1886 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Dodsley

Whitwell Elwin and William John Courthope, Note in Works of Pope, ed. Elwin and Courthope (1871-1889) 9:535-36n.



Robert Dodsley was born in 1703 at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. "The Toyshop" was his second literary effort. It was acted in 1735 with great success, and with the profits derived from its performance, Dodsley set up his bookseller's shop. He was a generous publisher, and it was through his publication of "London" that Johnson was first brought into notice. Among other enterprises he started in 1758 "The Annual Register." He died 25 September, 1764.

Dodsley's account of the matter [of publishing The Toyshop] is interesting. "You may remember, long before I had the honour of being known to Mr. Pope, the regard I had for him; and it was a great mortification to me, that I used to think myself too inconsiderable ever to merit his notice or esteem. However, some time after I wrote the Toy-Shop, hoping there was something in it which might recommend me to him in a moral capacity at least, though not in a poetical one, I sent it to him and desired his opinion of it; expressing some doubt that thought I designed it for the stage, yet unless its novelty would recommend it, I was afraid it would not bear a public representation, and therefore had not offered it to the actors. In answer to this I received the following instance of Mr. Pope's good nature and humanity. [Letter as above.]

"He was as good as his word; he recommended it to Mr. Rich; by his interest it was brought upon the stage; and by the indulgence of the town it was favourably received. This is the history of the Toy-Shop; and I shall always think myself happy in having wrote it, since it first produced me the favour and acquaintance of Mr. Pope." — R. DODSLEY.