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India to England by way of Jeddah

Hanson, John, Captain Route of Lieutenant-General Sir Miles Nightingall, K.C.B. overland from India. In a series of letters from Captain Hanson. London T. Baker 1820
First edition. 8vo (22 x 14 cm), pp.viii, [2, subscribers], 284, errata leaf, folding map, printed music to text. A very good copy bound in modern half calf. A handful of contemporary manuscript corrections to text. With presentation inscription from the author to a Miss Chinnery on title-page, and four-page autograph letter from him to her bound in, dated 24 June [1820], Madras.

An epistolary guide to the overland route from India, describing the return journey of Sir Miles (1768-1829) and Lady Nightingall from Bombay to London. John Hanson, a British officer who accompanied the Nightingalls on their journey, compiled these letters from his journal after numerous requests for copies from the Nightingalls' friends. As Hanson notes, the journey and its route were conventional enough, but Lady Nightingall's presence was more unusual. Their party departed Bombay on 8 January 1819, aboard the sloop HMS Teignmouth. Following the coast of Yemen, their ship attempted to pass through the straits of Mandel, but on 18 January ran aground. Attempts to secure aid locally were unsuccessful and met with hostility, but the crew succeeded in refloating the ship and departed on 20 January. The ship called at Mocha, where Hanson gives a scathing description of the town's administration and tumult of local politics. At Jeddah Sir Miles and his wife were entertained by the Ottoman governor; Lady Nightingall visited the governor's wives and described his harem in complimentary terms. Hanson obtained an account of Mecca and the Hajj from a Muslim scholar resident at Jeddah, including the detail that Mecca's population of 30,000 tripled owing to pilgrims. He includes too a long account of the Wahhabis, and their recent defeat by Egyptian forces under Ibrahim Pasha, describing in lurid detail the tortures inflicted on captured Wahhabis. From Jeddah the party sailed to Kosseir, on the coast of Egypt, where they disembarked and proceeded inland by camel to Qena, a small town on the Nile near Dendera, whose sights Hanson describes with awe. Their party proceeded down the Nile, seeing the pyramids at Sakara, eventually reaching Alexandria by way of Cairo, where Sir Miles met Muhammad Ali Pasha. The many local and European superstitions and precautions around the plague are described in great detail. From Alexandria, they proceeded by boat through the eastern Mediterranean, and then overland through Italy sightseeing during the summer. Hanson's account is unembellished; its interest lies in the extensive description of a route used frequently by travellers between India and Britain in this period, and the additional information Hanson accumulated as the natural consequence of his own unprejudiced curiosity.