JMS Diary 48 Introduction

K. Chess - January 2015

Diary 48 picks up where Diary 47 left off, at the beginning of August 1898. As usual, Joseph found the sultriness of the Iraqi summer nigh unbearable. In his cabin, the mercury pushed 108ºF in the evenings, thanks to the high Baghdad sun and the heat from the ship’s boiler. (3 August 1898, 3) Compounded by the sweltering heat, Alexander’s surprising decision to marry brought Joseph many sleepless nights. The Christian employees of the Baghdad telegraph office gossiped about the salacious details of Alexander’s affair, and word spread quickly throughout the Baghdadi Christian community. Friends and relations called on Joseph and Eliza to express their condolences and shock at Alexander’s impropriety. (5 August 1898, 7-8) Alexander had quickly replied to Joseph’s telegram of August 1st, writing to his father that it would be impossible for him to leave Paris but that his amorous heart could yet be pardoned. He implored his father to wait for his letters explaining his choices.

Meanwhile, Monseigneur Altmayer had telegrammed his colleague Cardinal Richard in Paris to inform him that Joseph did not approve of Alexander’s marriage and asking him to refuse benediction and dissuade him from marrying. At the same time, Joseph’s brother Henry had nearly sent a telegram signed by German Consul in Baghdad, Dr. Rosen, to Germany's ambassador in Paris asking for intervention. Eliza and Joseph’s sisters stopped him from sending in on the fear that if the Austrian government became involved Alexander would be liable for conscription into the Austrian army. In discussing the matter with his family Joseph became convinced that Alexander kept imploring him for more money to support “this cursed intention that he had in mind.” He feared that Alexander would continue drawing money from his accounts through their friend Razkallah Korkis, who went by the nickname Rezooki and lived in London. Joseph and Yousif Korkis dispatched a telegram telling Rezooki to halt the flow of cash should Alexander attempt to draw any more advances. (6 August 1898, 9-15)

However, later that day Yousif Korkis received a telegram from Rezooki in London which indicated that he was already aware of the situation. Rezooki denounced Alexander for having fallen in love with a prostitute and told Joseph to force him to return to Baghdad on penalty of “consequence mauvaise.” (6 August 1898, 17) Joseph wrote in his diary: “What a stupid and disgraceful affair this is for him and us, and what a scandel he has caused for us, all the people here know about it the friends are sorry and the foes are rejoicing, they all pity this act of Alexander for everyone had great esteem and high opinion of him; and all know that he is a very promising boy very intelligent, attentive, and obedient to his parents. What could have caused such a foolish thing. We should see by his letter of next post on the 11th, but I am sorry we shall leave on that day.” (6 August 1898, 16-17)

Angry at his son, Joseph set about contacting other friends and creditors in Europe to cut off Alexander’s access to funds. He wrote in his diary: “I suppose when he finishes his money he will commence to starve of hunger. This is a regular blow for me, being my only beloved son to whom I had sacrificed everything even my existence and life and now he rewards me with this behaviour.” (6 August 1898, 19)

The following day, Joseph went and spoke with the German Consul Dr. Rosen. Dr. Rosen assured him that the telegram he had given to Henry would not have resulted in Alexander being sent back to Austria for conscription, but told him that he had already sent a letter about the matter to his colleague in Paris. They discussed trying to intercept the letter at Beirut for fear that it could lead to the involvement of the Austrian authorities. Rosen suggested that Joseph discuss the matter with the French Consul M. Rouet to see if he could wire the police prefecture at Paris to have Alexander deported back to Baghdad as a minor who had violated his father’s wishes. Yet, when Joseph called on M. Rouet after his meeting with Rosen, he was told that the French government could not do anything without the intercession of the Austrian ambassador, and the only way that Alexander could be deported was if he had been guilty of a crime. However, Rouet was able to put Joseph’s mind somewhat at ease by reassuring him that an international convention barred foreign governments from retrieving their subjects from other countries for the purpose of conscription. That night, Joseph wrote in his diary: “Eliza and I are so sorry and have lost our head at this matter and we are so down hearted and grieved. (7 August 1898, 19-23)

The following morning Joseph sent Rezooki a telegram asking him and their mutual friend Yacoob Essayi to go to Paris themselves to persuade Alexander to renounce his marriage and return to Baghdad. (8 August 1898, 23-4) Dr. Rosen, the German consul, assured Joseph that Alexander could not go through with a legal marriage because he was both a minor under 25 and because he lacked his father’s permission. They agreed that the best course of action would be to pay to have Rosen’s letter to the German Ambassador in Paris intercepted, and instead bring Alexander to his senses by cutting off his finances. (9 August 1898, 25-6) On the morning of the 11th, Joseph received a puzzling telegram response in French from Razkallah about a conversation with Alexander. “Après longue conversation avec Alexandre ici, Inevitable lui autoriser financer venir Bagdad compagnie Essayie obtenir votre consentement.” Joseph could not understand the meaning of the word “financer.” He spoke with Monseigneur Altmayer and Pere Augustin, and they hypothesized that it meant Alexander’s engagement was inevitable. He would come to Baghdad with Yacoob Essayi to obtain his father’s permission.

