The Innocents Abroad
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Part 9 out of 10

where this all occurred is there yet. So there is really no room for

The priests tried to show us, through a small screen, a fragment of the
genuine Pillar of Flagellation, to which Christ was bound when they
scourged him. But we could not see it, because it was dark inside the
screen. However, a baton is kept here, which the pilgrim thrusts through
a hole in the screen, and then he no longer doubts that the true Pillar
of Flagellation is in there. He can not have any excuse to doubt it, for
he can feel it with the stick. He can feel it as distinctly as he could
feel any thing.

Not far from here was a niche where they used to preserve a piece of the
True Cross, but it is gone, now. This piece of the cross was discovered
in the sixteenth century. The Latin priests say it was stolen away, long
ago, by priests of another sect. That seems like a hard statement to
make, but we know very well that it was stolen, because we have seen it
ourselves in several of the cathedrals of Italy and France.

But the relic that touched us most was the plain old sword of that stout
Crusader, Godfrey of Bulloigne--King Godfrey of Jerusalem. No blade in
Christendom wields such enchantment as this--no blade of all that rust in
the ancestral halls of Europe is able to invoke such visions of romance
in the brain of him who looks upon it--none that can prate of such
chivalric deeds or tell such brave tales of the warrior days of old. It
stirs within a man every memory of the Holy Wars that has been sleeping
in his brain for years, and peoples his thoughts with mail-clad images,
with marching armies, with battles and with sieges. It speaks to him of
Baldwin, and Tancred, the princely Saladin, and great Richard of the Lion
Heart. It was with just such blades as these that these splendid heroes
of romance used to segregate a man, so to speak, and leave the half of
him to fall one way and the other half the other. This very sword has
cloven hundreds of Saracen Knights from crown to chin in those old times
when Godfrey wielded it. It was enchanted, then, by a genius that was
under the command of King Solomon. When danger approached its master's
tent it always struck the shield and clanged out a fierce alarm upon the
startled ear of night. In times of doubt, or in fog or darkness, if it
were drawn from its sheath it would point instantly toward the foe, and
thus reveal the way--and it would also attempt to start after them of its
own accord. A Christian could not be so disguised that it would not know
him and refuse to hurt him--nor a Moslem so disguised that it would not
leap from its scabbard and take his life. These statements are all well
authenticated in many legends that are among the most trustworthy legends
the good old Catholic monks preserve. I can never forget old Godfrey's
sword, now. I tried it on a Moslem, and clove him in twain like a
doughnut. The spirit of Grimes was upon me, and if I had had a graveyard
I would have destroyed all the infidels in Jerusalem. I wiped the blood
off the old sword and handed it back to the priest--I did not want the
fresh gore to obliterate those sacred spots that crimsoned its brightness
one day six hundred years ago and thus gave Godfrey warning that before
the sun went down his journey of life would end.

Still moving through the gloom of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre we
came to a small chapel, hewn out of the rock--a place which has been
known as "The Prison of Our Lord" for many centuries. Tradition says
that here the Saviour was confined just previously to the crucifixion.
Under an altar by the door was a pair of stone stocks for human legs.
These things are called the "Bonds of Christ," and the use they were once
put to has given them the name they now bear.

The Greek Chapel is the most roomy, the richest and the showiest chapel
in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its altar, like that of all the
Greek churches, is a lofty screen that extends clear across the chapel,
and is gorgeous with gilding and pictures. The numerous lamps that hang
before it are of gold and silver, and cost great sums.

But the feature of the place is a short column that rises from the middle
of the marble pavement of the chapel, and marks the exact centre of the
earth. The most reliable traditions tell us that this was known to be
the earth's centre, ages ago, and that when Christ was upon earth he set
all doubts upon the subject at rest forever, by stating with his own lips
that the tradition was correct. Remember, He said that that particular
column stood upon the centre of the world. If the centre of the world
changes, the column changes its position accordingly. This column has
moved three different times of its own accord. This is because, in great
convulsions of nature, at three different times, masses of the earth
--whole ranges of mountains, probably--have flown off into space, thus
lessening the diameter of the earth, and changing the exact locality of
its centre by a point or two. This is a very curious and interesting
circumstance, and is a withering rebuke to those philosophers who would
make us believe that it is not possible for any portion of the earth to
fly off into space.

To satisfy himself that this spot was really the centre of the earth, a
sceptic once paid well for the privilege of ascending to the dome of the
church to see if the sun gave him a shadow at noon. He came down
perfectly convinced. The day was very cloudy and the sun threw no
shadows at all; but the man was satisfied that if the sun had come out
and made shadows it could not have made any for him. Proofs like these
are not to be set aside by the idle tongues of cavilers. To such as are
not bigoted, and are willing to be convinced, they carry a conviction
that nothing can ever shake.

If even greater proofs than those I have mentioned are wanted, to satisfy
the headstrong and the foolish that this is the genuine centre of the
earth, they are here. The greatest of them lies in the fact that from
under this very column was taken the dust from which Adam was made. This
can surely be regarded in the light of a settler. It is not likely that
the original first man would have been made from an inferior quality of
earth when it was entirely convenient to get first quality from the
world's centre. This will strike any reflecting mind forcibly. That
Adam was formed of dirt procured in this very spot is amply proven by the
fact that in six thousand years no man has ever been able to prove that
the dirt was not procured here whereof he was made.

It is a singular circumstance that right under the roof of this same
great church, and not far away from that illustrious column, Adam
himself, the father of the human race, lies buried. There is no question
that he is actually buried in the grave which is pointed out as his
--there can be none--because it has never yet been proven that that grave
is not the grave in which he is buried.

The tomb of Adam! How touching it was, here in a land of strangers, far
away from home, and friends, and all who cared for me, thus to discover
the grave of a blood relation. True, a distant one, but still a
relation. The unerring instinct of nature thrilled its recognition. The
fountain of my filial affection was stirred to its profoundest depths,
and I gave way to tumultuous emotion. I leaned upon a pillar and burst
into tears. I deem it no shame to have wept over the grave of my poor
dead relative. 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. Noble old man--he did not live to see me--he did not live to see
his child. And I--I--alas, I did not live to see him. Weighed down by
sorrow and disappointment, he died before I was born--six thousand brief
summers before I was born. But let us try to bear it with fortitude.
Let us trust that he is better off where he is. Let us take comfort in
the thought that his loss is our eternal gain.

The next place the guide took us to in the holy church was an altar
dedicated to the Roman soldier who was of the military guard that
attended at the Crucifixion to keep order, and who--when the vail of the
Temple was rent in the awful darkness that followed; when the rock of
Golgotha was split asunder by an earthquake; when the artillery of heaven
thundered, and in the baleful glare of the lightnings the shrouded dead
flitted about the streets of Jerusalem--shook with fear and said, "Surely
this was the Son of God!" Where this altar stands now, that Roman
soldier stood then, in full view of the crucified Saviour--in full sight
and hearing of all the marvels that were transpiring far and wide about
the circumference of the Hill of Calvary. And in this self-same spot the
priests of the Temple beheaded him for those blasphemous words he had

In this altar they used to keep one of the most curious relics that human
eyes ever looked upon--a thing that had power to fascinate the beholder
in some mysterious way and keep him gazing for hours together. It was
nothing less than the copper plate Pilate put upon the Saviour's cross,
and upon which he wrote, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." I think St.
Helena, the mother of Constantine, found this wonderful memento when she
was here in the third century. She traveled all over Palestine, and was
always fortunate. Whenever the good old enthusiast found a thing
mentioned in her Bible, Old or New, she would go and search for that
thing, and never stop until she found it. If it was Adam, she would find
Adam; if it was the Ark, she would find the Ark; if it was Goliath, or
Joshua, she would find them. She found the inscription here that I was
speaking of, I think. She found it in this very spot, close to where the
martyred Roman soldier stood. That copper plate is in one of the
churches in Rome, now. Any one can see it there. The inscription is
very distinct.

We passed along a few steps and saw the altar built over the very spot
where the good Catholic priests say the soldiers divided the raiment of
the Saviour.

Then we went down into a cavern which cavilers say was once a cistern.
It is a chapel, now, however--the Chapel of St. Helena. It is fifty-one
feet long by forty-three wide. In it is a marble chair which Helena used
to sit in while she superintended her workmen when they were digging and
delving for the True Cross. In this place is an altar dedicated to St.
Dimas, the penitent thief. A new bronze statue is here--a statue of St.
Helena. It reminded us of poor Maximilian, so lately shot. He presented
it to this chapel when he was about to leave for his throne in Mexico.

From the cistern we descended twelve steps into a large roughly-shaped
grotto, carved wholly out of the living rock. Helena blasted it out when
she was searching for the true Cross. She had a laborious piece of work,
here, but it was richly rewarded. Out of this place she got the crown of
thorns, the nails of the cross, the true Cross itself, and the cross of
the penitent thief. When she thought she had found every thing and was
about to stop, she was told in a dream to continue a day longer. It was
very fortunate. She did so, and found the cross of the other thief.

The walls and roof of this grotto still weep bitter tears in memory of
the event that transpired on Calvary, and devout pilgrims groan and sob
when these sad tears fall upon them from the dripping rock. The monks
call this apartment the "Chapel of the Invention of the Cross"--a name
which is unfortunate, because it leads the ignorant to imagine that a
tacit acknowledgment is thus made that the tradition that Helena found
the true Cross here is a fiction--an invention. It is a happiness to
know, however, that intelligent people do not doubt the story in any of
its particulars.

Priests of any of the chapels and denominations in the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre can visit this sacred grotto to weep and pray and worship the
gentle Redeemer. Two different congregations are not allowed to enter at
the same time, however, because they always fight.

Still marching through the venerable Church of the Holy Sepulchre, among
chanting priests in coarse long robes and sandals; pilgrims of all colors
and many nationalities, in all sorts of strange costumes; under dusky
arches and by dingy piers and columns; through a sombre cathedral gloom
freighted with smoke and incense, and faintly starred with scores of
candles that appeared suddenly and as suddenly disappeared, or drifted
mysteriously hither and thither about the distant aisles like ghostly
jack-o'-lanterns--we came at last to a small chapel which is called the
"Chapel of the Mocking." Under the altar was a fragment of a marble
column; this was the seat Christ sat on when he was reviled, and
mockingly made King, crowned with a crown of thorns and sceptred with a
reed. It was here that they blindfolded him and struck him, and said in
derision, "Prophesy who it is that smote thee." The tradition that this
is the identical spot of the mocking is a very ancient one. The guide
said that Saewulf was the first to mention it. I do not know Saewulf,
but still, I cannot well refuse to receive his evidence--none of us can.

They showed us where the great Godfrey and his brother Baldwin, the first
Christian Kings of Jerusalem, once lay buried by that sacred sepulchre
they had fought so long and so valiantly to wrest from the hands of the
infidel. But the niches that had contained the ashes of these renowned
crusaders were empty. Even the coverings of their tombs were gone
--destroyed by devout members of the Greek Church, because Godfrey and
Baldwin were Latin princes, and had been reared in a Christian faith
whose creed differed in some unimportant respects from theirs.

We passed on, and halted before the tomb of Melchisedek! You will
remember Melchisedek, no doubt; he was the King who came out and levied a
tribute on Abraham the time that he pursued Lot's captors to Dan, and
took all their property from them. That was about four thousand years
ago, and Melchisedek died shortly afterward. However, his tomb is in a
good state of preservation.

