A Note on the Publication: Dodsley's Fables
Maxwell C. Shay
The fable is a literary medium that, in the case of Aesop's works, has existed since the 5th century BC. The fable provides wonderful metaphors that shed deep light upon the world around us, and also relate humorous situation that entertain us. Thus, they are a curious combination of humor and philosophical merit. Countless authors have written their own original fables (such as Joel Chandler Harris, mid 1800s) or adaptions of other classic fables (such as Jean de La Fontaine, 1600s), yet others, such as Robert Dodsley, have vanished into to past. The fact that Robert Dodsley's "Fables designed for the instruction and entertainment of youth" faded into the foggy past, however, is a very curious situation because, in his own time, Dodsley was a renowned author, respected publisher, and successful book-seller.
When we (me and my publishing group; including Sabrina Stone, Jay Judah, and Trevor Gloss) stumbled across Dodsley's fables (on Google books), it was hard to believe that they were not in current print. Dodsley's Select Collection of Old Plays and A collection of Poems by Several Hands, his most famous pieces, are relatively well known, and at first, we could find no other mention of Dodsley even writing these fables. After searching further, we discovered a mention of the fables in "Benedict: Making the Modern Reader - Chapter 4 pgrph 64". Although Dodsley mostly wrote in verse, as Jay Judah mentions in "The Life of the Author and a Note on the Text", "Dodsley gave up on verse and focused on what would become his secret project, his masterwork...in a letter written to the poet William Shenstone, he does reveal his secret. 'I am at present,' he says, 'writing from Aesop and others, an hundred select Fables in prose, for the use of schools; we having no book of that kind fit to put into the hands of youth, from the wretched manner in which they are written.'" At this point we were not yet 100% sure if we were going to re-publish these fables, but when we discovered his passionate intent for his work, we decided to look further, and analyze the "execution" of his "masterpiece". In our initial readings of his fables, the most striking feature was Dodsley's separation of fable and moral. Instead of having each moral preceded by a fable, Dodsley chose to include his intended morals in a separate appendix. To me, this is important for two reasons. Firstly, by separating Fable from moral, the reader is not forced into a sociological mindset. Think of it this way: if, when reading, you know that you are going to come across a very definite moral that may or may not exist within a context that is relative to you, then no matter what deeper meaning you take from this story, you will be peg-holed into conforming your opinion to those of the "all knowing author." As an example, take Dodsley's "Prometheus." I understood this fable to show how ignorance (in this case, of the future) is truly blissful, and hope is society's source of happiness. Had I read this story and found the moral following the fable (yes, the moral follows the fable on the website, but I will explain that later) whatever deeper meaning that my mind was pondering would be lost as the gusty wind of intended meaning blew in. In the end, it is a very simple addition that I take great pleasure in, and it, in combination with Dodsley's interesting background, heavily influenced our decision towards re-publishing these fables. Now that we had selected a set of fables, we had to extract specific fables that sufficiently represented Dodsley's education intentions.
In our analysis, we felt that Dodsley's writing encompassed six moral archetypes: Fables citing the joys of simplicity, fables warning against making assumptions, fables citing the ills of greed, fables where the weaker becomes the stronger, fables in which things are not as they appear, and fables citing the values and dangers of consideration. These are all moral archetypes that exist and are pertinent in the world today, and as well serve to better the "instruction and entertainment of youth," just as Dodsley intended. For each moral archetype we selected two specific stories that duly represented Dodsley's writing. You can view all twelve of these fables below. Why we chose to re-publish them in an internet medium is the next topic of this introduction.
Choosing to re-publish these fables on a web-site was not done whimsically. There are two very strong publication advantages the world wide web gives you, that no other medium can. Firstly, it is nearly free. Regardless of this website originally being a class assignment (were I to re-publish any given literary work professionally I would go about it exactly the same way I went about this), the fact that the internet can be accessed, used, and published on for free means that one can re-publish without needing to find a printing or advertising solution. Because publishing and advertising itself it very expensive, re-publication requires that said publication will generate a profit. No matter the merit of the works, if a profit cannot be reached the work will not be re-published. On sites such as blogspot (that hosts this exact post!), re-publication can be done for free, and can be accessed by anyone, from anywhere. If an internet re-publication garners enough interest to be worthy of true publication, wonderful! The publisher has tested the waters safely, discerned accurately that they can make a profit, and then the once forgotten author/literary work has been restored to the critical acclaim they/it always deserved. Secondly, as I just mentioned, the re-publication can be accessed by anyone from anywhere. So, even if a lost work is not a literary jewel, having the work re-published in a modern medium means the opportunity to reference lost sources increases exponentially, and thus gives everyone, from scholar to child, a chance to create their own opinions of these discrete and hidden works. The layout of the web-page is also precisely defined for re-publishing. By giving a history of the author on the main page a context is created for these fables. Reiterating from what I said earlier, one determining point for choosing these fables was the history of the author. It only makes sense to show everyone what we saw as most important, first. The sidebar on the left allows a visitor to navigate through the fables quickly and effectively by guiding them to information about the re-publishers, to the fables themselves, to the moral archetypes, to our analytical essay (by Trevor Gloss), as well as to publication notes (I.E credits). Since the reader will see the sidebar (usually) second (after the author's essay), he/she will want to quickly access to all of the site's functions. The actual design and layout within the "about us", "analytical essay", "publication notes", and "the original", are of little importance, they exist to inform, and are not there to draw an average "site-goer" in. The format of our fables(Specifically, where to place the morals), had portray the author's intentions, and was the most debated part of the entire project.
