CHARLOTTE BROOKE was born at Rantavan, county Cavan, in 1740.171 She was the daughter of Henry Brooke ( 1703-83) who was the author of, among numerous other works, that surprisingly well-told moral tale, The Fool of Quality ( 1760-62), and Gustavus Vasa ( 1739), a tragedy. She has been called "the wellbeloved and flattering child of his old age."172 She was educated by her father in literature, music, and art; "such were his talents of instruction, and her facility of retaining it, that in her fifth year she was able to read, distinctly and rapidly, any English book."173 Another side of her father's instruction comes to us most clearly perhaps from the anecdote of him that tells how the congregation of the church Mr. Brooke attended asked him one Sunday morning, in the absence of the minister, to take the pulpit.
He consented, and the prayers being over with he opened the Bible and preached extempore on the first text that struck his eye. In the middle of his discourse the clergyman entered and found the whole congregation in tears. He entreated Mr. Brooke to proceed; but this he modestly refused; and the other as modestly declared, that, after the testimony of superior abilities, which he perceived in the eyes of all present, he would think it presumptive and folly to hazard anything his own.174
Charlotte's interest in the Gaelic language was first aroused when she heard one of her father's laborers read to an im____________________