When one enters the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Sepulchre itself is
the first thing he desires to see, and really is almost the first thing
he does see. The next thing he has a strong yearning to see is the spot
where the Saviour was crucified. But this they exhibit last. It is the
crowning glory of the place. One is grave and thoughtful when he stands
in the little Tomb of the Saviour--he could not well be otherwise in such
a place--but he has not the slightest possible belief that ever the Lord
lay there, and so the interest he feels in the spot is very, very greatly
marred by that reflection. He looks at the place where Mary stood, in
another part of the church, and where John stood, and Mary Magdalen;
where the mob derided the Lord; where the angel sat; where the crown of
thorns was found, and the true Cross; where the risen Saviour appeared
--he looks at all these places with interest, but with the same conviction
he felt in the case of the Sepulchre, that there is nothing genuine about
them, and that they are imaginary holy places created by the monks. But
the place of the Crucifixion affects him differently. He fully believes
that he is looking upon the very spot where the Savior gave up his
life. He remembers that Christ was very celebrated, long before he came
to Jerusalem; he knows that his fame was so great that crowds followed
him all the time; he is aware that his entry into the city produced a
stirring sensation, and that his reception was a kind of ovation; he can
not overlook the fact that when he was crucified there were very many in
Jerusalem who believed that he was the true Son of God. To publicly
execute such a personage was sufficient in itself to make the locality of
the execution a memorable place for ages; added to this, the storm, the
darkness, the earthquake, the rending of the vail of the Temple, and the
untimely waking of the dead, were events calculated to fix the execution
and the scene of it in the memory of even the most thoughtless witness.
Fathers would tell their sons about the strange affair, and point out the
spot; the sons would transmit the story to their children, and thus a
period of three hundred years would easily be spanned--[The thought is
Mr. Prime's, not mine, and is full of good sense. I borrowed it from his
"Tent Life."--M. T.]--at which time Helena came and built a church upon
Calvary to commemorate the death and burial of the Lord and preserve the
sacred place in the memories of men; since that time there has always
been a church there. It is not possible that there can be any mistake
about the locality of the Crucifixion. Not half a dozen persons knew
where they buried the Saviour, perhaps, and a burial is not a startling
event, any how; therefore, we can be pardoned for unbelief in the
Sepulchre, but not in the place of the Crucifixion. Five hundred years
hence there will be no vestige of Bunker Hill Monument left, but America
will still know where the battle was fought and where Warren fell. The
crucifixion of Christ was too notable an event in Jerusalem, and the Hill
of Calvary made too celebrated by it, to be forgotten in the short space
of three hundred years. I climbed the stairway in the church which
brings one to the top of the small inclosed pinnacle of rock, and looked
upon the place where the true cross once stood, with a far more absorbing
interest than I had ever felt in any thing earthly before. I could not
believe that the three holes in the top of the rock were the actual ones
the crosses stood in, but I felt satisfied that those crosses had stood
so near the place now occupied by them, that the few feet of possible
difference were a matter of no consequence.

When one stands where the Saviour was crucified, he finds it all he can
do to keep it strictly before his mind that Christ was not crucified in a
Catholic Church. He must remind himself every now and then that the
great event transpired in the open air, and not in a gloomy,
candle-lighted cell in a little corner of a vast church, up-stairs
--a small cell all bejeweled and bespangled with flashy ornamentation,
in execrable taste.

Under a marble altar like a table, is a circular hole in the marble
floor, corresponding with the one just under it in which the true Cross
stood. The first thing every one does is to kneel down and take a candle
and examine this hole. He does this strange prospecting with an amount
of gravity that can never be estimated or appreciated by a man who has
not seen the operation. Then he holds his candle before a richly
engraved picture of the Saviour, done on a messy slab of gold, and
wonderfully rayed and starred with diamonds, which hangs above the hole
within the altar, and his solemnity changes to lively admiration. He
rises and faces the finely wrought figures of the Saviour and the
malefactors uplifted upon their crosses behind the altar, and bright with
a metallic lustre of many colors. He turns next to the figures close to
them of the Virgin and Mary Magdalen; next to the rift in the living rock
made by the earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion, and an extension
of which he had seen before in the wall of one of the grottoes below; he
looks next at the show-case with a figure of the Virgin in it, and is
amazed at the princely fortune in precious gems and jewelry that hangs so
thickly about the form as to hide it like a garment almost. All about
the apartment the gaudy trappings of the Greek Church offend the eye and
keep the mind on the rack to remember that this is the Place of the
Crucifixion--Golgotha--the Mount of Calvary. And the last thing he looks
at is that which was also the first--the place where the true Cross
stood. That will chain him to the spot and compel him to look once more,
and once again, after he has satisfied all curiosity and lost all
interest concerning the other matters pertaining to the locality.

And so I close my chapter on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre--the most
sacred locality on earth to millions and millions of men, and women, and
children, the noble and the humble, bond and free. In its history from
the first, and in its tremendous associations, it is the most illustrious
edifice in Christendom. With all its clap-trap side-shows and unseemly
impostures of every kind, it is still grand, reverend, venerable--for a
god died there; for fifteen hundred years its shrines have been wet with
the tears of pilgrims from the earth's remotest confines; for more than
two hundred, the most gallant knights that ever wielded sword wasted
their lives away in a struggle to seize it and hold it sacred from
infidel pollution. Even in our own day a war, that cost millions of
treasure and rivers of blood, was fought because two rival nations
claimed the sole right to put a new dome upon it. History is full of
this old Church of the Holy Sepulchre--full of blood that was shed
because of the respect and the veneration in which men held the last
resting-place of the meek and lowly, the mild and gentle, Prince of


We were standing in a narrow street, by the Tower of Antonio. "On these
stones that are crumbling away," the guide said, "the Saviour sat and
rested before taking up the cross. This is the beginning of the
Sorrowful Way, or the Way of Grief." The party took note of the sacred
spot, and moved on. We passed under the "Ecce Homo Arch," and saw the
very window from which Pilate's wife warned her husband to have nothing
to do with the persecution of the Just Man. This window is in an
excellent state of preservation, considering its great age. They showed
us where Jesus rested the second time, and where the mob refused to give
him up, and said, "Let his blood be upon our heads, and upon our
children's children forever." The French Catholics are building a church
on this spot, and with their usual veneration for historical relics, are
incorporating into the new such scraps of ancient walls as they have
found there. Further on, we saw the spot where the fainting Saviour fell
under the weight of his cross. A great granite column of some ancient
temple lay there at the time, and the heavy cross struck it such a blow
that it broke in two in the middle. Such was the guide's story when he
halted us before the broken column.

We crossed a street, and came presently to the former residence of St.
Veronica. When the Saviour passed there, she came out, full of womanly
compassion, and spoke pitying words to him, undaunted by the hootings and
the threatenings of the mob, and wiped the perspiration from his face
with her handkerchief. We had heard so much of St. Veronica, and seen
her picture by so many masters, that it was like meeting an old friend
unexpectedly to come upon her ancient home in Jerusalem. The strangest
thing about the incident that has made her name so famous, is, that when
she wiped the perspiration away, the print of the Saviour's face remained
upon the handkerchief, a perfect portrait, and so remains unto this day.
We knew this, because we saw this handkerchief in a cathedral in Paris,
in another in Spain, and in two others in Italy. In the Milan cathedral
it costs five francs to see it, and at St. Peter's, at Rome, it is almost
impossible to see it at any price. No tradition is so amply verified as
this of St. Veronica and her handkerchief.

At the next corner we saw a deep indention in the hard stone masonry of
the corner of a house, but might have gone heedlessly by it but that the
guide said it was made by the elbow of the Saviour, who stumbled here and
fell. Presently we came to just such another indention in a stone wall.
The guide said the Saviour fell here, also, and made this depression with
his elbow.

There were other places where the Lord fell, and others where he rested;
but one of the most curious landmarks of ancient history we found on this
morning walk through the crooked lanes that lead toward Calvary, was a
certain stone built into a house--a stone that was so seamed and scarred
that it bore a sort of grotesque resemblance to the human face. The
projections that answered for cheeks were worn smooth by the passionate
kisses of generations of pilgrims from distant lands. We asked "Why?"
The guide said it was because this was one of "the very stones of
Jerusalem" that Christ mentioned when he was reproved for permitting the
people to cry "Hosannah!" when he made his memorable entry into the
city upon an ass. One of the pilgrims said, "But there is no evidence
that the stones did cry out--Christ said that if the people stopped from
shouting Hosannah, the very stones would do it." The guide was perfectly
serene. He said, calmly, "This is one of the stones that would have
cried out. "It was of little use to try to shake this fellow's simple
faith--it was easy to see that.

And so we came at last to another wonder, of deep and abiding interest
--the veritable house where the unhappy wretch once lived who has been
celebrated in song and story for more than eighteen hundred years as the
Wandering Jew. On the memorable day of the Crucifixion he stood in this
old doorway with his arms akimbo, looking out upon the struggling mob
that was approaching, and when the weary Saviour would have sat down and
rested him a moment, pushed him rudely away and said, "Move on!" The
Lord said, "Move on, thou, likewise," and the command has never been
revoked from that day to this. All men know how that the miscreant upon
whose head that just curse fell has roamed up and down the wide world,
for ages and ages, seeking rest and never finding it--courting death but
always in vain--longing to stop, in city, in wilderness, in desert
solitudes, yet hearing always that relentless warning to march--march on!
They say--do these hoary traditions--that when Titus sacked Jerusalem and
slaughtered eleven hundred thousand Jews in her streets and by-ways, the
Wandering Jew was seen always in the thickest of the fight, and that when
battle-axes gleamed in the air, he bowed his head beneath them; when
swords flashed their deadly lightnings, he sprang in their way; he bared
his breast to whizzing javelins, to hissing arrows, to any and to every
weapon that promised death and forgetfulness, and rest. But it was
useless--he walked forth out of the carnage without a wound. And it is
said that five hundred years afterward he followed Mahomet when he
carried destruction to the cities of Arabia, and then turned against him,
hoping in this way to win the death of a traitor. His calculations were
wrong again. No quarter was given to any living creature but one, and
that was the only one of all the host that did not want it. He sought
death five hundred years later, in the wars of the Crusades, and offered
himself to famine and pestilence at Ascalon. He escaped again--he could
not die. These repeated annoyances could have at last but one effect
--they shook his confidence. Since then the Wandering Jew has carried on a
kind of desultory toying with the most promising of the aids and
implements of destruction, but with small hope, as a general thing. He
has speculated some in cholera and railroads, and has taken almost a
lively interest in infernal machines and patent medicines. He is old,
now, and grave, as becomes an age like his; he indulges in no light
amusements save that he goes sometimes to executions, and is fond of

There is one thing he can not avoid; go where he will about the world, he
must never fail to report in Jerusalem every fiftieth year. Only a year
or two ago he was here for the thirty-seventh time since Jesus was
crucified on Calvary. They say that many old people, who are here now,
saw him then, and had seen him before. He looks always the same--old,
and withered, and hollow-eyed, and listless, save that there is about him
something which seems to suggest that he is looking for some one,
expecting some one--the friends of his youth, perhaps. But the most of
them are dead, now. He always pokes about the old streets looking
lonesome, making his mark on a wall here and there, and eyeing the oldest
buildings with a sort of friendly half interest; and he sheds a few tears
at the threshold of his ancient dwelling, and bitter, bitter tears they
are. Then he collects his rent and leaves again. He has been seen
standing near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on many a starlight night,
for he has cherished an idea for many centuries that if he could only
enter there, he could rest. But when he approaches, the doors slam to
with a crash, the earth trembles, and all the lights in Jerusalem burn a
ghastly blue! He does this every fifty years, just the same. It is
hopeless, but then it is hard to break habits one has been eighteen
hundred years accustomed to. The old tourist is far away on his
wanderings, now. How he must smile to see a pack of blockheads like us,
galloping about the world, and looking wise, and imagining we are finding
out a good deal about it! He must have a consuming contempt for the
ignorant, complacent asses that go skurrying about the world in these
railroading days and call it traveling.

When the guide pointed out where the Wandering Jew had left his familiar
mark upon a wall, I was filled with astonishment. It read:

"S. T.--1860--X."

All I have revealed about the Wandering Jew can be amply proven by
reference to our guide.

The mighty Mosque of Omar, and the paved court around it, occupy a fourth
part of Jerusalem. They are upon Mount Moriah, where King Solomon's
Temple stood. This Mosque is the holiest place the Mohammedan knows,
outside of Mecca. Up to within a year or two past, no Christian could
gain admission to it or its court for love or money. But the prohibition
has been removed, and we entered freely for bucksheesh.

I need not speak of the wonderful beauty and the exquisite grace and
symmetry that have made this Mosque so celebrated--because I did not see
them. One can not see such things at an instant glance--one frequently
only finds out how really beautiful a really beautiful woman is after
considerable acquaintance with her; and the rule applies to Niagara
Falls, to majestic mountains and to mosques--especially to mosques.

