- Museum number
- Object: Keep within Compass and you shall be sure, to avoid many troubles which others endure
A companion print to BMSat 6903. A young woman stands within a compass inscribed 'Fear God', holding an open book inscribed 'The Pleasures of Imagination Realized'. At her feet is an open chest full of guineas from which hang bank-notes and jewels; it is inscribed 'The Reward of Virtue'. A small dog stands beside her. In the background (right) is a country house, on the left farm-buildings and haystacks. The four corners are filled (as in BMSat 6903) with the disasters which beset the woman who does not 'keep within compass'. (1) A woman weeps dejectedly with cards and an empty purse on the ground at her feet. (2) A drunken woman lets an infant fall from her arms; on the wall is a torn print inscribed 'Domestic Happiness'. (3) A woman is being conducted to the watch-house by two watchmen, one with his lantern, the other with a rattle. (4) She beats hemp in Bridewell, a man standing behind her with a whip, as in Hogarth's 'Harlot's Progress'. The words round the circle are the same as in BMSat 6903. Beneath the circle is inscribed 'Prudence produceth esteem'. Below the design four verses are engraved, the first:
'Instead of Cards my Fair-one look,
(I beg you'll take it kind)
Into some learned Author's Book,
And cultivate your mind.' 1785
Mezzotint with hand-colouring
- Production date
Height: 350 millimetres
Width: 249 millimetres
- Curator's comments
This print entitled 'Keep within Compass' and its companion (see below) encouraged men and women to uphold traditional values. Wealth, in the form of gold coins and stock certificates, overflows the strongbox, inscribed the ‘Reward of Virtue’. It lies at the feet of the confident, well-dressed woman of ‘good-character’. In contrast to her own self-discipline, the corners of the image depict the perils and pitfalls of ‘fallen’ women, who have traded their integrity for idleness, drink and prostitution. Their fall, ultimately, leads to imprisonment in Bridewell Prison, where they spend their days beating hemp.
The accompanying male print (see P&D 1935,0522.3.62) substitutes industry for virtue, found in the woman’s print. Moralistic teachings played an increasingly dominant role in 18th century England, as metropolitan life offered a bewildering array of temptations. Contemporary conduct manuals, biographies and novels aimed at impressionable young people included similar themes.
It is an example of a ‘posture’ print, cheerfully coloured pictures accompanying a few lines of song, popular in the 1790s.
For a plate in the British Museum with the same image see BEP 1891,1211.1.
(Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
The original water-colour is in the Print Room; the design in the circle, but not the corner designs, reversed. Reproduction, 'Apollo', xiv. 100 (Aug. 1931).
A companion pair to BMSat 6903.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 Oct-Dec, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Popular Print in England
2001 Feb-Apr, Glasgow, Hunterian AG, Popular Print in England
2001 Apr-Jun, Manchester, Whitworth AG, Popular Print in England
2001 Jun-Aug, Bradford, Cartwright Hall, Popular Print in England
2018 12 Jan-11 Mar, BM, 90a, Pots with Attitude: British satire on ceramics
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number