Joseph confided his growing anger at his son’s behavior to his diary: “I am determined to send a strong answer and a warning to Alexander and let understand that I will not do anything until he comes and if he persists it will be bad for him and for his future wellfare and let him take my last warning.” That evening, he composed and dispatched a telegram to Razkallah which read: “Cannot Sanction anything until Alexander’s arrival company Essayie if persists will be most disastrous for his future wellfare, let him take my advice." (11 August 1898, 28-31)

Despite the tumult in Joseph’s family life, Lynch Company business in Baghdad continued on as usual. Throughout the summer of 1898, the company’s steamers encountered frequent difficulty navigating due to the unusually low level of the river. On one journey to Basra in August, they met trouble at a shoal near Oweyn. The crew of the Blosse Lynch sounded the river trying to find a deep enough channel, but had to transfer their cargo and passengers to the Khalifah to bypass the low water. Stuck going north at the opposite end of the shoal was the British Residency’s yacht the Comet, taking the new Acting Consul General to Baghdad to occupy his post. While detained there at Oweyn, Joseph received letters from his son postmarked Vienna and dated July 22, which mentioned receipt of the 90£ he had sent but said nothing of his marriage. Joseph was puzzled and disheartened by this letter, because he had received a telegram from Alexander from Paris also dated July 22nd. He also received the sad news from his wife that Father Superior Marie Joseph of the Carmelite order had passed away after 35 years serving the church and schools in Baghdad. (12-13 August 1898, 34-42)

The following day, while still aground on the shoal, Joseph received a telegram from his friend Razkallah stating that Alexander would desist from his marriage. While Joseph was glad to hear that his son had come to his senses, he remained bitter that Alexander had done so much to spoil his life and the family’s reputation in such a short amount of time. (14 August 1898, 45) On the morning of August 15th, the Blosse Lynch had unloaded enough of her cargo to continue steaming downriver. Following one of the few channels deep enough to navigate, the steamer went too close to the west bank of the Tigris and struck the side of a grain-laden Arab mehayleh going upriver. The impact tore one of the mehayleh’s planks loose, causing it to take on water. They dropped anchor and help the hapless boat’s crew bail out the water with their pumps and buckets, and landed the boat’s cargo of barley on shore before setting off once again for Basra (15 August 1898, 47-49)

Days later, at Basra, Joseph finally received a lengthy letter from Alexander dated July 29th. In it, tried to explain his actions and his intention to marry this young woman. According to Alexander, she was eighteen years old, they had been intimate for nearly eight months, and she came from “a respectable family in France.” Seemingly impressed by his son’s straightforwardness and humility, Joseph dispatched a telegram to Rezooki Korkis in London setting aside 20£ for Alexander’s travel expenses on the condition that he replied with a departure date and itinerary. (24 August 1898, 61-63) Unfortunately, he departed Basra without a reply from Razkallah. (28 August 1898, 68) He arrived again at Baghdad on September 1st, where he received a telegram dated August 30th from Alexander stating that he would depart Paris and return to Baghdad by way of Marseilles, Port Said, and Alexandretta. At the same time, Joseph received a letter from Alexander all “about his love with this bloody girl and his wish of marying her and he is mad for her and ill from sorrow etc. etc.” Alexander even sent along a colored photograph of her to plead his case to his father. Joseph’s anger rose on reading Alexander’s telegram, because it meant that Alexander had taken the money he had advanced him and returned to Paris instead of coming back home. He confided to his diary: “So vexed and disappointed I became that I could not sleep a wink all the night and was mad from the sorrow.” He stayed in his serdab (cellar) of his home re-reading his son’s telegram until daybreak. (1 September 1898, 75-77)

Galled by his son’s bad behavior, Joseph tried to invent alternative means to get Alexander out of Paris. He made arrangements with his brother Alexander’s widow Blanche to take Alexander into her home in Istanbul, where he could wait until they could arrange employment with the Egyptian Public Debt administration as he had suggested back in January of that year (see Diary 47). (2 September 1898, 78) Later that day, however, Joseph’s anger at his son was compounded by a series of letters he received from his friend Mr. Böhm in Vienna, which detailed the depths of Alexander’s impropriety. Joseph wrote “[he] tells me of how that bitch of women came even to Vienna & lived with him as man & wife and it was very nearly that the Police authority were going to be informed & Alexander would have had 4 weeks imprisonment.” To make matters worse for Joseph’s perception of his son, Böhm forwarded all of his own correspondence with Alexander to Joseph. (2 September 1989, 78-80) The following morning, Joseph dispatched another telegram to Alexander and Ibrahim Gejou in Paris demanding that Alexander immediately depart Paris to meet his Aunt Blanche in Istanbul to begin working. (3 September 1898, 81)

Despite his familial turmoil, Joseph still managed to diligently record events ongoing in Baghdad. On September 2nd he noted that he called on Monseigneur Altmayer, the Archbishop of Baghdad, who was to leave soon for Mardin to attend conference of Assyrian Bishops tasked with electing a new bishop in the place of the late Hanna Boonnyi in Mosul. (2 September 1898, 80) On the 4th, Joseph and Eliza gathered at his brother Henry’s home for the betrothal of his niece Louisa to Yousif Yaghchi. Many luminaries of the European and Christian community in Baghdad turned out, including the German Consul Rosen and Archbishop Altmayer. The ceremony was read by Kass Phillippus the Armenian priest, and the gathered families and friends drunk sherbet in the courtyard of Henry’s home together. (4 September 1898, 81-2)

