Dalrymple, Alexander

, an eminent hydrographer, F. R. S. and F. S. A. was born July 24, 1737, at New Hailes, near Edinburgh, the seat of his fattier sir James Dalrymple, bait, of Hailes. His mother, lady Christian, daughter of the earl of Haddington, a very amiable and | accomplished woman, bore sixteen children, all of whom Alexander, who was the seventh son, survived. He was educated at the school of Haddington, under Mr. David Young; but as he left school before he was fourteen years of age, and never was at the university, his scholastic endowments were very limited. At school he had the credit of being a good scholar; and, after he left school, his eldest hrother was wont to make him translate, off hand, some of the odes of Horace; so that he was, for his years, a tolerable proficient in Latin: but going abroad, entirely his own master, before he was sixteen years of age, he neglected his Latin; and, as he says, never found so much use for it as to induce him to take any pains to recover it.

Sir James Dalrymple died in 1750; and the hon. general St. Clair having married sir James’s sister, a very sensible and accomplished woman (the relict of sir John Baird, bart.), in 1752, from his intimacy with alderman Baker, then chairman of the East India company, general St. Clair got Mr. Baker’s promise to appoint his nephew, Mr. Dalrymple, a writer in the company’s service; the young man having conceived a strong desire of going to the East Indies, by reading Nieuhoff’s Voyages, and a novel of that time, called Joe Thomson. He accordingly left Scotland in the spring of 1752, with his brother sir David, who affectionately accompanied him to London. He was put to Mr. Kinross’s academy, at Forty-hill, near Enfield, for some months antecedent to his appointment in the company’s service. He tells us he was obliged to Mr. Kinross for his great kindness and attention to him, and received much good instruction for his conduct through life; by which he greatly profited: but was too short a time at that academy to learn much of what was the object of sending him there, viz. writing and merchants’ accounts; which are, at least were at that time, the only qualifications the East India company thought requisite in their servants: and the absurdity of supposing a boy of sixteen from an academy competent to keep a set of merchants* books not being considered, some demur was made to Mr. Kinross’s certificate of this part of Mr. Dalrymple’s education not being expressed in terms sufficiently direct; however, this was not insisted on.

On the 1st of November, 1752, he was appointed a writer in the East India company’s service, and on the | 8th of November, stationed on the Madras establishment. Alderman Baker disqualified early the next year; so that it was by a very accidental coritingence that Mr. Dairy m pie went to India, his family having no India connexions; more particularly as he wanted a few months of sixteen years of age, which was the age required for a writer to be: and his mother lady Christian strongly objected to his father’s son even tacitly assenting to countenance what was untrue; and she was not quite satisfied with being assured that it was with alderman Baker’s concurrence and approbation;“it being urged, that the spirit of the regulation was to prevent infants being introduced into the service as writers, and not to preclude a person for the difference of a few months in age.” This,“says our author,” is the only instance in which Alexander Dalrymple is conscious of having been accessary to cheating the company, if it can be so termed."

About the middle of December, he embarked at Gravesend on board the Suffolk Indiaman, commanded by captain William Wilson, and the vessel sailed from the Downs Dec. 25, 1752, and arrived at Madras on May 11. At first Mr. Dalrymple was put under the store-keeper, but was soon after removed to the secretary’s office, and on lord Pigot’s being appointed governor, was noticed by his lordship with great kindness, as well as by Mr. Orme, the historian, then a member of council and accountant, who continued his friendship to him during the remainder of his life. While in the secretary’s office, examining the old records, to qualify himself, by the knowledge of them, to fill the office of secretary, which he was in succession to expect, he found the commerce of the eastern islands was an object of great consideration with the company, and he was inspired with an earnest desire to recover that important object for this country.