The great feature of the Mosque of Omar is the prodigious rock in the
centre of its rotunda. It was upon this rock that Abraham came so near
offering up his son Isaac--this, at least, is authentic--it is very much
more to be relied on than most of the traditions, at any rate. On this
rock, also, the angel stood and threatened Jerusalem, and David persuaded
him to spare the city. Mahomet was well acquainted with this stone.
From it he ascended to heaven. The stone tried to follow him, and if the
angel Gabriel had not happened by the merest good luck to be there to
seize it, it would have done it. Very few people have a grip like
Gabriel--the prints of his monstrous fingers, two inches deep, are to be
seen in that rock to-day.

This rock, large as it is, is suspended in the air. It does not touch
any thing at all. The guide said so. This is very wonderful. In the
place on it where Mahomet stood, he left his foot-prints in the solid
stone. I should judge that he wore about eighteens. But what I was
going to say, when I spoke of the rock being suspended, was, that in the
floor of the cavern under it they showed us a slab which they said
covered a hole which was a thing of extraordinary interest to all
Mohammedans, because that hole leads down to perdition, and every soul
that is transferred from thence to Heaven must pass up through this
orifice. Mahomet stands there and lifts them out by the hair. All
Mohammedans shave their heads, but they are careful to leave a lock of
hair for the Prophet to take hold of. Our guide observed that a good
Mohammedan would consider himself doomed to stay with the damned forever
if he were to lose his scalp-lock and die before it grew again. The most
of them that I have seen ought to stay with the damned, any how, without
reference to how they were barbered.

For several ages no woman has been allowed to enter the cavern where that
important hole is. The reason is that one of the sex was once caught
there blabbing every thing she knew about what was going on above ground,
to the rapscallions in the infernal regions down below. She carried her
gossiping to such an extreme that nothing could be kept private--nothing
could be done or said on earth but every body in perdition knew all about
it before the sun went down. It was about time to suppress this woman's
telegraph, and it was promptly done. Her breath subsided about the same

The inside of the great mosque is very showy with variegated marble walls
and with windows and inscriptions of elaborate mosaic. The Turks have
their sacred relics, like the Catholics. The guide showed us the
veritable armor worn by the great son-in-law and successor of Mahomet,
and also the buckler of Mahomet's uncle. The great iron railing which
surrounds the rock was ornamented in one place with a thousand rags tied
to its open work. These are to remind Mahomet not to forget the
worshipers who placed them there. It is considered the next best thing
to tying threads around his finger by way of reminders.

Just outside the mosque is a miniature temple, which marks the spot where
David and Goliah used to sit and judge the people.--[A pilgrim informs
me that it was not David and Goliah, but David and Saul. I stick to my
own statement--the guide told me, and he ought to know.]

Every where about the Mosque of Omar are portions of pillars, curiously
wrought altars, and fragments of elegantly carved marble--precious
remains of Solomon's Temple. These have been dug from all depths in the
soil and rubbish of Mount Moriah, and the Moslems have always shown a
disposition to preserve them with the utmost care. At that portion of
the ancient wall of Solomon's Temple which is called the Jew's Place of
Wailing, and where the Hebrews assemble every Friday to kiss the
venerated stones and weep over the fallen greatness of Zion, any one can
see a part of the unquestioned and undisputed Temple of Solomon, the same
consisting of three or four stones lying one upon the other, each of
which is about twice as long as a seven-octave piano, and about as thick
as such a piano is high. But, as I have remarked before, it is only a
year or two ago that the ancient edict prohibiting Christian rubbish like
ourselves to enter the Mosque of Omar and see the costly marbles that
once adorned the inner Temple was annulled. The designs wrought upon
these fragments are all quaint and peculiar, and so the charm of novelty
is added to the deep interest they naturally inspire. One meets with
these venerable scraps at every turn, especially in the neighboring
Mosque el Aksa, into whose inner walls a very large number of them are
carefully built for preservation. These pieces of stone, stained and
dusty with age, dimly hint at a grandeur we have all been taught to
regard as the princeliest ever seen on earth; and they call up pictures
of a pageant that is familiar to all imaginations--camels laden with
spices and treasure--beautiful slaves, presents for Solomon's harem--a
long cavalcade of richly caparisoned beasts and warriors--and Sheba's
Queen in the van of this vision of "Oriental magnificence." These
elegant fragments bear a richer interest than the solemn vastness of the
stones the Jews kiss in the Place of Wailing can ever have for the
heedless sinner.

Down in the hollow ground, underneath the olives and the orange-trees
that flourish in the court of the great Mosque, is a wilderness of
pillars--remains of the ancient Temple; they supported it. There are
ponderous archways down there, also, over which the destroying "plough"
of prophecy passed harmless. It is pleasant to know we are disappointed,
in that we never dreamed we might see portions of the actual Temple of
Solomon, and yet experience no shadow of suspicion that they were a
monkish humbug and a fraud.

We are surfeited with sights. Nothing has any fascination for us, now,
but the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We have been there every day, and
have not grown tired of it; but we are weary of every thing else. The
sights are too many. They swarm about you at every step; no single foot
of ground in all Jerusalem or within its neighborhood seems to be without
a stirring and important history of its own. It is a very relief to
steal a walk of a hundred yards without a guide along to talk unceasingly
about every stone you step upon and drag you back ages and ages to the
day when it achieved celebrity.

It seems hardly real when I find myself leaning for a moment on a ruined
wall and looking listlessly down into the historic pool of Bethesda. I
did not think such things could be so crowded together as to diminish
their interest. But in serious truth, we have been drifting about, for
several days, using our eyes and our ears more from a sense of duty than
any higher and worthier reason. And too often we have been glad when it
was time to go home and be distressed no more about illustrious

Our pilgrims compress too much into one day. One can gorge sights to
repletion as well as sweetmeats. Since we breakfasted, this morning, we
have seen enough to have furnished us food for a year's reflection if we
could have seen the various objects in comfort and looked upon them
deliberately. We visited the pool of Hezekiah, where David saw Uriah's
wife coming from the bath and fell in love with her.

We went out of the city by the Jaffa gate, and of course were told many
things about its Tower of Hippicus.

We rode across the Valley of Hinnom, between two of the Pools of Gihon,
and by an aqueduct built by Solomon, which still conveys water to the
city. We ascended the Hill of Evil Counsel, where Judas received his
thirty pieces of silver, and we also lingered a moment under the tree a
venerable tradition says he hanged himself on.

We descended to the canon again, and then the guide began to give name
and history to every bank and boulder we came to: "This was the Field of
Blood; these cuttings in the rocks were shrines and temples of Moloch;
here they sacrificed children; yonder is the Zion Gate; the Tyropean
Valley, the Hill of Ophel; here is the junction of the Valley of
Jehoshaphat--on your right is the Well of Job." We turned up
Jehoshaphat. The recital went on. "This is the Mount of Olives; this is
the Hill of Offense; the nest of huts is the Village of Siloam; here,
yonder, every where, is the King's Garden; under this great tree
Zacharias, the high priest, was murdered; yonder is Mount Moriah and the
Temple wall; the tomb of Absalom; the tomb of St. James; the tomb of
Zacharias; beyond, are the Garden of Gethsemane and the tomb of the
Virgin Mary; here is the Pool of Siloam, and----"

We said we would dismount, and quench our thirst, and rest. We were
burning up with the heat. We were failing under the accumulated fatigue
of days and days of ceaseless marching. All were willing.

The Pool is a deep, walled ditch, through which a clear stream of water
runs, that comes from under Jerusalem somewhere, and passing through the
Fountain of the Virgin, or being supplied from it, reaches this place by
way of a tunnel of heavy masonry. The famous pool looked exactly as it
looked in Solomon's time, no doubt, and the same dusky, Oriental women,
came down in their old Oriental way, and carried off jars of the water on
their heads, just as they did three thousand years ago, and just as they
will do fifty thousand years hence if any of them are still left on

We went away from there and stopped at the Fountain of the Virgin. But
the water was not good, and there was no comfort or peace any where, on
account of the regiment of boys and girls and beggars that persecuted us
all the time for bucksheesh. The guide wanted us to give them some
money, and we did it; but when he went on to say that they were starving
to death we could not but feel that we had done a great sin in throwing
obstacles in the way of such a desirable consummation, and so we tried to
collect it back, but it could not be done.

We entered the Garden of Gethsemane, and we visited the Tomb of the
Virgin, both of which we had seen before. It is not meet that I should
speak of them now. A more fitting time will come.

I can not speak now of the Mount of Olives or its view of Jerusalem, the
Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab; nor of the Damascus Gate or the tree
that was planted by King Godfrey of Jerusalem. One ought to feel
pleasantly when he talks of these things. I can not say any thing about
the stone column that projects over Jehoshaphat from the Temple wall like
a cannon, except that the Moslems believe Mahomet will sit astride of it
when he comes to judge the world. It is a pity he could not judge it
from some roost of his own in Mecca, without trespassing on our holy
ground. Close by is the Golden Gate, in the Temple wall--a gate that was
an elegant piece of sculpture in the time of the Temple, and is even so
yet. From it, in ancient times, the Jewish High Priest turned loose the
scapegoat and let him flee to the wilderness and bear away his
twelve-month load of the sins of the people. If they were to turn one
loose now, he would not get as far as the Garden of Gethsemane, till
these miserable vagabonds here would gobble him up,--[Favorite pilgrim
expression.]--sins and all. They wouldn't care. Mutton-chops and sin
is good enough living for them. The Moslems watch the Golden Gate with
a jealous eye, and an anxious one, for they have an honored tradition
that when it falls, Islamism will fall and with it the Ottoman Empire.
It did not grieve me any to notice that the old gate was getting a
little shaky.

We are at home again. We are exhausted. The sun has roasted us, almost.
We have full comfort in one reflection, however. Our experiences in
Europe have taught us that in time this fatigue will be forgotten; the
heat will be forgotten; the thirst, the tiresome volubility of the guide,
the persecutions of the beggars--and then, all that will be left will be
pleasant memories of Jerusalem, memories we shall call up with always
increasing interest as the years go by, memories which some day will
become all beautiful when the last annoyance that incumbers them shall
have faded out of our minds never again to return. School-boy days are
no happier than the days of after life, but we look back upon them
regretfully because we have forgotten our punishments at school, and how
we grieved when our marbles were lost and our kites destroyed--because we
have forgotten all the sorrows and privations of that canonized epoch and
remember only its orchard robberies, its wooden sword pageants and its
fishing holydays. We are satisfied. We can wait. Our reward will come.
To us, Jerusalem and to-day's experiences will be an enchanted memory a
year hence--memory which money could not buy from us.


We cast up the account. It footed up pretty fairly. There was nothing
more at Jerusalem to be seen, except the traditional houses of Dives and
Lazarus of the parable, the Tombs of the Kings, and those of the Judges;
the spot where they stoned one of the disciples to death, and beheaded
another; the room and the table made celebrated by the Last Supper; the
fig-tree that Jesus withered; a number of historical places about
Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives, and fifteen or twenty others in
different portions of the city itself.

We were approaching the end. Human nature asserted itself, now.
Overwork and consequent exhaustion began to have their natural effect.
They began to master the energies and dull the ardor of the party.
Perfectly secure now, against failing to accomplish any detail of the
pilgrimage, they felt like drawing in advance upon the holiday soon to be
placed to their credit. They grew a little lazy. They were late to
breakfast and sat long at dinner. Thirty or forty pilgrims had arrived
from the ship, by the short routes, and much swapping of gossip had to be
indulged in. And in hot afternoons, they showed a strong disposition to
lie on the cool divans in the hotel and smoke and talk about pleasant
experiences of a month or so gone by--for even thus early do episodes of
travel which were sometimes annoying, sometimes exasperating and full as
often of no consequence at all when they transpired, begin to rise above
the dead level of monotonous reminiscences and become shapely landmarks
in one's memory. The fog-whistle, smothered among a million of trifling
sounds, is not noticed a block away, in the city, but the sailor hears it
far at sea, whither none of those thousands of trifling sounds can reach.
When one is in Rome, all the domes are alike; but when he has gone away
twelve miles, the city fades utterly from sight and leaves St. Peter's
swelling above the level plain like an anchored balloon. When one is
traveling in Europe, the daily incidents seem all alike; but when he has
placed them all two months and two thousand miles behind him, those that
were worthy of being remembered are prominent, and those that were really
insignificant have vanished. This disposition to smoke, and idle and
talk, was not well. It was plain that it must not be allowed to gain
ground. A diversion must be tried, or demoralization would ensue. The
Jordan, Jericho and the Dead Sea were suggested. The remainder of
Jerusalem must be left unvisited, for a little while. The journey was
approved at once. New life stirred in every pulse. In the saddle
--abroad on the plains--sleeping in beds bounded only by the horizon: fancy
was at work with these things in a moment.--It was painful to note how
readily these town-bred men had taken to the free life of the camp and
the desert The nomadic instinct is a human instinct; it was born with
Adam and transmitted through the patriarchs, and after thirty centuries
of steady effort, civilization has not educated it entirely out of us
yet. It has a charm which, once tasted, a man will yearn to taste again.
The nomadic instinct can not be educated out of an Indian at all.

