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that Scotland might bear comparison with any country in the amount of moral and religious influence exercised by mothers over their sons; but in my search for direct and striking proofs of such influence, I have been far from successful.
Again, I have had kind and liberal offers of facts supplied from the private history of some celebrated men now living; but having commenced my present work upon a plan which did not admit of such facts being inserted, I have been compelled to deny myself the pleasure, and my book the advantage, of such valuable and interesting additions.
All that I dare hope, therefore, in offering these inv perfect sketches to the public, is that the suggestive nature of the subject itself, and the deep and earnest feeling it is calculated to excite, may awaken in other minds a desire, not only to trace out yet further these precious records of the past; but so to observe, as to bring into greater prominence that maternal influence which has helped to form the characters of the great men of the present day.
MOTHERS OF GREAT MEN.
The subject to which the following pages are devoted is one that has long occupied the mind of the writer; and it loses none of its interest in consequence of having been recommended to her attention by those who are well qualified to judge of its importance and value. It is one thing, however, to feel that a subject is worthy of our highest efforts; it is another to render those efforts available for the practical benefit of others. To expatiate upon the mother's influence in cultivating the germs of future greatness in the character of her child, would seem at once the most noble and the most inspiriting occupation in which a writer could be engaged. It would seem, also, to combine all that is most calculated to awaken the warmest sympathies of the human heart. Such, however, is not so much my object in the present undertaking, aa to collect and exhibit a series of instances tending to illustrate that great fact in human experience—that the Author of our being has placed in the hands of
every mother a power with which she may direct and train her children, according to the deliberate purpose of her own heart.
In attempting to do this, some mothers may fail from ignorance of the most appropriate means. Others may fail from causes inevitable to their own position and circumstances. But whether a far greater number do not fail to instil the principles of greatness into the characters of their children, from the absence, on their part, of all definite purpose whatever, is a question of vast importance to those who take upon themselves the responsibility of maternal duty.
My intention in pursuing the subject here selected is chiefly to show what this strong purpose on the mother's part can actually do. In carrying out the plan of the work, it will not be necessary that any new facts should be brought before the attention of the reader. A selection from such as have been generally received will sufficiently answer the purpose contemplated. Neither docs it follow that all the great men to whom allusion will be made shall have been good men; or that the mothers to whose influence their peculiar tone of character may be attributed shall have been women whose conduct in all respects could be held up for imitation. In some cases it may be necessary to show the sad consequences which ensue from the total absence of this influence, or the still sadder consequences of its abuse. Many instances also may have to be so slightly glanced at as scarcely to supply more than a bare statement of certain facts. But, whatever may be the mode of treatment adopted, the end kept steadily in view will be the same. The strong