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Browne, Isaac Hawkins

BROWNE, ISAAC HAWKINS (1705-1760), English poet, was born on the 21st of January 1705 at Burton-upon-Trent, of which place his father was vicar. He was educated at Lichfield, at Westminster school, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. After taking his M.A. degree he removed to Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar, but never practised. He was the author of "Design and Beauty," a poem addressed to his friend Joseph Highmore the painter; and of "The Pipe of Tobacco" which parodied Cibber, Ambrose Philips, Thomson, Young, Pope and Swift, who were then all living. He was elected to Parliament through private interest in 1744 and again in 1747 for the borough of Wenlock in Shropshire. In 1754 he published his chief work, De Animi Immortalitate, a Latin poem much admired by the scholars of his time. The best of the many translations of these verses is by Soame Jenyns. Browne is said by Johnson to have been "one of the first wits of this country." He was a brilliant talker in private life, especially when his tongue was loosed by wine; but he made no mark in public life. He died in London on the 14th of February 1760.

Two editions of his Poems on Various Subjects, Latin and English, were published in 1767 by his son Isaac Hawkins Browne (1745-1818), the author of two volumes of essays on religion and morals. One of these was printed for private circulation, and is said to have contained a memoir. A full account by Andrew Kippis in Biographia Britannica (1780) includes large extracts from his poems.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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