1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Dodd

Robert Southey, in Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) 3:133-34.



Dodd's was a life of thoughtlessness and extravagance, and he paid dearly for all his faults in the conclusion of it. Courage at an earlier period, to have met the evils he brought upon himself, might have saved him from the last and most terrible one. Had he lived an economist he might have died honourably. Yet, let him have his due; and his claim is not small — Many were reclaimed from vice and many relieved from wretchedness by his labours. Who derived advantage from his death? When one reads his pathetick appeals for mercy, at his trial, and in the Prison-thoughts, one is tempted to ask if the hearts to which they were made were human, or ever knew what it was to err? But it was an appeal to Avarice under the name of Justice: and at a tribunal, where property is of more value than the life of man, such an appeal is not likely to be heard. The advertisement prefixed to the MS. of the Prison-thoughts, concludes with a remarkable break, more impressive than the most finished rhetorick. "The thinking will easily pardon all inaccuracies, as I am neither able nor willing to read over these melancholy lines with a curious and critical eye. They are imperfect, but the language of the heart; and had I time and inclination, might and should be improved. But——