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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 descended from Mount Tabor, crossed a deep ravine,
and followed a hilly, rocky road to Nazareth—distant
two hours. All distances in the East are measured by hours,
not miles. A good horse will walk three miles an hour over
nearly any kind of a road; therefore, an hour, here, always
stands for three miles. This method of computation is bothersome
and annoying; and until one gets thoroughly accustomed
to it, it carries no intelligence to his mind until he has
stopped and translated the pagan hours into Christian miles,
just as people do with the spoken words of a foreign language
they are acquainted with, but not familiarly enough to catch
the meaning in a moment. Distances traveled by human feet
are also estimated by hours and minutes, though I do not
know what the base of the calculation is. In Constantinople
you ask, “How far is it to the Consulate?” and they answer,
“About ten minutes.” “How far is it to the Lloyds' Agency?”
“Quarter of an hour.” “How far is it to the lower bridge?”
“Four minutes.” I can not be positive about it, but I think
that there, when a man orders a pair of pantaloons, he says he
wants them a quarter of a minute in the legs and nine seconds
around the waist.

Two hours from Tabor to Nazareth—and as it was an uncommonly
narrow, crooked trail, we necessarily met all the
camel trains and jackass caravans between Jericho and Jacksonville
in that particular place and nowhere else. The donkeys
do not matter so much, because they are so small that
you can jump your horse over them if he is an animal of spirit,


Page 526
but a camel is not jumpable. A camel is as tall as any ordinary
dwelling-house in Syria—which is to say a camel is from
one to two, and sometimes nearly three feet taller than a good-sized
man. In this part of the country his load is oftenest in
the shape of colossal sacks—one on each side. He and his
cargo take up as much room as a carriage. Think of meeting
this style of obstruction in a narrow trail. The camel would
not turn out for a king. He stalks serenely along, bringing
his cushioned stilts forward with the long, regular swing of a
pendulum, and whatever is in the way must get out of the way
peaceably, or be wiped out forcibly by the bulky sacks. It
was a tiresome ride to us, and perfectly exhausting to the
horses. We were compelled to jump over upwards of eighteen
hundred donkeys, and only one person in the party was unseated
less than sixty times by the camels. This seems like a
powerful statement, but the poet has said, “Things are not
what they seem.” I can not think of any thing, now, more
certain to make one shudder, than to have a soft-footed camel
sneak up behind him and touch him on the ear with its cold,
flabby under-lip. A camel did this for one of the boys, who
was drooping over his saddle in a brown study. He glanced
up and saw the majestic apparition hovering above him, and
made frantic efforts to get out of the way, but the camel
reached out and bit him on the shoulder before he accomplished
it. This was the only pleasant incident of the journey.

At Nazareth we camped in an olive grove near the Virgin
Mary's fountain, and that wonderful Arab “guard” came to
collect some bucksheesh for his “services” in following us from
Tiberias and warding off invisible dangers with the terrors of
his armament. The dragoman had paid his master, but that
counted as nothing—if you hire a man to sneeze for you, here,
and another man chooses to help him, you have got to pay
both. They do nothing whatever without pay. How it must
have surprised these people to hear the way of salvation offered
to them “without money and without price.” If the manners,
the people or the customs of this country have changed since


Page 527
the Saviour's time, the figures and metaphors of the Bible are
not the evidences to prove it by.

We entered the great Latin Convent which is built over the
traditional dwelling-place of the Holy Family. We went
down a flight of fifteen steps below the ground level, and stood
in a small chapel tricked out with tapestry hangings, silver
lamps, and oil paintings. A spot marked by a cross, in the
marble floor, under the altar, was exhibited as the place made
forever holy by the feet of the Virgin when she stood up to
receive the message of the angel. So simple, so unpretending
a locality, to be the scene of so mighty an event! The very
scene of the Annunciation—an event which has been commemorated
by splendid shrines and august temples all over the
civilized world, and one which the princes of art have made it
their loftiest ambition to picture worthily on their canvas; a
spot whose history is familiar to the very children of every
house, and city, and obscure hamlef of the furthest lands of
Christendom; a spot which myriads of men would toil across
the breadth of a world to see, would consider it a priceless
privilege to look upon. It was easy to think these thoughts.
But it was not easy to bring myself up to the magnitude of the
situation. I could sit off several thousand miles and imagine
the angel appearing, with shadowy wings and lustrous countenance,
and note the glory that streamed downward upon the
Virgin's head while the message from the Throne of God fell
upon her ears—any one can do that, beyond the ocean, but few
can do it here. I saw the little recess from which the angel
stepped, but could not fill its void. The angels that I know
are creatures of unstable fancy—they will not fit in niches of
substantial stone. Imagination labors best in distant fields. I
doubt if any man can stand in the Grotto of the Annunciation
and people with the phantom images of his mind its too tangible
walls of stone.

