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PREFACE

In her later years Miss Edgeworth was often asked to write a biographical preface to her novels. She refused. "As a woman," she said, "my life, wholly domestic, can offer nothing of interest to the public." Incidents indeed, in that quiet happy home existence, there were none to narrate, nothing but the ordinary joys and sorrows which attend every human life. Yet the letters of one so clear - sighted and sagacious one whom Macaulay considered to be the second woman of her age - are valuable, not only as a record of her times, and of many who were prominent figures in them, but from the picture they naturally give of a simple, honest, generous, high-minded character, filled from youth to age with love and goodwill to her fellow-creatures, and a desire for their highest good.

An admirable collection of Miss Edgeworth's letters was printed after her death by her stepmother and lifelong friend, but only for private circulation. As all her generation has long since passed away, her family now permit that these letters should be read beyond the limits of their own circle. An editor has had little more to do than to make a selection, and to write such a thread of biography as might unite the links of the chain.

AUGUSTUS J. C. HARE.

CONTENTS | 1767 - 1787