Immediately following the betrothal, the news once again turned sour. Joseph received another telegram from Rezooki Korkis dated the previous day stating that Alexander was in London asking for another 20£ sterling. Shortly afterwards, he received yet another telegram at his home, this one from Alexander in Paris, dated that morning. In answer to Joseph’s message of the previous morning, Alexander told his father that he would depart for Istanbul on September 7th. Joseph was skeptical but hoped his son would actually follow through this time. (4 September 1898, 84-5)

As summer dragged on, the low water persisted. The merchants of Baghdad were aware that the low depth of the river would affect shipping. Many of them requested that the company load their cargo on the 6th for fear that they would refuse it if they brought it to the dock the following day. The Lynches’ crew loaded what they could of the cargo, but Joseph wrote: “We do not want to load her deep as the state of the river is very bad.” (6 September 1898, 86-7) On the morning of the 7th, Joseph and Henry called on Monseigneur Altmayer to bid him goodbye. On his journey to Mardin, the archbishop was to travel through the desert in a Takhtarawan by Deir az-Zor. He would return to Baghdad by November 20. The same day, Joseph recorded the arrival of a new Müşir of the Ottoman 6th Army, Ahmed Feydi Pasha. The Pasha had formerly been the Vali of Yemen. (7 September 1898, 87-9)

Later on the morning of September 7th, just as he sat down for breakfast, Joseph was interrupted by the arrival of another telegram from his son, dated the 5th from Paris. Short and to the point, it read: “Can’t go to Constantinople Cause passport.” Once again, Joseph was enraged. He wrote in his diary. “This ungrateful son is giving me great trouble and behaving very badly, he is dodging with excuses & lies; but he does not know his bad consequence & ruin, he will get no more money from me.” Joseph’s brother Henry suggested that he wire Alexander to get him to return home by sea via Basra at once, but Joseph’s patience for his son seemingly ran out. Instead, he wrote in his diary “it is better to let him remain unanswered and no more money will he receive so that he will feel it and until he begins to starve.” Joseph departed for Basra the following morning without having responded to his son’s plea. (7 September 1898, 89-90)

Steaming south, the unusually low water of the Tigris exposed an episode from Joseph’s past. On the morning of the 9th, just as they passed Baghdadieh Fort, Joseph noted that the more of the wreckage of the Dijleh was visible above the water than had been for years. The second steamer that the Lynches launched, the Dijleh had sunk twenty-two years and a day earlier. Joseph recorded the disaster that befell the Dijleh in Diary 17. At 4:15 in the afternoon on September 8, 1876, the Dijleh was steaming down to Basra when it struck the wreck of a sailboat near Baghdadieh Fort. The impact tore a hole in the Port Quarter Bow and began flooding the hold. Joseph and the rest of the crew worked for more than eight hours to try to save her until engine room flooded. Ultimately they were forced to abandon ship. Later efforts to raise the Dijleh failed, and European travelers remarked that local Arabs believed that the sinking was a judgment from God. On this morning, Joseph recorded that he could see “the Paddle Boxes, the Boss, the Crank Engine, Cylinder and other parts of the Engine.” Above the surface of the water, a visible sand bar engulfed part of what was left of the unlucky Dijleh’s engine room, and showed just how far the level of the river had fallen that summer. (9 September 1898, 93)

The following evening, Joseph complained to his diary about the pain in his stomach, which had plagued him intermittently since as early as 1886 and had worsened as he grew older. “I am suffering awfully from the pain in my stomach, I have it the whole day, I am taking all I can, the sulphur and cream of Tartar; Bicarbonate of Soda Ruhbarb, fruit Salt, also Jeboory Asfar gave me a bottle of Apolinaris water but to no effect at all ~” (11 September 1898, 95)

On the afternoon of the 11th, they stopped to land a passenger at Ali Gherbi and found that there were many more passengers to pick up than they had expected. Joseph noted in his diary that Arabs of the Beni Lam tribe, under the orders of their Sheikh Ghadban son of Booneyeh son of Mezban, were plundering the road down to Amara. These Arab marauders had already taken several smaller boats, taking advantage of the weakness of the local government. The Mutserrif of Amara, Mostapha Pasha, had recently been dismissed and taken with him 20,000 Turkish Liras worth of ill-gotten gains from bribery and corruption. In his absence, Sheikh Ghadban took license to challenge the small military force left behind at Amara. (11 September 1898, 96-7) Two days later at Basra, Joseph recorded that the Lawrence, the Indian Marine Steamer from the British Residency at Bushire, had come to patrol the Shatt al-Arab between Basra and Fao at the head of the Persian Gulf. It was the middle of the date season, and with the weak protection afforded by the Ottoman authorities the British had dispatched the Lawrence and two other gunboats to protect their commercial interests from piracy. (13- 14 September 1898, 99-101)