They showed us a broken granite pillar, depending from the
roof, which they said was hacked in two by the Moslem conquerors
of Nazareth, in the vain hope of pulling down the
sanctuary. But the pillar remained miraculously suspended


Page 528
in the air, and, unsupported itself, supported then and still
supports the roof. By dividing this statement up among eight,
it was found not difficult to believe it.

These gifted Latin monks never do any thing by halves. If
they were to show you the Brazen Serpent that was elevated
in the wilderness, you could depend upon it that they had on
hand the pole it was elevated on also, and even the hole it
stood in. They have got the “Grotto” of the Annunciation
here; and just as convenient to it as one's throat is to his
mouth, they have also the Virgin's Kitchen, and even her sitting-room,
where she and Joseph watched the infant Saviour
play with Hebrew toys eighteen hundred years ago. All under
one roof, and all clean, spacious, comfortable “grottoes.”
It seems curious that personages intimately connected with the
Holy Family always lived in grottoes—in Nazareth, in Bethlehem,
in imperial Ephesus—and yet nobody else in their day
and generation thought of doing any thing of the kind. If
they ever did, their grottoes are all gone, and I suppose we
ought to wonder at the peculiar marvel of the preservation of
these I speak of. When the Virgin fled from Herod's wrath,
she hid in a grotto in Bethlehem, and the same is there to this
day. The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem was done
in a grotto; the Saviour was born in a grotto—both are shown
to pilgrims yet. It is exceedingly strange that these tremendous
events all happened in grottoes—and exceedingly fortunate,
likewise, because the strongest houses must crumble to
ruin in time, but a grotto in the living rock will last forever.
It is an imposture—this grotto stuff—but it is one that all men
ought to thank the Catholies for. Wherever they ferret out a
lost locality made holy by some Scriptural event, they straightway
build a massive—almost imperishable—church there, and
preserve the memory of that locality for the gratification of
future generations. If it had been left to Protestants to do
this most worthy work, we would not even know where Jerusalem
is to-day, and the man who could go and put his finger
on Nazareth would be too wise for this world. The world
owes the Catholics its good will even for the happy rascality


Page 529
of hewing out these bogus grottoes in the rock; for it is infinitely
more satisfactory to look at a grotto, where people have
faithfully believed for centuries that the Virgin once lived,
than to have to imagine a dwelling-place for her somewhere,
any where, nowhere, loose and at large all over this town of
Nazareth. There is too large a scope of country. The imagination
can not work. There is no one particular spot to chain
your eye, rivet your interest, and make you think. The memory
of the Pilgrims can not perish while Plymouth Rock
remains to us. The old monks are wise. They know how to
drive a stake through a pleasant tradition that will hold it to
its place forever.

We visited the places where Jesus worked for fifteen years
as a carpenter, and where he attempted to teach in the synagogue
and was driven out by a mob. Catholic chapels stand
upon these sites and protect the little fragments of the ancient
walls which remain. Our pilgrims broke off specimens. We
visited, also, a new chapel, in the midst of the town, which is
built around a boulder some twelve feet long by four feet
thick; the priests discovered, a few years ago, that the disciples
had sat upon this rock to rest, once, when they had walked up
from Capernaum. They hastened to preserve the relic. Relics
are very good property. Travelers are expected to pay for
seeing them, and they do it cheerfully. We like the idea.
One's conscience can never be the worse for the knowledge
that he has paid his way like a man. Our pilgrims would have
liked very well to get out their lampblack and stencil-plates
and paint their names on that rock, together with the names
of the villages they hail from in America, but the priests permit
nothing of that kind. To speak the strict truth, however,
our party seldom offend in that way, though we have men in
the ship who never lose an opportunity to do it. Our pilgrims'
chief sin is their lust for “specimens.” I suppose that by this
time they know the dimensions of that rock to an inch, and its
weight to a ton; and I do not hesitate to charge that they
will go back there to-night and try to carry it off.

