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Of his poetry
the stage of the world more remarkable of many virtues ; and while they laughed for their peculiarities and eccentricities. at the fancies of the visionary, they re
Of the early part of James Brown's life spected the man. Brown once indulged Jittle is known that can be depended a gentleman in Durham with a sight of upon, but the compiler of the present the drawing above alluded to, and on a article has heard him assert that he was loud laugh at what the poet esteemed the born at Berwick-on-Tweed; if this be very perfection of terrific sublimity, Brown the case it is probable he left that town at told him “ he was no christian, or he a very early age, as in his speech none of would not deride a scriptural drawing the provincialisms of the lower order of which the angel Gabriel had approved ! inhabitants of Berwick could be observed, Brown's poesy was chiefly of a serious and had he resided there for any length of nature, (at least it was intended to be so,) time, he must have imperceptibly imbibed levity and satire were not his forte. Like the vulgar dialect. Certain, however, it Dante, his imagination was gloomy-he is, that when a young man he resided in delighted to describe the torments of hell that "fashionable” part of Newcastle. —the rattling of the chains, and the upon-Tyne called "the Side,” where he screams of the damned; the mount of kept a rag-shop, and was in the habit of Sisyphus was his Parnassus, the Styx was attending the fairs in the neighbourhood his Helicon, and the pale forms that fit by with clothes ready-made for sale. During Lethe's billows, the muses that inspired his residence in Newcastle his first wife his lay. His poems consisted chiefly of died; of this person he always spoke in visions, prophecies, and rhapsodies, sugterms of affection, and was known long gested by some part of the sacred volume, after her death, to shed tears on her being of the contents of which he had an astonalluded to. In all probability it was ow- ishing recollection. When he was at the ing to his loss of her that his mind became advanced age of ninety-two it was almost disturbed, and from an industrious trades- impossible to quote any passage of scripman he became a fanatic. A few years ture to him without his remembering the after her decease he married a Miss Rich- book, chapter, and frequently the verse ardson, of Durham, a respectable though from whence it was taken. a very eccentric character, and who sur- (though in his favourite city he has left vived him a year.
This lady being pos- many imitators) we cannot say any thing sessed of a theatre, and some other little in praise; it had “ neither rhyme nor property in Durham, he removed to that reason," it was such as a madınan would city to reside.
inscribe on the walls of his cell. His
song, When Brown first devoted himself to like that of the witches in Thalaba, was the muses is uncertain, but about thirty- “ an unintelligible song " to all but the
ago, he lived in New- writer, on whose mind in reading it, to castle, styled himself the poet-laureate use the words of one of the sweetest of of that place, and published a poem ex- our modern poets,
meaning flashed like planatory of a chapter in the Apocalypse, strong inspiration.". The only two lines which was “ adorned" with a hideous in his works that have any thing like engraving of a beast with ten horns. Of meaning in them arethis plate he always spoke in terms of
" When men let Satan rule their heart rapture. We have heard that it was de
They do act the devil's part." signed by the bard; but as Mr. B., though a poet, never laid any claim to the cha- Our author's last, and as he esteemed racter of an artist, it is our belief that he it, his best work-his monumentum ære had no hand in its manufacture, but that perennius, was a pamphlet published in it was the work of some of those waggish Newcastle in 1820, by Preston and friends who deceived him by their tricks, Heaton, at the reasonable price of one and-rendered his life a pleasure. Their shilling; for, unlike his brother bards, ingenious fictiuns prevented his dwelling Mr. Brown never published in an expenon scenes by which his existence might sive form. He was convinced that merit have been embittered, and it is but justice would not lie hid though concealed in a to his numerous hoaxers to assert, that pamphlet, but like Terence's beauty, diu lawithout their pecuniary assistance he tere non potest, and that nonsense, though would have often heen in want of com- printed in quarto with the types of a mon necessaries. Though credulous he Davison, would be still unnoticed and was honest; though poor he was possessed reglected. On his once being shown the
