Diary 47 (Nov. 1897-Aug. 1898): Summary

(Kearby Chess)

Diary 47 begins on November 4, 1897. According to his diary, Joseph arrived back in Baghdad from his journey to Europe with his son Alexander, his wife Eliza, and the outgoing British Consul Col. Mockler on October 14. He quickly settled back in to his normal life, traveling up and down the Tigris River from Baghdad to Basra and back, aboard the steamers of the Lynch company. Typically, Joseph was clerk aboard the H. Blosse Lynch, though on occasion his services were required aboard her newer sister ship, the Mejidieh. At home in Baghdad, Joseph corresponded with his son by mail. Alexander had begun studying several subjects in school, including German. Joseph also noted in his diary that he had paid a carpenter for four days worth of work while he was away at Basra, part of an ongoing series of improvements to his home in Baghdad. (4 November 1897, 2-3)

Evidently, Eliza had returned to Iraq separately from Joseph, she had recently arrived at Basra in the SS Arabistan, one of several British steamers which made a regular run from Europe, through the Red Sea and Persian Gulf before traveling on to India. On Monday, November 8, Joseph met Eliza at Basra. Upon meeting her again, he wrote in his diary: "I could not keep myself from the tears on seeing her without my son Alexander." (8 Nov. 1897, 9) The news that she brought was just as bad. She complained that in Paris, their family friend Ibrahim Gejou had treated them quite poorly. He was unprepared for their arrival and charged them extra for her to stay in the same room with Alexander. To make matters worse, Eliza believed that Alexander should not remain in Paris because he spent too much money too quickly and made a habit of selling his postage stamps instead of using them to write home. The whole conversation left Joseph so very sorry & broken hearted that [he] lost all the pleasure of talking with her about anything else. That night, he could not sleep well on account of the excessive mosquitoes and his wife's story of his son's life in Paris. (8 Nov. 1897, 10)

Upon their return to Baghdad together, the rest of the family was glad to see Joseph and Eliza once again. Throughout November, Joseph often noted that the weather was unusually cold and calm, recording morning temperatures in the low thirties Fahrenheit, and overnight temperatures that sometimes dipped as low as the mid-twenties. On Tuesday the 16th, Joseph took the time to call on the new British Consul General, Colonel Lock, who had replaced the outgoing Col. Mockler. Lock, it seems, was rather interested in performing archaological expeditions in the surrounding desert. An avid amateur archaeologist himself, Joseph recommended that Lock visit the site of Sippar at Tell Abu Habbah, southwest of Baghdad. Joseph then went to meet the new French Vice Consul M. Ronet, and engineer M. Jacquerès. (16 Nov. 1897, 17-18) After visiting with some family on November 17th, tending to some home business, and receiving another letter from his son, Joseph embarked for Basra again on the 19th. Throughout the journey, Joseph continually complained of the cold weather and its ill effects on his health.

At Basra, they took on an important cargo: the body of Sheikh Mezel of the Mahomerah tribe. Mezel had been murdered by his brother Khazal, and the body was being transported to the Shia holy city of Karbala for burial. On this journey, Joseph listed among the notable passengers: the new Inspector for the Quarantine of Baghdad dispatched by Constantinople, Dr. Z. Yeronimakus; Dr. Malakis of the Basra Quarantine and his clerk Solon Calothi, coming for an unspecified political affair, as well as Ezra Daniel the Jew Apothecary. (23-4 Nov. 1897, 27-9) On November 28, Joseph learned of the death of Yousif Sayegh, a relative of his wife Eliza's late husband Fathallah. Joseph and his brother-in-law Antone Marine attended a wake at the Sayegh family home in Baghdad, where Yousif had lived as the last resident after his remaining brothers in the clergy moved north to Mosul. Later that afternoon, Joseph, Antone Marine, and their friend Yousif Korkis Tessy accompanied the body from the Sayegh home to the Armenian Church near the ancient citadel in the northwest corner of Baghdad, where funeral services were held. The Baghdadi Christian community turned out in droves to pay their respects, including the Russian consul Mr. Mashkow. Following the funeral, the body was taken by mourning carriage to the Christian cemetery complex on the eastern outskirts of the city, where it was interred. (28 Nov. 1897, 34-5)

