The Two Guardians
In putting forth another work, the Author is anxious to say a few words on the design of
these stories; not with a view to obviate criticism, but in hopes of pointing to the moral,
which has been thought not sufficiently evident, perhaps because it has been desired to
convey, rather than directly inculcate it.
Throughout these tales the plan has been to present a picture of ordinary life, with its
small daily events, its pleasures, and its trials, so as to draw out its capabilities of being
turned to the best account. Great events, such as befall only a few, are thus excluded, and
in the hope of helping to present a clue, by example, to the perplexities of daily life, the
incidents, which render a story exciting, have been sacrificed, and the attempt has been to
make the interest of the books depend on character painting.
Each has been written with the wish to illustrate some principle which may be called the
key note. "Abbeychurch" is intended to show the need of self-control and the evil of
conceit in different manifestations; according to the various characters, "Scenes and
Characters" was meant to exemplify the effects of being guided by mere feeling, set in
contrast with strict adherence to duty. In "Henrietta's Wish" the opposition is between
wilfulness and submission--filial submission as required, in the young people, and that of
which it is a commencement as well as a type, as instanced in Mrs. Frederick Langford.
The design of the "Castle Builders" is to show the instability and dissatisfaction of mind
occasioned by the want of a practical, obedient course of daily life; with an especial view
to the consequences of not seeking strength and assistance in the appointed means of
And as the very opposite to Emmeline's feeble character, the heroine of the present story
is intended to set forth the manner in which a Christian may contend with and conquer
this world, living in it but not of it, and rendering it a means of self-renunciation. It is
therefore purposely that the end presents no great event, and leaves Marian
unrecompensed save by the effects her consistent well doing has produced on her
companions. Any other compensation would render her self-sacrifice incomplete, and
make her no longer invisibly above the world.
October 14th, 1852.