1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Frances Brooke

Anonymous, Obituary in The Star (31 January 1789).



This lady, as remarkable for her virtues, for her gentleness and suavity of manners, as for her great literary accomplishments, expired on Monday last very suddenly of a spasmodic complaint — She had lately retired to Lincolnshire to the house of her son, who has preferment in that country.

Her first performance which introduced her to the notice and consequent esteem of the public, was Julia Mandeville, a work concerning which there were various opinions, but which every body read with eagerness — It has been often wished that she had made the catastrophe less melancholy, — and we believe that she afterwards was of the same opinion, but she thought it beneath her character to alter it.

She soon afterwards went to Canada with her husband, who was Chaplain to the Garrison at Quebec, and here she saw and loved those romantic characters and scenes which gave birth to Emily Montague, a work most deservedly in universal esteem, which has passed through several editions, and which is now not easily met with. On her return to England accident introduced her, and congenial sentiments attracted her to Mrs. YATES; an intimacy was formed, which terminated only with the life of this Lady. — Mrs. BROOKE in consequence of this connection formed an acquaintance with Mr. GARRICK, and wrote some pieces for the stage — she had, however, great reason to be dissatisfied with his behaviour as manager, and she made the Excursion, a novel, which she wrote at this time, the vehicle by which she exhibited to the public her complaints and anger against the King of Drury — Her anger we believe was just, but the retribution was too severe — She herself afterwards thought so, for she lamented and retracted it.

Her next literary effort was the Siege of Sinone, a tragedy, introduced by Mr. HARRIS, and written principally with a view of placing Mrs. YATES in a conspicuous character. This did not altogether fail, but it did not become popular — it wanted energy, and it had not much originality — there was little to disapprove, but there was nothing to admire.

Her next and most popular production was Rosina, which in a very liberal manner she presented to Mr. HARRIS — few modern pieces have been equally successful. — Last year also, a musical piece of her's was introduced, which is now occasionally exhibited, for which we believe Shield is principally to be thanked.

Mrs. BROOKE was also the translator of various books from the French — She was esteemed by JOHNSON, valued by Miss SEWARD, and courted by all the first characters of her time.