The Daughters of England/Preface
There can be no more gratifying circumstance to a writer, than to find that a subject which has occupied her thoughts, and employed her pen, has also been occupying the thoughts of thousands of her fellow-beings; but she is gratified in a still higher degree to find, that the peculiar views she entertains on that subject, are beginning to be entertained by a vast number of the intelligent and thinking part of the community, with whom she was not previously aware of sharing, either in their sympathy, or their convictions.
Such are the circumstances under which "The Women of England" has been received by the public, with a degree of favour, which the merits of the work alone would never have procured for it. And as no homage of mere admiration could have been so welcome to the author, as the approval it has met with at many an English hearth, she has been induced to ask the attention of the public again, to a farther exemplification of some subjects but slightly touched upon, and a candid examination of others which found no place, in that work.
The more minute the details of individual, domestic, and social duty, to which allusion is made, the more necessary it becomes to make a distinct classification of the different eras in woman's personal experience; the Author, therefore, proposes dividing the subject into three parts, in which will be separately considered, the character and situation of the Daughters, Wives, and Mothers of England.
The Daughters of England only form the subject of the present volume: and as in a former work the remarks which were offered to the public upon the social and domestic duties of woman, were expressly limited to the middle ranks of society in Great Britain; so, in the present, it must be clearly understood as the intention of the writer to address herself especially to the same interesting and influential class of her countrywomen. Much that is contained in that volume, too, might with propriety have been repeated here, had not the Author preferred referring the reader again to those pages, assured that she will be more readily pardoned for this liberty, than for transcribing a fainter copy of what was written in the first instance fresh from the heart.
It seems to be the peculiar taste of the present day to write, and to read, on the subject of woman. Some apology for thus taxing the patience of the public might be necessary, were it not that both honour and justice are due to a theme, in which a female sovereign may, without presumption, be supposed to sympathize with her people. Thus, while the character of the daughter, the wife, and the mother, are so beautifully exemplified in connection with the dignity of a British Queen, it is the privilege of the humblest, as well as the most exalted of her subjects, to know that the heart of woman, in all her tenderest and holiest feelings, is the same beneath the shelter of a cottage, as under the canopy of a throne.
- Rose Hill, January 10th, 1842.