quarto edition of the.“ White Doe,” and alludes in the following lines of an elegy told that he ought to publish in a similar he wrote on the death of his brother poet manner, his answer was that “none but and friend :the devil's poets needed fine clothes !" “ He fasted forty days and nights The pamphlet above alluded to was en- When Mr. Buchan put to rights titled “ Poems on Military Battles, Naval The wicked, for a wonder; Victories, and other important subjects, And not so much, it has been thought, the most extraordinary ever penned, a
As weigh'd the button on his coat, Thunderbolt shot from a Lion's Bow at He took to keep sin under." Satan's Kingdom, the Kingdom of the So said a Bion worthy of such an Devil and the Kingdom of this World Adonis ! but other accounts differ. If reserving themselves in darkness for the we may credit Mr. Sykes, the respectable great and terrible Day of the Lord, as author of “ Local Records," Marshall Jude, the servant of God, declareth : By erred in supposing that the poet, cameJAMES Brown, P. L.” This singular lion-like, lived on air for “ forty days and work was decorated with a whole forty nights.” Mr. Sykes relates that in length portrait of the author tread- answer to a question he put to him as to ing on the “devil's books,” and blowing a how he contrived for so long a time to trumpet to alarm sinners; it was, as we sustain the cravings of nature, Brown rehave beard him say, the work of a junior plied, that “they (he and the rest of the pupil of the ingenious Mr. Bewick. party of fasters) only set on to the fire a
During the contest for Durham, in great pot, in which they boiled water, and 1820, a number of copies of an election then stirred into it oatmeal, and supped squib, written by a humble individual that !” connected with a northern newspaper, Brown, was very susceptible of flatand entitled “A Sublime Epistle, Poetic tery, and all his life long constantly and Politic, by James Brown, P. L.” was received letters in rhyme, purporting to sent him for distribution; these, after come from Walter Scott, Byron, Shelley, printing an explanatory address on the Southey, Wilson, and other great poets; back of the title, wherein he called him- with communications in prose from the self S. S. L. D., the “Slayer of Seven king of England, the emperor of Morocco, Legions of Devils," and disowned the au- the sultan of Persia, &c. All of these he thorship, he turned to his own emolument believed to be genuine, and was in the by selling at sixpencé a copy.
habit of showing as curiosities to his In religious' affairs Brown was ex- friends, who were frequently the real tremely superstitious; he believed in every authors, and laughed in their sleeves at mad fanatic who broached opinions con. his credulity. trary to reason and sense. The wilder the In 1821, Brown received a large parchtheory, the more congenial to his mind. ment, signed G. R., attested by Messrs. He was successively a believer in Wesley, Canning and Peel, to which was susMessrs. Buchan, Huntington, Imanuel pended a large unmeaning seal, which he Swedenburg, and Joanna Southcote; had believed to be the great seal of Great he lived a little longer he would probably Britain. This document purported to be have been “a ranter." He was a great a patent of nobility, creating him “ baron reader, and what he read he remembered. Durham, of Durham, in the county The bible, of which he had a very old palatine of Durham." It recited that and curious pocket edition in black letter, this title was conferred on him in consewas his favourite work; next to that he quence of a translation of his works havesteemed Alban Butler's wonderful lives ing been the means of converting the of the saints, to every relation of which Mogul empire! From that moment he he gave implícit credit, though, strange to assumed the name and style of “ baron tell, he was in his conversation always Brown," and bad a wooden box made for violent against the idolatries of the catholic the preservation of his patent. church.
Of the poetic pieces which Brown was When Brown was a follower of Mr. in the habit of receiving, many were close Buchan, he used to relate that he fasted imitations of the authors whose naries forty days and forty nights, and it is to were affixed to them, and evinced that this subject that veterinary doctor Mar- the writers were capable of better things. shall, of Durham, his legitimate successor, One “ from Mr. Coleridge,” was a re
spectable burlesque of the “ Ancient Mar. goose wings on his shoulders and visit iner," and began :
the poet at night, with letters purporting
to be written to him in heaven by the farIt is a lion's trumpeter,
famed prophetess. After “Gabriel" left And he stoppeth one of three.
