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[288] parents and brothers, who supported him in his adventure, urged him from a path so unpromising, but Brown, though he felt the pressure of their distress, clung stoutly, if gloomily, to the pursuits of literature. He speculated, debated, and wrote for the newspapers. His first identified work, a series of papers called The Rhapsodist, which appeared in The Columbian magazine, August-November, 1789, glorified the proud and lonely soul.

Little is known of the next few years of his life. In 1793 he seems to have gone to New York to visit his friend Dr. Elihu Hubbard Smith, formerly a medical student in Philadelphia. Removed from the scenes of his old solitude, Brown became less solitary. Smith's friends, among them S. L. Mitchill, James Kent, and William Dunlap, Brown's future biographer, who belonged to a club called the Friendly Society, forced the young misanthrope to cast part of his coat. In 1795, after another visit to New York, he began an unidentified work, apparently speculative but not a romance, to “equal in extent Caleb Williams,” a book in which Brown saw “transcendant merits.” In spite of the first ardour which had made him sure he could finish his task in six weeks, he lost faith in its moral utility and never got beyond fifty pages, but he had gradually given up Dr. Johnson for Godwin as his model. July, 1796, saw him cease to be even a sleeping partner in his brother's counting house. Thenceforth he was nothing but an author.

The spirit of Godwin stirred eagerly in Brown during the early days of his freedom. Toward the end of 1797 he bore witness by writing Alcuin, a dialogue on the rights of women which took its first principles from Mary Wollstonecraft and Godwin. On the last day of December he says he finished a romance which appears to have been Sky-Walk, the manuscript of which was lost before it could be published. Early in 1798 he became a contributor to the new Philadelphia Weekly magazine, which contains, among the fragments which always mark Brown's trail, the first two parts of Alcuin, called The rights of women, and nine chapters of Arthur Mervyn.1 He announced Sky-Walk 17 March, 1798, in a letter to the Weekly magazine signed “Speratus.” In this earliest public statement of his ideals of fiction Brown spoke of the need of

1 Published in 1799, with a second part, 1800.

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