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be eminently useful to mankind, were it pursued with liberality and principle; not as a mere trader who will sell any thing to procure money, but as the enlightened dispenser of mental food to an enlightened people, the patron of merit and the friend of mankind.
But to return to the writings of Dodsley.
In the year 1738, he produced Sir John Cockle at Court, being the Sequel of The King and The Miller of Mansfield; and, in 1739, The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, of both of which I shall say more hereafter. In an advertisement following the title-page of The Blind Beggar, which was published in 1741, notice is given of a news-paper published by Dodsley, called The Public REGISTER: OR THE WEEKLY MAGAZINE, which was begun to be published on Saturday the 3d of January in that year, and was to be continued weekly. It was only extended to twenty-four numbers.
In 1741 Dodsley published A SELECT COLLECTION OF Old Plays in ten volumes 12mo. to which he prefixed by way of Preface, a short history of The Stage. To these he afterwards added two supplemental volumes. A second and improved edition of the work was published by Mr. Isaac Reed in 1780.
In 1745 he published a volume, which he entitled Trifles, which contained his former pieces, and also Rex et Pontifex, being an attempt to introduce upon the stage a new species of Pantomime. This piece is reprinted in Mr. Chalmers' edition of Dodsley's Poems. It is an allegorical representation of the triumph of Truth and Liberty over Superstition and Tyranny; and, as it was the year of the Rebellion, it had probably a political design. Such an exhibition is surely a more rational and useful entertainment than a Harlequin pantomime.
In 1746, he projected another periodical work, entitled The Museum, or The Literary and Historical Register, published every fortnight in an 8vo. size. The contributors were Spence, Horace Walpole, the two Wartons, Akenside, Lowth, Smart, Gilbert Cooper, William Whitehead, Merrick, and Campbell. This last wrote those political papers which he afterwards cole lected, enlarged and published, under the title of The Present State of Europe. The Museum extended to three volumes. The first number was pablished Saturday March 29, 1746, the last, the xxxixth. Saturday Sept. 12, 1717.
Dodsley was the first projector of The English Dic. tionary, for which Johnson published the Proposals in 1747. The Dictionary was published in 1755.
In 1748 Dodsley published The Preceptor : contain. ing A general Course of Education, in two volumes 8vo. Of this work Boswell, in his Life of Johnson (vol. I. p. 16.1.) says, “ Mr. Dodsley this year brought out his " PRECETTOR, one of the most valuable books for the 66 improvement of young minds that has appeared in any " language; and to this meritorious work Johnson fur.
nished - The Preface,' containing a general sketch of " the book, with a short and perspicuous recommenda. 66 tion of each article; as also, - The Vision of Theo“6 dore, the llermit, found in his Cell,' a most beautiful
allegory of human life, under the figure of ascending 66 the mountain of Existence. The Bishop of Dromore “ heard Dr. Johnson say, that he thought this was the " best thing he ever wrote.” This work is dedicated To his Royal Highness Prince GEORGE, our present beloved and afflicted Sovereign, then about ten years of age, and was probably the first work ever dedicated to him. The Preface is worthy of Johnson; those who have been concerned in teaching, and those who have in their early years been tied down to studies from which their minds revolted, will feel the justice of the following passage:
66 Every man, who has been engaged in teaching, 66 knows with how much difficulty youthful minds are 66 confined to close application, and how readily they “6 deviate to any thing, rather than attend to that which 66 is imposed as a task. That this disposition, when 66 it becomes inconsistent with the forms of educa. 66 tion, is to be checked, will readily be granted; but 66 since, though it may be in some degree obviated, it 6 cannot wholly be suppressed, it is surely rational to 6 turn it to advantage, by taking care that the mind 66 shall never want objects on which its faculties may be " usefully employed. It is not impossible, that this
restless desire of novelty, which gives so much trouble W to the teacher, may be often the struggle of the un66 derstanding starting from that, to which it is not by 66 nature adapted, and travelling in search of something 6 on which it may fix with greater satisfaction. For 66 without supposing each man, particularly marked out 66 by his genius for particular performances, it may be s6 easily conceived that when a numerous class of boys “ is confined indiscriminately to the same forms of com« position, the repetition of the same words, or the " explication of the same sentiments, the employment " must, either by nature or accident, be less suitable to " some than others; that the ideas to be contemplated, « may, be too difficult for the apprehension of one, and « too obvious for that of another : they may be such as « some understandings cannot reach, though others 66 look down upon them as below their regard. Every u mind in its progress through the different stages of 66 scholastic learning, must be often in one of these con“ ditions, must either flag with the labour, or grow 66 wanton with the facility of the work assigned; and in 66 either state it naturally turns aside from the track 66 before it. Weariness looks out for relief, and leisure " for employment, and surely it is rational to indulge " the wanderings of both. For the faculties which are “ too lightly burthened with the business of the day, 66 may with great propriety add to it some other en" quiry; and he that finds himself over-wearied by a 66 task, which perhaps, with all his efforts, he is not
able to perform, is undoubtedly to be justified in ad6 dicting himself rather to easier studies, and endeavour66 ing to quit that which is above his attainment, for that " which nature has not made him incapable of pursuing, 66 with advantage.”
