309J Tom Brown
Amusements serious and comical calculated for the meridian of London. By Mr. Tho. Brown.
London : Printed for John Nutt, near Stationers-Hall 1700. $1,100
Octavo 7 ½ X 4 ¼ inches
His best-known works, apart from the quatrain
Ido not love thee, Dr Fell The reason why I cannot tell; But this I know, and know full well, I do not love thee, Dr Fell.,
are probably Amusements Serious and Comical, calculated for the Meridian of London (1700) and Letters from the Dead to the Living (1702), although his writings were quite prolific. Several works of the period whose author is unknown are suspected to be his.
Toward the end of his life he began to regret the licentiousness with which he had lived it, and on his deathbed he secured from his publisher (one Sam Briscoe) a promise that any posthumously published works would be censored of “all prophane, undecent passages”. The promise was promptly reneged upon.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Brown, Thomas (English satirist).
Many of Brown’s works went unpublished until his death, and the publication date of many is in question, as is his stature as a writer. Contemporary opinion was mixed; Jonathan Swift spoke quite highly of Brown’s work, and indeed parts of Gulliver’s Travels and other of Swift’s works may have been significantly influenced by Brown’s writings. On the other hand, those whom Brown mercilessly lampooned during his lifetime understandably did nothing to further his good reputation after his demise.
Here is a Quote from the Introduction:
T'other Day one of the Imaginary Serious Wits, who thought it a Weak- nefs in any Man to laugh : Seeing a Copy of this Book ; at the opening of it, fell into a Passion, and Wrink- ling up his Nostrils like a heated Stal- lion that had a Mare in the Wind,Said, The Book was unworthy of the Ti- tle; for Grave Subjects, fhould be treated with Decorum, and 'twas to profane Serious Matters, to blend them with Comical Entertainments. What a Mixture is here says he ! This Variety of Colours, said I to my Censurer, appears very Natu- ral to me ; for if one striclly examines all Mens Actions and Discourses, we shall find that Seriousness and Merri- ment are near Neighbours, and al- ways live together like Friends, if Sullen Moody Sots do net let them at Variance. Every Day Sews us, that Serious Maxims, and Sober Couniels, often proceed out of the Mouths of the Pleasantest Companions, and such as affect: to be always Grave and Musing, are then more Comical than they think themselves. My Spark push'd his Remonstrance further : Are not you ashamed, con- tinued he, to Print Amusements ? Don't you know, that Man was made for Business, and not to fit amusing himself like an Owl in an Ivy-Bush ? To which I answer'd after this man- ner. The whole Life of Man is but one entire Amusement : Vertue only de- fences the Name of Business, and none but they that practise it can be truly faid to be employed, for all the World beside are Idle.-
And he ends the introduction thus:
The Book of the World is very Ancient, and yet always New. In all Times, Men, and their Passions, have been the Subjects. Thefe Passions were always the same, tho' they have been delivered to Posterity in different Manners, according to the different Constitution of Ages ; and in all A- ges they are Read by every one, ac- cording to the Characters of their Wit, and the Extent of their Judg- ment.  Thofe who are qualified to Read and Understand the Book of the World, may be beneficial to the Pub- lick, in communicating the Fruit of their Studies ; but thole that have no other knowledge of the World, but what they collect: from Books, are not fit to give Instructions to o- thers. If the World then is a Book that ought to be read in the Original : One may as well compare it to a country that one cannot know, nor make known to others, without Tra- veling through it himfelf. I began this Journey very Young : I always loved to make Reflections upon every thing that presented it self to my View : I was amused in making these Reslections : I have amused my self in Writing them : And I wish my Reader may Amuse himfelf in Read- ing them. Some will think it another Amufe- ment to find a Book without a Dedica- tion,begging the Protection of a Migh- ty Patron,and by some fulsome kind of Flattery, expose the Great Man, the Author intended to praise; but that I have avoided, by sending the Brat na- ked into the World to shift for it felf.  It was not design'd to give any Man Offence. Innocent Mirth, compoun- ded with Wholsome Advice, is the whole Burthen it travails with ; and therefore the Author flatters himfelf with the hopes of pleasing all Men : Which is a Pitch if his Book arrives to, will be the greatest Amufement in the World.
The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica gives this verdict: “He was the author of a great variety of poems, letters, dialogues and lampoons, full of humour and erudition, but coarse and scurrilous. His writings have a certain value for the knowledge they display of low life in London.” Presently the best description of Brown’s legacy may be that of Joseph Addison, who accorded him the appellation “T-m Br-wn of facetious Memory”.
Brown was buried in the grounds of Westminster Abbey
WING :; B.5051; Arber’s Term cat.; III 176; ESTC (RLIN),; R019929