After departing from Basra, the Blosse Lynch ran aground on a shoal just below the Devil’s Elbow on the morning of September 15. Joseph let loose with unreserved complaints about the state of the river: “The river is quite lost, all the war (sic) is taken away through so many canals from Amara and downward to irrigate the Sultan’s property all our complaints since 3 years and now renewed too is not listened to by the Turkish Government, the river is getting nearly dry and not navigable at all.” They remained detained there for the better part of the day before extricating themselves. The stress of the job continued to aggravate Joseph’s stomach pain. (15 September 1898, 102-3) That evening, while passing through Amara, Joseph and the crew heard news that the government had taken steps to raise the level of the river by closing some canals. Missat Effendi, chief Civil Engineer of the Vilayet of Basra, had been sent by the government upriver north of Amara to inspect and close some of the canals, based on widespread complaints that the river had become nearly unnavigable. While attempting to close a canal on the west bank of the Tigris at Btera, Missat Efendi and his team of a mason and four Ottoman zaptiyes were set upon by “the Arabs of Ezerij,” who robbed them and forced them to walk naked and barefoot back to Amara. The acting motserrif of Nasiriyah had the Sheikh of the Ezerij flogged and put in irons as punishment. (16 September 1898, 104-6)

At 7 pm on the night of the 18th, Joseph arrived back at his home in Baghdad to find Eliza with telegrams and letters from Alexander that had come in his absence. Alexander’s telegram was dated a week earlier, and he complained that he was embarrassed and unwell because Rezooky Korkis had refused him further payments. Joseph’s strategy to cut of his son seemed to be coming to fruition. But, as Joseph and Eliza discovered, Alexander was a clever young man who strove to fight his way out of the corner he had backed himself into. While Joseph was away, their friend Georgis Antone had brought Eliza a receipt from London from a month earlier showing that Alexander had somehow withdrawn the 30 Turkish Lira Joseph had set aside for him at the Mostapha Pasha Han in Istanbul back in July. Joseph wrote in his diary: “I was so enraged at what this scamp is doing; he is trying to get money from all ways and manners.” (18 September 1898, 111-2)

Exasperated by his son’s deception, Joseph returned the receipt to Georgis Antone the following day. Antone came to call on Joseph aboard the Blosse Lynch while she was docked in Baghdad, and the two had a “great discussion about it.” Antone’s agent in London had paid out this advance 30 Lira to Alexander, and Joseph argued with his friend that the agent had no right to do so. The letter he had sent to Alexander explicitly stated that he must present it in person in Istanbul to be paid. At noon, Joseph drew up a telegram to Alexander informing him that he would absolutely refuse to advance more money unless he departed Marseilles by the steamer Cogent on the September 22nd. He paid for the passage and demanded a prompt response from Alexander on his departure. (19 September 1898, 112-4)

And yet, Alexander somehow still found ways to aggravate his father. Just as Joseph was dispatching his telegrams arranging for Alexander’s passage on the Cogent, his brother-in-law Antone Marine paid him a visit with another telegram from Alexander in hand. This time, Alexander pled with his uncle and told him that he was seriously ill and needed aid immediately. Joseph furiously scrawled in his diary: “He is want of nothing else but money & refuses to move out of Paris & is trying all sorts and dodges to get money, my resources are exhausted and I am getting sick and disgusted of his behavior and his contanerous (sic) way; I have lost all love & confidence on this boy, he is becoming stupid & has lost his heart through his love with this French girl; My wife always weeping & does not know what to do.” (19 September 1898, 114-5)

Consulting with his wife’s brothers and some of his nephews, Joseph resolved agreed that they could send one more small sum to Alexander to cover his travel expenses to Marseilles. But, they proposed a ruse. It would be signed by Antone Marine, and read as if Eliza had been persuaded to send her son one last small sum. The telegram also said that Eliza was going to meet him at Basreh, and perhaps in a bid to gain some sympathy from the boy, the telegram said that Joseph had fallen ill. (19-20 September 1898, 112-7) On the morning of the 22nd, Joseph once again departed for Basra. This time he went with his wife Eliza in tow, so that she could escape the late summer Baghdad heat, and be in Basra when Alexander arrived aboard the Cogent. (22 September 1898, 120)

At Basra, Joseph noted that Mr. Hamilton, one of the English merchants in Iraq that competed with the Lynch Company, wed in England the previous year and returned to Turkish Arabia to join the firm of Hotz and Co. as a partner. The new firm went under the name Hotz, Hamilton, and Co. (26 September 1898, 127) There, during the few days of downtime between journeys, Joseph was also surprised to find no telegram from Alexander. Jeboory Asfar told him that there had been a telegram from Marseilles stating that the steamer Cogent had left on the 21st. Joseph suspected that his son had not been able to make it to Marseilles from Paris in such a short time. (26-7 September 1898, 127- 8) While at Basra, Joseph recorded the Indian Marine steamer Lawrence had been joined by two men-of-war, the Sphinx and the Lapwing, to patrol the Shatt al-Arab between Basra and Fao to suppress piracy. (27 September 1898, 129-30)

Upon returning to Baghdad aboard the Mejidieh, Joseph found two letters at his home from Alexander, both of which had been opened when they were delivered to his home. He suspected that Alexander’s friend Antone Julietti was to blame. Julietti’s father was the Inspector of Post and Telegraph in Baghdad, and Joseph thought that the Turkish employees of the post office might do anything for Antone for the sake of his father. Joseph called on Antone Julietti, who expressed “utter ignorance of the affair.” Joseph warned him that he would complain to the consul over the matter. (2 October 1898, 141- 2)

