Page images



[merged small][ocr errors]

........ 2


7791. Memoirs of Miss Meredith... .... ......

The Errors of Education........
The Castle of Wolfenbach...
Ellen and Julia ..
Lucy ........
The Voluntary Exile....
Woman as she should be ....
The Girl of the Mountains. ...
Women as they are..........
The Mysterious Warning ........
An old Friend with a new Face .
Anecdotes of two well known Families..
The Valley of St. Gothard. ...........
The Miser and his Family..
The Peasant of Ardenne Forest ..

The Mysterious Visits ...........
· Murray House........

[ocr errors]


57 vols

Besides—Intrigues of a Morning, an After Piece, altered from Moliere, and performed for the benefit of Mrs. Mattocks and of Mr. Hull, at Covent Garden Theatre—and a work, now in the press-a translation from Augustus Lafontainementitled, " Love and Gratitude; or, Traits of the Human Heart,” in three volumes. We believe, but on this point we cannot be certain, that Mrs. Parsons has written “ The Wise-ones Bub. bled; or, Lovers Triumphant,'' in two volumes, duodecimoand another novel, intitled “ Rosetta."


WHEN we have found our knowledge extended, our virtues strengthened, or our leisure rationally amused by the perusal of an author's works, we wish to know something of the author himself; and this natural desire, with the reciprocal ad.

vantages gained by the gratification of it, is the best defence of that imperfect biography that precedes the termination of life. To heighten the pleasure of those who read, and to give new weight to the already deservedly-acquired influence of an au. thor, as well as to preserve some memorials of him, are the objects of our biographical sketches; and we could not read Mr. Dallas's works, without designing, as soon as it should be in our power, to give our readers. some account of him. As we have extracted from his own publications considerable information, corroborated and augmented by gentlemen ac. quainted with him, we can depend upon the accuracy of this memoir.

Robert Charles Dallas was born in Jamaica. He is the son of Dr. Dallas, a physician of Kingston, in that island; who was lineally descended from the Dallases of St. Martyn, in Scotland, and who practiced his profession with such a bility and success, that he acquired a large fortune : which, how. ever, he afterwards injured by political contentions, and spe. culations in colonial property. Mr. Dallas was sent from the West Indies at a very early period of his life, and received the rudiments of education at Musselburgh, in Scotland, whence he was removed to England, and placed with his brother at Kensington, under the tuition of Mr. Elphinston, who is known to the public as a scholar, as the friend of Dr. Johnson, and as an indefatigable labourer at a vain attempt to alter the whole orthography of the English language. While here, and very young, he lost his father, whose estate, we learn from Mr. Dallas himself, in one of his early publications, was left encumbered with a debt; which, though small at first, was suffered to accumulate, by negligence and mismanagement, to a ruinous degree. On leaving school, Mr. Dallas, mixing in the world with gay companions, was led to decide on a mili. tary life, from which, however, he was soon diverted by disappointment. Having lodged money with an agent, for the purchase of a commission, he was persuaded to forego his choice of a regiment in which there was a vacancy, to wait for one in another corps, promised by the lieut.-colonel of it, After some time the vacancy occurred, which was filled with


another name, by superior interest, and he was requested to wait for the next. Disappointed both of the commission pro. mised, and of that which had been at his option, he was disgusted, he relinquished his intention, and soon after. entered his name in the society of the Inner Temple, as a student for the bar. : :

Supplied with money, left to his own direction, and still de. luded by the prospect of affluence, it might be easily suspected, from the event, and from the style of Mr. Dallas's writings, that, like many others, he devoted more of his hours to the belles lettres than to law cases, even if he had not told us so in his beautiful translation of Boileau's Epistle to M. de Guilleragues, on true happiness, in which he deviates a little from the original, to apply some lines to himself:

" Mon pere, soixante ans au travail appliqué,

En mourant me laissa, pour rouler et pour vivre,
Un revenu léger, et son exemple à suivre.
Mais bien-tôt amoureux d'un plus noble métier,
Fils, frere, oncle, cousin, beau-frere de greffier,
Pouvant charger mon bras d'une utile liasse,
J'allai loin du Palais errer sur le Parnasse.
La famille en pâlit, e vir en frémissant,
Dans le poudre du greffe un poëte naissant,
On vit avec horreur une muse effrénée,
Dormir chez un greffier la grasse matinée."

