London: J. Harris & Son, 1822. First edition. Original quarter roan over printed paper boards. Rubbing and finger soiling to spine and edges of boards, with small crack to top corner of front cover. Front hinge cracked at the foot but holding well. Bookseller's ticket of William Whyte of Edinburgh to front pastedown. Contemporary ownership signature to front endpaper: "Cornelia Mattelle. March 14, 1823." Child's pencil drawing of a woman on rear endpaper. Some scattered foxing throughout, else internally clean and unmarked. A scarce children's education book, Claudine is reported at only 18 institutions according to OCLC; this is presently the only copy on the market.
"Little is known of the life of Maria Elizabeth Budden, but in the early years of the 19th century she gained a reputation as a writer for children, both via her didactic fiction and her True Stories series of history books intended for the young. Her books promote home precepts of obedience, industry, humility, and striving for self-improvement, invariably insisting that these are the only way to virtue and therefore to happiness" (Course). Her books were in such demand that for a time she was producing a minimum of one novel a year for her publisher John Harris. Works like Claudine, which follows a young female protagonist as she learns lessons about humility and generosity, fall into a category of "new children's literature that was being presented not simply as something for children to read, but as a tool for home-schooling parents" and in one of Budden's own works she "advised mothers to read the book to herself, and give her children the information it contains" (Bellaigue). Budden's work like others of "the new children's literature was of and for the domestic household [and] it was also almost always about the home...instead of those wild fictions of the Wonderful, in which their understanding is too commonly bewildered, child readers will here see only what occurs or may occur within the limits of their families" (Berquin). In the present narrative, Claudine is a helpful little girl who assists in the caretaking of her younger siblings and the household tasks of her mother. "Claudine, young, feeble, poor, had no means of exhibiting the more splendid virtues. But every day she had the opportunity, and never did she want the will, of shewing a good temper, a kind heart, the desire to please and obey." Yet even a seeming paragon like Claudine, as Budden shows, has areas of weakness and the need to improve. Through wartime sorrows and economic hardship, she continually grows and increases her knowledge about the goodness of others. She learns about the dangers of dishonest and profligate men. She learns to avoid needless pomp in dressing and decorating. And she learns about generous judgment: "Another time I will not judge people by their looks or features, but wait to hear their sentiments and observe their actions." A young adult novel designed to make family reading an opportunity for education and behavioral training. (Item #2964)