On October 5th, while breakfasting at home, Joseph received a telegram from Alexander dated the previous day. Once again Alexander had found a reason not to leave Paris. This time, he claimed that he was extremely ill and needed to stay in the hospital. Joseph wrote in his diary: “I got so sorry and disgusted of these telegrams and always he his trying to stop his departure and make some excuses, I could not eat my breakfast at all.” Joseph conferred with the Carmelite Father Emmanuel about enlisting the assistance of Father Pierre, who was due to return to Baghdad from Paris soon. They dispatched a telegram to Father Pierre asking him to accompany Alexander back to Baghdad, and one to Alexander demanding that he go with the priest. (5 October 1898, 145-6)

When Joseph related the latest news from Alexander to Eliza in Basra, she wanted to go to Paris herself to retrieve him. Instead, they sent a telegram to Ibrahim Gejou in Paris asking him to ascertain the nature of Alexander’s illness. If Alexander was playing sick as they suspected, they implored Ibrahim to stick him on board the Arabistan with Father Pierre for departure on the 30th of October. (10 October 1898, 154-157) Upon returning to Baghdad from this journey, Joseph’s servant Meekha informed him that the postman H. Mohamed was holding a letter from Alexander. He would not deliver them to anyone but Joseph on account of his previous mail arriving opened. In it, Alexander complained that he was tremendously ill and could not travel home because Rezooki Korkis had stopped advancing him money. Joseph made up a reply but could not send it for several days, because the telegraph line had been cut somewhere between Baghdad and Istanbul. (14-15 October 1898, 163-167)

Joseph attempted to send some telegrams to Paris on October 18th, but the line was still out and they were held for the following day. On October 19th, Joseph’s 58th birthday, the Telegraph Office finally repaired the line and dispatched his messages to Alexander and Father Pierre in Paris, begging them to leave Marseilles for Basra aboard the Arabistan on October 30th. Joseph hoped that his telegrams would arrive in time for them to make this passage. That afternoon, both father Pierre and Alexander sent their replies. The priest wrote that he would try to get Alexander to accompany him. Alexander wrote that he needed money to treat his illness and asked his father to wire him more funds through the Ottoman Bank. Wise to his son’s tricks, Joseph wired the money to Paris under Father Pierre’s name, hoping that the priest could exercise his judgment and determine whether or not Alexander was telling the truth about his illness. Meanwhile, Joseph received a package of letters from Rezooki Korkis in London that had been postmarked weeks earlier, confirming his fears about his son’s extravagant spending. (19 October 1898, 172-6)

Several days later, at Amara on a journey south, Joseph received a nearly incomprehensible telegram from Alexander. It read:

“unreplieu imploring
live persisting causes
dispair certainly leave
when health permets"

Joseph was unsure what to make of it—whether it was in reply to his message of the 18th or if it was an unrelated matter. (23 October 1898, 184) On arriving at Basra, Joseph found that Alexander had sent another telegram to his half-brother Rufail Sayegh, claiming that he was “pennyless.” Alexander and Eliza drew up a telegram in Rufail’s name which read: “Parents absolutely refuse remittance, unless accompanying Pièrre, otherwise unless telegraphing.” Hearing that the Arabistan might be delayed by a week leaving Marseilles, Joseph made arrangements for Alexander to take any departing steamer, so long as he did it soon. (24-25 October 1898, 186-8)

Returning from Basra, Joseph recorded in his diary that Ghadban, the renegade Sheikh of the Beni Laam, was still at large. Rumor had it that he had gone beyond Howeiza, the expansive marsh separating Turkish Arabia from Persia. Joseph lamented that the local Turkish authorities were too weak to effectively pursue him and demand compensation for his tribe’s plundering. Furthermore, any action that the local government could take against him had to wait for authorization from Istanbul, meaning that the situation grew worse and worse with each passing day. Joseph recorded in his diary: “the traffic on the river, between Amara and Coot is unsafe, Boats are getting plundered by other tribes in the name of the Bani Laam tribe." (26 October 1898, 190-1)

On arriving back at Baghdad again, Joseph complained bitterly about his health. He was wracked with diarrhea and in his stomach and had pain deep inside his bones from an ongoing cold. At home, he read a letter from Alexander dated October 7th, but his spirits were lifted by the arrival of a telegram from Father Pierre in Paris. The Priest had written to let him know that he would be leaving France with Alexander in November. Despite this good news, Joseph was too weak to leave home, and took a cholera mixture prepared by Mr. Grzeski to ease his diarrhea. (29 October 1898, 195-6) Days later, at Coot on the way to Basra, Joseph received a telegram from his wife informing him that the Arabistan had already left Marseilles on the 29th of October, meaning that Alexander and Father Pierre were likely not aboard it. (4 November 1898, 205)

Even as autumn progressed, the Lynch company remained gravely concerned by the state of the river. On November 6, Joseph noted that they picked up an unnamed Arab in the employ of the Lynches at Amara. The company had tasked him with inspecting the canals that the Missat Efendi, the chief engineer of Basra, was supposed to have closed in mid-September. Closing off some of these canals, which where drawing water away from the river, would make navigation and food distribution much easier. However, the Lynches’ Arab agent reported that the local government had done nothing for fear of upsetting the already restive Arab population. Joseph castigated the Ottoman authorities for their inaction in his diary: “The Government do not enforce them for their benefit in the time being, but the fools do not see that they are cutting their own throats for in a short time the river will be ruined and the navigation and traffic stopped and the whole country will starve.” (6 November 1898, 207)

