Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/54

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

had been ordained as his successor on 16 June 1800, at once offered to resign, but Dickson would not hear of this. He had thoughts of emigration, but decided to stand his ground. Overtures from the congregation of Donegore were frustrated by hints of the withdrawal of the regium donum. At length he was chosen by a seceding minority from the congregation of Keady, co. Armagh, and installed minister of Second Keady on 4 March 1803, on a stipend of 50l., without regium donum. He soon became involved in synodical disputes with Black, the leader of synod, and on the publication of his ‘Narrative’ (1812) he narrowly escaped suspension ab officio. His political career closed with his attendance on 9 Sept. 1811 at a catholic meeting in Armagh, on returning from which he was cruelly beaten by Orangemen. In 1815 he resigned his charge in broken health, and henceforth subsisted on charity. Joseph Wright, an episcopalian lawyer, gave him a cottage rent free in the suburbs of Belfast, and some of his old friends made him a weekly allowance. He lived to exult in Black's fall from power. At the synod in 1816 William Neilson, D.D., of Dundalk, proposed Dickson as a fit person to fill the divinity chair which was about to be erected, but the suggestion was not entertained. He acted on the committee for examining theological students till April 1824. His last appearance in the pulpit was early in 1824. Robert Acheson of Donegall Street, Belfast (d. 21 Feb. 1824), failed to meet his congregation; Dickson, who was present, gave out a psalm and prayed, but did not preach. He died on 27 Dec. 1824, having just passed his eightieth year, and was buried ‘in a pauper's grave’ at Clifton Street cemetery, Belfast. He married in 1771 Isabella Gamble, who died at Smylodge, Mourne, co. Down, on 15 July 1819; she appears to have had some means, which died with her. Dickson's eldest son, a surgeon in the navy, died in 1798; his second son was in business; of other two sons, one was an apothecary; Dickson had also two daughters, but seems to have survived all his children. A grandson was a struggling physician in Belfast.

Dickson was a man of genius, a wit, and a demagogue; his writings give the impression that he would have shone at the bar; as a clergyman he was strongly anticalvinistic in doctrine, assiduous in pastoral duties, and of stainless character.

He published: 1. ‘A Sermon … before the Echlinville Volunteers,’ &c., Belfast, 1779, 4to. 2. ‘Funeral Sermon for Armstrong,’ Belfast, 1780, 4to. 3. ‘Sermons,’ Belfast [1780], 12mo (two fast sermons and two others). 4. ‘Psalmody,’ Belfast, 1792, 12mo (an address to Ulster presbyterians, issued with the approbation of nine presbyteries). 5. ‘Three Sermons on the subject of Scripture Politics,’ Belfast, 1793, 4to (reprinted as an appendix to No. 6). 6. ‘A Narrative of the Confinement and Exile,’ &c., Dublin, 1812, 4to; 2nd edition same year (both editions were published by subscription; the second was of two thousand copies at a guinea, but it fell flat, and is exceedingly scarce). 7. ‘Speech at the Catholic Dinner, 9 May,’ Dublin, 1811, 8vo. 8. ‘Retractations,’ &c., Belfast, 1813, 4to (a defence of No. 6 against Dr. Black). 9. ‘Sermons,’ Belfast, 1817, 4to.

[For Dickson's life the main authority is his own Narrative, amended on some minor points in his Retractations, but bearing evident marks of genuineness and truth. A short biography is given in Witherow's Hist. and Lit. Mem. of Presb. in Ireland, 2nd ser. 1880, p. 226 sq.; Classon Porter, in Irish Presb. Biog. Sketches, 1883, p. 10 sq., is fuller, but often inaccurate. Northern Star, 14 July 1792, 16 and 20 Feb. 1793; Report from the Committee of Secrecy, 1798, App. pp. cxxv, cxxix; Musgrave's Mem. of the different Rebellions in Ireland, 2nd ed. 1801, pp. 123 sq., 183; Northern Whig, 30 July 1819; Teeling's Personal Narrative of the Irish Rebellion, 1828, p. 226 sq.; Montgomery's Outlines of the Hist. of Presb. in Ireland, in Irish Unit. Mag. 1847, p. 333 sq.; Madden's United Irishmen, 2nd ser. ii. 431; Reid's Hist. Presb. Church in Ireland (Killen), 1867, iii. 396 sq.; Killen's Hist. Congr. Presb. Church in Ireland, 1886, pp. 148, 163, 215 sq.; Minutes of Gen. Synod; information from Rev. C. J. M'Alester, Holywood, and Mr. A. Hill, Ballyearl, Carnmoney.]

A. G.

DICUIL (fl. 825), Irish geographer, is only known by his work, ‘Liber de Mensurâ Orbis terræ.’ That he was an Irishman by birth, if not by residence, is proved by his phrases, ‘heremitæ ex nostra Scottia navigantes’ (p. 44), and ‘circum nostram insulam Hiberniam’ (p. 41); for Scottia was not used as the equivalent of the modern Scotland till a century after Dicuil's time at the very earliest. In the same direction tends his accurate knowledge of the islands near Britain and Ireland, ‘in alias quibus ipsarum habitavi, alias intravi, alias tantum vidi, alias legi’ (p. 41). On the other hand it has been plausibly maintained that he was a member of one of the numerous Irish monasteries that in his days still flourished in different parts of the Frankish empire (Wright, i. 372, &c.). This theory may perhaps be supported by his allusion to the Gallic poet Sedulius, ‘auctoritate aliorum poetarum et maxime Virgilii, quem in talibus causis noster simulavit Sedulius, qui in heroicis carminibus,’ &c.; but hardly on the lines of