Durham, Brown was frequently told of Another, “ from Mr. Wilson," com
the deception which had been practised menced thus :
upon him, but he never could be induced
to believe that his nocturnal visiter was Poetic dreams float round me now,
any other than the angel himself.
“ Did My spirit where art thou ?
I not,” he once said, “ see him clearly fly Oh! art thou watching the moonbeams smile
out at the ceiling !" Brown used to corOn the groves of palm in an Indian isle ;
respond with some of Joanna's followers Or dost thou hang over the lovely main
in London, on the subject of these supAnd list to the boatswain's boisterous strain; Or dost thou sail on sylphid wings
posed revelations, and actually found (creThrough 'liquid fields of air,
dite posteri) believers in the genuineness. Or, riding on the clouds afar,
Amongst Brown's strange ideas, one Dost thou gaze on the beams of the evening was that he was immortal, and should star
never die. Under this delusion when ill So beautiful and so fair.
he refused all medical assistance, and it no! O no! sweet spirit of mine
induced him at the age of 90 to sell the Thou art entering a holy strain divine
little property which he acquired by marA strain wbich is so sweel,
riage, for a paltry guinea a week, to be Oh, one might think 'twas a fairy thing,
paid during the life of himself and Mrs. A thing of love and blessedness,
Brown, and the life of the survivor. The Singing in holy tenderness, A lay of peaceful quietness,
property he parted from, in consideration Within a fairy street !
of this weekly stipend, was a leasehold But ah! 'tis Brown, &c. &c.
house in Sadler-street, (the theatre having
been pulled down soon after the erection A piece “ from Walter Scott” opened of the present one opposite to it,) and the
house was conveyed to two Durham
tradesmen, Robinson Emmerson and The heath-cock shrill his clarion blew
George Stonehouse, by whom the allowAmong the heights of Benvenue, And fast the sportive echo flew,
ance was for some time regularly paid; Adown Glenavin's vale.
but on the latter becoming embarrassed But louder, louder was the knell,
in his circumstances, the payment was Of Brown's Northumbrian penance-bell, * discontinued, and poor Brown and his The noise was heard on Norham fell,
aged wife were thrown on the world withAnd ruug through Teviotdale.
out a farthing, at a time when bodily and
mental infirmities had rendered them inThese burlesques were chiefly produced capable of gaining a livelihood. Far be it by the law and medical students in New- from the writer of this to cast any aspercastle and Durham, and the young gentle- sion on Messrs. Emmerson and Stonemen of the Catholic College of Ushaw, house, but it does certainly appear to him near the latter place. As the writer of that their conduct to Brown was unkind this sketch was once congratulating Mr. to say the least of it. After this calamity Brown on his numerous respectable cor- Brown became for a few months an inharespondents, the old man said that he bitant of a poor-house, which he subsebad an acquaintance far superior to any quently left for a lodging at an obscure of his earthly ones, and no less a person- inn, where, on the 11th of July, 1823, he age than the angel Gabriel, who, he died in a state of misery and penury at stated, brought him letters from Joanna the advanced age of 92 : his wife shortly Southcote, and call to carry back his an- afterwards died in the poorhouse. They swers! This “ Gabriel" was a young are both interred in the churchyard of West Indian then residing in Durham, St. Oswald. who used to dress himself in a sheet with
Such was James Brown the Durham
poet, who with all his eccentricities was * Ringing the ponanoe-hell was an expression an honest, harmless and inoffensive old which frequently occurred in his writings. We toli'd the devil's penance-bell,
Of his personal appearance, the And warn'd you to keep from hell, &c.
excellent portrait which accompanies this The penance-bell occurs three or four times in each of his several poems.
memoir from a drawing by Mr. Terry,
is an exact resemblance. All who knew gular and undesirable spectacle of two him will bear testimony to its correctness. unburied coffins, containing human bodies. It is indeed the only one in existence that The coffins are covered with crimson gives a correct idea of what he was. The velvet and are otherwise richly embellished. other representations of him are nothing They are placed beside each other on better than caricatures.
