1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Brown

Isaac Reed, in Dodsley, Collection of Poems (1782) 3:295-96n.



Dr. John Brown was descended from a family which had been settled at Colstown, near Haddington, in Scotland. His father was a native of Duns, and at the time of his son's birth curate to the rector of Rothbury in Northumberland: — at this place Dr. Brown was born, 5th of November 1715. He received his education at Wigton in Cumberland, from whence he was removed to the university of Cambridge, where he was matriculated on the 18th of December 1732, and entered of St. John's college, under the tuition of Dr. Tunstall. After taking the degree of Batchelor of Arts, he returned to Wigton, and was ordained by Dr. Fleming, Bishop of Carlisle. His first preferment was to a minor canonry and lecturership of the cathedral church of Carlisle. He remained in obscurity in that city several years; but in the rebellion 1745, gave a proof both of his spirit and attachment to the royal cause, by acting as a volunteer at the siege of Carlisle castle. In 1739 he took the degree of M.A. and soon after was presented to the living of Morland in the county of Westmorland. He resigned his preferments at Carlisle in disgust, and removed to the metropolis; where, by means of his writings, he became known to Dr. Warburton, who introduced him to Lord Hardwicke; from that nobleman he obtained the living of Great Horkesley in Essex, which he held several years, and then resigned it, on being promoted to the vicarage of Newcastle: this was his last and greatest preferment. In the latter part of his life he had an invitation from the empress of Russia, to superintend a grand design which she had formed, of extending the advantages of civilization over that great empire. He accepted the offer, and actually prepared for his journey; but finding his health in too precarious a state, he was obliged to relinquish his intention. This and other disappointments were followed by a dejection of spirits, to which he had been often subject, and which greatly affected his reason. In an interval of lunacy he was prompted to do violence to himself; and on the 23d of September 1766 cut his throat, in the fifty-first year of his age.