The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...

(Item #5207) The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales. Disabilities, Hurry Mrs, Poverty, Imperialism, Margaret.
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...
In attempting to present clear-cut answers to moral questions, an author presents children with a far more muddled view about disabilities, race, poverty, and imperialism
The Faithful Contrast; or, Virtue and Vice Accurately Delineated, in a series of Moral and Instructive Tales...

London: J. Harris, 1804. First edition. Contemporary sheep trade binding, measuring 170 x 100mm and collating [6], 215, [1, adverts]: rear endpaper excised, else complete including frontis. A nice, square copy with small splits to front joint near spine ends and along the rear. Contemporary ownership signatures of Thomas Fuller Waring and Wm. Waring (1817 and 1827 respectively) to front pastedown. Defaced signature to front endpaper. Additional ownership signature of A. Waring (1887) to header of title. Small marginal paper loss to outer edges of pages 177-180 not affecting text; internally fresh and unmarked. An uncommon work with contradictory messages about the relationships that disability, race, and nationality have on one's moral standing, we could locate 11 copies in OCLC with the present being the only example in trade.

Margaret Hurry's early life and resulting literary career were shaped by British imperialism. The daughter of a sailor, her marriage to Ives Hurry made her the wife of a founding member of marine insurance company Ives, Hurry & Co. When her husband was captured and imprisoned in Verdun during an expedition, she began to publish her stories as a means of supporting herself. The Faithful Contrast was one of these; and while her own life had introduced her to some of life's complexities, the stories within this collection reflect a desire to simplify moral questions into simple black-and-white solutions.

The role of physical disabilities, race, class, enslavement, and imperialism on one's value are all at question in Hurry's work. Aiming to reduce them down into contrasts that can guide and improve children's judgement, she achieves more complicated and muddles results. In Alfred & Henry; or The Deformity of Vice and the Loveliness of Virtue, two brothers are compared. Alfred, outwardly charming and attractive, seems like a potential hero over Henry, a boy with disabilities resulting from a childhood accident and an attack of small pox. Yet it is Alfred who turns out to bear the "deformity of vice." As he uses his physical appeal to take advantage of others -- always blaming his brother -- Henry proves to be more respected and happy in his adulthood. On the one hand, Hurry presents a progressive message; on the other, she finds Henry's moral value to be determined through his patient acceptance of the abuse heaped on him by the able-bodied brother.

Her story The Emigrants is no less fraught. As the privileged de Berval family flee to the West Indies to escape the French Revolution, they for the first time witness the "wretched days in bondage, in toil, and in suffering" of those people they have enslaved. Despite trying to build relationships with individuals such as Pierre and recognizing his wisdom, bravery, and knowledge of the land, the family nevertheless never examine their roles as enslavers. Rather, they grow to adulthood filled with self-congratulation for choosing not to use the harsh physical "whips, iron collars, and muzzles" deployed by their neighboring enslavers. Emancipation never occurs to them, and the reader is left questioning the moral value and humanity of the de Bervals.

Numerous of the stories raise complex issues -- about captivity, poverty, and power. The answers are never as clear cut as the title suggests.
(Item #5207)

Price: $1,750