This “Fountain of the Virgin” is the one which tradition


Page 530
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 530. In-line Illustration. Image of an open-fronted stone building. A man, a woman, and a donkey are standing in fron of it. The caption reads, "FOUNTAIN OF THE VIRGIN."] says Mary used to get water from, twenty times a day, when
she was a girl, and bear it away in a jar upon her head. The
water streams through faucets in the face of a wall of ancient
masonry which stands removed from the houses of the village.
The young girls of Nazareth still collect about it by the dozen
and keep up a riotous laughter and sky-larking. The Nazarene
girls are homely. Some of them have large, lustrous eyes, but
none of them have pretty faces. These girls wear a single
garment, usually, and it is loose, shapeless, of undecided color;
it is generally out of repair, too. They wear, from crown to
jaw, curious strings of old coins, after the manner of the
belles of Tiberias, and brass jewelry upon their wrists and in
their ears. They wear no shoes and stockings. They are the
most human girls we have found in the country yet, and the
best natured. But there is no question that these picturesque
maidens sadly lack comeliness.


Page 531

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 531. In-line Illustration. Image of two women at a well. One is holding a jug next to her and the other is balancing a jug on her head. The caption reads, "'WHAT MADONNA-LIKE BEAUTY!'"]

A pilgrim—the “Enthusiast”—said: “See that tall, graceful
girl! look at the Madonna-like beauty of her countenance!”

Another pilgrim came along presently and said: “Observe
that tall, graceful girl; what queenly Madonna-like gracefulness
of beauty is in her countenance.”

I said: “She is not tall, she is short; she is not beautiful,
she is homely;
she is
enough, I
grant, but
she is rather

The third
and last pilgrim
by, before
long, and he
said: “Ah,
what a tall,
girl! what

The verdicts
all in. It
was time,
now, to look
up the authorities for all these opinions. I found this paragraph,
which follows. Written by whom? Wm. C. Grimes:

“After we were in the saddle, we rode down to the spring to have a last look at
the women of Nazareth, who were, as a class, much the prettiest that we had seen
in the East. As we approached the crowd a tall girl of nineteen advanced toward


Page 532
Miriam and offered her a cup of water. Her movement was graceful and queenly.
We exclaimed on the spot at the Madonna-like beauty of her countenance. Whitely
was suddenly thirsty, and begged for water, and drank it slowly, with his eyes
over the top of the cup, fixed on her large black eyes, which gazed on him quite
as curiously as he on her. Then Moreright wanted water. She gave it to him and
he managed to spill it so as to ask for another cup, and by the time she came to me
she saw through the operation; her eyes were full of fun as she looked at me. I
laughed outright, and she joined me in as gay a shout as ever country maiden in
old Orange county. I wished for a picture of her. A Madonna, whose face was a
portrait of that beautiful Nazareth girl, would be a `thing of beauty' and `a joy
forever.' ”

That is the kind of gruel which has been served out from
Palestine for ages. Commend me to Fennimore Cooper to find
beauty in the Indians, and to Grimes to find it in the Arabs.
Arab men are often fine looking, but Arab women are not.
We can all believe that the Virgin Mary was beautiful; it is
not natural to think otherwise; but does it follow that it is
our duty to find beauty in these present women of Nazareth?

I love to quote from Grimes, because he is so dramatic. And
because he is so romantic. And because he seems to care but
little whether he tells the truth or not, so he scares the reader
or excites his envy or his admiration.

He went through this peaceful land with one hand forever
on his revolver, and the other on his pocket-handkerchief. Always,
when he was not on the point of crying over a holy
place, he was on the point of killing an Arab. More surprising
things happened to him in Palestine than ever happened
to any traveler here or elsewhere since Munchausen died.

At Beit Jin, where nobody had interfered with him, he
crept out of his tent at dead of night and shot at what he
took to be an Arab lying on a rock, some distance away, planning
evil. The ball killed a wolf. Just before he fired, he
makes a dramatic picture of himself—as usual, to scare the

“Was it imagination, or did I see a moving object on the surface of the rock?
If it were a man, why did he not now drop me? He had a beautiful shot as I
stood out in my black boornoose against the white tent. I had the sensation of an
entering bullet in my throat, breast, brain.”

Reckless creature!


Page 533

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 533. In-line Illustration. Image of a man on a horse going down a steep, rocky path very fast. The caption reads, "PUTNAM OUTDONE."]

Riding toward Genessaret, they saw two Bedouins, and “we
looked to our pistols and loosened them quietly in our shawls,”
etc. Always cool.

In Samaria, he charged up a hill, in the face of a volley of
stones; he fired into the crowd of men who threw them. He

I never lost an opportunity of impressing the Arabs with the perfection of American
and English weapons, and the danger of attacking any one of the armed
Franks. I think the lesson of that ball not lost.”

