Dear Father and Mother,
I hope that you two are still healthy. I myself am still in perfect health and sorely miss you all in my travels. Attached with this letter is a Christmas gift from me to all of you.
For Father, I picked up this Egyptian mummy mask when I was in Egypt. I bought it off from a farmer who found it near the Tombs of the Ancient Pharaohs. Perhaps it may quench your passion for these artifacts for just a little while.
For Mother and sister, these beautiful silk scarfs I found on the markets in Baghdad.
For William, I hope this Rice Wine that I tasted in Macau is more to your taste than mine. It will surely give you a powerful kick!
And for Edward, this Kris dagger from my visits to the Port of Malacca.
In my last letter, I left you in my travels at the Goa. I have since than boarded a Portuguese boat under a questionably sober captain who was taking us to the port of Basra. The sea journey was rather uneventful and a few days later I landed to board a carriage to Jerusalem in Egypt. To my surprise, the city garrison refused to let me leave the city! Apparently, when I was in India, the Ottomans declared war one Egypt! For my safety it seems, no one was allowed in or out of the city.
Ottoman Garrison of Baghdad
Yet somehow the news of war flooded in. The Ottomans kept landing victory after victory! And the whole Levant was being systematically overrun with Ottoman troops and Egyptian troops were being repulsed! We even received news that the Tripoli insurgency was finally defeated by the Ottomans.
After three weeks of waiting in Baghdad, the officials allowed me to travel out of the city. It was a joyous moment mostly because the prayer calls were getting annoying and disturbing my sleep. The officials said that with both the Homs and Lebanon provinces under a secure Ottoman control and the Egyptians being pushed back to the Sinai, it was safe for me to travel again. Thomas said we should try to get to Istanbul by the North saying it was safer. But I wanted to see the Levant. The next day, we set off for Damascus.
We reached Damascus by Monday. The streets were empty of any civilians but soldiers patrolled the streets regularly. I was pulled over several times by wandering troops and asked for identification. William’s diplomatic papers from his trip to Germany allowed me to pass through mostly unmolested. Though I did had to pay off some money to bribe off the more attentive ones.
An old portrait of Damascus I found in the remaining stalls opened at the Grand Market.
With nothing much going on, we left for Beirut.My ship to Naples will leave in a few hours. I write this letter with hope that it reaches Hamilton by Christmas.
Your loving son.
Phillip James Douglas-Hamilton
14th December 1836
Beirut, Ottoman Empire