1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Dodd

Anonymous, "Anecdote of the late Dr. Dodd" New York Magazine 6 (August 1795) 455-56.



I have just returned from Scotland. During my stay at Glasgow, I took up my residence at a friend's house, who, having a party to dinner on one of the days of my visit, in the afternoon we went upon the water; a brisk wind getting up, an elderly lady remarked, that she was once in real danger, and that the remembrance brought to her recollection of the late Dr. Dodd, of unfortunate memory.

This awakened our curiosity, and she informed us, that on her return from Margate, in one of the boats, in the year preceding the Doctor's imprisonment, which ended in his suffering for an offence against the violated laws of his country, the weather proved so rough and unfavourable, as to render their passage not only unpleasant, but rather dangerous. In this state of alarm to herself and other ladies on board, it was their good fortune to attract the notice of a gentleman whose good offices and pleasant manner created general admiration among the passengers.

The storm increasing, the ladies, greatly terrified, expressed their apprehensions of immediate danger. The gentleman made use of every argument that might tend to lessen their fears; and among other observations, evidently calculated to keep up their sinking spirits, he made use of the following: "Come, come, my good ladies, let me, once for all, make you assured of your safety, although at my own expence: — know, then, you are perfectly secure so long as you have me on board; for I candidly acknowledge that I am so unfortunate as to have the character of a very, very sad fellow; and you all know the proverb says, "he that's born for the rope, is safe from the water."

His remark (continued the lady) created a smile among us. The storm soon abated, and we were all in love with the stranger, for his delicacy, humanity, and cheering conversation. He remained unknown to us till we landed; when a person at the inn addressing him as Dr. Dodd, he said, "Now, ladies, the mischief's out; you know who I am, and I trust I shall see you again in another place." And it was our intention to see him again; but, alas! the next assembly gathered around him, beheld him — not a preacher of the GOSPEL — but a victim of the LAW.