Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bramston, James

BRAMSTON, JAMES (1694?–1744), poet, was the son of Francis Bramston, fourth son of Sir Moundeford Bramston, master in chancery, who in his turn was younger son of Sir John Bramston the elder [q.v.], lord chief justice of the king's bench. In 1708 James Bramston went to Westminster School. Thence, in 1713, he passed to Christ Church, Oxford, taking his B.A. degree on 17 May 1717, and his M.A. degree on 6 April 1720. In March 1723 he became vicar of Lurgashall, Sussex, and later (1725) vicar of Harting in the same county, obtaining a dispensation to hold both livings. In 1729 he published the 'Art of Politicks,' an imitation of the 'Ars Poetica' of Horace, accompanied by a clever frontispiece illustrating the opening lines:—

If to a Human Face Sir James [Thornhill] should draw
A Gelding's Mane, and Feathers of Maccaw,
A Lady's Bosom, and a Tail of Cod,
Who could help laughing at a Sight so odd?
Just such a Monster, Sirs, pray think before ye,
When you behold one Man both Whig and Tory.
Not more extravagant are Drunkard's Dreams',
Than Low-Church Politicks with High-Church Schemes.

The 'Art of Politicks' was followed by 'The Man of Taste. Occasion'd by an Epistle of Mr. Pope's on that subject' (i.e. that to the Earl of Burlington, 1731), 1733. Both these little satires, which hold an honourable place in eighteenth-century verse, abound with contemporary references, and frequently happy lines. They were reprinted in vol. i. of Dodsley's 'Poems by several Hands.' The only other works attributed to Bramston are some Poems in 'Carolina Quadragesimalia;' one in the University Collection on the death of Dr. Radcliffe, 1715; 'Ignorami Lamentatio,' 1736; and a not very successful imitation of the 'Splendid Shilling' of John Philips, entitled 'The Crooked Sixpence,' Dodsley, 1743. This, in 'a learned preface,' is ascribed to Katherine Philips (the 'matchless Orinda'). 'Bramston,' say the authors of Dallaway and Cartwright's 'History of Sussex,' ii. (i.) 365, 'was a man of original humour, the fame and proofs of whose colloquial wit are still remembered in this part of Sussex.' He died 16 March 1744.

[Rawlinson MSS. fol. 16, 271, 4to, 5, 217; Thompson Cooper in Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. v. 205; Alumni Wesmonasterienses, 1852, 260; Bramston's Works in British Museum.]

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