A favourable opportunity offered for putting this into train: his old friend captain Wilson, who was appointed by the East India company commodore of all their ships and vessels, and commander of the Pitt, of 50 guns, for his good and gallant conduct, arrived in September 1758, having on board sir William (then colonel) Draper, and part of his regiment. The Pitt was destined for China. Commodore Wilson, whose sagacity and maritime knowledge was equal to his courage, had reflected during the course of his voyage from England, in what manner hi* | passage to China could be attained at that season; and it occurred to him, that the same principle by which ships went to the Malabar coast and Persia from Madras in the south west monsoon, was applicable in a passage to China, viz. by crossing the line, and taking advantage of the contrary monsoons that prevail at the same time in north and south latitudes. Thus, as the ships from Madras stand to the south east with the south west winds, till they get into the south east trade in south latitude, and then stand westward, till they are to windward of their intended port, when they cross the line again into north latitude; so commodore Wilson reasoned, that the north-west winds would, in south latitude, carry him far enough eastward to make the north-east wind a fair wind to China. Sir William Draper countenancing his opinion, commodore Wilson, on his arrival at Madras, mentioned the subject to Mr. Dalrymple, and asked his sentiments; which entirely concurring with his own, and being confirmed by reference to Saris, &c. who had performed the most essential part of the voyage, though with a different object; commodore Wilson was thereby induced to propose it to governor Pigot, who consulted Mr. Dalrymple, and being convinced that it was practicable, commodore Wilson performed the voyage highly to the credit of our maritime reputation, and much to the advantage of the company.

Circumstances occurred in the discussion of the proposition made by commodore Wilson, which induced Mr. Dalrymple to propose, and governor Pigot to accede to, his going in the Cuddalore schooner to the eastward, on a voyage of general observation, although it had a particular destination; but as the secretaryship became vacant in 1759, lord Pigot, thinking that place a more beneficial object, endeavoured to dissuade Mr. Dalrymple from the voyage, but without success, as he remained warm in the pursuit of an object of whose national importance he had long been convinced, and considered this voyage as a new jera in his life.

As the Cuddalore went under the secret orders of the governor, it was not thought proper to apply to the council for the provision of such a cargo as was necessary in countries where there was no regular communication or commerce; and where even provisions could, probably, only be purchased by barter; a small cargo was put on board at the expence of the governor, who permitted | captain Baker, the captain, to have a fourth concern. The evening before Mr. Dalrymple embarked, governor Pigot presented him with an instrument, making him a present of whatever profits might accrue from the three-fourths concern. Having never insinuated such an intention, he left no ground for mercenary imputation against Mr. Dalrymple, in undertaking the voyage, or against the governor himself for ordering it. In consequence of an offer made by the hon. Thomas Howe, commander of that ship, he first embarked in the Winchelsea, April 22, 1759, and having joined the Cuddalore, captain George Baker, in the strait of Malacca, whither that vessel had been dispatched a few days before the Winchelsea, Mr. Dalrymple quitted the Winchelsea, and embarked on the Cuddalore June 3, in the Strait of Sincapore.

It cannot be pretended to give a recital, however brief, of the course of this voyage, of which Mr. Dalrymple did not publish any connected journal, but it was in this voyage the English visited Sooloo. Mr. Dalrymple concluded a treaty with the sultan, and made a contract with the principal persons, for a cargo to be brought on the East India company’s account, which the natives engaged to receive at 100 per cent, profit, and to provide a cargo for China, which they engaged should yield an equivalent profit there. The principal person with whom this contract was negociated, was Dato Bandahara, the head and representative of the nobility; for the Sooloo government is a mixed monarchy, in which, though the principal nobility and orauky’s meet in the national council to deliberate, the authority is vested in a few officers, who are hereditary, the Sultan, Dato Bandahara, who represents the nobility, and Oranky Mallick, who represents the people; matters of government depending on the concurrence of two of the states, of which the people must be one.

