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

The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex, an electronic edition

by Hannah Woolley [Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670]

date: 1675
source publisher: Printed by A. Maxwell for Edward Thomas
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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The Introduction

| | 1 The right Education of the Female Sex, as it is in a manner everywhere neglected, so it ought to be generally lamented. Most in this depraved later Age think a Coman learned and wife enough if she can distinguish her Husbands Ben from anothers. Centainly Mans Coul cannot boast of a more sublime Original than ours, they had equally their esslux from the same eternal Immensity, and therefore capable of the same improvement by good Education. Vain man is apt to think we were meerly intended for the Worlds propagation, and to keep its humane inhabitants sweet and clean; but, by their leaves, had we the fame Literature, he would find our brains as fruitful as our bodies. Hence I am induced to believe, we are debarred from the knowledg of humane learning, left our pregnant Wits should rival | | 2 to wring conceits of our insulting Lords and Masters.

Pardon the Severity of this expression, since I intend not thereby to insose bitter Rebellion into the sweet blood of Females; for know, I ould have all such as are enter'd into the honourable state of Matrimony to be loyal and loving Subjects to their lawful (thought lording) Husbands. I cannot but complain of, and must condemn the great negligence of Parents, in letting the fertile ground of their Daughters lie sallow, yet send the barren Noddles of their Sons to the University. Where they stay for no other purpose than to fill their empty Sconces with idel notions to make a noise in the Country.

Pagans of old may reach out. Christian Parents a new lesson. Edesia, an infidel, taught her Daughters Learning and Morality. Cornelia, hers (with the Greek Tongue) piety. Portia, hers (with the learning of the Egyptians) the exemplary grounds of Chastity, Sulpitia, hers (with the knowledg of several Languages) the precepts of conjugal Unity. These, though Ethnicks, were excellent informers of youth; so that their Children were more bound to them for their breeding than bearing, nurturing than nursing. Emulation of goodness is most commendable; and though you cannot hang up the pictures of these worthy persons, so that their Children were more bound to them for their breeding than bearing, nurturing than nursing. Emulation of goodness is most commendable; and though you cannot hang up the pictures of these worthy persons, so that their memories may live with you; however, imitate their Virtues, that their memories may live fresher in you. All memorials, being materials, be they never so durable, are subject to frailty; on the precious monuments of Virtue survive time, and breath eternity.

| | 3 Thus as ye take good example from others, be ye Mother-patterns of Virtue to your Daughters: Let your living actions be lines of their direction. While they are under your command, the error is yours not theirs, if they go astray. Their honour should be one of the chiefest things you are to tender, neither can it be blemish'd without some soil to your own credit.

I have know some inconsiderate Mothers and those none of the lowest rank and quality, who either out of the confidence of their Daughters good carriage, or drawn with the hopes of some rich Suitors to advance their Marriage, have usually given too free way to opportunity, which brought upon their Daughters name a spreading infamy. Suffer not then those who partake of your image, to lose their best beauty. Look then to your own actions, these must inform them look to your own examples, these must confirm them: Without you, they cannot perish; with you they may. What will you do with the rest that is left, when you see a part of your self lost.

There is no instruction more moving, than the example of your living. By that line of yours they are to conform their own. Take heed then lest the damp of your own life extinguish the light of your Childrens. As you are a kind Mother to them be a careful Monitor about them; and if your business will permit, teach them your self, with their letters, good manners. For there is an in-bread, filial fear in Children to their Parents, which will beget in them more attention in hearing, and retention in holding what they hear. But if it be inconsistent with your conveniency, and that | | 4 you must commit the Tutelage and Education of your Children to a Governess, give me leave to inform you what she ought to be.

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