Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/44

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Dickons to sing with her at Paris, but the English soprano had no success there, and went on to Italy, where she was more appreciated. At Venice she was elected an honorary member of the Instituto Filarmonico. She was engaged to sing with Velluti, but the death of a near relation recalled her to England, where she reappeared at Covent Garden on 13 Oct. 1818 as Rosina in Bishop's perversion of Rossini's ‘Barbiere di Siviglia.’ She also sang the Countess in a similar version of the ‘Nozze di Figaro’ on 6 March 1819, in which her success was brilliant. About 1820 she retired from the profession. The reason of her taking this step is said by some to have been ill-health, and by others a bequest which rendered her independent. She is said to have suffered from cancer, and latterly from paralysis. She died at her house in Regent Street, 4 May 1833. Not many detailed accounts of Mrs. Dickons's singing are extant, but her voice seems to have been ‘powerful and mellifluous,’ and she possessed ‘a sensible and impressive intonation and a highly polished taste.’ Another account says that when she sang sacred music ‘religion seemed to breathe from every note.’ The following portraits of her were engraved: 1. Full face, painted by Miss E. Smith, engraved by Woodman, junior, and published 1 May 1808. 2. Profile to the right, engraved by Freeman, and published 1 July 1808. 3. Full face, holding a piece of music, engraved by M. A. Bourlier, and published 1 July 1812. 4. Full face, holding up the first finger of her left hand, painted by Bradley, engraved by Penry, and published 1 May 1819. Mathews's theatrical gallery in the Garrick Club also contains a portrait. Her mother died at Newington in March 1807, and her father at Islington 17 Jan. 1812.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, i.; Fétis's Biographie des Musiciens, iii. 16; Genest's Hist. of the Stage, viii. 696; Pohl's Mozart und Haydn in London, i. 148; Busby's Anecdotes, iii. 21; Parke's Musical Memoirs, i. 136; Quarterly Musical Review, i. 62, 403, 406; Gent. Mag. for 1807, p. 283, 1812, p. 93, 1833, p. 649; Georgian Era, iv. 302; playbills and prints in Brit. Mus.]

W. B. S.

DICKSON, ADAM (1721–1776), writer on agriculture, son of the Rev. Andrew Dickson, minister of Aberlady, East Lothian, was born in 1721 at Aberlady, and studied at Edinburgh University, where he took the degree of M.A. From boyhood he had been destined by his father for the ministry, and was in due time appointed minister of Dunse in Berwickshire in 1750, after a long lawsuit on the subject of the presentation. He soon lived down the opposition of a party which this raised in his parish. After residing twenty years at Dunse, he was transferred in 1769 to Whittinghame in East Lothian, and died there seven years after in consequence of a fall from his horse on returning from Innerwick. He married, 3 April 1742, Anne Haldane. One of his two daughters gave a short biography of her father to the editor to be prefixed to his chief work, ‘The Husbandry of the Ancients.’ He had also a son, William. Dickson was a man of quick apprehension and sound judgment. He died universally regretted, not merely as a clergyman and scholar, but still more on account of his benevolence and good works, and his readiness in counsel. He passed his life between his cherished country employments on a large farm of his father's, where he lost no opportunity of gathering experience from the conversation of the neighbouring farmers, and the duties of his holy office. Having early shown a great taste for agriculture, he watched its processes carefully, and made rapid progress in it, as he always connected practice with theory. On moving to Dunse he found more real improvements in the art, and also more difficulties to be surmounted than had been the case in East Lothian. Observing that English works on agriculture were ill adapted to the soil and climate of Scotland, and consisted of theories rather than facts supported by experience, he determined to compose a ‘Treatise on Agriculture’ on a new plan. The first volume of this appeared in 1762, and was followed by a second in 1770. This treatise is practical and excellently adapted to the farming of Scotland, its first four books treating of soils, tillage, and manures in general, the other four of schemes of managing farms, usual in Scotland at that time, and suggestions for their improvement. Dickson's next publication was an ‘Essay on Manures’ (1772), among a collection termed ‘Georgical Essays.’ His views are quite in accordance with modern practice. It was directed against a Mr. Tull, who held that careful ploughing alone provided sufficient fertilisation for the soil, and is almost a reproduction, word for word, of a section in Dickson's ‘Treatise.’ He also wrote ‘Small Farms Destructive to the Country in its present Situation,’ Edinburgh, 1764.

Twelve years after his death (1788) the work by which Dickson is best known was printed with a dedication to the Duke of Buccleuch. ‘The Husbandry of the Ancients’ was composed late in life, and cost the author much labour. He collects the agricultural processes of the ancients under their proper heads, and compares them with