King's College London
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West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

Travels to and from Constantinople

The two-volume travel journal featured here was written by an officer of the Royal Navy as he travelled extensively around southern Europe and an area historically known as the Levant. The work is dedicated to his uncle, Lord Colville of Culross, also a naval officer, who, in the tradition of the Grand Tour, may have financed the author’s travels.

The etymology of the word ‘Levant’ comes from the Latin ‘to rise’ (ie the sun rises in the east) and generally refers to areas of the eastern Mediterranean, including areas of North Africa. In the past few years it has gained negative connotations through being included in the acronym ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

Hand-coloured frontispiece showing a Mamaluke, a lady of Mount Lebanon from the Maronite community and an Arab princessHand-coloured frontispiece showing a Mamaluke, a lady of Mount Lebanon from the Maronite community and an Arab princessFrankland was an enthusiastic traveller, remarking on the hospitality of the monks in Syrian monasteries and commenting on his journey from Beirut to Mount Lebanon, ‘I have seen some of the most picturesque parts of Europe and America, but I really think I have never yet beheld such scenery as here presents itself’.

The work also recounts his travels to the historic Mediterranean port cities of Alexandria, Venice and Naples.

On his eventual return to London in 1828 after three years’ absence, he landed, unimpressed, at the ‘dirty and disagreeable Custom-house wharf’, in the busy docklands area of east London.

The image of the hand-coloured frontispiece from volume 1, above right, shows three portraits. The first is of a Mamaluke, a term that encompasses a diverse demographic of people from across the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Frontispiece portraits of Christian ladies of Damascus and Aleppo and an Arab sheikh of the mountains, all in brightly coloured traditional dressHand-coloured frontispiece showing Christian ladies of Damascus and Aleppo and an Arab sheikh of the mountainsHistorically, Mamalukes were emancipated slaves trained as military personnel and they held power in parts of the Ottoman Empire.

The second portrait shows a lady of Mount Lebanon from the Maronite community; and the third an Arab princess who wears a similar cone-like headdress known as a tantour.

The image of the frontispiece portraits in volume 2, to the left, show Christian ladies of Damascus and Aleppo and an Arab sheikh of the mountains.

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