At Beitin he gave his whole band of Arab muleteers a piece
of his mind, and then—

“I contented
myself with
a solemn assurance
that if
there occurred
another instance
of disobedience
orders, I
would thrash
the responsible
party as
he never
dreamed of
being thrashed,
and if I
could not find
who was responsible,
would whip
them all, from
first to last,
whether there
was a governor
at hand to
do it or I had
to do it myself.”

Perfectly fearless, this man.

He rode down the perpendicular path in the rocks, from the


Page 534
Castle of Banias to the oak grove, at a flying gallop, his horse
striding “thirty feet” at every bound. I stand prepared to bring
thirty reliable witnesses to prove that Putnam's famous feat at
Horseneck was insignificant compared to this.

Behold him—always theatrical—looking at Jerusalem—this
time, by an oversight, with his hand off his pistol for once.

“I stood in the road, my hand on my horse's neck, and with my dim eyes sought
to trace the outlines of the holy places which I had long before fixed in my mind,
but the fast-flowing tears forbade my succeeding. There were our Mohammedan
servants, a Latin monk, two Armenians and a Jew in our cortege, and all alike
gazed with overflowing eyes.”

If Latin monks and Arabs cried, I know to a moral certainty
that the horses cried also, and so the picture is complete.

But when necessity demanded, he could be firm as adamant.
In the Lebanon Valley an Arab youth—a Christian; he is particular
to explain that Mohammedans do not steal—robbed
him of a paltry ten dollars' worth of powder and shot. He
convicted him before a sheik and looked on while he was
punished by the terrible bastinado. Hear him:

“He (Mousa) was on his back in a twinkling, howling, shouting, screaming, but
he was carried out to the piazza before the door, where we could see the operation,
and laid face down. One man sat on his back and one on his legs, the latter holding
up his feet, while a third laid on the bare soles a rhinoceros-hide koorbash[1]
that whizzed through the air at every stroke. Poor Moreright was in agony, and
Nama and Nama the Second (mother and sister of Mousa,) were on their faces begging
and wailing, now embracing my knees and now Whitely's, while the brother,
outside, made the air ring with cries louder than Mousa's. Even Yusef came and
asked me on his knees to relent, and last of all, Betuni—the rascal had lost a feedbag
in their house and had been loudest in his denunciations that morning—besought
the Howajji to have mercy on the fellow.”

But not he! The punishment was “suspended,” at the fifteenth
to hear the confession. Then Grimes and his party
rode away, and left the entire Christian family to be fined and
as severely punished as the Mohammedan sheik should deem


Page 535

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 535. In-line Illustration. Image of a man watching a a group of men hold another down while one of the men swings a cane back as if to administer a beating. The caption reads, "THE BASTINADO."]

“As I mounted, Yusef once more begged me to interfere and have mercy on
them, but I looked around at the dark faces of the crowd, and I couldn't find one
drop of pity in my heart for them.”

He closes his picture with a rollicking burst of humor which
contrasts finely with the grief of the mother and her children.

One more paragraph:

“Then once more I bowed my head. It is no shame to have wept in Palestine.
I wept, when I saw Jerusalem, I wept when I lay in the starlight at Bethlehem, I
wept on the blessed shores of Galilee. My hand was no less firm on the rein, my
finger did not tremble on the trigger of my pistol when I rode with it in my right
hand along the shore of the blue sea” (weeping.) “My eye was not dimmed by
those tears nor my heart in aught weakened. Let him who would sneer at my
emotion close this volume here, for he will find little to his taste in my journeyings
through Holy Land.”

He never bored but he struck water.


Page 536

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 536. In-line Illustration. Image of a man with a large handkerchief looking at a town in the distance. The caption reads, "'I WEPT.'"]

I am aware that this is a pretty voluminous notice of Mr.
Grimes' book. However, it is proper and legitimate to speak
of it, for “Nomadic Life in Palestine” is a representative book
—the representative of a class of Palestine books—and a criticism
upon it will serve for a criticism upon them all. And
since I am treating it in the comprehensive capacity of a representative
book, I have taken the liberty of giving to both
book and author fictitious names. Perhaps it is in better taste,
any how, to do this.


“A Koorbash is Arabic for cowhide, the cow being a rhinoceros. It is the most cruel whip known to fame.
Heavy as lead, and flexible as India rubber, usually about forty inches long and tapering gradually from an inch
in diameter to a point, it administers a blow which leaves its mark for time.”—Scow Life in Egypt, by the
same author.