Dallas, Robert Charles (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 13
Dallas, Robert Charles

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DALLAS, ROBERT CHARLES (1754–1824), miscellaneous writer, was born in 1754 at Kingston, Jamaica, where his father, Robert Dallas, M.D., of Dallas Castle, Jamaica, was a physician; his mother was a daughter of Colonel Cormack. He was educated at Musselburgh, N.B., and under James Elphinston at Kensington. He entered the Inner Temple, but on coming of age went to Jamaica to take possession of the estates which he had inherited upon his father's death. He was there appointed to ‘a lucrative office.’ After three years he visited England and married Sarah, daughter of Thomas Harding of Nelmes, Essex. He returned with his wife to Jamaica, but resigned his office and left the island upon finding that her health was injured by the climate. He lived on the continent, till upon the outbreak of the French revolution he emigrated to America. He was disappointed in the country and returned to Europe. He became an industrious author, but is chiefly remembered by his connection with Byron. His sister, Henrietta Charlotte, was married to George Anson Byron, uncle of Lord Byron. Dallas introduced himself to Byron by a complimentary letter upon the publication of the ‘Hours of Idleness.’ Dallas saw something of Byron after the poet's return from the East, gave him literary advice, and communicated for him with publishers. Byron presented him with the sums received for ‘Childe Harold’ and the ‘Corsair.’ Some letters addressed by Byron to his mother during his eastern travels were given to Dallas by Byron. Dallas, on the strength of these and other communications, prepared an account of Byron from 1808 to 1814. He proposed to publish this upon Byron's death; but Hobhouse and Hanson, as the poet's executors, obtained an injunction from Lord Eldon against the publication of the letters. Dallas died immediately afterwards, 20 Nov. 1824, at Ste.-Adresse in Normandy. He was buried at Havre in presence ‘of the British consul and many of the respectable inhabitants.’ The book upon Byron came out simultaneously, edited by his son, A. R. C. Dallas [q. v.], as ‘Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron from the year 1808 to the end of 1814.’ An account of the disputes about the publication is prefixed.

Dallas also published: 1. ‘Miscellaneous Writings, consisting of Poems; Lucretia, a Tragedy; and Moral Essays, with a Vocabulary of the Passions,’ 1797, 4to. 2. ‘Percival, or Nature Vindicated,’ 4 vols. 1801 (novel). 3. ‘Elements of Self-Knowledge’ (compiled and partly written by Dallas), 1802. 4. ‘History of the Maroons, from their Origin to their Establishment in Sierra Leone,’ 2 vols. 1803 (‘much esteemed’). 5. ‘Aubrey,’ 4 vols. 1804 (novel). 6. ‘The Marlands, Tales illustrative of the Simple and Surprising,’ 4 vols. 1805. 7. ‘The Knights, Tales illustrative of the Marvellous,’ 3 vols. 1808. 8. ‘Not at Home, a Dramatic Entertainment,’ 1809. 9. ‘The New Conspiracy against the Jesuits detected,’ 1815 (in French, 1816). 10. ‘Letter to C. Butler relative to the New Conspiracy,’ &c., 1817. 11. ‘Sir Francis Darrell, or the Vortex,’ 4 vols. 1820 (novel). 12. ‘Adrastus, a Tragedy; Amabel, or the Cornish Lovers; and other Poems,’ 1823. His ‘Miscellaneous Works and Novels,’ in 7 vols., were published in 1813.

[Gent. Mag. for 1824, ii. 642, 643; Moore's Life of Byron.]