1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Moses Browne

Sir John Hawkins, in Life of Johnson (1787); John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 5:51.



Mr. Moses Browne, originally a pen-cutter, was, so far as concerned with the poetical part of it, the chief support of the [Gentleman's] Magazine, which he fed with many a nourishing morsel. This person, being a lover of angling, wrote Piscatory Eclogues; and was a candidate for the fifty pound prize mentioned in Johnson's first letter to Cave, and for other prizes which Cave engaged to pay him who should write the best poem on certain subjects; in all or most of which competitions Mr. Browne had the good fortune to succeed. He published these and other poems of his writing, in an octavo volume, Lond. 1739; and has therein given proofs of an exuberant fancy and a happy invention. Some years after he entered into holy orders. A further account of him may be seen in the Biographia Dramatica, to a place in which work he seems to have acquired a title by some juvenile compositions for the stage. Being a person of a religious turn, he also published in verse a series of devout contemplations, called Sunday Thoughts. Johnson, who often expressed his dislike of religious poetry, and who, for the purpose of religious meditation, seemed to think one day as proper as another, read them with cold approbation, and said, he had a great mind to write and publish Monday Thoughts. — To the proofs above adduced of the coarseness of Cave's manners, let me add the following: he had undertaken, at his own risk, to publish a translation of Du Halde's History of China, in which were contained sundry geographical and other plates. Each of these he inscribed to one or other of his friends; and, among the rest, one to Moses Browne. With this blunt and familiar designation of his person, Mr. Browne was justly offended. To appease him, Cave directed an engraver, to introduce with a caret under the line, "Mr."; and thought, that in so doing, he had made ample amends to Mr. Browne for the indignity done him.

Mr. John Duick, also a pen cutter, and a near neighbour of Cave, was a frequent contributor to the Magazine, of short poems, written with spirit and ease. He was a kinsman of Browne, and the author of a good copy of encomiastic verses prefixed to the collection of Browne's Poems above mentioned.