The analysis of these morals, and decision to publish in an internet medium with original illustrations, went along very smoothly. But, when we went to format the selected fables, we needed to decide how/where to place the morals. As I mentioned earlier, an important part of selecting Dodsley's works was the idea of morals separate from fables. If you look at the fable of "The Sensitive plant and the Thistle"(For Example), you will notice that the moral is hidden from view(click on "Moral" and it pops up), but still follows the fable itself. I strongly advocated for moving the morals onto a separate page, however, the group compromised and, for convenience and reference sake, we decided to "hide" the morals just below the story itself. In this way, the reader is not pigeon-holed into an opinion about what he/she just read, but instead has an opportunity to see the author's intended meaning of the reading.
When it comes right down to it I, along with our group, enjoyed this project. We had the chance to read and experience literary works that we would never have stumbled across on our own. One thing that caught my eye, as we were reading through other very discrete texts, was the sheer number of un-recognized works that, I realized, must be floating around the world. The fact of the matter is, there are countless works out there that will never be recognized. Even with the boom of the internet and the availability to republish literary works "at will," we can never hope to uncover everything. I suppose, for me, the most rewarding part of this exercise, along with the reason for my desire to publish beyond latte, was knowing that I was helping put someone's long worked literary passion into existence once again. I think that we all can agree that one of the most important themes that our world should revolve around is to "give credit where credit is due," and I feel that this project accurately accomplished that theme. Continue reading this post for "The Life of the Author and a Note on the Text" by Jay Judah, and to read the twelve selected fables, each preceded by an introduction and illustrations by Sabrina Stone, an analysis by Trevor Gloss, and followed by an appendix containing each fable's moral (Just as Dodsley had intended).
The Life of the Author and a Note on the Text
At the funeral of Robert Dodsley, a prominent English bookseller-turned-publisher-turned-author, the Shakespearean commentator Isaac Reed had the following to say: "It was his happiness to pass the greater part of his life with those whose names will be revered by posterity." Dodsley was the 1700's British literary circle's equivalent of Forrest Gump - the man who, without entirely meaning to, stumbles across some of history's most profound moments, finding himself in the right time, at the right position, in any given point in time. He introduced the public to some of the most prominent authors of his day - Dr. Johnson, Edmunde Burke, Defoe and Pope. His name, as publisher and editor, preceded the titles of some of the era's masterworks - and yet, while the work he published lives on, many have forgotten about the man himself. Dodsley never set out to attain that particular state in life. Born outside Nottinghamshire some time in 1703, Dodsley would try his hand at weaving, teaching and at being a footman before finally stumbling across what would make him a very wealthy - and famous, albeit forgettable - man.
His first work, titled Servitude: A Poem written by a Footman, was published in 1729 at the age of 26, and came attached with a note on the text by Daniel Defoe, noted journalist, spy and author who had attained fame with his publication of Robinson Crusoe ten years prior. This work awarded Dodsley a degree of fame and a following amongst the wealthy British upperclass, who granted him enough patronage to publish a follow up collection in a subscription format, titled A Muse in Livery, or, The Footman's Miscellany. With money earned from patronage and sales, as well as money borrowed from friends he made while moving in literary circles (as legend has it, a hundred pounds borrowed from Alexander Pope) Dodsley established himself as a bookseller at Tully's Head in Westminster, London.
From there, it was a logical leap to publishing original works, often sourced by Dodsley from his friends in highly esteemed literary circles - his first publication was Samuel Johnson's London, and many of Johnson's early works, as well as his English Dictionary, were co-financed and published by Dodsley himself. Besides publishing a great number of works, Dodsley founded literary magazines and served as editor, publisher and, to a degree, literary agent. He solicited his friends and other noted authors of the time for submissions, and spanning twenty years and four wholly unique periodicals (one of which continued for quite some time after Dodsley's death) featured work by Edmunde Burke, Lord Lyttleton, Lord Chesterfield and other notable names.
