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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






THE narrow canon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated,
is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly
black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent
vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that
tower on either side. One of these hills is the ancient Mount
of Blessings and the other the Mount of Curses; and wise men
who seek for fulfillments of prophecy think they find here a
wonder of this kind—to wit, that the Mount of Blessings is
strangely fertile and its mate as strangely unproductive. We
could not see that there was really much difference between
them in this respect, however.

Shechem is distinguished as one of the residences of the patriarch
Jacob, and as the seat of those tribes that cut themselves
loose from their brethren of Israel and propagated doetrines
not in conformity with those of the original Jewish
creed. For thousands of years this clan have dwelt in Shechem
under strict tabu, and having little commerce or fellowship
with their fellow men of any religion or nationality. For generations
they have not numbered more than one or two hundred,
but they still adhere to their ancient faith and maintain
their ancient rites and ceremonies. Talk of family and old
descent! Princes and nobles pride themselves upon lineages
they can trace back some hundreds of years. What is this
trifle to this handful of old first families of Shechem, who can
name their fathers straight back without a flaw for thousands
—straight back to a period so remote that men reared in a
country where the days of two hundred years ago are called


Page 552
[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 552. In-line Illustration. Image of a town at the base of a mountain. The caption reads, "SHECHEM."] “ancient” times grow dazed and bewildered when they try to
comprehend it! Here is respectability for you—here is “family”—here
is high descent worth talking about. This sad,
proud remnant of a once mighty community still hold themselves
aloof from all the world; they still live as their fathers
lived, labor as their fathers labored, think as they did, feel as
they did, worship in the same place, in sight of the same landmarks,
and in the same quaint, patriarchal way their ancestors
did more than thirty centuries ago. I found myself gazing at
any straggling scion of this strange race with a riveted fascination,
just as one would stare at a living mastodon, or a megatherium
that had moved in the grey dawn of creation and
seen the wonders of that mysterious world that was before the

Carefully preserved among the sacred archives of this curious
community is
a MSS. copy
of the ancient
Jewish law,
which is said
to be the oldest
on earth. It
is written on
vellum, and is
some four or
five thousand
years old.
Nothing but
can purchase a sight. Its fame is somewhat dimmed in these
latter days, because of the doubts so many authors of Palestine
travels have felt themselves privileged to cast upon it. Speaking
of this MSS. reminds me that I procured from the high-priest
of this ancient Samaritan community, at great expense, a
secret document of still higher antiquity and far more extraordinary
interest, which I propose to publish as soon as I have
finished translating it.


Page 553

Joshua gave his dying injunction to the children of Israel at
Shechem, and buried a valuable treasure secretly under an oak
tree there about the same time. The superstitious Samaritans
have always been afraid to hunt for it. They believe it is
guarded by fierce spirits invisible to men.

About a mile and a half from Shechem we halted at the
base of Mount Ebal, before a little square area, inclosed by a
high stone wall, neatly whitewashed. Across one end of this
inclosure is a tomb built after the manner of the Moslems. It
is the tomb of Joseph. No truth is better authenticated than

When Joseph was dying he prophesied that exodus of the
Israelites from Egypt which occurred four hundred years afterwards.
At the same time he exacted of his people an oath
that when they journeyed to the land of Canaan, they would
bear his bones with them and bury them in the ancient inheritance
of his fathers. The oath was kept.

“And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt,
buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of
Hamor the father of Shechem, for a hundred pieces of silver.”

Few tombs on earth command the veneration of so many
races and men of divers creeds as this of Joseph. “Samaritan
and Jew, Moslem and Christian alike, revere it, and honor it
with their visits. The tomb of Joseph, the dutiful son, the
affectionate, forgiving brother, the virtuous man, the wise
Prince and ruler. Egypt felt his influence—the world knows
his history.”

In this same “parcel of ground” which Jacob bought of the
sons of Hamor for a hundred pieces of silver, is Jacob's celebrated
well. It is cut in the solid rock, and is nine feet square
and ninety feet deep. The name of this unpretending hole in
the ground, which one might pass by and take no notice of, is
as familiar as household words to even the children and the
peasants of many a far-off country. It is more famous than
the Parthenon; it is older than the Pyramids.

It was by this well that Jesus sat and talked with a woman


Page 554
of that strange, antiquated Samaritan community I have been
speaking of, and told her of the mysterious water of life. As
descendants of old English nobles still cherish in the traditions
of their houses how that this king or that king tarried a day
with some favored ancestor three hundred years ago, no doubt
the descendants of the woman of Samaria, living there in Shechem,
still refer with pardonable vanity to this conversation of
their ancestor, held some little time gone by, with the Messiah
of the Christians. It is not likely that they undervalue a distinction
such as this. Samaritan nature is human nature, and
human nature remembers contact with the illustrious, always.

