From Aleppo to Mysore

Campbell, Donald A Journey Over Land to India, partly by a route never gone before by any European, by Donald Campbell, of Barbreck, Esq., in a series of letters to his son. Comprehending his shipwreck and imprisonment with Hyder Alli, and his subsequent negociations and transactions in the East. London Cullen and Company 1795
First edition, three parts and appendix, 4to, pp.xvii, [1, errata], [2], 176, 138, 181, [1, blank], 9, [1, blank]. A very good copy bound in contemporary half calf, marbled boards, gilt panelling and lettering to spine. Spine lightly rubbed with top of spine neatly repaired, joints firm, boards slightly rubbed and corners bumped. Edges of pages foxed but internally clean and unblemished. Armorial bookplate of L.A. Burd.

A description of the travels of Donald Campbell (1751-1804) through Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, presented as letters to his young son Frederick Campbell (1782-1846), and written more than a decade after his misadventures. The first section describes Campbell's much-delayed travels through Europe, which eventually led him to Venice, and by ship to Alexandria. Diverted from Alexandria and Egypt by pestilence, he sailed to Cyprus, whose excellent wine he remarks on. At Cyprus, he secured letters of introduction for Latakia, and from there, he travelled across Syria, spending some time at Aleppo, and on into Kurdistan and Iraq, accompanied for much of the journey by a Tatar courier. Campbell's account of Syria and Iraq is particularly rich; at Aleppo, he frequents the coffee houses, describing the Arab storytellers with their shadow puppets, recounting raunchy satires from the 1001 Nights. He hears tales of the Yezidis, and the many kinds of dervishes, during his ride across Iraq; at Baghdad, his Armenian host compares an Arabic manuscript of tales from the 1001 Nights to a printed French translation, on hearing of Campbell's fanciful idea of the city, based on the European "translations" then in circulation. From Baghad he went on to Basra, and then Bombay, by way of Bushire. After many diversions he was shipwrecked on the Indian coast and seized by the troops of Hyder Ali amidst the tumult of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Campbell describes in detail the court of Mysore, and the misfortunes of his fellow prisoners, but good fortune sees him employed as a messenger for Hyder Ali conveying terms to the British forces and the letters end with Campbell's safe release from forced service. These letters were written with the benefit of more than a decade's subsequent experience, and are structured to provide salutary moral tales for their young reader. But Campbell is pragmatic in the lessons he offers, and, though a great believer in the supremacy of British government, is remarkably even-handed in his description of those he encounters, from Turkish officers, to qadis, and even Hyder Ali himself, whose qualities he details. This book proved enormously popular, published as it was shortly before the Third Anglo-Mysore War, and passed into a sixth edition by 1808, together with abridged versions and even a chapbook based on Campbell's experiences in Mysore.