Dodsley continued his work on the periodicals while simultaneously assembling a number of well-received collections of poetry, dramatic works, short story and fable. Shortly after the publication of his best-received dramatic work Cleone (which held a long running in Convent Garden and sold over 2000 copies on its first day in print), Dodsley gave up on verse and focused on what would become his secret project, his masterwork. By 1757, he had become ill with gout, and was often struck with frequent attacks. Not until October 10th, 1758, in a letter written to the poet William Shenstone, does he reveal his secret. "I am at present," he says, "writing from Aesop and others, an hundred select Fables in prose, for the use of schools; we having no book of that kind fit to put into the hands of youth, from the wretched manner in which they are written." Over a summer spent at Durham, Dodsley wrote between forty and fifty original fables, which he proudly showed off to his literary friends, and garnered much praise. That fall, while focusing on writing a play, Dodsley wrote a further forty fables as idle distractions. His mission statement, as he puts it to Shenstone: "Indeed, we have no Collection of Fables in prose, that are fit to be read; and as the are amongst the first things that are put into the hands of young people, were they judiciously chosen, well told, in a Style concise & clear, & at the same time so plainly couch'd in the Narrative as to need no detach'd explanatory Moral at the end, I think it might possibly be a useful & acceptable work, and not altogether unentertaining."
The collection took an agonizingly long time for Dodsley to polish, refine and eventually print. Says Shenstone to a friend, explaining Dodsley's delay: "As to Dodsley's publishing this winter, he may possibly do so without loss of credit; but when one considers that [Dodsley's collection of fables] are, or ought to be, the standard for years to come, one can hardly avoid wishing him to give them the polish of another summer." After much revision and editing - and contributions from Shenstone, among others - and a few short years away from his untimely death, Dodsley published the first edition of his collected Fables, which sold out at an astonishing pace. Mere days after the publication of the first edition, Dodsley discusses the possibility of a second and even a third edition, which he would go on to write, edit and publish. Shenstone, in letters, truly believes in Dodsley's vision - that this collection, for the information and entertainment of youth, will live on to be taught for decades to come.
Why Dodsley, and his masterwork, have faded into obscurity, only time knows. His name lives on as a footnote on the lives of the authors he inspired, aided or recruited, famed and made wealthy, befriended and harrowed.
Dead and buried in Durham, Dodsley's tombstone bears the inscription:
If you have any respect
for uncommon industry and merit,
regard this place,
in which are deposited the remains of
MR. ROBERT DODSLEY:
who, as an author, raised himself
much above what could have been expected
from one in his rank of life,
and without a learned education:
and who, as a man, was scarce
by any in integrity of heart,
and purity of manners and conversation.
He left this life for a better,
Sept. 25. 1764,
in the 61st year of his age.
The collection we have chosen to republish, titled Fables Designed for the Instruction and Entertainment of Youth, stands as the 58 best fables spanning all three of Dodsley's collections of fables. Oddly enough, this collection of English stories is published in Paris in 1800, cited within the text as the Eighth Year of the French republic. It is published for two specific Parisian booksellers, also cited in the text: Vergani and Favre. This collection follows Dodsley's original choice of separating the fable from the moral - the only morals contained within this edition exist in an index found at the collection's end, which also serves as the only index for the content therewithin. It is our goal to republish a selection of fables from this collection in a searchable context for the modern reader, and to highlight the exemplary work of a man who, for all intents and purposes, is lost to history.
Introductions by Sabrina Stone
Analysis by Trevor Gloss
Fables Citing the Joys of Simplicity
Analysis: "He endowed him with all the faculties that are to be found amongst animal creation... to subdue them all..." (Dodsley 26). In Prometheus, Dodsley makes the titan the creator of all man and also the reason for his superiority. In the counter fable however Zeus (Jupiter) gives man folly, one of his largest failings. Prometheus is indeed marked for returning fire to man and with it the ability to progress, yet the deeds attributed to him here are usually given to Zeus. By their actions, Dodsley is portraying Zeus as a whimsical and harmful force while Prometheus is the benign life bringer. Traditionally both are found in Jupiter. Why then does the author make such a change? In Christianity, Dodsley's religion, Zeus is a heathen god and akin to the Devil and therefore he too must take on those destructive tendencies. Prometheus is the enemy of Zeus just as the enemy of God is the Devil and so becomes his polar opposite. With this mode of thought, good and evil are cleanly divided which would suggest that the author also saw the world in black and white.
Intro: In Prometheus, Prometheus endowed man with infinite skills with which to build a future and to choose his own path. But once man discovered that the future was set, that it was bleak and filled with struggle, he was overwhelmed with misery and saw no point in carrying on. Prometheus fixed this by taking away man's prescience and enabling him to enjoy the immediacy of life.