The Jordan journey being approved, our dragoman was notified.

At nine in the morning the caravan was before the hotel door and we were
at breakfast. There was a commotion about the place. Rumors of war and
bloodshed were flying every where. The lawless Bedouins in the Valley of
the Jordan and the deserts down by the Dead Sea were up in arms, and were
going to destroy all comers. They had had a battle with a troop of
Turkish cavalry and defeated them; several men killed. They had shut up
the inhabitants of a village and a Turkish garrison in an old fort near
Jericho, and were besieging them. They had marched upon a camp of our
excursionists by the Jordan, and the pilgrims only saved their lives by
stealing away and flying to Jerusalem under whip and spur in the darkness
of the night. Another of our parties had been fired on from an ambush
and then attacked in the open day. Shots were fired on both sides.
Fortunately there was no bloodshed. We spoke with the very pilgrim who
had fired one of the shots, and learned from his own lips how, in this
imminent deadly peril, only the cool courage of the pilgrims, their
strength of numbers and imposing display of war material, had saved them
from utter destruction. It was reported that the Consul had requested
that no more of our pilgrims should go to the Jordan while this state of
things lasted; and further, that he was unwilling that any more should
go, at least without an unusually strong military guard. Here was
trouble. But with the horses at the door and every body aware of what
they were there for, what would you have done? Acknowledged that you
were afraid, and backed shamefully out? Hardly. It would not be human
nature, where there were so many women. You would have done as we did:
said you were not afraid of a million Bedouins--and made your will and
proposed quietly to yourself to take up an unostentatious position in the
rear of the procession.

I think we must all have determined upon the same line of tactics, for it
did seem as if we never would get to Jericho. I had a notoriously slow
horse, but somehow I could not keep him in the rear, to save my neck.
He was forever turning up in the lead. In such cases I trembled a
little, and got down to fix my saddle. But it was not of any use. The
others all got down to fix their saddles, too. I never saw such a time
with saddles. It was the first time any of them had got out of order in
three weeks, and now they had all broken down at once. I tried walking,
for exercise--I had not had enough in Jerusalem searching for holy
places. But it was a failure. The whole mob were suffering for
exercise, and it was not fifteen minutes till they were all on foot and I
had the lead again. It was very discouraging.

This was all after we got beyond Bethany. We stopped at the village of
Bethany, an hour out from Jerusalem. They showed us the tomb of Lazarus.
I had rather live in it than in any house in the town. And they showed
us also a large "Fountain of Lazarus," and in the centre of the village
the ancient dwelling of Lazarus. Lazarus appears to have been a man of
property. The legends of the Sunday Schools do him great injustice; they
give one the impression that he was poor. It is because they get him
confused with that Lazarus who had no merit but his virtue, and virtue
never has been as respectable as money. The house of Lazarus is a
three-story edifice, of stone masonry, but the accumulated rubbish of
ages has buried all of it but the upper story. We took candles and
descended to the dismal cell-like chambers where Jesus sat at meat with
Martha and Mary, and conversed with them about their brother. We could
not but look upon these old dingy apartments with a more than common

We had had a glimpse, from a mountain top, of the Dead Sea, lying like a
blue shield in the plain of the Jordan, and now we were marching down a
close, flaming, rugged, desolate defile, where no living creature could
enjoy life, except, perhaps, a salamander. It was such a dreary,
repulsive, horrible solitude! It was the "wilderness" where John
preached, with camel's hair about his loins--raiment enough--but he never
could have got his locusts and wild honey here. We were moping along
down through this dreadful place, every man in the rear. Our guards--two
gorgeous young Arab sheiks, with cargoes of swords, guns, pistols and
daggers on board--were loafing ahead.


Every man shrunk up and disappeared in his clothes like a mud-turtle.
My first impulse was to dash forward and destroy the Bedouins. My second
was to dash to the rear to see if there were any coming in that
direction. I acted on the latter impulse. So did all the others. If
any Bedouins had approached us, then, from that point of the compass,
they would have paid dearly for their rashness. We all remarked that,
afterwards. There would have been scenes of riot and bloodshed there
that no pen could describe. I know that, because each man told what he
would have done, individually; and such a medley of strange and
unheard-of inventions of cruelty you could not conceive of. One man
said he had calmly made up his mind to perish where he stood, if need
be, but never yield an inch; he was going to wait, with deadly patience,
till he could count the stripes upon the first Bedouin's jacket, and
then count them and let him have it. Another was going to sit still
till the first lance reached within an inch of his breast, and then
dodge it and seize it. I forbear to tell what he was going to do to
that Bedouin that owned it. It makes my blood run cold to think of it.
Another was going to scalp such Bedouins as fell to his share, and take
his bald-headed sons of the desert home with him alive for trophies.
But the wild-eyed pilgrim rhapsodist was silent. His orbs gleamed with
a deadly light, but his lips moved not. Anxiety grew, and he was
questioned. If he had got a Bedouin, what would he have done with him
--shot him? He smiled a smile of grim contempt and shook his head.
Would he have stabbed him? Another shake. Would he have quartered him
--flayed him? More shakes. Oh! horror what would he have done?

"Eat him!"

Such was the awful sentence that thundered from his lips. What was
grammar to a desperado like that? I was glad in my heart that I had been
spared these scenes of malignant carnage. No Bedouins attacked our
terrible rear. And none attacked the front. The new-comers were only a
reinforcement of cadaverous Arabs, in shirts and bare legs, sent far
ahead of us to brandish rusty guns, and shout and brag, and carry on like
lunatics, and thus scare away all bands of marauding Bedouins that might
lurk about our path. What a shame it is that armed white Christians must
travel under guard of vermin like this as a protection against the
prowling vagabonds of the desert--those sanguinary outlaws who are always
going to do something desperate, but never do it. I may as well mention
here that on our whole trip we saw no Bedouins, and had no more use for
an Arab guard than we could have had for patent leather boots and white
kid gloves. The Bedouins that attacked the other parties of pilgrims so
fiercely were provided for the occasion by the Arab guards of those
parties, and shipped from Jerusalem for temporary service as Bedouins.
They met together in full view of the pilgrims, after the battle, and
took lunch, divided the bucksheesh extorted in the season of danger, and
then accompanied the cavalcade home to the city! The nuisance of an Arab
guard is one which is created by the Sheiks and the Bedouins together,
for mutual profit, it is said, and no doubt there is a good deal of truth
in it.

We visited the fountain the prophet Elisha sweetened (it is sweet yet,)
where he remained some time and was fed by the ravens.

Ancient Jericho is not very picturesque as a ruin. When Joshua marched
around it seven times, some three thousand years ago, and blew it down
with his trumpet, he did the work so well and so completely that he
hardly left enough of the city to cast a shadow. The curse pronounced
against the rebuilding of it, has never been removed. One King, holding
the curse in light estimation, made the attempt, but was stricken sorely
for his presumption. Its site will always remain unoccupied; and yet it
is one of the very best locations for a town we have seen in all

At two in the morning they routed us out of bed--another piece of
unwarranted cruelty--another stupid effort of our dragoman to get ahead
of a rival. It was not two hours to the Jordan. However, we were
dressed and under way before any one thought of looking to see what time
it was, and so we drowsed on through the chill night air and dreamed of
camp fires, warm beds, and other comfortable things.

There was no conversation. People do not talk when they are cold, and
wretched, and sleepy. We nodded in the saddle, at times, and woke up
with a start to find that the procession had disappeared in the gloom.
Then there was energy and attention to business until its dusky outlines
came in sight again. Occasionally the order was passed in a low voice
down the line: "Close up--close up! Bedouins lurk here, every where!"
What an exquisite shudder it sent shivering along one's spine!

We reached the famous river before four o'clock, and the night was so
black that we could have ridden into it without seeing it. Some of us
were in an unhappy frame of mind. We waited and waited for daylight, but
it did not come. Finally we went away in the dark and slept an hour on
the ground, in the bushes, and caught cold. It was a costly nap, on that
account, but otherwise it was a paying investment because it brought
unconsciousness of the dreary minutes and put us in a somewhat fitter
mood for a first glimpse of the sacred river.

With the first suspicion of dawn, every pilgrim took off his clothes and
waded into the dark torrent, singing:

"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wistful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie."

But they did not sing long. The water was so fearfully cold that they
were obliged to stop singing and scamper out again. Then they stood on
the bank shivering, and so chagrined and so grieved, that they merited
holiest compassion. Because another dream, another cherished hope, had
failed. They had promised themselves all along that they would cross the
Jordan where the Israelites crossed it when they entered Canaan from
their long pilgrimage in the desert. They would cross where the twelve
stones were placed in memory of that great event. While they did it they
would picture to themselves that vast army of pilgrims marching through
the cloven waters, bearing the hallowed ark of the covenant and shouting
hosannahs, and singing songs of thanksgiving and praise. Each had
promised himself that he would be the first to cross. They were at the
goal of their hopes at last, but the current was too swift, the water was
too cold!

It was then that Jack did them a service. With that engaging
recklessness of consequences which is natural to youth, and so proper and
so seemly, as well, he went and led the way across the Jordan, and all
was happiness again. Every individual waded over, then, and stood upon
the further bank. The water was not quite breast deep, any where. If it
had been more, we could hardly have accomplished the feat, for the strong
current would have swept us down the stream, and we would have been
exhausted and drowned before reaching a place where we could make a
landing. The main object compassed, the drooping, miserable party sat
down to wait for the sun again, for all wanted to see the water as well
as feel it. But it was too cold a pastime. Some cans were filled from
the holy river, some canes cut from its banks, and then we mounted and
rode reluctantly away to keep from freezing to death. So we saw the
Jordan very dimly. The thickets of bushes that bordered its banks threw
their shadows across its shallow, turbulent waters ("stormy," the hymn
makes them, which is rather a complimentary stretch of fancy,) and we
could not judge of the width of the stream by the eye. We knew by our
wading experience, however, that many streets in America are double as
wide as the Jordan.

Daylight came, soon after we got under way, and in the course of an hour
or two we reached the Dead Sea. Nothing grows in the flat, burning
desert around it but weeds and the Dead Sea apple the poets say is
beautiful to the eye, but crumbles to ashes and dust when you break it.
Such as we found were not handsome, but they were bitter to the taste.
They yielded no dust. It was because they were not ripe, perhaps.

The desert and the barren hills gleam painfully in the sun, around the
Dead Sea, and there is no pleasant thing or living creature upon it or
about its borders to cheer the eye. It is a scorching, arid, repulsive
solitude. A silence broods over the scene that is depressing to the
spirits. It makes one think of funerals and death.

The Dead Sea is small. Its waters are very clear, and it has a pebbly
bottom and is shallow for some distance out from the shores. It yields
quantities of asphaltum; fragments of it lie all about its banks; this
stuff gives the place something of an unpleasant smell.

All our reading had taught us to expect that the first plunge into the
Dead Sea would be attended with distressing results--our bodies would
feel as if they were suddenly pierced by millions of red-hot needles; the
dreadful smarting would continue for hours; we might even look to be
blistered from head to foot, and suffer miserably for many days. We were
disappointed. Our eight sprang in at the same time that another party of
pilgrims did, and nobody screamed once. None of them ever did complain
of any thing more than a slight pricking sensation in places where their
skin was abraded, and then only for a short time. My face smarted for a
couple of hours, but it was partly because I got it badly sun-burned
while I was bathing, and staid in so long that it became plastered over
with salt.

