Maria Edgeworth`s The Absentee features one specific scene in which the heroine, Grace Nugent, asserts that she is "not a partisan, but a friend" of Ireland. I argue that this specific phrase is the novel`s main theme. As such, I explore the ways in which ``being a friend`` may differ from ``being a partisan`` of a certain country, and who may be qualified to be ``a friend`` to Ireland and why. Edgeworth suggests that anybody with a genuine affection for Ireland can be a friend of the country regardless of his or her national identity and religious background. A member of the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy with an extremely ambivalent subject position in relation to the Catholic populace of Ireland, Edgeworth defines affiliation to a country as based not on national identity but on a socio-cultural foundation, thereby advocating the desperately needed legitimacy of her own class. Edgeworth deliberately obfuscates her heroine Grace Nugent`s national identity, and demonstrates what she means by a ``friend`` to Ireland by constructing Nugent as an exemplary mistress of the Colambre estate both through her benevolent affection for the Irish people and her inner qualities as an ideal domestic woman.