Description: Detailed descriptions of Istanbul, Izimir and other sights in Turkey and the Middle East, including a slave market, the Ottoman and Egyptian fleets and a lunatic asylum

Journal of an invalid in pursuit of health during a voyage in the Mediterranean[,] Levant and Black Seas on board of the brig MacLeod 1839-1840.

[Gateshead (Northumberland)?, ca. 1842], covering 20 October 1839-29 April 1840. 4to in 24s. Contemporary gold-tooled maroon goatskin morocco, sewn on 5(?) cords, with a hollow back, binder’s title on spine “Turkish journal”, cloth sides decorated with a red and black pattern in imitation of straight-combed marbled paper, gilt edges. With manuscript title-page in roundhand script with a few words in textura, “Tuscan” decorated capitals, and slab-serif capitals; quotation from Byron on leaf before title, dedication on leaf following title; 3 page table of contents; drawings of ships’ flags, 1 steel-engraved postcard (corners inserted in slits in integral leaf) and 8 steel-engraved topographic prints (inserted as plates). [482], [46 blank] pp. plus 2 free endleaves.

An extremely detailed journal of a voyage to the Ottoman Empire in the 325 ton brig Macleod and of the writer’s adventures ashore in numerous cities there and in the Middle East, averaging about 3 pages per day, but with much more at the most interesting sights. It was written by Saunderson or Sanderson Walker after his return to England, clearly based on a journal kept during the voyage. It could be either the author’s expanded fair copy of the original journal, or the original journal could have contained only notes that formed the basis for the present text.
Saunderson Walker (1815-1845) was the son of Henry Walker (1783-ca. 1854/63?) a Quaker ship owner in North Shields, at the mouth of the River Tyne, near Newcastle. The present manuscript tells us that the father was manager of the Gateshead & Tyne Shipping Company. Saunderson Walker apparently lived in Gateshead, but mentions going to [North] Shields before his departure. His father was apparently a block and mast maker at his first marriage in 1814 and is described as a ship owner when his first wife died in 1819. He was still listed as Gateshead & Tyne’s agent in 1847. Saunderson was only four when his mother died and the only surviving child. His father remarried, but the present manuscript refers only to his “parent” in the singular. Walker notes in his account of his preparations for the journey that he was working in an office, probably in his father’s firm.
Walker must have suffered from tuberculosis already as a teenager. At age 22 it was severe enough that he made an excursion to the Mediterranean and Italy for the sake of his health, returning home in the autumn of 1837 and thinking himself “completely cured”. By July 1839, however, the illness had returned and his doctor recommended a voyage to the southern hemisphere. He originally planned to go to Australia, but instead his father arranged for him to take one of his company’s ships to Constantinople (Istanbul) and travel for six months. After a brief introduction with background information and an account of the preparations, the present journal records his departure on 22 October 1839 and gives a daily log of the voyage and the islands on the way from England to Constantinople, where he arrived on 23 November. He devotes about sixty pages to the city and its surroundings before setting off for Smyrna (Izmir) on the steamer Stambool. After about forty-five pages on Smyrna he set off again, visiting Rhodes, Cyprus, Beirut, Palestine, Egypt, then back to Smyrna and Constantinople for another long stay. After an excursion through the Black Sea to Odessa and back he set off for home, departing on 21 February 1840 and arriving in Falmouth on 19 April.
Walker gives very detailed descriptions of sights, events and people, visiting the bazars, the Seraglio, mosques, baths, dances and religious ceremonies. He ventured beyond the usual tourist sights, however. Coming from a shipping family he arranged to view the Ottoman and Egyptian fleets, including the 146-gun Mahmoudich with 1700 men, “accounted the largest and finest ship afloat” (though he notes and apparently accepts Egyptian claims that their smaller ships were better manned and equipped). He notes that he was “courteously granted permission and shown over her” and gives a detailed description. As a Quaker he found slavery abhorrent, but arranged a visit to the slave market, “not often visited by Christians” and gives both detailed descriptions and intelligent commentary. The fact that the slaves appeared to be well cared for (which he notes is in the salesman’s interest), that the children were happily playing and that he saw no mistreatment, did not shake his opposition (and the owner did carry a whip). He also visited the lunatic asylum and again gives a detailed account.
Alas, Walker’s voyage did not cure his tuberculosis. Only months after his return he made another voyage, to the East Indies in 1840-1841, and wrote up the present journal after his return. He died of tuberculosis in 1845 at Southampton at the age of 29, probably at a sanatorium, for his residence was given as Gateshead (also noted as his residence in the journals at the Wellcome Library).
The manuscript is carefully and neatly written with chapter headings and running heads, clearly carefully planned and executed, in an album of fine wove paper. It collates [A]-[L]24 = 264 ll. Some of the paper is unwatermarked, but some is watermarked variously Venables & Co|1841 and Venables & Co|1842. Each quire has an embossed stamp “Brit[ish] Paper Warehouse 46 Cornhill[, London]” or “London [crown] Superfine” in the upper inside corner of its first leaf (second leaf in the first quire). The paper was made up into quires before it was stamped, but the binding was either bespoke or customized. Walker must therefore have begun writing this journal in or soon after 1842 and completed it by 1844. It is dedicated to the memory an anonymous “friend and fellow invalid” who died “as the voyager returned”. Walker’s journals of his 1837 voyage to the Mediterranean and 1840-1841 voyage to the East Indies survive at the Wellcome Library, MS. vols. S.76 & S.84-85 (
The inserted postcard dates from 1832 (Andres 1035/29 & 1047/31) and the other prints at least mostly from ca. 1837 to 1840 (including Andres 905/p. 12, 953/2 & 1035/29).
Notes on the endpapers give details of the provenance. “F. Walker”, no doubt Saunderson Walker’s stepmother Frances Holmes Walker (1796?-1869) presented it to her cousin George Richardson at Newcastle in 1863 and it has a bookplate of Wigham Richardson with manuscript date April 1892. The inserted steel engravings are foxed and a few leaves of the manuscript have browned patches, but it is otherwise in very good condition. The binding is worn at the hinges and has some surface cracks in the spine, but is otherwise also very good. A very extensive and remarkably detailed picture of life in the Ottoman Empire in 1839/40.
  • Number: 1060654
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum