1853 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Brown

John Mitford, in Correspondence of Thomas Gray and William Mason, ed. John Mitford (1853) 76-77n.



This is the well-known "Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times," by Dr. John Brown, a book which occupied for a time a very large share of public attention and applause; several editions were called for in the course of a year, and a second volume followed the first. The reader, if his curiosity on the author and his works is awakened, may consult Walpole's Miscellaneous Letters, vol. iii. p. 352, and vol. vi. p. 74; Cavendish's Debates, ii. p. 106; Walpole, History of George III. ii. p. 79; Smollett's History, ii. p. 289; and Monthly Review, 1764, part 1. p. 300; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, ii. p. 211; viii. p. 244; ix. p. 809; and the Biographia Britannica, art. Brown (not Browne.)

This work was well answered by Dr. Wallace of Edinburgh, in the Characteristics of the Present State of Great Britain. See also Professor Smyth's Lectures on Modern History, ii. p. 289. There is a similar complaint of the "degeneracy" of the time in Cowper's Task, book ii. (Time Piece).

—all that we have left is empty talk
Of old atchievements, and despair of new.

When Brown complained in this work of the "dry, unaffecting compositions of the Cambridge Writers," the Critical Review asked him "if he had not "forgotten some of his friends, Hurd, Gray, Mason," &c. vol. v. p. 314. — See Monthly Review, vol. xviii. p. 354-74, for a very severe review of the second volume. In the St. James's Mag. 1762, vol. iii. p. 232, is a pungent epigram on the Estimate, and on Brown's flattery of Warburton, beginning "A vast colussus made of brass," &c. Dr. Brown will be mentioned again.