joseph
that ever lived would have thrown away such a chance
to “show off?” Who stands first—outcast Esau forgiving
Jacob in prosperity, or Joseph on a king's throne forgiving the
ragged tremblers whose happy rascality placed him there?

Just before we came to Joseph's Pit, we had “raised” a hill,
and there, a few miles before us, with not a tree or a shrub to
interrupt the view, lay a vision which millions of worshipers
in the far lands of the earth would give half their possessions
to see—the sacred Sea of Galilee!

Therefore we tarried only a short time at the pit. We
rested the horses and ourselves, and felt for a few minutes the
blessed shade of the ancient buildings. We were out of water,
but the two or three scowling Arabs, with their long guns,
who were idling about the place, said they had none and that
there was none in the vicinity. They knew there was a little
brackish water in the pit, but they venerated a place made
sacred by their ancestor's imprisonment too much to be willing
to see Christian dogs drink from it. But Ferguson tied rags
and handkerchiefs together till he made a rope long enough to


Page 495
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 495. In-line Illustration. Image of two men with camels and one man on a horse riding by a large tree. The caption reads, "FIG TREE."] lower a vessel to the bottom, and we drank and then rode on;
and in a short time we dismounted on those shores which the
feet of the Saviour have made holy ground.

At noon we took a swim in the Sea of Galilee—a blessed
privilege in this roasting climate—and then lunched under a
neglected old fig-tree at the fountain they call Ain-et-Tin, a
hundred yards from ruined Capernaum. Every rivulet that
gurgles out of the rocks and sands of this part of the world is
dubbed with the title of “fountain,” and people familiar with
the Hudson, the great lakes and the Mississippi fall into transports
of admiration over them, and exhaust their powers of
composition in
writing their
praises. If all
the poetry and
nonsense that
have been discharged
the fountains
and the bland
scenery of this
region were
collected in a
book, it would
make a most
valuable volume
to burn.

luncheon, the
pilgrim enthusiasts
of our
party, who had
been so light-hearted
happy ever since they touched holy ground that they did little
but mutter incoherent rhapsodies, could scarcely eat, so anxious
were they to “take shipping” and sail in very person


Page 496
upon the waters that had borne the vessels of the Apostles.
Their anxiety grew and their excitement augmented with
every fleeting moment, until my fears were aroused and I began
to have misgivings that in their present condition they
might break recklessly loose from all considerations of prudence
and buy a whole fleet of ships to sail in instead of hiring
a single one for an hour, as quiet folk are wont to do. I trembled
to think of the ruined purses this day's performances
might result in. I could not help reflecting bodingly upon the
intemperate zeal with which middle-aged men are apt to surfeit
themselves upon a seductive folly which they have tasted
for the first time. And yet I did not feel that I had a right
to be surprised at the state of things which was giving me so
much concern. These men had been taught from infancy to
revere, almost to worship, the holy places whereon their happy
eyes were resting now. For many and many a year this very
picture had visited their thoughts by day and floated through
their dreams by night. To stand before it in the flesh—to see
it as they saw it now—to sail upon the hallowed sea, and kiss
the holy soil that compassed it about: these were aspirations
they had cherished while a generation dragged its lagging seasons
by and left its furrows in their faces and its frosts upon
their hair. To look upon this picture, and sail upon this sea,
they had forsaken home and its idols and journeyed thousands
and thousands of miles, in weariness and tribulation. What
wonder that the sordid lights of work-day prudence should
pale before the glory of a hope like theirs in the full splendor
of its fruition? Let them squander millions! I said—who
speaks of money at a time like this?

In this frame of mind I followed, as fast as I could, the
eager footsteps of the pilgrims, and stood upon the shore of the
lake, and swelled, with hat and voice, the frantic hail they
sent after the “ship” that was speeding by. It was a success.
The toilers of the sea ran in and beached their barque. Joy
sat upon every countenance.

“How much?—ask him how much, Ferguson!—how much
to take us all—eight of us, and you—to Bethsaida, yonder,


Page 497
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 497. In-line Illustration. Image of a group of men standing on the shore of a body of water waving hats, handkerchiefs and umbrellas at a ship in the distance. The caption reads, "FARE TOO HIGH."] and to the mouth of Jordan, and to the place where the swine
ran down into the sea—quick!—and we want to coast around
every where—every where!—all day long!—I could sail a year
in these waters!—and tell him we'll stop at Magdala and finish
at Tiberias!—ask him how much?—any thing—any thing
whatever!—tell him we don't care what the expense is!” [I
said to myself, I knew how it would be.]