A life of energy and study o'er,
Death call'd my father to a brighter shore ;
He left for those behind a world of cares;
Example active, but confus'd affairs.
Soon then, aspiring to a noble trade,
I wish'd, to grace my hat, a smart cockade ;
I glow'd with heroes to enrol my name,
Till disappointment quenched the martial Alame.
Then to the bar I'm urg'd, the bar I shun,
To wander near the streams of Helicon.

My friends alarm’d, turn pale, and groaning see,
A love of rhyming shooting out in me: .

With horror view the muse at madding sports,
· Or slumbering over statutes and reports."

And, in the beginning of the same epistle :

Que mes cheveux plus noirs ombrageoient mon visage.
Maintenant que le tems a mûri mes désirs,
Que mon âge, amoureux de plus sages plaisirs,
Bien-tôt s'en va frapper à son neuvieme lustre;
J'aime unieux mon repos qu’un embarras illustre."

“ Though still my youthful hairs unchang'd remain,

And show no signs of age's coming reign;
Though, in my life, I scarce have dropp'd the boy,
Enamou'd more I grow of sapient joy;
Three years 'bove twenty, I prefer my ease
To all the glory of difficulties." ... .

By the foregoing passages, we find that Mr. Dallas had re. linquished all thoughts of the army, had determined to study the law, and was, at three-and-twenty, a votary of the muses. The choice of this epistle of Boileau's, at so early an age, the animation with which it is given in its English dress, and the self-application of some of the lines, show Mr. Dallas's mind to have received, in the spring of life, those seeds of rational philosophy, the fruits of which the public are now enjoying.

About the time he came of age, he made his first voyage to Jamaica, and here again we trace him, from himself, in the publication we first alluded to. He embarked at Falmouth, on board of one of the West India packets, which, in those days, touched at Madeira, and afterwards at all the British windward islands, before they proceeded to Jamaica. His first observations are made at Barbadoes; where the civilities he received could not suppress his feelings, on seeing a negro struck by his master at the breakfast table, for suffering a fly to escape his brush, and alight on the butter. " This," says hc, “ was the first living picture I had of slavery. No offence was meant to me: but, recently from England, conscious what was due to one's company, not to say fult of the ideas of liberty, my blood rebelled against the blow. I felt an affec tion for the poor negro, and an instant detestation of his ma. ster.” At St. Vincent Mr. Dallas saw a sailor carried away by an enormous shark; an account of which he gives in the vivid colouring of a painter ; we see the men sporting in the sea round the packet, we see the monster darting in amongst them, we see the poor victim borne off through the translucent fluid.

In Jamaica, we find Mr. Dallas's sentiments often in oppo. sition to his interest : though a West Indian, and deriving his support from the labour of negroes, his feelings were forever at variance with the scenes of slavery thai presented themselves to his view. Of his first visit to the family estats, he thus expresses his thoughts : Os homini sublime dedit--two hundred beings of this description have been at my feet, in spite of all my efforts to restrain them from humbling themselves so low. Are you not our master? Are you not our old master's son ? We belong to you; we are your negroes; we are your poor faithful slaves. They kissed my shoes again and again, and sung and showed extravagant joy. They all remained about the house the rest of the day. I made it a point to talk to every one of them by turns, at which they were delighted, and threw out expressions, as if they esteemed me a being of a superior order. When retired to my room, I could not help re. flecting on the group I had left, in their relative situation to me, as master and slave. These men and women are mine :what a reflection ! and I, had some misfortune thrown me on the coast of Barbary, might have been the property of a Mus. sulman,”-With such sentiments, he was not very likely to prefer a colonial life; but, being appointed to a lucrative office on the north side of the island, and forming friendships there, he remained two or three years in Jamaica.

On his return to England, he does not appear to have rea sumed the study of the law. Soon after his arrival, he married Miss Harding, the third daughter of Benjamin Harding, esq. of Hacton-house, near Hornchurch, in Essex. After the

« PreviousContinue »