Throughout autumn 1898, Joseph continued to receive letters and telegrams from his son. Each correspondence from Alexander continued with the same list of complaints—he was want of money, he was in ill health, and promised to leave as soon as possible. Yet, along side these letters Joseph received others from his friends in Paris and Vienna which belied his son’s inability to return home. In November, after Yousif Serpos in Alexandria wrote to inquire about Alexander, and all Joseph could do was to confide to his diary: “I do not know what to do, I am utterly disappointed and getting mad, and what am I to do with my son; I am so weak and unwell from the grief and sorrow.” Father Pierre wrote from Paris that, though Alexander did seem fatigued and unwell, he did not want to leave France. The priest resolved to continue prodding at Alexander, in the hopes of convincing him to leave by the end of November. Meanwhile, Alexander appealed to his friend Antoine Julietti to speak to his father on his behalf, begging him to wire money back to Paris. Joseph told Julietti to send the same reply that he himself had been sending: He would send Alexander money only on the condition that he agreed to return to Baghdad with Father Pierre. (12-13 November 1898, 217-22)

The morning of the 14th, Joseph received yet another telegram from Alexander. This time, Alexander requested 350 francs so that he could pay his debts in Paris before leaving France. His telegram implied that his father should wire the money directly to him because Father Pierre was absent from Paris. Joseph suspected that this might be another of Alexander’s ploys to extort money from him. Instead, he telegraphed Father Ferdinand at the local Carmelite order in Paris and requested that he have Father Pierre pay Alexander’s debts on his behalf. (14 November 1898, 222-3) The following day, Antoine Julietti received another telegram from Alexander promising that he would return soon, but Joseph expressed skepticism because he once again did not commit to a firm departure date. (15 November 1898, 225)

On the morning of November 17th, Antoine Julietti came to Joseph with yet another telegram from Alexander in which he promised that he would accompany Father Pierre back to Baghdad from Paris. An hour later, two more telegrams came to Joseph’s home. The first was from Father Ferdinand, replying that Father Pierre was in Paris making arrangements to return with Alexander via Beirut in December, meaning that they would leave France together no later than the 30th. The second was from Ibrahim Gejou, stating that he had just returned from America on the previous day, and knew nothing of Alexander’s alleged illness. Joseph found this series of telegrams confusing— he didn’t know whom to believe, and could tell whether or not Father Pierre was actually in Paris with Alexander. However, eager to absolve his son’s debts for the sake of getting him home, Joseph went to Ibrahim Gejou’s brother Elias and had him wire the rest of what Alexander owed. He departed once again for Basra on the 18th, hoping that Alexander would finally come to his senses and return home to Baghdad. (17-18 November, 228-32)

At Basra on November 22nd, Eliza wanted to return to Baghdad to escape the damp autumn weather. With no word yet confirming Alexander’s departure, Joseph told her to remain there. The SS Parran was to have left London on the 20th. It was already on its way to Marseilles, where Joseph hoped Alexander would board it for home. So, Eliza stayed in Basra, waiting for her son as Joseph returned once again to Baghdad. (22 November 1898, 239-40) While returning to Baghdad, Joseph noted in his diary that the marauding Sheikh Ghadban of the Beni Lam had returned from hiding in the Howeiza marsh. He was encamped outside Amara, and was preparing to enter the city to repay part of his debts. (23 November 1898, 242)

When Joseph arrived back at Baghdad on the 26th he noted that Mr. Richarz, the new German Consul, had arrived back in Baghdad and was settling into his house. At home, there were no letters or telegrams from Alexander, but Joseph’s nephew Johny brought him a post-card from Alexander that had arrived in his absence, dated October 27th. All that it said was that Alexander planned to leave with Father Pierre on November 15th. However, the arrival of this postcard simply attested to the variable speeds with which correspondence could travel in the late 19th century. Days earlier, Joseph had already received a jumbled mess of telegrams from several people which implied that Pierre and Alexander would not leave until December at the earliest. Though he did not address it directly in this entry, receiving such a post card could only have added to his confusion, anger, and heartache at his son’s present behavior a continent away. (26 November 1898, 245) He remained in Baghdad for several days, but still did not receive any news of whether or not Alexander and Father Pierre had left Marseille aboard the Baluchistan. (29 November 1898, 248)

On a passage to Basra in early December 1898, the Blosse Lynch was carrying a number of important passengers. These included the archaeologist and Dominican priest Father Scheil, who had previously excavated Tell Abu Habbah (the ancient site of Sippar) for the Turkish government. Father Scheil was now bound for the site of Shushter (ancient Susa) in Persia to assist with a French archaeological expedition. Other notable passengers on this trip included Jacques de Morgan, the former director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and a friend of Joseph’s late brother Sandor. (2 December 1898, 251-2) When Joseph arrived at Basra, there was still no word if Alexander had departed Marseilles with Father Pierre. Joseph’s friend Jeboory Asfar promised to contact Mr. Saunièr in Marseilles to find out, and relay the message back to Joseph at Baghdad. (7 December 1898, 258)