Aside from unusually rainy and gloomy weather, the late autumn and early winter of 1897 was a relatively uneventful time. The work on the Svoboda family home continued, he noted in his diary that he painted the pillars and railings in his home yellow and green. (30 Nov. 1897, 37) In December, Joseph continued to correspond with Alexander, who complained of the bitterly cold winter in Paris, the like of which he had rarely experienced -- temperature always at zero, or freezing point. (16 Dec. 1897, 53) Once, on a journey from Baghdad to Basra, Joseph noted that some of his passengers were the former administrators of the Basra Quarantine, Dr. Lubiez and Dr. Malakis. They, along with their entire staff, had been dismissed from their positions for reasons that Joseph was not aware of, and were returning to Istanbul via the Suez Canal in the steamer Alphonse Parran. (17 Dec. 1897, 55) On the same trip to Basra, Joseph gave Rezooki Sayegh three Arabic language manuscripts to send to Alexander via Bombay so that they could be sold in Paris. Joseph also sent four Rumelian Railway lottery bonds (purchased at a price of 28 Turkish Lira) for Alexander to sell in exchange for some of the Paris Exhibition Lottery bonds for 1900 for 1 Napoleon apiece. (21 December 1897, 59-60)

On Christmas Day, Joseph noted that they passed the Ottoman steamers Mossul and Ressafah near Bughela carrying Ottoman soldiers to Kuwait to settle a disturbance, as he put it, between the followers of the Sheikh of Kweit Moobarak el Subah and his brother's sons, as his brother Mahomed was Killed by the former 2 years ago, the Arabs have split in two parts. Later, the crew celebrated Christmas aboard the Blosse Lynch with a caked baked by Captain Cowley's butler Francis. (25 December 1897, 64-5) Upon arriving back at Baghdad, Joseph wrote that the Damascus Post, the key mail line going over land through the Ottoman Empire, was delayed by more than four days, meaning he and Eliza had no letters from Alexander for Christmas. (26 December 1897, 66) It arrived the following day, the driver having been found dead in the desert between Hit and Saglawyeh east of the Euphrates. (27 December 1897, 68) Several days later, Joseph mailed Alexander a cheque for 200 francs from his uncle Yousif Marine as a Christmas gift. (30 December 1897, 71)

The first of the New Year brought an unexpected surprise. On a trip down to Basra, with morning temperatures hovering around freezing, Joseph notes a particularly uncommon weather phenomenon: "It begun to Snow after midnight, a phenomena for this part of the world and a great rarity, I never saw it like this but once some 25 years ago; the whole desert, banks of the river and brush wood are covered with it so white and picturesque." (1 January 1898, 74) Though recording wonder at the rarity and beauty of the event, Joseph complains of the cold for several days. It seems the threat of Ottoman military force successfully settled the troubles in Gulf, at least temporarily, as the Blosse Lynch passed the same contingent of Turkish soldiers now encamped at Lebany on the banks of the Tigris. Evidently, the Sheikh of Qatar (Kater in Joseph's rendering) Jassim el Thani had submitted to Ottoman authority. (4 January 1898, 79)

The month of January 1898 saw three anniversaries that each occasioned great celebration in Baghdad. On January 6, the Father Superior of the Latin Church, Marie Joseph, was feted for his 40th anniversary at the Church in Baghdad. The French Vice Consul, Mons. Ronet, presented the priest with the Palmes d'Officier d'Académie, one of the highest awards for the expansion of French culture abroad. January 9th, 1898 corresponded to the 16th of Shaban in the Islamic hijri calendar, and was celebrated as the Coronation Day of Sultan Abdulhamid II. According to Joseph, all of the foreign consuls in Baghdad paid their respects to the Governor of Baghdad Vali Atta-allah Pasha and Mushir Rejeb Pasha, Commander in Chief of the Ottoman 6th Army. (9 Jan 1898, 85-6) On January 27, late in the evening on account of the Ramadan fast, the German consulate hosted a reception in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm's birthday. Joseph attended, along with most of the European diplomatic community and the Ottoman provincial administrators. There was a dance, and guests were entertained by the Ottoman military band. (27 January 1898, 111-3)

