Dallas, George (1758-1833) (DNB00)

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DALLAS, Sir GEORGE (1758–1833), political writer, was the younger son of Robert Dallas of Cooper's Court, St. Michael's, Cornhill, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. James Smith, minister of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire. He was born in London on 6 April 1758, and was educated with his brother Robert [q. v.] at Geneva. At the age of eighteen he went out to Bengal as a writer in the East India Company's service, and soon after his arrival published at Calcutta a clever poem, entitled ‘The India Guide,’ wherein he described the incidents of a voyage to India, and the first impressions on the mind of a European of Indian life. It was dedicated to Anstie, the author of the ‘Bath Guide,’ and is said to have been the first publication which was issued from the Indian press. The attention of Warren Hastings having been attracted to his abilities, Dallas was appointed superintendent of the collections at Rajeshahi. After filling this post for a few years, he was compelled by failing health to resign. Before leaving India he spoke at the meeting held at Calcutta on 25 July 1785 against Pitt's East India Bill (The whole Proceedings of the Meeting held at the Theatre in Calcutta, &c., 1786? pp. 15–46), and was deputed by the inhabitants of that city to present a petition on their behalf to the House of Commons against the bill. During his residence in Bengal he acquired an extensive knowledge of Indian affairs, and the suave and sagacious manner in which he exercised his functions procured him the respect of the natives and Europeans alike. Not long after his return to England on 11 June 1788, he married Catherine Margaret, fourth daughter of Sir John Blackwood, bart., by his wife Dorcas, afterwards Baroness Dufferin and Clandeboye. In 1789 Dallas published a pamphlet in vindication of Warren Hastings, and in 1793 his ‘Thoughts upon our Present Situation, with remarks upon the Policy of a War with France.’ This pamphlet, which was directed against the principles of the French revolution, went through several editions, and at Pitt's suggestion was reprinted for general distribution.

In 1797, while on a visit to a relative in the north of Ireland, Dallas wrote several tracts, addressed to the inhabitants of Ulster, the first of which was entitled ‘Observations upon the Oath of Allegiance, as prescribed by the Enrolling Act.’ This was followed by a ‘Letter from a Father to his Son, a United Irishman,’ in which he argued with great force against unlawful confederacies in general. At the close of the same year his three ‘Letters to Lord Moira on the Political and Commercial State of Ireland’ appeared in the third, fourth, and fifth numbers of the ‘Anti-Jacobin,’ under the signature of ‘Civis.’ These letters were afterwards republished at Pitt's request in a separate form. In 1798 he issued an ‘Address to the People of Ireland on the Present Situation of Public Affairs.’ On 31 July in the same year he was created a baronet. In 1799 he published ‘Considerations on the Impolicy of treating for Peace with the present Regicide Government of France.’ At a bye election in May 1800 he was returned to the House of Commons as the member for Newport in the Isle of Wight. His speech in defence of the treaty of El Arish is said to have made a great impression on the house, but there is no report of it in the ‘Parliamentary History.’

While in parliament Dallas published a ‘Letter to Sir William Pulteney, Bart., member for Shrewsbury, on the subject of the Trade between India and Europe.’ In this letter, consisting of a hundred quarto pages, he advocated the cause of the free merchants, and recommended a more liberal system of commercial intercourse between this country and its Asiatic dependencies. He retired from parliamentary life at the dissolution in June 1802, and resided for some years in Devonshire for the benefit of his health. In 1806 he published his ‘Vindication of the Justice and Policy of the late Wars carried on in Hindostan and the Dekkan by Marquis Wellesley,’ and in 1813 he wrote an anonymous tract on the religious conversion of the Hindoos, under the title of ‘A Letter from a Field Officer at Madras.’ His last work was the ‘Biographical Memoir of the late Sir Peter Parker, Bart., Captain of H.M. ship Menelaus,’ &c., which was published anonymously in 1815. Dallas frequently took part in the debates at the India House, where, owing to his intimate acquaintance with Eastern affairs, his opinion had great influence. His writings are chiefly distinguished by their elegance of style and ease of expression. He died at Brighton on 14 Jan. 1833, in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and was buried in St. Andrew's Church, Waterloo Street, where there is a monument to his memory. His wife survived him many years, and died at Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, on 5 April 1846. There were seven children by his marriage, viz. four sons and three daughters. The youngest son, Robert Charles Dallas, who succeeded him in the baronetcy, was a boy of considerable promise. His ‘Ode to the Duke of Wellington and other poems … written between the ages of eleven and thirteen,’ were published in 1819. His eldest son, Sir George Edward Dallas, is the present baronet.

[Annual Biography and Obituary (1834), xviii. 30–40; Gent. Mag. (1833), ciii. pt. i. 270–1; Annual Register (1833), App. to chron. p. 198; Burke's Peerage, &c. (1886), pp. 370–1; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. ii. 187, 435; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. p. 206; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors (1816), pp. 84–5; Watt's Bibl. Brit. (1824); Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.