D. trestles, and bear respectively the follow
ing inscriptions :NATURALISTS' CALENDAR.
“ JESSIE ASPASIA. Mean Temperature ...58.45.
The most excellent and truly beloved
wife of F. W. Campbell, Esq. of BarSeptember 8.
breck, N. B. and of Woodlands in Surrey, NATIVITY B. V. M.
Died in her 28th year, The legend of this festival retained in
July 11th, 1812."
Died Sept. 8, 1808.
Aged 29 years."
As it was necessarily supposed that Extract from the Parish Register of coffins thus open to inspection would Burwell, in Cambridgeshire, “ 1727, Sep- excite much curiosity, a card is preserved tember 9. N.B. About nine o'clock in at the sexton's house, which states, in the evening, a most dismal fire broke out addition to the intelligence conveyed by in a barn in which a great number of per- the above inscriptions, that the deceased sons were met together to see a puppet- lady was daughter of W. T. Caulfield, show. In the barn there were a great Esq. of Rahanduff in Ireland, by Jessie, many loads of new light straw; the barn daughter of James, third lord Ruthven; was thatched with straw, which was very and that she bore, with tranquil and exdry, and the inner roof of the barn was emplary patience, a fatal disorder procovered with old dry cobwebs; so that duced by grief on the death of her brothe fire, like lightning, few round the barn ther, who removed from a former place of in an instant, and there was but one small sepulture, now lies beside her in unburied door belonging to the barn, which was solemnity. close nailed up, and could not be easily broke open; and when it was opened, the NATURALIST'S CALENDAR. passage was so narrow, and every body
Mean Temperature ...57 · 87. so impatient to escape, that the door was presently blocked up, and most of those
September 9. that did escape, which were but very few, were forced to crawl over the heads and
THE SEASON. bodies of those that lay on a heap at the At this period of the year the fashionable door, and the rest, in number seventy-six, people of unfashionable times were acperished instantly, and two more died of customed to close their sojournments on their wounds within two days. The fire the coasts, and commence their inland was occasioned by the negligence of a retreats before they “ came to town for servant, who set a candle and lantern to, 'good.” In this respect manners are alor near, the heap of straw that was in the tered. The salubrity of the ocean-breeze barn. The servant's name was Richard is now courted, and many families, in Whitaker, of the parish of Hadstock, in defiance of gales and storms, spend the Essex, near Linton, in Cambridgeshire, greater part of the winter at the southern who was tried for the fact at the assizes watering places. The increase of this held at Cambridge, March 27, 1728, but remarkable deviation deserves to be he was acquitted."*
noticed, as a growing accommodation to
the purposes of life.
A literary gentleman on his arrival In a small apartment under the stair- from viewing the world of waters, obliges
the editor with some original Aowings case leading to the gallery at the west end of the church, is presented the sin- from his pen, so fresh and beautiful, that
they are submitted immediately to the • Lysons.
Written in a Cottage by the Sea-side. Hastings.
Ye, who would flee from the world's vanities
From cities' riot, and mankind's annoy,
For health and rest are here-guests but too coy.
Its power omnipotent, and eternal voice,
Wean not thy thoughts from wearying folly's choice,
And free thee from ennui's unnerving thrall,
Then art thou dead to nature's warning call,
W. T. M.
On the Sea.
I never gaze upon the mighty sea,
And hear its many voices, but there stealk
Over my mind; and memory reveals
Of venturous seamen, on their daring keels;
And lawless smugglers, which each cave conceals;
On every shore, o'er which its far wave peals :
With luxuries, in which Imagination reels,
And thoughts of high emprize, and boundless liberty !
Think of its fearless sons, whose sails, unfurl'd,
Columbus upon unknown waters hurld,
The great discovery of another world;
While still the dark chief's lip in anger curled :
And oft, in thought, I hear the Tritons cry,