Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carlyle, Joseph Dacre

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CARLYLE, JOSEPH DACRE (1759–1804), Arabic scholar, born in 1759 at Carlisle, where his father practised as a physician, was educated at the Carlisle grammar school, and was then entered at Christ's College, Cambridge, whence he presently removed to Queens', proceeded B.A. in 1779, and was elected a fellow of Queens', took his M.A. degree in 1783, and B.D. in 1793. During his residence at Cambridge he profited by the instructions of a native of Bagdad, whose europeanised name was David Zamio, and became so proficient in oriental languages that he was appointed professor of Arabic on the resignation of Dr. Craven in 1795. In the meantime he had obtained some church preferment at Carlisle, and had succeeded Paley in 1793 as chancellor of that city. In 1792 he published in 4to the ‘Rerum Ægyptiacarum Annales,’ translated from the Arabic of Yûsuf ibn Taghrî Birdî, a meagre work of slight historical value; and in 1796, also 4to, ‘Specimens of Arabian Poetry’ (with some account of the authors selected), translations in which a certain elegance of diction is more striking than the fidelity to the spirit and colour of the originals. In 1799 he was appointed chaplain to Lord Elgin's mission to Constantinople, with the special duties of learned referee; and he made a tour through Asia Minor, Palestine, Greece, and Italy, collecting Greek and Syriac manuscripts for a proposed new version of the New Testament, which unfortunately he did not live to accomplish. Returning to England in September 1801, he was presented to the living of Newcastle-on-Tyne; but his health had been seriously impaired by the fatigues of travel, and he also suffered from a special and painful malady, to which he succumbed on 12 April 1804. His ‘Poems suggested chiefly by Scenes in Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece,’ together with some translations from the Arabic, were published after his death, 1805, 4to, with extracts from his journal and a preface by his sister. He had also almost completed an account of his tour through the Troad, which was never published, and had advanced so far in his Arabic Bible, revised from Walton's text, that it was issued at Newcastle, edited by H. Ford, professor of Arabic at Oxford, in 1811.

[Gent. Mag. 1804, p. 390; Miss Carlyle's Preface to the Specimens of Arabic Poetry.]

S. L-P.