Browne, James (1793-1841) (DNB00)
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Browne, James (1793-1841)
|Browne, John (1642-1700?)→|
BROWNE, JAMES, LL.D. (1793-1841), journalist and author, was the son of a manufacturer at Coupar Angus, and was born at Whitefield, parish of Cargill, Perthshire, in 1793. He was educated for the ministry of the church of Scotland at the university of St. Andrews, where he specially distinguished himself in classics. After obtaining license to preach he spent some time on the continent as tutor in a private family. On his return to Scotland he acted as assistant classical master in Perth Academy, officiating at the same time as interim assistant to the minister of Kinnoul, Perthshire. About this time he published anonymously a History of the Inquisition,' which obtained a large circulation, and in 1817 he printed a sermon preached on the death of the Princess Charlotte. Either because he found his work uncongenial, or because he saw little prospect of obtaining a parish, he resolved to study for the bar. He passed advocate in 1826, and received the degree of LL.D. from the university of St. Andrews; but failing to obtain a practice at the bar he gradually turned his attention wholly to literature. For some time he acted as editor of the 'Scots Magazine,' and in 1827 he became editor of the 'Caledonian Mercury,' to which in the same year he contributed certain articles which assisted to bring to light the Burke and Hare murders. During his editorship of the 'Mercury' he became involved in a dispute with Mr. Charles Maclaren, editor of the 'Scotsman,' with the result that they fought a duel, in which neither was injured. In 1830 he resigned the editorship of the 'Mercury,' and started the 'North Britain;' but after the discontinuance of that paper he resumed the editorship of the 'Mercury.' When the issue of the seventh edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' was resolved upon, he was appointed assistant editor. In his books and in his newspaper articles the excitability of his temperament was mirrored in a boisterous and blustering mode of expression, cleverly caricatured in an article in 'Blackwood' (vol. xviii.), entitled 'Some Passages in the Life of Colonel Cloud.'
He was the author of:
- 'A Sketch of the History of Edinburgh,' attached to Ewbank's 'Picturesque Views of Edinburgh,' 1823-5.
- 'Critical Examination of Macculloch's Work on the Highlands and Islands of Scotland,' 1826.
- 'Aperçu sur les Hiéroglyphes d'Egypte,' Paris, 1827; a French translation of articles contributed to the 'Edinburgh Review.'
- 'Remarks on the Study of the Civil Law, occasioned by Mr. Brougham's late attack on the Scottish Bar,' 1828.
- A popular and interesting 'History of the Highlands and of the Highland Clans,' in four volumes, 1st ed. 1835-8, 2nd ed. 1845.
By his excessive literary labours he overtasked his strength and induced a severe attack of paralysis, from which his recoverv was never more than partial. He died April 1841 at Woodbine Cottage, Trinity, near Edinburgh, and was buried in Duddingstone churchyard. In his later years he became a convert to the Roman catholic faith, and he wrote a tractate, entitled 'Examination of Sir Walter Scott's Opinions regarding Popery,' which was published posthumously in 1845.
[Caledonian Mercury, 10 April 1841; Gent. Mag. new ser. xv. 662; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 400-1; Encyc. Brit. 9th ed. iv. 389.]