The person then filling the hereditary office of Bandahara, was as conspicuous for the probity and exalted justice ok his character, as by his distinguished rank, of which, whilst Mr. Dalrymple was at Sooloo, in 1761, an occasion occurred for Bandahara to exert. There were at this time two Chinese junks in Sooloo road; in the cargo of one of them the sultan had an interest; the other belonged entirely to Chinese merchants of Amoy. The sultan, who was very avaricious, in hopes of getting money from the | Chinese, or thinking, perhaps, that it would be more advantageous for the sale of the cargo in which he was concerned, laid an embargo on the other junk: Bandahara and Oranky Mailick remonstrated with the sultan on the impropriety of this behaviour to merchants, but without effect; upon which Bandahara, and Oranky Mailick, with Pangleema Milabain, a person of a military order, consonant to ancient knighthood, went on board the China junk, in which the sultan had an interest, and brought her rudder on shore, informing the sultan that they would detain the one if he obstructed the departure of the other: this well-timed interference had its due effect, and both junks proceeded without further molestation on their voyage home.

He returned to Madras from this eastern voyage, Jan. 23, 1762. The company’s administration approved of his proceedings, and in March 1762, having resolved to send on the company’s account the cargo stipulated, employed him in expediting the provision of that cargo. His expences in the voyage of almost three years, amounted to 612l. which was repaid by the governor and council of Madras, but he neither asked or received any pecuniary advantage to himself. On the 10th of May, the London packet was destined for the Sooloo voyage, and Mr. Dalrymple was appointed captain. In the passage from Madras to Sooloo, he first visited Balambangan; and on his arrival at Sooloo, found the small-pox had swept off many of the principal inhabitants, and dispersed the rest; so that very ineffectual measures had been taken towards providing the intended cargo. But although this unexpected calamity, which in the Eastern Islands is similar in its effects to the plague, was a sufficient reason for the disappointment of the cargo, yet a still more efficient cause, was the death of Bandahara, soon after Mr. Dalrymple’s departure from Sooloo, the preceding year. A few days before the death of this good man, he sent for the linguist whom Mr. Dalrymple had employed, and who had remained behind at Sooloo, asking if he thought the English would certainly come again. The linguist declaring that it was not to be doubted; Bandahara thereupon expressed his concern, saying that it would have made him very happy to have lived to have seen this contract faithfully performed on their part, and the friendship with the English established on a firm footing. The linguist observed, | that they were all equally bound. Banclahara replied, that although this was true, all had not the same disposition; and perhaps none else the power of enforcing the due execution of their engagements; but that he was resigned to the divine will.

This situation of affairs at Sooloo, made new arrangements necessary, the result of which was, that one half of the cargo brought thither in the London should be delivered, to enable the Sooloos to provide goods for the expected Indiaman; but that ship not arriving, new difficulties arose; as the London was not large enough to receive the goods they had provided; and the necessity of her departure made it indispensable to deliver the remaining half of the cargo, which had been retained as an incitement to the Sooloos faithfully to pay for that portion they had received. By delivery of the remainder, every thing was necessarily left to the mercy of the Sooloos, subjected not only to their honour, but to their discretion; for if the goods they received were dissipated, they could obtain no cargo in return, having nothing to deliver to their vassals for their services, without which they were not entitled to those services. Ualrymple, however, obtained a grant of the island of Balambangan, for the East India company, of which he took possession Jan. 23, 1763, on his return towards Madras, and as it appeared necessary that the court of directors should have full information on the subject of our future intercourse in the eastern islands, he determined to proceed to England for that purpose. But as the president and council thought it proper that he should proceed again to Sooloo in the Neptune Indiaman, in the way to China, and embark thence for England, he accordingly sailed from Madras July 5, 1763. Many circumstances, however, prevented the execution of every part of this plan, and he appears to have been disappointed in his views respecting the intercourse with the eastern islands, the advantages of which he afterwards fully stated in a pamphlet entitled “A Plan for extending the commerce, &c.” published in 1771, though printed in 1769.

