1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Brown

William Tooke, Note to The Ghost; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 2:174-75n.



When the hot burning fit is on,
They should regale their restless son
With something to allay his rage,
Some cool Castalian beverage,
Or some such draught (though they, 'tis plain,
Taking the Muse's name in vain,
Know nothing of their real court,
And only fable from report)
As makes a Whitehead's ode go down,
Or slakes the Feverette of Brown:
But who would in his senses think,
Of Muses giving gall to drink,
Or that their folly should afford
To raving poets gun or sword?

Dr. John Brown, author, among other works, of the "Essay on the Characteristics," and of an "Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times." The latter publication excited uncommon attention, and ran through seven editions in one year. His insatiable vanity, dogmatism, and arrogance, rendered him disgusting to others, and a torment to himself; disappointed by ill health, in his intention of accepting an invitation from the Empress of Russia, to superintend an enlarged plan of education in that country; and highly irritated by the slights and mortifications he received in this, he in 1766, put a period to his own existence, in the 50th year of his age. He was of the Warburtonian school, but possessed too much of the spirit of his master to submit, without murmuring, to his dictates. Dr. Brown, though not eminently successful in his poetical attempts, understood the theory of composition; and his "Dissertation on the Rise, Union, and Power; the Progressions, Separations, and Corrruptions of Poetry and Music," evinces a thorough acquaintance with the subjects on which he treats.