1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Broome, William
BROOME, WILLIAM (1689–1745), English scholar and poet, the son of a farmer, was born at Haslington, Cheshire, where he was baptized on the 3rd of May 1689. He was educated at Eton, where he became captain of the school, and at St John’s College, Cambridge. He collaborated with John Ozell and William Oldisworth in a translation (1712) of the Iliad from the French version of Madame Dacier, and he contributed in the same year some verses to Lintot’s Miscellany. He was introduced to Pope, who was at that time engaged on his translation of the Iliad. Pope asked Broome to make a digest for him of the notes of Eustathius, the 12th-century annotator of Homer. This task Broome executed to Pope’s entire satisfaction, refusing any payment. He was rector of Sturston, Norfolk, and his prosperity was further assured by his marriage in 1716 with a rich widow, Mrs Elizabeth Clarke. When Pope undertook the translation of the Odyssey, he engaged Elijah Fenton and Broome to assist him. Broome’s facility in verse had gained for him at college the nickname of “the poet,” and he adapted his style very closely to Pope’s. He translated the 2nd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 18th and 23rd books, and practically provided all the notes. He was a vain, talkative man, and did not fail to make known his real share in the translation, of which Pope had given a very misleading account in the “proposals” issued to subscribers. He casually mentioned Broome as his coadjutor, as though his assistance was of an entirely subsidiary character. His influence over Broome was so strong that the latter was induced to write a note at the end of the translation minimizing his own share and implicating Fenton, who, moreover, had not wished his name to appear, in the deception. “If my performance,” he said, “has merit either in these [the notes] or in any part of the translation, namely the 6th, 11th and 18th books, it is but just to attribute it to the judgment and care of Mr Pope, by whose hand every sheet was corrected.” For the Odyssey Pope received £4500, of which Broome, who had provided a third of the text and the notes, received £570. He had hoped to secure fame from his connexion with Pope, and when he found that Pope had no intention of praising him he complained bitterly of being underpaid. Pope thought that Broome’s garrulity had caused the reports which were being circulated to his disadvantage, and ungenerously made satirical allusions to him in the Dunciad and the Bathos. After these insults Broome’s patience gave way, and there is a gap in his correspondence with Pope, but in 1730 the intercourse was renewed on friendly terms. In 1728 the degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by the university of Cambridge, and he was presented to the rectory of Pulham, Norfolk, and subsequently by Charles, 1st Earl Cornwallis, who had been his friend at Cambridge, to two livings, Oakley Magna in Essex, and Eye in Suffolk. He died at Bath on the 16th of November 1745.
Broome was also the author of some translations from Anacreon printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine, and of Poems on Several Occasions (1727). His poems are included in Johnson’s and other collections of the British poets. His connexion with Pope is exhaustively discussed in Elwin and Courthope’s edition of Pope’s Works (viii. pp. 30-186), where the correspondence between the two is reproduced.
- i. 146, “worthy Settle Banks and Broome.” A footnote (1743) explained away the allusion by making it apply to Richard Brome, the disciple of Ben Jonson. Also iii. 332, of which the original rendering was:—
“Hibernian politics, O Swift, thy doom,
And Pope’s, translating ten whole years with Broome.”
In the Bathos he was classed with the parrots and the tortoises.