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the stage of the world more remarkable for their peculiarities and eccentricities. Of the early part of James Brown's life little is known that can be depended upon, but the compiler of the present article has heard him assert that he was born at Berwick-on-Tweed ; if this be the case it is probable he left that town at a very early age, as in his speech none of the provincialisms of the lower order of inhabitants of Berwick could be observed, and had he resided there for any length of time, he must have imperceptibly imbibed the vulgar dialect. ertain, however, it is, that when a young man he resided in that “fashionable” part of Newcastleupon-Tyne called “the Side,” where he kept a rag-shop, and was in the habit of attending the fairs in the neighbourhood with clothes ready-made for sale. During his residence in Newcastle his first wife died; of this person he always spoke in terms of affection, and was known long after her death, to shed tears on her being alluded to. In all probability it was owing to his loss of her that his mind became disturbed, and from an industrious tradesman he became a fanatic. A few years after her decease he married a Miss Richardson, of Durham, a respectable though a very eccentric character, and who survived him a year. This lady being possessed of a theatre, and some other little property in Durham, he removed to that city to reside. When Brown first devoted himself to the muses is uncertain, but about thirty
three years ago, he lived in Newcastle, styled himself the t-laureate of that place, and published a poem ex
planatory of a chapter in the Apocalypse, which was “adorned” with a hideous engraving of a beast with ten horns. Of this plate he always spoke in terms of rapture. We have heard that it was designed by the bard; but as Mr. B., though a poet, never laid any claim to the character of an artist, it is our belief that he had no hand in its manufacture, but that it was the work of some of those waggish friends who deceived him by their tricks, and rendered his life a pleasure. Their ingenious fictions prevented his dwelling on scenes by which his existence might have been embittered, and it is but justice to his numerous hoaxers to assert, that without their pecuniary assistance he would have often heen in want of common necessaries. Though credulous he was honest; though poor he was possessed
of many virtues; and while they laughed at the fancies of the visionary, they respected the man. Brown once indulged a gentleman in Durham with a sight of the drawing above alluded to, and on a loud laugh at what the poet esteemed the very perfection of terrific sublimity, Brown told him “he was no christian, or he would not deride a scriptural drawing which the angel Gabriel had approved 1" Brown's poesy was chiefly of a serious nature, (at least it was intended to be so,) levity and satire were not his forte. Like Dante, his imagination was gloomy—he delighted to describe the torments of hell —the rattling of the chains, and the screams of the damned ; the mount of Sisyphus was his Parnassus, the Styx was his Helicon, and the pale forms that flit by Lethe's billows, the muses that inspired his lay. His poems consisted chiefly of visions, prophecies, and rhapsodies, suggested by some part of the sacred volume, of the contents of which he had an astonishing recollection. When he was at the advanced age of ninety-two it was almost impossible to quote any passage of scri ture to him without his remembering o book, chapter, and frequently the verse from whence it was taken. Of his poet (though in his favourite city he has lef many imitators) we cannot say any thing in praise; it had “neither rhyme nor reason,” it was such as a madman would inscribe on the walls of his cell. His song, like that of the witches in Thalaba, was “an unintelligible song” to all but the writer, on whose mind in reading it, to use the words of one of the sweetest of our modern poets, “meaning flashed like strong inspiration.” The only two lines in his works that have any thing like meaning in them are—
“When men let Satan rule their heart They do act the devil's part.”
