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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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Of a young Gentlewomans deportment to her Governess and Servants in the Family

If your Parents have committed you to the care and tuition of a Governess in the house with you, think with yourself, that this person whom I must now call my Governess, is one whom my Father and Mother have elected and entertainèd for my education, to lessen their own trouble, but not their tender care of me. Therefore if I obey her | | 26 not in all things requisite, I transgress the commands of my loving Parents, and displease God in abusing their kindness.

Next, consider within your self, that this person who is constituted the guide of my actions, is such a one as they are confident either in their own judgments, or those who have recommended her, to be fit in all points to perform this charge committed to her; therefore in obedience to them I must and will obey her, and follow those good examples and precepts she shall lay down for my better information.

If she seem somewhat harsh, reservèd, and abridgeth your freedom, yet let not your green years be too forward in condemning her, nor let not the ill counsel of inferior servants perswade you against her; lest by so doing you betray your want of reason and good nature, and detract from your parents worth care for you.

If you have just cause of complaint, yet speak not maliciously against her, but truly and opportunely impart your grief; by this means she will be either removed from you, or regulated by their commands. Be sure therefore that your complaints be just, lest you should have one in her stead who may more justly desreve your censure, and so make your self unhappy by your Parents fears of having a child that is refractory. Besides, think thus with your self, that too often complaining makes dull and careless the Auditor; and instead of extracting compassion, it creates a jealousie of an ill disposition.

If your Governess be a Woman in years, honour her the more; if young, you may promise | | 27 your self more freedom with her; yet if I may advise, I would not have a person too young to have such a charge, for they will have sufficient to do to govern themselves, therefore the more unfit to govern others; besides youth will be the more easily induced to submit rather to their Elders than their Equals.

What I now declare, is the fruit of experience, having had too great a charge in this nature when I was very young; and do know how defective I wasthen in my duty, since I became a Mother of Children, having now more tenderness to youth; and can speak it knowingly, that a mild moderate way is to be preferred before rigorand harshness, and that correction of words is better than that of blows.

Give me leave, Gentlewomen, to wish you a good Governess, not such a one as I have been, but as I could or would be now. I can now with a greater sense look back upon my faults, than I could discern them when fist committed: Thus much to your Governess. Now to your Maid who is to dress you.

Be not peevish or froward to her, but sweetly accept her endeavours, and gently admonish her of her neglects or errors; if she be good-naturèd and willing to please, this carriage will oblige and command a constant dilligence from her; other wise you will cause her to serve you only for her own ends, and with an eye-service; and whilst you are making a wry face in the Glass, she will make another behind your back.

Be courteous to all the Servants belonging to your Parents, but not over-familiar with any of them, | | 28 lest they grow rude and fancy with you; and indeed too much familiarity is not good with any, for contempt is commonly the product thereof.

If you can do any Servant good in any thing, either in mitigating your Parents anger towards them, or presenting their humble petition for them be not slick in so doing, for by this means you will purchase to your self both love and honour.

If any poor body sue to you to beg in their names that which is not unfit for them to ask, do not deny them, and God will not deny you your request; Do good to all, and turn not your face away from the indigent, but let your charity extend to their relief and succour.

Be courteous to all people inferior to your quality; but in such a way, that they may know you understand your self, and this will be a sweet kind of commanding reverence from them, and will give you the character of a good and humble spirit; assure your self it is better to be good than great. Majesty mixt with mmodesty and humility forcibly commands the service of all; but pride and imperiousness, though in a great person, breeds scorn and comtempt in the heart and tongue even of the meanest Peasant. If God hath blest you with birth and forrtune above other, be sure your virtue shine with greater luster than others.

Despise not those who have not so great a portion of wit and wealth as you possess; but thing with your self, to whom the Lord gives much, he requires much from. As God made nothing in vain, so he gives nothing in vain. That person is not to be trusted, who doth not endeavour to improve | | 29 what he is intrusted withal. If you have wisdom, boast not thereof, but give God thanks and use it to his glory and your own comfort.

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