The return trip to Baghdad was uneventful, but when Joseph arrived home he found only bad news waiting for him. His servant Meekha delivered a letter from Alexander dated November 11th. The letter repeated many of the things that Alexander had sent in telegrams. He was ill, he would accompany Father Pierre to Marseilles when he was well again, and so forth. Joseph doubted his son, but set about tidying his house to prepare for the arrival of company. However, at 9 am the postman arrived with a large package with explicit instructions in both French and Arabic that it was to be delivered to no one but Joseph himself. In it, Alexander had sent a lengthy letter of four sheets. “A most fearful one,” the letter confirmed all of Joseph’s worst fears: “He complains of himself and confesses of all that I have written to him to be true and that he has betrayed me, and he is mad and has lost his sense and so on and does not say a word about his leaving, I was so awfully struck down from sorrow and grief that I felt unable to walk or do anything I was trembling and weeping, my knees got shaky and powerless, I became miserable.” To make matters worse, Father Emmanuel came to call on Joseph with a message from Father Pierre. The message was dated November 7th, and said that Alexander had gone to Father Pierre to bid him farewell, telling him that he was to leave Marseilles for Beirut in order to make it home by Christmas. Father Pierre paid Alexander 250 francs for his travel expenses and let him go on his way. Joseph was furious. His son had played the priest for a fool and wrung 450 francs out of him in all. Worse yet, Alexander had ended his letter threatening suicide if his family did not continue to support him. “I passed a most miserable time in my house.” His relations came to call on him later that day, but could do nothing but express their astonishment at Alexander’s behavior. (10 December 1898, 266)

The following morning, Joseph was distraught. He spent most of the day out of the house to keep his spirits up and his mind off his son. He breakfasted with his sister Medula, and tried to call on the Bishop Aghnatius and his sister-in-law Menusha. Remembering that he had advance money to Ibrahim Gejou on Alexander’s behalf a month earlier, he went to telegram Ibrahim with explicit instructions not to release the money to Alexander. His sisters Eliza and Emilia were preparing for Eliza’s daughter Regina’s upcoming marriage to the clerk of the Comet. In the afternoon, he called on the French consul M. Rouet and hatched a plan to have the Austrian ambassador in Paris send Alexander home on the grounds that he was a misbehaving minor. However, they would have to involve the German consul Mr. Richarz, and go through the nearest Austrian consul in Beirut. (11 December 1898, 267-9)

The morning of the December 12, Joseph attended his niece Regina’s wedding. Monseigneur Altmayer, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Baghdad, performed the ceremony at the chapel in his home. The British Consul Major Melville made out the certificates of marriage, and the guests retired to a party at the home of Joseph’s sister Eliza. The occasion was not a happy one for Joseph though. After a few hours he slipped away to telegram his wife Eliza, telling her to come home because Alexander was not coming. Joseph returned to the celebration at his sister’s home, but he could not keep himself from breaking down from sorrow even in front of his friends and relations. He confided in his diary that he would not have even attended, except for the sake of his sister Eliza. After a few more hours of half-hearted merry-making, he slipped away from the wedding celebration once again. Later, Mr. Richarz, the German Consul, called on Joseph at his home. In conversing with Richarz, they agreed that they should take action to have Alexander sent home by force. (12 December 1898, 270-273)

On the morning of the 13th, Joseph went to call on Mr. Richarz. There, they hatched a plan to have Alexander returned to Baghdad under official Austrian authority. Joseph gave all the details about Alexander’s affair that he could to the consul. And for the first time, Joseph wrote some of these details in his Diary. Alexander’s mistress’s name was Marie Marguerite Derisbourg. They had met in Paris, and she had gone with him to Vienna before they both returned to Paris together. For all he knew, they were still in Paris together. Joseph begged the Austrian consul to have Alexander sent back under Austrian surveillance aboard a steamer of the Anglo-Arabian and Persian line. They could make arrangements through the company’s agent Mr. Saunier at Marseilles for Alexander to be placed in the charge of the steamer captain for the duration of the journey to Basra. Once again, Joseph committed himself to paying all of Alexander’s travel expenses, just for the sake of getting him home. (13 December 1898, 274-5)

The following morning, Mr. Richarz and his assistant copied out Joseph’s letter very carefully, and sent it as an official request to the Austrian consul in Beirut through the Damascus mail. Joseph then went to call on Archbishop Altmayer and tell him of how Father Pierre had let him down. He asked for the Archbishop’s help in getting Cardinal Richarz in Paris involved to make sure Alexander was “liberated from this bitch of a girl to whom he is in love.” Though Alexander had written months earlier that Marie was the daughter of a respectable Parisian family, Joseph told the archbishop that she was “an illegitimate Belgian woman from the Streets.” Altmayer promised to be what help he could. (14 December 1898, 277-9)

The Carmelite Father Emmanuel brought Joseph a letter from Father Pierre. Father Pierre explained that he had thought Alexander had been honest and left Paris in early November, but he ended up acquiescing to Alexander’s requests for more money. Joseph was predictably upset, and felt he had no obligation to pay these expenses because he had given Pierre explicit instructions. He was disappointed that all his efforts with Pierre had proven fruitless. However, Joseph still sought to have the father’s help in getting his son home. (15 December 1898, 281-4)

On December 16th, Joseph departed Baghdad for Basra. With the water level still low, the Blosse Lynch’s starboard wheel touched against the Tigris’s west bank. The wheel itself was damaged, forcing the crew to drop anchor just downriver of the village of Swera to make repairs. The remained anchored there, with the ship’s engineers working overnight to repair the wheel. Joseph lamented the delay, for it meant that they would not make it back to Baghdad in time for Christmas. When they finally arrived at Basra, Joseph met Eliza and found that she had never received his telegram explaining that Alexander was not coming. He had the unhappy duty of relating his son’s misdeeds to his wife. She made up her mind to escape the wet wintry misery of Basra and return to Baghdad with Joseph. (16-20 December 1898, 286-91)