On January 10, Joseph received an urgent telegram from his son asking permission to travel to Cairo to work for the international commission overseeing the management of Egyptian public debt. He wrote in his diary "I was astonished to see such a message, how could I possibly let him accept such a situation without first knowing what condition and how and who has asked him, or if he has been applying for it?" He attempted to send a telegram ordering Alexander to wait, but it was delayed by a cut telegraph line, an all-too common occurrence. In the mean time, his brother-in-law Anton Marine advised him to allow Alexander to pursue the opportunity. Joseph resolved to wait until his son sent more details by mail. (10 January 1898, 87-8)

Upon receiving Joseph's telegram, Alexander replied by wire that he would wait until the end of February. Joseph wrote: "All here advise me to let him go after I receive the full particulars of this situation in Cairo if advantageous; I was so restless all the night thinking about Alexander's project of wishing to go to Cairo." (18 January 1898, 99) A week later, Joseph received two letters from Alexander from the end of December, more thoroughly explaining his motivations. Through Sherif Beg, the son of a Moossa Kadem Pasha, he met the unnamed son of a Serkis Pasha, who in turn promised to introduce Alexander to Nubar Pasha, the former Egyptian Prime Minister that had retired to Paris. (24 January 1898, 107-8)

Throughout the later months of winter, Joseph continued to correspond frequently with Alexander. On Sunday February 6, he received an inexplicable telegram from his which simply read: "Grammaire, 100 francs repondez." In his diary, Joseph puzzled over the meaning of the message. He went to the German consulate to gather and copy the necessary documents for Alexander to renew his Austrian passport through their family friend Mr. Böhm in Vienna. After a few days, Joseph finally surmised that, by "grammaire," Alexander must have meant the Arabic manuscripts he had sent to him in December. He replied telling Alexander to suspend the sale, as 100 francs was far too low a price. He then sent Alexander a longer letter via the Damascus Post to telling providing the details of a trip to Vienna and telling him that he "must give up the idea of the job in Egypt for the present." (6-10 February 1898, 124-30) On February 19, Joseph received two letters from Alexander from a month earlier, explaining that he had been quite unwell, but that he had given up the thought of going to Cairo and would instead go to Vienna come spring. (19 February 1898, 142-3) Glad to hear that his son had come to his senses, Joseph wrote to Alexander to tell him that if he was short of money he could draw 500 francs from Rezooki Korkis for his travels. (23 February 1898, 146) For the most part, the winter of 1897-1898 was cold and dry. In late February Joseph noted with relief that rain had finally come. The drought had pushed grain prices to historic highs.

According to Joseph: "wheat had risen to 500 piasters per Wazna of 78 Constantinople Oke; a thing which has never yet occurred before." (25 Feb. 1898, 149) The bad weather had also killed off livestock and destroyed much of the vegetable crop. Bad pasturage from the cold meant that young lambs were killed early for their skins rather than their meat or wool. (1 March 1898, 155) Joseph recorded in his diary upon returning to Baghdad from Basra in early March: "There is a great scarcity and dearnes of provision in town; which is worth noting, it is caused by the scarcity of rain & the severe cold of this winter which killed all of the vegetation & pasturage for sheep & cattle & the price rose steadily, although there are a great quantity of Grain stowed away by the dealers in hopes of getting the price up & therefore making a good profit, the Government do not seem to take any steps to avoid this, & force the people & the sellers to dispose of the provision at a reasonable price, every kind of food rose accordingly." (4 March 1898, 158-9) Joseph wrote that the spike in food prices precipitated unrest and banditry amongst the tribal Arabs outside the city: "Lots of theft & plunder are taking place in the town & outside, the Arabs are plundering Keleks & caravans; & theives robbing houses & shops on account of the scarcity." (5 February 1898, 160)

On March 5th, at the invitation of Eliahoo Denoos, the Seraf of the Residency, Joseph, his wife Eliza, Antone Marine and his family, Yousif Asfar and Philip Chiha went together to the wedding of his brother Noonoo Denoos. Joseph was not pleased by the nights' festivities. He complained to his diary: "there were hundreds of people Jews and Mahomedans, with the Jews band, and the Native music -- the ladies were separated from us in other rooms, I did not like this entertainment at all, there is no taste in it, neither head or tale. We left at 11 1/2 and came to our houses. But I lost my sleep and could not do so all the rest of the night." (6 March 1898, 160-2)