No, the water did not blister us; it did not cover us with a slimy ooze
and confer upon us an atrocious fragrance; it was not very slimy; and I
could not discover that we smelt really any worse than we have always
smelt since we have been in Palestine. It was only a different kind of
smell, but not conspicuous on that account, because we have a great deal
of variety in that respect. We didn't smell, there on the Jordan, the
same as we do in Jerusalem; and we don't smell in Jerusalem just as we
did in Nazareth, or Tiberias, or Cesarea Philippi, or any of those other
ruinous ancient towns in Galilee. No, we change all the time, and
generally for the worse. We do our own washing.

It was a funny bath. We could not sink. One could stretch himself at
full length on his back, with his arms on his breast, and all of his body
above a line drawn from the corner of his jaw past the middle of his
side, the middle of his leg and through his ancle bone, would remain out
of water. He could lift his head clear out, if he chose. No position
can be retained long; you lose your balance and whirl over, first on your
back and then on your face, and so on. You can lie comfortably, on your
back, with your head out, and your legs out from your knees down, by
steadying yourself with your hands. You can sit, with your knees drawn
up to your chin and your arms clasped around them, but you are bound to
turn over presently, because you are top-heavy in that position. You can
stand up straight in water that is over your head, and from the middle of
your breast upward you will not be wet. But you can not remain so. The
water will soon float your feet to the surface. You can not swim on your
back and make any progress of any consequence, because your feet stick
away above the surface, and there is nothing to propel yourself with but
your heels. If you swim on your face, you kick up the water like a
stern-wheel boat. You make no headway. A horse is so top-heavy that he
can neither swim nor stand up in the Dead Sea. He turns over on his side
at once. Some of us bathed for more than an hour, and then came out
coated with salt till we shone like icicles. We scrubbed it off with a
coarse towel and rode off with a splendid brand-new smell, though it was
one which was not any more disagreeable than those we have been for
several weeks enjoying. It was the variegated villainy and novelty of it
that charmed us. Salt crystals glitter in the sun about the shores of
the lake. In places they coat the ground like a brilliant crust of ice.

When I was a boy I somehow got the impression that the river Jordan was
four thousand miles long and thirty-five miles wide. It is only ninety
miles long, and so crooked that a man does not know which side of it he
is on half the time. In going ninety miles it does not get over more
than fifty miles of ground. It is not any wider than Broadway in New

There is the Sea of Galilee and this Dead Sea--neither of them twenty
miles long or thirteen wide. And yet when I was in Sunday School I
thought they were sixty thousand miles in diameter.

Travel and experience mar the grandest pictures and rob us of the most
cherished traditions of our boyhood. Well, let them go. I have already
seen the Empire of King Solomon diminish to the size of the State of
Pennsylvania; I suppose I can bear the reduction of the seas and the

We looked every where, as we passed along, but never saw grain or crystal
of Lot's wife. It was a great disappointment. For many and many a year
we had known her sad story, and taken that interest in her which
misfortune always inspires. But she was gone. Her picturesque form no
longer looms above the desert of the Dead Sea to remind the tourist of
the doom that fell upon the lost cities.

I can not describe the hideous afternoon's ride from the Dead Sea to Mars
Saba. It oppresses me yet, to think of it. The sun so pelted us that
the tears ran down our cheeks once or twice. The ghastly, treeless,
grassless, breathless canons smothered us as if we had been in an oven.
The sun had positive weight to it, I think. Not a man could sit erect
under it. All drooped low in the saddles. John preached in this
"Wilderness!" It must have been exhausting work. What a very heaven the
messy towers and ramparts of vast Mars Saba looked to us when we caught a
first glimpse of them!

We staid at this great convent all night, guests of the hospitable
priests. Mars Saba, perched upon a crag, a human nest stock high up
against a perpendicular mountain wall, is a world of grand masonry that
rises, terrace upon terrace away above your head, like the terraced and
retreating colonnades one sees in fanciful pictures of Belshazzar's Feast
and the palaces of the ancient Pharaohs. No other human dwelling is
near. It was founded many ages ago by a holy recluse who lived at first
in a cave in the rock--a cave which is inclosed in the convent walls,
now, and was reverently shown to us by the priests. This recluse, by his
rigorous torturing of his flesh, his diet of bread and water, his utter
withdrawal from all society and from the vanities of the world, and his
constant prayer and saintly contemplation of a skull, inspired an
emulation that brought about him many disciples. The precipice on the
opposite side of the canyon is well perforated with the small holes they
dug in the rock to live in. The present occupants of Mars Saba, about
seventy in number, are all hermits. They wear a coarse robe, an ugly,
brimless stove-pipe of a hat, and go without shoes. They eat nothing
whatever but bread and salt; they drink nothing but water. As long as
they live they can never go outside the walls, or look upon a woman--for
no woman is permitted to enter Mars Saba, upon any pretext whatsoever.

Some of those men have been shut up there for thirty years. In all that
dreary time they have not heard the laughter of a child or the blessed
voice of a woman; they have seen no human tears, no human smiles; they
have known no human joys, no wholesome human sorrows. In their hearts
are no memories of the past, in their brains no dreams of the future.
All that is lovable, beautiful, worthy, they have put far away from them;
against all things that are pleasant to look upon, and all sounds that
are music to the ear, they have barred their massive doors and reared
their relentless walls of stone forever. They have banished the tender
grace of life and left only the sapped and skinny mockery. Their lips
are lips that never kiss and never sing; their hearts are hearts that
never hate and never love; their breasts are breasts that never swell
with the sentiment, "I have a country and a flag." They are dead men who

I set down these first thoughts because they are natural--not because
they are just or because it is right to set them down. It is easy for
book-makers to say "I thought so and so as I looked upon such and such a
scene"--when the truth is, they thought all those fine things afterwards.
One's first thought is not likely to be strictly accurate, yet it is no
crime to think it and none to write it down, subject to modification by
later experience. These hermits are dead men, in several respects, but
not in all; and it is not proper, that, thinking ill of them at first, I
should go on doing so, or, speaking ill of them I should reiterate the
words and stick to them. No, they treated us too kindly for that. There
is something human about them somewhere. They knew we were foreigners
and Protestants, and not likely to feel admiration or much friendliness
toward them. But their large charity was above considering such things.
They simply saw in us men who were hungry, and thirsty, and tired, and
that was sufficient. They opened their doors and gave us welcome. They
asked no questions, and they made no self-righteous display of their
hospitality. They fished for no compliments. They moved quietly about,
setting the table for us, making the beds, and bringing water to wash in,
and paid no heed when we said it was wrong for them to do that when we
had men whose business it was to perform such offices. We fared most
comfortably, and sat late at dinner. We walked all over the building
with the hermits afterward, and then sat on the lofty battlements and
smoked while we enjoyed the cool air, the wild scenery and the sunset.
One or two chose cosy bed-rooms to sleep in, but the nomadic instinct
prompted the rest to sleep on the broad divan that extended around the
great hall, because it seemed like sleeping out of doors, and so was more
cheery and inviting. It was a royal rest we had.

When we got up to breakfast in the morning, we were new men. For all
this hospitality no strict charge was made. We could give something if
we chose; we need give nothing, if we were poor or if we were stingy.
The pauper and the miser are as free as any in the Catholic Convents of
Palestine. I have been educated to enmity toward every thing that is
Catholic, and sometimes, in consequence of this, I find it much easier to
discover Catholic faults than Catholic merits. But there is one thing I
feel no disposition to overlook, and no disposition to forget: and that
is, the honest gratitude I and all pilgrims owe, to the Convent Fathers
in Palestine. Their doors are always open, and there is always a welcome
for any worthy man who comes, whether he comes in rags or clad in purple.
The Catholic Convents are a priceless blessing to the poor. A pilgrim
without money, whether he be a Protestant or a Catholic, can travel the
length and breadth of Palestine, and in the midst of her desert wastes
find wholesome food and a clean bed every night, in these buildings.
Pilgrims in better circumstances are often stricken down by the sun and
the fevers of the country, and then their saving refuge is the Convent.
Without these hospitable retreats, travel in Palestine would be a
pleasure which none but the strongest men could dare to undertake. Our
party, pilgrims and all, will always be ready and always willing, to
touch glasses and drink health, prosperity and long life to the Convent
Fathers of Palestine.

So, rested and refreshed, we fell into line and filed away over the
barren mountains of Judea, and along rocky ridges and through sterile
gorges, where eternal silence and solitude reigned. Even the scattering
groups of armed shepherds we met the afternoon before, tending their
flocks of long-haired goats, were wanting here. We saw but two living
creatures. They were gazelles, of "soft-eyed" notoriety. They looked
like very young kids, but they annihilated distance like an express
train. I have not seen animals that moved faster, unless I might say it
of the antelopes of our own great plains.

At nine or ten in the morning we reached the Plain of the Shepherds, and
stood in a walled garden of olives where the shepherds were watching
their flocks by night, eighteen centuries ago, when the multitude of
angels brought them the tidings that the Saviour was born. A quarter of
a mile away was Bethlehem of Judea, and the pilgrims took some of the
stone wall and hurried on.

The Plain of the Shepherds is a desert, paved with loose stones, void of
vegetation, glaring in the fierce sun. Only the music of the angels it
knew once could charm its shrubs and flowers to life again and restore
its vanished beauty. No less potent enchantment could avail to work this

In the huge Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, built fifteen hundred
years ago by the inveterate St. Helena, they took us below ground, and
into a grotto cut in the living rock. This was the "manger" where Christ
was born. A silver star set in the floor bears a Latin inscription to
that effect. It is polished with the kisses of many generations of
worshiping pilgrims. The grotto was tricked out in the usual tasteless
style observable in all the holy places of Palestine. As in the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre, envy and uncharitableness were apparent here. The
priests and the members of the Greek and Latin churches can not come by
the same corridor to kneel in the sacred birthplace of the Redeemer, but
are compelled to approach and retire by different avenues, lest they
quarrel and fight on this holiest ground on earth.

I have no "meditations," suggested by this spot where the very first
"Merry Christmas!" was uttered in all the world, and from whence the
friend of my childhood, Santa Claus, departed on his first journey, to
gladden and continue to gladden roaring firesides on wintry mornings in
many a distant land forever and forever. I touch, with reverent finger,
the actual spot where the infant Jesus lay, but I think--nothing.

You can not think in this place any more than you can in any other in
Palestine that would be likely to inspire reflection. Beggars, cripples
and monks compass you about, and make you think only of bucksheesh when
you would rather think of something more in keeping with the character of
the spot.

I was glad to get away, and glad when we had walked through the grottoes
where Eusebius wrote, and Jerome fasted, and Joseph prepared for the
flight into Egypt, and the dozen other distinguished grottoes, and knew
we were done. The Church of the Nativity is almost as well packed with
exceeding holy places as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself. They
even have in it a grotto wherein twenty thousand children were
slaughtered by Herod when he was seeking the life of the infant Saviour.

We went to the Milk Grotto, of course--a cavern where Mary hid herself
for a while before the flight into Egypt. Its walls were black before
she entered, but in suckling the Child, a drop of her milk fell upon the
floor and instantly changed the darkness of the walls to its own snowy
hue. We took many little fragments of stone from here, because it is
well known in all the East that a barren woman hath need only to touch
her lips to one of these and her failing will depart from her. We took
many specimens, to the end that we might confer happiness upon certain
households that we wot of.

We got away from Bethlehem and its troops of beggars and relic-peddlers
in the afternoon, and after spending some little time at Rachel's tomb,
hurried to Jerusalem as fast as possible. I never was so glad to get
home again before. I never have enjoyed rest as I have enjoyed it during
these last few hours. The journey to the Dead Sea, the Jordan and
Bethlehem was short, but it was an exhausting one. Such roasting heat,
such oppressive solitude, and such dismal desolation can not surely exist
elsewhere on earth. And such fatigue!

