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Syria and Egypt under the last Sultans of Turkey: being Experiences, during Fifty Years, of Mr. Consul-General John Barker, chiefly from his Letters and Journals, edited by his Son, Edward B. Barker.
- London, Samuel Tinsley, 1876. Two volumes, 8vo. Original blue cloth, spine lettered in gilt, ruled in gilt and black, covers ornamented in black; pp. xi, 366; viii, 338, 16, (advertisements, dated September, 1876); only very light marking to binding, internally, apart from occasional brown spotting, mainly to the beginnings of the volumes, a very good set in the original cloth; provenance: from Gloucester Reference Library with their stamp to front fly-leaf of volume one. First edition of a rare work, in the superior, first-issue binding (the second had only blind ornamentation). Half a century of diplomacy in the Middle East, during one of the more turbulent periods, when Muhammad Ali of Egypt challenged the central government in Constantinople and jointly ruled both Egypt and Syria against the Ottoman Porte. Born in Smyrna in 1771 (John's father had settled there for health reasons), Barker was educated in England. 'About 1797 he went to the Porte as private secretary to John Spencer Smith, British ambassador there. On 9 April 1799 he was commissioned by patent as pro-consul at Aleppo, and agent ad interim for the Levant and the East India companies. He was regularly appointed agent for the East India Company over the next thirty-three years. Barker became full consul for the Levant Company on 18 November 1803; he introduced vaccination into Syria in the same year. In March 1807 he fled from Aleppo, because of tension between England and the Porte, and, having previously entrusted his wife and children to him, took refuge with the prince of the Druses in Lebanon. He managed to carry on his duties from Haris and transmitted information between Britain and India. His diligence allowed news of the suspension of the peace of Amiens and of the landing of Napoleon at Cannes to be forwarded to India with remarkable speed, preventing the surrender of Pondicherry to the French. When peace between England and Turkey was declared, Barker returned to Aleppo, making a splendid public entry on 2 June 1809. In 1818 Barker travelled on leave to London via Marseilles, returning on 25 October 1820, and in 1825 was appointed British consul at Alexandria, arriving on 25 October 1826. He acted as consul-general in Egypt from 1827 and served formally in the post from November 1829 until 31 May 1833, when he left Egypt for his villa at Suediah [now Samanda?], near Antioch. At Suediah, Barker planted a garden, known throughout the East, where he grew all the fruits of the West, introduced many new species into Syria, and supplied new varieties to England, the most famous being the Stanwick nectarine, for which he received a medal from the Horticultural Society of London. He sent agents all over the Orient to collect cuttings of the best fruit trees and in 1844 visited England to introduce some of these exotic trees. He worked to improve silk and cotton culture, and promoted other enterprises in Syria. "A perfect gentleman", according to Neale, "an accomplished scholar, a sagacious thinker, a philosopher, and philanthropist." He died of apoplexy at a summer house at Betias, on Mount Rhosus, on 5 October 1849 (Syria and Egypt, 2.285). He was buried beside the Armenian church at Betias, where a marble monument from Genoa was left to his memory. Among his children was the orientalist William Burckhardt Barker' (ODNB). Not in Atabey. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Henry Sotheran Ltd]
Last Found On: 2017-07-28           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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