Soon after his arrival home in 1765, discoveries in the South Sea being a favourite object of Mr. Dalrymple’s researches, he communicated his col -m that subject to the secretary of state, lord Shelburne, late marquis of Lans^ downe, who expressed a strong desire to employ him on these discoveries. Afterwards, when the royal society | proposed to send persons to observe the transit of Venus, in 1769, Mr. Dalrymple was approved of by the admiralty, as a proper person to be employed in this service, as well as to prosecute discoveries in that quarter; but from some differences of opinion, partly owing to official etiquette, respecting the employment of any person as commander of a vessel who was not a naval officer, and partly owing to Mr. Dalrymple’s objections to a divided command, this design did not take place. In that year, however, the court of directors of the East India company gave Mr. Dalrymple 5000l. for his past services, and as an equivalent to the emoluments of secretary at Madras, which he had relinquished in 1759, to proceed on the eastern voyage. As the various proceedings concerning Balambangan were published in 1769, it may be sufficient to notice in this place that the court of directors appointed Mr. Dalrymple chief of Balambangan, and commander of the Britannia; but some unhappy differences arising with the directors, he was removed from the charge of that intended settlement, and another person appointed in his stead. In 1774, however, the court of directors being dissatisfied with this person’s conduct, had it in contemplation to send a supervisor thither. On this occasion Mr. Dalrymple made an offer of his services to redeem the expedition from destruction, without any emolument except defraying his expences, on condition that a small portion of the clear profits of the establishment should be granted to him and his heirs, &c. But this offer was not accepted, and soon after the settlement of Balambangan was lost to the company.

From the time Mr. Dalrymple returned to England, in 1765, he was almost constantly engaged in collecting and arranging materials for a full exposition of the importance of the Eastern Islands and South Seas; and was encouraged by the court of directors to publish various charts, &c. It is positively affirmed that the chart of the northern part of the Bay of Bengal, published in 1772, was the occasion of saving the Hawke Indiaman from the French, in the war.

Mr. Dalrymple had taken every occasion to keep up his claim on the Madras establishment; but after lord Pigot was, in 1775, appointed governor of Fort St. George, he was advised by the then chairman and deputy chairman, to make a specific application before the arrangement of the Madras council was made, his former letters being | considered as too general. Accordingly, on the 3d of March, 1775, he applied to be restored to his standing on the Madras establishment; which application the company were pleased to comply with, and he was appointed in his rank, as a member of council, and was nominated to be one of the committee of circuit. In the proceedings of the council at Madras, no man, however violent in his animosity or opposition, ever imputed to Mr. Dalrymple any want of integrity or zeal, for what he thought was for the company’s interest, and he had the satisfaction to find that the court of directors gave him distinguished marks of their approbation. On the 1st of April, 1779, when the company were pleased to accept of his services in the employment he held until his death, namely, that of hydrographer, by advice of sir George Wombwell, the then chairman, he accepted on the 8th that employment by letter, read in court on the 9th of April, on condition it should not invalidate his pretensions at Madras.

On the 27th of May 1780, the court of directors resolved that Messrs. Russell, Dalrymple, Stone, and Lathom, having come home in pursuance of the resolution of the general court, in 1777, to have their conduct inquired into, and no objection having been made in so long a time, nor appearing against their conduct, should be again employed in the company’s service. The other gentlemen were afterwards appointed to chiefships, Mr. Dalrymple continuing in his present employment, with the reservation of his Madras pretensions. When the employment of hydrographer was confirmed on the 19th of July, he expressed by letter, that he trusted, if he wished to return to Madras hereafter, that the court would appoint him, and this letter was ordered to lie on the table.

In 1784, when the India bill was brought into parliament, there was a clause precluding the company from sending persons back to India, who had been a certain time in England; Mr. Dalrymple represented the injustice this was to him, who had accepted his employment, on condition that it should not injure his pretensions at Madras; a clause was thereupon inserted, precluding that measure, unless with the concurrence of three-fourths of the directors, and three-fourths of the proprietors; he was still not satisfied, and carried on a sort of controversial correspondence with the directors, the merits of which would now be but imperfectly. understood. | It having been long in contemplation to have an hydrographical office at the Admiralty, this was at length established during the administration of earl Spencer. In 1795 Mr. Dalrymple was appointed to the office of hydrographer, and received the assent of the court of directors, xinder whom he held a similar office, and who had lately given him a pension for life.

