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The Voyage of Matrimony A Study for Youth.

  • Author: FORES, Samuel William
  • Date: 1826
  • Dimensions: Map: 22.8 x 31.2 cms / Sheet: 24.9 x 35 cms.


Early 19th Century London printseller Samuel Fores’ exceedingly rare Regency chart of the “Voyage of Matrimony”

About this piece:

The Voyage of Matrimony A Study for Youth.

Original wash colour. Slight browning & paper toning to blank margin just outside neat line border and below title, seemingly caused by prolonged exposure to natural light when in previous window mount. With all an attractive well-preserved example of this exceptionally rare matrimonial map. Additional Imprint [L c]: Pubd May 1826 by S W Fores, Corner of Sackville St Piccadilly.

Samuel William Fores [1781-1838] was one of the leading print sellers of late 18th and early 19th Century London, making a particular speciality of singly issued hand coloured satirical prints and caricatures. From 1795 he was based at premises at No.50 Piccadilly (later renumbered No.41) located on the corner of Sackville Street. Fores’ business took off during the French Revolutionary period. He also attracted clients to his premises by advertising such lurid items as a 6 foot working model of a French guillotine and the head and hand of Count Struenzee, who was beheaded in Denmark (very probably plaster casts !).

Fores himself was married twice, his first wife dying in 1797. He is reputed to have had between fourteen and seventeen children from his two marriages. Two of the children from his second marriage had unusually patriotic names. After the Battle of Trafalgar one son was christened Horatio Nelson, whilst after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, another was named Arthur Blücher, in joint tribute to the victorious Iron Duke (Wellington) and his important Prussian ally.

Fores’ shop in Piccadilly proved a magnet for numerous high society clients, his second wife Jane [1772/3 -1840] being especially popular with regular customers, amongst whom were to be found Lord Nelson, the Duke of Queensberry, and the exiled Duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe, who actually rented an apartment above the premises. Fores himself died in February 1838 and is interred in the family vault on the Jermyn Street side of St.James’s Church, Piccadilly. His will was proved on 9th November 1838 [TNA, Prob 11/1902/390]. The business continued as Messrs Fores after his death, under the direction of two of his sons, George Thomas Fores [1806-1858] and Arthur Blücher Fores [1814-1883], focusing increasingly on sporting rather than satirical prints. The business continued in the hands of Arthur Blücher’s son and grandson and, as Fores Ltd, has remained a feature of the Piccadilly area landscape into the 21st Century.

This exceedingly scarce chart dates from 1826 and uses the device of a chart with the track of a voyage (on the Ship Perseverance, cargo love letters and Billet doux) on the Ocean of Life. The traveller sets out from Baby Land upper right, with its features, Cradle Bay, ABC Point, the Latin & Greek shoals (“difficult navigation”), Pt. Pretty Face, College Harbour, Pt. Revelry and Manhood Point. Skirting Isle First Impression, the Ship Perseverance pursues an erratic & haphazard course southward, through the more open waters of the Ocean of Universal Love, battered by conflicting winds of passion. Off the starboard bow, lies the Coast of Convenience or the Gold Coast. In its northernmost reaches can be found the District of Worth, with its village settlements of Modesty and Diffidence. Dominating the hinterland of the adjacent Country of Bliss is the fiery Volcano of Passions in the Mountains of Admiration. On the coastal plains, the twin settlements of Fortune Town (“great Nimrods here”) and Fashion Town (“the inhabitants said by travellers to walk on their heads”). Moving southward along the coastline, the principal topographical features include C.Hope, C.Beauty, Exclusive Pt, Proposal Bay, C.Settlement, Pinmoney Bay & C. Content. The Perseverance, guided by the beam of the Lighthouse of Mutual Confidence, finally makes landfall at Port Hymen, the harbour of the City of Marriage (“feebly defended”), which lies at the mouth of the Flattery River, which itself flows from the inland Lake of Selfishness. The City of Marriage sits astride the Equinoctial Line of Love in the exact centre point of the chart. To the South of the Equinoctial Line, the reader is offered a clear warning of the potential hazards and repercussions of a life of marital diversion, drunkenness, dalliance and infidelity. In contrast to the good ship Perseverance, another vessel plots an outward course southward departing from Port Hymen. It is identified only as the Ship Ranger, laden with clandestine correspondence on a secret expedition. The Ranger leaves Pt. Disagreement and Dispute & Contradiction Rocks in its wake. It proceeds southward via C.Indifference, The Gulph of Recrimination, and C.Neglect. Here the Ranger has to take particular care to avoid the enormous Whirlpool of Vice, in which is swallowed up honour, self esteem, morality &c.. He finally reaches C.Scandal (where the sailor will find “a strong current of example round this cape”), before proceeding to Remorse Island.The Ranger’s final demise comes with shipwreck on the Icebergs of Death, close to the South PoleOn land, the landscape of a life of immorality and dissipation is equally well delineated. Pathways lead from the City of Marriage, past Squabble Marsh & Peak Indiscretion and alongside the Forest of Affection (now “destroyed by the storms of Adversity”) under the dominant shadow of the nearby Volcano of Jealousy. Adjacent to the Lake of Extravagance & Beggary River, lies RoadtoruinTown, and the further scattered settlements of Gaming Town, Intrigue, Flirtation, Ruin Town, Misery Town and finally, the largest of all, Elopement Town, capital of the Province of Dissipation. This, the mapmaker notes, is The Chief town of the Country and inhabited by the Nobility. Famous for a species of monkey called Dandy. Lying offshore from the Coast of Indecision on which Elopement Town sits, the reader discerns the Island of Regret nae green, a clever wordplay on the destination for the vast majority of eloping English couples in the early 19th Century seeking a quick & easy marriage just across the border in Scotland. Here, under Scottish Law, all that was was required was a “marriage by declaration” or by “hand fasting”, which needed only two witnesses to be present and a declaration from the two parties that they were both over the age of 16. The ceremony was usually undertaken by the local smithy for a few guineas in the blacksmith’s forge of the Scottish Border village called Gretna Green.

The potential happiness of Married life is alluded to in a couple of locations within the map, though with no great enthusiasm from the author. Most notably the well-fortified bastion of the Country of Domestic Happiness appears in the lower right corner. It is described somewhat dismissively as “unexplored and little known” and as being “defended by ramparts of mutual Forbearance and Esteem“.

The decoration of the map is enhanced with an attractive oval cartouche upper right surmounted by a tied bow and roses, in which the figure of a miniature winged Cupid, carrying the eternal torch of Love in one hand, lifts a rolled Marriage settlement onto his shoulders, having just removed it from a opened document chest at his feet.

In all a wonderfully designed, exceedingly scarce, early 19th Century Matrimonial chart published by one of London’s leading print sellers of the day.

Refs: Samuel Fores,  Oxford DNB; Example in Yale University, Lewis Walpole Library Collection, Call No #826.05.00.03+