Our author's last, and as he esteemed it, his best work—his monumentum aere perennius, was a pamphlet J.” in Newcastle in 1820, by Preston and Heaton, at the reasonable price of one shilling; for, unlike his brother bards, Mr. Brown never published in an expensive form. He was convinced that merit would not lie hid though concealed in a pamphlet, but likeTerence's beauty, diulatere non potest, and that nonsense, though
rinted in quarto with the types of a Hon. would be still unnoticed and reglected. On his once being shown the
quarto edition of the “White Doe,” and told that he ought to publish in a similar manner, his answer was that “none but the devil's poets needed fine clothes 1” The pamphlet above alluded to was entitled “Poems on Military Battles, Naval Victories, and other important subjects, the most extraordinary ever penned, a Thunderbolt shot from a Lion's Bow at Satan's Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Devil and the Kingdom of this World reserving themselves in darkness for the great and terrible Day of the Lord, as Jude, the servant of God, declareth : By JAMEs Brown, P.L.” This singular work was decorated with a whole length portrait of the author treading on the “devil's books,” and blowing a trumpet to alarm sinners; it was, as we have heard him say, the work of a junior pop, of the ingenious Mr. Bewick. uring the contest for Durham, in 1820, a number of copies of an election squib, written by a humble individual connected with a northern newspaper, and entitled “A Sublime Epistle, Poetic and Politic, by James Brown, P.L.” was sent him for distribution; these, after rinting an explanatory address on the ack of the title, wherein he called himself S. S. L. D., the “Slayer of Seven Legions of Devils,” and disowned the authorship, he turned to his own emolument by selling at sixpence a copy. In religious affairs Brown was extremely superstitious; he believed in every mad fanatic who broached opinions contrary to reason and sense. The wilder the theory, the more congenial to his mind. He was successively a believer in Wesley, Messrs. Buchan, Huntington, Imanuel Swedenburg, and Joanna Southcote; had he lived a little longer he would probably have been “a ranter.” He was a great reader, and what he read he remembered. The bible, of which he had a very old and curious pocket edition in black letter, was his favourite work; next to that he esteemed Alban Butler's wonderful lives of the saints, to every relation of which he gave implicit credit, though, strange to tell, he was in his conversation always violent against the idolatries of the catholic church. o When Brown was a follower of Mr. Buchan, he used to relate that he fasted forty days and forty nights, and it is to this subject that veterinary doctor Marshall, of Durham, his legitimate successor,
alludes in the following lines of an elegy he wrote on the death of his brother poet and friend :— “He fasted forty days and nights When Mr. Buchan put to rights The wicked, for a wonder; And not so much, it has been thought, As weigh'd the button on his coat, He took to keep sin under.” So said a Bion worthy of such an Adonis but other accounts differ. If we may credit Mr. Sykes, the respectable author of “Local Records,” Marshall erred in supposing that the poet, camelion-like, lived on air for “forty days and forty nights.” Mr. Sykes relates that in answer to a question he put to him as to how he contrived for so long a time to sustain the cravings of nature, Brown replied, that “they (he and the rest of the party of fasters) only set on to the fire a great pot, in which they boiled water, and then stirred into it oatmeal, and supped that I’” Brown, was very susceptible of flattery, and all his life long constantly received letters in rhyme, purporting to come from Walter Scott, Byron, Shelley, Southey, Wilson, and other great poets; with communications in prose from the king of England, the emperor of Morocco, the sultan of Persia, &c. All of these he believed to be genuine, and was in the habit of showing as curiosities to his friends, who were frequently the real authors, and laughed in their sleeves at his credulity. In 1821, Brown received a large parchment, signed G. R., attested by Messrs. Canning and Peel, to which was sus[. a large unmeaning seal, which he elieved to be the great seal of Great Britain. This document purported to be a patent of nobility, creating him “baron Durham, of Durham, in the county palatine of Durham.” It recited that this title was conferred on him in consequence of a translation of his works having been the means of converting the Mogul empire From that moment he assumed the name and style of “baron Brown,” and had a wooden box made for the preservation of his patent. Of the poetic pieces which Brown was in the habit of receiving, many were close imitations of the authors whose names were affixed to them, and evinced that the writers were capable of better things. One “from Mr. Coleridge,” was a re
spectable burlesque of the “Ancient Mariner,” and began:—
It is a lion's trumpeter,
Another, “from Mr. Wilson,” commenced thus:
Poetic dreams float round me now,
So beautiful and so fair.
A strain which is so sweet,
Wii, a fairy street !
A piece “from Walter Scott” opened with :—
The heath-cock shrill his clarion blew
These burlesques were chiefly produced by the law and medical students in Newcastle and Durham, and the young gentlemen of the Catholic College of Ushaw, near the latter place. As the writer of this sketch was once congratulating Mr. Brown on his numerous respectable correspondents, the old man said that he had an acquaintance far superior to any of his earthly ones, and no less a personage than the angel Gabriel, who, he stated, brought him letters from Joanna Southcote, and call to carry back his answers l This “Gabriel" was a young West Indian then residing in Durham, who used to dress himself in a sheet with
* Ringing the penance-bell was an expression which, frequently occurred in his writings. As– We toll'd the devil's penance-bell, And warn'd you to keep from heli, &c. The Penance-Bell occurs three or four times in each of his several poems.