On the treaty of Peace at Aix-la-Chapelle, Dodsley wrote The Triumph of Peace, a Masque, which was set to music by Dr. Arne, and performed at Drury-Lane in 1749. It was published in 4to.
In the year 1750, Dodsley published The Economy of Human Life, which professed to be translated from an Indian manuscript : but whether the author really intended it should be considered as genuine, may, I think, be doubted. It was at first attributed to Lord Chesterfield, to which circumstance it probably owed much of its celebrity at that time. It maintains, however, a respecto able place in the literary world, and is now considered as one of The English Classics. On account of this work not treating of the Christian Revelation, and on account of another work by our author, called The Chronicle of the Kings of England, written in imitation of the style of The Scriptures, Mrs. Trimmer, in her valuable book entitled The Guardian of Education, (Vol. I. p. 68 and 455.) has ranked Dodsley amongst the infidel writers. There is certainly much justice in the objections which Mrs. T. has made to these works; but, still, it must be recollected with respect to The Economy of Human Life, that the dressing up moral instruction in an Eastern dress was the fashion of the greater part of the last century; even Addison, who was a sincere believer, and wrote upon The Evidences of Christianity, has given into this custom in some of his papers in The Spectator. I have myself had occasion already to find fault with one of them, (see Vol. II. p. 176. Note.) and the late excellent Jones of Nayland, in his Letters from a Tutor to his Pupils (see his Works in 12 vols. 8vo. Vol. XI. L. V. p. 240.) has shewn how unfriendly such writings are to Christianity. Having quoted the passage before in my Discourses on the stage, (p. 175.) I shall not now repeat it. However improper, therefore, I may consider such writings, I cannot but think our author innocent of any intended attack upon Christianity, or even of any disrespect towards it. Perhaps it was owing to this deficiency in Dodsley's book, that Dr. Dodd published, in 1754, THE CHRISTIAN : Economy. Translated from the Original Greek of
an Old Manuscript found in the Island of Patmos, where St. John wrote his Book of The Revelation. The author probably did not really intend to impose upon the world, especially if we consider the work as a sequel to Dodsley's; yet, still, such half attempts at deceit, are of a doubtful nature, if not of a decidedly bad influence upon veracity,* Numbers 51 and 57 of The Adventurer contain extracts from a supposed or fictitious manuscript by Longinus on the sublime.
In 1751, Dodsley began to publish his Collection of Poems by Several Hands, which at length extended to six volumes, in 12mo. The fifth edition was published 1758. There have been editions printed also in 1766, 1774, and 1782. This is the last edition and was edited by Mr. Isaac Reed. Some of Dodsley's own poems were published at the end of the third volume.
In 1753 Dodsley began to publish T'he World, of which mention has been made in the Life of Moore. (See Vol. I. p. 4.) Of this work No. 32 was written by Dodsley.
In 1754 + he published in 4to, the first book of a poem on Public Virtue, which treated of Agricul. ture. It was to have consisted of three books, and the other two were to have been on Commerce and The Arts, but they were never published. Agriculture is re-published in his Miscellanies. The Poem is dedicated
• Io a copy of this work, which belonged to the late Mr. Parkhurst of Epsom, is the following note, in his own hand writing : -" This Book was not translated from an antient Manuscript as. “ alleged in the Preface or Iotroduction and Title-page, but writ. " ten by William Dodd, M.A. afterwards Chaplain to his Majesty " King George the Third.
" This note I thought proper to place here to prevent dangerous W misapprehensions.
Joan PARKHURST.” + It was in this year that Dodsley took his brother into partnere ship, for in the title to the second edition of The Preceptor, printed in 1754, it is said “ Printed for R. Dodsley." But in the title to the second edition of DEFORMITY: an Essay. By William Hay, Esq; published in the same year also, it is said " Prioted for R. and J. * Dodsley."