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The Excursion

The Excursion

Paula R. Backscheider
Hope D. Cotton
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by:
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Excursion
    Book Description:

    Frances Brooke (1724-1789), journalist, translator, playwright, novelist, and even co-manager of a theater, was described as "perhaps the first female novel-writer who attained a perfect purity and polish of style." Today, Brooke is known primarily forThe History of Emily Montague,one of the earliest novels about Canada, where she lived for a number of years. But it is her third novel,The Excursion, that is an important example of the fashionable and popular English novels of the late 1770s.

    Written for the very audience it portrays, this novel introduces the heroine, Maria Villiers, to London's "gentle" society and its glittering pastimes. Brooke drew upon the English courtship novel in the tradition of Eliza Haywood, Henry Fielding, and Frances Burney for her novel's overarching plot structure. But instead of concentrating on Maria's romantic adventures, she experiments with unusual treatments of subplots and unconventional characters.

    The most interesting aspect of her story is the development of Maria's ambition to win fame and fortune as a writer; it is one of the few portraits of a woman with literary ambitions by an early woman writer. Brooke's wry narrative voice foreshadows that of Jane Austen.

    The editors' introduction placesThe Excursionfirmly in the tradition of the English novel, provides a fresh biography of Brooke, and brings together the most important eighteenth- and twentieth-century criticism of Brooke's work.

    The second volume in the series Eighteenth-Century Novels by Women,The Excursioncontributes to our understanding of the development of the novel and offers a lively view of women's position in eighteenth-century English society.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5796-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Paula Backscheider
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xlvi)

    The heroine of Frances Brooke’sThe Excursion(1777) comes to London with a novel, an epic poem, and a tragedy, which she believes the guarantee of her fame and economic security. Brooke herself may not have arrived in London in 1748 with her luggage stuffed with manuscripts, but before she died at age sixty-five she had published almost every kind of economically profitable literary type—and succeeded notably at each. At the midpoint of her career, a reviewer for theCritical Reviewwrote that Brooke was so well known “it would be superfluous . . . to say anything of...

  5. Chronology of Events in Frances Moore Brooke’s Life
    (pp. xlvii-l)
  6. Note on the Text
    (pp. li-liv)
  7. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. 1-2)
  8. The Excursion:: VOLUME THE FIRST

    • Book I
      (pp. 5-16)

      On a mild evening in September last, as the two nieces of Col. Dormer, a gentleman of small fortune, in Rutland,¹ were leaning over the terrace wall of their uncle’s garden, admiring the radiant lustre of the setting sun, the mixed gold and azure which played on a rustic temple belonging to a neighboring villa, praising the heart-felt pleasures of retirement, and the tranquil joys of a rural life, the lovely Lady H—, whose charms had raised her to the most distinguished rank, happened to pass by, in a superb carriage, with a numerous train of attendants, in her...

    • Book II
      (pp. 17-31)

      I know not which, of two very common errors, most merits reprehension, the thoughtless passion of young ladies in the country to see London, or the short-sighted wisdom of their papas and mammas, such I mean whose situations give them the power to comply, in neglecting to indulge this very pardonable inclination; an inclination founded on the restless curiosity of the human mind, and never dangerous but when controlled.

      Let your children, ye careful parents, see this world of which they entertain such fallacious ideas. Let their own experience, for they will never grow wise from yours, break the gay...

    • Book III
      (pp. 32-51)

      It was one of those clear frosty mornings in January*, which make us often forget the season, the blue serene almost rivaling the brightest tints of a summer sky, when Col. Dormer and Louisa, impatient to hear from their dear wanderer, drove, as soon as they had breakfasted, to meet their letters at Stamford.

      Col. Dormer was surprized at receiving no answer from Mrs. Herbert; to whom he had written the day after Maria left Belfont, to recommend her in the strongest terms to that friendship she had so warmly professed for this amiable girl, which he began to fear...

    • Book IV
      (pp. 52-72)

      Poor Maria! This journey was a stroke she did not expect. How give wings to the lazy-footed time? How pass the tedious hours of Lord Melvile’s absence from London?

      Lady Hardy came in, laughed at her gravity, and, though with great difficulty, seduced her to a card party: she lost fifty guineas¹ at loo, found the company detestable, and came home determined to play no more; her little exchequer was wasting away, and she was in danger of being distrest before her great plan was accomplished; a plan in which her heart was now interested, though vanity had been its...

  9. The Excursion:: VOLUME THE SECOND

    • Book V
      (pp. 75-93)

      If Miss Villiers was elated with the sudden return of her noble lover, a return which she, with great appearance of probability, attributed to the excess of his affection, and his inability to live longer absent from her; she was still more so on receiving from him the next morning a letter, in which, after some general professions of the most ardent passion, he intreated permission to attend her in Berner’s-street any evening she would appoint, when he could have the pleasure of entertaining her, without witnesses, on a subject of the utmost consequence to the future happiness ofhis...

    • Book VI
      (pp. 94-109)

      “When Miss Villiers rose in the morning, she found Mrs. Merrick in her dining-room waiting her coming, in order to attend herself, as she sometimes did, during breakfast.

      The grave air of this good woman alarmed her; she enquired, with the utmost kindness of manner, if she was well.

      “Very well, I thank you, madam, but”

      “But what, Mrs. Merrick? You generally meet with smiles.”

      “I am a little uneasy”

      “Is your uneasiness any thing I can remove?”

      “Sure enough you can, my dear young lady, for it is entirely on your account.”

      After fifty apologies, and as many protestations...

    • Book VII
      (pp. 110-122)

      Miss Villiers expected Lord Claremont’s visit with an impatience which will easily be imagined; but an impatience mixed with the most alarming apprehensions.

      He might not see her with the same eyes as his son; he might, on finding the disproportion of fortune so very great, think the attachment imprudent, and insist on a sacrifice, which, however painful to love, filial duty might render indispensable.

      At eight, on Sunday evening, February the twenty-sixth (the reader must have been very inattentive if he has not observed the precision of our chronology, a point on which we pique ourselves as much as...

    • Book VIII
      (pp. 123-154)

      If Mr. Hammond’s wheels had been as rapid as his ideas, he would have reached Belfont (for thither he bent his course) with the velocity of a spirit.

      He arrived at this abode of tranquillity about twelve on Monday morning, and found Col. Dormer hanging with undissembled rapture over an expanding rose-bud in his Lilliputian¹ green-house.

      Mr. Hammond could not have met with a more favourable occasion of being eloquent, and even poetical, than the present.

      He knew all of which Lady Blast was capable.

      He had, by accident from a female friend, heard all the slanderous effusions of the...

  10. Notes to the Novel
    (pp. 155-170)
  11. Revisions Made in the Second Edition
    (pp. 171-178)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 179-182)