From this time little occurred in his history worthy of particular notice until the month of May 1808, when having refused to resign his place of hydrographer to the Admiralty, on the ground of superannuation, and to accept of a pension, he was dismissed from his situation; and it is said, that in the opinion of his medical attendants, his death was occasioned by vexation arising from that event. A motion was shortly afterwards made on this subject in the house of commons, when the secretary to the admiralty, after bearing the most ample testimony to the talents and services of Mr. Dalrymple, fully justified the conduct of ‘that board, which had adopted a necessary measure with much reluctance. Mr. Dalrymple, indeed, had exhibited so many symptoms of decayed faculties, joined to an irritable habit, as to lessen the value of those services for which he had been so highly respected. He died June 19, 1808, at his house in High-street Mary-le-bone, and was buried in the small cemetery adjoining the church. His collection of books was very large and valuable, and particularly rich in works pertaining to geography and navigation, which were purchased by the admiralty. His valuable collection of poetry he bequeathed to his heir at law, to be kept at the family seat in Scotland, as an heir-loom; and his miscellaneous collection, containing, among others, a great number of valuable foreign books, particularly in the Spanish and Portuguese languages, was sold by auction, and produced a considerable sum.

His printed works were very numerous. The following list, exclusive of his nautical publications, was furnished by himself at the end of some memoirs of his life, which he drew up for the European magazine in 1802, and of which we have availed ourselves in the preceding account. In the following list, those marked * were never published, and those marked † were not sold.

