Letter I. Yverdun, Oct. 1, 1818
My dear Greaves,
You require of me to point out to you, in a series of letters, my views concerning the development of the infant mind. I am happy to see that you acknowledge the importance of education in the earliest stage of life: a fact that has almost universally been overlooked. The philanthropic efforts, both of a former age, and of our own, have been directed in general to the improvement of schools, and their various modes of instruction. It will not be expected that I should say anything tending to depreciate such endeavours: the greater part of my life has been devoted to the arduous aim at their combination; and the results and acknowledgments I have obtained, are such as to convince me that my labour has not been in vain. But I can assure you, my dear friend, from the experience of more than half a century, and from the most intimate conviction of my heart, founded upon this experience, that I should not consider our task as being half accomplished, I should not anticipate half the consequences for the real benefit of mankind, as long as our system of improvement failed to extend to the earliest stage of education: and to succeed in this, we require the most powerful ally of our cause, as far as human power may contribute to an end which eternal love and wisdom have assigned to the endeavours of man. It is on this altar that we shall lay down the sacrifice of all our efforts; and if our gift is to be accepted, it must be conveyed through the medium of (maternal love).
Yes! my dear friend, this object of our ardent desires will never be attained but through the assistance of (the mothers). To them we must appeal; with them we must pray for the blessing of Heaven; in them try to awaken a deep sense of all the consequences, of all the self-denials, and of all the rewards attached to their interesting duties! Let each take an active part in that most important sphere of influence. Such is the aspiration of an aged man, who is anxious to secure whatever good he may have been allowed to promote or to conceive. Your heart will unite with his: I feel it will. I shake hands with you, as with one who fervently embraces this cause - not my cause, nor that of any other mortal, - but the cause of Him, who would have the children of his creation, and of his providence, led to himself in the ways of love.
Happy should I be, if I might one day speak through your voice to the (mothers of Great Britain). How does my glowing heart expand at the opening prospect which has this moment filled my imagination! To behold a great and mighty nation, known of old to appreciate with equal skill the glory of powerful enterprise, and the silent joys of domestic life, intent upon the welfare of the rising generation; establishing the honour and happiness of those who shall one day stand in their place; securing to their country her glory and her liberty, by a moral elevation of her children! And shall (not the heart of a mother bound in the consciousness that she too is to have her share in this immortal work?) (PSW 26, p. 47-48)