The following morning, Joseph sent a telegram to Alexander authorizing him to sell the Arabic manuscript for 100 francs and the Rumelian Railway Lotteries for 105 Francs each. He lamented that he had paid 140 francs for each of them initially. (7-10 March 1898, 162-7) He later sent a more detailed letter to Alexander laying out his financial situation. Joseph allowed Alexander to keep the proceeds from the manuscript sale (100 francs) and the Rumelian lottery sale (225 Francs, less the cost of 10 shares of the 1900 Paris Exhibition lottery for various family members), plus 500 francs apiece from N. Sayegh and Rezooki Korkis, and a 300 franc bank note from Joseph, giving Alexander more than 1600 francs. Joseph thought this was an ample sum to get Alexander through to Vienna. That evening, he received a letter from Alexander informing him that he had sold the Rumelian lotteries for 104 Francs each, minus 14 francs for stamp duties and commissions. Joseph noted that the whole transaction had come at a loss to him of 158 francs. Alexander also told his father that he was planning to leave for Vienna around April 10. (10 March 1898, 166-7)

As he often did, Joseph complained about government corruption on the occasion of the dismissal of the Vali of Basra, Arif Pasha, in mid-March. Joseph noted that he had been appointed in November of 1896, a scant 16 months earlier. He wrote that the Vali left "with a nice fortune made of nearly 30,000 TLiras, it is the largest sum of that any former Governor had been able to squeeze out from the sheikhs and merchants and other bribery." The Lynches transported Arif Pasha back to Baghdad aboard the Blosse Lynch, breaching normal diplomatic protocol by not flying the Turkish flag, as neither they nor the dismissed Vali had one. The following day the ship's crew rectified this oversight by running up a makeshift Turkish flag in the rigging. (14-5 March 1898, 172-6)

Joseph also made a habit of recording various business intrigues and company gossip. In late March, he noted that Mr. Hatfield, the Blosse Lynch's second mate was reprimanded and dismissed by Mr. Bottomley, Stephen Lynch's agent in Baghdad. The unfortunate Hatfiled was immediately pulled from service and given a one-way ticket to Karachi, the nearest British port. His dismissal came as the result of various derelictions of duty: once failing to pick up the mails for India, once leaving the ship without permission on account of an alleged illness, and bringing numerous prostitutes onto the steamer into his cabin "in excess," as Joseph put it. Nevertheless, Joseph did not seem to believe that Hatfield's behavior was too out of line, writing: "Otherwise he is sober and of good and mild temper he certainly has followed what other officers are doing in both steamers." (24 March 1898, 185-6)

As the Mesopotamian winter transitioned into spring, and the cold gave way to heat, humidity, and insects, life continued apace for Joseph. April 15 marked a year since he had departed for Europe with Alexander and Eliza. The same day, he received a letter from Alexander asking for permission to return home from Vienna via the overland route at Aleppo, as he disliked traveling by sea. At the same time, he also asked permission to take an alternate route to Vienna, via Lyon, Milan, and Venice. (15 April 1898, 216-7) Meanwhile, the renovations to Joseph's continued. He noted in his diary "I had masons today in repairing the wall on the narrow street, and also in my small house behind." (19 April 1898, 223) On 27 April, Joseph complained to his diary of a new flare up of his persistent stomach ulcer: "I took a dose of Castor Oil this morning early at 4 1/2 as I have felt bilious and bowels out of order, I had not taken it for a year." (27 April 1898, 233)

In late April, the Chaldean Patriarch from Mosul, Aleed Ishoh came to Baghdad to oversee the completion of a new Chaldean church. Construction on this church had begun some five years earlier, but it had been halted due to lack of sufficient funds. Joseph recorded of him: "He is an old man of 75 and very clever, speaking several European languages he has the decoration of the Mejidieh Class. I found him a nice person very talketive and amusing." (29 April-1 May 1898, 237-39) The Patriarch's visit was of some local social importance, he was called on by the Atta-allah Pasha the Vali and Rejeb Pasha the Mushir of the Ottoman 6th Army.

