1854 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Moses Browne

Katherine Byerley Thomson, in Recollections of Literary Characters (1854) 2:261-62.



Upon becoming acquainted with with Johnson, [Edward Cave] was anxious to dazzle the new auxiliary with the lustre of his fellow-labourers in the magazine. By Cave the powers and acquirements of Johnson were not, they could not be, comprehended. Moses Browne, who was originally a pen-cutter, and who wrote the Piscatory Eclogues in the Gentleman's Magazine, having obtained thereby Cave's first prize (those same eclogues delighting many an elderly gentleman of yore), was, in Urban's eyes, one of the first of men. Browne was also well known for his series of devout contemplations, called Sunday Thoughts, sneered at by Johnson, who said he thought he should himself write "Monday Thoughts." Then there was a reputable list of useful and learned contributors. The Rev. William Rider, who wrote the papers styled "Philaigyrus;" Mr. Adam Calamy, who distinguished his essays by the superscription "A 'consistent' Protestant;" the antiquary Pegge; and last, not least, the justly celebrated Akenside, and the unhappy Boyse, the author of a poem called The Deity. Poor Boyse! his history was a sad exemplification of the improvident man of letters.... To this goodly crew Johnson was introduced by Cave, at an alehouse near Clerkenwell, where, wrapped up in a horseman's coat, and wearing a bushy, uncombed wig, the Great Rambler beheld his unlettered associates, Mr. Moses Browne, conspicuous at the head of them, enveloped in a cloud of tobacco-smoke. The interview with his supposed equals must have been highly gratifying to Johnson's self-complacency.