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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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Advice to the Female youngersort:

Incline not to sloth, and love not to laze in bed, but rise early; having drest your self with decency and cleanliness, prostrate your self in all humility upon your bended knees before God Almighty, beseeching his Infinite Majesty to forgive you whatever sins you have committed in deed, word or thought; begging protection from the sin and evil of that day, and his holy assistance in the prosecution of good all the days of your life. Having said your Prayers, then on your knees ask your Parents Blessing; and what they shall appoint for your Breakfast, do you by no means dislike or grumble at; waste not too much time in eating thereof, but hasten to School, having first taken your leave of your Parents with all reverence. Do not loyter by the way; or play the truant; abuse none whom you meet, but be courteous and mannerly to all who speak with you.

| | 18 Leave not any thing behind which you ought to carry with you, not only things you Learn in or by, but also Gloves, Pocket-Handkerchiefs; and have a special care of any thing that may mischief you by the way.

When you come to School, salute your Mistress in a reverent manner, and be sure to mind what she injoyns you to do or observe. You cannot but live well if you conform to what you hear. Be not offended if your Governess advise you rather what is most fitting than what is most pleasing; for such is the property of a good Instructress. And these are to be entertained with such indeared respect, as their speeches (be they never so tart) should not incense you; nor their reproofs by they never so free distaste you; having done this, salute civilly your School fellows, and then apply your self to your book work, writing, or whatever else you are to learn.

Show not your ill-breeding and want of manners, by eating in the School, especially before your Mistress.

Mind what you are about, and neglect not what you are to do, by vain pratling in the School: make no noise, that you may neither disturb your Mistress, or School-fellows.

When you are called to read, come reverently to your Mistress, or any whom she appoints; avoid reading with a tone, huddle not over your lesson, but strive to understand what you read, and read so plainly, distinctly, and deliberately, that others may understand; if you are doubtful of a word, carefully spell it, and mistake not one word for another; when you have done, return, shewing your | | 19 reverence to your place. Whatever work you take in hand, do it cleanly and well, though you are the longer about it; and have a care of waiting or losing any thing that appeartains thereunto. Sit upright at your work, and do not lean or lol: and forbear to carry Children in your arms out of a wanton humour; for these whilst you are so young, may incline your body to crookedness. If you write, be careful you do not blot your paper; take pains in the true forming or cutting your letters, and endeavour to write true and well after your copy. Preserve your Pens, spill not your ink, nor slurt it on your own or others clothes, and keep your fingers from being polluted therewith.

Returning from School, make haste home, not gaping on every idle object you meet with by the way. Coming into the house, apply your self immediately to your Parents, and having saluted them according to your duty, acquaint them with what proficiency you have made in your learning that day, be not ablent when Dinner is on the Table, but present when Grace is said, and sit not down before you have done your obeisance to your Parents, and the company then present. Keep your Clothes from greasing, by pinning or keeping your napkin rite about you; and receive what is given you, thankfully. Be not talkative at Table, nay, nor do not speak, unless you are askt a question. Eat not your meat greedily, nor fill your mouth too full; and empty your mouth before you drink; and avoid smaking in your eating. Grease not your fingers as those that are slovenly up to the knuckles. You will show yourself | | 20 too faucy by calling for fawce or any dainty thing. Forbear putting both hands to your mouth at once; nor gnaw your meat, but cut it handsomely, and eat sparingly. Let your nose and hands be always kept clean. When you have dined or sup, rise from the table, and carry your trencher or plate with you, doing your obeisance to the company; and then attend in the room till the rest rise.

In the intervals of School-time, let your recreation be pleasant and civill, not rude and boisterous.

Sit not before your betters, unless you are so desired, and unless you are at meat, working, or writing.

Be no make-bate between your Parents and their Servants; tell not a lye in any café, nor mince it into a plausible excuse to save you from the hand of correction.

Going to bed, make no noise that may disturb any of the Family, but more especially your Parents; and before you betake you self to rest, commit yourself into the hands of the Almighty; desiring his infinite Majesty not only to watch over you in the night, but preserve you for, and assist you in the duties of the ensuing day.

If the Poor beg at your Father's door, though you cannot your self supply his necessities, yet you may do it by perswading your Father or Mother, which may be the sooner induced to it by observing your early and forward inclination to Chairty.

Get that Catechism the Government has made choice of for you, by heart; by the practice of which you will be enabled to perform your duty to God and man.

| | 21 Behave your self in the Church reverently; giving an awful regard to what sacred truths the Minister shall deliver for your future observation and practice; and do not proclaim publickly to the whole Congregation your levity and vanity by laughing, talking, pointing with your finger, and nodding, or your careless contempt of Gods word by drowsiness or sleeping.

Do not despise the aged, but rather honour them for their antiquity ; and indeed you have but little reason to contemn old people if you ; consider this, that you will be old if God shall think fit to ; continue your days to the length of theirs, and therefore would ; not be so ferv'd your self.

God inable you to observe and practice what I have here already laid down, and give you yielding hearts to the exercise of what shall hereafter follow, to the glory of God, the unspeakable comfort of your Friends, & eternal salvation of your immortal Souls.

Thus I have given you general instructions as to your learning and deportment: Give me now leave to insist in particular on the duty you owe your Parents.

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