In May, some two months after Arif Pasha's dismissal as Vali of Basra, Joseph recorded that Anis Pasha had been permanently appointed in his place. This appointment proved controversial among Anis Pasha was the former Governor of Diyarbakir and helped order the massacres of Armenians during the Hamidian pogroms of 1894-96. Joseph writes: "This is the same Anis Pasha who was Governor of Diarbekir 2 years ago, during the Armenian Massacre there, encouraged by him and he remained inactive, and the French Consul there wired to the French Ambassador Mons. Cambon, the latter went immediately to the Sultan and complained very strongly and demanded the immediate dismissal of Anis Pasha to stop the massacre, which he did, and there was no further bloodshed; Now he has been appointed to Basreh, but the English and French protested strongly to the Sultan regarding his being appointed Wali at Basreh." (2 May 1898, 240-2) Despite the protestations of European diplomats, Anis Pasha arrived in Basra aboard the Ottoman steamer Ressafah. He was met with great fanfare from the local officials and nobility amidst an honor guard of Ottoman soldiers. (9 May 1898, 252-3)

In mid-May, Joseph received a telegram from Alexander told his father to rest assured that he would depart Paris for Vienna soon, but that he needed to be sent an additional 500 francs. Joseph confided to his diary: "I suppose he wants the money for the Bycicle which he must have bought; I had written to him not to buy one now as I had arranged with Johny, my nephew to get two out from London one for himself, I did not know what to do, and not having money just now to advance him so I had to satisfy his wishes." Joseph arranged for Rezooki Korkis to advance Alexander £20. (13 May 1898, 259) Meanwhile, the renovations to Joseph's home continued. On May 18th, he recorded in his diary: "I have carpenters at home for the last 30 days working in making me a new railings on top of the house made of Jawi wood." Later that day, Joseph received a telegram from Alexander dated the previous night informing him that he had arrived safely in Vienna. Joseph speculated that Alexander must have left Paris on the 10th and travelled by Milan, Turin, and Venice to reach Vienna on the 17th. (18 May 1898, 264-5)

Late May brought severe weather. On the night of May 24th, Joseph observed lightning and thunder on the southern horizon while the Blosse Lynch took on coal and offloaded cargo and passengers at Amara. Joseph watched with apprehension as the storm seemed to move up to the north and west, with "thick black clouds like a range of high mountains." A sudden shift in the wind brought the ominous clouds above them at Amara. Joseph later wrote: "it gave us no time to furl the awnings when it begun to blow a terrific squall such as I never witnessed; With thick dust and rain and the strong lightning, the Wind is blowing from the opposite side and played havoc with the upper deck riggings, all the awnings were torn away, stretchers broke and stancheons bent and were rattling on the deck like so many sounds of cannons, the passengers Kit flew on shore and most of it were picked away by Arabs; the passengers came down yelling and crying; the thick dust blinded us, the incessant lightning and thunder was a sight like a hurricane at sea." The squall lasted for a half an hour, intruding into the cabins and causing small leaks below deck. However, the damage to the Blosse Lynch was minimal. The crew finished taking on six tons of coal and a shipment of ghi, and she got underway again after just a few hours. (24 May 1898, 275-6)

In June, Joseph noted a major dispute between the Arab tribes. He records: "About a month ago, a great quarrel had taken place between the tribes of Hassan ibn Jendeel of the Beni Laam tribe and Magasis located from Coot and downward on the West bank and both lost about 20 or 30 Men Killed; and now all the Governors of the surrounding districts have gathered at S. Saad to arrange the Matter and collected the Sheikhs to oblige them to give a Guarantee for their future Good behaviour." The mutasarrifs of Amara and Nasryeh(?), and the Kaymakam of Kut Jaffer Beg, as well as Ottoman officials came with a company of soldiers to mediate the dispute. (17 June 1898, 307-8)

