St John's College MS O.88

John Brown, Address to Empress Catherine II. English, 1766.


'To her Imperial Majesty Catherine Empress of all the Russias &c.' The author and moralist John Brown (1715-66) was educated at St John's College, graduating BA in 1735. In 1765 Brown's views on a Russian school system were sought by Catherine II. His response won him an invitation to St Petersburg but ill health prevented him from undertaking the trip. Instead he wrote to the Empress in August 1766 proposing an elaborate scheme for sending young Russians to be educated in England. (See ODNB).

Brown opens his address regretting that he is unable to travel to Russia to see 'the greatest Empress upon earth' and refers to the educationist Daniel Dumaresq. The address is signed on fol. 18r 'J: Browne' and is dated 'London August 28th 1766'. It is followed on fols 19r-20r by a note on 'The Jesuits'. Both these items were printed in Biographia Britannica 2nd ed. Vol. 2 (London, 1780) pp. 669-72, 674.

Manuscript extra information

185 x 125mm. 20 folios + blanks. Paper. A single, neat and elegant hand throughout. Bound in 18th-century gold-tooled red goatskin over cardboard; all edges gilt. With a blue cloth case.

The bookplate of Robert Day (1746-1841), politician and judge, is pasted inside the back cover. A note inside the case reads 'Bt Ellis, Great Bedwyn 1938. Case made and book repaired by John P. Gray & Son, Cambridge, July 1938 HG'. Given to the library by Hugh Percival Wharton Gatty (1907-48) in 1945 (book label inside front cover).