1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Brown

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 1:527-28.



Very different in character from these grave and ponderous authors were their contemporaries TOM D'URFEY and TOM BROWN, who entertained the public in the reign of William III. with occasional whimsical compositions both in prose and verse, which are now valued only as conveying some notion of the taste and manners of the time.... TOM BROWN, who died in 1704, was a "merry fellow" and libertine, who, having by his immoral conduct lost the situation of schoolmaster at Kingston-upon-Thames, became a professional author and libeller in the metropolis. His writings, which consist of dialogues, letters, poems, and other miscellanies, display considerable learning as well as shrewdness and humour, but are deformed by obscene and scurrilous buffoonery. From the ephemeral nature of the subjects, very few of them can now be perused with interest; indeed the following extracts comprise nearly all the readable passages that can with delicacy be presented in these modern times.