Later that month, Joseph received a few letters from Alexander about his stay in Vienna. He recorded in his diary with pride that Alexander "is very well, taking his German lesson from Dr. Bayer, and goes to a large merchants office, a very extensive export firm he is very glad of this place and the Director is very satisfied of him, he was recommended to this large house by Mr. Böhm, who also writes to me a very nice letter and telling me how he is looking after Alexander." (24 June 1898, 320) At the same time, he received a telegram from Alexander stating "Require 500 hastily advise Korkis." Knowing that the expense of the journey from Paris and his emergency visit to the doctor were quite high, Joseph confided to his diary "I could not possibly avoid sending him as he may be in great need." Joseph went to Yousif Korkis and had him wire his brother Rezooki for 20 Pounds Sterling for Alexander. (24 June 1898, 321)

However, Alexander's stay in Vienna was destined to be a short one. On July 8th, Joseph wrote to Alexander and provided details about his impending journey home over land, including a list of stations from Alexandretta (Iskenderun) to Deir ez-Zor in the Syrian desert. (2 July 1898, 330) But, In order for Alexander to return home, Joseph had to engage in some subterfuge. In early July, Alexander his Ottoman passport back to Joseph for renewal. Mr. Böhm, the Svoboda family friend in Vienna, could not obtain an Austrian passport for Alexander. Having just turned 20, Alexander was still liable for mandatory conscription into the Austrian army, and if the authorities knew of his presence there, he would be drafted in September. Thus, Alexander would have to travel back to Istanbul on an Ottoman passport. (8 July 1898, 338)

On the same day, Joseph recorded that the Mushir of the Ottoman 6th Army, Recep Pasha, had been transferred to Tripoli in North Africa by order from Istanbul. Joseph wrote: "It is to the regret of everybody here Christians, Mahomedans and Jews because he is one of the best man in the Turkish service, a very honest streight forward man, a just and wise administrator, he belongs to the New School and a liberal and open hearted." Evidently, the Vali was jealous of Recep Pasha's popularity:

"The present Waly here Atta-Allah Pasha who is a very old man, very fanatic and lazy, and does no good to the welfare of the people and the country, hated by everybody, but has a great influence and being a relative of the Sheikh ul-Islam and hates the Mushir in his internal feelings, being jealous of him because every body likes the latter, and has been undermining him and, the Sultan hates every person in his services who has such influence and liberality with the nation; and frightened by false rumor bing represented to him, that if the Mushire is allowed to be left in Baghdad where his popularity is gaining ground, he might eventually gain his independence by having all the Army Corps siding with him as well as the population, and it might end by the dismemberment of Irak Arabia from the Turkish dominion."(8 July 1898, 338-40)

The Mushir was popular with the local citizens of Baghdad. A group of concerned residents telegrammed to Istanbul begging the Porte to retain him, but according to Joseph their appeals had the opposite of the intended effect. Instead, they inflamed the Atta-allah Pasha and Sultan Abdulhamid II's fears that Recep Pasha's popularity might one day lead to rebellion. Instead, the Mushir of Yemen was called in to take Recep Pasha's place.

The next several days were "fearfully warm," as Joseph put it, with afternoon temperatures hovering in the mid-110s. The pace of business slowed considerably. The Blosse Lynch remained docked at the Customs House for some time offloading cargo. Joseph took advantage of time to catch up on correspondence and visitation. On July 9th, he received a new telegram from Alexander stating: "Advantageous Affaire in hand, require thousand florins." This sum was equal to about 90 Pounds Sterling. Joseph had Rezooki Korkis wire Alexander the money, believing it to be for the purchase of items in Europe that could be resold at a better price in Baghdad. (9 July 1898, 343) On the 11th, Joseph called on the Agha Muhammad at his home on the outskirts of Baghdad, and the following afternoon he went to visit Mushir Recep Pasha to bid him goodbye. On the 13th, Joseph sent Alexander a lengthy letter "six sheets" arranging accommodations for him in Istanbul at the Mostapha Pasha Han. He sent along a letter of recommendation from his friend Georgis Antone to Antone's friend Nazaret Kasparyan, who ran the han, to provide Alexander 30 Turkish Liras on his arrival. The package also included Alexander's Ottoman passport. (13 July 1898, 349)

