Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
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

Table of Contents

<< Section Section >>

Display page layout

Good Instructions for a young Gentlewoman, from the age of Six to Sixteen.

| | 15 Shall suppose your Parents have not been so remiss in their duties as not to furnish your tender age with what it is capable of understanding; and therefore do not question but that you can read well, sow and write indifferently; but I would have, long before you arrive at your teens, your first age water'd with the wholsome and found doctrine of fearing God. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, that thou mayst have, with David, in thy later days, this comfortable testimony of thy felt, From my youth up have I loved thyLaw.

I cannot bewail enough the careless neglect of Parents in this matter, who think neither God nor Nature doth tye them to further regard of their Children than to afford them food, and make them strut in the fashion, learn them to dance and sing, and lastly lay up a considerable sum for some person whom they value by his greatness, nor his goodness; but how far that care falls short of what is required from Parents, I appeal to the sad effects thereof, profaneness towards God, and a contempt of his People and not only a daily breach of his holy Laws, but the Laws of a civil Society.

Above all things, let the fear of God be improved in you. Omit not by any means the duty of Prayer, Morning and Evening; and forget not to read some portion of the Scripture every day.

Be very cautious in the choice of your Companions, | | 16 and when your age adapts you for Society, have a care with whom you associate. If you tender your repute, you must beware with whom you consort, for report will bruit what you are by the company which you bear. Would you then preserve those precious odours of your good name consort with such whose names were never branded, converse with such whose tongues for immodesty were never taxed. As by good words evil manners are corrected; so by evil words, are good ones corrupted.

Make no reside there where the least occasion of lightness is ministred; avert your ear when you hear it, but your heart especially, left you harbour it.

It is proverbially said, Maids should be seen, not heard; not that they should not speak, but that they should not be too talkative. A Travelier sets himself out best by discourse, but a Maid is best set out by silence.

For your carriage, let it be in a Mediocrity, neither too precise, not too free. These simpring, made-faces, partake more of Chamber-maid than Gentlewoman.

Being grown up, you may possibly be wooed to interchange Favours; Rings on Ribbands may seem trifles, yet trust me they are no trisles that are aim'd at in those exchanges. Wherefore let nothing pass from you that may any way impeach you, or give others advantage over you. It is probable that your innocent credulity may be free from the conceit of ill as theirs from the intention of good? But these intercourses of Courtesies are not to be admitted, left by this familiarity an entry | | 17 to affection be opened which before was closed. It is dangerous to enter parley with a beleaguring-enemy; it implies want of weakness in the besieged.

Presuming on your own strength is a great weakness; and the ready way to betray your self to dangers, is to contemn them. Presumption is a daring sin, and ever brings out some untimely birth, which, Viper-like, is the destruction of its Parent. I shall desist here in this place from giving you more rules of caution and good behaviour having design'd another, wherein I intend a more copious relation.

<< Section Section >>