The Fable: Prometheus formed man of the finest clay, and animated his work with fire stolen from Heaven. He endowed him with all the faculties that are to be found amongst the animal creation: he gave him the courage of the Lion, the subtlety of the Fox, the providence of the Ant, and the industry of the Bee; and he enabled him, by the superiority of his understanding, to subdue them all, and to make them subservient to his use and pleasure. He discovered to him the metals hidden in the bowels of the earth, and shewed(sic) him their several uses. He instructed him in every thing that might tend to cultivate and civilize human life; he taught him to till the ground, and to improve the fertility of Nature; to build houses, to cover himself with garments, and to defend himself against the inclemencies of the air and the seasons; to compound medicines of salutary herbs, to heal wounds, and to cure diseases; to construct ships, to cross the seas, and to communicate to every country the riches of all. In a word, he endued him with sense and memory, with sagacity and invention, with art and science; and to crown all, he gave him an insight into futurity. But, alas! This latter gift, instead of improving, wholly destroyed the proper effect of all the former. Furnished with the means and instruments of happiness, Man nevertheless was miserable: though the knowledge and dread of future evil, he was incapable of enjoying present good. Prometheus saw, and immediately resolved to remedy this inconvenience: he effectually restored Man to a capacity of happiness, by depriving him of prescience, and giving him hope in its stead.
II. Jupiter's Lottery
Intro: When Minerva won the grand gift of wisdom in Jupiter's Lottery, the humans, having lost out and imagining they could never gain wisdom by their own merit, were furious. In retaliation, Jupiter gave them folly, which made them happier than knowledge ever could have.
The Fable: Jupiter, in order to please mankind, directed Mercury to give notice that he had established a Lottery, in which there were no blanks; and that, amongst a variety of other valuable chances, Wisdom was the highest prize. It was Jupiter’s command, that in this Lottery some of the gods should also become adventurers. The tickets being disposed of, and the wheels placed, Mercury was employed to preside at the drawing. It happened that the best prize fell to Minerva: upon which a general murmur ran through the assembly, and hints were thrown out that Jupiter had used some unfair practices to secure this desirable lot to his daughter. Jupiter, that he might at once both punish and silence these impious clamors of the human race, presented them with Folly in the place of Wisdom; with which they went away perfectly well contented. And from that time the greatest Fools have always looked upon themselves as the wisest men.
Fables Warning Against Making Assumptions
Analysis: The appearance is always first judged upon a new encounter for it only takes an instant to observe another being or object. It is the character that takes time to delve into - as is only right for the layers of a persona are much more varied than a layer of skin. In The Diamond and the Loadstone the chastising loadstone rebukes the gem, "I look upon you with pleasure and surprise: but I must be convinced that you are of some sort of use, before I acknowledge that that you have any real merit, or treat you with that respect which you seem to demand" (Dodsley 38).
The magnet tells of the ways he has changed the world despite his humble appearance and forces the diamond to confront the truth. A simple luster could not improve sea navigation or connect the world or have the same influence. A form is nothing without the character to fill it.
The Parrot's meaning illustrates the same point, but here Dodsley decides to take a different approach with the same lesson. The widower picks the "philosophical bird" as it would seem to have the greatest inner value, despite the display of the other birds (Dodsley 104). The man makes an assumption not based on physical appearance but on the mentality portrayed, on the inner working that he cannot really see. With the additional tale of The Parrot the author makes it clear that the only way to judge a person is after careful time has been spent in their company.
III. The Parrot
Intro: In The Parrot, a widower buys a parrot based on his tagline, "I think the more." Though this phrase indicates inner value and intelligence, it is no proof of such.
The Fable: A certain widower, in order to amuse his solitary hours, and in some measure supply the conversation of his departed helpmate of loquacious memory, determined to purchase a Parrot. With this view he applied to a dealer in birds, who showed him a large collection of Parrots or various kinds. Whilst they were exercising their talkative talents before him, one repeating the cries of the town, another asking for a cup of sack, and a third bawling out for a coach, he observed a green Parrot, perched in a thoughtful manner at a distance upon the foot of a table: And so you, my grace gentleman, said he, are quite silent. To which the Parrot replied, like a philosophical bird, “I think the more.” Pleased with this sensible answer, our widower immediately paid down his price, and took home the bird, conceiving great things from a creature who had given so striking a specimen of his parts. But after having instructed him during a whole month, he found, to his great disappointment, that he could get nothing more from him than the fatiguing repetition of the same dull sentence, “I think the more.” I find, said he, in great wrath, that thou art a most invincible fool: and then time more a fool; was I, for having formed a favorable opinion of thy abilities upon no better foundation than an affected solemnity.
IV. The Diamond and the Loadstone
Intro: The Diamond in The Diamond and the Loadstone makes assumptions about the worth of the loadstone based on its outward appearance. This, also, is an insufficient indicator of total value.
The Fable: A Diamond of great beauty and lustre, observing not only many other gems of a lower class ranged together with him in the same cabinet, but a Loadstone likewise placed not far from him, began to question the latter how he came there; and what pretensions he had to be ranked among the precious stones: he, who appeared to be no better than a mere flint: a sorry, coarse, rusty-looking pebble without any the least shining quality to advance him to such an honour; and concluded with desiring him to keep his distance, and pay a proper respect to his superiors.