The commonest sagacity warns me that I ought to tell the customary
pleasant lie, and say I tore myself reluctantly away from every noted
place in Palestine. Every body tells that, but with as little
ostentation as I may, I doubt the word of every he who tells it. I could
take a dreadful oath that I have never heard any one of our forty
pilgrims say any thing of the sort, and they are as worthy and as
sincerely devout as any that come here. They will say it when they get
home, fast enough, but why should they not? They do not wish to array
themselves against all the Lamartines and Grimeses in the world. It does
not stand to reason that men are reluctant to leave places where the very
life is almost badgered out of them by importunate swarms of beggars and
peddlers who hang in strings to one's sleeves and coat-tails and shriek
and shout in his ears and horrify his vision with the ghastly sores and
malformations they exhibit. One is glad to get away. I have heard
shameless people say they were glad to get away from Ladies' Festivals
where they were importuned to buy by bevies of lovely young ladies.
Transform those houris into dusky hags and ragged savages, and replace
their rounded forms with shrunken and knotted distortions, their soft
hands with scarred and hideous deformities, and the persuasive music of
their voices with the discordant din of a hated language, and then see
how much lingering reluctance to leave could be mustered. No, it is the
neat thing to say you were reluctant, and then append the profound
thoughts that "struggled for utterance," in your brain; but it is the
true thing to say you were not reluctant, and found it impossible to
think at all--though in good sooth it is not respectable to say it, and
not poetical, either.

We do not think, in the holy places; we think in bed, afterwards, when
the glare, and the noise, and the confusion are gone, and in fancy we
revisit alone, the solemn monuments of the past, and summon the phantom
pageants of an age that has passed away.


We visited all the holy places about Jerusalem which we had left
unvisited when we journeyed to the Jordan and then, about three o'clock
one afternoon, we fell into procession and marched out at the stately
Damascus gate, and the walls of Jerusalem shut us out forever. We paused
on the summit of a distant hill and took a final look and made a final
farewell to the venerable city which had been such a good home to us.

For about four hours we traveled down hill constantly. We followed a
narrow bridle-path which traversed the beds of the mountain gorges, and
when we could we got out of the way of the long trains of laden camels
and asses, and when we could not we suffered the misery of being mashed
up against perpendicular walls of rock and having our legs bruised by the
passing freight. Jack was caught two or three times, and Dan and Moult
as often. One horse had a heavy fall on the slippery rocks, and the
others had narrow escapes. However, this was as good a road as we had
found in Palestine, and possibly even the best, and so there was not much

Sometimes, in the glens, we came upon luxuriant orchards of figs,
apricots, pomegranates, and such things, but oftener the scenery was
rugged, mountainous, verdureless and forbidding. Here and there, towers
were perched high up on acclivities which seemed almost inaccessible.
This fashion is as old as Palestine itself and was adopted in ancient
times for security against enemies.

We crossed the brook which furnished David the stone that killed Goliah,
and no doubt we looked upon the very ground whereon that noted battle was
fought. We passed by a picturesque old gothic ruin whose stone pavements
had rung to the armed heels of many a valorous Crusader, and we rode
through a piece of country which we were told once knew Samson as a

We staid all night with the good monks at the convent of Ramleh, and in
the morning got up and galloped the horses a good part of the distance
from there to Jaffa, or Joppa, for the plain was as level as a floor and
free from stones, and besides this was our last march in Holy Land.
These two or three hours finished, we and the tired horses could have
rest and sleep as long as we wanted it. This was the plain of which
Joshua spoke when he said, "Sun, stand thou still on Gibeon, and thou
moon in the valley of Ajalon." As we drew near to Jaffa, the boys
spurred up the horses and indulged in the excitement of an actual race
--an experience we had hardly had since we raced on donkeys in the Azores

We came finally to the noble grove of orange-trees in which the Oriental
city of Jaffa lies buried; we passed through the walls, and rode again
down narrow streets and among swarms of animated rags, and saw other
sights and had other experiences we had long been familiar with. We
dismounted, for the last time, and out in the offing, riding at anchor,
we saw the ship! I put an exclamation point there because we felt one
when we saw the vessel. The long pilgrimage was ended, and somehow we
seemed to feel glad of it.

[For description of Jaffa, see Universal Gazetteer.] Simon the Tanner
formerly lived here. We went to his house. All the pilgrims visit Simon
the Tanner's house. Peter saw the vision of the beasts let down in a
sheet when he lay upon the roof of Simon the Tanner's house. It was from
Jaffa that Jonah sailed when he was told to go and prophesy against
Nineveh, and no doubt it was not far from the town that the whale threw
him up when he discovered that he had no ticket. Jonah was disobedient,
and of a fault-finding, complaining disposition, and deserves to be
lightly spoken of, almost. The timbers used in the construction of
Solomon's Temple were floated to Jaffa in rafts, and the narrow opening
in the reef through which they passed to the shore is not an inch wider
or a shade less dangerous to navigate than it was then. Such is the
sleepy nature of the population Palestine's only good seaport has now and
always had. Jaffa has a history and a stirring one. It will not be
discovered any where in this book. If the reader will call at the
circulating library and mention my name, he will be furnished with books
which will afford him the fullest information concerning Jaffa.

So ends the pilgrimage. We ought to be glad that we did not make it for
the purpose of feasting our eyes upon fascinating aspects of nature, for
we should have been disappointed--at least at this season of the year. A
writer in "Life in the Holy Land" observes:

"Monotonous and uninviting as much of the Holy Land will appear to
persons accustomed to the almost constant verdure of flowers, ample
streams and varied surface of our own country, we must remember that
its aspect to the Israelites after the weary march of forty years
through the desert must have been very different."

Which all of us will freely grant. But it truly is "monotonous and
uninviting," and there is no sufficient reason for describing it as being

Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be
the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are
unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a
feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and
despondent. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee sleep in the midst of a
vast stretch of hill and plain wherein the eye rests upon no pleasant
tint, no striking object, no soft picture dreaming in a purple haze or
mottled with the shadows of the clouds. Every outline is harsh, every
feature is distinct, there is no perspective--distance works no
enchantment here. It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land.

Small shreds and patches of it must be very beautiful in the full flush
of spring, however, and all the more beautiful by contrast with the
far-reaching desolation that surrounds them on every side. I would like
much to see the fringes of the Jordan in spring-time, and Shechem,
Esdraelon, Ajalon and the borders of Galilee--but even then these spots
would seem mere toy gardens set at wide intervals in the waste of a
limitless desolation.

Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a
curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where
Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now
floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists--over
whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead
--about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of
cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching
lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that
ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with
songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins
of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even
as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem
and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about
them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the
Saviour's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their
flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to
men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature
that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest
name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a
pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the
admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was
the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is
lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of
the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where
Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed
in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and
commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a
shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and
Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round
about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour's voice
and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is
inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.

Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can
the curse of the Deity beautify a land?

Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and
tradition--it is dream-land.


It was worth a kingdom to be at sea again. It was a relief to drop all
anxiety whatsoever--all questions as to where we should go; how long we
should stay; whether it were worth while to go or not; all anxieties
about the condition of the horses; all such questions as "Shall we ever
get to water?" "Shall we ever lunch?" "Ferguson, how many more million
miles have we got to creep under this awful sun before we camp?" It was
a relief to cast all these torturing little anxieties far away--ropes of
steel they were, and every one with a separate and distinct strain on it
--and feel the temporary contentment that is born of the banishment of
all care and responsibility. We did not look at the compass: we did not
care, now, where the ship went to, so that she went out of sight of land
as quickly as possible. When I travel again, I wish to go in a pleasure
ship. No amount of money could have purchased for us, in a strange
vessel and among unfamiliar faces, the perfect satisfaction and the sense
of being at home again which we experienced when we stepped on board the
"Quaker City,"--our own ship--after this wearisome pilgrimage. It is a
something we have felt always when we returned to her, and a something we
had no desire to sell.

We took off our blue woollen shirts, our spurs, and heavy boots, our
sanguinary revolvers and our buckskin-seated pantaloons, and got shaved
and came out in Christian costume once more. All but Jack, who changed
all other articles of his dress, but clung to his traveling pantaloons.
They still preserved their ample buckskin seat intact; and so his short
pea jacket and his long, thin legs assisted to make him a picturesque
object whenever he stood on the forecastle looking abroad upon the ocean
over the bows. At such times his father's last injunction suggested
itself to me. He said:

"Jack, my boy, you are about to go among a brilliant company of gentlemen
and ladies, who are refined and cultivated, and thoroughly accomplished
in the manners and customs of good society. Listen to their
conversation, study their habits of life, and learn. Be polite and
obliging to all, and considerate towards every one's opinions, failings
and prejudices. Command the just respect of all your fellow-voyagers,
even though you fail to win their friendly regard. And Jack--don't you
ever dare, while you live, appear in public on those decks in fair
weather, in a costume unbecoming your mother's drawing-room!"

It would have been worth any price if the father of this hopeful youth
could have stepped on board some time, and seen him standing high on the
fore-castle, pea jacket, tasseled red fez, buckskin patch and all,
placidly contemplating the ocean--a rare spectacle for any body's

After a pleasant voyage and a good rest, we drew near to Egypt and out of
the mellowest of sunsets we saw the domes and minarets of Alexandria rise
into view. As soon as the anchor was down, Jack and I got a boat and
went ashore. It was night by this time, and the other passengers were
content to remain at home and visit ancient Egypt after breakfast. It
was the way they did at Constantinople. They took a lively interest in
new countries, but their school-boy impatience had worn off, and they had
learned that it was wisdom to take things easy and go along comfortably
--these old countries do not go away in the night; they stay till after

When we reached the pier we found an army of Egyptian boys with donkeys
no larger than themselves, waiting for passengers--for donkeys are the
omnibuses of Egypt. We preferred to walk, but we could not have our own
way. The boys crowded about us, clamored around us, and slewed their
donkeys exactly across our path, no matter which way we turned. They
were good-natured rascals, and so were the donkeys. We mounted, and the
boys ran behind us and kept the donkeys in a furious gallop, as is the
fashion at Damascus. I believe I would rather ride a donkey than any
beast in the world. He goes briskly, he puts on no airs, he is docile,
though opinionated. Satan himself could not scare him, and he is
convenient--very convenient. When you are tired riding you can rest your
feet on the ground and let him gallop from under you.

We found the hotel and secured rooms, and were happy to know that the
Prince of Wales had stopped there once. They had it every where on
signs. No other princes had stopped there since, till Jack and I came.
We went abroad through the town, then, and found it a city of huge
commercial buildings, and broad, handsome streets brilliant with
gas-light. By night it was a sort of reminiscence of Paris. But finally
Jack found an ice-cream saloon, and that closed investigations for that
evening. The weather was very hot, it had been many a day since Jack had
seen ice-cream, and so it was useless to talk of leaving the saloon till
it shut up.

In the morning the lost tribes of America came ashore and infested the
hotels and took possession of all the donkeys and other open barouches
that offered. They went in picturesque procession to the American
Consul's; to the great gardens; to Cleopatra's Needles; to Pompey's
Pillar; to the palace of the Viceroy of Egypt; to the Nile; to the superb
groves of date-palms. One of our most inveterate relic-hunters had his
hammer with him, and tried to break a fragment off the upright Needle and
could not do it; he tried the prostrate one and failed; he borrowed a
heavy sledge hammer from a mason and tried again. He tried Pompey's
Pillar, and this baffled him. Scattered all about the mighty monolith
were sphinxes of noble countenance, carved out of Egyptian granite as
hard as blue steel, and whose shapely features the wear of five thousand
years had failed to mark or mar. The relic-hunter battered at these
persistently, and sweated profusely over his work. He might as well have
attempted to deface the moon. They regarded him serenely with the
stately smile they had worn so long, and which seemed to say, "Peck away,
poor insect; we were not made to fear such as you; in ten-score dragging
ages we have seen more of your kind than there are sands at your feet:
have they left a blemish upon us?"

But I am forgetting the Jaffa Colonists. At Jaffa we had taken on board
some forty members of a very celebrated community. They were male and
female; babies, young boys and young girls; young married people, and
some who had passed a shade beyond the prime of life. I refer to the
"Adams Jaffa Colony." Others had deserted before. We left in Jaffa Mr.
Adams, his wife, and fifteen unfortunates who not only had no money but
did not know where to turn or whither to go. Such was the statement made
to us. Our forty were miserable enough in the first place, and they lay
about the decks seasick all the voyage, which about completed their
misery, I take it. However, one or two young men remained upright, and
by constant persecution we wormed out of them some little information.
They gave it reluctantly and in a very fragmentary condition, for, having
been shamefully humbugged by their prophet, they felt humiliated and
unhappy. In such circumstances people do not like to talk.

