1891 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Brown

George Birkbeck Hill, Note in Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 2:151-52n.



"At this time [1756] appeared Brown's Estimate, a book now remembered only by the allusions in Cowper's Table Talk [Cowper's Poems, ed. 1786, 1. 20] and in Burke's Letters on a Regicide Peace [Payne's Burke, p. 9]. It was universally read, admired, and believed. The author fully convinced his readers that they were a race of cowards and scoundrels; that nothing could save them; that they were on the point of being enslaved by their enemies, and that they richly deserved their fate." Macaulay's Essays, ii. 183. Dr. J. H. Burton says: — "Dr. Brown's book is said to have run to a seventh edition in a few months. It is rather singular that the edition marked as the seventh has precisely the same matter in each page, and the same number of pages as the first." Life of Hume, ii. 23. Brown wrote two tragedies, Barbarossa and Athlestane, both of which Garrick brought out a Drury Lane. In Barbarossa Johnson observerd "that there were two improprieties; in the first place, the use of a bell is unknown to the Mahometans; and secondly, Otway had tolled a bell before Dr. Brown, and we are not to be made April fools twice by the same trick." Murphy's Garrick, p. 173. Brown's vanity is shown in a letter to Garrick (Garrick Corres. i. 220) written on Jan. 19, 1766, in which he talks of going to St. Petersburg, and drawing up a System of Legislation for the Russian Empire. In the following September, in a fit of madness, he made away with himself.