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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Gentlewomans Companion, an electronic edition. Edited with an introduction by Katherine Ellison

by Anonymous

date: 1673
source publisher: Printed by A. Maxwell for Dorman Newman
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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Of the Gait or Gesture

IT is an easie matter to gather the disposition of our heart, by the dimension of our Gait46 . A light carriage most commonly discovers a loose inclination; as jetting and strutting, shew haughtiness and self-conceit. Were your Bodies transparent, you could not more perspicuously display your levity than by wanton Gesticulations.

Decency, when she seeth Women, whose modesty should be the Ornament of their beauty, demean themselves in the streets or elswhere, more like an Actoress, than Virtue's Imitatress; she endeavours to reclaim them, by bidding them look back to preceding times, and there they shall find Women (though Pagans) highly censured, for that their outward carriage only made them suspected. A Vail47 (no Vizard-mask48 ) covered their face, modesty measured each step, and so circumspect were they in general of their carriage, lest they should become a scandal or blemish to their Sex.

Their repair to their (prophane) Temples was decent, without any loose or light Gesture; and having entred them, constant and setled was their behaviour. Quick was their pace in the dispatch of economick or houshold affairs, but slow in their Epicurean visits, or extravagent Gossipings. How much more should you in these purer Christian times affect that most which most adorns and beutifieth? Eye your feet, how they who so proudly exalt themselves on the surface of the Earth, are but Earth, and are the daily Porters49 which carry their earthly frame nearer its Earth.

With what apish gestures some walk, to discover their lightness; others like Colosso's 50 , discovering their ambition and haughtiness? How punctually these, as if they were Puppets, who are beholding for their motion to some secret Artifice? These unstaid dimensions, argue unsettled dispositions. Such as these, discretion cannot prize, nor found judgment praise. Vulgar opinion, whose applause seldom receives life from desert, may admire what is new; but


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discretion only that which is neat. Having thus soken what is requisite in Gesture, I shall next treat how the Eye ought to be governed.

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Notes

Page 12 - 46. 'Gait': manner of walking.

Page 12 - 47. 'Vail': veil.

Page 12 - 48. 'Vizard-mask': a mask worn to disguise the face, used pejoratively here to emphasize the negative, underlying suggestion of excessive ornamentation. Vizard masks, for example, were commonly worn by prostitutes.

Page 12 - 49. 'Porters': bearers.

Page 12 - 50. 'Colosso's': derived from Colossus of Rhodes, a bronze statue of Helios, the sun god. "Colosso's" here is used loosely to refer to any person who places undue weight on stature.

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