The colony was a complete fiasco. I have already said that such as could
get away did so, from time to time. The prophet Adams--once an actor,
then several other things, afterward a Mormon and a missionary, always an
adventurer--remains at Jaffa with his handful of sorrowful subjects. The
forty we brought away with us were chiefly destitute, though not all of
them. They wished to get to Egypt. What might become of them then they
did not know and probably did not care--any thing to get away from hated
Jaffa. They had little to hope for. Because after many appeals to the
sympathies of New England, made by strangers of Boston, through the
newspapers, and after the establishment of an office there for the
reception of moneyed contributions for the Jaffa colonists, One Dollar
was subscribed. The consul-general for Egypt showed me the newspaper
paragraph which mentioned the circumstance and mentioned also the
discontinuance of the effort and the closing of the office. It was
evident that practical New England was not sorry to be rid of such
visionaries and was not in the least inclined to hire any body to bring
them back to her. Still, to get to Egypt, was something, in the eyes of
the unfortunate colonists, hopeless as the prospect seemed of ever
getting further.

Thus circumstanced, they landed at Alexandria from our ship. One of our
passengers, Mr. Moses S. Beach, of the New York Sun, inquired of the
consul-general what it would cost to send these people to their home in
Maine by the way of Liverpool, and he said fifteen hundred dollars in
gold would do it. Mr. Beach gave his check for the money and so the
troubles of the Jaffa colonists were at an end.--[It was an unselfish
act of benevolence; it was done without any ostentation, and has never
been mentioned in any newspaper, I think. Therefore it is refreshing to
learn now, several months after the above narrative was written, that
another man received all the credit of this rescue of the colonists.
Such is life.]

Alexandria was too much like a European city to be novel, and we soon
tired of it. We took the cars and came up here to ancient Cairo, which
is an Oriental city and of the completest pattern. There is little about
it to disabuse one's mind of the error if he should take it into his head
that he was in the heart of Arabia. Stately camels and dromedaries,
swarthy Egyptians, and likewise Turks and black Ethiopians, turbaned,
sashed, and blazing in a rich variety of Oriental costumes of all shades
of flashy colors, are what one sees on every hand crowding the narrow
streets and the honeycombed bazaars. We are stopping at Shepherd's
Hotel, which is the worst on earth except the one I stopped at once in a
small town in the United States. It is pleasant to read this sketch in
my note-book, now, and know that I can stand Shepherd's Hotel, sure,
because I have been in one just like it in America and survived:

I stopped at the Benton House. It used to be a good hotel, but that
proves nothing--I used to be a good boy, for that matter. Both of
us have lost character of late years. The Benton is not a good
hotel. The Benton lacks a very great deal of being a good hotel.
Perdition is full of better hotels than the Benton.

It was late at night when I got there, and I told the clerk I would
like plenty of lights, because I wanted to read an hour or two.
When I reached No. 15 with the porter (we came along a dim hall that
was clad in ancient carpeting, faded, worn out in many places, and
patched with old scraps of oil cloth--a hall that sank under one's
feet, and creaked dismally to every footstep,) he struck a light
-- two inches of sallow, sorrowful, consumptive tallow candle, that
burned blue, and sputtered, and got discouraged and went out. The
porter lit it again, and I asked if that was all the light the clerk
sent. He said, "Oh no, I've got another one here," and he produced
another couple of inches of tallow candle. I said, "Light them both
--I'll have to have one to see the other by." He did it, but the
result was drearier than darkness itself. He was a cheery,
accommodating rascal. He said he would go "somewheres" and steal a
lamp. I abetted and encouraged him in his criminal design. I heard
the landlord get after him in the hall ten minutes afterward.

"Where are you going with that lamp?"

"Fifteen wants it, sir."

"Fifteen! why he's got a double lot of candles--does the man want
to illuminate the house?--does he want to get up a torch-light
procession?--what is he up to, any how?"

"He don't like them candles--says he wants a lamp."

"Why what in the nation does----why I never heard of such a thing?
What on earth can he want with that lamp?"

"Well, he only wants to read--that's what he says."

"Wants to read, does he?--ain't satisfied with a thousand candles,
but has to have a lamp!--I do wonder what the devil that fellow
wants that lamp for? Take him another candle, and then if----"

"But he wants the lamp--says he'll burn the d--d old house down if
he don't get a lamp!" (a remark which I never made.)

"I'd like to see him at it once. Well, you take it along--but I
swear it beats my time, though--and see if you can't find out what
in the very nation he wants with that lamp."

And he went off growling to himself and still wondering and
wondering over the unaccountable conduct of No. 15. The lamp was a
good one, but it revealed some disagreeable things--a bed in the
suburbs of a desert of room--a bed that had hills and valleys in it,
and you'd have to accommodate your body to the impression left in it
by the man that slept there last, before you could lie comfortably;
a carpet that had seen better days; a melancholy washstand in a
remote corner, and a dejected pitcher on it sorrowing over a broken
nose; a looking-glass split across the centre, which chopped your
head off at the chin and made you look like some dreadful unfinished
monster or other; the paper peeling in shreds from the walls.

I sighed and said: "This is charming; and now don't you think you
could get me something to read?"

The porter said, "Oh, certainly; the old man's got dead loads of
books;" and he was gone before I could tell him what sort of
literature I would rather have. And yet his countenance expressed
the utmost confidence in his ability to execute the commission with
credit to himself. The old man made a descent on him.

"What are you going to do with that pile of books?"

"Fifteen wants 'em, sir."

"Fifteen, is it? He'll want a warming-pan, next--he'll want a
nurse! Take him every thing there is in the house--take him the
bar-keeper--take him the baggage-wagon--take him a chamber-maid!
Confound me, I never saw any thing like it. What did he say he
wants with those books?"

"Wants to read 'em, like enough; it ain't likely he wants to eat
'em, I don't reckon."

"Wants to read 'em--wants to read 'em this time of night, the
infernal lunatic! Well, he can't have them."

"But he says he's mor'ly bound to have 'em; he says he'll just go
a-rairin' and a-chargin' through this house and raise more--well,
there's no tellin' what he won't do if he don't get 'em; because
he's drunk and crazy and desperate, and nothing'll soothe him down
but them cussed books." [I had not made any threats, and was not in
the condition ascribed to me by the porter.]

"Well, go on; but I will be around when he goes to rairing and
charging, and the first rair he makes I'll make him rair out of the
window." And then the old gentleman went off, growling as before.

The genius of that porter was something wonderful. He put an armful
of books on the bed and said "Good night" as confidently as if he
knew perfectly well that those books were exactly my style of
reading matter. And well he might. His selection covered the whole
range of legitimate literature. It comprised "The Great
Consummation," by Rev. Dr. Cummings--theology; "Revised Statutes of
the State of Missouri"--law; "The Complete Horse-Doctor"--medicine;
"The Toilers of the Sea," by Victor Hugo--romance; "The works of
William Shakspeare"--poetry. I shall never cease to admire the tact
and the intelligence of that gifted porter.

But all the donkeys in Christendom, and most of the Egyptian boys, I
think, are at the door, and there is some noise going on, not to put it
in stronger language.--We are about starting to the illustrious Pyramids
of Egypt, and the donkeys for the voyage are under inspection. I will go
and select one before the choice animals are all taken.


The donkeys were all good, all handsome, all strong and in good
condition, all fast and all willing to prove it. They were the best we
had found any where, and the most 'recherche'. I do not know what
'recherche' is, but that is what these donkeys were, anyhow. Some
were of a soft mouse-color, and the others were white, black, and
vari-colored. Some were close-shaven, all over, except that a tuft like
a paint-brush was left on the end of the tail. Others were so shaven in
fanciful landscape garden patterns, as to mark their bodies with curving
lines, which were bounded on one side by hair and on the other by the
close plush left by the shears. They had all been newly barbered, and
were exceedingly stylish. Several of the white ones were barred like
zebras with rainbow stripes of blue and red and yellow paint. These
were indescribably gorgeous. Dan and Jack selected from this lot
because they brought back Italian reminiscences of the "old masters."
The saddles were the high, stuffy, frog-shaped things we had known in
Ephesus and Smyrna. The donkey-boys were lively young Egyptian rascals
who could follow a donkey and keep him in a canter half a day without
tiring. We had plenty of spectators when we mounted, for the hotel was
full of English people bound overland to India and officers getting
ready for the African campaign against the Abyssinian King Theodorus.
We were not a very large party, but as we charged through the streets of
the great metropolis, we made noise for five hundred, and displayed
activity and created excitement in proportion. Nobody can steer a
donkey, and some collided with camels, dervishes, effendis, asses,
beggars and every thing else that offered to the donkeys a reasonable
chance for a collision. When we turned into the broad avenue that leads
out of the city toward Old Cairo, there was plenty of room. The walls
of stately date-palms that fenced the gardens and bordered the way,
threw their shadows down and made the air cool and bracing. We rose to
the spirit of the time and the race became a wild rout, a stampede, a
terrific panic. I wish to live to enjoy it again.

Somewhere along this route we had a few startling exhibitions of Oriental
simplicity. A girl apparently thirteen years of age came along the great
thoroughfare dressed like Eve before the fall. We would have called her
thirteen at home; but here girls who look thirteen are often not more
than nine, in reality. Occasionally we saw stark-naked men of superb
build, bathing, and making no attempt at concealment. However, an hour's
acquaintance with this cheerful custom reconciled the pilgrims to it, and
then it ceased to occasion remark. Thus easily do even the most
startling novelties grow tame and spiritless to these sight-surfeited

Arrived at Old Cairo, the camp-followers took up the donkeys and tumbled
them bodily aboard a small boat with a lateen sail, and we followed and
got under way. The deck was closely packed with donkeys and men; the two
sailors had to climb over and under and through the wedged mass to work
the sails, and the steersman had to crowd four or five donkeys out of the
way when he wished to swing his tiller and put his helm hard-down. But
what were their troubles to us? We had nothing to do; nothing to do but
enjoy the trip; nothing to do but shove the donkeys off our corns and
look at the charming scenery of the Nile.

On the island at our right was the machine they call the Nilometer, a
stone-column whose business it is to mark the rise of the river and
prophecy whether it will reach only thirty-two feet and produce a famine,
or whether it will properly flood the land at forty and produce plenty,
or whether it will rise to forty-three and bring death and destruction to
flocks and crops--but how it does all this they could not explain to us
so that we could understand. On the same island is still shown the spot
where Pharaoh's daughter found Moses in the bulrushes. Near the spot we
sailed from, the Holy Family dwelt when they sojourned in Egypt till
Herod should complete his slaughter of the innocents. The same tree they
rested under when they first arrived, was there a short time ago, but the
Viceroy of Egypt sent it to the Empress Eugenie lately. He was just in
time, otherwise our pilgrims would have had it.

The Nile at this point is muddy, swift and turbid, and does not lack a
great deal of being as wide as the Mississippi.

We scrambled up the steep bank at the shabby town of Ghizeh, mounted the
donkeys again, and scampered away. For four or five miles the route lay
along a high embankment which they say is to be the bed of a railway the
Sultan means to build for no other reason than that when the Empress of
the French comes to visit him she can go to the Pyramids in comfort.
This is true Oriental hospitality. I am very glad it is our privilege to
have donkeys instead of cars.

At the distance of a few miles the Pyramids rising above the palms,
looked very clean-cut, very grand and imposing, and very soft and filmy,
as well. They swam in a rich haze that took from them all suggestions of
unfeeling stone, and made them seem only the airy nothings of a dream
--structures which might blossom into tiers of vague arches, or ornate
colonnades, may be, and change and change again, into all graceful forms
of architecture, while we looked, and then melt deliciously away and
blend with the tremulous atmosphere.

