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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 took another swim in the Sea of Galilee at twilight
yesterday, and another at sunrise this morning. We
have not sailed, but three swims are equal to a sail, are they
not? There were plenty of fish visible in the water, but we
have no outside aids in this pilgrimage but “Tent Life in the
Holy Land,” “The Land and the Book,” and other literature
of like description—no fishing-tackle. There were no fish to
be had in the village of Tiberias. True, we saw two or three
vagabonds mending their nets, but never trying to catch any
thing with them.

We did not go to the ancient warm baths two miles below
Tiberias. I had no desire in the world to go there. This
seemed a little strange, and prompted me to try to discover
what the cause of this unreasonable indifference was. It turned
out to be simply because Pliny mentions them. I have conceived
a sort of unwarrantable unfriendliness toward Pliny
and St. Paul, because it seems as if I can never ferret out a
place that I can have to myself. It always and eternally
transpires that St. Paul has been to that place, and Pliny has
“mentioned” it.

In the early morning we mounted and started. And then a
weird apparition marched forth at the head of the procession—
a pirate, I thought, if ever a pirate dwelt upon land. It was
a tall Arab, as swarthy as an Indian; young—say thirty years
of age. On his head he had closely bound a gorgeous yellow
and red striped silk scarf, whose ends, lavishly fringed with
tassels, hung down between his shoulders and dallied with the


Page 515
wind. From his neck to his knees, in ample folds, a robe
swept down that was a very star-spangled banner of curved
and sinuous bars of black and white. Out of his back, somewhere,
apparently, the long stem of a chibouk projected, and
reached far above his right shoulder. Athwart his back, diagonally,
and extending high above his left shoulder, was an
Arab gun of Saladin's time, that was splendid with silver plating
from stock clear up to the end of its measureless stretch
of barrel. About his waist was bound many and many a yard
of elaborately figured but sadly tarnished stuff that came from
sumptuous Persia, and among the baggy folds in front the sunbeams
glinted from a formidable battery of old brass-mounted
horse-pistols and the gilded hilts of blood-thirsty knives.
There were holsters for more pistols appended to the wonderful
stack of long-haired goat-skins and Persian carpets, which
the man had been taught to regard in the light of a saddle;
and down among the pendulous rank of vast tassels that
swung from that saddle, and clanging against the iron shovel
of a stirrup that propped the warrior's knees up toward his
chin, was a crooked, silver-clad scimetar of such awful dimensions
and such implacable expression that no man might hope
to look upon it and not shudder. The fringed and bedizened
prince whose privilege it is to ride the pony and lead the elephant
into a country village is poor and naked compared to
this chaos of paraphernalia, and the happy vanity of the one
is the very poverty of satisfaction compared to the majestic
serenity, the overwhelming complacency of the other.

Who is this? What is this?” That was the trembling inquiry
all down the line.

“Our guard! From Galilee to the birthplace of the Saviour,
the country is infested with fierce Bedouins, whose sole happiness
it is, in this life, to cut and stab and mangle and murder
unoffending Christians. Allah be with us!”

“Then hire a regiment! Would you send us out among
these desperate hordes, with no salvation in our utmost need
but this old turret?”

The dragoman laughed—not at the facetiousness of the simile,


Page 516
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 516. In-line Illustration. Image of a man in Arabic robes standing with his horse. He is carrying a spear and a long rifle. The caption reads, "THE GUARD."] for verily, that guide or that courier or that dragoman
never yet lived upon earth who had in him the faintest appreciation
of a joke, even though that joke were so broad and so
ponderous that if it fell on him it would flatten him out like a
postage stamp—the dragoman laughed, and then, emboldened
by some thought that was in his brain, no doubt, proceeded to
extremities and winked.

In straits like these, when a man laughs, it is encouraging;
when he winks, it is positively reassuring. He finally intimated
that one guard would be sufficient to protect us, but that
that one was an absolute necessity. It was because of the


Page 517
moral weight his awful panoply would have with the Bedouins.
Then I said we didn't want any guard at all. If one fantastic
vagabond could protect eight armed Christians and a pack of
Arab servants from all harm, surely that detachment could
protect themselves. He shook his head doubtfully. Then I
said, just think of how it looks—think of how it would read,
to self-reliant Americans, that we went sneaking through this
deserted wilderness under the protection of this masquerading
Arab, who would break his neck getting out of the country
if a man that was a man ever started after him. It was a
mean, low, degrading position. Why were we ever told to
bring navy revolvers with us if we had to be protected at last
by this infamous star-spangled scum of the desert? These appeals
were vain—the dragoman only smiled and shook his