goose wings on his shoulders and visit the poet at night, with letters purporting to be written to him in heaven by the farfamed prophetess. After “Gabriel" left Durham, Brown was frequently told of the deception which had been practised upon him, but he never could be induced to believe that his nocturnal visiter was any other than the angel himself. “Did I not,” he once said, “see him clearly fly out at the ceiling !” Brown used to correspond with some of Joanna's followers in London, on the subject of these supposed revelations, and actually found (credite posteri) believers in the genuineness. Amongst Brown's strange ideas, one was that he was immortal, and should never die. Under this delusion when ill he refused all medical assistance, and it induced him at the age of 90 to sell the little property which he acquired by marriage, for a paltry guinea a week, to be o during the life of himself and Mrs. rown, and the life of the survivor. The property he parted from, in consideration of this weekly stipend, was a leasehold house in Sadler-street, (the theatre having been pulled down soon after the erection of the present one opposite to it,) and the house was conveyed to two Durham tradesmen, Robinson Emmerson and George Stonehouse, by whom the allowance was for some time regularly paid; but on the latter becoming embarrassed in his circumstances, the payment was discontinued, and poor Brown and his aged wife were thrown on the world without a farthing, at a time when bodily and mental infirmities had rendered them incapable of gaining a livelihood. Far be it from the writer of this to cast any aspersion on Messrs. Emmerson and Stonehouse, but it does certainly appear to him that their conduct to Brown was unkind to say the least of it. . After this calamity Brown became for a few months an inhabitant of a poor-house, which he subsequently left for a lodging at an obscure inn, where, on the 11th of July, 1823, he died in a state of misery and penury at the advanced age of 92 : his wife shortly afterwards died in the rhouse. They are both interred in the churchyard of St. Oswald. Such was James Brown the Durham poet, who with all his eccentricities was an honest, harmless and inoffensive old man. Of his personal appearance, the excellent portrait which accompanies this memoir from a drawing by W. Terry,
is an exact resemblance. All who knew him will bear testimony to its correctness. It is indeed the only one in existence that gives a correct idea of what he was. The other representations of him are nothing better than caricatures. D.
NATURALIsts' cALEN DAR. Mean Temperature... 58.45.
#eptember 8. NATIVITY B. V. M. The legend of this festival retained in the church of England calendar, is related in vol. i. col. 1274. Chronology. Fatal Puppet Play. Eartract from the Parish Register of
Burwell, in Cambridgeshire, “1727, Se tember 8. N. B. About nine o'clock in the evening, a most dismal fire broke out in a barn in which a great number of persons were met together to see a puppetshow. In the barn there were a great many loads of new light straw; the barn was thatched with straw, which was very dry, and the inner roof of the barn was covered with old dry cobwebs; so that the fire, like lightning, flew round the barn in an instant, and there was but one small door belonging to the barn, which was close nailed up, and could not be easily broke open; and when it was opened, the passage was so narrow, and every body so impatient to escape, that the door was presently blocked up, and most of those that did escape, which were but very few, were forced to crawl over the heads and bodies of those that lay on a heap at the door, and the rest, in number seventy-six, perished instantly, and two more died of their wounds within two days. The fire was occasioned by the negligence of a
servant, who set a candle and lantern to,
or near, the heap of straw that was in the barn. The servant's name was Richard Whitaker, of the parish of Hadstock, in Essex, near Linton, in Cambridgeshire, who was tried for the fact at the assizes held at Cambridge, March 27, 1728, but he was acquitted.”
gular and undesirable spectacle of two unburied coffins, containing human bodies. The coffins are covered with crimson velvet and are otherwise richly embellished. They are placed beside each other on trestles, and bear respectively the following inscriptions :— “JESSIE Aspasia.
The most excellent and truly beloved wife of F. W. Campbell, Esq. of Barbreck, N. B. and of Woodlands in Surrey. Died in her 28th year,
July 11th, 1812.”
“HENRY F. A. Caulfield, Esq.
As it was necessarily supposed that coffins thus open to inspection would excite much curiosity, a card is preserved at the sexton's house, which states, in addition to the intelligence conveyed by the above inscriptions, that the deceased lady was daughter of W. T. Caulfield, Esq. of Rahanduff in Ireland, by Jessie, daughter of James, third lord Ruthven; and that she bore, with tranquil and exemplary patience, a fatal disorder produced by grief on the death of her brother, who removed from a former place of sepulture, now lies beside her in unburied solemnity.
At thisP. of the year the fashionable people of unfashionable times were accustomed to close their sojournments on the coasts, and commence their inland retreats before they “came to town for good.” In this respect manners are altered. The salubrity of the ocean-breeze is now courted, and many families, in defiance of gales and storms, spend the greater part of the winter at the southern watering places. The increase of this remarkable deviation deserves to be noticed, as a growing accommodation to the purposes of life.
A literary gentleman on his arrival from viewing the world of waters, obliges the editor with some original flowings from his pen, so fresh and beautiful, that they are submitted immediately to the reader's enjoyment.
Written in a Cottage by the Sea-side. Hastings.
Ye, who would flee from the world's vanities
I never gaze upon the mighty sea,
I ne'er upon the ocean gaze, but I