For an offense done to the family honor, the sons of Jacob
exterminated all Shechem once.

We left Jacob's Well and traveled till eight in the evening,
but rather slowly, for we had been in the saddle nineteen
hours, and the horses were cruelly tired. We got so far ahead
of the tents that we had to camp in an Arab village, and sleep
on the ground. We could have slept in the largest of the
houses; but there were some little drawbacks: it was populous
with vermin, it had a dirt floor, it was in no respect cleanly,
and there was a family of goats in the only bedroom, and two
donkeys in the parlor. Outside there were no inconveniences,
except that the dusky, ragged, earnest-eyed villagers of both
sexes and all ages grouped themselves on their haunches all
around us, and discussed us and criticised us with noisy tongues
till midnight. We did not mind the noise, being tired, but,
doubtless, the reader is aware that it is almost an impossible
thing to go to sleep when you know that people are looking at
you. We went to bed at ten, and got up again at two and
started once more. Thus are people persecuted by dragomen,
whose sole ambition in life is to get ahead of each other.

About daylight we passed Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant
rested three hundred years, and at whose gates good old
Eli fell down and “brake his neck” when the messenger,
riding hard from the battle, told him of the defeat of his people,
the death of his sons, and, more than all, the capture of
Israel's pride, her hope, her refuge, the ancient Ark her forefathers


Page 555
brought with them out of Egypt. It is little wonder
that under circumstances like these he fell down and brake his
neck. But Shiloh had no charms for us. We were so cold
that there was no comfort but in motion, and so drowsy
we could hardly sit upon the horses.

After a while we came to a shapeless mass of ruins, which
still bears the name of Beth-el. It was here that Jacob lay
down and had that superb vision of angels flitting up and
down a ladder that reached from the clouds to earth, and
caught glimpses of their blessed home through the open gates
of Heaven.

The pilgrims took what was left of the hallowed ruin, and
we pressed on toward the goal of our crusade, renowned Jerusalem.

The further we went the hotter the sun got, and the more
rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became.
There could not have been more fragments of stone strewn
broadcast over this part of the world, if every ten square feet
of the land had been occupied by a separate and distinct stonecutter's
establishment for an age. There was hardly a tree or
a shrub any where. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast
friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.
No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that
which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem. The only difference
between the roads and the surrounding country, perhaps,
is that there are rather more rocks in the roads than in the
surrounding country.

We passed Ramah, and Beroth, and on the right saw the
tomb of the prophet Samuel, perched high upon a commanding
eminence. Still no Jerusalem came in sight. We hurried
on impatiently. We halted a moment at the ancient Fountain
of Beira, but its stones, worn deeply by the chins of thirsty
animals that are dead and gone centuries ago, had no interest
for us—we longed to see Jerusalem. We spurred up hill after
hill, and usually began to stretch our necks minutes before we
got to the top—but disappointment always followed:—more
stupid hills beyond—more unsightly landscape—no Holy City.


Page 556

[ILLUSTRATION] [Description: 500EAF. Page 556. In-line Illustration. Image of the front gates of old walled city. The caption reads, "GATE OF JERUSALEM."]

At last, away in the middle of the day, ancient bits of wall
and crumbling arches began to line the way—we toiled up one
more hill, and every pilgrim and every sinner swung his hat
on high! Jerusalem!

Perched on its eternal hills, white and domed and solid,
massed together and hooped with high gray walls, the venerable
city gleamed in the sun. So small! Why, it was no
larger than an American village of four thousand inhabitants,
and no larger than an ordinary Syrian city of thirty thousand.
Jerusalem numbers only fourteen thousand people.

We dismounted and looked, without speaking a dozen sentences,
across the wide intervening valley for an hour or more;
and noted those prominent features of the city that pictures
make familiar to all men from their school days till their
death. We could recognize the Tower of Hippicus, the
Mosque of Omar, the Damascus Gate, the Mount of Olives,
the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Tower of David, and the Garden
of Gethsemane—and dating from these landmarks could
tell very nearly the localities of many others we were not able
to distinguish.


Page 557

I record it here as a notable but not discreditable fact that
not even our pilgrims wept. I think there was no individual
in the party whose brain was not teeming with thoughts and
images and memories invoked by the grand history of the venerable
city that lay before us, but still among them all was no
“voice of them that wept.”

There was no call for tears. Tears would have been out of
place. The thoughts Jerusalem suggests are full of poetry,
sublimity, and more than all, dignity. Such thoughts do not
find their appropriate expression in the emotions of the

Just after noon we entered these narrow, crooked streets,
by the ancient and the famed Damascus Gate, and now for
several hours I have been trying to comprehend that I am
actually in the illustrious old city where Solomon dwelt, where
Abraham held converse with the Deity, and where walls still
stand that witnessed the spectacle of the Crucifixion.