Back in Baghdad at midday on Christmas, Joseph received a telegram from Father Pierre in Paris dated December 22nd telling him that he had given Alexander some money in order for him to depart to Istanbul. Joseph could not believe. Time and time again it seemed that Alexander had been able to play Father Pierre for a fool and extract money from him by promising to depart for Baghdad. (25 December 1898, 302-3)

Meanwhile, Joseph notes that there had been a minor outbreak of small-pox in Baghdad and the surrounding districts. His nephew Edward Blockey, the German Consul Mr. Richarz, and Father Marie Joseph were stricken with it, but they had all partially or fully recovered. This outbreak was particularly bad amongst the old and within the Jewish community. (26 December 1898, 304) As the winter dragged on and December turned to January, temperatures around Baghdad dipped into the low 30s Fahrenheit. Frost blanketed the banks of the Tigris when Joseph steamed south to Basra. (30 December 1898-2 January 1899, 310-313)

A few days into the new year, just above Maghil near the Tigris’ confluence with the Euphrates, the Blosse Lynch passed a boat that had recently sunk. It had been loaded with cases of paraffin wax, which had come loose from the deck and were floating down the river. The crew of the Blosse Lynch sent their steam launch to rescue some of the wayward wax and other cargo from the stricken vessel. They took it aboard and found the boat had belonged to their competitors at Hotz and Company, another Basra-based European merchant house. (3 January 1899, 313-4) Returning from Basra, Joseph noted in his diary that the Blosse Lynch’s 3rd mate Mr. Holdway had “taken to his usual yearly fits of drinking to excess.” Holdway had spent Christmas on shore in Baghdad with his brother-in-law, and came back so impaired that he shut himself up in his cabin and was unable to take his watch. (4 January 1899, 317)

In mid-January, Joseph received more bad news from France. While the Blosse Lynch was docked at Baghdad, Father Emmanuel came aboard and delivered a letter to Joseph. Father Pierre had written on December 27th that he had advanced Alexander 350 francs more in order to cover his expenses to travel home via Istanbul. Shortly thereafter, Pierre had left France aboard the Turkistan, without Alexander in tow. Joseph was furious that Pierre had once again given Alexander money to continue wasting in Paris, but Eliza held out home that maybe Alexander had come to his senses and gone to Istanbul. (23 January 1899, 342-3)

At Eliza's request, Joseph drew up a telegram to Yousif and Nejib Chiha in Istanbul to figure out whether or not Alexander was actually there. However, his servant Haji Hammadi returned from the telegraph office with his message unsent. Instead, he brought with him a message from Istanbul. Dated January 24 at 4:45 am, Alexander had written that he was in Pera and would be in Port Said on the 28th. All he needed was 700 francs to make the journey home by the desert. Joseph wrote: “We could hardly believe it, my wife was weeping from the rejoice she felt, and also myself.” (25 January 1899, 344-6)

However, they proceeded cautiously on this news. After all, Alexander had deftly preyed upon their optimism more than once before. Their friends and family about Baghdad were equally skeptical. Eliza insisted that Joseph still telegraph the Chiha brothers in Istanbul to enquire if Alexander was actually as good as his word. Joseph sent off the message before boarding the Blosse Lynch to go to Basra. (26-7 January 1899, 347-50) At Amara on the journey home, Joseph received a telegram from Eliza. The Chihas had answered their inquiry and replied that Alexander probably was in Istanbul. It wasn’t yet confirmed, but Joseph hoped that Alexander was now on his way from Istanbul to Port Said. (1 February 1899, 359) However, two weeks dragged on without word from Alexander. Eliza and Joseph both had difficulty sleeping. The stress of his son’s ongoing saga took its toll on Joseph’s health. At Basra, he confessed to Rufail Sayegh his desire to resign from the Lynch company. However, Rufail advised him to wait, and push through as much as he could. (14 February 1899, 379-80)

When Joseph arrived back in Baghdad on February 18th, he found Eliza at home “much grieved and unwell on account of Alexander’s news.” In Joseph’s absence, she had received a letter from him dated January 19th, sent from Paris. In it, he repeated the same story, complaining about his misery, of his desire to marry Marie Derisbourg, and his want for money and so forth. He once again threatened to kill himself. Evidently, the telegram from Istanbul had been a ruse. Alexander couldn’t possibly have mailed a letter from Paris on the 19th and made it to Istanbul by the 24th. Worse yet, another letter from Father Pierre had arrived dated January 21st, telling him that Alexander had been in Zurich! Much to Joseph’s vexation, Father Pierre had wired Alexander another 250 francs, bringing the total up to 1,350. (18 February 1899, 385-6) Joseph and Eliza seemed to be at their wit’s end. Eliza, evidently, suggested that she go to Paris by herself to retrieve their wayward son. Joseph discussed the matter with her brother Antone in Basra, and his step-son Rufail. Neither of them seemed inclined to accompany her to Europe. Joseph admonished them in his diary for their unwillingness to help. (26 February 1899, 396-7) Diary 48 ends at the end of February 1899, with Joseph angry and Alexander’s situation still very much unresolved.