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

Of the Government of the Eye.

As prudence is the eye of the Soul, so Discretion is the apple of that Eye but as for the natural Eyes, they are the Casements of the Soul, the Windows of Reason: As they are the inlets of Understanding, so they are the outlets or discoverers of many inward corruptions. A wanton Eye is the truest evidence of a wanring and distracted mind. As by them you ought not to betray to others view, your imperfections within; so be not betray'd by their means, by vain objects without: This made the Princely Prophet pray so earnestly, Lord turn away my eyes from vanity. And hence appears our misery, that those eyes which should be the Cisterns of sorrow, Limbecks of contrition, should become the lodges of lust, and portals of our perdition. That those which were given us for our Assistants, should become our Assassinates.

An unclean Eye, is the messenger of an unclean Heart; wherefore confine the one, and it will be a means to rectifie the other. There are many Objects a wandring Eye finds out, whereon to vent the disposition of her corrupt heart.

The ambitious Eye makes Honour her object wherewith she torments her self, both in aspiring to what she cannot enjoy; as likewise, in seeing another enjoy that whereto her self did aspire. The covetous makes Wealth her object; which she obtains with toil, enjoys with fear, forgoes with grief; for being got, they load her; lov'd they soil her; lost, they gall her. The envious | | 40 makes her Neighbours flourishing condition her object; she cannot but look on it; looking, pine and repine at it; and by repining, with envy, murders her quiet and contentment. The loose or lascivious makes Beauty her object; and with a leering look, or wanton glance, while she throweth out her lure to catch others, she becomes catcht her self.

Gentlewomen, I am not insensible, that you frequent places of eminency for resort, which cannot but offer to your view variety of pleasing Objects. Nay, there where nothing but chast thoughts, staid looks, and modest desires, should harbour, are too commonly loose thought, light looks, and licentious desires in especial honour. The means to prevent this malady, which like a spreading Canker disperseth it self in all Societies, is to abate your esteem for any earthly Object. Do you admire the comeliness of any Creature? Remove your Eye from thence, and bestow it on the contemplation of the superexcellency of your Creator.

Put a check to the stragling disposition of your eyes, lest Dinah-like, by straying abroad you are in danger of ravishing. Now to preserve purity of heart, you must observe a vigilancy over every sense; where, if the Eye which is the light of the body be not well disposed, the rest of the Senses cannot chuse but be much darkned. Be assured, there is no one sense that more distempers the harmony of the mnd, nor prospect of the Soul, than this window of the body. It may be said to open ever to the Raven, but seldom to the Dove. Roving affections, it easily conveys to the heart; | | 41 but Dove-like innocence, it rarely retains in the breast. The very frame of your eyes may sufficiently inform you how to govern and guide them. For it is observed by the most curious Oculifts that wheres all irrational Creatures have but four Muscles to turn their Eyes round about; Man alone hath a fifth to draw his Eyes up to Heaven. Do not then depress your Eyes as if Earth were the Center of their happiness, but on Heaven the Haven of their bliss after Earth. To conclude, so order and dispose your looks, that censure may not tax them with lightness, nor an amorous glance impeach you of wantonness. Send not forth a tempting Eye to take another; nor entertain a tempting look darting from another. Take not, nor be taken. To become a prey to others, will enslave you, to make a prey of others will transport you. Look then upward, where the more you look, you shall like; the longer you live, you shall love. From the management of the Eyes let us next proceed to Speech.

<< Section Section >>