"I find", said the Loadstone, "you judge by external appearances; and it is your interest, that others should form their judgement by the same rule. I must own I have nothing to boast of in that respect; but I may venture to say, that I make amends for my outward defects, by my inward qualities/ The great improvement of navigation in these latter ages is intirely(sic) owing to me. It is owing to me, that the distant parts of the world are known and accessible to each other; that the remotest nations are connected together, and all in a manner united into one common society; that by a mutual intercourse they relieve one another's wants, and all enjoy the same blessings peculiar to each> Great Britain is indebted to me for her wealth, her splendor,and her power; and the arts and sciences are in a great measure obliged to me for their late improvements, and their continual increase. I am willing to allow you your due praise in its full extent; you are a very pretty bawble; I am mightily delighted to see you glitter and sparkle; I look upon you with pleasure and surprise; but I must be convinced that you are of some sort of use, before I acknowledge that you have any real merit, or treat you with that respect which you seem to demand."
Fables Citing the Ills of Greed
Analysis: In these tales Dodsley chooses to explore the fragility and subjectivity of happiness, and how they are interconnected. In The Boy and the Butterfly, a young child is chasing after a colorful butterfly attempting to catch it as it lands on each flower. Finally, in a fit of impatience, the boy grabs a tulip and crushes the insect in it. The fable reads: "The dying insect, seeing the poor boy somewhat chagrined at his disappointment, addressed him with all the calmness of a stoic, in the following manner: - Behold now the end of they unprofitable solicitude ! and learn, for the benefit of thy future life, that all pleasure is but a painted butterfly; which, although it may serve to amuse thee in the pursuit, if embraced with too much ardour, will perish in thy grasp (Dodsley 53).From the brutal end of the butterfly comes the realization that joy is indeed fleeting, and that it is only by observing it and not smothering it that happiness is kept. Dodsley wanted the reader to ponder this thought and apply the lesson to life. Take enjoyment as it comes and then allow it to pass on so that it may come again. In The Peacock the author warns again what happens if it is grasped. Juno (Hera) grants the peacock its long train of feather after it so asks for them. Yet, his new garments restrict him from flying and whereas he believed their beauty would have put him above all birds, they instead take away his quality of being a bird - his ability to fly. The peacock's idea of happiness proves to be not what he truly desired, and so he loses his bliss. The tales show that care is needed in dealing with the good as well as the bad.
V. The Boy and the Butterfly
Intro: The Boy and the Butterfly is a rather straightforward tale. The boy chases after the butterfly because it is so beautiful and ephemeral, but, in doing so, he brings its death. The story is a perfect depiction of the idea that if you love something, you set it free.
The Fable: A Boy, greatly smitten with the colours of a Butterfly, pursued it from flower to flower with indefatigable pains. First he aimed to surprise it among the leaves of a rose; then to cover it with his hat, as it was feeding on a daisy; now hoped to secure it, as it rested on a sprig of myrtle; and now grew sure of his prize, perceiving it loiter on a bed of violets. But the fickle Fly, continually changing one blossom for another, still eluded his attempts. At length, observing it half buried in the cup of a tulip, he rushed forward, and snatching it with violence, crushed it all to pieces. The dying insect, seeing the poor Boy somewhat chagrined at his disappointment, addressed him with all the calmness of a stoic, in the following manner: --Behold, now the end of thy unprofitable solicitude! and learn, for the benefit of thy future life, that all pleasure is but a painted Butterfly; which, although it may serve to amuse thee in the pursuit, if embraced with too much ardour, will perish in thy grasp.
Intro: The Peacock is another story of reaching for something that you shouldn't have. A peacock wants to be more beautiful that every other bird, so he requests to be honored with a train. Juno concedes, but in gaining the train, the peacock loses his ability to fly.
The Fable: The Peacock, who at first was distinguished only by a crest of feathers, preferred a petition to Juno that he might be honoured also with a train. As the bird was a particular favourite, Juno readily enough assented; and his train was ordered to surpass that of every fowl in the creation. The Minion, conscious of his superb appearance, thought it requisite to assume a proportionable dignity of gait and manners. The common Poultry of the farm-yard were quite astonished at his magnificence; and even the Pheasants themselves beheld him with an eye of envy. -- But when he attempted to fly, he perceived himself to have sacrificed all his activity to ostentation; and that he was encumbered by the pomp in which he placed his glory.
