Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/17

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Brown
Brown
11


and asked Dodsley to let him know the author's name. He published it in the collected edition of Pope's works before the 'Essay on Man.' One line survives —

 And coxcombs vanquish Berkeley by a grin.

A poem on 'Liberty,' occasioned by the peace, appeared in 1749. Warburton introduced Brown to his father-in-law, the munificent Kalph Allen. Whilst staying at Allen's Brown preached a sermon at Bath against gambling (22 April 1750). It was published with a statement that the public tables were suppressed soon after the sermon was preached. Warburton now advised Brown to carry out Pope's design of an epic poem, 'Brute;' and when this was begun suggested an essay upon Shaftesbury's 'Characteristics.' The essay, completed under Warburton's eye, appeared in 1761. The second part of this essay is a remarkably clear statement of the utilitarian theory as afterwards expounded by Paley, and is highly praised in J. S. Mill's essay upon 'Bentham.' The book provoked answers from C. Bulkley, a dissenting minister, and an anonymous author, and it reached a fifth edition in 1764. Brown helped Avison in the composition of his essay upon 'Musical Expression,' published in the same year (1751). He showed his versatility by writing two tragedies, 'Barbarossa' (produced at Drury Lane 17 Dec. 1754) and 'Athelstane' (produced 27 Feb. 1756) (Genest, iv. 406, 453). The first obtained a considerable success. Garrick acted in both, and wrote the prologue and epilogue of the first and the epilogue to the second. A line in the first epilogue, 'Let the poor devil eat,' &c., gave great ofience to Brown. Neither has much literary value, though 'Athelstane' was preferred by the critics to its more successful rival. Warburton, Allen, and Hurd lamented that a clergyman should compromise his dignity by 'making connections with players.' Warburton, however, had introduced Brown to his friend Charles Yorke, and through Yorke's influence his brother. Lord Hardwicke, presented Brown in 1756 to the living of Great Horkesley, near Colchester, worth 270l. a year or 200l. clear(Nichols, Anecdotes, v. 286).

In 1757 appeared Brown's most popular work, 'An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times.' A seventh edition appeared in 1758, a 'very large impression' of a second volume, and an ' explanatory defence ' in the same year. From the identity of the first and seventh editions of the ' Estimate ' Hill Burton seems to doubt whether the success was genuine (Life of Hume, ii. 23). There is no doubt, however, of the impression made at the time. 'The inestimable estimate of Brown,' says Cowper (Table-Talk), 'rose like a paper kite and charmed the town.' It is a well-written version of the ordinary complaints of luxury and effeminacy which gained popularity from the contemporary fit of national depression. Macaulay refers to it in this respect in his essay on 'Chatham.' In his first volume Brown describes Warburton as a Colossus who 'bestrides the world.' A coolness, however, seems to have arisen at this time between the two. Walpole ascribes it to Warburton's jealousy of his friend's success in a letter (to Montagu, 4 May 1578), from which it also appears that Brown was supposed to have been mad. Walpole says that ne had only seen Brown once, and then 'singing the Stabat Mater with the Mingotti behind a harpsichord at a great concert, at my Lady Carlisle's ' in * last Passion week,' a performance which Walpole regards as inconsistent with Brown's denunciations of the opera. He also asserts that Brown was a profane curser and swearer, that he tried to bully Sir Charles Williams, who had answered the 'Estimate,' and was supposed to be about to divulge the swearing story, and that he insulted Dodsley, who acted as go-between.

Brown was clearly an impracticable person. He had complimented Pitt and the first Lord Hardwicke in his 'Estimate,' and the failure to obtain patronage induced him, it is said, to resign the living received from Hardwicke's son. In 1760 Warburton says that Brown is 'rarely without a gloom and sullen insolence on his countenance,' symptomatic perhaps of mental disorder (Letters of an Eminent Prelate, pp. 300, 381). Bishop Osbaldiston, however, presented him to the living of St. Nicholas m Newcastle in 1761. Brown published several other works, which had little success : an 'Additional Dialogue of the Dead, between Pericles and Cosmo, being a sequel to a dialogue of Lord Lyttelton's between Pericles and Cosmo,' 1760 (intended to defend Pitt against the supposed insinuations of Lyttelton, who is said to have affronted Brown in society) (Nichols, Anecdotes, ii. 339) ; the 'Curse of Saul, a sacred ode' (set to music and performed as an oratorio), first prefixed to a 'Dissertation on the Rise, Union, and Power ... of Poetry and Music,' 1763; 'History of the Rise and Progress of Poetry,' &c., 1764 (the substance of the last, omitting music) ; 'Twelve Sermons on various Subjects,' 1764 (including those at Carlisle and Bath already noticed) ; 'Thoughts on Civil Liberty, Licentiousness, and Fashion,' 1765, a pamphlet with some remarks on education noticed by Priestley in his essay on 'The Course of a Liberal Education ; 'a sermon' On the Female Character