The Death of John Brown

Dedicated Expressly to Her Most Gracious Majesty

Alas! faithful John Brown he is dead,
Who often did the heather tread
By the side of his most gracious Queen,
Near by Balmoral Palace and its pine trees so green.

I hope he now traverses that Heavenly Shore
Where peace, love and joy does last for evermore;
In that happy land of bliss where the Sun shines bright,
Where God’s family adores Him day and night.

He now lies buried in Crathie Churchyard,
And Her Majesty had for him a great regard,
Because he was her faithful servant for many years,
And at his grave betimes, no doubt, she will shed tears.

He was a man of honesty and trust,
But his body now lies mouldering in the dust;
But such is the doom of all mankind,
From the king to the beggar, and also the hind.

He was modest and manly in his way,
A kind of shy and had little to say;
But he was loving and true to his Queen at the heart,
And he was ever ready to take her part.

He was a man of most stately mein
And most handsome to be seen,
And ever watchful of his Queen
By mountain, and lake, or forest green.

A Glengary Bonnet and Kilt did his body adorn,
Which enhanced the beauty of his form;
And at Crathie was he born,
Where the pine trees grow, and yellow corn.

I’m sure her Majesty will miss him now,
As she wanders by the mountains’ brow,
And among the bonnie highland floral,
Near by the river Dee and the Palace of Balmoral.

He wont to cheer her Majesty by the way,
As cheerfully together they did stray
Among the bonnie, highland, heathery hills,
To view their clear, crystal, sparkling rills.

Strength and courage he did not lack-
Many times he carried the Queen upon his back
O’er little rivulets, and waters wide,
And the marshy grounds by the hillside.

Her Majesty, now, will feel a great loss,
Because she has no one, now, to carry her across
The marshy grounds, or the boggy moss;
Therefore the world to her will seem as dross.

No doubt her spirits will be cast down
For the loss of her faithful servant, John Brown,
Who wont to fill her heart with glee,
While hunting the wild deer on the banks of the Dee.

But the best of friends, ’tis said must part!
Therefore, I hope her Majesty will keep up her heart,
And no longer lament the death of John Brown,
For fear the Almighty does on her frown;

Because He gives us life, and He takes it away,
And watches all His creatures by night and by day;
So, therefore, let her put all her trust in Him,
And He will fill her heart with joy to the brim.

I hope God will be her Comforter by night and by day,
At home, and abroad, when she’s far away,
And in her daily walks around Balmoral,
As she views mountain and lake, and the bonnie highland floral.

God Save Our Gracious Queen and long may she reign;
And let all subjects say, Amen!–
For she is a generous Queen, indeed,
And ready to help the poor when they are in need.

The Late John Brown

Mr John Brown, who has been in the service of Her Majesty the Queen since 1849, and who has been her close personal attendant since 1858, died on Tuesday night at Windsor Castle, after a short illness, in his 57th year. Death was the result of erysipelas. Sir William Jenner, physician to the Queen was in attendance, but all that skill could do was unavailing. The news of the death of John Brown, by which name was familiarly known, caused much surprise as well as sorrow on Deeside, of which strath was a native. It is expected the funeral will take place at Balmoral.

The Dundee Advertiser says:— John Brown was a personage of his kind, and once or twice in his career engaged as much public attention as a Secretary of State. This interest will be revived by his sudden death, which seems to be indirectly connected with the now notorious Dixie affair. When the story of Lady Florence Dixie reached the Queen, she sent John Brown to make inquiry about it. In the performance of this duty he was exposed to a keen east wind, and caught the cold which resulted in his death. John Brown was a remarkable person. He impressed those who knew him with a sense of quite an aggressive individuality, and he would have succeeded in any work to which he might have been trained. He was born in one of the few Aberdeenshire parishes where the means of education were at the time of his boyhood hardly up to the county standard, and like so many other Highland fathers and mothers his parents were content that he should enter a service in which they wear livery. He soon grew out of the livery, and his faithful service of the Prince Consort, and afterwards of the Queen, won him a position which made him the envy and admiration of all his class. If success be estimated by the place which one holds without discredit in the public eye John Brown may be said to have succeeded better than all but a handful of successful British subjects. No doubt he filled a useful place in the world, and so far as worldly reward went the records of the Court remain to tell that he honourably gained a not unenviable share. There was nothing of the menial in his disposition. Independence of a kind fond of asserting itself, sometimes without much regard to what is called politeness, was his most pronounced characteristic. He spoke to the Queen just as he did to his intimates, and the Queen, who understood him, probably valued him all the more on that account. It was his conviction that there never was in this world any one so good or so great as the Queen; but of Royal people in general he had but a poor opinion, and the scorn in which be held many of the aristocracy who surrounded Courts did not easily find expression in his native tongue. It should added that he extended the same scorn to the press. If he had been absolute ruler of the land there would have been no newspapers but the Gazette and the Court Journal. On the Balmoral estate he exercised large power, and it was creditable to him that the use which he made of it made him well liked on the estate and among his fellow servants at the Castle. He was a shrewd, capable, kind-hearted, honest man. Many associations and memories made his work of peculiar value in the Royal household, and his death will come to the Queen as loss of no ordinary kind. The esteem in which the Queen held him is shown in the Court Circular’s notice of his death. No other man has been so spoken of in that publication during Her Majesty’s reign.

Shetland Times, 7th April 1883

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