Fables Where the Weaker Becomes the Stronger
Analysis: Prudence and care should indeed be taken in all endeavors, but at times this idea of consequences is forgotten. When the stories of the crocodile and the caterpillar are paired, it seems that Dodsley intended to re-teach the notion of caution while imparting a new amendment to the moral. In The Tentyrites and the Ichneumon, the crocodile grows and terrorizes after hatching. Dodsley writes, "Imboldened by success, and the terror which prevailed wherever he appeared, he ventured to carry his incursions even into the island of Tentyra, and to brave the people, who boast themselves the only tamers of his race" (Dodsley 61). What is key to the tale though, is the Ichneumon who later remarks that he always prevents the evil of the crocodile by breaking its eggs. The crocodile has undergone a class change from its pre-hatched state to its present terrifying state. The caterpillar also transforms into its butterfly form in The Ant and the Caterpillar. Both rise up to a new level that demands respect from those that previously scorned them. The author wishes to introduce the reader to forethought when dealing with those that may one day pass you.
VII. The Tentyrites & The Ichneumon
Intro: In The Tentyrites and the Ichneumon, a crocodile murderously rampages through a town and the townspeople are at a loss as to how to approach the situation. An Ichneumon tells them that the problem is now theirs, but that if they had not underestimated the crocodile to begin with and had killed it in its shell, as he does, they would have prevented the current disaster.
The Fable: A Crocodile of prodigious size, and uncommon fierceness, infested the banks of the Nile, and spread desolation through all the neighboring country. He seized the Shepherd, together with the Sheep, and devoured the Herdsman as well as the Cattle. Emboldened by success, and the terror which prevailed wherever he appeared, he ventured to carry his incursions even into the island of Tentyra, and to brave the people, who boast themselves the only tamers of his race. The Tentyrites themselves were struck with horror at the appearance of a monster so much more terrible than they had ever seen before: even the boldest of them dared not to attack him openly; and the most experienced long endeavoured with all their art and address to surprise him, but in cain. As they were consulting together, what they should do in these circumstances, and Ichneumon stepped forth, and thus addressed them:
"I perceive your distress, neighbors; and though I cannot assist you in the present difficulty, yet give me leave to offer you some advice that may be of use to you for the future. A little prudence is worth all your courage: it may be glorious to overcome a great evil, but the wisest way is to prevent. You despise the Crocodile while he is small and weak; and do not sufficiently consider, that he is a long-lived animal, so 'tis his peculiar property to grow as long as he lives. You see I am a poor, little, feeble creature; yet am I much more terrible to the Crocodile, and more useful to the country, than you are. I attack him in the egg; and while you are contriving for months together, how to get the better of one Crocodile, and all to no purpose, I effectually destroy fifty of them in a day."
VIII. The Ant and the Caterpillar
Intro: The Ant and the Caterpillar is another story of neglect. An ant sees a caterpillar in its slow, furry state and mocks it viciously due to its inadequacies. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly and is then able to scold the ant for being uppity and unkind.
The Fable: As a Caterpillar was advancing very slowly along one of the alleys of a beautiful garden, he was met by a pert lively Ant, who tossing up her head with a scornful air, cried, "Prithee get out of the way, thou poor creeping animal, and do not presume to obstruct the paths of they superiors, by wriggling along the road, and besmearing the walks appropriated to their footsteps. Poor creature! Thou lookest like a thing half made, which Nature not liking, threw by unfinished. I could almost pity thee, methinks; but it is beneath one of my quality to talk to such mean creatures as thou art: and so, poor crawling wretch, adieu."
The humble Caterpillar, struck dumb with this disdainful language, retired, went to work, wound himself up in a silken cell, and at appointed time came out a beautiful Butterfly. Just as he was sallying forth, he observed the scornful Ant passing by, "Proud insect, said he, stop a moment, and learn from the circumstances in which you now see me, never to despise any one for that condition in which Providence has thought fit to place him; as there is none so mean, but may one day, either in this state or in a better, be exalted above those who looked down upon him with unmerited contempt."
Fables in Which Things are Not as They Appear
Analysis: The Tulip and the Rose is the fable of a tulip, jealous of the attention the gardener confers upon the rose. Here the man tending the flowers chastises the tulip, remarking that it is not due to the rose being more beautiful but its fragrance - its character. The Monster in the Sun on the other had tells the tale of a scientist's mistaken discovery. In this story, Dodsley writes, "...the fault perhaps is not in the object, but in the mind of the observer," (Dodsley 43). Both fables clearly follow the idea presented here. It is the fault of the tulip that she is envious and not that of the gardener or rose. It is the tulip that believes she is more beautiful and worthwhile. The scientist discovers a giant space creature in The Monster in the Sun and it is because he wants to find something there, he wants to be famous, he wants to be justified in thinking highly of himself. He was wrong in his assumption because of his perceptions.
With this story of a giant monster, Dodsley also introduces a new idea into his moral works. Here, he begins to ask the question of how objective the senses really are. The scientist sees a sun beast and believes it is there. How much of science is based on this same type of analysis? Sight, sound, touch, and taste are all subjective and so what science teaches may be incorrect. The mind only has the senses to impart 'truth.' Perhaps from asking these questions, the author found the importance of analyzing something from all sides.