Ferguson—(interpreting)—“He says two Napoleons—eight

One or two countenances fell. Then a pause.

“Too much!—we'll give him one!”

I never shall know how it was—I shudder yet when I think
how the place is given to miracles—but in a single instant of
time, as it seemed to me, that ship was twenty paces from the
shore, and speeding away like a frightened thing! Eight crestfallen
creatures stood upon the shore, and O, to think of it!
this—this—after all that overmastering ecstacy! Oh, shameful,
shameful ending, after such unseemly boasting! It was


Page 498
too much like “Ho! let me at him!” followed by a prudent
“Two of you hold him—one can hold me!”

Instantly there was wailing and gnashing of teeth in the
camp. The two Napoleons were offered—more if necessary—
and pilgrims and dragoman shouted themselves hoarse with
pleadings to the retreating boatmen to come back. But they
sailed serenely away and paid no further heed to pilgrims who
had dreamed all their lives of some day skimming over the
sacred waters of Galilee and listening to its hallowed story in
the whisperings of its waves, and had journeyed countless
leagues to do it, and—and then concluded that the fare was
too high. Impertinent Mohammedan Arabs, to think such
things of gentlemen of another faith!

Well, there was nothing to do but just submit and forego
the privilege of voyaging on Genessaret, after coming half
around the globe to taste that pleasure. There was a time,
when the Saviour taught here, that boats were plenty among
the fishermen of the coasts—but boats and fishermen both are
gone, now; and old Josephus had a fleet of men-of-war in
these waters eighteen centuries ago—a hundred and thirty
bold canoes—but they, also, have passed away and left no sign.
They battle here no more by sea, and the commercial marine
of Galilee numbers only two small ships, just of a pattern
with the little skiffs the disciples knew. One was lost to us
for good—the other was miles away and far out of hail. So
we mounted the horses and rode grimly on toward Magdala,
cantering along in the edge of the water for want of the means
of passing over it.

How the pilgrims abused each other! Each said it was the
other's fault, and each in turn denied it. No word was spoken
by the sinners—even the mildest sareasm might have been
dangerous at such a time. Sinners that have been kept down
and had examples held up to them, and suffered frequent lectures,
and been so put upon in a moral way and in the matter
of going slow and being serious and bottling up slang, and so
crowded in regard to the matter of being proper and always
and forever behaving, that their lives have become a burden


Page 499
to them, would not lag behind pilgrims at such a time as this,
and wink furtively, and be joyful, and commit other such
crimes—because it would not occur to them to do it. Otherwise
they would. But they did do it, though—and it did them a
world of good to hear the pilgrims abuse each other, too. We
took an unworthy satisfaction in seeing them fall out, now and
then, because it showed that they were only poor human people
like us, after all.

So we all rode down to Magdala, while the gnashing of
teeth waxed and waned by turns, and harsh words troubled
the holy calm of Galilee.

Lest any man think I mean to be ill-natured when I talk
about our pilgrims as I have been talking, I wish to say in all
sincerity that I do not. I would not listen to lectures from
men I did not like and could not respect; and none of these
can say I ever took their lectures unkindly, or was restive under
the infliction, or failed to try to profit by what they said to
me. They are better men than I am; I can say that honestly;
they are good friends of mine, too—and besides, if they
did not wish to be stirred up occasionally in print, why in the
mischief did they travel with me? They knew me. They
knew my liberal way—that I like to give and take—when it
is for me to give and other people to take. When one of
them threatened to leave me in Damascus when I had the
cholera, he had no real idea of doing it—I know his passionate
nature and the good impulses that underlie it. And
did I not overhear Church, another pilgrim, say he did not
care who went or who staid, he would stand by me till I
walked out of Damascus on my own feet or was carried out in
a coffin, if it was a year? And do I not include Church every
time I abuse the pilgrims—and would I be likely to speak ill-naturedly
of him? I wish to stir them up and make them
healthy; that is all.

