Brooke, Frances

, whose maiden name was Moore, was the daughter of a clergyman, and the wife of the rev. John Brooke, rector of Colney in Norfolk, of St. Augustine in the city of Norwich, and chaplain to the garrison of Quebec. She was as remarkable for her gentleness and suavity of manners as for her literary talents. Her husband died on the 21st of January 1789, and she herself expired on the 26th of the same month, at Sleaford, where she had retired to the house of her son, now rector of Folkingham in Lincolnshire. Her disorder was a spasmodic complaint. The first literary performance we know of her writing was the “Old Maid,” a periodical work, begun November 15, 1755, and continued every Saturday until about the end of July 1756. These papers have | since been collected into one volume 12mo. In the same year (1756) she published “Virginia,” a tragedy, with odes, pastorals, and translations, 8vo. In the preface to this publication she assigns as a reason for its appearance, “that she was precluded from all hopes of ever seeing the tragedy brought upon the stage, by there having been two so lately on the same subject.” “If hers,” she adds, “should be found to have any greater resemblance to the two represented, than the sameness of the story made unavoidable, of which she is not conscious, it must have been accidental on her side, as there are many persons of very distinguished rank and unquestionable veracity, who saw hers in manuscript before the others appeared, and will witness for her, that she has taken no advantage of having seen them. She must here do Mr. Crisp the justice to say, that any resemblance must have been equally accidental on his part, as he neither did, nor could see her Virginia before his own was played; Mr. Garrick having declined reading hers till Mr. Crisp’s was published.” Prefixed to this publication were proposals for printing by subscription a poetical translation, with notes, of il Pastor Fido, a work which probably was never completed.

In 1763 she published a novel, entitled, “The History of Lady Julia Mandeville,” concerning the plan of which there were various opinions, though of the execution there seems to have been but one. It was read with much avidity and general approbation. It has been often, however, wished that the catastrophe had been less melancholy; and of the propriety of this opinion the authoress herself is said to have been satisfied, but did not choose to make the alteration. In the same year she published “Letters from Juliet lady Catesby to her friend lady Henrietta Campley,” translated from the French, 12mo. She soon afterwards went to Canada with her husband, who was chaplain to the garrison at Quebec; and there saw those romantic scenes so admirably painted in her next work, entitled, “The History of Emily Montagu,1769, 4 vols. 12mo. The next year she published “Memoirs of the Marquis of St. Forlaix,” in 4 vols. 12mo. On her return to England accident brought her acquainted with Mrs. Yates, and an intimacy was formed between them which lasted as long as that lady lived; and when she died, Mrs. Brooke did honour to her memory by a eulogium printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine. If we are not mistaken, | Mrs. Brooke had with Mrs. Yates fora time some share in the opera-house. She certainly had some share of the libellous abuse which the management of that theatre during the above period gave birth to. We have already seen that her first play had been refused by Mr. Garrick. After the lapse of several years she was willing once -more to try her fortune at the theatre, and probably relying on the influence of Mrs. Yates to obtain its representation, produced a tragedy which had not the good fortune to please the manager. He therefore rejected it; and by that means excited the resentment of the authoress so much that she took a severe revenge on him in a novel published in 1777, entitled the “Excursion,” in 2 vols. 12mo. It is not certainly known whether this rejected tragedy is or is not the same as was afterwards acted at Covent-garden. If it was, it will furnish no impeachment of Mr. Garrick’s judgment. It ought, however, <to be added, that our authoress, as is said, thought her invective too severe; lamented and retracted it. In 1771 she translated “Elements of the History of England, from the invasion of the Romans to the reign of George II. from the abbe Millot,” in 4 vols. 12mo. In January 1781, the “Siege of Sinope,” a tragedy, was acted at Coventgarden. This piece added but little to her reputation, though the principal characters were well supported by Mr. Henderson and Mrs. Yates. It went nine nights, but never became popular; it wanted energy, and had not much originality; there was little to disapprove, but nothing to admire. Her next and most popular performance was “Rosina,” acted at Covent-garden in December 1782. This she presented to Mr. Harris, and few pieces have been equally successful. The simplicity of the story, the elegance of the words, and the excellence of the music, promise a long duration to this drama. Her concluding work was “Marian,” acted 1788 at Covent-garden with some success, but very much inferior to Rosina. 1


From our last edition.—Gent. Mag. vol. LIX.—Biog. Dram.—Nichols’s Life of Bowyer.