IX. The Tulip & The Rose
Intro: The tulip in The Tulip and the Rose is convinced that, because her beauty is equal to that of the rose, her treatment should also be equal. Her treatment is not bad, just lesser than that of the rose, due to her lack of other positive attributes.
The Fable: A tulip and a Rose happened to be near neighbours in the same garden. They were both indeed extremely beautiful: yet the Rose engaged considerably more than an equal share of the Gardener's attention. Enamoured, as in truth he was, of the delicious odour is diffused, he appeared, in the eye of the Tulip, to be always kissing and caressing it. The envy and jealousy of rival beauties are easily to be concealed. The Tulip, vain of its external charms, and unable to bear the thought of being forsaken for another, remonstrated in these words against the Gardener's partiality.
"Why are my beauties thus neglected? Are not my colours more bright, more various, and more inviting, than any which that red-faced Thing has to display? Why then is she to engross your whole affection, and thus for ever to be preferred?"
"Be not dissatisfied," said the Gardener; "I acknowledge thy beauties, and admire them as they deserve. But there are found in my favourite Rose such attractive odours, such internal charms, that I enjoy a banquet in their fragrance, which no mere beauty can pretend to furnish."
X. The Monster in the Sun
Intro: The "monster" in The Monster in the Sun is no more than a fly stuck in a telescope, pointed at the sun. But every scientist until the last one is fooled by this visual trick even though, upon further reflection, the existence of a giant monster inhabiting the majority of the surface of the sun is not feasible.
The Fable: An astronomer was observing the Sun thro' a telescope, in order to take an exact draught of the several spots which appear upon the face of it. While he was intent upon his observations, he was on a sudden surprised with a new and astonishing appearance; a large portion of the surface of the Sun was at once covered by a Monster of enormous size, and horrible form; it had an immense pair of wings, a great number of legs, and a long and vast proboscis; and that it was alive, was very apparent, from its quick and violent motions, which the observer could from time to time plainly perceive. Being sure of the facet (for how could he be mistaken in what he saw so clearly?) our Philosopher began to draw many surprising conclusions from premises so well established. He calculated the magnitude of this extraordinary animal, and found that he covered about two square degrees of the Sun's surface; that placed upon the earth he would spread over half one hemisphere of it; and that he was sever or eight times as big as the Moon. But what was most astonishing, was the prodigious heat that he must endure: it was plain that he was something of the nature of the Salamander, but of a far more fiery temperament: for it was demonstrable from the clearest principles, that in his present situation he must have acquired a degree of heat two thousand times that of red-hot iron. It was a problem worth considering, whether he subsisted upon the gross vapours of the Sun, and so from time to time cleared away those spots which they are perpetually forming and which would otherwise wholly obscure and incrustate its face; or whether it might not feed on the solid substance of the orb itself, which, by this means, together with the constant expence(sic) of light, must soon be exhausted and consumed; Or whether he was not now and then supplied by the falling of some excentric(sic) Comet into the Sun. However this might be, he found by computation that the earth would be but short allowance for him for a few months: and farther, it was no improbable conjecture, that as the earth was destined to be destroyed by fire, this fiery flying Monster would remove hither at the appointed time, and might much more easily and conveniently effect a conflagration, that any Comet hitherto provided for that service. In the earnest pursuit of these, and many the like deep and curious speculations, the Astronomer was engaged, and and was preparing to communicate them to the public. In the mean time, the discovery began to be much talked of; and all the virtuosi gathered together to see so strange a sight. They were equally convinced of the accuracy of the observation, and of the conclusions so clearly deduced from it. At last, one, more cautious than the rest, was resolved, before he gave a full assent to the report of his senses, to examine the whole process of the affair, and all the parts of the instrument; he opened the telescope, and behold! A small Fly was inclosed in it, which having settled on the center of the object-glass, had given occasion to all this marvellous(sic) Theory.
How often do men, through prejudice and passion, through envy and malice, fix upon the brightest and most exalted character the grossest and most improbable imputations? It behoves us upon our guard, and to suspend our judgments; the fault perhaps is not in the object, but in the mind of the observer.
Fables Citing the Values or Dangers of Consideration
Analysis: In the early 1900's a person's conduct spoke lengths about their character. It was with this in mind that Dodsley must have written Love and Folly and The Sensitive Plant and the Thistle. Both tales stress the importance of polite social interaction. For example, the fable of Love and Folly suggests that the two gods did indeed love each other, although Folly may not have known how to best show it. Zeus sentenced them to wander the earth together endlessly, an unfit punishment if their crime was love. A passage from the story reads, "Jupiter, willing to clear the heavens of such troublesome company, called both parties before him, and inquired into their conduct," (Dodsley 51). Jupiter disciplined the two solely for the disturbance they created in heaven. On a much smaller scale, the thistle was also thrown away for its disturbance in the garden. In Olympia and the garden, places of tranquility, something demanding care and attention through an offensive presence would not be allowed. Love, Folly, and the thistle were discarded quickly in the attempt to return to the status quo as rapidly as possible. Those that stood back quietly like the sensitive plant were left unscathed and also somewhat protected.
