Henry Dodwell

Notes

Life
1641-1711; fellow of TCD, resigned as unwilling to take orders, 1666; refused oath of allegiance and was deprived of the post; acc. to Macaulay, he was attained ‘by the popish parliament in Dublin [for the] unpardonable crime of having a small estate in Mayo’; returned to established church, 1701; appt. Camden professor of History at Oxon., 1688-91; his Book of Schism, controverted by Richard Baxter; Annales Thucydideani, for Hudson’s Thucydides; and A Discourse concerning the Time of Phalaris (1704), et al.; his views that rational faith was not of suffieient force to compel our passions seconded by Edmund Burke; bur. at Oxford. CAB ODNB OCIL

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Commentary
W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; this ed. 1984), b. Dublin 1641; ed. TCD, Fellow in 1662; resigned in 1666 as being unwilling to take divine orders; became Cambden Professor of History at Oxford from 1688; deprived of chair as refusing oath of allegiance to William and Mary; besides ecclesiastical writings, De Veteris Cyclis (1701 and 1702), and Account of the Lesser Geographers, 3 vols. (1698-1712); also involved in acrimonious dispute with between Boyle and Bentley about the letters of Phalaris; An Invitation to Gentlemen to Acquaint Themselves with Ancient History (1694) was influential, arguing that - as opposed to ancient literature - ancient history was ‘much more fitted for the use of an active than a studious life, and therefore much more useful for Gentlemen than Scholars’. Wrote with ‘a graceful urbanity that must have pleased his readers very persuasively’, says Stanford, rather oddly. [145-45].

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References
Dictionary of National Biography: b. Dublin, parents English extraction; father’s Connaught estate in possession of rebels; family came to England, 1648, and resided at York &c.; TCD, 1656; favourite pupil of Dr John Stearn; refused oath of allegiance; Gibbon, ‘the worst of this author is his method ..; &c see infra].

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Charles A. Read, The Cabinet of Irish Literature [1876-78]: extensive notice and no extracts, b. Dublin where his mother fled in 1641; carried to England in 1648; ed. York; father died of plague in Waterford; mother died of TB in house of her brother, Sir Henry Slingsby; taken in by uncle, Henry Dodwell, rector of Newbourn, Suffolk; a year at school in Dublin, entered TCD in 1656, under Dr Sterne, nephew of Ussher; schol. and fellow, but avoided holy orders, 1666; refused offer of precedent regarding non-DD fellow, offered by Jeremy Taylor; lived in Oxford; returned to Dublin and ed. posthum. treatise of Dr Sterne, with preface (1672); also pref. to Francis de Sale, Introduction to a Devout Life (1673); settled in London, 1674; Camden prof. of history at Oxon, 1688; deprived for refusing to take oath of allegiance to William and Mary; retired to parts of England; retrieved his property in Waterford from unsatisfactory agent; large family; issued Discourse concerning Sanchoniathon (1681); Dissertationes Cyprianicae (1682); Annales Velleiani &c (1698); De Veteribus Graecorum Romanorum Cyclis &c (1701); Annals of Thucydides and Xenophon (1702); Chronology of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1704); also wrote 2 exercitations on a dispute between Bentley and Boyle; Discourse on the natural Mortality of the Soul (1706); three pieces in defence of his work, 1707-08; Pamphlet in defence of his returning to Church of England (1711); discourse on use of incense (1711); d. 7 June 1711. Gibbon says, Dodwell’s learning was immense, in this part of history especially [that of the Upper Empire] the most minute fact or passage could not escape him; and his skill in employing them is equal to his learning. The worst of this author is his method and style; the one perplexed beyond imagination, the other negligent to the degree of barbarism.’ [cited in ODNB] Generally travelled on foot and read as he walked. Editor admits being unable to find passage suitable for inclusion due to complexity and abstruousity.

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Notes
Lord Macaulay: T. E. Webb cites Dodwell is cited as an example of an Irish logician in The Veil of Isis: Essays on Idealism (Longmans 1885), with the remark that Macaulay seems only to have known him as a Camdenian Professor of Ancient History at Oxford, while observing that he was attained by the Catholic parliament in Dublin for holding an estate in Mayo. (Webb, op. cit., p.2, n.)

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