Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2009
it is the peculiar advantage of woman's interference, that its sphere of action is all-pervading, and that its applicability commences there where all other agencies have no prise or lever to act upon.Lady Morgan The Princess (1835)
a scene got up is always well worth a case stated.Lady Morgan The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys (1827)
“Politics can never be a woman's science,” Morgan declared early in her career, “but patriotism must naturally be a woman's sentiment.” What made patriotism “naturally” a sentiment for Morgan, as for her compatriot Edmund Burke, was its roots in the intimate sphere of the local and domestic. Domestic affections expanded into “sentiments of national affection,” establishing a national-cultural whole in which forms of public subjectivity were not only continuous with but grew out of the private sphere of the conjugal family. But even as Morgan continued to authorize her writing in terms of an acceptable “female patriotism” throughout her career (as in the preface to her last Irish tale The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys), her national tales increasingly began to interrogate the smooth flow from private to public implied by this model, troubling rather than consolidating the domestic articulation of women and nation rapidly, if not always straightforwardly, achieving prominence in post-Revolutionary Britain.