Intro: In The Sensitive-Plant and the Thistle, the thistle is inconsiderate and abrasive. He asks why the sensitive plant is contrastingly quiet and reserved. As he is asking that, a gardener comes along weeding and pulls the thistle out of the ground. The sensitive plant's modesty served to save her life.
Fable: A thistle happened to spring up very near to a Sensitive-Plant. The former observing the extreme bashfulness and delicacy of the latter, addressed her in the following manner.
"Why are you so modest and reserved, my good neighbour(sic), as to withdraw your at the approach of strangers? Why do you shrink as if you were afraid, from the touch of every hand? Take example and advice from me: If I liked not their familiarity, I would make them keep their distance, nor should any saucy finger provoke me unrevenged."
"Our tempers and qualities," replied the other, "are widely different: I have neither the ability nor inclination to give offence(sic): you, it seems, are by no means destitute of either> My desire is to live peaceably in the station wherein I was placed and tho' my humility may now and then cause me a moment's uneasiness, it tends on the whole to preserve my tranquility. The case is otherwise with you, whose irritable temper, and revengeful disposition, will probably, one time or other, be the cause of your destruction."
While they were thus arguing the point, the Gardener came with his little spaddle, in order to lighten the earth round the stem of the Sensitive-Plant; but perceiving the Thistle, he thrusts his instrument thro' the root of it, and tossed it out of his garden.
XII: Love and Folly
Intro: In Love and Folly, love is good and kind until folly sways him to break the rules, change himself, and neglect his duties. For this, they are both severely punished, indicating that, if you have considerate, appropriate impulses naturally, it is dumb and dangerous to be changed by someone who does not.
The Fable: In the most early state of things, and among the eldest of beings, existed that God, as the poets entitle him, or rather that Daemon, as Plato calls him, whose name is Love. He was assisting to the Father of the Gods, in reducing chaos into order, in establishing the harmony of the universe, and in regulating and putting in execution the laws; by which the operations of nature and performed, and the frame of the world subsists. Universal good seemed to be his only study, and he was the supreme delight both of Gods and men. But in process of time, among other disorders that arose in the universe, it appeared that Love began to deviate very often from what had seemed till now to be his chief pursuit: he would raise frequent disturbances and confusion in the course of nature; though it was always under the pretence(sic) of maintaining order ad agreement. It seems he had entered into a very intimate acquaintance with person who had but lately made her appearance in the world. This person was Folly, the daughter of Pride and Ignorance. They were often together, and as often as they were, some mischief was sure to be the consequence. By degrees he introduced her into the heavens; where it was their great joy by various artifices to lead the Gods into such measures as involved them in many inconveniences, and exposed them to much ridicule. They deluded them all in their turns, except Minerva, the only divinity that escaped their wiles. Even Jupiter himself was induced by them to take some steps not at all suitable to the dignity of his character. Folly had gotten the entire ascendant over her companion; however, she was resolved to make still more sure of him, and engross him wholly to herself: with this design she infused a certain intoxicating juice into his nectar, the effects of which were so powerful, that in the end it utterly deprived him of his sight. Love was too much prejudiced in her favour, to apprehend her to be the cause of his misfortune; nor indeed did he seem to be in the least sensible of his condition. But his mother Venus soon found it out: and in the excess of her grief and rage carried her complaint to Jupiter, conjuring him to punish the Sorceress who had blinded her son. Jupiter, willing to clear the heavens of such troublesome company, called both parties before him, and inquired into their conduct. After a full hearing, he determined, that Folly should make some sort of reparation for the injury done to Love; and being resolved to punish both for the many irregularities which they had lately introduced, he condemned Love to wander about the earth, and ordered Folly to be his guide.
Appendix of Morals
I. The blessing of hope is better adapted to the state of mortals, than the gift of prescience.
II. Folly, passing with men for wisdom, makes each contented with his own share of understanding.
III. Gravity, tho’ sometimes the mien of wisdom, is often found to be the mask of ignorance.
IV. The greatest merit is often concealed under the most unpromising appearances.
V. An immoderate poursuit(sic) of pleasure is generally destructive of its object.
VI. The parade and ceremony belonging to the great are often a restraint upon their freedom and activity.
VII. We conquer many evils at first with facility, which being long neglected become insurmountable.
VIII. Boys of no very promising appearance often become the greatest men.
IX. External beauty will often captivate; but 'tis internal merit that secures the conquest.
X. The fault we many times impute to a character, is only to be found in the mind of the observer.
XI. Both a mild disposition, and a vindictive temper, generally meet with suitable returns.
XII. Folly has often too great an influence in the direction of our amours.
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