Mrs. Brooke - PA Criticism Archive

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Frances Brooke, whose maiden name was Moore, an elegant and accomplished woman, was the wife of a clergyman. She had, at one time, a share in the management of the Opera House. Her publications are numerous. She wrote a periodical paper entitled The Old Maid, [2]  and some pieces for the theatre. She translated Lady Catesby’s Letters [3]  from the French, and several other works. The two novels by which she is best known are Emily Montague, and Lady Julia Mandeville. [4]  The latter is a simple, well connected story, told with elegance and strong effect. It is a forcible appeal to the feelings against the savage practice of duelling. Emily Montague is less interesting in the story, which serves but as a thread to connect a great deal of beautiful description of the manners and scenery of Canada, which country the author had visited. Mrs. Brooke was perhaps the first female novel-writer who attained a perfect purity and polish of style. The whole is correct and easy, and many passages are highly beautiful.

What can be more animated than the description of the breaking up of the vast body of ice which forms what is called the bridge, from Quebec to Point Levi? "The ice before the town being five feet thick, a league in length,

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and more than a mile broad, resists for a long time the rapid tide that attempts to force it from the banks. At length," she says, "the hour is come. I have been with a crowd of both sexes, and all ranks, hailing the propitious moment. Our situation on the top of Cape Diamond gave us a prospect some leagues above and below the town. Above Cape Diamond the river was open; it was so below Point Levi, the rapidity of the current having forced a passage for the water under the transparent bridge, which for more than a league continued firm. We stood waiting with all the eagerness of expectation; the tide came rushing in with amazing impetuosity; the bridge seemed to shake, yet resisted the force of the waters; the tide recoiled, it made a pause, it stood still, it returned with a redoubled fury,—the immense mass of ice gave way. A vast plain appeared in motion; it advanced with solemn and majestic pace; the points of land on the banks of the river for a few moments stopped its progress; but the immense weight of so prodigious a body, carried along by a rapid current, bore down all opposition with a force irresistible."

The manners of the Canadians are equally well described: and this lady’s account both of the climate and the people corresponds to the favourable impression which other travellers give us, both of the country and the inhabitants; the climate healthy and pleasant, though cold, and the inhabitants preserving so near the pole the gaiety and urbanity of their native France. This lady died in 1789.


[1] The British Novelists; with an Essay; and Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, by Mrs. Barbauld, 50 Vols. (London: Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington; W. Otridge and Son; A. Strahan; T. Payne; G. Robinson; W. Lowndes; Wilkie and Robinson; Scatcherd and Letterman; J. Walker; Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe; R. Lea; J. Nunn; Lackington and Co.; Clarke and Son; C. Law; Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; Cadell and Davies; E. Jeffery; J.K. Newman; Crosby and Co.; J. Carpenter; S. Bagster; T. Booth; J. Murray; J. and J. Richardson; Black, Parry, and Kingsbury; J. Harding; R. Phillips; J. Mawman; J. Booker; J. Asperne; R. Baldwin; Mathews and Leigh; J. Faulder; Johnson and Co.; W. Creech, Edinburgh; and Wilson and Son, York, 1810), 27:i-ii. Mary A. Waters edited this edition for The Criticism Archive. BACK

[2] A weekly periodical published on Saturdays from November 15, 1755 to July 24, 1756 under the pseudonym "Mary Singleton." BACK

[3] Letters from Juliet Lady Catesby, (1759), an epistolary novel by Marie Riccoboni. BACK

[4] Novels published 1769 and 1763, respectively. The History of Lady Julia Mandeville is the novel featured in The British Novelists. BACK

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