I rode to the front and struck up an acquaintance with King
Solomon-in-all-his-glory, and got him to show me his lingering
eternity of a gun. It had a rusty flint lock; it was ringed
and barred and plated with silver from end to end, but it was
as desperately out of the perpendicular as are the billiard cues
of '49 that one finds yet in service in the ancient mining
camps of California. The muzzle was eaten by the rust of
centuries into a ragged filagree-work, like the end of a burnt-out
stove-pipe. I shut one eye and peered within—it was
flaked with iron rust like an old steamboat boiler. I borrowed
the ponderous pistols and snapped them. They were rusty inside,
too—had not been loaded for a generation. I went back,
full of encouragement, and reported to the guide, and asked
him to discharge this dismantled fortress. It came out, then.
This fellow was a retainer of the Sheik of Tiberias. He was
a source of Government revenue. He was to the Empire of
Tiberias what the customs are to America. The Sheik imposed
guards upon travelers and charged them for it. It is a
lucrative source of emolument, and sometimes brings into the
national treasury as much as thirty-five or forty dollars a year.

I knew the warrior's secret now; I knew the hollow vanity
of his rusty trumpery, and despised his asinine complacency.


Page 518
I told on him, and with reckless daring the cavalcade rode
straight ahead into the perilous solitudes of the desert, and
scorned his frantic warnings of the mutilation and death that
hovered about them on every side.

Arrived at an elevation of twelve hundred feet above the
lake, (I ought to mention that the lake lies six hundred feet
below the level of the Mediterranean—no traveler ever neglects
to flourish that fragment of news in his letters,) as bald and
unthrilling a panorama as any land can afford, perhaps, was
spread out before us. Yet it was so crowded with historical
interest, that if all the pages that have been written about it
were spread upon its surface, they would flag it from horizon
to horizon like a pavement. Among the localities comprised
in this view, were Mount Hermon; the hills that border Cesarea
Philippi, Dan, the Sources of the Jordan and the Waters
of Merom; Tiberias; the Sea of Galilee; Joseph's Pit; Capernaum;
Bethsaida; the supposed scenes of the Sermon on the
Mount, the feeding of the multitudes and the miraculous
draught of fishes; the declivity down which the swine ran to
the sea; the entrance and the exit of the Jordan; Safed, “the
city set upon a hill,” one of the four holy cities of the Jews,
and the place where they believe the real Messiah will appear
when he comes to redeem the world; part of the battle-field
of Hattin, where the knightly Crusaders fought their last fight,
and in a blaze of glory passed from the stage and ended their
splendid career forever; Mount Tabor, the traditional scene of
the Lord's Transfiguration. And down toward the southeast
lay a landscape that suggested to my mind a quotation (imperfectly
remembered, no doubt:)

“The Ephraimites, not being called upon to share in the rich spoils of the Ammonitish
war, assembled a mighty host to fight against Jeptha, Judge of Israel;
who, being apprised of their approach, gathered together the men of Israel and
gave them battle and put them to flight. To make his victory the more secure, he
stationed guards at the different fords and passages of the Jordan, with instructions
to let none pass who could not say Shibboleth. The Ephraimites, being of a different
tribe, could not frame to pronounce the word aright, but called it Sibboleth,
which proved them enamies and cost them their lives; wherefore, forty and two
thousand fell at the different fords and passages of the Jordan that day.”


Page 519

We jogged along peacefully over the great caravan route
from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt, past Lubia and other
Syrian hamlets, perched, in the unvarying style, upon the summit
of steep mounds and hills, and fenced round about with
giant cactuses, (the sign of worthless land,) with prickly pears
upon them like hams, and came at last to the battle-field of

