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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Portrait Of A Man: John Brown


To those of you who saw the title of this post via RSS feed, you're probably thinking "what the heck?"

But I'm not talking about that John Brown.

This John Brown was quite the opposite.

He was born on December 26th, 1826 in Crathie, Scotland to humble parents and was raised as a servant at Balmoral Castle. When Balmoral was purchased by Prince Albert in 1853, he befriended Brown. Brown was soon attached to the queen as her servant.
After Albert's death in 1861, Brown was called down to Windsor to attend her and hopefully raise her spirits. He was often critisized for his less than formal manner of addressing the queen, often calling her "woman". Despite this, they developed a close relationship. Of course, the media had a ball with this, hinting that the relationship was something less than honorable, calling the queen "Mrs. Brown", because she relied so heavily on him. The truth of the matter was that ceremony meant little to John Brown where the Queen's interests were concerned. An example of this was when he told the Prince of Wales, overheard by servants, " Ye'll no'see your Royal mither till five o'clock."
In December of 1865, Brown accompanied the Queen and her daughters to the Mauseleum at Frogmore, where she paid her respects on the fourth anniversary of her husband's death. Later John Brown came to her room for his orders, when the Queen saw tears rolling down his cheeks. " I didn't like to see ye at Frogmore this morning. I felt for ye, to see ye coming there with ye daughters and your husband lying there. No, I didn't like to see it; I felt sorry for ye---ye who had been so happy. There is no more pleasure for ye, poor Queen."
The Queen announced she would attend a military review in Hyde Park in July 1867 and would be attended by Brown (in his usual kilt). After her Ministers discussed the probability of further gossip in the press about the conspicuous Highlander, the Queen, who found out about the objections to Brown's presence, said "If the government wants me, they have to put up with John Brown." He became the only person in her life whom she trusted completely. When he helped her secure her bonnet, he would say "Hoots, then wumman! Can ye not hold yerr head up?" Or, when he disapproved of a wrap she was wearing, he would ask her " What's this ye've got on today?" What others perceived as bold behavior was completely disarming to Victoria. The stories circulated at the Court about Brown's drinking made no difference to the Queen. To Victoria he was beyond any criticism.
In early 1862 the Queen returned from St. Paul's. Brown was sitting as usual behind the queen on the carriage. At the gates to Buckingham Palace, a seventeen year old Fenian, Arthur O'Connor, made his way to the carriage door and pointed a pistol at the Queen. The ever watchful Brown leaped from the rumble seat and seized the would-be assassin by the throat. In the aftermath, there were renewed demonstrations of loyalty to the Crown. For the third time in the same week, Victoria rode out to the cheering of the crowds, with Brown behind her as usual keeping a watchful eye.
By 1883, the Queen had become overweight and looked old and grey.The rumors had finally come to an end, and Brown's presence was accepted for the watchful care it truly was. He often worked seven days a week despite chills and fever. On this day 127 years ago, John Brown died at 10:40 in the evening. Victoria's son Leopold went to her dressing room and "broke the dreadful news to me that my good faithful Brown had passed away." It was a terrible blow to Victoria. To Vicky's eldest daughter in Berlin the Queen wrote "for 18 years and a half, Brown never left my side." Her wreath, sent to Scotland and placed on Brown's coffin, was "A tribute of loving, grateful and everlasting friendship and affection from his truest, best and most faithful friend Victoria R&I."

Author's note:
There is a fantastic film called "Mrs. Brown" which depicts the relationship between John Brown and Queen Victoria. It does have a bad scene.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Bria said...

Wow I had no idea about Mr. Brown! I recently saw 'The Young Victoria' and I loved the devotion Victoria and Albert had to each other. First time I've heard about Mr. Brown.

I like the new redo to the blog. The rustic boards look real.

March 27, 2010 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I can not wait to watch that movie!

March 31, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Bria:
I like Mrs. Brown waaaaaay better than the Young Victoria!

Thanks for the comment.

March 31, 2010 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

We watched it and I would give it 3.5 stars.

April 13, 2010 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Gravelbelly said...

I, too, have seen "Mrs. Brown" (on network TV) & think it's a good movie. Billy Connolly's portrayal of Brown makes me pine for the land of my fathers.

April 25, 2010 at 10:44 PM  

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