BARRY, Edward (Rev). Essays on Celibacy, Wedlock, Seduction, Pride, Duelling, Self-Murder, Lying, Detraction, Duplicity, Avarice, Generosity, Temperance, Excess, Prosperity, Adversity, Justice, Mercy, Death, Judgment to which are added a letter on the brutal practice of Boxing London, Printed for the Author, [c.1795].
8vo. Contemporary tree calf, spine gilt-panelled with floral decoration, red spine label with title gilt; pp. xxiv, 300 [1, ad]; front external hinge split, but holding firm, corners and spine with some rubbing, faded text to pages 241, 245 & 248, but otherwise internally clean.
A collection of essays opining on a vast array of controversial subjects, in which words are frequently in capitals for EFFECT or italics for impact.
In Celibacy, he claims that to be celibate is selfish, because you're just avoiding being as miserable as the rest of us.
In Wedlock, he says that people really need to get married as early as possible, mostly because no-one can be trusted not to "fall into sin" at the first opportunity and it is the only way to stop the entire country literally going to hell.
In Seduction, he gets very angry at men AND women and mentions rather unsubtly that the Athenian punishment for adultery involved removing peoples' eyes.
In Duelling he suggests instead of murdering each other, people should set up a nation of Guardian Societies who would try people over various accusations in a civilian court and exile them from society instead.
In Self-Murder he insists that nothing in life could possibly be quite as bad as what is waiting for people who kill themselves in hell.
In Excess he rather colourfully describes a hangover in suspicious detail and then asks what could possibly convince someone to keep drinking after experiencing such a thing.
In Judgment we receive a rather intense description of the inevitable Judgment Day, which the good Reverend seems to believe will involve a great deal of fire, "horrid thunder and lightning", "prodigious earthquakes", "the howling yells of afflicted men and beasts", "ghastly and grim apparitions" and so on.
There are many other essays, all with rather unusual or entertaining opinions on how people are inadequate.
The last essay takes the form of a letter concerning the barbaric practice of boxing. The Englishman, it claims, is too civilised to knowingly take part in such a blood sport - no, the participants have become so poisoned by sin that they might as well be animals. This letter is rather interesting for distinguishing boxing (with its lack of a bladed weapon) as a traditionally English form of duelling, whilst also noting that the lack of a lethal weapon does not make it any less dangerous a practice. It also dismisses learning to box as a form of self-defence, asserting that the deterrent of a pistol is far more effective and practical.