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.         Sold

Octavo 7 ½ X 4 ¼ inches Bound in later quarter calf.
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Many of Brown’s works went unpublished until his death, and the publication date of many is in question, as is his stature as a writer.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- 

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- 


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- 

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