Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/36

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Brown
Brown
30

Poems by Oxford Hands,' 1685. Leaving the university without a degree, he came to London, and endeavoured to support himself by his pen ; but, finding it difficult to procure employment, he reluctantly accepted the post of usher in a school at Kingston-on-Thames. Writing to a fiiend at this date, he says : 'I ventured once or twice to launch my little bark amongst the adventurous rovers of the pen, but with such little success that for the present I have abandoned all hopes of doing anything that way. . . . The prodigal son, when he was pressed by hunger and thirst, joined himself to a swineherd ; and I have been driven by the same stimuli to join myself to a swine, an ignorant pedagogue about twelve miles out of town.' He was afterwards appointed head-master of the grammar school at Kingston-on-Thames. Having spent three years in school work, he settled in London, and devoted himself to the production of satirical poems and pamphlets, varj'ing this employment with translations from Greek, Latin, French, and Spanish authors. In 1687 he contributed supplementary 'Reflections on the Hind and the Panther' to Matthew Clifford's ' Four Letters ' on Dryden ; and in the following years, assuming the pseudonym Dudley Tomkinson, he assailed Dryden in a spiteful, though not unamusing, pamphlet, entitled 'The Reasons of Mr. Bays' changing his religion, considered in a dialogue between Crites, Eugenius, and Mr. Bays,' 4to, of which a second part was published in 1690 imder the title of 'The Reasons of the New Convert's taking the Oaths,' 4to, and a third part, 'The Reason of Mr. Hains the Player's Conversion and Reconversion,' in 1691, 4to. In 1691 he published 'The Weesils. A satiyrical Fable giving the account of some argumental passages happening in the lion's court about Weesilion's taking the oaths,' London, 1691, 4to, an attack on Dr. Sherlock. Anonymous satire on Durfey, 'Wit for Money', or Poet Stutter, a Dialogue,' 1691, 4to, may probably be assigned to Brown, who, in the same year, assailed two prominent clergymen in an anonymous pamphlet entitled, 'Novus Reformat or Vapulans, or the Welsh Lovite tossed in a blanket. In a dialogue between Hick[eringill] of Colchester, David J[o]nes and the Ghost of Wil. Wyn,' 4to. About this time Brown started the 'Lacedaemonian Mercury,' in opposition to Dunton's 'Athenian Mercury;' but the paper liad only a short run. In August 1693 he wrote a copy of satirical verses on the occasion of the marriage of 'Titus Oates ('The Salamancan Wedding ; or a true Account of a swearing Doctor's Marriage with a Muggletonian Widow,' half sheet), for which performance he is said to have been apprehended and punished. Many of Brown's humorous and satirical verses were published in 'A Collection of Miscellany Poems, Letters, &c., by Mr. Brown, &c.,' London, 1699, 8vo. On p. 49 of this collection is a bitter attack by Brown on Tom Durfey, beginning —

 Thou cur, half French, half English breed,
 Thou mongrel of Parnassus.

Elsewhere (Works, ed. 1719-21, v. 65) he has some amusing verses on a duel fought at Epsom in 1689 between Durfey and Bell, 'a musician. In a 'Session of the Poets' there is a mock trial of Durfey and Brown, held at the foot of Parnassus on 9 July 1696. Brown's satirical writings are more remarkable for coarseness than for wit. In worrying an adversary he was strangely pertinacious; he never would let a quarrel drop, but returned to the attack again and again. Sir Richard Blackmore was one of the special objects of his aversion; he edited in 1700 a collection of mock 'Commendatory Verses on the Author of the Two Arthurs and the Satyr against Wit by some of his particular Friends,' fol. For writing a 'Satyr upon the French King on the Peace of Keswick' (Works, i. 89, ed. 1707) he was committed to prison ; and the story goes that he procured his release by addressing to the lords in council a Pindaric petition, which concludes thus :

  The pulpit alone
  Can never preach down
  The fops of the town.
   Then pardon Tom Brown
   And let him write on :
But if you had rather convert the poor sinner.
His fast writing mouth may be stopped with a
 dinner.
Give him clothes to his back, some meat and
 much drink,
Then clap him close prisoner without pen and ink.
And your petitioner shall neither pray, write,
 nor think.

Tom Brown's life was as licentious as his writings. Much of his time was spent in a low taven in Gower's Row in theMinories. His knowledge of London was certainly 'extensive and peculiar,' and his humorous sketches of low life are both entertaining and valuable. An anonymous biographer says : 'Tom Brown had less the spirit of a gentleman than the rest of the wits, and more of a scholar. ... As of his mistresses, so he was very negligent in the choice of his companions, who were sometimes mean and despicable.' Brown died in Aldersgate Street on 16 June 1704, and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, near his friend Mrs. Aphra Behn. The inscription (which has