It is a grand, irregular plateau, and looks as if it might have
been created for a battle-field. Here the peerless Saladin met
the Christian host some seven hundred years ago, and broke
their power in Palestine for all time to come. There had long
been a truce between the opposing forces, but according to the
Guide-Book, Raynauld of Chatillon, Lord of Kerak, broke it
by plundering a Damascus caravan, and refusing to give up
either the merchants or their goods when Saladin demanded
them. This conduct of an insolent petty chieftain stung the
Sultan to the quick, and he swore that he would slaughter
Raynauld with his own hand, no matter how, or when, or
where he found him. Both armies prepared for war. Under
the weak King of Jerusalem was the very flower of the Christian
chivalry. He foolishly compelled them to undergo a long,
exhausting march, in the scorching sun, and then, without
water or other refreshment, ordered them to encamp in this
open plain. The splendidly mounted masses of Moslem soldiers
swept round the north end of Genessaret, burning and destroying
as they came, and pitched their camp in front of the opposing
lines. At dawn the terrific fight began. Surrounded on
all sides by the Sultan's swarming battalions, the Christian
Knights fought on without a hope for their lives. They fought
with desperate valor, but to no purpose; the odds of heat and
numbers, and consuming thirst, were too great against them.
Towards the middle of the day the bravest of their band cut
their way through the Moslem ranks and gained the summit
of a little hill, and there, hour after hour, they closed around
the banner of the Cross, and beat back the charging squadrons
of the enemy.

But the doom of the Christian power was sealed. Sunset


Page 520
found Saladin Lord of Palestine, the Christian chivalry strewn
in heaps upon the field, and the King of Jerusalem, the Grand
Master of the Templars, and Raynauld of Chatillon, captives
in the Sultan's tent. Saladin treated two of the prisoners with
princely courtesy, and ordered refreshments to be set before
them. When the King handed an iced Sherbet to Chatillon,
the Sultan said, “It is thou that givest it to him, not I.” He
remembered his oath, and slaughtered the hapless Knight of
Chatillon with his own hand.

It was hard to realize that this silent plain had once resounded
with martial music and trembled to the tramp of
armed men. It was hard to people this solitude with rushing
columns of cavalry, and stir its torpid pulses with the shouts
of victors, the shrieks of the wounded, and the flash of banner
and steel above the surging billows of war. A desolation is
here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life
and action.

We reached Tabor safely, and considerably in advance
of that old iron-clad swindle of a guard. We never saw a
human being on the whole route, much less lawless hordes of
Bedouins. Tabor stands solitary and alone, a giant sentinel
above the Plain of Esdraelon. It rises some fourteen hundred
feet above the surrounding level, a green, wooden cone, symmetrical
and full of grace—a prominent landmark, and one
that is exceedingly pleasant to eyes surfeited with the repulsive
monotony of desert Syria. We climbed the steep path to
its summit, through breezy glades of thorn and oak. The view
presented from its highest peak was almost beautiful. Below,
was the broad, level plain of Esdraelon, checkered with fields
like a chess-board, and full as smooth and level, seemingly;
dotted about its borders with white, compact villages, and
faintly penciled, far and near, with the curving lines of roads
and trails. When it is robed in the fresh verdure of spring, it
must form a charming picture, even by itself. Skirting its
southern border rises “Little Hermon,” over whose summit a
glimpse of Gilboa is caught. Nain, famous for the raising of
the widow's son, and Endor, as famous for the performances


Page 521
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 521. In-line Illustration. Image of a large, rounded mountain rising from a flat plain. The caption reads, "MOUNT TABOR."] of her witch, are in view. To the eastward lies the Valley of
the Jordan and beyond it the mountains of Gilead. Westward
is Mount Carmel. Hermon in the north—the table-lands of
Bashan—Safed, the holy city, gleaming white upon a tall spur
of the mountains of Lebanon—a steel-blue corner of the Sea
of Galilee—saddle-peaked Hattin, traditional “Mount of Beatitudes”
mute witness
of the last
brave fight
of the Crusading
host for
Holy Cross—
these fill up
the picture.

To glance
at the salient
features of
this landscape
through the
framework of a ragged and ruined stone window-arch of the
time of Christ, thus hiding from sight all that is unattractive,
is to secure to yourself a pleasure worth climbing the mountain
to enjoy. One must stand on his head to get the best
effect in a fine sunset, and set a landscape in a bold, strong
framework that is very close at hand, to bring out all its beauty.
One learns this latter truth never more to forget it, in that
mimic land of enchantment, the wonderful garden of my lord
the Count Pallavicini, near Genoa. You go wandering for
hours among hills and wooded glens, artfully contrived to
leave the impression that Nature shaped them and not man;
following winding paths and coming suddenly upon leaping
cascades and rustic bridges; finding sylvan lakes where you
expected them not; loitering through battered mediæval castles
in miniature that seem hoary with age and yet were built
a dozen years ago; meditating over ancient crumbling tombs,


