This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Saturday Rave: Frances Brooke.

What is eccentricity other than a determination not to pretend?

The marvellous Frances Brooke, the unmarried daughter of a respectable clergyman, left Lancashire for London in the 1740s to pursue a career as a novelist, poet and playwright. She managed quite nicely, too, becoming a friend of Dr Johnson and part of the busy literary scene.

She wrote under the name of Mary Singleton, Spinster, and produced her own magazine The Old Maid, which she began when she was thirty one. She did actually marry, eventually, but mostly managed to avoid the annoyances of cohabitation by yoking herself to a man just about to set off for Canada. She did follow him, again eventually, and even stayed for five years, producing what may have been the first novel written in North America, The History of Emily Montague.

Here are a couple of stanzas from a patriotic poem written by Frances Brooke in support of the sadly rather short-lived Prince Frederick (and therefore designed to annoy the King and his government). 

Prophetic, lo! my raptur'd mind
Beholds, as rolling minutes move,
A patriot-monarch, who shall find
His safety in his people's love.
Unbrib'd, around his grateful subjects stand,
While base Corruption, blushing, leaves the land!

Then o'er Britannia's beauteous isle
Shall peace and arts together rise;
Encourag'd by the Royal smile,
Shall future Homer's reach the skies:
Each modest muse shall raise her drooping head,
Nor pine, neglected, in the barren shade.

(I apologise for the apostrophe in Homer's, but that's how it is in my source.)

No, I agree she doesn't seem to have been a very good poet, but, hey, she made a living at writing so good for her. You can read the rest of her Ode To Fame HERE.

The main reason I have an affection for Frances Brooke, I must admit, is because she seems to have been the first person to give pleasurable annoyance to generations of pedants by using the word literally in a figurative sense:

He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of the women at his arrival; it is literally to feed among the lilies.

And I, for one, am grateful.

Word To Use Today: beauteous. This is a word much-used by bad writers. This word comes from the Old French biau, beauty, from the Latin bellus, handsome or charming.

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