1. “Account of Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean before 1764,1767, 8vo. 2. † “Memorial to the Proprietors of East India Stock,1768, 8vo. 3. † “Account | of what has passed between the East India Directors and Alexander Dalrymple,” as first printed, 1768, 8vo. 4. “Account of what has passed Do. Do. as published,” 8vo. 5. “Plan for extending the Commerce of this Kingdom, and of the East India Company, by an Establishment at Balambangan,1771. 6. * “Letter concerning the proposed Supervisors,” 20th June 1769, 8vo. 7. “Letter concerning the proposed Supervisors,” 30th June 1769, 4to. 8. Second Letter Do. 10th July 1769, 4to. 9. “Vox populi Vox Dei, lord Weymouth’s Appeal to the General Court of India Proprietors, considered, 14th August,1769, 4to. 10. “Historical collection of South Sea Voyages,1770, 2 vols. 4to; 1771, 4to. 11. † “Proposition of a benevolent Voyage to introduce Corn, &c. into New Zealand,” &c. 1771, 4to. 12. Considerations on a Pamphlet (by governor Johnstone) entitled “Thoughts onour acquisitions in the East Indies, particularly respecting Bengal,1772, 8vo. 13. “General View of the East India Company’s Affairs (written in January 1769), to which are added some Observations on the present State of the Company’s Affairs,1772, 8vo. 14. † “A paper concerning the General Government for India,” 8vo. 15. † “Rights of the East India Company.N. B. This was printed at the company’s expence, 1773, 8vo. 16. “Letter to Dr. Hawkesworth,1773, 4to. 17. *“Observations on Dr. Hawkesworth’s Preface to 2d edition,1773, 4to. An opinion of sir David Dalrymple, that there was too much asperity in this Reply, retarded, and the death of Dr. Hawkesworth prevented, the publication. 18. † “Memorial of Doctor Juan Louis Arias (in Spanish),1773, 4to. 19. † “Proposition for printing, by subscription, the ms voyages and travels in the British Museum,” 1773, 4to. 20. “A full and clear proof that the Spaniards have no right to Balambangan,1774, 8vo. 21. “An historical relation of the several Expeditions, from Fort Marlbro’ to the Islands off the West Coast of Sumatra,1775, 4to. 22. “Collection of Voyages, chiefly in the South Atlantic Ocean, from the original Mss. by Dr. H alley, M. Bouvet, &c. with a Preface concerning a Voyage on Discovery, proposed to be undertaken by Alexander Dalrymple at his own expence; Letters to Lord North on the subject, and Plan of a Republican Colony,” 1775, 4to. 23. † “Copies of papers relative to the Restoration of the King of Tanjour, the Imprisonment of Lord Pigot, &c. Printed by | the East India Company, for the use of the Proprietors.” 1777, 4to. N. B. In this collection are many Minutes of Council, and some Letters by Alexander Dalrymple. 24. † Several other pieces on the same subject, written by Alexander Dalrymple, were printed by admiral Pigot and Alexander Dalrymple, but not sold; those particularly by Alexander Dalrymple are 4to, 1777. 25. “Notes on Lord Pigot’s Narrative.” 26. “Letter to Proprietors of East India Stock,” 8th May 1777. 27. “Account of the transactions concerning the Revolt at Madras, 30th April 1777. Appendix.” 28. “Letter to the Court of Directors, 19th June 1777. Memorial 19th June 1777.” 29. † “Account of the subversion of the Legal Government of Fort St. George, in answer to Mr. Andrew Stuart’s Letter to the Court of Directors,1778, 4to. 30. “Journal of the Grenville,” published in the Philosophical Transactions, 1778, 4to. 31. “Considerations on the present State of Affairs between England and America, 1778,” 8vo. 32. “Considerations on the East India Bill, 1769,” 8vo, 1778. 33. “State of the East India Company, and Sketch of an equitable Agreement,1780, 8vo. 34. “Account of the Loss of the Grosvenor,1783, 8vo. 35. “Reflections on the present State of the East India Company,1783, 8vo. 36. “A short account of the Gentoo Mode of collecting the Revenues on the Coast of Coromandel,1783, 8vo. 37. “A Retrospective View of the Ancient System of the Blast India Company, with a Plan of Regulation,178-4, 8vo. 38. “Postscript to Mr. Dairy mple’s account of the Gentoo Mode of collecting the Revenues on the Coast of Coromandel, being, Observations made on a perusal of it by Moodoo Kistna,1785, 8vo. 39. “Extracts from Juvenilia, or Poems by George Wither,1785, 24mo. 40. “Eair State of the Case between the East India Company and the Owners of Ships now in their service; to which are added, Considerations on Mr. Brough’s Pamphlet, concerning East India Shipping,1786, 8vo. 41. “A serious Admonition to the Public on the intended Thief Colony at Botany Bay.” 42. “Review of the Contest concerning Four New Regiments, graciously offered by his Majesty to be sent to India,” &c. 178S, 8vo. 43. * “Plan for promoting the Fur-trade, and securing it to this Country, by uniting the Operations of the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies,1789, 4to. 44. “Memoir of a Map of the Lands around the North | Pole,” 1789, 4to, 45. “An Historical Journal of the Expeditions by Sea and Land, to the North of California in 1768, 1769, and 1770, when Spanish establishments were first made at San Diego and Monterey, translated from the Spanish ms. by William Revely, esq. to which is added, Translation of Cabrera Bueno’s Description of the Coast of California, and an Extract from the ms Journal of M. Sauvague le Muet, 1714,” 1790, 4to. 46. “A Letter to a Friend on the Test Act,1790, 8vo. 47. “The Spanish Pretensions fairly discussed,1790, 8vo, 48. “The Spanish Memorial of 4th June considered,1790, 8vo. 49. † “Plan for the publication of a Repertory of Oriental Information,1790, 4to. 50. * “Memorial of Alexander Dalrymple,1791, 8vo. 51. “Parliamentary Reform, as it is called, improper, in the present State of this Country,1793, 8vo. 52. “Mr. Fox’s Letter to his worthy and independent Electors of Westminster, fully considered,1793, 8vo. 53. † “Observations on the Copper-coinage wanted for the Circars. Printed for the use of the East India Company,1794, 8vo. 54. “The Poor Man’s Friend,1795, 8vo. 55. “A collection of English Songs, with an Appendix of Original Pieces,1796, 8vo. 56. * “A Fragment on the India Trade, written in 1791,1797, 8vo. 57. “Thoughts of an old Man of independent mind, though dependent fortune,1800, 8vo. 58. “Oriental Repertory,” vol. I. 4to. April 1791 to January 1793. 59. “Oriental Repertory,” vol. II. 4to. (not completed). 1


Memoirs by himself in European Mag. for November and December 1802. —Lysons’s Environs, Supplemental volume.