The Innocents Abroad - Chapter 42

Title

The Innocents Abroad - Chapter 42
"Jacksonville," in the Mountains of Lebanon—Breakfasting above a Grand Panorama—The Vanished City—The Peculiar Steed, "Jericho"—The Pilgrims Progress—Bible Scenes—Mount Hermon, Joshua's Battle Fields, etc.—The Tomb of Noah—A Most Unfortunate People
 
 

This chapter contains a particularly interesting paragraph on how the Ottoman Empire repressed the native Syrians with a particularly odious system of taxation.

"If ever an oppressed race existed, it is this one we see fettered around us under the inhuman tyranny of the Ottoman Empire. I wish Europe would let Russia annihilate Turkey a little—not much, but enough to make it difficult to find the place again without a divining-rod or a diving-bell. The Syrians are very poor, and yet they are ground down by a system of taxation that would drive any other nation frantic. Last year their taxes were heavy enough, in all conscience—but this year they have been increased by the addition of taxes that were forgiven them in times of famine in former years. On top of this the Government has levied a tax of one-tenth of the whole proceeds of the land. This is only half the story. The Pacha of a Pachalic does not trouble himself with appointing tax-collectors. He figures up what all these taxes ought to amount to in a certain district. Then he farms the collection out. He calls the rich men together, the highest bidder gets the speculation, pays the Pacha on the spot, and then sells out to smaller fry, who sell in turn to a piratical horde of still smaller fry. These latter compel the peasant to bring his little trifle of grain to the village, at his own cost. It must be weighed, the various taxes set apart, and the remainder returned to the producer. But the collector delays this duty day after day, while the producer's family are perishing for bread; at last the poor wretch, who can not but understand the game, says, "Take a quarter—take half—take two-thirds if you will, and let me go!" It is a most outrageous state of things."

 

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Comments

Submitted by scott on

Ian Strathcarron, in War and Innocence, reports visiting the building Twain writes of as Noah's Tomb. He notes that it is not and never has been a tomb. At the time of his visit, the structure had been converted into a Hezbollah madrassah "where children kneel and learn the Koran by rote".

Submitted by scott on

The letter to the Daily Alta California, in the section on taxation, use a spelling of Pacha of the Pachalic. McKeithan in Traveling with the Innocents Abroad report that Twain changed the spelling to Pasha of the Pashalic. McKeithan used the Author's National Edition in two volumes. The first 27 chapters in volume one and 33 in volume two. My edition from the Oxford Mark Twain uses the original spelling found in the letter, and so does the version from the Gutenberg project.