Throughout the summer, tensions between the local Ottoman authorities and the Arab tribes of the lower Tigris continued. Joseph wrote in mid-July that "there has been a disturbance lately caused by the Motserrif of Amara Mostapha Pasha who came here to fill his pocket from Sheikh Seyhood (the runaway brigand who had attacked the Khalifah, and now made Sheikh and reinstated by the Turks and farmed lands here and the Motserrif wanted to exact more money from him and his sons Faleh, Kathem, etc, the Motserrif having taken one of the sons and put him in prison, and the father Seyhood came and attacked the village and fired shots from the opposite side on the telegraph office where the Motserrif was sitting." Both of the active Lynch steamers -- the Khalifa and the Blosse Lynch -- were given contingents of zaptyehs to guard against attack from Arab gunners. (16 July 1898, 354-5)

On July 22nd, Joseph received two letters from Alexander complaining about the strangeness of Vienna. Alexander wrote that Mr. Böhm had departed Vienna to stay in the countryside for the summer, leaving him alone. He also informed his father that he had used one of the payments of 500 francs to buy 100 pairs of European shoes, presumably to bring back to Baghdad to sell. (22 July 1898, 368) On July 25, Joseph received an urgent telegram from Alexander in Paris dated July 22, informing him that he was in Paris for an important purpose, and that he would sent a letter soon explaining why. Joseph was astonished at his sudden departure and feared that Alexander had fled because someone had tipped off the authorities to his presence, making him liable for conscription. Joseph wrote in his diary: "I suspect the sons of Isak Lurion either Faust or Edward, they saw that he was in the office of Olloi Schweizer the General Export merchant and did this out of spite. Joseph immediately telegramed Ibrahim Gejou in Paris asking for an explantion. (25 July 1898, 370-1) He tried to contact Mr. Böhm at his summer home to ask about the situation." (27 July 1898, 374)

On the morning of July 28th, Joseph set out for Basra aboard the Blosse Lynch, not knowing Alexander's fate. He spoke to Mr. Julietti at the Baghdad telegraph office and made arrangements for any telegrams addressed to him at Baghdad to be forwarded to him at Amara or Basra. Yet, when they anchored at Amara on the 30th, there was still no word from Alexander. Being left in such a state of ignorance took a heavy toll on Joseph's mental well-being: "I could no longer write and was getting mad and feel so weak that I do not know what to do and where to go, my heart fails me and I am so sorry and out of temper on account of Alexander." (31 July 1898, 380)

Upon landing at Basra, Joseph received a package of three urgent telegrams, one from Ibrahim Gejou and two from his wife Eliza. In the first, Gejou informed Joseph that Alexander was indeed in Paris, seemingly to be married. In the second, Eliza exhorted Alexander to telegraph the Austrian consul in Baghdad to inform the Ambassador in Paris to put a stop to the marriage, this was followed by one from two hours later, in which Eliza stated that she had corresponded with Monseigneur Altmayer, the Archbishop of Baghdad, who advised that involving the Austrian ambassador could be a risky proposition. Alexander had, after all, been preparing to depart Vienna so that he could avoid conscription into the Austrian army. Joseph sarcastically recorded in his diary: "This is a fine thing Alexander is doing if what Ibrahim says is true; I am at a loss to find out the reality of this news; but if it is true Alexander must have been doing a great fault and foolishness; unless Ibrahim has been working at it all the time before he went to Vienna." He discussed the matter with his friends and relations in Basra and resolved to telegram back to Paris to both Ibrahim Gejou and Alexander to discover what was behind Alexander's seemingly erratic behavior.

Joseph was unable to sleep that night. On the morning of August 1, after he had sent off his telegrams to Alexander and Ibrahim, Joseph boarded the Blosse Lynch to return to Baghdad. In one of the final entries in Diary 47, he wrote: "This news has stunned me and made me quite sick pulled down as it is a thing that I never expected it to come from my only son that I hold so dear and precious on earth, my affection to him has no limit and I have been expecting to see him soon and am sacrificing everything for him even my health and existence." That evening the Blosse Lynch set sail, with Joseph still awaiting a response from his son and an answer to his worries. (31 July-1 August 1898, 380-6)