We had left Capernaum behind us. It was only a shapeless
ruin. It bore no semblance to a town, and had nothing about
it to suggest that it had ever been a town. But all desolate
and unpeopled as it was, it was illustrious ground. From it


Page 500
sprang that tree of Christianity whose broad arms overshadow
so many distant lands to-day. After Christ was tempted of
the devil in the desert, he came here and began his teachings;
and during the three or four years he lived afterward, this
place was his home almost altogether. He began to heal the
sick, and his fame soon spread so widely that sufferers came
from Syria and beyond Jordan, and even from Jerusalem, several
days' journey away, to be cured of their diseases. Here
he healed the centurion's servant and Peter's mother-in-law,
and multitudes of the lame and the blind and persons possessed
of devils; and here, also, he raised Jairus's daughter
from the dead. He went into a ship with his disciples, and
when they roused him from sleep in the midst of a storm, he
quieted the winds and lulled the troubled sea to rest with his
voice. He passed over to the other side, a few miles away,
and relieved two men of devils, which passed into some swine.
After his return he called Matthew from the receipt of customs,
performed some cures, and created scandal by eating
with publicans and sinners. Then he went healing and teaching
through Galilee, and even journeyed to Tyre and Sidon.
He chose the twelve disciples, and sent them abroad to preach
the new gospel. He worked miracles in Bethsaida and Chorazin—villages
two or three miles from Capernaum. It was
near one of them that the miraculous draft of fishes is supposed
to have been taken, and it was in the desert places near
the other that he fed the thousands by the miracles of the
loaves and fishes. He cursed them both, and Capernaum also,
for not repenting, after all the great works he had done in
their midst, and prophesied against them. They are all in
ruins, now—which is gratifying to the pilgrims, for, as usual,
they fit the eternal words of gods to the evanescent things of
this earth; Christ, it is more probable, referred to the people,
not their shabby villages of wigwams: he said it would be sad
for them at “the day of judgment”—and what business have
mud-hovels at the Day of Judgment? it would not affect the
prophecy in the least—it would neither prove it or disprove it
—if these towns were splendid cities now instead of the almost


Page 501
vanished ruins they are. Christ visited Magdala, which is near
by Capernaum, and he also visited Cesarea Philippi. He
went up to his old home at Nazareth, and saw his brothers
Joses, and Judas, and James, and Simon—those persons who,
being own brothers to Jesus Christ, one would expect to hear
mentioned sometimes, yet who ever saw their names in a
newspaper or heard them from a pulpit? Who ever inquires
what manner of youths they were; and whether they slept
with Jesus, played with him and romped about him; quarreled
with him concerning toys and trifles; struck him in anger, not
suspecting what he was? Who ever wonders what they
thought when they saw him come back to Nazareth a celebrity,
and looked long at his unfamiliar face to make sure, and
then, said, “It is Jesus?” Who wonders what passed in their
minds when they saw this brother, (who was only a brother to
them, however much he might be to others a mysterious stranger
who was a god and had stood face to face with God above
the clouds,) doing strange miracles with crowds of astonished
people for witnesses? Who wonders if the brothers of Jesus
asked him to come home with them, and said his mother and
his sisters were grieved at his long absence, and would be wild
with delight to see his face again? Who ever gives a thought
to the sisters of Jesus at all?—yet he had sisters; and memories
of them must have stolen into his mind often when he was
ill-treated among strangers; when he was homeless and said
he had not where to lay his head; when all deserted him, even
Peter, and he stood alone among his enemies.

Christ did few miracles in Nazareth, and staid but a little
while. The people said, “This the Son of God! Why, his
father is nothing but a carpenter. We know the family. We
see them every day. Are not his brothers named so and so,
and his sisters so and so, and is not his mother the person they
call Mary? This is absurd.” He did not curse his home, but
he shook its dust from his feet and went away.

Capernaum lies close to the edge of the little sea, in a small
plain some five miles long and a mile or two wide, which is
mildly adorned with oleanders which look all the better contrasted


Page 502
with the bald hills and the howling deserts which surround
them, but they are not as deliriously beautiful as the
books paint them. If one be calm and resolute he can look
upon their comeliness and live.

One of the most astonishing things that have yet fallen under
our observation is the exceedingly small portion of the
earth from which sprang the now flourishing plant of Christianity.
The longest journey our Saviour ever performed was
from here to Jerusalem—about one hundred to one hundred
and twenty miles. The next longest was from here to Sidon
—say about sixty or seventy miles. Instead of being wide
apart—as American appreciation of distances would naturally
suggest—the places made most particularly celebrated by the
presence of Christ are nearly all right here in full view, and
within cannon-shot of Capernaum. Leaving out two or three
short journeys of the Saviour, he spent his life, preached his
gospel, and performed his miracles within a compass no larger
than an ordinary county in the United States. It is as much
as I can do to comprehend this stupefying fact. How it wears
a man out to have to read up a hundred pages of history every
two or three miles—for verily the celebrated localities of Palestine
occur that close together. How wearily, how bewilderingly
they swarm about your path!

In due time we reached the ancient village of Magdala.