1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Dodsley

Joseph Dennie, "Headnote to Life of Dodley" Port Folio [Philadelphia] 4 (4 February 1804) 35.



The life of Dodsley, like the life of Lackington, is memorable for a similarity of early adventure. Both were indigent, both obscure, but by economy, diligence, perseverance and enterprise, both rose to affluence and consideration. Both too, unsatisfied with selling books, aspired to the renown of composing them; and their volumes have instructed some, and amused more. Of Dodsley it certainly is no trivial praise that one of his earliest performances was written with so much felicity, and was at once so polished, and brilliant that the courtly Chesterfield, was the reputed author. His "Toy-shop" is replete with precious gems, and exhibits no French paste of factitious lustre. But the merit of Dodsley as an editor of good books and an encourager of literary merit is perhaps still greater, than as an author. His annual Register, whose editor was BURKE, his Preceptor for which JOHNSON wrote the elaborate preface and his collection of Poems, which contained some of the finest effusions of modern wit, are lasting monuments of his judgment and taste.