At the end of the levee we left the mules and went in a sailboat across
an arm of the Nile or an overflow, and landed where the sands of the
Great Sahara left their embankment, as straight as a wall, along the
verge of the alluvial plain of the river. A laborious walk in the
flaming sun brought us to the foot of the great Pyramid of Cheops. It
was a fairy vision no longer. It was a corrugated, unsightly mountain of
stone. Each of its monstrous sides was a wide stairway which rose
upward, step above step, narrowing as it went, till it tapered to a point
far aloft in the air. Insect men and women--pilgrims from the Quaker
City--were creeping about its dizzy perches, and one little black swarm
were waving postage stamps from the airy summit--handkerchiefs will be

Of course we were besieged by a rabble of muscular Egyptians and Arabs
who wanted the contract of dragging us to the top--all tourists are. Of
course you could not hear your own voice for the din that was around you.
Of course the Sheiks said they were the only responsible parties; that
all contracts must be made with them, all moneys paid over to them, and
none exacted from us by any but themselves alone. Of course they
contracted that the varlets who dragged us up should not mention
bucksheesh once. For such is the usual routine. Of course we contracted
with them, paid them, were delivered into the hands of the draggers,
dragged up the Pyramids, and harried and be-deviled for bucksheesh from
the foundation clear to the summit. We paid it, too, for we were
purposely spread very far apart over the vast side of the Pyramid. There
was no help near if we called, and the Herculeses who dragged us had a
way of asking sweetly and flatteringly for bucksheesh, which was
seductive, and of looking fierce and threatening to throw us down the
precipice, which was persuasive and convincing.

Each step being full as high as a dinner-table; there being very, very
many of the steps; an Arab having hold of each of our arms and springing
upward from step to step and snatching us with them, forcing us to lift
our feet as high as our breasts every time, and do it rapidly and keep it
up till we were ready to faint, who shall say it is not lively,
exhilarating, lacerating, muscle-straining, bone-wrenching and perfectly
excruciating and exhausting pastime, climbing the Pyramids? I beseeched
the varlets not to twist all my joints asunder; I iterated, reiterated,
even swore to them that I did not wish to beat any body to the top; did
all I could to convince them that if I got there the last of all I would
feel blessed above men and grateful to them forever; I begged them,
prayed them, pleaded with them to let me stop and rest a moment--only one
little moment: and they only answered with some more frightful springs,
and an unenlisted volunteer behind opened a bombardment of determined
boosts with his head which threatened to batter my whole political
economy to wreck and ruin.

Twice, for one minute, they let me rest while they extorted bucksheesh,
and then continued their maniac flight up the Pyramid. They wished to
beat the other parties. It was nothing to them that I, a stranger, must
be sacrificed upon the altar of their unholy ambition. But in the midst
of sorrow, joy blooms. Even in this dark hour I had a sweet consolation.
For I knew that except these Mohammedans repented they would go straight
to perdition some day. And they never repent--they never forsake their
paganism. This thought calmed me, cheered me, and I sank down, limp and
exhausted, upon the summit, but happy, so happy and serene within.

On the one hand, a mighty sea of yellow sand stretched away toward the
ends of the earth, solemn, silent, shorn of vegetation, its solitude
uncheered by any forms of creature life; on the other, the Eden of Egypt
was spread below us--a broad green floor, cloven by the sinuous river,
dotted with villages, its vast distances measured and marked by the
diminishing stature of receding clusters of palms. It lay asleep in an
enchanted atmosphere. There was no sound, no motion. Above the
date-plumes in the middle distance, swelled a domed and pinnacled mass,
glimmering through a tinted, exquisite mist; away toward the horizon a
dozen shapely pyramids watched over ruined Memphis: and at our feet the
bland impassible Sphynx looked out upon the picture from her throne in
the sands as placidly and pensively as she had looked upon its like full
fifty lagging centuries ago.

We suffered torture no pen can describe from the hungry appeals for
bucksheesh that gleamed from Arab eyes and poured incessantly from Arab
lips. Why try to call up the traditions of vanished Egyptian grandeur;
why try to fancy Egypt following dead Rameses to his tomb in the Pyramid,
or the long multitude of Israel departing over the desert yonder? Why
try to think at all? The thing was impossible. One must bring his
meditations cut and dried, or else cut and dry them afterward.

The traditional Arab proposed, in the traditional way, to run down
Cheops, cross the eighth of a mile of sand intervening between it and the
tall pyramid of Cephron, ascend to Cephron's summit and return to us on
the top of Cheops--all in nine minutes by the watch, and the whole
service to be rendered for a single dollar. In the first flush of
irritation, I said let the Arab and his exploits go to the mischief.
But stay. The upper third of Cephron was coated with dressed marble,
smooth as glass. A blessed thought entered my brain. He must infallibly
break his neck. Close the contract with dispatch, I said, and let him
go. He started. We watched. He went bounding down the vast broadside,
spring after spring, like an ibex. He grew small and smaller till he
became a bobbing pigmy, away down toward the bottom--then disappeared.
We turned and peered over the other side--forty seconds--eighty seconds
--a hundred--happiness, he is dead already!--two minutes--and a quarter
--"There he goes!" Too true--it was too true. He was very small, now.
Gradually, but surely, he overcame the level ground. He began to spring
and climb again. Up, up, up--at last he reached the smooth coating--now
for it. But he clung to it with toes and fingers, like a fly. He
crawled this way and that--away to the right, slanting upward--away to
the left, still slanting upward--and stood at last, a black peg on the
summit, and waved his pigmy scarf! Then he crept downward to the raw
steps again, then picked up his agile heels and flew. We lost him
presently. But presently again we saw him under us, mounting with
undiminished energy. Shortly he bounded into our midst with a gallant
war-whoop. Time, eight minutes, forty-one seconds. He had won. His
bones were intact. It was a failure. I reflected. I said to myself, he
is tired, and must grow dizzy. I will risk another dollar on him.

He started again. Made the trip again. Slipped on the smooth coating
--I almost had him. But an infamous crevice saved him. He was with us
once more--perfectly sound. Time, eight minutes, forty-six seconds.

I said to Dan, "Lend me a dollar--I can beat this game, yet."

Worse and worse. He won again. Time, eight minutes, forty-eight
seconds. I was out of all patience, now. I was desperate.--Money was
no longer of any consequence. I said, "Sirrah, I will give you a hundred
dollars to jump off this pyramid head first. If you do not like the
terms, name your bet. I scorn to stand on expenses now. I will stay
right here and risk money on you as long as Dan has got a cent."

I was in a fair way to win, now, for it was a dazzling opportunity for an
Arab. He pondered a moment, and would have done it, I think, but his
mother arrived, then, and interfered. Her tears moved me--I never can
look upon the tears of woman with indifference--and I said I would give
her a hundred to jump off, too.

But it was a failure. The Arabs are too high-priced in Egypt. They put
on airs unbecoming to such savages.

We descended, hot and out of humor. The dragoman lit candles, and we all
entered a hole near the base of the pyramid, attended by a crazy rabble
of Arabs who thrust their services upon us uninvited. They dragged us up
a long inclined chute, and dripped candle-grease all over us. This chute
was not more than twice as wide and high as a Saratoga trunk, and was
walled, roofed and floored with solid blocks of Egyptian granite as wide
as a wardrobe, twice as thick and three times as long. We kept on
climbing, through the oppressive gloom, till I thought we ought to be
nearing the top of the pyramid again, and then came to the "Queen's
Chamber," and shortly to the Chamber of the King. These large apartments
were tombs. The walls were built of monstrous masses of smoothed
granite, neatly joined together. Some of them were nearly as large
square as an ordinary parlor. A great stone sarcophagus like a bath-tub
stood in the centre of the King's Chamber. Around it were gathered a
picturesque group of Arab savages and soiled and tattered pilgrims, who
held their candles aloft in the gloom while they chattered, and the
winking blurs of light shed a dim glory down upon one of the
irrepressible memento-seekers who was pecking at the venerable
sarcophagus with his sacrilegious hammer.

We struggled out to the open air and the bright sunshine, and for the
space of thirty minutes received ragged Arabs by couples, dozens and
platoons, and paid them bucksheesh for services they swore and proved by
each other that they had rendered, but which we had not been aware of
before--and as each party was paid, they dropped into the rear of the
procession and in due time arrived again with a newly-invented delinquent
list for liquidation.

We lunched in the shade of the pyramid, and in the midst of this
encroaching and unwelcome company, and then Dan and Jack and I started
away for a walk. A howling swarm of beggars followed us--surrounded us
--almost headed us off. A sheik, in flowing white bournous and gaudy
head-gear, was with them. He wanted more bucksheesh. But we had
adopted a new code--it was millions for defense, but not a cent for
bucksheesh. I asked him if he could persuade the others to depart if we
paid him. He said yes--for ten francs. We accepted the contract, and

"Now persuade your vassals to fall back."

He swung his long staff round his head and three Arabs bit the dust. He
capered among the mob like a very maniac. His blows fell like hail, and
wherever one fell a subject went down. We had to hurry to the rescue and
tell him it was only necessary to damage them a little, he need not kill
them.--In two minutes we were alone with the sheik, and remained so.
The persuasive powers of this illiterate savage were remarkable.

Each side of the Pyramid of Cheops is about as long as the Capitol at
Washington, or the Sultan's new palace on the Bosporus, and is longer
than the greatest depth of St. Peter's at Rome--which is to say that each
side of Cheops extends seven hundred and some odd feet. It is about
seventy-five feet higher than the cross on St. Peter's. The first time I
ever went down the Mississippi, I thought the highest bluff on the river
between St. Louis and New Orleans--it was near Selma, Missouri--was
probably the highest mountain in the world. It is four hundred and
thirteen feet high. It still looms in my memory with undiminished
grandeur. I can still see the trees and bushes growing smaller and
smaller as I followed them up its huge slant with my eye, till they
became a feathery fringe on the distant summit. This symmetrical Pyramid
of Cheops--this solid mountain of stone reared by the patient hands of
men--this mighty tomb of a forgotten monarch--dwarfs my cherished
mountain. For it is four hundred and eighty feet high. In still earlier
years than those I have been recalling, Holliday's Hill, in our town, was
to me the noblest work of God. It appeared to pierce the skies. It was
nearly three hundred feet high. In those days I pondered the subject
much, but I never could understand why it did not swathe its summit with
never-failing clouds, and crown its majestic brow with everlasting snows.
I had heard that such was the custom of great mountains in other parts of
the world. I remembered how I worked with another boy, at odd afternoons
stolen from study and paid for with stripes, to undermine and start from
its bed an immense boulder that rested upon the edge of that hilltop; I
remembered how, one Saturday afternoon, we gave three hours of honest
effort to the task, and saw at last that our reward was at hand; I
remembered how we sat down, then, and wiped the perspiration away, and
waited to let a picnic party get out of the way in the road below--and
then we started the boulder. It was splendid. It went crashing down the
hillside, tearing up saplings, mowing bushes down like grass, ripping and
crushing and smashing every thing in its path--eternally splintered and
scattered a wood pile at the foot of the hill, and then sprang from the
high bank clear over a dray in the road--the negro glanced up once and
dodged--and the next second it made infinitesimal mince-meat of a frame
cooper-shop, and the coopers swarmed out like bees. Then we said it was
perfectly magnificent, and left. Because the coopers were starting up
the hill to inquire.

Still, that mountain, prodigious as it was, was nothing to the Pyramid of
Cheops. I could conjure up no comparison that would convey to my mind a
satisfactory comprehension of the magnitude of a pile of monstrous stones
that covered thirteen acres of ground and stretched upward four hundred
and eighty tiresome feet, and so I gave it up and walked down to the

After years of waiting, it was before me at last. The great face was so
sad, so earnest, so longing, so patient. There was a dignity not of
earth in its mien, and in its countenance a benignity such as never any
thing human wore. It was stone, but it seemed sentient. If ever image
of stone thought, it was thinking. It was looking toward the verge of
the landscape, yet looking at nothing--nothing but distance and vacancy.
It was looking over and beyond every thing of the present, and far into
the past. It was gazing out over the ocean of Time--over lines of
century-waves which, further and further receding, closed nearer and
nearer together, and blended at last into one unbroken tide, away toward
the horizon of remote antiquity. It was thinking of the wars of departed
ages; of the empires it had seen created and destroyed; of the nations


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