Page 522
whose marble columns were marred and broken purposely by
the modern artist that made them; stumbling unawares upon
toy palaces, wrought of rare and costly materials, and again
upon a peasant's hut, whose dilapidated furniture would never
suggest that it was made so to order; sweeping round and
round in the midst of a forest on an enchanted wooden horse
that is moved by some invisible agency; traversing Roman
roads and passing under majestic triumphal arches; resting in
quaint bowers where unseen spirits discharge jets of water on
you from every possible direction, and where even the flowers
you touch assail you with a shower; boating on a subterranean
lake among caverns and arches royally draped with clustering
stalactites, and passing out into open day upon another lake,
which is bordered with sloping banks of grass and gay with
patrician barges that swim at anchor in the shadow of a miniature
marble temple that rises out of the clear water and
glasses its white statues, its rich capitals and fluted columns
in the tranquil depths. So, from marvel to marvel you have
drifted on, thinking all the time that the one last seen must be
the chiefest. And, verily, the chiefest wonder is reserved until
the last, but you do not see it until you step ashore, and passing
through a wilderness of rare flowers, collected from every
corner of the earth, you stand at the door of one more mimic
temple. Right in this place the artist taxed his genius to the
utmost, and fairly opened the gates of fairy land. You look
through an unpretending pane of glass, stained yellow; the
first thing you see is a mass of quivering foliage, ten short steps
before you, in the midst of which is a ragged opening like a
gateway—a thing that is common enough in nature, and not
apt to excite suspicions of a deep human design—and above
the bottom of the gateway, project, in the most careless way,
a few broad tropic leaves and brilliant flowers. All of a sudden,
through this bright, bold gateway, you catch a glimpse
of the faintest, softest, richest picture that ever graced the
dream of a dying Saint, since John saw the New Jerusalem
glimmering above the clouds of Heaven. A broad sweep of
sea, flecked with careening sails; a sharp, jutting cape, and a


Page 523
lofty lighthouse on it; a sloping lawn behind it; beyond, a
portion of the old “city of palaces,” with its parks and hills
and stately mansions; beyond these, a prodigious mountain,
with its strong outlines sharply cut against ocean and sky; and
over all, vagrant shreds and flakes of cloud, floating in a sea
of gold. The ocean is gold, the city is gold, the meadow, the
mountain, the sky—every thing is golden-rich, and mellow,
and dreamy as a vision of Paradise. No artist could put upon
canvas its entrancing beauty, and yet, without the yellow
glass, and the carefully contrived accident of a framework that
cast it into enchanted distance and shut out from it all unattractive
features, it was not a picture to fall into ecstacies over.
Such is life, and the trail of the serpent is over us all.

There is nothing for it now but to come back to old Tabor,
though the subject is tiresome enough, and I can not stick to
it for wandering off to scenes that are pleasanter to remember.
I think I will skip, any how. There is nothing about Tabor
(except we concede that it was the scene of the Transfiguration,)
but some gray old ruins, stacked up there in all ages of
the world from the days of stout Gideon and parties that
flourished thirty centuries ago to the fresh yesterday of Crusading
times. It has its Greek Convent, and the coffee there
is good, but never a splinter of the true cross or bone of a hallowed
saint to arrest the idle thoughts of worldlings and turn
them into graver channels. A Catholic church is nothing to
me that has no relics.

The plain of Esdraelon—“the battle-field of the nations”—
only sets one to dreaming of Joshua, and Benhadad, and Saul,
and Gideon; Tamerlane, Tancred, Cœur de Lion, and Saladin;
the warrior Kings of Persia, Egypt's heroes, and Napoleon—
for they all fought here. If the magic of the moonlight could
summon from the graves of forgotten centuries and many lands
the countless myriads that have battled on this wide, far-reaching
floor, and array them in the thousand strange costumes
of their hundred nationalities, and send the vast host
sweeping down the plain, splendid with plumes and banners
and glittering lances, I could stay here an age to see the phantom


Page 524
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 524. In-line Illustration. Image of two women. One is bending over a woven basket, and the other has a similar woven basket balanced on her head.] pageant. But the magic of the moonlight is a vanity and
a fraud; and whoso putteth his trust in it shall suffer sorrow
and disappointment.

Down at the foot of Tabor, and just at the edge of the storied
Plain of Esdraelon, is the insignificant village of Deburieh,
where Deborah, prophetess of Israel, lived. It is just like